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January 22 2012

17:18

Australia: APN News & Media takes stake in online start-up Friendorse

The Australian :: APN News & Media has joined with technology business incubator Pollenizer in two investments, including taking a 25% stake in online start-up Friendorse. APN said the investment followed a successful trial of Friendorse, a neighbourhood-based community recommendations web service for local businesses.

[Matt Crockett, APN:] Part of APN's strategy for our regional publishing businesses is to provide more services and useful local information relating directly to those communities.

Continue to read Sally Jackson, www.theaustralian.com.au

December 28 2011

04:00

Australia: newspapers argue against regulation of media, free press 'needed for democracy'

The West Australian :: The West Australian newspaper's editor-in-chief Bob Cronin has strongly argued against any form of Government regulation of media at today's Perth hearing of the media inquiry. Mr Cronin told the hearing, headed by chairman Ray Finkelstein QC, that regulation was irreconcilable with our system of democracy. The inquiry is considering whether there should be Government regulation of the print media by the introduction of a statutory complaints tribunal.

Continue to read Kim Macdonald, au.news.yahoo.com

September 16 2011

13:16

Driving the Digger Down Under

G’day,

Henare here from the OpenAustralia Foundation – Australia’s open data, open government and civic hacking charity. You might have heard that we were planning to have a hackfest here in Sydney last weekend. We decided to focus on writing new scrapers to add councils to our PlanningAlerts project that allows you to find out what is being built or knocked down in your local community. During the two afternoons over the weekend seven of us were able to write nineteen new scrapers, which covers an additional 1,823,124 Australiansa huge result.

There are a number of reasons why we chose to work on new scrapers for PlanningAlerts. ScraperWiki lowers the barrier of entry for new contributors by allowing them to get up and running quickly with no setup – just visit a web page. New scrapers are also relatively quick to write which is perfect for a hackfest over the weekend. And finally, because we have a number of working examples and ScraperWiki’s documentation, it’s conceivable that someone with no programming experience can come along and get started.

It’s also easy to support people writing scrapers in different programming languages using ScraperWiki. PlanningAlerts has always allowed people to write scrapers in whatever language they choose by using an intermediate XML format. With ScraperWiki this is even simpler because as far as our application is concerned it’s just a ScraperWiki scraper – it doesn’t even know what language the original scraper was written in.

Once someone has written a new scraper and formatted the data according to our needs, it’s a simple process for us to add it to our site. All they need to do is let us know, we add it to our list of planning authorities and then we automatically start to ask for the data daily using the ScraperWiki API.

Another issue is maintenance of these scrapers after the hackfest is over. Lots of volunteers only have the time to write a single scraper, maybe to support their local community. What happens when there’s an issue with that scraper but they’ve moved on? With ScraperWiki anyone can now pick up where they left off and fix the scraper – all without us ever having to get involved.

It was a really fun weekend and hopefully we’ll be doing this again some time. If you’ve got friends or family in Australia, don’t forget to tell them to sign up for PlanningAlerts.

Cheers,

Henare
OpenAustralia Foundation volunteer


July 28 2011

04:47

BBC iPlayer goes global with iPad app launch in 11 countries

Guardian :: BBC Worldwide has launched its global iPlayer service, via an iPad app that will be made available in 11 countries in Western Europe. The US, Canada and Australia will follow later this year, as part of what is intended to be a one-year pilot.

The service will offer a limited amount of content for free, supported by pre-roll ads and sponsorship, but its core business model is subscription, with users paying €6.99 a month or €49.99 a year.

Continue to read Stuart Dredge, www.guardian.co.uk

June 11 2011

20:50

YouTube EDU - Google's plan to build "Global Classroom"

Beet.TV :: Having launched just over two years ago as a hub for college and universitie YouTube channels, YouTube EDU has become a destination for education, providing an index for a broad range of topics and campus activities, says Angela Lin who manages the education program at YouTube. The YouTube EDU site integrates content from 400 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia.

Watch the video interview Andy Plesser, www.beet.tv

May 19 2011

15:00

The Conversation, the startup Australian news site, wants to bring academic expertise to breaking news

What would happen if you had close to 1,000 academics available to contribute to the breaking news cycle? Would it change the course, and the discourse, of news?

Andrew Jaspan thinks it will.

Jaspan, formerly an editor at The Age, the Melbourne-based newspaper, founded The Conversation, an Australian nonprofit news site, in order to combat problems that are just as present there as in other news environments: shrinking newsrooms and a sound-bite driven broadcast culture.

But The Conversation’s approach is a novel one: While the site uses professional journalists as its editors, it uses academics to provide the content for the site. The goal, says the site’s charter, is to provide “a fact-based and editorially-independent forum” that will “unlock the knowledge and expertise of researchers and academics to provide the public with clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems” and “give experts a greater voice in shaping scientific, cultural and intellectual agendas by providing a trusted platform that values and promotes new thinking and evidence-based research.”

As Jaspan explained: “Our model is not so much to use the university as a source of news, though we do report research findings as news. What we really try to do is use academics and researchers to analyze live news events, like the killing of Osama Bin Laden through to the Fukiyama earthquakes or whatever [other] complex news stories…. We are using people who are experts to give greater depth to the understanding of complex and live issues.

The Conversation offers a number of surprises to those looking for a more in-depth approach to issues in the news:

  • Academics are writing about the “now,” within the news cycle, in areas related to their expertise
  • Taking experts to the people, instead of selectively filtering their expertise. Want the big voice on climate change? Then read what he or she has to say directly — rather than through a few sample quotes in a story
  • Readability. The site is set — mechanically, within its content management system — to make the stories easy (enough) to read. Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability index (set to the reading level of a 16-year-old for maximum readability), the CMS can actually tell academics when they’ve veered into jargon…and an editor can help steer them back
  • Real-time news updates filed twice a day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon
  • Coverage of business and the economy, environment and energy, health and medicine, politics and society, and science and technology

And, as the site’s tagline promises, “academic rigour, journalistic flair.”

As an academic myself, I was a bit skeptical of the idea. After all, some of the most bombastic and opinionated folks reside in academia — so I wasn’t exactly sure how Jaspan’s site would deliver on a promise to provide more in-depth coverage without the rhetorical flourishes that often seem to come with American academic publishing. And what about the political implications? Academics, after all, as a group, tend to be more liberal than the population at large.

Jaspan had three counterpoints to my concern:

First, “every author has to fill out a profile, so the reader knows who the person is and their education. And there is the additional requirement of a disclosure of any potential conflicts which might color their judgment.” Second, in response to the political question — after noting that my academics-are-liberal assertion might be a bit loaded — he replied that what The Conversation is ultimately doing is putting people in touch with “academics who are usually better informed than the general public because of their depth of knowledge and their sense of the complexity of the issue.”

Third, and most important, Jaspan sees The Conversation, true to its name, as leading to public debate. “One of the key things we want to do with a public-facing media channel is to make sure we have a range of views on something like the execution of Osama Bin Ladin, and that we have different interpretations of what happened and whether or not the means in which it was done were judicial.” The main goal, though: “We want to surprise our readers. We don’t want to give them the usual explanations, alternative insights, and viewpoints — and that will lead to lively conversation with readers.”

Jaspan’s backers come from both the nonprofit and for-profit realms. The Conversation is backed by Ernst & Young, among other corporate supporters. And from academia, he has drawn on some of the top Australian research universities, in addition to Australia’s Department of Education. To find the academics, Jaspan and his staff did a “census” of academics based on their areas of expertise. Then, by word of mouth, they asked participating academics to recommend colleagues who would make good contributors to the site.

But, again, the skeptical academic in me had another question: Why on earth would a busy academic take time away from publishing (ahem) to write for The Conversation?

Part of the answer has to do with Australia’s current approach to university promotion. Research and teaching form part of the core methods of evaluation, but a third arm of assessment is an academic’s quality of public engagement and social impact. According to Jaspan, Australian universities are putting a new stress on the third.

And since The Conversation gives each writer a dashboard to measure his or her own metrics, the academic can then use those data for his or her professional promotion and evaluation, actually measuring his or her social impact in a quantifiable way for university administrators — based, say, on retweets or traffic for a particular story. The academics don’t get paid for their work. Instead, though, they might pick up speaking engagements or consulting gigs.

There’s also the instant-gratification factor. While traditional academic publishing generally makes academics wait a year (or more) to see something in print, Jaspan said that some academics relish being able to turn something around in two hours.

Currently, The Conversation is still in beta form, with Jaspan looking to add more audience engagement and commenting features, as well as richer multimedia. Jaspan estimates that the site is getting about 120,000 to 150,000 visitors each month — with those metrics rising by “10 percent a week.”

But Jaspan isn’t seeing, or hoping for, an audience purely composed of academic eggheads. “This is not a site for academics,” he notes. “This is not a site for university sector. This is a site for every day public discourse.”

January 20 2011

19:44

Aussie Academic Journal to Publish Peer-Reviewed Journalism







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

An Australian journalism professor has started an online academic journal with a twist: It publishes journalism, rather than just studies of journalists and their work.

The fledgling journal -- believed to be the first of its kind in the world -- is called Research Journalism and it's the initiative of Edith Cowan University journalism lecturer Dr. Kayt Davies.

