Friday, March 30, 2007

Zambia launches ICT Policy

The Zambian Government has finally launched the
national Information Communication Technology (ICT)
policy because such has the potential to accelerate
social and economic development, President Mwanawasa
has said.

He said the national ICT policy would mainly address
the development of three sectors namely
telecommunications, information technology and
broadcasting which were important pillars for general
growth of Zambia’s economy.
Government through the policy intended to bridge the
digital divides amongst Zambians.
President Mwanawasa said bridging the digital divide
amongst Zambians would entail transforming Zambia into
an economy based on information and knowledge
supported by consistent development of and pervasive
access to ICT by all citizens by 2030.
Mr Mwanawasa said the national ICT policy would
contribute to national development in many ways which
included the creation of an innovative market
responsive, highly competitive, coordinated and well
regulated ICT industry.
The policy would contribute to national development
through facilitation of joint venture initiatives for
local entrepreneurs with international private
investors in the provision of public ICT goods and
He said the policy would enhance development of ICT
business incubators and technology parks which would
accelerate the development of local consumption for
consumer ICT products and services.
“The policy will enhance national development through
the creation of a favorable business environment and
promote Zambia as an attractive destination for ICT
related investments within the region and on the
international market targeting manufacturing and local
product assembly, research and development and human
resource development components business environment
and promote,” the President said.
Although Zambia had made some significant strides in
the development of the ICT sector, Mr Mwanawasa felt
there were some specific challenges which required to
be addressed urgently.
He pointed out that the current regulatory framework
in the ICT sector was fragmented. There are three
bodies under this sector namely the Communications
Authority (CA) which regulates the telecommunication
sector, ministry of communications and transporting
which regulates the postal and courier services as
well as the ministry of information and broadcasting
which regulates broadcasting.
Mr Mwanawasa said with the convergence of technology,
there was need to rationalize the regulatory framework
to eliminate duplication. The President called on
ministries of communications and that of information
and broadcasting to harmonise the regulatory framework
in the sector.
He said in a democratic society like Zambia’s, access
to information for the purpose of transparency was of
prime importance and that there was therefore need to
quickly implement E-Governance in all Government
“I am directing the ministry of communications and
transport to expedite the adoption of the E-Governance
in all ministries and Government institutions.
“There is need to fast track the enactment of the ICT
Act and other pieces of legislation to provide an
enabling environment for the implementation of the
policy,” Mr Mwanawasa said. He reminded stakeholders
of the need to develop ICT infrastructure in rural and
under served areas to provide access to as many people
as possible.
The ministry of communications and transport should
ensure that such an aspect was embraced in all
activities related to the ICT policy implementation.
He commended everybody that participated in
formulation of the policy and donors that assisted the
project financially. Communications and transport
minister Peter Daka urged Zambia Telecommunication
services (Zamtel) to quicken the development of the
optic fiber so as to ease communication costs in the
He said ICT should be made available even in rural
areas so that the Zambian people moved at the same
wave length in embracing information technology.

Copy of the Times of Zambia Newspaper- Zambia
Delphine Hampande,Journalists -Times of Zambia

Thursday, March 29, 2007

IRE Announces 2006 Award Winners

IRE Announces 2006 Award Winners

COLUMBIA, MO. - Investigative reports that took readers and viewers to the fertile farm fields of California's Central Valley, to the arid sands of the vast Saudi desert and to the dark, dank coal mines of West Virginia captured the top prizes in the 2006 IRE Awards.

The prestigious awards, given by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. The contest covers 15 categories across media platforms and representing a range of market sizes. IRE is a 4,500-member professional and educational organization based at the Missouri School of Journalism. The contest, which began in 1979, received 501 entries this year.

IRE Medals, the top honor bestowed by the organization, were given to:

- Lawrence Wright for the book,"The Looming Tower." This a tour de force of investigative reporting, so skillfully crafted that it reads more like a page-turning crime novel than the exquisitely documented journalistic study it is. Drawn from five years of research, including hundreds of interviews (many conducted in Arabic) and thousands of documents, Wright brings new light and understanding to the genesis of Islamic terrorism and the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks. He also exposes shocking communication failures between the FBI and the CIA that left America exposed to the attacks.

- Oriana Zill de Granados, Julia Reynolds and George Sanchez of the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco, for "Nuestra Familia, Our Family." This stunning television documentary, which captured the Tom Renner Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting, provides an unprecedented look inside the world of Latino gangs, largely through the experiences of a man in Salinas, Calif., who raised his son to become a gang member. The program provides shockingly raw scenes of the Nuestra Familia gang in action, intricately detailing how it grew from a political movement among Mexican-American farm workers into a violent force that rules both the streets of California agricultural cities and the halls of the California prison system.

