Friday, June 27, 2008

Delaying News in the Era of the Internet

WHEN the NBC News host Tim Russert died on June 13, NBC tried to hold back the news from going public for more than an hour to notify his family vacationing in Italy and presumably to prepare for what became six hours of coverage on its cable news outlet, MSNBC.

And King Canute, ancient legend has it, tried to hold back the tide.

Mr. Russert collapsed from a heart attack in NBC's Washington newsroom around 1:40 p.m.; he was treated there and then taken to a hospital, arriving at 2:23 and being pronounced dead shortly thereafter, according to press accounts. The network, in the voice of its respected former anchor, Tom Brokaw, announced the news at 3:39.

Long before Mr. Russert's death was reported on air, however, it was flashing across the Internet via the text-messaging service Twitter and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Television networks have a tradition of allowing a network suffering a death to make the announcement first. Other news outlets, including The New York Times and The New York Post, were about five minutes earlier in reporting Mr. Russert's death for their Web sites.

n Wikipedia, Mr. Russert's page was updated at 3:01 p.m. — adding the date of death and turning present-tense verbs into the past tense almost 40 minutes before the NBC announcement. The entry was particularly influential since many journalists had heard of Mr. Russert's becoming stricken, but did not know the outcome. If some turned to Wikipedia to refresh themselves about Mr. Russert, they found an article that seemed to confirm what many had been hearing.

"We were not prepared to say anything until all the family had heard," said Allison Gollust, an NBC News spokeswoman. "The last thing we wanted to do was to have the family discover this on the air." She said NBC had asked the other networks to hold back and they readily agreed.

"Before we reported it, I remember someone saying it's on Wikipedia," she said, which had them "flabbergasted."

Holding back the news certainly isn't the norm for journalists. Keith Olbermann, the MSNBC host, said on his prime-time show "Countdown" that Friday: "We wanted to be sure, absolutely certain, that every member of Tim's family who needed to be told in person in private had that opportunity, was given that small piece of grace today. Other organizations did not do that."

For better or worse, it seems that even NBC News cannot protect the family of one of its own in that way.

Looking at the detailed records of editing changes recorded by Wikipedia, it quickly emerged that the changes came from Internet Broadcasting Services, a company in St. Paul, Minn., that provides Web services to a variety of companies, including local NBC TV stations.

An I.B.S. spokeswoman said on Friday that "a junior-level employee made updates to the Wikipedia page upon learning of Mr. Russert's passing, thinking it was public record." She added that the company had "taken the necessary measures with the employee and apologized to NBC." NBC News said it was told the employee was fired.

The instinct of the junior-level employee, presumably, was to correct the record on Wikipedia and share knowledge with the wider world. That flash of idealism was very brief; 11 minutes later, according to Wikipedia records, someone at another Internet Broadcasting computer deleted the date of death and turned all the past tenses back to present tenses. Only minutes later, of course, none of this would matter.

With the spread of online outlets like blogs and MySpace pages and citizen journalists, it can be easily forgotten that the only thing that the Internet cannot guarantee you is an interested audience.

Online journalists like Matt Drudge and Perez Hilton rely on the fact that their scoops will be read by influential members of the news media. But for the other self-made reporters out there, collective enterprises like Wikipedia, which allows anyone to make an edit, or the liberal blog DailyKos, which allows any registered user to post a diary, offer a rare chance to speak to a large audience.

In the case of Wikipedia, this is emphatically not what the site was meant to do. One of the principles of the site is No Original Research — every fact must have appeared somewhere reputable before it can be repeated. (This cause can seem an obsession as stickler editors patrol the site flagging unattributed facts with the label "citation needed.")

Yet, time and again Wikipedia has been the place where news has broken, usually from anonymous writers who report a death on a person's article page, like that of the feminist writer Andrea Dworkin in 2005, or, a year later, the killing of the film director and actress Adrienne Shelley in Greenwich Village.

