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CJR: The Guardian’s Washington bureau chief on US/UK news models

Our second pick from the Columbia Journalism Review today: a lengthy Q&A with the Guardian’s Washington bureau chief, Ewen MacAskill.

There is lots of ground covered; MacAskill’s explanation of the Guardian’s approach in the States and his thoughts on differences between US and UK journalistic technique make particularly interesting reading.  An extract:

“[I]n some ways, the American system is more transparent, but because of the more adversarial system in Britain, sometimes more stories come out there. It’s a contradiction: the American system is more transparent, but in spite of that, an awful lot goes on behind the scenes that we never get to hear about.”

Full Q&A at this link…

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CJR: A ‘new threat’ to Middle East journalism – created in the US

A piece by Lawrence Pintak and Yosri Fouda in the Columbia Journalism Review argues that ‘well-meaning’ Western journalism rights groups undermine journalism ‘by defending Arab and Iranian online activists who have been jailed or harassed by the authorities’.

Full story at this link…

The Committee to Protect Journalists responds here.

(via Nigel Barlow)


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HuffPo doesn’t like being linked to… really?

June 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

“HuffPo Scolds Washingon City Paper for Linking,” says a Washington City Paper headline.

You what? The HuffPo doesn’t like links? Well, one in particular: a link to the HuffingtonPost’s site from a spoof site, made by the Washington City Paper for April Fool’s.

Here’s a summary from Jane Kim at the Columbia Journalism Review:

“This past Tuesday, City Paper columnist Amanda Hess blasted HuffPo for its nipple- (or is that traffic-) driven priorities, after which City Paper received a request from HuffPo asking it to take down the parody page from its archive. One of its reasons: ‘The official was perturbed,’ writes Wemple, ‘that the parody page that virtually no one has clicked on since April Fool’s contains a link to the Huffington Post site.’ No switching necessary (though perhaps a little bit of baiting) in that headline after all.”

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Columbia Journalism Review: Identity crisis at the Wall Street Journal?

Liza Featherstone takes a look at working relationships and attitudes at the Wall Street Journal, since it was sold to Rupert Murdoch in 2007, for the Columbia Journalism Review.

“At the Journal’s offices in lower Manhattan, just about everyone is grateful that the new owner has deep pockets and is willing to invest in reporting – both rare commodities in the industry these days. Yet there are reasons to fear that in the midst of a global financial crisis, arguably the biggest test a business newspaper could face, with greater demand for high-quality journalism on finance and the economy than at anytime in decades, the Journal is abandoning values that have long distinguished it: a commitment to deep reporting and elegant writing.”

Full post at this link…

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Fox News transcript: Bernard Goldberg accuses NYTimes journalist of ‘metrosexual’ question

Spotted on a few blogs via Technorati, this clip from Fox News. Here at Breitbart.tv, and the PajamaPundit, for example. See also the Columbia Journalism Review’s round-up, at this link.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly asks Bernard Goldberg, author of ‘A Slobbering Love Affair’ what he makes of a New York Times’ reporter’s question to Obama at the 100 day press briefing. Goldberg says it is a ‘soft’ question that ‘fits our metrosexual times’. “Today’s men, a lot of men today, even men in powerful positions, especially men in journalism, they’re softer, they’re what a friend of mine calls NPR men,” adds Bernard Goldberg.

The transcript from the O’Reilly Factor:

Bill O’Reilly: “The worst question was one that I cited in my Talking Points memo… Roll tape.”

[shows clip]

Jeff Zeleny, the New York Times: “During these first 100 days what has surprised you most about this office? Enchanted you the most about serving this office; humbled you the most; and troubled you the most?”

Obama: “Now, let me write this down…”

[ends clip]

O’Reilly: “Did he actually say enchanted you the most? Did he actually say that word enchanted?”

Bernard Goldberg: “Yeah, well we’re saying this is the worst question but it’s really a fascinating question. Now let me tell you why. I cannot picture any journalist asking Franklin Roosevelt if he was enchanted. Or Harry Truman. I mean, he had a foul mouth if he was enchanted. Or Dwight Eisenhower. Or even Kennedy or Nixon. Because they were men of a different era, they were men of a John Wayne era. Today’s men, a lot of men today, even men in powerful positions, especially men in journalism, they’re softer – they’re what a friend of mine calls NPR men. They want to know about your feelings. Whether you’re enchanted. If I did a piece about you Bill, for my website or for a magazine, and I said ‘Bill what is it that enchants you?’ You’d punch me in the head.”

