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Ten ways journalists can use Google+

Since Google+ (plus) was launched a week ago those who have managed to get invites to the latest social network have been testing out circles, streams and trying to work out how it fits alongside Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Here are 10 ways Google+ can be used for building contacts, news gathering and sharing:

1. As “a Facebook for your tweeps”

This is how Allan Donald has described Google+ in an update. And it is pretty good way of understanding it. A week on from its launch and it seems you are more likely to add and be added by Twitter contacts, many of whom you have never met, than Facebook friends or even LinkedIn contacts.

2. As a Delicious for your Twitter contacts

As the Google+1 button takes off and your contacts recommend articles (Google +1 is like Facebook’s like button), you can keep track of what they like by taking a look at what they are +1ing and use it like a bookmarking service to flag up articles to read later.

Reading what others are +1ing relies on users changing their settings as the standard set-up does not allow +1s to be viewed by others.

3. To check Twitter updates via Buzz

If you signed up to Google Buzz, you will find tweets are included in your profile. It is another way you can read the most recent tweets from your contacts.

4. To create and share in circles

One of the foundations of Google+ and how it differs from Facebook is the circles function. There are suggested circles such as ‘family’, ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ but you can add your own. For example, you could have a ‘journalists’ circle, a ‘contacts’ circle and categorise others by a specialist topic or a geographic area you report on. You can then choose to share updates, photos, videos and documents with particular circles.

5. To crowdsource circles

You can ask a question to those within one or more of your circles. For example, I might want to ask those in my ‘journalists’ circle a question without my ‘family’ circle being included.

6. For searching and sharing content using sparks

Search for any word or phrase in sparks and you will find news items. Google+ uses Google+1 recommendations and Google Search to influence the items that appear in your sparks list. After searching you can then share content with the people in your circles and therefore read and share news without leaving the Google+ site.

7. For promoting content and discussing it

“Automated spewing of headlines likely won’t be effective, but conversing will,” journalism professor and media commentator Jeff Jarvis has predicted in a post. Content is shared and users comment like they would on a Facebook post.

8. For carrying out and recording interviews

Google+ includes the option of instant messaging, video calling and voice chatting with your contacts, similar to Skype. It may well be found to be quite a handy tool when you can see your contacts online and call them. Contacts do not need to be members of Google+ as you can chat with your Gmail contacts.

One option is recording the chat for your notes or for audio and video content for a news site or podcast. One way to record audio is download Audio Hijack Pro (Mac), select the Google Talk plugin (you may find you need your Gmail open to find this as an option) and record. A quick test has proved this provides podcast-quality audio that can be easily edited.

There are various recording options for Windows.

9. For collaborating on Google Docs by circle

This nifty feature which marries Google Docs and Google+ is really handy for those working on a big story or organising spreadsheets with work colleagues. For example, you can create a circle of your work colleagues, go to Google Docs, check the tick box to select the relevant document, go to share in the black Google bar along the top of your window, and share the document with your relevant circle.

10. For wider collaborative projects

Okay, so you cannot yet but it is included as it is likely that Google+ will adopt some of the functions of Google Wave which would allow you to comment and collaborate on articles and projects.

 

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Jeff Jarvis: ‘Journalism has a model built on entitlement and emotion, not economics’

Jeff Jarvis keeping an eye on City professor George Brock. Image: Wannabe Hacks

Journalism is labouring under a business model based on entitlement and emotion, not economic reality, said leading media commentator Jeff Jarvis today at City Unversity’s Sustaining Local Journalism conference.

We need to understand the business model. I’m tired of the argument that journalists ‘should’ be paid, what successful business model was ever built on the word ‘should’?

Virtue is not a business model, just because we are doing good things that doesn’t mean we should be paid.

He said it was a model in need of disruption.

Some of my colleagues don’t like it when I use that term, disrupt. But welcome to the jungle.

We are a business that has to add value to the community in order to extract value back.

Jarvis set out three ways he thought that hyperlocal sites could make money in a difficult market space:

Developing new products and services to sell
Events (he cited US blogs running flea markets and buying club events)
The creation of sales networks

He only elaborated properly on the last of these, saying that individual bloggers are usually too small to interest city-wide advertisers but grouping together in a network can make them much more of a force to be reckoned with. “When it comes to journalism, he said, “we are better off doing things together”.

