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Federica Cherubini

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The Guardian announced yesterday the launch of a new gateway to its data journalism and visualisations.

"DataStore: Fact are sacred" is the subhead on the new data site, and that is the exact statement CP Scott, the Guardian founding editor, said in his first editorial in 1821: "comment is free, but facts are sacred".

Facts are even more sacred now where we are overflowed by data and documents, often without filters, accessible and transferable by everybody on the Web. But they could become confused and not understandable. That's why we still need someone who tells us the story, who gives the readers the context: data journalism is thus become an increasingly vital part of today's journalism.

"Publishing data has got easier since," says Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, "but it brings with it confusion and inaccessibility. How do you know where to look, what Is credible or up to date? Journalists have to walk this tightrope everyday, ensuring that the numbers we publish are right."

"We are drowning in information. The web has given us access to data we would never have found before, from specialist datasets to macroeconomic minutiae. But, look for the simplest fact or statistic and Google will present a million contradictory ones. Where's the best place to start?", argued Simon Rogers, editor at the Guardian Datablog and Datastore, in the article announcing, in March 2009, the launch of the Datablog.

"Data journalism has become an increasingly big part of our work here at the Guardian," said Rogers yesterday in his article, "from Wikileaks to government spending, it's our job to make the key data accessible and easy to understand"

"So, we've pulled all our data journalism into one new place: guardian.co.uk/data. Besides our award-winning datablog, the sites includes: the key data of the day, our pick of the data blogosphere, search the world's government data and featured app," says the website.

Part of the datastore is also the Government data search gateway, where readers can find data from UK, USA, Australian, New Zealand and London government sites.

Source: Guardian (1) (2) (3) (4)


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-17 15:52

NPR says it is pleased with the results of its decision to outsource the battle against offensive online comments, AJR reported.

Comments are a very important tool in online news websites as they let readers participate in debates and enrich discussions, contributing also to reporting. But how can news organisations stem the tide of offensive comments and spamming?

NPR announced in October that it would outsource is Web site regulation duties to ICUC Moderation Services, a social media monitoring company specialised in online content moderation.

"For much of the last year, we've made a concerted effort to keep up with the spammers and trolls, including assigning staff to review comments on weekends and increasing the number of interns assisting us. But as the community has grown, the spammers and trolls have grown with it, and we've reached a point that our staff is spending an enormous amount of time penalizing problem commenters rather than facilitating conversation and engaging the community", said Andy Carvin, senior strategist for NPR, in the artice announcing the news to readers.

Before appointing ICUC, removing abusive comments was the job of staff members.

"Flagging offensive content is the one duty that remains up to readers and NPR staff, and is done simply by clicking the "Report Abuse" button to the side of the comment in question. ICUC is alerted every time this happens, and the moderation company takes it from there, relieving NPR employees of endless hours spent screening controversial content", the article says. If the comment is borderline or questionable an ICUC moderator contacts the NPR staff and they decide together how to proceed.

Comments should be a benefit, not just a cost to news organizations, underlines Damon Kiesow on Poynter, commenting on NPR's decision.

Carvin, as AJR reported, is certain that the positives of reader participation on the Web greatly outweigh the negatives, and that outsourcing moderation of comments as well as letting NPR reporters focus on their job, has improved the quality of the discussion.

But, as Kiesow noted "while NPR is financially able to outsource comment moderation, that is because it has a national audience and thousands of reader posts daily. So, the lesson is not that publishers should throw money at the problem, but rather that staff engagement and organizational support should be equal to reader interest".

The danger of outsourcing moderation is that it might mean that NPR staff are less involved in the conversation, and that ICUC staff might make different judgments to those which NPR staff would have made. But if NPR can assure that its journalists are indeed kept in the loop, hopefully this can be a useful time-saving measure.

Source: AJR, NPR, Poynter


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-17 11:53

Romenesko on Poynter.org reported the year-end message of Associated Press CEO Tom Curley to the staff, where he says: "We have completed the second consecutive year of rate cuts to help members and customers cope with the economic downturn and the disruption as we shift to a digital world. And we have had to face the consequences of these challenges internally. But we are determined to resume our growth path."

