Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Lessons of Internet age

Filed under
Web

Just days after the London bombings, after which viewers sent captivating video taken by cellphone cameras to networks around England, CNN rode the wave of citizen journalism into its coverage of Hurricane Dennis. Network officials encouraged viewers, on CNN.com and on the air, to send in written stories, video, audio, and images -- some of which was included in the network's coverage.

Most major news networks are rushing to reach out to their viewing audience for images that might make a contribution to news coverage.

Citizen journalism has quickly infiltrated an industry sometimes sluggish to make big changes, and the phenomenon demonstrates that a mainstream industry has learned its lesson from the revolutionary impact of the Internet.

''Companies are actively looking for the opportunity to take advantage of new technology in a way that they weren't a decade ago," said Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Center for eBusiness at MIT. ''The changes with the Internet took a lot of companies by surprise, and now people see that technology does revolutionize industry."

Although big-box retailers took years to create a large Internet presence, leaving the door open for Amazon.com and others, this time around, news organizations took days -- not years -- to take a relatively new and untested technology and make it an essential part of news coverage.

During the hurricane, MSNBC periodically broadcast commercials inviting viewers to e-mail photos or video to MSNBC to be used on a website or for broadcast. CNN's website drew photos of damaged boardwalks and flooded coastal areas, some of which ended up on the air. Officials at ABC and CBS say that they are developing channels through which the public can submit content.

''These are the kinds of images that will be critical in the future," said Mark Lukasiewicz, executive producer for NBC News Specials & Special Projects.

Lukasiewicz said that NBC has worked on citizen journalism projects for a while and accepted viewer-contributed content in the 2004 presidential election but that interest in the project increased after the London attacks.

''It's very clearly going to be something that's going to have a big impact on how we do our work," he said.

Recently, NBC officials have started to equip both reporting and nonreporting staff with cellphone cameras in case they come upon a news story, as have officials at ABC and CBS.

''We could use it at any time," said Paul Slavin, senior vice president for worldwide newsgathering at ABC. ''We might use it in undercover circumstance. We could make it part of the flyaway kit for any correspondent. We need to make sure everybody has it."

In the next couple of months, ABC plans to create a website that will allow viewers to submit images and video. Slavin expects that some of that material will make it on the air but worries that the network will also eventually start to receive fake material.

Robert Zelnick, chairman of the journalism department at Boston University, said that networks might rely more heavily on citizen journalists as they close news bureaus abroad.

''You can't deploy teams in advance, and there will be a proliferation of incidents that news networks are not positioned to handle immediately," he said.

John Moody, senior vice president of news for Fox News, said that Fox hasn't solicited content from the public but that the network sometimes uses pictures or footage from people who contact the network.

If a network does not find easy ways to incorporate viewer-contributed content into broadcasts, it can rest assured that another network will, which has pushed the evolution of citizen content forward more quickly.

''When you saw the video during the bombing, it set off a light bulb where you think, 'What if somebody else got a hold of that video and I didn't?' " said Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president of news coverage for CBS. ''It's a competitive issue. If we had gotten that video ourselves, we wouldn't distribute it to other networks."

McGinnis said that the network has had meetings recently to discuss how they might incorporate viewer content. CBS4 in Boston already solicits viewers for images and video and has used them in weather-related stories, said Angie Kucharski, vice president and station manager of CBS4 and UPN38.

During CNN's hurricane coverage, the network received hundreds of submissions, said CNN/US President Jon Klein.

Klein said CNN officials admonished viewers not to take any risks for a photo just as the network mandates safety for its camera crews.

''The greater part of the audience was concerned with getting the hell out of the way, but a few, intrepid, maybe crazy, reporter-type people will take a picture before they go," he said.

By Joe Light
The Boston Globe.

