Friday, December 29, 2006

Listing of CT Journalism syllabus

1. Syllabi - Curriculum Outlines and Ideas Computer-Assisted Reporting - Database Journalism Online Research - Information-Gathering Methods Investigative Reporting/Public Affairs Reporting

  • 2. College syllabi on computer-assisted reporting, precision journalism and news research

  • 3. Introduction to ICT Journalism Syllabi

  • 4. Database & Public Records Reporting/JOU3121

  • 5. Online Journalism Course Syllabi

  • 6. Computer Assisted Reporting, COMM-535
  • Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Search Wikia : A project to create the search engine that changes everything.

    Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken.

    Why is it broken? It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency. Here, we will change all that.

    There have been some amazing projects in recent years which have matured now to the point that a new alternative is possible. Wikia is funding and supporting the development of something radically new.

    Nutch and Lucene and some other projects now provide the background infrastructure that we need to generate a new kind of search engine, which relies on human intelligence to do what algorithms cannot. Just as Wikipedia revolutionized how we think about knowledge and the encyclopedia, we have a chance now to revolutionize how we think about search.

    Help me out, spread the word. I am looking for people to continue the development of a wiki-inspired search engine. Specifically community members who would like to help build people-powered search results and developers to help us build an open-source alternative for web search. Join the mailing list."

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Broadcasting TV on the Internet via Democracy Platform

    Democracy Platform provides the opportunity to build a new, open mass medium of online television. The aim is to develop Democracy internet TV platform so that watching internet video channels will be as easy as watching TV and broadcasting a channel will be open to everyone. Unlike traditional TV, everyone will have a voice.

    Saturday, December 23, 2006

    The annual IRE Award

    The annual IRE Awards recognize outstanding investigative work in several categories. The top award given is the IRE Medal. The contest also helps identify the techniques and resources used to complete each story. Entries are placed in the IRE Resource Center, allowing members to learn from each other.

    It's important to note that the IRE Awards program is unique in its efforts to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by a member of the IRE Board of Directors or an IRE contest judge may not be entered in the contest. This often represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual — and sometimes an entire newsroom. The IRE membership appreciates this devotion to the values of the organization.

    Entries will be judged on the basis of the IRE definition of investigative reporting:
    "The reporting, through one's own initiative and work product, of matters of importance to readers, viewers or listeners. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed."
    Thus, entries will be judged on the following criteria. They must:

    * be substantially the product of the reporter's own initiative and effort.
    * uncover facts that someone or some agency may have tried to keep from public scrutiny
    * be about issues of public importance to the readers, viewers or listeners.

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    Study: Journalists jailed around the world for Internet work on the rise

    Associated Press Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) -- When Iranian journalist Mojtaba Saminejad was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the country's Supreme Leader, it was not for an article that appeared in a newspaper. His offending story was posted on his personal Web blog.

    Nearly one-third of journalists now serving time in prisons around the world published their work on the Internet, the second-largest category behind print journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in an analysis released Thursday.

    The bulk of Internet journalists in jail -- 49 in total -- shows that "authoritarian states are becoming more determined to control the Internet," said Joel Simon, the New York-based group's executive director.

    "It wasn't so long ago that people were talking about the Internet as a new medium that could never be controlled," he said. "The reality is that governments are now recognizing they need to control the Internet to control information."

    Other noteworthy imprisoned Internet journalists include U.S. video blogger Joshua Wolf, who refused to give a grand jury his footage of a 2005 protest against a G-8 economic summit, and China's Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year sentence for posting online instructions by the government on how to cover the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

    For the second year in a row, CPJ's annual survey found the total number of journalists in jail worldwide has increased. There were 134 reporters, editors and photographers incarcerated as of Dec. 1, nine more than a year ago.

    In addition to the Internet writers, the total includes 67 print journalists, eight TV reporters, eight radio reporters and two documentary filmmakers.

    Among the 24 nations that have imprisoned reporters, China topped the list for the eighth consecutive year with 31 journalists behind bars -- 19 of them Internet journalists.

