Friday, January 30, 2009

PEJ Releases First New Media Index Report

Bloggers Ponder Every Aspect of Obama's Inauguration

Today marks the inaugural edition of a new feature by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism: The New Media Index, a weekly report that examines how the most-discussed news on blogs and other social media sites compares with the mainstream press. The week of January 19, PEJ finds that bloggers and traditional journalists both focused prominently on President Barack Obama's inauguration though the commentary in the two often diverged. Read More.


The New Media Index is a companion to our weekly News Coverage Index which monitors the more mainstream press. The New Media Index will be a regular Friday feature on PEJ's website,


For more information, please email Amy Mitchell at, or call 202-419-3650.

Tom Rosenstiel
The Project for Excellence in Journalism


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guest bloggers for FT’s Davos coverage

The Financial Times has signed up a host of guest bloggers for it's coverage of this week's World Economics Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, which starts tomorrow.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Kofi Annan and British foreign secretary David Miliband will all be posting alongside FT editors and correspondents - you can read Sorrell's first post at this link.

The site has set-up an 'in depth' microsite to host its coverage, which will also feature video reports and can be followed on Twitter @FTDavos.

Elsewhere YouTube got its users to pose video questions to the forum via its Davos channel - the most voted submission was from Pablo Camacho, a student and independent writer from Bogotá, Colombia, who will now attend the event on behalf of the site as a citizen reporter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

8 Indispensable Web Services the Modern Reporter Can’t Afford to Skip

As journalism evolves, so do the tools journalists come to depend on. While the Internet can't provide all the resources a good reporter needs, it does offer a number of them that can make a journalist's job easier and more productive.

The following web services have become an integral part of the evolving toolkit for the modern journalist:


The gateway to the Internet is Google's front door. The world's largest search engine indexes everything from web pages to forums to blog comments to social media profiles.

I know, I know, 'No Duh!' But seriously, search isn't used to its full potential.

For a reporter seeking background on a source or topic, there's not a more helpful friend around than the Big G.

What most don't realize is there's a whole lot more one can do with searching than typing a few search phrases into Google's input box.

Did you know that you could search just one site for a specific term? For example, if you want to find that New York Times a rticle on Simon Cowell, try this search - "simon cowell" Here's a list of more Google search functions.

Try Google Advanced Search as well.

Search doesn't end with Google, however. Check out the search features on social sharing like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon for finding resources.



RSS allows people to subscribe to updates on certain topics, issues, stories and just about anything that can be updated, including photos and video. Stop spending so much time visiting news web sites to read the latest updates. Have the the headlines delivered to you so you can quickly decide what's worth reading and discover stories that might have been buried in the sites' designs.

If you're new to RSS, here's an explainer on how to use RSS.

The best tools integrating RSS into your workflow include Google Reader and Google Homepage.


Instead of performing a search or visiting a number of web sites each day to find new information on a topic you're researching, why not have Google, Yahoo! or Twitter tell you when there's something new you should know about?

Track phrases, people and topics without doing much more than telling alert services what you want and when you want it. For example, if you're writing a series on Herman Miller chairs, keep tabs on issues surrounding the furniture maker by creating alerts with the term "herman miller." Depending on your settings, you could get an email each day with a listing of news stories and blog posts that contained content about Herman Miller.

Here's the Alerts services you should try out:



Need an idea for a story? Check out trend monitoring sights to see what people are talking about and what they're searching for.

Google Trends - Google Trends' Hot 100 show the top search terms on their network for the past few hours.

Yahoo! Buzz - Part social news voting site, part search monitor. Check out the Buzzlog for a roundup of some of the more popular related search topics.

TwitScoop - Want to know what people are talking about RIGHT NOW??? Check out this Twitter scanner for the most tweeted terms in real time.

Twitturly - Check out the most shared/talked about links on the Twitter network.



The phrase "It's all about who you know," is more true than you'd expect. Part of the key of being a great journalist is having an awesome source list, and it's all about networking. Get to know people already!

Social networks have made it easier to get to know people than ever before. While some will prefer to keep their social profiles more private, leveraging your presence on social networks can help you find new sources and also get found.

