Posts tagged with ‘bloggers’

Meme/Circa leader Ben Huh gets asked about the truth, speaks honestly
Recently, when asked about whether there should be standards for credibility in the news (and online), Huh made his thoughts very clear —

Huh: I disagree. I totally, absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly, absolutely disagree.
[Adrienne] LaFrance: All right, let’s hear it.
Huh: I think — among entrepreneurs, too — there’s an idealistic notion that there is a truth, a singular one truth. Among journalists, there is “the truth,” slightly liberal, slightly populist, but most of the time it’s “We’re the truth.” If you ask the people who watch Fox News who is credible, they’ll tell you Bill O’Reilly is credible. Maybe I disagree. Maybe I believe that he stretches truths a lot, but the fact of the matter is, it’s human biology to seek out shared perspective.
Creating a singular measure of credibility is a slippery slope to censorship. Like, “Oh, these people are not credible, so maybe we should all act in concert to not print their things,” or discard them. The world’s greatest ideas come from the crazies, the people on the fringe. For a while, they’re not credible, but then one day they are. So that’s a very, very dangerous idea. It smacks of centralized mind-control to me. And I’m probably extrapolating from what he’s saying really to the extreme, and I’m sure there are good ideas, but a universal credibility measure? Even if they could create such a thing, why would you? It’s very Orwellian. I don’t like that idea at all.

Huh went on to say that just stating the facts isn’t a viable alternative, and neither is any facade of objectivity. What’s his solution, then? He doesn’t know yet, but one thing he likes is the blogger spirit.
When asked about who he thinks does it right, Huh said the following:

Well, there’s not a specific person but you saw people debunking the birther movement. You had the newspapers who were just banging their heads against one another but then you had bloggers asking really interesting questions, explaining that, “You know what, this is actually how it works in Hawaii with a birth certificate.”
This is the part about being organic. The future of journalism is going to come in from some place really strange. I don’t think we have technology or the platform or the social consciousness, actually, to recognize that that’s the future of journalism. We think that the future will look linearly similar to today, because for the last 100 years, it kind of did before. But it won’t.

See Huh’s new and uncertain news project, Circa, here.
Photo: John Keatley

Meme/Circa leader Ben Huh gets asked about the truth, speaks honestly

Recently, when asked about whether there should be standards for credibility in the news (and online), Huh made his thoughts very clear —

Huh: I disagree. I totally, absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly, absolutely disagree.

[Adrienne] LaFrance: All right, let’s hear it.

Huh: I think — among entrepreneurs, too — there’s an idealistic notion that there is a truth, a singular one truth. Among journalists, there is “the truth,” slightly liberal, slightly populist, but most of the time it’s “We’re the truth.” If you ask the people who watch Fox News who is credible, they’ll tell you Bill O’Reilly is credible. Maybe I disagree. Maybe I believe that he stretches truths a lot, but the fact of the matter is, it’s human biology to seek out shared perspective.

Creating a singular measure of credibility is a slippery slope to censorship. Like, “Oh, these people are not credible, so maybe we should all act in concert to not print their things,” or discard them. The world’s greatest ideas come from the crazies, the people on the fringe. For a while, they’re not credible, but then one day they are. So that’s a very, very dangerous idea. It smacks of centralized mind-control to me. And I’m probably extrapolating from what he’s saying really to the extreme, and I’m sure there are good ideas, but a universal credibility measure? Even if they could create such a thing, why would you? It’s very Orwellian. I don’t like that idea at all.

Huh went on to say that just stating the facts isn’t a viable alternative, and neither is any facade of objectivity. What’s his solution, then? He doesn’t know yet, but one thing he likes is the blogger spirit.

When asked about who he thinks does it right, Huh said the following:

Well, there’s not a specific person but you saw people debunking the birther movement. You had the newspapers who were just banging their heads against one another but then you had bloggers asking really interesting questions, explaining that, “You know what, this is actually how it works in Hawaii with a birth certificate.”

This is the part about being organic. The future of journalism is going to come in from some place really strange. I don’t think we have technology or the platform or the social consciousness, actually, to recognize that that’s the future of journalism. We think that the future will look linearly similar to today, because for the last 100 years, it kind of did before. But it won’t.

See Huh’s new and uncertain news project, Circa, here.

Photo: John Keatley

Can I reliably trust you to tell me what is going on? If the answer is yes, then I don’t care if you work out of a newsroom or out of your garage.

— Robert Hernandez, professor of new media at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. For journalism’s future, the killer app is credibility.

Blogger Fined $2.5 Million for not Being a Journalist →

Over 40 states have shield laws that protect journalists from revealing information about the sources used during their reporting.

This is all well and good until you get into the tricky business of actually defining who a journalist is. Someone reporting for CNN? No brainer. Except for jaded, we all agree he or she is a journalist. 

