It was 2013, the age of technology, reporters all over America started humming the tune of “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John while editors sung “let’s get digital” and publishers banged their heads on their desks in agony. Not true, but that’s where journalism is heading these days- web reporting.
The four that I found interesting were FOIA Machine, iWitness, The PANDA Project and Census.IRE. These are all tools that could work together at a single news organization to help journalists and not create confusion for readers.
FOIA Machine is a free service run with help from a Knight Foundation Grant and the Center on Investigative Reporting. It is a website where journalists can file FOIA requests and other global transparency requests. It’s hard to retrieve government documents, this organization makes sure requests are filed properly and tracks the requests, which the journalist can look at as well. This digital device is simply a way for journalists to verify that their request is being taken care of and this is very important for big stories.
iWitness was funded by a Knight News Challenge grant. This digital device is really useful when it comes to citizen journalism and area concentrated events. When someone from the newsroom is sent to cover one of these events, they can pull up iWitness to curate all of the relevant posts on a site like Twitter and others to see what people are saying. This tool can be especially useful when it comes to making a Storify.
The PANDA Project digital tool is used in the newsroom to communicate with other members. This is useful whether the newsroom is large or small. It encourages collaboration with other journalists and could help with the stress of writers block. This is another way to have a brainstorm session without leaving your desk.
Lastly, the Census.IRE was also funded by a Knight Foundation Grant, partly. This is a digital tool that a newsroom can use to help organize and view data from the 2010 Census. It separates data of age, race, gender and more by location.
Out of the 10 digital tools suggested by Poynter, these four were the most feasible for newsroom comprehension and would work to boost newsrooms’ credibility, reputation and create an easy reading experience for subscribers if used efficiently.
Not one person can handle everything they are thrown at them, especially not our nation’s journalists- the American news producing busy bodies who endure countless hours of researching, writing, blogging, editing and expediting, day and night, just to stay afloat in the crashing economy of advertisement-less papers and the problematic transition to the rise of web journalism.
Whoop, that was a lot. Do you feel exhausted after reading that? I know I do. One way to take a load of a journalist’s shoulders is to hand out their load to others around them. Sometimes (a lot of times) journalists can get stuck in a rut and become frustrated with what they are working on, and this is when reaching out and asking for help is necessary.
This article from Poynter, suggests that when desiring brainpower other than their own, journalists should consider who they are reaching out to and whether they are a sufficient, diverse group.
Including a variety of demographics is a must, especially when writing an opinion-fired piece where the writer must remain neutral.
Using sources in the newsroom has positive effects on brainstorming and ethical practices.
Sandy Banisky of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland made an interesting point about pushing the story after getting shot down by the head editor. In many newsrooms, Banisky said, reporters hear that there is no room for debate and that the editor would make the final decision. She advises to not give up and talk to the photographer and reporter. This may help the journalist’s cause because then he or she has the power of multiple journalists who’ve worked close with the developing article. This is an example of brainstorming ways to persuade. If a journalist can persuade the head editor, then they can persuade a reader.
Tom Huang said people bring different experiences to the table. Often times, the more diversity newsrooms can get in brainstorming sessions will lead to how fresh the story will be.
If there is one aspect of news journalists can count on, it’s other people. Within the midst of a changing world, editors, reporters, photographers and everyone else involved in the construction of news must remember the importance of reaching out to others.
As journalists try to figure the instant-news feature of Twitter out hackers are trying to find a way in, fake twitter counts trick publications and reputations are affected by what Twitter lists they are added to.
The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has attacked the BBC, The Washington Post, NPR and most recently, the Associated Press on Tuesday.
The SEA sent out a tweet using the AP account that read “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured”.
That same day, the official SEA, @Official_SEA6, account tweeted “Ops! @ap get owned by Syrian Electronic Army! #SEA #Sryia #ByeByeObama”.
Video credits to the BBC and NewsAllWorld
The reason is unknown and the SEA refuse to give an answer, besides singling out American reporters, such as Deborah Amos who writes on the Syrian Government and reports overseas.
One @Official_SEA6 tweet said “you can ask @deborahamos”.
However, there is not a clear answer as to why Amos would even be of question.
Twitter hired security professionals to develop a tighter log-in process.
One year ago, journalists were publishing information they found on twitter but were unaware that they were fake accounts, so therefore, misleading information. These fake accounts have to say “fake” somewhere in their information otherwise they could be libel for stolen identity or copyright. Journalists overlooked these just because the accounts didn’t have “fake” in there twitter handle.
CNN, Huffington Post and The Independent, a UK publication, all sent out apologies for making these mistakes.
Another problem Journalists battle with Twitter, less severe in a way, is Twitter lists. A journalist could be added to a list without knowing. This is something journalists have to monitor because their views could be conflicting with the account that added them or others included in a list. To put it more simply, their reputation is at risk.
