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October 06 2011

11:22

Charlie Beckett: ‘Go forth, connect and innovate’

Charlie Beckett, founding director of POLIS, opened news:rewired – connected journalism with the keynote speech. He spoke with enthusiasm about events like today’s and moved on to look at what has gone in the last five years and what, in his opinion, is yet to come.

He said how his book, SuperMedia, released in 2008 and at the time aspirational, is now a reality. Beckett joked how the Guardian’s announcement of its digital first strategy seems “like the Vatican announcing the Pope was Catholic”, as he feels it is something the news organisation has been doing for years.

Beckett also commented how we are in an age of uncertainty, not just with journalism but also in terms of the environment we operate in. However, this, Beckett says, makes it an exciting time to be a journalist and make sense of the chaotic world, saying “journalists should be helping to filter, connect and understand”.

But the future is not going to be easy, Beckett warned. Journalists need a whole new set of skills. And they need the payment processes to enable this to become a reality, he explained.

Beckett said journalists should care about the craft as much in this digital age as before the advent of the internet, and urged those at news:rewired to “go forth, connect and innovate”.

Hear from Beckett in this SoundCloud summary of his address.

Charlie Beckett, founder of POLIS, summarises his key messages for journalists by journalismnews

10:54

LIVE: Keynote with Charlie Beckett

Pete Clifton, executive producer of MSN Pete Clifton welcomes news:rewired delegates and speakers.

Charlie Beckett (pictured), founding director of POLIS delivers the news:rewired – connected journalism keynote speech.

June 05 2011

11:04

UK - Stella Creasy MP using social media for political campaigning

Charlie Beckett :: We live in an age where the citizen feels increasingly sceptical about and disconnected from those people who run our lives. Paradoxically, this is also an era when the communicative power of new media technologies mean that the potential for interaction between voter and politicians has never been greater.

Stella Creasy MP is a committed campaigner for her party and specific progressive causes. Most recently she has taken on loan sharks. ... She believes that the nature of politics in Britain must change and that new communication channels can help in that process – especially at a local level.

In this new POLIS report, Stella Creasy MP attempts to square that circle.

Continue to read Charlie Beckett, www.charliebeckett.org

December 07 2010

08:47

One ambassador’s embarrassment is a tragedy, 15,000 civilian deaths is a statistic

Few things illustrate the challenges facing journalism in the age of ‘Big Data’ better than Cable Gate – and specifically, how you engage people with stories that involve large sets of data.

The Cable Gate leaks have been of a different order to the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. Not in number (there were 90,000 documents in the Afghanistan war logs and over 390,000 in the Iraq logs; the Cable Gate documents number around 250,000) – but in subject matter.

Why is it that the 15,000 extra civilian deaths estimated to have been revealed by the Iraq war logs did not move the US authorities to shut down Wikileaks’ hosting and PayPal accounts? Why did it not dominate the news agenda in quite the same way?

Tragedy or statistic?

Generally misattributed to Stalin, the quote “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic” illustrates the problem particularly well: when you move beyond scales we can deal with on a human level, you struggle to engage people in the issue you are covering.

Research suggests this is a problem that not only affects journalism, but justice as well. In October Ben Goldacre wrote about a study that suggested “People who harm larger numbers of people get significantly lower punitive damages than people who harm a smaller number. Courts punish people less harshly when they harm more people.”

“Out of a maximum sentence of 10 years, people who read the three-victim story recommended an average prison term one year longer than the 30-victim readers. Another study, in which a food processing company knowingly poisoned customers to avoid bankruptcy, gave similar results.”

Salience

This is where journalists play a particularly important role. Kevin Marsh, writing about Wikileaks on Sunday, argues that

“Whistleblowing that lacks salience does nothing to serve the pubic interest – if we mean capturing the public’s attention to nurture its discourse in a way that has the potential to change something material. “

He is right. But Charlie Beckett, in the comments to that post, points out that Wikileaks is not operating in isolation:

“Wikileaks is now part of a networked journalism where they are in effect, a kind of news-wire for traditional newsrooms like the New York Times, Guardian and El Pais. I think that delivers a high degree of what you call salience.”

This is because last year Wikileaks realised that they would have much more impact working in partnership with news organisations than releasing leaked documents to the world en masse. It was a massive move for Wikileaks, because it meant re-assessing a core principle of openness to all, and taking on a more editorial role. But it was an intelligent move – and undoubtedly effective. The Guardian, Der Spiegel, New York Times and now El Pais and Le Monde have all added salience to the leaks. But could they have done more?

