Monthly Archives: March 2007

The five principles of citizen journalism

Dan Gillmor‘s Center for Citizen Media has just outlined the five Principles of Citizen Journalism. It’s an attempt, as it says, to “detail the bedrock foundations of journalism to help citizen reporters grasp the fundamentals of the craft in a networked age.”

The principles are: Accuracy, Thoroughness, Fairness, Transparency and Independence.

“We’re not saying that bloggers must follow these guidelines. We are saying that if you’re committed to practicing journalism online, these principles deserve your attention.”

Read the full text here: Principles of Citizen Journalism

And the biggest drunk in journalism is…

Like it or lump it, the most hilarious stories in journalism with a capital J are built around alcohol. Pete Hamill, the legendary New York columnist, in fact called his memoirs A Drinking Life with remarkable candour.

“The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promises of friendship and love.”

Maybe there is a bit of dangerous romanticisation there but the reading public generally assumes that all journos are alcoholics, and we do little to wipe off that impression.

Just why journos drink so much—many of them on the job, in the parking lot, in the loo—we know not. Nirad Mudur says it’s probably because we keep long hours and can’t have the social life other human beings are entitled to.

Maybe. At The Sunday Observer in Bombay long years ago, Rahul Goswami had a little placard on his dashboard: “Reality is an illusion caused by alcohol deficiency.”

And in any newspaper office, in any press club, in any city, in any country, all the best rib-tickling tales are of the drunk. There is, for instance, the classic maybe apocryphal case of Gunda Bhat, the Samyukta Karnataka reporter who was sent to cover the Bangalore karaga procession.

Come deadline and neither Mr Bhat nor his copy were to be seen. A desperate desk manages to whip up some copy using other “sources”. Mr Bhat saunters in the next morning and hands in the copy. What happened?

“The procession just passed by, that’s why,” he says, matter-of-factly. And he wasn’t wrong.

Mr Bhat, a crime reporter much loved by Bangalore’s cops, had met a policeman on duty moments after taking up his position. One thing leads to another, and the two go for a drink. Result: Mr Bhat only manages to catch the procession on its way back the next morning!

As if in salute to the drunks of the media world, Gawker is trying to spot New York’s drunkest journalists to award the “Steve Dunleavy Liver Memorial Award For Drinking In The Line Of Duty.” The honour is named after a hard-drinking Australian tabloid journalist and a legendary boozer.

Talking of Australians, here’s a fine YouTube video of a drunk Aussie journalist on an awards night.

Also read: Who were Fleet Street’s legendary drunks?

Forget newspapers, what about letter-writing?

G.N. MOHAN forwards an advertisement for Australia Post, reproduced courtesy http://kuteev.livejournal.com that harks back to a not-so-long-ago past and exhorts people to put pen to paper rather than mouse to pad.

Owners, publishers, editors, journalists everywhere are wondering how long newspapers will survive in the digital age. But is letter writing as an art form any far behind? Or, like newspaper-reading, will it eventually become the hobby of a privileged few? A few privileged to have the time, the patience, and the drive, desire and dedication to walk up to the post office.

What employers (should) look for in fresh recruits

This is the time of the year when journalism students start packing up, start interning, start applying for jobs, and start praying. In the days and weeks to come, they will meet an unknown, unfathomable monster called “HR”. What do employers look for from fresh recruits?

A neat CV, nice references, good clippings will help, of course. Paul Conley says he looks for these three traits. (Indian media HR is not so nuanced or advanced, but any student journalist who has these should be surprised if she doesn’t get a leg up the media ladder quickly.)

1) Youth itself: Young people who send messages via PDA, have a Facebook account, MySpace page, and have blogs about local bands, and know how to use deli.cio.us bookmarks.

2) Self-taught expertise: “I’m thrilled by someone who taught himself Dreamweaver, whereas I’m not so impressed by someone who took a course in PhotoShop.”

3) Entrepreneurial spirit: Someone who hired me was surprised… “I had helped publish a fanzine about music in New York, and had been paid $15 a week while a student to type up sport scores from my school and walk them over to a local paper.”

Also see: More employers want to find you on the web

85% newspaper editors hopeful of the future

The vast majority of newspaper editors world-wide are optimistic about the future of their newspapers, according to a new global survey released today that provides an insider’s view to newsroom attitudes and strategies.

The “Newsroom Barometer,” conducted by Zogby International for the Paris-based World Editors Forum and Reuters, found that 85 per cent of editors are very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspapers.

