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Gianna Walton

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Two Brazilian journalists, the owner of Costa Oeste newspaper Onei de Moura and radio reporter Divino Aparecido Carvalho, were shot and killed last weekend near the Paraguay border, The Guardian reports.

After having been purchased by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, The New Republic announced on its blog that new articles on the website will no longer be blocked by its paywall, according to the Atlantic Wire.

Steve Buttry of The Buttry Diary blog asked several engagement editors, or social media editors, to explain their roles in the newsroom and how they try reach their audiences. Read their responses here

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


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-28 17:42

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported yesterday that two British journalists of Algerian origin were killed by Syrian forces in Darkoush on Monday, while a third was wounded.

The independent journalists, identified as Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi, were in the process of filming a documentary about Syrians’ escape from the conflict to neighboring Turkey, the article said. The Syrian army fired at the home where the three journalists and other Syrian activists were seeking refuge, the article said.

Intiri and Bledi initially fled for safety, but were shot upon returning to the house to get equipment, the article said.

After tentatively reporting yesterday that the Syrian Revolution General Commission said two journalists were killed, The Guardian recently confirmed reports of the shooting, citing the CPJ and Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The British Foreign Office is currently investigating reports of the attack, according to journalism.co.uk.

These killings bring the death toll for journalists in Syria up to 10 since November, the CPJ said.

Recent journalist deaths include American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, who were both killed in Homs during a shelling attack this past February, according to The Telegraph. French television reporter Gilles Jacquier was also killed in Homs the month before, the article said.

Blog ArabSaga reports that in addition to the killings, Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coşkun have been missing in Syria since March 11.

Syria's SANA state news agency labeled the attack in Darkoush as counter to terrorist efforts to enter the country through the Turkish border, CPJ said. CPJ also previously reported that Bashar al-Assad’s government has taken restrictive measures to prevent foreign journalists from entering the country, and that reporters have therefore resorted to smuggling themselves past the border in order to cover the conflict.

The attack comes in the midst of Syria’s acceptance of the peace plan put forth by Arab league envoy Kofi Annan, The Guardian reported.

Sources: CPJ 1, 2, The Guardian 1, 2, The Telegraph, journalism.co.uk, ArabSaga


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-28 16:58

With the rapid rise in popularity of the virtual pinboard Pinterest, newsrooms have been experimenting with ways to use the new platform to share their original content, according to Mediabistro’s 10,000 Words blog. Mediabistro examines how The Wall Street Journal and various other news outlets have been using Pinterest as a journalism tool.

The Pinterest platform consists of user-posted “pins,” or added images, which other users can then “like,” comment on, or “repin” to their own Pinterest account, according to the Pinterest website.

“Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting,” the website said. “With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”

Popular topics include style, home decorating, cooking and inspirational photos and quotes. Users can also create pinning “boards” focused on a specific topic.

Though Pinterest is not necessarily ideal for hard news, Mediabistro suggests that news organizations can take advantage of the platform by sharing news in a visually intriguing way, such as featuring photos of breaking news events, interview previews, and journalist profiles. 

In another article, Mediabistro highlights The Wall Street Journal’s “Quotes” board, on which editors pin “memorable” quotes from their articles, such as President Barack Obama’s statement regarding Trayon Martin, an African American teenager who was recently shot to death: “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” When users click on a quote, they are taken to the original article.

Brian Aguilar, editorial project manager for The Wall Street Journal, told Mediabistro, “There are so many memorable soundbites out there. This gives you the opportunity to really highlight them and pique people’s interest in a story.”

According to the "Newspapers on Pinterest" board, over 100 newspapers currently have Pinterest accounts.

Since users can share content they don’t own the rights to, Pinterest has also become the subject of copyright issues, Mediabistro said. However, if newspapers only post original content, editors shouldn’t have to worry about copyright infringement, the article said.

Under their “Pin Etiquette” guidelines, the Pinterest team advises users to credit their sources.

“Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source,” the website says. “If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Image Search or a blog entry.”

