October 26, 2009

Global Voices: Lifting up the powerless & voiceless

Giving international bloggers a global voice from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

International bloggers network offers alternative perspectives on events around the world

JD LasicaSince 2005, the international bloggers network Global Voices has been one of the shining success stories in citizen media: a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who offer perspectives frequently not heard in the traditional media.

Founded by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University (both are friends), the nonprofit organization with no physical offices offers reports and translations from blogs and citizen media everywhere.

“Where are the most interesting Middle Eastern and African bloggers and what are they talking about? What are Chinese bloggers saying?”
– Rebecca MacKinnon

I caught up with Rebecca several months ago to get an overview of the organization’s efforts. Global Voices’ importance and reach have grown even more pronounced during 2009 with the street demonstrations in Iran. Regular followers of Global Voices have been able to get a first-hand glimpse of events in all corners of the globe, from Africa and Southeast Asia to Oceana and South America. See their Special Coverage section and Top 10 video posts of 2009.

Rebecca, who also teaches journalism at the University of Hong Kong, describes Global Voices as a site where the editors curate the best of what bloggers are saying outside the Western blogosphere. “Where are the most interesting Middle Eastern and African bloggers and what are they talking about? What are Chinese bloggers saying?” The site’s bottom-line goal is to curate the most interesting conversations that will give you a different perspective on what’s happening around the world. Continue reading

October 12, 2009

An inventive cause campaign to fight malaria

A cause campaign to fight malaria from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Causeitsmybirthday.com raises $16,000, effort continues through Saturday

JD LasicaSocialbrite’s own Sloane Berrent has been a bit busy of late. Fresh off a three-month stay in the rural Philippines doing field work as a Kiva fellow, she and her friend Doug Campbell of Mindshare launched Causeitsmybirthday, a cause campaign with a wild premise: parties in seven major cities on seven consecutive nights to raise money for malaria nets for orphanages and refugee camps in northern Ghana.

Malaria kills 3,000 children a day. It has killed more people than all the wars in human history combined, causing 1 to 3 million deaths per year. And the tragedy is that the majority of those deaths could be prevented with simple actions such as putting up mosquito nets to ward off the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. (This YouTube video explains why nets are so effective in the battle against malaria.)

I’ve never seen an effort quite like this, but Sloane, who blogs at TheCausemopolitan, and Doug pulled it off, working with the small nonprofit Netting Nations to make sure that 100 percent of the charitable donations go toward malaria nets. As of today, they’ve raised more than $16,000 and, even though the seven-city tour is over, you can donate to the cause online through Saturday. (Use the PayPal widget at the left.)

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch the video in QuickTime H.264 on Ourmedia Continue reading

September 30, 2009

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom

8 ways screenshot

JD LasicaFor the annual conference of the Online News Association this weekend, I’ve pulled together two new printable handouts: 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom, available at http://bit.ly/social-flyer, and 6 Twitter tools for journalists (PDF — and see the accompanying post). I’m speaking on the aptly named Social Media Mania panel on Saturday.

I think these are two of the nicer handouts I’ve produced, using Apple Pages, part of the iWork suite. These downloadable documents are part of the ongoing series of social media guides and tutorials that Socialbrite has been producing for social change organizations, nonprofits, journalists and anyone interested in effective use of social media.

While the PDFs are spiffy-looking, they’re less than optimal for search engines and for the disabled, so I’ll mirror the handouts here in html.

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom


1An uber-aggregator of your feeds, FriendFeed is like Twitter but easier to organize. You can post more than 140 characters, organize private or public rooms and get a feed of your friends as an e-mail. But FriendFeed is more than an aggregation tool: It’s a virtual watering hole where you can see what’s on the mind of your friends and colleagues.

Search the real-time Web

2Find out what people are talking about online right now — chances are you can turn a meme into a story. Tools include Twitter Search, Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Scoopler.

Flip out!

flip3We’re all multimedia journalists now, right? Never let another eye-catching moment or newsworthy subject slip by: A Flip cam ($199 for hi-def version) lets you easily add a visual element to a story. Users are more likely to jump into a conversation around a video on your site than a text-only article. Kodak’s Zi8 is also a good choice. Continue reading

August 8, 2009

How to prevent against online libel and defamation

The Bill of Rights

A brief guide for citizen journalists and bloggers

Target audience: Journalists, bloggers, nonprofits, cause organizations, NGOs, general public.

Guest post by Mitch Ratcliffe

There is much that bloggers can learn from journalists, who have learned how to cause the most trouble possible without landing in jail over the course of centuries. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law ($13 at Amazon.com, which is the essential text for many journalists.

In addition, here’s a good source for students and other beginners.

If you want to go deep and learn a lot, read this piece from the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Journalists’ Handbook.

It’s worth understanding this stuff even if you don’t want to be a journalist, because anyone can be sued for libel, slander or defamation.

The first thing to understand about all subjects relating to journalists’ privileges is that they are different everywhere. There is no international standard set of laws, though journalistic professional societies have pressed for these kinds of uniform expectations. Most of what I’ll lay out here relates to the United States, where the press enjoy the most liberal protections available. In Canada, for example, there is no presumption that a journalist can protect their source. In much of Europe, the subjects of photographs retain far greater control of pictures through their moral rights (PDF), or “droit moral,” which provides both the photographer and the subject protection from the unauthorized reuse of the image in whole or in part — juxtaposing the image of a person into an advertisement, for instance, which is common in digital media is prohibited without their permission.

Elements of defamation

Defamation, slander and libel are the same thing, essentially, but each is defined based on the way a false statement about a person is conveyed. According to ExpertLaw.com’s entry on Defamation, Libel and Slander Law, the general principle behind all three must include the following elements:

1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
2. The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
4. Damage to the plaintiff.

In the context of defamation law, a statement is “published” when it is made to the third party. That term does not mean that the statement has to be in print.

Continue reading

June 9, 2009

Accuracy tip sheet for citizen journalists

Before you write

1. The best way to maintain accuracy is to develop a system and stick to it.

2. Take the extra seconds to read back to the interviewee the spelling of his or her name. If you need an age, ask for a birth date and year.

3. Avoid using secondary sources to verify facts.

4. If you have to use secondary sources, find at least two and make sure they agree independently; don’t simply ask one to confirm what the other said.

5. Verify phone/fax numbers, web and email addresses. For example, copy the url from the document and paste it into a browser. Call the phone number.

When you write

1. Consult your documentary sources – notebook, printed materials – as you’re writing. If you don’t want to interrupt the writing flow, make sure to put a mark reminding you to double-check it later. “ck” for “check” is a standard proofreader’s mark. “cq” is shorthand for “this is accurate”; it is often used with unusual spellings, facts and figures.
2. Identify your sources. Your readers need to know where this information comes from so they can judge its credibility.

3. Show transparency. If someone appears to be an expert, that’s one thing. If they also have a financial or other stake in one version of the story, that’s another. Be skeptical. Good journalists have to assume that everyone, even people they like, may sometimes shade the truth.

4. Don’t confuse opinions with facts. Opinions make personal journalism lively, but make sure your readers know what is fact and what is an opinion.

Continue reading