Posts Tagged ‘news’

Wrong: Haitians in rubbles from BBC gallery

January 13, 2010 13 comments

One picture is worth 1,000 words. The cliché says. However, BBC’s selection of pictures about Haiti earthquake seem quite inappropriate.     

BBC news site picture of Haiti earthquake


This picture has strong visual impact, isn’t it?  

Click on it or go to BBC website to see it in enlarged size. Look at it very carefully. Now tell me how you feel.  

Don’t you think that BBC is actually ‘playing’ with people’s miserable life, even if just slightly?  

The women with a dust face got her body below chest stuck in ruins, together with another two who were almost unidentifiable, one of whom had his/her head and body in red blood.  

Is it appropriate that BBC published this photo?  

Pictures in other media

BBC didn’t take this photo. It was from AFP.  

In fact, none of the 17 photos in its gallery was credited to BBC. Most of them were from AFP, several from AP and Getty Image, and one from the Red Cross.  

This explains why you can see the same images in other media such as The Times or The Telegraph.  

The Times Haiti story


The Telegraph Haiti Story


However, neither Times nor Telegraph selected that photo that BBC used. If you go through all the photos, you’ll see they are more reserved than BBC in using photos that feature seriously injured people.  

Who makes the decision?

The answer to this question is simple. It’s the editor on duty who decides which photos get published.  

However, the question might actually not so simple as it looks. Behind the simple ‘go’ or ‘down’ decision is the style, or principle of each media institution.  

BBC saw that picture, so did the Times and the Telegraph, most probably. But they made different choices.  

BBC knew well that some of its photos including the one we talked just now might offend some people, so they put up a warning on the first page saying “This gallery contains pictures some readers might find disturbing”.  

But does that justify its ‘playing with people’s miserable life’?  

I’m not a person who gets easily disturbed, but this picture really makes me feel bad about those Haitians hit by the earthquake, especially how their catastrophic lives were depicted by BBC


The Times story:G-spot is a myth

January 3, 2010 8 comments

Frontpage news on The Sunday Times: What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth. What qualities does this story have that earned itself a place on the frontpage?  

The Sunday Times Frontpage

A new research reveals that the universally believed G-spot in women’s vagina doesn’t exist at all. It’s imaginary in the first place, then reinforced by media reporting and experts’ talking. 

As you can see, this piece of news takes the lower left space, accompanied by stories of failed terror attack, public pay and MP staying above law stories on the front page. 

The G-spot myth is not the topic of this post, but its news value triggers some thinking. 

What makes news?

It’s boring to talk about ‘criteria’ without looking at real stories. So let’s see what values this G-spot story has got. 

I’ll go through the list of news values I learned from school and tick where it fits: 

  1. immediacy.
  2. conflict. √
    Some say there isn’t; some insist there is. Both sides argue in the story.
  3. proximity.√
    Except for those too young or too old, people are sort of related to the news, married or unmarried.
  4. threat to public safety.
    Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Hard to tell.
  5. public interest.
    Not this one but the next one.
  6. human interest. √
  7. entertaining. √
    Absolutely. Full stop.
  8. Big name involvement.
    This is where the journalist can improvement on the story. LoL~
  9. unusual. Half √
    It’s not usual, at least.
  10. impact. Half √ again.
    Don`t know what kind of impact there will be. Maybe positive for some, but negative for others.
  11. breaking.
  12. exclusive story.
  13. topical. √
    You want to hear about it, but you might feel shy to talk about it.
  14. scandal.
  15. juicy. √
    A lot, isn’t it?

If a story has any one of these values, it could have become news worth publishing or broadcasting.

This G-spot story has 7 out of 15. Wow, didn’t realize that before. Nearly half !

Surely it is news, and a piece of good news. I have to agree with the editor to put it on the frontpage. 

Readers decide contents

Was I joking when talking about news values just now? Maybe. 

But the interesting thing is that this story has never been published on the front page of Times Online. There is nowhere to find it no matter how deep you scroll down the page. You have to search. 


By my guess, Times Online readers don’t change much on weekends from weekdays. Almost the same group of people visit the site looking for the kinds of news they are familiar with. 

