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BBC CoJo on the possibilities for ‘drone journalism’

The website for the BBC College of Journalism published an interesting post on Friday by BBC world affairs producer Stuart Hughes, which looked at how news organisations could use drones as “newsgathering tools”.

According to Hughes, “in theory” the aircraft could be a useful tool for news outlets keen to get a bird’s-eye view of certain news events, such as protests.

Photographers covering election demos in Moscow also deployed a UAV – prompting some onlookers to suspect they had spotted a UFO over the Russian capital.

The resulting images were widely used by international news organisations – including the BBC.

However, Hughes said that in reality regulations would make it difficult to operate the aircraft “in built up and congested areas – exactly the sort of places where most news stories take place”.

Understandably so – no news organisation would want to deal with the legal consequences if its unmanned camera crash-landed onto the head of a peaceful protestor.

But nevertheless he is “excited by the prospect of using Big Boys’ Toys as part of our newsgathering”.

It may be some time yet before drone journalism becomes commonplace but, potentially, the sky’s the limit.

Read the full post here.

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BBC College of Journalism posts memories of 9/11 coverage

September 2nd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

The BBC College of Journalism website is publishing a series of posts offering personal memories of coverage of the 9/11 attacks. The first, published this week, is by Stephen Evans, now Berlin correspondent for the BBC, who was in the World Trade Centre when the first plane hit.

I can remember looking out and seeing a line of neat fire trucks and thinking everything was OK because the authorities had arrived. I was on the air – I think to News 24 – when the North Tower collapsed, cutting the line off. I can remember ranting at this. The hotel alarm went off and we evacuated down a back stairs in an orderly fashion.

Evans was on the air when the South tower, the first of the two to collapse, began to fall:

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BBC CoJo: When a super injunction is not a super injunction

Writing on the BBC College of Journalism blog, Judith Townend says sometimes journalists cry ‘super injunction’ when they mean privacy injunction.

A super injunction is one whose very existence cannot be reported – as in the cases involving Trafigura (2009) and Terry (2010).

As media lawyer Mark Thompson explained in a footnote on the Inforrm media law blog last year: “The ‘super injunction’ part of the order is the restraint on publication of the existence of the proceeding.”

Townend also explains the recent case of ZAM v CFW, despite media reports to the contrary, did not involve a super injunction.

Contrary to what you might expect, it appears that there are very few privacy injunctions against the media directly.

The public judgments suggest that the injunctions are often against blackmailers, and it is rarely contended that there is a public interest in the publication of the information.

Townend also has a compiled a list of the number of privacy injunctions here on the Inforrm’s Blog.

There appear to have been 11 privacy injunction hearings in the first three months of 2011, seven of which resulted in ‘public’ – although not always ‘published’ – judgments and two in which judgment is awaited.

She goes on to say there is a need for more information.

So where does all that leave us? While journalists should continue to raise questions about ‘super injunctions’ and the use of anonymous injunctions restricting the media’s ability to report court proceedings, there is a more pressing need for raw information direct from the courts.

The full BBC CoJo post is at this link.

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BBC College of Journalism blog: Google not to blame for journalism’s woes

Peter Barron, former editor of BBC Newsnight and now director of external relations for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Google, has responded to ongoing criticisms that Google News is profiting off the back of content form news websites. In a guest post on the BBC College of Journalism blog Barron repeats the argument that Google News signposts readers towards stories – claiming one billion click-throughs a month from Google News to news websites.

He also refers to Google’s new online payment tool One Pass, which he identifies as a way of supporting news organisations “in finding their way through the current challenges”.

We work with publishers which have chosen the ad-supported model to help find ways to engage readers for longer, making the advertisements more valuable. We have built the One Pass payment tool to make it easier for publishers which want to charge for their content online, giving them flexibility to choose what content they charge for, at what price, and how – day-pass, one-time access, subscription and so on. And Google is investing in not-for-profit organisations to encourage innovation in digital journalism.

The full blog post is at this link.

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BBC CoJo: Working with user-generated content

The latest edition of the ‘Inside BBC Journalism’ series, on the BBC College of Journalism website, looks at the role of journalists working with user generated content (UGC).

Trushar Barot, a senior broadcast journalist in the UGC Hub in the BBC’s London newsroom says he thinks the future of journalism is going to be much more about journalists who work with social media becoming trusted editors of UGC, he says.

We are the ones that have the skills, hopefully, to be able to analyse what’s coming in, give it the context and then report that context.

So a lot of the work we do at the hub in the newsroom is not just about taking content, getting permission and putting it on air, but it’s about trying to authenticate it as well.

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#cablegate: BBC CoJo on Why WikiLeaks’ ‘industrial scale’ releases need journalists

In a post on the BBC College of Journalism site, executive editor Kevin Marsh reflects on the release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, which started last week, and the essential part played by investigative journalism in similar scenarios.