Philip John, director of the Lichfield Blog, blogged in March about the need for hyperlocal sites to build networks, writing that they bring about “a sort of collective consciousness whereby an improvement to one site is an improvement to all”.

With the likes of Addiply founder Rick Waghorn and Talk about Local’s Will Perrin acknowledging earlier in the day that just turning a profit as a local or hyperlocal blogger in the UK was rare, it was surprising to hear Jarvis talking about local blogs in US cities of 50,000–60,000 turning over $200,000 a year.

Jarvis admitted that is was a hard slog for hyperlocal sites to bring in ad money, but argued that there was a return in building networks. Giving AOL’s huge hyperlocal network Patch as an example, he said Patch was hiring a journalist for each of it 150 sites and paying them $40,000 a year. AOL wouldn’t be doing that if it didn’t think there was ad money there.

Asked whether journalists should be concerned about conflating journalism and sales – a recurring theme of the conference – Jarvis cited the example of Rafat Ali, founder of paidContent, who he said “had to go out and sell the ads at first, but retained his own moral compass”.

“It is probably our job as educators to guide students in these things”, he said, adding that in the end it is all down to credibility, which can be maintained even if a journalist is pitching in with the business side of things. Maintaining credibility is vital, he warned.

“If you lose credibility you lose your value.”

Also from today’s #citylocal conference: Hyperlocal ad sales and ‘the age of participation’

You can see a Chirpstory of some of the best tweets of the day at this link.

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Japan quake sends record audiences to broadcast and online news

The unravelling disaster in Japan has seen record online traffic and a hike in TV audiences.

A spokesman for BBC News told Journalism.co.uk that there were 15.9 million unique users on the site last Friday (11 February), an all-time record – beating the previous best, election results day, which saw 11.4 million unique users.

There were 9.5 million page impressions for the main story, and 6.1 million for the live text page.

And this very visual story saw record video views too. The BBC News site had more than six million hits on its live video stream on Friday and seven million unique users of video, compared to a previous high of 2.7 million, for video views on the day of the general election.

The BBC News website also had a record weekend in terms of web traffic, with 10 million unique users on Saturday, and nearly eight million on Sunday.

BBC News unique users on the day of the Japan earthquake (Mar11) Many Eyes

CNN is also reporting a large increase in traffic. In a release, CNN Digital said between Friday and Sunday, CNN.com had 264 million global page views and 87 million global video streams.

The network said more CNN.com video was watched in those three days than during the previous 30 days.

Sky News said by 4.30pm on Friday, page impressions had more than doubled – to nearly five million – and unique users had also doubled.

Channel 4 has told Journalism.co.uk that it had trebled its usual web traffic on Sunday.

Bar graph of UK TV ratings after the earthquake in Japan Many EyesTV News

Bloomberg Television claims to be the first cable news network to report the quake, six minutes after the record tremor.

All the TV news providers we have spoken to have reported above average ratings for the subsequent days. On Friday, Sky News had one of its 10 largest audience days ever, with only the Iraq war having a higher daily reach. The BBC had an audience of almost six million to its 10pm news programme on BBC 1 on Sunday; ITV had almost five million viewers to a special report on Friday night while Channel 4 News had 1.5 million viewers on Saturday.

The BBC told Journalism.co.uk it had 5.7 million viewers to Friday’s 6pm news on BBC 1 and 5.3 million viewers to the 10pm bulletin when average ratings are 4.3 million and 4.8 million respectively. ITV News had 4.6 million viewers of its 6.30pm news programme on Friday, a 700,000 increase on its average audience of 3.9 million and an audience of 2.9 million for Friday’s News at Ten, up from an average of 2.5 million viewers. Channel 4 News said that its special report on Friday night had 1.3 million viewers, rising to 1.5 million on Saturday.

Social Media

And of course social media is rife with mentions of ‘quake’, ‘tsunami’ and ‘nuclear’.

In the hour that followed the quake on Friday, Tweet-o-Meter reported 1,200 tweets a minute coming out of Japan. And at the time of writing (Wednesday lunchtime), tweets from Tokyo are again peaking the Tweet-o-Meter scale at 1,200 a minute. In a release, CNN has reported that its breaking news account on Twitter acquired followers at a rate of 10 times greater than average and now totals more than four million followers.

