How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

Every city has at least one iconic street. New York has Broadway. Los Angeles has Sunset Boulevard. Chicago has Lake Shore Drive. Atlanta? It has Peachtree Street.

And one frozen night in early January, within blocks of the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone with the Wind," Peachtree became more than a street -- an urban rebel christened it as an ice rink.

Peachtree St. Ice Rink in Midtown from A.Nendel on Vimeo.

There's an old saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. An Atlanta man named Andrew Nendel decided that when life gives you ice, go skating.

Videos of Nendel zipping up and down Peachtree between 11th and 14th Streets in Midtown Atlanta have received more than 200,000 hits and have been televised worldwide.

The Back Story

The Southern city that's been known to grind to a halt at a half-inch of snow got several inches Sunday night, January 9. A sheet of ice topped things off on Monday. Icy roads shut down schools and businesses for almost a week.

At about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, videographer and web developer Brian Danin and his wife Valerie were out walking near their Midtown loft.

"We kept saying, 'if only we had ice skates!'" he recalls. Then they saw Nendel. "Wow -- there's somebody actually with ice skates," Danin said.

This was the "money shot" of the city's worst winter storm in 15 years right in front of him. Even though Danin didn't have the gear he's accustomed to, he had his Droid X smartphone.

"It was one of those ironic moments," Danin said. So he held the camera still, braced himself against a street lamp, held his breath, followed the action, and then posted the result on YouTube.

"I knew while I was taking the video, 'Wow -- this is really cool,'" Danin recalls.

The Viral Effect

But he had no idea how popular it would become. "On a different one of my YouTube channels, I have 85 videos," Danin says. "This one video beat the other channel entirely within about four days. My mother-in-law from Colorado called saying she saw it on the news there."

Nendel, the skater, handed his pocket video recorder to a security guard and uploaded the result to Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.

"I never expected this video to go viral or become so widespread throughout the news community," Nendel told me via email. "I just made the video for myself to document the night I ice skated on a major road in Atlanta." But when he woke up the next day, it was everywhere. Media outlets all over the world picked up the clip.

"My video has gone international!!!! Hello Canada, UK, and Holland," Nendel tweeted jubilantly.

CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz closed his January 13 newscast with it, saying, "Of everyone who's ever passed through the middle of downtown Atlanta, this guy's gotta be one of the only people ever to do it on ice skates."

First Time Skating in Years

Nendel, who said his schedule was too tight for a phone interview, put enough info online to paint a picture of how the night developed. He hadn't ice skated in years, but kept his skates because he wants to get back to playing hockey and maybe coach. The storm gave him an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"When walking home I came up with the crazy idea of ice skating on the road in Midtown from 11th to 14th street," Nendel wrote on Vimeo. "The thickness of the ice on the street was just like a pond back home in Indiana and seemed perfect. I skated for about an hour while people walking by took video and drivers on the street were just confused."

People's comments summed up their delight. "Just awesome...saw this on the news the other day -- something bright in the doom-and-gloom-and-oh-no-we're-out-of-milk-and-bread news broadcasts that have been going on," posted one admirer.

"Would you skate over my way and bring me a few things i'm running low on...I still can't get to a store and I'm out of coffee and half & half," joked another.

The video became emblematic of the pressure on the city and the state to clear the roads and get things back to normal.

"I was a little surprised how long it took to get plows out on the road," Danin says, adding that, "the first plows I saw come down Peachtree Street were Tuesday evening." He saw the first one near midnight and snapped a photo -- almost 24 hours after Nendel's ice capade.

Nendel was surprised at how long it took as well. "After the video was posted and then viewed by many via local news, Peachtree Street in front on my building was cleared within two days," he says. "The rest of the street though took a bit longer."

Clearing the Street

That Thursday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed met with reporters at the now-cleared intersection of Peachtree and 14th -- part of what had been Nendel's public ice rink -- to say the city had ramped up snow removal efforts.

What did Nendel think of that?

"I honestly didn't think much about it, due to the video being made just for fun and not to promote some awareness of the road situation in Atlanta," he says. "I believe the Mayor handled the press situation well and the town did what they could with what they had readily available. My big complaint about the roads is all the mounds of dirt and sand now left in the street not being cleared."

Nendel's website says he works in ambient and guerrilla media, social media, design, interactive marketing, design consultation and print media. It also says Kelly Leak, a character from the movie "The Bad News Bears," was his childhood hero.

