Senator John Kerry will oversee a series of hearings in Washington next week on the US newspaper industry’s financial problems.
“In a slumping economy, U.S network news programs are expanding their gaze beyond Wall Street and Washington to mainstream America, heralding projects that give voice to everyday people and their financial woes,” reports Reuters.
Find an injection of cynicism over at Doug Fisher’s blog, at this link.
This morning Al Jazeera English’s managing director, Tony Burman, held a breakfast meeting in London and invited journalists along to ask about latest developments at the channel.
Burman is in town for tonight’s Royal Television Society Awards (2007/8), for which the channel has been nominated for the ‘News Channel of the Year’ award – and it’s up against BBC and Sky.
Burman was, however, not overly optimistic and said that he thought it would be the BBC’s win. However, “next year will be the Gaza year and we will be here again,” he told the group. We’ll report back with an update tomorrow.
Burman’s message was clear: the channel is increasingly strengthening its reputation (that includes within the US, he said) and he emphasised that the fact it broadcasts to nearly 140 million households, after two years on air (it launched in November 2006) was a feat he considered very impressive. Getting Al Jazeera onto the satellite and cable networks in North America is a priority, he said.
The real topic of the morning was the crisis in Gaza: the two correspondents, Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros, who had been on the ground prior, and during the 22 day conflict were also there to answer questions.
It was again confirmed that Al Jazeera English was the only English-language broadcaster to report from the Gaza strip before the press ban was lifted (see a previous interview with the channel’s head of new media, Mohamed Nanabnay).
So, here a few of the things that were discussed. Journalism.co.uk will be following up in more detail on these and other points raised, in due course.
Tony Burman said that ‘coverage was really very comprehensive’ and that the reaction to the channel’s output ‘was a reminder that there is a hunger in the world, to get a sense of what is going on’.
The Al Jazeera site had, at times, seen a 600 per cent increase in traffic during Gaza coverage, he said.
Because Israeli, as well as other international media couldn’t access the area either during parts of the conflict, Al Jazeera was watched by a bigger Israeli audience too, he said.
Sherine Tadros, who said it was just ‘chance’ that she ended up reporting from the ground (she is normally the Jerusalem correspondent) said that ‘everything was a risk’. ‘There was no green zone,’ she added. She ‘wasn’t meant to be there’ she joked.
Tadros was asked to go and do a feature from the region before the media clamp-down became apparent, and she hadn’t even packed clothes to take, thinking that her stay would be brief.
To be the only English channel on the ground could be a ‘one-off experience’ during her career, she said. While she thrived on being part of the only English-language media team on the ground – ‘everything we did was exclusive’ – Tadros was aware of the responsibility to cover as much as possible for an English speaking audience.
There was no way they could go away and ‘Google’ for additional information, for example, she said. All the information from the ground had to be gathered by themselves directly. While Tadros said she was already quite familiar with the region, she also had to adapt very quickly to the surroundings and context, she said.
Ayman Mohyeldin described how other international broadcasters were eager to use their material and how he did then feed back to US networks. One of the main differences between the Arabic and English coverage was the level of detail in the reports, he said.
Reports can’t assume context for an English-language audience, whereas an Arab audience has grown up very aware of 60 years of history, he said. As a result, English coverage must supply more detail and background. So while the English and Arabic channels worked closely via multimedia channels (there is a joint new media team) and shared information and sources in their newsrooms, the output can vary.
The style of English reporting is also different, Tadros added. Whereas an Arabic channel might do one hour of footage inside a hospital, that wouldn’t be something they would necessarily do on the English channel.
Expanding into Africa:
With a good presence in Nairobi, Zimbabwe and Johannesburg they’re keen to meet the needs of a ‘growing’ African audience, Burman said.
In regards to whether a full bureau would be opening in Nairobi (to add to bureaux in Washington, Doha, London and Kuala Lumpur), Burman was hesitant. In the current economic climate he ‘can’t talk about expansion,’ he said. For now, little is being said about big investments he explained, adding that Africa is a very important region for them and more correspondents would be added around the continent.
