Media stories of note for Monday, May 13, 2013:
Bloomberg has found itself in the middle of a controversy in recent days. Its reporters are able to see some, but not vast, information about a client's use of its vaunted terminals. And a complaint was launched that suggested this access was inappropriate and infringed on privacy --- or worse, that reporters might have benefited from the access. The New York Times reported
that Bloomberg journalists were trained in how to use the login activity to advance news coverage. Bloomberg's editor-in-chief today responded.
Matthew Winkler indicated that, while the access was limited, it should not have happened. Policies have been changed so reporters have no more access to information than do clients.
Rick Edmonds, writing for Poynter
, notes new McKinsey and Company research
that indicates people spend 92 per cent of their news consumption time on legacy platforms. The research suggests 41 per cent of the time is spent with television, 35 per cent with newspapers and magazines, and 16 per cent with radio. Laptops and desktops account for four per cent, and tablets and smartphones amount to two per cent of time spent.
Frédéric Filloux, in his weekly Monday Note
, examines the different strategies of The New York Times and Washington Post. The former has created a paywall, the latter is moving toward one. But Filoux notes the Times is increasingly able to develop a digital subscription model and other media firms might be able to do so because the approach is common. "It is increasingly clear that readers are more willing than we once thought to pay for content they value and enjoy," he writes.
Some media stories of note for Friday, May 10, 2013:
Large British newspaper proprietors have made a concession in the negotiation to create a press watchdog. They have conceded they cannot have a veto power over the appointments to the new self-regulating body, a move that aims to assuage concerns that they would steer control of the entity into hands favourable to them. It also makes more likely that other newspaper groups will join the effort to create the regulatory body. Talks are ongoing on the structure of the new watchdog in the wake of the Leveson inquiry, the Guardian reports.
The Centre for International Media Assistance has released a report
that examines the need for ethical standards for media owners. The focus of media ethics has been on journalists, but this handbook examines the conflicts that arise from ownership, particularly the conflict of content against commercial interests. The handbook, written by veteran journalist Eugene Meyer, asserts the need for the application of principles of ownership that are congruent with the journalists in their employ.
Ann Friedman, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review,
argues this is the best moment to be in journalism. There is access to a world of sources, consumers have access to the widest range of media, and journalists have access to those who consume their work. Besides, she argues, there is little point in lamenting the days of old: They aren't coming back.
Media stories of note for Wednesday, April 24, 2013:
Churnalism US is a new tool
to help determine if journalism has been heavily borrowed from other sources. It is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation (which reports on it here)
and the Media Standards Trust. It works by pasting a URL or text into the site, which then patrols the web for similar content. Last week, for instance, it determined that a prematurely published obituary had borrowed heavily from a Wikipedia entry.
ESPN has a new ombudsman starting June 1. Robert Lipsyte has been one of sports journalism's most ardent critics over decades. The New Republic looks at his career
and his outlook in the new role. Lipsyte replaces what had been a team-ombudsman approach at ESPN, which was using Poynter to help resolve public complaint issues.
Last week's British journalism conference, news:rewired, featured a session on media standards and ethics
in the digital age. It produced a five-point guide that emphasizes accuracy over speed, stronger transparency on process, constant addition of value as stories are linked and shared, a commitment to corrections, and a strategy for trolls.
Media Notes for Tuesday:
There continues fallout from CNET's move last week to rescind an award at the annual CES convention to The Dish Network at the direction of CNET's parent company, CBS, a competitor and litigant against Dish. BuzzFeed notes that a leading reporter for CNET has resigned
, saying he could not tolerate the impact on his independence, and The Hollywood Reporter says
that the decision to rescind was approved at the very top of CBS by Les Moonves.
The Atlantic had a busy day in the limelight Monday, first featuring and then dropping an online "paid content" advertorial on the accomplishments of the Church of Scientology. The Hollywood Reporter has a look at the issue.
The feature raised concerns about the seemingly thin line for readers at times online between journalism and advertising. The Next Web reports
that another element of the issue was The Atlantic's decision to moderate the online public comments, but notes the online/offline fuss may have given the sponsor more attention than it would have otherwise received.
