Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Journalism’

The art of journalism: satisfying beginners and expert readers

In Journalism, Media, MSM, Sally Baxter on May 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

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By Sally Baxter
May 19, 2013

What makes a journalist? A lot of people – inside and outside the profession – are asking that question. If you think it takes a genius, think again. Good journalists have a representative of their audience in mind who informs every step of their work. My background’s print, so it’s natural for me to refer to a reader. Who’s your reader, a genius or an idiot?

My first Editor was also my dad which means I spent a good deal of my career wondering if I was a journalist at all. I certainly didn’t feel I really was until I was a newspaper reporter, but that was later.

In 1980 I finished high school in Brisbane and went back to Hong Kong to plot my next move.

When I’d left, Bax had a talkback show on Commercial Radio (that’s how small the market was – that was the name of the station) and was filling in the rest of his time with a little computer magazine he’d started.

By the time I returned Computer-Asia had grown enough to warrant all his attention. It was still a tiny operation, running out of a backroom behind the Hong Kong Press Club in Wanchai. There was Bax, John the ad sales guy and Teresa the paste-up artist.

I had pitched up in the middle of the mad rush which happened once a month to get the magazine to bed and Bax dragged me, still jetlagged, the very next day to help out.

I didn’t contribute much I’m sure but it was a great introduction to the swirling excitement of deadlines and the dead calm at the centre, where evey line must be carefully checked first for spelling and punctuation and then again for meaning.

The operation was so small and so tight for cash our final job was to stick the subscriber copies into envelopes as soon as they arrived back from the printer and make sure it was at the front of every newsstand we passed on the way home.

Bax, recognising the value of cheap labour, asked me to stay. But, I told him, I don’t know anything about computers.

“Neither do I,” he said.

“And nor do most of our readers. Our job is to explain it to them.”

Bax told me we were writing for the business people who knew this stuff was important but didn’t have the first idea what it meant.

“Our reader’s probably a middle-aged guy in the middle of a middle-sized company whose boss is either about to invest in computing or has just done so.

“He’s got these weird new people with weird new titles talking a language he can’t understand telling him he’s got to do things differently.

“He doesn’t want to look like an idiot to his boss but he’s not convinced any of this stuff is going to help him do his job better.

“That’s your reader. You get to talk to the experts. Go and ask them the things that guy needs to know.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Your guide to the Press Gallery and its gatekeeper

In Fifth Estate, Journalism, Margo Kingston, MSM on April 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Margo Kingston note: I was a member of the press gallery for many years. When I left Fairfax to take Webdiary independent my Parliament House ID lapsed. I applied to the then Press Gallery Committee president Karen Middleton for a new PG ID and she signed off without a hassle.

Yet I couldn’t answer some questions from tweeps this week about the status and powers of the PGC, and was surprised by the reasons given by the current president David Speers for refusing an application by Callum Davidson to join the PG as a journo for Independent Australia. The reasons for rejection were that IA was an opinion-based publication, not news-based, and that applicants had to be established working journalists.  I find the first reason odd, given IA’s intrepid investigations of the Ashby and Thomson stories, both of which have produced many news stories and news scoops, including one by me.

In addition, I confirmed with my former SMH colleague Mike Seccombe that he had been granted admission to the Press Gallery for the Global Mail, which is a feature-based publication not focussed on news. Gabrielle Chan, a member of the PG when she worked for the Oz many years ago, was also granted membership when she joined The Hoopla as an opinion and colour writer.

@walter_bagehot has kindly agreed to give us the facts on the privileges of the Press Gallery and the power and composition of the Press Gallery Committee. It seems that Callum can appeal to the PGC as a whole. Unfortunately, there appear to be no written protocols or guidelines for PGC decision making. As new media expands and the mainstream media contracts, I feel that the PGC needs to publish written guidelines and a process for appeal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walking Away

In AFHP, Federal Election, Journalism, MSM, Tony The Geek on April 28, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Paddy Manning pays the whistleblower’s price

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media on April 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

BusinessDay-620x280

By Margo Kingston,

April 9,  2013

I know from experience that sometimes when the death of something you believe in stares you in the face you lose your judgement. It seems that this happened to business journalist Paddy Manning  yesterday morning. By 6pm last night he’d been sacked. by editorial chief Garry Linnell.

