Tag Archives: media

A Rhetorical Question?

From the BBC’s website today…


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The New News

Pew’s latest research on news consumption in the US.

The key bits:

A sizable minority of Americans find themselves at the intersection of these two longstanding trends in news consumption. Integrators, who get the news from both traditional sources and the internet, are a more engaged, sophisticated and demographically sought-after audience segment than those who mostly rely on traditional news sources. Integrators share some characteristics with a smaller, younger, more internet savvy audience segment – Net-Newsers – who principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources.

Net-Newsers are the youngest of the news user segments (median age: 35). They are affluent and even better educated than the News Integrators: More than eight-in-ten have at least attended college. Net-Newsers not only rely primarily on the internet for news, they are leading the way in using new web features and other technologies. Nearly twice as many regularly watch news clips on the internet as regularly watch nightly network news broadcasts (30% vs. 18%).

Net-Newsers do rely on some well known traditional media outlets. They are at least as likely as Integrators and Traditionalists to read magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and somewhat more likely to get news from the BBC.

So, in short, good news for those traditional operators — like CNN and the BBC — who have invested in developing their offerings into video and TV reporting. Also good news for heavy hitters such as The New Yorker – suggesting that good print journalism does, in fact, have a future.

There are also some worrying trends:

In spite of the increasing variety of ways to get the news, the proportion of young people getting no news on a typical day has increased substantially over the past decade. About a third of those younger than 25 (34%) say they get no news on a typical day, up from 25% in 1998.

Believability ratings for national news organizations remain very low. If anything, believability ratings for major online news outlets – including news aggregators such as Google News and AOL News – are lower than for major print, cable and broadcast outlets.

Anyone interested in the media (hello?) can read the full report at Pew’s main site.

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Flickr Burns

More Flickr zeitgeist

Flickr is the news — particularly its long, spikey tail. Here, Flickr user johndoe40 records the recent attack on the US embassy in Belgrade. Also note the Belgrade protestors staging a televised ‘fuck you’ by mooning at the mainstream media’s cameras. How long before we dispense with embedded news reporters altogether? Or are we just replacing the mass media’s agenda with that of the individual citizen journalist?

Source (typically): a blog (namely, Jezebel). We filter our news through our interests now; not the other way around.

UPDATE: more citizen journalism from Belgrade — two female looters are currently featured on YouTube.

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News Hacking

Hackivists in the Czech Republic face up to three years in prison for inserting footage of a nuclear explosion into a live weather report

Six members of the Ztohoven collective, whose aims include “penetrating public space”, are to appear in court this month charged with spreading false information. The artists sent shock waves through the Czech Republic in June last year by splicing footage of the atomic explosion into a live panoramic shot of the Krkonose mountains, in north-east Bohemia.

The fake blast prompted panicked calls to the switchboard of the TV channel CT2, with some viewers fearing that a nuclear war had begun while others suggested there had been a gas explosion. The impact was compared to that of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938, in which listeners were led to believe that Martians were invading Earth. Listeners who took it to be a news broadcast panicked, and several suffered heart attacks.

Ztohoven said the aim of its project, which it called Media Reality, was not to harm, but to illustrate how the media manipulates reality. In a statement it said:

We are neither a terrorist organisation nor a political group. Our aim is not to intimidate society or manipulate it, which is something we witness on a daily basis both in the real world and that created by the media. On June 17 2007, [we] attacked the space of TV broadcasting, distorting it, questioning its truthfulness and its credibility.

The group added that they hoped their action would “remind the media of their duty to bring out the truth”.

But Martin Krafl, spokesman for the TV channel, called the hijack irresponsible. “The fake broadcast was really very inadvisable and could have provoked panic among a wide group of people,” he said.

Which brings us neatly to this article in Technology Review where veteran news reporter John Hockenberry bemoans the lack of bravery and empathy in modern news reporting. Maybe he should get in touch with the folks at Ztohoven…

Source: The Guardian.

