Posts Tagged Media

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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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

ladder to the sun.jpg

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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Open source journalism: newassignment.net

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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Videogames valuable for journalism

I would never think to put videogames and journalism in the same article, let alone the same sentence, but it seems journalists could learn a thing or two from the way video games are put together.

In a post on Design Lab today, Designing a Newsgame Is an Act of Journalism, Bobby Schweizer interestingly muses that journalism is so focused on the who,what, where, and when that sometimes the how and why are put to the side or ignored all together – especially in 24-hour rolling news as viewers can easily identify with what’s happened or who is involved. It’s reporting that merely makes viewers/readers aware rather than totally informed.

Schweizer says videogames can’t work like this – the how and why are incredibly important. Games ‘are nothing’ , he says, without these elements. “Videogames are valuable for journalism because they don’t just describe — they demonstrate.”

I admit, this has nothing to do with the post.

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Photoshopped Photojournalism

In one of my classes last year, we were shown a photo taken in Beirut of the aftermath of an Israeli air raid bombing in 2006. The discussion was on truth in photography and whether we could take what we saw at face value or if it required interpretation. At first we talked about cropped images – perhaps a photograph of a large demonstration, which in actual fact was only a small group of angry people. Then he showed us this one:

Photoshopped? An image of Beirut after an Israel air raid in 2006

Our seminar leader asked if we could see anything wrong with the picture. We stared at it for a few minutes but none of us knew what he was talking about. Was there something missing? Should there have been something else there? After a while, he smiled, and clicked over to this image:

The original photo - less smoke and fewer buildings

This one was far less dramatic and we were told this was the original photograph – the former had been Photoshopped to display more smoke, darker plumes and even more buildings at the foreground. Looking at it now, with the two picture to compare, it’s quite easy to see that the Photoshopped image doesn’t look quite right. There were other examples too and it prompted a heated discussion on how photojournalism, which you would assume can show an event far better (and easier) than a journalist describing it, could actually be misleading.

The Guardian posted an article on this very issue:

“The whole point of photojournalism, of course, is that it does not lie – it illustrates to readers what so many column inches can’t. More worrisome, however, is that photos in the news do not even have to be doctored to distort reality or damage someone’s credibility. ” (The Guardian 16 July 2008)

While I don’t think this is a common practice, the altering of journalistic images is an important issue and ways to spot such changes should be explored.

Today, niemanlab.org published this article Photoshop, journalism, and forensics: Why skepticism may be the best filter for photojournalism:

“Part of the reason images…are so powerful and telling is that there is an inherent trust that goes along with photography, particularly news photography: Seeing is believing.”

Nieman got talking to Santiago Lyon, director of photography for the Associated Press about the dangers of photo manipulation. Lyon and  Hany Farid, an expert in the emerging field of digital forensics, gave a talk at MIT about photojournalism in the age of Photoshop. Both Lyon and Farid are trying to establish a way to filter out manipulated pictures. Although differing in their approaches (Lyon overseas around 300 photographers and Farid is a computer science professor at Dartmouth University) both seem to agree that skepticism – doubting a photo is genuine and working from there – is the best way to approach this complicated issue. It’s encouraging to see organisations, such as AP, addressing the matter – what’s not so encouraging is that photojournalists feel the need to change their image in the first place.

Separately, how awesome does digital forensics sound?! Forget CSI – it’s PSI!

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The success of The Guardian: Emily Bell gives talk at Columbia University

Former Guardian News and Media Director Emily Bell, gave a talk at Columbia’s School of Journalism, where she heads the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia. She discussed reasons for the publication’s success – and failures – and how online had been embraced to make it one of the most visited news sites on the web. Article can be found here.

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