POLIS, journalism and society think tank, is a joint initiative from LSE and The London College of Communication.

“Stop Reading Stuff!” Information overload and media literacy

March 20th, 2010
Media Literacy is a boring phrase to describe an exciting issue. When we held a debate on it tempers became frayed, passions ran high and voice were raised in a way that is usually associated with hot political topics. Why?
Polis in the pub

Polis in the pub

It’s because there are a lot of people out there who think that the new communications tools are revolutionising our lives in wonderful ways. There are also a lot of people who feel disturbed, excluded, threatened and even abused by the process. This is not the old Geek versus Dinosaur argument. This is a much more interesting debate about how human beings fit into media change.

Ben Hammersley from Wired UK fired everyone up by scorning the moaning minnies who complain about ‘information overload’. “Stop reading stuff!” said Ben. You don’t ban alcohol because of alcoholics, so learn to use media in moderation.

But David ‘Information Is Beautiful’ McCandless was much less sanguine. When he asked the audience on a show of hands, about half felt they were drowing in data, despite being a generally media-savvy, intelligent bunch of people. Read the rest of this entry »

When journalists go online: ethical challenges for news and social media

March 19th, 2010
This report on the Polis/PCC seminar is by Polis Researcher Hibah Hussain.
Gibson and Abell

Gibson and Abell

The meteoric rise of social networks and micro-blogging platforms raises important new ethical and practical questions for journalists and policy makers. A special panel sponsored by Polis and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) brought together experts from journalism, the legal field, academia, and regulatory bodies to explore challenges and best practices concerning journalism and social media.
Chaired by Charlie Beckett, Director of Polis, the discussion began with case studies from Stephen Abell, Director of the PCC and included statements from Janine Gibson (editor, Guardian Online), Anna Doble (litigation specialist, Wiggin LLP), Torin Douglas (Media Correspondent, BBC), Jeremy Olivier (Head of Multimedia, Ofcom), and Professor Ian Walden (Professor of Communications Law, Queen Mary, University of London and PCC public Commissioner).
Opening the evening’s discussion, Stephen Abell emphasized the need to strike a balance between protecting privacy and upholding freedom of expression. Abell pointed to a case in which a local newspaper used footage from YouTube to illustrate some of the thorny situations that arise from the growing popularity of social media.
He highlighted some of the PCC’s principles regarding information from social networking sites that used publicly by journalists.  “The basic principles that we operate under in these situations are varied,” Abell noted: Read the rest of this entry »

Basil Brush the BBC and bias

March 19th, 2010
Socialist stooge?

Socialist stooge?

The Conservative-supporting Sun newspaper attacking the BBC for bias against the Tories is as unsurprising as daffodils in Springtime. The latest ‘analysis’ from Britain’s top tabloid has some credence - but not much.

Yes, of course, the BBC is generally staffed by liberal-leaning folk as are most media organisations. The BBC strives painfully to adjust for that. So as Evan Davies told a Polis audience, the Daily Mail is the most-read and attended-to newspaper in the Today Programme newsroom.

Here are The Sun charges: Read the rest of this entry »

Editorial Diversity: Quality Networked Journalism

March 15th, 2010

This is a second draft extract from a paper I am writing on the idea of ‘Quality’ in Networked Journalism. Read Part One here. Comments more than welcome!

Networked Journalism creates ‘quality’ by adding value to news in three ways.

1. Editorial diversity: it creates more substantial and varied news

2. Connectivity and Interactivity: it distributes news in different ways

3. Relevance: it relates to audiences and subjects in ways that create new ethical and editorial relationships to news

Public participation through networked journalism also adds economic value to the news media in the sense that the contribution of the public literally creates content – usually for free – from the citizen. Journalism must be one of the few industries where the consumer volunteers material and services to the producer.

A network of quality?

A network of quality?

Counter-intuitively, the abundance of disintermediated information may also give quality networked journalism a market advantage. The plethora of data sources and competing platforms and outlets means there will be a premium (or ‘freemium’) for authoritative and trustworthy curating and filtering of news. The demand for transparent and relevant mediation will increase. Networked Journalism as a kind of intelligent and pro-active engine will create quality by adding value to search. BBC News Online, for example, has already become a kind of global topical reference work. Read the rest of this entry »

What Is Quality In Networked Journalism?

