Friday, August 31, 2007

Small Online Gains Fail To Halt UK Regional News Shrinkage

By Robert Andrews

Despite continued digital inv*stm*nts, Britain's regional newspapers lost around GBP 225 million ($444 million) in 2006 - and online growth is nowhere near enough to make up the fall. Amongst findings in The Newspaper Society's Annual Regional Press Survey for 2006, published today ( release)...

-- The number of websites operated by the regional press ballooned by a third, from 828 to 1,102, as publishers looked to the web to shore up the bottom line.

-- But online ad revenue from all of those sites combined accounted for just GBP 71 million ($142.91), a mere 2.5 percent of total ad revenue. (This was an 18.3 percent growth from the previous year's GBP 60 million, ($120 million) when online ads comprised two percent of the mix). So the entire regional newspaper sector only brought in an additional GBP 11 million ($22.1 million) from online ads in the year.

-- Even magazines and niche supplements brought home more ad revenue than the web - GBP 74 million (GBP 149 million), or 2.6 percent of the advertising base (up from GBP 51 million ($102.6 million), or 1.7 percent of the mix). The number of these titles grew 21 percent from 595 to 755.

-- Illustrating why the sector is so vulnerable, print ads still make up 94.5 percent of regional advertising revenue (GBP 2.67 billion, $5.23 billion). The year before, print had comprised 95.9 percent of ad revenue, GBP 2.86 billion ($5.76 billion), so publishers have slimmed their reliance but not by enough, and that's a loss in print ad revenue of GBP 187 million ($376.4 million). This is so critical because advertising makes up 73.2 percent of turnover, circulation sales only 15.4 percent.

-- Staffing levels fell from 52,889 to 49,246. While the number of advertising and sales staff grew, editorial and production jobs declined.

Overall regional press turnover was GBP 3.87 billion ($7.79 billion), down from GBP 4.09 billion ($8.23 billion) the year before. Yesterday's H1 earnings from Johnston Press are typical - publishers are putting more and more resources into online while seeing continuing, if slower, print ad declines. This detail of this snapshot may be nuanced - in the first half of this year, both Johnston and the two other strong regional newspaper publishers Trinity Mirror and DMGT both grew online revenue by more than than the Newspaper Society's 14 survey respondents overall did last year.

Update: ABC circulation figures released today for the half-year to end of June saw almost all local titles post a fall, HoldTheFrontPage reports, with Manchester Evening News, England's third biggest selling regional, experiencing the largest drop-off of 24.2 percent year-on-year (via Guardian).
paid content org

How can African Journalists benefit from Web2.0 revolution?

Brenda Zulu

African Journalists need to embrace the new revolution of Web 2.0 tools if they are to catch up in this globalised World. Below find an interview on Web 2.0 with Matongo Maumbi a journalist from Zambia whose blog

Maumbi recently attended an online training focusing on Web2.0 tools organized by PenPlusBytes, the International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Journalism. In 2006, PenPlusBytes launched an online course on ICT Journalism in Africa and it attracted about forty three participants from nine countries spread across Africa, Europe and Asia. You were one of these fortunate students.

Why did you want to engage in such a course? What were your needs?

Matongo: I engaged in the course because I have an interest in exploiting ICTs at personal level and also professionally. I have been working as a broadcast journalist since 2002 and I was lucky to have been exposed to the computer and internet right from the early days of my career. My ICT knowledge is driven by personal interest and enthusiasm. I needed some professional guidance on using ICTs in my career as well as how I would fully utilize them. I needed to know the pros and cons of using ICTs . The limits, the potential benefits the fun of using the internet and how to explore it better.

What did you learn? What did you prefer (e.g.,. learning about new tools, engaging with other journalists, sharing your ideas and knowledge with others, working together on a common article, networking and interacting…)?

Matongo: I leant quite a number of things. I initially only took blogging as an adventure. Writing whatever came to my mind without any real set objective or target. I guess this was because I did it just out of interest and curiosity. I learnt how to conduct better online research for background information. How to source documents, how to set good parameters for searching. My knowledge on Web 2.0 was improved. Blogging is a good place to express oneself freely without the censorship of your editor or superiors on your work.

How does, what your learnt, influence your current journalism practice? How did it modify your way of working? How did it nurture your work (if so)? How do you apply what you learnt?

Matongo: I preferred learning new tools and also interacting with other journalists from across the continent and globe. As curiosity satisfaction was among my needs, I was really looking forward to learning new tools on ICTs. My mind was more set on learning new tools from what I already taught myself. I guess from the many things I learnt, I now spend less time on the internet. I spend less time because I know better how to conduct my online research with in the shortest possible time but with maximum information. As I am now working better with internet, it has encouraged me to continue getting a local touch to what I read on the internet. During the course I found my self working on fewer but better researched programmes that are of great relevance to our catchments community.

You created your own blog. How do you use this blog? What is the main purpose (PR, information sharing, interacting….?). Did you reach your goal? What are the strength and the weakness of such an exercise?

Matongo: Initially had a website aimed at doing radical campaigns online on things that affect Zambia. Time and resources could not allow me to continue and my site died out. Then I though of creating blog with a similar aim. I basically transferred what my site to the blog. I use the blog to make and achieve my thoughts online. As my blog is more of expressing my self, I have not yet set a good objective. In a small way I have reached my goal of transferring my thoughts online. The greatest strength is that you are your own editor and can write anything you fell is morally right at your own pace and space. You get unlimited freedom besides that fact that you have sensitive stories. Weakness comes in as most of the time I only write about my thoughts without backup professional thoughts. This creates a sense of non credibility from readers. Updates are seldom coming on the blog as I use company equipment and internet to do the updates.

What are the main challenges for African journalists to use Web2.0 tools? Do you think that most journalists have already a "mindset" for Web2 tools? What would the African Media community gain by using Web2.0?

Matongo: The main challenges of African journalists using web 2.0 tools is that we do not have our own working space. We have to rely on computers and internet from our offices. How on earth could one fully use web 2.0 tools when one does not have their own resources? The mindset for most journalists is there but a mindset with out resources is meaningless. Internet connection and access is very expensive for most journalists and even when it is affordable it is very slow. There is plenty to gain such as information sharing, unlimited power to express oneself (group) without the trouble of going through the censoring editors and managers.

Do you think that web2.0 applications - if well used by African journalists - can make the Internet more "relevant"? How so?

Matongo: I think Web 2.0 tools if properly used can make it more relevant. There is a lot of information that African Journalists have but because they have to go through editors, such info is suppressed. Mostly it is as a result of editors, managers not appreciating the role of ICTS tools.

Have you advertised your blog. If yes to whom and how?

Matongo: I think my blog is an isolated one. I have not advertised it. The only people that know about are my friends. I never thought of advertising it mainly because I think I do not update it regularly.

