Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to save the newspaper industry

Imagine a company that sells you a product each day - while at the same time that company produces an enhanced version of the same product and gives it away, hours earlier, for free. How long would you continue buying that product?

That's the newspaper industry's business model - even the paper you are reading right now. Charge for the printed paper; give free access to the Web version. Is it any surprise that newspapers are in terrible trouble? The New York Times and the Washington Post both lost money in the most recent quarter. Last week, the Tribune Co., publisher of 12 newspapers, filed for bankruptcy protection.

Among the first things to go as the industry cuts back has been foreign correspondents. Only a handful of newspapers still staff foreign bureaus - at a time when world news holds extraordinary importance, especially during a worldwide recession.

Today, only the New York Times employs a full complement of correspondents around the world - and provides adequate space in the newspaper to print their work. As much as I respect the Times, my employer for almost 25 years, should we rely primarily on one newspaper, with its own quirks and unique points of view, to provide this coverage?

Newspaper publishers are certainly not complacent about the industry's paradoxical business model. But no one seems to know how to fix it. I have an idea. But first, the context.

In about 1995, as newspapers discovered the Internet, they began putting up Web sites - as an experiment. Publishers then generally believed that people interested in technology would read a newspaper online. That view held for years. In 1999 and 2000, I was covering the Microsoft antitrust trial in Washington - the biggest technology story of the day. The Times asked me to come back to the office at midday to file a story for the Web site. Reporters covering the White House, Congress and the rest weren't filing just for the Web. Those weren't technology stories.

In 2003 and 2004, publishers began to realize that the Web was taking over the business. In fact, readers and advertisers were abandoning the printed newspaper and reading it online - for free. In the years since, this trend has worsened. Industry experts say they expect several newspapers to go out of business next year.

The newspapers' biggest problem is their inability to make much money from their Web sites. Web advertising generally pays 10 cents for every $1 earned from print ads. And, of course, there is no circulation income.

When the sites were regarded as technology curiosities, there was no thought of charging people to use them. By the time papers realized that they should be charging, it was too late. No one wanted to be the first paper to charge, given that nearly all of the other papers, and other online news sources worldwide, were free. Several papers tried charging, but most backed off.

Now, here's my idea: The newspaper industry should ask the Justice Department for an antitrust exemption that would allow publishers to collaborate on a decision to begin charging for their Web sites. No paper would have to charge, and each paper could determine its own price. But if most papers in a region - San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, for example - began charging for Web access at more or less the same time, many readers would likely subscribe.

"It's an intriguing idea," John Sturm, president of the Newspaper Association of America, told me. "I do not recall hearing that notion before."

Certainly, as Sturm noted, readers could find some of what the newspaper offers elsewhere. Sports scores at espn.com. Political news at politico.com. But then, the onus on each paper would be the same one that has prevailed since the first newspapers were published in Germany 500 years ago: to provide unique, exclusive content that readers crave and cannot get anywhere else.

Still, as Sturm put it, "it's not an easy putt, by any means." Perhaps. To gain an antitrust exemption, an industry most prove that the decision would serve the public interest. But a healthy newspaper industry could not be more central to the public interest. A democracy cannot function without an assertive news media. And there's a precedent.

Over the years, the Justice Department has issued numerous antitrust exemptions allowing two newspapers in a community to combine their business operations so both newsrooms could survive. Newspaper competition, the department found, is in the public's interest.

Now, more than ever.

source : http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/20/IN6C14PEOM.DTL

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New business models for news are not that new

With online ad revenue down for the second quarter in a row and newspaper industry indicators suggesting that 2008 is going be the worst year yet, the frenzy continues for a new business model for news publishing that will magically boost revenue and stop the financial bloodletting.

But innovation is sorely lacking in the new business models proposed; the truth is that many of them have been around since the early 1900s.

In 1923, historian James Melvin Lee outlined in his History of American Journalism alternative business models that newspapers had tried to remove themselves from dependence on advertisers and circulation growth and that now seem strangely prescient: the endowment model, the municipal news model, an adless newspaper, religious news, and what can only be called the "bazooka gum" approach to circulation.

Even before Pro-Publica could be imagined, our predecessors were strategizing how to create an endowment-supported newspaper. Hamilton Hold, editor of the New York City Independent outlined what such a model would look like to other newsmen at the first National Newspaper Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1912.

The endowment model immediately had its critics – with much the same response we hear today. James Kelley of the Chicago Herald argued that an endowment newspaper was an "impossibility" for only the "people" could truly endow journalism without it being disinterested. In other words, whoever provided the cash was likely to have the dominant influence.

Lee worried that the endowment model was championed by academics and was unlikely to work because no one was willing to front the cash. He wrote, "The nearest that the endowed newspaper has come to a realization in America was a promise of Andrew Carnegie to be one of 10 men to finance such a venture. It would take just about ten men of Mr. Carnegie's wealth to establish successfully an endowed daily newspaper." Looking around in today's news environment, the St. Petersburg Times stands alone as an independent, endowed print newspaper.

Lee mentions another curious model that seems strangely reminiscent of the turn toward hyperlocal blogging: the municipal newspaper model.

Los Angeles in 1912 had evening and daily newspapers, but it also had the first, and possibly only Municipal News. Financed by the city of Los Angeles, 60,000 copies were distributed by newsboys and to homes. It was under the control of a municipal newspaper commission, composed of three citizens who served without pay and who were appointed by the mayor. They were to hold office for four years and were subject to recall and removal by referendum.

The mayor, the city council, and political party that had more than 3% of the vote were guaranteed column space. Financial support came from an appropriation of $36,000 set aside by the city of LA. Ad revenue was a second stream of income, but the newspaper did not support any major department store ads. Civic minded, it had a special student section.

