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Norway: Journalism school to revise curriculum in aftermath of terror attacks

Norwegian journalist and blogger Kristine Lowe has written a blog post explaining how an Oslo-based journalism school is considering revising the curriculum in the aftermath of the Norway attacks.

The potential development in a Norwegian journalism school should serve as a reminder to those running UK courses to assess whether they offer sufficient crisis training.

According to Lowe’s post, the suggestion to revise the curriculum of the Oslo and Akershus University College journalism school follows a survey of the Norwegian journalists who covered the 22/7 terror attacks, which saw a bomb damage the building of VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, followed by a massacre on Utøya island.

Lowe explains that the study was carried out by Trond Idaas, an advisor to the Norwegian Journalist Union, who “has also written a masters thesis on the experiences of journalists covering the Tsunami in 2004”, adding that “he feels it is very important that crisis reporting becomes an integral part of journalism training”.

Idaas’ research reportedly found that 40 per cent of the journalists covering the tragic events on 22/7 had less than five years of journalistic experience, July being in the middle of the summer holidays in Norway, as Lowe explains.

She states:

This finding has, according to Journalisten, been an important reason for the journalism school at Oslo and Akershus University College to suggest making crisis reporting an integral part of its bachelor degree. Also, there were widespread public reactions to the use of live broadcasts from Utvika on 22/7, when some of those intereviewed quite obviously were in a state of shock.

Idaas said integrating crisis reporting in the curriculum, such as suggested at Oslo and Akershus University College, is “quite revolutionary and not even widespread internationally”.

That seems to be true in the UK. A quick and straw poll carried out via Twitter, in which we asked journalism students and lecturers whether universities currently include classes on how to report on terror and catastrophes, suggests crisis reporting is not included in the training offered by many journalism courses. Some courses, including one at City University, do offer some guidance and advice.

Are you aware of a journalism school that trains journalists in crisis reporting? Do you think training should be offered more widely? Leave a comment below.

Kristine Lowe’s post is at this link.

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Explained: iPad’s role in the media ecosystem

This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on Kristine Lowe’s blog, Notes on the Changing Media Landscape.

Since its launch earlier this year, the media industry has been abuzz with talk of how the iPad will change the industry. As a media journalist I’ve already attended quite a few talks and read an extraordinary number of articles on the subject, but INMAs Tablet summit in Oxford this week gave me new insights into what kind of role the iPad might come to play in the media ecosystem.

Convenience or uniqueness?

That is not to say that there is a consensus about this role. For instance the Guardian’s Jonathan Moore said his newspaper saw the iPad more as convenience device, it’s iPad app offering pretty much the same content as you find on the Guardian’s news site, while the majority of the presenters saw it as the perfect device for offering unique content people were willing to pay for.

“This has to be a premium content. If you approach it as something free: let’s just turn off the light and go home. It has to be premium, paid for, from day one,” said Juan Senõr, Innovation in Newspapers UK director. He asserted that we can’t talk about tablets without talking about the rest of our platforms, pointing out that you have to have different content for different platforms.

“Tablet and paper will be premium, provide background etc, while we have to see online and mobile as mass media. You will have to charge perhaps five times more for print paper and for tablets,” he said, citing some of the products Innovation in Newspapers has remade, especially the successful Portuguese daily news magazine I, as perfect journalism to be transformed to the iPad.

Long form journalism and the ‘lean-back device’

Media consultant and commentator Frédéric Filloux said the iPad offers long-form journalism a new chance. In his view, it provides three major rehabilitations: 1) Re-bundling the news. Tablets and mobile can re-bundle content, 2) Visual 3) Length.

He also sees the device as being primarily about media consumption rather than production: “The iPad is the lean-back device: it’s a consumption device rather than a production device – it has nothing in common with a lean-forward device such as the PC.” Read more of his thoughts on this here.

