Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Power of Mojo – Kelsey Sutor

 

While Austin Powers may have lost his mojo, the world of journalism is gaining it. No, not the sexual prowess the 60’s shagger possesses, but “mobile journalism” – the increasing usage of mobile footage in news bulletins.

Mobile footage is being increasingly used by professional news organisations, because it is “real time”, that is, showing the event as it happens. Everyday people are becoming citizen journalists, whipping out their phones and capturing whatever is happening in front of them.

They then upload their footage to the Internet, which is picked up by news organisations for their websites and often, for their nightly news bulletins.

This recent phenomenon has sparked the term “mobile journalism”, where a cameraman is replaced with an iPhone.

A recent example in Australia is the Sydney riots. Footage of police pepper spraying Muslim protestors mere days ago has now received over 20,000 views on YouTube.

Google “mobile phone footage”, and shaky, blurry and real-time footage shows the body of Muammar Gaddafi, the victims of Denver cinema massacre and drunken violence in Kings Cross – all major news events in the last year.

On ninemsn.com, nearly every news story covered has associated mobile phone footage, the idea being to read the story, then watch the footage.

Most nights, the news bulletins will broadcast amateur video, and then proceed to ask if anyone has footage from the event to send it in to the respective organization.

In the age of the World Wide Web, clear, edited footage, which takes time to create, has been replaced in favour of the “now”, footage in real time – viewers don’t want to wait, they want updates now.

So, what does this mean for the future of journalism? We are already discussing the death of the newspaper in favour for the Internet, so what about the humble cameraman? Will journalists even be needed, or will citizens replace them with a camera in their phone?

Ironically, time will tell. 

The Power of Mo…

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Citizen Police Informants

For the informants of police, protection is a far cry from where it should be. More than ever the issue of police informants and the abuse of justice has come to the forefront in the public’s mind. In May 2007, Rachel Hoffman, a twenty-three-year old Florida woman was killed and her body dumped in a nearby ravine after a botched drug operation. 

It wasn’t the first time this has happened and there is nothing to say this wont happen again. For the many citizens out there we are not all straight walking and talking, sometimes we do things that are illegal or wrong, but it doesn’t mean we should get any less protection and respect then others. For Rachel she was coerced into this agreement to avoid an extended time in prison, but for her, this meant lose of her life. Questions should be raised as to why this happened, how did the police lose her tail, and how can police put an inexperienced person in the line of duty. That is what a police officer is trained for. 

Many officers are said to not feel responsible for the resulting deaths or injury to informants, and for some quite minor crimes, it is so odd that these types of cases are suited for their punishment. A standard of practice needs to be established. A minor drug charge does not equate you to be right for a major drug bust, as does a minor violent crime make you suited for breaking up a gang war. And for these silent deaths, only a few sympathetic thoughts go out to these families. Most officers tend to fall under this guise that if you do the crime then you do the time, and for these dead informants, they were merely doing the time and duty they had to absolve their crimes. Negative. They died doing police work in compromised situations, handling something that would make any new cadet shudder.

For the future of these informants, the next case many be their last, and that cannot be. Tell me otherwise, but I don’t see why how this is appropriate. If you commit an offence and crime you go to jail, house arrest or do community service under supervision. Not the way it is now, putting the lives of family men and women in jeopardy. 

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THE CHANGING FACE OF NEWS

The decision by several major media outlets to place content behind paywalls resulted in widespread public outrage. Online readers were quick to condemn the move, believing the news outlets were simply trying to squeeze revenue out of its audience. But in a changing news ecosystem where the average Joe can break the latest news on Twitter, the journalism industry is under threat.

 

With the advent of citizen journalism, online information has never been easier to find, or publish. In addition, social media offers the ability to constantly update the story without much effort, whereas the traditional news article can become outdated very quickly. If the most up-to-date information is freely available on Twitter, who in their right mind is going to pay for traditional newspaper content that is hidden behind a paywall?

 

In order to remain relevant, journalism needs to further embrace multimedia and the changing ecosystem, combining the live feed capabilities of social media, photos, videos and slideshows with the traditional format.

 

Furthermore, these mediums need to be used by the traditional media to provide a link between the different elements of an ongoing story. At present, the traditional article provides little or no feel for what has happened in the lead up to the current event. This creates a situation in which the market for the current story is limited only to those who have followed the story in its entirety.

 

Contrastingly, citizen journalism and blog sites are blessed with the ability to break the story down, drawing out the components that are most relevant to their audience. The reality is that the mainstream media will never be able to compete in this area, due to the fact that they are required to cater for the general population, resulting in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to the news.

Gone are the days when advertising was sufficient to support a newspaper. A recent survey by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) shows the US industry suffered a $798m loss in print ads for the first half of 2012 compared to last year.

Gains from digital ads did not come close to offsetting this, with a loss to gain ratio of 25 to 1.

All is not lost however it seems. A recent Guardian blog post explains that the NRS has been able to put cyberspace and newsstands together to show net reading figures, one of the first times this has been done. The results show The Guardian and The Observer have a combined reach of 9.5 million, one of the largest reaches in the UK.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has actually been able to record an increase in circulation revenue due to their online paywall and print subscription prices. This accounted for an 8.3 percent circulation revenue increase to $233 million for the paper. On top of this  The New York Times have had a 73 percent gain in net circulation, mostly due to an increase in digital readership.

These figures spurred a recent blog post to go so far as saying The New York Times is now supported by readers, not advertisers. But is this really true? It is one thing to record an increase in circulation revenue, but quite another to be to be able to function primarily off this revenue. The circulation revenue increase to $233 million comes no where near close to the revenue generated by ads in days past, which even last year reached as high as $566.5 million. So how will the newspaper fill in this $333 million gap?

Watch this space.

– Amelia Caddy

Increase in circulation revenue Vs. Loss in ad revenue

Can we rebuild the news article?

New Media group GigaOM recently suggested we need to blow up the news article in order to save it, but can it be done?

In a world of live streaming, twitter feeds and constant updates, the news article has become a superfluous extra. By the time it is written, all the news is out, and its main contribution – the background information – can be better explained by a few regularly updated Wikipedia pages, as the article explains.

The suggestion is to pull apart the news article into its components – what’s new, background, timelines, the people involved – so that readers can find what they need and get out; and news companies are begrudgingly beginning to do this, giving readers a bullet-point summary of the story before launching into the full article.

To some extent, the news article has already been blown up, at least online. Coverage of riots in Sydney by The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald support the article with photos, video, background, related links and pull-quotes, to deepen the article. However the articles are still used as the locus of the piece and still follow a linear and traditional format.

But could the news article ever be extended beyond this point? For all their criticism, these blogs have still written in a traditional format. Journalists are already short for time, and this would take even more time. The big stories are always given more time, and can be broken into more easily digestable components, but the smaller stories, the stories that probably would benefit the most from being segmented and packaged, will remain as traditional, easy to churn out, linear articles.

Perhaps the news article could be abandoned. The ABC showed how it could be done. Their coverage of the riots is presented as a timeline, interspersed with videos and interviews with individuals; details and analysis are given as bullet-points in marked boxes, and the only part resembling a traditional news article is the introductory paragraph to the timeline. Could this model, or similar models, become the new ‘inverted pyramid’ for journalism? Not really. First, it’s a format that doesn’t suit all stories, and second, it requires total dedication to the completion of a package, which wouldn’t be suitable for a short and simple story. Further, the ABC still surrounds the piece with supporting written articles.

But these are techniques and styles that could enhance even the simplest story. News moves quickly, and so people need to consume information just as quickly – to this end, cleaner and compartmentalised packaging would certainly be useful.

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