Advice to Journalists (My Interview with Josh Benton)

At the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference last weekend, I was interviewed by my friend/colleague Josh Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, which is trying to answer the question of what the future of journalism should be.

 

Josh posted the interview this morning and as I listened (and read the transcript), I realized that I overstated my concern for journalists wearing many different roles in the stories they cover. I do believe that journalists have to be mindful of conflicts of interest, but there is a lot of room for journalists to write about subjects they have connections to as long as they are transparent and make the right disclosures. Speaking of disclosures and transparencies, I love both Malcolm Gladwell’s disclosure page (which is almost as long as a typical New Yorker article) and Jeff Jarvis’.

This is the beauty of online writing. You always get a chance to add to the record, which I did in the comments section of Josh’s post.  That’s my real lesson here – if you ever regret or want to revise something you said in an online interview, head straight over to the comments where you can clarify your point, especially if you were quoted in a place lots of journalists will be reading.

That all said, I liked the interview and hope it provides some useful tips to journalists trying to find their way in this new world. On a technological note, Josh used a flip video on a little tripod to do this and the quality is excellent. While we were talking there is a moment where I’m smiling slyly. That’s because there was a very loud something happening on the other side of the room and I thought it was going to render the whole interview unusable. Surprisingly, you can hardly hear the background noise.  

Josh also told me that he gets these interviews transcribed for a very small fee by posting a request on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a new marketplace for people looking for work and people looking to hire people to do tasks that can be done remotely. Has anyone else found Mechanical Turk useful — either as a user or a service provider?

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