Monthly Archives: August 2006

Whistleblowing on YouTube

[Keyword: , , ]. Credit to Michael De Kort who, after two years of frustration trying to get some action on what he saw as critical security flaws in a fleet of refurbished Coast Guard patrol boats, made a video blowing the whistle on his experiences and posted it on YouTube.com.

As the Washington Post reports,

“the video describes what De Kort says are blind spots in the ship’s security cameras, equipment that malfunctions in cold weather and other problems. “It may be very hard for you to believe that our government and the largest defense contractor in the world [are] capable of such alarming incompetence and can make
ethical compromises as glaring as what I am going to describe.” In response to De Kort’s charges, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the service has “taken the appropriate level of action.” A spokeswoman for the contractors said the allegations were without merit.”

Furthermore,

“The video also has caught the eye of people in high places. De Kort’s video has been covered by defense trade magazines, and yesterday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, wrote a letter to the Coast Guard asking for an answer to De Kort’s “extremely distressing” allegations.”

One to watch…

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User content discussion

[Keyword: , , ]. There’s a lengthy discussion on ‘User Content’ at NMK, with some well respected contributors, including Richard Sambrook, Head of Global News Division, BBC, and Adam Curry.

Adam Curry is quoted as saying that “within 5 years 50% of media will be created by the people”, which seems a suitably vague quote to prove or not to prove, given that if you qualify the internet as ‘media’, the figure is probably applicable now.

Meanwhile, Richard Sambrook betrays an industry-centric perspective on citizen journalism that sees it as “just like a radio phone-in for the digital age”. To compound matters, rather than citizen journalism, he prefers the term “citizen media” or “citizen storyteller”. The debate has moved on, Richard.

At the same time, he “realised that people around him knew more collectively than he did.”

“In India the “See It, Report It” banner saw UGC within 12 months go from fringe
right into the mainstream. It is changing editorial culture, he reflected. The
idea that the 6 o’clock news will tell you want you want to know is now
anachronistic, as is the view that we’ll tell you what’s good for you.”

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Citizen journalism – the documentary

[Keyword: , , ]. Poynter reports on a new documentary about citizen journalism, produced by a citizen, naturally. Citizen Journalism: from Pamphlet to Blog takes:

“a wide-angle view of the citizen journalism phenomenon [and] looks at the genesis of citizen journalism in the pamphleteers of the 18th century (most notably Thomas Paine), through the ‘zine movement of the late 20th century, and into its current form online in blogs.

“Featured are some of the most recognizable names in citizen journalism: Lisa Williams of H2Otown, Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online, consummate
video blogger Steve Garfield, as well as a number of others who are doing their part for the citizen journalism movement.”

The film can be seen at the Project Documentary blog and on Blip TV

Meanwhile, the Center for Citizen Media is asking What if citizen journalism is just a mirage?:

“Are we interested in “citizen journalism” in the abstract only to be disappointed when confronted with actual weblogs?

“If so, there might not be much to learn. Comparing and contrasting blogs and traditional media might be an intellectual dead end. Judging by the staleness of the conversation surrounding citizen journalism — as exemplified by the repetitive articles on the subject and the small number of examples that are consistently recycled — I’m beginning to believe that it is.

“I think that we can only learn about these new entities — big thriving online communities aimed at political change or tiny solo blogs devoted to the changes in a rural county over time — by approaching them on their own terms.”

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Online Journalism Award finalists

[Keyword: ]. You can find a full list of the finalists for this year’s Online Journalism Awards at the Online Journalism Review, with links. They lead on the fact that published newspaper websites dominate the list, while the Press Gazette notes that the BBC is the only UK organisation listed (in the “Outstanding Use of Multiple Media” category for large organisations).

Well worth a browse, particularly “My Blue Eyed Girl,” a human interest interactive feature by student Heather Gehlert of the School of Journalism, University of Berkeley, while “Azerbaijan Elections 2005,” by EurasiaNet.org. reminds me of an interactive election map that one of our Journalism students at UCE Birmingham, Roslyn Tappenden, produced last year.