"Kelly Leak was a rebel, the cool kid, a secret loner, and knew how to get the ladies," Nendel's website says. "I look back today and still want to be that rebel I grew up admiring so much."

And has skating Peachtree brought him closer to that goal?

"Now that I'm one step closer with the rebel cool points earned by this stunt I feel this is only the beginning to the completion of my dream," Nendel says. "So keep an eye open at all times cause you will never know what I might try next."

Terri Thornton, a former investigative reporter and TV news producer, owns Thornton Communications, an award-winning PR and social media firm. She is also a freelance editor for Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly.

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How an Atlanta Ice Skater Made a Viral Video Go Worldwide

Every city has at least one iconic street. New York has Broadway. Los Angeles has Sunset Boulevard. Chicago has Lake Shore Drive. Atlanta? It has Peachtree Street.

And one frozen night in early January, within blocks of the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone with the Wind," Peachtree became more than a street -- an urban rebel christened it as an ice rink.

Peachtree St. Ice Rink in Midtown from A.Nendel on Vimeo.

There's an old saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. An Atlanta man named Andrew Nendel decided that when life gives you ice, go skating.

Videos of Nendel zipping up and down Peachtree between 11th and 14th Streets in Midtown Atlanta have received more than 200,000 hits and have been televised worldwide.

The Back Story

The Southern city that's been known to grind to a halt at a half-inch of snow got several inches Sunday night, January 9. A sheet of ice topped things off on Monday. Icy roads shut down schools and businesses for almost a week.

At about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, videographer and web developer Brian Danin and his wife Valerie were out walking near their Midtown loft.

"We kept saying, 'if only we had ice skates!'" he recalls. Then they saw Nendel. "Wow -- there's somebody actually with ice skates," Danin said.

This was the "money shot" of the city's worst winter storm in 15 years right in front of him. Even though Danin didn't have the gear he's accustomed to, he had his Droid X smartphone.

"It was one of those ironic moments," Danin said. So he held the camera still, braced himself against a street lamp, held his breath, followed the action, and then posted the result on YouTube.

"I knew while I was taking the video, 'Wow -- this is really cool,'" Danin recalls.

The Viral Effect

But he had no idea how popular it would become. "On a different one of my YouTube channels, I have 85 videos," Danin says. "This one video beat the other channel entirely within about four days. My mother-in-law from Colorado called saying she saw it on the news there."

Nendel, the skater, handed his pocket video recorder to a security guard and uploaded the result to Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport.

"I never expected this video to go viral or become so widespread throughout the news community," Nendel told me via email. "I just made the video for myself to document the night I ice skated on a major road in Atlanta." But when he woke up the next day, it was everywhere. Media outlets all over the world picked up the clip.

"My video has gone international!!!! Hello Canada, UK, and Holland," Nendel tweeted jubilantly.

CNN Student News anchor Carl Azuz closed his January 13 newscast with it, saying, "Of everyone who's ever passed through the middle of downtown Atlanta, this guy's gotta be one of the only people ever to do it on ice skates."

First Time Skating in Years

Nendel, who said his schedule was too tight for a phone interview, put enough info online to paint a picture of how the night developed. He hadn't ice skated in years, but kept his skates because he wants to get back to playing hockey and maybe coach. The storm gave him an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"When walking home I came up with the crazy idea of ice skating on the road in Midtown from 11th to 14th street," Nendel wrote on Vimeo. "The thickness of the ice on the street was just like a pond back home in Indiana and seemed perfect. I skated for about an hour while people walking by took video and drivers on the street were just confused."

People's comments summed up their delight. "Just awesome...saw this on the news the other day -- something bright in the doom-and-gloom-and-oh-no-we're-out-of-milk-and-bread news broadcasts that have been going on," posted one admirer.

"Would you skate over my way and bring me a few things i'm running low on...I still can't get to a store and I'm out of coffee and half & half," joked another.

The video became emblematic of the pressure on the city and the state to clear the roads and get things back to normal.

"I was a little surprised how long it took to get plows out on the road," Danin says, adding that, "the first plows I saw come down Peachtree Street were Tuesday evening." He saw the first one near midnight and snapped a photo -- almost 24 hours after Nendel's ice capade.

Nendel was surprised at how long it took as well. "After the video was posted and then viewed by many via local news, Peachtree Street in front on my building was cleared within two days," he says. "The rest of the street though took a bit longer."

