Brave News Worlds: Navigating the New Media Landscape by netzoo

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									IPI Report
     Produced in Partnership with he Poynter Institute


        Navigating the
    New Media Landscape

For the past three years, discussions about the future of the news media have centered
on the decline of the so-called golden age of journalism and the descent into a chaos
characterised by splintered audiences, decimated balance sheets, and the muscling-in
of amateurs. Fearing that their halcyon days as the guardians of information are num-
bered, many editors and journalists have engaged in collective navel-gazing, asking
themselves: What went wrong?

But is the future really so bleak? Is the decline a global phenomenon? Are we moving
into a new ‘golden age’? And what does it mean for press freedom?

To find answers to these pressing questions, the International Press Institute teamed up
with the Poynter Institute, one of the premier journalism training centers in the world,
to set out on a global investigation assembling an international group of editors, jour-
nalists, visionaries and sceptics to discover how the future of the news is developing
around the world.

The result is that after a 10-year absence, the IPI Report series has returned, revamped
and reinvigorated with a new edition entitled “Brave News Worlds”, a report that charts
the exciting times ahead for the news media and uncovers the many different global
perspectives thereof.

Picking up where the IPI Report series left off in 2000, “Brave News Worlds” explores
what the next 10 years hold for the news and journalism industry and offers insight into
how journalists and non-journalists alike can take advantage of changes in the media
and technology to make the future of news a bright one.

Edited by Bill Mitchell, Head of the Poynter Institute’s Entrepreneurial Journalism and
International Programs, the report brings together the greatly diverse perspectives of
42 editors, journalists and media experts from over 20 countries to tackle issues such as
regulation and control, emerging forms of journalism and the power of the public,
along with the need to reframe traditional news models to better engage with audi-

With a focus on effective solutions and lessons learned, but also providing stimulus for
debate, this report is not a definitive map, but instead a compass, pointing us, the global
media, in the right direction: To a sustainable and successful future for journalism.

                                                                        Lauren Dolezal
                                                   Commissioning and Production Editor
4     Introduction: Discovering New Value Along New           64    Lessons for Journalists in the Crowdsourcing of Crisis
      Routes for News Bill Mitchell                                 Information Patrick Meier
                                                              68    Social Media as a First Draft of Journalism and a Rally-
The Journey Ahead                                                   ing Cry for Democracy Endy M. Bayuni
                                                              71    Crowdsourcing Can Turn Fragmentation into Commu-
The Evolution of News                                               nity Jeff Howe
8     News as a Service to be Sustained Rather than a Prod-
      uct to be Sold Jeff Jarvis                              Emerging Forms of Journalism
12    Openness, Collaboration Key to New Information          74   Data and Journalism Form a Powerful Combination
      Ecosystem Alan Rusbridger                                    Paul Bradshaw
15    How Technology Turned News into a Conversation          79   The Tablet Innovates News Presentation as Color Did in
      Turi Munthe                                                  1970s Mario Garcia
18    The Shock of Inclusion and New Roles for News in the    82   From Adversaries to Allies: Professional and Citizen
      Fabric of Society Clay Shirky                                Journalists Need Each Other Solana Larsen
22    Fifth Estate Joins the Fourth in Push for Freedom of
      Expression and the Press William H. Dutton              Traditional Concepts Reframed
                                                              85    How Niche Journalism Works for Politico Bill Nichols
                                                              88    Building a Cabin and a Blog Create Foundation for
The Role of Journalists                                             Community Louis Ureneck
26    The Journalism Business and Business of Journalism      92    The Future of TV News Belongs, in Part, to Multi-Plat-
      Must Align More Closely in the Future Roy Greenslade          form Video Steve Herrmann
30    The Irony of Editors and Democracy Alex Jones           95    New Online Tools Usher in Golden Age of Global
33    In the New Media Rush for Instant News, Where are the         Muckraking Sheila S. Coronel
      Journalists? Alison Bethel McKenzie
36    Newsroom Structures and Cultures Limit Journalism       Ownership
      Innovation Jean-François Fogel                          98   Government Support Obliges Australian Broadcasting
39    Three Tasks for Journalism: Control Costs, Embrace           Corporation to Innovate and Diversify Mark Scott
      New Ways, Believe in the Business Paul Tash             102 Nonprofit Ownership is No Panacea; New Models
42    Reinvention of Journalism Marked by Seven Key                Needed for New Times Karen B. Dunlap
      Features & Six Critical Steps Dan Gillmor
                                                              105   Conclusions from Paths with Promise: Time to ‘Skill
                                                                    Up’ on 10 Promising Paths Bill Mitchell
The State of Law, Regulation and Media Freedom
45    Legal Threats to Privacy, Free Speech Appear Over the
      Horizon Geoffrey Robertson                              Reports from the Road
49    Legislation and Libel Laws Erode Press Freedom, Jeop-
      ardizing Democracy Robin Esser                          106   Media Face Different Difficulties in Less Mature
52    Media Freedom in a New Media Landscape Damian                 Markets Fernando Samaniego
      Tambini                                                 109   From the United States: Old-School Storytelling
55    Defending Freedom of Expression on the Internet               Using New-School Tools Steve Buttry
      Susan Pointer                                           112   From China: Competition Over News Intensifies
                                                                    in China, as Internet Offers Alternative Coverage
59    Conclusions from The Journey Ahead: Trends and                Yuen-Ying Chan
      Tips to Build the Business and Enhance the Craft        116   From Malaysia: Independent Malaysian News
      Bill Mitchell                                                 Site Shores Up its Pay Wall with Innovation
                                                                    Premesh Chandran
Paths with Promise                                            119   From South Africa: Citizen Journalism Project Offers
                                                                    Case Study in Collaboration Steven Lang
The Power of the People                                       121   From South Africa: Telling the Stores Left Untold by
60    Providing Platforms for Community Involvement in              Gaps in Wealth and Bandwidth Ferial Haffajee
      Journalism as a Social Good Grzegorz Piechota

2       IPI REPORT
125   From Kenya: Telling African Stories the African         Brave News Worlds
      Way Salim Amin
128   From Burma: Peeking Behind Burma's Bamboo               IPI Interim Director and Publisher
      Curtain Soe Myint                                       Alison Bethel McKenzie
131   From India: Media in India Poised to Grow
      Rapidly Rajesh Kalra                                    Editor in Chief
134   From Russia: Digital Publishing Empowering a            Bill Mitchell
      New Technology in Russia, but is it Journalism?
      Andrei Soldatov                                         Commissioning & Production Editor
137   From Colombia: La Silla Vacía Models How the Internet   Lauren Dolezal
      Encourages Press Freedom in Colombia Juanita León
140   From Jordan: Digital Technology Fuels both              Commissioning Editor
      Oppressive Governments and Media Freedom in             Michael Kudlak
      Arab World Daoud Kuttab
143   From Nigeria: NN24, Birth of an African Channel         Managing Editor
      Anthony Dara                                            Julie Moos
146   From Japan: Tracking the New York Rangers Hockey
      Team from Tokyo: A Personal Tale of Media Consump-      Layout and Design Editor
      tion Takashi Tanemura                                   Stefan Fuhrer, Fuhrer Visuelle Gestaltung

149   Conclusions: 10 Waypoints Tagged to the Future of       IPI Press Freedom & Publications Manager
      News Bill Mitchell                                      Anthony Mills

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                                                                                                                   IPI REPORT           3
Introducing IPI’s 60th Anniversary Report:

Discovering New Value
Along New Routes for News
                                                                       To make the report as useful as possible, we have attached tags
                                                                       and summaries to the first page of each article, easy for you to
                                                                       scan – based on your own interests – during your initial run
                                                                       through the pages that follow. In a concluding essay on page 149,
                                                                       I list 10 of the tags that emerge for me as especially useful way-
                                                                       points through the report – and through the next few years for
                                                                       journalism. The report will also be available in digital formats,
                                                                       with details available at

                                                                       Exploring journalism’s critical issues is a fitting way to mark the
                                   By Bill Mitchell                    first 60 years of the International Press Institute, launched in Oc-
                                                                       tober 1950 by a group of 34 editors from 15 countries meeting at
                                                                       Columbia University in New York.

N           ot that long ago, journalism’s transition from analog to
digital looked a whole lot simpler, the road ahead appearing
nearly as straight and narrow as orderly packets of bytes zipping
down the line one after another.
                                                                       Those editors focused on the promotion and protection of press
                                                                       freedom and the improvement of journalistic practices. They
                                                                       founded the new organization on a bold and simple premise: that
                                                                       a free press would contribute to the creation of a better world.

                                                                       Creating News in New Shapes and Sizes
                                                                       The original shape of that free press has been disrupted, especially
                                                                       in recent years, by fundamental shifts in the ways news animates
                                                                       our civic lives and supports itself financially.
For a time, we even relied on a metaphor that, in retrospect, rings
laughably naive. The Information Super Highway has been over-          The free press, 60 years on, is sustained by a range of practitioners
taken by a messier thicket of trails, many of which lead nowhere.      and initiatives never imagined by those editors gathered in Morn-
And yet, with renewed signs of reportorial resolve stirring around     ingside Heights at the midpoint of the last century.
the globe, journalists and non-journalists alike are uncovering
paths that hold the promise of informing more people, more thor-       Whether you’re a working journalist, a newsroom boss or a busi-
oughly, than ever before.                                              ness-side executive, these essays offer evidence and insight useful
                                                                       in shaping your own view of journalism’s future – and the steps
From Bogota to Burma, from Warsaw to Washington, they – we –           you’ll take to realize it.
are mapping new routes for news. You’ll find accounts from each
of those datelines and more among the 42 essays that follow.           A report like this presumes no single view of the future. Instead,
                                                                       you’ll find some quite specific descriptions of how news is chang-
In assembling this report, IPI and its partner in the project, the     ing around the world, along with prescriptions that I know you’ll
Poynter Institute, asked some of the most creative thinkers in and     feel free to accept or reject. As you read the report, consider what
around journalism to provide a snapshot of today’s landscape –         it suggests about how you and your organization do news today.
and to sketch the world of news in the decade ahead.                   Get clear about what you know, as my colleagues at Poynter like
                                                                       to say, and what you need to know next.
Our intent with this collection is more provocation than docu-
mentation, more a call to action than a snapshot in time. We’ve di-    Like news itself, the report tilts in the direction of what’s new as
vided the report’s 42 essays into three chapters organized around      opposed to what’s not, highlighting such topics as:
three objectives: Scoping out the journey ahead, discovering paths
with promise, and discerning lessons learned in reports from the       The emergence of the so-called Fifth Estate – bloggers and others
field.                                                                 whose work usually does not generate the bulk (or any) of their

4       IPI REPORT
income – and its relationship with mainstream journalists of the         former audience. It is also being driven by new entrepreneurs, the
Fourth Estate. William Dutton and Geoffrey Robertson address the         men and women who want to build new kinds of sites and services
growing importance to democratic life of the core value of each es-      that assume, rather than ignore, the free time and talents of the
tate: Freedom of expression and freedom of the press.                    public.”

The Obstacles facing what Roy Greenslade characterizes as the “the       Damian Tambini, the British expert on media law and policy, re-
journalism business and the business of journalism, in which the for-    jects the notion of a Fourth and Fifth Estate, arguing that there’s
mer represents commerce and the latter represents public service.”       “no real boundary between ‘the Internet’ and the press.”

The value and values of citizen journalism and its often boisterous      Media freedom without media power?
cousins, crowdsourcing and social media. How do they fit with            But he raises a key question: “The current crisis of the business
journalism’s ultimate purpose – as well as its bottom line? Rajesh       model, and therefore of the fourth estate, itself leads to an uncom-
Kalra points out that news organizations gain not only in content        fortable question: Can we have media freedom without media
but in loyalty by engaging the contributions of their customers.         power?”
But several of the authors also describe the challenge of resolving
real conflict over such values as verification, fairness and inde-       Gone are the days when the twin challenges of journalism’s com-
pendence.                                                                merce and craft could be addressed separately. Sustaining news as
                                                                         a fuel of democratic life demands not only traditional journalistic
The challenge of sustaining, in an era of uncommon customiza-            skills, but the entrepreneurial tools that Dan Gillmor lists as essen-
tion, a common presentation of news to the diverse constituents          tial to creating the sort of value someone will pay for.
who populate our civic lives. How do we make good decisions
about the commonweal, in other words, if we have our noses               Premesh Chandran, the human rights advocate and co-founder of
buried in the Daily Me?                                                  the leading online publication in Malaysia,, of-
                                                                         fers a case study of the site’s struggle to sustain itself with a pay wall
The central question for journalists and news organizations in           that has been in place since 2002.
each of these areas: How will you engage what Clay Shirky de-
scribes as the “coordinated voluntary participation” of your read-       Reconciling that approach with the increasingly open and collab-
ers, viewers, listeners and users in creating the news that civil so-    orative environment of the Web has been difficult, with subscrip-
ciety requires?                                                          tion numbers stagnating since 2008.

Shirky’s seminal 2009 essay, “Newspapers and Thinking the Un-            “Twitter’s ability to spread breaking news fast was …a major blow
thinkable,” helped inspire part of IPI’s 60th anniversary Congress,      to Malaysiakini’s positioning,” he writes. “Twitter provided news-
“Thinking the Unthinkable: Are We Losing the News?”                      makers, especially politicians, with a direct route to the audience,
                                                                         reducing their reliance on news media.
In his essay for this report, he sketches a future that’s quite think-
able, for journalists and their audiences alike, but only if journal-    “As a subscription site, Malaysiakini has also been cut off from so-
ists figure out smart ways of accommodating what he terms “the           cial media. Users are more likely to share links on Facebook and
shock of inclusion” of the former audience in the enterprise of          Twitter that their non-subscriber friends can read.”
news gathering, distribution and sharing.
                                                                         Chandran is not giving up on the subscription model, linking its
Shirky points out that a great deal of audience participation in-        rejuvenation to the sort of innovation he hopes will provide suffi-
volves voluntary efforts motivated by “human desires to do things        cient new value to users to sustain the site.
that make us happy, not just things that pay us money.”
                                                                         The year ahead will include significant experimentation with paid
He says the “shock of inclusion is coming from the outside in,           content, ranging from the sort of blunt pay wall recently imposed
driven not by the professionals formerly in charge, but by the           on all of the content of the Times of London to the more flexible

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT         5
                                                                                                                                 Right: Editors at work in
                                                                                                                                 the news hub of the
                                                                                                                                 Wall Street Journal in
                                                                                                                                 New York, March 2010

metered approach that the New York Times says it will introduce          There’s opportunity to create new value for users with that mate-
in January 2011.                                                         rial. There are also risks.

In Chapter One of the report, The Journey Ahead, you’ll find an          Not all of what users share is accurate. IPI’s Alison Bethel McKenzie
essay about a more fundamental issue written by Alex Jones, au-          points out the challenge of sorting out truth from rumor in the
thor of the 2009 book, “Losing the News,” that helped inspire the        blizzard of social media that followed the 2009 Iranian elections.
second part of the IPI Congress title.                                   With foreign correspondents thrown out of the country, it fell to
                                                                         people on the street to document with cell phone cameras and text
Securing Coverage of the ‘Commons’                                       updates the stories of the uprising that ensued. In an early exam-
Jones highlights a concern also raised by South Africa’s Ferial          ple of the sort of collaboration that will be required going forward,
Haffajee and others in the report: “It is easily possible to know        journalists in London, the US and elsewhere stepped in to provide
in depth about your favorite sports team or an automobile acci-          the fact-checking and context understandably missing from
dent in your neighborhood,” Jones writes, “but to be utterly un-         reports from the streets.
aware of genocide in Africa... to know little about the broad pic-
ture that includes points of view that are foreign in every re-          Along the way, journalists and their new partners will need to
spect.”                                                                  wrestle with their often conflicting views of such values as verifi-
                                                                         cation, transparency, accountability and fairness. Collaboration
He adds: “That is not an enhancement of democracy. The most              will be key with a whole range of partners, not just the blogos-
democratic – meaning, the non-customized view of the world – is          phere. News organizations are also developing new alliances with
the one that is most apt to be created with the idea of informing a      NGOs, universities and even competitors.
lot of people with diverse interests and backgrounds.”
                                                                         The St. Petersburg Times, owned by the Poynter Institute and the
The key to saving the news, Jones argues, is the editorial decision-     largest newspaper in Florida, has merged its reporting from the
making exercised by “the old-fashioned and disparaged editor             state capital with its state-wide rival, the Miami Herald.
with independent judgment...”
                                                                         The pace of all this change can be overwhelming. International
The loss of such professionals has damaged journalism’s capacity         media consultant Fernando Samaniego says media executives
for public service in ways that Greenslade acknowledges he un-           sometimes respond to his call for urgent action by suggesting that
derestimated: “I frankly admit that I made a mistake some years          the revolution can wait.
ago, while in the first throes of cheering the digital advance, of ad-
vocating the reduction in editorial jobs,” he writes “It was a reason-   “I always tell them that they are dead wrong,” Samaniego writes,
able argument at the time but publishers have taken it to an un-         “because their readers/clients have discovered the Internet and...
reasonable limit.”                                                       will bypass traditional media if they are not offered quality content.”

Greenslade says journalists must focus now on the construction           The essays collected here suggest no reason to wait. The issues of
of “a bridge from old to new media in order to preserve the best of      press freedom that moved those 34 founding editors to take action
what we have in order to enhance the good that is to come.”              60 years ago are ever more urgent. As IPI’s Bethel McKenzie notes,
                                                                         there’s no let-up in powerful forces erecting barriers to the free-
Some of that “good to come” is already being created by newcom-          dom of information that’s a fundamental, universal right.
ers to the world of journalism, contributors to an emerging ecosys-
tem of news who are no longer content simply to receive reports          Around the globe, journalists and their collaborators are discov-
produced by others.                                                      ering the tools and tactics that can yield new routes for news and,
                                                                         in the process, protect the rights common to us all.
Steve Buttry points out that journalists have long relied on com-
munity members for eye-witness accounts of news that journal-            Bill Mitchell leads the Entrepreneurial Journalism and International programs
ists missed. Many people have stopped waiting for reporters to           at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. To
show up and are just publishing their observations on their own,         contact any of the authors in this report – or to suggest follow-up discussions
a trend that enterprising news organizations are beginning to pick       of any of the issues raised – send an email to
up on as they incorporate some of that content.

6       IPI REPORT
Tags: Linked, Networked, Partnered, Sustained

News as a Service to
be Sustained Rather than
a Product to be Sold
By Jeff Jarvis

A new news ecosystem is                              e must blow up our concep-         in content-and-ad networks, competing
                                       tion of a news organization—and news.            with the Washington Post and its much
forming, in which newspapers
                                       Very soon, we had better hope that news-         heavier cost burden.
are part of networks that enable       papers aren’t just papers any more but are
                                       valued members of larger networks that           In Brooklyn, my colleagues and our stu-
communities to share and make
                                       enable their communities to gather, share,       dents at the City University of New York
sense of information.                  and make sense of the news they need.            Graduate School of Journalism are running
                                                                                        The Local with the New York Times. We are
                                       Communities won’t need news organiza-            working together to nurture a new ecosys-
Editor’s Note: We asked Jeff           tions to gather and share information;           tem, training members of the community
                                       using technology, they are starting to do        in media and journalism and training citi-
Jarvis, the author, journalism
                                       that on their own at a marginal cost of zero.    zen sales forces to sell new forms of service
professor and media visionary,         Journalists and publishers then must ask         to local merchants.
                                       how they can add value to that process,
to update an essay he wrote
                                       how they can become platforms (Google-           At Journal Register, a beleaguered and re-
three years ago for the World As-      like) for conversation and sharing, for ask-     cently bankrupt newspaper chain, new
                                       ing questions and getting answers, for           CEO John Paton decreed that his staff
sociation of Newspapers. The
                                       pooling knowledge and holding debate, for        should put digital first and print last as he
topic: “Newspapers in 2020.”           adding reporting, for building new ecosys-       remakes his company collaborating with
                                       tems of news.                                    local blog networks built by startup
                                                                                        Growthspur. The company (I’m among its
                                       The journalists may offer technology and         advisors) has found new efficiencies even
                                       training as well as reporting. The publish-      in print (on 4 July, all 18 of its dailies were
                                       ers may set up networks that help sustain        published using only free online tools).
                                       their members with advertising, events,
                                       services, and other sources of value and         Yes, we see the beginnings. But we still have
                                       revenue. One company will yield to 100           not been nearly radical enough in rethink-
                                       companies, each smaller but—thanks to            ing what a newspaper is.
                                       the efficiencies of collaboration and spe-
                                       cialization and the higher value of target-      So what is a newspaper? That’s what young
                                       ing—each more efficient and profitable.          people may soon ask. Jeffrey Cole of the
                                                                                        USC Annenberg School’s Center for the
                                       In the US, I see the first seeds of such a new   Digital Future concluded from one of his
                                       ecosystem of news emerging.                      surveys of Internet use a few years ago that
                                                                                        people 12-to-25 years old—who’ll be in the
                                       In Washington, DC,, started by the       golden 25-to-38 demographic in 2020 –
                                       company that owns POLITICO, will cover           will “never read a newspaper.” Never is a
                                       Washington with a few dozen journalists          strong word. Phil Meyer famously pre-
                                       collaborating with scores of local bloggers      dicted in his book “The Vanishing News-

8       IPI REPORT
Below: Google News stories are
aggregated by Newsmap according to
the frequency at which the stories
appear – allowing users to quickly
identify stories with the most coverage
in a particular region.

paper” that if current trend lines continue,   tages is not a viable strategy for growth—or   could create a community. The famously
the last American paper will be published      survival.                                      laconic Zuckerberg’s response: “You can’t.”
in 2043 (or sooner perhaps). Let that word,                                                   Full stop.
too, sink in: last.                            I’ll argue that a newspaper isn’t even a
                                               product. Journalism is a service, a process,   Later, Zuckerberg explained that commu-
So get ahead of the curve for once. Kill the   an organizing principle. And thanks to the     nities already exist and are already doing
newspaper yourself. Pick a date in the less-   technology that some think is a threat to      what they want to do, so the question we
distant-than-you-think future and unplug       newspapers—the Internet—that service can       should ask is how we can help them do that
the press. And then ask: What’s a newspa-      now expand in so many ways, turning a          better. Zuckerberg’s prescription: Bring
per? What is its real value? And how does      newspaper into something new and some-         them “elegant organization.” When you
that value live on and grow past paper?        thing more—at a lower cost. So rather than     think about it, that is the essence of what
                                               asking what a newspaper will be, I think we    journalism has tried to do: It helps organize
Oh, printed products may well continue         should ask what a news organization’s rela-    a community’s knowledge so that a better-
and in some countries still grow. But I        tionship with its community can be.            informed society can accomplish the goals
wouldn’t mourn their death so long as we                                                      it sets for itself.
find ways for their journalism to live on,     I am reminded of a moment at the 2007
change, and grow. For a newspaper mustn’t      World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.         Do what you do best and link to the rest
define itself by its medium. It isn’t just     In a session of the International Media        So I suggest that news organizations turn
paper. Its strength and value do not come      Council, a leading newspaper publisher be-     themselves into service companies, en-
from controlling content or distribution.      seeched Facebook founder Mark Zucker-          abling and training networks of local blog-
And protecting those dwindling advan-          berg for advice on how his newspaper           gers and specialized news sources to sprout

                                                                                                                        IPI REPORT       9
up in their communities. They should en-
able others to succeed at creating content
so the news organizations don’t have to go
to all that expense alone, so they have
something to link to.

The link frees them from the need to waste
their ever-dwindling resources on com-          ganizations and the US government to             networks and of the savings realized by
modity information the community al-            school on modern media economics in a            eliminating print and distribution costs. As
ready knows. They no longer need to recre-      recent response to Federal Trade Commis-         a result of building a strong, collaborative
ate the same news everyone else has. They       sion ideas for saving (old) news: “The large     relationship with the community, they’ll be
can link to it. They no longer need to be all   profit margins newspapers enjoyed in the         able to rely more on word of mouth – as op-
things to all people. They can link to spe-     past were built on an artificial scarcity:       posed to expensive marketing campaigns –
cialized coverage that is better than what      Limited choice for advertisers as well as        to sell products and services of real value to
they could have afforded to offer them-         readers,” Google said. “With the Internet,       customers. (No, I do not think that pay
selves. They also no longer need to waste       that scarcity has been taken away and re-        walls are news’ salvation.)
resources on ego, on all having their own       placed by abundance. No policy proposal
television critics, on sending one-too-         will be able to restore newspaper revenues       Even smaller, how do they make sufficient
many reporters to the big story that is all     to what they were before the emergence of        revenue in the future once print advertis-
over TV just so they can say they did. They     online news. It is not a question of analog      ing disappears (along with print’s costs)? I
can collaborate. The link economy de-           dollars versus digital dimes, but rather a re-   believe that newspapers can and should
mands that they do what they do best and        alistic assessment of how to make money          put themselves at the center of revenue
link to the rest.                               in a world of abundant competitors and           networks for the new, emerging media
                                                consumer choice.”                                ecosystems in their communities.
They must find other efficiencies in the or-
ganization as well. For the economics of        Accept this new reality. Then what? News         That is what we saw in research we did at
media have inexorably changed. On its           organizations must operate on a radically        CUNY on the local news ecosystem. We
public policy blog, Google took news or-        smaller scale, taking advantage of content       found hyperlocal bloggers across the US

10      IPI REPORT
                                               they cannot afford to waste effort on com-         The next question: Can the market meet
                                               modity news and production. And there              that demand? That’s why we are perform-
                                               still is a citywide news organization, but it      ing our research at CUNY. We believe we
                                               is smaller and much more efficient.                are seeing credible ways for the market to
 Rather than asking what                                                                          advance. And we are seeing entrepreneurs
                                               There is, I believe, a future for news. It’s not   seize that opportunity.
 a newspaper will be, ask                      guaranteed. It won’t appear on its own. It
 what a news organization’s                    must be built, if not by the incumbent in-         Then the big question is, again: What can
                                               stitutions then more likely by the entrepre-       and should news be? And I don’t mean it’s
 relationship with its                         neurial journalism students I’m training at        an iPad app; thinking that way isn’t rein-
 community can be.                             CUNY (whose best opportunity is to disrupt         venting news but is more often a sad at-
                                               the legacy players).                               tempt to hold onto old models of news. No,
pulling in $200,000 in ad revenue and we                                                          I mean, what relationship will news have to
believe that could reach $350,000 if they      Some suggest that we are seeing a market           its community? How can it open up to be-
were able to join networks – networks that     failure in news. I disagree. We are seeing a       come collaborative, networked, efficient,
news organizations could create. Those         failure of imagination by some—only                and sustainable? That is our challenge and
news organizations can make money from         some—of those legacy players. They are the         opportunity.
selling top-down advertising and also from     ones making themselves vulnerable to new
new revenue sources: events, education,        and efficient competition by not reinvent-
data, and more.                                ing themselves and instead by resisting in-
                                               evitable change and hiding behind the
You can find our research at newsinnova-       skirts of government, seeking to get regula- and our models (which you are         tion to grant them an uneven playing field
free to download and change) at newsinno-      by expanding copyright or limiting fair use The assumptions in          or enabling pricing collusion or handcuff-
these models are focused on an American        ing Google.
market, to be sure: In the US we do not
have the strong and varied national media      Google, by the way, is not news’ enemy. It
of European nations; we have stronger          sends publishers four billion clicks a
local governments that demand stronger         month, four billion opportunities to build
coverage; and we do not have the growth of     a relationship with readers and find value
print readership that newspapers in some       there. If they can’t, that’s not Google’s fault;
nations enjoy. Still, many of the dynamics     it’s theirs. Rather than treating Google as
and opportunities presented by the Inter-      the enemy, news executives should see it as
net will be universal. So it’s worth looking   a model of success in a new marketplace.
at the various experiments under way in        They should be asking (pardon me for
the US as a canary in the coalmine (and the    plugging my book): What would Google
canary is tilting on its perch).               do?

The ecosystem we envisioned in our CUNY        It’s way too soon to give up on the market.        Jeff Jarvis heads the Center for Entrepreneurial
research had more than 100 companies,          Google certainly hasn’t.                           Journalism at the City University of New York Grad-
many owned by journalists, with about 250                                                         uate School of Journalism. He writes about media
full-time-equivalent staff for content—an      So the real questions are: Will there be a         and technology for his blog,, and
equivalent resource to what exists in the      market demand for reporting and journal-           the Guardian in the UK. He is the author of “What
newsroom of a paper in such a city today.      ism? It’s a leap of faith, perhaps, but I be-      Would Google Do?” and is at work on his next book,
But these journalists are much closer and      lieve there will be. If not, news and in-          “Public Parts.”
more accountable to their communities;         formed democracies are sunk.

                                                                                                                               IPI REPORT          11
Tags: Linked, Networked

Openness, Collaboration
Key to New Information
By Alan Rusbridger

The Guardian’s success with
experimentation in journalism
suggests linked information is
                                 I n 2009 you could smell the fear. As banks
                                 crashed and the recession hit, even the
                                 grandest media companies trembled a lit-
                                 tle. We had all known for some time that
                                 the revolution we’re all living through
                                                                                   be done – and what, even as we eventually
                                                                                   submit to sleep, others are busy doing.

                                                                                   We think the future is about endless exper-
                                                                                   imentation, that this is a journey which has
a path to the future.
                                 would at some stage get really tough. But,        barely begun. To us it seems fairly evident
                                 for many, as advertising drained out of our       there are two features of this new informa-
                                 pages and websites, thoughts of survival          tion ecosystem which it would be foolish to
                                 clouded out all else.                             ignore, whichever camp you’re in: Open-
                                                                                   ness and collaboration.
                                 It’s hardly time to relax yet in 2010 but – for
                                 the moment – we can come up for air and           Openness is shorthand for the way in
                                 look at the landscape. How has it changed?        which the vast majority of information is,
                                                                                   and will continue to be, part of a larger net-
                                 Well, much depends on how you saw the             work, only a tiny proportion of which is
                                 revolution in the first place. It’s now a         created by journalists. Information may
                                 cliché of media life that these are both the      not want to be free, but it does want to be
                                 best of times and the worst of times. Those       linked. It’s difficult to think of any informa-
                                 who were seized by the opportunity and            tion in the modern world which doesn’t ac-
                                 possibility of digital transformation will be-    quire more meaning, power, richness, con-
                                 lieve in pushing ahead even faster. Those         text, substance and impact by being intelli-
                                 who were wavering or skeptical in the first       gently linked to other information.
                                 place may want to apply the brakes.
                                                                                   Collaboration refers to the way we can take
                                 I tend, by nature, towards the first camp.        this openness one stage further. By collab-
                                 Those in the second camp have a rude              orating with this vast network of linked in-
                                 word for us: Utopians. They believe we            formation - and those who are generating
                                 have stars in our eyes and have failed to see     and sharing it - we can be infinitely more
                                 what, to them, is blindingly obvious: That        powerful than if we believe we have to gen-
                                 the time for playing around has to stop. It’s     erate it all ourselves.
                                 time for some hard-nosed realities.
                                                                                   The rather clumsy name we’ve given this
                                 Utopians can’t stop thinking about the pos-       openness/collaboration theme at the
                                 sibilities ahead: We literally lie awake at       Guardian is mutualisation. It’s an attempt
                                 night fighting off the thoughts of what can       to capture the energy and possibilities we

                                                                                                                        Below: The Guardian
                                                                                                                        newsrooms, London.

can imagine from working with readers
and others to be a different kind of news or-

Some examples of where it has borne fruit:

● An investigation into corporate tax
avoidance. This was an area where some of
our readers almost certainly knew more
than we did about an infinitely complex
matrix of international accountancy, law
and high finance. We appealed for their
help in finding the information and in in-
terpreting it. It worked. We were sent some
extremely interesting leads – and readers
saved us a lot of time, trouble and expense
by advising us on the meaning of docu-
ments and transactions.

● The death of Ian Tomlinson. Traditional
reporting completely failed to uncover the
true story behind the death of an innocent
man at the G20 conference in London in
2009. It took one reporter, Twitter, and the
collaboration of thousands of readers to
find the digital record of the moment a po-
liceman struck Tomlinson. Conventional
reporting would not have revealed the            possible task for conventional newsroom        five or six full time writers on the subject,
truth as quickly if at all.                      to handle. We built a widget that allowed      we realized we would not be able to do it
                                                 23,000 Guardian readers to help us identify    justice alone. So we created a Guardian En-
● Trafigura. A “super-injunction”1 granted       the important documents.                       vironment Network whereby we host the
by the British Courts and aggressive action                                                     best contributions from some of the excel-
by the oil trading firm’s lawyers prevented      ● Comment is Free. In addition to a tradi-     lent websites and blogs that already cover
the reporting of documents and parlia-           tional op-ed section – with a handful of       the subject. We gain: the content on the site
mentary questions about the dumping of           staff writers – we built a site where hun-     is deeper, better and generally more com-
toxic waste in Africa, together with the in-     dreds of experts, most of them non-jour-       prehensive than we could ever achieve
juries and deaths which it was claimed           nalists and most of them writing for no        ourselves. Our partners gain by being ex-
were associated with the dumping. Again,         payment, have their say and thousands of       posed to much greater traffic (we currently
the use of Twitter led to thousands of peo-      others join in the argument. The result is a   have 32-35 million unique visitors a
ple ferreting out the suppressed informa-        comment website which is much richer           month) and from a share of revenues from
tion and to the company backing down             and more diverse than we                                       advertising.
from legal action. The collaboration of          could possibly achieve in      Utopians like me
thousands of strangers achieved some-            print alone or without in-                                   ● Travel. The traditional
thing a newspaper on its own would have          volving numerous other
                                                                                think the future              travel section sends writers
struggled with – but it needed a newspa-         people.                        of journalism is              off to distant parts to report
per’s investigative skills to get the informa-                                                                back. Why not harness the
tion in the first place.                         ● Environment. We built a
                                                                                about endless                 people who live there, or
                                                 website with real ambition     experimentation,              who know the places better
● MPs expenses. Reviewing 400,000 docu-          to cover this most impor-                                    than any visting travel
ments released by parliament posed an im-        tant of issues. Even with
                                                                                that this is a                writer? We can have hun-
                                                                                journey which has
                                                                                barely begun.                             IPI REPORT          13
                                                                                                    Left: YouTube video captured
                                                                                                    during the 2009 G20 protests
                                                                                                    in London reveals an assault
                                                                                                    by police officers as the cause
                                                                                                    of Ian Tomlinson’s death.

                                                                                                    rative with, the countless people who are
                                                                                                    with us on that journey. I don’t see that as
                                                                                                    particularly utopian. I think of it as a basic
dreds of contributions about a particular       erally little by way of response. The next          necessity for survival.
city, recommending bars, museums, hotels        day you’d move onto the next story.
and activities – much more comprehensive                                                            1
                                                                                                      A super-injunction is one in which the existence
and knowledgeable than we could aspire to       Everything about that tidy world has                of the injunction, and the accompanying court
in the past.                                    changed. Smart reporters now often in-              proceedings, cannot be reported.

                                                volve their contacts or readers or ‘commu-
These are all examples of openness and col-     nities’ in research – i.e., the “life” of a story
laboration in our journalism. In some of        may begin well before it is actually pub-
the above examples, our journalists started     lished. A reporter may choose not to write
something: It could begin with a story or an    a story at all, but to blog it. A blog need not
old-fashioned investigation. In other cases     ‘report’ a story in the conventional way: it
our involvement can be confined to edit-        can link to other reports and to source ma-
ing, or moderating the response.                terials. Within minutes of publication most
                                                stories will be subject to challenge or addi-
We are embracing a world where we do not        tion or clarification or correction. How we
imagine that we, as traditionally trained       react to, or incorporate, that challenge is of
journalists, are the only experts or author-    basic concern. A ‘story’, thus told, may
ities. By harnessing the expertise, knowl-      have no obvious natural finishing point.
edge and ideas of others we can build           The resulting piece of journalism is more
something richer than we could alone. We        fluid than its predecessors. It more closely
can begin to think of ourselves as a plat-      resembles the real world, which is rarely
form for others as well as a publisher of our   about neatly cut and dried events with
own.                                            only one narrative version and a finite
There are challenges to how we think of
journalism implicit in all this. One of the     The more we learn to involve others in              Alan Rusbridger is Editor in Chief of the Guardian
most fundamental questions is about how         what we do, the richer and more trusted             Newspaper in London. His editorship has been no-
we think of the basic currency of journal-      our journalism will become. It is certainly         table for pioneering the development of the paper’s
ism - the story. 10 years ago few of us         the way the rest of the Web is going. But it        digital edition, twice voted the best newspaper
would have questioned what a story was: it      is up to us endlessly to experiment and pi-         website in the world. He is also noted for fighting,
was efficient , pyramid-structured way of       oneer these new forms of story-telling.             and winning, a number of high-profile legal cases
telling the reader what happened at a par-                                                          involving free speech issues and corruption in gov-
ticular point in time. It often had a begin-    It is difficult to see how that can be done         ernment.
ning, a middle and an end. There was gen-       except through being open to, and collabo-

14      IPI REPORT
                                                                       Tags: Linked, Networked, Partnered, Sustained

How Technology Turned
News into a Conversation
By Turi Munthe

Collaborative journalism has
changed sourcing, storytelling
and distribution, while it
                                 N            ot even 15 years ago, the only
                                 way for a non-professional journalist to
                                 join the news debate (apart from being its
                                 subject, of course) was to write in to the pa-
                                 pers. And in the UK at least, the likelihood
                                                                                  annotating and distributing global news
                                                                                  stories in ever increasing ways. Technology
                                                                                  has made journalism a conversation be-
                                                                                  tween the reporter and the reader (and
                                                                                  often the participant). Today, the newspa-
reminds us of the value of
                                 of being published in the left-wing press if     pers’ online “letters” pages (also known as
editing.                         you weren’t a trade-union leader was as          the comments stream) on any political arti-
                                 slim as being published in the right-wing        cle on any major news site on the Web can
                                 press if you weren’t a Lord. A rare Oxbridge     run into the hundreds, with rarely a Lord or
                                 academic might merit a mention, but as an        trade-union chief’s missive among them.
                                 exception rather than the rule. The news
                                 was a lecture; op-eds were sermons: jour-        The role of the non-professional journalist
                                 nalism was a job for pulpiteers.                 in the news space has changed every aspect
                                                                                  of the business. For sourcing, I don’t know
                                 Today, news is a conversation:                   a single professional reporter who doesn’t
                                 ● Some of the first pictures of the Hudson       use social media as a feed, and I know of
                                 River plane crash in January 2009 were           many who use it as an encyclopedia. When
                                 published via Twitpic by non-journalist          the MPs expenses scandal broke in the UK,
                                 Janis Krums.                                     the Guardian dropped the nearly half-mil-
                                                                                  lion documents into a public widget that
                                 ● With professional journalists jailed or de-    about 23,000 citizens across the country
                                 ported during the Iran election in June          downloaded and helped dissect.
                                 2009, the world subsisted for a fortnight on
                                 local Twitter updates hash-tagged #iran-         In story-telling, the advantages of immedi-
                                 election that were circulated over one bil-      ate reporter/reader interaction have cre-
                                 lion times, as well as through YouTube, op-      ated a whole new journalistic form in the
                                 position leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s            liveblog which reports, corrects and veri-
                                 Facebook group, and Demotix, which I run.        fies as it publishes in direct communica-
                                                                                  tion with its readers, all in real-time.
                                 ● Twitter – by which I mean thousands of
                                 people’s Twitter feeds – broke the Trafigura     But it is in distribution that ‘people power’
                                 story. Flickr, back in 2005, was the resource    really flexes its muscles. It is no longer ex-
                                 of record for the Kifaya demonstrations in       clusively editors who choose what goes on
                                 Egypt; Blogger for news of the Israel-           the front page anymore – it is you. The un-
                                 Lebanon war in the same year.                    bundling of news on the Web – whereby
                                                                                  you can get your cricket news from Pak-
                                 Non-journalists, through a combination of        istan’s, your business news from
                                 the Web and social networks, are breaking,       London’s Financial Times and your general

                                                                                                            IPI REPORT        15
                                  Through social
                                  networks & other
                                  digital tools, citizens
                                  are increasingly
info from – essen-        breaking, annotating                 it do possibly the most       to marshal into a functioning business
tially means that whatever is                                          important form of news        model. Citizen journalists, which today
most popular amongst your
                                  & distributing global                reporting on its own –        broadly means anyone with a Internet
friends on Facebook, or most      news.                                that is, investigative        connection and an interest in the news, are
tweeted amongst those you                                              journalism.                   part of the solution, not the problem. And
follow on Twitter, or most Digged, Stum-                                                             while, of course, only a tiny fraction of
bledUpon or Reddited will be your front            The trouble is, increasingly, neither can         Web surfers engage with real news, their
page of the day.                                   mainstream news. Although a handful of            engagement with the news has incompa-
                                                   US news organizations still maintain ro-          rably augmented the conversation, and ex-
It’s no surprise then, given the wash of in-       bust foreign news operations, the once            panded its reach.
formation available (and its endless repeti-       mighty foreign staff of the Baltimore Sun
tion, distortion and misattribution), that         has been eliminated and the consolidation         As news organizations, professional jour-
the top-hit news sources on the Web con-           of Tribune Co. staffing overseas has              nalists and geeks figure out new and more
tinue to be the mainstream news outlets.           trimmed those ranks as well.                      efficient ways to harness the power of mil-
Trust is a major factor, but so is that critical                                                     lions of engaged voices and opinions on the
journalistic function: editing. Not just in        The latest State of the News Media report         Web, the quality of global news and report-
the packaging of what is told, but in choos-       found that US newsrooms lost 25 percent           ing and information will explode. And that
ing what counts as news.                           of their staffers over the last three years.      will only accelerate once the media
                                                   Professional journalism has suffered not          moghuls figure out how to fix their busi-
We read the news not just to keep in-              just in foreign reporting, but in domestic        ness models.
formed, but to be part of a conversation –         reporting and investigative journalism
regional, national, communitarian – about          (which is increasingly the bailiwick of the       Spare a thought for them, not for journal-
it. The news around us helps us define our         nonprofit sector, see ProPublica and, in          ism as we know it.
relationship to the world, and to those also       the UK, the Bureau for Investigative Jour-
engaged in defining themselves. Newspa-            nalism).
pers and broadcasters create communities:
just ask CNN viewers what they think               If old-fashioned news reporting has been
about Fox News viewers.                            brutally attacked by the Web’s free-con-
                                                   tent-for-all business-model dictat, it has to
But more than building communities of              look to the Web (and to its highly-in-
interest, old-fashioned journalism also            formed, entrepreneurial reader-cum-ac-
speaks to an understanding of what news            tivist-cum-contributors) for some of its sal-
is that ‘citizen journalism’ cannot, because       vation. Yesterday’s sub-editor is today’s
most news of real interest is built painstak-      commenter (get a fact wrong in an article
ingly and over time. Most news is, in fact, a      online and you’re a global laughing stock).
story.                                             Yesterday’s roving foreign correspondent is
                                                   today an army of local bloggers and local
The kind of news that can be crowd-                stringers.
sourced is bitty, image-led, or data-driven:
Vide the examples above – pictures of sur-         Citizen journalists, amateur photographers
prise events like 9/11 or the tsunami, acci-       and others willing to join the news conver-
dental reporting of the Mayhill Flower va-         sation, or supply their content for free are
riety (who caught Obama referring to dis-          often blamed for the ever-more harried
enfranchised Pennsylvanians who “cling             (and underfunded) lot of the professional
to guns or religion”), or the kind of (fantas-     journalist. They shouldn’t be. If anything is     Turi Munthe is the Founder of Demotix –
tic) work being done by a host of open-            to blame for that, it is the wholesale depar- – the multiple-award winning
data outfits like Ushahidi, WIkiLeaks or the       ture of the classifieds market to independ-       open newswire, with over 3,000 reporters in 190
Open Knowledge Network. What it can’t              ent sites like Craigslist, Facebook, et al, and   countries around the world. Follow him on Twitter
do is tell meaningful, full-length stories         the massively smaller ad revenues of the          @turimunthe or @demotix.
about that information, nor, critically, can       Web that no newspaper site has been able

Tags: Catalyzed, Connected, Volunteered

The Shock of Inclusion and
New Roles for News in the
Fabric of Society
By Clay Shirky

Technological and cultural shifts
have enabled a new coordinated,
voluntary participation in media,
                                    I  f you were in the news business in the
                                      20th century, you worked in a kind of
                                      pipeline, where reporters and editors
                                      would gather facts and observations and
                                      turn them into stories, which were then
                                                                                       we needed permission from the pros, who
                                                                                       had to be convinced to print our letters to
                                                                                       the editor, or to give us a few moments of
                                                                                       airtime on a call-in show.
a “cognitive surplus” that in
                                      committed to ink on paper or waves in the        That pipeline model still shapes the self-
aggregate is changing the nature      air, and finally consumed, at the far end of     conception of working professionals in the
                                      those various modes of transport, by the         news business (at least working profes-
of news and how it is created and
                                      audience.                                        sionals of a certain age), but the gap be-
shared.                                                                                tween that model and the real world has
                                      A pipeline is the simplest metaphor for that     grown large and is growing larger, because
                                      process, whether distribution of news was        the formerly separate worlds of the profes-
                                      organized around the printing press or the       sionals and the amateurs are intersecting
                                      broadcast tower. Part of the conceptual          more dramatically, and more unpre-
                                      simplicity of traditional media came from        dictably, by the day.
                                      the near-total division of the roles between
                                      professionals and amateurs, and the subse-       Cognitive Surplus
                                      quent clarity that division provided. Re-        Here’s a 21st century question: What is
                                      porters and editors (and producers and en-       Wikipedia made of? Or another: What is
                                      gineers) worked “upstream,” which is to say      Flickr, with its billions of photos, made of?
                                      as the source of the news. They created and      Or Wordpress, the open-source blogging
                                      refined the product, decided when it was         platform: What is Wordpress made of?
                                      ready for consumption, and sent it out
                                      when it was, to readers or listeners or view-    The shallow answer is that Wikipedia is
                                      ers.                                             made of words and Flickr is made of pic-
                                                                                       tures and Wordpress is made of code. That’s
                                      Meanwhile, we, the audience, were “down-         true enough, of course, but we had words
                                      stream.” We were the recipients of this          and pictures and code in the 20th century,
                                      product, seeing it only in its final, packaged   and we didn’t get Wikipedia, or anything
                                      form. We could consume it, of course (our        else that relied on a large pool of amateur
                                      principal job), and we could talk about it       contributors.
                                      around the dinner table or the water cooler,
                                      but little more. News was something we           The deeper answer, the answer that’s true
                                      got, not something we used. If we wanted         of all those projects and countless more, is
                                      to put our own observations out in public,       that they are made of coordinated volun-

                                                                                                                    The News Pipeline:
                                                                                                                    a 20th Century

tary participation. The participation part     can change the very idea of news – what it       speech on his own, without institutional
comes from a medium that is implicitly         is, how it is created and experienced and        support; Marshall was an amateur blogger
two-way and group-oriented, a medium           shared.                                          (not yet having incorporated); and the
that makes everyone who connects to it a                                                        source contacted the news outlet, 1,500
potential producer of bits and not just a      How participation has changed news               miles away, rather than vice-versa. No pro-
consumer of them.                              Here are a few surprises in the news busi-       fessionals anywhere in sight.
                                               ness in our little corner of the 21st century,
The voluntary part comes from the stagger-     courtesy of the ability of amateurs, working     In 2005, the London transit system was
ing volume of free time available in the de-   alone and together, to participate and not       bombed. Sir Ian Blair, the head of London’s
veloped world (trillions of hours a year),     just consume:                                    Metropolitan police, went on radio and TV
coupled with human desires to do things                                                         to announce that the the cause had been an
that make us happy, not just things that       In 2002, after Speaker of the House Trent        electrical failure in the underground.
pay us money.                                  Lott praised Strom Thurmond’s segrega-           Within minutes of Blair’s statements, peo-
                                               tionist 1948 campaign, the man that did          ple began posting and analyzing pictures of
And the coordination comes from entre-         Lott in was Ed Sebesta, an amateur histo-        a bombed double-decker bus in Tavistock
preneurs of generosity, people like the        rian who had been tracking racists state-        Square, and in less than two hours, there
founders of Wikipedia or Flickr or Word-       ments made by American politicians to            were hundreds of blog posts analyzing this
press who offer us opportunities to pool       segregationist groups. Shortly after Lott        evidence and explicitly contradicting
our free time, using this group-oriented       said his praise had been an uncharacteris-       Blair’s interpretation.
medium, to make ourselves feel happy or        tic slip, Sebesta contacted Josh Micah Mar-
engaged or satisfied by creating things to-    shall, who ran the blog Talking Points           Seeing this, and overriding the advice of his
gether we couldn't create on our own.          Memo, to share recorded comments made            own communications staff, Blair went on
                                               by Lott dating back to the 1980s.                air again less than two hours later to say
Taken together, this coordinated voluntary                                                      that it had indeed been a bombing, that the
participation is a new resource, a cognitive   These comments help destroy Lott’s ability       police didn’t have all the answers yet, and
surplus that allows us to treat the con-       to characterize his comments as a slip, and      that he would continue reporting as they
nected world’s free time and talents in ag-    led to hims losing his position as Speaker.      knew more. When he spoke to the public,
gregate, as something which, used right,       Sebesta had built the database of racist         Blair had the power of all the traditional

                                                                                                                          IPI REPORT       19
media behind him, but it was clear that         Hanni realized that on the Web, news out-       the Green Uprising, or the chemical com-
merely having a consistent message on           lets could act not just as a source of infor-   pany Trafigura’s inability to preserve the
every broadcast channel in existence was        mation, but as a site of coordination, find-    press injunction of their pollution off the
no longer the same as having control.           ing the people who cared about a particular     Coast of Côte d’ Ivoire, once Twitter users
                                                story and helping them take action to-          got on the case.
In 2006, Kate Hanni was stuck, for 8 hours,     gether. The US airline industry had success-
on a flight that landed in Dallas during a      fully fought off pressure to create any new     The cognitive surplus of the former audi-
lightning storm, while the airline refused to   rights for passengers for decades, but          ence is increasingly driving hybrid profes-
allow passengers off the plane. She was as      within three years of the launch of Hanni’s     sional-amateur models that would have
furious as all the other passengers who’ve      group, first New York State and then the US     been both unthinkable and unworkable
ever experienced such a thing, but she de-      Congress passed a Passengers Bill of Rights,    even 10 years ago: ProPublica covering
cided to do something about it. She             largely because Hanni had used the press to     every Iowa caucus in 2008 with citizen
founded a pressure group agitating for an       turn an unorganized group of angry pas-         journalists, a feat that would have bank-
air passengers bill or rights, and then she     sengers into an organized group of angry        rupted them had they done it with
set about recruiting members by finding         passengers.                                     stringers; the reshaping of Korean presi-
online newspaper accounts of flight delays,                                                     dential politics by Ohmynews, a pro-am
and posting about her nascent group in the      On and on this list goes: Tehrani protestors    journalism site; the Guardian’s crowd-
comments of those articles.                     using their camera phones to document           sourcing its tracking of the expenses of UK

20      IPI REPORT
                                                                                               Left: Former Speaker of the
                                                                                               US House of Representatives,
                                                                                               Senator Trent Lott announces
                                                                                               his retirement after allegations
                                                                                               of racism broken by blog
                                                                                               site Talking Points Memo.