"I would like it to become a vibrant publication that regularly breaks big stories [and] I would like it to enable academic journalists to be practicing what they preach and really leading their classes by example and involving their classes in research projects," Davies told me. "[But] most importantly I would like it to make a real contribution to Australian civic life by examining corporate and government behavior and bringing problems and potential solutions to light."

The journal publishes journalism as an academic exercise. Authors are required to apply for university ethics clearance for their journalism projects, and submitted articles are subjected to triple-blind peer review.

Academic Focus for Australian J-Profs

In the U.S., the craft of journalism has academic status in many journalism schools and many professors continue to work as journalists after entering the classroom. But in Australia, journalism professors often struggle to maintain their professional practice when they join academia.

One reason for this is the structure of Australian universities and their dependence on research funding, which has historically discriminated against journalism research. Another is a traditional disregard for published journalism as a legitimate form of journalism research -- in the way that art and literature have long been accepted as creative research outputs.

Both of these factors have mitigated the practice of journalism by Australian journalism professors. It's also due to the demands of traditional academic research requirements, which typically include the study of journalists and journalism through the disciplines of cultural studies, mass communications, and journalism studies but not the academic publication of works of journalism. Then there's the heavy teaching loads. While there are some notable exceptions including collaborations between the online alternative news outlet Crikey and two journalism schools, most Australian journalism professors eschew journalism practice in favor of traditional academic publication in highly ranked, peer-reviewed journals.

A sense of frustration with this reality was one of Davies' main motivations for starting the journal.

"It was a crying shame to be preventing academic journalists from doing journalism," she said. "In many ways, with our skills honed by teaching and without the time and other constraints of commercial newsroom employment, I had a sense that we could be doing remarkable work."

I know from experience that it's essential to continue practicing as a professional journalist in order to be an effective and up-to-date journalism educator. But in an academic environment like Australia's, it can be difficult to sustain. In addition to building traditional academic publication profiles, journalism educators in my country are increasingly required to obtain PhDs, regardless of career achievements. They are also expected to win significant research grants; undertake labor-intensive teaching and innovate in the classroom; keep track of massive industry change; offer career guidance for students (past and present); and coordinate student publications.

A Need to Practice Journalism

Nevertheless, continuing professional practice after becoming a journalism professor is increasingly necessary, according to Davies.

Kayt Davies.jpg

"Staying in the game and continuing to do it is the best way to [keep] abreast of the changes in the industry, and by that I don't only mean that news is going online," she said. "I also mean the way corporate and government departments duck and weave and spin, the FOI [freedom of Information] rules, sensitivities about privacy, all kinds of changes."

As Davies pointed out, "It is ... the best way to motivate a class. When you stand up in front of them and air your frustration at receiving bland motherhood statements in response to specific questions, they arc up and understand that journalism requires determination and tenacity and it isn't just about placidly churning whatever is handed to them."

If the system in Australia that discourages active journalism practice by journalism educators is to change, then academics, universities and the Australian Research Council need to start recognizing published works of journalism as research and/or back Davies' approach of publishing a peer-reviewed journal of academic journalism.

Some Australian journalism schools are starting to make progress in this regard, with limited agreement to count journalism as research and recognition by one university of the professional code of ethics for Australian journalists as a suitable replacement for cumbersome ethics clearance processes.

"The main difference [between U.S. and Australian journalism professors] is that U.S. academics are not bound by the ethics committee red tape that is effectively gagging Australian journalism academics," Davies said.

This can cause journalism projects to be refused ethics clearance by university committees because these committees interpret the rules of academic research as prohibiting the naming of sources and the broadcast of recorded interviews if the interviewees are identifiable, for example.

While the process of reform in Australia has begun, it is likely to be a long and difficult struggle against overlapping bureaucratic processes. Davies sees her journal as an alternative route to supporting professional journalism practice among Australian journalism professors, while working within existing structures.

All Content Welcome

Davies will accept submissions of all forms of journalism -- from text to audio, video and multimedia -- and she is keen to receive international submissions. She has informal agreements in place with Fairfax Digital and Crikey to co-publish content for mainstream consumption. But what distinguishes the journal from standard journalism publications, aside from the academic ethics clearance process and peer review requirements, is the publication of an accompanying reflective commentary by each author that outlines the journalistic methodologies and processes adopted in the production of the piece of journalism. In academic terms, this equates to an exegesis.

"I think this will make the journal a useful tool in actually tracking contemporary best practice," Davies said.

Unlike most other academic journals, Research Journalism will publish its content online, and without a pay wall. This fits with Davies' general approach to digital media.

"Media is changing and, unless we want to be teaching something as outdated as blacksmithing and smocking, we need to be across the shifts," she said. "This doesn't mean we should abandon teaching grammar and thinking skills and devote all our time to learning software, but it does mean we have to be paying attention and preparing our grads for the world they'll be working in."

Davies hopes the journal will evolve to incorporate an interactive element. She has established a WordPress site that operates in conjunction with the journal and accommodates comments and limited social bookmarking. But at this stage, she isn't planning to experiment with crowdsourcing peer review, preferring instead to pursue traditionally recognized processes. Her immediate goal is to publish another 11 submissions in order to apply to have the journal formally rated via the system of scholarly publication rankings.

Challenges Ahead

One challenge is already hampering the progress of Research Journalism that may prove fatal: the failure of journalism academics to follow through on enthusiastic promises to submit content. So far, the only peer-reviewed article published on the site (which was launched nearly a year ago) is by Davies herself. (It's an excellent piece on conflict in a West Australian Indigenous community which was also published as a Crikey series).

"I am surprised that it has been so slow," Davies said. "Every time I speak about it to a group of journalism academics I get a flurry of promises and declarations of support but the promises are yet to manifest as submissions."

She said this is likely because of workload and cumbersome university ethics committee clearance processes, which can be viewed as hostile to journalism and incompatible with deadlines. But it's also likely to be a product of the reluctance of ladder-climbing academics to publish in lowly ranked or unranked academic journals. This is a Catch-22 that infuriates Davies.

"I can't apply for ranking until I have two editions out, and so if people are holding out for this reason then they are killing it before it can walk," she said. "My wish is that people would be a bit more generous, bold and proactive so that we can get something going that will be good for all of us."

Confession: I'm one of the academics who's so far failed to follow through on a promise to submit an article. But I am in the process of writing a piece for Davies on the controversy surrounding five tweets I sent from a journalism education conference in Sydney last November. The tweets will represent the journalistic output, while the exegesis will examine my experience of the international debate and the legal threats that the tweets triggered.

Research Journalism deserves the opportunity to make a global impact on contemporary journalism research and education -- and I encourage you to hold me to my commitment to help kick it along.

Photo of Dr. Kayt Davies by Floyd Holmes

Julie Posetti is an award winning journalist and journalism academic who lectures in radio and television reporting at the University of Canberra, Australia. She's been a national political correspondent, a regional news editor, a TV documentary reporter and presenter on radio and television with the Australian national broadcaster, the ABC. Her academic research centers on journalism and social media, talk radio, public broadcasting, political reporting and broadcast coverage of Muslims post-9/11. She is writing a PhD on "The Twitterisation of Journalism" and she consults on social media for contentgroup. Posetti blogs at J-Scribe and you can follow her on Twitter.







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

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December 14 2010

12:16

Hyperlocal voices: Brian Ward, Indolent Dandy (Fitzroy, Melbourne)

This latest in the Hyperlocal Voices series of interviews looks at a second Australian hyperlocal blogger: Brian Ward, who runs Fitzroyality, a blog covering Fitzroy in Melbourne – which he describes as “vehemently anti-commercial” – as well as a number of aggregator blogs around the city. He has successfully fought major publishers on inaccuracies and copyright, and the site has now broken 1.4m pageviews.

Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds?

Fitzroyalty is entirely my work. I’ve been using computers since I was 12 and have been online since 1990, the year I started university. I have a PhD in literature and have worked as a writer and editor in print publishing. I now work only in electronic publishing and have expanded into social media marketing and managing online communities. I’m a cliched digital native.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

I wanted to do some writing online, and spent months examining the blogging phenomenon in 2005-2006. I wanted to understand the motivation to create free content, and to ensure I had the motivation to maintain my interest in my subject(s) and to keep publishing regularly.

I read a lot about the online content ecology, about search engine optimisation and audience engagement. I also have an IT background, so it was fun to learn more about managing servers, installing open source software and other tasks associated with electronic publishing, which was essential to being able to operate indpendently.

The theme took some time to discover. I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and moved to Melbourne 8 years ago. I was passionate about my new home in the bohemian centre of Melbourne, Fitzroy (the cultural equivalent of Hackney, Spitalfields or Shoreditch in London), and decided to write about it.

I was significantly influenced by a hyperlocal site for the nearby suburb of Abbotsford (http://abbotsfordblog.com/ – still online but defunct since 2008), which started about 3 months before I started Fitzroyalty. It was very important to have a theme I would not get bored with.

I was keenly unimpressed with the inane superficiality of the local (suburban) weekly newspapers (which tend to feature little local news and lots of syndicated content – they’re just vehicles for real estate advertising). I thought I could create something new that people would find useful and entertaining. Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest, smallest (about square 1km) and most densely populated (9000+) suburb. In 150 years it’s gone from industry to slum to gentrified urban cultural precinct. It has the critical mass of people and culture to enable an online local news publication to work.

