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Charlie Beckett: PoliticsHome resignations – the story so far

Numerous contributors to PoliticsHome, including editor-in-chief, Andrew Rawnsley, have resigned from the news aggregator and polling website in a row over its new owner – Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Charlie Beckett’s post on the POLIS blog tells the story so far, with some comment thrown in:

“It’s interesting because of what it says about political journalism ethics. It is also interesting because of what it implies about the profitability of quality ‘balanced’ online political media.”

Full post at this link…

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First web editors appointed to American Society of News Editors’ board

September 11th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has appointed not one, but two web editors to its board – the first time web editors have been represented on the group’s executive in its almost 100-year history (picked up via Editor & Publisher).

John Harris, editor-in-chief of Politico, and Anthony Moor, deputy managing editor/interactive of Dallas Morning News, will take up the positions.

The appointments were made ‘to reach out to news executives beyond the group’s print newspaper roots‘, an ASNE announcement said.

The addition of web editors to the association’s board is one of many recent changes by the ASNE towards a more digital outlook. In April this year the body changed ‘Newspaper’ for ‘News’ in its name.

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Monocle to launch daily Monocolumn online

September 10th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Magazines, Online Journalism

Monocle will next week debut its new ‘Monocolumn’, a daily online report, featuring news, comment and opinion on global affairs, business, culture, and design.

Sponsored by Blackberry, this new venture will be available every day from 12.00pm (CET) on September 17 via monocle.com.  The online column builds on Monocle’s existing publications, which include an audio broadcast, The Monocle Weekly, and Monocle magazine currently published 10 times a year.

The Monocolumn will be free to access – in contrast to the rest of the site’s content, which can only be viewed in full as part of a £75-a-year subscription.

“We’re excited to be offering the full spectrum of news delivery, in monthly, weekly and now daily installments,” Monocle founder and editor-in-chief, Tyler Brûlé said in a press release.

The first edition of the Monocolumn will feature an introduction by Brûlé.

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Detainment of Reuters cameraman still unexplained – one year on

September 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Press freedom and ethics

Over a year has passed since Ibrahim Jassam, cameraman for global news agency Reuters, was arrested without charge by the US military and still no one, not Jassam, his family nor Reuters knows exactly what he has been imprisoned for.

Jassam, who was cleared for release last November by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), has only been told that the accusations have something to do with ‘activities with insurgents,’ a reference to the Sunni Islamist groups – one of which is Al Qaeda. Reuters states that Jassam is a Shi’ite Muslim.

Although cleared by the CCCI, a year on Jassam is still being detained by the US army, which under a special security agreement claims they are entitled to hold Jassam for as long as they need. The US military also claims that it is ‘not bound’ to provide evidence for Jassam’s detention and that the reason it has  kept him so long past his agreed release date is that he represents a ‘threat to Iraq security and stability’.

As also reported by the International Press Institute, David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters said the situation was ‘unacceptable’. “In a year of trying to get specifics, we’ve heard only vague and undefined accusations.”

Lt. Col. Pat Johnson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Iraq said: “Though we appreciate the decision of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in the Ibrahim Jassam case, their decision does not negate the intelligence information that currently lists him as a threat to Iraqi security and stability.”

The US Military claims that all high security threat detainees will go before an Iraqi judge in December 2009, where the evidence against Jassam will finally be aired.

Reuters and others argue that this treatment of a journalist within a war zone is exactly against the US’s advocacy of press freedom around the world, and see Jassam’s continued detention as going against the security pact, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, made between the US and Iraqi forces.

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Media Release: Hannah Walker joins PCC Editor’s Code committee

August 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Media releases, Newspapers

Hannah Walker, editor-in-chief of the South London Press, will join the Press Complaints Commission’s (PCC) Editor’s Code committee.

Walker replaces former Scotsman editor Mike Gilson, who has resigned.

Full release at this link…

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Spiegel Online: Will media be a hobby rather than job, asks Chris Anderson

July 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Journalism

“SPIEGEL: Mr. Anderson, let’s talk about the future of journalism.

Anderson: This is going to be a very annoying interview. I don’t use the word journalism.”

A great opening gambit from Chris Anderson, editor in chief of US Wired and author of ‘Free’, in an interview with Spiegel Online’s Frank Hornig.

Turns out he doesn’t use the word media or news either – “I don’t think that those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th century.”

Anderson goes on to discuss how he gets his information and the move by the public towards ‘social filters’ rather than professional filters for news:

“We’re tuning out television news, we’re tuning out newspapers. And we still hear about the important stuff, it’s just that it’s not like this drumbeat of bad news,” he says.

Which leads him to the role of journalists:

“In the past, the media was a full-time job. But maybe the media is going to be a part time job. Maybe media won’t be a job at all, but will instead be a hobby. There is no law that says that industries have to remain at any given size (…) The question is not should journalists have jobs. The question is can people get the information they want, the way they want it? The marketplace will sort this out. “

Full interview at this link…

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Press Gazette: Dutch court says tapping of journalist’s phone was illegal

July 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

Jolande van der Graaf, a De Telegraaf journalist, who had her phone tapped by Holland’s secret service after report using leaked government information, won her case last week.

A Dutch court ruled that the tapping of both van der Graafe and her editor-in-chief’s phones was unlawful.

AIVD, the country’s secret service, is expected to appeal the decision, which provides an interesting contrast to the recently reported ‘phone hacking’ activities of the News of the World.

Full post at this link…

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‘Why Journalism Matters’ by Alan Rusbridger (@arusbridger): the video

July 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Journalism.co.uk coverage of ‘Why Journalism Matters’ by Guardian News&Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger at the British Academy on Wednesday evening:

Also worth a read:

You can now watch the speech for yourself, thanks to the Media Standards Trust (@newsmatters). Part one below, and the rest to follow on the organisation’s YouTube channel.

