Under medienes overflate: Rapport og kronikk

De siste månedene har jeg forsøkt å gå dypere inn i problemstillinger knyttet til blogging og journalistikk. Rammen har vært et forskningsprosjekt støttet av Rådet for anvendt medieforskning. Mange av innleggene her på bloggen har vært notater til dette prosjektet. Nå har jeg skrevet ferdig rapporten fra dette arbeidet, og presenterer noen av konklusjonene i en kronikk i Aftenposten i dag.

De som er interessert i å fordype seg mer i materialet, oppfordres til å ta en titt på hele rapporten.

Dersom du heller foretrekker pdf-versjon, kan den lastes ned her (482 kB).

Om arbeidsprosessen: Jeg hadde visse ambisjoner om å gjøre i hvert fall deler av prosjektet wikibasert, men der feilberegnet jeg tiden. Siden jeg hadde en deadline å forholde meg til, måtte rapporten gjøres ferdig på mer tradisjonelt vis. Men jeg tar svært gjerne imot kommentarer og innspill, som jeg kan bruke i en ny versjon av rapporten eller i videre arbeid med disse temaene.

[Explanation to non-Scandinavian readers: This post refers to my previously announced research project about blogging and journalism, where the project report is now available. So far only in Norwegian, but I’ll try to translate parts of it later.]

This weekend # 9: Grbavica


“Grbavica”, the winner of this year’s Berlin film festival, is one of those films that risk being put in a potential cinemagoer’s mental category for “important” films that he “should” see, then ends up avoiding, fearing that the point of the film is more giving a political statement than presenting an independent work of art. In this case, staying away would be a sad mistake, because “Grbavica” is first and foremost a story that grows on you and captivates from the first to the last shot. A film that radiates the humanism and hope of the Sarajevo artists of survival, as Die Zeit recently titled its portrait of the city (“Grbavica” is now showing at Norwegian cinemas.)

Complexity and the ministerial blog

Here’s an ambitious experiment from the Norwegian Finance Ministry: All citizens can contribute their views on sustainable development. The material will be used in the ministry’s further work, culminating in a new strategy to be made public next year. The public comment option is open one month, from April 24 to May 24. The initiative is accompanied by a new finance minister blog. All very well, but the launch was too soft. I just heard about it through Marion two days ago (today VamPus picked it up). Some first thoughts and suggestions for improvement:

  • Feed the buzz: The initiative was launched with a formal press release. I have found no mention of it in the media or on blogs. Tip to communication department: Next time, start blogging about such initiatives before they are formally launched, if possible. At least feed the press release directly to as many bloggers as you can. Create discussion and buzz.
  • Create alliances: Involve schools, libraries etc in projects where the issues are presented and discussed before people contribute.
  • Help them find it: The backbone of the initiative is a lot of complex material from public reports about economics and the environment. To even find this on the government information portal Odin, you almost have to be an expert user. And once you’ve found the material, you don’t get much help in navigating through and understanding it. A subsite would have been a better idea, and there the minister’s blog could have been better integrated as well.

The more important point of all this? Digital democracy is complex and requires a lot of care and attention if it’s going to work. Usability issues are strategic, not something you add “afterwards”.

Texting the subcontinent

India has turned SMS crazy, according to Kamla Bhatt. Actually the dynamic she describes isn’t so different from what we have been experiencing in Scandinavia (where SMS was invented!). People text incessantly, anywhere, about anything. How about filing your tax return per SMS? No problem. Interesting similarities, given the huge differences between the societies… In another post, she discusses the topic of mobile vs PC web access in India, and mobile comes out on top. That was a recurring theme at the recent We Media conference as well, where participants from China, India and African countries all stressed the importance of the mobile phone for web access in their areas.

Learning from blog etiquette

“The source of information must, as a rule, be identified”, the Norwegian press code of ethics admonishes. This is one of the rules that are supposed to increase the public’s trust in the media. The web is the best medium ever when it comes to source transparency, but compare the practice of online media with blogs, and you’ll see that the bloggers are much better at quoting and revealing their sources. As Andrew Lih notes, here the media can learn from bloggers, wikipedians and citizen journalists. The hat tip becomes ever more important as stealing the ideas of others becomes ever easier.

Earlier, more or less exasperated posts on this topic:

Breaking news: Journalists discover links.

Online news: confusion and monologue.

Linking is just too risky.

Transparency to the people


Some news stories are almost too good to be true: The Norwegian government wants to make the web-based, searchable list of correspondence to and from state agencies (ministries and some lower level agencies) available to the general public. So far the “Elektronisk postjournal” has been a trial project available for journalists only. The system works this way: The user can search (see screenshot) in the correspondence lists of one or more ministries, and will get a list of hits with description of the content of the actual letter. To get to see the letter itself, you have to request it from the ministry archive, then you receive it either per email or fax (if the content is deemed to be too sensitive the request will be rejected, but those decisions must be based on the public information act, and you can appeal). The government’s decision will give interested citizens (citizen journalists, bloggers, activists?) the same tools as journalists, which must be a good thing.