New media coverage of Mumbai attacks

IDesiTV is livestreaming the CNN-IBN coverage of the Mumbai terrorist attack.

Twitter feeds are updating fast and furiously.

Vinu has posted his photos on Flickr including this one (below)

Dina Mehta has posted some important links.

Other blogs: India Uncut | Global Voices | Gauravonomics | Mumbai Metblogs | Mumbai Helps

Google map of the attacks.

Wikipedia entry on Mumbai attacks.

CoverItLive tool used on DePers.nl and News.com.au

Spy listens in.

Update: Guardian’s Jessica Reid’s roundup
Twingly on the big step towards mainstream for Twitter.

Print media decline

David Carr laments in “As print media declines” that the “sky is falling” in print media:

“It has been an especially rotten few days for people who type on deadline. Just Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor announced that, after a century, it would cease publishing a weekday paper. Time Inc., the Olympian home of Time magazine, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, announced that it was cutting 600 jobs and reorganizing its staff. And Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country, compounded the grimness by announcing it was laying off 10 percent of its work force – as many as 3,000 people.”

Amazing how Carr classifies “people who type on deadline” as an exclusive term for those in print.

I also wonder why “newspaper Web sites” are referred to as such. Why can’t we call a “news site” a news site and be done with?

And here’s Carr’s pitifully ignorant old media apologizer comment: “The blogosphere has had its share of news breaks, but absent a functioning mainstream media to annotate, it could be pretty darn quiet out there.”

Phooey. Wake up and smell the roses and hear the din Mr Carr. It’s as “noisy” out here as the clatter of any newsroom. For every newspaper that dies, thousands of news sites sprout up. The ignorance on Mr Carr’s part is that this won’t qualify as “mainstream media”. Mainstream is over-rated, just as Wall Street analysts had over Main Street bloggers about a month or two ago.

Finally, he quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt: “If the great brands of journalism – the trusted news sources that readers have relied on – were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly become a ‘cesspool’ of useless information.”

Consider a ZaaK433 comment:

“if the great brands of journalism — the not so trusted news sources readers don’t rely on — were to vanish, then the Web itself would quickly fill the vacuum and see the attention it deserves and become a decentralized but trusted source of information.”

Enough said.

MORE.

Related:10 reasons why there’s a bright future in journalism
Econ bloggers gain clout in financial crisis

News site as wiki : Wiki North East

Can a news site draw more readers via a complementary wiki?

Paul Bradshaw posted on E-Media Tidbits about the U.K. daily Trinity Mirror’s launch of what he describes as a wiki-blog hybrid at Wiki-North-East.co.uk from an idea from web developer Louise Midgley.

Midgley, 28, who works for Trinity’s North-East division ncjMedia, won a cash prize and will also get a future share of any profits from her idea.

The wiki-blog features up to 12 years’ worth of digital archives documenting the North East England’s events and people that were not previously being used on ncjMedia’s sites.

Bradshaw says:

“I’ve written extensively on wiki journalism and its possibilities, and it’s great to see some experimentation in the U.K. However, at this stage there is a small problem: It’s very hard to find anything to edit.

For instance, Wiki North East features several “topics,” such as Kevin Keegan or wind farms. But users cannot edit these topic overviews themselves — only the “articles” underneath them. To further confuse things, “articles” that are taken from the newspaper archive are not editable. Also, at the moment, those are the only articles I can find on the site.

In other words, there’s nothing to edit. The result is something of a wiki-blog hybrid.

The most obvious button, “Add your content to this topic,” does allow you to create an article from scratch. (You also can add a topic — you can only do that from your account page.)

This approach is puzzling. One of the reasons Wikipedia was so successful is that it did not start with nothing — it took content created in a prior (edited) incarnation, along with copyright-free encyclopedia material. Wikipedia also explicitly invited users to help with incomplete entries (“nubs”).

Wiki North East might benefit from a similar approach:

-Make archive articles and topics editable.
-Offer incomplete content that needs editing.

In other words: Let go!

Of course, the biggest challenge is building a community that cares enough about the site to repair the inevitable vandalism. Good luck with that.

Actually, I like the interface of Wiki North East — it’s clearly more user-friendly and less dour than Wikipedia.