Like many journos, I thought @gpaddymanning must have another job to go to when I saw his piece in Crikey. Apparently he hasn’t, and that hurts him and his wife and children.

Today, the consensus of a meeting of Fairfax business journos was that management’s decision was correct and that they could take no action to support their colleague. What Paddy did was to write a critical piece about his employer in a rival publication, and that’s a cardinal sin.

Apparently he thought he’d be reprimanded and sent to Siberia for a long time when he wrote his piece for Crikey. He must have thought the principles he was fighting for were worth that sacrifice. I agree with him, and I hope for his sake his stunning protest about what is becoming deeply compromised business reporting at Fairfax will trigger reflection and action.

Some background. Fairfax has been repositioning itself to be more pro-business, a move given added impetus by its decision last week to end the separation between the Australian Financial Review and the metro dailies’ business coverage. Now, after merging the SMH and The Age business bureaus, all three are now in one division, meaning it is likely they will not compete for stories. The Australian Financial Review’s new editor Michael Stutchbury has been noticeably anti-union, pro-business and anti-government since he moved from The Australian.

Ian Verrender, the business editor of the SMH for eight years, took redundancy last year and used his final column, ‘A business reporter’s greatest value lies in asking hard questions’ to warn of what was to come at Fairfax:

A menacing danger quietly lurks behind the technological changes within the media, one that has the potential to debase one of the foundations necessary for a healthy democracy. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the way in which business news is presented, where the interests of a free press and commercial imperatives collide, often with devastating effects.

The more vulnerable media companies become, the less capable they are of withstanding the pressure of vested interests and the more susceptible they will be to attack. Many will adopt the easy way out, that it is best to simply not cause trouble…

Unlike politics or sport, those running big business have a great deal of power. Veer too far from the press release, question a little too aggressively and the mighty weight of a corporation suddenly is hovering above, threatening litigation, demanding your dismissal. The chief executive probably knows a few people on the newspaper company’s board.

Little wonder then that most business reporters default to the easy option. And many begin to believe they are part of the business world, that the reason they are being squired to upmarket restaurants, to corporate boxes and offered trips to exotic places is that they are part of the team.

…This is the final column I’ll pen for BusinessDay. It is an emotional parting but after 25 years, it is time to move on. There have been good times. There have been great times. And the ethos that was drilled into us all those years ago – that we work for the readers, for you – is something that remains true today and hopefully in the future, in whatever form The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald take.

So this is it. Time to clean up the desk. Then again, there is so much clutter and rubbish here, maybe I’ll leave it for whoever comes next. You need a legacy, after all.

Verrender’s column details the terrible toll on ordinary people of big business scams and bad practice due to soft pro-business reporting and spruiking by finance journalists and editors. Thanks to Paddy’s dummy spit, we know that the lessons of cosying up to big business have not been learned, and that compromised ethics are on the rise and getting worse.

The back story from what I’ve gathered today – and I would appreciate input from people in the know – is that there is a process of creeping advertorials in Fairfax business coverage. There have been protests by journos, but apparently management has reassured staff that there is no influence by advertisers (sponsors) on content. The idea is that journalists are commissioned to write for these special sections in the normal way, and write their stories untouched by the advertising sponsorship. However tensions are apparent, as sponsors have begun complaining about what is being written. Read the rest of this entry »

Last chance to rein in Murdoch

In Democracy, Fifth Estate, Journalism, Media Reform, MSM on March 16, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Created by George Bludger @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

Created by @GeorgeBludger via http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgebludger

By Margo Kingston
March 16, 2013

Here’s a history lesson on the long road to media dominance by Rupert Murdoch, aided by both big parties, via two chapters in my book. The Liberals said yes to Murdoch under Howard, and will keep saying yes. They are partners, or rather, Abbott is Murdoch’s puppet.