The Municipal News was truly hyperlocal - it didn't truly compete with any LA papers because it didn't cover national or state news or carry wires. Lee is unclear on how long it actually lasted, but was voted down by the city council due to cost.

Some newspapers in the early 20th century tried to do without ads entirely. On September 28, 1911 the Day Book, an adless daily newspaper appeared in Chicago. It began with only 200 copies and sent personal agents of the paper to subscribers to generate revenue. Eventually, circulation got up to 22,938, but when the price was raised from one to two cents and the cost of paper increased due to World War I, it died a few short months later. A major downfall – the lack of department store ads failed to attract women readers.

Still, Lee suggested that people ought to be willing to pay for quality and that adless papers could be a reality: "The adless newspaper may possibly be a part of the journalism of to-morrow, if fifty thousand people will be willing to pay ten cents per copy for their daily paper and will agree not to cancel their subscription orders even through displeased with the presentation of the news or offended at the editorial policy adopted by the editors."

One form of news that was increasingly popular was a turn toward news financed by religious organizations. Lee dismisses most of these for being too narrowly focused on spreading religion to attract a broad audience, with one exception – the Christian Science Monitor, which kept its religious news to the back and even then was noted for its international outlook. Other religious newspapers are still running strong: The Desert News, affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, acts as a competitor to the Salt Lake Tribune. And the Washington Times' conservative stance pursues its agenda from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

The Christian Science Monitor is reinventing itself as we speak as one of the first major dailies to switch from print first to an online daily with a print weekly. Lee's refinement of religious newspapers as a distinct model may be reflected in the Monitor's bravado: perhaps religious newspapers are hotbeds of innovation.

The final model Lee proposes and dismisses is what can only be called the Bazooka Gum Model and reeks of the gimmicks and cereal box circulation efforts ad departments have tried for years to boost revenue.

For Lee, these efforts were a lost cause. He told the sorry tale of the 1905 United States Daily of Detroit, which offered people little trading stamps that they could exchange for things like bicycles if they collected enough. Coupons failed to bring in enough circulation - and the newspaper died after 68 days.

A return to our history books provides a useful warning and reminder: we don't have the answers yet. We didn't have them in the 1920s, and we're still searching for them now.

But even without answers, news innovators of times past were willing to experiment. We should take our cues from the past, and consider new business models as opportunities for our industry rather than signs of its failure.


© Knight Digital Media Center

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Convergence has transformed the journalist from `a lonely wolf' into a (multimedia) team player

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 15, No. 1, 75-87 (2009)
DOI: 10.1177/1354856508097020

Making Convergence Work in the Newsroom

A Case Study of Convergence of Print, Radio, Television and Online Newsrooms at the African Media Matrix in South Africa During the National Arts Festival

Peter Verweij

School of Journalism, Utrecht, The Netherlands, peter.verweij@hu.nl

The process of convergence has had significant effects on and consequences for the working habits and roles of journalists. This article, based on observations at The Times and Die Burger, and on a convergence experiment at The School of Journalism at Rhodes University, will focus on this impact. Convergence has transformed the journalist from `a lonely wolf' into a (multimedia) team player. Enhancing at the same time the limits of decision making in the production of news by reporters and editors. The success of this transformation is more related to the social structure and organization of the newsroom, than to technology. Converged newsrooms offer more opportunities for the public to be informed and involved in a story, and offer the reporter and editor more integrated tools to tell the story.

Key Words: convergence • journalism education • multi-media team • newsroom structure • multi-platform • repurposing • workflow system


Internet Explorer security alert

Users of the world's most common web browser have been advised to switch to another browser until a serious security flaw has been fixed.

The flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people's computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.

Microsoft is investigating the problem and preparing an emergency software patch to resolve it, it says.

Internet Explorer is used by the vast majority of the world's computer users.

"Microsoft is continuing its investigation of public reports of attacks against a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer," said the firm in a security advisory alert about the flaw.

Microsoft says it has detected attacks against version seven of the browser - its most widely used edition.

But the company warned that other versions were also potentially vulnerable.

source : BBC 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Twittering the Ghanaian Elections

While the use of Twitter has become increasingly familiar in North America, Europe and many parts of Asia, it is still a very new and relatively unknown tool in other regions of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it has proven to be an efficient way to quickly share information in times of political changes such as yesterday's [1] Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ghana.

The Mobile Active blog [2] commented on the importance of sms for election monitoring, especially after the instances of fraud of violence experienced in the last months in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria:

Each of the 4,000 trained observers-mostly members of the 34-organization strong CODEO coalition–are deployed all over Ghana are using their phones to report on incidences at the polls and how well the polls are conducted, using a coded checklist. As we have reported before, systematic SMS reporting by trained local citizen observers about how well an election is conducted can prevent rumors, and is an independent and reliable indicator about the quality of the election process.

One of the Twitter users that twittered the vote and the subsequent results almost minute by minute was [3] Ghanaelections, a Twitter account set up by the African Elections project, aimed at developing the capacity of the media in ICTs in order for them to use it as a tool for election coverage in Ghana, Cote d'lvoire and Guinea from 2008 to 2009.

Other twitterers had more modest intentions and simply wanted to [4] share their joy as [5] first time voters, such as [6] Kwabena, who the day before the election [7] had announced "I'm hopin to see long queues on Sunday. Kill the apathy, Ghana".

[8] AfricaTalks also [9] reported his vote, that took him only 15 minutes since arriving at the polling station in spite of the long lines that in some places started [10] as early as 2am.

Although [11] some [12] incidents [13] were reported by observers and twitterers, overall the voting went well and the day passed [14] calmly and [15] smoothly.

