Monday, 26 October 2009

Links for today on the BBC, blogging, journalism and Twitter

I'm being taught how to teach for a couple of days, so they'll be no blogging here for at least two days. I'm sure all 1.3 people (on average) who read this blog every day will be gutted. In the meantime here is what I've been reading:


  • BBC to upgrade sign-in service with a move to 'a shiny new one' called BBC iD. This appeared on a number of BBC blogs from what I could make out including this Cycling the Americas blog. Let's hope this guy isn't blogging while he's cycling - that would be plain dangerous.
  • More key findings from the State of the Blogosphere survey 2009 via the Online Journalism Blog. Though OJB missed a couple of key stats (IMHO) on blogs as sources which I covered the other day. But then I missed loads they covered because I didn't cover it all...
Twitter news (in a luxurious excess of characters)
  • Deleted tweets will now remain deleted, (tipping the balance in the endless struggle over the definition of 'deleted' towards 'it has gone - for good' and away from 'it has been moved to the recycle bin'.) Sounds odd you might think but it used to be all too straightforward to access 'deleted' tweets. This change apparently has something to do with the Twitter-Microsoft-Google deals and no doubt ruins the fun of people who used to regularly check the deleted tweets of MPs, celebrities and other famous tweeters for screw ups. But then just how embarrassing could a 140 character mistake be?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Revisiting Moldova's 'Twitter Revolution'

I've written an update on the so-called 'Twitter Revolution' in Moldova for the Media140 blog. You can find it here.

I'll probably cross post it to my Frontline blog in the near future (changing the error in the first sentence in the process. Frustratingly I can't do anything about it on the Media140 blog and I believe the person who could do something about it is on a train heading for Bath. Ah well.)

My previous pieces from April when it all kicked off can be found here and here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Technorati's State of the Blogosphere

While some of us are having a (one-sided) debate on Twitter about the value of Technorati's 'State of the Blogosphere' (and Technorati itself), I'm ploughing on anyway and picking out a few bits that interest me from the first part of 2009's offering - Who are the Bloggers?

  • "Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, conducted an Internet survey from September 4-23, 2009 among 2,828 bloggers nationwide."
  • "Representing 72% of the respondents to this survey, hobbyists say that they blog for fun. They don’t make any money from their blogging - and only some would like to do so."
Adoption of blogging by mainstream media journalists
"As the concepts of blogging and mainstream media continue to converge, it’s not surprising that there is quite a bit of overlap between the two entities. Despite being perceived by some as enemies of the traditional media, bloggers actually carry a journalistic pedigree. 35 percent of all respondents have worked within the traditional media as a writer, reporter, producer, or on-air personality."
Blogging is not dying and Twitter has made a difference (shock)
"With the blogosphere filled with several different growing groups, there are also several trends on the rise. Professional bloggers grow more prolific, and influential, every year. Twitter and other social media represent one of the most important trends affecting the Blogosphere this year. The blogosphere is also further insinuating itself into the traditional media’s historic turf, as seen most clearly in coverage of the Iran election protests. With more areas of involvement, and more ways to tell the story, the blogosphere is strong - and only getting stronger."
Blogs as sources
  • 35% of all respondents said they get more of their news and information from blogs than from other media sources. (This is interesting. These people are bloggers themselves so presumably far more likely to be aware of blogs as a media source than the 'general public'. Yet nearly two-thirds still get more of their information from sources other than blogs. Also worth asking how much of the news and information on blogs owes something to other media sources.)
  • 46% of all respondents said blogs are just as valid media sources as traditional media
  • 69% of all respondents said blogs are getting taken more seriously as sources of information
  • 62% of respondents claimed to have been quoted in traditional media.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The latest blogging research (a little late)

There was a conference in Milwaukee recently which I feel like I should have been at. But then you can't go to everything. It was the tenth annual conference of the Association of Internet researchers, entitled Internet: Critical.

Fortunately for me, Axel Bruns, documented a number of the blogging panels and there were quite a few:

1. Bloggers and the Networked Public Sphere in Singapore, Carol Soon.

2. Political Blogging in the 2008 US Election, Aaron Veenstra.

3. Israeli and Lebanese war blogs in the 2006 Conflict, Muhammed Abdul-Mageed & Priscilla Ringrose.

4. Bloggers as Opinion Leaders in the Transformation of Israeli Politics, Carmel Vaisman.

5. Political Discourse from Truth to Truthiness, Megan Boler.

6. Blogging the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Daisy Pignetti.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Help? The legal questions raised by Guardian gagging

There's a great summary of the Guardian's reporting parliament gag by Carter-Ruck on behalf of Trafigura over at the Online Journalism blog in case you missed today's news.

But I'd be interested in any help answering the following legal questions.

1. Does anyone have any legal insight into Carter-Ruck's case for arguing that the Guardian's reporting of parliament would have been Contempt of Court? Did Internet coverage, and specifically Twitter's hashtagging frenzy, actually make a legal difference to the case or would they have lost the appeal in the High Court anyway?

2. From the BBC website: "No injunction was served on the BBC, but ever since the Spycatcher case in the 1980s news organisations which knowingly breach an injunction served on others are in contempt of court, so the corporation too felt bound by the Guardian injunction."

This implies there is a legal definition of a 'news organisation'. If there is such a thing when was it last tested in court and does it make any sense anymore? Presumably, the Spectator breached the injunction under law. But who else would qualify as having breached it?

