Katy Perry

How Katy Perry, Elvis and Springsteen can change the meaning of your video

It seems that everywhere I turned online this weekend, somebody was flying a quadcopter with a camera through fireworks.

Leaving the wisdom of doing that out of this posting, I wanted to play with how music and special effects would affect the viewer’s experience with a fireworks video shot via drone and published in May. In the original, a classical score and slow drifting shots add drama and elegance to the piece.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Mideast Iraq

ISIS poses serious threat to journalists

When an armed insurgency intensified its campaign across Iraq in recent weeks, journalists quickly began trickling into the conflict zone — despite the fact that the country is the most dangerous place in the world for them.

ISIS fighters parade in Mosul, Iraq, Monday. (AP Photo)

ISIS fighters parade in Mosul, Iraq, Monday. (AP Photo)

More journalists have been killed in Iraq than any other country in the world, according to data published by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since 1992, 248 media workers have lost their lives in the country, nearly double the amount in the second most dangerous country, the Philippines.

The majority of the deaths occurred during the Iraq War, which was the deadliest conflict for journalists on record. The war claimed the lives of 150 journalists, 85 percent of whom were locals.

Because they have an intimate knowledge of the area, locals often report from the most dangerous areas, said Jason Stern, a Middle East and North Africa Research Associate for the Committee to Protect Journalists. And because they don’t usually have the security measures afforded by the institutional backing of large western media organizations, they run the highest risk of being killed.

“Even though international journalists get the most attention in the media, it’s the local journalists who bear the most risk in any country,” Stern said.

The danger for reporters covering the recent uprising is compounded by the nature of the insurgents themselves, Stern said. Agents of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, the sectarian group spearheading the incursion, have no qualms killing reporters, he said.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the death of several journalists within the last year. One local reporter was killed and another was injured June 16 while covering military operations in the Diyala province in eastern Iraq. In December, ISIS agents killed five journalists in a raid on a TV station north of Baghdad.

And people who kill journalists in Iraq enjoy complete impunity, according to data gathered by the Committee to Protect Journalists. This serves to embolden the assailants and make future killings more likely, Stern said.

“There hasn’t been a single prosecution,” he said.

View Poynter’s interactive map of journalists killed throughout the world

Related: After shuttering bureaus, news organizations revisit Iraq Read more

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Supreme Court TV On the Internet

Broadcasters: Aereo decision was not an attack on innovation

Update at 1:40 p.m.: Stock prices for Scripps, Gannett and Meredith were up between one and two percent after the decision. Sinclair, the biggest owner of local stations in the country, saw its stock shoot up a breathtaking 12.88 percent on the news.

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The U.S. Supreme Court handed broadcast networks and local stations a victory by ruling that Aereo cannot take TV signals and send them to phones, tablets and other platforms without paying for the rights.

The networks told the court that if Aereo was allowed to lease its antennas to users without compensation, cable companies would quickly do the same, which could cost broadcasters billions of dollars.

Journalists outside the Supreme Court during arguments in the Aereo case this past April.  (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Journalists outside the Supreme Court during arguments in the Aereo case this past April. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)


The Court had to dance around a few issues including how the federal copyright laws cover cloud computing. Aereo argued that if it could not lease its antennas then maybe all cloud computing could be in peril. Aereo raised the question about whether any cloud storage system could be held accountable for whether the user had the right to store whatever they were storing.

But the Court flatly refused to get drawn into that territory, saying it would consider those kinds of issues when they are the real focus of a case at hand.

In the majority opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court said Aereo is for all practical purposes identical to a cable system:

Because Aereo’s activities are substantially similar to those of the CATV companies that Congress amended the Act to reach, Aereo is not simply an equipment provider. Aereo sells a service that allows subscribers to watch television programs, many of which are copyrighted, virtually as they are being broadcast. Aereo uses its own equipment, housed in a centralized warehouse, outside of its users’ homes. By means of its technology, Aereo’s system “receive[s] programs that have been released to the public and carr[ies] them by private channels to additional viewers.”

The opinion said the Court does not believe this decision will harm future technology development. In writing the opinion, Justice Breyer said:

We cannot now answer more precisely how the Transmit Clause or other provisions of the Copyright Act will apply to technologies not before us. We agree with the Solicitor General that “[q]uestions involving cloud computing, [remote storage] DVRs, and other novel issues not before the Court, as to which ‘Congress has not plainly marked [the] course,’ should await a case in which they are squarely presented.

