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June 17 2013

18:34

Whitey Bulger: the Twitter trial narrative, by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen

The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen isn’t just live-tweeting the epic Whitey Bulger trial, he’s telling a true Twitter narrative. We’ve Storified his version of today’s proceedings, from the “All rise” until 12:57 p.m., when testimony broke for the day. In case you haven’t been following: On the stand today was prosecution witness John Martorano, an ex-hit man who killed at least 20 people, spent only 12 years in prison and then turned on Bulger, declining a spot in the federal witness protection program. The Globe’s Shelley Murphy, John Ellement and Milton Valencia wrote:

0

Whitey Bulger

(Martorano) called (Bulger and and cohort Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi) “my partners in crime, my best friends, my children’s godfathers.’’

Martorano said he decided to testify against Bulger, Flemmi, and corrupt FBI agent John Connolly after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were informants for the FBI, handled by Connolly, during their criminal exploits.

“After I found out they were informants, it sort of broke my heart,’’ Martorano testified. “They broke all trust that we had, all loyalty.’’

Kevin Cullen

Kevin Cullen

Today’s testimony also covered the nervous breakdown of a retired bookie “Dickie” O’Brien’s daughter, Tara, who once had to meet with Bulger and Flemmi about keeping her father’s business running. The Globe’s reporters are all live-blogging the trial, but have a look at how Cullen’s tweets hold up as a standalone Twitter narrative. There’s cumulative arc (onward pushes the story of how the hit man says the crime boss operated), plus dialogue, narrative tension, detail, description — pretty hard to pull off in a 132-character tweet. (The #Bulger and, usually, a space, eat eight.) The tweets are written. They have voice. You know you’re in the hands of a storyteller with:

Followed Indian Al’s Mercedes, pulled alongside and Johnny and Howie opened fire. “We gave him a broadside,” Johnny says.

And:

Nicky Femia got six machine guns for them in New York. Southie and Somerville split the guns. “Whitey and his gang.”

And:

“I walked in and shot him,” Johnny says. “We had to get someone to bury him.” Joe Mac and Jimmy Sims were the men for the job.

Cullen is tweeting from his iPad and emailed us a few minutes ago to say he’s been working mostly from the overflow press courtroom, “which has a camera that shows the witnesses and Whitey alternatively. It’s actually much better for my purposes to be in the overflow room, where I can sit at a table and tweet quicker and see more of the courtroom, and see the faces of the defendant and the witnesses and lawyers.”

Read our full Storify here:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 1.24.10 PM

 

Cullen is a Globe Metro columnist and an alum of the Foreign desk and Spotlight team, and worked on the investigative team whose 2003 coverage of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal won a Pulitzer Prize. He is the author, with Shelley Murphy, of Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice. He’s a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. You can follow him at @GlobeCullen.

 

 

 

April 02 2013

14:28

Dan Gillmor says journalists are uninformed about who controls the platforms they publish on

Dan Gillmor is writing a book (maybe), and he has a lot of questions. The project, which will probably be self published, will probably be called Permission Taken. Gillmor already owns that domain, so why not, he said in a talk at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society last week. (Also, his agent likes the title.)

Gillmor says he’s been thinking about the project for about a year, and he’s come up with a list of questions that he wants academics and practitioners around the country to help him answer. When Gillmor looks at the technologies, services, and platforms most of us use everyday and take for granted, he asks, in slide lingo,

KVESTIONS

The answers are not always clear.

Gillmor’s goal with the new book is a pedagogical one — he said he considers his students (at Arizona State University) to be his primary audience. He intends for the first few chapters to be a primer for the digitally barely literate on how to protect privacy and shore up digital security in day-to-day life. Some of the later chapters, however, will delve deeper into the nitty gritty.

Some of the ideas that will become a part of the new book Gillmor shared back in October at a symposium on digital ethics hosted by Poynter. Gillmor and other presenters also contributed essays to a book, The New Ethics of Journalism: A Guide for the 21st Century, to be published in July.

Generally, Gillmor doesn’t think anyone is fully aware of how vulnerable they are, technologically speaking. Build a back door into every new technology so the FBI can keep an eye on things, he says, “and I promise you it’s going to be used by criminals. The more you unharden the fences, the more room there is for really bad actors.”

Gillmor is especially concerned about how little he says journalists know about security and the extent to which they retain control over their content once it’s published online. “I ask, why are you pouring your journalism into Facebook where you don’t control it anymore? Why are you putting it on other people’s platforms?” In his slide deck, Gillmor gives the example of a New Yorker cartoon that caused Facebook to temporarily ban the magazine from their site — thereby claiming an unprecedented level of control over what is and isn’t acceptable in publishing.

