Friday, July 25, 2008

Just Published : Open Access : Opportunities and Challenges - a Handbook

Open Access: Opportunities and Challenges – a Handbook

A Joint publication of the European Commission and the German Commission for UNESCO, 2008


The English version of the handbook, a joint publication with the European Commission's Science in Society Programme, has just been published. The publication is available in print and electronic version. The handbook aims to provide information about the opportunities and challenges offered by Open Access, and to present a wide array of issues and positions under debate. The English version of the handbook is a translation of the handbook in German, published by the German Commission for UNESCO  in 2007.


Download the Book:


More Details about the book:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Should journalism degrees still prepare students for a news industry that doesn’t want them?

J-schools are generally set up to prepare students for the mainstream news industry: print and broadcasting, with a growing focus on those industries' online arms. There's just one small problem. That industry isn't exactly splashing out on job ads at the moment…

The LA Times is cutting 150 editorial jobs and reducing pages by 15%; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cutting nearly 200 jobs; the Wall Street Journal cutting 50 jobs; Thomson Reuters axing 140 jobs; in the UK Newsquest is outsourcing prepress work to India, while also cutting jobs in York and Brighton; Reed Business Information, Trinity Mirror and IPC are all putting a freeze on recruitment, with Trinity Mirror also cancelling its graduate training scheme and cutting subbing jobs. In the past two months almost 4,000 jobs have vanished at US newspapers (Mark Potts has this breakdown of June's 1000 US redundancies). In the past ten years the number of journalists in the US is said to have gone down by 25%.

Interesting article see full story at

All Umbrage All the Time

A day rarely passes in this campaign without someone's taking grave offense to something.
Jonathan Alter

A reader logging on as KellyB last week posted a comment on a story covering the funeral of former White House spokesman Tony Snow: "Rest in peace, Tony. You were a kind, decent soul on this earth for too short a time. May God always watch over your family." But KellyB couldn't resist amending the gracious condolence with this: "—The Official Water Carrier of Barack H. Obama's Campaign."

How cordial. After a decade of waiting for the first "Internet election," it's finally here, and we're adrift from all the old-media moorings. "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one," the great critic A. J. Liebling wrote more than half a century ago. Today, of course, we're all press lords, or can be. But the "crowd-sourcing" of news cuts both ways. Like democracy itself, it can cleanse, correct and ennoble. Or it can coarsen, spread lies and degrade the national conversation.

Everything about the Web is double-edged. It's hard to believe, but YouTube wasn't even around in 2004. Now it (or other streamed video) is a godsend for anyone who wants to follow politics closely. But YouTube is also a pixilated guillotine for any public figures inclined to show a little humanity (that is, fallibility or a penchant for inconvenient truth-telling) when they step out of their house. Colin Powell told me recently that he's even had to put up with picture takers in the men's room.

Blogging is a good news/bad news story, too. Daily Kos held a convention last week in Texas full of self-congratulation. Like Thomas Paine and the ideological pamphleteers who provoked the American Revolution, bloggers help enliven and expand public debate. They are indispensable aggregators of political news.

But we're finding this works better for keeping on top of daily flaps than for learning genuinely new information. Bloggers rarely pick up the phone or go interview the middle-level bureaucrats who know the good stuff. It's a lot easier to chew over breaking stories and bash old media. Where do they get the information with which to bash? Often from, ahem, newspapers.

Which are shriveling this year. Talk is cheap and reporting is expensive. Anyone can sit at home pontificating in PJs (I've done it myself), but it costs nearly $1.5 million a year for a bureau in Baghdad. As newspapers lay off hundreds of reporters in the face of assaults on their classified advertising by the likes of Craigslist, who will actually dig for the news? A few sites (e.g., are getting into the game. But eventually, Google and other search engines will have to form consortiums to subsidize the gathering of news. Otherwise there won't be anything worth searching for.

Print is moving rapidly in exactly the wrong direction. Take Sam Zell, new owner of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. In the name of "productivity," he wants print reporters to file a lot more stories that are much shorter. Just about the only comparative advantage print journalism retains is in well-reported stories too long to be comfortably read online.

Two ironies of the new age: the Netroots demand transparency from everyone except themselves. They still usually prefer to shoot from behind a rock of anonymity. That way KellyB doesn't have to defend her (or his) unfair rap against Until this changes and the culture of the Web demands that people identify themselves, online political power will not extend beyond small-donor fund-raising (a hugely positive development this year). That's because members of Congress respond only to e-mails with names and addresses from their districts.

