Monday, April 30, 2007


Orkut is an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends via the provision of an online meeting place for people to socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests. You can join orkut to create and connect with your own social circle.

The Weblog Project

TheWeblogProject is the first open source, FREE, grassroots movie to promote and evangelize bloggers, the blogosphere, and their potential.

TheWeblogProject is conceived to be a completely different kind of movie, because featured stars, producers, fundraisers and actors of TheWeblogProject movie have all a unique trait: they are all bloggers.

We have no other agenda but the one of helping bloggers tell everyone else what this media revolution is all about.

TheWeblogProject is different from a traditional movie in several other respects:

* It will be distributed, FREE, via P2P and via the Internet Archive, under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

* It will be Folksonomy-enabled.

* It will be Open Source(d). Complete source footage will be distributed to all supporting bloggers (and not) for unlimited remixing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Indonesia Citizen Journalism on the Rise

The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) was held at the end of February in Bali. It produced a commitment to make the Internet and ICT (Information Communication Technology) more accessible and affordable to the public. This is an important commitment since we are facing a more global world, a world without borders. With the Internet easily connected, there is no border of time, no border of space. The limitation is only in language and interest. This will make a significant impact to the development of mass media.

According to datafrom the Associations of ISP in Indonesia (APJII), in Indonesia in 2005 there were 16 millions Internet users. Internet World Statistics of January 2007 shows that the number of Internet users in Indonesia were 2 million in the year 2000 and increased to 18 million recently, a 900 percent growth. Yet Indonesia still has only 8 percent of its population connected to the e-world, so the potential market in the future remains enormous. Compared to Singapore (66.3 percent) and Malaysia (38.9 percent), or to South Korea (66.1 percent), Indonesia contains huge growth potential. Of course, realizing such growth is dependent on the political will to educate the Indonesian people and a commitment to provide more affordable Internet access.

Online media and citizen journalism

The growing population of Internet users will undoubtedly affect the policy of the mainstream media. The existence of the online media, together with the rise of citizen journalism will force the mainstream media to build and preserve their own community. Some printed media have already adjusted by creating online versions, while citizen journalist sites continue to grow.

Indonesian citizen journalism cannot compare with South Korea's OhmyNews, which in seven years has gained worldwide recognition. Yet it does have the talent to grow up. One OhmyNews netizen is an Indonesian who has built her local website “Panyingkul," which means intersection in the local dialect of South Sulawesi. In this way, Lily Yulianti tried to engage its netizens to dig into the rich culture of Indonesia, especially from her hometown Makassar.

In my view, it is a wise action to show her compassion to her country while physically she resides in Japan. It's really showing that the e-world is also the world without border. While her reports for OhmyNews are written in English (for worldwide readers), the reporters in Panyingkul are written in the Indonesian language (with readers that sometimes commented in local dialect).

It is stated in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia online, that the rise of citizen journalism is mostly due to the fact that there are some popular topics ignored by the conventional newspapers. Wikipedia also noted the contribution of OhmyNews towards the transformation of the South Korean's conservative political environment. This hints at the need for a place to voice some perspectives held by the public that are not taken account of by the media.

Competitor or complement?

With the fast growing and changing world of media, how will the conventional printed newspapers survive? Are these online media their competitors, or could they become their complements? The answer surely depends on how well the conventional media foresees the needs of its readers, and how good they are at providing their readers a voice.

Online media has the advantage of providing readers with easy access to various kinds of information by searching through thousands of sources instantly. With the rise of citizen journalism, readers can be actively involved as journalists as well. Lacking a journalistic background, the netizen can learn from interaction with other readers and writers. Some professional journalists who join in the group could be their great mentors.

If the conventional media perceives the growth of citizen journalism as a competitor then someone will not survive the competition. Only if they value it as a complement will they grow up together and strengthen each other.

There are some human factors that won't wipe out the conventional media. First, looking through the computer for excessive hours can produce eye strain. So often readers will print stories out for comfort. Reading the news in your leisure time in your own relaxing environment is another factor that also keeps the print media strong. As some big players of the mainstream media have shown, they do receive a great deal of information from eyewitnesses. But they also check the information, as Internet users can always use fake identity, or give false information. So the issue of trustworthiness comes into play.

According to a 10-country survey conducted by GlobeScan (2006) for BBC, Reuters, and the Media Center, Indonesian media is more trusted than the government. Indonesian media is only exceeded by that of Nigeria in winning their public's trust. In the U.S. and U.K., the governments are more trusted than the media. The most trusted news source is national television, followed by the national/regional newspaper, then followed by local newspapers, public radio and international satellite TV. The Internet blogs are still the least trusted news source. Yet, the most important news sources are the television (56 percent), newspapers (21 percent), Internet (9 percent), and radio (9 percent). There is a special note about how the Internet is gaining ground among young people.