Perhaps, for any news org, the proposition of assigning a few to manage the many Wikipedia-style may be too scary. Especially for smaller media companies trying to re-charge their sites with limited resources. The threat of suits also may be too high a price to pay for naively trusting everyone to play nice.

Even Wikipedia has changed its policy on this, and the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post have aborted free-to-critique projects after being deluged with crude comments from highly-motivated trolls.

Wiki North East encourages readers to dig deeper for information in a site they can trust. Credible content is more link-worthy and baits advertising.

The next step is for the project to constantly provide links to more contemporary stories/most-viewed stories on its current sites in the ncjMedia stable and vice versa and perhaps to link out to blog posts about the region.

Related today:
Where Are the News Org Wikis? by Amy Gahran
J-Schools Use Geo-tagging, Wikis, iPhones to Teach
Loudun library with county-wide Wiki

The girl in the window

(via Mindy McAdams)


A very moving story by Lane DeGregory of the St Petersburg Times of a feral child Dani imprisoned in her own home:

Just before noon on July 13, 2005, a Plant City police car pulled up outside that shattered window. Two officers went into the house — and one stumbled back out.

Clutching his stomach, the rookie retched in the weeds.

Plant City Detective Mark Holste had been on the force for 18 years when he and his young partner were sent to the house on Old Sydney Road to stand by during a child abuse investigation. Someone had finally called the police.

They found a car parked outside. The driver’s door was open and a woman was slumped over in her seat, sobbing. She was an investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“Unbelievable,” she told Holste. “The worst I’ve ever seen.”

The police officers walked through the front door, into a cramped living room.

“I’ve been in rooms with bodies rotting there for a week and it never stunk that bad,” Holste said later. “There’s just no way to describe it. Urine and feces — dog, cat and human excrement — smeared on the walls, mashed into the carpet. Everything dank and rotting.”

Tattered curtains, yellow with cigarette smoke, dangling from bent metal rods. Cardboard and old comforters stuffed into broken, grimy windows. Trash blanketing the stained couch, the sticky counters.

The floor, walls, even the ceiling seemed to sway beneath legions of scuttling roaches.

“It sounded like you were walking on eggshells. You couldn’t take a step without crunching German cockroaches,” the detective said. “They were in the lights, in the furniture. Even inside the freezer. The freezer!”

While Holste looked around, a stout woman in a faded housecoat demanded to know what was going on. Yes, she lived there. Yes, those were her two sons in the living room. Her daughter? Well, yes, she had a daughter . . .

The detective strode past her, down a narrow hall. He turned the handle on a door, which opened into a space the size of a walk-in closet. He squinted in the dark.

At his feet, something stirred…

MORE.

Link to Multimedia Report by Lane DeGregory and Melissa Lyttle.

Faster than you think, slower than you want

In training, I often say the phrase Change Is ComingIt will be faster than you think and slower than you want. It may sound contradictory but when you are addressing a mixed audience confined to a room of either whiners or winners the phrase applies.

The whiners in the room say that change is coming too fast, they can’t keep up – heck they don’t even have time to sift through their emails, nor face a computer screen once they reach the ‘safety’ of their homes. The younger whiners bitch about the older ones: “They don’t get it.” “They’re not open to new ideas.” “They think signing me up as a friend on Facebook shows that they are with-it.”

The winners, well, they’re the quiet ones. They absorb and digest and respond by applying what they learn. They know change won’t come easy but they find ways to win their bosses over. Or leave. Like Rosenblum says they can be the change or wait till their bosses die.

Mindy McAdams and Jeff Jarvis make the point clear in their recent posts.

Mindy:

During the past year I’ve been in a lot of newsrooms and talked to a number of journalists, mostly working at medium-size and larger newspapers, about online. The journalists often wonder aloud whether their managers know enough about online — and note, they are talking about the ones in charge of the online.
But over the past weekend, I heard a couple of reporters say this in a more pointed manner:

“We have no leadership.”

That’s a stunning statement, in my opinion. And let me add, they were not whining. They may have sounded a bit angry, or disgusted, but not outraged. It’s mainly a statement of fact. The editors and publishers — and yes, all those folks in corporate — don’t have a clue. It’s more and more obvious.

