Monthly Archives: January 2005

Knowing who lobbies who, and who funds research

Keyword: Online Journalism. The Education Guardian reports on the SpinWatch website, what looks like an excellent resource for journalists. Written by researchers, journalists, and, now, anyone who wants to post, it aims to expose “hitherto unknown – or undeclared – links between organisations.” There is some editorial control: the founder, David Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Strathclyde, says “All articles must have their sources checked and verified by the vetting committee before they are allowed to appear on the site.”

Another quote from Miller make a compelling case for journalists using the site:

“You [The Guardian] ran a story about a report from the International Policy Network claiming that climate change was nowhere near as bad as had been previously thought,” he says. “What you didn’t say is that the IPN is a small company … that has received a $50,000 (£27,000) donation from Exxon, the US oil giant. If your readers had been made aware of this, they might have read the article somewhat differently.”

On a related subject, check out this book about how science, the media and public opinion is manipulated by industry. The page is on the PRWatch website, an organisation dedicated to monitoring the PR industry, and a site well worth exploring.

Google to move into internet telephony? (and TV search) (and browsers)

Keyword: Technology. Rumours abound that Google are planning to launch a VoIP (Internet telephony) service. Here’s the post that led me to those rumours, with some interesting comments.

On a related subject, the company has also confirmed that it is introducing a TV search facility that allows user to search the text of the show. There are plans to eventually include internet-based video in the search too.

Is that all? No. Here CNET report on Google hiring the lead programmer of Firefox, fueling speculation that the company intend to launch a web browser.

Expect to hear future rumours such as ‘CNET hire cleaner – gcleaner.com address already registered’…

Improving your searching – and using good reference sites

Two great articles from Chris Sherman – the first is a good overview of reference websites, the second his New Year’s search resolutions, including stopping using the Google toolbar (and instead using Firefox’s excellent search plugins) and seeking multiple ‘opinions’ (search results). With the latter point he points out two great sites: Thumbshots’s ranking tool allows you to compare sites’ ranking across search engines (more about this here), and Jux2 runs a search simultaneously on three engines, showing common results.

PS: For a good overview of more specialised search engines, see this page.

Losing trust in journalism

Special report in today’s Media Guardian about what non-journalists think about journalism, the upshot being pretty negative. Responses include an op-piece from John Lloyd – sample quote:

“The charges … include a belief that standards of veracity and even simple comprehension are lacking; that factual reporting has given way to tendentiousness within reportage itself; that the demands of complex issues are deliberately ignored, far beyond the demands of constricted space or time; that stories of crisis, failure, scandal and personal hatred are the norm; that official or corporate narratives better packaged and more insistently pressed than ever now slip unexamined into news reporting. Because of these practices, trust can no longer be placed in reporting; and as a result of that, both the institutions of democracy and the observation of human rights can suffer.”