Archive for December, 2011

Newsgames: Put the fun back into journalism

How can we make news more attractive? There are some methods, but one is very fun: it is called “newsgames”. What is it, exactly? A newsgame is an application of journalism in videogame form. In other terms, it is an interactive way of doing journalism.

Today journalism is facing a crisis that pushes it to reinvent itself. Most of the initiatives for creating a new type of journalism are online. However, few bring a plus-value to the audience. “Games work differently: they simulate how things work by constructing interactive models. Newsgames can persuade, inform, and titillate; make information interactive; recreate a historical event; put news content into a puzzle; teach journalism; and build a community.”[1]

The ideal newsgame should follow the list of criteria bellow: [2] A "newsgame" is an application of journalism in videogame form. - DR

· Created in response to a current event

· Released close enough to the event that it remains relevant

· Able to be understood in a couple minutes

· It tries to influence the player to a particular viewpoint (persuasive)

· Points out a problem

· Often implies a solution

· Rhetorically communicates through visuals, sound and gameplay (procedural rhetoric)

On[3] we can find some newsgames that match with these criteria. It is the case for September 12th. This online game has still an impact 10 years after its publication. It was created in response to 9/11 terrorist attacks. Its goal is to make people think on the War on Terror that caused civilian causalities. September 12th clearly tries to influence the player viewpoint and does not hide it. However, it does not offer a solution or an alternative to war.

François Hollov? Ségolène Royic? Martine Aubraïe? Which candidate do you want to embody? - DR

Primaires à gauche is also a game that is worth. Launched by the French daily newspaper “Le Monde” few months ago, it was made to raise awareness of Socialist Party primary. This interactive game has a didactic objective and a very fun side. It is possible to embody one of the six candidates of the election. Although the Socialist Primary is over, it is still nice to try Primaires à gauche. Quite complex and long to play, the main goal is to learn more about the candidates and their opinions. It seems to work. The resemblance with reality is impressing and the game gives to politics a familiar aspect.

Another example of successful newsgame is Cutthroat Capitalism. Available on the site of “Wired Magazine”, it presented itself as “an economic analysis of the Somali pirate business model”. Amusing idea at first sight, this game uses an original way to make people think on a real problem.


For several years now, a veritable movement acts to promote digital games in an ideal of social change. Its name: “Games for change”[4] also known as G4C. Since 2004 this community has built a non-profit organization that “facilitates the creation and distribution of social impact games that serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts”. The games available on “Games for Change” website are diverse and can be played by both children and adults. Of course, we find on the Web different sorts of newsgames. Some of them do not aim to be instructive. They just want to be fun.

Videogames have an impact that other media do not have; by an interactive approach, people can feel more concerned. They have the power to make arguments, to influence opinions, to express ideas. This phenomenon is still recent; that is why we should follow this trend of gamification of the news. As professor Ian Bogost suggests: videogames could be a new way of doing journalism.[5]


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How politicians use Facebook to interact with their electors in campaigning?

1447, Guttenberg invented printing. 2004, Zuckerberg invented Facebook. And we can’t tell yet which one left the deepest mark in the history… Facebook is everywhere, gets involved in everything and apparently, is even capable to influence our political decisions. This year’s Swiss federal elections proved it: even our most conservative politicians don’t reject new media when they want to gain electors.

 In 2008 we called it the “Obama effect”. It was said that the American president’s ability to deal with    social medias played a role in his victory. Therefore, the Swiss newspapers predicted that Facebook would play a huge part in the results of the next elections. They guessed right: last summer we saw our politicians add a large number of virtual friendships to their Facebook accounts. Christian Levrat, the president of the Socialist Party, was the first French-speaking politician to reach the limit of 5’000 friends… before he turned his account into a Fan Page. Oskar Freysinger’s webmaster did a good job too: he gathered 5’000 people in three weeks. Of course, they are not very selective in this “friend-collecting” game. On some lists we can find commercial firms, or young girls in sexy outfits -who sometimes don’t even live in the country…

What do they have to gain? Well, let’s face it, not a lot of seniors use social media. Online, politicians get the attention of this new generation who’d rather read Facebook updates than “Le Temps”. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the first Federal Councilor to open a Fan Page, did it partly to connect with younger citizens.  Levrat even said that it’s a good professional tool that enables us to be in touch with other members of the party and mobilize people. That’s true: Facebook offers many possibilities of interaction. With a simple mouse click, people who can’t dedicate a lot of time to politics can deliver a message to their favorite or least favorite candidate. It’s more spontaneous and quicker than sending a letter. And costless! On Christoph Blocher’s Facebook Page, for example, people often express their disagreement by writing on his wall.

