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Technical problem curtails blogging

A decision to go broadband at the flat I use when working in London has curtailed my blogging this week. First, my ISP, OneTel, sent the wrong username and password. Of course, I thought, for a considerable time, I was doing something wrong.

Then I decided that as the other six Wi-Fi networks within range were encrypted, I should do the same. Something went wrong and the router had to be reverted to factory setting and the computer operating system reinstalled.

All is working fine now and it is good to be able to check my emails and favourite web pages on my Palm without even getting out of bed.

‘Black’ Kate Moss brings backlash

Editing by gimmick has its dangers as Simon Kelner found out this week when he handed the paper over to “guest designer” Giorgio Armani. The result of the worthy second Red edition to highlight HIV/Aids in Africa has been controversy over the picture of a blacked-up Kate Moss.

Kelner, the paper’s editor-in-chief must be reflecting on his words of a week before: “Giorgio Armani will bring his own, highly distinctive view of the world, and his unique creative vision to the pages of the newspaper, and there promise to be some spectacular visual treats.”

Certainly a spectacular visual but many did not regard it as a treat. Sunny Hundal, editor of Asians in Media, writing in the Pickled Politics blog said the edition was an “absolute travesty”. He went on: “Could they not find a black model to represent Africa? A lame and typical example of liberal guilt “we-feel-sorry-for-you” racism. It would have been better for the Indy to not even bother.”

The attack was led by Hannah Pool in Friday’s Guardian. She is a black journalist who writes about make-up among other things, not a woman who rails at every perceived infringement of political correctness. She wrote:

What exactly is this picture of Moss-as-African-woman supposed to portray? I suppose it is meant to be subversive, but what does it say about race today when a quality newspaper decides that its readers will only relate to Africa through a blacked-up white model rather than a real-life black woman? What does it say about the fight against HIV/Aids if that is the only way to make us care? And, as a black woman (born that way), what does this trick say about me?

It is almost 30 years ago that the BBC took off its long-running Black and White Minstrel Show. And that was too late according to many at the time.

Back copies of The (Red) Independent including a “free” Kate Moss poster are available at £10 from read4charity.

'Black' Kate Moss brings backlash

Editing by gimmick has its dangers as Simon Kelner found out this week when he handed the paper over to “guest designer” Giorgio Armani. The result of the worthy second Red edition to highlight HIV/Aids in Africa has been controversy over the picture of a blacked-up Kate Moss.

Kelner, the paper’s editor-in-chief must be reflecting on his words of a week before: “Giorgio Armani will bring his own, highly distinctive view of the world, and his unique creative vision to the pages of the newspaper, and there promise to be some spectacular visual treats.”

Certainly a spectacular visual but many did not regard it as a treat. Sunny Hundal, editor of Asians in Media, writing in the Pickled Politics blog said the edition was an “absolute travesty”. He went on: “Could they not find a black model to represent Africa? A lame and typical example of liberal guilt “we-feel-sorry-for-you” racism. It would have been better for the Indy to not even bother.”

The attack was led by Hannah Pool in Friday’s Guardian. She is a black journalist who writes about make-up among other things, not a woman who rails at every perceived infringement of political correctness. She wrote:

What exactly is this picture of Moss-as-African-woman supposed to portray? I suppose it is meant to be subversive, but what does it say about race today when a quality newspaper decides that its readers will only relate to Africa through a blacked-up white model rather than a real-life black woman? What does it say about the fight against HIV/Aids if that is the only way to make us care? And, as a black woman (born that way), what does this trick say about me?

It is almost 30 years ago that the BBC took off its long-running Black and White Minstrel Show. And that was too late according to many at the time.

Back copies of The (Red) Independent including a “free” Kate Moss poster are available at £10 from read4charity.

‘Anyone been raped and speak English?’ syndrome lives

The story, I hope apocryphal, of the TV crew who went to a group of refugees in Africa and asked: “Has anyone here been raped and speak English?” has long illustrated complaints of insensitive journalism. A report in The Independent today about a magazine writer seeking photogenic war widows runs it pretty close.

According to The Indy, a freelance reporter working for Glamour magazine sent an email to Military Families Against the War, seeking women, aged between 30 and 38, whose husband had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. In part it read:

Glamour is very looks-conscious so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they need to be photogenic, or at least comfortable in front of a camera! The editor likes to approve each case history, so when I send her a short bio (“X is aged X and lost her husband X in the war X”) she likes to see a jpeg pic too. I know this is a big ask, but it’s something she demands! Hey ho!

Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour, said she was “outraged and sorry”.

There is no denial in the report that she asked to see the pix before approving the women to be included. If that is the case, I hope her “outrage” extends to herself.

