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MediaGuardian: Follow Julian Assange’s extradition hearing live

February 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal

WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange is in court today to fight extradition to Sweden on charges of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion.

The Guardian’s Simon Jefferies is live blogging the hearing.

Follow updates on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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Swedish prosecutor seeks arrest of WikiLeaks founder in rape case

November 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Investigative journalism, Legal

According to reports this morning, the Swedish director of prosecutions Marianne Ny has called for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange. Reports AFP:

I request the District Court of Stockholm to detain Mr Assange in his absence, suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

The reason for my request is that we need to interrogate him. So far, we have not been able to meet with him to accomplish the interrogations.

A warrant for Assange’s arrest was issued in October but was withdrawn hours later. He has claimed that the allegations are part of a smear campaign to discredit him following WikiLeaks’ publication of the Afghanistan war logs and Iraq war logs.

Full story on AFP at this link…

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Media Culpa: Promoting Facebook groups is breach of Swedish broadcast act

Public service radio and TV shows in Sweden that encourage listeners to join or discuss stories on Facebook are in breach of the Swedish Radio and Television Act, according to a new ruling reported by Media Culpa.

According to the Commission, it is accepted to inform the public of the existence of a Facebook page or group, but encouraging listeners or viewers to join them is considered one step too far.

Full post on Media Culpa at this link…

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WikiLeaks director to write column for Swedish tabloid

August 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

WikiLeaks director Julian Assange will start writing a monthly column for a Swedish tabloid newspaper, according to a report by Daily Tech.

Based on what claims to be a translated interview from the publication – Aftonbladet – this weekend by Mathaba.net, Assange is said to confirm he will be writing the column to raise “press issues” and that there “might be some scoops”.

But Daily Tech added that there may also be other reasons that the whistleblower would want to become a columnist for the paper.

There’s a couple of potential reasons why Assange might pick to write for Aftonbladet other than merely a love for tabloid journalism. WikiLeaks operates a number of servers in Sweden and is currently seeking a license to get full journalistic protections.  An official column in Aftonbladet could help its case.

Also, WikiLeaks is reportedly very cash strapped and Assange’s payments could offset his costly lifestyle, which features a great deal of travel.

See their full report here…

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Visualisations for investigations: How a Swedish local paper used Tagul

December 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Some good examples of using free online tools to bring illustration and interactivity to a data-heavy report from a small local newspaper in Sweden, thanks to an email to Journalism.co.uk from its web editor Carl Johan Engvall.

Engvall’s paper Ystads Allehanda recently published a large series of articles on poor working conditions at a local school. Two reporters working for about three weeks on the investigation spoke with around 40 teachers about how bad working practices at the school, which has around 250 teachers and 3,000 pupils had become.

“The problem for us was that almost no one dared to step forward. We ended up with 31 anonymous stories. A lot of text and no pictures. The text for the web (extended version) was about 25,000 characters, 11 pages,” explains Engvall. [You can see the full text of the teachers’ statements here.]

After experimenting with Wordle to visualise the key words from the teachers’ stories, an image of the tag cloud was used on the print edition’s front page. But Engvall wanted something more interactive. He tried to build something himself using Flash, but then came across Tagul – “basically a Wordle-cloud to the web”.

The result is the cloud of words below with each keyword linked to the individual teacher’s story:

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Guardian Technology: Bonnier’s magazine of the future

December 18th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

Swedish Media Group Bonnier is experimenting with a new design for magazines, based around a touchscreen Kindle/iPhone-type device, reports Bobbie Johnson in this post.

The design team behind the project have tried to keep elements of print magazine reading that readers want, while abandoning some design features commonly used when creating digital editions of print products, such as page-turning technology.

Mag+ from Bonnier on Vimeo.

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Reuters Institute papers used in Ofcom regional news review

September 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism, Newspapers

Three academic papers with ‘possible solutions’ for the industry crisis were used to inform Ofcom’s review of local media, published yesterday. In its review Ofcom warned that the ITV network will be facing a loss of up to £64m a year by 2012, if it has to continue providing regional news bulletins.

The RISJ authors’ suggestions for protecting the diversity of regional news included forming government news trusts, a press subsidy system and more government and regulatory intervention.

From the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University:

‘Navigating the crisis in local and regional news’ by Dr Andrew Currah examines the current crisis and new systems of support, and charitable and other forms of organisation to support local news: PDF at this link.

‘Journalism, democracy and the public interest’ by Steven Barnett looks at regulatory approaches to local media ownership and their role in achieving public interest objectives. PDF at this link.

‘Press subsidies and local news: the Swedish case’ by Karl-Erik Gustafsson, Henrik Ornebring and David A L Levy examines the current system of press subsidies that operates in Sweden which has underwritten the plurality of news supply, which characterises the Swedish local newspaper industry. PDF at this link.

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Jon Bernstein: Why ITV’s micropayment plan is unlikely to make the Grade

July 15th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

ITV management had better hope Ben Bradshaw’s deeds are as good as his words, because its faith in an another revenue-generating scheme looks misplaced.