    Cuba was second with 24 reporters in prison. Nearly all of them had filed their reports to overseas-based Web sites.

    The U.S. government and military has detained three journalists, including Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who was taken into custody in Iraq nine months ago and has yet to be charged with a crime.

    CPJ recorded the first jailing of an Internet reporter in its 1997 census. Since then, the number has steadily grown and now includes reporters, editors and photographers whose work appeared primarily on the Internet, in e-mails or in other electronic forms.

    The increase is a testament to the increasing attention of government censors to the Internet, media experts say.

    "I refer to the freedom of the press as the canary in the coal mine," said Joshua Friedman, director of international programs at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. "It's a barometer of the insecurity of the people running these governments. One of the things that makes them insecure these days is the power of the Internet."

    The rise in jailings of Internet journalists is also an indication that reporters in authoritarian countries are increasingly using the Web to circumvent state controls.

    Shi, the jailed Chinese journalist, could have published his notes on state propaganda in the Chinese magazine in Hunan province where he worked as an editorial director. He chose instead to send an e-mail from his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of a Chinese language Web forum.

    Cuban journalist Manuel Vasquez-Portal said he posted his articles on a Miami-based Web site for a similar reason.

    "Without a doubt, the Internet provided me an avenue. It was the only way to get the truth out of Cuba," he said through an interpreter.

    Vasquez-Portal, who was jailed for 15 months in 2003, said he had to call his stories in to the operator of the Web site, though, because Cubans are not allowed access to the Internet.
    On the Net:
    Committee to Protect Journalists:

    The Media Bloggers Association

    The Media Bloggers Association(MBA) is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating its members; supporting the development of "blogging" or "citizen journalism" as a distinct form of media; and helping to extend the power of the press, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, to every citizen.

    The Media Bloggers Association advances its mission as follows:

    * Promoting its members by advancing the grassroots media movement generally, showcasing exemplary instances of media blogging and citizen journalism, making members available for media appearances, and otherwise creating promotional opportunities for the MBA and its members.

    * Protecting members by defending the rights of bloggers and citizen journalists generally, providing first-line legal advice to members, and partnering with organization dedicated to promoting values enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    * Educating its members through mutual support and robust internal discussion, by partnering with organizations dedicated to education in the area of technology, methods and standards and otherwise creating educational opportunities for the MBA and its members.


    Mobile tracking devices on trial

    By Spencer Kelly

    Your mobile phone is a beacon - a radio transmitter in a box. Therefore it is possible to trace the signal and work out where it is.

    There are now several web companies which will track your friends' and family's phones for you, so you always know where they are.

    But just how safe is it to make location details available online?

    There are several reasons why you may want to track someone. You may be a company wanting to keep tabs on employees during work hours, or a parent wanting to check up on a child's whereabouts.

    These sorts of tracking services, now available in the UK, get information from the network about which cell your phone is currently in, and, for a small fee, display the location on an online map.

    As well as checking where a certain phone is right now, you can run scheduled lookups, or snail trails, to record the phone's movements throughout the day, and produce a report for you to peruse at your leisure.

    Obviously you cannot just enter any mobile phone number and expect to track someone.

    First of all you need to prove your identity, via a credit card, and then, crucially, the owner of the phone in question needs to consent to being tracked.

    The owner is sent a text message telling them about the tracking request, to which they must reply.


    The question is: is it possible to circumvent this security, and track someone without their knowledge?

    I attempted to find out, using regular contributor Guy Kewney, an independent technology journalist and, for one day only, human guinea pig.

    I sent him on a tour of London. He could go anywhere he wanted, and I planned to meet up with him later and tell him, hopefully, where he had been.

    Guy did not know that when I borrowed his phone for a few minutes earlier in the day, I took the opportunity to register it on one of the tracking services.

    I received the incoming text message warning him about the tracking, responded to it and then deleted it from his inbox.

    When I gave him his phone back, Guy had no idea he was now in possession of a consenting tracking device.