While waiting for the increase in Internet usage, conventional media should help the government in educating people about the changes. They can educate people by providing them the news they need, and at the same time give them a place to speak out. In doing this, they will also build loyal readers.

The rise of citizen journalism in Indonesia could really complement the media, as the journalist can seek out public views and get more news direct from the source. Hopefully, journalists can also indirectly teach the public how to present their opinions in writing.

Until today, Indonesian public opinion is still shaped by the mainstream media. The rise of citizen journalism could make a great change as people will have access to a wider spectrum of viewpoints. As an example, a Japanese netizen thanked OhmyNews for publishing her article which she believes made the local newspapers and government focus their eyes on an issue that had been neglected. The issue had already been presented to the local press with no avail, and suddenly after her article was published in OhmyNews the press started digging into the case.

Citizen journalism in Indonesia

The most popular form of citizen journalism in Indonesia is still radio, as most citizens are more attached to radio than to the Internet. It began from the need to avoid traffic jams. Audience members called into the radio to report the traffic situation to help other members of the audience. The worsened traffic in the middle of big cities made people turn to their radios for traffic information, and meanwhile other topics were raised while waiting for the latest traffic update. From this starting point it grew bigger and bigger with a variety of news, from local news to the national news like the tsunami or the earthquake.

I was first introduced to the term citizen journalism when I browsed around and found a blog created by Moch. Nunung Kurniawan (Iwan). A student seeking a journalism masters degree in the Philippines, he mentioned that his thesis was on citizen journalism, comparing the successful implication of citizen journalism in the radio (Elshinta) to the success of OhmyNews. At that moment I did not bother to look into his thesis, but I did comment that the success of the radio was merely based on mutual benefit taken by its audience.

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a citizen journalism Web site. I found out that having your article published takes just a moment, compared to the long wait without response from the mainstream media, and having the opportunity to get comments from other readers triggered my motivation to write. I also learned that good and educational news (to my eyes) are not always the most popular articles. The most viewed article is not automatically the one labeled as most useful by readers. Commenting on an incident of an Indonesian singer who threw a remote control to her husband, I wrote an article about managing anger to our benefit. It was really a simple article for me, but it turned out to be the most useful article (viewed by the readers) among all my articles. Another discovery is that a good article might also gain no comment at all!

All of a sudden I understand what Iwan was mentioning in his blog -- the real meaning of citizen journalism. Therefore I browsed English OhmyNews, where I found aout about Then afterwards I also found and Reading through all these citizen journalism websites in Indonesian language, I realized that the citizen journalism through the web in Indonesia is just begun. I am not sure about, but the other three websites have not yet reached their first anniversary.

I came back to Iwan's blog and read his thesis, I learned about the different categories of citizen journalism identified by Steve Outing. in this point of view could be considered as a wiki, where readers are also the editors. Luckily, there are also some professional journalists who join in as contributors so as a contributor who lacked journalistic background, I could learn a lot from their writings and comments. The professional journalist for their part could learn the interests of the citizen through number of visits, points made by readers, and the readers' comments.

I have no time to regularly visit the other Web sites, but it seems to me that all Web sites already have their own loyal readers and contributors, and the readers will soon multiply as it works like multi-level marketing. One reader or contributor will bring other friends along. It is up to the content of the articles that will determine the readers loyalty to this community of press. And of course its continuation will also depend on financial support, but that is something that is still beyond my knowledge.

Youngsters in Indonesia do have a better relation to the Internet. Some elementary school students who don't own a computer go to the "warnet" (internet kiosk) to play interactive games through the Internet. Preschoolers in big cities have already been introduced to using a computer. So soon this rising phenomena will become a real growing fact that should be taken into account by any mainstream media outlets in Indonesia.
©2007 OhmyNews

Reader, blogger, journalist? Panel discusses role of 'new media'

by ashley wiehle, the southern
Average citizens partook of the media in decades past, but an ever-growing emergence of "new media" has prompted everyday citizens to actually become the media.

Online news and the shifting definition of media and journalism were the focus of a Wednesday forum sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

What those metamorphosed definitions mean for everyday citizens is a new set of media roles decidedly different than the past role of media consumer, said Jan Schaeffer, executive director of J-Lab's New Voices project on citizen journalism.

Citizens with computer access and the desire to be part of the news have taken on the role of news competition, news experts and government watchdogs, Schaeffer said.

The mass shooting at Virginia Tech was an example of how citizen media can often respond to a crisis more intimately and with more details than mainstream media outlets.

Students who witnessed the massacre were uploading videos and firsthand accounts of the incident by the time the news hit the country, Schaeffer said.

"By the end of the day, the students were sophisticated enough to upload photos," Schaeffer said.

