Tag Archives: Olympics

Three spheres of relevance for news online

Today’s a good day to point at three examples of how you can enhance the value of online news by linking it to additional, meaningful and relevant content.

I’m calling them the Three Spheres of relevance, three different approaches to creating news relevance: locally on a news site by bringing related content to a single destination, by using tagged metadata to enable better linking to relevant material and in the newsgathering process itself (stick with me, this might get into seriously tenuous segue territory).

Thomson Reuters has launched a new version of its semantic tagging tool Open Calais that broadly enhances and builds on its first round of development (hat tip Martin Stabe).

Open Calais has made publicly accessible a piece of internal software used by Thompson Reuters that automatically reads content and creates relationships between different articles, news pieces and reports based on the businesses, places, events, organisations and individuals mentioned in them.

External developers have been encouraged to play with the technology to create an additional level of metadata for their own sites that could offer users a more sophisticated level of additional content around news pieces and blog posts by relying on automatically generated semantic links rather than more rudimentary manual or algorithmically created versions.

The second round of development two has brought WordPress plugins and new modules for Drupal to allow developers to more easily integrate metadata into the applications and third-party tools they are building.

As part of round two, Thomson Reuters has also launched Calais Tagaroo, a WordPress plugin that automatically generates suggested tags for bloggers that want to incorporate additional relevant content to their posts.

This weekend has also seen the launch of New York Times’ Olympics blog, Rings, as a destination where readers can get a plethora of Times content about the Beijing games. The blog is the latest edition to the Times’ Olympics sub-site.

In addition to covering the sporting competition the blog – like the Times’ sub-site – draws in reporting from Times’ sports, foreign and business desks, as well as taking pieces from bureaux in China.

Compare this with the Olympics destination the BBC is running for the games. It could easily draw sporting coverage together with relevant material from the news pages but it has chosen not to make that link and instead leave its users to drift off elsewhere to find out about the other issues surrounding the games. It doesn’t make the most of pulling all the relevant and related material togther in the way the Times does with its blogs and sub-site.

The final example of news organisations working on relevance comes before any of that content is even written.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told the Press Gazette that as part of the newspaper’s adoption of an integrated print and digital news production process reporting staff would abandon the traditional newsdesk structure to instead ape the set-up of Guardian.co.uk reporting staff and be rearranged into subject-specific teams or ‘pods’ to allow closer working between reporters and the ability file for both the web and the print edition as the story demands.

Online Journalism China: The voices in-between the official press and the western media

Adding to the burgeoning hoard of international bloggers on Journalism.co.uk, China Daily’s Dave Green offers an insight into the world of online journalism in China.

Domestic furore over the Western media’s reporting of the Tibet risings and the Olympic Torch relay was as inevitable as night following day, but the nature of the backlash wasn’t as simple as Chinese patriots toeing the party line.

There was – of course – the usual patter of soft patriotism: MSN has been running a campaign urging users to add ‘love China’ symbols to their usernames – an estimated seven million Chinese MSN users have signed up so far.

And hard patriotism at the involved and overtly politicised level when Anti-CNN.com – a site aiming to ‘expose the lies and distortions in the Western media’ – was set up after CNN commentator Jack Cafferty called the Chinese government ‘goons and thugs’.

There’s an implicit irony – hypocrisy even – of calling Western media biased, it rather suggests there’s little hope of any introspective eyes turning on the output of the domestic media and realising its failings.

But things are rarely as simple as a polarised set of black and white opinions.

If you take the reaction to a recent essay by Chang Ping, deputy editor-in-chief of the Southern Metropolis Daily, as any kind of benchmark then calls to discover the middle ground and advocate the use of the internet to hunt for the truth on all media may be an even more radical idea than Chinese popular public opinion accepting what’s written by the Western press.

Chang wrote: “If netizens genuinely care about news values, they should not only be exposing the fake reports by the Western media, but also challenging the control by the Chinese government over news sources and the Chinese media.”

This comment on Anti-CNN.com, not unlike Chang’s suggestion, is also simply calling for better reporting and scrutiny of both sides.

Chang’s comments led him to being widely labelled a ‘Chinese traitor’ and a ‘running dog’.

The worry is that his suggestion for simple scrutiny will go unheard amongst the clamour to present a united front against perceived foreign oppression. If it does – if the middling voices are not heard – the chances of Chinese looking beyond state-controlled media for news on anything but the most local or trivial of issues seems remarkably slim.

Spleak apps deliver politics and sport news to social networks

Spleak Media Network has launched two new applications for delivering short-form sport and political news to social networks.

SportSpleak and VoteSpleak will serve up news headlines and gossip to users on social networks and instant messaging services, who can then comment on the updates to their friends.

Both will function along the same lines as CelebSpleak, which offers ‘tattles’ or short snippets of celebrity news to users including content from Hearst’s digital titles.

Content deals for SportSpleak and VoteSpleak, which have been launched in time for the forthcoming Olympics and US presidential election, will be announced shortly, the company said in a press release.

Spleak’s applications, which currently have over 100,000 active daily users, are available on AOL’s AIM, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook, MySpace and through SMS alerts.

Chinese officials told to influence online news coverage of games, says RSF

Chinese government officials have been told to ‘orientate online opinion’ in the build up to and during this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing, press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said.

According to RSF a confidential memo seen by the group ‘confirms that the authorities have an active policy towards online information content’.

In the memo, guidelines on how government officials should behave towards foreign media before and during the games are set out.

