Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Clay Shirky On The New Media Environment

I’m getting a little bit Tumblr-esque here with a short post – I’m going to let the video do the talking for me.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the media landscape – how owned, earned and paid media fit together, and how organizations can best use them to communicate with their audiences.

Yesterday Mitch Joel posted a video of Clay Shirky speaking at the TED@State event in Washington, DC last June. Shirky does a great job of explaining several things:

  • Why the shiny new objects aren’t the important ones for organizations
  • Why the Internet is bringing all of the different forms of media together
  • How social media is fundamentally changing our communications landscape

The video lasts 15 minutes, but it’s worth it as Shirky explains why the current shift in media is the biggest in human history.

Charlie Brooker Shows Us How To Report The News

A little light viewing for you. You may have already seen this – if so, watch it again. Otherwise, take two minutes to watch it. It’s worth it.

Live-Blogging Breaking News – A Good Idea?

Shooting suspect in Toronto subway shootingYesterday morning, at roughly 10:45am, a gunman opened fire in a subway station in downtown Toronto.

That incident alone was guaranteed to generate news interest; however one newspaper’s coverage caught my interest.

The Globe and Mail newspaper used Cover It Live (which I’ve used in the past) to live-blog its coverage following the shooting, complete with (moderated) user comments. I’ve embedded the coverage below.

This is a short post, as I want to hear your feedback.

My take: this is a great experiment. I tuned-in after a couple of hours, but found it very helpful to see real-time updates as developments broke and more information came to life.

One important point to remember: this coverage is after the fact; note that when this started they’d already updated their breaking news story. In my view, this is simply a different medium for reporting the news, albeit a very modern one.

So, what do you think about this experiment? Take a look at the coverage below.

What’s your take on the way the Globe covered the shooting? Is this kind of reporting effective? What would improve it? Is it, as one person suggested, a privacy issue in your eyes? Does this means of reporting news work for you?


(Thanks to Mathew Ingram for helping me to embed the coverage)

Update: CTV employee and former staffer Bill Doskoch gives his take here, and Mathew Ingram has also given his thoughts on live-blogging news.

Are Media Channels Diverging Or Converging?

Are media channels fragmenting? While looking over the new Vancouver Sun website recently (congratulations again on the redesign to Kirk Lapointe and his team), a blog post by Pamela Fayerman on the Sun’s Medicine Matters blog caught my eye.

Fayerman’s post, entitled Health and medical blogs; what interests you?, offers a couple of interesting thoughts on the changing nature of journalism:

We know that print stories are just a stop along the information highway for readers, not their final destination. Tom Rosenstiel, an author and director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, says reporters are like hunters/gatherers of information. Our role, on the digital side, is to do the aggregation work so that readers can use links where they can go to learn more.

Meanwhile, on my way home from work yesterday, I listened to the latest Media Bullseye Radio podcast with Ike Pigott. The panel featured a lively discussion about the role, nature and future of mainstream media and how it will influence social media (and vice versa) as different media channels converge.

There’s an interesting trend in these two pieces – they both talk about the different media coming together:

  • Fayerman’s piece mentions media as aggregators (a role frequently played by bloggers)
  • The Custom Scoop team talked about convergence between the different forms of media.

Over the last couple of years I’ve observed lots of discussions about the way that conversations are fragmenting. I’ve bemoaned this trend with social media tools as they take up ever-increasing amounts of time just to stay involved with the diverse channels.

I found it interesting that on one day I came across two mentions, on both sides of the old/new media divide, that mentioned a similar trend.

What do you think? Are channels fragmenting or converging?

Update: Ike offered a useful summary of his key points around convergence in the comments:

  • “Print, radio and television news outlets aren’t really all that different when you look at their web components.
  • The fear among all forms of media about “scooping yourself on your own website” is gone. Getting news on your site first does indeed count as “getting it on the record.”
  • The typical silos that media relations people used to consider are gone. If you’ve got some relevant b-roll for your event or news release, you stand a better chance of getting it on the newspaper’s website than you do of the TV stations pulling from it.
  • Eventually, those outlets that are still competitive now will continue with web as the primary means of distribution, but with legacy branding from when they were primarily pulp or broadcast.”