As many Pinterest boards for news organizations still seem to be in their planning stages, it remains to be seen how editors will decide to best showcase their content on the new platform, and whether Pinterest's methods of almost unlimited online image sharing will complement or hinder the news industry.

Sources: Mediabistro 1, 2, Pinterest, The Wall Street Journal "Quotes" board


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-27 14:14

From an underplayed incident to a viral, racially-charged tragedy, the Trayvon Martin shooting has shocked Americans across the country. How did the case attract so much attention, so quickly? In an article chronicling the coverage, Poynter called attention to how the combination of social media and tradition media outlets has defined the story, and its key players, so far.

News of Martin’s killing, which occurred the night of February 26 in Sanford, Florida, was initially limited to a short report in the Orlando Sentinel, which attributed the death to an “altercation,” Poynter reports.

It was not until Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, held a press conference a week later that the media began to question the initial reports, Poynter said. The Sentinel published a second article on March 8 with many more details of the killing and the shooter, George Zimmerman, who has not yet been charged for the death, Poynter said. Zimmerman alleges that he acted in self-defense.

Soon after, a petition on Change.org began circulating that demanded justice for the killing, Poynter said. The petition now has over 2 million signatures.

From there, the blogosphere went wild: from independent bloggers to op-ed columnists, calls for further investigation into the shooting increased with every new detail that emerged in the media, from the fact that Martin was wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles the night of the shooting to the release of the 911 tapes of Zimmerman’s call to authorities. Social media helped spread the news even faster as Martin’s name trended on Twitter, Poynter said.

Now, various news sources have devoted entire web pages to the story, including The New York TimesTrayvon Martin page on Times Topics and The Huffington Post’s “The Trayvon Martin Tragedy” page.

But perhaps more interesting than the fact that the story went viral are the ways in which news organizations decided to cover it—and how that coverage, in turn, affected the social media responses.

As Poynter previously reported, newspapers and blogs have focused on what Martin was wearing the night of the shooting: a hoodie and skittles. In response to the detail, a Facebook event for last Wednesday was created—A Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin—which reported over 7,000 users “Going” to the event.

On Friday, LeBron James of the Miami Heat basketball team tweeted a photo of some of the team members wearing hoodies in support of Martin, according to The Huffington Post. The hashtag message read: #WeAreTrayvonMartin.

Poynter also suggested that the choice of photographs used by each news organization helped shape public opinion of the case. While the original Sentinal story showed Martin wearing a hoodie, an image typically associated with gang members, others have surfaced of Martin in a red t-shirt, in a football uniform and in snow-boarding gear.

Contributing even more to the viral nature of the story is the increasing availability of political commentary on the subject, such as the statement made by President Barack Obama, found on The Christian Science Monitor's website. From the Republican presidential candidates to media pundits, many other statements have been captured on video and posted on news websites for the world to see and share with their social networks.

With so much media coverage, however, Poynter warns that journalists should be vigilant in reporting the context of the shooting, especially in regards to the racial aspects of the case. Poynter reports that there are many inconsistencies in the background of the suspect and in the history of racially-motivated crimes in the community in question.

Even word choice for describing the death could potentially distort public opinion. Poynter noted in another article that while some newspapers used the term “murder” to describe the shooting, a word with less bias, “killing,” should be used because the suspect has not been convicted of murder, according to the AP Stylebook.

Whatever the outcome of the case, coverage of Trayvon Martin’s killing has encompassed almost all forms of media to form a unique blend of online citizen activism and traditional news investigation. In the weeks to come, one will see whether the media attention will spur further action on the part of the authorities.

Sources: Poynter 1, 2, 3, Orlando Sentinal 1, 2, The New York Times, The Huffington Post 1, 2, The Christian Science Monitor, Change.org


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-26 17:58

AOL plans to launch a new digital magazine, Huffington, for tablets, according to Forbes. The weekly magazine will feature a combination of original and aggregated Huffington Post content and will be free to readers.

