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Mediafabric, afternoon sessions: Whistleblowing and Gaddafi plus content factories with the Superdesk

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Notes taken during the afternoon sessions of the Mediafabric journalism conference in Prague. Follow it via the hashtag #mediafab

Ex M15 intelligence office Annie Machon said mistakes were made and people were able to lie in respect of N Ireland. The group backed in Libya in 1996 is the same one which overthrew Gaddafi. David Shayler was briefed about an operation by MI6. In 1996, heard reports of explosions in Libya – turned out that was no legal clearance for the activity which resulted in the deaths of citizens but not the target – Gadaffi. They resigned and decided to blow the whistle.

Flew back with a lawyer for Liberty. Was put on police bail for six months. She packed up and went to live with Shayler in France. Eventual court case – judge accepted that Shayler didn’t put lives at risk but press coverage made it sound the opposite.

MI5 employs ‘agents of influence’ in media organisations – spin stories, kills them divert attention. What should whistleblowers do? Apart from legal situation, difficult to know who to trust. Dangerous as well because the journalist could see the story as career-making. If Annie was at M15 now she would be tempted to go to wikileaks or an org of that ilk. No source has ever been outed by a failure of the technology.

Final speaker today is David Brewer – omnipresent news the content factory approach. Working on projects about freedom of expression in countries where that is difficult. In a lot of areas the mainstream got lazy and the bloggers became the real journalists. The reason for that is the ‘publish at’ model. That model is dead. The ‘engage with on our terms’ model is in its death throes. Social media has come along and pricked our bubble. Now in the ‘participate in’ model the “let loose to hold tight model”.

Building a content system to help a ‘superdesk’ a central desk where decisions are made. In Vietnam its done by screens.

It’s an intake and output process – a simple workflow model which takes from the Superdesk to the production desk and back.

Converged newsroom model with desk heads facing out from the decision desk into their teams.

Building a Superdesk is not costly, not disruptive. Stories will be more rewarding, there maybe less of them but they will be fine-tuned and more likely to resonate with audiences.

* These notes were compiled using the beta version of – if you’d like an invite to use the social local mobile community noticeboard too – sign up for an invite.

Written by sarahhartley

October 21st, 2011 at 4:02 pm

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