                                                                                               Page 20: Trafigura trending
                                                                                               on Twitter, 13 October 2009

                                                                                                What’s going away isn’t
                                                                                                the importance of news,
                                                                                                or the importance of
                                                                                                dedicated professionals.
                                                                                                What’s going away is the
                                                                                                passivity of the audience.
Members of Parliament, because the job,         son can clip one newspaper column and          zens can now engage in. The kinds of
done by employees, would not just have          mail it to one other person, but to catalyze   changes that are coming will dwarf those
cost too much but taken too long.               mass action takes something likes Kate         we’ve already seen, as citizen involvement
                                                Hanni’s use of the Web.                        stops being a set of special cases, and be-
Now journalists have always used tip lines                                                     comes a core to our conception of how
and man-in-the-street interviews, and con-      What’s going away, from the pipeline           news can be, and should be, part of the fab-
sumers have always clipped and forwarded        model, isn’t the importance of news, or the    ric of society.
favorite articles. What’s new here isn’t the    importance of dedicated professionals.
possibility of occasional citizen involve-      What’s going away is the linearity of the
ment. What’s new is the speed and scale         process, and the passivity of the audience.
and leverage of that involvement, the pos-      What’s going away is a world where the
sibility of persistent, dramatic amounts of     news was only made by professionals, and
citizen involvement. What’s new is that         consumed by amateurs who couldn’t do
making public statements no longer re-          much to produce news on their own, or to
quires professional outlets, that citizens      distribute it, or to act on it en masse.
now have tools that enable them to assem-
ble around causes they care about without       We are living through a shock of inclusion,
needing to live near each other.                where the former audience is becoming in-
                                                creasingly intertwined with all aspects of
This is a change in degree so large, in other   news, as sources who can go public on their
words, that it amounts to a change in kind.     own, as groups that can both create and
As Steven Levy observed, writing about the      comb through data in ways the profession-
iPod, when you make something 10 per-           als can’t, as disseminators and syndicators
cent better, you’ve created an improve-         and users of the news.
ment, but when you make something
10 times better, you’ve made a new thing.       This shock of inclusion is coming from the
                                                outside in, driven not by the professionals
So it is with the harnessing our our cogni-     formerly in charge, but by the former audi-
tive surplus. Tip lines only worked in geo-     ence. It is also being driven by new news
graphically local areas, but Ed Sebesta was     entrepreneurs, the men and women who           Clay Shirky teaches and writes on the social and
able to find Josh Micah Marshall halfway        want to build new kinds of sites and serv-     economic effects of Internet technologies. He is the
across the country. Man-in-the-street inter-    ices that assume, rather than ignore, the      Edward R. Murrow Lecturer at Harvard’s Shoren-
views are random, because the profession-       free time and talents of the public.           stein Center on Media and Public Policy and a Fel-
als controlled the mode and tempo of pub-                                                      low at the Berkman Center for the Internet and
lic utterances, but with Flickr and weblogs,    This a change so varied and robust that we     Society. Shirky is the author of “Here Comes Every-
British bloggers could discuss the London       need to consider retiring the word ‘con-       body” and “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Gen-
bombings in public, at will, and with no        sumer’ altogether, and treat consumption       erosity in a Connected Age.”
professionals anywhere in sight. One per-       as simply one behavior of many that citi-

                                                                                                                                  IPI REPORT    21
Tags: Democratized, Distributed, Networked, Trusted

Fifth Estate Joins the Fourth
in Push for Freedom of
Expression and the Press
By William H. Dutton

If the Fourth Estate is defined as
traditional media institutions,
the new, networked power
                                      T       he creative and economic chal-
                                       lenges posed by Internet-enabled digital
                                       media now top the agenda of most tradi-
                                       tional print and broadcast enterprises. The
                                       growing popularity of, and trust in, the In-
                                                                                         estates as the legislative, executive and ju-
                                                                                         dicial branches of government in the US),
                                                                                         the identification of the Fourth Estate with
                                                                                         independent, free news media has re-
                                                                                         mained consistent. It is based on philoso-
brokers of the Internet can be
                                       ternet relative to other media is one of the      pher Edmund Burke’s coining of the phrase
defined as the Fifth Estate,           most important developments of recent             in the 18th Century to identify the Re-
                                       years. For example, Internet users in             porters’ Gallery in the British Parliament as
which faces unique challenges
                                       Britain view the network as being more es-        becoming more important than the other
and requires unique protections.       sential as a source of information than tel-      three Estates. The emerging Fifth Estate has
                                       evision or newspapers. Moreover, users            distinctive characteristics that identify it as
                                       trust the information they can obtain on-         more than simply an extension or adjunct
                                       line as much as broadcast news and more           to the Fourth Estate. Unlike the original es-
                                       than they trust newspapers.                       tates, it is not based on an institution but on
                                                                                         a new ‘network of networks’ space, or plat-
                                       Such analyses of the nature of actual Inter-      form. This is independent of other estates
                                       net use helps to reveal how this kind of          and can be used by individuals to reconfig-
                                       ‘new media’ has enabled an emerging ‘Fifth        ure their access locally and globally to in-
                                       Estate’ of networked individuals (Dutton          formation, people and other resources in
                                       2009). This complements and competes              ways that enable them to enhance their
                                       with the traditional press, the Fourth Estate     ‘communicative power’ relative to institu-
                                       of one-to-many mass media. It also opens          tions of the other estates.
                                       new ways of making government, media
                                       and other institutions more socially ac-          This enhanced communicative power of
                                       countable. Protection of freedom of expres-       networked individuals rather than institu-
                                       sion and open access to information on the        tions helps to change outcomes. When
                                       Internet is therefore likely to be as central     people read the news online rather than in
                                       to democratic processes as freedom of the         a newspaper or magazine, they frequently
                                       press has been for the mass media.                come across stories they would not have
                                                                                         seen otherwise; and the relationship be-
                                       The concept of ‘estates of the realm’ origi-      tween media producers, gatekeepers and
                                       nally related to divisions in feudal society      consumers are changed profoundly when
                                       between the clergy, nobility and the com-         previously passive audiences generate and
                                       mons. Although the characterization of            distribute their own blogs and when
                                       these estates has evolved (e.g. the first three   search engines point to numerous sources

       Protesters demonstrate against the MPs’
       expenses scandal outside the Westminster
       Magistrates Court in central London, 11
       March, 2010. Four British MP’s appeared in
       court for their allegedly shady practices
       in filing their expense claims.

reflecting different views on the same              against traditional media. The two-sided       individuals to challenge such controls. For
news item or topic. The ability to hold             nature of the Internet means that the way      example, the website ac-
other estates more socially accountable             it opens doors to a cascading array of user-   cepts and publishes reports from Internet
through the interplay between ever-                 generated innovations and content also al-     users of inaccessible sites around the world,
changing networks of networks in the Fifth          lows in techniques that can block online       while the OpenNet Initiative and Reporters
Estate does not in itself mean the Internet         access and comprehensively monitor and         Sans Frontièrs (RSF) are among the groups
inevitably empowers all its users directly.         filter Internet traffic.                       campaigning in this area.
Instead, it supports access to online re-
sources that both incorporate and go be-            These attempts are typified by the Chinese     The RSF website includes the Internet as
yond the resources of more traditional in-          government’s efforts to control Internet       one of its sections detailing restrictions on
stitutions (e.g. local newspaper, library,          content, creating the ‘Great Firewall of       freedom of expression and physical intim-
university or government office). Individ-          China’. There are many other examples, in-     idation of journalists and bloggers around
uals can then network with information              cluding the Burmese government closing         the world, which indicates similarities be-
and people in ways that can change their            down the country’s Internet service during     tween freedom of speech issues online and
relationships with more institutionalized           political protests in 2007 and a court order   offline, as stressed by the US Secretary of
centres of authority in the other estates.          in Pakistan in May 2010 stopping the use of    State, Hillary Clinton.
                                                    a Facebook page called ‘Everybody Draw
Fifth Estate Faces Threats to Freedom of            Mohammed Day!’ as the portrayal of the         However, the democratic implications of
Speech and Freedom of Information                   Prophet Mohammed is against Islamic            the Fifth Estate are far broader than such
The enhanced communicative power of                 teachings.                                     overlaps between new and traditional
networked individuals has led to many at-                                                          media. Research at the Oxford Internet In-
tempts to censor and control the Fifth Es-          At the same time, as the Internet diffuses     stitute (OII) has shown that Internet users
tate which are equivalent to those used             worldwide it is being used by networked        increasingly go online as their first port of

                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT      23
call when looking for information on all        The communicative power of these net-             the existence of a Fifth Estate role of net-
types of subjects. Networked individuals        worked individuals crucially depends on           worked individuals as a key democratic
can also mobilize political campaigns effec-    open access to information and the tools to       constraint on unacceptable activities, as re-
tively, as occurred to boost the election of    analyse it. In 2009, for instance, the Daily      flected in the subsequent coalition govern-
President Obama in 2008.                        Telegraph newspaper bought a disk con-            ment’s announcement that “greater trans-
                                                taining full details of the expenses of UK        parency across Government is at the heart
People involved in a particular sphere,         Members of Parliament, which led to the ex-       of our shared commitment to enable the
such as medical professionals and patients,     posure of what were generally regarded as         public to hold politicians and public bodies
can also use the Internet to reach trusted      many unacceptable practices. As the news-         to account”. A key element in this policy is
online sources of information and services      paper owned the disk, it could still act as the   to publish more information online in ‘user
in their field of interest and not be limited   gatekeeper in analysing and disseminating         friendly’ forms, including detailed depart-
to their local practice or organization.        the information according to its own prior-       mental plans and all new items of central
                                                ities. In response to the re-                                   government spending over
Growing numbers within institutions             sultant public outrage with    The growing                      £25,000 ($38,535).
rooted in the other estates are also net-       politicians, and the limita-
working beyond the boundaries of their or-      tions of the press, the gov-
                                                                               popularity of,                  Protecting the Openness of
ganizations. This has led to geographically     ernment at the time legis-     and trust in, the               the Fifth Estate
distributed individuals coming together         lated to ensure all expenses                                   The democratizing potential
online, form collaborative network organ-       would in future be pub-
                                                                               Internet relative               of the Fifth Estate could be lost
izations to co-produce new information          lished on the Web, avail-      to other media                  if inappropriate forms of In-
products and services. The online ency-         able to all to analyse.                                        ternet regulation are intro-
clopaedia Wikipedia and open source soft-
                                                                               is one of the                   duced that restrict its open-
ware products such as the Firefox browser       The government’s move          most important                  ness and creativity. Yet, ten-
are examples of this phenomenon.                implicitly acknowledged                                        sions with other estates result-
                                                                               developments of
24      IPI REPORT
                                                                               recent years.
Left: A court-ban of Facebook’s
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
is met with enthusiastic support
from Islamic protestors.

The Fifth Estate and other institutions: partnerships and threats

Traditional Estate                  Modern                                Type of threat to Fifth Estate            Partnership opportunity

1st: Clergy                         Public intellectuals                  Internet as an amateurs’ space            World wide research networks; sci-
                                                                          without expert knowledge and              ence commons; experts’ websites
                                                                          analytical rigour.                        and blogs.

2nd: Nobility                       Economic elites                       Centralization of information             Collaborative network organiza-
                                                                          utilities; commercialization of Fifth     tions; new online relationships with
                                                                          Estate spaces.                            customers.

3rd: Commons                        Government                            Censorship, regulation and other          Online innovations in engagements
                                                                          controls that constrain and block         with citizens (e-democracy;
                                                                          Internet access.                          e-government).

4th: Press                          Mass media                            Competition for                           Use of Fifth Estate spaces to com-
                                                                          audiences, funding; charging for          plement traditional media.
                                                                          access to information.

Mob                                 Citizens, audiences, consumers,       Undermining of trust in the Internet      Informed, helpful fora (e.g. on med-
                                    Internet users                        through malicious (e.g. spam,             ical and other specialist issues);
                                                                          hacking) and accidental uses.             greater democratic engagement.

ing from the Internet’s role in challenging       ‘the Mob’ by Burke. Over-commercializa-
traditional institutions could lead to de-        tion of the Internet and the activities of ma-
mands for such restrictions. As Table 1 il-       licious users in the lay public are among
lustrates, threats emanate from each of the       the key threats.
four estates. Public intellectuals, a contem-
porary equivalent of the clergy, have at-         It is important therefore to formulate
tacked the Fifth Estate as amateurs, not          guidelines for appropriate regulations to
worthy of serious attention. However, the         protect participants in the Fifth Estate of
amateurs can complement and enlarge the           the Internet realm. These should address
public agenda since they are not part of the      threats to the Fifth Estate as well as support
pack. Economic elites, today’s nobility, are      areas of productive and creative coopera-
generating wealth through the Internet,           tion.
but place the Fifth Estate at risk in building
monopolies that will jeopardize trust in
search and information sources. Govern-
ments, representing the commons, are
placing increasing controls on freedom of
speech and information, such as out of
concern for privacy, security and consumer                                                            William H. Dutton is Director of the Oxford Inter-
protection. The Fourth Estate is emulating                                                            net Institute, Professor of Internet Studies, Univer-
aspects of the Fifth Estate, but also seeking                                                         sity of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College. He is
to co-opt its users and producers. Finally,                                                           also Principal Investigator of the Oxford e-Social
among its wide base of users are malicious                                                            Science (OeSS) Project.
individuals, whom might have been called

                                                                                                                                     IPI REPORT          25
Tags: Bloody, Diminished, Linked, Transition

The Journalism Business
and Business of Journalism
Must Align More Closely in
the Future
By Roy Greenslade

The sometimes-uncomfortable
marriage of commerce and
public service has become
                                        W              here are we going? That
                                        question, and variants of it, is the one I am
                                        asked most often by practising journalists
                                        and, most particularly, by increasingly con-
                                        cerned students about to embark on media
                                                                                          I am troubled by the way in which others
                                                                                          who share this vision of a coming golden
                                                                                          age appear to be untroubled by the prob-
                                                                                          lems we are now facing. Unlike too many of
                                                                                          them, I am deeply concerned by this in-
increasingly strained for news
                                        careers.                                          creasingly bloody period of transition be-
organizations. As cost cutting                                                            cause we are losing journalists with valu-
                                        My answer? I always tell them I don’t really      able skills and, at the same time, failing to
on the one side has limited
                                        know. It has the virtue of honesty, though I      forge a meaningful online strategy that
journalism on the other, will           note the raising of eyebrows.                     melds the best of “old” mainstream jour-
                                                                                          nalism with the emerging “new” journal-
democracy be the victim?
                                        After all, I have called myself a digital revo-   ism.
                                        lutionary. I have espoused the panacea of a
                                        participatory, inter-connected, linked jour-      Old media is on its knees and, in the
                                        nalism. I want to consign to the dustbin of       process, is destroying journalism. Its
                                        history the undemocratic vertical relation-       owners and managers, confronted with
                                        ship between us, the secular priests known        crisis, have chosen to dispense with the
                                        as journalists and the readers, formerly          people who produce words – the informa-
                                        known as the audience.                            tion-seeking, news-gathering, story-writ-
                                                                                          ing, headline-composing, picture-making
                                        In its place I envisage a horizontal relation-    staff.
                                        ship, a journalism of the community, for
                                        the community, by the community. I know           I readily accept that there has been an eco-
                                        it’s an idealistic vision but surely none the     nomic crisis. The newspaper business
                                        worse for that. Pursuing ideals is good.          model has been wrecked, though there are
                                                                                          differences in the effect on companies from
                                        Despite being unsure of the outcome, I am         country to country. For example, several
                                        convinced it’s the direction we should be         traditional publishers in the United States
                                        taking, and I know that the technology            have been forced into bankruptcy protec-
                                        both allows it and invites it. The danger,        tion to deal with colossal debts while, in
                                        however, is that we will neglect this historic    Britain, publishers have managed to avoid
                                        opportunity to shape a coherent journalis-        falling through the insolvency trap door
                                        tic landscape for the future.                     and continued to trade profitably.

Across Europe, there have been similar          changing and will change further. What        Below:
problems, again with wide variations. In al-    they are doing is putting off the evil day.   The golden age of revenue:
most all cases, however, the medicine to        This is perfectly rational. Debts aside,      This poster advertising the
cure the ills has been similar: publishers      though operating profits may be dwin-         classifieds section of the
                                                                                              Evening News circa 1956 was
have indulged in an orgy of cost-cutting.       dling, they are still profits. However, the   found in a disused passage-
They have employed new media technol-           consequences for journalism are truly         way in London’s Notting Hill
ogy to save money, not to embrace its           terrifying.                                   Underground Station.
power to advance towards a new form of
journalism. In short, they have subverted a
crucial technological breakthrough for
their own commercial ends.

There are exceptions of course. I am aware
that when describing a contemporaneous
revolutionary process it is easy to fall into
the trap of generalisation and overstate-
ment. Damning every media owner and
manager would be wrong because there
are newspaper groups, along with the indi-
viduals who guide them, who can envision
a radical new journalistic activity and are
genuinely trying to practise what the revo-
lutionaries preach.

The vast majority, however, do nothing
more than pay lip service to a brave new
world. They pretend they are moving on-
wards and upwards by inelegantly spin-
ning every tranche of editorial cuts with
jargon-loaded announcements about their
enthusiastic engagement with a dynamic
new form of publishing (the word “journal-
ism” appears less than I’d like).

One key problem for them, and for us, is
that they still operate within a media para-
digm constructed in the 19th century, one
built of the logic of big businesses max-
imising profits through advertising rev-
enue and an accompanying journalism
that was created on the principle of cen-
tralised elitism.

It was a commercial and editorial model
that stood publishers and journalists in
good stead for so long that it’s unsurprising
they should seek ways of sustaining it.
Many of them, even while recognising that
there is little chance of maintaining this
system, do understand that things are

                                                                                                    IPI REPORT          27
Below: A sign of the times - a man
picks up a copy of the free Metro
newspaper across the street from the
New York Times headquarters.

I want to make a distinction here between      For journalists, the commercial depart-      staff who have been the backbone of news-
the journalism business and the business       ments were the dark side. For managers,      gathering and news processing.
of journalism, in which the former repre-      journalists were an on-cost. As the late
sents commerce and the latter represents       publisher, Lord Thomson, memorably           I frankly admit that I made a mistake
public service. The former is about private    joked: News merely fills the space between   some years ago, while in the first throes of
profit, the production of newspapers on the    the adverts.                                 cheering the digital advance, of advocat-
baked bean ethos. The latter is about acting                                                ing the reduction in editorial jobs. It was a
for and on behalf of society.                  Now look where the twins’ journey has        reasonable argument at the time. But pub-
                                               taken us - to an era when the siblings are   lishers have taken it to an unreasonable
Throughout the 20th century the twins -        becoming more and more estranged. And it     limit.
fraternal, never identical - marched hand      is the fate of the journalistic twin that
in hand. They knew they depended on each       should concern us most.                      Newspapers did tend to be overstaffed or, at
other and though they occasionally fell out,                                                least, employing people to do jobs that
as siblings tend to do, they regarded each     Grotesque cost-cutting threatens to divest   became genuinely unnecessary in a digital
other as a necessary evil.                     us of skilled, experienced and dedicated     environment. Judicious editorial budget

28        IPI REPORT
savings were therefore in order. New                preserve the best of what we have in order         Where are we going?
media’s glittering array of innovations were        to enhance the good that is to come.
seen by publishers as some sort of labour-
                                                                                                       I envisage a horizontal
saving device.                                      In this period of transition from old to new,      relationship, a journalism
                                                    journalism is suffering. At virtually every
It hardly helped that running in parallel           newspaper in Britain - national, regional
                                                                                                       of the community, for
with a technological revolution was a               and local, daily and weekly - journalists are      the community, by the
banking crisis followed by a deep recession,        being required to feed two platforms, print
disemboweling a business that relied on             and online, and both, in their different
advertising revenue. All this came against          ways, are the loser.
a background of the relentless decline in
print circulations.                                 There is precious little synergy between
                                                    them despite the building of work struc-
Publishers took measures that made finan-           tures that enable editorial copy to appear as
cial sense, at least in the short term. They        smoothly as possible on both. Papers such
cut costs. It is fair to say that the early cost-   as the Financial Times, the Guardian and
cutting was probably justified. There were          the Daily Telegraph have performed won-
too many under-used print works. Top-               ders by providing 24-hour news coverage
heavy staffs needed pruning. There had to           in which their journalists produce print
be some financial compensation for digital          copy, online text, video and audio material,
investment.                                         and mobile phone alerts.

Initial success with cost-savings - as pub-         It is a tribute to them, their editors and ded-
lishers prefer to refer to cuts - went to their     icated in-house digital pioneers that they
heads. It became the only game in town.             do it so well after a steep and rapid learning
Cuts begat cuts. The management of de-              curve. The situation outside of the London
cline soon spawned a language all of its            nationals is altogether more depressing.
own.                                                But, with the greatest of respect to all those
                                                    newspaper journalists who are making
Publishers justified their excesses with a          valiant online efforts, almost all of it is old
range of euphemisms about rationalisation           media journalism masquerading as new
in the digital age, concentration of re-            media journalism.
sources, improvements to editorial effi-
ciency and so on. They jumped at the                Mainstream journalists are not engaging
chance to reduce staffs still further by out-       with their audience. To allow online users
sourcing a range of tasks.                          to comment is all very well, but if the orig-
                                                    inator of the article merely observes read-
At this point, readers may be forgiven for          ers’ contributions (in many cases, they
saying: We know all that. My point in giving        don’t even bother to scan the threads), then
the history lesson was to provide the con-          it is a bogus exercise, without any value.        Roy Greenslade, Professor of Journalism at City
text for my contention that if this process of                                                        University London, writes a daily blog about the
editorial sabotage continues then journal-          What we face, though too many journalists         media for the Guardian website and is the media
ism, and society, will be the loser.                fail to grasp it and too many publishers re-      columnist for the London Evening Standard. He has
                                                    fuse to discuss it, is a looming crisis for       been a journalist for 45 years, in which time he has
At first sight, this may seem odd, given that       journalism. It has the potential to eradicate     worked for most of Britain’s national newspapers,
I have espoused the value of an emergent            the key historic role of the media to act for     culminating in the editorship of the Daily Mirror
journalistic form. The point is, however,           the public good as a countervailing force         from 1990-91. He has written a history of British
that we have a way to go before we reach            against political and commercial power. In        newspapers, “Press Gang: How Newspapers Make
that promised land. We need to construct a          short, if this is not too pompous, democ-         Profits From Propaganda”.
bridge from old to new media in order to            racy is at risk.

                                                                                                                                    IPI REPORT         29
Tags: Edited, Indepentent, Personalized

The Irony of Editors
and Democracy
By Alex Jones

As algorithms become editors
and readers use other tools to
filter information, there is
                                          A             t the Personal Democracy
                                          Forum in New York in June, a collective
                                          gasp rippled through the sophisticated au-
                                          dience of Web geeks, political analysts and
                                          new media triumphalists at a morning ses-
                                                                                             As Jeremy W. Peters wrote a month later in
                                                                                             The New York Times, “Welcome to the era
                                                                                             of algorithm as editor.”

                                                                                             In 1993, the introduction of the Mosaic
still an important role for
                                          sion called, “Can the Internet Fix Politics?”      Web browser software launched the World
professional journalists whose                                                               Wide Web as a gigantic, global information
                                          Eli Pariser, the former executive director of      system. From the start, the interactive,
news judgment aims to serve
                                , told the assembled activists           what-you-want, non-heirarchical Internet
democracy.                                that if each of them went to Google on their       culture was viewed as a giant step toward
                                          iPads, iPhones, or BlackBerrys and                 “democratization.”
                                          searched “BP,” each person in the room
                                          would get a different response.                    Early zealots tended to crow at how the
                                                                                             digital world had broken the tyranny of
                                          Some doing the search might get tens of            top-down editors who had long imposed
                                          millions more results than others. But the         their view of what was important on their
                                          top responses of everyone would be differ-         audiences. The Web made it possible to be
                                          ent, because of algorithms that Google has         your own editor, and as a result to have
                                          in place and does not explain. They are, to        more breadth and depth and variety to the
                                          use Pariser’s term, “invisible.”                   news and information that shaped your
                                                                                             view of reality. Hugh Hewitt, an Emmy-
                                          Over lunch, everyone at my table did the           winning former news-anchor-turned-
                                          BP search. In every case, Google kicked out        blogger, was expressing a widely held
                                          an individualized, customized response.            view among New Media converts when he
                                          “There is no standard Google anymore,”             proclaimed that “the power of elites to de-
                                          said Pariser.                                      termine what (is) news via a tightly con-
                                                                                             trolled dissemination system (has been)
                                          Instead, at Google and other search en-            shattered.”
                                          gines, there is a “personalized” response
                                          based on dozens of criteria that are not dis-      As we approach the Web’s second decade, it
                                          closed and make each searcher as singular          has delivered on two of the promises it
                                          as a finger print. The idea is to be helpful, to   made in democratizing the media. Anyone
                                          give you what the search engine thinks you         with Web access can create content, and
                                          want.                                              anyone can also collect virtually unlimited
                                                                                             content provided by others. But the third
                                          But the implications of such a mechanism           promise – that democracy would be en-
                                          for informing people about news, politics          hanced – remains a promise that may be
                                          and public affairs hit that audience like a        impossible to fulfill without those same
                                          sharp slap.                                        elites that were to be shattered.

        Glory Days: A copy of the Sunday
        New York Times, 17 October 1965,
        the largest edition in the paper’s
        114-year history, weighed nearly eight
        pounds and contained 946 pages.

Indeed, it is especially ironic that the         As a veteran of small daily newspapers and     as though it were his own body. He knew
much-maligned top-down editor at main-           New York Times, I feel I know editing –        the sensitive areas and the competing
stream news organizations from commu-            which is to say the selection and shaping of   yearnings, when to indulge and when to
nity dailies to The New York Times may           a daily report using news judgment.            discipline. He was beloved and respected,
prove to be the greatest bastion of demo-                                                       but most important, he was integral. It is a
cratic journalism in a world of editing-by-      My first editor was J. Neil Ensminger and he   model that every community newspaper
algorithm and customized news.                   could not type. But he knew his community      should follow. Was it democratic? No one

                                                                                                                         IPI REPORT       31
                               With a vital mission,
                               editors still decide
had elected him to do the      what appears on                    utterly unaware of genocide        But that does not mean, as a practical mat-
job. But they trusted him                                         in Africa. It is easily possible   ter, that the job of editors is not alive and
and felt free to complain
                               the front page and                 to have a flow of news that        well. Editors still decide what appears on
and criticize - a right that   above the fold or                  is tailored to your politics or    the front page and above the fold or what is
he indulged with pleasure                                         race or narrow interests,          featured on the nightly news. The impact of
by publishing letters-to-
                               what is featured on                and therefore know little          those traditional news delivery systems is
the-editor without a re-       the nightly news.                  about the broad picture that       still tremendous, in part because many of
sponse, even if the facts                                         includes points of view that       us want someone to help guide us to what
were wrong. “If you correct them, it takes        are foreign in every respect.                      we really need to know.
the sting out, “ he told me, “and they need
their chance to sting.” A good rant was not       That is not an enhancement of democracy.           The most important thing for the editor of
the creation of the Web.                          The most democratic - meaning, the non-            today is not to lose confidence in the job’s
                                                  customized view of the world - is the one          power and its mission. It still has power,
At The New York Times, every afternoon            that is most apt to be created with the idea       and the mission has never been more vital.
the top editors of every department of the        of informing a lot of people with diverse in-
paper assembled to battle for space on the        terests and backgrounds.                           Indeed, it may be the old fashioned and dis-
front page. The foreign editor would pitch                                                           paraged editor with independent judgment
his best stories, then the national editor, the   For instance, on an ordinary Saturday in           who will prove to be the champion of
metro editor, and on down the line - busi-        July 2010, the A section of The New York           democracy in an age in which the choice is
ness, arts, culture, science - each making a      Times’ national edition had 44 full stories,       often news by algorithm or a flood of infor-
case like a lawyer before a jury.                 plus a dozen or more short summaries.              mation that recognizes no constraints.
                                                  Some were updates from Iraq and Pakistan,
Then, with passionate argument and a              but it is hard to imagine a customized news
sense that they were creating the best-pos-       list that would include articles as diverse as
sible snapshot of the world for Times read-       a piece on flawed brain research at Colum-
ers, the top editors chose what led the           bia University (above the fold), obituaries
paper, what was the off-lede, what above          of an African American scholar on proba-
the fold, what inside.                            bility and the country music song writer
                                                  who wrote Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces,”
The collective education, training, skill, ex-    and a long piece about the artist Christo’s
perience, intelligence and commitment             ongoing effort to drape the Colorado River.
represented by the corps of editors struck
me as staggering. Here they were, strug-          It is the gatekeeper – the editor – who seeks
gling each day, to select the best fruit of all   to appeal to a mass audience that assem-
the material that had been assembled by           bles such a varied, rich and nourishing
the paper’s reporters, put it into form that      mix of news.
was clear, and then picked over it to make
sure that the most important things got           But how does the gatekeeper do that worth-
space.                                            while job in a digital age when a quasi-out-
                                                  law organization such as WikiLeaks by-
When I pick up my Times each morning -            passes gatekeepers altogether by publishing
which I do, on paper - I still marvel at what     classified information that may well have
went into creating this version of the state      not been reported on ethical grounds when
of the world and how valuable it is to me         editors truly functioned as the arbiters of
to have editors doing that work on my be-         information?                                       Alex Jones directs the Joan Shorenstein Center on
half.                                                                                                the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard
                                                  The answer is a realistic recognition that in      Kennedy School and is the author of “Losing the
It is easily possible to know in depth about      some respects the gatekeeping role is moot         News” and, with Susan Tifft, “The Trust: The Private
your favorite sports team or an automobile        in a free-flowing online information envi-         and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times.”
accident in your neighborhood, but to be          ronment.

32       IPI REPORT
                                                                                      Tags: Credibility, Informed, Linked

In the New Media Rush
for Instant News, Where
are the Journalists?
By Alison Bethel McKenzie

More information is not
necessarily better information
if standards of accuracy and
                                   E       very human being has a funda-
                                   mental, universal right to information.

                                   However, across the world many people in
                                   positions of power do everything they can
                                                                                    human and financial resources of a gov-
                                                                                    ernment or corporation in an acute cri-
                                                                                    sis … The new lightweight technologies
                                                                                    available to almost anyone mean a new
                                                                                    capacity for instant scrutiny and ac-
credibility slip due to citizen
                                   to prevent the free flow of information. The     countability that is way beyond the nar-
journalism or the new practices    barriers they throw up have traditionally        rower, assumed power and influence of
                                   included assassination, physical assault,        the traditional media.”
readers inspire in the newsroom.
                                   harassment, arrest, absurd fines, imprison-
                                   ment, and unfair trials. Until a few years     Nowhere has this seismic shift been more
                                   ago, their victims were often journalists      apparent over the last 15 months than in
                                   using traditional, easy-to-monitor means       Iran, which was wracked by violence fol-
                                   of information dissemination, including        lowing the disputed June 2009 re-election
                                   newspapers, radio broadcasts and televi-       of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
                                   sion reports.                                  Despite a media blackout imposed by the
                                                                                  authorities, graphic footage of the violence
                                   However, in recent years there has been a      seeped out, through YouTube, Twitter and
                                   rapid and dramatic evolution in the kind of    other outlets. Surreptitiously ‘armed’ with
                                   media used to capture and transmit news.       mobile phones and other handheld de-
                                                                                  vices, or simply reporting through Twitter,
                                   In a commentary piece for the Guardian         citizen journalists informed the world
                                   newspaper, renowned BBC World presen-          about what was really happening inside
                                   ter Nik Gowing noted:                          Iran.

                                     “New information technologies and dy-        A deadly-earnest game of cat-and-mouse
                                     namics are together driving a wave of        ensued, with the Iranian authorities trying
                                     democratisation and accountability. It       to shut down the virtual space in which
                                     shifts and redefines the nature of power     this vital information was circulating. It
                                     in such moments. It also creates a new       was reported, at the time, that hackers were
                                     policy vulnerability and brittleness for     helping Iranian bloggers and others cir-
                                     institutions, who then struggle even         cumvent the Iranian authorities’ efforts to
                                     harder to maintain public confidence.        hinder the flow of information across the
                                     “Increasingly routinely, a cheap, ‘go-any-
                                     where’ camera or mobile phone chal-          Across the world, the bloggers and citizen
                                     lenges the credibility of the massive        journalists who – often at great personal

                                                                                                           IPI REPORT      33
                  Left: Signs depict
                  missing or dead
                  journalists during
                  protests in Mexico City,
                  7 August 2010.

                  risk – were hailed as heroes as they shared
                  breaking news with the rest of the world.
                  And heroes they were.

                  But were they journalists?

                  Amid the frenzy surrounding the Iran de-
                  velopments, and the reliance of the global
                  public on citizen journalists, an important
                  element was often forgotten: How reliable
                  was the information, particularly since it
                  had not been vetted by experienced edi-

                  The dangers inherent in the citizen journal-
                  ism process were highlighted when CNN
                  iReport published an inaccurate report
                  from someone stating that Apple boss
                  Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack and
                  had been rushed to the hospital. Apple
                  shares nose-dived almost immediately fol-
                  lowing publication of the report.

                  According to the BBC, the report said:

                     “Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a
                     few hours ago after suffering a major
                     heart attack. I have an insider who tells
                     me that paramedics were called after
                     Steve claimed to be suffering from se-
                     vere chest pains and shortness of breath.
                     My source has opted to remain anony-
                     mous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t
                     seen anything about this anywhere else
                     yet, and as of right now, I have no further
                     information, so I thought this would be
                     a good place to start. If anyone else has
                     more information, please share it.”

                  The report did not run on the CNN broad-
                  cast channels, nor did it appear on the CNN
                  website. Instead it was on the broadcaster’s
                  iReport forum which is open to all, and bills
                  itself as “Unedited. Unfiltered. News.”

                  BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones said that
                  he was sent the following statement by
                    “ is an entirely user-gener-
                    ated site where the content is deter-

                      Right: Reports from citizen
                       journalists that Steve Jobs
                      had suffered a severe heart
                        attack proved to be false.

  mined by the community. Content that
  does not comply with Community
  Guidelines will be removed. After the
  content in question was uploaded to, the community brought it
  to our attention. Based on our Terms of
  Use that govern user behaviour on iRe-, the fraudulent content was re-

The fact remains, though, that the inaccu-
rate information appeared in a forum asso-
ciated with CNN - and readers could be for-
given for thinking that the forum reflected
CNN standards of accuracy.                           Middle East Editor Octavia Nasr after she        Governments have a responsibility to re-
                                                     expressed respect for Lebanese cleric            frain from hindering the free flow of infor-
Standard editorial guidelines at any radio           Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fad-            mation. At the same time, journalists
station, TV broadcaster or newspaper                 lallah in a Twitter post.                        should abide by self-regulatory – not statu-
would have prevented publication of such                                                              tory – systems to ensure that their integrity
a report without prior fact-checking. How-           Parisa Khosravi, CNN International’s senior      and the professional values of journalism
ever, CNN, like many other news outlets, is          vice president for newsgathering, wrote in       are upheld, and that the information they
under pressure to promote the new, virtu-            a memo: “At this point, we believe that her      impart or promote is the truth.
ally-instantaneous, interactive world in             credibility in her position as senior editor
which the viewers and readers are engaged;           for Middle Eastern affairs has been com-
but the line between professional and am-            promised going forward.”
ateur journalism becomes blurred. Tradi-
tional media, in an attempt to redefine it-          It’s not surprising that a number of organi-
self and provide news now for a ‘now’ gen-           zations, including Reuters, have launched
eration, is embracing ‘open source’ media –          guidelines on how their employees should
which allows it to integrate across multiple         use social media to ensure that their jour-
platforms.                                           nalistic integrity – which includes exuding
                                                     a balanced image - remains intact.
For all the assertions that the inaccurate
content on the iReport forum was not                 It is vital that – while embracing rapid tech-
CNN’s (which of course it wasn’t), the               nological change – journalists and editors
broadcaster’s reputation for accuracy still          continue to ensure that news consumers
suffers when such a fallacious report is             around the world receive accurate, fair and
published – particularly when it suggests            balanced information.
that Steve Jobs is in the hospital with a
heart attack, and Apple shares go through            The free flow of information is a central
the floor.                                                         tenet of democracy. Article
                                  It is vital that jour-           19 of the U.N. Universal Dec-
The promotion of multiple                                          laration of Human Rights           Alison Bethel McKenzie is Interim Director of the
platforms for the delivery of
                                  nalists continue                 underscores the right to           International Press Institute. Before taking up her
comment and news has              to ensure that                   “seek, receive and impart in-      post at IPI she spent a year in Ghana working for the
even caused problems for                                           formation and ideas.” There-       Washington, DC–based International Center for
experienced reporters.
                                  news consumers                   fore, citizens and journalists     Journalists as a Knight International Journalism Fel-
                                  around the world                 are inextricably linked by         low. She has over 20 years experience as a journal-
In early July 2010, CNN fired                                      the right to seek and impart       ist, reporter, editor and trainer.
20-year veteran and Senior
                                  receive accurate,                information.
                                  fair and balanced
                                  information.                                                                                       IPI REPORT         35
Tags: Factory-like, Obsolete, One-Way

Newsroom Structures and
Cultures Limit Journalism
By Jean-François Fogel

Old media newsrooms                               uddites are resilient. Since their     quote the name of a significant piece of dig-
                                        first rise, against the stocking frames of the   ital code – a program, a tool, a mere appli-
are structured for analog
                                        nascent textile industry in England, they        cation – invented by a news organization.
publishing and create obstacles         have been fighting new machines and              It’s that simple: So far, old media played no
                                        technologies. For two centuries they lost,       part in the invention of the new media.
to digital publishing. A factory
                                        again and again, while transport, agricul-
line model of production,               ture, energy and the production of goods         The management of their companies is still
                                        were totally transformed all over the world.     asking, over and over, the same question:
diffuse responsibilities and a
                                        Nonetheless they kept alive their old tune       What can I do with my content? Actually,
resistance to change will               saying that you never change for the better.     there is only one legitimate question: What
                                        Today luddites are entrenched in old media       can I do for the audience? Search, map-
challenge newsrooms trying
                                        newsrooms.                                       ping, aggregation, open conversation, geo-
to reinvent themselves.                                                                  localization, social networking are impos-
                                        Of course, no company would dare to pres-        sible answers for people looking at the dig-
                                        ent itself as an old media anymore. Any          ital world with content ownership and ana-
                                        media company has at least a digital busi-       log business models in mind.
                                        ness or pretends to have it. Old media have
                                        been running news websites for years now.        Nothing personal. As a consultant working
                                        Newspapers are online; radio programs are        in Europe and Latin America, I’ve met
                                        distributed through podcasts; and watch-         wonderful multi-skilled journalists in tra-
                                        ing TV is more and more a catch-up activ-        ditional media newsrooms. They’re tal-
                                        ity.                                             ented and efficient people, able in the same
                                                                                         day – sometimes on the same assignment –
                                        Actually, the digital track record of old        to commute from the old to the new media
                                        media is an awful one. The press, especially     and back. But for the most part, the news-
                                        the printed press, missed most of its oppor-     room – that structure inherited from the
                                        tunities. It lost the classifieds market to      industrial age – is so precisely designed for
                                        Craigslist or look-alike online services; it     the production of old media content that
                                        was late to recognize the potential of blogs,    we must see it as a main hurdle on the path
                                        giving away a huge slice of                                      to the digital future.
                                        the news market; it            The newsroom is
                                        thought of ads mainly as a                                      Newsrooms are the curse of
                                        display and never tried to
                                                                       a factory that feeds             any news organization try-
                                        produce news on demand;        printing plants;                 ing to add a digital channel
                                        and, yes, right now, it’s a                                     of distribution to its tradi-
                                        mere follower of the social
                                                                       journalists are                  tional one. When such op-
                                        media revolution. In a         but the first leg                erations integrate – asking
                                        world driven by technol-                                        journalists of a single news-
                                        ogy, it’s impossible to
                                                                       of an efficient and              room to produce across two
                                                                       repetitive industrial
36     IPI REPORT                                                      process.
or more platforms – radio and television        at the same time, using the same technol-       dozens of such newsrooms. Nowhere, have
are in a slightly better position. Thanks to    ogy because it’s the only way to have a re-     I found more than a third of the journalists
real time broadcasting, staffers in those       sponsible cost-effective production of news     actually working for both media on the
newsrooms move content quickly from old         fitted into pages. To the contrary, a good –    same day. Of course, in a company focused
media to new. Trapped in the beat of a daily    i.e. innovative - digital media is a lab con-   on a single platform – a so-called pure play
deadline, on the other hand, newspapers         nected to a workshop with ever changing         – each person is involved all day long with
face a rougher situation. They’re faced with    tools and crafts because the digital technol-   the invention of the new media, obeying a
three limitations as they struggle to get old   ogy and the audience behavior move very         single clock and using a single set of tools.
newsrooms producing new media.                  fast.
                                                                                                The success online of, the
First and foremost, the newsroom is a fac-      To ask a workforce to feed a printing plant     digital branch of the old Peruvian newspa-
tory. When it feeds printing plants, journal-   and a news website, simultaneously, is to       per, is based on such a no-nonsense ap-
ists have no choice there but to be the first   run a team with two clocks. Quite often it’s    proach. The site uses a content manage-
leg of an efficient and repetitive industrial   done with poorly integrated tools, even         ment system designed for a tagged content
process. They do the same tasks every day,      with two distinct toolboxes. I’ve visited       and serviced by a team dealing with search

                                                                                                                          IPI REPORT      37
engines and communities. In other words,         monopoly or an oligopoly that it can’t              should you use my simple trick: I shoot pic-
it’s a traffic-driven team as opposed to the     bring itself to abandon what seemed for so          tures of the integrated newsroom in the
news-driven environment of the old news-         long like best practices.                           morning at 8 am, 9 am, no later than 9.30
room.                                                                                                am. And then I show empty desks. By 10
                                                 It’s a classic pattern in the diffusion of new      am in most digital media, the morning traf-
That makes a huge difference, impossible         technology: Facing a disruptive innovation,         fic is already past its peak. How can you
to evaluate unless you’ve experienced the        a profession does its best to keep its old cul-     fight for a news website if your troops don’t
digital revolution within a pure play env-       ture, preventing or slowing down the                show up at the beginning of the battle? To
iornment with no strings attached to an old      process of change. The stubbornness and             win the morning in order to win the day is
news organization. To quote Gary Hamel,          arrogance evident in smart press people re-         a basic rule for a media drawing most of its
the theorist of modern management, in the        flects their uncomfortable feelings: They           traffic from workplaces.
past we had only two ways to bring human         know what they are giving up and they
resources together: bureaucracy and mar-         can’t imagine their future. They used to            The newsroom as we knew it is doomed.
ket. The digital world added a new way: the      speak, but now they must listen to their au-        The idea that information wants to be free,
network. Here is the second limit of the old     dience. They must learn how to read data            as Steward Brand said in his often mis-
newsroom: It is unable to organize itself as     traffic as a marketer. They must imagine            quoted statement, is still worthy of debate.
a network. Its pyramidal power structure         new applications or tools as a developer.           But surely journalists deserve to be free.
from the editor to the intern journalist, its                                                        That will happen only if they are released
vertical hierarchy so closely knitted with       The challenge is tough but not insur-               from yesterday’s newsroom.
desks, sections, and crafts along the copy       mountable., in Argentina,
flow, and its necessary definition of a daily    the digital child of a traditional newspaper,
budget, are quite contrary to the sponta-        has improved a lot in the recent years
neous, horizontal and interactive way            thanks to the digital efforts of key journal-
news is produced and distributed in a digi-      ists. Many have decided to upload content
tal media.                                       and speak to their audience several times
                                                 during the day, significantly improving the
You don’t have to breathe more than a few        digital density of the online offer.
minutes in, in Colombia,
or, in Chile, to catch the dis-   As I commute a lot between Europe and
tinct feeling of a team interacting with its     Latin America, people ask me what differ-
audience. In those two countries, histori-       ences I find between cultures of the two
cally stricken by political violence, both       continents. Apart from languages, there is
sites are pure players displaying a strong       none. North and south news media share
flow of user comments generated by the           the same endeavors. The two distinct con-
open and quick way they serve news. It’s         tinents, regarding the press, are now the
like a dialogue around a cup of coffee.          digital one, where journalists work within
                                                 the audience, and the traditional one,
The third limit is the biggest one: an atti-     where publishing and broadcasting remain
tude problem. As individuals, journalists        mainly a one-way process. Latin America
understand that they live now in a new,          as a whole isn’t lagging behind the rest of
news ecosystem. Some have written mag-           the press. A large chunk of its press is well
nificent stories about the digital age. Some     established in the digital world, largely as        Jean-François Fogel is a journalist and writer. He
are even changing the way they work and          the result of individual journalists acting as      worked for the Agence France-Presse, the daily Lib-
they relate to their audience.                   pioneers, pushing and struggling in order           eration and the weekly Le Point. Beside his activity
                                                 to build their future.                              as a journalist, he was the advisor of Le Monde’s
But as a whole, they share an esprit de                                                              CEO from 1994 to 2002 and later ran the design and
corps, embodied in the newsroom, that            To tell the management of an old media              organization of He is presently advising
prevents the necessary mutation. For             about the true level of their digital readi-        several media organizations in Europe and Latin
decades, the press was so influential so         ness isn’t the most comfortable part of a           America.
profitable, so protected by its position as a    consultant’s life. But it’s easier that it seems,

38       IPI REPORT
                                                                           Tags: Independent, Profitable, Sustainable

Three Tasks for Journalism:
Control Costs, Embrace
New Ways, Believe in the
By Paul Tash

Newspaper profitability has
varied over time, and the past
holds some lessons for the
                                  B       etween 1980 and 2000, the profit
                                  margin of the Chicago Tribune grew from 8
                                  to 30 percent. A former publisher of that
                                  newspaper revealed those figures during a
                                  conference at the Poynter Institute several
                                                                                that newspapers were a lot like electric com-
                                                                                panies; both were pretty hard to screw up.

                                                                                But after another decade, those days of easy
                                                                                money and all-but-certain success seem a
future. After such a party, the
                                  years ago, stamping them in my memory.        fond but distant memory. According to the
hangover needn’t be fatal.                                                      Newspaper Association of America, adver-
                                  My question, then and now: Which per-         tising revenues have dropped to the same
                                  centage was the exception?                    total that the industry posted in 1986, when
                                                                                numbers were on the way up.
                                  At the beginning of the new century, the
                                  generous profits most newspapers were         Too bad you missed the ‘80s, I tell my
                                  generating seemed well established. One of    young colleagues. You would have liked
                                  my elders in the business once confided       them. The business isn’t what it used to be.

                                                                                                          IPI REPORT      39
Or is it? For much of their history, newspa-      I don’t pretend to be a scholar of newspaper   Bergman, is an Internet whiz in Seattle.
pers were not an especially profitable en-        history, but it strikes me there are lessons   Among other things, he has started a group
terprise. Nor is this the first time that great   we can take from the best of our predeces-     of neighborhood websites where residents
newspapers have struggled or even suc-            sors, including these:                         can post local news that big organizations
cumbed to financial challenge. Some fine                                                         don’t cover. He says he is trying to keep the
newspapers are still published in New York,       They kept costs down. Upon his death in        costs of journalism low enough that it can
but Hearst’s Journal American and                 1978, Nelson Poynter gave away the St.         be sustained.
Pulitzer’s World are not among them.              Petersburg Times to keep it independent
                                                  and out of a chain. He was a great vision-     In the early days of such collective commu-
Perhaps the historic aberration was the last      ary. By all accounts, he was also tight with   nity efforts, I heard a Wall Street Journal
quarter of the last century, when gushing         a buck.                                        columnist sneer that citizen journalism “is
revenues indulged higher costs and en-                                                           a lot like citizen surgery.” That drew a big
couraged bold ambitions. After such a             At the school that bears Poynter’s name, we    laugh from a convention hall full of editors.
party, the hangover has been hideous, but         periodically gather a board of advisers from   But the truth is: Just about anybody can
it need not be fatal.                             around the country. One of them, Cory          learn to do a little first aid.

40       IPI REPORT
Page 39: Chicago billionaire and owner
of the Chicago Tribune, Sam Zell, pre-
dicts the end of home-delivered

Left: The St. Petersburg Times celebra-
tes two Pulitzer Prizes in 2009, inclu-
ding one for PolitiFact.

These days, I don’t hear any editors laugh-       took a chance on quick profits. Chastened
ing at the notion that non-journalists            not by experience, he now foretells the end
might provide some useful material, for           of printed newspapers delivered to sub-
free.                                             scribers.

They embraced new ways. At this year’s            Truth be told, a note of pessimism – even
meeting of Florida publishers and editors,        fatalism – has crept into the conversation
it was the oldest person in the room who          of some longtime newspaper operators
was carrying an iPad. Old dogs can learn          over the last several years. In this thinking,
new tricks, or at least adapt some tricks         print is in a holding pattern against the fu-       Too bad you missed
they know already.                                ture, and creative energy should be de-
                                                  voted to all things digital.
                                                                                                      the ‘80s, I tell my young
At the St. Pete Times, we have retooled our                                                           colleagues. You would
political coverage by launching a website –       But not, I would caution, at the expense of – devoted not just to report-      our established print business, the one with
                                                                                                      have liked them. The
ing what politicians say, but testing             a rich history and – for all its current chal-      business isn’t what it
whether their statements are true. Those          lenges – some enduring strengths. Like any
statements get a rating from our Truth-o-         enterprise, it also needs fresh thinking and
                                                                                                      used to be. Or is it?
Meter, with “pants on fire” for the real          investment. Six years ago, our company
whoppers.                                         launched a new newspaper – tbt* Tampa
                                                  Bay Times – a free tabloid edited for a
This takes work, leaving less room for du-        younger audience. It has grown sharply and
plication of coverage we might secure from        steadily, to the point that its advertising rev-
other sources. Within Florida, we have            enues now exceed those of our website, and
combined forces with the Miami Herald             it contributes nicely to our financial results.
for political coverage, and scoops from           The most frequent complaint from readers
each paper get prominent play in the              is that the boxes are empty before they can
other. Beyond Florida, we are building a          find a copy. Who says print is dying?
network of PolitiFact partners, with news-
papers in Texas, Georgia, Rhode Island and        In contrast to the blowhard from the
Ohio.                                             Windy City, another media mogul bears
                                                  more attention in my book. Rupert Mur-
So far, PolitiFact’s success is mostly journal-   doch recently told a conference in New
istic, including a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, but    York that printed newspapers would be
broadening our scale for a bigger audience        around “for decades.” Note the plural. The
creates a better climate for advertising and      first step in planning for the future is to be-
commercial reward.                                lieve there is one.