Many people refer to LinkedIn as the professional social network. That's great for journalists since many of its members list their employers and former employers. If you need to find a former employee for a certain business in your town, this resource can't be overlooked. Just search for the company and you'll find SOMEONE who worked there (probably) Here's some more tips for how journalists can use Linkedin.

And don't forget Facebook. This social network offers some of the richest demographic searching available. If you're writing a story about snowboarders in your town, try searching your Facebook network for "snowboarding" and you'll get a number of results for people who have listed it in their profile. If the people in your search results are in your network, you can check out their profiles (barring they didn't set up any profile privacy). Just another way to network and find highly targeted sources.

One last thing about social networking, get yourself some profiles! The larger you grow your web presence, the easier it will be to expand your personal brand as a reporter.



It's too easy to overrun your Firefox browser with bookmarked sites, even if you use bookmark folders. What's worse is once you shovel your bookmarked site into one of your many folders, it gets hard to find.

Enter Delicious (formerly  

Delicious allows you to bookmark sites you may want to visit again on a web-based service that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. By using a site like Delicious, you can also review the site, make notes and tag the bookmarks with different terms that you can remember it by.

Let's say you were bookmarking an article about how to save streaming music from your web browser. Bookmark the article in delicious and you may want to use tags such as "music", "mp3″ and "streaming+music". Next time you want to find that bookmark, searching by tags could make it easier to find.



If you aren't reading and writing blogs by now, stop what you are doing and head over to Register for a free account and start your first blog.

Top blog sites rival top news sites in all sorts of niche topics, and part of the reason is blogs are often closer to the action than the established journalist.

It can be tougher to distinguish the authority and trustworthiness of a blog, but many perform just as good journalism as some news sites and they shouldn't be scoffed at.

In addition, it's a great idea to read blogs because they can point reporters to additional resources, such as linked related articles or government reports.

Many journalists also write blogs to help disseminate news that wouldn't otherwise fit into a traditional news story.

Lastly, a huge component of blogs that can prove useful is the comments. Mine comments on your news blogs for useful additional information that may lead to a follow-up story or a new source.



2009 will be the year of many people saying "I was on Twitter in 2008 and I didn't get it. Now I still don't get it." Don't let yourself be that person.

Twitter is the ultimate micro-blog, instant mass communication system that makes news delivery exciting, unfiltered and decentralized.

If you're not sure how you can use Twitter for journalism, check out this ReadWriteWeb post that lists four uses of Twitter:

  • Discovery of Breaking News
  • Performing Interviews
  • Quality Assurance
  • Promotion of work

Twitter can also allow you to cover breaking news situations with your cell phone, get stories from regular people, share ideas, get ideas, find new sources and promote your brand.

Get an account and start following people with like interests. You can search for people in your area and even search other twitter users' profiles for keyword phrases.

You can also search the Twitter Shorty Awards to find users nominated by the Twitterati as top people to follow.

There's a ton of news organizations on Twitter and reporters on Twitter that would be great resources for getting started using the service.

After you've started following a few dozen people, download the desktop application TweetDeck. Use this to interact with Twitter and you'll be on your way. Feel free to send me a shout too @shawnsmith. You can also check out my Twitter resources for journalists.



Google Docs - I know there's privacy issues with Google Docs, but if you're a reporter constantly on the go and you use many computers, this is a great way to keep working on your story wherever you are and not have to keep a local copy on one machine.

**BONUS** For students reading this, here's a link to building the ultimate social media resume, might coincide with some of this stuff, maybe :)


There you have it, 8 web services the modern journalist should know and know well. Is there anything I'm missing?

(awesome image above by Batega on Flickr)

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source :