In a statement, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia vowed to “continue to fight for our consumers.” The statement also said it was “troubling that the Court states in its decision that, ‘to the extent commercial actors or other interested entities may be concerned with the relationship between the development and use of such technologies and the Copyright Act, they are of course free to seek action from Congress.’ … That begs the question: Are we moving towards a permission-based system for technology innovation?”

The National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith said, “NAB is pleased the Supreme Court has upheld the concept of copyright protection that is enshrined in the Constitution by standing with free and local television. Aereo characterized our lawsuit as an attack on innovation; that claim is demonstrably false. Broadcasters embrace innovation every day, as evidenced by our leadership in HDTV, social media, mobile apps, user-generated content, along with network TV backed ventures like Hulu.”

The NAB statement continues, “Television broadcasters will always welcome partnerships with companies who respect copyright law. Today’s decision sends an unmistakable message that businesses built on the theft of copyrighted material will not be tolerated.” Read more

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Takeaways from the Al Jazeera Forum

While journalists in the United States have to worry about Tweeting out misinformation, journalists in the Arab world have to worry about their Tweets getting them thrown into jail.

At Al Jazeera’s Eighth Annual Forum in Doha, Qatar last month, 700 media and political leaders gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the media. Meanwhile, the trial of three Al Jazeera journalists, who have since been sentenced to serve jail time in Egypt came up frequently in the conversations.

A display at the entrance of the Al Jazeera Arabic newsroom features staff members showing their support for three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Aereo ruling expected soon: Get prepared

UPDATE: The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that the signals from other networks captured by Aereo, Inc. are protected under by the transmit clause of the Copyright Act of 1976, and thus constitutes a performance of the petitioner’s works publicly. Here’s Poynter’s story on the decision.

The legal case is called American Broadcasting Companies Inc. V. Aereo, Inc. The stakes are hard to overstate.

Broadcasters say the very future of commercial broadcasting hangs in the balance of a Supreme Court ruling that could come Wednesday, Thursday or next Monday. The Big Four networks all want to stop Aereo from being able to capture their free over-the-air signals and then make the signals available to people who want to watch on mobile devices. Aereo offers to store up to 60 hours of content for $8-$12 a month. You choose what you want stored, you can watch it anytime, similar to a DVR.

Why wouldn’t the networks want Aereo to help more people to watch their programs on phones, tablets and computers?

Because Aereo would snag the signals from the air, store the data or send it along and charge for doing so, while Aereo pays broadcasters nothing for the signals it is capturing and sending along. Cable companies used to do nearly exactly the same thing, but now pay three billion dollars in licensing fees to stations, networks and other license holders, like the National Football League. If the Supreme Court says Aereo can do what it wants, there would be nothing to stop cable companies from doing the same thing.

Aereo says it is not selling content, it is leasing technology. In effect, it says, users lease a tiny antenna and pull in the signal. Aereo says it simply is providing technology, not programming.

The Supreme Court decision is likely to focus on how the 1976 Copyright Act (PDF) speaks to this issue. That Act protects a copyright holder from somebody “performing” a protected work. What is “performing?” This is what the Acts says:

[t]o perform … ‘publicly’ includes, among other things, ‘to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work … to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.”

Aereo says it is not performing. Aereo wants the Justices to believe that it is merely a company that owns millions of tiny antennas that customers control, unlike cable companies who take in signals and pass them along through their infrastructures. Aereo does not provide programming like cable companies.

Lower Courts have agreed. Aereo adds that broadcasters are using the public airwaves for free and that is their compensation.

A Cloud over “The Cloud”

When the Court heard the case a ticklish question arose over whether “the cloud” would be affected by a negative decision against Aereo. For example, if the Court ruled that Aereo could not pass along digital signals, how would that affect services like Dropbox that become cloud lockers for data that could be and often is copyrighted? Would anybody that makes money storing or passing along copyrighted material have to pay a fee? The difference, said the lawyers who were fighting Aereo, is that the files that storage clouds are holding were acquired legally, downloaded through iTunes, for example.