Panelist Nick Charles, editor of AOL's Black Voices, said Internet news can deliver specialized news that caters to all interests.

About 1.2 million people log on to the Internet and head first to his site, Charles said. Because of high-volume traffic that is logged, advertising online has proved to be a lucrative business.

"We make pretty good money not just because we do a good job, but because of the advertising," Charles said.

Schaeffer said she believes mainstream media will begin to respond to the growing citizen journalism demand.

"This is the year of the big click," Schaeffer said. "A lot of news organizations are trying to figure out how to get on board."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Commons-based peer production

Commons-based peer production is a term coined by Yale's Law professor Yochai Benkler to describe a new model of economic production in which the creative energy of large numbers of people is coordinated (usually with the aid of the internet) into large, meaningful projects, mostly without traditional hierarchical organization or financial compensation. He compares this to firm production (where a centralized decision process decides what has to be done and by whom) and market-based production (when tagging different prices to different jobs serves as an attractor to anyone interested in doing the job).

Another definition, by Aaron Krowne (Free Software Magazine): commons-based peer production "refers to any coordinated, (chiefly) internet-based effort whereby volunteers contribute project components, and there exists some process to combine them to produce a unified intellectual work. CBPP covers many different types of intellectual output, from software to libraries of quantitative data to human-readable documents (manuals, books, encyclopedias, reviews, blogs, periodicals, and more).

Easy publishing tools for online journalists

Put your site online, without much money or tech effort, using these blog and content management tools

list of sites and programs that will help you quickly and easily begin using multimedia and the internet to advance your reporting and your storytelling. All of these applications are low-cost. Most are free, though some ask you to pay to access advanced functionality. All are free of spyware and adware, as far as we know (though it is always good to do an Internet search on anything you download and install to be sure). And each should make the work of creating great journalism online at least a little easier.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Improve your English and maths with Skillswise


A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? Answer on your phone, IM, or right here on the web!

Newspapers and blogs: Closer than we think?

A content analysis of newspapers and blogs covering the Iraq War illuminates differences, and similarities, in sourcing.
By David Vaina

Back in the mid-1850s, the English philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that a citizenry could not, would not, flourish unless it was nourished by the full spectrum of voices that exist among the people:

It is, however, obvious that law and authority have no business with restraining either [side or sides of the debate], while opinion ought, in every instance, to determine its verdict by the circumstances of the individual case, condemning every one, on whichever side of the argument he places himself, in whose mode of advocacy either want of candour, or malignity, bigotry, or intolerance of feeling manifest themselves; but not inferring these vices from the side which a person takes, though it be the contrary side of the question to our own; and giving merited honour to every one, whatever opinion he may hold, who has calmness to see and honesty to state what his opponents and their opinions really are, exaggerating nothing to their discredit, keeping nothing back which tells, or can be supposed to tell in their favour. This is the real morality of public discussion.

Well over one hundred years later, the blogosphere came into our lives, allowing us, in the words of Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, to "hear voices that had been shut out of the corporate media outlets."

These old "corporate media outlets," refusing to fade away, have held their ground. According to William Dietrich, a writer with the Seattle Times Sunday magazine, the sacred purpose of the newspaper reporter "is to fulfill an essential function of our democracy not just by disseminating information but also by analyzing it, detecting patterns, spotting trends, and increasing societal understanding." Indeed, bloggers may generate a more democratic Public Square, but can they facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of how political events are most likely to evolve, the Old Guard worries and wonders. In other words, Mill might not be enough.

To contribute to this Great Debate, I decided to conduct a content analysis of how blogs and newspapers covered the Iraq War during one week in late March 2007. By looking at how the two media have sourced their news stories, I hoped to offer insights into what exactly the American public "hears" from newspapers and blogs.

More specifically, my research, by examining five major newspapers and six popular political blogs, sought to answer three questions:

* Which media platform uses more sources?
* Which offers a more diverse range of sources?
* And which types of sources are more prevalent in each platform?


Overall, the data showed that blogs included a higher number of total sources and a slightly wider range of sources.

Blogs included an average number of nine sources per blog posting, compared to an average of just six for newspapers stories.

The gap between newspapers and blogs was considerably narrower when evaluating the types of sourcing. Still, blogs were slightly more diverse in their sourcing, with four sources per posting compared to an average of three in newspaper stories.

Digging deeper, which types of sources were the two media most likely to use?

Both blogs and newspapers were likely to include traditional Washington sources, both political and intellectual.

But blogs and newspapers did diverge in several key ways. Compared to newspapers, blogs were considerably less likely than newspapers to include official Iraqi sources.

And perhaps as a tell-tale sign of what the mainstream press really thinks of the blogosphere, just two percent of newspaper stories used a blog as a source. Not surprisingly, bloggers used other bloggers as sources at almost the same frequency as they used the mainstream press.

