Saturday, July 28, 2007

On Good and Bad Journalism

I have returned from Paris where I attended the IAMCR conference. In the workshop where I presented my paper on how feature stories might help raise the circulation we also spoke about the recent plagiarism case.
It was interesting to see how many people in Slovenia defended the woman who plagiarized not one but many of her columns. They seemed to find nothing wrong in doing that even though it was not just parts of her columns that were plagiarized but all of them.
A collegue of mine once failed to mention that one sentence of her story was taken from some other story and she was forbiddent to write for that paper for good.
I think that journalists have to be transparent and they have to reveal their sources (either people or written material). However, sometimes it is hard to decide what should be quoted and what not. For example if you write that in 1913 there were three dailies in Ljubljana, should you quote your source or not? Obviously you were not there at the time, so what should you do?
According to Gradišnik, Mojca Mavec was plagiarizing also in her apology column because she used a sentence from Ana Karenina without mentioning that. But is that already so? Should we always quote Hamlet, khm Shakespeare, when we say 'to be or not to be'?
After publishing this post, I have reread Gradišnik's column and I have seen that he considers such sentences from Hamlet as common knowledge whihc means that they do not need to be quoted. Nevertheless, I still think that Mojca's version of Tolstoy wasn't plagiarizing.
However, there is no such dilemma if you plagiarize an entire column. And even less if you do that continiously.
In Paris, collegues said that in their countries they have also witnessed how many people, including students, found nothing wrong with plagiarizing. The collegues, however, have zero tolerance for that and the students who are found plagiarizing automatically fail the course.
On the other hand, after I returned from Paris I was able to read also some excellent journalism by Ranka Ivelja in Dnevnik . She was following the case of Kvarkadabra and I was most impressed by her interview with the minister for science Zupan in yesterday's edition of the newspaper. It was really good to read how she retorted to him - when he asked her if she knows Jana Kolar who according to him is a good example of an interdisciplinary scientist which are lacking in Slovenia - that the same Jana Kolar is the member of editorial board of Kvarkadabra. He replied that he didn't know that. Well, perhaps he is not supposed to know everyhing, however, if he cites Jana Kolar as an example, he should have at least done some basic research on her.
Kvarkadabra, despite being a nominee for Descartes prize last year, recieved the least amount of points at the latest call for grants for promotion of science. Four other projects were accepted, and four rejected, among them Kvarkadabra, and when Kvarkadabra asked for the background information into the selection process of the projects, they recieved a very vague and formal answer. Only after Dnevnik and Mladina picked up the case, the minister decided to annule the call. It will be repeated in the autumn.
And now to something nice. I recently heard about a Slovene band Astorpia and in case you like tango, I recommend their CD Mar Del Plata. Here is a quick intro into their music. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Marjana Držaj is Guilty of Everything

This was a title of a Slovene drama. I was reminded of it today when I read a Letter to the editor in which again it was written that the School of Social Sciences is to be blamed for a bad interview in the newspaper despite the fact the author of the interview is not a graduate of the school.
Similarly, many in Slovenia think and write in their texts that if there is a problem for example in public health care system, it is only so because of senasationalistic media publicity.
The journalists are the messangers who let the public know about wrongdoings.
However, instead of fixing the it, those who are connected with the problem try to silence the media by forbidding employees to talk to them: as it happened the case of the Institute of Oncology. There the new manager ordered the doctors not to talk to the journalists. He explained that he wants the journalists to recieve the best and most competent answers. However, this was already the case in the past. It is much more likely that the new rule is the result of unfavorable, however fair reports on terrible planning, constructing and financing of new buildings of IO (which had elements of corruption).
All subjects of media reports that recieve what they consider unfavorable treatment forget to re-examine their actions. They seem to be forgetting that the journalists are only the messengers. It is easier to blame them than to fix the problem. Just as it is easy to blame the Faculty of Social Sciences for all the unfavorable reporters even in those cases when the school had nothing to do with their journalistic education.
Slovene journalists are commonly considered as Communists, and the school as an institution producing these red journalists despite the fact that the change of regime happened almost twenty years ago and that school's faculty is relatively young. When this last fact is pointed out,these people would say "they are all sons of former communists". And usually it is these people those who were in fact communists.
It is high time that journalists and School of Social Sciences would not be blamed for everything that's wrong in this country. Just as it is time that reporters would not get punished when they are revealing simple facts, as it happened in now famous Case of the Dog.
And that irony would be even bigger, when they should be, they do not get particularly punished, like in the Case of Pure Plagiarism. In fact, some readers and journalists even tried to defend the person who plagiarized her column, and they condemned those who said that this is simply wrong and cannot be done.
Perhaps I should sign off with Hamlet, if I started with Marjana Držaj ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

FYI, drugič

The Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research at the UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH is currently seeking applications for a position as


in its unit INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE MEDIA RESEARCH for a period of 3 years. Competitive salary. Preferred date of entrance: 1st September 2007.

