What is original about Charlie Beckett’s ‘conceptual model of networked journalism’?
Charlie Beckett, the Director of the LSE and LCC thinktank POLIS, and former Senior Editor of Channel 4 News, has just published his book SuperMedia - and if you follow this blog you’ll find his conceptual model of “networked journalism” rather familiar…
Below you’ll find my ‘Model for the 2st century newsroom’ and, below it, Beckett’s own “conceptual structure”,
Beckett acknowledges that “In my attempt to give some sort of conceptual structure to this process I am indebted to the work of Birmingham City University’s Paul Bradshaw and his “Model For A 21st Century Newsroom” at his website, Onlinejournalismblog.com.”
Unfortunately, he’s not indebted enough to directly reference the post that included the model (despite numerous footnotes referencing other blog posts) – or to include the original model in the book – or, of course, to mention it on the page containing the model (i.e. the one that will be photocopied, etc.).
Because, for all his talk of indebtedness his personal claim to the model is quite clear when he introduces it: “As part of the definition of this more connected or “distributed” journalism I want to imagine a different kind of “newsroom.”
Except that “conceptual structure” had already been created back in September 2007, and this is merely a slightly tweaked reproduction.
I’m not laying any claim to the constituent ideas behind the 21st century newsroom (which are linked to in the original post). And this isn’t an ego trip – I’m more than happy for anyone to rip the model to pieces, rebuild it, adapt it or build on it. That’s why I published it. That’s why I write this blog. What is frustrating is the absence of the transparency we should expect from academic publishing and aspiring networked journalists. (The proper academic thing to do – and what the editor Anna Feuchtwang should also have done – is use the phrase “adapted from the Model for a 21st Century Newsroom, Bradshaw, 2007″).
Even more frustrating is… well, couldn’t he have done something better with it? Surely there’s some holes to pick in it? Or big improvements to make? It’s a nice illustration of how it works in practice, but…
But perhaps I’m missing something – perhaps indeed, Beckett’s model is so substantially different as to not warrant any more than a mention of my name. Perhaps I’m expecting too much academic rigour from the head of a university thinktank, or ‘networked journalism’ standards of transparency. I’d love to know your thoughts.
If you want to see it in context the graph and its attribution can also be found on pages 54-57 of chapter 3, available for download from Harvard University (PDF):
UPDATE: Charlie emailed quickly to clear things up: “Any fault in attribution is down to me and my transfer from TV journalism to book form. It was a very late addition and I wasn’t careful enough. I’m not a trained academic and I don’t pretend to be one. I spend a lot of time linking to your work, both literally online and in referencing your work to other people.”
He has also agreed to amend the PDF with appropriate references, and include an addendum slip in the US edition clarifying the origin of the model.
Thanks Charlie, now, as you say, Let’s get back to the real issue which is the future of journalism.