Sourcing in Blogs

Seven in ten (69%) blog postings included a mainstream media outlet (e.g. Washington Post, AP, The New York Times) as a source and 64% used other bloggers as sources.

Political Washington was well represented. Thirty percent of all stories had a source from a Democratic politician or party strategist, 28% included one from a Republican or GOP operative, and 23% included a source from the White House.

Meanwhile, a quarter (25%) included sources from the Pentagon, a soldier fighting in Iraq, or an immediate member of a soldier's family. Ten percent of all blog postings had a source from other government officials, such as analysts from the State Department or the American embassy in Iraq. Furthermore, 16% of all postings included a government document as a source, such as a hyperlink to a PDF of a legislative bill or the complete voting results for a particular bill from the Office of the Clerk at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Considerably fewer blog postings, however, included sources from Iraqi government officials (11%), such as local police and security forces and hospital administrators, and an even smaller number offered sources from Sunni or Shiite politicians (five percent). And only two percent of all postings included a source from the Iraqi insurgency.

Five percent of posts included sources from Iraqi civilians, and eight percent had sources from U.S. civilians.

Finally, a quarter (25%) offered a source from a non-partisan, non-governmental entity, such as a think tank, polling organization, or university.

Sourcing in Newspapers

Turning to newspapers, the most frequent source was a U.S. military official or family member. Over half (53%) of all newspaper stories included a source from this cohort—more than double the percentage in blogs.

The second most common source was a Democratic one; more than three in ten stories (32%) offered a Democratic source.

A quarter (24%) included a source from the Bush Administration, and another 16% had a source from other Republican politicians or strategists.

Another 22% included a source from other government officials outside the halls of Congress, the White House or the Pentagon.

Newspapers were also likely to offer an Iraqi point of view. Thirty-one percent of all stories included sources from the Iraqi authorities. Two in ten (20%) stories included sources from either Shiite or Sunni politicians. An additional seven percent was from sources coded as insurgents.

At the non-political level, newspapers were more likely to quote an Iraqi civilian, with ten percent of all stories offering this point of view. Half that percentage (five percent) included sources from U.S. civilians who were not family members of an American solider fighting in Iraq.

Twenty-three percent used a poll, statement from a non-partisan think tank, or academic as a source.

Finally, eight percent of stories used a mainstream media outlet as a source, and just two percent included blogs.


Much of the current debate in journalism that centers around how sourcing is used in blogs concerns the issues of verification of information not reported in the mainstream press. But for now, this doesn't appear to be their raison d'etre. The function of blogs may be an equally important one, however, offering a more nuanced, synthesized perspective not found anywhere else on the Web.

Perhaps what's most at stake for blogs is to evaluate which voices are being synthesized. According to the data for this study, an admittedly limited one, bloggers may be missing perhaps the most important piece of the political puzzle when we acknowledge the realpolitik of Iraq.

Both the American and Iraqi people are growing increasingly weary of the American military presence in Iraq, according to public opinion polls in both countries. If there is one point Democrats and Republicans can agree on it is that Iraq's future success rests on the further strengthening of Iraq's political institutions.

Right now, it may be that the traditional press—represented by newspapers here-has picked up on this better than blogs. The data shows that roughly four times as many stories in newspapers included sources from leading Sunni and Shiite politicians as did blogs. Where blogs excelled, with more bloggers, media sources and original texts as sources, is perhaps more easily to duplicate for newspapers on their websites. What cannot be mimicked so easily is the ability to discern which way the political winds are blowing in Baghdad and Washington.

One might dismiss this conclusion as an elitist, Lippmanian one. Regardless, it begs the question of whether or not the public most benefits from a traditional journalist sensibility that, despite its flaws and declining commitment to foreign affairs, can still be found at the country's best newspapers. Perhaps all those years of having boots on the ground overseas still colors, positively, newspaper coverage.

However, one should keep in mind that only a third (34%) of all bloggers considers their blog a form of journalism, according to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. So my insights may be a case of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Furthermore, until the mainstream press can better understand that media consumption and production are increasingly conversational, collaborative activities—where bloggers and citizens talk to each other—perhaps the best advice I can give is to take the time to read a newspaper and a blog or two.

About the Study

For this study, I counted the number of sources over seven days in late March 2007 (March 23-March 29). Only stories with the war in Iraq as the dominant story (50% or more of the story) were coded. Overall, 172 newspaper stories and blog postings--the units of analysis--were coded.

Sources did not have to be original. For example, a blog that quoted an interview from Senator John McCain that originally appeared in the Washington Post would be counted as a source, even though the actual reporting was not done by the blogger. Original sources, though in small numbers, could be found in blogs, most notably in Greg Sargent's postings on Talking Points Memo.

