Monthly Archives: October 2007

How can you study media without studying new media?

We’ve had an ‘Applicant Day’ in my department today – and I discovered that some people studying a HND in Media were not covering new media. My reaction?

  • Television production companies are now required to submit ‘360-degree’ programme pitches that include a new media element. Often the budget for that is bigger than for the programme. Add to that red-button interactivity, streaming, mobile TV, and DVDs.
  • Photographers routinely package their work on CDROM, or sell it online. A web portfolio is essential.
  • Public Relations employees are required to understand viral ‘word of mouth’ technologies like social networking, blogging, promotional games, websites, and email.
  • Radio has been going digital for some time now. Most radio stations are streamed online.
  • The music industry has been transformed by the web. Some pointers for you: Napster; Kazaa; iPod; iTunes; mp3; MySpace; Last.fm; Radiohead.
  • And there’s journalism… well. Just read every post, ever, on this blog. Ever.

What else did I say? Nag your tutors, and start swotting up in your spare time. Your college is doing you a disservice, but that shouldn’t stop you.

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The NUJ fuss – now I’m spitting

I’ve held back from commenting on the NUJ’s initial remarks on multimedia working but a call for reaction to Donnacha DeLong’s accompanying piece on the NUJ New Media mailing list – and some of the comments in response – have finally got me typing in frustration. In particular, one person’s remark that “The biggest problem is that on the web everyone thinks they are equal (and capable)” got me spitting. Continue reading

Blogs and Investigative journalism: fundraising

Part five of this draft book chapter looks at how blogs have changed the funding of journalism through their ability to attract reader donations, as well as other increasingly important sources such as licensing and foundations. I would welcome any corrections, extra information or comments.

Fundraising

Just as new media technologies are challenging publishing and distribution conventions, traditional business models have also been disrupted in a news industry which has, at least in the West, been facing declines in readership and advertising revenue for decades (Meyer, 2004). In this environment investigative journalism has been one of the first to suffer from cuts to staff and resources (Knightley, 2004; Outing, 2005; Freola, 2007), or to be targeted towards the more profitable areas of celebrity coverage.

In response to this decline in funding, blogs have offered a new way to finance investigative journalism. Continue reading

All quiet on the western front? Not quite.

German regional publisher WAZ just launched its new flagship website, Der Westen. New features include geotagging, blogs and keyword filtering, monitored from a futuristic-looking newsroom. Martin Stabe has the details.

The concept, writes Der Spiegel, is to let users choose the centre of their world, their perspective on news. Der Westen then provides content around it.

The FAZ today has an interview of blogger-turned-editor-in-chief Katharina Borchert. Numerous online ventures have been playing on regional papers’ turf, from local advertisers flocking to AdSense to local radios breaking news more rapidly, she says. To compete, paper brands must regain their offline roles as community leaders by enhancing the news hole with social features, Facebook-style. Continue reading

Advice for someone with a big story, but no evidence

I have been approached with the following question, which raises such a range of issues, and is so tough to answer, that I thought it best to open it up to you. The person has given permission for me to do this on condition of anonymity. Here’s the question – what would be your response?

Suppose someone, in a vulnerable position, having little resources, knows something very very serious that happened some time ago. He has no evidence at all other than that he was there.

It’s a political scandal of some size. Headline news if true. Continue reading

Blogs and investigative journalism: publishing

Part four of this draft book chapter looks at how blogs have changed the publishing of journalism through its possibilities for transparency, potential permanence over time, limitless space, and digital distribution systems (part one is here; part two here; part three here) . I would welcome any corrections, extra information or comments.

Publishing

Traditionally, news has always been subject to the pressures of time and space. Today’s news is tomorrow’s proverbial ‘fish and chip paper’ – news is required to be ‘new’; stories “have a 24 hour audition on the news stage, and if they don’t catch fire in that 24 hours, there’s no second chance” (Rosen, 2004). At the same time, part of the craft of journalism in the 20th century has been the ability to distil a complex story into a particular word count or time slot, while a talent of editors is their judgement in allocating space based on the pressures of the day’s competing stories.

In the 21st century, however, new media technologies have begun to challenge the limitations of time and space that defined the news media in the 20th. Continue reading

Review: Online Journalism Ethics (Friend & Singer)

Book coverOnline Journalism Ethics: Traditions and Transitions
Cecilia Friend and Jane B. Singer
ME Sharpe, 2007, 245 pp., ISBN 0765615738

On April 16, 2007, a 23-year-old man shot and killed 32 people at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. As the shootings were taking place students reported what was taking place on blogs, mobile phones, instant messaging, Flickr, Wikipedia, and social networks.

As they did so, journalists started arriving in search of information and reaction. Some “lurked”, taking what they found and publishing it elsewhere; others engaged in “digital doorstepping” – asking students for their experiences and feelings, or if they’d be willing to be interviewed on camera.

While traditional journalists saw the material as being ‘in the public domain’, many students reacted angrily to the invasion of what they saw as ‘their’ space. It was an example of worlds colliding, highlighting the new ethical challenges facing journalists as new media technologies enabled the distinction between public and private, and between publisher and audience, to collapse.

In this context, Friend and Singer’s book on the ethics of online journalism is hugely welcome. Continue reading