Tuesday, December 12, 2006

REUTERS ASIA MD Advises PRINT MEDIA: Heed BLOGGERS In Contextualizing A STORY; LARGE Numbers Web Journalists Jailed – CHINA Lead at 19 out of 31

Pay heed to bloggers, traditional media urged, from business-times.asiaone.com

By MATTHEW PHAN Published December 11, 2006

(SINGAPORE) Traditional journalists must find ways to access and take the writing of bloggers into account when doing their reporting, according to Reuters Asia's managing director Alex Hungate. The growing popularity of online social networks and blogs suggests bloggers have an equally valid point of view, he said in a recent interview with BT. A Windows MSN survey of more than 25,000 people in seven Asian countries published last week indicated that 51 per cent of online respondents rated blogs as being equally trustworthy as traditional media. The value-added for professional writers in paying attention to bloggers will come from contextualising a story and answering the 'So What?' question, while for news providers, brand will be 'increasingly important', Mr Hungate said.

In Singapore, two-thirds of respondents claimed to have their own blog, making the country the second most 'blogged' in the world, behind South Korea, the MSN survey said. The growing popularity of online social networks and blogs suggests bloggers have a valid point of view. - Mr Hungate. Five in six Singaporeans are aware of blogging, with the awareness strongest among the young. Four in five of the bloggers here are under 25 years of age, 14 per cent are between 25 and 34, and 3 per cent are over 35 years. Nearly three-quarters of blogs in Singapore are kept by women. Reuters has developed several ways for traditional media to tap into the blogosphere. Its senior editors blog to keep in touch with readers and Reuters provides newsfeeds free to popular bloggers who, via their websites, link readers back to Reuters' content. Reuters invested US$7 million last month for an undisclosed stake in Pluck - a company that categorises thousands of blogs - to enable journalists to navigate and share their content rapidly. Social issues like obesity were discussed on blogs for several years before drawing the attention of traditional media. And the ignorances have not been confined to general reporters. Financial journalism has been equally in the dark, Mr Hungate said. Some blogs focus on particular industries and even specific companies – and many ex-journalists have set up and commercialised their blogs, relying on their professional expertise and contacts to keep writing their beats. Reuters is committing more editorial resources to insight-type pieces to give context and meaning to news, as it aims more sales at investment managers and private equity firms with longer holding periods than traders. Its offshore centres in China and India focus on data analysis, such as calculating valuations and earnings ratios, while Reuters' local journalists in various countries call sources and provide commentary. This parallels the way research houses are focusing their limited resources on making ecommendations, using automated programs to calculate ratios and do peer comparisons, according to Mr Hungate. Reuters also tags each of its news pieces with up to 50 codes. Based on the language used, a program evaluates whether the story expresses positive or

negative sentiment. It then checks how markets responded the last time a similar story was printed and, in view of the anticipated market reaction, acts to hedge or profit from a trade. Mr Hungate said Reuters enables users to integrate the group's data into their own systems, which helps computer-based trading

The continued rollback of mainstream media; 08Dec06; unspun.wordpress.com

Another month, another international newspaper pulls out of Indonesia and the region because of cutbacks in spending. The latest casualty is the Washington Post, which decided to to close its Jakarta bureau, which is also its Southeast Asian bureau, as of Jan 1, 2007. With the international newspapers cutting back on their spending and on their bureaus overseas is it a wonder then that more and more people are resorting to blogs to get their information? The alternative to blogs are local media who aren’t always consistent or professional with their selection of news from either their own reporters - who aren’t always reliable - and news wires. This gives rise to a perhaps simplistic question, but one worth pondering on: Is it the rise of blogs that caused the circulation decline or the circulation decline that causes the rise of blogs? One casualty of the Washington Post’s retreat is Ira Pramudita, the bureau’s office manager. She’s now out of a job and looking for opportunities.

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Increasing number of web journalists jailed; By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

Published: 08 December 2006; from news.independent.co.uk

A third of all journalists currently imprisoned around the world publish their work on the internet, according to a new report by a watchdog group which reveals that China continues to jail more reporters than any other nation. The group says the growing number of jailed web journalists shows that repressive regimes are acting to suppress the radical opportunities presented by internet. While print reporters and photographers continue to make up the largest professional category accounting for 67 of the 134 journalists known to be imprisoned, internet reporters make up 49 of the total - the largest ever number in this group. "We're at a crucial juncture in the fight for press freedom because authoritarian states have made the internet a major front in their effort to

control information," said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which published the report. The report says that of the 31 journalists imprisoned in China, 19 of them published primarily on the internet. Among the 31 is Shi Tao, an editor with a newspaper based in Hunan Province who was jailed for 10 years in 2004 after he published details of a government directive to the media on how to cover the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Much of his work was published on the internet and court documents from his trial show that internet giant Yahoo helped the government identify him through his email account. The country with the second largest number of jailed journalists is Cuba, with 24, with Eritrea, which has imprisoned 23 reporters in third position. Mr Simon added: "In Cuba and in China, journalists are often jailed after summary trials and held in miserable conditions far from their families. But the cruelty and injustice of imprisonment is compounded where there is zero due process and journalists slip into oblivion. In Eritrea, the worst abuser in this regard, there is no check on authority and it is unclear whether some jailed journalists are even alive."

The US is listed in joint 7th place, with three journalists currently detained. One of those, Sami al-Haj, an al-Jazeera cameraman has been held at Guantanamo Bay for more than five years. Another, Bilal Hussein, is a photographer with the Associated Press who has been held for eight months without charge.

Zakary Katz-Nelson of the UK-based group Reprieve, which represents 36 prisoners held at Guantanamo, including Mr Haj, said: "Sami appears to be held purely for his link with al-Jazeera. There have been more than 100 interrogations and they have all been about al-Jazeera and not Sami. They are trying to show a link between al-Jazeera and terrorism and they are using Sami as a pawn in their game."


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