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Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Results matching “"media engineer"”

During the recent hearings in Washington representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked if they were media companies-- they replied that they identify as technology companies.

Facebook and Google don't want to be classed as media companies because then they have to pay for the responsibilities of being media companies.

But these are rich companies and they can afford the extra costs of employing editorial staff. It would create a little bit of a level playing field with traditional media companies who have to carry the costs of civil responsibility.

Apart from expensive regulatory issues Facebook faces another problem: it’s a media company run by engineers.

This is why it has trouble dealing with media problems such as fake news. It doesn't have any media professionals that understand the issue and know what to do about it -- and have the seniority to execute. Facebook employs former journalists and editors but they were not hired to deal with fake news.

Engineering fake news...

The Pew Research Center recently surveyed 1,000 technologists about the problem of fake news and 51 percent said nothing can be done while 49 percent said the opposite. Which means these "tech experts" don't really know one way or the other.

Why not ask media professionals? It's a media problem not an engineering problem. After all, you wouldn't ask reporters about Javascript's scalability in web projects.

Facebook is a media company that doesn't know how to be a media company.

But it can learn. And it doesn't have to learn the hard way by making business mistakes that the media industry solved many decades ago.

There's several things that can be done very quickly that would go a long way to curbing fake news at Facebook, Google and elsewhere.

Engineers know how to code but media professionals know how to code the culture and spot the fakes. Media engineers will one day be a hot new profession.

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Please see: Analysis: Facebook's 3,000 editors...Is it still a tech platform?

No good news for media industry in Internet Trends report

Media company or tech platform? The hugely important battle to redefine Facebook

Journalism+Silicon Valley: What Balance Of Power?

Edelman Churchill 232

Richard Edelman (right) with Steve Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of PR Week, at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

Can PR companies “Show Up Differently” as Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest privately held PR firm, wrote in his New Year’s rally cry for his troops? 

Edelman understands that PR agencies will need to show up differently if they are to win against the advertising agencies. 

My post this week about the lack of automation technologies in PR is directly related to this coming confrontation. There’s a great business opportunity for PR agencies to compete for  lucrative advertising budgets — if they can prove  performance with solid metrics and at scale.

The pitch is easy: “Spending money on PR is more effective than on advertising, especially with the billions of dollars lost to ad fraud. We help you build lasting relationships instead of fleeting ad impressions.” 


The BBC recently asked permission to use this story as a case study for an upcoming programme, Silicon Valley Watcher's discovery of the identity of LonelyGirl15.

At the end of the summer of 2006 we had the biggest story in the US: Silicon Valley Watcher discovered the true identity of LonelyGirl15 (above) -- an anonymous 15 year-old video blogger called Bree, that had amassed a staggering number of viewers on Youtube over several months -- but no one knew who she was. The media was obsessed with her and questioning is she is real or fake?

I'm a big fan of Joichi Ito so it was a pleasure to hear that he will become the next head of the iconic MIT Media Lab.

Burt Herman organized a fascinating event this past weekend, bringing together journalists and software engineers to produce news apps for the iPad.

The first ever Hacks/Hackers event produced 12 apps in just 30 hours, and a panel of judges picked the two best apps: "An iPad application to make news exciting for kids and a location-aware web application where users react to news stories about their legislators."

Burt Herman is the founder of Hacks/Hackers - a group that meets every month to discuss the overlap of technology and journalism, a subject that greatly interests me. For years I have been predicting the emergence of a new type of profession: media engineer - part hack (journalist) and part hacker (software engineer).

Mr Herman said:""The future of journalism is about experimentation and being open to new ideas, and bringing people from diverse disciplines together to think creatively and work together. The journalists and technologists easily found a common dialogue and collaborated to build impressive projects in a short time."

Here is a list of all the apps: http://unite.hackshackers.com/2010/05/order-of-presentations/

Here is a more detailed description of the winning apps:

-Citizen Kid News: an iPad app that provides a visually dynamic and accessible framework for kids to safely explore and interact with the news. Top kid-appealing news content is curated on a daily basis, in 5 categories: Animals, World, Science, Sports and Entertainment. A photographic touch interface provides a window into each story, and kids can select stories for further exploration that includes additional text, photos, video and audio. The app incorporates game mechanics to encourage participation: kids earn points for commenting on articles, viewing videos about the reporter's process, and eventually contributing their own articles. Kids earn badges along the way, starting with "Cub Reporter" and culminating with "Editor".

-Who's Reppin' Me?: a Web-based app that feeds users news stories about their political representatives based on location. Users can then send Tweets to lawmakers to express their approval or disapproval of their actions. The app is online at http://whosreppin.me/

Hacks/Hackers coming to NYC on June 2 | Hacks/Hackers

I'm planning on attending this unique meeting at the offices of KQED in San Francisco: Hacks/Hackers Unite

It is an event bringing together journalists and developers and the goal of the weekend long event is to create a killer media application for the iPad and other tablet computers.

