Category Archives: reporters

What the Public Wants From News Media

What do the masses want when it comes to a news sites? Is it the hard news that takes time to collect or quick jots to keep everyone updated in one place? A small survey was done for DigitalJournal.com to discover those answers.
News is happening everyday all around us, but what is it that the public wants? Do we want to be informed or do we want to be entertained?

Does what we want depend on our age, career or social settings?

Setting out to find the answers I asked 100 men and women from around the globe what they wanted in a news source. My goal was to have at least 1/5 of the surveys returned.

The survey was taken by 25 participants. The age of participants was from 19 to 72 with being the median age of 44.

16 males and 9 females answered the survey.

One student responded, two of the participants were disabled, careers ran the gamut from IT techs, web developers, construction consultant,engineer, management in the software industry, editors, writers, journalist, mental health worker and a translator.

Of those offering their social-economic status three are dealing with money issues and the remainder of 12 are in the middle class.

The survey was sent out to people in Australia, Europe, Africa and North America. At least two from each area responded with the majority of responses from North America.

The survey consisted of five questions about news media and then the above information. I did not divide the survey answers into the statistics of which gender wanted what as the results showed that all genders were divided in areas of division and visa versa.

Participants were also asked if they had additional comments concerning the news media. A sampling of those comments are:

I simply believe in the old news values: Audience, Impact, Proximity, Prominence, Conflict, Human Interest. These don’t change, in my opinion. And the story should answer the Four Ws and an H. Some opinion can be included, as long as it is near the bottom and can be seen as such. -CS

In general, I look to the news for facts. Opinions are available everywhere, at any time. Facts are more rare and thus more precious. And you can use my name as long as it’s associated with factual content 🙂

I Like to know what’s going on in the world and if issues are being reported they should be tracked. I like to have an understanding of what is going on with local politics, arts and innovation and I always love a feel good human interest story to renew my faith in humanity.-TB

Now it’s time to examine the results of the survey.

What do you want in a news source?

Overwhelmingly those who took the survey read the news for facts. They expect their news source to be well balanced and the source to be known for accuracy. People wanted their news to be unbiased. While the article can be short readers want more than a few sentences to digest. They also want today’s news and they want it fast.

The need for hard news is also mixed with the need for human interest stories. Gossip is not something that news readers are a fan of.

Readers like a mix of writing styles also. They also expect the articles to be well written, lacking spelling errors, proof read and fact checked. Readers want to be able to trust the information that they are consuming.

Some of the comments from this question are:

I have varying news sources that I go to for varying reasons, I like quick concise reports and the in-depth reporting that some provide.

Good writing is essential. Prompt news-breaking articles are important too, and I am a big fan of science and research articles, particularly space exploration, of which there are not nearly enough in my opinion

A wide range of subjects, well written, fact based, across ethnic and racial lines done with thought and good documentation.

varied, unique, research based,attributable stories that tell me local and international events in more than one 2 sentence paragraph…

A few things. It should be objective & un-biased. It should be comprehensive and broad enough to include news beyond the tiny focus of the typical western media. It should be NEWS – i.e., however much a fan I am of Obama and his adorable family, their pet dog is NOT news to me. Nor is Britney’s latest disaster.

A balanced offering of daily news from around the world. I want to hear both sides of a story (especially in politics) and have every question answered. The “who, what, where, when, why and how” questions are very important.

Adding context, applicable photos/media and building a community is always appealing.

Most of all, credibility.

Do you like opinion based articles?

Survey takers were divided on opinion based articles with 12 in favor, 8 against and one person saying that sometimes they enjoyed them.

One theme that came across clearly was that people do not tolerate news articles are in reality opinion based ones. They also are very much against articles that have an ‘anti’ message.People have very strong opinions on this issue as a selection of the comments show:

Not unless the opinion is the icing on the cake – the bulk should be facts.

If the opinion has intelligence behind it.

