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The @press_freedom timeline – tracking threats to journalism around the globe

In December, Journalism.co.uk launched a page, and subsequently a Twitter service (@press_freedom), to track violations of freedom of expression around the world.

This week we’ve added a few more sources to the Dipity timeline. Headlines from the Index on Censorship, Global Voices Online and Global Voices Advocacy and the International Journalists’ Network will now be included, along with those from the original organisations – Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, the Frontline Blog, and ourselves.

Visit the page here: http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/533032.php and please re-tweet it to raise awareness for the ill-treatment of fellow journalists and bloggers around the world, prevented from doing their job. Finally please do get in touch with suggestions for the page, or potential stories for Journalism.co.uk: judith at journalism.co.uk or laura at journalism.co.uk.

Recent press freedom updates:

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Let the expenses data war commence: Telegraph begins its document drip feed

Andy Dickinson from the Department of Journalism at UCLAN sums up today’s announcement in this tweet: ‘Telegraph to drip-publish MP expenses online’.

[Update #1: Editor of Telegraph.co.uk, Marcus Warren, responded like this: ‘Drip-publish? The whole cabinet at once….that’s a minor flood, I think’]

Yes, let the data war commence. The Guardian yesterday released its ‘major crowdsourcing tool’ as reported by Journalism.co.uk at this link. As described by one of its developers, Simon Willison, on his own blog, the Guardian is ‘crowdsourcing the analysis of the 700,000+ scanned [official] MP expenses documents’. It’s the Guardian’s ‘first live Django-powered application’. It’s also the first time the news site has hosted something on Amazon EC2, he says. Within 90 minutes of launch, 1700 users had ‘audited’ its data, reported the editor of Guardian.co.uk, Janine Gibson.

The Telegraph was keeping mum, save a few teasing tweets from Telegraph.co.uk editor Marcus Warren. A version of its ‘uncensored’ data was coming, but they would not say what and how much.

Now we know a bit more. As well as printing its data in a print supplement with Saturday’s newspaper they will gradually release the information online. As yet, copies of claim forms have been published using Issuu software, underneath each cabinet member’s name. See David Miliband’s 2005-6 expenses here, for example. From the Telegraph’s announcement:

  • Complete records of expense claims made by every Cabinet minister have been published by The Telegraph for the first time.”
  • “In the coming weeks the expense claims of every MP, searchable by name and constituency, will be published on this website.”
  • “There will be weekly releases region by region and a full schedule will be published on Tuesday.”
  • “Tomorrow [Saturday], the Daily Telegraph will publish a comprehensive 68-page supplement setting out a summary of the claims of every sitting MP.”

Details of what’s included but not included in the official data at this link.  “Sensitive information, such as precise home addresses, phone numbers and bank account details, has been removed from the files by the Telegraph’s expenses investigation team,” the Telegraph reports.

So who is winning in the data wars? Here’s what Paul Bradshaw had to say earlier this morning:

“We may see more stories, we may see interesting mashups, and this will give The Guardian an edge over the newspaper that bought the unredacted data – The Telegraph. When – or if – they release their data online, you can only hope the two sets of data will be easy to merge.”

Update #2: Finally, Martin Belam’s post on open and closed journalism (published Thursday 18th) ended like this:

“I think the Telegraph’s bunkered attitude to their scoop, and their insistence that they alone determined what was ‘in the public interest’ from the documents is a marked contrast to the approach taken by The Guardian. The Telegraph are physically publishing a selection of their data on Saturday, but there is, as yet, no sign of it being made online in machine readable format.

“Both are news organisations passionately committed to what they do, and both have a strategy that they believe will deliver their digital future. As I say, I have a massive admiration for the scoop that The Telegraph pulled off, and I’m a strong believer in media plurality. As we endlessly debate ‘the future of news™’ I think both approaches have a role to play in our media landscape. I don’t expect this to be the last time we end up debating the pros and cons of the ‘closed’ and ‘open’ approaches to data driven journalism.”