Visualisation through personalisation and humanisation

In my series of posts on data journalism I identified visualisation as one of four interrelated stages in its production. I think that this concept needs to be broadened to include visualisation through case studies: or humanisation, to put it more succinctly.

There are dangers here, of course. Firstly, that humanising a story makes it appear to be an exception (one person’s tragedy) rather than the rule (thousands suffering) – or simply emotive rather than also informative; and secondly, that your selection of case studies does not reflect the more complex reality.

Ben Goldacre – again – explores this issue particularly well:

“Avastin extends survival from 19.9 months to 21.3 months, which is about 6 weeks. Some people might benefit more, some less. For some, Avastin might even shorten their life, and they would have been better off without it (and without its additional side effects, on top of their other chemotherapy). But overall, on average, when added to all the other treatments, Avastin extends survival from 19.9 months to 21.3 months.

“The Daily Mail, the ExpressSky News, the Press Association and the Guardian all described these figures, and then illustrated their stories about Avastin with an anecdote: the case of Barbara Moss. She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, had all the normal treatment, but also paid out of her own pocket to have Avastin on top of that. She is alive today, four years later.

“Barbara Moss is very lucky indeed, but her anecdote is in no sense whatsoever representative of what happens when you take Avastin, nor is it informative. She is useful journalistically, in the sense that people help to tell stories, but her anecdotal experience is actively misleading, because it doesn’t tell the story of what happens to people on Avastin: instead, it tells a completely different story, and arguably a more memorable one – now embedded in the minds of millions of people – that Roche’s £21,000 product Avastin makes you survive for half a decade.”

Broadcast journalism – with its regulatory requirement for impartiality, often interpreted in practical terms as ‘balance’ – is particularly vulnerable to this. Here’s one example of how the homeopathy debate is given over to one person’s experience for the sake of balance:

Journalism on an industrial scale

The Wikileaks stories are journalism on an industrial scale. The closest equivalent I can think of was the MPs’ expenses story which dominated the news agenda for 6 weeks. Cable Gate is already on Day 9 and the wealth of stories has even justified a live blog.

With this scale comes a further problem: cynicism and passivity; Cable Gate fatigue. In this context online journalism has a unique role to play which was barely possible previously: empowerment.

3 years ago I wrote about 5 Ws and a H that should come after every news story. The ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of that are possibilities that many news organisations have still barely explored. ‘Why should I care?’ is about a further dimension of visualisation: personalisation – relating information directly to me. The Guardian moves closer to this with its searchable database, but I wonder at what point processing power, tools, and user data will allow us to do this sort of thing more effectively.

‘How can I make a difference?’ is about pointing users to tools – or creating them ourselves – where they can move the story on by communicating with others, campaigning, voting, and so on. This is a role many journalists may be uncomfortable with because it raises advocacy issues, but then choosing to report on these stories, and how to report them, raises the same issues; linking to a range of online tools need not be any different. These are issues we should be exploring, ethically.

All the above in one sentence

Somehow I’ve ended up writing over a thousand words on this issue, so it’s worth summing it all up in a sentence.

Industrial scale journalism using ‘big data’ in a networked age raises new problems and new opportunities: we need to humanise and personalise big datasets in a way that does not detract from the complexity or scale of the issues being addressed; and we need to think about what happens after someone reads a story online and whether online publishers have a role in that.

July 22 2010

10:18

Are you on the j-list? The leading innovators in journalism and media in 2010

Recent industry lists ranking the great and good in journalism and the media fell a bit short of the mark for Journalism.co.uk. Where were the online innovators? Where were the journalists on the ground outside of the executives’ offices?

So we’ve compiled our own rundown listing those people we think are helping to build the future of journalism and the news media.

Some important points to note:

  • There are no rankings to this list – those included are from such varied areas of work it seemed pointless;
  • We will have missed some people out – let us know in the comments below who you are working with that should be included;
  • We’ve listed groups as well as individuals – with individuals we hope you’ll see them as representing a wider team of people, who have worked together on something great;
  • And it’s not limited to 50 or 100 – we’ll see where it takes us…

So here’s the first batch. There’s a Twitter list of those included so far at this link and more will be added in the coming weeks.

Click on the ‘more’ link after these five to to see the full list.

Iain Overton

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is both a return to supporting classic, investigative journalism and an experiment in collaborative working and new business models for heavyweight reporting. Overseen by managing editor Iain Overton, the bureau is working with news organisations across a range of media and investing efforts in data mining and new business models.

Will Perrin/TalkAboutLocal

Will Perrin and his team at Talk About Local are changing the local media landscape one website at a time. Through training workshops and community groups, TAL is helping citizens have a voice online – but also encouraging new growth in hyperlocal news. It all began with Kings Cross Environment, the local site that Perrin set up himself.

