Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pulitzer Prize to embrace Web 2.0 elements

The Pulitzer Prize Board has established new rules allowing newspapers to submit a full array of online material such as databases, interactive graphics, and streaming video for its journalism awards.

An assortment of Web 2.0 elements will now be permitted in all awards except for the competition's two photography categories, which will continue to restrict entries to still images.

"This board believes that its much fuller embrace of online journalism reflects the direction of newspapers in a rapidly changing media world," said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

"In effect, a newspaper must call out which online element it wants to be considered," Gissler said. "If an element has multiple parts, such as a graphic with various entry points, the conceptual logic linking the parts must be clear."

The new submission criteria states that each online element has to be a single, discretely designated presentation - such as a database, blog, interactive graphic, slide show, or video presentation.

Each of these designated elements will count as one item in the total number of items, print or online, permitted in any entry.

Last year, for the first time, the board allowed some online content in all categories. However, with the exception of the public service category, the online work was limited to written stories or still images.

The breaking news reporting and breaking news photography categories of the awards will remain open to material published entirely on a newspaper's website.

In all other categories an entry may contain online material but it must also contain material published in the print edition.

The board also announced that the local reporting category would replace beat reporting as one of the 14 prizes.

All changes will apply to work done in 2006 for prizes awarded in 2007.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


KENYA ONLINE JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION(KOJA) is a non-profit making organization formed to strengh the unity of local Journalists in promoting growth of ICT4D
visit KOJA at

Monday, November 13, 2006

Offshoring: Coming Trend for Copy Desks?

A newsroom, bedeviled by missed deadlines, a short-handed copy desk and a lack of editing candidates, gets creative.

It finds a company that offers editing services. The company is overseas, perhaps in India or Singapore.
Powered by fiber-optic connections that carry data all the way around the world in less than a second, the off-shore company offers a money-back guarantee on deadline performance. In a pinch, it could throw 30 editors at an edition, three times as many as the newspaper could ever afford to deploy in its own office.

The quality is good. Hundreds of thousands of people in India grow up in English-speaking schools, and they're working hard to build careers. The work is cheap by U.S. standards. The rate is a third less than what the American newspaper is paying. There are no health benefits, vacations or sick days, and no utility or equipment costs to the newspaper.

Could it happen? In some respects (though not yet the copy desk), it already has.

The Chicago Tribune is moving the work of 40 circulation customer-contact workers to APAC Customer Service in the Philippines. The newspaper reported that this follows a similar action by its sister, the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times reported that, in its last months, Knight Ridder considered whether it could consolidate copy editing among widespread papers. It's not that big a leap to move that desk overseas.

Stateside copy editors, traditionally on the right side of supply-and-demand job security, are on the wrong side of offshoring. Some of the safest jobs in the newsroom are becoming the most exportable.

One company, Hi-Tech Export, offers 40 hours of proofreading and copy editing for $295. The company, located in Ahmedabad, India, started in 1992 and did data processing for other Indian companies. It has expanded its offerings and, since 2000, has been developing markets in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Its U.S. office is in Omaha.

Another company, Cicada Media in Bangalore, India, focuses on corporate and marketing communications. It offers to correct errors in grammar, spelling, usage and style, and to proofread. Sound familiar?

At The DallasMorning News recently, as people awaited word on buyouts, they griped that their in-house tech questions often were handled by techies in India.

As a recruiter, I frequently get e-mails from people in India offering to work for the Detroit Free Press. Immigration would not be an issue, as they don't plan to move. They are offering, in effect, to be trans-world telecommuters. Their pitches, naive and off-the-mark at first, are getting sharper.

Going in the other direction, U.S. companies are advertising for copy editors now on Monster India, the overseas cousin of the job site we know here.

Hi-Tech is not the problem. Nor is Cicada nor Monster nor any company in particular. The problem is that globalization, digitization and tight supply-chain management let all kinds of companies break down jobs, divvy up the parts, ship the components around the world to the best bidders and reassemble them all by deadline. The Newspaper Guild and others have fought offshoring, but protesting won't dent the incentives.

The challenge of segmentation is also the key to survival.How can copy editors -- or any workers -- protect their jobs?

The challenge of segmentation is also the key to survival. Break down the job, analyze the components and take the parts you can do best. New York Times writer Thomas L. Friedman, who laid out scenarios like this in "The World is Flat," differentiates between high-value custom work and "plain vanilla" exportable tasks. The vanilla gets gobbled up first.

The parts of a copy editor's job that would seem most vulnerable to offshoring are also the most mundane: reading proofs and editing calendar listings. How could someone overseas have enough local knowledge to edit calendar listings? The same way someone might adopt an American name and learn a regional U.S. accent to provide more comforting service from a call center 12 time zones away. It can be done.

How about wire stories? How much better are we in my newsroom in Detroit at editing stories from Asia than, say, a person in India? We know our market better, but we are further from the story. Wire stories, which receive a couple of edits before they ever get to us, could be vulnerable to offshoring. Recently, I have seen one newsroom run a shared-content, international-news page that is put together by a nearby neighbor. It works pretty well. And it is not a huge leap to have that page put together 10,000 miles away.

