Monday, October 10, 2005
Pakistan: courageous Frontier Post
In both cases, we also find courageous newspapers, journalists and editors reporting on their communities' tragedies and on their government' deficiencies. According to The Frontier Post, "The administration’s mantra that it has been hamstrung from relief work because of the communication systems’ disruption just cannot wash... This disruption is patently an excuse to paper over the ineptitude and lackadaisical of an administration that has been found so wanting right at this catastrophe’s outset. Hours passed, and it had no clue of the losses in life and property, so indispensable for launching rescue and relief operations. Its local tiers couldn’t be as helpless as they feigned in collecting this information, which eyewitnesses from all over the affected areas were volunteering to anyone caring to listen to them."
Maybe you will not find this criticism very sharp, but in a country like Pakistan, it is very courageous. And in the past years, for example, the Frontier Post was closed during several months due to the pressure of Islamist movements and the lack of safety provided by the government.
In comparison, the Daily Times was very cautious about criticising the Pakistani government: "TV channels have subjected the government to criticism and unconsciously helped spread the impression that earthquake tragedy was caused by the government simply because rescue work did not begin quickly enough. The truth is that no government anywhere, but particularly in the Third World, can be prepared for large-scale post-disaster management.".
I also didn't find any criticism in Dawn, the most prestigious English speaking Pakistani newspaper. And nobody gave me information about newspapers in Urdu (Jang, Khabrain...), the main language in Pakistan.
Russia: Gaidamak takes over Moskovskiye Novosti
From the Moscow Times: "Moskovskiye Novosti, a flagship of the liberal press from the time of perestroika that is now suffering a deep editorial crisis, has an unexpected new owner. Arkady Gaidamak, a Moscow-born businessman with four passports and a controversial past - especially the arms-for-oil scandal in Angola -, confirmed to Ekho Moskvy radio late Friday that he had bought the weekly newspaper." And Gaidamak is rather close to the Kremlin palace: it means that a new newspaper is controlled by Putin's friends.. Just after he bought the newspaper, Gaidamak said to Kommersant that newspapers don't need to be against the government!
According to Moscow Times, "Moskovskiye Novosti had been owned by Ukrainian media magnate Vadim Rabinovich, who acquired it in July from Leonid Nevzlin, a core Menatep shareholder, who lives in Israel and is wanted in Russia on charges of fraud and tax evasion.
In March 2005, Moskovskiye Novosti descended into crisis after editor Yevgeny Kiselyov, a former television anchor appointed by Nevzlin, fired several prominent veteran journalists. Kiselyov left when Nevzlin sold the paper.
At the time, media industry observers speculated that Rabinovich had paid no more than $1 million for the paper, which also publishes an English edition, Moscow News...
... Since 2002, Gaidamak has lived in Moscow. In May of this year he was elected head of the Congress of Jewish Communities and Organizations, one of the three largest national Jewish organizations."
Source: Moscow Times
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Major paper acknowledges that media blogger broke story
The Wall Street Journal has publicly recognized that Rafat Ali at PaidContent.org broke a story that the Journal played off as their scoop. In the wee hours of September 20, PaidContent posted that Viacom was in talks to acquire Internet film distributer iFilm. The following day, the Wall Street Journal printed the same story, not crediting Rafat with the scoop. Only after this was pointed out did WSJ list the correction on their website. Unfortunately, the correction is behind a paywall and can't be viewed by non-subscribers and probably won't be noticed by many people.
Perhaps the most disturbing part about this story is that this is the second time in two months that WSJ has failed to credit PaidContent with breaking a story before Rafat called them on it.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
China: a journalist in jail with the potential help of Yahoo!
The text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao - sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for "divulging state secrets abroad" - shows that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided China's state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him, Reporters Without Borders said.
... "Yahoo! obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate," the organisation said. "But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations? How far will it go to please Beijing?"
Reporters Without Borders added: "Information supplied by Yahoo! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government's abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate."
Translated into English by the Dui Hua Foundation (which works to document the cases of Chinese political prisoners), the verdict reveals that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided the Chinese investigating organs with detailed information that apparently enabled them to link Shi's personal e-mail account and the specific message containing information treated as a "state secret" to the IP address of his computer.