James Hatts, SE1

There’s a lot of hype about hyperlocal as a future model for local news – and in James Hatts’ case it’s justified. Hatts was still a student when London SE1, which covers London’s Bermondsey and Southwark areas, started. It’s now more than 10 years old and is a great example of quality news and information for the community with an innovative approach to making money to support that goal.

Marc Reeves

The former Birmingham Post editor makes our list because of his straight-talking, forward-thinking attitude to business journalism. Having recently helped launched a new edition of successful online business news network TheBusinessDesk.com for the West Midlands, Reeves views on niche news and the role of editorial in the commercial life of a news organisation are not to be missed.

Stewart Kirkpatrick

The former editor of Scotsman.com, Kirkpatrick launched a new newspaper for Scotland in January this year. With 200,000 unique users in its first month, you wouldn’t bet against the Caledonian Mercury and Kirkpatrick’s innovative approach to creating a truly complimentary print and online newspaper with a strong and independent identity.

Martin Moore

As director of the Media Standards Trust, Martin Moore has many responsibilities and aims – but near the top of that list is more transparency for public data online and for the metadata associated with news. His work on the hNews project with the Associated Press in particular is something to keep an eye on.

Charlie Beckett

As director of journalism and society think tank POLIS and a former broadcast journalist, Charlie Beckett is a leading exponent of networked journalism: the idea that journalists can work together across organisations, media and with non-journalists to produced news. His research and writings on this model for journalism show a new way of thinking about the role of the journalist and reader in the production and distribution of news.

Paul Egglestone

Egglestone is digital director at the School of Journalism Media and Communication at the University of Central Lancashire. He’s been instrumental in the innovative Meld and Bespoke schemes that run projects from multimedia training for freelance journalists to work aimed at improving local community relationships and living spaces through hyperlocal news, mapping and social media projects. Image courtesy of Andy Dickinson

Pierre Haski

The former Liberation journalist and colleagues from the title are busy carving out a model for successful, heavyweight and independent journalism online with Rue89. The site is not afraid to innovate when it comes to revenue models and crucially not afraid to kill off parts of its network if they’re not working. A new print offshoot has just been launched and with or without this new source of revenue Haski expects the venture to move into profit next year.

Jason Mawer/Oxbury Media

Taking something traditional – the parish newsletter – and seeing the potential of community-interest publications when combined with cutting edge technology – Fwix – is Oxbury Media‘s game. The agency is focused on getting hyperlocal and community media networked, particularly in terms of advertising. Currently involved with more than 10,000 titles, Oxbury Media has the opportunity to create a hyperlocal powerhouse.

Andrew Sparrow

Senior political correspondent for Guardian.co.uk, Andrew Sparrow showed us how liveblogging was done during the 2010 UK election campaigns: on a typical day the blog got between 100,000 and 150,000 page views, rising to two million on election night. Sparrow’s ability to report, summarise and aggregate material for the site made it a must-read and has rewritten the rulebook for online political coverage.

Alison Gow

Alison is executive editor for digital at the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo. Gow makes the list not only for her work with those titles but also for her openness to new ideas, technologies and experimentation with journalism on the web. Her personal blog Headlines and Deadlines shares her thoughts on these developments and offers important insights into the changing role of local media and its relationship with a community online and offline.

Ben Goldacre

The author of Bad Science and esteemed science writer is as influential for his loyal following – you should see the traffic spikes when he links to anything on Journalism.co.uk – as he is for his views on science journalism and transparency online. As a doctor and health professional his views on journalism come from a different perspective and can offer a necessary antidote to the “media bubble”. Image courtesy of psd on Flickr

Jo Wadsworth

Web editor for the Brighton Argus, Jo Wadsworth is a digital journalist who remembers the importance of offline as well as online networking. Her work on building a team of community correspondents for the paper and her efforts to help with training and mentoring for non-journalist readers wanting to get involved with the website amongst other things show the scope and rewards that a local newspaper website can bring.

Alberto NardeliiAlberto Nardelli/Tweetminster

Alberto Nardelli knows a thing or two about Twitter and social networks – and he’s willing to share it with media and non-media partners to create a better service for users of his site Tweetminster. His and the Tweetminster team’s work shows the power of tracking real-time, social media information, while doing the filtering dirty work for us. It’s a tool for journalists and an example of how new ideas in the digital media world can take hold.

Sarah Hartley/Guardian Local

It’s early days for the Guardian’s venture into hyperlocal ‘beatblogging’ and its architect Sarah Hartley, but the signs are positive. The three existing sites offer a model for how ‘big media’ can do local, making use of third-party websites and dedicated to the online and offline audiences for their patch.