"The Air Force is blocking computer access to The New York Times and other media sites that published sensitive diplomatic documents released by the Internet site WikiLeaks" reported Yahoo! citing AP. The article quoted Air Force Major Toni Tones who said that more than 25 websites have been blocked and cannot be viewed by any Air Force computer, except for the personal ones. "The White House on Dec. 3 formally reminded all federal employees and government contractors that anyone without a security clearance is not permitted to read classified documents, such as the diplomatic messages published by WikiLeaks, even on a personal computer at home outside work hours," the article says.

The Register Citizen, the Torrington (Connecticut) newspaper, is opening its doors to public and reinventing itself in the digital world: digital first, print last is its philosophy. As the New York Times reported: "The Register Citizen, with roots dating to 1874 and a print circulation that's fallen from 21,000 in the late 1980s to 8,000 now, isn't an industry giant either. But when it moved Monday from its dilapidated 105-year-old home into a renovated factory space meant to embody a full-bore embrace of the Internet, it provided one metaphor for how journalism is trying to reinvent itself".

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-16 17:43

Bloomberg has announced that it would begin publishing editorials in an effort to broaden the company's influence on national affairs, the New York Times reported.

Bloomberg View, as the initiative is called, will publish columns and commentary across all Bloomberg platforms and will be run by two executive editors: David Shipley, deputy editorial page editor and op-ed editor of the New York Times, and James P. Rubin, former assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton.

As Talking Biz News says, Rubin will oversee editorial issues in Central and South America, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and Shipley will maintain oversight of the U.S. and Canada. Both will report directly to the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, Matthew Winkler.

Bloomberg L.P. is owned by New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and though he has an agreement with the city to have no involvement in the "day-to-day operations" of his company the endeavour is intended to channel his personal philosophy and worldview, the New York Times pointed out.

The article quoted Matthew Winkler who said: "I think it's very important that everyone understands that our editorial page is going to be, for sure, consistent with the values and beliefs of the founder -- even if he happens to be mayor of New York City. Though Mr. Bloomberg will not have a hand in conceiving and writing the editorials, he is likely to offer feedback from time to time before they are published."

This opens a sort conflict of interest question: "as someone whose presidential ambitions are the source of endless speculation, acquiring the platform of an editorial page is certain to draw more attention to Mr. Bloomberg's plans", says the New York Times.

And Jeremy W. Peters on Media Decoder says in fact that "opinion and commentary have been areas of journalism that Bloomberg, with its just-the-facts approach, has avoided. But company leaders saw an opportunity to extend their influence into the opinion sphere".

Bloomberg's intentions to expand are attested also by the acquisition of BusinessWeek last year and by the launch of a new project in Washington, called Bloomberg Government, that will sell information about government services and contracts to lobbyists and others with business interests in the nation's capital.

As New York Times highlighted, the notion of media barons using editorials to shape public opinion and policy according to their personal views in an old one in American journalism, as William Randolph Hearst, for example, often wrote front-page editorials for his newspapers.

Not to mention other, more worrying examples, like Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi.

Sources: New York Times, Talking Biz News, Media Decoder


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-16 14:07

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, was yesterday named Time magazine's 2010 person of the year.

Every year Time magazine gives its accolade "to the person or thing judged to have most influenced the culture and the news during the past year, for good or for ill," the Guardian reported.

The Guardian quoted Time journalist Lev Grossman, who said that Zuckerberg was honoured "for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives".

Zuckerberg, 26 years old, beat a string of notable personalities - points out the Guardian - including WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, who, instead, won the reader's choice award, and the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. The 33 rescued Chilean miners and the rightwing US Tea Party movement were also named as runners-up. Assange's win was announced earlier this week.

Last week Zuckerberg pledged to give away at least half of his fortune in the philanthropic campaign, The Giving Pledge, launched by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Buffett. Gates and Buffett have asked US billionaires to make a moral commitment to give their fortunes to charity.

