Monday, March 31, 2008
This was detailed in the November 2007 edition of a major biannual report, Surveying Internet Usage and its Impact in Seven Chinese Cities (http://www.markle.org/downloadable_assets/china_internet_survey_11.2007.pdf) . (On Mar. 27, The Pew Internet and American Life Project published this followup (http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_China_Internet_2008.pdf) .)
I was intrigued by the chapter on the relationship between new and traditional media in China. The report says: "Compared to the survey results in 2005, the number of those who watch TV or read newspapers has dropped about 10 percent over the last two years, while the number of those who use the Internet has risen 17 percent. The penetration rate of the Internet increased to 66.1 percent -- surpassing the number of those who read books, and moving the Internet into the spot as third most popular form of mass media."
Nevertheless, with the exception of TV, Chinese net users still use traditional media more than non-internet users. Internet users read more books and magazines and listen more to the radio than non-users. For newspapers, usage among both groups is the same. But the shrinking support of traditional media from Chineses net users is causing traditional media organizations there to lose ground fast:
"It appears that the Internet has [surpassed] the use of traditional media, especially television consumption. Some 22.5 percent of Internet users said they greatly reduced their amount of time spent watching TV in favor of the Internet. Another 32.5 percent said that they reduced TV watching somewhat. Magazine reading also suffered; some 35.2 percent of the interviewed users said they spent less time on magazines since using the Internet. Similarly, time reading newspapers, listening to the radio and reading books, were all down with more than 30 percent."
(More on this at my blog, China Herald (http://www.chinaherald.net/2008/03/most-chinese-applaud-government.html) .)
Credit : Poynter online E-Media Tidbits by Fons Tuinstra
News websites have been with us for about a decade, and editors and designers still struggle with many unanswered questions: Is homepage layout effective? ... What effect do blurbs on the homepage have compared to headlines? ... When is multimedia appropriate? ... Are ads placed where they will be seen by the audience?
The Eyetrack III research released by The Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools could help answer those questions and more. Eyetracking research like this won't provide THE answer to those questions. But combined with other site metrics already used by news website managers -- usability testing, focus groups, log analysis -- the Eyetrack III findings could provide some direction for improving news websites.
go to http://poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm to read full article
But for now – here's what we've done:
First - we did some research asking you what you thought we should change about the site. Many of those we asked said leave it alone - don't change a thing. But it was also clear from the feedback we got that there were others who thought the site design could do with a bit of a revamp – something we'd been thinking about doing for a while.
So our designers embarked on a mission that they have called a "site refresh" - they say it's "like gardeners doing a bit of pruning and weeding, but not digging it up and starting from scratch" ie it's not a fundamental redesign of everything – many of the basics stay the same, because we know they work.
Specifically, here's what HAS changed:
It's wider - We've had lots of feedback from you about making best use of available screen space - we've always taken a rather cautious and gradual approach to this because we want to make sure that the maximum number of people can still access our site wherever they are, whatever the screen size or device. But we now reckon that 95% of you have your screen resolution set to 1024 pixels or wider, and we're confident that it's the right time to use the extra space to improve the site.
More open design - Our research told us you wanted the content on the site to have more "room to breathe", so we've opened up the design to let more space in. We hope this will make it easier for you to read the pages and to scan for what you're looking for.
New masthead and centred pages - Some of the changes are part of a new visual style that will apply across all the BBC's new and redesigned websites. The centring of the pages, the underlying layout grid, and the pan-BBC masthead are examples of this. Areas of bbc.co.uk with this new "visual language" that have already launched include the bbc.co.uk homepage, /programmes beta, BBC Wales and Cymru, and The Passion. The new BBC masthead aims to strengthen the presence of the BBC brand across the breadth of the whole BBC site. We'll also be adding a button into the BBC banner area that says "Explore the BBC", which reveals links to other parts of the BBC's site.