More in Tux Machines

New GNU/Linux Releases: TheSSS, Arkas OS, Black Lab, and Parrot

  • The Smallest Server Suite Gets Special Edition with PHP 7.0.15, Apache 2.4.25
    4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia about the availability of a special edition of the TheSSS (The Smallest Server Suite) Live Linux operating system. Carrying the same version number as the original TheSSS release, namely 21.0, and dubbed TheSSS7, the new flavor ships with more recent PHP packages from the 7.0.x series. Specifically, TheSSS7 includes PHP 7.0.15, while TheSSS comes with PHP 5.6.30.
  • Descent OS Is Dead, Arkas OS Takes Its Place and It's Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
    Some of you out there might remember the Descent OS distro created by Brian Manderville and based on the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system, and today we have some bad news for them as the development is now officially closed. Descent OS first appeared in February 2012 as a lightweight Ubuntu derivative built around the GNOME 2 desktop environment. Back then, it was known as Descent|OS, and was quite actively developed with new features and components borrowed from the latest Ubuntu releases.
  • Black Lab Linux 8.1 Out Now with LibreOffice 5.3, It's Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
    Softpedia was informed today by the Black Lab Software project about the general availability of the first point release to the Black Lab Linux 8.0 operating system series. Serving as a base release to the company's enterprise offerings and equipped with all the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, Black Lab Linux 8.1 comes with up-to-date components and the latest security patches ported from Ubuntu's repositories as of February 15, 2017. "Today we are pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Linux 8.1. Our first incremental release to the 8.0 series. In this release we have brought all security updates up to Feb 15, 2017, as well as application updates," said Roberto J. Dohnert, CEO of Black Lab Software.
  • Parrot 3.5 – Call For Betatesters
    We did our best to prepare these preview images including all the updates and the new features introduced since the last release, but now we need your help to understand how to make it even better, and of course we need your help to understand if there is something that doesn’t work as expected or something that absolutely needs to be included in the final release.

Linux and Graphics

  • Linux Kernel 4.10 Now Available for Linux Lite Users, Here's How to Install It
    Minutes after the release of Linux kernel 4.10 last evening, Jerry Bezencon from the Linux Lite project announced that users of the Ubuntu-based distribution can now install it on their machines. Linux 4.10 is now the most advanced kernel branch for all Linux-based operating systems, and brings many exciting new features like virtual GPU support, better writeback management, eBPF hooks for cgroups, as well as Intel Cache Allocation Technology support for the L2/L3 caches of Intel processors.
  • Wacom's Intuos Pro To Be Supported By The Linux 4.11 Kernel
    Jiri Kosina submitted the HID updates today for the Linux 4.11 kernel cycle.
  • Mesa 13.0.5 Released for Linux Gamers with over 70 Improvements, Bug Fixes
    We reported the other day that Mesa 13.0.5 3D Graphics Library will be released this week, and it looks like Collabora's Emil Velikov announced it earlier this morning for all Linux gamers. Mesa 13.0.5 is a maintenance update to the Mesa 13.0 stable series of the open source graphics stack used by default in numerous, if not all GNU/Linux distributions, providing gamers with powerful drivers for their AMD Radeon, Nvidia, and Intel GPUs. It comes approximately three weeks after the Mesa 13.0.4 update.
  • mesa 13.0.5

Interview: Thomas Weissel Installing Plasma in Austrian Schools

With Plasma 5 having reached maturity for widespread use we are starting to see rollouts of it in large environments. Dot News interviewed the admin behind one such rollout in Austrian schools. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Top Lightweight Linux Distributions To Try In 2017
    Today I am going to discuss the top lightweight Linux distros you can try this year on your computer. Although you got yourself a prettyLinuxle linux already but there is always something new to try in Linux. Remember I recommend to try this distros in virtualbox firstly or with the live boot before messing with your system. All distro that I will mention here will be new and somewhat differ from regular distros.
  • [ANNOUNCE] linux-4.10-ck1 / MuQSS CPU scheduler 0.152
  • MSAA Compression Support For Intel's ANV Vulkan Driver
    Intel developer Jason Ekstrand posted a patch over the weekend for enabling MSAA compression support within the ANV Vulkan driver.
  • Highlights of YaST development sprint 31
    As we announced in the previous report, our 31th Scrum sprint was slightly shorter than the usual ones. But you would never say so looking to this blog post. We have a lot of things to talk you about!
  • Comparing Mobile Subscriber Data Across Different Sources - How accurate is the TomiAhonen Almanac every year?
    You’ll see that last spring I felt the world had 7.6 Billion total mobile subscriptions when machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are included. I felt the world had 7.2 Billion total subscriptions when excluding M2M and just counting those in use by humans. And the most relevant number (bottom line) is the ‘unique’ mobile users, which I felt was an even 5.0 Billion humans in 2015. The chart also has the total handsets-in-use statistic which I felt was 5.6 Billion at the end of 2015. Note that I was literally the first person to report on the distinction of the unique user count vs total subscriptions and I have been urging, nearly begging for the big industry giants to also measure that number. They are slowly joining in that count. Similarly to M2M, we also are now starting to see others report M2M counts. I have yet to see a major mobile statistical provider give a global count of devices in use. That will hopefully come also, soon. But lets examine these three numbers that we now do have other sources, a year later, to see did I know what I was doing.