June 22, 2005

More on the citizen journalism

Like many of us who care about citizen journalism I am also keenly following Dan Gillmor's Bayosphere project.  Pushing trust and seriousness with wiki-type interface it focuses on Bay Area events.  This is a first of it's kind service so it makes sense to take a closer look at their pledge -

  • Fair: I'm always listening to and taking account of other viewpoints;
  • Thorough: I learn as much as I can in the time I have, and point to original sources when possible;
  • Accurate: I get it right, checking my facts, correcting errors promptly and incorporating new information I learn from the community;
  • Open: I explain my biases and conflicts, where appropriate.

Not to sound too cynical here but wondering how different this is from the  mainstream media code of conduct.  Shouldn't citizen journalism include new norms and new expectations. I would expect a more formal way of declaring biases.  Trust is the driving force  for citizen journalism. Without knowing who is behind the voice all the chatter will become just another form of objective spam ! I am sure Bayosphere team will keep evolving this pledge.

Annenberg Foundation  is working constantly to track the developments in this context. Bill Denspore captures all the suggestions made in a recent conference -

-- Create demand for the use of news in schools.
-- Provide "media literacy" training for adults.
-- Study worldwide media systems for ideas.
-- Accept that the current economic model for newspapers has failed.
-- Figure out how to provide non-boring substance.
-- Get corporate media executives involved
-- Better connect scholars with journalism business.
-- Abandon newspaper "core product" in favor of new forms.
-- Compare journalism to other challenged businesses
-- Learn more about readers and audiences
-- Celebrate journalism which works.
-- Regain more public use of telecommunications spectrum.
-- Create an "Associated Press" for ethnic and youth media
-- Become news gatherers, not just creators
-- Consider the "subscriber model" online

Some big changes are happening out there and like any new thing we should work towards new metrics and new processes.  Biases and conflicts are two pillars of journalism - they represent both positives and negatives of the news creation process. We need better tools to track them.

June 22, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Who died and made them Moses

Jarvis on LA Times wikitorials experiment -

The truth is that an editorial is just another blog post written by one person witih one viewpoint. Here's a case where you can't argue that it makes a difference having a journalism degree and a newsroom. Editorialists and columnists get to read the same stuff we do and they put on their pants and opinions just the way we do. So why should they have rights to the mountaintop? Who died and made them Moses? Let the people speak.

Newspapers are struggling to understand new media tools. They need to experiment and resist the temptation to find clear answers.

June 21, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2005

Blogger meet-up

Looks like people had fun at the Kron TV blogger meetup. I got invitation for this and was planning to attend this but  for some reason  I had to bail out. 

It's good to see Kron TV  incorporating what is fast becoming a new  source of local news.  Will keep an eye on this and wish Kron TV crew good luck in their efforts to build a loosely coupled link with the blogosphere.  Hopefully Brian Shields will share this experience on some blog.

June 12, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

Bloggers beware !

World over governments are waking up to the power and disruptive impact of blogging -

China Digital Times quoting NYT:

In its latest measure to tighten policing of the Internet, China has begun requiring bloggers and owners of personal Web sites to register with the government or be forced offline.

Read on the legal mailing list I subscribe to:

Austrian government is coming out with a law to bring down anonymity on several media sites.  Now every website needs to have  an "impressum" - which will provide name and venue of the media site.

Whereas India is planning a  sophisticated way of keeping track of all blogger-journalists:

We are framing the rules for giving accreditation to dotcom journalists

It's hard to trust government bodies and bureaucracy on matters of free expression. Knowing all the evolving/available tools on both sides - hiding your identity (anonymizers, proxy etc)  and finding out the sites geo-location  etc (geo-location services, keyhole etc)  its futile to even attempt all these measures in the first place. Good things in life have their own self-organizing model.

My note to government policy makers, manage violations using modified read on the legal and intellectual property  principles but stay out of the growth curve of this new media.  Don't try to manage it. It's decentralized at it's very foundation.

Update: Darren Barefoot reports  similar controls coming up in Canada.

June 9, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2005

Google News

Joi Ito writing  about Google News:

The derivative conclusion you can come to is that Google News is just amplifying or reinforcing systemic biases in MSM editorial and NOT helping to address these issues

More transparency in  the underlying algorithm will help Google build media trust.

June 5, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2005

Smut control at your fingertips

Bush signs bill which is a big win for ClearPlay. Now the next question is why stop at smut. Now you can block any objectionable content ! Not all objectionable content is smut.

April 29, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

But we will not hire human beings

Thats the message from Google' s new patent application for news ranking algorithm. According to NewScientist:

Google.. plans to build a database that will compare the track record and credibility of all news sources around the world, and adjust the ranking of any search results accordingly.

