Some media stories of note for Thursday, May 9, 2013:
Poynter has two stories that examine the qualities of the reporting of the saving of three women from captivity in Cleveland earlier this week. Eric Deggans writes
about some of the flaws of the early reporting of Charles Ramsay, whose interview following the rescue of the women made him an Internet sensation. Was it a case of jumping on a good story without adequate verification? Were there factors that made Ramsay a particularly attractive story? Then Kelly McBride writes
about how to fairly cover the impending rape trial in which the three women have already been identified. "Their names are already central to the story, and that cannot be avoided," McBride writes. But there are several ways for media to minimize harm in the coverage by using clear language and reflexivity to avoid further victimization.
Mathew Ingram, writing for paidContent,
explores the idea of the "open interview," in which the full discussion is made available publicly. He notes that many journalists don't provide a transcript or tape unless there is some challenge about the context of a quote or a question about its accuracy. Technology easily permits it now, Ingram writes. Even though there are drawbacks --- not all journalists know how to get to the point when asking a question, and some will appear less than authoritative in their interrogations --- Ingram concludes it's a valuable approach to build audience trust.
Ingram also has a look
at LinkedIn's evolution as a platform as it ventures more and more into news provision. He notes the changes in LinkedIn Today's stream of business news with a series of content channels that open inside your profile. While Ingram doesn't accept that LinkedIn has become a media empire, he does note that it is finding a way to direct relevant content to a business-oriented audience.
Here are some media stories of note for Wednesday, May 8, 2013:
Josh Stenberg, a former newspaper advertising executive, writes an insiderish account for Digiday
on why many newspapers are struggling. He writes of the "blind and bold arrogance" that resists digital change, the oversized ad departments that haven't separated remnant accounts from golden opportunities, the emerging role of messaging and planning that newspapers will be used for by advertisers, the mistake of looking for a single solution, and his assertion that paywalls won't work.
Frustrated about the vulnerability of your online activity? The MIT Technology Review notes
that a U.S. government lab has been operating a "quantum Internet" for about two years that sends secure messages between two points using a hub that converts the content and makes it technically impossible to eavesdrop. "The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security," the site's physics blog writes. "However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey. So as long as the hub is secure, then the network should also be secure."
Roy Peter Clark, in a piece for Poynter,
argues that sometimes there can be too much transparency in the journalistic narrative. He asserts that translucence, the balance between transparency and opacity, is a much more optimal result in many cases because it achieves authenticity while preserving the good reading experience. That said, he also knows that for certain straight news or investigative work, where the writing is less important than the reporting, transparency is much more important.
Media stories of note for Thursday, April 18, 2013:
The South China Morning Post notes a new press regulation
in China that prohibits quoting any foreign media content without state approval. The regulator wants "strengthened management" of media, effectively a signal that media may not report what has not already been published by state-approved media. It notes a strengthened role for the regulator in recent weeks as it merged broadcast and print oversight.
It may seem self-evident that following a link to open an article would not constitute a copyright infringement, but the British Supreme Court has formally ruled on it. The court overturned an earlier ruling that found newspaper owners' copyright was breached. The Guardian reports
that the case is considered significant enough the court has referred the matter to the European Court of Justice so there may be continent-wide common understanding of rights.
Matt Waite, writing for Poynter,
discusses the emergence of sensor journalism, the use of technology to measure sound, temperature, movement and other factors to create data that are then converted into stories. He looks at sensors used to chronicle cicadas, but offers his own idea to explore how certain city districts have higher noise levels than others. Waite views sensor journalism as a new form that capitalizes on simple devices to make sense of complex information.
Some media stories of note for Wednesday, Feb. 13:
Cory Bergman, the general manager of Breaking News, has a five-point brief
at Poynter today to accompany a live chat in which he asserts mobile will disrupt journalism in the same way the Internet did. He argues a mobile-first, not a mobile-too approach is necessary. In short, his points: responsive design is not a strategy; mobile will surpass, even erode, the desktop; desktop declines will hurt news revenues; news needs to solve problems; technology companies are getting the mobile-first idea.
Matthew Ingram, writing in GigaOm,
reports on the social network and hyperlocal site Nextdoor and its efforts to build an exclusive, verified service for specific neighbourhoods. He identifies the differences between Nextdoor and some other, more open hyperlocal services, and cites the closed nature of Nextdoor as one of the keys to its possible success.
Time Warner appears to be ready to sell portions of Time Inc., according to Fortune.
A meeting today will pursue the matter. It is possible that such titles as People, Real Simple and InStyle would be rolled into a new firm and sold, leaving Time Warner with Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. The publishing division is substantial, with $3.4 billion in revenue.
Jonah Lehrer, the author and literary journalist who was caught up in a plagiarism scandal last year, resurfaced publicly Tuesday to speak to the Knight Foundation
(his speaking fee was $20,000). He apologized, but Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute suggests
Lehrer mainly stirred up more negative than positive response in a craft not quite ready to forgive and forget.
Two articles in recent days highlight the ethical challenges of Silicon Valley tech bloggers.
