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August 21 2012

14:00

Why Did So Many News Outlets Not Link to Pussy Riot Video?

The Russian punk band Pussy Riot must have done something really bad to merit a possible seven years in prison, I figured. Finding all descriptions of their behavior to be filled with euphemism, I wanted to see their offensive behavior myself.

Who do you turn to when you want to see the world as it is, rather than the world as others tell you it is? My parents would have turned on network television. Or read the Progress-Bulletin or Daily Report. I went to YouTube and searched for "PussyRiot" and watched what struck me as the video of the actions I had heard about second- and third-hand. The video, I thought, was edited in such a way that made both the church and the band look like victims, depending on your point of view. To me, that was a good indication of its authenticity.

But I don't really know, and I trust sources like the New York Times, and especially its reporters on the ground in Moscow, to tell me whether what I'm really seeing is accurate. So I next went to nytimes.com and its story. The Times had links to videos. But a quick look around the other five top news sites in the U.S showed that it was the only popular publication that linked to the videos of the band's action that landed it in prison for three months while awaiting trial. So why was the Times the only source to have linked to the video? And what does that news organization's unusual behavior mean?

a lack of links

The other sites -- Yahoo News, Huffington Post, ABC News, NBC News and USA Today -- failed me. These are sites that are both praised and vilified as "aggregators" or "MSM." But all made the same editorial decision -- and didn't help their audience see the key fact of this case for itself.

But I wonder why the link wasn't made? The people who work there are professionals. And I have no reason to believe they are more or less immoral than I am.

Going back more than a decade, academic studies have found that few news stories actually link to source information. In 2001, one in 23 stories about the Timothy McVeigh execution linked to external sources. And a 2010 study indicates that U.S. journalists are less inclined to link to foreign sources than domestic sources, with fewer than 1 percent of foreign new stories on U.S. news sites containing links in their stories.

So, why?

Two prominent academic studies seem to indicate that the presence of inbound and outbound links increase credibility in both professional and amateur sites. Are professional journalists unaware of those studies? Are they aware, but think they're bunk?

One study indicates that journalists don't link because they are concerned about the financial implications -- that users who leave the site will not return to drive up ad impressions. Another seems to indicate that U.S. journalists are particularly skeptical of foreign sources of news because they are less confident of their own ability to judge the credibility of foreign sources.

enhancing credibility

From my experience in online newsrooms, both those findings seem plausible. But they also seem incomplete. My own additional hypothesis is that hyperlinking has been left primarily to automation and that editors and reporters who've been asked for the last decade to "do more with less" have decided that links to original source material -- which, at least according to a few studies, enhance their credibility, are not worth their time.

But other studies have shown that hyperlinks in the text of a story distract readers -- even the small percentage of readers who click on the links -- and reduce reading comprehension. That said, I suspect the journalists who didn't include links to the Pussy Riots videos are completely unaware of such studies (which are summarized nicely throughout Nicholas Carr's book "The Shallows."

If there's credit to be given in The New York Times' decision to include the links in the story, then it goes to the reporter in Moscow, David Herzenhorn, according to three sources who work at the Times. The role that Herzenhorn played is important. This was a task not left to an editor or producer in New York, but one that the Moscow correspondent took upon himself. The links add to his credibility.

"I have to say I am completely floored that other news organizations would not link to the videos, since they explain so much about the story," Kyle Crichton, the editor who worked on the story, wrote to me in response to an email query.

My rather slack Friday afternoon efforts to obtain comment from other news organizations that didn't link to the videos yielded no responses. I still hope to hear from them in hopes of understanding whether the lack of links was merely an oversight or a conscious omission. Herzenhorn also did not reply to my email on late Friday.

The reporter -- and at this point he, rather than his employer, deserves credit for the links -- selected the more popular Russian-language versions on YouTube rather than the English subtitled versions, which had fewer views but would be more useful to the Times' English-language audience.