The candidate's profile should correspond to at least one of the following areas of international and intercultural research:

- Journalism/News
- Political Communication
- Media organisations and systems
- Media reception and media effects
- International and intercultural communication

The position is aimed at candidates who wish to pursue a doctoral degree and includes teaching and administrative responsibilities. Candidates should have graduated (Master's or equivalent) in communication and media studies or a related social science discipline. We are looking for individuals with

- a pronounced interest in international and comparative media research;
- a very good knowledge of social science research methods (in particular content analysis, scientific interviews, SPSS);
- a very good command of both English and German. Knowledge of other lan-guages is an advantage.

Please submit your application, comprising a detailed CV and cover letter, by 17th August 2007 to:

Prof. Frank Esser
IPMZ - Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zu-rich, Andreasstrasse 15, CH-8050 Zurich

For any enquiry please contact Mr. Thomas Hanitzsch ( or +41 44 635 2041).


Dear colleagues,

the European Youth Press invites young journalists from all over Europe to the annual M100 congress of the main journalists and media- manager in Europe, that will take place between 31st of August and 2nd of September 2007 in Potsdam, Germany. Attached you find the call for interessted participants and we would like to encourage young journalists to apply until 15th July.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours, Björn Richter

> M100 Workshop for young journalists covering intercultural dialogue

To the biggest gathering of European journalists, the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, the European Youth Press and Herbert-Quandt-Foundation invite young journalists from all over Europe to participate in the M100 youth media workshop "dialogue between cultures" between 31st of August and 2nd of September 2007 in Potsdam, Germany. In preparation of the annual meeting of the hundred most famous European journalists, this workshop deals with the question, how media can play a role in the "dialogue between cultures".

The workshop will discuss with professional journalists and politicians from all over Europe and visit best-practise-projects in Berlin and Potsdam. In the end the participants will produce a magazine, that will be published as input for the participants of M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. All partners invite young journalists from all over Europe to participate. They apply individually or as small team of up to five people with short but concrete descriptions of their media-projects and products to until 15th July, 2007. The organisers will cover travel-costs, accommodation up to food and programme-expenses. Participants should be highly motivated to share experiences and open minded for the dialogue between cultures.

Björn Richter board member
european youth press network of young media makers

mobile (+49) 172 - 311 92 61

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pink- Dear Mr President - Live

In honor of Pink concert in Ljubljana ... for all the presidents unfortunately not left behind

"Dear Mr. President"(feat. Indigo Girls)

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me.
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You'd never take a walk with me.
Would you?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

In case you might be interested...

Dear Sir or Madam:

>From now until August 15, 2007, the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships (AFPF)
is accepting applications from print journalists for our 2008 program.
Successful candidates will report for American news organizations from
March-August, 2008. Since 1984, AFPF has provided training opportunities to
approximately ten journalists annually. It is hoped that through such
training, Fellows will learn practices, standards and values of U.S.
journalism which they can adapt, share and apply in their own countries.

In addition to our general fellowships, AFPF offers specialized fellowships
by topic and region, including business, education, health, investigations,
religion, as well as the Daniel Pearl Fellowships which are offered to
journalists who come from areas that Daniel Pearl covered as a journalist -
South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Those receiving specialized
fellowships partake in activities related to their interests. For the Daniel
Pearl Fellowships, those activities are in line with the mission of the
Daniel Pearl Foundation - to encourage dialogue among people of different
cultures, reduce cultural and religious hatred and create a platform for
responsible and creative journalism.

Applicants for all fellowships must meet the following minimum criteria:

* Current full-time employment as a journalist for the news or editorial
department of independent newspapers, wire services, online publications, or
magazines of general public interest in a developing country;

* At least three years of professional experience as a journalist in the
print or online media;

* Citizenship of a developing country;

* Early to mid-career status and between 25 and 35 years old;

* A demonstrated personal commitment to a career in journalism in a
developing country;

* Ability and desire to share what is learned on the fellowship with
journalists at home;

* Endorsement from the management of the home publication;

* An excellent command of written and spoken English.

Attached to this email is an application for the 2008 program. Please share
with mid-career journalists who you feel are appropriate for this program.
Please make photocopies as needed or visit our website for downloadable
application materials: Thank you for your
time and assistance.


Susan Albrecht

Executive Director
Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships
1100 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1310
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-429-3740
Fax: 202-466-4344

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

When it bleeds, it leads. Why?

The old saying in journalism is bad news is good news. Similarly, when it bleeds, it leeds.
After being disconnected from the media world for a while, I get really upset when I turn the TV on or read gthe newspaper and the bad news fall on me like a landslide. Reading the newspapers it seems, that everything is wrong in our world. However, when I am not reading newspapers, life seems perfectly fine.
I wonder, are these sayings still correct? Should it really lead, when it bleeds? Do readers really want bad news all the time?
In the time, when the media analysts recommend that journalism should turn to local news (and local often means high school basketball games and profiles of soccer moms, not tragedies from all over the world and media scandals involving high-profile politicians attacking one another) and when citizen journalism and bloggers (who again are probably not reporting about one boring political party press conference or another) are increasingly taking over some of the jobs of journalists, I wonder if the maxim shouldn't change.
Perhaps readers want something else from their newspapers, as well, something that help them understand certain things - for example the world of their children, like the beautiful piece Thirteen did.
Or am I wrong?