The lesson seems to be this: as long as there is news, people will try to share it. And new technology promises to turn the process into a tide that can swallow us up, good intentions and all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

'Pay-per-view' is future of online journalism, says Andrew Keen

'Pay-per-page view' is the future of journalism, Andrew Keen, journalist and Cult of the Amateur author, told an industry conference today.

The 'Gawker model', where contributors to the blog aggregator are paid in relation to the number of page views their copy generates, is 'the new reality of journalism', Keen told the Media Futures Conference.

Newspapers will inevitably adopt this model as online metrics become more sophisticated, Keen said.

Reed Business Information has discussed the merits of such a pay scheme for journalists working online, Jim Muttram, an RBI managing director, told an industry event earlier this year.

Adopting this pay structure will affect the quality of the journalism produced online, Keen said.

"I'm not criticising technology, but this so-called personalisation and accuracy of technology will lead to this," said Keen.

"When you have more and more ability to define how many people are looking at your work, you'll be paid accordingly and it'll result in you writing to be popular."

Fellow panellist Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS, responded saying that quality was not in decline.

"There's an incredible surplus of good journalism on and offline being watched, listened to and consumed more than ever before. The idea that we are heading towards some catastrophe of quality isn't true," Beckett said

Friday, June 20, 2008

UK journalists leading the way with blogs and video, says European study

Journalists in the UK are more likely to be producing video content and blogging as part of their workload than their European counterparts, a new survey has suggested.

According to the European Digital Journalism Study, 61 per cent of UK respondents said their publications offered video or TV content as part of their online presence compared with 41 per cent of respondents from other European countries.

However, over three quarters of UK respondents said that producing additional multimedia content for the web was the biggest challenge to their jobs.

The report, which surveyed 347 journalists in nine European countries, suggested that UK journalists are leading the way with blogging as 85 per cent said journalist blogs were now a feature of their websites.

However, only 10 per cent of the overall respondents - and 14 per cent of those in the UK - said they had received training for producing multimedia content.
The research, conducted by PR firm Brands2Life and their European partners Oriella PR Network, asked broadcast, national, regional and trade media journalists in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourgh, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK questions on how the 'digital age' was affecting their work.

The study is the first of its kind to look at pan-European approaches to digital journalism and provide a snapshot of multimedia working across Europe.

In addition to writing blogs the survey also suggest that blogs have become a staple part of the journalist's newsgathering process. Around a quarter of those surveyed regularly quoted from blogs and a third using them to source stories.

The UK respondents in particular cited using blogs and other new media as a source for stories as one of the biggest changes to their work in the 'digital age'.

The study found the biggest impact of digital growth on journalists' work was the amount of content they are now expected to produce and an increased importance on exclusive content.

Journalists surveyed in the UK followed this trend with 76 per cent saying producing more content is the biggest change - compared to an average of 46 per cent elsewhere in Europe.

"The survey results reveal a counter-intuitive insight. Journalists are now expected to produce more, have less time to research stories and are expected to learn and incorporate new media techniques, such as podcasts and pieces to camera into their everyday routine," stated the report.

"However, despite the increased demands this change is felt to have had a positive impact on the quality of their work."

The results of the survey are available in full on the European Digital Journalism Study site.

source :

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Online Journalism Review ceases publication


After a decade, the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication has suspended publication of OJR.

One of OJR's goals over the years has been to help mid-career journalists make a successful transition from other media to online reporting and production. I'm pleased to say that USC Annenberg will continue to provide support in that area, through the Knight Digital Media Center. I encourage OJR readers to click over to the KDMC website and its blogs, if you are not already a regular reader there.

The decision to suspend OJR for now means that I have left the University of Southern California. But I am not going offline. I will continue to write, daily, about new media and journalism at my new website, I hope that many of you will click over and visit me there.

Finally, on behalf of OJR, I want to thank you. Thank you for your readership, tips, corrections, kind words and support. And I want to wish you success as you work to build engaging, informative and sustainable websites, to better serve your audiences.

