Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

My most favorite use of Twitter this past year

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at NYU and avid Twitterer (btw, must-follow for anyone interested in the future of media and journalism), was preparing an essay recently on “why I use Twitter”: Help Me Explain Twitter to Eggheads

He asked his readers for contributions on one particular item:

9. And then, the thing I need your help with: what do I actually use Twitter for?.

I have a number of answers to that, which I will lay out in the piece, but I would like to feature some others. The intent of my question is to put the accent on “useful.” What do you use Twitter for? I’m especially interested if you’re an academic—student, teacher, PhD—but my interest is not limited to those groups.

Here’s my answer (sent via Twitter, natch):

@jayrosen_nyu To follow people outside my liberal, Bay Area echo chamber. Hard to bear at times, but can be great sanity check. ;-)

Following last year’s trip to DC (Politics Online conference, eDemocracyCamp) and Austin (SXSW), I made a deliberate attempt to follow more people who are not like me (in terms of where we fall on the political spectrum — we all have in common that we are hooked on Twitter, apparently): Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals etc.

This has proven to be my most valuable use of Twitter by far. It has provided me with a glimpse into the other half of this nation’s soul, which has been so deeply divided over the last eight years (and still is, though I’m hopeful that now is a good time for new beginnings, and maybe we will see some of this division disappear).

It’s been fascinating to read up on some of the articles, stories and other resources that are being passed on by conservatives, to listen to their instant feedback to news of the day, and to follow the discussions around the need for change in their own party.

It is easier today than ever to blend out any news source we don’t agree with and only engage with people who will confirm our views. It is important, in my view, that we resist this temptation, and Twitter seems to be a good antenna into anywhere outside the bubbles of our own limited world views.

Tim Russert

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Journalism here in the US suffered a big loss today: NBC’s Tim Russert dead at 58

Of his background as a Democratic political operative, Russert said, “My views are not important.”

“Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.”

You did a good job, Tim!

San Jose 95128: Reporting from Silicon Valley for German newspaper Welt.de

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

I was recently invited to blog at Welt.de (the online edition of Germany daily newspaper DIE WELT).

The blog is in German and is called San Jose 95128.

I’ll be covering people, events, startups and anything else that makes this place interesting. I’ll also try to pay special attention to any kind of transatlantic transfer of ideas between Germany and the US.

I’m always happy to hear from my readers. Comments are open. Feel free to let me know your thoughts or what topics you’re interested in.

Citizendium launched today

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Citizendium, which I mentioned earlier, launched in public beta today.

I think it’s a good thing Wikipedia got some competition (with regard to content as well as the content creation and editing process). Competition usually breeds innovation, and I see a lot of room for innovation at Wikipedia or similar wiki or citizen media projects.

Ideally, both projects will complement each other.

Wikileaks

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Another large-scale wiki project:

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context.

Who is behind Wikileaks?

Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Our advisory board, which is still forming, includes representatives from expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.

There are currently 22 people directly involved in the project and counting.

Via SmartMobs: Freedom of Information, the Wiki Way

Jim Lehrer on journalism

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

From Jim Lehrer, probably one of America’s finest journalists (and host of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS): yet more journalism guidelines.

For journalists, obviously, but also for bloggers who claim (or aspire) to be journalists.

Rocky Mountains PBS: Jim Lehrer in Denver

Jim Lehrer, anchor of “The NewsHour,” was in Denver December 8 for a Rocky Mountain PBS 50th anniversary luncheon. Lehrer spoke to a packed room at the Pinnacle Club about his career with “The NewsHour,” his work moderating presidential debates, his new novel — and even his early days as a Continental Trailways ticket agent in Victoria, Texas. Watch portions of Lehrer’s talk by topic or watch the entire speech below.

From his speech:

I was asked whether I had any personal guidelines we use in our practice of journalism on The NewsHour. Here’s part of what I sent them. Our guidelines, my guidelines.

  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write, and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart, and as caring, and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter unless a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.

Those are our guidelines.

Can you spell “highest standards”?  Setting up a blog is the easy part.

Blogging and journalism

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Following the recent Microsoft/Edelman PR campaign, I revisited a few sites I had bookmarked over the last year. From what I read in the various ethics codes, it seems pretty clear that accepting gifts of significant value (e.g. items provided for review purposes) is not considered ethical behavior for journalists.

For example, below is a section from the NPR News Code of Ethics and Practices:

VI. Personal Gain, Gifts, Freebies, Loaned Equipment or Merchandise, etc.

1. NPR journalists may not accept compensation, including property or benefits of any kind, from people or institutions they cover. NPR journalists may accept gifts of token value (hats, mugs, t-shirts, etc.). Unsolicited items of significant value will be returned with a letter thanking the sender but stating our policy on gifts. NPR journalists pick up the check when they can (i.e., they are not wined and dined by sources); NPR journalists pay for our own travel in accordance with NPR’s travel policy. There are certain instances – such as conferences and conventions – where food is provided as a convenience for the press as a whole, and in such instances it is acceptable to take advantage of this. In addition, NPR journalists may accept paid travel and meals for speaking engagements and awards ceremonies that are approved under the standards in Section V of this document.

[...]

4. NPR journalists pay their own way in newsgathering, except in unusual circumstances (like going into battle with the military). The Managing Editor or Vice President for News must approve any exceptions. NPR journalists may accept free passes to movie screenings, performances or similar activities that are attended for the purpose of doing reviews or stories for the air.

[...]
6. NPR journalists cannot keep any equipment or items of value provided by a company for test-use for story purposes. Such items must be disclosed to the journalist’s supervisor and are to be disposed of in accordance with the ethical practices stated in this document, which usually means returning such items to the provider.

