Reporting on terror attacks


By: Yadira Nieves-Pizarro

Terrorism is a constant threat in the Western World and mainstream media in the United States will cover such stories as they develop in the homeland and Europe. Consider the treatment given to the incidents occurred in France and Germany by the New York Times and the Washington Post during the summer of 2016. First, let’s examine the patterns of coverage of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France. Second, let’s survey a series of small-scale attacks perpetrated in Germany during the month of July. In line with framing theory, I will use existing terrorism frames to assess the news coverage of The New York Times and The Washington Post during July 2016 (Li, 2007; Semetko & Valkenburg, 2000; Woods, 2007).

Terrorism, which often manifests itself in coordinated incidents that result in multiple deaths and violence, is a pervasive topic in news today. News coverage about terrorism may underline some issues over others influencing the audiences’ “attitudes, beliefs and behaviors” (Li, 2007, p. 672). Woods (2007) explains further that audiences perceive terrorism danger as more imminent and catastrophic because of its “newness” and “dread” (p. 5). Furthermore, the salience of the topic amplifies the perception of risk and thus the audiences’ need for “information, explanations and interpretations” from the news media (Li, 2007, p. 670; Woods, 2007).

Existing literature has examined particular news frames in relation to news coverage of terrorism. Semetko & Valkenburg (2000) developed generic frames such as conflict, attribution of responsibility, human interest, economic consequences and morality. The conflict frame underscores the diverging nature of the topic by stressing the polarization between two institutions, groups, or ideologies. Next, the attribution of responsibility frame assigns responsibility for the problem to an individual, institution or government. Following, the human-interest frame emphasizes people who are or will be affected by this problem. Meanwhile, the economic consequences frame focuses on the consequences events or issues will have on people or institutions. Finally, the morality frame accentuates the moral and religious traits of the event or issue.

Conversely, Woods (2007) evaluates terrorism frames in terms of if journalists rely or not on official or what is known as government sources; if the story supports/opposes the use of military force to contain the terrorism threat; or supports/opposes liberties reduction for the same purposes. Likewise, the article may associate religion with terrorism referring to the committers as “Islamic extremists” or “Muslim radicals”. Finally, Li (2007) assesses terrorism frames in terms of if the story emphasizes on political leaders, issues and policies; the economic impact or cost of the events; the environmental impact, be it human or natural; as well as human disaster or well being stories or crime investigation.

The question remains, what are the coverage patterns of the New York Times and the Washington Post with regards to the Bastille Day Nice, France and a Germany attacks on July 2016? To study the coverage of elite newspapers, a content analysis was done using a purposive sample of news stories on both subjects. The articles were recovered from Lexis Nexis using the keywords “terrorist attacks Nice, France” and “terrorist attack Germany”. A total of 20 stories were analyzed.

When analyzing Semetko & Valkenburg’s (2000) generic news frames used in both incidents, most stories focused on the attribution of responsibility for the attacks to ISIS, Islamic or Muslim militants (70%), followed by human interest focusing on the stories of the victims (15%) (See Table 1).

Table 1: Generic frames

Incident Total
Terror attack in Nice, France on Bastille Day Series of terror attacks in Germany Summer 2016
Generic frames Conflict   0 2 2
  0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  0.0% 20.0% 10.0%
Attribution of responsibility   7 7 14
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  70.0% 70.0% 70.0%
Human Interest   2 1 3
  66.7% 33.3% 100.0%
  20.0% 10.0% 15.0%
Morality frame   1 0 1
  100.0% 0.0% 100.0%
  10.0% 0.0% 5.0%
Total   10 10 20
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

When observing Woods’ (2007) terrorism risk frames, sources associated religion with terrorism referring to the executors as extremists or radicals (40%), followed closely by a heavy use of official or government sources leading the narrative (35%) (See Table 2).

Table 2: Terrorism risk frame

Incident Total
Terror attack in Nice, France on Bastille Day Series of terror attacks in Germany Summer 2016
Terrorism risk frame Government-source dominant   4 3 7
  57.1% 42.9% 100.0%
  40.0% 30.0% 35.0%
Supports military response   0 1 1
  0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  0.0% 10.0% 5.0%
Supports liberties reduction   0 1 1
  0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  0.0% 10.0% 5.0%
Religion associated with terrorism   4 4 8
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  40.0% 40.0% 40.0%
Non government-source dominant   2 1 3
  66.7% 33.3% 100.0%
  20.0% 10.0% 15.0%
Total   10 10 20
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

In the case of Li’s (2007) coverage frames, the criminal investigation aspect was more salient (40%), followed closely by the focus on politics and politicians in the handling of the ongoing terror threat (35%) (See Table 3).

