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Straits Times: Chinese state newspaper accuses Western journalists of ‘fabricating’ news

Beijing paper the Global Times has accused foreign journalists in China of fabricating news, according to a report by the Straits Times.

‘It is not unusual for Beijing-based Western journalists to receive demands from bosses in their home countries to make up stories,’ said an opinion piece in the paper, which is linked to the ruling Communist Party.

Western reporters ‘must never take delight in blind, idle chatter and instead should remember your true status and the laws of the nation where you are living.’ The commentary appeared to underline rising official anxiety over an online call for rallies in cities across China each Sunday.

This comes a day after the Eurasia Review reported that foreign journalists had been threatened with expulsion if they report on pro-democracy rallies currently being organised online.

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Legacy problems for Olympics media centre?

April 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

News from Estates Gazette’s Paul Norman

that Tom Russell, London Development Agency group director of Olympic Legacy, has left his job after just over a year.

Not the usual Journalism.co.uk territory you might think. But it seems Russell was heavily involved in the ‘legacy’ plans for the Olympic media centre.

“Russell it seems has been fighting the corner for idea that the media centre ought to be built to a high enough standard to attract media occupiers to Hackney Wick post Games,” writes Norman.

When Journalism.co.uk attended an event about new media, Beijing and the London Olympics last year, some pretty impressive plans for the media centre were brought out. Among the journalism/media union representatives in the audience, however, the size and temporary nature of some parts of the building were challenged.

Indeed, it seems some aspects of the design may have been scaled back since this event in October – as Norman writes:

“Potential tenants looking at the space from the media world and Hackney council are all understood to be concerned that in its haste to get the building completed the ODA has jettisoned important design features and by implication the legacy impact of what after all was intended as the main jobs driver post-Games.”

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AP: Top 10 news stories of the year

December 22nd, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Barack Obama’s election victory named top news story of 2008 in Associated Press’ annual poll, voted for by US editors and news directors.

Oil prices, the Beijing Olympics and Mumbai terror attacks all feature in the list.

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‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas…’ Journalism.co.uk’s melodious 2008 list

Well, we could have brought you ‘Flocking Around the Twitmas Tree’, ‘We Three Nings’ or just a straightforward end of the year list (if only to add to our list of lists), but instead we chose this: your sing-along treat to round-up 2008 is the ‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas’ (hyperlinked to relevant stories, but bear in mind it’s a selection of picks and not comprehensive…).

On the first day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … An editor in a law court

Colin Myler, News of the World

On the second day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Two arrested hacks

Milton Keynes Citizen’s Sally Murrer / ITV’s John Ray (video below)

… And an editor in a law court.

On the third day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Three web gaffes

Steve Jobs and CNN / United Airlines stock collapse / AFP photo ‘altering’

… Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the fourth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Four journo forums

Wired Journalists / Journalism Research / Visual Editors / Journalism.co.uk forum

… Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the fifth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends

Stephen Fry / Paul Carr / John Cleese / Mark Mayhew (Hurricane Gustav) / the Mad Men

… Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the sixth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Six news sites out-linking

WashingtonPost.com, BBC, NYTimes.com, CNN.com, Drudge Report, Not the AP (they didn’t even want to be linked to)

… Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the seventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Seven feeds a-mashing

Publish2.com, Daylife, Delicious, Digg, Technorati, FriendFeed, Yahoo Pipes

… Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the eighth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eight maps a’plotting

Hurricane Gustav tracker, BBC Beijing Olympics map, PaperCuts newspaper job losses map, Economist pre-election map, NYTimes.com post-election map, Managingnews.com’s newstracker during Chinese earthquake, Interactive maps of Canadian tornado damage, Journalism.co.uk new timeline-maps.

… Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the ninth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Nine strikers strikin’

Le Monde, Writers’ Guild of America, Australian Fairfax newspapers, Express Newspapers, Sheffield Star.

(or at least thinking about it…) Trinity Mirror Midlands, Telegraph Media Group, ITV regional, BBC Scotland.

Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the tenth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Ten blogs a-blooming

10,000words.net, Adrianmonck.comJay Rosen’s PressThink, OnlineJournalismBlog, BBCJournalismLabs, BusinessMediaBlog, RegretTheError.com, Publishing2.com, Spokesman Review’s Daily Briefing, Tomorrow’s News Tomorrow’s Journalists

… Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eleven papers packing

(up for new offices) The Guardian, the Birmingham Mail, the Independent.

(away their desks forever) NY Sun, Belfast’s La Nua, Kazakhstan’s Law and Justice, Moscow’s The Exile, US Post newspapers, Trinity Mirror weekly titles, Switzerland’s Mittelland, three editions of Spanish Metro.

Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Twelve sites a-starting

Trinity Mirror mobile sites, outside.in UK, Spot.Us, Hubdub.com, Coventry Telegraph, FT’s Alphaville Long Room, Magicalia, DailyPostCymraeg.co.uk, Time Out Kuala Lumpur, the BusinessDesk Northwest, the Daily Beast.

(and re-focusing) CSMonitor.com.

… Eleven papers packing, Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks and an editor in a law court!

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World Association of Newspapers calls for press freedom in China

October 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum have written to the Chinese government about international standards of press freedom in the country.

Laws in China restricting foreign journalists were temporarily relaxed during the Olympic Games in Beijing and have recently been extended by authorities.

In a letter dated October 21, WAN wrote to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in an attempt to change the laws permanently:

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to welcome the extension of the relaxation in media regulations, but also to call on you to take further steps to uphold international standards of press freedom.

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, your government introduced new rules that allowed foreign journalists greater freedom to travel in the country without prior government permission and to talk to anyone who was willing to be interviewed. Those regulations were set to expire on 17 October, however, shortly before they expired new regulations were introduced that recognise these rights.

While welcoming the extension of the more relaxed regulations for foreign journalists, we are concerned that they do not extend to domestic journalists and that many fundamental rights necessary for the proper functioning of a free press are not observed. For example, there is no protection of news sources, it is not possible to report freely on Tibet and hotels are obliged to report the arrival of a foreign journalist to police. Furthermore, with more than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters imprisoned, China jails more journalists than any other.

We respectfully call on you to extend the relaxed regulations to domestic journalists, to introduce further reforms so that your country might fully respect international standards of press freedom, and to ensure that all
those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released from prison.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin O’Reilly
President
World Association of Newspapers

Xavier Vidal-Folch
President
World Editors Forum

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WAN Amsterdam: What have newspapers done to build new audiences?

October 17th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The 11th Readership Conference is addressing building new print, as well as digital audiences (not just stopping the old readers running away). So how exactly have newspapers across the world successfully built up new audiences? (Quotes and information courtesy of the WAN conference updates)

The Telegraaf in the Netherlands has used sport and social networking

  • Using Hyves.net they used the network’s ‘send to a friend’ function and a widget for users’ home pages that allowed them to see how they were performing against their friends. The contest had 170,000 participants: 110,000 through Hyves and 60,000 through the Telegraaf’s sports site, Telesport.
  • For the Olympics, the Telegraaf provided editorial content to a Hyves web section dedicated to the events which included blogs from Telegraaf reporters in Beijing and other stories from the Telegraaf sports team in Amsterdam.

Lara Ankersmit, publisher for online media, at the paper, said the partnership provided strong branding tied to popular sports events, and more than 170,000 registrations and e-mail addresses.

The Verdens Gang newspaper company in Norway has increased revenue while losing readers

  • A graph of VG’s print circulation decline over the past several years looks like a ski slope – it dropped 20 percent since 2002. But, at the same time, profit increased from 270 million Norwegian krone (31 million euros) to 365 million krone (41 million euros).
  • The approach is ‘continuous product diversification and improving production efficiency considerably’ through new prodcucts such as social networks, and doing more marketing: VG spends 10 million euros annually on market examination.
  • It pays more attention to distribution. Ensuring good product placement at sales outlet is one important focus, as is establishing new outlets, such as coffee shops.

Torry Pederson, CEO of VG said that good journalism that attracts attention, on all platforms. “Don’t cut down on journalistic resources to cover the important stories,” he said.

The Bakersfield Californian is focusing on who isn’t reading the paper

  • In five years, it went from having no weekly newspapers to having three, from no magazines to three magazines, from one website to 11 websites. It created three subsidiaries and built its own social media software.
  • Alongside market research there was commitment to invest in new product development – at least 1 per cent of revenues each.
  • New products recaptured six of the eight percentage points in consumer reach lost by The Californian. It increased non-core revenue from 1 per cent to 12 per cent.

Mary Lou Fulton, vice president of audience development at the paper said “Before, we focused primarily on the circulation, profitability and content of our daily newspaper (…) The essential shift in thinking was to become interested in who was not reading the newspaper or advertising in it. That was a big wake-up call.”

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TimesOnline: Beijing internet cafe users must have photo taken

October 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

All visitors to internet cafes in Beijing will be required to have their photographs taken, the Chinese government has decided. By mid-December all internet cafes in the main 14 city districts must install cameras to record the identities of their web surfers, who must be 18 or over.

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How did the national newspaper online sites report the August ABCes?