Requiem For A Newspaper, Part II: The Road To Online

I explained in Part I why the P-I as a print newspaper is dead. But let me rehash some points I and others have already made.
  1. The P-I as we knew it is dead, because newspapers are dead. The ink-stained wretches may clutch onto false hope that someone will save it, but it's over.
  2. Journalism is alive and well, though. And I've already seen one too many people talk as if losing the paper means losing the only journalistic voice in town. Between radio, TV, and blogs, there's still plenty of journalism in this town. It's just going to be… different.
  3. Hearst shuttering the P-I only delays the Times' funeral. Before Friday, the Times wasn't going to see out the summer. Now, they got, at most, two more years of life. But the Blethens are cash-starved and running out of things to sell. Going non-profit won't save them from their business model. And they've been very, very backwards online, castigating bloggers where the P-I embraced them.
  4. This is more about the onerous JOA than Hearst losing money. Apparently, Hearst and the P-I have been pushing hard for a greater online presence, but the Times had to say yes to the initiatives, and they consistently said no. Killing the JOA, even if it means killing the P-I in the process, puts Hearst in control of their own destiny in the Seattle market, rather than still in the hands of the Blethen family.
  5. No one has ever done a true, daily, online-only newspaper wholly independent of any other media source or revenue stream. No, really. And before you start saying Crosscut, look at it. It produces one, maybe two articles a day. Add that all together and you get the output of a weekly newspaper, like the Seattle Weekly David Brewster used to run. Every online newspaper up to now has depended on revenue from elsewhere to keep itself, mainly from ads sold in the dead tree version. Yes, that means there's never been a successful online-only newspaper, but it also says that there really is no business model for an online-only paper. The P-I going wholly online will be a first, and comparing it to other web models pre-supposes a great deal.

It seems like going online-only, in the long term, is a smart business decision. Five years from now, being first-to-market with an online newspaper will give you huge structural advantages over all your competitors. Even if there is no model yet for a wholly online paper, five years from now there probably will be. And right now, the old newspaper model is broken. So, if Hearst or someone else with money is willing to gut it out, they will be positioned to dominate the market when the stars do align.

With that in mind, this is what I'd suggest the P-I's owners should think about the day the end comes.

  1. Be strategic about whom you're keeping. Ideally, you want to cut all but 20 people. Hang on to a couple of sales people and IT folk, natch, but what you really want are the most passionate journalists and editors left on that staff, the ones who are willing to be a little idealistic and eat some ramen for a few years. And you want writers who not only know and understand Seattle, they know and understand the online space. The folks who are anti-online or in the least disdainful of online you need to show the door.
  2. Treat this like a Web 2.0 tech startup, not like a newspaper. I'd start by breaking the lease on the office space and telling MOHAI to come get their globe. Hand your reporters laptops and bus passes and coffee cards. If you need to have a meeting, rent a coworking space like Office Nomads. Stay lean. Scarcity should drive, not paralyze. Use free web tools to organize. Pay cash. Avoid adding staff until you can afford it.
  3. This will infuriate the Guild. So offer them two choices. They can either choose to continue representing everyone who is left — with massive concessions to the new economic reality and the startup mentality, or they agree that they won't attempt to (re)organize until the chasm has been bridged — and when they do, you will not stand in their way. Neither one is really palatable to the Guild, and the history of unions in online companies can be written on a cocktail napkin, but in five years the Guild may not have anyone left to organize.
  4. Investigate, uncover, watchdog. Seth Godin today really nailed why we value newspapers as a community:

    [after going through a litany of things he won't miss about newspapers] What's left is local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news. Perhaps 2% of the cost of a typical paper. I worry about the quality of a democracy when the the state government or the local government can do what it wants without intelligent coverage. I worry about the abuse of power when the only thing a corrupt official needs to worry about is the TV news. I worry about the quality of legislation when there isn't a passionate, unbiased reporter there to explain it to us.

    Punchline: if we really care about the investigation and the analysis, we'll pay for it one way or another. Maybe it's a public good, a non profit function. Maybe a philanthropist puts up money for prizes. Maybe the Woodward and Bernstein of 2017 make so much money from breaking a story that it leads to a whole new generation of journalists.

    The reality is that this sort of journalism is relatively cheap (compared to everything else the newspaper had to do in order to bring it to us.) Newspapers took two cents of journalism and wrapped in ninety-eight cents of overhead and distraction. The magic of the web, the reason you should care about this even if you don't care about the news, is that when the marginal cost of something is free and when the time to deliver it is zero, the economics become magical. It's like 6 divided by zero. Infinity.

    Readers can get their local and national and neighborhood news, TV listings, comics, sports scores, and Target circular from the Internet for free. Duplicating those things on your site costs you time and effort you could better spend on the things that make a newspaper a public good, like uncovering graft and corruption, or explaining the pros and cons of a ballot measure, or making sure the poor and needy aren't getting ripped off or abused by the rich and powerful. We know papers do this, and they do it well. Focus on that. If you can afford hanging on to your AP wire contract, then hang onto it, but don't let it be the core focus of your enterprise, not when you can read the AP wire through Google News.

