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Some quick reads for Friday:
Over at the Daily Beast, my former Dow Jones colleague Dick Tofel jumps into the paid-content fray with an interesting take on the Wall Street Journal and its model. He kicks another hole in the idea that charging for content means you can’t be part of the link economy — see the hole I tried to make here — though I’m compelled to note that the Journal’s parts-for-free, pay-for-whole hybrid model predates Rupert Murdoch by a good margin. He also says that “the vast majority of Journal subscribers now pay for their own subscriptions, in print and online,” which would torpedo one of the biggest reasons for claiming the Journal is unique in being able to charge.
Columbia Journalism Review has a fascinating read by Amanda Michel, the director of OffTheBus who’s now editor for distributed reporting at ProPublica. What really grabbed me is that Michel makes clear that OffTheBus didn’t start with a master plan so much as they learned and iterated on the fly, which is exactly the spirit of experimentation journalism needs right now. This sentence should also be thought-provoking, as it contains the seed of entire essays or even (old-media alert) books about where journalism may be going: “Transparency and disclosure, rather than neutrality — often tainted if not patently false — must become critical fourth-estate virtues.”
Finally, Mindy McAdams has a terrific series that walks you step-by-step through the basics of digital-era journalism tools, from starting a blog to podcasting to taking better photos. Part of the resistance to online tools among print journalists is the entirely human desire to not look foolish while struggling with technology. McAdams makes this stuff painless, getting you excited about the possibilities instead of frightened of the requirements.
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