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.
The Economist, in one of its leaders this week
, argues that blogs have on balance contributed to the improvement of standards. This is not a new argument, but it is new in coming from The Economist.
The newsmagazine asserts that the blogosphere has helped readers find resources (academic papers cited in blogs are better consumed, for instance) and widened participation in discourse.
"Admittedly, for every lost prophet there is a crank who is simply lost. Yet despite the low barriers to entry, blogs do impose some intellectual standards. Errors of fact or logic are spotted, ridiculed and corrected. Areas of disagreement are highlighted and sometimes even narrowed. Some of the best contributors do not even have blogs of their own, serving instead as referees, leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s sites and often criss-crossing party lines," The Economist notes.
As for concerns about the civility of discussion, The Economist asks: When was it ever so?
Brad Flora, one of this year's Knight News Challenge winners, outline five principal reasons
why local blogs fail. Their mistakes seem common enough that there ought to be remedies, but Flora notes in his post for PBS' MediaShift they're committed time and again.
1. People too often work alone instead of seeking collaboration and confidants.
2. Bloggers don't know their markets and their technical capabilities.
3. Their content is, well, too weak to make an impression.
4. They haven't figured out their business models.
5. They are lacking a distribution strategy.
Flora elaborates: People make the mistake by assuming they're starting a blog. No, he says, you're starting a small business.
The New York Times reviews the declaration last week that the Web is dead by contending with media history. Its conclusion
: Media adapt to newcomers and rarely die just because of them.
"Today, traditional media companies face the adaptive challenge posed by the Internet. That challenge is not just the technology itself, but how it has altered people’s habits of media consumption," writes Steve Lohr.
But Lohr notes that history shows evolution, not dissolution, is the order of the day when media are threatened by new forms of communication. What is different this time is the speed of change and the disruption of consumption patterns. As one academic tells him, change has changed.
College students don't wear watches, they carry cellphones as time pieces. They don't email, they text. People don't talk as much on phones; they text and arrange calls for important matters. People aren't blogging as much; instead, they're using social networks to tell their stories.
The term "hyperlocal" suggests several things: Very granular content on specific places, aggregated content that depicts a new local picture, or subject matter or content that deals with geographic organization, among them. Sarah Hartley, who runs the city blogs for The Guardian, thinks we need to reconsider the
She thinks it's more about an attitude than about geography. She's identified 10 features of hyperlocal:
1. The author's participation.
2. The blurring of opinion and fact.
3. The community's participation.
4. Small in scale but large in impact.
10. Frugal and economically fledgling.
Are there others? What do you think?
The Canadian analytics firm Sysomos has reviewed more than 100 million blog posts to produce data
on age, gender and demographics of the blogosphere. There are some surprises in there.
To those who suggest women don't blog --- and that's an old assumption, mind you --- Sysomos notes that 50.9% of the posts came from women.
To those who believe older people are big bloggers --- and that's a new assumption --- Sysomos notes that 53.3% of the posts came from those 21-35 and 20.2% from those 20 younger. Only about 7 per cent came from those over 50.
More than 29% of blogs emanate from the United States, by far the largest national contributor to the sphere.
Leading U.S. communications scholars have published an assessment
of the capabilities of citizen journalism as newspaper resources decline. Their conclusion: the paper's journalism can't be replaced.
Authors Stephen Lacy, Margaret Duffy, Daniel Riffe, Esther Thorson and Ken Fleming have examined 86 citizen blog sites, 53 citizen news sites and 63 daily newspaper sites. On the basis of what newspapers produce, the academics determined the bloggers and citizen sites could not be substituted.
Somewhat surprisingly, the study found the citizen sites weren't timely. The structure of content was different. The volunteer nature of the creation hampered timeliness.
But the authors found these sites can be effective complements to newspapers.
A year-long study
from the Pew Research Center sheds some light on the way Americans are using social media differently than legacy media.
First off, nearly half depend on those around them for some of their news, an indication that social media has gained enormous clout but also an indication that friends play a powerful role in broad news consumption.
And any suggestion that social media somehow deliver the same note is challenged in the study. Pew reported that social media tend to highlight very different stories --- not only different from legacy media, but different from each other.
On blogs, the stories are emotive. On Twitter, technology rules. YouTube is serendipitous.
Legacy media still aren't necessarily picking up on the viral hits, either. Pew found only one instance, the so-named climategate scandal, that seemed to prosper in social media then migrate to the mainstream.
Having said that, blogs depend heavily on mainstream media for their source material, the study found.
The scholarly resource Oxford Analytica has examined the impact
of blogs on the media landscape and concluded they will fill important gaps but not kill the traditional business.
That's a simplification of the elaborate, clearly constructed analysis by Oxford of the contribution blogs are making to media. Among other things it says blogs:
- Media are becoming more collaborative, transparent and participatory.
- Blogs are compelling businesses to be more responsive and open.
- Traditional media are trawling blogs for tips and leads on stories they no longer can easily cover.
While the recession and transformation of media are creating seismic shifts of retrenchment and consolidation, Oxford concludes traditional media will find itself back at the heart of the more diverse business.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a
thorough report on the social media habits of younger and older Americans alike.
Among its major findings:
1. Blogging is in decline among young people but up among older ones.
2. Three-quarters of young people are using social networks.
3. Half of older adults are using social networks and have more than one user profile.
4. Facebook is the most common platform for older adults and Twitter is also an experience for older adults and not teens.
5. About six in 10 younger adults use the Internet for information on current issues and politics.
It's an exhaustive report that concludes mobile is already enormous and bound to grow further.