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Federica Cherubini

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Blog entries

Poynter has listed five projects that all take different, innovative approaches to fighting inaccurate or incorrect information. 

The Guardian has praised French site Data-Publica as a “fantastic data-driven resource to all things French”. The British paper shares a post from the data site, which allows users to view details of every publicly-owned French building, posted on an interactive map. 

Brian Stelter at the New York Times writes that CNN is in talk to purchase popular technology and social media news site Mashable. Felix Salmon at Reuters is said to have heard from an unnamed source that CNN will pay over $200 million for the site.

Peter Preston at the Guardian writes that Vladimir Putin’s election victory has grim implications for the future of Russia’s free press.

One year after the Japan's tsunami, Associated Press producer Miles Edelsten recalls being caught up in 'the biggest story in the world'. Read the article on the Guardian here.

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

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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-12 19:08

A video shows the terrible havoc a Ugandan warlord inflicts on his country and on his army of child soldiers-turned-slaves. In a few days it goes massively viral online with 14.4m views on Vimeo and more than 49m on YouTube at the time of writing.

It is spread via Facebook and Twitter, where suddenly it's a top trending topic.

It is a perfect example of the viral power of the Web, especially when it comes to making the public aware of sensitive issues. But criticism has started to arise about the accuracy of the information contained in the documentary, which has cast a shadow on the story.

The video in question is “KONY 2012”, a film campaign created by the non-profit group Invisible Children with the aim of raising international attention on the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the rebel called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and gathering wide public support for his arrest following his indictment by the International Criminal Court in 2005.

With this roughly 30-minute-long video, Invisible Children wants to make Kony “famous” to keep pressure on US policymakers to ensure US don’t withdraw their support after President Obama authorised the deployment of 100 US army advisers to help the Ugandan military track down Kony last October.

Parallel to the growth of #stopKony support, concern is being raised about the validity of the information featured in the video as well as the financial transparency of its producers, as the Guardian reported.

Critics such as Michael Wilkerson on Foreign Policy concentrated on the inaccuracy of the facts contained in the video, such as the fact Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn't been for 6 years. Others focused on the controversial financial status of Invisible Children and some, like Foreign Affairs previously questioned the accuracy of the facts reported by the advocacy group, amongst others, in its campaign against Kony.

Setting aside the virtues and vices of Invisible Children or its Hollywood-style campaign (the group published a reply to the major critics here), what is interesting from a journalistic point of view is the impact of such a massive diffusion of information through the Web.

 

 

Riyaad Minty, Head of Social Media at Al Jazeera, tweeted that looking through some twitter stats referred to #Kony2012, it appared that out of 5 million tweets in 24 hours, most of them come from the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, while there were just 18,989 for all of Africa. 

Not only has the video in itself gone viral, but the number of articles, tweets and comments on the subject is also vast, getting to a point in which is difficult to identify the real facts from the misrepresentations, comments and personal opinions.

Once information is viral you can’t control it.

There’s nothing new in the difficulty of counteracting misinformation on a large scale. But the Internet has increased that scale, making it even more challenging for news media to maintain their role as fact checkers. News organisations can do everything in their power to spread accurate facts and counter misinformation, but they are not going to reach 50 million people overnight.

As an article by Craig Silverman on Poynter highlighted, misinformation spread faster and farther than the corrections, especially on social media. It’s what he calls “the law of incorrect tweets”, which says that “Initial, inaccurate information will be retweeted more than any subsequent correction.”

Sources: Guardian, Invisible Children, Foreign Policy, Visible Children, Foreign Affairs, Poynter

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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-09 14:26

It has been a week of newspapers’ redesigns. Several newspapers unveiled shiny versions of their print products and sites as well as announcing new tools and enhanced usability.

As SFN blog reported yesterday, Spanish El Pais, driven by a main change in its newsroom culture, has recently introduced changes in its digital products which has been reflected also in a website redesign.