"There is some profanity on the soundtrack, so I presume that is why David chose not to include [the videos with English subtitles]," Crichton said in his email to me. "That strikes me as fair, since the text isn't as important as the overall spectacle of their 'performance.'"

the political impact of linking

I also wondered what the political impact of including such links might be. I've had
newsroom conversations about whether linking to a source constitutes endorsement. The modern version of this is manifested in newsroom social media policies that discourage journalists from re-tweeting information from sources and in Twitter bios that say "RT ≠ endorsement."

I teach my students, and write in Chapter 7 of "Producing Online News," that links in a story are akin to quotes. You're responsible for the facts of the source's statement, but not the opinions. And stories without links today seem as incomplete as stories without quotes from named sources have always been.

In foreign stories, though, links to banned material could have an effect on both the news
organization's ability to distribute news and on its reporters' ability to collect it. Crichton wasn't concerned.

"I don't think our including the videos will have any impact on our future ability to report in Russia," Crichton said in his email to me. "If it were Iran, maybe, but Russia isn't like that, yet."

What discussion to you have in your newsroom about including or excluding links? If you aren't having any, consider consulting with -- and funding -- the mass communication researchers who can help you make your journalism more credible, more memorable and more useful.

Related links:

August 20 2012

11:46

Jay Leno's Tonight Show: A cash cow, which 'merits' downsizing?

Deadline :: NBC insiders tell me The Tonight Show went through ”downsizing” today and that 20 staffers lost their jobs. Others tell me the number is more like 25, and producers were forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs. The Tonight Show has been and still is a cash cow for NBC. So what happened to merit the downsizing?

"‘The Tonight Show’ Lays Off 20 Staffers And Host Jay Leno Takes Pay Cut To Save Jobs" - A report by Nikki Finke, www.deadline.com

Tags: NBC

August 14 2012

14:00

Channel 4 Gives Blanket Coverage to Paralympics, While NBC Falls Short

olympics digital 2012 small.jpg

Later this month, the Paralympics will open at the same London venues as the Olympic Games, and for the first time, will get full-day and prime-time coverage in the U.K.

In 2008, Great Britain and Northern Ireland came in second in the Paralympics medals table with 102, including 42 gold, compared to 47 medals in the Olympics. But the success in the Paralympics was not matched by media coverage.

While the BBC, which held the rights to both games in 2008, aired several hours daily of Olympic action on the main networks, BBC1 or BBC2, their Paralympic broadcasting was limited to highlight shows during the week on BBC2, and live coverage on the weekend.

That imbalance between the major sporting events is about to change in the U.K.

When the Paralympics open on August 29 in London, Channel 4 will carry the broadcasting torch, marking the first time the contract has been split for the two linked Games.

Channel 4 is stripping back its entire schedule, leaving just its evening news and half-hour evening soap opera. The rest will offer 400 hours of estimated broadcasting of the Paralympics.

They have been building up profiles of British Paralympic athletes, challenging disability transport issues in London ahead of the games, offering free phone and tablet apps for following the event and plugging into various social media platforms.

Other networks around the world have signed up to broadcast the games, including China's largest national broadcaster, CCTV, Brazil's Globo TV, and ABC in Australia.

In April, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said the 2012 Paralympics would be the most watched ever.

By contrast, NBC is not broadcasting any Paralympic events to U.S. audiences except for a highlights show on September 16 from 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network is showing the Paralympics for the first time. But the coverage is limited to four, hour-long programs on September 4, 5, 6 and 11, according to Adam Freifeld, vice president of communications for NBC Sports Group, in an email to me.

He added: "This is the first time Paralympic coverage has been available on NBC Sports Network, the cable network that was rebranded earlier this year from VERSUS."

Channel 4's approach to coverage

Rachael Latham competed at the Beijing Paralympics and holds the European record for the 200m butterfly, the world record for 50m butterfly and British record for the 200m backstroke. But, because of injury, she has moved into broadcasting. Channel 4 conducted a talent search for new presenters, recruiting a number of fresh faces from different disability backgrounds, including Latham.