This event will be both a coding development camp and a journalistic boot camp. Teams of hacks (content creators) and hackers (developers and designers) will cooperate to tell develop media applications for the iPad and tablets that help inform, enlighten and tell stories for the public good. You can also build tablet-based tools for journalists.

REGISTER NOW (breakfast and lunch for both days included in price)
Each team must have at least one hack and hacker each. If you don't already have a team, we will have some activities to help you find one at the event. Also, find potential collaborators and propose, browse, and discuss ideas here. NEW: Here's a public wiki to also share ideas and find teams.

The apps will be judged by a panel that includes:

Harjeet Taggar, venture partner at Y Combinator; Andrew Fitzgerald, online news producer at Current TV; David Weekly, founder of Hacker Dojo and PBworks; and Craig Miller, senior editor of KQED Climate Watch.

I'm a big supporter of these types of cross-professional links. I'm hopeful that we will get a new types of professions: media engineer and media architect - part journalist and part coder.

The even will also have talks by:

Tony Deifell, Q Media labs, director, author of The Big Thaw: Charting a New Course for Journalism

David Weekly, Hacker Dojo, founding director, and PBworks, founder, chairman and chief product officer

Harjeet Taggar, Y Combinator, venture partner

Tim Olson, KQED, vice president of digital media and education

Daniel Jacobson, NPR, director of application development, digital media

Andrew Fitzgerald, Current TV, online news producer

Bruce Koon, KQED, news director

Craig Miller, KQED Climate Watch, senior editor

Jonathan Tepper, Demotix, COO and founder

Maya Baratz, MTV, product manager

Lanita Pace, Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley, director

The event is the idea of Burt Herman, who also leads the Hacks/Hackers -- Journalism meets technology group.

The Guardian.uk has an article about how the New York Times and CNN are becoming technology companies.

How the New York Times and CNN try to keep up with the tech companies

"The New York Times is now as much a technology company as a journalism company," its executive editor Bill Keller said recently.
While CNN.com closely collaborates with technology companies like Facebook, Apple or Google, the New York Times anticipates technical change in-house with the help of its research and development department.
"We made an experiment and put an RFID chip into the phone, the computer and the television. The chip was there to track the user's reading. When a user stopped reading a story on the phone as he or she arrived at work, it opened it again on the desktop. When the user entered the living room, related videos to the story were presented on the television screen," explains the NYT's Nick Bilton.
CNN has launched an iPhone application, redesigned its website and reached out more to social media. CNN was among the first TV broadcasters to understand the full impact of social media on television, and teamed up with Facebook for the presidential inauguration.
Today, CNN's iPhone app is as much a news-making as a news delivering application, and as the iReporters can add their telephone number, email and location to their report, CNN's editors can get back to them or even assign them to certain content CNN is looking for.
...it looks like the news organisations that tear down the wall and build a bridge between editorial and technological thinking will be most likely to survive.

I'm glad to see these types of stories. For the past five years I've been writing about the need for 'media engineers' - part software engineer and part media professional. And also 'media architects' the people the create the media technology infrastructure for media companies (BTW every company is a media company.)

Media engineers will be better paid than software engineers because you need a broader skills set.

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Please see my PearlTree on 'media engineers.' [PearlTrees is an SVW client and it's a great media technology that organizes web pages in a visual way.]

 Media Engineers 


I have been writing about the need for media engineers since 2005 -- these are people who are part journalist and part software engineer. It seems that it is catching on.

Ryan Tate on Valleywag put together a nice list of people that could easily be called 'media engineers' such as:

Nick Bilton, New York Times: He might be lead blogger on Bits, the Times tech blog, but Bilton has also worked as a user interface specialist and hardware hacker in the Times R&D lab, helping to develop the TimesReader. He also knows his way around a C compiler.

Hack to Hacker: Rise of the Journalist-Programmer

But there is still a long way to go. I know journalists that don't know how to upload a photo. Few can spell well or type with more than two fingers. It's about time they learned a few new skills...

I'm a member of an interesting group 'Hacks and Hackers - where journalism and technology meet.' You can find more information here. It was recently set up by Burt Herman, a veteran journalist, and we've spoken on this topic many times.

I've also been writing about the need for 'media architects.' These are media engineers that help set up media infrastructure for publishers. And now that every company is a media company, every company needs a media architect . . . and some media engineers.

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Please see:

The coming era of the media engineer and media entrepreneur

Move Over Software Engineers It's The Era Of Media Engineers

Journalism Schools Wake Up To Need For Media Engineers

More here.

For several years I've been writing about the need for "media engineers" part software engineer and part journalist. And others have also started to write about teaching journalism to programmers.

