How a growing Jewish newspaper is helping to fill the local news void

This week on the “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Steve Rosenberg, editor of the Jewish Journal in Massachusetts, and Linda Matchan, who was named associate editor in February. Our topic: the role of ethnic and religious media in the local news landscape.

Both Steve and Linda had long and productive careers at The Boston Globe. Steve worked for 15 years as a staff writer and columnist, writing about cities and towns north of Boston. He was also editor of the now-defunct Jewish Advocate.

Linda worked at the Globe for 36 years. During her extensive career, she did a little bit of everything, from  investigative reporting to feature writing to spot news.

Dan shares a Quick Take on the Uvalde Leader-News, a twice-weekly paper that not only had the difficult task of covering the school shootings that claimed the lives of 21 people but that was also a victim of those shootings. Here’s a link to Rachel Monroe’s riveting New Yorker story on Uvalde and its aftermath, as well as the emotional remarks by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others at a memorial in Washington for victims of gun violence.

Ellen discusses the ethical dilemma posed by the Online News Association’s new “3M Truth in Science Award.” (Teresa Carr broke the story in Undark and Nieman Lab.) Ellen reached out to longtime science journalist Judy Foreman to get her perspective.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

New York Times journos discuss Innovation Report

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 4.28.30 PMAn all-star panel came together on Friday evening at the Online News Association conference in Chicago to discuss The New York Times’ celebrated Innovation Report — an internal document about the Times’ efforts to adjust to the digital age that became public when it was leaked to BuzzFeed.

The report, wrote Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab last May, is “one of the most remarkable documents I’ve seen in my years running the Lab.” Both the full document and a comprehensive summary are available as part of Benton’s piece, and they are well worth reading. The report describes how the Times — in many ways an innovator in the transition to digital — is still being held back by an antiquated management structure, an overemphasis on what goes on page one of the print edition, and a lack of understanding of how to promote and distribute the Times’ journalism.

The ONA panel was moderated by Ann Marie Lipinski (@AMLwhere), curator of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. The panelists were Amy O’Leary (@amyoleary), deputy editor for digital operations at the Times and one of the authors of the report; Tyson Evans (@tysone), the Times’ editor of newsroom strategy, who also contributed to the report; and Alex MacCallum (@alexmaccallum), recently promoted to a newly created assistant managing editor’s slot to oversee audience engagement.

Hundreds of people were on hand, and many of them — including me — live-tweeted the panel. Bursts of fragmentary news are no substitute for a well-crafted story about the event (here’s one by a student who covered it), but they can give you some flavor of the discussion. Here’s what I had say, including a couple of retweets that I thought were worth sharing.

Designing for human-centered journalism

Last night I attended a terrific panel discussion at the GlobeLab sponsored by the Boston chapter of the Online News Association and Hacks/Hackers Boston.

Titled “Human-Centered Journalism: Designing for Engagement,” the discussion focused on the idea that the right design for a news project can bring the community into the conversation.

There was, for instance, quite a bit of talk about The Boston Globe’s “68 Blocks” series, which included multimedia elements such as Instagrams and self-shot videos by teenagers in Bowdoin-Geneva, a poor, mostly African-American neighborhood that was the subject of the series.

Despite those interactive touches, “68 Blocks” was controversial within some elements of the community. I can’t speak for them, but the general complaint seemed to be that they resented outsiders coming in and observing them as though they were exotic specimens.

One of the panelists, Kenneth Bailey of the Design Studio for Social Innovation, put his finger on a possible problem when he said that too many journalists see themselves as “literary types” rather than fostering relationships with the communities they cover.

Another, Alvin Chang, a data journalist who was involved in “68 Blocks,” said, “The people we are covering are not necessarily the people who read the Globe.”

The third panelist was Laura Amico, co-founder of Homicide Watch and a colleague of mine at Northeastern. The moderator was Adrienne Debigare, the “new media catalyst” at the GlobeLab.

Tiffany Campbell of WBUR put together a Storify that does a good job of summarizing the discussion. Please have a look.