Aged 37, Shi worked for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News). He was convicted on 30 April of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal message which the authorities had sent to his newspaper warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Chinese state security insisted during the trial that the message was "Jue Mi" (top secret). Shi admitted sending it out by e-mail but disputed that it was a secret document. He is still being held in a prison in Changsha to which he was sent after his arrest in the northeastern city of Taiyuan on 24 November 2004.
Yahoo! and Chinese censorship
For years Yahoo! has allowed the Chinese version of its search engine to be censored. In 2002, Yahoo! voluntarily signed the "Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry", agreeing to abide by PRC censorship regulations. Searches deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities such as "Taiwan independence" in Chinese into the Yahoo! China search engine, retrieve only a limited and approved set of results.
A US-based multinational, Yahoo! Appears to be willing to go to any lengths to gain shares of the Chinese market and it is investing heavily in local companies. In 2003, it spent 120 million dollars to buy the search engine 3721.com. More recently Yahoo! acquired a large stake in the Internet giant Alibaba in an operation that reportedly cost nearly a billion dollars. Reporters Without Borders has written several times to Yahoo! executives in an attempt to alert it to the ethical issues raised by its Chinese investments. These letters have so far received no answer."
Source: Reporters sans frontieres
Friday, September 02, 2005
Hurricane Katrina: digital divide and the racial issue
Seen from Europe, what you see on your TV in the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina is black people - maybe better to say African-American people - looting shops and mall centers. With almost no historical or sociological explanation about the reasons of this anarchy. Images and reports could therefore give the impression that the victims are themselves the guilty... And I remembered an old French book whose title was "Labor classes, dangerous classes".
So I expected to find more feedback and maybe a debate on potential racism in the disaster's images in American media and especially in the American blogosphere. Thanks to Jack Schafer for his smart article ("why no mention of race or class in TV's Katrina coverage?") in Slate but I'm obliged to say that blogs failed to give a voice to the silent who don't have access to media. Here the digital divide between the Poor and the Rich, blacks and whites, found its perfect translation: images were not discussed or balanced because mostly they were provided by non African-American people.
Racial diversity is often discussed in American newsrooms, but what about racial diversity in the blogosphere? The New Orleans disaster could raise questions on how the internet is just a reflection of our society. Theoretically, blogs denounce "mainstream media", but in the last days - with a few exceptions - they behave themselves as non-diversified media. In my opinion, the "mainstream blogosphere" has already begun to deal with the Bush administration responsibility and is proceeding with its own political agenda. Too bad for the victims: they are just a pretext or a stake in a more global "political game".
Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on September 2, 2005 at 02:06 PM in m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, o. Ethics and Press Freedom, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack
Monday, August 22, 2005
Gulf Press Union launched
Sorry that we missed reporting about this very positive development, but a new regional press union launched May 14. The Gulf Press Union (GPU) includes all Arabic and English newspapers, more than 40 in all, in Yemen and the six Gulf states, reports IJNet. According to Gulfnews.com , GPU "is the result of five years of intensive consultation between the editors-in-chief and managing directors of Gulf newspapers." The union's headquarters are in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. As IJNet states that the GPU is "an independent, professional, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization. It aims to foster cooperation among media organizations, share media-related information, organize journalism training, and help protect press freedom and the rights of journalists." According to Gulfnews.com "the union would also attempt to negotiate collectively with companies, such as newsprint and ink suppliers, to get cheaper prices for its members." Turki Al Sudairi, veteran Saudi journalist and editor-in-chief of Saudi Arabic daily Al Riyadh, was elected first president of the GPU.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Incipient newspaper trends II: going local
"The notion of people getting news from one limited source just doesn't apply any more in this media universe. There's going to be a big period of adjustment ahead for the major news players." Fair enough. But, continuing on our last 'trends' posting, in what direction is this adjustment going to take large news organizations?
Jeff Mignon at Media Cafe clarifies this general quote from New York University professor Jay Rosen with his latest postings about the move towards local... which unfortunately Mignon feels does not involve print:
"(A new) business model has to be focused on local press... dailies need to rethink themselves as local portals of information. All information. Not just that created by journalists, but all that the geographical community needs, and all the little fragmented communities inside itself, based on the interests of individuals."
