Archive for April, 2011

Facebook group for pictures and documents found after April tornadoes

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The New York Times online reports that a Facebook page has been set-up to display photos and documents found after the tornadoes that recently hit America’s south. It’s become a place for survivors and those affected by this horrible event to gain support and also features comments from well-wishes. A touching story which shows the diverse way we can utilise social media sites. The page is titled “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes”.


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Navigating Journalism Online

A nice little piece about bridging the gap between online and offline audiences. 10,000 words interviewed George Kelly, online coordinator at the Contra Costa Times (a Bay Area News Group daily newspaper) in Walnut Creek, California, to discuss this issue. In the interview, Kelly comments that:

“The current digital landscape gives journalism and reporting unprecedented reach and impact. We’ve got cheap, powerful databases that let us sift and sort and display information in amazing ways. We’ve got tools and services to curate real-time information from anywhere on the planet. Now, we need to figure out when, and where, and how to use those tools to give people the information they need to make decisions about their lives and communities.”

I thought his comments on defining ‘new media’ were particularly relevant. I’ve found in my own reading that we seem to have defined this divide between ‘old’ and ‘new’ when really that’s not the case – the media landscape is evolving, it didn’t suddenly change – and we shouldn’t be apprehensive. There have been arguments posed that ‘new media’ will suddenly mean the end of journalism – I think that’s FAR from the case, indeed if anything, new technologies, platforms and methods of information delivery can enhance the way we distribute, search for and recieve news and information. Kelly was quick to pick up on the need for diversity – not as in race, gender etc but in platforms and that these needed to diversify in location – that online journalism shouldn’t be just for big cities or huge audiences. I totally agree!

And some advice for young journalists…

“What advice would you give to any up-and-coming or early-career journalist?

GK: Buy a domain name. Start a blog. Learn to code. Teach someone how to code. Get in the habit of making things. Sign up for new services as often as you wash your hands, brush your teeth or change your clothes. Remind yourself every day that you belong, that what is happening here is still unformed enough and unfixed enough that you can still make a mark — your own mark — with something worth doing and sharing with others.”

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Mobile devices for reporting

Journalists shouldn't scoff at using recording devices on mobile phones to get that all important interview. (Image courtesy of

A brilliant article on using mobile devices for recording published on the Neiman Journalism Lab website: Your handiest reporting tool may be the smartphone in your pocket. Andrew Phelps writes that journalists should not forget the simple technology we have at our disposal:

Public radio people can be pretty snobby about audio quality — I can say that, having worked in public radio for five years — but, given the alternatives proliferating in the market, it’s getting harder to justify the expense and bulk of pro kits for field work. Judge the audio quality of Toness’ piece for yourself. And remember, as you close your eyes and turn up the volume in your noise-canceling headphones, that most listeners hear radio stories over a cheap FM set while making breakfast, getting the kids dressed, or driving to work. News producers may be snobby about sound quality, but consumers, generally, are anything but.

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Twitter introduces text ads

Digital Inspiration writes:

“Twitter is experimenting with sponsored text-ads on their website that show-up just after the “trends” section.”

Not massive news but interesting to see how Twitter is developing. Also reminds me that I really should start using my twitter account.

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Accuracy in reporting

Accuracy in reporting is an important (and obvious!) element of journalism – but how do we measure this and how can we quickly and efficiently correct errors?

Worth reading this post by Jonathan Stray.

Idea Lab’s Scott Rosenburg writes ‘There’s No Problem!’ Newsrooms in Denial About Rampant Errors’. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

Climbing The Ladder of Transparency

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In the field of corrections as anywhere else, “openness” isn’t binary — it has gradations and nuances. I like to imagine these as a sort of ladder of transparency that news organizations need to climb.

On the first rung of this ladder, journalists readily fix mistakes they learn about and conscientiously disclose and record the details of each fix. (Most newsrooms declare allegiance to this ideal but, sadly, our MediaBugs research shows, the majority still fail to live up to it.)

One rung up, news outlets effectively solicit error reports from their audiences, making it clear that they welcome the feedback and will respond. The Report an Error Alliance is trying to push more news organizations to climb up here.

On the next rung up, newsrooms also willingly expose their own internal deliberations over particular controversies, explaining why they did or didn’t correct some issue readers raised and leaving some sort of public trail of the decision. At some publications, the ombudsman or public editor takes care of some of this.

