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June 11 2011


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

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

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

June 17 2010


NYTimes.com most visited newspaper site in US last month

NYTimes.com was the most visited newspaper site in the US last month, according to Statistics released by comScore.

The New York Times website had more than 32 million visitors and 719 million page views in May, with the average visitor to the site viewing 22 pages of content.

A short way behind was Tribune Newspapers, with 24.8 million visitors.

Jeff Hackett, comScore senior vice president, says the numbers prove online news is the future.

“The good news for publishers is that even as print circulation declines, Americans are actually consuming as much news as ever – it’s just being consumed across more media,” he said. “The Internet has become an essential channel in the way the majority of Americans consume news content today with nearly 3 out of 5 Internet users reading newspapers online each month.”

See the full statistics here.

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June 03 2010


AP updates Stylebook with social media guidelines

The Associated Press (AP) has updated its Stylebook to include 42 new entries under a special social media section. The new edition of the style guide, which is widely used in the US and internationally, has changed its recommendation for “web site” to “website” and now includes terms such as “app”,” blogs”, “click-throughs”, “friend” and “unfriend”, “metadata”, “RSS”, “search engine optimisation”, “smart phone”, trending, widget and wiki. (Not all necessarily in keeping with the Journalism.co.uk house style…)

The new Stylebook also includes advice for journalists using social media for their work, in particular tips on how to use Twitter and Facebook effectively.

Full release at this link…

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March 31 2010


March 25 2010


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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Herald Online: AOL’s hyperlocal network Patch gets charitable to fund community news

Patch, AOL’s growing network of hyperlocal news and information websites in the US, has announced the foundation of a new charitable arm, Patch.org:

Patch.org will partner with community foundations and other organisations to launch Patch sites and bring objective local news and information to communities and neighborhoods around the world that lack adequate news media and online local information resources.

The Patch.org sites will employ a local journalist to produce original news and content, and aggregate material and information created by the community. Any revenue earned by the sites will be invested back into the community they serve, a press release says.

Full release at this link….

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March 12 2010


Video: US TV reporter loses it – technology failure?

Courtesy of YouTube user MindElation, the clip below has been doing the rounds, but it’s worth a Friday viewing. The footage shows a US TV reporter losing his cool while presenting a live report – which his anchor later attributes to a technology failure. As the description says: “Every newscaster has similar things happen, but if they’re lucky it’s never captured on video.”

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March 05 2010


NewsTrust.net: The hunt for bad journalism

US professor Howard Rheingold and his Stanford University students have been reviewing coverage of politics by US newspapers, broadcasters and news sites, assessing levels of trust and bias in news stories, opinion pieces and coverage by media watchdog organisations.

This ‘News Hunt’ looked at stories published between 18 February and 2 March:

For this News Hunt, NewsTrust editors hand-picked stories for review, focusing mostly on political topics covered by mainstream sources, with the goal of highlighting flawed or questionable stories from some of the news outlets that people read and watch most (e.g. cable news and talk radio). We also took great care to feature stories representing political viewpoints from the left, right and center. What we wound up with is not a “worst of the worst” list, but a round-up of stories from a variety of media that our staff and community found to be examples of bad journalism.

Read more about the News Hunt’s findings at this link…

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February 27 2010


Can Citizen Journalists in South Africa Help Open up Government Data?

Communities need information, particularly information about what government is doing, and how people can access government services. In South Africa, this information doesn't flow so much as trickle -- and often a paper-based trickle at that!

The fact that communication between government and us citizens is so poor is arguably part of the reason why we are reportedly second only to China in terms of the number of social protests per day (and they have 20 times our population).

In many areas, government is doing more than people know, but the lack of data sharing and access to basic information helps incite anger and frustration. We lack useful information in electronic format about everything from police and ambulance response times, waste disposal, street light repair, and pothole repair, not to mention bigger issues like the provision of good social housing, the construction of new medical clinics, and data about school performance. better. Here in South Africa, anger often translates into marches, strikes, barricades and sometimes riots,. People have figured out that there is nothing like a well organised, small riot to open up the information flow.

With this background in mind, the recent Knight Commission report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital age, is helping our Iindaba Ziyafika project in South Africa. We're approaching some of our information flow priorities with fresh insights. The deep thinking that has gone into the Commission's report -- and its unusual citizen-centric perspective as opposed to focusing on the typical 'how do we save newspapers or journalism' approach -- is refreshing and useful.

The three big areas the commission explored, with a U.S.-only focus, are: "Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information," "Enhancing the Information Capacity of Individuals," and "Promoting Public Engagement." Below are some reflections on the first area; some thoughts on what we're doing (or trying to do) in terms of the second and third will follow in the next few weeks.

Making Information Available

First, in terms of "Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information," we've been struck by how much information there is about government, and yet how historically inaccessible it has been, even in advanced democracies like the U.S. That much is clear from the Commission's work. And, in South Africa, much of this information is even less easily available, and rarely in digital form.

