Category Archives: Jeff Jarvis

Welcome to the Video Revolution


call now. operators are standing by…

The Travel Channel Academy is a great course, but its also expensive.

$2000 is a lot to commit for a novice, (not that we don’t have our share of novices in the course).

But what we do have is a lot of folks who would like to get a sense of what this ‘video revolution’ is all about without having to spend four days in intensive bootcamp-like training.

So we’re going to do just that.

In partnership with the City University Graduate School of Journalism, Jeff Jarvis and I are going to offer a 1-day course on the basics of the video revolution.

Learn and see what it’s all about.

First class:

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
219 W. 40th St., New York, NY
Cost: $195 (10% discount for CUNY J-School alumni)

Jury Duty You Can’t Avoid


School was never like this…..

Yesterday, I was on Jury Duty.

Jury Duty at CUNY.

That’s City University of New York’s graduate school of journalism.

The school is fortunate enough to have Prof. Jeff Jarvis teaching a course there in what he calls ‘entrepreneurial journalism’.

When I went to journalism school, (Columbia ’83), the class was filled with starry-eyed idealists riding the wave of Woodruff/Bernstein, and planning on bringing down the government. (One of my classmates, Ron Suskind comes close).   These students are riding a very different kind of wave. They are hard-headed realists, children of the web, with one eye on the journalism but another on the real business – a very different animal.

We used to say that there was a wall between the journalism and the business side, but the web has effectively taken that wall down. Now, in an era when anyone can put pretty much anything online, the journalist need no longer feed off the crumbs of the business side and MBAs and wear sweaters with holes in them.  The new journalist can do both, and Jarvis and CUNY are, I think, rather unique and forward thinking  in combining the two disciplines.

So yesterday, Jarvis’ class was called upon to present their concepts (complete with power point and other audio/visual aids) to both the class and a group of select jurors from the industry. (Have you ever seen the BBC series Dragon’s Den?)

Now, this was more than just some classroom exercise, (which was what we did at Columbia, and all we got was an MS degree). Here, the jury also had a remarkable $50,000 in seed money to get the lucky student(s) idea started – for real.  The money came from The McCormick Foundation.

Kudos, Jarvis and CUNY.

I can’t think of any journalism school anywhere in the world that does anything like this.

In any event, after a day of presentations and some very hard questions from the jury (which included a major newspaper editor, a few VCs, a lot of folks who started and ran their own web/journalism companies), the jury was sequestered.


We debated and eliminated, and in the end, awarded an astonishing (to my mind) $30,000 to one student who proposed an online physics website, $10,000 to another who proposed a website devoted to the Ugandan expat community (which apparently sends home to Uganda $1 billion a year – so there’s a market there), and another grant to a young woman from Nigeria who envisions starting an underground radio network using cellphones in Nigeria.  All very interesting ideas from journalism students.

Some real thinking out of the box.


The Man Who Came to Breakfast


Notice the marmite……

Jeff Jarvis dropped over for breakfast yesterday.

Somewhere between Dubai and Davos, he carved out an hour for a few slices of Sullivan Street Bakery sesame bread and white fish salad.

He came over to talk about DNA2009.

Like Jeff, I attend many conferences. (I can’t turn down an audience).  But one of the greatest flaws I see at a lot of conferences are that once you assemble the great and the good, no one really knows what to do with them.  There is the ‘let’s give a speech’ route. You sit, a famous person we have paid 100k will recite a talk that someone else has written for them, and then we’ll have coffee.  Not great.

Then there is the ‘let’s pretend we’re in a TV studio’ route.  A well-known TV presenter who has little or no knowlege of the topic at hand will carry out a mock Dick Cavett (for those old enough) type TV interview, – lights, swivel chairs, set – all that is lacking is the TV cameras..and the broadcast.  The audience sits and watches this reinactment of a 1975 TV show and then thinks about what is wrong with TV…

Finally there is the much lamented Panel Discussion.  Five or six luminaires on an industry are invited to offer their opinions on a few topics while 300 people watch them try and explain very complex issues in 2 minute soundbites.  Also shows what is wrong with TV.

Well, it’s not easy.

The thing I like about Jarvis is he thinks out of the box all the time.  This goes for his new book, What Would Google Do, which I shamelessly pimp here (my pre-order is already in); but also for conferences.

At his last conference at CUNY, he tried quite hard to break the mold.  Lightning round, solve the problem, live webcasting with comments – he tried to get everyone involved.

So we’ve invited him to DNA (March 4-5, Brussels), where we’re going to try some new ideas on group involvement as opposed to sit and watch this stuff. I think it will make a big difference.

And, using my new flip cam (Jarvis was quick to note that he now has the HD version… so it’s back to B&H Photo as soon as I am done here), we got him to do a quick promo for us. (Well, it’s the least you can expect after bagels and ….. marmite?)