O’Reilly: “I don’t know what that means… I know what the enchanted forest is…”

Goldberg: “It’s the kind of question that fits our metrosexual times, if you know what I mean.”

O’Reilly: “I agree, it was a softball question.”

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Project for Excellence in Journalism: The State of the Media report 2009 – ‘the bleakest yet’

Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its State of the Media report and – unsurprisingly – the annual evaluation of the US media scene makes for particularly depressing reading this time around.

As the report points out, the problems created by growing online audiences for legacy news organisations have been excerbated by a simultaneous economic collapse.

“Journalism, deluded by its profitability and fearful of technology, let others outside the industry steal chance after chance online. By 2008, the industry had finally begun to get serious. Now the global recession has made that harder,” reads the report.

The report in full, including individual sections on magazines, newspapers, online, local TV and network TV, can be read at this link, but below are some key findings:

Newspapers

In numbers:

  • One in five journalists who were employed by a newspaper in 2001 have gone
  • Around 5,000 professional newspaper jobs are suggested to have been lost in 2008
  • Last year, publicly traded newspaper stocks lost 83 per cent of their remaining value, having already dropped by 43 per cent between 2005-7

On survival:

  • Many US newspapers are planning a geographical retreat in circulation to cut costs
  • Plans to go online-only may not save as much money as hoped, the report suggests:

“Papers still make roughly 90% of their revenue from print and, although the numbers vary by paper, the cost of printing and delivering the printed newspaper averages 40% of costs. For now, it doesn’t add up to sacrifice potentially 90% of revenues to save 40% of costs.”

  • What newspapers will survive and what structural differences to these survivors have, asks the report. Will print still be a part of these news brands?
  • The death of the newspaper industry is not imminent, adds the study, as on the whole US newspapers were profitable in 2008

Hope for the future?

  • Alternative news operations and websites have continued to grow in number, BUT the scale of these is still small and they lack profitability
  • Newspapers have improved over the last year in adapting to new trends and building partnerships

Online

  • Insufficient innovation in online advertising
  • When it comes to alternative, online news start-ups and distribution models, ‘[T]here has been little honest assessment of economic sustainability’, says the research
  • Yahoo news continues to dominant as main news source online – its newspaper advertising partnership and human-based news editing are particular assets, suggests the report

Special analysis of citizen media and new journalism ventures is also offered in the report. Contributor to the newspaper section of the report, Danna L. Walker, blogs here; while the Columbia Journalism Review has created a ‘guess the year of the report’ quiz game.

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Mediabistro: CJR to investigate magazines’ online problem

February 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has received a $230,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to investigate why magazine websites are struggling to grow online traffic and audiences.

Full story at this link…

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CJR: The Polis financial journalism paper dissected across the pond

January 28th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

A take on the Polis paper from the States. The Columbia Journalism Review’s Dean Starkman says that the Polis’ ‘What is Financial Journalism For?’ report addresses ‘one of those big, “dumb” questions’ that he ‘finds so valuable.’

“Those kinds of questions don’t get asked much on this side of the pond. That’s too bad. Even the subject of business media’s performance in advance of the current crisis seems to be something of a taboo.

“The scant attention the subject has received has been either the once-over-lightly treatment, a la Howard Kurtz, and or an ‘all-clear’ for the business press from our cousins over at the American Journalism Review.”

Full story…

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Covering media job cuts – staff facing redundancy speak online

December 16th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Journalism

Having set up a timeline dedicated to reporting on the sweeping job cuts affecting both senior and junior journalists alike, a trend is emerging for laid-off staff to use blogs, Twitter and other online sites and tools to capture their redundancy.

Reports such as Martin Gee’s set of Flickr images from his last day at the San Jose Mercury give a highly individual picture of how these cuts are being felt on a personal level beyond the redundancy figures and prediction stats.

In the summer, the Columbia Journalism Review started its ‘Parting Thoughts’ series, posting responses from journalists leaving the industry or facing redundancy.

At the Gannett Blog, former Gannett editor Jim Hopkins crowdsourced a blogpost of lay-offs by the publisher, listed by newspaper area – at time of writing redundancies at 72 of Gannett’s 85 US titles affected by the company’s latest round of job cuts were accounted for in Hopkins’ post.

