Citizen Media Watch

april 13th, 2009

Citizen Media Watch teaching at Fojo – Project Belarus

Posted by Gitta Wilen

Gitta at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus

During Januari and Februari this year, I did some teaching at Fojo, the Institute for Further Education of Journalists. I talked about online journalism and how to make good SEO for an article, at the web journalist seminar for Belarusian journalists and students from the University of journalism in Minsk. Some weeks later I managed the web design seminar for Belarusian independent media.

When teaching at the Project Belarus I met journalists working under different economical and technical conditions. Independent media are more depending on Internet especially if their necessary ration of paper for printing the newspaper is drawn back – for some reason.

But since the broadband is not always that broad and the freedom of speech comes with a price, the online solution is not always an affordable option as it would be in Europe.

CMW teaching at Fojo, Kalmar – Project Belarus
Each course was five days long with a follow up, a couple of weeks later in Minsk/Vilnius. I managed the web design course, Jonas Söderström, inUse, is managing the other four.

Fojo is aiming for:

  • To build up a high quality of journalism characterized by professionalism, integrity and interaction with the audience.
  • To enhance the capacity of media to report on important national issues such as poverty alleviation, the fight against corruption, grassroots democracy and civil rights perspectives.
  • To promote openness and democracy of media trough improved capacity of Belarusian journalists.

On the Fojo web site you’ll also find an on line guide to Belarus.

Ola Henriksson,
Ola Henriksson at

I brought some of my material for the lectures on film. Made some clips in Stockholm, before going to Fojo in Kalmar. Have a look at Ola Henriksson, developement editor at talking about their SEO work. I am sorry, it is only in Swedish. But here’s a quick translation and summary:

Ola Henriksson has been working at for about ten years, as a web editor, news editor in chief and now as one of the two developement editors of the editorial office. He is project managing the technical needs, questions and projects for

During the second half of 2008 they started a SEO project. They had several reasons to do that. The traffic of visitor is important for the site. The site has 650 000–700 000 unique visitors per week. Newspapers have similar material. The competition is hard. Every paper is aming for being fast/first and they have pretty much the same news. It is necessary to attract new visitors to the site.

SEO is also important because readers are using Google and other search engines to find the information they want to read. There for it is important to use relevant key words, to be able to be at the top of the search result on Google.
– To get clicks you simply have to be at the top, at least at the first search page, Ola says.

When they started this project at, they put together a group of colleagues that looked in to this subject. They made a list containing 50 things that they had to carry through to be able to get more visitors from the search engine to the site.

A consultant agency helped to carry this through and to follow up on the results. The made few and small changes to increase the relevance for the search engines.

They did put this project through this autumn 2008. They have done several different things, some of them are: looking in to the in- and outgoing links, adding meta descriptions to the sections on the online newspaper, looking over the headers for the articles – there can be a huge difference between a journalistic header and a search engine friendly header.

They are not done with this project yet. There are still working with the search engine  optimization.

The journalists at are not forced to write a describing header, for the search engine, but that is something that they would like them to do.

They are also looking in to keywords. It is also making relevance for ranking at the search engines. The keywords will be put in together with the article as it is published. Ola is mentioning New York Times as an example. They are using keywords in the topics index.

– There are lots of things that can and should be done. We think it is important because the search engines are important becuase there are lots of in traffic from these kinds of sites. This project has increased the visitors traffic with ten percent, Ola Henriksson says.

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januari 20th, 2009

Twingly offers microblog search

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Twingly expands its search engine with a brand new microblog search tool. They’ve been working on it for six months and today it was released.
In the Twingly blog, they write:

When we last summer started to see the microblogging-hype we felt that a search dedicated to microblogs would be a quite natural development for us. We like Twitter Search and been using it a lot, especially at conferences and when news like Mumbai were having the best news source at Twitter. But because we used Jaiku ourselves it wasn’t what we needed in many cases.

Microblogging services covered by Twingly’s search engine are: Twitter, Jaiku,, Pownce (which is dead, but a six month archive remains searchable), Swedish and the German
They will keep adding new services, and aim to cover all microblogging services out there.

