Monday, December 08, 2014

10 tips for what makes an absorbing online news article?

--> As journalists we must accept some truths.

In digital, YouTubers create incredible videos, citizen journalists present a case that learning journalism is redundant, whilst bloggers can beat their chest that they stopped a democratic nominee from running for US president.

When digital is remembered for its many characteristics, one key point is how it showed up traditional journalism to be found wanting. It’s almost not enough that you can now blog, podcast, be a videojournalist, social network and code, because that has become the norm.

So what separates a trained journalist from a citizen journalist? That’s a question worth debating. But in the meantime, what’s expected from you when you write an article for online.

Here’s ten tips.

1.     Anything can become a story, but inherent in the story must be its news worthiness. A story about cats in trees is a news story -– depending on the circumstances. Yet it may not carry as much newsworthiness as a crime story, a financial story, a health story, a legal story etc. The more topical and newsworthy the story, the more you make yourself an asset in the newsroom. Newsworthiness is also dependent on the audience.
2.     Events exists, stories are found and synthesised. There is a premium an editor attaches to a story constructed from primary sources, compared to  one which Ex- BBC Chief Pat Loughry refers to as “air conditioned journalism”. In the latter case, the story is a recycle of existing stories on the main news networks. If they already exist on mainstream news ask the question, ‘what value am I bringing to this existing story?’
3.     An air conditioned story, however, can be transformed by showing originality, finding a new angle and contacting your sources to move on the story. That also shows initiative.
4.     We can make the assumption that some bloggers, who have not trained as journalists, can write truly well, so what does the journalist offer in the writing form?  Answer: a comprehension of the conventions that make an article receptive to an audience. These conventions can generally be observed on BBC’s News online  or the HBR blog link.
 
5.     The conventions of writing online include an adherence to Jakob Nielsen’s rules (see Blackboard).
6.     Attribution separates an article from being an opinion piece. Opinion pieces have a place in journalism, but the bread and butter of journalism is ‘objective’ writing.
7.     Links matter and the quality of links matter too. Knowing what to link from in your text is a skill worth knowing. 
8.     Presentation is key. It provides the feeling of professionalism. Presentation involves some basic attributes and how a pro-looking news page looks. There is no fixed template, but the more relevant media play a role in supporting  the writing, the more appealing, often, the story looks.
9.     Demonstration of discussion in the crowd or colleagues. This may have little consequence until the journalist realises, in hindsight, they were not being self-reflexive enough – which will be illustrated on their log.
10.  Journalism is a cultural convention influenced by social conventions and literary styles that change over time. These conventions matter, but so does your individual style. Sometimes your own style requires being toned down; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a matter of choice. Either way enjoy your writing and how you’ve learned to be critical of your work.

p.s and yes there are no links on this post :(

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

How to Pass a Masters programme ( in Journalism too)

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No, not golf!

If you’re one of the selected, or have earned your self a place on a Masters programmes – congratulations.

You’re about to embark on a learning experience that will equip you with skills that will assist you in your chosen career.

Hiffington Post writes there are many reasons why you’d want to do a Masters, for example 

  • to further your job prospects in your company. A Masters is used in employment to differentiate individuals for promotion. 
  • Some want an MA as a trophy.
  • The title Masters (in journalism) after your name can alter the perception of those privy to this around you. One of the true worths of a Masters is as a finishing house. 
  • It’s the last big door that separates you from your chosen door.
But gaining an MA comes at considerable cost to you the individual. The most obvious, but misunderstood is the new cultural and social change, and implicit contract, that awaits you.
If you’ve never done a Masters before, how do you know what it’s like? It’s an environment which asks a level of interpersonal, analytical and critical skills that you’re unlikely to have witnessed in a previous learning environment.

An MA in journalism, for instance, is compounded by a phenomenon, which emerged around 2000. There’s a fair chance that you may not have prior experience in the media. In the 1990s and before, anyone wanting to undertake an MA had to demonstrate a working knowledge of association with a media form e.g. working for a radio station or newspaper.