March 12th, 2010

This is a rough draft of an article I am writing on the idea of ‘quality’ in journalism in the digital, Internet, Networked Age. Outdated concept or vital idea? These are my opening and unfinished thoughts.

Quality News?Essentially, the traditional mainstream media definition of quality was a mixture of cultural and political or class assumptions. Quality journalism was for quality people: educated, opinionated, influential, responsible, concerned and powerful. Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Kashi and the Third Frame: NGOs and Photography Conference Report

March 10th, 2010


Talking Third Frame

Talking Third Frame

There is a crisis in the use of photography by NGOs, but that crisis is producing a flowering of creative practice and thoughts.

 That’s my impression after a packed day talking imagery and compassion at UAL’s Paul Lowe’s Third Frame Conference,  put on with Polis at the London College of Communication.


Here’s the problem. NGOs like Save The Children or Water Aid want to raise money and consciousness about development, Human Rights  and economic oppression. They also want to do it in a way that empowers the subjects of injustice. They want to be democratic in the way that they try to change the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Election ‘10: the media matters but which media?

March 6th, 2010


Messing With Media

Messing With Media

Whose election is this? That was the question I am left with at the end of a fascinating week where I have heard directly from a top Labour campaign strategist, Welsh voters, and LSE political pundits. If you believe the mainstream media it is in the hands of the spin doctors and journalists. The pollsters and professors say it’s ‘motorway man’ in the marginals. I am not so sure

  Read the rest of this entry »

How Labour Will Win With Old TV & New Media (Says Douglas Alexander)

March 2nd, 2010

douglasalexanderA combination of new and very traditional media could yet win the election for Labour, according to one of their key campaign strategists, Douglas Alexander MP.

Speaking at the LSE to Political Communications students just minutes after the ink was dry on a deal for Election TV Debates, Alexander was bubbling with  a sense that this election is still up for grabs. For a campaigner who has known brutal defeat (Dukakis 1988) as well as epochal triumph (Blair 1997) this is a novel battleground, but one that he refuses to surrender. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Natives and Media Literacy: New Report

February 27th, 2010

Not the digital youth

Not the digital youth

This is my introduction to a series of papers on the subject of the ‘myth of digital natives’. They were given at a Polis event last autumn, you can read them in full here. They attempt to dispel the idea that young people of the Internet generation are naturally gifted at using online resources and seek to find ways to enhance everyone’s ability to benefit from digital communications.

Myths can be useful ways for societies to tell stories about themselves. They can help us preserve our values and cope with change. So the idea that young people are particularly, even naturally adept at using new media technologies is comforting and perhaps even exciting. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Internet Screwing Up Our Kids?

February 27th, 2010

Media researcher Wadi Hassan has made a charming and thoughtful video about two children from the next century discovering how the Internet changed their minds - as predicted in a rather alarming speech by scientist Susan Greenfield.

Clay Nicholls from Dadlabs speaks in defence of the Net and Video games, while I muse about being part of the television generation.

Judge for yourself with the video, but my (incredibly ill-informed) opinion is that any effects are related to behaviour and so are more of habit than biological or chemical. In other words, media consumption certainly impacts on us as social beings and so we can choose to change the impacts and effects. And often we will make more creative results out of these influences.

  • Charlie Beckett

  • Saving Journalism

    SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World

    "Read it, and act!"
    Jon Snow, Channel 4 News

    SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World by Polis Director, Charlie Beckett is the first detailed manifesto for "Networked Journalism" based on Polis research and debates.

    SuperMedia surveys the new media landscape, outlines the crisis facing journalism and the opportunities on offer for a radical new relationship between the media and the public.

    read more

  • POLIS Website

    POLIS is a joint initiative from LSE and the London College of Communication aimed at working journalists, people in public life and students in the UK and around the world. POLIS is the place where journalists and the wider world can examine and discuss the media and its impact on society.

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