The dangers of crowdsourcing

Investigations by US authorities into the bomb attacks on the Boston marathon have relied heavily on ‘crowdsourcing’, with pleas issued to the world  for help in solving the crime.

Harnessing the power of the internet in this way is not new. But the scale of it in this case is unprecedented. And much of the resulting activity has been grossly uninformed and downright speculative. Continue reading


The politics of leaking

Amidst all the current sabre rattling on the Korean peninsula, one report has significantly upped the stakes – the apparent ‘leak’ of a confidential US intelligence report stating that the North Korean regime has a nuclear bomb that can be launched on a missile.

Previous reports have cast doubt on the regime’s ability to produce a bomb small enough to be carried on a missile. Now, it seems, there’s a secret US intelligence report that says it may well be able to do just this. Continue reading

Openness, always the best policy

The public will forgive most things in the wake of a sincere apology – take any consumer scandal or public relations problem of recent years and it can be seen that in nearly all cases the transgression of the brand or person concerned was eventually forgotten.

There are exceptions, of course. If the offence was particularly grave or heinous, a recovery is not possible. The end of Gary Glitter’s pop career, the renaming of Gerald Ratner’s eponymous jewellery stores and the demise of the News of the World all testify to that. Continue reading

Can sports magazines survive?

Another day, another paddling magazine. At least, that’s how it felt in late 2012 when two titles called “The Paddler” emerged and I spent hours a week indulging a shameful habit on the internet. That’s, er, scouring the web for the plethora of canoe-related e-zines out there, in case you were wondering.

I glimpsed what might have been signs of new thinking at the BCU when I heard that the publishing of Canoe Focus was being contracted out. I wondered if this would be the governing body’s ‘moment’ when it went digital. But, no, it turned out to be just a bit of a redesign and a ‘new’ magazine which, to my untutored eye, looked pretty similar to what went before – and which I never really bothered to read either. Continue reading

Doping: a journalistic failure?

So why did the media apparently fail to uncover the doping scandal in cycling? Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, who followed Lance Armstrong closely for years and was the subject of a libel case as a result, thinks it was for two reasons:

Firstly, coverage was heavily influenced by the cyclist’s battle with cancer. Secondly, journalists weren’t sufficiently detached – they’d become “fans with typewriters”. Continue reading