Here are some media stories of note for Wednesday, January 22, 2014:The Guardian is the latest media organization
to find itself in collision with the Chinese government. The Guardian's site has been blocked following its story on the offshore wealth of the government leadership.
Jay Rosen, the NYU scholar recently hired by the new Pierre Omidyar news organization, offers some thoughts
on the controversy this week involving the Grantland site. It published an investigative story on a golf club inventor; in the process of its research, it revealed the inventor's trans history, and she killed herself.
Rosen says the episode is the best argument for diversity in a newsroom. More than a dozen employees saw the story before it was published, but none had an understanding of the transgender community.
Maria Konnikova, writing for The New Yorker,
looks at a book that identifies the six elements that contribute to the viral nature of a story.
Not surprisingly, emotion and arousal top the list. But social currency is also a key (it makes people feel they're smart). A memory-inducing trigger helps, as do lists, as does the quality of the story itself.
Here are some media stories of note for Friday, December 20, 2013:
The New York Times has boldly moved into the native advertising arena. Before it goes there, it has explained to its audience and employees
the principles that will guide the activity: clear labelling of a Paid Post, a different look than its editorial content, and its creation by the sales department and not the newsroom, among other things. The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, immediately wrote about it Thursday
and identified some of the results of her reporting, including the eight-figure revenue expectation and the allocation of some key online real estate to the effort.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger looks at the differences
between Britain and the U.S. on the National Security Agency surveillance issue. In America, a healthy debate is under way. In Britain, apathy abounds. This follows what Rusbridger calls a thoughtful and well-informed U.S. report this week commissioned by the President into the revelations largely unfurled by his newsroom. That report calls for changes in how the NSA does its work and argues for a strong defence of journalism to do its work.
Cory Haik, the Washington Post executive producer for digital, provides her predictions
for 2014 in the Nieman Journalism Lab series. She argues that this will be the year of news that anticipates the audience's needs, something she calls adaptive journalism, available whenever and however. It will be a time of great experimentation with a device-first ethos.
Pierre Omidyar's new media company has a name: First Look Media. It has committed its first $50 million to the operation. And it is starting to take shape as a hybrid for-profit technology firm and a non-profit journalism company. Profits from the former will help the latter. Company advisor Jay Rosen, the NYU scholar, provides some details
in his latest Pressthink column.
For Monday, November 18, 2013, here are some media stories of note:
The unnamed NewCo financed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has been recruiting some significant journalists: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Dan Froomkin and Jeremy Scahill all have impressive pedigrees.
But arguably the most intriguing addition is the latest: NYU scholar Jay Rosen, one of the most successfully consistent observers of media in recent years, who wrote this weekend that he is leaving the press box for the field.
It isn't clear from his latest PressThink post
if the move is a permanent departure from the academic realm. Rosen says he'll advise Omidyar as the company launches. He wants to apply the thinking in his essays to the practical world of business.
Frédéric Filloux looks at how Omidyar could/might/should invest the $250 million he suggests will be in play for the new venture. In his latest Monday Note,
Filloux suggests there is money to be made in investigative journalism and that Omidyar's model will be a for-profit entity. He suggests a print version, different languages of publication, a fact-checking operation, user profiling to create verticals, a Web TV operation, newsletters, and an updating mobile service.
Emily Bell, the Tow Center chief writing for The Guardian,
writes about the flurry of high-profile journalists on the move: the new Omidyar clan, Nate Silver's departure from The New York Times to ESPN, Brian Stelter from the Times to CNN, David Pogue from the Times to Yahoo, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg and the AllThingsDigital teaparting ways with the Wall Street Journal, and so on. Far from a statement of concern by them, Bell sees the moves as healthy signs of vitality.
When cybersecurity is an issue for journalistic organizations, it only makes sense that journalism schools start preparing students for the life ahead. Laura Kirchner, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review,
examines some of the early initiatives on securing content and operating with a high degree of privacy in a world of heavy surveillance.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013's media stories of note:
Paul Farhi of the Washington Post has set upon
the second questionable ethical move by NBC News in a week. Earlier he chronicled a decision by NBC to develop a movie with a victimized family it covered exclusively. Now he is writing about payment to skydivers for aerial footage and interviews following a collision by two airborne small planes. The video set NBC back $100,000 and gets them a Today Show exclusive Tuesday and two weeks' worth of exclusive television coverage (print interviews are permitted under their agreement).
