Because news websites’ comments have become an important space of spreading hate speech, this article tries to contribute to uncovering the characteristics of Internet hate speech by combining discourse analyses of comments on Slovenian news websites with online in-depth interviews with producers of hate speech comments, researching their values, beliefs, and motives for production. Producers of hate speech use different strategies, mostly rearticulating the meaning of news items. The producers either are organized or act on their own initiative. The main motive of soldiers and believers is the mission; they share characteristics of an authoritarian personality. The key motives of the players are thrill and fun. The watchdogs are motivated by drawing attention to social injustice. The last two groups share the characteristics of a libertarian personality.
Public service broadcasters (PSBs) are a central part of national news media landscapes. In many countries, PSBs are the first choice of citizens when it comes to news providers. And in perhaps more countries still, PSBs are thought of as specialists in provision of hard news. We test this proposition here using survey data from a large crossnational survey involving indicators of current affairs knowledge and media consumption. Specifically, we examine whether exposure to public versus commercial news influences the knowledge citizens possess about current affairs, both domestically and internationally. We also test, using propensity score analysis, whether there is variation across PSBs in this regard. Results indicate that compared to commercial news, watching PSB has a net positive influence on knowledge of hard news, though not all PSBs are equally effective in contributing to knowledge acquisition. This knowledge gap between PSB and commercial news media consumption appears to be mitigated by factors such as de jure independence, proportion of public financing, and audience share.
And news organizations around the world are using iPhone to transform the way they capture and deliver news. reporters for BBC, the Wall Street Journal, Mexican newspaper, Milenio and Canada’s CTV News are using their iPhone cameras to capture HD video on location and send it directly back to headquarters for broadcast on TV or streaming on the web.
Austerity measures and corresponding cuts in public expenditure have brought to the fore the issue of press freedom in Spain. The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and other left wing parties have alleged that changes made by the conservative Partido Popular (PP) have reintroduced overt political patronage in public appointments at Corporación RTVE, the body that manages public service broadcasting.
As part of its UK Public Opinion Monitor research, which aims to track the UK public’s attitudes towards development, the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex recently released this 10-minute film pleading for better coverage by UK television of the developing world, and of issues related to poverty:
The film revisits arguments advanced over many years by the International Broadcasting Trust (IBT), One World Media (formerly the One World Broadcasting Trust), POLIS, and other civil society groups. [Five years ago, I wrote and researched IBT's report, Reflecting the Real World 2, on how new media were impacting on UK TV's coverage of the developing world.] These groups have consistently put forward the arguments – based on research they conduct and commission, and on interviews they conduct with senior decision-makers in the UK media – that coverage of the developing world by UK broadcast television is weak, and tends to focus on crisis, corruption, and conflict, in both news and other TV genres. They argue that this has serious implications both on how genuinely informed the UK public can be about large swathes of the wider world, and therefore on how constructive domestic public debate and opinion can be about why we give aid, to whom, and on what basis.
It’s encouraging that a serious institution like IDS is interested in addressing these issues. So why does the film itself leave me so disappointed – and what might they have done differently?
Following on from the Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference last week, discussions looking at various aspects of the web and society are coming thick and fast. Here are
two three four just this week:
Today/tomorrow in London it’s the UK Foreign Office’s London Conference on Cyberspace (programme) – which seems heavy on cybersecurity, anti-hacking, and cybercrime, but opened this morning with a long panel on internet freedom featuring, among others, one of my wife’s Article19 colleagues, Barbora Bukovska. I’ll be there on Wednesday, with a particular interest in the session on Safe and Reliable Access.
In Mexico City on Wednesday and Thursday, the Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners are meeting to discuss Privacy: the Global Age (programme PDF). I’m intrigued to see where this goes after following its previous iterations in Madrid and Jerusalem. Visual privacy still seems a little off the agenda, in particular – and with the rise in consumer-driven face-recognition, this seems like a massive missed opportunity. And interested to see also how Stephen Deadman of Vodafone approaches moderating his panel on Mobile Privacy in the light of widespread criticism of Vodafone earlier this year during the Egyptian revolution. Sadly I won’t be in Mexico City alongside another of my wife’s Article 19 colleagues, Dave Banisar (see his global RTI law map) sampling the chapulines… The Public Voice held a related civil society meeting yesterday, and the OECD is holding one on privacy frameworks today.
And then, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it’s London’s turn again for the Mozilla Festival. This promises a totally different tone and approach to the previous two – focused more on the possibilities of openness, collaboration, innovation – and should be fascinating. (No time to go to this either, however…) Lots of very interesting people there (more here), and here’s what they’re talking about.