Once the polls closed, twitterers were excited to start reporting on the vote counting:

A few hours later, the first provisional results were also posted on Twitter as they were being announced. For example, chrisdof announced that the winning of a seat in Parliament by the daughter of [16] Kwame Nkrumah who led Ghana to independence in 1957. Another Twitter user, ghanablogger, not only he liveblogged about voting but he also [17] linked to a video of it, as well as to [18] several photos that he took of the polling stations and that he posted on his blog.

As of Monday morning the results of the Presidential elections are not yet clear, only that it was a [19] very close race. Most international media reported on the big turnout and smoothness of the voting day.

While waiting for the official results, blogger Oluniyi David Ajao complains about the lack of attention to good news from Africa such as peaceful elections in his home country in a post titled "[20] Does Ghana exist?"

The Ghana 2008 Presidential/Parliamentary elections has been over since about 12 hours ago and I find it interesting that many of the leading Western media outlets have not made a mention of Ghana 2008 Elections. Perhaps, Ghana does not exist on their radar screen. Ghana, like the rest of black Africa will only pop-up on their monitoring screens when over 1,000 people have butchered themselves or over 300,000 people are dying of starvation, or over 500,000 people are displaced by a civil war.

From Global Voices Online: http://globalvoicesonline.org

Sunday, November 30, 2008

TIC ET ELECTIONS : les journalistes guinéens renforcent leurs capacités


TIC ET ELECTIONS : les journalistes guinéens renforcent leurs capacités

 Un atelier de formation sur la couverture des élections par l'utilisation  des technologies de l'information et de la
communication (TIC) s'est tenu les 26 et 27 novembre 2008 à l'hôtel Petit Bateau de Conakry et a connu la participation effective d'une
vingtaine de journalistes et certains acteurs clés de la société civile.

Ce séminaire est organisé par l'Institut international pour le  journalisme et les technologies de l'information et de la
communication (TIC) - Penplusbytes, en collaboration avec l'Association des journalistes de la Guinée (AJG), l'Association
Guinéenne des Editeurs de la Presse Indépendante (AGEPI), avec le soutien de Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
  Cet atelier de formation vise à contribuer à une meilleure couverture des élections par les medias, en Guinée Conakry grâce aux
Le premier jour de cette table ronde, les journalistes issus de la télévision, de la radio, de la presse en ligne, de la presse et des
radios communautaires ont eu droit a des communications sur ''le cadre légal des élections'', ''l'organisation pratique des élections'',
''l'excellence dans la couverture des élections avant, pendant et après'', ''le rôle du reportage d'investigation dans la couverture des
La deuxième journée a été essentiellement consacrée à des exercices pratiques. Il a été animé par Kwami Ahiabenu II, Directeur de
Penplusbytes et Gérard Guedegbe, Secrétaire Général du Réseau africain des journalistes d'investigations. Les journalistes ont suivi dans un premier temps des démonstrations sur la création d'un blog, la mise en ligne des photos, des sons, des vidéos etc.
Au cours de la deuxième partie de la journée, ces professionnels des médias ont été invités à créer leurs propres blogs et également leur page de publication d'articles sur les élections en Guinée sur le site du Projet : www.africanelections.org .
Quant au président de Penplusbytes, M. Kwami Ahiabenu II, il a présenté le projet des élections de Penplusbytes-Osiwa qui couvre
trois que sont : le Ghana, la Côte d'Ivoire et la Guinée.
Le séminaire sur la couverture des élections grâce aux TIC a été ouvert par le Représentant du Président du Conseil National de la
Communication de la Guinée, en la personne de Daniel FRA, conseil de Technique de l'Ambassade France auprès de l'institution. Dans son intervention il va souhaiter que cette formation renforce l'espoir pour la  qualité de la presse guinéenne, vu son importance  à
l'approche des échéances  électorales. Il a surtout remercié Penplusbytes  et OSIWA pour la contribution à la formation des
journalistes guinéens  sur la couverture électorale grâce aux  TIC.
Dans son message, Mme Idiatou Bah Responsable du Programme Gouvernance à OSIWA a souhaité la pleine implication des journalistes, leur engagement personnel, afin que la formation soit une réussite.
Le président du Penplusbytes, M. Kwami Ahiabenu II,  a, quant à lui, insisté sur la nécessité de former les journalistes à l'utilisation
des TIC pour réussir les élections en Guinée ; mais surtout permettre à ceux-ci  de participer à la création de contenu en ligne.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Webb on the Web: Advanced Twitter: The "hashtag"

Webb on the Web: Advanced Twitter: The "hashtag"

By Amy Webb, IJNet Digital Media Consultant

So you've got a Twitter account, you've started posting and have some followers... what comes next?

Try out using the hashtag (#) to enhance your community and your posting. Hashtags were developed to help people create groups without having to change the software that powers Twitter.

Often times, when there's a big event or conference taking place, Twitter users will decide on a common keyword and then include it in every tweet so that others can follow the conversation.

Here's how a big news organization used the hashtag to cover our recent election in the U.S. During the U.S. vice presidential debate, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch encouraged twitterers to watch the broadcast and include #vpdebate with every relevant post. They could then search for all of the commentary by visiting search.twitter.com and searching under #vpdebate.

It was a success! From the blog of Kurt Greenbaum, the director of social media at the Post-Dispatch:

The day before the debate, Oct. 1, Twitterers used it 11 times. It's first use on Debate Day was early and by someone I didn't know (Kristin Smith) from a place I can't identify. I also reached out to some of my Twitter friends and asked them to use it during the day. They all retweeted about it, and made use of it - as did colleagues in the newsroom.

