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2012 World Press Photo winners announced

February 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Journalism, Photography

A Spanish freelance photographer’s image of a woman in Yemen, holding her wounded son in her arms, has been named the World Press Photo of the Year at the annual awards.

The picture, taken by Samuel Aranda for the New York Times, was among more than 100,000 photographs from the world over that were considered by this year’s judges.

Images of protestors in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrating Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, rebels holding out against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami, also received top prizes.

The full gallery can be seen on the World Press Photo website.

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NY Times: ‘US editors still don’t want journalists to be human’

The New York Times has an article by Mathew Ingram of Gigaom who feels US news editors seem to be saying “don’t allow your journalists to be human, under any circumstances” when it comes to social media. The article is based on a social media policy overview from the American Society of News Editors which finds that “breaking news on Twitter is not advisable”, according to news editors.

There’s the typical media-industry bogeyman that lies behind most of these policies: the staffer who types things into Twitter without thinking, maybe even (gasp!) breaking news on the social network before his organisation has a chance to craft a story. And what happens then? Chaos! The very foundations of the media industry crumbling, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria. None of that actually happens, of course, but most traditional media policies seem to harbor the fear that it might.

Ingram goes on to say:

To take just one example, the report mentions the case of Octavia Nasr, a senior editor at CNN with decades of experience in the Middle East, who posted something on Twitter expressing regret that a Hezbollah leader had died. Although he was known as a terrorist, Nasr said he was also a force for tolerance toward women in the region, and that’s why she said what she did. Defensible? Totally, as I wrote at the time. But CNN fired her. The ASNE report uses this as an example of why people should be careful what they say, but I think it’s an example of why organizations like CNN are dinosaurs.

Do people express themselves on social networks? Of course they do. Should they avoid being stupid or offensive? Yes. But to expect them to have no opinions — and then to fire or sanction them when they do — is naive in the extreme.

The report also states that breaking news on Twitter is not advisable — those kinds of reports should be saved for the newspaper, it says, because the purpose of social media is to “drive traffic” to the reporter or editor’s website. So presumably that means New York Times  media reporter Brian Stelter shouldn’t have re-tweeted the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and shouldn’t have pointed out how credible the report was because it came from the former Secretary of Defense’s chief of staff.

Ingram’s full article is at this link.

Are the social media policies of UK newsrooms more progressive than the US? Or is the message from editors that journalists should now be human and breaking news should not be the preserve of the newspaper?

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NY Times: Flip users have 30 days to save videos on FlipShare

The New York Times Gadgetwise blog is reporting that Flip users have 30 days to save any videos uploaded to FlipShare, the video-sharing site for the Flip video camera. Last month Flip owner Cisco announced it was discontinuing the Flip, a favourite of multimedia journalists.

FlipShare will exist until 31 December 2013 and Cisco will continue to provide technical support for Flip users until that date.

Here is the nearer deadline: Cisco has put a 30-day expiration date on videos and photos stored on FlipShare’s Web service. Starting May 12, videos will expire 30 days after being loaded. Cisco doesn’t say explicitly what happens after 30 days, but presumably they will be erased. This  also applies to videos that have been posted before May 12, so you have about a month to rescue all of those videos you have archived on FlipShare.

There is a step-by-step explanation of how to move your videos from the web to your computer here, on the Flip Web site.

Flip videos that you share to Facebook and YouTube aren’t subject to expiration.

The full Gadget wise post is at this link

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Independent: Ten years of FT’s metered pay model

The Independent reports on the 10th anniversary of the Financial Times’ metered paywall going up.

For a decade the FT has allowed readers to access a limited number of articles for free before payment is required, a similar paywall model to that adopted by the New York Times last week. The FT has notched up 210,000 digital subscribers, each paying at least £250 for a year’s access.

[Managing director of FT.com Rob] Grimshaw points to the price of an FT digital subscription in the US – at $389 (£241), it is costlier than a subscription to the newspaper – as evidence of the growing value of digital content to the consumer.

Yet the view that online journalism should be free still largely prevails. Grimshaw is mystified: “There seems to be a real nervousness and lack of confidence amongst publishers about the lack of value of their content. The free content evangelism movement has not helped, neither has giving away content for free over a 10-year period.”

But as a couple of the comments on the article point out, the FT is a specialist publication and both companies and individuals are willing to pay for valued digital content.

The Independent’s full article is at this link

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NYTimes.com: Video of four journalists held in Libya

March 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Multimedia

The four New York Times journalists freed after being held for six days in Libya earlier this month, reflect on their time in captivity in a video on NYTimes.com.