Bigger images - Elsewhere in the user feedback, people have told us they think the pictures we've been using on the site look a bit small and cramped. So the new design takes advantage of the wider pages to allow bigger photos - something our journalists also really welcome, recognising as they do the power of pictures in telling stories on the web.
Incorporating ads - For our international users, who already see advertisements on our pages, we wanted to do a better job of incorporating them into the page design, and that's made easier with the wider pages.
Better presentation of video and audio - As I've mentioned previously, we are introducing embedded audio and video on the site – so that you can watch and listen within the page, rather than in a separate player. This should significantly improve ease of use, and should also enhance your experience when following a story – the text, stills, graphics and video should work better together as an integrated whole – and our journalists will be able to adapt their storytelling to make best use of video within the narrative, rather than apart from it. To coincide with this new development, the way we signpost video and audio from the main pages is also changing slightly – we are moving it higher up the page, and displaying the links more simply, replacing the multiple options and expandable "stacker" area on the page (which, some may recall, a number of you weren't too keen on from the outset).
TV and radio news programmes - We're creating an area on the front pages where we can show you highlights from the great range of journalism produced each day by the BBC's news and current affairs programmes on TV and radio. Here we'll be able to link consistently to the best of their audio and video offerings, also to related text articles and to the programmes' own websites, which are going to be undergoing changes and improvements too.So have a look around, and let us know what you think. I hope you like what we've done so far. Meanwhile, work is continuing – to widen the rest of the pages across the site (there will be a period when they aren't all the same – but we're bringing the rest into line as fast as we can) and work will also continue to build in the other improvements and new features we have planned in the coming months.
CTA is organizing an international seminar on the implications of global climate change for sustainable agricultural production in ACP countries. The seminar will focus on the effects of climate change on agricultural production systems. A series of cross-cutting issues (land degradation, pest and disease, renewable energy/ bio fuels, lack of water management, food security, migration and impact on traditional ways of life) will be used to analyze the implications of climate change for rural livelihoods.
In order to maximize information sharing and sensitize decision makers, CTA is launching a call for ACP journalists to collect local stories and perspectives on the various topics covered by the seminar.
Journalists are asked to submit a short proposal, outlining their ideas. These pitches will be reviewed by a panel of experts who will select the best 15 story proposals. CTA will then commission the articles (and offer a fee of Euro 120) and an editorial coordinator will coach the journalists.
The articles will be featured on the seminar website and sent out to a wide Media community for information sharing. Writers of the best 2 articles will be invited to work on the daily coverage of the seminar, to be held October 26-31, 2008, and produce a daily digest of short articles and interviews with participants and presenters. Travel, accommodation, visa, per diem and a financial compensation will be offered.
Applicants can propose either a story or an interview. They should base their material on the following issues: How climate change affects agriculture in their country (focus on one system)? What have been the consequences for rural livelihoods? How do agriculture and climate change interact? Solutions - mitigation and adaptation – proposed by researchers and farmer communities? What would be the role of decision makers and policies in mitigating impact?
Articles must be strictly related to climate change. Preference will be given to proposals that highlight local perspectives and voices, showcase existing research or adaptation initiatives and feature real people working in the field (producers, NGO staff, climate change experts). We are not interested in articles that focus on future scenarios.
Send us a proposal of 250 words maximum before April 21st.
Journalists should meet the following criteria:
- Be nationals of an ACP country;
- Experienced journalist (send a brief description of your profile)
- Have the capacity to publish the article in the local media (please quote media and editor)
Contact us at email@example.com;
For more information, check http://ctaseminar2008.cta.int/
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The service, called GeoSearch News lets users specify a place-of-interest and returns mapped search results presented in order of relevance - as determined by a combination of keywords and the specified location.
Journalism.co.uk reported in December that Reuters had started using MetaCarta to experiment with a mapping service to help users visualise breaking news by linking its online stories geographically.
The Reuters' maps appeared beside articles on the site's US news channel, plotting stories on world map according to the places mention.
By rolling over pinpoints on the embedded Microsoft Virtual Earth map, users were given a location and news headline linked to specific articles.