Look for whatever the Court rules to speak directly to this question. Much has been written about how a ruling will affect broadcasters, but this “cloud” question may have implications that are just as important.

What Happens if Aereo Wins?

As I reported in April, networks have said if they lose the case, they might just take their programs and turn them into pay services. The implications of that would be devastating for local TV stations whose value is woven deeply into their network affiliation. While this seems highly unlikely, it is not impossible, given the amount of money that could be in play here. A pro-Aereo decision would send broadcast media stocks plummeting.

Cable companies could lose big too. Recent polling shows half of Americans would dump their cable service if they could. Aereo might enable that.

If they lose the decision, networks and affiliates could run to Congress to side with them and just change the copyright laws.

What if Aereo Loses?

The company says for all practical purposes it would be out of business.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

IMG_8422

Fact-checkers plan international organization

The Poynter Institute’s Global Fact-Checking Summit concluded Tuesday with participants voting to start an international association.

The group will build on the progress of the London summit to connect fact-checkers and convene future meetings, said Bill Adair, creator of PolitiFact and the summit’s organizer.

“The meeting showed there is a passionate community of fact-checkers that is growing around the world,” said Adair, a professor at Duke University and an adjunct faculty member at Poynter. “The association will keep the fact-checkers in touch with each other and help them learn from each other.”

Look out, untruths!

“We’re excited about the possibility of The Poynter Institute being the home of the international fact-checking organization, and producing a website that showcases members’ best work and impact on democracies” Poynter President Tim Franklin said. “We’ll now be seeking foundation funding for this important effort.”

Attendees at the summit expressed their support and were eager to start sharing information.

Ukrainian fact-checker Margo Gontar said that before she attended the summit, she thought she was alone in the industry. She did not realize how many journalists are dedicated to the practice of fact-checking, she said.

“It is like I found an umbrella,” said Gontar. “Even if it doesn’t rain, I now know I have support from fact-checkers all over the world. I have people to lean on.”

PolitiFact Editor Angie Holan said an association would be helpful to organize more in-person meetings among fact-checkers. The conversations she had with colleagues during the summit were critical to understanding international efforts, she said.

One hope for the association is that it will create a platform to collect anecdotes of impact, said Adair.

It is difficult to measure the overarching impact of fact-checking, said Jane Elizabeth, Fact-Checking Project Manager at the American Press Institute. The best way to gauge influence is when politicians, media pundits or readers cite a fact-check.

For instance, a politician in Georgia posted an apology on his Facebook page for delivering misinformation and included the GRASS Fact Check link that revealed the false statement.

An Italian site called Pagella Politica presents its fact-checks on a weekly television news segment in addition to regular reporting on its site. The spot reaches about one million viewers.

The Poynter association will create a platform where these examples can be shared, and where fact-checkers can continue the conversations they had at the summit.

During a session on funding and sustainability — a key component to increasing fact-checking globally — attendees shared their funding methods and asked questions about donors.

“We are all furiously taking this down,” said Alexios Mantzarlis from Pagella Politica, laughing while participants scribbled notes.

A common disagreement between fact-checkers is whether sites should use a rating system, such as PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter.

Will Moy, Director of British site Full Fact, said “we live in a gray world” that is too complex to simply rate claims as True or False.

“There is something inherently dodgy about a rating system,” said Moy.

Adair disagreed. He said rating systems respected the reader’s time and served to summarize in-depth journalism.

For others, like Peter Cunliffe-Jones of Africa Check, the jury is still out. Cunliffe-Jones said he wants to assign a rating but is hesitant to use terms like True and False.

This is a conversation that is sure to be continued after the summit, said Adair.

Related: At fact-checking summit, ‘We hope courage is contagious’ (Poynter) | 8 tips for fact-checking from PolitiFact (journalism.co.uk) Read more

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Monday, June 09, 2014

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At fact-checking summit, ‘We hope courage is contagious’

The stakes are high for fact-checkers in India, Govindraj Ethiraj from FactChecker.in said at Poynter’s Global Fact-Checking Summit in London Monday. Ethiraj risks his safety and credibility in order to fact-check politicians: “We do one thing wrong and our office will be burned up,” he said.

Summit attendees Monday.

Fact-checking is not always easy or safe, speakers said.