Are you making money from your blog?

I am not in any way making money from my blog . I still do not fully know how I can tap into that potential. I do not really see how I can make money. I guess this is something I have to learn next. I know I have what it takes; I just do not have the right guidance.

Have you taught other about blogging?

Matongo: I have not taught any of my close friends' blogging and taking full advantage of the internet besides e-mail messaging. Training for African Journalists in necessary on new web tools because these are new things which are not taught in Journalism. It is also important to note that a blog helps to store content online for African Journalists which has been for a long time been stored in paper form. The content put on a blog is shared and people learn from that kind of content.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

OpenFM: Open source FM radio station

Adapted Consulting from Toronto has recently released an open source FM radio station for community radio in rural areas.

Some very cool features:
- Transmitter costs under $1200, which is one of cheapest transmitters available so far
- Dust, heat, humidity resistant
- Runs from 12V batteries charged by solar power
- Receives stereo input from a computer, which can be a Via ITX box or maybe even a Soekris
- Computer can run mixing and editing software such as Campcaster or Audacity
- Software is also provided for account and bill maintenance at the community radio station, fetching of rss feeds from the Internet, and publication of news feeds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Broadband Content Bits EU: YouTube, Telegraph, Canal+ ADSL, Aardman, BBC iPlayer

- YouTube: The video sharing site's policing policy has brought more controversy in Europe. Germany's Central Council of Jews is reportedly considering suing Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) for allowing videos that allegedly incite neo-Nazi racial hatred, Reuters says. A German TV investigation today centers on clips of a 1940 anti-semitic movie and a far-right rock band and hears from a parliamentarian who says the site "aides and abets incitement of the people". Last month, BBC's Panorama documentary series criticized YouTube's moderation policy for allowing mobile video clips of youngsters engaged in violent acts in the U.K.

- The Daily Telegraph's website is expanding its online video offering, Telegraph TV, in a move that will see it switch to Brightcove's media player before the end of the year. The newspaper already uses a Flash application to power its news videos, produced by ITV after an alliance the pair forged last year that also sees Telegraph reporters appear in more ITN output. Now it is set to recast its video channel with arts, fashion, travel and rolling news content. Release.

- Canal+: Vivendi's (EPA: VIV) French TV subsidiary has signed deals with three broadband providers to supply programs on their ADSL services. The network signed with Neuf Cegetal (another Vivendi unit, EPA: NEUF), Iliad's fr*ee ISP and France Telecom's (EPA: FTE) Orange to offer programming from TPS Star, Sport+, Cinestar, Cineculte, Cinetoile, Piwi and Teletoon, according to Les Echos (via Thomson).

- Aardman: Bristol, U.K.-based Aardman Animations, the company behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, has added a new video website to where visitors can see clips from previous and forthcoming shorts and full-length features. The video is powered by a player from Roo. Guardian and Media Week say the feature will include pre-roll and banner advertising, though at present only banner ads seem to be visible.

- BBC: Canonical, maker of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, has joined criticism of the BBC's iPlayer catch-up TV application, which, for now, thanks to its Kontiki DRM solution, works only on Windows XP. Canonical's Chris Kenyon, via Personal Computer World : "To link the ability to download content from the BBC, a publicly funded body, to the use of one operating system is anti-competitive and at odds with the BBC charter. Locking access to BBC iPlayer content to phones and internet tablets running Windows is short sighted and bad for fee-payers. Platform neutral means that we need a solution that supports Linux and Apple's OSX." It bears noting the BBC has repeatedly promised iPlayer will eventually work on other platforms.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Full-time PhD Studentship:Citizen Media / User-Generated Content

Full-time PhD Studentship: Sky News-City University Studentship

Department of Journalism & Publishing, School of Arts

Further Details

Click here for Employer Profile

Friday, August 24, 2007

Toronto Star looks to web for $$$

As Canada's largest daily newspaper faces revenue challenges amid ongoing slippage in advertising, the newspaper's website is enjoying increased traffic and revenues as the company invests heavily in online media, The Canadian Press reports.

"Digital revenue for our newspaper and digital segment grew by about 50 per cent year over year, albeit on a modest base," company head Rob Prichard said.

Although digital revenues accounted for just 4.3 per cent of the total in the quarter, that was still significantly ahead of the 2.8 per cent in 2006.

"This is an important achievement for securing our future," Prichard said.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Online 'hooligans' casting a dark cloud over the blogosphere

LONDON: Many bloggers draw their identity and inspiration from that which they are not: The Mainstream Media, or "MSM," in blogging shorthand.

But the unbridled growth and limitless libertarianism that once defined the blogosphere have eased of late, and blogs are looking a little bit more like the MSM.

Technorati, a search engine for blogs, says there are more than 70 million blogs globally. But it will take nearly a year for the total to double, according to Technorati; two years ago, blogs were doubling every six months or so.

Universal McCann, an agency that buys advertising space and time, said in a report last month that the percentage of Internet users who read blogs had actually fallen recently in the United States, Germany and Italy, even as it was rising in China and South Korea.

Blogs are still generating news scoops, particularly in the United States. And marketers are increasingly trying to figure out how to include blogs in their campaigns, both as a way to "seed" awareness of new products and as a platform for ads.

But blogs are also attracting attention because of the spread of "cyberbullying" and other activity deemed to be antisocial.

In some cases bloggers are taking action to curb unwelcome comments or participants; in at least one country, South Korea, the government has moved to rein in some bloggers, an action that some critics see as a restriction on free speech.

A new law went into effect in South Korea in late July that requires bloggers and other participants in online forums hosted by large Web portals to enter their resident registration number, which is similar to the Social Security number in the United States.

The law was imposed after several Korean celebrities who had been the subject of venomous anonymous commentary in blogging forums committed suicide. Some free-speech advocates complain, however, that the law could also curb the kind of political expression that thrives on anonymity.

"It's an abhorrent, undemocratic idea," said Jeff Jarvis, a blogger and journalism professor at City University of New York.

"Anonymity is an important protection for free speech, particularly in countries that try to limit it."

In the United States, too, there has been concern about cyberbullying, after a blogger on technology issues, Kathy Sierra, was subjected to a series of menacing comments on her blog. Another Web commentator, Tim O'Reilly, proposed a code of conduct for blogging, including a ban on anonymous or defamatory comments.

So far, the idea seems to have gained little traction, and other bloggers say it would be unworkable in practice.

"It's a useful thought experiment but a laughable idea," said Tim Bray, director of Web technologies at Sun Microsystems in Vancouver, who has a blog of his own.

"There are limits on free speech in any society, and something posted on a Web site should abide by roughly the same rules as something printed in a newspaper," Bray said. "But it's better to fight these things using the courts and existing laws."

