Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Newsroom of the Future

Tennessean Executive Editor Stefanie Murray says she's creating the "newsroom of the future."   In any newsroom, there are two things to remember:

1.  All the technology is worthless if the journalism isn't solid.
2.  If a newsroom isn't doing accountability journalism, it's NOT journalism.

For any newsroom of the future to have any value, it needs to have journalists who are journalists, not human microphone stands.   That means they have to ask questions that need to be asked.   Here are some questions that would be of value to users, readers and viewers.  


Questions for the Governor

What is the bonded indebtedness of your state and how do you intend to pay for it?

In state after state, the highest paid public employee is either a football coach or a basketball coach?   Do you think that is wise public policy?   Why or why not? 

Should employees and citizens have the right to know what dangerous chemicals they may be exposed to due to fracking, or do you agree with laws like the one in Pennsylvania that allow corporations to keep such information secret from the public?

Do you believe in science, why or why not?

What are the economic implications for your state due to climate change? 

In other industries, the computer has allowed managers to do more with fewer people. The only institution where administrative ranks have expanded significantly is higher education.   In examining the administrator/professor ratio, your state universities have far more administrators now than they did fifty years ago.   Why do your universities need more administrators now than they did before the computer age?

Do elected public officials have a responsibility to agree to interviews with reporters wanting to do in depth interviews on subjects of importance to your state?  Why or why not? 

Questions for members of Congress

Why is healthcare significantly more expensive in the United States than any other industrialized nation?  What are the causes of such significantly higher costs?   

What impact will there be on developing sound legislation when there are members of the House Science Committee who don’t believe in science?

Do you believe in the scientific method, why or why not? 

With current technology, it would be incredibly easy to have instantly updated information on all political contributions being made to a politician so voters can see immediately who is giving money to the politician.   Would you favor or oppose a requirement for immediate financial disclosure for both political candidates and for political action committees?

Do you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United?   Why or why not? 

Regarding Terrorism

What are the top three terrorists groups that pose a significant threat to the United States?

What is the size of each?

What is their budget?

What kinds of weapons and how many of each do they have?

What specific credible threat do they pose?

Why should the facts about rendition and torture be kept secret from the American people?

Regarding Education

What are the implications for democracy when our schools teach K-12 students a sanitized version of American history, one that doesn't discuss the number of governments the United States has overthrown since WWII?  

What are the implications for democracy when our schools fail to teach K-12 students how the government has misled and lied to the public about military actions as detailed in 935 Lies by Chuck Lewis.     To elevate a young citizen's understanding of the country, should a highly documented and fact-based book like Chuck's be required reading? 

Should public universities be required to provide line-item detail on charges so parents and students are able to see where the money goes? (Examining the University Bill)


Regarding Public Safety

Should there be lengthy mandatory prison terms for corporate executives who fail to disclose and knowingly approve for sale a manufactured product that has a potentially lethal safety defect?   Why or why not? 


For Division I University Presidents

Why does your university give more full scholarships to football players than to academic students?

Why is the athletic department the only department where instructors are given free cars?

What is the litigation risk posed by athletic concussion lawsuits?

Why should a university support a sport that causes brain damage? 

Why should academic students pay to fund an athletic program that loses millions of dollars every year?  (Note:  a handful of programs turn a profit; most lose millions).


For the Owner of Your News Corporation

How much are you spending on employee training and why?

How many reporters will your news organization devote to doing in-depth reporting on substantive issues facing your community and your state?

For Commercial Television Newsrooms that Don't Cover the State Legislature

Why should the FCC give your station a license to broadcast? 


REMINDER for the Newsroom of the Future

All the technology is worthless if journalism isn't solid.   

For newsrooms not doing accountability journalism:  do your users, viewers and readers a favor.  Close it. 


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