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.
This afternoon @journalism_live ‘twinterviewed’ the Twitchhiker, aka Paul Smith, a freelance journalist from Newcastle. The background here is that on March 1, 2009, Smith will set off on a 30 day mission – to see how far he will get with the Twitter community as his only aid. Yup, he’s truly in the hands of Twitter altruism. And it’s all for charity: the same charity supported by Twestival, Charity:Water. Full details on his site, Twitchhiker.com. You can follow him, and his conversation with this search tag ‘#twitchhiker’.
twitchhiker: Yes, hello. Good afternoon from a rather snowy North East of England.
Journalism_Live: So. No. 1. In 140 chs. what is @Twitchhiker all about?
twitchhiker: Twitchhiker is an attempt by me @paul_a_smith to travel the world in 30 days relying only on Twitter users
Journalism_Live: aha. so you have a real name,@paul_a_smith. And was this @dave_gorman style mission dreamed up in the pub?
twitchhiker: No, the slightly disappointing answer is the bread aisle of Gateshead Tesco about a fortnight ago.
Journalism_Live: Only a fortnight? You’ve acted fast. Has it been hard to organise?
twitchhiker: In terms of travelling, nothing’s organised. One of the rules is I can’t plan my route more than 3 days ahead.
twitchhiker: In terms of everything else, Twitter users are currently helping me to compile a list!
journalism_live: blimey. so let’s hear the other rules…
twitchhiker: I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation on Twitter, from Twitter users. No third party offers.
twitchhiker: I only spend money on food and what I can carry. If there’s more than one offer, I choose. If not, I don’t.
twitchhiker: Finally, If I’m unable move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
journalism_live: do you reckon people might join Twitter in order to help you out?
twitchhiker: I’ve had messages from people who’ve seen the press coverage and joined up, so here’s hoping they’ll help!
journalism_live: and we hear you’re a journalist by trade…?
twitchhiker: No formal qualifications, but I freelance for the Guardian, write and edit for other sites and iPhone apps too.
journalism_live: ever worked as a travel writer before?
journalism_live: (impatient! – ed) it ain’t over yet. Can your thumbs keep up?
twitchhiker: A feature for the Guardian site, the iPhone app, some unpaid stuff, that’s it. More radio, tv and consumer.
journalism_live: aha! now we see the Tweet! So could this be a venture into pastures new for you?
twitchhiker: Possibly, but it’ll be an aside. Anybody who writes can lend themselves to writing about their experiences.
journalism_live: so money: you want to get sponsored? For water? Pray tell us more…
twitchhiker: Charity: water is a brilliant charity supported by today’s equally brilliant #twestival. Hope to do my bit too
journalism_live: nice. And how will you be reporting back from the field?
twitchhiker: Hopefully a mix of blogs, video, images and tweets. Not sure of the detail yet – mobile tariff’s [sic] aren’t cheap!
journalism_live: indeed! and making it to NZ – a realistic goal?
twitchhiker: I think it’s possible -it’s more important we’re all in this together and prove Twitter can make a difference
journalism_live: ‘we’re’ – you’re on your own! @journalism_news will be in the warm eating toast when you’re rummaging in dustbins
twitchhiker: If I’m on my own, I’m going nowhere. That’s the point really. There are 3,175 followers who are here too
journalism_live: ok! let’s wrap this up if not Qs from the crowd? Your biggest fear… and your biggest wish?
twitchhiker: Biggest fear – not enjoying the experience. Biggest wish; make this work, raise the money, meet great people.
journalism_live: @twitchhiker lovely! That’s us done. And woo-hoo – a Q from @DannyDougherty: @twitchhiker?