Macedonian fact-checker Bardhyl Jashari said, “We hope courage is contagious.” That’s why we fact-check, he said.

“Manufacturing of truth has become a multimillion dollar industry,” Tampa Bay Times Editor Neil Brown said in a keynote address. “This is where we come in to provide independent analysis.”

Brown.

Fact-checkers are “fighting difficult circumstances and bringing creativity to try to build this candid world,” Brown said.

The conference’s primary goal is to create a community among fact-checkers, said PolitiFact founder Bill Adair, who organized the summit, held at the London School of Economics.

Participants came from 6 continents and 21 countries, including South Africa, Ukraine, Serbia, Italy, Argentina and Australia. Adair encouraged fact-checkers to use their common passion to improve their techniques, share successful practices and learn from colleagues.

Only four of fact-checking sites that had representatives at the summit existed prior to 2010, said Lucas Graves, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin who has researched fact-checking.

The Internet has provided a platform for fact-checkers “that is more powerful than any politician’s microphone or any military leader’s weapon,” noted Tim Franklin, president of the Poynter Institute. “It is changing our societies right before our eyes.”

This trend is important because the world needs more clarions of fact-based truth, Franklin said.

And in turn, fact-checking operations need help from readers. Laura Zommer, founder of Chequeado in Argentina, explained a crowdsourcing platform she created called Dato Chequeado. Readers actively contribute to a database of sources that helps expose inaccuracies in political statements.

Similarly, FactCheckEU invites readers to submit their own fact checks, which undergo an editorial process and are posted on the site.

Zommer, left.

Further topics at the summit, which continues tomorrow, will include sustainability, the use of social media and tracking campaign promises. Read more

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Friday, June 06, 2014

riveter-small

The Riveter celebrates its second print issue with more longform journalism by women

Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz have spent the past year helping to change the ratio of women to men in longform journalism.

Today, they’re publishing the second print issue of The Riveter, the magazine they created last year to highlight longform and narrative journalism written by women.

“Our first print issue came out almost a year ago, and since then we’ve built up a dynamic staff of editors and big-picture thinkers who have helped us secure a reliable online voice,” Demkiewicz said via email. “In producing weekly online content, we have broadened our audience and are able to prove that we ebb and flow with the surrounding media and culture.”

TheRiveter3

Joanna Demkiewicz (left) and Kaylen Ralph.

As part of The Riveter’s growth, Demkiewicz and Ralph have added new departments to diversify the magazine’s content, including one called “Longform as Lifestyle” and another called “Bedstand.”

“One new department speaks to our mission to promote longform as a lifestyle element on par with music, fashion, beauty, health, etc.,” Demkiewicz said.

“Longform as Lifestyle allows us to pair seemingly mundane lifestyle elements with really great texts. In Issue 02, Mary-Louise Parker pairs three drinks with three Sharon Olds poems. Bedstand is a new department that allows us to get nosy and step into the bedrooms of our favorite journalists. In Issue 02, we find out what Jonathan Gibbs and Matt Jakubowski, the two journalists who inspired Joanna Walsh’s #readwomen2014 campaign, are reading right before falling asleep.”

The Riveter regularly features innovative women who have spearheaded a variety of media projects, including Alana Levinson of the online culture magazine “Stevie Zine”Misan Sagay of the film “Belle”; and Sarah Nicole Prickett and Berkely Poole of “Adult Magazine.”

In the second issue out today, “each story approaches and analyzes an issue often ignored in mainstream media,” Demkiewicz said. “Chicago Reporter photojournalist Sophia Nahli Allison reimagines ‘black life’ in her photo essay, ‘Redefining What We See.’ ESPN cricket correspondent Firdose Moonda offers a historical narrative about the Africanization of Johannesburg’s inner city and does not shy away from the xenophobia her country displayed after becoming a democracy. We’ve also got an exploratory science narrative on schizophrenia and a cultural critique on the way films portrays families of transgendered characters.”

The Riveter is one solution to a problem that the media industry has faced for quite some time: the lack of female voices in literary and journalistic publications. A recent study found that female bylines accounted for only one-third of New York Times bylines during the last quarter of 2013. VIDA’s annual look at gender diversity further outlines the disparity. The latest VIDA count found that in 2013:

  • The New Republic had 81 female bylines, compared to 235 male bylines.
  • The Atlantic had 61 female bylines, compared to 113 male bylines.
  • The New Yorker had 176 female bylines, compared to 436 male bylines.

