Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Citizen journalism: What And Why??

The citizen journalism refers to a wide range of activities in which everyday people contribute information or commentary about news events. Over the years, citizen journalism has benefited
from the development of various technologies, including the printing press—which provided a medium for the pamphleteers of the 17th and 18th centuries—the telegraph, tape recorders, and
television, each of which offered new opportunities for people to participate in sharing news and commentary.

With the birth of digital technologies, people now have unprecedented access to the tools of production and dissemination. Citizen journalism encompasses content ranging from user-submitted reviews on a Web site about movies to wiki-based news. Some sites only run stories written by users, while many traditional news outlets now accept comments and even news stories from readers.
The notion of citizen journalism implies a difference, however, between simply offering one’s musings on a topic and developing a balanced story that will be genuinely useful to readers.

The citizen journalism sites is long and includes sites limited to nonprofessional reporting, such as NowPublic and CyberJournalist, and divisions of traditional media companies that feature citizen journalism, such as CNN’s I-Reporter.

Some people use blogs, wikis, digital storytelling applications, photo- and video-sharing sites, and other online media as vehicles for citizen journalism efforts. Many projects take a local
approach, centering on news about a city or even a specific neighborhood, or focus on special-interest topics, such as financial matters or gender issues.

Many academic programs combine the study of traditional journalism with new media, and these programs typically address issues of citizen voices in reporting. Some institutions sponsor initiatives that focus directly on citizen journalism and other forms of user-created content.

Scoop08, founded by students at Yale University and Andover, is a Web site devoted to coverage of the 2008 presidential election. It bills itself as “the first-ever daily national student
newspaper,” with hundreds of high school and college students across the country submitting stories about the election.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Terrorism And India live Together: No One to Worry ??

On 23 November, five near-simultaneous bomb blasts hit the three cities of Varanasi, Lucknow and Faizabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 15 people - mostly lawyers - and injuring more than 80 others.

All the blasts reportedly went off in or around civil court premises and within a couple of minutes of each other, demonstrating a certain level of sophistication in the planning and execution of this operation. A previously unknown group calling itself Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the explosions. These latest attacks, coupled with last year's Mumbai train bombings, suggest India faces an emerging threat from home-grown militancy.

Various local newspapers have cited sections of an email apparently from Indian Mujahideen that was sent a few minutes before the third blast, which hit the Lucknow court complex. That message stated: "We are not any foreign mujahideen, nor [do] we have any attachment with neighbouring countries' [agencies or groups] like ISI, LET, HUJI, etc. We are purely Indian."
The group also attempted to justify the bombings, saying: "Now, Islamic raids are going to take place against lawyers within a few minutes, Insha Allah, because police nabbed two innocent groups and framed them with fake charges. Lawyers in these places beat up those innocent group members and refused to take their cases and also did not allow others to take their cases."
This suggests that the latest bombings were retaliatory attacks specifically targeting lawyers, particularly those that formed a mob that had assaulted three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in court on 17 November. The three JeM members were arrested in Lucknow on 16 November by the Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police. The task force claimed that it had foiled a plot to abduct a senior politician in order to secure the release of 42 JeM members, including Afzal Guru, who has been sentenced to death by the Indian government for his role in the attack on the Indian parliament on 13 December 2001.

Indeed, lawyers in Uttar Pradesh have repeatedly refused to defend terrorism suspects; for example, five militants who were arrested in connection with the July 2005 attack on the Babri Masjid complex at Ayodhya failed to secure a lawyer because the Faizabad Bar Association prevented lawyers from representing them. In addition, lawyers in Varanasi refused to defend Mohammad Waliullah, an Uttar Pradesh-based cleric who is awaiting trial for his alleged role in the 2006 twin bombings of the railway station and the Sankat Mochan temple in that city.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The quality of information on the Internet is extremely variable.

At best the Internet is a great research tool, at worst it can seriously degrade your work by feeding you misinformation.
  • The good: academic publishing on the Internet
  • The bad: time wasting on Internet searches
  • The ugly: Internet hoaxes, scams and legends
The good news is that many sources of authoritative research information now publish on the Internet.

In the academic world it is considered very important that new research builds upon past research and that the quality of information is assured. There are formal processes to facilitate this, and it's essential you understand these if you are to succeed at university.

Let's look at some of the information sources that are traditionally used to support academic research and at how these are increasingly available online...

The Academic publishing process

An academic working Academics usually publish their research in formal publications such as journal papers and articles or reports. These follow formal procedures designed to quality-assure the work.

Peer review / refereeing

Peer review in progress Peer review is what characterises academic research. If a publication is peer reviewed it means it has been read, checked and authenticated (reviewed) by independent, third party academics (peers). Peer review has been the quality-control system of academic publishing for hundreds of years.

Scholarly journals

Journals in a library Peer reviewed articles are often collated into scholarly journals, which are usually published by academic publishing houses, professional societies or university press. Journals will be a key source of information you at university - you will be expected to reference articles from them in your work.

Electronic journals

A university library may have shelves full of journals, but nowadays many are also available in electronic form over the Internet. Ask your lecturers or librarians how to find and use the key journals for your subject - the sooner you do this the quicker you will succeed in your research.

Library eJournal services

Screenshot of an ejournal Access to eJournals is not usually free – a subscription has to be paid. However, a university library will have paid some subscriptions for its users – who can then get free access to these journals via their library web services, using a special password (check with your library for details).

eJournal publishers

If you can't get access to eJournals from your library you may be able to via the publisher's web services. Some offer “pay-per-view” which means you pay a small fee for each article you view.


Logo of the ROSE eprints repository Increasingly academics are choosing to publish their articles on the Internet themselves and by-pass the journal route. Universities and research communities are building online archives of these papers that are free for anyone to access online.

