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Federica Cherubini

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Federica is the key contact for World Editors Forum speakers. She is also a journalist for WEF’s daily publication, the Editors Weblog

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In the age of an over-abundance of online information available more or less everywhere, why should readers still rely on newspapers as their news source?

Amongst other reasons, because they are trustworthy and still provide accurate, reliable, and thorough information. And, of course, because they recognize themselves in them.

In the effort to keep readers engaged with the paper, some newspapers are trying to improve their quality of information and underscore their commitment to accuracy and accountability.
That is what The Washington Post and the Register Citizen have done through giving a new way for readers to point out errors and submit correction requests.

As sometimes isn't easy for readers to submit correction requests, The Washington Post recently launched a report-an-error form, with the intention of making the process easier and more efficient, Poynter's Mallary Jean Tenore reported.

The form - the article said - which is displayed on every article page, asks readers to identify the type of error they've spotted and the section it appeared in. It also asks readers, "How can we fix it?" and "What do we need to know to improve future stories on this topic?"

Announced on February 7, the new correction form has been displayed on every story since The Washington Post's site redesign.

Tenore reported that as of last week, about 540 people had used the feature to submit corrections, suggestions and tips. Those that seem like errors are first sent to section editors, Managing Editor Raju Narisetti said. From there, they enter the Post's internal database for tracking correction requests. If there's a backlog, the system generates a message that's sent to section editors, who respond and make corrections when necessary.

Not all the requests for corrections really deal with errors: as Narisetti said by phone to Tenore, some are simply readers' opinions. Of the 540 corrections requests submitted using the report-an-error form, 32 pointed out factual errors and 180 pointed out bad links and grammatical errors. Of that 180, about one-third were issues with photo captions. The remaining requests came from readers who were expressing opinions about stories, the article reported.

After seeing the Post's new form also the Register Citizen has adopted the same correction request's layout.

The Register Citizen launched a fact-checking form in May 2010. "On any given day, we are going to make mistakes. We, unfortunately, do more than our share of simply "getting it wrong." Far more extensive, though, at our newspaper and other media outlets, are errors of omission. We don't go deep enough into a story, or we miss pieces of information and perspective that would change readers' perception of an issue", said publisher Matt DeRienzo.

"Launching a formal "Fact Check" program was our effort to, at the very least, declare our acknowledgement of this dynamic. It was an invitation to every reader, source and community member to hold us accountable and engage in correcting, improving or expanding the story", he said.

Corrections forms have two effects on newspapers: showing people that the publication cares about providing accurate information and keep readers engaged with the paper, making the sense of community stronger and keeping readers faithful.

Other similar commitments to accountability and accuracy include hiring an ombudsman or creating special features like the Fact Checker column at the Post.

"Here's what I learned in just one week: Post readers are discerning and demanding, know a thing or two about grammar, and often are just plain frustrated and angry, mostly at mistakes in print and online", Patrick B. Pexton, the Post's new ombudsman, wrote. "They care about what The Post covers, what it doesn't cover and why. They care about accurate locations and identifications in captions and stories, about data in graphics. They care about tone in writing. They care about national and local politics, culture, and sports. And they call and write from all over the country now because they're reading The Post online".

The number of corrections the Post runs has remained steady throughout the past five years, Narisetti said. But, as Tenore pointed out, the point is not much the number of corrections, but the number of errors that remain uncorrected. The article cited Scott Rosenberg, creator of MediaBugs, who said: "The best metric would be the ratio of total number of corrections to the total number of mistakes -- if you correct 90 percent of your mistakes that's better than correcting 25 percent."

Recently Scott Rosenberg and Craig Silverman of Regret the Error launched the Report an Error Alliance, which introduced a report an error button to be displayed on websites. The Alliance has now 105 members.

Sources: Poynter, Washington Post (1), (2), Register Citizen, Report an Error


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-05 14:08

For its series "Media Diet", The Atlantic Wire reported that of Clara Jeffery, co-editor of Mother Jones magazine. "Twitter has become my principal way to digest news and my use and abuse of it can begin ungodly early", she said. Adding that "if events demand, I watch breaking news on my desktop. Which is pretty much Al Jazeera English. For events in the Middle East, or course, but frankly they did a much better job of early Tsunami coverage that did CNN".

