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Eyewitness images in the genre of open-source investigation

Patricia Cruz

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The study “Open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting” by Sandra Ristovska from University of Colorado Boulder was about the role and scope of eyewitness images in open-source investigation. In it, the author interviewed journalists from the Visual Investigation Unit at The New York Times, which is dedicated to open-source investigation,  and textually analyzed their video reports.

Central to the study is one aspect of open-source investigation: the reliance on eyewitness images from conflict/war zones. Eyewitness images consist of photographs and videos shot by activists and bystanders, or others who are not professional journalists or affiliated with news organizations.

Since visuality is a prominent news value, the images serve as a platform for voice, which works both on textual and visual level. With eyewitness images, the bystanders claim their right to testify on the events occurring. 

However, the Internet creates asymmetries of visibility, as surveillance capitalism and algorithmic choices of the social media platforms may lead to the uploaded content disappearing from the platforms, as was the case with Youtube and videos on the Syrian Conflict. Banchick (2020) claims that this generates extra tasks, vulnerabilities and frustrations in the work of open-source investigation.

Conflict journalism is often considered a litmus test for journalism. The interviewed participants here commented they utilized eyewitness images to strengthen the voices on the ground. It added credibility to the journalism, and elevated specific voices by providing them visibility in a prestigious newspaper. 

The Visual Investigation Unit was founded in 2017 in response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria by Malachy Brown. The unit, at the time of the study, consists of 10 reporters and 8 video production staffers. Some had background in human rights organizations, one at Bellingcat.

Four journalists, based on availability, were interviewed for the study, and 57 online video reports produced by the unit were analyzed. The interviews had open-ended questions, and consisted of two stages, the initial approximately 40 minute interview and the follow-up 25 minute interview. The journalists were open to having their names used in the study.

The author cautions that the methodology here is not designed to provide an exhaustive account of open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting. Rather, the research draws from the notion of thin description, as the researcher has been in contact with the open-source investigation community since 2015. 

The journalists were committed to cover the voices of the people experiencing conflict and injustice and provide diversity to the viewpoints. The chemical attack on Douma was an illustrative case they covered, and thus provided spaces of opportunity for the differing eyewitness perspectives – as the danger in open-source investigation remains that although eyewitnesses produce the evidence, institutions still choose which evidence is available.

Verification was an important factor in privileging images and video. Eyewitness images and video are easier to verify, and conversely harder to discredit. The verification process is nevertheless implicated in existing labor dynamics of the newsrooms, and it is not immune to hierarchies or power dynamics.

The concept of new institutionalism helps explain why open-source investigation is taking on some of traditional journalistic features at the core of journalism’s core identity, even as it seeks to be more open and transparent.

The paper proposes that “journalism needs more spaces for negotiation where it listens closely to the communicative needs of diverse eyewitness voices”, as the author puts it. Currently, the guiding ethos of open-source reporting serves as both a facilitator for the eyewitness voice and a hindrance to its recognition. 

This is particularly important in the time when listening is acknowledged to be a democratic deficit, calling for acknowledging vulnerability and repairing power imbalances.

The study “Open-source investigation as a genre of conflict reporting” by Sandra Ristovska is in Journalism. (open access).

Picture: Unsplash.

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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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