Clearing the Street

That Thursday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed met with reporters at the now-cleared intersection of Peachtree and 14th -- part of what had been Nendel's public ice rink -- to say the city had ramped up snow removal efforts.

What did Nendel think of that?

"I honestly didn't think much about it, due to the video being made just for fun and not to promote some awareness of the road situation in Atlanta," he says. "I believe the Mayor handled the press situation well and the town did what they could with what they had readily available. My big complaint about the roads is all the mounds of dirt and sand now left in the street not being cleared."

Nendel's website says he works in ambient and guerrilla media, social media, design, interactive marketing, design consultation and print media. It also says Kelly Leak, a character from the movie "The Bad News Bears," was his childhood hero.

"Kelly Leak was a rebel, the cool kid, a secret loner, and knew how to get the ladies," Nendel's website says. "I look back today and still want to be that rebel I grew up admiring so much."

And has skating Peachtree brought him closer to that goal?

"Now that I'm one step closer with the rebel cool points earned by this stunt I feel this is only the beginning to the completion of my dream," Nendel says. "So keep an eye open at all times cause you will never know what I might try next."

Terri Thornton, a former investigative reporter and TV news producer, owns Thornton Communications, an award-winning PR and social media firm. She is also a freelance editor for Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly.

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Blizzard Builds KOMU Community with Mobile Video, Facebook





Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

I've always dreamed of a time when my community could come together with the help of our on-air and online collaboration. All it took was a blizzard to make it happen.

Mid-Missouri was hit with a blizzard-like storm that dumped 17.5 inches of snow into Columbia, Mo., and even more south of the city. The entire viewing audience of KOMU-TV was home and stuck inside. An ice storm had threatened to cut power across the region, but that didn't happen. Instead, the community was snowed in with power to their computers and high speed Internet connections. They were contained and ready to be engaged.

The KOMU newsroom was ready. The staff is a mix of professional reporters and journalists who are still students at the Missouri School of Journalism. The managers of the newsroom -- who, like me, are also faculty members -- encouraged the students to step up and help out in the coverage of what was looking to become an epic storm.

About 40 faculty, staff and students essentially lived in the newsroom to make sure all of the newscasts got on the air. I gathered up multiple teams of reporters, who were then placed into different communities. Each team had a really nice camera and at least one person had an iPhone, Android or Blackberry phone that could shoot video and/or Skype. I had the reporters download a set of tools that would help them tell multimedia stories about their locations and how those smaller towns were dealing with the heavy snow.

My recommendations were:

While we didn't use all of them, I wanted to make sure we were ready and able on all kinds of platforms.

Videos on the Scene

The reporters went out to their various locations, found a hotel, and got ready. As the day went on and the snow fell harder, the mobile reporters went out into the storm. They were looking at scenes no one else was willing to travel out to see -- like what a closed interstate highway looked like:

My favorite was taken the morning after the storm when one of our student reporters hopped onto a snow plow to survey the bad road conditions:

While the reporters were out sharing their stories of the snowstorm, our viewers were at home watching every link, video, and live broadcast. When the majority of the storm was over, the KOMU 8 viewers took over by sharing many of their own stories about the storm. Our newsroom has an email address that accepts moderated photos into a Ning network. Hundreds of photos were sent to KOMU -- and that was in addition to the more than 620 photos posted to the KOMU Facebook wall.

The fan page was the centerpiece of our online interaction during the storm. A year ago, KOMU had fewer than 500 "fans" on the page. Before the storm, it was up to 3100. After the storm, it was up to 5500. Our newsroom has yet to use contests to encourage fans to join our page so this jump was huge. Along with the increase in fans, more and more people join in on the conversations and share on the page.

Big Moment for Sharing

This is what I've always craved as a journalist working in a regional market. It's exactly the sort of interaction I've taught my students to foster for years. I have always wanted open the line of communication and sharing with my news audience. This blizzard was the first time I really had that opportunity.

During the storm, I lived on my computer. I commented and reacted to every discussion for at least 36 hours. I slept very little.

My experience was not unique for the staff. My husband, who also works in the newsroom, stayed there for two days while I worked from home with our children. I had student employees who slept at the station and worked with me throughout the storm.

It was awesome and exhausting. But the relationships formed during that storm seem to be holding. In the two weeks since the storm, KOMU's Facebook page has only had about ten "fans" leave the page.