I also tell the story of how I lobbied minor parties to stop Murdoch’s law in the Senate in 2003, and describe Fairfax journalists’ long struggle to preserve our values of fearless independent journalism.

Murdoch papers’ incendiary reaction to Conroy’s reforms – led by Murdoch’s top executive in Australia Kim Williams – means Murdoch’s empire has something to lose. Two things, actually – less chance of even further dominating Australia’s MSM, and more chance of its journalism being just a little bit accountable to the ethics of journalism.

There is no chance the media reforms, weak as they are, will pass without strong action by citizens. Wilkie, Oakshott, Katter, Windsor and Thomson need to be convinced to negotiate with Labor to agree to a reform package they can sign up to and vote for quickly. They must understand that Labor has been crazy-brave to put up even this minimalist reform package, and that Labor must get this done quickly or bleed to death from Murdoch media’s relentless attacks.

Over to you. Apart from anything else, your NBN needs you.

UPDATE MARCH 17: Here are the key extracts from Conroy’s Insiders interview today:

Fixing Howard’s gift to Murdoch to become even more dominant

In 2007 the Howard government weakened our cross media laws that were introduced by Paul Keating. And we said from that day we would be campaigning to introduce a public interest test because we didn’t believe leaving the door open for further concentrations of media in this country were healthy.

I mean around the world: in the US, the top two newspaper groups cover about 14 per cent. Even in Canada, a country more akin to ourselves in terms of geography, 54 per cent coverage from the top two. In Australia it is 86 per cent coverage. We’ve already got one of the most concentrated media sectors in the world and we don’t believe it should be allowed to be shrunk any further.

Why self-regulation needs to be strengthened

I’ve been entertained by the claim that this is a solution looking for a problem. Well let me read you some quotes from evidence given publicly to the Finkelstein Inquiry. It may come as a surprise to you, Barrie, they didn’t get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

Let me read to you Professor Ken McKinnon who was a former chair of the Australian Press Council. He said: “I had an editor say to me if you promise not to uphold any complaints from my paper we will double our subscription, is that a deal?”

We have the current head, Julian Disney, he said: “The possibility of reduced funding remains a significant concern fuelled on occasion by the comments of publishers who dislike adverse adjudications or other council decisions. And the Council’s almost total reliance on funding from publishers, and especially from a few major publishers, is widely criticised as a crucial detraction from its real and apparent independence.”

And just finally, if I could, one more, another head chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Dennis Pearce: “Indeed we had one period where The Australian newspaper did not like an adjudication we made and they withdrew from the council for a period of months”. And Mr Finkelstein asked: “Was that a direct consequence of the particular adjudication?” And he said: “It was indeed. They said our adjudication was wrong and they were not going to publish it, and they didn’t”.

So, people who want to argue … Read the rest of this entry »

Pity the poor journalist…

In Journalism, Sally Baxter on February 24, 2013 at 7:27 PM

The End of Newspapers

By Sally Baxter
February 24. 2013
Source: SallyBaxter 

Pity the poor journalist.

For every pompous hack filing his or her daily lecture to the nation, there are countless others trying to do more and more every day with less and less.

At the same time, if they’re smart, they’re trying to get a handle on the shape of the future. Which way, Journalism? And, not unimportantly, will it pay?

And will it be worth the constant nit-picking and sometimes outright abuse on social media that seems to go with the job these days?

Is the good ship of the traditional publisher going down or is it just shifting course?

And what, in the future, will distinguish a professional journalist from the many competent amateurs already out there with their blogs and their wonky charts?

Journalism academic Jay Rosen recently identified five distinct power shifts between writers and publishers which may give a hint of the way forward.

Not all of us can be technology bloggers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg (the subjects of his article), but their story highlights how niche journalism is developing well beyond the traditional specialist publication model.

Rosen observes correctly that modern readers simply have less of a need for publishers. Traditionally, news was bundled together into a single package which tried to include something for everyone.

