Category: Social Media

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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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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 III

The next several chapters of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers are among the most important for reporting responsibly, ethically, and without conflicts of interest. The themes are recurrent on my website, and any regular readers should immediately recognize them.

Today’s installment explains the importance of audience trust, and builds from previous chapters, particularly  I and II from the same section. But to best follow the logical flow, you should start at the beginning: Foreward; Section 1, Chapters I and IIIII and IVV and VI; Section 2, Chapters IIIIIIIV, and V

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When the Crowd Roars

The Internet backlash against dentist Walter Palmer for killing Cecil the lion is one of the best examples of mob journalism ever. The narrative spreading across the InterWebs is some ways well-meaning but in many more is destructive. Meanwhile, the force of collective-will tempts too many journalists to join the mob opinion, when they should stand aside and offer objective and responsible reporting.

Before writing another word, I must praise National Geographic for the best reporting about this event. The magazine offers broader perspective and, more importantly, puts big game hunting into larger context, while taking an objective tone. The raging mob’s perspective is myopic, and news sites supporting it fail the public good.

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter V

Last Sunday, we interrupted our weekly serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers, because of Father’s Day. Another interruption comes July 12, during San Diego Comic-Con. This week’s return completes the last of five journalisms, and the one that more than any other can lead to irresponsible news reporting.

Timing is interesting in context of the landmark Supreme Court ruling just two days ago that opens way for marriage between people of the same gender in all 50 states. There is a force of collective will washing across the Internet that could cause some journalists to bow before social pressure rather thcan offer probing analyses in second-day stories. For example, I see lots of quick criticism of the dissenting judges that doesn’t delve into the Constitutional concerns they raise, nor negative implications for rights-gainers with respect to taxes or other legal constructs. How much does the mob’s mood influence followups? My concern is process, and I express here no opinion about the ruling—just timing and context with respect to today’s mob journalism excerpt. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter IV

Today’s excerpt from Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers spotlights the fourth type of journalism. The other three: Contextual, process, and conversational. Advocacy journalism is the most provocative of the five that the ebook identifies. Many people working in traditional news media outlets would scoff at the idea.

They would be wrong. Advocacy journalism has a long history—centuries old—but the Internet magnifies its reach and the soapbox upon which its proponents stand. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter III

It must be Sunday, because here I write another introduction to a chapter from my ebook  Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. Section 2 introduces five journalisms—contextual and process were presented the previous two weeks. Next up, conversational journalism applies community concepts from local newspapers to the expansive Internet audience, which is actively engaged wherever and on whatever device it may be.

Please also read the other excerpts: Foreward and from Section 1, Chapters, I and II, III and IV, V and VI to grasp the logical flow. Reminder: The book releases into the public domain soon after the serialization completes. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 2 ‘The New Journalisms’: Chapter I

One section down, it’s two to go as we begin the second. The serialization of my ebook  Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers continues ahead of its release into the public domain. So far we have the Foreward and from Section 1, Chapters, I and II, III and IV, V and VI.

The section’s short introduction is explanation enough what to expect. However, let me remind that all information was current when published 14 months ago and largely is unchanged today. Largely isn’t completely. Relevant clarification: Pricing for the New York Times digital editions is accurate but doesn’t reflect a current half-price promotion for 26 weeks. That said, the point—pricing that is an affront to consumer contextual consumption of news—is just as valid. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 1 ‘News in Context’: Chapters I and II

My ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers is divided into three sections. The first, “News in Context”, is a state of the online news industry. The second, “The Five Journalisms”, examines five categories of news gathering most relevant to the age of context. The last, “What You Must Do”, applies concepts from the other two to present guidelines for responsible reporting.

In this second installment, I present two chapters from the first section. Opener “In Just Eight Years” is in part adapted from my June 2009 analysis “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, which is a provocative lens for looking back to look forward at the state of the news industry. 

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Responsible Reporting: Foreward

Today begins the serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers before its release into the public domain. I did similarly with Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth. That book goes into the public domain on May 7, after my exclusive distribution commitment with Amazon ends.

Responsible Reporting was a labor of love. My profession is in a dramatic state of transition. I sought to provide a realistic treatise for the new journalism. New it is, steeped in ethical quagmire. I hoped to provide reasonable guidelines that accept how things are, rather than cling to how things were. 

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Comic-Con Heroes: The Volunteer

Three more profiles, and the conclusion, remain before I release my ebook Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make The Greatest Show On Earth into the public domain, on July 8, 2015, after my current commitment with Amazon KDP Select ends. To recap: The tome features 12 attendees from the 2013 San Diego convention. This year marks my seventh, but I am a paying participant; for reasons I don’t understand, my press credentials weren’t recertified.

So far we have met, in order of appearance: The Dark Knight, The Fighter, The Collectors, The AcademicThe Nerd Culturist, The Writer,The Bicyclists, The Heroine, and The Time Lord. They represent a surprising cross-section of Comic-Con attendees, ranging from a toy anthropologist to a hopeful future storyteller. They’re all worth your attention. Place look back.