  5. The bloggers and the journalists should be friends. West Seattle Blog and Capitol Hill Seattle, right now, are handling spot news in their neighborhoods far better than all other local media. Don't do their job. Make their jobs easier. Use your expertise to do what they aren't trained to do or what they don't have the time or ability to do. Do NOT kill the P-I reader blogs; instead, use them to fill in your coverage gaps. Promote good posts and good writers. Aggregate the community stories. A good rapport with the local blog scene will also mean they'll go to you with stories — and not to the Times.
  6. Your goal: A social news media network. If you do it right, the P-I will be the nexus of a news network that covers general and niche stories, one that has professional journalists working alongside kids with camera phones to serve the public good, one that promotes the good writers but also is not cliqueish and open to any and all readers. (This last bit is important; lurkers will make up a majority of your readers, so make them feel at home and not at some party where they don't know the inside jokes.) Everyone one of us is a news gatherer; find a way to turn that skill into something collectively powerful. (And oh, if you have a social network, then you have an advertising network, too.)
  7. If you are going to charge for content, charge for content people will pay for. No one is going to pay for your opinion. Opinion, after all, is a fungible resource on the web. They'll pay for fantasy football insider data, though.
  8. Finally, do NOT pay big salaries for "top talent." They will only drag your bottom line down. Instead look for talent with experience in startups or in non-profits, people who won't ask for six figures and won't twiddle their thumbs looking important but will throw themselves into the position. I am still amazed how many companies overpay for big name tech people, even though the excess of the dotcom bust was only eight years ago.

One last thing: A few people have said that an online-only newspaper won't work because it's too generalist and not a targeted niche. They keep forgetting that cities are themselves niches. If they weren't, then the concept of local news itself is thrown into question. People have been looking to local news media for information and advice since the advent of the printing press. The question shouldn't be about whether an online news site has the readership volume to sustain itself. The volume is there. The question should be whether such a site will generate enough income to employ journalists to do the public good.

Tomorrow: I address the gleeful conservatives.

CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards 2009 launched

CNN International and MultiChoice this week officially launched the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2009 Awards. Winners of these prestigious annual Awards will be announced at a gala ceremony to be held in Durban, South Africa in July 2009.

The competition is open to African nationals who are professional journalists including freelancers across print, television, internet, photographic and radio. Full details on how to enter can be found by logging on at The closing date for entries is 16th February, 2009 and the judging will take place in April. All entries should be broadcast or published during January – December 2008.

This year, the competition will recognize excellence in the following categories:
  • Tourism Award
  • Arts and Culture Award
  • Economics & Business Award
  • Environment Award sponsored by Ecobank
  • Free Press Africa Award
  • MSD Health & Medical Award
  • HIV/AIDS Reporting in Africa
  • Mohamed Amin Photographic Award sponsored by A24 Media
  • Print General News Award sponsored by Safebond Africa Ltd.
  • Radio General News Award
  • Sport Award sponsored by Global Media Alliance
  • Television – Features Award sponsored by IPP Media Tanzania
  • Television – News Bulletin Award
  • Francophone General News Awards (Print and TV/Radio)
  • Portuguese Language General News Award

The overall winner - The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2009, will be selected from among the category winners, while finalists will participate in a four day finalists' programme that will include a media forum and networking opportunities with senior journalists, editors, business leaders and media owners from across the continent, culminating in a gala awards ceremony in July, 2009. Each category winner receives a cash prize, plus a laptop and printer.

The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2009 will receive an additional cash prize and a trip to CNN Center in Atlanta.
Hopewell Rugoho-Chin'ono, from Zimbabwe, was awarded the top prize at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2008 Awards ceremony. Hopewell, founder and film director for Television International, Zimbabwe, won for his story 'Pain in My Heart', which was chosen from among 1912 entries from a record 44 nations across the African continent.

Over the past fourteen years, the competition has grown in size and status to become Africa's most prestigious media event. In 2008, it attracted a record-number of entries from 44 African countries and a 'Highlights Programme' of the ceremony, held in Accra, Ghana, where Joy FM's Israel Laryea, picked the Radio General News Award.