Alan Mutter, in his latest post
on his Reflections of a Newsosaur site, analyzes the U.S. newspaper audience changes since 2010 and concludes that three-quarters of the audience is now aged 45 and older. He says that is up from about one-half only three years ago. The difference is the absence of 20- and 30-somethings from the mix. He concludes the newspaper audience wil die off because these younger people won't grow into print readers.
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, takes the latest stab
at addressing the concept of journalistic objectivity in the context of the newsroom she scrutinizes.
She notes that journalism can be personal and effective and she accepts there need to be some boundaries to ensure opinions don't prevail in news reporting. She pits the views of a Times editor on standards, Philip Corbett, and New York University professor Jay Rosen; the former holds to the view there can be impartiality and objectivity, the latter believes it is a myth not worth pursuing.
She concludes there is some merit in the notion of transparency for reporters to disclose their conflicts and associations, that there is a need for news reporters to avoid partisanship, and that journalism should toss out the notion of impartiality through some sort of mathematical equivalency of presented views.
"Get at the truth, above all. But getting at the truth can require setting aside personal views to evaluate evidence fairly. If that’s impartiality, it remains not only worthwhile but crucially necessary," she writes.
In recent days The Journal News of Westchester, New York, used publicly available data to produce a map of gun permit owners
in the Westchester and Rockland counties.
The publication of such data, not the first of its kind, has revived a debate about privacy and journalistic freedom. There is speculation of legislative change to tighten information about permit ownership. The publication even prompted a blogger
to respond with a list of names and addresses of many of the news organization's employees.In his latest column, the Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins said there were several alternatives available to The Journal News to provide greater context and reasoning behind the publication. Just because technology enables the data's release doesn't make it journalistically necessary to pursue, he indicated. The map could have been organized around zip codes, not addresses (as they are in Canada with census data and postal codes).
Tompkins likened the publication to those involving sex offenders. The difference, he says, is that one group has been guilty of a crime in the past and the other hasn't. More importantly, the database missed certain categories of ownership and might provide a false sense of security, he said.
"I like it when journalists take heat for an explosive, necessary, courageous investigation that exposes important wrongdoing," he wrote. "There is journalistic purpose and careful decision-making supporting those stories. But The News Journal is taking heat for starting a gunfight just because it could."
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 latest annual U.S. survey of how Americans view honesty and ethical standards in occupations has found journalists typically
in the middle of the pack of 22 roles, ahead of politicians and those in finance but well behind nurses and doctors.
The Gallup survey
on honesty and ethical standards found 24 per cent rated highly those qualities in journalists, 45 per cent thought them average, and 30 per cent considered them low. Those trust numbers didn't vary much from the previous year and from earlier surveys (a high of 29, a low of 21).
At the top of the list were nurses, with an 85-per-cent high rating, and at the bottom were car dealers, with an eight-per-cent high rating.
The survey was conducted in November.
In recent days a U.S. judge has ordered Google and Oracle to disclose the names of any writers it pays as consultants or promoters of their products and services. The order has puzzled many, but its deadline comes this Friday and is bound to compel the two tech giants to disclose.
The order came amid a court base between the two companies on seemingly unrelated infringement matters. But the disclosure will reveal which writers get funds as journalists from companies they might cover.
Emily Bell, the Guardian columnist and head of the Columbia Journalism school digital journalism centre, writes that the dilemma
for bloggers is significant. She notes the need for tech companies to raise funds on the basis of word of mouth from many of the same journalists in their realm.
"As the power of individual journalists' words rises, salaries paid by journalistic institutions fall. The only real answer is increased transparency about the sources of information, and about individual and corporate payments; and for the sake of all concerned it would be better for this to come from within organisations, rather than from a court order."
A new Australian report
paints a difficult picture for its newspapers but finds editors and senior journalists place a high priority on ethics and quality as they move into an era of greater digital presence.
The study by researchers from the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales interviewed 100 editors and senior journalists. It found them concerned about quality but committed to journalism as a form of public service. They also place a high priority on ethics in their pursuit of quality.
The report expressed concern about the decline of newspaper journalism, in particular, given its prominent role in enabling informed democratic participation. It said journalists need to broaden their discussions with the public "if they want them to take an interest in the future of quality journalism."
The report argues that more work is needed to define excellence in digital journalism, to set criteria and evaluate their success.