So... in that spirit, I suppose that I will borrow a classic sign-off from the world of journalism, one that's been borrowed by another recently:

Good night, and good luck.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New reader tool on online journalism review (ojr)

By Robert Niles: I wanted to let you know that OJR now allows its registered members to maintain individual blogs on

Just click the "Post Blog Entry" link near the top of the right navigation rail on any OJR page, to get started. You can find links to all the most recent reader-submitted blog entries under the "Recent Blogs" header on the right rail. OJR's editors and I will read all the submissions, then select ones to go on the OJR front page feed.

You can start a free blog just about anywhere on the Web, from and beyond. And many of you likely already have a blog. So why would you post anything on OJR?

It's simple: for the readers. A front-page post on OJR will reach several thousand readers via the website, our e-mail newsletter and RSS feeds. OJR readers aren't your average Web surfers, either. They include editors, entrepreneurs and bloggers at many top newspaper and independent news websites.

So, if you want to draw the industry's attention to some really neat new work from your shop, you want to comment on something you've seen in the industry that's bugging you, or you want to rant or rave about a new tool or widget you've tried, we think OJR provides a pretty good platform for you to do that.

Thank you for reading OJR, and, soon, I hope to thank you for posting here, too!

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian To Provide Training for Aspiring Journalists

University or college graduates looking for a career in journalism can apply for a one-year training programme at the Mail & Guardian (M&G) newspaper in Johannesburg from August 2008 to July 2009. The deadline to apply is 16 June.
M&G offers the programme for graduates in journalism or a related field. Trainees will work for both the M&G newspaper and M&G Online.
Prospective candidates should have a strong news instinct, excellent general knowledge and a good grasp of the English language, as well as be computer literate and have a valid driver's license.
Applicants must be available for the selection process in Johannesburg during the first week of July.
For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trends in Newsrooms 2008 - Best practices for newsrooms in the digital age

The fourth annual report from the World Editors Forum, Trends in Newsrooms 2008, offers you practical solutions for the many challenges facing newspapers in the digital age, and defines guidelines for dealing with these challenges.

This year's report includes an in-depth focus on integrated newsrooms. In three dedicated chapters, you will find detailed case studies of some of the world's most innovative integrated newsrooms, as well as studies of non-integrated newsrooms that have streamlined their print and online workflows. The in-depth focus also features special debates between top-newsroom executives who have successfully led their newspapers to multimedia excellence.

The eight major trends covered in Trends in Newsrooms 2008 are:
1.    The integrated vs. the non-integrated print/ online newsrooms
2.    Complete media convergence: print, TV, video and radio
3.    The most effective means of training the new newsroom
4.    Taking advantage of User Generated Content
5.    Print reporters becoming video journalists
6.    Mobile journalism reconnecting the newsroom with readers
7.    Pure online publications
8.    New Fusion Design: Web pages inspire print and vice versa
Additionally, the report contains the second annual Newsroom Barometer, a survey about the state of newspapers in the digital age answered by over 700 editors-in-chief from around the world. The Barometer was conducted in conjunction with Zogby International and Reuters.

You will find the report's table of contents as well as excerpts and order forms at

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What are the current trends in online journalism?

I think we are well past the point where online journalism is a trend in journalism. Time to be a little more discerning and take a look at what's important, right now, in online journalism. I'll divide it up into three sections: Gathering the News, Augmenting the News and Delivering the News.

Medium of the new journalist

'We all perceive online journalism as the future ? What we're waiting for is for online advertising to become a serious revenue source'

Famous 20th-century newspaperman Ernest Hemingway once described a good day's work as "wearing down seven number-two pencils." How would the writer measure a journalist's success in the 21st century, when recruiters look for reporters with "a proven track record of journalistic excellence, both digital and in print," as a recent job posting emphasized?

"If the medium of a different generation of journalism students was the newspaper or the six o'clock newscast, for this generation it's online," says Mike Gasher, director and associate professor in the department of journalism at Concordia University in Montreal.

