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Charles Apple: Newsweek photo-cropping row

Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist David Hume Kennerly is not at all happy with the way Newsweek magazine cropped his photo of former vice-president Dick Cheney at home with his family, Charles Apple notes on his blog. The original photograph shows Cheney leaned over a chopping board, with his family in the background. The cropped version shows the vice-president only, to illustrate quotes that he made about C.I.A. interrogators.

“This incident is another example of why many people don’t believe what they see or read. And America clearly notices these shifts in journalism,” wrote Kennerly in a piece for the New York Times site. Newsweek has defended its use of the photo.

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SimsBlog: ‘Top 10 lies newspaper execs are telling themselves’

September 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Judy Sims, once vice president, digital media for the Toronto Star Media Group, offers up a list of lies newspaper executives might tell themselves to deflect from the reality of the crises faced by their industry:

1. “We can manage this disruption from within an integrated organisation”

2. “Print advertising reps can sell online advertising too”

3. “Aggregators are killing my business”

4. “We can recreate scarcity by putting up pay walls”

5.  “Our readers paid for news in the past, they will again”

6. “There will never be enough online revenue to support our newsroom’

7. “No one will ever cover crime/health/city hall the way we do”

8. “Our readers can’t be trusted/they are idiots/they are assholes”

9.  “Democracy will collapse without us”

10.  “I can compete with the best digital leaders/thinkers/creators in the world without becoming an active member of the online community”

Sims gives her own take on the thinking behind the ‘lies’ and why she thinks they’re false – agree or disagree?

Full list at this link…

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Walter Cronkite: death of America’s ‘most trusted’ news voice

July 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

WalterCronkite1-799355America has lost a top celebrity anchorman, whose news delivery was so influential, he came to be called ‘the most trusted man in America’.

He died peacefully at his home, on Friday July 17, at the age of 92.

Walter Cronkite was an anchorman for CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, reading news including a wide range of historical events: the moon landings, Watergate, John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Vietnam war.

He had a reassuring manner of delivering the news that inspired confidence and trust in the audience. Every evening 70 million Americans heard him deliver his broadcast, which invariably concluded with the parting words “And that’s the way it is.”

He was born Walter Leland Cronkite Jr on November 4th, 1916 in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of a dentist. As a teenager, his family moved to Houston, where he had his first junior reporter job at The Houston Post – and at the same time delivering the very paper for which he worked.

Known for his trademark clipped moustache and grave voice, he was affectionately known as Uncle Walt, owing to a resemblance to Walt Disney. Despite his popularity, Cronkite was uncomfortable with his celebrity status and declined a proposal for a Walter Cronkite fan club saying: “I don’t think news people ought to have fan clubs.” He also brushed aside suggestions for him to stand for vice-president, even president. The only job he had ever wanted was that of reporter.

No amount of friendship or adulation could compromise Cronkite’s journalistic integrity. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, “When I wanted to make a point Cronkite was the first person I would call. I was sure I was getting a fair interview – tough but fair.”

Some of Cronkite’s finest moments:

  • 1963: Assassination of President John F . Kennedy: Walter Cronkite famously displays a rare show of emotion, taking off his glasses to fight back tears as he announces the death of President Kennedy. Video below:

  • 1968: Vietnam War: After visiting Vietnam in 1968, he called the war ‘a stalemate’ and made his pro-peace stance clear. His views were so influential that, having watched the broadcast, the then US President Lyndon Johnson reportedly said, “I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Two weeks later  Johnson resigned and announced he would not stand for re-election. Walter Cronkite on the Vietnam War.
  • 1977: Cronkite’s interview with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin led to Sadat visiting Jerusalem and signing the peace accords the following year at Camp David.

Cronkite retired from from the CBS evening news programme in 1981, handing it over to Dan Rather, but continued producing special reports for the CBS network and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour. In 1983 he covered the general elections in the UK for ITV and interviewed Margaret Thatcher.

He is survived by a son, two daughters and four grandsons.

Useful related links:

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Media Release: David Fordham named Newspaper Society president

July 1st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Media releases, Newspapers

David Fordham, chief executive of Iliffe News and Media, has been appointed as president of the Newspaper Society.

Georgina Harvey, Trinity Mirror Regionals managing director, has been named as vice president.

Full release at this link…

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NYTimes.com: N. Korea sentences American journalists to 12 years hard labour

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in North Korea ‘in a case widely seen as a test of how far the isolated Communist state was willing to take its confrontation with the United States,’ the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee were on a reporting assignment from Current TV, a San Francisco-based media company co-founded by Al Gore, the former vice president, when they were detained by the soldiers.”

