A Twitter row between Jarvis and the editor of the Sunday Business section of New York Times, Tim O’Brien: Blogger here; MSM here.
A response from the Guardian’s Tech editor Charles Arthur, in regards to a criticism of UK tech reporting. One commenter, Wessell van Rensberg, remarked underneath Jarvis’ post: “I live in the UK and the Guardian’s weekly tech edition is paltry in terms of its tech coverage. Both in terms of scope and quality.”
“Flattered, I’m sure. Haven’t noticed your name in the letters pointing out what you think we should be covering; don’t know if you’ve commented on our many blogs (Tech, Games, PDA) that cover tech. We do have lots of insightful commenters (which I think is what you mean instead of ‘commentators’.)
“Hard to know quite what you want. For instance: TCrunch says Apple is going to buy Twitter. As soon as possible I point out, on the Guardian blog, why that’s absolutely not happening. It turns out it isn’t happening. Which is more useful?
“And I’ll also point out that when TCrunch does get it wrong, such as on Last.fm ‘passing data to the RIAA’ – a story denied by all sides, where it would be illegal for Last to pass the data (UK data protection act forbids) – TC deletes comments pointing that out. Do you really trust it?”
Now, might there be room for a response on that point? Come on, TechCrunch fight your corner!
Prompted by Jay Rosen’s recent critique of the ‘He Said She Said’ news formula, Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News, offers his own take on balanced reporting on his blog.
Sambrook ‘agrees with the thrust’ of Rosen’s argument, ‘but was left uncomfortable’ for several reasons, outlined in his post.
Most interesting, is Sambrook’s reference to a critique against the formulaic approach of British TV news, made 34 years ago by John Birt, later director-general of the BBC, and Peter Jay, a Times columnist and later economics editor of the BBC. They called it ‘bias against understanding’. Birt’s argument shaped his later strategy:
“In the late 80s, instead of interviewing those caught up in the news, specialist correspondents would be interviewed to explain the significance of an event or a report. It was highly successful, building the reputation of BBC News as a quality, intelligent, authoritative service. It’s a model which persists to this day.”
In today’s MediaGuardian, City University of New York (CUNY) journalism professor Jeff Jarvis writes that that foundations will not take over newspapers, à la Scott Trust / Guardian relationship. He told Journalism.co.uk: “It is an empty hope for white knights to save news from inevitable change and business reality. But he says: “We’ll see foundation and public support able to fund a decent number of investigations.”
US-based ProPublica, funded by the Sandler Foundation, for example, employs full-time journalists to conduct investigations which are then supplied to other media bodies. Journalism.co.uk raised the point with some of the NYJournalism interviewees (fuller features forthcoming) that similar foundation funding is a bit trickier to come by in the UK: just what would a UK version of ProPublica look like and could it be funded?
“It may be that we are looking at funding mini-media or a foundation that will give money to groups of journalists if they can pass the quality threshold,” Davies said at an National Union of Journalists (NUJ) event in January, as Press Gazette reported.
“The greatest question in journalism today is what will be our ‘third source’ of funding,” Davies told Journalism.co.uk last week.
“If advertising and circulation can no longer pay for our editorial operation, we have to find this third source.
“I suspect that place by place and case by case, the answer to the question will be different, a matter of wrapping up whatever package of cash is possible, using donations or grants or sponsorship or micropayments from foundations, rich individuals, local councils, businesses, NGOs, universities – anybody who can understand that the collapse of newspapers is not just about journalists losing their jobs but about everybody losing an essential source of information.
“And in an ideal world, central government would lead the way by setting up a New Media Fund to provide seed money to help these non-profit mini-media to establish themselves and to find their particular third source.”
So could a third source-funded model work? And what shape would it take? It’s a question Journalism.co.uk will continue to ask. Please share your thoughts below.
A love letter from the deputy editor of Patrol. Following Jay Rosen’s little gripe at a follower via Twitter, Harris applauds Rosen’s ‘mean’ nature.
“You’re mean. You were mean to a Tweeter,” she writes.
“You give me hope that my jaunt in the media wilderness won’t last 40 years and that I’ll come to the Promised Land – maybe not with a bottomless Condé Nast expense account but with the opportunityto do what I love and serve the public and still maybe eat every once in a while.”