DannyDougherty: OK, how ambitious are you. I’m over in Wash, DC — any chance you’re going to make your way out here? Do you have travel goals?
twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty Twitterers offer to get me places, I have to go to one of them. So I might come the States
DannyDougherty: So, you’re free as the wind, no personal goals you want to hit, eh?
twitchhiker: @DannyDougherty I am, but as a freelance, I still have to work. I’ve got my full time workload to fit in too
twitchhiker: @journalism_live There you go! Thanks everyone! That’s why this will work. It’s a brilliant community. Global but together #twitchhiker
journalism_live: Send any new Qs to @twitchhiker; have to get back to work. We’ll post link/s later via @journalismnews. Cheers @twitchhiker!
and then the party continued without us…
In December 2008, Journalism.co.uk launched a new Dipity Timeline to track international media and we watched it attract a considerable amount of interest. The idea is to bring together international journalism news and comment, focusing on issues which affect journalists’ freedom of speech. We’ve played around with it a bit and re-launched the timeline (so please make sure you update your bookmarks).
- Twitter: now, as well as following the timeline, you can now follow @press_freedom on Twitter to get all the same updates you would find through the timeline.
- News updates: by following @press_freedom, you will be able to keep up with Journalism.co.uk news and blog items related to media freedom and ethics, as well as links through to the main stories from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Frontline Club Blog, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists.
- Conversation: it would be great to get some conversation going too through Twitter and perhaps via the International Journalists group on Wired Journalists. We’re also experimenting with a Publish2 ‘International Journalists’ group – if you’re a user of Publish2, please do join and we’ll see where it takes us.
It would be interesting to see if we (media and journalism reporters) could collaboratively track a breaking press freedom news story some point in the future, as the journalists did with the floods in Washington.
The Washington Post has launched a new beta site Whorunsgov.com to build profiles of US politicians, law makers and government officials using a specially created Post editorial team.
At this stage users will be encouraged to edit and add to profiles on the site with submissions moderated by the editorial team.
Interactivity – in particular allowing users to discuss profiles on the site – is a key part of the project:
“This is the first phase of a new venture to create a uniquely collaborative and rich information resource that demystifies the individuals behind Washington’s policy-making process,” said Rachel Van Dongen, editor of WhoRunsGov.com, in the release, adding that the site is intended as a free-for-all resource.
Those featured on the site will also grow to include think tank members and state officials.
After we reblogged NPR’s proposals for inauguration coverage with a social media twist, it’s great to see the plans coming into action.
The broadcaster has created Inauguration Report, which features location-based reports from readers and listeners watching the inauguration events in Washington and elsewhere, submitted by text, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
By tagging their entries by location, e.g. L:lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, NPR will map the accounts. Real-time updates from contributors will feed into this stream.
Following up from last week’s post on CNN and NPR’s plans to get social with their coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration as US President, the Associated Press (AP), Al Jazeera and Sky News have all announced plans to host their own online broadcast events:
The agency will live stream the inauguration day events from 7am on its online video network, which is syndicated to partner newspaper and broadcaster websites, in a development of its live coverage of election night in November.
“AP Television News will provide unanchored coverage, from morning coffee at the White House, to the swearing-in ceremony, to the multi-camera shots of the inaugural parade. APTN, with access to dozens of pool cameras along with a dozen of its own, will have cameras in the crowds to capture the sounds and emotions of the millions who plan to attend,” says a release.
Al Jazeera English
The broadcaster will make the most of its recent deal with Livestation by hosting a live webchat on the platform between senior Washington editor Rob Reynolds and viewers on Thursday (Jan 15) at 9pm GMT.
Sky News made use of plenty of multimedia and some streaming technology in its coverage of election night. On January 20 a news package ‘Obama: The Inauguration’ will be shown in high definition online and live streaming of the inauguration ceremony from 5pm GMT will also feature.
Seattle’s oldest newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was put up for sale on Friday by owners Hearst Corp and – if a buyer is not forthcoming in the next 60 days – the paper will close or continue only online. Full story…