- Ken Ward, Jr., of the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette, for "Mine Safety." After years of covering the coal industry, Ward offers readers an unparalleled portrait of the dangers inside mines and the breakdowns of regulation that made 2006 a deadly year. Using documents and data analysis, this Small Newspapers category winner detailed lax safety procedures, inferior training, poor equipment maintenance and other problems that contributed to deaths at Sago and other mines.

There were two recipients of the group's Freedom of Information award:

- James Odoto, Michele Morgan Bolton, Fred LeBrun, Brendan Lyons, Elizabeth Benjamin, Carol DeMare, J. Robert Port, Rex Smith, Jim McGrath, Howard Healy and John de Rosier of the Times-Union of Albany, N.Y., for "Secret Political Piggy Bank." When the Times-Union set out to expose how New York legislators used secret slush funds called "member items" to fund pet projects, they hit a stone wall. The newspaper sued the Assembly itself to force full disclosure of the financial records and exposed widespread corruption.

- Nils Mulvad, Brigitte Alfter and Jack Thurston for, a Danish-based Web site that catalogs farm subsidies through the European Union. Danish journalists Mulvad and Alfter and British researcher Thurston conducted a two-year effort to open archives all over Europe to expose the closely guarded secrets of farm subsidies. The resulting information was put on a Web site and made available internationally to reporters and others. It resulted in a number of important stories, including showing how millionaires were among the top recipients and how dairy subsidies were undermining farmers in the Third World.

The other IRE awards, called certificates, are divided into categories based on market or circulation size.

The 2006 IRE Certificate winners were:

- Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, Maddy Sauer, Simon Surowicz, Krista Kjellman, Steve Alperin, Michael Clemente and Christopher Isham of for "The Mark Foley Investigation." Acting on information other mainstream news organizations downplayed or ignored, they broke the first stories of Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior with congressional pages and relentlessly drove the coverage as it widened into a full-blown congressional scandal.

- Paul Salopek, Kuni Takahashi and Brenda Kilianski of the Chicago Tribune for "A Tank of Gas, A World of Trouble." Striving to understand the full impact of America's addiction to oil, reporter Salopek set out to do what had never been done before: tracking a single tank of gasoline from a Chicago pump back to its origins in Nigeria, Venezuela and Iraq. He was able to do so by obtaining secret oil-industry documents called "crude slates," documents that took him around the world to reveal the financial, environmental and human tolls of filling the tank.

- Fred Schulte and June Arney of The Sun newspaper of Baltimore for "On Shaky Ground." They uncovered an obscure, colonial-era law that was being manipulated by lawyers and ruthless landlords to force hundreds of people out of their homes. Many homeowners, it turned out, unknowingly did not own the ground their houses were built upon." Those who own the property rights, known as "ground rents," sometimes used unpaid bills for nominal amounts as an excuse to acquire the houses for a song.

- Jean Rimbach and Kathleen Carroll of The Record of Hackensack, N.J. for "Lessons in Waste." They revealed how the most ambitious and expensive preschool program in America, intended to funnel $2.5 billion to needy children in New Jersey, was being corrupted by greedy middlemen: preschool owners who spent the money on luxury cars, cruises, hotels, gambling and shopping sprees.

- Todd Spivak of the Houston Press for "Run Over by Metro." This alternative weekly's investigation into the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Houston looked at fatalities and serious injuries caused by the public bus system. It found that the agency rejected the safety recommendations of its own investigators, hounded victims to settle accidents and misrepresented its accident statistics.

- William Selway, Martin Z. Braun and David Dietz of Bloomberg Markets magazine, for "Broken Promises. These financial reporters revealed that investment banks and brokers were using billion of dollars in municipal bonds for their own benefit while the public entities they were supposed to be funding got nothing.
- Hide quoted text -

- Chris Hansen, Steve Eckert, Joshua Kuvin, Allan Maraynes, Katherine Chan, Elizabeth Cole and David Corvo of Dateline NBC for "Bitter Pills."In an investigation that took its journalists and cameras across the globe, Dateline NBC documented how counterfeit prescription drugs are invading America's mainstream medicine supply. Going undercover, correspondent Chris Hansen exposed a Chinese crime ring negotiating to sell millions of dollars' worth of fake pills. The bogus pills were such good counterfeits that even experts had a hard time telling the difference.

- Jeff Burnside, Scott Zamost, Felix Castro, Ed Garcia, Pedro Cancio and Maria Carpio of WTVJ-Miami for "Citizenship for Sale." They revealed an illegal scheme that exploited the hopes and fears of unsuspecting immigrants. The operation, run by a South Florida man, purported to sell citizenship in the Pembina Little Shell Band Indian Tribe of North Dakota. Victims were told they would have the right to work legally in the United States if they paid $1,500 for tribal membership. It was a sham.

