The most recent issue of Nieman Foundation's quarterly publication talked about news and neurology, the future of news, journalism education and news literacy, and bringing journalists and technologists together.
Brant Houston wrote about getting people to analyze and share public data for local reporting. Houston holds the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois, and said that digital tools can make both journalists and citizens into better community watchdogs.
Michelle McLellan of the Knight Digital Media Center wrote about finding 100 news sites that are creating content and revenue as a fellow at the University of Missouri. She saw that media such as niche and community sites are filling the gaps in the news ecosystem, as described by Knight's V.P. for Journalism Program Eric Newton, and predicted greater partnerships between journalists and community members but fewer sites that charge for access to news.
Burt Herman, a former John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford, talked about launching Hacks and Hackers with the New York Times' Aron Pilhofer and Northwestern professor Richard Gordon. The group is experimenting with ways to connect journalists and technologists around their strong beliefs in the need for freedom of information.
Krissy Clark, a former Knight fellow at Stanford, wrote that good journalism is like a map because it can inform people about where a story is and the best way forward. She said that journalists can filter through the information from sites like EveryBlock and use technology to 'reconnect people to place.'
Andrew Finlayson, another former fellow, talked about the semantic web. The semantic web is a system of linked data in development that are readable to computers, not just humans. An example of this is the WolframAlpha search engine that generates an answer instead of links to pages. Journalists will be able to use this system to organize data and find connections for investigative reporting.
V. Michael Bove, Jr. leads the Center for Future Storytelling at MIT's Media Lab. He studies the combination of shared experiences with media, like watching TV with friends, and personalized experiences, like watching it on an iPhone. He thinks that mobile technology will change the definition of successful media from whether it has a wide reach to whether it reaches a targeted audience. Also at MIT,'Sherry Turkle,'professor of technology and society, 'explained her views on young people, connectivity and deep thought'in interviews with PBS Frontline's 'Digital Nation' and the BBC.' (Knight funds the Center for'Future Civic Media at MIT.')
James Paul Gee, professor of literacy studies at Arizona State University, said that in games we learn by being guided whereas with content-driven media we learn by reflecting on what we are told. He said using games in journalism can help if the games' creators focus on what problems the player has to solve rather than what material the player has to read. Knight funds an entrepreneurial journalism center at ASU.
Nora Paul and Kathleen A. Hansen wrote about their research project called Playing the News. They studied how games could be used to tell 'boring but important' news and found that people wanted to be guided through ongoing stories. Sites with lots of contextual material helped people both see the big picture and get in-depth information. They used their findings in the Convergence Journalism class they teach at the University of Minnesota.' Nora and Kathleen won a Knight News Challenge grant to create the game.
Esther Wojcicki is the current Chair of the Board of Directors of Creative Commons and teaches high school journalism. She thinks all students need journalism skills, and received a Knight Foundation grant to develop a curriculum for high school English classes. Esther says it is important to give teenagers both freedom and recognition.
Alan C. Miller wrote about launching the News Literacy Project, which teaches high school students about the importance of First Amendment and finding valid information. Journalists visit classes to talk about their work and the lessons focus on critical thinking and recognizing quality information. Alan's start-up funds came from Knight Foundation.
Bob Giles, Curator of the Nieman Foundation, said that fairness in journalism is as important as ever. Reporting fairly, like respecting the wishes of the story subjects or looking at a controversial issue from different angles, makes stories more credible and makes them have a greater impact. Knight funds Latin American journalism fellows at Harvard.