They believed in their business. In 1980,
the Chicago Tribune was in the hands of                                                              Paul Tash is chairman and chief executive of the
newspaper people. Today, it is part of a                                                             St. Petersburg Times, and chairman of the Poynter
company struggling through bankruptcy                                                                Institute, the school that owns the newspaper.
at the hands of a real estate magnate who

                                                                                                                                 IPI REPORT        41
Tags: Diversified, Experimented, Innovated

Reinvention of Journalism
Marked by Seven Key
Features & Six Critical Steps
By Dan Gillmor

Journalism’s future requires
entrepreneurial thinking,
as a startup culture pervades
                                      I  n April 1999, at the annual meeting of the
                                        American Society of Newspaper Editors,
                                        Andy Grove took the stage. In a conversa-
                                        tion with Jerry Ceppos, former editor of the
                                        San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s
                                                                                             to be obvious... And my history of the
                                                                                             technology industry is you cannot save
                                                                                             yourself out of a strategic inflection
                                                                                             point. You can save yourself deeper into
                                                                                             the morass that you’re heading to, but
competitive experiments
                                        once-great daily newspaper, Grove warned             you can only invest your way out of it,
outside newsrooms.                      the editors that their time was running              and I really wonder how many people
                                        short. Newspapers faced a financial melt-            who are in charge of the business
                                        down, he said. He wasn’t the first to issue          processes of journalism understand
                                        such a warning, and hardly the last. But the         that.”
                                        degree to which he was ignored remains
                                        instructive, and sad.                              Grove was right about the trajectory,
                                                                                           though a bit premature about the timing.
                                        Grove was chief executive of Intel Corp.,          He was even more right about the indus-
                                        one of Silicon Valley’s classic entrepreneur-      try’s likely response: Rampant cost-cutting,
                                        ial success stories. More than a decade ear-       much too little investment and, above all,
                                        lier he’d led his company through a                the failure to appreciate the value of entre-
                                        wrenching transition. He and his col-              preneurial thinking.
                                        leagues changed Intel’s focus from com-
                                        puter memory, a business they were losing          You might imagine I’m a pessimist about
                                        to Asian competitors, to the central proces-       journalism’s future. You would be dead
                                        sor chips that became the heart of the             wrong. I’m a wild optimist.
                                        world’s personal computers. With that
                                        move, the genius of which became clear             Why? Because the startup culture has infil-
                                        only much later, Grove gave Intel its fu-          trated journalism in a big way – because so
                                        ture – at least for the next several decades –     many people are trying new things, mostly
                                        and assured his own place as one of Amer-          outside of big enterprises but also inside
                                        ica’s great business leaders.                      the more progressive ones; because exper-
                                                                                           imentation is so inexpensive; and because
                                        Now he was telling editors they, too, were in      we can already see the outlines of what’s
                                        deep trouble if they didn’t wake up. He            emerging.
                                                                                           Although the transition will be messy,
                                             “You’re where Intel was three years be-       we’re heading toward a great new era in
                                             fore the roof fell in on us. You’re heading   media and journalism. To be sure, we are
                                             toward a strategic inflection point, and      losing some things we need, at least
                                             three years from now, maybe, it’s going       temporarily. But if we do this right we’ll

                                                                                                               BNO News morphed from a Twitter
                                                                                                               news service with approximately 1.5
                                                                                                               million followers into a subscription-
                                                                                                               based newswire.

have a more diverse and vibrant media           prises, but what economist Joseph A.             consider Big Journalism’s role as a watch-
ecosystem.                                      Schumpeter called “creative destruction,”        dog, inconsistent though the dominant
                                                assuming that we have fair and enforceable       companies have been in serving that role.
“Ecosystem” and “diversity” are key words       rules of the road for all, ensures the long-     But the worriers appear to assume that we
here. The dangers of monocultures – sys-        term sustainability of the economy.              can’t replace what we will lose. They have
tems that have little or no diversity – are                                                      no faith in the restorative power of a
well understood, even though they still         The journalistic ecosystem of the past half-     diverse ecosystem, because they don’t
exist in many areas, such as modern farm-       century, like the overall media ecosystem,       know what it’s like to be part of one.
ing and finance. Because monocultures are       was dominated by a small number of giant
inherently unstable, the results are cata-      companies. Those enterprises, aided by           As Clay Shirky and others have noted, the
strophic when they fail. A diverse ecosys-      governmental policies and manufacturing-         cost of trying new ideas is heading toward
tem, by contrast, features ongoing failure      era efficiencies of scale, controlled the mar-   zero in the digital media world. That
side by side with new success. Entire           ketplace and grew bigger and bigger. The         means lots and lots of people will be – they
species come and go, but the impact of los-     collision of Internet-fueled technology and      already are – testing the possibilities. What
ing a single species in a truly diverse         traditional media’s advertising model was        is entrepreneurship all about? Whether
ecosystem, however unfortunate for that         cataclysmic for the big companies that           you’re doing it inside or outside another
species, is limited.                            dominated.                                       enterprise, the following are key features:

In a diverse and vibrant capitalist economy,    But is it catastrophic for the communities       Ownership: This doesn’t necessarily mean
the failure of enterprises is tragic only for   and society they served? In the short term,      owning stock in a company, though of
the specific constituencies of those enter-     it’s plainly problematic, at least when we       course there’s nothing wrong with that.

                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT           43
It’s about owning the process, and the out-     The process of entrepreneurship differs from      I hear about dozens of new startups every
come, of what you’re doing.                     project to project. In the digital media space,   month. Most will fail, but I have to stress
                                                however, I’d suggest the following:               again: This is not a flaw in the system. It’s a
Focus: If you can’t focus, you can’t suc-                                                         feature.
ceed in a startup. I know this from experi-     First, start with a good idea, and above
ence.                                           all follow your personal passion. An en-          I’m jealous of my students, and I tell them
                                                trepreneur who doesn’t believe in their           so. I’m jealous that I’m not their age, start-
Ambiguity: Startups are full of ambigui-        goal with every fiber of their being has al-      ing out when the slate is so blank, when the
ties and even chaos. If you’re the kind of      ready started to fail.                            possibilities are so wide open. They, not my
person who can’t deal with this, you may                                                          generation, will invent our future.
be wrong for entrepreneurship. Under-           Second, develop it quickly and collabo-
stand a rule of startups: Your ultimate         ratively, using off-the-shelf tools when
product is likely to be vastly different than   possible and writing code only to get the
what you originally imagined, and it’ll         parts you can’t find elsewhere. Be open
keep evolving.                                  with others about what you are doing.
                                                “Stealth mode” projects can and do work,
Resourcefulness: Startups have to use           but most ideas will find more traction with
what’s available. If you have everything on     the help of others who care about what
your wish list, you’re either over-funded or    you’re doing.
                                                Third, launch before you think you’re
Speed: Entrepreneurs move fast. They            fully ready. As my friend Reid Hoffman,
change with evolving conditions and take        founder of the LinkedIn network and a pre-
advantage of opportunities that emerge          scient investor in Internet companies has
and disappear in short order. They make         said, “If you aren’t completely embarrassed
decisions and move forward.                     by your website when you launch, you
                                                waited too long.”
Innovation: You can innovate by being
more efficient or thorough, not just by         Fourth, assume you’re in beta mode for
inventing new technologies. The Googles         some time. You will have bugs and prob-
are few and far between, but innovators         lems. Fix what’s broken and keep iterating.
often connect dots where others can’t
imagine the connections.                        Fifth, if you see the project will fail, do
                                                that quickly, too. Don’t prolong failure,
Risk: Appreciating risk is essential to the     and don’t spend investors’ money after it’s
entrepreneurial process, but it doesn’t be-     clear you should stop.
long at the top of the list. You minimize the
risk when you can, understanding that you       Sixth, repeat. A smart failure teaches valu-
can’t eliminate it.                             able lessons. Internal entrepreneurship in
                                                companies, also called “intrapreneurship,”
                                                should be especially forgiving of failure, as-    Dan Gillmor is director of the Knight Center for
 We’re heading toward                           suming it’s not stupid or reckless.               Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State
                                                                                                  University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism &
 a great new era in media                       While large enterprises can innovate, they        Mass Communications. This is an edited excerpt
 and journalism. If we do                       may be better off in the digital media world      from Mediactive, his new book and online project,
                                                buying or licensing from startups. Bill Joy,      and is licensed under a Creative Commons “Attri-
 this right we’ll have a                        co-founder of Sun Microsystems, put it best       bution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
 more diverse and vibrant                       when he said, “No matter who you are,             License” (see
                                                most of the smartest people work for some-        censes/by-nc-sa/3.0/).
 media ecosystem.                               one else.”

44      IPI REPORT
                                                                                  Tags: Leaked, Right to Privacy, WikiLeaks

Legal Threats to Privacy,
Free Speech Appear Over
the Horizon
By Geoffrey Robertson

Recent developments, including
the publication of Afghanistan
war documents by WikiLeaks
                                 T       his is a crucial moment to ponder
                                 the future of international investigative
                                 journalism in light of the legal constraints
                                 that increasingly threaten. The haemor-
                                 rhaging of “top secret” data about the war
                                                                                    York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel
                                                                                    and published as if they amounted to a lat-
                                                                                    ter day Pentagon Papers coup, demonstrat-
                                                                                    ing the failures and illegalities of the war
                                                                                    against the Taliban. Soon the doubts set in,
and major news organizations,
                                 in Afghanistan has raised fundamental              fanned by rival newspapers and encour-
highlight looming legal issues   questions about the definition and role of         aged by the Pentagon: Was this not irre-
                                 journalism, as politicians demand prosecu-         sponsible conduct that put at risk the lives
related to free speech and
                                 tions of sources and of WikiLeaks. Mean-           of those who have provided information to
privacy.                         while, the tentacles of privacy law are be-        the allied forces?
                                 ginning to strangle valuable forms of jour-
                                 nalism previously free from the chill of the       The three newspapers said they had alerted
                                 courtroom: The damage award against the            the Pentagon before publishing and had re-
                                 author of “The Bookseller of Kabul” is the         ceived no request to hold the reports, but
                                 latest example.                                    the Pentagon replied that it had not been
                                                                                    supplied with any details (and if it had, in-
                                 The European Court of Human Rights                 junctions might have been obtained on na-
                                 (ECtHR), once the vanguard of free speech          tional security grounds, at least in the UK).
                                 in Europe, has lost its way, with some intel-      The media could not decide whether Julian
                                 lectually inferior judgments which lack            Assange, the fly-by-night founder of Wik-
                                 understanding of the practicalities of jour-       iLeaks, was a hero or villain, or even
                                 nalism and of the principles of freedom of         whether he was a journalist.
                                 expression. There is some good news from
                                 abroad: The Speech Act in the US Congress          Clearly, old definitions of journalism and
                                 promises to discourage some forms of libel         ancient debates over media responsibility
                                 tourism - but the challenges of defending          must be revisited and updated. The Penta-
                                 free speech in this Internet age are greater       gon Papers case in itself – that great
                                 than ever.                                         Supreme Court rejection of censorship on
                                                                                    grounds of national security – made ex-
                                 The first challenge for the media is to agree      ceptions where lives were at stake or
                                 on free speech principles in relation to elec-     where the publication revealed “troop
                                 tronic publishing, an agreement that was           movements in wartime,” and arguably the
                                 so embarrassingly lacking at the end of the        WikiLeaks material revealed both. But
                                 first week of the WikiLeaks saga (the point        who is to decide - Mr. Assange? Or the edi-
                                 at which I am writing).                            tors of the Guardian, or the Pentagon cen-
                                                                                    sors? Ultimately, I suppose, the Taliban - if
                                 The 75,000 pages of raw war data were              it actually uses the information for lethal
                                 made available exclusively to The New              reprisals.

                                                                                                              IPI REPORT      45
But this cannot be the basis of a free speech    ment freedoms, has no constitutional pro-      What has gone wrong with the European
principle, which must either be absolute         tection for sources (the result of an ad-      Convention is fairly clear and is to some ex-
(putting the onus on the military to en-         verse 5:4 decision in Branzburg v Hayes),      tent a question of what has gone wrong
crypt or otherwise secure information re-        and it severely punishes those who blow        with the calibre of judges on the ECtHR.
lating to informers and to protect them          the whistle to journalists from govern-
should their cover get blown) or else to         ment offices (a Sunday Times source for        When the Convention was formulated,
make sensible distinctions that are based        information from the US Drug Enforce-          back in 1950, it was endowed with a free-
on the long-run public interest, i.e. the        ment Agency’s files about UK politicians       standing and quite formidable freedom of
public’s right to know the extent to which a     was recently jailed for two years).            expression (Article 10(1)) defeasible only if
brutal war fought in its name is killing in-                                                    “necessary in a democratic society” to serve
nocent civilians through irresponsible or il-    If the implications for national security      some overriding public interests including
legal targeting decisions.                       transparency call for more considered          the rights and reputations of others.
                                                 media ethics as the basis for a common po-
If Mr. Assange is not a journalist, he is cer-   sition against the new Official Secrecy laws   So Article 10 set up a presumption in favor
tainly an awfully big source for journalists     that are being threatened, the almost expo-    of free speech - the individual’s right to pri-
and the media has a duty to protect him          nential development of privacy law needs       vacy and reputation were exceptions to be
and his subsidiary sources if it uses their      forceful and immediate challenge, cer-         narrowly construed and applied only
material. It must be remembered that the         tainly in Europe where the growth is rap-      where necessary to reflect an overriding
US, for all its much admired First Amend-        idly turning privacy into a jungle.            social need. The right to privacy in Article 8

46       IPI REPORT
                                                                                                  Far left: Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg
                                                                                                  outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles at
                                                                                                  the hight of the Pentagon Papers Scandal, 1973.

                                                                                                  Left: Max Mosley leaves the Royal Court
                                                                                                  of Justice on 24 July 2008 after winning
                                                                                                  a privacy-invasion lawsuit over the claims
                                                                                                  by the News of the World that he took part in
                                                                                                  a Nazi-themed orgy.

                                                                                                     a public context, which may fall within
                                                                                                     the scope of private life.”

                                                                                                  This psycho-babble provides no compre-
                                                                                                  hensible basis for restrictions on freedom
                                                                                                  to communicate truthful information:
                                                                                                  what is meant by “a zone of interaction of a
                                                                                                  person with others even in a public con-
                                                                                                  text”? National courts have interpreted it as
                                                                                                  a recipe for awarding damages for the pub-
                                                                                                  lication of truthful information and even
                                                                                                  opinion about public figures caught in
                                                                                                  morally dubious circumstances and Silvio
                                                                                                  Belusconi is trying to make it the basis for a
                                                                                                  new law that will stop the Italian media
                                                                                                  from poking their noses and lenses and mi-
                                                                                                  crophones into aspects of his life that oth-
                                                                                                  ers might regard as corrupt.

                                                                                                  The plaintiffs in the “Bookseller of Kabul”
                                                                                                  case invited the journalist into their home
                                                                                                  to write a book about them: When it turned
                                                                                                  out to be less than hagiographic they sued.
                                                                                                  One of the booksellers’ wives received
                                                                                                  €26,000 ($33,264) for the invasion of her
was limited to “the right to respect for his     cle 8 to include protection of the “reputa-      privacy. Formula One mogul and son of a
family life his home and his correspon-          tion” and requiring a “balancing act” be-        prominent British fascist, Max Mosely,
dence.”                                          tween Articles 8 and 10. And of course, it is    whose penchant for beating women for
                                                 judges - not editors - that get to do the bal-   pleasure (his and theirs) was exposed by a
There was debate over whether to include         ancing. The rot set in with the decision in      British tabloid, received £60,000 ($67,776)
“honor and reputation” as a privacy right        the Von Hannover case, in which it was de-       for breach of privacy. He should have re-
but this was emphatically rejected. There        cided that Princess Caroline of Monaco           ceived damages for libel - he was wrongly
was to be no “balancing act” between Arti-       could not be photographed in a public            accused of running a Nazi sex orgy, when in
cles 8 and 10: Media cases should be de-         place:                                           fact it had been an old fashioned British sex
cided according to the taxonomy of Article                                                        orgy. He has now been permitted to take his
10 with privacy and reputation as a limited        “…private life, in the court’s view, in-       case to the European Court claiming that
exception to free speech. This was the ap-         cludes a person’s physical and psycho-         Article 8 requires prior notification by the
proach in the court’s early free speech cases,     logical integrity;… Article 8 of the Con-      media to those who they intend to expose.
permitting the courts to publish full details      vention is primarily intended to ensure        So celebrities can run to court and obtain
of the thalidomide tragedy and allowing re-        the development, without outside inter-        pre-publication injunctions. These devel-
porter Bill Goodwin to protect his source.         ference, of the personality of each indi-      opments have been opposed by the media
                                                   vidual in his relations with other human       in different countries in a half-hearted and
But in recent years, the court has changed         beings…There is therefore a zone of in-        disorganised way, which has failed to
its approach, improperly interpreting Arti-        teraction of a person with others, even in     curb the unprincipled growth of privacy

                                                                                                                                  IPI REPORT        47
                                                                                                 Left: Founder and Editor of WikiLeaks,
                                                                                                 Julian Assange, faces the media in
                                                                                                 London 27 July 2010, following the
                                                                                                 website’s release of 90,000 US army
                                                                                                 and intelligence documents.

                                                                                                  The first challenge for
                                                                                                  media is to agree on free
                                                                                                  speech principles in
                                                                                                  relation to electronic
restraints that are impacting severely on        shopping - the device of suing in Europe
journalists and authors exacerbated by the       (especially in plaintiff friendly London) to
failure of many of the current European          harass foreign publishers. But it will apply
court judges to understand and apply free        mainly to protect US publishers, by pre-
speech principles.                               venting libel awards being enforced in the
                                                 US The European media need to lobby to
This process will continue unless and until      change the laws here which give plaintiffs
the European, national and international         far too much choice about where to sue, es-
media make common cause and put their            pecially in relation to Internet publica-
collective heads together and fight the          tions.
growth of privacy law and stop the progres-
sive weakening of Article 10.                    Press freedom is so often a case of one step
                                                 forward and two steps back. There have
It must also be remembered, of course, that      been some important advances but plain-
free speech is a right to be enjoyed by the      tiffs’ lawyers have regrouped and retaken
public, and the public has no legitimate in-     the offensive. The new “right to personal
terest in protecting the publication of false-   dignity” in the Lisbon Treaty will be a great
hoods or reckless half truths or in permit-      boost to those of their clients seeking to
ting paparazzi to harass celebrities or allow-   protect “dignity” which their secret deal-
ing journalists to publish personal informa-     ings - if exposed - would show they do not
tion without public interest justification.      deserve. There are big battles ahead for        Geoffrey Robertson QC is head of Doughty Street
                                                 freedom of expression, and the media will       Chambers and author of “Media Law” (5th edition),
The Speech Act, which is likely to be ap-        lose them unless it can come together with      “Crimes Against Humanity” and “The Case of the
proved by the US Congress later this year,       a Europe wide, if not a worldwide, strategy     Pope”, all published by Penguin Books.
will do something to discourage forum            for winning the struggle.

48       IPI REPORT
                                                                           Tags: Democratic Deficit, Regulated, Restricted

Legislation and Libel Laws
Erode Press Freedom,
Jeopardizing Democracy
By Robin Esser

With regulation, less is more,
if it protects journalism’s public
service function rather than
                                     A            few years ago I was asked to
                                     give evidence to a British quango called the
                                     Better Regulation Commission. I began my
                                     address with the words: Better regulation,
                                     in my book, is less regulation.
                                                                                      independence of those newspapers has
                                                                                      been hedged in by new legislation and by
                                                                                      the increasingly draconian and expensive
                                                                                      laws of libel and privacy, eroding freedom of
                                                                                      the press to an alarming extent. Democracy
undermining it.
                                                                                      itself is in danger on a local, regional and na-
                                     This is especially true as far as newspapers,    tional level in Britain.
                                     in all their forms, are concerned, and it is
                                     also true of television, which is regulated in   Few people realise that the Labour Govern-
                                     the UK with statutory force.                     ment, almost as its last act, brought in a law,
                                                                                      the Bribery Act – which could, and given the
                                     Only in the US is press freedom a part of the    impact on Members of Parliament probably
                                     Constitution. In Britain – the supposed cra-     would – have been used to prevent the Daily
                                     dle of democracy – the media is only half        Telegraph publishing their MP’s expenses
                                     free and faces an uncertain future in the        exposé, which has altered the face of Parlia-
                                     face of authoritarian laws, publicly funded      ment forever.
                                     rivals, feather-bedded by taxpayer money,
                                     and economic stress.                             Agreed that so far this century no editors
                                                                                      have been thrown into British jails and no
                                     The restrictions on news media in Britain        presses have been blown up.
                                     send the wrong message abroad, encourag-
                                     ing regulation of the media in other parts of    Journalists working in oppressive and dic-
                                     the world and bringing comfort to those          tatorial regimes, sometimes in fear of their
                                     who wish to keep their populations in ig-        lives, may think these restrictions are minor
                                     norance.                                         – but they encourage those oppressions
                                                                                      when the Mother of All Parliaments counte-
                                     The case for official regulation of TV has       nances such restrictions.
                                     long since gone with the multiplicity of
                                     channels now available. The UK govern-           In Britain there are now many Acts under
                                     ment could save a lot of taxpayers money         which journalists can be jailed for doing
                                     by abolishing the broadcast regulator,           their job.
                                                                                      Prison is the punishment for breaches of the
                                     Ironically, as the influence of newspapers       Bribery Act (10 years), potentially in the
                                     has extended online far beyond the bound-        Data Protection Act (two years) in the Ha-
                                     aries of their physical circulation areas, the   rassment Act, and in the anti-terrorist laws.

                                                                                                                  IPI REPORT       49
                             Right: Front page of
                             The Daily Telegraph
                                12 October 2009

It is prescribed in the Representation of the
People Act (6 months); in the Criminal Jus-
tice & Public Order Act 1994; in the Crimi-
nal Justice & Immigration Act 2008 – stir-
ring up hatred on grounds of sexual orien-
tation (6 months or 7 years) in the Racial &
Religious Hatred Act 2006; in the Public
Order Act and the Criminal Justice Act
1987; and in the Official Secrets Act 1989.
It’s a wonder any of us are free!

While the Government protests that these
laws are not intended to suppress press
freedom, how long before a government
that wants to reduce media criticism comes
into power?

Legislation, hanging over news media like
the Sword of Damocles, is not the only

Britain has one of the world’s most dracon-
ian and expensive set of libel laws which
are a constant threat to freedom. When it
costs up to £1,000,000 or more to defend a
defamation case due to the 100 percent
success fees upgrade introduced by the last
government, editors are reluctant to risk a
controversial story which could bankrupt
their publisher.

Added to that are the sinister ranks of PR,         fering in domestic law, is to hear a case    information the public should know but
spin doctors, agents and clever lawyers             being brought by Max Mosley which de-        has been hidden from them heretofore by
who are dedicated to projecting and pro-            mands the establishment of a rigid “prior    obsessive secrecy on the part of those who
tecting their rich clients’ reputations at the      notification” requirement for all critical   rule over us. However, having let the genie
expense of the truth. The use of super in-          stories.                                     out of the bottle, the government then tried
junctions and injunctions to suppress legit-                                                     to weaken the Act and protect rafts of pub-
imate stories, and the development by un-           Imagine what the powerful international      lic service workers from its probes. In
elected judges of a privacy law in their in-        drug companies, the conglomerates, and       Britain, the Society of Editors helped to
terpretation of the vague terms of the              the rich and powerful would make of that     ward off this backsliding.
Human Rights Act, have a chilling effect on         in terms of suppression of the news!
investigative journalism.                                                                        The Society recently produced a compre-
                                                    Prior notification would soon become         hensive report, written by Professor Peter
As we come more and more under the in-              prior restraint.                             Cole, Emeritus Professor of Journalism at
fluence and power of Europe, the threat of                                                       the University of Sheffield and a former na-
further restrictive regulation at the behest        Society of Editors Fights to Enhance         tional newspaper editor.
of the European Court of Human Rights               Media Freedom
(ECtHR) is all too real. The ECtHR, criticised      The last government must take credit for     In writing about the so-called “democratic
by Lord Hoffman as being unable to resist           the Freedom of Information Act which has     deficit” in Britain today he identified the
“aggrandising its jurisdiction” and as inter-       enabled so many news outlets to ferret out   following problems:

50       IPI REPORT
                                                                                                      Possible new candidates for the position of Speaker
                                                                                                      of the House of Commons presented their manifestos
                                                                                                      to fellow Members of Parliament and the media
                                                                                                      in London, 15 June 2009. The position became
                                                                                                      available following the forced resignation
                                                                                                      of Speaker Michael Martin in the wake of the
                                                                                                      parliamentary expenses scandal.

                                                                                                      pers and magazines. As this is an editors’
                                                                                                      code, the editors have signed up for it and
                                                                                                      are therefore ready and able to stick to it.
                                                                                                      This code is administered by the independ-
                                                                                                      ent Press Complaints Commission, which
                                                                                                      has a majority of lay commissioners drawn
                                                                                                      from public life and a minority of editors
                                                                                                      from the industry. It is financed by the
                                                                                                      newspaper industry itself. Despite all the
                                                                                                      barriers that must be surmounted, I am an
                                                                                                      optimist. I believe that the public’s appetite
                                                                                                      for news is undiminished and it is in satis-
                                                                                                      fying this appetite that the future of the
                                                                                                      media and its journalists lies.

  “One of the most significant threats to         ects are more discussed than imple-                 We need to be constantly on the watch for
  media freedom, to the public’s right to         mented.                                             attempts to get between the public and the
  know, is not the result of legislation or                                                           media. So while I think our system of self-
  regulation but of recession and eco-            Meanwhile local communities, towns and              regulation is just about acceptable in a
  nomic decline. The crisis of advertising        cities are under-reported and the public            democracy – I would end by repeating
  and circulation decline in the print            service role of the local and regional media,       what I said at the beginning.
  media particularly, of advertising and          to hold those in power to account and to
  audience decline in commercial broad-           represent those over whom power is exer-            Better regulation is less regulation. Set the
  casting and of enforced cuts in the BBC,        cised, is left wanting.                             news media free and the future will be
  all contribute to what has been called                                                              more assured.
  the democratic deficit.”                        Adding to the concern is the emergence of a
                                                  number of council-funded newspapers,
The regional and local press has experi-          supported by council tax revenue and pur-
enced this worst, with newspaper closures         porting to fill the gap left by traditional local
and reductions in editorial staffs as a con-      newspaper coverage. MPs and editors have
sequence of declining revenues.                   called for an investigation into these coun-
                                                  cil newspapers which they say threaten the
This democratic deficit is now widely             survival of independent local media and
recognised, but there is little action, if that   undermine democracy. The Society of Edi-
is possible, to redress it. There are sugges-     tors describes such newspapers as an ‘insult
tions of public funding for local media; the      to democracy.’ The papers mislead the pub-
Press Association (PA) – Britain’s premier        lic by posing as independent media, and
news agency – has initiated what it calls a       also damage commercial counterparts by
Public Service Reporting Project where it         encroaching upon their advertising terri-
would organise a pilot for court and coun-        tory. In Britain we have a very effective sys-
cil coverage with reports                                           tem of self-regulation. While
available freely to anyone       I believe that the                 US editors would and could
who would wish to publish
them; local websites and
                                 public’s appetite                  reject such a system out of
                                                                    hand, in Britain it works
new free newspapers have         for news is                        well.
emerged; new local broad-
casting franchises are being
                                 undiminished and                 A committee of editors
                                                                                                      Robin Esser is Executive Managing Editor of the
                                                                                                      Daily Mail. He is also the Chair of the Society of Ed-
set up. But the PA project is    it is in satisfying              drawn from across the in-           itors’ Parliamentary and Legal Committee. He has
finding it hard to secure
funding and the other proj-
                                 this appetite that               dustry devises a code which
                                                                  sets standards for newspa-
                                                                                                      been on Fleet Street for over 50 years.

                                 the future of the
                                 media lies.                                                                                         IPI REPORT          51
Tags: Protected, Rights

Media Freedom in a New
Media Landscape
By Damian Tambini

How we define media freedom
affects how we defend it.
Freedom of expression is a
                                  T      he theme of the Congress of the In-
                                  ternational Press Institute in 2010 is ‘Media
                                  Freedom in a New Media Landscape’. But
                                  we don’t often stop to consider what we
                                  mean when we use the term ‘media free-
                                                                                  front of the developing law on freedom of
                                                                                  expression. In Europe, for example, the cel-
                                                                                  ebrated Sunday Times vs. the UK (1979)
                                                                                  and Jersild vs. Denmark (1994) judgements
                                                                                  by the European Court of Human Rights,
universal right, while freedom
                                  dom.’ My guess is that it would be difficult    and a series of others since the 1970s, have
of the press may be more          to find people at the Congress prepared to      set out clear safeguards that prevent gov-
                                  speak out against media freedom. The            ernments within the European Court of
limited, and it remains unclear
                                  question, in a globalizing world where a        Human Rights system from controlling the
what the rights of citizen        growing majority of the population do not       media.
                                  have effective protection of fundamental
journalists are or should be.
                                  rights, is surely how media freedom is to be    The Inter-American and African human
                                  defended.                                       rights systems offer hope for similar
                                                                                  progress in the future elsewhere in the
                                  But is it so simple? We must draw a clear       world. It is important to remember that
                                  distinction between media freedom, which        whilst there are numerous international
                                  applies to the media, and freedom of ex-        declarations, treaties and communica-
                                  pression, which applies to everyone. These      tions that mention media freedom, it is
                                  principles are not always one and the same.     freedom of expression – rather than free-
                                  Is media freedom – and its close relative       dom of the media, the press or journalism
                                  ‘press freedom’ – ultimately the freedom of     per se – that tends to be protected by con-
                                  those who own, or control the press and         stitutions.
                                  broadcasters? What happens when free-
                                  dom of expression and media freedom col-        So journalists are fighting for freedom of
                                  lide, as for example when a politician de-      expression on behalf of everyone. But there
                                  mands access to the media to express her        is an ongoing debate in various countries
                                  point of view, but a media company re-          regarding the extent to which journalists
                                  fuses?                                          have special rights as journalists, or
                                                                                  whether in fact journalistic freedom is a
                                  Perhaps even more attractive to the partic-     subset of freedom of expression.
                                  ipants in the IPI Congress will be the notion
                                  of ‘journalistic freedom’. This too can only    Does, and should, the law reflect a specific
                                  be a good thing, surely. Well, those of us      category, journalists, to whom special priv-
                                  who have spent a lot of time with journal-      ileges – and perhaps responsibilities –
                                  ists may think we might want to think           should be given? What happens when
                                  about some limits.                              there is a conflict between media freedom
                                                                                  and the freedom of journalists? Should
                                  But on a serious note, journalists and          journalists be given specific legal protec-
                                  media companies have been at the fore-          tion from their owners?

                                                                                                   Left: Silenced. A journalist
                                                                                                   protests against the nationwide
                                                                                                   violence directed at journalists
                                                                                                   in Mexico City, 7 August 2010

                                                                                                      public advantage, the press can enter
                                                                                                      into no close or binding alliances with
                                                                                                      the statesmen of the day, nor can it sur-
                                                                                                      render its permanent interests to the
                                                                                                      convenience of the ephemeral power of
                                                                                                      any government.”

                                                                                                   The professionalization of journalism and
                                                                                                   the development of media freedoms have
A previous generation of thinkers on these        Interestingly, the UN Special Rapporteur         gone hand in hand. Judges tend to be more
issues, in the 1970s, tried to develop a no-      for freedom of expression, Frank de la Rue,      likely to accept that journalists have acted
tion that incorporated freedom of expres-         has recently taken a similar position.           in the public interest and that media com-
sion with freedoms of journalists and of the                                                       panies deserve protection when they have
media into a ‘right to communicate.’ In so        But is not theoretical debates about rights      been doing ‘responsible journalism.’
doing they derived a right of access to the       that will determine the future landscape of
media, reasoning that if freedom of expres-       media freedom and freedom of expression.         A difficult one to test, and judges nearly al-
sion is to mean anything in a communica-          It is political will on the one hand, and the    ways defer to the journalists themselves to
tions system dominated by the mass media          daily grind and experimentation of work-         decide what is responsible, but the point is
of press and broadcasting, people need to         ing journalists, and the legal and political     that where journalists’ actions impact on
have access to those media.                       battles that they and others fight on the        other people’s rights – to reputation, for ex-
                                                  other.                                           ample, or to privacy – judges and others are
Ultimately, the attempt to merge media                                                             keen to see that journalists are acting re-
freedom and freedom of expression, re-            For the subtle balances that have been in-       sponsibly. In this sense, media freedoms
flected in work carried out by UNESCO, the        stitutionalised in the laws, rules, codes and,   are conditional on good behaviour.
New World Information and Communica-              crucially in the everyday practices of jour-
tion Order, and others, failed.                   nalists are the product of centuries of legal    So where does all this leave ‘Media Free-
                                                  reasoning, professional development and          dom in a New Media Age’? Whilst it is true
In part, it failed because offering open ac-      political street-fighting.                       that the current period may be one of a par-
cess to scarce communications resources                                                            ticular disjuncture – new technologies fun-
such as transmitters and presses was im-          A definitive statement about press power         damentally alter business models, and ar-
practicable. More recently, authors such as       was set out in a Times editorial from 1854:      guably the financing of ‘responsible jour-
Karol Jacubowicz and others have revisited                                                         nalism’ – it is only by understanding the
this topic, arguing that rights to communi-         “We cannot admit that its purpose is to        past and the longer term development of
cate are possible now that the Internet of-         share the labours of statesmanship, or         what we now call media freedom, that we
fers the possibility of universal access to the     that it is bound by the same limitations,      can understand this present.
means of mass communication.                        the same duties, the same liabilities as
                                                    that of the ministers of the Crown. The        There are two views of how we got to where
Jacubowicz himself proposes that the right          purpose and duties of the two powers           we are. On one hand – in England we
to free expression should be replaced with          are constantly separate, generally inde-       would call this a Whig view – there is the
the right to public expression in the new           pendent, sometimes diametrically op-           view that media freedom is the product of
media age. (See the papers gathered to-             posed. The dignity and freedom of the          the steady, long march of liberal enlighten-
gether on the website:              press are trammelled from the moment           ment values. The gradual acceptance of a              it accepts an ancillary position. To per-      brilliant and simple idea: the view that, fol-
we-really-need-a-right-to-public-expres-            form its duties with entire independ-          lowing John Stewart Mill, freedom of ex-
sion/.)                                             ence, and consequently with the utmost         pression is the best way of guaranteeing

                                                                                                                                      IPI REPORT   53
truth, democracy and self-expression, and        out some clear boundaries in the standoff         protecting journalists: It is crucial that the
therefore social progress.                       between governments and the media. But            value of media freedom is robustly de-
                                                 the current crisis of the business model,         fended, particularly where freedom of ex-
Another view of the development of media         and therefore of the fourth estate, itself        pression is not protected, and where media
freedom is that it has been hard fought, and     leads to an uncomfortable question. Can           freedom is not merely the freedom of
only really gained acceptance through the        we have media freedom without media               media owners.
development of the brute power of the            power?
‘Fourth Estate’ and the sometimes brutal                                                           But at the same time, we must be prepared
deployment of media power in the defence         If media freedom requires ‘the brute power        for a much more fundamental renegotia-
of media freedom and the interests of            of the press,’ this has implications for how      tion of the social compact between media
media owners.                                    most effectively to work to establish media       and the state in coming years. And a new
                                                 freedom around the world and how to re-           framework for media freedom.
The truth, as ever, is probably somewhere        spond to the current blurring of the cate-
in between. But this is not just a theoretical   gories of media, journalist and press free-
exercise. Asking questions about what            dom.                                                We must draw a clear
rights and responsibilities journalists have,
and – both historically and politically –        Should citizen journalists and others be ac-
                                                                                                     distinction between
why they have these rights, is crucial at this   cepted into the fold? If they are to enjoy the      media freedom – which
particular moment.                               protection of the law, how best can self-reg-
                                                 ulation and professionalization govern
                                                                                                     applies to the media –
This is an important question when we ask        their ‘responsible’ behaviour? And in the           and freedom of
about how the law and other institutions         established democracies, how is responsi-
should treat bloggers, citizen journalists,      ble journalism – upon which media free-
                                                                                                     expression, which
Twitterers and the other ‘networked jour-        dom depends – to be protected where the             applies to everyone.
nalists’ of the Internet age.                    business model for news is being under-
Should amateur bloggers get the same
privileges – in terms, for example, of source    Oxford Professor of Internet Studies Bill
protection – as traditional journalists?         Dutton has suggested that we should think
Whether they enjoy the same privileges of        of the Internet as a ‘Fifth Estate.’ (EDITOR’S
access to information is often a question for    NOTE: SEE PAGE 22) I disagree, for two rea-
the sources, rather than society at large. But   sons. First, the Internet has none of the de-
government information is the key source.        liberate, self-conscious power that the
Should governments be able to control key        press and the other estates have exercised.
announcements as they have, or should            And second, there is no real boundary be-
government data and freedom of informa-          tween ‘the Internet’ and the press.
tion be radically opened in order to foster
networked journalism?                            In my view, Fourth Estate power is indeed
                                                 faltering, but it is not in a terminal decline.
Clearly, we are at a crossroads. In the ma-      The role that the media have played in so-
ture democracies of Europe and North             cial progress remains crucial, but we are far
America at least, and in some other coun-        enough in to the Internet age to be aware         Damian Tambini was appointed as Senior Lecturer
tries to varying extents, an accommodation       that the shift we are witnessing is a funda-      in the Department of Media and Communications,
had been reached between state and polit-        mental one.                                       LSE, in September 2006. He is also an Associate
ical power and the power of the media. The                                                         Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research
notion of the fourth estate – a familiar one     So this is a period in which debate and           (IPPR) and at the Oxford Internet Institute. His
in France and the Anglo-Saxon world – re-        openness is required, about how the media         research interests include media law and policy,
flects the notion that the power of the          are changing, and about how to foster re-         and ethics and regulation in a changing media
media has a pseudo-constitutional status,        sponsible journalism. Debate about the fu-        environment.
and the law on freedom of expression set         ture should not deflect us from the task of

54       IPI REPORT
                                                                                                Tags: Global, Open, Threatened

Defending Freedom of
Expression on the Internet
By Susan Pointer

The Internet has equipped
journalists and non-journalists
alike with a platform that
                                          W              ith great foresight, the au-
                                          thors of Article 19 of the United Nations
                                          Universal Declaration of Human Rights ex-
                                          tended the basic right of freedom of opin-
                                          ion and expression – including the free-
                                                                                         information that holds public value and in-
                                                                                         terest from the local or foreign to the na-
                                                                                         tional and global, often from behind barri-
                                                                                         ers and walls.
enables – but does not guarantee
                                          dom “to hold opinions without interfer-        Protecting human rights and freedoms
– extraordinary expression of             ence and to seek, receive and impart infor-    in the Internet era
                                          mation and ideas” – to “any media and re-      The technology on which the Internet is
opinion and distribution of
                                          gardless of frontiers”. Even back in 1948,     based is inherently global and open. It has
information.                              such a human right was considered to be        no central control point or managed infor-
                                          technology and geography-neutral.              mation ‘push’, but instead relies on multi-
                                                                                         ple entry points and the ability for any one
                                          In media terms, this principle has tradi-      Internet user to ‘pull’ any online content
                                          tionally played out most in the written        that others have chosen to make available.
                                          media, not only with reflection of different   We are only just beginning to comprehend
                                          voices and viewpoints, but also through        and appreciate the value of an open and ac-
                                          committed and - all too often - necessarily    cessible platform in supporting human
                                          very brave journalists working to bring        rights and freedoms, transparency and

     A supporter of Google in China
     pays his respects at the company’s
     headquarters, 15 January 2010.
accountability: Politicians and their elec-      on the world beyond our immediate envi-        Furthermore, authoritarian or statist
torate in direct communication, spotlights       ronment, challenging us with new infor-        regimes that want to monopolise or restrict
thrown on corrupt governmental and insti-        mation and competing opinions; also in         information distribution are becoming in-
tutional practices, real-time visual chal-       many cases mobilising people to come to-       creasingly technology-savvy and are not
lenges of reported ‘facts’, citizen journalism   gether - either virtually or physically -      always content to sit back and watch this
and so on.                                       around shared concerns and campaigns.          information revolution. Censorship and
                                                                                                restrictions can take many forms, from the
Mobile Internet technology has become a          Empowered and news-hungry individuals          blatant to the more discreet or indirect: fil-
new tool in upholding human rights and           are, it seems, actively seeking a broader      tering content through firewalls; blocking
exposing corruption, particularly in the         plurality of news sources, and the news        websites at the ISP level; introducing re-
hands of those around the globe who have         sources themselves are increasingly part-      strictive regulations on content and on
not in the past had access to mass commu-        nering with new players. Take the recent       hosting platforms; walled gardens; and
nications. A personal phone handset has          volatile post-election period in Iran where,   technical barriers to prevent access to for-
provided a new group of individuals with         excluded themselves from Iran, some in-        eign sites.
tools to become electronic bearers of wit-       ternational broadcasters transmitted their
ness on events going on around them, e.g.        news from the offices of user-generated        At a more subtle level, some require li-
after the military junta shut down commu-        content platforms such as YouTube who          censes that are not granted, insist on local
nications in Burma.                              were receiving live video postings from        legal establishment of a foreign Webser-
                                                 users on the ground.                           vice, or apply local domestic legal require-
The incredible power of online translation                                                      ments to an incoming service. Sophisti-
tools also is often missed in acknowledging      Encroaching threats                            cated information security attacks, and -
innovations that have helped tear down, in       But this doesn’t mean that we are all of a     perhaps most insidious of all - active culti-
this case, linguistic barriers to communica-     sudden in some information and free ex-        vation of fear of contributing information
tions flows around the world. Many of us         pression utopia, the aims of Article 19 of     or views online, promote a self-censorship
now have access to local primary sources of      the UN Human Rights Declaration met.           culture, which risks generations growing
information in languages unfamiliar to us        The freedoms that the Internet facilitates     up shaped to think and operate only within
and can participate actively in the conver-      with respect to open communication and         artificially-constructed silos.
sation in our own languages.                     information access are not universally em-
                                                 braced by those who have traditionally         And this is a phenomenon that doesn’t just
In this way, the Internet has offered an ad-     preferred to control information and com-      happen in distant countries. We are seeing
ditional powerful means to have a window         munication.                                    an alarming trend of filtering and control
                                                                                                efforts much closer to home, in those very
                                                                                                countries that genuinely espouse the prin-
                                                                                                ciples of a free society. Sometimes, author-
                                                                                                ities acting with the best (and shared) in-
                                                                                                tentions such as protecting children online
                                                                                                or dealing with illegal content, can display
                                                                                                a tendency to over-reach or to apply
                                                                                                disproportionate restrictions on the Inter-
                                                                                                net when there are more appropriate ways
                                                                                                to deal with legitimate challenges, most re-
                                                                                                cently in Australia. The impact of such ‘jus-
                                                                                                tification-creep’ – if it proceeds unnoticed
                                                                                                and unchecked – can, in time, fundamen-
                                                                                                tally risk the open accessible Internet.

                                                                                                As users seek ways around political censor-
                                                                                                ship, it is inevitable that censorship, block-
                                                                                                ing and filtering methods will continue to
                                                                                                evolve also.

56       IPI REPORT
                                                                                 Censorship and
What does all of this mean for Google?           even though this video was                                       This is admittedly still at a
We believe strongly in maximising access         removed by the company
                                                                                 restrictions can                 very early stage of develop-
to expression and opinion, that access to        upon notification of its ex-    take many forms,                 ment but is nonetheless an
information and the ability to exchange          istence (in line with the re-                                    attempt to bring greater
ideas lies at the heart of robust knowledge,     quirements of the Euro-
                                                                                 from the blatant                 transparency to the discus-
integration of different viewpoints, better      pean e-commerce Direc-          to the more dis-                 sion about government-
decision-making, transparency, accounta-         tive).                                                           sought and court-order re-
bility, good governance and empowered in-
                                                                                 creet or indirect.               movals of content from the
dividuals. Making information universally        This ruling - which we are                                       Web.
accessible and useful is what brought the        appealing - sets a particularly dangerous
company into being in the first place, as        precedent because it implies that any em-        Let’s not take the open Internet for
Larry Page and Sergey Brin sought to make        ployee of an online hosting platform - such      granted
it easier for people to find what they were      as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, DailyMo-          There is an expression that you only appre-
looking for on the Web.                          tion or even blogs sections on online news-      ciate what you have when it’s gone. Let
                                                 papers - can be held criminally-responsible      that not be the case for the Internet. This is
Many of Google’s products are platforms          for content that is uploaded unbeknown to        a critical moment to get ahead of that
for retrieving information and contribut-        them by a third-party.                           rather unfortunate timeline based on loss
ing content and views. Yes, there is Google                                                       and regret and instead to be vigilant and
Search, but also Blogger, Google Earth and                                                        consciously defend this incredible means
Google Maps, Google Books, Gmail, collab-        Cooperative action and transparency on           for upholding our right to seek, receive and
orative document creation in Google Apps,        censorship                                       impart information and ideas through any
YouTube etc.                                     Three years ago, Google joined negotia-          means. Our taking the open Internet for
                                                 tions with Microsoft, Yahoo, human rights        granted may ultimately be one of the
But as a global company operating across         groups, responsible investors and others         biggest risks it faces.
more than 150 countries, all with their own      in Europe and the US to see if we could ar-
cultures and cultural sensitivities, history,    rive at a code of conduct for how technol-
legal environment, case-law and politics,        ogy companies operating in restrictive
the role of being a provider of such com-        regimes could best operate to promote
munication tools is not always a straight-       freedom of expression and the privacy of
forward one.                                     users.

Access to YouTube is banned in Turkey, for       These discussions resulted in the Global
example, because YouTube has chosen to           Network Initiative (GNI). The principles to
reject an order to remove on a global basis      which we have all subscribed through GNI
a handful of videos that were uploaded in        set out a detailed set of guidelines outlining
the US to the US-based site but which            how companies and groups should re-
within Turkey are considered illegal             spond to government censorship attempts
because they are critical of Kemal Ataturk.      or government requests for personally-
The issue is not one of deliberate insensitiv-   identifiable information of users.
ity but rather a much deeper jurisdictional
discussion about whether one country can         At Google, we have also recently intro-
apply its domestic content laws on a global      duced a ‘Government requests’ tool. Like
basis to content hosted on a website out-        other technology and communications
side of that country.                            companies, we regularly receive requests
                                                 from government agencies or courts
We also have Google employees who re-            around the world to remove content from
cently received suspended sentences in an        our services or for information about the        Susan Pointer is Google Inc.’s Director of Public
Italian Court for allegedly violating privacy    users. The tool is an attempt to bring a         Policy and Government Relations for Europe, Mid-
because of a video that was posted by a          greater level of transparency on such re-        dle East and Africa.
user to the Google Video online platform,        quests.

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT        57
                                                                                                     Take-aways from Chapter One:

Trends and Tips to Build
the Business and Enhance
the Craft
By Bill Mitchell

If only we could put Ushahidi to use (see Chapter Two) in mapping
the crises facing journalism around the world.

Short of that, the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger summarizes key
trends with the term “mutualisation,” the growing openness and
                                                                       Consider two takes on the future of print.

                                                                       Jeff Jarvis argues that it’s time for news executives to “get ahead of
                                                                       the curve for once” and acknowledge what he regards as print’s in-
                                                                       evitable demise.

                                                                       “Kill the newspaper yourself,” he urges. “Pick a date in the less-dis-
                                                                       tant-than-you-think future and unplug the press. And then ask:
                                                                       What’s a newspaper? What is its real value? And how does that
collaboration among journalists and people they serve. They are        value live on and grow past paper?”
traits as important to the commerce of journalism as to its craft.
                                                                       Paul Tash leads a news organization, the St. Petersburg Times, that
“Openness is shorthand for the way in which the vast majority of       won one of the first Pulitzer Prizes ever awarded to a largely online
information is… part of a larger network, only a tiny proportion of    initiative – the paper's PolitiFact fact-checking service.
which is created by journalists,” Rusbridger points out, “Informa-
tion may not want to be free, but it does want to be linked.           But he still believes in print.

“It’s difficult to think of any information in the modern world        “A note of pessimism – even fatalism – has crept into the conver-
which doesn’t acquire more meaning, power, richness, context,          sation of some longtime newspaper operators…” Tash writes. “In
substance and impact by being intelligently linked to other infor-     this thinking, print is in a holding pattern against the future, and
mation.”                                                               creative energy should be devoted to all things digital. But not, I
                                                                       would caution, at the expense of our established print business.
Here’s the business-side consequence: Although the digital era has     Like any enterprise, it also needs fresh thinking and investment.”
eroded publishers’ control over information – and much of the
profitability that accrued to such exclusivity – it has created the    As evidence, he cites the free print tabloid his newspaper launched
opportunity to provide new value.                                      six years ago that now generates greater advertising revenues than
                                                                       the company’s website.
Linking opens the door to new products and services that render
the raw material of news ever more valuable to users and adver-        Whether you find yourself persuaded by Jarvis or Tash, I sense no
tisers. Collaboration – with users, competitors and others – enables   disagreement between the two on Tash’s guide to the future of
enhancement of value without adding big cost.                          news, which fits quite nicely in a mutualised world:

Mutualisation is also altering what Rusbridger characterizes as        • Control costs.
“the basic currency of journalism – the story.” In an open and col-    • Embrace new ways.
laborative world, a story comes to life long before it appears as a    • Believe in the business.
fully formed pyramid, its long tail delivering value to users long
after publication.                                                     Chapter Two provides examples of all three.