Put the package online, says Rosen, and the bundle falls apart.

And there’s the rub. As consumers we are no longer prepared to wade through all the bits we’re not interested in to get to the few stories we do want and the telly listings.

An exchange on Twitter between Australian blogger Greg Jericho (Grog’s Gamut) and Marcus Priest of the Australian Financial Review encapsulates Rosen’s point, and the dire predicament of traditional publishing.

Jericho commented to fellow blogger Paula Mathewson (Dragonista’s Blog) that he’d like to see the AFR return to a pay-per-view model so he could read just its political coverage.

You can read the full exchange here  (thanks to Matthew Lee for Storifying it).

Priest’s defence of the traditional bundle is robust but can’t alter the fact that a growing segment of news consumers – like Jericho, like me – no longer want it.

Encouragingly perhaps, Rosen thinks that puts writers in the ascendant.

As he sees it, it’s simple economics. People will pay for something which is scarce. And that’s no longer ‘news’ which, we all know, is with us 24/7 in a bewildering array of formats, nor the ability to distribute it.

What’s scarce is good journalism which serves its community.

And there are readers – like Jericho, like me – who will pay for it. Just find out how we want it, and give it to us just that way, as I’ve said before (Does journalism die not with a thunderclap but a tweet).

In the Netherlands there’s now an app for that. It’s called DNP and its readers subscribe to specific journalists who edit and market themselves. Seed money included around E25,000 raised through crowdfunding.

According to DNP managing director Jan-Jaap Heij, the journalists don’t have to invest anything, not even a start-up fee and revenue is split at around 50 per cent each between journalist and host.

Heij says the venture started out with 11 people and now has about 200 lined up to join. More details at Journalism.co.uk (and thanks to Margo Kingston for the link). Read the rest of this entry »

Building Bridges

In AFHP, Fairfax, Margo Kingston, MSM on February 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston

By Michael Taylor (TheAIMN)
February 24, 2013

There is an old movie line I often recall: A life filled with activity suggests a life filled with purpose.

I have no hesitation in borrowing that line in applying it is an apt portrayal of well-known Australian author and journalist; Margo Kingston. I’ve been a big fan of Margo’s since her book Not happy, John hit the shelves in 2004, so I was chuffed to be granted an interview with her last week. I was to discover just how active and purposeful her life has been, and still is, and that there is far more to Margo than the book which first introduced her to me.

But first, a little background.

Margo, a Queenslander, graduated from university with a degree in arts and law and practised as a solicitor in Brisbane before lecturing in commercial law in Rockhampton. The move to journalism saw her working for The Courier-Mail and within a year moved to The Times on Sunday. She had since worked for The AgeThe Canberra Times and A Current Affair before moving to The Sydney Morning Herald, where she worked until her retirement in August 2005. Her first book was Off The Rails: The Pauline Hanson Trip which recounted her experiences (as a journalist) on the One Nation Party’s election campaign in the 1990s. She is also known for her now defunct blog, Webdiary.

“Writing the book about the One Nation Party experience was a testing time for me and I vowed never to write another book again. I didn’t consider myself an author or a person willing to be one. A journalist, yes. An author, no” recalled Margo. At this point I was wondering why she later decided to write Not happy, John, however, a slight hesitation on my behalf gave her the opportunity to proceed with an explanation. “While I was working for the Sydney Morning Herald I was invited by Phillip Adams (from Radio National’s Late Night Live) to be on the discussion panel of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas. It was there that Phillip tapped me on the shoulder and said I needed to write a book about John Howard. Of course, the answer was an insistent ‘no’ but the response was “it’s your duty” and one thing led to another and before I knew it I found myself writing Not happy, John“.

Not Happy John

It wasn’t long before the book put her on the outer with her employer.

“After a long-term Government everyone in the media seems quite happy with how the country is governed and so after many years of Howard the Sydney Morning Herald had drifted slowly to the right. The publication of the book was frowned upon and my run-ins with the SMH editor are now famous”.

