Protecting Forests with FOI Laws

Global Investigative Journalism Network - di, 04/04/2017 - 11:02

Every year the world loses 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests, an area about the size of Greece. A critical way to stem this forest loss is to make concessions data about commercial activities that drive over 60 percent of global deforestation more transparent. Without data transparency, it is virtually impossible to tell how well companies are complying with concessions agreements, distinguish between legal and illegal deforestation, and bring those responsible for illegal deforestation to account.

Unfortunately, getting this kind of information in many countries is not easy, as a new study from WRI shows: countries with over half the world’s forests lack comprehensive, accessible information on concessions. Concessions for commercial activities, such as mining, logging and agriculture, are typically allocated to private companies by authorized government entities on lands legally owned or held in trust by the state. This information is critical to enforcing agreements that protect forests.

A recent example is Indonesia, which has some of the world’s richest rainforests and some of its highest deforestation rates. But figuring out the details of Indonesian forest exploitation can be as challenging as it is essential, as a recent Supreme Court decision indicates. In response to a civil society group’s information request, the high court determined that the Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning must hand over detailed maps of the land on which oil palm companies have been licensed to operate. This ruling is a huge step toward greater transparency in the management of Indonesia’s expansive natural resources. It gives journalists, civil society groups, and the public the information they need to hold the government and the private sector accountable for deforestation.

A critical way to stem forest loss is to make concessions data about commercial activities that drive over 60 percent of global deforestation more transparent.

Laws that protect citizens’ rights to access information and promote transparency may be a key to protecting and sustainably managing the world’s forests. The WRI study, Logging, Mining and Agricultural Data Transparency: A Survey of 14 Forested Countries, finds that not only are Freedom of Information (FOI) laws effective in getting access to forest information, but countries with FOI laws tend to disclose concession data more proactively than countries without them.

3 Ways to Provide Concessions Data

The study surveyed concessions information for mining, logging, and agriculture, noting the different ways this information was made available: proactively, such as through an online data portal; reactively, through an FOI request, or through ad hoc or informal means. Proactively available data is most desirable, as this means it is publicly accessible without the need for requests. Information requests can be an important mechanism to get concessions data if there is no proactive disclosure, and are preferable to no access at all.

Not only are FOI laws effective in getting access to forest information, but countries with FOI laws tend to disclose concession data more proactively than those without them.

Of the 14 heavily forested countries surveyed, eight have FOI laws: Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Liberia, Mexico, Russia, and Peru. Researchers tested how these laws were implemented by submitting FOI requests for concessions data, including contracts, maps, lists of permits, ownership information, and spatial data. These requests were at least partially successful in all countries where FOI laws were tested.

Researchers were most successful gaining full access to mining data. Four countries provided partial access to both logging and mining data. Agricultural concessions were the most difficult to access in all surveyed countries, where only two of six requests were partially granted (in Indonesia and Liberia). While cost can sometimes be a barrier to accessing official government documents, most information requests in this study did not charge a fee.

In addition to the relative effectiveness of information requests, the study found that governments in countries with FOI laws release concessions data more proactively than do countries without such laws (see Table 1). For example, the governments of Brazil, Canada, and Peru proactively provide data for all sectors for which they grant concessions and have an FOI law, and Mexico, Colombia, and Indonesia provide proactive data for at least some concessions data. On the other hand, Madagascar, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Malaysia lack FOI laws and provide no data proactively.

Though FOI requests can be an important way to get information, larger issues remain. There is still a lack of comprehensive information about where land investments are being made for logging, mining, and agriculture in all countries. The study highlights the need for:

  • Adoption of comprehensive FOI laws in countries that lack them now;
  • Civil society to increase use of FOI laws to obtain documents as part of the strategy to monitor and protect forests;
  • Governments to facilitate greater proactive access to concession data by increasing coordination across ministries and between federal and local governments;
  • Donors to invest in building capacity for governments to collate, digitize, and share concessions information proactively through online portals and information requests;
  • Voluntary partnership agreements and relevant transparency initiatives should encourage the disclosure of spatial concessions data and ensure standardization across countries.

Even though the Supreme Court decision in Indonesia is a promising move, there is more work to do. It’s time for countries with concessions on forested lands to expand access to concession data and make it priority for immediate action to support enhanced forest monitoring and land use planning, to reduce conflict, and to send a message of transparency and accountability to international investors, donors, and advocacy groups.

This post originally appeared on the website of the World Resources Institute.

Jessica Webb is Civil Society Engagement Manager for Global Forest Watch (GFW), a free online forest monitoring system. She leads efforts to ensure that civil society organizations (CSOs) have access to information to sustainably manage forests and promote accountability among decision-makers. She also manages the GFW Small Grants Fund, which offers financial and technical support to CSOs for innovative projects.

Carole Excell is Project Director of The Access Initiative at the World Resources Institute, working on access to information, public participation, and access to justice issues around the world. She was previously the coordinator for the Freedom of Information Unit of the Cayman Islands Government. She also worked with The Carter Center as Field Representative in Jamaica on their Access to Information Project.

Rachael Petersen is Impacts Manager for Global Forest Watch (GFW). Prior to joining the World Resources Institute, she completed a fellowship in which she researched how remote indigenous communities harness digital technology to preserve their cultures. Previously, she focused on indigenous peoples’ role in reducing emissions from deforestation as a delegate to the COP15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

The News Integrity Initiative is taking a cross-industry approach to fixing the news trust problem

News has a trust problem. Beyond the rise of fake news, the institutional attacks on journalism (not to mention plenty of self-inflicted wounds) have eroded the public’s ability to trust what they read. Just 18 percent of Americans said they have “a lot” of trust in news from national news organizations, according to a 2016 report from Pew.

