Monday, December 31, 2007

Web icon set to be discontinued

Netscape lost ground to Microsoft's internet Explorer
The browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease
development because of lack of users.
Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported
after 1 February 2008, the company has said.

The Miami Herald to outsource some copyediting, ad work to India

MIAMI - The Miami Herald is outsourcing copyediting of a weekly
community news section and some advertising production work to India,
a newspaper editor said Friday.

Starting in January, copyediting and design in a weekly section of
Broward County community news and other special advertising sections
will be outsourced to Mindworks, based in New Delhi.

The project remains in the testing phase, so it was unclear if or how
jobs in south Florida will be affected, executive editor Anders
Gyllenhaal said.

Mindworks will also monitor reader comments posted to online stories, he said.

Earlier this month, The Sacramento Bee, also owned by the McClatchy
Co., said it would outsource some of its advertising production work
to India.

In May, news website,, was widely criticized after
editors hired two reporters in India to cover the Los Angeles suburb.

Information from: The Miami Herald,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Key media organisations and trade unions in Sri Lanka recognise bloggers as journalists

A statement by the five leading media organisations and journalist trade unions in Sri Lanka carried in the Daily Mirror today is the first expression in the history of journalism in Sri Lanka that bloggers are defined as being inextricably part of the media community.

In reply to the Media Minister's statement five media organisations comprising the Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, the Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Federation, the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists' Association and the Free Media Movement said: "According to the views of a democratic society all those in print and electronic media as well as those who are professionally engaged in collecting information and distributing it to the public are considered journalists. Even those who maintain political and social blogs are considered journalists."

The statement was issued in response to the Sri Lankan Media Minister's denial of the contents of a report by the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) that ranked Sri Lanka as the third most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

A related article by Free Media Movement (FMM) spokesperson Sunanda Deshapriya (in Sinhala) explores this issue further, where he notes that:

"ïn saying that the only journalists the Minister recognises are those with ID cards issued by the Media Ministry, the Government of Sri Lanka conveniently ignores the vital social and political critques of bloggers in Sri Lanka. From Myanmar to China to Iraq, the world today gets news and information through bloggers."

But it is not just the Government in Sri Lanka that does not understand the emergent power of bloggers. The behaviour of some traditional media in Sri Lanka towards bloggers earlier this year, and one Editor's incredible response to this author's efforts to point out the traditional media's responsibility to treat bloggers in the same manner as other media sources, demonstrate that blogs clearly pose an irksome challenge to old school journalists as much as repressive governments.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why Was Blogging Journalist Llewellyn Kriel Fired?

Why Was Blogging Journalist Llewellyn Kriel Fired?

South African Journalist Paul Jacobson, who blogs at The Blogumist, one of the blogs of the Johannesburg, South Africa-based The Times', notes in a December 19, 2007, post that, "A hot topic in the last few weeks was [journalist] Llewellyn Kriel's [November 29, 2007] dismissal from the Sowetan (a sister publication to The Times) after he blogged about morale at the Sowetan on Thought Leader, a group blog run by the Mail & Guardian (the competition).

"A debate has raged about whether he was fired simply because he blogged or because he actually divulged confidential information (the reason given for his dismissal)," Jacobson writes.

Media in Transition's Vincent Maher contends in a November 30, 2007, post headlined "Sowetan Journalist Fired for Blogging " that:

What this situation highlights is the strategic complexities of Media 2.0 as a set of publishing principles, and the risks corporates now face when every irritated employee could potentially have a voice on the web that will be indexed by Google in perpetuity. What it does is raise several important questions about the role of the journalist in the media company. On paper Kriel must have violated several confidentiality clauses in his contract if one ignores his argument that what he was saying was already on public record but, looking at things slightly differently, what Kriel said would have faded away had he been disciplined subtly and constructively. As always in these things, I suspect there is more to this than meets they eye but, nevertheless, Kriel will become a sort of martyr for the cause.

For more of Jacobson's December 19, 2007, post, see " Getting Fired for Blogging." Also see "Blogger of the Week: SA's first media blog casualty " and "Fired for blogging."

To read the post Kriel was purportedly fired for writing, see "Working on that pig's ear, baby."  To read his response to being sacked, see "The 'gross misconduct' of blogging."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Encouraging people to contribute knowledge

The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal.

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word "knol" as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest.

A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.

Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.