Facebook is a particular concern of Gillmor’s, and he points to a tweet in his slideshow in which Loic le Meur quotes a friend employed by Facebook as saying “we’re like electricity.” “Is Facebook a utility?” asks Gillmor. “What do we do with utilities? We regulate them. Monopolies need regulation. I’m not a fan of regulation, but we have to think about that.”

Gillmor expressed similar concerns in his October talk about the level of control held by payment processors. Whether because of pressure from the government or an internal decision, Gillmor says, if the processor deems your content unacceptable, “then you won’t get paid.” But what journalists really don’t like, Gillmor told me, is when he asks them why they insist on building iOS apps that cede control of what is and isn’t journalism to Apple. In terms of distribution, they say they have no other option — and even journalists who have considered other options say the risk is worth it.

But some risks are never worth it. “Journalists need to learn more about security right away,” says Gillmor. “They are threatening the lives of their sources if they don’t.” In a recent column about the Harvard cheating scandal, in which the university admitted to scanning portions of employee emails, Gillmor showed exactly what can happen when a news outlet doesn’t know enough about how to protect their sources.

It’s not just employees and others who want to blow whistles who need to be more careful — such as using external accounts, encryption and a lot of other tools to be safer. (Note: I didn’t say “safe”, because absolute safety is exceedingly hard to achieve, if it’s even possible.)

Journalists, too, need better tradecraft when it comes to their dealings with sources. My impression of the typical newsroom’s precautions is that there aren’t many.

For six years as a columnist, Gillmor used a PGP at the bottom of each page — a safe, encrypted method by which sources could contact him. He said in six years, it was used twice — once by someone just checking to see if it worked.

For journalists, Gillmor recommends Tor, “a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.” (Committee to Protect Journalists when it comes to educating journalists about the dangers of using certain technologies.

But ultimately, Gillmor says, “It’s a crucial issue — and one that has not gotten enough attention inside the craft.” These issues fall very low on the priority list for an industry that Gillmor described as being in a constant state of desperation. But the dangers are real, Gillmor says, and with his new project, he hopes to find ways of bringing the convenience of private platforms to services that are both free and secure.

For now, though, “increasingly, journalists who really are appropriately paranoid in the right situations are learning not to use technology,” says Gillmor.

If you have a better idea, Gillmor is taking questions — and hopefully, answers.

Photo by f1uffster (Jeanie) used under a Creative Commons license.

August 13 2012

21:01

Live broadcast: Why The Huffington Post and Boston.com are getting into streaming media

Can a news site become a TV network? Or a radio station? Or if it can’t become one, can it at least grow to include one?

These aren’t theoretical questions, as Monday saw the launch of HuffPost Live, the new streaming TV-style video network from The Huffington Post, and RadioBDC, an alternative streaming radio station from Boston.com, the webbier side of The Boston Globe.

The launch of two media-jumping online ventures is likely a coincidence — though getting clear of the Olympics was probably a motivator for each — but they share many commonalities and the same goals. On their first day, both gave early indications of what they see as their strategy for success. Both Boston.com and The Huffington Post want to use digital distribution to offer something like a traditional broadcast product, but at a much lower cost than what starting a TV network or radio station ran pre-Internet. They both also want a shot at a new channel of advertising dollars to complement the display-heavy advertising they rely on with their main products. In order for both to work they’ll need to find, maintain, and grow an audience and advertisers. On launch day, HuffPost Live counted Cadillac and Verizon as their “founding partners” for the network. On RadioBDC, launch advertisers include Miller/Coors, Anheuser Busch, and Comcast, a spokeswoman told me.

HuffPost Live, the latest spinoff of Arianna Huffington’s media empire, is an attempt at merging live TV with the expediency and interconnectedness of the web — to get the engagement promised by second-screen visions of television watching by building for the web from the start. HuffPost Live promises 12 hours of live weekday programming that combines hosted segments and audience contributions. “With HuffPost Live, you’re invited to be part of a different kind of conversation, whoever you are, wherever you are,” Arianna herself said in the network’s opening minutes.