The views expressed in this report reflect no consensus, but nei-
ther do they fall into those tired old camps of Luddite and tri-

                                                                                                                          IPI REPORT      59
Tags: Engaged, Multiplatformed

Providing Platforms for
Community Involvement in
Journalism as a Social Good
By Grzegorz Piechota

Whether photographing a
disaster or monitoring maternity
wards, anyone can become an
                                   T      hat morning, Wroclaw, the fourth
                                   largest city in Poland, became a stronghold.
                                   Defenders were not soldiers, nor firefight-
                                   ers. They were people like us armed with
                                   their mobile phones.
                                                                                    One amateur video captured the river
                                                                                    breaking the embankment in the Kozanow
                                                                                    district of Wroclaw. One could see the
                                                                                    crowd running away and hear them swear-
                                                                                    ing to God.
‘accidental reporter.’ Gazeta
Wyborcza is providing platforms      Michal: “Kozanow district is fighting.         Watching streets under water I could not
                                     Nine lorries with soldiers, four diggers,      stop thinking about another flood that had
to channel that impulse so that
                                     hundreds of people try to make the river       hit the city in 1997. That time I was a young
community service journalism         embankment higher.”                            reporter at a local newsroom of my news-
                                     Marta: “They told us to evacuate the sick      paper Gazeta Wyborcza.
is supported, in part, by the
                                     and old. We are so worried and now
people it serves.                    we’ve run out of sand.”                        Our editorial office was under water as were
                                     Kasia: “In Kozanow water is pouring            the offices of the other three local newspa-
                                     through the embankment.”                       pers. In the early days of the flood, I lost my
                                     Magda: “Are you sure? What’s the source        car driving through the water, so I was sail-
                                     of this information?”                          ing across the city to collect information.
                                     Ziomek: “Confirmed: water really broke
                                     the embankment. Kozanow in panic!”.            Fixed line phones were down. Mobile
                                                                                    phones were very rare. The Internet was
                                   That morning, on 22 May 2010 – I was not         still a toy for geeks.
                                   there. I followed this fight with the flooding
                                   river on the Internet blog                       The flood of 2010 was so different. It af-
                                                                 fected a much smaller part
                                                                    How does it feel              of Wroclaw, destroyed
                                   Its editor, 29-year-old Pawel                                  many fewer houses and
                                   Andrzejczuk, a small busi-
                                                                    to be challenged              brought no casualties. But it
                                   ness owner, collaborated         by our own                    was a bigger news event, as
                                   with some 300 contributors                                     professional     journalists
                                   who fed his blog with over
                                                                    readers?                      were joined by amateurs
                                   3,000 news items and up-         Not so bad, as                who dared to provide inde-
                                   loaded 4 GB of photos and                                      pendent, 24-hour live news
                                                                    we have brought               coverage on the Internet.
                                                                    it upon ourselves,
60     IPI REPORT                                                   in a way.
                                                                                                 Left: Flooding in Wroclaw. When these
                                                                                                 citizens struggled to make the river’s
                                                                                                 embankment higher, other residents
                                                                                                 provided independent 24-hour live
                                                                                                 news coverage on the Internet.

                                                                                                 sition to bring independent journalism to
                                                                                                 the country and support underground Sol-
                                                                                                 idarity’s bid for the first free elections in

                                                                                                 Today, Gazeta is the most read quality
                                                                                                 newspaper here with an average paid cir-
                                                                                                 culation of 347,000 and 4.2 million readers
                                                                                                 reached in total every week in print. Our
                                                                                                 online portal (, the fourth largest
                                                                                                 website in Poland), attracts 11.8 million
                                                                                                 users a month. That’s 66 percent of all 17.8
                                                                                                 million Polish Internet users.

                                                                                                 Twenty-one years after its founding, Gazeta
                                                                                                 still believes its mission is broader than just
                                                                                                 delivering honest news. Since its launch it
                                                                                                 has been a voice of “modern Poland” – sup-
Everybody has a mobile phone with a cam-       The amateur news feed also had its flaws. I       porting democratic reforms, joining NATO
era now. Becoming an “accidental reporter”     had to cut through the jungle of rumors to        and the European Union. It has been help-
is just one click away.                        find revealing witness accounts, but at the       ing to build an open society by providing
                                               same time I felt as a reader that I had par-      platforms for debates and inspiring people
Pawel’s blog directly competed with all the    ticipated in something big and communal.          concerned with a common good.
TV news channels, radio newscasts and          Such a rare feeling in our individualistic
newspaper portals. In just five days it at-    world of “me.”                                    We have embraced new media as they
tracted 157,000 unique users in a city of                                                        make our efforts easier and more effective.
630,000 inhabitants. That’s about one-         Pawel might not be a professional news ed-        Our online forums ( let
third of what our established local news       itor, but over the last five years he has built   people discuss over 5,900 different topics
portal of Gazeta for Wroclaw is attracting     a strong online community. His Facebook           ranging from politics to education and
monthly.                                       profile had more than 2,600 fans at last          health-care to hobbies. Over the years, our
                                               count, almost as popular as our local             users have shared over 113 million posts
Fifty percent of users found Pawel’s blog      Gazeta’s profile. It all paid off during the      and two million photos.
when Googling for “flood in Wroclaw” and       flood. Finally, the trend described in Dan
similar keywords. They chose a link to an      Gillmor’s “We the Media” manifesto                Our blogging platform ( has be-
amateur news site instead of official          reached my part of the world.                     come the biggest in Poland, hosting over
sources, or professional media.                                                                  184,000 individual blogs. Pawel’s blog on
                                               Reader Participation Challenges Tradi-            the flood in Wroclaw is one of them. When
Official sources were disgraced as the         tional Media                                      water broke embankments of that city, it
mayor kept repeating Kozanow was safe,         So, how does it feel to be challenged by our      became the most read blog on the platform.
when it was not. Professional media – a bit    own readers? Not so bad, as we have               So, in fact, we have been sharing in all his
slower than the real-time Web, more confi-     brought it upon ourselves, in a way.              traffic successes.
dent of the official version and cautious of
the unconfirmed amateurs’ accounts –           My newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, was                We’ve even been sharing some revenues.
turned off some audiences.                     founded in 1989 by anti-communist oppo-           Pawel’s blog is a member of our online

                                                                                                                                IPI REPORT   61
advertising network ( This          So we asked mothers for help. In 1994, we        ers wrote in a letter we published on
network helps to turn visitors of blogs and      got 2,000 letters by post. In 2006, thanks to    Gazeta’s front page.
niche sites into advertisers and provides        the Internet, we gathered 40,000 personal
funding to independent voices. It has at-        accounts of childbirth. We were able to re-      Computers, mobile phones and the Inter-
tracted over 13,000 amateur and profes-          view 423, or 96 percent of all maternity         net are rarely used during lessons other
sional online publishers so far.                 wards in Poland and produce the most             than computer science. So now, together
                                                 comprehensive guide on hospitals ever. I         with some non-governmental organiza-
Technology Should Further a Mission              personally benefited from the results of         tions, we want to introduce new teaching
Our successes with these technologies raise      this campaign when my wife Magda was             ideas to the Polish schools.
fundamental questions: What is our media         pregnant and gave birth last year to our son
is for? What do we care about? And why           Adam.                                            How about asking teachers for help? Here
should people care about us?                                                                      is an idea: we give them examples, access to
                                                 As Adam will start school in a few years, I      experts and an online platform to share ex-
Here at Gazeta we care about the quality of      am looking forward to the results of an-         periences; then they develop multimedia
health-care. Since 1994 we have been re-         other campaign. Last June, we sent 25 re-        lesson scenarios and tools for themselves,
viewing maternity wards in Polish hospi-         porters back to their schools – public and       together with pupils. We start in Septem-
tals; we wished to improve passioned care        private all over Poland – to check whether       ber, and we plan to target 7,000 schools.
by proposing a set of standards and check-       they embrace new technologies.
ing whether they are met. We could have                                                           Have you ever been on a diet? I have, and
sent 100 journalists to assess the care, but a   They spent a week going to classes, doing        until now I have not been very successful.
single mother – who actually gave birth in       homework, talking to pupils, teachers and        About 17 million or 46 percent of Poles
the hospital – can tell you more than re-        parents. Sadly, we found our education was       are overweight. In the spring of last year,
porters.                                         stuck in the “chalk age,” as one of the teach-   nine employees of Gazeta – editors, adver-

62       IPI REPORT
Left: New media mogul. During the
Wroclaw flooding it was Pawel
Andrzejczuk, a 29-year-old blogger
who runs a network of 300 amateur
contributors, that competed with the
TV news channels, radio newscasts and
newspaper portals.

tising reps and bookkeepers – announced         Of these campaigns and community activ-              assembling understanding communities,
publicly they were going on a diet and in-      ities are funded by a mix of advertising,            giving them tools, teaching how to use
vited readers to join them online. About        sponsorships, copy-sales, brand exten-               them to inspire people to bring about
21,000 people did, and now they are regis-      sions, online payments and readers’ contri-          change.
tered in our social network of weight-          butions. By solving other people’s prob-
watchers (                         lems we probably have found a way to                 “We are not indifferent,” Gazeta’s slogan
                                                solve our own.                                       reads. I hope we prove it.
As readers followed the struggle of our em-
ployees, they could access a collection of      Development of the Internet – amateur
free and paid online services. A few thou-      news feeds, the wisdom of crowds, the
sand subscribed to personally designed          growth of social networks – reminds me                These technologies raise
diet and exercise plans priced at €10-25 per    that media, or communication within a so-
month. Nearly 80,000 were buying books          ciety in general is more about people than
                                                                                                      fundamental questions:
we published. Over 300,000 were getting         just a message.                                       What is our media for?
sponsored supplements to the newspaper,
like tables of calories or cooking recipes.     There is a lesson for journalism. We must
                                                                                                      What do we care about?
After 18 months, our readers lost 12,500 kg     convey news and tell stories of importance.           And why should people
in total. The most successful one lost 30 kg!   But the story itself must matter to the com-
I wish it was me.                               munity it serves. Journalism is also about
                                                                                                      care about us?

                                                                                                     As head of social campaigns at Gazeta Wyborcza in
                                                                                                     Poland, Grzegorz Piechota develops and runs
                                                                                                     editorial multimedia projects. Currently vice-pres-
                                                                                                     ident of the International Newsmedia Marketing
                                                                                                     Association in Europe, Piechota began his career at
                                                           Left: Childbirth with Dignity. A poster
                                                           for Gazeta Wyborcza’s campaign that       Gazeta in 1996 as a reporter in one of the smallest
                                                           encouraged 40,000 mothers to review       local offices.
                                                           maternity wards in Polish hospitals.

                                                                                                                                  IPI REPORT         63
Tags: Aggregated, Crowdsourced, Distributed, Mapped, Triangulated

Lessons for Journalists in
the Crowdsourcing of Crisis
By Patrick Meier

A mapped approach to crowd-
sourcing developed in Kenya has
provided critical information to
humanitarian workers in several
crisis situations. Journalists
have also begun using the
                                      J       ust hours after the earthquake on
                                      January 12, 2010, the group known as
                                      Ushahidi launched an interactive crisis
                                      map of Haiti in partnership with The
                                      Fletcher School at Tufts University. To-
                                                                                     Ushahidi launched their first mapping
                                                                                     platform during the post-election violence
                                                                                     in Kenya in early 2008. The platform has
                                                                                     since been used to monitor other contested
                                                                                     elections, document human rights abuses,
mapping platform, Ushahidi, to        gether, they crowdsourced the collection       and aid in humanitarian responses in
                                      and mapping of crisis information.             countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Chile
track developments in breaking
                                                                                     and Pakistan.
news in such situations as snow       Ushahidi, which means “witness” in
                                      Swahili, is a nonprofit tech company from      As the New York Times reported earlier this
storms, earthquakes and
                                      Africa that develops free and open source      year, Ushahidi was also used by the Wash-
political violence.                   platforms for live mapping. The mapping        ington Post to track the crisis created when
                                      platform allows individuals to report infor-   the American capital was hit by a massive
                                      mation using a Web form, SMS, Twitter,         snow storm. Partly because reduced rev-
                                      smart phone apps, and other tools.             enue has diminished their staffs, news
Right: Ushahidi’s mapping service shows hot spots of
conflict in Kenya during the post-election violence,
early 2008.

Below right: Ushahidi’s mobile app allows users to
upload information on conflict in their local areas.

Below left: Victims of widespread monsoon flooding
in Pakistan clamour for aid packages in August 2010.

organizations are turning increasingly to
corwdsourcing as a journalistic tool. But it’s
also partly because there are so many more
people in the crowd than there are re-
porters in a newsroom. The larger numbers
result in a “distributed cognition” that,
when aggregated, adds up to more knowl-
edge than could be generated by a smaller
group of people – reporters or otherwise.

As important as crowdsourcing may be to
journalism in the long term, some of its
more immediate and dramatic impact has
been felt in the area of humanitarian relief.          in many situations, the options were either
An examination of what’s happened so far               to crowdsource information or have no in-
in that area can be instructive for news or-           formation at all.
                                                       In addition, the humanitarian community
Soon after the Ushahidi group launched                 continues to face challenges in communi-
the mapping platform for Haiti, several                cating with disaster-affected populations.
hundred volunteers from the Haitian Dias-              While the UN and other groups have made
pora, The Fletcher School, Tufts University,           important progress in disseminating im-
the Geneva Institute of Graduate Studies,              portant information to local communities
Lewis & Clark College and hundreds of oth-             in times of crisis, this is largely one-way
ers around the world sifted through main-              communication. The Ushahidi platform in
stream and social media sites to map rele-             Haiti was combined with the 4636 SMS             maps to help us identify needs and target re-
vant information on the live map of Haiti.             short-code to provide near real-time two-        sources… And on Monday, a seven-year-old
Just days after launching the crisis map, a            way communication with the disaster af-          girl and two women were pulled from the
dedicated short-code” was set up to crowd-             fected population. This means that when          rubble of a collapsed supermarket by an
source information on the needs of the dis-            volunteers at The Fletcher School were re-       American search-and-rescue team after
aster affected population in and outside of            ceiving some one thousand text messages          they sent a text message calling for help.”
Port-au-Prince. This project, which came to            a day from the ground, they could reply to       There are reports that the Marine Corps and
be known as Mission 4636, allowed anyone               these if more information was needed,            US Coast Guard used the Ushahidi-Haiti
in Haiti to send a free SMS to the number              such as precise location information.            map operationally to respond to urgent
4636 with his or her location and most ur-                                                              needs being communicated via SMS.
gent need. Crowdsourcing was then used to              According to the US Federal Emergency
geolocate and translate incoming text mes-             Management Agency (FEMA) and others,             Crowdsourcing represents a promising but
sages from Haitian Creole into English so              this map became the most comprehensive           still largely untested approach for collecting
that emergency responders and the wider                and up-to-date source of information on          crisis information. Jeff Howe coined the
humanitarian community could under-                    Haiti available to the humanitarian commu-       term “crowdsourcing” in 2006 and defined
stand and act on them. Dur-                                             nity – even though the infor-   the approach as “the act of taking a job tra-
ing the first week after the           Crowdsourcing                    mation on the map was not       ditionally performed by a designated agent
earthquake, it was not possi-                                           statistically representative.   and outsourcing it to an undefined, gener-
ble for the humanitarian
                                       represents a                     US Secretary of State Hillary   ally large group of people in the form of an
community to set up any                promising but                    Clinton also applauded the      open call.” Crowdsourcing has already been
systematic representative                                               use of the these and other      applied in several sectors and for various
sampling mechanism to
                                       still largely                    tools in a public speech 10     purposes including data crunching, transla-
carry out rapid needs assess-          untested                         days after the quake noting     tion, geolocation and transcription. But the
ments of the disaster af-                                               that, “the technology com-      application of crowdsourcing for crisis in-
fected population. In this as
                                       approach for                     munity has set up interactive   formation is particularly new and presents
                                       collecting crisis
                                       information.                                                                               IPI REPORT       65
US helicopters drop aid into
areas in Port au Prince made
inaccessible by the earth-
quake on 12 January 2010

66        IPI REPORT
                                                                                  Partly because
                                                                                  reduced revenue
                                                                                  has diminished
                                                                                  their staffs, news
                                                                                  organizations are
both important opportunities and real chal-      whether a problem exists or                                     sources across different
lenges. Crowdsourcing, as a methodology to       not. Lastly, non-probability
                                                                                  turning increasingly           media has happened. Fu-
collect information, is simply an example of     sampling, or crowdsourcing,      to crowdsourcing               ture versions will also
non-probability sampling, a well-known           may actually be the only ap-                                    make use of Flickr and
and established sampling method in statis-       proach available—a com-
                                                                                  as a journalistic              YouTube to compare, for
tics. In probability sampling, every unit in     mon constraint in many           tool.                          example whether pic-
the population being sampled has a known         medical studies and in hu-                                      tures or videos of the
probability (greater than zero) of being se-     manitarian crises like the 2010 earthquake       same event were captured.
lected. This approach makes it possible to       in Haiti and the massive floods in Pakistan.
produce unbiased estimates of population                                                          This prompted Anand Giridharadas to ask
totals, by weighting sampled units accord-       One of the main challenges in crowdsourc-        in a New York Times article whether the tri-
ing to their probability selection. Non-prob-    ing crisis information is assessing the valid-   angulated crisis map would become the
ability sampling, in contrast, describes an      ity and reliability of the information being     new first draft of history. While many chal-
approach in which some units of the popu-        crowdsourced. There are a number of par-         lenges still remain, the example of Haiti,
lation have no chance of being selected or       tial solutions to this challenge. For exam-      which was unplanned and ad-hoc, is per-
where the probability of selection cannot be     ple, “bounded crowdsourcing” can be used         haps the first sign that the humanitarian
accurately determined. An example is con-        instead whereby a known and/or trusted           space is about to be radically transformed
venience sampling.                               network of individuals – e.g. field person-      in the coming months and years. By the
                                                 nel – source relevant information. In addi-      same token, crowdsourcing and the near
The obvious drawback of non-probability          tion, the explosion in user-generated con-       real-time validation of crowdsourced crisis
sampling is that the sample may not be rep-      tent means that it is increasingly possible to   information may have a similar impact on
resentative of the population. Probability       triangulate and cross-validate crowd-            the future of news.
sampling, also known as representative           sourced. For example, if three different text
sampling, also poses some important con-         messages from three different numbers at
straints, however. The approach often re-        three different times describe the same in-
quires considerable time and extensive re-       cident, then one can assume that three dif-
sources, which makes the use of this             ferent witnesses are reporting this incident.
method difficult in response to fast-paced,      The rise of integrated mobile technologies
real-time operations. To this end, probabil-     means that such witnesses are increasing
ity sampling is far more conducive to retro-     dramatically around the world. This means
spective studies. Furthermore, non-re-           that the chances that several witnesses will
sponse effects can easily turn any probabil-     document the same event in any given
ity design into non-probability sampling. Of     time and place is increasing. This docu-
course, the advantage of probability sam-        mentation is not restricted to text-based in-
pling is that the resulting sample is repre-     formation like blogs, Twitter and SMS. Wit-
sentative of the population being surveyed.      nesses are increasingly sharing pictures
                                                 and video footage in near-real time.
Non-probability sampling has some im-
portant advantages over representative           This explains why the Ushahidi group has
sampling, however. First, non-probability        developed another free and open source
sampling is typically a much quicker way         platform called Swift River. The tool pulls      Patrick Meier is director of Crisis Mapping and
to collect and analyze data in a range of set-   in user-specified content from Twitter,          Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi and co-founded
tings with diverse populations. The ap-          SMS, online news, social media, etc. and         the International Network of Crisis Mappers and the
proach is also a far more cost-efficient         seeks to compare how many times a spe-           International Conference on Crisis Mapping. He is a
means of greatly increasing sample size in       cific event is reported on and by whom. If       PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law &
real-time, thus enabling more frequent and       multiple witnesses report on the same            Diplomacy, the Co-Director of the Harvard Human-
up-to-date measurement. In addition, the         event, then chances are that the event re-       itarian Initiative’s Program on Crisis Mapping and
method is also used in exploratory re-           ally did take place. So Swift River produces     Early Warning and is a visiting fellow at Stanford
search, e.g. for hypothesis generation, espe-    probability scores that suggest how likely it    University’s Program on Liberation Technologies.
cially when attempting to determine              is that an event being reported by diverse

                                                                                                                               IPI REPORT         67
Tags: Accelerated, Distributed, Petitioned

Social Media as a First Draft
of Journalism and a Rallying
Cry for Democracy
By Endy M. Bayuni

Social media use has changed
how people share information in
Indonesia, with professional
                                        T       he Twitter message flashing on the
                                         screen of my handset shortly after 7:30 a.m.
                                         one Friday in July 2009 was unequivocal:
                                         “RT @DanielTumiwa Bom @ marriot and
                                         ritz Carlton kuningan jakarta.” Someone
                                                                                          mittedly poor quality but uncensored with
                                                                                          gory bodies of victims, were soon posted on
                                                                                          Twitter and Facebook, the two most popu-
                                                                                          lar social media among Indonesians.
journalists facing challenges
                                         had re-tweeted a message posted by a man         Here are some more messages taken from
from citizen journalists who can         who was inside one of the two adjacent ho-       @DanielTumiwa, who must have thumbed
                                         tels that was bombed that morning. News          them in haste, but they were pretty accu-
provide news more quickly, even
                                         of the simultaneous blast that killed 14         rate and descriptive.
if it is sometimes unverified or         people was first broken by ordinary citi-
                                         zens with no training in journalism, but         • “2 boms go off inside Ritz Carlton and
                                         with a passion that matched the best.            Marriott coffee shops! Not kidding. Am
                                         The bad news for journalists is that in the      • “Left location. Shocked. Lots of blood.
                                         increasingly wired world, they have lost the     Breakfast meetings at coffee shops while
                                         virtual monopoly they once enjoyed in dis-       bombs went off.”
                                         seminating news and information. The             • “Thanks for all the concern. Back home.
                                         good news is that professional journalists       Safe. Shocked. Blood… smoke… glass…
                                         have come to rely on the social media to         everywhere… prayers to the victims….”
                                         help keep abreast of the very latest news.
                                         And even better news is that journalism          It was more than half an hour later before
                                         can improve upon those raw, early reports        local TV stations, whose crews struggled
                                         of social media by scrutinizing them with        through the Jakarta morning rush-hour
                                         such traditional journalistic values as accu-    traffic to reach the two bombed hotels,
                                         racy and fairness.                               began their live broadcasts from the scene.
                                                                                          Prior to this, the stations had put out news
                                         For the next hours that day, Twitterland         flashes, with the protective line “uncon-
                                         was buzzing with news of the blasts, cour-       firmed reports” until they were able to ver-
                                         tesy of Daniel Tumiwa and others like him        ify the news themselves on the ground.
                                         who were tweeting and re-tweeting infor-         Most likely they had picked up the story
                                         mation in packets of 140 characters or less.     from the Internet.
                                         Thanks to them, news of the latest deadly
                                         terrorist attack in the Indonesian capital       There have been many other times since
                                         was known worldwide, not through the or-         then that Twitter and Facebook became the
                                         dinary media like television and radio and       first media to break important news in In-
                                         not by journalists in the traditional sense of   donesia. As far as speed is concerned, and
                                         the word. Images and short video clips, ad-      anyone in this business knows that speed is

Below: Forensic experts go
through the ruins of the coffee
shop at the Marriott Hotel in
Jakarta in July 2009.

                                                                            Journalism can
                                                                            improve upon those
                                                                            raw, early reports
                                                                            of social media by
one of the most important elements after       with constant updates by                                          ish an organization deval-
accuracy, citizen journalists are beating      the minute if not by the
                                                                            scrutinizing them                    ued by its own behavior.
professional journalists at our own game.      second.                      with such traditional                For citizen journalists,
                                                                                                                 and some of the people
And the public is responding.                  There are some down-
                                                                            journalistic values                  who follow them, speed
                                               sides to this, however. The  as accuracy and                      may come before accu-
With cell phones becoming affordable to        nation learned about the                                          racy.
most people, and with Internet connection      death of its most famous
costs coming down dramatically in the past     composer, Gesang, one week before it hap-       In this increasingly more wired world, pro-
year, more and more Indonesians have           pened, and also the passing of former first     fessional journalists have to share the field
come to use social media like Twitter and      lady Ainun Habibie a few days too early.        (and the audience) with amateurs and
Facebook as their prime sources of news                                                        their values. Each group has its place and
and information.                               Some overzealous Twitterers, wanting to be      its role in keeping the public informed.
                                               first to break the news, couldn’t resist the    Anyone with mobile and Internet access
Even journalists find them indispensable       temptation and tweeted the news before          can be a journalist, or do the work that
professional tools.                            Gesang and Habibie were dead. Foolishly,        journalists do any time they update their
                                               some TV stations, caught in the competi-        Twitter or Facebook accounts, for these are
I learned of the death of Indonesia’s former   tion of reporting the news first, picked up     disseminated to a large audience online.
president Abdurrahman Wahid in Decem-          both false stories and broadcast them.          Everybody is a journalist.
ber 2009 from Twitter only a few minutes
after he drew his last breath. The speed was   Credibility should distinguish the work of      Citizen journalists in Indonesia have
unbeatable. No TV or radio station – you       professionals, who are trained to put accu-     shown that they can be just as effective, if
can forget my own newspaper – could have       racy ahead of speed. Mistakes can be fatal to   not more so, at influencing public opinion.
matched the speed with which the news          their integrity and to the credibility of the   The wide space that the Internet is provid-
was disseminated, tweeted and re-tweeted,      media they work for. The market will pun-       ing has been widely used for an open pub-
                                                                                               lic debate on just about anything in In-
                                                                                               donesia as people take advantage of the
                                                                                               guarantees of free speech. Sometimes out
                                                                                               of these debates, a movement emerges and
                                                                                               people rally behind certain causes.

                                                                                               For example, there was a petition that gar-
                                                                                               nered more than one million signatures on
                                                                                               Facebook demanding President Susilo
                                                                                               Bambang Yudhoyono release two deputies
                                                                                               of the anti-corruption commission who
                                                                                               were detained by the police as they were
                                                                                               investigating high-profile cases. The presi-
                                                                                               dent responded by setting up an independ-
                                                                                               ent team of inquiry, which sure enough,
                                                                                               recommended the release of the two
                                                                                               deputies two weeks later.

                                                                                               Another Facebook petition demanded the
                                                                                               release of a young mother who was ar-
                                                                                               rested by the police after an email she had
                                                                                               written to a friend, complaining about the
                                                                                               services of a private hospital near Jakarta,
                                                                                               was posted in various discussion groups.
                                                                                               The Omni International hospital filed libel

                                                                                                                         IPI REPORT      69
Below: Volunteers campaign to collect
coins for Prita Mulyasari. A massive move-
ment started by Indonesian Facebookers
raised almost $90,000 nationwide to help
Prita pay the penalty.

charges against Prita Mulyasari, who had       There have been many other Facebook             nalism is one of the oldest professions in
written the email, and since the crime car-    movements since then, albeit on smaller         the world, and for now at least, it is irre-
ries a maximum jail penalty of six years       scales. But in the social media, anyone,        placeable. With so many more players
under Indonesia’s new cybercrime law, the      poor and rich, powerful and strong, can         competing, however, the only way to sur-
police were obliged to put her under arrest    find their voice. They also find that Face-     vive is to improve skills and professional-
pending the investigation and trial.           book, and other platforms like it, can be       ism, and to practice good journalism.
                                               more effective in airing grievances than
Under strong public pressure from Face-        taking it to the streets. The next people       Democracy is well served to include many
book petitioners, the police released her,     power movement in Indonesia, if and             more players besides professional journal-
but when the civil law trial proceeded, she    when the need arises, will be conducted         ists. But it is served even better if profes-
was found guilty and the court ordered her     through the ‘Net.                               sional journalists strengthen their role in
to pay t300 million rupiah ($30,000) in                                                        keeping everyone else in check. The sur-
damages. Facebookers were quick off the        In this Internet age, there continues to be a   vival of journalism depends on it.
mark, and organized a collection nation-       need for the kind of services that profes-
wide, called Coin for Prita, to help her pay   sional journalists provide: Gather, collect      Citizen journalists in In-
that sum. The response was massive and         and sort information, verify, and package it
the organizers raised more than 800 mil-       in a way that is easily understandable to
                                                                                                donesia have shown that
lion rupiah. They were about to dump the       the public, using text, sound and still or       they can be effective at in-
coins, which had been loaded in trucks,        moving images.
outside the Omni International gate when
                                                                                                fluencing public opinion
the hospital decided to waive its claim. The   The medium may be different, from print,         as people take advantage
money has since been given to a founda-        broadcasting to the digital, but the rules of
tion named after Prita to help poor people     the game and the ethics that govern the
                                                                                                of the guarantees of free
seek justice.                                  profession are essentially the same. Jour-       speech.

                                                                                               Endy M. Bayuni is the former Editor in Chief of The
                                                                                               Jakarta Post. He also writes columns commenting
                                                                                               on Indonesian national politics, political Islam, in-
                                                                                               ternational affairs and the media scene.

70        IPI REPORT
                                                                                    Tags: Dispersed, Specialized, United

Crowdsourcing Can
Turn Fragmentation into
By Jeff Howe

The very technologies that
appear to be atomizing
individuals might be used to
                                  T      here is much to bemoan about the
                                  decline of traditional media. I’d prefer not
                                  to add my voice to the collective keening,
                                  but I will offer a reminiscence: I spent my
                                  first year out of college writing for my
                                                                                  nale, but by and large Americans have
                                                                                  wandered off to read Sailing magazine or
                                                                                  its equivalent.

                                                                                  Technology is often blamed for dispersing
bring us together by creating a
                                  hometown paper, the Columbus Dispatch.          the crowd, but the fact is that the process
new form of social capital that   At the end of the year I moved to New York      was occurring long before the advent of the
                                  City, but before I left I wrote Columbus        Internet. There’s no question that the Web,
can connect people to new
                                  something of a Dear John letter, in the form    and social media in particular, have facili-
friends, new jobs, new action.    of a column. It ran on the back page of the     tated ever greater levels of specialized
                                  metro section, beneath my headshot.             media. I receive much of my news through
                                                                                  an iPad application called Flipboard, which
                                  It could be that one of my elementary           goes out and gathers the articles my friends
                                  school teachers neglected to read it, or that   are reading and displays them to me in the
                                  a colleague of my father’s swept right past     form of an online magazine. This is social
                                  it on his way to read the latest on the Ohio    media brought to its logical conclusion,
                                  State Buckeyes. But I doubt it. It was 1994;    and it’s worth noting that in the year I’ve
                                  we were just on the cusp of the digital rev-    lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts I’ve yet
                                  olution – everyone in Columbus read the         to read—much less subscribe to—a local
                                  Dispatch. Writing for that paper was the        paper.
                                  equivalent of carpet bombing the city with
                                  leaflets. And so when I think about the         And yet, I’d like to propose a radical
                                  Balkanization of the media—the rise of          thought: The very technologies that are
                                  what Cass Sunstein calls “the Daily Me”—I       breaking us up might be used to bring us
                                  think of that column, and wonder how            together. This past May I convened what is,
                                  many people would actually read it if I         to my knowledge, the largest collective
                                  wrote it today.                                 reading exercise in history. This summer
                                                                                  thousands of people from all over the
                                  The mass audience has acquired an almost        world read Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.”
                                  mythological quality. Young journalists
                                  gather around the veterans to hear of the       They then discussed the book using Twit-
                                  days when media giants roamed the earth,        ter, a new-fangled technology that is doing
                                  and Life magazine was read by 40 million        for the epigram what the octavo format did
                                  Americans. We still gather for the occa-        for the romance novel. Given the size of
                                  sional Super Bowl or “American Idol” fi-        this virtual gathering, you’d think that I

                                                                                                           IPI REPORT       71
Below: #1b1t, the Twitter hashtag for the One Book One
Twitter project.

Below Left: The iPad application Flipboard – social media
brought to its logical conclusion

Far Right: Twitter stream #1b1t

had the benefit of institutional support and       “I have a dream. An idea. A      Nancy Pearl called, “What If Everyone in
publicity department pow wows to help or-                   maybe great notion. As Auggie March            Seattle Read the Same Book?”
ganize such a gathering. Au contraire.                      might say, ‘I got a scheme.’ What if every-
                                                            one on Twitter read the same book at the       What happens is that a lot of people with
How did I do it? First, by adapting to the                  same time?” I called it “One Book, One         absolutely nothing in common suddenly
new rules, instead of trying to impose the                  Twitter,” and presented it as something of a   have at least one thing in common. This
old ones. Let me explain. In March I posted                 lark. As it happened, other people found       builds what an academic might call social
the following passage to my blog, crowd-                    the scheme appealing, and because I didn’t     capital. Social capital is the WD-40 in our
                                                            try to impose my own rules on it, my           lives, the connections that result in new
                                                            scheme metamorphasized into a move-            jobs, new spouses, and new friends. It’s
                                                            ment.                                          why George Bailey is the richest man in
                                                                                                           town. And what social scientists call bridg-
                                                            Next, I didn’t take my inspi-                                  ing social capital allows
                                                            ration from the “book club,”    What we miss                   connections to form be-
                                                            a venerable institution                                        tween people who have
                                                            rooted in the lyceums of Vic-
                                                                                            about the mass                 nothing in common. Ex-
                                                            torian-era America. I was in-   audience event                 cept, perhaps, that they
                                                            spired instead by a more re-                                   happen to be reading the
                                                            cent convention—what the
                                                                                            is the feeling that            same book.
                                                            National Education Author-      for a little while,
                                                            ity calls Big Reads, and what                                 Bridging social capital is
                                                            the innovative librarian
                                                                                            we’re all going               also the quantity produced
                                                                                            through some-
72        IPI REPORT                                                                        thing together.
                                Technology is
                                often blamed for
                                dispersing the
when 36 million Ameri-
                                crowd, but the                machine gun bursts that are         The last paragraph in my book on crowd-
cans watched the finale of      process was                   Twitter’s native form (Twitter      sourcing ends with what I call a cardinal
the miniseries “Roots.”                                       constrains each entry to 140        rule: “Ask not what your community can
Suddenly everyone at the
                                occurring long                characters.) If someone wrote       do for you, but what you can do for your
office or the plant wants to    before the advent             something especially witty or       community.” Replace community with
talk about the same thing.                                    incisive, it was syndicated         readers, or better, customers, and you have
And it’s what, I think, we
                                of the Internet.              (“retweeted,” in the jargon of      what could be a blueprint for a publishing
miss about the mass audience event—the             the technology) by others, so that it          strategy.
feeling that for a little while, we’re all going   reached many eyes. In this way, people
through something together. I hoped One            with nothing in common had — for the           What does all this have to do with journal-
Book, One Twitter might replicate that ex-         eight weeks One Book, One Twitter took         ism? Plenty. We butter our bread every
perience, and I’m happy to report that, for        place—indeed something in common.              time we reach across racial, social, and ide-
those of us who participated, it did.                                                             ological lines. As our audience grows, so
                                                   Finally, I cheerfully conceded any owner-      grow our ad rates and eventually the size
People have noted, with some disdain, that         ship over the project. Who started One         of our newsrooms. If there was one com-
Twitter isn’t conducive to book clubs. This        Book, One Twitter? Me. Who runs it?            mon thread to the widely disparate, glob-
ignores that One Book, One Twitter isn’t           Dunno. The people reading the book, I          ally dispersed participants in One Book,
meant to act anything like a book club, in         guess. That’s what this new world, which       One Twitter, it was that they were eager to
which people who know each other offer             Clay Shirky aptly calls an age of organizing   participate in a project that would allow
lengthy, personal exegetics about a book,          without organizations, looks like. And One     them to connect with other people. The ap-
becoming closer to people they already             Book, One Twitter is what it looks like for    petite is there. We only need to learn how
know. In this case, thousands of people            book publishers. A lot of people reading, a    to serve it.
who’ve never met gathered to dish out in-          lot of people buying books, but doing so ac-
sights, questions, and commentary in the           cording to their own schedule.

                                                                                                  Jeff Howe is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University
                                                                                                  and a contributing editor at Wired Magazine. He
                                                                                                  wrote the book “Crowdsourcing: How the Power of
                                                                                                  Crowds is Driving the Future of Business.”

                                                                                                                               IPI REPORT        73
Tags: Databased, Linked, Processed

Data and Journalism Form
a Powerful Combination
By Paul Bradshaw

When computer processing
powers journalism, there are
new possibilities and problems
                                     F or the past two centuries, journalists have
                                     dealt in the currency of information: We
                                     transmuted base metals into narrative
                                     gold. But information is changing.
                                                                                      more accurately, and with others. All of
                                                                                      which opens up new opportunities and
                                                                                      new dangers. Things are going to change.

                                                                                      We’ve had over 40 years to see this coming.
for publishers. Cultural
                                     At first, the base metals were eyewitness        The growth of the spreadsheet and the
movements combine with               accounts and interviews. Later, we learned       database from the 1960s onwards kicked
                                     to melt down official reports, research pa-      things off by making it much easier for or-
technology to spread data as
                                     pers, and balance sheets. And most re-           ganisations - including governments - to
a source of information, and         cently, our alloys have been diluted by          digitise information, from what they spent
                                     statements and press releases.                   our money on to how many people were
journalism is changing as a
                                                                                      being treated for which diseases, and
result.                              But now journalists are having to come to        where.
                                     grips with a new type of information: Data.
                                     And this is a very rich seam indeed.             In the 1990s, the invention of the World
                                                                                      Wide Web accelerated the data at journal-
                                     Statistics and numbers in general are noth-      ists’ disposal by providing both a platform
                                     ing new to journalists. When I talk about        for those spreadsheets and databases to be
                                     data I mean information that can be              published and accessed by both humans
                                     processed by computers.                          and computer programs - and a network to
                                                                                      distribute it.
                                     This is a crucial distinction: It is one thing
                                     for a journalist to look at a balance sheet on   And now two cultural movements have
                                     paper; it is quite another to be able to dig     combined to add a political dimension to
                                     through those figures on a spreadsheet, or       the spread of data: The open data move-
                                     to write a programming script to analyse         ment, and the linked data movement. Jour-
                                     that data, and match it to other sources of      nalists should be familiar with these move-
                                     information. Computers can also more eas-        ments; the arguments that they have devel-
                                     ily analyse new types of data, such as live      oped in holding the powerful accountable
                                     data, large amounts of text,                                    are a lesson in dealing with
                                     user behaviour patterns,         Journalists are                entrenched interests, while
                                     and network connections.                                        their experiments with the
                                                                      having to come to              possibilities of data journal-
                                     And that is potentially trans-   grips with a new               ism show the way forward.
                                     formational. Adding com-
                                     puter processing power to
                                                                      type of informa-               The open data movement
                                     our journalistic arsenal al-     tion: Data. And                campaigns for important in-
                                     lows us to do more, faster,                                     formation - such as govern-
                                                                      this is a very rich
                                                                      seam indeed.
ment spending, scientific information and      But there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of      In the US, the journalist-programmer
maps - to be made publicly available for the   similar examples in industries from health       Adrian Holovaty has pioneered the form
benefit of society both democratically and     and science to culture and sport. We are ex-     with the data mashup
economically. The linked data movement         periencing an unprecedented release of           and its open source offspring Everyblock,
(championed by the inventor of the Web,        data - some have named it ‘Big Data’ – and       while Aron Pilhofer has innovated at the
Sir Tim Berners-Lee) campaigns for that        yet for the most part, media organisations       interactive unit at the New York Times, and
data to be made available in such a way that   have been slow to react.                         new entrants from Talking Points Memo to
it can be linked to other sets of data. That                                                    ProPublica have used data as a launchpad
means, for instance, a computer can see        That is about to change.                         for interrogating the workings of govern-
that the director of a company named in a                                                       ment.
particular government contract is the same     The data journalist
person who was paid as a consultant on a       Over the last year an increasing number of       To those involved, it feels like heady days.
related government policy document. Ad-        news organisations have started to wake          In reality, it’s very early days indeed. Data
vocates argue that this will also result in    from their story-centric production lines        journalism takes in a huge range of disci-
economic and social benefits.                  and see the value of data. In the UK, the        plines, from Computer Assisted Reporting
                                               MPs’ expenses story was seminal: When a          (CAR) and programming, to visualisation
Concrete results of both movements can be      newspaper dictates the news agenda for six       and statistics. If you are a journalist with a
seen in the US and UK - most visibly with      weeks, the rest of Fleet Street pays attention   strength in one of those areas, you are cur-
the launch of government data repositories     - and at the core of this story was a million    rently exceptional. This cannot last for and in 2009 and 2010      pieces of data on a disc. Since then, every      long: The industry will have to skill up, or it
respectively - but also less publicised ex-    serious news organisation has expanded its       will have nothing left to sell.
periments such as “Where Does My Money         data operations.
Go?”, which uses data to show how public                                                        Because while news organisations for years
expenditure is distributed, and “Mapumen-      the Guardian created a special online inter-     made a business out of being a middleman
tal,” which combines travel data, property     face ( for          processing content between commerce
prices and public ratings of ‘scenicness’ to   more than 400,000 pages of documents             and consumers, and government and citi-
help show at a glance which areas of a city    and (as of August 2010) had enlisted more        zens, the Internet has made that business
might be the best place to live based on in-   than 23,000 readers to review and help cat-      model obsolete. It is not enough any more
dividual requirements.                         egorize more than 221,000 of the pages.          for a journalist to simply be good at writing

                                                                                                                           IPI REPORT       75
or rewriting. There are a million others out     deed add data to the picture through your         in the clearest way possible, not just for ed-
there who can write better - large numbers       own activity. The experiments of the past         itorial reasons but distribution too. Info-
of them working in PR, marketing, or gov-        five years will come to seem crude in com-        graphics are an increasingly significant
ernment. While we will always need pro-          parison.                                          source of news site traffic.
fessional storytellers, many journalists are
simply factory line workers.                     A collaborative future                            There is a danger of ‘data churnalism’ –
                                                 I’m skeptical of the ability of established       taking public statistics and visualising
So on a commercial level if nothing else,        publishers to adapt to such a future but,         them in a spectacular way that lacks in-
publishing will need to establish where the      whether they do or not, innovative online-        sight or context. Editors will need the sta-
value lies in this new environment, and          only startups will. And journalists’ training     tistical literacy to guard against this, or
where new efficiencies can make journal-         will have to change. The profession has a         they will be found out.
ism viable. Data journalism is one of those      history of arts graduates who are highly lit-
areas. With a surfeit of public data being       erate but not typically numerate. That has        And it is not just in editorial that innova-
made available, there is a rich supply of        already been the source of ongoing embar-         tion will be needed. Advertising sales will
raw material. The scarcity lies in the skills    rassment for the profession as expert blog-       need to experience the same revolution
to locate and make sense of that - the pro-      gers have highlighted basic errors in the         that journalists have experienced, learning
gramming skills to scrape it and compare it      way journalists cover science, health and         the language of Web metrics, behavioural
with other sources, the design flair to visu-    finance; it cannot continue.                      advertising and selling the benefits to ad-
alise it, the statistical understanding to un-                                                     vertisers.
pack it.                                         We will need more journalists who can
                                                 write a killer Freedom of Information re-         And then there is the commercial oppor-
The technological opportunity is massive.        quest; more researchers with a knowledge          tunity. Most publishers, after all, are in
As processing power continues to grow, the       of the hidden corners of the Web where            business not to sell content but to sell ad-
ability to interrogate, combine and present      databases - the ‘invisible Web’ - reside. We      vertising. And here also data has taken
data continues to increase. The develop-         will need programmer-journalists who can          on increasing importance. The mass mar-
ment of augmented reality provides a par-        write a screen scraper to acquire, sort, filter   ket was a hack. As the saying goes: “We
ticularly attractive publishing opportunity:     and store that information, and combine or        knew that only half of advertising
Imagine being able to see local data-based       compare it with other sources. We will            worked; the problem was, we didn’t
stories through your mobile phone, or in-        need designers who can visualise that data        know which half.”

76       IPI REPORT
provides inspiration for data
presentation to scientists
and journalists alike.

But Google and others have used the meas-          A new medium and a new market demand
urability of the Web to reduce the margin of       new rules. The more networked and inter-
error, and publishers will soon follow suit.       active form of journalism that we’ve al-
It makes sense to put data at the centre of        ready seen emerge online is likely to be-
that - while you allow users to drill into the     come even more conventional as publish-
data you have gathered around automotive           ers move from a model that sees the story
safety, the offering to advertisers is likely to   as the unit of production, to a model that
say “We can display different adverts based        starts with data.
on what information the user is interested
in,” or “We can point the user to their local       It is one thing for a jour-
dealership based on their location.”
                                                    nalist to look at a balance
And as publishers of data, too, executives          sheet on paper; it is quite
will need to adopt the philosophies of the
open data and linked data movements and
                                                    another to be able to dig
take advantage of the efficiencies that they        through those figures on
provide. The New York Times and the
Guardian have both published APIs that
                                                    a spreadsheet.
allow others to build Web services with
their content. In return they get access to
otherwise unaffordable technical, mathe-
matical and design expertise, and benefit
from new products and new audiences, as
(in the Guardian’s case) advertising is bun-
dled in with the service. As these benefits
become more widely recognised, other
publishers will follow.

I hope that this will lead to a more collab-
orative form of journalism. The biggest
resource a publication has is its audience.
Until now publishers have simply pack-
aged up that resource for advertisers. But
now that the audience is able to access
the same information and tools as jour-
nalists, to interact with publishers and
with each other, they are valuable in dif-
ferent ways.
                                                   Paul Bradshaw publishes the Online Journalism
At the same time, the value of the news-           Blog and is the founder of the investigative journal-
room has diminished: Its size has shrunk,          ism crowdsourcing site “Help Me Investigate.” He is
its competitive advantage reduced; and no          described by UK Press Gazette as one of the coun-
single journalist has the depth and breadth        try’s “most influential journalism bloggers” and by
of skills needed across statistics, CAR, pro-      The Telegraph’s Shane Richmond as “The UK’s
gramming and design that data journalism           Jeff Jarvis.”
                                                                                                    Tags: Immersed, Mobile

The Tablet Innovates
News Presentation as Color
Did in 1970s
By Mario Garcia

Tablets like the iPad allow
newspapers to innovate
storytelling and presentations
                                   O           ne after another, newspapers
                                   worldwide are making their entrance into
                                   the world of tablets, which in the second
                                   half of 2010 is more likely to involve devel-
                                   oping an application for the iPad than for
                                                                                    iPad editions are brother/sister to the
                                                                                    newspaper, allowing for intuitive methods
                                                                                    of reading and perusing, and also duplicat-
                                                                                    ing and reinforcing a newspaper’s brand. It
                                                                                    is as if a page of your newspaper jumped
so they can attract new audience
                                   any other product. With more than 3 mil-         from the coffee table and into the black
and satisfy traditionalists        lion of those small and efficient iPads al-      frame of the iPad and it can now play a
                                   ready sold, Apple seems confident that its       video or sing a song.
interested in immersion reading.
                                   small and multi-talented new product will
                                   continue to be a favorite among people of        The iPad has a widespread appeal, from the
                                   all ages who want to be informed, play, be       very young to the oldest and most tradi-
                                   entertained or simply write an email to a        tional readers, allowing newspapers to start
                                   friend.                                          attracting new and elusive audiences to
                                                                                    their brand, while allowing those precious
                                   Publishers and editors, too, share that con-     traditional readers who love their newspa-
                                   fidence, and I have to admit that I have not     pers to start sampling them in a new plat-
                                   seen this level of excitement, optimism and      form.
                                   zest for innovation since the arrival of color
                                   presses in the late 1970s.                       The iPad is likely to bring about a renais-
                                                                                    sance of the best that journalism has to
                                   The excitement is justified, as the iPad –       offer, as it will encourage the publishing of
                                   and probably the many other tablets that         long-form journalism. This is not to say
                                   are surely going to make their entrance          that long stories are back, or that mediocre
                                   into the market in the next few months – is      ones should be encouraged. However, I be-
                                   truly a game changer for newspapers.             lieve that the tablets offer an opportunity
                                                                                    to relax with a story – the way books al-
                                   Tablets allow for an immersive experi-           ways have – and when we add to that the
                                   ence                                             many multimedia possibilities, then I can
                                   Online editions hijacked newspapers into a       see why enterprise journalism will find the
                                   format of scrolling up and down, depriving       tablet to be its best ally.
                                   them of their most familiar elements, such
                                   as recognizable typefaces and the overall        Tablets are a platform to relax with, offering
                                   look and feel that are brand giveaways. But      the experience we associate with reading

                                                                                                              IPI REPORT       79
printed newspapers, magazines, and books.       Economics of the tablet are untested            both at the creative and revenue levels is
As we become more aware of the need to          It is still too early to tell whether – or to   virtually untapped. Create partnerships
disconnect, the tablets offer us the oppor-     what extent – the tablet will be the finan-     and think of advertising/content synergies.
tunity to do so.                                cial saviour that many in the industry are
                                                hoping it will be. However, early returns       But, most importantly, create content that
Photographically, the tablets are a magnif-     tell us that advertisers like the new plat-     users will value. Dig into your archives for
icent platform. We know that photo gal-         form, especially the fact that sponsorship      material that has potential value as an app.
leries are the most popular features of any     gives them top display for their products       You will be surprised how much people
multimedia offerings online – more popu-        and laces the contents of the advertising       are interested in – and are willing to pay
lar than videos. On tablets, photos shine.      more closely with editorial content, a long     for – the historical and pictorial records
                                                held wish of advertisers.                       that sit in so many newspaper “morgues”
This, of course, will raise the bar for the                                                     worldwide.
quality of photos we get, as well as the type   When Rolex sponsors a newspaper’s iPad
of stories that we write around them. With      edition, it feels as if the diamonds on the     Early challenges include proper
active fingers touching every possible de-      face of that watch shine a little more          staffing
tail of a photo, those inquiring minds that     brightly, and when United Airlines accom-       Remember, tablets are in their infancy
move them will want “mini stories” to go        panies the evening update of the tablet         and we are the creators of their future for
where their fingers stop. If your newspa-       edition, it reaches higher altitudes. The       journalism. Our models will have the his-
per has coasted along with a mediocre           publishers are hoping their bottom lines        toric opportunity of being the first tem-
photo department, it is time to start shop-     will be uplifted, too.                          plates, with potentially iconic longevity,
ping for new equipment, hiring star pho-                                                        and that entitles us to experiment, to
tographers, and training editors to forget      Revenue potential is one of the center-         learn as we go, and to make the inevitable
the boring, simplistic captions and start       pieces of any tablet planning discussion, so    mistakes that all learning processes in-
writing “mini stories” that enhance details     develop strategies and form partnerships.       volve.
of a photograph.                                The advertising potential for the tablet,

80      IPI REPORT
                                                                                                    Far left: A renaissance for journalism? Tablets offer
                                                                                                    the relaxed reading experience associated with prin-
                                                                                                    ted newspapers, magazines and books.

                                                                                                    Left: The iPad has widespread appeal from the very
                                                                                                    young, to the oldest and most traditional readers.

                                                                                                     If a newspaper has
                                                                                                     coasted along with
                                                                                                     a mediocre photo
                                                                                                     department, it is time
                                                                                                     to start shopping for
                                                                                                     new equipment and
                                                                                                     hire star photographers.

                                                                                                    enhanced and respected print edition is
                                                                                                    the mother’s milk of the tablet.

                                                                                                    The most solid and robust newspaper
                                                                                                    brands in the world will create a strong
                                                                                                    quartet of platforms: Mobile phones, on-
                                                                                                    line, print, and tablet, each with its distinct
                                                                                                    characteristics, catering to the specific
                                                                                                    needs of a highly demanding, sophisticated
                                                                                                    audience that has an insatiable appetite for
                                                                                                    the information they want, when they
                                                                                                    want it, how they want it. Feed that ap-
                                                                                                    petite and all will eat well.