- Bob Segall, Bill Ditton, Gerry Lanosga and Holly Stephen of WTHR-Indianapolis for "Cause for Alarm." Tornadoes are a fact of life in Central Indiana, and tornado sirens provide warnings that can save lives. So it was shocking to learn what WTHR journalists discovered: County officials in the Indianapolis area didn't know how many sirens they had, where the sirens were located or whether the sirens were operational. The investigation revealed that many were not.

- Daniel Zwerdling, Anne Hawke and Ellen Weiss of National Public Radio for "Mental Anguish and the Military." These radio reports documented in heartbreaking fashion the mental-health toll on American soldiers sent to Iraq and the continuing battle they face with their own superiors when they return.

- Students from the school of journalism at the University of North Texas, for "A Stunning Toll." These students, working with professional advisors, took on a formidable task when they set out to investigate anecdotal reports about the misuse of Tasers by police in Texas. They set out to obtain records from 254 sheriffs' departments and a couple hundred police agencies statewide to analyze use of the stun guns. Though many agencies fought or ignored them, the students eventually obtained thousands of pages of records, which they then scanned and made available on a public Web site.


"This year's winners - and all the entries - demonstrate that investigative reporting is healthy and vibrant despite newsroom cutbacks and a transforming industry," said IRE Executive Director Brant Houston. "Furthermore, the range and sophistication of the work shows that investigative journalism continues to be practiced at a higher level every year."

Contest entries are screened and judged by IRE members who are working journalists. The IRE Awards program is unique among journalism contests in the extent of its efforts to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that includes 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 represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual - and often an entire newsroom - who may have done outstanding investigative work. For example, work from The Seattle Times, the Houston Chronicle, The Orange County Register, WEWS-TV in Cleveland and WSMV-TV in Nashville was ineligible for entry in this year's contest.

IRE, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to training and supporting journalists who pursue investigative stories and operates the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism.

The IRE Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Saturday, June 9, at the 2007 IRE Conference in Phoenix.

Copies of all contest entries are available to IRE members from the IRE Resource Center, which has more than 22,000 investigative stories submitted over the past 27 years. The center can be reached via e-mail at or by calling 573-882-3364.

See full list of winners, finalists and judges' comments at

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Deadline is now : Global online course in ICT Journalism

Global Online Course in ICT Journalism (April 20 to July 20 2007)

After successfully pioneering an online course in ICT Journalism in 2006, The International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Journalism Penplusbytes is pleased to announce a three month (April 20th to July 20th 2007) online training opportunity for journalists in the area of ICT Journalism. Participants will be exposed to the wider context of ICTs assisted journalism including its history, how these technologies are impacting on the world of journalism, how ICT can be used in producing stories and how to manage change process in using innovative ICT tools.

Course Description and Goals: This course teaches the theory and concept of ICTs journalism; the impact of ICTs on Journalism and how to increase excellence in journalism using ICTs as a tool.

At the end of the course, the participants will learn four main set of skills:
You will learn and understand broad spectrum of ICTs tools available for journalism
You will learn how to research and publish content online
You will learn that despite that the proliferation of technology for journalism the fundamental principles of journalism still apply.
You will learn how to use a selection of ICT tools for journalism

Prerequisites: This course does not have any special prerequisites though participants will need to have basic computer skills such sending and receiving mails, managing files and browsing the Internet. The course assumes participants are practicing journalists who have mastered journalism skills.

Class Meeting: Participants are expected to meet online via group discussion weekly, it is expected that a participants must devote at least five hours per week online.

Course Content
-Introduction to ICT Journalism concept, theory and definition
-ICT tools for Journalism web 2.0/3.0, wikis, blogs, podcasting, online collaborative tools, newsroom content management system and publishing platforms
-The role of information and knowledge management in the newsroom
-Specialization in ICT Journalism
-Online Research
-Business Models of Online Journalism
-Future of ICT Journalism

Participants will be provided with regular resources during the duration of the course, these resources will available mostly online or via CD ROM.
Grading: Participants are expected to undertake weekly assignment, participate in online discussion, make use of ICT tools and produce a final project work to be published on penplusbytes website.

All participants who fully successfully complete the course and would be awarded a certificate.

Application forms can be downloaded at
Email completed form and statement to:

Closing date for receipt of application and statement is 20th March 2007. Notification of acceptance: 2nd April 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has recently created this blog. ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

World's largest technology fair opens in Germany

The annual CeBIT technology fair has opened in Hanover, Germany showcasing the latest innovations and technologies from across the IT spectrum.

