Category Archives: Online Journalism Lectures

Is blogging journalism?

The most contentious argument put forward at last night’s debate, Science in the Media: rude or ailing health?, was not about specifically about science, but focussed on the credibility of blogging.

Science Media Centre’s Fiona Fox asserted that blogging is not journalism – a comment which raised a few eyebrows in City University’s lecture theatre, where the debate was being held.

Quite rightly, The Economist’s Natasha Loder pointed out that blogging is a platform akin to television. Therefore, if somebody takes the time to investigate a story using journalistic skills and then publishes their findings on a blog, that blog is journalism.

But one audience member argued that many blogs were bias or not thoroughly investigated pieces of journalism, so how can the reader judge the credibility of a blog they are reading?

Even award-winning blogger Ed Yong said he has not always treated his blog stories with the same degree of scrutiny that he would an article he writes for a magazine – i.e. making a few calls to answer any lingering questions from a release. But he also argued that hyperlinks strengthen the validity of online articles because the reader can trace the roots of the story through links.

Like Yong, I don’t tend to investigate my blog stories with the same degree of scrutiny as I would in the newsroom and I was pleased to hear I wasn’t alone in feeling guilty about it. Perhaps it is due to the personal nature of a blog — my audience is mainly me.



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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution? Sixth and final part

There is an argument to suggest the increase of free news is lowering the standards of journalism because they increase the availability of lightweight, celebrity-focused free papers such as London Lite or online news gatherers.

From a business point of view, with more people reading lightweight news, less are likely to pay for better quality journalism. The fact circulation figures are dropping supports this argument.

In spite of that, the internet is a tool which can enrich journalism. Yes, the media is downsizing in some areas, but it is investing in online journalism.  Recently, the Telegraph Media Group recruited former Sunday Times news editor turned internet entrepreneur Greg Hadfield as its head of digital development.

So is good journalism going to be the first casualty of the digital revolution? The internet offers a whole host of new challenges to journalists, but it also offers new opportunities.

There will always be a need for quality journalism from trustworthy sources and there will always be high calibre journalists willing to write good stories, whether they profit financially or not.

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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media? Part five

251789400_97a89e0b2e_oExposés from bloggers like Matt Drudge have a potential to encourage greater transparency in the media. But his critics say he merely runs a clippings service linking to other people’s stories and he became famous by attacking more conventional reporters.

They say amateur journalists risk the integrity of professional journalism and reduce its already low trustworthiness. Professor Richard Tait said professional journalism is defined, in part, by maintaining standards and ethics. This includes abiding by media law and codes of conduct, which citizen journalists are unlikely to do, or even know.

One way of improving the quality of citizen journalism is for media groups or colleges to offer courses, something, which The Oakland Press in America is doing. It teaches the basics of reporting for news and sport, as well as skills in storytelling and photography.

And in Britain, the new Joint Journalism Training Council is being launched to help develop journalism training for converged media, but they said key skills such as news sense, research, interviewing, law and ethics will continue to be the focus of its syllabus.

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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media? Part four

On My Telegraph, readers mainly discuss current affairs but the internet as a whole allows anybody to start their own news blog and become a citizen journalist.

Matt Drudge exposed that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan

The Drudge Report broke the news about Prince Harry in Afghanistan

New York University journalism professor, Jay Rosen said citizen journalism is: “When the people, formerly known as the audience, employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.”

Ian Hargreaves wrote in Journalism: Truth or Dare “[Web journalism] has placed the power to shake the mighty in the hands of individuals or small groups: a welcome, if provisional, antidote to media concentration, the hegemony of business values, and the complacency into which all professional groups fall from time to time.”

Last year, American online journalist Matt Drudge broke the news on his site the Drudge Report that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan, even though all forms of British media had signed up to a reporting embargo to protect him.

The story had already been reported by a celebrity website in Australia called New Idea, although it went largely unnoticed at the time.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British army, said he was very disappointed foreign websites ran the story without consulting them.

He said: “This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude that the whole of the UK print and broadcast media, along with a small number overseas, who have entered into an understanding with us over the coverage of Prince Harry on operations.”

Mr Drudge claims he offers reliable and unbiased instant news. Indeed, political journalist Charles Reiss said truth breeds trust. He said: “There’s a gap between the picture people get of politicians from the media and from their own experience.”

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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media? part three

Although online content is delivered quickly, too much haste could risk the fairness and accuracy fundamental to good journalism. 

During the inquest into the death of Baby P some people wanted to name and shame his parents hosts My Telegraph, on which readers can write their own blogs and exchange ideas with other Telegraph readers. A journalist who works on the comment desk at the Telegraph, said My Telegraph blogs can be difficult to moderate.

She said it was almost a catch-22 position during the inquest of Baby P, when many bloggers wanted to name and shame his parents.

But a court order ruled their names were to be kept private, so My Telegraph had to find and remove the offending blogs. As a result, some of those readers were annoyed and continued to repost the names. My Telegraph could not tell them why exactly the names could not be published, because it would be in contempt of court.

Judge Steven Hopkins said: “The most important contribution journalists can make is to be accurate. Inaccuracies cause [courts] awful problems. If something is badly written you might have to pull the trial.” And he said apart from the financial cost, there is the emotional cost of somebody having to give evidence again.

So journalists publishing straight onto their blogs, without sub-editors, must be more alert than ever about legal and grammatical mistakes. They also have to make sure its readers, who are now participants, write within the law.

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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media? part two

Nicholas Brett, Group Editorial Director of BBC Magazines said good journalism is about putting the reader first.

2668080665_8c925d2b06So, while the Daily Telegraph newspaper used to have one deadline, now has multiple deadlines, because it understands people want news at different points in the day; mainly early in the morning, around lunchtime and then four or five o’clock in the afternoon.

Speedy communication is a key to the internet, so although micro-blogging service Twitter is mainly used for social networking, it is also a useful tool for journalists.

In December last year, Reuters held a Newsmaker press conference with David Cameron, where web readers and Twitter users had their questions put to him. The conference was also webcast live, which helped open it up to a wider audience.

What’s more, Rodney Pinder, Director of the International News Safety Institute said communication plays a major role in journalists’ safety.

In April last year, James Karl Buck, a graduate journalism student from the University of California, Berkeley, and his translator Mohammed Maree, were arrested in Mahalla, Egypt for photographing an anti-government demonstration.

Mr Buck used his mobile phone to send the message “Arrested” to alert his Twitter followers. In turn, they contacted Berkeley, the US Embassy and the press.

Within 24 hours of his arrest, Mr Buck was released and able to tweet “Free” from his phone.

Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter said: “[the story] highlights the simplicity and value of a real-time communication network which follows you wherever you go.”

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Will good journalism be the first casualty of the digital revolution in the media?

As part of my diploma at Cardiff University, I wrote an essay on the future of journalism. During the next week, I will publish it in sections. So today I kick of with part one. 

The Telegraph Media Group's integrated newsroom

The Daily Telegraph Media Group’s integrated newroom

Like a giant twitching spider, the converged Daily Telegraph Media Group newsroom has a large round hub in its centre, from which legs of departments protrude.

Its newspaper journalists work alongside because it aims to publish content not only in its newspaper, but also on the web in digital format, using links, videos and Telegraph TV.

It seems determined not to become a casualty of the digital revolution and to take advantage of new media. But what challenges, if any, could it bring to good quality journalism?

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