Jon Einar Sandvand, digital strategist at Aftenposten, Norway’s newspaper of record, said iPad readership figures suggested it was most used in the evening, between six and eight.

Juan Antonio Giner, president and founder of Innovation in Newspapers, reiterates similar ideas to Filloux on media consumption: “Research suggests iPad will become the leading platform in terms of how much people spend consuming media on it. It is a media consumption device. If you are a mono-media operation producing second-hand stories you won’t win from iPad: garbage in, garbage out.”

Now, let me confess, I often find that big media conferences tend to focus too much on ideology and too little on how people are actually approaching a certain issue or innovation, but the Tablet Summit offered some excellent insight into how different news organisations are approaching the iPad.

Among those, the most useful was the very hands-on presentation by Saulo Ribas, creative director at Brazilian Editora Globo’s Epoca Magazine.

Useful iPad tips for publishers

His newspaper wanted to be first in the country with an iPad app, so they built a light version first, and will launch the full version in July. He offered five useful tips for newspapers wanting to develop iPad apps:

    1. It’s an app, not a magazine or newspaper. We have to make the best use of the interface Apple has provided.
    – Good apps are non-linear. You can access content from everywhere in the app.
    – Good apps don’t require users to learn how to use it, or at least not so much. If you need instructions on how to use the app it usually means it’s poorly designed.
    – Good apps have very simple information architecture. Simplify and eliminate the unnecessary
    – Good apps allow the users to leave and then come back to where he left. Try to produce the best reading experience possible
    2. Think about templates not pages. What is the role reserved for the editorial designer in the age of the tablets? If it looks awesome on the iPad it will look awesome on any other tablet.
    3. Personalise: the reader is really in control. Allow the reader to define the settings of the app, the more the better. It’s a big change for us because we’re very attached to our typography in our mags and papers. We have a search view. Can’t be static, people are used to search. We’ve tried to put the basic controls at the bottom of the page.
    4. Technology is content. Have programmers part of the newsroom
    5. Choose the right flow of information inside the iPad app

Who controls the data?

“I do believe Apple wants to become the world’s kiosk. We could end up like the music industry; we do need to be aware of what’s happening. They control pricing and they control customer data – and if you loose those, you loose out,” said Senõr. That Apple also controls the customer data was new to me, but it was also mentioned by one of the other presenters. If that is the case, it sounds very worrying indeed.

Repurposing vs. reinvention

Many industry experts have looked to the iPad as a potential saviour for the media industry. In essence, the sound bite I took away from the Tablet Summit which best answers this proposition was that yes, there is a future life for the news industry if we reinvent, not if we just repurpose.

While I made extensive notes during the summit, Marek Miller was doing such an excellent job of live blogging it that I thought I’d afford myself the luxury of taking some time to reflect a bit on the event before I started writing about it. I will return to a few other thoughts I took away from the event a bit later, but, if you want to read more about the individual presentations, do check Mareks excellent live blog from the event here.

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Slideshare: research tips for journalists from @colinmeek

April 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Search

Journalism.co.uk consulting editor Colin Meek (@colinmeek) found himself stranded recently in Oslo, Norway but was rescued thanks to some nifty footwork by Kristine Lowe and an online project from Norwegian news site VG.no entitled Hitchhikers Central.

Colin was in Oslo to give, among other things, an evening presentation to the Norwegian Online News Association (NONA). Colin, when he’s not advising on Journalism.co.uk’s editorial board, is an investigative journalist and trainer in advanced online research skills (his next one-day, open course is in London Tuesday 15 June 2010). Here are some of the tips he shared with our Norwegian colleagues:

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How Norwegian newspaper site is helping stranded travellers get home

As briefly noted on this blog earlier, Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (known as VG), has put together a ‘Hitchhiker’s Central’ page on its site, for travellers stranded by the volcano ash cloud to arrange emergency overland transport.

Media journalist Kristine Lowe reports on her blog how she was able to use the service to help get Journalism.co.uk trainer Colin Meek home from an online course he was teaching in Oslo.