The downsides? The amount of user-generated content we gathered was overwhelming. I wanted to make sure we had opportunities to share all it. Our anchors did stories about the content viewers had shared, and we featured the images and video by showing off an iPad on the air. I also had my students create collections of the photos our viewers uploaded. Here's our Blizzard Kids collection:

The best moment? I'd say it was when our team found a woman and her son digging out the reporters' car. They were compelled to help by a Skype conversation during our newscast about how the reporters' car had been buried at a local hotel. The mother and son, who lived in town, left their house just to help the reporters get their car out of the hotel parking lot:

What lessons did we learn? That when you have a chance to engage, grab it. We used mobile tools to report and encouraged our viewers to do the same. We shared, we compared, and we were a true community on-air and online. I would suffer through a hundred more blizzards if it meant we could continue to share and collaborate like we did during this one.

Jennifer Reeves worked in television news for the majority of her career. In the last six years, she has moved from traditional journalist to non-traditional thinker about journalism and education. Jen is currently the New Media Director at KOMU-TV and komu.com. At the same time, she is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was a part of the inaugural class of Reynolds Journalism Institute fellows (2008-09).





Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

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How the Kindle Made Single-Story Sales a Reality for Magazines

I've never seen a "Not for Individual Sale" label on a magazine story. So why can't I buy most individual magazine articles in digital form just yet?

Selling stand-alone stories has seemed like a potential business model for magazines and other journalism organizations since the rise of iTunes. Observers hyped an incipient micropayment business model for journalism. But few companies have tried this model, instead offering complete digital editions and, whenever possible, digital subscriptions. The advantages of that approach are clear: packaging more into the product justifies a higher price, and loyal subscribers attract advertisers. Yet with the growth of e-reading on tablets and mobile devices, as well as new options for processing small payments for content (e.g., PayPal, Facebook, Apple's App Store), marketing individual stories may soon gain fresh appeal.

Magazines exploring this option would have to maintain their brand reputation and their editorial voice by carefully selecting stories to sell and ensuring that they respect their relationship with existing readers. Recent experiments with selling individual stories show, however, that it can be done successfully. The only cloud on the horizon could be Apple's new subscription service for iOS, which demands that the company gets 30% of all subscription sales.

Relying on Brand Strength

Well-known magazine The Atlantic ended its monthly publishing of short fiction in 2005, and now offers a single fiction issue yearly. However, the magazine, founded in 1857, wanted to explore other ways to continue its legacy of publishing fiction, and so recently finished a year-long experiment that made two short stories per month available exclusively on the Kindle. These were labeled on Amazon as Atlantic Fiction for Kindle.

atlantic_kindle final.jpg

"We wanted to recommit last year to being a purveyor of great fiction," said Scott Havens, Atlantic Media's vice president for digital strategy and operations. "It was an opportunistic play to further our entrance in the fiction market and to test out a new platform."

The Atlantic's access to established writers, such as Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Theroux, was a significant part of its success. Havens said the popularity of each individual story correlated to the prior popularity and "salability" of their writers. When Amazon customers searched for those authors' work, The Atlantic stories also came up in the results.

Overall, Havens said, Atlantic Kindle for Fiction "was a worthwhile effort, and it was a successful financial venture for us." The Atlantic is now working on new ventures for other digital platforms, and the complete magazine remains a top seller on the Kindle.

Success of 'One Story'

Clearly, The Atlantic's pre-existing brand strength and its ability to involve recognized authors factored into its achievement. However, smaller ventures can also establish a reputation for quality. One Story is a non-profit that publishes one story every three weeks in print format, and also publishes them on the Kindle, where One Story is ranked 19th among bestselling magazines.

one_story final.jpg

Maribeth Batcha, publisher and co-founder of One Story, said that after just a year of availability, readership on the Kindle was as high as the print edition's readership after four years of publication. Kindle and print readers receive a new story every three weeks, representing varied styles and genres.

"There is not a 'type' of story we publish," said Batcha. "We'll really publish anything, but it has to feel pretty meaty and hold its own. It needs to feel like you've gotten a whole artistic experience."

The magazine will only publish an author once, and yet it still has a recognizable character as a publication.

"Over time, people develop a relationship with a magazine....It's not between the reader and the individual story," Batcha said. "There has to be some way you define your curatorial voice. People want choice, but not too much choice."

