Updates from May, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Steven Davy 7:36 pm on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Iran, John Darnton,   

    Forum 1 

    Screengrab from the video emailed to the Guardian showing the wounded Neda Aghan-Soltan, during the 2009 protests in Iran. Photograph: EPA/The Guardian

    Welcome to the first Class Forum. Remember: Responses to the forum questions must to be completed by Thursday of each week in order to give your classmates enough time to complete their comments. See the Communications Requirements file for more details.

    Part of your reading assignment this week is reading about the Polk Award that given to the anonymous video of Neda Aghan-Soltan’s death.

    The award fell under a the videography category was given to the anonymous person or persons responsible for the video of the death of 26-year-old Iranian Neda Agha-Soltan during protests in 2009. Listen/Read this interview on On the Media with the Polk Awards curator John Darnton.


    Should a journalism award be given recognizing the photos or video taken by citizens witnessing an event?

    Should the Polk awards or other prestigious industry awards be given to non-journalists?

    Considering what has happened in the last six months in the Middle East and North Africa what role (help/hurt) has user generated content played?

    Discuss below and/or start a new discussion on this theme with a new post. Remember your initial forum posts are due by Thursday

    • Daniele's Blog 2:04 pm on May 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think that a journalism award shouldn’t be given recognizing photos and video taken by citizens witnessing an event. Every person has the ability to become a journalist. When you think about it, everyone is a journalist everyday. We all take pictures, we all blog and we all talk. Now do we all do a great job? No. And just because one person has taken an AMAZING picture or created and INTERESTING news story, they should get an award? No! That is the way journalism should be originally. Amazing, interesting and meaningful all the time.

      I think that user generated content has been extremely helpful lately with all the events happening in the Middle East and North Africa. Before user generated content was a big thing, all we knew was what people told us. And nothing else. Sometimes it may have been sugar-coated or things could have been left out. Now, we get the raw footage of the events going on. I believe that people are more inapt to believe user generated content, because its right on the scene. It feels so real. You think that you are there and it’s not edited at all.

      • Sara Ventimiglia 8:33 pm on May 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        It is much more up close and personal when we receive raw news and you are right, people are always more apt to believe what appears to be “real” footage.

      • Steven Davy 7:50 am on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Consider the point that Jason Fry argues concerning the impact of this single anonymous video. Because the video spread around the world attention was given to the situation in Iran that just several years ago could not have taken place. So were the members on the Polk committee recognizing this anonymous person or the game-changing nature of what the video represented? What does this mean for awards like this in the future?

        • Daniele's Blog 7:29 pm on May 25, 2011 Permalink

          I think that they were representing the game-changing nature. I understand to a certain extent. This kind of thing is really exciting. Technology has really connected the world in more ways that we could have possibly imagined. But I think that award given in the future will have to have different categories and broken down differently as Trixi said.

    • Sara Ventimiglia 8:27 pm on May 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I am completely against this situation. Journalism awards should not be rewarded for videos as this one. The person filming this just happened to be in the right place at the right time and certainly doesn’t need an award for that. The Polk award and other awards should be given to the people who dedicate their lives to journalism. User generated content has been helpful in the recent circumstances because we can get information much faster and more accurately.

      • Trixi Ayahr Beeker 3:38 pm on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        The Polk award debate seems to highlight the changing nature and definition of journalism. What does journalist mean today? How different is that from a citizen journalist? Perhaps one answer to this debate lies in attempting a clarification of these terms as well as which awards are devoted to each category. I am very new to the world of journalism, but already believe that the field is both enriched and challenged by the contributions of those who may have some other ‘day job’. Perhaps jpurnalistic awards in the future could be divided to include both professional AND citizen journalists?