International programming director for MSN Peter Bale is to join CNN in a newly created position to grow the reach of its digital offerings outside the US, Journalism.co.uk reported.
In his new role as vice president and general manager of CNN International Digital - the article said - Bale will lead the editorial and commercial functions of CNN Digital outside the US.

Young people in the United States still like newspapers, according to a Harvard survey, Guardian Roy Greenslade reported (citing National Journal). Asked for their preferred source of political news, 49% of 18 to 29-year-olds - nicknamed the millennials - named papers.

The Independent (via Journalism.co.uk' Editors' Blog) reports on the 10th anniversary of the Financial Times' metered paywall going up. The paymodel is similar to the one recently adopted by the New York Times, allowing readers to access a limited number of articles for free before payment is required. The FT has notched up 210,000 digital subscribers, each paying at least £250 for a year's access, the article said.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-04 18:54

It's April Fools' Day today and Journalism.co.uk reported hoax headlines from the UK media morning news.

EJC's Magazine reported on the curse of yellow journalism in Pakistan. "The rise of sensationalist media and yellow journalism in Pakistan has led to the emergence of a debate in various circles in the country about the accountability of the media and the journalistic profession", the article said.

Trinity Mirror has launched a premium royal wedding app featuring content from monarchy experts, NewMediaAge reported. The app, called Wills and Kate: A Royal Love Story, costs £1.19 to download and it features commentary by royal family expert James Whitaker and details the progress of Prince William and Kate Middleton's relationship.

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }Zimbabwe has a new newspaper. The Mail has made its way to the streets, reported The Guardian. The paper is apolitical, but rumors say that a political party financed it. It is the country's 5th newspaper.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-01 16:56

Every day media outlets take decisions about what is newsworthy and what is not. Some news is necessarily left out. But what about when this news is quite major and is left out by just one news organization? It may well appear that that news was ignored voluntarily.

Such suspicions were raised by NBC News not reporting the story of General Electric Co. earned $14.2 billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1 billion in the United States, and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes, as the Washington Post reported.

The story got the front pages of many news sites but, surprisingly, wasn't even cited by any NBC's top-rated nightly newscasts or its leading Sunday public-affairs program, "Meet the Press".

Did NBC's silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?, wondered the Post.

"This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here," said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News, quoted in the article.

The article also quoted Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news, who said that ignoring stories about its parent company's activities is "part of a troubling pattern" for NBC News, citing a series of GE-related stories that NBC's news division has underplayed over the years.

It was noted - however - that the news was covered by NBC, just not on NBC. Rather, it was covered on MSNBC and CNBC, where Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Larry Kudlow addressed the tax situation.

Reporting on one's own parent company's mistakes is definitely a not easy challenge. The Post cited the examples of ABC and Fox, which have been chided by critics over the years for glossing over unflattering news about their parent companies, the Walt Disney Co. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., respectively.

As Yahoo's The Cutline reported, the New Yorker's former press critic, A.J. Liebling, famously said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

The Washington Post itself has received its share of criticism for failing to disclose its corporate interests at times, the article admitted, adding, however, that it has often reported its own bad news, from its quickly ditched plan to host closed-door "salons" for government officials and big-money customers in 2009 to a recent series of plagiarized articles by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.

Recently another paper to be criticized for not covering a story regarding itself was the New York Times for not publishing articles about its paywall in advance of its launch.

Sources: Washington Post, The Cutline, TVNewser


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-01 16:42

It has been two months since its launch and two weeks since the end of its free trial period, so how is Rupert Murdoch's tablet-only The Daily doing so far?

While there aren't official figures about how many subscriptions have been sold, Jeff Bercovici reported on how The Daily fared with consumers during the trial.
Publisher Greg Clayman said at the beginning of March that, even if he was not going to disclosure the exact numbers, downloads were in the hundreds of thousands.
Bercovici reported having been told that the app had been downloaded 500,000 times. "Since Apple has sold around 20 million iPads so far -- 14.8 million last year and an estimated 5 million to 8.8 million so far in 2011 -- that would mean something like 2.5 percent of iPad users have at least tried out The Daily", he noted.