Elsewhere some bloggers, or operators of blogging sites, are taking action to curb what they see as abusive behavior, sometimes from politically motivated individuals or groups who try to hijack a blog for their own ends.

Ole Wejse Svarrer, editor of, a Web site affiliated with a free newspaper in Denmark called Nyhedsavisen, decided last week that he would no longer accept anonymous comments on the site's open blogging forum.

The move came in response to persistent breaches of what he considered good blogging decorum, and followed an action in May to suspend about 35 people who he said had stepped over the line.

Some leftist commentators, for example, were referring to members of the Danish People's Party, a far-right group, as Nazis, and were attacking individual members of the party as illiterate.

"Just like with football hooligans, it's a small number who ruin it for everyone," he said.

The problems arose in part because, unlike some newspaper Web sites, does not monitor comments before they are published in the discussion forums. Doing so would spoil the spontaneity that attracts many people to blogging, Svarrer said.

Other blogs that abide by the same policy, particularly one-person operations, are finding it difficult to keep up with the volume of comments they receive, some of which they feel they need to delete quickly if they are wildly off-topic, potentially libelous or simply spam.

At the height of the presidential election season in France this year, Loïc Le Meur, a popular blogger, was receiving 300 to 400 comments a day from opponents of Nicolas Sarkozy, whose eventually victorious campaign Le Meur supported.

Many of these comments were spreading false rumors about Sarkozy and his wife, Le Meur said, potentially causing him difficulties in a country where even politicians' private lives are protected by law.

So Le Meur turned to an outside firm based in Mauritius, called Modero, which now scans every comment that is posted on his blog, 24 hours a day, filtering out potentially defamatory material, personal attacks or other objectionable content.

"I had to do this to keep it going," he said, acknowledging that the move meant that his blog had "crossed a line from a personal company to being an edited service."

International Herald Tribune

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Newspaper Roundup: Lee, McClatchy And Gannett July Total Revs Decline; Online Continues To Rise

Newspaper Roundup: Lee, McClatchy And Gannett July Total Revs Decline; Online Continues To Rise

By David Kaplan 

The newspaper industry dynamic of falling total and ad revenues, amid increases obtained by their online operations, can be found in the today's respective reporting of July results for Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE), the McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) and Gannett (NYSE: GCI). The revenue balances between print and web categories for the three did vary, however:

-- Lee Enterprises: reported its revenue results for July and while advertising overall continued its downward slide, online ad revenue grew 62.5 percent in July and 57.2 percent year to date. Despite those gains, online ad revenue was not enough to offset a total decline in ad spending brought in by the newspaper chain. Still, those losses were fairly low. By comparison, July 2006 ad revenue came in at $72.9 million versus $74.4 million the year before, a decrease of 2.1 percent. Year to date, overall ad revenue fell a slight 1.1 percent to $724 million compared to $732 million for the same period in 2006.

-- Lee's combined print and online retail advertising was up a moderate 0.6 percent in July ($36.2 million from $36 million, year-over-year) and slipped 0.4 percent year to date to $382 million from $384 million for the same period a year ago. Combined print and online classified revenue fell 4.4 percent (to $31 million from $32 million) and 1.1 percent year to date ($281 million from $284 million), with employment up 3.6 percent for the month and up 5.8 percent year to date. Combined print and online national advertising revenue was down 7.2 percent (to $4.2 million from $4.6 million) and down 6.3 percent year to date ($47 million from $50 million). Release

-- McClatchy: Advertising revenues in July 2007 decreased 9.4 percent and total revenues were down 8.6 percent in July. Reflecting the industry's trend on the opposite flow of print and internet spending, online-only ad revenues were up 8.4 percent to $14.4 million from $13.3 million. Release

-- Gannett: Operating revenues in July fell 4.3 percent to $626 million from $654 million. Total ad revenues were down 6.1 percent to $408 million from $434 million, year-over-year. While Gannett did not provide dollar figures for its online revenues, it claimed that segment gained 37.3 percent in July over the same period the year before. Release

Monday, August 20, 2007

Google News to allow Comments

Perspectives about the news from people in the news

We wanted to give you a heads-up on a new, experimental feature we'll be trying out on the Google News home page. Starting this week, we'll be displaying reader comments on stories in Google News, but with a bit of a twist...

We'll be trying out a mechanism for publishing comments from a special subset of readers: those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question. Our long-term vision is that any participant will be able to send in their comments, and we'll show them next to the articles about the story. Comments will be published in full, without any edits, but marked as "comments" so readers know it's the individual's perspective, rather than part of a journalist's report.

As always, Google News will direct readers to the professionally-written articles and news sources our algorithms have determined are relevant for a topic. From bloggers to mainstream journalists, the journalists who help create the news we read every day occupy a critical place in the information age. But we're hoping that by adding this feature, we can help enhance the news experience for readers, testing the hypothesis that -- whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates-- a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story.

We're beginning this only in the US and then, based on how things go, we'll work to expand it to other languages and editions. We're excited about the possibilities of this new feature and we hope you are too, so if you've been covered in a news article please send us your comments and we'll work with you to post it on Google News.

Google News Comments Allow Sources to Weigh In

Google is making some journalists edgy with a new feature that allows story 'participants' to add comments that will display below Google News story links.

The Google comments differ from those on a typical blog in that only "those people or organizations who were actual participants in the story in question" will be able to add a message, according to Google's announcement from last night. According to a Computerworld news story, Google will vet a commenter to make sure he is who he says he is, and will post the comments as-is without any editing.

Here's an example of a comment:

To read the text, you have to click the comment link, which brings up a whole new page. I'd much rather see the comments expand on the same news listing page, or come up in a pop-up. It's a little annoying to have to use the back button to get back to the story listings.

But that's not what has at least some reporters leery about this new experiment. There are plenty of times when a source thinks we left out useful information, or gave the other side too much credit, or should have used an entire quote. It's our job to boil down a story to its important details and make it flow well (or fit in the allotted space), but that often leaves people in the story less than happy.

In fact, it's common to see a genuinely fair and balanced story on a hot topic tick off both sides in the story, since neither is presented as entirely winning the argument. And I think some journalists may worry that 'participants' with an agenda may cast doubt on a good piece with a comment that might not be entirely accurate, but sounds good and convincing.

Of course, there are also plenty of times when we all-too-human reporters screw up a name or do in fact miss a piece of information, and nobody likes to have their mistakes trumpeted front-and-center.

But realistically, I think this is a good thing. A real online conversation can only add to a story I write, and I think we can trust most readers to discern when a source is trying to sell instead of inform. And I think most sources are similarly understanding. The scientist who left the above-pictured comment, for example, wrote "One thing that is missing is a feeling of all the hard work of many people who helped make this discovery happen, but that is probably not possible in a short news segment."

