You can follow me now on Twitter, I’ve turned on the RSS feed.
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but as a digital immigrant, I’m sometimes a bit slow. Thanks to AM for this tip.
I’ve just seen this item from The Australian‘s media pages about the possible sacking of ABC programme maker Stephen Crittenden. Stephen’s treatment by the aging Aunty seems to be a bit harsh, even though as The Australian points out, he technically broke the rules. [Off air after outburst]
Apparently Stephen lost his rag over planned changes to the ABC’s high-brow Radio National line-up. Among the programmes that have been euphemistically ‘decomissioned’ by the ABC are Media Report and Radio Eye.
Personally, I think Stephen should be regarded as a hero whistleblower for speaking out. Despite denials from the ABC, the axing of serious information and documentary programmes does appear to be a ‘dumbing down’.
I’m particularly upset by the demise of the Media Report programme, it was one of the finest media critique shows I’ve ever heard from anywhere.
Next week, my cousin Helen is taking me to see the exhibition of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro photographs that recently opened at the Barbican.
Capa and Taro are two important figures in 20th century war journalism. Taro was German and I must admit I know nothing about her beyond what I’ve read on the Barbican website. I’m keen to see some of her work and learn more about her. [Barbican notice about This is War!]
However, Robert Capa is much more well known. Unfortunately his fame comes from a controversial image he shot during the Spanish civil war. Known universally as the ‘falling soldier’, the image captures a moment of death on the frontline, but there has been doubt around the provenance of this image for 50 years.
My summary of this debate continues to be one of the most clicked on posts on Ethical Martini.
Just this week I came across another take on the image on a site I check out now again again called ‘Screw Asylum’. No, it’s not that sort of site. Ah, the pleasures of mucking about with Photoshop.
Anyway, the Barbican exhibition also contains some recently available documents from the Cornell Capa (Robert’s brother) archive that claim to prove that the falling soldier image is real.
I’ll let you know when I’ve seen it; in the meantime enjoy ‘death of an insane screw‘.
Over the past weekend I was at a conference hosted by the University of Bedfordshire in Luton. The conference, of mainly journalism academics, was provocatively titled ‘The end of journalism?’ It turns out that the conference organisers were having a bit of fun with us.
Like all good journos (and former journos), they could not resist the punning headline. The ambiguity was at first lost on me. I assumed we were talking about the end of (as in the finish of), but Alec Charles and Gavin Stewart also had in mind the end of (as in the purpose of) journalism.
In this sense, they argued, bloggers and internet reporters could be seen as continuing a forceful and individualist culture of anti-authoritariansim that has motivated some of the best reportage for centuries.
So if we are not witnessing the end of journalism, at least we can be around for the birth (perhaps) of something new, but that also celebrates and continues the tradition of journalism into the digital age.
The problem with a conference like this (in fact almost all academic conferences) is that as a participant-observer, you only ever get to see and hear half of it. Parallel sessions allow the organisers to cram in more great papers, but audiences are then left with some difficult choices.
News workers are also today facing difficult choices. The most difficult is whether to embrace or resist the intrusion of digital technologies into the news production process. Is it true, as I once read somewhere, ‘Resistance is futile‘
I went for a walk along what seems to be the busiest mile of footpath in London this weekend. It’s a stretch of path and parkland on the south bank of the Thames that goes from Southwark bridge past the Tate Modern, the Globe, National and BFI theatres and lots of cafes and bars.
The weather was beautiful and my companion was my cousin Jo, whom I hadn’t seen for 20 years. We had a wonderful conversation, catching up on family and our own lives.
We stopped for a coffee just near the British Film Institute and this amazing little dinghy (?) came whizzing past us on the Thames. The tide was going out and the tiny boat was moving very quickly. It was an amusing moment as the sailboat was dwarfed by everything else on the river that day.
An interesting decision this week in the New Zealand High Court. Contempt of court charges against Fairfax Media and Dominion Post editor, Tim Pankhurst, were dismissed. Earlier this year the Dom Post published extensive details of a police affidavit alleging weapons offences and related charges against a group of people who were arrested after a long surveillance operation which uncovered supposed “terrorist” training camps in the Urewera ranges.
The contempt charges were brought by the Solicitor-General who argued that the trials of 19 people associated with the case could be prejudiced by the publication of details in the affidavit.
There was an interesting line in the judges’ decision that deserves some exploration.
“Publications which are unlawful can never be regarded as responsible or justifiable,” the judges said.
Next weekend [17-18 October] I’m speaking at a conference in Luton with the dread-inducing title, The end of journalism? The question mark is probably the most encouraging symbol here. It signifies that it might no be the end.
The conference has been organised by journalism and media studies academics at the University of Bedfordshire and I was lucky enough to score a late invitation thanks to my new City University colleague, James. The conference organisers have outlined the purpose of the international gathering against the background of the commercial and confidence crisis now besetting the news industry globally.
The last few years have witnessed a fresh wave of claims for the potential of internet-based technologies to widen participation in the public sphere. This period has also witnessed a steady stream of jeremiads about the impact of user-generated content on professional journalism. This wide-reaching cultural debate takes places against the backdrop of the ongoing restructuring of the global news industries. In some quarters these changes are regarded with deep suspicion whilst others see a bright future for the media. Central to arguments presented by both sides in this debate is the value of ‘journalistic’ function to wider society. [Conference blurb and agenda]
The conference title prompted me to do a Google search and there’s a couple of blog sites that also adopt the End of Journalism title, but without the comfort of the question mark.
Post-it Note: I’ve been having a bit of difficulty accessing wordpress for the past week or so, but finally found an empty draft that I could canibalise.
A couple of weekends ago I visited Highate cemetery, near Hampstead Heath in north London. There’s a five pound entry fee, but the grounds themselves are worth the price of admission and the place is run by volunteers. The whole graveyard is overgrown with elms, beech and other very British trees. It’s a real urban jungle and it’s also over-run with grey squirrels. Apart from the first couple of metres either side of the paths, the trees have been allowed to regenerate and the older gravestones are hidden in the undergrowth. When I was there it was a lovely autumn day and the dappled sunlight through the forest gave the whole place a serene and gentle feel.
The purpose of my visit was to stand next to Karl Marx memorial headstone and have my picture taken. What i wasn’t quite prepared for was the mixed company in which the brilliant socialist theorist and agitator is resting [his remains were moved to the current spot many years ago].