Some politicians that are geekier than others based everything on the Web 2.0: Barbara Schmid-Federer, National councilor in Zürich (PDC), regularly updates her website. But that’s not all: Xing, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube… she seems to have an account in every social network on the web? We can poke her on Facebook and skype her!  A political scientist proved that she owes her victory entirely to her “geek-attitude”. Isn’t that stretching it a bit? Well, not so much, according to a study on the subject: Ciaran McMahon, lecturer in psychology at theDublinBusinessSchool, proved with statistics that the average number of votes for a candidate with a Facebook account was about twice superior than for a candidate without one. This research, based on the 2011 elections inIreland, concluded that social networking will play an increasingly major role in future elections.

This seems more relevant when it’s about local politics. For instance, in theUS, Facebook helped local politicians to be recognized on the street. This could also be the case inSwitzerland, where the Parliament members are regular people who don’t travel in a limo. Lots of citizen can’t even name our seven Federal councilors… Is Facebook helping? Maybe.

And to conclude, here is an interesting fact: very few candidates publish concrete ideas or plans on Facebook. 63% of the National Council’s candidates answered to the questionnaire, which presents opinions with concrete and short questions. But their answers rarely appear on their profile. Some candidates, like Ueli Leuenberger, said he didn’t trust Smarvote because the answers can be wrongly interpreted…  In other words, you can’t stonewall. The website gives facts instead of nice hypocritical speeches. And on Facebook, it’s rather the contrary: pretty pictures, messages of support and a lot of “Yes we can!”. In brief… politics!




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How media compagnies use Facebook

Extreme reactivity. Infinite pool of employees: all of us. A new permanent community of interconnected through Iphone and BlackBerry. It’s no longer possible to ignore the strengths and weaknesses of these new information channels” Said Janic Tremblay of Radio Canada at the beginning of huis clos sur le net, an experience invented by the Radio Publiques Francophones (union of public radio in French).

Huis clos sur le net

The experiment took place from first to fifth of February 2010. The goal: to see how five journalists imprisoned for a week could produce information only with Facebook and Twitter as source. The rules: no smartphones, no additional web sites, no radios, no TV. The ultimate goal through this experience: what information will emerges from these social networks? The reading of the world, under these conditions, is it relevant? Are we aware of the same kind of information as whit traditional media? How to collect information?

The media are rethinking the way they work and this experience proves it. They ignored all other resources and a fundamental principle of journalism: overlapping information. This experience has shown that social media are interesting source of information. Their are not beeing used anough by the journalist. The utility and strength of this technology is in the way we used it. Only using Facebook or Twitter is nonsense, especially on the internet, a interconected and cross-media


There is two kind of ways to use Facebook for media companies. Use it to get information, or to diffuse information. I had a very interesting example about the use of Facebook in the regional press. The Newspaper Aargauerzeitung used Facebook in both ways. For Thomas Roethlin, chief editor for Aarau, Facebook is fantastic, especially for local information.

Interview : ThomasThomas Roethlin Roethlin.

“  We made a report about night life in Aarau. It’s a small town, but it is in the center of the region. So many young people come here to parties in pubs and clubs. We decided in the local section to speak about that. For 12 hours, 6 on Friday night at 6 on Saturday morning, a journalist equipped with a smartphone went all over town. He took pictures and wrote short comments. All that was published live on the Facebook wall of the newspaper. The work did not stop there. We wrote an article on Monday in the journal recounting the best parties, hot spots, or where the places whit most atmosphere. This experience has been good, funny and important to be aware of the value of social networking.”

Jason Huther: will you repeat this kind of investigation?

Yes of course. I am currently on a new project. I have a same kind of investigation about the station of Aarau and its dealers. Some people are afraid and explain there stories. We would like to see what is real in those stories. But shhh … it’s still a project.”

Jason Huther: Here you used Facebook to diffuse information, but do you use it to get information?

Of course! It’s a fantastic source of information. We use it  to find people, get more info about an event. We are connected with the region. That’s a very important point. Friends on Facebook are often from the same area. So, they talk about what is happening around them. This is an advantage for regional journalists.