On the final, topmost rung, the news organization will assure accountability by turning to a neutral third party to maintain a fair record of issues raised by the public. This shows external critics that the newsroom isn’t hiding anything or trying to shove problems under the rug. This is a key part of our model for MediaBugs.

I like the idea of an accuracy search engine – the Report and Error Alliance is pretty good but more organisations, bloggers and journalists need to adopt this kind of thinking – particularly online! The internet allows for readers to communicate with journalists like never before…such abilities should be embraced to enhance journalistic standards and methods.

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Sony enters the tablet war

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“Sony has shown off a pair of tablets that will launch later this year. The S1 is little more than yet another Honeycomb tablet in a Sony-designed box, with a 9.4-inch widescreen display and a wedge-shaped case.

Way more interesting is the S2, a clamshell tablet with two 5.5-inch screens. Each section has a rounded back, making it look like a squashed burrito when closed. When open, you can use it as a tablet with a black stripe down the middle, or each screen can display different content, similar to the dual-screen Nintendo DS consoles.”

You can read more here.

Hmm…I’ve been toying with the idea of getting an iPad for a while but with new designs from other retailers emerging all the time, I think I may wait a little while before making my decision!

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E-book Piracy

“Books are the last bastion of analogue”, said Jeff Bezos, in an interview with Newsweek in November 2007.  “Music and video have been digital for a long time,” he continued, “short-form reading has been digitized, beginning with the early Web. But long-form reading really hasn’t.”

(Image Courtesy Newsweek November 2007)

Later that week, Bezos, the CEO of Internet commerce giant, released the Amazon Kindle, a device that was to transform the way we can access, read and store e-books. Since then, its success has brought about rival devices – such as the Sony Reader – and now hundreds of thousands of books are available for download straight to your reader.

The question now posed, it seems, is how piracy will affect e-books, authors and – wider still – the publishing community.

Last week I read this article in The Metro  “Ebook piracy is ‘colossal threat’, in which ‘award-winning crime writer David Hewson’ remarked that the illegal downloading and piracy of e-books would bring about the end of the world as we know it. Oh okay. I lie. He didn’t say that. Something more along the lines that books would now be affected like the music industry has been. My general interest was one of ‘meh’ before I turned the page, only to be distracted by my bus driver announcing that the destination of my bus had changed, which meant that we all had to get off the bus and wait on the side of the road for the next one to come along, my copy of The Metro long forgotten as was the article about e-book piracy mayhem…

….until today, when I read this  piece on about The Metro‘s article. The Observer journalist Russell Davies comments that he hopes e-book piracy fears do not prompt ‘the draconian crack-down of the 1990s’.

“The book business likes to invoke those days too and repeatedly assures us it is not going to make the mistakes the music industry made. Unfortunately, the conclusions it seems to have drawn are that the recorded music business wasn’t draconian and heavy-handed enough, that it didn’t issue enough take-down notices and didn’t sue enough children and sweet old ladies. They seem not to have realised that the only way to compete with pirates is to offer a better product and better service; a better combination of price, convenience and availability.( 24 April 2011)

Which? also featured a piece on Hewson’s comments. Sarah Kidner writes that this ‘colossal’ threat is far from reality and in fact presents a ‘colossal opportunity’. The Publishers Association, where authors can report copyright infringement, received 831 notifications of infringement in the past week yet ebooks are now outselling their paperback equivalents, as reported by The Association of American Publishers. That’s great news!

Both Davies and Kidner remark that publishers should take this as a sign that e-books must remain competitively priced – and priced LOWER than the version available in bookshops. People want the best value – they’re not going to pay more for an e-book if it’s considerably cheaper to walk into WH Smith and pick it up off the shelf. As an avid reader of books, and someone who’s toyed with the idea of buying a kindle, I’m interested to see how this possible issue develops. Let’s hope it’s not another case of Napster.

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Open source journalism:

A website I’ve recently been made aware of, trialing open-source journalism. The site welcomes contributions from journalists, bloggers and anyone who wishes to contribute. It’s a nice example of the types of non-mainstream news sites popping up featuring original content, rather than news aggregation and comment.

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Apps for Photographers

This makes me want to get an iPhone. Proof that journalists, and now photographers, don’t necessarily need cumbersome, heavy and expensive equipment to produce good quality work!

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The New York Times: the move towards a digital future

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The NYT released it’s quarterly financials today.

Interesting article on the giant’s performance, as it graples with subscription fees and improves its online performance.

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