Full story at this link…

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Todd Gitlin’s keynote JiC speech transcript: The four wolves who crept up to journalism’s door

Following our round-up of the Westminster students coverage of last week’s Journalism in Crisis conference, we’ll link to one final item:

Professor Todd Gitlin’s keynote speech, given via Skype, on the first day of the Westminster University / British Journalism Review Journalism in Crisis event (May 19):  ‘A Surfeit of Crises: Circulation, Revenue, Attention, Authority, and Deference’.

Gitlin, who is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, talked about how four wolves have arrived at the door of journalism ‘simultaneously, while a fifth has already been lurking for some time’. These were the wolves no-one was expecting, because everyone’s been crying wolf for so long. Gitlin spoke mainly in regards to American journalism because ‘it is what I know best’.

He used quotes and statistics from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism ‘Changing Newsroom’ 2008 report, and also his own anecdotal evidence and academic references, to illustrate the predicament – which he feels is fair to call a number of ‘crises’ – that journalism faces.

Here are a few choice extracts:

  • The four wolves at the door, and the fifth one lurking: “One is the precipitous decline in the circulation of newspapers.  The second is the decline in advertising revenue, which, combined with the first, has badly damaged the profitability of newspapers. The third, contributing to the first, is the diffusion of attention.  The fourth is the more elusive crisis of authority. The fifth, a perennial – so much so as to be perhaps a condition more than a crisis – is journalism’s inability or unwillingness to penetrate the veil of obfuscation behind which power conducts its risky business.”
  • Circulation of newspapers: “Overall, newspaper circulation has dropped 13.5 per cent for the dailies and 17.3 per cent for the Sunday editions since 2001; almost 5 per cent just in 2008.  In what some are calling the Great Recession, advertising revenue is down – 23 per cent over the last two years – even as paper costs are up.  Nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone.  Foreign bureaus have been shuttered – all those of the Boston Globe, for example, New England’s major paper.
  • “I have been speaking about newspapers’ recent decline, but to limit the discussion to the last decade or so both overstates the precipitous danger and understates the magnitude of a secular crisis—which is probably a protracted crisis in the way in which people know—or believe they know—the world.  In the US, newspaper circulation has been declining, per capita, at a constant rate since 1960. The young are not reading the papers.  While they say they ‘look’ at the papers online, it is not clear how much looking they do.”
  • “The newspaper was always a tool for simultaneity (you don’t so much read a paper as swim around in it, McLuhan was fond of saying) at least as much as a tool for cognitive sequence.  What if the sensibility that is now consolidating itself—with the Internet, mobile phones, GPS, Facebook and Twitter and so on – the media for the Daily Me, for point-to-point and many-to-many transmission—what if all this portends an irreversible sea-change in the very conditions of successful business?”
  • The Clamor for Attention: “Attention has been migrating from slower access to faster; from concentration to multitasking; from the textual to the visual and the auditory, and toward multi-media combinations.  Multitasking alters cognitive patterns.  Attention attenuates.  Advertisers have for decades talked about the need to ‘break through the clutter,’ the clutter consisting, amusingly, of everyone else’s attempts to break through the clutter.  Now, media and not just messages clutter.”
  • “Just under one-fifth of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 claim to look at a daily newspaper – which is not to say how much of it they read. The average American newspaper reader is 55 years old. Of course significant numbers of readers are accessing – which is not to say reading – newspapers online, but the amount of time they seem to spend there is bifurcated.  In roughly half of the top 30 newspaper sites, readership is steady or falling.  Still, ‘of the top 5 online newspapers –  ranked by unique users – [the] three [national papers] reported growth in the average time spent per person: NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, and the Wall Street Journal Online.’ One thing is clear:  Whatever the readership online, it is not profitable.”
  • “The question that remains, the question that makes serious journalists tremble in the U. S., is:  Who is going to pay for serious reporting?  For the sorts of investigations that went on last year, for example, into the background of the surprise Republican nominee for Vice President, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.”
  • Authority: “Journalism’s legitimacy crisis has two overlapping sources: ideological disaffection from right and left, and generalized distrust. Between them, they register something of a cultural sea change.  The authority of American journalism has, for a century or so, rested on its claim to objectivity and a popular belief that that claim is justified. These claims are weakening.”
  • Deference: “We have seen in recent years two devastating failures to report the world – devastating not simply in their abject professional failures but in that they made for frictionless glides into catastrophe.  The first was in the run-up to the Iraq war (…) More recently, we have the run-up to the financial crisis (…) Given these grave failures of journalism even when it was operating at greater strength not so long ago, one might say that rampant distrust is a reasonable and even a good thing.”
  • Resolutions: “The Project on Excellence’s conclusion is that ‘roughly half of the downturn in the last year was cyclical, that is, related to the economic downturn. But the cyclical problems are almost certain to worsen in 2009 and make managing the structural problems all the more difficult.’ Notice the reference to ‘managing the structural problems.’  They cannot be solved, they can only be managed.  The unavoidable likelihood, pending a bolt from the blue, is that the demand for journalism will continue to decline and that no business model can compensate for its declining marketability.  No meeting of newspaper people is complete these days without a call – some anguished, some confident – for a ‘new business model’ that would apply to the online ‘paper.’  The call has been issued over the course of years now.  It might be premature to say so, but one might suspect that it has not been found because there is none to be found.”
  • “What I do know is that journalism is too important to be left to those business interests. Leaving it to the myopic, inept, greedy, unlucky, and floundering managers of the nation’s newspapers to rescue journalism on their own would be like leaving it to the investment wizards at the American International Group (AIG), Citibank, and Goldman Sachs, to create a workable, just global credit system on the strength of their good will, their hard-earned knowledge, and their fidelity to the public good.”

