Saw this on the interwebs today… another video that should be shown to every journalism student the day after they enrol:
Quick posting on a potential headline of the year, courtesy of News.com in Australia:
Hats off to the sub who came up with that gem, the only thing it’s missing is the word “shocker”!
Plaudits also to the twit who came up with the pay-off line.
A friend of mine twittered enthusiastically from Malta today:
NewsXchange conference session on political news for a younger audience. Great title: “Are we boring you?”
Yes, I had to agree, a great title, so I headed over to the NewsXchange website to see if I could find out more. Nice blurb there on the agenda, so I wanted to know more – ah, it’s happening right now, so is there a stream I could subscribe to?
Maybe it’ll be available online later?
A brief look at the previous conference agendas soon put me straight.
Then I saw the tag-line: “for broadcasters by broadcasters” and the penny dropped with a resounding thud.
Here we have a large room in a nice hotel in Malta filled with some of the best TV news folk in the business, but because they still have their collective old media heads stuck up their old media proverbials, the NewsXchange is reduced to being nothing more than a bunch of self-serving hot-air producers pontificating about the future of their industry behind closed doors.
No social media, no streaming, no podcasts, no blog, no tweets (bar the teaser above) – just the same old, same old.
What an opportunity missed.
Bye bye, broadcast news, it was nice knowing you.
After yesterday’s post it was interesting to see that Al Jazeera English are not the only ones who are behind the curve on new media – Sky News, no less, have been trumpeting their latest innovation: Sky News being streamed for free on their website.
Good Lord, how have I struggled through the past few years only being able to watch BBC, ITN, CNN, MSNBC, Russia Today and Al Jazeera English, all of whom have been streaming their live output for free for years?
Cue chest thumping from the Sky News bunker:
With Sky News now available on more platforms than ever – on TV, online, on mobiles, through iphone and ipod touch apps, at train stations and on planes – there’s barely a screen in Britain now where you can’t access Sky News.
I’m always reminded at this point of the creatures Douglas Adams once described in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who had 50 arms each and so invented the under-arm deodorant before the wheel – one wonders how Sky News could ever have thought it was more important to have an iPhone application BEFORE a live free stream.
Maybe the answer can be found in Michael Woolf’s excellent takedown of old Digger Murdoch in a recent edition of Vanity Fair, which sums up everything you ever need to know about the sad attitude of old media execs to the future of media.
As for Sky News, I guess someone there is feeling really pleased with themselves this morning, and wondering whether they should go one step further, and put Sky News content into print…
So I heard through the grapevine today that those clueless wonks at Al Jazeera English had launched a new blog section on their website. Obviously “new” is a relative term for them because the “blog” is a product of Web 2.0 and therefore already well past its sell-by date (and yes, I am aware of the irony of saying that in my own… blog).
Still, the BBC have had blogs for years, as have CNN, so I guess it was only a matter of time before Al Jazeera English copied them; which is a shame because to date, the Al Jazeera website had stood firm against the stereotypical “blog” and focused on its excellent feature writing instead, often bringing these together under a single subject or reporter name, rather than just giving them their own blog-branded new media ghetto.
One hopes that these one-day-wonders won’t replace the well-written and truly original journalism that Al Jazeera regularly put onto its website’s Focus section, but I’ll bet they do, and then try to pass it off as “convergence”.
(You can always tell when a Newspaper or a TV executive is lying about convergence, and using it to cover up cuts in spending – their lips move.)
Obviously whoever is in charge of innovation there must be on long-term sick leave because the blogs are now “the in thing” while elsewhere on the site all of their excellent comments have been shut down on both the website and their YouTube channel – so much for being the “voice of the voiceless”.
The head of common sense must also have been having an off-day because while the new blogs have been mentioned fleetingly on-air, there’s absolutely no mention of them at all on the Al Jazeera English front page to date.
Come on Al Jazeera, you can do better than this.
(Oh yes, if you want to see these wonders of the new media era, they can be found languishing at their own site – and one further observation: Why didn’t the Asia-Pacific region qualify for its own blog?)
Columnist Frank Rich provides a detailed takedown of what he describes as the “Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers” and the corrosive effect that they and their message are having on what passes for political discourse in the US.
Another writer, Paul Krugman takes a wider ranging view of reaction to the murder of Dr George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, followed in short-order by the incident at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in which a security guard was shot dead by a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.
Both point to what seems to be an increasingly worrying trend that incidents like this are on the increase following Barack Obama’s election as President, and that the right-wing media, including the Faux News Channel, bear some responsibility for this.
What’s worrying in the middle of all this is that having been trounced at the elections in November the Republican Party is currently leaderless, rudderless and clueless, as exemplified by the recent fiasco over whether Gingrich or Palin should speak at a fund-raising dinner – if they can’t get their guest lists sorted out you have to wonder whether they ever will re-discover the plot ahead of 2012, or whether they have already written that off and are concentrating in 2016.
Unfortunately nature abhors a vacuum, and so into that breech have stepped a whole swathe of unelected, possibly even unelectable, voices like so-called comedian Rush Limbaugh and actor Jon Voight, who told Faux News Channel and others that his devout wish was to “bring an end to this false prophet Obama“.
This is exactly the kind of swing to extremism that the British Labour Party suffered after its humiliation at the hands of the Conservatives in 1979 – and by the time the next election came round in 1983, the Party was riven with divisions as it lurched to the left under Michael Foot.
