WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Tue - 23.01.2018


October 2012

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Disaster tends to catch New Yorkers at their best, and the reaction to Hurricane Sandy’s onslaught on America’s East Coast is no exception. Stories of courage and altruism abound – even from the unlikeliest of sources. Inevitably, however, there is the exception that proves the rule, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it was in the murkier backwaters of Twitter that mendacity and rank skullduggery did their best to sully the pure waters of civic solidarity. Shashank Tripathia, a hedge fund manager and sometime Republican activist, made it his mission to anonymously propagate noisy misinformation about the storm under the Twitter handle ‘@comfortablysmug’, spiking emergency communications with malicious and seemingly pointless untruths. Many of his tweets, such as ‘BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under more than 3 feet of water’, were repeated unchallenged by CNN and other mainstream broadcasters before being finally repudiated, and were received with obvious anxiety and alarm.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-31 18:12

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Question of the day: What is the relationship between the so-called "Frankenstorm" and anthropogenic (human-driven) climate change? Hint: This is not a question that can be answered in 140 characters.

Attributing a single extreme weather event such as a sub-tropical cyclone called Sandy to the human-driven shift in global climate (or, what Andrew Revkin calls "the overall experiment we're conducting on the planet's atmosphere") is, for now, impossible.

But to report on this storm in isolation, without regard for the climatic context in which it is situated, would be to paint an incomplete picture of a reality that affects us all.

Here are six articles by journalists and scientists who have successfully risen to the significant challenge of situating Sandy in its Frankencontext.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-30 19:14

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It has now been said repeatedly that India – together with Brazil – is a booming market for newspapers. Factors include economic growth, urbanization, an expanding middle class and rising literacy rates, as a recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has said. As much has been written recently on the Indian news media last month, Professor George Brock, Head of Journalism at City University, collected the links in one place.

During catastrophes, reliable data is an essential part of news coverage. The Guardian Datablog mapped every verified event when Hurricane Sandy hit the US East Coast.

Author

Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-10-30 18:53

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‘One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors’, remarks Plato in Book I of The Republic – and that was in fifth-century Athens, the cradle of democracy, political freedom and western culture. One feels that his diagnosis of the present miasma of dysfunction, corruption and post-modernistic nihilism at the heart of Greek governance may have elaborated on that aphorism somewhat. 

Indeed, the headline of an article in today’s Guardian by the recently arrested journalist Kostas Vaxevanis makes a similar point. In publishing the names of over 2,000 wealthy Greeks alleged to have Swiss bank accounts, Vaxevanis attracted censure from authorities who seem more concerned with the prosecution of journalists than with suspected tax dodgers and money launderers. The standoff coincides with a strike due to start today over the suspension of two popular television presenters after they criticized a government official, in what together amounts to a significant assault on freedom of expression by a political class who appear to either comprise or be in thrall to the moneyed elite.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-30 18:43

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South African President Jacob Zuma has withdrawn a four year-old defamation claim against Avusa Media, publisher of the Sunday Times newspaper, over a 2008 depiction by cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (known by the pen name “Zapiro”) of Zuma dropping his pants as he prepares to rape a female personification of the justice system.

The case was due to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court today. Instead, Zuma announced his decision to drop the claim in a statement on Saturday, citing a desire “to avoid setting a legal precedent that may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech, with the unforeseen consequences this may have on our media, public commentators and citizens.”

Initially, Zuma had claimed damages totaling 5 million rand ($580,000)-- 4 million from Avusa Media for defamation, as well as 1 million from the former editor of the Sunday Times Mondli Makhanya for insulting the President’s dignity. Last week, Zuma’s lawyers reduced the claim to 100,000 rand ($11,500) and an apology. Under the new settlement, the President has dropped all charges, and will pay 50 percent of the defendants’ legal costs.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-29 17:51

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Microsoft’s Windows Store opened its virtual doors today, and “developers are working fast and furiously to stock the shelves” with cloud-based apps for it new Windows 8 operating system, according to CEO Steve Ballmer.

For publishers, the download center represents a new frontier with two major benefits: the potential to tap into a large global audience, and a more favourable division of revenue from digital subscriptions.