By about 4 p.m. central time, Twitter Search started showing that the #vpdebate tag was among its top 10 "trending" topics and at about 5 p.m., it was No. 6 on the list. By 6 p.m., nearly 100 tweets had been made with that tag. Two hours later, when the debate began, another 400 had been added. And as the debate was underway, I couldn't read the tweets fast enough. From debate time until I stopped looking at 11:30 p.m., it was trending No. 1 on Twitter Search.

Another useful tool? You can use search.twitter.com and hashtags to track zeitgeist. If you're someone who follows trends or even a particular company, you should consider running a search a few times a day on various terms of interest to you. For example, I'm interested in mobile... so I often search #mobile or #cellphone or #mobiles. Try it yourself to see what you find!

The key is to conceive of a good tag and then spread the word. Once you have built a community and it's feeding comments, links and other data, you can wildly enhance your reporting and observation of just about any topic. And if you don't want to stay on search.twitter.com to watch the action, you can also subscribe to that feed via RSS and simply track all of the new entries using your reader!

For more information, visit hashtags.org and @hashtags on Twitter. Visit here to download a free Twitter how-to guide.

To read all of Amy Webb's Webb on the Webb columns, click here.

Follow me on Twitter! Amy Webb is a digital media consultant and head of Webbmedia Group, LLC. Find more multimedia tips and ideas at her blog, http://www.mydigimedia.com. Webbmedia Group is a vendor-neutral company. Any opinions expressed about products or services are formed after testing, research and interviews. Neither Amy Webb nor Webbmedia Group or its employees receives any financial or other benefits from vendors.

Media accreditation for Dec 7 Election

Journalists, both local and foreign and their crew going to cover the December 7 polls are requested to submit their passport-size photographs to the Ghana International Press Centre for accreditation by the Electoral Commission.

Applicants must state their name and their media organisation. Local media organisations are advised to submit a group application which should be endorsed by their Editors or head of organisation.

In the case of foreign media personnel they must first register with the Ministry of Information and National Orientation which will assist them to pass their documents to the Press Centre. Foreign applicants will be required to produce their press cards.

Applications should be labeled "Media Accreditation for December 2008 Election" and addressed to the Director, Ghana International Press Centre.

The deadline for the submission of application is Monday, December 1, 2008.

Applicants for special voting which takes place on December 2, 2008 should state their name, age, media organization, constituency polling station and voter identity card number.

All individual and group applications are to be labeled Media Special Voting.

Regional GJA executives are to take charge of the two exercises in the various regions and submit applications to the Regional Director of the Electoral Commission.

source : daily graphic

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghana Elections News and Live Results on your mobile/twitter ?

Ghana Elections 2008 is around the corner

Do you want to keep abreast with elections News and certified results via your mobile ?
If you are based in Ghana send the word                subscribe
to 1927 (all networks) via text message for regular up to date Ghana Elections News, updates and certified presidential and parliamentary results.

If you currently not living in Ghana, please follow us on http://twitter.com/ghanaelections and linked it to your mobile phone 

This service is brought to you by http://www.ghanaelectionshotline.com/ghana/
supported by OSIWA and co-ordinated by the International Institute for ICT Journalism (penplusbytes)

Happy Peaceful Ghana Elections 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twittering the election… and wondering if this is the right tool

Many of my friends who are following the US election intensely are supporting Twitter Vote Report. It's a very cool mashup designed to let people report voting irregularities by sending a message to #votereport on Twitter and using a restricted syntax to report on the experience. The website will visualize the reports as they come in and will be able to store reports of slow voting sites and polling places that experience complaints of malfunctioning machines or people preventing voters from accessing the polls.

A sample report:

Syd Sallabanks: #votereport #early Boise 83716 zip. #good experience to vote early. Boise friends follow http://twittervotereport.com/how-to-help

I can't help comparing this laudable project to some of the projects I've seen in African countries designed to increase voter transparency. Some of those projects have used SMS. Election monitors in Nigeria used Kiwanja's SMS gateway, FrontlineSMS to monitor the recent presidential election. And SMS likely helped the opposition MDC insist that it had won the first round of presidential balloting this year - election reports were posted outside each polling place, and MDC activists used SMS to report each tally to a central office, where they were tallied and revealed an MDC victory, if not a majority.

But the most effective vote monitoring projects I've seen are in countries with a free and thriving indepedent media. In Ghana, talk radio is by far the most important medium for discussing politics. During the 2000 elections, citizens who had trouble at the polls - groups trying to intimidate voters or prevent some people from voting - called talk radio stations and reported their troubles. This was probably more effective than calling election officials or other authorities - since the obstacles to voting were reported live, the radio stations could continue reporting on the situation until authority figures intervened and ensured people could vote. (It's possible that election authorities might have ignored calls to their offices and claimed they'd never been received.) As it turned out, the 2000 presidential election in Ghana was peaceful and put the opposition party in power for the first time in decades.

The mobile plus radio system works very well for monitoring for two reasons - it's easy for citizens to use (they just call a radio station, something many of them do frequently to participate in call-in shows) and the reports are immediately available to a large audience (everyone who listens to talk radio, which is, basically, everyone.) I'm not sure that TwitterVote covers the same bases, at least by itself. It's easy for Twitter users, and certainly possible for those who don't use Twitter regularly to participate by texting to a shortcode. But the messages directly reach a fairly small audience - there aren't very accurate numbers for active Twitter users, but Techcrunch estimates the number at under a million, which certainly includes some non-US users. So TwitterVote needs to be thought of as collection mechanism for reports, which can be disseminated through other media.

