Some media stories of note for Monday, May 20, 2013:The New Yorker examines
the ethical challenge of what a media organization does with a sponsor who might be aggrieved. Jane Mayer looks at how PBS dealt with David Koch, the conservative billionaire/philanthropist who was featured in a critical documentary it was about to broadcast.
Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York TImes Company, spoke last week to Columbia Business School graduates and suggested the decision to institute an online paywall was among the shrewdest moves the organization has ever made. His commencement address did not note, as Jeff John Roberts did in paidContent,
that the Times' subscription base may have reached a plateau.
The BBC Trust has given a general seal of approval to the BBC websites, but found that its local news services aren't as strong as they ought to be. The Guardian reports
the Trust identified some weaknesses in quality and the ability of users to personalize content locally.
Some media stories of note for Friday, May 17, 2013:
Margaret Talbot, writing for The New Yorker online,
examines the recent spate of incidents involving the Obama Administration and the press. She argues that they have damaged the credibility of the government and threatened the freedom of the press. An effect, she fears, is the chilling of sources of information who fear their anonymity cannot be protected. The result of that will be fewer stories that explore significant secretive information and a reduction in civil liberties.BBC reports
on a new British study of 35,000 young people that suggests they now prefer to read on a screen than on paper. They engage in social networking and one-third prefer to read fiction on a screen. The National Literary Trust report, based on interviews with those eight to 16 years old, concluded that 52 per cent preferred a screen, while only 32 per cent preferred a print experience.
The controversy this week involving Bloomberg reporters monitoring the online activity of their clients on Bloomberg terminals has raised a series of ethical issues. The Associated Press has a look
at what experts feel is a shifting landscape in which more access to technology and user activity will permit greater access to consumer information once considered private --- and where privacy is not as respected as it once was.
James Breiner, writing for Poynter
, looks at recent developments in journalism education to teach students how to be entrepreneurial. With more opportunities to build businesses, and less likelihood of one-company careers, journalism schools are finding it valuable to impart business start-up and operational skills in their journalists to teach them how to create and manage their own companies.
Media notes for Thursday, April 25, 2013:
Most national British newspapers have rejected a government royal charter plan to regulate the press and have proposed an alternative plan that avoids state-sponsored regulation they say would reduce press freedom. BBC reports
the move, supported so far by nine of 11 national titles, has thrown open the debate once more on how to regulate the press following the Leveson inquiry's efforts to identify a new process in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
The New York TImes, which Bloomberg notes
missed analysts' revenue expectations in its first-quarter results, has revealed a new digital strategy. Forbes.com reports
the plan includes tiered pricing that would permit access to "important and interesting" stories only at a lower rate (a plan now termed NYT Junior, aimed at younger readers), an expansion of its live events, and even an initiative to introduce games.
Not so long ago it was considered beneficial to be included on Twitter lists because it spread your content and associated you with particular expertise. But Nina Diamond, writing for Poynter,
suggests journalists reexamine which Twitter lists they are on and consider removing themselves from ones that do not help their brands, make you uncomfortable or are inappropriate.
Media stories of note for Tuesday, April 16, 2013:
The explosions near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday were captured by media, but Erik Wemple of the Washington Post notes how Twitter served as a form of media ombudsman
in the hours that followed to verify and not the many assertions and sources that emerged with information about the blasts. Wemple notes Twitter is also a home for those emphasizing caution in reporting on breaking news.
There continues a dispute between the London School of Economics and the BBC over an LSE trip to North Korea in which the BBC had embedded three journalists posing as professors. The Guardian reports
some of the students indicated BBC did not gain informed consent and they only learned of the undercover journalists upon arriving in North Korea. BBC insists the students were briefed in Beijing about the move.The Daily Telegraph notes
the European Commission has poured millions of euros into initiatives aimed at stronger Europe-wide regulation of the press. Among its early work is a report that recommends newspapers be regulated as are broadcasters, much more tightly and with requirements for balance.
Media stories of note for Tuesday, March 26, 2013:
An international study commissioned by the BBC examines the use of television and tablets in consuming news. It suggests a TV-first habit remains in the consumption of breaking news but that tablets and the Internet are increasingly the resource to dig deeper. Rather than take away from television, tablets are integrating into an environment of smartphones and laptops, says the study reported in TechCrunch.
Indeed, nearly have of the tablet owners say they are watching more television.