It showed a commitment to your chosen career, but also meant you had some concrete knowledge of the industry. That happens less so nowadays. It’s progress, the world has moved on and we’re encountering a new type of student with a zeal to learn media, but often with little to none prior experience.

But if you’ve never done a Masters, then you’re relying on tacit knowledge of how things were in your undergraduate programme. This knowledge bank is transferred to the Masters programme, which unchecked can create problems.

For instance, you have a recollection of how lectures and independent learning was. You might even confess that in your BA you got by with the minimum of work. Well on the MA that’s one of the first shocks, the amount of work that you’re designed to do can seem relentless.

Firstly, it’s not your fault. How were you to know? So the university prepares you for this by a number of strategies. A module handbook becomes a vital interface. Everything you want to know is in that document. It took painful hours to make to cover every base you’re likely to encounter. It’s not just worth reading. It needs to be read.  That’s a shock in itself, because you’ve likely never had to ‘put up’ with reading such a dry document.

Then lectures will engage with your over what’s required. Often there’s no redundancy in their delivery. But to you unless the information has a critical bearing – a need to know to facilitate a particular task – it may mean nothing to you. Lecturers will often repeat themes. But the expectation of your critical thinking should build upon these knowledge nodes.

For instance, in the module handbook are a list of books designed to assist you. A lecturer will make suggestions to the list and herein lies another cultural shock. Independent learning is a major theme of an MA. The level of learning required of you after lectures to successfully pass an MA is enough to put you off doing an MA if you knew. But you didn’t back when you applying – and now it seems, well just an add-on that you could do without.

Here’s a list of ten things you might consider that will help you pass your Masters.

  1. Understanding the institutional environment. If you’ve never done a Masters, seek out previous students and ask them what is expected.
  2.  Respecting your environment. The MA you’ve come to is an environment you’ve walked into. It changes every year. Learn how to gather information about the environment and synthesis this to make sense. You do it anyway by talking amongst each other. Put together a series of points which provides probable solutions how to navigate the route by sharing ideas.
  3. Manage your Lectures. Everyone reads everyone. You read your lectures, your friends, and make judgments about them. Everyone does it.  Monaco, a respected scholar in film said anyone can read a film, but not many people know how to interpret it. He’s right! Interpretation is a skill that is learned, critical skills requires continual honing.  Once ever so often, a student might claim that a lecturer favours some students, and not others. That could be the case, but more often than not, some students know how to manage their lecturers to get the most out of them. Managing means many things.
  4. Read the lecturer. There’s a strong correlation between the way we write and the way we talk. So if you’re familiar with the way a lecturer sounds, in all likelihood a critique will be in the same tone – even when the written remarks seem terse or spartan to you. Seek clarification by approaching the lecturer. Often the lecturer may ask you come and see them.
  5. The respect thing. Most lecturers will address you in emails as ‘Dear’ or ‘Hello’, rarely ‘Hi’ and never ‘Hey’. This level of communication is an extension of the respect they accord you, even when it comes to calling you by first names. Note in many US and some UK institutions the university insists you call each other by surnames. The reason for this is to attain and sustain that professional relationship. Just as you expect the respect you feel you deserve, so do lecturers.
  6. Perceptions. You read your lectures, and they read you. Their level of reading is based on a professional interpretation – to separate personal feelings from professional ones. They come to understand you by cues and behaviours you give off. Everyone starts off as a ‘vessel’ without  much to go on. As time goes on your behavior e.g. lateness, nonchalance, exuberance, determination shapes how you are received.  This has a significant impact on shaping the faculty’s perception of you. So for instance, if you have a habit of being late to lectures that may reflect upon a critical decision when it comes to handing in a piece of late work. Likewise, if you demonstrate attention to detail and possess a record of due diligence, this is noted when faculty might be discussing a crucial issue surrounding marked work, when there is a contentious issue.
  7. Understanding how faculties work. If you feel you need to have an issue addressed, talk to your lecturer. If you get no joy, go back and say why, and if that doesn’t work go up the chain of titles. Going straight up the chain has its merits, particularly where the lecture-student relationship has broken down irrevocably. But more often than not faculty talk about students, so your issue will most likely have been raised in ongoing department meetings.
  8. Give back more, and more will come. Secretly, if not openly, your lecturer is willing you on to do well. Many lecturers carry a sense of pride seeing you graduate and climb the slippery ladder of media. Some lecturer-student become life long relations of the mutual respect club. So, intellectual rigour and a sense of self during your Masters tenure sets up this invigorating relationship. The give more principle is predicated on the understanding that, not only have you met the brief of the assignment, but you’ve in your down moments demonstrated a zeal to do other things related to the course. It’s no wonder you get spoken about in social meetings.
  9.  Test you assumptions. You believe you know what you know, because you’ve known this before, but sometimes you don’t know, and what’s more you don’t know you don’t know. This version of Johari’s window, created in 1955, which in contemporary language has been recited as Rumsfeld’s garble, is common in advanced learning. If you’ve  not done a Masters before, you’re now in the ‘testing your assumptions’ game.
  10. Enjoy what is a stimulating environment, which ‘blink’ and its gone. It will come to pass, and more often than not mostly you’ll look back on the Masters days with fondness ( hopefully) of shared times and jokes about those frustrating habits of lecturers. Mine references the Matrix and Morpheus saying ‘Again’. If you ever watch 8 Days – a film about the UK’s first regional newspaper journalists learning to become videojournalists, it’s built on ‘Again’.  Enjoy the ride of the MA programme and its resources. It’s designed to help you. If you’re in troubles of sorts, seek mitigating circumstances. Respect the programme and it will respect you. And if you’re planning on a PhD, well, that’s a different kettle of fish entirely

