Saturday, April 28, 2007

Op-Ed: Who -- or what -- is a journalist? - The Stanford Daily Online

The Stanford Daily
Thursday April 26, 2007 Last update: 01:29 AM PDT

Op-Ed: Who is a journalist?

April 26, 2007
By Anthony Sanchez

In the old days, it was easy to recognize who was a journalist, one belonging to that class of elite individuals who could bring down a president with their powerful craft: simply look for the notebook and the press card stuck into the side of a fedora. But digital technology has turned everything upside down, and those days are long gone. That, and no one wears fedoras anymore.

Now, with a digital camcorder, a computer, and an Internet connection, anybody can be boat-rocker by capturing a Macaca moment or bringing attention to Don Imus racist broadcast on their blog. So the question must be asked: just who is a journalist, nowadays?

It is an important question in light of both the jailing of videoblogger Josh Wolf (now free after 226 days in jail) for refusing to comply with a subpoena for his unaired footage of a 2005 demonstration, and the ongoing debate over a federal shield law to create a journalistic privilege to protect the sources and methods of journalism from compelled disclosure. It is here that the definition of a journalist begins to matter: to whom would this journalistic privilege apply?

However, defining a journalist is no easy task, and many have qualms about the very prospect of inviting the government to define a journalist. To them, the act is a form of licensing, and therefore an affront to the First Amendment.

As Floyd Abrams, a legendary First Amendment lawyer who argued for a journalistic privilege in the Supreme Court case Branzburg v. Hayes, has said, ...merely determining the scope of the privilege (when would it apply?) and identifying who would receive it ... [are] difficult matters at best.

Indeed, defining a journalist is risky business. Any governmental definition of a journalist could either be too narrow and exclusionary, failing to account for changes and nuances (such a freelancer or bloggers), or too broad, with the unintended consequence of granting a blanket testimonial privilege to anyone who can claim to be a journalist.

For example, Californias shield law, which is codified in the state constitution and attempts to define a journalist, faces the problem of exclusion. A journalist is defined as a publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication. It is these people, the law goes on to say, who shall not be adjudged in contempt...for refusing to disclose the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for publication in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.

Whether a freelancer who writes while not connected to a news organization (like Josh Wolf) or an individual who produces a piece of journalism only once on his blog is a journalist is not entirely clear by the state of Californias definition. Is a blog considered a periodical publication?

When I asked Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whether or not bloggers are journalists, he succinctly responded, Yes. A blogger is a journalist if they are doing journalism.

Bankstons response is an interesting one as it shifts the focus from the question of who is a journalist, to the question of what is journalism? I asked Bankston if a good legal definition of journalism existed. He responded that a flexible definition came from a case in which the Ninth Circuit and Second Circuit Federal Courts of Appeals attempted to determine when to apply a First Amendment journalists privilege.

The courts determined that the journalists privilege applied when the person seeking to invoke the privilege had the intent to use material - sought, gathered or received - to disseminate information to the public and [that] such intent existed at the inception of the newsgathering process. If both conditions are satisfied, then the privilege may be invoked.

Bankston argued that this definition correctly recognizes that what the First Amendment protects here isnt a person or a sector of the media but the act of journalism. Furthermore, he said, the decision discriminates neither on the basis of whether the person doing journalism is a professional or amateur, nor on the basis of the medium used.

Bankston is on to something here. The First Amendment does not favor one class of individuals over another. If anybody can do journalism at any time, then the entire debate of protecting journalism has been mistakenly focused on the exclusionary, who part of journalism rather than the what part of journalism.

The constant advent of new technologies means that journalism is a rapidly changing field. The definition of a journalist, if codified under the federal shield Law, must be flexible enough to allow for these changes in the reporting business and be rooted in what is journalism.

So who is a journalist? A journalist is simply someone who does journalism who gathers news and information for the purposes of dissemination to the public.