Improving online news literacy and increasing trust in journalism are core parts of the mission of the News Integrity Initiative, a new project announced by CUNY Graduate School of Journalism today. It’s an ambitious concept infused with significant early capital: $14 million has been pledged at launch, thanks to the efforts of 19 organizations and individuals around the world, including Facebook, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Democracy Fund. (Disclosure: Knight is also a funder of Nieman Lab.)

Those usual suspects, however, are joined by more surprising groups such as advertising exchange AppNexus, and PR companies Edelman and Weber Shandwick. CUNY journalism school professor Jeff Jarvis wrote that these groups were included because the group wanted to “expand the conversation to include other affected and responsible parties: ad agencies, brands, ad networks, ad technology, PR, politics, civil society.”

@dirkliedtke @dangillmor Because, like ad agencies, they are responsible parties that can have an impact. https://t.co/pVo4iicy9s

— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) April 3, 2017

Specific project ideas from The News Integrity Initiative are still slim, but some work has already begun. Last month, members of the group met to discuss the fake news problem, a discussion that resulted in a “tangible plan,” as Jarvis wrote:

We will investigate gathering and sharing many sets of signals about both quality and suspicion that publishers, platforms, ad networks, ad agencies, and brands can use — according to their own formulae — to decide not just what sites to avoid but better yet what journalism to support.

The News Integrity Initiative’s ultimate goal is to shift the focus away from what news consumers can do to improve their news literacy and instead focus efforts on specific measures that news organizations, platforms, and others can implement to improve things on their end. A core part of its efforts will involve exploring existing research and funding new studies about, for example, the many factors that affect the sharing of news stories. “We plan to be very focused on a few areas where we can have a measurable impact,” wrote Jarvis.

I like that this effort, run by @cunyjschool, doesn’t treat news literacy as something media must “teach” consumers https://t.co/t3fSJN7xBF

— Liz Heron (@lheron) April 3, 2017

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Analysis without benchmarks: An approach for measuring the success of innovation projects

Newsroom innovation initiatives like our mobile lab in the Guardian U.S. are springing up everywhere. Projects are being funded by philanthropies and tech companies through smaller programs in New Jersey and larger ones at the BBC, and there are also national newsroom transformation projects underway like the Poynter Local News Innovation Program. Google, the Knight Foundation and ONA also recently teamed up to issue newsroom innovation challenge grants (submissions due April 10), and oh, Facebook plans to lend their engineers to newsrooms to build new products together.

However, in order for publishers to realize the potential of all of this innovation work, we need to transform the way we measure its success.

We need to quickly redefine the signals we use to tell us what’s working, and find ways to measure success without any pre-existing benchmarks.

Metrics developed to measure desktop news sites — like pageviews and time spent — aren’t useful when your innovation project isn’t a website and someone spending more time doesn’t equate to a better experience.

Since being able to measure the success of our projects is essential to making any meaningful progress, we set about building out our analytics structure from the ground up, with the help of the analytics and data science teams at MaassMedia.

What did we find?

Over time in the lab, we’ve found that the best way to truly gauge success has been to put the user back at the center of it, since it’s their new mobile habits and preferences that matter much more than our old and ingrained habits for tracking.

As a result, we’ve started looking at a new set of qualitative and quantitative metrics that help us gauge whether or not an experiment was valuable enough to make it worth offering again, or offer it to a wider audience.

And it’s a work in progress. Each day we’re inventing brand new benchmarks for success and building upon them. Our efforts also help us avoid the all-too-common practice of making unscientific comparisons between innovation work and existing products, and it gives us something that looking at just pageviews and click throughs can’t: multi-dimensional signals about how satisfied our audience was with an experiment.

The metrics we’ve chosen to look at tie directly into where we see potential for news organizations to build new formats that better serve and more deeply engage mobile news readers. This set of metrics also helps us gain a sense of user interest in a feature, which, if high can lead us to see potential for other news organizations, and conversely, where we might want to develop or hone features in the future. We’ve outlined our approach below.

The first new metric: Net interaction rate

The net interaction rate, a quantitative measurement recommended by MaassMedia, signals whether or not a project was an overall success. Roughly, it sets data, or user interactions, that we deem positive off of those we see as negative, divided by the total number of things shown (in this case, notifications).

Here’s what it looks like:

Looking at the net interaction rate for an experiment helps us understand how positive or negative the experience was overall for our audience, and it’s also simple to calculate once the right tracking has been implemented.

There are a few additional reasons that using this metric might uniquely benefit innovation teams.

  • By their nature, innovation teams build things that haven’t been built before, and because we’re breaking new ground rather than treading well-worn paths, it’s important that we re-think what makes for a positive user experience. Applying the net interaction rate requires teams to talk upfront about the user experience, so positive and negative interaction categories can be established. Therefore using this metric builds deep thinking about the experience into the process, and promotes good and open team communication.
  • Applying this metric also helps avoid a scenario in which one team or one team member is overly responsible for the assessment of what makes an innovation project a success. In order to apply this metric, a multidisciplinary team (which may span editorial, product, analytics, development, design, etc.), needs to have a shared vision of which interactions are positive and which are negative before launching. Is someone closing a notification bad? Is someone sharing their quiz results good? Establishing a common definition of ‘good’ ensures that everyone can consistently interpret the data after an experiment.
  • This metric also applies well to innovation work because the calculation itself creates space for users to have negative interactions during an experiment — interactions that wouldn’t occur if they were just opening another app or browser tab, which are now routine tasks for a majority of the digital audience. The negative engagements that are bound to happen when trying something new, can’t overshadow the positive engagements associated with offering something new and better. This leaves you free to focus on what you really want to know, which is whether or not this was a great experience for people on the whole and is worth pursuing.