Similar technology has now been put to wider use listing geographically a series of international, regional and topic specific news publishers and bloggers.
"It [GeoSearch News] combines the unique power of geographic search with keyword search and is the single place to find current news stories, from a wide variety of sources, about any place, quickly," said Rick Hutton, Vice President of Content Services at MetaCarta.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is making a new version of its Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents available to bloggers today to mark Online Free Expression Day.
The handbook offers practical advice and techniques on how to create a blog, make entries and get the blog to show up in search engine results. It gives clear explanations about blogging for all those whose online freedom of expression is subject to restrictions, and it shows how to sidestep the censorship measures imposed by certain governments, with a practical example that demonstrates the use of the censorship circumvention software Tor.
The leaders of authoritarian countries are becoming more and suspicious of bloggers, these men and women who, although not journalists, publish news and information online and who, worse still, often tackle subjects the so-called traditional media dare not cover. In some countries, blogs have become an important new source of news. It is to protect this source that Reporters Without Borders has updated its handbook.
Download the Handbook at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26187
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he would change his internet provider if it introduced such a system.
Plans by leading internet providers to use Phorm, a company which tracks web activity to create personalised adverts, have sparked controversy.
Sir Tim said he did not want his ISP to track which websites he visited.
"I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that's not going to get to my insurance company and I'm going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they've figured I'm looking at those books," he said.
Sir Tim said his data and web history belonged to him.
I think consumers rights in this are very important - we haven't seen the results of these systems being used
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
He said: "It's mine - you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return."
Phorm has said its system offers security benefits which will warn users about potential phishing sites - websites which attempt to con users into handing over personal data.
The advertising system created by Phorm highlights a growing trend for online advertising tools - using personal data and web habits to target advertising.
Social network Facebook was widely criticised when it attempted to introduce an ad system, called Beacon, which leveraged people's habits on and off the site in order to provide personal ads.
The company was forced to give customers a universal opt out after negative coverage in the media.
Sir Tim added: "I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn't control which websites I go to, it doesn't monitor which websites I go to."
Talk Talk has said its customers would have to opt in to use Phorm, while the two other companies which have signed up - BT and Virgin - are still considering both opt in or opt out options.
Sir Tim said he supported an opt-in system.
"I think consumers rights in this are very important. We haven't seen the results of these systems being used."
We should look out for snags in the future - things can change so fast on the internet
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Privacy campaigners have questioned the legality of ISPs intercepting their customers' web-surfing habits.
But the Home Office in the UK has drawn up guidance which suggests the ISPs will conform with the law if customers have given consent.
Sir Tim also said the spread of social networks like Facebook and MySpace was a good example of increasing involvement in the web. But he had a warning for young people about putting personal data on these sites.
"Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it's all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well."
But he said he had tried out several of the sites, and thought they might in the end be even more popular with the elderly than with young people.
Sir Tim was on a short visit to Britain from his base at MIT in Boston, during which he met government ministers, academics and major corporations, to promote a new subject, Web Science.
This is a multi-disciplinary effort to study the web and try to guide its future. Sir Tim explained that there were now more web pages than there are neurons in the human brain, yet the shape and growth of the web were still not properly understood.
"We should look out for snags in the future," he said, pointing to the way email had been swamped by spam as an example of how things could go wrong. "Things can change so fast on the internet."But he promised that what web scientists would produce over the coming years "will blow our minds".
Yesterday the powerful World Association of Newspapers (http://www.wan-press.org) (WAN) issued a rather terse statement (http://www.wan-press.org/article16666.html) , calling on Google "to respect the rights of contentcreators" and embrace a new access protocol for search engines indexing Web sites, known as the Automated Content Access Protocol (http://www.the-acap.org/) (ACAP).
ACAP is a proposed search engine protocol for accessing publishers' sites, created by the publishing industry under WAN's leadership. (See previous Tidbits coverage (http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=133763) .)