But what about someone reporting for a new startup with a part time staff of three? Or the lone blogger who digs deep into one particular subject?

In Oregon, a judge has decided that shield laws only apply to those who are officially part of an established media organization (again, defining what that might mean leaves us scratching our heads).

Via the Seattle Weekly:

A U.S. District Court judge in Portland has drawn a line in the sand between “journalist” and “blogger.” And for Crystal Cox, a woman on the latter end of that comparison, the distinction has cost her $2.5 million…

…Cox runs several law-centric blogs, like industrywhistleblower.com, judicialhellhole.com, and obsidianfinancesucks.com, and was sued by investment firm Obsidian Finance Group in January for defamation, to the tune of $10 million, for writing several blog posts that were highly critical of the firm and its co-founder Kevin Padrick.

Representing herself in court, Cox had argued that her writing was a mixture of facts, commentary and opinion (like a million other blogs on the web) and moved to have the case dismissed. Dismissed it wasn’t, however, and after throwing out all but one of the blog posts cited by Obsidian Financial, the judge ruled that this single post was indeed defamatory because it was presented, essentially, as more factual in tone than her other posts, and therefore a reasonable person could conclude it was factual.

The judge ruled against Cox on that post and awarded $2.5 million to the investment firm.

Now here’s where the case gets more important: Cox argued in court that the reason her post was more factual was because she had an inside source that was leaking her information. And since Oregon is one of 40 U.S. states including Washington with media shield laws, Cox refused to divulge who her source was.

But without revealing her source Cox couldn’t prove that the statements she’d made in her post were true and therefore not defamation, or attribute them to her source and transfer the liability…

…The judge in Cox’s case, however, ruled that the woman did not qualify for shield-law protection not because of anything she wrote, but because she wasn’t employed by an official media establishment.

From the opinion by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez:

… although defendant is a self-proclaimed “investigative blogger” and defines herself as “media,” the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law.

Survey respondents, when asked about the actual incidence of problems related to online activity, reported a remarkably high level of incidents and attacks stemming from their online activities. One third of respondents reported personal threats. One fifth reported that one or more of their online accounts had been hacked. One in seven unwillingly had their online identify exposed. Nine percent of respondents had been arrested or detained.

In a survey of 98 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa, researchers from Harvard’s Berkman Center explore issues of online security and perceptions of risk as the bloggers write about social and political issues in their respective countries.

The bloggers chosen for the survey were those that had been cited by Global Voices Online, an international news and citizen media aggregator. The survey was conducted in May 2011.

The report’s authors note a caveat in their findings:

The unusual sample populated by reform-minded bloggers and the timing of the survey — following a period of intense online activism and government attempts to quell this activity—contribute to these high figures. This makes it impossible to extrapolate to other populations and regions. Nevertheless, these reported figures are astounding from our perspective and highlight the vital importance of security concerns for online activists. As we anticipated, the respondents report a mix of cyber attacks and offline responses to their online activities.

Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa: A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge, and Practice (PDF)

In today’s news of the absurd: Blogger jailed for criticizing restaurant’s noodles.
Via Taipei Times:

The Taichung branch of Taiwan High Court on Tuesday sentenced a blogger who wrote that a restaurant’s beef noodles were too salty to 30 days in detention and two years of probation and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 [approximately US$7,000] in compensation to the restaurant.
The blogger, surnamed Liu (劉), writes about a variety of topics — including food, health, interior design and lifestyle topics — and has received more than 60,000 hits on her Web site.
After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams.
The restaurant’s owner, surnamed Yang (楊), learned about Liu’s blog post from a regular customer, and filed charges against her, accusing her of defamation.
The Taichung District Court ruled that Liu’s criticism of the restaurant exceeded reasonable bounds and sentenced her to 30 days in detention, a ruling that Liu appealed.
The High Court found that Liu’s criticism about cockroaches in the restaurant to be a narration of facts, not intentional slander.
However, the judge also ruled that Liu should not have criticized all the restaurant’s food as too salty because she only had one dish on her single visit.
Health officials who inspected the restaurant did not find conditions to be as unsanitary as Liu had described, so the High Court also ruled that Liu must pay NT$200,000 to the owner for revenues lost as a result of her blog post.
The ruling is final.
Liu has apologized to the restaurant for the incident.

In today’s news of the absurd: Blogger jailed for criticizing restaurant’s noodles.

Via Taipei Times:

The Taichung branch of Taiwan High Court on Tuesday sentenced a blogger who wrote that a restaurant’s beef noodles were too salty to 30 days in detention and two years of probation and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 [approximately US$7,000] in compensation to the restaurant.

The blogger, surnamed Liu (劉), writes about a variety of topics — including food, health, interior design and lifestyle topics — and has received more than 60,000 hits on her Web site.

