WAN-IFRA

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Being paid to write about the person who actually pays your salary is quite a big challenge, especially if you care about maintaining your credibility.

The issue is the focus of a New York Times article about the difficult position of Henry Goldman, the journalist within Bloomberg who is charge of writing about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

For ten years - the article highlighted - his assignment has included chronicling Bloomberg's ups and downs for the global New York news service. Now Goldman is facing hard times as the mayor had a rough start of his third term and his approval ratings are the lowest of the last eight years.

It won't therefore be easy for Goldman to maintain his "down-the-middle" style as he risks being harshly criticized for overly positive coverage but at the same time he risks the ire of
Mr. Bloomberg himself.

Mr. Goldman's work has been generally praised by his colleagues: "I don't think Henry would put up with that [any direct pressure to write or not to write something], NYT reported Joyce Purnick, author of a book about Bloomberg, as saying. Bloomberg News' coverage of the mayor has not escaped criticism, however. An Editor & Publisher article criticised its coverage of how the Mayor handled a blizzard that paralyzed the city last December, that the E&P defined "his worst political moment".

Bitter criticism was directed at Bloomberg for being in Bermuda during the Christmas weekend storm, E&P noted, the most bitter of them being a New York Times article. But the Bloomberg News team that covered the event, mostly to gauge its economic impact on Wall Street - the article claimed - totally ignored the press criticism of those days an the debate around the matter.

Goldman's coverage of Bloomberg is usually connected with news events and he has covered some of the central controversies of the mayor's tenure, the NYT underlined. It underlined also that all of Goldman's articles concerning Bloomberg include a disclosure about the fact the mayor is the owner of the news site.

The practice of publishing a disclosure should be a rule in cases that involves conflicts of interest but it is not always common. In Italy for example an article of the "Code of practice of business reporting" [Carta dei doveri dell'informazione economica] states that "The journalist has to provide appropriate standards regarding the transparency of the newspaper's ownership. Readers have to be reminded of who the owner of the paper is every time that an article covers economic or financial aspects that directly involve the owner or could eventually favour as well as damage him/her".

Despite the existence of this rule however, it is not always observed.

"Mr. Goldman is not the only journalist who has to contend with covering an employer. Both The Times and The Wall Street Journal have media reporters, for instance, but they cover their own publications only episodically", the NTY article noted.

Recently NBC was criticized for not covering a controversial story involving its parent company General Electric as well as the New York Times itself, through its ombudsman, analysed how difficult is to cover one's own publication.

Does a satisfactory solution exist? Admitting the conflict of interest through a disclosure is already a good start.

Sources: NYT, Editor & Publisher


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-22 10:57

The video gaming industry has been changing in recent times and due to its digitization it is facing a disruption. This creative destruction resembles the changes the music industry underwent with the rise of Napster and the digitization of song files, Charles-Axel Dein wrote (via OWNI.eu) quoting EA Sports' Peter Moore.

"Thanks to mobile devices and social networks, games are reaching new customers. Publishers target these "casual gamers" with simpler gameplay, no required continuous commitment (you can play in short bursts) and new business models (low pay-per-downloads price or free-to-play)," he wrote.

Games have been recently growing in popularity with the news too - with expressions like the "gamification of the news" creeping into our vocabulary.
Dein referred to the expression meaning "to instil some game dynamics in [their] software".

Robert Quigley on Old Media, New Tricks explained it as "taking video-game style processes and applying them to everything, from the way we educate our children to the way we keep up with what's going on in the community".

The article cited some examples of news organizations that are trying to add game mechanisms to online news, hoping for broader their online community and gaining reader loyalty. "Users can earn points by reading articles or play HuffPo's "Predict the News" feature, which launched at the end of last year", it reported.

Other news outlets have also introduced some forms of game, as the Cincinnati Enquirer did through the app Porkappolis, or using Foursquare and Tackable, which both incorporate game mechanisms to encourage user engagement.

Another news-related social gaming experiment is on Philly.com, the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News, where users earn points for some activities they do, such as visiting the site, reading articles, sharing content, and leaving comments.

The goal of social games - to encourage deeper engagement and participation - is nowadays fundamental for news organizations to build a loyal community and therefore readership. However, some in the news industry probably will turn up their noses at the idea of "games" being incorporated into their work.

