Monday, September 28, 2009

Oops. AP publishes sketchy notes about pedophile celeb instead of article

Life is not going swimmingly for the director and persona-non-grata Roman Polanski.
To be first with the news requires a little oversight, and the Associated Press embarrassed itself when the initial notes between two wire reporters covering Roman Polanski's latest arrest in Switzerland were published instead of a more polished article. The mistake was rectified, but not before these speculative notes ran online and on the googlenews portal, due to aggregate 'bot feeds. It could have been worse, though. No egregious f-bombs were sent into cyberspace.
Click the BBC tech website for a matter-of-fact report. Would Reuters or AFP have gloated more ?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Newspaper runs apology for Palin headline

"A broad in Asia". Would you read bother to read that piece? A Fairbanks Alaska newspaper, which ran that headline over a short report about the ex-governor Sarah Palin's speaking jaunt to Honk Kong, had second thoughts about the misogynistic overtones of the word "broad". It was punning , not cunning. And not even current slang. See their apology here. Hat tip to Politics Daily for the link.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Controversial Covers

Back when people actually cared about the covers of magazines, a certain buzz arose when editors offended public decency and needed to be put a notorious cover under brown paper wraps because of complaints at the news stand or checkout counter.
Click here for a glimpse of the ten which raised the most eyebrows and lifted the profiles of the daring magazine issue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Numbers Game - do the math, hacks!

The big brouhaha over the number of anti-Obama rally-goers in Washington on 9/12, with media estimates varying from "tens of thousands" up to "a couple million", is worth examining. Particularly because these days tweets can repeat and recycle erroneous estimates and the real number of aggrieved folks who attended these tea-parties gets lost in cyber-cobwebs of misinformation. The result is hysterical, not historical, statistics. Experienced reporters know that organizers tend to overestimate the turnout, while officials often underestimate crowds, at least at unticketed events.

Consider this Journalism 101 hint from the Slate website:
How do you measure a crowd?
Basic arithmetic. Estimates depend on three variables: the area of the available space, the proportion of the space that's occupied, and the crowd's density. While the first measurement is objective, and the second fairly easily determined with aerial photography, the third is a little trickier. It's customary to assume that in a very crowded place (like a commuter train during peak hours) people occupy 2.5 square feet, whereas in a looser gathering each person takes up more like 5 square feet.

For better accuracy, you also ought to consider how long the event lasted, because not every protestor stays for the duration. And a separate estimate for the security presence is helpful.
For example, at a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem in 2006, police outnumbered marchers almost two to one.

Moonbats and wingnuts exchanged vitriol and snark over the disparate numbers last weekend. Most amusing was blogger Nate Silver's assessment (picked up by the Columbia Journalism Review:
There is a big difference, obviously, between 70,000 and 2,000,000. That’s not a twofold or threefold exaggeration — it’s roughly a thirtyfold exaggeration.”
The way this false estimate came into being is relatively simple: Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, lied, claiming that ABC News had reported numbers of between 1.0 and 1.5 million when they never did anything of the sort. A few tweets later, the numbers had been exaggerated still further to 2 million. Kibbe wasn’t “in error”, as Malkin gently puts it [in her update to her 9/12 tea party post]. He lied. He did the equivalent of telling people that his penis is 53 inches long.

Well that last statement is also hyberbole, one assumes. To reach that figure, the male apparatus under discussion would measure 1.7 inches!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Murder of 2 Wire Reporters recounted

How the military targeted two Reuters reporters and killed them in Baghdad is outlined in a new book, according to today's Washington Post. The book presents
a graphic, second-by-second description of the U.S. military's 2007 killing of two Reuters journalists in Baghdad, an incident that the news organization says it cannot investigate fully because ...the Pentagon has withheld key records of the event.
Chilling stuff. The photo shows Reuters reporters following a strafing of them in Gaza by the Israeli Air Force three years ago. No deaths resulted, but there was little publicity over the outrage, which injured two journalists

Monday, September 14, 2009

Robohack's dilemma due to multi-tasking?

Colleagues are wondering about Stephen Farrell,pictured left in Jerusalem,sans beard and Pashto cap. The abducted NY Times reporter wwas recently freed by a controversial paratroopers' raid that left at least 4 dead, including his late right-hand man, Sultan Munadi.

Is the reason they "stayed too long" at the riverside because Farrell isn't really adept yet at working with a camera? That's a rookie's mistake and Farrell isn't a rookie--at least at being a war correspondent. But he is rather new to the all-in-one videographer-cum-investigative reporter schtick which the NY Times is promoting. Farrell underwent initial tech training in the summer, to prepare him for filing video and audio files to the At War Blog (notes from the front lines). Robohack has earned a reputation as a relentless Gearhead who can move quickly.

Although a veteran reporter, he's not like a TV news cameraman who's been doing it for is likely that Steve is trying to get too much, and work like a print journalist to get more facts, despite all the extra attention that camera equipment

The art of being a good broadcast journalist is knowing how little you
actually need, ie when you have enough to wrap and get out of there... doing tv and radio together, even tho they are similar, slows you down considerably. Patrick Cockburn's wonderful war reporter's diary talks about his modus operandi in Baghdad, staying in places no more than 10 minutes, which won't work if you must get the pics and tape the interviews too.