“What VG.no could offer in this situation was scale. With its close to 3 million unique users a week it offered people a brilliant connection point that few other sites could,” says Kristine. “It’s a great service to its readers and, I’m sure, a great click winner too.”

How Kristine set up Colin’s journey home:

[W]hen I found a friend who was willing to drive from Oslo to Dover and back to get him home, I was able to fill up the car in both directions, thereby covering the costs of the trip, by submitting a message to Hitchhiker’s Central. I did call around a few other travellers advertising for lift to London before submitting an ad myself, and several of those I talked to had already found lift from Oslo to London which suggests my experience was not unique.

Within minutes of placing an “ad” (a free message) on Hitchhiker’s central, the receptionist at a Rica hotel in Oslo called me to ask if I had room for a British businessman staying at the hotel (…) The last passenger on the trip to Dover (they arrived this morning) was a Norwegian student desperate to get back to the UK for his exams at Cardiff University. On the way back to Oslo, the car will bring a salesman, a singer and a conductor – all Norwegians who were stranded in London.

Without this arrangement via VG.no, overland costs were adding up to around £1000, Colin tells me. A Eurostar one-way fare was going to be around £250 and the one-way ferry crossing from Oslo to Copenhagen would have been 1950NoK (£215) minimum. “It would have taken me about three days – at least – with no guarantee that some of the legs would be available.”

So, VG.no’s collaborative site has been helpful, both in terms of cost and time for Colin. But, he adds, the 18-hour car journey was something of a personal challenge – he’s getting on the sleeper train back home to Scotland.


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Journalist scoops press and police with simple Google search

March 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism

Danish police had been searching for Rumenian murder suspect Marian Clita for a good 24 hours when Norwegian journalist Andreas Lunde Googled him, found his phone number and got him on the line.

In a scoop that almost beggars belief, ABC Nyheter’s Andreas Lunde, tracked down the man wanted for the brutal murder of Norwegian Scandinavian Airline stewardess Vera Vildmyren in Copehnhagen, a man sought by both the police and the press, with a simple Google Search.

“I found a blog post he had commented on, using his name and phone number when doing so, put the Rumenian land code in front of the number and called,” Lunde told Danish TV2 News.

Clita picked up the phone, confirmed he was indeed Marian Clita, professed to be unaware the police was searching for him, but, when asked if he had any knowledge of the murder, said he would get a taxi to the police station in ten minutes – and kept his word.

Later, ABC Nyheter called him again, and Clita said he had reported himself to the police and was waiting for them to find an interpreter. The police said Clita had told them: “I have killed a woman I Copenhagen” and thanked Lunde for tracking him down.

Lunde wasn’t actually on the Clita-case, but, as he told a former colleague, “I wasn’t on that particular case, but I’m a journalist and I’m curious, and when I get hold of his number it becomes my case.”

A video-journalist, Lunde has on many other occasions proved how willingness to experiment with new and old technology and storytelling techniques can be used to enhance journalism. In this case, two fairly dated tools, Google and a telephone, were the keys to the story.

For the record: I’m a media columnist with ABC Nyheter and as the president of The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA). I have a keen interest in promoting and sharing good online practices.

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Blogs transformed mainstream media coverage of the credit crisis, Kristine Lowe argues in new book

Institutional mainstream media constraints were both an asset and a liability during the great crash, says Norwegian blogger and journalist Kristine Lowe, in a new book published this week. She argues that blogs both transformed and challenged mainstream media coverage of the credit crisis.

‘Playing Footsie with the FTSE?‘ edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble, a collection of 20 articles by leading journalists and academics that asks why leading financial journalists and commentators failed to predict the biggest economic crisis in 70 years, is published this week by Abramis for £9.99.

