Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists

This is a guest post by Anita Bruzzese at chrisbrogan.com

"I have a lot of fun reading blogs and often learn a lot. But as a trained journalist, sometimes I see things in a blogger’s copy that bugs me a bit, and sometimes I read stuff that makes me cringe. Some of it just confuses me, and some of it appalls me. So, when Chris asked me to write a guest post on what bloggers can learn from journalists, I decided to make a list:" Read it here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Juice - The intelligent discovery engine from Linkool Labs (Available as Firefox plugin)

Hey all.
At our last supper last week someone brought up a question about what to do when you're surfing the web and you forget what it was you started looking for in the first place. Well, I found something that might help- Juice. A link to it is posted on my class project blog, "Journalism:What's Happening? What's Next?"
I also posted my final paper as a word doc. Its called "A Revolution of New Technologies:Web 3.0- An Option for a New Journalism?" and it makes for absolutely riveting reading. Uh-huh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CPJ's 2008 prison census: Online and in jail

From: http://www.cpj.org/imprisoned/cpjs-2008-census-online-journalists-now-jailed-mor.php

CPJ's 2008 prison census: Online and in jail
Also: See capsule reports on journalists in jail as of December 1, 2008

New York, December 4, 2008--Reflecting the rising influence of online reporting and commentary, more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, released today, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors. Online journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ's prison census.

[picture missing]
Abdel Karim Suleiman, an Egyptian blogger, is one of 56 online journalists jailed worldwide. (Reuters)

CPJ's survey found 125 journalists in all behind bars on December 1, a decrease of two from the 2007 tally. (Read detailed accounts of each imprisoned journalist.) China continued to be world's worst jailer of journalists, a dishonor it has held for 10 consecutive years. Cuba, Burma, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan round out the top five jailers from among the 29 nations that imprison journalists. Each of the top five nations has persistently placed among the world's worst in detaining journalists.

At least 56 online journalists are jailed worldwide, according to CPJ's census, a tally that surpasses the number of print journalists for the first time. The number of imprisoned online journalists has steadily increased since CPJ recorded the first jailed Internet writer in its 1997 census. Print reporters, editors, and photographers make up the next largest professional category, with 53 cases in 2008. Television and radio journalists and documentary filmmakers constitute the rest.

"Online journalism has changed the media landscape and the way we communicate with each other," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "But the power and influence of this new generation of online journalists has captured the attention of repressive governments around the world, and they have accelerated their counterattack."

In October, CPJ joined with Internet companies, investors, and human rights groups to combat government repression of online expression. After two years of negotiations, this diverse group announced the creation of the Global Network Initiative, which establishes guidelines enabling Internet and telecommunications companies to protect free expression and privacy online. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have joined the initiative.

Illustrating the evolving media landscape, the increase in online-related jailings has been accompanied by a rise in imprisonments of freelance journalists. Forty-five of the journalists on CPJ's census are freelancers; most of them work online. These freelancers are not employees of media companies and often do not have the legal resources or political connections that might help them gain their freedom. The number of imprisoned freelancers has risen more than 40 percent in the last two years, according to CPJ research.

"The image of the solitary blogger working at home in pajamas may be appealing, but when the knock comes on the door they are alone and vulnerable," said CPJ's Simon. "All of us must stand up for their rights--from Internet companies to journalists and press freedom groups. The future of journalism is online and we are now in a battle with the enemies of press freedom who are using imprisonment to define the limits of public discourse."
Imprisonments by Media

Antistate allegations such as subversion, divulging state secrets, and acting against national interests are the most common charge used to imprison journalists worldwide, CPJ found. About 59 percent of journalists in the census are jailed under these charges, many of them by the Chinese and Cuban governments.

About 13 percent of jailed journalists face no formal charge at all. The tactic is used by countries as diverse as Eritrea, Israel, Iran, the United States, and Uzbekistan, where journalists are being held in open-ended detentions without due process. At least 16 journalists worldwide are being held in secret locations. Among them is Gambian journalist "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, whose whereabouts, legal status, and health have been kept secret since his arrest in July 2006. From the U.S. Senate to the West African human rights court, international observers have called on authorities to free Manneh, who was jailed for trying to publish a critical report about Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.