How ACAP works: Publishers place ACAP code on their servers that controls search engine access. Currently the robots.txt (http://www.robotstxt.org/) method does this -- but WAN says that protocol is too simplistic and does not give publishers enough options. Furthermore, robots.txt is not a gatekeeping mechanism that online publishers have a stake in. The current access protocol was something imposed on them by search engines years ago.
WAN claims that publishers in 16 countries are known to have already implemented ACAP. (WAN's membership includes news agencies, book and magazine publishers, libraries, and search engines as well as newspaper publishers.)
In the statement, WAN president Gavin O'Reilly implied that Google's reluctance to accept ACAP is as a result of "its own commercial self-interest" -- adding that the search engine behemoth should "not glibly throw mistruths about." This is the first salvo in what will probably become a key battle between Google and media players in the next few years.
WAN also claimed that Google's European executive Rob Jonas (who was incorrectly referred to as "Ron" instead of "Rob" in WAN's statement) implied that Google would not embrace ACAP. At a December 2007 conference (http://www.journalism.co.uk/2/articles/531181.php) , Jonas reportedly said that the current robots.txt protocol "provides everything most publishers need" -- indicating that the search engine is happy with the status quo.
The very same Rob Jonas was invited to the big annual WAN conference in Cape Town (http://www.capetown2007.co.za/home.php) last year. At the conference, Google was both slammed and praised (http://www.matthewbuckland.com/?p=285) by many publishers.
Personally, I think this struggle is fundamentally about money. (What else could it be?) WAN probably will contend that the real issue is controlling access and respecting their rights. However, controlling access means that publishers would eventually be in a position to charge Google to crawl or index their content, even in aggregated form.
I can can see both sides of the current struggle: The argument against Google: Why should Google aggregate and list content it does not pay for? Content that comes from publishers has a cost associated with it. The argument for Google: How else should a search engine behave? It must aggregate headlines and blurbs in order to send traffic to sites. Arguably Google News (http://www.google.com/news) is a competing news brand, presenting content that belongs to other news sites. But the search engine has also been very careful NOT to monetize Google News by displaying Adsense ads there -- a move that would infuriate publishers, who could then claim that Google is directly profiting from their content.
WAN also should be careful. Although it represents a powerful publishing lobby of newspapers and online publishers, the publishing community is anything but united on this issue. Google may aggregate publisher content, but it is also a huge source of traffic (and in some cases, revenue) publishers. Many online publishers would be reluctant to give that up -- especially smaller and mid-size publishers that rely more heavily on Google.
Credit : Matthew Buckland http://www.poynter.org
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
MCLEAN, Va., March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- USA TODAY announces the launch of a new online consumer advertising campaign. The campaign will feature banner advertising within online ad networks, internet portals, social networks and on entertainment, leisure and lifestyle websites. The campaign encourages consumers to become active members of the USA TODAY online community and was developed by Arnold Worldwide.
"This campaign is an invitation to join in the conversation at USATODAY.com," said Susan Lavington, senior vice president of marketing, USA TODAY. "USA TODAY truly pioneered media-driven social network applications and we embrace and encourage the fact that our visitors can communicate directly with one another about topics they care about."
This campaign is part of an ongoing trade and consumer advertising campaign whose elements are tied together with the recently introduced tagline "We are all in this together." This tagline is a continuation of USA TODAY's original mission statement written 25 years ago: "To serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation." The tagline and campaign reflect USA TODAY's ability to create a common ground for all Americans and extend into the community-building elements featured on USATODAY.com including: USATODAY.com's ground-breaking network journalism application, the website's extremely popular and engaging blogs, its recently-launched widgets, and its numerous platforms and services for today's mobile consumers.
