Wednesday 23 April 2014, 11:55
There is no shortage of videos on YouTube purporting to show the latest dramatic developments in Ukraine. Verifying them is not always easy amid the intense propaganda offensive surrounding the crisis in the country. There are few hard-and-fast rules, but here are a few tricks I've been using to check the veracity of such videos:
There are sometimes clues in the vocabulary, accents and pronunciation used by those filmed and recorded. It has to be said that Russian dialects in eastern Ukraine and neighbouring regions of Russia are very similar, and it's all but impossible to tell them apart. However, the further away you travel from Ukraine the more different Russian sounds.
For example, in this video from Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine a masked armed man tells onlookers to get back behind a pavement's kerb. He uses the word ‘porebrik’ which is common in St Petersburg but not the rest of Russia or Ukraine, where the word ‘bordyur’ is used instead.
There are also phonetic differences between Russian dialects in Ukraine and the language spoken in Russia. For example, ‘g’ and ‘v’ before vowels are often soft, so that ‘god’ (year) sounds like ‘hod’ in...
Tuesday 22 April 2014, 09:55
For followers of the UK’s emerging hyperlocal and community media scene the past couple of weeks have seen a couple of interesting developments.
The first was the launch of a free online course in community journalism by Cardiff University (disclaimer: I was part of the team which produced it). Part of the wider move by many educational establishments to create online modules (often referred to as Mooc’s or ‘massive open online courses’) which transcend geographic boundaries and limits to student numbers, the course is a global first, and something of an experiment for the university.
Over a five-week period students will cover essential skills for digital journalism - such as accuracy and verification, media law and ethics - as well as questions of sustainability and how to manage online communities.
Arguably this range of content means that even established journalists can potentially learn something new from it, benefitting from insights provided by both Cardiff’s tutors and other participants.
“We’ve been blown away by the response,” Richard Sambrook (above), professor of journalism and director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff University, told me.
Tuesday 15 April 2014, 16:23When BBC News recently held its first Reddit AMA (ask me anything) we invited our chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet to answer the questions. Lyse had just returned from a trip to Tehran - the first time she had been back since a visa ban imposed following the 2009 elections.
The wide-ranging AMA thread touched on impartiality, ‘BBC bias’, the place of women in Iranian society, Iran’s view of Israel, Lyse’s distinctive Canadian accent, her scariest moments (being pursued by helicopter gunships in Afghanistan was certainly one), bad Farsi jokes and how to get into journalism.
So here’s a quick rundown of how we made the AMA happen, how it went on the day and what we learned:
1. We made contact with Reddit director of communications Victoria Taylor (email address) in the US the week before, to ensure that our AMA was scheduled in its Google calendar. The listing is important to ensure there is no clash with other prospective AMAs and to publicise the event to ‘redditors’ in advance. The calendar just lists the name and title of the person doing the AMA, the time of the AMA and links to a Wikipedia listing on the person.
2. As no other publicity...
Tuesday 15 April 2014, 10:58
In the second of our posts on high-impact investigative reporting by BBC regional news teams, Steve Holloway describes how technical innovation eased the editorial process on a difficult and sensitive story:
A compact camera only usually used for documentary filming proved a game-changer in our BBC South East Today investigation into migrants attempting to enter Dover illegally from Calais. Some of those we filmed were prepared to risk their lives by clinging to the axles of lorries.
Together with a set of cheap DIY security cameras, the large-format Canon C300, which is new to BBC News, allowed...
Monday 14 April 2014, 16:29
On 16 April the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will publish its latest global impunity index, naming, shaming and ranking the countries where the murder of journalists is most likely to go unpunished. It will not make edifying reading.
New figures from Unesco show that more than 540 journalists have been killed for doing their job since 2007, with less than one in 10 cases of targeted attacks ever resolved. Against the background of these and plenty of other chilling statistics, last week’s London symposium Making the Protection of Journalists a Reality: Time to End Impunity set...
Friday 11 April 2014, 16:18
For the past couple of years my main role at the College of Journalism has been to train hundreds of journalists and others in how to get the best out of their smartphones. Used properly, what they carry in their pocket can be a very efficient tool for gathering material in the field - be it a photo, some video or an audio recording.
Dozens of apps can help a journalist to work more efficiently on their smartphone. For ‘smartphone’, though, read ‘the iPhone’, as the training has almost entirely been on Apple’s iOS devices.
Back in 2011 when I was developing the course with my fellow...
Thursday 10 April 2014, 10:46
In the first of two insights into investigative reporting by BBC regional news teams, Guy Lynn tells the story behind an award-winning undercover operation that lifted the lid on racism in the London housing market. The joint story by Inside Out London and BBC London News will receive the top investigative journalism prize at the European Circom awards next month, having already been named best exclusive investigation of the year at last month’s Ruby Awards, which celebrate the best of BBC television in the nations and regions:
Little in your work as a TV reporter - doing ‘lives’ in...
Wednesday 9 April 2014, 13:11
The dramatic expansion and proliferation of media in Afghanistan in recent years played a pivotal role in the weekend’s presidential elections, by mobilising millions of Afghans in all parts of the country to take part in the democratic process despite widespread security threats by the Taliban.
Although Afghanistan is one of youngest democracies in the world, with its economy almost totally dependent on foreign aid, the presidential election campaign somehow resembled what might be seen in any modern democratic country. As the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet observed...
Tuesday 8 April 2014, 11:23
Joel Simon was one of dozens of international journalists, editors, representatives of NGOs, diplomatic and legal figures who took part in this week’s London symposium Making the Protection of Journalists a Reality: Time to End Impunity.
A collaboration between BBC Global News, the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) and the College of Journalism, the conference sought to produce actions and strategies to combat impunity for violence against the media. It took place on the 100th day of detention for the al-Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt. The CPJ executive’s proposals were some of...
Friday 4 April 2014, 12:02
This post by Ricardo Gonzalez Bernal continues our series of articles setting the scene for a major London conference on the protection of journalists. His exhortation to make journalist deaths “unthinkable” is given added urgency by the fatal shooting, confirmed today, of AP photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus and the attack on her colleague Kathy Gannon in Afghanistan.
The one-day symposium Making the Protection of Journalists a Reality: Time to End Impunity will be held in London’s BBC Broadcasting House on 7 April. It is a collaboration between BBC Global News, the Centre for Freedom of...