David Cohn/Spot.Us

David Cohn is the founder of Spot.Us, a model for ‘crowdfunded’, investigative journalism. Cohn has carefully built the pitching and funding model, as well as relationships with news media to create partnerships for distributing the finished articles. Spot.Us has grown out of its San Francisco base with a new venture in Los Angeles and even a project built to its model in Australia. Image courtesy of Inju on Flickr

Tom Steinberg/mySociety

Director and founder of non-profit, open source organisation mySociety, Tom Steinberg works to improve the public’s understanding of politics, government and democracy. From campaign literature site the Straight Choice – to FOI request site WhatDoTheyKnow, Steinberg helps create tools for journalists and ways for them to play a part in making a better society. Image courtesy of Tom Steinberg on Flickr

Heather Brooke

From her Freedom of Information rights campaigning to her work on MPs’ expenses, no list of journalism innovators would be complete without Heather Brooke. She’s both a classic investigative journalist with the nose and determination to get a story and someone who knows the best tools to challenge the data and information restrictions that can affect her line of work.

Juan Senor/Innovation Media Consulting

A fantastic speaker on news and magazines, in particular the notions of design and newsroom structure, Senor’s work with Innovation Media Consulting is perhaps best seen through Portuguese microformat newspaper i, a visually stunning and innovative take on what a newspaper or news magazine should look like.

Paul Bradshaw

Founder of the Online Journalism Blog Paul Bradshaw will soon be leaving his online journalism teaching post at Birmingham City University – but that doesn’t mean he’ll be resting on his laurels. Through his teaching, blogging, books and Help Me Investigate site, Paul’s research and insight into new opportunities for journalists, whether that’s tools, collaborations or entrepreneurship, are not to be missed.

Jack of Kent

A.k.a. David Allen Green. A shining example of specialist writing for the web and why bloggers shouldn’t all be tarred with the hobbyist “in their pyjamas” brush. Green’s dedication to his subject matter, his ability to distill often complex or jargon-riddled legal concepts into plain English and give the issues context should be a lesson to all specialist journalists.

James Fryer and Michelle Byrne/SoGlos.com

Online entertainment and arts magazine for Gloucestershire SoGlos.com prides itself on high standards editorially and innovation commercially. The site has embraced a start-up mentality for the news business and is quick to react to new business opportunities sparked by its editorial quality. What’s more the site is developing its model as a potential franchise for elsewhere in the UK, licensing for which would go back into supporting SoGlos.com.

Matt McAlister/Guardian’s Open Platform

Matt McAlister is head of the Guardian’s Developer Network and the driving force behind the Guardian’s Open Platform initiative, which allows third-party developers to build applications using the Guardian’s content and data. The platform has now launched commercially – a revenue stream for journalism from a truly digital age. Image courtesy of pigsaw on Flickr

Aron Pilhofer

Aron Pilhofer and his team at the New York Times are pioneers in data journalism – both creating interactives and visualisations to accompany NYTimes content and opening up the title’s own data to third parties. Image courtesy of Institutt for journalistikk on Flickr

Adam Tinworth

The man involved with most, if not all, things with a social and digital media twist at Reed Business Information, Adam Tinworth is pushing innovation in multimedia journalism and distribution within a big publishing house. He documents his work to help other journalists learn from his experiences – whether that’s reviewing equipment or explaining a common problem – and his liveblogging abilities are something to behold!

Joanna Geary

As part of the Times’ web development team, Joanna Geary is part of one of the biggest experiments in UK journalism. But she’s also a journalist clearly thinking about the future of journalism and news as a business and profession – whether that’s through her own use of new communication tools and technology or in setting up Ruby in the Pub, a meet-up for journalists and programmers.

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June 08 2010

09:22

#VOJ10: Polis director to publish report on value of ‘networked journalism’

As part of Friday’s Value of Journalism conference to be held in London by the BBC College of Journalism and media thinktank Polis, former broadcast journalist and now Polis director Charlie Beckett will release a new report looking at ‘networked journalism’.

In the report Beckett describes ‘networked journalism’ as a “synthesis of traditional news journalism and the emerging forms of participatory media enabled by web 2.0 technologies such as mobile phones, email, websites, blogs, microblogging and social networks”. It looks at:

The current running order for the event is available at this link. Tickets can be reserved online for the conference, which will be held at the London School of Economics. Journalism.co.uk will be reporting on the day’s events – to follow on Twitter follow @journalism_live and the hashtag #VOJ10.