As we can see Facebook is useful for the regional press, but as always problems exist. Some newspapers use Facebook to steal pictures of people. This raises ethical issues for example in murder cases. The protection of privacy, fair manner to obtain information are central to this debate. Everything that is posted on Facebook falls into the public domain because there are no effective filters. People are not necessarily aware of that. The journalists must be especially careful because they are in the presence of an audience that does not control all these aspects. This is the base of the spirit of journalistic ethics.

With this technology, we can have the best and the worst. The professionals and the public have an obligation to set limits and decide in which information world we want to live.

Jason Huther

Finally I propose you a video that explain how to protect your phoos on Facebook:

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Mediapart, a new model for journalism ?

Redaction of Mediapart. Photo taken by one of Telerama's journalist.Mediapart was launched in 2008 by journalists of “the old press” as Edwy Plenel -one of the founders- likes to say. Their idea: furnish a journalistic work and be paid for it. Like in the traditional press but without any advertising. An economic model judged inappropriate for the internet. Though, it will be rentable in 2011.

“Print newspapers will die”: that is what we hear and read permanently since the launching of web 2.0. Information is available everywhere, at anytime. Ohmynews, an information website based on citizen journalism, even claims that “every citizen is a reporter”. Journalists should also be obsolete; without counting on their desire to evolve. Some of them get convinced that the internet was, definitly, journalism’s future. Mediapart came into existence because of this conviction. And, it is a newspaper.

A criticized model:

Mediapart represents the desire of some journalists of the “old press” to create a newspaper between print and web. Even if this newspaper is a pure player -meaning being published only on the web-, it insists on the news’ hierarchisation. The “une” is still present. Some articles appear to be less important. It seems like a new reflexion on “Journalism associated to Web”: stick to tradition but continue to evolve. The evolution represented by the fact that the website is “totally independant from the State and advertisers”.

Video of the launching of Mediapart, the ideology

During the foundators’ speech, the ideology of Mediapart’s journalists has been put into light: « the survival of Mediapart depends on you, citizen readers ». Contrary to the traditional press and other news websites is not financed by advertising. The readers have to pay to gain access to the articles. In 2008, it was unimaginable. How could a news website live without publicity? Thanks to the readers: a model which was very criticised, and was even judged as “stillborn“.

Still, that was the postulat of Mediapart. A model which is not followed by every pure-player.  -the little brother of and are free and principally based on advertising (approximately 60% of the revenue).

The unexpected equilibrium:

To the general suprise, Mediapart stopped loosing money in 2010 and hope to reach a total equilibrium in 2011, as reported in november. It is not an isolated case: Rue89 plans also to achieve this goal in 2011 and Slate hopes to follow in 2012 -Slate was launched one year after Mediapart-. Mediapart won its first bet. It understood something important: internet does not always rime with under-quality. They bet on the investigation and revelation of verified, relevant and credible information.e. That is why it is now claiming for 56 000 users registred. The ambition is to become a gage of quality. Is the economic model of web’s newspapers found?

We cannot yet conclude that the internet is the future of journalism. It would mean validating the thesis “Newspapers are dead”. Rue89, thanks to its success even lauched a print version. The reverse way can though be taken : from the web to the print. Years will tell, let’s say.

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How is Facebook changing journalism ?

Hi there! I’m Lassila and I’m doing a master in journalism at the AJM (Académie du Journalisme et des Médias), a program of the Neuchatel University. I’m from Burundi. [Yes, I know! you are asking yourself where this country could be…It is in Center- East of Africa near Tanzania, Rwanda and Congo. you got it?:) ]

Let’s talk about my blog’s theme: How is Facebook (FC) changing journalism ? I develop two specific points of  this vast theme. The new “subscribe” button for journalist  on Facebook and the application developed by some newspaper for this social media. Ready?

You all know that social media in general changed dramatically journalism. The journalist is not anymore the gatekeeper. Every citizen can contribute to the production of information through social media. Journalists use  also social media to source information, verifying,  find ideas, collect opinions on different subjects, networking and promoting their work.