Figures like these have reminded Ralph and Demkiewicz of the need to create an opportunity for change. Ralph alluded to this need in a piece I wrote about her and Demkiewicz last year:

“We are both longform junkies, because we believe in the breadth of creativity, narrative, investigation, research, etc. allowed with this particular kind of storytelling,” she said at the time. “The fact that the VIDA numbers show most longform authors were men in 2012 (and in 2011 and 2010) proves a disconnect when we imagine the capabilities of women as storytellers. Longform is a vital form of communication; we want to make room for the female storytellers who communicate this way.”

The latest issue of The Riveter is available for purchase through the magazine’s online store.

Mallary Tenore is the managing director of Images & Voices of Hope (ivoh), a nonprofit that strengthens the media’s role as an agent of positive change. She’s the former managing director of Poynter.org.  Read more

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Chinese police officers, paramilitary policemen and plainclothes security personnel prepare to clear Tiananmen Square ahead of an official ceremony in Beijing, China, on May 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

On eve of Tiananmen anniversary, early optimism pushed aside by press, speech crackdown

Chinese police officers, paramilitary policemen and plainclothes security personnel prepare to clear Tiananmen Square ahead of an official ceremony in Beijing, China, on May 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Two years ago in China, during the run-up to the Communist Party’s ritual changing of the guard, there was a heady mood of expectation that the country’s new top leaders might revive long-stalled political reform and maybe, just maybe, reopen the history books on one topic considered taboo: the June 4, 1989 massacre of hundreds of unarmed pro-democracy students in the streets around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The reasons for the early optimism were sound enough.

Xi Jinping, the incoming president, and Li Keqiang, who would become prime minister, were new generation leaders. Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary hero, was widely believed to have opposed the Tiananmen crackdown. Li Keqiang was a student leader at Peking University during the 1989 protests, and he is known to have kept up ties to some of the old student activists. And besides, the events known as the “6/4 incident” were already more than two decades in the rearview mirror, and China had grown rich and powerful under the Communist Party’s continued tutelage.

Now, on the 25th anniversary of that brutal crackdown, those early hopes have given way to a harsher reality. The government under Xi and Li is cracking down on any Tiananmen Square commemorations with an intensity unseen in recent years — and journalists and bloggers have been especially targeted.

This year, even people holding small private commemorations away from public view have been rounded up and jailed. That was what happened to Beijing Film Academy Professor Hao Jian and others after Hao hosted a small group at his home in early May to discuss, in privacy, the 1989 crackdown.  The group had held a similar private event five years earlier for the 20th anniversary and suffered no consequences for it.

The arrest of Hao and several others was detailed in a moving New York Times op-ed by the novelist and blogger Murong Xuecun, who in the essay pledged to return to China from Australia to be arrested too, as his “contribution to resisting government efforts to erase the nation’s memory.”

The same thing happened to the performance artist Chen Guang — formerly one of the martial law soldiers sent to Tiananmen Square in 1989 to suppress the student movement. Last April, Chen invited a dozen friends to an empty building outside of Beijing to watch a set piece that included him wearing a mask over his mouth, and a wall whitewashed of dates like “1989.”  He was arrested May 7.

“The seminar in Beijing was in Hao Jian’s own flat,” said Louisa Lim, an NPR correspondent who was based in Beijing and Shanghai, and is the author of the new book “The People’s Republic of Amnesia; Tiananmen Revisited,” about the Communist Party’s efforts to erase the memory of Tiananmen Square. In an interview, she said Cheng Guang’s performance art, like Hao’s gathering, “was in a private space.”

“The crackdown is more intense,” Lim said in an interview. “This year it started very early.  There are a lot more measures being taken.”

At least 50 people have been detained in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, according to a recent roundup of arrests compiled by the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Those arrested include blogger Liu Wei, who was picked up May 17 in Beijing, forcibly sent back to his home of Chongqing and charged with “creating a disturbance” for a seemingly innocuous act: posing for photos with fingers in a “V” sign and a stiff-armed salute at Tiananmen Square.

