Sunday, December 20, 2009

PRI's The World Geo Quiz Challenge Online Game!

Hi there. If you are interested in things global, have to put in a plug for a new online game that PRI has developed that was inspired by the Geoquiz segment on PRI's The World.

PRI: Public Radio International: National and World News, Talk, Arts, Entertainment and Music - PRI's The World Geo Quiz Challenge

How much do you know about places and events in The World, test your skill and see how you rate amongst all who are playing!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Rap on Public Radio and an Ode to Ira Glass!!!

How can Rap and Public Radio be in the same sentence? (and I am NOT talking about a public radio story about rap but a rap about pubilc radio!)

Yes, it is true!

Something fun for the weekend. Check out this cool rap by Adam WarRock about public radio, Ira, This American Life and how story telling is powerful in all our lives! The link includes story of how this came into being too...Ira Glass Rap!!!


Thanks Adam! Feel free to Rap about any PRI Show anytime! How about The World for an encore!?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ebook and Iran Vs Michael


I am officially launching my blog publicly today! You will see I have been populating this with posts over the last month so there is some meaty stuff to read. Thanks for coming!

What Matters Now

You have likely found your way to me based on my page in Seth Godin's "What Matters Now" ebook. See that PDF here: Seth's Godin's Ebook, What Matters Now.

I chose the word "Knowledge", because I am so passionate about building knowledge and insight through media. And so much of knowledge media is in trouble, so we must make change and now!

I think many of the ideas and insights in the ebook are pretty incredible, but there are a few that I really connect with, including: Dignity -page 8, Enrichment -page 16, Most -page 21, Power -page 29, Harmony -page 30, Compassion -page 33, Forever -page 37, Empathy -page 38, DIY -page 41, Dumb -page 43, THNX -page 47, Leap -page 64, Women -page 65, Mesh -page 71, I'm Sorry -page 76.

So, what about my essay and how does news shape our world? As I said, it is quite distorted, in fact, see below...

Pretty disturbing, eh? This map is based on my original research which was then fed into the cartography program created by Worldmapper. Check them out.

I developed some original analysis of TV news broadcast coverage in March of 2007 by CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC using the Vanderbilt University Television News Archive.

The map represents the total number of seconds of coverage dedicated to particular countries of the world, by reviewing and aggregating the stories told. The map's shape changes based on the volume of coverage. The Vanderbilt database includes coverage from the networks during the network evening news programs, and the "hardest" news program in the prime time on CNN, Andersen Cooper's 360. This data and analysis was then plugged into the Worldmapper algorithm, and voila, how news shaped our world that month! If you check out my TED speech, from my post on November 26th, 2009, and you can learn more about what that analysis and meta-research uncovered. Pretty shocking.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I will also be updating the "How the News Shapes Our World" map shortly. It will demonstrate how Michael Jackson's death, for the month of June (despite passing away at the end of the month), in fact, impacted the OVERALL average of what was reported on for the ENTIRE month. Become a follower of my blog and you will receive a notice when this important research and visual is posted.

IN THE MEANTIME, IRAN Vs. MICHAEL Coverage. (Iran Loses)

Recently, I used this same database to zero in how one news event can potentially affect the amount of coverage another event receives. So I did a piece of original analysis. In this case, how did Michael Jackson's death effect the coverage of Iran during the 48 hours before and after Michael's death. Really quite disturbing, to see how Iran coverage literally dropped of a cliff, despite important developments occurring there during that time. I will be looking at other major stories of that period as well to see whether Iran got the shaft more or less so. I would also be curious how social networking responded during this same period.... was the drop-off just as pronounced? Or did Iran hold its own better... thoughts anyone?

In terms of background, as you might recall, late June continued to be a critical time in Iran. The world was watching all that unfolded -- Twitter and Facebook were used to get information out, and news organizations scrambled to cover the elections and the protests in this incredibly important country to America's security and future.

And then, on June 25th, Michael Jackson died. As you would expect, this event took precedence over the continuing Iran story... but the overall decline of Iran coverage is absolutely shocking! This chart shows the number of seconds dedicated to Michael Jackson's death and Iran, two days preceding the death and two days afterwards. The data set: a minute by minute account, looking at the evening news and prime time CNN. The number of aggregate seconds of coverage across NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN are added together. This original analysis uses the Vanderbilt University Television News Archive data set.