The question is, how do you monitor something that you cannot see? Actually, they can see it, but they are not notified of it. Journalists can check under the “lists” link on their homepage and click on the “member of” link.
Twitter has caused multiple problems for journalists, so why do they keep it? Twitter is a genius way to micro-blog, get the news out instantly and everyone is using it. Those are all reasons enough deal with all the obstacles.
Of course, it’s a journalist’s duty to provide for their community and give them awareness in reasonable time of what is happening during these crucial hours. On the other hand, a journalist is also expected to give correct information as well as being timely.
Journalists around the United States are digitally reprimanding news outlets for letting out information to the public that wasn’t true. Tweets about the confusion were spreading like wild fire.
Jeff Cutler,@JeffCutler, one of many Boston Marathon bombing media critics tweeted, “Hey, @wbur@cnn@ap and @cbsnews – PLEASE VERIFY YOUR SOURCES, don’t use circular verification – i.e. AP had it so we’ll run it. #ethics”
The New York Post had the worst coverage. The NYP ran a picture of two men it said the feds are looking for- on their front page. First of all, this picture was one of many that (unnamed) law enforcement officials investigating the Boston Marathon bombings circulated in hopes of finding a possible suspect. The post also said that 12 died in the massacre, but only three did.
CNN was another player in the false-information-first game. They claimed that the suspect was a male with dark skin.
This is a dangerous situation. If the suspects are identified, but actually completely innocent and plastered all over the news, there is no telling what a person or people could do to these people.
I know that if I was near a person that was a suspect in an act of terror on America I would be a little frightened.
In a time were journalism is already suffering enough as it is, shouldn’t reporters be a little more cautious when a tragedy like this happens? If all they have left is reputation, then what is left now?
Those were big-name news providers, and if they don’t address this problem like a real industry killer they should begin to count their pennies because their dollars just lost all value.
Friday April 12th 2013, 3:37 am
Filed under: Media Law
This week, two stories have been released that used anonymous sources and both were of some degree of public interest.
Anonymity raises risk when it comes to journalism. It can cause societal and legal problems when used in a controversial story that is of great interest to the public.
The first story was reported by Fox News reporter Jana Winter due to an anonymous tip that the police found a package addresses to the psychiatrist who treated James Holmes, the man that caused the “The Dark Knight Rises” mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colo. The package contained notebook of gun violence drawings and was supposedly sent eight days before 12 were killed and 58 injured at the shooting. Winters alluded to this being information that could have saved lives if the package was sent.
The next article, reported by “Mother Jones”, was exposed via a secret recording from an anonymous source. Basically, it was about political gossip during a meeting. The anonymous tip gave a lead to “Mother Jones” that the politician discussed attacking a competitor in a 2014 campaign by sharing their political position, religious beliefs and history of depression to the public.
My question is who were the anonymous sources for these stories?
The Holmes information was newsworthy because it was undiscovered evidence that could have been for the good of the Aurora community. It did not convict any one of anything, it pushed the story further. Winter must have had an inside correspondent that worked closely with the police.
On the other hand, “Mother Jones’” broke a story that convicted a political public figure of planning to use bare-knuckle tactics. But, rather talking to the politician, the magazine obtained an anonymous secretly recorded conversation and handed it off to the magazine.
If the anonymous source ended up being employed by “Mother Jones”, the use of a secret recorder is a violation of privacy to the public figure. Even if they didn’t publish the story, “Mother Jones” would be liable.
Why did Winter print the tip? How do we know it wasn’t a “Mother Jones” reporter? Reporters are always looking for a breaking story, but it is hard to say when the source was named anonymous.
Anonymity is chancy when used in an article and journalists should be sure to take in all considerations of what could happen after the article is published.
New York Time’s photojournalist Nick Laham snapped a picture of Alex Rodriguez and other teammates in the Yankee’s spring training locker room in Tampa, Florida. The photographs turned out great and the picture of Rodriguez was used on the NYT’s front page/ home page Sunday.
It was shot and edited with Instagram, an app found on select smartphones, primarily the iPhone. The photo unified with the NYT’s design, which is why it was an obvious pick for the front page because of the upcoming Opening Day Monday. This photo attracted audience to the NYT’s page because of the elite, professional news organization using an iPhone app to take and edit the featured picture.
Some say this is the end of traditional photography and that the web is taking over photo-journalistic skills.
Cork Gaines of the Business Insider noted the unusual happening at the annual spring training event and questioned the decisions of the NYT.
Megan Rose Dickey wrote an article called “Traditional Photographers should be Horrified by the cover of today’s New York Times”. She was against using Instagram as a professional photo editing service.
“This is a problem for traditional photography,” Dickey said.
Horrified? Problem? Hold on there Dickey. Being a photojournalist myself I may be bias, but here is a couple reasons why the claim that traditional photography is dead isn’t logical.