This, for me, raises the question of why Twitter is the right tool to use for this project. Is it because it's easy to crate mashups around? Because it's the tool-du-jour for the digitally experimental set? Or is it a reflection of how impenetrable mainstream radio and television appears to be for most American citizens? The media that continues to be disproportionately important for most American households is still local, broadcast television news, despite declines in recent years and increase in web usage. When we design tools for election monitoring, are we ignoring local news because we expect it to be uncooperative and impenetrable? Or are we just playing with the tools we know and like, whether or not they're the best way to reach a broad audience?

WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards

Dear all,

The WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards are an initiative of Panos Institute of West Africa with the partnership of Highway Africa and Global Voices.

WAXAL (pronounced WA-HAL) means "speak" in Wolof (Senegalese language) and the word captures the essence of the evolution of the worldwide web as a platform for conversation and for the raising of marginalized voices.

For this first edition, the WAXAL Awards will seek to recognize the production of blogs by people working as journalists (from all kind of media: print, online, radio, TV) and by African organizations working to favour the production of alternative information and citizen expression.

3 categories  have been chosen: Best French-speaking Journalist Blog, Best English-speaking Journalist Blog, Best Citizen Journalist Blog produced by an African Organization.

Each winner of the first two categories will receive a cash sum of F CFA 1,000,000 (about 2,000 USD).  The organization winner of the third category will receive a cash sum of F CFA 2,000,000 (about USD 4,000). The reference currency is F CFA.

All the blogs showing a good quality will also be promoted.

Deadline for nomination of blogs : 7 December 08

See the Waxal Africa Blogging Awards blog for further information.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dan Gillmor writes new book about principles for news consumers

At the Blogboat event in Belgium citizen journalism expert Dan Gillmor spoke about a new book dealing with principles for news consumers, writes Dorien Aerts.

According to Gillmor, consumers should look at the news with skepticism and judgment. Moreover they should do research when something isn't clear or when they need a second opinion.

"That's exactly what the people who sold their stocks after hearing that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, didn't do. It was their stupidity to immediately believe the false news. Which makes them responsible as well, and not only the citizen journalist who wrote the article."

(When Googling, I found a lot of people blaming the citizen journalist who wrote the news (eg this one)).

The fourth principle mentioned by Gilmor is independence. He encourages news consumers to read stuff that challenges what they believe.

Last but not least Gillmor wants people to be aware of and recognize the techniques used by journalists to persuade them of something.

According to Gillmor, we are moving to the Daily Us (versus the Daily Me) or community driven news. Popularity and reputation will play the most important roles within that model.

"And whoever succeeds in combining those two, will be big".

This Daily Us will be driven by thouroughness, accuracy, fairness, independence and transparancy, "Principles every journalist agrees on."

In order to achieve this Daily Us, the participation of traditional media and the help of citizen journalists are needed, says Gillmor. But also parents and schools are of the utmost importance, in teaching children how to deal with news. "Children should know that Wikipedia is the best starting point, but the worst place to stop."


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mobiles for media empowerment

Today, all eyes are on the United States with one of the most anticipated Presidential elections in decades. Amidst the excitement lurks the ever-present concern over potential election day chaos, and fears of a repeat of what happened in Florida eight years ago. Once again, mobile technology is also being touted as one way of smoothing election day progress and how it's reported, as it has been in almost every election around the world in recent years. The proposed use of Twitter is perhaps the one key addition in USA'08.

In the coming months three West African countries also go to the polls - Ghana, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire. Sadly, access to balanced and unbiased election information is often a key problem in these countries. The logistical challenges of running nationwide elections is often compounded by a lack of election-specific knowledge among local media, which can often lead to misreporting, misinformation and - in worse-case scenarios - civil unrest. Availability of ICT tools for local journalists can also be problematic, compounding the problem yet further.

To address some of these challenges, the International Institute for ICT Journalism, in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), are embarking on the "West African Elections Information and Knowledge Project".

The project seeks to strengthen the role of the media in election reporting through the training of senior editors, journalists and reporters; developing and disseminating an 'Election Reporting Guide for the Media'; the use of text messaging in election coverage and monitoring with FrontlineSMS; and the creation of a Knowledge Online Portal.

The use of mobile technology in election monitoring may be nothing new, although promoting the use of text messaging specifically as a media enabler represents something of a departure from its usual use by official election monitor groups. The choice of FrontlineSMS is also significant. The software has already been successfully implemented in Nigeria to enable what is widely believed to be Africa's first citizen election monitoring project, and it was used in the last Philippine elections to help organise official monitoring teams around the country. In recent weeks it has also been lined up to help register 135,000 overseas Filipino workers in advance of the upcoming 2010 elections.

Further details on the West African election project are available via the Africa Election Portal website, and updates will also be posted on the kiwanja.net blog as the project moves forward.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Using 'Twitter Vote Report' in Your Online Election Coverage

        "I thought it might be a good reporting exercise/cool experiment to set up a Twitter feed for us all to contribute to and report on any voting irregularities, voter intimidation, equipment problems, counting issues, etc. that we come across on Tuesday night," said UMass Amherst journalism instructor  Steve Fox  (http://www.umass.edu/journal/UMAJournalism/facultyStaff/bios/fox_bio.html)  via e-mail to a diverse group of news people and academics.

What a good idea, I thought -- but as a perpetual Twitter user (drbarb (http://twitter.com/drbarb) ), I recalled seeing a Twitter post ("tweet") about that kind of site. My sense of where the future of news lies tells me that "newsies" shouldn't be too quick to reinvent the wheel, especially when it's a tech wheel. Instead of launching a DIY online project it's important to first scout around online and evaluate existing efforts. When you find them, it's best to  work with them  to build synergies between those sites and your own efforts.

