Some media notes for Friday, September 20, 2013:The Wall Street Journal reports
on a social media crackdown in China. Leading social media figures have been interrogated or detained, while others have been warned about their activity as the country widens its laws to permit easier prosecution. The Weibo social media site has been particularly targeted.
Roy Greenslade, the media writer for The Guardian, looks at the threats to journalists
in Yemen in the context of some progress on their rights. A Human Rights Watch report
says Yemeni journalists are facing violence and intimidation from the current and former governments, rebels, secessionists and religious conservatives.
The editor of Gawker, in an interview with The Globe and Mail,
dismisses the need for an "additional" set of ethics for journalists. John Cook says he is guided by basic ethical precepts, no different than a plumber's, and that another layer of guides isn't necessary. "I think it’s more instructive to think of reporters the way people think of tradesman and women. I think it’s a trade rather than a profession – it’s certainly starting to pay more like a trade than a profession. And I think the idea of building up a superstructure of journalism ethics is part of a process of trying to exclude the hoi polloi from the process of reporting and commenting on the news," he said.
For Thursday, September 12, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
A Senate committee is expected to approve today wording that expands the definition of a journalist under the proposed shield law. Dylan Byers, writing for Politico,
says the amendment would define a journalist as anyone who has been employed by or in contract with a media outlet for at least one year within the last 20 years or
three months within the last five years. It would include someone with a substantial track record of freelancing in the last five years. It would include student journalists. And, most important of all, it would permit a judge to deem someone a journalist for protection, as long as their work had been consistent with the law.
BuzzFeed is one of digital media's most successful organizations and one way it encourages public engagement is to permit audience content to make its way on to the site. But it has introduced new roles for its "community posts" to govern submissions by groups using its self-publishing tools. Jeff John Roberts, writing for paidContent, notes the changes differentiate community contributions and make clear there are standards for the content.
The editor-in-chief of IBN18 network in India laments the decline of journalistic standards
and believes there needs to be a code of conduct backed by a regulatory authority to restore the craft's moral compass. Rajdeep Sardesai says there is quantity but not quality in Indian media and too little training and mentoring of young journalists. He blames editors for compromises in integrity.
The American Press Institute offers 10 tips
for understanding and expanding audiences. Among them: Target segments by time of day, build social presences around topics, focus on quality instead of quantity, and one size fits no one.
For Tuesday, September 10, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
The BBC is entangled in parliamentary investigations into payoffs for former executives, and now there are signs
the government wants to disband the BBC Trust, the body that establishes and guides the standards of the public broadcaster's journalism. Cabinet ministers have indicated they do not believe the Trust can be a watchdog and standard-bearer at the same time. There are reports that duties will be handed to the communications regulator, Ofcom.
A conference on journalism in Africa has heard
how journalists operate in a climate of political instability and a lack of transparency and accountability. Peter Horrocks, director of BBC News, indicated the debate on standards and ethics has improved journalistic quality. More particularly, the conference heard, cell phones are being used as watchdog tools to minimize voter fraud.
Bill Adair, writing for Poynter,
looks at how news organizations can learn from enhanced e-books in their quest for digital success. Adair writes that many book publishers have simply migrated text to digital and failed to offer more that would take advantage of technology, such as animation and video. He says editors have to think beyond ink on paper.
Here are some media stories of interest for Tuesday, August 27, 2013:
Dean Starkman, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review,
looks at the "journalism problem" for ESPN. Unlike other organizations that cover a wide range of topics and have a wide range of advertisers supporting them, ESPN's programming contracts and journalism coverage are much more narrow. Starkman looks at the dilemma it has with its NFL and NCAA coverage, given the enormity of the programming contracts that contribute richly to its wealth.
The Australian press watchdog has reminded newspapers
of their obligation to provide fair-minded political coverage during the election campaign. The prime minister has been critical of the News Corp. papers' coverage of his party in the run-up to elections next week. Rupert Murdoch's chain comprises about 70 per cent of the country's newspaper circulation. The watchdog has written papers to note they have agreed to provide a "reasonably comprehensive and accurate account of public issues," although it acknowledges their right to hold opinions and favour candidates.
Dell Cameron, writing for VICE,
examines the critical issues involved as the United States wrestles with the notion of a media shield law. Cameron argues that the bill would not protect journalists at all but revoke the rights of anyone who reveals government threats to the public. He says it would only help corporate media and would define journalism as a profession and not, more appropriately in his view, as an action.
For Monday, August 26, here are some media stories of note:
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has written the British government
to criticize its attempts to destroy sensitive leaked documents in the possession of The Guardian. It calls the move an act of "intimidation" and a "deeply regrettable" attempt to chill journalistic pursuit of important information about mass surveillance. It further called the detention last week of David Miranda, the partner of Guardian contributing columnist Glenn Greenwald, "outrageous and deeply disturbing." The Guardian has in recent days
shared some of its documentation with The New York Times to circumvent any possible interference of its reporting in Britain. The New York Times' media columnist, David Carr, notes that the war on leaks
is simply pitting journalist against journalist.
The ESPN ombudsman has weighed in
with his observations about the decision last week by ESPN to back out of its collaboration with PBS on a two-part documentary on NFL head injuries. The move raised concerns that the NFL pressured ESPN to sever the joint investigative project. But Robert Lipsyte said it's not quite clear what happened, but partly it may reveal a naïvety at the network about the consequences of its journalism. "At best we've seen some clumsy shuffling to cover a lack of due diligence" about those consequences. " At worst, a promising relationship between two journalism powerhouses that could have done more good together has been sacrificed to mollify a league under siege. The best isn't very good, but if the worst turns out to be true, it's a chilling reminder how often the profit motive wins the duel."
Two major profiles on media leaders this weekend provided some insights into their views on content, journalism and corporate politics. A Business Insider "unauthorized biography"
on Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, traces her career to the top of what is now the most-viewed news site. A New York Magazine profile
of Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York Times, examines the dynamics of the Times as he attempts significant overhaul.
Good Tuesday, here are some media stories of note for August 20, 2013:
Stephen Ward, director of the University of Oregon journalism school (and former colleague), writes in PBS' MediaShift
that journalism needs a radical remake of its ethical framework, not a return to basics. Ward, the author of texts on media ethics, argues that journalism's changes have provoked a need for new approaches on media ecology, interpretation and opinion, activism and global democratic journalism. Rather than turn back the clock and attempt to reinstate the basics, Ward suggests new accommodations and strategies for the journalism that lies ahead.
Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, recounts the events of recent days
involving the detention of his columnist's partner by U.K. authorities and of recent weeks involving the effort by the U.K. government to end the organization's reporting on surveillance efforts. The Guardian's contributor, Glenn Greenwald, has been the lead journalist on the leaks from Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency employee. Rusbridger says journalists who trust government will have a rude awakening. "We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources," he writes.
Jeffrey Toobin, writing for The New Yorker,
has a quite different take on the Snowden/Greenwald issue. He argues that the legitimate debate about U.S. surveillance and intelligence activities has come at too high a cost through Snowden's leaks. Rather than view this as the cause of a great debate, he believe it has played into the hands of the enemies and has real costs.
Josh Stearns, writing for FreePress,
argues there is a growing culture of violence against journalists taking shape. He points to recent examples of seemingly casual comments (a Tweet against Julian Assange by a Time correspondent, a statement by the government of Maine about blowing up a newspaper building) as evidence we take too lightly threats to journalists.
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.