It has provoked an interesting comment from Ian Douglas, the Telegraph’s head of digital production.

“I think you’re missing the fundamental difference in source material. No publisher would have released the completely unredacted scans for crowdsourced investigation, there was far too much on there that could never be considered as being in the public interest and could be damaging to private individuals (contact details of people who work for the MPs, for example, or suppliers). The Guardian, good as their project is, is working solely with government-approved information.”

“Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you see the cabinet expenses in full on the Telegraph website today [Friday], and other resources to come.”

Related Journalism.co.uk links:

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MPs’ expenses data will be officially released Thursday but how much will be edited out?

Someone has left a comment beneath Journalism.co.uk’s article looking at the Telegraph’s transparency over MPs’ expenses. They  suggest that a member of staff at the Telegraph uploads the original data to Wikileaks.org. It’s probably unlikely to happen.

What has happened is this: following Gordon Brown’s promise last week, the speaker’s office yesterday confirmed that details of MPs’ expenses will be released tomorrow (Thursday), on the parliament website. Official, but edited.

The Guardian reports:

“The Daily Telegraph obtained a copy of the unedited expenses details and has been publishing extracts since the beginning of May.

“Attention on Thursday is likely to focus on how much damaging information would have been ‘redacted’ and hidden from the public if the Telegraph had not got hold of the details.”

WelshBlogger leaves this comment beneath the Guardian article:

“The ‘official’ one will be sanitised. I’ll only believe the Telegraph version. We, all, owe them a debt of gratitude. Why didn’t the Guardian do it?”

Will we ever see the unedited Telegraph version so we can compare the two? And compare the data with the stories generated by news organisations? Time will tell. WikiLeaks’ editor, Julian Assange, thinks it should be publicly archived information.

The Guardian, as WelshBlogger points out, didn’t get the data. It has, however, plotted information obtained via the Telegraph’s stories, in a spreadsheet.

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HuffPo doesn’t like being linked to… really?

June 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

“HuffPo Scolds Washingon City Paper for Linking,” says a Washington City Paper headline.

You what? The HuffPo doesn’t like links? Well, one in particular: a link to the HuffingtonPost’s site from a spoof site, made by the Washington City Paper for April Fool’s.

Here’s a summary from Jane Kim at the Columbia Journalism Review:

“This past Tuesday, City Paper columnist Amanda Hess blasted HuffPo for its nipple- (or is that traffic-) driven priorities, after which City Paper received a request from HuffPo asking it to take down the parody page from its archive. One of its reasons: ‘The official was perturbed,’ writes Wemple, ‘that the parody page that virtually no one has clicked on since April Fool’s contains a link to the Huffington Post site.’ No switching necessary (though perhaps a little bit of baiting) in that headline after all.”

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Accidental Tweet announces senior BBC appointments (but are now official)

Alfred Hermida was a little surprised to spot this last night: a Tweet from the head of the BBC newsroom, Peter Horrocks, to the director of global news, Richard Sambrook about some new appointments at the BBC.

peterhorrocks

“Perhaps it was intended to be a private, direct message”, Hermida pondered on his blog, Reportr.net.

Well, yes it was, Journalism.co.uk can now confirm after speaking to Peter Horrocks. “It’s a very embarrassing cock-up and everyone in the newsroom has been having a lot of fun at my expense,” Horrocks said.

“It’s had the perverse effect of making people who hadn’t worried about it [Twitter] think ‘oh god, if I’m going to get gossip from Peter then maybe it’s worth signing up,’ he said.

“Sambrook sent a message out late last night (…) I started it as a direct message exchange, and for some reason when I did a follow-up reply rather than go direct, it went as a public message,” Horrocks explained.

“It’s caused a bit of a flutter in the newsroom. I’m not going to use it for direct messages ever again now! I’m going to consider as a public medium in all circumstances!”