Nowhere is the ascendance of Internet journalism more evident than in China, where 24 of 28 jailed journalists worked online. China's prison list includes Hu Jia, a prominent human rights activist and blogger, who is serving a prison term of three and a half years for online commentaries and media interviews in which he criticized the Communist Party. He was convicted of "incitement to subvert state power," a charge commonly used by authorities in China to jail critical writers. At least 22 journalists are jailed in China on this and other vague antistate charges.

Cuba, the world's second worst jailer, released two imprisoned journalists during the year after negotiations with Spain. Madrid, which resumed cooperative programs with Cuba in February, has sought the release of imprisoned writers and dissidents in talks with Havana. But Cuba continued to hold 21 writers and editors in prison as of December 1, all but one of them swept up in Fidel Castro's massive 2003 crackdown on the independent press. In November, CPJ honored Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, who at 65 is the oldest of those jailed in Cuba, with an International Press Freedom Award.

Burma, the third worst jailer, is holding 14 journalists. Five were arrested while trying to spread news and images from areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis. The blogger and comedian Maung Thura, who uses the professional name Zarganar, was sentenced to a total of 59 years in prison during closed proceedings in November. Authorities accused Maung Thura of illegally disseminating video footage of relief efforts in hard-hit areas, communicating with exiled dissidents, and causing public alarm in comments to foreign media.

Eritrea, with 13 journalists in prison, is the fourth worst jailer. Eritrean authorities have refused to disclose the whereabouts, legal status, or health of any of the journalists they have imprisoned. Unconfirmed online reports have said that three of the jailed journalists may have died in custody, but the government has refused to even say whether the detainees are alive or dead.

Uzbekistan, with six journalists detained, is the fifth worst jailer. Those in custody include Dzhamshid Karimov, nephew of the country's president. A reporter for independent news Web sites, Karimov has been forcibly held in a psychiatric hospital since 2006.

Here are other trends and details that emerged in CPJ's analysis:

* In about 11 percent of cases, governments have used a variety of charges unrelated to journalism to retaliate against critical writers, editors, and photojournalists. Such charges range from regulatory violations to drug possession. In the cases included in this census, CPJ has determined that the charges were most likely lodged in reprisal for the journalist's work.

* Violations of censorship rules, the next most common charge, are applied in about 10 percent of cases. Criminal defamation charges are filed in about 7 percent of cases, while charges of ethnic or religious insult are lodged in another 4 percent. Two journalists are jailed for filing what authorities consider to be "false" news. (More than one type of charge may apply in individual cases.

* Print and Internet journalists make up the bulk of the census. Television journalists compose the next largest professional category, accounting for 6 percent of cases. Radio journalists account for 4 percent, and documentary filmmakers 3 percent.

* The 2008 tally reflects the second consecutive decline in the total number of jailed journalists. That said, the 2008 figure is roughly consistent with census results in each year since 2000. CPJ research shows that imprisonments rose significantly in 2001, after governments imposed sweeping national security laws in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Imprisonments stood at 81 in 2000 but have since averaged 128 in CPJ's annual surveys.

* The United States, which is holding photographer Ibrahim Jassam without charge in Iraq, has made CPJ's list of countries jailing journalists for the fifth consecutive year. During this period, U.S. military authorities have jailed dozens of journalists in Iraq--some for days, others for months at a time--without charge or due process. No charges have ever been substantiated in these cases.

CPJ does not apply a rigid definition of online journalism, but it carefully evaluates the work of bloggers and online writers to determine whether the content is journalistic in nature. In general, CPJ looks to see whether the content is reportorial or fact-based commentary. In a repressive society where the traditional media is restricted, CPJ takes an inclusive approach to work that is produced online.

The organization believes that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their jobs. CPJ has sent letters expressing its serious concerns to each country that has imprisoned a journalist.

Number of Journalists in Prison Each Year since 1998

CPJ's list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at midnight on December 1, 2008. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found at www.cpj.org. Journalists remain on CPJ's list until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody.

Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities, including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are not included on the imprisoned list. Their cases are classified as "missing" or "abducted."