Very unambiguous language. Note that disclosure is not always enough.

Now, not every blogger is a journalist, nor should they be. However, for bloggers who do consider themselves journalists or who work in what can most accurately be described as a journalistic setting, I believe these time-tested journalism ethics best practices apply and it is important that they be adhered to.

Unless, of course, you think as a blogger you’re above the rules, or the right rules haven’t been written yet, or journalists don’t always stick to the rules either. That’s fine, too. It’s blogging, after all, so anything goes. Just don’t come complaining about how bloggers aren’t taken seriously. You can’t have it both ways.

Meet the Press: The real “no-spin zone”

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

MSNBC’s Meet the Press is good again tonight. Tim Russert is grilling both Israel’s Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Dan Gillerman and Lebanon’s Special Envoy, Ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud on the violence in Israel & Lebanon (transcript).

If the purpose of journalism really is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society, then Russert is doing a very good job.

As an additional bonus on tonight’s program, hear Tom Friedman provide his excellent insights yet once again.

Katrina media fallout

Monday, September 5th, 2005

Following Katrina, some US journalists have started asking some, um, uncomfortable questions.

Joe Scarborough (Scarborough Country, September 4) We deserve answers, Mr. President:

With so many trying to figure out why so few acted professionally in the first days of this epic crisis, I offer an insider’s view of who is to blame for this national disgrace.

We begin with Harry Truman who famously declared that the buck always stops at the president’s desk. For those who now define the term conservative as unwavering support for George W. Bush, even this suggestion is maddening.

But the bottom line is that despite the fact the president was strapped with two governors who bungled this crisis badly, in the end it is the president who sends in the National Guard and FEMA relief.

The president’s suggestion that the size of this storm caught all by surprise just doesn’t get it. His administration was 48 hours late sending in the National Guard and poor Americans got raped and killed because of those mistakes.

A painful assessment from a supporter of the president, but also true.

Keith Olbermann (Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann, September 5): The “city” of Louisiana:

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn’t even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the “chatter” from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn’t quite discern… a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Bob Herbert (New York Times op-ed, September 5): A Failure of Leadership (free registration required):

Mr. Bush flew south on Friday and proved (as if more proof were needed) that he didn’t get it. Instead of urgently focusing on the people who were stranded, hungry, sick and dying, he engaged in small talk, reminiscing at one point about the days when he used to party in New Orleans, and mentioning that Trent Lott had lost one of his houses but that it would be replaced with “a fantastic house - and I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”

Mr. Bush’s performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration.

And it is this incompetence and indifference to suffering (yes, the carnage continues to mount in Iraq) that makes it so hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the United States over the next few years. At a time when effective, innovative leadership is desperately needed to cope with matters of war and peace, terrorism and domestic security, the economic imperatives of globalization and the rising competition for oil, the United States is being led by a man who seems oblivious to the reality of his awesome responsibilities.

Paul Krugman (New York Times op-ed, September 5): Killed by Contempt (free registration required):

Several recent news analyses on FEMA’s sorry state have attributed the agency’s decline to its inclusion in the Department of Homeland Security, whose prime concern is terrorism, not natural disasters. But that supposed change in focus misses a crucial part of the story.

For one thing, the undermining of FEMA began as soon as President Bush took office. Instead of choosing a professional with expertise in responses to disaster to head the agency, Mr. Bush appointed Joseph Allbaugh, a close political confidant. Mr. Allbaugh quickly began trying to scale back some of FEMA’s preparedness programs.

You might have expected the administration to reconsider its hostility to emergency preparedness after 9/11 - after all, emergency management is as important in the aftermath of a terrorist attack as it is following a natural disaster. As many people have noticed, the failed response to Katrina shows that we are less ready to cope with a terrorist attack today than we were four years ago.

But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh’s successor.

Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than having been Mr. Allbaugh’s college roommate. But Mr. Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh left, Mr. Brown became the agency’s director. The raw cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale.

Eugene Robinson (Washington Post op-ed, September 6): It’s Your Failure, Too, Mr. Bush (free registration required):

At the top, things are still hopeless. Federal, local and state officials who perform for the cameras here at the Louisiana State Police complex, headquarters for the relief effort, still spend an unconscionable amount of time debating who’s in charge. Is the president the ultimate authority, or is it Blanco, Nagin, Chertoff, Brown or the generals? The answer seems to vary from hour to hour, depending on who’s holding court in the hot, stuffy briefing room or outside on the portico, where visiting luminaries get mobbed by microphones.

First, an administration that since Sept. 11, 2001, has told us a major terrorist strike is inevitable should have had in place a well-elaborated plan for evacuating a major American city. Even if there wasn’t a specific plan for New Orleans — although it was clear that a breach of the city’s levees was one of the likeliest natural catastrophes — there should have been a generic plan. George W. Bush told us time and again that our cities were threatened. Shouldn’t he have ordered up a plan to get people out?

Second, someone should have thought about what to do with hundreds of thousands of evacuees, both in the days after a disaster and in the long term. As people flooded out of New Orleans, it was officials at the state and local level who rose to the challenge, making it up as they went along. Bring a bunch of people to the Astrodome. We have a vacant hotel that we can use. Send a hundred or so down to our church and we’ll do the best we can.

Tent cities aren’t a happy option, but neither is haphazard improvisation. Is the problem the Bush administration’s ideological fervor for small government? Does the White House really believe that primary responsibility should fall on volunteers, church groups and individuals? Or is it just stunning incompetence and lack of foresight?