First, I looked at five major newspapers: Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wire stories that appeared in newspapers were included. A total of 111 newspaper stories were coded.

Second, I conducted an analysis of three major blogs from the left and three from the right. They included: Talking Points Memo, Political Animal (the Washington Monthly blog), Daily Kos, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and Hugh Hewitt. A total of 61 blog postings were analyzed for the research.

For blogs, a source was defined as those that were available either on the homepage posting or those on secondary pages within one mouse click from the original blog posting. Then, sources within these secondary pages were coded as well (e.g. links to other news sources, bloggers, and government documents). This methodology was employed in order to measure—as much as possible—the total available number of sources that are consumed by the typical blog reader, and not just those that appear in the original blog posting. Sources within tertiary pages (and beyond) were not coded because I felt that only a small number of blog readers would actually read this deep into a blog posting. Nevertheless, these tertiary (and beyond) pages theoretically expand the number of potential sources and should be kept in mind before forming any firm conclusions about the nature of sourcing in blogs.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Training : Global Online Course in ICT Journalism Starts Today

After successfully pioneering an online course in ICT Journalism in 2006, The International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Journalism Penplusbytes is starting today its second online course. 55 participants were selected from Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia to participate in this course from over 100 applications received.

Go to the course blog global online training blog for updates and year 2007 participants pictures
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.

BBC to open up archive for trial

The BBC is to open up its vast archive of video and audio in an on-demand trial involving more than 20,000 people in the UK.

Full-length programmes, as well as scripts and notes, will be available for download from the BBC's website.

The pilot is part of the BBC's plans to eventually offer more than a million hours of TV and radio from its archive.

The BBC's Future Media boss Ashley Highfield made the announcement at an industry conference in Cannes.

"Our audience increasingly want and expect to dictate how, when and where they get our services," he told the conference.

Mr Highfield, director of Future Media and Technology, said the BBC was starting to deliver content in a "hybrid environment", in which digital TV, radio, the web, set-top boxes and personal video recorders were combining to offer interactive services.

He said the corporation's end ambition was "one day enabling any viewer to access any BBC programme ever broadcast via their television", and highlighted the need to bridge the divide between TV and content with online connections.

Broadcasters around the world are grappling with the shift to on-demand media, with many firms now offering content online or via mobile devices.

Channel 4 in the UK has launched its on-demand service via the net and cable services, while networks in the US are shifting content to platforms such as iTunes and the web.

At the Cannes event Mr Highfield announced:

# The BBC's proposed iPlayer service, offering catch-up TV via the web and cable TV, would be re-engineered to work with Apple Macs and would eventually roll out to digital terrestrial TV (DTT) and set-top boxes.

# A trial of hybrid set-top boxes which are connected to the net and can record TV to access BBC archive material.

# The desire to "future-proof Freeview with additional advanced interactive and digital functionality" so it could offer catch-up TV and access archive material.

The archive trial will make available 1,000 hours of content drawn from a mix of genres to a closed number of people. About 50 hours - of both TV and radio programmes - will be available in an open environment for general access.

Mr Highfield said: "It will test what old programmes people really want to see, from Man Alive to The Liver Birds, how they want to see them - full length or clip compilations, and when they want them - in 'lean-forward' exploratory mode similar to web surfing, or as a scheduled experience more akin to TV viewing."

It will test what old programmes people really want to see, from Man Alive to The Liver Birds
Ashley Highfield

The trial would also be used for the BBC to understand just how much content should be offered free to viewers and "where we should draw the line between a licence fee funded service and a commercial service," said the BBC executive.

The BBC hopes that the archive would one day be available online, and on TVs via set-top boxes, either future Freeview players or via Internet Protocol TV.

"Getting our BBC iPlayer seven day, catch-up TV service and our archive pilot out on to the web is one thing, but clearly the biggest available audience is sat in front of the television," explained Mr Highfield.

The BBC iPlayer is expected to be launched later this year but is still subject to approval from the BBC Trust.

If launched, it is designed to offer a seven-day catch-up service for viewers who can download content onto their computers.

The BBC said it planned to offer the service first on computers running the Windows operating system and then on cable TV and other platforms such as Apple Macs, media centre PCs and smart handheld devices, such as mobiles or PDAs.

"Once we've done all that, we'll turn to the really tricky platforms: DTT via either PVRs or IP hybrid boxes."

The BBC's plans for the iPlayer were put on hold earlier this year after its regulators, the BBC Trust, asked the corporation to look at whether the iPlayer should be platform agnostic.

Mr Highfield said Apple's "proprietary and closed framework for digital rights management gives us headaches," but, "it is one of our top priorities to re-engineer our proposed BBC iPlayer service to work on Macs".

Of Freeview's future, Mr Highfield said: "It's critical that Freeview evolves as a compelling and competitive alternative to cable and satellite."