    Hence, a little while later, I could watch him emerge from the tube at the start of his tour.

    But just borrowing someone's phone for a few minutes is too obvious a loophole. It is one which has already been closed by an industry body which oversees new technologies such as mobile tracking services.

    Voluntary rules

    The Mobile Broadband Group has drawn up a voluntary code of conduct which the networks in the UK ask location providers to stick to.

    One of the conditions of the code is that after a phone is registered as a tracking device, reminder texts should be sent to the phone at random intervals.

    This way, it should be impossible for a malicious tracker to intercept every reminder.

    The problem is, those random reminders are not required to be sent very frequently.

    We tracked several phones over several days, and often had to wait for a day or two before receiving a reminder message.

    Hamish Macleod from the Mobile Broadband Group, who came up with the code of conduct, argues this is enough.

    He said: "We assessed this risk during the development of the code and consulted obviously with all the experts that we did, and the schedule of random alerts that we came up with we thought was adequate to protect against the risks.

    "This is a situation to be kept under review as the service is developed."


    With more and more children owning mobile phones, special attention needs to be given to who can track them.

    If you are not a genuine parent or guardian, the code requires location services to check that both the tracker and the person being tracked can prove they are consenting adults.

    Mr Macleod says: "The person that is to be located has to demonstrate to the service provider they are at least 16 years old.

    "They can do this through various channels, for example they can get a credit card number which is used as a proxy for age verification, or something like that."

    At least, that is what is supposed to happen. But neither of the services we tested asked the person being tracked to prove they were an adult.

    Although they did ask us for the age of the person we wanted to track, they did not check we were telling the truth.

    The companies were not following the letter of the code and, what is more, no-one was holding them to account.

    What do you make of the new mobile tracking services online? Is it ever possible for regulation to keep up with technology?

    Neither service would comment on this oversight.

    Although the code of conduct was well intentioned, the Mobile Broadband Group admits it will need refining as loopholes become apparent.

    It also highlights the limits of such voluntary codes, and the problems with policing them.

    Jago Russell from the human rights group Liberty says: "We have concerns in general about industry codes of practice. They aren't legal regulation; they don't give the consumer an effective legal remedy if the code of practice isn't complied with.

    "So in many ways they're not really worth the paper they're written on."


    As a result of our investigation, The Mobile Broadband Group is making some changes to the code of conduct.

    The frequency of the random reminders is going to be increased, and the code will make clearer the appropriate way to check the age of the participants.

    Guy Kewney says: "It's a shame but then if you start regulating new technology you usually fall down because people don't expect the unexpected.

    "The real problem is that you can't actually perceive the unintended consequences of your technology change, so a hard and fast rule that says 'don't do this' won't stop you doing that, in which case you've wasted your time passing it."

    Should we really be worried about being tracked by mobile phones?

    Guy Kewney says: "You can worry about anything in this society. If I wanted to track you, the easy way to do it is - well you've found one way, but if they've closed that loophole or if it becomes tricky - then I just hire a private detective.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/02/24 17:21:15 GMT

    © BBC MMVI

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    BBC moves to file-sharing sites

    BBC moves to file-sharing sites
    Hundreds of episodes of BBC programmes will be made available on a file-sharing network for the first time, the corporation has announced.

    The move follows a deal between the commercial arm of the organisation, BBC Worldwide, and technology firm Azureus.

    The agreement means that users of Azureus' Zudeo software in the US can download titles such as Little Britain.

    Until now, most BBC programmes found on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks have been illegal copies.

    Beth Clearfield, vice president of program management and digital media at BBC Worldwide, said that the agreement was part of a drive to reach the largest audience possible.

    "We are very excited to partner with Azureus and make our content available through this revolutionary distribution model," she said.

    High definition

    Azureus is best known for developing a BitTorrent client, or program, that allows large media files to be easily shared over the internet. The program has been downloaded more than 130 million times.

