Tag: news reporting

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Caught in a Villainous Lair

Part of the reason, yesterday, I walked down Adams Ave. to Pet Me Please (for cat food) was to swing by Villainous Lair, which is a cool comics shop that also hosts gamers. Last week, I read a San Diego Reader news story by Mike Madriaga about the store closing on January 31.

Employees confirmed closure and the date, although much stock remained to be sold—50-percent-off list price this week. Role-playing game activities, along rows of tables and chairs in the back room, will continue as usual until the last day. Tonight, as part of a kind of send-off party, there also will be live Rocky Horror Picture Show in the store. I shot the Featured Image, of the shop, when leaving, using Leica Q. Vitals, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec; 28mm; 1:59 p.m. PST.  

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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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Where News Reporting Bias Replaces Fact-Gathering

The inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States continues the fine tradition [sarcasm] that became commonplace news reporting following his election victory: Advocacy over accuracy. In my book Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers—and on this website—I explain there is a legitimate role for advocacy journalism (full book chapter). But over the past couple of months—with adverse and antagonistic Trump reporting exploding across the new, news, and social media landscape—misinformation and mischaracterization became normal and accepted. The trend is dangerous, as bias replaces fact-gathering. The precedents are dangerous for all news reporting, not just about Trump.

Yesterday’s blog posts, social media shares, and even some mainstream news media reports about the Whitehouse.gov website are examples—and they also are metaphors for the twisting of facts to (presumably) reflect the writers’ personal biases. What should be legitimate reporting of events are instead editorial comments—no, character assassinations—by news gatherers with clear anti-Trump agendas. Every news blogger or reporter who opposes Trump (and/or his administration’s real or presumed policies) should add a disclaimer stating this bias. 

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Facebook, Mainstream Media, Confirmation Bias, and the Trump Trauma

Lots of Americans, like those out here in liberal-leaning, Hillary Clinton-supporting California, are suffering what I call the “Trump Trauma”. They were sure she would win, easily, and are shocked at the unexpected outcome. It’s all disbelief, like someone suddenly died without warning. They were unprepared and now mourn the death of the Clinton candidacy. How could this come to be?

During our pre-election Frak That! podcast, on Nov. 7, 2016, cohost Randall Kennedy and I discussed the social media election. He expressed surprise at the “speed with which information travels”. I interrupted: “The speed with which disinformation travels now”, later describing social media interaction as something like “Borg sentience”, in context of phenomenon “confirmation bias“. The group mind—perpetuated by Facebook, news media reports, and political polls over-weighted to fit the narrative booming from the Echo Chamber—led many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to misguided expectations about whom would be President-elect.

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Six Films Every Journalist Should See

Yesterday afternoon, I started watching movie “Spotlight”, which later won Best Picure during the 88th Academy Awards. Following the Oscars, I finished the film, which warrants inclusion in my list of movies that every news gatherer should watch. If there are others worthy, please prompt me. I previously posted, on Dec. 30, 2014: “You Could Study Journalism, or Learn as Much Watching These Five Films“.

All six movies offer valuable lessons about responsible news reporting and ethical boundaries that matter in the real world—beyond the ideals that J Schools teach, regardless the kind of journalism you practice.  My ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers identifies five types (and really should count seven): Advocacy, contextual. conversational, mob, and process

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Milking the Aggregation Economy

The scoop is as old as truthsayers’ ability to freely speak without getting their heads lopped off. Invention of the printing press created the free press, if for no other reason than anonymity for rebelrousers, who in future generations would be called journalists. If you believe the folklore that the news media seeks the truth, just ask anyone about whom it is revealed: “They’re troublemakers. Tell the executioner to get his axe”. That’s me and my kind—headless in another era.

Few months back, occasional emails from the Financial Times started hitting the old inbox with a thud. Each and every one is similar scheme: Highlighting some scoop in the tech sector from the newspaper. What’s the 1970’s song lyric. “Bang a gong, get it on” (Eh,you do know what that means, right—and, sigh, getting older, I haven’t done that for a while.) FT PR bangs about a scoop, which I can only presume is to get attention for it from other news gatherers. 

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Journalism Matters

Over on Google+ today, Alex Hernandez reminisces on 2015’s closing by looking at content from years past. Among them: Dan Lyon’s February 2012 missive “Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool“. Hey, I vaguely remember that indictment of Silicon Valley journalism. Alex, who runs tech-news site Techaeris writes in response to the nearly four-year old story:  “I’m working really hard to not be a ‘Valley Press’ site—as Scott Wilson rants about often—and after reading this and a few other articles today, I may be reforming the way we approach things.

Jack Weisz mentions me in a comment, to which I responded and to another from Alex. While both responses reiterate principles posted to this site many times before, end-of-year reflection is good time to present them again. 

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Hey, Washington Post (and Other Investigators), How About Comparing Candidate Spending Habits?

Let me preface: this is not a political endorsement for Donald Trump or anyone else. But the comedy and drama of this early campaign cycle sure is interesting. Among yesterday’s dramedy stories catching my attention: Washington Post on Mr. Trump telling super PACs to return contributions gathered in his name.

The presidential hopeful finances the campaign from his wealth and smaller donations from individual contributors. I got to wondering: Wouldn’t a candidate largely using his own money spend differently from someone getting to what amounts to free cash? There’s a stereotype that people spend their own (say, savings) more prudentially than what comes easily and freely (like credit). Is there a difference this early on among the would-be nominees in how or where they spend on the respective campaigns? 

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Discussing Chromebook’s Success

One of the problems with bad news reporting: Those of us who strive to be responsible and accurate are lumped in with the lumps of coal, and the black powder rubs off on us. Illustrative: The excellent exchange I had over at BetaNews to the version of my Dell Chromebook 13 story posted there.

Commenter Joe HTH bristled about bloggers overstating NPD data and making Chromebook’s success much larger than it really is. I agree that this occurred about 18 months ago. But he levels his accusations at my reporting , which I assert correctly stats and interprets newer data that the analyst firm released just a few days ago. What follows is his comment and my response, in red and blue rather than block-quoted. I put story titles to my links, which are presented differently in the commenting system. 

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Is It Perspective or Deception?

Yesterday, I started a discussion with a BetaNews commenter identified only as John. He responded to a story I posted here as “Apple Music Takes from Artists to Give to Subscribers“, which at BN followed another appearing on my site as “Apple Music Will Surely Succeed“. The cross-posting with different headline and art keeps with my December 2014 advice: “Writers, Own Your Content!” Comments funnel to BN, which is good for audience building there.

The commenter first accuses me of being a troll and then, based on my response, of being deceitful because of my writing style. You be the judge. I see the exchange as being hugely relevant to what should be good online journalism, and it may reflect two different and (hopefully) valid perspectives—reporter’s and reader’s—about what that should be.