For mainstream, established magazines, this may be a major challenge in attempting single-story sales. Can a lone story express enough of an editorial identity to appeal to readers on its own? Editors must select stories strong enough to stand alone not only for their quality and timelessness, but also for their ability to effectively communicate to readers the magazine's distinctive larger brand and "curatorial" identity.

Building a Passionate Audience

One Story also counts on the audience's passion for writing itself. The magazine's readers, Batcha said, are "serious." The non-profit magazine seeks donations and is partly grant-funded. It has also organized writing workshops and encourages educational uses of the magazine to promote the short story to young audiences.

A new project that sells individual stories is also hoping that readers' support for substantial, long-form writing and its writers will lead to success. The Atavist, which launched January 26, publishes stand-alone, in-depth non-fiction articles that are longer than most magazine pieces, especially given today's ever-shorter features. The articles, priced at $2.99, are available through the publication's iPad/iPhone apps, as well as on the Kindle and Nook e-readers. Income from the stories is shared between The Atavist and the authors.

atavist.PNG

"People don't think readers want [long stories]...but we thought there was an opportunity on the [smart]phone to give people this kind of story that they couldn't get anywhere else," said Evan Ratliff, editor of The Atavist and an award-winning magazine writer. "I do think there's a group of readers who'd like to support writers and creative people in general. If you say a lot of this money is going to the writers, [readers] know who made it and know where the money is going."

Ratliff describes The Atavist's approach as a "hybrid" between magazines and books. "We take some elements from one model and some from others. We're taking our editorial approach from magazines. We have fact-checkers just like at a major weekly or monthly magazine," he said. "We're taking a book approach in the way the story is told. It can have a nice arc to it, and it can have chapters more substantial than magazine sections."

The Atavist is not affiliated with a print magazine, though its founders are interested in partnering with both established and startup book and magazine publishers. There may also be advertising possibilities, though their style may depend on readers' preferences.

"Magazine readers are really amenable to advertising, but book readers are not. It's acceptable in one place, but not in the other," Ratliff said.

The Atavist is also part of a new Amazon venture called Kindle Singles, which Amazon says "allow a single killer idea -- well researched, well argued and well illustrated -- to be expressed at its natural length," generally from 5,000 to 30,000 words. In addition to the two non-fiction stories published as Singles by The Atavist, Amazon also has published short story collections and novellas as Singles, as well as non-fiction pieces based on TED talks. Amazon is taking submissions for Singles not just from the public, but also from publishers, making it possible that magazines and other established publications could sell individual long-form stories as Singles.

Choosing and Packaging Stories to Sell

One reason most journalism organizations haven't attempted a pay-per-story model, even in the form of micropayments, is that breaking news is available in so many places for free. However, these experiments show that readers may be willing to pay for timeless content that offers an immersive experience, as do long-form non-fiction storytelling and short fiction.

"You can't just take a type of article or a piece of work that is very similar to other things you can find for free on the web and ask people to pay for it," said Ratliff. "That's when people get mad. 'Why are you charging me $1.99 for this news?' We're offering a different proposition that offers something unique, that reads to you almost like fiction, except it's true."

The Atavist includes substantial multimedia in its stories -- such as photos, videos, maps, timelines, audio, and slideshows -- which smoothly integrate with the articles' text. One Story is also considering developing short videos -- such as author interviews -- to accompany its fiction. Right now, established print magazines have little incentive to create multimedia to supplement their stories, since most print readers won't go online to check out associated multimedia after they finish reading. However, adding multimedia enhancements for particular stories could make selling them singly more intriguing to readers and more profitable.

If magazine publishers can identify stories that provide rich, deep reading experiences, and then add engaging multimedia to develop that experience even further, they may be able to leverage their brands and editorial authority to market individual stories successfully. Other possibilities might include packaging stories on one topic together in one download, or combining stories from different magazines in a collaborative product. Individual stories or packages of stories can be sold through apps, websites, and vendors like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

However, the iPad and iPhone might become more difficult platforms for single-serve content if Apple keeps a large percentage of the subscription price. It announced a 30% cut for all subscriptions sold in-app, which has brought an avalanche of bad press for Apple. We'll see if that deal holds, or whether competing subscription services, such as Google One Pass pressure Apple to loosen restrictions.

Given the relative ease of repurposing digital content and the limitless possibilities offered by multimedia, magazine publishers may have an opportunity to reach a bigger audience on multiple platforms. If these ventures flourish, it will be simply because readers love to lose themselves in a good story.

