Jul 16 2014

War reporting from afar: covering the covert drone war

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This post is by Polis Summer School Student Carmen Zheng

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2 28 15 AM

Source: the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Prior to the 1990-91 Gulf War, a journalist coined the term The Powell Doctrine, named after then Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell. Vowing to utilize every resource and tool available against the enemy to minimize United States casualties, The Powell Doctrine has been successful in being the driving force behind the U.S. military’s usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), also known as drones. The controversy over UAV’s is that drone strikes result in excessive collateral damage, sometimes killing more innocent civilians than military combatants at once. Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Christine Boykiw Tagged with: , , , ,

Jul 11 2014

Stopping everyday sexism

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everydaysexismThis article by Polis Summer School student David Winter.

While studying in London I have witnessed multiple instances of ‘everyday sexism’. The first was the use of the ‘c’ word, in passing, by an American male while out for drinks. This was overheard by a female in the group, who asked him not to use that word. Sadly, soon after he did, repeatedly. Needless to say, the female was disheartened by his choice. Later that night I overheard one of his friends say that she should not have been upset by his using this word and that he did not like her because of it. Continue reading

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

Jul 10 2014

The secret to good political reporting: patience

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Report by Polis Summer School student Rayhan Uddin

Walking the corridors of Parliament, brushing shoulders with politicians and hacks, coffees and lunches with highly influential people, receiving inside information from anonymous sources to earn yourself the political scoop of the day. It’s the stuff of aspiring journalists’ dreams. However, as Isabel Hardman explained in her lecture to the LSE Polis Summer School , being a successful lobby journalist doesn’t happen overnight. The trade requires great patience: both in the journey to becoming a political hack, and having made it.

Isabel Hardman, Assistant Editor, The Spectator

Isabel Hardman, Assistant Editor, The Spectator

Learning to report

Hardman began her journalism career at Inside Housing, a niche weekly magazine that specialises in the UK social housing sector. Though not the most glamorous of jobs, she said the experience was invaluable in teaching her the necessary skills to report well. Hardman learnt how to interpret and make stories out of technical data and government documents, a skill which is very useful to her now at the Spectator. Indeed when asked about breaking into journalism, Hardman suggested that it’s best to search for jobs and internships in trade magazines or local publications, instead of diving straight into the large national newspapers (where interns or novices may simply get lost in the scale of things and end up making the coffee). Continue reading

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

Jul 8 2014

Caring in Crisis – Why development and humanitarian NGOs need to change how they relate to the public

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Dr Shani Orgad, LSE, presenting the study findings at  the ‘Caring in Crisis’ colloquium

Dr Shani Orgad, LSE, presenting the study findings at the ‘Caring in Crisis’ colloquium

This post was written by Dr Shani Orgad from the Department of Media and Communications at LSE and Dr Bruna Seu, Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck. 

Ian Birrell, a staunch critic of the humanitarian aid sector, has attacked ‘cash-swollen charities’ for focusing ‘on hitting on an outdated aid target, instead of on results’. Unfortunately, the UK public seems often to share similar sentiments of disillusionment and distrust towards humanitarian and development NGOs.

Our three-year Leverhulme Trust-funded study ‘Mediated Humanitarian Knowledge: Audiences’ Reactions and Moral Actions’ investigated the UK public’s understandings and reactions to humanitarian and international development issues and to their communications. We specifically explored how members of the UK public make sense of the images and narratives that NGOs generate and how ideologies, emotions and biographical experiences shape those responses. We also looked at how NGOs plan and think about their communications. Continue reading

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

Jul 8 2014

Can the BBC keep giving the public what it wants?

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The BBC is facing multiple  pressures to change its structure and even its funding, but what about its editorial values? In the latest #PolisSummer School guest post, Leonor Gomes responds to a talk by BBC Academy editor Matthew Eltringham.

BBCThe BBC is funded by a licence fee, which essentially means funds are provided by the audience itself. This has helped fund an exponential growth in audience involvement, but is also supposed to reassure viewers that their interests are being taken into account. But what is the audience really getting out of all is?

Take for example shows such as BBC’s Sherlock, Top Gear, and Doctor Who. They are recognized worldwide, and are a product of extensive information gathering and research. The people want these shows, and the BBC provides them. A sufficiently simple business model which yields positive results. Continue reading

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

Jul 8 2014

How journalists can use social media to make their journalism more ‘relatable’ (Guest blog – #PolisSummer)

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In the first of our Polis LSE Summer School guest talks, the Wall Street Journal’s EMEA social media editor Sarah Marshall explained how social media is helping journalists to make news more relevant to readers. Polis Summer School student Eleanor Hudson reports.

