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Spanish judge to travel to Iraq to visit scene of cameraman’s death

The BBC reports today that a Spanish judge will travel to Iraq to visit the scene where cameraman Jose Couso was killed by tank fire, at Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, a base for journalists during the invasion of the country.

Journalism.co.uk reported in July last year that an investigation into the death of the Spanish journalist had been reopened.

Another journalist, Reuters reporter Taras Protsyuk, from the Ukraine, was also killed by the tank shelling at the Palestine Hotel on 8 April 2003.

The BBC report today says that a prosecutor has warned that evidence gathered may not be admissable in court but that investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz said that “visiting the scene of the cameraman’s death was a crucial part of proceedings”.

He will travel to Baghdad with four journalists who witnessed what happened, and three lawyers.

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Largest four Spanish dailies cut 39% of staff between 2003 and 2009

October 14th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, Jobs, Newspapers

Spain’s four largest newspapers have reduced staff jobs by 39 per cent since 2003 a report by PRNoticias claimed this week, according to the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper blog.

The publications El Pais, El Mundo, ABC and La Razon have removed 906 jobs between 2003 and 2009 from the 2,325 positions which existed seven years ago.

El Pais, which continues to be the largest employer, has reduced its payroll by 43 percent from 891 employees to 507. According to PRNoticias, the reduction does not mean that all the jobs have been lost because the Prisa Group transferred some of the newspaper’s divisions to other parts of the company.

However, the steeper reduction was introduced by ABC, which cut by half its personnel from 774 to 375 staff members. El Mundo also has less staff as it reduced its staff by 35 percent from 446 people.

The SFN blog also reports that 6,500 Spanish journalists are currently recorded as unemployed and it is predicted that this will increase to almost 10,000 by the end of the year.

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Guardian: Spanish court clears newspaper bosses of ETA links

A Spanish court yesterday threw out a case against executives from Basque newspaper Egunkaria, accused of belonging to the terrorist group ETA.

Five newspaper executives, including the paper’s editor, were accused of links to the terrorist group and the paper was closed in 2003 after allegations that it was part-funded by ETA and followed instructions from the group.

But judges in court yesterday suggested that Judge Juan del Olmo, who had ordered the paper’s closure, had “overstepped the limits of his powers and that prejudice against the Basque language had played a part in the prosecution”.

Full story at this link…

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Babel @ Bedlam: Plagiarism, the digital age and why it’s not just the NY Times

February 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Following the resignation of New York Times reporter Zachery Kouwe over allegations of plagiarism, Dee Jackson looks at “the swift rise of uncredited appropriation of original material in our global digital age” and recent goings-on in the Spanish media world.

As the loud slamming of stable doors at the NYT shows, policing this piracy is practically impossible. It also highlights the frustrating impotence of individual originators in the face of powerful media organisations.

Full post at this link…

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LaInformacion.com: ‘Semantic news’ and the rise of the robots

Some have said the future of journalism belongs to robots. Not the tin-made ones though, the ones that collect and organise information. At LaInformacion, that future is now.

LaInformacion looks just like any other news website, it has all the features we would expect of any other news website. And yet most of LaInformacion’s content is not sourced by a team of diligent scribblers but by machines. Mario Tascón, head of LaInformacion’s parent company Diximedia, explains how it’s done:

From 12:00 am until 6:30am the editor in chief is an algorithm that selects and organises the news that we get. It analyzes social network and search engine trends in real time. It’s a less expensive way to maintain a website during certain periods, and if you can’t notice it, it’s because it doesn’t work that bad.

According to Tascón the algorithm produces a huge amount of information: “More than 5,000 stories get into the system every day, including videos, texts and infographics.” That’s five times more than elpais.com, the second most read news website in Spain. A substantial part of that content isn’t generated in their newsroom but sourced from a network of partners: websites specialising in sports, technology, international affairs, etc. And since the source material is monitored in real time, they don’t have to worry about breaking news.

LaInformacion has a great technological frame that lists thousands of news stories in real time, so our approach to ‘breaking news’ uses far fewer resources than the traditional media. Breaking news is analyzed by the machines, using ‘semantic intelligence’. With that part of the job in the hands of the algorithms, journalistic resources are dedicated to researching elaborate stories and providing them with added value, and to experimenting with new narratives and different techniques.