Any links, comments etc greatly appreciated.

  • This is useful background on the scope of injunctions but obviously is not specific.
  • Roy Greenslade says 'the action of the firm at the heart of the case' was 'entirely undone by the freedom of the internet'. But that's all we get for the time-being.

Monday, 12 October 2009

"Rooted in evidence" and other notes on the BBC's draft editorial guidelines

Last week, I was preparing and giving a talk on the BBC and blogging at the War Studies Department annual PhD conference. The research was based on the interviews I have been conducting over the last couple of years with a variety of BBC journalists.

Unfortunately, what I said there is not really ready for a wider audience. There are various processes I need to go through before I can publish. But you'll get to hear about it one day...

While I was busy with that, I note that the BBC has published a draft copy of the updated editorial guidelines which they have made available for public consultation. (At the time of posting the site is unconsultable...but no doubt it will be up soon).

I've had a quick read and selected a few points that caught my eye.

"Nothing should be written..."

The Guardian picked out the phrase: "Nothing should be written by [BBC] journalists and presenters that would not be said on-air."

The headline they decided to run on the basis of that sentence, "BBC gets tough on journalists' blogging", implies that is something new. It isn't really. A point that the BBC's Steve Hermann makes in this blog post.

I've heard the 'don't write it if you wouldn't say it on air' sentence repeated on numerous occasions over the last two years.

It seems to have been more or less official policy on blogging for quite some time and has certainly been re-emphasised since Sachsgate ushered in yet another crackdown on editorial standards at the BBC.

The mantra has also been used inside the Corporation as a way of making sure journalists' use of Twitter stays within BBC policy.

Impartiality 1

There's an interesting little addition to the section on impartiality. The 2005 guidelines said:
"Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC, they can have a significant impact on the perceptions of our impartiality...our journalists and presenters, including those in news and current affairs, may provide professional judgments but may not express personal opinions on matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal views of our journalists and presenters on such matters."
Whereas the draft version for 2010 inserts the phrase "rooted in evidence":
"Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC - they can have a significant impact on perceptions of our impartiality. Journalists and presenters, including those in news and current affairs, may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views on public policy, on matters of political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists and presenters on such matters."
It would be worth trying to find out a bit more background about the "rooted in evidence" phrase but this is surely an attempt to indicate a difference between personal opinion and professional judgement.

This is something I thought might be worth exploring back in March. It seems that the issue has become much more confused by the BBC's forays into the blogosphere with critics accusing the BBC's blogs of being vehicles for the personal opinions of BBC Correspondents.

It's possible, then, that the "rooted in evidence" phrase looks in two directions.

For those inside the Corporation it reiterates that BBC journalists must resist the wave of opinionated journalism; for critics outside the BBC it attempts to more clearly demarcate a boundary line between professional judgement and personal opinion that might appear blurred.

Impartiality 2

There's a section in the draft guidelines on impartiality in series and over time.

This means that you don't have the potentially ridiculous situation of needing to have every programme perfectly balanced by differing points of view but can achieve impartiality within the context of a radio or TV series or over a period time.

Although the section doesn't directly mention BBC blogs, I assume that this would also apply to them under the term, "a set of interlinked web pages".

Rather than balancing each individual blog post, a blog should be balanced over time:
"On long-running or continuous output (such as general daily magazine programmes, the News Channel, Online, etc) due impartiality may be achieved over time by the consistent application of editorial judgement in relevant subject areas."

Haven't got much too add on this bit, but for those of you that are interested in what the BBC does or doesn't link to:
"BBC online sites covering ‘controversial subjects’ may offer links to external sites which, taken together, represent a reasonable range of views about the subject. We should normally try to ensure that when we link to third party sites this does not give strong grounds for concern that this breaches the law or the BBC Editorial Guidelines on harm and offence."

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Links I've dredged from the morass on the usual subjects

  • BBC News is like a "factory" according to former news presenter Peter Sissons.
  • North America Editor, Mark Mardell, demonstrates how not to liveblog Obama's maiden address to the UN. File under 'Technology FAIL'.
  • BBC political journalists get involved with Twitter just in time for conference season (and the impending general election no doubt.)
  • Kristine Lowe: How blogs transformed and challenged mainstream media coverage of the financial crisis:
'"Mainstream media reporting of finance and business is still important in that it keeps everyone updated with data releases and breaking news. But its relevance and timeliness more or less stop there, and bloggers step in to fill in on the rest," said Dana Chen, a financial blogger and former analyst who is currently involved in a finance news launch. Indeed, more and more people find that, in their chosen fields, specialist blogs cover issues more in-depth than traditional media. It has certainly been my experience as a media journalist that blogs such as Professor Piet Bakker's Newspaper Innovation and venture capitalist Fred Wilson's A VC cover their chosen subjects better and more consistently than their mainstream media (MSM) counterparts.'
  • Kuwait censors 'terror' blogs according to AFP.

Bonus journalism link

Just for the beard enthusiast

I rarely reveal how people find my blog through Google searches but I couldn't help flagging up this one: "Robin Lustig beard". Clearly this Googler knows a good beard when they see one. Here it is:

Robin Lustig presents the BBC's World Tonight on Radio 4 and writes a blog. No doubt after a few thoughtful strokes of the aforementioned beard.

Update: Further trawling reveals the search may have been inspired by this post on the PM blog.

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