Jon Swain, a notable Times of London correspondent, examines the incident too., as does ex-Observer editor Donald Trelford, who still is haunted by risktaking after one of his foreign correspondents got beheaded in Iraq. It's distressing to see that the Times has cropped the late fixer/interpreter, Sultan Munadi, completely out of the photo!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pictures of war can carry more moral meaning than thousands of words

Pictures of war can carry more moral meaning than thousands of words | Ben Macintyre - Times Online

Shared via AddThis
Publishing the controversial photo of the dying Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, aged 21, over the objections of his family drew widespread condemnaiton of the Associated Press as well as a tongue lashing from Alaska's ex-governor, Sarah Palin, on her Facebook page. OMG. The thoughtful article referenced above puts this photograph into perspective.

Did friendly fire kill brave translator?

Pix credit- NY Times
Steve Farrell, Irish/British dual citizen and NY Times reporter, wears a local hat on the left. Photo snapped with his translator at his side the day before their abduction.

Negotiations were reportedly underway between the International Red Cross and the kidnappers, yet a rescue raid by Special Forces on the fourth day of captivity led to a shoot out and the death of NY Times reporter Stephen Farrell's local fixer/interpreter, a paratrooper and a civilian. This is a troubling incident, fueling Afghan anger at Nato troops, particularly because two warnings were ignored by the gung-ho journalist, who had briefly been kidnapped outside Baghdad. The slain body of the interpreter was left at the scene by the rescuers, who mistook him for an insurgent. Questions are being raised about the British raid and the muzzling of the mainstream media.

Sultan Munadi, the Afghan translator and fixer who agreed to work with Stephen Farrell, was in his early 30s. According to the Associated Press, he
was employed by The New York Times starting in 2002... He left the company a few years later to work for a local radio station.
He left Afghanistan last year to study for a master's degree in Germany. He came back to Kabul last month for a holiday over Ramadan and to see his family, and agreed to accompany Farrell to Kunduz on a freelance basis. He was married and had two young sons.

Rest In Peace, Sultan.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Progressive Cyber-site Truthout joins online journalists' union

Instead of sending out its typical emails begging for further donations to support the site, which gathers and disseminates overlooked articles, this left-of- center American aggregator made some news itself last month. Organizing a journalist union in cyberspace, what Truthout labels an "historic act", is no small achievement. Kudos Here's the full story:. Will it make a difference?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Israeli soldiers fire on Al Jazeera correspondent - 04 Sep 09

Jacky Rowland dodges tear gas cannisters fired directly at her by teenage Israeli troops at the 'security barrier' in the West Bank town of Bilin. Grace under pressure.

Friday, September 4, 2009

That's one giant misstep for Bangladesh news!

Ooops. It's not rocket science, but short-staffed newspapers sometimes run stories verbatim without checking original sources these days, as they feed the gaping maw of the 24 hour international news cycle. The problem is that sometimes humor doesn't translate. Bangladeshi newspapers ran a Moon landing denial piece printed by the satirical site, The Onion, not realizing that the tone indicated tongue in cheek.
According to the BBC:
The article said Mr Armstrong had told a news conference he had been "forced to reconsider every single detail of the monumental journey after watching a few persuasive YouTube videos and reading several blog posts" by a conspiracy theorist.

The truth is that Neil Armstrong never gave such an interview. It was made up
Daily Manab Zamin

"It took only a few hastily written paragraphs published by this passionate denier of mankind's so-called 'greatest technological achievement' for me to realise I had been living a lie," the fake article "quoted" Mr Armstrong as saying.

The made-up quote went on to say that although the journey had felt real, in fact "the entire thing was filmed on a sound stage, most likely in New Mexico".

Six Months on, Most Laid-off staffers Rocky Mountain News earn less

TEMPLE TALK: Reflections from Rocky Mountain News reporters, photographers, artists, videographers and cartoonists six months after the paper's final edition

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hack hostages released by North Korea tell why they risked imprisonment

In today's Los Angeles Times, read true tales from the Hermit Kingdom on the perils of chasing human traffickers, and why readers need to pay more attention to the story journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were chasing than the story in which they unwittingly took part. To protect their sources before Bubba Clinton came to their rescue, these reporters swallowed their notes and ruined their tapes.
One conservative talk jock got their names mixed up with a pair of breeding pandas in the zoo. The indignities of hackdom!

Undercover reporters 'fess up on NPR. Weighing Deceit vs a 'bigger truth'

Click above to listen to NPR's recent broadcast of clandestine justifications and special pleadings.
Who do you trust? Apologies to Nelly Bly, but in this day and age, this technique resembles a set-up or a stunt rather than real reporting. Think Borat and Bruno. Shudder: not on the level and rather laughable. For many Boomer-era editors, this sort of reportage smacks of Candid Camera, not serious journalism. Fun to do, though. A typica foreign correspondent wheeze is to purchase a girl for sale from, say, a brothel in Nepal or Cambodia, then get her story and set her free. The catch 22 is that you still are paying her pimp/ madam, and it feeds into human trafficking. Hmmmm

Classic Photography in Lego - The Daily Beast

British photographer Mike Stimpson playfully reimagines iconic images from Alfred Eisenstadt, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Capa, Eddie Adams, and other 20th-century masters.

Posted using ShareThis