“He said-she said” journalism debate rages

In “How ‘balanced journalism’ helped the climate change deniers,” Will Bunch of Philly.com discusses a New York Times article “about how an interest group heavily funded by the oil and auto industries called the Global Climate Coalition was able to muddy the waters on manmade global warming, overriding scientists who said proof of this “greenhouse effect” was now beyond any doubt.”

Bunch continues:

You shouldn’t surprised that the Global Climate Coalition (nice name, by the way) ignored all this and went ahead and used pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo to create enough “reasonable doubt” on the issue for the public and our elected pols to put off any tough choices on global warming. What’s disturbing (although, again, not all that surprising) is the role that supposed “journalistic ethics” played in spreading this Big Lie, by cluelessly giving these charlatans equal play with the established science on the issue.

Other related articles worth checking out: Jay Rosen’s long “He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User,” which includes a very useful definition of the phrase and includes links to several other related articles and blog posts, including Richard Sambrook of the BBC’s “What’s So Funny About News, Comment and Understanding?”

Journalists’ guide to Twitter

Leah Betancourt of Mashable.com offers a rundown of the many ways in which journalists have been incorporating Twitter into their work. Betancourt surveys how journalists use the microblogging site to gather information, see what other journalists are reading and talking about, follow groups, track topics in real-time by keyword and much more. Essential reading for today’s journalist!

Guidelines for journalists using social networks

Increasing use of Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites by journalists has some news organizations setting ground rules and others just taking a wait-and-see approach, reports Editor & Publisher. Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, told E&P: “I have asked people to use common sense and respect the workplace and assume whatever they tweet will be tied to the paper….Even when they are tweeting personal information to their followers, they are still representing The New York Times.”

The Wall Street Journal’s guidelines for social media use were regarded by some as completely missing the point of social Media. BeatBlogging.org noted:

This memo should have been titled the 1990s newspaper refrain of the decade, “Don’t scoop yourself!” But this is the Web. No one seriously talks about scooping themselves anymore.

New search engine has appeal for journalists

A new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, recently was unveiled. The Online Journalism Blog notes that “Its use of databases and semantic search should be particularly exciting for journalists because a) it searches parts of the ‘hidden web’ that most search engines don’t reach (i.e. databases); and b) it has the potential to throw up quick answers to questions about relationships and facts that Google is also not great at.” Definitely worth a look for anyone doing research for a story.

Changing media landscape seen in coverage of G20 summit

When the G20 summit was held in London in early 2009, coverage was not limited to the usual journalists. EditorsWeblog reports:

As twenty of the world’s leading political figures convened at London’s Excel centre something unprecedented was happening in the media world – with coverage going digital in a way never before seen.

What’s more was that the key players providing the coverage were not just your usual brigade of journalists but also consisted of the general public who, by using social networking tools such as Twitter, provided an additional news element to this year’s summit.

Bloggers, NGO representatives, charity workers, casual onlookers to climate change campaigners caught up in the day’s events – a variety of people contributed to the coverage, helping to build a more complete picture of what was happening on the streets of London.

The article offers lots more information about this shift and the rapid embrace of new media tools by traditional journalists.

Standards of good journalism remain fundamental to the job

In “‘Old journalism’’ standards that shouldn’t die,” Gina Chen argues that even as news media undergo a major transformation, journalists must not lose track of standards such as accuracy, impartiality and careful editing. Most of all, however, it comes down to quality: “With so many options for readers, you have to be good to expect anyone to read you and keep reading you.”

Overview of changing legal outlook on online journalism

In “Web v. Journalism: Court Cases Challenge Long-Held Principles,” Jane Kirtley looks at how courts are rethinking freedom of the press in the age of the Internet. After a nice review of a range of recent cases, Kirtley notes:

Rights of access, or freedom of expression, are not, and should not be, conditioned on some government official’s idea of what constitutes ‘responsible’ journalism. Judges and legislators should continue to follow the principles that have protected the press, and the public’s right to know, for more than 200 years. But at the same time, those who publish in the new media and are always quick to invoke the First Amendment are challenging so many things held sacred.