Monthly Archives: March 2011

Using computers for better journalism

First posted at, the website of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Center sponsored a talk by Rutgers University media researcher, Nick Diakopoulos late last month.

The topic: Innovation and Computing in Journalism.

“As information comes at us faster and faster, we have more and more data to deal with,” Diakopoulos said. “Social media is pumping out terabytes of this every day. We need computers to help us deal with that scale.”

Diakopoulos defined computational journalism as “using computing to facilitate, enable and reinvigorate the practices and processes of journalism, including collecting, organising, making sense of, communicating and disseminating news information, while upholding the values of journalism such as fairness and accuracy.”

As part of the presentation Diakopoulos presented two programs to help wade through all that data.

  • Videolyzer” is a fact checking application designed for online videos.
  • Vox Event Analytics,” that asks, “What would a journalist ask from social media, what could be interesting?”

JMSC Media Talk: Innovation and Computing in Journalism from JMSC HKU on Vimeo.


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Filed under International News Coverage, Story Ideas

Threats to Mexican media workers now include comic sidekicks

Thanks to Deborah Bonello and her Mexico Reporter  service for pointing this out.

Monterrey TV personality is abducted, slain

Two others kidnapped with ‘La Gata’ are killed; motive said to be unclear.

MEXICO CITY — Gunmen abducted and killed a comic sidekick on a popular Monterrey television show shortly after Mexican President Felipe Calderón warned a gathering of the industrial city’s business executives that a criminal cancer had been allowed to flourish there.

Read rest of story.

The war against Mexican media workers — comics to journalists — is intensifying.


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Filed under Corruption, Killings

Journalists shot, intimidated in Honduras

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports on the latest attack on journalists in Honduras.

Honduran community radio director shot; staff threatened

Franklin Meléndez, 35, who directs the Voz de Zacate Grande community radio station in southern Valle province, was shot on March 13 at a local bar, according to CPJ interviews and local press reports. Meléndez told CPJ that he was approached by two men angered by the station’s critical coverage of local land disputes as he and two colleagues were playing billiards. According to Meléndez, one of the men threatened him and as he was retreating, the second man shot him in the left thigh. A second shot was fired but missed him.

The two assailants, who Meléndez recognized as relatives of a prominent landowner in the region, followed him before the radio director was able to flee on bicycle, he told CPJ. He was later driven to a hospital in nearby Choluteca, where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet.

Rest of report.

The CPJ reports that nine journalists have been killed in Honduras since March 2010. At least three of the killings are tied directly to their work.

The Committee published a special report in July that showed a pattern of negligence on the part of authorities in investigating the killings.

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Filed under Central America, Harassment

Ethics in journalism: Belize women have an issue with a publication

Many thanks to Holly Edgell for pointing this out.

Seems The Guardian, the newspaper aligned with the ruling party, in Belize published a less-than-flattering picture of the head of the opposition party’s women’s group. The picture was of Gina Tillett leaning on a wall while sitting on the floor with what appears to be a bottle of rum in her hand.

For a number of women and women’s group the issue was political. (Women protest political tabloid’s publication of private photo) But it is also a lesson on what NOT to put on your Facebook page and a lesson in journalism ethics.

The editor of the Guardian says the picture was fair game because it was on Tillett’s Facebook page for all to see.

Fair enough. And there is the lesson in picture posting. (Something a lot of job applicants are finding out as well.)

As for the ethics of the posting, I think most fair-minded people would agree it was out-of-bounds.

The picture was clearly published only for its shock value. The accompanying text just identified her and her position. There was no explanation of where the picture came from or why the paper thought it important enough to publish.

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Filed under Central America

Spoofed certificates traced back to Iran

While not strictly a “journalism” issue this is easily a freedom of speech and expression issue.

Wired Magazine reports that a hacker — traced back to Iran — obtained legitimate web certificates for some of the top sites on the Internet. What that means is the hacker could set up fake pages for Google and Yahoo. A visitor’s browser would have accepted the certificate, giving the hacker access to the visitor’s information.

Hack Obtains 9 Bogus Certificates for Prominent Websites; Traced to Iran

The government of Iran, like any other dictatorship, is mindful of how the Internet can be used to subvert it. That is why Iran has poured a lot of money and effort into controlling the Internet within its borders and using the Internet to track down Iranian dissidents outside the country.

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Filed under Censorship, Middle East, Press Freedom