Interactive video by mobile — user-prompted interviews?

Is this the next step for video interviews recorded using a mobile phone? Not only live streaming to a website, but questions from viewers coming through on the same mobile for the interviewer to ask…

That’s how (video)blogger Robert Scoble has been operating at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to the BBC’s Tim Weber, who saw questions coming in as he was interviewed:

within half a minute Robert had live on his screen a reader’s query about the BBC’s video-on-demand policy. Robert asked me the question straight away, and as we continued talking about the mobile phone industry and video on the web, more BBC-related queries piled up.

The Observer’s tangle with science story — now removed from website

The Observer seems to have pulled a front-page story from its website, after problems emerged with the article, which was published on 8 July 2007.
Observer front page 8 July 2007

The case raises some interesting questions not only about science reporting — but also about corrections and clarifications, and the importance of some journalistic essentials.

Ben Goldacre, who writes the Bad Science column in The Guardian, has analysed the article in detail in his column and on his blog and in the British Medical Journal.

He’s expressed his concerns forcefully (follow the links above to read his detailed analysis):

I am pretty jaded and sceptical, but this front page story has completely stunned and astonished me. The misrepresentations and errors went way beyond simply misunderstanding the science, and after digging right to the bottom of it all, knowing what I know now, I have never resorted to hyperbole before, but I can honestly say: this episode has changed the way I read newspapers.

The difficulties lie not only with the original story, Ben suggests — but also with the clarifications from The Observer’s Readers’ Editor, Stephen Pritchard, which appeared in the two following issues: on 15 July and 22 July 2007.

Ben Goldacre’s assessment of the situation:

Two failed “clarifications” later that clarify nothing, and I am even less impressed. Retract. Delete. Apologise.

One of the journalistic failings seems to have been that no-one from The Observer apparently contacted Dr Fiona Scott, even before publishing the first clarification. She then posted some comments online, which The Observer published as part of its second clarification — again without having spoken to her or exchanged emails, it appears. However, it took Ben Goldacre a quick Google search and a couple of hours to get an email reply, as he notes in this post.

The original Observer article used to be online here. The Google cache of the original story is here — or at least it when I wrote this post. But if the article was pulled for legal reasons, perhaps it won’t be on Google’s cache for much longer.

Will The Observer run a third clarification next Sunday?

Meanwhile, credit to its sister paper, The Guardian, at least, for publishing Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column on the article.

Using a course blog to encourage critical reflection by students — HEA annual conference

hea-logo.gifMore on this theme — notes from my session at the Higher Education Academy annual conference in Harrogate are available here (PDF file).

If you’re reading this post without having seen anything previously about the project, you might find it useful to read the following outline (the abstract for my conference session). Then the notes from my presentation will probably make more sense. Either way, please add a comment to let me know what you make of the project — click on ‘add a comment’ above (under the title for this post) or, if you’re looking at this post on its own, use the comment box beneath it.

To encourage students on a postgraduate journalism programme to engage with their own learning, they were asked to contribute to a blog on three main themes: their own experiences as journalists; published articles/broadcasts etc, particularly to highlight what they were learning and putting in to practice; and contemporary developments in journalism.

The guidelines and assessment criteria explicitly encouraged students to reflect critically in their posts to the blog; to ‘add value’; and to make connections, particularly with their own experience, assignments and ideas.

This session will discuss the main findings of an evaluation of the blog, using an analysis of students’ contributions (more than 400) drawing on the literature of reflective journals and e-learning, and the results of a questionnaire to gauge students’ experience of using the blog as learners. Initial findings suggest the initiative has highlighted valuable potential for reflective learning, with some recommendations for improving its future application.

Readers who have read my previous post (and notes) on this project, based on my WJEC session, will note similarities! It’s mainly a shift of emphasis for the different participants: journalism educators at WJEC; lecturers from across disciplines, with a serious interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning at the HEA.

Teaching and learning for digital (multimedia) journalism

Reflections from a syndicate at the World Journalism Education Congress — I’ve been part of a group of journalism lecturers discussing adapting journalism education to a digital age. Guy Berger from Rhodes University has blogged about this (and other points from WJEC).

The content of what we teach and what students learn (including skills) has formed a large part of discussions — but today we’ve also focused on how: teaching and learning strategies (hooray!).