As Philip Trippenbach said at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia last week, talking about the "G word", many will probably say "Oh you want to turn my really serious story into a game...".
Trippenbach is the editor-in-chief of Citizenside, a citizen photo and video journalism agency based in Paris.

"The most powerful interactive form is gaming, in terms of interactive journalism, that is where the win is. When you talk about gaming baked right into the heart of a package, that is very profound", Journalism.co.uk reported him as saying said.

"I loathe the word 'gamification'. It's often bandied about in an attempt to sound cutting-edge, but it's a glib summation of a deep principle, and too easily dismissable. There's no magic sprinkling of game chocolate sprinkles that will turn a crappy site into a deeply rewarding user experience. Game dynamics are deeper than that", Trippenbach wrote.

Journalists have a lot to learn from games, in Trippenbach's opinion, as in terms of interacting gaming can be extremely powerful.

Citizenside, he explained in Perugia, has a point-based game system and users get points based on how many activities they do, from submitting photos, to making comments as well as depending on the number of users viewing their images.

This encourages users to be involved in the community and at the same time it helps the Citizenside editorial team to assess and verify the quality of information that users submit.
People are motivated by reputation within communities and the points-system creates a ranking of reliability. The more you are engaged in the community, the higher is your level and the more is trustworthy your contribution.

"If we get a picture from a level 35 user, well, it takes a long time to get to level 35 or 45, and the Citizenside editorial team know that that user has demonstrated commitment to our values," he said.

Trippenbach also focused on the differences between stories and issues. Not all the important things people should know are stories, actually many are not, he underlined. Many are just issues and issues are difficult to be told in a normal storytelling written article. "Many things, like global climate change, aren't stories. They're issues that can manifest as stories in specific cases", he wrote. And play is a powerful way of learning.

Gaming doesn't necessarily mean the fully-fledged computer games we play on a PlayStation, it can be the simple interactive engagement of the Guardian MPs expenses app, or the New York Times' Budget Puzzle interactive, in which you attempt to solve the deficit, Journalism.co.uk noted.

Another example of how news organizations have implemented news and factual games in their site is the American Public Media's (one of the nation's public radio producers) Budget Hero, whose aim is to seek to provide a values- and fiscal-based lens for citizens to examine policy debates during this election year. The budget model, policy impacts and pro/con arguments have been rigorously researched, expertly validated and represent non-partisan options, the site claims.

Gaming is just one of the possible ways to try go beyond the "normal" article format and to find different ways to tell stories. Data journalism, as the Guardian MPs expenses app showed, is one of those.

"We are telling stories from different information. The data desk has moved into the newsroom: that's where we get involved in the news", Simon Rogers, editor Guardian Datablog and Datastore said in Perugia.

Data journalism and data visualization could also learn something from game design, Philip Man wrote (via OWNI.eu). The purpose of visualization, he wrote, is to give insight and to increase our ability to perform cognitive processes like discovery, decision-making and explanation. Man tried to apply the concepts of involvement, motivation and narrative, key concepts of game design and 3D learning environments, to the data visualization. You can find the whole article here.

Sources: OWNI.eu (1), (2), Old Media, New Tricks, Journalism.co.uk, Trippenbach.com (1), (2), Budget Hero
Images source: MyEyeSees and garryknight @ Trippenbach.com


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-21 11:21

The University of Colorado's Board of Regents voted last week to close the journalism school at its Boulder campus, marking the first time that the university has shuttered an entire college, the Columbia Journalism Review reported. Surprisingly, the article noted that the outcome is not as bad as some feared it would be as it doesn't mean journalism won't be preserved as education within the university. You can find the all journalism projects of CU here.

The UK Press Complaint Commission (PCC) announced the appointment of three new public members of the Commission. The three appointments are Lord Grade of Yarmouth, His Honour Judge Jeremy Roberts QC and Michael Smyth CBE. As the site reported, the PCC received almost three thousand applications for the positions after a wide advertising campaign supported by the press.