The Windows operating system is currently used by most of the world’s PCs, but PC sales have been stagnant for the past two years. With the new software, Microsoft appears to be betting on tablets and smartphones (Windows 8 features an interface optimized for touchscreens), sales of which are rising around the world. It has opened its Windows Store in 231 countries as of today, and is allowing developers to write apps in 109 languages thus far. Ballmer has said that he expects nearly 400 million computers, tablets and phones to run Windows 8 software within the year.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-26 18:11

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An innovative new online platform combining games, news forums and long-form journalism launched on Wednesday in an industry comparable to Hollywood in terms of its social and economic impact. Vox Media’s long awaited new website, Polygon, finally went live this week, representing a significant advance in what is still an embryonic synthesis between video games and traditional journalistic methods. ‘Video games have always been defined by change,’ says editor in chief Christopher Grant, ‘and right now we’re living in the middle of the most rapid change in video game history with mobile gaming, social gaming and web gaming’.

The site is primarily a source for video game news and reviews, but will contain more unorthodox features focusing on the developers and players hitherto unaccustomed to the limelight. ‘A lot of what we have is brands,’ Managing Director Justin McElroy said. ‘What we’re hoping to do is by turning the camera a little more on the people, people can realize who is making these things and follow them.' 

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-26 13:05

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‘Privacy is for paedos’. ‘Circulation defines the public interest’. ‘In 21 years of invading people’s privacy I’ve never found anybody doing any good’. Fleet street veteran Paul McMullan’s take on modern journalism as related to the Leveson inquiry may not be pretty, but it sets in sharp relief the starkly amoral wasteland of sections of the tabloid press, the precise contours of which Lord Justice Leveson has been tasked to expose. In defending, amongst other things, hacking into the mobile telephone of a murdered schoolgirl, McMullan’s stance is abhorrent; yet it is also compelling, since it is the definitive articulation of what the Guardian called ‘the end point of the regulation-free, market-driven, anything-goes tabloid morality’.

Solutions to the present crisis are not noted for possessing a similar degree of uncompromising certainty, unless it is for that which is emphatically not desired. Large sections of the printed media face a paradoxical impasse, recognizing that the status quo of self-regulation has failed, but viewing any sort of official or statutory regulation as the death knell for freedom of speech. Before Leveson reports next month, therefore, the Carnegie Trust has taken the startlingly innovative step of bothering to ask the public exactly what they think should happen next, the results of which are rather revealing.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-25 17:51

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“Get the wider story”, says the new photography iPad app that Reuters launched last week.

Aiming to re-imagine the way news photography can engage its audience on a multimedia platform, The Wider Image app offers the public a selection of the best photos gathered by the news agency's vast network of photographers around the world.

The Wider Image takes advantage of new storytelling possibilities on the iPad.

Stories are a swirl of photos, narrative slideshows, interactive sequences, testmonies by photographers, expanded fact boxes and data charts and locations viewed on a world map. The Wider Image has been launched with over 100 stories and 50 in-depth photographer profiles, with more to be added regularly.

Author

Federica Cherubini

Date

2012-10-25 17:11

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On Monday, the day incoming New York Times CEO Mark Thompson was supposed to be welcomed with an awkward class photo at the newspaper’s headquarters, memo leaker extraordinaire Jim Romenesko published an email from the Newspaper Guild of New York’s ‘Mobilization Committee’ affirming that hundreds of The Times’ staffers had quietly pledged to “withhold their bylines, photo credits, and producing credits” (aka to hold a 'byline strike') and to “work strictly to the terms of the contract” if necessary.

This email came well over a year into contract negotiations between the Guild and The Times' management. It argued that the newspaper’s negotiators are seeking to implement “what amount to the most radical pay cuts for the New York Times staff in modern history” and spread the word on ways in which irate staffers could get their voices heard, the byline strike and working to contract ideas being two such suggestions. Its sender was Grant Glickson, Chairperson of The Times unit of the Newspaper Guild of New York.

“We don’t know yet if we will have to go down this road, but it is vital that we be prepared,” wrote Glickson.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-24 18:28

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With four days to go before the Ukrainian parliamentary elections on 28 October, the outlook for freedom of expression in the country’s media remains decidedly mixed. As the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today starts the second cycle of its Universal Periodic Review, Reporters Without Borders (who, like WAN-IFRA, have this year compiled a report on the subject) have ‘sounded the alarm’ over conditions surrounding freedom of information which, it states, ‘have worsened to such a degree that the country is at a turning point’. Ukraine has long been a concern for free speech campaigners; background to the ongoing international dialogue can be found in recent posts on this blog here and here, along with the full report from the delegation sent there in July of this year.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-24 17:12

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A Brazilian car washer caused some of his loved ones to faint and others to run away in fear when he strolled into his mother’s home during his own funeral, police said yesterday. I am aware of this because the Toronto Star wrote about it, and during its first 12 hours the story was one of the most shared news reports out of Canada on the web (alongside two about hockey). I learned this through Spike, a tool that uses social metrics to track the world’s hottest news stories.