[ADDED] Also NewsXchange is happening in Portugal right now. Always worth following along to get a sense of what is happening across news industries around the world.
(I’ll post up relevant summaries, video etc if and when these appear.)
[Update on 22 March, 2011: Professor George Brock of City University is advocating the systematic use of footnotes by journalists to acknowledge primary source material.]
[Update on 24 Feb, 2011: in a far more elegant and effective way than I outline below, the Media Standards Trust has released a tool that exposes Churnalism, journalism recycled, or indeed copy-pasted wholesale, from press releases... More from the Guardian.]
A few minutes down the road from me, The Guardian has this weekend been hosting a hack SxSW event – which helped precipitate (in the chemistry sense) an idea for me that has been swirling for a long time, but which has been particularly swirly since long discussions at Newsfoo in December. I’m sure others are already thinking about or working on similar ideas – although my impression at Newsfoo was that perhaps not. Either way, I offer it up here, warts and all, in case it’s got some merit, and might be of some help.
A caveat: I’m not a coder or a technologist, so please forgive any tech barbarisms [update: e.g. "Metadata? Are you crazy? We can do this with basic tagging..." or "This is classic sledgehammer/nut, hammer/nail territory..." or "Uh-oh - here comes the rabbit-hole...".] I work in sectors (journalism, media, development, human rights), however, that are profoundly affected by the work that many technologists are doing, and that are facing challenges in how to make manifest the provenance, authenticity, accuracy, diversity and representativeness of the information they provide.
Five things in particular have prompted me to thrash this post out now, starting at half-six on a Sunday morning, with regular interruptions from the kids…:
- discussions at Newsfoo about how to make manifest a layer of trust and transparency in news content – distinct from a reader’s habituated trust in a certain journalist or publication
– re-reading my friend Ethan Zuckerman’s thinking on media attention, xenophilia, homophily and other obstacles to diversity of news coverage – and wondering if the problem is less that the international media’s resources and attention are unevenly apportioned, and more that local media, closer to the story, are less able to compete, to project themselves or their analysis internationally
– by extension, a bit of media development dogfooding – what’s good enough to suggest to journalists and media outlets in the developing world should be good enough for any media anywhere
– watching immense surges of communication about the #egypt #jan25 #sidibouzid #wikileaks and other unfolding crises through the Twitterverse and beyond (including the Guardian’s Ian Prior incident described here)
– Mozilla’s Privacy Icons project – an attempt to represent at a glance how a web user’s data will be held and used by a service or website (more here and here)
There are some admirable efforts to crack the nut of information overload, especially with the huge increase in individual media production (tweets, facebook updates, and so on). Projects like SwiftRiver take a technological approach to crunching information, including news sources, and rendering it (ideally) both more contextualised, and more filterable, and therefore more useful and less overwhelming. Google News has started asking news orgs to tag their stories to distinguish between original and syndicated content. Some, like Neography, are basically hieroglyphics for the news. It’s a start, but still a fairly modest one.
None of this offers readers enough fine-grained control, nor does it present a new, different prism through which to understand news events, and it’s not designed in a way that communicates the intention of journalism. Google for one is trying to get there, but its solutions are still reliant to some degree on search (and search itself is an increasingly personalised rather than shared experience). This doesn’t yet truly level the playing field for, say, local media in the developing world, or journalists writing in their native language rather than in a global language. [A propos of which, there is still no Global Voices Online equivalent that, instead of tracking and curating blogs about or from every country in the world, systematically tracks and surfaces stories from local and national media around the world.] High-quality curation in more established international media as well as on many blogs, is helping diversify access to a wider range of original sources somewhat, but again it is constrained by individual capacity, networks, inclination.
I believe we need something extra, a reasonably independent searchable layer, that helps extract and highlight some of the things that we both value and seek to avoid in reading journalism – both ends of which may help spark deeper changes in the practice or perspective of journalism as it continues to evolve.
So, rather than having users rely on a combination of searches, aggregators, curators, recommendations, affinities, semantic crunchers and luck to find what they need, what if a broad swath(e) of news organisations, and other organisations involved in the business of journalism, developed a simple (perhaps even visual) system that, before they read an article:
– addresses both the problems of information overload and consumer choice
– surfaces some of the markers that might distinguish high-quality journalism
– provides readers with clear provenance of information
– and in doing so meets head-on the issues of transparency and trust that we discussed at Newsfoo?