News Leadership 3.0

October 29, 2009

When to “unpublish” news? Almost never

A project by the Associated Press Managing Editors looks at the long tail of news and how to handle requests to remove online content

One topic of discussion this morning at APME‘s annual conference was a study by Toronto Star Public Editor Kathy English about when to make news disappear if there are problems with the content or if someone in the story or affected by the story has a problem with it.

English’s findings:
- Public requests to remove content are becoming increasingly frequent and are likely to increase.
- Many news organizations have policies for when to “unpublish” but there is no industry standard.
- News organizations are highly reluctant to take down content unless there is a compelling legal reason to do so or someone’s life in endangered.
- Reports of minor criminal charges are a significant source of requests to unpublish. Since news organizations frequently do not follow up on such charges (reporting conviction or acquittal), it’s particularly difficult to turn down requests to remove the content. Gatehouse is experimenting with programming police blotter reports to “fall off” their sites six months after publication, English said.
- “Source remorse” (“I didn’t mean to say that.” “I wish I hadn’t said that.”) does not justify unpublishing content.
- Editors surveyed reported that even when they agree to take down stories they don’t really go away. Often the original story will pop up on search rather than an update that corrected misinformation.

Does your news organization deal with this problem? What are your best practices?

July 07, 2009

Among ethnic groups, the digital divide narrows

In a guest post, Craig Matsuda says that among Asian Americans and English-speaking Latinos, Internet access is as high as that of whites in the United States. It’s important to think about different usage among ethnic and age groups.

imageCraig Matsuda, a longtime editor at The Los Angeles Times and now a consultant, coordinated Knight Digital Media Center’s recent conference, “Transforming Ethnic News Organizations for the Digital Now,” in partnership with New America Media and the McCormick Foundation, in Atlanta last month. In the process, Craig learned a lot about media usage by different ethnic and age groups. I have asked Craig to share what he learned in a series of guest posts that starts today.

By Craig Matsuda

Don’t underestimate the online presence of communities of color.

While concerns about the digital divide are justified, the gap is narrowing, especially among Asian Americans and English-speaking Latinos, whose Internet access at least matches that of whites in the United States.

Age, economics and geography, of course, still play huge roles in determining - and often limiting—the online participation of ethnic groups and communities of color. That means there’s a lag in net access for African Americans and Latinos whose chief language is Spanish. It’s also true for poor, rural or older people in ethnic or minority communities.

But changes in technology, particularly advances in mobile devices and Wi-Fi connectivity, are combining with other factors to give new energy and a boost to communities of color online.

I researched this issue for a presentation to ethnic media leaders last month at “Transforming Ethnic News Organizations for the Digital Now.”

My sources include Arbitron, the Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, the National Ad Council, the Pew Internet and American Life Project and Scarborough. (For links to research articles, see below.)

For starters, it’s key to know that, in general:

- African Americans are a big population with a growing gray segment and with age- and economic-differences in technology use

- Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups, one which skews young and in which economics, language (mostly English- or Spanish-speaking) and assimilation are key tech considerations.
- Asian Americans are a fast growing group, which also skews young and which works particularly well with technology

More than 70 percent of English speaking Latinos, Asians and African Americans told FSU researchers in 2008 that they have higher-cost high-speed access; just under 50 percent of Spanish-speaking Latinos said they do. Those rates match those of majority populations surveyed.

Meantime, Latinos, as group, have turned to cell phones and rely on them very heavily to: surf the web for information, text message, download and find and listen to music and watch videos, studies show.

Asian Americans, who also are heavy cell phone users, are on-the-go online folks, too, in a different way: They rely more than other ethnic groups on laptops and Wi-Fi for cyber connection.

While two-thirds of African Americans asked said they own a cell phone, they don’t use them as much as Latinos or Asians do for web connection, text messaging and downloading.

Latinos, both those who speak mostly English and those whose principle language is Spanish, have become enthusiastic web site owners and bloggers, as have Asian Americans. More than 35% of Spanish-speaking Latinos said in one study that they own a web site; one in five Asians and Latinos said they blog. Those of the immigrant generation, researchers say, likely are using these tools to share lives online with distant families.

Asian Americans, Latinos and African Americans also are big buyers and users of digital cameras and video cameras, especially when those tools come aboard cell phones.

All three groups, at rates higher even than majority populations, participate regularly on social media.

As mentioned, there are not only differences in technology use among members of the various group by language facility, economics and degree of assimilation, age also is a discernible factor: more than half of the Latinos on the net are younger than 35 (versus 35% of the general population; in African Americans, lower net access and application occurs among the older and poorer.