USA TODAY is the nation's top-selling newspaper. It is published via satellite at 34 locations in the USA and at four sites abroad. With a total average daily circulation of 2.3 million, USA TODAY is available worldwide. USA TODAY is published by Gannett Co., Inc. . The USA TODAY brand also includes: USATODAY.com, an award-winning news and information Web site that is updated 24 hours per day; USA TODAY Sports Weekly, a magazine for enthusiasts of college and professional football and baseball; USA TODAY Mobile, offering up-to-the minute news and information on a variety of mobile platforms and devices; and USA TODAY LIVE, the television arm of the USA TODAY brand that brings the spirit and quality of the newspaper to television.USA TODAY
Monday, March 10, 2008
New Media, New Entrepreneurs and New ICT Opportunities in Emerging Markets-United Nations Meets Web 2.0
The Global Alliance for ICT and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA-GAID) will organize an event, entitled "United Nations Meets Web 2.0 - New Media, New Entrepreneurs and New ICT Opportunities in Emerging Markets", on 25-26 March 2008, in Conference Room IV of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This event is second in a series of intimate, interactive and action-oriented meetings organized by UNDESA-GAID with ICT leaders, who create new and innovative technologies.
In February 2007, the Global Alliance organized "United Nations Meets Silicon Valley" in Santa Clara, California, which explored how the technology industry and business community in Silicon Valley can bolster development. Attended by prominent members of industry, academia, and the venture capital community alongside members of the Strategy Council of the Global Alliance, the meeting discussed challenges and partnerships between the public and private sectors in the area of ICT for development.
"UN Meets Web 2.0" is a follow up to the meeting in Silicon Valley and will be held in New York City, a bastion for global finance, and staged at the United Nations, which serves as a gateway to encourage technology and investment to flow into the world's developing communities.
The event will consist of a series of policy dialogues and panel sessions on the first day, showcasing a variety of perspectives on key issues, including the use of technology to drive development; understanding what is in the mind of ICT entrepreneurs; and how the new media and content are shaping the landscapes of business and economics in developing countries. The second day will include an Investors Forum, showcasing emerging business and investment opportunities in information and communication technologies in developing nations, including ICT initiatives from countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, the Pacific, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe.
Participants will learn how new media and content are shaping the landscapes of business, economics and policy in developing countries; learn about global ICT opportunities; and understand what is in the mind of ICT entrepreneurs and investors. Participants will also have an opportunity to watch for the next "mega-venture" to champion doing business with the "Base of the Pyramid." They will also hear about financing solutions from a range of well-known investment firms.
The event will be attended by representatives of governments, business and industry, academia and professional institutions, non-governmental organizations and media.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Internet is the top source of news for nearly half of Americans; Survey finds two-thirds dissatisfied with the quality of journalism
Two thirds of Americans - 67% - believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, a new We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows.
The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities.
Meanwhile, the online survey documented the shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet - most dramatically among so-called digital natives - people under 30 years old.
Nearly half of respondents (48%) said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, an increase from 40% who said the same a year ago. Younger adults were most likely to name the Internet as their top source - 55% of those age 18 to 29 say they get most of their news and information online, compared to 35% of those age 65 and older. These oldest adults are the only age group to favor a primary news source other than the Internet, with 38% of these seniors who said they get most of their news from television. Overall, 29% said television is their main source of news, while fewer said they turn to radio (11%) and newspapers (10%) for most of their news and information. Just 7% of those age 18 to 29 said they get most of their news from newspapers, while more than twice as many (17%) of those age 65 and older list newspapers as their top source of news and information.
Web sites are regarded as a more important source of news and information than traditional media outlets - 86% of Americans said Web sites were an important source of news, with more than half (56%) who view these sites as very important. Most also view television (77%), radio (74%), and newspapers (70%) as important sources of news, although fewer than say the same about blogs (38%).
The Zogby Interactive survey of 1,979 adults nationwide was conducted Feb. 20-21, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points. The survey results will be featured at this week's fourth-annual We Media Forum and Festival in Miami, hosted by the University of Miami School of Communication and organized and produced by iFOCOS, a Reston, Va.-based media think tank (www.ifocos.org). This is the second year of the survey.