The UK Evening Standard launched a newly design website enriched by two new sections aiming to “double its online audience and revenue over the coming year”, Press Gazette reported. It launched a dedicated section for the upcoming Olympic games, along with a new ‘Going Out’ section aimed at both Londoners and visitors which will feature food reviews, arts and theatres.

Going east, Singaporeans readers of Lianhe Zaobao, the flagship Chinese newspaper of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will find a news version of the newspaper in the newsstands on March 15th, a release published by Publicitas announced.

According to the article, the paper will be refreshed to be a more appealing, engaging, directive and provocative read with a improved use of design, photos and infographics.

Back in Europe, the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat is planning a significant design change for the start of 2013 changing its printed format to the compact tabloid one, another press released published on Publicitas announced.

"We believe in the future of printed newspapers. With improved usability, the relationship with readers will be even stronger, and HS will also get new readers. We will continue to stick to our strengths: in-depth journalism, appealing narrative and uncompromised quality. The basic sections that our readers deem important will remain in the paper, although we will introduce new content elements," Editor-in-chief Riikka Venäläinen said, quoted in the article.

Sources: SFN, Press Gazette, Publicitas (1), (2

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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-07 19:40

Two British journalists arrested last month by a Libyan militia group in a direct challenge to the authority of the country's new government have been accused of spying, the Guardian reported. To justify the arrest the militia group said that "suspicious material" was found on the two men. This included a field dressing in a black wrapper which he said was suspicious because it was "made in Israel" and lists of Tripoli militia members killed in clashes last year, the article explained.

Poynter reflects on the relationship between the newsrooms and individual journalists creating a personal brand through their accounts on social media.

Also on Poynter, an article reported how the Huffington Post reached its largest audience ever last Monday due to the coverage of the Oscars. Social sharing gets some of the credit for the 13.3 million unique visitors that came to the site, which was recently identified by Newswhip research as one of the top three most viral news sources, the article said.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-05 19:15

The UK's House of Lords Committee on Communication recently published a report on "The future of investigative journalism".

The reports stresses the unquestionable importance of investigative journalism in holding those in power to account, disclosing matters of public interest and stimulating public debate around fundamental questions for a functioning democracy.

"Responsible investigative journalism should be protected and encouraged given its important role in our democracy" is the central idea underlying the report.

Its purpose is, "against the background of perhaps the greatest political media scandal of a generation, to look at the future of investigative journalism in the light of the problems currently facing the media and the technological revolution unfolding in this area".

There are two prerequisites for effective investigative journalism, the report explains: a journalist who investigates and a publisher who publishes the findings.

Even if all journalism requires a certain amount of investigation, proper investigative journalism is characterized by a significant investment in terms of resources and funding. Moreover, it is a long-term investment with no guaranteed return and a high level of litigation risks.

Therefore, possibly more than other genres of journalism, it has been affected by the threats of the economic crises which are prompting cuts in budgets and resources.

Economic pressures endanger investigative journalism especially at a local level, the report says: "the evidence we have received leads us to conclude that economic pressures have severely restricted the local press's ability to carry out major investigations."

Investigative journalism is facing even more challenges in the UK now in the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal, as revelations of misconduct might provoke the implementation of stricter media regulation policies, not to mention the damage they have created by undermining overall journalistic credibility.

The state of investigative journalism is also entwined with the question of how far journalists can go to investigate a particular issue. Is it ever acceptable to break the law in the public interest, the report wonders? Then there is the debate about what is in the public interest and what is of public interest.

The report also discusses the role of whistleblowers and sources which has recently been in the limelight as a result of the Wikileaks story. "It is important for the future of responsible investigative journalism that journalists are able to offer adequate protection to their sources. We therefore call on the Government and Lord Justice Leveson to make the question of the suitable protection of whistleblowers a core part of their ongoing inquiries", the report says.