Once testing is completed, participation in knols will be completely open, and we cannot expect that all of them will be of high quality. Our job in Search Quality will be to rank the knols appropriately when they appear in Google search results. We are quite experienced with ranking web pages, and we feel confident that we will be up to the challenge. We are very excited by the potential to substantially increase the dissemination of knowledge.

We do not want to build a walled garden of content; we want to disseminate it as widely as possible. Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine.

As always, a picture is worth a thousands words, so an example of a knol is below (click on the image twice to see the page in full). The main content is real, and we encourage you to read it (you may sleep better afterwards!), but most of the meta-data -- like reviews, ratings, and comments -- are not real, because, of course, this has not been in the public eye as yet. Again, this is a preliminary version.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Five billion people will be connected to the Internet by 2015

The Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), the organisers of GK3 are optimistic that five billion people will be connected to the Internet by 2015.

Walter Fust the Chair of the GKP Executive Committee expressed this while closing the conference. Fust, who is also the Director-General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) said the plan, will not only create enormous job opportunities for software and hardware suppliers, but also connect billions of people to the Internet.

"The Internet will make a huge difference in terms of quality, quantity and availability to grow and expand global knowledge. This will bring enormous market opportunities," he said.

He noted that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will reduce the transaction costs of doing business.

The conference's theme Emerging People, Emerging Markets Emerging Technologies focused on the challenges to effective socio and economic development and use of ICTs as an enabler to connect those excluded from progress by providing them with access to knowledge through technology.

In support of the conference theme, Fust appealed for support to 'emerging people' who are the drivers of the information and knowledge revolution.

He commended youth for actively taking part in Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) initiatives.

He hastened to add that dangers of misuse of ICTs as well solve cyber waste.

"Cyber security and cyber crime are the themes that deserve special attention," he concluded.

Conference participants called for the inclusion of ICTs not only in early-age education, but also for life long learning.

They also called for increasing use of low energy consumption made possible by green technologies and availability of low cost devices to contribute to affordable access to information and knowledge.

The conference attracted about 2000 delegates from different sectors, including private companies, governments, international institutions and civil society groups.

The United Arab Emirates has approached the secretariat with intent to host GKP4.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Journalism scholars fail the test

Guy Berger: CONVERSE

Spot the difference:

… Two areas of new interest are in the fields of business magazines and technology. Business Today, Business World, the Economic Times, and Technocrat, launched fairly recently, are doing well ... Bhutan, with less than 1 million population, can now boast of publishing its own national newspaper.
Authors: Anju Chaudhary and Anne Chen, in the book Global Journalism, third edition, 1995 (pages 278 and 281)

… Two areas of new interest are in the fields of business magazines and technology. Business Today, Business World, the Economic Times, and Technocrat, launched fairly recently are doing well… Bhutan, with less than 1 million population, can now boast of publishing its own national newspaper.
Authors: Jiafei Yin and Gregg Payne, in the fourth edition of Global Journalism, 2004 (pages 354 and 355)

There is supposed to be a difference. The second excerpt suggests that what happened prior to 2004 (the fourth edition) was the same as almost a decade earlier (the third edition). Worse, the later work should also have identified where the information came from.

There are at least a dozen items of information in the popular Global Journalism textbook, all lifted without update or credit regarding the original authors' research. These are serious issues in academic scholarship -- and in journalism.

One of the original authors, Anju Chaudhary, is sore about Yin and Payne, but she's even more aggrieved with the publishers, Pearson Education, and with the book's editors -- United States scholar John Merrill and South African academic Arrie de Beer. Seen from her point of view, the two editors neglected to spot, or stop, the use of her research without either crediting her or properly updating it.

The problem is that no one will acknowledge any wrong in what happened.

Chaudhary says that despite herself having co-authored the Asian chapters in both the second and third editions of the book, she was not invited to do the fourth. Instead, Yin and Payne were commissioned. This week, Yin former referred queries to the publishers; Payne ignored two emails on the issue.

On its part, Pearson has written to Chaudhary, claiming that it is the author and copyright holder, and under "no obligation" to attribute the material to her. For good measure, it adds that this would be inappropriate anyway because the material had been "revised".

Yet parts of the fourth edition show no updating at all. One instance is the passage: "Today (sic) 146 daily papers are published in the country (Bangladesh -- GB) ... presently (sic) there are approximately 242 weeklies ...". Taken verbatim from the 1995 (third) edition, these facts are presented as still current in 2004.