The survey found that:

# 40 per cent of editors believe on-line will be the most common way to read the news ten years from now;

# 35 per cent believe print will reign supreme;

# two-thirds believe opinion and analysis pages will grow in importance;

# half are convinced that the quality of journalism will improve;

# half believe that shareholders and advertisers present threats to editorial independence.

The survey of 435 editors-in-chief, deputy editors and other senior news executives from around the world, and of whom half are from Europe, provides a picture of an industry in transition, but one that is rapidly adapting to the new media environment.

“Eighty-five per cent of senior news executives see a rosy future for their newspaper, and it’s quite a surprise,” said Bertrand Pecquerie, Director of the World Editors Forum (WEF), the organisation of the World Association of
Newspapers that represents senior newsroom personnel.

“Editors recognize competition from online sources and free papers, and in turn are making efforts to adapt to 21st century readership,” he said. “They know how to effectively make the transition to online journalism without reducing editorial quality. Editors-in-chief realise that content matters more than ever and cutting newsroom resources is not at all an effective solution: the reshaping of news will take place with journalists, rather than at their expense.”

Monique Villa, Managing Director of Reuters Media, said: “The Newsroom Barometer survey reveals an industry ready and willing to face dramatic change. Training journalists in new media skills has emerged as the most
popular method for senior editors to increase editorial quality in their newsrooms, and 51 per cent believe that the general quality of journalism will improve over the next decade.”

This optimism builds on deep changes in the way news is consumed. Many editors view news as a ‘conversation’ with readers rather than a ‘lecture’ from journalists, and the perceived increase in the importance of analysis and opinion pages shows newspaper editors realize that they must change their content offering in order to survive and prosper,” Villa added.

The results of the Newsroom Barometer survey, released at a news conference at Reuters headquarters in London today, are contained in Trends in Newsrooms 2007, the annual WEF report on the latest editorial developments
from around the world.

The Newsroom Barometer, a partnership among WEF, Zogby and Reuters, will be conducted annually to assess changes in attitudes and strategies in newsrooms around
the world.

The survey found:

# An overwhelming number of respondents—85 percent—say they are very optimistic or somewhat optimistic about the future of their newspaper. Even among newspapers whose circulation decreased over the past five years, 80 per cent of respondents remain optimistic.

# Forty per cent of editors and news executives believe online will be the most common platform for news ten years into the future, while 35 per cent believe in print’s supremacy. One in ten say mobile devices will be the most common platform, while 7 per cent cite e-paper. And two out of 10 respondents say it will be technologies that are still in the emerging stage.

# Half the respondents believe that journalistic quality will improve over the next 10 years, versus one-quarter who think it will worsen.

# Eight in ten respondents view online and new media as a welcome addition.

Those with high volume web traffic—more than 200,000 unique visitors per day—are more likely to view new media positively, but the majority of editors at newspapers with modest traffic or no web sites also viewed new media positively.

# Three in ten respondents view free newspapers as a threat to the market, while the majority take a more benign view—34 per cent view them as a welcome addition, and 28 percent consider them negligible. Smaller newspapers are more likely to see free papers as a threat than larger newspapers, perhaps because larger newspapers have the resources to fight off free paper competition, as well as produce their own free papers.

#Respondents are almost evenly split over whether they think that the majority of news, both print and online, will be free in the future.

# Three-quarters of respondents view the trends toward increased interactivity between news organisations and their readers as positive for quality journalism, while only 8 percent take the negative view.

# Fifty-four percent of editors think shareholders and advertisers pose the principal threat in the future to editorial independence of newspapers.

Nineteen percent of respondents, mostly from the developing world, cite political pressure as the main threat.

# Two-thirds of respondents say that the number of opinion and analysis pages will increase in coming years.

# Training journalists in new media is cited most often by editors as a priority to increase editorial quality. Hiring more journalists is the second most frequently cited priority.

435 respondents participated in the Newsroom Barometer, which was conducted between October 8 and December 7, 2006.

Full details of the survey can be found at http://www.editorsweblog.org

More on the Trends in Newsroom report at http://www.trends-in-newsrooms.org

Wanted: Contributions on Anything & Everything

JAVIER MARTI writes: Trendirama.com is a community of amateur writers writing about The Future of Everything. Join us and write an article on anything you are passionate about. Perhaps even “The Future of Newspapers”, if you are a journalist, student journalist or citizen journalist!

If you own a blog or a site, you can get a link back when you link to your own article, if you wish. You can even re-use some of your already published material. That would save you time and still be interesting for readers.

Yes, I know you may not have the time. Theoretically, none of us do. If so, if you like the project and you can help us spread the word—even if you don’t write—-it would be great. Since we are starting, any help is appreciated.

By making this valuable information available online for free, I truly believe we are helping to make the world a better place. And you could do your bit for the world too, by sharing what you know, as we already do.