Journalists and technologists do need to work together, as  Amy Gahran has suggested . One way to start is to leverage social networking and the link economy to your benefit by sharing the workload with existing projects.

For the type of election watch project Fox was considering, David Cohn (digidave (http://twitter.com/digidave)  on Twitter) recommends Twitter Vote Report (http://twittervotereport.com/
)  -- a non-partisan, nonprofit site. Cohn also set up a Digg recommendation (http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/Twitter_as_Voter_Watchdog_Tool_Tweet_the_Vote?OTC-widget)  pointing to the project's site. Twitter Vote Report also was mentioned by  Ana Marie Cox  (http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2008/10/31/tweet-the-vote/)  in Time.com's Swampland blog, the Orlando Sentinel (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/technology/orl-ymhorowitz0208nov02,0,4183034.story) , Rocketboom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGStmHaf2bMhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGStmHaf2bM) , and Mashable (http://mashable.com/2008/10/29/twitter-vote-report/) . And of course, the site has been getting widely tweeted and blogged, too.
        Read the Entire Post (http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=153443)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghana Elections - A View From The Outside -One Week To The US Elections

By Karen Attiah

Its one week to the US elections, and the world is waiting with baited breath as Americans both home and abroad cast their votes for the next leader of the United States. I myself as an expatriate sent in my ballot last week. As a foreigner in Ghana, I find it amazing that so many people watch the U.S. elections so closely. I stayed up for each and every debate, and more times than not, other Ghanaians watched as well. I can find Obama bumper stickers and T-Shirts here. MTN, one of the mobile phone carriers and Joy FM have created a text message subscription service that offers customers US election news for just one Ghana Cedi. I signed up and told my other friends about it as well.

But with one week to go until one of the biggest elections in recent global history, all I can say is that Americans on both sides of the political divide are nervously biting their nails. An article from MSNBC describes this wide spread what I would call "Pre-Election Syndrome", evidenced by symptoms of loss of sleep, addiction to television and internet updates on poll numbers, and a penchant for getting into heated political debates with all those who come within three feet.  ( See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27416412) Lets face it, Americans feel deeply invested in this election. As the article states, "elections generate so much stress because we [Americans] vote out of a very, very core place in our personalities...it has to do with their existential view of how the world works and the fear is that a candidate who shares a different worldview is rattling." To many people, they cannot even imagine what the world would look like if their preferred presidential candidate happened not to win. A loss for their preferred candidate, in a winner take all situation, resembles a life-or-death type of game.

I know I exhibit some of the symptoms of Pre Election Syndrome.

But what about Ghana? What are the symptoms of Pre Election syndrome in Ghana? Is it evidenced by higher sales of political newspapers? Higher listenership to radio stations? Are citizens with access to television finding themselves glued to it? Are political discussions around the dinner table more heated? As most of us know, an unfortunate symptom of Pre-Election Syndrome here is the potential for violent confrontations between party supporters at rallies. Regrettably, within the past week, there have been several instances of clashes between the NPP and the NDC parties. Additionally, PES comes with extra political sensationalism in the media, rumor-mongering, heated rhetoric from candidates, and loud arguments over the radio airwaves between party leaders. All of these factors help to raise the temperature of the nation as a whole.

But as an outsider, what I fail to understand in Ghana is where the heat is coming from. Sure, the Ghana elections are a "first past the post" 50+1 contest as I understand it. But in terms of ideologies, I wish someone could tell me what fundamentally distinguishes the NPP from the NDC, the two major players in the race. For instance, Republicans in the United States are known to ideologically favor small government regulation in individual affairs, while Democrats favor funding large government projects and regulation. Im speaking broadly here, but on social issues, Republicans tend to be socially conservative, with objections to gay marriage, and abortion, while Democrats favor inclusiveness concerning marriage and civil unions, and supporting a woman's right to choose. But in the Case of the NPP and NDC, what are the basic differences between the parties, besides the personalities? I would welcome comments.

As for my vote........Obama/Biden 2008!!!

Credit :  African elections.org

Saturday, October 11, 2008

EC Ghana To speed Up "overseas"results

The Electoral Commission is to install communication gadgets in areas in the country described as "overseas", to ensure that the election results in those areas are released on time.

The "Overseas" areas are scattered settler communities in parts of the three northern regions, as well as the Eastern and western regions.

They are described as "oversea communities" because of their inaccessibility particularly during the rainy season.
Hubert Akomea, Director of information Technology, speaking at a two day PenPlusBytes/OSIWA/GJA workshop on Election coverage using ICT," IN Accra yesterday, said the EC had identified 60 such areas where it would install communication gadgets to get the results released on time.
The workshop was aimed at equipping media practitioners with the necessary ICT skills in their coverage of the December poll to ensure accurate information flow.

Mr. Akomea said with the prompt receipt of the results from those areas, the EC should be able to release the results within 48 hours.
He said in addition to the radio and satellite communication gadgets, the rest of the country would as usual, continue to use the faxes and ICT equipment already in place.

"We are using this dual transmission so that when one is down the other serves as a back-up," he explained.
Mr. Akomea said the EC was consulting with some private companies to mount electronic bill boards to transmit the results digitally from the nine regional capitals, outside Accra.

Ghanaian Times/www.africanelections.org

Wednesday, October 08, 2008



 26th to 27th September at Grand Bassam, Cote d' Ivoire
 9th to 10th October at Accra, Ghana

19TH to 19th November, Conakry, Guinea



  The International Institute for Information and Communication  Technologies (ICT) Journalism - Penplusbytes, in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association , REPPRELCI (Réseau de Professionnels de la presse en Ligne de Côte d'Ivoire and other key partners  with support from Open Society Initiative for  West Africa (OSIWA) is organizing two sets of training for Ghana and Cote d'lvoire.
  This training workshop is in line with the vision of ensuring the media is empowered to provide high quality coverage of the upcoming Ghana's and Cote d'lvoire elections using ICTs.


