Tag: journalism

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Mom’s Memorial Got Me to Thinking…

In June 2009 missive “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, I explained how then-recent contextual cloud services used with cell phones had begun, in just three years, to dramatically empower anyone and everyone to self-broadcast/report in ways that not long earlier was the monopoly of media professionals. I have repeatedly revisited this concept since, particularly as more tools became available, mobile broadband expanded reach while becoming less costly, and consumer behavior adapted to the opportunities presented. Most recently, in April 2017: “Praise Be Citizen Journalists“.

Today, the memorial service for my mom, who died August 5th, took place in Burlington, Vt. The church broadcast the farewell live online, via Ustream, which was founded in 2007. But had the family chosen to instead hold a more intimate gathering, anyone with a smartphone could have shared the send-off via a number of services, such as Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube, or, yes, Ustream, among others. FB opened to the public in September 2006; Live, to everyone, in April 2016. Periscope: March 2015. YouTube is the grandpa service, officially opening in November 2005 but live streaming for the masses debuted only about four months ago.

The power is in your pocket to broadcast to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Just ask all those crazy Instagrammers and SnapChatters. They know.

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Responsible Reporting Takes Time

I rarely go to Facebook, but my niece was in San Diego County for a few days, and checking up on her travels was a must. During the brief FB foray, a Newsfeed post nipped my attention. Erica Toelle asks: “Bloggers, how long does it take you to write a 1,000 word, well researched and well-written article? I realize ‘it depends’ but it’s usually longer than 4hrs, right? I’m working with under-documented technology and usually have to try it to understand how it works”.

The question is hugely relevant at a time when speed too often trumps accuracy—or accountability—and many writers must meet (often ridiculous) daily quotas. Then there is the controversy about so-called fake news.

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Praise Be Citizen Journalists

On this Easter, like others, I think about resurrection—but this day, strangely, how it should apply to the news media. Three years ago, I wrote largely-overlooked ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The concept germinated from my June 2009 essay “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, following protests in the country that citizens documented on social media/self-publishing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which at the time were little more than three years old (with respect to availability to the public). I predicted that these nascent services would disrupt editorial monopolies on news and other information, which has occurred in varying degrees during the nearly eight years since.

By March 2010, a troubling trend lead me to write what would become the other genesis for the book: “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. Too many news gatherers single-source blog and socially-shared posts, without independently confirming their accuracy. As I have told my reporters over the years, when working as an editor: Write only what you know to be true. If you haven’t communicated directly with the source, then you don’t know what’s true. But I am more disturbed by social media activity that mainstream media presents as news, such as stories that turn trending topics, or simply single tweets, into clickable headlines. Often they’re unconfirmed filler for driving pageviews. 

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You’ve Been Misled About Fake News

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a journalist. This past week’s coordinated attacks on so-called fake news sites—largely orchestrated by the mainstream media and supported by Internet gatekeepers like Google and social media consorts such as Facebook or Twitter—is nothing less than an assault on free speech by organizations that should protect it.

They blame so-called fake news sites for influencing the 2016 Presidential election in favor of real-estate mogul Donald Trump and seek to extinguish them. But the Fourth Estate really responds to a perceived threat that looks to upend the mainstream media status quo. More appalling is the rampant advocacy journalism wrapped in cloak of objectivity from news orgs like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Meaning: Anti-Trump editorial policy and reporting slants are as biased as the labeled fakers. Worst of all: Many, if not most, media outlets fail to acknowledge, if even see, how they failed the American public during the campaign. Their accusations should point inwardly, not outwardly to other information disseminators.

So there is no misunderstanding: I am not a rabid Trump supporter, but a journalist who separates personal sentiments from my ethical responsibilities. More of my peers should do likewise.

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I’m Mad as Hell About Reprehensible News Sourcing

Maybe I should move forward with plans to launch site “Journalism? What the Fuck?” BGR’s irresponsible reporting (again) is so disgusting I could scream. Actually, I did. Today’s miscarriage of reporting could be a case study supporting the key takeaways from my March 2010 primer “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“. If you report news in any form, you should also read “Report! Don’t Repeat Rumors!“, posted 5 months ago.

BGR post “Report warns Apple might be facing a huge iPhone 6 Plus recall” is more than irresponsible, it’s reprehensible. Blogger Chris Smith sources a Business Korea story that makes the recall assertion, which should be corroborated. He offers no additional, or original, reporting, while using a source that makes claims based on absolutely nothing. 

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Finally, Some Competent Tech Reporting

Yesterday, I griped about how effectively Apple PR sets the Fourth and Fifth Estates speculating and rumormongering. What coincidence! Today, 9to5Mac published Mark Gurman’s gripping inside look into Apple’s PR strategy. The story, “Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple’s Mastery of the Media“, is fine example of the kind of news reporting too often missing on the web today. His multi-section report is well-organized, believably-sourced (even where anonymously), and accurate—to which I can attest based on my experience dealing with Apple as a journalist. He also validates many of my ongoing complaints about how bloggers and journalists report about the company.

I am thoroughly impressed by Matt’s report, not because I agree but know it to be true. I have interacted with all the principal PR people that he identifies. He writes about my experience, and that of other long-time tech journalists. More importantly, I like his tone, which even when recounting something many readers will take as negative about PR, is flat. His story is balanced, well-sourced, and believable. 

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Take Back the Facts

Wow, All Things D’s Kara Swisher sure has some advice for Jeff Bezos as he takes ownership of the Washington Post.

I think her real point is this:

To me, the most important trick is to deeply inculcate the joy of Internet journalism, without losing (actually restoring to some degree, after recent cutbacks) the great editorial values and breakthrough journalism of the Post. Fusing the old-media storytelling and news-integrity values that I learned at the Post with the Internet values of speed and personality—and, well, some level of fun at the right times—is critical.

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The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism

For the most part, blogging is not journalism. That’s my response to the longstanding debate about whether bloggers are journalists. Bloggers who don’t apply good standards of journalism shouldn’t be offered the same privileges as journalists. Similarly, journalists who fail to apply the same good standards should be stripped of privileges and prestige.