Chris Hamilton talks to MediaBistro about his role as BBC News Social Media Editor, offers tips on handling breaking news via Twitter

A 1966 memo, written by former Daily Mail Editor Mike Randall and released by Jack Dyson on his blog, highlights journalistic ethics of the period, The Guardian reports

Boston University's College of Communication will hold its annual nonfiction conference, featuring 32 celebrated journalists who will discuss storytelling journalism, BU Today reports

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


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-23 18:17

UK publishing group Extra Newspapers announced Wednesday that it will be launching its first three hyper-local newspapers for the towns of Corby, Wellingburough and Kettering in Northamptonshire, according to a press release.

Extra spent 14 months researching and developing the newspapers, which are “designed to appeal to the traditional newsprint reader as well as the younger, digital savvy readership,” the release said.

Each newspaper will begin circulation in April at 10,500 copies and will cost 50 pence apiece.

Editor Judith Halliday emphasized in the release that the communities themselves will be the focus of each publication.

“Extra aims to prove that small and local can be beautiful,” she said. “We will be right there on the corner with the local community—watching, reporting and sharing all the news.”

Members of the respective communities are invited to contribute news and opinions to the paper as well, the release said.

Managing Director Stuart Parker explained in the release that, before now, Corby did not have its own local newspaper.

The Corby Extra will give Corby what it wants most of all and that’s a voice across the community,” he said.

Competitor Johnston Press also circulates its daily, the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, within the three towns, The Guardian reported. Johnston Press is the second largest newspaper owner in the UK, as we previously reported.

The release also stated that Extra will not charge local businesses for recruitment advertising and job listings.

“With the gradual shift in recent years to high advertising rates, the regional press has made it almost impossible for small businesses to communicate effectively with their target audiences and Extra will also be providing value for money advertising rates, so that businesses can quite simply afford to advertise and communicate,” Parker said.

As previously reported, many in the news industry feel that locality is the key to attracting advertising and securing a viable news market for the future.

Sources: Extra, The Guardian


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-23 17:29

In light of the removal of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai from his position last week, the Chinese online community has been buzzing with rumors and government criticism—all without ever mentioning their political leaders by name, according to The Guardian.

Microbloggers have been using cryptic code words, ranging from Teletubbies to Instant Noodles, to keep comments about Bo’s dismissal and meetings of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party from being blocked, The Guardian reports.

Internet users nicknamed Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao “Teletubby,” or tianxianbaobao as the show is called in China, the article said. Other codes include instant noodle brand Master Kong (Kang Shifu) for alleged Bo supporter Zhou Yongkang and “Tomato” (xihongshi) for Bo himself, the article said.

The blog Offbeat China also published a list of key words used by bloggers as well as sample blog posts that incorporated the codes, the article said.

“The team led by Master Kong beef instant noodle was defeated because they lost tomato and it was a great loss,” one post read.

Jason Q. Ng of Owni.eu explained that China’s complex censorship system operates through a combination of restrictions: a government-issued blacklist of content, or the great firewall, in which banned words and controversial statements are physically blocked or removed; and self-imposed restrictions by Chinese companies and users out of fear of legal repercussions.

Since Twitter is banned in China, microblogging sites such as Weibo have become increasingly popular, Ng wrote. Weibo, too, imposes strict regulations on users, blocking searches of banned words or showing users an error message if posts are too controversial, he said.

“Users are at greater risk than ever now that Weibo and other micro-blogs are beginning to require real names during registration,” Ng wrote. “Though the company and government claim that this is merely to hold users accountable for spreading misinformation and malicious rumors, it’s clear that such a measure is designed to head off the type of political commentary that could lead to an online-inspired Jasmine Revolution.”

Despite these harsh restrictions for users, Ng expressed confidence in the skill of Chinese microbloggers in spreading their messages.

“Internet users are clever, and with ever-growing information about how companies and governments censor content online, the mice may never be caught,” he said.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the spotlight of Chinese censorship may even be on the politicians themselves. The CPJ blog reported that several websites supporting Bo were blocked shortly after his dismissal.

