Every December Nic Newman asks me and a bunch of other people for their thoughts on the year just passed, and the year to come. This year, it seems to me, has been particularly seminal, so I’m reproducing my responses here.
1. What surprised you in 2014?
How many news organisations finally began to write web-native copy: linking and embedding multimedia (often from YouTube, Flickr, Twitter or Vine).
“Anonymity loves company,” security researcher Ross Anderson reminded attendees at this month’s Logan Symposium on secrecy, surveillance and censorship. “You can only hide in a crowd.”
In other words, the more people who use encryption in their email, or other security measures, the less unusual it becomes.
And the more widespread these practices are, the harder it is for the contents of messages to be used to identify whistleblowers – whether that is with journalists, charities, or even whistleblowing services (remember that only the message is encrypted, not the identity of the sender or recipient).
Something remarkable happened this year. Something I’ve been waiting for for a long time.
News reports on the web finally started to look more and more like… well, web-native articles.
Not print articles online, not broadcast journalism online, but online journalism, online. I’m talking about journalism which isn’t just text: whether that means linking and embedding or mixing text with images, video or audio.
So what changed in 2014? Here are three factors I’ve noticed growing in influence over the last 12 months. Continue reading →
“Sarah Koenig, the lead producer and narrator … used the tools of legitimate reporting — the right to public records, access to experts, the goodwill of interviewees, compelling soundbites, stylish storytelling … — to intrude into and disrupt real lives for the fun of it. It’s voyeurism, not journalism.”
Serialfollows Koenig as she attempts to get to the bottom of a murder conviction she suspects may be a miscarriage of justice. The fact that she does not know whether it is or not is the basis of Jones’s misgivings:
“Real-life stories hurt the peopled involved … When the reporting phase is exhausted, it’s crucial to understand what kind of a story it is, and maybe whether it is a story at all.”
I think Jones makes a mistake common to those used to traditional journalistic production practices: firstly to mistake the subject for the purpose; and secondly to misunderstand modern journalism techniques. Continue reading →
Last month The Cambodia Daily announced it was going HTTPS. In a guest post for OJB Joshua Wilwohl explains why they decided to go secure, and how they did it. (Disclosure: Joshua is a student of mine on the MA in Online Journalism by distance learning at Birmingham City University).
During the past year, The Cambodia Daily has witnessed an increase in government interest in monitoring the Internet.
I recently hosted a podcast discussion at Birmingham City University for my MA Online Journalism students on ‘platform publishing‘: in other words, journalism on platforms other than traditional websites.
My guests discussed their experiences of publishing for email, SnapChat, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They were: Continue reading →
The surprise of the Logan Symposium‘s second day was the appearance of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked those documents in 1971. “Secrets are not kept so much by technical means but by people,” he said. Continue reading →
It is common to hear attacks on journalists mentioned at these events, but rare to hear an old-fashioned hack like MacFadyen also talk about the “growing number of hackers being imprisoned”, while noting the commonalities of a desire for a free press, free speech, and “a free internet”. Continue reading →