If we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim? -
Via Index on Censorship:
We are used to telling ourselves by now that journalism is a manifestation of a human right — that of free expression. Smartphones, cheap recording equipment, and free access to social media and blogging platforms have revolutionised journalism; the means of production have fallen into the hands of the many.
This is a good thing. The more information we have on events, surely the better. But one question does arise: if we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim?
Official press identification in the UK states that the holder is recognised by police as a “bona fide newsgatherer”. As statements of status go, it seems a paltry thing. But it does imply that some exception must be made for the bearer. The recognised journalist, it is suggested, should be free to roam a scene unmolested. One can ask questions and reasonably expect an answer. One can wield a video or audio device and not have it confiscated. One can talk to whoever one wants, without fear of recrimination.
That, at least, is the theory. But in Britain, the US and elsewhere, the practice has been changing. Whether during periods of unrest or after, police have shown a disregard for the integrity of journalists’ work. The actions of police in Ferguson have merely been part of a pattern.
FJP: As of August 22, 17 reporters had been arrested in Ferguson.
Jon Stewart on (Fox) News Coverage of Ferguson
Those revelations sparked fresh fury in media circles, where retracting a story is viewed as a serious blow to one’s journalistic credibility—and to do so without notifying readers is a cardinal sin. Retracting four thousand posts without telling anyone is simply unheard of. To many in the industry, it smacks of a disregard for journalism’s basic tenets of accountability. That apparent disregard is especially galling when it comes from an upstart that is raking in VC rounds and gobbling up top journalists from established outlets that are struggling to survive. —
That’s Will Oremus, Slate’s Senior Tech Writer, on the discovery that over 4,000 BuzzFeed posts mysteriously disappeared this year.
Founder/CEO Jonah Peretti confirmed that this was true, as BuzzFeed embarked on a project to take down sub-par posts earlier this year. His caveat, however, was that this was no breach of journalistic integrity as BuzzFeed began as a tech company, not a media company.
Point is, they employ journalists, produce an increasing amount of original reporting and long-form journalism, and they’re not the only media company to have tech roots or projects. And when that’s the case, it’s not a good idea to delete content from one part of your site without comprising the integrity of the other, unless you find a way to be very transparent about it.
Related: BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Goes Long (on Medium with Felix Salmon).
Open Journalism on GitHub
Time to explore.
Image: Screenshot, Open Journalism Showcase on GitHub.
H/T: ONA Issues.
Russia Unhappy with Bulgarian Treatment of Soviet Statues
Via The Moscow Times:
Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.
The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.
We needed a little fun after the last few days’ news. — Michael
Image: Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria, dressed by unknown artists as comic book characters. Via Wikipedia.
Syrians Honor Jim Foley
Image: Residents of Kafranbel, Syria pay tribute to Jim Foley, the American journalist executed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Via Kafranbel Syrian Revolution on Facebook. Select to embiggen.
We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim. —
A message from Diane Foley whose son Jim was executed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Via Facebook.
Foley was originally kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 while covering that conflict for Global Post.
Foreign Policy: Social Media Companies Scramble to Block Terrorist Video of Journalist’s Murder
The crackdown provided a vivid example of the pressure on social media companies to police violent terrorist propaganda, but at the same time it showed the difficulty they have in stopping individuals intent on spreading violent images and rhetoric.
Washington Post: Foley video, photos being scrubbed from Twitter
[T]he very viral abundance that makes Twitter so powerful — a half billion tweets are sent a day — makes it difficult to police.
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter.
We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you https://t.co/jaYQBKVbBF— dick costolo (@dickc) August 20, 2014
See also #ISISmediaBlackout on the power and propaganda of imagery.
Photographing Ebola in Liberia
John Moore, a senior staff photographer from Getty Images, is covering the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
In the New York Times, he writes:
I have worked in high-risk environments with some frequency in my career, but instead of a flak jacket and helmet, this time I brought anticontamination suits, including coveralls, masks, goggles, rubber gloves and boot covers, all of which are disposable after a single use in places like Ebola isolation wards. I stocked up on antiseptic gel, wipes and sprays. I also brought rubber boots, which were lent to me by my father-in-law, a retired journalist who is now a fisherman. He said I could keep them.
Here in Liberia, I wash my hands in chlorinated water at the entrance to most buildings, dozens of times a day, whether I have gloves on or not. Because Ebola is not airborne but is rather transmitted through bodily fluids, it’s important not to touch your face after being in contaminated areas. We tend to touch our faces many times per day without realizing it. I’m trying hard to stay safe.
The Times has a gallery of Moore’s images here.
Bonus: Yesterday, NPR interviewed Moore about an incident in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where protestors attacked a quarantine center and forced its patients to leave the facility. Moore tells NPR that “a fair number of people… believe that the Ebola virus and the epidemic is a hoax, that it’s not real after all, and it’s a way for the Liberian government to bring in foreign money.”
Image: John Moore wears his “personal protective equipment” before joining a Liberian burial team that was removing the body of an Ebola victim from her home, via the Daily Mail. The Mail also has a gallery of Moore’s work. Select to embiggen.
St. Louis Dispatch
Its coverage can be read here.
Related, via Poynter — How St. Louis’ Alt-Weekly is Covering Ferguson:
The episode has exhausted the reporters, many of whom worked long hours with little sleep in between. Lindsay Toler, a news blogger, was halfway through a bottle of Busch at a cash-only dive bar on Sunday when she saw TV reports of the chaos in Ferguson. She left without saying a word to her friends and spent the rest of the night monitoring the story on Twitter. She estimates she has worked several 12-hour days since then, with about five hours of sleep daily. Lussenhop said she and her fellow journalists are running on about three to five hours of sleep most days. Garrison tried to convince his reporters to take a break, but they resisted. On Thursday, he edited a story from an wiped-out reporter who spelled “Ferguson” four different ways…
…Because of the scope of the story, the paper has devoted most of its small editorial staff to covering Ferguson. Of the 39 stories published on the paper’s news blog last week, 34 of them were about the suburb. The other five were written before the shooting.
Image: Detail, front page, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Who Buries the Taliban?
An eery, intriguing photo essay from Australian photographer Andrew Quilty on the men whose job it is to bury Taliban members killed in and around Kabul, published in The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year:
It was hot and dry for early spring, but one of the grave-diggers wore a pin-striped suit while he and the others dug four narrow, waist-deep graves side by side. The earth was damp and brown beneath Afghanistan’s powdery surface. The smell was putrid - like a decaying animal carcass on the side of road, but far worse.
With no more than disposable surgical masks, Ahmad‘s drive through Kabul’s notorious morning traffic must have been horrendous. The thought of how his cargo came to be in his possession wears on him too.
He rarely discusses his work with friends or family - burying the unwanted, the paupers and the terrorists of Kabul. He has buried dozens of Taliban but is never told from which attack his corpses come.
Read/view the full essay here.
Sidenote: The piece is reminiscent—literally and in feeling—of (the now classic j-school textbook piece) It’s An Honor by Jimmy Breslin. At the time of JFK’s assassination, Breslin stepped outside the media frenzy and set a precedent for covering a big story in a simple, powerful, unconventional way: by writing about the man who would prepare the president’s grave.
Image: Grave diggers cool down and drink tea after their work is done (by Andrew Quilty, via SMH)