a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Who’s violating fair use these days?

Posted on the November 22nd, 2010

That much debated, confusingly fluid, hugely important USA legal concept known as “fair use” is back on center stage again, according to a blog post last week by Rob O’Regan at emediavitals.com (“Fair use and copyright issues return to the spotlight” Nov 18, 2010).

O’Regan notes some recent key lawsuits in relation to fair use, and identifies three current trends involving news and magazine publishers. Read full post here.

Another blog post on the same subject is also up on emediavitals from Prescott Shibles (“Fair use: how much is too much?” Nov 17, 2010). Shibles highlights policies of some aggregator websites and rates how some of them may or may not be violating fair use.

I’ve provided some examples of aggregation at the bottom of this post. You might be surprised by who’s violating copyright and by how much.

One of them is truly a dismaying surprise. See full post here.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Who’s violating fair use these days?

New York Times and Newsweek each lose a star

Posted on the September 23rd, 2010

In news that startled a bit this week, two major names in journalism in the US announced their departure from their star posts in traditional media to sign on to new media.

The New York Times lost economic reporter Peter Goodman. The struggling Newsweek lost political columnist Howard Fineman. Both of these prominent journalists have just joined the staff of one of new media’s most visible success stories, The Huffington Post.

Goodman was interviewed by the Washington Post about his big jump (“Huffington snags N.Y. Times star” Howard Kurtz, Sept 21, 2010). Goodman told Kurtz, “For me it’s a chance to write with a point of view… It’s sort of the age of the columnist. With the dysfunctional political system, old conventional notions of fairness make it hard to tell readers directly what’s going on. This is a chance for me to explore solutions in my economic reporting.”

Goodman went to to express dissatisfaction about a confining aspect of the process of reporting imposed on him by the gray lady Times.

Writing yesterday in reaction to Goodman’s statements, news media expert and journalism instructor Dan Gillmor commented  (“The second great migration to new media” Salon, Sept 22, 2010):

I’m also convinced that a big part of what’s happening is a sound one from a journalistic sense: That is, reporters want to be liberated from the lazy-journalism tyranny of the idiotic notion that there are two equal sides to everything — do a story on the Holocaust, get a quote from a neo-Nazi — and they grasp better than their old-media editors do that human voice is the heart of story-telling.

Gillmor linked to a related post on Goodman and Fineman by Salon co-founder and author Scott Rosenberg. In his post, Rosenberg voiced sympathy with some of the huge, older news organizations (“Journalists follow their voices, vote with their feet” Sept 22, 2010).

Rosenberg particularly noted the “phenomenal-sized audience” of Yahoo News, and the “blue-chip” reputation” of the NY Times.  This constrains them to be more cautious in their ways, he wrote.


The challenge for their [Times and Yahoo] managers is a subtle one: How to infuse their coverage with the distinctive human voices of journalistic observers who no longer wish to suppress their personal perspectives, while also insuring that the big megaphones they own do not turn into amplifiers of treacherous rumors, personal vendettas, or partisan lies. (Fox News provides a handy negative exemplar here.)

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on New York Times and Newsweek each lose a star

More on Twitter as a newsie

Posted on the September 9th, 2010

In light of my post yesterday about Twitter as a news tool, here’s a weigh-in on GigaOM.com that I just saw today — “Like It or Not, Twitter Has Become a News Platform” (by Mathew Ingram,  Sept 8, 2010).

…the reality is that, for all its flaws, Twitter is a publishing tool, and an increasingly powerful one. And it can be used by anyone, journalist and non-journalist alike.

Read the full post here.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on More on Twitter as a newsie

Mighty Twitter shines again: Discovery hostage crisis*

Posted on the September 8th, 2010

Perhaps something not fessed-up to enough by some guardians of traditional journalism (aka old media), is that its classic reporting model has an unavoidable built in awkwardness. Steps: 1) the event happens; 2) the tip or report arrives to the editor or staff writer; 3) physical bodies are (cumbersomely) dispatched to interview, photograph or shoot, and write the thing up; 4 ) publication or broadcast… finally.

So however worthy and enduring this old model of spreading the news, it seems evident that the undesirable elements of delay and artificiality are inextricably interwoven into the process.

Viewed from this perspective then, Twitter and its amazingly democratic and efficient model of access and instant publication can only be seen as a useful step forward in execution of the news reporting task.

But the errors, the errors! you hear the purists cry. Yes (perfection eludes us yet again), but this is more than offset, in my opinion, by the spontaneous authenticity, the speed, and the virtually unlimited scope of delivery of the Twitter product.

The ideal solution, as some newspapers are (a bit sluggishly) embracing, is for traditional media to utilize Twitter as a indispensable new tool that has the potential to greatly enhance journalism.