    +++++++++Once you have watched a show, you can rate it, comment on it and recommend it to a friend Gilles BianRosa, Azureus++++++++++++++++++

    Earlier this month the company launched a video sharing site similar to YouTube, codenamed Zudeo. The site allows users to upload and view content.

    However, in contrast to most video sharing sites, Zudeo offers high definition videos. Users must also download a program to access and upload content.

    The new deal means that users of the software will be able to download high-quality versions of BBC programmes, including Red Dwarf, Doctor Who and the League of Gentleman. Classic series such as Fawlty Towers will also be available through a BBC "channel".

    The titles will be protected by digital rights management software to prevent the programmes being traded illegally on the internet.

    "This will be a very different experience from traditional file-sharing networks," said Gilles BianRosa, CEO of Azureus.

    Users will also be able to link to programmes from blogs, social networks and fansites.

    "If you have Zudeo running it will take you to that programme; and if you don't, it will suggest you install it, like the first time you download a flash movie," said Mr BianRosa.

    "Once you have watched a show, you can rate it, comment on it and recommend it to a friend."

    Mr BianRosa believes the cult status of many BBC programmes will make these features appealing to Zudeo users.

    Legal services

    File-sharing is often associated with illegal distribution of copyrighted content. But in recent months a number of networks have tried to shake off this old image.

    BitTorrent, the company behind the original file-sharing software of the same name, has recently signed a number of deals with content providers, such as 20th Century Fox, in a bid to become a legitimate download service.

    Earlier this year, Sharman Networks, the owners of Kazaa, did similar deals. Kazaa uses advertising to provide content for free.

    No pricing structure for the BBC content on Zudeo has been revealed.

    Azureus is expected to announce other partnerships in the New Year.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/12/20 07:46:13 GMT

    © BBC MMVI

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Smart Phones and Reporters: Perfect Together?

    A little while back I got a call from Kevin Coughlin, reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger. He said his paper's management is urging reporters to become more techno-savvy, so he was calling some journalistic technophiles to find out which tools and services are especially useful to working reporters.

    His questions triggered a memory for me about something I observed at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference this past October.
    While there were plenty of laptops in view at the conference, I noticed an amazing number of longtime reporters whipping out various brands of smart phones and using them for diverse tasks: taking notes, performing online searches, Web surfing, recording contact information, noting events on calendars, messaging with editors, recording audio and video, taking pictures, checking e-mail and feeds, and more. Occasionally, they even used them to place phone calls.

    I was surprised because I've known many of these smart-phone-wielding reporters for a decade or more, and several of them are rather, um, technophobic. At least, they used to be. But something about smart phones seems to suit them -- maybe even better than laptops.

    One thing's for sure: A really great smart phone costs a lot less than most laptops. That might be attractive to news organizations -- or reporters who are paying out of their pockets for better gear.

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Blogging 'set to peak next year'

    The blogging phenomenon is set to peak in 2007, according to technology predictions by analysts Gartner.

    The analysts said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million.

    The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs.

    Gartner has made 10 predictions, including stating that Vista will be the last major release of Windows and PCs will halve in cost by 2010.

    Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer said the reason for the levelling off in blogging was due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog had already done so.

    He said those who loved blogging were committed to keeping it up, while others had become bored and moved on.

    ++A lot of people have been in and out of this thing
    Daryl Plummer, Gartner++

    "A lot of people have been in and out of this thing," Mr Plummer said.

    "Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."

    Last month blog tracking firm Technorati reported that 100,000 new blogs were being created every day, and 1.3 million blog posts were written.

    Technorati is tracking more than 57 million blogs, of which it believes around 55% are "active" and updated at least every three months.

    Gartner also predicted that:

    # By 2010, the average total cost of ownership of new PCs will fall by 50%

    # By 2010, 60% of the worldwide cellular population will be "trackable" via an emerging "follow-me internet"

    # By the end of 2007, 75% of enterprises will be infected with undetected, financially motivated, targeted malware that evaded their traditional perimeter and host defences
    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/12/14 09:28:05 GMT

    © BBC MMVI

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Community websites take wiki path

    The founder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is launching a service offering free tools for people who want to build community websites.