      • Laura Daien 11:01 am on May 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I completely agree that awards should be given to people who dedicate their lives to journalism. Giving awards to people outside the field discredits the people who went to college and have made a career in journalism. I do agree that the internet, technology and social media have made it easier for people to get information out there… but I don’t believe this is news. This is especially the case for PR professionals. Even though some information can be pushed directly to the audience through social media, I really don’t think trying to circumvent a journalist is award worthy. I think there could be separate internet/social media awards for something like this… but something prestigious like the Polk awards should not be a part of it.

    • lauradaien 9:00 pm on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think Polk awards should be given to non-journalists. As much impact as this viral video (or any viral video) has does not make someone automatically a journalist. There is already a major struggle brewing between traditional media and self-made citizen journalists and I am completely against an award being given for citizen journalism. I have an appreciation for people wanting to document information and share it via the internet, but I don’t consider this actual journalism and think if we begin giving awards for this kind of “journalism” it completely diminishes what the actual journalism industry stands for. If we begin honoring individuals who pull out a camera and snap a random photo or video, the art of going out and finding a story and reporting it (actual journalism) will be lost. Being in the right place at the right time does not mean you’re a journalist. If it did, then why would anyone need to go to school for journalism anymore and why would anyone need to hire a PR firm? Although we advance on many topics, I think journalism should still be defined in the traditional manner. Journalism isn’t just hitting play on a camera, if it is then we’re showing you don’t need a degree to do it.

      • Rachael Zylstra 12:04 pm on May 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I agree, Laura. I think giving this prestigious award to citizen journalists blurs the lines of what journalism is. It’s hard to tell whether citizen journalists follow SPJ standards or if they even know about them—and that’s no burn to them but journalists have professional training,either through school or in a professional setting, to report stories based on these ethics and standards.

    • skellehan 9:41 pm on May 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      This is a hard one for me to decide on. On one hand I’ve always heard and believed that sometimes the most important author of a photo, video, et cetera is “anonymous”. But on the other hand I am conflicted about giving out a professional journalism award to someone who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

      As someone in my generation who has basically grown up with social media, I have a lot of respect for the various platforms that make it up. I, myself, get almost all my news from social media. But I don’t think the Polk awards are the right place for social media, at least not yet. We all recognize that the industry is changing, but even now news and personal account derived from social media is thought of as secondary. Something that can add to a topic, but not stand on it’s own.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think non-journalists efforts should be recognized, they are putting themselves in the same danger as professional journalists and aren’t guaranteed the same recognition that the journalist could get. I think there should be a place, separate from traditional journalism groups that can independently recognize the efforts of “bystanders” whether named or anonymous.

      As far as user-generated content hurting or helping, I think it is definitely the latter of the two. I thought it was interesting what John Darnton said in the interview “This one piece of video footage seemed to rise above all other means of getting news out of Iran to the outside world.” I think a big part of that is because it came about because of social networks. It was also intriguing how he followed up that comment by saying that the other big news outlets like The New York Times, etc. almost cancelled each other out, “none of them rose above the others.”

      The reason they cancelled each other out in my mind is that big media outlets like that seem, to me, to be too soft these days. They’re too worried about doing anything they can to stay afloat in a business that is slowly dying out. An independent person with their cameraphone doesn’t have these restraints, and because of that we got to see some shocking things that I believe we wouldn’t have gotten from a major media outlet.

      • Laura Daien 10:53 am on May 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I completely agree that awards should not be given for being in the right place at the right time. I do think the efforts of non-journalists can produce great results, but giving awards for someone who just pulls their cell phone out and shoots a video is not acceptable. I think if there are going to be awards for non-journalists and social media efforts, there need to be specific criteria so that some random person off the street can’t just get an award without any effort. Just because something got a lot of hits on YouTube doesn’t mean it’s newsworthy or high quality journalism.