The second irony is that people often prefer rumors to facts. They so distrust the mainstream media that they may believe, say, lies about Obama's being a Muslim that reach their IN box from their cousin's friend's brother, whose nephew got it from his mother-in-law, who can't recall where it came from in the first place, over the careful reporting of a reputable news outlet.

But how to explain the venom of so many comment sections and e-mails? Like senior citizens suffering from dementia, Web users often fall prey to "disinhibition"—the lack of a filter for their most brutal thoughts. In the campaign, this takes the form of an umbrage explosion, where a day rarely passes without someone's taking grave offense over something.

In the pre-Web era, this was less of a problem. The New Yorker cover satirically depicting Obama as a flag-burning Muslim and Michelle as a gun-toting radical would have been seen by only a few hundred thousand subscribers, almost all of whom would have gotten the joke. Instead, in today's 24/7 news cycle, it was seen by tens of millions of people. It was the knowledge of such a big audience for the cartoon—other Americans who "wouldn't understand"—that fueled the over-the-top fury of the Obama supporters. You can't erase a powerful image from someone's mind any more than you can unring a bell.

One would have hoped that the presence of millions of little press lords on the Web would mean a much greater range of stories. Instead, Web traffic closely tracks the latest cable obsession. Even last week's specter of bank runs for the first time since the 1930s couldn't shift the focus from umbrage to substance. For two days, the Obama-New Yorker flap (and yes, I covered it, too) obliterated everything else in the media universe.

The good news for Obama (or for John McCain when he makes a gaffe) is that all these weekly flaps quickly pass. When flaps came monthly or quarterly in a campaign, they lingered in the system. Today's media feeding frenzies are the equivalent of junk food, leaving everyone immediately hungry again. The immediacy and ubiquity of the Web intensifies the binge-and-purge cycle, but it also makes it commonplace. Most voters don't notice or remember for long.

The umbrage and venom and brilliant crowd-sourced insights are all preserved forever in archives, but there's too much of it for anyone to track. By the end of this first Internet campaign, we'll know everything. And nothing.

Making a living from media consultancy

Media consultancy is a relatively new business in Nigeria. Of recent, some mass communication professionals have been making a living from offering media consultancy services to corporate organisations and individuals.

This line of business, many say, has resulted in people hiring media consultants, who package important events, among other things.

The clients of media consultants include individuals, who prefer to contract out the planning of social events.

The Chief Executive Officer, TOPCOMM, Mr. Tem-Tope Ogbeni-Awe, says media consultants are people with special skills in event packaging and management.

They are experts at managing logistics, which is not so visible, but a very important aspect of great events.

"The fact that many of them come from mass media background is an advantage," he says.

But apart from organising events on behalf of clients, he says media consultancy saves time and reduces the stress for clients.

"Media consultancy can translate into real wealth if properly managed," Ogbeni-Awe asserts.

He recalls starting the business in 2000, having practised journalism for over 15 years, in addition to venturing into publishing.

He notes that depending on the scope of the proposed firm, a prospective investor needs about N1m or more as start-up capital, although, he explains that his initial capital was less than N20,000.

According to him, a media consultancy business can be located where thriving businesses are located, such as in metropolitan cities and state capitals.

Like any other business, he says one needs to build strong contacts in the private and public sectors to win contracts.

Ogbeni-Awe submits that having viable relationship with the print and electronic media will be of tremendous help, adding, "One needs to go out there and tell the world what he does in terms of publicity, individual and corporate image projection as well as event packaging."

The success of any organisation depends on the quality of personnel it recruits, thus, he says media consultants must be educated in relevant disciplines.

Ogbeni-Awe adds that persons wishing to join this line of business must be proficient in spoken English, in addition to having exceptional writing skills and exposure to information technology.

"We are in the computer age, and media consultants generate and disseminate information regularly and this is passed on to the outside world via ICT devices.

"Therefore, getting exposed to information technology is not negotiable for media consultants," he stresses.

He says recruitment for consultancy firms can be done through direct advertisement, referrals and sometimes, through established recruitment agencies.

To excel in media consultancy, the practitioner must be innovative and willing to adapt to current trends, he says.