The 22-year-old from Wigan, Lancashire, was born with Erbs Palsy -- paralysis of the arm -- and said the increased coverage will make a difference.

"It is not that prior to Channel 4 winning the broadcasting rights there was bad coverage," she said via email, "It's just that BBC did not show enough. Maybe the BBC thought they knew what the public wanted and served them accordingly, seeing the Paralympics as having minority appeal rather than something in which the public could have a big interest in.

"In 2008 the BBC approached the Paralympics with respect, with most events available to the viewer; however, there was no substantial background or build-up to any of this.

"Channel 4's belief in the Paralympics is reflected in the amount of transmission hours given to the game and it is their biggest focus for the whole summer. The BBC can thrive on the Olympics and Channel 4 can thrive on the Paralympics."

Despite the criticism of NBC's delayed broadcasts of the Olympics, the Games so far have been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic for both NBC and the BBC, and Channel 4 will be hoping that interest will extend to the Paralympic games.

Regular features on "Meet the Superheroes" as well as other documentaries have introduced the athletes to TV audiences like never before, as well as explaining the sometimes complex classification system.

Paralympics lexi 2.jpg

The network is introducing the Lexi Decoder (LEXI) to help explain the different categories according to levels of impairments, developed in cooperation with Paralympic gold medalist Giles Lorig.

Latham said the media is a vital way to spread the word about sport and inspire people to participate, not just watch the Paralympics.

"Paralympic athletes train alongside the Olympic athletes in Britain and train just as hard," she said. "So for the public to build up their respect for Paralympic sport alongside Olympic sport would mean everything to the athletes. It is not Channel 4's job to 'turn round the attitudes' just more 'create an attitude'. I don't think the public has ever been given the chance to care about the Paralympics. At the end of the day, if you aren't given the chance to see something and understand it, you probably won't care, and that relates to all aspects of life.

"Channel 4 is giving the Paralympics the air time it deserves and hopefully by doing so people will watch the athletes and understand the sport so they want to watch it. C4 doesn't need to do anything in particular to change people's attitudes, just by the network broadcasting it for the public to watch will be enough for people to make up their own minds and then potentially positive attitudes will be formed."

Social media coverage

Twitter and social media in general, has formed a massive part of the Olympics so far this year, and Latham said social media will also be a huge part of the Paralympic coverage. Channel 4 has always been keen in getting Twitter and Facebook followings for presenters and reporters, but this is increasing with the Games and promotion of the athletes as well. The free tablet and smartphone apps will also allow live-streamed action.

During the Games, Latham will be the main "mix zone reporter" at the pool, interviewing athletes after their races, as well other presenting duties. She had always set the goal of being in London for the Games, but the injury forced her to turn to presenting from competing. On a personal level, she said she is loving the opportunity.

"C4's goal is to bring Paralympic sport into full public focus before, during and beyond the 2012 Games and to deliver a lasting legacy, including developing public attitudes to disability and disability sport," she said. "If four years down the line, people are excited about the Paralympics as well as the Olympics, that will show C4 has been successful."

Channel 4 set a goal of 50 percent disabled on-screen talent during the Games and searched for new presenters to help towards the target. For the network itself, this is the biggest event in its 30 years, but they could not confirm at the time of writing whether they would bid to broadcast the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

A spokeswoman for the British Paralympic Association said in a statement: "We welcome the increased media interest in the Paralympic Games and we hope that, with the support of the British media in raising the profile of British Paralympic athletes and their phenomenal sporting achievements, the BPA can achieve its vision of positively affecting the way that British society thinks, feels and behaves towards disabled people."

Tristan Stewart-Robertson is a Canadian freelance reporter based in Glasgow, Scotland, operating as the W5 Press Agency.