Journalism.co.uk has featured several chapters from the book during the past month:

and today:

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Kristine Lowe: Iceland’s ‘most hated man’ appointed newspaper editor

The news is now a few days old, but Kristine Lowe’s blog post on the appointment of Davíd Oddsson – Iceland’s longest serving prime minister and former head of the Central Bank – as editor of daily paper Morgunbladid, is worth a read. Not least for her photograph showing how Icelandic protesters felt about Oddsson back in December.

Full post at this link…

Icelandic Review story at this link…

Can we think of a hypothetical comparison for the UK? Mandelson to edit the Times?

Alistair Campbell to edit the New Statesman?  (Ed: we said hypothetical…)

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#followjourn: @kristinelowe/media journalist

#FollowJourn: Kristine Lowe

Who? Blogger and journalist currently based in Norway covering the media industry – for the media industry

What? She writes for numerous titles in Scandinavia and the UK/US, and founded The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA)

Where? @kristinelowe

Contact? Take a look at her blog or email kristine_lowe [at] yahoo.co.uk.

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Essential journalism links for students

June 30th, 2009 | 9 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Training

This list is doing the rounds under the headline 100 Best Blogs for Journalism Students… and we’re not on it. Nope, not even a smidgeon of link-love for poor old Journalism.co.uk there.

The BachelorsDegreeOnline site appears to be part of e-Learners.com, but it’s not clear who put the list together. Despite their omission of our content and their rather odd descriptions (e.g: Adrian Monck: ‘Adrian Monck writes this blog about how we inform ourselves and why we do it’), we admit it is a pretty comprehensive list; excellent people and organisations we feature on the site, our blog roll and Best of Blogs mix – including many UK-based ones. There were also ones we hadn’t come across before.

In true web 2.0 self-promotional style, here are our own links which any future list-compilers might like to consider as helpful links for journalism students:

And here are some blogs/sites also left off the list which immediately spring to mind as important reading for any (particularly UK-based) journalism students:

Organisations

  • Crikey.com: news from down under that’s not Murdoch, or Fairfax produced.
  • Press Review Blog (a Media Standards Trust project) – it’s a newbie, but already in the favourites.
  • StinkyJournalism: it’s passionate and has produced many high-profile stories

Individuals

  • CurryBet – Martin Belam’s links are canny, and provocative and break down the division between tech and journalism.
  • Malcolm Coles – for SEO tips and off-the-beaten track spottings.
  • Dave Lee – facilitating conversations journalists could never have had in the days before blogs.
  • Marc Vallee – photography freedom issues from the protest frontline.
  • FleetStreetBlues: an anonymous industry insider with jobs, witty titbits and a healthy dose of online cynicism.
  • Sarah Hartley previously as above, now with more online strategy thrown in.
  • Charles Arthur – for lively debate on PR strategy, among other things

Writing this has only brought home further the realisation that omissions are par for the course with list-compilation, but it does inspire us to do our own 101 essential links for global online journalists – trainees or otherwise. We’d also like to make our list inclusive of material that is useful for, but not necessarily about, journalists: MySociety for example.

Add suggestions below, via @journalismnews or drop judith at journalism.co.uk an email.

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The Independent, Mecom – and what David Montgomery thought of it all

April 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

More twists and turns in the Independent and Mecom sagas today.

Independent News and Media (at time of writing) has failed to reach an agreement with bondholders – the company was meant to reach a deal on the £179 million bond by May 18, but is now seeking a ‘standstill’ period.

Meanwhile newspaper publisher Mecom has secured yet another convenant extension, raising about £140 million in new equity from shareholders, but also announced 500 job cuts.

The news has triggered a memory for blogger Kristine Lowe of a journalism conference in 1997 2007, where Mecom boss David Montgomery responded to an assertion by the Telegraph that there was no reason for the Independent or Guardian to exist:

“I didn’t say that. The Telegraph did. But in general I think companies should make money. I think it’s demeaning for people to work for companies that don’t,” he told Lowe at the time.

How very apt.

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