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 stories of note for Friday, April 5, 2013:
Craig Silverman, writing for Poynter. org
, notes the development of an industry handbook
to deal with issues of plagiarism and fabrication. It was created by 14 news organizations, 10 associations and 10 institutions. Essentially it uses truth as a guide and calls for the "golden rule" in attribution, among other things.
Tracie Powell, writing for Columbia Journalism Review,
argues that the next Federal Communications Commission chair is going to have a significant impact on journalism. Apart from concentration issues, the FCC will be looking at broadband, broadcast diversity, and transparency in political advertising.
Jeff Israely, who has been chronicling his adventure in starting a media site for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
argues that it's a myth people are not paying for news. He wants to delete the term "subsidy" to describe the support for news. Rather, he notes, there is reason to be optimistic that people are paying, and will pay, for news.
Media stories of note for Wednesday, March 27, 2013:
Roy Peter Clark, a veteran news executive, has written an extensive essay arguing that we criminalize practices that are not plagiarism. He has a long list on non-sins that he believes are misconstrued as plagiarism: self-quoting, grabbing a turn of phrase, inadequate paraphrasing, patch writing, boilerplate descriptions, among them. Poynter.org has posted his provocative piece
and prefaced it by noting the views are Clark's and not those of the Poynter.
Daniel Victor, a social media editor at The New York Times, has written a critique of the Twitter hashtag for Nieman Journalism Lab
. He decries them as aesthetically disruptive and heavily overused. Moreover, they can bias search results because those who have used them repeatedly often get to the top of the query result. He thinks they're useful to gather small communities of interest but ought to be used less often for more obvious content.
Politico executive editor Jim VendeHei has posted a video
in which he wonders about the future of non-partisan media. He believes Politico is trying to find a way to keep such media financed, but he also believes the future of non-partisan media "is in doubt."
Some media stories of note for Friday, March 8, 2013:
The overhaul of Facebook's news feed began to emerge Thursday
and the seeming aim is to generate a personal newspaper of sorts, with a hierarchical display based on what users focus on most. Wired.com notes there are opportunities for media if users focus on published content, and The New Yorker notes
it aims to show us all we want to see and none of what we don't. but Facebook has left it flexible enough that users may simply focus on what their friends are saying.
The Washington Post, which ended its ombudsman role last week, has appointed its first readers' representative
in the newsroom to field public complaints and write periodically about how they are addressed. Doug Feaver is a veteran Post newsroom journalist and will be assisted by Alison Coglianese, who worked for the ombudsman's office previously. Feaver will blog for washingtonpost.com and contribute newspaper columns as needed.
Craig Silverman, writing for Poynter, says "bring on the robots." He identifies ways in which machines will be able to improve accuracy and standards in newsrooms, whether through fact-checking, extracting data to produce timelines, identifying typographical errors, detecting plagiarism and fabrication, or even gathering information through drones.
Newly arrived Reuters media writer Jack Shafer, recently of Slate, has written about
the perils of plagiarism and the zero-tolerance policy that ought to accompany transgressions in a newsroom's midst.Shafer says the real victims are not the creators from whom words are lifted, but the audience that must be denied original work.
He wrote in the context of the firing by Politico of a reporter whose work appeared to plagiarize on seven counts.He writes aggressively about the lack of mitigating circumstances available to the plagiarist seeking a second chance.
"It doesn’t matter if you pinched copy because you were tired, you were harried, your spouse or child was sick or dying, you were under deadline pressure, you jumbled up your notes, you took boilerplate or wire copy that nobody should really claim “authorship” over, you have a substance problem, you committed a cut-and-paste error, you were blinded by the warp speed of the Internet, you were a victim of the win the morning culture, you are young and inexperienced, you had two windows open at the same time and confused them," he writes.
"These aren’t excuses. These are confessions. And they mitigate nothing."
This week, prominent columnist Johann Hari of The Independent confessed
an extensive record of plagiarism and a healthy dose of harassing his rivals through nasty Wikipedia entries.
He said he would return a writing prize and take a four-month leave to train himself in journalism fundamentals. The news organization said it looked forward to his return.
Hari said he had massaged quotes, often simply taking from some other source or someone's writing, when his interviews didn't yield material of a particular grade.
The Economist, in its Bagehot blog, has summarized
the experience and added some context of the ethical dilemma for the foreign correspondent. It notes the challenge of character for the journalist whose work might not be easily verified.
The blog finds great fault with Hari and greater fault in those defending him. It also frets about what
The Washington Post has acknowledged copy-and-paste plagiarism
from The Arizona Republic and suspended a Pulitzer-winning reporter for three months for publishing other's material as her own.Sari Horwitz
, a veteran investigative reporter, was suspended following stories on legal proceedings against Jared Lee Loughner, indicted on dozens of charges in the recent Tucson shootings of a Congresswoman and a state judge, among others.
The Post was alerted to the plagiarism by The Republic this week and took little time to act. It determined that two paragraphs from one story
and 10 from another
first appeared in The Republic. They were copied and pasted into a Word document with other notes and later filed the paragraphs for the Web as if they were original.
The news organization has apologized
, as has Horwitz, and noted in the online stories that they contained reproduced material.