When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

I started Fitzroyalty in May 2006. After researching platforms I decided against a free hosted one like Blogger and opted instead to host my own WordPress installation because I wanted to be free and independent of potential censorship, interference or intellectual property disputes (some hosts make claims on the content you publish on their platforms).

I registered a domain, bought hosting, installed WordPress and started writing and publishing. I already knew HTML and learned some CSS and PHP so I could alter WordPress templates, and also some (very basic) SQL to administer the database underneath.

I made the theme or concept loose enough to give me some diversity, so the site is mostly about Fitzroy, its culture, people and politics, and also whatever else I am doing. I am partially a food blogger and review places outside Fitzroy. I also do something quite unusual in deliberately analysing and commenting on the Melbourne online publishing scene, critiquing the business models of commercial guide sites, local government, and local business sites and the ethics of the blogging scene.

I also publish a series of 10 hyperlocal sites that aggregate posts from hundreds of local bloggers about inner city suburbs. They feature thousands of posts about restaurants, art, theatre, music and culture.

I started these in 2009 and so they have been running for 18-24 months (I built them over a period of months). They function as interesting destinations in their own right for local audiences, but via syndication they also serve a powerful (white hat) SEO function for the contributors, which is the incentive to participate.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

The Abbotsford blog was my primary inspiration, as well as the emerging food blogging scene, which is particularly strong in Melbourne. I’ve also been influenced by my reading about the future of media and the rapid development of social media. Hyperlocal aggregators like Outside.In have influenced me a lot, to the extent that I built my own hyperlocal aggregators using WordPress and an RSS aggregating plugin.

How did – and do – you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

I have a vigilante hatred of commercial media corporations and the anti-intellectual, lowest common denominator banal suburban celebrity culture they perpetuate, although I mostly admire government media corporations like the BBC and the Australian equivalent the ABC. I have little in common with any of them.

I deliberately have no business model and I’m vehemently anti-commercial. I publish free content as a hobby. I refuse advertising and all offers of free goods and services that businesses and public relations agencies send to food bloggers. I have no need to meet the needs of my audience because they don’t pay me. The only thing they give me is attention, and that I have to earn by being interesting.

What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

I’m most proud of winning copyright disputes against corporate dinosaurs. News Ltd used a photo I supplied them in breach of our agreement, did not credit me and published a deliberate falsehood about me. I took them to the official body, the Australian Press Council, and won. They had to publish an apology and correction.

I also defeated the billionaire might of Formula One Management (FOM) in a dispute about ownership of video I shot at the Australian F1 GP. I forced them to concede that I understood the US DMCA better than them and my deleted videos were reinstated on Youtube.

I’ve helped break significant local news stories, such as about a telco’s lame viral marketing campaign. I also do regular name and shame posts about content thieves and PR agencies that breach privacy laws by sending me spam.

I’m willing to write about stories no one else wants to touch, such as government censorship forcing local pornography producers to leave Australia.

In 2009 I pursued an FOI request against the local government to release details of restaurant hygiene inspections (Victoria is far behind Sydney in NSW, London and other cities in transparency and disclosure in this issue). I failed to get all the data I wanted but I certainly exposed the local council to be blundering idiots (not that it’s difficult to do that).

In 2010 I had a big impact writing about the ethics of food bloggers accepting free goods.

As a former academic it is satisfying for me to know that my site is on the curriculum of one of Australia’s most prestigious universities (University of Melbourne) and I have been approached and interviewed by several journalism students from other universities.

What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

I initially published stories whenever I could – 2 or 3 a week. Eventually I managed to have enough content to publish 1 a day, and then 2 a day, which I have managed to stick with for 2 years.

The regularity really drives traffic – publishing every day helped a lot, as did a lot of SEO I did in early 2009. In October 2008 the site received only 2,800 pageviews a month. By October 2010 it was over 120,000 pageviews a month (WordPress stats), with over 10,000 unique visitors by IP a month (Google Analytics stats). At December 2010 the site had received over 1,400,000 total pageviews.

My goal was to reach a significant percentage of the Fitzroy population, and I think I have achieved that; my readership is larger than Fitzroy’s population and it’s mostly from Melbourne.

According to Google Analytics, 82% of Fitzroyalty’s total (worldwide) traffic (based on the month of August 2010) is from Australia. The traffic from Melbourne is 79% of all Australian traffic and 65% of total traffic. It’s as local as it can possibly be measured. I believe in radical transparency and take the initiative to share information others hide for commercial reasons.

I am fascinated by the broader phenomenon of social media and I conduct deliberate experiments on my audience. I see my mission as not to please an audience and make them feel comfortable and good about themselves but to stir them into reflection and action, sometimes by making them uncomfortable. I’ve discovered you don’t have to be liked to be relevant and thus well read.

November 04 2010

19:03

5 Moments When Digital Media Transformed Australian Politics



mediashift_politics 2010 small.jpg

Recent years have seen significant changes in the way Australian politicians, political journalists and the public interact and communicate with each other. As a result, MediaShift asked me to identify the top five events in Australia's recent history where politics and new media intersected.

My shortlist, compiled with crowdsourcing assistance from my politically engaged Twitter and Facebook communities, includes a quintessentially Australian slogan that went viral; the demise of an opposition leader that played out via Twitter and demonstrated the transformative effect of the medium on political reporting; the Twitter-cast of the extraordinary political coup that ousted Labor prime minister in his first term; a bold High Court challenge to the curtailment of voter registration by an activist online media outfit; and the unmasking of a popular blogger and media critic by a political journalist in the aftermath of the 2010 federal election.

Here's a list that describes each event, and the impact of new media on Australian politics.

1. Kevin07

The 2007 campaign to elect Kevin Rudd prime minister of Australia was the country's first social media election. After 12 years of conservative government led by John Howard, a man who epitomized 1950s values, Rudd's campaign appeared positively contemporary and technologically cutting edge.

Kevin_Rudd_DOS_cropped.jpg

The campaign incorporated a moderately interactive website, blogs, email, YouTube, MySpace (back when it was hip) and Facebook to generate political interest among young voters who slapped Kevin07 t-shirts on their backs and added slogan bumper stickers to their cars, while also posting badges on their Facebook walls.

The Kevin07 campaign couldn't hold a candle to Obama's groundbreaking social media strategy in the year that followed, but it highlighted the stark contrast between the tech-savvy Rudd and yesterday's leader. And it visibly contributed to the activation of the voters who ultimately delivered Rudd a landslide victory that even cost Howard his seat in parliament.

Ironically, though, it was Rudd's perceived disconnectedness from the electorate, perhaps fueled by his failure to live up to expectations of engagement generated by social media interaction during the campaign, that cost him the prime ministership in a bloodless coup, less than three years later (see #Spill2 below).

2. #Spill

The dramatic unseating of Australia's Opposition Leader, the Liberal Party's Malcolm Turnbull, in December 2009 was extraordinary for many reasons. One of them was the role of Twitter in the drama. (I reported in detail on this for MediaShift earlier this year)

The hashtag #spill was used to aggregate Twitter commentary on the Liberal leadership crisis by Australian Twitter users. At one point, it became the fifth most popular trending item worldwide.

The message was clear: There was a new electorate in Australia and it was on Twitter. It wasn't an actual electorate, of course, but it was an emerging homeland for politically engaged citizens and new territory to be invaded by political journalists. As members of Canberra's Press Gallery poured onto Twitter, the transformative impact of Twitter on journalism was demonstrated. It broke down the barriers that traditionally separated journalists from audiences, segregated competing reporters and filtered communications between politicians and their constituents. The potential for a new form of participatory democracy, one which provided opportunity for unmediated interaction between audiences, the Fourth Estate and politicians was on display -- in real time.

3. #Spill2

One Twitter-exposed leadership spill wasn't enough for Australia. When Julia Gillard usurped her leader, Kevin Rudd, as prime minister in June this year in a bloodless coup that unfolded at lightning speed, the story was broken on Twitter.

It was one of the most dramatic political stories in Australian history -- the first time a sitting prime minister had been ousted by his own party during his first term in office.
Here's how Chris Uhlmann, political editor of ABC's 24 hour TV news channel, alerted his followers on June 23 that a leadership spill was likely:

Kevin Rudd's leadership is under siege tonight from some of the Labor Party's most influential factional warlords. Watch ABC News. NOW!less than a minute ago via webChris Uhlmann
CUhlmann

Chief political correspondent for multicultural and multilingual broadcaster SBS, Karen Middleton tweeted that Labor powerbrokers had entered Rudd's office, highlighting the stunning speed with which events were unfolding: "NO confirmation that Gillard is willing to move against Rudd. Some frontbenchers oblivious."

By the end of the night, prolific Canberra Press Gallery Twitter user Latika Bourke tweeted: "Text from Labor MP: 'it's done. There will be a new PM tomorrow."

Less than 12 hours later, behind closed doors in Canberra's Parliament House, Rudd's fate was sealed. And the news broke first on Twitter via News Limited journalist Samantha Maiden who tweeted this:

Labor Mp text: it's Julia no ballot #spillless than a minute ago via Echofonsamanthamaiden
samanthamaiden

That tweet was re-tweeted over 90 times and featured in her competitor's news copy as the real-time medium trumped the immediacy of traditional media outlets - even the original real-time medium, radio.