Below is an example, drawn from our experimentation with a Leaderboard alert, an update of medal counts sent in a daily news notification during the Rio Olympics. The three data visualizations below illustrate the total interactions over time with the alert, the positive and negative interactions over time, as well as the net interaction rate with the alert over the two-week span of the games.

An example of a Leaderboard alert.

One of the lessons that came from analyzing the net interaction rate for this experiment included a definition of the ideal function of each notification — particularly about whether the alert was meant to drive deeper engagement with the Guardian site or whether it was to provide quick information-based utility for the audience — in order to inform the positive and negative categories.

To illustrate this in more detail, I’ve invited Lynette Chen, a senior analytics consultant at MaassMedia, to give context the visualizations, and explain the initial application of the metric.

Lynette writes:

In this visualization of the Leaderboard alert over time, the increase in the number of interactions might lead you to think the experiment was more successful towards the end of the Olympics.

The total number of interactions with the Leaderboard alert over time.

A deeper analysis, in which you breakout the engagements into positive and negative groupings, reveals that although the total number of interactions increased over time, this increase was actually driven by a surge in negative engagements. [For the Leaderboard alert experiment at the time of the analysis, a user closing the notification or managing their update settings counted as a negative engagement, whereas tapping on the alert or tapping through to the full leaderboard page counted as positive.]

A breakout of the number of user interactions by positive and negative engagements over time.

To better demonstrate the difference between the positive and negative engagements, you need to use the net interaction rate. Through graphing the net interaction rate, a clear negative linear relationship becomes apparent. Thus, the net interaction rate decreases over time, suggesting that users were more likely to close the notification after receiving the Leaderboard alert every day for two weeks.

A calculation of the net interaction rate for the Leaderboard alert over time.

This early experiment led to greater discussion of how to interpret expected behaviors in long-running experiments, such as notification closes or changes to settings. For instance, if users closed a notification because it provided all the information they needed, that kind of interaction may not necessarily be counted as negative. Going forward, we believe that survey information about how users interact with notifications might add more context.

Despite the fact that the net interaction rate with the Leaderboard alert declined over time, there are a few reasons we might still run a similar experiment in the future.

Primarily, we might run this type of experiment again to find out through survey responses if the alert provided value even when users closed it, which would impact our categorization of the interactions. We also received user feedback that there was limited incentive to tap through on the alert, since it led to that day’s live blog. The blog was a good source of background information on the day’s events but wasn’t directly linked to the content in the alert, which was a summary of the countries at the top of the medal-count leaderboard. If we focused on providing more relevant information when users tapped through, they may have had more incentive to do so.

The second new metric: Survey responses from users

The second metric, or set of metrics, we look at are the qualitative responses to a short survey we send subscribers after they participate in an experiment. These add helpful context to our quantitative analysis. We ask subscribers to rate the experiment’s usefulness, their level of interest in it and whether or not they’d sign up for it again.

For example, here are the results from a question we asked about the live-data alert offered in the Guardian apps the night of the U.S. presidential election.

Responses to a user survey about the live-data alert sent the night of the U.S. presidential election.

An overwhelming majority of people said that the content in the expanded version of the alert was useful, giving us one of many very good signals that they were happy with the new format.

The live-data alert sent the night of the U.S. presidential election.

We understand that users who fill in surveys are a self-selecting group and their opinions may run askew from the general population who participates in our experiments, but we always consider survey feedback ‘directional’ and combine it with quantitative data about actual engagement in order to gauge success of an experiment.

Over the past few months of working with MaassMedia, we quickly learned that while running an experiment once tells you something, it doesn’t tell you everything.

As we continue to run experiments of the same kind, we can use each set of results to start creating benchmarks, upon which we can make better conclusions. We’re looking to see if engagement and satisfaction levels remain high if you run the same experiment for, say, a sports audience and a breaking news audience. We’re also interested to see if satisfaction levels stay the same when, for example, we cover politics in a new way, and then also apply the same format to economic news.

As you might expect, the results vary, and it is only after running multiple instances of an experiment across many topics that you can start to spot trends that point towards opportunities for a format’s lasting success.

As more teams like ours take root in within journalism, we need to keep experimenting with better ways to interpret where our experimentation is most effective, and what signals will show us the way towards evolving news for new mobile platforms.

We’re eager to hear what methods and metrics you’ve found work for your team. Please add them in the comments below. We’d love to give them a try!

This piece is copublished with the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab, of which Sarah Schmalbach is senior product manager. Disclosure: Both the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab and Nieman Lab are funded by the Knight Foundation.

Photo of measuring tape by Sean MacEntee used under a Creative Commons license.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

NPR’s Morning Edition gets a little refresh — and its own new podcast

Why doesn’t NPR publish a daily morning news podcast, along the lines of Morning Edition?