Though it’s only been officially out of the beta phase since September, LaInformacion has already established a solid audience. According to Nielsen’s ratings, the site had 1.6 million users in December. Elmundo.es, which came top of the list, had 6 million. Asked how he felt about the paywall model, something he worked with whilst running elpais.com, Tascón’s answer was quite simple: “[Pay walls] are not going to work for those who want to develop the business. If the main goal is to protect print, let them shut down their websites, but they will kill their brands by doing so.”

If he’s right, the initial investment of 26 million Euros  (22.5 million pounds) will be covered by the enterprise’s fourth year. In an environment where the market and the technology are developing faster than any model has time to establish itself, what are the next steps for Lainformacion then?

“To be fast and focus on what we know how to do best. As for the rest, associate with those who do it well.”

LaInformacion's trinity: users, robots and pros

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Editors Weblog: Catalan journalist launches paid-for, online-only news site

November 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Editors Weblog translates a report from El Mundo on Catalan journalist Arcadi Espada, who is to launch a paid-for news site, Factual, on November 30.

The site will charge €50 a year for access to unlimited content and has a starting budget of €250,000.

According to the report, Espada has been a staunch supporter of the growth in online-only news websites in favour of print publications. The launch of Factual, however, follows the closure of award-winning Spanish news site Soitu.es last month.

Full story at this link…

Introductory video from Factual – in Spanish – below:

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paidContent:UK: Award-winning news site Soitu.es closes

October 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Online Journalism

Twice recognised in the Online News Association’s (ONA) annual awards, Spanish news site Soitu.es has announced its closure.

Building an audience was not the issue – attracting advertisers to a new model was the problem, Gumersindo Lafuente, founder of the site, has said (in a post attracting 760 comments so far).

At 22-months-old, Soitu’s closure will be a blow/lesson to news start-ups and independent sites recently launched.

Full story at this link…

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Spain: 2,221 journalists have lost jobs since June 2008

April 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Job losses

This stat from an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report (via Expatica) on the Spanish journalism industry: since June last year, 2,221 journalists from 30,000 in the country have lost their jobs. Around 350 more are expected soon, the report goes on to add.

The Spanish goverment is stepping in to help the industry, the report added, though the exact measures have not yet been made public.

There is a potential for direct state aid, the Spanish Federation of Journalist Associations (FAPE) has said.

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Metro International betting on newspaper growth in emerging markets

April 20th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers

Metro International shares have plummeted on news of increased losses and a prospective bid falling through, but CEO, Per Mikael Jensen, remains optimistic.

“It was not a good quarter, but we could have done much worse,” Jensen told me, after the company posted grim financial news this morning.

Its net losses for the first quarter (Q1) of 2009 more than doubled compared to the same period last year, from 6.4 million euros to 15.3 million euros, and year-on-year net revenues decreased 24 per cent to 55.6 million euros from 73.4 million euros in Q1 2008.

The freesheet giant also announced that a mystery bid, which led the company to postpone seeking a rights issue to raise more capital earlier this year, had been stranded on the bidder’s inadequate financing arrangements.

The news caused Metro shares to fall sharply, but when I talked to Jensen, he professed to take comfort in the share doing better than before the bid emerged in February.

“I think people were calculating on a divestment,” he said, adding that he was not sure if the timing of the rights issue, which will now go ahead, would be any worse than two or three months ago.

In January, Metro shocked the market by closing its fully owned operation in Spain, which published the free daily newspaper Metro in seven Spanish cities, with immediate effect. However, in the last few months the company, which has 81 editions in 22 countries, has launched titles in Moscow and Mexico’s second city, Monterrey.

“It’s been our expressed strategy to grow in Russia, Asia and Latin America, markets that are not as mature as the European, for some time now,” Jensen said.

Read more about the consequences of the recession for free newspapers here.

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Rebekah Wade’s first public speech in full

January 27th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism, Newspapers

If the Wordle and other coverage isn’t enough, here’s the Hugh Cudlipp speech by the editor of the Sun, Rebekah Wade, in full [note: may have differed very slightly in actual delivery]:

The challenging future of national and regional newspapers is now the staple diet of media commentators.

If you have been reading the press writing about the press you’d all be forgiven for questioning your choice of career.

I’m not denying we’re in a tough place – we are.

But I don’t want to use this speech to make grand statements on the future of our industry.

I want to talk to you about journalism.

More »

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