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June 28 2010

14:43

‘The imperatives of the news cycle’: A licence to steal?

Last week we highlighted some of the criticism being directed at Rolling Stone magazine for its decision to hold off publishing the now notorious General McChrystal article online.

The magazine’s hold-for-the-newsstand tactic led Time.com and Politico to make full PDF copies of the printed article available through their websites – copies which were not provided directly by Rolling Stone, as was first thought, but by third parties.

In the wake of Rolling Stone’s much-derided decision, New York Times’ Media Equation blogger David Carr turns his attention to the behaviour of Time.com and Politico, which later linked back to Rolling Stone’s website when the magazine finally published online.

Publishing a PDF of somebody else’s work is the exact opposite of fair use: these sites engaged in a replication of a static electronic document with no links to the publication that took the risk, commissioned the work and came up with a story that tilted the national conversation. The technical, legal term for what they did is, um, stealing.

Jim VandeHei, executive editor and a founder of Politico, defended the site’s move by claiming that “the imperatives of the news cycle superseded questions of custody”.

Full story at this link…Similar Posts:



June 03 2010

08:18

When interview subjects strike back…

Two separate examples of how journalists can be challenged/brought to task by the subjects of their interviews post-publication:

1. Freelance journalist Kat Brown gives an account of how she believes her case study interview for a feature on depression in Stylist magazine was misreported.

2. The singer M.I.A. has posted audio clips on her website that she secretly recorded whilst being interviewed by the New York Times, challenging some of the statements and quotations attributed to her in the published piece.

As the New York Observer’s write-up of the M.I.A. story explains:

The duel between reporter and source has spooked the journalism world, reminding writers that, thanks to Twitter and Facebook and other online sources, they may no longer have the final word.

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June 02 2010

12:34

#Amnestyawards: A reminder of the content in the paywall chatter

Ahead of yesterday’s Amnesty Media Awards 2010 ceremony, shortlisted nominee duckrabbit (@duckrabbitblog) tweeted:

If last year is anything to go by … take a valium before heading up to the #amnestyawards … sobering stuff

And they were right: the audience saw harrowing images and heard troubling narration, as the introduction to each of the shortlisted pieces of human rights journalism, across 10 categories in digital, print and radio.

It was the BBC Radio 4 Today programme’s Justin Webb, presenting the national newspaper prize, who reminded us of the substance behind the ‘future of journalism’ conversation. Joking that he’d undergone hardship in his own reportage (sometimes they went half-an-hour without a snack on the Obama campaign trail!), he said it was testimony to the diligence of the shortlisted contenders that they had completed this journalism. They, he said, had put aside the “chatter” of the organs for which they work and “talk of paywalls” to pursue their subject matter.

It was a particularly timely day for the awards – Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen mentioned the seizure of the Gaza flotilla activists by Israel, and the media’s vital role in reporting events. A special award for journalism under threat has been given to independent media workers in Burma, to raise awareness of the plight of 2,200 political prisoners held by the ruling junta, including more than 40 journalists.

In addition to the main prizes, two young entrants were named Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year winners, in a new prize set up by Amnesty International UK in collaboration with the Guardian Learnnewsdesk. Their pieces on bullying and child detention at Yarl’s Wood can be read on the Guardian site, along with the other shortlisted entries.

I’ve link to some of the shortlisted videos shown last night. Not all content is available to watch/listen in full, but even these snippets are a reminder of the kind of content that should be protected – and  prioritised – in the trade and in discussions on the future of journalism.

Gaby Rado Memorial Award

International Television and Radio

Nations and Regions

National Newspapers

Digital Media

Periodicals – Consumer Magazines

Periodicals – Newspaper Supplements

Photojournalism

Radio

Television Documentary and Docudrama

Television News

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April 30 2010

09:18

Reportr.net: ‘Does new media require new journalism ethics?’

Professor Alfred Hermida reports on today’s conference at the Center for Journalism Ethics at UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which will look at changing media ethics in an online environment.

At the heart of the ‘New Journalism, New Ethics?’ conference is whether new forms of media require new standards. Or do established ethical principles still apply?

Ahead of the event, the Center has released a report – ‘Ethics for the new investigative newsroom’.

You can view the report at this link [PDF].

Full post at this link…

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April 08 2010

00:03

Navigating Media Ethics and Censorship in Dubai

Around the world, dozens of organizations, from Freedom House to Reporters Without Borders, advance the ideal of a free press and a free citizenry. The ideal suggests there is one type of free press to be secured globally: the Western model of a constitutionally protected free press.

What stands over and against the free press? The typical examples are the media systems found in China or Burma.

But this thinking is too simple for a global age. The attempt to develop a free press follows different pathways in different regions. New ways of combining media freedom and responsibility are evolving.

Consider the impressive development of media in the more liberal Arab states, such as Dubai. Rather than quote statistics, I will describe one journalist in Dubai who experiences daily the tensions at work as the Arab media evolve.

