Posts Tagged ‘media’


Querying fact checking

At NPR's headquarters in Washington, its fact-checking transcript generated significant interest from audiences online. (Photo: Stephen Voss/NPR)

At NPR’s headquarters in Washington, its fact-checking transcript generated significant interest from audiences online. (Photo: Stephen Voss/NPR)

Geopolitics has been at the epicenter of the news the past few months, from the news of Britain’s referendum on leaving the European Union with a new Prime Minister, and the diplomatic conversations surrounding the conflict in Syria, to the closely watched campaigns for elections for president of the United States.

As the 8th of November nears, a subject that has been debated is that of fact-checking, and what role it should have in the context of modern political journalism. In the recent debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, NPR had a running transcript with annotations going, the checks being communicated on Twitter, Facebook, and the web site.

When all was said and done, NPR achieved its highest traffic day ever, and the transcript got 7.4 million page views.

Beth Donovan, the supervising senior editor for its Washington Desk, who has worked on previous election output, said the public broadcaster had been trying to perfect engaging audiences when it came to fact-checking.

“Fact checking has long been a priority for NPR,” Donovan said in an interview by email. “Even before this particular race shaped up, we had been trying new things in the fact check lane in hopes of connecting with our audience and helping them engage with political rhetoric through this prism.”

Donovan said audiences had valued a second screen accompaniment to live events, and this fact-checking feature was a way to hone NPR’s engagement strategy. She says similar plans will be in the works for the forthcoming debate this weekend and the final debate later this month.

“There was a transparency to our fact check, people could see us highlighting facts we were about to check (as well as a lot of typos in the first and even second draft of the transcription),” Donovan said. “The audience could see the statement in context, our journalism, and source links. And the page kept moving and changing right on your phone.”

While there was success for NPR in its engagement strategy, it came amid some concerns, before and after the debate was over. The fact-checking annotations commenced amid concerns of trust in the media, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

In addition, after the debate, concerns had been raised by the ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen, who, in addition to some listeners, said some questions were missed, despite the best efforts of reporters and editors in Washington. Donovan said her team did the best they could under the circumstances, even as concerns of bias were prevalent.

“We just do our best every day to cover the news and to report fairly and accurately,” Donovan said. “Fact checking is no different.”

Yet, Donovan notes, there is difficulty in accomplishing such a task.

“Even in a news room with as much policy depth as NPR’s, live fact checking is hard,” Donovan said. “The biggest challenges are often the littlest things.”

However, Donovan says, there is something that makes it all worthwhile — the drive and collaboration between its journalists.

“It can look easy or obvious the next day, but watching our annotated transcript come to life was inspiring,” Donovan said. “This is a remarkable newsroom. I always feel especially proud to be part of it on debate nights and in breaking news situations.”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

The world and its stories

The New York Times is trying to increase its readership outside the US, which may have long-term effects beyond engagement. (Photo: alextorrenegra/Flickr)

The New York Times is trying to increase its readership outside the US, which may have long-term effects beyond engagement. (Photo: alextorrenegra/Flickr)

Recently, The New York Times did something rather interesting when it came to its coverage of the forthcoming presidential elections. It assigned a foreign correspondent to cover them, allowing for not just an interesting way to cover these elections, but also an indication of trends in media and how they will impact storytelling overall.

The Times assigned Declan Walsh, its Cairo bureau chief, to cover the elections in the same way he would a foreign story, for a series called Abroad in America. Thus far, he has written about both conventions, as well as the role of coal country in voting and the issue of women in US politics.

His column, according to an article from the Nieman Lab at Harvard University, is being edited and run through the international desk at the Times, though Walsh does consult with its politics team.

In an interview with the Lab, Walsh said the column was part of the recognition by the Times about digital readership — that much of it was outside the United States, and as a result, there was potential for such content.

“It speaks to the balance that the paper has to achieve, especially in stories that are about the United States, in writing stories about things in the US that foreign readers are very interested in, but they do not have the same degree of familiarity with or the same cultural connectors that a reader would in the United States,” Walsh said.

This initiative is part of broader work the Times is doing to expand its international readership. It recently created NYT Global, a $50 million effort over the next 3 years to expand this work, and, according to the Lab, it sees potential when it comes to attracting paying subscribers from outside the US.

