Some media stories of note for Friday, May 5, 2013:
Today is World Press Freedom Day, and the Editors Weblog notes
how the recent passage of the South African secrecy bill poses a new threat to expression by journalists of uncomfortable ideas. Critics express concern that journalists and whistleblowers will not be protected when they expose corruption.
Our perceptions of the strength and reach of particular social media might not be accurate. BuzzFeed has assembled
the official data to demonstrate what people are actually using. For instance, SnapChat is more popular than Instagram, Yahoo Mail is more popular than Twitter, and MySpace is about as popular as Spotify.
Mathew Ingram, writing for GigaOm,
takes on the idea that Twitter should have some sort of correction mechanism. The idea surfaces every time there is a large, complex event that spurs a fair amount of bad information. Ingram says correcting would ruin the vibe of Twitter, which is an iterative stream of real-time content. Much as he regrets making an errant Tweet, he thinks the wider crowd will eventually help fix the mistake.
Peter Verweij, writing for Memeburn,
tracks the development of data-driven journalism and its importance in modern story-telling. He notes the emergence of visualized data, programmable pages, maps and geographic information systems. While typical editors may lack the skills, there appears to be a need for developers in newsrooms to master the new opportunities.
Some media stories of note for Thursday, May 2, 2013:
Friday is World Press Freedom Day. In advance of it, the annual report from the Committee to Protect Journalists
has been released to demonstrate where it is most hazardous to practice the craft --- its Impunity Index. Nigeria, Somalia, Brazil and Pakistan feature rising levels of deadly, unpunished violence against journalists. The report suggests conditions are improving in Nepal and Russia. Poynter's Andrew Beaujon reports
that Iraq remains the most dangerous country and that half of the victimized journalists worldwide covered politics or corruption.
The Los Angeles Times, taking the lead from recent language style changes at The Associated Press
, has updated its guidelines for reporting on immigration. Its reader representative, Deirdre Edgar, writes that
the organization will no longer refer to individuals as illegal or undocumented immigrants, but will instead describe their circumstances.
A job posting isn't always notable, but this one arguably is. Twitter is looking to increase its connection with journalism
in seeking its first-ever Head of News and Journalism to cultivate and manage relationships with news organizations and expand the reach of the platform into the craft. The job posting is indicative of the ambition of Twitter to develop a greater presence in conventional news.
Media stories of note for Wednesday, May 1, 2013:
George Packer, writing for The New Yorker,
explores some of the recent exploits, good and bad, on online journalism. He concludes that speed kills. He also suggests that the recent successes of digital journalism will help the public recognize the value of professional journalists and help journalists recognize how much they're needed if they can, as part of the deal, exercise some self-restraint.
Robinson Meyer, writing for The Atlantic,
looks at the quiet growth of Betaworks and its involvement in many parts of the online news ecosystem with its recent acquisitions of such entities as Instapaper and Digg and ownership of such entities as Flow and ChartBeat. He hopes it remains stable enough to enjoy watching.
Taylor Miller Thomas, writing for Poynter,
examines the emergence of strategic news partnerships aimed at diversifying content. She identifies the effects: an increased understanding of new media, expanded coverage, new audiences, and a new context for existing audiences.
Some media stories of note for Tuesday, April 30, 2013:
Rick Edmonds, writing for Poynter,
examines new approaches to measuring circulation in the U.S. newspaper industry. The measurement has helped set advertising rates and determined revenue for the business, but several new rules have altered the results (mostly for the better, he says, in providing day-by-day data) and made it difficult to look at year-over-year patterns. The results today
indicate The New York Times has surpassed USA Today.
Taylor Miller Thomas, also writing for Poynter
, looks at 11 digital tools that can help journalists improve their reporting. She identifies crowdsourcing, freedom of information, census data and other sites that provide opportunities for journalists to develop evidence-based material and engage the audience.
Twitter is not interested
in an Initial Public Offering, says CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter is now valued at about $9 billion. One thing it is doing is creating a Canadian operation and it has dipped into Canadian broadcasting
for its first leader in the country. Kirstine Stewart, formerly the executive vice president of English Services at CBC, has joined them.
Some media stories of note for Monday, April 29, 2013:
A study by Quantum Media Holdings suggests Americans are spending 16 minutes per hour attached to social media, Australians are spending 14 minutes and those in U.K. 13 minutes. The principal driver in this data is smartphone use. Fox Business reports
that Quantum says a lot of the time spent is "ego-centric" generation of photos and messages about personal activities, more so than browsing content.
For years publishers have been pushing for Google to pay royalties for their content. But The Wrap notes
another such advocate has entered the fray and he is no shrinking violet. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein says Google's failure to pay creators for content amounts to stealing, and that technologist are earning billions while artists are struggling. He noted YouTube's dominance as a video site, expressed concern about the fate of newspapers and magazines in this environment, and encouraged Congress to pay a law that would generate royalties for creators.
A Canadian lawsuit stands to test the boundaries of libel in online comments. The former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke, has filed a lawsuit against 18 anonymous commenters who posted what he says are libels about him. He intends to unmask the commenters and pursue legal action against them. The Globe and Mail reports
that privacy law experts believe it is only a matter of time before other such suits test the limits of what sites and message boards can legally post.