As industry demands change, it's time to bid farewell to the image of a pencil and pad-toting reporter, he says.

"We all perceive online journalism as the future … What we're all waiting for is people, especially in Canada, to start making money off of their online news operations, for online advertising to become a serious revenue source, and I think you're going to see an explosion."

The expansion of the Internet as a platform for journalism is a mixed blessing for those in the media industry -- on one hand, it provides a wider audience and easier access to information (where would today's reporter be without Google's search engine?), yet forging into the new online world also increases pressure for professionals to be more versatile and resourceful.

As long as young journalism graduates realize that demand, they will find a whole new set of opportunities, says Joyce Smith, associate professor and director of online curriculum at Ryerson University's School of Journalism.

"What online has done is it's shaken everything else out of complacency," she says.

"I've had many more job offers and internship possibilities in the last two years than I've ever had for people who have had some sort of online or multimedia background of training."

Journalism schools across Canada are acknowledging the shift, giving Web journalism more emphasis in their curriculum to better prepare the next generation.

After a couple of years offering an online specialization in both Ryerson's undergraduate and graduate (now a Master's) programs, the school is in the midst of de-streaming to allow more choices for students. Ms. Smith says the change reflects the fact employers are looking for graduates who are competent in many areas -- which will be helpful when working online. "It'll just be: Do you know how to take pictures, are you a really good editor, can you write well, can you report well? And the actual medium is going to become less and less important," Ms. Smith says of employer demands.

Alfred Hermida, a pioneer of the BBC news Web site, was recruited by the University of British Columbia, which offers a Master of Journalism degree, two years ago to beef up the program's online content. "That was an element that was missing from the curriculum here... Journalism education has to change to take account of the impact that new technologies are having on the social, cultural, economic practices," he says.

Compared to media outlets in the United States and Europe, Canadian media are playing catchup with the value they give the Internet as a platform for journalism, Mr. Hermida notes.

"If you are in the news business now, you should be investing in these digital platforms and you should be paying journalists who work there more because you are trying to attract the audiences of the future," he says. " It's still very much that the Internet is being considered as an add-on."

Recent journalism graduate Kristina Jarvis says it was while on an exchange program in Denmark that her online skills were finely tuned. When she returned to finish her undergraduate degree at Ryerson, she switched her focus from traditional print media to online journalism. "I've always been interested in the Internet, I've always been interested in online and to me it seemed like the natural place to take my career."

Ms. Jarvis, who was hired for the summer to work on the Regina Leader-Post's Web site, hopes her online skills will take her "anywhere and everywhere."

Clement-Meoni Poon, who graduated last year from UBC's journalism program, had worked for a newspaper in his native Hong-Kong and as a radio reporter in Vancouver. "I was introduced to online journalism and I thought 'hey, it was sort of combining the two platforms that I worked for,' " he says.

He is now a news writer for CBC. ca's regional site in British Columbia. "I understand people don't read newspapers as much as they used to, so it's the direction to go. I believe there are more opportunities coming up in the coming years."

Like Ryerson and UBC, journalism programs at Carleton University in Ottawa and Concordia University are adapting curriculum to provide students with online skills. Mr. Gasher says Concordia faculty have been going through the curriculum with a fine-toothed comb to evaluate what skills students need: "Our students, they're very much of the online generation. There's no doubt about it, they are ready to go."



Alfred Hermida, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia's graduate school of journalism, sees more opportunities for journalists as newspapers become obsolete. "I get all my news online. I can't remember the last time I actually touched a newspaper," he says.

