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Separating what we do from how we do it

There are a lot of parallels between journalism and librarianship and between newspapers and libraries in the digital age. In a recent article, one journalist has suggestions for journalists that, I believe, have analogies for librarians. One useful idea: the need for mentors (with lots of experience) for the new generation of librarians.

  • Why we need to separate our stories from our storytelling tools, By David Skok, Nieman Journalism Lab (Sept 28, 2011).

    In the digital world, the tools we use to tell the world’s stories — Twitter, Google, Facebook — control us as much as we control them. I am a digital journalist, and I’m enthusiastic about what our new platforms can provide us in terms of telling stories. But I also wonder whether we’re letting our tools define, rather than serve, the stories we tell.

    …Twitter, Google, and Facebook — to take the most prominent examples — are wonderful tools that open up a whole new universe of communication, interaction, and reporting. But that’s all that they are: tools. And they are tools, of course, that are provided by profit-driven companies whose interest lies as much in their own benefit as our own.

    …And the onus is on digital journalists to welcome veteran reporters into the future’s fold — to help them navigate the new tools that will inform, if not define, the shape journalism takes going forward.

    But the onus is also on digital journalists to learn from the veterans — to learn reporting methods and narrative techniques and skills that have nothing to do with Google or Facebook or Twitter, and everything to do with journalism as it’s been practiced throughout its history. The veterans may not be able to show you how to create Fusion tables, but I can promise that, from them, you’ll learn something new that will help your reporting more than the latest tools ever could.

As a companion piece on a different, but related, subject I like this article from the new blog at the Chronicle

  • Curate for What Ails Ya, By Ben Yagoda, Chronicle of Higher Education Lingua Franca blog (September 28, 2011).

    [The web] has developed in a such a way that raw data are sorted and organized not by human hands but by algorithms (number of page views, number of thumbs-up, Google’s secret sauce, Wikipedia’s universal access and veto power) that are certainly democratic and often useful, but just as often bring in too much noise and too much funk.

    Curating the word and curating the phenomenon suggest a welcome recognition that some situations demand expert taste and judgment.

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