Save for when its politics podcast went daily leading up to last year’s election, the absence of a rundown of each day’s biggest events to watch out for, available through a listener’s podcast app of choice, has left an opening for other news operations. The reason why NPR’s flagship shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered are not also immediately available as podcasts to the car-less, radio-less, digital native set has had less to do with technical obstacles and more to with NPR’s organizational structure and its relationships with member stations. (The two tentpole shows bring in the largest audiences — and account for the largest slice of revenue — for NPR.)1

On Wednesday, NPR will start offering Up First, a 10-minute weekday morning news podcast built off the top news from Morning Edition. (The trailer dropped today and leans heavily on trustworthiness.)

“As you can imagine, this is something that the people at Morning Edition have been talking about for a while, kicking around and working through a lot of ideas, and it took us until just before Christmas,” Sarah Gilbert, executive producer for Morning Edition, said. “We conceived of [the show] as a welcoming, 10-minute digestible companion to a very busy period of the day, and infused it with a conversational, accessible sensibility.”

Up First will contain the “A segment” of the 5 a.m. ET hour of Morning Edition with its cast of hosts David Greene, Steve Inskeep, and Rachel Martin. It’ll then be spruced up with a “more podcast-y tail and top” and released as a podcast at 6 a.m.

“The podcast version will have a top that tells you what’s in that day’s episode, and we’re also going to have language in the episodes that tells listeners — many of whom will be new to public radio content — about the public radio system, the availability of all kinds of incredible programming on our stations, guiding them in finding ways to donate, if they want to donate to their local stations,” Neal Carruth, NPR’s general manager of podcasting (a new position as of last fall), added. “We’ve learned through our research that this younger and more diverse demographic often makes up a discrete audience from the Morning Edition audience. The podcast will point them back to public radio ecosystem.”

NPR is clearly keen on keeping up with the news preferences of younger listeners, spinning out new shows and reworking the sound of old standbys. More than half of the total audience for NPR’s slate of podcasts is between the ages of 18 and 34, according to NPR survey data. For the Morning Edition radio broadcast, the audience is “more evenly split” across all the age groups, according to a spokesperson, but a quarter of those 18- to 34-year-olds report listening to NPR offerings via podcast (“half those also then started listening to a broadcast station”).

What does the existence of Up First — and Morning Edition material — as an on-demand podcast mean for local stations who pay (a lot) to be able to distribute shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered? (The NPR-and-member-station dynamic produces interesting tensions. See here or here or here or here or here.) Gilbert and Carruth both gave rosy replies.

“A lot of station managers we have spoken to in preparation for this launch have expressed genuine excitement about the possibility of reaching a new discrete, younger audience, and finding a way to invite them into the public radio system, and building that loyal relationship which has sustained us for such a long period of time,” Gilbert said.

“Safe to say, [the podcast] is something we’ve thought about well before last December, when it really moved into high gear. That’s just a function of finding a way to do it that makes sense for the whole system,” Carruth said. “It’s central to the project that we’re enhancing and improving Morning Edition, while at the same time, connecting with this emerging digitally native on-demand audience.”

“There’s an interplay here with the conversational values of the on-demand space,” he added. “You’ll hear an ongoing evolution of the sound of Morning Edition, influenced by its being available in the on-demand space.”

Listening in the car. Photo by Jordan Cameron used under a Creative Commons license.

  1. Yes, there are ways to get these shows on-demand. If you have the NPR or NPR One app, for instance, you can tap into a feed.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Filterbubblan is a Swedish effort to give a side-by-side, real-time glance at the country’s filter bubbles

In the wake of November’s election, the concept of the filter bubble is often discussed as if it’s a uniquely American reflection of a left/right that other countries are somehow immune to.

Not so. In Sweden, concerns about the country’s own potential political filter bubbles helped give birth to Filterbubblan (translation: “The Filter Bubble”), an online tool that gives users a side-by-side, real-time view of the political conversations happening among the country’s political parties. On the left are the liberal parties (represented by red and green); green and blue represent the center parties; and on the right are the more conservative discussions (blue and a darker blue). With a swipe, users can navigate from one feed to the next, simplifying the process of reading about how a topic is discussed in different political circles.

Per Grankvist, an author and columnist for the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan, developed the project with Swedish innovation agency Great Works. Grankvist followed the U.S. election from afar and was surprised when Trump won. Why anyone would vote for Trump, he said, “baffled me,” but the widespread support for the then-candidate inspired him to start using Twitter to create lists that could provide more insight into the information sources that fed Trump support. This was invaluable, he said, because it proved that “everyone is voting for a candidate because it feels logical to them. I was trying to emulate that kind of logic. I wanted to recreate that news environment they were in that made the decision to vote for Trump seem logical. That was my starting point.”

Filterbubblan is based around the concept of discrete Twitter lists for different segments of Swedish politics. The project uses Twitter’s suggested user algorithm, which offers users accounts to follow based on the topics and people they’re already interested in. To build each bubble, Grankvist created a new Twitter account and followed the six to 12 accounts suggested for figures central to each bubble, such as party leaders and secretaries. He then kept track of the other accounts that Twitter suggested, adding names until there were around 80 for all three bubbles, each of which represents the feed of a hypothetical person. (The lists don’t include media organizations.) Every tweet that gets pulled in is also analyzed for content and placed in realtime within each feed. Filterbubblan tracks big political topics such as housing, crime, equality, education, and healthcare. These topics, unsurprisingly, are talked about very differently depending on the feed; those on the right, for example, used the recent terror attack in London to talk about the risks of unrestricted immigration.

“Very quickly, you learn the worldviews in all these bubbles are very different. Things are described differently, they refer to different sources, and they often see very different things,” Grankvist said.

