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US source protection bill amended to exclude WikiLeaks

The furore surrounding WikiLeaks continues this week, as US Senators reportedly working on a “media-shields” legislation to protect journalists from revealing sources are making amendments to ensure no such protection can be afforded to the whistleblowing site.

According to a report by the NYTimes.com, senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein are drafting the amendment to outline that the bill’s protections would “extend only to traditional news-gathering activities and not to websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents”.

Quoting Schumer in a statement he claims the amendments will ensure there is no chance of the law ever being used to protect websites like WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks should not be spared in any way from the fullest prosecution possible under the law. Our bill already includes safeguards when a leak impacts national security, and it would never grant protection to a website like this one, but we will take this extra step to remove even a scintilla of doubt.

According to the NYTimes.com report, the new bill would require a person to “exhaust all other means” of getting the names they desire before they could take a journalist to court. But they add the amendment may be unecessary due to the method by which the website sources and stores its information.

According to WikiLeaks, the website uses a technology which makes it impossible to trace the source of documents that are submitted to it. So even if the organisation were compelled to disclose a source, it is not clear that it would be able to do so

See the full report here…

Also in WikiLeaks news, the Washington Post reports that the Broadcasting Board of Governors have ordered that the Voice of America “may proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents”. This follows claims that IT personnel at the International Broadcasting Bureau told VOA journalists not to read or email the material on government computers.

The matter was added to the agenda at Friday’s gathering of the new board, which passed a unanimous resolution in closed session that “authorized the Director of the Voice of America to proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents available on the WikiLeaks website in a manner that is consistent with the VOA Charter and the BBG’s statutory mission, and to balance this effort with due consideration for the laws and executive orders” on using classified information.

See the full post here…

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New York Times launches ‘Times Skimmer’ after beta trial

The New York Times yesterday released Times Skimmer (http://www.nytimes.com/timesskimmer/), a new application designed to give online readers a similar experience to paging through a newspaper.

In February it launched an ‘article skimmer’ in beta, as reported previously by Journalism.co.uk. Now the finished application is ready for use.

This new version has been enhanced following feedback from beta users, the New York Times said yesterday.

The aim is to make it easier to browse through headlines and discover stories deep within sections of the website, it was explained in a release.

Headlines and short summaries of articles are displayed in a grid layout:

“The application is designed to fit and move for optimal viewing on different screen sizes and browsers. Readers can select from seven different display options to choose the layout that best meets their interests and preferences.

“The fonts displayed in Times Skimmer are the same fonts found in The New York Times newspaper, marking the first time these fonts have been introduced on NYTimes.com.”

It also incorporates a new ‘custom advertising position’ – designed to move seamlessly with the layout and navigation’.


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The NYT’s Cronkite mistakes and the paper’s ‘top 20’ error rate list

August 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The New York Times’ public editor’s column (August 1) is quite extraordinary in the way it details the mistakes in New York Times’ coverage following Walter Cronkite’s death, a point Steven A. Smith makes here in a blog post.

Not least as it gives quite an insight into NYTimes’ newroom process, including reference to this list: ‘the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year’.

“For all her skills as a critic, [Alessandra] Stanley was the cause of so many corrections in 2005 that she was assigned a single copy editor responsible for checking her facts. Her error rate dropped precipitously and stayed down after the editor was promoted and the arrangement was discontinued. Until the Cronkite errors, she was not even in the top 20 among reporters and editors most responsible for corrections this year. Now, she has jumped to No. 4 and will again get special editing attention.”

The Guardian (one of the two few UK newspapers to have its own ombudsman, or readers’ editor) picks up the corrections here on its MediaMonkey blog:  “If there is a record for the most number of corrections to a single newspaper article, then it may just have changed hands.”

We wonder what Walter Cronkite, renowned for his careful reporting, would have made of all this… Last month in a Q&A with users on WashingtonPost.com, his former chief of staff, Marlene Adler said:

“As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources.”

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NYTimes.com: CBS News using Ustream for newscasts and special reports

“Seeking a younger audience more accustomed to watching the news on the internet than on television, CBS News said Monday that it had joined with a live video web site [Ustream] to simulcast its newscasts and special reports,” reports the New York Times.

Ustream, will host ‘CBS Evening News With Katie Couric,’ breaking news coverage and ‘unfiltered news conferences and speeches’, it is reported. Full story at this link…

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NYTimes.com: Seattle Post-Intelligencer goes web only

“The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will produce its last printed edition on Tuesday and become an internet-only news source, the Hearst Corporation said on Monday, making it by far the largest American newspaper to take that leap,” reports the New York Times.

Full story at this link…

(Also: Seattle PI’s Bill Virgin on ‘How to kill an American newspaper’ at this link)

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NYMag.com: ‘Columbia J-School’s existential crisis’

March 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Training

A provocatively titled article on NYMag.com, looking at Columbia Journalism School’s future. Following the news that the NYTimes’ ‘The Local’ project will be assisted by CUNY students, Erica Orden writes:

“CUNY? Since when does CUNY trump Columbia? Well, since digital journalism became the single ray of hope on an otherwise dark media horizon, and Columbia’s vaunted ability to train students as print reporters began to appear obsolete. And so the school is trying to change. Fast.

Full story at this link…

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NYTimes.com: Life after ‘snarky’ – the future for the gossip site writers

March 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Defamer is being absorbed into Gawker, but what’s happenning to its writers?

The NYTimes takes a quick look at the reopening MovieLine website, the new home of Defamer’s editors and writers.

“Whenever it is time to leave those [gossip] sites, though, the mocking writers often seem to have a change of heart as they try to change their jobs,” Stephanie Clifford comments.

“The editor and writers at Defamer, the Gawker Media site, have taken a similar turn.”

Full story at this link…

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Guardian.co.uk: Handling reader responses in a ‘digital age’

February 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Newspapers

In her weekly column, the Guardian readers’ editor, Siobhain Butterworth, takes a look at newspapers’ handling of reader complaints and responses in the age of digital publishing.

She picks out a New York Times case: following the settlement of a libel action brought against it by a Washington lobbyist, the paper published a joint statement, an article from the lobbyist’s lawyers, a note to readers and a report about the settlement.

“What’s interesting and unusual about the Iseman case is that the negotiated resolution of her complaint included space on the paper’s website for her lawyers’ views about the lawsuit,” Butterworth comments.

Full story at this link…

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NYTimes.com: Rupert Murdoch’s fondness for newspapers ‘has become a significant drag’ for News Corp

February 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Newspapers

Rupert Murdoch has his own office at the Wall Street Journal, built within days of buying it, comments the New York Times. He is ‘as much old-fashioned press baron as 21st century multimedia mogul,’ the piece continues. “But, he faces a depressing reality: his lifelong fondness for newspapers has become a significant drag on the fortunes of his company, the News Corporation.”

Full story at this link…

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NYTimes.com: Five major newspapers to share content

February 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

“Five major newspapers in New Jersey and New York announced on Wednesday that they would share articles and photographs, adding to a growing movement in an industry that is seeking new ways to cope with shrinking resources,” reports the New York Times.

The agreement is between The Daily News of New York, The Star-Ledger, The Buffalo News, The Record, and The Times Union of Albany.

Full story at this link…

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