"For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry's business challenges - or maybe a consequence of them," said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. "Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present. Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news - so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex. They need to invest in new products and services - and they have. But they've also got to invest in quality, influence and impact. They need to invest in journalism that makes a difference in people's lives. That's a moral and leadership challenge - and a business opportunity for whoever can meet it."
The survey finds the Internet not only outweighs television, radio, and newspapers as the most frequently used and important source for news and information, but Web sites were also cited as more trustworthy than more traditional media sources - nearly a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television (21%) and radio (15%).
Other findings from the survey include:
- Although the vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism (64%), overall satisfaction with journalism has increased to 35% in this survey from 27% who said the same in 2007.
- Both traditional and new media are viewed as important for the future of journalism - 87% believe professional journalism has a vital role to play in journalism's future, although citizen journalism (77%) and blogging (59%) are also seen as significant by most Americans.
- Very few Americans (1%) consider blogs their most trusted source of news, or their primary source of news (1%).
- Three in four (75%) believe the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism.
- 69% believe media companies are becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition, while 17% believe they are the right size to adequately compete.
Republicans (79%) and political independents (75%) are most likely to feel disenchanted with conventional journalism, but the online survey found 50% of Democrats also expressed similar concerns. Those who identify themselves as "very conservative" were among the most dissatisfied, with 89% who view traditional journalism as out of touch.
For more on the study, and to comment on its implications, visit: www.ifocos.org
For a complete methodological statement on this survey, please visit:
Monday, March 03, 2008
The Newswatch (http://www.newswatch.in/) probe, which tracked 30 news sources across the Indian media, also looked specifically at the front pages of ten editions of eight newspapers that the launch of the report 'Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India: 2008' generated. Revelation: only three featured the story as its lead; in one it was the second lead but prominently displayed. "This study is not meant to debate whether the dip in tiger numbers is a newsworthy and significant issue. That it is indeed so, is an incontrovertible truth," said the Newswatch editor, Subir Ghosh.
"The stories," the probe found, "did not devote too many words to the news. The mean word count was 376.13. Almost one-third failed to mention where the tiger census report was unveiled. The report was a joint publication of NTCA and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). But, just six said so. Only four of the 25 that quoted R Gopal referred to him correctly as member secretary NTCA. The rest got it wrong."
The NTCA/WII survey had an error coefficient of 17.43 per cent. The number of tigers could vary from 1,165 to 1,657. This aspect was significant, but was rendered insignificant by half the publications tracked. Counting was not carried out in three tiger reserves. This fact was statistically important, but more than half the stories ignored this point. The NTCA/WII report talked of three primary causes for the alarming tiger number decline; close to one-fourth missed out on this point as well.
The Newswatch study, Tail tell tales, has been published under the slug 'Contentious', which would be a series of reports that would be content analysis accounts of the news media. For the complete PDF version, go to: http://www.newswatch.in/research/262/
This study was conducted over a six-day period starting the day of the report launch. It was meant to be a qualitative analysis, not a quantitative one. The idea was to look at the way the news media covered the issue, and not to quantify the exact number of publications that did a story.
The tracking of stories was done by browsing through the websites of news establishments as well as monitoring stories through Google News. In all, 30 stories were selected to be analysed for the 'breaking news' category. The 'breaking news' in this case is not the same as that in a live medium like television, radio or the Internet. In the Newswatch studies, 'breaking news' is the first story of an incident —in this case, the launch of the report by NTCA on February 12, 2008.
Over 200 stories were identified in the first round. Over two-thirds of these were rejected for being duplicates — these had their origins in agency creeds. Initially, a five-day period was chosen. But since newspapers needed to be given a day's leeway, the study had to look at stories that were published between February 12 and 17, 2008. There was also a need to see how the news-break was being followed by different publications. In the five-day follow-up period, only 36 news items could be tracked down across the publications monitored.
The stories selected for the analysis were coded on basis of over 20 parameters. Each of these data entries were subsequently cross-checked by two other persons to avoid errors of omission and commission. There is but one shortcoming in the study — it looks only at the English language media. This was done, or not done, only because of logistical drawbacks —lack of adequate financial resources.
