#Boston: how Watertown changes news media and journalism forever

Today is the day journalism as we knew it died. As incidents unfurl in Watertown, Boston, the people have shown on sites like Twitter and Reddit that they have this news story covered.

NBC news and the like are showing viewers what they could’ve learned 30 minutes ago while news sites like the NYT and even the Boston Globe look frightfully slow and cumbersome with their static front pages and lengthy articles.

While the NYT story is great in the analysis and context it provides (the stuff that we journalist say makes us worth our wages) when a story is breaking what people want fresh information and that’s what’s being delivered by the bucket load by people like  on Twitter.

So far this stream curated by Reuters has proved to be the most adept to the game – acting as a curator of content, filtering out the noise and bringing its audience tweets from informed tweeters with a bird’s eye view of the action like MIT professor Seth MnookinMnookin_Twitter_Watertown

Along with Mnookin, journalism student @taylordobbs and  “news enthusiast” @brianjdamico appear to have been the first on the scene, according to their Twitter reports.

It seems that following reports incidents that were being discussed on police scanners led them to the action well before the rest of the traditional news media.

The Boston Police Department also realized that people were turning to Twitter for information and started tweeting advice for Watertown residents. Information is also being packaged in a way that’s of most use to the people who really need it.

This googlemap geographically plots how the story is unfolding. If you’re a concerned local rather than someone gawping at a tragedy from the comfort of your bed, this is the sort of data that matters.

Social media 1 – Mainstream media 0

How the story looked online:

The Guardian

While dozens of tweets poured across Twitter, the online reporters at the Guardian seemed to be stunned into silence. Or perhaps they were sipping flat whites as they sat in their morning conference deciding how to cover the day’s news. You snooze, you lose people.


The New York Times

The Times’ front page pretty well identifies the problem traditional news is facing. No updates of the action and readers expected to The news does not sleep.

New York Times_Watertown_Boston

New blog – Marketing NGOs

Getting ready start posting again after a hiatus due to exams, work and a month in Grenada (pictures and posts to follow). I’ve had to siphon off some content that I would normally have posted here onto a new blog – Marketing NGOs. I’m not quite happy with the name (nor the header image) but it’s search friendly so guess it’ll have to do until something better springs into my mind. If you’re interested here’s what it’s about:

This blog is about helping small NGOs to bridge the information divide. Through news, trends, comment and interviews Marketing NGOs aims to show small and start-up organisations how they can “make big promises; overdeliver” (thank you Seth Godin for that one).

It’s aimed at all those organisations out there who are forging social change, changing lives and delivering results but who just don’t have the time, resources or know-how to let the wider world know just what a great job they’re doing.

The goal of this site is to provide you with the inspiration, knowledge and confidence to use marketing and communications to shout a little bit louder and bring even more support to your cause.

About me? After more than a decade in media working for publications including The Guardian, The New Statesman, New Internationalist, and Rolling Stone (Italy) I left to launch a non-profit organisation. This site is a synthesis of my experience in media, as a director of a small organisation that needed to make its presence felt and it’s underpinned by the insight into the international development industry gained while studying for my MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development.

Global Innovations for Digital Organizing

Global Innovations for Digital Organizing: Open Data, Good Governance, and Online/Offline Advocacy | TechChange | The Institute for Technology and Social Change.

It’s not like I don’t have enough to do at the moment, but this course looks really interedting. I’ve long admired the work that Tech Change do and reckon it could provide useful learning for my thesis next year.

Why, as a black person, I applaud John Derbyshire’s race article

The eponymous publisher of Taki mag is a convicted felon, known coke fiend and out and out racist to boot. As such it comes as no surprise that the columnists he has writing for his online rag are of a similarly unpleasant vein.

John Derbyshire’s article is one of the most depressing articles on the state of Western society that I have ever read. As I’ve written here in the past, prejudice and racism have always existed. I’d argue if we want to combat it, or even work with it, then we have to understand the factors that cause it. But for all my attempts at objective reasoning , Derbyshire’s article is a slap in the face.

Some, including Forbes magazine, are now calling for Derbyshire to be fired. To me this seems like a counter-productive move. He was writing in a publication for ignoramus, run by ignoramuses – there was no slip-up here – his comments are an expression of his considered view on race relations.

Despite the many flaws of the liberal democracy in which we live the right to free speech should not be undermined. In fact I applaud John Derbyshire’s article because it answers, in a manner far more damning than I could ever hope to achieve, every accusation that black people have a chip on their shoulder, choose to play the race card or that race is no longer an issue because there’s a black man in the White House.

In a world in which white children are educated on race relations by parents like John Derbyshire the, oft used and consistently damaging, argument that we are living in a post-racial era or that it’s possible for minorities to choose when and when not their race is an issue is shown for it truly is – utter rubbish.

