When we launched Churnalism.com in the U.K. in 2011 it was not, shall we say, well received by some of those in the PR world. "PR industry hits out at Churnalism.com site" read a headline in the U.K. trade paper PR Week. One organization -- SWNS -- even contacted us to object strongly to the press copy based on their OnePoll surveys being highlighted on churnalism.com. We demurred. (You can read about it here.) Ruffling a few feathers was, we thought, a sign we were probably doing something right. The Sunlight Foundation appeared to think the same and got in...more »
Idea Lab is a group blog by innovators who are reinventing community news for the Digital Age.
Each Idea Lab blogger is a winner of the Knight News Challenge grant to reshape community news.Learn more about the Knight News Challenge »
The smell of public activism wafted across this year's Knight Civic Media conference at MIT. Mohammed Nanabhay from Al Jazeera English (AJE) spoke about how Al Jazeera covered the Egyptian revolution. Political consultant Chris Faulkner spoke about Tea Party activism; Yesenia Sanchez, an organizer for the P.A.S.O./Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, talked about the "Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic" campaign; NPR's Andy Carvin spoke about curating and verifying tweets from Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab Spring; and Baratunde Thurston, digital director of The Onion, gave a tremendous riff about his own -- and his mother's --...more »
The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) has just launched rNews, a consistent, machine-readable way of expressing news metadata in RDFa (a linked data language). This post explains some of the differences between rNews and hNews and why, if you publish news on the web, you ought to be using one or the other. In a now infamous incident at Cambridge University back in October 1946, mid-way through a seminar, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is said to have threatened the philosopher Karl Popper with a red-hot poker (the exact circumstances and use of the poker are still disputed, 65 years on)....more »
Editors' Note: Martin Moore is the director of the Media Standards Trust, which recently launched Churnalism.com -- a website that helps the public distinguish journalism from "churnalism," a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added. Two weeks in, and the public response to Churnalism.com has been fantastic. Since we launched the site on February 23, we have had 50,000 unique visitors, over 330,000 page impressions, and hundreds of press releases pasted in and saved. According to Google Analytics the site has been visited by people in 134 countries. People have tracked...more »
It is easy to overestimate the similarities between the U.S. and the U.K. As Oscar Wilde wrote back in 1887, ''We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." But one of the unfortunate recent similarities has been the parallel crisis in local news, especially at newspapers. In both countries existing local news providers have been the hardest hit by the structural changes in news provision and consumption, each having relied so heavily on classified and recruitment advertising. Yet the reactions of the two countries have been very different, particularly in the last couple of years....more »
Far be it for me to question the brilliance of Google, but in the case of its new news meta tagging scheme, I'm struggling to work out why it is brilliant or how it will be successful. First, we should applaud the sentiment. Most of us would agree that it is a Good Thing that we should be able to distinguish between syndicated and non-syndicated content, and that we should be able to link back to original sources. So it is important to recognize that both of these are -- in theory -- important steps forward both from the perspective...more »
The San Francisco Chronicle was founded in 1865. It is the only daily broadsheet newspaper in San Francisco -- and is published online at SFgate.com. In the 1960s Paul Avery was a police reporter at the Chronicle when he started investigating the so-called "Zodiac Killer." Earlier this year Mark Fiore won a Pulitzer Prize for his animated online cartoons for the paper. (It's well worth watching his cartoon that has Snuggly the security bear demonstrating how to make the Internet "wire tap friendly.") I'm focused on the Chronicle these days because it is also one of 577 U.S. news sites...more »
This week Orkney Today announced it was closing. The paper, which served the small islands of Orkney just off the Scottish coast, was -- like countless other local papers -- battling against declining circulation and disappearing ad revenues. "Orkney Media Group management and the newspaper's excellent staff have tried a number of initiatives to reverse the fortunes of the newspaper," the paper reported, "but to no avail." If the news industry as a whole isn't exactly the picture of good health, local news is in the emergency room. News problems at a national level -- falls in circulation, and collapse...more »
Soon every news organization will have its own "bunker" -- a darkened room where a hand-picked group of reporters hole up with a disk/memory stick/laptop of freshly opened data, some stale pizza and lots of coffee. Last year the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph secreted half a dozen reporters in a room for nine days with about 4 million records of politicians' expenses. They were hidden away even from the paper's own employees. Now we learn that reporters from the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel did the same with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks somewhere in the Guardian's offices in...more »