The Time name of the year is part of the bigger "2010 Time 100" list, containing the names of the world's most influential people. Writing to the readers, Time explains that "the TIME 100 is not about the influence of power but the power of influence". Some of the people of the list are influential in the traditional sense, as heads of state like Barack Obama, but others are people whose ideas and actions are revolutionizing their fields and transforming lives, like Matt Berg, who is using text-messaging technology to improve community health monitoring in Africa, they say.

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


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-16 11:28

"Twitter has analyzed the 25 billion tweets sent in 2010 and published the list of top overall trends in the year behind us," Mashable reported, "as well as the top 10 trending topics in eight categories: news events, people, movies, television, technology, World Cup, sports and hashtags."

The 10 overall top trends are: Gulf Oil Spill, FIFA World Cup, Inception, Haiti Earthquake, Vuvuzela, Apple iPad, Google Android, Justin Bieber, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Pulpo Paul. Vuvuzela, the plastic horn used during the football match in South Africa, and Paul the Octopus, used to predict the winner of matches, refer both to the FIFA World Cup.

The Gulf Oil Spill and the Haiti Earthquake are at the top of the news events list, followed by Pakistan Floods, Koreas Conflict, Chilean Miners Rescue, Chavez Tas Ponchao, Wikileaks Cablegate, Hurrican Earl, Prince William's Engagement and World Aids Day.

The "Year in Review" list is a trend everybody is doing: Apple released iTunes Rewind, with the top music and apps; Yahoo! provides the 10 top searches of 2010, as Google does with its Zeitgeist 2010, based on aggregation of billions of search queries people typed into Google.


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-15 17:41

A Richard Littlejohn column in the Daily Mail has provoked 500 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission, the Guardian reported.

The column - explains The Independent - compared Jody McIntyre, a disabled protester who has cerebral palsy, to the comic disable character Andy Pipkin, played by Matt Lucas, in Little Britain.

During last Thursday's student fees demonstration Mr McIntyre was pulled out of his wheelchair by the police, as a video posted on YouTube shows. Police launched an internal investigation into the episode.

In his article, Littlejohn wrote - before imagining a spoof dialogue between McIntyre - as Andy- and David Walliams's Lou - : "If he's looking for sympathy, he's come to the wrong place. A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else. But he should have kept a safe distance. McIntyre put himself on offer and his brother pushed him onto the front line. It's not as if he didn't know there was going to be trouble".

Protests against Littlejohn's column caused uproar on Twitter, where a link to the the Press Complaints Commission was posted, whose spokesman said they were looking to contact McIntyre asking if he wants to make a formal complaint.

The PCC is an independent body, which handles complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines by members of the public who find themselves involved in news stories. It normally accepts complaints only from those who are directly affected by the article, which is why the PCC said it is looking to contact McIntyre directly. All the complaints are investigated under the editors' Code of Practice. The resolutions PCC could gain include the publication of a correction, apology, follow-up pieces, the greatest sanction being issuing a critical adjudication against newspaper or magazine, "the name and shame sanction" as it is called.

As the Guardian noted, also a BBC News channel interview with McIntyre prompted a "considerable" - though not specified - number of complaints from viewers, who said interviewer Ben Brown asked inappropriate and "insensitive" questions.

Roy Greenslade, on his Guardian blog, reflects on the episode. "I have no problem with the PCC's reaction," he said, "it would be damned if it didn't contact McIntyre. But the result, should he complain, is a foregone conclusion. There was no factual inaccuracy. Littlejohn is a columnist. He has a right to be offensive, even obnoxious. That's his job. His piece was not based on a prejudice against McIntyre because of his disability (nor was he exhibiting a prejudice against all disabled people). If so, I would take a different view." Greenslade concludes saying that "In this case, I sincerely hope that McIntyre is sensible enough to ignore any pressure to complain".

Sources: Guardian (1), (2), (3), The Independent, Daily Mail


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-15 14:58

Thomson Reuters announced the launch of a new service for U.S. news media.

"The new service, Reuters America, provides text stories, photos and video by Reuters journalists for newspapers, television stations and online publishers", it declared.