Still, politics in Sweden isn’t as hyperpartisan as it can be elsewhere. The Twitter lists that Grankvist built in the U.S. barely overlapped, but he said the filter bubbles in Swedish political discussion are on a continuum, a reflection of how the country’s parliamentary system makes building coalitions more realistic. “In Sweden, we still have conversations and discussion across party lines,” said Grankvist. He pointed out that, in contrast with the U.S., it was a lot more common for Swedes on the left to communicate with and retweet those on the right, and vice versa. “There’s much more of an overlap,” he said.

The project’s resemblance to The Wall Street Journal’s “Red Feed, Blue Feed,” another tool meant to offer users a peek into the feeds of other partisans, isn’t accidental. Filterbubblan was inspired by the Journal’s project, which Grankvist said was “a good starting point” for addressing the issue. But he said that Filterbubblan is a more powerful tool than “Red Feed, Blue Feed,” because it’s based on Twitter’s own algorithm (rather than editorial decisions) and because it places the tweets within the contexts of specific political topics.

Filterbubblan is also similar, at least in its aim, to projects such as Allsides.com and Read Across the Aisle, both of which are designed to help people diversify their news consumption habits and, in turn, gain a deeper understanding of how political discussions look among people they disagree with.

Like all of these projects, Filterbubblan is designed to “put a spotlight on how we talk to each other in the public domain. Everyone is taking a slightly different angle to attack the problem,” Grankvist said.

Photo of the Riksdag Parliament Building by Neil Howard used under a Creative Commons license.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

De diepe wrok van N-VA

Apache.be - ma, 03/04/2017 - 16:17
Bot ontslag en brute macht. Zit er systematiek in de wijze waarop N-VA met kritische geesten omgaat? Apache zet de ontslagen en uithalen op een rij.
Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Global Conference: Call for Research Papers/Abstracts

Global Investigative Journalism Network - ma, 03/04/2017 - 10:39

The 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference, to be held this November 16-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa, will again feature an academic research track, highlighting trends, challenges, teaching methodologies, and best practices in investigative journalism. Here is the call for papers that is going out to journalism professors worldwide:


Investigative and Computer-Assisted Reporting Pedagogical Skills and Techniques

To be presented at the 2017 Global Investigative Journalism Conference at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This is a call for submission of abstracts by May 15, 2017, of no more than 300 words for a short paper and panel presentation at Global Investigative Journalism Conference. Abstracts and papers should be sent to research.papers@gijn.org.

Decisions will be made by June 15, 2017.
Final papers will be due Sept. 15, 2017.

The papers will be compiled in a digital publication for the conference and accepted proposals and presenters will receive invitations to attend to the conference.

Topics considered although not limited to:

– Trends in investigative reporting

– Trends in computer-assisted reporting and data journalism

– Challenges in doing investigative reporting depending on country or culture

– Successful methods of teaching investigative, computer-assisted and data journalism

– Adapting investigative journalism to new technologies

Submission Requirements:

Proposals should present original research into any aspect of the aforementioned topics. Papers must follow APA style. If abstract is accepted, paper length is no more than 15 pages (excluding references, tables and appendices).

Papers should not have been published or presented at a prior conference.


* Paper must be written in English.

* Paper must be in the format of Microsoft Word (.doc). No other formats will be accepted.

* If abstract is accepted, paper must be formatted to APA style and no longer than 15 pages (excluding references, tables, appendices)

* Papers should be sent with the title, but papers sent with author’s identifying information displayed will automatically be disqualified. Please send a separate title page with the authors’ contact information.

If you experience any problems in submitting your paper or have any questions, please contact Brant Houston at brant.houston@gmail.com or Jelter Meers at jelter.meers@ijec.org.

Guest Editors Include:

Steve Doig, Arizona State University

Anton Harber, University of the Witwatersrand

Brant Houston, University of Illinois

Amy Schmitz Weiss, San Diego State University

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

How Communities Enable Success in Watchdog News

Global Investigative Journalism Network - ma, 03/04/2017 - 10:09

The bad news is that long-dominant paradigms of the news business lost effectiveness over the past two decades and are unlikely to bounce back. The fragmentation brought about by the digital revolution is not a reversible process, and the advertising revenue-driven business model, while still valid, will never be quite the same. Moreover, the fallout from the financial crisis (in which we include the electoral victories of Trump and Brexit) saw public trust in mainstream media plunge to historical lows. The Big Media brands still have meaning for many consumers, but competitors like Breitbart.com and Greenpeace.org are legitimizing the alternatives and creating their own networks of information and influence.

We call these new competitors stakeholder-driven media (SDM), and our recent e-book Power Is Everywhere (available as a free download) describes their ongoing ascendancy and business models. Unlike the mainstream media (MSM), which aspire to provide “all the news that’s fit to print” to a general public, SDM work directly with and on behalf of their audiences to advance the issues, causes, and interests that matter most to them. Instead of telling people what they should care about or need to know to be informed citizens, SDM address publics who already know what matters, and want to do something about it.

On one hand, the focus on a community’s concerns means that the potential audience for individual SDM is often smaller than for MSM. (In fact, one of the reasons that objectivity became a news industry standard was to enable publishers to cross partisan lines in building an audience.) But size is not always equivalent to influence, and SDM also exist to exert influence on issues and organizations. Moreover, at a time when many legacy publications and platforms are foundering financially, SDM are proving the business case for an advocacy-based, community audience paradigm.

Let’s be clear: We are speaking not only of militant activism, but also of media that defend communities of practice and interest (such as consumers, different kinds of small businesses, employees in various industries, unions, or followers of various issues or organizations). The advocacy here involves protecting, promoting, and prevailing for and with the audience. That means putting the interests of that community first.