The annual CeBIT fair opened to exotic dancing with an accompanying light show in Hanover, Germany this week. CeBIT showcases digital IT and telecommunications products to industry professional and interested enthusiasts alike.

Billed as 'the world's largest technology fair', it attracts thousands of exhibitors from some 70 countries across the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the exhibition halls on Thursday.

Mobile phone technology was one the star attractions of the exhibition. Juergen Kuri, from German computer magazine C'T explains the up and coming trends in mobile phone technology.

Sarik Weber, from electronics company Cellity AG says they are unveiling a new way to really save phone users money.

As well as mobile phones there are also stands showcasing cutting edge in laptop, flat screen and mobile PC technology.

This year Russia is CeBIT's partner country making it the fourth largest exhibitor country present at the fair. More than 150 Russian exhibitors will be presenting their innovations - including leading companies such as Kaspersky Lab, Inkotex, and Russoft.

Mobile TV warned to standardise

A European Commission (EC) official has issued a stern warning to those involved in mobile TV to agree on adopting a single technology standard.

EC telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said that if the industry did not agree on one, she would do it for them.

Ms Reding warned that Europe risked losing a chance to be a global player in the burgeoning mobile TV market.

She made her comments during a speech to delegates at the Cebit technology fair in Hanover, Germany.

Large-scale trials of TV on mobile handsets are already happening across the world as phone firms try to find out if consumers want to watch programmes on the go.

'No time to lose'

Despite these trials Ms Reding declared herself "disappointed" with the progress the industry was making towards standardising the technology underpinning mobile TV.

"The industry should agree on one standard," she said. "I think there's no more time to lose here.

"In the end I could mandate the standard but I do not want to do that," she added.

Last year the EC helped to set up the European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC), which brought together everyone who had an interest in mobile TV, in an attempt to get stakeholders talking and working towards a unified technology.

Ms Reding said a good candidate for this single technology was the DVB-H standard that was developed with almost 40m euros ($53m, £27m) of EC research cash.

She said the fact that DVB-H was already in use in 17 EU nations and that it was an open standard should recommend it to the EMBC members.

The commissioner imposed a deadline of summer 2007 on the mobile TV industry to agree on a standard.

By that time Ms Reding said she had to issue a communication on mobile TV strategy and would prefer to do that with the decision on technology and standards settled.

"I hope they agree because I would really not like to intervene with regulatory measures," she said.

European mobile TV standards have a lot in common with the GSM technology developed for mobile phones that now dominate across the world.

"In this case, the EU has a chance to become a global player just as it did with the GSM success story," said Ms Reding.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/16 15:58:26 GMT


Privacy bodies back Google step

Privacy bodies have welcomed Google's decision to anonymise personal data it receives from users' web searches.

The firm previously held information about searches for an indefinite period but will now anonymise it after 18 to 24 months.

"This is an extremely positive development," said Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a US-based watchdog.

"It's the type of thing we have been advocating for a number of years."

However, governments could still force Google to hold onto data or hand it over to authorities.

"By anonymising our server logs after 18 to 24 months, we think we're striking the right balance between two goals: continuing to improve Google's services for you, while providing more transparency and certainty about our retention practices," a statement from the search giant said.

It's a step forward, but I would like to see them anonymising data in a much shorter period
Richard Clayton, Cambridge University

It added: "Unless we're legally required to retain log data for longer, we will anonymise our server logs after a limited period of time."

Peter Fleischer, Google's privacy counsel for Europe, said the decision has been taken after consulting with privacy bodies in the US and Europe.

He said: "We believe that privacy is one of the cornerstones of trust. We will be retroactively going back into our log database and anonymising all the information there."

Rolled out

Mr Fleischer said the firm was holding on to the information for up to 24 months in part to match data retention laws being rolled out across Europe.

European internet service providers (ISPs) and phone companies are in the process of implementing an EU directive which forces them to retain a variety of communication data for up to two years.

Google collects and stores data from each query. It holds information such as the search term itself, the unique address of the PC being used, known as the IP address, and details of how a user makes searches, such as the browser used and previous queries to Google.

That information can contain private data about a user, and could be used to build a detailed picture of the user's habits or lifestyle.

Google says it was using this information to help improve its different services and to monitor how its search engine was functioning.

Online habits

Privacy groups are concerned about how the data collected by Google - and other web firms - could be used to monitor people's online habits.

Richard Clayton, a researcher at Cambridge University specialising in web traceability, said Google's announcement was positive but had not gone far enough.

"It's a step forward but I would like to see them anonymising data in a much shorter period.

"There is no justification for holding on to the data for two years."

Mr Clayton said the data Google collected was useful to the firm in improving its services only in the short term.