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InfoGraffiti: Guerrilla Agitprop for the 21st Century

New collective aims to get activist media out on the streets

Activists haven’t been shy in exploiting digital and social media: witness the successes of IndyMedia‘s user-generated street news, and the burgeoning peer-to-peer video distribution community around Miro (formerly the Democracy Player). The message is clear: don’t just have a voice on the street — create content and share it for global benefit. And this message isn’t just for the hardcore: what else is Al Gore’s current.tv, if not a centre-left, normalising riff on Miro’s theme?

Politically aware citizens, armed with video cameras, open source video editing software and BitTorrenting skills, are accessing difficult places and telling important stories, independent of mainstream media agendas. But how to get that activist content out in front of a broader, less engaged audience?

Say hello to InfoGraffiti (positioning: Tell the World What They Need to Know). Coming on like current.tv after a week at the Anarchist Bookshop, InfoGraffiti aims to take activist media to the people, urban guerrilla stylee. The short version of their manifesto reads as follows:

  • InfoGraffiti is a new information distribution service intending on eventually rivaling the mainstream press; we need your help.
  • We want to distribute internet documentaries and information via a CD format that will play on good DVD players or PC’s.
  • Access to a printing press and the large costs involved is what has stopped forward thinking progressive messages from getting out before.
  • Social network and Social news site users are forward thinkers (in general) and most of them have CD burners.
  • Between us then we have the biggest printing press the world has ever seen and InfoGraffiti wants to organise it.
  • You download our ISO torrent (ISO=CD Image, Torrent=FAST method of download) burn it to CD, label it with a logo and then distribute it around our wonderful cities.
  • The CD contains all the best documenataries, virals, and information from the web, chosen by InfoGraffiti users. It works on DVD players and PC’s.
  • Place it on park benches, in lifts, in coffee shops, on bus seats and in libraries for our wonderful fellow citizens to discover.

We think they might be a bit optimistic with their planned weekly release schedule, but wish them luck. Now is probably a good time for InfoGraffiti’s distribution model: urban punters have been softened up by countless lame ‘experiential marketing’ campaigns on the streets, flogging cable TV and shampoo — when they pick up those CDs they’re going to expect trailers for Shrek IV, not Noam Chomsky’s media critique. Hopefully they’ll keep watching.

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Insurgent Media Networks

A new report offers a perspective on the media war being fought by Sunni insurgents in Iraq…

Bruce Sterling points us towards a new book-length study from RFE/RL, entited Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War Of Images And Ideas. The study offers a fascinating insight into the strengths and weaknessess of insurgent tactical media, including an evident technological and organisational sophistication — handy for production and distribution under extreme conditions:

Biographies of the best-known martyrs are sometimes lavish affairs. Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, the most famous jihadist to have died in Iraq, was the subject of a downloadable “encyclopedia” that includes not on numerous materials on the Jordanian militant’s life, but also a complete collection of his statements, essays on his beliefs and influence, and statements on the jihad in Iraq by Osama bin Laden. Formatted as a 7.7-megabyte self-contained mini-browser, the “encyclopedia” provides users with a table of contents and a convenient graphics interface.


The impressive array of products Sunni-Iraq insurgents and their supporters create suggests the existence of a veritable multimedia empire. But this impression is misleading. The insurgent media network has no identifiable brick-and-mortar presence, no headquarters, and no bureaucracy. It relies instead on a decentralized, collaborative production model that utilizes the skills of a community of like-minded individuals. (…)

The study authors conclude that:

The popularity of online Iraqi Sunni insurgent media [...] reflects a genuine demand for their message in the Arab world. A response, no matter how lavishly funded and cleverly produced, will not eliminate this demand. [...] efforts to counter insurgent media should not focus on producing better propaganda than the insurgents, or trying to eliminate the demand for the insurgent message, but rather on exploiting the vulnerabilities of the insurgent media network.

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The latest issue.

truth.jpgFriends of BST, 100proof, have just sent us the latest version of their nifty online mag. They say:

100proofTRUTH is a PDF journal, a magazine, a DVD, a website, a TV show that has grown organically out of 100proof’s work in film/tv/video, journalism, art direction, and digital/media/design.


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The Legend of LonelyGirl15

An online fiction with a life of its own.