In an open blog post last week, Ryan Carson, co-founder of web application design and events agency Carsonified, used the company’s blog to share his thoughts about staff cuts and give the reasons for making them.

Carson went on to give tips for companies looking to recession-proof their business (points that some commenters on the post argue are common sense no matter what the economic situation).

The Spokesman-Review has used its Daily Briefing blog to cover staff leaving in an equally personal and open way. News of senior staff exiting the paper, such as editor Steve Smith and assistant managing editor Carla Savalli, was broken on the blog and posts have also been penned by outgoing journalists, including Thuy Dzuong:

“Folks, it’s been fun but The layoff list for non-managers has been finalized, and I’m on it.”

Last week Silicon Alley Insider built a ‘real time’-style page to cover lay-offs at parent company Yahoo, updating it as new info came in.

(UPDATE – The Rocky Mountain News has launched iwantmyrocky.com to canvas support for the newspaper)

Despite the sad circumstances, the way in which journalists and media workers are facing redundancy in these examples shows a real engagement with online tools. A personal picture of what is happening to the industry is being documented for future reference by these staff members expressing themselves so openly (and perhaps significantly being ‘allowed’ to express themselves by their past/present employers).

What is more, while they may not hold the answers to the problems currently faced by the media industry, they shed light on how these issues are perceived and felt on the frontline. Something which employers should read and learn from.

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So was it the ‘Blogs Wot Won It’ for Barack?

November 5th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Mobile, Multimedia, Online Journalism

So it doesn’t need saying that US Election 2008 took place in a very different media climate from the one experienced in 2004: just take a look at CNN à la 2004, and CNN right now.

It’s hard to actually think back and remember that four years ago the focus for many of this year’s online followers was still on the TV screen.

Last night we followed live-streams. We Twittered. We traced maps. We enjoyed striking homepage designs as the results came in.

This was the year for multimedia to really come into its own. The public outside the electoral college had a chance to participate from afar. Many bloggers might not have had a vote, but they could be influential: by spreading round a Sarah Palin debate flow-chart, casting a vote on a remote voting map, or putting a supporting button onto their sites (the online version of the rosette).

MercuryNews.com gave these, as the ninth and tenth reasons for McCain’s defeat:

9. “The Internet. Obama broke an earlier pledge and opted out of public financing, allowing him to raise at least $200 million in September and October, in millions of donations averaging $86. He raised more than twice as much money as McCain, and was able to pay for staff and ads in states and in numbers that McCain could only dream about. His 30-minute infomercial six days before the election drew more than 34 million viewers — more people than watched the finale of ‘American Idol’ last year or the final game of the World Series.”

10. “Better ground game. Obama mobilized young people and used technology, from text messages to internet meet-ups, in ways that built the first truly 21st century campaign. It might have brought guffaws at the GOP Convention, but it turns out that being a ‘community organizer’ is a good skill to have when running a presidential campaign.”

Obama’s campaign page thanks the various efforts of his internet supporters, links to his mobile content, and shows where you can find ‘Obama everywhere':

Facebook Black Planet
MySpace Faithbase
YouTube Eons
Flickr Glee
Digg MiGente
Twitter MyBatanga
Eventful Asian Ave
LinkedIn DNC PartyBuilder

And what about the negative effect for McCain? You may have your reservations about this story, but Fox News reported in July how McCain supporters could have been hijacked through spam reports to Google Blogger, prompting a Republican blogger move over to WordPress.

Renee Feltz, over at the Columbia Journalism Review, looks in detail at whether McCain was ‘blogged down in the past’ with ‘top-down internet tactics’, which left him unable to keep up with Obama’s social networking strategy.

This diagram shows the online blog cluster:

(screenshot, courtesy of Morningside Analytics via CJR)

Feltz describes how the map “shows a ‘halo’ of about 500 relatively new blogs in two isolated clusters. One cluster includes several hundred anti-Obama blogs (orange) and the other contains several hundred pro-McCain and pro-Palin blogs (green).”

Their isolation shows that they are not well-connected to political blogs with the longer histories, a point which John Kelly, Morningside’s chief scientist and an affiliate of the Berkman Center, explains on the CJR post.

Please do add your own Obama bloggin’ thoughts here. Was is the blogs, and which ones, which gave Obama strength? And what should we expect on the multimedia horizon for 2012?

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