Though the move is strategic on the part of the Times, this decision speaks to a larger trend in the world of journalism, largely influenced by the internet — a trend that comes off of the idea of the global village, a theory from the Canadian communications scholar Marshall McLuhan, where new technologies would be making the world smaller, connecting more and more people, no matter their location. This was part of his core theory, the medium is the message.

Indeed, the internet and the social media age have influenced how we consume news, and where we get our news from. The global age has influenced our ideas of media brands — alongside the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The New Yorker, the Financial Times and NPR come other sites including BuzzFeed and Vice. More people are getting access to content, either online streaming or through podcasts, whether its Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Cafe from CBC Radio in Canada or other podcasts from public broadcasters or other sites.

As a result, news organizations like the Times are thinking more globally as far as their reach, and while the Times is a unique case, it does show how far reaching stories can be in this digital age. While it is unclear if the Times plans similar ideas for other stories down the road, it is an indication that as the mediums that journalism are being disseminated through increase, the idea of how we tell stories will change, whether global in scope or local in nature, no matter the beat, even though the first priority is the immediate audience.

It also means that there will be more sources and web sites available for information, leaving news organizations to be creative when it comes to engagement strategies surrounding stories.

While the mediums themselves will be changing, one thing hasn’t — the mission of journalism, to inform, to engage, to stimulate, and to enlighten. Though we may need to be creative about how we do it in the near future, it is better than an alternative — a world without journalism.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

The need for journalism

Last night, John Oliver used humor to make a point about the future of this industry.

A portion of his HBO program Last Week Tonight was devoted to a look at journalism, and the future of newspapers, amidst the decline of advertising revenue. In a near 20 minute segment, Oliver examined the case for journalism, through a monologue and a satirical skit of the film Spotlight, and how the direction of newspapers and other aspects of the industry will dictate how journalism is conducted moving forward.

Yet, his quote towards the end before the filmed skit resonated the biggest challenge for journalism yet, and what will happen to the industry down the road if nothing is done about it.

“Sooner or later, we are either going to have to pay for journalism or we are all going to pay for it,” Oliver said.

Oliver’s monologue about paying for journalism reflects a generational divide, a generation accustomed to paying for news through newspapers versus a generation, through the internet and social media, accustomed to getting content for free, and reluctant to pay for it, exacerbated in this social media age.

I am a part of that latter generation. I am a 24 year old who has access to an abundance of information no matter the circumstance — anytime, anywhere, all for the low, low price of $0.00.

It is worth investing in subscriptions to papers like The New York Times, for it will bring significant long-term benefits. (Photo: Haxorjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

It is worth investing in subscriptions to papers like The New York Times, for it will bring significant long-term benefits. (Photo: Haxorjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

Yet, compared to my peers, I am willing to invest in that content. Every day, a newspaper arrives at my house — The Wall Street Journal Monday through Saturday, and the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. But on the same token, I also look at sites that are either paywalled or have their content for free — from The Guardian to The New York Times, the BBC to Reuters and NPR, and periodically — The New Yorker. I also will find content linked either from Twitter or Facebook. I also have a digital subscription to the Journal that ties in with the newspaper subscription.

I read to stay informed of the world around me and to keep up with trends — I read the Journal, the Guardian and others because an informed and educated public is beneficial for our society, and for democracy, something journalism can give. It is something that I am not afraid to pay for.

Those in this industry enter it and seek work in it because we believe in the fundamental principles for which it is associated. We subscribe to its ideas and its values align with our own. We believe in the cause for an informed public and an enhanced civil discourse — that those in power must be held to account, that the work we do together can do the most good.

I believe in the role journalism has in our world, and the role information and education can have in making the lives of others better. I can’t imagine a circumstance where the world is bereft of journalism, which is why its worth supporting and paying for.

It is important for all of us to invest in journalism, for your investment now will result in a significant investment down the road, in the education and knowledge that comes from the pages, in print and online, about your world and your life. That alone has more benefits than seeing a video of a raccoon cat time and time again.