I detest out-and-out “anti-something” opinion, aka “I detest Jews/Arabs” when they are written with overtones of violent thought.-MC

With documentation not just shoot from the hip, unless it is done first person with the person someone who has some authority by education or experience relevant to the opinion, for example like a scientist who gives an opinion on the swine flu and whether it will spread and the political implications or a counselor who gives opinions on why people cry a lot and whether or not that is associated with just today’s stress or not, whatever. Again not shoot from the hip unless supported with facts of some sort. -CF

Yes, very much so. Especially if the “news” is as I described above. I enjoy a well-informed, well written article that posits a point of view, especially if it’s different from my own. How else to learn if your own assumptions and views aren’t challenged occasionally?-JO

Do you want long involved reports?

This question was evenly divided with survey respondents. Eleven want long articles, six want shorter articles and six said that it depended on the subject matter.

Reports should be as long as needed to cover the subject. If they are long and involved, that’s fine. It depends again on the subject.
through and to the point.

When issues are ongoing they should be covered for the duration, not just sporadically as other stories deteriorate.

Absolutely…although it doesn’t always have to be long. I like the idea of “executive summary” type stories, followed-up with more in-depth reporting, so I can choose to read/learn further on particular stories that interest me.

Do you want just the facts?

Of the 21 who answered this question most (15) do want just the facts in an article. The other six wanted a mix of facts and background about the story issues.

It is important to have a balance of facts with flavor.

I think background to the facts would also be needed.

I don’t mind some speculative angles if the reporter has proven he has done his background, or that reporter has proven some expertise. but if they are expressing “facts” that favour an interest they have, I want disclosure…

All news should be based on fact, even the opinion pieces.

If the article has pictures does that bring in more interest?

The overwhelming majority want pictures to illustrate a story with 21 positive responses. People also wanted those pictures to be relevant. While it can take time to find the proper pictures to work for an article it makes sense to seek them out or provide your own photos when writing an article.

Pictures definitely intrigue the viewer. It will stimulate more parts of the brain and that’s what news is all about: stimulation and entertainment-MC

I want to thank those who took time to answer the questions. Hopefully the answers you gave will be reflected in future articles not only at digital journal but from other journalists who read this article. It is my hope that the answers can provide journalists some insight into their audience’s needs.


British Journalists Deported From Sri Lanka

A team of journalists from Britain has been deported from Sri Lanka after they produced a report about the alleged abuse of Tamils.
Nick Paton-Walsh, producer Bessie Du and cameraman Matt Jasper from London-bases Channel 4 reportedly admitted that they had been in the wrong according to Lakshman Hulugalle, the head of the government security information center. The government will not allow them to return to the nation because of that.

The reporters though deny that they admitted being int the wrong. Gulf News quotes Paton-Walsh who spoke the the AP in Singapore.

“This is complete rubbish,” he said.

Walsh said he, producer Bessie Du and cameraman Matt Jasper were detained by police in the eastern town of Trincomalee and asked to give a statement, but he refused.

Walsh believes that the incident happened over his most recent report on the conditions of the war refugees and of alleged sexual abuse of those inside the refugee camps.

Sri Lanka has denied the report on Channel 4 that claimed dead bodies are being left where they lay, there are food and water shortages and sexual abuse ongoing in the displacement camps.

The trio were in the country legally on valid visas and had been reporting for the last few weeks on the conditions of the Tamil people

Sri Lanka has been in a civil war since 1983 with the Tamil Tigers. Since that time at least 70,000 people have lost their lives from the battle.


NATO Issues Strict Rules For Afghan News Coverage

NATO is imposing strict new restrictions on foreign journalists covering the war in southern Afghanistan. The new rules could very well affect the news that the Canadian people will now be getting from Kandahar.
The new rules have been in place since early March. The enforcement of the rules by the US military is very much like what is in place for reporters covering the news in Iraq.

It is now impossible for Canadian journalists to leave Kandahar Airfield without an escort and then return safely to NATO’s principle base.

Canadian soldiers are required to escort newly arrived journalists everywhere on the airfield. That includes the military going into the showers with reporters.

Some journalists have been confined to sleeping quarters when they are not working.

This measure has been temporarily suspended under pressure from the Canadian military. The military has tried to have the policy reversed.

The Toronto Star reports:

“The media is not the enemy and this is a form of censorship – and it is unacceptable,” Liberal MP Denis Coderre said Tuesday.