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department at California State University, Fresno. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.

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5 Principles for Teaching Journalism Ethics in the Digital Age





Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

Our global media ecology is a chaotic landscape evolving at a furious pace. Professional journalists share the journalistic sphere with tweeters, bloggers, citizen journalists and social media users around the world. The digital revolution poses a practical challenge to journalists: How can they use the new media tools responsibly?

There is, also, a second challenge for all of us who teach journalism ethics across this country and beyond: What to teach?

Teaching is difficult because a once-dominant traditional ethics, constructed for professional journalism a century ago, are being questioned. Journalism ethics is a field where old and new values clash.

On one side are traditional values such as those found in the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. These include: a commitment to professionalism, separation of news and opinion, methods to verify reports, a concern for accuracy, and the ideals of objectivity and minimizing harm.

On the other side are values of the "always on" universe of interactive media: immediacy, transparency, edgy opinion and partisan journalism, anonymity, and sharing. The speed of new media tempts many users to ignore the restricting methods of accuracy and verification.

Good-bye Consensus

Amid this din of differing views and controversy, we teach journalism ethics. We no longer teach from a framework of generally accepted ideas.

A decade or so ago, teaching journalism ethics was simpler. Few people wondered who was a journalist. In classrooms, instructors introduced principles from authoritative codes of ethics and textbooks, and showed how the principles applied to situations.

Today, we not only teach without a consensus, we lack an ethics that provides adequate guidance for the many new forms of mixed media.

No new canons of journalism have been written on how journalists should use social media on breaking stories, whether newsrooms should publish reports trending on Twitter, or whether mainstream sites should grant anonymity to commentators.

Mixed media ethics is a work in progress.

New Standards for Educators

How does one teach students about a topic in flux? Here are five features of a good journalism ethics course that every professor should implement:


1. Start from the students' media world.

Be experiential. Begin by discussing how they experience and use media; explore the tumult of opinion about journalism. If you downplay the debate and try to lay down the "laws" of journalism ethics ex cathedra, you will lose credibility in the eyes of your students.

2. Assist students with reflective engagement.
Once you've reviewed the context of journalism ethics, tell the students that -- while you can't provide all the answers -- you can help them think their way through the issues. You can help them engage reflectively on principles and you can provide methods for analyzing ethical situations. Also, give them perspective. Go back and look at what journalism has been down the centuries, and examine previous revolutions in journalism.

3. Insist on critical thinking, not what is fashionable.
Work against a tendency to dismiss principles simply because they are traditional and not trendy. For example, new media enthusiasts may rush to reject news objectivity as an ideal. They may use specious reasoning. In such situations, instructors need to ask for better reasons; to indicate areas where objectivity might be needed; and to introduce nuanced versions of objectivity that avoid the obvious objections.

4. Be transitional.
Teach the course so students can follow the transition from a traditional professional framework to current thinking.

studentbroadcast.jpg

Start with a fair assessment of professional journalism ethics. How did it arise and what are its essential features? Then compare this framework with the values that underlie mixed media today. The guiding question is: To what extent do traditional principles apply today? What editorial guidelines are needed to address new situations, new quandaries? Much of the teaching of journalism ethics should involve discussions on how journalism ethics might re-invent itself so it can guide journalists across multiple media platforms.

Show that the invention of new guidelines is possible. Examine how news organizations are constructing new guidelines on a range of problems -- from verifying citizen content to dealing with rumors on social media. Challenge them to write their own ethics policy on online anonymity or other burning issues.


5. Be global in your teaching.

The global impact of journalism requires students to think about their responsibility to inform a public that crosses borders. In a media-linked world, students should ponder whether journalists need to adopt a more globally minded view of themselves. They need to consider a global journalism ethics. Moreover, we should teach the plurality of approaches to journalism ethics from Scandinavia and Europe to Asia.

Revolutionize Thyself

Journalism ethics instruction, therefore, must revolutionize itself.

> Teaching should be dialectical -- helping students to move back and forth between alternate conceptions.

> Teaching should be holistic -- helping students to bring many kinds of facts and ideas to the discussion.

> Teaching should be Socratic. Through questioning and discussion, students formulate their own ethical framework.