People in news don't generally think of innovation as their job. It's that old CP Snow thing of the two cultures, where innovation sits on the science not the arts side. I had my own experience of this at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference in Washington a couple of months ago. After one of the sessions I spotted an editor whose newspaper had adopted hNews (the Knight-funded news metadata standard we developed with the AP). "How's it going?" I asked him. "Is it helping your online search? Are you using it to mark up your archive?" Before I...more »
What's the future of news? I'm tempted to say "not very much" since no one really knows too much about the future of news right now. You know this is true because senior news folk have given up on the doom and gloom stuff and are starting to talk about "the golden age of journalism" and how it's a "bright dawn" and that sort of thing. This would make sense if there had been any structural change in the economics of news, but there hasn't; so their optimism has the hollow twang of hope over reason. Still, the optimists have...more »
On a news organization's list of priorities, publishing articles as "linked data" probably comes slightly above remembering to turn the computer monitors off in the evening, and slightly below getting a new coffee machine. It shouldn't, and I'll share 10 reasons why. Before I do, I should briefly explain what I mean by "linked data." Linked data is a way of publishing information so that it can easily -- and automatically -- be linked to other, similar data on the web. For example, if I refer to "Paris" in a news article, it's not immediately apparent to search engines whether...more »
Defining principles of journalism is difficult. Rewarding, but difficult. Back in 2005 it took the Los Angeles Times a year of internal discussions to settle on its ethical guidelines for journalists. The Committee for Concerned Journalists took four years, did oodles of research and held 20 public forums, in order to come up with a Statement of Shared Purpose with nine principles (which was subsequently fleshed out in the excellent "The Elements of Journalism" by Kovach and Rosenstiel). Time spent thinking can then translate into a lot of principles. The BBC's editorial guidelines -- which include guidance about more than...more »
There is a moment with which all stand-up comics are familiar. It comes when they release their big punchline, sometimes known as the "drop." For the drop, timing is everything. A successful drop means a joke takes off. An unsuccessful drop leaves it flat on its face. The already-infamous release of climate change emails was a fantastically successful drop. Though the emails themselves date from the late 1990s onwards, their release was perfectly timed to capture the media's attention just before the Copenhagen climate talks -- to achieve maximum impact. And it worked. Why? Not because they undermined the science...more »
We are on the cusp of something exciting. Thousands of news articles marked up with with hNews, a microformat for news content funded by the Knight Foundation, will soon start populating the Internet. Last week, hNews became an official draft microformat. Having been proposed as a new data format and then discussed within the microformats community, it is now in draft 0.1 at Microformats.org. This means it has reached a stage where the microformat community believes it is stable enough for widespread adoption. This also reaffirms hNews as an open standard, free for anyone to integrate to their news content,...more »
Arguments about paywalls around news content are becoming increasingly dogmatic and ideological. As a result, lots of sensible ideas about how to make money from new models of journalism are being obscured. Not least, how to add value to existing content so it becomes more identifiable, more searchable, and helps lead people "back home" (that's where the Hansel and Gretel theory comes in). On one side of the fence you have pro-pay-wallers, led by the Murdochs, for whom pay walls seem to answer the question, "How are we going to solve the economic crisis in news?" They're in the process...more »
While the IPTC worry about labelling data at source, we’re concerned with how to make sure those labels (or at least those ones that are relevant to the public) don’t get lost along the way. Which is why the Transparency Initiative – the MacArthur and Knight funded news project – and IPTC metadata standards, are so complementary.more »
There are a growing number of voices from within the media and politics in the UK who are suggesting the government should subsidise local newspapers. This is not, IMHO, a good idea. The government can set parameters - particularly fiscal parameters (i.e. tax) that incentivise people to collect and publish public interest news. But this is fundamentally different from providing a subsidy, however arm's length, that organisations can apply for.more »
With our Knight News Challenge grant we (the Media Standards Trust and Web Science Research Initiative) are exploring and developing ways in which to help the public find and assess news on the web (for which we have also received a MacArthur Foundation grant). Part of this initiative includes developing tools for making online news more transparent. What does that mean? It means enabling journalists, and people creating journalism, to embed basic information to their online news articles which helps the public establish an article's authorship and provenance (the same methodology applies to photos and video but I'll stick with...more »
I think newspapers, blogs, and magazines should all be doing audio versions. I grew up enjoying and listening to audiobooks and now I don't have the same option for the short form content that I prefer to consume.
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