So, to clarify the situation, there are two new appointments, now officially announced (Horrocks told Malinarich and Roy this morning). In an (official) announcement Horrocks said:

“I’m pleased to tell you that Nathalie Malinarich is to be the executive editor of World Online and Andrew Roy the head of news for BBC World News. Nathalie has a strong record in World Service news and online, as Americas editor and front page editor. Andrew has widespread experience in newsgathering as former Bureau chief in DC and Brussels as well as his recent time at World News.

“Having two strong new editors will propel our global news  for audiences on TV and and online forward. And, together with World Service News, we will see further evolution of the successful global hub operation under their leadership.”

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Deep Throat round-up in video and audio (via HuffingtonPost.com)

December 19th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Mark Felt, the former FBI official who revealed himself to be Deep Throat, the source that exposed the Nixon-era Watergate scandal, has died aged 95.

Over at Huffington Post you can look at a slide show and a video from 2005, with Mark Felt’s daughter Joan and grandson Will, discussing his life.

Here is the audio of the meeting on October 19 1972, when President Nixon discovers John Mitchell knows the name of the FBI leak who has been giving information to the press about the Watergate break-ins: Mark Felt.

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Google launches audio search feature

September 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Search

Google’s labs have created a new audio search function, which allows the user to search the audio of video clips on YouTube by keyword, an announcement on the Official Google Blog has said.

GAudi, as the service has been dubbed, will produce a list of search results for a term and the times at which they occurred.

The most useful function: you can skip forward to the point in the clip at which your keyword crops up.

The audio indexing tool builds on Google’s launch of video-to-text transcription for political videos in YouTube’s politicians channel, as part of its US presidential election services.

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Journalism in Africa: Kenyan government seeks guidelines on anonymous sources

August 19th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

Dennis Itumbi reports for Journalism.co.uk from Nairobi on the media scene in Kenya:

The Kenyan government is urging the local press to develop a set of standardised rules for using anonymous sources.

Government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua told a weekly press briefing that the state was concerned about ‘a new pattern of untrue stories that are on the increase and which solely depend on anonymous sources’.

Journalists at the televised briefing put the spokesman on the spot over the government’s reluctance to pass a proposed Freedom of Information bill and replace the current Official Secrets Act – a retrogressive set of laws that criminalise access and publication of basic information by branding all government documents confidential.

“You cannot accuse the media of being lazy and irresponsible, while they labour to get information that is hidden under the excuse of the Official Secrets Act. Kindly update us on how far the Freedom of Information bill has gone, given that it has been pending in parliament for the last nine years,” one journalist said.

“We agree that the time has come to free information, but the fact that we have not brought in the new law is no excuse to use sources who have little description or authenticity. We must stop that pattern for the sake of truth,” answered Mutua.

Last year Kenyan journalists took to the streets with their mouths gagged to protest against new laws by the government that would have seen the media forced to disclose their sources.

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Deadline reporter cleared of interview impersonation charge

August 11th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal

Lauren Crooks, a reporter with Scottish press agency Deadline, has been cleared of impersonating a court official to gain an interview.

Crooks was cleared of the charge on Friday after a year spent fighting the allegation and eight court appearances, the agency has said in a press release.

The reporter was arrested in August 2007 following an interview with an assault victim, whose case she had been covering at Edinburgh’s Sheriff Court.

Despite giving out her business card, the interviewee contacted police to say they had only agreed to the interview because Crooks she said she was a court official.

Crooks said she ‘couldn’t have been any clearer’ in making her position as a reporter known during the interview, even making requests for photographs to be set up for a Sunday newspaper

“I have spent 20 years in the Scottish media and everyone I have spoken to has expressed nothing but disbelief that this should have happened at all. I dread to think how much this ludicrous case has cost the taxpayer in wasted police, procurator fiscal and court time,” said Scott Douglas, founder of Deadline, in the release.

“Even more sinister is why a police force –  already under fire for its deliberate erosion of media relations – went to such lengths to pursue a reporter and an agency with an unblemished reputation on a case which didn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.”

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links for 2008-07-15

July 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized
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