Many bloggers and their organizations separate their editorial efforts from any economic pressures involving advertisers or those they cover.
But in some instances bloggers are accepting investments in their operations and writing about those benefactors without much identifying or avoiding the conflicts involved.
In some instances bloggers are soliciting investments to create their own venture funds and writing for presumably large audiences about the companies they feature --- likely positively, and almost assuredly not before they parlay their insider knowledge into greater wealth.
The articles in the Los Angeles Times
and on The Daily Beast
acknowledge that blogging isn't necessarily journalism and that many bloggers are now the 21st century equivalent of the public relations firm. But both are clear that there are conflicts galore in this new trend.
In recent days a debate has surfaced on the ethics of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and his new fund for start-up companies. The specific issue: How can Arrington continue to write for TechCrunch
(now owned by AOL) when he has venture capital (some of it AOL's) in the mix.As it turns out, he has gone to the sidelines. But the handling of his case and its implications have stirred a healthy discussion in the craft about conflicts of interest, preferential treatment, and whether there are new boundaries emerging of acceptable practice.
In the midst of this, the head of AOL has suggested TechCrunch might have had different standards than its journalistic outlets.The latest to weigh in is the media columnist for the New York Times, David Carr, whose writing today is withering on most everyone involved.
Carr mainly registers disbelief the situation got this far, but he identifies the central problems for journalism as it deals with new challenges in reporting on technology.
For a few weeks, the CEO of TechCrunch
has been embroiled in a debate on how he ought to declare conflicts as he writes for and manages one of the leading websites on technology writing.
Michael Arrington has recently resumed his investments, which has drawn some criticism in the tech writing community. His policy is to declare these conflicts as they arise. His view is that declaration carries with it the necessary transparency to steer readers clear of conflicted content about which they would be unaware.
He posted recently
on his investment policy and now has posted again
on the fallout from the criticism. He asserts there is no such thing as objectivity and that the better policy is to declare conflicts rather than police them without the audience's understanding.
His view is increasingly shared as more experts involve themselves in journalism. They are conflicted by virtue of past involvement in companies or activities and they would prefer to continue to have associations or investments as they contribute journalism. Their solution is to declare conflicts and let the readers decide if their work can be trusted.
What are your views of how conflicts should be policed and declared in this increasingly complex time?
The Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics
has been one of the benchmarks of the news industry when it establishes its own newsroom policy on conduct. But it has been 15 years since the code was changed, and unquestionably the ground has changed in that time.
Still, some documents stand the test of time and ought not to be tinkered with. To gauge the next steps, the SPJ commissioned two arguments in support of and against change.Steve Buttry argues
that the code has lost some of its relevance in the social media era, that it is no longer cited or useful as a reference in modern journalism. He makes several recommendations to supplement the principles of the code in his argument and even suggests that the principle of independence should be reviewed.Irwin Gratz argues
that the code should not be adapted to accommodate technology; rather, it should serve as a guide around which journalists should adapt. He asserts that it's a flexible, inclusive document that might seem vague but can be interpreted to good effect, and he's not so sure that Web journalism is any different and deserving of a code reflecting it.
The SPJ has asked for comments
A documentary on electronic waste
, produced for PBS' FRONTLINE by a team from the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia
, won an Emmy award Monday in New York for its investigative excellence over competition from CBS' 60 Minutes and 48 Hours and ABC's Nightline.
It's the first such win for a Canadian journalism school. The project --- Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground --- was produced by professor Peter Klein (a previous Emmy winner and an Emmy nominee in his own right Monday) and financed through a Mindset Media
grant and benefactor-filmmaker Alison Lawton.
Lawton furnished the UBC school with a $1-million fund to produce international documentaries, a key piece in the creation of the international reporting course.
A team of 10 UBC students travelled to Ghana, India and China to chronicle how casually electronic waste is disposed. Along the way they found a hard drive with sensitive American defence contract information, but mainly they discovered a trail of indifference about environmental standards and worker safety.
(Disclosure: I have taught at the school since 2004 and my spouse has been its director since 2008 and an associate professor since its inception more than a decade ago.)
As Malcolm Gladwell
sees it, the revolution will not be Tweeted.
The social commentator and bestselling author has been skeptical of the claims about social media. He recognizes the technological ability to reach people through Twitter, Facebook and social networks, but he takes issue with its larger claims of prowess.
He stops short in his piece for The New Yorker
of accepting social media as activism. He points out that many recent examples of political activism cited by proponents of social media were not actual social media events --- the Iranian calls for democracy were western-based, while the Moldovan expressions of opposition to Communism were without the benefit of Twitter.
Gladwell believes these phenomena bear little resemblance to what is required of real activism. It is participation while lessening the motivation that participation requires, he argues.
"In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice," he writes.
Gladwell believes social networks are a "weak-tie" form of communication, in which your Facebook Friends are not really friends and your Twitter followers are not truly following, not comparable to the strong-tie allegiances that require persistence and selflessness.
"The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient," he concludes. "They are not a natural enemy of the status quo."