He said that Google was hiding behind the European directive in setting time limits on how long it should hold on to the data.

"There is no sense of whether this directive even applies to web search logs," he said.

He said the real reason Google was holding on to the data was because of the cost involved in anonymising it.

He said he also had concerns about how the firm was ensuring that held data could not be traced back to individual users.

Google has said it will alter the data so that users' searches cannot be traced back to an individual's computer.

But Mr Clayton said the recent row over search data released by AOL showed that identification of users could still be made even without a machine's unique IP address.

AOL released data to academics last year relating to millions of search queries carried out by its users. While there was no direct identifying data, there was enough information in the searches to build profiles of users.

It is not yet clear if other search engines will follow suit.

Yahoo said that it would hold onto web data for as long as EU law required - but the firm did not say what it would do with the information beyond the 24 months demanded by the law. In a statement the firm said: "Our data retention practices vary according to the diverse nature of our services.

"We are reviewing the European Data Retention Directive as it comes into force across Europe. Our services covered by the directive will comply with the laws as they are enacted in each country that we have a presence."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/15 14:27:54 GMT


Learning From an Expert in Online Video

The Washington Post's Travis Fox has done it again. Travis is a backpack journalist who travels the world documenting stories with video for the Post's Web site. He is just home from Darfur, and the work he brought home with him may be his best yet.

I'm dedicating today's column to this work for three reasons. First, newspaper folks want to learn how to do online multimedia. Second, even the most experienced TV folks can benefit from watching Travis' video. And finally, the educators and students who read this column daily will learn a ton.

If you are pressed for time, just watch the opening story.(

This is a story that utilizes silence and quiet moments to teach us something about what life is like in a refugee camp. I especially like the way Travis uses the shots of barren soil to transition from character to character. And his use of natural light is nothing short of spectacular.

Travis also wrote an article about what he saw.( at the bottom of the Web page, you can find a number of panoramic photos he created. I really like these because they give me context that I can't get in a single shot.

Last week, the National Press Photographers Association awarded Travis first and second place in the in-depth online photojournalism category of its Best of Television Photojournalism contest.

I interviewed Travis by e-mail earlier this week.

Al Tompkins: What did you hope to accomplish with this work?

Travis Fox: In the broadest sense, I wanted to give our viewers a sense of place and give the victims in Chad a voice. More specifically, I wanted these videos to provide a deeper understanding of the issues behind the horrific personal stories coming from Darfur. Finally, I wanted to show (not tell) just how fragile the situation is, to focus not so much on the backstory, but on why this story matters right now.

Al: What has the reaction been to this piece?

Travis: The reaction has been positive. I have received e-mails from viewers who have been propelled to make donations by the package. That is always nice to hear.

Al: What were some of the obstacles you ran into and how did you get around them?

Travis: There are several obstacles [to] working in eastern Chad, but compared to what the people living there have to face everyday, I feel a bit ashamed to list them. There are several rebel groups in the area that are best avoided. It was always unclear to me what would happen if we came across them, perhaps a situation of theft, not necessarily violence, but these encounters are notoriously unpredictable. Logistics were an issue. The U.N. was nice enough to allow us to stay in their basic compounds for a small fee, where [such facilities] existed and when there was space. Other than that, home was a tent. Electricity came from the car battery. There aren't really roads out there, so we drove in a 4x4 through the sand. It took four days of driving from N'djamena, the capital, to the farthest point, Dogdore. Luckily, I was able to skip one of those legs by catching a U.N. flight, but our driver had to make the journey with the car filled with enough water and food for the two weeks we spent in eastern Chad.

Al: Were you working alone?

Travis: I worked with a great translator and driver. Mubarak, the translator, is a refugee himself from Darfur and knew the territory well. Our driver, Abdullah, was also great, as driving a 4x4 through the sand is a real skill. He was also a mechanic, which was invaluable as the intensity of driving meant that the car often needed servicing.

Al: Give us a rundown of the gear you use on a tough assignment like this.

Travis: The most important things are my video camera, satellite phones for communication, and power converter for recharging batteries in the car. I usually bring a can of compressed air to clean the incredible amounts of dust, but I forgot it this time.