The same is even more true in the rest of Africa. Basic information -- the building blocks of representative democracy -- such as knowing the timing of a local government body meeting (a city council, or municipal executive), what the agenda is etc. can be seriously hard to come by. And if available, getting it as Word document is often just as challenging.

There are other challenges, too. Though the press, and newspapers in particular, have had the resources to attend government meetings and access agendas, minutes and other documents, they have only reported on a small subset of the available information. This was usually what was deemed the most interesting through the usual but often fairly arbitrary agenda setting of editors.

There's a lot more wrong with the traditional news reporting approach than just narrow subject selection. Most of the time, reporting is about 'what's happened,' rather than what's still coming up, and why we should sit up and take notice. In other words, the news is so often about decisions made, and issues that we can often no longer do much about.

We're finding that a more proactive, anticipatory (and participatory) journalism is more essential in areas where the municipality or local authority does not make unmediated information easily available.

As Peter M Shane, the executive director of the Commission mentioned in a subsequent speech about the Knight commission's work:

A community without public accountability suffers from unresponsive government. Neglect is common, corruption all too plausible. Money is wasted, as government officials are slow and awkward at doing what other governments do quickly and nimbly. Voter turnout is low, not because people are satisfied, but because people are resigned.

Sadly, these words could describe almost all local government in South Africa. Some are better than others, and our area, the Makana municipality, is one of the most efficient and effective. But they are not communication champs. And part of their relative efficiency, if this is fairly measured, relates, I believe, to having an independent newspaper, Grocott's Mail, doing journalism in our town for 140 years without a break.

In 2008, Grocott's Mail even took the local municipality and mayor to court after they withdraw local government advertising in the wake of a series of critical stories about financial mismanagement by the council. The case was big deal, and widely followed in South Africa. The council didn't have a leg to stand on, which is why they eventually settled out of court. But this only happened after our dogged local paper was deprived of critical advertising revenue for many months.

Asking Citizen Journalists to Step Up

Taking up the Knight Commission's cudgels to maximise the amount of information (and ensure it is both credible and "the right information at the right time"), we've been focusing on finding the information and getting it out. To do this, we're embracing citizen journalism in more complex ways than before, including exploring different ways of training, editing, nurturing, rewarding and recognizing our citizen journalists. We're doing this because, like many small newspapers, we don't have the labour power to cover all the important civic issues well. We're hoping our citizen journalists will be more able to do the work of ferreting out existing data and information.

Most times, the information is there -- it just takes a really patient person to find it, stand in queues, whine, beg, plead and push... It is not for the easily discouraged, nor is it easy to do for our few busy professional journalists, each of whom has a few pages to fill virtually on their own.

So how best to inculcate a desire (and impart the necessary skills) to push and prod and persevere to get information out of every level of the state? And what does one do when a lot of the information and data is in the same format as it was before the digital age? Will people volunteer to photocopy the daily handwritten police reports and capture them in a digital system? Or do we try and encourage local government to catch the digital wave faster than it has so far?

In my next post, I'll share more of what we're doing, and share some big milestones and next steps for getting more useful news and information in and out. This includes ideas for allowing citizen journalists to join the usually jealously protected daily news diary meeting at the paper, and some ideas of how unearth and digitize much needed sources of information in our small town.

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February 22 2010


US Digest: paidContent 2010, Tiger Woods, Scientology vs. journalism, and more

Starting today, the editor’s blog will feature an afternoon roundup of all things media from over the pond. From the hugely important to the very inconsequential, check in for a choice of America’s journalistic goings on.

paidContent 2010

The issue of paid content was high on the agenda at the end of last week with the paidContent 2010 conference in New York. In attendance were big names from the New York Times: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman and publisher; Janet Robinson, president and CEO; and Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, who were interviewed at length by ContentNext’s Staci D. Kramer on “metered news and more”.

According to the paidContent coverage, “while they were willing to buy lunch, they weren’t ready to feed the appetite for detail about plans for NYTimes.com to go metered in 2011″.

See the video here

And the full conference coverage from the paidContent site here

“Does the bleeding ever stop at 425 Portland?”

image by Stephen Cummings

Presumably, ways of making newspaper journalism pay were also high on the agenda over in Minneapolis at the end of last week, where the Star Tribune announced that five voluntary redundancies would be offered to reporters and editors. “Does the bleeding ever stop at 425 Portland?” asks MinnPost.

Staff memo here

Pessimistic stories of this kind, including this one, continue to be thoughtfully aggregated by blogger and pessimist extraorinaire Fading To Black. Not featured on this chronicle of US newspaper decline was the story that down in South Florida, rather than asking him if he’d like to pack his things, the Sun Sentinel handed production maintenance manager Bob Simons a $25,000 spot bonus and a Caribbean holiday. Simons’ suggestion of a different supplier for equipment apparently saved the paper $1 million.