  1. Print
  2. TV
  3. Radio
  4.Community Radios
  5. Online

  Workshop Content

-          The Electoral System -legal, constitutional, processes, supervision,
monitoring and observation

-          Excellence in Elections coverage - pre, during and post periods:

-           Use of ICTs in Elections content generation, publishing and monitoring




Local and International experts are expected to facilitate this
important workshop providing insight both from theoretical and practical
aspects of elections coverage.

Workshop Segments

1.       Online segment

2.       Face to Face Segment

3.       Online Segment


Course Delivery

-          Maximum use of Interactive presentations

-          Course Work

-          Group Discussion

-          Hands on





-          Seek to serve as an introduction to the course

-          Assess the level of ICTs skills of participants

-          Provides an opportunity for participants to play with online tools especially blogging







Part One


-          Opening Ceremony and launch

-           Introduction of Participants

-          Learning objectives and learning Contract

Cocoa Break



Part Two

-          The Electoral System  - History, legal and  constitutional

-          The Electoral System  -processes and  supervision,
monitoring and observation

-          The Electoral System  - monitoring and observation

-          Group Work and  Discussions




Part Three


-          Excellence in Elections coverage - pre, during and post periods

-          The role of investigative reporting in Election coverage


o       potential electoral frauds in order to be accurate, effective and preserve peace in electoral period (during elections process and post election process)

o        Follow-up of the deliberation process at the electoral commission (during elections process)

o        Candidates' campaign accounts follow-up (post election process)



·         Ethical issues to care for, while investigating in electoral period

-          Group Work and Discussions


Part Four

-          introduction to PENPLUSBYTES/OSIWA Elections Project






-          Recall of day one and review of learning objectives

-          Introduction to ICT Journalism

-          Convergence

Cocoa Break



-          Introduction to the Use of ICTs in Elections content generation, publishing and monitoring

-          Tools of our trade – video and video blogging

-          Tools of our trade – online photos and audio






-          Tools of our Trade – online tools – websites, blogs and Mapping

-          Tools of our Trade -  mobile journalism – SMS

-          Group Work and Discussion



-          PENPLUSBYTES/OSIWA newsroom Project

-          Course Evaluation and distribution of certificates

-          Conclusion


-          follow up

-          monitor online content of participants

-          review post elections issues

-          Peer Assist








Friday, October 03, 2008

ICT Key For Effective Election Reportage- ICT Expert

The use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools by the media is crucial to ensuring effective reportage in the December general elections, an ICT expert observed on Thursday.

Mr. Ibrahim Inusah, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) who made the observation, said adopting ICT would facilitate the media's role in monitoring and ensuring transparency in the elections.

 Mr. Inusah was speaking to newsmen after a day's workshop organised by GINKS in Accra to expose journalists to the use of ICT for election reportage.

 He indicated that media knowledge on ICT was low, hence the need to build their capacity to enable them to make good use of the emerging global technology.       

He identified the use of SMS text messaging as an effective ICT tool, which the media could deploy effectively in its dissemination and information gathering processes.

 Mr. Inusah therefore challenged the media to develop their knowledge in the technology and pledged his organisation's continuous support to organise similar workshop for journalists.     

GINKS, established in 2003, consists of a broad range of people drawn from various fields of endeavour mainly involved in ICT and sustainable development.

It provides solutions to challenges in the ICT environment through networking, information and Knowledge sharing among all stakeholders; conducting research; publicity and advocacy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Couverture des élections en utilisant les TIC - Le REPPRELCI forme les journalistes à Grand-Bassam

En collaboration avec Pen + Bytes, Institut International de Journalisme Par TIC, au Ghana, le Réseau des professionnels de la presse en Côte d' Ivoire (Repprelci) présidé par Barthélemy Kouamé, journaliste à Fraternité Matin, organise aujourd'hui et demain samedi 27 septembre 2005 à Grand-Bassam un atelier de formation à l'attention des journalistes. Sur 26 journalistes qui seront sélectionnés, 19 bénéficieront de la formation. Il s'agit, fait savoir Barthélemy, de contribuer, en utilisant les Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (TIC) « de façon plus saine », à une meilleure couverture des élections par les médias : presse écrite, TV, radio, radio communautaire, presse en ligne. Bénéficiant du soutien de OSIWA, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, cette formation est aussi élargie au Ghana, en Guinée, etc. Le président de Pen + Bytes, le Ghanéen Kwami Ahiabenu II est à Abidjan pour l'atelier qui subdivise la formation en trois parties. Qui portent sur les outils électronique, le face à face et le suivi en ligne. Des personnes ressources ont été approchées dont Honoré Guié, Théodore Kouadio, Zio Moussa, Mathurin Kadjé et Parfait Kouassi. Partant de tout ce qui renferme « le système électoral » - histoires, instruments juridiques et constitutionnels, processus et supervision, le suivi et l'observation – ceux-ci feront savoir pendant le « Face à face », entre autres thèmes, le rôle du journaliste d'investigation, la couverture des élections et comment parvenir à l'excellence avant, pendant et après cette période. Pour avoir ainsi un regard sur le suivi et la couverture qui doit être de qualité et équilibrée, un projet de création de site web géré par Penplusbytes et OSIWA est en vue.

