wemedia conference – live blog of day one

(Note: See this post for information on the WeMedia Fringe event tonight, including VENUE information)

Today I’m at the wemedia conference, taking place today in the studio usually used for Top of the Pops at the BBC’s Television Centre in London. I’ll be blogging stuff from time to time throughout the day. I’m also posting photos on flickr. The BBC and The Media Centre are also live blogging the event (and probably a dozen other people like me!)

Session One: Trust in the Media

Results of the “Wemedia Trust in the Media Survey” (created by GlobeScan) asked “Do you trust blogs?”

S. Korea 38% yes / 25% no
Germany 38% yes /35% no
United Kingdom 24% yes /22% no
Usa 25 yes / 38 no
Brazil 20 yes /45% no

Full results can be found here.

Panelist Nihal Arthanayake: “I’m addicted to myspace. It’s like going down to the pub and having a chat with your friends. I wouldn’t go there to find out what’s happening in Chad… people still want news from a credible source.”

Question from WeMedia forum host – “What is Reuters doing to engage with audiences creating content?”Panelist CEO Reuters: “Currently we have an agreement with global voices…trusted bloggers in many countries…. we took Reuters facts as the base… readers could see the facts… [but the blog content was part of the story, and centrally located in the coverage (of a story in China)]”

David Brain: “Blogging has fundamentally changed way companies engage with their communities… see Dell Hell… it’s turned that company inside out.”

Nihal: (talking about myspace) “Now everyone’s a specialist and I’m a filter…”

Cool conference fact: The conference is currently “taking questions from the blogosphere” (see the Media Centre Blog link at the top of this post – that’s the guy searching and finding stuff). So get your pingomatic working and they might read your questions to the panelists.

Final word – Reuters guy: “whether you are Reuters with 2300 journalists or a blogger…Be clear about what your values are, be transparent about what your trying to do…”

Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com) and Emily Bell (Guardian) were just asked to comment on the panel. Emily mentioned that they often have to explain to journos working on the newspaper that it’s a “good thiing” to get thousands of emails. Jeff… well, I’m not sure what point he made.

There are technology companies at the back of the venue, they’re introducting some of them:

Mark Selby from Nokia – struck by fact that media says “content is king”. It’s the same for technology companies like nokia. “We shipped 100 million cameraphones last year… to enable people to interact and share…” Showing off mobile phone camcorder and TV device. Apparently it’s being used by some news organisatins (chuckles around me). They’re also showing a non-phone wifi device.

Imran Khan from Picsel – “get content regardless of software and hardware platforms… allows webcasts to be shown on any phone around the world”

Coffee Break – back at 10.40am.

Session Two: Leaders Forum (Introduced by Nik Gowing, BBC World)

Nitin Desai, Special Advisor to Secretary General of the UN: “When you spoke abou ttrust in th emedia, you spoke about accuracy and importance, whether it reflects many voices. The word I didn’t hear is relavence. I live in Delhi. I have access to all channels. I prefer the local Delhi news. Why? It’s far more relavent to my interests than what I’d get from BBC or CNN. If the media is to be trusted, it’s not just accuracy, reporting many voices, but it’s also important that it’s relavent…. how many people in a pub had access to the internet? All of them have access to a phone…. when you speak of media in a developing context… radio is important, the role it plays in conflicts in africa is little understood, but also there is the telephone. There are 3 Billion telephone connections… do not loose sight of the fact that the classical agenda for the media, fighting freedom of expression and for journalists in prison… [is still important]. Things that will shape the internet: shift away from the west… china… India… media giants will emerge from those countries. We can’t ignore the fact that there is a whole lot of developing world outside India and China… growing vigor of people exercising democratic rights at grassroots and community level… and challenging balance of power in media and politics. A free media is part of the fight for democracy… (gap)… there has recently been a rise of transnational organisations connecting with the grassroots… this has changed the discussion in the UN… (gap)… the biggest change has been the growth in local communities, local NGO’s organising research and publishing results (on local gov’t)… This is taking place within the context of a networked society. I don’t think it’s changed media that much. You still have a [situation where media radiates outwards, a few major companies]… most important change that will come where there are systems where viewers and readers are far more active in shaping content and editorial… the web of today is far more based on collaboration and cooperation (quotes flickr and myspace… wikipedia) than it was in the 90’s… the reason for this is low cost… in 1990’s to reach millions of people my costs would be 10,000’s of thousands of dollars a month, now it’s hundreds… (ajax mentioned)… we are dependent on a search engine. I sometimes discuss google as the WalMart of the internet… that gives Google a certain power.”

Questions: “example of Poland… no mass media coverage there… bottom up…” UN guy: talks about landmines, did stuff on the internet, then media picked it up… huge impact… low trust of blogs, which tend to be advocacy instruments…”

Question: “is this all destabalising?” UN guy: “instability is always an excuse for preserving power…”

Question: Reuters guy: “reuters alert did analysis of top 10 forgotten emergencies in the world… found 6 weeks of media coverage of Tsunami gave more coverage than top 10 forgotten emergencies… global voices guy did a similar analysis of blogosphere, found it even worse there… what would you do to bring awareness of these forgotten emergencies?” UN Guy: “problem is physical connectivity and personal capacity to use the internet… UN watched blogs about Tsunami and said ‘that’s what’s needed there’ and it helped us send it…”

Question: CEO Meetup.com: “journalist just told me meeetup is a really american idea…” UN Guy: “that’s maybe something we can learn from US civil society…”

Paneltwowemedia Leaders Forum with Mark Thompson (BBC), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Joanna Shields (Google), Akwe Amosu (OSI) and moderated by Nik Gowing (BBC).

