Two Great Examples of How Journalism Has Changed for the Better – Gigaom

Mathew Ingram writes:

“It’s worth pointing out when ‘citizen journalism’ — or networked journalism, or whatever we want to call it — really works, and a couple of great examples of that have come to light recently. One of them is related to a project that I’ve written about: namely, the open Ukrainian vehicle tracking database that British investigative blogger Eliot Higgins and his team have been putting together through his Bellingcat website, which tracks the movements of Russian troops and machinery in and around Ukraine.

“The open database of vehicle sightings in Ukraine that Eliot and his team at the Bellingcat site have been putting together — using photos and videos and eyewitness reports of vehicles, blast craters and burn marks that have been posted by residents — has produced some fairly strong evidence that Russia has been firing missiles and other weaponry into Ukraine from inside Russian territory, despite repeated government denials.
“The second example comes via a piece in the New York Times magazine, which will be published in print this weekend but is already available online. It tells the story of a group of residents who live in one of the worst slums in Rio de Janeiro — a group that calls itself ‘Papo Reto,’ meaning ‘straight talk.’ Armed only with cellphones, they have been documenting police violence in the Rio favela, at great personal cost, because the Brazilian media apparently isn’t interested.”
“For too long, it’s been easy to mock legacy media organizations that dare dabble in relatively new, digital platforms or formats that are perceived to be low-brow. Given how quick we are to cry ‘clickbait!’ these days, the legacies must assure their audience that they are not sacrificing standards when they try to play the digital game and—god forbid—get some social-media traffic.

“The most popular New York Times story of 2013—a year when the paper won Pulitzers for investigative, explanatory, and international reporting—was a quiz. That same quiz was also its third most popular piece of content in 2014. And last I checked, the Times still publishes a crossword. None of this has harmed the paper’s reputation as a home for serious journalism.

“Part of the reason legacies panic about losing their gravitas and upstarts worry about how to gain it is that most of their audience doesn’t come through a homepage or a print magazine, where a hierarchy is on display.

“As Felix Salmon pointed out when the Times got a bit embarrassed about running a story about hipsters wearing monocles, online it’s impossible to ‘tuck’ a story away. It can be equally hard to call attention to a story that editors deem important but won’t naturally attract an avalanche of clicks.

About time department: New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet announced Thursday The Times is retiring its system of pitching stories for Page 1 of the print edition in a memo to staff that outlines the paper’s growing emphasis on digital journalism.The Times will continue to have its distinctive morning meetings, Baquet writes. Rather than being focused primarily on which stories will make the front page of the next day’s print edition, the paper will ‘compete for the best digital, rather than print, real estate.’

Craig SilvermanCraig Silverman, whom we interviewed years ago for this site, is becoming a leading voice in media responsibility and accountability. Here’s an excerpt from his new report, ‘Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content: How News Websites Spread (and Debunk) Online Rumors, Unverified Claims and Misinformation.‘ Click here to download the full report.
“News websites dedicate far more time and resources to propagating questionable and often false claims than they do working to verify and/or debunk viral content and online rumors. Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement…

“Today the bar for what is worth giving attention seems to be much lower. There are also widely used practices in online news that are misleading and confusing to the public. These practices reflect short-term thinking that ultimately fails to deliver the full value of a piece of emerging news…

“Many news sites apply little or no basic verification to the claims they pass on. Instead, they rely on linking-out to other media reports, which themselves often only cite other media reports as well…

“News organizations are inconsistent at best at following up on the rumors and claims they offer initial coverage. This is likely connected to the fact that they pass them on without adding reporting or value. With such little effort put into the initial rewrite of a rumor, there is little thought or incentive to follow up…
many news organizations pair an article about a rumor or unverified claim with a headline that declares it to be true. This is a fundamentally dishonest practice…They frequently use headlines that express the unverified claim as a question (‘Did a woman have a third breast added?’). However, research shows these subtleties result in misinformed audiences…

“Within minutes or hours a claim can morph from a lone tweet or badly sourced report to a story repeated by dozens of news websites, generating tens of thousands of shares. Once a certain critical mass is met, repetition has a powerful effect on belief. The rumor becomes true for readers simply by virtue of its ubiquity.”

*Newspapers are increasingly launching online radio stations as the supply of talk radio outlets dwindles in local markets. But it isn’t just a small-town phenomenon. The Boston Herald “launched its radio station in the summer of 2013, and when news now breaks, its protocol is to get it on the radio first before posting it online or to social media,” writes Joseph Lichterman on Nieman Journalism Lab. The good news 2/3 of under-25s listen to online radio weekly. The bad news: early adopters say it’s been tough to get advertisers on board.”

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 at 11:28 am and is filed under Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Journalism, Newspapers, OnlineMedia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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