The tablet is not a newspaper, it is not a          readers, extend your brand, and give your
magazine, it is definitely not an online            team the laboratory it needs to take those
edition, and it is not television, although it      first baby steps.
is a little of all of these. It must be given its
own identity.                                       Your keys to early success tap into that
                                                    which your newspaper does best: Make it
To do that, tablet editors are essential. They      local, personal, essential, exclusive, and
are, indeed, the next source of creativity in       simple. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
the newsroom. The ideal tablet editor is a
person well versed in traditional journal-          Print edition remains critical element in
ism, but also tech savvy, with an inclination       multi-platform success
to consume information digitally, and most          A challenge that remains at the top of the
of all, a great storyteller.                        list: Make your print edition relevant. Use
                                                    the grand opportunity that the planning of
Storytelling has found its next best ally in        a tablet edition offers to look at your print
the tablet. We will see a need for excellent        edition carefully and thoroughly.
narratives and photos, with the enhance-
ments of audio, video and interactivity.            Indeed, print is eternal, and there is likely
                                                    to be a printed edition of most newspapers
But, remember, you can’t simply transfer            for years to come.
the entire contents of your newspaper                                                               Mario Garcia is CEO and Founder of Garcia Media,
into a tablet edition. Instead, find that one       However, it is part of the responsibility       which has worked with more than 500 news organ-
unique, value-driven element of your                of every innovative tablet team to identify     izations from its offices in Tampa, Buenos Aires and
publication that should open the door to            creative ways to take print to its next         Hamburg.
the tablet. That first app will engage your         stage of evolution. Remember, a stronger,

                                                                                                                                   IPI REPORT            81
Tags: Blogged, Globalized, Networked

From Adversaries to Allies:
Professional and Citizen
Journalists Need Each Other
By Solana Larsen

Global Voices Online creates an
international community of local
bloggers who cover the world
                                             W               hen wildfires in Russia’s
                                             western region began to spread uncontrol-
                                             lably at the end of July 2010, Russian blog-
                                             gers began discussing what they could do
                                             to help. On Livejournal, which is the most
                                                                                            software from Kenya called Ushahidi to
                                                                                            facilitate communication between those
                                                                                            who needed help and those who were
                                                                                            able to provide help. Another blogger,
                                                                                            Alexey Sidorenko, installed the software
from their own backyards to
                                             popular blogging platform in Russia, peo-      and launched the website the very next
then be used by the wider global             ple were documenting tragic losses of life     day. A team of bloggers adopted the proj-
                                             and property, and also self-organizing to      ect, and in little more than a week Russ-
                                             assist victims.                       received more than 80,000
                                                                                            unique visitors. On Facebook, Sidorenko
                                             As the fires kept multiplying and their        joked that he had wanted to be a fire-
                                             epicenters constantly shifted, one blogger,    fighter as a kid. “It turns out, the Internet
                                             Gregory Asmolov, suggested that it would       made me some kind of a virtual fire-
                                             be a good idea to use an online mapping        fighter,” he wrote.

     A volunteer from Moscow, who
     refused to be identified, tries to
     extinguish a forest fire, which came
     close to a village of Kovrigino, some
     74 km (about 46 miles) east of
     Moscow early Friday, 13 August 2010.
                                                                                                 Left: Numerous citizen media projects
                                                                                                 that set out to address an information
                                                                                                 deficit in their own countries end up
                                                                                                 becoming ‘a story’ themselves. Left is
                                                                                                 a screenshot of created
                                                                                                 to enable wildfire survivors to find and
                                                                                                 receive help from other citizens.

                                                                                                 Below left:

                                                                                                 we are more likely to have a story from
                                                                                                 Trinidad and Tobago, Armenia, or Pakistan
                                                                                                 than from anywhere in Europe or the
                                                                                                 United States, this is no small feat.

                                                                                                 What often happens is that journalists or
                                                                                                 television producers will be on the lookout
                                                                                                 for an alternative angle to an ongoing for-
                                                                                                 eign news story and will do a story on
                                                                                                 “what bloggers are saying.” In other cases, a
                                                                                                 project like the Russian wildfires website,
                                                 ing. But they often arise in reaction to gaps   or say, a website to monitor irregularities
                                                 in mainstream media coverage of a certain       during the Brazilian election, will demon-
                                                 event or perspective. In the five years since   strate there’s enough material for a story of
                                                 Global Voices Online began, it has has al-      its own.
                                                 ways emphasized parts of the world that
                                                 are usually ignored by international media.     In Madagascar, young bloggers who cov-
                                                                                                 ered a government coup and riots in the
                                                 The site was founded by two fellows at the      streets said they were compelled to risk
                                                 Berkman Center for Internet and Society at      their safety to tell these stories, because
                                                 Harvard University, Ethan Zuckerman and         local mainstream media were deeply biased
                                                 Rebecca MacKinnon, as an effort to expand       by pressure from both government and op-
                                                 global media attention and cross-cultural       position. Before international journalists
Somewhat unintentionally, many bloggers          dialogue by (among other things) connect-       began to call for interviews, Malagasy citi-
similarly become “virtual journalists” or        ing bloggers in the developing world with       zens of the diaspora were finding these
even “virtual ambassadors” for their coun-       mainstream media journalists.                   blogs through search engines and thanking
tries when their websites or blogs become                                                        them for updates. Once the streets had
hubs for international information gather-       The international news agency Reuters was       calmed, the bloggers convened a public
ing in moments of crisis.                        an early partner, and MacKinnon was a for-      meeting to gather their thoughts. They were
                                                 mer CNN bureau chief in Beijing and Tokyo       surprised to see several journalists in atten-
In Iran, Madagascar, Uganda, Puerto Rico,        who later turned to online media. Global        dance. It turned out there was a degree of
and many other countries, bloggers are           Voices, which I help manage, has become a       competitive resentment and envy. A few
often surprised and delighted when jour-         vast international community of “citizen        months later, the bloggers began offering
nalists contact them for interviews. It’s an     journalists,” with more than 300 bloggers       new media training to journalists.
opportunity for them to help communicate         who report and translate stories daily.
what is happening in their country. Very                                                         This is just one example of how citizen
few people think of their own blogging or        Every month a few hundred thousand vis-         journalists have worked together benefi-
crowd-sourcing projects in terms of jour-        itors pass through our multiple language        cially with mainstream media even though
nalism, but the media often label it “citizen    websites. Many more have seen our au-
journalism” anyway.                              thors’ work referenced in mainstream             The most successful
Journalists often imagine it as an (inferior)
                                                                                                  citizen media projects
imitation of their own craft, performed by       When we surveyed more than 100 Global            arise in reaction to
unknowning amateurs. But it, in fact, often      Voices authors earlier this year, 44 percent
involves communities of intelligent and          said they had seen links or mentions of
                                                                                                  gaps in mainstream
committed people.                                their stories in media from the United           media coverage of a
                                                 States or Europe, and nearly the same de-
The most successful citizen media projects       gree of attention from local and national
                                                                                                  certain event or
are rarely styled after traditional news writ-   media in their own countries. Considering        perspective.
                                                                                                                                IPI REPORT   83
they began as counter-voices. Citizen jour-     In the past few years, I’ve attended more           The idea that professional
nalists and traditional media help each         than a dozen media and journalism con-
other. Only rarely have online citizen          ferences. I often “defend” citizen journal-
                                                                                                    journalists should some-
media projects gained notoriety without         ism to those who argue that it’s useless, or        how have a monopoly on
local or international media coverage or        only good in dictatorships and poor coun-
cooperation.                                    tries. Countless times, I’ve seen journalists
                                                                                                    public communications
                                                assume a defensive position. At one recent          is strange to me. depended on mainstream         conference in Berlin the co-editor-in-chief
media and larger blogs to spread the word       of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper            Bloggers or citizen journalists often work as
about its website. For the same reason, Ju-     in Germany, Werner D’Inka, challenged              members of virtual or online communities
lian Assange from WikiLeaks kept tens of        me directly, asking whether I would, “want         who identify a need and a collaborative
thousands of leaked US military docu-           to live in a house built by a citizen archi-       method for meeting that need.
ments about Afghanistan a secret for weeks      tect?” He said journalism is not “just story-
until he had secured an agreement for si-       telling” and asked whether I thought his           Professional journalism is crucially impor-
multaneous media coverage by the New            five years studying journalism had been a          tant to our societies and democracies.
York Times, the Guardian (UK) and Der           waste of time if “anyone” could be a citizen       Wonderful new communication forms are
Spiegel on 25 July 2010.                        journalist.                                        sprouting up online to enhance it, by diver-
                                                                                                   sifying sources and the stories people
WikiLeaks could have published the docu-        I too have studied and taught journalism           share.
ments on the Web directly, but even with        at a university. And I know that journal-
an international story of potentially mas-      ists (in their spare time at least) are citi-      Journalists should embrace citizen media,
sive significance, one would have to be         zens too. The idea that professional jour-         as many already do, and not be so con-
naive to assume that the same newspapers        nalists should somehow have a monopoly             cerned with how to fit it into media cate-
would have devoted such resources to cov-       on public communications is strange to             gories of the past. Innovation and collabo-
ering a story that was not exclusively          me.                                                ration with citizens will long serve journal-
theirs.                                                                                            ism and the public interest.
                                                In the case of Global Voices, the majority of
Stories keep asking whether WikiLeaks is “a     our contributors each speak three languages
new model of citizen journalism.” In an in-     and have post-graduate degrees. They may
terview in a Wall Street Journal blog,          not all be journalists, but they are still seri-
Jonathan Zittrain, a co-founder of the Berk-    ous people. If they had nothing of value to
man Center at Harvard, says WikiLeaks is        share, they would not be able to mobilize
“just a new intermediary.” There have al-       virtual communities of supporters.
ways been leaked documents, and newspa-
per stories about them. The difference now      Successful citizen media requires a com-
is that technology makes it easier to move      munity of support from inception to imple-
the data, and also that whistle-blowers         mentation. Alexey Sidorenko said he
have new alternatives to mainstream             would never have launched Russian-
media.                                 if it weren’t for his involvement
                                                with Global Voices and the fact that he at-
Again, this is an example of a kind of “jour-   tended the Global Voices Summit in Chile
nalism” that is not centered on writing         in May.
news articles, but is inspiring people to re-
consider where the boundaries of journal-       “I know for sure I would never otherwise
ism begin and end, and who should be            have known to use the Ushahidi software,”
trusted or expected to perform the role         he said. “First of all, I didn’t know the tech-
best. Rather than waiting for professional      nology. Second, I couldn’t have imagined it
media to communicate something, citizens        would be a success. And finally, it was in         Solana Larsen is the managing editor of Global
will often simply take matters into their       Chile that the developers of the software          Voices and the former editor of
own hands.                                      became ‘real’ people to me.”

84      IPI REPORT
                                                                                     Tags: Deepened, Focused, Specialized

How Niche Journalism
Works for POLITICO
By Bill Nichols

US political website and news-
paper POLITICO thrives by
limiting its focus and offering
                                    O          n June 25, 2009, there was a bit
                                    more than the usual ruckus in the
                                    POLITICO newsroom just across the Po-
                                    tomac River from Washington, DC:
                                    Michael Jackson was dead and POLITICO’s
                                                                                     everything. We cover politics, lobbying,
                                                                                     Congress and the White House and execu-
                                                                                     tive branch. Outside that, from Tiger
                                                                                     Woods to Britney Spears, from Lindsay
                                                                                     Lohan to World Cup results and back again,
exclusive saturation coverage
                                    managing editor wasn’t quite sure what to        we are perfectly comfortable knowing our
within its niche, modeling a        do.                                              readers will seek that coverage somewhere
growing media trend away from
                                    Said managing editor would be me – a vet-
being “all things to all readers”   eran of over 20 years as a reporter at USA       Niche journalism, as this selective form of
                                    Today, a general interest news dynamo            specialized coverage has become known, is
and toward being “one indispen-
                                    where Jackson’s death would have in-             one of several phoenix-like trends gather-
sable thing to many readers.”       stantly wiped the news budget clean and          ing strength out of the ashes of the old
                                    prompted an immediate frenzy of news-            media order. These are some reasons it
                                    gathering activity. But as I don’t work at       makes sense for us – and likely will make
                                    USA Today any more, fellow POLITICO ed-          sense for many of our colleagues going for-
                                    itors quickly convened to offer counseling.      ward.
                                    Dreams of a “Goodbye Jacko!” headline on
                                    the Web were dashed, as was a pictorial ret-     It’s pointless – and economically insane –
                                    rospective of Bubbles the Chimp.                 to provide news that readers can get 1,000
                                                                                     different places.
                                    Finally, a group of young Web producers
                                    took pity on me and put together a slide         There is an immediate caveat to this
                                    show featuring MJ with presidents and po-        thought; there will be general interest news
                                    litical leaders over the years. And at last, I   sites that survive into the future. There will
                                    settled down.                                    always be a New York Times, a CNN, a BBC,
                                                                                     a Spiegel Online and hopefully even a USA
                                    I exaggerate; but only a little. And my almost   Today.
                                    comic level of distress that June day vividly
                                    illustrates one of the founding principles of    But there will be precious few such sites be-
                                    POLITICO and a concept we believe will be-       cause the rest of us don’t have the resources
                                    come a foundation for a majority of news or-     to blanket the globe and field a staff that
                                    ganizations as we move into the media’s un-      can be competitive across news/sports/
                                    charted future.                                  business/entertainment lines.

                                    Rule No. 1 for us is bracingly simple, yet       And beyond the question of staffing, there’s
                                    revolutionary in practice: We don’t cover        an equally pertinent editorial question to

                                                                                                               IPI REPORT       85
be answered about trying to build a general     Readers no longer want to consume news        more detail on topics that appeal to them,
interest news site: can you do that and dif-    as a single entrée – they want a buffet of    be it sports, financial news, foreign news
ferentiate your work, your brand? That is       sites that give them specialized, in-depth    (and I think that’s an area of real possibility
the core goal all media organizations share     content on topics that they are interested    in the years ahead), arts and entertain-
in today’s new world order.                     in.                                           ment, gossip, etc.

Producing content that is different, exclu-     Another way to put this is: Why not em-       Readers revel in the inversion of the old
sive and revelatory in some way is one of the   brace niche journalism, as readers are        journalistic paradigm where we told them
essential ingredients for success in today’s    going to demand it anyway? The days of a      what news was important and when they
cluttered media landscape, and it’s self-evi-   handful of newspapers and television net-     should access it. Now, instead, they create
dently easier if you’re doing that covering     works dominating the news business and        their own news accessing experience with
topics that you bring you some advantage,       offering readers a one-stop shopping expe-    a smorgasbord of sites they can access
be that geographical or intellectual.           rience for information are already gone.      whenever and however they choose.
                                                Successful enterprises like ESPN and CNBC,
On this score, niche journalism allows you      the Food Network , Global Post, Market-       POLITICO, among other newcomers on the
to increase your journalistic power by ac-      watch and many others demonstrate that        media scene, has proven a theory that
knowledging your limitations. A local paper     readers and viewers want to use the new       should have been self-evident; if you break
can’t cover the World Cup like the New York     possibilities of the media and the new, al-   stories, people will come to your site to read
Times or the BBC, but it can completely         most unlimited freedom they have to seek      them. The easiest way to do that is to flood
dominate local and statewide sports cover-      out information to explore topics that in-    the zone in covering a particular subject
age. The same goes for local politics or for    terest them in much greater detail.           area on which you can regularly stay ahead
blanketing larger topics on a national scale.                                                 of your competition.
Niche journalism means going where the          Our view, at POLITICO, is that readers in-
readers are – and where the competition         creasingly may use one site as a home page    Niche journalism, by definition, requires a
may be more successfully engaged.               base, but will graze the Web to delve into    news organization to own the limited terri-

86      IPI REPORT
Far left: POLITICO Newsroom
Washington, DC.

Below: POLITICO’s Jim VandeHei
makes a live TV appearance
from the Newsroom.

                                                                                                 and provide the kind of depth and context
                                                                                                 that would normally get left on the cutting
                                                                                                 room floor.

                                                                                                  Readers create their
                                                                                                  own news accessing
                                                                                                  experience with
                                                                                                  a smorgasboard
                                                                                                  of sites.

tory it covers and also allows reporting and    is key to success in this new age: If it’s not
editing resources to be deployed in a way       exclusive, revelatory or unique in some
most likely to produce news. If you don’t       way, we shouldn’t be doing it.
have to staff an event you know is destined
for page A13 or a distant Web subpage be-       We have to fight for readership each and
cause it’s part of your mission as a general    every day and prove to readers each and
interest site, you can instead focus that re-   every day that we have something insight-
porter on a story that actually means some-     ful to say that can’t be found in any other
thing to your audience.                         corner of the Web.

When John Harris and Jim VandeHei               Niche journalism may seem an oxymoron
hatched the idea for POLITICO, one of the       in a world of limitless possibility on the
goals they wanted to achieve was to only        Web. Similarly, it is, I suppose, an admis-
do stories that were interesting, as opposed    sion of at least partial defeat to acknowl-
to stories that were covered out of some        edge that the days when the philosophy of
sense of obligation, even with the knowl-       general content journalism ruled have
edge that few, if any, readers were clamor-     come to an end for most of us.                   Bill Nichols has been managing editor of POLITICO
ing for them.                                                                                    since January 2007. He spent the previous 24 years
                                                Our experience at POLITICO, however, is          at USA Today, where he covered the White House,
While it can require significant self-control   that niche journalism actually broadens          State Department and was a senior Washington
and discipline – as in “Oh my God, we don’t     our journalistic possibilities by allowing us    correspondent. He has covered six presidential
have Lebron James going to Miami any-           to break more stories, be a regular part of      campaigns, 12 national conventions and emerged
where on our site!” – niche journalism, al-     the national conversation on politics, lob-      undefeated from two presidential golfing outings
most by definition, results in more sharply     bying, Congress and the White House, and         with Bill Clinton.
focused stories that meet a standard we feel    allow our writers and editors to dig deeper

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT        87
Tags: Blogged, Commented, Engaged

Building a Cabin and
a Blog Create Foundation
for Community
By Louis Ureneck

This cabin builder, editor and
professor learned about
journalism’s future while
                                    In the fall of 2009, I set about building a
                                    cabin in the hills of western Maine. Appar-
                                    ently, a lot of other people had the same
                                    urge. I wrote a column about it for the New
                                    York Times, and the column triggered a cas-
                                                                                  I was conscious of lagging behind my stu-
                                                                                  dents in the world of podcasts, blogging,
                                                                                  and social networking. So, when the Times
                                                                                  said it was interested in publishing a blog
                                                                                  about my work on the cabin as I was actu-
building a blog and a foundation
                                    cade of letters and emails from people        ally doing the work, I seized the opportu-
of interested readers, who          around the country who were interested in     nity. I saw it as a way to learn the tools and
                                    cabins and country life.                      techniques of blogging and multimedia
taught him and one another,
as they participated in the         At about the same time, I was feeling the
                                    need to learn more about Web publishing.      The blog ran under the title, “From the
construction of a second home
                                    I am a journalism professor at Boston Uni-    Ground Up,” in the newspaper’s online
and a virtual community.            versity, and I had spent most of my life      Home Section. From time to time, it was
                                    awash in newspaper ink, most recently as      featured on the Times’ homepage. It began
                                    the page-one editor of the Philadelphia In-   in November of 2009 and ran for 15
                                    quirer.                                       months – essentially the time it took me to

build the cabin from clearing the land to      My first experiences with the Web actually      Times’ editors asked me to double check
pounding the last nails.                       came early. As editor of the Portland           names and facts, and sometimes they asked
                                               (Maine) Press Herald, I put the paper on-       me to pursue a particular angle on the
At the end of the cabin project, I not only    line in 1995. It was among the first with a     cabin’s construction. I was not out there on
had a pleasant writer’s retreat in the White   website. But I drifted back to print, and       my own. The expense involved in editing
Mountain National Forest with a wood           while I was an active user of the Internet, I   blogs may not be possible for every news
stove, front porch and sleeping loft. I had    was not an active contributor.                  organization, but as the blogger who re-
learned an enormous amount about blog-                                                         ceived it, I can assure you that the result is
ging, simple audio-video production, and       The cabin blog changed that. Among the          better work.
the creation of a worldwide community of       lessons I have learned:
like-minded people - in my case, cabin                                                         Blogging is a two-way – actually a multi-
builders and cabin dreamers.                   Blogging is not news writing, but accu-         way – conversation, and this makes for a
                                               racy and information remain essential.          much richer report. Many of the readers
My work in narrative journalism also ben-      As is a personal voice. I wanted my posts       who followed my blog were far better and
efited. The blog taught me a few things        to be packed with useful information about      more experienced builders than I. They
about serial writing and managing the de-      cabin building. I described building tech-      spotted problems in the design and con-
velopment of multiple story lines that un-     niques, listed the costs of materials and in-   struction and were willing to post com-
folded real time.                              dicated the sources of products and materi-     ments that offered tips and solutions. I
                                               als. Readers wanted this information. But       adopted some of them. The cabin plan ac-
The Times’ edition of the blog has now         they also responded to my views and feel-       tually changed as a result of reader input.
ended, but I keep the blog going, though       ings as a cabin builder. Among the most         In one phase of the construction, I even
with less intensity, because I enjoy the in-   popular posts were those in which I talked      had readers submit design plans.
teraction with the community I have built      about why I wanted a cabin and how my
and the steady accretion, diary-like, of the   brother and nephews were willing to pitch       The conversations in the comments section
cabin’s progress. I have moved from cabin      in to build it.                                 of the blog are not just between the blogger
building to planting an apple orchard and                                                      and the audience. Several times readers
building a barn. My latest cliffhanger in-     Blogging benefits from editing. I was for-      began conversing with each other over the
volves a moose’s assault on my young           tunate to be blogging for one of the world’s    best ways to handle an element of the
apple trees and my efforts to fend him off.    great newspapers. Not only was I paid a         cabin’s construction. In these instances, I
It is not clear yet who will prevail.          modest sum for my work, I got good editing.     sat back, enjoyed the chat and learned from

                                                                                                                         IPI REPORT       89
              Page 88: The cabin and the blog
              begin to take shape.

              Page 89: The finished product - a
              hidden country retreat and a thriving
              online community.

              Right and below left: Making the
              cabin watertight before winter.

my readers. It was a hard analogy to resist:
at times, the cabin blog seemed to be the
cracker barrel in the country store over
which people talked and exchanged infor-

Readers like to be invited in. One of best set
of posts involved publishing photos and
short stories about readers’ cabins.

Adding audio and video to a blog is sim-
ple and even fun. I borrowed a video cam-
era from the college locker. With about 10            tos of the winter landscape with Mozart          project. The good people at The Viking
minutes instruction from one of our tech-             playing behind. I also learned to use Twitter    Press in New York have given me a contract
nicians, I was shooting video. It wasn’t per-         along the way. Each time, I put up a new         to tell the cabin’s story in even greater emo-
fect, for sure. I took some kidding from my           post, I sent out a tweet.                        tional depth, detail and texture. I am at
colleagues in the Film Department, but it                                                              work on it now, and from time to time, I go
was good enough to get my points across               Blogging is good for writing. I got into the     back to my blog to remember the journey
and show key parts of the story.                      habit of sitting down immediately after re-      that I have just completed.
                                                      turning from the cabin and writing a post
I shot scenes and offered commentary on               of about 200 words, some times more,             This assertion may set me apart from most
Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, and I                 some times less. I wrote easily and without      journalists, but I am a proponent of writing
taped the walk that I took with a wildlife bi-        strain. The result was a conversational style    in the first person. I think it is honest, direct
ologist over a frozen beaver pond near the            and personal touch. I usually filed twice a      and usually more vivid than writing in the
cabin. I also produced audio slideshows,              week and always met my deadlines. I also         third person. This doesn’t mean that all or
which were often more appealing and “fin-             found that I could juggle three story lines at   even most pieces should be written that
ished” than the video segments. In one, I             a time – sometimes about the cabin; some-        way, nor do I advocate gratuitous or indul-
showed photos of the timber frame being               times about the animals; sometimes about         gent point-of-view writing. If the writer,
constructed, with banjo music playing in              the people involved in the project.              speaking in the first person, asserts a con-
the background. In another, I showed pho-                                                              clusion, then it needs to be backed up with
                                                      The act of blogging – if taken seriously –       evidence.
                                                      deepens the writer’s experience of the
                                                      events he or she is reporting. I was creat-      My guess is that first-person writing would
                                                      ing a journal of my experience, and I was        close the gap between writers and readers
                                                      reflecting on the experience as it moved         and might even augment credibility by
                                                      along. The result was a much more satisfy-       being upfront and honest by declaring that
                                                      ing experience than if I had just built the      a piece of reporting is, in fact, something that
                                                      cabin and never sat down to remember the         has been put together by a real person with
                                                      day’s events.                                    eyes, a mind, emotions and principles. The
                                                                                                       objective, or clinical, voice in journalism –
                                                      The final piece of this project now is the       combined with a distressing willingness to
                                                      writing of a book. I have gone from news-        quote discredited points of view to achieve
                                                      paper essay, to multi-media blog to book         balance – is one of the sources of journal-

90       IPI REPORT
                                                       Here are my answers
                                                       to some common questions
                                                       about blogging.

                                                       How can journalists work blogging             In some cases, over time, blogging
                                                       into their schedules without sacrific-        blends with the main job and become
                                                       ing the time they need to get their           inseparable from it.
                                                       main jobs done?
                                                       Blogging takes time, for sure, but it can     Doesn’t blogging invite journalists to
ism’s loss of confidence among young peo-              also be a way for reporters to get their      focus too much on themselves as op-
ple. It also is a source of much satire directed       ideas written and organized ahead of          posed to subjects of their coverage?
journalism’s way by people such as Jon                 their plunge into the longer and more         This is a matter of mission and self-con-
Stewart. There is a long and serious tradition         developed story they intend to compose.       trol. By that, I mean the reporter and ed-
of first-person journalism for us to draw on,          This is especially true on a running story    itor need to agree up front on whether
in both Europe and the Americas.                       where there are a series of minor             the blog is principally a running news
                                                       episodes that precede the main news           story with a series of “new leads” (as the
 The blog taught me                                    event (such as legislative hearings in ad-    wire services have been doing for
                                                       vance of a vote).                             decades) or whether the blog is a blend
 a few things about serial                                                                           of writerly voice (or opinion) and infor-
 writing and managing                                  These preliminary episodes need to be         mation. If it is the latter, then the rules of
                                                       captured and synthesized by the re-           column writing more or less apply. Edi-
 the development of                                    porter for him or her to eventually find      tors and reporters have learned how to
 multiple story lines that                             and convey their full significance in the     manage these differences effectively in
                                                       more developed piece. Blog entries can        print. They can simply transfer those
 unfolded in real time.                                be a way of sorting out and making            rules and agreements to the Web.
                                                       sense of what is happening, as it is hap-
                                                       pening. The act of writing brings coher-      What are some good examples of
                                                       ence to the material, which, of course, is    blogs maintained by journalists in
                                                       an aid to the writer.                         ways that supplement their coverage
                                                                                                     and grow their audiences?
                                                       There also is a discipline that comes out     I go to Paul Krugman’s column in the
                                                       of blogging. The writer needs to tell him-    New York Times for a bold and informed
                                                       self something like this: I will give my-     take on economic news. He has the in-
                                                       self 10 minutes to get down the morn-         stincts of a news reporter, I think, in that
                                                       ing’s events, and I will post my blog         he seems to sense the forward edge of a
                                                       entry by noon. At the same time, ironi-       story, and that’s where he goes his work.
                                                       cally, the bar on writing quality is lower,   In other words, he seems to know what
                                                       typically, so the writer can get words        matters. Consequently, I also turn to his
                                                       down faster without the torment of try-       blog for additional information and in-
                                                       ing to get the polish sometimes de-           sight – all in the inimitable Krugman
                                                       manded.                                       voice. I also have enormous respect for
                                                                                                     the reporting and news analysis of Floyd
                                                       In time, the writing for the blog becomes     Norris of the New York Times. His grasp
                                                       relaxed in the way a conversation is re-      of financial reporting is an inspiration to
Louis Ureneck, recently chair of the Journalism        laxed –- or perhaps more accurately, the      reporters who aspire to expertise in their
Department at Boston University, is a former           blog entries shape up in the same way         work. His blog offers more straight
Nieman fellow at Harvard University and winner of      that spoken answers might be given by         analysis but also adds personal touches,
the National Outdoor Book Award for his memoir,        a reporter who is being interviewed           including a very moving recent entry on
“Backcast.” He was editor of the Portland Press Her-   about an event or issue. In an interview,     his battle with cancer.
ald and deputy managing editor of The Philadelphia     a reporter does not write out his an-
Inquirer. At BU, he is also director of the graduate   swers. He simply speaks them as best he
program in Business and Economics Reporting.           can. So it is often with a blog entry.

                                                                                                                                 IPI REPORT           91
Tags: Broadcast, Streamed, Video

The Future of TV News
Belongs, in Part, to
Multi-Platform Video
By Steve Herrmann

The popularity of online video
and TV-on-demand will help
reposition broadcast news for
                                   A            sking an online editor to write
                                   about the future of TV news is perhaps a
                                   slightly risky thing to do. We might be
                                   tempted to take the provocative approach
                                   by way of reply, to spell out the bad news to
                                                                                   Short news clips online work, if they show
                                                                                   something visually compelling (not an-
                                                                                   chors or reporters outside buildings, but
                                                                                   action, key soundbites, rare moments). But
                                                                                   keep them short. Or very short. This works
the future.
                                   our TV colleagues: ‘What future? Long-          best when they’re embedded alongside or
                                   term, TV news doesn’t have one, I’m afraid.     within related text stories. It works less well
                                   You need to join us in online, multimedia       when videos are offered as a destination –
                                   news instead.’                                  people won’t necessarily go there just be-
                                                                                   cause it’s video, you have to try and explain
                                   But I don’t happen to think the end is nigh     in a label or headline why they should in-
                                   for TV news. And I’m not just saying that       vest, say, 1 minute 20 seconds of their time
                                   because I work for a large broadcasting         to watch (so tell them what they’ll get and
                                   company, or because my boss is a TV news        exactly how much time it’ll take too).
                                   editor (actually she’s not).                    When the BBC News site launched embed-
                                                                                   ded video clips a couple of years ago, it led
                                   I’m saying it because, in the UK, audiences     to a doubling of traffic to video within a
                                   to the BBC’s flagship TV news bulletins are     year. News and sport video clips now tend
                                   stable and the numbers of viewers of its        to get more traffic overall than long-form
                                   continuous News Channel, or its breakfast       news programmes on the BBC’s live and
                                   news program, for example, are actually on      on-demand online TV service iPlayer.
                                   the rise.
                                                                                   Live streams of major news events are a
                                   However, I do think TV news will have to        hugely important part of on-demand,
                                   adapt to changes in the ways people are         video news. Sometimes (in the BBC’s case
                                   watching news. So I’ll try to outline some of   often) that means we are basically stream-
                                   those changes here, and maybe pass on a         ing the live TV news coverage. A growing
                                   few of the lessons we’ve learned about how      proportion of the audience for major live
                                   people watch news on digital, on-demand         events on the BBC’s continuous News
                                   platforms. That means on mobile devices         Channel now comes from online viewing
                                   and interactive TV, but mainly on websites,     via the BBC News website.
                                   at the moment, where the proportion of
                                   users watching video on the BBC News site,      Longer-form news video is not - for now
                                   for example, is usually about 10 percent of     anyway - proving that compelling for news
                                   the traffic to the site overall.                consumers online. It’s worth linking to

these programs and formats even from a          Minister was popular viewing on the BBC’s        And any individual report could become a
fast-moving news site, though, and writing      mobile browser), as does news about mo-          jumping-off point for related on-demand
a story or providing a clip as a way into the   bile technology, and clips which are quirky,     content – more video, or text, or graphics
program can work well. Distinctive docu-        funny or just plain surprising (think run-       on the same topic.
mentaries and news-making programs do           away bears, prophetic octopuses – or com-
best; a good example was a particularly         pilations of both).                              So think about the depth of reporting you’ll
controversial edition of the BBC’s “Ques-                                                        need in order to sustain this on the big sto-
tion Time” programme last year, which           TV-on-demand is worth thinking hard              ries. In fact, the linear broadcast could be-
featured a prominent British far-right          about in the context of news. Not just           come a bit like a trailer for the fuller, more
politician.                                     catch-up services like TiVo and Sky+ that        detailed and potentially richer treatment of
                                                let you record and time-delay your view-         the story, which can be made available in the
On mobile, so far, video usage is small         ing, but Internet-connected TV platforms         space which on-demand platforms can offer.
compared with desktop PC use – for news         like Project Canvas (in which the BBC is a
at least. The broader commercial market         shareholder).                                    Traditional TV news skills will, in my
for mobile video has been slow to pick up,                                                       view, still matter in the future. The ability
with slow speeds on anything less than 3G,      Exactly what the right mix will be between       to recognise and gather great pictures, edit
and with data charges and plans expensive       news in text, short and long-form video is       them skillfully, write concisely and clearly
and confusing. But the market is changing       something we are still experimenting with.       and tell compelling stories will be as im-
as smartphone penetration increases and         One thing seems vital, editorially: Every        portant as ever. But in addition, as TV news
packages get more accessible. And applica-      single TV news package needs to be a piece       evolves into new forms, it will require skills
tions on devices like the iPad may hasten       of great storytelling because each will have     like developing clear labelling and sign-
the change.                                     to stand – or fall – on its own. There will be   posting, simple navigation, concise head-
                                                no bulletin to carry it. The navigation to it    lines and summaries, balancing video and
There are already some exceptions to low        has to be simple to use and the labelling        text, content that can stand alone, not as
uptake of mobile news video – major             crystal clear. If someone has selected to        part of a linear sequence, and integration in
breaking news does well, for example            watch it, the report has to be clear, strong,    the right places of short, sharp, unpackaged
(David Cameron’s first speech as UK Prime       and self-contained.                              clips.             Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
                                                                                                                  consectetuer adipiscing elit.
                                                                                                                  Aenean commodo ligula eget
                                                                                                                            IPI REPORT          93
                                                                                                                  dolor. Aenean massa.
Page 93: Inside the BBC News Online of-
fices, BBC Television Centre, London.

Below: The BBC  News Online website is
the most popular in the UK, registering
approximately 14 million unique users
per week.

                                                                                     The familiar formats we currently know -
                                                                                     the flagship bulletins, the rolling news
                                                                                     channels - may change. New technologies
                                                                                     do not always replace old ones, but some-
                                                                                     times they do evolve and enhance them. I
                                                                                     believe TV news is about to get much richer
                                                                                     and more diverse as it becomes news in
                                                                                     video, across many platforms.

                                                                                      Every TV news package
                                                                                      needs to be a piece of
                                                                                      great storytelling because
                                                                                      each will have to stand –
                                                                                      or fall – on its own.

Major video news stories on the BBC News website - story title number of plays and
date originally posted:

Major news video stories                  AV Plays             Date

Election 2010: Live                       5,250,585            07/05/2010
(Hung Parliament)

Election 2010:                            2,511,114            11/05/2010
Live (Cameron)

Shoes hurled at George Bush               1,362,500            15/12/2008

BNP Candidate, Asian men clash            1,223,529            06/05/2010

Sri Lankan cricketers under fire          1,073,286            03/03/2009
                                                                                     Steve Herrmann is Editor of the award-winning
                                                                                     BBC News website (, a role he has
Brown ‘bigoted’ jib caught on tape        957,557              28/04/2010            held since January 2006. As Editor, he is in charge
                                                                                     of BBC News editorial coverage online and oversees
                                                                                     operations across the website and other on de-
Obama’s victory speech                    929,743              05/11/2008            mand services.

94        IPI REPORT
                                                                                  Tags: Bullied, Exposed, Investigated

New Online Tools
Usher in Golden Age of
Global Muckraking
By Sheila S. Coronel

Investigative reporting has
grown outside of traditional
media, with citizens using
                                 O          n the spring of 2010, Alexander
                                 Malyutin caused a public outcry when he
                                 revealed that the Russian interior ministry
                                 was buying an $800,000-bed overlaid with
                                 24-Carat gold for one of its guesthouses. He
                                                                                Since the 1980s, there’s been an explosion of
                                                                                exposure journalism in countries that until
                                                                                recently did not even have a free press. The
                                                                                fall of authoritarian and socialist regimes
                                                                                has opened up spaces for accountability re-
technology to uncover and        found proof of the extravagance while          porting, allowing journalists in many new
share information about people   combing through government tender doc-         democracies to become one of the most ef-
                                 uments posted on the Web.                      fective checks on the abuse of power.
in power and the organizations
that support them.               In Tunisia, Astrubal trolled amateur plane-    In the last decade, new tools like blogging
                                 spotting websites and discovered that the      software, Twitter, Google Earth and You-
                                 presidential plane had been photographed       Tube have become widely and freely acces-
                                 in the airports of Europe’s shopping capi-     sible. These have democratized muckrak-
                                 tals. How could that be, he asked, when the    ing in ways previously unimagined. Em-
                                 president had never taken an official trip     powered by the Internet, bloggers like Ma-
                                 overseas? The answer: The First Lady was       lyutin, Astrubal and Mahmood Nasser Al-
                                 an avid shopper.                               Yousif of Mahmood’s Den are piercing the
                                                                                veil of official secrecy. Like the nameless
                                 Satellite images from Google Earth helped      Burmese exiles who commit occasional
                                 Mahmood’s Den plot the vast expanses of        acts of journalism, they show that the
                                 land that had been awarded to members of       watchdog function is now no longer the
                                 the royal family in Bahrain. Google Earth      sole preserve of the professional press.
                                 also enabled Burmese exiles to locate
                                 Naypyidaw, the secret capital built by the     In Europe and North America, there’s been
                                 country’s ruling junta. They uploaded the      much wringing of hands about the uncer-
                                 images onto YouTube, a short clip that         tain future of investigative reporting. This
                                 showed the palatial homes of junta mem-        is especially true in the US where, since
                                 bers and the gigantic swimming pool built      Watergate, newspapers have been the
                                 by the dictator Than Shwe. Few Burmese         keepers of the investigative flame. With
                                 have Internet access, so the video was         many newspapers at death’s door, there’s
                                 copied on discs and smuggled into the          worry about whether they can keep the
                                 country.                                       flame alive.

                                 Is this the dawning of a Golden Age of         But elsewhere, democracy and technol-
                                 global muckraking?                             ogy are prying open previously closed

                                                                                                          IPI REPORT      95
                            Right: Toolkit of the
                            next generation of
                            global muckrakers.

 Muckrakers will plod on
 even in the most inhos-
 pitable environments
 because wherever power
 is abused, the compulsion
 to expose wrongdoing
 remains strong.
societies and providing citizens with in-           In an increasingly global and networked         profit and nonprofit entities, professionals
formation that would not have been                  world, watchdog reporting will cease to be      and amateurs, across media platforms and
available to them in the not-too-distant            the monopoly of professional news organ-        across borders will be commonplace.
past. From Bahrain to Burma, from Russia            izations. It will be a much more open field,    Crowdsourcing will be the norm, with au-
to China to Zimbabwe, the new muckrak-              which journalists will share with individu-     diences initiating and taking part in inves-
ers are using blogs, mobile phones and so-          als, research and advocacy groups, grass-       tigations.
cial media to expose the predations of              roots communities, and a whole slew of
those in power.                                     Web-based entities like WikiLeaks, for          Like elsewhere in journalism, investigative
                                                    which a category and a name have yet to be      reporting will divide into niches. Commu-
The truth is that, in most of the world, there      invented.                                       nities of interest will form around various
has not been much watchdog reporting                                                                areas of watchdog reporting. These could
until recently. In these places, therefore, the     As commercial media search for a business       be consumer concerns or national security
concern is not so much the business model           model, professional, high-quality inves-        or something more specific, like watchdog
that would sustain investigative newsgath-          tigative reporting will increasingly be sub-    sites to monitor the whaling industry or the
ering. It’s whether journalists and citizens        sidized by foundations and the public, and      safety of bridges.
who expose wrongdoing can stay alive or             in some countries, even by taxpayers.
out of prison. Muckraking journalists and           Freed from market pressures, nonprofit in-      The future of investigative news will be
citizens have been sued, jailed, beaten up          vestigative reporting centers will be doing     local, as communities drill down on local
and killed.                                         groundbreaking reporting. There are al-         concerns. Web-based local watchdogs will
                                                    ready a few dozen of them in Eastern Eu-        set up small newsrooms specializing in ac-
In Russia, contract killers have gunned             rope, Africa, Latin America and Asia.           countability reporting and funded by a mix
down investigative journalists in their                                                             of commercial revenues and community
homes or on busy city streets. In Mexico,           Technology will enable news organizations       support.
journalists have been murdered by drug              to produce increasingly sophisticated in-
cartels; in the Philippines, the assassins          vestigations using large amounts of data        But the future will also be global. There will
have been rogue cops and soldiers linked to         and presented in amazing new ways, espe-        be much more transnational reporting on
local bosses. As watchdogs breach the               cially as governments, companies and in-        such issues as crime, corruption, the envi-
bounds of what’s possible to publish, the           ternational organizations make more and         ronment, and the flow of goods, money
backlash will surely be fierce.                     more data publicly available.                   and people across borders. Journalists and
                                                                                                    citizens will be collaborating across borders
Yet, a return to the Dark Ages no longer            The future of investigative news will be col-   like never before, using the tools of the net-
seems possible. The openings we see today           laborative. Strapped for resources, news        worked information age.
are here to stay and provide us a glimpse           organizations will be forced to cooperate,
of a possible future for accountability             rather than compete. Joint investigations       Such collaborations are already taking
reporting.                                          involving several news organizations, for       place; in Europe, Africa and the Arab world,

96       IPI REPORT
                                                                                                Left: Alexey Dymovsky, a Russian
                                                                                                police officer who decried corruption
                                                                                                among colleagues in his video blog,
                                                                                                was fired and threatened with a lawsuit
                                                                                                by the Russian Interior Ministry in
                                                                                                November, 2009.

                                                                                                possible. Moreover, technology makes it
                                                                                                easier to mobilize protest.

                                                                                                Like all journalism, the landscape of watch-
                                                                                                dog reporting is being radically altered. It
                                                                                                will be a contested and uneven landscape.
                                                                                                Powerful governments and individuals will
                                                                                                try to muzzle watchdogs. Vested interests
recently formed regional investigative         strong. But so will the determination to         may fund pseudo-watchdogs to counter
reporting centers are bringing journalists     quash exposés. If not violence, watchdogs        those who would hold them accountable.
together to work on cross-border projects.     will be subjected to legal bullying. In China,   Some places will have a thriving commu-
An international consortium of investiga-      dozens of reporters and bloggers have al-        nity of muckrakers; others will be bereft.
tive journalists has created reporting teams   ready been jailed for a range of offenses, in-   Some voices will be lost in the wilderness
to probe issues like tobacco smuggling and     cluding libel and exposing state secrets.        of cyberspace. But many watchdogs will
asbestos use.                                                                                   have impact, becoming influential voices
                                               In the geography of threats, cyberspace is       in their communities and around the
Watchdog reporting will also likely take on    the new frontier. Already, the Internet has      world.
new, unorthodox forms. In China, journal-      encouraged libel tourism, the practice of
ists are resorting to microblogs, posting      suing journalists in overseas jurisdictions
sentence fragments, photos or videos on-       where laws are more onerous, on the
line, often through mobile phones, in order    grounds that what’s published locally has a
to break controversial stories and evade       global audience online.
                                               The great battles between secrecy and
In the US, advocacy groups are developing      transparency will be fought on the ‘Net. As
mobile phone apps that enable users to         watchdogs expose individual and institu-
have easy access to data, such as Google-      tional wrongdoing, there could be a back-
mapped government-funded projects or           lash against openness, with governments
hazardous ingredients in everyday prod-        clamping down while invoking the need to
ucts. Various ways of providing informa-       protect privacy, public safety or national
tion will likely emerge, sometimes in unex-    security. There could be some public sup-
pected places, like video games. Innovation    port for a crackdown if muckrakers report
and experimentation will characterize this     irresponsibly, but it would be difficult to
new era.                                       sustain such support once citizens have
                                               tasted the benefits of openness.
But the future also bodes more intense
clashes between watchdogs and wrong-           The emerging terrain is one suited to guer-
doers.                                         rilla warfare. The Internet provides many        Sheila S. Coronel is Toni Stabile Professor of
                                               safe havens. And as the Chinese have             Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism at
Yet muckrakers will likely plod on even in     shown, savvy netizens find ways to outwit        Columbia University’s Journalism School. Previ-
the most inhospitable environments.            government restrictions. With the ubiquity       ously, she was the founding director of the Philip-
Wherever power is abused, the compulsion       of mobile phones, proxy servers and other        pine Center for Investigative Journalism in Manila.
to expose wrongdoing will likely remain        devices, a total clampdown is no longer

                                                                                                                               IPI REPORT        97
Tags: Funded, Independent, Public

Government Support Obliges
Australian Broadcasting
Corporation to Innovate
and Diversify
By Mark Scott

The history of the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation
shows the public broadcaster
                                    T     he ABC has been Australia’s national
                                    public broadcaster for almost 80 years.

                                    Both its creation and its funding reflect the
                                    way in which public policy was shaped in
                                                                                     of both the public and politicians as a pub-
                                                                                     lic good, the ABC’s experience is, therefore,

                                                                                     In 1956, when television belatedly arrived
role can enable innovation.
                                    Australia during the 20th Century. Britain       in Australia, the mixed model was again
                                    and the United States provided two domi-         chosen. ABC Television began broadcasting
                                    nant and different influences. A distinctly      alongside two commercial television serv-
                                    Australian solution was often found by de-       ices whose owners had existing print and
                                    termining what Australia had in common           radio interests.
                                    with these nations and the ways in which it
                                    was unique.                                      Direct funding from the federal govern-
                                                                                     ment, with no need to demonstrate profit,
                                    This led to the development of a vigorous        confers both opportunities and obligations
                                    mixed economic model, where both public          on the ABC.
                                    and commercial services provide a range of
                                    services in health and education, for in-        Unlike commercial broadcasters that are
                                    stance, and broadcasting as well.                obliged to link content costs to advertising
                                                                                     revenue, often to produce returns quickly,
                                    By contrast with the BBC, which for three        the ABC is able to wait longer, for instance,
                                    decades enjoyed what John Reith candidly         for talent and programs to develop and
                                    called “the brute force of monopoly,” Aus-       grow. There is a corresponding expectation
                                    tralians had, from the beginning, a choice       that the ABC, free from this pressure, must
                                    of public and commercial broadcasters.           therefore actively innovate, experiment
                                                                                     and lead the way.
                                    ABC Radio was created by an Act of the
                                    Federal Parliament in 1932. While it was, at     Its funding arrangement also sets it apart
                                    first, funded by licence fees collected by the   from public broadcasters in the UK and
                                    Government, from 1948 on it has been             USA, and grants the ABC certain advan-
                                    funded – along with other public goods –         tages over the BBC in establishing goodwill
                                    directly from the annual federal budget.         with the public. The shift to direct funding
                                    Due to this long identification in the minds     in 1948 freed the ABC from a system in

                                                                                          Left and below: The control room
                                                                                          and studios of ABC News24, Australia’s
                                                                                          24-hour, free-to-air news channel which
                                                                                          was launched this year.

                                                                                          freedom from government than commer-
                                                                                          cial influence – which is understandable
                                                                                          given the United States’ history and the dif-
                                                                                          ferent view of the role for government in
                                                                                          daily life that prevails there.

                                                                                          The accent on independence from govern-
                                                                                          ment has been expressed by limiting the
                                                                                          levels of public funding made available to
                                                                                          public broadcasters, and making them re-
                                                                                          liant on far smaller alternative sources.
                                                                                          Without the income to produce program-
                                                                                          ming capable of completing for mass at-
                                                                                          tention, public broadcasters in the United
                                                                                          States have been unable to acquire critical
                                                                                          mass and exist as a marginalized, rather
                                                                                          than mainstream presence in national life.

                                                                                          Yearly polling indicates that the ABC has
                                                                                          continually proven worthy of public sup-
                                                                                          port, with an average of 9 in 10 Australians
                                                                                          believing it does a good job. The ABC has
                                                                                          retained this relevance in Australian life
                                                                                          (reflected in its continued funding) in a va-
                                                                                          riety of ways.

                                                                                          It has safeguarded its credibility and the
                                                                                          trust placed in it by remaining clearly inde-
                                                                                          pendent of government, and is both more
                                                                                          trusted and more popular than politicians.

                                                                                          As well, by adhering to the ABC Charter
                                                                                          which demands that it broadcast a mix of
                                                                                          specialist content and content of wide
                                                                                          appeal, the ABC has attained critical mass,
                                                                                          playing a part in the life of every Aus-
                                                                                          tralian. This range of content enables it to
which its income was subject to the usual    pete with commercial rivals in almost        appeal to a broad constituency – from tra-
vagaries of consumer sentiment or resent-    every aspect of broadcasting. What the ABC   ditional media consumers to those more
ment that went with the licence fee.         does have in common with the BBC,            interested in innovation, from children
                                             though, is that two areas of independence    through to older Australians, to people in
The BBC remains funded as it always has      – from government and commercial influ-      the countryside and those in the cities.
been, by a licence fee which is now deter-   ence – have become of primary impor-
mined during the 10 year Charter renewal     tance in valuing, validating and distin-     In doing so, the existence of the ABC has
process. As a consequence of the fee –       guishing public broadcasting.                been assimilated into a commonly held ex-
payable by every household with a televi-                                                 pectation about the Australian quality of
sion - the BBC has felt obliged, while not   By contrast, in the United States, public    life, and a distinguishing aspect of the na-
being exposed to the same risks, to com-     broadcasters have put more emphasis on       tional culture.

                                                                                                                         IPI REPORT   99
                                                                                                            Below: The ABC News website
                                                                                                            provided indepth analysis and coverage
                                                                                                            of the Australian federal elections
                                                                                                            in August, 2010 which resulted in a
                                                                                                            hung parliament.