Is the drive for transparency distorting the ethics of media and democracy? University of Oregon scholar Stephen Ward (transparency disclosure: a former colleague) argues that the
"hyperbole" of transparency is a cop-out for more formidable obligations of the craft: responsible publication and independence. Moreover, Ward argues, some important journalism is non-transparent and that transparency is not necessary for many forms of good journalism.
NYU scholar Jay Rosen rarely sets fingers to keyboard without shaking conventional wisdom and finding insights into digital media. His latest Pressthink post
is the basis of a speech in Australia and it riffs on Old and New Testament media traits: Old being everyone involved, New being media as mediators in insiders and outsiders, those kinds of riffs. The New Testament's business model, which valued the protection of media, is breaking down. He isn't necessarily siding, but he is suggesting both pieces are moving toward reconciliation. Neither has a monopoly on virtue, he says, and the messiah has yet to surface.
Media outlets have raised concern about a recent 60 Minutes segment on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost last year in Benghazi. They've noted the central subject of the segment had different stories for the cameras and for officials. Now the Huffington Post's media writer, Michael Calderone, is reporting that
the subject, British security official Dylan Davies, has admitted there are differing tales --- but that the television one (and the one in his book) are factual and that he lied to his boss about his whereabouts on the night of the attack.
Here are some media notes for Thursday, October 17, 2013:
Many have long felt that philanthropic high-net-worth individuals were going to be making the difference as digital journalism found viable business models, and the move in recent weeks by Jeff Bezos to buy the Washington Post and Pierre Omidyar to start an investigative journalism operation (and its hiring of three key founders, including Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian) provide some evidence to that end. NYU media scholar Jay Rosen,
in his latest Pressthink column, sheds light on Omidyar's initiative, Will Bunch of Philly.com
looks at the phenomenon of wealthy benefactors for journalism, and Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review
sounds an optimistic tone.
Roy Greenslade, the media columnist for The Guardian, updates the "haphazard" process
toward new press regulation in the U.K. Regional publishers of newspapers appear unlikely to sign on to a government royal charter, among the many outlets that won't be covered by it, and a self-regulatory body appears likely to emerge with some reasonable gains for the public but plenty of shortcomings in its approach. The net result is being left in a worse place than when the process started, he concludes.
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for The New York Times, updates the legal travails
for investigative reporter James Risen, who has refused to testify in a government case against a former CIA official accused of leaking secrets. Risen faces penalties for refusing to testify and courts have so far indicated he does not have legal grounds to challenge the matter, but he intends to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.
For Thursday, August 29, 2013, here are some media stories of note:The Washington Post reports
on the significant court case in Argentina that threatens to alter the media landscape. The court is hearing arguments on the monopoly law that has implications for media, in that Groupo Clarin would be forced to break up. The company is a leading opposition voice in the country.
Casey Frechette, writing for Poynter,
provides 15 digital security tips for journalists. He argues very little is secure, that complex passwords are necessary, and that the measures are a cumbersome necessity to avert hacking. Among the tips: avoid open WiFi, create a super password as part of a password manager, and try to encrypt.
At opposite ends of the spectrum, but similar in their critical eye on media, two anniversaries are worth mentioning: Jay Rosen, the NYU media scholar, has been producing PressThink for 10 years this week. He examines the blog's history in his latest post.
And 25 years ago this week, The Onion
began producing mock news. Many major writers and performers have moved through the operation, as NPR notes
. Its latest post is actually a biting commentary on Syria, BuzzFeed observes,
a sign it can display maturity and not just frathouse comedy.
Good Wednesday, here are some media stories of note for August 21, 2013:
A proposed media law in Somalia would require journalists to divulge their sources and forbid reporting against Islamic or Somali tradition or anything that might affect national security. If passed by its parliament, allAfrica reports
that many journalists will leave the country rather than live within the new law. Criticism of the bill has not seemingly deterred the government from pushing it through. Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. Already this year six have been killed; last year, 12 were.
Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who provided classified information to WikiLeaks, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. The New York Times reports
on the sentencing and the reaction today.
Jay Rosen, the media scholar from New York University, has been weighing in regularly in recent weeks on leaks of surveillance secrets and the implications for journalism. He writes in his latest
PressThink blog post that there is a global battle between those who wish to shed light on intelligence gathering techniques and those who would keep them shrouded. He believes the battle will be won by the party with the better argument. "If sunlight coalitions are to succeed, it won't be by outwitting surveillance. Not better technology, but greater legitimacy is their edge," he writes.