And more importantly, this kind of conversation is inescapable. In a sense, Google is behind the curve here compared with all the back-and-forth in any thriving blog community. The days of essentially one-way communication are over.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The L.A. Times tells its readers: 'Shut up'

Commentary: A Times editorial attacks the concept of reader comments on news stories, declaring Google a greater threat "than Osama bin Laden."

The Los Angeles Times this morning insulted its readers in a stunning editorial that compared Google with Osama bin Laden and showed why Times editors simply do not understand the medium that is growing to dominate the news publishing industry. A point by point rebuttal follows:
Many publishers consider the Internet, and Google in particular, a greater threat to their livelihoods than Osama bin Laden.

Who are these publishers, exactly? The Times' David Hiller? Ignore the straw man here and the reader is still left with The Times' belief that a search engine company which has helped millions of people around the world more effectively find the information they need, and that has paid publishers billions of dollars to create original content (full disclosure: including OJR and me, personally) is a greater threat to journalism and Western capitalism than a murderer who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.


After The Times lit its credibility on fire with that statement, one shouldn't need to dissect the rest of its ridiculous editorial.

But I will. ;-)

Among those who have taken particular offense at Google are some current and aspiring newspaper publishers, including Sam Zell (who's in the process of buying Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times), who once famously asked, "If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?"

Well, does Zell think Google is worse than bin Laden? I do not see that claim in what he said. Furthermore, I, and several other news industry executives, took apart Zell's myopia here in OJR when he made that ill-informed comment last spring.

Up to now, Google's news site hasn't been a moneymaker for the company, at least not directly. There are no ads on Google News, just links to stories on websites run by newspapers, magazines and other news outlets. Those links prompt people to spend more time on the news media's sites, potentially increasing their ad sales.

But Google now is doing yet another thing that's bound to get under journalists' skin."

Umm, perhaps I shouldn't speak for others here, but, as a journalist and a publisher, I like readers to spend more time on my sites, "potentially increasing [my] ad sales." That doesn't get under my skin at all.

This month, it announced plans to let people and organizations comment on the stories written about them. For example, if The Times ran another exposé on conflicts of interest within the Food and Drug Administration's drug-approval process, Google News would provide a forum for the FDA and any researchers or drug manufacturers implicated in the story to respond, unedited.

Goodness, we wouldn't want the sources in our stories to have a chance to respond, would we? /sarcasm

The feature implies that the stories aggregated by Google News are incomplete -- possibly because of limited space, but also possibly because of bias, neglect or ignorance. News organizations have their flaws, and the added comments on Google may demonstrate that.

Finally, a point of agreement. Reader comments on online news stories give readers the opportunity to provide a needed check on reporting flaws. No journalist should ever presume that a single news article ever is complete.

But Google's effort may have a happier side effect: It may illustrate why journalism is more than just aggregating information -- and why Google News isn't really its competition after all.

The essence of good journalism is asking the right questions. Google, however, won't ask anything of those who submit comments. According to the company's announcement, its only interest is that the submissions are authentic, not that they're relevant or even truthful. As a result, the comments section is likely to be larded with spin, hype and obfuscation. A seemingly heartfelt comment may carry the CEO's name, but the words will probably have been typed by corporate flacks.

Another point of agreement: "The essence of good journalism is asking the right questions." No, Google won't ask those questions, but its technology will enable readers to ask those questions, of reporters and of each other. And allows reporters to come back and ask follow-up questions of the readers who questioned the reporter in the first place.

This is is point that journalists who have spent their lives publishing in a one-way medium too often fail to grasp: That online reader comments are not a one-way medium, in the opposite direction. They are a two-way conversation, in which reporters can, and ought to, participate, as well.

Nor should The Times condemn Google for sins that many traditional journalists have committed. "Stenography" journalism runs rampant at newspapers which have cut reporting staffs to the bone. Readers of Dan Froomkin's outstanding White House Watch will be familiar with many examples of Washington-beat scribes dutifully "reporting" U.S. administration spin, with no effort to provide context or determine truth.

Furthermore, is the reader of this editorial to assume that The Times never runs quotes from CEOs in its paper that were in fact written by corporate spokespersons? If The Times' editorial writers truly believe that, I suggest they take a trip over to The Times' newsroom sometime.

There will be some valuable responses too, plugging holes in stories or correcting mistaken impressions.

Third point of agreement here. So why, then, is The Times attacking this technology which would plug holes in stories, correct mistaken impressions, enable readers to ask questions of reporters and provide a check on reporting flaws?

Google, however, won't help readers separate the factual wheat from the public-relations chaff -- a reminder that Google may strive to be the world's index, but it's not journalism.

If The Times wants to criticize Google's implementation of reader comments, that's fair game. Many good publishers have shut off reader comments because they didn't want the hassle of handling them. But plenty of system administrators have developed systems to allow readers and/or editors to filter comments, so that readers can separate the wheat from the chaff. By not acknowledging any of those, however, The Times allows its editorial to stand as a condemnation of the concept of enabling online comments to news stories.

So let The Times readers be warned: The Times doesn't get it. It hasn't enabled comments on its own news stories ( previously criticized in OJR), nor does it like the idea of others linking to and commenting on its stories.

As I said at the opening of OJR's annual unconference last spring, journalism should noy be defined by its process. Journalism ought to be defined by its end result: fresh, accurate information that helps its readers see a truth that they did not before.

Smart news organizations need to be blowing up their old ways of producing journalism -- not just publishing it, but reporting it as well -- in order to better provide more accurate and insightful journalism to beat the increased competition from millions of new content publishers online. To do that, publishers need to hear fresh perspectives, from their employees... and from the public.

But what does The Times tell them with this editorial?

"Shut up."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Encourage entrepreneurship in your newsroom; don't kill it

Commentary: OJR's editor offers a five-step plan for competing with blogs and websites. Step one: The answer is, always, 'yes!'
You can't pay the bills with your reputation. Yet, concerns about newsrooms staffers doing "something" that might hurt the paper's, or the station's, reputation are killing the news industry's ability to innovate at a critical moment in its history.

Richard R. Klick of the Daily Herald in Arlington, Ill. reminded me of this issue when he posted this query to the Online News Association 's e-mail list earlier this month:

"Our organization is looking into setting up guidelines for staff members who also have non-business-related blogs outside the newsroom. There is a lot of discussion in our organization whether we need such guides for our staffers, who represent and, by association, are linked to the newspaper whether they are on or off duty."

I've heard the same question from several other newsroom editors. It's a fair question, and one that would deserve greater weight if newsrooms were not losing so many readers to blogs, discussion forums and other online information destinations.

Few newsroom managers today have worked in a newspaper war. (I consider myself fortunate to have spent four years competing in Denver's, in the late 1990s.) But that's what we all face today, except that the competition isn't another daily. It's everyone else on the Web.