In 1998, an American Journalism Review project on the state of American journalism titled a piece on dwindling foreign reporting as "Goodbye, World." What's next, "Goodbye, Work"?

Anyone with a good job would fight to keep it. Fighting change may be futile. The smarter fight lies in developing the skills required to make yourself not only more essential but more satisfied and competent in the work you want to do.
source :

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gannett retooling its news-gathering efforts

Gannett, the USA largest newspaper company, is making plans to roll out a nationwide initiative to gather and disseminate information across a multitude of media, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The McLean-based company has about 90 newspapers, including USA Today, the nation's largest daily paper. Like other newspaper companies, Gannett is losing readers and advertising revenue as folks turn to the Internet and other mediums to get their information.

Gannett executives are hoping to reverse that trend with their new initiative, dubbed the Information Center.

"The Information Center will let us gather the very local news and information that customers want, then distribute it when, where and how our customers seek it," Gannett Chairman, President and CEO Craig Dubow wrote in a letter to employees. Company officials provided the letter to Washington Business Journal.

Gannett executives say the Information Center concept transforms the process for providing news and information. The newsroom evolves into a place that's focused on gathering the information people want using words, images and video and then distributes it across multiple platforms from newspapers to Web sites to other non-print entities.

Gannett's newspaper division, which has conducted a series of pilot programs to create and test the Information Center concept, organized the center around seven key information-gathering areas: digital, public service, community conversation, local, custom content, data and multimedia.

"The Information Center, frankly, is the newsroom of the future," Dubow wrote. "It will fulfill today's needs for a more flexible, broader-based approach to the information gathering process."

To test the process, Gannett (NYSE: GCI) has implemented the Information Center on a full-scale pilot basis at three of its papers, and partially at other sites.

"What they found," Dubow wrote, "is remarkable: Breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want."

Monday, November 06, 2006

ICT Training workshop for Journalists ends

The Vice President of the Ghana Journalists Association, GFA, Mr Affail Monney has stressed the need for media organizations in the country to provide their journalists with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support them in increasing their efficiency and introduction to modernity into their operations.

He said with the changing times, it was about time that individual media organizations put in greater efforts at going ICT to be abreast with evolving events to be better placed to inform, entertain and educate the public on pertinent issues that will bring about positive change in their lives.

Mr Monney said this on Friday at the closing ceremony of a training workshop for a cross section of Journalists in Accra. About 50 selected Journalists from both the private and state media in three batches were trained under the project funded by the Japanese Funds-in Trust (JFIT) in collaboration with UNESCO's International programme for Development of Communication (IPDC) and support by Africa On-Line and the GJA.

The Vice President said it is encouraging news to the GJA that the participants have strengthened their capacity in ICT, improved on their capacity and understanding of internet use, the use of simple and complex search engines for research, the use of computer for page planning, layout and design as well as improving on their skills in digital age journalism and on-line journalism. Mr Monney said with the excellent ICT facilities, the Association intends to source for funds from its associate partners to undertake further training for it members, adding, 93We will adopt more flexible schedules at any future training to give more members, especially from the private press to have more friendly and conducive training programme.

He appealed to the participants to consolidate the knowledge acquired by regularly practicing on their computers so as not to get rusty or forget what they have learnt and in that way it would go a long way in broadening the media's horizon in ICT.

Mr Ebenezer K. Ogyiri, Programme Officer Culture and Communication of the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO advised the GJA to put a management team to run an ICT centre for the benefit of its members. He advised members of the Association to patronize the ICT centre at the International Press Centre and to make frequent use of the facilities to update their skills in reportage. The General Secretary of the GJA, Mr Bright Blewu explained to the GNA that the general objectives of the project under UNESCO's IPDC, was to strengthen the human resource capacity of journalists in ICT. The participants who received certificates appealed to the Japanese government and UNESCO to assist them procure either computers or lab-top computers to facilitate their knowledge in ICT. They expressed profound gratitude to the organizers, lecturers and sponsors for initiating such a laudable training programme for journalists and asked for more of such workshops to make Ghanaian journalists compete with their counterparts from the rest of the world and to improve on their job descriptions.

Source: GNA

Friday, November 03, 2006

FreeMediaOnline works to defend and advance free speech and freedom of the press worldwide through journalistic, educational, and information sharing activities

Report: Online News Widely Accepted as Credible

Report: Online News Widely Accepted as Credible

By Howard I. Finberg

Credibility. It is hard to define, hard to earn, and even harder to regain once it is lost.For decades, news organizations -- especially newspapers -- have struggled to understand why readers find the media less and less credible. Or why some news organizations, such as cable news networks, have a higher credibility rating than older and more established (and local) news outlets. It is a vexing problem.

The task grew even more complicated eight years ago when the Internet offered the public a whole new, interactive way to obtain news and information. A question that may plague us for the next several decades is, "How do the issues of credibility and reliability play out in the online news environment?"