Now you might say, but perhaps there wasn't a lot going on in Iran at that point? In fact, it remained a critical period in the crisis. And was just days before the Iranian Guardian Council certified the results of the controversial election (June 29, 2009). See the timeline of this critical period...

What will you find on this blog?

More broadly, what can you expect to find here? I look forward to blogging with you and talking about global news, journalism and storytelling that can change our world. I will also post original research or insights as I can. I have been working on these issues for some time. It is clear that models for objective journalism are in trouble. What is also clear is that much of journalism as we knew it, didn't do us justice in the first place.

Please join me!

I hope you enjoy browsing and will become a follower and contributor through commenting and suggesting ideas.

Most importantly, I look forward to our ongoing dialogue and I look forward to learning from you and problem solving together so we can make a difference!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Journalism and Transparency

I am wondering why so much of journalism doesn't exhibit the transparency it seeks in others.....

Friday, December 4, 2009

FTC Opening Comments...

Here are my opening comments from the panel on the future of journalism that I participated in earlier this week....

Opening Comments by Alisa Miller
“How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?” Workshop
Reducing the costs of journalism panel
The Federal Trade Commission
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to talk about what I believe is a incredibly important time for our democracy – how can we sustain quality trusted journalism in our county and the important role journalism plays in our society to inform, enlighten, hold power structures to account, and at its best, inspire people based on powerful story telling to live their lives better.

I am CEO of PRI, the public media network and organization focused on providing and creating global news and cultural perspectives, reaching millions each week.

In this role, I have listened to and participated in many sessions over the last year about the future of journalism, and I would like to underscore a key point that I think is missed in some of these discussions. I believe that we are not just facing a journalism business model problem, but that we are currently suffering a journalism scope and quality problem in America. Why? Because even when profits were high, the fact is that in many communities and even from mass media news sources, key beats have not been represented for years. And certainly not at levels that are sufficient given these topics importance to our society. This had much to do with what incentives were present in the commercial sector and the mass consolidation of sources and channels over the last decade or so.

With that said the impact of new media, shifts in advertising revenue and the economic downturn have only accelerated the decline.

So what can we do? I am optimistic that much is possible. I believe the future is about how we can strive to practice more what we call at PRI, “Galvanizing Journalism” PRI’s Galvanizing journalism model is driven by five major principals and is more possible than ever in our digital world:

Number one, Meet the need. It starts from asking ourselves, what are the unmet content needs that Americans have in terms of functioning in our democracy and living successfully in our interconnected world.

For PRI, this means making the local to global connection and have content that reflects the changing face of America and diverse and robust voices.

Number two, Focus resources and provide context. Focus resources on contextualized journalism and producing this journalism in a sustained matter, each day and week, responsive the news cycle and also responding to user needs

Number three, Leverage the power of partnership to tell stories differently.

This means featuring diverse voices and focusing on non-duplication of resources. We believe partnership, done right and with experience, can lead to a model that can be 3-5 times more efficient than traditional vertical journalism operations. We are a complement to and very different from these institutions. I look forward to sharing some examples as we get into our discussion.

In other words, don’t look at your editorial capacity as the beginning and end of your editorial capacity. As Jeff Jarvis said in the web world, cover what you do best and link to the rest. That should just be the start.

We can also partner far more with our public and blogs. They can provide I-witness accounts, highlight and bring issues to the fore, and crowd source to attack complex topics together with journalists.

Number four, Operate as a catalyst /galvanize organizations and resources. It isn’t just enough to create the content anymore. How are you helping and leading others to create the content too. In PRI’s case we use and create both broadcast and increasingly digital platforms to publish content and spark engagement. All at a relatively low incremental costs in order to reach people where they are.

And finally, Five, Model the transparency we seek. Use semantic web to help people make connections and understand our content better and use it to improve their lives and their communities. We also believe this will help people trust the sources of their news more.

I look forward to our discussion today and thank you again for the opportunity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Education Coverage in the News... Grade: F

The Brookings Institution released its study December 2nd on news coverage of the education beat in national media. The overall finding: Only 1.4% of coverage is dedicated to education as a topic. Seems like a failing grade!