As Sky News Digital News Director John Bergin wrote in the Walkley Magazine in the aftermath of the coup, "The breakneck pace of the strike on Rudd's Prime Ministership was only intensified by the immediacy of the real-time web."

The second #spill, which was variously tagged #spill2 and #spillard (a reference to incoming Prime Minister Gillard, cemented the role of Twitter in political reporting and further demonstrated its impact on journalism. It also highlighted the potential power the platform as a facilitator of participatory democracy.

4. GetUp! Wins in High Court

The online activist media group GetUp! achieved a significant legal victory in the interests of Australian democracy in the midst of the August federal election, which was so tightly contested that it resulted in an historic hung parliament.

With a suite of pro-bono lawyers, GetUp! joined forces with the Human Rights Law Centre in a public democracy campaign that ended in a High Court (Australia's highest court of appeal) challenge to restrictive voter registration laws introduced by the long-lived conservative Howard government.

GetUp! successfully argued that the changes, which resulted in the early closure of voter enrollment on the day a poll was declared, effectively disenfranchised young people, the homelessness and Indigenous Australians.

The win legitimized the enrollment of over 100,000 Australians who registered to vote within seven days of the August election being called, meaning their votes counted on polling day and ultimately helped deliver a minority government to the Labor Party, who had welcomed the High Court ruling.

5. Groggate

There's now a fork in the Twitter road to journalistic transformation in Australia, and it was signposted by what Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Australian described as "the great blog war of 2011" -- a war that the newspaper started.

Eighteen months ago, I wrote [PDF] that journalists needed to be space invaders in the Twittersphere. What I meant by that was that they needed to be present and engaged. But some have seen the platform's rise and the leveling effect it brings to information distribution as a call to combat. They've adopted principles of trench-warfare, lobbing grenades at citizens who are encroaching into their territory.

This collision of a select group of tweeting professional journalists and their online critics came to a head in midst of the 2010 Australian election campaign thanks to a seminal post by the popular blogger Grog's Gamut. The pseudonymous writer stridently criticized what he described as the shallow, trivial campaign trail coverage by Canberra Press Gallery journalists and called for a greater focus on policy analysis in the coverage.

Some defensive journalists, threatened by the disruption of control represented by the traction of the Grog's Gamut critique, denied there was a problem with their coverage, while others reflected thoughtfully on the issues raised by the blogger.

Remarkably, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's managing director, Mark Scott, ultimately re-directed news coverage to emphasize policy in response to the public debate triggered by the Grog's Gamut blog.

The defensive members within the political reporting pack started a flame war with critics that continued on Twitter throughout the campaign and exploded with the retaliatory unmasking of Grog's Gamut as Dr. Greg Jericho, a federal public servant, by The Australian's James Massola. The newspaper claimed the unmasking was a matter of public interest. I argued at the time that it wasn't. The Twitterstorm that erupted in response to the unmasking was volatile.

The #Groggate saga, as I facetiously labeled it on Twitter, demonstrated both the cause of public distrust in journalism and the potential cost of eroding trust built on audience engagement. These costs were evident in the angry public backlash against journalists at The Australian, Massola's loss of Twitter followers in the immediate aftermath, and a further erosion of The Australian's editorial credibility.

It also highlighted the risks of disrespecting online community values, mores and ethics... along with some spectacular examples of professional arrogance by journalists at the center of the storm.

#Groggate was a case study in how to alienate online audiences and lose influence in the emerging new media spaces that are playing host to a vibrant Australian public political debate.

Disclosures: I am the Australian editorial director of Media140 and I invited James Massola to speak at the Canberra conference on September 23. I also invited Grog's Gamut to blog the event for Media140 with the promise that I would do my utmost to help preserve his pseudonymity during the conference. And I began the Twitter hashtag #Groggate as a facetious reference to the prominence The Australian gave the original story.

Julie Posetti is an award winning journalist and journalism academic who lectures in radio and television reporting at the University of Canberra, Australia. She's been a national political correspondent, a regional news editor, a TV documentary reporter and presenter on radio and television with the Australian national broadcaster, the ABC. Her academic research centers on talk radio, public broadcasting, political reporting and broadcast coverage of Muslims post-9/11. She blogs at J-Scribe and you can follow her on Twitter.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

October 01 2010

11:01

September 01 2010

20:01

Revamping J-Schools in Australia to Bring in 'Citizens Agenda'

news21 small.jpg

Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

As Australian democracy hangs in the balance, and with the outcome of the August 21 national election unlikely to be resolved for weeks, I'm considering the implications for journalism education -- and how we can invent new models for political reporting.

I am a former Australian Broadcasting Corporation political journalist who now teaches journalism in at the University of Canberra, which is situated just down the road from Australia's national parliament. Parliament House is home to the Canberra Press Gallery, the Holy Grail of Australian political journalism.

mediashift_edu stencil small.jpg

I made a successful attempt at innovating through the employment of Twitter as a student-reporting platform in a Canberra regional election in 2008. But it's time my school, which bills itself as Australia's "Capital University," embarked on a political journalism project that marries journalism students and media-active citizenry with industry partners, new media players and civic agencies.

Such an approach could enable the implementation of a citizen-informed editorial agenda; the engagement of a now essential social media strategy; and the enhancement of industry partner's political coverage, with the social objective of enabling participatory democracy. It should also provide an opportunity for academic research, so that the outcomes can be appropriately measured and academically published, as well as being reported for mass consumption through a variety of media.

Superficial Coverage

Problematic Australian political reporting, which became a theme of its own during the heavily stage-managed campaign, has been cited as one of the causes of this historic result: The first hung Parliament since World War II, and the upending of Australia's entrenched, highly combative, two-party democracy.

Journalists have been accused of producing superficial stories that were heavily influenced by polls and the major parties' political agendas, but light on critique and context. Citizen journalists bit back on blogs and Twitter, telling journalists to lift their game.

They complained about Press Gallery obsessions with predictions, personalities and political processes at the expense of policies. They also cited the impact of spin and campaign stage management on editorial agendas at the expense of independent, inquiring journalism as evidence of the need for changing practice. They asked why Australia's increasingly costly involvement in the war in Afghanistan wasn't probed during the campaign, and they wanted to know why both major parties virtually ignored climate change. This public critique of professional political journalism provoked defensive reactions from some reporters and triggered a vigorous Twitter debate on political journalism between the Fourth Estate and the New Estate. Witness the below exchange between a journalist and one of my colleagues at the university:

rehn tweet.jpg

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Four independent Members of Parliament, bent on upending the Oz political landscape, are likely to hold the Balance of Power in the new government -- and they've already taken aim at the Fourth Estate for its failures and apparent determination to maintain the status quo. In a National Press Club (NPC) address last week, one MP, Tony Windsor, challenged the journalists present, saying, "if you people are sick of the nonsense, then promote some of [our] concepts." Another, Rob Oakeshott, pointed to what he sees as the essence of the problem. "In focusing so heavily on the [Prime Minister], the cabinet and the polls ... we have lost the focus on the local member," he told the NPC. And with it, the local community.

A challenge

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen visited Australia in the middle of the election campaign to speak at a national conference of journalists. He was intrigued to find what he calls horse race journalism being practiced on the Australian election campaign trail. He revived his alternative model for political reporting driven by the "citizens agenda" during his highly publicized visit. He also proposed a new role of media outlet as "explainer" for the national public broadcaster, ABC.

U.S. political journalist John Nichols was another keynote speaker at the conference. His rousing speech invoked Finley Peter Dunne ("afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted") and pointed to the risk that spin increasingly amplifies the voices of the powerful and threatens journalists' capacity to speak truth to power. It made me feel like I'd attended a revival meeting at the Church of Journalism.

Rosen's practical challenge and Nichols' call to faith focused my mind on the role that journalism education might play in reforming political reporting in Australia. Key targets for an overhaul of political journalism in the Australian setting are:

  • The missing "citizens agenda" and active engagement with citizen journalists.
  • The absence of explanatory reporting and a preference for inflammatory tabloid-style political reporting.
  • The resort to the defense of objectivity in the face of political deceit.
  • The concentration of political reporting on the national capital and the parliament, and the insistence on focusing campaign coverage on the traveling shows staged by the leaders of the two main political parties, Labor and the Liberal National Coalition.

Barrukka Project

There has been only limited innovation in the sphere of community and industry-partnered journalism school projects around political journalism in Australia. The best of these was YouDecide2007 project, which sought to explore the role of social media and citizen journalism in partnership with the secondary Australian public broadcaster, the multilingual SBS. This early and very successful research-driven project did not, however, systematically involve journalism students, nor did it directly feed back into journalism training. In fact, most Australian journalism schools don't teach political journalism as a genre, and the training that does occur tends to simply model entrenched industry patterns.

Here's what I propose: A multi-partnered, citizen-activated journalism project based at the University of Canberra in the lead up to the next national election (which could happen swiftly unless a stable government can be established in the current cliff-hanger of a ballot!). The objective would be to take the focus off the agendas of the major parties and the Canberra Press Gallery and look beyond the walls of Parliament House to the experiences and views of the broader Canberra public.

Let's call this proposed project Barrukka, which means "talk" in an Aboriginal dialect. This name is in deference to the historically disenfranchised Indigenous Australians and it is a way of reflecting an underlying objective of connecting disempowered voices with the mainstream media and broader public.