Up to now, Twitter is the most used social media by journalists for real-time reporting and reaching out to sources. But it looks like things are shifting , even tough quite slowly. September 2011 , Facebook launched some new functions .In my opinion, the most important function  for journalists is the “subscriber” function. It means that with this new function, people can follow a journalist without being friends. The journalist or any public figure just has to allow this function. The advantage is that a journalist can now have thousands of followers even though the maximum of “friends” for everybody else is limited to 5.000. They copied Twitter. It works like an RSS feed. I do  follow a couple of interesting journalists since last Sunday . You just have to choose who you want to follow (of course the journalist has to have a Facebook account) and click “subscribe”. So easy!

In my opinion this function will have an impact on journalism . Maybe not now but everything is a question of time. What is now important with this new feature is not only the newspaper but  also the journalist. He/she is becoming a kind of star with thousands of followers. The journalist is in other words a brand. A brand that has now to think to the best way to reach its audience on a social media like Facebook with approximately 800 millions accounts. And don’t forget that on this kind of media, people normally read, show or listen to something recommended by others friends. Some articles have more success than others on Facebook. Facebook just published the 40 most popular articles posted and shared on the site during 2011. The dead of Ben Laden was number 1.  On this subject read : and!/facebook?sk=app_271705986210152

And to have next year an article among the most popular on Facebook, editors and journalists will study very carefully those articles which were the best this year! Journalists will have to learn how to write “facebookable” articles. What do you think? Or will journalists be able to impose their way of writting on Facebook? After all at the beginning of online news websites, journalists were told that they have to write in a shorter way. But it’s not anymore the case now.

But let’s go now a step further. Newspapers such as the Guardian, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have developed special applications for Facebook . People can with this app read these newspapers without leaving FC. Alisa Bowen from the WSJ said that they have to put their articles where people are…and people are obviously on Facebook!

guardian’s application on Facebook

Could you imagine that all the news organizations will be only on FC one day? Without any other website. And Facebook the main gateway of content and all the others only suppliers of news. Could you imagine Facebooking imposing to all news organizations the form, the length of an article? I hope definitely not!!! This year , a survey announced  that Facebook makes up 52.1% of sharing on the web. And for Jeff Sonderman, a social media specialist, this is not a fiction story! According to him,if Facebook succeed to become the Network in internet, where everything has to be, the social network “will pull news organizations into its wall”.

Will Facebook put all news organizations into its wall and influence the way news are made? What are your opinons? Please share! 

source :

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WikiLeaks: provider of good or bad truths ?

Using new technologies to disclose the truth. That’s the big mission of WikiLeaks. But is that really a good idea?

Born of the uncountable possibilities offered by the development of new technologies, WikiLeaks created kind of a new way to make journalism. Julian Assange, creator of wikiLeaks, explained, in an article published in “The Autralian”: “WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on.” As you probably know, WikiLeaks takes care of the online part of this scientific journalism. If you go to WikiLeaks‘ website, you will find an incredible amount of documents about all kinds of topics and made up of raw data. WikiLeaks doesn’t provide analyse, it just publish data on its pure state.

With this way of working, WikiLeaks wants to make possible and promote the total population’s information about all facts that can affect them. That’s really the first mission of WikiLeaks.

Internet, a provider of truth

“The idea was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth”, said Julien Asange to “The Australian”. And it is exactly what he did. He knew taking advantage of the big evolution of new technologies, and particularly posibilities offered by the Web 2.0,  to create a new form in informations publication.
Web 2.0 philosophy is to implicate the internet user, make them become an actor in the Internet universe. Julian Assange, by Web 2.0 and WikiLeaks’ website, decide to permit the citizen to become a real actor of the information transmission process. Simple citizen like you and me can send an information to WikiLeaks. And this with guarantee of total anonymity. Somebody in possession of relevant and maybe secret information (maybe not  like you and me this time) can then send them to WikiLeaks’ website. It’s a good way to make appear important and secret truths.

WikiLeaks delight and disturb

This is a new way to deal with informations. A kind of journalism which supplies an incredible amount of raw and important informations all around the world. But do you tkink this is really a good idea? Has the population to know everything? Isn’t this new kind of journalism on Internet dangerous? These questions are actively discussed in the society. And I suppose you already have your own opinion about the subject. But nevertheless, I will now expose main arguments of  defensors and  detractors of WikiLeaks.