Despite such problems, Pearson's website proclaims that the fourth edition has been "almost entirely rewritten". Contacted for this article last week, the company replied it would not disclose "proprietary information".

Chaudhary is particularly unhappy about the book's co-editor De Beer, who she says brushed off her concerns during a meeting in the US where she raised the matter.

"He just listened and said that Dr Chaudhary has already heard from the publisher, who stated that the copyright belongs to the publisher. That's all he had to say. I think it is extremely unethical and highly unprofessional on his part ..."

De Beer is an older-generation media academic in South Africa, and is described in a forthcoming version of his journal Ecquid Novi as having been "an inspiration to younger generations of scholars".

In an article last year he described plagiarism as one of the "ethical scandals" facing journalism and journalism education.

He is a part-time "extraordinary professor" at Stellenbosch University's journalism school, whose website states: "Plagiarism is stealing other people's words and ideas and making them appear to be your own." Students are advised that a plagiarism offence will prevent them graduating.

Told about the problem, the head of the Stellenbosch department, Professor Lizette Rabe, said: "I am shocked by the allegations, especially in the light of the strict copyright policies we have in our department -- a basic principle in an environment and industry in which words are the 'currency', and where integrity and credibility are the foundation of our profession."

But emailed last week for his side of the story, De Beer replied (his original in Afrikaans): "I really don't know where you fall out of the bus with this business ... In case you and/or the person concerned continue with the case, and bring my good name into disrepute, I will be compelled to take the necessary steps against you, and if necessary the publication involved."

Co-editor Merrill failed to reply to email queries.

De Beer is a man who once loyally served the apartheid-era South African Broadcasting Corporation board, and was later reported to have told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: "I did not know. I remained silent when I should have protested."

There is no self-criticism in this case, although he and Merrill either missed or condoned the shoddy scholarship by Yin and Payne. Compounding that problem now is reluctance to account for the matter.

Coincidentally last month, Merrill was dropped as a contributor to the Missourian newspaper. He was caught out for having appropriated other people's words without acknowledgement in at least six of his columns.

The US scholar is the original (sole) author of Global Journalism, which the Pearson website boasts as having "established itself over 20 years as a trusted authority on international media".

At least as regards his Missourian misdemeanour, Merrill is reported to have acknowledged the problem and described his action as carelessness.

But in relation to Global Journalism, none of the parties has taken the ethical step of admitting culpability. Their book continues to be prescribed around the world, no doubt earning tidy sums for all.

Meanwhile, Chaudhary's complaints run into a stonewall, her contribution to knowledge remains uncredited and outdated information has been passed off as if it were contemporary.

In a late response to the column, Merrill commented:

I didn't oversee any article in the fourth edition. Arnold De Beer did all the editing; I never saw the Asia section (or any other) prior to publishing. I had heard about the charge. My reaction to the original authors would probably be something this: I was on a tight deadline, extremely busy, had faith in the new writers, and simply did not read the new version carefully enough (with comparison to earlier edition). Hope this will help. I have great faith in De Beer and know that it was simply an oversight on his part if there were any overlap between the two editions.

In the meantime, without De Beer or Pearson being big enough to step forward, Chaudhary still sits without an apology.

credit :

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What Does a 'Data Delivery Editor' Do?

Apparently there are a lot of black bear sightings in Virginia. If you live in that state, you might want to know where and when those bears were spotted. That's why Matt Chittum, of The Roanoke Times, is building a database and accompanying map.  His title at the newspaper is "data delivery editor."

This bear map will join a rapidly expanding set of databases collected in the newspaper site's DataSphere, which launched last Thursday. The DataSphere, modeled after the DataUniverse at the Asbury Park Press and RocDocs at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, collects in one place a couple of dozen databases with information important to the local audience. (Learn more about DataUniverse.)

The Roanoke Times -- known for its pioneering efforts in multimedia and interactivity -- hadn't put as much thought into how it handled databases until a dust-up earlier this year involving a decision to publish concealed-weapons permits on the site.

As you might predict, many, many people were unhappy," Roanoke Times editor Carole Tarrant explained in an e-mail interview.

"I didn't want that controversy to ruin any exploration with databases. I didn't want us to forever shy from running them because we had one really bad experience. I wanted to show they could be used for the good -- for good journalism -- if you carefully weighed the value of the information you were presenting."

So Tarrant created the new staff position of data delivery editor and set about building new databases, linking to existing databases on the Times site, and linking to outside databases of government and community information.