Facebook users were also discussing and sharing first hand knowledge of the quake. BBC News created this map based on mentions of key words in status updates.

And, of course, people have been flocking to see user generated and videos from the news channels on YouTube. This dramatic footage from Russia Today has clocked up more than 10 million hits. Meanwhile, Channel 4 has had 200,000 views on this video of Krishnan Guru-Murthy with before and after tsunami shots and ITN Productions is reporting record views of the ITN News Channel on YouTube.

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BuzzMachine: ‘Cable companies, add Al Jazeera English NOW!’

Writing on his BuzzMachine blog, Jeff Jarvis has called for US cable networks to start carrying Al Jazeera’s English-language network.

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has been covering the civilian unrest in Egypt but was effectively shut down by the Egyptian government on Sunday, according to reports. In the following days Al Jazeera journalists have been reportedly arrested and detained in the country.

Jarvis acknowledges that Al Jazeera English is available to stream online but tells cable companies that this just isn’t enough.

Yes, we can watch AJE on the internet. But as much of an internet triumphalist as I am, internet streaming is not going to have the same impact–political and education impact–that putting AJE on the cable dial would have. I can watch AJE in the Zurich hotel room where I am now; I want to be able to watch it on my couch at home.

Full post on BuzzMachine at this link.

The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog has also picked up on the difficulty of accessing Al Jazeera English from within the US. Media Reporter Brian Stelter talks about the issue in an NYT video.

As the uprising in Egypt nears its second week, a lot of people are calling this Al Jazeera’s moment. The Qatar-based broadcaster has been showing us pictures that most US broadcasters haven’t been able to get … Al Jazeera also has an English-language channel, but a lot of people don’t know it because it’s very hard to access in the United States … Most of us can’t watch it in the US unless we watch on our computers.

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WikiLeaks: The media industry’s response

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has been online and publishing leaked documents and data since July 2007. Prior to this week, I wouldn’t have hesitated in initially referring to it as “whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks” and getting in a definition of what the site does and how it works.

Writing this afternoon though, that bit of exposition feels a lot less necessary. Last Sunday’s coordinated publication of the Afghanistan war logs by WikiLeaks, the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel has catapulted the small, independent organisation – and it’s director Julian Assange – into an entirely new realm of public notoriety.

This post is a round-up of some of the media industry’s responses to the biggest leak in US military history.

On Monday the story took up the first 14 pages of the Guardian, 17 pages of Der Spiegel, and numerous lead stories in the New York Times.

Too much, too soon, writes Slate’s media commentator Jack Shafer.

By inundating readers with Assange’s trove, the three news organization broke one of the sacred rules of journalism: If you have a big story—especially one based on a leak like this one—drip, drip, drip it out to your audience rather than showering them with it. The reader can absorb drips better than torrents.

Ultimately, more time, and care, was needed, says Shafer: “There was too much material for the newspapers and magazines to swallow on such a short deadline.”

His assessment echoes that of BBC College of Journalism director Kevin Marsh, who reports on Assange’s press conference at the Frontline Club on Monday.

[W]hat was danced around (…) was how much the three news organisations were able to verify and test the documents – and, crucially, their exact provenance – to which WikiLeaks gave them access. In the way they would if they were dealing direct with their own assessable sources.

How much did they know about the source or sources of the document pile? His/her/their motivation? Track record? What was not there and why not? What was incomplete about what was there?

This matters. A lot. Especially if WikiLeaks is to become – or has already become – a kind of stateless brokerage for whistleblowing.

NYU’s Jay Rosen also picks up on the ‘no-fixed abode’ quality of WikiLeaks, calling it the “world’s first stateless news organisation”:

If you go to the WikiLeaks Twitter profile, next to “location” it says: Everywhere. Which is one of the most striking things about it: the world’s first stateless news organization. I can’t think of any prior examples of that (…) WikiLeaks is organized so that if the crackdown comes in one country, the servers can be switched on in another. This is meant to put it beyond the reach of any government or legal system.