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juni 27th, 2008

Citizen journalism's big impact in Korea

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Interesting piece over at TechnoKimchi on the protests against president Lee Myung-Bak in Korea and how it all came about through citizen journalism:

How did it happen so quickly? This is the fun part. Lee is a very conservative guy, who still believes in ”control”. What he did was, when numerous protests broke out around the country, he basically ordered the media companies ”not to report” to the people about what’s happening. There were police at work, trying to stop the ”peace candlelight” protests, or vigils now called; some police went quite violent, but none to be reported by major broadcasters, newspapers, Internet news sites, or magazines.

But we’re living in the age of Web 2.0. Now people are in control. People that were there became citizen journalists – thousands and thousands. And the force of citizen journalism has grown so immense that basically nobody can stop it now.

One site gathered a stunning 1.5 million signatures to an online call for impeachment. Read the full piece here.

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juni 10th, 2008

YouTube gets new citizen media channel – and beef over censorship

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Going through old posts on Beta Alfa’s blog, I found a post about YouTube’s new Citizen Media channel, Citizen News. They’ve appointed a News Manager and aim to collect news from citizen sources in one place, as a citizen news and interviews channel.

News Manager Olivia M calls out:

So here’s where I turn to you guys for help! If you see examples of fellow YouTubers doing great work in journalism and reporting, please let me know. If you’re a citizen journalist yourself, tell me how YouTube could better serve you. I want to hear how you guys envision news on YouTube and what you’d like to see. My ultimate mission is to make the site a go-to destination for news on the web.

A good ambition, for sure. But after 18 text replies, Olivia hasn’t yet got back to the users commenting her post. And with comments as this one, dated May 26, I feel it’s urgent that she should, if she wants this effort to be taken seriously:

We are very concerned about YouTube’s implementation of geolocational censorship in Thailand and elsewhere. How do you intend to distribute real news to its intended audience without being compromised by YouTube’s secret agreement with Thai government? Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

Wishing Olivia and the YouTube the best of luck with the initiative, and hoping to see a bit more interaction with the users.

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juni 10th, 2008

Why journalists should be monitoring and responding to reader comments

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Excellent clip from WAN in Gothenburg, provided by Medievärlden. Pierre Haski of on how to take your readers seriously and get good quality comments and a good debate.

More at Medievärlden (in Swedish).

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mars 3rd, 2008

Transparency – not for Canadian soldiers

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The Canadian defence department has sent a memo to soldiers, urging them not to use social networking sites like Facebook, writes CBC News. The reason is said to be that terror organizations like Al Qaeda are monitoring these sites and any details revealed by soldiers might compromise missions and potentially threat the safety of the soldiers and also their families.

There are many areas where transparency is a good thing. In some ways, this isn’t one of them. At the same time, social media or indeed citizen journalism is one of the few ways to really find out what’s happening in troubled areas like Afghanistan or Iraq. Wherever wrongs are being committed by either side, I for one hope the soldiers are brave enough to go public with it through the media – citizen or traditional – so that we don’t get another Abu Ghraib scandal.



mars 2nd, 2008

Hard times for bloggers and journalists in Sri Lanka

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Living in Sweden, and especially taking an active part in covering and exploring social and citizen media, I take many things for granted. One is the right to take photos in public areas, another to report about what I see and opinions and thoughts I have on any thinkable subject.

In other parts of the world, however, those simple actions can get you into serious trouble. I recently read an article in AsiaMedia about the situation in Sri Lanka. The country is the world’s third most dangerous place for journalists to operate, with only Iraq and Somalia being more deadly. Seven journalists were killed there in 2007.

Pedestrians who use their cellphones to film bomb attacks or even everyday events get questioned by police, and it’s not only authorities that pose a threat to reporters or anyone with a camera. There’s a trend of citizens not turning to the tools of citizen media to improve their situation, but instead turning against anyone trying to do this, or anyone remotely suspected of it.