The BBC has created a database of "expert women" to increase the proportion of women seen and heard on its news programming. Poynter notes
the database is part of an initiative that recently saw BBC train experts in presenting their views at its BBC Academy. A YouTube channel was launched featuring some of these presentations.
Ken Doctor, the news executive who writes for Nieman Journalism Lab
, explores the recent State of the News Media report's assertion that most news companies may have missed the opportunity to capitalize on the emerging mobile and local digital advertising market. The strength of the so-called GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Apple) in securing the front row may have precluded their significant presence.
Media stories of note for Tuesday:
The British Information Commissioner has expressed concerns
about the potential impact of recommendations of the Leveson inquiry into journalism. The Guardian reports Christopher Graham is particularly worried about a proposal to permit those covered by the press to have access to information journalists hold about them, a move he says would have a "chilling" effect on investigative work. He also believes the inquiry's recommendations reshape his office in a manner that borders on that of a press regulator.
Steve Hermann, the editor of the BBC News website, outlines for the Journalism.co.uk site
a range of essential skills for the emerging journalist: traditional curiosity and legal understanding, speed and accuracy, visual storytelling, social media and an appreciation of data.
Joyce Wadler, a reporter for The New York Times, writes for the Silurian News (reprinted here
by the Columbian Journalism Review) on the importance of building trust as a journalist.
The independent inquiry called to examine the BBC's handling of allegations involving its former host, Jimmy Savile, has found signficant structural problems in the way the network dealt with the controversy. Several executives and managers have been reassigned or are retiring as the report is issued.
The Pollard inquiry
found serious mistakes were made in dropping a BBC Newsnight investigation into allegations that Savile, the now-deceased former host of two popular BBC shows, had sexually assaulted many young people.
Pollard concluded BBC was "completely incapable" of dealing
with the fallout of the squelched investigation, in particular an inability to get the truth about why the program dropped the investigation. The inquiry blamed, in part, the rigid management structure of BBC.
One person redeemed in the inquiry is Helen Boaden, who had temporarily stepped aside as news director. She will return to her role after the inquiry found she played no part in stopping the investigation.
A separate report
by the BBC editorial standards committee examined the incorrect identification of a former MP as being involved in the Savile scandal. It strongly criticized BBC's reporting on the matter.
The British Broadcasting Corp. has issued new guidelines
for its journalists when using social media.
They are divided in three
: personal use, program use and professional use. There is little that differentiates them from the guidelines for other organizations.It advises people not to include BBC in any personal title, although they can acknowledge that is where they work. It suggests avoiding anything that identifies political preferences, even in their personal use. Largely the document is about exercising common sense, recognizing that everything is public, and discouraging anything that might bring BBC into disrepute.A separate Twitter guideline was published. An element of the guideline is the requirement for a second set of eyes on Tweets.
The sleeping giant within the cost of gathering news is the legal expense to help journalists publish with minimal risk and to defend with minimal damage. Few constituencies are more stressed than the United Kingdom, where the legal framework is challenging for journalism.
The Guardian reports today
on the British Broadcasting Corporation's bills --- nearly 700,000 pounds in recent years --- simply on legal advice to deal with public complaints about its work.
Particular challenge exists to its Middle East coverage and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent defending its programming. The BBC had to hire external experts to deal with the details of complicated complaints.
"Senior journalists grumble that the constant stream of complaints and legal challenges ties up staff in mounting a defence, often of individual news items or even single quotes; while at the same time complainants are frustrated by the slowness with which complaints are resolved," the article notes.
Internal concerns at BBC suggest the process of dealing with public complaints is cumbersome and open to abuse. The public broadcaster is examining new procedures to mitigate the problem.
BBC was one of the world's first media organizations to provide inline links to the Web, and in some ways its innovation made a lot of others think through strategies that were keeping (or trying to keep) users inside networks.
The idea was what the New York Times described as "editing the Web," and it meant there was nothing inherently wrong with sending users to external, related sites, because ultimately they could find them, anyway, and it was better to be that central resource than to just be another stop on the trail.
Now BBC has decided to discontinue the strategy, which it had been presenting with the Apture software firm, as it reviews policies. In reading between the lines of its announcement, it might be that the issue is more that it is disappointed with the technology than with the principle --- after all, nearly 90 per cent of the user comments on inline links suggested they were helpful. It sounds as if this is a temporary measure, not a permanent policy.