Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Media's responsibility

I was browsing my feed from News24 this evening and found this story "Kebble: Media given a blast"....

In the story Vusi Pikoli, the head of the NPA, stated that he thought that the media had left much to be desired from their reporting on the Kebble murder case.

His main concerns were that the media were not thinking about witnesses safety when they printed their names, thus preventing other witnesses coming forward and were too quick to print information they had received as "fact".

This proves to me that some journalism basics are no longer being followed- you verify your facts with someone...or at least try to before you print them and then if you could not verify them adequately enough but still want to print them they should be clearly qualified as unverified- better yet, don't print them at all.

Pikoli implored the media not to disseminate any information that could compromise the case and not to run parallel investigations, some of which are compromising witnesses.

I find myself agreeing with Pikoli on a number of points he makes in the story and admit that there is a fine line to tread between what I term reactive journalism- journalism motivated purely by commercial imperatives- and proactive journalism- the kind that actually informs the public without harming or compromising the investigation. Fair enough, the stuff that the NPA release might be boring and drab but I really wouldn't endorse fabricating information or trying to coerce members of the NPA to give information and in so doing put their jobs on the line.

I mean, call me idealistic but I do believe that its high time the media began thinking about the effect the information they package and disseminate will be having on the bigger picture- past the fact that Kebble stories sell newspapers and draw eyes and ears to watch and listen.

However, I do think that the NPA should also come to the party a bit. I the story Pikoli states that the media should give the NPA more time to respond to questions from the media. This is all well and good but, just as the media should make allowance for the time it will take the NPA to respond, the NPA should understand that there are deadlines that need to be met and not withhold information deliberately past the deadlines etc. Pikoli's suggestion of the NPA giving the media information three or four days after it was requested it is utterly unacceptable- they should realise that this is a high profile case which has generated a lot of interest to the public (the public interest of the story is another matter entirely) and at least appoint a dedicated media liaison to deal with the media and the public, oh wait, I forgot...they are underfunded and understaffed- great, and the government want to stamp out crime....

A three to four day waiting period for information, in my view, forces a sensationalist output by the press for a public hungry for skinner hence, I feel that both sides have to respect and understand certain boundaries set by the other side.

just my 2c on the matter....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At least I got over 60%....

I suppose I should count my blessings...I got my marks back for my design portfolio and got 63%- 3% above the hallowed cut-off mark...possibly one of the lowest marks in the class if not the lowest. I feel like crap but sadly cant go to pieces emotionally and mentally yet as I have the all important Journalism exam tomorrow...I guess this is a feeble attempt to gain sympathy dear readers, but I can say that it was all my fault for getting such a dismal mark.

what probably stung most was the cutting down of most of the marks I got for my assignments by the external examiner...what a cowardly but necessary person an external examiner is- I mean, Simon and Casper were the ones who actually had to debrief me on my portfolio mark.

I just hope that my theory mark gives me over 60% overall so that I can get through to 4th year and try and salvage what dignity I have left- must start setting myself some goals now.

boo hoo for me...goodbye for now.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Big Blog Directory

Ok, so thanks to my friend Nic I found this cool blogosphere initiative! Bloggers unite, go and register your blog on this site, do it now I tell you now!!!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Antipodean Media big business

So I was lucky enough to get an internship at the The South African, a weekly newspaper which caters for South Africans living in London in January last year. The company who runs the South African also owns the New Zealand and Australian Times both weekly newspapers as well.

The reason I am blogging about this now is that I was going through the job listings on gumtree in an idle moment and came across a listing for a job at In London magazine- similar to TNT magazine, another title operating in London catering for a general Australian migrant audience- only In London aims to appeal to Australian, South African and New Zealanders living and working in London. There is also, the South African Times, a title which has been around for years and almost went bankrupt a few years ago- prompting some enterprising fellows to start the South African seeing a gap in the market.

The main problem I had with the South African is the content. It was mostly made up of stories pulled off the South African wires about South Africa and travel articles written by local South Africans as well as a smattering of entertainment news..also written either in-house or by unpaid freelancers. This was all well and good as the guys who owned the South African seemed interested only in making money, hence the ads team was twice the size of the editorial team (this seems to be standard practice at newspapers so no surprise there)...I still wouldn't have called it a newspaper- with all due respect to the editor.

But it seemed to be fine...they were making money and thats all they cared about, good on them I suppose.

In London magazine is waaay more interesting though as it has articles relevant to the Antipodeans living in London...and the stories are mainly about stuff IN LONDON and the UK! This is a glossy magazine and also seems to be doing well...clear evidence that the niche immigrant markets are alive and kicking in London with, seemingly a good, healthy ad spend for to be had and plenty of space.