"The data delivery editor wasn't an additional position -- we had to make a choice to not do something else," Tarrant said. That's not an easy decision when your newsroom is shrinking. Chittum explains his role and what he's working on in the Datablog.

One piece of the DataSphere, The Beamer File, allows users to follow the 21-year career of Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer. You can sort by season, month, opponent, the opponent's conference and games that were televised.

Other than a couple of maps, there isn't much visual representation of data so far in the DataSphere. The New York Times is showing what's possible in this regard: a graph of a presidential debate transcript and a map of presidential campaign visits. Also, Ben Fry (who literally is writing the book on visualizing data) built a cool Major League Baseball salary analyzer to show which teams have the most cost-effective payroll. A slider bar on the graph enables the viewer to see how the results changed throughout the season.

Chittum has some good ideas for how he'd like to improve the DataSphere with visualization tools. One tool would convert data to tag clouds, bar charts, pie charts and fever charts. (For the uninitiated, a tag cloud or data cloud is a weighted list. Here' an example showing world population weighted by font size.)

"I'm especially fascinated by tag clouds, partly because I haven't seen them on mainstream newspaper sites, but they can offer quite effective quick-read presentation," Chittum wrote in an e-mail. "One idea I have in mind is a tag cloud of the most common drugs people overdose on. Maybe the causes of death of for all Virginians as a tag cloud."

Pretty innovative stuff for a newspaper. That's what can happen when you create staff positions such as "data delivery editor."

Blogging, Creativity and Formal Writing in the University

This is an interesting conversation about writing and creativity and how this is important in blogging, online communication, and web-based education. Prof. Campbell makes the case for using online tools to find new ways of learning and communicating about ourselves and our world. He makes some interesting comments. One that I like is how writing public blogs is something that students will carry with them after they graduate. I have been trying to get this idea across in my classes (most of which have some public social media presence), though not quite as concisely as Prof. Campbell did.

While I have no background in the arts, I think I agree that literature and the arts need to be free of boundaries. However, I believe that the sciences require a formal knowledge foundation, including formal forms of communication. Only then can creative insights expand the boundaries of our knowledge.

I agree with his comments that social media requires some new writing skills, and that this new medium can generate creative and new depths of communication. But as the editor of an academic journal in the social sciences, I think there is a necessary role for teaching formal rules -- especially writing. Even Wikipedia is trying to get its articles written in a more formal and academic manner.

Unfortunately, there are few more frustrating challenges for me than the poor writing ability of many of my students. If they cannot write a coherent sentence and paragraph (let alone a whole paper), then they will not be able to effectively communicate in the real world when they graduate. You cannot gain professional respect unless you are able to write to the level of your professional peers. And I am always wonder just what my students are being taught in those required English classes that they take.

Finally, I agree with his chagrin over a computer system designed to automatically grade essay exams -- and its tie to a textbook publisher. At the same time, as a former department chair in a publicly funded teaching university, I am aware of the demand from state legislators for faculty to teach as many students as possible in the most efficient manner possible. Departments that do not play the game risk the loss of faculty positions and degree programs.

Structure vs Agency

I think that there has always been a tension between structure and creativity in education (e.g., the old "structure vs agency" debate). I see it in the kindergarten classes that my wife used to teach, and I have seen it on graduate research committees. I think that the reason why the US higher education system has been so successful is because this tension is recognized and accepted, if not always appreciated (physical sciences are always better funded than social sciences and the arts).

It should be no surprise that these same tensions arise in the use of social media tools in education. To me, social software is a tool. How it is used is up to the instructor. Many of the the potential uses of social software actually evolve out of collaborative learning and student-centered learning, on which many books have been written in the past several decades, and from which those of use who teach mostly online have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

So anyway, it was a thought provoking interview -- and one that took me away from an encyclopedia article that I am working on, that is already past-due to the editors!

I highly recommend listening to this interview on ITConversations:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How & When to Credit Bloggers?

A blogger posts something interesting. The local metro newspaper sees that post, reports a story, and doesn't mention the blog. Should the blogger be credited? What about if the blog post is the first local coverage of the story? Or if the reporter interviewed the blogger?

Those questions and others -- about the media food chain, originality, transparency -- are bouncing around the Twin Cities blogosphere following a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story (  that apparently owed some inspiration to a local blogger's posts.