For a few years now, similar theories have been championed and even practiced by citizen journalists such as Dan Gillmor who have launched hyper-local, citizen driven websites, completely independent of established news organizations. Mignon relates what these operations have done to the established media, saying that in going local, newspapers should realize four "revolutions:"
1. all information of interest is not written by journalists, but includes info such as business hours and commercial or professional information
2. all information of interest does not have to come from journalistic sources but other reliable sources as well
3. all of this information must be posted on a paper's website
4. the reader will have more of a role in creating content, even if editors will maintain control.
This last 'revolution' especially distinguishes between independent participatory journalism sites and established news organizations integrating citizen reporting in their content; many see citizen journalism, especially blogs, as inherently scant of editing. Mignon also describes two other technological phenomenon that point towards local: 1. mobile phone users would like to receive local info such as weather updates on their cell phones and 2. papers would be wise to include podcasting, which provide the option of exclusive local interviews and audio reader commentary, on their websites in order to attract young readers. He also praises the Los Angeles Times' branded RSS reader as a logical development towards making the paper a world news aggregator on a local level.
Apart from LAT, two other major papers have recently taken steps towards a local focus: the San Jose Mercury News emphasizing local news on its front page (posting and interview with editor) and the Washington Post's decision to create two homepages, one local and one national/international.
Mignon's ideas are echoed by Eli Noam whose Financial Times article says "(Newspapers) must focus on their core competency, which usually is local information. Cutting costs by cutting local newsroom budgets is therefore myopic," and William Powers at the National Journal who recounts his frustration when, during snow storms, his local Boston Globe did not post business and school cancellations on its website.
So what do major conventional newspapers need to do to capitalize on the local news focus? Well, they need to focus on local news of course! Fortunately, newspapers are already one up on local citizen journalism sites in that they have an established and respected brand. But if they don't cater to the citizen craving local news soon, this incipient trend may take off without them.
Tune into our next posting in this mini-series to find out how to successfully fund your customized and local news.
Monday, July 18, 2005
UK regional press: "I interviewed suicide bomber"
According to holdthefrontpage UK, Northcliffe parliamentary correspondent David Macaulay met in 2002 Mohammad Sidique Khan, the young who is thought to be one of the men behind the bomb attacks on London. At this period, Macaulay was working as a casual reporter on the Times Education Supplement : "The last time I saw Mohammad Sidique Khan he clapped his arms around my shoulders and smiled at me broadly. Three years later he became one of Britain's first suicide bombers..."
Source: holdthefrontpage UK
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
USA: WashingtonPost.com to launch dual homepages
WashingtonPost.com will launch dual homepages this week says Rafat Ali in paidcontent.org and it seems both simple and smart: one will be for local Washington DC area residents, and another one for other national and international audiences interested in news from outside-the-beltway perspective."
A good idea for newspapers who have both a local and an international brand... and who have local competitors.
Source: paidcontent.org / 13 July
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Indonesia: after tsunami, Aceh papers face more competition
An unexpected consequence of the December 2004 tsunami in East Java: there is more competition now than before! According to the International Journalists' Network: " Serambi Indonesia, the only Aceh daily before the tsunami, resumed publication in early January. Since then, Serambi has built its circulation back up to about 25,000 copies – almost three-fourth of its pre-disaster sales, according to Chris Braithwaite, who recently spent a month in Aceh helping Serambi and other papers strengthen their business operations. Sensing an opportunity, a second daily has entered the field. The Jawa Pos Group, a chain of Indonesian papers, has been printing a new daily in nearby Medan and airlifting about 1,000 copies per day into Aceh. Braithwaite said the new daily, Rakyat Aceh, appears to be trying to gain a foothold to compete against Serambi, which is owned by another big Indonesian newspaper chain, the Kompas Gramedia Group.
Rakyat officials told Braithwaite that it, too, plans to build a plant in Banda Aceh. So far, said Braithwaite, late delivery and little promotion have yielded few ads and low sales for the new entrant. But it is pricing its newspaper at half the cover price of Serambi, Braithwaite said, adding, ?the competition is serious.?