Tuesday 24 January 2012

A heady brew

I like this line in 'What is News' by Harcup and O'Neill on the makings of a good newspaper story:
"...our findings...suggest that certain combinations of news values appear almost to guarantee coverage in the press. 
"For example, a story with a good picture or picture opportunity combined with any reference to an A-list celebrity, royalty, sex, TV or a cuddly animal appears to make a heady brew that news editors find almost impossible to resist." 

Drones: At war and at home

Continuing my recent theme on the use of drones in journalism, I came across this Guardian article rather strangely entitled: 'Drones in the hands of the paparazzi? It's an ethics and privacy minefield'

There are some interesting observations here and the article lists some of the important questions raised by the increasing use of drones in military contexts:
"Do drones lower the threshold of war, encouraging those who deploy them to be more bellicose? Can they or their operators sufficiently discriminate combatants from civilians in order to comply with international law? Are they proportionate, or so horrifically cruel as to qualify, along with anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs, for prohibition? Does their cybernetic nature make them a biological weapon? What effect does their deployment have on the "hearts and minds" of civilians, or the morale of soldiers? Should we worry that Iran appears to have assumed control of a US drone, having kidnapped it out of the sky? And who is to blame when drones go wrong?"
But then right at the end, the article notes that drones are making the leap from foreign to domestic policy which left me with the impression that the piece was suggesting that what we should really be worrying about is the paparazzi using drones.

In other words, there are a few complicated questions about killing 'other people' in foreign lands, but when governments and the media start taking photos of 'us' using drones then we should really become concerned.

I am as worried about privacy, ethics, the media and the use of drones for domestic surveillance as the next person.

But as the article rightly points out (if you read past the headline and the inadvertently misleading structure) there are more pressing "ethical and legal concerns" which we must not lose sight of in future domestic debates on drones.  

Monday 23 January 2012

After 22/7: Journalism educators in Norway reconsider training for terror coverage

"Crisis reporting is set to become integral part of a three year bachelor degree in journalism, if plans to revise the degree’s curriculum go ahead," writes Kristine Lowe.

Click here for details on how the attacks on Oslo and Utöya by Anders Breivik last year are changing journalism training in Norway.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

"Inappropriate" to include bloggers in press regulation

The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that bloggers should not be part of a new regulatory system of the press. 

Speaking to a joint committee on privacy and injunctions he said blogs "perform a different role" from newspapers and bloggers "were often not paid". 

At the same time, he believed blogs were growing in importance to public and democratic debate. 

Citing Guido Fawkes as an example, he said that blogs with large audiences have "huge influence on political discourse" and could do "huge damage to individual reputations if and when they get things wrong". 

Despite their potential relevance to the future of privacy law and the use of injunctions, Hunt was concerned at "trying to solve too many problems at once".

He noted that bloggers are already "subject to the laws of the land" including libel, defamation and data protection breaches. But he acknowledged that the law was sometimes more difficult to enforce if blogs are based outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.

In 2009, Guido Fawkes told the Guardian that it was "a jurisdictional nightmare" to send him a writ as his blog was published by a Caribbean company, had a URL in Germany and was hosted in the United States. 

The joint committee felt that blogging should warrant more attention as some "big bloggers" were making "a lot of money" and that a new regulatory system should not leave an "open door" for irresponsible publishing.   

In a light-hearted moment, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke made it plain that he was "certainly not a blogger", quipping that a "quite disproportionate of nuts and extremists seem to be represented on every blog I've ever known". 

Jeremy Hunt interjected to say he had written a blog post last Friday.

To much amusement, Clarke quickly added: "...with the honorable exception of my friend, the Culture Secretary".
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