"You must deliver prompt services to your clients, be trustworthy and determined. You also need to attend seminars organised by other people to develop your capacity for innovation," he admonishes.

The Chief Executive Officer, NET Communications, Mr. Raphael Omoh, says he started his firm with an initial capital of N150,000 some nine years ago.

He, however, notes that a media consultancy firm of the same magnitude will require about N800,000 to set up today, considering the current economic situation in the country.

Omoh says that well trained staff of five are enough to begin a meaningful media consultancy firm.

To become prominent in the business, he says, one needs to extend his tentacles beyond attending other people's seminars for self-development.

He recommends that consultants should regularly organise seminar where current issues are discussed, adding, "You need to organise seminars occasionally for the public to, among other things, know about the existence of your firm.

"Look at economic trends in your environment, or neighbouring countries and bring out burning issues for discussion.

"Then, at the seminars, give out flyers to participants, which they can read to get information about your company. It is a big strategy for advertising your media consultancy firm."

He, however, warns that the seminars must be well packaged to attract the right audience and results.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2008

Africa Media and Broadcasting Congress 2008 - The conference will tackle strategic issues within the broadcasting community to process management strategies and provide a platform for networking and doing business  

Our themes for 2008 are:

  • The transformational role of new media. Detailing the potential to disrupt or sustain the business models of established media platforms.
  • Regulatory opportunities and threats to the multimedia revolutions
  • The future of print media and radio in a digital era
  • The future of television advertising in South Africa. Commercial prospects and implications of private free-to-air broadcasting, on-demand media and interactive search and advertising
  • Preparing Africa for the broadband revolution
  • Cutting edge technology solutions: wireless & mobile
  • Creating a unique and compelling customer experience 
  • Achieving a digital economy in Africa
New Mobile Content Day will focus on:
  • Creating value with mobile content – where are the real opportunities
  • Mobile media innovation
  • Developing customer value through mobile communication
  • Mobile Content platforms and technology 
  • Marketing Mobile Content 
  • Regulatory issues surrounding Mobile content

PEJ STUDY: The Changing Newsroom--What is Being Lost and What is being Gained in American Newspapers

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 21


Monday, July 21 — In the last three years, 85% of large daily newspapers and 52% of smaller ones have cut their staffs, according to a new comprehensive survey of editors released today. And that is only the beginning of how the American newspaper is shrinking. There are fewer pages, shorter stories, and notably fewer editors checking copy for errors. Most topics, not just foreign and national news, are getting less space and resources and are considered less important than three years ago. Stand alone business sections are disappearing. And just 5% of editors surveyed say they are very confident in their ability to envision how their newsroom will operate in five years, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.


Despite the challenges, which have intensified significantly in just the last couple months, many editors remain optimistic about the future of their industry. More than 40% say the Internet could help journalism be better than ever before. They believe their new, young, tech-savvy staffs are infusing their newsrooms with a competitive energy. And, even with the bleak financial outlook of the newspaper business, 56% of managers believe their products are better today than three years ago.


These are some of the conclusions are drawn from a detailed survey of more than 250 editors and face to face interviews with executives from newspapers in 15 cities in four distinct regions of the country. This study, produced by journalist Tyler Marshall and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, is we believe the most comprehensive attempt yet to identify, amid bad news about the news business, what precisely is being lost, and what is being gained, in what citizens receive from American newspapers.


Read the full report


Among the report's major findings:


·       Nearly two-thirds of the papers surveyed for this study say they have reduced coverage on foreign news; more than half cover national news less; and over a third have trimmed business reporting.


·       The Internet is posing a challenge for newsroom managers. Fully 48% of those surveyed say the tension between the speed, depth and interactivity of the Web compared to the reduction in journalistic standards and accuracy is a concern.


·       Strong, investigative reporting is at the core of daily newspaper journalism, according to the editors surveyed—91% of all newsroom executives said they thought investigative journalism and enterprise reporting either "very essential" or "somewhat essential" to their newspapers' quality.


·       Loss of institutional memory was the number one concern among surveyed editors. Fully 41% offered comments about losing veteran staff, followed by 37% about the general loss of staff, and 6% were concerned about loss of space.


·       Even with these challenges, editors believe that their newspapers are improving—56% believe their product is better than three years ago.


As they consider the issues, editors use conflicting words like "nerve-wracking" and "exciting" to describe a business in transition. Despite financial worries, newsroom managers see an even better news product emerging in the future.