Al: After you have been to a place like Darfur, how do you get back to normal in your life? What enduring images from your trip stick in your mind?
Travis: I think the image of crying, malnourish[ed] babies in Dogdore is one that is stuck in my head and something [viewers tell me] is a lasting image. The image of Sadiya, who was gang raped, covering her face because she was embarrassed to tell the story of what had happened to her is the other powerful image in this package. It's often difficult to readjust to a normal life. Sometimes I stop off in a third country to decompress. This trip hasn't been as difficult for me as war situations such as Iraq, Lebanon or Gaza, where the adrenaline is pumping all the time and the fear of a bomb falling on you at any time is a hard sensation to shake, even after you're back home.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Eyetracking points the way to effective news article design

Online Journalism Review's design experts review usability research and offer suggestions on how you can make your online articles better connect with readers.
go to
for full article

Training : New Media Essentials

8 July - 13 July, Prague, Czech Republic
This intensive five-day course will teach you all about online media – including podcasting, RSS feeds, blogging and online promotion. The course will feature a mix of practical training and roundtable discussions on current and future media trends.

Expert training

You'll be learning from people with extensive experience in the new media environment. The course will be led by Evgeny Morozov, TOL's director of new media. Go to the instructors page for more information.

What will you learn?
The course offers a mix of practical sessions, case studies and roundtable discussions about the current and future new media environment, including:

• Blogging and ‘citizen journalism’
• The future of newspapers
• User-generated content
• RSS technology
• Podcasts and videocasts (recording, editing and posting)
• Introduction to WordPress, Windows Live Writer, ITunes and Windows Movie Maker
• Peer-to-peer technology
• And much more!

Social program
In addition to the training sessions, there will be plenty of opportunities to mix with your fellow students. The social program includes a welcome dinner, a mid-week evening concert and a drinks reception at the end of the week.

Accommodation & training venue
You'll be staying at the Czech Agricultural University, which is also the venue for the training sessions. The university is located in the Suchdol district of Prague, on a hill overlooking the city.

Course fees
We are offering a reduced early bird rate €760 (US$980) until April 1, 2007. The fee then rises to €875 (US$1,135) for later applications. Click on program costs for more information.

Click here to apply for the course go to, or send an email to if you have any questions.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Are Online Search Tools Lulling Journalists Into Laziness?

E-mail interviews and Web searches can be helpful when used with discretion, but some experts fret that reporters are letting their guard down, making themselves vulnerable to online hoaxes.
For full article go to

State of the American News Media, 2007

State of the American News Media, 2007:
Economic Challenges Usher In Era of the Niche For Mainstream Media, Says Fourth Annual PEJ Report

Every Component of TV News Is Losing Audience

Washington, D.C. – For the first time in years, every sector of television news lost audience in 2006. And newspapers, despite garnering a larger audience than ever for their content via online platforms, faced more downbeat financial assessments. The shifting economic fundamentals are spurring mainstream news organizations to try to build audience around “franchise” areas of coverage, specialties and even crusades, according to a new report on the state of journalism in America by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan, non-political research group.

The new phenomenon is exemplified by cable news, which had been growing for a decade, but is now suffering audience declines. Cable’s “Argument Culture” is giving way to something new: the Answer Culture, a growing pattern that has news outlets, programs and journalists offering up solutions, certainty and the impression of putting all the blur of information in clear order for people.

These are some of the conclusions from “The State of the American News Media, 2007,” a 700-page comprehensive look at the state of U.S. journalism by PEJ, a project of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. This is the fourth annual report.

“Trends that we have been tracking now for four years are reaching a pivot point,” PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said. “Only one media sector, the ethnic press, is still growing, and every measurement for audience—even page views and visitors—is now being questioned. Things are now moving faster than companies can even recognize. Mainstream news media are adapting, in part, by focusing on specialties. In a sense, every outlet is becoming more of a niche player with reduced ambitions.”

That does not mean that journalism is dying. There is even more reason than a few years ago to believe, the report concludes, that the old newsrooms of America are most likely to be the successful newsrooms of the future.

But the report also cautions that the consequences of the overall trend toward franchise branding remain unclear. “Hyper localism,” a favorite term on Wall Street, can be market speak for simple cost-cutting. Branding can be a mask for bias. Pursued mindlessly, the franchise approach could also spell the death of a big city metro paper. The character of the next era, far from inevitable, will likely depend heavily on the quality of leadership in the newsroom and boardroom, the report concludes.

The 2007 report includes a special content analysis of digital journalism, which systematically examines the nature and character of more than three dozen websites offering news and information in a variety of styles. Among other findings, the online analysis concludes that while journalists are becoming more serious about the Web, no clear models of how to do journalism online exist yet, and some qualities are still only marginally explored. Features such as immediacy and customizability, for instance, have been developed much more than others, such as depth or the use of multimedia.

As with past annual reports, the 2007 study offers detailed chapters on nine different sectors of the press—newspapers, magazines, network television, cable news, local TV, the Internet (including blogs), radio, the ethnic press and alternative media. For each sector, the report collects all available information on six different areas: content analysis, audience, economics, ownership, newsroom investment, and public attitudes.