As I wrote in response to the ONA list, "newspapers need to be creating a culture of blogging and online entrepreneurship in their newsrooms, not choking it to death." Too many guidelines about outside Web projects send a clear message to staffers: "Don't go there."

Here is my opposite approach: A five-step plan for dealing with reporters and editors in your newsroom who want to blog, or try anything else online outside their traditional job description:

Step One: The answer is 'yes'

Analysis paralysis has been killing newsrooms' response to new online competition for the past decade.
  • A reporter's outside discussion board might publish something that would embarrass the paper.
  • A newsroom video blog might not attract and readers or advertisers.
  • A newsroom blogger might stray from the paper's core mission, hurting morale in the newsroom

    All very valid "mights." But here is what is certain: A newsroom that doesn't do something fresh which connects its employees with more readers and advertisers, right now, is going to find itself on the auction block very soon.

    Jack Lail, Managing Editor/Multimedia at Scripps' Knoxville News-Sentinel (one of the few chains that hasn't been bought, folded or targeted in the Internet era), offers a better approach: "We had a food writer who said, 'I'd like to do a regular cooking video.' We didn't say, we'd think about it or discuss the potential with advertising and marketing. Nope. We paired her with an online producer and we shoot two segments a month in the writer's kitchen. The videos go into a vblog, onto our local channel in the AP Video Network and into YouTube."

    As I wrote on the ONA list: "If the topic of the outside blog is of interest to more than a handful of offline acquaintances, why not have the reporter publish the blog 'in house?'"

    Step Two: If your tech can't support it, go outside

    But what happens if your writer wants to do something that your newsroom's online content management system cannot support?

    No sweat. Find one of the thousands of Web hosts out there, running any one of hundreds of content management or scripting systems, that can do what your writer wants. You should be able to find a secure shared hosting plan for under $50. That's a miscellaneous expense in most newsrooms. And don't worry about using a free service such as Blogger or Plenty of great sites have started on those services.

    Step Three: Forget the branding, but not the ads

    Every publisher or station manager I've met obsessed over brand. And that's kept many of their managers from approving individual projects that would live on outside servers without the employer's name and logo.

    But let's not forget that publishers and station managers are not in the business of building brands. That's simply a means to the more important end of attracting readers and viewers... and connecting them with advertisers. Let staffers do what they want on the Web, wherever they want to do it. And don't worry about whether they carry the newsroom's brand (though staffers should ID themselves in the "About Me" section of their blog or website).

    If staffers are going to run advertising on outside Web projects, though, insist that they serve their employer's ads. Every newsroom ad server ought to generate a javascript snippet that staffers can drop into their webpages, a la Google AdSense, to display their employers' ads. Ideally, the ad server should give sales reps the ability to target ads to specific staffers' projects, as well. This will get your ad sales staff a fresh opportunity to sell into highly targetted blogs and niche web projects.

    If your organization's ad staff can't support this, then, at the very least, create a Google AdSense or Yahoo! Publisher Network account for outside projects until your ad sales and tech folks get up to speed.

    Step Four: Give 'em a taste of the action

    Here's where you encourage staffers to try something new: Reward 'em if they deliver. And not just with a "good going!" in their job reviews. Track ad impressions by project (using your internal ad tracking or Google/Yahoo solution, above), and pay staffers a cut of the revenue that their online projects generate. (At least 50 percent, in my opinion.)

    Publish those numbers in the newsroom, too, so others can see what their colleagues are making by launching and maintaining new products online.

    Step Five: Help your innovators communicate

    Even staffers publishing solo projects shouldn't have to work alone. When I spoke at the Orlando Sentinel last month, I urged managers there to create an e-mail list for their staff bloggers, so that they could share successes, monitor failures and brainstorm together even as they worked on separate blogs.

    Don't think for a moment that all those solo bloggers and Web publishers you compete with each day are working alone in their basements or rec rooms. The best bloggers and publishers keep in touch through sites such as Webmaster World, A List Apart and TechCrunch. A newspaper's, or a station's, strength is its experienced staff. Why shouldn't your emerging newsroom entrepreneurs use that advantage? Encourage them to monitor the sites I've listed (as well as, ahem, OJR) but set up ways to allow them to communicate easily with one another, as well.

    This solution not only will speed development, but it can help minimize, or at least swiftly correct, the errors and embarrassments that managers feared in the first place. Having newsroom staffers read and react to each others' projects put extra trained eyeballs on them, eyeballs that can catch typos, bugs and bad netiquette before they blow up in the paper's face.

    Robust internal criticism, coupled with widely available readership stats and income data, will make clear which projects have a long-term future, either under or apart from the newsroom's brand, and which ones do not. If a project fails to catch on, allow the staffer the option to continue it on their own time and own dime. But newsrooms need to change their cultures from one where writers are afraid of blogging and Web publishing to one where writers are more afraid not to try them.

  • Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Press release - Web2forDev 2007 conference




    IBM, Oxfam and UNESCO listed among 40 presenters and speakers

    Southern grass-root organisations and northern development actors represented at first Web2forDev Conference 2007


    The first conference on the use of Web 2.0 for rural development and natural resource management promises to be an exciting event: no less than 40 speakers have been selected from organisations with various backgrounds from both North and South. Among the listed speakers are representatives from well-known organisations like IBM, Oxfam and UNESCO, but also Southern grass-root organisations who lead the way when it comes to the use of modern technology for development.

    The Web2forDev Conference which will take place from 25-27 September in Rome, will address three topics, the use and impact of: shared virtual spaces for remote collaboration and knowledge sharing, the use of appropriate technologies for online publishing, and online information retrieval and access. Following on a request for proposals, 130 proposals on Web 2.0 topics were sent in out of which the selection has been made.

    Jon Corbett, chairperson of the selection panel for the Web2forDev Conference notes that 'Although the call for proposals is closed more than two months ago, people are still sending us proposals for presentations. Apparently there is a high level of interest in using Web 2.0 technologies, not only in the North, but also in the South. Almost all proposals have a strong Southern focus, with a number of notable exceptions from Indigenous groups from Australia and Canada'.

    When asking him about the most exciting topics to look forward to, he finds it hard to pick up only a single example. 'There is such a diverse spectrum of interesting talks being presented from throughout the world that it is hard to identify just one or two. We have selected quite a number of very exciting presentations. They range from talking about the innovative use of blogs and social video sites for language revitalization by Indigenous communities in Canada through to the deployment of Agricultural Marketing Information Systems being developed to assist farmers in improving and selling their crops in Ghana.'

    According to Jon Corbett not only are the topics exciting, but also the way the conference programme is built. Jon Corbett: 'This is a truly interactive conference. Instead of offering presentation after presentation, we will create open spaces and incubator sessions at the Conference, these will allow speakers and participants to build their own agenda and meet to discuss relevant topics and issues. This innovative conference approach encapsulates the overall aim of the conference - to provide a forum to allow experts, users, interested people and development practitioners from both Southern and Northern countries to interact in an informal, though structured, and lively way on issues and technologies which suit their own needs, interests and experiences.'


