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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Press Publish 5: C.W. Anderson on metro newspapers’ decline

The author of “Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age” talks about what he saw in Philadelphia as the business came tumbling down.

chanders-newIt’s Episode 5 of Press Publish, the Nieman Lab podcast! My guest this week is Chris Anderson, author of the new book Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age.

Chris — you’ll know his byline as C.W. Anderson, since contemporary American journalism and technology is silly with Chris Andersons — has written a book that looks at how the Philadelphia media market was affected by (and responded to) the rise of online journalism. He spent months inside the city’s major newsrooms, at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, and among the bloggers, startups, and other new players introduced to the media ecosystem by the web’s lowering of barriers to publication.

How did reporters’ conceptions of themselves change with the new competition for their audiences’ attention? How did they differentiate what they did from what others did — and who was willing to steal a few tricks from the bloggers? How did journalists take advantage (or not) of new opportunities to collaborate?

Chris and I had a good, vigorous discussion about how his thinking about traditional media institutions evolved during his research, about how Internet-native approaches to news had trouble penetrating the Inquirer building, and whether or not “post-industrial” really describes the phase journalism’s going through. (He also outs himself as a confirmed Weberian.)

Aside from this book and his other writing at Nieman Lab and elsewhere, Chris has been part of two of the most important state-of-the-news reports of recent years: 2009′s Downie-Schudson report (Chris was a research assistant on it) and 2012′s “Post-Industrial Journalism,” coauthored with Emily Bell and Clay Shirky. By day, he’s an assistant professor of media culture at CUNY’s College of Staten Island, a visiting fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project, and a Knight Media Policy Fellow at the New America Foundation.

This was a fun one — give it a listen.

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Show notes

C.W. Anderson

@chanders on Twitter

Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age

“How journalists’ self-concepts hindered their adaptation to a digital world,” an excerpt from Rebuilding the News

“The public is still a problem, and other lessons from Rebuilding the News,” Chris’ reflections on the book

Community organizing — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chris’s articles for Nieman Lab

Alternative media — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Democracy Now!

WBAI Free Speech Radio

Objectivity (journalism) — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Ethnography — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Haddon Township, New Jersey, “where community thrives”

The Wired City, Dan Kennedy’s upcoming book on local journalism in New Haven, Conn.

Herbert J. Gans, author of the classic ’70s news ethnography Deciding What’s News

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia Daily News

Alex Jones’ “iron core of journalism”

Len Downie and Michael Schudson’s 2009 report “The Reconstruction of American Journalism” (Chris was a research assistant on it)

“Post-Industrial Journalism,” the 2012 report by Chris, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky (see the section on institutions)

Nieman Lab gloss on “Post-Industrial Journalism”

“Local journalism’s vision of itself — as an institutionally grounded profession that empirically informs (and even, perhaps, ‘assembles’) the public — is a noble vision of tremendous democratic importance. But the unreflexive commitment to a particular and historically contingent version of this self-image now undermines these larger democratic aspirations.”

Philebrity

Mass media — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Publics — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Simon in 2009: “The day I run into a Huffington Post reporter at a Baltimore zoning board hearing is the day I will no longer be worried about journalism.”

My talk at Harvard Law in 2010 on journalists’ conception of aggregation

Will Bunch’s blog Attytood

Noblesse oblige

Philly.com, the joint site of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News

NetNewsCheck, Dec. 10: “Inquirer, Daily
News to split from Philly.com”

“Tuesday Q&A: Bill Marimow on his new old job, and the future of the Philadelphia Inquirer”

Charlie Beckett on networked journalism

PBS MediaShift’s Collaboration Central

Jeff Jarvis, 2007: “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.”

Max Weber — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“[Weber] notes that the instability of charismatic authority forces it to ‘routinise’ into a more structured form of authority.”

Philadelphia newspapers sold in 2006 for $515 million, in 2010 for $139 million, and in 2012 for $55 million

Photo by Jessica Kaufman.

                                   
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