News Corp.’s Phone Hacking Scandal and the Public Interest

The last edition of News of the World on July 10, 2011

I am now writing a weekly blog post on media in the digital age for KCET’s The Public Note and will also be contributing posts on local policy at 1st and Spring in addition to occasional posts for LAist.

The ongoing “phone hacking” scandal in the UK may seem like a distant and isolated issue considering how limited the reporting has been in the U.S. press but it’s possible that the media is shying away because it hits too close to home.

What’s come to light in the past month in Britain may be indicative of unethical — if not unlawful — behavior that’s become pervasive across all Western media in the digital age.

At the center of attention is News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. executives will meet with board members in Los Angeles this week for the first time since the scandal, which had been brewing for years, finally broke.

Please click here to continue reading the full article at KCET.org. The following is a brief excerpt.

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Tiziano Project Wins Knight News Challenge Grant

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Photo from an in-class exercise at a Tiziano Project workshop on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona this week.

A Los Angeles-based startup with a mission to enable multimedia storytelling in communities worldwide that otherwise lack necessary resources and training was awarded a $200,000 grant by the Knight Foundation on Wednesday.

The Tiziano Project‘s Tiziano 360 project was one of 16 ideas to win a prestigious Knight News Challenge grant awarded to fund internationally relevant innovative media and digital news concepts.

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‘Restrepo’ Director Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

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Academy-Award nominated film director and war photographer Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya Wednesday along with award-winning Getty photographer Chris Hondros, according to Business Insider and ABC News.

UPDATE: Later reports indicated that Hetherington was killed in the attack while Hondros and at least one other journalist were seriously wounded. Hondros later died of his wounds at the hospital.

Hetherington was last heard from via Twitter on Tuesday: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

Three other journalists were injured in the mortar attack that killed Hetherington and Hondros in Misrata according to ABC News. The New York Times is only confirming the death of Hetherington, stating that Chris Hondros and one other photographer remain hospitalized in “grave” condition. Photojournalist Guy Martin was also reported to be gravely wounded in the attack.

Hetherington’s acclaimed 2010 documentary on the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, “Restrepo,” was nominated for an Academy Award. The film was co-directed by Sebastian Junger.

Chris Hondros’ most recent photos from Misrata, dated April 20, can be seen at Getty Images. In recent years Hetherington worked with ABC’s Nightline, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, among other publications. The Liverpool, UK-born photojournalist was 41 years old.

This post was syndicated from LAist.com, where I am Associate Editor. A direct link to my LAist.com post index is at the top of my blog. This post was originally published here on April 20, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.

BP Oil Spill: When Crisis Management is Compounded by Social Media

I had the privilege of guest lecturing in Bill Imada’s graduate class at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (my alma mater). The title of the class — JOUR 568– is Critical Thinking and Crisis Management and I was asked to demonstrate the importance of social media in crisis communications and to present a case study. Well it turned out not being so much of a lecture — or even a case study for that matter — as it was a critical review of BP’s [lack of] response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 and the ensuing oil spill that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 3 months unchecked.

[slideshare id=7111493&doc=bpoilspill-final-110302000814-phpapp02]

Click through to the videos in the presentation. Especially BP Spills Coffee. Riotous, no? But there’s truth to every bit of the parody. While BP was too focused on its record-breaking earnings and deflecting blame, it needed to address the reality of what was — and is — a very human tragedy in the eyes and on the active social networks of the public. And BP was way too late to that game.

The U.S. government just approved the first permit for deep-water drilling in the gulf since the disaster and there remains no known fix should history repeat itself. But our consumer culture didn’t get to where it is today out of an abundance of caution. This is where crisis management runs counter to traditional public relations. Organizations cannot wait to get involved on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, they must be proactively engaging and listening to their audiences. Sometimes communication is the only viable regulation.

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2010

Borrowed from one of my fave sites, flowingdata.com

tourists in sf

10. Asteroid Discovery

Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory visualized 30 years of asteroid discoveries. It’s a straightforward animation that shows planets and asteroids orbiting the sun, with waves of twinkles as discoveries are made. I especially liked the contrast between human and automated discoveries.

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