Some media stories of note for Thursday, May 16, 2013:
It may seem incongruent, but as the White House deals with criticism of the Department of Justice's seizure of phone records for reporters at The Associated Press, it is reviving its efforts to create legislation that would shield reporters' sources and communications from disclosure. The New York Times reports
that the President's Senate liaison called Wednesday to ask a Democratic Senator to reintroduce a version of a 2009 bill that didn't make it through Congress.The New Republic explores
the context of the DOJ/AP phone-seizure issue by looking at the chilling effect official surveillance might have on national security reporting. It interviews journalists who believe their phones were tapped and activities tracked. Sources are less willing to part with sensitive information in this climate, the story concludes.
Ken Doctor, writing on "newsonomics" for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
examines what went wrong with NewsRight, the effort by the AP and others to deal with illegal or unfair use of their content online. NewsRight was wound up this week. Doctor chronicles the questionable and vague strategy, the evolution of the news licensing field with such players as NewsCred and Flipboard, and some of the decisions made along the way. "Thumbs down to content consortia," he writes. "Thumbs up to letting the freer market of entrepreneurs make sense of the content landscape, with publishers getting paid something for what the companies still know how to do: produce highly valued content."
Some media stories of note for Wednesday, May 15, 2013:The Guardian is reporting
that China is attempting to curtail the blogging activities of writers and intellectuals by closing their social media accounts. In recent weeks notable social justice critics have been silenced in social media. There were other recent efforts to curtail mainstream media's use of western-based content.
The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has defended the seizure of telephone records of The Associated Press. The New York Times reports
he says the article that prompted the seizure arose from a serious leak of information with serious national security implications that put Americans at risk. The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan,
weighs in with a critique of the Obama Administration as one of the most secretive and threatening to the press, with implications for readers and democracy. The Times' media writer, David Carr,
looks at how it's not only government snooping on us, but all of us snooping on all of us. The New Yorker is releasing
the technical specs on Strongbox, software that permits reporters to cover their tracks as they reach out to the magazine. It uses a particular network and masks your IP address, information about your computer and browser, and won't plant cookies or third-party content. AllThingsDigital surmises
that the release of the program, created by the late Aaron Swartz, is aimed at letting other organizations create their own versions.
Media stories of note for Tuesday, May 14, 2013:
The Associated Press revealed Monday
that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly obtained two months of telephone records for its journalists at several of its operations. AP decried the move
as an unprecedented intrusion into the rights of a free press. Details of the probe are not known, but it was believed to be in connection with AP's reporting on a foiled terrorist plot. The New Yorker's John Cassidy looks
at the wider political implications of the issue for the Obama Administration.
The Bloomberg terminal controversy continues to draw commentary. It was revealed that reporters were able to advance stories on the basis of their monitoring of login activity of clients on the Bloomberg data terminals. Gawker notes that
the monitoring was supposed to stop, but didn't. And the Guardian suggests
the matter is not a big deal. That said, the Wall Street Journal reports
Bloomberg and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are cooperating on examining the issue.
Joel Smith, writing for the Pacific Standard,
explores an innovative effort in sociology and journalism in Alhambra, California, to study the news consumption of residents and marry them to a grassroots organization that would use a range of contributors to produce community journalism. He writes that the effort has promise in linking expertise in consumerism to a market's need for content.
Some media stories of note for Thursday, May 2, 2013:
Friday is World Press Freedom Day. In advance of it, the annual report from the Committee to Protect Journalists
has been released to demonstrate where it is most hazardous to practice the craft --- its Impunity Index. Nigeria, Somalia, Brazil and Pakistan feature rising levels of deadly, unpunished violence against journalists. The report suggests conditions are improving in Nepal and Russia. Poynter's Andrew Beaujon reports
that Iraq remains the most dangerous country and that half of the victimized journalists worldwide covered politics or corruption.
The Los Angeles Times, taking the lead from recent language style changes at The Associated Press
, has updated its guidelines for reporting on immigration. Its reader representative, Deirdre Edgar, writes that
the organization will no longer refer to individuals as illegal or undocumented immigrants, but will instead describe their circumstances.
A job posting isn't always notable, but this one arguably is. Twitter is looking to increase its connection with journalism
in seeking its first-ever Head of News and Journalism to cultivate and manage relationships with news organizations and expand the reach of the platform into the craft. The job posting is indicative of the ambition of Twitter to develop a greater presence in conventional news.
Media stories of note for Monday, April 8, 2013:
The good news for U.S. newspapers is that their revenue declines slowed in 2012, in part because some digital revenue stepped in somewhat to ease the slide, particularly revenue from digital subscriptions. The bad news is that the decline continued, the Associated Press reports
, to the extent of about two per cent. Revenues for the industry were $38.6 billion, down from $39.5 billion.
Sources of strong revenue for smaller community newspapers are legal notices on bankruptcies, name changes, estate wills and the like. But a proposed California law would permit such notices to only be posted online,
a move that would seriously undercut the business models of the papers. Other states have started to implement such laws, in part because they are more affordable ways to publish such notices.
The New York Times examines the growing presence of sponsored content
online, noting that other forms of advertising have not been effective and that the association of a brand with editorial material has started to demonstrate greater appeal. Of course, the approach has its critics.
Media stories of note for Wednesday, April 4, 2013:
Matthew Ingram, writing for paidContent,
examines the effort by the new owners of the Orange County Register --- owners with no media experience --- to rebuild the newspaper and online site. They have invested millions of dollars in content and in gestures to make the operations subscriber-first, rather than advertiser-first, entities.
Ben Elowitz, the CEO and co-founder of Wetpaint, writes for AllThingsDigital
that it is important for media companies to understand the principles of programming. Not computer programming, but broadcast programming, and how there is a time to deliver particular content to particular audiences. He argues that sites would be much more successful if they understood that timing is everything.
The Associated Press has altered its Stylebook to remove the term "illegal immigrant," a move that has implications for the language media use to describe those living without legal permission in the country. It has transferred the concept to the action from the person. Thus there is "illegal immigration" and people living illegally in the country. Poynter examines the implication
of this seemingly subtle move.
In his latest weekly post
for Online Journalism Review, Robert Niles muses about the latent recognition by Associated Press of the term website (formerly Web site), then argues students shouldn't be focusing on AP style.
Instead, he suggests, search engine optimization would be far more useful. It would help link content to an audience, so it would be ultimately more important than understanding intricacies of news agency language and grammar style.
To those who suggest students learn both, Niles correctly points out that the two aren't always compatible. SEO is better with full names and phrasing that often prefers brevity over full-fledged passages.
The post explores one of the tensions in today's newsrooms: How to publish across platforms without reworking content extensively. A newspaper story isn't necessarily SEO-friendly, and the SEO-friendly Web file
Niles notes that algorithms are bending over time to be more reader-friendly, so the notion that it's a matter of writing for machines isn't apt.
Niles is right about another point: There are no SEO textbooks out there. Lots of tips, but no books.
At the World Media Summit in Beijing, the world's largest press baron and the world's largest wire service leader voiced the same message
about the end of free content online.
Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. made clear: A paywall is coming. And Rob Curley of the Associated Press sent the signal: Micropayments will be the approach.
Murdoch's speech sound bite was the most provocative: ""The aggregators and plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for the co-opting of our content. But if we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid content, it will be the content creators — the people in this hall — who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs who triumph."
But Curley was no shrinking violet: "We will no longer tolerate the disconnect between people who devote themselves — at great human and economic cost — to gathering news of public interest and those who profit from it without supporting it."