Koné Saydoo


Un séminaire pour une "meilleure couverture" des élections vendred, à Grand Bassam

Gabonews (Libreville)
25 Septembre 2008
Publié sur le web le 25 Septembre 2008

By Alexise Evelyne Ouédraogo

L'Institut international pour le journalisme et les technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) - Penplusbytes, en collaboration avec le Réseau des Professionnels de la Presse en Ligne de Côte d'Ivoire(REPPRELCI), organise un atelier de formation pour une meilleure couverture médiatique des prochaines élections.

L'atelier qui s'ouvre vendredi matin à Grand-Bassam, ancienne capitale du pays, vise à contribuer à une meilleure couverture des élections par les medias, en Côte d'Ivoire, en utilisant les TIC. Selon le président du REPPRELCI, Barthélémy Kouamé, il s'agit par cette initiative de démontrer la volonté de la presse à ne pas se mettre en marge des avancées technologiques et de contribuer à la réussite du processus électoral.

« Notre ambition au REPPRELCI ainsi que chez nos partenaires de Penplusbytes et de OSIWA est que la meilleure couverture des élections puisse être un élément qui contribue à la réussite du processus électoral.

Autrement dit, nous voudrions voir en vous des acteurs du bien être retrouvé des Ivoiriens et de tous les habitants de Côte d'Ivoire, après la tenue des élections tant attendues », a-t-il indiqué à l'endroit des participants.


Médias et élections : Pour un usage efficient des Tic

Ce matin, s'ouvre à Grand-Bassam, un atelier sur la couverture des élections par un usage efficient des technologies de l'information et de la communication (Tic), par les journalistes. Après l'étape ivoirienne le 27 septembre, c'est Accra, la capitale ghanéenne qui accueillera les panélistes et journalistes pour les édifier sur la nécessité de conformer l'usage de l'informatique, de l'Internet, de multimédia et de la téléphonie mobile dans la pratique journalistique en période électorale.

Cet atelier de formation est une initiative conjointe du Réseau des professionnels de la presse en ligne de Côte d'Ivoire (Repprelci), de l'Institut international pour le journalisme et les Tic/Penplusbytes (Ghana), en collaboration avec l'organisation ouest-africaine Osiwa.

Principalement cooptés au sein des médias à forte implication partisane et de service public, les journalistes (Web, presse, audiovisuel) seront instruits notamment par des personnes ressources que sont : Honoré Guié (Pca de la Rti), Zio Moussa (journaliste, président de l'Olped), Mathurin Kadjé (Rti), Parfait Kouassi (Onuci) et Théodore Kouadio  (Fraternité Matin).

R. C


Tuesday, September 23, 2008



  26 au 27 septembre : formation à Grand Bassam, Côte d 'Ivoire
  29 au 30 Septembre : formation à Accra International Press Center, Ghana


   L'Institut international pour le journalisme et les technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) - Penplusbytes, en collaboration avec le REPPRELCI (Réseau de Professionnels de la Presse en Ligne de Côte d'Ivoire, avec le soutien de Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) organisent une séries de formation au Ghana et en Côte d'Ivoire.
   Cet atelier de formation vise a contribuer à une meilleure couverture des élections par les medias, au Ghana et en Côte d'Ivoire, en utilisant les TIC.

Cible :
   1.Presse écrite
   4.Radio communautaire

   5. Presse en ligne

- Le système juridique des élections, le processus électoral, la Constitution, la supervision, l'observation et le suivi des élections.

- L'excellence dans la couverture des élections - avant, pendant et après
- Utilisation des TIC dans la production des contenus en matière de couverture électorale, l'édition et le suivi.


Des experts locaux et internationaux sont attendus pour faciliter cet
important atelier qui donne un aperçu théorique et pratique des aspects de la couverture des élections.


A. Outils électronique
B. Face à face
C. Suivi en ligne


- Utilisation au maximum des présentations interactives
- Les travaux pratiques
- Groupe de discussion
- échanges


- introduction au cours
- Évaluation du niveau de compétences en TIC des participants
- Familiarisation des participants avec des outils, notamment les blogs


JOUR 1 :


Première partie

- Cérémonie d'ouverture et de lancement
- Présentation des participants
- Les objectifs de l'atelier


Deuxième partie
- Le système électoral - Histoire, instruments juridiques et constitutionnelles
- Le système électoral : le processus et la supervision, le suivi et l'observation
- Le système électoral - le suivi et l'observation
- Groupe de travail et discussions


Troisième partie

- L'excellence dans la couverture des élections - avant, pendant et après.

- Le rôle du reportage d'investigation dans la couverture des élections

-        travail de groupe sur les techniques d'investigation et de reportage.
o fraudes électorales potentiels : pour être précis, efficace et préserver la paix en période électorale (pendant et après le processus électoral)
o Suivi du processus de délibération à la commission électorale (pendant le processus)
o Suivi des promesses électorales (post-processus électoral)

 Discussion de groupe sur:
• Les questions éthiques à prendre en compte pendant les investigations en période électorale
- Groupe de travail et les discussions

Quatrième partie
- Introduction au projet des élections de PENPLUSBYTES / OSIWA

JOUR 2 :

Première partie
- Rappel de la première journée et l'examen des objectifs
- Introduction au journalisme des technologies de l'information
- Convergence


 Deuxième partie

- Introduction à l'emploi des TIC dans la production de contenu pour les élections, l'édition et le suivi
- Outils - vidéo et blogs vidéo
- Outils – mise en ligne des photos et audio


Troisième partie
- Outils - sites web, blogs et cartographie
- Outils - journalisme téléphone mobile - SMS
- Groupe de travail et de discussion

Quatrième partie
- Projet de site web PENPLUSBYTES / OSIWA
- Evaluation et distribution de certificats
- Conclusion

C – Suivi en ligne
- Le suivi du contenu en ligne des participants
- Examen des questions après les élections
- pairs assistance.