Finally, the teaching should challenge, not discourage. Instructors should persuade students that ethics is worth studying even if there are no universal "answers." Students should see the turmoil in journalism as an exciting intellectual and practical challenge to develop a more adequate ethics for a new global mixed media.

Only if we teach in this manner will we prepare journalists for the future and the changing technologies it promises.

Ryerson University photo by Angie Torres via Flickr.

Stephen J. A. Ward is director of the Center for Journalism Ethics in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the founding chair of the Canadian Association of Journalists' (CAJ) ethics advisory committee and former director of UBC's Graduate School of Journalism's in Vancouver, B.C.





Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

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Egyptian ‘Sandmonkey’ Blogger Unmasks Himself in Cairo

CAIRO, EGYPT -- I have been following the Egyptian pro-democracy blog, Rantings of a Sandmonkey, for years now. I have long wondered about the identity of its author, who describes himself as "a micro-celebrity, blogger, activist, new media douchebag, pain in the ass!" on his blog. I contacted him several times on previous trips to Egypt, requesting an interview, and getting no reply. In pre-revolution Egypt, he was rightfully too scared to talk to a journalist. I suspected that amidst the revolution, while all of pro-democracy Egypt was in Tahrir Square, that he might have the confidence to reveal his identity. It turns out I was right.

I received an email from a man calling himself Sam Adam, claiming to be the author of the blog. He had been beaten up by Egyptian State police on February 3 while delivering medical supplies to Tahrir Square. He said that he got beat up pretty badly, and was in hiding with his family in Heliopolis, a Cairo neighborhood. I got the impression that he was summoning up the courage to go back to Tahrir Square.

I would end up meeting him there three days later, on February 6. He felt emboldened by the bravery of his fellow pro-democracy activists and wanted to come out to the media in order to seek justice for his assailants. He revealed his identity for the first time to Eliot Spitzer on CNN in an audio-only interview. My interview with Sam Adam, a.k.a. the Sandmonkey was his first on-camera interview. It turns out his real name is Mahmoud Salem.

Jaron Gilinsky is a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem. As a freelance video correspondent for Time, the New York Times, and Current TV, he has produced and directed scores of documentaries on a range of international topics. Jaron regularly posts his videos and articles on his personal blog.

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WSJ Series Inspires ‘Do Not Track’ Bill from Rep. Jackie Speier



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We didn't plan it this way, but the timing was perfect. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a bill today in Congress that would give the FTC the power to create a "Do Not Track" database so people could opt out of online tracking. And her bill comes right during our special series about online privacy, which included a roundtable discussion (and debate) about the "Do Not Track" database and its feasibility. And Speier told me one of the inspirations for the bill was her outrage from reading the Wall Street Journal's What They Know series.

On one side is privacy groups such as Consumer Watchdog and the Electronic Frontier Foundation who worked with Speier on the bill. On the other side are behavioral ad firms and publishers who would prefer that massive numbers of people don't opt out from tracking, which helps them serve targeted ads. In the 5Across roundtable discussion, Yahoo's chief trust officer Anne Toth put it this way: "I think it's critical that people realize that collecting data about consumers online gives enormous benefits. Right now, advertising makes the Internet free. And people want a free Internet. And information leads to innovation and ideas. What I'm worried about most is that with 'Do Not Track' and government regulation, we throw out the baby with the bathwater and stifle innovation."

I talked with Rep. Speier today by phone and she wasn't buying that argument. She believes that the technology exists to create a one-button "Do Not Track" solution so people can opt out of tracking. Her bill is far from alone in the online privacy debate, as a flurry of bills are expected in Congress this year. Plus, she does not have a GOP co-sponsor on the bill nor is she a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She still remains confident that the overwhelming public support for "Do Not Track" will give her bill momentum and she is "cautiously optimistic" she can get a GOP member to sign on.

The following is the entire audio of my interview with Speier this morning, and below is a transcript from that call.

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Q&A

Why did you decide the time was right to introduce this bill now?

Rep. Jackie Speier: I think there was a growing clamor for privacy protection by the public. For the longest time, we have operated with the ignorance of bliss, I guess, that nothing was going on. There have been a number of recent exposes that have made it clear that there's a lot of tracking going on. And I must tell you that until I read it in the Wall Street Journal, and their 13-part series, I didn't know that Dictionary.com was just a means by which tracking takes place. And they're using something like the dictionary to identify you and then to track you. I was pretty outraged when I read that.