* Blogger,
* Imprisoned

At Pasadena Now, outsourced reporting is just business

From: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-onthemedia7-2008dec07,0,2587076.story

At Pasadena Now, outsourced reporting is just business
The local website uses writers in India, but it's no substitute for in-depth coverage.

December 7, 2008

As the alleged scourge of American journalism, James Macpherson cuts a rather disappointing figure.

In a crisp blue blazer, with slicked-back gray hair, the onetime garment manufacturer looks like a prep school headmaster. He speaks with the polite self-control of PBS' Jim Lehrer.

Macpherson drew headlines and hate mail last year when it was revealed that his Pasadena Now website intended to report the news from Pasadena using writers in Mumbai and Bangalore, India.

Outrage surged again a week ago, when Maureen Dowd of the New York Times reported on her visit with Macpherson, who told her that newspapers are in "a General Motors moment" and that his website could become a prototype for the future.

This might all seem terribly threatening to a knuckle-walking, retrograde print reporter like me, if I hadn't spent a little time with the Internet publisher and taken a spin through Pasadena Now.

What I found was a small businessman struggling to make a dollar, and a bright, glossy website mostly preoccupied with society happenings, ribbon-cuttings, fundraisers, the arts and, one day this week, gingerbread houses made by local schoolchildren.

I'm as sour on the idea of outsourcing journalism to the subcontinent as the next ink-stained wretch. Too many of my colleagues, at The Times and other papers, have already been pushed out the door.

But the natty and articulate Mr. Macpherson will not be the end of us. His 4-year-old website may one day thrive and find the magic bullet -- how to make money on a news site -- that has eluded virtually every other publisher.

That will not diminish the desire of many thinking people to have a more probing view of the communities they live in. And I still see no alternative for providing that information other than an eyewitness, on the ground, asking questions.

Newspapers and their websites -- even in a diminished state -- still tell those stories most, and best. That's why the movers at Pasadena City Hall and the school district make sure they read the Pasadena Star News and the alternative Pasadena Weekly.

They might peek at Macpherson's Pasadena Now on occasion. Staffers for the city and school district say they like the way the website faithfully publishes their press releases. "But when it takes the time and resources and energy to do something much more in-depth, they don't have the capacity to do as much of that," said Binti Harvey, spokeswoman for Pasadena Unified School District.

That's because Macpherson and his wife, Candice Merrill, run a bare-bones operation. They gather most of what you see on Pasadena Now, with the aid of a few volunteer videographers and photographers and half a dozen writers in India, the first of whom Macpherson found last year by advertising on Craigslist.

The Macphersons transmit press releases, PDF files and reports to their offshore crew, which also watches City Council and school board meetings via streaming video. The Indians produce articles and headlines, earning $7 for every 1,000 words. (By way of comparison, guest opinion writers in the Los Angeles Times get at least $250 for 600 words.)

Lively, unique utterances from the scene are a rarity on Pasadena Now, where canned and reprocessed information fills the news columns. The only fresh item one day last week under "The Latest" heading was an announcement that Hamilton Elementary School had applied for a Blue Ribbon School award.

Other "news" items included a three-day-old statement from the police chief about youth crime, a story about volunteer anti-crime patrols in shopping areas (four days old), and a week-old report on a sexual battery at a high school.

One lead story ("On Saturday, Dec. 6 the Rose Bowl will be hosting the annual UCLA/USC NCAA Division I football classic . . . ") sounded suspiciously as if it had been written by someone who has spent more time on a cricket field than a gridiron.

Despite his insistence that an Indian rewrite team can make his site economically viable, even Macpherson acknowledged that "nobody thousands of miles away can possibly understand the nuances of local issues."

So there he was, the putative king of the news outsourcers, writing in an essay last week about the need for "boots on the ground" to provide grist for complete stories.

Macpherson acknowledged as much last year, when he hired local reporters to cover the schools, City Hall and other beats. But when he couldn't afford to pay them, they walked.

Now, Macpherson's back to a mom and pop operation, editing out of his home off Orange Grove Boulevard.

The entrepreneur has brought on a few ad men recently, working on commission, and said he sees signs that they might help him begin operating in the black.

Macpherson, 53, dreams of a day when merchants can play with the big boys by selling their wares via local websites, with the Internet partner getting a small share of the proceeds.

