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O orgulho também dorme nas ruas da América?

“Obama acaba de colocar a erradicação dos sem-abrigo na agenda do Governo. Nos EUA, serão mais de 3,5 milhões as pessoas que vivem na rua. É uma das faces mais negras da organização social e económica norte-americana: o país mais rico do mundo vive com crescente desigualdade de rendimentos. Em Washington, os “homeless” são aos milhares e esta seria apenas mais uma manhã de domingo, não fosse o 4 de Julho. Mas quem é que olha para os seus problemas em dia de aniversário?

Washington, oito da manhã de 4 de Julho de 2010. Michael come em pé, com uma lentidão tensa, o pequeno almoço que acabou de lhe ser oferecido. Com cerca de 50 anos deve ser um dos homens mais magros da capital americana, uma magreza que disfarça a barra de metal que lhe substituiu a perna direita perdida há cinco anos devido a uma infecção. Há meses que partilha as ruas da capital norte-americana com vários milhares de sem-abrigo, e é também um dos milhões de norte-americanos que não tem dúvidas: os “EUA são o país da liberdade, o melhor país do mundo para viver”.

O resto pode ser lido aqui, no Negócios, claro

  • Engage more in new media
  • Be more demanding on what you write
  • Be more transparent to the readers
  • Think more on the readers
  • Be more positive on small achievements
  • More storytelling
  • Listen and discuss more
  • Take time to think and be creative
  • Spend time in planning and answering the four fundamental questions
  • Keep in mind your purpose

More and more is being asked from journalist. What can be given to them in exchange

  • Sense of mission/purpose
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Demand quality and results against a clear set of objectives
  • Reward, even if only with choosing the best story of the week or month and explain why

Here are some ideas for a couple of articles

  • Profiles:
    • Why you? Treat the candidate as a job applicant
    • Qualifications
    • Training and experience
    • References
    • Friends and enemies
    • Who briefs them
    • Where do they get their information from
    • How do they get along with employees
    • How do they deal with stress

 

  • Think on the information people need. That is, treat the reader not as a spectator, but as someone that has to choose. So:
    • Do a lot of fact checking (by the way take a look at factcheck.org and politicalfact.com)
    • Explore contrasting declarations
    • Make good profiles
    • Think out of the box. e.g: where and how were the candidates when they were 22 years old

Keep in mind that in online, like in TV, people have the chance to move to another “channel” in less than one second. So, do not let them get bored. Some tips:

  •  Headlines have to
    • Start with interesting words or phrase
    • Use strong verbs
    • Clever doesn’t work. Be direct
    • Be shorter
  • Front page summarizes. When clicking and entering the story the headline must change
  • See “A wide online presence

Online media is creating (and satisfying) a whole new range of needs and pleasures of the web community. This means media outlets need to strive to adapt and, if possible, innovate. (Hopefully) here are some tips from what is happening in the US media landscape

  • Engage the community. This means, for instance, a strong presence in social media (Facebook, twitter, others) and promoting comments on the website;
  • Promote comments and debate on the website but without loosing control of what is being published. Comments are more often being monitored. Simple participation and answers from journalists have very good effects in keeping the discussion from getting ugly;
  • Try to have as much useful local information as possible (geographically or thematically) and finds ways to take it to your information consumers through apps, including ou creating blogs in the website, use geo-coding, etc… (Most media outlets need to create internal rules for social media – see “On social media guidelines“) 
  • Think digitally: online gives you a whole new range of ways to give info. Information is much more an experience and so use videos, graphs, word clouds, timelines (see “Some visual digital examples“)
  • Journalist are asked to understand and use this basic tools
  • Start to think in the needs of the readers by understanding that your audience learns in various different ways

Media outlets are creating rules for journalists’ participation in social networks such as Facebook or through blogs. They vary a lot. Here are some of them:

  • When writing for the newspaper, controversial subjects should be avoided or get editors permission first
  • Independence guarantees should not be damaged, for instance through political views (some media outlets even aply that to personal blogs or Facebook pages)
  • Never loose temper or be impolite
  • Do not aggressively promote your work
  • Be very careful with personal information
  • Always be transparent and honest in the information you post

Are journalism and journalist is always biased? Probably yes. And so the question is: what can be done to assure some objectivity?

First here are some of the more common bias types: crusader bias; official version bias; sources bias; extraordinary bias; subject bias; boss bias; production bias (as in call the source that you know will give you a good quote; for or against business bias, political bias; balance bias (give two sides the same weight in a story when they don’t have the same weight). So what can one do about it?

Use the discipline of verification in order to help you get objective. And how?

  • Transparency: be clear about what you know, what you don’t know, how you fond it; don’t imply you know more that you actually do
  • Humility and originality: have an open mind, don’t assure; avoid arrogance, and look for new ways to look at the questions you are answering and be sure you are the first getting there
  • Verification: check and check the article for possible bias, lack of information, unsubstantiated assumptions

Investigative reporting is seen as one of the most outstanding forms of journalism. It aims at “engaging the public to come to a judgment or take action” and as such is one of the most biased types of journalism – which makes verification even more necessary. Some tips from Wally Dean and Deborah Poter:

  • Conclusion should not have any change of being wrong
  • Schedule follow ups
  • Disclose your options
  • Be clear about sources bias and agendas
  • Tell sources to go on record. If they don’t discuss for how long and under what circumstances anonymity might be broken
  • Plan, plan, plan with your team: hold regular meetings, write memos, create timelines, re-read your notes, set deadlines

credit: M.V. Jantzen

Barry Sussman was Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s editor when the Washington Post led the journalistic investigation on the Watergate scandal. Sussman is now editor of the Nieman Watchdog, a website related to the Nieman Foundation (Harvard based foundation that promotes journalism). He was at CCJ talking to us yesterday. Here are some of his thoughts:

  1. Beats (specifics areas covered by a reporter) are extremely important and a journalist must be committed to them, although being prepared to find new beats as the reality demands it
  2. A journalist is only responsible to his audience and to the facts
  3. Watchdog reporting (and investigative reporting as the higher level of this type of journalism) is the most important function of journalism
  4. The be good at your beat “you have to know your subject really well”
  5. “Good things come to you when you do things the way they are supposed to be done”
  6. When you have a story, even if small one, publish it. try to keep the theme in the news. If you have big stories then prepare follow ups

(Oh, by the way, according to Sussman, deep throat did not play such a big role in the way WP broke the story. He and Woodward are not best friends today)