Labour’s manifesto for the 1983 elections included abolition of the House of Lords, leaving the EEC (the fore-runner of the EU) and abandoning the UK’s nuclear deterrent, prompting one senior Labour MP to describe it as “the longest suicide note in history“.
It took the reality check of the Conservatives Party’s 1983 landslide to set Labour back on the road to electoral respectability, although it took them another 14 years to actually achieve their goal of regaining Number 10.
There’s no doubt the electoral roller coaster that is American politics plays out much quicker than the UK one, but one wonders whether the Republicans are already paying the price for allowing the extremism of the election campaign to get so out of hand, as evidenced in the Al Jazeera video I posted a few days ago.
Frank Rich is already alarmed that no-one is reining in the “hard-core haters”:
The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.
Hang on a minute, did he say McCain had guts – in classic sports broadcasting terms, let’s see that again…
So that’s having “the guts and clout to step up” eh Frank? We can clearly see McCain is embarrassed because he knows his campaign has been based entirely around Obama’s race and background, and now one of his base supporters has come out and said it and he’s got to agree with her without agreeing with her, knowing that if he gets the next few statements wrong, his whole campaign is doomed to be filed in a garbage bin marked “flip-flopper”.
So he fumbles, he humms, he errrs, and he comes out with something so remarkably anodyne that it can be read any which way you like; the only decisive thing he does is to get his microphone well away from the loony old trout.
McCain didn’t “step up”, he fell over, tried to stand up, managed to get his foot out of his mouth and then ran like hell, and in doing so he showed all the leadership qualities of a concussed bee.
What was needed was for McCain to walk slowly and silently back to the centre of the stage and then to deliver a quiet but stinging rebuke to anyone in his party who dared to make the rest of the campaign about race, to make it clear that the election should be about policy, and not about fearmongering – then he should have gone away and slapped down anyone on his campaign team who disagreed.
That would have been leadership, that would have been “stepping up” but he blew it, and so set in motion the course of events that lead us to where we are today, with right-wing extremism on the rise in the US effectively being encouraged by a leaderless and ineffective Republican party and egged on by loud-mouth shock jocks like Limbaugh, Beck and O’Reilly who really are the perfect examples of the inverse ratio between the size of the brain and the size of the mouth.
Someone needs to step up and provide the same kind of reality check as the Labour Party got in 1983; the problem is that if the American Right waits until after the 2012 election, how many people are going to die in the meantime?
If I had a penny for every article I had read about the pros and cons of blogging and its effect on mainstream journalism, I would be a very rich man – I would probably have enough to be a full-time blogger, rather than writing my posts in my own time.
With so many blogs, some of which are becoming professional concerns, it was inevitable that the war of words between bloggers and journalists was never going to end, especially now that so many lazy mainstream journalists have learnt to feed off the blogs.
So it was with some interest that I read an article on TechCrunch this morning entitled “The Morality and Effectiveness of Process Journalism“, which came about as a result of this piece of angst-riddled insecurity from The New York Times.
I’m not going to go into the details of this particular example of “handbags at dawn”, although from the exhibits presented by both the plaintiff and the defence I can say that Mr Darlin of the NYT probably wouldn’t last five minutes in any newsroom run by me.
From where I’m sitting, TechCrunch reported a rumour as exactly that and published it with more caveats than a dossier on WMD:
Today, though, rumors popped up that Apple may be looking to buy Twitter. “Apple is in late stage negotiations to buy Twitter and is hoping to announce it at WWDC in June,” said a normally reliable source this evening, adding that the purchase price would be $700 million in cash. The trouble is we’ve checked with other sources who claim to know nothing about any Apple negotiations. If these discussions are happening, Twitter is keeping them very quiet indeed. We would have passed on reporting this rumor at all, but other press is now picking it up.
If only many mainstream journalists were as assiduous about highlighting so-called facts which are, in reality, rumours.
Eniment journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis has also written about this, which he describes as Product vs Process journalism: The myth of perfection vs beta culture; I totally agree with his sentiments – the idea that a story is, once written, an entity which cannot be changed is a product of the old way of producing news, where you had a single product, be it a TV programme or a newspaper edition, into which the “finished” story was placed.
OK, stories might move over a period of time, and one only has to watch All the Presidents’ Men to see how that worked, but even then, the story presented in each edition is a complete, rounded item, drafted, edited, honed until it is as good as it could be.
Only with the advent of 24-hour news and, later, new media have we been able to see news as a constantly evolving activity, from ‘Breaking News’ to the retrospective documentary, a story moves, grows, evolves like a living being, often with just as much complexity, and to characterise a story only in terms of locked off “editions” makes about as much sense in the interweb age as carbon paper.
It’s also interesting to note that this was written for the NYT‘s Business section, and we all know how much esteem they’re held in after the recent meltdown in the world’s economy.
So what is the moral of this incompetant piece of naval gazing by the NYT? As Jeff Jarvis so eloquently puts it:
The problem with this tiresome, never-ending alleged war of blogs vs. MSM … is that it blinds each tribe from learning from the other. Yes, there are standards worth saluting from classical journalism. But there are also new methods and opportunities to be learned online. No one owns journalists or its methods or standards.
The upshot of this is that these days it doesn’t really matter what hacks like Damon Darlin churn out, if they get it wrong, they can be called out within minutes and the facts of what was really said and what was missed can be blogged and published for all to see faster than you can say “libel writ”.
And you know what? Mainstream journalists could do the same, if only they’d get their heads of the sand and their mindsets out of the past.