This G-spot story, as categorized on the site under ‘science’ channel, might not appeal to news readers. 

But for the print version delivered to home, people read it for relaxation. It’s weekend anyway. People need something soft, interesting, fun, surprising, or anything but serious. 

It is readers who decide what the contents should be. 

The Times did a good job in this sense, didn’t they?

PS: Do click G-spot is a myth on the Times site to see the picture they use. This is a good example where pictures say more than words.

E-reading ushers into a new generation

December 17, 2009 1 comment

An innovative platform for the next generation of E-magazines was revealed recently. If reading on screen is no longer different from, or even better than reading on paper, does it mean the end of paper era?

This platform is jointly developed by five newspaper and magazine publishers including Times Inc. and the News Corporation.

It is supposed to set up the standard for the industry. No name of the platform or the equipment is given. How much they have invested is not known either.

The companies will sell the new electronic versions of their contents through an online store like iTunes.

Features demonstrated in the video released by Times Inc. are just some of the sophistications of this new platform.

E-reading won’t kill paper reading

The media conveying messages have changed dramatically throughout the history: from stones to bamboos, from parchment to papyrus, and now from paper to electronic screens, such as Kindle of Amazon.

No medium has incurred so many controversies as the latest development of electronic screens. To many, this is brand new experience.

The benefits one could possible get from e-reading include:

  • enormous materials in one “book”, the e-reader
  • visual and audio entertaining compared with black-and-white of most books
  • interactive with authors, writers, publishers, and even advertisers
  • cheaper content, hopefully, at least after wide application of such an e-reader
  • real-time multi-user sharing, with the incorporation of Internet access in the future

Younger generations have already accustomed to reading online. They would be more than happy to embrace a portable screen.

However, book lovers might stick to their old habit. You can touch the screen to read the next page, but you’ll lose the pleasure of actually feeling the books: its weight, its texture, its papers, etc.

Besides, your eyes might easily get tired after long-time reading on a screen. You will also not be able to send a good book as a gift.

Therefore, e-reading won’t take the place of paper reading, at least in the foreseeable future.

BBC College of Journalism website launched

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

BBC launched its College of Journalism website on 14 December. From staff journalists to part-time journalists, an era of pan-journalists has finally come.


BBC CoJo Snapshot

The website, also called CoJo, was created three years ago, but its access has been limited to BBC staffs until this Monday. Now, all people in the UK can visit the site.

As CoJo first director Vin Ray says, CoJo is to “design and deliver training and learning for BBC journalists in the UK and around the world.”

However, CoJo is not just for BBC journalists. It suits everyone who is interested in telling their own stories in a journalistic manner.

Why go public?

Martin Moore, Director of The Media Standards Trust, explained the importance of the launch of CoJo website.

CoJo teaches the public about principle of journalism. To put in a way that the general public can better understand, it is about trust, trust in what you publish on the web: bbs, blogs, facebook, youtube, among others.

Working journalists or student journalists who are already familiar with these principles can reflect on their practice using guidance provided by CoJo, nevertheless, they may find the skills part more useful.

For the general public who contributed a big part to the avalanche of information over Internet, CoJo website offers the most substantial online sources for journalistic practice.

What comes next?

Everybody can tell a story. The development of technology has substantially diversified the ways of telling a story.

Many years ago, it was the job of an extremely limited group of people who were called journalists.

The wide application of Internet created hundreds of millions of bloggers. Sometimes it is hard to tell the differences between bloggers and journalists.

Nowadays, anyone who can write, speak or film can be an amateur journalist. They can write blogs, post pictures, upload podcasts, or publish video clips.

Some of their stores were indeed used by the mainstream media.

For journalists, it might be the worst of time as they will be competing with all people to get their stories published or aired; but for the public, it might be the best of times.

Gillette limits Tiger Woods’ role in marketing

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment
Gillette said it would distance itself from Tiger Woods after the golfer admitted cheating on her wife. The same day Accenture ended their sponsor for Woods.

The Procter & Gamble razor company said they would limit Woods’ role in its marketing to “help protect his privacy”.

Several other major sponsors including Accenture have already taken down Tiger Woods’ name from their websites. Sponsorship contracts are terminated.

