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The Muckraker

Meghann Farnsworth's Blog
Meghann Farnsworth | Update | September 1, 2011

Center for Investigative Reporting, California Watch named finalists in online news awards

The Center for Investigative Reporting was named a finalist in five categories, including four with California Watch, in the Online News Association awards.

Launched in 2000, the Online Journalism Awards are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism.

“We are extremely proud of our staff and what they have accomplished," said Mark Katches, editorial director for the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch. "It’s exciting to see this many nominations in such a prestigious contest – especially so many for a start-up organization that didn’t exist a couple of years ago.”

Anthony Moor, a managing editor at Yahoo!, said in a statement on the association's website, "We found that excellence in digital journalism today requires not only traditional shoe-leather reporting and engaging storytelling, but also sophisticated use of social tools and multimedia techniques," Moor, along with the Associated Press’ Director of Global Product Operations Ruth Gersh, co-chairs the Online Journalism Awards Committee.

The categories in which the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch are named finalists:

Parents use Facebook security features to protect kids from predators

 

Protecting children online has been a growing concern since, well, the Internet went mainstream. Predators can easily hide their identities, pretending to be younger and using fake profile pictures. With more than 500 million users worldwide, Facebook is the social network of choice to share photos and information, as well as to connect with people around the world. While it is against Facebook’s policy for children younger than 13 to have accounts, Consumer Reports found that more than 7.5 million do. And, even when a child doesn’t have his or her own account, a study released last year found that 92 percent of U.S. babies have some kind of online presence before age 2.

We asked members of our Public Insight Network to share their thoughts on this issue and whether they approve of the 12-and-younger set having their own Facebook profiles. While the vast majority of respondents said their children 12 and younger did not have Facebook accounts, many said they do post pictures of their kids online. They also said they would post pictures of their friends’ children without asking permission, but had privacy settings in place to protect those they didn’t know from seeing pictures. Only one said his or her son had been contacted by someone he didn’t know after posting his phone number on Facebook.

But let’s hear directly from those in our Public Insight Network. Here are some of the interesting and revealing answers from those raising the next generation of social media users:

**********

Q: What age was your child when you first posted a picture of him or her?
A: 4-5 months. I actually joined FB to get info and photos of my child that the day care posts to their FB account. They share the calendar, weekly menu, photos and videos on their Facebook account. They only accept parents of the children enrolled as friends.

**********

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about this issue?
A: Re: the posting pics of my children – I used to do it a lot more often when she was a baby. Now that she's older I rarely post pics of her and it has always been limited to the ppl I want to see the pics. As soon as I add a new friend they go into two groups - one that can see my status updates including pics, etc. and the other cannot even see my wall. I will definitely educate my child about the pros and cons of social networking and help her make educated decisions about what she can and cannot do online. Also, I only post pics of other people's kids if their parents already post pics of their kids on FB. I wouldn't post pics of other kids if their parents do not post pictures. All my friends do post pics of their kids so I never run into any problems with parents getting upset!

**********

Q: Are sexual predators something you worry about when it comes to social networking sites?
A: No

Q: Why or why not?
A: In general I am concerned about sexual predators. However, that is an issue with or without social networking. My grandmother was gang-raped by her uncle and some of his friends at the age of 9 – in the 1930s. That certainly predates social networking.

**********

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about this issue?
A: My policy with my 10-year-old's Facebook account is that I know his password, and he is not allowed to "friend" anyone without my permission. Also, his entire profile, even the profile picture is private to anyone that isn't on his friends list. I would suggest to other parents to have a similar policy if their child is on Facebook. Just like anything else in life, as long as you are involved and interested in what they are doing, you can keep things safe for them.

**********

Q: Which privacy settings – if any – do you use to limit who can view these photos?
A: Custom setting

Q: Are you OK with children under 13 having their own accounts?
A: No

Q: Are sexual predators something you worry about when it comes to social networking sites?
A: Yes

Q: Why or why not?
A: I worry that the wrong person will become attracted to a child in the photo, so I have recently stopped labeling the photos with my children's names. I never label other people's children when they are in the photo. I also changed my privacy settings so that people I don't know well in real life are blocked from seeing photos other than my very basic profile photos. I don't provide my address, phone number, or e-mail address on my profile. However, I have an uncommon name, so I'm not that hard to find.

Ashley Alvarado, public engagement manager for California Watch, contributed to this query. Share your thoughts and insights with us. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and join the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch on the Public Insight Network.

 

Meghann Farnsworth | Update | March 9, 2011

CIR’s Recommendations for SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive is rapidly approaching, and with only a few days to pore through the numerous panels being held from March 11-15th, we’ve decided to help you out.

CIR reporter G.W. Schulz (who covers homeland security) and Distribution and Online Community Manager Meghann Farnsworth have put together a helpful list of the Best of SXSW for the time-strapped investigative reporting or social media manager out there. We’ve even put them into a handy Google map so you can track panels by location.

Want to meet up during the conference? Feel free to contact us via email or @mention us on Twitter. We’ll be there all week!

G.W. Schulz: gwschulz@cironline.org
See all of G.W.’s work here.

Follow G.W. on Twitter at @GWSchulzCIR

Meghann Farnsworth: mfarnsworth@cironline.org
Follow @cironline and @CaliforniaWatch

Follow Meghann on Twitter at @MeghannCIR


View CIR heads to SXSW Interactive in a larger map

Meghann Farnsworth | Update: California Watch | February 11, 2011

A post-mortem on the "Post Mortem" social media outreach

How many social media coordinators does it take to promote a yearlong investigation between four media organizations? Distribution and Online Community Manager Meghann Farnsworth reports on the social media outreach around the Post Mortem partnership series.