Bibliographic databases

Composite image of database logos Most academics rely on specialist databases to access details of past research. The databases draw together details of scholarly publications from a wide range of sources including academic publishers, journals, archives and sometimes books, and so enable you to search a large body of the scholarly literature in one go.

Academic web directories

Intute logo Of course a lot of information on the web can be useful for research even if it hasn't come from the traditional sources. Academic web directories, such as Intute, guide you to the best online resources for research – and each resource has been selected and reviewed by a subject specialist.

Library web sites

A smiling librarian The library web site for your university or college will be an important source of information for you, as it will quickly guide you to the key electronic journals, bibliographic databases and archives that you should be using for your research.

Ask your lecturers and librarians for advice on which sources you should be using.

The Bad

Newspaper clipping The bad news is that the Internet also leads to a lot of information that is completely inappropriate for your research, and it takes time and skill to weed this out.

The quality of information on the Internet

As things stand the Internet has no standard system of quality control so it's important to be careful about which information you use and not to trust everything you read.

Think about it - the Internet links millions of computers:

  • Anyone can put something on the Internet - an amateur or an expert
  • From anywhere in the World - be it the United Kingdom or Uruguay
  • They can say anything they like - be it true or false
  • And leave it there as long as they like - even if it goes out of date
  • Or change it without warning - perhaps even remove it completely

There is a danger that the information you find on the Internet will:

  • Be from a source that is unreliable, lacking in authority or credibility
  • Have content that is invalid, inaccurate, out-of-date
  • Not be what it seems!

Weeding out poor quality information takes time

Most people use very simple search techniques when they want to find information on the Internet using a search engine such as Google.

These can produce thousands if not millions of web sites to explore: some information will be useful, some will be useless – it’s up to you to discern which is which!

It can take considerable time and skill to sift through search engine results and evaluate which are the best sources.

Although it may seem a quick and easy option to turn to a search engine for your research, it might be more effective to turn to web services designed specifically for university and college research such as your library web site.

It’s easy to miss key information

If you want to find something on the Internet, you go to a search engine, as they contain everything that is available online, right? Wrong!

Search engines only cover a proportion of what is available online, a lot of information is hidden or invisible to them. For example, some of the databases of research literature that we discussed earlier will not appear in search engine results, especially if they require a subscription or password to get access.

It’s also worth remembering that search engines only search information that is online, and of course a huge body of research literature is still only available in print form in books and journals.

If you try doing the same search in different search engines you will get a different set of results on each search engine – which reveals that none of them index the whole Internet.

magnifying glass icon Try this to compare search engines

It's a common misconception that search engines (such as Google) search everything - they don't - so if you rely on them alone you may miss some of the key sources for your research - consider using other sources too, such as your library catalogue, other databases and academic web search tools.

The Ugly

At worst the Internet can lead you to misinformation that could land you in real trouble.

Unfortunately there are a lot of sharks on the Internet - people who want to trick you, misinform you, deceive you and defraud you. Some web sites and emails can be real crime scenes.

Be sceptical, not paranoid!

This page will highlight some classic cases of misinformation on the Internet: Internet hoaxes, urban legends, scams and hate sites.

You need to develop some healthy scepticism when using the Internet for research but there's no need to get paranoid - we've already seen that there's plenty of good stuff out there too. OK, let's get ugly ...

Internet hoaxes

Some web sites are fakes designed to be spoofs, parodies or jokes. This is fine as long as you realise it's a fake and don't take it at face value!

Hoaxes are often about famous people, politics, products or organisations. Their content is humorous and the fact that they are not ‘real' sites can be easy to spot. Some sites even include a disclaimer, just in case you don't get the joke, freely admitting that the web site is a hoax.

Source of Information : Place, E., Kendall, M., Hiom, D., Booth, H., Ayres, P., Manuel, A., Smith,
P. (2006) "Internet Detective: Wise up to the Web", 3rd edition, Intute
Virtual Training Suite, [online]. Available from:

Agrochemical Industry and Agriculture: Together but Still Apart

The World Bank's policies are still supporting the agro chemical industry in a major way. Between 1993 to 1995, the Bank approved US$56.9 million worth of contracts for pesticides and agrochemicals.

Six companies are associated with US$3 million or more in Bank-approved agrochemical sales over the three year period between FY 93-95: Rhone Poulenc (France), BASF (Germany), Zeneca (UK), Sumitomo (Japan), FMC Corp. (US), Helm (Germany). Another five were to receive US$1-3 million: Bayer (Germany), Roussel Uclaf (France), Cyanamid (US), Air Lloyd (Germany), and Hoescht (Germany). The company at the top of this list, Rhone Poulenc in France, was the big winner in terms of sales. In FY93-95 it stood to make US$18.6 million, or 33% of the value of all Bank-approved contracts benefiting the G-7 agrochemical industry. In addition, the Bank hired, through its Executive Exchange program, a senior staff member from Rhone Poulenc.

Two of the Pesticide Action Network's "Dirty Dozen" pesticides appear in these contracts: paraquat and DDT. Contracts to French and German companies support the procurement of almost US$120,000 of paraquat for two Bank projects in Nigeria.

Paraquat is a highly toxic chemical that can cause death in moderate concentrations and which is used as an agent of suicide in developing countries. It is banned in nine countries; in the US, it is restricted to use by trained applicators or persons under their direct supervision.DDT is banned for all uses in 49 countries, is severely restricted in 23 others, and has been found to disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system. Again, a French company stood to gain almost US$880,000 from the supply of 250 tons of DDT for use in a Bank-financed health sector project in Madagascar.