My Day With Jeff Jarvis…

…and a lot of other people…

I am sure we can find some way to work together….

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with Jeff Jarvis and about 200 of his closest friends.

It was the second annual New Business Models for News Summit at CUNY. A gathering of some of the biggest names in the business, we spent the day hearing some very interesting ideas about where journalism and the digital revolution are heading.

You can see the videos at the link above, and I have to hand it to Jarvis and CUNY for transcending the usual pap that you get at these things.

First, Jarvis has just finished his new book, What Would Google Do?, (which he pimpled mercilessly, but why not?) I have already ordered my advance copy! The point of the book, and of the conference, was forward looking, (as opposed to the sturm und drang ‘the world is coming to an end’ speeches I normally hear (and give). This one was about solutions.

As a result, the cast of characters was new. (at least to me).

Among the standouts:

-Ed Roussel, Digital Director of The Telegraph (UK) who gave a stellar presentation on what the Telegraph is doing and why.

-Charlie Sennott – Former foreign correspondent for The Globe (Boston) who is striking out on his own to recover foreign journalism from a newspaper world that no longer cares.

-Tom Evslin – founder of ITXC, who is not a journalist but an engineer who developed, among other things, VoIP and apparently disconnected ATT from charging per minute rates for web use (remember that?). It was fascinating to get an engineer’s perspective on how to build networks and why they work or fail.

We spent the afternoon in Aspen-like groups, grappling with an assignment. I was in the “new structures for newsrooms” which was chaired by Andrew Heyward, former President of CBS News. He was remarkably insightful and plugged into the new media revolution. Sorry he is not running CBS now. It would help.

I hope we can get a few of these folks to make the trip to Brussels for DNA2009. March 4-5, Brussels, Belgium. sign up now (shameless self-promotion).

W Eugene Smith and the Video Essay

Welsh Coal Miners by W Eugene Smith 1950

I spent this afternoon at a major New Jersey newspaper with Jeff Jarvis .

The paper, like many print publications in this country, is moving into video.

This is inevitable. As newspapers migrate to the web, driven by the pure economics of it, they run into a web that can tell stories in video.

The job of a newspaper is to go out into a community, gather stories and tell them to that community – for a price.

It is only natural that a newspaper would want to move to video, and many do (note Scott Anger at the LA Times).

The question is: how.

Many papers are taking small steps on their own.  They are trying to figure it out.  Some gravitate towards a TV model. Others post small video stories.

I think we are entering an entirely new world of online digital journalism. It isn’t television, it isn’t newspapers and photos either. It is something new.

The web is an extremely powerful and plastic medium for capturing information and storytelling. It works equally well in print, video, still, music, graphics and viewer participation.  Like any new technology, we have yet to really figure out what to do with it.  The day after Gutenberg invented the Printing Press, he could have gone down into the basement and printed The New York Times.  All the technology he needed to print a newspaper was now in his hands.  What was lacking was the model – the idea.

It would, in fact, take another 350 years before someone figured out how to make  The New York Times with Gutenberg’s invention.

Perhaps it will not take us that long this time.

In the 1940s, photojournalist W Eugene Smith was empowered with a small Leica, and the Second World War before him.  He used the camera in some very unusual ways. Instead of simply illustrating a story, as his photographic predecessors had done, Smith created for Henry Luce and LIFE, the photo essay – a way of telling stories with pictures first, text in support.  It was a brilliant breakthrough.

The photograph above, from Smith’s Welsh Miner series, was published in 1950.  Smith had been sent by LIFE to cover the British elections.  Henry Luce was supporting the Conservative candidate Winston Churchill.  But Smith’s photo essay showed the brutality of coal mining life and made a great deal of America sympathetic to Clement Atlee and Labour (with a ‘u’).  Labour won, but Smith had proven a larger point about the power of photo essays.  He later went on to publish powerful work for LIFE such as Country Doctor or Spanish Village. Icons of photojournalism today.

Smith was empowered by the new photographic technology.  Rather than using the small cameras to ape what had been done with the large format cameras, he created a new and highly visual way of telling stories in pictures – and made LIFE magazine the powerhouse it was in the 50s.

Now we have a new technology before us – small, light weight HDV video cameras.

As Smith did, we have a unique opportunity, particularly as newspapers (untainted by local TV news) move into video, to create a new grammar as well.

The tools are before us. We need only pick them up.

CUNY 2-Day Course


Jarvis joins the student….

Today and tomorrow we are offering a 2-day version of our bootcamp to students at City University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Continue reading

Networked Journalism Summit – NYC


A guy from NPR in a suit, Sechrist and me….

Yesterday we attended the Networked Summit held both at The New York Times and City University Graduate School of Journalism. Our old pal, Jeff Jarvis was the organizer and moderator. Continue reading