Media sources shared on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. election shows that Breitbart became the center of a distinct right-wing media ecosystem.

It’s not a radical idea; that’s what news media did, and still do, in many places and times. But it does imply that the notion of a “general public” or “mass audience” doesn’t mean what it meant in the early 1990s, before the advent of global broadband internet enabled explosive growth among media outlets and niche audiences, some of which became quite big, like the three million members of Greenpeace. The impact was visible in 2016, when a fragmented universe of alt-right, conservative, and contrarian websites played a key role in mobilizing the Trump electorate. It is false to say that Trump beat “the Media.” One set of media, made of conservative SDM allied with Fox, beat another.

If your publics are no longer general, every component of your news business model must shift to fit that fact. Certainly, we think that there will always be news media that target entire populations, though some have vanished, and others will decline before they stabilize or disappear. Meanwhile, SDM have already integrated the effects of audience fragmentation into their business models.

At a time when many legacy publications and platforms are foundering financially, stakeholder-driven media are proving the business case for an advocacy-based, community audience paradigm.

That starts with the value proposition: If we are no longer neutral reporters, abstaining from judgments and foreswearing ulterior goals, we can still find facts that matter, but we are providing them first to the people who need them most, and are most likely to act on them.

In that case we’re not just providing information. We’re working to shape the world in cooperation with our community, who share our values and mission. What we don’t do – the stuff that they don’t care about, or can get somewhere else – matters as much as what we do. (We don’t do sports, unless we’re a sports community.) We are focused on certain issues, but even more on their outcomes. We want to have an effect on the way the story ends, and we specify the effect. We’re transparent, not objective. We can still pay attention to true facts, and as we’ll show later, we’d be wise to do so.

Let’s consider how this shift worked out at two successful SDM, in two countries, published in two languages. Both of these cases and many others are described in greater detail in Power is Everywhere.   

Case Study: Mediapart

The French daily news website Mediapart, launched in 2007, demonstrates that contemporary news consumers will accept a non-neutral editorial stance, on condition that the stance is transparent, matches their own views, and doesn’t affect the reliability of information shared. Mediapart clearly represents the views of a particular community – namely, France’s critical Left, a significant minority of the population. The core of Mediapart’s value proposition to this community resides in muckraking, investigative stories that expose corruption among France’s political and financial elites.

At its founding, Mediapart’s editorial strategy was to hammer on financial scandals implicating the right-wing party of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy. Co-founder Edwy Plenel, former editor in chief at Le Monde, supported the strategy by raiding Paris’s newsroom for leading investigative reporters, and paid their salaries with the savings in printing and distribution costs inherent to online publication. Put another way, Mediapart built capacity by decimating the competition. Consequently, Mediapart’s investigative abilities distinguish it from the corporate media that dominate the news industry in France, as well as from the relatively independent dailies (Le Monde and Libération) whose downsized capacity increasingly forces them to rely more on style than substance. The rest of the Paris press comments on events. Mediapart drives them.

A portrait of former French Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac. Source: Creative Commons

The strategy paid off when Mediapart turned its attention to the Socialist government that succeeded Sarkozy’s administration. In 2012, the journal broke the news that Minister of the Budget Jérôme Cahuzac had for years held undeclared offshore bank accounts. The following year, Mediapart announced that it had reached the landmark of 100,000 subscribers.  Like its closest competitor, the weekly, all-print Canard enchaîné, Mediapart had shown itself to be necessary reading, not only for its first, highly politicized audience base, but also for the elite it covers.

There were other ways that Mediapart created value for its subscribers – the journal’s only source of revenue, as at the Canard. One way was to invest savings from printing and distribution in lowering subscription costs as well. At a price of nine euros monthly, Mediapart is cheaper than the daily and weekly heritage journals it competes with, and provides better insight in both headline and trend stories.

Another way was to create a platform open enough to allow for regular and substantial user-generated content. In particular, Mediapart offered every subscriber the opportunity to publish a blog through its platform. Of course some of those blogs aren’t worth reading. But some of them represent high-level content from actors like former European Parliament deputy and neo-Keynesian economist Liem Hoang-Ngoc, an advisor to Presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon. The editorial staff selects the best blogs daily and promotes them on the home page.

Stakeholder-driven media are not just providing information, but working to shape the world in cooperation with their communities, who share their values and missions.

Interactive strategies like this cannot be done very well, if at all, by amateurs, which is why Mediapart’s founders include a web design agency. (The successful Dutch news startup, De Correspondent, likewise shared ownership with its web design agency.) The agency’s input is evident in other value-creating features. We are subscribers, and we can say that it is easier and richer to follow an ongoing story in Mediapart than in any other French journal, thanks to thematic, documentary, and author links. Put another way, Mediapart saves its readers valuable search time on important stories. Not all of its content is as interesting as the watchdog work, but on this key function Mediapart succeeds far better than its competition.