    Jimmy Wales has said his company wikia will offer software, storage and network access and that website creators can keep advertising revenue.

    Sites built with Wikia tools must provide a link to the company, which itself earns money from adverts.

    Wikipedia is built and edited by users and is free for anyone to use.

    Wikia is the commercial counterpart to the not-for-profit Wikipedia site.

    Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and is seen as a serious rival to commercial online encyclopaedias.

    It is built using wikis, open-source software which allows anyone to edit, add, delete, or replace an entry. It relies on volunteer contributors to update its pages.

    Businesses have started to embrace the wiki model to allow employees to collaborate and communicate about projects, while special-interest groups are also using them to share ideas.

    "It is open-source software and open content," Mr Wales told the Reuters news agency.

    "We will be providing the computer hosting for free, and the publisher can keep the advertising revenue."

    Thirty thousand users have posted 400,000 articles so far on sites.

    Mr Wales believes the falling cost of computers, storage and network access will mean success for the service.

    "It is becoming more and more practical and feasible to do," he said.

    "We don't have all the business model answers, but we are confident as we always have been that the wisdom of our community will prevail," he said.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/12/12 08:35:03 GMT

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

    The refereed journal Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies was launched in 1995 by members of the Media, Art & Design Department at the then University of Luton (UK), and became a quarterly in 1997. In August 2006 the University of Luton became the University of Bedfordshire.

    It is published by SAGE Publications.

    The journal's editorial base remains at the University of Bedfordshire, Luton, where we are assisted by editorial assistant Jason Wilson.

    Edited by Julia Knight (University of Sunderland, UK) and Alexis Weedon (University of Bedfordshire, UK), it has an international editorial board, with Associate Editors in the USA (Jane Singer and Amy Bruckman), the UK (Jeanette Steemers) and Australia (Rebecca Coyle).

    Convergence invites papers on multimedia, gender and technology, satellite and cable, control and censorship, copyright, electronic publishing, the internet, media policy, interactivity, education and new media technologies, screen interfaces, virtual reality, technology and arts practices, sound/music and new technologies, and media theory.
    Convergence Journal

    The February and August issues are edited by the editorial team, while the May and November issues are guest-edited themed issues.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Blogs: brilliant or biased?

    The world is witnessing an explosion of online weblogs or “blogs”. IJNet would like to explore how journalists should make use of this new medium.

    Do you have your own blog? Do you know of any journalists who are active in this medium? If yes, do you think you/they write and report about issues they can’t talk about in their own media organization? Or is it just to present a different or more personal point of view?

    Do you think bloggers have a responsibility to adhere to the standards conventional media outlets follow?

    Are there any blogs you consider to be a useful source of information? How do you verify the information posted?

    We invite you to send us your ideas. Join the discussion by going to and clicking on “Add a Comment” below. Please identify your country if possible. We reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments or block those who abuse the privilege.

    Thank you for participating.

    The IJNet Team

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Nordic Network for ICT, Media & Learning

    The purpose of the network is to create a Nordic platform for research and development in ICT, Media & Learning. Relevant research and development topics include:

    Media education
    Educational media
    Didactic design
    visit for more information

    Papers battle online news sites

    By David Reid

    "All the news that's fit to print" was once the newspaper man's slogan. Now, with news-junkies turning increasingly to the net for their daily fix of world events, papers are beginning to feel the pinch.

    Not since the internet began has there been so much free quality newspaper content on the web.

    You will have to make the most of it because the current bonanza might not last forever.

    ++I think there is no doubt that growth in electronic media is the future, but there is still a future for print.
    Larry Killman, World Association of Newspapers++

    Newspapers are still not sure what to do about the internet, no matter how determined they are to prove wrong the doomsayers who claim they are dead.

    But Larry Killman of the World Association of Newspapers believes newspapers are "far from dead".

    "People have been predicting their death for years, television was going to kill newspapers, for example," he said.