 

Meghann Farnsworth | Update: Elevated Risk | November 18, 2010

DHS is now following you on Twitter!

 

Center for Investigative Reporting joins Public Insight Network

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) announced today that it has joined American Public Media’s (APM) Public Insight Network (PIN). Through PIN, investigative journalists from CIR’s California Watch project, in partnership with KQED pubic radio and television, will have access to over 96,000 citizen sources from across the country, as well as the technology to identify trends and collaborate with other journalists on ground breaking investigations. The announcement was made today at the Online News Association conference in Washington D.C., where ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity also announced that they’ve joined the network.

“The Center for Investigative Reporting is looking forward to using the Public Insight Network and its social media tools to interact with the public, broaden our knowledge and inform our reporting,” said Robert Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. “We realize that newsrooms today must have a culture where technological innovation is central and married to quality journalism. This network is another arrow in our quiver of information gathering and interactivity. We are proud to join the network with our colleagues from ProPublica and CPI. The platform will expand our ability to collaborate, gather information and reach growing and diverse audiences with high quality, trusted information.”

The Public Insight Network, funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, provides individuals a direct channel for sharing their knowledge, experience and insights with reporters around the country. This collaborative model in turn helps newsrooms improve journalistic context, depth and quality while forging deeper connections with the communities they cover.

“The Center for Investigative Reporting, with its devotion to in-depth collaboration, high-impact journalism and adaptive technologies, and the Public Insight Network, with its growing stable of newsrooms and citizen sources, is a powerful combination," said Linda Fantin, director of network journalism and innovation at American Public Media. “Together we will nurture the public’s role in newsgathering, leverage that intelligence to hold the powerful accountable, and work to secure a sustainable future for investigative reporting in the networked age."

In 2009, the Center for Investigative Reporting launched California Watch, which is now the largest investigative unit in the state. California Watch seeks to produce high-impact stories that prompt change, serve the public and reach audiences in new ways. Since its launch, the organization has received numerous accolades for its investigations, including the being named a 2010 finalist for the Online News Association "General Excellence" award; 2010 "Journalists of the Year" from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; and 2010 winner in the investigative reporting category, also from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“CIR, through its California Watch initiative, is changing the way news happens in California. It is nimble, accessible, and optimized for collaboration with a network of partners that focuses on journalism first and legacy assumptions second,” said Joaquin Alvarado, American Public Media’s Vice President of Digital Innovation. “Public Insight is a platform for changing relationships between newsrooms and communities. Together CIR and Public Insight will deepen the impact of the reporting in the California and provide a model for communities in desperate need for a re-engineered journalism.”

To learn more about American Public Media's Public Insight Network, visit PublicInsightNetwork.org.

About California Watch and The Center for Investigative Reporting

California Watch, the largest investigative team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). Priority areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process. The goal is to expose hidden truths, prompt debate and spark change. California Watch receives funding from The James Irvine Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Founded in 1977, the Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation's oldest nonprofit investigative news organization. CIR reports have reached the public through television, print, radio and the web, appearing in outlets such as 60 Minutes, PBS Frontline, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Politico and U.S. News & World Report. CIR stories have received numerous journalism awards including the Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Silver Baton, George Polk Award, Emmy Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and National Magazine Award for Reporting Excellence. More importantly, its reports have sparked congressional hearings and legislation, United Nations resolutions, public interest lawsuits and change in corporate policies. CIR founded California Watch to help create a new model for regional investigative and other high-impact reporting.

California Watch steps out for coffee with readers

Well, that was fun! This past Monday, Oct. 4, California Watch reporters, editors and other staff spread out across the state for our second Open Newsroom.

Our goal was to meet current and potential readers and to introduce ourselves to communities – and we were able to do just that. At 10 different locations, from Sacramento to the Bay Area, Visalia and Los Angeles, we met people from all walks of life.

Public engagement manager Ashley Alvarado had one of the most robust experiences; she kibitzed with a dozen or so people over coffee and pastries at the Xokolatl Café in Los Angeles. Conversation topics ranged from illegal immigration to race in America, botany, and closing the education gap. There was a diverse collection of folks at the coffeehouse, and those who sat down to chat came from very different backgrounds. Among them were parents concerned about keeping their kids off the street and getting a quality education, an immigrant struggling to achieve legal status, and a U.S. Marshal fighting crime in the States and Mexico.

In Sacramento, senior editor Robert Salladay joined reporters Chase Davis, Christina Jewett and Corey Johnson at Temple Coffee. After our first Open Newsroom’s smaller turnout, their expectations were low. Imagine their surprise when reader after reader popped up to introduce themselves, some even providing valuable tips that may lead to future stories. (Have a tip? Find the contact information for the reporter who covers your interest here.) 

Finally, one lucky open newsroom participant won an iPod Touch. Jorge Renderos of Palmdale was our randomly selected winner. Thank you to everyone who participated.

But we’re only 17 people, and we weren’t able to be in all locations at once. Jim Coffis pointed out on our Facebook page that we were only around the Central Coast. And James Koren of San Bernardino wondered why we weren’t in the Inland Empire. That’s something we are going to address in the next Open Newsroom in January – going to more places in California.

So where should we go next? Give us some ideas in the comments section below (or tweet or Facebook us), and we’ll send out a California Watch reporter or editor to at least one of the locations you suggest. 

California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is supported by major grants from the California Endowment, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.