Its four-fold purpose would be to:

  1. Produce citizen agenda-enhanced journalism in multiple forms, across multiple platforms (including social media like Twitter and Facebook) and aggregated on a UC-managed website.
  2. Produce political reporters equipped to challenge dominant media/political paradigms and produce creative content.
  3. Provide opportunities for citizen journalism and community engagement.
  4. Enhance mainstream media coverage of the election.

Senior student journalists, with the appropriate training and experience, would be embedded within the wider region's individual electorates (which range from inner city through farmland) for one week, researching and reporting the main issues identified by community organizations, local media and candidates. Thereafter, those electorates would become their election beats and their new contacts their main sources for coverage.

The student journalists would also be tasked to recruit local leaders for community-based discussion groups. These groups would identify and explore key issues of concern and then feed those ideas into editorial processes, while group leaders would also upload content (audio, video, images, etc.) directly to the main website and via interconnected social media platforms.

Partnerships With Industry, New Media & Government

Partnerships would provide funding and support for the project. For example, UC's journalism program could partner with the country's respected and community-engaged, multiple-platform public broadcaster, the ABC.

A second potential partnership could be formed between UC and one of the emerging activist media groups invested in social change like Get-Up, which successfully extended voting enrollment rights during the 2010 poll through legal challenges.

A third partnership could be pursued between UC's journalism program and the Australian Electoral Commission, the statutory body which oversees the election process and the registration of voters. One of the roles of the project would be to educate Australians about electoral processes, promote democratic engagement and stimulate voter registration.

Embedded Hyper-Local Reporting

Embedding student journalists within individual electorates and requiring them to build relationships with both the candidates and the communities, through a combination of online and traditional reporting strategies, would encourage coverage of issues which may challenge both the major parties' strategic objectives and the Press Gallery's narrow editorial agenda.

The student reporters would be forbidden from covering press-release generated "news" in the interests of countering spin, and they would be required to include two face-to-face interviews from non-official sources in every story filed. Their brief would be to report in an explanatory, rather than inflammatory, manner.

They would be required to file content across a range of platforms including the project website, UC journalism school radio and TV programs, Twitter, blogs and Facebook pages associated with the project. In addition, they would be expected to tweet and blog about the processes of reporting in the interests of reflexive practice. And they would be tasked to produce one podcast during the campaign about the key issues and policies concerning the assigned electorate for showcasing on the ABC's website.

Community Forums

The embedded student journalists would identify leaders for citizen-based deliberative forums to be held in each electorate, every week of the campaign. These forum leaders would be trained in basic technical and professional skills by the project. They would be tasked to collect and file content to the project website with group members commenting on key themes emerging from each forum. They would operate like self-reporting focus groups.

They would also be asked to identify one question they would like to put to each candidate in their electorate during community Q&A forums to be staged in the final week of the campaign.

These Q&A forums would be moderated and reported on by the student journalists involved in the project, with the possibility of content also being fed to ABC.

Research Processes/Outcomes

UC journalism academics, working with student research assistants from media studies and communication theory courses, would analyze the processes, outputs and impacts of the exercise and compare the coverage to the mainstream media's reporting of each electorate assigned. The results of this multi-faceted academic research (incorporating quantitative and qualitative methodologies) would then be published academically and in a range of popular, accessible media with a view to feeding outcomes back into the curriculum and future projects.

At this stage, Barrukka is just a simple on-paper-only attempt at enlivening and improving political journalism education in Australia. But I am about to return to the classroom after a long stint of maternity leave, with fresh eyes and renewed purpose -- and I will do my best to turn this idea into a reality. Meantime, watch on as Australian democracy undergoes renovation. You may be inspired too.

If you are interested in being involved as a partner or a sponsor in this proposed project, please email me.

Julie Posetti is an award winning journalist and journalism academic who lectures in radio and television reporting at the University of Canberra, Australia. She's been a national political correspondent, a regional news editor, a TV documentary reporter and presenter on radio and television with the Australian national broadcaster, the ABC. Her academic research centers on talk radio, public broadcasting, political reporting and broadcast coverage of Muslims post-9/11. She blogs at J-Scribe and you can follow her on Twitter.

news21 small.jpg

Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

August 18 2010

16:03

How Training Citizen Journalists Made a Difference

I recently attended the Walkley Media Conference in Sydney, Australia. It is run by the Walkley Foundation, a very interesting outfit that I'm learning more and more about. The Foundation aims to encourage professional and ethical journalism in Australia, and they run the country's main media awards. They also publish the the Walkley Magazine every two months, which anyone interested in journalism should read. The conference had a lot of great speakers and led off with Peter Fray, the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, who spoke about Who moved my pyramid?.

Speakers from the U.S. included John Nichols, Washington correspondent of The Nation, and the author of some of the best books on U.S. journalism; Jay Rosen, a leading thinker about public and participatory journalism from New York University, was also on the conference bill.

It has been interesting to hear that some folk in Australia are launching a site that's based on the Knight Foundation-funded Spot.us' model (and code). It's great to see Knight-funded innovation diffusing all over the place.

I spoke about our Knight-funded Iindaba Ziyafika project, but also about broader issues dealing with media, journalism, citizen journalism and digital business models in Africa. (It was a panel, so there were questions that led in lots of directions!). I looked in particular at citizen journalism as a concept, and shared something of what we're trying to achieve. Below is the text that I prepared in advance of the panel, and which was first published in the conference issue of Walkley Magazine.

Remarks on Citizen Journalism

Can democracy work and good government happen without local media?"

The two are not the same thing of course. Authoritarian governments can get the trains to run on time, and tip-top democracies can still have badly run departments, councils or even whole ministries at a national level. A double whammy is to have both low levels of democratic participation (even though people might vote once every five years), and poor government services. In many parts of South Africa, we have both whammies. Does and can local media, or "community" media, make a difference? And if it does, how does it do that?

Our general experience in South Africa is that community media does make some difference, if only to make graft, corruption and inefficiency slightly more likely to be exposed and, we like to think, therefore slightly less likely to occur. Studies that provide hard evidence for this are thin on the ground, but there are some, and they do suggest reasons for optimism in this regard.

A more specific example, of Grahamstown, our fairly representative of the rest of South Africa city of 100,000 people, reinforces this "gut feel" that good local journalism can play both watchdog and more proactive, get-people-involved roles. In Grahamstown, we enjoy a twice-a-week community newspaper that has been publishing for 140 year, Grocott's Mail. Anecdotally at least, many believe the reasonable performance of our local council and police -- when compared on national comparative charts that are published periodically by government agencies -- might have something to do with the greater volume of decent press coverage from Grocott's Mail.

But how can local media achieve greater volumes of credible journalism that is good enough to make a difference? To be commercially viable, or even to stay open, most community papers (and of course even most commercial papers) run on razor thin staff complements. It is hard to get one reporter to a council meeting, let alone cover all the sub-committees, for example.

The Role of Citizen Journalism

That's where citizen journalism can possibly play a huge role. With Iindaba Ziyafika ("the news is coming") our approach to citizen journalism is, firstly, to get clear about what we mean. The term "citizen journalism" has always been controversial because of the slippage between the meanings often intended by the users of co-joined term, and the meanings usually ascribed to both constituent words when used on their own. We take the view that journalism, citizen or otherwise, has to adhere to some of the norms of a rather "liberal" conventions of short-form news journalism, which are fairly standard, if aspirational at the edges, in most democracies.

This means that citizen journalists have learned that stories need to be "told" (so a short narrative needs to be constructed), and that the story needs to give as full a picture as possible about the subject matter, and still be as "fair" and "balanced" as it can be.
Fullness, or at least adequate context, comes from a focus on the basics of the "who, what, where, when, how" classic news formulation, and fairness stems, in part, from openness of motive (being clear about why you, the writer, or the paper, or both, are running the story), balance (not just covering the bad stuff) multiple sourcing ("one source is no source" is one of our mantras) and affording a clear right of reply.

None of these are easy to do, or to inculcate, but getting it mostly right means you have a much better chance of creating the kind of stories that readers are more likely to trust and act on.

Achieving this is not straightforward or easy. In our experience, papers that want to do this need to provide a fair amount of training and, harder still, need to seed something of a "community of practice." (This concept, coined by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, suggests that ongoing learning takes place best in groups where new knowledge and approaches can be easily shared, and where the sense of belonging to a group is a critical spur to a sense of identity, the development of which is the key to mastery in any profession).

Training Citizen Journalists

Our approach revolves around offering about 20 hours of training over six week, which is carefully sequenced. Our training focuses first on story selection -- what is important, what is happening, what can be changed.

Then we spend a lot of time on finding sources and interviewing skills. Many trainees are amazed that their people who's job it is to talk to the media, and that they will talk to our citizen journalists, especially if they develop some credibility with those sources.

Then we talk and explore how to achieve balance and fairness, but also going just that bit further than "standard," "objective" commercial media pieces, to working out ways to create more "empowering" and "solution orientated" stories. We want our writers to not just write about what is wrong, but to ask and explore how is it to be fixed. Better still, follow up, and follow up some more, something many papers have become poor at, until something happens!