Human rights lawyers, academics and journalists have all been detained, including veteran reporter Gao Yu, 70, who was one of the first people arrested at the start of the 1989 crackdown. And in another ominous development for foreign reporters working in China, the Japanese financial newspaper Nihon Keizai reported that its Chinese news assistant in Chongqing was taken away from her home and detained on May 13.

The arrests have been accompanied by the requisite Internet clampdown, as the authorities try to block out searches and postings related to the anniversary. Searches for terms like “Tiananmen Square massacre” and “6/4 incident” have routinely been blocked in China. But this year the number of banned phrases has expanded, and now includes variations of “25,” plus words “square,” “mourn” and the phrase “when spring becomes summer.”

And on May 27, China’s state media reported of a new month-long clampdown on the widely popular mobile messaging application WeChat — which allows users to send text and voice messages to small closed circles and which has become an alternative news source as the government has increasingly targeted Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

But the massive effort at online suppression has been hard-pressed to keep up with China’s growing army of Netizens — now some 600 million strong — and their clever ways of bypassing the censorship with word-plays, double-entendres and phrases with hidden meanings. And that leads to the larger question: can China’s Communist rulers successfully suppress all memory and mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre in the rapid-fire information age of social media?

“The answer is, yes, they have been successful — but they can’t stop it all,” said Dan Southerland, who was the Beijing correspondent for The Washington Post from 1985-1990 and is now the executive editor of Radio Free Asia based in Washington.

Louisa Lim agreed. “The crackdown is clearly much worse than in any previous year,” she said.  “But there is a lot more happening on social media.”  She added, “The question is if they see social media slipping beyond their grip.”

Lim added that, like the title of her book makes clear, “The government has been remarkably successful at enforcing amnesia.” But she added, “It’s something the people have colluded in, because the cost of remembering is too high.”

The current Tiananmen-related crackdown is the clearest sign yet, if any more were needed, that China’s new leadership is making political stability and control its top priority.  And that marks a near-complete reversal from just two years ago, when many foreign journalists, including myself — as the Beijing correspondent for The Washington Post — were reporting on the cautiously optimistic mood of many Chinese that Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang might begin to usher in a tiny bit more openness.

Li Datong, a veteran journalist who was fired as editor of a China Youth Daily supplement for daring to push against official censorship, told me in a 2012 meeting just before the new leaders took over that he had high expectations.  “I feel both Xi and Li realize there’s no way to solve the problems if they don’t start reforms,” he told me. The two men, he said, were China’s “Third Generation” leaders. “They represent the 1980s, when China reopened its doors to the world. They lived through the enlightenment of the 1980s.”

“I hope they bring us some surprises,” he said.

That view was widespread. Yang Baikui, who knew Li at Peking University and who later spent 11 months in jail and was expelled from the Communist Party for his part in the 1989 student protests, met me over coffee in the hutongs near the Forbidden City. He told me he was confident that the new leaders would not only revive political reforms, but would also reopen the long-closed book on the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“I feel it will happen,” Yang said then. “I’m very confident in Li Keqiang and Xi Jinping. I believe the problem of June 4 will start to be reviewed in one or two years.”

That optimism soon came to naught. With Xi in full control, China has launched a widespread clampdown on the Internet, which had emerged in recent years as a free-wheeling public speech platform.

Southerland, the former Post correspondent, said the optimism before Xi and Li’s elevation was similar to the high hopes for reforms when Hu Jintao took power in late 2002 — hopes that were dashed by 2004. “I think we sometimes focus too much on individual leaders and not enough on the system that limits what they can do even if they want to make major changes,” Southerland said.

Lim agreed. “There was, I don’t know if you’d call it an expectation, but perhaps kind of groundless optimism,” she said. “I think Xi Jinping turned out to be a different kind of leader than people hoped for — especially those people who were looking for a reevaluation of Tiananmen Square.”

Lim said she took extreme measures to write her book on the Tiananmen Square massacre while still working in Beijing as an NPR correspondent, including writing on a brand new “clean” laptop that she locked in a safe at night.

“I was sweating the whole time I was there,” she said. “I was concerned I would be detained or arrested. It made me realize what a taboo Tiananmen still is.”