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Alan Rusbridger (@arusbridger) on why Twitter matters

July 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Journalism

Twitter got a big mention in Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger’s ‘Journalism Matters’ speech last night. Repeating his ‘future of newspaper’ Twitter recommendations made in Berlin in April (@amonck, @niemanlab, @jeffjarvis and @cshirky) he praised the way it could be used as a personalised filter for information consumption.

He used Guardian technology writer Jemima Kiss as one example of why to use it – she’s probably in labour, and twittering it, ‘as we speak’, he joked. Journalism.co.uk didn’t put its hand up to say ‘err, no – she’s already had all 10lb 6oz of it’ (we learned via Twitter, obviously).

He also mentioned @GuardianTech with its impressive 900,000+ followers, and showed how journalist Paul Lewis (@http://twitter.com/paul__lewis) had used his account to report from the G20 protests.

Before Rusbridger was reborn as @arusbridger he thought it was all a bit, well, ‘silly’, but now he’s well and truly converted. In fact he thinks all Guardian journalists should use it: “I”m trying to get everyone to twitter”. He told this to a room of newspaper journalists in Norway and they asked whether he, as editor-in-chief, would have to moderate all those tweets?…

John Mair’s report on last night’s Media Standards Trust event here, and tweets from @journalism_live, and others captured by the #journmatters tag, below.

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Alan Rusbridger’s digital crystal ball: what next for ‘public information’ journalism?

July 23rd, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

One of the more influential figures in British journalism – Alan Rusbridger the editor-in-chief of the Guardian and the Observer discussed his ‘why journalism matters’ at a star studded Media Standards Trust event at the British Academy last night. His audience included Lord Puttnam, Robert Peston, Roger Graef, Bill Hagerty, Felicity Green and Nick Cohen.

In his tour d’horizon Rusbridger chose to refer back to the past and, most importantly, forward to the future. He traced the origins of the recent seminal reporting on the G20 protests by Paul Lewis – which lead to a furore over the death of an innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson, after a phone video came to light. It was reportage taking the Guardian back to its foundations, Rusbridger said, drawing comparisons with its reporting of the Peterloo riots in Manchester in 1819.

That and Lewis’ work was based on simple journalistic principles of observing, digging for the truth and not giving up. “It was a piece of conventional reporting and tapping into the resources of a crowd,” he said. “There are thousands of reporters in any crowd nowadays. There was nothing to stop people from publishing those pictures but it needed the apparatus of a mainstream news organisation for that to cut through and have impact.”

Likewise on investigations. The money and time the Guardian had invested in the major series on tax avoidance earlier this year was, initially, simply the traditional way investigations were done. That story had been transformed by documents which came from readers of the series and were put first on the net before being injuncted by Barclays Bank. His audience had a sneak glimpse of them up on the screen.

But the days of journalists behind castle walls sending out articles ‘like mortars-some hit, some missed’ to readers were now gone. The process was thanks to the internet firmly a two-way one.

He quoted Jemina Kiss, the Guardian technology reporter, who has over 13,000 personal followers on Twitter and uses them to help research, shape and comment on her stories. Rusbridger admitted to being an initial Twitter sceptic, before his conversion: ‘I didn’t get it’.  “Sometimes you are too old to keep up with all these things  and Twitter just seemed silly and I didn’t have time to add it to all of these other things – but that was completely wrong.”

The Guardian editor looked back – all of 30 years – to the days of long and dull parliamentary reports in the broadsheet British press and compared them to the likes of EveryBlock on the internet, the US-based site which aggregates information in micro-areas to help plan journeys to work, and to avoid crime and other hazards. He’s not sure if it’s journalism, but ‘does it matter?’

Local struggles

But it was on the death of local news – on TV and in newspapers – that he was at his most challenging. ITV had all but retreated from the provision of it, with a final surrender due next year; local papers were feeling the economic heat severely and cutting back on the essential reporting of council, council committees and the courts – to the dismay of some judges. He called it the ‘collapse of the structure of political reporting’.

This ‘public information journalism’ should not be allowed to disappear, he said. It needed public subsidy. Rusbridger posited that it could be, but would not be, done by the BBC. More hopeful were the trials currently being run by the Press Association where they would act as a print and video agency / aggregrator for the country and syndicate those services to local papers/websites.

“This bit of journalism is going to have to be done by somebody,” Rusbridger said. “It makes me worry about all of those public authorities and courts which will in future operate without any kind of systematic public scrutiny. I don’t think our legislators have begun to wake up to this imminent problem as we face the collapse of the infrastructure of local news in the press and broadcasting.”

Rusbridger said local public service journalism was a ‘kind of utility’ which was just as important as gas and water. “We must face up to the fact that if there is no public subsidy, then some of this [public service] reporting will come to pass in this country,” he said. “The need is there [for subsidy]. It is going to be needed pretty quickly.”

Whilst modern journalism was evolving and being transformed by the new media, it still firmly mattered as did journalists, he said. “There are many things that mainstream media do, which in collaboration with others is still really important. The ability to take a large audience and amplify things and to give more weight to what would [otherwise] be fragments. Somebody has to have the job of pulling it all together.” All was not gloomy in Rusbridger’s digital crystal ball.

More to follow from Journalism.co.uk. The event was tweeted live via @journalism_live.

John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University. He is currently editing a special issue of the journal ‘Ethical Space’ on the reporting of the Great Crash of ’08. He will run a world-wide video conference, supported by Journalism.co.uk, on ‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ in Coventry on October 28.

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