It is estimated that Mr. Woods will lose more than £66 million of advertising income over a year after his sponsors dropped him.

Gillette didn’t say they would terminate Mr. Woods’ contract; instead, they would just limit his role in marketing.

Gillette Vs. Accenture in news sense

Gillette’s Woods story was published on the front page of Telegraph. On the same day, Accenture dropped the golfer from their sponsor list, but this was only published in the Sports channel.

From news angle, Accenture could have been more news worthy than Gillette. There are at least three reasons:

  • Accenture was the second largest sponsor of Tiger Woods;
  • They terminated contract with Tiger Woods while Gillette just limited the golfer’s role;
  • The public may want to know what happens next after Accenture terminated contract with Tiger Woods.

However, Gillette’s story was published on front page.

Smart Gillette

If you look at the two stories, there were not much differences. Both talked about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs, estimated losses he might suffer from losing sponsor, and the stance of major companies who sponsored him.

Gillette did a better PR job than Accenture.

Since it made onto the front page, I even doubt that it was actually an advertorial article.

One proof could be that there were no byline for both stories. No author was accredited, not even “Telegraph staff” as they did in “Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2: match report” story.

Morally acceptable?

If the story was indeed an advertorial article, should Gillette be morally blamed for adding salt on other’s wound?

Or, they might just argue that business is business. I pay you, so I expect publicity for our brand from you.

Gillette was very carefull about the bottom line that they do not offend the public, especially Tiger Woods’ fans by playing on the hero’s scandal. That’s why they choose to “limit his role” instead of dropping him from their sponsor list.

But who knows whether or when they will abandon the golfer after his last PR contribution to the company?

Hope and fear, the world of Murielle

November 30, 2009 3 comments

A Chilean girl dreamt of becoming a poet grew up as a journalist who went undercover to reveal a gang of pimps in Concepcion, the second largest city in Chili. She almost got herself raped. “I try to keep fears to myself; I won’t do things like this again,” said Murielle Gonzalez Oisel.

After 8 years as a Chilean magazine journalist, Murielle is now studying in London for a master degree of Journalism. She is proud of herself having the guts to come to a foreign country where everything is new to her.

“My biggest fear is failing the course and not getting my diploma,” she said. But the same woman has the courage to fight against crimes.

A fearless warrior

In 2007, Murielle worked on a story about a pimp gang recruiting countryside girls to work as prostitutes in Concepcion. She went undercover for three weeks and successfully published her investigation in NOS magazine she worked for.

“I got myself into trouble, and the situation was so dangerous,” the fear at that very moment seemed to strike her again before she continued, “I won’t do things like this unless there are more protection measures.”

Despite the great courage she demonstrated in work, Murielle said she didn’t like challenges in general.

A strong woman

She was a distinguished student and everything worked fine for her, but she somehow got lost after she left college and started her career.

“I used to live in a bubble when I was a student, but the real world is quite different,” Murielle said, “I made many stupid mistakes, and I was afraid sometimes.”

She is not the kind of person who talks to people about her problems. “I put fears inside myself, and I want to be strong outside, now matter how fearful I am,” said Murielle.

Hope and fear

But she used to have somebody to talk to.

“When I was afraid, I used to talk to my mom, but she died in 2001,” she looked up for a moment to keep tears from dropping.

“Now I can talk to my boyfriend. He is willing to do everything for me, even giving up his well-paid job in London and move to Chili with me, if I can’t find a job here after graduation,” Murielle smiled.

Hope and fear. This is the world in Murielle’s eyes. This is also why she likes this verse in Whiteman’s poem: “Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done.”

Sociology of news for semester 2 and online magazine for final project

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Two days later, it will be deadline for selection of modules in semester 2 and final project.

So far, I have only decided one module, Online Jounalism. I’m thinking about replacing my other choice of Politicial Communication with Sociology of News.

As for the final project, I prefer working on an online magazine or writting a dissertation, because both allow me to control my own schedule.

Radio final project and TV final project might be interesting as well, but I’ll have to follow others’ steps, e.g. the interviewees or the person I’ll be filming.  

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