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

August 13 2012

14:02

August 09 2012

05:05

NBC News and TV One partner to deliver presidential election coverage to black viewers

NBCUniversal :: NBC News, a source of global news and information, and TV One, which entertains, informs and inspires Black adult viewers, are partnering to provide coverage of the 2012 presidential election with a unique perspective to best serve the needs of Black viewers. This special coverage will include the final night of both the Republication National Convention and the Democratic National Convention, as well as the night of the presidential election. All three nights of coverage will be branded under the TV One: One Vote Matters banner. This agreement marks the first joint effort between the two organizations, as well as TV One’s premiere offering of national convention coverage. The joint announcement was made today by TV One President and CEO Wonya Lucas and NBC News President Steve Capus.

Announced here Press release, www.nbcumv.com

August 06 2012

20:41

Eight-in-ten following Olympics on TV or digitally: High marks for NBC's Coverage

Pew Research Center | People Press :: Large majorities of Americans are following coverage of the Olympic Games in London. Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) say they have watched or followed Olympic coverage either on television, online or on social networks.

Findings Pew Research Center, www.people-press.org

HT: Mark Little

05:31

Josh Constine: Twitter's suspension of Guy Adams account boosted signup rate

... TechCrunch, was told by  "sources".

TechCrunch :: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. A source tells TechCrunch that mainstream news mentions of the temporary suspension of Guy Adams, an NBC Olympics coverage tweeter / hater gave Twitter’s signup rate a boost. The same source revealed that the debacle led to internal communication within Twitter, describing the scandal as having a silver lining: “A good thing”.

A report by Josh Constine, techcrunch.com

August 04 2012

15:15

The 2012 Summer Olympics: A giant coming-out party for the animated GIF

Nieman Lab :: Did you hear about the Olympic fencer who refused to leave the piste after losing to a computer glitch? I didn’t watch it on television or on NBC’s web livestream, since I don’t have cable. But I did watch the next best thing — maybe the better thing: BuzzFeed’s strangely compelling and haunting recap, presented in videos, still images, and animated GIFs.

Storytelling with animated GIF's - A report by Andrew Phelps, www.niemanlab.org

August 03 2012

06:14

NBC says live online and tape-delayed Olympics drawing record audience

AllThingsD :: Okay, people who are furious about NBC’s Olympics coverage. The network has thrown you a bone: On a press call today, NBC sports head Mark Lazarus said the company is watching the criticism it’s getting on Twitter and Facebook. And “some of it is, in fact, fair,” Lazarus said.

Happy?

A report by Peter Kafka, allthingsd.com

July 31 2012

18:03

By tweeting about a developing story, could you be inciting a riot?

You’re probably not going to like this, but we’re facing bigger Twitter problems than @GuyAdams having his account suspended.

For those who haven’t been among the outraged on Twitter: Guy Adams, a Los Angeles-based reporter for The Independent, tweeted up a storm of criticisms about NBC’s handling of the Olympics. One of those tweets included NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel’s work email address. Twitter suspended his account for allegedly violating its user policy. The Internet went bananas.

What’s making people so berzerk about all this is the idea that Twitter and a corporate partner — one that works in the news business, no less! — appear to have teamed up to silence a guy who said things those companies didn’t like. (Breaking: Adams apparently has his account back.)

In reporting on something through social media, your action might be seen as calling for that thing to happen.

But here’s a scarier thought: What if it were up to the government to choose what kind of Twitter speech is allowed? What if instead of account suspensions, Twitter users had to worry about being arrested for what they tweet?

That’s a question that Yale Law School lecturer Margot Kaminski has been thinking about a lot these days. The premise of her recent research is that as people increasingly use social media as a tool for community organizing, government will try to impose regulations.

Kaminski has delved specifically into “incitement to riot” statutes in the United States. These are the laws that add the “but” to that freedom-of-assembly bit in the First Amendment, and they vary in key ways from state to state. (How many people have to assemble for it to be considered a riot? What kind of activity constitutes a riot? What’s the difference between someone who’s acting violently, or just threatening violence? And what about intent? Etc., etc., etc.)

Here’s a hypothetical: Let’s say I take to Twitter, and tweet that everyone in Cambridge should meet at the Out of Town News stand and start moonwalking at noon. Harmless flash mob, right?