    "I think there is no doubt that growth in electronic media is the future, but there is still a future for print."

    Over the years newspapers have been pretty resilient; they managed to ride out the challenge from radio and toughed it out with TV.

    Financial challenge

    But those challenges were more about who would be first or best with the news. The internet, however, is hitting papers where it hurts, in their pockets.

    "For more than 100 years journalism has been sustained by this virtuous circle in which the audience paid for their news, and the advertiser paid to reach that audience, and the publisher made a profit and paid his journalists and the society benefited into the bargain," said Michael Oreskes, executive editor of the International Herald Tribune.

    "That whole circle breaks down on the internet. This requires wildly creative thinking on the part of media companies to preserve the base of support that's created quality journalism for all these years.

    "And that's a subject that the whole of society needs to be interested in and not just those whose livelihood depends on it."

    The big question facing major papers is how can they compete with free. News used to be a saleable commodity, now they seem to be giving it away.

    ++I do think the internet is a problem, but it is also the solution
    Fabrice Rousselot, Libération++

    Papers like Metro have borrowed the internet's business model and make money solely through advertising.

    Given their fix of news, many people will not now fork out for a paper.

    That is hurting papers like France's Libération. It has traditionally shunned advertising it deemed politically compromising and relied on its cover price for its income.

    It is now in financial crisis: its doors threatening to close for good. The paper partly blames the internet.

    Complimentary strategy

    "I do think the internet is a problem, but it is also the solution," said Fabrice Rousselot, Libération's internet editor.

    "The mistake I think for any kind of media today would be to think they could do anything without the internet.

    "You have to integrate the internet as part of your business model."

    Which leaves papers with the problem of what, out of the pile of content they produce, should they put on the web?

    There is not much point, for example, putting exactly the same stuff on the website as they put in the paper.

    "If you offer on your website the exact same content as in your newspaper, why would people buy the newspaper? It makes no sense economically," said Mr Rousselot.

    "But if you show people that the content on the website is only made richer in the newspaper the next morning because what you have on the website in terms of news is becoming an analysis, is becoming a report from abroad, is becoming some kind of a huge interview on the newspaper, then there is a sense to it."

    While web strategy is being bandied around as the sink or swim buzzword of the moment, newspapers freely admit that no-one really knows for sure whether what they are doing is going to pay off in the end.


    The International Herald Tribune now sees itself as a media organisation rather than just a paper; their website features video stories and has taken the step of charging for premium content.

    "Good journalism costs money and so we are trying to see what we can do to make sure we can continue to grow and support the business," said Meredith Artley, director of digital development at the International Herald Tribune.

    "So far it is working. The advertising is growing at a huge rate and we are seeing, especially with mobile devices, that readers will pay for something they know that's valuable.

    "They'll do it on the web too, but with mobiles it is a little bit different. People will download things, they will pay for them.

    "So we are exploring that. It is still a little bit of experimentation, but that is what all this is about."

    These are scary times for newspapers and a crucial time for society.

    A fully functioning media needs more than fast reacting rolling news, it also needs newspapers which spend more time chewing over what the news actually means.

    There is a problem with free: it often comes unpackaged and without the know-how to understand it.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2006/12/08 15:42:16 GMT

    © BBC MMVI

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist

    by Dan Gillmor


    The rise of the citizen journalist is not a new phenomenon. People have been witnessing and taking pictures of notable events for a long, long time. And they’ve been selling them to traditional news organizations just as long.

    But professional photojournalists, and more recently videographers, have continued to make good livings at a craft that helps inform the rest of us about the world we live in. That craft has never been more vibrant, or vital. But the ability to make a living at it will crumble soon.

    The pros who deal in breaking news have a problem. They can’t possibly compete in the media-sphere of the future. We’re entering a world of ubiquitous media creation and access. When the tools of creation and access are so profoundly democratized, and when updated business models connect the best creators with potential customers, many if not most of the pros will fight a losing battle to save their careers.