Media consultant Martha Stone and I have been studying digital journalism credibility for the past year on behalf of the Online News Association. Our report, which was released Jan. 31, is based on more than 50 interviews with industry executives, dozens of case studies, several industry roundtables, and two research surveys. The ONA study, which was funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also outlines strategies that several sites have undertaken to be more open and more transparent with their readership.

We found that the public has largely accepted digital news as an important source of credible news. Thirteen percent of the online public saying that Internet news is their most trusted source of news.

However, the ONA survey also shows that most of the online public surveyed remains neutral on credibility issues surrounding online news.

This lack of strong opinion is where the online news media may have its greatest opportunity. It is a chance to move those neutral views to positive ground. Or, conversely, there is the real danger that the public will be come critical of some practices and become as critical of online news as it is of newspapers.

The acceptance of online news is good news for digital journalists. Although the older, traditional media has been losing the public's trust, online news seems to be enjoying a credibility honeymoon, according to a national survey of 1,000 online consumers and 1,500 media workers conducted for ONA.

Rather than vilifying digital news, the online public has largely accepted it as an important source of credible news. Journalists surveyed expected the public to be much more negative about the credibility of digital news. They also expressed more concerns about professional quality than the online public.

The survey also indicates there appears to be a division of opinion about the credibility of digital news between those who work for traditional media organizations -- newspapers, broadcasting -- and those who work for Web sites. And there is a difference of opinion about credibility between the media workers who took the survey and the online public. Some examples from the report:

Media workers were more likely to have made up their minds about credibility and were more likely to be critical than the online public was. Among the rankings produced by the survey's media respondents, there were five sources (local TV news, local radio stations, other news Web sites, local TV Web sites and local radio Web sites) about which more than 25 percent - and as many as 40 percent - say the source is not credible. By comparison, no more than 12 percent of the public says any particular news source is not credible.
When asked to agree or disagree with the statement: "Online news sites are my/consumers' most trusted sources for news," 13 percent of the online public agreed, 44 percent had no opinion, and 43 percent disagreed. Media respondents predicted that 79 percent of online readers would disagree with the statement.
The report's executive summary puts the gap in perception between media and public this way: "… (the) survey's findings should prompt journalists and the public alike to confront a critical issue: Is there something the media perceives or knows about the ethics and practices of online news organizations or operations that the public does not know? Or are traditional media just being resistant to online news?"

The report also examined the reasons consumers use news Web sites and the most important factors affecting story credibility. Some highlights include:

When it comes to credibility, online readers are more concerned about accuracy than timeliness. In a list of 11 story characteristics affecting credibility, online readers rank "story is up to date" fifth, after accuracy, completeness, fairness and trusted source.
Asked directly if the separation between advertising and editorial content matters to a news source's credibility, the public overwhelmingly (95.9 percent) says "Yes, it matters." But when ONA asked online readers to rank advertising-editorial independence as a variable affecting news credibility, it barely made the list (ninth of 11 attributes, ahead of audio/visual quality and entertainment value).
About 40 percent of the online public are confident they can discriminate between advertising and editorial content, with another 30 percent expressing neutrality or a lack of opinion on the issue. That confidence is positively correlated with a reader's general trust of online news, which increases in time spent online and with the number of times a reader has visited a particular online news site. Familiarity breeds confidence.
The issue of advertising and editorial separation has been a hot discussion topic among online and traditional journalists. The findings about the separation of advertising and editorial content should be reassuring to those site managers who are trying to find new ways of attracting revenue. However, it might be too early to relax about this finding, as poorly labeled content could have a negative affect in the long run.

In addition to the results of its two surveys, the ONA's Digital Journalism Credibility Study presents a broader discussion of the professional experiences and insights. Among the topics covered are:

Who is a journalist? This includes a discussion on journalistic training and experience.
What kinds of challenges to credibility have downsizing, reorganization and retrenchment posed?
What kinds of training or professional perspectives should media workers in online newsrooms be expected to have – practically and ideally? Technical issues have typically taken precedence over ethical concerns when it comes to newsroom training, but that may be changing in online newsrooms.
How are online newsrooms working through the challenges presented by the pressures to produce revenue? The report sites specific ways in which various news organizations are dealing with sponsored content and presents an in-depth discussion of advertising policies and processes.
How are online newsrooms handling the Web's two hallmark characteristics: immediacy and interactivity? While the push to get the story first remains very much a part of the online news industry culture, there's a clear recognition that getting it first is not as important as getting it right. Brand credibility is at stake.
The issue of digital journalism credibility is broad and deep. The ONA study is a first look at many of the issues journalists -- print, broadcast, online -- will need to address if we are to take advantage of this new medium that allows almost instant publishing, unparalleled depth of content, and unique interactivity with readers.

Just as developing online news medium continues to be an exciting challenge, so should the opportunity to secure and increase the medium's credibility with its readers.

Copyright © 1995-2006 The Poynter Institute

Thursday, November 02, 2006

National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting(NICAR)

NICAR is a program of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and the Missouri School of Journalism. Founded in 1989, NICAR has trained thousands of journalists in the practical skills of finding, prying loose and analyzing electronic information.