But while the medium may be shifting, a lot of the content looked familiar. On day one, HuffPost Live had many of the familiar trappings of cable news: a well appointed studio, handsome hosts, and various treatments on the day’s news. But instead of Wolf Blitzer barking at reporters and pundits in the Situation Room, HuffPost Live relied on Google Hangouts. Monday’s first segment, a roundtable on Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate, featured a diverse cast of contributors live from their bedrooms/guest rooms/home offices. As novel as that was, the guests still fit into familiar archetypes: a conservative, a liberal, a knowledgeable reporter, and an everyman. That seems to be the model for HuffPost Live, as a segment later in the day on home foreclosures featured Huffington, the head of a mortgage-resolution organization, actor John Cusack (!), and a California man struggling to keep his home.

Of course, HuffPost isn’t the only one investing in live video. The advertising dollars are typically better than in traditional web display advertising; as Raju Nasrietti of The Wall Street Journal told us in June: “We are sold out. There is no shortage of demand to generate more video views.”

HuffPost Live wants to differentiate itself from other online video in terms of its content and its “live-ness.” The segments are like taking a dive into different HuffPost verticals — politics one minute, entertainment the next, technology later. (No sideboob yet.) But what sets it apart is the audience experience: The interface features a video player on the left, a comment stream on the right, and a big red “Join This Segment” button. A module above the video player lets the audience keep tabs on what stories and segments are coming down the pike, like the left rail on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Boston.com’s move into radio

The strategy at Boston.com’s RadioBDC also seems to borrow a lot from its terrestrial peers. The streaming station is an ambitious project for Boston.com, which scooped up the on-air talent from Boston’s WFNX shortly after the station’s frequency was purchased by Clear Channel. As far as new ventures go, RadioBDC will stick closely to the traditional radio format, broadcasting 24 hours a day, with DJs on air from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. At noon Monday, on-air host Julie Kramer kicked-off the launch with an appropriately titled show, “Lunch at Your Desk,” and it sounded a lot like you’d expect an alternative radio station to sound.

With no terrestrial signal, that desktop crowd, along with the mobile crowd, will be RadioBDC’s main audience. They’ve already launched apps for iPhone and Android, but the power of Boston.com promotion will likely be key. The site is always among the most visited regional news sites with over 6 million uniques a month. RadioBDC has its own page under the Boston.com umbrella, but it also receives prime billing on Boston.com’s homepage, with a banner ad and button to launch the radio player as well as a widget near the top of the page.

By default, RadioBDC pops out into a separate window, making it meant for hanging out in the background during the work day. If you’re the type of person that wants to hear Elvis Costello, Weezer, or R.E.M while you work, you can now hear the music you love while clicking through Red Sox news or updates on the Massachusetts senate race. For Boston.com, that potentially means exposing the audience to double the ads, on the site as well as on the radio stream. Lisa DeSisto, general manager of Boston.com, said over email that “streaming spots are just one component of the marketing packages which include digital assets, event sponsorships, social media tie-ins, and promotions.”

HuffPost Live also seems designed for the specific purpose of keeping the audience around, either to keep tabs on what’s being talked about in comments or to contribute to an upcoming story. HuffPost also wouldn’t mind if you kept it open in a tab all day and popped in from time to time.

While they share a launch date, RadioBDC and HuffPost Live operate at different scales: RadioBDC has a handful of people on staff, HuffPost Live hired around 100 people for the launch. Success will look different for the two entities. But they’re both counting on a similar audience: the bored-at-work crowd, desk jockeys looking for something other than an Excel spreadsheet to pay attention to. Considering how much time we spend tethered to our computers this strategy makes a lot of sense. Individually our stray, off-task web surfing may not amount to much, but HuffPost and Boston.com are hoping that, collectively, it adds up to many millions of hours. TV and radio originally brought the news and music live into people’s living rooms. Now HuffPost and Boston.com want to bring news and music live to your computer, tablet, or phone during the day, probably at work. Think of it as the earbud audience.

September 15 2011

20:43

Inside the Globe Lab: how to make the Boston Globe’s two-site strategy work

Niemanlab :: Why exactly does The Boston Globe need a lab? Most newspapers aren’t known for spending a lot of resources on R&D. In an era where money is tight and newsrooms have shrunk, why exactly does The Boston Globe need a lab? Of course, that question answers itself — it’s precisely because the traditional business model is in such disarray that it makes sense to invest in ideas that could turn into something bigger. In order for BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com to grow and thrive as online properties, the Globe is counting on its lab to create the kind of products and ideas that will help each site succeed.

What are they working on? 

Continue to read Justin Ellis, www.niemanlab.org

May 18 2011

19:26

What we’re watching: musical fracking, award-winning photojournalism, and documentaries from Cannes

From a groovy explainer to a broken contortionist, here are some visual experiences worth a look.