Not only the broadband and mobile phones segments, but also print newspapers are growing in India, according to editor of a national business daily Sanjaya Baru, as Deccan Chronicle reported. As Baru said India has more daily newspapers than any other nation and led in paid-for daily circulation, surpassing China for the first time in 2008. Twenty of the world's 100 largest newspapers are Indian and newspaper circulation rose a further eight per cent last year.

To raise money for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, some of the world's finest photographers came to work together on an iPad and iPhone photo documentary app. The app is available for one dollar, and all money raised by sales will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. Techland marvels at how the iOS App Store is used for increasingly diverse purposes and predicts that there will be more fundraising apps on the horizon.

Business Insider reported on the newly published income statement of Rue89, the biggest French "online first" news site. While the company's magazine is slightly profitable, on the whole the site is loosing money, albeit not as rapidly as before. The article notes that some of Rue89's revenues come from services such as building websites and journalistic training.

For more industry news please see WAN-IFRA's Executive News Service


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-20 19:12

The 2011 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, April 18, and for the first time, a web-only piece won one of the coveted awards.

Other peculiarities this year included the fact that no newsroom dominated the Prizes - 11 split 13 awards between them - as Poynter underlined. And despite the jury recommending three finalists, the Pulitzer Board decided not to award any news organization for the Breaking News Reporting category.

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times won two prizes each, and surprisingly the investigative report award went to Paige St. John of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for a property insurance investigation.

Most interesting is the prominence of online-only news organizations, as the independent and non-profit ProPublica took home its second Pulitzer. As Nieman noted, unlike the last year prize, won by Sheri Fink for Investigative Reporting, which was published in partnership with The New York Times Magazine, this year's prize was for a web-only series and it didn't move through a partner newspaper.

"This was the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to an online news organization. This year's Prize is the first for a group of stories not published in print", wrote ProPublica's founder and editor-in-chief Paul Steiger.

"ProPublica reporters Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for their stories on how some Wall Street bankers, seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of their clients and sometimes even their own firms, at first delayed but then worsened the financial crisis. We at ProPublica are delighted by this award, and deeply honoured", he continued.

Given that radio reporting is not eligible for the award, Steiger has publicly acknowledged the contribution of the public radio's programs "Planet Money" and "This American Life", with whose teams ProPublica partnered for the story.

On the increasing importance of online-only content, Nieman noted that it's also worth noting that more projects are entering the awards that include a digital component. In this year's journalism entries nearly a third featured online content, which is up from just one quarter last year.

Three were the finalists named for the Breaking News Reporting category (Chicago Tribune staff, a joint staff entry by The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald and staff of The Tennessean, Nashville) but the Board, which decides after juries in each category makes their recommendations, reached no consensus on it and they weren't able to reach the majority vote necessary to win.

"While it is the first time that we did not have a winner in this category, it is the 25th time the Board has not awarded a Prize in a category" Poynter reported Sig Gissler, Pulitzer Prize administrator, as saying. "I am sometimes told by editors that they are doubtful that they have covered a large enough disaster in their community to win, " Gissler added.

As the Columbia Journalism Review noted, the coverage of the role of Wall Street in the financial crisis, even if the crisis is three years old, still gained a prominent place in the award. ProPublica's Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein's stories for example - the article highlighted - represent a model for how to turn arcane financial stuff into a story that everybody can understand.

Moreover, Talking Biz News noted that four winners and five finalists are form of business journalism, rom investigative pieces to commentary to editorial writing about business and economics news and issues.

Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal won the editorial writing prize for "his well crafted, against-the-grain editorials challenging the health care reform advocated by President Obama", the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's story won for investigate reporting and David Leonhardt of the New York Times won in the commentary category for "his graceful penetration of America's complicated economic questions, from the federal budget deficit to health care reform."

David Leonhardt of The New York Times won in the commentary category for what the committee said was "his graceful penetration of America's complicated economic questions." The Times's Clifford J. Levy and Ellen Barry won the prize for international reporting for "their dogged reporting that put a human face on the faltering justice system in Russia, remarkably influencing the discussion inside the country", the paper reported.

You can find the full list Journalism and Letters, drama and music categories here.

The Prizes are awarded by the Columbia University and were awarded for the first time in 1917. As the site states, for the Journalism competition, entrants may be of any nationality but work must have appeared in a U.S. newspaper published at least once a week, on a newspaper's Web site or on an online news organization's Web site.