Table 3: Coverage frame

Incident Total
Terror attack in Nice, France on Bastille Day Series of terror attacks in Germany Summer 2016
Coverage frame Political   2 5 7
  28.6% 71.4% 100.0%
  20.0% 50.0% 35.0%
Human Interest   4 1 5
  80.0% 20.0% 100.0%
  40.0% 10.0% 25.0%
Criminal   4 4 8
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  40.0% 40.0% 40.0%
Total   10 10 20
  50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
  100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

In conclusion, the news coverage of terrorism by the New York Times and the Washington Post is more likely to attribute responsibility to Islamic militant groups and the Muslim religion from the onset. Official sources and political actors dominate the storyline often alluding to the need of reinforcing the national security. Interestingly, many stories delved into the victim’s lives highlighting the human-interest aspect of terrorism. In the particular case of the series of terrorist attacks in Germany, many stories showcased the repercussions of government policies for refugees.

For journalists, dealing with developing news is a challenge. Working on developing news about terrorism defies a society’s preconceived notions about who the terrorist attacks perpetrators are and what are their motives. Often many of the stories lack context and rhetoric of reinforcing security and reducing civil liberties abound after terrorism incidents occur. More human-interest stories and a better balance of sources may provide the audience with the “information, explanations and interpretations” (Li, 2007, p. 670) that are more a tune with the bigger picture of terror.


Li, X. (2007). Stages of a Crisis and Media Frames and Functions: US Television Coverage of the 9/11 Incident during the First 24 Hours. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 51(4), 670 – 687.

Semetko, H. & Valkenburg, P. (2000). Framing European politics: A content analysis of press and television news. Journal of Communication. 50(2), 93–109.

Woods, J. (2007). What we Talk about when we Talk about Terrorism: Elite Press Coverage of Terrorism Risk from 1997-2005. Press/Politics. 12(3), 3 – 20.


Reporting on the Zika pandemic

Original Title: Aa_FC3_58a.jpg

By: Yadira Nieves-Pizarro

Pandemics are considered global crisis. As such they receive comprehensive news coverage and require responses from governments and health authorities.

As it happens with terrorism, mainstream news outlets in the United States will cover disease outbreaks such as Avian Influenza, Ebola or Zika virus as they threaten to infect their population. In 2014, there were four cases of Ebola registered in New York and Texas (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014) that received major news coverage. Recently, 1,305 Zika virus cases have been reported in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Until recently these cases were generally “travel-associated” as most of the patients come from Latin America where the virus has been linked to microcephaly in newborn children (Fox, 2016). Nevertheless, in August 2016 the country reported local contagion (Garcia Casado, 2016).

The state of Florida is considered “ground zero” for Zika because mosquitoes prevail all year-round. Recently, the state government has declared a public health emergency (Dana, 2016). Many Americans and other international tourists come to Florida during the summer time to enjoy some time in the theme parks. Yet, local and international tourists are being dissuaded to come to Disney World, as well as other destinations in the Caribbean, because of the Zika virus (Storey, 2016). Cottle (2008) anticipated that global health threats might constrain mobility for citizens of the world, and in this case for the average American.

Likewise, Latin American and Caribbean countries have seen a decline in tourism activity as Zika news reports have scared away potential visitors from popular summer venues. According to World Bank estimates for 2016, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic will suffer greater loses this year as a significant part of their economy depends on tourism (Associated Press, 2016; Ojea, 2016).

News media professionals in the United States have to report global crisis such as the Zika virus spread to create awareness among the American public. As a result, the type of coverage given to the crisis will define how the audience responds to the threat (Cottle, 2008). Locally, on the other hand, news outlets face challenges to make topics such as the Zika outbreak relevant to their audience. On the first place, Cottle (2008) espouses that the sources that sponsor the crisis must be legitimate and be able to communicate the message of awareness, prevention or specific actions to be taken regarding the health threat. Secondly, in order to make stories relevant, news professionals must consider putting a human face on the topic. Hight and Smyth (2003) recommend “writing about the victims lives and their effect on the community” (p. 6) in order for the audience to relate to the crisis.