Daily Mail covers Uganda’s nodding disease

The Daily Mail is the UK newspaper I love to hate. A typical front page story for the paper would be something about immigrants causing the moral decline, welfare benefit cheats bringing down a once great nation or how gays are to blame for all that is bad in the world.

BUT, they are also the paper that did the most to raise public attention on the Stephen Lawrence murder (I think Stephen’s father was Paul Dacre’s decorator, can anyone confirm this).

They’ve gone and confounded my expectations once again by covering the nodding disease that’s affecting thousands of Uganda’s children. Of course it’s done in typically Daily Mail style with the phrase ‘zombies’ used to pull in the readers. But I guess this is just another example of how the Kony 2012 campaign, while deeply problematic to say the least, has opened a window for the discussion of wider issues that are affecting Ugandans.

via Mystery of nodding disease turning children into \’zombies\’ in Uganda | Mail Online.

When humanitarians, tech and media join forces: discovering CDAC

Can you fall in love with an organisation? I think I’m smitten by the CDAC network. I can’t quite remember how I stumbled across them but I became aware of their work just days before they put on the Media and Tech Fair at Google’s London HQ last week.

For those who couldn’t make it to the event the proceedings were streamed live online. Honestly it was amazing to be able to tune in to such relevant, insightful and thought-provoking discussions.

Pretty much all of the panellist were conversing on exactly the issues that I’ve been musing over in the course of my studies –

1)      ways to make aid genuinely more accountable to the people it is supposed to serve

2)      why humanitarianism needs to take on some of the values more commonly associated with development

3)      how to make use of the diaspora in emergencies

4)      where to strike the most efficient balance in the use of technology  in responding to crises

5)      how to ensure that online data is enabling yet challenge people’s right to privacy or worse still fall into the wrong hands…

I only managed to catch a couple of hours on the first day but I’m waiting in eager anticipation for them to upload the rest of the material from the sessions that took place over two days. For anyone interested in positive, innovative approaches to humanitarianism this is must-watch information and a must-follow organisation.

Boom time for development media

Just got round to informally (UPDATE: and unsuccessfully) pitching an article that’s been on my mind for months.

The piece I want to write is on the growth in media for development and the role of British media professionals and organisations in promoting democratisation in transitioning countries that are currently in the news like Syria, Myanmar and Somalia.

DFID, USAID and a number of other governments are using civil society and journalism/online media to champion democracy in formerly authoritarian, fragile and post-conflict countries across the globe.  While the media industry in the West has been stagnating for years, there has arguably been a boom in the number of Western organisations and journalists involved in delivering support and training on the ground.

In the context of last summer’s News International scandal, it’s hard to imagine that a country looking to abandon the corrupt, nepotistic and illegal activities associated with its past is likely to look to Britain’s media and think ‘oh yes, I’d like me some of that’. Perhaps explains why the Germans and Scandinavians seem to be leading the field in media development in countries such as Libya. Yet I’m keen to find out why DFID promotes the adoption this strategy and to assess how successful the initiatives actually are.

At a recent talk I attended a senior DFID advisor confessed that he felt the importance placed on media development was misplaced. While a “free” press is a great bonus, what people really need in places like Libya is a functioning rule of law, adequately staffed hospitals and an infrastructure that is sufficiently intact as to allow people access to markets and whatever else enables them. This is an important point to remember, but recipients of media assistance are hardly faced with being offered one or the other.

Where the danger lies, I would argue is that common short hand for the achievement of “democracy” such as 1) “free and fair elections” and 2) “a free press” can mask failure to deliver on the areas that really matter for ordinary people’s daily lives.

Ibiza Global Radio app

I have a theory that Ibiza regulars can be divided into those that prefer Ibiza Sonica and those that love Ibiza Global Radio. I have to confess that I’m crazy for Ibiza Global Radio although I do love the guys at Sonica.

It totally is the sound of my summers – driving through open roads with the windows down, the smell of pine trees wafting on the breeze. So I’ve just seen that Ibiza Global Radio has release a new iPhone app. It’s great news for iPhone addicts but what about Android users??

21 top fashion bloggers and designers on Tumblr

Fashion bloggers, designers and brands are all flocking to Tumblr. Moves earlier this year by the micro-blogging site to showcase the affinity between the photo-rich site and the world of fashion seem to have paid off.

After Tumblr brought 20 of its top bloggers to New York fashion week this season, the site has risen to popularity with high-profile fashionistas with Stefano Gabbana the latest designer to join.

A couple of years ago I posted about how fashion was trending on Twitter. Two years later in continues to be the most popular post on this site. But by mid 2011it’s apparent that Tumblr is the new meeting-place for fashion and new media.