The first customer is theTribune Co, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times as well as TV stations in New Orleans, San Diego and Denver.

Seven Iranian journalists have been arrested within a week by Iranian authorities, the Guardian reported, adding that "Iran currently holds more journalists in prison that any other country in the world".

Politico, the Washington D.C.-based political news publication, has launched its free iPad app, Macworld reported.

In an article by David Lieberman, USA Today reported that the business news channel CNBC launched CNBC Pro on Tuesday, "a subscription news and data service for traders who want to play in lots of markets - including commodities, exchange traded funds, futures, bonds real estate and currencies." CNBC Pro initially will work with BlackBerry mobile phones, but service for iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Nokia phones will come early in 2011.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been granted bail by a UK court, according to the Guardian. £200,000 has been given as security, and he must surrender his passport, check in regularly with police and respect a curfew. A full extradition hearing is scheduled for 11 January.


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-14 18:59

Newspapers are still looking for the right model for their online paywalls.

News of The World, the latest News International papers to go behind a paywall (the others two being the Times and the Sunday Times, which became paid-only websites in July) has seen a 59 per cent decrease in unique users to its website in November, after the first full month behind a paywall, the Beehive reported, citing comScore data.

"In November 2010, Notw.co.uk attracted just 643,000 unique users, decreasing from 960,000 in October, half of which was spent behind the paywall which went live on October 14th. In September 2010, the website recorded 1.562 million unique users", the article said.

And the time spent on the site and page views is decreasing too, suggesting that many people just stop on the paywall sign-up page, going to look for free content elsewhere, they argue.

A similar drop in traffic occurred with the Times and the Sunday Times.

The News International paid online content model is strictly impenetrable. Many other models are possible, such as the "porous" one chosen by the New York Times, which is going to launch in January 2011. The NYT is going to give to its readers an unspecified number of free clicks per month, asking for payment after this number has been passed.

Nieman Lab is hosting a debate on whether this metered model will work.

"The New York Times' switch to some sort of online pay-to-read system will be a financial success right off the bat -- even a windfall for the Times", says for example Barri Sussman, editor at the Nieman Watchdog.

Or, "While news outlets that are hewing to the pay-to-read model will persist in charging readers, the trend will continue to move against them. More and more content will be offered for "free" to consumers as distribution platforms continue to proliferate. Inevitably, this will erode the pay-model outlets' readerships, and we'll eventually start to see capitulation by all except the most "niche" journalism organizations, such as trade magazines", as the senior editor of public's radio Marketplace, Paddy Hirsch says.

Will the public mindset adapt to favour paying for news? Or will another business model altogether gain prominence?

Sources: Beehivecity , Nieman Journalism Lab


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-14 17:52

Apple has released its official year-end lists of top products on iTunes, called "iTunes Rewind", in which it lists the top music and apps of 2010.

"We've taken a look back at the music, apps, movies, TV shows, books, podcasts, and audiobooks that came out in 2010 and picked our favorites, as well as the bestselling titles of 2010", the Apple website says.

USA Today points out that "in the category of free news apps, USA Today is the top app, followed by the Fluent News Reader, BBC, New York Times and Wall Street Journal".

Top iPad apps for news includes Flipboard, Pulse News Reader, Flud, 60 Minutes for iPad, ABC News for iPad, PBS for iPad, CBS News for iPad and NPR for iPad.

The apps list is divided in two sections, one for iPhone and iPod touch and the other for iPad, says TechCrunch, which cites the four selected app chosen as "award winners": Hipstamatic (photography), Plants vs. Zombies (game), Flipboard (news) and Osmos (game).

Flipboard is the iPad app to see articles shared on Facebook and Twitter in a magazine layout.

"Whether we were connecting with friends, finding our way home or battling with zombies, apps in 2010 affected how we work, live, and play", the Apple website argues.

"One thing interesting to note: the top three grossing iPads apps for the year are all made by Apple themselves (Pages, Numbers and Keynote)", highlights TechCrunch.

Source: Apple - iTunes, USA Today, TechCrunch (1), (2)


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Federica Cherubini

Date

2010-12-14 12:29

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