    Let’s do a little time travel.

    Zapruder cameraThis movie camera captured the most famous pictures in the citizen-media genre: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Abraham Zapruder, the man pointing the camera that day in Dealey Plaza, sold the film to Life Magazine for $150,000 — about half a million dollars in today’s currency.Zapruder Frame 246

    In Dealey Plaza that day, one man happened to capture a motion picture — somewhat blurred but utterly gruesome nonetheless — of those terrible events. Zapruder’s work, by any standard we can imagine, was an act of citizen journalism.

    Now consider what media tools people carry around with them routinely today — or, better yet, consider what they'’l have a decade from now. And then take yourself, and those tools, back to 1963.

    Dozens or hundreds of people in Dealey Plaza would have been capturing high-definition videos of the assassination, most likely via their camera-equipped mobile phones as well as devices designed to be cameras and little else. They’d have been capturing those images from multiple perspectives. And — this is key — all of those devices would have been attached to digital networks.

    If soon-to-be-ubiquitous technology had been in use back in 1963, at least several things are clear. One is that videos of this event would have been posted online almost instantly. Professional news organizations, which would also have had their own videos, would have been competing with a blizzard of other material almost from the start — and given traditional media’s usually appropriate reluctance to broadcast the most gruesome images (e.g. the Nick Berg beheading in Iraq), the online accounts might well be a primary source.

    (Less germane to the topic here, we’d also soon have a three-dimensional hologram of the event, given the number of cameras capturing it from various angles. And we’d probably know for sure whether someone was shooting at the president from behind that famous grassy knoll.)

    Consider, as well, how we might remember the horror of September 11, 2001 under similar circumstances. Recall that people inside the World Trade Center towers and on the four hijacked airplanes were making mobile-phone calls to loved ones, colleagues and authorities. Suppose they had been sending videos of what was going on inside those buildings and planes to the rest of us? The day’s events would go into history with even grimmer — and even more human — detail.

    London bombingNow consider another famous picture, the one at the left. It’s the single image that we will most remember from the July 2005 bombings in London. It was taken by Adam Stacey inside the Underground (subway), as he and others escaped from a smoky train immediately after one of bombs exploded.

    Again, the production values of the image are hardly professional. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is the utter authenticity of the image, made so by the fact that the man was there at the right time with the right media-creation gear.

    In a world of ubiquitous media tools, which is almost here, someone will be on the spot every time.

    And there will be business models and methods to support their work.

    Today, YouTube is the site of choice for all kinds of videos, including newsworthy ones such as the recent abuse-by-taser of the student at the University of California, Los Angeles (more than 764,000 viewings as of today), and the racist nightclub rantings of Michael “Kramer” Richards (more than 1.2 million viewings). Both were captured by mobile-phone video cameras.

    Others will make their way to sites like the newly announced projects such as YouWitness News (a joint project of Yahoo and Reuters), or operations like Scoopt or NowPublic. They and other companies want to be aggregators of, and in some cases brokers for, citizen-created media. (Disclosures: I am teaching a class with Yahoo’s editorial director, and I’m an advisor to NowPublic.)

    If reputable photojournalists face big changes, so do the paparazzi who capture celebrities’ public (and sometimes private) doings. Bild, the trashy German tabloid, asks its Leser-Reporters to send in their own pictures — and pays handsomely. (I’ve been told, but haven’t verified, that some of the professional paparazzi are submitting photos this way, because they can make more money than through traditional dealings with the newspaper.)

    The business part of this is important. I’m highly skeptical of business models, typically conceived by Big Media Companies, that tell the rest of us: “You do all the work, and we’ll take all the money we make by exploiting it.” This is not just unethical.. It’s also unsustainable in the long run.

    Not every person who captures a newsworthy image or video necessarily wants to be paid. Stacey’s picture was widely distributed, including onto the front pages of many newspapers, in part because he put it out under a Creative Commons license allowing anyone else the right to use it in any way provided they attribute the picture to its creator. There were misunderstandings (including at least one use by a photo agency that apparently claimed at least partial credit for itself), but the licensing terms almost certainly helped spread it far and wide in a very short time.

