Innovations in the field are changing the nature of what journalists will be doing in the future. Some of the most exciting innovations are still in the idea or research stage—like those of university students and fellows, for instance.
Knight Journalism Fellows at Stanford University post
insights about and ideas for the future of journalism.
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism research tab provides a look at what people are thinking about in media innovation.
Below, David Sarno imagines a new kind of journalism storytelling—one that includes a third dimension of interactive 3-D storytelling.
COLLABORATIONS AND NONPROFITS
Journalists are responding to challenges in the industry by banding together in collaborative efforts and by forming nonprofit news organizations to help fill the gaps left by industry changes. The Center for Public Integrity, a well-respected example of a journalism nonprofit, has focused work on investigative news, one of the gaps that has opened up as many news organizations cut back on staff. Read the Center's articles —like the one below about
Here are a few more examples of collaborative and nonprofit journalism endeavors:
Propublica is an award-winning nonprofit news organization that focuses on investigative journalism to hold the powerful to account, covering beats such as civil rights, criminal justice. the environment, and the president and administration.
InsideClimate News won a Pulitzer Prize for its environmental reporting. Its website says that ICN "provides essential reporting and analysis on climate, energy and the environment for the public and decision makers. We serve as watchdogs of government, industry and advocacy groups and hold them accountable for their policies and actions."
The Voice of San Diego is an influential nonprofit in Southern California: "VOSD gives concerned residents the tools to engage in important conversations about their community. We are building a community of educated San Diegans who dare to ask tough questions and demand answers," says the organization's website.
"Frontline," is a product of the nonprofit PBS. It's primary medium is video, and it frequently collaborates with other news organizations. It created some early multimedia stories, like this one on the meth epidemic.
“America’s Highest Earners and Their Taxes Revealed”
This ProPublica interactive graphic helps tell a complicated story by breaking the story down into smaller chunks. One set talks about who the highest earners are and where their wealth comes from, for example. Another talks about how much the wealthiest people make per year compared to a typical American—and how many years it would take for that American to earn what the high earner did in one year. At the end of the piece is a methodology section where ProPublica describes how it arrived at its numbers, which is a good example of transparency.
The range of visual approaches and the use of sound create a unique narrative arc in Jelle Krings’ interactive multimedia story about asylum seekers and migration policy.
How to Handle Stories with Multiple, Multiple Sources?
Media coverage can privilege certain people or positions over others by giving them voice, by including them in the frame—or not. In election coverage, you’d hope to offer citizens a wide range of ideas from a wide range of candidates. By focusing on only the more popular candidates, journalists might limit the information—and the field of candidates—prematurely. (Can you name all of the candidates who ran for president in the last election? Or the parties that nominated them?)
So let’s look at the Democratic presidential primary race of 2019-20: How do you realistically cover the 20+ candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination in a meaningful way? Here are a couple of ideas in the national press that we found.
The New York Times produced this package of interviews where all of the candidates answered the same set of questions on camera. They updated it in 2020 as the race progressed. Using video lets the viewer assess the candidates’ mannerisms and speaking voice as well as the content of what they say. But video can use up resources and time—both for the content producer and for the audience—and it’s not always necessary in order to tell the story.
The Washington Post's piece has a different approach, and it provides some substantive links as you scroll through. In January 2020, after the field had been winnowed some, Wapo posted a new interactive piece that compares candidates' positions with your response to a range of questions.
As the field narrowed, Politico.com updated its piece, where you could search by issue or candidate.
Graphic Novel News
The Washington Post's innovative illustrated six-part series about the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election includes explanatory audio, links to the sections of the Mueller Report that are being illustrated, and other related links. The reporting team says, "Dialogue in text bubbles is taken verbatim from Mueller’s report, which cited text messages, contemporaneous notes and investigative interviews with first-hand witnesses who described conversations among key players. Words within quotation marks reflect exact dialogue included in the report, or comments made at public events or in media interviews." There's a short behind-the-scenes video that backgrounds the project.
"In Jennifer's Room"
This animation tells the story of a mentally ill patient who was raped while under the care of a state institution. The accompanying series, "The Broken Shield," delved into the lack of serious investigations or responses by the state despite 36 rapes at state institutions. The illustrations tell a serious story, and allow reporters to respect the privacy of the woman and her mother. Sara Dickenson Quinn reports on challenges illustrator Marina Luz faced in animating a sensitive investigative story.