Ten things every journalist should know in 2009

1. How to use Twitter to build communities, cover your beat, instigate and engage in conversations.

2. How to use RSS feeds to gather news and manage them using filtering techniques (basic or advanced).

3. That there is a difference between link journalism and 'cut and paste' journalism (aka plagiarism).

4. That your readers are smarter than you think. In fact, many are smarter than you - they know more than you do.

5. That churnalism is much easier to spot online. If you do this regularly, your readers are already on to you - merely re-writing press releases without bringing anything to the table no longer cuts it.

6. Google is your friend. But if you are not using advanced search techniques, you really have no idea what it is capable of.

7. You do not have to own, or even host, the technology to innovate in journalism and engage your readers. There is a plethora of free or cheap tools available online, so there is no excuse for not experimenting with them.

8. Multimedia for multimedia's sake rarely works, and is often embarrassing. If you are going to do it, either do it well enough so it works as a standalone item or do it to complement your written coverage - for example, add a link to the full sound file of your interview with someone in your article, or a link to the video of someone's entire speech at an event. The latter will enhance the transparency of your journalism too. Great tips and resources here and some useful tips on doing video on a budget.

9. How to write search engine friendly journalism. Old school thinking about headline writing, story structure etc no longer applies online and there is also more to learn about tagging, linking and categorisation. Sub-editors (if you still have them), editors and reporters all need to know how to do this stuff.

10. Learn more about privacy. You can find a lot of information about people online, especially via social networking sites, but think carefully about the consequences. And bear in mind that it cuts both ways, if you do not do it carefully, your online research could compromise your sources.

credit :

Journalism school’s new media deficit

Last night I joined in the weekly Twitter chat #Collegejourn, the college media's equivalent of the Monday night @Journchat. Most of the topics you'd think would come up in fact did. One point I brought up was the new media deficit in many j-schools.

Most of the lecturers I had in my undergraduate journalism courses were established journalists, with many accolades and well-regarded reputations. Those are the kinds of people you want to be learning journalism from.

The only problem is that most were established, well-regarded print journalists. Most were either clueless to the advancing new media storm, or were outright hostile towards it. As the industry changed at a rapid pace, those journalism lecturers so entrenched in the ways of print continued to teach the same way they had been for years.

This is a problem.

For j-schools (journalism schools) this presents a potential crisis of self. They need established, well-regarded faculty to keep your program's reputation afloat. Often these faculty have PhDs and have published many research papers in a specific area. They are the standard-bearer of what the program stands for.

But what happens when what your faculty is not teaching students everything they need to be successful journalists? What happens when those who have the skills and knowledge to teach them how to succeed in the new media environment may only have an MA, or in some cases less than that?

The solution is simple and, for some universities, hard to swallow: Hire younger people, PhD or not. If someone is coming out of graduate school with a master's in new media, don't dismiss them out of hand. Sit them down and listen to what they feel they could bring to your program to help it remain competitive.

Another option is to begin scouting the Web staff from local newspapers for potential adjunct positions. They're working professionals in the field of online journalism. They're exactly what you need.

It's time to abandon the dogmas that so many j-schools have latched onto and begin to face facts — even if it means fewer PhDs walking the halls.

source  :

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Global Post - redefining international news for the digital age

GlobalPost is embarking on a bold journey to redefine international news for the digital age. To get there, we are relying on the enduring values of great journalism: integrity, accuracy, independence and powerful storytelling.

GlobalPost follows no political line. We encourage our correspondents to write with a strong voice and to work hard to unearth facts. But we leave opinion on the opinion pages.

We are proud to be an American news organization with a decidedly American voice. We also intend to seek out and tell the truth as we find it. To quote the great American newsman and foreign correspondent Edward R. Murrow, we aspire always to report the news "without fear or favor."

Around these principles, GlobalPost intends to build a community of top correspondents as well as a community of users of the site who share the need and the desire for quality news about the world. We invite you to be part of that community and to provide feedback on our coverage and actively engage in the site as a participant. New technology allows us to make newsgathering a more transparent process --a process in which our visitors are invited to take part.

We commit to you that all reporting on GlobalPost will be held to the highest journalistic standards and that we will always make every effort to offer reporting that is fair, intelligent, comprehensive and free of partisanship. We pledge to be courageous in the pursuit of the truth and to stand firm against forces that may want that truth hidden.