The chief takeaway of Mediapart’s success story is that consumers are ready to pay for good investigative journalism, as long as:

  • It cannot be obtained elsewhere for free, and value is added through presentation and access to data (like source documents);
  • The price is reasonable and affordable;
  • The content defends the users’ point of view – not just in tone, but also in substance. Other viewpoints are not excluded, but neither are they defended. (In fact, they may be ridiculed.);
  • The media also provides them with a platform for their own views.
Case Study: Responsible-Investor.com

SDM are hardly restricted to the political arena. For instance, Responsible-Investor.com is dedicated to “responsible investing, ESG [environmental, social and governance issues] and sustainable finance for institutional investors” – a growing niche in the corporate world, and also a growing demand among MBA students at business schools like INSEAD. (In fact, ESG studies are becoming a differentiating feature among business schools, a way for them to attract new customer segments.) The site and its readers, in effect, are de facto partners in a common enterprise whose goal is two-fold: Succeed in the securities markets, while helping to take socially responsible investment mainstream. Additionally, Responsible-Investor.com helps police an emerging sector, exposing scams that target its users. Meanwhile, it supplies information that professionals can use to explain and justify what they do to colleagues and bosses. These key services are valuable enough to ensure Responsible-investor a profitable subscriber base.

The services are leveraged further through a steady series of conferences, which provide attendees with additional information, as well as the opportunity to widen their networks in the field. Co-founder Hugh Wheelan calls the conferences “business development that pays,” because they also drive subscriptions, open new avenues to content and sources, and reinforce the brand.

None of it can work, he adds, except on one condition: “The issue is whether you have a decent mission or not.” If the mission doesn’t matter to the target community, and if it isn’t carried out in a reliable and accessible manner, the business model is hollow.

Stakeholder-driven media are not restricted to the political arena. What drives it to work is whether your organisation has a decent mission that matter to the target community and you deliver in a reliable and accessible manner.

Responsible-investor suggests part of the answer to the threat of fake news. There are publics who can’t afford the luxury of believing in lies or wishful promotions. (You will find others in Power is Everywhere.) The clearest path to success for SDM is to provide those publics with essential facts and insight, whether or not the authors or the audience like their meaning. One of the reasons that The Economist captured the U.S. audience of Business Week is that The Economist foresaw the financial crisis well before 2007, while Business Week, like most of the financial and business press, failed to warn its readers. Looking over the rubble, which watchdog would you feed? The one who barked, or the one who slept while the house caught fire?

The New Value Proposition

Responsible-Investor.com and Mediapart share a strong sense of mission that unites them with their audiences. Subscribers feel they are active contributors to a community that reflects—and works together to promote—their values. Their connection to the content goes far beyond opening a magazine or clicking on a link to an article. They rely on it to act in a turbulent time.

Only a few years ago, the rise of mission-driven SDM was a cause of shock and disdain among MSM managers. SDM were “biased”, or “stupid,” or Internet trash. Both the rise of hard-right populism, supported by SDM like Breitbart.com, and the emergence of investigative journalism among NGOs like Greenpeace, have shattered that condescension. The New York Times has pivoted from the voice of mainstream consensus to the shield of opposition to Trumpism, and become a defender of facts against alternative facts. It is gaining subscribers by doing so.

This will not be an easy passage for many MSM to negotiate. If they get it wrong, like France’s Le Figaro, which under the ownership of Serge Dassault has become a shrill promoter of the scandal-plagued French Right, they will continue to lose audience, money and influence. (Breitbart.com, too, will stumble if and when its users perceive that it is misleading them.) But if they get it right – if they learn to protect, promote, and prevail for and with their users, without leading them into another disaster like the financial crisis or the Iraq War – they will benefit from the same forces that are building the SDM movement at MSM expense.

It’s not the media business that is dying – let alone the value of real facts – but the perceived value of neutrality.

It’s not the media business that is dying – let alone the value of real facts – but the perceived value of neutrality. In a not-so-distant past, news media existed to defend their users, as Pete Hamill observed in News is a Verb (1999). They lost their customers’ trust not through an act of God, as Lou Gerstner once told IBM’s people in a time of crisis.

News brands worldwide were launched or bought up by financiers and politicians who used them as instruments, or who downsized their properties’ resource and skill bases to economize on watchdog work. Audiences are telling us that they want their watchdogs back, enough to pay for their services. If you want to succeed in this environment, ask yourself: “Whom do I want to defend? How will I join with them?” The answers are being invented as we write, and more innovations will come.

This post is based on the book Power Is Everywhere: How Stakeholder-Driven Media Build the Future of Watchdog News, which is available for free download.

Mark Lee Hunter is an Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, and the author of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists (UNESCO 2009). Luk Van Wassenhove is Professor of Technology and Operations Management and The Henry Ford Chaired Professor of Manufacturing at INSEAD. Maria Besiou is Professor of Humanitarian Logistics at Kühne Logistics University. Benjamin Kessler is Asia Editor & Digital Manager at INSEAD.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

Real News

Jeff Jarvis BuzzMachine - ma, 03/04/2017 - 06:01

I’m proud that we at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Tow-Knight Center just announced the creation of the News Integrity Initiative, charged with finding ways to better inform the public conversation and funded thus far with $14 million by nine foundations and companies, all listed on the press release. Here I want to tell its story.

This began after the election when my good friend Craig Newmark — who has been generously supporting work on trust in news — challenged us to address the problem of mis- and disinformation. There is much good work being done in this arena — from the First Draft Coalition, the Trust Project, Dan Gillmor’s work at ASU bringing together news literacy efforts, and the list goes on. Is there room for more?