Still, to get a clue about the potential of these groups, which are often ignored if not shunned by traditional media, consider this: In an elite marketing segment of those with high affluence and highest tech savvy—a niche of young, urban, educated young men—there’s a disproportionate representation of Asians and English-speaking Latinos.

Part 2: Ethnic news leaders embrace online media.
Part 3: Ethnic media organizations face formidable challenges

To read more and to see where elements of this post came from, here are research links:

- “Online Technology Ownership 2008,” Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University

- “The Brave New World of an Emerging Diverse Online Majority,” Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University

- “The Multicultural World of Social Media Marketing,”

- “Internet Usage Among Minorities and Low-income Communities,” (See Lee Rainey, Gretchen Livingston presentations for National Ad Council)

- “Home Broadband Adoption 2008,” Pew Internet

- “Mobile Access to Data and Information,” March 2008, Pew Internet

- “Adults and social network websites,” Pew Internet

- “Hispanic Fact Pack: 2008 Annual Guide to Hispanic Marketing and Media,” Ad Age

- “Hispanic Radio Today (2008),” “Black Radio Today (2008),”Urban Radio (2007),” “Black Consumer Study (2006),” Abritron

- “The Power of the Hispanic Consumer Online (2008),” Scarborough

- “Understanding the Digital Savvy Consumer (2008),” Scarborough

July 01, 2009

Hello micro local! EveryBlock code is public

EveryBlock, which aggregates news and data at the neighborhood block level, makes its source code public so developers in any community can make it their own

EveryBlock scrapes the Web for content of interest and makes it available by neighborhood down to the block level. Simply input an address and it will show you links to news, links to public data such as building permits, rezoning proposals, liquor licenses, restaurant inspections and, of course, crime reports. Developed with the help of a $1.1 million grant from the Knight Foundation, It’s online in more than a dozen cities.

EveryBlock developer Adrian Holovaty announced publication of the code.

Over the past two years, EveryBlock has been funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. The purpose of the grant was twofold: to launch this experiment in “micro-local” news, and to release the source code. Today, as our grant period comes to an end, we’re fulfilling that second purpose.

“You can read more about the open-sourcing and download the code at our source code page. (Keep in mind it’ll probably make sense only if you’re a web developer/programmer.) We hope this extensive code base helps spark lots of great work.”

Holovaty said EveryBlock would continue operating as a private company. But he wouldn’t say more about plans for now.


June 04, 2009

Foundations to the rescue as local news organizations diminish?

“New Media Makers” documents a growing role of foundations in supporting new community news outlets to fill information gaps and that holds promise for creating a new news ecosystem that is more diverse and more engaging to citizens as the news industry declines.

A new report pushes back at the notion that the decline of traditional news organizations will inevitably result in a vast wasteland of bloggers with agendas dominating the information stream.
Instead, the Knight Community News Network report finds that new structures for producing journalism are emerging to fill information gaps in local communities, often with support from foundations.
New Media Makers,” says 180 foundations have contributed $128 million to support 115 news projects in 17 states and the District of Columbia since 2005.
“Philanthropic foundations are increasingly embracing the idea that journalism projects can be a funding fit,” says Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, which operates the Knight Community News Network.
“These are not random acts of journalism, such as eyewitnesses uploading photos or videos of a major catastrophe. Nor are they the rants of Internet cowboys opining on the state of neighborhood affairs in their individual blogs,” the report says. “Rather, these new projects are often organized acts of journalism, constructed with an architecture and a mind-set to investigate discrete topics or cover geographic areas. The projects provide deliberate, accurate and fair accounts of day-to-day happenings in communities that nowadays have little or no daily news coverage.”
The report profiles four news organizations: New Haven Independent, PlanPhilly in Philadelphia., Voice of San Diego in California and the New Castle News & Opinion Weekly in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Perhaps of most interest to established news organizations is a database of foundation-assisted news organizations. Editors can use the database to discover sites in their areas that may be helping to fill coverage gaps.
These emerging organizations may not offer the complete, daily, fine-tuned packages that traditional journalists associate with quality news coverage. But their entry into what could be a more diverse and citizen-engaging news ecology is welcome.
(Disclosure: I coach community news startups as a consultant to the Knight Foundation, which is partnering with local community foundations to fund new initiatives through its Community Information Challenge. New Haven Independent and Voice of San Diego are among the projects receiving funding.)

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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