We believe in an old school tradition that correspondents should live in the countries about which they write. We believe this is the only way to deliver you the kind of on-the-ground reporting that matters, reporting that can make a complex place clearer and that can untangle complex issues in a way you can understand how the events happening in a distant corner of the world affect your life every day at home.

As a matter of principle, we are dedicated to broad coverage throughout the world and especially of those geographic areas that have been historically under-reported by the American news media. We are committed to reporting on world issues and events that are important to the national dialogue and to improving the conversation of our democracy in an increasingly interconnected world.

We, the Founders of GlobalPost, are also acutely aware of the fact that quality journalism in America is threatened more profoundly today than at any time in our history from an unprecedented combination of forces: the transformational power of technology and the internet, the dramatic erosion in the economic underpinnings of the traditional media, and a steady migration of the most devoted consumers of news as well as younger people to new content platforms, most importantly the web.

GlobalPost is a direct response to these forces. Our mission is to provide Americans, and all English-language readers around the world, with a depth, breadth and quality of original international reporting that has been steadily diminished in too many American newspapers and television networks. GlobalPost is at the leading edge of what we hope and believe will become a new flowering of journalism in the digital age, built around new models of financial support.

GlobalPost is a for-profit enterprise and we are proud of the fact that every employee and correspondent is a shareholder in our company. That is a rare opportunity for journalists and it's part of what makes our company unique. GlobalPost's financial support comes only from individuals of integrity who believe in our mission and we invite you to read more about them in the About Us section of the site.

We have forged a business model that includes three pillars of financial support. The first is online advertising. The second is the syndication or sale of our content to other web and print publications around the world. And the third, and most bold, is the creation of an elite community on our site through paid membership – or through a rewards system for frequent users of GlobalPost – which we have dubbed Passport You can click here to find out more about subscribing to Passport.

But whether you have three revenue sources or 30, there is no guarantee of success without the strong support of the users of our site. We hope you will join us here on GlobalPost often and see us as the first place you turn to understand what's happening in the world around you. We look forward to serving you and to hearing from you in the months and years to come.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Evolution of Blogging and Citizen Journalism in Asia: Posing the Question “Can everyone be a journalist?”

With the advent of the Internet, nowadays it seems very easy to publish information on the Internet's popular World Wide Web (WWW). The trends are here. In the face of new technologies, blogging and citizen journalism have increasingly played an active role in the delivery of news, leading to a debate that everyone can be a journalist. Determining a way to observe such assumption, I would like to use the SARS outbreak in Asia and the Asian tsunami 2004 as my case examples.

The reason for scoping out Asia is that several Asian countries have laws capable of limiting freedom of speech to their citizens. Like in North Korea, the right to freedom of speech on the Internet is suppressed by the National Security Law that 'gives broad powers to the government to restrict speech and to prevent support or discussion of North Korea' (Privacy International 2003). While in Malaysia, restrictions imposed on free speech are enshrined in legislation, Article 10 of the Constitution, such as 'Sedition Law, Laws for Licensing of Newspapers, Defamation Laws, and Freedom of Assembly' (Wu 2005, p.5). These laws are considered damaging journalism in the country. Therefore, blogs are believed able to 'rout around laws restricting free speech' because those laws seem meaningless in cyberspace (Wu 2005, p. 6).

Lih (2004, p. 6) stated that the year 2003 might have marked the beginning of an era in Asia-region web logs. It was indicated by the first Asia-region web log awards, conducted by Phil Ingram, an expatriate web logger in Hong Kong, of Blogs slowly became attractive until the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Asia initiated a sudden brief increase in the number of blogs and blog readers who were searching for more information about a respiratory disease which is known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In Malaysia, SARS became a major issue when the Malaysian Home Ministry 'had officially directed all major English-language newspapers to "adjust" their reports on SARS' by not mentioning fatalities (Wu 2005, p. 7). Due to 'the government's lack of transparency', a Malaysian IT consultant, blogger, photographer and politician Jeff Ooi started to write information about SARS and the progression on his blog known as Screenshots...(Wu 2005, p. 8). He then discovered that the readers of his blog came not only from Malaysia, but also from some other countries. In this way, Jeff Ooi attempted to show uncertainty and confusion caused by mainstream journalism in Malaysia regarding the disease.