Finally, by focusing on continual innova-        not even measured by the Australian Bu-        provided it with news resources unparal-
tion, the ABC has not just kept up with but      reau of Statistics.                            leled in commercial media.
anticipated public demand for new serv-
ices. Innovation also has strategic impor-       In recent years, the ABC has been swift to     No one employs more journalists. No
tance to every long established public insti-    move into mobile, podcasting and vodcast-      other media organisation in Australia has
tution, in that any perception that the or-      ing, digital television, radio and social      a more broadly based infrastructure of
ganisation is part of the past rather than the   media for the same reasons it moved            newsrooms at local, national and interna-
future must inevitably lead to declining         swiftly with radio, television and online,     tional levels.
public support and therefore, funding.           when they were once “new” media. These
                                                 are new ways of making content and serv-       And by combining some significant
As a public broadcaster, the ABC has con-        ices available that the public would come      reforms in work practices with new tech-
tinued to position itself not just where the     to expect of the public broadcaster.           nologies, the Corporation has been able
public is now, but where the public is head-                                                    to resource a new digital TV news chan-
ing. And this future proofing has become         A burst of fresh innovation has been made      nel with no additional government
part of the institutional DNA.                   possible in the digital age. Again, the        revenue.
                                                 opportunities that have arisen also often
When the ABC started in radio, just six per-     carry with them obligations.                   Given the opportunity now available, it is
cent of Australians had licences. When tel-                                                     quite clear that it is the ABC’s responsibility
evision began, just two percent of Aus-          News and current affairs is a prime exam-      - as the national public broadcaster - to
tralians had TVs. When the ABC estab-            ple. There has been a substantial, long term   provide such a service. News and informa-
lished itself ABC Online, Internet use was       public investment in the ABC, which has        tion are essential to a more meaningful

100      IPI REPORT
                                                                              An average of nine
                                                                              in 10 Australians
                                                                              believe the ABC
democratic life, and should therefore be        It is one of many similar
available for all.                              challenges faced by pub-
                                                                              does a good job.               Meanwhile, the ABC’s experi-
                                                lic broadcasters around       It is more trusted             ence – its continuing rele-
While there is an existing news channel, a      the world. Responses to                                      vance in the lives of all Aus-
pay television service SkyNews, it is re-       those challenges, though,
                                                                              and more popular               tralians, the diversity of its
stricted to the three out of 10 Australian      must be localised rather      than politicians.              programming, its liberty from
households that can afford it. ABC News24       than universal, affected as                                  pressures faced by commer-
is available everywhere, and free.              they are by different historical prece-         cial broadcasters, the BBC and public
                                                dents, degrees and methods of funding           broadcasters in the USA – has been made
As well, two distinct, related trends within    and varied political and economic cli-          possible by its unique method of public
Australian media in recent years underline      mates in which public broadcasters now          funding.
how essential public broadcasting is in in-     operate.
forming the democratic process with freely                                                      It continues to prove not just the necessity
and universally available news and current      What is clear however, is that in every         of public broadcasting in the digital age,
affairs programming.                            media market, audiences have never had a        but its vitality and viability.
                                                wider choice of content, nor has the com-
In commercial media, current affairs pro-       petition for attention faced by both public
gramming – through which those in power         and commercial broadcasters been more
are held accountable – has been unable to       intense. The competition is not simply lim-
compete with less expensive and more            ited to choices of media consumption, but
popular programming. The gap between            increasingly to choices about use of time,
the cost of the programming and audiences       alternative activities and spaces such as so-
sizes has meant advertising revenue make        cial networking.
it neither profitable nor sustainable.
                                                This disruptive effect, where fragmenta-
This has led to the decline, if not disap-      tion of audiences leads to reduced adver-
pearance, of authentic current affairs pro-     tising revenue is making it increasingly
grams from the free-to-air television serv-     difficult for the market alone to satisfy all
ices. This trend has been accelerated by        needs. The provision of particular kinds of
the disappearance of the “media mogul”          content which constitute a public good –
model of ownership in Australia – owners        such as news, and expressions of indige-
who were prepared to wear the losses such       nous, local and national cultures – will be
programming incurred to win political in-       difficult to sustain.
                                                In such a market, the expectation that
As a result, this responsibility has devolved   public broadcasters should provide these
exclusively to publicly funded broadcast-       genres will increase. Without the immedi-       Mark Scott is Managing Director of the Australian
ers. The ABC redresses this imbalance in        ate pressure to maximise audiences, there       Broadcasting Corporation. Under his leadership,
the free-to-air television market.              will also be an expectation that public         the ABC has dramatically expanded its services and
                                                broadcasters will take greater creative         its reach and now operates on an annual budget of
The debate about the future of quality          risks and introduce young, innovative,          over AU$1 billion ($910.3 million).
journalism and how to fund it continues.        fresh talent to audiences.

                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT       101
Tags: Experimented, Independent, Supported

Nonprofit Ownership is
No Panacea; New Models
Needed for New Times
By Karen B. Dunlap

The St. Petersburg Times                         elson Poynter’s most quoted         The St. Petersburg Times was his father’s
                                     maxim said ownership of a publication or        newspaper when Poynter began working
exemplifies independent
                                     broadcast property is “a sacred trust and a     there. The younger Poynter bought the
ownership by a nonprofit             great privilege.” But in the 1960s, Poynter’s   newspaper in 1947 and guided it to eco-
                                     thoughts moved from ownership to succes-        nomic and editorial strength. A change in
school. Buffered from some
                                     sion. He wondered how to keep his news-         the law in 1969 said a church, hospital or
challenges but exposed to            paper independent and locally owned long        school could own a newspaper. Poynter
                                     after he was gone. Poynter rejected the         gave the Times to a school that he created
others, the Florida-based
                                     models for media ownership of his time,         and called it the Modern Media Institute.
organization offers lessons in       including publicly owned companies and          Trustees re-named the school in his honor
                                     chain ownership, and he had doubts about        after his death.
business ownership models.
                                     long-term family ownership.
                                                                                     Events in 2009 confirm the wisdom of
                                     His lawyers explored various options and        Poynter’s great experiment. During an eco-
                                     after years of searching he made a choice:      nomic downturn and while some media
                                     He gave away his newspaper.                     companies collapsed, the St. Petersburg

                                                                                                Far left: Tom Huang, visiting Poynter
                                                                                                Fellow in ethics and writing.

                                                                                                Left: Nelson Poynter, Former Editor of
                                                                                                the St. Petersburg Times and Founder
                                                                                                of the Poynter Institute.

                                                                                                in his will when he died in 1938. The news-
                                                                                                paper’s history says this plan influenced
                                                                                                Nelson Poynter.

                                                                                                The Guardian maintains one of the most
                                                                                                respected legacies in The Scott Trust cre-
                                                                                                ated in 1936 by John Scott. Following the
                                                                                                death of his father and brother between
                                                                                                1932 and 1936, John Scott found himself
                                                                                                the sole owner of the Guardian. He de-
                                                                                                vised a plan that required him to give the
                                                                                                newspaper away to a trust that would “se-
 The nonprofit model of-                        Other experiments and models: Others            cure the financial and editorial independ-
                                                have created ownership models with some         ence of the Guardian in perpetuity.”
 fers much to recommend                         of the same protections Poynter’s provides.
 as a form of media owner-                                                                      Foundation support: A slew of recent
                                                Schools: The Nackey S. Loeb School in New       startup news operations in the US rely on
 ship, but the structures                       Hampshire is most like the Poynter model.       grants from foundations. ProPublica leads
 also present challenges.                       In 1999, Mrs. Loeb founded the nonprofit        the group. Launched in 2008, it is largely
                                                communications school that now bears her        funded by a three-year, $30 million grant
Times observed its 125th anniversary and        name. She was the granddaughter of pub-         from the Sandler Foundation. Established
won two Pulitzer prizes: one for traditional,   lisher E.W. Scripps and the widow of            news operations, including the CBS net-
long-form feature writing, the other for an     William Loeb, president and publisher of        work’s “60 Minutes,” carry its investigative
innovative online truth-gauge of political      the (Manchester) Union Leader and New           stories, and in April 2010 the organization
statements. Paul Tash, CEO and chairman,        Hampshire Sunday News. After her death          won a Pulitzer Prize for a piece of theirs
has said the ownership promotes the news-       in 2000 her two daughters donated her           published in the New York Times Maga-
paper’s commitment to journalistic excel-       controlling stock to the school.                zine. The Knight Foundation and others
lence.                                                                                          also fund new news channels but few see
                                                Trusts: Owners of several newspapers de-        foundation support as a long-term finan-
In 2010, the Poynter Institute observes its     vised forms of trusts for sustainability. The   cial solution. Most startups seek contribu-
35th year. The Institute offers seminars and    Toronto Star’s publisher, Joseph E. Atkin-      tions but gain far less than the amount
conferences for professional journalists        son, willed his newspaper to a charitable       needed for a solid operation. Grants and
and media leaders, journalism teachers          foundation he’d established in 1942 to be       contributions also raise questions about
and students and also other citizens inter-     run by trustees familiar with his policies      the influence of major funders.
ested in news. It is a nonprofit owner of a     and beliefs. Canadian law interfered with
for-profit news organization. Dividends         his plan and after conflict and compromise      Government intervention: Some look to a
from the Times Publishing Company pro-          “his trustees were given court permission       change in US tax laws to allow newspapers
vide the majority of support for the school,    to buy the paper in 1958, after promising to    to become nonprofits based on their edu-
along with tuition, grants and contribu-        uphold its longstanding traditions,” accord-    cational value. Senator Benjamin Cardin of
tions. The school and the newspaper oper-       ing to the newspaper’s statement of history.    Maryland introduced legislation in 2009,
ate separately but with important connec-       The Day newspaper of New London, Con-           but it has not moved forward. Questions
tions. The CEO of Times Publishing Com-         necticut operates with a split-trust that       include whether such a change would re-
pany is also chair of the board of the Poyn-    sends most of the dividends back to the         quire newspapers to eliminate editorial
ter Institute. Nelson Poynter believed in       news operation and a portion to a commu-        pages and whether it would open a door for
vesting leadership in one individual who        nity foundation. Publisher Theodore Bo-         the government to interfere with news
then selects his or her successor.              denwein created The Day Trust, which was        media independence.

                                                                                                                                IPI REPORT   103
Below: Front page
of the St. Petersburg Times,
30 May 1975.

Reasons to think twice about the non-          Maintaining the system that he created         Government might provide some tenta-
profit route: The nonprofit model offers       calls for extraordinary levels of mutual       tive relief, but concern about political
much to recommend as a form of media           trust. The leaders of each organization        pressure will prevent significant support.
ownership, but the structures also present     must believe they are served by their own      There will remain, then, a role for for-
challenges. Here are the some of the major     success and the success of the other. The      profit models, even though they are taking
ones.                                          school relies on the news organization for     a beating now as audiences and technolo-
                                               dividends and the newspaper benefits           gies change. The rebirth of a profit model
You may have to give away your publica-        from the ownership structure.                  offers the possibility of a strong, steady in-
tion. Tash and his predecessors have been                                                     come stream.To the degree that commer-
regularly approached by news executives        Legal ground must be tread carefully. In       cial models more readily draw broad audi-
lusting after Poynter’s model until they are   some cases precise wording in a will deter-    ences, this could help keep the masses
told they would have to transfer ownership     mined whether an ownership agreement           turning to news media.
of their newspapers to a school. Even own-     was upheld. Changes in law undermined
ers who are willing to take that step face     other efforts. The Poynter model calls for     And that leads back to Nelson Poynter’s
heirs (or stockholders) who might have         clear regard to the law, including living up   model, one that combines the mission
other ideas.                                   to the precise legal requirements involved     focus of a nonprofit and the marketplace
                                               in maintaining both a school and nonprofit     focus of a for-profit. Future owners would
The model still requires revenue. This is      status.                                        do well in drawing on the best of business
the most important point in light of current                                                  models and, like Mr. Poynter, create new
financial challenges. The nonprofit owner      Nonprofit ownership is an important form       models that fit the times.
removes the burden of market pressure,         for news media ownership, but it is not a
but the for-profit news operation still re-    panacea. Generally the model seems to in-
quires significant revenue to report and de-   spire a keener sense of journalistic mission
liver the news and provide dividends to the    and a pride of history. It allows for less
owner. The core problem of a business          focus on quarterly returns and market ebb
model for news remains.                        and flow. But owners still face tough chal-
                                               lenges in generating revenue and finding
It calls for trust. Nelson Poynter called      new financial methods.
ownership of news media “a sacred trust.”
                                               Future ownership models for news: We
                                               will see more nonprofit models in the near
                                               future. A few grants can jump-start a busi-
                                               ness. The reduction of news staffs in the US
                                               means a lot of journalists are looking for a
                                               space to practice their craft, and many will
                                               choose the nonprofit route. Owners will
                                               continue to turn to donors and founda-
                                               tions, as philanthropy remains strong.

                                               Change will come in new forms of news
                                               services that we can’t imagine now. Citi-
                                               zens will want to know what’s happening
                                               around them and what’s going on around         Karen B. Dunlap is the president of the Poynter
                                               the world. More and more citizens will as-     Institute. Portions of this piece first appeared in “A
                                               sist in reporting, and along the way they      Study of Nonprofit Ownership of News Media” by
                                               will focus on ownership and be willing to      Karen Brown Dunlap; “News in the Public Interest:
                                               provide direct support. That will help         A Free and Subsidized Press,” The Breaux Sympo-
                                               some nonprofits find paths to sustainabil-     sium of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge,
                                               ity, but many others will run out of funds     20 March 2004.
                                               and stop operating.

104       IPI REPORT
                                                                                                   Take-aways from Chapter Two:

Time to ‘Skill Up’ on
10 Promising Paths
By Bill Mitchell

If your newsroom is anything like places I’ve worked, your col-
leagues will be bracing themselves for an onslaught of new work
once they spot you reading this report, circling and underlining
ideas you believe require their immediate attention.
                                                                       • Citizen journalism: Sure, journalists have a lot to teach readers
                                                                       who want to commit acts of journalism. But Solana Larsen re-
                                                                       counts how bloggers in Madagasgar taught local reporters a thing
                                                                       or two about getting the news out fast in a crisis.

                                                                       • Innovation: Addressing the potential for the tablet platform,
                                                                       Mario Garcia reports: “I have not seen this level of excitement, op-
                                                                       timism and zest for innovation since the arrival of color presses in
Here’s one that I hope makes your list:                                the late 1970s.”

“The industry will have to skill up,” argues Paul Bradshaw, who        • Multimedia: Understanding what users actually appreciate and
produces the Online Journalism Blog, “or it will have nothing left     spend time with is critical to a successful multimedia strategy.
to sell.”                                                              Steve Herrmann reports that “short video news clips online work
                                                                       if they show something visually compelling,” as do live streams of
Bradshaw is referring to the need for newsrooms to increase their      major news events.
competence in handling the torrent of raw data now available
about the ways governments spend our money, the ways our               • Niches: “It’s pointless – and economically insane – to provide
economies soar and dive, the ways we live and die.                     news that readers can get 1,000 different places,” argues Bill
                                                                       Nichols. So pick your shots.
In a world where data once was scarce but now is abundant, jour-
nalists need to get good at what’s scarce: “the skills to locate and   • Personal journalism: First-person writing, suggests Lou Ureneck,
make sense of (the data) – the programming skills to scrape it and     can “close the gap between writers and readers …(by) declaring
compare it with other sources, the design flair to visualize it, the   that a piece of reporting is something put together by a real person
statistical understanding to unpack it.”                               with eyes, a mind, emotions and principles.”

But his point about “skilling up” applies equally well to the areas    • Investigative reporting: Digital tools “have democratized muck-
that, combined with data journalism, make up the list of 10 prom-      raking in ways previously unimagined,” writes Sheila S. Coronel.
ising paths I’ve drawn from chapter two:
                                                                       • Ownership: The best funding models for journalism probably
• Crowdsourcing: Poland’s biggest newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza,          don’t exist yet, maintains Karen Dunlap, who says it’s time to “cre-
has its roots in the popular Solidarity uprising that helped topple    ate new models that fit the times.”
Communism. The paper’s Grzegorz Piechota describes how the
paper’s readers are fueling some of its most effective coverage of     Which of these require the immediate attention of your news-
the democratic, but imperfect civic society of current-day Poland.     room?

• Social media: Tweets from non-journalists often put speed ahead      Chapter Three offers a glimpse at what’s happening on these fronts
of accuracy, notes Endy M Bayuni, reflecting values quite different    in several newsrooms around the world.
from those of a professional. The trick, he argues, is recognizing
that each group “has its place in keeping the public informed.”

                                                                                                                        IPI REPORT      105
Tags: Developing, Literacy, Mobile

Media Face Different
Difficulties in Less Mature
By Fernando Samaniego

In developing countries, media                    edia companies across the            Legal limbo. In some countries, lack of a
                                     globe are encountering the same funda-            clear framework for the work of editors
may be freer to adapt during a
                                     mental issue; that is, how to map out their       means uncertainty for journalists who are
time of rapid change, but they       futures to adapt to the social and business       thus recommended to be cautious and
                                     transformations which have shaken the in-         align closely with the established powers.
also face unique challenges in
                                     dustry.                                           This lack of regulatory environment also
their country’s infrastructures,                                                       discourages the creation of solid media or-
                                     Developing markets pose specific prob-            ganizations since investment is insecure
economies and capacities.
                                     lems, in some cases derived from their lack       and only recommended for those close to
                                     of resources, notwithstanding the fact that       government.
                                     in many of them circulation and advertis-
                                     ing revenues are growing fast.                    Language barriers. The main language
                                                                                       barrier for media development in some
                                     The importance of tackling media short-           emerging markets is illiteracy, where it can
                                     comings in developing markets is para-            reach 50 percent (there are some 60 coun-
                                     mount if we wish to see them create well-         tries beyond 20 percent). The situation is
                                     formed and informed citizens, the premise         improving fast but the obstacle remains.
                                     of a healthy democracy. Media companies           Another language barrier has to do, para-
                                     have a role to play in providing the basis for    doxically, with the linguistic richness of
                                     good governance via adequate control of           some regions. UNESCO believes that there
                                     public life and informed debate of crucial        may be 2,000 languages used in Africa
                                     decisions, to mitigate the distorting effect of   (Arabic being the largest, with just 17 per-
                                     powerful self-interest groups which may           cent of speakers) and several hundred in
                                     collide with the common good.                     India; there are 250 in Nigeria alone.

                                     Most difficulties can be traced back to their     In places where languages are very frag-
                                     environment or to internal factors.               mented it can represent a barrier to growth.
                                                                                       On the other hand, the diversity of lan-
                                     Environmental difficulties                        guages is leading to the creation of new
                                     External censorship and internal “pre-            newspaper editions in places like India.
                                     caution.” Even in Western Europe we wit-          Moreover, language barriers may protect a
                                     ness instances of powerful individuals ex-        local media industry from international
                                     erting pressure on media. Recently, Italy         competitors, or at least buy time for it to de-
                                     passed a law that severely restricts police       velop. After all, wouldn’t the Canadian
                                     wiretapping and would fine or jail journal-       media industry be stronger if it did not have
                                     ists for publication of wiretap transcripts. If   to compete with its neighbor for the atten-
                                     this can happen in Europe, we can only            tion of the local market? Would Korea’s
                                     imagine the pressure suffered by media            local Internet industry be so strong if the
                                     wishing to avoid threats to ownership.            country were an English speaking territory?

                                                                                                                Page 108: Students in Uruguay
                                                                                                                learn how to use ‘hundred-dollar’
                                                                                                                laptop computers given to them by
                                                                                                                the One Laptop Per Child Project.

Limited mobile usage (but real creativity).      from the world, but in developing markets        Mimetic operations of established world
The poorest markets have a long way to go        there are owners who vaguely understand          players. Once I visited a client who had ac-
in deploying basic tools such as premium         the challenges of the media they own or          quired a sophisticated piece of software to
SMS, which is not widely available in            consider them secondary to their main ob-        replicate Norweigan media company
Africa and often limited to promotions by        jective, be it to convey a certain public        Schibsted’s experience regarding the intro-
the telecoms (e.g, Etisalat in Nigeria may       image (if already in office), or to access       duction of information sent by the users
ask customers to guess the winner of a           power, or to gain leverage when talking to       into the workflow of the newsroom. The
Champions League match, in exchange for          government officials. Losing audience in         problem was that the mimetic company
a prize), but it’s also true that in other de-   the process is just collateral damage.           was far from being able to include that so-
veloping markets things have been differ-                                                         phisticated piece of software into its own
ent, despite limitations. Take the Philip-       Lack of experienced professionals.               primitive CMS. It was as useless as a Fer-
pines, where phone service is overwhelm-         Whether in Eastern Europe, Africa, or some       rari’s steering wheel in an oxen cart. The
ingly prepaid and average revenue per user       countries in South America and Asia, at-         project had to be scrapped at a cost to the
(ARPUs) is low. That has not stopped inno-       tracting and retaining seasoned profession-      editor.
vation there, such as the transfer of credit     als remains an issue. In some cases, dis-
between customers and subscription for           bursing international level salaries is a        Expensive and inflexible technical solu-
content access by the hour or less, a flexi-     problem. In others, the cultural issues          tions. I have seen companies try solutions
bility unheard of in more mature markets.        make it hard for good professionals to re-       which, apart from being too expensive,
                                                 ally affect the transformation of the media.     ended up creating new problems. I am re-
Mobiles have managed to partially com-           Language is another difficulty, even though      ferring to software solutions based in West-
pensate for the lack of infrastructure to        English is becoming the common tongue.           ern environments and depending on West-
solve basic issues having to do with health      While some jobs can be performed using a         ern experts offering technical assistance
care, farming or education. For example,         basic set of words, in other cases, marketing    during inconvenient hours or days of the
Vodafone’s M-pesa money transfer service         for instance, subtleties make a difference.      week (e.g. Saudi Arabia works on Satur-
in Kenya enables migrant workers to send                                                          days and Sundays). There is nothing wrong
cash home. While Japan was experiencing          Lack of talent. Some countries have been         with being captivated by good products,
its successful iMode in the very early years     better than others at developing their own       but the solution has to be inexpensive,
of the century, many Chinese portals were        skilled workforce. The case of China stands      manageable locally and flexible.
facing financial ruin until the establish-       out since its ability to train vast amounts of
ment of a similar revenue-sharing platform       people, in foreign or local universities and     Limited reach. Because of the limited ac-
for content providers, Monternet, allowed        institutions, is unique and explains many        cess of many media beyond the principal
them to survive and prosper.                     of the developments taking place there.          metropolitan areas, well-meant efforts do
                                                                                                  not reach rural zones. Apart from depriving
“Among the three top revenue generators          Emerging countries which possess ex-             large segments of the population from that
in 2004, the first was mobile value-added        traordinary economic resources and have          input, the media just focus on the issues
services, reaching as high as $763 million,”     not been able to train their workforce so        and problems of the large cities and ignore
according to In China, there is      fast have attracted expats. In fact, they find   the important contribution of the rural
a before and after Monternet and its mobile      themselves with many foreigners and few          economy to the development of the coun-
value-added services since it helped trans-      locals at the top jobs. In some cases, the       try.
form the local Internet and shape new in-        understandable desire to push local citi-
dustries. And all of that happened in a so-      zens to control the main                                        Chicken and egg problem.
called developing market. On the other           areas of the business has        Traditional media              Because of the limited geo-
hand, it’s also true that older, developed       been too abrupt and impor-                                      graphical reach of media in
markets have taken the definitive lead in        tant knowledge has been
                                                                                  are in an enviable             developing markets and
fundamental mobile innovation since the          lost. Making these transi-       position in devel-             because of its limited abil-
launch of the iPhone.                            tions gradually, as we have                                     ity to reach larger audi-
                                                 seen across corporations
                                                                                  oping markets,                 ences in favor of the high-
Internal Difficulties                            present in less developed        where reading                  end individuals, some con-
Owners with a different agenda. No               markets, has proven the                                         sumer industries cannot
newspaper or mass media lives isolated           best way to go.
                                                                                  newspapers is                  properly reach their target
                                                                                  seen as a symbol
                                                                                  of status.                                IPI REPORT        107
groups, which limits the amount of               Conclusion                                       English or French mainly because their
money going into media investment and            In many respects, traditional media are in       needs are not met by localized content. In
development and in return also limits the        an enviable position in developing mar-          countries where the press has not been
ability of media to move “down” to a             kets. Reading newspapers is seen as a sym-       renovated or is not free enough, the Inter-
broader audience.                                bol of status and their distribution and ad      net represents an even greater concern.
                                                 figures are growing steadily thanks to im-
Poor quality of journalism. Take the In-         proved financial situations and higher lit-
dian case where newspapers are sold for a        eracy rates. In contrast, the unstable politi-
couple of rupees but cost several times that,    cal situation of some markets entails diffi-
and one understands the tremendous pres-         culties which translate into scarcity and
sure to attract ad revenues. Not infre-          failure of investments. In other cases,
quently, papers mix editorial content with       though, the existing problems are typical of
advertising, which eases short term finan-       the earlier stages in the maturity of a prod-
cial situations but builds hurdles for the fu-   uct and media companies would do well to
ture. One should not assume that the abun-       solve them and move on to the next stage
dance of new titles is improving the situa-      before it’s too late.
tion since very often they do not contribute
to the flourishing of journalism.                Top media managers often say, “We have
                                                 time to react; our traditional media will last
Overlooking growth possibilities. In             for years because things in this country
some markets, newspapers are a recent            move much slower.” I always tell them that
phenomenon and other products have               they are dead wrong because their readers
been quicker at capturing classifieds, for       have discovered the Internet, and despite
instance. Some dailies reacted by acquiring      existing limitations of broadband, they are
these players. Others have tried launching       surfing pretty much like many Westerners
their own franchises, but all too frequently     and will bypass traditional media if they
newspapers are not exploiting the domi-          are not offered quality content.
nant position traditional media have in de-
veloping markets to build bridges to their       In fact, in some countries, users are bypass-    Fernando Samaniego is the founder of Interna-
future online. And it’s a shame because          ing the lack of local content by surfing in      tional New Media Consulting and a specialist in
some dailies already have an established         other languages, which often they barely         multimedia strategy in the Middle East and Spain.
network of stores and outlets where they         speak. According to the latest Arab Media        He is based in Dubai, UAE.
capture ads.                                     Outlook, 38 percent of Arab users surf in

108      IPI REPORT
                                                                       Tags: Collaborated, Coordinated, Independent

Old-School Storytelling
Using New-School Tools
By Steve Buttry

As journalism evolves, news
organizations like the
Washington, DC-based TBD
                                  W              hen I started my journalism
                                  career in the 1970s, I learned quickly how
                                  to cover a breaking news story: You hustled
                                  to the scene to find eyewitnesses to inter-
                                  view. You knocked on doors and asked
                                                                                 books and cameras. We are an organization
                                                                                 geared to collecting stories as people share
                                                                                 them in the digital age.

                                                                                 Our name comes from the acronym for “to
represent the idea that the
                                  neighbors who saw the incident. You            be determined.” It reflects the nature of dig-
future of digital news is         checked police reports and interviewed         ital news: Just as the story is continually
                                  any witnesses listed there.                    unfolding, our model is continually un-
to be determined in wider
                                                                                 folding and updating. We launched in Au-
collaboration than ever before.   That was an essential task of journalism:      gust, but already had plans under way for
                                  collecting people’s stories.                   new projects and features in September
                                                                                 and October. We chose our name and have
                                  At TBD, a news organization launched           geared our culture to reflect the under-
                                  9 August 2010, we still send journalists to    standing that success in digital media de-
                                  the scene of a breaking news story. When       mands continual improvement and deter-
                                  severe weather hit the morning of our          mination.
                                  fourth day online, our reporters raced to
                                  the neighborhoods with the worst flooding      From the time plans for TBD (then un-
                                  and wind damage.                               named) were announced in October 2009,
                                                                                 our project has drawn curiosity, praise and
                                  At the same time, our community engage-        skepticism throughout the news business.
                                  ment staff started collecting stories people   Our founding brought together some big
                                  were already telling with words and pic-       names in journalism: Our owner is Allbrit-
                                  tures. We posted links to neighborhood         ton Communications, which already
                                  blogs with stories, photographs and videos     stirred up the field of political journalism
                                  of flooding and storm damage. We aggre-        with the 2007 launch of POLITICO; TBD’s
                                  gated tweets in the Washington area with       general manager is Jim Brady, former exec-
                                  keywords such as “flood,” “storm” or           utive editor of and
                                  “power outage.” We developed a slide           slated to become president this fall of the
                                  show of photographs people had posted.         Online News Association. As we launched
                                  We asked a member of our blogger net-          our site, media analysts have speculated
                                  work to appear by Skype on our cable           that Allbritton was developing another
                                  newscast as a storm blew through his           “game changer.”
                                                                                 While it’s too early to say whether and how
                                  TBD still gathers people’s stories. But we     we will change the game of local news, we
                                  use more collection tools than just note-      are happy to share our game plan.

                                                                                                           IPI REPORT      109
                                                                                               Left: TBD staff await
                                                                                               the DNS change as
                                                                                               the site goes live.

                                                                                               smaller (and slower) version of your web-
                                                                                               site. TBD launched with an Android app al-
                                                                                               ready available (and getting strong re-
                                                                                               views) and an iPhone app submitted to
                                                                                               Apple, awaiting approval for the App Store.
                                                                                               Both apps are designed for mobile useful-
                                                                                               ness. They provide weather, traffic and
                                                                                               Metro rail information for users on the go.
                                                                                               They also provide our news feed, cus-
                                                                                               tomized by ZIP code, and a simple tool for
                                                                                               submission of text or visual content.

                                                                                               In recognition of the fact that people’s use
                                                                                               of news content shifts among home and of-
                                                                                               fice computers and mobile devices, TBD
                                                                                               apps allow easy porting of saved stories
                                                                                               from one platform to another. If you see a
                                                                                               story that’s too long to tackle at work, you
Web operation must be strong, not de-            “Do what you do best and link to the          save it to read on the subway.
pendent. Most Web news operations affil-         rest,” as Jeff Jarvis says. The BuzzMachine
iated with traditional media become a dig-       blogger and author of “What Would             People in Washington spend lots of time in
ital version of the legacy medium. Even in       Google Do?” was almost giddy over the         cars, trains, buses and airports or in confer-
organizations that recognize the need to         TBD launch because we are linking aggres-     ence rooms waiting for a meeting to start
cover breaking news quickly online and to        sively, even to the competition. The Wash-    (or to get interesting). TBD’s mobile experi-
use digital tools such as databases and mul-     ington area has lots of local news sources:   ence is designed to be useful and engaging
timedia, the newspaper or TV station gets        the mighty Washington Post, several TV        for this audience. Slate’s Jack Shafer
the bulk of the staff and drives coverage        and radio stations, dozens of community       praised the “tabloidy goodness” of TBD.
and content. For many TV stations, the           newspapers and hundreds of blogs. By ag-
website is largely a promotional vehicle.        gregating content from those sources, we      Customize content. Everyone gets the
                                                 become a place where you can find all the     same top stories, those of interest and im-
TBD is affiliated with the two Allbritton sta-   day’s local news in one place, whoever        portance throughout the metro area. But
tions in Washington: ABC7 and the former         produced it.                                  TBD’s community news varies by the con-
NewsChannel 8, a cable news station. The                                                       sumer, tailored to their neighborhood. We
importance of the digital operation is re-       This approach lets TBD minimize repetitive    ask users for their postal codes, so we can
flected in the naming: Rather than taking        coverage and provide our own unique cov-      give them the news and information that is
the name of one of the stations (their old       erage. We don’t have a beat reporter cover-   most relevant to them. A user can save up
sites both went away), our website               ing City Hall. But we have a reporter work-   to five ZIP codes, so he can easily flip back
launched with a new name and NewsChan-           ing full-time to fact-check statements of     and forth, checking the news where he
nel 8 was rebranded as TBD TV.                   local public figures. So we can link to the   lives, works, plays and shops. Weather in-
                                                 beat coverage of other news outlets and       formation is zoned, and we enable users to
We’re neither dependent nor independent.         provide exclusive local fact-                                 tailor commuter informa-
We’re not a TV station’s website. We’re a        checking. We don’t dupli-       Our name                      tion to their particular
Web operation and two TV stations work-          cate others’ coverage of the                                  route.
ing closely together. We get the stations’       Metro rail system; we link to
                                                                                 comes from the
video content for the Web, but we’re not         their coverage and have the     acronym for “to                 Engage the community.
just a dumping ground for TV stories. We         area’s only blogger focusing                                    The technology of print and
have a strong, web-focused news staff to         on pedestrian issues.
                                                                                 be determined.” It              broadcast enabled one-to-
develop original content that starts online                                      reflects the nature             many communication that
but is available to TV as well. Each platform    Focus on mobile. Your mo-                                       fostered the traditional
makes the other stronger.                        bile presence can’t just be a
                                                                                 of digital news, a              forms of gathering and
                                                                                 story continually
110      IPI REPORT                                                              unfolding.
                    Right: TBD morning news
                    anchor, Katherine Amenta
                    during a newscast.

                    Bottom: A successful
                    launch is best celebrated
                    with a champagne toast.

spreading news. But digital publishing and
mobile devices enable people to tell stories
themselves. News organizations have spent
too much time and energy focusing on
what they perceived as weaknesses in these
new publishers: They don’t follow journal-
istic notions of objectivity; they sometimes
get their facts wrong; they permit typos
and encourage odd acronyms and deliber-
ate misspellings; they have funny names
like Blogger and Twitter.

What these arguments forget or ignore is        Foursquare, YouTube and Flickr, inviting        nalism I learned in the 1970s: TBD re-
the value these stories have, value we have     and collecting stories and visual content in    porters scrambled to the scene to interview
long recognized by sending out reporters to     the social media.                               officials and people at the wedding recep-
collect the stories of many of these same                                                       tion that evacuated but partied on.
people. TBD collects those stories more ef-     The Saturday after launch, nearly the
ficiently in a variety of ways: We have re-     whole TBD staff was taking it easy, relaxing    But our breaking-news scramble was also
cruited a network of more than 140 local        after a couple of intense weeks. After I re-    new-school: collecting the tweets, blogs
blogs, covering individual neighborhoods        turned from a dinner with my wife, I            and photos of people who were already
and topics such as sports, dining and trans-    opened Twitter and quickly saw that an un-      telling the story.
portation; we host live chats and invite        derground transformer fire had forced
submissions of photos and videos; we ask        evacuation of two downtown Washington
people to help us fill the holes in our sto-    hotels. In a lot of ways, our scramble to
ries; we engage on Twitter, Facebook,           cover the fire felt like the old-school jour-

                                                                                                Steve Buttry is Director of Community Engage-
                                                                                                ment for TBD, an online news operation that
                                                                                                launched in August 2010, covering community
                                                                                                news in the Washington, DC, metro area. He has
                                                                                                been an editor, reporter, writing coach, blogger and
                                                                                                innovation coach for seven community and metro
                                                                                                newspapers, most recently Editor of The Gazette in
                                                                                                Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT         111
Tags: Censored, Controlled, Expanded

Competition Over News
Intensifies in China, as
Internet Offers Alternative
By Yuen-Ying Chan

Media in China is growing,
thanks to a healthy economy,
technological opportunities and
                                       U          nlike the doom and gloom of
                                       Western media, Chinese media are growing
                                       and expanding, driven by state investment,
                                       technological change, and a robust econ-
                                       omy. While economists and political scien-
                                                                                       government rules and regulations that re-
                                                                                       strict their ability to do their work profes-

                                                                                       Wang Keqin, China’s foremost investigative
state investment, while some are
                                       tists debate the viability of a “Chinese        reporter, said China’s media have become
using the Internet to circumvent       model” of development, the Chinese media        much more open than they were 10 years
                                       industry is forging ahead with a unique         ago, but state control has also become
or resist censorship and govern-
                                       mix of conflicting characteristics: Intensi-    stronger and more sophisticated. He is op-
ment control.                          fying authoritarian state control, leap-frog    timistic about the future of journalism in
                                       adoption of digital technology; and fierce      China in the long term, but feels pes-
                                       competition among the major players, in-        simistic about the current state of affairs for
                                       cluding central state media, provincial         reporters. “It’s not too bad and not too
                                       media groups, and Internet companies            good,” he said.
                                       listed inside China and overseas.
                                                                                       His pessimism is shared by Peter Herford,
                                       Caught in the intricate media landscape,        journalism professor at Shantou University
                                       Chinese journalists, managers, producers        in southeast China and formerly of CBS’s
                                       and frontline reporters are working under       “60 Minutes.” “Until the government shows
                                       intense pressure to perform. Yet they enjoy     signs of divorcing media from its use as [a]
                                       little institutional support or clear career    tool of state control, it is hard to be opti-
                                       paths. Even CEOs at state-directed market       mistic. Every Chinese reporter knows that
                                       enterprises serve at the pleasure of the Chi-   his or her first obligation is to support the
                                       nese Communist Party.                           Communist Party and help build China,”
                                                                                       he said. “These limits cripple the ability of
                                       In the newsrooms, editors are torn between      reporters to give citizens the independent
                                       conflicting demands from two masters, the       information needed to grow an effective
                                       party censors and news consumers who in-        civil society.”
                                       creasingly thirst for the truth. Most re-
                                       porters are paid at piece rates according to    The commercial “news” contenders
                                       the number of articles or characters they       All news media in China are state owned,
                                       produce, on top of a modest stipend. Re-        but commercial Internet companies have
                                       porters must also navigate the thicket of       emerged as an alternative source of news.

Under the government policy of “the party        ring-tone downloads, some newsrooms at         largest online community in the world. A
must govern the news” the portals created        the Internet companies hire as many as 400     whooping 80 percent of Internet users ac-
by the Internet companies are barred from        producers, aggregators and writers to de-      cess the Internet via broadband, according to
reporting current events and breaking            sign and deliver “information” packages.       a report from the state’s China Internet Net-
news. To circumvent the ban, the portals                                                        work Information Center (see table below).
aggregate news stories from multiple local       During the World Cup, Sina produced a live
newspapers that are licensed to report.          talk show about the games, which was re-       Internet use in China     June 2010
They also produce “news” with creative for-      broadcast by about 40 local TV stations and
mats such as round table discussions, on-        five outside media players, covering about     Number of Internet        420 million
camera interviews and debates. Each of the       248 million TV viewers. Another 44 million     users
major portals hosts blogs and micro-blogs,       watched the program online, bringing in
and offer multiple sites on entertainment,       CNY20 million ($6.7 million) of advertizing    % of population using     31.8%
sports and education issues.                     revenue for Sina, according to a report by     the Internet
                                                 Morgan Stanley analysts.
Even with the state restrictions, the portals                                                   Broadband users           363 million
have posted formidable challenges to state       Many of the best editors at newspapers         Broadband coverage        98.1%
news sites, attracting far more traffic and      have taken charge as newsroom managers
visitors. Below is a ranking of the news por-    at the commercial portals. They are ready      Mobile access to          277 million
tals of the respective Internet companies        to take on the party-state media. It is also   the Internet
and the two state media sites,        likely that companies like Tencent –
and, of Tencent,           China’s largest Internet company by mar-       Bloggers                  2.31 million
ranks second in China, after top-ranked          ket capitalization, and the third-largest in, the search engine. Both Xinhua        the world – will dabble more in the news       Users of social           210 million
and People Daily trail far behind.               business.                                      network sites

As providers of news, the commercial por-        Technology the empowering force                Source: 26th report of the China Internet Network
tals are in a position to challenge state news   Technology is another driving force for Chi-   Information Center (CNNIC),
sites by virtue of their reach and revenue       nese media’s growth. By the end of June
size. Supported by revenues from non-            2010, the number of Chinese Internet users     Over the years, the Internet has opened up
news activities such as online games and         reached 420 million, making China the          space for expression, dialogue and report-
                                                                                                ing for Chinese journalists and ordinary
                                                                                                citizens. While the Chinese Internet is one
Company                 Portal                   China                  Worldwide               of the most controlled, it is also a most ac-
                                                 traffic rank           traffic rank            tive community of writers, bloggers and
                                                                                                citizen advocates. The Internet has offered
Tencent                          2                      10                      journalists a venue to post articles when
                                                                                                they are censored by the printed media.
                                                                                                In China, blogs and micro-blogs more
Sina                        4                      18                      recently have become a prime driver of
                                                                                                news events. Many activists also use tools

Netease                         6                      28                       All news media in China
                                                                                                 are state owned, but
Xinhua News agency               30                     212                      commercial Internet com-
                                                                                                 panies have emerged as
People’s Daily            32                     220                      an alternative source of
                                                                                                 news and self-expression.
                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT        113
                                                                                                 Left and Far  Right: Thousands march
                                                                                                 against plans to build a chemical
                                                                                                 plant in Xiamen, a coastal city
                                                                                                 in Eastern China. The march was or-
                                                                                                 ganised via blogs, emails and short
                                                                                                 messages on mobile phones.

                                                                                                 The media are explicitly barred from prob-
                                                                                                 ing into the underlying causes of the disas-
                                                                                                 ters and alleged abuses by government or
                                                                                                 business that could have led to the destruc-
                                                                                                 tion and deaths. For example, in Gansu, ex-
                                                                                                 perts have warned that a state-run lumber
                                                                                                 company has cut down hundreds of thou-
                                                                                                 sands acres of forests, making the area vul-
                                                                                                 nerable to heavy rains.

                                                                                                 There are other banned topics: Advocacy
                                                                                                 activities by gay groups, protests and
                                                                                                 demonstrations, the attack and killing of
                                                                                                 children in a kindergarten in the Northeast
                                                                                                 province of Shandong, and Western media
                                                                                                 reports that Li Lu, student leader in the
                                                                                                 1989 Tiananmen protests, could succeed
                                                                                                 Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway. Li,
to bypass the Great Fire Wall to create Twit-   explanation. When the micro blog plat-           who fled to the U.S shortly after the crack-
ter accounts which, unlike home grown           forms returned a week later, they had be-        down, has since reinvented himself to be-
micro blogs, are uncensored. When re-           come a “beta” version. At some micro blogs,      come a noted hedge-fund manager.
porters or activists are detained or harassed   the search function has been eliminated
by the police, they quickly tweet to spread     while others have imposed limits on links        Commercial pressure
the word.                                       to outside the site. The portals have also re-   Journalists are coming under increasing
                                                quested new users provide real names for         pressure from businesses. Business and fi-
Hu Yong, journalism professor and Internet      registration, a move that is seen as a           nancial journalism, areas where govern-
researcher, said micro blogs have empow-        method of control.                               ment control is relatively less restrictive,
ered individual citizens. “ ‘Micro’ is about                                                     are beats where reporters have probed alle-
every ordinary citizen. ‘Power’ is about        Direct control                                   gations of insider trading and commercial
translating language into action,” he said.     State control is enforced in the real world      fraud. These investigations have drawn the
“Through ‘micro-information’ and ‘micro-        by the central and provincial propaganda         wrath of their targets.
conversation’ we can together exercise          departments and a network of agencies.
‘micropower’ and influence the develop-         Every day, sometimes numerous times per          In July, Qiu Ziming, a reporter who wrote a
ment of conscience in Chinese society.”         day, propaganda authorities send orders to       series of articles alleging insider trading by
                                                editors and producers around the country         a local company, had to flee after police is-
Alarmed by the quick rise of social media,      about banned topics.                             sued a warrant charging him with “fabri-
officials have blocked social networking                                                         cating and disseminating false informa-
services such as Twitter, Facebook and          In August, officials put the lid on covering     tion” that damaged the company’s reputa-
lately Foursquare, as well as YouTube. The      natural disasters around the country, in-        tion.
government is perfecting control policies       cluding the deadly mudslide that buried
and mechanisms even as officials openly         and killed more than 1,000 people in the         The same month, Fang Xuanchang, an edi-
endorsed the Internet’s role in China’s eco-    Northwestern Chinese province of Gansu;          tor at Caijing magazine, was attacked by
nomic and social development.                   a flood in northeast China that caused 50        two men wielding metal clubs near his
                                                deaths and an out-of-control fire, also in       home. A noted science writer, Xuanchang
In June, more than 100 blogs by leading         northeast China. Dozens were killed. For         often exposes fraudulent health products
commentators      were      removed      by     each of these incidents, local and regional      manufactured by domestic companies. The government is also watch-         media were told not to send reporters to the
ing the micro-blogs warily, getting ready to    scene but only to use government press re-       Journalists in China are inspired by the
crack down. In July, micro blogs at the         leases or dispatches by Xinhua, the state-       many story opportunities offered by a
commercial sites were shut down with no         news agency.                                     country in the midst of constant and rapid

114     IPI REPORT
                                                                                                     Chinese Government
                                                                                                     Eyes Huge Investments
                                                                                                     in Media at Home and
                                                                                                     In early August, a little known Chinese
                                                                                                     private equity fund made headlines
                                                                                                     around the world as it announced the
                                                                                                     purchase of News Corp’s major stake in
                                                                                                     three television channels in China.
                                                                                                     Founded in 2009, the fund, known as
                                                                                                     China Media Capital (CMC), counted
                                                                                                     among its founders the China Devel-
                                                                                                     opment Bank, created directly under
                                                                                                     the State Council of the Chinese gov-
                                                                                                     ernment. The other founder is Shang-
change. But they also are working against        Chinese Communist Party has made clear              hai Media Group, a media powerhouse
huge odds. While many are soldiering on,         that it will not relinquish control of the          under the Propaganda Department of
some got corrupted and became “whore-            news media. But both commercialization              the Shanghai city government. CMC,
spondents,” a new term coined by critics to      and the empowering forces of technology             which raised 2 billion yuan ($294 mil-
describe reporters who take bribes from          demand greater openness. Somehow, the               lion) in its first round of financing a
news sources in exchange for covering up         government will have to resolve the con-            month before the News Corp pur-
industry malfeasance.                            tradictions inherent in its grand strategy of       chase, is China’s first buyout fund
                                                 gaining credibility worldwide while sup-            specifically focused on the media in-
The news industry is also plagued by the         pressing dissent and critical thinking at           dustry. Other similar funds targeting
proliferation of “red envelopes,” with which     home.                                               media ventures are in the wings,
news makers pay reporters for their cover-                                                           launched by the cash-rich central gov-
age of news stories, to interview some busi-                                                         ernment or provincial governments,
nessmen and not others, or just to suppress                                                          and provincial media conglomerates.
                                                                                                     In early 2010, the Nanfang Media
Many younger reporters have dropped out                                                              Group in southern China made a quiet
of journalism to work in public relations                                                            bid for Newsweek, then on the block,
for the companies they have covered. There                                                           but was rebuffed. Nanfang’s partner in
are others like Zhai Minglei, a blogger and                                                          the attempt was another media con-
writer, who quit a paper in Guangzhou to                                                             glomerate in Szechuan. Both groups
protest the self-censorship at his newspa-                                                           are related to their respective provin-
per. He now publishes his own reporting on                                                           cial governments. The bid and acquisi-
a site know as ibao, which means one                                                                 tion are signals that the Chinese gov-
man’s newspaper.                                                                                     ernment is ready to expand interna-
                                                                                                     tionally and will be looking for dis-
Thanks to the Internet, camaraderie among                                                            tressed media properties. Another
journalists is growing. Six days after a war-                                                        fund, the Chinese Cultural Heritage In-
rant was issued for a reporter’s arrest,                                                             vestment Fund (CCHIF), is backed by
sparking an outcry in the Chinese blogos-                                                            Bank of China and China Television
phere, it was withdrawn with an unprece-                                                             International. Spearheaded by the
dented apology from the police. When two                                                             Ministry of Finance, CCHIF claimed
of its reporters were detained by police in a                                                        that it will raise 20 billion yuan ($3 bil-
remote province, Nanfang Metropolitan                                                                lion) . These numbers lend credence to
Daily, a news tabloid, reported details of the   Yuen-Ying Chan is the founder and director of       a 2009 report in the Hong Kong South
police action on its website. Three hours        the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hong     China Morning Post that the Chinese
later, the reporters were released.              Kong University. She is also a Nieman fellow, and   government has set aside $6.6 billion
                                                 winner of the George Polk award for excellence in   to support state media’s expansion
For now, the future for Chinese journalists      journalism.                                         overseas.
remains both promising and perilous. The

                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT       115
Tags: Independent, Innovative, Subscription

Independent Malaysian
News Site Shores Up its Pay
Wall with Innovation
By Premesh Chandran

Free startups and social
media undercut a break-even
subscription site in Malaysia.
                                       T       he question of who will pay for jour-
                                       nalism continues to haunt media compa-
                                       nies as they watch the erosion of advertis-
                                       ing revenues in tandem with print circula-
                                       tions. With every new technology gadget
                                                                                       broadcast operation. The Internet was then
                                                                                       very much in its 1.0 incarnation. Absent
                                                                                       were terms such as User-generated con-
                                                                                       tent, blogging and social media.
But is pursuing
                                       and digital channel, the Darwinian pres-        Malaysiakini also had a domestic advan-
four strategies aimed at winning       sure to evolve gets stronger, ever surely ac-   tage. Strict government regulations meant
                                       companied by the thesis that only the           that traditional media was generally
financial security for the
                                       fittest will survive.                           owned or aligned to the government, and
independent news it provides.                                                          hence toed the ruling party’s line on most
                                       If only the path forward was better lit and     issues.
                                       the fog of change settled. Instead, the in-
                                       dustry wades through murky discussions,         However, the government saw the Internet
                                       fluctuating between the promise of growth       as a vehicle of growth and agreed with for-
                                       in online advertising and the ultimatum of      eign investors that the Internet would be
                                       asking readers to pay for content. It is        free of censorship and controls. This pro-
                                       hardly a choice for a proud industry that       vided a window of opportunity for
                                       has checked the powerful, walked with the       Malaysiakini to establish itself as the coun-
                                       weak and given society the pulse of the na-     try’s first free and independent media, al-
                                       tion, all while being reasonably rewarding      beit online.
                                       for shareholders.
                                                                                       In the wake of the controlled print media,
                                       As the fork in the road grows closer, some      Malaysiakini grew exponentially, reaching
                                       signposts and signals would be helpful to       100,000 unique visitors within eight
                                       media owners, journalists and the audi-         months of its launch. Malaysiakini quickly
                                       ence. Maps of pioneers are a precious           became the site to go to for political news,
                                       guide, defining dead ends and pointing to       and was termed “probably Malaysia’s most
                                       possible options ahead.                         important political journal”. The then
                                                                                       prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad
                                       Malaysiakini’s Journey                          would label Malaysiakini “a pain in the
                              is one of those pioneers.      neck”.
                                       Launched in 1999, the daily news site had
                                       the benefit of being a completely online ef-    Despite becoming one of the most visited
                                       fort, undistracted by a legacy print or         sites in Malaysia, advertising revenue did


not grow for several reasons. Advertising          tions. It was clear that Malaysiakini would    card and managed to get support for a con-
did not migrate quickly online, and much           have to develop a revenue base or fold.        venience store chain to retail it.
of the digital ad market was dominated, in
the early days, by companies linked to the         The second major challenge was to build a      Launch
government – hardly ideal sponsors for the         reliable and secure subscription manage-       After nearly a year of preparations,
site. Malaysiakini’s political reporting did       ment engine. Most such systems on the          Malaysiakini launched its subscription
not help, as businesses stayed away from           market then were priced at above a million     service in early 2002 at the rate of RM 100
any appearance of supporting the radically         dollars, built for major companies. Malaysi-   ($30) per year.
independent site.                                  akini started to build its own system, now
                                                   called Apart from sub-          Subscribers trickled in at a much slower
With little advertising revenue in sight,          scription management and online pay-           rate than anticipated. An early mistake we
Malaysiakini was forced to consider alter-         ment, the system also supports aggregation     made was giving away too much of the
natives, including subscriptions. The clos-        of subscription content across channels.       content for free. We allowed non-sub-
est business analogy was the co-existence                                                         scribers to read up to five paragraphs of a
of free to air and paid (cable or satellite) TV.   The third challenge was developing anony-      story. Subscriptions improved once we re-
Examining the model, it was clear that the         mous payment methods. As Malaysiakini          duced the free content, but we only man-
audience would pay for some content, if it         was a politically sensitive site, our sub-     aged to attract 1000 subscribers in our first
was compelling and part of their daily diet        scribers demanded a system that would not      year.
of information or entertainment, even if           require their identity to be revealed, even
something similar was on offer for free.           via a payment such as credit cards.            As expected, the subscribers were generally
                                                   Malaysiakini developed its own pre-paid        from the higher income category, with a
Malaysiakini believed that its unique con-
tent would attract a subscription base. We
hoped that 10 percent of our 100,000 daily
unique visitors would subscribe.