Mark Thompson: “fundamental misunderstanding in some areas of the media about the penetration (of these technologies)… you can go to places in Africa where (people are searching for food and water) but have mobile phones”

Wadah: “news reporting is coming back to the roots… sometimes we, the media, turn ourselves into an elite… without respect for our roots. At Al Jazeera, the experience is slightly different… it’s a region where the 5 big hotspots are… media is a matter of life and death there. To report about someone you may save his life. Or you may allow someone to kill him…. we have been bombed twice… I don’t know if George Bush really did suggest to Tony Blair that they bomb Al Jazeera, it’s something we need to know… [Question from presenter – you have enormous resources… how much have you been able to knock down the walls… is it you that is doing it or the bloggers in Damascus?] “we need the bloggers, they need us as well to protect them… the financial backing isn’t the point… it’s helpful… but it’s not the reason behind us covering Iraq the way we did… [others had better equipment] but couldn’t reach out to the people like we did.”

Google guy: “National newspapers today are what the local newspapers were… I ask them what percentage of their audiences follow to the internet… they say 10%, 20%…. now there’s what I call the unbundling of the package… if you want to compete, you have to be the best out there (gestures widely)….”

Timothy Balding World Association of Newspapers: “I know newspapers that have almost captured the blog market… in finland… they run 8 of the most popular 10 blogs, out of their newsroom, in the country… newspapers really are on the bandwagon… newspaper companies in Japan or the Phillipines have captured the mobile market, creating mobile communities, out of their own newsrooms…[presenter asks about ‘bandwagon’]… despite what you believe, 1 billion people read, daily, a paid for newspaper… Rupert Murdoch is investing a billion dollars in printing presses… newspapers, paid for, have gone up 5% in the last full year… “

Audience questions: Daily Telegraphy person: “people com eto us for opinion, if we can build communities around those assetts – audio, video, whatever…”

Presenter: “how do we define these communities – Mark?”

Mark Thompson: “I want to avoid saying we’ll define them. They’re going to define it… we can play a part in that process, as an enabler, a partner, a process in individuals and communities growing themselves. The media that used to be shaped by us… in sort of useful for us chunks for large groups… now it will be configured by them. [name checks google]… For BBC… uh uh… around World Service… uh… Aids, who runs your world… plugging into this idea of grassroots political movements… we can play a part in that. What’s going to give those [things] life is that the editorial will be shaped by users… who will configure, personalise, and… our content becomes a potential resource… creative archive… people can take our tv, our radio and use it creatively, share it with each other…. can we allow the public to tag it, recommend it, share it with each other?”

Presenter: “Al Jazeera, are you a facilitiator?”: Al Jazeera: “[we have plans]… people from streets of Cairo or Palestine talking about their experiences… we, the mainstream media, have a tendency to focus on the centre: our cameras chase people who already have expressed their views…. one of the main pillars of Al Jazeera’s mission has to be to enable people to express their views…”

11.52am – first mention of World Press Freedom Day (which is today) – credit to the World Association of Newspapers guy.

Mark Glacer, PBS media shift: [are you exploiting citizen media?] Mark Thompson replies: “Much of this will happen without us… this is going to be a very consumer driven, democratic media world. if we’re useful, if we provide value… that’s the proof of the pudding… my experience… when we DO enable people, when we add value, people are very eager for BBC participation. When we try to dictate what will happen, people begin to lose interest… if you try to control things [people don’t like it].” Google guy replies: “citizen journalists are mroe casual… you can’t validate those facts… when MSM tries to embrace them [are dangers]…”

Afternoon Session

Richard Dreyfuss: other than the fact that he got the city wrong (“I’m here in Oxford to…”) his talk is pretty good. I can’t be asked transcribing it since you can view the stream yourself.

Citizen Journalism session: They’re showing the BBC’s citizen journalism film (blogged here a few months ago) that talks about 07 July, the Buncefield explosion (5000+ emails by mid day)…

Panel consists of: George Brock (Saturday editor of the Times), Helen Boden (BBC director of news), David Gyimah (video journalist), “Rachel from North London” (Picadilly line bomb survivor), Andrew Hawken (MSN.com).

Presenter asks Rachel – why?: “I started blogging because I went to work and a bomb went off 8 or 9 feet behind me… before I had even had a chance to wash the glass out of my hair, the blood and soot off my face, I felt the need to tell the story… I remember being frustrated for 3 or 4 hours afterwards because they kept saying there had been power surges… I posted on a message board at Urban 75… the thread now reads like a minute by minute account of the day… people concerned… I went to take a shower and found hundreds of people asking if I was alright… I got a private message from a BBC journalist asking me to write about it… I wrote a diary for the first 7 days when we all stood in Trafalgar Square, as a city, remembering. Thousands of people read it, including survivors, who were able to get in touch with me. Now there are 100 of us, all from the same train, who meet up once a month… it was a movement, borne out of the need to tell the truth about… stories of the people, by the people, for the people… as to whether I want to be embraced by mainstream media… I think bloggers are really dependent on the media… when we break out of the blogosphere, there is a sense of either jealousy or congratulations.”

Helen Boden: “Let’s not forget… [the bullying thing, where bloggers attack someone (implied – without reason)] which is dangerous…”

(14.50: battery dead… and I’m leaving for the fringe venue soon, so this might be it for my live event blogging)


The Media Centre has a chat room where people can join in and some of the comments/questions posted there will be read out in the conference.

One Comment

  1. we’d love to see you in the chatroom if you could come in. :(

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