Following their release they spoke of the ‘days of brutality’ they faced while being detained.

British born foreign correspondent Stephen Farrell; photographer Lynsey Addario, who has also been detained and held at gunpoint in Iraq, photographer Tyler Hicks and Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid describe how they were punched, kicked and groped, and driven for eight hours to “the heart of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime”, described by Farrell as “a very rare insight for western journalists”.

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Should we ‘pay the wall’ to maintain quality journalism?

March 30th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

Should we pay for a digital subscription if we want to maintain quality journalism?

In this article on ZDNet, Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times reporter who writes about the intersection of technology and media, is urging people to “pay the wall” to “help to make an important contribution to the quality of our society and government”.

We need quality journalism because: media is how a society thinks about things.

Media is vital to our decision process.

We are facing a media landscape that is becoming ever more dominated by garbage media and that means that we, as a society, will be making bad decisions.

He argues that just because online news started out being free, it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have to remain that way.

It seems that the Geekorati believe that once something is free then it should be free forever, and that if you can get past the New York Times paywall, then you are smart.

But will becoming a paid-up digital subscriber raise newspaper revenues? And what effect is digital having on falling print circulations?

The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh and paidContent UK’s Robert Andrews have both taken a closer look at News International’s claim that, despite a sharp decline in sales of the print edition of the Times, overall circulation has increased with the addition of 79,000 digital subscribers, who pay to read the Times and Sunday Times online, on an iPad, or on a Kindle, according to figures released this week.

Sabbagh has made an educated guess at income from digital versus print and reckons the Times makes around £7.50 a month from each digital reader and £25 a month from those who buy a paper.

Now we can apply these values to the paywall numbers. What’s been lost are 58,421 print buyers of the Monday to Saturday Times – and 74,557 readers of the Sunday Times. The blended average decline is 60,726 – and the lost revenues for each of those readers is £25 a month as discussed. That’s a monthly revenue lost of £1.51m, or £18.2m a year. (Actually it’s a bit lower because there’ll be some print subscribers paying less than the news stand rate, but never mind that – the broad principle still holds).

Meanwhile, there have been 79,000 new online customers at £7.50 a month. That’s revenue gained of 592,500 a month (£7.1m a year). That’s a useful sum of money, but it is clearly not as much as the revenue lost from declining print copy sales.

Andrews also delves into the Times stats:

Our take (1): In other words, the papers notched 50,000 digi subs in their first four months – but only 29,000 additional subs in their second four months.

This is a slowdown. The Sunday Times iPad app, which launched in the second period, should have bumped up these total subs slightly. The challenge now is to maintain new subscriptions at a high rate and, in time, to keep churn low – new concepts, when applied to consumer news.

The Times has another challenge. It has seen a decrease of 12.1 per cent in circulation of its print edition within the past year. But is the decrease due to the fact the Times increased the cost of its print subscription or have newspaper readers moved to become digital readers? It is impossible to say but it will be interesting to keep an eye on the subscriber and print figures for the New York Times, which went behind a ‘porous paywall’ last week, easing readers in with  $0.99 a month subscription rate. Its model differs from the Times in the UK, but the more the paywall model is tested, the greater the understanding of the paid-for digital era.

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New York Times: Not doing any paywall coverage in its own back yard

March 7th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

A comment by the public editor of the New York Times points out how little coverage the newspaper has given to its plans to start charging for access to its website.

… The Times has published multiple stories in the past year on the introduction of an Internet paywall by Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London. It also covered in-depth the seamy controversy engulfing another Murdoch property in Britain, News of the World, as it contended with charges of unlawfully hacking into celebrities’ cellphone messages.

Of the Times’s own pay model for its Web site, though, all that has trickled into print is an initial story 14 months ago announcing that the plan would be carried out in a year, plus occasional subsequent references to the looming event. No significant story has been published — at least not as of my Friday evening deadline for this column.

Full post on the NYT at this link.

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Editors Weblog: The New York Times Magazine to launch redesign

The Editors Weblog reported on yesterday’s relaunch of the New York Times Magazine. The magazine includes new features, new columnists, and some contributions from the newsroom staff of the New York Times.

The post also reports on a new blog launched on the magazine’s website last week.

On March 2nd, the site began The 6th Floor Blog: Eavesdropping on the Times Magazine. In its inaugural post, editor Hugo Lindgren explained, “This blog is meant as a humble complement to the magazine — a place to let readers listen in on the conversations that happen in the office.”  Several blogs have already been posted on a broad range of topics, from Libya’s ties to the British elite, to the question of what makes a good apology.