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Multimedia journalism meets conversational media

[Keyword: , ]. Poynter showcases a great example of multimedia journalism that also incorporate conversational journalism: the Christian Science Monitor’s feature: Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story:

“Along with a gripping, detailed account of Monitor freelancer Jill Carroll’s widely publicized 82 days of captivity while on assignment in Iraq, this package also includes streaming video of an extensive interview with Carroll — as well as links to related
coverage, including the still-active Jill Carroll update blog.
Back in May, the Monitor started taking reader questions for Carroll… several of the hundreds of reader questions will be answered with video clips and full
transcripts
“[It] is an excellent example of how multimedia can become conversational media. I’d like to see this concept expanded, maybe by offering a call-in line where readers can record their comments in audio format, and even send in a photo or a link, so you can splice that in to the final video interview. And, as I mentioned earlier, I’d love it if the Monitor allowed online comments to each Q&A segment, to continue the conversation.”

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How newspapers can make money from bloggers

[Keyword: , , ]. The editor of The Independent may not think that there’s a model for making money out of websites, but two stories today may just force him into a rethink.

The first is a simple story of success from a publication that took the bold step to put its core content – in this case listings – online. Press Gazette reports that Time Out claims its success in the latest ABCs as justifying “the “bold step” of putting its London listings online.”

Meanwhile, and perhaps more significantly, Journalism.co.uk reports on the launch by Washingtonpost.com of a service linking advertisers and bloggers. Sponsored Blogroll “invites writers to register their interest in carrying advertisements on their sites. Marketers are then encouraged to select relevant destinations on which to buy space; the blogger shares advertising revenue with the newspaper company and will receive a link from a promotion box on the washingtonpost.com front page. Launched as an experiment, the project claims three sites as launch partners and is seeking writers publishing about technology, business, health, cars and travel.”

What the article doesn’t point out is that this is a rather canny approach from the Washington Post to the threat that bloggers – and the likes of Google AdSense – represent to their advertising revenues in the long term. This way, they protect their revenues without having to actually produce any editorial. In fact, what the newspaper is actually doing is selling advertising, and marketing, to bloggers, while the bloggers concentrate on the business of producing content. Now there’s a turnaround.

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Online news: journalism and the internet

[Keyword: ]. I wrote this way back in February before Stuart realised his publishers may not be pleased about it leaking out. The book is now ready, so here’s the blurb:

Students of online journalism may be interested to hear Stuart Allan is in the process of sending his latest book on the subject to the OU Press. He’s very kindly sent me a blurb which uses words like “exciting” and “important”, and which I reproduce below in the hope it will all come true… It certainly sounds much-needed:

Online News Journalism and the Internet
In this exciting and timely book Stuart Allan provides a wide-ranging analysis of online news. He offers important insights into the key debates concerning the ways in which journalism is evolving on the internet, devoting particular attention to the factors influencing its development. Using a diverse range of examples, he shows how the forms, practices and epistemologies of online news have gradually become conventionalized, and assesses the implications for journalism’s future.

The rise of online news is examined with regard to the reporting of a series of major news events. Topics include coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, the death of Princess Diana, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, the September 11 attacks, election campaigns, and the war in Iraq, amongst others. The emergence of blogging is traced with an eye to its impact on journalism as a profession. The participatory journalism of news sites such as Indymedia, OhmyNews, and Wikinews is explored, as is the citizen journalist reporting of the South Asian tsunami, London bombings and Hurricane Katrina. In each instance, the uses of new technologies – from digital cameras to mobile telephones and beyond – are shown to shape journalistic innovation, often in surprising ways.

This book is essential reading for students, researchers and journalists.
Contents 1) Introduction
2) The Rise of Online News
3) Brave New Media Worlds: BBC News Online, The Drudge Report, and the Birth of Blogging
4) Covering the Crisis: Online Journalism on September 11
5) Sensational Scandals: The New(s) Values of Blogs
6) Online Reporting of the War in Iraq: Bearing Witness
7) Participatory Journalism: IndyMedia, OhmyNews and Wikinews
8) Citizen Journalists on the Scene: The London Bombings and Hurricane Katrina
9)New Directions