On Nov. 29 and 30, Twin Cities blogger  Ed Kohler  posted (here (  and here ( ) on an emerging story involving Minneapolis-based Target Corp.: Students doing viral marketing for Target on Facebook were asked to conceal their affiliation with the company. Kohler's posts hat-tipped and expanded on posts by University of Georgia senior  Rosie Siman , who revealed the concealment on Oct. 8 ( . (In an Oct. 9 update ( , Siman posted that she'd learned the administrator for the Target Rounders program claims the original request was a "miscommunication.")

A few minutes before midnight on Nov. 30 the Star-Tribune published its version of the story online. They also bannered it across the front page of the Dec. 1 paper. The story quoted Siman, Target and Target's marketing arm. It did not mention Kohler's blog; even though referred to Target being "outed in online blogs."

In response to the newspaper story, Kohler called out (  reporter  Jackie Crosby , saying that she had phoned him after his first post and that he had discussed what he knew and provided contact info for some sources. Crosby commented on Kohler's post (  that she appreciated his help, but "Reporters talk to people all the time who don't get quoted every time we write stories. ... We use sources to help us better understand things we don't understand."  (Disclosure: I also commented on this post.) 

Was Kohler only a source? Local bloggers don't think so. They have objected on Kohler's blog and on a local online daily, the Minnesota Monitor ( , saying that he furthered the story and brought it to local attention. (Of note, late on the day of Kohler's first post, Crosby put a please-get-in-touch note (  on Siman's blog.)

I think that the overarching question (as I commented (  on Minnesota Monitor): Sometimes stories are truly original and exclusive, but sometimes they are value-added. Is it time to start being up-front about which is which? Which is ultimately more harmful to credibility: adding a phrase such as "also reported in XX," or hearing from a host of talkative online readers who noticed that we didn't?  

Poynter  online, E-Media Tidbits Posted by Maryn McKenna

Monday, December 03, 2007

Community Development Principles and Strategies for Campus Radio Stations Communique


*/This communiqué emerged from a four-day workshop on Community
Development Principles and Strategies for Campus Radio Stations held at
the Confluence Beach Hotel, Lokoja, Nigeria. The workshop was organized
by the Institute of Media and Society (IMS) and the Open Society
Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). Participants were representatives of
approved/licensed radio broadcasting stations and awaiting–approval
radio projects in higher education institutions in Nigeria./*


We, the participants of the workshop, which was held from 26^th to 29^th
November 2007, make the following observations:

     * The decision of the federal government to approve radio stations
       for educational institutions portends positive developments for
       access to media, communication pluralism and national development
       in general.
     * The federal government started a policy reform process in 2004,
       but the final documents from the process are still being awaited
       by the public.
     * The regulatory body, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC),
       has been working assiduously in creating a conducive regulatory
       space for campus radio stations, and community radio stations, in
     * The operation of campus stations has immense potentials for the
       development of Nigerian academic communities.
     * The enthusiasm to establish and operate campus stations is high in
       Nigerian educational institutions. But the licence approval
       process is not keeping pace with demands from academic communities.
     * Authorities of the institutions still require some
       capacity-building interactions to facilitate appropriate
       management and optimization of benefits of campus radio.
     * Continuing regulatory reviews and decisions by the NBC are
       throwing up issues which will require continuing engagement with
     * Licence approvals have so far been limited to academic communities
       while applications for licences by other types of community such
       as rural, sub urban, etc are still waiting.

Following these observations, we make the following recommendations:

1.      Educational institutions who have obtained or about to obtain
broadcast licenses should:

(a)             recognize the diversity of the campus community in the
management of campus radio stations/projects;

(b)             understand and manage campus radio as non-profit and
community development tools;

(c)             encourage the campus radio stations to generate
programmes that would be relevant to their primary and secondary

(d)             establish mechanisms that will ensure accountability and
transparency in the day-to-day running of the campus radio stations.

2.      The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) should:

(a)             Continue and strengthen its productive interactions with
stakeholders to, among other things, ensure that its decisions continue
to be in consonance with international best  practices and that
regulatory information on campus radio management is available to
stakeholders on a timely basis;

(b)             create public awareness on the need for citizens to
monitor professional performance of radio stations and to channel
complaints for regulatory actions;

(c)             discontinue the regulatory provision which requires
campus stations to pay 2.5% of their annual turnover to the NBC;

(d)             standardize the allocation of transmitter power between
100 watts to 500 watts, depending on the physical, geographical and
other characteristics of the institutions;

(e)             approve the re-use of frequencies (among other options)
to address the needs of multi-campus institutions and those with
Distance Learning mandates.