I saw these needs and opportunities:

  • First, much of the work to date is being done from a media perspective. I want to explore this issue from a public perspective — not just about getting the public to read our news but more about getting media to listen to the public. This is the philosophy behind the Social Journalism program Carrie Brown runs at CUNY, which is guided by Jay Rosen’s summary of James Carey: “The press does not ‘inform’ the public. It is ‘the public’ that ought to inform the press. The true subject matter of journalism is the conversation the public is having with itself.” We must begin with the public conversation and must better understand it.
  • Second, I saw that the fake news brouhaha was focusing mainly on media and especially on Facebook — as if they caused it and could fix it. I wanted to expand the conversation to include other affected and responsible parties: ad agencies, brands, ad networks, ad technology, PR, politics, civil society.
  • Third, I wanted to shift the focus of our deliberations from the negative to the positive. In this tempest, I see the potential for a flight to quality — by news users, advertisers, platforms, and news organizations. I want to see how we can exploit this moment.
  • Fourth, because there is so much good work — and there are so many good events (I spent about eight weeks of weekends attending emergency fake news conferences) — we at the Tow-Knight Center wanted to offer to convene the many groups attacking this problem so we could help everyone share information, avoid duplication, and collaborate. We don’t want to compete with any of them, only to help them. At Tow-Knight, under the leadership of GM Hal Straus, we have made the support of professional communities of practice — so far around product development, audience development and membership, commerce, and internationalization — key to our work; we want to bring those resources to the fake news fight.

My dean and partner in crime, Sarah Bartlett, and I formulated a proposal for Craig. He quickly and generously approved it with a four-year grant.

And then my phone rang. Or rather, I got a Facebook message from the ever-impressive Áine Kerr, who manages journalism partnerships there. Facebook had recently begun working with fact-checking agencies to flag suspect content; it started its Journalism Project; and it held a series of meetings with news organizations to share what it is doing to improve the lot of news on the platform.

Áine said Facebook was looking to do much more in collaboration with others and that led to a grant to fund research, projects, and convenings under the auspices of what Craig had begun.

Soon, more funders joined: John Borthwick of Betaworks has been a supporter of our work since we collaborated on a call to cooperate against fake news. Mozilla agreed to collaborate on projects. Darren Walker at the Ford Foundation generously offered his support, as did the two funders of the center I direct, the Knight and Tow foundations. Brian O’Kelley, founder of AppNexus, and the Democracy Fund joined as well. More than a dozen additional organizations — all listed in the release — said they would participate as well. We plan to work with many more organizations as advisers, funders, and grantees.

Now let me get right to the questions I know you’re ready to tweet my way, particularly about one funder: Have I sold out to Facebook? Well, in the end, you will be the judge of that. For a few years now, I have been working hard to try to build bridges between the publishers and the platforms and I’ve had the audacity to tell both Facebook and Google what I think they should do for journalism. So when Facebook knocks on the door and says they want to help journalism, who am I to say I won’t help them help us? When Google started its Digital News Initiative in Europe, I similarly embraced the effort and I have been impressed at the impact it has had on building a productive relationship between Google and publishers.

Sarah and I worked hard in negotiations to assure CUNY’s and our independence. Facebook — and the other funders and participants present and future — are collaborators in this effort. But we designed the governance to assure that neither Facebook nor any other funder would have direct control over grants and to make sure that we would not be put in a position of doing anything we did not want to do. Note also that I am personally receiving no funds from Facebook, just as I’ve never been paid by Google (though I have had travel expenses reimbursed). We hope to also work with multiple platforms in the future; discussions are ongoing. I will continue to criticize and defend them as deserved.

My greatest hope is that this Initiative will provide the opportunity to work with Facebook and other platforms on reimagining news, on supporting innovation, on sharing data to study the public conversation, and on supporting news literacy broadly defined.

The work has already begun. A week and a half ago, we convened a meeting of high-level journalists and representatives from platforms (both Facebook and Google), ad agencies, brands, ad networks, ad tech, PR, politics, researchers, and foundations for a Chatham-House-rule discussion about propaganda and fraud (née “fake news”). We looked at research that needs to be done and at public education that could help.

The meeting ended with a tangible plan. We will investigate gathering and sharing many sets of signals about both quality and suspicion that publishers, platforms, ad networks, ad agencies, and brands can use — according to their own formulae — to decide not just what sites to avoid but better yet what journalism to support. That’s the flight to quality I have been hoping to see. I would like us to support this work as a first task of our new Initiative.

We will fund research. I want to start by learning what we already know about the public conversation: what people share, what motivates them to share it, what can have an impact on informing the conversation, and so on. We will reach out to the many researchers working in this field — danah boyd (read her latest!) of Data & Society, Zeynep Tufekci of UNC, Claire Wardle of First Draft, Duncan Watts and David Rothschild of Microsoft Research, Kate Starbird (who just published an eye-opening paper on alternative narratives of news) of the University of Washington, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen of the Reuters Institute, Charlie Beckett of POLIS-LSE, and others. I would like us to examine what it means to be informed so we can judge the effectiveness of our — indeed, of journalism’s — work.

We will fund projects that bring journalism to the public and the conversation in new ways.

We will examine new ways to achieve news literacy, broadly defined, and investigate the roots of trust and mistrust in news.

And we will help convene meetings to look at solutions — no more whining about “fake news,” please.

We will work with organizations around the world; you can see a sampling of them in the release and we hope to work with many more: projects, universities, companies, and, of course, newsrooms everywhere.

We plan to be very focused on a few areas where we can have a measurable impact. That said, I hope we also pursue the high ambition to reinvent journalism for this new age.

But we’re not quite ready. This has all happened very quickly. We are about to start a search for a manager to run this effort with a small staff to help with information sharing and events. As soon as we begin to identify key areas, we will invite proposals. Watch this space.

The post Real News appeared first on BuzzMachine.

Categorieën: Extern nieuws

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