He also has been told The Daily has 75,000 "regular users", meaning 15 percent of those who downloaded it liked it enough to keep reading it at least as long as it was free, he wrote.

But who are The Daily's readers?

A recent survey by media research firm knowDigital - reported by Jim Romenesko on Poynter - analysed iPad users to investigate the appeal of The Daily among real iPad users and identified that there are some obstacles to its obtaining widespread appeal.

The survey discovered that the perception among those with the greatest interest in news is that The Daily's content is lacking, that superior content is available elsewhere online for free and the expectation is that apps are purchased through one-time transactions, as opposed to the recurring subscription model The Daily employs, knowDigital press released announced.

The survey found that there are two distinct groups of iPad users: one consisting of consumers who are deeply engaged in serious news and are comfortable piecing together sources from various searches, RSS feeds and aggregation sites and the other, by contrast, is formed by light news users with less interest in hunting and gathering their own news and information.

"Generally speaking, consumers who are highly interested in news and are more tech savvy express little interest in The Daily in its current form. The product is very appealing, on the other hand, to consumers with a lower interest in news and less technological savviness", the report says.

The group of mostly tech savvy males (lighter users appear to be mostly females) who are heavier news consumers - the survey underlines - is not nearly as taken with the technical features of The Daily. They do not find the content unique or deep enough compared to what they can find elsewhere for free.

All users, however, agree on some points: the form of The Daily itself is novel and appealing in many regards, especially regarding the fact it offers more than the simple text and photos offered by most news websites. Consumers nearly universally describe the product as an app, not referring to it as a website, newspaper or magazine. And generally few are aware that some of The Daily stories update throughout the day, undermining the perception of it as a breaking news source.

You can find the whole survey here.

Jeff Jarvis made an assessment of The Daily's finances: it will need 750,000 subscribers at its current price of 99 cents a week or $40 a year before it starts breaking even.

As AFP (via Yahoo! News) reported, speaking at the launch event, Murdoch said he would consider it a success "when we sell millions." Will that day come?

Sources: AdAge - Mediaworks, Mixed Media, AFP (via Yahoo! News), BuzzMachine, Poynter


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-04-01 13:55

The Orwell Prize, which this year has a poverty theme, has announced extended longlists for both its journalism and blog prizes this week, journalism.co.uk reported. A total of 15 journalists, rather than the usual 12, were announced in the journalism prize longlist. In total, 22 bloggers made the longlist in the blogs category from 205 entries, including journalists, a politician and a prisoner.

Newspapers continue to demonstrate their value to Canadians every day as daily newspaper readership remains high in Canada, Editor and Publisher reported. See the entire report on Newspaper audience Databank.

The Independent has launched a free mobile application to allow smartphone users to access its content, Press Gazette reported. The app, which will allow access across iPhones, Android phones and Blackberry devices, is an upgrade from The Independent's previous app, which was solely designed for the iPhone.

James Murdoch is moving from London to New York to become deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, the Guardian reported. He will report to Chase Carey, who is number two at the media conglomerate run by Murdoch's father, Rupert. Murdoch Jr will also become chairman and chief executive of News Corp's international businesses, retaining his responsibilities for Europe and Asia.AdWeek reflected on the reason for James Murdoch promotion here and Guardian Roy Greenslade does here.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-03-31 18:37

On Monday March 28 Jaimelinfo.fr was launched in France: a new web platform for crowd-funding journalism whose principal aim to support quality online journalism ("soutenez la presse en ligne" says the subhead). It was created by the news site Rue89.

Crowd-funding works on the basis that readers can collectively finance news sites or projects. Citizens can now contribute to news in several ways, by sourcing (crowd-sourcing) or producing (citizen journalism) as well as funding.
The best known example of crowd-funding journalism is Spot.Us, a start up based in California's Bay Area, founded by David Cohn with help from the Knight Foundation.
Anyone can suggest a story about an important topic he/she thinks should be reported on. A budget for developing the story is fixed, and then anyone can donate towards covering the story, which will be investigated, once the amount is reached, by one or more professional reporters. Reporters can also create "Assignments" and invite the public to help them out.