Thirdly, in order to effectively communicate global crisis news professionals must consider the audiences’ nature. The modern news consumer is continuously evolving as digital innovations change the way news are delivered. According to the Pew Research Center 70% of adults in the United States follow national and local news “somewhat closely” while 65% track international news “with some regularity” through their desktop computer or mobile devices (Mitchell, Gottfried, Barthel, & Shearer, 2016).

This lukewarm reception to news forces news organizations to implement audience engagement strategies that encompass more than just having a social media presence. For instance, The Chicago Tribune emphasizes on transparency and often explains to the readers the newsgathering process though a blog in their site and in the print edition. For the sake of accuracy, errors are quickly amended. In addition, the news organization habitually holds community-based events, listens to the opinions the community has about their news coverage and gather news ideas that are in tune with their interest. Finally, the Chicago Tribune embraces social media, staying on top of trending topics.

Reporting a global crisis to the American public is challenging, but to do so at a local news market level is even more uphill. Effective reporting will depend on many other considerations such as routine practices and the size of the news organization. Yet, it is the responsibility of local news organizations to open the scope of the coverage and make crisis relevant to their audience who are, at the same time, citizens of the world affected by global crisis.


Associated Press. (2016, May 31). Zika threat to tourism adds to Puerto Rico’s woes. CBS News. Retrieved from

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, February 2). Zika virus disease in the United States 2015-2016. Retrieved from

Cottle, S. (2008). Global Crisis Reporting: Journalism in the Global Age. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Fox, M. (2016, July 14). Zika virus worries pregnant women in the U.S. as mosquito season approaches. Today. Retrieved from

Garcia Casado, C. (2016, March 24). Científicos investigan llegada del virus del Zika a las Américas. El Nuevo Herald. Miami, Fla.

Hight, J., & Smyth, F. (2003). Tragedies and Journalists: A guide for more effective coverage. The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.

Hight, J. & Smyth, F. (2003). Tragedies and Journalists: A guide for more effective coverage. Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

Janega, J. (2013, February 18). 5 ways to engage more with your audience — in person and online. Poynter. St. Petersburg, Florida. Retrieved from

Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Barthel, M., & Shearer, E. (2016). The Modern News Consumer: News attidudes and practices in the digital era. Washington DC.

Ojea, M. V. (2016, February 22). Cinco impactos económicos del Zika en Latinoamérica. El País. Recuperado de

Dana, F. (2016, January 26). Fear of Zika impacts daily life, Travel in U.S., Latin America. NBC News. Retrieved from

Storey, K. (2016, May 31). Zika has already caused a noticeable impact on tourism. Orlando Weekly. Retrieved from

Szabo, L. (2016, July 14). Baby with Zika-linked microcephaly born in Texas. USA Today. Retrieved from

Williams, C. (2016, May 20). 4 Michigan Zika cases tied to trips out-of-state. The Detroit News. Recuperado de

Yuhas, A., Weaver, M., Malkin, B., & Rawlison, K. (2016, July 15). Nice attack: Truck diver named as France mourns 84 killed in Bastille Day atrocity. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Corrections, apologies and retractions: Misinformation in social media news

By: Yadira Nieves-Pizarro


News organizations continue to see growth pertaining their online publics (Olmstead & Shearer, 2015; Conaghan, 2015). Social media is an audience magnet for news businesses that use these outlets to promote their stories as they develop in real time. Today, the organization’s social media accounts serve users that consume their news through these information fire hoses (Sassen, 2012).

For an occupation based in a discipline of verification, social media content in news media generates tremendous pressure for journalist (Hermida, 2012). The journalism practice of appropriating of raw information in their social media accounts often lead to corrections[1], apologies[2] or retractions[3], diminishing their credibility among online news consumers. For the journalism field, and communication science in general, it is necessary to sharpen the definition of the raw information concept and its relationship with the reputation of the fourth estate.

In the present ecosystem, the idea of publishing information beyond the filters of news organizations is democratic, inclusive and popular (Potter, 2004). Indeed, social media promotes the participation of the public in the news gathering process (Potter, 2004). The interaction between citizens and professional journalist promote a symbiotic collaboration that enriches the stories (Jarvis in Andén-Papadopoulos, 2013). Yet, sometimes this cooperation may lead to missinformation.