Why Christie Blatchford Won’t Blog

Christie Blatchford wrote an excellent piece in Thursday’s Globe and Mail entitled, “I’m not blogging this, mark my words.”

Her article is basically a rant about the challenges of blogging in Beijing, of the challenges of journalists blogging and of the effects that new media tools like blogs and podcasts are having on journalistic quality. I won’t recite it all for you here, but here are a few of Blatchford’s more notable points:

On journalistic quality:

This is the democratization wrought by the Web, and if it has actually helped open up closed societies such as China’s, in the West its chief effect, at least upon journalism, is to diminish whatever craft, and there is some, is left in the business.

On conversations online:

On The Globe website, our slogan is “Join the Conversation,” but in the blogosphere, what follows isn’t usually a conversation but a brief, ungrammatical shouting match. You can have more pensive chats in a bar fight.

On writing:

It is not true that anyone can write. It is not true that anyone can write on deadline. It is not true that anyone can do an interview. It is not true that anyone can edit themselves and sort wheat from chaff. It is not true that even great productive writers like The Globe’s Jim Christie or Ms. DiManno or Mr. Farber can hit a home run every time they sit before the laptop. But the odds of them doing it are greatly increased if they haven’t already filed 1,200 words to the Web, shot a video, done a podcast and blogged ferociously all day long.

I don’t agree with all of Blatchford’s points about blogging, but I think she does hit a few home runs with this piece.

Journalists are being asked to do more and more with their time. I don’t think, as she quotes Michael Farber saying, that we only have a finite number of words in us, but if you have to get more and more words out every day the quality is surely going to down.

The blogosphere does sometimes degenerate into a shouting match. Of course, you will encounter idiots and immaturity wherever you go but it’s more visible online. I think the key there is a good commenting policy and smart moderation. Unfortunately, I think the law of averages plays a part – as a site gets more popular, a certain percentage of readers will engage in mindless shouting.

Writing is an art. Not everyone can do it well. One of my old bosses was fond of saying that you can’t teach everyone to write well; it takes a certain level of talent to do it. That means that some sites will be poorly written, and that readers have to learn to be discerning in what they read. That also means taking some responsibility for what you choose to consume.

What do you think of Blatchford’s article?

Twitter Becoming A Source, Not Just News

Twitter logo Is Twitter moving beyond being a news story and towards becoming a credible source for them?

Not too long ago I got excited whenever I saw Twitter mentioned as the subject of a news article. Recently, though, I’ve noticed an increasing number of mainstream news articles using Twitter as a source rather than a subject.

The idea of Twitter as a source for journalists is nothing new. Twitter users memorably beat the mainstream media to the punch during the June 2008 earthquake in Chengdu, and there was widespread coverage of Twitter’s role in getting a Berkeley student out of an Egyptian jail. However, it’s only recently that I’ve started to see the service mentioned as a source rather than a news story in itself.

The latest was a piece by Geoffrey York in today’s Globe and Mail about Chinese athlete Liu Xiang’s unexpected withdrawl from the 110-metre hurdles in Beijing. York writes:

“One fan at the Bird’s Nest stadium, Celia Chen, said the thousands of Chinese spectators seemed “shockingly angry” when they poured out of the stadium after their hero’s withdrawal. “This country really doesn’t know how to lose,” she told others on the Twitter social-networking service.

Twitter is far from being a household name. However, with recent Twitter-focused articles in Business Week, USA Today and LA Times and mentions like this cropping up with increasing frequency, that time may soon come.

Citizen Journalists Break Toronto Explosion Story

I got home from my run today to see a Twitter message from Jeremiah Owyang about an explosion and subsequent large-scale evacuation in Toronto’s north end.

Yes, through the wonderful power of the web, the news traveled down to San Francisco and back up to me. A tremendous demonstration of the power of online communications, and of Twitter in general. However, it’s an equally powerful demonstration of the ability of citizen journalists to break news.

Rannie Turingan, aka photojunkie, captured the scene in both video and photo after the first explosion woke him at around 4am.

One of his photos made it on to the LA Times blog today. Owyang says Rannie had his coverage up before the press coverage started.

Skip to around 1:50 into this next video to see a spectacular explosion…

…and a close-up (language not safe for work):

The Toronto Star, National Post (which pretty much compiled this post completely through citizen journalists), Dose and other publications are all linking to amateur coverage of this event.