But what if instead I tweet that everyone should meet there for a looting spree? Am I inciting a riot? (For the record, I am decidedly pro-moonwalking and anti-looting.) Kaminski argues in her paper, “Incitement to Riot in the Age of Flash Mobs,” that “there is no real need to go after the speaker for a crime of ‘incitement to robbery’ or ‘incitement to riot,’ because the speaker’s involvement in the robbery could be punished through other means.”

A thornier question: What if I’m a reporter or some other passerby who tweets about a crowd that’s gathering at the newsstand, and my tweet notifies others who then turn up?

“If somebody tweets there’s a protest happening at XYZ location, there’s a possibility that that might be seen as incitement to riot,” Kaminski told me. “So the thing that might be harmful to journalists is in reporting on something through social media: Your action might be seen as calling for that thing to happen.

This isn’t just an academic thought exercise. Last year, Cleveland’s city council passed ordinance to prohibit “the improper use of social media to induce persons to commit a criminal offense.” Mayor Frank Jackson vetoed the measure. But in December, the council adopted a revised version of the original ordinance, making it clear that “electronic media devices” can be considered criminal tools.

Kaminski says the Supreme Court has never addressed whether there should be a distinction between “direct and indirect advocacy of unlawful action.” The other thing to remember is that states define riots differently. Get the image of a torch-and-pitchfork-toting mob out of your mind: Only two states require at least seven people for a gathering to be a possible riot. Four states require only two people to gather for their assembly to be considered a possible riot. For most states, the minimum is three people.

Many states already criminalize incitement to riot, and plenty of them in ways that Kaminski says are overly broad, even unconstitutional. She calls these statutes fascinating because they implicate not one but two protected freedoms: speech and assembly. In the landmark 1969 Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, justices unanimously ruled that the government may not punish speech unless it incites violent action. They drew a line between speech that advocated for violence versus speech that actually incited it. Traditionally, it was up to authorities — often in the midst of a crowd — to determine whether someone was inciting a riot.

“Now there’s a particular fear of social media,” Kaminski said. “I use Twitter as the example because of the fact that cops are afraid that it creates instantaneous reaction. Before, the call to gather would have occurred by some kind of telephone chain, passing out pamphlets or putting up posters. Brandenberg put up this idea that the harm has to be immediate before you can legitimately go after it. It really meant you’re watching the speaker give the speech, and you’re seeing how soon bad stuff is going to occur.”

In an age of virtual assembly, authorities are trying to figure out how to navigate incitement in a non-physical space. One high-profile example from last summer: When police in Britain threatened to bring charges against people for using Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger to incite widespread London riots.

“Twitter brings this immediacy question back into play again,” Kaminski said. “You can have 100,000 followers and send out a message, and have something occur in 20 minutes. There’s a lot of potential for ex post facto justification. The chance that you, with 100,000 followers, put out this message and something really bad happens? Well, you might put out 50 messages with nothing happen and one thing occurs and post-legislators are going to try to apply this to social media. The core of this is making this really clear how much of a high level of intent you have. You have to be able to show that the speaker on Twitter wanted the gathering to occur, wanted it to be large, wanted it to happen immediately, and wanted to frustrate police ability to control it.”

Image derived from photo by Dave Hogg and illustration by Matt Hamm used under a Creative Commons license.

July 30 2012

20:48

Deadspin: NBC’s no. 1 tweeting critic has been suspended from Twitter

Reading his last tweet more than once, I wouldn't believe that Guy Adams Twitter account was suspended because he is a critic of NBC. The tweet contains a public email address of an NBC executive to which readers should send their complaints.

DeadSpin :: Guy Adams is The Independent's Los Angeles bureau chief. During the Olympics so far, he has carved out a nice spot on the how-much-NBC's-coverage-sucks beat. Now his Twitter account has been suspended.

Reason? This tweet:

[Guy Adams in a tweet:] The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven't started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think! Email: ...