Verification is at the core of the journalism discipline, setting it apart from other forms of communication (Hermida, 2012, p. 659). This practice grants journalistic communication with credibility and believability (Hermida, 2012, p. 661). Journalistic claims to truth telling are based on news practices such as journalistic presence (being there) and the use of images (Andén-Papadopoulos, 2013, p. 963). Nevertheless, “the role of eyewitness is being outsourced to private citizens” with mobile phones (Zelizer in Andén – Papadopoulos & Pantti, p. 964).

The origin and reliability of these images, necessary for communicating with the growing social media audience, is occasionally difficult to verify (Zelizer in Andén – Papadopoulos & Pantti, p. 964). The content that citizen journalist, bloggers, among others, disseminate into cyberspace through social media is called raw information. The Center for News Literacy (2014) has defined raw information as:

Direct unfiltered information, that has bypassed institutional or traditional media gatekeepers and distribution cost in order to sell, publicize, advocate, entertain and inform. Anyone with a web connection, photocopier or a can of spray paint can transmit raw information, which often results as an outlet for self-expression, entertainment, promotion, advocacy or propaganda. The practice adds a multiplicity of voices to the information environment. Some of the examples of raw information can be seen on social media, blogs, user comments and ratings in websites, chain mail, text message forwarding, flyers and graffiti.

Frequently, unverified raw information will produce a correction, apology or retraction from the news organization. While most news organizations are adamant about apologizing or offering corrections, on the grounds that such a public admission of fallibility might cause the audience to view them as unreliable, others hope that trust in the outlet might be increased (Harcup, 2014, p. 17). Conversely, the Society of Professional Journalist code of ethics urges its members to be accountable by admitting mistakes and promptly correcting them (Friend, 2007, p. 107).

Raw information that results in misinformation may occur in collaborative journalism. Measures have to be taken in order to subside journalists urge to publish without verifying information. Even as the user retains the corrected misinformation, the media outlet or the journalist will forever be associated with the error at a subconscious level. Furthermore, corrected misinformation from raw information that has turned viral[4] seldom reaches all the members of the audience that came into contact with it.

Having worked as a television news producer and, later, as a journalism professor has given me a special insight into the subject. In the newsroom, the race for being the first overrode all conscious efforts to verify and fact check every inch of the stories portrayed in the newscast our website and social media accounts. Lack of personnel and resources were often to blame for production mishaps and inaccuracies in news reports.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the journalism business, ethics and technology have to go hand in hand and should account for news literate audiences. Lamentably, professional journalists often get pulled into the vortex of publishing quickly and correcting later. A revaluation of news production routines and a better distribution of available resources could benefit journalism in small markets and entrepreneurial efforts to prevent misinformation.


Al Jazeera. (2014, September 7). Al Jazeera Arabic article retracted. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from Al Jazeera:

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. (2013, November 11). Krokodril Media Frenzy Presents Misinformation. (A. Knof, Ed.) Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly , 25 (43), pp. 1 – 3.

Allen – Hendricks, J. (2010). The Twenty – First Century Media Industry: Economic and Managerial Implications in the Age of New Media. Plymouth,, UK: Lexington Books.

Andén-Papadopoulos, K. &. (2013). Re-imagining crisis reporting: Professional ideology of journalists and citizen eyewitness images. Journalism , 14.

Cardew, B. (2014, July 28). Storyful’s social media verification puts open journalism principles into practice: Stories such as MH17 crash highlight importance of checking content’s validity. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from Guardian:

Center for News Literacy. (2014). Latino Oriented News Literacy Curriculum Workshop. In D. Miller (Ed.). Chicago, Il.: Stony Broke University School of Journalism.

Conaghan, J. (2015). Newspaper Digital Audience. Newspaper Association of America.

Friend, C. &. (2007). Online Journalism Ethics: Traditions and Transitions. Armonk, New York, USA: M.E. Sharp Inc.

Greitemeyer, T. (2014). Article retracted, but the message lives on. Psychon Bull Rev , 21, 557 – 561.

Guskin, E. &. (2012, November 6). Huricane Sandy and Twitter. Retrieved September 2014, 2014, from Pew Research Journalism Project:

Harcup, T. (2014). Oxford Dictionary of Journalism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Hermida, A. F. (2012). SHARE, LIKE, RECOMMEND. Journalism Studies , 13 (5/6), 815-824.

Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH. Journalism Practice , 6 (5/6), 659-668.

Jhonson, H. M. (1994). Comprehension after a correction: Processes that limit influence from misinformation. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Leopold, T. (2012, March 16). In today’s warp-speed world, online missteps spread faster than ever. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from CNN:

Olmstead, K., & Shearer, E. (2015, April 29). Digital News – Audience: Fact Sheet. State of the News Media 2015.

Potter, W. J. (2004). Theory of Media Literacy: A Cognitive Approach. Thousand Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications Inc.

Sassen, J. O. (2012). State of the News Media 2013: An Annual Report of American Journalism. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism :

Silverman, C. (2014, September 8). Amazing Name Leads to amusing Huffingtong Post correction. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from Poynter:

Silverman, C. (2012, December 12). The best (and worst) media errors and corrections of 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from Poynter:

Smith, D. (2014, March 20). The Misinformation Age. Retrieved from Officer:

Smith, R. (2014). Groping for Ethics in Journalism. Content Technologies Inc.

Vis, F. (2014, January 25). The Rapid Spread of Misinformation Online. Retrieved September 14, 2014, from The Hufington Post:


[1] “A correction is an acknowledgment of an inaccuracy and its replacement to what is believed to be the accurate information.” Print media have a regular space for corrections, whereas websites amend the copy itself and add a note that a change has been made (Harcup, 2014, p. 68).

[2] An apology is an expression of a news organization’s regret and remorse over the publication or broadcast of a story that was inaccurate, unjustifiably intrusive, or in some other way deemed to contravene either law, a code of ethical guidelines or both (Harcup, 2014, p. 17).

[3] A retraction is a public statement made about an earlier statement that withdraws, cancels, refutes, diametrically reverses the original statement or ceases and desists from publishing the original statement (Smith R. , 2014). It is a form of correction that withdraws the offending piece of journalism and states that it was untrue (Harcup, 2014, p. 266).

[4] Viral communication occurs when hundreds, thousands or millions of people send a message from one to another using mobile telephones or Internet technologies (Allen – Hendricks, 2010, p. 81).

The State of Global Connectivity

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State of Connectivity: A Report on Global Internet Access, a new study by examines the current state of global internet connectivity and takes a close look at who’s connected, who’s not and why.

The paper uses existing data from the world’s leading sources on connectivity and incorporates our own new findings to examine internet penetration and barriers to further growth.

By early 2015, 3 billion people will be online. This is an incredible milestone, but it also means that only 40% of the world’s population has ever connected to the internet.


The unconnected are disproportionately located in developing countries — 78% of the population in the developed world is online compared to just 32% in emerging economies.

Moreover, adoption of the internet is slowing — The rate of growth declined for the fourth year in a row to just 6.6% in 2014 (down from 14.7% in 2010). At…

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Journalistic Training for the Web 3.0 Media Landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean’s Spanish Speaking Countries

periodimso multimedia

By: Yadira Nieves – Pizarro

From Uruguay[i] to Puerto Rico[ii], governments in Latin America and Spanish speaking Caribbean countries have embraced the idea to connect their citizens to the Internet. It is a known fact that the access to information and communication technologies (ICT) is determined by social and economic conditions and access to education (Peres, 2009, p. 61). In the near future there will be an increase of mobile web users in the region, in such a way that it may surpass the engagement of these services in the United States and Canada (Fiorotto, 2012). This prediction may very well anticipate the closing of the digital divide[iii] that has kept a scarce audience for digital media and traditional journalistic industries that have been converging within the Internet since early twenty first century (Jarvis, 2010, pp. vii – viii).

The working conditions in the Information Society have also changed for journalists. The audience is conceived as a content generator and distributor with the consent of Social Media outlets[iv] (Jarvis, 2010, p. viii). Also, the journalistic production routines[v] have shifted the value of information from the content itself to hyperlinked cyberspaces that publish unfiltered and subjective material. Where the audience finds the news and not who produces them drives their attention. A super abundance of information roams free throughout the Web (Jarvis, 2010, p. ix). Nowadays data has the capacity to turn viral[vi] with renowned misinformation consequences. For the journalistic profession, to truly comply with social responsibility, information in this new media landscape must be produced in new media industries that exploit the multimedia capabilities of the Web (Jarvis, 2010, p. x), yet are faithful to journalistic ethics and rigor.

