Category Archives: press

Should metrics and audience analytics determine journalistic and editorial direction?


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The human factor or the Chartbeat culture? This is a debate that has been raging on in newsrooms everywhere (including here in Malaysia)  and the most common argument is that goofy cat photos would trump more significant issues like the Rohingya crisis, the Syrian war, political strife, etc.

Columbia Journalism Review’s Alexis Sobel Fitts wrote about a research done by Caitlin Petre where she studied how metrics influenced decision making in newsroom. She spent a lot of time in the offices of Gawker, The New York Times and Chartbeat.

At Gawker, a large monitor that displays the Chartbeat dashboard (which monitors the visitors to the site in real time) for everyone to see seems to dominate the way the reporters and writers work. (Oh my god! How familiar this must all sound to many!)

She observes that this negatively affected how they would experiment and try new things because they were too pressured to chase the numbers. In fact, apparently, the employees were evaluated on how much money they were making for the company based on CPM (how many dollars per 1000 visitors they brought in)!

This just sounds so wrong, in my honest opinion! It doesn’t reward originality and creativity, nor does it provide a healthy journalism environment.

Whereas at The New York Times, reporters do not have access to these metrics because they believe it would lead to reporters writing more about skateboarding dogs, Angelina Jolie and probably the Kardashians!

However, with all that being said, reporters and writers still constantly checked how well their stories were doing.

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At the end of Petre’s studies, she found out that The New York Times ended up hiring audience engagement analysts to make sense of how these metrics could play a role in editorial decision making, while at Gawker, a new system of putting editors in charge of determining writers’ compensation rather than numbers was implemented.

Oh well…

[Read the full article ‘When metrics drive newsroom culture’ at the Columbia Journalism Review]

Fat Bidin recommended reads, views and listens from the Internet this week


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1. The New York Times’ report, ‘Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, shunned by Malaysia, are spotted adrift in Andaman Sea‘ by Southeast Asia correspondent Thomas Fuller (who I’ve worked with before) is very engaging and a very human story.

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2. Radiolab’s episode called ‘Sight Unseen‘ speaks to photojournalist Lynsey Addario who got unbelievable access to a US military medevac team in Afghanistan. After she took pictures of a rescue attempt of a US soldier, drama ensued regarding the rights to publish the pictures. Classic Radiolab style creating drama about visuals using audio!

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3. I had assigned a very young but enthusiastic reporter Mariah Ahmad to Nepal right after the first earthquake that happened. She was wiling to go SOJO (solo journalist) with only a smartphone and a DSLR. Here is one of the photo essays she managed to produce for Astro AWANI.

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4. Another story from The New York Times. It’s episode 3, ‘A bionic approach to prosthetics controlled by thought‘, of a video series called ‘Robotica’. This particular episode is about bionic prosthetics that can be controlled by a person’s brain directly and we see in the video how Les Baugh, 59, who lost both his arms when he was a teenager, learns how to control his robot limbs for the first time.

There is no real journalists’ code of ethics


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There is no real journalists’ code of ethics
By Zan Azlee

Journalists’ code of ethics is something hot on many people’s lips these days because of the recent incident where a newspaper photographer was punched at a funeral service.

He was taking pictures at the funeral of a victim of the MH17 tragedy when he was assaulted by a family member. He suffered a cut nose and a damaged camera.

When news of the incident first surfaced, many people were on the photographer’s side, claiming that he was just doing his job and he became a victim of assault.

He made a police report and the media also reported it like it was. Even journalist associations started condemning the act, calling for action to be taken against the assailant.

Then the other side of the story started emerging, as it always does. Apparently, the photographer (and other journalists there) was not respecting the grieving family’s privacy.

Now, I don’t really know the exact details since I wasn’t there, neither have I spoken to the photographer, the family members or anyone at the scene.

But here’s my two cents’ worth of what I think about the journalists’ code of ethics. There is no fixed code of ethics practised by journalists. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

The Heat has yet to cool down


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The Heat has yet to cool down
By Zan Azlee

And here we go everyone. The clampdown has begun! Shut up your face! We don’t like what you’re saying! Do you think you can say what you want? It doesn’t matter if what you say is the truth or not, or if you have proof or not.

If we say you have to shut down, then you must shut down. There is no two ways about it. We have the power. No matter how technical or minute the issue is, we will go all drastic on you. Do you actually think we care?

We don’t even care if we look stupid by shutting you down. It doesn’t matter if everyone can see right through our intentions. Does it even matter if by shutting you down we would look like regressive neanderthal cavemen? No!

Do you think it even bothers us that we are showing everyone in the world that we are undemocratic? No! Do you actually think that we care if we are seen as uncivilised people who show no regards to human rights? No! [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Malaysia… standing in the eyes of the world!


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Malaysia… standing in the eyes of the world!
By Zan Azlee

In a previous life, I used to work with the foreign media. But then, a year and a half ago, I decided to go full on in the local media, hence I am now at Astro AWANI. Not much of a story behind the decision. It’s very clichéd actually. I wanted to feel more local stories and tell it to more local people. Basically, I wanted to serve Malaysia (chewah!).

In my opinion, for real impact, Malaysians need to be aware of the issues in their country and in their own context. Only then will they be moved to take action if it so requires. However, news about Malaysia in the foreign media is important because it puts some highlight on to the country and its issues.

Positive news that appear on a global media platform will bring pride and happiness to the people while negative news puts pressure on whoever is responsible. So I thought for this week, I would like to take a look at the different news stories on Malaysia that appeared in the foreign and international media. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]