“There is a public interest to know what’s going on in the field.”

The Canadian Association Journalists have called on the Harper government to put pressure on the Pentagon to reverse this policy.

The Star reports:

“It sounds like the more control they have over journalists, where they go, who they talk to, they’ll be able to shape the story in a much effective way,” she said.

“That ultimately is not effective for Canadians’ understanding of what’s really going on.”

Some of the same rules do not apply to journalists from the United States. Those rules are a violation of their rights under the United States constitution. One of the differences is that Canadian reporters are also compelled to forfeit their passports to the military for the duration of their stay.

The new measures appear to affect Canadian news organizations the most. Other NATO countries have sent groups of reporters through Kandahar for short-term assignments.

Reporters have noted that an informal reason for the new guidelines is that some U.S. private contractors have been accused of stealing.

The new rules require Canadian journalists be given a full federal government security screening, involving background checks to be granted accreditation.

This new mandate comes just as Washington is about to booster the troops with an additional 21,000 combat soldiers and trainers.

The U.S. security team at Kandahar Airfield has stopped issuing International Security Assistance Force accreditation since February. Now journalists are only given base visitor passes. These passes restrict movements and require those with the passes to be closely monitored.

Some of the stories that Canadian journalists in the past covered had to do with the allegations of torture among Taliban prisoners and the lives of refugees who have been left homeless after bombing raids.

Canadian troops in Kandahar are stationed at the air field also.


Journalists car-jacked in Detroit while reporting city struggles

Two Dutch reporters got an inside look at crime when they went to Detroit last week to report about the city and its struggles. The journalists were carjacked near Ford Field.
Detroit News reports the pair say that they will remain fans of the city. Jacqueline Marris, 50, and freelance photographer Daimon Xanthopoulos, 29, are used to being in rough and tumble towns. They have covered war-torn Africa and the Middle East. The story in Detroit begins on Monday on VPRO.

The series will be telling the resilience of Detroit residents despite living in a decaying city.

“It’s so (expletive) sad people have to live among idiots like that,” said Jacqueline Maris, 50, an award-wining senior foreign correspondent for VPRO, The Netherlands’ national public radio.

The two were at a former housing project when they were approached by armed gunmen wanting their car. The car was recovered later that day just blocks from the crime scene.

“I don’t like hit-and-run journalism,” Maris said, “I feel a lot of the reports I see and read of Detroit are like that. I always want to do stories about people and go out in the streets, whether it’s Africa, the Middle East or the projects of New Orleans. We found many people who give hope to (Detroit). They are not waiting for the City Council or anyone to take some initiative to change things for the better. It is those people who make up most of Detroit, not those stupid criminals.”

During Maris’ stay in the northern city she encountered drugs, gangs and garbage. The dirty side of Detroit struck her hard.

UPI reports:

“It’s very shocking. Wherever you go you see the houses that were once the houses of dreams. You see once there was a thriving life there,” Maris said, describing Detroit as a city where “many people are trapped.”


Sex Line Given For Clinton Phone Conference With Journalists

The White House have been tripping over themselves to send a corrected release when journalists connected with a sex line instead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
When journalists called to get into a White House conference call the line was a bit steamy with an operator telling the press if they wanted anything nasty to supply their credit card number. The journalists were expecting to hear listen to an “on-the-record briefing call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones to discuss the NATO summit” but instead listened to a sexy voice asking if they had any hidden desires.

Nines MSN reports:

“A corrected phone number on a press release is probably one of the stupider things FOX News has covered lately,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill was reported as saying.

The conference call was well underway when a corrected press release was issued giving an international line that had been included for foreign reporters to dial.

Toronto Weatherman Dave Devall Will Turn in His Umbrella

On Groundhog Day this year Dave Devall shocked viewers of CTV Toronto with the news that he would be leaving the airwaves on April 3. Devall has been forecasting in Toronto for the past 48 years.
CTV Toronto’s press release of the announcement quotes the legendary DeVall:

“I’ve always said that I’ll retire when I get it right and I think that I’ve finally done it!” said Devall of his pending retirement. “I am very excited to start this new chapter and I’m certain that Tom will do a great job. I hope that he gets a very warm reception from Torontonians.”