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The Art of a New International VideoJournalism - A Brit, US Social Scientist, and Syrian Talent


EPILOGUE
By 3 O'clock in the afternoon, it dawned on me the magnitude of the story. We're holed up in a hotel near the Turkish-Syrian border. That's me standing on the bed.
Young Syrian journalists in the room, fifteen in all, have taken huge risks to cross over. Their stories are powerful, yet untold, and international businesses regularly lift or take parts of their report with no remuneration.
We're trying something called videojournalism-as-cinema - an artistic form of news making. The story really starts here, almost thirty years ago... Five minutes of the film can be viewed below...

Nineteen eight-seven
Looking across the auditorium at some of the US’ most respected educators, Donald Schön presented a simple yet powerful tale he had recounted several times.
Its impact was no less emphatic for professionals who were not educators, such as designers, health workers, and for that matter journalists.
You’re riding a bike and you begin to fall to the left. How do you quickly regain your composure?
Turn Right
Turn Left
I don’t know
It’s an irrelevant question
The answer, the MIT social scientist said was to turn into the left. It has to do with the bike, which acts like a gyroscope, re-finding its centre of gravity. Racing car drivers braking around a bend at 200kph know this. But what about those who might say turn the other way? In practice, Schön continued you don’t fall off so what’s going on.
Often, we might know what to do, without necessarily being able to put this into words. This phenomenon Schön called reflection-in-action.
Doctors will sometimes detect an illness, not based on a clinical diagnosis but a hunch. Designers make use of reflection-in-action to ponder a new design, like the Stata Center in MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the concept appears impossible, and journalism?
Well, swathes of journalists have creatively thought through the process of compiling a report against a deadline when the odds have been stacked against them — but there’s a catch.
Schön’s address poked at education on the one hand and the professions on the other. There is an enslavement to the packaging of knowledge in academia he said, and the rigid modular form students are taught does not give rise to what he called reflection-in-action, or reflection-on-action. One is an ongoing process, the other occurs over time.
Here, students should have the artistic freedom to experiment, to develop new forms, to ‘make it up’ within a framework and assess their work thereafter. The idea caught on with many US educators doubling as action researchers who incorporated Schön’s teaching into their classes.
But arguably and generally television journalism has been in stasis.
A case in point, students undertaking television journalism or documentary will often work through how to create news and documentaries based on a rationale of the way things ARE done.
Not by what could be done, which is in stark contrast to visual or graphic designers who employ wide discursive methods to reach their goal.
News, we’re told, requires the use of one camera. You can’t use music, and the narrative has to be ‘he said, she said’ assuming total knowledge from the journalist. Often, it’s worth asking the lecturer or practitioner why?
Schön called this condition technical rationality. In one of several books,The Reflective Practitioner, published four years earlier from his 1987 AGM talk to the American Educational Research Association, Schön elaborated.
Technical rationality confines many professions to be rooted in a scientific norm of practice, what’s called positivism where data is derived from logical and mathematical reasoning.
It leaves little room for much needed artistry in experiments that would expand knowledge in ways that are unpredictable. A popular way to look at the two systems, postivism and reflection-in-action based on artistic methods, is the Apollo 13 near disaster.
If it was logic that got the crew nearly to the moon, it was lengthy periods of reflection-in-action, tearing up the rule book, shown in the film by Gary Sinese’s character that got them safely back to earth.
Gary Sinise in Apollo 13 Copyright: © 1995 Universal Pictures

