04 Nov 2009
Here at Meedan we've been recently discussing what an Arabic-English stylebook for digital journalism would look like.
We've been inspired by an Arabic stylebook published by the Amman-based Abu Mahjoob Creative Productions and the Washington, D.C.-based International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), with the support of USAID's Jordan Media Strengthening Program. The stylebook was created with the intention of becoming a common reference in Jordan for print, broadcast, photo and digital journalism in the since most media outlets in Jordan lack their own stylebook.
In English, we've also enjoyed reading the similarly free digital BBC styleguide, which was developed to facilitate online training in broadcast and digital media.
These two documents have inspired us to discuss what a stylebook tailored for cross-cultural translation of digital media would look like; not only would a digital media stylebook have to be flexible, dynamic and ideally crowd-sourced to address shifting web standards, but also the availability of sources that are difficult to fact-check, such as Twitter, begs the question of how to maintain journalistic credibility in a digital age.
As we discuss today on IRC (foonetic #meedan 17GMT) how to establish credibility in real-time cross-language web, we will begin with concerns about following opposition protests in Iran, but will also be addressing broader questions of Twitter etiquette, starting with these, thanks to Chris Blow:
When do you use "via" vs "RT"?
Does anyone use "HT" (heard through)?
Should RT come at the beginning or the end?
If a tweet is 140 characters, how do you edit their tweet so you can add attribution?
When is it inappropriate to RT someone?
Is it bad form to retweet someone who is posting from a private account?
We will further delve into broader topics specific to cross-language digital media:
Translating news (i.e., how many translators and editors need to be involved?)
Distributed newsroom workflow (i.e., what to do with coworkers who have never met, work at different times, and speak different languages)
Realtime conversation curation (i.e. when do you censor, or ask for more?)
Interviewing over the web (Is a skype chat ok? Is video inappropriate?)
Nonprofit digital journalism (How do we make money and how does it influence us?)
Fundraising guidelines (When we feature a funding partner on the homepage, does that raise any qestions?)
Tagging news (what should we tag?)
News analysis (how can we deal with the volume of what is available?)
As we crowd-source these questions, we also hope to introspectively address the question of how crowd-sourcing is vetted to create standards. Comments are welcome.