Based on the research, during the first nine months of 2009, "only 1.4 percent of national news coverage from television, newspapers, news Web sites, and radio dealt with education. Coverage is defined as the percent of space devoted to a topic as a percentage of the overall space available for content (number of words for print and online, amount of time for radio and television)."

Given that education is arguably one of the most critical ingredients to how a society functions (or doesn't function), it is concerning that this is the level of journalism dedicated to this important subject. The report states that over 50 million students are currently attending public pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools, another six million in non-public k-12 institutions, and 18 million in post secondary institution.

The report goes on to make the important point that, "Citizen-initiated journalism such as blogs, YouTube videos, Facebook postings, I-comments, and the like are helpful with breaking news and commentary on events ranging from shootings to flu outbreaks. Local blogs can encourage substantive debate on education issues, and school systems have used new technologies to keep parents in closer touch with their children’s schools and educational progress. But none of these can replace regular, systematic and ongoing coverage of education by news outlets."

I was curious about the data set used and methodology. Brookings commissioned the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism to see how the media covered education. Pew looked at reporting by television networks, cable TV, talk radio, leading web sites, and national newspapers. This translated to reviewing 551 education stories from January through September 2009 and also compared news coverage in 2007 and 2008. Also, Brookings also reviewed AP stories itself and also reviewed case studies of blogs devoted to local newspaper/education coverage, picking geographic diversity, in four communities: Phoenix, Arizona; Providence, Rhode Island; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

MORE ON THE FINDINGS ON COVERAGE: The 1.4 percent of coverage in 2009 means that this small percentage had to encompass all coverage about preschools, elementary, middle, secondary, schools and higher education. This was only marginally higher than in 2008, when only 0.7 percent of the newshole dealt with education, and 2007, where the figure was 1.0 percent.

A fringe benefit of this research: In the course of tracking education beat coverage, Pew and Brookings also compiled data on the amount of coverage dedicated to other beats.

HOW THIS RELATES TO OTHER RESEARCH I AM FOLLOWING: Similar to what we find with global news coverage research that I have reviewed, the issue with education coverage is that it is episodic, reactive, and focused on major events. This is likely due to the fact that less and less professional journalists that are able to give this topic sustained coverage and effort actually exist anymore.

RUNDOWN: Here is the rundown of coverage overall, with Education framed in context. Note the other important subject areas that also received, little to no coverage...

SOLUTIONS: The report outlines a number of potential solutions. Based on my understanding of the journalism field, the following seem the strongest:

#1 Having the education sector better understand how media impacts their work (Therefore, put out information in a digestable way, etc.)

#2 Encouraging youth journalism and not relegating student to cover non controversial topics,"In fact, student journalism of this kind should be encouraged. Student newspapers often lead the media to important education stories."

#3 Integrating "quality education blogs and forms of citizen journalism..." into traditional media. "Newspapers could develop their own blogs and community talkbacks, and also provide links to education blogs that already exist in the community. This could help fill the policy void left by staff cutbacks on education beats."

#4 Not for profit media and their funders should move to fill this unmet content need void on a national and local level.

Other suggestions, although well-meaning, may not address the underlying economic disincentive to cover education (not something that, given costs and dedicated resources, it will not likely be a priority for some time to come for commercial media)

For example:

#1 "Reporting should become more proactive and less reactive. Much of coverage today is episodic and driven by events. Focusing on long-term trends would help to inform communities about the content of education and ways schools are seeking to move forward." (Perhaps not for profit media will tackle this, but not sure for profits will).


#2 "Newspapers and other media outlets that have cut back on education reporting should reconsider these decisions both on public interest grounds, and also because there is widespread interest in the issues surrounding education – on the part of parents especially, but also among employers and other community leaders. It is only through on-going, day-to-day beat reporting that journalists develop an understanding of the subject, gain a sure feel for the issues at stake, and develop sources who keep them informed."

This last point is also SO true, that sustained coverage is the only way to lead to understanding of a topic, but again, I am not sure what the incentive of commercial news media will be to cover....

With that said, this report appears to be a strong piece of research that not only puts the education beat in context but also provides more data on numerous other beats.

To watch the webcast regarding the report, go to:

Check out my tweets today as I will be tweeting from the FTC convening How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age.