I argue that teaching and learning needs to reflect more of the characteristics of digital journalism (and Web 2.0). This involves plenty of approaches and methods that have much to recommend them on proven pedagogical grounds, such as:

  • collaborative and interactive student-led group projects
  • open-ended assignments that foster exploration
  • peer feedback and assessment
  • enquiry- (or problem-) based learning (EBL/PBL)
  • students negotiating their own assignments and assessment criteria
  • students as fellow-explorers (even teachers)
  • lecturers as facilitators of learning
  • learning to make decisions on the basis of incomplete information
  • business models for journalism (and ‘new media’)
  • entrepreneurship skills and understanding.

I hope some of this makes it to the final session at the WJEC…

Using a blog to encourage critical reflection

This is the theme of my presentation to a Best Practices in Teaching workshop at the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC).

The project has involved using a blog not for students to publish their journalistic work but for them to reflect on their practical journalism — primarily as a tool for enhancing their learning.

Notes from my presentation are available as a PDF here — intended particularly for those at the WJEC teaching workshop. I’d be particularly interested in having your comments, whether you came to the WJEC session or not — please add them below.

Newspapers’ online video: it depends where you look…

So what are local papers in London doing with online video at the moment? In many cases, not much.

Spurred by discussions at the AJE and in the exchange of comments on this podcast at Paul Bradshaw’s blog, including those from Neil Benson of Trinity Mirror, I’ve looked at a (small and unrepresentative) sample of websites of newspapers covering areas I know — and only one out five appears to have local video content online (as of 21 June 2007).

Here’s the run-down, in no particular order:
South London Press (Trinity Mirror): No local video content. Four ‘celebrity videos’, eg “UK nanny and TV star Stella Reid”; Joe Wadsack, “wine expert on Richard and Judy” talking about “the secret behind Aussie wines”.

Southwark News (Southwark Newspaper Ltd): No video.

Islington Gazette (Archant): No video.

Sutton Guardian (Newsquest): Separate ‘video news’ section, with six in ‘latest’ section, dated 30 May-18 June 2007. These six videos appear specific not to Sutton but to other areas covered by Newsquest South London (eg Croydon, Tooting, Kingston). In one case the video comes from another Newsquest title (Watford Observer) but is relevant because the story has a Surrey link.
‘Archive’ indicates a further 47 videos, ie 53 in total, dating back to 10 October 2006, which suggests one or two new videos going on the site each week (average 1.4 per week).

Croydon Advertiser (Trinity Mirror): No video — but soundslides (still pics plus audio and/or text) hosted at a blog run by David Berman, picture editor. I recalled reading about these on the blogs of Andy Dickinson and Martin Stabe. The lack of links to the soundslides from the Croydon Advertiser website seems odd: for example, the latter ran two stories about a crane collapsing (links here and here) but with no mention of the soundslide about it.

I also tried to look at the Hackney Gazette (Archant) but its site was not available. I don’t recall seeing any video there when I last looked.

Given some of the uncertainties, there may be good reasons for some newspapers NOT to dive into online video. Other papers in some of these groups are doing interesting things with online video — as is clear from those shortlisted for Website of the Year in the Regional Press Awards 2007. In addition, some of Trinity Mirror’s titles may be changing hands soon, and my sample does not include any Johnston Press titles.

It’ll be interesting to see how things develop at these sites (and elsewhere) — and not only with video, of course.

Convergence in journalism — online video

A few thoughts on video, which more newspaper websites are carrying, from discussions at the AJE meeting (where the focus was primarily on regional/local papers online, not nationals). These are some pointers that I’ve taken from the seminar, as someone with a background in print journalism, with an eye on the practicalities of journalism education.

  • It’s not TV or radio, so think web and the specific context there — eg complementing online text and perhaps hyperlinks. If the story is going on paper, too, what extra does the online video offer?
  • For similar reasons, there are good reasons to keep the technology simple. The video isn’t destined for a 72″ plasma HD screen or whatever, so a half-decent camcorder (or even a regular digicam in movie mode).
  • Similarly for editing software: something to be said for using free software such as iMovie, Audacity (for audio), Windows Movie Maker. I can vouch for the first two, in terms of ease of use for the essentials.
  • Think of such software as the equivalent of Word for text etc.
  • Remember that good quality audio is crucial — location (background noise), decent microphone etc (a downside to regular digicams).
  • A slideshow might work well — still pics and audio might outdo video for some stories.
  • Emphasise journalism rather than top-end production values.
  • Concentrate on visual storytelling — think this way from the start.
  • But don’t throw out print priorities of grabbing readers’ attention, relevance, focus etc.

