Headline of the day – DN revisited

In the paper version of today’s Dagens Nyheter, a headline reads “Woman new political editor at DN”. It would be unthinkable to publish the headline “Man new political editor at DN”, but when it’s a woman, for some reason it seems to be perfectly valid. A similar case appeared in February 2006 when the paper version of DN had the headline “Woman might be new Managing Director of the Swedish Shareholders’ Association”.

The online version reads “Heidi Avellan new political editor at DN”.

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DN builds FRA story on old Google quotes

Swedish blogs are buzzing about a controversial proposal that will allow wire-tapping by FRA, the National Defence Radio Establishment, of phone and email traffic that crosses Swedish borders. The Swedish Riksdag will vote on the proposal on June 18, so the law is a hot topic also in mainstream media. But I did not expect that it would be so hot that Dagens Nyheter would actually use a 12 month old story as their top story this morning. The headline in the printed paper is “IT company (or companies) in attack on new law” or “IT-bolag till attack mot ny lag” in Swedish. In the blurb below, readers are given the impression that Google just lashed out against the law, saying they won’t place any servers in Sweden, should the law become reality. But inside the paper we find that this is a quote by Peter Fleischer, Google’s spokesperson on integrity issues, made in an interview for InternetWorld in May 2007.

The second IT company to “go to attack” is TeliaSonera, which already back in June last year moved e-mail servers for their Finnish customers from Sweden to Finland in order to avoid wire-tapping. One would expect a lot more news value in the lead story in Sweden’s leading daily.

It was also interesting to see how DN used the quotes from InternetWorld, in Swedish below. DN has not used the quotes word-by-word, but instead re-arranged the quotes with different words (my bold).

IW: Vi har kontaktat svenska myndigheter för att ge vår syn på förslaget och vi har gjort det klart att vi aldrig kommer att placera några servrar innanför Sveriges gränser om förslaget går igenom.

DN: Vi har gjort klart för svenska myndigheter att vi aldrig tänker placera några Googleservrar inom Sveriges gränser om det här förslaget går igenom.

IW: Vi kan helt enkelt inte kompromissa med våra användares integritet och låta svenska myndigheter ta del av data som kanske inte ens rör svensk aktivitet.

DN: Vi kan helt enkelt inte kompromettera våra användares integritet genom att ge svenska myndigheter tillgång till data som kanske inte ens har med svensk aktivitet att göra.

IW: Förslaget är sprunget ur en tradition inledd av Saudiarabien och Kina och hör helt enkelt inte hemma i en västerländsk demokrati.

DN: Det här förslaget liknar något som hittats på av Saudiarabien och Kina. Sådant bör helt enkelt inte ha någon plats i en västerländsk demokrati.

It is worth noting that quotes are also protected by copyright, according to professor Jan Rosén at Stockholm University, and that newspapers in the past have criticized each other for exaggerated or improper use of quotes.

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Twingly matters, here’s the evidence

Here is an example that could be used as a case study for Primelabs when they promote their service Twingly, which connects blogs with articles in mainstream media. Dagens Nyheter has a weird story today from Växjö about an accident with a truck loaded with flowers, and two men who got into a fight in which one had bitten the nose and one ear off the other guy.

But not even Sweden’s most prestigious newspaper has a photographer in every bush so there are no photos in the article. But since DN uses Twingly to show which blogs that link to an article, readers can find a blog post by Olof Carlsson who lives nearby. Olof blogged the story and posted a photo of the crashed truck, and we would hardly ever find this blog post if it hadn’t been for Twingly. So all you sceptics out there, are you still not convinced this is a good idea?

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Millions becomes billions becomes deleted article

While we are still puzzled over why Dagens Media has closed its blog, we can find another example today of an online publication that deletes an article that didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.

DagensPS made a re-write of an article in Dagens Industri (not online, but reported here by Dagens Nyheter, and no, not all media in Sweden are called something with ‘Dagens’, only half of them are…). The article in DI talks about the re-branding of FöreningsSparbanken to Swedbank and how the bank had invested 46.5 million kronor (about 5 million euro) in Q4 2006 in advertising. But DagensPS got it wrong and wrote that the bank had invested 46.5 billion kronor, a sum that is 50 percent higher than the total of all advertising spending in Sweden during 2006 (30 billion kronor).

“Swedbanks nya varumärke har kostat banken mångmiljarder
Swedbanks namnbyte har kostat 46,5 miljarder kronor i medieköp.”