Although many of the blog posts may lack journalistic credibility, they still speak to the innovative power of social media to allow those with limited outlets to spread messages virally.

Sources: The Guardian, Owni.eu, Offbeat China, CPJ


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-23 14:36

Tanya Cordrey, digital development director for Guardian News and Media, announced that traffic from The Guardian’s Facebook app surpassed traffic from Google searches on multiple occasions this past February, predicting that social will eventually drive traffic more than search overall, journalism.co.uk reported.

In the spring issue of Nieman Reports, past newspaper editors of The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and others responded to this question: “What would you change if you were back in charge?” Read some of their insights here

Editor & Publisher discusses six easy strategies that newspapers can use to establish more of a digital presence, including engaging with readers through social networking

Roy Greenslade of The Guardian urges greater protections from the UN for journalists, in light of a UNESCO meeting that will debate the issue of government failure to prosecute killings of members of the media

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


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-22 17:53

The Associated Press announced today that Gary Pruitt, the chairman, president and CEO of The McClatchy Co., will become its newest chief executive officer in July, succeeding current President and CEO Tom Curley upon his retirement, The New York Times Media Decoder blog reported.

McClatchy owns 30 daily papers and is the third largest US newspaper publisher. Pruitt will be succeeded by Pat Talamantes as the new CEO of McClatchy and by Kevin McClatchy as chairman, the article said.

Pruitt, who spent 28 years at McClatchy, is no stranger to the AP, serving on its Board of Directors for nine years, according to an AP press release. He also formerly served as a chair of the Newspaper Association of America.

In the press release, Pruitt praised Curley’s tenure as chief executive, as well as the digital direction the AP has embraced in recent years.

“The Associated Press is the most important news organization in the world and an essential force in democracy,” he said. “Tom Curley has made AP an industry leader in looking for new ways to grow in this digital era. AP’s work on digital platforms, e-commerce models and making video fully accessible opens doors for new audiences for AP as well as AP print and broadcast members and customers. I’m honored to play a role in AP’s next phase of growth and innovation.”

The press release emphasized Pruitt’s experience with the rapidly-changing news industry, especially in regards to digital platforms. Under Pruitt, McClatchy, along with Gannett and Tribune Co., developed the job advertising company CareerBuilder.com, as previously reported.

Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and MediaNews Group Inc., said, “In Gary, we have chosen a seasoned and worthy successor to Tom Curley to continue AP’s transition to a digital news company. Gary has deep experience in the changing world of the news industry, an acute business sense and an overriding understanding of and commitment to AP’s news mission.”

Similarly, incoming AP Chairman Mary Junck said in the release, “Gary’s experience spans a wide range of media, from print to digital, but he also has been closely involved in successful media advertising efforts and technology partnerships that play such a crucial role in the news industry today.”

It remains to be seen whether Pruitt can successfully navigate the AP through these difficult times for the news industry. In an interview with The Guardian shortly after announcing his retirement, Curley voiced concern about various aspects of the industry, including an increasingly rapid news cycle, licensing content agreements with news aggregators and shrinking advertising revenue.

“I think it's worse now than it's ever been,” Curley told The Guardian about licensing issues. “There are more and more organizations that are being created seemingly each day, getting funded by private equity or hedge funds, to basically free-ride on other people's content.”

Despite these concerns, Curley seemed optimistic about Pruitt’s ability to lead the AP, according to the AP press release.

“He is a strong decision-maker and experienced leader with excellent management skills,” he said. “Gary has demonstrated profound admiration for AP’s staff and is deeply committed to upholding AP’s values and its global role as the definitive source for trusted news.”

Sources: The New York Times Media Decoder, Associated Press, The Guardian


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-22 15:45

With the debut of its redesigned website, French national daily newspaper Le Monde combined enhanced visual media and user participation in hopes of creating a more social news experience.

Le Monde.fr, the third most trafficked media site in France, launched its new format on Monday, as previously reported. Features of the site include more space for visual media, categorical tabs for each section of the news and a live chat window.

