NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin said it’s a “completely different dynamic” reporting from Gaza now than it was four years ago, given both the unrestricted access for journalists and widespread use of social media.
In late 2008, Mohyeldin was based in Gaza City, when the Israel Defense Forces launched a three-week aerial bombardment and ground invasion that killed 1,400 Palestinians. At the time, the Israeli military restricted foreign journalists from entering Gaza, leaving Mohyeldin and his Al Jazeera English colleague Sherine Tadros to cover the war with little competition.
While the pair received high marks at the time for their coverage, Mohyeldin, speaking by phone Monday from Gaza City, said “there was a dearth of information and pictures” as a result of so few journalists on the ground. “We couldn’t be everywhere at the same time,” he said.
Four years later, that’s not the case. News organizations have flooded Gaza over the past six days of a conflict that has killed 104 Palestinians and three Israelis, along with wounding 860 Palestinians and 68 Israelis, according to CNN.
“I think it’s a testament to how important journalism still is in having real journalists on the ground in Gaza,” Mohyeldin said.
Widespread social media use is the other significant change in Gaza coverage from winter 2008-2009, with citizens uploading their own videos and journalists engaging over Twitter, Reddit and Google+.
In covering the war in Syria, news organizations have often relied on raw footage from areas where no journalists were present. It’s a different situation now in Gaza, where numerous journalists are reporting each major strike throughout the day in real time on Twitter, often adding context and details as soon as they are available.
Take Monday’s strike on a media center in Gaza City, an event quickly covered on Twitter.
BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar tweeted around 8:30 a.m. EST that Israel struck a building used by some outlets. “I’m standing in front of it,” Danahar tweeted. “It’s on fire. Smoke billowing out.”
When I want to record a call I use either Skype or Google Voice along with an application called Wiretap from Ambrosia Software (Mac only).
Wiretap allows you to choose the inputs to record (eg., the internal microphone which records you, and then an app such as Skype or your Web browser through which you’re using Google Voice).
You can also record a Google Voice call within Google Voice. However, for whatever reason, it has to be an incoming call. Instructions for doing so are here.
You can also use a conference service like Free Conference Call and use the recording capabilities built into it. That way, and crazy as it sounds, you can actually use your phone to make the call.
Looking for alternative solutions? The Next Web has a good roundup of cross platform Skype recording apps. There are also iOS and Android call recording solutions. I haven’t used any so can’t make any recommendations. Note though that they often charge for the amount of time recorded.
Remember that whatever your method, there are laws (in the US) concerning recording. You can brush up with a primer from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. And here’s another from the Citizen Media Law Project.
Hope this helps. — Michael
Have recommendations, add them in the comment section here.
[D]emands for after-the-fact quote approval by sources and their press aides have gone too far.”
The practice risks giving readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources,” it says. “In its most extreme form, it invites meddling by press aides and others that goes far beyond the traditional negotiations between reporter and source over the terms of an interview.
Memorandum from New York TImes Executive Editor Jill Abramson to staff.
According to Margaret Sullivan, the Times Public Editor, a new policy is now in place that prohibits “after the fact” quote approval.
The issue has gained attention since a July story by Jeremy Peters outlined how reporters often submit quotes to political campaign aides for approval before running a story.
New York Times, In New Policy, The Times Forbids After-the-Fact ‘Quote Approval’.
It’s time for political beat reporters to pick up a bat and see what it’s like to take a swing.
Sasha Issenberg, Slate. Stuff Some Envelopes, Then Ask Questions.
The Issue: Issenberg argues that political campaigns have become so complex and statistically driven that reporters often don’t understand the mechanics of what drives them.
His solution: Make reporters work inside a campaign to learn how they really work.
So a modest proposal: newsrooms develop a version of a study-abroad program, placing their reporters in campaign field offices for a month during the summer of an election season. It’s time that they see the place where campaigns interact with real people, by asking the questions on phone-bank scripts, entering the answers into databases, then seeing how that information shapes decisions about which voters to call or visit next… My guess is that journalists who spent even a few weeks in this world would pose wildly different questions the next time they sat down with Jim Messina or Stuart Stevens.
The goal would not be to gather intelligence about a particular candidate and his tactics but to build institutional knowledge that could help to re-center journalistic understandings of what a campaign actually does. To assuage concerns about bias and conflicts of interest, newsrooms could assign reporters to work in races away from the ones they cover: the Richmond Times-Dispatch correspondent gets detailed to an Oregon mayoral campaign, the Nevada radio reporter to a Maine ballot initiative. Assignment editors at the Washington Post and Politico and NBC News would randomly dispatch their reporters so they’re split evenly, half campaigning for Democratic candidates and half for Republicans. While it would be great if they could slot into presidential campaigns, it’s by no means necessary. Many of the essential tools used by campaigns for organizing and marshaling voter data have become so universal that a national political journalist would learn plenty from being exposed to a competent modern campaign for state legislature or county judge.
Sounds like you feel yourself caught in a classic career starting conundrum: You don’t have experience but can’t get experience because you don’t have experience.
We posted a video recently of CUNY professor CW Anderson discussing an entrepreneurial journalism course he teaches. While he talks about many things, a key point I like is how he stresses that we all must write. Especially those of us out of a job or hoping to get into a job.
In July, I wrote something similar to a question a student had about putting together a portfolio. Here’s a bit where I mention what is was like before we could all have blogs and self-publishing tools:
Back then getting started was a chicken and egg proposition. You’d apply for something and be asked to show your clips. But you didn’t have clips because you were just starting out, and you wouldn’t get clips until someone overlooked that and took a chance on you.
That’s not true anymore. Want to be a science writer, start writing about it, start reporting about it, start curating about it. No one’s stopping you. Fashion more your thing? Do the same. More interested in the tech side of things? Start creating things and/or get involved in an Open Source project, and then write about what you’re doing and learning.
It takes some effort but that’s what we have to do. Block off 30 minutes a day to work on these things. Maybe even an hour.
After a month or a few you’ll be amazed by how much material you have to show people. You’ll also be amazed by how much you’ve personally learned by actually doing it.
So, you say you want to be a writer but there’s nothing available in your area. In that case, make something available to yourself.
There are stories everywhere. There are stories where there are lots of people. There are stories where they are no people. There are great stories about topics other than people.
So start writing them. Choose something that you’re passionate about. If it’s a character who lives down the street, approach him and ask if you can interview and write about him. If he asks why, and what for, say simply, “I like to write.”
Some people will say no but you’ll be surprised by how many people say yes. People are wonderful that way.
And if your passion is for a subject or topic that requires more discrete expertise, say science or medicine or art or local politics, start reading up and then start calling people up (eg, at local colleges, businesses, governmental agencies and what not) and ask questions.
Again, many will ask why and where will this appear and you simply say, “I like to write and its for a personal site I’m creating.”
And then some will say no but others will say yes but give it a couple months and you have yourself body of work. You’ve gotten started.
It takes effort. But it is doable. And find a trusted friend, former teacher or family member to give you feedback on what you do, to be an editor. And listen to what they have to say even if you disagree. Else you’ll write in a ramble like I do.
We wish you great luck and let us know how it goes. — Michael
Have a question? Ask away here.