Full transcript at this link…

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Citizenzide launches English iPhone app

March 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Mobile

Amateur photography and video platform backed by Agence France Presse (AFP), Citizenside has launched an English version of its iPhone application in beta.

The app is intended as a mobile news reporting app for news organisations

“We’re really proud of this V1.2 application as French contributors are using the 1.1 version more and more and understand its goals: share news, faster,” Matthieu Stefani, vice president of Citizenside, told Journalism.co.uk in an email.

“As the international application market is more than 20 times bigger than French one, let’s hope we will receive more than 20 times more pictures.”

In an interview last month, Stefani told us the app will tap into an existing community of picture-sharers and amateur videojournalists, as well as promoting geotagged submissions.

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CUNY: Innovative web video journalism panel

November 6th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Multimedia, Online Journalism

City University of New York (CUNY) is hosting a panel on innovative web journalism, which we are going to attempt to stream below. It kicks off at 6pm (EST). It can now be viewed by following this link here.

Participating in the discussion of video storytelling online are:

Travis Fox, Emmy-award winning video journalist from The Washington Post

Rachel Sterne, founder and CEO of GroundReport, a citizen journalism platform at GroundReport.com

Benjamin Wagner, vice president of MTV News

Daniel Greenberg, director of production at WNET

Thanks to CUNY professor Sandeep Junnarkar for the link to the live coverage.

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Journalism in Africa: Vice president urges local journalists to formalise union

October 27th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized

Kenyan vice president Kalonzo Musyoka has urged local journalists to set up a professional body, to manage training and advance the practice of reporting in the country.

Speaking at at an evening cocktail party hosted by journalists in the capital Nairobi last week, Musyoka argued that formalizing the existing Journalist Association of Kenya (JAK) would be a great step towards opening up opportunities for journalists.

The vice president said such an association could be handed powers to develop a modern code of conduct for journalists and provide mentors for new journalists.

Musyoka suggested that a formalised JAK could also run a database of freelance and international correspondents working in the country. Unless changes are made, he added, Kenya’s fast-growing public relations industry will overshadow the journalism sector.

“Many journalists just get into the media and do not know their way. We need a professional association that can identify people and guide them along. A professional body will help journalists in Kenya get international exchanges, scholarships and open up the profession to better standards,” argued Musyoka.

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Tweeted debate: does it have any significance for democracy?

September 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

So, the first tweeted presidential debate. This week the AP reported that Current TV will let its audience have their say by publishing their live Twitter comments on screen; now the news is doing the rounds on the blogs.

During the debates, the station will broadcast Twitter messages (or tweets) from viewers as John McCain and Barack Obama go head to head.

It’s all certainly a lot further on than when the first ever debate went out on television: on September 1960 26, when 70 million US viewers watched senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts word-battle vice president Richard Nixon.

Current TV, which is extremely pro viewer interaction, was actually co-founded by Al Gore, though the channel says ‘Hack the Debate’, as it has become known, was not his idea.

An article over at the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) says, of the Nixon-Kennedy debate, “Perhaps as no other single event, the Great Debates forced us to ponder the role of television in democratic life.”

So, does Twittering and instantaneous (as much as it can be) viewer feedback have anything like the same significance? What’s the role of the internet here in democratic life?

Also, comments will be filtered to fit in with broadcast standards: does this change its impact at all?

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