While this is harsh, it’s also true. I don’t mean to dump on the staff, the reporters and designers, editors and producers. The managers have made many stupid decisions, often out of pure ignorance or from fear. They have fired consultants who told them radical change was necessary and paid big bucks to other consultants who smoothly assured them that “content is king.”

But the reporters and designers, editors and producers, were there too. Just like solders in a war, or average German citizens in Nazi Germany. They were there, watching the terrible decisions being made and going right along with them.
If you have no leaders, step up!

Jeff:

Journalists are such a whiny bunch, always complaining, constantly blaming someone else for their problems. But friends, as the Rev. Wright would say, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Newspapers and newspaper companies are about to die. The last remaining puddles of auto, home, job, and retail advertising are about to be sucked down the drain thanks to the economic crisis and credit is about to be crunched into dust. So any newspaper or news company that has been teetering will fall. If Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG can fall, so can a puny newspaper empire — and there’ll be no taxpayer bailout for them. When this happens, will it be Sam Zell’s fault? Hardly.

The Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves. Oh, I, too, am angry at the state of newspapers in America but I’m angry at the right people. The LA Times’ problems — like those of other papers — were caused by by decades of egotistical and willfully ignorant neglect by the owners, managers — and staff — at the paper…

When the internet came, did you all – every one of you as responsible, smart journalists, on your own – leap to get training in audio and video? Did you immediately hatch new ways to work collaboratively with the vast public of bloggers able and willing to join in local journalism? Not that I saw.

When the link economy emerged, enabling papers to find new efficiencies by saving resources long spent on commodity news so they could concentrate on their real mission — local — did you grab the opportunity by the horns and beg to cover the hell out of Encino? No.

More Mindy. More Jeff.

WSJ.com to go social

 

AP’s Anick Jesdanun writes that WSJ.com will start its own social network from scratch.  

“We believe that in the future, social networks are going to be an important means of distributing content and of spreading news, and we want to be a part of those networks,” says Alan Murray, a deputy managing editor.

The new “Journal Community” launches Tuesday for paying subscribers to create and share personal profile pages with their real names, job details, interests and photos, similar to services at Facebook and LinkedIn.  The Journal plans to open the social-networking features to nonpaying visitors in future.

The AP report states that only 5 percent of the site’s users are currently paying subscribers. Latest ccomScore stats says WSJ.com had 4.7 million visitors in July, nearly twice July 2007’s total of 2.4 million.

One wonders whether WSJ.com’s cautious approach, aiming for such a small pool of “well-heeled executives” will gain any traction. 

WSJ.com hopes that its insistence that users post their real names — verified against their subscription info — will  “increase the quality of discussions.” That seems highly unlikely.

Mixing free and paying within the same site is always a pain for navigation. 

Free users —  frustrated too often by clicking into restricted areas — will eventually exclude the site from their most frequently visited list.

Paying subscribers who already social network-savvy may find the walled garden too claustrophobic.

MORE.

How editors feel about the web

The latest research from Project for Excellence in Journalism has some interesting outcomes on how editors feel about the web and multimedia skills:

Odd that they chose only three emotions. Surely editors are capable of more range – why not Confused, Clueless, Apathetic, Utterly Stupefieid or I’m As Mad As Hell And I Am Not Going To Take This Anymore?

From the report:

At larger papers, where staff cuts have been deepest and the newsroom moods darkest, fully 57% of those surveyed say “web technology offers the potential for greater-than-ever journalism and will be the savior of what we once thought of as newspaper newsrooms.” By contrast, just 4% expressed worry that the web’s pressure on immediacy might undermine the accuracy and values of journalism.

The optimism also exists at smaller papers, but not as strongly. Only 40% agree with the “savior” description. Industry-wide, nearly half of all editors responding (48%) admitted they were conflicted about the web’s impact.

Whatever their feelings, there is no doubt that the web has been accepted as a fact of newsroom life. Today, editors said they no longer ask reporters if they have time to file for the web before embarking on their story for the print edition. Filing first for the web is a given. Editors also noted that exclusive material is no longer kept off the web as it was just a few years ago to protect the print edition impact. Today, it is posted immediately.