DeVall is from Toronto. An alumni of Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program, he divided his studies with serving the nation in the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF is where he began his training in meteorology. In 1961 DeVall auditioned with over 2,000 other hopeful people to become part of CTV Toronto. He was one of just six broadcasters hired for the job. Before becoming a broadcaster DeVall’s voice could be heard by Canadians as Jim Perry’s announcer on many of his game shows, including Definition, Headline Hunters and Eye Bet, as well as in Ford television commercials on the popular Hockey Night in Canada program.

He hasn’t stopped learning. By attending weather conferences throughout North America DeVall has stayed on top of the changes in weather science.

One of the skills that has made DeVall famous is writing backwards with both hands. He has used that skill to draw pictures of what to expect from any given day’s weather. He learned how to do this while in the RCAF.

When DeVall was a child he wanted to be a pilot. He took that love and earned his wings. Viewers of CTV Toronto have had the opportunity to watch his videos of weather phenomena and conditions that he shot himself while flying his own Cessna.

On a personal note DeVall was honoured in February 2007 as he became an honorary colonel of the Canadian Forces Squadron 436 at CFB Trenton.

Last week DeVall was also honoured when a street in the town of Scarborough was voted to be renamed Dave DeVall Way. The former Channel Nine Court leads cars down to the CTV studio.

Toronto CTV.ca reports:

I’ve had so many cards, letters, e-mails, you know tributes, and this is going to be another one of those important tributes to me.” Devall said. “I had no idea that what I did on a day-to-day basis as a job, would have so much impact on peoples’ lives.


Reporter George Weber Stabbed To Death in NYC, Teen Arrested

Reporter George Weber was killed over the weekend. With the arrest of a suspect a tale of violent sex and the Internet is emerging.
A teenage suspect has been arrested for stabbing radio reporter George Weber 50 times. He had met the journalist through the Internet site Craig’s List.

An ad had been placed on the site by Weber looking for ‘rough sex.’ The 16-year-old who answered it confessed to killing Weber on Tuesday evening. The suspect says that he went to Weber’s apartment to make $60 for rough sex.

Friday night Weber’s neighbours had seen the well liked man pacing in front of his building and holding a conversation on his cell phone. That was the last time he was seen alive.

The New York Daily News
reports:

“He and Weber met online sometime last week and had arranged to meet,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “There was going to be an exchange of money.”

The teen almost was arrested this weekend for the murder. After allegedly stabbing Weber late Friday evening he fled the scene wearing some of his victim’s clothing. A G train conductor saw his hand was bleeding and called the police. The suspect told the police that he had cut his hand on a bottle when he was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center. They had no idea a suspected murderer was in their midst.

It would be two more days before Weber’s body would be found.

After having his hand bandaged the youth fled to Middletown in upstate New York. He had hoped to hide out at a friend’s home.

When the suspect was arrived late Tuesday night he was still wearing George Weber’s clothing. In his possession was a dagger but it was not the murder weapon.

On Sunday morning he has found stabbed to death in his apartment. Wounds on his hands show that he had tried to fight back as he was being stabbed to death.

It’s unclear if George Weber knew what he was getting himself into. Had he checked the suspect’s MySpace page he would have seen a young man who called himself “Extremist, an Anarchist, a Sadomasochist” and said he enjoyed “long conversations, drinking, bike riding, hanging out.” He would have also read a warning: “If you disrespect me then I will f—–g break your neck.”

The suspect, John Katehis, 16, was charged as an adult with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon at an arraignment held Wednesday evening. He is being held without bail.

CBS 4 reports:

“Maybe he didn’t know he was 16 because on the internet you don’t always know the age,” said neighbor Therea Muscianesi. “It’s very sad for everyone.”

“It’s someone he brought here. I’m just relieved it’s not a crazy person here in the neighborhood,” said neighbor Laura Bloom.

A memorial service for Mr. Weber was held Wednesday evening at his home. Friends and family had gone beforehand to the pub Angry Wade’s to toast their loved one.