However, while at Spot.Us is the public to commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics, Jaimelinfo counts on existing news websites and news blogs, LSDI reported. It has already gained the support of about 80 websites and blogs, Ouest-France reported.

"Any site or blog can subscribe to J'aime l'info (under certain conditions). It's possible to obtain financing for the development of your own site or blog as well as for specific projects, such as investigations, reportage, or the creation of a new column", the site announces.

The aim is to create a federation of French-speaking sites and blogs, Ouest-France reported. "To join the platform they have to suggest a story to investigate on as well as contribute with original content regularly. Every three months they have also to account for how they have used the funding. Users can choose which story or project to fund and the minimum to donate is 3€".

By Monday, about 20 projects had already been suggested, such as the one about reporting on "Nanotechnologies: between promises and risks" (€2000 target, promoted by the site Sciences et Démocratie).

As LSDI noted, it is still an experiment. Other similar experiences in France haven't had great success thus far. In October 2010, Glifpix.fr was launched, largely inspired by Spot.Us. In four months, LSDI reported, about 20 projects have been submitted but no one has raised the budget needed to start.

Internationally, another example of community-funded journalism project is the Italian Spot Us Italia. Although the site obtained authorisation to use the Spot Us name, it's not directly linked to the US platform and it's a for profit association.

An Australian version of Spot.Us is YouCommNews, launched in September 2010 by The Foundation for Public Interest Journalism, a division of the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University in Melbourne.

"The content is king, but the collaboration is queen", Spot Us's David Cohn said.

Sources: LSDI, Ouest-France, Jaimelinfo


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-03-31 18:25

People who think to have been publicly misrepresented or wrongly and inaccurately represented have the right to ask for a correction and to re-establish the truth about them. There is no doubt about it.

Accuracy and fair reporting are the fundamental pillars of journalism. It's the basis of professional ethics.

The need to maintain true accountability demands that the press publishes a correction whenever it is found to be necessary.

That's why many news media not only have correction pages but have also established internal watchdog system such as an ombudsman or have subscribed to self-regulation bodies as news (or press) councils.

Anyone has the right to see incorrect information rectified, celebrities as well as common people and every untruth must be corrected, no matter if it's about high ideals or simply common facts.

Money shouldn't count in this process then. That's the point raised by The Observer readers' editor, Stephen Pritchard in his last article.

"What price the truth now?", he wonders.

Millionaire entrepreneur Sir David Tang - Pritchard reported - has recently launched ICorrect.com, a site which claims to be the first website to "correct permanently any lies, misinformation and misrepresentations that permeate in cyberspace".

"ICorrect protects one's reputation in cyberspace forever", the site says. It let individuals and corporations to post corrections against accusations selected by the corrector form the internet or other media.

But the problem is - Pritchard highlighted - that, firstly, to publish a correction costs and secondly, it costs an individual $1,000 and corporations $5,000 a year. Moreover no verification process will take place and the site "makes no guarantee regarding the reliability, accuracy, legitimacy or quality of posting, of which correctors are entirely responsible." No opportunity is offered, Pritchard said, to the publisher to defend an apparent error.

ICorrect is full of accusations against publications like The Spectator, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun, the Sunday Times and of corrections from Michael Caine, Sienna Miller, Naomi Campbell, Jonathan Powell.

On the website, we just learned that "Cherie Blair has never met Saif Gaddafi; that Kate Moss doesn't have a Facebook account and that Chelsea footballers denied spending £120,000 on drinks at a party," Pritchard continues.

If any celebrity thinks that untruths about him/her has been published he/she has the right to have it corrected, even if it deals with horses in nightclubs or the amount spent on drinks. It's not a question of importance.

But, as Pritchard noted, "Sir David seemed unaware that some media have been offering this service completely free of charge for more than 40 years (indeed, in Japan the concept goes back to 1922). There are journalists working in newspapers, broadcasting and online all around the world, who, like me, act as ombudsmen, independent of the editor, listening to those who feel injured by our coverage, verifying their claims, talking to the author and, if necessary, printing a correction which is then appended to the story online. It's an attempt to make the media more transparent and, we hope, more trustworthy".