So, subscribe to journalism. Support my friends and colleagues who believe in making the world better, and invest in democracy. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributor to the SPJ blog network. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is a Managing Editor and contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Celebrating women in journalism

Today is International Women’s Day — a day to celebrate and recognize the contributions women have made to the world. As journalism evolves, ideas and contributions by women have allowed to make the industry stronger for the future.

International Women’s Day occurs amid interesting roles for gender equity in the industry. Recent studies, notably from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University in Britain, showed that more women are studying journalism compared to men in multiple countries, including the United States. However, there is still difficulty when it comes to representation of women when you enter the industry.

Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff anchoring the PBS Newshour during the election of 2012. (Photo: Newshour/Flickr under CC)

Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff anchoring the PBS Newshour during the election of 2012. (Photo: Newshour/Flickr under CC)

Data from the non-profit Women’s Media Center, showcased in their State of Women in the US Media in 2015, showcased that within newspapers, the Chicago Sun-Times had 55 percent of women having bylines, and both The Wall Street Journal and the LA Times had 40 percent of women with bylines. The New York Times had only 32 percent of women with bylines, USA Today had 33 percent and The Washington Post had 39 percent. More men were on the paper’s editorial boards compared to women.

On the major television networks, consisting of PBS, ABC, CBS and NBC, PBS had the most female reporters of the four with 44 percent. In addition, Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill co-anchor the PBS Newshour program, weeknights. At ABC, 30 percent of the reporters were women, with 29 percent at CBS and 43 percent at NBC. Men anchor the main evening newscasts on those networks (David Muir, Scott Pelley and Lester Holt, respectively). Specific data for cable networks (Fox, CNN, MSNBC) were not available, however the Center’s data indicates there is a larger amount of men working in TV news (58.8 percent) compared to women (41.2 percent).

In online journalism, four news sites were surveyed — The Huffington Post, CNN, The Daily Beast, and Fox News. The Huffington Post had the most female reporters with 53 percent, compared to CNN’s 42 percent, Fox’s 39 percent and The Daily Beast’s 31 percent. Of the two wire services (AP and Reuters), Reuters had more women reporters than the AP (41 percent and 35 percent respectively).

When it came to beats however, there were significant differences. More men covered US and global politics, as well as business, technology, sports, culture and weather. There was an equal paring with lifestyle, and more women covered education and religion compared to men.

At the SPJ, research for this blog post indicated more women holding leadership positions compared to men. Of the 23 members of the Board of Directors, 14 of them are women. Within the 12 regions, the gender balance among directors is equally split.

In the 9 active committees, six of them have women either serving as chair or vice chair. In the network of five active communities, four of them have women serving as chair or co-chair of that community.

Frontline executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath (right), who took over the role after David Fanning (left) stepped down and became executive producer at-large. (Image: The Peabody Awards/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

Frontline executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath (right), who took over the role after David Fanning (left) stepped down and became executive producer at-large. (Image: The Peabody Awards/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

Women make significant contributions to the future of journalism every day, especially in digital journalism, including Laura Davis at the University of Southern California, Kim Bui at Reported.ly, Tory Starr at WGBH in Boston, Katie Hawkins-Gaar of the Poynter Institute, Millie Tran at BuzzFeed and Kat Chow at NPR.

While the issue of gender equity won’t be solved overnight, it is important that everyone recognizes the role they have in this ever changing industry. what matters is not the differences in gender, race or sexual orientation in someone, but the ideas they bring — ideas that are worth listening to now, and in the months and years ahead.

After all, that great idea will be the idea that keeps journalism continuing to be at its best, and its something that I celebrate not just on this day, but every day.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer on journalism and media issues for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Instant Articles: A revolution in journalism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose social network launches the Instant Articles initiative today.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Today, Facebook is launching its Instant Articles initiative, where news organizations will be hosting content on the social network’s site.

The official confirmation comes in a blog post from Facebook after previous reports, most notably in March from the New York Times, prompting rampant speculation as to what role Facebook would have, and how it would exactly affect the relationship it had with publishers.

There are nine publishers taking part, including the Times, BuzzFeed and the BBC. The feature is to start on Facebook’s iPhone platform, but expand in the coming months, the social network said, noting more publishers would also be involved in due course. Additionally, publishers are to take the revenue generated from advertisements in that content. Facebook says it allows publishers to provide a better experience for readers.