Mr Highfield said the BBC would be lobbying regulator Ofcom for allocation of spectrum to develop free high definition services for Freeview.

"New, hybrid set-top boxes, that combine broadcast TV with an IP connection, give us additional opportunities to deliver on-demand services via Freeview," he said.

"Hybrid boxes are a part of the future, as important - if not more so - than standard PVRs," he added.

People who are interested in participating in the trial should register at
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/04/18 15:30:02 GMT


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Students Tell Va. Tech Story Through Cell Video, Blogs, Forums

Resources for covering the shooting... Profile of rampage attackers.

By Al Tompkins (
(more by author ( )

If you ever had a doubt about how important it is for your
newsroom to be able to tap into user-generated content, the Virginia Tech story
will change that. Look at this collection from CNN's I-Report. (

Students text messaged one another while hiding under desks.
some of those messages here. (

In stories like this, journalists have to go to new places
to look online to find students talking to one another and sharing their
stories. Some
students are gathering on Facebook. ( ( has a
collection of cell pictures taken by students. More
than 150 tribute ( groups have formed on Facebook.

Other students went right to their blogs (
and wrote about what they saw.

When I went to ( , I found this collection:

A blog from reporters for The
Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech's campus newspaper. ( They started keeping it after the publication's Web page
crashed. The site contains stories from VT students, plus photos taken from
inside classrooms on campus.

A LiveJournal
blog written by someone described as a VT student named "Paul." (
The poster said his girlfriend was wounded in Norris Hall and received
treatment at Montgomery Regional Hospital
in Blacksburg.

Another student's LJ
blog, this one written by "Bryce," ( who said he was on campus
while the shootings took place.

A MySpace account written by a VT student ( who said he was on campus at the Schiffert Health Center
when the shootings began.

The Flickr
account of Roanoke Times photographer Alan Kim, ( including images of police
handcuffing a man and carrying victims out of Norris Hall.

One of several
discussion groups on Facebook ( dedicated to presenting first-person accounts
of the events on VT's campus.

Virginia Tech MySpace page ( , on which users from around the country are
showing their support through messages.

A Fark
message board ( filled with student reports of the shooting.

collection of e-mails from resident advisers ( and the university advising
students to stay indoors.

MTV also
is building connections ( to the college community through this blog page, on
which students can leave messages about the shooting.

Resources for Covering the Shooting

The Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families pulled together a collection including: (

Trauma source at Virginia Tech: Psychology professor Russell T.
Jones has expertise in psychological effects of trauma and natural disasters on
children. He has spoken at previous CJC conferences. 540.231.5934;

in Anti-Social Behavior and Risk of Violence Among Students (

Gun Issues
and Building Security (

in Child/Teen Mental Health and the Impact of Traumatic Events (

Facts on School-Related Violence (focused on secondary schools) (

The American Psychological Association also created a brochure to make young people aware of the "Warning
Signs of Youth Violence." (

Profile of Rampage Attackers

2000, The New York Times tracked ( the
backgrounds of more than 100 rampage killers to see if a profile emerged. That
story said:

They are not drunk or high on drugs. They are not racists or
Satanists, or addicted to violent video games, movies or music.

Most are white men, but a surprising number are
women, Asians and blacks. Many have college degrees, but most are unemployed.
Many are military veterans.

They give lots of warning and even tell people explicitly what
they plan to do. They carry semiautomatic weapons they have obtained easily
and, in most cases, legally.

They do not try to get away. In the end, half turn their guns on
themselves or are shot dead by others. They not only want to kill, they also
want to die.

That is the profile of the 102 killers in 100 rampage attacks
examined by The New York Times in a computer-assisted study looking back more
than 50 years and including the shootings in 1999 at Columbine
High School in Littleton,
Colo., and one by a World War II veteran on a
residential street in Camden,
N.J., in 1949. Four hundred
twenty-five people were killed and 510 people were injured in the attacks. The
database, which primarily focused on cases in the last decade, is believed to
be the largest ever compiled on this phenomenon in the United States.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


MediaWiki is a free software wiki package originally written for Wikipedia. It is now used by several other projects of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation and by many other wikis.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Weblogs 'need content warnings'

Readers should be warned when they are reading blogs that may contain "crude language", a draft blogging code of conduct has suggested.

The code was drawn up by web pioneer Tim O'Reilly following published threats and perceived harassment to US developer Kathy Sierra on blogs.

The code begins: "We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation."

The draft says people should not be allowed to leave anonymous comments.

Blogs which are open and uncensored should post an "anything goes" logo to the site to warn readers, the code suggests.

Readers of these blogs would be warned: "We are not responsible for the comments of any poster, and when discussions get heated, crude language, insults and other "off colour" comments may be encountered. Participate in this site at your own risk."