But his colleague David Beers, founder of online news magazine, veteran journalist and sessional instructor at UBC, warns journalism graduates: "If you take the Web as just a place to go, it's sort of like walking through a loud, buzzy and bright arcade. It's very distracting and there's no sort of rigour or standards necessarily announcing themselves," he says. "But once you know that, there are places to hang out... It's a wonderful showcase for what you can do." When job hunting, he recommends keeping the following pointers in mind: - Research [the job] ahead of time. Some postings can be misleading: Job-seekers have hopes of putting a variety of journalism skills to use online and "instead, you get there and they say 'We need you to aggregate links all day, everyday.' " - Make sure the site uses a content management system that's in wide use (such as Drupal). - Ask if you will be creating some content, as well as posting it. - Make sure there are seasoned journalists in the room. "Old-fashioned, dinosaur-type entities, who can get information out of somebody, not get sued," he says. - Don't confuse the online world with the real one: "You have to be very careful with what's on the Web," he says. Be sure to continue using real people and real-life interactions as inspiration for story ideas and double-check facts. - It's just another medium for storytelling, technical skills are still secondary.

Eva Salinas, Financial Post

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2008 Theme: Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens

2008 Theme: Citizen Journalism, Journalism for Citizens




Highway Africa, a programme of the School of Journalism at Rhodes University, will be presenting the 12th edition of the Highway Africa Conference from 8-10 September in Grahamstown, South Africa.


Highway Africa has a limited number of scholarships for practising African journalists who are keen on learning and using digital media.  PLEASE NOTE THE EMPHASIS ON PRACTISING JOURNALISTS. WE DO NOT HAVE SPONSORSHIP FOR ANY OTHER INTERESTED PARTICIPANTS OUTSIDE THIS CATEGORY.


Interested PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS should submit the following information:

  • a curriculum vitae with 2 contactable referees
  • a 300 word statement on why you are interested in attending the Highway Africa and what will be done with the skills, information and knowledge acquired
  • a letter of support from your Editor or Publisher




Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete registration and indemnity forms supplied by Highway Africa.


The decision of Highway Africa on the selection of candidates is final.


Applications should be submitted to Luthando Kiti on:  and copied to


Please do not phone to inquire about your application. We will respond to e-mail correspondence ONLY.



Our website was hacked and we are putting up key information on




Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Indian media struggling to fill jobs

It is boom time for aspiring journalists and the various journalism schools (J-schools) across the country as 24-hour television news channels sprout every other month and a slew of magazines and newspapers hit the newsstands.
But, in the midst of a media boom that has seen journalists' salaries soar as hiring managers try to fill newsrooms, there is a growing awareness of a long-ignored crisis in Indian journalism: an acute shortage of quality talent.

This might be surprising as there are around 200 colleges and universities that offer journalism programmes that are recognized by the University Grants Commission; some 400-500 additional colleges with other journalism programmes and 1,000-1,500 training programmes without degrees, according to S. Raghavachari, head of the department of broadcast journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi.

Are they prepared? Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. Journalism schools concede there is a gap in their training. (Photo courtesy: Asian College of Journalism)
But, sheer quantity has failed to deliver quality as far as the Indian journalism pipeline goes. Many of these programmes are taught by part-time journalists or professors who have not stepped into a newsroom in years. Much like journalism, journalism education in India has been an underpaid and not-well-regarded profession, often attracting those who opted out of newsrooms or were too old to be active journalists. "They have some fine teachers, but many have never stepped inside a newsroom and, therefore, are unable to provide relevant guidance," says Sunil Saxena, dean of the Online Centre for Media Studies, the first online school of journalism in India.
While some schools such as the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai and seasoned educators such as Thomas Oommen, former head of the Times School of Journalism and now head of Malayala Manorama Group-run Manorama School of Communication, or Mascom, in Kottayam, Kerala, have produced enough hireable young journalists in the past, a spurt in media outlets has sparked a feeding frenzy that has created a significant shortage of well trained, entry-level journalists. In recent years, this has then created an acute shortage of mid- and very senior-level journalists.

According to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, an industry lobby, India's print and broadcast industries are expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 14% and 22%, respectively, until 2012. While print is estimated to become a Rs28,100 crore industry by 2012, television will be a Rs60,000 crore sector.
Even this kind of growth still leaves more headroom. According to industry estimates, some 222 million Indians read a publication of any kind and only 115 million households have access to television, leaving hundreds of millions who could become media consumers.