For the most recent example of Twitter winning the news race, read Katy Gathright’s paean to Twitter in a  blog post on Social Times (“Twitter Trumps Traditional Media in Discovery Hostage Crisis” Sept 2, 2010).

* Discovery Hostage Crisis

Reader Comments (1) - Post a Comment

How to induce people to want what they need?

Posted on the June 23rd, 2010

The title above is taken from a recent article by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Jack Fuller for Nieman Reports. Fuller offers some suggestions for journalists and/or bloggers (and political scientists) that promise to be the most helpful I’ve read in a long time (“Feeling the Heat: The Brain Holds Clues for Journalism” June, 2010).


Journalists know all about responding to the next new thing. We leap like dalmatians at the sound of the fire bell. But to understand what is happening to the news audience today we need to get beyond the clang of the alarm. We have to get past the immediacy of each hot new idea and begin with something deeper and more durable. We need to understand what the transformation of our information environment has done at the most fundamental level to the way people take in news.

As are many others, I’m always searching for better ways to interact with the massive and overwhelming flow of information coming our way these days. Fuller’s article (and recently published book — online chapter excerpt here) seem to promise a bit of light and logic in this regard.

Tagged with: , ,
Reader Comments (1) - Post a Comment

When everything old is still only old

Posted on the May 24th, 2010

Some answers to how new media differs from old media are offered in a report published yesterday by Pew Research Center (“How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press” May 23, 2010). The question was the focus of a 2009, year-long study by Pew.

First answer — the differences between the new and the old are substantial, Pew reports.


Most broadly, the stories and issues that gain traction in social media differ substantially from those that lead in the mainstream press. But they also differ greatly from each other. Of the 29 weeks that we tracked on all three social platforms, blogs, Twitter and YouTube shared the same top story just once…

Each social media platform also seems to have its own personality and function. In the year studied, bloggers gravitated toward stories that elicited emotion, concerned individual or group rights or triggered ideological passion. Often these were stories that people could personalize and then share in the social forum — at times in highly partisan language. And unlike in some other types of media, the partisanship here does not lean strongly to one side or the other. Even on stories like the Tea Party protests, Sarah Palin and public support for Obama both conservative and liberal voices come through strongly…

So much for critics who claim that bloggers and other social media sites are only re-cycled imitations of traditional media. And the finding that new media content isn’t homogeneous indicates that it’s less susceptible to the pack journalism syndrome. That’s good news.

Another finding from the Pew study may point to why traditional media is struggling to gain the eye and ear of new generations of  audience. Referring to content of new media sites, Pew reports:

…top weekly stories differ dramatically from what is receiving attention in the traditional press. Blogs overlap more than Twitter, but even there only about a quarter of the top stories in any given week were the same as in the “MSM.”

Instead, social media tend to home in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press. And there is little evidence, at least at this point, of the traditional press then picking up on those stories in response.

That last sentence packs a wallop.

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on When everything old is still only old

Allvoices: a new level of democracy in news media

Posted on the July 11th, 2008

A new citizen journalism website is now fully online, and it’s one of the most interesting and ambitious such ventures that I’ve seen. Allvoices.com describes itself as the “first true people’s media.”

Excerpt from its mission statement:

It’s a place where individuals from all over the world can share what is happening where they are (location) at a particular point in time. Allvoices then brings together multiple voices or points of view via news stories, videos, images and blogs from the Internet, to provide context and build momentum. The platform provides the community with the ability to search and navigate a news event by location and category, to share and to have a discussion around it, to emotionally connect with each other’s perspectives and complete the human story.

Especially fascinating and helpful, I think, is an interactive world map displayed across the top of the home page. Posted with hyperlinked circles and stars in various locations on the map, it allows the viewer, if interested, to click and easily review what’s currently being posted.

How does it work?

Allvoices is an open, unedited and unmediated site. Every voice (contribution) is automatically checked for spam and relevance to the news event. A contribution is not edited and is posted as is as long as it is relevant to the news event. The relevance is checked by our algorithms and technology – not humans.

The whole idea behind adding a voice to an existing news event is to get the discussion going. It can be as simple as sharing an emotion or a comment.

The team behind Allvoices is impressive. It includes business, communications and IT professionals, and also some Computer Science professors from Northwestern University.

Summing up its mission, the Allvoices website states:

Allvoices was started by passionate people who believe that everyone has a story worth telling, sharing that story can be the first step in changing lives. Allvoices redefines the voice of people through the global community for sharing current news events and issues from multiple points of view, providing an emotional connection to each other’s perspectives.

At it’s core, Allvoices is about democracy. About giving power to people. About their voices having the effect that makes a difference.

(I came across the link to Allvoices on the Editors Weblog site.)

This Allvoices video below powerfully demonstrates once again that a picture can be worth a thousand words:

UPDATE: Questo post in italiano

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Allvoices: a new level of democracy in news media