    The problems this trend will create are not trivial. One is that democratized media tools also include easy and cheap ways to fake or alter reality.Fakeplane

    The picture at right circulated widely around the Net after Sept. 11. It purportedly shows an airliner about to hit a World Trade Center tower, with an unlucky tourist having his picture taken just before the moment of impact. The photo is fake — a composite created by a not-so-funny prankster. It was quickly debunked (see this Snopes urban-legends page, for example), but not before a lot of people were initially fooled. Some who saw the “photo” are probably still believing it was authentic.

    To weed out the phony stuff, we’ll need to combine traditional means of verification with new kinds of reputation systems. It won’t be easy, but the need for such methods is plain enough.

    So, back to our friends, the professional photo or video journalists. How can people who cover breaking news for a living begin to compete? They can’t possibly be everywhere at once. They can compete only on the stories where they are physically present — and, in the immediate future, by being relatively trusted sources.

    But the fact remains, there are far more newsworthy situations than pro picture takers. In the past, most of those situations never were captured. Not any longer.

    Is it so sad that the professionals will have more trouble making a living this way in coming years? To them, it must be — and I have friends in the business, which makes this painful to write in some ways.

    To the rest of us, as long as we get the trustworthy news we need, the trend is more positive.

    Remember, there was once a fairly healthy community of portrait painters. When photography came along, a lot of them had to find other work; or at least their ranks were not refilled when they retired. Professional portrait photographers, similarly, are less in demand today than a generation ago. But portraits have survived — and thrived.

    The photojournalist’s job may be history before long. But photojournalism has never been more important, or more widespread.

    UPDATE: The comments are producing some fascinating material. Please take a look.

    Some folks are misinterpreting what I’ve written. (Part of this is my fault, for not being crystal clear at the top that I’m talking about spot (breaking) news; I’ve fixed that.)

    I’m not saying all professional photojournalism will disappear. Great feature photography is a special skill that amateurs won’t match anytime soon, if ever. There will be many cases, as well, where even the pros get in place to capture the spot-news picture.

    But they won’t be able to be everywhere at once. And in an era when news organizations are whacking away at staff as fast as they can, the pressure to use what the community can provide will be irresistible given the money it will save.

    I’m not saying this evolution is an entirely positive development (though it will help in some circumstances). I am saying it’s inevitable.

    Also: I’ve corrected Nick Berg’s first name, which I got wrong in the original piece.
    source :

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Here's The News, Help Yourself

    The Danish edition of Computerworld Online ( has thrown out most of the basic journalistic tools on its new front page:Articles are no longer organized by priority, only by time stamp.Priority has been given to tagging all articles. The idea is to focus on building related content around articles.All headlines are the same size, no matter how important the story. The entire site navigation has been hidden under a link.Some ads are the same font size and type as news articles, but have been marked with a grayish "advertisement" label.All users now can blog on the site.

    Editor Mikael Lindholm argues that the new site is user-centric, whereas the old site was based on newspaper design. The site design looks more like the average blog than anything else.

    It's true that some elements of early Web design (including site navigation) seem to be used very little by users. Maybe we should look for better ways to build navigation.

    However, I personally believe that online journalists have plenty to learn from newspaper design. We still tell all our stories in the same "design," no matter what type of story it is. Why? Simply because the average content management system (CMS) is as comfortable as a coffin when it comes to bringing a story to life. To me, the new Computerworld site design looks almost like giving up before learning to use basic tools of online communication.

    Strangely, only two months ago Mikael Lindholm quoted Microsoft's anthropologist Anne Kirah: "Print media is capable of things that the online can't do. The text, the layout, the colors, the layout, and the context makes it easier to remember and understand things when we see it on paper." (I hope I have quoted her correctly, since that's a translation of a translation).

    So, why not learn a little from paper design instead of throwing it all out?

    source: poynter