We also believed that if and when more
news sites decided to adopt a paid model,
there would be a market for aggregated ac-
cess, closer to the paid-TV model whereby
a user gets multiple “channels” for a single

Preparations for a Pay Wall
In order to prepare for launch, Malaysi-
akini faced three major challenges. The first
barrier was internal, to convince our staff
that this was the right approach. Close to
the entire staff dismissed the idea, arguing
that Malaysiakini would lose most of its au-

The management argued that there was lit-
tle other option to generate revenue. With-
out advertising, the only other channel was
to rely on donation. If we were to rely on
donors, donor fatigue would eventually set
in. Also, donor drives are extremely uncer-
tain, hence Malaysiakini could hardly plan
and strategise based on donor contribu-

                                                                                                                            IPI REPORT       117
                                                  Malaysiakini is keen to
                                                  trade access with other
                                                  subscription sites. We
penchant for news and politics. Demo-             believe in the mantra that                     payment for specific applications, such as
graphically, over 70 percent were from                                                           the iPad, provide new opportunities for
within Malaysia, from the 30-45 age group.
                                                  everybody will pay                             revenue.
Surprisingly, there were a high number of         something but would
retirees. Although this group had great                                                          Since the Web is also accessible via these
trouble using the Internet and making pay-
                                                  like to access other inter-                    devices, however, it’s difficult to protect
ments, perhaps the extra time of their            esting sites occasionally.                     content offered through a paid app without
hands gave them more incentive to sub-                                                           also charging a fee on the Web.
scribe.                                          more likely to share links on Facebook and
                                                 Twitter that their non-subscriber friends       Fourthly, it is clear that new media eco-
In the early years, readership and subscrip-     can read. Malaysiakini’s stories continued      nomics do not support large scale tradi-
tion was tied to political events in Malaysia.   to get shared in private over email, but in-    tional media organizations. The new media
The 2004 general elections saw the number        tegrating with social media has become a        organisation has to be lean, flat and inno-
of subscribers jump close to 3000. 2004 was      key challenge.                                  vative in its structure and revenue streams.
also the first year that Malaysiakini broke                                                      Media organization 2.0 is an organization
even, with subscription contributing over        Saving the Subscription Model                   that has a distinctive editorial strategy and
70 percent of income, the balance coming         The challenge going forward is to preserve      is geared to continuous adaption to new
from grants.                                     and increase the number of subscribers.         technologies. It is looking ahead at tech-
                                                 Malaysiakini has a few strategies in mind.      nologies 3.0, just as it builds its current dis-
The subsequent election in 2008 witnessed                                                        tribution and content strategies. An adap-
a doubling of subscribers as the political       Firstly, Malaysiakini is developing a tech-     tive media organisation is amphibian by
opposition won in five states, signaling the     nology that allows users to share stories       nature, prepared to thrive in the murky wa-
first major breakthrough toward a two-           with friends. A unique link will allow users    ters ahead.
party system since independence. In dis-         to click on links and access the full story
cussing the political tsunami, prime minis-      without being blocked by the pay wall. The
ter Abdullah Badawi said that his biggest        number of friends visiting will be limited,
mistake was “underestimating the Inter-          but the subscriber can pay more to be al-
net”.                                            lowed to share with a larger number of
                                                 friends. In a sense, a subscription now in-
Since 2008, subscription numbers have            cludes limited sharing rights. This strategy
plateaued. It was obvious that the Internet      will allow Malaysiakini to grow its pres-
had become a major influencer and as a re-       ences within social media as well as attract
sult many more online media sites were           new subscribers.
launched, providing so-called independent
news. With major investors, these sites were     Secondly, Malaysiakini is keen to trade ac-
able to offer content for free. What used to     cess with other subscription sites. We be-
be a ‘blue ocean’ was now a bloody red           lieve a simple technology can be created to
ocean. Nevertheless, given their lack of rev-    allow Malaysiakini subscribers occasional
enues, it may be a matter of time before in-     access to other sites along a micropay-
vestors’ funds run dry, and some will close.     ments model. We believe in the mantra
                                                 that everybody will pay something but
Twitter’s ability to spread breaking news        would like to access other interesting sites
fast was also a major blow to Malaysiakini’s     occasionally. Sites can trade “views” just as   Premesh Chandran is the co-founder and CEO of
positioning. Twitter provided newsmakers,        mobile phone companies trade “minutes”, the leading online media in
especially politicians with a direct route to    under roaming agreements.                       Malaysia, reaching over 300,000 readers per day in
the audience, reducing their reliance on                                                         four languages (English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil). He
news media.                                      Thirdly, the move towards multiple plat-        is also the founder and program advisor to Malaysi-
                                                 forms such as smart phones and tablets          akini’s nonprofit training organisation, the South-
As a subscription site, Malaysiakini has also    will also generate new revenue opportuni-       east Asian Centre for E-media.
been cut off from social media. Users are        ties for news sites. Platforms that integrate

118      IPI REPORT
                                                                                                Tags: Contributed, Trained

Citizen Journalism
Project Offers Case Study
in Collaboration
By Steven Lang

Cell phone journalism offers
access to untold stories in this
South African city. The Iindaba
                                   A            t Grocott’s Mail we are inter-
                                   ested in citizen journalism because it
                                   broadens our coverage of issues and events
                                   that are of immediate relevance to our tar-
                                   get readership. Through citizen journalism
                                                                                   For example, in June, Luvo Gcule (a citizen
                                                                                   journalist) was walking down a dusty road
                                                                                   in one of the most impoverished suburbs of
                                                                                   Grahamstown when he heard a woman
                                                                                   wailing. He rushed over to the woman’s
Ziyafika project – run by a
                                   we have more sources of information and         corrugated iron shack and found her stand-
journalism school and news         we also have greater depth in our articles      ing there spattered with blood and a knife
                                   on issues that we would normally cover          in her hand, at her feet a man was lying in
organization partnership –
                                   only superficially.                             a pool of blood. A neighbor called the am-
demonstrates how trained                                                           bulance services, but no medical help ar-
                                   We have had some significant successes          rived. Gcule called the police, who eventu-
informers can reflect their
                                   based on cell phone journalism. For exam-       ally arrived to arrest the woman and con-
communities.                       ple, pupils who had gone through our            firmed that her boyfriend was dead. While
                                   training course alerted us to a problem in      waiting for the police to arrive, Gcule used
                                   one of their high schools where teachers        his cell phone to take photographs of the
                                   would not come to class, but would instead      woman and her deceased partner. He also
                                   go drinking at a local tavern.                  spoke to the woman, who told him that
                                                                                   they had both been drinking heavily and
                                   The pupils texted information to us that we     that she stabbed her boyfriend when he
                                   could not have received from any other          wanted to go out to continue drinking with
                                   source. We then published some of these         his friends.
                                   messages in our newspaper, provoking the
                                   school authorities to ban pupils from using     We had a full confession from the woman
                                   cell phones and preventing them from            and dramatic photographs of the murder
                                   speaking to the media when we sent a re-        scene, thanks to a citizen journalist. With-
                                   porter. But they were too late because we       out his first-hand account, the newspaper
                                   already had the story.                          would probably have carried a two-line re-
                                                                                   port from the police.
                                   As our citizen journalists are receiving
                                   recognition within the community, we have       Grocott’s Mail has also benefitted from un-
                                   found that local residents are more likely to   tutored citizen journalists who do not want
                                   alert recently qualified citizen journalists    to have their names publicized, but who
                                   that they know and trust rather than regu-      feel that it is worthwhile putting news out
                                   lar newsroom staff who are not so familiar.     for public consumption.

                                                                                                            IPI REPORT      119
                                                                                                    Left: Shireen Badat, the Editor of
                                                                                                    Upstart, is shown here with a group
                                                                                                    of pupils from a local high school.
                                                                                                    She has taken on the Upstart project
                                                                                                    in an effort to constructively channel
                                                                                                    energies of high school pupils.

At our newspaper we believe it is impor-         fied. Following the article’s publication in     ment rate estimated at over 50 percent, the
tant to maintain close contact with the          Grocott’s Mail, the municipality took disci-     town also has some of the most impover-
community we serve. Citizen journalism –         plinary action against at least one of the       ished schools in the province.
and innovative use of new media technol-         three offenders.
ogy - is helping what was essentially an old                                                      Iindaba Ziyafika, which means the ‘news is
media organisation to achieve this goal. We      Citizen Journalism Training                      coming’ in isiXhosa – is the title of the proj-
have found that by developing a citizen          Iindaba Ziyafika is a citizen journalism         ect defined by two major thrusts:
journalism component to our newspaper            training project run by the Rhodes School
we are strengthening our relationship with       of Journalism in conjunction with Gro-           • Firstly, the innovative use of mobile
our readers. This is good for the commu-         cott’s Mail. The project operates on the         phones to democratise news and informa-
nity and naturally good for the newspaper.       premises of Grocott’s Mail, a community          tion within the community of Graham-
An interesting aspect of citizen journalism      newspaper that celebrated 140 years of           stown;
is that by publishing articles about issues      business in May 2010.                            • And secondly, to equip media producers
that are important in the community, that                                                         in the town, and more broadly in the coun-
same community is able to put pressure on        The newspaper has been owned by the              try so that they can fully utilise new media
the local authorities. This works very well      Rhodes School of Journalism since 2003,          technology in journalism.
with respect to the municipal authorities        and besides providing news and informa-
and even has significant influence on the        tion for the community, Grocott’s Mail is        In order to become media contributors, res-
provincial administration.                       also used as a platform for experiential         idents needed to learn how to do this. We
                                                 journalism.                                      therefore set up a training newsroom with
There was a specific case during a recent                                                         10 computers on the premises of Grocott’s
municipal workers’ strike when a citizen         The citizen journalism project, funded by        Mail, where we can train prospective citi-
journalist took a series of photographs of       the US-based Knight Foundation, is only          zen journalists and also provide a space
strikers who trespassed on private property      one of several experimental journalism           where the students can practise what they
to collect garbage. The strikers subse-          projects at Grocott’s Mail.                      have learned.
quently threw all the garbage onto the
town’s main street in order to disrupt traffic   Grahamstown – in the Eastern Cape                One of the main objectives of Iindaba
and highlight their cause. The citizen jour-     Province – is renowned as an educational         Ziyafika is to teach people, mainly resi-
nalist then wrote an article and demanded        center because it hosts Rhodes University        dents from the under-privileged sections of
that the municipality take action against        and several prestigious private schools. It is   our community, how to become citizen
the strikers who had been publicly identi-       less well-known that with an unemploy-           journalists.

120      IPI REPORT
Below: The front page of Gro-
cott’s Mail, 30 April 2010. One
of their citizen journalists took
the photo of a car accident on
his camera phone.

                                                By developing a citizen
                                                journalism component we
                                                are strengthening our
                                                relationship with our
                                                readers. This is good for
                                                the community and for
                                                the newspaper.
                                               have to teach people how to use a phone          moved them to cover issues that they
                                               book because they have never had access          believe are more likely to be published and
                                               to one before.                                   consequently to generate income for them.
                                                                                                Some academics argue that what we are
                                               As the cell phone (a smartphone is a rare        doing is not citizen journalism at all, but
                                               luxury item) is the most basic tool avail-       rather a cadet training school or “journal-
                                               able to citizen journalists, we spend some       ism-lite.”
                                               time explaining how to get the best results
                                               from low-end cell phones. We teach stu-          Conclusion
                                               dents how to use the text facility and if they   Grocott’s Mail and Grocott’s Online are
                                               have cameras we teach basic photography          benefitting from the additional content
                                               skills as well.                                  generated by the citizen journalists, who
Initially we focused our training on young                                                      are acquiring marketable skills in an area
people – high school pupils – because          The course work includes basic journalism        where unemployment is high. It is not cer-
many of them already use cell phones for       skills such as using the inverted pyramid to     tain whether we will be able to sustain this
texting and other social media. We believed    structure a story and fundamental princi-        project once the external funding runs out.
the younger generation would be far more       ples of journalism ethics.
amenable to new ways of using technology.
For our first training group we selected a     Our plan is to identify students with the
number of high school pupils who were al-      best potential during their courses, and
ready involved in a social upliftment pro-     when the course ends, we invite them to
gram called Upstart.                           begin participating in some of the activities
                                               of our regular newsroom.
This group, chosen from various high
schools in Grahamstown, produces a             Money Matters
monthly newspaper called Upstart for and       When we made our funding proposal to
about young people in the area.                the Knight Foundation, we expected the
                                               new citizen journalists to be motivated by
Since the beginning of 2010 we have run        civic activism. We thought they would gen-
four more citizen journalism courses,          erate multimedia content because they
mainly teaching unemployed adults free of      wished to expose problems in areas that do
charge.                                        not usually receive media attention.

The course work is very practical and          We have, however, found that the driving
hands-on. After explaining techniques on       force for citizen journalists in our area is
how to conduct an interview, we bring in a     the prospect of gainful employment. They
guest so that the students can try out their   are almost all unemployed and eager to
newly acquired skills on real subjects.        reach out for any prospect of a job, whether
                                               on a part-time basis as a stringer or as a       Steven Lang is the Editor of Grocott’s Mail in Gra-
We teach our students how to do basic          step on the way to full-time employment.         hamstown. He has worked for most of his career in
research and how to access sources of in-                                                       radio and television at the News Division of the
formation by doing Google searches or          This expectation has distanced citizen jour-     South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
finding local experts. In many cases, we       nalists from covering grassroots issues and

                                                                                                                             IPI REPORT         121
Tags: Commons, Disparity, Diversity

Telling the Stories Left
Untold by Gaps in Wealth
and Bandwidth
By Ferial Haffajee

Despite a shortage of diverse
public affairs reporting
that’s crucial for developing
                                      Y       ou would never know it from read-
                                      ing South African newspapers, but the
                                      wealth gap in my country has resulted in
                                      the highest Gini co-efficient in the world.
                                      This grotesque disparity has been nor-
                                                                                       ject to the same risks and challenges of
                                                                                       losing the news. In August, Women’s
                                                                                       month, I sat in my paper’s news confer-
                                                                                       ence and looked at a news diary wonder-
                                                                                       ing where the gendered stories were. The
democracies, media across
                                      malised in a society where all the metrics of    news editor asked: “Why? That’s not a
Africa are displaying some of         poverty wear a female face. Take HIV/Aids.       story.” This was his response until he saw
                                      Now in its death hump, Aids has robbed us        my face (and his rapidly disappearing per-
the enterprise and innovation
                                      of a generation of mostly women. This has        formance bonus) and quickly composed a
it will take to deliver essential     left a generation of older women – or gogos      set of ideas.
                                      (grandmothers) – taking up the caring
                                      work of a generation of Aids orphans, con-       I’d rather not do things by diktat, but in a
                                      servatively measured at over one million         country where a new generation of journal-
                                      children and young people.                       ists is snared by the vacuous trap of
                                                                                       celebrity, lifestyle and scoop journalism, it
                                      If you read our media, you would assume          often feels like the only way to get the im-
                                      that the normal family structure in South        portant stories of gender, race, race relations,
                                      Africa is the nuclear family. You’d be           constitutionalism and other subjects impor-
                                      wrong. In fact, the most common form of          tant to a young democracy onto my agenda.
                                      family in South Africa is the single female-
                                      headed household. And this universal             Our owners with an eye on the media’s
                                      woman is struggling with unemployment,           commercial bloodbath in the Northern
                                      relationships, the cost of school and trans-     hemisphere are trying to anticipate a crisis.
                                      port costs that take up nearly 40 percent of     Investment in newsrooms is generally on
                                      the wage of working women.                       the decline (though there are notable and
                                                                                       welcome investments in graduate training
                                      I could go on. Sexual violence, be it rape or    programmes and investigative journalism
                                      gender violence, is an ever-present horror       across most of the industry) and journalism
                                      and some studies suggest that one in three       is practiced as a craft of town not of country.
                                      woman will know its cruelty once or more         That makes our media, generally, a hand-
                                      in her life. But even as an editor-in-chief, I   maiden of urban elites, with insufficient at-
                                      struggle to get this kind of reportage into      tention paid to the issues faced by the mil-
                                      my newspaper.                                    lions of South Africans living in rural areas
                                                                                       and on the margins of big city life.
                                      While newspapers in South Africa are not
                                      yet at Ground Zero as many in Europe and         We are losing news that is vital to the craft-
                                      the United States, our journalism is sub-        ing of new democracies. This includes

122     IPI REPORT
                                 Investment in
                                 newsrooms is
                                 generally on the
                                 decline, and
news about the state of the                                      to the real South Africa. If       is beginning to attract advertising. (See
commons – of public health
                                 journalism is                   we are to phrase it within
care, education, local gov-      practiced as                    the topic, then it is losing
ernment, the state of human                                      news even more quickly             K24 and KTN are two new television chan-
rights – and replacing it with
                                 a craft of town                 than the relatively old form       nels in Kenya producing high quality work;
the     preoccupations      of   not of country.                 of print.                          a startup in Nigeria called NN24 is gaining
celebrity, wire news, of                                                                            audience share. Private radio is the true
lifestyle, personal finance, all the interests   The focus on the urban over the rural, the         growth story on our continent with two ex-
of the emergent middle-class that is the         quick over the complex, press release over         cellent examples being Joy FM in Uganda
darling of the advertising industry.             original reportage means we fall short of          and Talk Radio 702 in South Africa. The
                                                 the role of a fourth estate that will be so        African media institutions like the Nation
As I contemplate the global debates of free      important as we South Africans and                 and Standard groups, Monitor, Punch and
versus paid content (awful word, I prefer        Africans begin to shake off our miserable          Next and the four South African media
journalism) and study the various projects       path and seek a place in the new world. But        houses Avusa, Independent, Media24 and
to save our craft, hard questions burble to      the African Journalism of the Year Awards,         Caxton still have substantial investment
the surface of my mind. Who will pay for         of which I am a judge, generally reveals to        budgets.
the snoopers who keep investigative jour-        me a story of vitality and growth and of a
nalism alive? Who will fund the long, hard       cadre of people across the continent who           But on the whole, the print landscape is of
and expensive work of keeping teams at           speak fearlessly and are relishing their job       media with tiny budgets and fractured
parliaments to hold the flame of democracy       of keeping power on its toes. On our conti-        readerships (but for notable examples like
burning bright? Who will pay people to           nent, there is still a happy tale to tell in the   The Nation, Monitor, Punch and Next), this
read books and review them for our pleas-        private media because the liberalisation of        journalism is losing news through other
ure? Who will keep the arts editors in pay-      print, radio and television means it is just       risks. These include payola and factional-
cheques so that we have informed com-            hitting its stride.                                ism. In Uganda earlier this year for the
mentary on culture rather than the blogs                                                            awards, at a seminar I was aghast to find
that are so often based first on the reportage   In Nigeria, Next is an experiment worth            that most journalists earn their money
of old-style journalism? Nobody knows.           watching in one of the globe’s more inter-         through payola. They are employed as
                                                 esting (and most challenging) nations.             freelancers with little or no basic pay, so
With just over one in 10 South Africans          Next, published by Pulitzer prize-winning          they rely on handouts in brown envelopes
with Internet access and Twitter still an        editor Dele Olojede, started as an online site     at press conferences. It’s the great elephant
elite toy, I find that new media is even more    and then migrated into a daily and Sunday          in the room of African media and it distorts
a world that bares very little resemblance       newspaper. Its journalism is excellent and         news (or loses it) in ways we had better face

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT      123
                                                                                               Page 123 and Left:
                                                                                               The editorial offices
                                                                                               of City Press.

                                                                                               Ultimately, long-form and investigative
                                                                                               journalism that escapes the city sophistica-
                                                                                               tion and spin will become a nonprofit en-
                                                                                               terprise so that it does not lose its essence
                                                                                               and its soul and does not become the flot-
                                                                                               sam of a necessary and inevitable revolu-
                                                                                               tion. That will come with its own set of
                                                                                               governance issues: Do we simply trade the
                                                                                               profit motive for the vested interest of the
                                                                                               philanthropist; what happens when the
                                                                                               funds run dry; is it truly independent?

                                                                                               But new and multi-dimensional ways to
                                                                                               secure the future of journalism are essen-
                                                                                               tial if we are to ensure that as we lurch for-
                                                                                               ward, we are not so enamoured with the
                                                                                               growth story and with a new African mid-
                                                                                               dle-class that we forget the essential stories
                                                                                               of development, employment, health, wel-
                                                                                               fare and education and indeed of democ-
                                                                                               racy that are so vital, still.

head-on. The other way in which political      tles and is the word used to describe its
reporting (still the biggest and most impor-   journalists.
tant story on our continent) is distorted is   (See
through ownership by political interests.
                                               • The Taco Kuiper awards for South African
As journalists, we live in revolutionary       investigative journalism. Philanthropist
often disturbing times and not knowing         and publisher Taco Kuiper left a sizable por-
what the future holds is part of the chal-     tion of his estate to the awards, which fund
lenge that must make us innovate to pro-       good investigations with some impact.
tect our craft. There are emerging examples    (Accessible via
of how we can use the tools of new media
and also ensure that African journalism re-    • Richard Kavuma, the award-winning
mains on its growth path.                      Ugandan journalist with joint funding be-
                                               tween his newspaper and the Guardian of
• The Daily Maverick (wrenched from the        London lives in a local village and through
ashes of its print sister magazine which       micro-observation documents the process
floundered) is like the Huffington Post of     of development.
South Africa and its publishers and writers
work virtually for free.                       • Open Society fellowships. Across the
(See                 world, George Soros’ fellowships are keep-
                                               ing good journalism alive.
• Amabhungane, a project of the Mail &         (See                            Ferial Haffajee is the Editor of City Press, a na-
Guardian, is an effort to train a generation                                                   tional South African Sunday newspaper. In 2004
of South African and African investigative     • Emergent blogging platforms that are          she became the first woman editor of a major South
journalists. It is like a cross between        harnessing new platforms for news and           African newspaper when she took over the editor-
ProPublica and the Centre for Investigative    news analysis. (See            ship of the Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian.
Journalism. Amabhungane are dung bee-          and

124     IPI REPORT
                                                                                                 Tags: Access, Perspective

Telling African Stories,
the African Way
By Salim Amin

Africa 24 Media enables
journalists and others to
publish content online that
                                  O           ver the last 20 years, the media
                                  industry in Africa has grown by leaps and
                                  bounds. More TV and radio stations, as well
                                  as print media, are being introduced, while
                                  the entry of new media in the journalism
                                                                                    Stringent legal, political and economic en-
                                                                                    vironments have restricted most institu-
                                                                                    tions from operating freely as independent
                                                                                    media outlets, and journalists continue to
                                                                                    face perennial harassment and violence
covers the Continent from a
                                  landscape has transformed the way stories         from many of the governments in Africa.
local perspective, accurately     are told. State ownership and control has
                                  been radical reduced.                             Nevertheless, the expansion of the demo-
and with context.
                                                                                    cratic space, vociferous campaigns from
                                  However, with this growth, media freedom          civil society and increased international
                                  has been abused in many countries where           and regional pressures on respecting
                                  journalists have been apprehended, their          human rights has witnessed greater im-
                                  equipment confiscated, and in worst cases,        provement from some countries within
                                  some have lost their lives in the line of duty.   Sub-Saharan Africa.

       Edwin Soy, Mark Kiptoo
       and Vincent Yator take
       first, second and third
       place in the men’s
       5,000 meter event in the
       just concluded African
       Athletics Championship.

                                                                                                             IPI REPORT     125
The entry of new media and social net-            leave without having to face some of the          The stories being told by A24 cover a range
working sites has substantially improved          more serious fallout that their African           of topics from business to sports, fashion
the storytelling abilities of most journalists.   counterparts face as they continue to live        and art to the environment, health and ed-
With forums like Twitter, Facebook and            in those countries.                               ucation, as well as current affairs and pro-
YouTube, the African journalist can now                                                             files on leaders around the continent.
speak, albeit vigilantly, using an alternate      African stories being told by parachute
platform.                                         journalists tend to lack the background,          The content A24 receives is checked and re-
                                                  perspective and context that allows view-         checked by our editorial team to ensure ac-
But with these advancements, huge chal-           ers, readers and listeners to really under-       curacy and objectivity, as well as to make
lenges still remain in the scramble to tell       stand the stories and their significance.         sure we are telling the story from an African
the African story the African way. Prohibi-       The “30-second soundbite” has taken               perspective – often using the vast historical
tive constitutional and legal frameworks, as      over, especially in TV, and this has led to a     archive we have at our disposal to add con-
well as suspect ownership, have really            very distorted and negative picture of            text and background to our features.
hampered the media from playing its role          Africa.
as independently as it should. Although                                                             We have looked at the amazing story of
media journalists are guided by ethical           Africa 24 Media (A24) made a ground-              East African Athletics and how they have
standards that need to be adhered to, some        breaking entry into the African media             set new standards for the world, and have
governments do not have trust in this and,        arena with its pilot initiative of establishing   become role models for a whole generation
as a result, end up enacting legislation that     and providing African journalists with an         of Africans. Some of our other success sto-
is damaging to the media industry.                online platform where they can tell their         ries include the advances made in the mo-
                                                  own stories, their own way. A24 is Africa’s       bile phone and ICT sectors in East Africa
International broadcasters like the BBC,          first online delivery site for material from      and the great success mobile banking has
CNN and Al Jazeera still have better access       journalists, African broadcasters and NGOs        been in Kenya.
in many African countries and continue to         from around the Continent.
tell Africa’s story from their perspective,                                                         With our ground-breaking documentary
which is often biased. As they are not in-        The launch of the online platform                 on the history of corruption in Kenya that
vested in the countries they cover, and usu-      ( revolutionized the             came out in July 2010, we demonstrated
ally send in ‘parachute journalists’ to cover     African media environment and the com-            that there have been huge advances in
African stories, they can sensationalize          pany boasts of over 2,000 videos stories col-     press freedom in a country like Kenya. As
many of the stories they cover and then           lected from all over Africa in just two years.    early as five years ago, we would have

126      IPI REPORT
Left: Mzee Kimani Maruge sits outside during
recess and takes a class picture with his fellow
students. He was the oldest student in history to
enroll in primary school at the age of 84 years and
died two years shy of sitting for his National exams.

Below: An El Molo boy poses for a
picture on a motorbike.

found it almost impossible to do this docu-             ble countries have their foundation firmly
mentary and to show some of the examples                rooted in a free press.
of corruption and poor governance in
Kenya.                                                  There is still a long way to go. With inde-
                                                        pendent journalists fighting a losing battle
However, journalists still find it difficult to         on censorship every year, with increased
submit their content online due to inade-               violence and deaths being reported more
quate Internet speed and the lack of band-              often in countries like Somalia, Libya,
width in most African countries. But, with              Madagascar and even South Africa and
the entry of the undersea cables into the               Kenya, exercising the right to information
African telecommunication system, the fu-               is still a challenge.
ture seems to be getting brighter for the
                                                                                                        African stories as told by
African journalist.                                     A24 Media is trying to bring a little hope      parachute journalists tend
                                                        and opportunity in a changing media land-
Internet and social networking sites look to            scape. Our unique model is empowering
                                                                                                        to lack the background,
be more relevant to the way African jour-               African journalists across the continent,       perspective and context
nalists will tell their stories, while the role         giving them better revenue for their con-
of the mass media in developing countries               tent, a wider audience and, most impor-
                                                                                                        that explains their
is slowly losing its grip. Still, the more sta-         tantly, ownership over their work.              significance.

                                                                                                       Salim Amin is the Chairman of A24 Media, CEO of
                                                                                                       Camerapix, and founder and Chairman of the Mo-
                                                                                                       hamed Amin Foundation. A24 is Africa’s first online
                                                                                                       delivery site for material from African journalists,
                                                                                                       broadcasters and NGOs. Amin was named a Young
                                                                                                       Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in

                                                                                                                                     IPI REPORT        127
Tags: Independent, Protected

Peeking Behind Burma’s
Bamboo Curtain
By Soe Myint

Mizzima News relies on people
inside and outside the country
to cover Burma and provide its
                                  N           obody questions that reporting
                                  from military-ruled Burma is a difficult un-
                                  dertaking, but there are those who have
                                  rallied to the call and met with success in
                                  the dissemination of independent news
                                                                                  Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom
                                                                                  Index 2009 ranks Burma 171st out of 175
                                                                                  countries, recognition that Burma contin-
                                                                                  ues to be one of the most closed societies in
                                                                                  the world. The military uses official censor-
citizens with independent
                                  from the isolated Southeast Asian country.      ship to check all publications, while utiliz-
information about their                                                           ing state-controlled television and newspa-
                                  Mizzima, derived from the Pali word for         pers as propaganda weapons against those
government and communities.
                                  ‘middle’ or ‘moderate,’ was founded in Au-      criticizing the regime. It further blocks
Underground reporters and         gust 1998 by three Burmese in exile in          websites of independent news media or-
                                  India with an aim of restoring media free-      ganizations, including those of Mizzima,
their editors use encrypted
                                  dom in dictatorial Burma. Initially, severely   while closely monitoring activity at the
technology for security as they   resource strapped, Mizzima could only af-       country’s Internet cafes. The few private
                                  ford to involve itself solely in the dissemi-   publications operating in the country ei-
subvert restrictions using
                                  nation of news and information to an inter-     ther have to publish what the junta allows
broadcast, the Internet and       national audience via email and fax. How-       or risk punitive actions.
                                  ever, with the passage of 12 years, Mizzima
other means to inform citizens.
                                  has realized its position as a widely turned-   A serious challenge Mizzima faces in its
                                  to multimedia outlet on Burma and related       daily operations is ensuring the safety of
                                  topics, maintaining a network of reporters      reporters working inside Burma, as well as
                                  and stringers inside the country.               those in exile. Burma’s military govern-
                                                                                  ment sentences reporters to long prison
                                  With headquarters in India and branch of-       terms for disseminating uncensored infor-
                                  fices in Thailand and Bangladesh, Mizzima       mation. A Democratic Voice of Burma
                                  utilizes websites, TV, podcasting and print     (DVB) reporter working inside the country
                                  to disseminate information on Burma to          was recently sentenced to 27 years for
                                  both those inside and outside the country.      sending information to her organization.
                                  The road to media freedom, however, re-
                                  mains fraught with obstacles and dangers,       Because of this repression, there is growing
                                  as Mizzima News seeks to constantly de-         cooperation among journalists inside the
                                  velop new means of overcoming official          country and those in exile. They share in-
                                  designs aimed at silencing the press.           formation, conduct joint investigations

                                                                              Mizzima’s growing
                                                                              network of journal-
                                                                              ists has been able
and share proxy server numbers and web-         Mizzima reporters have                                            sion or listen to Burmese
site information when the junta blocks          also taken advantage of
                                                                              to successfully chal-               overseas radio via readily
communication channels.                         expanded opportunities        lenge restrictions on               available short-wave radio
                                                provided by the military                                          sets. Mizzima provides TV
There are also a growing number of citizen      government’s Global Sys-
                                                                              the free flow of                    stories and programs to
journalists and video journalists working       tem for Mobile Commu-         information and                     DVB TV for broadcast.
to expose the truth. More young people are      nications and CDMA
using new media tools such as blogs, Twit-      phones (Code-Division
                                                                              images.                            Even rural areas of Burma
ter, Facebook, mobile phones and SMS to         Multiple Access protocols used in so-called      at times have access to satellite dishes
write about the country’s situation.            second-generation (2G) and third-genera-         smuggled from China, with authorities un-
Mizzima has done stories on how these           tion (3G) wireless communications) to            able to clamp down on this easily available
new media tools are being employed to           strengthen the restricted but crucial free       commodity. Burmese inside the country
spread information and news on Burma by         flow of information.                             are additionally adept in using proxy
Burmese both inside and outside the                                                              servers and other means to beat Internet
country.                                        Video files are sent through SEND6, Send-        censorship.
                                                Space or YouSendIt. Mizzima uses a FTP
Security measures taken by Mizzima to           (File Transfer Protocol) for transferring        Through the methods described, Mizzima’s
safeguard its reporters in the field include    large files from reporters inside the country    growing network of reporters, new media
the use of Internet technology, as well as      to editors outside Burma. However, a gen-        units and stringers have been able to suc-
old-fashioned communication techniques          erally slow Internet connection means this       cessfully challenge the restrictions of the
such as employing human couriers.               method cannot always be relied upon. En-         regime in the battle for the free flow of in-
                                                cryption as well as the frequent changing        formation and images.
Mizzima’s network of underground re-            of accounts and passwords are additional
porters rely on digital communication sys-      security steps taken to try and ensure the       Over the years, Mizzima has covered a
tems to collect information and dissemi-        safety of Mizzima personnel when making          wealth of stories that have gone on to gar-
nate it through multimedia outlets both in      use of digital communication.                    ner international attention. Regional and
Burmese and English, producing regular                                                           international media are known to pick-up
publications, television and radio pro-         When Mizzima organizes a training pro-           Mizzima stories and quote the information
grams, all of which are used on Mizzima’s       gram outside the country for reporters who       in their news.
Web-based platforms. Especially since the       work in Burma, attendees, mindful of secu-
2007 Saffron Revolution, digital communi-       rity, are often kept separated. All partici-     When Burmese people led by Buddhist
cation has been a vital part of Mizzima’s       pants are connected to the lecture through       monks hit the streets in 2007, Mizzima in-
work.                                           the GoToMeeting program, an online fea-          troduced live reporting on its websites.
                                                ture that hides the face and identity of par-    Similarly, Mizzima utilized live reporting
Mizzima’s external editors maintain daily       ticipants. In this way, Mizzima safeguards       during the junta’s Constitutional Referen-
communication with reporters inside             the identity and security of reporters com-      dum in 2008, while also providing compre-
Burma via the Internet and mobile phones.       ing from Burma. Other significant obsta-         hensive coverage of the devastation
Additionally, reporters have access to satel-   cles confronted in bringing Mizzima staff        wrought by Cyclone Nargis.
lite phones and BGAN (Broadband Global          the training they need include a lack of
Area Network) technology as alternative         English language skills and budgetary re-        Going forward, Mizzima plans to broadcast
avenues of communication when other             straints, making it financially prohibitive to   live streaming TV of the anticipated general
options become less viable or unsuitably        provide the necessary training.                  election at the end of 2010. The primary
dangerous.                                                                                       purpose of Burma’s first general election in
                                                The work of Mizzima and other exile news         two decades is to further legitimize military
Information is generally sent to external       organizations is today widely available to       rule and entrench the military’s political
Mizzima editors via the Internet by means       the citizens of Burma. Burmese can watch         role. The National League for Democracy,
such as the sharing of email accounts,          foreign television broadcasts such as CNN        victors in the 1990 elections but not allowed
meaning that a file is saved in draft form      and the BBC with the assistance of satellite     to assume power, has decided not to contest
and can be accessed by Mizzima personnel        dishes. People can also watch 24-hour            the forthcoming elections in opposition to
outside Burma.                                  Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) televi-          what it considers unjust electoral laws.

                                                                                                                           IPI REPORT      129
Below: Mizzima News gives its readers
a rare glimpse into life in Burma.

                                                                                            International Freedom of Expression Ex-
                                                                                            change (IFEX) and partner organization of
                                                                                            the Southeast Asian Press Alliance
                                                                                            (SEAPA), in 2007 Mizzima was honored
                                                                                            with the International Press Institute’s (IPI)
                                                                                            Free Media Pioneer Award.

                                                                                            Mizzima’s ultimate ambitions revolve
                                                                                            around developing innovative ways of
                                                                                            using digital communication to evade au-
                                                                                            thoritarian controls, both in gathering in-
                                                                                            formation and delivering it to those who
                                                                                            need it most. The target audience is people
                                                                                            inside Burma and the Burmese in the Dias-

                                                                                            There is an established thirst for knowledge
                                                                                            about what is happening inside authoritar-
                                                                                            ian Burma. Mizzima is one institution play-
                                                                                            ing a central role in providing this service
                                                                                            while also active in the Burmese freedom
                                                                                            and democracy movements, as it produces
                                                                                            a new generation of Burmese media per-
                                                                                            sonnel capable of playing an instrumental
                                                                                            role in a post-military ruled Burma.

Since its modest birth in a small niche       As Mizzima grows in capacity building,
along New Delhi’s crowded streets,            journalism skills and equipment, the pos-
Mizzima has developed mechanisms to in-       sibilities of an emerging culture of en-
crease both its network and output. And,      hanced media freedom at this critical junc-
despite the official censorship and regular   ture of Burmese history grows with it.
clampdowns on independent reporting,          Today, Mizzima has over 80 reporters/staff
Burma also possesses some unique condi-       based in India, Thailand, Bangladesh,
tions and “opportunities” for the free flow   China and Burma.
of information. It is hoped that following                                                  Soe Myint is Editor-In-Chief of Mizzima News,
the election, with some civilians involved    To strengthen Burma’s free media, Mizzima     which he established in August 1998. He has worked
in power sharing arrangements and a           actively works in association with other      for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Radio
growing civil society sector, media organi-   Burmese media groups. A founding mem-         Free Asia (Burmese Service) and Voice of America
zations like Mizzima can exploit this new-    ber of Burma News International, a net-       (Burmese Department). His book, “Burma File: A
found “scope” to improve networks and ac-     work of Burma’s independent media or-         Question of Democracy,” was published in 2003.
tivities inside the country.                  ganizations, as well as a member of the

130       IPI REPORT
                                                                               Tags: Connected, Developed, Growing

Media in India Poised
to Grow Rapidly
By Rajesh Kalra

Media in India is on the
verge of a major shift, as
literacy increases, and
                             It is never easy to gaze into the future un-
                             less, of course, you are Paul the Octopus
                             and get it right time and again. But to gaze
                             into the future and predict what will hap-
                             pen to news is relatively simple, I think,
                                                                               ing on the wall. Realization is quickly
                                                                               dawning that the current growth is not sus-
                                                                               tainable in the long run, a slow but certain
                                                                               shift to other media has begun, and the
                                                                               trend will only gather pace.
computers and connectivity
                             and it may not necessarily need Paul or his
penetrate rural areas and    luck. The march of technology, innovation         Television is already a staple source of in-
                             and newer media is collaborating to give a        formation for many and that number is
citizen journalism rises.
                             clear idea of what the future holds for           growing, aided in no uncertain terms by
                             news.                                             the use of satellite-based distribution net-
                                                                               works even as distribution through cable
                             Let us look at India first. The country is        gets more organized. This will see a further
                             uniquely placed in the world of media and         fillip though IPTV and mobile.
                             in terms of how news is disseminated. The
                             print media in the developed world might          India has another challenge - multiplicity
                             well be into its sunset stage, but in India it    of languages. English alone will not suffice,
                             is still growing.                                 and for one clear reason. Only 10 percent of
                                                                               the population is English-literate. While
                             The reasons are aplenty, the main being           that may translate to over 100 million peo-
                             India’s growing literacy rate. Currently,         ple, which in itself is huge, there are still al-
                             India’s literacy rate hovers around 71 per-       most 900-plus million who read, write and
                             cent, up from 12 percent when it gained in-       understand other languages.
                             dependence in 1947. This is skewed in
                             favor of urban areas, and men in particular.      The effort to target this non-English-speak-
                                                                               ing population, take computers to them,
                             While most in urban areas have access to          and then the Internet, has gained speed.
                             education, it is still an aspirational thing in   Most of the big names are investing consid-
                             the rural areas. Once a person has the abil-      erable sums in developing computers that
                             ity to read and write, he wants to show the       can be used in multiple Indian languages.
                             world that he is now literate. There aren’t
                             many better ways to do so than reading a          Microsoft, for example, has embarked on a
                             newspaper sitting in the village centre, sur-     project called “Bhasha” (the Hindi word for
                             rounded by an envious and appreciative            language) to push computers in the Indian
                             bunch. Of course, the fact that India has         hinterland. It is Microsoft’s belief, along
                             some of the cheapest newspapers available         with that of a number of other IT biggies,
                             off the shelf in the world helps.                 that a major reason for the huge digital di-
                                                                               vide in India is the unavailability of
                             But all that notwithstanding, even the most       computers in local languages. Computers
                             hardened print supporters can see the writ-       alone will not help in the absence of

                                                                                                           IPI REPORT        131
proper connectivity. Connectivity in the       languages. The Times Group’s own Hindi              The print media
rural areas is poor, but some serious effort   language website (,
is now going into addressing that issue. The   for example, has seen its traffic surge over
                                                                                                   in the developed
nation has just issued WiMax licences. That    50 times in just three years. And if all goes       world might be in
and some homegrown solutions – which           as per script, this will perhaps just be the tip
provide wireless connectivity in remote        of the iceberg.
                                                                                                   its sunset stage,
areas using solar energy (a key resource in                                                        but in India it is still
an otherwise power-efficient nation) – are     Changes in India are not occurring in iso-
all happening simultaneously. Put to-          lation but as part of a global phenome-
gether, this means that India is on the        non and some may prove to be revolu-
threshold of a major information revolu-       tionary.                                           world was a challenge, some actually used
tion, which would change the way the                                                              the opportunity to beef up their citizen
country receives and shares information,       We have all heard of citizen journalism            journalism presence.
be it news, views or anything else.            and one can notice the emphasis that most
                                               media are putting on this. At a time when          The results may not have been spectacular,
Not surprisingly, there is huge interest in    costs were forcing media to cut manpower,          yet the potential cannot be underestimated.
news and information websites in regional      and stationing correspondents all over the         The best of media houses can have no more
                                                                                                  than a few thousand correspondents to file
                                                                                                  news and information; with proper citizen
                                                                                                  journalism, that number can theoretically
                                                                                                  be in the millions. Even if you count only
                                                                                                  the number of highest quality, you can get
                                                                                                  thousands of citizen journalists.

                                                                                                  With greater emphasis on local and hyper-
                                                                                                  local news and information, anyone who
                                                                                                  efficiently delivers such information will
                                                                                                  leapfrog over their competitors.

                                                                                                  Of course, there would be quality con-
                                                                                                  cerns and also questions about who is au-
                                                                                                  thorized to share certain types of informa-
                                                                                                  tion, particularly pictures and videos. But
                                                                                                  all these can be addressed, and if handled
                                                                                                  well, I have little doubt citizen journalism
                                                                                                  can be the biggest tool in building not only
                                                                                                  a great content stream, but also great loy-

                                                                                                  I have also heard arguments that when ed-
                                                                                                  itors lose control and we choose to depend
                                                                                                  on what citizen journalists have to offer, we
                                                                                                  lose track of real news. There might be
                                                                                                  some basis for this apprehension, but as
                                                                                                  citizen journalists mature, things may ulti-
                                                                                                  mately look up. Perhaps big media groups
                                                                                                  could invest some time and effort into
                                                                                                  training citizen journalists. This would not
                                                                                                  only ensure that the selection of topics is
                                                                                                  relevant, but the quality can be main-

132     IPI REPORT
                                                                                                 Far Left: Beijing Olympic Gold medalist shooter
                                                                                                 Abhinav Bindra in the newsroom of the Times of
                                                                                                 India, New Delhi as Guest Editor for a day in

                                                                                                 Left: Outstation Broadcasting vans of electro-
                                                                                                 nic news channels are parked near the venue
                                                                                                 of the Trinamool Congress protest rally against
                                                                                                 Tata  Motors’ Singur car factory, Singur, West

                                                                                                 More importantly, the digital media’s abil-
                                                                                                 ity to be measured in a relatively more ac-
                                                                                                 curate manner than other media is a dou-
                                                                                                 ble-edged sword. While you can easily see
                                                                                                 who is getting the numbers and who is not,
                                                                                                 it also means the advertiser is now not sat-
                                                                                                 isfied easily. He wants to dig deeper and is
                                                                                                 willing to pay for results and not just on the
                                                                                                 number of ads being served.

                                                                                                 I believe advertisers will continue to use
                                                                                                 digital media, and even if content is to be
                                                                                                 offered free, quality websites will get read-
                                                                                                 ers, and as a result, advertisers.

However, the way technology is revolu-           just a few months, if not weeks, which has      The future of news is evolving. Those who
tionizing information dissemination, we          aided the shift from print to desktop to mo-    consume news may finally get to have a
would do well to recognize that if the ma-       bile devices. As for mobiles and other          greater say in what, where, when and how
jority wants to know something other than        handheld devices, it would seem they can        they are informed. It is an exciting period.
what editors want to publish, we have to         now perform every function except make          The media has to make the right moves,
accept the majority may find a way.              popcorn. Of course, they can also be used to    make itself more relevant and useful for its
                                                 have voice conversations.                       consumers. The next 10 years will see a
Even without any training, some of the                                                           rapid march in India towards digital media
biggest news, and even some exceptional          It is interesting to see how some have taken    even as print will grow then plateau.
follow-ups, are breaking on Twitter. In          the lead in developing content deliverable
India, for example, during the Mumbai at-        exclusively for these devices, including the
tacks, it was thanks to tweets that most got     sync systems that allow one to get feeds
their initial information and even follow-       tick-marked on a desktop to fly in to their
ups from various vantage points.                 handheld devices to be then read at leisure.

In India’s capital, New Delhi, the traffic po-   The iPad, its clones, and other e-readers,
lice alert drivers about traffic jams through    will continue to evolve to make the reading
tweets. So they are informing the public di-     experience easier, faster and better. Once
rectly and in the process bypassing the FM       the battery life is improved, the number of
or TV channels. In fact, it is these channels    those who rely on these devices to stay in
which sometime follow tweets and report.         touch will catapult into a different league.

The other major benefit of digital media is      While all this is very exciting, it is also a
that it allows users to customize content.       cause for concern. Readers have got so used
Users now have the capability to choose be-      to free content online that getting them to
tween short stories or deep-dive into a sub-     pay for it is a challenge. Can this be sus-
ject, whether they want to access com-           tained on advertisement support alone? No       Rajesh Kalra is the Chief Editor of Times Internet
moditized stuff or opinions.                     one is sure.                                    Ltd, the digital arm of India’s largest media house,
                                                                                                 The Times of India Group. He also heads the lan-
The rapid pace of transformation in the          Initial experience has been that the change     guages initiatives of the Internet arm.
field has reduced the product lifecycle to       in the advertiser’s mind is slow in coming.

                                                                                                                                 IPI REPORT        133
Tags: Aggregated, Derivative, Threatened

Digital Publishing Empowering
a New Technology in Russia,
but is it Journalism?
By Andrei Soldatov

Lack of newsroom resources
has left most Russian news sites
unable to provide substantial
                                     O            n 28 June 2010, the Russian
                                       Supreme Court issued its first-ever guid-
                                       ance for courts to follow on issues related to
                                       the mass media. Experts welcomed the res-
                                       olution, mostly because it guarantees cer-
                                                                                        Almost all the most prominent news web-
                                                                                        sites in Russia were launched between
                                                                                        1999 and 2001 by the oligarchs –
                                                                               by Vladimir Gusinsky,
                                                                               by Boris Berezovsky and
independent journalism.
                                       tain degrees of freedom to the online   by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. At the
Instead, they’re limited to            media. Under its provisions, online media        same time, the think tank the Fund for Ef-
                                       cannot be liable for the readers’ statements     fective Politics (FEP), headed by Gleb
aggregation of news produced
                                       made on their forum pages, as long as the        Pavlovsky, a pro-Kremlin spin doctor,
by the country’s newspapers.           site editors do not moderate comments be-        launched a number of ambitious projects:
                                       fore they’re posted. Thus, the guidelines and, both Internet news-
The Supreme Court recently
                                       stipulate that online media, which is not        papers, and, a Russian national
provided some legal protection         very loyal to the Kremlin, cannot be closed      news service, which was presented as a
                                       down by the government simply because            new kind of media. Its websites succeeded
to online operations, but the
                                       an agent-provocateur published an ex-            in taking leading positions from the outset.
Kremlin is relying on legislation      tremist statement on their forums.
                                                                                        In the late 1990s, there were very few peo-
and regulations to limit the
                                       For optimists, this resolution was a clear       ple who understood the Internet, and not
freedom of journalists and             sign of a positive trend to develop the          surprisingly those responsible for advising
                                       legal conditions for freedom of expres-          oligarchs and new media editors were
bloggers alike.
                                       sion, since the online media in Russia is        often recruited from the same circle. Sud-
                                       considered to be the last stand for democ-       denly they found themselves in the un-
                                       racy. It is the only part of the media that      usual position of being asked to invent the
                                       was able to operate freely since television      rules and then play by them.
                                       came under government control and the
                                       newspaper industry fell into the hands of        Their first task was to define the criteria for
                                       oligarchs loyal to the Kremlin. But the          assessing the impact of the new market.
                                       true reason of the adopted soft line might       These methods of assessment remain ob-
                                       be simpler. The Russian new media are            scure to outsiders. A new industry was
                                       overwhelmingly dependent for their con-          born to provide the online media with the
                                       tent on the few surviving independent            number of customers deemed appropriate
                                       newspapers in Moscow and the regions.            for its investors: Methods ranged from
                                       These sites provide a means of dissemi-          close-to-pornographic banners to pro-
                                       nating the news stories produced by those        gramming tools to increase hits. Not sur-
                                       papers and facilitating discussions about        prisingly, the quality of the journalism was
                                       the coverage.                                    the last thing to be considered. News aggre-

                      Right: A man is arrested in
                      January 2010 during a rally
                      in Moscow that was held in
                      memory of human rights
                      lawyer Stanislav Markelov
                      and journalist Anastasia
                      Baburova, who were slain
                      in 2009.

gators quickly became the most visited
sites in the country.

