Here are some media stories of note for Friday, July 19, 2013:
For much of the week, there has been a debate about the ethics of the latest cover of Rolling Stone magazine, a photo in keeping with the rock-star qualities of most of its other covers. Only this one is of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzokhar Tsarnaev. The editorial decision provoked no small debate and forced the magazine to defend its call.
National Geographic, arguably the most photo-conscious media, presented a reasoned primer
on the debate. On Thursday, Boston Magazine "countered"
with new photos of the bombing suspect as he was caught by police. The photos were taken by a police officer who has since been relieved of duty.
Jacob Harris, a software architect who works at The New York Times, has crafted a strong argument
about the inherent difficulties of using Twitter as a polling device: the demographics aren't aligned with society's, for instance. But he also suggests it's time to address some of these issues with greater information about Twitter statistics and new ways to visualize Twitter data.
David Cohn, the spot.us and cir.ca founder, writes that the day will soon come
when television advertising dollars will be up for greater grabs. While digital operations continue to struggle for the rewards of advertising support, Cohn foresees the intertwining of television and the Internet. When that happens, news organizations won't necessarily be handed the money. But at least, he says, it will be on the table for them to take.
Some media stories of note for Tuesday, May 28, 2013:
Meena Thiruvengadam, writing for Poynter
, looks at the increasing value and presence of Instagram as a tool for newsrooms in engaging audiences, generating and curating content, and reporting. She looks at the work at the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC News in developing new paths to markets using the instant photo delivery platform.
Financial Times reports (registration required for link)
on a British study that suggests Britons are increasingly prepared to pay for digital content. It also finds declines in television viewing, social media use, and reading books. The study for KPMG's annual entertainment and media survey indicates online gaming and ebooks are the top sellers, driven by smartphone and tablet applications. On a related matter, early data from The Telegraph
suggest a strong continuation of audience support for its metered paywall.
Gawker has reached its $200,000 crowdfunding goal to purchase a video allegedly depicting drug use by Toronto's mayor. The Globe and Mail notes
the effort has stirred questions about the ethics of purchasing content, particularly from those allegedly involved in drug dealing. Naturally, all might be for naught, in that the source of the video (which Gawker and reporters from the Toronto Star have seen) has not been in contact for many days. Meantime, the Globe's public editor has weighed in
on the paper's recent investigative story on the mayor's family's background, particularly its use of anonymous sources.
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.