Media notes for Friday, April 26, 2013:
South Africa pushed through contentious legislation Thursday that restricts access to information and imposes fines and penalties including jail time for journalists who publish what the government considers secrets. The Guardian notes
there is widespread agreement that the bill's onerous measures have been reduced in the five-year debate since it was proposed, but critics believe there remains discretion for the government to curtail press freedom. Some see it as the first erosion of democracy since apartheid was eliminated in the country nearly two decades ago.
The English-language Egypt Independent closed abruptly Thursday. The New York TImes reports
that the site, one of the most aggressive in chronicling political change in the country, was experiencing financial difficulties that investors said could not be surmounted. But it also notes that its staff believes there was a political motive in the closure because of the site's criticism of the president and the Muslim Brotherhood. That observation is shared in a commentary on Tahrir Squared.
A new law in England and Wales makes it tougher to sue. The New York Times reports
that the bill passed Thursday does not switch the burden of proof from the defendant, but it offers some provisions to strengthen their position. They can, for instance, claim the information was published in good faith and that it was in the public interest. The bill also is aimed at reducing "libel tourism," in which people chose England as a litigation venue even when publicity of the information was minor there.
Media notes for Thursday, April 25, 2013:
Most national British newspapers have rejected a government royal charter plan to regulate the press and have proposed an alternative plan that avoids state-sponsored regulation they say would reduce press freedom. BBC reports
the move, supported so far by nine of 11 national titles, has thrown open the debate once more on how to regulate the press following the Leveson inquiry's efforts to identify a new process in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
The New York TImes, which Bloomberg notes
missed analysts' revenue expectations in its first-quarter results, has revealed a new digital strategy. Forbes.com reports
the plan includes tiered pricing that would permit access to "important and interesting" stories only at a lower rate (a plan now termed NYT Junior, aimed at younger readers), an expansion of its live events, and even an initiative to introduce games.
Not so long ago it was considered beneficial to be included on Twitter lists because it spread your content and associated you with particular expertise. But Nina Diamond, writing for Poynter,
suggests journalists reexamine which Twitter lists they are on and consider removing themselves from ones that do not help their brands, make you uncomfortable or are inappropriate.
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.
Some media notes for Tuesday, April 23, 2013:
Jack Shafer, writing for Reuters,
defends the mistake. He notes that journalism has been making errors big and small forever, although he also observes that corrections and retractions don't happen the way they could. The difference now is the audience's ability to help correct the record and "talk back" to the press, making the second draft of history much better.
Frédéric Filoux, writing for his weekly Monday Note
, wonders what the fuss is about with sponsored editorial content, also known as native advertising. He says the controversy is a "festival of fake naivety and misplaced indignation." Editorial content has often been there to flatter the advertising that surrounds it, he says. That being said, he also believes the site's editor, and not its chief revenue officer, should be the one to decide if that advertising crosses the line.
Ombudsmen often determine when the line is crossed, and the Washington Post drew criticism when it recently discontinued the role and replaced it with a readers' representative. Craig Silverman, writing for Poynter,
profiles Doug Feaver and how his job will differ. Feaver came out of retirement to take the part-time role, which ostensibly answers readers of the paper and its site. His first column
noted the disappearance of the Print button on the site, something that restored once he identified the complaint. But he's not there to serve as an ombudsman, he notes.
A follow-up: An amendment to legislation proposes that smaller blogs (those with fewer than 10 employees and two million pounds in revenue each year) will be exempt from the harsh penalties if they do not join the new press regulator under the royal charter governing media in the country. The Editors Weblog notes
this is a welcome relief for organizations that would have been subject to the penalties originally devised for large companies.
Some media stories of note for Monday, April 22, 2013:
There is a thread of commentary in recent days about the intersection of social media with last week's events in Massachusetts.
Ali Velshi, the recently departed CNN anchor for Al Jazeera, writes about the pain
that comes with making a mistake in this environment of merciless social media criticism. His former employer was often criticized last week for its hasty coverage, and as David Carr notes in his latest Media Equation column,
the impact left some nasty marks. Velshi notes the pressure to be first, or at least not to be last, but also that reporters understand the importance of being correct. CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge notes the same in his recent column,
but stresses the need for accuracy over speed.
Andy Carvin, the National Public Radio journalist who has been at the forefront of using social media, reflects on the value of the new platforms in a speech to the International Symposium for Online Journalism
. He calls on journalists to use social media in a different way, in particular to slow down in their breathlessness about reporting and to be transparent with the audience about what is known and not.
Felix Salmon's latest blog for Reuters
examines the phenomenon last week of how mainstream media integrated social media's coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the manhunt. Salmon notes the indiscretion of many mainstream outlets in reporting whatever information appeared to surface without verification. He worries the social media tail is wagging the mainstream dog. Media transparency is good, he notes, but: "Just because your readers can peer behind the curtain, doesn't mean you have any responsibility to yank it open yourself."