  • - The only U.S. president to be awarded a Pulitzer was John F. Kennedy in 1957 in the Biography category for his book "Profiles in Courage".
  • - The correct pronunciation is "PULL it sir."
  • - You can find the biography of Joseph Pulitzer here.

Sources: The Pulitzer Prizes (1), (2), (3), Poynter (1), (2), Nieman, ProPublica, CJR, Talking Biz News, NYT
The image is the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal which was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French.


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-19 14:00

Among a multitude of innovations, the arrival of the Internet has put up challenges to the quality of information. When traditional news outlets held the monopoly on news it was their duty to provide and to assess the quality of information. They were the filter between the mass of info and the readers.

But who is going to determine quality information standards after the arrival of the Net?
Has the notion of quality changed in the information ecosystem, and if yes, how has it changed? What is the relationship between quality and quantity online?

Answering these questions and facing these challenges is the aim of Fondazione Ahref, an Italian think tank presented last week at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

Fondazione Ahref was born in Trento last year and has been inspired by the impressive results of some US non-profit news organizations, like ProPublica or the Knight Foundation.

President of the foundation, Luca De Biase, said: "The Internet and social media era has seen the public coming into play as an active participant, a public enabled to participate through new technologies. The culture of the Web is to encourage action by those that use it. The 'Google system' incentivizes the practice of being linked to by someone. Every platform, due to its structure, produces some behaviour incentivizing action. The Fondazione Ahref's aim is to study and research in order to create forms that incentivize citizens to participate to the information and to the quality of information".

"In this context then it is no longer the position of a cultural authority to define the quality of information. That role is now taken on by those generating the information, by those encouraging a critical approach, and those participating in the experience - creating, in the spirit of serving, a role that is no longer a means to earning a living" but a continued research, De Biase wrote.

Ahref owes its unusual name to the HTML code for adding links, in a reference to the early Internet times when the Web was written in html and specifically, to the qualifying moment of that writing - the link. In Arabic, De Biase said, the word means friendship or to agree on something.

The aim then is to agree on a method that qualifies the way the information is produced. The quality of information can be assessed through the common method adopted by the Anglo-Saxon press: transparency and an empirical attention to facts and data and to what is verifiable.

Fondazione Ahref wants to define standards and parameters of how to inform through the news. In this process two things emerge as fundamental: the responsibility and the accountability of what is written and at the same time its credibility, which can be proved only by the content of what has been written.

The foundation develops several projects. Among these there is TIMU, a web crowdsourcing platform that allows the collaborative production of information amongst citizens. Timu is a Swahili word that means "team".

Anyone who has suggestions about a story or an inquiry can submit it to the community and citizens can participate and collaborate to report on it sharing ideas, documents, comments. The prerequisite is the agree on a shared research method about how information are gathered. Everyone can participate, individuals as well as organizations.

The main goal is to promote an active citizenship and participatory and conscious information. The model should be participative but at the same time rigorous in terms of methods.

It shares the same ideas of supporting quality online journalism as Jaimelinfo,
the web platform for crowd-funding journalism created in France by Rue89 and of Spot.Us in the US.

TIMU's first inquiry looks at concerns of "the school left behind", regarding students dropping out of school in the south of Italy. It was carried out with the collaboration of Fondazione per il Sud (Foundation for the South).

Another project is Wavu, a platform for "meta-journalism": information about journalism, social media, blogs and social networks. The name refers to another Swahili word that means "network", in the sense of a net belonging to the people. The aim is to provide a forum of reflections about how it could be possible to inform.

Last but not least there is iData, a project about data journalism in Italy. Despite this having already attracted much interest internationally, it is still quite innovative in Italy. "iData aims to develop the first Italian open source platform for data-driven journalism. The platform is fully licensed by Creative Commons, and will be linked to a range of communities that can cooperate in the collection, production and processing of data", the presentation on the site said.

Guido Romeo, responsible for the initiative, said iData looks at the best examples of the Interactive News unit of the New York Times and the Guardian DataBlog. The first appearance of iData was through its blog, Opendata .