What about self-regulation. A lot of companies in Silicon Valley would prefer to do it themselves. What do you think about those efforts?

Speier: I have a long history on the financial privacy side of this issue. We've had lots of efforts by the industry to offer up pseudo financial privacy protections in California when I was working on that legislation. I'm happy to see the industry step up, but I'm not interested in fig leaf solutions. I want it to be simple and straightforward for consumers to click on one button and not be tracked. I want the FTC to develop the mechanism, and a simple format so the consumer does not have to read 20 pages of legalese.

How would you define tracking? Because it's not as simple as the Do Not Call registry. There's tracking online that people see as being bad, using their information in bad ways, and there's tracking that's just analytics for a website and not really harmful.

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Speier: I think tracking is much more insidious than "Do Not Call." [Those telemarketing calls] were interrupting your dinner hour. Tracking is an activity that often times you don't even know it's going on. They're creating a secret dossier about who you are, they're making assumptions about you and then they're selling that information to third parties that then will market to you products or not, and then the information is then transferred from one source to another.

It starts to impact fundamental things like whether you can access health insurance, life insurance, what premium you're going to pay, based on assumptions they make. The example I used in the press conference today was I'm the chair of the refreshment committee of my church's bazaar so I go out and pay for 15 cases of wine and charge it to my credit card online. That information is then sold thousands of different ways to thousands of different data companies, and then it's sold again.

So let's say a life insurance company that I'd like to get life insurance from has that information and believes I'm an alcoholic. Either they don't sell me life insurance or charges me a higher premium. Or let's say I'm a prospective employee at a new company and they access this information and decide I'm an alcoholic and they don't want me as an employee. It becomes insidious.

I understand the worst-case scenarios, but what about the tracking that's done to give you recommendations on a site or you get ads that are served up that align with your interests? Some of those things aren't insidious or bad.

Speier: That's why you should have a choice. If you're going online to buy a new barbecue, you should be able to click to opt-in to see other barbecues. That's fine. That's your choice. But if you click on the target site, you know you want that barbecue and you don't want to be bothered and don't want to be tracked -- you can buy that barbecue and move on.

You talk about having one button to opt-out, but is that solution going to work or will people end up opting out of things they don't want to opt out of? Should there be more layers to this idea?

Speier: You'll still have advertisers seek you to opt in. The presumption is that somehow everyone is going to opt out. That's not necessarily the case. It's a choice.

What do you think about the solutions that the browsers have offered, from Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome? Do you think what they're doing is a good start?

Speier: I think it's a good start, but I think we need something uniform. I've been told Mozilla's approach [with Firefox] is one that's not enforcing [Do Not Track] so what does that mean? It's more of a fig leaf at that point.

So it's more of a suggestion. "Don't track me... please."

Speier: [laughs] What is that? What it looks like to me is that they're trying to give the appearance that they're doing something, when they're not. I've been down this road before with the financial institutions in California with the financial privacy law. A placebo isn't going to work here.

I've heard from someone at Yahoo that the "Do Not Track" list could stifle innovation and the way they do behavioral advertising. And it could hurt not just Yahoo but startups as well.

Speier: I'm not persuaded by those arguments. That argument was used with the financial privacy law in California, that it would somehow stifle innovation of financial products. It didn't stifle innovation. Credit default swaps were out there for many to engage in. I'm just not buying it.

How will your bill differ from others that are being introduced? Are you coordinating with them in some way?

Speier: I'm hoping that we will coordinate. The bill from Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is similar, though his would be site-specific. So every time you went to a site, you'd have to click, instead of a one-stop shop for purposes of opting out. My bill is more simplified and universal.

How will the bill dovetail with what's coming out from the FTC? They are in a comment period now, and they'll come out with a final report soon. Are you working with them?

Speier: First, I want to applaud the action they have taken, but we need to give them authority so they can move forward in a meaningful way in this area. They don't presently have the authority to do what we want them to do.

Part of your bill is giving them that authority?

Speier: Yes.

Did they ask for that?

Speier: No. They realize they need it in order to be effective in this area.

How long do you think it would take to implement what you're asking for in this bill?

Speier: I think the technology is already there. I think it should be as instantaneous as the Egyptian freedom. [laughs]

Within 18 days?

Speier: Yes, within 18 days. [laughing]

*****

What do you think about the "Do Not Track Me Online" bill? Would you sign up for such a database? Do you think the FTC should have the power to set up such a database? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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