A very different staff memo here

AP underperforms on non-profit content distribution

An interesting story from the Nieman Jounalism Lab reports on the outcome of Associated Press’ decision to distribute content from America’s top four non-profit news outlets: ProPublica, Center for Public Integrity, Centre for Investigative Reporting, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

The six-month project was launched back in June 2009 at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Baltimore, “with great fanfare” according to Bill Buzenberg, executive director of Centre for Public Integrity.

It seems however that the scheme hasn’t been successful so far, with admissions from both the AP and the non-profit directors that very little content has made it into print. A poor distribution model is to blame apparently, with new non-profit content not being sufficiently flagged.

“They haven’t done the technical backup work to really make it work,” said Buzenburg. “They haven’t made it a priority.”

However, hope remains for the project from both sides. Buzenburg added: “This is a good idea. I’d like it to work [...] The potential of this remains.”

“It’s early yet – we’re only six months into it,” said John Raess, AP’s San Francisco bureau chief.

“We want our celebrities to show a little leg”

image by Jim Epler

Much of the weekend’s media coverage in the US was given over to Tiger Wood’s much-publicised public apology on Friday morning. Mediabistro nailed the best format for coverage by inviting readers to pen Haikus for the Mediabistro facebook page. Submissions include this clear frontrunner from Pamela Ross:

“Questions? Don’t go there.
My Thanksgiving meal was ruined.
Thanks. Now. Watch this swing.”

With more syllables at his disposal, David Carr of The New York Times’ Media & Advertising pages goes into a little more detail, considering the relationship between celebrity sportsmen and the media:

Athletes and actors would like for us to focus on the work, while reporters know that their editors and audience want more, because while the work is visible, we want our celebrities to show a little leg.

But once this bit of leg, so strictly concealed by Woods for so long, has been shown, why are the media who feed on it so relentlessly owed some sort of apology?

Those of us who have had some experience with human frailties all know why Tiger Woods did what he did last Friday, which was to get in a room with people he had hurt or embarrassed to say he was “deeply sorry” for what he had done. That part made sense, the beginning of a process of amends.

I just don’t know what the rest of us were doing there.

A sentiment echoed this side of the pond by Charlie Brooker today in the Guardian.

There are those that must hope that, now this enigmatic character has addressed his hushed audience, and delivered his much anticpated talk, that the hype, rumour, pontificating, and endless media coverage will die away.

Apple wields knife over TV show prices

It is fair to say that at least a few people thought exactly the same thing about Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the iPad. But the so-called saviour of the newspapers is back in the media spotlight this week with news that Apple are considering halving the current price of television shows on iTunes from $1.99 to 0.99 cents. Media commentators have hailed the iTunes store’s 125 million registered customers as a potential liferaft for sinking newspaper publishers, and major networks may be wary of waving a pin anywhere near that customer base by rejecting the move, instead gambling on even a small percentage increase in those paying for TV offsetting the significant price drop.

image by curiouslee

Meanwhile, Adobe and Conde Nast have jumped right aboard the good ship iPad, unveiling “a new digital magazine experience based on WIRED magazine” at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California.

The Church of Scientology vs. the St. Petersburg Times, Round 1

And finally, from Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes at the Washington Post, the improbable story that the Church of Scientology, in a tit-for-tat response to investigations by the St. Petersburg Times of Tampa Bay, has organised some investigative journalism of its own.

image by Ben Sutherland

The church has officially hired three ‘veteran reporters’ – a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former “60 Minutes” producer, and the former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors – to look in detail at the newspapers’ conduct. Steve Weinberg, the former IRE executive, who was paid $5,000 to edit the study, says that the agreement stipulates the church publish the study in full or not at all.

Weinberg claims that in spite the study being bankrolled by the church, it would be objective. Neil Brown, executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times, thinks otherwise:

“I ultimately couldn’t take this request very seriously because it’s a study bought and paid for by the Church of Scientology.”

Brown seems to feel a bit hard done by in this instance:

“I counted up something like six or seven journalists the church has hired to look into the St. Petersburg Times. I’ve just got two looking into the Church of Scientology,” he complained.

No fair.

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January 22 2010


Poll: What social media is used by journalists in UK and Europe?

The results of an extensive study by media communications intelligence firm Cision and George Washington University suggest that the use of social media sites and networks has become a fundamental part of US journalists’ research when working on stories.

“While this is a survey of North American journalists, we believe the findings mirror behaviour among journalists in the UK, more so than elsewhere in Europe,” says Falk Rehkopf, head of research for Cision Europe, about the study.

“There might be some lag in wider adoption, but media professionals are ahead of the curve when it comes to social media – such that, in many ways, Twitter can be thought of as a de facto social network for the UK media industry.”

As such, below is our own, though less extensive poll for journalists and editors working in the UK and Europe – what social media are you using?

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