We’ve written before, and as believers, that a future of narrative involves transmedia: the tactical use of multiple media to build and spread a many-faceted story, or to sketch a fictional world. Transmedia, at its best, promises to punch through the screen, tear up the page, and engage audiences in a fluid, immersive experience somewhere between traditional story-telling and alternate-reality gaming.

With a few notable exceptions, transmedia is as much media-geek theory object as it is template for successful fictionalising — but it’s a hot topic getting hotter by the day. This week’s case study is the story of YouTube star-in-the-making LonelyGirl15, whose transmedial existence is described in loving detail by New York magazine. Word on the Internet is that her site is set up to promote a film. Or not. Whatever. The sign’o’the times is the degree to which the fantasy has been bought into and built on by others online:

Ironically, her most prominent critic—a YouTuber named ­Gohepcat, a film-geek hipster in mirrored sunglasses and a cowboy hat—has become a mini–YouTube star in his own right. And because anyone on YouTube can post responses or theories about Lonelygirl (and plenty have), her story now has its own metastasizing, David Lynch–worthy cast: Not just Lonelygirl, Daniel, and their ­monkey puppet (don’t ask), but the ­Javert-like Mirrored Cowboy; her defender, Nerd With the Headset; a nemesis called Lazydork; and Richard Feynman. (Yes, Richard Feynman, the famous physicist. He doesn’t appear personally—it’s a long story.)

There’s always been a section of the fan community willing to dive into co-creation, but post-Reality-TV, post clip culture, everyone wants their 15 click-throughs of fame. LonelyGirl15 is just the kind of cultural attractor to encourage them on their way.

If you haven’t read Convergence Culture yet, now’s a good time to get it on order: the wave of transmedia is still gathering speed, and when it hits the mainstream, it’s going to hit hard.

[Thanks to Andrew for the tip-off].

UPDATE: The LA Times has an interview with the LonelyGirl15 film-makers. In a nutshell, like the charming ‘How to be a chav’ Film, the work is the creation of aspiring film-makers:

“We did this with zero resources. Anybody could do what we did,” Flinders said Tuesday. The sum total of the equipment they used to create a sensation on the Internet, as well as perhaps the web’s biggest homegrown mystery: “Two desk lamps (one broken), an open window and a $130 camera.”

Goodfried said Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills got involved about a month ago — well into the lonelygirl15 story — through a friend who works at the agency. “We went in there one afternoon. I walked around the place, and met some cool young guys that got the idea and said they would help us,” he said.

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$100 Laptop: Co-creation for Kids?

It’s rumoured that the ‘laptop for all’ will include a word processor that’s actually a Wiki.

An interesting snippet from the if:book blog:

[...] the word processing software being bundled into the [One Laptop Per Child Initiative's] 100-dollar laptops will all be wiki-based, putting the focus on student collaboration over mesh networks. This may not sound like such a big deal, but just take a moment to ponder the implications of having all class writing assignments being carried out [on] wikis. The different sorts of skills and attitudes that collaborating on everything might nurture. There a million things that could go wrong with the [...] project, but you can’t accuse its developers of lacking bold ideas about education.

Now there’s a thing. Its been a long time (anyone remember Smalltalk?) since we’ve really heard of any educational technology taking such a radical leap of faith. Whether the benefits of participatory co-creation outweigh its downsides is up for question on many levels. But it’s nice to see some educationalists embracing rather than censoring the tools of the zeitgeist. Continue reading

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TV licence could become PC Tax

Talk about convergence…

The BBC is proposing levying a tax on anything that can receive video – from PCs to mobile phones.According to a government green paper delivered this week, the UK government plans to retain the BBC’s licence fee for at least the next ten years but are looking ahead to a time when high speed broadband connections deliver television content to homes.

In a statement to parliament, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said that,

Like its predecessors, this review [of the BBC licence fee] has examined the Corporation’s scale and scope, its funding and governance. But this one has been unique. In the level of public consultation, and in tackling perhaps the greatest challenge the BBC has ever faced -– the changes in TV technology that will soon result in a wholly digital Britain.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s green paper on the BBC’s long term future proposed an end of the traditional licence fee and “either a compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs.”

They need to move fast: press coverage this week shows that the BBC is already concerned that people watching TV over their mobile phones may be avoiding the licence fee.

Story via The Register.

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