The “Skills Essential in Newsrooms” graphic suggests that Multimedia Skills are separate from Overall Computer Skills. The fact they hypenated Multi-media suggests some confusion here.

Does editing audio or cropping and resizing photos or putting together a slideshow constitute an Overall Computer Skill or a Multi-media Skill? If a person coming into journalism these days can write code but can’t write a decent caption does that consitute an “essential” skill? And what if the said person doesn’t do databases? What category does code writing – whether it’s HTML, or Java, or Actionscript fall under? Can editors even tell the difference?

From the report:

Orlando Sentinel editor Charlotte Hall called the creation of a data team the “single most significant innovation” to come out of the paper’s 2007 reorganization in terms of generating new reporting skills for both the web and print versions of the paper. The team brought together everyone at the paper responsible for gathering data for listings, then melded them with library researchers and archivists, a reporter trained in computer-assisted reporting (CAR) plus an editor who had been a high-level database researcher. Their job, she said, is to mine data, then work with other teams across the paper to develop stories based on that data. Initial results have included front page enterprise stories on local restaurants and housing foreclosures.

For the restaurant project, which brought a business reporter and the restaurant critic into the team, the paper put together a database of local restaurant health inspections, then produced a Sunday front page story under the headline, “How Safe Is Your Restaurant?” It told readers that 30-40% of Orlando’s licensed eating establishments had been cited for serious health violations, including some of the area’s most exclusive dining locations. Findings, broken down by neighborhood, were posted on paper’s website, as was the entire database from which the story was written. Driven largely by the Sunday front page treatment in the newspaper, the on-line database drew over a quarter of a million page views during the first few days, Hall said.

Working with data on housing foreclosures, the team produced a two-day front page package that mapped foreclosures in the Orlando region. The on-line version of the story allowed readers to zoom in by zip code or street name using an interactive map.

More from the report:

One sign of this new competitiveness is the advent of newspaper “early teams”, groups of journalists usually comprised of an editor and a few reporters, who begin anytime around dawn or before and work through the early afternoon, reporting and writing content exclusively for the website. In many respects, these early teams represent a kind of resurrection of the old afternoon newspaper: starting early to package today’s news today—or, more precisely, packaging this morning’s news this morning.

Early teams are part of a broader repositioning of newsrooms for a 24-hour news cycle capable of feeding the web constantly. More than four of every ten (42%) papers surveyed have already added early teams and another 17% are planning to add them. Among larger papers, a remarkable 80% already employ such teams. Although not measured specifically in the survey, anecdotal evidence and interview comments suggest that staffing of these early teams is an important component for those who say their newsroom staff has increased.

Much of the material produced by these early teams is routine—traffic tie-ups or pile-ups, police matters, late night local government meetings or sports results, fires and court appearances. Because of this, early team stories tend to have a short shelf life and are often overtaken by other, more significant news during the day. Occasionally however, they are strong enough to update and rewrite for the following morning’s newspaper.

Working from website traffic data, more newsrooms now target de facto deadlines to make sure fresh content is up for periods when traffic spikes, including 6-7am (as people wake up), 8:30-9am (as they get to work), around 11:30am (before they go to lunch) and around 2pm (when they return from lunch). The editor of one large metropolitan daily spoke of “website edition times.”

MORE| The Future | Conclusion

Copyright, media reform and the web that time forgot

1. IHT’s Alex Wright has a story, The web that time forgot, on Paul Otlet’s 1934 vision of “réseau,” or network – what could have been the precursor of the Internet.

He described how people would use “electric telescopes” to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks.

Otlet wrote a book about the possibility of electronic media storage, called “Monde,” where he laid out his vision of a “mechanical, collective brain” that would house all the world’s information, made readily accessible over a global telecommunications network.

Otlet’s vision began to crystallize in the form of the Mundaneum, a museum filled with millions of 3-by-5 inch index cards that was to become the master bibliography of all the world’s published knowledge.

Sadly, the Belgian government lost interest in the project after losing its bid for the League of Nations HQ, and Otlet was forced to moved it to a smaller space, before it was closed to the public.

MORE.