'Anyone been raped and speak English?' syndrome lives

The story, I hope apocryphal, of the TV crew who went to a group of refugees in Africa and asked: “Has anyone here been raped and speak English?” has long illustrated complaints of insensitive journalism. A report in The Independent today about a magazine writer seeking photogenic war widows runs it pretty close.

According to The Indy, a freelance reporter working for Glamour magazine sent an email to Military Families Against the War, seeking women, aged between 30 and 38, whose husband had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. In part it read:

Glamour is very looks-conscious so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they need to be photogenic, or at least comfortable in front of a camera! The editor likes to approve each case history, so when I send her a short bio (“X is aged X and lost her husband X in the war X”) she likes to see a jpeg pic too. I know this is a big ask, but it’s something she demands! Hey ho!

Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour, said she was “outraged and sorry”.

There is no denial in the report that she asked to see the pix before approving the women to be included. If that is the case, I hope her “outrage” extends to herself.

Airing conspiracy theories

Journalists have long been careful about reporting conspiracy theories and the BBC’s Newsnight blog looked at this on Monday. The post said: “As the internet takes over the media mainstream, conspiracy theory (CT) journalism is getting a much wider airing than it ever used to, whereas the official version (OV) is no longer shifting copy like it did.”

Controversial stuff and so it has proved with 393 comments by 10.40 this morning. I will look at the issue when I have had time to read through them.

Open source reporting experiment gets boost from Reuters

NewAssignment.net, an experiment to bring together professional and amateur journalists to produce investigative stories, is getting a boost, and greater credibility, with a $100,000 donation from Reuters.

The money will pay the wages of an editor who will start work early next year. The project is to create open source journalism where “people collaborate peer-to-peer in the production of editorial goods”.

Jay Rosen, associate professor at the New York University department of journalism, whose idea NewAssignment.net is, chose to announce the big donation in the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog as well as his own PressThink. NewAssisgnment.net has its own blog.

The idea is that by bringing the skills of professional journalists together with the interest and determination of non-journalists it should be able to dig deeper into chosen stories. Rosen sees it as “an editorial engine anchored in civil society itself, rather than the media industry or journalism profession. As today’s announcement shows, New Assignment can be on friendly terms with Big Media, which it is is not trying to destroy or supplant.”

There have been smaller donations previously including one of $10,000 from Craig Newmark of Craigslist which I mentioned back in June.

Tabloid profits online

A profit margin of 26.6% is good for any media business, but this is the figure for the online media offshoot of a tabloid newspaper. Kristine Lowe has the story from Norway that more people now read Dagbladet online than on paper. And the online offshoot DB Medialab is the sixth most profitable media business in the country.

British editor allowed to stay in Bahamas

John Marquis, the British editor of The Tribune in the Bahamas, is to be allowed to stay in his job after a long fight to get his work permit renewed.

Some politicians led by the foreign minister Fred Mitchell wanted him out because of his “insulting comments” about members of the government. Hold the Front Page has the story.

John, a former colleague of mine at the Evening Echo in Hemel Hempstead, has always been a robust and colourful journalist. I hope he continues to ruffle feathers.

Burton evening dips toe into morning distribution

I hope that morning publication of the Burton Mail works out for Staffordshire Newspapers, the small Midlands group that owns the town’s daily. Yesterday it began a month-long experiment after testing morning publications on Thursdays for the past few weeks.

Editor Paul Hazeldine told Hold the Front Page sales on Thursdays have been consistently up so we “are taking it up for a month.” With sales of 15,700 the Burton Mail is one of the smallest dailies in the country and I really do hope this is successful.

But, and this must be the love of hard and fast news coursing in my blood, I cannot see it as a long-term solution to declining sales. In part it must seem attractive because the deadline for evening publication has been 11.15 am (suiting distribution better than news coverage) which gives them barely time to pick up stories from the morning calls to the police, ambulance and fire services.

It is too early to get same-day court copy into the paper or to really follow-up on anything. So 6.30pm deadline means that quite a lot of news will get to readers more quickly.

But a lot of important local stories break in the late evening. Council and other community meetings tend to take place in the evenings which is also the time when it is easier to contact many people.

This means that a lot of important news in Burton-on-Trent will be 36-hours old before it is in the local daily. If it is a really big story the townsfolk will be able to read it in the nationals a full 24-hours before it is in their local.

Meanwhile, not that far away in Birmingham, National Union of Journalist members on the Mail believe Trinity Mirror wants to turn the evening for one of the country’s largest cities into a morning. A puzzle this, as Trinity Mirror also owns the city’s ailing morning, the Birmingham Post.

But the editorial executives at the Mail have also been putting a lot of effort recently into stressing the importance of getting late news into the Mail.