    • jessieyang2011 1:28 pm on May 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      in one side, this award encourage the people disclosure the truth and to be brave even sometimes have to against the norm, politics and culture. this is award to be an idol for journalists. in another side, negative side of society should not be always published. there should be a balance between positive and negative, which should be fit the people. this means the published news should not be threaten and frighten for public. obviously, this film caused the debate for society. but this is the good way to attract the public eyes.
      in china, government will control most of the publish things, include book, newspaper, magazine and internet. for example, i could watch youtube, and sign in for the facebook and twitter. in this case, i could not know many news or information the chinese government not allow us to know. the government try to control the safety of society. so it is not possible to have this kind of award in china.

  • Steven Davy 10:39 am on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Clay Shirky, , Mark Luckie, , Nieman Lab   

    Reading Assignments Week 2 

    Clay Shirky on institutions vs. collaboration.
    This is Shirky’s (NYU prof) TED talk you’ll need to watch this week.

    15 Awesome interactive maps from the New York Times.
    Great post from Mark Luckie to inspire your mapping adventure this week.

    How to use Flickr to get creative with your photos.
    More from the 10,000 Words blog.

    A quick guide to interactive YouTube videos.
    Are you catching a theme here? Luckie is an expert on these kinds of things. This blog, which he came up with independently, helped him land a job at The Washington Post. It really demonstrates what can happen when you use blogging as a launching pad for your writing if you treat it seriously.

    Anonymous video of Neda Aghan-Soltan’s death wins Polk award.
    We have seen the tremendous power of social media to help communicate again and again in the ongoing uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the anonymous video shot of Aghan-Soltan’s death marked an important turning point for journalism.

    From the Nieman Lab at Harvard:

    We saw what may be a first in the journalism-prize world this week with the prestigious George Polk Awards, when the award in a new category, videography, went to an anonymously produced video of the death of a young Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, during protests last summer. The video went viral on the web, getting millions of views and helping spark worldwide support for the Iranian resistance movement.

    Polk Awards curator John Darnton considered it a statement on the power of citizen journalism: “This award celebrates the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cellphone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news,” he told The New York Times. NPR’s David Folkenflik still gave credit to professional journalists for verifying, curating and sifting through video like this and establishing its newsworthiness.

    Former Wall Street Journal online reporter Jason Fry compared the Neda video to two other famous new videos shot by “ordinary citizens” — the Zapruder film and Rodney King video. The biggest difference in what the Neda videographer did, Fry argues, was not so much in the video’s shooting, but in its distribution: Both Zapruder and George Holliday needed gatekeepers to disseminate their videos, but Neda’s videographer needed none. That difference is a radical one, Fry says — it ”changes not just how news is found and made, but how it is shared and therefore defined.”

    Product v. process journalism: The myth of perfection v. beta culture.
    More blogging and Internet theory from Jeff Jarvis.

    • nfinkbeiner 4:12 pm on May 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I really liked the Clay Shirk TED video. The Flickr example is a great example of how we can rely on collaboration. I think this has a lot of potential especially when we look at journalism. I know in my local area, two television news programs that are normally competitiors now collaborate and only send one camera to an event that they both need to cover. It just makes sense. Why send two cameras to cover the same event? It’s much easier to just share the footage that they both need and it makes more sense economically.

    • Rachael Zylstra 6:37 pm on May 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Agreed, Nicole. The Flickr example is great, too, because it shows The Mermaid Parade from all different perspectives, not just one. Because of the crowdsourced content (via tagging), Flickr then becomes this awesome collaboration of creative work and ‘cooperative value.’

      I was especially intrigued, too, with Shirk’s talk about journalism and Shield Law. The introduction of web logging and blogging has blurred the lines of journalism as an institution, but Shirk raises a good point–it doesn’t matter whether we want to consider a blogger a journalist. What does matter is, ‘How will society be informed and share ideas and opinions?’ I guess this goes back to what we saw with the anonymous video of Neda Aghan-Soltan’s death, and whether it should have received a Polk journalism award or not. The video was informing society of what was going on, but at the same time it wasn’t necessarily published with journalism standards in mind. But then that goes back to Shirk’s point about the institution of journalism and how emerging technologies–like web logging–are making it easier for anyone to publish anything.

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