3.      The Federal Government should:

(a)             Expedite action on the pending policy reform processes.
In this connection, the National Mass Communication Policy, the
Community Radio Policy and the National Frequency Spectrum Management
Policy should be released, while the review bill on the National
Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act should be re-introduced in the
National Assembly.

(b)             Fast track the approval of all pending licenses
applications for campuses and other types of communities, in line with
global trends.

4.      The Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (CRC) should:

(a)             Develop a strong framework for self-regulation for
campus radio stations;

(b)             Work towards creating campus radio networking in areas
of training, content sharing, programme syndication and extending
collaboration with other tiers of broadcasting;

(c)             Partner closely with the National Broadcasting
Commission (NBC)  to realize the success of campus radios

*Issued in Lokoja, Nigeria, this 29^th day of November, 2007.*

Sunday, December 02, 2007

None of the papers have grasped the fundamental difference between the internet and print- Accessibility 2.0 Project

Richard Warren is technical manager with Userite Website Auditing, here he comments on the results of the Accessibility 2.0 project.

None of the eight newspapers reviewed have grasped the fundamental difference between the internet and the print media. All have tried to replicate the look of their printed version and just added a confusing set of navigation menus.

The result is a collection of cluttered pages that are not very user-friendly and make little, or no, concession to disabled users.

The Guardian and the Daily Mail make statements that they are attempting to meet accessibility guidelines, which at least shows that they have given the issue some thought.

A common problem found by your reviewer was the need to listen to an extensive list of links (navigation menus) and other page furniture before getting to the main content of the page. This is because Jaws (and other assistive software) reads the page in the order in which it is written.

The sighted user has his or her attention drawn to the main story in the middle of the page by the colour and size of the headline font and associated images.

The blind user has to listen whilst Jaws works it way through all the menus, advertisements and other clutter on the page.

To a lesser extent sighted people who cannot use a mouse accurately share this problem. If they want to use a link in the main story they have to use the keyboard tab key to jump through all the preceding navigation links before they get to the main story.

There is an easy solution to the above problem, which is to introduce a new link at the top of the page that takes the user directly to the main page content thus avoiding all the navigation links.

This is called a skip links option and is very easy to implement. The Mirror, Daily Mail and Guardian each provide this option with varying degrees of success.

The Guardian and Daily Mail even try to provide a selection of shortcut keys that, fortunately, your reviewer did not test.

This technology is incorrectly implemented on both newspapers and could cause users to save unwanted files on their computer rather than navigate to the required page.

Given the above it is not surprising that your reviewer frequently selected links that did not do what he expected. On the Independent he assumed that a link to 'Front Pages' would present him with today's headlines.

He had no way of knowing that this particular link was a submenu of another link so unfortunately he got a montage of the printed front pages as displayed on newstands.

As screen readers cannot read images, this was of little use. Your reviewer also missed some content because (sensibly) he did not waste time following links that merely said 'click here'. The sighted reader can guess what a link will do by its context, but a blind user is largely dependent upon the actual text used for the link.

A second, common problem found by your reviewer was the use of pop-up windows. These are annoying for sighted readers, but they can be a disaster for the blind who often have no way of knowing that the focus of Jaws has changed from the main page to a pop-up window.

As a result the reviewer tried to continue navigating as if he was on the original page and got totally lost.

One advantage that your blind reviewer had is that Jaws does read out all the navigation links on a page, including those presented as pull-down menus (for example the Independent).

Sighted people with limited mouse control are unable to select accurately from these pull-down menus as the cursor frequently losses its focus on the menu, which then closes before they have had time to select the desired option.

Videos and blogs are newer technologies so the accessibility functions might not be as well known. However this is still not an excuse for not trying.

Videos should have an alternative transcript of the associated audio available for deaf people to read and an alternative text description of the scene/s to enable blind people to put the audio into context.

A good role model for blogs is the BBC, probably because it is not cluttered up with adverts, but it is still worth using as a benchmark.

Only the Daily Mail provided a text-only version of its website for blind and visually impaired people, but the link to this was so far down the page that blind people may fail to find it (as did your reviewer).

However, the provision of text-only pages is not the only, or indeed the most desirable, solution for accessibility.

The newspapers tested could easily apply the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WAIG) to their existing content, make better use of their style sheets so that important content is coded near the top of the page and use the HTML codes for headings and lists in a proper manner.

This would avoid a number of the problems your reviewer encountered.