When the mistake was discovered the article was simply deleted from the site, although a plug for the article was still visible on the front page. When I check back just before lunch a new version of the article is up here.

The other guy blinked – how bloggers “won” the news war

Last week I compared three different tools for tracking blog links, Twingly, Technorati and Knuff. Twingly is a new service that for example the daily newspapers Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet use to show most blogged articles.

Since Twingly was so new, my last post did not do the service justice. Primelabs, the company behind Twingly, now say that the numbers visible on DN.se should be more accurate. And a new search shows that Twingly tracks as many posts as Knuff.se, and far more than Technorati. The articles listed below are the five most blogged articles at DN.se as of yesterday.

Blogs posts tracked
Article Twingly Technorati Knuff
“V försöker kringgå las” 30 17 29
“Lagrådet ger grönt ljus till avlyssning” 25 13 27
“Upphovsmän kan få jaga fildelare” 35 28 35
“Fortsatta turer kring Anna Nicole Smith” 23 20 22
“Arkeologer hittade 6.000 år gammal kram” 21 8 11

Please note that these numbers only reflect links visible on DN.se. There could be links that Twingly track but are not publicly visible for one reason or another.

It would have been interesting to include Bloggportalen.se in the table above, but I have not found a way to easily calculate how many links there are to a specific article. Maybe Sigge can bring some light on the matter?

The introduction of blog tracking at DN.se and SVD.se has caused quite a stir in the Swedish blogosphere, and most bloggers support the initiative. Some raise concerns that bloggers will increase the number of links to Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet in order to drive traffic to their blogs. I can’t see that this is neither surprising or very negative. Bloggers who’s main goal is to have a lot of visitors and be on top of different top lists will do whatever they can to add a few hundred readers to their stats. Others will manage their brand and build a reputation based on their integrity and link to these papers when they feel a need to do so, while refraining from doing it when it is not in line with the theme of their blog. None of these choices, or variations in between, are wrong in my view. These are just citizens that exercise their newfound rights to speak their mind. So instead of critizising bloggers who pimp for visitors, let’s rejoice at the fact that the leading newspapers of this country voluntarily invite YOU to be a part of the dissemination of news.

Maybe you’ve read Roger Enrico’s book “The Other Guy Blinked: How Pepsi Won the Cola Wars”, about how the invincible cola giant Coca-Cola was pressured into changing the formula to the much disliked new Coke, a gigantic fiasco. Well, I think you can look at the introduction of Twingly and similar services (like Aftonbladet/Bloggportalen) as a historic shift where media as the sole gatekeeper has become a thing of the past. With the introduction of blogs and other social media, resisting to invite readers/bloggers into the conversation in the end was meaningless. This is what we’ve been waiting for all along – the breaking up of MSM’s monopoly of news distribution. MSM blinked, in a positive manner of speaking. Sure, a lot of crap will float to the surface, but readers will learn over time where to go and who to skip (as they do when they read blogs in general), and Twingly’s ranking system might help bring the most relevant links to the top of the lists.

And regarding the supposed increase in links to DN and SVD, among the top blogged articles, a majority are from DN and SVD according to Knuff. But according to Twingly, there does not seem to be a huge increase in links to these two sites. So, no need for panic just yet.


Power is not influence – DN gets it wrong, again

I wasn’t going to comment on the Swedish study about antisemitism that was published in Dagens Nyheter on 14 March, but when DN for the second time publishes an incorrect phrase I think it’s worth speaking up. The study (pdf, 3MB) has been the subject of much debate since it was published and it made conclusions like “one out of four Swedes don’t want a jewish Swedish Prime Minister”. About 3,000 Swedes were asked a series of negative statements against jews in order to see how antisemitism is spread in Sweden. But I noticed that there was a slight difference between one of these questions in the survey and how that question was reported in the press. It may seem insignificant, but trust is in the details.

In the survey, respondents were asked whether they agreed or not with the following statement.

“Jews have too much influence in the world today”
“Judarna har för mycket inflytande i världen idag”

In the first article in DN, this question had now been changed to:

“Jews have too much power in the world today”
“Judarna har för stor makt i världen i dag”

But “power” is not the same as “influence”.

The same incorrect phrase was used this morning by Mats Bergstrand in DN. I would argue that the second statement sounds “worse” than the first, and in my view it is a careless (and hopefully not deliberate) use of information. Not reporting correctly opens a survey up for critisism, and like in this case, doesn’t help the important fight against antisemitism.

Footnote: the question can be found on page 125 in the report.