In recent years, communications professionals in this part of the world were overwhelmed with the sudden surge of Social Media in the News Industry. In this scenario there are ethical and practical issues that have to be addressed in order to maintain justice and truthfulness (principles that guide our profession) in news reporting. Old and new reporters try to get a grasp on fast paced journalistic routines as they combine multimedia and writing skills for truthful and inspiring storytelling. The field of action is rapidly changing for journalists but there is some resistance in mid-career professionals as Rendón in Cabrera-González and Bernal-Treviño (2012, p. 10) point out:

In production technology should be considered an ally. The constant updating of the available tools should motivate journalist to have an “inherent desire to stay up to date in this regard”, since this determines the “quality of content” and their ability to create technology based structures and formats to present journalistic genres.

Mass Media Studies in Latin America and the Spanish speaking Caribbean countries may be profound in theory but fall short to effectively train aspiring news workers with the demands of the profession in the new field of action. Journalism today is conditioned by technological evolution and certain issues must be addressed regarding the teaching methods. The reporter must master storytelling abilities and multimedia tools required for digital media outlets.

Nevertheless, as Mensing (2010, p. 511) points out, “journalism education programs are distinctly unprepared to respond to such deeply structural changes in the environment”. So recognized Parra – Valcarce (2008, p. 65):

The emergence of cyber journalism is derived from the chain of circumstances that include the appearance of a new learning model, one that is mainly audiovisual rather than the traditional standard form of written education as taught at school, the arrival of a new, cheap and easy technology that offers a high capacity for impact, and the crisis being faced by traditional journalism. Cyber Journalism implies a major change in the way information is treated and also seeks to adapt to the needs of a new kind of consumer (…). All of this involves certain high level cognitive challenges that the University, being as it is an institution dedicated to the teaching of future journalists and the research of these phenomena, cannot ignore.

Journalism education in Latin America and Caribbean Spanish Speaking Countries tackle issues like ethics, commitment to the public and the capability to promote an informed society (World Journalism Education Council, 2007). Basic skills such as “interviewing, reporting, researching, sourcing, writing and editing” (Josephi, 2009, p. 49) are offered by communication programs to journalism professional with great mastery. In 2004 the Project for Excellence in Journalism called the attention to this problem in the United States. Convergence and multimedia storytelling had introduced some relevant changes in practice but journalism education then had shifted little in response to the “epochal transformation” (Mesing, 2010, p. 512). This is an accurate portrait of the times south of the border. Nevertheless, the academy is conscious that the only possibility to practice journalism in the future is having the ability to work “with all media” (Parra – Valcarce, 2008, p. 76).

These massive changes have brought about growing uncertainty amongst journalist as a result of the dominance of the Internet (Bigi, 2012, pp. 5 – 6). Production, distribution and reception of news in the Internet as the ultimate media platform have called the journalist traditional authority into question (Bigi, 2012, p. 6). Telling stories that fulfill the public’s interest is central to the profession no matter the platform (World Journalism Education Council, 2007). The challenge for journalism education in the region is to adapt the storytelling to the changes within the craft, media and technology (The Poynter Institute, 2013).

Current digital journalism training has to compliment basic journalist skills with the technological tools and storytelling adeptness to compete in the digital media landscape. In Latin America the efforts to examine the journalism profession concentrate in the matter of freedom of the press, ethics and Internet security. In 2005, the Argentinean Journalist Forum (FOPEA) surveyed 282 reporters. The results evidenced a need for better education and continued training to face a new and complex professional scenario. The journalists in Argentina complained about their stories being conditioned by the commercial interest of the medium. They also protested the absence of liberty to publish their own work and questioned the relationship between journalism and power (Giacobbe, 2005).

Uruguay surveyed 257 journalists of traditional and new media who concurred in the need to elaborate an ethics code. Guides for working with sources, limits to receiving gifts and plagiarism are some of the highlights of the investigation (Fraga, 2012). On the other hand, Colombia came to grips with the reality of corruption within journalism after a survey conducted on 603 journalists and news media executives. Their perception about access to public information and violence against journalist was assessed when they answered a questionnaire by telephone and the Internet (Proyecto Antonio Nariño, 2012).