Full post on Editors Weblog at this link.

 

 

 

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New York Times considers creating own in-house WikiLeaks

The New York Times is considering setting up its own in-house version of WikiLeaks, according to editor Bill Keller.

Keller told Yahoo’s The Cutline blog that he is “looking at something along the lines” of Al Jazeera’s Transparency Unit, which was instrumental in the recent publication of the Palestine Papers by Al Jazeera and the Guardian.

“Nothing is nailed down”, according to Keller, but he has sketched out the idea behind the possible division:

A small group from computer-assisted reporting and interactive news, with advice from the investigative unit and the legal department, has been discussing options for creating a kind of EZ Pass lane for leakers.

The New York Times was one of three media partners – including the Guardian and der Spiegel – that worked with WikiLeaks on the release of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.

The NYT was also one of five newspapers that had advanced access to WikiLeaks’ next release, the US embassy cables. It was subsequently revealed however that the NYT was forced to obtain its copy of the cable from the Guardian, having been cut out of the loop by WikiLeaks.

Given the difficulty Keller had in obtaining advanced access to the embassy cables, and the general risks of relying on organisations such as WikiLeaks, we may yet see many more national news organisations following suit and establishing their own sections to deal directly with leaks.

Full story on The Cutline at this link.

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Comment: Joe Lieberman, the New York Times and the idea of ‘bad citizenship’

Speaking to Fox News yesterday, Senator Joe Lieberman, who is among WikiLeaks’ fiercest critics, makes very clear his desire to see the organisation’s founder Julian Assange extradited to the US and indicted by any means possible. Or not possible just now, but possible very soon, perhaps.

More interesting than Lieberman’s quite naked desire to prosecute Assange or WikiLeaks, or both, is his speculation that the New York Times may have also committed a crime and may also be subject to some form of prosecution.

That isn’t a great leap though, if WikiLeaks has committed a crime in publishing the cables then surely the New York Times has also committed a crime. It seems likely that attorney general Eric Holder, try as he might, will have enough trouble bringing a case against WikiLeaks. The state has been bitten once already in this kind of fight with the Times and I suspect it will be quite shy about trying again.

More interesting still is Lieberman’s comment toward the end of the interview:

I think the New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship.

Holder can’t indict the Times for bad citizenship – yet – but the charge is an interesting one. It rests, at least in part, on the assumption that the interests and motives of the ‘good citizen’ align with those of the government. The American author Don DeLillo succinctly exposed the error in this assumption in 1988, in response to a very similar criticism by newspaper columnist George Will.

That year Will published a scathing review of DeLillo’s novel Libra in the Washington Post. He wasn’t a huge fan of the book. He called it:

… an act of literary vandalism and bad citizenship.

DeLillo’s novel, which tells of the events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, mixes fact and fiction in the mold of Public Burning or Executioner’s Song. It challenges the official version of events presented by the Warren Commission report. In doing so it wounded George Will and, in Will’s mind, America too. The New York Times’ publication and coverage of the embassy cables has wounded Joe Lieberman and in Lieberman’s mind, America too. Lieberman makes his feelings plain in the Fox News interview: rather than discuss the possible indictment of Julian Assange in the (relatively) factual terms of breaking the law or not breaking the law, Lieberman whimpers about the “negative consequences” for America, about the country being “hurt”.

It sure looks to me on the facts that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have violated America’s espionage act, with great negative consequences for us.

He ought to be indicted and then we can ask the authorities to in England to extradite him to the United States. If we don’t do that someone else will come along and do exactly what WikiLeaks has done and that will hurt America even more.

But did DeLillo’s novel hurt America? Will the embassy cables? Are they acts of ‘bad citizenship’? More importantly, is an act of ‘bad citizenship’ a bad thing? Should the newspaper feel chastened?

This was DeLillo’s response to Will:

I don’t take it seriously, but being called a bad citizen is a compliment to a novelist, at least to my mind. That’s exactly what we ought to do. We ought to be bad citizens. We ought to, in the sense that we are writing against what power represents, and often what the government represents … In that sense, if we’re bad citizens, we’re doing our job.

Journalists should, of course be responsible, professional, and transparent where possible, but if the Times did not act as a ‘bad citizen’ in Will’s and Lieberman’s terms, would its journalists be doing their jobs?

Whether or not the newspaper has committed a crime is one thing but this stuff about ‘bad citizenship’, this stuff about America the Brave being wounded by one of its own, is as ludicrous now as it was when George Will said it. The New York Times should pledge allegiance to the truth, not the flag.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a good citizen?

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