Even if legislation on accessing public data for citizens in Italy is far behind the Anglo-Saxon ones (environmental and health data, for example, are difficult to access due to the Law No. 241 of 1990 that restricts the right of access to information for "interested" citizens), several sources and public databases however exist.

As De Biase underlined, Italy has been debating for some time on how to improve the quality of information in order to provide a more informed and responsible citizenship. "Fondazione Ahref has decided stopping to just talk and to start to do something."


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Federica Cherubini

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2011-04-18 18:12

"In times of economic pressure, sending a foreign correspondent who expects to be treated like a TV star is too expensive."

"Foreign correspondents tend to report just from their perspective and from the one of their audience."

"Foreign correspondents are out of date, we have Twitter and social networks, blogs, aggregators now providing news from everywhere and moreover we can just hire local journalists. We don't need to send correspondents to cover news anymore."

These are some of the criticisms raised regarding the role of the foreign correspondent in this day and age.

So we do still need them?

This provocative question opened the panel "Death of the foreign correspondent?" yesterday at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

Charlie Beckett, director of the think tank POLIS at the London School of Economics, Mimosa Martini, correspondent for the Italian Channel 5 News, Mort Rosenblum former Associated Press correspondent and Richard Sambrook, until March 2010 director of the BBC's Global News division and author of the book "Are Foreign Correspondents Redundant?" discussed the subject.

"This is a jet-age tower of babel. Everybody's talking, nobody's listening", said Mort Rosenblum. "Anyone that has covered Middle East for twenty minutes knows it's not a domino effect, it's more complex, it's backgammon. We need people who can explain, someone prepared to explain us what's going on. We need professional correspondents."

The role that Twitter and other social media played in the Arab World uprisings is significant. But Rosenblum noted that it's not enough: "we have got to be in place, know the story before it happens. We have to understand,"he said.

Martini agreed that only the experience and the preparation of a long-time foreign correspondent could provide a fully context comprehension, distinguishing between facts and propaganda.

However, she said, citing cost-cutting for reducing the role of the foreign correspondent, it's in part just unfounded as new technologies allow journalists to do their job for cheaper. She cited her experience in Egypt, when she remained without her cameramen and she managed to produce reports single-handedly with her computer and her camera.

The role of foreign correspondent is changing fundamentally, however. As Richard Sambrook said, "we need to be farmers rather than hunter-gatherers of information". The answer to the title of his book ["Are Foreign Correspondents Redundant?"], he said, is not no, but rather "no, but".

Social media can now to an extent compete with news outlets and because of globalisation it has become more difficult to be a foreign correspondent. But they still play the important role of cultural bridge - between what they are reporting on to whom they are reporting too. Even if he/she has to adapt himself to changing times, the foreign correspondent is needed now as much as they have ever been. Sambrook also agreed on the role Twitter is playing. "Connections are fundamental, but they are not presence. You need to have a proper background to be able to verify news on Twitter."

Then we still need an accurate witnessing of events, deciphering and setting them in local context and interpreting of what is going on in this particular place, at this particular time, in a broader comparative and historical frame. As Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian, "Witnessing, deciphering, interpreting".

Sources: IJF, Guardian


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-15 21:07

The journalist's job is to report the truth, but there are places by for doing this, reporters put their lives at risks. Not only in Pakistan and Mexico, which were the most deadly countries for journalists in 2010, but also in Calabria, in southern Italy.

Journalists under threat in this region were the subject of of the session entitled "Calabria: siren land" held yesterday at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy.

It emerged that life for journalists who just want to do their job - to report fact - could become really dangerous in Calabria. Bullets shot at a car, intimidating phone calls, burnt cars, letters containing death threats: twenty journalists were heavily threatened just in 2010, said "Ossigeno per l'informazione 2010", a report on information and journalism on the news overshadowed by violence in Italy.
Lucio Musolino is now freelance journalist, reporting on organized crime in southern Italy for the TV channel LA7 and the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano. Previously, he was a reporter for the regional newspaper Calabria Ora, from which he was fired after - he claims - having investigated alleged links between organised crime and local politicians. Those articles broke the equilibrium between the editorial direction of the paper and its publisher and soon after, nine employees resigned, included the editor-in-chief.

After having published articles on a police operation involving 'Ndrangheta criminals, who had been arrested, and the alleged connections with some politicians, he received threats, including a bottle of petrol under his house.