Bradshaw, the recently appointed Culture Secretary, told the Financial Times earlier this week that the BBC’s refusal to relinquish licence fee money to aid other broadcasters with a public service remit was ‘wrong-headed’. He said the corporation’s hierarchy would have to come to its senses sooner or later.

While the BBC fights the good fight against ‘ideological’ forces such as these, part of the network gave airtime to a would-be recipient of top-slicing: ITV’s executive chairman, Michael Grade.

On BBC Five Live last Thursday, Simon Mayo asked Grade about the YouTube Susan Boyle affair (some 200 million video views to date).

After describing YouTube’s proposed revenue-share for the Boyle clips as ‘derisory’, Grade insisted ITV wouldn’t get caught out again:

“We are working on it and watch this space, but we’re all going to crack it, either when the advertising market recovers or a combination of advertising and micropayments which is 50p a time or 25p a time to watch it.

“We may move in time, in the medium term, to micropayments, the same way you pay for stuff on your mobile phone. I think we can make that work extremely well.”

(You can listen to the interview on the iPlayer until midnight Wednesday 15 July. Grade interviews starts around 1 hour, 22 minutes.)

Despite Grade’s confidence there are grave doubts that paying per clip is going to work. Here are four reasons to worry:

1. Micropayments don’t work for perishable goods
It’s an argument that has been made against charging for news stories, but it is equally applicable when you are talking about clips from a reality TV programme.

Quality drama may have a shelf-life and an audience willing to pay for it, but a water cooler moment from reality TV? Not likely.

The Susan Boyle phenomenon still feels vaguely current, but it is a passing fad.

If you’re unconvinced take this quick, highly unscientific test: would you pay 50p to watch the machinations of ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman from the first series of Big Brother?

The correct answer: who’s ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman?

2. Micropayments put people off
Writing back in 1996, social scientist Nick Szabo introduced the idea of mental transaction costs. He argued that no matter how small the payment, it still incurs effort on behalf of the potential buyer to work out if he or she is getting a good deal.

He wrote:

“The reason we don’t do the things is that they’re not worth the brain cycles: we have reached the mental accounting barrier.”

And that in a nutshell is why micropayments are doomed to failure.

It’s a theme Chris Anderson touched on in his recently released book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price‘. He wrote:

“It’s the worst of both worlds – the mental tax of a larger price without the commensurate cash. (Szabo was right: Micropayments have largerly failed to take off.)”

Unsurprisingly, Anderson advocates free as a preferable alternative to micro, but he’s not alone. New York professor Clay Shirky is with him.

In fact Shirky has been saying much the same thing since the beginning of the decade and his 2003 essay ‘Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content‘ has become something of a set text.

3. Micropayments only work if you control distribution
ITV’s Grade rightly cites mobile phones as a great platform for micropayments.

The network operator controls what is available via the handset, limiting availability and ensuring prices won’t be undercut.

Further, the operator offers a simple and largely pain-free way of paying for goods by adding the cost to a monthly bill or subtracting it from a top-up on a pay-as-you-go phone.

But the web is different – it’s anarchic, open, a free-for-all.

Nobody controls distribution and despite efforts to chase down copyright abusers, there will always be someone ready to undercut your micropayment with an even smaller charge – free.

Opponents of this reading cite Apple’s iTunes Music Store as proof that micropayments can work on the net. But, as Shirky argued earlier this year, the fee-per-track model works because this is a rare example where no alternative exists.

“Everything from Napster to online radio has been crippled or killed by fiat; small payments survive in the absence of a market for other legal options.”

Further, Apple does control part of the distribution, successfully creating a market for the must-have iPod.

So despite Grade’s assertion, it’s unlikely any micropayment system on the internet will turn out ‘the same way you pay for stuff on mobile phones’.

Incidentally, it will be worth watching to see how the smartphone redefines this divide between the largely ordered phone network and the web.

4. YouTube clips drive traffic first, revenues second
If you think about a clip on YouTube as a direct money maker, you’ve got your priorities wrong.

It’s about reach, exposure and promotion. It’s about creating a buzz and driving traffic back to the core.

Did the Susan Boyle clip achieve this? No question.

For starters, video views at ITV.com were up 528 per cent year-on-year and advertising slots for the duration of the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ season sold out.

Meanwhile, such was the interest around the show, the final was seen by 19.2 million people – ITV’s highest audience since England vs. Sweden in the 2006 World Cup. More eyeballs this year promises high advertising yields next.

In short YouTube kept its part of the bargain.

Would all that have happened had ITV charged 25p a clip? Would 200 million people have checked it out? Will a pay-per-clip Britain’s Got Talent be a winner?

The twist in the tale is that Grade, who steps down as executive chairman at the end of the year, won’t be around to find out.

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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The Local: Free Dawit Isaak, says Swedish newspapers

Sweden’s four largest titles – Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet and Expressen – have teamed up for a campaign calling for the release of Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak, who has been jailed in Eritrea for the last 2,742 days.

Full story at this link…

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MediaCulpa: Ten Swedish newspaper editors on microblogs

There must be ten in the UK – care to add below? In the meantime, from MediaCulpa, Ten Swedish newspaper editors on micro blogs.

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