Contacts: Tom Rosenstiel or Amy Mitchell at 202-419-3650

Friday, July 18, 2008

GoDaddy’s Domain Registration Totally Screws .me

Earlier this year GoDaddy won the rights to distribute domains under the extension .me, which belongs to the country of Montenegro. After a number of private distribution periods for corporations, the highly desirable extension finally went on sale this morning for $20 dollars a year (with a minimum 2 year purchase - nice). And now, things are rapidly descending into chaos.

Many users have reported getting confirmations (and credit card charges) for their domains, only to receive the following cancellation notice about an hour later:

Dear Jason Kincaid,
The following domain name has failed to be registered:
Error: WATCH.ME: cannot register - already registered
We will evaluate this error and retry the registration
if appropriate.
If we are unable to successfully register the domain
name, your account will be credited accordingly. Please
allow one business day for the refund to be processed.

Understandably, a lot of people are outraged. And, disappointment and shattered dreams aside, there's the issue of who actually will wind up owning each domain. A Twitter search for "" shows that at least a half dozen people hold confirmation letters (myself included).

GoDaddy says that the problems are a result of a "SuperBowl -like response to the open registration" that exceeded everyone's expectations and wound up crushing their servers. Apparently they didn't realize that after months of pent up demand and publicity for an extremely desirable domain, they'd be seeing an onslaught of prospective buyers.

The company says that disgruntled users can expect a refund in the next 24-48 hours, and that the servers should be stable now. No word on when we'll know if we actually own our newly-purchased domains.

You can try your luck elsewhere on this list of alternative domain registrars for the .me extension.

Friday, July 11, 2008

About Thought Leader

Thought Leader is an editorial group blog of quality commentary and analysis.

Its aim is to provide a platform for thought-provoking opinion from Mail & Guardian journalists and columnists as well as other writers, commentators, intellectuals and opinion makers across various industries and political spectrums. Thought Leader is not only a platform for some of the country's established writers and personalities but is home to some of the country's up-and-coming writers.

Thought Leader is all about debate, offering readers the opportunity to comment and discuss issues raised by contributors.

The site is edited by the Mail & Guardian Online's editorial team. Should you wish to contact us please email us on

Summer Academy for SADC Journalists

The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, South Africa's premier provider of short courses for journalists, communicators and media practitioners, and the International Institute for Journalism (IIJ), InWEnt, Berlin invite mid-career journalists (Print, Broadcast and Online) to apply for the 


Summer Academy for SADC Journalists

"Freedom of Responsibility in the Media: Towards Sustainable Quality Journalism

 in the SADC Region"


The programme is aimed at mid-career journalists from Print, Broadcast and Online Media including news agencies in the SADC region. Up to 25 participants will be admitted: not more than three per country. Only applications from the SADC regions will be considered.


The aim of the programme is to enhance the quality of reporting on SADC matters in the regional media. Among other learning areas in the programme will be: Political Reporting; Investigative Journalism; Reporting on War & Conflict and Developmental Journalism.  Participants will also get an opportunity to engage seasoned journalists and editors on a variety of issues including Tabloid Phenomenon and Quality Journalism and Gender Mainstreaming as part of Quality Journalism.


Date:         10 – 21 November 2008

Venue:      Durban University of Technology, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa


Applicants should send:

·         a one-page motivation letter explaining why the applicant feels that he/she merits consideration for the programme, what he/she hopes to achieve from the programme and what impact would the experience gained and skills learnt have on his/her workplace.

·         detailed CV with clear contact details;

·         a letter of support from the applicant's manager with clear contact details and permission granting applicant leave of absence from his/her workplace should his/her application be successful.


Only applications complete with all the above information will be considered


Successful candidates will be sponsored to cover costs in terms of travel, tuition, accommodation and meals.


Short-listed applicants will undergo an online screening exercise to assess writing skills and understanding of SADC issues before the final decision is made.


Closing date for applications: Wednesday, 30 July, 2008


Applications should be sent to Leela Parbhoo by:


Fax:      0866521003 or +27 11 484 2282

Post:    PO Box 2544, Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa.


For any further information, please contact Leela Parbhoo: Tel: +2711 484 1765.


Please consider your application to be unsuccessful should you not hear from us by 30 September 2008


Please visit our website for the IAJ Course Programme for 2008.