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Archive for February, 2010

While searching one of my favorite sites for European Union news, I ran across a blog done by Briggite Alfter on EUobserver.com

She talks about the newly founded research grant from journalismfund.eu, which aims to support cross-border investigative research. She also talks about how journalists could work in teams in their own countries on a single story together with journalists from other countries to reap the best results of research within a given time frame. 

My first thought is, yes, this a great idea. Not enough newsrooms can afford to send journalists abroad, or sometimes even pay for international phone calls. Collaboration could also allow savings in time, because who knows where to find information better than someone researching in their own country, their own expertise area.

Working together would allow journalists to access and share information without much market conflict, because European media is still very nationalistic. I say nationalistic because two different country’s newspapers or TV stations do not normally compete for the same audience, even EU-based stories are very country specific and not European based.

Media attempts made to reach all EU countries as a market have been rather ill-accepted and many Europeans still don’t see themselves as European, but still as Danish, or English, or Spanish. Unfortunately, Europeans are not very interested in EU news, even though the EU does have a lot of impact on daily life. 

Even if there are no market conflicts between journalists working together, there is at least one important factor, I can think of right off the top of my head that will hinder the research results of collaborating journalists – ethics. 

All about the ethics

From my own experience of working with journalists from the Netherlands, Denmark, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Norway and Germany, I know it can be VERY frustrating because each country (not to mention publication) has its own idea of what is ethical to print, or how thoroughly a fact must be checked. 

For example, I was taught to keep quotes exactly as the interviewee says – that is not the case with Dutch media. I felt completely unethical when my Dutch partner changed the quotes to make the person sound smarter and better. The context of the quote stayed the same, but not the wording.

He had no problem with changing it and was used to doing that, but working with him, drove me insane. I didn’t want my byline on an article with changed quotes. It just didn’t feel right to me. 

Bulgaria, which has the least freedom of press in the EU would also be and example of a country tough to work with. Most journalism there is controlled heavily by politicians/mafia. It is apparent in the press. It is also very difficult to access information there as well, and journalists have been killed there trying to dig up investigative stories. 

Bottom line: Journalists will have to be VERY careful when working with those from other countries in researching. We don’t all work the same. 

However, I do believe that this collaboration will help bring EU journalists with lower standards of fact-checking up to par. The overall result definitely has the potential to be a very good thing for European journalists who can learn from each other. I also believe some very good  stories that NEED to be told will come out of this.

I personally approve of this grant, but the research results are very unlikely to all be written in black and white. Good luck Europe, may you come together and tell the world the deep stories that too often get passed up.

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I recently watched a video talking about how one organization is basically by-passing the need to go get video for the news at all. They are simply using animations instead to show the story, often showing things that are too graphic for  television.

Check it out here: http://www.kmbc.com/video/22412745/index.html

Is this the next big way to save money by not sending out reporters with cameras or even just allowing news stations to get rid of their use of Associated Press or Reuters for their national and international news they can’t get? 

I think not. 

First of all you would still be paying people to make the animations, which is likely not saving money. Most concerning to me, I don’t know where to start with the ethical questions this raises. It is not truth, it is not reality, and it probably doesn’t give the viewer any kicks. I wasn’t impressed. I would rather see the real coverage.

I can see it coming in useful for a sort of graphic appeal, but making sure people realize it’s a reenactment and not necessarily exactly like the real thing.

Obviously these clips are fake, however they may also skew reality. They show one example of  Tiger Woods running his car into a tree and his wife going after him with a golf club. How can you as consumer trust it? Why should we trust?

 It also makes me wonder about if this makes the news less credible to the people in Taiwan. Personally it would make it much less credible to me. However I don’t know the average Taiwan consumer, nor the state of journalism in the country. I’m interested enough to spend some time checking up on that. Stay tuned.

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