Anthony Sanchez is the director of the Center on Media for the Roosevelt Institution at Stanford. He is a senior in Communications and Creative Writing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dan Gillmor: 'Horror has given us a glimpse of Gilour media future'


Online Journalism News

Virginia Tech: 'Horror has given us a glimpse of our media future'

Posted: 26 April 2007

By Dan Gillmor

Once again, horror has given us a glimpse of our media future: simultaneously conversational and distributed,
mass and personal.
The killings at Virginia Tech brought to the forefront the remarkable evolution in media over the past few years. And as
we move into a time in which we will be saturated with data, we need to be clear on some of the implications of
democratised media.
We have had any number of glimpses already in this new century. On September 11, 2001, we read blog postings and watched
citizen videos of planes smashing into the World Trade Center towers. During the Asian tsunami, tourist videos showed
waves smashing onto shores. A man in the London underground, wielding a mobile phone camera, took the image we all
remember best from that day.
The scope of the media shift was clearer again on Monday. Some of the most widely viewed images came from a mobile phone
camera aimed at the police response by a student, Jamal Albaughouti. His video made its way to CNN and other media, and
was seen by millions.
But others on and off the Blacksburg, Va., campus were also using conversational media in highly visible ways. Social
network communications, blog postings, email and a host of other technologies were brought to bear by people who were
directly and indirectly part of this huge event.
The studentsÿÿ words were achingly poignant. They were straight from the source, not pushed through a traditional-media
funnel as they had have been in the not-so-distant past.
They brought to mind a blog post I spotted after the September 11 terrorist attacks by a young man in Brooklyn, NY, across
the river from the World Trade Center. He wrote: ÿÿNow I know what a burning city smells like.ÿÿ
The democratisation of media is not just about creation, though that has been the most notable aspect so far. Putting the
tools into everyoneÿÿs hands has produced an explosion of media creation, as blogs and sharing sites such as YouTube and
Flickr show us.
Traditional media think of distribution: making journalism or movies or programs and sending them out to consumers. This
is inverted in a democratised media world, where we all have access to what we want, as well as when and where.
I didnÿÿt turn on my TV yesterday except in the evening, to watch a national networkÿÿs news report. I wanted to see a
summary of what a serious journalism organisation had to say about what it knew so far.
Instead, during the day, I used the online media - including the major news sites - to get the latest information, sifting
it, making judgments about credibility and reliability as I read and watched and listened. That, too, is the future in
many cases.
Itÿÿs also worth noting that the citizen media component of this terrible event is not a new to the digital era. When
President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas back in 1963, Abraham Zapruder caught the gruesome killing on a home
movie camera - footage that became an essential part of the historical record. But the difference between then and
tomorrow is this:
In 1963, one man with a camera captured the event on film. In a very few years, a similar situation would be captured by
thousands of people - all holding high-resolution video cameras - and all of those cameras would be connected to
high-speed digital networks.
That is different.
Remember, too, that the passengers aboard the airplanes on September 11, 2001, were making voice calls to loved ones and
colleagues with mobile phones. What if they had been sending videos to the world of what was happening inside those doomed
We will still need journalists to help sort things out. But the "burning city" words from 2001 revealed something.
We used to say that journalists write the first draft of history. Not so, not any longer. The people on the ground at
these events write the first draft. This is not a worrisome change, not if we are appropriately sceptical and to find
sources we trust. We will need to retool media literacy for the new age, too.

Dan Gillmor is director of the Center for Citizen Media at the University of California, Berkeley. He is speaking at the
NMK Forum07 event in London on 7 June 2007.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Topix founder asks: Was mass-media just a passing phenomenon?;?articleID=199001316

Web 2.0 Expo: Media Companies Confront Mortality

Panelists offer troubling news to traditional media companies about the
future of the online landscape.

By Thomas Claburn

April 16, 2007 03:00 PM

Representatives of traditional media companies who came to the Web 2.0
Expo 2007 hoping to hear how their companies fit into the evolving online
landscape learned little that offered comfort at the Media 2.0 conference
session led by Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.
Apart from the acknowledgment that Google hadn't quite extended its
dominance of search advertising into brand promotion -- though Google's
agreement to acquire DoubleClick will change that -- the message for
old-style media magnates was more or less change or die.

"Maybe mass media was just a temporary phenomenon," mused Rich Skrenta,
co-founder and CEO of news aggregator Topix, noting that mass media arose
as a consequence of controlled distribution and captive consumer
attention. Today, of course, getting one's message out, or film or song,
for that matter, doesn't require approval from distribution channel
gatekeepers. And that's profoundly troubling to those who thrived under
that model.

