Posts Tagged ‘washington post’


For NBC, it’s more than just about Brian Williams

For NBC News, there is more to answer than the issue surrounding its star anchor, Brian Williams. (Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

For NBC News, there is more to answer than the issue surrounding its star anchor, Brian Williams.
(Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

Brian Williams has not had an easy year. The anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News was suspended without pay in February after concerns were raised about an account he gave of reporting during the Iraq War, saying a helicopter he had been in was shot down by rocket fire.

Since that occasion, investigations have been taking place within NBC about his reporting and the accounts he gave of other events, and it has emerged that 11 instances have occurred where Williams fabricated the accounts of covering certain events.

According to a report on the subject in the Washington Post, these instances include not just the situation in Iraq, but also the coverage of Israeli military action against the group Hezbollah in 2006, and the reporting of events at Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring political movement in 2011.

The report, the New York Times adds, is not due to make the conclusions on whether Williams will return from his suspension in August.

As this investigation, and indeed the debate continues on whether Williams will return to the network, there are wider questions to be answered regarding NBC’s own journalism ethics, and in an age where information and news can be accessed beyond the network’s flagship broadcasts, whether it can still remain a source people can confide in for information about the important events of the day.

In the mid-20th century, Americans relied on radio, newspapers, and the early days of television to be informed about the events. Personalities like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and later Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer became household names, with viewers placing their trust with them and their respective programs to give an honest, forthright account of events, whether they were big or small, or whether they took place in your own backyard or half a world away.

NBC executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York hope audiences can continue to trust them for news. (Photo: djdave217/Flickr under CC)

NBC executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York hope audiences can continue to trust them for news and information. (Photo: djdave217/Flickr under CC)

The question of trust in journalism has changed since then to include the internet and the multitudes of social media platforms, notably Facebook and Twitter, and as these mediums evolve, so too has the journalism. News organizations recognize the value the internet has in getting the message out there to millions of users. For the vast majority of Americans, no longer does the half hour evening news program become the big news attraction—it becomes, for the broadcast networks, merely an extension of a multi-platform 24 hour journalistic operation.

It is this idea that raises the million dollar question, for the actions taken by NBC are not just about whether Brian Williams retains his job and office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York come August, but whether consumers can come back to the offerings full circle—broadcast, web and social, after the fact.

That is a question that cannot be solved by a managerial shakeup, an internal inquiry, nor a change in person presenting the program, but rather the consumers themselves, and whether they will vote with their remotes or their computers or mobile devices in favor or against a network trying to ensure its feet touch the ground.

Therefore, for NBC, there is more at stake than just what to do with Brian Williams. It is whether it can still maintain its relationship with its audience, and keep doing what they were supposed to be doing in the first place, doing honest, forthright journalism, for the many, and not the few, no matter the platform.

Stay tuned for the answer.

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 on social media and digital culture 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.

Can Google be more than just a reference site?

A sign for Google during its Developer Day in 2007. Researchers have created a search engine ranking sites on factual accuracy. (Image courtesy of meneame comunicacions, sl/Flickr under CC)

A sign for Google during its Developer Day in 2007. Researchers have created a search engine ranking sites on factual accuracy. (Image courtesy of meneame comunicacions, sl/Flickr under CC)

The search engine Google is synonymous with the search for information – the word itself signifies the search for the truth. Google is used by everyone in every profession, including this one. But could Google, at some stage, lead the way in becoming an encyclopedia of fact, in addition to the reference we all have come to know and love?

A paper by a research team working for the search engine has shed some light on that very question. Instead of ranking web sites by links, rank them by the quality of facts. The paper, published last month and reported on last week by the New Scientist magazine, includes details of a system that would count the number of incorrect facts on a page, instead of incoming links.

It hasn’t been announced by Google if something like this would actually become available for usage by the public, but should this be public, as Caitlin Dewey wrote in the Washington Post, the implications could be huge.

“A switch could, theoretically, put better and more reliable information in the path of the millions of people who use Google every day,” Dewey wrote. “And in that regard, it could have implications not only for SEO — but for civil society and media literacy.”

Should Google come out with such an engine, it will be significant for journalism, particularly in terms of verification between all of that user generated content. It may also change how we approach writing for the web, but while it remains to be seen, the next fact can soon be made available by uttering the phrase, I’ll Google that.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is chairman and blogger at large of SPJ Digital, and community coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor, Media 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 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.

Videolicious is looking good to newspapers

Videolicious logoIn print journalism, video keeps elbowing into the picture. News sites once devoted to words now see film clips as essential supplements to written work.

At the same time, those sites are trimming or eliminating the staffers who shot and edited those clips, preferring instead to have reporters with smartphones take over.

But many reporters lack the knowledge or inclination to shoot video, because they either never tried or are reluctant to tackle what seems like an overwhelming new set of skills.

That’s why newspapers such as the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are trying Videolicious, an application for iPhone and iPad that simplifies and somewhat demystifies video making.

Videolicious creates video reports shot fresh with iPhone or iPad, or from clips and photos already in the device’s camera roll. Users can record a voiceover for narration with the device’s reverse-camera feature while splicing clips with just a screen tap.

The free version of Videolicious has a 1-minute video length limit, with a maximum of 20 separate shots per video, and storage at Videolicious.com for up to 20 projects. Pricing plans for $5 and $10 per month add features like longer video, more storage, a music library and commercial branding.

Videolicious debuted in 2011 and gained popularity among real estate agents to promote their properties. This year, the Post assigned about 30 of its staff to test the product. The Post-Dispatch recently began tutoring reporters and editors on it as well.

Poynter.org has a demonstration of Videolicious on YouTube.

 

David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

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