Key findings include:

* The evidence is mounting that the news industry must become more aggressive about developing a new economic model. An increasingly logical scenario is that news providers – instead of charging the consumer directly – charge Internet providers and aggregators licensing fees for content. News organizations may have to create consortiums to make this happen. And those fees would likely add to the bills consumers pay for Internet access. But the notion that the Internet is free is already false. Those who report the news just aren’t sharing in the fees.

* The key question is whether the investment community sees the news business as a declining industry or an emerging one in transition. If one believes that the economics of news are now broken, then it seems inevitable that the investment in newsrooms will continue to shrink and the quality of journalism in America will decline. If one believes that news will continue to be the primary public square where people gather and that, consequently, the economics will sort themselves out in time, then a different strategy is needed. But if news companies wait for the proof rather than act on their own vision, their business will likely be smaller and less robust.

* Blogging is on the brink of a new phase that will probably include scandal, profitability for a few, and a splintering into elites and non-elites over standards and ethics. The most recent example of this new professionalizing was the Scooter Libby trial, which bloggers covered using official press credentials lobbied for and won by the Media Bloggers Association. Corporate public-relations efforts are beginning to use blogs as well, often covertly. At the same time, some of the most popular bloggers are already becoming businesses or being assimilated by establishment media.

* There are growing questions about whether the dominant ownership model of the last generation, the public corporation, is suited to the transition newsrooms must now make. Private markets now appear to value media properties more highly than Wall Street does. What is unknown is whether these potential new private owners are motivated by public interest, a vision of growth online, having a high-profile hobby (like a sports team), or as an investment to be flipped for profit after aggressive cost-cutting. Public ownership tends to make companies play by the same rules. Private ownership has few leveling influences.

* What author Michael Crichton once called the “Crossfire Syndrome,” appears to be evolving. Crossfire, the iconic program of the Argument Culture, has been canceled, and cable’s new symbols are liberal-leaning Keith Olbermann and conservative-leaning Bill O’Reilly. The tone may be just as intense as before, but rather than an equal debate of two sides, the hosts have already made up their minds. The Answer Culture in journalism, which is part of the new branding, represents an appeal more idiosyncratic and less ideological than pure partisan journalism.

“The problems of newspapers appear to be the most acute at the moment,” Rosenstiel said. “After a traumatic year in 2005, circulation and job losses were almost as bad in 2006 and the industry saw earnings fall for the first time in memory in a non-recession year. But other industries are also troubled. Cable news is now seeing its audience decline, led by the biggest drops at Fox.”

The study, which contains detailed charts, graphs and citations, can be accessed online at

Internet Ad Revenue Reached A Record High

Revenue from online advertising set a new record by reaching $7.9 billion during the first six months of 2006.

Revenue grew 37 percent, leaving it on target for a fourth consecutive year of growth. It is also on track to set a record for the third year in a row.

Keyword ads shown next to search results make the most money, accounting for 40 percent of revenues from January to June.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau also reported that banner display ads represented 21 percent, while classified ads made up 20 percent.

Last year, Internet ad revenue reached $12.5 billion.

Even though it has experienced explosive growth, online advertising only makes up about 5 percent of all U.S. advertising revenues.

NewsTrust - online news rating service

According to Newstrust

In recent years, the consolidation of mainstream media, combined with the rise of opinion news and the explosion of new media outlets, have created a serious problem for democracy: many people feel they can no longer trust the news media to deliver the information they need as citizens.

To address this critical issue, NewsTrust is developing an online news rating service to help people identify quality journalism - or "news you can trust." Our members rate the news online, based on journalistic quality, not just popularity. Our beta website and news feed feature the best and the worst news of the day, picked from hundreds of alternative and mainstream news sources.

This non-profit community effort tracks news media nationwide and helps citizens make informed decisions about democracy. Submitted stories and news sources are carefully researched and rated for balance, fairness and originality by panels of citizen reviewers, students and journalists. Their collective ratings, reviews and tags are then featured in our news feed, for online distribution by our members and partners.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wikipedia founder to launch search engine

A Wikipedia company will build an Internet search engine that lets users improve on the system, the Internet encyclopedia founder said in Tokyo Thursday.

The Wikia Inc. search engine plans to capture as much as 5 percent of
the search market and its collaborative search technology could
transform the Internet's power structure, Jimmy Wales said.

Wales criticized Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. for keeping search
technologies under wraps and not letting users improve on the process.

"We welcome competition," Google told United Press International in a
statement, adding it was "more focused on search innovation ... than
ever before."

Yahoo! did not immediately respond to a UPI query for comment.

Wales said the Wikia search engine's constant technological
improvement would also give it a leg up on the increasing problem of
search-result spam, BetaNews reported.

"Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And
it is currently broken," Wales said on a wiki devoted to the
project. "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."

Wales said his venture had received a $4 million investment from
"angel investors" as well as a "very large investment" from

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Estonia has become the first country to use internet voting in parliamentary elections

Estonia claims new e-voting first

About 30,000 used e-voting - one in 30 registered voters, exceeding official expectations.

Estonia had tested internet voting nationwide in municipal voting in October 2005, when 10,000 people cast e-ballots.

To vote on the internet, electors have to use a computer, an electronic card reader and an identity card.

E-votes can only be cast during three days of advance voting for these elections. On election day itself people have to go to polling stations and fill in a paper ballot.

E-voting systems, in which people use online machines in polling stations or register to get an e-vote password, have been tried on a smaller scale in many European countries, including in some local elections in the UK and Ireland.

But there are worries about security.

In Switzerland, where it is already an established part of local referendums, voters get their passwords to access the ballot through the post.

The Estonians say their system avoids such problems because people already have their micro-chipped ID cards and know the PIN codes to use them.

But there are still fears that an online ballot makes it far easier to influence elections.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/01 10:35:38 GMT


Friday, March 02, 2007

BBC strikes Google-YouTube deal

The BBC has struck a content deal with YouTube, the web's most popular video sharing website, owned by Google.

Three YouTube channels - one for news and two for entertainment - will showcase short clips of BBC content.

The BBC hopes that the deal will help it reach YouTube's monthly audience of more than 70 million users and drive extra traffic to its own website.

The corporation will also get a share of the advertising revenue generated by traffic to the new YouTube channels.

Three deals in one

The deal with Google - non-exclusive and set to run for several years - will establish three different YouTube services:

* BBC: One of the BBC's two entertainment channels will be a "public service" proposition, featuring no advertising.

It will show clips like trailers and short features that add value - for example, video diaries of David Tennant showing viewers around the set of Dr Who or BBC correspondent Clive Myrie explaining how difficult it is to report from the streets of Baghdad.

The channel's main purpose is to popularise current programming and drive traffic back to the BBC's own website, and point the audience to the BBC's pages, where they can watch or download programmes in full, once the BBC Trust approves the corporation's catch-up television proposal, called iPlayer.

# BBC Worldwide: The second entertainment channel will feature self-contained clips - about three to six minutes long - mining popular programmes in the BBC's archive. Excerpts from Top Gear, The Mighty Boosh and nature programmes presented by David Attenborough are top candidates for this channel.

This YouTube page will carry advertising such as banner adverts, and possibly pre-roll adverts (shown as part of the video clip) as well. Controversially, the BBC Worldwide page - adverts and all - can be seen in the UK.

BBC Worldwide insists that this is not a new departure, as BBC magazines like Top Gear and channels like BBC World and UK Living (which shows mainly BBC content) already do carry advertising.

# BBC News: The news channel, which will be launched later this year, will show about 30 news clips per day. It will be advertising funded like a similar deal with Yahoo USA. BBC News is also offered to non-UK subscribers of Real Networks.

Because of the advertising, these clips can be seen outside the UK only. Any UK users clicking on a link to one of the news clips on YouTube will get a message that they have no access to this clip.

Groundbreaking - and controversial

The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, called the deal a "ground-breaking partnership" that would "engage new audiences in the UK and abroad".

The BBC's director of Future Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, said the deal was "not about distributing content like full-length programmes; YouTube is a promotional vehicle for us".

In the United States, several television programmes experienced a discernible audience increase after they made clips available on YouTube. But the deal is likely to be controversial with other media companies, who have accused the BBC of straying from its licence-fee funded public service remit and moving too far into commercial web ventures.

Copyright protection

Several large US broadcasters, including CBS, NBC and Fox, already have similar agreements with YouTube.

YouTube makes it easy for members not only to watch and share video clips, but also to upload their own content.

However, the site is riddled with pirated film and music clips uploaded by members who do not own the copyright.

Some media firms, most prominently Viacom, have recently demanded that YouTube removes tens of thousands of clips from the site that they own the copyright for.

Mr Highfield said the BBC would not be hunting down all BBC-copyrighted clips already uploaded by YouTube members - although it would reserve the right to swap poor quality clips with the real thing, or to have content removed that infringed other people's copyright, like sport, or that had been edited or altered in a way that would damage the BBC's brand.

"We don't want to be overzealous, a lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us," he said.

YouTube was founded in February 2005 and was bought by Google in November last year for $1.65bn.

In January, one of YouTube's three founders, Chad Hurley, announced that the website would soon start sharing revenue with the thousands of users who upload their own content to YouTube.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/02 11:31:32 GMT