The instructions, which are intended for provincial officials in the country, asks recipients to “reinforce the work of commenting on the Internet and increase the level of opinion orientation on the Internet.”

“There is a need to reinforce management of news websites and to guarantee appropriate opinion behaviour as regards online news and information,” the memo states.

In a press statement, RSF said the plan contained some positive features, such as instructions on training officials and holding news conferences for foreign journalists, but contained ‘serious obstructions to the free flow of news and information’.

“While introducing more flexible rules for foreign journalists in January 2007, the Chinese authorities also established a nationwide policy for supervising and influencing the international media,” said RSF.

“Parts of this classified memo show there is a real concern to provide better information to foreign journalists, but it also reveals that the authorities never abandoned their intention to censor the news.”

Full details of the memo can be viewed on the RSF Asia website.

Rusbridger attacks Chinese ‘censorship’ as Tibetan riots quelled

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has written to the Chinese ambassador in the UK attacking China’s censoring of foreign news websites – including Guardian.co.uk – in the wake of the Tibetan riots.

Mr Rusbridger asked for the ambassador’s assistance in unblocking his website back online and ensuring that access to it remained free of interference.

“As you will be aware, the blackout has coincided with media coverage of the recent unrest in Tibet, forcing the conclusion that this is an act of deliberate and wholly unacceptable censorship,” wrote Mr Rusbridger.

“We are dismayed that Beijing should curtail international press freedom, particularly in Olympic year.”

The move comes in the wake of a violent crackdown on protests in Tibet by Chinese authorities that have also attempted to block the media from reporting what was going on.

Tibetan exiles say at least 80 protesters died in the clashes as reporters were being forced to leave.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China reported that as many as two-dozen reporters have been turned away from or forced to leave Tibetan areas and government censorship of the internet and television broadcasts was also hampering journalists’ work.

“Reporting interference is not in the interest of the Chinese government which is trying to show a more open, transparent and accountable image to the world,” said FCCC President Melinda Liu, in a piece carried on the FCCC website.

“Such interference is not in keeping with reporting regulations adopted during the Olympics period – and is especially not in keeping with the international community’s expectations of an Olympic host nation,” added Liu.

Writing for the Telegraph.co.uk Richard Spencer claimed to have been ordered to leave the Tibetan town he was staying in by local police (Spencer also points to some bloggers who are managing to get information onto the net about the crackdown)

The Honk Kong Journalists Association (hat tip Roy Greenslade) is also reporting that journalists from at least six Hong Kong media organisations have been placed under escort and ordered out of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

IOC blogging guidelines – ‘Blogging form of personal expression, not journalism’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has had the definitive word on what a blog actually is by publishing its blogging guidelines for the upcoming Beijing Games (apologies for the late reference to these guidelines – they were first published some time ago).

“The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these Guidelines, as a legitimate form of
personal expression and not as a form of journalism. Therefore, the IOC does not consider that blogs by Accredited Persons, in accordance with these Guidelines, will compromise Paragraph 3 of Bye-law to Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter which states that “Only those persons accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or in any other media capacity”.”

(IOC blogging guidelines for Beijing 2008 PDF)

According to the limitations if an Accredited Person – coach, athlete, team official, drinks carrier and the like – wants to maintain a blog throughout the Games they will not be able to make mention of anything other than ‘their own personal Olympic-related experience’ as ‘blogs of Accredited Persons should take the form of a diary or journal’.

This means posts should not contain:

  • Any interviews with, or stories about, other Accredited Persons
  • Any information that is confidential or private in relation to any third party
  • Information which may compromise the security, staging and organisation of the Games
  • Pictures – still or moving – that contain sporting activity and medal ceremonies in Olympics-designated areas.

Essentially, the IOC doesn’t seem to want any form of journalism or publication that could in anyway clash with the activities of commercial stakeholders or the political sensibilities of the hosts.

Anything journalistic will be monitored from the imposing media centre that has been constructed as the designated home of the world’s press during the Games.

Here’s what could happen if rules are flouted:

“Violation of these Guidelines by an Accredited Person may lead to the withdrawal of such person’s Olympic identity and accreditation card.”

IOC approves blogging athletes for Beijing – with strict rules

The International Olympic Commitee (IOC) has announced that athletes will be allowed to blog this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing – but what will they actually be able to say?

In order to protect other media who hold rights to the games’ coverage, blogging competitors will have to follow strict guidelines, the Associated Press reports, with blogs taking a diary-style and no interviews with or comments about other athletes allowed.

Furthermore, athletes’ blogs cannot contain any audio or video content of ‘any Olympic events, including sporting action, opening, closing and medal ceremonies or other activities which occur within any zone which requires an Olympic identity and accreditation card (or ticket) for entry.’ Similarly still photos are allowed, so long as they don’t show any Olympic events.

Finally, sponsorship of such blogs is forbidden and none of their domain names can contain the word Olympic, Olympics or anything similar.

News articles today on Journalism.co.uk

NUJ to offer free legal support for members’ copyright actions
Deal with Thompsons Solicitors will allow members to pursue copyright infringements at no personal cost

Times Mobile appoints Brigid Callaghan as its new editor
Brigid Callaghan becomes editor of Times Mobile

Chinese digital news under attack in run-up to Olympics, says press freedoms report
Reporters Without Boarders report on press freedoms says 55 reporters and internet-users have been arrested in China since the country was awarded the Olympics

‘Local online news is changing, but not fast enough’ Paul Bradshaw
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