Post training, we now also provide a dedicated citizen journalism editor and we encourage the most promising citizen journalists from each course (about 30 people complete each course, which are run over six weeks) to attend diary meetings. We've also created our own citizen journalism diary meetings. And, we pay for published articles and photos. It is a very modest amount, R100 for a published article, but in a town where more than one in two people are unemployed (and youth under 30, unemployment is two out of three), this can and is becoming a useful way to get some additional income.

Of course, a lot of people -- when hearing about our approaches -- throw their hands up and say, "Ok, wait a second, your so-called citizen journalists are trained, there is post training mentoring, their copy is edited and fact checked, stories are paid for, and you even encourage them to join diary meetings with all the pros -- how is this not just journalism en masse, rather than citizen journalism?"

Holistic Approach Works

And if they are producing good stories, that make some difference, how is this not just a
way of generating copy cheaper, i.e. how is this not exploitative? (And when the Knight Foundation grant is gone, how could you, or any other grantless paper, afford to give volunteers 20 hours of training, payment for stories and photos, and a sense of belonging to a group of people with an emerging quasi-professional identity. Yes, we give our citizen journalists press cards!)

These are all good questions, but these citizen journalists remain dedicated and committed, some now for more than a year, because they know how to craft stories that do "get things done" -- most often by shaming local officials into doing their jobs better, or getting local police to stop using the disabled parking bays when doing their grocery shopping! -- and they get some collegiality and conviviality that comes from a work like experience. Many are unemployed, but some have jobs and want to make a difference. In each group about a fifth - about four or five people per training group -- really get into it. (And we working hard to figure out more about why that is, and how to up these numbers).

But, taken overall, this set of approaches has produced about 70 published stories we would not otherwise have had in past six months. Our first trainings in 2009 produced few viable stories and little longevity of interest. It has only been when we have created a more holistic experience, honed in on training and post training "space" that builds confidence and starts creating some sense of identify as citizen journalists, that we're starting to see more regular contributions and, even more gratifying, some great journalism.

Its early days, but "watch this space" -- it might yet be filled with citizen journalism some day.

(For examples of some of the citizen journalism produced by the Iindaba Ziyafika project, see http://www.grocotts.co.za/category/section/mymakana and other sections of Grocott's Mail online)

16:03

How Training Citizen Journalists Made a Difference

I recently attended the Walkley Media Conference in Sydney, Australia. It is run by the Walkley Foundation, a very interesting outfit that I'm learning more and more about. The Foundation aims to encourage professional and ethical journalism in Australia, and they run the country's main media awards. They also publish the the Walkley Magazine every two months, which anyone interested in journalism should read. The conference had a lot of great speakers and led off with Peter Fray, the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, who spoke about Who moved my pyramid?.

Speakers from the U.S. included John Nichols, Washington correspondent of The Nation, and the author of some of the best books on U.S. journalism; Jay Rosen, a leading thinker about public and participatory journalism from New York University, was also on the conference bill.

It has been interesting to hear that some folk in Australia are launching a site that's based on the Knight Foundation-funded Spot.us' model (and code). It's great to see Knight-funded innovation diffusing all over the place.

I spoke about our Knight-funded Iindaba Ziyafika project, but also about broader issues dealing with media, journalism, citizen journalism and digital business models in Africa. (It was a panel, so there were questions that led in lots of directions!). I looked in particular at citizen journalism as a concept, and shared something of what we're trying to achieve. Below is the text that I prepared in advance of the panel, and which was first published in the conference issue of Walkley Magazine.

Remarks on Citizen Journalism

Can democracy work and good government happen without local media?"

The two are not the same thing of course. Authoritarian governments can get the trains to run on time, and tip-top democracies can still have badly run departments, councils or even whole ministries at a national level. A double whammy is to have both low levels of democratic participation (even though people might vote once every five years), and poor government services. In many parts of South Africa, we have both whammies. Does and can local media, or "community" media, make a difference? And if it does, how does it do that?

Our general experience in South Africa is that community media does make some difference, if only to make graft, corruption and inefficiency slightly more likely to be exposed and, we like to think, therefore slightly less likely to occur. Studies that provide hard evidence for this are thin on the ground, but there are some, and they do suggest reasons for optimism in this regard.

A more specific example, of Grahamstown, our fairly representative of the rest of South Africa city of 100,000 people, reinforces this "gut feel" that good local journalism can play both watchdog and more proactive, get-people-involved roles. In Grahamstown, we enjoy a twice-a-week community newspaper that has been publishing for 140 year, Grocott's Mail. Anecdotally at least, many believe the reasonable performance of our local council and police -- when compared on national comparative charts that are published periodically by government agencies -- might have something to do with the greater volume of decent press coverage from Grocott's Mail.

But how can local media achieve greater volumes of credible journalism that is good enough to make a difference? To be commercially viable, or even to stay open, most community papers (and of course even most commercial papers) run on razor thin staff complements. It is hard to get one reporter to a council meeting, let alone cover all the sub-committees, for example.

The Role of Citizen Journalism

That's where citizen journalism can possibly play a huge role. With Iindaba Ziyafika ("the news is coming") our approach to citizen journalism is, firstly, to get clear about what we mean. The term "citizen journalism" has always been controversial because of the slippage between the meanings often intended by the users of co-joined term, and the meanings usually ascribed to both constituent words when used on their own. We take the view that journalism, citizen or otherwise, has to adhere to some of the norms of a rather "liberal" conventions of short-form news journalism, which are fairly standard, if aspirational at the edges, in most democracies.

This means that citizen journalists have learned that stories need to be "told" (so a short narrative needs to be constructed), and that the story needs to give as full a picture as possible about the subject matter, and still be as "fair" and "balanced" as it can be.
Fullness, or at least adequate context, comes from a focus on the basics of the "who, what, where, when, how" classic news formulation, and fairness stems, in part, from openness of motive (being clear about why you, the writer, or the paper, or both, are running the story), balance (not just covering the bad stuff) multiple sourcing ("one source is no source" is one of our mantras) and affording a clear right of reply.

None of these are easy to do, or to inculcate, but getting it mostly right means you have a much better chance of creating the kind of stories that readers are more likely to trust and act on.

Achieving this is not straightforward or easy. In our experience, papers that want to do this need to provide a fair amount of training and, harder still, need to seed something of a "community of practice." (This concept, coined by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, suggests that ongoing learning takes place best in groups where new knowledge and approaches can be easily shared, and where the sense of belonging to a group is a critical spur to a sense of identity, the development of which is the key to mastery in any profession).

Training Citizen Journalists

Our approach revolves around offering about 20 hours of training over six week, which is carefully sequenced. Our training focuses first on story selection -- what is important, what is happening, what can be changed.

Then we spend a lot of time on finding sources and interviewing skills. Many trainees are amazed that their people who's job it is to talk to the media, and that they will talk to our citizen journalists, especially if they develop some credibility with those sources.

Then we talk and explore how to achieve balance and fairness, but also going just that bit further than "standard," "objective" commercial media pieces, to working out ways to create more "empowering" and "solution orientated" stories. We want our writers to not just write about what is wrong, but to ask and explore how is it to be fixed. Better still, follow up, and follow up some more, something many papers have become poor at, until something happens!

Post training, we now also provide a dedicated citizen journalism editor and we encourage the most promising citizen journalists from each course (about 30 people complete each course, which are run over six weeks) to attend diary meetings. We've also created our own citizen journalism diary meetings. And, we pay for published articles and photos. It is a very modest amount, R100 for a published article, but in a town where more than one in two people are unemployed (and youth under 30, unemployment is two out of three), this can and is becoming a useful way to get some additional income.

Of course, a lot of people -- when hearing about our approaches -- throw their hands up and say, "Ok, wait a second, your so-called citizen journalists are trained, there is post training mentoring, their copy is edited and fact checked, stories are paid for, and you even encourage them to join diary meetings with all the pros -- how is this not just journalism en masse, rather than citizen journalism?"

Holistic Approach Works

And if they are producing good stories, that make some difference, how is this not just a
way of generating copy cheaper, i.e. how is this not exploitative? (And when the Knight Foundation grant is gone, how could you, or any other grantless paper, afford to give volunteers 20 hours of training, payment for stories and photos, and a sense of belonging to a group of people with an emerging quasi-professional identity. Yes, we give our citizen journalists press cards!)

These are all good questions, but these citizen journalists remain dedicated and committed, some now for more than a year, because they know how to craft stories that do "get things done" -- most often by shaming local officials into doing their jobs better, or getting local police to stop using the disabled parking bays when doing their grocery shopping! -- and they get some collegiality and conviviality that comes from a work like experience. Many are unemployed, but some have jobs and want to make a difference. In each group about a fifth - about four or five people per training group -- really get into it. (And we working hard to figure out more about why that is, and how to up these numbers).

But, taken overall, this set of approaches has produced about 70 published stories we would not otherwise have had in past six months. Our first trainings in 2009 produced few viable stories and little longevity of interest. It has only been when we have created a more holistic experience, honed in on training and post training "space" that builds confidence and starts creating some sense of identify as citizen journalists, that we're starting to see more regular contributions and, even more gratifying, some great journalism.

Its early days, but "watch this space" -- it might yet be filled with citizen journalism some day.