2. Bill Moyers speech at National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008 is worth the wait on YouTube.

Get the transcribed gist here and ponder this excerpt:

“Why does it matter? What does the media do, anyway? I’ll let an old Cherokee chief answer that. I heard this story a long time ago – of the tribal elder who was telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging inside himself. He said, ‘It is between two wolves, my son. One is an evil wolf: Anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is the good wolf: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The boy thought this over for a minute, and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee replied simply: ‘The one I feed.’

“Democracy is that way: The wolf that wins is the one we feed, and the media provides the fodder.

“Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent while enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.

“Democracy without accountability creates the illusion of popular control while offering ordinary Americans cheap tickets to the balcony, too far away to see that the public stage is just a reality TV set.

“Nothing more characterizes corporate media today – mainstream and partisan – than disdain towards the fragile nature of modern life and indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.”

3. AP is getting flak for issuing take-down notices to Drudge Retort, the liberal alternative site spoofing the popular Drudge Report, for supposedly ripping AP content. Dan Gillmor calls AP’s rate details unintentionally hilarious and has this to add:

“Issuing take-down notices (to Drudge Retort) is obnoxious, plain and simple. Also wrong. Not only won’t this fly, but it’s a remarkable demonstration of how not to play well on the Web. I know some of the AP folks involved, and I have to assume they’ve been told what to do by their bosses, because they aren’t nearly this clueless.”

No doubt, the fire the wire argument gains more credence.

MORE.

Tim Russert dies

One of the best interviewers on TV Tim Russert has passed on.

Sad to see a journalist in his prime go so suddenly.

MORE.

Amy Gahran: Is Journalism a Toxic Culture?

Quoted via Contentious.com or Poynter’s Emedia Tidbits:

“Most of what I do is help journalists and news orgs wrap their brains around the Internet. Generally I enjoy that work. Lately, though, I’ve been getting quite aggravated at the close-minded and helpless attitudes I’m *still* encountering from too many journalists about how the media landscape is changing. Those attitudes are revealed by statements, decisions, actions, and inaction which belie assumptions such as:

*The only journalism that counts is that done by mainstream news orgs, especially in print or broadcast form. Alternative, independent, online, collaborative, community, and other approaches to news are assumed to be inferior or even dangerous.

*Priesthood syndrome: Traditional journalists are the sole source of news that can and should be trusted — which gives them a privileged and sacred role that society is ethically obligated to support.

*Journalists and journalism cannot survive without traditional news orgs, which offer the only reliable, ethical, and credible support for a journalistic career.

*Real journalists *only* do journalism. They don’t dirty their hands or distract themselves with business and business models, learning new tools, building community, finding new approaches to defining and covering news, etc. As Louisville Courier-Journal staffer Mark Schaver said just this morning on Twitter, “[Now] is not a good time [for journalists] if you don’t want your journalism values infected with marketing values.”

*Journalistic status and authority demands aloofness. This leads to myriad problems such as believing you’re smarter than most people in your community; refusing to “compromise” yourself professionally by engaging in frank public conversation with your community; and using objectivity as an excuse to be uncaring, cynical, or disdainful.

*Good journalism doesn’t change much. So if it is changing significantly, it must be dying. Which in turn means the world is in big trouble, and probably deserves what it will get.

There’s a common problem with all these assumptions: They directly cut off options from consideration. This severely limits the ability of journalists and journalism to adapt and thrive…

I realize that right now is a scary time for journalists who crave stability. I have immense sympathy for good, smart people (many of whom have families to support and retirements to plan) who fear the unknown. Many of the news orgs that have sheltered and supported these journalists as they ply their craft are crumbling due to their inability or unwillingness to adapt their business models — leading to layoffs, buyouts, attrition, dwindling resources, overwork, and general demoralization.

I also know — first hand — that the prospect of learning new skills can be daunting. (That’s why, after all these years, I still don’t speak any language but English, and I still don’t know how to write computer code.) Plus, many of us have spent lots of money on j-school and many years in professional journalism honing our writing and reporting skills. We don’t *want* to learn how to think like an entrepreneur, or an information architect, or a community manager! We just want to keep doing what we know how to do; we didn’t sign up for all this extra stuff….

MORE.

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