Apr 16 2014

Look In The Mirror For An Interesting Ethical Dispute

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Should you use a stock photograph in a front page story to represent real suffering?

Media analyst Dan Barker’s blog feature’s a Daily Mirror front page about what it describes as the scandal of the growth of food banks in Britain:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 09.03.05

Does it matter?

I think it does matter. It’s not the end of the world and it should not distract from the real story but it does slightly undermine the Mirror’s credibility.

Firstly, in an age of spin and fakery – especially through social networks – it is good for mainstream journalists to be as straight as possible.

Secondly, they could have taken a real picture (a real family is featured inside the paper).

Thirdly, this was a front page visual lead – the photo IS the big impact of the story, so the fact it is a stock photo undermines its authenticity.

Fourthly, this is an emotive issue. The growth of food banks is not all about poverty. There is a real debate to be had around this issue. By manipulation the Mirror slightly undermines its case.

I don’t think this is a huge ethical issue, but imagine if the Mail had done this about, say, immigration. Would people be annoyed?

We live in an age when journalists have to fight for credibility from a sceptical public – this kind of technique doesn’t help.

On Twitter, the Mirror’s online photography editor defended it’s use:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 09.05.59

So hardly the biggest ethical crisis facing journalism today and there are far worse examples of distortion around. The Mirror is a great paper and very driven by a moral perspective. Which is exactly why I think this was a mistake.

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Posted by: Posted on by Charlie Beckett Tagged with: , , ,

Apr 15 2014

Polis Annual Journalism Conference 2014: First Photos

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob

Apr 11 2014

How to create ethical & effective online social campaigning communications for development

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How do you campaign for a cause in an age when there is so much competition for people’s attention and when the challenge is to get people to do more than click their support?

It’s vital that anyone doing advocacy – especially online – understands the wider media context and the specific conditions of digital networks. This article was written as a presentation to Danish development communications professionals but it is relevant to anyone seeking change through media. It makes suggestions but any practical application of the ideas depends on the purpose of the organization and the nature of the campaign.

First of all I am going to assert four things about the media context: Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Charlie Beckett Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Apr 11 2014

Startups for Journalists: PositionDial

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PositionDial – what’s yours?

Post by Mariam Cook

PositionDialWhere do you stand? Why? And what are you doing about it?

Citizen’s views must be heard, debated, contested, and taken account of, for democracy to truly function. So said Habermas’s work on the public sphere.

With the advent of the internet – we have the opportunity to speak, to reach one another like never before: but how can we all be heard? How can we all influence? Avoid the topocratic nature of previous social and political systems simply following us, smugly, into this hyper-connected era? Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , , ,

Apr 9 2014

Startups for Journalists: The News Hub

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THE_NEWS_HUB_FEED_JANNews Must Be Free

Post by William Stolerman

Imagine you’re launching a news platform. Imagine you’ve got the chance to design the platform from scratch. Imagine print had never existed. Imagine the digital age was the only one you’d ever known. Would you charge users for access? The answer should be ‘no’.The problem, as shown by Matter, a long-form journalism platform that raised nearly three times its funding goal on Kickstarter and had to drop its paywall last year, is that even if you’ve got plenty of vocal supporters for your theoretical paywall, turning that support into hard cash is extremely challenging. In fact, it’s nigh on impossible for a mainstream news platform to enter the market and charge for access, which means any new blood will (and should) be free. The next big thing in news isn’t going to be hiding behind a paywall.

It’s a problem of inheritance. In the print era, newspapers could charge for their content because it was considered worth paying for, but even more importantly, you couldn’t get news for free. The news market was shattered by the birth of the internet and poor decision-making by newspapers themselves which scuppered their own businesses by offering their online content for free. The perceived value of news quickly evaporated.

According to the Digital News Report 2013 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, only 15% of people surveyed could ever see themselves paying for news. The commercial upside of launching a platform with a paywall is limited by the widespread reluctance to pay for news, while paywalls don’t make much sense from a journalistic perspective either because they limit your reach as a media organisation, yet more established titles are leaning towards paywalls. It is a sign of the lowly expectations of the news industry that the paywall launched by The Sun in 2013, for instance, instantly knocked 60% off its readership and was still described as a success.