"Freedom" Within Limits

nightline.jpgIt is 10 p.m. in Dubai and I am a guest on Nightline, Dubai's English-language radio talk show.

The host is James Piecowye, whose studio is in the radio station DubaiEye, 103.8 FM, which is part of Arabian Radio Network. The network is one of the largest media conglomerates in the Middle East and is owned by the ruling family of Dubai.

Piecowye is a Canadian who earned a doctorate in communication from the University of Montreal. He arrived in the United Arab Emirates a decade ago to teach at Zayed University, a college for Emirati women. About four years ago, he tried radio broadcasting after deciding that Dubai's English radio was a "wasteland" of classic rock and pop stations.

Radio, and especially talk radio, is new to Dubai. Before 1971, there was no locally operated radio in the region. Citizens relied on the BBC, Radio America, and stations in Lebanon and Jordan. When radio was established, a Western style was often adopted. Each night, on air, Piecowye carefully walks a tightrope between the listeners who call in and the state officials who monitor the show.

Some boundaries are clear: Topics such as homosexuality, drugs, prostitution, abortion, and religion are taboo. When Dubai World announced recently it was $40 billion in debt, shocking the markets, Piecowye could not discuss the problem on his show. Even discussion of lifestyles, such as dating, is sensitive in a country that outlaws kissing in public.

Still, Piecowye manages to provide interesting discussions using officials, scholars, and professors to discuss sanitation, traffic, education, and tonight's topic -- media ethics. He finds inventive ways to discuss sensitive topics.

For example, he cannot ask callers to discuss the drug problem. But he can invite the chief of the Dubai narcotics division to discuss what the division is doing to combat drugs. Back in Canada or the United States, using only comments from officials is considered one-sided and, well, boring. In Dubai, it is a way of putting the issue into the public sphere.

Working Without a Net

JamesPiecowye.jpeg

Yet, despite these precautions, any show can be cause for worry. "Offensive" is a terribly subjective word and concept, even in a country with strict laws.

"Often, I am never really sure where the line is between offending and not offending, and who will take offensive to what," said Piecowye.

Having grown up with CBC Radio, the Canadian public broadcaster, Piecowye added: "I attempt to bring Canadian journalism values into my show." He takes on the role of the neutral CBC-like moderator who seeks facts and reasoned discussion.

But here is the kicker: Piecowye works without a tape delay. Offensive comments by guests or his callers potentially can go straight to air. Luckily, this has rarely happened.

And what happens when officials do not approve of something on Nightline? The radio station gets a call from a well-placed person who expresses official displeasure. Such calls are taken very seriously. Violations of media laws in Dubai can lead to jail or swift deportation.

The danger is always there: One seriously offensive broadcast and Piecowye's decade of service to Zayed University and Dubai could be in jeopardy.

So, on this night, I and three other international ethicists engage in discussion with Piecowye about global media ethics, the theme of a conference we are attending. We talk in general terms about what global media ethics is, and how media can be made more responsible. We are fully aware that there is no tape delay. No one wants to get Piecowye in trouble by uttering an offensive comment or by raising a taboo topic.

I find myself, like Piecowye, dancing with the sheiks and their monitoring officials -- at least in my imagination. I find myself rephrasing comments before they come out of my mouth. Nonetheless, our group has a lively discussion on media freedom and responsibility, without directly attacking media restrictions in Dubai.

Negotiating Freedom

Piecowye later recounted an on-air anecdote that captured the experience. "One night I was struggling to not say something that couldn't be said, and I got a text message from a listener," he said. "The person wrote, 'We know what you're trying to say, so why don't you just SAY it!' "

This experience of "saying some things but not saying everything" defines the working conditions of many journalists in Dubai and other Arab countries. It is not full media freedom but it is not insignificant, either. It should not be dismissed as odious self-censorship. It is an important and evolving experiment that runs counter to hundreds of years of tradition.

Dubai's Nightline shows that we need a nuanced understanding of how to advance media freedom globally; there is no master plan.

The evolution of media freedom will depend on the country's media laws, the culture's tolerance of free speech, and local definitions of what is appropriate and what is offensive.
In many countries, journalists will negotiate for increasing freedom, and learn to navigate around limits. In the new "hybrid" globalized societies, such as Dubai, media freedom will take on hybrid forms.

There is no guarantee that liberalizing forces will win; and no predicting how far they will advance. There is no saying how this dance will end.

But Piecowye and other journalists continue to expand the boundaries of media freedom, working pragmatically within the limits of law and society.

Stephen J. A. Ward is the James E. Burgess Professor of Journalism Ethics in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is the founding chair of the Canadian Association of Journalists' (CAJ) ethics advisory committee and former director of UBC's Graduate School of Journalism.

JSOURCE_logo_colR1.jpg

This article was originally published on J-Source. J-Source and MediaShift have a content-sharing arrangement to broaden the audience of both sites.

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

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