You can check out other photos on Flickr and other videos on Youtube.

(Photo credit:

Newspapers: A Growth Business?

Newspaper I just stumbled across an news release from last month entitled World Press Trends: Newspapers Are A Growth Business. With a headline like that, you bet I read it!

According to the World Association of Newspapers, newspaper circulations world-wide rose 2.57% in 2007 and 9.39% over the last five years. The source of this data, the association’s annual survey of World Press Trends, was released this June.

This stands in stark contrast to the state of the press in North America, where leading publications like the Toronto Star and the New York Times have resorted to significant layoffs in recent months. As a sign of where the association’s bias lies, the release tries to position that positively too:

“”And even in places where paid-for circulation is declining, notably the United States and some countries in western Europe, newspapers continue to extend their reach through a wide variety of free and niche publications and through their rapidly developing multi-media platforms,” he [Timothy Balding, Chief Executive Officer of the World Association of Newspapers] said.”

Some other interesting nuggets from the lengthy release, which provide a useful reminder that the newspaper industry is much bigger than the US and Canada:

  • Daily newspaper circulations were stable or up in 80% of the countries surveyed in 2007
  • 74 of the world’s 100 best selling dailies are published in Asia
  • The largest markets for paid dailies are China (107 million copies), India (99 million copies) and Japan (68 million copies). US circulation is about 51 million copies – 17 million lower than Japan

The release does acknowledge some of the problems the industry is facing, however:

  • Paid daily circulation in the EU dropped 2.37% in 2007. However, if you factor in the free dailies, circulation rose 2%
  • Most of the US decline came at the expense of evening papers, with a 10.08% drop compared to 2006 and a 25% drop over the last five years.

Of course, the World Association of Newspapers is far from unbiased. Among the association’s activities, it “represents the newspaper industry in all international discussions on media issues, to defend both press freedom and the professional and business interests of the press.”

I take these findings with a sizeable pinch of salt. Still, this remains an interesting reminder that even with the frequent reports of the decline of the traditional media in the western world, it isn’t the case everywhere.

(Image credit: somadjinn)

Don’t Believe Everything You See

File this in the “oh, not again” file…

Multiple newspapers including The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times and published a photograph of Iran’s recent missile test today.

The photograph shows four missiles moments after their launch. The problem? It appears only three missiles were launched.

Below are two photos, taken from roughly the same spot at pretty much the same time. The one on the right was published by numerous outlets – the one on the left emerged later.


As the New York Times Blog notes:

“[…] the second missile from the right appears to be the sum of two other missiles in the image. The contours of the billowing smoke match perfectly near the ground, as well in the immediate wake of the missile.”

Since then, several sites including the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC have published retractions about the photo.

This isn’t the first time news organizations have fallen for altered photographs – in 2006 Reuters apologized after publishing images of war-torn Lebanon that proved to have been edited, and in 2007 the LA Times published allegedly altered photos of US-manufactured weapons found in Iran.

Who says it’s only bloggers that get things wrong?

(Photo credits: AFP/Getty Images (L) and Iranian Revolutionary Guards(R))

Globe And Mail Ends ‘Insider’ Subscriptions – All Articles Now Free

The Globe and Mail newspaper, a rare hold-out in the age of free online content, removed the shackles from its website last week. As of May 31 all of the Globe’s columnists, horoscopes, puzzles and more were available for free.

Honestly, I’m surprised it’s taken them this long. Their competitors – the Toronto Star being a notable example, the New York Times being another – long ago moved to this model.

I know I’m a little slow getting to this, but didn’t want to let it pass unnoticed.

Interestingly, the paper has resisted moving away from online subscriptions altogether. It has launched a new paid product called Globe Plus, which gives access to three features:

  • e-Edition- an electronic version of the daily print edition of The Globe and Mail
  • GlobeinvestorGOLD‘s investor tools
  • Access to 100 articles per month from The Globe and Mail’s archive dating back to January 1, 2000.

It remains to be seen whether this new subscription model is successful. Nonetheless, I applaud this shift to free content from a paper that was a pioneer in implementing new media through its website.

My next ‘wish': A Digg-like system for comments like the one the CBC has implemented.