MediaShift . Can Programmers, Journalists Get Along in One Newsroom? | PBS

There is a lot of journalism that can be done by mining data in public databases. Some newspapers now have interactive maps, for example, Oakland Tribune has an interactive map of homicides.

A much better example of data journalism is EveryBlock, which provides a news feed for neighborhoods in all large US cities. Type in your zip code and EveryBlock will email a newsfeed that contains police reports, restaurant openings and reviews, building permits, coverage in the media, and other local data culled from public databases and other sources.

EveryBlock is run by Adrian Holovaty, based in Chicago. It was recently acquired by MSNBC.

EveryBlock was started by a grant from the Knight Foundation and part of its condition was that the EveryBlock publishing software be released under an open source license. It's available to anyone, anyone can replicate what EveryBlock has done.

Adrian Holovalty is a true media engineer, he is also one of the driving forces behind the Django project, an open-source framework for quickly developing web applications for newsroom projects.

Data journalism has had its fair share of critics. But I think it has a bright future as long it it is wrapped within the right context. The temptation is to just publish the raw data without much else and allow the readers to make sense of it depending on how the data affects them.

Data journalism combined with a fair amount of human journalism could be a potent mix, providing context to the content. It'll be interesting to see how newsrooms combine the two.

But most newsrooms lack the software engineering skills to use Django and similar technologies. And with newsroom cuts and the pressure on media business models continuing unabated, we may be running out of time to experiment with data journalism.

That would be a shame because today's media technologies make it possible to create many novel types of media formats. There's a tremendous amount of innovation that can be done with media formats. I've got a few ideas myself that I'd love to try out but unfortunately I, too, lack the resources.

Megan Taylor over at PBS' MediaShift writes about the challenges of getting programmers and journalists to work together.

MediaShift . Can Programmers, Journalists Get Along in One Newsroom? | PBS

"there's no reason why a programmer can't do journalism," said Rich Gordon, director of digital innovation at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. "They just need an understanding of the mission and culture of journalism and journalists."

Mr Gordon thinks that in terms of personalities, i.e programmers being introverted and anti-social, they can be similar to journalists.

But even with similar personalities, it's not easy to get programmers to think like journalists, or to get used to the chaotic environment of a newsroom.

Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive newsroom technologies at the New York Times, has assembled a team of mostly programmers to do journalism.
..."It's not a normal corporate-y type of environment," Pilhofer said. "It's very loosey-goosey, collaborative, hectic, disorganized. It takes time to get used to that environment, and not everyone is comfortable in that environment.

Others say problems arise because of miscommunication.

Matthew Waite, news technologist at the St. Petersburg Times, weighed in on how programmers and journalists communicate, and how that communication can be improved. He said ill-will between journalists and programmers arises from miscommunication.
"I've seen a lot of cases where some piece of code did exactly what the requirements document specified, but it didn't do what anyone wanted," Waite said.

Foremski's Take: I've written on this topic many times and I think it is easier to teach journalists to become programmers. They then become "media engineers" rather than software engineers.

Today's development tools are very powerful and they make building complex software applications easier than ever before.

Every journalist should know some html, CSS, JavaScript, etc. They don't need to be proficient but they should know how all these media technologies work. Some journalists can go much further and I think we will see that happening more because there is a real need. If I were a journalism student I'd be loading up on programming courses because I'd greatly improve my chances of getting a job -- every newsroom needs strong media engineering capabilities.

Teaching a programmer journalism skills is challenging primarily because programmers have already chosen their profession. If they had wanted to be journalists they would have become journalists.

But teaching a journalist programming skills would be a lot easier and far more effective because you have to have a strong understanding of media -- that comes first. That's what a media engineer would provide, media first, engineer second.

And a media architect would be similar to a systems architect, they would design the information/publishing architecture of an organization. And by the way, today every company has to be a media company to a degree, every large company needs media engineers and media architects on staff.

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Please see:

Move Over Software Engineers It's The Era Of Media Engineers

Journalism Schools Wake Up To Need For Media Engineers


Software coding is becoming a much more common skill and it is a skill that is losing value. You can find coders in developing countries and contract the work for a fraction of what it used to cost.

But there is going to be a need for a new type of software engineer, or better described as a media engineer. Let me explain.

A study of Twitter users conducted by Bill Heil and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski from the Harvard Business School has uncovered a surprisingly large gender gap compared with other social networks.

The study sampled 300,542 users. It found that men were twice as likely as women to follow other men, and women were 25 per cent more likely to follow a man than a woman. This is despite there being slightly more women on Twitter.

This is a big difference compared with other social networks.

On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know. Generally, men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women.

The authors of the study could not explain the different gender ratios.

Another way Twitter differs from other online social networks is in how rarely a user tweets. Just over 50 per cent tweet just once in 74 days. But 10% of users create more than 90% of all tweets.

On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production.

...This implies that Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

Foremski's Take:

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