In that blog post, Mark Thompson, the chairman of The New York Times Company, said the move was significant because of the Times’ audience on the platform.

“The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook,” Thompson said. “We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement.”

With the release of this initiative, this opens a new chapter in social media journalism, especially Facebook’s role, and will be a revolution in the relationship between the consumer and the news organization.

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Dick Costolo may be leading Twitter into a news production age if they acquire Circa.
(Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

While it is early and the number of partners are limited, the move by Facebook, and indeed speculation of acquisitions and experiments by other social network sites, notably Twitter’s rumored acquisition of Circa, and Snapchat’s decision to hire Peter Hamby as head of news which is likely to affect its Discover feature, this will lead to a change in the thinking of journalism in the social media age.

Facebook has taken the bold step by becoming more than just a way to curate discussion on the news. It has become the news.

Today’s launch of Instant Articles will have significant implications on journalists working on the web. The relationship between social media and editorial content has changed, and while whether if it is positive or negative remains for the moment uncertain, it will change not just how we think about a story, but how we can engage with our audiences.

This is an important time for journalists near and far to consider this initiative and the future of their role in social media journalism, not just on Facebook, but on other platforms, for more moves like this may be on the horizon. We owe it to not just our colleagues in the profession, but ultimately our audience, to be ready for what is ahead, whether you write for a newspaper, produce for TV or radio or for online.

Facebook has shown us what is ahead in social media journalism, and perhaps for the industry as a whole. It is up to us to how we respond to it.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also blogs for the web site ChicagoNowYou can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Women Who Lead: Newsroom and Beyond

As a young girl, I didn’t idolize Princess Diana; I didn’t know who Audrey Hepburn was until my freshman year of high school; Barbie was just a logo on a box in my basement, not my inspiration.

Crazy as it sounds, I wanted to be Jesse Owens: the fastest man in the world.

Growing up with one younger brother, I spent most of my childhood playing catch in the backyard, ranking and rooting for football teams, and–of course–competing in neighborhood, Olympic-esque sprint races.

It didn’t really occur to me that I should want to be like a traditional lady–calm, composed, reserved–until much later in my adolescence. From a very early age, I was encouraged to fight for my place in the starting lineup, to prove that I could be just as agile and able as my male counterparts, both on the field and in the classroom. My parents encouraged me to stand up for myself, and I sure didn’t back down just because I was a girl.

Much of that same assertiveness (some may call it bossyness) has carried over into my adult life. There’s nothing in this world that seems impossible or unattainable purely because I am woman. With practice, preparation, and devotion, I truly believe there’s nothing I cannot achieve.

I bring this up because I want to encourage women of all ages to assert themselves in their careers, whether it be in the newsroom or in their careers beyond.

Last week, I attended a panel of journalism professionals to celebrate media entrepreneurship in this ever-evolving field. And only one of those panelists was a female.

But she didn’t shy away from her fellow panelists. In fact, she herself–dressed in a crisp white blazer and killer stilettos–encouraged all of the young women in the audience to fight for gender diversity in their own newsrooms.

Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” message, Bo Hee Kim challenged us to speak up for our own accomplishments and ideas, to demand equal opportunities in the newsroom, in order to provide more complete news coverage for an audience that’s both male and female.

And I admired this about Bo. For her to come into a college setting and express that she still faces gender bias in the 21st century was kind of alarming to me. She admitted that the bias appears on a much smaller scale than in the early 1900s, but the subtleness is still there.

Perhaps that’s the most important message I took away from #CommWeek15 at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Women have received more respect and attention in the workforce since the dawn of the women’s movement, but we’re still years away from being equal contributors in the workforce–especially in the newsroom.

When will it not be excited gossip for a woman to earn a top-tier position as an editor or business executive? When will gender bias not be a revolutionary court case, but merely an action we as a society cease to participate in?

I hope to live in a world where a woman can be commended on her accomplishments, regardless of if she wears a necklace and shiny pears. A woman’s ideas should be celebrated because she is a forward-thinker, a visionary, and someone who is insanely intelligent–not just because she is a woman.

Bethany N. Bella is studying at Strategic Communications and Environmental Political Science at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bethanynbella or browse her work at bethanybella.com.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

 

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