Newspapers persist with paywalls for one reason – the idea that there isn’t a better alternative. Display advertising, once hoped to be the business model of choice for online news, only works for a handful of titles, but just because display advertising doesn’t work, doesn’t mean there aren’t any other solutions. Exciting, free journalism models are starting to emerge such as Contributoria, which is free to access but community-funded, Newsmodo, a site where freelancers get commissioned by publishers and Vourno, a crowd-funding platform for video journalism.

News should be free – and not just from a commercial or media perspective. News should be free from an ethical standpoint. Although journalists should own the content they produce and should get paid for their work, society benefits as a whole when news content is accessible for free. It is a matter of public interest. It allows people to discover content they otherwise wouldn’t. It allows people to discover opinions they otherwise wouldn’t. It allows for a more open discussion about the biggest issues of the day. The more accessible news content is, the greater its reach, the greater its impact, the greater its benefit to society – but quality content can’t be produced unless journalists get paid for their work. News should be free. The question is how do you pay for it, and that’s a question we’re hoping to solve at The News Hub, a platform launching in April which will be free to access but pay contributors for good work.

William Stolerman is a journalist and the Founder of The News Hub, a crowd-sourced news platform where anyone can publish content and anyone can earn money for their content. The News Hub will be launching in May 2014.

William Stolerman presented The News Hub at the 2014 Polis Annual Journalism Conference.

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , , , ,

Apr 7 2014

Startups for Journalists: Sourcefabric

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Screenshot-JUSNews

Daniel James writes documentation for Sourcefabric, a non-profit organisation creating free and open source software for journalists. It has developed tools for independent media projects in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet bloc, and does implementation work for news organisations around the world. Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , , ,

Apr 4 2014

Does it matter that no-one reports on Parliament anymore?

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Has Parliament completely lost its role as the national debating chamber? And did opening it up to broadcast media hasten the decline?

Apart from the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, PMQs, occasional set-piece such debates about going to war, and celebrity appearances before Select Committees, the House of Commons (let alone the Lords) is barely covered by mainstream newspapers or broadcast media. Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Charlie Beckett Tagged with: , , , , ,

Mar 31 2014

Conference 2014 Speaker Series: An Interview with Mark Watts

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Mr Watts is the Editor-in-Chief of Exaro and the co-founder of the FOIA Centre, which specialises in ‘open-access law’ research. He works as a journalist, author and television presenter and previously has worked as a reporter at several national newspapers. He has been responsible for revelations about MI6 lobbying, political party funding and is the author of ‘The Fleet Street Sewer Rat’.

Interview by Emma Goodman, Meg Charlton, Asuka Kageura, and Kailey Fuller-Jackson.

We are grateful for the support of the Knight Foundationthe BBC Academy and the European Broadcasting Union, as well as Leuchtturm1917.

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , , , ,

Mar 31 2014

Conference 2014 Speaker Series: An Interview with George Brock

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George Brock is a professor and head of journalism at City University. He is the former managing editor of The Times. Professor Brock is a member of the executive board of the International Press Institute, chairman of the IPI’s British committee, and a board member of the World Editors Forum. He is the author of ‘Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism, and the Business of News in the Digital Age’.

Interview by Emma Goodman, Meg Charlton, Kailey-Fuller Jackson, and Asuka Kageura.

We are grateful for the support of the Knight Foundationthe BBC Academy and the European Broadcasting Union, as well as Leuchtturm1917.

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Mar 24 2014

Conference 2014 Speaker Series: An Interview with Eric Newton

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eric-newtonEric Newton is senior adviser to the president at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funds ideas that promote quality journalism and media innovation, based on a principle that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. A former managing editor of the Oakland Tribune, he is also author of the innovative digital educational book on the history and future of news, Searchlights and Sunglasses.

He will be speaking on two panels at the Polis Annual Journalism Conference on Friday March 28, one on the role of journalism education in the future of transparency journalism, and one on innovation in transparency, which will address how new technology is increasing transparency in journalism. Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob Tagged with: , , ,