I could sense that Margo is more excited about her post-SMH life, even though when she began her new incarnation she did so as an emotionally shattered soul. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for my Aunty

In ABC, Ashby Conspiracy, John Faine Affair, Nancy Cato on February 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

By Nancy Cato
February 17, 2013

Nancy Cato

Nancy Cato

Yes – silly isn’t it. I feel rather foolish making this awful public confession that I’ve sort of lost my Aunty, but it’s a fact – if a fact can be ‘sort of’. Anyway, I do my share of complaining about the lack of any sort of facts in much of today’s media, so ‘fess up I must. It’s embarrassing. Aunty Ambidextra Balancedia Clarificia (ABC for short) has been in our family for – well, since she was born really, in 1932 – making her only 7 years 5 months older than her niece. It happens in families.

Mind you, she’s not just my Aunty and she’s not really my Aunty at all – as in a blood relation or anything. My Mum and Dad just happened to take her in as a tiny baby and reared her as my Aunt. This also happens in families. Goodness knows where her parents were – she seemed to be surrounded by fusty, old, white, politically-absorbed males at the time – but that’s for later.

When Aunty arrived in our house she was just a noise – no visual accoutrements at all – but she sure made her presence felt. Dad was a busy dentist; his surgery attached to our house allowed him to sneak home regularly, in-between patients, to listen to Aunty holding forth on one thing or another of national importance. He’d get up at some ungodly hour like 4am to listen to Alan McGilvray commenting on the overseas Test Ashes Series and managed to know exactly what was going on in the much-loved serials The Lawsons and Blue Hills every lunch hour.

It was in those early days that Aunty did three things of enormous significance for my family; three things that formed a bond between my Aunty and me, changed the course of my life, and caused this current rising panic because I can’t find her.

First Significance: Dad was a cricket tragic and as soon as I was old enough to appear to be able to understand what he was saying, he explained the system that Aunty had used 2 or 3 years earlier in 1938, to telegraph Test results back home from England. Apparently, I was sitting on the floor playing with my toy monkey and had my back to him. He was tapping a pencil on the kitchen bench to show me how the broadcasters in Aunty’s Studio simulated the sound of  bat hitting ball. I showed no interest. Dad tapped louder, but not even clap of hands and stamping of feet made any difference. I don’t remember that bit of the story, but I DO remember getting swooped up suddenly into an enormous, heaving bear hug and trying to wipe my dad’s tears away with Bunky’s tiny hands.

Aunty had inadvertently alerted my parents to the fact that I was unable to hear a word said. I was deaf.

Second Significance: Dad was a Menzies man. He thought the world of Pig-Iron Bob, Prime Minister at the time of my birth in 1939. Bob could do no wrong, say no wrong, think no wrong. And because Dad understood that lip-reading was useless for radio, he started to interpret what was being said via Aunty, right as it was being aired. Faithfully he imparted News Bulletins, Political Debates, The Country Hour and countless discussions of life in the 1940s.

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Read the rest of this entry »

Words to flail and words to nail

In ABC, John Faine Affair, Peter Clarke on February 7, 2013 at 1:21 PM

ABCFained

By Peter Clarke
February 7, 2013

Even the toughest journalist, with the most scar tissue, flinches at any accusation of bias. Or unfairness. Or lack of impartiality and balance in their reporting and analysis. It is a matter of personal pride and professional integrity.

These words and the meanings they bear lie at the heart of the current controversy swirling around veteran ABC Local Radio broadcaster, Jon Faine, and the negative findings by the national broadcaster’s internal Audience and Consumer Affairs Department.

Sadly, these words are hurled at perceived “opponents” by journalists and peeved citizens alike, in a range of differing contexts, with little regard to their actual meaning both in theory or professional practice. Of course, the antidotes to these accusations from whatever source are nearly always “facts” and logical calm analysis. Both, paradoxically, are rare commodities in these days of intense partisanship and ideological passions demonstrated by journalists, political players (not only politicians) and politically engaged citizens.