Marsh argues that the lack of saliency in industrial leaks means that the “transparency style” of whistleblowers such as WikiLeaks must remain to be seen as a “precursor of journalistic possibilites” rather than a substitute.

The diplodocudump was underwhelming – but that doesn’t mean it was a Bad Thing; no journalist should argue that revelation itself doesn’t serve the public interest. At the very least, it’s about a partial correction of the information asymmetry between power and people.

Journalism – especially investigative journalism – has many shortcomings. There’s no science about what gets investigated and what doesn’t, no guarantee that it’s the biggest scandals – for want of a better word – that get nailed nor that some lesser ‘scandals’ don’t get a place in the public sphere they don’t quite deserve. No guarantee, either, that the evidence stacks up or that the ‘truth’ revealed is uncontestable.

But because of the way most investigative journalism comes about – through a whistleblower who rightly or wrongly senses some kind of moral violation – it has that magic thing we call salience. And it’s salience that leaking on an industrial scale lacks.

His comments follow those by editor of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger on the first day of the release last week, who also argued that newspapers were playing “a vital role” in adding context to the leaked material.

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#facethefuture: Coventry University to discuss challenges facing digital journalists

November 24th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

Coventry University and the BBC College of Journalism have teamed up to run today’s Face the Future event – 11 quickfire sessions on the challenges facing journalists working in digital, starting from 1:30pm.

The event will be available via video catch up on the BBC College of Journalism site and is being liveblogged on the CUtoday blog.

To follow the conversation around the event use the hashtag #facethefuture. Speakers include Jeff Jarvis via Skype, visiting professor at City University London Paul Bradshaw, TheBusinessDesk.com’s Marc Reeves and Sky News’ Julian Marsh. A full programme is available at this link.

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BBC world editor ‘unapologetic’ for Chile miners coverage

November 2nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

The number of journalists reporting on the Chile miners rescue operation faced much criticism in the days that followed the dramatic rescue, in particular against the BBC after it was reported that a memo from BBC world editor Jon Williams indicated that the broadcaster’s spend could impact on its coverage of other major events.

But during a debrief organised by the BBC College of Journalism, Williams stood by his decision, according to a report by David Hayward, who runs the Journalism Programme for the college.

Jon Williams was absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do. He called it the biggest single foreign story in the five years he’s been BBC World Editor. He was unapologetic about the way in which it was covered. If the BBC was going to be there, it needed to do it wholeheartedly, he said. Although he did say how relieved he was that the original estimates of the rescue attempt taking until Christmas proved to be wrong.

Tim Willcox said they had a huge advantage over the other news outlets. Because the BBC was there in force from an early stage, he was able to build up excellent relationships with the families, the rescue teams and the Chilean authorities. The fact that he was also able to conduct interviews in Spanish and English certainly helped too.

See Hayward’s report in full here…

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BBC Cojo: Andrew Marr is ‘spot on’

The BBC College of Journalism’s executive editor Kevin Marsh joins the quality of journalism debate this week following comments made by Andrew Marr about the blogosphere.

According to this Telegraph report Marr, speaking at Cheltenham Literature Festival, said that “citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all”.

A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night.

Responding to the outcry which followed Marr’s comments Marsh argues that the problem is that “he’s right”. But the issue is about the quality of the journalism, he added, not the platform used.

Spot on. About bloggers, cit journalists … and about journos. Take some the key phrases and substitute ‘the British press’ and there’s little many would quarrel with.  “(The British press is) inadequate” and “nothing to do with journalism at all.” True? Probably as true as it is of bloggers etc. “A lot of (the British press) seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed … and ranting. They are very angry people.” “Most of the (British press) is too angry and too abusive. Terrible things are said … things … they wouldn’t dream of saying in person.” True? As above.

All of what Andrew Marr says about blogging and bloggers etc is as true as it is – there are bloggers we all know who are as good as or better than anything you will see in more traditional paper or spectrum journalism. But there’s also the weird, paranoid, conspiratorial, self-affirming blogosphere that is all that Andrew Marr characterises and worse.

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BBC Cojo: When to step into a story, and when to walk away

It is a question which arises time after time, especially for journalists working in dangerous areas and the developing work: at what point do you step into a story to provide humanitarian aid to your subject?

This was something we discussed with Chris Green from Future Voices, a company which offers training to journalists considering working in hostile environments. “You need to remind yourself that you are a journalist, you are there for one reason. Look after your team, look after yourself, get your story,” he told us at the time.

This week the BBC College of Journalism also takes a look at the issue in an interesting interview with Jezza Newman, director and cameraman for Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children a documentary repeated on BBC2 last week, posted on the site.

Newman says it is important for the overall message to remain powerful for the audience.

As awkward as it is for us to walk away, it should be awkward for the viewer to watch. By doing what we did and making the viewer as awkward as we made them feel we ended up raising £43,000 and we believe that what we chose to do, by not stepping in, contributed to what eventually is a good.

See the full post here…

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