September 29th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

This post has backfired a little: the original idea was to look at how the national broadsheets reported the ABCes because it’s always interesting when a publication or website has to report on itself – on its good or bad performance.

Here’s how the Guardian did it today:

That obsession [Team GB] most obviously helped the Guardian, which took advantage of the Beijing effect. That meant that guardian.co.uk remained the UK’s biggest online newspaper for August, attracting 23.11 million global unique users last month, a 46% increase from August 2007 and up 12% on July this year. The Guardian added 2.5 million unique users last month and still has the largest number of UK-based online readers: 8.77 million or 38% of its total audience.

And on the day itself like this.

And Telegraph.co.uk?

It looks like they didn’t.

Times Online?

It appears not.

Independent.co.uk?

Nope.

FT.com

No.

Please correct us if we’re wrong.

Looks like there was only one national newspaper who gave the August stats so much online space. But you could read about the ABCes at Brand Republic, Press Gazette, NMA and here at Journalism.co.uk. Or find the data for yourself here.

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AP: China ends Olympic relaxation of reporting restrictions

September 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

China is to end its relaxation of reporting restrictions in the country for foreign journalists, which were introduced in 2007 ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

It is not yet known what rules will replace the current guidelines, which will cease on October 17.

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Online Journalism China: Fake news feeds public mistrust in media

September 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Chinese sports writer Wang Xiaoshan has used the controversy over the age of China’s double Olympic gold medallist, He Kexin, to open a wider debate on the prevalence of so-called fake news.

The original case against He stemmed largely from Chinese press reports, both state-run and independent, that gave her age as 13 in the run up to the Games, and therefore below the minimum age of 16 required to take part in the gymnastic competition.

That such a wide variety of sources could all be prone to the same inaccuracy seems unlikely, but in a piece sourced from Wang’s blog and translated by John Kennedy at Global Voices, Wang suggests such mistakes are symptomatic of ‘many media’s pre-existing problem of making up news’.

According to Wang, there is ‘no way that He Kexin could have forgotten her own age’, and the widespread reports suggesting she was 13 were the result of laziness and an unwillingness on behalf of journalists to verify their sources.

China has been plagued by fake news for some time:

The most recent case comes from the official newspaper of Guangdong province, the Nanfang Daily, in which a reporter claims to have witnessed police foiling a terrorist bomb plot in the city’s airport.

If the journalist had listed the police as his source his story may have escaped unnoticed, but saying the story came from unnamed ‘travellers in the airport’, who were privy to the hijackers’ intentions, sparked a wave of incredulity amongst the paper’s web community.

In another instance, national broadcaster CCTV was lambasted for releasing footage that apparently showed Olympic volunteers donating money in support of the May 12 earthquake relief effort, only for eagle-eyed viewers to point out that the ‘donors’ did not actually put any money into the collection boxes.

The latter example is an obvious instance of propaganda designed to unite the country in the wake of a devastating disaster, but the commercial press is equally culpable.

According to David Bandurski, a journalist and researcher at China Media Project, the proliferation of fake news is the result of Chinese media’s struggle to redefine its role in the wake of the curtailment of government subsidies in the mid to late 1990s.

The withdrawal of the government’s financial support was not coupled with a loosening of the shackles of state control. As such, Chinese media faces an intense battle to attract readers and advertising revenue, but is stymied by both the perception and the reality that it is not free to report, or sell, the truth.

This catch 22 situation is best evidenced by a controversy that erupted in July 2007 when a local TV report showed Beijing street vendors making buns using waste cardboard and pork fat. National state media also ran the piece and it gained international prominence, but authorities later claimed the freelance reporter responsible had faked the footage.

This left the public suitably perplexed as to whom to trust, and deeply undermined confidence in the veracity of Chinese media reports. Many believed the story was damaging enough to warrant a cover-up by the government as it fell at a time when China faced significant international pressure over its food safety record.

Beijing responded by launching a campaign against freelancers.

Bandurski notes that such government-backed campaigns punish the individual journalists responsible without ever reviewing the ‘the deeper institutional causes’ that allow fake news to proliferate. He draws a parallel with the punishment of corrupt officials, who are seen as ‘isolated moral deviants’ rather than products of a system that is at its root corrupt, or at least encouraging of corruption.

Fake news will continue to be filed, whether intentionally or as a result of bad practice, until Chinese media finds a way to sell truth as a commodity and regain the public’s trust.

Yet a sceptical public that questions what it reads can only be a good thing: a healthy mistrust of officialdom may, over time, spur alternative news sources to find ways to supply readers with the truth, reducing the need for sensationalist fake news in the process.

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