In the meantime, the man with the men in Mumbai is in survival mode, with dozens of ideas but no money to put more reporters on the street.

In that sense, he may have a lot more in common with the newspaper industry than some of us cranky journalists care to admit.

Rainey is a Times staff writer.


U.S. Military Will Keep Holding Reuters Photographer

From: http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2008/12/reuters2.html

U.S. Military Will Keep Holding Reuters Photographer

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (December 10, 2008) – The American military is maintaining that Reuters freelance photojournalist Jassam Mohammed is "a threat to Iraq security and stability" based on their own intelligence, and have decided to ignore an Iraqi court's decision that there is no evidence against him as well as to disregard the Central Criminal Court's November order to set him free.

U.S. military spokesman Major Neal Fisher said Mohammed, who has been held since September, will continued to be held in Camp Cropper prison near Baghdad's airport into 2009.

Fisher told Reuters that Mohammed "will be processed for release in a safe and orderly manner after December 31, in the order of his individual threat level, along with all other detainees. Since he already has a decision from the CCCI, when it is his turn for release he will be able to out-process without having to go through the courts as other detainees in his threat classification will have to do."

Jassam was detained after a raid on his home in Mahmudiya by U.S. and Iraqi forces. His photographic equipment was also confiscated. The freelancer works for other Iraqi media, in addition to Reuters News, a Thomson Reuters company.

"I am disappointed he has not been released in accordance with the court order," Reuters News editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said.

In the ruling issued by the Iraqi court at the end of last month, Iraqi prosecutors said they had asked the U.S. military repeatedly for the evidence it had against Jassam but that U.S. forces had failed to provide any material.

Fisher said that the U.S. military was "not bound" to provide military intelligence to Iraqi courts.

The legal situation changes next year when a security pact with the United States enters into force, replacing a United Nations mandate governing the presence of foreign troops and paving the way for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Under the pact, the U.S. military will no longer be able to detain people.

Most of the more than 15,000 detainees currently held in Iraq by U.S. forces will have to be set free as a result. Others who are subject to Iraqi arrest warrants will be transferred to Iraqi prisons. The pact gives no timeline for that process to happen but says it should be conducted in an orderly manner.

Fisher declined to arrange a meeting between Reuters and the U.S. commander of the prisons operations, Brigadier General David Quantock, to discuss Jassam's continuing detention.

"I will not ask him to make this detainee more important than the other 15,800 detainees, when he has already made his decision," Fisher said.

Reuters and international media rights groups have criticized the U.S. military's refusal to deal more quickly with suspicions apparently arising from the legitimate activities of reporters covering acts of violence.

In August, the U.S. military freed a photographer working for Reuters after holding him for three weeks without charges. It had been the third time Ali al-Mashhadani, who also conducts freelance work for the BBC and National Public Radio, had been detained.

Cut Newsday Photographers Told To "Re-Apply" For Visual Journalist Jobs

From: http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2008/12/newsday.html

[I mentioned this story at dinner last night.]

Cut Newsday Photographers Told To "Re-Apply" For Visual Journalist Jobs

MELVILLE, NY (December 8, 2008) – Friday evening about 20 photographers at Newsday on Long Island were summoned to a meeting to learn that they had all lost their jobs.

Photographers were called, even those on their days off, and told to come in for a meeting with photography director Jeff Schamberry where they learned that their jobs have been eliminated. They were told that beginning Monday they could "re-apply" for new jobs that have been created in the photography department, positions with the title of "Visual Journalist" or "assistant photo editor."

"We have the 'opportunity' to reapply for either the job of 'Visual Journalist' or as an assistant photography editor," one of the long-time Newsday photographers told News Photographer magazine today. The photographer did not want to be identified by name because the photographer intends to re-apply for one of the new jobs.

"It was horrible," the photographer said about Friday night's meeting. "We were shocked. Personally, I think the handwriting was on the wall. They did this to the art department several months ago, and when that happened I thought that we would be next."

The Newsday photographer said that starting today the 20 photographers can schedule a meeting with the managing editor and photography director ("If we still have one ...") and re-apply for a visual journalist or assistant photo editor job, but that there are not 20 new positions and not everyone will be re-hired.