    Note for the press

    The Web2ForDev Conference takes place in Rome from 25-27 September. On Monday 24 September pre-conference seminars will take place introducing web 2.0 tools. During the Conference daily multimedia digests will be produced and put online to follow the outcomes of everyday presentations and discussions. For more information on the Web2forDev Conference, please visit  


    For questions regarding the Conference, please contact:

    Sarah Bel

    Communication Officer - CTA  +31 317 467 143






    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Chip On Your Shoulder: Sharing the writing life with Chip Scanlan.

    Hypertext: What Makes a Good Link

    I've been on the road a lot this summer teaching newsrooms about online writing. It's challenging, exciting and fun; I get paid to learn, just the way I did as a reporter.

    But I've encountered a problem that makes such training especially challenging: the lack of a common online vocabulary.

    The problem predates the Internet.

    Take "nut graf," the device that tells the reader what the writer is up to; it delivers a promise of the story's content and message.

    It's called the nut graf because, like a nut, it contains the "kernel," or essential theme, of the story.  "Graf" is shorthand for "paragraph." At The Philadelphia Inquirer, reporters and editors called it the "You may have wondered why we invited you to this party" section.

    I've noticed similar variations on online terms.


    To get your question answered on this page, send it to Chip. Please include your full name in your message. If you prefer that your surname not be published, please indicate that.

    Sign up to receive Chip on Your Shoulder by e-mail newsletter.

    What's needed for online journalism is something to blow away the fog of confusion. Something like a glossary, a list of definitions, grouped alphabetically.

    So today, "Chip on Your Shoulder" launches  a new feature: "The ABCs of Online Journalism."

    Like " Ask Chip," it's designed to encourage interaction with readers. I'm counting on your comments, suggestions, experience and expertise to widen and deepen the knowledge pool on this topic.

    Let's start with "link." It may seem a random choice, but it's one that merited consideration among a group of Columbus Dispatch reporters and editors where I recently led sessions on online writing.

    The group was producing updates on a running story, when I interrupted with a new assignment: Search out links relevant to the story.

    Afterward, we considered what makes for a good link. Their answers appear below. But first, a history lesson that's vital to understanding the term.

    Gotta Love the Link

    Hypertext is the heart of online writing.

    The key to hypertext is the link that sends readers traveling through cyberspace with the click of a mouse to another page of text, to a video or audio clip, to a Flash animation that allows you to plot the course of a hurricane or to calculate your tax bill, or to a computer on another continent or across the room.

    In an effusive 2002 column, I described the value and excitement of linking:

    Links allow you to add content without interfering with the flow of your story. For instance, in "My Cancer Time Bomb," an essay I wrote for last year about the hazards of childhood smoking, I was able to link directly to an abstract of the study that prompted the piece. Readers didn't have to rely solely on my interpretation. In my " Turning 50" piece, I referred to a cool life expectancy calculator online so that readers, with a single click, could figure their own lifespan.

    But the link can also be a danger sign. Parents were horrified when their children clicked a link they thought would take them to the Web site of the White House. Instead they wound up staring at a porn site.

    Links can also ensnare you in a web of urban legends, a problem so widespread, several Web sites devote themselves entirely to debunking these falsehoods.

    Link 101

    In the online world, the term "link" is married to the prefix "hyper," which is also wedded to the suffix "text." Hyperlink. Hypertext.

    Some scholars believe the concept of linking subjects was first used in ancient literature such as the Talmud, which includes commentary, annotations and references to passages in other sacred texts.  But its contemporary roots take us back to the post-World War II era and a scientist named Vannevar Bush. 

    Bush was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's top science advisers; he proposed a system to deal with the deluge of information available. They were drowning in data even then!

    Bush described it in a 1945 landmark article in Atlantic Monthly, titled " As We May Think." What was needed, the magazine's editors said, was a "new relationship between the thinking man and the sum of our knowledge."

    To encourage such a relationship, Bush came up with the "memex." Hypothetical though it may have been, the device was eerily prescient of today's technology. Inside the memex, an "individual stores all his books, records and communications ... [the memex] is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged, intimate supplement to his memory."

    Twenty years later, in 1965, a computer visionary named Ted Nelson gave the name "hypertext" to Bush's concept. Hypertext is the feature that made the World Wide Web possible by allowing users to move from place to place to place, whether inside the text itself or to another site on the Internet.  ("Hyper" is a Greek word meaning "beyond.")

    As We May Link

    That's the history.  Here's the actual definition:

    Link: Short for "hyperlink."

    Anything in a hypertext or hypermedia document that connects one document or section to another document, section or page on the Internet, usually by pointing and clicking a mouse over a highlighted word.

    A navigation element that takes a computer user to a different location on the Internet.

    A snippet of Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), the code that creates the text and graphic layouts known as Web pages, which can be viewed over the Internet with Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and other Web browsers.

    To create a hyperlink.
    To connect via a hyperlink.
    To move via a hyperlink.

    To create a link, you need three things:
    1. The name of the file you want to link to (or its Web address, known as a Uniform Resource Locator or URL, such as

    2. The text that will serve as the "hot spot," that is, the text that will be highlighted in the browser (usually with underlined text of a different color), which readers can use to follow the links.

    3. A way to merge both. Early in the history of the World Wide Web, linking required familiarity with HTML code. Today, most word processors include a "click, paste and save" feature that automatically embeds links in a document.


    Merged, they become a hyperlink:  Poynter

    Trustworthy in a Brave New World

    According to Columbus Dispatch staffers, a good hyperlink should:
    • Be trustworthy
    • Provide background and context
    • Deal with a related subject but in a new or different way
    • Be authoritative
      • Foundations
      • Government organizations
      • Individual or organization seen as leader in field
      • Your own stories
    • Be credible
    • Add understanding
    • Expand on the topic — stuff you couldn't fit in a news story
    • Offer tangible information
      •     Locations
      •     FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
      •     How something works
    • Be relevant
    • Work
    • Provide further detail
    • Broaden content
    • Describe content rather than point to it by linking from a noun, instead of phrases such as "Click here" or "Click this."
    Your Turn
    Please consider this a collaborative project.
    • Suggest items that belong in "The ABCs of Online Writing." Define, if you want, and provide examples.
    • Comment.
    • Correct.
    • Expand.
    (Thanks to Dispatch staffers Ted Decker, Rob Messinger, Randy Ludlow, Doug Haddix, John Futty. Molly Willow, Alayna DeMartini, Tricia Rongstad, Monique Curet, Sherri Williams and George Myers for getting the ball rolling.)
      Copyright © 1995-2007 The Poynter Institute

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Online comments on story go overboard, but discussion is valuable

    Online comments on story go overboard, but discussion is valuable

    It was 209 year ago and the mudslingers were two of our founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would later become best friends, but in 1798 they were not. Jefferson was supported by the Democratic-Republicans in opposition to Adams' Federalist supporters.