Details of the report:
Size: 1 MB
For more information contact:
Subir Ghosh, Editor-Publisher, Newswatch
By E.K.Bensah II
Quite a number of Ghanaian media outlets—both print and otherwise—own websites. Rare is the website that provides the possibility of downloading digitally-recorded material. In the Ghanaian case, it is downright non-existent. I am not quite sure whether it is a technical lacuna within these organisations, or that the Ghanaian media feel there is nothing qualitative from, say, their radio stations for download. For whatever mysterious reason, the state of the Ghanaian media insofar as facilitation of ICT tools and applications, such as podcasts, remain downright execrable.
Each time I listen to the BBC, which I know many Ghanaian journalists are wont to listen to, I am both quizzed and mad. I feel quizzed because I cannot for the life of me understand why despite the fact that some journalists enjoy the privilege of being sent out of the country to consolidate their journalism skills, their training fails to translate into dexterity and/or an appreciation for the current ICT tools. I am mad because a number of these tools that are part and parcel of what is considered the "New Media" are free! If any of us are able to become, say, a blogger overnight, you can imagine how a journalist – writing in his capacity as a private person – can maximise the use of blogs. If that journalist works for a radio station, you can imagine how much he/she can benefit from the use of podcasts by the radio or television station.
Pleasure of podcasts
Put simply, podcasts are recorded digital media files – usually audio – that can be downloaded onto any device, including mobile phones. It is exclusively distributed over the Internet, often using syndication feeds, for playback on portable media players and personal computers. The term is what online encyclopaedia Wikipedia calls a 'portmanteau' term of "i-pod" and, it is assumed, "broadcast". The Apple I-pod is the brand of portable device for which "scripts" were developed. In turn, these scripts enabled podcasts to be automatically transferred to a mobile device after they were downloaded.
Listen to the BBC World Service and within each hour, you are bound to hear remonstrations by both the station's presenters and continuity alike to visit the world broadcaster's podcast page, so that you can enjoy and re-visit the rich experience that the World Service offers. It has been advertised so many times you might get the impression that these podcasts are for sale. In fact, they are absolutely free, and can range from a minimum of 5 minutes to more than 60 minutes.
Not just for radio
It would be erroneous to believe, on the strength of the BBC, that only radio can offer podcasts. The truth of the matter is that if you look closely to how the quality Western media is doing it, even newspapers are doing it. Far be it for me to plug London's Guardian newspaper, but you cannot avoid it, especially when it's been, for a long time, dubbed the best online newspaper. The website has a podcast page, where you can obtain audio downloads on Money; Culture; US elections; Travel; Environment, etc. You name it; the site has a podcast for it—even if it's only three minutes long. In my view, this is innovation at its best: taking the print platform and revolutionising it to the extent that it becomes real—without being too in your face. Surely the Ghanaian media is capable of this as well?
When UEFA-licensed coach Nana Agyeman suggested on a private radio station (with a "refreshing lifestyle") three weeks ago that sports journalists were generally uneducated in the journalism profession, he incurred the wrath of many. The truth of the matter is that journalism has ironically had bad press for so long –- what with solidarity money, or sole, to write stories; bad pay, and whatnot –- that when journalists are not seen to make the rest of Ghanaian's lives easier by making it pleasurable to read, watch, and listen to practitioners of their profession, they will only go to reinforce an image of their profession that is far from positive.
Let's face it: podcasts are not only supposed to educate us; they are supposed to make our lives easier. Issues with internet connectivity notwithstanding, last time I looked, most internet cafes enabled you download from the 'Net and even from and unto your storage devices. Even without a connection at work or in your home, if you knew you could re-listen to your popular breakfast, or lunchtime show, by way of a podcast, I could imagine you would end up feeling both sated and dedicated to your station of choice—knowing they not only care about the kind of programmes they produce, but want you to be further interested in giving you the opportunity to listen again. To boot, your productivity would inevitably be boosted knowing you would not make too much effort to listen to a programme on the hour, especially when you can catch it again—albeit without contributions by text and email you might want to make.