"We've heard the cuts are going to be drastic," the photographer said, "about 50 percent or more. There won't be 20 new positions."

One estimate says that the re-organized photography department may be made up of only 7 people, cutting 13 positions from the staff.

Reports at the end of last week said that Newsday would trim 5 percent of their overall staff (about 100 workers) in the newsroom and business side, and that the editorial cuts would hit members of the sports and photography departments the hardest.

The New York Observer reported that fired Newsday employees may be offered a buy-out package, and if so they'll have three weeks to accept the offer.

Newsday was sold by Tribune Co. to Cablevision in May for $650 million, but the newspaper's losses continued under its new owners and Tribune's profits from the sale didn't stem losses at the Chicago-based company, which today filed for bankruptcy.

Newsday publisher Tim Knight wrote last week in an internal Newsday memo that the ongoing loss of advertising revenue are to blame for this round of cuts. Facing their own loss of revenue, the paper also announced the newsstand price goes up a quarter, to 75 cents daily and $2 on Sunday.

Greenberg v. National Georgraphic Comes To An End;

From: http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2008/12/greenberg.html

This case will have important ramifications for writers too!

Greenberg v. National Geographic Comes To An End; Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeal

WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2008) – Photographer Jerry Greenberg's long legal battle against the National Geographic Society and a series of appellate court rulings has finally come to an end.

The United States Supreme Court has denied to hear an appeal by Greenberg in which he asked the justices to reverse a lower court's landmark copyright decision in his 11-year-old case against National Geographic.

The Supreme Court denied Greenberg's petition for a writ of certiorari on Monday, which lets stand the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision from July holding that the National Geographic Society – and by extension, other publishers – have the right to reproduce their magazines' archive in digital format without paying any additional royalties to freelance photographers.

"The decision by the Supreme Court to let stand the ruling in Greenberg is extremely disappointing," NPPA's general legal counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher said today from Buffalo, NY.

"In these terrible economic times it will now allow publishers to create and sell electronic archives of their previously published works without infringing on the copyrights of the contributors to those works. This creates a terrible burden on the ability of photographers to earn a living.”

“It will now be imperative for photographers, authors, artists, and creators to be aware of this decision as they negotiate for the use of their work and make sure that any contract that they agree to clearly delineate those rights and limitations," Osterreicher said.

In November the National Press Photographers Association joined other groups who are concerned about protecting the copyrights and incomes of freelance photographers in filing an amici curiae (friends of the court) brief supporting Greenberg in his appeal.

Greenberg's writ of certiorari asked the Supreme Court to determine whether federal appellate courts in New York and Georgia had reached a correct decision in Jerry Greenberg v. National Geographic Society, suggesting that the 11th Circuit (and the 2nd Circuit in a nearly identical case) had misinterpreted the Supreme Court's 2001 landmark copyright ruling, Tasini v. New York Times.

National Geographic responded to Greenberg's Supreme Court appeal with a brief of their own opposing it. Represented by former Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr, Geographic's brief argued that there was no reason for the Supreme Court to hear Greenberg's appeal and to revisit the court's decision in Tasini because the 11th Circuit's ruling had resolved any conflict between the 11th and 2nd Circuits over copyright protections for freelance photographers, and therefore there was no reason for the Supreme Court to intervene, or to "reverse the course of now-settled law", because of the lower courts' "now harmonious interpretation" of Tasini.

So by refusing to hear Greenberg's appeal the Supreme Court sided with Geographic and affirmed the circuit courts' July finding, which also lets stand the Tasini decision.

Legal scholars have said that reopening Tasini would have implications for thousands of freelance photographers, writers, and illustrators in a long-standing disagreement with publishers over copyright and the use of published works.

Greenberg's case against Geographic stemmed from the National Geographic Society reusing more than 60 of Greenberg's photographs in a 30-disc CD-ROM compilation called "The Complete National Geographic." The digital product included 1,200 past issues of National Geographic magazine.

National Geographic pulled the product off the market in 2003 after Greenberg was awarded damages by a Florida district court. But as the lawsuit dragged on through the appeals process, the final three rulings by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals were all in the magazine's favor.