The Reflective Practitioner 
has since become one of the most cited and talked about books for researchers talking about their practice.
Whilst journalism is not included in Schön’s book, the similarities are clear. The way television journalism is, and delivered by experts, has been fixed for the last fifty years. It’s based on a positivism, so issues such as objectivity, balance, trust are thrust before student journalists by professionals as absolutes.
New Journalism
In 2001 when Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel published Elements of Journalism, a book synthesised from several industry meetings from conversations started at the Harvard Faculty club in 1997, issues such as objectivity were finally being jettisoned.
Kovach and Rosenstiel listed ten essentials of journalism, writing that:
Some readers may think items are missing here. Where is fairness? Where is balance? As we researched journalism’s past and looked to its future, it became clear that a number of famililar abd even useful ideas associated with news were to vague to rise to the level of essential principles of journalism. Fairness, for instance, is subjective a concept that it offered little guidance in how to operate.
While Schön is not, and neither am I, criticising the many hard-working educators and journalists who ply their craft, Schön’s reflection-in-action advocates change, not as cosmetic procedure, but to advance our knowledge, and profession . He states:
Our systems need to maintain their identity, and their ability to support the self-identity of those who belong to them, but they must at the same time be capable of transforming themselves.
Television news is a Porche, often presented in a Skoda body. It embraces a language system that is so vast, so rich in expression, but has confined itself to a scientific norm of practices.
The camera needs to be placed here — inevitably leading to the rule of thirds. The reporter’s job is to voice-over bits of the film where an interviewee isn’t speaking, and a report needs to be 1.20’.
All of these have specific reasons for how and why they were brilliant at the time and why they would work when NBC news pioneer Frank Reuven popularised the news package.
If reportage is the skill and knowledge of articulating complex issues to an audience, then even in these video-utopian times there is still a vast terrain that videojournalism is reluctant to enter.
The artistry derived from experimenting and peeling back from technical rationality lies within a journalism that embraces Schön’s reflection-in-action. Sadly, such artistry is not taught.
Call it an artistic form of videojournalism or even a hybrid form of cinema — which this author has spoken about at the International Festival of Journalism in Perugia, Apple stores in London, and CUNYs Reinvent TV in New York, in which Jeff Jarvis and Hal Straus convened a gathering of twenty professionals to examine the future of TV.
That Syrian film mentioned earlier...


Young British Artists
In the UK an attempt at a new journalism happened twenty years ago to this day with the UK’s first officially recognised videojournalists.
Thirty British youngsters, many of whom were picked because they had never worked in television, were trained by the father of videojournalism Michael Rosenblum in an intensive three month regime.
The group made a serious stab at reworking television journalism though as yet there’s little evidence of their reflection-in-action being adopted by UK journalism.
I was one of them and over the years have become more familiar with reflective practice. But here’s the catch mentioned earlier. You can reflect, but you can’t affect change unless
a) You’re willing to step out of the conventions that so powerfully hold you

b) You are in possession or are seeking to find this non conventional solution.
In my case I have looked to cinema and art for these, which would lead to incredible journey’s, such as becoming an artist-in-resident at the UK’s illustrious Southbank Centre, or travelling to near the Syrian border to make a film.
Channel One folded after four years but its legacy amongst the founding staff lives on. The history of Channel One and its practitioners is due for publication next year from my PhD.