(For examples of some of the citizen journalism produced by the Iindaba Ziyafika project, see http://www.grocotts.co.za/category/section/mymakana and other sections of Grocott's Mail online)

August 03 2010

15:18

NetTuesday Notes in Words and Pictures: A Guest Blog Post from Melbourne Organizer Jasmin Tragas

Jasmin HeadshotToday we hosted our second NetTuesday event in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and decided to do things a little differently. I spread some large sheets of scrap paper out on the table and bunched together some textas and crayons in a jar. The atmosphere was informal, and everyone was encouraged to participate whilst sipping lattes and munching on muffins, although I ended up visually facilitating the session (people are afraid that they can't draw!) based on the discussion. The idea was to capture some ideas, experiences and general conversation about ways people are making a difference.

read more

July 08 2010

10:36

ABC News advertises new 24-hour news channel for Australia

ABC news has released a video to advertise their impending 24-hour news channel, ABC 24, in Australia.

According to a report by mUmbrella.com.au, the national broadcaster is keeping quiet about the launch date of the all day news channel, although rumours include 14 July as a potential deadline.

The trailer is being played on ABC’s HD channel, which will eventually host News 24, aiming to deliver “ABC news and current affairs around the clock, so it suits the viewer’s schedule, not ours.”

ABC News 24 claims it will offer news coverage from across 12 foreign bureaus and 60 regional newsrooms.

Full post at this link…Similar Posts:



June 21 2010

20:03

Is Aussie Journalism Education Lagging in Teaching Online Skills?

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Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at learn.news21.com.

I graduated last year with a journalism degree from Curtin University of Technology in Bentley, Western Australia. As with many journalism programs, the first year was an introduction to print and broadcast. It wasn't until the latter half of second year that the word "online" was used. That's too late in my book.

The course was very hands-on, which is what you want from a journalism degree. We had our own university newspaper and a studio for shooting news reports that could end up on television. With the newspaper, we learned a bit about InDesign and how to lay out a simple news page. This has no doubt proved invaluable to those graduates who left university to be a newspaper reporter.

Personally, I enrolled in a journalism course because I wanted to get into magazines or newspaper column writing -- less hard news, more conversational. But the course was not at all conducive to this. The only chance I had to write somewhat creatively was when we wrote feature articles during one of the 22 classes I took during my degree. I believe this also left us at a disadvantage for learning to write for the web.

Not Trained For Online

Had we been taught how to write short, snappy pieces with a bit of wit, we'd have had a much better chance at securing positions at online outlets, the now-preferred medium in Perth, where I live. Many of us with aspirations to write rather than work in broadcast left university and soon discovered that the three magazines based in Perth were fully staffed and offered only unpaid work experience and unpaid writing opportunities. On top of that, the only local newspaper positions were suited to those with a hard news style of writing.

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During my studies, the possibility of working for online outlets was never even brought up. Instead, students were vaguely told something along the lines of, "Media is changing and you'll need to know how to shoot and edit videos, write scripts and stories, and layout a page." What about learning how to utilize social media to find sources to interview? Or learning to write for online? We also could have used a few hints as to the online publications that may want to hire us, how to lay out an online page, or how to edit photos for online use. Looking back, many things were glossed over that really shouldn't have been.

I wish more emphasis had been put on all types of media. There was definitely room for it in terms of the course schedule. We did one class where we looked at the Asian online media (mostly China's), but the relevance of that to Australian's own online news community was not driven home.

In a world where anyone can start a blog and call themselves a journalist, it's important for those of us who have journalism degrees to feel confident with online writing and video-editing for online. While it's understandable that technology is always advancing and it's also expensive to upgrade university facilities with the latest tools, a few manuals or brief tutorials on new media would have been helpful.

Self-Directed Learning

Thankfully, those of us who did some work experience throughout our degree realized that we'd need to teach ourselves how to write for online if we wanted to make a living off what we loved to do. Most of us graduates who focused on print and have not found full-time employment have started blogs to keep us occupied while freelancing. Others have taken entry-level jobs at newspapers as a first step toward their dream of becoming columnists.

In the future, I think universities need to bring in more industry insiders from outside their walls to talk to students. The most valuable class experiences came when foreign correspondents, news producers and online news editors came into our class to tell us about their career journey. These were invaluable because we could mentally make lists of what we needed to learn in order to successfully make it as a journalist.

Since graduating, I am still in contact with one of my lecturers who informed me a few months ago that the university is developing an online site for its journalism students. But whether this is for them to practice writing for online media or simply to upload PDFs of the popular newspaper is still not clear...

Tammi Ireland, 20, is a freelance journalist in Western Australia and editor of beauty website Coveted Canvas. Since graduating from Curtin University of Technology with a journalism degree in November 2009, she has written for various publications including Flourish magazine, SunsetMag.com.au and wangle.com.au. Tammi loves travel, writing and fashion.

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Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at learn.news21.com.

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June 14 2010

16:18

#tomwantsajob – Tom gets a job

Last month Journalism.co.uk shared the story of Australian journalism student Tom Cowie, who had created a social media campaign to boost and document his search for that elusive first job in the industry.

He told Journalism.co.uk:

In the past few years, journalism students have been told that now they need a published portfolio to get noticed, which is often built through unpaid work. I think we have gone past that now. The industry is becoming increasingly reliant on social media and students need to be able to boast a personal brand, whether that be through Twitter, Facebook or blogging. Journalists need to be able to market and promote their own work. While this philosophy may seem like it has foundations in PR, I don’t think today’s journalism students have a choice if they want to get employed. The onus is on us to build audiences and make sure the right people are reading.

Well, 38 days after starting his site, hashtag and search, he’s landed a job as a junior reporter with Australian news and commentary site Crikey. Congratulations Tom.

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May 06 2010

14:13

Australian newspaper prevents publication of police leak report

The Murdoch-owned newspaper, the Australian, last month secured a order to prevent the publication of a report about its police scoop in summer 2009.

As we’ve previously reported on this blog, on 4 August 2009 Australian police arrested four people in terror raids – a planned operation reported exclusively by the Australian newspaper, part of the News Ltd group. But the police claimed copies of the newspaper were available in Melbourne before the operation had taken place, citing that an “unacceptable risk”.

It was an enviable scoop and won journalist Cameron Stewart the ‘Gold Quill’ in the Melbourne Press Club awards. But the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the and the The Victorian Office of Police Integrity (OPI) produced a report, examining the source of the leak.

The Australian newspaper subsequently acquired a Federal Court order prohibiting publication of the report. The OPI then sought to overturn the order. But on 23 April, the Australian won the right to keep the document private. Crikey.com.au journalist Margaret Simons has been reporting – and tweeting – the case.

Simons last reported:

Justice Michelle Gordon said that continued suppression of the Victorian Office of Police Integrity’s report on the matter is necessary because The Australian is arguing that the whole investigation was invalid, and the evidence gathered “tainted”.

But the case isn’t completely over yet. Simons continued:

Justice Gordon’s decision means that it will be at least another three weeks, and probably much longer, before we know the full story of what occurred between Stewart, his source and the OPI. News Ltd has made it clear it will appeal against any judgement that would allow the OPI report to be released.

Last week, I asked Margaret Simons, who is a freelancer for Crikey – an independent online news and comment site – about her own views of this complicated case. She says she doesn’t know why the Australian is so keen to suppress the document.

Does Simons think the report should be released? “Without knowing all the facts, it is hard to say. The Australian claims the OPI’s investigation was very flawed. Maybe so. The OPI has a chequered record.

“There is an irony, though, in The Australian’s leading role in the Right to Know Coalition, pressing governments for more openness, and its contesting of suppression orders in other matters … and its active suppression in this case.

“It would be nice to think that the rights and wrongs of this matter could be fought out in open. However, without knowing all the facts of what is contained in the report, it is genuinely hard to judge and I do not have a strong point of view at present.

Simons says that Crikey’s editorial position is not so much a matter of opinion, but an attempt to raise awareness. “[I]n a country where the print media is dominated by just two publishers, with News Ltd being overwhelmingly dominant, there is a particular role for an independent outlet such as ours in covering the media’s own story,” she said.

Neither News Ltd or Fairfax – Australia’s other main newspaper publisher – are giving this case “the weight it deserves,” she said. “We are doing our best. Keep in mind that our audience includes most of the country’s journalists!”

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April 15 2010

08:50

April 13 2010

18:46

How #Spill Effect Brought Color, Collaboration to Media Tweets

Twitter distinguished itself as an important new platform for breaking political news in Australia during the Great #Spill of 2009. This is the second installment in a MediaShift series on the "#spill effect." (You can read the first part here.) It draws on a case study of the event and includes online interviews with eight tweeting journalists who are prominent members of the Canberra Press Gallery.

"#Spill" was the hashtag used to amalgamate Twitter coverage of the scalping of federal conservative leader Malcolm Turnbull, and the elevation of Tony Abbott to the leadership of Australia's opposition party, the Liberal-National Coalition. But behind the frenzied tweeting of the spectacular unraveling of the Turnbull leadership was another story -- a story about the coverage itself, which demonstrated the transformative effect this micro-blogging platform is having on Australian political journalism. It's a story that made news again last week when Malcolm Turnbull announced his resignation from politics, via Twitter, of course.

How Twitter Impacts Australian Reporting

I've concluded that Twitter is having a transformative effect on Australian political reporting -- but not all Press Gallery journalists agree. While acknowledging the emergence of journalistic audience engagement via Twitter, Samantha Maiden, the chief online political correspondent for Rupert Murdoch's The Australian, described it as just another reporting platform. She downplayed the impact of the #spill story on political reporting.