It's not hard to understand why panelists make pronouncements such as,
"The mobile internet is going to put the final nail into print media," as
Ted Shelton, founder and CEO of personal news aggregation site The
Personal Bee, put it.

"Consumers have scarce attention and abundant choices," came a question
and lament from a member of the audience who wanted to know how
advertising would work in the new world order.

The advice offered by panelists was to be early to market and unique as a
startup. And for established companies, the recommended strategy was to
get past anger and denial, embrace slowness as a large company, and become
part of Web 2.0 through acquisitions.

Of course that strategy -- legitimate despite the obvious element of wish
fulfillment coming from a panel full of poorly capitalized Web startups --
brings with it the risk of smothering the acquired company. Shelton
likened the situation to a "3-year-old getting a new hamster and loving it
so much she squeezes it to death."

So what's a multimillion dollar media company to do? Give up on creating
branded content and become a content aggregator, suggested Shelton, who,
like his fellow panelists, represented content aggregation companies.

That didn't sit too well with the media executive whose question had
prompted that response. Rejecting the idea, he countered, "We have a 70%
type-in ratio," a reference to the fact that most visitors to his
company's Web site typed the company's brand name into the browser address
bar directly.

The question is how long major media brands can continue to drive such
behavior in the absence of consumer attention. It's a worry that has
companies like Microsoft looking for solutions, as can be seen from the
company's recent patent application for "network-branded recorded
programs," which describes a way to let consumers search for recorded
video content by brand.

Whether such initiatives will counter the erosion of brand power as
brand-agnostic aggregators capture more and more eyeballs remains to be
seen. The one certainty for media companies at this point is that doing
nothing is not an option.


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

DILEMMA: Without 'control point' -- is media alarmingly out of control?


POSTED: Friday, April 20, 2007

New-media culture challenges limits of journalism ethics

By Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

The Virginia Tech shooting is the first major U.S. news story in which
traditional media and new-media technologies became visibly interdependent.
Yet how that combination of old and new enabled the world to see the final
ramblings of mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui raises an uncomfortable question:
When everybody can publish in the world of new media, what will the world
see next?

As new-media expert Jeff Jarvis wrote on his blog Thursday,
ÿÿThere is no control point anymore. When anyone and everyone ÿÿ witnesses,
criminals, victims, commentators, officials and journalists ÿÿ can publish
and broadcast as events happen, there is no longer any guarantee that news
and society itself can be filtered, packaged, edited, sanitized, polished,

NBC News anchor Brian Williams called the photos, videos and text Cho mailed
directly to his network a ÿÿmultimedia manifesto.ÿÿ The network released only
heavily edited parts of Choÿÿs submission, enough so it could convey ÿÿthe
mind-set of the troubled gunman,ÿÿ Williams said.

Now, some media analysts are wondering what the next multimedia manifesto
will contain. Will somebody upload a live hostage situation?

And given the ÿÿlet-the-masses-decideÿÿ ethos of this new-media landscape,
some want NBC to release everything Cho sent.

The questions and concerns about the boundaries of openness are being raised
not just by traditional media fuddy-duddies but by leaders of new media,
those who often praise the virtues of a ÿÿdemocratizedÿÿ media world in which
anyone can publish his own writing, video or photos.

The Virginia Tech story offered the most vivid example yet of how
traditional news sources, like cable news networks, and new-media sources,
like the social networking site Facebook, are jointly creating a mosaic of
news coverage. Yet the Cho video showed how that marriage of technology
could be outpacing ethical standards.

ÿÿIt is future shock,ÿÿ said Micah Sifry, executive editor of the Personal
Democracy Forum, a New York think-tank that explores the intersections of
technology and politics. ÿÿThe technology has developed so fast that the
culture hasnÿÿt caught up with all of it.

