Fifteen Journalism-Related Panels for SXSW Interactive 2012

Earlier this week, the colossal film, interactive, and music festival known as SXSW announced the opening of the 2012 SXSW PanelPicker, a community-driven voting portal that allows people to vote on panels which they wish to see at the upcoming conference. The PanelPicker votes and comments comprise 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot, with the SXSW Staff and SXSW Advisory Board accounting for 30% and 40% respectively. Voting is open from now until 11:59pm CT on Friday, September 2, 2011.

For those of you who may not be familiar with SXSW, here’s a brief video from SXSW that gives an overview of the conference:

While there are three distinct portions of the conference, SXSW Interactive offers the most diverse group of topics, especially for journalists. Currently, there are over 50 journalism-related panels up for voting in the PanelPicker. I’ve culled through them all, and here are fifteen which I think would be great for journalists of all kinds. Each panel description also includes a link to vote for the panel on the PanelPicker (voting does require registering for a free PanelPicker account).

Content and Coding is Not a Commodity

Description: Geeks see code as art and content as stuff. Journalists see code as stuff and content as the art. Geeks may say “provide me content” while journalists are like “build this site.” With that kind of attitudes, it’s hard to get buy-in from the other side and why the web is plagued by low-quality aggregators or clunky news sites. What coders and journalists should understand: they have more in common than not. Both sides are motivated by their craft and a desire to feel that an audience is experiencing their work, whether though prose or programming. Coders and writers are not interchangeable, that great talent can be an order of magnitude more effective than mediocre talent. Though discussions of case studies and mistakes, this panel will explain from both the journalists’ and the programmers’ perspectives how to speak a language they will understand. Successful projects form partnerships with advice and consultation from the earliest stages, rather than as an afterthought.

Speakers: Raju Nariestti, The Washington Post; Benjamin Balter, FCC

Vote for “Content and Coding is Not a Commodity”


Digital Voices, Meet Media Consolidation

Description: The political adage, never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, rested on the tremendous capital costs involved in running a newspaper. Those costs have been swept away by a cheap digital media tsunami that has unleashed millions of voices. Media conglomerates are shuttering newspapers, buying digital upstarts like the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, and launching vertical hyperlocals like Patch. The nature of the power law means that A-list sites get a disproportionate share of eyeballs. As Clay Shirky wrote in 2003, “the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.” So much for millions of voices. Let’s talk about the impact of media consolidation on public interest (political) journalism and civic life and explore our role as disrupters of the status quo. Examples include crowd-sourced visualization of media consolidation and digital media literacy modules, modules that need you for maximum impact.

Speaker: Kathy Gill, University of Washington

Vote for “Digital Voices, Meet Media Consolidation”


Election 2012: Campaigns, Coverage & The Internet

Description: It’s not just the politicians who are turning to social media to announce candidacies, influence public debates or galvanize volunteers, but also activists and pundits are rethinking how they monitor, measure and influence the campaign from grassroots to grasstops. From fact checking smear campaigns on Twitter to special interest e-mail listservs to owning a domain before the opposition does and simply interacting in real-time with a campaign, social media has changed campaign culture and elections for good. This panel will examine the ways in which social networks have redefined the political landscape of the 2012 presidential election with viewpoints from journalists, scholars, and campaign practitioners.

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