The company folded after four years but its legacy amongst the founding staff lives on. The history of Channel One and its practitioners is due for publication next year from my PhD.
Today, social networks and the impact of the Net have finally forced institutional journalism to rethink its practices. They’ve been dragged here screaming.
But the field, at least in video, is still wide open. When Adam Westbrook, part of a new generation of videojournalists and writers enquires about new artistic forms on the Net, he invokes a spirit of journalism, a reflection-in-action, that I believe became conscious amongst audiences 20 years ago and is now, finally heading to critical exposure.
www.viewmagazine.tv
David is a Knight Batten Winner in Innovation in Journalism and an international award-winning videojournalist. His journalism career spans 27 years working for outfits such as Channel 4 News, ABC News and Newsnight. His PhD looks at the future of videojournalism.

Friday, October 17, 2014

#Student.You - Cinema Journalism psycholgical film in University


This is my personal project yet. A psychological film about Masters students wrestling with the ideas and concepts that shape knowledge.

I was their supervisor and enjoyed working with them. And I hope they enjoyed the experience too.


#Student.You from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Great Interview. Publish I could die. Ethics in digital


Sabeen al-Nuaim ( not her real name) was at ease speaking on camera. She smoked a cigarette in between the pauses describing her filming days in Syria. 

She had recently recorded a young woman torn by shrapnel hurriedly being placed in a battered car which sped off to a makeshift hospital 20 minutes away.

Sabeen, reminiscing about the event and the horrors of videoing in one of the world’s dangerous spots, questioned her work exposing atrocities that often put her life in danger in Aleppo.
Yet, she said, she was compelled to record because these stories needed telling.
We wrapped the interview in Adana, four hours drive from the Syrian border.
A week later in production, we received an email from Sabeen in broken English explaining she could not be profiled in our documentary. The risk was too great to her and her family’s safety.
In spite of a release form and that she was an eloquent speaker with a clutch of amazing stories to tell which made our documentary, we dropped her contribution.
In an age where discretion seems an unwieldy sentiment against fame-seeking and that privacy or secrecy seems arcane when the fruits could be twitter fame, some codes of conduct should remain.

It’s journalistic ethics, but more so it should be about common decency — understanding that your actions could result in someone’s death.
The rise in social media though threatens this basic action. More recently, a well known British television journalist spoke to a group of out Masters students revealing aspects about his work which could imperil his safety, so we had the student’s adhere to Chatham House rules.
The rule states, in a bid for open discussion, that:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
While links such as The BBC’s Twitter users guide to the law underline the growing concerns in social media, the idea that personal privacy is seen as a thing of the past poses a problem.
Snapchat, instagram — the ability to take a picture of anyone in public does not come without risk.
Many Christmases ago I was filming homeless people receiving a warm meal from a local charity. My camera lingered on a man. Minutes later, while still filming, I heard mumbled to me: ‘Do you like hospital food?’
It took a while for his message to sink in, but what he was saying was he had rights too.
Probity and integrity — hall marks of old fashion journalism have more currency today than ever and with cameras aplenty.
For the sake of a picture or story how many of us would betray the confidentiality of a source, or shrug our shoulders at our interviewee’s concerns?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Relaunching viewmagaizne.tv

I'm in the midst of redesigning viewmagazine. tv, with what I hope are some exciting new links. Here's the front page.