ÿÿOn one hand, you have the advocates, who want NBC to release all of (Choÿÿs
manifesto). On the other, you have people who are saying, ÿÿWait a minute.ÿÿ
This is a very challenging moment.ÿÿ

As Sifry wrote Thursday on his blog,, ÿÿThe father
in me doesnÿÿt want my kids finding this on the Web . . . the openness
advocate in me agrees that we donÿÿt make horrors go away by hiding them.
Iÿÿm conflicted about this.ÿÿ

ÿÿConflicted is the right word,ÿÿ said Dave Winer, a pioneering blogger and
influential figure in new media. He would like to see NBC release all of
Choÿÿs material. ÿÿYes, I realize that itÿÿs unfortunate right now that this
guy gets to control the discussion.ÿÿ

On his blog, Winer wrote Thursday, ÿÿWe hadnÿÿt foreseen this
use of the technology because, as utopians, we tend to look for the good
stuff. I liked to think I had a balanced view, and could see where bloggers
werenÿÿt doing good, but I hadnÿÿt seriously considered our tools used to
further such a bad cause.

ÿÿWhen you see a suicide bomber with a camera strapped to his or her head,
youÿÿll know that the bad has caught up with the good.ÿÿ

But Winer and Sifry donÿÿt think the answer to these ethical dilemmas is to
restrict the freedom of people to publish. ÿÿWhat works best is an
open-networked system,ÿÿ Sifry said, ÿÿItÿÿs the difference between trusting a
few people to make decisions for everyone and trusting many people.ÿÿ

Yet after a day of repetitive airings of Choÿÿs images on news outlets, Fox
News was among the news outlets that promised to restrict rebroadcasting.

ÿÿWe believe that 18 hours after they were first broadcast and distributed
via the Internet, our news viewers have had the opportunity to see the
images and draw their own conclusions about them,ÿÿ said John Moody, Fox News
Channelÿÿs executive vice president of editorial. ÿÿWe see no reason to
continue assaulting the public with these disturbing and demented images. We
reserve the right to resume airing them as news warrants.ÿÿ

By Thursday, the other networks also decided to limit or eliminate showing
Choÿÿs video.

Traditional outlets acknowledge that current technology enables offensive
material to circulate, no matter what they do.

ÿÿIn the end, itÿÿs going to get out there,ÿÿ said Jay Wallace, executive
producer for news at Fox News Channel. ÿÿEven if every newspaper and cable
news channel doesnÿÿt put it out there, somebody will.ÿÿ

ÿÿThe lesson for this week is that the news is everywhere. The news is on
Facebook,ÿÿ said Jennifer Sizemore, editor in chief of Like other
news outlets, MSNBC turned to social networking sites like MySpace and
Facebook to find students to interview about the Virginia Tech slayings.

ÿÿI donÿÿt view them as the competition,ÿÿ said Sizemore. ÿÿI see them as
enlarging the conversation.ÿÿ

That broadened conversation has contributed to ratings spikes. The 1.8
million people who watched Fox on Monday, the day the shooting occurred,
represented a 115 percent jump in ratings over Foxÿÿs average for the first
part of this year. CNNÿÿs 1.4 million viewers were a ratings jump of 186
percent for that same period. had 108.8 million page views
Tuesday, a record for the site.

Both new and traditional media leaders know that many people following the
story on TV were also checking it online, monitoring social networking sites
and other online news outlets for the latest developments.

That partially explains why cable news networks broadcast Virginia Tech
coverage nearly exclusively through Wednesday. They didnÿÿt want to risk
losing viewers to another outlet.

ÿÿIn those early hours, it is a feeding frenzy,ÿÿ said Foxÿÿs Wallace. ÿÿWe know
that people are flipping around everywhere for news.ÿÿ

Jarvis said the future of cable news ÿÿ in which viewers are likely to watch
television on their computers ÿÿ could be different. With bandwidth cheaper
and broader, perhaps there will be a CNN channel devoted exclusively to
saturation coverage of the big story of the day. If viewers prefer to hear
news from Iraq or Washington or China, they could flip over to the regular
CNN channel.

When Jarvis wanted to check out the latest developments from Virginia Tech
this week, he said he went home after a day of reading online and did
something that might sound surprising, given his new-media identity: ÿÿI
flipped on the television. Part of it was habit. But there are some things
that the big outlets still do well.ÿÿ

Popularity: 2% [?]


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

VIDEO: Introducing the book -- point of view matters

This video shows what might might have been like to try and use a book to
a person who was only used to reading from scrolls.

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