Keith Richburg is finishing a semester as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. He was The Washington Post’s China correspondent from late 2009 until 2013, and previously was the Post’s bureau chief in Paris, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Nairobi and Manila as well as New York City. He has won numerous awards, including two George Polk Awards, and he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of “Out Of America; A Black Man Confronts Africa,” and is now working on his next book idea. Read more

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Yumi Wilson

Spreading the gospel of LinkedIn for Journalists

The classroom at the City University of New York sat attentively watching the browser on the large screen point to LinkedIn. Everyone in the room was familiar with the social network, but they were journalists and had come to see how they could use it for their own specific purposes.

Yumi Wilson

While explaining how the audience could use LinkedIn, Corporate Communications Manager Yumi Wilson was also ushering them through a social media door, one she has unlocked for journalists in person or through online webinars over the past several months.

It’s all part of an expansion strategy for LinkedIn, which has seen membership grow exponentially from 32 million members in 2008 to 300 million in 2014. One part of that strategy is inviting journalists into a group called LinkedIn for Journalists, which boasts more than 55,000 members. Wilson said she wants journalists to use LinkedIn as a tool for research, as well as one for connecting with others and conducting job searches. She reaches out and spreads the gospel of LinkedIn wherever she finds people in the news business.

“I think when you’re growing communities you have to be proactive,” said Wilson, who was an associate professor at San Francisco State University when she first became involved with LinkedIn. She started working for the network full time in September 2013. “I reach out to people who might not be using LinkedIn for Journalists, or not using the platform. I use our LinkedIn search tool to find journalists at various newspapers who haven’t been using it.”

As part of her outreach, Wilson draws about 200 people into her monthly webinars. During the sessions, she gives tips on improving social media profiles on LinkedIn, using it for searches, and exposing profiles to others who may be searching for the journalists. When they are done with the training, the journalists receive premium memberships for a year, which gives them access to advanced features available on LinkedIn.

Although Wilson’s evangelism has much to do with the popularity of LinkedIn for Journalists, its significant following also comes from users spreading the word amongst each other.

“My webinars are normally full; the next available one is in July and that is the result of people finding out about it through word of mouth,” said Wilson.

She says the journalists who become a part of the community have turned it not only into a one-stop shop for researching stories and sources, but for discussing media news as well.

“I find as a moderator discussions about the industry are most popular. But let’s say a fellowship has been announced, you can also announce it here. Some may share a job within the group, others may share information about the tutorials.”

When users engage LinkedIn’s advanced search tools, they can carry out investigations of people and companies that may otherwise have taken days. This is because people and companies create profiles that they want people to see and they post them to connect with others.

In Wilson’s view, social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter will increasingly serve as a reporting tool, and as similar websites launch, that use will only continue.

“Journalists are going to Twitter to stay on top of the news, they go to Facebook to find regular voices, and LinkedIn is where you connect with experts to speak on their fields. As new platforms come out, we’re going to see more of that,” she said.

Cher Jones, a social media trainer and head of the Toronto-based firm Socially Active, has been watching LinkedIn’s progress and believes that it has evolved into an important tool for those in news.

“Immediately what you’re finding, especially for journalists who have a credible profile, is that they can leverage that with whomever they are trying to connect with, and that is a big deal, particularly when you’re doing an investigative piece,” said Jones. “On the professional career growth side, LinkedIn is a living, breathing CV of your past successes. It’s different than a resume, because if you’re actively seeking recommendations where people are talking about your work ethic, people are recognizing how important that is in getting interviews or insider information.”

Wilson said she plans to continue to travel to journalism conferences and newsrooms, introducing the platform to as many people in the news business as she can. She believes that it will become as essential a tool for reporters in newsgathering as it is for job recruiters filling positions.

But she warns that social networks should not replace tried-and-true methods of reporting.

“What I’ve learned is that nothing replaces the face-to-face meeting,” she said. For a job or story, you still want to meet that hiring manager or source. What social media helps to do is make reaching out to people a bit easier.

Wilson can be reached at ywilson@linkedin.com or find her on LinkedIn.


Madison Gray is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based multimedia journalist specializing in urban issues and criminal justice. The Detroit native has written for TIME.com, the Associated Press, and the Detroit News, among many others. Follow him on Twitter @madisonjgray.

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