After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams.

The restaurant’s owner, surnamed Yang (楊), learned about Liu’s blog post from a regular customer, and filed charges against her, accusing her of defamation.

The Taichung District Court ruled that Liu’s criticism of the restaurant exceeded reasonable bounds and sentenced her to 30 days in detention, a ruling that Liu appealed.

The High Court found that Liu’s criticism about cockroaches in the restaurant to be a narration of facts, not intentional slander.

However, the judge also ruled that Liu should not have criticized all the restaurant’s food as too salty because she only had one dish on her single visit.

Health officials who inspected the restaurant did not find conditions to be as unsanitary as Liu had described, so the High Court also ruled that Liu must pay NT$200,000 to the owner for revenues lost as a result of her blog post.

The ruling is final.

Liu has apologized to the restaurant for the incident.

Patch Wants 8,000 Bloggers →

Forbes reports that AOL’s Patch seeks to supplement its network of local editors with community bloggers.

Per the Huffington way, contributors will be paid in glory. 

As Jeff Berkovici writes

Arianna Huffington must not be taking that class action lawsuit against her too seriously. Not only is AOL’s new content chief not cutting down on the use of unpaid bloggers, she’s doubling down — literally. Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites, is trying to recruit as many as 8,000 bloggers in the next eight days, according to editor in chief Brian Farnham.

Note that the effort comes quickly after all former freelancers were released. In a memo to staff, Patch Editor In Chief Brian Farnham writes:

We’ve set a big goal here but I KNOW we can hit it. Ten times 800 sites is 8000 bloggers—wouldn’t it be amazing to have that many local voices sounding off right out of the gate? Let’s shoot for it and let’s do it.

Eight thousand free and willing contributors? Amazing, indeed.

Class Action Suit Against Huffington Post →

Via the New York Times:

The Huffington Post is the target of a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in United States District Court in New York on Tuesday on behalf of thousands of uncompensated bloggers.

The suit seeks at least $105 million in damages for more than 9,000 writers.

The case raises significant unsettled questions about the rights of writers in the digital age and, at the very least, promises to offer a palette of colorful characters on each side.

Seen this man? No one else has either.
His name is Yang Hengjun. Some say he’s China’s most influential political blogger. He disappeared recently while visiting the country from Sydney where he’s lived for the past few years. 
Via the Atlantic:

Yang’s not the only critic of the Chinese government to go missing in recent days. When calls started appearing on the Internet for a Jasmine-style uprising, the state moved swiftly to end any such movement before it could begin. The New York Times reports that “the Chinese government has detained scores of rights advocates, political writers, lawyers and dissidents since late February … At least 25 people are being held for what Chinese officials call criminal investigation, but many others are being detained extra-legally, for no stated reason.”

Seen this man? No one else has either.

His name is Yang Hengjun. Some say he’s China’s most influential political blogger. He disappeared recently while visiting the country from Sydney where he’s lived for the past few years. 

Via the Atlantic:

Yang’s not the only critic of the Chinese government to go missing in recent days. When calls started appearing on the Internet for a Jasmine-style uprising, the state moved swiftly to end any such movement before it could begin. The New York Times reports that “the Chinese government has detained scores of rights advocates, political writers, lawyers and dissidents since late February … At least 25 people are being held for what Chinese officials call criminal investigation, but many others are being detained extra-legally, for no stated reason.”

How has Twitter impacted journalism?

It’s made news reporting much more distributed: no photojournalist produced anything like this, for example (see link in article). It’s massively increased the velocity of news: people now know what’s going on before it’s formally reported. It’s made it easier to find things you didn’t know you were interested in. It’s given journalists a much more human voice, an outlet where they can be themselves. It’s helped build a culture of linking to wonderful stuff. It’s made the world smaller, and it’s made news travel faster than ever. Overall, it’s been great.

— Felix Salmon of Reuters

(Source: blogs.reuters.com)

Trouble Brewing Between the AP and iCopyright →

Via paidContent

Back in 2008, the AP and iCopyright talked excitedly about their new partnership, an early attempt to make bloggers license AP’s content instead of simply scraping it. Now, the two aren’t so friendly anymore. iCopyright has sued the AP, and a copy of the suit is finally available.

The AP today said: “The lawsuit brought by iCopyright is without merit. AP plans to defend its rights vigorously.” It claimed that [PDF] iCopyright broke its promises.

The AP’s early moves to get bloggers to license its content in 2008 were a PR disaster. The wire service in mid-2008 asked for takedowns on short excerpts from The Drudge Retort, a liberal news site that was a parody and critique of The Drudge Report. In response, TechCrunch banned AP stories from its site, and AP was widely criticized for asking for takedowns on short excerpts that many argued were obvious examples of “fair use.”