It is important that there is a willingness on the part of the ownership - whether that be a trust, an individual or a group of shareholders - to support, morally and financially, the role of investigative journalism, the report says. There are alternative ways to fund it, although sustainability is still an issue. Increasingly, non-profit organizations, funded mainly by grants, are in fact gaining prominence in funding quality investigative journalism, such ProPublica in the U.S and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK.

The report suggests the possibility of creating a special fund dedicated to investigative journalism. "If fines are introduced for breaches of the Editors' Code of Practice by newspapers and magazines under a new system of press self-regulation, we recommend that a proportion of all media fines (including fines for breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code) should be allocated to a fund reserved for financing investigative journalism or for the training of investigative journalists", it says.

Source: UK Parliament publication


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-05 18:04

Earlier this week, New York Times' staff members of the New York Newspaper Guild protested, lining in the hallway, outside the Page One meeting room. As the Huffington Post reported, the incident demonstrated staffers' dismay over their contract negotiations, which have been going on for over a year, including negotiators' calls for freezing their pension plans and ending their independent health insurance.

Pearson Plc, the publisher of the Financial Times newspaper and Penguin books, has a capacity to make £1 billion in acquisitions ($1.6 billion) as the digital publishing revenue grows, Bloomberg said. "The digital publishing business grew 18 percent to 2 billion pounds to make up a third of Pearson's sales last year after revenue from Penguin e-books doubled and digital subscriptions to the Financial Times and online learning programs for students increased by more than 20 percent", the article said.

Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy issued a proposal yesterday of changing the country media law which would create a statutory regulator with the power to prosecute media companies in the courts, The Australian reported. The historic change to media law would break with tradition by using government funds to replace an industry council that acts on complaints, in a move fiercely opposed by companies as a threat to the freedom of the press, the article said.

What kind of challenges does the Los Angeles Times face in launching a 'membership' scheme (essentially, paid digital content), asks Nieman Lab.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-02 18:56

News can reach you as an article, a picture, or a video, or it could be from a tweet or a Facebook update.

Taking this into account is what inspired open journalism: the new editorial approach The Guardian is experimenting with which is based on the centrality of a two-way relationship between the newspaper and the readers.

In a video published on the website, editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger illustrates the changes journalism is undergoing which have put at its core the audience, which is now taking part in journalism rather than being passive recipients.
"Journalists are not the only experts in the world", Rusbridger says, stressing that for a newspaper, embracing this new mindset means being more open to discussion and participative, asking the readers to collaborate in the way the paper is shaped everyday.

The new approach can result in asking for a video taken by a city trader in New York capturing the moment the police struck a news seller in the middle of a crowd, or building a little widget with which 23,000 readers helped in processing the 400,000 documents of MPs expenses which had been released all at once.

The Guardian is opening its doors to readers both digitally and physically. It first launched the "Comment is free" section in 2006: the first open newspaper platform for multiple points of view, where readers and others can challenge, debate and discuss, Rusbridger explains.

Every day the national news team stream the Newsdesk live blog, showing the making of the paper, bringing readers into the conversation about what the paper is covering, how and why.

During the weekend of 24-25 of March readers will be able to go along in the newsroom, sharing views, joining the conversation with journalists about what's happening in the world and witnessing how the paper works.

To illustrate the open journalism approach and the power of the real integration between print and digital, both from the journalists and from the readers side, the Guardian has also created an advertisement based on the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Sources: Guardian (1), (2), (3), (4)


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-03-01 19:13

The news media is a pillar of democracy: it informs citizens about issues in the public interest and acts as a watchdog over the powers that be. Consequently, journalism plays a significant role in emerging democracies.

To play this role effectively, however, news media need to stand out as credible and respected sources, and to be credible they need to be accountable. As highlighted in Tunis at the WAN-IFRA Arab Free Press Forum, after years of propaganda, it is difficult for newly-free publications to establish themselves as trustworthy sources of news, particularly when facing competition from blogs and social media.