The draft will now be assessed and amended by bloggers around the world.

The code states: "We are committed to the 'Civility Enforced' standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it."

The draft defines unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that is being used to "abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others".

It also refers to libellous material, infringement of copyright or trademark and violations of privacy.

Prominent blogger Kathy Sierra called on the blogosphere to combat the culture of abuse online after a series of death threats forced her to cancel a public appearance and suspend her blog.

Ms Sierra described on her blog how she had been subject to a campaign of threats, including a post that featured a picture of her next to a noose.

At the heart of the issue is the degree of freedom afforded to people who want to comment on blog posts.

"If those published comments could be construed as a threat, and the perpetrator doesn't withdraw them and apologise, we will cooperate with law enforcement to protect the target of the threat," the code states.

The code has had mixed support among bloggers.

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs programme: "The question is: Do we allow people to use our blogs as places to embark on threatening behaviour and really abusive personal insults?

"You don't have to insult people to be frank."

But the code was not welcome by blogger and commentator Jeff Jarvis, who called it "misguided".

On his blog, he wrote: "This effort misses the point of the internet, blogs, and even of civilized behavior. They treat the blogosphere as if it were a school library where someone... can maintain order and control. They treat it as a medium for media.

"It's a place. And when I moved into the place that is my town, I didn't put up a badge on my fence saying that I'd be a good neighbor."

He added: "I don't need anyone lecturing me and telling me not to be disagreeable."

VOTE Should blogs carry warnings about uncensored material? Yes No Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/04/10 07:42:15 GMT


Monday, April 09, 2007

2007 International Journalism Exchange (IJE)

Deadline: June 1.
Open to editors who have worked in journalism for at least five years, are currently employed by a daily newspaper, and are proficient in English, but have little substantial previous travel to or training in the United States.
Principal editors of daily newspapers in developing countries are invited to apply. The five-week program begins with an orientation in Washington, D.C., followed by a four-week newspaper assignment that offers exposure to all the departments of an American newspaper. The program concludes with a two-day session in New York City that consists of professional group activities and the final evaluation of the program. The program dates will be October 8-November 7, 2007. Application deadline is June 1.
For more information, please go to:, or send email to Please submit your application to Program Officer Ms. Ting Wang, International Center for Journalists, 1616 H Street, NW, Third Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006, U.S.A.; Tel: +1-202-737-3700 ; Fax: +1-202-737-0530.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

'Cheating' the search engines

By Spencer Kelly
BBC Click

We have come to expect a lot from search engines.

Type in a phrase, and we not only expect it to find millions of relevant websites, but we also expect it to list the best or most important sites first.

Woe betide a search engine that requires me to click to page two of the results before I find the site I am looking for.

Generally they do a decent job but, up until very recently, if you were to search on the term "miserable failure", top of the Google search results was the official George Bush page on the official White House site.

Bush trick

This is an example of how even the biggest search engines can be manipulated.

Essentially, the web is a collection of pages, all linking to each other.

If you are searching for something, search engines like Google, Ask, and Yahoo! will first find all the pages they think are relevant.

Then, crucially, they need to decide which order to display search results in. One of the most important factors in deciding how relevant particular sites are is to count how many other sites link to it.

The more references, or links there are to a site, the more important it is deemed to be.

Because lots of people quote and link the BBC website, for example, the BBC site is seen as relevant and a good hit. That is why the site ranks quite highly for many search terms.

An underground movement of bloggers exploited this fact, to create a "link bomb". They encouraged thousands of their peers to include a link to the Bush homepage in their blogs, and label it "miserable failure".

With all of these links, the main search engine algorithms were fooled into thinking this was a relevant result for that search term, and Bush was driven to the top of the rankings. Mr Bush had been link bombed.

At first, the search engines ignored it - it was not their job to censor search results, however controversial.

Nor did they censor other link bombs - googling "liar" would show Tony Blair's homepage first.

Link bombs are usually self-defeating - as they become successful, other popular sites begin to discuss the bombs, and end up becoming more popular than the link bomb, driving it from number one.

Apostolos Gerasoulis, co-inventor of search technology for said: "I don't think this is the problem though. This is just fun."

"Why we don't remove it, or why the search engines don't remove it, is because as long as we give relevant results for most of the queries that you type then we're OK.

"The impact of this bombing, as it is called, is minimal, insignificant. It might be two or three examples," he added.

Google decided to tweak its search algorithm to spot link bombs, and the miserable failure dropped away. On other search engines, such as Ask, it remains high.

If they build the right page, it is OK, if they build a great page it's OK but the problem comes when they really try to cheat you
Apostolos Gerasoulis search expert

The link bomb actually achieved what any business would love to have - the number one search result in their category.

The ideal place to be is in the centre of the search result, the so-called natural search result, online marketer Fadi Shuman, explained.

