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Journalism was supposed to be on its deathbed, but in fact it seems to be rising up from the grave, though changed in significant ways. A few recent stories show what that change is all about.

Politico writes about the upcoming Pulitzer committee decision over whether to award the top journalism prize for the year's clearly most monumental story when the establishment in both political parties in Washington furiously opposes the idea:

Next month, the trustees who oversee America’s most distinguished journalistic award could face their toughest decision in at least four decades.

The issue before the Pulitzer Prize Board: Does it honor reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian based on stolen government documents that are arguably detrimental to the national security of the United States, and which were provided by a man who many see as a traitor? Or, does it pass over what is widely viewed as the single most significant story of the year — if not the decade — for the sake of playing it safe?....

Two teams are being considered for their work on the NSA leaks.... One is made up of The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, who published the first landmark report on the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records, and have since played an integral role in building upon those revelations. The other is Poitras and Barton Gellman, who reported on the wide-ranging surveillance program known as “PRISM” for The Washington Post....

In the eyes of privacy advocates, Greenwald’s work has been much more consequential in the larger arc of the Snowden story.... But Greenwald, a staunch anti-surveillance advocate with a brash, outsider’s persona, is not the type of journalist the Pulitzer Board has typically admired. Gellman, by contrast, with his serious and soft-spoken demeanor and decades in the business, comes straight out of Pulitzer central casting.

But on what grounds could the Pulitzers recognize Gellman and not Greenwald?

(my emphasis)

That "brash, outsider’s persona" is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the interwebs as a blogger's voice -- opinionated, personal, with a declared-up-front point of view -- as opposed to the formalized, institutionalized, voice of authoritative "objectivity," the voice journalism prof Jay Rosen calls "the view from nowhere."

Clearly the bloggers are at the gates. Can the PTB keep them out on the basis of their brash outsider personas when they've broken the biggest story of the year, or probably
decade? Time will tell.

And then there's these two stories having to do with structural changes to the business and dissemination model of journalism.

Upworthy partners with ProPublica and advocacy media groups on original content

(via Jay Rosen):

Upworthy is entering into content partnerships with Human Rights Watch, Climate Nexus, and ProPublica. The organizations were selected based on issue areas — human rights, climate change and income inequality — that were determined to be of heightened importance to Upworthy readers based on a survey. In a blog post, Upworthy explains that the partnerships are meant to ensure that the company continues to produce shareable content with an eye toward social good....

Writes {Upworthy co-founder} Koechley: "In the old days, the few big newspapers were so profitable they could run desks on most of the most important issues in the world. Now, as the news landscape fragments, investigative journalism often takes place in nonprofits, whether they’re pure-journalism outlets or advocacy media organizations. So we think arrangements like these — a nonprofit focused on the vitally important work of investigative journalism partnering with a mission-driven media company that specializes in sharing stories with millions of people — will grow more common in the years to come.”....

“Upworthy’s core competency is drawing massive amounts of attention to really important topics, and we’re building our revenue plan around those skills (rather than simply bolting on banner ads to the site),” writes Koechley. “To that end, we’ve been piloting ways to work with nonprofits, brands, and other media companies to help draw attention to big topics by sharing meaningful media.”

Why venture capitalists are suddenly investing in news

(via Jay Rosen):

Something curious is happening in the American news business.

Media organizations are hiring again.....And venture capitalists are pouring millions into
nimble publishing startups....

“Suddenly, the market for content just opened up,” said Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily, which has secured about $4 million in venture capital since 2012. “It’s dramatically changed. I think a lot of it for me was Vice getting valued at $1 billion. No one had seen anything like that in the content space. And they’re trying to speak to a very specific audience that’s hard to reach in a deeply authentic way. It’s certainly not something you’re phoning in. It’s not a pre-written press release. It’s not a listicle.”....

“Media companies where you’re paying editors to create original content are companies where they don’t have that kind of natural flywheel that [user-generated content] companies have,” said Andrew Parker, a general partner at Spark Capital, which led Upworthy’s $8 million Series A funding round....

Parker says “journalism” is indeed a word that scares off investors, who prefer publishing models that leverage user-generated content instead of paying a full-time editorial staff to create stories from scratch.

This attitude helps explain part of why more publishing companies—Medium, BuzzFeed, and Gawker Media, for instance—are experimenting with a mix of user-made and professionally produced content, a structure that enables editorial staff to spend more time producing high-quality work and enables them to dip into the pool of freely produced stories so they may showcase the best ones alongside their own content.

Even staunch traditional pillars of the media like the NYT are launching new projects that talk directly to readers and draw on interaction with them to produce more meaningful content and analysis.

Just a snapshot from one moment in time, but it shows how things are moving. The money shows where things are moving. They're moving in the direction of user-generated content as an integral part of both the business model and the editorial voice of journalism.

You may think that your voice is just one tiny bit of the huge noisy beast that is the internet, so why bother? But the more your voice joins with other voices, saying, NO THAT ISN'T WHAT THAT MEANS, IT MEANS THIS! or TALK ABOUT THIS NOT THAT! or THAT ISN'T TRUE, STOP LYING ABOUT IT! or when you can offer a fresh insight by saying THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE! it matters. And it will matter more and more.

Keep pushing. You're changing the conversation. You're changing the media landscape itself.

So never let anyone else tell you to shut up and go away. No matter who they are. They have a right to speak their mind, but so do you. Here and elsewhere, go out and make yourself heard.

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