"Ultimately, Twitter is just a means...of delivering the news. In that sense it is silly to suggest [the #spill] reinvented the wheel in some way," she said.


Nevertheless, Latika Bourke, a Press Gallery correspondent for national commercial radio, who watched her Twitter followers double during the week-long story (to more than 2,000), said Twitter's role in the coverage proved it's here to stay as a journalistic tool.

"For many of us, Twitter was the aside, or extra-curricular part of our job; but now there will be the expectation that when the big stories are on, we'll be there, tweeting as a priority," Bourke said.

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Sky TV's David Speers -- who demonstrated the central role of Twitter in the coverage of the story by tweeting live to air in the middle of an interview and using his smartphone to read the tweet of a competitor mid-commentary -- said Twitter adds to the value of coverage and the reporting experience, rather than detracting from them.

"Obviously speeches, debates and essays will always be important," he said. "And they will always be there. Twitter isn't taking anything away from traditional political discourse. It's adding something new. And it's fun."

The Need for Speed & Color

Speed was the most commonly described effect of Twitter on the political reporting process. It even out-paced frenetic radio news reporters. "I thought working in radio [that] I knew what 'instant' meant, but that's been completely redefined now that I've covered the spill via Twitter," Bourke observed.

The Age's political correspondent, Mischa Schubert, agreed that Twitter-speed was a factor in the #spill coverage.

"It accelerated the pace of coverage, that's for sure," she said. "Where once a lot of details would have been hoarded for the next day's newspapers, color that wouldn't hold was broadcast instantly in tweets and on [media organizations'] websites."

The benefits of value-adding tweets with "color" was also highlighted by others. "If you took a straw poll on which journalists were the most popular -- and this was debated by Twitter users -- journalists breaking news with a mix of color and telling observation were always in the top three," Maiden said. "Users aren't that interested in someone who just tweets a couple of lines from a doorstop or the Senate debates."

But some political news reporters are "coloring" outside the lines on Twitter. Australian Associated Press's (AAP) Sandra O'Malley said opinion and commentary are seeping into news reporters' tweets.

sandra.jpg"There was...much more opining on the political players than during 'normal,' straight reporting," O'Malley said of the #spill coverage. She highlighted the impact of the clash of the personal and the professional in the space, and the challenge it poses to traditional journalistic values like objectivity, as I've previously reported.

However, Lyndal Curtis, the chief political correspondent of ABC Radio's current affairs programs, said the act of tweeting political news hasn't altered her reporting habits, such as an unbending commitment to fact-checking; but she's pleased to have "another audience to speak to," and she acknowledges the humanizing effect of tweeting.

"It allows me some more latitude to be a person, and an outlet for some humor," she said. The amusement value of Twitter -- and Press Gallery journalists' tendency to merge satire and reportage in the interests of entertaining one another and their new, individual audiences -- was mentioned by several of the interviewees.

The need for even greater multi-tasking by journalists in the age of the real-time web was also noted.

"One observation that amazed me was watching a few people -- @sarahwiley8 @latikambourke @bennpackham -- standing at doorstops with their digital recorder in one hand and single-handedly tweeting with the other!" O'Malley said.

A number of the journalists commented on the fact that Twitter, with its live reporting capacity and its aggregated news feeds, has enabled them to be less tethered to their desks. They can roam to gather information face-to-face and more accurately assess atmospherics, all while staying informed.

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This, in turn, encouraged the journalists to practice what I've observed elsewhere is the tendency to lay bare reporting the process on Twitter by discussing journalistic strategies, dilemmas and difficulties. In the case of the #spill, this was demonstrated by the journalists complaining about efforts to keep them away from the Coalition Party Room, where Malcolm Turnbull's fate was ultimately sealed.

Twitter Collegiality

One of the strongest themes to emerge from my survey of the eight tweeting Press Gallery reporters who covered #spill was a deepening of relationships between journalists from different media organizations. They spoke of the increased camaraderie and collegiality fostered through the sharing of skills and information.

"We all shared information, respected each other's scoops by re-tweeting them, and [as a result] the relationships and trust between journalists deepened," Bourke said.

crabb.jpgSenior Press Gallery journalist Annabel Crabb agreed, noting that, "It brings competitors closer together, in that we read each other's updates. I certainly was glued to @samanthamaiden, @latikambourke and @David_Speers as well as talking to my own colleagues."

Instead of having to finagle details of their competitors' reporting progress and framing of the story, they just watched their tweet streams. This was particularly beneficial to junior Press Gallery reporters like Bourke, who said she was able to break news of the leadership ballots' likely outcome as a direct result of following the very connected Speers' Twitter feed.

"It was like suddenly having all the pieces to a puzzle that I only needed to put together, instead of having just a few, and trying to paint in the blanks," she said.

Speers was unconcerned by this development.

"Journalists usually save any information they have for the stories they're writing," he said. "But on Twitter, political journalists share what they know. I think this is mostly driven by the competitive urge of journalists to be the first to break news, even if it's only a minor development."

Collaborative Storytelling

This collaborative storytelling between journalists from competing outlets is one of the most significant changes in political reporting that has come as a result of Twitter. As Crabb said:

The fracturing media market means that we now assume our readers are shopping around. I think the healthy aspect of this -- and it's a great outcome for consumers -- is that journalists are dropping the traditional and childish approach of pretending that their competitors do not exist -- ignoring a rival's scoop, and so on. I will happily retweet a competitor's update if I think my readers will find it interesting. I think this is an emerging and refreshing trend.

But, as much as Twitter is breaking down old modes of competitiveness in political reporting, it's also fostering a new, sharper edged form of competition for news-breaking.

"Already, newspapers are racing to bring online updates to their websites ahead of their competitors, but Twitter brings a second-by-second competitiveness that is even more challenging," Crabb said.

And this resulted in media outlets like the ABC running an aggregated tweet-stream (via Twitter lists) of Press Gallery journalists' Twitter feeds, including those from rival outlets, on the ABC website. This caused concern within some sections of the ABC News and Current Affairs department, because journalists from competing networks are not bound by the same editorial policies and standards as ABC reporters. There was a feeling that this aggregation threatened the independence and credibility of ABC News' website content. Legal risks associated with carrying competitors' unchecked and unfiltered tweets were also raised.

Consequences of Kicking Down Walls

There's a potentially significant downside to what Crikey's Bernard Keane identified as Twitter's "flattening effect" for commercial media. He fears it will further undermine traditional media business models.

"What's the point of a newspaper site, or even Sky News, if you can get a direct feed virtually from inside the party room?" he said. "It's true that quality political coverage remains one of the few competitive advantages old media has over new media."

In other words, political reporting may be one of the niche beats that is able to justify pay wall protection -- but the unrestrained sharing of information across media stable walls by competing journalists via Twitter may make that unsustainable.

This was also an issue raised by Lyndal Curtis, ABC Radio's chief political correspondent. "I think it's my responsibility to write and file first for the organization that pays me ... and that audience," she said. "So I didn't put anything up of an exclusive scoop nature on Twitter that I hadn't already filed."

But Speers disagrees.

"It's not like journalists are simply giving away their work," he said. "Their tweets often point to a story they've just posted on a website or broadcast on radio or TV. So it can still direct traffic to the outlet paying their salary."

It's also true that, in the social media age where the real-time web reigns supreme and mashing up information from myriad sources seems like an irreversible trend, news organizations will have to come to terms with this sort of content aggregation and amalgamation in a way which best serves their audiences and their bottom lines.

Backlash from the AAP

In fact, in the aftermath of the publication of first installment of this series on MediaShift, Sandra O'Malley's employer, AAP, issued an edict requiring Press Gallery reporters to get permission prior to tweeting about their work -- even from their personal Twitter accounts. The fear was the wire service's journalistic brand and competitive edge would be eroded by reporters' real-time tweeting and cross-stable collaboration.

The AAP crackdown foreshadows the likely development of anachronistic Reuters-style guidelines for tweeting reporters. Censoring journalists' tweets when they've been at it for many months smacks of trying to re-stable a horse that's bolted, and also raises questions about the rights of journalists to free speech. (The subject of a future post.)

However, while some Press Gallery journalists' coverage of the Twitter effect on political reporting highlights residual pockets of change-resistance, proof of its impact came this week in the form of one of the country's most celebrated political reporters, the 9 Network's Laurie Oakes. He became an active tweeter and filed an insightful mainstream TV news report on the "Twitterization" of Australian politics.

In the third and final installment of this MediaShift series, I'll examine the role of citizen tweeters, participatory democracy and audience engagement in coverage of the #spill, along with the political reporters' management of the issues of accuracy and verification, which are so often seen as downsides of Twitter journalism.

More Reading

The #Spill Effect - Twitter Hashtag Upends Australian Political Journalism

Julie Posetti is an award winning journalist and journalism academic who lectures in radio and television reporting at the University of Canberra, Australia. She's been a national political correspondent, a regional news editor, a TV documentary reporter and presenter on radio and television with the Australian national broadcaster, the ABC. Her academic research centers on talk radio, public broadcasting, political reporting and broadcast coverage of Muslims post-9/11. She blogs at J-Scribe and you can follow her on Twitter.

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