Ethics are a cornerstone for a credible and professional news media environment. As reported by BusinessGhana, media practitioners and associations in the Cote d'Ivoire recently adopted a new code of ethics for journalists at a forum in Abidjan.

The adoption of the code, the article says, is an important milestone in the road to credibility and in the effort to improve professionalism in the country's journalism. A statement issued and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra by Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and reported in the article said this new code has elaborated provisions on duties and responsibilities of the journalists, as well as a comprehensive set of articles on rights and freedoms.

For more journalistic codes of ethics and African media accountability mechanisms see UNESCO's list here.

The way that codes of ethics are established is important, Magda Abu Fadil stressed in Tunis: they should be willingly adopted by news organisations, rather than imposed by the government. Media laws are often see as undue state's interference in media independence and freedom of speech.

This has been the case of the redefinition of media regulation in Hungary introduced between July and December 2010 which attracted much criticism.

As the Center for International Media Ethics (CIME) reported, the current situation has been the motivation behind launching a new media ethics campaign, the Editors Forum, which aims to set standards and guidelines to apply to all Hungarian journalists. The underlying idea of the forum, the article explains, is to build a network of participating chief editors, publishers and journalists across Hungary to self-regulate the industry and along the way ensure and support media freedom and build audience trust.

In the interview with CIME, Editors Forum's founder Balàzs Weyer described the purpose of the initiative saying: "The purpose of the Forum is to set industry standards, create a sense of transparency in journalism practices, to gain back the trust of the society towards the media, provide guidance for journalists and journalism students, create exemplary models for them to follow and re-gain the dignity of the trade".

Sources: EditorsWeblog, BusinessGhana, CIME, UNESCO


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-02-29 19:06

A team of eight journalists has created a local news cooperative to tackle the closure of the traditional media in their South Wales town of Port Talbot, and to continue to provide community's news coverage (hat tip to the Guardian's Roy Greenslade.)

After Trinity Mirror's Port Talbot Guardian, the community radio station and the local council freesheet all closed down, this group of volunteer journalists launched the Port Talbot Magnet, a local news site which carries news sourced by professional journalists and members of the community, as NUJ Freelance bulletin reported.

Port Talbot Magnet is a not-for-profit community based on a cooperative principle: volunteer professional journalists collaborate with citizens who suggest, participate and fund coverage on local news.

It incorporates a 'Pitch-In' scheme, with members of the community contributing by donating money, suggesting ideas, sending pictures and helping to pay professional reporters to carry out the news coverage.

The underlying idea is that news has a price and it's worth it to the community to pay for it as it it adds value to their lives.

Part of the Pitch-In scheme is the "Sponsor a court reporter for a day" project which provides a coverage for a court case for £150 a day.

Rachel Howells, one of the board members, explained that the £150 daily fee for a court reporter is a recognition that "reporting from an ongoing court case is a highly specialised job that requires training and experience", the Guardian reported.

The Port Talbot Magnet's basic idea is similar to Spot.Us, the community-funded news platform based in California that allows citizens to make donations to fund journalistic stories.

Sources: Guardian, NUJ Freelance bulletin


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-02-21 18:17

Accordingly to a new study released by the Women's Media Center, the U.S. media industry still is dominated by men. As the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported, despite the 2012 Report on the Status of Women in U.S. Media showing some good news with women occupying 40.5 percent of newspaper jobs in 2011, compared with 36.6 percent in 2010, media remains overwhelmingly male.

The New York Times announced on Feb 16 that two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid had died from what appeared to be an asthma attack, while on assignment for The Times in Syria. The paper and his colleagues remembered him with this page.

ProPublica has created a nice interactive graphic to show the involvement of various people close (and not so close) to the Murdochs during the phone-hacking scandal.

The Economist's style guide is online for the first time in a "newly browsable alphabetised format."

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-02-20 18:56

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