"You get 80% of the clicks from the natural results. That is where we all want to be. The way to achieve that is through search engine optimisation."

Optimisation is produced by making the website as visible to search engines as possible and having other sites linking to it.

However search engine optimisation also has a darker side.


In February 2006, BMW Germany got into hot water over its website.

The problem was that the site was laden with keywords which customers could not see, but which search engines could.

They were there specifically to boost the rankings. Google has rules to guard against so-called black hat methods - specifically, "don't present different content to search engines than you do to your users".

Once discovered, Google blacklisted the site and dropped it from their search results altogether until BMW redesigned the site.

Jason Duke, search engine optimiser, said: "We try and persuade people to link to us, whether that be via content, whether that be via methods of creating controversy in the marketplace."

It is an ongoing battle of sorts, between the search engines and the optimisers who would love to work the system to their clients' advantage. Although both sides prefer to call it an uneasy truce.

Mr Gerasoulis added: "If they build the right page, it's OK, if they build a great page, it's OK. But the problem comes when they really try to cheat you."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/04/05 14:04:17 GMT


Thursday, April 05, 2007


Live Search Maps is offered under the Terms of Use and Notices and the Live Search Maps Code of Conduct, and combines road and aerial as well as unique bird’s eye and 3D view maps for select areas.

'Flash is the new publishing tool of the century'

Once the most hated technology online, Flash has become one of the most loved. Meet the scientist taking it to the next level,,2049777,00.html

The Future of Journalism

While “citizen journalists” can immediately broadcast breaking news to millions of people through blogs, online communities, free podcasts and webcasts, how do traditional media outlets compete, both from an editorial and business perspective? This Thursday, April 5, the Canadian Journalism Foundation asks (and attempts to answer) the question of journalism’s place in a wired world.

How to make money on your news content website

Forget what you might have heard: Journalists can earn money publishing online. Here are some tips from OJR readers.

This article is designed to help journalists learn how to make extra money, or even a full-time wage, by publishing independently online. It is not intended to provide an online revenue model for established news organizations. Heck, they've got business managers. They shouldn't need a wiki to show them what to do.

Content websites typically earn money through one of four ways:

* Commissions / Affiliate links
* Advertising networks
* Selling your own ads
* Paid content
* Sponsorships/Grants

Once you have ads on your site, you will want to compute the eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) of revenue that each ad type is earning for you. You calculate eCPM by taking the total amount generated by an ad (or ad type), diving it by the number of pages on which that ad (or ad type) appears, then multiplying by 1,000. Let eCPM data help you decide which advertising type, layout and position work best for you.

Bronwyn Nielsen wins Telkom journalism award

Bronwyn Nielsen, a senior anchor at soon-to-be-launched business news channel CNBC Africa, has won the Telkom ICT Journalist of the Year award for a programme she produced for M-Net’s Carte Blanche about South Africa’s high telecommunications costs.

Nielsen, an experienced broadcast journalist who has previously worked for Summit TV, and Highveld Stereo, won the award at a gala dinner held at Summer Place in Sandton.

“Nielsen brilliantly used the medium of television to capture interest and attention despite the subject matter being oft reported,” the judges said. “She unpacked the issues in a logical and coherent manner and the programme’s human interest value was enhanced by individual stories being told — from the outset — through the personal experiences of customers as well as key industry players such as the Internet Service Providers’ Association, the SMME Forum, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, a leading industry journalist, and the department of communications.”

Other winners included Lesley Stones, who won the newspaper category for her writing in Business Day, and freelancer Brian Bakker who took home the prize in the magazine category for a story in iWeek. Hilton Tarrant of Moneyweb won in the online section and ITWeb’s Dave Glazier won the new journalist category. The student journalist award went to Carly Ritz of Rhodes University.

The entries were judged by Rhodes University’s Guy Berger, Hewlett-Packard’s Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe, Wits University’s Lucienne Abrahams and the Mail & Guardian’s Vincent Maher.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Back to Basics - Gmail Paper

New! Introducing Gmail Paper

Everyone loves Gmail. But not everyone loves email, or the digital era.
What ever happened to stamps, filing cabinets, and the mailman?
Well, you asked for it, and it’s here. We’re bringing it back.

A New Button
Now in Gmail, you can request a physical copy of any message with the click of a button,
and we'll send it to you in the mail.

Simplicity Squared
Google will print all messages instantly and prepare them for delivery.
Allow 2-4 business days for a parcel to arrive via post.

Total Control
A stack of Gmail Paper arrives in a box at your doorstep, and it’s yours to keep forever.
You can read it, sort it, search it, touch it. Or even move it to the trash—the real trash. (Recycling is encouraged.)

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe
Google takes privacy very seriously.
But once your email is physically in your hands, it's as secure as you want to make it.