A report by John Koblin, deadspin.com

The Indepedent :: This evening NBC Sports released a statement reading: "We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives."

Written by Guy Adams, independent.co.uk

Tags: NBC
16:11

One year since she was hired, Vivian Schiller’s “wild ride” at NBC is just beginning

Niemanlab :: If you ever find yourself awake past the witching hour, sleeplessly scrolling Twitter, take comfort in knowing that NBC News chief digital strategist Vivian Schiller is right there with you. “I’m up for two or three hours in the middle of the night,” Schiller told me. “But my saving grace is Twitter.

NBC News’ first ever chief digital strategist reflects on her first year with the network.

A report by Adrienne LaFrance, www.niemanlab.org

Tags: NBC
15:31
09:02

NBC Olympics Twitter Tracker measures ‘real-time pulse’

Lost Remote :: A big part of the recent Twitter-NBC Olympics partnership was that they would be bringing back the Twitter Tracker they used back in 2008, but in a bigger way on devices. The tracker can be accessed within the NBC Olympics iPad app and it’s proving to be one of the best ways to discover what games are worth watching at the moment, and here’s why.

A review by Natan Edelsburg, www.lostremote.com

July 29 2012

10:20

London 2012: Row after NBC drop opening ceremony '7/7 tribute'

Guardian :: The US broadcaster NBC is facing growing criticism after editing their delayed coverage of the London 2012 opening ceremony to replace the "memorial wall" tribute section with a Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps.

A report by David Hills, www.guardian.co.uk

July 28 2012

10:06

Cord cutters: Here's how to watch the Olympics without cable

GigaOM :: NBC requires viewers to verify they are pay TV subscribers before accessing any of the live streams of the London Games. So what’s a cord cutter to do? Luckily, there are plenty of perfectly legal ways to watch the coverage without cable.

HowTo by Janko Roettgers, gigaom.com

09:29

London 2012: Primetime TV will rule over digital for years, says NBC Olympics EP Jim Bell

Hollywood Reporter :: NBC is quite proud and vocal of its monumental effort to broadcast every single event at this summer's London Olympics on its website and mobile apps, but that doesn't mean they're abandoning their core business of big events and big ratings on primetime. Still, given the fact that their online efforts represent a major technological and paradigm jump from 2008's games in Beijing, a cordless future for the broadcasts seems closer than ever, right?

Not so fast.

A report by Jordan Zakarin, www.hollywoodreporter.com

May 06 2012

07:11

YouTubers bring audience to Ford-sponsored NBC reality series

GigaOM :: Think reality TV is saturated with product placement? Meet Escape Routes, just finishing its run on NBC Saturday nights at 8 PM (as well as on Hulu), and using large amounts of screen time to sell you Zynga games, iPads and, above all else, the Ford Escape. Despite the level of salesmanship involved, though, there are some interesting digital innovations in the structure of the show and in the casting.

Continue to read Liz Shannon Miller, gigaom.com

Tags: NBC YouTube

May 02 2012

20:22

NBC Universal NewFront pitches digital as complement to TV

AdAge :: The NewFront digital upfront presentations were conceived to mimic the traditional TV upfronts, where networks try to interest advertisers in buying huge amounts of ad inventory for the coming year. But NBC Universal didn't want its digital upfront Tuesday night to step on its traditional presentations either, so its pitch for 60 digital properties included no show screenings, relatively few celebrities and lots of concepts.

Continue to read Jeanine Poggi, adage.com

Tags: NBC
20:22

NBC Universal NewFront pitches digital as complement to TV

AdAge :: The NewFront digital upfront presentations were conceived to mimic the traditional TV upfronts, where networks try to interest advertisers in buying huge amounts of ad inventory for the coming year. But NBC Universal didn't want its digital upfront Tuesday night to step on its traditional presentations either, so its pitch for 60 digital properties included no show screenings, relatively few celebrities and lots of concepts.

Continue to read Jeanine Poggi, adage.com

Tags: NBC
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