The extent of bloggers' power became apparent in 2004, when an undersea earthquake on the Richter scale of 9.3 occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia resulting in tsunamis that devastated coasts bordering the Indian Ocean in countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Burma and Somalia. This has been clarified by Wu (2005, p. 14) who stated that 'within hours of the earthquake, the blogging community in Penang (the Malaysian island hit by the tsunami) … began writing about their personal experience on feeling the earthquake tremors and providing localised updates on the effects of … [the catastrophes]'. In this situation, many citizen journalists took their role seriously as reporters of actual news. They helped professional journalists gather news and information when they could not arrive at the same time as the event was happening. There were also some accounts from citizen journalists who were the eyewitnesses of the events, sharing 'their very personal stories of survival, helplessness and loss' in the Guardian (30 December 2004). Conclusively, bloggers and citizen journalists appeared to be an information source both for the public and for mainstream media.

However, the key to good journalism is reporting and ethical inquiry, becoming preoccupations in that profession. In this context, journalism is different from fictional writing that appears very dominant in blogging due to the abundance of information on the Internet. In discussing the issues in relation to the importance of reporting in journalism, it has been shown 'reporting means observing the world and listening to the views of others with an open mind, and reporting those observations and views as accurately as possible' in which 'personal opinions and feelings are only a small part' of what you must write (McGill 2007). In reporting, reporters also need to have good sources in which 'good sources take care of reporters … and provide background information that makes their stories more authentic' (Smith 2003, p. 166). Accordingly, the role of asking people for interviews appears difficult for bloggers and citizen journalists because they are not licensed to practice journalism like other professional journalists.

Two case studies presented above support an existing theory that the role of a journalist is changing in a multimedia world, and thus the interpretations of a journalist itself are various, showing that any definition of a journalist is not simple. Hence, everyone may be able to be a journalist, yet still they have not been able to become a professional journalist regarding accountability and ethics in real journalism. As the power and effect of blogging and citizen journalism increasingly grow, it is challenging for every journalist to heap the values of contemporary journalism. A journalist, therefore, should learn how to read, to think, and to write in a professional way; hence what defines a professional journalist.


Guardian 30 December 2004, 'Scenes from a disaster', viewed 10 November 2008, <>.

Lih, A 2004, 'Participatory journalism and Asia: from web logs to Wikipedia', in 13th Asian Media Information & Communications Centre Annual Conference: ICT & Media Inputs & Development Outcomes Impact of New & Old Media Development in Asia, Journalism and Media Studies Centre University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, pp. 1 – 27.

McGill, D 2007, 'The importance of reporting', The LARGEMOUTH Citizen Journalism Manual, viewed 10 November 2008, <>.

Privacy International 2003, Silenced – South Korea, viewed 9 November 2008, .

Smith, RF 2003, Groping for ethics in journalism, 5th edn, Blackwell Publishing, Iowa.

Wu, TH 2005, 'Let a hundred flowers bloom: a Malaysian case study on blogging towards a democratic culture', in 20th BILETA Conference: Over-Commoditised; Over-Centralised; Over-Observed: the New Digital Legal World?, British & Irish Law, Education and Technology Association, the UK, pp. 1 – 22.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

African Council on Communication Education - ACCE CONFERENCE 2009 - Call for papers

4-6 August 2009

School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana,

Legon, Ghana


Theme: Communication Education and Practice in Africa -

A Social Contract for the 21st Century?




The Ghana Local Organizing Committee is pleased to confirm its acceptance to host ACCE Conference 2009.



The Conference will be a platform for dialogue and debate among academics, researchers and communication practitioners engaged or interested in communication education and training, information and communication technology, and the practice of communication for African democracy and development.


The Call for Papers is now open.


Please submit your abstracts along the following Sub-themes/Divisions:

·         Communication, Language and Culture

·         Communication and Gender

·         Communication and Democracy

·         Communication and Globalization

·         Communication and Cross-cutting Development Challenges, including but not limited to:

o       Communication and Health

o       Communication and the Environment

o       Communication and Climate Change

o       Communication and Poverty Eradication

·         Community Communications

·         ICTs and the New Media

·         Classroom-Workplace: A Dialogue.