First, let me begin with detractors. The apparition of WikiLeaks, its functioning using internet and its absolute search of truth provoked  a real wave of protests.  Lots of people, and particularly governments, denounced the activities of WikiLeaks. According to the website , the diffusion of different data, like for example the amercian Cablegate, disturbed political establishment. This one accuse WikiLeaks of treason and putting lives and states in danger by publishing informations classified top secret. Joe Lieberman, american senator, even considered that “The disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries.”

Considering these arguments, we can notice that the power of WikiLeaks really frightens. Moreover, in their fight against WikiLeaks, governments and other detractors have finally succeed in imposing silence on WikiLeaks. This by provoking a financial freeze.

But nevertheless, there is always a lot of people who approve the initiative of WikiLeaks. “WikiLeaks is a publisher  and a journalistic entity”, assert the journalist Mathew Ingram on Gigaom blog. And according to the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism, all kind of media have the duty to inform the population about the reality of the society. It’s exactly what WikiLeaks does.
The founder of Mediapart Edwy Plenel  also underlined, in  an article titled “En défense d’Internet et de WikiLeaks“, the important contribution of WikiLeaks to the protection of the democracy. A total transparency about the governments’ facts and decisions will impose a good and fair way to govern. According to Edwy Plenel, WikiLeaks participate to the vitality of the information world and has legitimacy to exist. It confer much power to these new journalists on their quest for the truth and it’s a good point.

Totally convinced by the merits of WikiLeaks, Edwy Plenel created on march 2011 FrenchLeaks. A french website working the same way as WikiLeaks.

FrenchLeaks homepage

A complex question

Then, finally, who is right? On the one side, we have the need of information to guarantee a good and fair society. On the other side, we have the fear of putting the society in danger. What’s the most important?  A hard question.
I think that now, the society has to reflect about the role of journalists. The development of new technologies created new possibilities for journalists to make their job. But do they have to use all of this possibilities or do they have to put limits? Do they can disclose all truths?  And finally, is the development of Internet always a good thing, or does it provide too dangerous possibilities?

In my opinion, it’s important that the society, and particularly futur journalists like us, take time to think about these topics. In this short text, I just give a general panaroma about this subject. We have now to tkink about it and discuss it together. Then, you, what do you tkink?

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Citizen journalists: are they useful?

“Put very simply, citizen journalism is when private individuals do essentially what professional reporters do – report information.”

That makes no doubt the participatory Web challenges professional media. People can comment, correct, and add details to journalist’s work; professional journalists are no more in there ivory tower being unattainable. 

As written on this hoarding, you see something and you report it to a great channel like CNN and, congratulations: you are a citizen journalist! Indeed, everybody has the possibility to become a citizen journalist above all if you are at the right place at the right moment. But, are citizen journalists just depending on traditional media and simply adding value on information or describing what they see?

The opinions are shared

On the one hand, many people think that “the citizen journalist provides invaluable information that can democratize media, as well as nations.” On the other hand, people think citizen journalists are simply quoting professional media or commenting events.

A blogger analysed, on the collective blog E-Media Tidbits, how citizen journalists deal with the Mumbai bombing in 2008. She draw the conclusion that citizen journalists were simply providing comments but no analyse on the event. Citizen journalists simply did not had an overview of the bombing and still rely on traditional media to get information.

Are citizen journalists simply commentators? Like this video will show you, the debate between traditional media and citizen journalism is still burning.

But… do professional journalists use their rival’s work or look down upon it?

“You can’t depend on citizen journalists. I’ve got 12 reliable contributors from a community of 60,000″, asserted an american editor. Another editor confesses that they use some citizen-generated content. Just adding that they always need to complete more or less the articles.

Some journalists even do not understand why these people are called citizen journalists. “I’m also a citizen doing journalism!”, exclaimed recently Edwy Plenel, chief editor and founder of Mediapart. Finally, should these people be simply called citizen of a democracy, exercising their right of expression?

Citizen journalists’ defense: we “allow marginalized people to reclaim their voices, to tell their otherwise silenced stories firsthand“. With have seen it with the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements, new technologies help new topics to pop up. By using user generated content, people can talk about new topics challenging the agenda setting of Media.

According to citizen journalists, they may be considered as a rival to traditional media, helping people to get other points of view on news and to reach new topics. Thus, they claimed to follow the principles of journalism by giving a voice to marginalized people, but do they also follow the ethcial principles required to get a press pass?

More and more people are using technologies to express their opinions. What do you think: citzen journalists are they useful in a democracy or should only traditional Media play the role of gatekeepers?