So what conclusions were drawn about the media’s ‘role’ in the crisis?
A fairly resounding ‘it wasn’t our fault’ from the journalists gathered (Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, BBC business editor Robert Peston, Daily Mail city editor Alex Brummer, Sky News’ Jeff Randall and the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins):
The UK’s banks and economy, in particular Northern Rock, were headed for a crash anyhow and no amount of warning/doomsaying from the media would have changed this. No one – neither the media nor those in charge of the financial institutions were expecting the force of what was going to happen to the economy
Alex Brummer said a lot of the reporting of the financial breakdown was handled by young, inexperienced journalists staffing finance desks, most of whom weren’t around in the last crisis. If you’ve only seen boom times it was even easier to take the press releases/briefings from businesses and financial orgs at face value and not question them, he said.
Business journalists are in competition with the richest organisations in the world, added Brummer, and city editors did not push hard enough to get negative stories about the economy higher up the news agenda during the boom period.
Jeff Randall agreed with Peston’s UCLAN comments, saying that it could be argued the public had been allowed to live in economic optimism for too long, fuelled by the media.
According to Lionel Barber, there’s no point hiding stories of the recession behind ‘happy talk’.
On the BBC’s coverage, Robert Peston said each of the stories about the banking crisis were published in the public interest; though Brummer said the public had been very ill-served by the media’s coverage of the economy and more must be done to deepen economic understanding.
An informative discussion with some of the leading journalists in the UK field, yet why had they been summoned in the first place?
Prompted via a Twitter chat with NYU professor Jay Rosen, shouldn’t we be asking who is saying the media is to blame for the banking crisis in the first place?
One question from the committee to Peston struck me as particularly misplaced in this respect, as he was asked what he thought about being a market force in his own right. In his own words, Peston is just a journalist reporting on the facts and information he receives.
Yes – there are lessons to be learned from looking at whether media coverage of the banking crisis indirectly added to public anxiety about the situation or contributed indirectly to already falling share prices.
But as Lionel Barber pointed out yesterday, it was never the media’s intention to break the banks, but simply to report on the situation. Peston’s stories, the man himself said, were verified reports from close contacts and sources and built on as much information as he could gather.
At the UCLAN event, Peston said the ‘primary responsibility for the global economic and banking crisis does not lie with the media’ – but why is the media having to defend itself. In a feisty exchange, Barber posed a similar question to the committee: why didn’t the government bail out Lehman Bros – this failure could be seen as escalating the crisis just as much as any media role.
It was joked that the only five journalists to have spotted the crisis ahead of time were sitting in the committee room – evidence that there were dissenting voices in a sea of stories about never-ending house price rises.
Evidence that this was an exercise in shooting the messenger
Well, we could have brought you ‘Flocking Around the Twitmas Tree’, ‘We Three Nings’ or just a straightforward end of the year list (if only to add to our list of lists), but instead we chose this: your sing-along treat to round-up 2008 is the ‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas’ (hyperlinked to relevant stories, but bear in mind it’s a selection of picks and not comprehensive…).
On the first day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … An editor in a law court
… Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the eleventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eleven papers packing
… Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the twelfth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Twelve sites a-starting
… Eleven papers packing, Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks and an editor in a law court!
“When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism,” says Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University.
New York University Journalism School professor Jay Rosen told the Journalism Leaders Forum @ UCLAN, that based on what he had heard at the forum UK regional newspapers seemed two years behind the US for developing editorial products that relied on large-scale user-interaction.
Responding to comments made by Trinity Mirror Regionals editorial director Neil Benson, that the next year would be about experimenting with new editorial projects that relied on great audience interaction and overcoming journalists resistance to allowing the audience to interact, Rosen told the forum that those barriers to audience interaction began breaking down in the US two years ago and that newsrooms there were now addressing how best to cross ‘the digital sea’.
Listen here to Neil first explain his position (in response to a question from Chair Mike Ward about whether or not it was yet possible to see ‘scalable and durable’ models for editorial/user interaction products) then Jay comment on the developments in the UK (Note: both were phoning into the forum so the sound quality isn’t perfect).