Anyone with a still or video camera in public is immediately suspected as a ”trouble-maker.” This endangers our right to click and shoot for personal or professional purposes.

Despite this, however, there is a movement of citizen journalism, though it’s a lonely and vulnerable job, especially with a decrease in democracy in recent years. New media activist Sanjana Hattotuwa is interviewed, and says:

– In Sri Lanka, the significant deterioration of democracy in 2006-2007 has resulted in a country where anxiety and fear overwhelm a sense of civic duty to bear witness to so much of what is wrong. No amount of mobile phones and PCs is going to magically erase this deep rooted fear of harm for speaking one’s mind out.

The article writer, Nalaka Gunawardene, brings up an example which clearly shows the poor state of democracy and the hardship for bloggers in Sri Lanka.

A fellow blogger recently wrote a moving piece about a 65-year-old woman who sells fruits and vegetables at her local market in Colombo. The story behind the story was how the blogger had been surrounded and questioned by four men and the police, who demanded to know whether she had ”permission from the municipality to photograph.”

Luckily, the vegetable sellers came to her rescue. ”They… said they asked me to come with the camera to take some photographs of them,” she wrote.

But she posed the question: ”Do we have to have a camera license like a gun license of yesteryear?”

(via Social Media)

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november 24th, 2007

Per Mosseby: The mobile revolution is happening – but not here

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The first iPhone slide!

Per MossebyPer Mosseby of Pixbox says at Hubbub 07 he thinks the developing countries is where the mobile revolution will truly happen.
When mobile applications have been developed, the laptop is better than the cellphone in all aspects of the services that were going mobile. That is however changing, Per Mosseby says.
– Things are really starting to happen. The iPhone is a small revolution in this field. This means that everyone has to think about mobility.
– In my eyes it all comes back to what I think is going to be the big revolution in the mobile space.
When the bottom of the pyramid population can afford cellphones – all these 4 billion people who don’t have a digital identity – there’s going to be a lot of turnover.
– They do not have an alternative device to go back to.

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juli 20th, 2007

Gillmor: Experiment more!

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Dan Gillmor has put together a ten point report of the state of citizen media today.
While both a general audience and traditional media now pays attention to citizen media, there have been backlashes and we are still struggling with the business models and trust issues, Gillmor writes. Many start-ups have failed, yet there are a few examples of successful sites. Gillmor mentions Scoop and NowPublic as good examples. And he’s optimistic about the future of journalism, encouraging people to experiment more.

not only don’t you need permission, but you don’t need much money, either

In finding new ways for citizen media to develop, Gillmor has a philosophy. This is his advice:

* Openness: Use open technologies, and be open with others about what you are doing. Now, a truly spectacular idea may be such a hot business project that one should work in stealth mode, but most ideas will find more traction with the help of others who care about what you’re doing.
* Use tools that already exist: Reinventing wheels is rarely a productive use of time in the cheap-experiments arena. Chances are that many if not all of the tools you need are already available.
* Collaboration: Work with anyone and everyone.
* Take risks: This is by far the most important. Silicon Valley, where I’ve lived for more than a decade, has taught me a crucial truth, that a culture of risk-taking is a precondition for wider success. The low cost of trying, and correspondingly low cost of failure, is removing virtually all reasons for not taking chances.

The last point is about trust, and is well worth reading in its entirety.

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juni 17th, 2007

Danish media's move to web-first publishing

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

A year ago, Danish newspaper Politiken moved their newsdesk online. Now Berlingske Tidende is taking it one step further. ALL journalists are to work for the web edition as well as for print. Stories will be published online first.

Behind the move is Berlingske’s new editor-in-chief, Lisbeth Knudsen. According to New Media Trends, she says the new strategy has ”earthquake” like dimensions.

As Jon Lund at New Media Trends points out, there are a number of challenges to face for Berlingske.
Having traditional journalists refocus on web publishing takes time and energy. One important aspect is that the print journalists will find out what it’s like to get instant feedback within seconds of writing an article, and they’ll learn to start to think of publishing as communication. The result will hopefully result in better products, both online and in print.

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