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism. Reporters who discover government corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime are threatened, hurt or killed. In their quest to publish the truth, many have found in Internet blogs and social media a vehicle of expression. The International Center for Journalism sponsored an investigation to examine this practice. The researcher contacted 102 journalist and bloggers through independent journalist groups and human rights organizations (Sierra, 2013). During two months these were referred to a web link in which they’d answer 21 questions (Sierra, 2013). The findings revealed that respondents did not use tools to safely store and erase documents and mixed personal and professional information on social media making them vulnerable to attacks (Survey Finds Mexico’s Journalists Face Digital Security Threats, 2013).

Journalism is often called the fourth power, but in this new media landscape journalists and news media are at a lost. The Academy barely keeps up with the changes. In consequence, students in Puerto Rico, for example, struggle in the professional practice. “New technologies have promoted an excessive focus on entertainment news, the prevalence of news stories based on news releases (…) and a surplus of short news stories that lack quality and depth” (Herscovitz, 2012, p. 374). The superabundance of information, the multitude of social media outlets and the immediacy that the Internet craves are an explosive combination which results in the audience not getting the message.

Josephi in Bigi (2012, p. 5) indicates journalists must be primed to fulfil their role: “The key purpose of journalism education is to enrich the quality of journalism by improving the quality of journalist (…)”. “On the positive side, journalists say that new technologies have opened a new path for independent journalism and democratization of news (…)” (Herscovitz, 2012, p. 374). Empowered reporters all over our nations will be prepared to face the threats that inherently come with the practice of journalism. In addition, they will be able to publish engaging stories that impact the citizens of Latin America and the Spanish Speaking countries of the Caribbean. In this day and age, an aspiring reporter who masters the skills for the Web 3.0 media landscape is an asset to society. Latin America is plagued with inequalities, corruption, drugs and violence and journalists are committed to uncover injustice and promote a participative democracy[vii].


[i] Uruguay is one of the countries with the highest Digital Opportunity Index (IOD for its Spanish acronym Índice de Oportunidad Digital), surpassed only by developed countries such as Canada and the United States (Pittaluga, 2007, p. 6).

[ii] San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico, announced a plan to promote access to Internet WIFI to its citizens, starting with the economically disadvantaged (Primera Hora, 2012).

[iii] Digital divide refers to the technological capacity of a society to manage information. The faculties that each inhabitant has to transmit process and store information. The ability to exchange information using modern communication networks (Peres, 2009, p. 49).

[iv] In social media everyone is on the same level: journalist, politicians and users. Traditional hierarchy does not exist anymore. A journalist must identify the audience and seduce them (FPNI, 2012).

[v] Production routine is the process by which the criteria to appraise newsworthiness is established and journalistic work is systematized in such a manner that a news organization can handle information efficiently (Martini, 2000).

[vi] Viral communication occurs when hundreds, thousands or millions of people send a message from one to another using mobile telephones or Internet technologies (Allen – Hendricks, 2010, p. 81).

[vii] Historically “institutional restraints lessen political engagement (…) and spawn political apathy in the long term. The participatory theory envisions citizens who engage in political decision making in great numbers and who share a sense of collective responsibility” (Zittel, 2007, pp. 9 – 10). When this concept is translated to journalism, “active audience members can contribute content and can influence the process of producing and distributing news” (Singer, 2011).


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The inverted pyramid of data journalism

Descubriendo el periodismo de datos. La Internet es una galaxia de información inimaginable.

Online Journalism Blog

I’ve been working for some time on picking apart the many processes which make up what we call data journalism. Indeed, if you read the chapter on data journalism (blogged draft) in my Online Journalism Handbook, or seen me speak on the subject, you’ll have seen my previous diagram that tries to explain those processes.

I’ve now revised that considerably, and what I’ve come up with bears some explanation. I’ve cheekily called it the inverted pyramid of data journalism, partly because it begins with a large amount of information which becomes increasingly focused as you drill down into it until you reach the point of communicating the results.

What’s more, I’ve also sketched out a second diagram that breaks down how data journalism stories are communicated – an area which I think has so far not been very widely explored. But that’s for a future post.


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¿Se ha convertido el chisme en noticia?


Tras la muerte de un jovencito a manos de la policía de Londres en 2011 se desataron cinco días de motines en la ciudad europea. Los ciudadanos fueron convocados a la calle a través de las redes sociales. Éstas también fueron el origen de rumores que ubicaban a los manifestantes incendiando la atracción turística conocida como el London Eye.