Developed by Dublin-based start-up NewsWhip and launched in beta last week, Spike uses tracking technology to find out which stories are getting the most attention on Facebook and Twitter. Users can monitor the web’s most viral stories by time frame (published in the past one, three, 12 or 24 hours), by region (currently the site has an Anglo-Saxon focus, but it is expanding) by topic, and by publisher. NewsWhip has designed Spike as a pro tool for journalists, and plans to begin charging later this year, according to Journalisk.co.uk. Until November 7, however, the tool is free for anyone to use without signing up.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-24 15:45

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In a recent landmark ruling, the British High Court has adjudicated in favour of a former Bank of Scotland director after he sued Associated Newspapers for libel. In his judgment, which concerned two articles published in the Mail on Sunday in May and June 2011, Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled that the newspaper printed defamatory allegations against the prominent Asian businessman Infran Qadir without stating that they were entirely disputed by him, and falsely claiming that he declined to comment on those allegations. Since the stories were based predominantly on court documents, the newspaper group asserted its right to statutory and common law qualified privilege, a defence rejected by the Judge on the grounds that there was no public interest in articles which were ‘unbalanced’, contained ‘misinformation’, and were ‘not the product of responsible journalism’.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-23 17:19

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Flash quiz: what is the highest-circulation English-language newspaper in the world?

(Hint: Rupert Murdoch doesn’t own it.)

The correct answer, as you are likely aware, is the Times of India, which has a circulation of 4.3 million, and reaches an average of 7.64 million readers with each issue.

While money may not exactly be growing on trees in the news industry these days, the 174-year-old title, published by family-owned media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman & Company (B.C.C.L.), is planted in fertile soil: it is the most widely read English-language daily in a country where newspaper circulation is rising by 8 percent per year overall, and 1.5 percent per year for English-language newspapers.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-23 09:28

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There is little doubt that the powerful and famous in France have an easier time of it - in both the eyes of the media and the public - than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts when it comes to their private lives. The scandals of recent and less recent years involving senior French politicians, sometimes involving the sort of baffling sexual complexity and clandestine intrigue that wouldn’t be out of place at Louis XIV’s Versailles, would have felled their British or American equivalents before they could say ‘Je suis désolé’. Yet Hollande is still in the Élysée, Mitterrand was President for 14 years without the existence of his ‘secret family’ ever being acknowledged, and it would be rash to bet against a comeback from the famously indefatigable Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-22 18:09

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Google has extended a warning to France’s news publishers: quit trying to make us pay a tax on the snippets of your content displayed by Google News, or you will soon find yourselves un-Google-able. The word may sound like gobbledygook, but the danger is real: the exclusion of the country’s media from the search giant’s results is a worrisome prospect.

Google addressed its warning in the form of a letter to several French ministries earlier this month, AFP revealed yesterday. “I’m a bit surprised by the tone of this correspondence, which sounds like a threat,” replied Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti. “You don’t deal with a democratically-elected government by making threats.”

Two groups of France’s news publishers, who consider themselves insufficiently compensated for the traffic generated on Google News by bits of their own content, have been looking for a way to share in Google’s advertising revenues since the spring, according to Le Figaro.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-19 18:33

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The micro-blogging site Twitter announced yesterday that it had blocked the account of a neo-Nazi group accused by German authorities of inciting hatred towards foreigners. In a landmark case, unprecedented in pitting concerns over censorship and free speech against national laws on the incitement to racial hatred, the company said it had complied with a request by German police who have been monitoring the activities of the banned far-right group ‘Besseres Hannover’ (‘Better Hannover’) for some time. In a tweet posted on the website, Twitter’s chief lawyer Alex Macgillivray stated:

‘We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We're using it now for the first time re: a group deemed illegal in Germany.’

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-19 18:02

Anabel Hernandez
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The escalating and disturbing threat to the safety of journalists drew together an extraordinary group of editors, frontline journalists, professionals and press freedom monitoring groups from the global media community at the BBC College of Journalism in London yesterday.

They signed an eight point declaration to express concern and demand action from governments to stop the killing and harassment and to end impunity.

The World Editors Forum and WAN-IFRA, representing editors, publishers and news organisations in 120 countries, signed the London Declaration ahead of the United Nations Vienna Inter-Agency meeting with media and journalist organisations on 22-23 November.

In a move of rare solidarity, representatives from major newspapers and broadcasters in some of the most dangerous countries for journalists, including Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, Sri Lanka and Somalia, agreed that threats, both physical and legal must end.

