Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Digital change in newsrooms too slow

Heartening news - journalists are not Luddites when it comes to going digital in the newsroom. According to a report, Life Beyond Print, carried out by researchers at North Western university (and discussed by Jeremy Porter on his Journalistics blog), nearly half of the 3,800 US journalists surveyed thought change was too slow in their newrooms. Only 6 per cent yearned for a return to print only. And interestingly, older journalists are just as keen as younger ones. So much for my research hypothesis that it was the older generation holding back and the young who were the "early adopters".

In fact, the generational hypothesis is looking a bit simplistic, even before I start my field work. I only have to look at my MA Journalism students in my multi-media reporting class to realise that some of the more mature students are sophisticated bloggers and tweeters and can work wonders with video, while some of the younger students are much more hesitant. Although they all use Facebook, unlike me. Maybe I'd better start.

Friday, 23 October 2009

It's 5am - it must be research methods

A sabbatical is a huge luxury as I'm now realising. After six weeks back at work, I've managed to read a grand total of three journal articles and have temporarily almost forgotten what my research is about. Almost, not quite, because I reread my draft contextual chapter last week and could hardly believe I'd written it.

Every Friday I get up at 5am to catch a train to Sheffield to atttend a Research Methods seminar. All very useful stuff but I'm so tired by the time I get there from London that I can hardly make my brain connect. My fellow PhD students are all full time and have the luxury of sitting in the library all day.

But. I have a full time job as an academic and they don't. Getting an academic job is the reason why most people do PhDs. I've just done things the other way round and I don't have to get a PhD to keep my job. I'm doing research because I want to, as I have to keep reminding myself. Will this be enough incentive to carry me through the next six years? It's going to have to be.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Twitter scores for free speech

Twitter scores again - and this time at the expense of media lawyers Carter Ruck. The bizarre attempt by this legal attack-dog to slap an injunction on the Guardian for trying to report "certain parliamentary proceedings" ended in ignominious failure within hours as the twitterati (horrible word)got on the case, did a couple of internet searches and came up with the answers: Labour MP Paul Farrelly, in the House of Commons, asking a question about the dumping of toxic waste on the Ivory Coast, by oil company Trafigura. Time taken: 42 minutes.

A victory for freedom of speech, definitely. A slap in the face for Carter Ruck and other lawyers who seem to be getting worryingly addicted to privacy injunctions and especially "super-injunctions", in which the media aren't even allowed to report the fact that they aren't allowed to print something. (What makes it even worse in this case was that it concerned a parliamentary question, asked by an elected representative in the House of Commons, under privilege).

But the most interesting part of this story was that it took Twitter at #trafigura to reveal the contents of the injunction and force Carter Ruck to retract. A further illustration of the futility of privacy and contempt of court laws in the internet age?