Citizen Media Watch

januari 9th, 2007

"The hatemongers stormed the gates"

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The local newspaper the Sun-Sentinel is facing critisism for allowing ”racist stereotypes, slurs, and sentimental references to slavery and lynchings”.
Bob Norman writes:

This summer, the newspaper began allowing readers to post unchecked comments beneath each article on its website. Almost immediately, the hatemongers stormed the gates, and they haven’t let up since.

The comments are reaction-moderated, so it takes a user to alert the moderators when racist comments occur. Though Sun-Sentinel editor Earl Maucker writes that the messageboards are constantly monitored, Bob Norman thinks otherwise. The Sentinel’s internet partner Topix.net runs similar services for a large number of sites, and are apparently not monitoring the Sentinel all that closely.
One reader said he alerted the paper to a racist comment 50 times without anything happening.

”We’re very disturbed when we see insensitive, racist and offensive messages that some feel compelled to post”, wrote Earl Maucker in his ”Ask the Editor column. He blames the anonymity of the internet, among other things.

Bob Norman things that the Sentinel should either follow the Miami Herald’s example of allowing comments to only a few stories, or put a lot more effort into monitoring the messageboard he’s got.

It’s hard to handle a good initiative gone bad, as the recent AZ starnet example shows, and perhaps it would be better for the Sentinel to start over with a fresh system, but above all to take part of what the readers are writing and to be active.


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januari 9th, 2007

Insurance company uses social media site to put together travel insurance

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Resedagboken.comresedagboken.com is a social media site for Swedish travellers around the globe, mainly backpackers. It’s run by Europeiska, an insurance company. They asked 2152 of the site members what they want from a travel insurance, and now they’ve created an insurance for backpackers, based on those demands. It will also be updated continuously when the community so desires.
According to Europeiska, backpackers have stated that they need the insurance to be cheap, cover riskful activities like mountain-climbing, diving and bungy-jumping, and to cover the journey home in case of illness.

In a press release, Europeiska’s CEO Kenneth Sandén says (my translation):

– Resdagboken gives us unique insight into the habits of Swedish travellers. We know which countries the backpacker choose to go to, how long they’re there, and what mishaps they encounter on their trips.
– Backpackers’ needs are different from the ordinary travellers’.


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januari 9th, 2007

A call for excellence in journalism

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Democracy is under threat, as ”old media” is cutting down and the discussion goes along the lines if ”excellence” is needed since it costs too much. ”New media” has yet to deliver when it comes to national and international coverage.
In a reaction against the phrase ”needless excellence”, Tom Stites has written an essay on the subject which Dan Gillmor has now posted on his blog.

It is not journalism’s role to fix our broken democracy. But it is journalism’s role to serve democracy. The First Amendment — and the spirit of Tom Paine and hosts of his successors whose work calls forth the phrase public trust — enshrine that duty, a catalytic one in a democracy. I think it’s safe to say that this role is so crucial that unless journalism can find ways to strengthen itself and rise to today’s unprecedented challenges, other efforts to fix democracy are doomed to fail.

So, in this frame, all of us – media old and new, volunteer and corporate and not-for-profit, reporters and editors and photographers and bloggers, publishers and inventors, funders and investors – need to pour skill and energy into creating more excellence.

Now this is easy to say. Envisioning ways to strengthen journalism to the point that it’s seen as fulfilling the public trust in today’s challenging world is a task so daunting as to be a serious strain to the imagination. This will require not only a wide variety of committed journalists but also new journalistic institutions deep enough in resources that they can relentlessly create excellence that no sane citizen could ever consider needless. Some of these institutions will emerge from the energetic Web-based media. Others will have to be imagined, funded, and created. To me, the most challenging question is who, other than the deeply committed citizen journalists whose reach so far is so limited, has the right motivation plus the needed resources for strengthening journalism so it can do its crucial piece to save democracy?

This is the first part in a series of four, all to appear on Gillmor’s citmedia blog.


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januari 9th, 2007

eSnips builds communities around shared files

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

At Mashable, I read about eSnips, a ”YouTube for everything” that lets you share various kinds of files (video, audio, text, photos..). The site has been around for eight months and reportedly has over a million users. What’s new is that it’s added community sites, or ”MicroPortals” for a number of subjects, some of them fairly narrow: Karaoke, DJs, Spiritual, Poetry, Paranormal…
When uploading files to eSnips, you tag your material, and if you tag it with a MicroPortal tag it ends up on that page. Users who have used the MicroPortal’s tag are also displayed.
According to StartupSquad, new MicroPortals can be started for any tag that a number of people have used – right now by request, but users will be able to do this themselves.

eSnips will provide controls to the Microportal owners to monitor and control the content going in. Users will also be able to customize and edit the appearance and background of their portal.

eSnips has a number of widgets for use in blogs, and of course you get a personal eSnips page to display what you’ve uploaded.
The site also has a marketplace where you can sell art, crafts, fashion, music and gifts.


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januari 2007
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