Author

Cherilyn Ireton

Date

2012-10-19 15:06

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After 80 years in print, the venerable US magazine Newsweek will adopt an entirely digital format from the beginning of 2013, publishing its final print edition on December 31. In an announcement this morning, posted on the website of partner site The Daily Beast, Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown explained:

‘In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in years ahead.’

According to Newsweek’s most recent publishers statement filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations, print circulation of the magazine has dropped 51 percent since 2007. Such a decline contrasts with the relative success of its online component, again highlighted in Brown’s statement:

The Daily Beast now attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, a 70 percent increase in the past year alone – a healthy portion of this traffic generated each week by Newsweek’s strong original journalism’.

The new digital publication will be called Newsweek Global and will be supported by a paid subscription model. The Daily Beast will remain a separate site.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-18 17:36

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The suspension of New York Times columnist Andrew Goldman after posting offensive comments on Twitter has once again focused debate on the practicality or otherwise of social media ‘codes of conduct’ for journalists. Goldman, a freelance writer who regularly contributes the ‘Talk’ feature of the NYT magazine, found himself in hot water after he responded intemperately to criticism of his line of questioning to the Hollywood actress Tippi Hedren in a previous article. The subsequent altercation on the micro-blogging site with novelist Jennifer Weiner and others did not, to echo the Emperor of Japan in 1945, necessarily develop to his advantage.

Ironically, the initial question posed to Hedren – whether she had ever considered sleeping with a director in order to advance her career – might be reasonably defended as cheeky yet not entirely inappropriate, particularly since she was famed for having rebuffed the lecherous advances of Alfred Hitchcock, to the considerable detriment of her career.  His tweeted response, however, proved to be what some are already calling the ‘Tippi point’ vis a vis giving him the benefit of the doubt:

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-18 15:15

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It's been circa two days since the app was launched, so you're likely familiar with the essentials: Circa is a mobile-first media/tech start-up that has deconstructed the article, seeking a more direct way to place news in the palm of your hand. 

This means discarding "fluff," "filler" and "commentary," and keeping only "essential points" such as facts, quotes, photos and maps, each of which is presented on its own "flash card" (two examples pictured).

Today, Editors Weblog Skyped with Circa's founding editor David Cohn about whether Circa's intentions toward the article are murderous, and what a newsroom without reporting looks like. In the spirit of the pared-down, fluff-free news, here is a (nearly untouched) transcript of our conversation.

How has it gone so far? Are you happy with the number of downloads, and the responses you are getting?

So far - feeling pretty good. To be honest, I don't even know how many downloads we have. I haven't looked. But we were the #1 app in the news section Monday and Tuesday. That's always an exciting thing for a startup. Responses have been great.

Link: 

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-18 09:32

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‘The buck stops with Candy’, screamed the US’s Fox News; ‘Candy Crowley sides with Obama’, fulminated the UK’s Daily Mail. Such a reaction from two well-known conservative media outlets in response to moderator Candy Crowley’s performance in last night’s second US presidential debate seems both unsurprising and unremarkable, given both the innately problematic nature of the job and her own prior indications of how she would complete it. The tussle between those who proclaim their journalistic impartiality and those who assert the presence of political bias is as old as the hills; given her unapologetically robust analysis of the role beforehand – ‘to give the conversation direction and get the questions answered’ – controversy was perhaps inevitable.

Author

Frederick Alliott

Date

2012-10-17 17:29

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The New York Times is planning to further extend its international reach and tap into the promising Brazilian advertising market by launching a Portuguese-language website in the second half of next year.

The revelation follows a similar move by the Financial Times, which opened a newspaper printing plant in São Paulo earlier this month, and is taking strides to expand its Latin American web presence with a tailored homepage and mobile app.

For more on this story please see our sister publication www.sfnblog.com

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-17 15:51

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Guardian News & Media names Wolfgang Blau digital strategy director, The Guardian

Wolfgang Blau, currently editor of Die Zeit online, will be the Guardian’s new digital strategy director, starting in April 2013. He has been tasked with "creating and tailoring content for digital with a view to maximising revenue and audience," the paper said. One interesting point about the appointment is that in contrast to the Guardian’s highly integrated approach, at Die Zeit Blau has championed keeping the print and online versions of the paper as independent entities. There is only a six percent overlap between print and digital, he said in May. What elements of this experience will he bring to the Guardian?

Robert Steiner: In Toronto, we’re dumping the j-school model to produce a new kind of reporter, Nieman Lab

Author

Emma Goodman

Date

2012-10-16 19:07


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