The idea of social media as a way of communicating news to people is developing fast so a young person especially is more likely to hear of a news story through Facebook or Twitter than through the traditional newspaper or magazine. Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Charlie Beckett

Jun 27 2014

Eastern Ukraine – a personal view of a land of myth, fear and dangers (guest blog)

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Ukrainian LSE media student Elena Serdyuk has been watching the conflict in the eastern part of her country from London for the last few months. She has also visited her homeland and describes how her relatives living in the heart of the disputed zone are now facing a humanitarian crisis. In this personal account she outlines how, in her view, the population of the eastern part of Ukraine now believes in a set of myths that is dangerous as well as ignorant.

What next for eastern Ukrainians?

What next for eastern Ukrainians?

The problem with eastern Ukraine is that it is, in a sense, politically illiterate. An average citizen does not understand basic concepts of international relations or law, and their engagement in political analysis and discourse usually centers around the evils that, they claim, the United States brings to this world. How do they know about these evils? From television, mostly of Russian origin.

Through Russian TV they heard about Western Europe allowing gay marriages. This is their biggest fear. They find natural the corruption of their police, their courts, and officials. This is how they know things to be, this is how things have been for decades. Gay people in their minds are far scarier than getting beaten up at their local police station, being extorted for money by a judge, or having their business or home taken away, or experiencing the safety of their family threatened. All of that is a part of the reality they have long accepted—it’s like Stockholm syndrome on a mass scale. Continue reading

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

Jun 24 2014

What does the Brooks Coulson phone-hacking verdict tell us about editors’ responsibility for their newsrooms?

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Brooks and Coulson

Brooks and Coulson

The verdict in the phone-hacking trial raises an interesting question: how much do editors know about what happens in their newsrooms? I think the problem at the News of the World was symptomatic of a certain period in tabloid journalism. The problem in that newsroom was particular to the people involved and perhaps the proprietor, too. But even allowing for the exceptionalism of this case, there is a wider issue about journalistic leadership.

New production processes mean that it is both easier and harder to track what your journalists are doing. You can see live data on what is being written and read. But most newsrooms are producing much more material around the clock and often live. Luckily, online makes it easier to correct mistakes as you go, although the errors may well live on somewhere in the digital ether.

But the kinds of journalism – usually investigative – that tend to create serious legal and ethical issues are always going to be problematic. It is in their nature that they will upset people and challenge power, so you should expect push back. It is also in the nature of investigative journalists to take risks, cross bureaucratic borders and swarm across ethical grey areas.

As the BBC has discovered, editorial errors are not only driven by the pursuit of profit. Competition is what makes British (or any other) journalism great. The desire to beat your colleagues or rivals to scoops is what produces the cutting edge and often edgy journalism for which the public pay their subscriptions or fees.

Editors can not know what all their staff, freelancers, columnists, researchers, stringers, commentators, tweeters etc are doing all the time. You can have codes, guidelines and regulations, but in the end this is about culture.

A completely risk averse culture would be the death of decent journalism. I’ve written elsewhere about why we need a news media that can make mistakes but how that right must be balanced with ethical responsibility. I don’t think that will come through statutory regulation [I explain why not here] but through a combination of improved independent self-regulation and above all a change in culture.

The latter is already happening. This verdict might hasten the process. In the past papers could laugh off libel costs with their huge profits. No more. In the past they could ignore the damage done to their brand and shareholder sentiment by newsroom scandals. Not so any more when publics and advertisers are increasingly sensitive. So while editors will never be omniscient in their newsrooms – and they should not be either – they will now have to be leaders who cultivate a culture of responsibility and accountability.

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

Jun 19 2014

What do you see when you think of Facebook? New prize-winning research on how social media fits into our social space

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Andy Crosby has just won an award for his research proposal on how Facebook users think about how social media fits into their lives. What do you think of when you think of Facebook? He asks. Andy is a student on our two-year joint Global Programme degree run with our partners, USC Annenberg in Los Angeles. He won the annual Silverstone Scholarship named in honour of the founder of the LSE’s Media and Communication Department. Here he describes his dissertation research project. Continue reading

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

Jun 4 2014

Polis Photography Competition: “Communication”

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Post by Charlie Beckett

We wanted the winners to reflect the range of the idea of communication as well as being great images in their own right. Of course, an image might be great for all kinds of reasons including its colour, shapes or narrative.

The joint runner up by Irina Rasskazova tells a series of stories. Yes, it’s a nice Amsterdam bridge but ‘Bridge of Divergence’ is a tableau that catches a very emblematic modern moment where a group is more than the sum of its parts. Look at the people looking at people with devices while the others are talking via text as well as mouths and ears. The way they are dangling across the canal on a bridge (very solid forms of communication!) seems to symbolise the way that humans are always focused on keeping in touch, crossing from one place to another, always ‘on air’.

E Continue reading

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Posted by: Posted on by Marion Koob