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Francis Pisani: Covering networks: a challenge for journalists by Mind Map: Francis Pisani: Covering networks: a
challenge for journalists
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Francis Pisani: Covering networks: a challenge for journalists

Networks have been constantly gaining in relevance in the last ten years. Even when we don"t notice, they constantly fill the news, from terrorists organizations to the way we fight epidemics and the flows of the global economy.  Three main reasons explain this trend: the penetration of Information and Communication Technologies (ITC) which work on a network infrastructure according to a network logic; thanks to these ITC which allow horizontal communication, networks as a form of social organization are becoming more efficient than hierarchies; the emergence of a new science of networks allaws us to understand better how they work and to pay more attention to them. This is becoming a challenge for journalists because networks are harder to cover (no boundary, no headquarter, no spokesperson, among other reasons), and because they operate on a logic that we have not been trained to understand. The objective of these sessions is to bring the attention to the importance of network related news, give some elements that allow understanding better how they operate, and provide a basic toolkit for journalists to cover them as efficiently as we have learned to cover traditional institutions. We will do this through rapid case studies, interviews with a couple of network specialists and some exercises.

1 - Networks today

Networks we hear about today and how they are covered

• Al Qaeda, terrorists organization, narcos...

• Smart Mobs, impromptu political movements...

• Epidemics, SARS...

• Memes

• Blackouts and cascade effects

• The Internet, and the Web

• Social networks

• Production networks

• Mixed structures in hierarchical organizations

Are they more important? And why?

• An old social form rejuvenated by ICT

• The organization aspect: they are more efficient

• The infrastructure aspect: they are everywhere

• The cultural aspect: questioning hierarchies

• The knowledge aspect: an emerging science

• The hipe aspect: a tendency to see networks everywhere


• In Mexican society find topics in which you see a network dimensions. Let's discuss.

2 - Challenges for journalists

Coverage issues

• No headquarter

• No territory

• No "chief"

• No spokeperson

• Different kind of relationship (no belonging)

• Fluid organization

The problem with not understanding networks

• 2 case studies taken from recent news, Dubai assassination: Mossad only?, China vs Google: gvt + network of hackers

• Some problems:, • Understanding late, • Not understanding, • Not communicating

• Understanding networks, participation and the evolution of media, • P2P and horizontal communication, • Conversations, • Participatory media


• Draw the network structure and flaws of a goup you know well. Compare with the hierarchical structure if possible.

3 - How to cover networks : A toolkit

Networks basics

• Elementary particles, • Nodes, links, hubs, and clusters, • Flows, • Swarming, • Leaderless, • Tipping points and structural holes. The positions that matter most.

• An emerging science, • Small worlds, • social networks, • network structure ans network functions


• How would you cover the narcos?

Final discussion: How can we cover networks?

• Covering networks and network journalism

• Investigation journalism and networks

• Collaborative...

• Let's try to work together on the conclusion of these sessions.



• 9/11 attacks graph

• Nortwest blackout cascade effect explanation

• Fighting SARS

• Within a company


Fritjof Capra ITV

Article about medieval France

Mindjet On VsualThinking


Watts, Duncan, Six Degrees, The Science of a Connected Age

Benkler, Yochai The Wealth of Networks, How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Barabasi, Albert-Laszlo, Linked, The New Science of Networks

Shirky, Clay

Arquila, John, Ronfeldt, David Networks annd Netwars

Fritjof Capra, # 1997, The Web of Life, # 2004, The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living