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March 30 2010

11:53

#askthechancellors: How important was the digital audience in the UK Chancellor debate?

Last night I enjoyed lurking on the Twitter backchannel while watching Channel 4’s Ask the Chancellor debate – trivia mixed with observational insight.

I liked Evening Standard journalist Paul Waugh’s tweet about George Osborne’s ‘invisible pedal’ left-foot habit, as much as the economic 140-character analysis and Channel 4’s live poll via tweets, as the Chancellor hopefuls and incumbent fought it out (Vince Cable was the eventual winner, with 36 per cent; leaving Osborne and Darling with 32 per cent each).

Twitter also gave us an insight into the Channel 4/BBC political debate rivalry – spotted in tweets between Channel 4’s Faisal Islam and Radio 4’s Evan Davis. This, from Islam, for example:

amused by @r4today s licence-fee funded sniffiness about #askthechancellors Obviously nowt to do with this: http://bit.ly/aoc4MH

Probably worth noting this too, spotted via @the_mediablog:

RT @DominicFarrell: Those who will decide the #election were watching Coronation Street #askthechancellors

That was a sentiment supported by this morning’s TV stats: Brand Republic reports that Ask the Chancellors peaked at 2.1 million, while 9 million watched Eastenders.

So how important was this backchannel and the digital audience? That was the question Jim Naughtie posed to POLIS director Charlie Beckett on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme (audio at this link). Beckett said:

I think the real winner (…) despite some of the media cynicism, was in a sense ‘democracy’. I detected a lot of people who were quite pleased to hear a lengthy debate in detail, in public, by these people.

Beckett elaborates here, on his blog:

It all makes for much richer, multi-layered reportage. The TV debate alone would have been worth it. But the fact that tens of thousands of people were taking part reminds us that citizens do care about politics. And they want to be part of reporting the debate as it happens.

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March 22 2010

10:32

Charlie Beckett: Do we have an information overload?

Charlie Beckett, director of think tank Polis, reports on last week’s Media CSR Forum and Polis event, In Media We Trust?

The debate questioned information overload, and how to manage media literacy – raising issues on which audience and panellists were divided. Beckett concludes:

[I] am more concerned about whether we have the curators to help shape these information flows and whether those people or organisations that do the filtering and connecting are informed by some kind of ethical value system. Data is not neutral. Information is beautiful but it is also political. Networks are powerful and so they also need to be transparent and acountable. Step forward the networked journalist, your digital public sphere needs you.

Full post at this link…

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February 04 2010

16:58

#followjourn: Charlie Beckett/journalist and director

#followjourn: Charlie Beckett

Who? Journalist and director of Polis

What? An experienced broadcast journalist, Beckett has worked for LWT, BBC and ITN’s Channel 4 News. He is author of the book, Supermedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save the World, and director of Polis, joint journalism initiative from LSE and the London College of Communication.

Where? Read his archive of articles at Polis here.

Contact? Follow @charliebeckett

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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January 08 2010

12:35

Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters in 2009 (and who to watch in 2010)

With the proviso that journalism blogs and bloggers come and go, we have selected our own personal favourite journalism bloggers and tweeters. These are our absolute must-reads. We realise this is a somewhat subjective exercise, so please add your own in the comments below, or via Twitter to @journalismnews.

Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters of 2009

As chosen by John Thompson, founder, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@GordonMacmillan, @malcolmcoles, @adamwestbrook, @paulbradshaw, @mbites, @marcreeves

Best blogs:
Malcolm ColesJon Slattery, Adam Tinworth, OJB, Adam Westbrook (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Laura Oliver, editor, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@georgehopkin, @nigelbarlow, @MrRickWaghorn, @gordonmacmillan, @psmith

Best blogs:
Sarah Hartley, Alison Gow, Adam Tinworth, Martin Belam, Jon Slattery (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Judith Townend, senior reporter, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@gingerelvis, @samshepherd, @badjournalism, @jowadsworth, @digidickinson

Best blogs:
Jon Slattery, Martin Moore, Charlie Beckett, The Media Blog, Sarah Hartley (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by the Journalism.co.uk team:

Five blogs to watch in 2010

  • Marc Reeves: former Birmingham Post editor, with new projects on the go.

Five Tweeters to watch in 2010

  • @timesjoanna, for her excellent social media and online journalism links.
  • @michaelhaddon, former City student with an interest in political online media; now working at Dow Jones.
  • @joshhalliday, at the centre of the UK student journalist blogging conversation; lots to look at on his own blog.
  • @coneee, the NUJ’s first full-time blogger member, currently completing an MA at City University.
  • @marcreeves, for the latest on what the former regional editor is up to.

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