To make clarity and reliability even more elusive, the digital revolution has brought us ever-greater volumes of “journalistic” opinion, commentary and ostensible analysis, often masquerading as “straight reporting” or presented as a mélange of hybridised forms. The former clearer boundaries and marking of journalistic genres have fallen away.

So, as we pursue the story around Jon Faine’s on-air interviews with Michael Smith and Mark Baker and the negative findings against him, I offer a reflection on these key terms terms to anchor, to some extent, these notions for all of us as the discussion and debate unfold further, here and elsewhere.

But first … the ABC’s continuing silence about the Faine affair and what that might portend.

In the contemporary spirit of keeping you well aware of the enquiry process and able to access as many primary documents as possible, here are the emails I have sent so far to the first obvious contact points within the ABC.

Denise Musto works within the ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs Department. Despite that inviting title, it was not easy to get through even to her. Her first response when I asked for the detailed reasons for the negative findings against Faine was to ask me (reasonably enough) “What is your interest in this?”

She initially indicated that there would be no release of any detailed reasons to clarify the brief public statement (online within the Department’s site) of a negative finding against Faine.

She then avowed she was not a “spokesperson” and somebody from Radio Policy in Adelaide would ring me. They didn’t.

I then rang Denise Musto again. She assured me the assigned person from Radio would ring me. They haven’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Confessions of a News Junkie or Bye, Bye, Outdated Media, I’ve got a New Dealer

In ABC, MSM, Space Kidette on February 6, 2013 at 2:06 PM

The End of Newspapers

By Space Kidette
Source: 
Satellite News Network
February 3rd, 2013

Space Kidette Note: To put this post into context, you may want to read About page.
How did I go from being Outdated Media’s biggest fanboi to a consumer openly advocating against a media’s vile product?

News vs. Opinion 

The first and biggest problem for me was the almost insidious shift from fact-based news to the relentless drivel from small minded people being passed off as faux intellectual ‘opinion pieces’.

Somewhere along the line media outlets decided what consumers were clamouring for was their opinion. The who, what, when, where, why and how much of any news event often gets brushed aside, or totally ignored, in the journalist’s rush to furnish you with their personal take on events. Worse, the arrogance with which it is delivered manages to imply the audience are mindless drones who should feel privileged to perch at their feet, catching their pearls of wisdom.

News without much in the way of facts is just opinion and opinions are like arseholes – everybody’s got one. Let me make it clear. I don’t give a rats arse about any journo’s opinion. I’m quite capable reviewing and assessing facts, ascertaining their validity, conducting my own analysis and finally, determining my own view. What I want is from journalists is to deliver verified facts clearly, succinctly and in a timely manner – leave the rest to me.

Filters
It became apparent to me news was rapidly being filtered through the various lenses of political news publishers. The particular hue of the filter being applied to journalists, editors, and sub-editors varies with each outlet but is consistently cast over every article or broadcast. While I understand, and totally support, the right of any publisher to shape their news business, I will never subscribe to the belief that news businesses should be permitted to deliberately, methodically and ruthlessly shape political outcomes.

I flat-out refuse to pay media outlets to deliver to me their pre-packaged, political outcome driven opinions!

As for the ABC I believe, as a national broadcaster, their role should be to deliver the unvarnished facts. As an ideal to aspire to, the citizenry of every country should be able to access at least one news source that is devoid of opinion. In Australia we are incredibly privileged to have such a broadcaster. However the quality of political news being delivered today is questionable.

Much of the news presented is positively laden with politically affiliated opinion. Political news is distorted beyond all recognition by the many dubiously-sponsored shills and to my mind, as it stands at present, the ABC fails abysmally in its role as a trusted national news source. I can pretty much pre-empt, almost verbatim, what each political guests opinion will be!

Australia’s universities are chock-full of experts in their fields. As a country we are blessed that many of them are global leaders in their speciality. If the ABC is going to host discussions eliciting opinion, surely we should be ensuring those invited are real experts who are professional enough to discuss the matter without a cast-in-stone political bent! Read the rest of this entry »