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    April 27, 2012, 10 a.m.

    This Week in Review: Rupert takes the stand, and the Post’s pressure on young aggregators

    Plus: The debate over technology and loneliness, journalism lessons from academics and news orgs, and the rest of the week’s media/tech stories.

    Fresh accusations and denials for News Corp.: After several months of investigation, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, testified this week before the British government’s Leveson inquiry into their company’s phone hacking and bribery scandal. Rupert made headlines by for his lack of action to stop the scandal and by — though he said he was the victim of his underlings’ cover-up, not a perpetrator himself (a charge one of those underlings ).

    Murdoch also by closing his News of the World newspaper last year, but said he should have done so years earlier. He spent the first day of his testimony against charges of lobbying public officials for favors, saying former Prime Minister Gordon Brown on News Corp., which . James Murdoch also testified to a of the scandal and with officials.

    Attention in that area quickly to British Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, with emails released to show that he last year for its bid to takeover the broadcaster BSkyB — the same bid he was charged with overseeing. Hunt and refused calls to resign, though one of his aides did , saying his contact with News Corp. “went too far.”

    The commentary on Murdoch’s appearance was, perhaps surprisingly, mixed. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Murdoch apparently walked in his currying favor from public officials, and the Guardian’s Nick Davies said Murdoch : “The man who has made millions out of paying people to ask difficult questions, finally faced questioners he could not cope with.” He antagonized quite a few powerful people in his testimony, Davies said, and the Leveson inquiry ultimately holds the cards here.

    But Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff said Rupert to gain officials’ favor in the way he’s accused of doing, and Reuters’ Jack Shafer argued that there’s with lobbying regulators to approve your proposals anyway. “Don’t damn Murdoch for learning the rules of the regulatory game and then playing them as aggressively as he can,” he wrote.

    Plagiarism and aggregation at the Post: A Washington Post blogger named Elizabeth Flock resigned last week after being caught plagiarizing, but the story went under the radar until the Post’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, charging the Post with failing to properly guide its youngest journalists. Pexton said he talked with other young Post aggregators who “felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing.”

    Poynter’s Craig Silverman wrote a to the column, talking to several people from the Post and emphasizing the gravity of Flock’s transgression, but also throwing cold water on the “journalism’s standards are gone, thanks to aggregation” narrative. Reuters’ Jack Shafer thought Pexton on Flock’s plagiarism, but others thought it was the Post he wasn’t hard enough on. The Awl’s Trevor Butterworth said Flock’s mistake within the Post’s aggregation empire on the “inherent cheapness of the product and the ethical dubiety of the entire process. You see, the Post—or any legacy news organization turned aggregator—wants to have its cake and other people’s cake too, and to do so without damaging its brand as a purveyor of original cake.”

    BoingBoing’s Rob Beschizza , criticizing the Post for trying to dress up its aggregation as original reporting. The Raw Story’s Megan Carpentier that even the most haphazard, thoughtless aggregated pieces have a certain online permanence under our bylines.

    Technology, connection, and loneliness: A week after an asked whether Facebook was making us lonely (its answer: yes), MIT professor and author Sherry Turkle last weekend in a New York Times opinion piece. Through social and mobile media, Turkle argued, we’re trading conversation for mere connection, sacrificing self-reflection and the true experience of relating with others in the process.

    Numerous people disputed her points, on a variety of different fronts. Cyborgology’s David Banks with “digital dualism,” asserting that “There is no ‘second self’ on my Facebook profile — it’s the same one that is embodied in flesh and blood.” At The Atlantic, Alexandra Samuel said Turkle is guilty of a — an us/them dichotomy between (generally younger) social media users and the rest of us. Turkle, she wrote, “assumes conversations are only meaningful when they look like the conversations we grew up having.”

    Like Banks, Mathew Ingram of GigaOM between online and offline relationships, and sociology prof Zeynep Tufekci that if we are indeed seeing a loss in substantive interpersonal connection, it has more to do with our flight to the suburbs than social media. Claude Fischer of Boston Review that loneliness is on the rise in the first place, and in a , Wired’s Tim Carmody said the road to real relationship is in our own work, not in our embrace or denial of technologies.

    New media lessons from academics and news orgs: The University of Texas hosted its annual International Symposium on Online Journalism last weekend, one of the few of the scores of journalism conferences that brings together both working journalists and academics. As usual, University of British Columbia j-prof Alfred Hermida live-blogged the heck out of the conference, and you can see his summaries of each of his 14 posts .

    Several people distilled the conference’s many presentations into a few themes: The Lab’s staff identified a few, including the need to balance beauty and usefulness in data journalism and the increasing centrality of mobile in news orgs’ strategies. At the Nonprofit Journalism Hub, conference organizer Amy Schmitz Weiss into takeaways for news orgs, and Wisconsin j-prof Sue Robinson , organized by subject area.

    A couple of specific items from the conference: The Lab’s Adrienne LaFrance wrote on a University of Texas study that found that the people most likely to pay for news are young men who are highly interested in news, though it also found that our stated desires in news consumption don’t necessarily match up with our actual habits. And Dan Gillmor of one of the conference’s presenters, LinkedIn, saying it’s the first site to connect news sharing with our professional contacts, rather than our personal ones.

    [Editor’s note: Mark’s too modest to mention .]

    Reading roundup: Several interesting debates lurked just a bit under the radar this week. Here’s a quick lay of the land:

    — Reuters’ Felix Salmon why the New York Times doesn’t sell early access to its big business scoops to hedge funds looking for a market advantage, as Reuters and Bloomberg do. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram that the public value of those is too great to do that, and Salmon to his and others’ objections. The conversation also included a lively Twitter exchange, which Ingram and the Lab’s Joshua Benton Storified.

    — The Chicago Tribune to outsource its TribLocal network of community news sites to the Chicago company Journatic, laying off about 20 employees in the process. The and gave some more information about Journatic (yes, the term “content farm” comes up, though its CEO ). Street Fight’s Tom Grubisich for the Tribune.

    — In a feature at Wired, Steven Levy looked at , something The Atlantic’s Rebecca Greenfield said she for journalism’s future prospects, since those stories aren’t really journalism. Nebraska j-prof Matt Waite also said journalists shouldn’t be afraid of something that , and GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram the Journatic deal and the robot journalism stories to come up with something a bit less optimistic.

    — This week on the ebook front: A on the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit of Apple and publishers for price-fixing, which The Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Crovitz said is a . Elsewhere, some publishers are , and a publishing exec about why they broke DRM.

    — Gawker revealed its new commenting system this week — the Lab’s Andrew Phelps gave the background, Gawker’s Nick Denton argued , Dave Winer wanted to see the ability for on it, and GigaOM about the state of tech.

    — Google for publishers, One Pass, saying it’s moved on to its Consumer Surveys.

    — Finally, a few long reads for the weekend: on artist rights and the new business model for creative work, on the ethics of tweet bombing, on social media and fear, and and on restoring newsroom morale.

    Rupert Murdoch artwork by and texting photo by used under a Creative Commons license.

    POSTED     April 27, 2012, 10 a.m.
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