Category: News Media

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Frak That!

The major reason I won’t continue Flickr a Day for a second year is my new project, which rapidly is evolving; your input could help shape its development—and would be hugely appreciated. I’ll start with some background.

Seven months ago, fellow journalist Randall Kennedy unexpectedly emailed asking if I had any start-up ideas. He lived with his family on an island paradise off the East Coast of Africa, running a school, which had closed. He wondered about returning to journalism, or being a trade analyst—like me, both roles he had filled in the past. What he really wanted to know: Is writing a viable profession in what I call the Google free economy? 

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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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Flack Attack

Yesterday, while catching up on days of RSS-feed news, I stopped grazing and actually read TechCrunch Christmas Eve post “#MisguidedPR: The Industry’s Internal Crisis” by Colin Jordan, who is—what many of my peers would call—a flack. I rarely use the descriptor, deeming it as condescending. But for this post, the term fits.

The commentary’s objective is clear: To encourage his colleagues to abandon past public relations strategies that are obsolete today. Part of the problem he identifies is imbalance: There are way many more flacks than there are journalists (but perhaps not bloggers, I must add). Using U.S. Department of Labor statistics, he finds “5.7 PR professionals for every one journalist”. Because I do my own reporting rather than source someone else, whenever possible (most often), I checked the data. 

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Virtual Reality in a cardboard box?

Today the New York Times spammed my inbox: “We’ve just launched an innovative virtual reality platform that will transform the way you experience stories. As one of our most loyal digital subscribers, you are entitled to a complimentary Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer for an enhanced viewing experience”.

I took advantage of the freebie, thinking that this thing, which literally is a cardboard box, should be an April Fool’s hoax. I kinda heard about it before but ignored. Cardboard boxes are for Amazon packages and cat play after they arrive. High-tech gadgetry, c`mon? What? Is this the newest thing in recyclable tech? 

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credit: Roger H. Goun

Reporting Accuracy Starts with Responsible Sourcing

If you’re a blogger or journalist and read nothing else this week, make it New York Times story “Paris Attacks Give Rise to Fakes and Misinformation“. The Nov. 16, 2015 postmortem shows why, why, why I constantly harp about responsible sourcing. The Internet is not a reliable news source. You must corroborate and should, never, never, never second source anything you can’t confirm independently, or, in the case of breaking events, you can trust reliably.

I’ve been bitching on this blog since posting, in May 2010, “The Difference Between Blogging and Journalism“; September 2011 followup: “Single Sourcing is the Source of News Evil“. Or you can refer to the chapter on sourcing from my ebook Responsible Reporting: A Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers

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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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Responsible Reporting Section 3 ‘What You Must Do’: Chapter VIII

Being so far behind serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers and so close to the end, I break the Sunday rule and sneak in an installment. That makes the next chapter the last before the book releases into the public domain.

What follows is my responsible reporting primer. The list isn’t inclusive, but encapsulates my basic guidance for writing well online during this era of contextual news gathering, 

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Responsible Reporting Section 3 ‘What You Must Do’: Chapter VII

Nearly a month has passed still the last installment of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. I have been overwhelmingly busy with other projects, which is no excuse. My apologies, please. Over the next couple of Sundays, I will serialize the remaining few chapters before releasing the tome into the public domain.

This chapter, like most of the others in Section 3, is vital to your success, which means rising above the endless sea of sameness. You must be original, and produce original content that finds and builds audience. Today’s chapter gives varied examples of news organizations doing just that. 

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Who Mourns for the Fourth Estate? (Part 2)

June 2009, the future of 21st Century journalism moves with protestors across Iran’s capital. In an area somewhat removed from the commotion, philosophy student Neda Salehi reportedly steps from a car and is soon shot by a sniper. A bystander videos her death and uploads it to YouTube. The moment becomes the rallying point for demonstrators in the country and for spectators from around the globe. It is a seminal moment of change for the news media.

The next night, June 21, I write

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Who Mourns for the Fourth Estate? (Part 1)

April 2009, I busily bang out a news analysis for Microsoft Watch, one of two news sites I edit for Ziff Davis Enterprise. My boss sounds alarm that there is some jeopardy to my job. I earn a six-figure salary, which panics investors/creditors that recently increased involvement in editorial operations. He infers that I am the highest-paid writer on staff.

Days later, he informs me that in two weeks, ZDE will lay me off—the first time this has ever happened in my long journalist career. My last day will be April 30. As the end approaches, but I continue to produce content normally, he returns with an offer: Stay on writing news stories for eWeek, take a 36 percent reduction in pay, and agree to a 5-story-per-day quota. I politely decline but privately fume. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 3 ‘What You Must Do’: Chapter VI

After a long hiatus, serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers resumes. This chapter, and the last, are the most important for doing what you’re supposed to report responsibly. Major theme last time: The importance of asking “Who benefits?” about everything. Today’s installment turns around concept “conflict of interest” and points the finger back at you. The traditional view about conflict of interest is misguided, and it is fundamentally outdated for online news reporting—or any other.

As Chapter VI explains, I see objects of conflict as mattering much more than traditional concept of conflict of interest. Stated differently: Human relationships are more influential than financial gain. Worse, there is a fairly recent trend where bloggers or journalists post ethics statements, which I view as worse than useless. So-called transparency justifies continued conflicts rather than separation from them.