Not surprisingly, in the early 2000s the on-
line media were not considered a threat to
the Russian authorities’ control of informa-
tion. The turning point was the Nord-Ost
theater hostage crisis in October 2002 and
the disastrous subsequent storming of the
theatre. The Kremlin found itself over-
whelmed by hundreds of news messages
critical of the official version of events, cir-
culated on the Internet and promoted by
news aggregators. This time, the lack of in-
house reporters was not an issue, for the
hostage crisis took place in Moscow and
some editors personally followed the
events. This time, the online technologies          The problem was that online media had no        buying of media by loyal oligarchs and the
enabling the flow of information turned             resources to pay for investigative journal-     introduction of new laws controlling the
against the Kremlin.                                ism and reportage; instead, reporters           press.
                                                    turned into columnists. And the over-
To counterattack, the authorities had to            whelming number of online columnists            In 2006,, then the only news
rely on the same technology as the news             turned out to be highly critical of Russian     website with a fully staffed team of re-
aggregators, but strengthened by the vast           domestic policy.                                porters, was sold to Alisher Usmanov, an
resources of the state-owned media. As part                                                         oligarch and founder of Metalloinvest,
of its strategy, FEP’s projects and        In turn, the Kremlin recruited a new gener-     thought to be close to the Kremlin. were sold in 2002 to the All-Russ-        ation of experts, headed by the young In-
ian State Television and Radio Broadcast-           ternet guru Konstantin Rykov. He proposed       In 2007, Vladimir Putin, then the Russian
ing Company (VGTRK), a state-owned cor-             a new and more aggressive formula for           president, signed a package of amend-
poration building its online media empire.          success – a combination of the same tech-       ments expanding the definition of extrem-
As an attempt to spin public opinion, it            nology of news aggregators plus irreverent,     ism. It was the second set of amendments
clearly failed. Critical stories of Russian and     patriotic columnists, lined up to attack lib-   focusing on extremism to be adopted in
foreign origin kept circulating on the Russ-        erals Fox News-style, strengthened by the       Russia since mid-2006. The amendments
ian Internet, and even a direct counterat-          direct and shameless buying of traffic.         broadened the definition of extremism to
tack could not help.                                                                                include media criticism of state officials
                                                    Some ends were achieved – the news web-         and required news media to label as ‘ex-
By then, the special project of           sites loyal to the Kremlin were promoted to     tremist’ any organisation that the govern-
had been launched to translate stories              high-ratings positions, and Rykov was           ment has banned as such.
favourable to Russian policy and to com-            made a member of the State Duma. At the
pete with The project was es-         same time, the new patriotic media gained       Another amendment expanded the defini-
tablished by Pavlovsky’s FEP and then               neither the popularity of liberal news ag-      tion of extremist activity to include ‘public
handed over to the state-owned RIA                  gregators such as, nor the in-       justification of terrorism or other terrorist
Novosti.                                            fluence that, created by journalists of   activity’. It did not, however, define the
                                                    Ezhednevny Journal, a weekly traditional        term ‘justification’. Other amendments reg-
Over the next two years, the online media           magazine closed down in 2004, enjoyed           ulate the production and distribution of
market was affected by a new develop-               with the elite and the intelligentsia.          ‘extremist’ material, without specifying
ment. In the mid-2000s, more and more                                                               what constitutes such material, and intro-
print journalists were losing their jobs. For       Losing to the competition, the Kremlin          duce new penalties for journalists, media
many, the Internet was the only area where          turned to other means already proven to be      outlets and printers found guilty of the
it was possible to express their opinions.          effective in dealing with newspapers: The       offence. Penalties range from fines and

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT      135
                                                                                                   Russian President Dimitry Medvedev
                                                                                                   addresses the opening ceremony of the
                                                                                                   European and Asian Media Forum in
                                                                                                   Moscow, December 2009.

                                                                                                    Almost all the most
                                                                                                    prominent news
                                                                                                    websites in Russia were
                                                                                                    launched between 1999
                                                                                                    and 2001 by oligarchs.
                                                                                                   pressure, but because of a lack of resources
                                                                                                   to sustain original journalism. The most
                                                                                                   popular online media do not have in-
                                                                                                   house journalists; instead they continue to
                                                                                                   reproduce stories from wire agencies and
                                                                                                   print media. The oppositional political
                                                                                                   projects remain in a minority, possibly the
                                                                                                   best guarantee for survival. Russia’s online
                                                                                                   media continues to be essentially a new
                                                                                                   technology – not a new journalism – at best
                                                                                                   a means of distributing news already pub-
                                                                                                   lished in blogs or traditional media.

confiscation of production equipment, to         largest in Russia, suffered an accident that
the suspension of media outlets for up to        caused flooding of the engine and turbine
90 days.                                         rooms and a transformer explosion; 74
                                                 people were killed. On 20 August, local
Bloggers were among the victims of the           journalist Mikhail Afanasyev, editor of the
new law over the next two years. Savva Ter-      online journal Novy Focus, was charged
entyev, a 22-year-old blogger from the           with slander for distributing ‘intentionally
Komi Republic, faced charges of inciting         false reports’ about the disaster. Afanasyev
hatred after posting a comment on a blog         had been charged less than 24 hours after a
in March 2008, criticising the police. In July   journalist suggested on his site that officials
2009, he was found guilty and received a         were shifting their efforts away from the
suspended sentence of one year.                  search for survivors too quickly.

At the same time, the Kremlin kept trying        Two weeks later, a journalist from Interfax
to find new methods for dealing with the         wire agency was expelled from the area of
blogging community. In May 2009, the             the Sayano-Shushenskaya station for his
‘Kremlin school of bloggers’ was launched,       critical reporting. Instead, the popular
headed by Alexei Chadayev, an associate of       blogger Rustem Adagamov, aka ‘drugoi’,
Pavlovsky. Their graduates are supposed to       was invited to report on the relief opera-        Andrei Soldatov is Co-founder and Editor, Agen-
organise pro-Kremlin information cam-            tion. So he did, reporting favorably for the      tura.Ru, Moscow which covers developments re-
paigns online.                                   authorities. In October, Adagamov was in-         lated to terrorism and the security services in Russia
                                                 vited to join the Kremlin press pool, a pro-      and the former Soviet Union. He is the co-author of
The biggest industrial catastrophe of 2009       posal that he accepted.                           the book “The New Nobility: the Restoration of Rus-
was a striking illustration of the new gov-                                                        sia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the
ernment strategy. On 17 August, Sayano-          Today, the Russian online media looks vul-        KGB” to be released in September 2010.
Shushenskaya hydroelectric station, the          nerable not only because of government

136      IPI REPORT
                                                                             Tags: Independent, Interactive, Investigative

La Silla Vacía Models How
the Internet Encourages
Press Freedom in Colombia
By Juanita León

The first investigative
political blog of this South
American country, La Silla Vacía
                                   C           olombia has changed a great
                                   deal in the last 30 years, in no small part be-
                                   cause of the social mobility spurred by
                                   drug trafficking. The entertainment, busi-
                                   ness and political worlds have evolved and
                                                                                     But La Silla Vacía, the first investigative po-
                                                                                     litical blog in the country, demonstrates to
                                                                                     young Colombians that in the digital era,
                                                                                     when open-source platforms bring down
                                                                                     the news production costs, it is possible to
demonstrates how the Internet
                                   democratized in ways that have surprised          break that monopoly, and create an infor-
lowers the barrier to entry and    even the more skeptical on the Left. The          mation source that is not linked to the eco-
                                   media world remains one of the last bas-          nomic or political elite.
can make it easier to produce
                                   tions of the old elite.
journalism that informs and                                                          La Silla Vacía is an information-based, in-
                                   The family of the new president owns –            teractive site run by journalists. It uses new
                                   with the Spanish Planeta company – the            technologies to build – with the audience –
                                   largest (and until last year the only) na-        better knowledge about how power is exer-
                                   tional newspaper, El Tiempo; the local TV         cised in the country. It also aggregates the
                                   channel, Citytv; and soon will most surely        most interesting new voices about the po-
                                   get the license for a new private TV chan-        litical present and future of Colombia.
                                   nel. The nephew of the president-elect is
                                   the director of the only big news magazine,       La Silla Vacía is a startup, with seven full-
                                   Semana. And the current vice president            time, paid employees. Its audience is
                                   and cousin of Juan Manuel Santos will be          mainly young, professional Colombians
                                   the news director of the largest radio sta-       between 25 and 45 years old, college-edu-
                                   tion, RCN.                                        cated, and interested in public affairs. In
                                                                                     our first year, we have been able to consol-
                                   The second national newspaper, El Espec-          idate an audience that grows steadily
                                   tador, which became a daily a year ago, be-       week-by-week. We now have an average of
                                   longs to the biggest economic conglomer-          370,000 unique users, 860,000 visitors, and
                                   ate, the Santodomingo Group, which owns           more than a million page views a month.
                                   the other big radio station, Caracol, and one     Our average time on site is five minutes 28
                                   of the two national TV channels.                  seconds.

                                   This media concentration creates a high-          In many ways, La Silla Vacía represents a
                                   level entry barrier for other competitors,        model of the media of the future and a
                                   making it seem ‘impossible’ to create an al-      good example of how the Internet encour-
                                   ternative successful media.                       ages press freedom. The democratization of

                                                                                                                IPI REPORT       137
                                                                                                          Below: Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel
                                                                                                          Santos, looks on during his swearing-in ce-
                                                                                                          remony in Bogota, Colombia, 7 August 2010.
                                                                                                          La Silla Vacía tweeted the entire event to its

the distribution channels on the Web has
created a more fair competition in the mar-
ketplace of ideas.

Because there are few media outlets in
Colombia and they are all owned by a small
group of powerful families who share sim-
ilar interests and views, the opportunities
are scarce to air diverse opinions in main-
stream media. With this project, we have
demonstrated that in the 21st Century,
ideas and compelling voices have as much
influence as voiced on our site as when
they are voiced by a traditional outlet.
There is no way to shut someone up.

Take what happened to columnist Claudia
Lopez. She was one the most influential
columnists at El Tiempo, and the leading
investigator of the parapolitics scandal. As
a columnist four years before
the scandal, Lopez was the first to de-
nounce links between members of the po-
litical establishment and the paramilitary
groups. She then moved to the newspaper,
where she had a huge readership. She be-        But in the digital era, social networks are       Only Semana and Cambio magazines were
came a nuisance for the Uribe government        the media. Lopez opened up her blog in La         brave enough to go against the tide, but
and his coalition in Congress. While most       Silla Vacía, and all her readership was able      Cambio folded last year. In that context, La
of her writing was against politicians, one     to follow her online.                             Silla Vacía quickly became another impor-
day she criticized El Tiempo’s coverage of                                                        tant site of reference about politics.
the agricultural subsidies program Agroin-      With the Internet, it is almost impossible to
greso Seguro scandal, saying that it was so     expel someone’s views from the public             It offered not only facts but also an inter-
biased that they seemed to be favoring          arena, because at least for young genera-         pretation of what the facts meant. When so
Juan Manuel Santos’s political aspirations.     tions in Colombia, their media is Facebook        many things happen in a country in transi-
She also said that the newspaper should         and all the important information circu-          tion, explanations are sorely needed. Be-
make its conflict of interests explicit.        lates there. And it’s just as difficult to pre-   cause in Colombia there is a big story every
                                                vent some issues from being covered.              day, it’s easy to miss the fact that most of
Lopez voiced a criticism shared by many,                                                          them are episodes of the three or four same
but her writing outraged the editor-in-         The partial demobilization of paramilitary        big underlying stories. And, without the re-
chief of El Tiempo. He wrote an addendum        forces, important victories against a dimin-      strictions of time or space, the Web is the
to her column, firing her. “If you think this   ished guerrilla force, and a booming econ-        perfect place not only to tell the whole
of this newspaper, we understand that you       omy have created an optimistic atmos-             story but to narrate context. At La Silla, we
are resigning,” he said. And all her columns    phere in the last five years. The downside,       make explicit the narrative threads that
were deleted from the newspaper. In that        after decades of violence perpetrated by          pull the stories together.
moment, Colombians lost a courageous            guerrilla, paramilitary and government
columnist. She wasn’t offered another           forces, is that until recently – when the         We also talk about some issues that are
space by El Espectador or Semana. Hiring        scandals surrounding government were              taboo for mainstream media. For example,
her would have broken the tacit pact            too big to hide – there was an open hostility     we have run several stories on tax exemp-
among media owners to not step on the           toward anyone that could potentially “ruin        tions and tax privileges awarded to compa-
other’s toes.                                   the party.”                                       nies, one of the topics barred from media.

138     IPI REPORT
 For young generations in
 Colombia, their media is
 Facebook, and all the
 important information
 circulates there.
Print media have a big tax break on paper,          And lastly, the Internet provides an oppor-      As Internet guru Jean Francois Fogel has
so they are not so willing to criticize some-       tunity for citizens to politically engage by     said, what the Internet changes is that citi-
thing that they benefit from. But also, pri-        participating in the national conversation,      zens become the promoters of the collec-
vate companies are shielded from public             the strongest guarantee for freedom of ex-       tive conscience as content creators. “Public
debate in great part because they are the           pression.                                        opinion no longer has a mood, but favorite
ones that advertise.                                                                                 sites and connections,” he says. At La Silla
                                                    In mainstream media, the information             Vacía, we expect to be the favorite site of
At La Silla Vacía we cover the intersection         loop is closed, but online media are able to     the most progressive segment of Colom-
of private companies and politics. We were          interject in and reflect an ongoing, open        bian society.
the first to tell the story of the ‘stabilization   conversation. From its start, La Silla Vacía
pacts’ signed by Uribe’s government with            put forth the idea that citizens are not only
the big companies promising them not to             the recipients of information but that they
raise their taxes for 25 years, and we have         can also participate in the creation of the
also pointed out the amount of money in-            message, and in that process get more
vested in tax breaks.                               deeply involved in the political debate.

Another issue that we have covered that is          At La Silla Vacía, each user has his or her
taboo in Colombia is how power is exercised         own profile page, which contains a record
by media. There is a ‘pact of silence’ among        of all his or her contributions to the page.
journalists. We can criticize everything ex-        We have an audience editor, working with
cept each other. At La Silla Vacía, media is        users who submit stories to the page to
not off-limits, which opens up the opportu-         make sure that they meet the journalistic
nity for media to be held accountable.              standards of accuracy, verification and in-
                                                    terest to readers; we have an Urtak tool for
Not only have we tried to cover under-cov-          users to ask and answer survey questions
ered issues, but also in the way we cover           in real time about political issues; and one-
them we try to break barriers people have           third of our story ideas come from users,
to access information. At La Silla Vacía we         who give us tips and information.
believe in the value of unprocessed infor-
mation. That’s why we use every tool to             This experiment in crowdsourcing and
make original documents and reporting               user-generated information decentralize          Juanita León is the Founder and Director of
available to users. We also use open-source         the information in a way that not only re-, the most influential political web-
tools like Ustream to allow users to directly       flects the center of the country, but also the   site in Colombia. She was a Harvard Nieman Fellow
interview our sources. And we use Twitter           regions. It also opens up a path of self-ex-     and is a graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of
to cover important events in real time, so          pression and political engagement for            Journalism. She was the launch editor of Flypme-
that people get direct access to raw infor-         younger Colombians, who are skeptical of, and taught ‘Guerrilla News’ at New York
mation with as little mediation as possible         established media and so often opt out of        University’s School of Journalism.
from journalists.                                   the political debate.

                                                                                                                                    IPI REPORT        139
Tags: Controlled, Independent, Uncensored

Digital Technology Fuels both
Oppressive Governments
and Media Freedom
in Arab World
By Daoud Kuttab

Technology changed the
history of media in Arab
countries by offering
                                     W              hile technology has made a
                                      considerable contribution to media
                                      throughout the globe, it has had a unique
                                      impact in the Arab world. But this impact
                                      has not always been positive.
                                                                                      airwaves, the new rulers made sure no one
                                                                                      else took them over physically or in terms
                                                                                      of content.

                                                                                      Newspapers, which by their nature had a
alternatives to government
                                                                                      narrower audience except among the liter-
controlled communications.            Until the mid-1990s, radio and television       ate residents of major cities, still had govern-
                                      stations that Arabs were able to follow were    mental controls, either directly or indirectly.
                                      mostly government owned. With the ex-           External media was only allowed in the
                                      ception of international radio stations such    country after a thorough read by customs
                                      as BBC, Voice of America and Monte Carlo        minders who, at times, would either deny
                                      radio, hundreds of millions of Arabs were       entry or physically cut out a particular arti-
                                      forced to hear and see protocol news of         cle that was not pleasing to the local rulers.
                                      their presidents and kings leading and
                                      dominating newscasts.                           That was the situation for most Arab coun-
                                                                                      tries, with the exception of Lebanon,
                                      Governments dominated audiovisual               Kuwait and Egypt. But the information rev-
                                      media so much that representatives of           olution forced a lot of change. Some of the
                                      presidents and kings had an office at the       change was in the form of totally new
                                      local radio and TV stations for ease of pass-   media outlets, in other cases the IT revolu-
                                      ing on information and to the state owned       tion had its trickle effects within traditional
                                      and run media. Live interviews were not al-     media outlets as well as helped develop an
                                      lowed for fear that something unscripted        alternative media landscape that is among
                                      could be said.                                  the main forces of change in the Arab
                                                                                      world today.
                                      Governmental control of radio and TV had
                                      its logic in the history of governance in       TV was among the first media to change
                                      many Arab countries. In the post decolo-        due to the information revolution. While
                                      nization phase, many Arab countries wit-        governments could control their own
                                      nessed armed revolts and military coups.        media and prevent printed publication
                                      In most of these revolts, radio stations were   from entry, their ability to stop the air-
                                      among the first institutions, after the pres-   waves, especially with the introduction of
                                      idential palace, to be taken over by the new    satellite television, was impossible. Al
                                      powers. Knowing full well the power of the      Jazeera was born in this atmosphere.

                                                                                                           A BlackBerry user displays the SMS
                                                                                                           sent by his service provider notify-
                                                                                                           ing him of the suspension of ser-
                                                                                                           vices at a mobile shop in Dubai,
                                                                                                           UAE. Saudi and Emirati authori-
                                                                                                           ties’ battle with BlackBerry manu-
                                                                                                           facturer Research in Motion shows
                                                                                                           how rapid changes in technology
                                                                                                           are sowing unease in countries
                                                                                                           where the unfettered flow of data
                                                                                                           is seen as a threat.

The Qataris, who were looking for a way to      informing their visitors of the websites of    tablish alternative media outlets and in cit-
be known, stumbled on a failed attempt by       other Arab newspapers. By accessing these      izen media initiatives.
Saudi businesspeople to produce a joint ef-     Arab newspapers, Web surfers were able to
fort with the BBC. The failed Orbit News op-    find out what was happening in their           Initially the Internet was left under lock
eration in Italy provided the Qataris with a    countries simply by reading what Arab pa-      and key in traditional newspapers as
cadre of professionally trained Arabic          pers outside their own borders were pub-       owners were afraid of this newcomer to
speaking journalists. With little critical      lishing.                                       the information world. But with time, the
news to report on in tiny Qatar, the new                                                       availability of information, which pro-
station was able to deliver professional        Online publications soon followed and in       vided a wider point of view and a much
news by satellite to the entire Arab world.     time provided opposition parties, ideolog-     deeper version than what was being said
                                                ical groups and various others with the op-    locally, caused traditional media owners
The Internet provided yet another oppor-        portunity to make their ideas public. With     and editors to adopt and warm up to the
tunity for Arab news junkies. As it hap-        Internet penetration still low in most Arab    Internet.
pened, all 23 Arab countries were careful       countries, it was important to employ the
about making sure that the local press was      ripple effect. Internet media advocates in     Alternative and citizen media initiatives
under control but could do little to stop any   the Arab world began by trying to encour-      were soon growing in the Arab world.
other Arab media outlet from writing            age Arab journalists, thinkers and writers     When Mahmood Al Yousifi (
about them. With cyberspace outside the         to get online.                                 used Google Earth to show the amount of
control of Arab interior and information                                                       unused land owned by the ruler and un-
ministers, an entirely new opportunity was      Various civil society efforts helped by pur-   available to homeless citizens, the Bahrain
opened up.                                      chasing computers with Internet connec-        government temporarily banned Google
                                                tions and providing public space to allow      Earth.
One of the first efforts began in Palestine.    amplifying voices to obtain information
The Arabic Media Internet News                  online and then reproduce it using tradi-      When Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas got
( was established in 1996 with         tional media. The success of this effort       hold of a cell phone video showing police
the aim of publishing uncensored content.       wasn’t initially evident, but its online       brutality he posted it on his site (Misrdigi-
Their most successful effort was a section      power was soon to be seen in efforts to es-, forcing for the first time

                                                                                                                            IPI REPORT            141
the Egyptian government to try and con-          formed calling for the minister’s resigna-
vict the policeman in the posted video.          tion and within hours attracted thousands
                                                 of fans. A Jordanian version of twitter
Tunisian blogger Sami Ben Gharbieh, with         ( was instrumental in helping
the help of friends and plane-spotting web-      AmmanNet to spread breaking news                 Web surfers were able
sites such as and planepic-         through free SMS messages to thousands of, was able to show how the presi-       cell phone owners.
                                                                                                  to find out what was
dent’s jets made frequent visits to major                                                         happening in their coun-
European capitals between 2001-2007 for          The success of media entrepreneurs in
the Tunisian first lady’s shopping trips, as     using the Internet to circumvent govern-
                                                                                                  tries simply by reading
the autocratic president of Tunisia rarely       ment controls was not without a strong           what Arab papers outside
leaves the country.                              governmental response in most Arab
                                                 countries. While some countries applied
                                                                                                  their own borders were
These individual efforts broke a lot of          strict proxy restrictions banning locally        publishing.
taboos but also brought governmental             produced content from being seen by the
wrath that has included frequent arrests         country’s citizens, or carried out brutal
and restrictions on bloggers, as well as a va-   crackdown actions, the majority of the          While technology has provided the vehicle,
riety of nasty efforts against these citizen     Arab regimes decided to join the revolu-        the future of free media in the Arab world
journalists. But these brave early bloggers      tion.                                           will require a mix of professionalism,
became role models for many and paved                                                            courage and alliance-building. Journalists
the way for more established and sustain-        When it became clear that they couldn’t to-     will have to steer clear of yellow journalism
able alternative media operations.               tally stop many alternative websites, Arab      and muster the courage to take on govern-
                                                 governments decided to either co-opt ex-        ments and interest groups that prefer to op-
One of these efforts took place in Jordan,       isting sites or create their own sites camou-   erate in the dark.
when the first online radio station in the       flaged as independent sites. In some cases,
Arab world was established to counter the        money was made available, as well as tan-
country’s governmental radio monopolies.         talizing local news and various other ef-
While was established in            forts to give these government sites the ap-
the fall of 2000 and was focused primarily       pearance of alternative media.
on local news, it found that its live broad-
casts on pro Palestinian demonstrations          Oppressive governments also used a num-
during the Second Intifada were also of in-      ber of other ways to clamp down on alter-
terest to Palestinian FM radio listeners.        native media. Bloggers and media owners
When Palestinian stations downloaded the         faced various bureaucratic problems that
signal from the Internet and broadcast it        included travel bans, imprisonment and in
terrestrially, Jordanians were able to hear      some cases physical punishment. Bad
the broadcast on their car radios and tran-      mouthing bloggers and spreading false ru-
sistors. The Internet was thus instrumental      mors became the norm in many countries.
in helping break up a governmental mo-           Governments that depend on large funds
nopoly and eventually opened the way for         from external countries encouraged jour-
the licensing of independent and private         nalists and other bloggers to attack these
radio stations.                                  independent media activists by claiming
                                                 that their foreign funding rendered their
Facebook and Twitter gave alternative            efforts unpatriotic.
media activists yet another opportunity to
circumvent government controls. When             While the jury is still out on whether the IT   Daoud Kuttab, a former Ferris Professor of Jour-
the education minister in Jordan made            revolution has strengthened or weakened         nalism at Princeton University, is the director gen-
some nasty remarks in his opposition to at-      media freedom efforts, it is clear that there   eral of Community Media Network, a media NGO in
tempts by public servants to create a            are opportunities, especially for young Arabs   Jordan and Palestine.
teacher’s union, a Facebook group was            who are the majority of the population.

142      IPI REPORT
                                                                                     Tags: Entrepreneurial, Independent

NN24: Birth of an African
By Anthony Dara

This new, 24-hour global news
channel serves Nigeria and
viewers across Africa with
                                O            n the African continent, entre-
                                preneurs must be tenacious and overtly in-
                                genious to succeed. As professional and
                                complete as it may appear to viewers, NN24
                                is just out of the starting blocks in its march
                                                                                  world often gets distorted information
                                                                                  about the successes, failures and dreams of
                                                                                  the continent from outside media whose
                                                                                  journalists, even when trying hard, are ill-
                                                                                  informed about our history and issues.
independent information about
                                to be a global news channel from Africa.
the country and its people.     We can and must grow our coverage and             In 2005, my ambitions for this project were
                                depth. NN24 (Network News 24) is Nigeria’s        crystallized from reading a BBC article/ed-
                                first 24-hour, seven-day-a-week news              itorial written by its then country represen-
                                channel, the channel operates out of Lagos,       tative in Nigeria, Anna Borzello. She said
                                Nigeria and is distributed via direct to          that Nigeria was so vast, multicultural, and
                                home satellite service by DStv in Nigeria         multi-layered in all aspects, that it was im-
                                and a number of countries on the conti-           possible to accurately tell stories about the
                                nent. The chanel produces its news con-           nation. She lamented the misinformation
                                tent, gathers news and information content        that crept into so many reports. This redi-
                                from CNN Newsource and Reuters.                   rected my initial dream of building a gen-
                                                                                  eral entertainment television channel.
                                However the channel aims to produce up
                                to 80 percent of its own content, consider-       Our journey took twists and turns through
                                ing the vast amount of unreported stories         ups and downs, starts and false starts. The
                                in Africa. And it will also establish bureaus     intensity of this cannot be over emphasized
                                in a number of African countries as means         in the Nigerian business environment. I
                                of achieving this objective.                      took for granted there is an electricity issue.
                                                                                  But it was, nonetheless, a big shock that we
                                When I first mentioned the idea to friends        had to provide our own power even at a
                                and colleagues, many told me I was a tele-        rented training facility. Think of the irony
                                vision engineer with an outlandish dream.         that one of the world’s largest energy pro-
                                But I knew the time had come for such an          ducers – oil – can supply but a fraction of
                                enterprise to be the voice of and for             the internal power needed to move the
                                Africans. The progress of Africa and her          country to meet its full potential. Africa
                                people has been pushed to the background          needs new enterprises like ours, but the
                                in almost all areas of media; there is too        lack of basic infrastructure keeps most in
                                much emphasis in global media on issues           the “dream” stage of development.
                                such as famine relief, refugee issues and the
                                intervention of Western military to solve         NN24 is built on highly skilled and trained
                                problems, which, incidentally, are often the      manpower, modern technology, sensible
                                result of Western meddling in African af-         budget and low investment risks. First of
                                fairs. As if that is not negative enough, the     all, I come from a very strong technological

                                                                                                             IPI REPORT      143
                                                                                                                    Right: NN24 Reporter
                                                                                                                    Mike Dibie

                                                                                                                    Below: NN24 News Anchor
                                                                                                                    Kazode Alayande

background, having studied for a Higher        content we produce is high definition (HD)      Our business model is designed so that the
National Diploma (HND) in Electronics and      ready. We have invested heavily in training     cost of operation is covered by income
Telecommunications and a Bachelors of          and capacity building.                          through advertisement and sponsorship.
Science (BSc) in Broadcast Technology. I                                                       The concept is built around low margin on
had the full understanding of “how-it-         Every one of our young Nigerians went           large volume and we pre-sold a block of
works” from the outset. And with 16 years      through training on how to write stories,       time to an ad-buy agency to guarantee in-
of work and experience in broadcasting I       report, shoot and edit them. They multi-        come for the first three years. This model
saw a credible chance to succeed. I am also    task in every facet of the job. Their employ-   makes the company quite viable. This was
privileged to have had the assistance of an    ment contracts stipulate high standards of      accomplished before the investment drive.
ex-vice president of CNN as the tireless and   professionalism and commitment to per-          Investors in Nigeria were happy to commit
innovative project manager. Kenneth Tiven      formance improvement. More importantly,         money to the project.
came on board with me very early in this       there is zero tolerance for corrupt practices
project.                                       in journalism. We pay the best wages in tel-    We have a staff strength of 120 people se-
                                               evision in Nigeria as part of this commit-      lected from nearly 5,000 who applied for
The NN24 team is young, energetic and          ment. We also have well defined, simple-        jobs. It took us about twelve months go on
fresh. We resisted taking experienced          to-understand gift policy, a copy of which      air and the unintended consequence of the
hands. The basic strategy was to give the      can be found on our website                     delays was that from day one we looked
enterprise the opportunity of an uncom-        ( NN24 is an affiliate partner     grown up. Our output has been quite re-
promised beginning devoid of old and bad       of CNN, and through this partnership, staff     markable, and thousands of SMS messages
habits. Our approach with new technology       of the company has the opportunity to at-       confirm the happy disbelief of so many
required that we do just that. Our opera-      tend a CNN Fellowship for three weeks at        Nigerians that this is really a Nigerian
tions are fully digital, automated and the     its USA headquarters in Atlanta.                channel on the DStv distribution platform.

144     IPI REPORT
                                                                                Most television
                                                                                news in Nigeria is
                                                                                provided by state
                                                                                broadcasters, and
                                                                                they will not say
                                                                                anything negative
                                                                                about people in
Two days after going on air on the 3 May        hitting with investigative reporting, cover-     away from the fact and reality of the
2010, we reported the death of the late Pres-   age of human rights issues, justice, develop-    African situation of corruption, war,
ident Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. For many TV          ment and seeking answers from people in          famine, bad governance as it exists every-
viewers we broke the news first. We have        positions of authority across all sectors –      where in the world, but we will put these in
24 news bulletins every day at the top of       public and private – about their actions and     the right and non-demonising context as
the hour. At half past the hour we produce      inactions. We seek and report public opin-       the case has often been. We are mindful
other news programmes in sports, enter-         ion on issues of the day . News in Nigeria is    that Al Jazeera English and the growing
tainment, documentary and business. They        heavily centered in favour of who is doing       number of news channels have expanded
cover a lot about Nigeria and the rest of the   what in government and politics. Most tel-       coverage of global issues, East and West, in
continent. And very importantly, all stories    evision news you get in Nigeria is by state      rich and poor nations.
we bring to viewers, whether local or inter-    broadcasters and they will not say anything
national, we do so with an African perspec-     negative about people in government. Con-        Good things are happening in Africa. The
tive. We are grouped on DST with the inter-     tent is heavy on commissioning of roads,         2010 World Cup held in South Africa has
national news channels, where we belong,        unfurnished hospital buildings, schools, etc.    been adjudged the best so far! Corruption
and our viewers seem to agree.                  Our viewers are happy that we cover stories      is being punished in Nigeria today. Only a
                                                of the ordinary people.                          handful of African countries now have un-
Just a few months after launching in Nige-                                                       democratic leadership. Africa is on the
ria, NN24 received pan-African distribution     We have done things our way, it has not          move and NN24 will march in step with
via DStv and we are expanding distribution      been business as usual. It amazes people         this spirit.
to the rest of the world. Work is in progress   that, unlike the practice in so many media
on the NN24 website and also in develop-        organisations in Nigera, we refuse to take or
ment is an NN24 mobile phone application        give money for stories we report. Impor-
for iPhones, Blackberry and Android de-         tantly, the editorial team is very independ-
vices.                                          ent of the management of the business. The
                                                structure does not allow me as the Chief
The initial quality must be sustained and       Executive of the company to influence
improved. We are in the precarious situa-       what news is carried and what is not. The
tion of managing the high expectations of       newsroom decides and in every case it up-
people who believe we have saved the in-        holds the tenet of hearing all sides to be
dustry, at least in Nigeria, from the low       equal on all sides.
standards of television both privately and
publicly owned. Following launch, many of       On our logo in between the 2 and 4 is a
the television stations have improved their     cube. The cube is equal on all sides: equal to
quality, some are changing programme            all and that is what we strive to do. The
styles and daring to try new ways. The reg-     colour of the logo, silver and red, symbol-
ulators point to us as an example of how        ises the silver-lining of hope and prosperity
television should be done.                      over the dark cloud, while red is for the
                                                constant struggle of the African.                Anthony Dara is the founder and Chief Executive
The human angle stories are a hit with our                                                       of NN24. Born in Bwari, Nigeria and a broadcast
viewers. We have been surprised that no         I truly hope that NN24 after 60 years of         engineer by training, Dara has worked in the news-
one has complained about the lack of gov-       world press freedom will become the bea-         room environment and has been involved with
ernment propaganda, which dominates tra-        con of hope for the continent in the main-       journalism for many years.
ditional Nigerian media. We have been hard      stream media of the world. We will not shy

                                                                                                                              IPI REPORT       145
Tags: Customized, Personalized, Shared

Tracking the New York
Rangers Hockey Team from
Toyko: A Personal Tale of
Media Consumption
By Takashi Tanemura

As important as mobile devices
and other digital delivery
mechanisms are to news
                                         A            s a boy growing up in a coun-
                                         try where my native language was almost
                                         non-existent, it was very difficult to get an
                                         idea what was going on. Before moving to
                                         New York, I remember reading the sports
                                                                                          Fast-forward 10 years to when I started
                                                                                          working: News became a part of my daily
                                                                                          life. At breakfast, I was getting news from
                                                                                          television through my ears while my eyes
                                                                                          were on the newspaper. I was commuting
consumers in Japan, the print
                                         sections of newspapers as a first grader in      from my parents’ home, so I was on the
editions of newspapers remain            Japan. But in the early 70s, with no satellite   train for 30-40 minutes every weekday and
                                         transmission available to print newspa-          did some reading when I was not too tired.
a highly valued source of both
                                         pers from overseas, subscribing to home-
scanning and deep reading.               town newspapers was too expensive for            The first change in my news consumption
                                         the average Japanese household in New            habits came when many cable operators
                                         York.                                            spread their service with the launch of
                                                                                          satellite broadcasting. CNN started their
                                         As I started to learn English, I remember        international service and a couple of do-
                                         clipping an article from the newspaper and       mestic media groups started a 24-hour
                                         writing a short summary to explain it in         news channel. The penetration was low in
                                         class as homework every week. As I recall,       Japan, but my residential area had a service
                                         sports were not allowed and my parents’          and we subscribed to it, making news
                                         New York Times subscription put me in a          available 24/7.
                                         tougher spot than the kids who were able
                                         to clip articles from the city’s easier-to-un-   Next came the Internet, of course, fol-
                                         derstand tabloids. Still, it was a very good     lowed by mobile. NTT Docomo started the
                                         way for me to get started with news.             mobile Web service called “i-mode” in
                                                                                          Japan and the content providers were able
                                         By the time I moved back to Tokyo, I was         to charge their content on Docomo’s
                                         11 years old and still had a passion for New     phone bills. News outlets developed serv-
                                         York sports teams. In the days before the        ices tailored for small screens, and getting
                                         Internet, following them from Tokyo was          news on the go became an instant hit.
                                         not easy. The only medium available for          When Japanese carriers provided a fixed
                                         free was the Far East Network, part of the       price Internet connection on their mobile
                                         Armed Forces Radio and Television Net-           services, consumers were able to access
                                         work, so that was where I went for the US        the Internet without fear of being charged
                                         sports news.                                     a big data transmission fee. The richness

                                                                                                  Even in the digital
                                                                                                  era, the news-
                                                                                                  paper’s role is the
                                                                                                  same. Readers
                                                                                                  want to be on the
                                                                                                  same page
                                                                                                  as every other
and quality of the content improved dra-         case. If not, doing nothing at all for eight    to discover news you never knew to look
matically.                                       minutes isn’t so bad.                           for on your own. In addition, reading news
                                                                                                 that’s selected by professionals puts you in
The latest twist is smart phones. They made      In the four years I spent at the Nikkei Media   touch with the current topics everybody is
mobile computing possible and web serv-          Lab, I got a look at some of the assumptions    reading and talking about. That factor is
ices like Twitter and Facebook became eas-       about – and actual behavior of – other          often overlooked in a lot of the talk about
ier to update and read real time in a mobile     news consumers in Japan.                        customization.
environment. One of the general interest
newspapers in Japan, Sankei Shimbun, has         For starters, we assumed there would be a       Our new online service, The Nikkei Online
an iPhone app that enables users to browse       lot of customization and personalization of     Edition, has a customization function
the paper’s print layout.                        news – just like that viral Web video, EPIC     called “My NIKKEI”. It recommends news
                                                 2014, predicted with depiction of a Google-     based on your reading habits as well as
How have all these tools and new technol-        zon future. After the video was posted (by      such demographics as age, job and indus-
ogy altered the way I get my news? Well, it      former Poynter interns Robin Sloan and          try. As essential as we believed this service
has changed the way I track the New York         Matt Thompson), we gathered some indus-         would be, our user surveys and access logs
Rangers. Online, I’m able to access most of      try professionals to discuss it before we put   tell another story. It has not become very
the New York newspapers’ sports sections         together some ongoing research to test          popular in our service. We need to pro-
and to read specialized publications about       some of EPIC’s ideas. In addition to person-    mote this feature more effectively, but our
the team. My RSS feed means I don’t even         alization and customization, we thought         surveys indicate that our readers want to
have to visit newspaper sites to check the       people would take advantage of easy-to-         read the same information that is in the
beat writers’ blogs anymore.                     use Web tools to do a lot of commenting         print newspapers.
                                                 about the news and writing their own
But the biggest change in my media con-          pieces. In the three years we conducted this    Along the way, we’ve learned that a news-
sumption had more to do with my com-             research (2005-2007) in Japan, it just didn’t   paper company’s role is the same in the
mute to work than any changes in technol-        happen.                                         digital era as it has always been. Readers
ogy. By moving into the center of the city,                                                      want the judgment from the newspaper
my time on the train dropped from 40 min-        Two dimensions of news consumption ap-          company so they can be on the same page
utes to just eight minutes. Since the train is   peared especially valued by readers and         with every other reader. Our surveys
usually crowded in the morning, I don’t          users. In an era when you can find all sorts    showed that the main purpose of subscrib-
want to bother taking something from my          of information online, the judgment of ex-      ing to our digital service is to read the same
briefcase to read. Instead, I pull my phone      perienced editors about what is really im-      contents from the print edition on a digital
from my pocket and do my daily Sudoku,           portant becomes especially valuable.            device. Although we provided digital fea-
assuming I’m able to put down my brief-          Serendipity is also important – the chance      tures like search, clipping and scrap/save,

                                                                                                                           IPI REPORT      147
                        Page 147: The New York
                        Rangers in action against
                        the Philadelphia Flyers,
                        11 April 2010.


they were not the main reasons users sub-

From The Poynter Institute’s “Eyetracking
the News” study, I learned that a newspaper
reader is either a scanner or a reader. The
print newspaper of today is the ultimate
product that has been upgraded constantly
for the last hundred years. It saves the
scanners time as they get a handle of what’s
going on in the world. It’s also a platform
that seems to give readers the feeling that
they have some time to spend with it.

How might news consumption change
over the next decade?

The former chief of the Nikkei Media Lab
told us that he doesn’t scan the newspaper          the stories that they found interesting on
himself anymore. He relies on his commu-            their mobile devices during their com-
nity in Mixi, the largest Japanese social           mutes. With short, summarized news for-
network service. If there’s an important            mats developed for smart phones, the re-
article in today’s Nikkei, someone men-             verse pattern might also take hold – with
tions it on the bulletin board and he fol-          readers scanning on their mobiles and re-
lows up and reads the story. He says that’s         lying on print editions for more extended
a time-saver for him, but I’m not sure his          reading.
calculations include time spent on the
bulletin board.                                     In fact, as important as new media is to the
                                                    distribution of news in Japan, digital tech-
The wisdom of relying on friends to scan            nology has a long way to go to catch up
the news for you has a lot to do with the           with the role of printed newspapers. Sure,
news you’re looking for – and how much              I’d be out of luck tracking the Rangers if I
trust you have in those friends. If you’re not      had to rely on the sports section of the
sure of your own capacity – or your friends’        newspaper that shows up on my doorstep
– to filter your news diet, then I’d say a          every morning. To tell you the truth,
newspaper company saves you time by at              though, there just aren’t that many Rangers
least getting you the minimum informa-              fans in my Toyko neighborhood.
tion that you need.
                                                    Although it sometimes seems that the as-
Mobile devices are leading to some inter-           cension of digital is not that far away, re-   Takashi Tanemura works in new business devel-
esting changes among our customers. To              placing the prized product – the printed       opment at the Digital Planning and Strategy Bureau
save time, many of them scan the print              newspaper – might need more time than          of Nikkei, Inc. in Tokyo.
edition at home in the morning and read             you think.

148      IPI REPORT
                                                                                                  Take-aways from Chapter Three:

10 Waypoints Tagged to
the Future of News
By Bill Mitchell

A            s I finished reading this final chapter, I found myself
visualizing pins on a map.

Some mark the datelines of stories recounted here. Others show
the taglines from the top of those articles, each suggesting a way-
                                                                       2. Partnered: As Endy Bayuni points out, “In this…wired world,
                                                                       professional journalists have to share the field.” That creates op-
                                                                       portunity for alliances that can (a) enhance the information they
                                                                       provide, (b) avoid pointless duplication, (c) keep costs low and (d)
                                                                       stay in business. Some of these partnerships will involve individ-
                                                                       ual readers, viewers, listeners and users anxious to volunteer their
                                                                       efforts; others will involve deals with NGOs, universities and com-
                                                                       petitors. Partnerships you haven’t considered but might?
point for navigating the future of news.
                                                                       3. Linked: It’s the heart of the Web, of course, but its potential re-
Reviewing those tags revealed no single, overriding theme. In-         mains mostly unrealized by news organizations. What would it
deed, our attempt to pull common threads from the essays pro-          take to become the leading network of networks in your commu-
duced a list of tags several score in length. No main highway, in      nity?
other words, but signposts for many still emerging routes for
news.                                                                  4. Engaged: Many news organizations are doing a better job of en-
                                                                       gaging their audiences, partly by accepting the contributions of
I’ve selected 10 tags, or themes, that appear to be most important     time and talent volunteered in the form of crowdsourcing, user-
for the target audience of this report – the women and men lead-       generated content and social media. But there’s opportunity for a
ing media enterprises of various shapes and sizes around the           next step in engagement, getting journalism closer to its ultimate
world. Some of the tags mentioned below are listed frequently in       purpose of serving civic life. That’s the linkage between news and
the report, others just once or twice.                                 action: How can you do a better job helping users transform the
                                                                       news you provide into action required to govern themselves well?
Your list of critical themes – and questions – will be different.
Here’s mine:                                                           5. Innovated: The report includes many examples of new initia-
                                                                       tives by media organizations around the world. As Dan Gillmor
1. Processed: It sounds awfully industrial, but as news in various     points out, “You can innovate by being more efficient or thorough,
forms becomes more abundant, the remaining scarcity – and              not just by inventing new technologies… Innovators often con-
value – lies in what journalists do with it. Most of the following     nect dots where others can’t imagine the connections.” If your or-
tags flow from that notion – processing the raw material of news       ganization were really focused on innovation, what dots might the
into services and products that hold real value to various stake-      entrepreneurs in your midst help you connect?
                                                                       6. Independent: This word shows up frequently in the preceding
The Web has enhanced the distribution of unprocessed informa-          pages, reflecting a core value linked to the credibility of news. To
tion, too, and Juanita León describes the value of such original       the extent journalists are able to maintain their independence,
data and documents in her essay about La Silla Vacía, the startup      they enhance their ability to maintain their primary allegiance to
news site she runs from Bogotá. Paul Bradshaw describes a model
that starts with data and adds value with computer processing and
the sort of sophisticated analysis that newsrooms need to “skill up”
on. What’s the most important new process you and your team
need to get good at?

                                                                                                                          IPI REPORT      149
                                                                        rest. Six days later, Yuen-ying Chan reports that fierce objections
                                                                        from Chinese bloggers and journalists led police to drop the war-
                                                                        rant and apologize.

                                                                        ● Rangoon, where correspondents for Mizzima News work at
their audiences. As journalism changes, it’s hardly surprising that     great risk, filing reports surreptitiously to editors based in India,
users wonder where journalists’ loyalties lie. How will you make        Thailand and Bangladesh. Mizzima’s accounts of life inside Burma
clear to your audiences just where you stand?                           show how digital tools can be used “to evade authoritarian con-
                                                                        trols, both in gathering information and delivering it to those who
7. Trusted: Users place their highest trust in content that’s recom-    need it most,” reports Soe Myint.
mended by people they trust. That content includes news, analysis,
and advertised products, among other things. How will you help          Our speculation about the future of news should be informed, and
your customers learn what’s trusted by their friends and neigh-         humbled, by the track record of previous prognosticators. Not all
bors? How will you earn more of their trust in what you and your        of our hunches have played out quite the way we expected they
colleagues produce?                                                     would.

8. Investigated: Investigative reporting represents one of journal-     At Grocott’s Mail, a small paper in South Africa, editor Stephen
ism’s most refined processes: it requires extraordinary expertise to    Lang expected that “civic activism” would motivate the citizen
sift meaning from raw data and info too jumbled or concealed to         journalism made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
make sense otherwise. Investigative reporting remains a franchise       In fact, he found that “the driving force for citizen journalists in our
that professional journalists are well positioned to lead, especially   area is the prospect of gainful employment.”
with help from their audiences. How might you collaborate with
users on investigations into the most critical issues facing your       In Japan, Takashi Tanemura reports that Nikkei’s media re-
communities?                                                            searchers expected to find significant user interest in customized
                                                                        and personalized news. Instead, they were surprised to find read-
9. Trained: None of the above will happen magically. Staff mem-         ers of online news mostly interested in getting the same news that
bers and contributors alike need new skills. Rajesh Kalra urges         their friends and neighbors were reading in print editions.
training for citizen journalists “that would not only ensure that se-
lection of topics is relevant, but (that) quality can be maintained.”   Speaking of surprises, what surprised me most about these 42 es-
How will you and your users get the training required for good and      says is the impact they’ve had on my own view of journalism’s fu-
profitable answers to the questions in this list?                       ture.

10. Sustained: Done right, all of the above will create substantial     I still believe our profession faces a chaotic transition. Exactly how
new value to users, advertisers and other stakeholders. What’s the      people will get the news and information they need remains an
linkage, in your operations, between the sort of innovation sug-        open question.
gested above and your bottom line?
                                                                        But the report has shown me how some of the chaos is giving way
Making progress in these areas will not be easy, especially in coun-    to clarity, revealing a global media landscape where the news
tries without a strong tradition of independent media. Several of       about news is not so much bleak as breaking, revealing innovative
the essays describe some early progress, highlighted by a few more      approaches – especially in the ten areas highlighted above -- that
pins on the map:                                                        are starting to grab some traction.

● Lagos, where NN24, Nigeria’s first 24-hour news channel, is fo-       We’re entering an exciting new chapter of a fast-moving, high-
cusing on people as opposed to institutions, challenging local tra-     stakes story. Its promise is beginning to outweigh its peril.
ditions by excluding both advertisers and the station’s CEO (our
author, Anthony Dara) from any decisions about news coverage.

● Shanghai, where reporter Qiu Ziming’s aggressive reporting
about a major manufacturing company prompted local authori-
ties, at the request of the company, to issue a warrant for Qiu’s ar-

150     IPI REPORT
Image Credits
Photo material was researched by the International Press institute. Every effort has been made to identify copyright holders, in case
of oversight, and upon notification to the publisher, corrections will be made in subsequent printings and online editions. All photos
are from iStock unless otherwise specified. Headshots were supplied by the individual contributors.

7                 Associated Press / Mark Lennihan                 86                Photo Courtesy of POLITICO
9                                          87                Photo Courtesy of POLITICO
13                Guardian News & Media 2010                       88                Photo Courtesy of Lou Ureneck
14                YouTube                                          89                Photo Courtesy of Lou Ureneck
16                Photo courtesy of Demotix                        90 Top            Photo Courtesy of Lou Ureneck
19                Associated Press / Al Grillo                     90 Bottom         Photo Courtesy of Lou Ureneck
20                Robin Hamman via Flickr                          93                BBC News Online
21                Associated Press / Alex Brandon                  94      
23                Associated Press Lefteris Pitarakis              96                Matt Paker via Flickr
24                Associated Press Khalid Tanveer                  97                Misha Japaridze / Associated Press
27                Photo Courtesy of London Underground             99                Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2010
28                Associated Press / Mark Lennihan                 100     
31                Associated Press / Anon                          102               Poynter Institute
34                Associated Press / Marco Ugarte                  103               Poynter Institute
35                Associated Press / Paul Sakuma                   104               Poynter Institute
37                Associated Press / Anon                          108               Associated Press / Marcelo Hernandez
39                Associated Press / Charles Rex Abrogast          110               Photo Courtesy of TBD
40                Photo Couresty of St Petersburg Times            111               All Photos Courtesy of TBD
43                                            114               Yazhou Zhoukan
46                Associated Press / Anon                          115               Yazhou Zhoukan
47                Associated Press / Joel Ryan                     117     
48                Associated Press / Max Nash                      120               Photo Courtesy of Grocott’s Mail
51                Associated Press / Alastair Grant                121               Photo Courtesy of Grocott’s Mail
53                Associated Press / Marco Ugarte                  123               Photo Courtesy of City Press
55                Associated Press / Vincent Thian                 124               Photo Courtesy of City Press
61                Photo Courtesy of Gazeta Wyborcza                125               Photo Courtesy of A24 Media
62                Photo Courtesy of Gazeta Wyborcza                126               Photo Courtesy of A24 Media
63                Photo Courtesy of Gazeta Wyborcza                127               Photo Courtesy of A24 Media
64                Associated Press / Shakil Adil                   130               All Photos Courtesy of Mizzima News
65                                       132               The Times of India Group 2010
65                Photo Courtesy of Ushahidi                       133               The Times of India Group 2010-09-06
66                Associated Press / James L. Harper J             135               Associated Press / Misha Japaridze
69                Photo Courtesy of The Jakarta Post               136               Associated Press / Mikhail Klimentyev
70                Photo Courtesy of The Jakarta Post               138               Associated Press / Fernando Llando
72 Bottom Left                                    141               Associated Press / Anon
72 Top            Itetrekker via Flickr                            144               Photo Courtesy of NN24
73                Itetrekker via Flickr                            145               Photo Courtesy of NN24
76                                          147               Associated Press / Alastair Grant
78                Associated Press / Paul Sakuma                   148     
80                Anthony Nelzin via Flickr
81                Anthony Nelzin via Flickr
82                Associated Press / Pavel Golovkin
83 Top  
83 Left 

                                                                                                                            IPI REPORT   151

                   T     his project would not have been possible without the enthusiasm, dedication and
                   generosity of many people and we are grateful for their assistance.

                   First of all we would like to thank all of the contributors who generously donated their
                   time and expertise to write these articles for no payment, just a shared passion for jour-
                   nalism and its future.

                   A special thanks to our partners at Poynter, Bill Mitchell and Julie Moos, whose infec-
                   tious enthusiasm and hard work helped turn “Brave News Worlds” from a concept into a
                   reality. And to IPI Conference Manager Michael Kudlak, who prepared the initial report
                   concept and proved a calming influence during the project’s final days.

                   To Lindenau Productions and in particular, Peter Kitschmer, who tirelessly, patiently
                   and meticulously laid out the report, and to Stefan Fuhrer who continues to support IPI,
                   donating his time and creativity to the design of the report.

                   I would like to thank personally Louise Hallman for lending her support in search of
                   pictures and painstaking final proofreading.

                   Thanks also to the Associated Press and numerous photographers on Flickr, both ama-
                   teur and professional, for donating the use of their photos, and last but not least to the
                   team of Druckerei Holzhausen for their all their help in printing the final report.

                                                                                           Lauren Dolezal
                                                                      Commissioning and Production Editor

Photo: Wien-Tourismus/Claudio Alessandri

                                           Vienna: Harmony
                                           of Old and New

                                           One in two companies choosing a business location in Austria
                                           opts for Vienna. No wonder: international surveys confirm our city’s
                                           outstanding quality of life. The Austrian capital offers high technol-
                                           ogy and high culture, ample green space as well as safety and secu-
                                           rity in daily life. Combining this with the flair of a former imperial
                                           city, Vienna is a unique place to live and work — both comfortable and
                                           cosmopolitan. For more information, go to

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