According to Assange, WikiLeaks, which is sort-of based in Sweden due to the country’s extremely progressive freedom of information laws, does “not have national security concerns” and is “not a national organisation.” He frequently claims the site’s loyalty is to truth and transparency. Writing for the Telegraph, Will Heaven (whose piece may smack ever so slightly of sour grapes), questions the idea that the organisation has no political agenda.

WikiLeaks is a website with no political agenda, its founder Julian Assange would have you believe. So I’m puzzled by today’s “Afghanistan war log” story. It doesn’t strike me – or many of my colleagues – as politically neutral to feed such sensitive information to three Left-leaning newspapers: namely the Guardian, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel. Even more puzzling that WikiLeaks would choose, very deliberately, to contravene its own mission statement – that crowdsourcing and open data are paramount.

It was Nick Davies of the Guardian with whom the possibility of this kind of publication was first discussed by Assange. The Guardian team threw everything but the kitchen sink at their run on the material, with all the interactive and data know-how we have come to expect of them. Editorially, they focused on bringing to light the abhorrent disregard for the lives of civilians detailed in parts of the logs but largely covered up by the military.

The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed “blue on white” in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents (…)

Accountability is not just something you do when you are caught. It should be part of the way the US and Nato do business in Afghanistan every time they kill or harm civilians. The reports, many of which the Guardian is publishing in full online, present an unvarnished and often compelling account of the reality of modern war.

Media commentator Jeff Jarvis asked Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger if he thought the newspaper should have started WikiLeaks itself, to which Rusbridger responded that he felt it worked better separately. Jarvis claims that the joint publication effort showed that the future of journalism lay in “adding value”:

If you don’t add value, then you’re not needed. And that’s not necessarily bad. When you don’t add value and someone else can perform the task as stenographer or leaker or reporter — and you can link to it — then that means you save resources and money. This means journalists need to look at where they add maximum value.

There were plenty of journalists in attendance when Assange appeared at the Frontline Club again on Tuesday night, this time for an extended discussion with both press and just the plain curious.

“We are not an organisation for protecting troops,” he told the audience. “We are an organisation for protecting human beings.”

To that end, WikiLeaks held back 15,000 of the 92,000 documents contained in the archive because, the organisation claimed, they had the potential to put the lives of civilians and military informers in Afghanistan at risk.

But on Wednesday morning the Times alleged that:

In just two hours of searching the WikiLeaks archive, the Times found the names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing detailed intelligence to US forces. Their villages are given for identification and also, in many cases, their fathers’ names. US officers recorded detailed logs of the information fed to them by named local informants, particularly tribal elders.

The backlash against WikiLeaks and its director gathered steam on Thursday when New York Times editor Bill Keller strongly criticised the organisation in an email to the Daily Beast for making so much of the material available without properly vetting it.

In our own publication, in print and on our website, we were careful to remove anything that could put lives at risk. We could not be sure that the trove posted on WikiLeaks, even with some 15,000 documents held back, would not endanger lives. And, in fact, as we will be reporting in tomorrow’s paper, our subsequent search of the material posted on WikiLeaks found many names of Afghan informants who could now be targets of reprisals by the insurgents (…)

Assange released the information to three mainstream news organizations because we had the wherewithal to mine the data for news and analysis, and because we have a large audience that would take this seriously. I think the public interest was served by that. His decision to release the data to everyone, however, had potential consequences that I think anyone, regardless of how he views the war, would find regrettable.

WikiLeaks has acted grossly irresponsibly in the eyes of some press organisations, but it has been lauded by others as a pioneer for both its commitment to increasing transparency – and in doing so encouraging reform – and for its approach to publicising the logs and trying to achieve the maximum amount of impact for material that people have risked a great deal to expose. From the Editorsweblog:

Getting media outlets involved early was a way to make sure that there was comprehensive coverage of the information. WikiLeaks is not trying to be a news outlet, it wants to get the information out there, but does not intend to provide the kind of analysis that a newspaper might. As Nick Davies told CJR, agreeing to release the information simultaneously let each of the three newspapers know that they had an almost exclusive story in which it was worth investing time and effort. And as Poynter noted, its exclusivity caused competitors to scramble and try to bring something new out of the story.

Whichever side of the fence you fall on, it is difficult to deny that the method of the leak marks a significant change in the organisation’s relationship with the news media and in the role the industry has to play in events of this kind.