The database will be built by continually monitoring the number of stories from all news sources, along with average story length, number with bylines, and number of the bureaux cited, along with how long they have been in business. Google's database will also keep track of the number of staff a news source employs, the volume of internet traffic to its website and the number of countries accessing the site.

Google will take all these parameters, weight them according to formulae it is constructing, and distil them down to create a single value. This number will then be used to rank the results of any news searchplans to build a database that will compare the track record and credibility of all news sources around the world, and adjust the ranking of any search results accordingly.

The database will be built by continually monitoring the number of stories from all news sources, along with average story length, number with bylines, and number of the bureaux cited, along with how long they have been in business. Google's database will also keep track of the number of staff a news source employs, the volume of internet traffic to its website and the number of countries accessing the site.

Google will take all these parameters, weight them according to formulae it is constructing, and distil them down to create a single value. This number will then be used to rank the results of any news searchplans to build a database that will compare the track record and credibility of all news sources around the world, and adjust the ranking of any search results accordingly.

The database will be built by continually monitoring the number of stories from all news sources, along with average story length, number with bylines, and number of the bureaux cited, along with how long they have been in business. Google's database will also keep track of the number of staff a news source employs, the volume of internet traffic to its website and the number of countries accessing the site.

Google will take all these parameters, weight them according to formulae it is constructing, and distil them down to create a single value. This number will then be used to rank the results of any news search 

Problem with this approach is that they are trying to automate the intelligence which will drive news filtering process and in that quest allowing machines to decide what's important for the readers.

Knowing their past this algorithm will be kept secret and APIs will be very restricted in what syndicated partners can do with it. I am wondering how many more years till mainstream media wakes up and realizes that Google has taken away their readers and almost on the verge of walking away with the chunk of their ad revenue.

I doubt there is much they can do except opening their newspapers for the end-user driven activism. Have blog and wiki on every newspaper and print best end-user writings on the print media as well. They have to get the readers back and get them back as  players this time. And do it fast.

Update: For those who criticize me for getting "jealous" about Google's success, my pointer to this post from Jeff Jarvis. Jeff definitely knows more about media than me. How about this to get the problem in right perspective:  "Is Google the trojan horse of the internet".

April 29, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 20, 2005

Definition of "foreign"

Somebody go and tell these guys that there is nothing like  "foreign" in the new flat world:

Hundreds of newspaper and news agency employees from across the country today marched to Parliament demanding new Wage Boards and a ban on foreign direct investment in print media.

Instead of spending energy on the street, they should ask their kids how they are getting the news.

Do they know how many "journalists" are working from outside India and making money by remixing the Indian news sites "original" stories. 

April 20, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Death spiral might be irreversible

As somebody said good technology changes the user. My bloglines experience is something like that. It gives you a perfect platform to do a quick opinion comparison. Not just between the two bloggers but also across cultures. In one quick glance you can analyze how media is evolving differently in China, India and here in US.  Reading Jay Rosen's posts where he quotes Philip Meyer :

"If we are to preserve journalism and its social-service functions, maybe we would be wise not to focus too much on traditional media. The death spiral might be irreversible."

Post is worth reading, it tells you where this all important institution of media is headed and how at the fundamental level its getting challenged.  As Jarvis puts it instead of being a one-way pipe its fast becoming an open pool. And it's not just the mainstream media which is under lets-rediscover-our-business-model mode here, everybody who ever did any kind of PR or go-to-market campaign will have to rethink their strategy going forward.  Readership is shifting. Readers are  writers as well - no matter how their grammar and indentation sucks - they are here to stay !

If you compare this fast developing concept of grassroot journalism with what's happening in the emerging nations then you will realize how deep the disconnect is.  Over there the mainstream media was always about keeping the power equation intact - formalizing the status quo at the participant level while debating the change and state of the nation. It provided at some level the Rolodex and at some level necessary plug to promote political and business masters.  Power corrupts and in many emerging countries where the Internet-penetration is lacking it was left to the mainstream media to decide what to push and what to filter.

Thanks to digital revolution all that is changing. What is not changing fast enough is the viability of new business models around grassroot journalism (or blog-journalism or standalone journalism !).  Emerging countries need this new movement to take off.  Hopefully we will see viable models to emerge so that this form of journalism can flourish where its needed most.

March 30, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 13, 2005

What is journalism anyways?

Blog_1

Who is journalist here and the bigger question who is playing media here.

Google - are they just an aggregator ?, doesn't look like. They had this policy of mining only those sites which claim to have editorial staff.  Techwhack is not a news site.

Techwhack - they are what their name suggests. Using wordpress blogging software and presenting news without referring to the source they are masquerading as news site here. Anyways my point is to understand Google's policy here not to pick on Techwhack.

And about Apple, well lets just say its hard to get it both ways. There are many 19 year olds who only  care for the cool stuff and they are learning to understand the bounds of that fanaticism.

March 13, 2005 in Media | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack