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Women in Media: Conversations in Journalism 2015

April 18, 2015
Columbia University

Congrats to the Columbia Journalism School Women in Media group for organizing the 2nd annual Conversations in Journalism conference, a day-long conference with wide ranging conversations about the craft and profession of journalism with a highly impressive line-up of female speakers. Here’s a quick summary of the fascinating panel discussions:

The Changing Landscape of Media
Moderator: Susan E. McGregor
Panelists: Lisa Hsia, Kelly Senyei, Dorinda Bagwell-Angelucci, Sarah Darville

The media landscape is changing fast and everyone (brands, networks, publications, content creators, etc.) are all just trying to keep up. Several of the panelists highlighted to need to stay a student — constantly learning and adapting.

Lisa Hsia from Bravo noted that her network thinks about all their shows as a multiplatform experience, which pushes them to experiment with new platforms (i.e. Periscope) to engage viewers in deeper ways. Lisa recounts that she needs to push innovation and experimentation as a low cost, and demonstrate the ability to scale and repeat in selling the ideas to higher ups and sponsors. Kelly Senyei, CJS alum and owner of a food & lifestyle site, shared practical tips on knowing your audience and their behaviors, tailoring the message to the platform, and dividing your efforts between creating great content and distribution/marketing.

Given the barrage of content and new tools, CSJ’s Susan McGregor aptly asked, who do you prioritize and allocate your time? Sarah Darville of NYC’s Chalkbeat noted that they invested more in improving their newsletter after getting positive responses in a reader survey.

Main takeaways

  • fish where the fish are; place related content in existing communities
  • invest in building relationship with your audience (via newsletter, etc.), and they will follow you
  • network with people and share skills

Read more

Films that Make a Difference


“Blackfish,” which examined what led a killer whale to drown a trainer in 2010 at SeaWorld’s Orlando park. (NYT)

Full film with English subtitles

“Under the Dome,” a scathing investigative documentary on the health harms of China’s industry-driven air pollution

Conference on Internet Governance & Cyber-security

Watch all conference videos


May 14-15, 2015
Columbia University

Who gets to control the internet? What will the user experience look like in the near future, with governments, tech companies, privacy rights activists all pushing different agenda? Columbia SIPA and the Global Commission on Internet Governance did a fantastic job convening some of the foremost academics and policy experts at the 2015 Conference on Internet Governance & Cyber-security (see agenda) for a two-day discussion on these timely issues. I’ve was fortunate enough to attend day one, and recorded some key themes that stuck out to me:

Many speakers, including Vinton Cerf, Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, identified fragmentation as one of the major threats facing the internet. Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, also touched on the danger of having a fragmented rather than fully connected internet.

Rebecca MacKinnon, Director of Ranking Digital Rights Project at New America, railed again that type of technical determinism that absolves individual and companies of responsibility in working towards a more open and free internet.

I couldn’t help but draw frequent comparisons to the post-2015 negotiations during the panel on “The Future of Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance.” Fadi Chehadé, CEO & President of ICANN, recounted the complaint of one UN Ambassador, who found internet governance much murkier than the rigidly refined processes of the UN.

Kathryn Brown, President and CEO of the Internet Society, suggested that we should focus more on collaboration than “multistakeholderism” and called for more trusted and transparent decision making. Fadi, who prefers “solutions over labels,” suggested that the term’s connotations may act as a barrier to implementable agreements.

Beth Noveck, GCIG Commissioner & Director of NYU GovLab, shared her perspective on managing more voices in the decision making process. The internet has been celebrated as an egalitarian party to which everyone is invited, though Beth noted that “opening the flood doors is not optimal for decision making.” New tools built upon the internet’s connectivity allows us to see more and better options, to identify the relevant experts, and to get more people involved in problem solving.

It’s already a great success that communications technologies has helped to create a more informed public on complex, niche issues, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The internet is one of the newest fundamentally transformative tools man has created, and we have “the ability to construct processes that are manageable for decision making…proliferating opportunities for people to participate in specific and constructive ways.”

April + May Reading List

Helping countries reduce their exposure to climate damage, and democratizing energy access while reducing carbon intensity are two imperatives for our fundamental security needs. Aligning all of our interests around them should allow us to reach a universal agreement. If we want to achieve this objective — and doing so is essential for humanity — we will need everyone to contribute.

Laurent Fabius: Our Climate Imperatives in The New York Times (April 24, 2015)


AN ECOMODERNIST MANIFESTO – signatories from academic, research, and film

Climate Change Questions for Young Citizen Scientists – a three unit lesson on climate chance with research, lectures, and resources from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NYT’s Learning Network (April 22, 2015)


What the Solar Industry Can Teach You About Social Selling – By Richard Dumas in Social Times (April 14, 2015)


Innovation Isn’t Making World Equal – By Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times (April 14, 2015)

With the series, called “Breakthrough,” G.E. aims to create high-quality branded content that will highlight scientific innovation, some of it involving scientists who work for or with the company.

General Electric Planning Television Series Covering Science and Tech – By Sydney Ember in The New York Times (April 13, 2015)

Trash Food – By Chris Offutt in Oxford American (April 10, 2015)

Sea level rise inspired art exhibit at 56th Venice Biennale

An artwork that gets your feet wet is about to be unveiled in Venice at the 56th International Biennale. It’s the national pavilion of the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu, which will be one of the first places in the world to disappear if sea levels continue to rise.

Artwork and photo by Taiwanese eco-artist Vincent Huang. Read more at BBC.

Fish where the fish are

So NYT, the last remaining paper of record, will publish directly to Facebook and certainly set off a firestorm of hand wringing across the already embattled news industry.

As an avid NYT news consumer and former FB user, I’m particularly interested in:

  • Will NYT post exclusive content on FB that’s not accessible off the social platform?
  • What’s the selection process of articles that get shared to FB?
  • How will the more robust and personal analytics on FB NYT articles inform its editorial/content strategy?
  • How will this move change news consumption habits i.e. introduce NYT content to current non-readers or get casual NYT readers to read more of it?
  • Is this the beginning of the end, or end of the beginning? 

UPDATE: So FB Instant Articles functions as a sort of information super highway that loads their partner articles much faster than external links. FB is being quite generous with sharing ad dollars with publications, particularly in this initial stage. After all, what’s FB without free content?