·         Professional Development, Training and Standards

·         Communication and Ethics

·         Communication Theory and Research

·         Communication Policy and Planning

·         Communication Public Service and the Market

·         Forum for Professional Excellence

·         Young Scholars Forum


After a long period between conferences, it is the hope and expectation that ACCE Conference 2009 will contribute significantly to advancing communication education and practice in Africa.  To this end, more focused and in-depth discourse is sought.  In submitting your abstracts, therefore, please be mindful that papers are being invited to enrich and contribute to the dialogue and debate around the theme: Communication Education and Practice in Africa – A Social Contract for the 21st Century?


Please submit your abstract in the attached form to:

Mrs. Alexina Arthur, e-mail; and

Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, e-mail;


Deadline for receipt of abstracts                     :           31 January 2009

Notice of acceptance of abstracts       :           28 February 2009

Deadline for receipt of full papers      :           31 May 2009


The Concept and Information Note for ACCE Conference 2009 is also attached.


We look forward to receiving your abstract.



Acting Director, School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana

Co-ordinator, Local Organizing Committee, ACCE Conference 2009








Founded in 1974 by a small group of African communication experts as a non-profit and non-governmental organization concerned with communication's role in national development, the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) by the mid 90s, had grown into a formidable body, bringing together over 300 individual academics, researchers, media practitioners and about 80 institutions engaged in and with the broader issues of communication education and training; information technology as well as traditional communication resources; communication and the environment, culture, gender, democracy, and more.


In line with its objectives and activities, the ACCE has in the past provided advisory services and consultations to many African governments, institutions and organizations in the formulation of national communication policies, and communication strategies.


The ACCE also publishes a scholarly journal (The Africa Media Review), monographs, manuals and other publications to sustain the promotion of scholarship by and amongst members and interested parties.  Currently the journal is being supported by CODESRIA. 




Like many NGOs whose operations were sustained by external donor funding, the ACCE was adversely affected by the donor fatigue that set in after the end of the Cold War and shifting priorities in donor funding.


The regularly-held seminars, workshops and biennial conferences and meetings that were the platforms for its operations were reduced to the barest minimum. The last biennial was held in 2003 in Nigeria. Since then, not only has the secretariat in Nairobi, been cash-strapped and rendered ineffective, but national chapters have also been inactive and de-motivated.




A concerned group within the ACCE met recently to deliberate on the future of the organization and established that there were existing opportunities that provide the basis and reason for setting the ACCE back on its former pedestal, and repositioning it to respond to the demanding communication needs and problems of the Continent.  These include, but are not limited to the following:


Renewed interest by younger members in an African professional association that brings together major stakeholders in the field of mass media and communication


Re-affirmed commitment from senior members of ACCE


A desire for structural changes that would make ACCE self-sustaining




It is planned that as many ACCE members, old and new, meet in Accra from 4-6 August 2009, for a three-day conference. The proposed venue is the University of Ghana.  The theme, "Communication Education and Practice in Africa: A Social Contract for the 21st Century?" would allow for discourse on issues of contemporary communication education and media practice.  An opening keynote address would explicate on some of the salient issues raised by the theme and act as a stimulus for further discussions.


The biennial will also provide an opportunity to strengthen the links among key stakeholders including trainers, practitioners, and associations, in the field of communication. This objective is essential, giving the vibrant, dynamic and challenging communications environment pertaining on the Continent resulting from re-democratization and media liberalization.


Importantly, this conference will allow for the examination of various options, some of which have already have been proposed, towards the re-organization of the Council and deepen the institutional memory of ACCE. Other matters that will require attention during the biennial will include: financial sustainability; organizational structures; governance and management; accountability; membership drive etc.






African Council on Communication Education



4-6 August 2009

University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana

Theme: Communication Education and Practice in Africa -

A Social Contract for the 21st Century?






First Name/s


Title for purposes of ACCE 2009

  Mr /____/  Ms /____/  Mrs. /____/  Dr /____/  Prof /____/

Institution / Organization




Street address (physical location)


Post office mailing address





Country Code /_____/ Area Code /_____/ Number /________________/


Country Code /_____/ Area Code /_____/ Number /________________/









CONFERENCE SUB-THEME/DIVISION (Please see cover letter.)


ABSTRACT (Maximum 250 words):









































Date of submission