"This is not just my story, but that of a group of colleagues. Suddenly we didn't work for our newspaper anymore", he said. "We didn't anything particularly heroic, we have just done our work in a place where accuracy is an anomaly".

After those articles Musolino noticed that his pieces started to be cut and censored. Every time he mentioned the name of Calabrian governor, for example, it was deleted. When he complained he was offered a transfer, and finally he was fired. Recently, a judge was ordered to reinstatement him.

This is a story that is emblematic of news in Calabria, he said - news is "drugged." There is news that doesn't get out, and there is a grey zone that surrounds and favours the 'Ndrangheta.

The problem for journalists is that they often are left alone, with no support.

"The 'Ndrangheta is angry with journalists for the same reasons it's angry with magistrates and police", said Pierpaolo Bruni, state prosecutor of Catanzaro.

"The most effective way to fight organized crime is to reduce the fog around omertà [the conspiracy of silence] that surrounds the 'Ndrangheta. We magistrates have the task of dealing with crimes. Journalists, on the other hand, have the important task of clearing the fog, disclosing not only crimes, but all kinds of improper behaviour".

Roberto Rosso is a journalist and author, together with Roberta Mani, of the book "Avamposto, nella Calabria dei giornalisti infami" (Outpost, in Calabria, land of infamous journalists).

"When we first arrived in Calabria in 2008 what shocked us was the gap between local information and national news. There is so much news that is not published on the national newspapers". Especially, he noticed, there was silence about colleagues who have been threatened. For every threatened journalist there are many more who don't do their job properly due to fear.

"Information about the violence that surrounds journalists in Calabria is a sort of a media security bodyguard: the more a story is known, the more a person becomes public, the more is difficult that something happen to that person", he said.

In past years local newspapers were used to consigning local information about organised crime in the last pages, without providing an overall view on it. But in the last years things are changed due to two new newspapers, Quotidiano di Calabria and Calabria Ora, which have started to do a new type of journalism, talking about the mafia in a systematic way, providing a complete frame for analyse the situation. But, actually, now, he noted, Quotidiano di Calabria is not the same as it was.

What is important - all the speakers noted - is that journalists unite, and are not left alone.

Sources: Ossigeno 2010


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Federica Cherubini

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2011-04-14 17:45

The New York Times' paywall has now been up for two weeks and Mashable analysed what impact it has had on the website's traffic. The article said that Experian Hitwise thinks it has the answer. The research and intelligence firm analyzed traffic data for NYTimes.com from before and after the paywall was erected. According to its data, traffic has declined overall by 5% to 15%.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, whose battle with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became the focus of the Oscar-winning film The Social Network, have lost an appeal over the size of the compensation paid to them, Reuters (via the Guardian) reported. A US appeals court ruled on Monday that the Winklevoss twins must accept a cash and stock settlement with the social networking site that had been valued at $65m. The twins argued the deal was unfair because Facebook hid information from them during talks, the article said.

Reuters Canada reported a source familiar with the matter said that Facebook is evaluating the Internet market in China, but that the social networking giant has not signed a business deal with any companies there. Shares of Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc rose more than 4 percent to $147.93 in Monday U.S. trade after media reports that Facebook and Baidu had formed a partnership.

Guardian's Roy Greenslade reported (via AFP/AllAfrica.com) two pro-opposition newspapers in north Sudan, the bi-weekly mouthpiece of the Sudanese communist party Al-Maydan and the daily Ajrass Al-Hurriyah, which is linked to the ruling party in south Sudan, have suspended publication in protest at government censorship and distribution blockages.

For more industry news please see WAN-IFRA's Executive News Service


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Federica Cherubini

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2011-04-12 19:41

Different news organizations are experimenting with different types of paywalls, from the full ones at the UK Times and Sunday Times to the metered one of the New York Times.

Lately, the San Francisco Chronicle and the UK Express and Star have planned to introduce digital subscriptions.

