The Journalist’s Resource: Adding a new ‘best practice’

The Journalist's Resource routinely reprints and “translates” research in journalism, media and communications. The project, out of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, suggests that journalists should learn to research not just the stories they write but studies about the way they do their work.

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University focuses on providing journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of digital journalism. The center is both a research and development center for the profession as a whole. Emily Bell — former director of digital content for Britain’s Guardian News and Media — and her team of journalists and academics, explore how technology is changing journalism and its consumption. Here’s the center’s first major report, on how the transformation of American journalism is unavoidable.

Class discussions at three levels:
Flashlight: Find the Journalist’s Resource report on the 2012 study in "Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly" analyzing how well different storytelling approaches work. Students can read the two sample stories from the study experiment and assess them in terms of impact. Have them try an unusual storytelling technique in one of your journalism classes.

Spotlight: Research the Guardian news group. How popular is the Guardian’s web site? (You can use Alexa to measure the site’s ranking). Is the Guardian more popular in the United States than the New York Times? Why or why not? What major story about the United States did the Guardian break in 2013?

Searchlight: Read the Tow Center report. Do you agree or disagree with its main points? The Tow Center accepts proposals for useful research. Review the requirements and write a paper about a suggested piece of research.