Archive for January, 2010

From social media sceptic to fanatic

January 18, 2010

Up until recently, I sucked at social networking! I rarely logged into my facebook and when I did, I’d quickly check new messages and logout. In most cases, I’d reply to the messages by email. I had this weird, phobic attitude towards Facebook – an imagination that if friends saw me hanging out on facebook regularly, they’d perceive me as the idlest looser with nothing better to do!

However, my attitude has changed, thanks to the ICFJ’s course which am taking since mid December. I now embrace facebook, twitter and all the other digital networks out there. I  become more acquainted and interested in social media. However, keeping up with the digital age is overwhelming…

Here are some of my recent activities:

1. Multi-media (YouTube: and audio).

I shared work related videos on YouTube and embedded them on our website. The latest video below, posted a few weeks ago, has about 100 views. These are relatively few but all very encouraging.

For the video, I used a simple digital camera to do the interview, edited it using CyberLink PowerDirector 8 which costs less than 100 dollars and streamed it directly to YouTube within minutes.  Indeed, digital tools are becoming ever so simple, easy to use and affordable.

In addition to producing videos, I have produced several audio interviews and embedded them on our website. These are real-time interviews with volunteers from around the world who participated in WACC’s 4th Global Media Monitoring Project, conducted simultaneously in about 130 countries, November 10, last year. I used a simple audio recorder, which also cost less than 100 dollars, and edited them using audacity – a free open source software. Below is one of the interviews with a university professor in England.

Interview with Dr. Karen Ross,  Professor of Media and Public Communication, University of Liverpool

2. Twitter: Over the last 2 weeks, I have tweeted several times especially since the developing story of the Haiti tragedy.

3. Facebook: I also manage the WACC facebook (wacc-global) in addition to my personal Facebook and that of Africafiles. The Facebook pages are inter-connected with twitter, so the postings appear automatically on Twitter. This is quite a time saving strategy, thanks to the inter-connectivity of these tools.

4. Blogging: Since I created this blog for the purpose of the ICJF course, I have endeavoured to update it regularly, linked it to several blogs and subscribed to RSS feeds from other blogs, particularly news blogs. I catch up with the latest news from around the world through the RSS feeds subscribed on my blog.

I also read other blogs to update myself on subjects related to my profession. I find social media bloggers, as well as my ICFJ colleagues, particularly interesting and resourceful.

5. Flickr: Later this month, I will launch this year’s WACC annual photo competition on flickr. I plan to publicize it on facebook, twitter and blogs in addition to our regular tools such as the website, E-newsletters and emails.

6. Linked in: I am linkedin with friends and colleagues, but I haven’t fully explored this tool yet.

7. Myspace: Just today, I  joined myspace, another digital tool to explore and expand my network.

Most exciting

For me, the most exciting tools so far are twitter and facebook. First of, they are inter-connected and easy to use and second, they are instantaneous. A classic example of the effectiveness of these tools is the the Haiti story which has been covered extensively and intensely. Major news networks have been updating the story from twitter.  E.g.  article on BBC

Over all, it has been exciting to create, develop and update my blog, and to link to other blogs. Social media are not only resourceful for the purpose of the ICFJ course, but also for my own professional growth and pleasure.

Better use

To make better use of these tools for WACC, I plan to post an announcement on the next issue of our monthly newsletter encouraging  our readers to follow us on twitter and Facebook.

I also plan to search and follow other organisations and individuals who share our professional interests.

Without a doubt, I will use all the digital tools at my disposal, to promote WACC and to expand my professional and personal networks.

———-

I recommend Gina Chen’s article about Hopes for journalists in 2010

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Compassionate journalist

January 10, 2010

Last night’s lead story on Toronto’s City TV was about a brutal murder of  a toddler. This story reminded me of a recent heated debate I had with colleagues of the ICFJ online journalism course about ethics of reporting deaths. In my opinion, the reporter  exudes compassion and empathy to the family of the toddler (see video clip at the bottom of this article….) His facial expressions, his tone of voice, his  consoling pat to the toddler’s aunt were deeply moving and expressive of his sensitive nature which is expected of a journalist.

The universal code of journalistic ethics underlines that journalists should be compassionate and sensitive to their news sources, particularly in reporting difficult situations such as war and deaths.

It’s also worth noting that images of the dead toddler were not shown in the report as opposed to arguments by some of my colleagues from the Middle East. It is against journalistic ethics to show graphic images of dead people. It is is also unethical to show the identity of a child in a sensitive report. The ethical practice is to obscure the identity of the child as is in this case.

I welcome your comments on this report.


Should news websites publish photos of dead bodies?

January 4, 2010

In my opinion, the question should be “does a picture of a dead body add any content to a story?”

This is not only a question of ethics but also a question of moral and social responsibility. I think that it is completely inappropriate and unacceptable to publish images of dead bodies. Journalists should be sensitive to their subjects. They should avoid sensationalism and refrain from publishing images that might be offensive or insensitive to  readers.

Journalists should maintain their moral responsibility by respecting the dead and their families.  They should always question the newsworthiness of any image they publish;

“Is it necessary to publish an image of a dead body or can I communicate and share the grief without being so graphic and dramatic??”

Most news organizations refrain from using graphic, shocking images. If there is compelling news value such as in war stories, the common practice is to warn viewers about the graphic images they are about to see.  The same principle should apply to  newspapers??

Manipulating Photographs

January 3, 2010

The golden rule of journalism is accuracy and truth. It is therefore unethical to alter an image or manipulate its content in any way that deceives the public or misrepresents subjects. A journalist should never use fake and manipulated images to distort the truth. This can ruin the integrity and credibility of the journalist as well as the organization he represents. Manipulated photos can lead to libel and related lawsuits.

In a word of emerging digital technologies, photos are increasingly being manipulated for different purposes. In commercials, for example, images are commonly manipulated to persuade viewers into purchasing products and other commercial benefits. The same, however, should not apply to professional media. I just can’t imagine why a professional journalist would want to manipulate an image!

When a journalist alters an image, he’s likely to distort the truth or present biases on the subject. Manipulating the truth is not only unethical, it is also disrespectful to the subject. A clear case of bias and disrespect is in the example of these manipulated images of Michele Obama and President Obama himself.  Google apologized to Michelle in this article. The photos clearly exude disrespect for the subjects which is totally unacceptable in professional journalism.  No wonder they caused world wide uproar in the media. Other examples are these photos about “The Reuters Photo Scandal”.

Ethics of professional journalism compels journalists to be truthful, to avoid presenting their own biases and to treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Just as in writing stories, journalists should present facts in the form of images. They should maintain the integrity of the profession at all times.

I recommend reading this article by Bonnie Meltze, an artist and an educator and also the code of ethics of the US National Press Photographers Association.

However, images can also be manipulated responsibly for positive effects. For example if a journalist wants to protect a news source for security or ethical reasons, he/she can manipulate a photo of the source to achieve this objective. I took this photo of myself and manipulated it/edited it to obscure my identity using Picture2Life.

Original photo

Manipulated photo


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