In recent months, the world of journalism has seen an increased focus on “explainer” news sites. Examples include new sites like Vox, Newsbound, FiveThirtyEight and The Upshot by The New York Times. The demand for explanations in the news is growing. Taking a step back, I think it’s interesting to think about why it’s happening and what it could mean for the future. Let’s start with the goal: If you set out to explain something, your goal is to increase understanding. So, explainer news sites... Continue Reading
Newsbound is a startup creating news explainers in a unique visual format. I interviewed their Explainer-in-Chief last year. Newsbound founder Josh Kalven recently wrote about the need for explainers in the news and specifically, what’s missing from their use: But looking across the explanatory landscape, there’s a glaring problem. While the news industry is investing in topic-based explainers, it’s regularly failing to get the return it deserves. This isn’t due to lack of demand. News... Continue Reading
Based on suggestions and votes from Common Craft members, we just published a new video called Website Evaluation - Explained by Common Craft. About: This video walks through the basics of evaluating a website to find quality information. It encourages viewers to evaluate websites in the way an editor would review an article. By thinking like an editor, we can be our own gatekeeper and learn to find the most trustworthy information. It teaches: • Why editors matter in helping books and... Continue Reading
A while back I noticed that an organization called Newsbound posted a job opening for an "Explainer-in-Chief", a title I love to see. Curious, I followed Newsbound and eventually met Patrick Sharma, the person who now fills that role. He's been kind enough to answer a few questions and share a remarkable format the company is using to package explanations. 1. Tell me about Newsbound and your role there. What's the company's mission and story? Newsbound is a San Francisco-based digital media... Continue Reading
The new HBO show Newsroom, written by Aaron Sorkin, follows the lives of a team of TV journalists at a fictional news station called ACN. Instead of making up a constant stream of news for the show, Sorkin opted to set the show in the recent past and cover real-life events like the Gulf Oil Spill and the rise of the Tea Party. Some speculate that the show represents Sorkin’s vision of how the stories should have been covered in the news. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I do not wish to dwell on... Continue Reading
Jay Rosen has written article that I could quote 1000 times. It's called National Explainer: A Job for Journalists on the Demand Side of News. It focuses on the huge success of an episode of "This American Life" called The Giant Pool of Money, which serves to explain the US mortgage crisis. This episode has been downloaded 50,000 times more than any other episide. Why? Because the producers (Ira Glass and Alex Blumberg) focused on explanation instead of information. When we talk about... Continue Reading
Even though the Web makes us all feel like citizens of the world, what matters is often local. Our neighborhoods and neighbors have a huge impact. There is a brand-new platform, created by Instivate, a company run by one of our long-time friends and neighbors, that aims to give every neighborhood a site for sharing local news. It's called Instant Journalist. Here's the scenario: You sign up for Instant Journalist - it has a monthly fee that's linked to the size of the site. Right off the... Continue Reading
Sifry's Alerts: Media Frenzy I thought this was great. Dave Sifry (founder of Technorati) is at the DNC conference and observed this happen: Just had a few of the journalists present yell into the blogger group, asking, "Hey, does anyone know Kerry's Secret Service codename?" Through the looking glass. It could happen among traditional jouranlists too, but I thought this could be a snapshot of changing perceptions in action.