What was great to see in London was the enjoyment Londoners derive from reading the newspapers. While there is a truly a plethora of titles operating and distributing in the city alone, Londoners seem to lap these up eagerly. I even saw newspapers which came with free DVDs!! Unfortunately it is rumoured that the British newspaper industry is loosing money hand over first...maybe they should cut back on those free DVDs hehe.

Anyway...enough procrastination...time for sleep!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Newsroom Management and what I wish i had known

So there I was sitting on Gregor's bed a few weeks back looking at his bookshelf as you do when you are visiting a friend and your attention wanders...and I spied a book called What the Newsroom Knows: Managing Knowledge within African Newspapers. Now, one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to borrow this book was simply because there isn't much literature revolving around African newsroom management- well, none that I have found anyway and while the book was supposed to be a case study of the use of ICTs in African newsrooms, the use of digital CM systems and the internet as well as mobile telephony it did not disappoint.

I really wish that I had had access to this book when I was still running my own newsroom at Activate. I say this because in most of the case studies in the book detailed African newsrooms which had come up against the same challenges for copy flow within their production cycle- in other words, Activate was not alone in the problems we faced. Some of these problems were as mundane as having an incoherent folder system for content on the network and one newsroom was even running computers which had several different operating systems between them- thankfully Activate did not have these particular problems although the major problem we faced early on and one which dogged just about my entire career at that newspaper was the fact that our computers were not networked to each other or the printer...when they were working of course.

I must admit I was waiting for a case study of an African newspaper who still did things the old way in their newsroom- without computers I mean...this, surprisingly was not to be and most of the African newsrooms featured in the book had been making extensive use of ICTs for many years.

What also interested me was the way that knowledge flowed around these newsrooms, how different newspapers used their diary meetings and the way they approach archiving their past editions, copy and photographs. Many newspapers had actual libraries set aside for archiving purposes (and one newspaper filed everything away- including all press releases they didn't use! wow!)

All in all, the book opened my eyes up to the fact that, even in Africa, newsrooms have become places where the digital flow of copy is inexorably tied to knowledge management within the newsroom.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I am appointed Student Editor of Jo's Toolkit

Well, Carly and Gregor, the founders of Jo's Toolkit are graduating and entering the "real world" of work and taxes and "real media" etc....

Jo's Toolkit is, without a doubt, one of the richest online journalism resources that I have ever come across. It is unique to South Africa in that its material is submitted by users of the site, industry professionals and academics alike who do this through their own goodwill and without payment. Similarly, access to the site is totally free and it is licensed under Creative Commons. Jo's Toolkit also went on to win the Highway Africa Awards for Innovative use of New Media in Africa at the Highway Africa Conference 2006.

I am therefore honoured to take up the position of student editor of Jo's Toolkit for 2006/2007.

Being student editor means that I am Jo's representative in the student media sphere, I do web maintenance, handle submissions and post things on the website- all in consultation with Gregor and Carly. I also report back the status of the site to Carly and Gregor on a quarterly basis.

It is a very exciting time at Jo's as, with Gregor and Carly moving into a new sphere, they can cultivate some excellent contacts in grassroots and online media while I can concentrate on getting more submissions from student media sources.

Onward ho!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Look (under Construction) NO HISSY FITS PLEASE!

Well as you can see I changed the look of my blog....its a work in progress as i try and figure out how Blog Beta works but its pretty cool so I will hopefully have everything all well and good soon.

Re: The tiff over changing the blogs looks between two people on the blogosphere (you know who you are) the changes I have made to my blog have nothing to do with the fact that everyone who is anyone seems to be tinkering with their blog's look. I simply upgraded to beta, had a rush of blood to the head and decided to change how things looked, ok?

Peace and good night to you all, thank you!

Monday, November 06, 2006

First exam down

I wrote the design exam today....the first section was a bit whack and the answers tended to overlap which was a bit of a bugger but anyway, the rest of the exam wasnt so bad....its over and now its 15 days till my next exam whoo hoo!


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Water, water everwhere....

Well, the water has been back on for a few days now but has been muddy and murky...apparently toxic. But, according to my uncle (who is a plumber in town and knows about such things) they put a chemical into the water to separate out the mud and the sludge and the drain the water off.

Now, someone left the wrong valve open and let all of that sludge into the system hence causing the murkiness. 35,000 fish dies at the Ichthyology department prompting a muted panic to go up over the alleged "toxicity" of the this my uncle said "of course the fish died...its like breathing soup to them"

Anyways, my water seems to be back to normal now...still drinking bottled water for a while though!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Our farm

For all of you who want to have a sneak peak at our farm :-)