    As their relationship deteriorated, Jefferson began anonymously feeding trash about Adams to the editor of The Aurora, a Philadelphia newspaper. The newspaper's editor, a grandson of Benjamin Franklin, began using the material as fodder for wicked and often untruthful junk published under fictitious bylines. So did some 20 other newspapers. The president was called ``old, querulous, bald, crippled, toothless Adams'' and worse.

    We've experienced similar mudslinging the past two weeks on the U-B's Web site. It was sparked by the July 31 news report of the arrest of Raymond M. Clayton, 38, a Walla Walla police officer.

    The newspaper story was a fair report of information released that morning at a news conference. We had been alerted that the topic would be ``sensitive.'' Editor Rick Doyle later told me he could not recall a similar conference called by the chief of police, and for that reason he knew it would indeed be newsworthy.

    Two reporters - Terry McConn and Maria Gonzalez - attended. So did Internet Content Editor Carlos Virgen, who videotaped Chief Chuck Fulton's announcement.

    The newsroom did an excellent job pulling the story together, and Virgen quickly packaged the video onto our Web site. By the next morning reader comments following the story had moved from disbelief and support of the accused officer to mudslinging.

    We've allowed Web users to post comments after stories since mid-February. For the most part the posts have been civil - and often illuminating as they provided more facts and background. Readers who have taken advantage of this new form of public communication have - almos
    t without exception until recently - taken the high road.
    But comments under the Clayton story quickly headed south. Instead of focusing on the alleged crime (Clayton was arrested on suspicion of third-degree child molestation for an alleged encounter with an underage girl about five years ago), a handful of respondents posted generalized accusations aimed at the police department, at the alleged victim, at women in general and at the Union-Bulletin and its news staff.

    Some of the discourse, while robust, was thought-provoking. There were elements of a community forum, but way too much was off topic and mean-spirited.

    When thoughtful folks enter into a discourse, the truth often emerges. But in this instance truth was overwhelmed as a handful of writers careened off into a cesspit of innuendo and insult. Occasionally a rational writer would attempt to bring the community conversation back on track, often to be attacked. Folks, it was ugly.

    Until then we had a short disclaimer on our comments section noting that libelous and profane material would be taken off the site. But in this case it wasn't enough.

    We pulled the worst down, but by Aug. 2, there were some 90 different addressees engaged, prompting one respondent to declare: ``I can hardly believe the ugliness that is pouring out of people.'' Another said, ``First time I have visited this web site. I am thoroughly disgusted.''

    And there were comments from some respondents questioning why the U-B's story included Clayton's address.

    That question is easy to answer. For several decades it has been a policy at the Union-Bulletin to carefully and completely identify those arrested and accused of felonies and of driving while under the influence.

    Because there are folks in town with the same first and last names - quite a few, actually - we include addresses to pinpoint the identity of the people named in our emergency service reports and stories we choose to write about newsworthy arrests. It is a practice that was taught in journalism schools - at least back when I attended. And many, but not all, newspapers adhere to it.

    You might argue that in our report on Clayton's arrest there was no need for this level of identification. After all, the story included his picture, and there is only one Raymond Clayton on the force. That's true, but another policy we've tried to follow is consistency. Had we omitted his address, obtained from public records related to his arrest, we'd have been questioned for offering special treatment. So, we included his address to remain consistent with our policy.

    What's interesting about this debate is addresses of homeowners are not private information. You may request not to be listed in the phone book, but if you are a property owner - and Clayton is - your address and many details (including the number of bathrooms in your house) are published by the county government. Your address and these details are public information - very public.

    The volume of vitriolic comments following this story was a bigger concern for us. The story broke on Tuesday and by Thursday we agreed we needed a more detailed policy. By the end of the day we posted the policy at the end of this column. We also agreed we needed to expand the number of staff members monitoring the postings.

    Finally, we added a hyperlink - an active button under the words ``contact-us'' - that generates an e-mail to those here who can pull down comments that don't comply with our guidelines.

    We are in the process of refining our policy, and if you know of newspaper sites that have policies we should look at, please let us know.

    So why are we doing this at all? Why not just eliminate this community forum?

    Public debate is central to a free exchange of ideas. The comments on stories are part of the conversation. Hidden among all the jabbering are nuggets of truth and insight.

    The Internet is a young medium, just as newspapers were a young medium in the country at the time Jefferson and Adams (and their pen-wielding supporters) conducted their public discourse so coarsely. Over time, the public exchanges in newspapers have been elevated. Manners - along with a little policing by the newspapers - brought about the change.

    What we don't want to do is shut down this community conversation. The two-way exchange is what distinguish-es the Internet from other media, and if we want to stay in the communications arena we have to understand and use this dynamic new tool.

    What we do want to do is elevate the tone. With your help we will.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Ad Spending: Online to Top Print in Four Years

    How's this for real change? A new study ( )  by Veronis Suhler Stevenson (a "private equity firm that invests buyout and structured capital funds in the media) says online ad sales will pass print ad sales by 2011. The survey forecasts annual online advertising growth of more than 21 percent, reaching $62 billion in 2011, vs. print advertising's forecasted $60 billion.

    The study says TV ad revenues will remain number one, with $80 billion in 2011.

    "The path of online advertising and newspaper advertising is a continuation of what we've been observing for many years, but it is finally getting to the point where the lines will cross," said VSS's  James Rutherfurd . The amount of time spent reading online will overtake time spent reading newspapers for the first time this year, the report says.

    Another interesting detail: Overall media use was down 0.5 percent in 2006, to 3,530 hours per person. Meanwhile, workplace media usage jumped 3.2 percent to 260 hours per year for each worker. "Knowledge and information industries drive the U.S. economy, meaning that information is a critical tool," Rutherfurd said. "Companies are prepared to pay a lot of money to get that information."

    Hat tip to Seeking Alpha ( )  (Disclosure: I write ( , a blog owned by Seeking Alpha.)

    Poynter  online, E-Media Tidbits Posted by Alan Abbey

    Mobile reporters in Africa

    Thanks to tremendous progress achieved by the General Packet Radio System (GPRS), the wireless communication protocol, it is now possible for Africans to send articles and images (still and moving) about events taking place in their countries without using a computer and without having traditional internet connection. Under those circumstances, the bigger the number of people expressing their opinions through that technology, the stronger becomes democracy, and the more valuable is the contribution to good governance efforts in Africa.

    initiated by the Africa Interactive Media Foundation, the Voices of Africa project was launched in late May 2007 and is now in the preparatory phase. Reporters are now working on it in four countries. During the coming months, they will be testing and getting experience in uploading texts, photos and videos.  We will be publishing some of their works on this website. At this moment, Nana Kofi in Ghana, Evans Wafula in Kenya and Elles van Gelder in South Africa have overcome almost all technical issues. In the near future, we expect to receive contents Mozambique reporters.