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BuzzMachine: ‘The importance of provenance’

Jeff Jarvis has a good piece on process, sourcing and trust, initiated by a Washington Post piece about the McCrystal case that cited unnamed complainers.

…[E]ditors at the Washington Post and everywhere else must learn that it’s no longer good enough to think that the buck can stop at them, that they can be the validators of trust, that we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about where their news comes from. This is why we, the readers, must get better at accepting and valuing the results of more openness and be proficient at judging sources for ourselves. This is why companies must understand that they will be expected to open up their processes.

“Provenance is no longer merely the nicety of artists, academics, and wine makers. It is an ethic we expect,” says Jarvis.

Full post at this link…

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Can journalism survive in the digital era?

April 13th, 2010 | 5 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

On Sunday the Edinburgh International Science Festival event ‘Journalism in the Digital Age: Trends, Tools and Technologies’ posed the question: Can journalism survive in the digital era?

There to address the issue were a panel of speakers from the worlds of journalism, academia and public relations, each of whom gave a five minute presentation followed by a brief Q&A.

Sarah Hartley, who oversees the Guardian’s new Beat Bloggers initiative, pointed out that people are “no longer happy to passively receive” information. She suggested that news organisations now have to accept that it is “the end of us and them”, and factor in audience interaction as an integral part of their workload. She also pointed out that creating web-specific content is essential rather than merely recycling print content on the web.

Kate Smith, media lecturer at Edinburgh’s Napier University spoke on the role of educational institutions in helping trainee journalists prepare for the future media environment and suggested that the basic principles and values of journalism should still be emphasised. Video games and PR expert Brian Baglow, who gave a presentation on citizen journalism, echoed her sentiment, assuring journalists that they had “skills and understanding that most bloggers don’t” and were still needed for their “expert investigation and analysis”.

Iain Hepburn, digital editor at the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail shared his love of podcasting, praising the “intimacy” of audio and the “visceral appeal” of video. Hepburn went on to claim that affordable, easy to use products like Flip cameras were allowing journalists to make “documentary quality” films without any prior expertise, and described how a smartphone can now be used to cover events where previously several pieces of kit would have been necessary.

Finally, Martin Belam, information architect for Guardian.co.uk, took us through a potted history of journalism, beginning with the very early years, when “storytelling was concentrated in the hands of some monks”, to today’s world where even local newspapers such as The Belfast Telegraph can reach a global audience. He also spoke about the increasing demands on journalists for real-time coverage, the effect of social media/online pressure groups on news, and the potential of the semantic web.

It wasn’t until the Q&A session that the thorny issue of the industry’s financial future was raised, with one journalist in the audience asking: “How are we going to get paid? Mercedes don’t give away cars, but you are all giving away content everyday online.”

The panel had no concrete answers, but Rupert Murdoch’s new paywall model and Jeff Jarvis’ arguments in favour of a link economy were given serious consideration.

There was also some hope that a proven willingness to pay for mobile apps could lead to more substantial subscription based models for e-readers such as the iPad.

Milo McLaughlin is a freelance multimedia journalist specialising in arts and technology. He blogs at milomclaughlin.co.uk.

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Why your opinion doesn’t matter

As a postscript to today’s link to a BuzzMachine post on messy comments, here’s Doug Stanhope on why your opinion doesn’t matter, from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe last month.



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BuzzMachine: Comments and how to play host

Jeff Jarvis takes a look at online comments: the problem isn’t messy comments (likened to graffiti), but the way one deals with them, he argues.

Should comments as a form of conversation be eliminated? No, of course not. The tool isn’t the problem (any more than blogging tools or printing presses are). If you eliminate comments that’s even more insulting than not listening to them and it risks giving up the incredible value the public can give if only they are enabled to (a value I saw so clearly in the comments under my posts here or here). The issue isn’t comments or identity or registration or tools. The issue is how you play host.

Full post at this link…

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Buzz links for journalists

We’ll be back with a fuller report on Buzz for journalists once we’ve played with it a bit more and had some of our questions answered by Google. In the meantime, here’s a small selection of the good and not-so good buzz around Google’s latest launch.

[You can follow Journalism.co.uk on Buzz here: http://www.google.com/profiles/journalism.co.uk]

On the positive side:

And on the negative:

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