A unique successful model has not already been found, and The New Yorker, most of whose content has been paid-only for some time, is experimenting with a new way of accessing long-form journalism through a "like-gate" on its Facebook page.
As Damon Kiesow reported on Poynter this week the New Yorker is giving free access - for a limited time however - to a 12,000-word piece by Jonathan Franzen. "When users "Like" the magazine's Facebook page, they're given access to the "Fans Only" section. This week, that includes the full text of Franzen's story "Farther Away." It's also available for subscribers on The New Yorker's website", Kiesow wrote.

Traditionally - the article also noted - the New Yorker has kept most of its digital content behind a paywall but some features are free - in perpetuity - on the website.

The magazine, while having one million subscribers, had about 200,000 fans on Facebook and with the introduction of the "like-gate" attracted about 1,600 new fans.

New Yorker spokeswoman Alexa Cassanos told Kiesow that the Franzen story was chosen because it represents the type of writing The New Yorker is known for.

Asked by Simon Owens about the decision of introducing this "like-gate" access, Cassanos said: "What we wanted to do is find some kind of content that would allow us to engage with people who would want to engage with our content on a long-term basis. We didn't want to just choose something that's a flashy story. What we were looking to do is obviously broaden our reach, but we wanted to do it with a story keeping with what The New Yorker does really, really well."

"Our goal with this isn't just to increase our fans," said Cassanos to Mashable. "We want to engage with people who want to engage on a deeper level."

As Mashable noted, The New Yorker is not the first magazine to try to use exclusive content to spur Facebook engagement. Self magazine last month held a "Dish with Kim" event in which fans got the chance to chat with Kim Kardashian by "Liking" Self.

Media outlets are trying different approaches to obtain the best from their Facebook pages, as for example has done The Independent that uses the Facebook like button to create niche feeds.

With the aim of helping journalists to find the best strategy to use the tool, Facebook launched a Facebook for journalists page on April 5. Interestingly the page, which had 18,178 people liking it on April 7, has now, at the time of writing, 37,518 fans.

Sources: Poynter, Simon Owens' blog, Mashable


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Federica Cherubini

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2011-04-12 14:14

Craig Silverman of RegretTheError.com on the Columbia Journalism Review reported on his talk with NPR Andy Carvin about the real-time verification system underlying his Twitter account.

Senior strategist at the National Public Radio, Andy Carvin became the "man who tweeted the revolution" and "the go-to source of information on Twitter during the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya", as the Guardian described him.

"Although Carvin had a network of blogger contacts in the region whom he used to check information being tweeted, what marks him out is his willingness to retweet unverified material and ask his followers for help to establish its accuracy", the Guardian's article said.

Silverman on CJR underlined that there are few established rules or journalistic policies for what he does. The main point is how to validate the onslaught of information he collects, how to validate news and sources and establish accuracy. No matter what name one decides to give to his work, what he does it's "somewhere between reporting and collaborative network journalism, and George Plimpton-like oral history, except that I'm doing it in real time in 140 characters", the Guardian reported him as saying.

"Just as Carvin is breaking ground in curation and crowdsourced verification, he is at the same time encountering new ethical conundrums that must be managed, as with everything else, in real-time", Silverman wrote.

Carvin counts on the collaboration of network of sources, asking for confirmations,

or simply reporting that news is unconfirmed...
"Some of these folks are working to actively overthrow their local regimes. I just have to be aware of that at all times. Perhaps the answer is transparency, so a certain person might be giving me good information but I should never forget that they are part of the opposition", he said to Silverman.

Carvin's followers are the engine that drives his reporting - Silverman noted. They help him translate, triangulate, and track down key information. They enable remarkable acts of crowdsourced verification, such as when they helped Carvin debunk reports about Israeli munitions in Libya. But they are by definition a slice of the population, an inexact (though curated) collection. They are people he has come to respect and admire; but he must always tell himself to check and challenge what he is told.

Someone calls what Carvin does "aggregation" or "curation", but whatever the name, it's still journalism.

As Laurent Haug noted on his blog (via OWNI.eu), "from a world whose problem was to add information, we now enter a world where the problem is to find which one can be ignored, hidden, or deleted."

"From a world of quantity, we now live in a world of quality. The key is not to have a lot of signals, but to have the right ones", he concluded.

Sources: CJR, Guardian, OWNI
Carvin tweets snapshots are taken from CJR's article
Photo source: Photograph Anna Gordon for the G


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-11 18:46

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