    Besides, a number of students at the Technical University in Delft take part in this preparatory phase. They have a Nokia E61i mobile phone for their trip across 20 African countries, during which they will test the  usability of that phone for each of those countries.


    The development of Internet and mobile communication in Africa has impressively progressed , thereby putting Africans in a much better position to take part in discussions that have been taking place about their continent  for centuries without their knowledge and participation. This trend is very promising as communication and interaction among people are preconditions for reinforcing democracy and greatly contribute to good governance and the rule of law.

    Although the communication channels are making considerable progress, the number of African journalists, reporters, photographers, film makers and internet experts taking advantage of them is still relatively very low. Also, the number of citizen journalists - who are very active in Western countries through mobile communication and internet (See the example of the Netherlands where sites like and  attract big numbers of people who run their own weblogs) - is very low.


    The objective of the Voices of Africa Project is to help talented Africans build a career in media, using currently available technologies that are not yet financially affordable in Africa.

    The Africa Interactive Media Foundation initiates this project because it falls and fits in its initial mission.  The Foundation endeavours to find donors in order to have necessary funds for the implementation of this project. In practice, the Foundation collaborates both with Africa Interactive - one of the largest international online communities grouping people interested in Africa – and – a Dutch news website exclusively publishing pictures and short videos made by eyewitnesses using mobile phones. Skoeps is a young and innovative company founded in 2006, with shareholders such as Talpa and PCM.

    How is the project planned?

    The ultimate goal is to select, in each African country, a number of skilful (young) men and women (with the help of a local coordinator) and to equip these people with high-technology  mobile phones (with a small foldable keyboard) where a special piece of software is installed to permit direct uploads of photos, texts and videos to the Skoeps server, from where they are transferred to the Africa Interactive website for publication. Once online, those stories and images are meant to trigger reactions from users and community members. The project´s selection policy gives a bigger chance to skilful women in an effort not only to have diversified contents but above all to contribute to their emancipation efforts through media.

    The Africans who take part in this project are known as 'camjos', a short combination of 'camera' and 'journalist'. A camjo writes, takes photos and makes videos about daily life in Africa, on subjects that s/he finds newsworthy. Each camjo receives a training on the use of the phone and is coached during the first six months. With this initiative, Africans, whether in cities or in the countryside, will have the opportunity to have their voice heard all over the world.
    If the camjos perform well, they will generate incomes for themselves as they will be paid based on the number of visitors viewing or reading their contributions.

    The implementation of this project is only possible in African regions covered by the GPRS and the TU Delft students touring Africa are greatly helping identifying those regions.

    After this three-month experience-making phase, the project pilot phase will start in five African countries with a total of 20 camjos for a period of six months. The Foundation is trying to gather funds for this pilot phase. Then, after a successful pilot phase, a global implementation of the project will follow all over Africa with an expected total of 250 camjos (African Voices!).

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    SABC - Highway Africa Awards 2007

    Criteria for the Highway Africa Awards for Innovative use of New Media in Africa

    A unique recognition on the continent, the Highway Africa Awards for the Innovative Use of New Media in Africa, will be held at the conference for the 7th year running (Tuesday 11 September, Rhodes University, South Africa).

    The awards are given annually at the Highway Africa Conference to recognise and promote the creative, innovative and appropriate use of new media technology in Africa. Judges are looking for innovative applications of New Media in African journalism and the media.

    Awards are given in three categories:

    1) Individual/Student, 2) Non-profit and 3) Corporate.

    Individual and Non-profit category: Recognition will be given to communications which find innovative ways to overcome the limitations of the existing African infrastructure.

    Corporate category: Judges will be looking for creative adaptation of global technologies in an African media context.

    Other broad criteria: (which apply to both categories), is the use of new media to benefit press freedom in Africa and encourage social empowerment in African communities. Ultimately the award aims to highlight innovations that result in African media benefiting from new ideas and developments in communications technology.

    Technical criteria:

    • The functionality of websites/blogs/wikis is an absolute must. Functionality entails user-friendly content, effective layout and ease of navigation.
    • Interactive features such as comments, email, chat forums, polls, etc and links to other media – radio, print, TV will be considered favourably
    • Aesthetic appeal and an appreciation of the importance design/layout in an online environment is an added advantage.
    • Entrants should demonstrate how they use limited tools creatively
    • Sites must be up-to-date, must contain the most recent relevant information, and show evidence that they are regularly updated.
    • Use of mobile technology in an innovative way is also considered and encouraged  

    Entries for the 2007 innovative use of new media may be submitted online or via fax. Please read the criteria before completing this form. Entries must be submitted no later than August, 20 2007.

    You may also attach your motivation and fax your details to +27 46 603 7189. Please mark for attention: Highway Africa New Media Awards.




    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Highway Africa Conference 2007 Components

    Conference Programme

    Highway Africa Conference 2007 Components:


    Pre-Conference Training Workshops :

    •   Doing Digital Journalism - 2-12 September;
    •  MISA-Highway Africa Digital Journalism Workshop 5-12 September;
    • Community Radio Workshop 9-10 September;
    • Visual Design Theory Course - 3-7 September (8-12 September HA attendance)

    Digital Citizen Indaba (DCI): 9 & 10 September

    Associations Meetings: SANEF; SAEF; TAEF: 8 & 9 September

    Conference proper: plenary sessions; keynote addresses; seminars; training workshops; book launches; live broadcasts (radio & TV); multi-media newsroom (training and production)

    SABC-Highway Africa New Media Awards Ceremony: 11 September, 1820 Settlers Monument@ 19.00hrs;

    Book Launches: Books by Geoff Nyarota (Against the Grain ); Charlene Hunter-Gault (New News from Africa); Elizabeth Barratt and Guy Berger (50 Years of Journalism);  Adam Powell (Reinventing Local News :  Connecting Communities Through New Technologies); UNESCO (Centres of Excellence in Journalism in Africa)

    Networking Dinners: ABSA Africa Night Dinner (10 September); SABC Awards Gala Dinner (11 September); SABC News Closing Reception (12 September)

    Conference Workshops: there will be many of these and will mostly be on Open Source and Free Software (Campcaster; Audacity; RSS Feeds & Yahoo Pipes). The workshops will run every afternoon on 10th, 11th and 12th September.  

    Multimedia Production: newspaper (Open Source); conference blog (; audio podcasts; video podcasts; photo gallery. Paper and blogs to be in French (PIWA) and KiSwahili (Tanzanian journalists)

    Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License