My Water’s on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song),” by David Holmes, Andrew Bean, Niel Bekker, Adam Sakellarides and Lisa Rucker from @Studio2oNYU in collaboration with ProPublica. The most entertaining (and catchy!) explainer we’ve seen in a long time. It recalls the clarity of 2008’s “The Crisis of Credit Visualized by Jonathan Jarvis.

The Amazing Amy,” by Espen Rasmussen, Finn Ryan, Terje Bringedal and Torsten Kjellstrand working with MediaStorm. A 56-year-old performer battered by the world invites viewers into her life – not a comfortable place to be.

Dogs in the News,” curated by The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture earlier this month. Dogs working, sometimes in surprising occupations. Not your everyday LOLdogs pics.

Symmetry,” a @madebyeverynone video produced by Brendan Lynch (via @koci). Not narrative, but a beautifully crafted conceptual video that can help beginners and pros alike ponder themes and echoes in visual storytelling. See the whole “Everynone” series for additional inspiration.

The Shrine Down the Hall,” by from The New York Times Magazine. Winner of the 2011 Ellie for News and Documentary Photography. Ashley Gilbertson’s photos (accompanied by Dexter Filkins’ essay) create a visual record of the forever empty bedrooms of grown children lost in war.

And from the Cannes Film Festival, we’ve gathered a few trailers for documentaries being screened this month. They include “Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” about India’s film industry; “Unlawful Killing,” a film on the death of Princess Diana underwritten by the family of Dodi Fayed; “Leadersheep,” the story of a decadelong battle between a group of French farmers and their government (trailer in French); and “At Night, They Dance,” a look at a family of belly dancers in Cairo.

February 28 2011

21:11

What we’re watching: picturing mercy, breaking down remixes, and garage fighting with keyboards (really)

You bulked up your movie-watching to prepare for the Oscars, and now they’re over. What next? If you’re pining for some new things to see, we’ve got some options for you. And for better or worse, none of them involve Kirk Douglas.

Afghanistan, February 2011,” assembled by Alan Taylor at The Atlantic (who previously founded The Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture”). If you aren’t a regular visitor to Taylor’s curation of images at “In Focus,” you should be. These particular photos display the range of beauty, play, suffering and violence that make up everyday life for the people of Afghanistan and the soldiers stationed there.

See “What Does Mercy Look Like?” over at The New York Times’ Lens blog. It’s a post about “The Mercy Project/Inochi,” a project curated by James Whitlow Delano.  Also: check out the amazing Alessandra Sanguinetti image in this earlier Lens post. (It’s the color image halfway down the post.)

Uppercut” by California Is a Place continues Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s run of disturbing, intimate and strange stories. This time out, they paint a portrait of a “Gentlemen’s Fighting Club,” where office geeks and martial artists battle for one-minute rounds in a suburban garage, using everything from bare fists to chairs – and yes, even computer keyboards. “I do it for the hugs,” says one competitor.

Everything Is a Remix” from Kirby Ferguson at Goodiebag.tv (via @MediaStorm). In his two-part (so far) video production, Ferguson looks at how ideas and images are swiped and retooled in film and music. The movie clips come from fictional films, but Ferguson provides a true and entertaining account of the history of cultural “borrowing.”

Image from photo gallery of “Uppercut” by California Is a Place.

April 13 2010

10:41

THE INMA/INNOVATION OXFORD TABLET SUMMIT (1)

2010-04-13_1142

Two new speakers for the Oxford Tablet Summit.

Javier Zarracina from The Boston Globe (USA) and Frédéric Filloux the former editor of Libération and 20 Minutes (France).

The news came with the last quote from Rupert Murdioch about the tablets:

“If you have less newspapers and more of these [tablets]… it may well be the saving of the newspaper industry.”

March 25 2010

15:18

Boston Globe launches midday video news update

The Boston Globe has launched a daily news video update. The 90-second broadcast is available on the paper’s homepage, Boston.com, between 11:45 and 1:45 pm EST. As reported here earlier this week, the Globe’s sister paper the New York Times has also launched a midday video news update, TimesCast.

Globe Today is more of a traditional news broadcast than TimesCast, which takes a behind-the-scenes approach, and is significantly shorter, weighing in at less than a quarter of the length of the Times’ feature.

The other significant difference is that Globe Today also appears on YouTube, making it embeddable, meaning I can embed it for you right here:


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