In the UK, for example, any member of the public can submit a complaint about all editorially-controlled material in UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites) to the Press Complaint Commission.

Other press councils in other parts of the world perform the same purpose.

The media accountability system concept - "any non-governmental means of inducing media and journalists to respect the ethical rules set by the profession" - was promoted by Claude-Jean Bertrand, professor emeritus at the University of Paris II and media ethicist.

And when the law rules it, libel suits could be filed.

Truth is not something it should be necessary, or even possible, to pay for. It's the primary duty of journalism and media accountability and professional ethics exist to ensure it.

Sources: Observer, ICorrect, MAS (JRI)
Photo source: Christina Baker Kline blog


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-03-31 13:52

paidContent released the list of the 50 most successful digital media companies in the US. See the list here.

Tabloids, giveaways and other freebies boosted Dutch newspapers sales in the final quarter of last year, DutchNews.nl reported. In total, 3.4 million newspapers are sold in the Netherlands every day. Most are bought via subscription rather than kiosk sales.

Trying to locate the towns and regions that have become the focus of international attention in the breaking news events in Libya and Japan, for example, could be very difficult for many people, but as Poynter noted, some media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CNN have been making good use of maps. More on explanatory journalism, maps locating and contextualized news can be find here.

Global Voices reported what Nigerian bloggers are saying about the country's 2011 elections. .

Two more journalists were killed in Mexico, Guardian's Roy Greenslade reported (via RSF). José Luis Cerda Meléndez, 33, a programme host on the national TV channel Televisa, and Luis Emanuel Ruí­z Carrillo, 20, a reporter for the daily paper La Prensa were murdered by members of one of the drugs cartels in the northern state of Nuevo León. Greenslade (via Index on Censorship) also reported that reporter Noel Lopez Olguin has been missing since 8 March.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-03-30 18:46

Local reality is often what people are most interested in and big papers and media outlets are not always able to satisfy communities' needs and desire for local information, as they don't have enough resources and/or time to dedicate to all stories.

That's why new actors are increasingly filling the gap more and more. There are locally-focused non-profits, new local news sites as well as news projects born from partnerships between established media outlets and universities, non-profits or small local or hyperlocal news sites.

Amongst the most innovative jornalism schools partnerships with big-names media outlets in local contexts, MediaBistro listed the just-launched Reporting Texas, of the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin, which shares content with two Austin media outlets, KUT90.5, Austin's NPR affiliate, and The Austin American-Statesman.

Another J-school forming a partnership with famous news outlet is The City University of New York which began a collaboration with The New York Times for its Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Local blog. And again with The New York Times, NYU's Journalism Institute is running the hyperlocal blog focused on Manhattan's East Village, The Local - East Village.
Lauren Rabaino on MediaBistro's 10,000 Words asked Tracey Taylor, co-founder of Berkeley's news startup, Berkeleyside, how to start your own news organization.

Founded in 2009 as more or less as an hobby by former editors and writers, the site is run on the WordPress platform and currently has 117,660 unique visitors monthly, the article reported. It is funded mainly by advertising (but a membership revenue is going to be introduced) and after 18 months, founders are starting to pay themselves a modest salary.

"Although Berkeley is a dynamic, good-sized city (pop 112,000), with a world-class university and a highly educated demographic, the city had limited dedicated news sources before Berkeleyside. A local weekly newspaper folded its print edition shortly after Berkeleyside launched; the UC Berkeley student paper, The Daily Californian, covers some city news, but not comprehensively; and local media such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News cover Berkeley stories only sporadically", Taylor said.

The Berkeleyside iPhone app calls for user contributions by allowing community members to submit photos from the scene of news events. At least a third of the stories are the results of tip-offs from readers, Taylor said.

Letting users contribute by submitting photos and content is probably one of the best ways for local sites to involve their readers.

For example, partnering with San Jose State University, the app Tackable publishes the student newspaper the Spartan Daily, which allows people who have signed up to submit photos and captions, which will be geotagged and presented on a map within the app and on the Web.

The top 3 tips to start an independent news site in your own community? Do it your way, keep it clean and be transparent, Taylor concluded.

Source: 10,000 Words - MediaBistro (1), (2)


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-03-30 18:15

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