Ellyn Angelotti, writing for Poynter, identifies ways to deal with personal attacks on social media. She says it's important not to panic, reflect on how (and if) you want to respond, do so publicly in short order then take any further conversations offline, and determine how to best remedy the harm (including lawsuits). She encourages more speech to fight bad speech and to reTweet criticism to followers so they can help defend you.
For Friday, August 16, 2013, here are some media stories of note:The Economist writes
that "after years of wreaking havoc, the Internet is helping media to grow." It chronicles the rise of subscription services, download fees and new businesses from old media, but acknowledges that the size of the newspaper and music businesses will not be as large. What remains to be seen, it says, is whether journalism can be supported. Then again, it will be easier to experiment and avoid some costly missteps.
Jay Rosen, the New York University media scholar, writes in his Pressthink blog
on the changing composition and structure of the fourth estate. Institutionalized press used to monopolize, but now there are others who can pick up the tools of journalism and deliver information without them. He points to the collaboration between former security employee Edward Snowden and columnist Glenn Greenwald (who writes for The Guardian but is financed in large measure by his readers' support). "Wise professionals in journalism will understand this, and act accordingly."
Jack Shafer, the media columnist for Reuters, writes that news has never made money
and isn't likely to do so. It has always been part of a bundle of content that collectively cross-subsidizes and pays off. It will be necessary for philanthropists to step in and ensure journalism is underwritten. Otherwise, he argues, the winds of technology will have to "blow a fresh miracle through the news business."
Good Monday, here are some media notes for August 12, 2013:
The ombudsman for National Public Radio has published the results
of his investigation into a series on the South Dakota foster care system for native children. Edward Schumacher-Matos found serious deficiencies in the series, which had been awarded a Peabody Prize for journalistic excellence. He determined the series, which alleged that South Dakota was removing children from native homes in order to collect federal funds, did not offer proof, was inaccurate and incomplete, did not offer the state adequate opportunity to respond, and was unfair in tone. His investigation took 22 months to complete and he has produced six reports on what he concluded was a series that should not have run in its current form. NPR has, in turn, rejected the thrust
of his criticism and stood by its stories.
Jay Rosen, the New York University media scholar, wonders in his latest Pressthink post
whether new Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos will have the courage to challenge power and win. The Post has a history of doing so, he notes, and Bezos' moment will eventually come to test similar determination. He wonders if Bezos can do that, given that Amazon is already "enmeshed in the surveillance state" with a $600-million deal with the CIA on cloud computing. He writes: "It’s not enough to defy the government and reveal what it wants to keep secret. When you go up against the most powerful and secretive forces on the planet, you have to try to win."
The good news for the news business is that people are reading more news than ever on their tablets and smartphones. The less-good news is that people are spending less time on each visit. That's the conclusion of a new study by Localytics, a web analytics firm, which studied 100 million mobile devices and 500 applications over the last year. PandoDaily reports
the data indicate people open the news apps 25 times monthly, up 39 per cent from 18 times a year earlier. But the duration of the visits decreased by 26 per cent to about 4.2 minutes daily. The study also indicates that tablets are the main device for news reading. They are used 50 times more than smartphones.
Here are some media stories of note for Wednesday, July 24, 2013:
Jay Rosen, the media scholar at New York University, writes of the rise
of a media state-within-a-state. With the recent departure of FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver from The New York Times to ESPN/ABC News/Disney, Rosen notes how there are personal franchises emerging in media. They reflect a shift in power within media, a domestication and application of voice across scale, and a clearer sense of the value of individual journalists due to better digital metrics.
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, earlier this week
summarized Silver's contributions and challenges in the Times newsroom. She said he was a valuable voice but an outsider who some traditionalists in the newsroom did not embrace. Ezra Klein explores Silver's talent further
in a post for the Washington Post. He says others were able to successfully aggregate polling data to predict the 2012 presidential election, but Silver's talents as a journalist permitted him to tell the story every day in a different way to make it engaging for audiences.
India is perhaps on a path
toward media regulation, but the country's chief justice
believes self-regulation is the far better course. P Sathasivam, speaking at the annual journalism industry award ceremonies,
said external regulation "may seem a dominant urge, but it is surely not the answer." Regulation "could result in a perilous departure from the cherished principle of the freedom of the press as the sine qua non of our democracy."
The readers' editor for Sabah, the Turkish daily, has been fired.
Yavuz Baydar had been critical
of media coverage and of government handling of the recent Gezi Park protests. His employer refused to print his most recent columns and terminated him Tuesday. The Organization of News Ombudsmen (full disclosure: I am its executive director) has denounced the firing
and called for his reinstatement.