For one, this photo looked great on the New York Times’ gothic-font header front page/home page. The filter Laham used fit into the style of the newspaper, and he must’ve known this too.
Another reason why the claim isn’t correct, besides design of the newspaper/website, is that Laham is a professional. He has been a photographer for years. No amateur with an iPhone and Instagram could’ve taken the photos he did.
In fact, Laham’s eye to capture a beautiful photo, even on Instagram, should be a challenge to traditional photographers and not a problem.
Look at where journalism has come from. We started out with nothing but pen and ink and the inquisitive mind, and then we added a printing press which we adapted to. For photographs for the paper, people had to pose for hours in front of the lens and not move just so the camera could capture the picture. Then came digital cameras and Adobe Photoshop which birthed in the 21st century which we learned to use and produce exquisite photojournalism with.
Now, with the rise of web 2.0, journalism is learning to adapt to this new era. Not just online journalism and how we monetize it, but photography as well. I believe the that their are some great opportunities and obstacles, but all the hype about this picture is hardly worth a breath much less an article. Photojournalism is brought to consumers by professionals, whether its through a digital camera or an iPhone app.
We as journalists should stop and reconsider why we are being so fickle about what technology has brought us. The only way to succeed in this time of convergence is to embrace and utilize the tools that are being presented to use just as brilliantly as we did in the past.
This is Nick Laham’s Official Instagram Page. His timeline is full of artistic views of the world around him.
The Register Citizen of Litchfield County, Conn., covered the bully of 13-year-old girl by using student’s tweets as indicators as to how severe the bullying, but was this right of them to publish?
Two 18-year-old Torrington High School football players were accused of raping the 13-year-old girl. It is unclear if the two cases are connected. Although the allegations were not proven correct, multiple students put their opinions in on Twitter and Facebook, majority ripped on the victim for being a “whore” or defended the popular football players.
Basic details are being withheld from the public, such as where the incidents happened or at what time. One boy is being held at New Haven Correctional Center and the other is being electronically monitored. Students on social networks questioned why the punishment was being shot just the two boys, rather than the girl also.
Here is an example of one of the tweets. Screen shot by The Register Citizen on March 20, 2013.
Not very good grammar, but this example was similar to the other tweets made by students.
The fact that The Register Citizen used this screenshot and other screen shots of other personal twitter accounts was questionable. Generally, the rule for using user content is to seek permission. If the content is from Facebook or Twitter, it’s Facebook’s or Twitter’s property unless the reporter seeks permission from the owner.
Another variable to consider is whether there was any consent implied. Implied consent may be adequate, but for the case of a touchy subject just as a possible rape of a 13-year-old girl, the reporter must be sympathetic. The reporter must make sure the owner of the content knows what he or she plans to do with it.
Unless The Register Citizen reached out to the owners of the twitter handles, they have done citizen journalism a dirty. Citizen journalism is an extremely useful tool when trying to tell a story, find a lead or discover a new story angle, but the journalist must be careful when using outside sources such as those from social networks.
Mobile Journalism, called MoJo for short, has become both an issue and a blessing to traditional news reporters everywhere. As an issue, mobile journalism devices (such as mobile phones, tablets, computers, etc.) blurred the line between professional journalists and amateurs due to the ability to connect with anyone and shares news instantly. With news happening all the time and everywhere, reporters can not possibly get to it all. This is where citizen journalism comes in as well. As a blessing, mobile journalism has offered great possibilities for convergence in today’s media. The MoJo Lab, created by Digital First Media, is one of many projects brought to the media by the uproar of web 2.0.
From what my understanding is, the MoJo Lab is a technology-equipped van filled with a team of professional journalists, usually with a print and/or online publication, that seeks breaking news events and covers them as a live broadcast through mediums like Twitter, Facebook and more. They literally get into a car, drive to an event, promote their brand and report on every last detail they can squeeze out.
Also, The MoJo Lab is is not just called a lab for nothing. The professional journalists will take in anyone who wants to learn about mobile journalism and teach them how they do their thing. They do this for community engagement.
In my opinion, I believe Digital First Media is on to something here. The MoJo Lab may be more successful in breaking news than teaching amateurs mobile journalism, but it does connect the citizens to the brand, which is desired due to an abundance of news providers. Although TwinCities.com, GametimePA and the newest user, The Bay Area News Group, are the only three users of the MoJo Lab, there has been positive results from the trials. This video is an example as to what the MoJo Lab is capable of producing.
Lastly, I thought about what kinds of news providers would use the MoJo Lab. I came to the conclusion that the most effective news provider would be local newspapers/websites. Local citizens would appreciate coverage of hometown events much more than large city residents would.
Pictures of the TwinCities.com MoJo Lab can be found in this article.
A woman uses a digital phone to snap a picture of another woman. Picture by Creative Commons.