The University of You -Digital's impact on you


It’s no revelation we all want to be like someone. Caravaggio really wanted to be Leonardo Da Vinci. Popes wanted to be monarchs. Ronaldo would like to be Pele and Britain’s Prime minister fancies himself as Margaret Thatcher.
Young boys imprint on their fathers, daughters on their mothers — generally. And you, you want to be like the the person with the best twitter feed, or Linkedin ranking.
On the web, populist articles spout how to get the best social media feed, how to be the best instragramer, how to be this and how to that!
It’s not enough to be you anymore, you have to be her or him — with the nom de plume. Same face different mask.
I’m just as guilty. In my lectures I ask Masters students to look for the exemplar in the field and study their methods. But I add at some point break away; become you — again.
When I started as a broadcaster, I imprinted upon Sir Trevor Macdonald. Clear diction and enunciation and an inflexion that emphasised the power of speech.
I interviewed security chiefs e.g. ex-head of the CIA, created 'Obama's 100 Days' video with a live orchestra at the South Bank Centre, coded and built websites, and recently shot a film on training young Syrian journalists near the Turkey-Syria border -- not enough.
But if our idols where once our guides, today they manifest as nicotine craves. We would no sooner slay those we could admire, because frankly we see ourselves as better than them.
Deference has given way to a maniacal streak of impersonation. What ever happened to you? The English poet and painter William Blake said 'The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.'
We simply cannot get enough, and the more we acquire, the more humble we should become. Often, we don't.
You with the imperfections, you who gradually and methodically got to where you did. You who knew you could do better, but had values.
On twitter we all want to be heard, we chirp noisily across the canopy. We’re incessant twitchers — looking at our feeds. Our attention spans wane after 5 mins. Video is 6 seconds, and news 140 characters.
The X-factor popularises public humiliation and a gladiatorial baying of blood. Intolerance, unBritishness, is now packaged as de rigueur --for the sake of TV ratings.
Strange constructs become a cultural norm. Where in the human evolution of speech did 140 characters define how to converse? There’s no power in diversity. To be different is to be isolated. I’m black, you’re white, it doesn’t matter — salute Michael Jackson. But it’s also what makes us different.
All these phenomenon are people-made. The Tories bash the poor; Labour sneers at the well-off. In a land of common sense, common sense has become a commodity; reflection, an anathema, foresight and wisdom — a daft concept.
But we can still recover lost ground. An empathy of understanding, a recognition that imperfection exists, if not welcomed, and that time is a friend, we should handle deftly.
Stop, look, listen. Be You! Become the university of you. Become the person in an era of opportunity to be that unique voice — YOU.
David next speaks at an International Business Summit in London. His PhD examines a future immersive emergent story form.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A day in New York - David Dunkley Gyimah in New York

I was in NY for 3 days presenting at CUNY's Reinvent TV. Armed with a go pro, googleglass and my D5 I took these pictures. 
I have annotated them with film themes, to give them connotative  meaning. I wonder which one you think works?

David @viewmagazine 


THE CONNECTION

A film in which Gary Stones, an Internet Engineer has five hours to find a hacker, otherwise his account and anyone connected with him will be wiped clean. He's tracked the hacker to a building opposite him.



THE MESSAGE

A young actress must steady her nerves to deliver a presentation to the UN amid threats from trolls they'll release personal pictures of her on the Net.




FINDING JENNY
 

Jenny moves to New York to find fame and fortune, but the inevitable pace of the big apple induces a crisis, which can only be solved by finding herself literally - as she is bipolar.


7.49 am
Stanley's faustian pact is not going to plan. A year ago, he was given $10,000 on the proviso he would stand in the road for 20 seconds at exactly 7.49 am.


SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE


This is where it all happened in the 1970s. Leroy, a successful music producer traces the seeds of a track by Spanky Wilson, that defined an era.



THE DAY TODAY

Today Jimmy Fallow will make the biggest spread bet on the exchange. Thousands of miles away it will start a chain reaction in a property crash. Then Jimmy develops a conscious.



WE ARE SOCIAL

Maria plans a social experiment to show he has more diverse friends in the real world than the virtual - even though she is a virtually made up.


ZERO SUM
Manhattan overnight disappears. Where have all the residents gone?



DRAW

A traffic cop seeks a career in Westerns, but has to prove to movie bosses she can draw her side arm in record time



LOST

When the phones go down, the Internet goes down, how do people meet up with each other, when they've never met before.