Future for Media can be Podcasting
Truth be told, the tectonic shifts in technology and the media is spawning not just a whole slew of terminology that was alien to us a decade ago, but a whole phalanx of media practitioners that are forced to become media warriors—armed with new ideas and new skills on top of the traditional ones they know. Despite the fact that organisations like the Ghanaian-based PenPlusBytes—Ghana's only Institute of ICT Journalism—has regularly offered training to Ghanaian journalists, the commitment by these journalists has been this side short of poor. I do not believe for one moment that aspersions should merely be cast on the individuals, for opportunities, in theory, ought to be made by the management of these media institutions. If that is failing, that it can only be incumbent on these media-warriors to grab up their skills and interest and teach themselves within the information society.
From my experience, the saturation of information is such that there are little excuses these days to be technologically-illiterate, especially when you are a practitioner of the proverbial Fourth Estate. Journalism, surely, ought to not simply be about re-hashing press releases, and waxing incessantly about issues that are bound to polarize us, but ought, in my view, to be about formatting, or packaging, the information within society by using the information society to inform society in the traditional gate-keeper fashion. Let's be clear: podcasting alone will not do this, but undoubtedly, it can revolutionise the media and, by extension, society into keeping in tune with what the twenty-first century has to offer.
Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 March 2008, the company has said.
In the mid-1990s, as the commercial web began to take off, the browser was used by more than 90% of people online.
Its market share has since slipped to just 0.6% as other browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox have eroded its user base.
The company recommends that users upgrade their browser to either Firefox or Flock, which are both built on the same underlying technologies as Navigator.
"I think we represent the hope that was of Netscape," Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation which coordinates development of Firefox, told BBC News.
"We have picked up many of the things that Netscape launched but we've taken them further in terms of openness and public participation."
Ms Baker was one of the first employees at Netscape in 1994.
Netscape was created by Marc Andreessen who as a student had co-authored Mosaic, the first popular web browser.
His company Netscape Communications Corporation released the first version in 1994.
According to Shawn Hardin, President and CEO of Flock, Netscape played an important role in making the internet "a relevant mass market phenomenon".
"Netscape had a critical role in taking all of these zeros and ones - this very academic and technical environment - and giving it a graphical user interface where an average person could come online and consume information," he told BBC News.
"During its halcyon days it really felt like the internet and Netscape were really the same thing," he said.
Other companies capitalised on Netscape's success, notably Microsoft, which began to bundle IE with its Windows operating systems.
Although this led to legal wrangles over anti-competitive behaviour, IE now dominates the browser landscape with an 80% market share.
As a result, Netscape became unviable.
"While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer," said Tom Drapeau on the Netscape blog last year, when the demise of the browser was first announced.
For the past week Netscape users have been shown a message alerting them to the end of support for the browser.
"Given AOL's current business focus, support for Netscape browsers will be discontinued as of March 1st, 2008," the message reads.
It then suggests users upgrade to either Flock or Firefox.
Firefox is the main competitor to IE, particularly in Europe where it has a 28% market share, according to some statistics.
The open source browser's development is coordinated by the Mozilla foundation, set up by Netscape staff made redundant in 2003.
It has had more than 500 million downloads worldwide and in countries such as Finland it is the most popular browser.
"Competition is what brings quality," said Ms Baker.
Flock describes itself as "the social web browser" and allows people to see feeds from community websites, such as Flickr and Facebook, and post to blogs without having to navigate to the page.
"There are lots of ways that people are engaging in having a conversation and Flock is very focused on making that as effortless and convenient as possible," said Mr Hardin.
However, not all Netscape users are happy about having to change browser.
"I'm sad. Flock still needs improvement and I am not happy with Firefox's interface. I'm [an] orphan!" read one post on the Netscape blog.
Others who posted comments on the blog predicted the browser will make a return.
"Netscape is a wonderful browser, and it will be so in the future," read one.