Much of this came from the session led by Andy Dickinson (UCLAN). A podcast featuring him and Andy Price (University of Teesside) is now on Paul Bradshaw’s blog.

Press Gazette and hackademic.net — thinking alike

Pure coincidence, of course, that Press Gazette‘s diarist, Axegrinder, picked up on two of the same stories featured on hackademic.net last week. You saw them here first — if you were one of my early readers, anyway.
pgonhouseprices.jpg
The ‘Grammer School’ billboard is on the PG blog, and the Mail and Express front pages about house prices appear in the print version (right).

Any sub knows the difficulty of avoiding occasional mistakes. Such as ‘backpeddling’ in an Axegrinder headline. Confusing pedal and peddle seems to be a classic — one of The Guardian’s homophone horrors missed by spellcheckers. After making the error in a review of a cycling book, The Observer corrected succintly:

Our review […] included the phrase: ‘The story of her lonely peddling makes for evocative reading.’ Cyclists pedal. Pedlars peddle.

But I bet we’ll see pedal/peddle cropping up again. Can you tell that I used to be a sub, by the way?

Convergence in journalism (education)

Journalism educators met in Cornwall last week, amid sun, sea and… convergence. Newspapers developing online; teaching video; student-led journalism projects across print, broadcast and online media; blogging and social networks in journalism education — it was all there at the Association for Journalism Education seminar at University College Falmouth last week.

Plenty of interesting stuff — and it’s helped focus my thoughts, particularly about blogging and the use of video online. More posts about such things to come this week, including more on my blogging project, about which I spoke at the AJE seminar.

Meanwhile, here’s the line-up that we had at Falmouth:
• Teaching using new media: Blogging as a tool for critical reflection – Jonathan Hewett, City University
• Teaching convergence – a project at Westminster. Geoffrey Davies, Westminster University
• A video project – Andy Dickinson, University of Central Lancashire, Preston
• Newspapers online: Changing values, changing practices, changing staff – Chris Rushton, Sunderland University
• Convergence in the classroom Andy Price, Teesside University
• Convergence, where is it going and what should we be telling students? David Holmes and team on a project at Sheffield University
• New directions: where is journalism going? Jim Hall and the team at Falmouth University College

US and UK journalism compared

I’ve picked up on a few articles comparing journalism in the USA and UK — partly because of talks I’m giving to journalism students from US universities this summer.

“Superiority Complex — Why the Brits think they’re better” is the headline on an article in the current Columbia Journalism Review. It reiterates claims that interviewers from the UK have the edge in broadcast news, and discusses the appeal of UK newspapers’ websites and BBC World to readers and viewers in the States.

When it comes to newspapers, is the boot on the other foot? It does for sourcing, balance, overall reliability and investigations, suggests Susan Hansen’s CJR piece, quoting Alan Rusbridger (The Guardian), Bill Hagerty (British Journalism Review), and Tom Fenton (CBS).

Martin Moore contrasts the approach of stories in the Daily Telegraph and New York Times, highlighting the greater length, more neutral tone, larger number of sources and quotes etc in the latter. It also risks being heavier, more boring and less engaging, he notes.

There may be less space for longer stories in the New York Times after it changes format. Executive editor Bill Keller says, according to Gawker:

Our stories are too often too long… The 1200 word stories could be 800 or 900. There are editors at a Page 1 meeting boasting that a story is only 1400 words.

Also worth noting is Keller’s frank statement about the NY Times’ online strategy for developing revenue from its web contact: “There’s a phrase they use in drug and alcohol rehab—’fake it til you make it.’ That’s basically what we’re doing.”

Finally, still at the NY Times, Investigations Editor Matthew Purdy says they have “12 permanent reporters and editors” plus “many more Times reporters engaged in investigative or in-depth reporting”. Another US-UK difference to add to the list, then.