Back in 2004 I joined Italian online fashion boutique, Yoox, as a press officer. In the mid noughties, reeling from the effects of the dot-com crash, not everyone got how new media could be used in the fashion industry.

Now online fashion stores like Asos and Net-a-porter are trailblazers, Conde Nast’s Style.com is as influential, if not more so than iconic brands such as Vogue and bloggers are seated on the front-row of shows alongside fashion editors and movie stars.

Here’s a round-up (in no particular order) of some of the more interesting Tumblr blogs I read. I’m looking to add to the list so do message me your suggestions:

1. McQ

The official Tumblr of McQ, the contemporary line by Alexander McQueen offers insights and updates on the brand. Best of all it doesn’t just-regurgitate content. Earlier this year McQ’s spring/summer 2011 campaign was unveiled through a series of entries on the brand’s Tumblr site. Clever!

2. Backyard Bill

This bearded photographer features stylish folks in their own clothes. It’s great antidote to the all the street-fashion sites that all seem so goddamn urban. Apparently the likes of GQ, Nylon, Vogue and Elle think so too.

3. Stefano Gabanna

Not content with ruling Twitter the prettier half of D&G has turned to Tumblr and oh lordy what a treat his site provides. Showcasing a mixture of pictures, videos, tweets and audio tracks, Gabanna has entered into what Swipe magazine is calling “a new frontier: personalized chains of content distribution”.

4. Styled On

Dubbed “Facebook for the fashion set,” by the New York Times, Styled On is in its own words a platform of social discovery for style-minded individuals and brands alike. The Tumblr blog promotes and features magazine content while also acting as an online collage of fashion news and miscellanea.

5. Nicola Formichetti

Gorgeous fashion editor and Lady GaGa stylist Formichetti shares photos of work and play from his travels around the globe plus snippets of inspiration.

6. Giambattista Valli

Rome-born designer shares his inspirations, behind the scenes photos. You get a sense of the designer off duty as well through his travel photos and shots uploaded from his mobile

7. Elle

Street-chic, must-have items and the latest trends from the US edition of the magazine.

8. Oscar De La Renta

Undoubtedly one of the best fashion blogs that Tumblr has to offer. From inside the atelier to backstage at the show to sneak peeks at De La Renta’s book collection, the super stunning PR girl who writes this blog gives ODL obsessives everything they could ever want. Warning – this chick’s wardrobe will cause serious envy.

9. Regular Ol Ty

Ty is the owner of downtown Chicago store Leaders 1534. Featuring streetwear, great shoes and cool video clips. I wish my boyfriend dressed like this!

10. Neonico

Fresh out of Brazil, Neonico is written by some of the most gorgeous bloggers ever. Obviously this isn’t a reason to follow this Tumblr blog, but it helps. Other reasons include delicious photos and well-sourced video clips.

11. V magazine

Fashion institution V magazine is an insane and unpredictable mix of people, places, and things that V celebrates in its pages. The beautifully designed blog promotes the magazine’s content.

12. The Business of Fashion

The daddy of Tumblr fashion blogs. This site gives you the inside scoop on the latest moves and trends within the industry. Imran Amed’s site features must-read interviews with industry insiders and is very strong on technology. Subscribe to its daily email newsletter.

13. Alexa Chung id

A perfect example of the web serving niche interests. The blog ID’s outfits worn by style icon in the making, Alexa Chung.

14. Nova Style

On this super cool and always au courant site, Jillian Hobbs gathers the best of fashion, inspirations and beauty from around the web.

15. Another Fashion Book

As Tumblr makes it so easy to regurgitate content, many of the fashion sites can be very derivative. I’m not that there’s anything wrong with this per se but the end effect can often be samey sites that fail to bring anything new to the table.

Not Another Fashion Book. Run by Antwain, a fashion student from Baltimore, the site features a mixture of fashion, celebrity and super-chic black folk.

16. Nickel Cobalt

A veritable smorgasbord of stylish pictorial treats.

17. Les Femmes

Beautiful portraits. Perhaps more about women and less about fashion but definitely worth following.

18. CFDA

That the Council of Fashion Designers of America has chosen Tumblr for its blog perhaps epitomises the extent to which the micro-blogging platform has been embraced by fashionistas. Great for news, behind the scenes photos and video interviews.

19. Milk Studios

Milk, one of the world’s premiere photography studios, stands at the crossroads of fashion, photography, art and media. The Milk Made blog  features written editorial and blog posts, exclusive photo commissions, cell phone content, and an interactive events calendar.

20. Fashion Gone Rogue

One of Tumblr’s big boys. This much-visited site  collates some of the hottest fashion photography from around the globe.

21. Create the Group

Named one of the ‘Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Fashion’ by Fast Company, Create the Groups’ blog isn’t strictly fashion. But given that the agency has its finger on the pulse of everything that matters it is definitely a site that matters.