Editors Weblog spoke with Le Monde.fr Editor-in-Chief Alexis Delcambre about his primary goals for the newspaper in the online realm.

Social networking and the news

“The first objective is to improve the editorial formats that we’ve been experimenting with in our newsroom for a year,” Delcambre said.

One such new format is the “Live” feature, a chat window that appears on the home page of Le Monde.fr. On “Live,” users can ask questions of Le Monde journalists or make comments about certain topics, with journalists responding to their queries in real time. Delcambre said the feature is an innovation in France.

“It is inspired by chat windows that exist on Facebook and on Google Docs, just like a chat with a friend,” Delcambre said. “We sought to reproduce this format on our site so that when one participates on “Live,” one can have a dialogue with our editorial staff.”

As we previously reported, regional Swedish newspaper Norran offers a live online chat box, eEditor, in which users can suggest story ideas to journalists in the newsroom. UK daily The Guardian also recently began a Newsdesk live feature, in which journalists post breaking news and which stories they plan to cover on a daily blog for readers to see.

Delcambre said that “Live” aims to add an interactive dimension to the Le Monde website. Live chats not only allow users to question the editorial staff, but help journalists to better understand what information their readers want, he said.

The newsroom staff monitor the comments, choosing which to respond to on “Live,” he said. The task of responding to the questions posed in the chat window, while designated by time slots, is often a collaborative effort, he said.

“If they need to ask one journalist who is specialized in some subject or another, they can ask them to come and join the chat,” he said.

The staff also aimed to better integrate social networking into the site, making it easier to share information among users, he said. Icons which allow users to follow Le Monde on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can be found on the top of the home page.

Looks matter, too

Delcambre said that in addition to increasing its interactive characteristics, the redesign of Le Monde.fr was equally dedicated to upgrading the visual format of the site. Photographs, animated graphics and videos now have much larger designated spaces on the site, he said. 

Another objective of the newsroom was to better demonstrate the rich thematic content of Le Monde through the structure of the home page, he said. Under the new design, the home page is strictly divided into categories, such as International, Politics, Society, Economy, and Culture.

“It is a very organized site, with an important hierarchy on the home page,” Delcambre said.

On the main toolbar, a tab is also included for the subscriber section. Rather than implementing a paywall, Le Monde.fr separates its free content from paid content with a premium option that gives paying readers full access to the newspaper on the web, on a mobile phone or on an iPad.

Straight from the readers’ mouths

Delcambre also said the newsroom has been very open to questions from readers and feedback about the changes, whether positive or negative.

“It’s very useful for our newsroom to get questions from the readers because it helps to choose in which way we must work,” he said.

He said readers sometimes provide valuable news information, which the staff then fact checks and occasionally publishes.

“Of course it's also useful to get critics,” he said. “For example, this weekend we had a live chat on the new layout of our website, and we received some congrats and also some critics, and there was a critique about some technical points which we managed to fix during the weekend.”

Le Monde.fr operated a test-launch this past Saturday, during which the staff received about 3,000 comments from users.

A test of integration

Delcambre also discussed the recent integration of the print and online political teams at Le Monde in relation to the new website.

“Our newsrooms are not integrated,” he said. “The teams covering the presidential campaign are integrated, but this is a test of a new organization which began in September and which will end in June.”

“After this test we will decide whether we go on or whether we change something or another,” he said. “Maybe we will try another model.”

Delcambre also noted that “the digital newsroom and the mainly print newsroom, of course, work more and more together every day.”

“I think that we have two different medias, well let’s say, rather, two different products,” he said. “We have one product which is very hard news, very reactive, very social, very mobile-oriented, and which is free. And we have another product which is mainly paid for, mainly print … and I think that our aim is that everyone in our organization can contribute to one product or another. But we have not reached this point.”

*Some quotes translated from the original French

Sources: Le Monde.fr, The Guardian


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Gianna Walton


2012-03-21 15:09

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