Mientras, la solemnidad de la Semana Santa 2013 fue interrumpida por la explosión en el Maratón de Boston. Tres personas resultaron muertas y otras centenares heridas. El mundo siguió, a través de las redes sociales y los medios tradicionales, la captura de los hermanos Tsarnaev, supuestos autores del atentado. El desarrollo de la noticia se vivió en Twitter. Las fotos capturadas por las víctimas y testigos fueron colgadas en el ciberespacio con calces falsos. Los rumores fueron reseñados como verdaderos en muchos medios de prensa.

Noticias espectaculares como éstas no ocurren todos los días; sí intentos de espectacularizar acontecimientos intrascendentes. “Un chisme puede convertirse en noticia a nivel global a través de la Internet”, aseguró el profesor de periodismo de la Escuela de Comunicación de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mario Roche en del Conversatorio “La espectacularización de la noticia: El periodismo y el chisme” en la Primera Convención de la Asociación de Periodistas de Puerto Rico.

Hoy, la mayoría de los medios de comunicación periodísticos, reporteros y pseudo reporteros mantienen cuentas en las redes sociales de mayor auge. En ese espacio transmiten informaciones y hasta se desahogan. No obstante, las palabras de una figura pública tienen consecuencias más allá del botón de “tweet” o “post”. Sobre todo cuando se trata de información sin confirmar.


Roche señaló que la diseminación de los rumores responde a la tempestividad informativa, es decir “la relación temporal oportuna entre la consumación de lo informado y su difusión periodística” (Caminos en Camacho, 2010, p. 54). Es la eterna carrera de quién lo dice primero. Publicar “y pedir perdón después”, señaló el educador.

Del rumor al chisme, un paso es

La televisión puertorriqueña acogió al chisme desde sus inicios en la década de 1950. Personajes como Mirta Silva, Charlie “Too Much” y más recientemente Antulio “Kobbo” Santa Rosa, con el desaparecido personaje de “La Comay”, han hecho uso del cotilleo para avanzar en las encuestas del horario estelar. La productora y presentadora del programa Lo sé todo de WAPA Televisión, Sandra Rodríguez Cotto criticó que los medios tradicionales hayan abandonado las noticias duras para reseñar notas del espectáculo en primera plana.

El foro sirvió para hacer diferencia entre los conceptos periodismo de espectáculo y espectacularización de la noticia. La prensa rosa por lo regular reseña acontecimientos relacionados a la farándula. En la mayoría de las ocasiones existe una maquinaria de relaciones públicas o publicidad que se encarga de preparar el escenario para que el artista se presente ante la prensa. Por otro lado, se espectaculariza la noticia televisiva cuando se añaden recursos al texto audio visual que tienen como propósito difuminar la frontera entre la información y la ficción o espectáculo (Imbert en Paniagua y Pellicier, 2010, p. 33).

En el medio televisivo la espectacularización es un mal necesario. Ciertos formatos y contenidos se valen de la modalidad debido a que las dinámicas de producción y mercado así lo requieren (Paniagua y Pellicier,  2010, p. 33). Sin embargo, a la hora de construir el texto, los noticiarios televisivos y los productores de contenidos audio visuales para prensa digital deben mantenerse fieles a los pilares del periodismo, la ética y la responsabilidad social.

El chisme y la espectacularización de la noticia están lejos de desaparecer de la pantalla chica, mucho menos de las redes sociales. Sobre los acontecimientos en el mundo del espectáculo, el periodista Juan Hernández dijo “no es que tengan valor noticioso, sino que se le otorgue el valor correcto”. De igual forma Roche llamó la atención a que la audiencia tiene el poder decisional sobre los contenidos. Siempre habrá personajes de la farándula que atraigan mayor tráfico de usuarios que la política, no obstante “el horizonte de las expectativas del público es muy amplio… dale Maripily pero también otros temas serios”, puntualizó.

Por: Yadira Nieves


Camacho, I. (2010). La especialización en el periodismo: Formarse para informar. Comunicación Social Ediciones y Publicaciones: Zamora, España.

Paniagua, J. & Pellicier, N. (2010). Alternativas a la espectacularización televisiva. Informativos para la televisión del espectáculo. Comunicación Social Ediciones y Publicaciones: Zamora, España.