Twitter reinstates journalist banned for NBC Olympics criticism

The two-day saga of the journalist suspended from Twitter because he posted the corporate email address of an NBC executive is over. Twitter reinstated Guy Adams’ account today.

On the company’s official blog, Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray wrote that the company does not generally monitor the content that flows over the network to check for abuse. Instead, it relies on abuse reports posted by users to flag content for review.

But that’s not how it worked this time.

Because Twitter has partnered with NBC to highlight tweets about the Olympics, there is apparently a “team working closely with NBC” as part of the partnership, and that team did “proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules” and encouraged NBC to file an abuse complaint.

Adams’ Twitter suspenstion caused an uproar online, bringing criticism from all corners of the Internet about the microblogging site’s mishandling of a free speech issue.

Some examples of the criticism:

Here is the tweet that caused the trouble:

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CenturyLink gets money for rural broadband and other news

Internet provider CenturyLink is in the news today for good or ill.

The Associated Press and other outlets report that the company will receive $1.9 million from the FCC to provide broadband to rural areas of Montana.

THE FCC says the money will provide access to 6,300 residents who currently don’t have broadband. Roughly 55 percent of the state’s rural residents don’t have broadband access.

The money is part of a larger pot of $35 million CenturyLink will accept from the FCC for similar projects across the country.

CenturyLink was eligible for $90 million from the federal agency’s Connect America Fund, but restrictions on the use of those funds “made further deployment uneconomic,” according to a press release from the company.

Also, MTN News reports that one of the company’s fiber optic cables was severed overnight between Helena and Bozeman.

CenturyLink, the article states, provides Internet service and networks for the state state government, and departments MTN spoke to “beleive that every state and county agency east of the break could be currently offline.”

The state uses a system called SummitNet to store information, which was affected by the break. It also could have affected many county websites.

Here at the Chronicle, I had access to mt.gov at 10 a.m., but your milage may vary.

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Vann’s loses credit line, bankruptcy a possibility

Missoula-based electronics store Vann’s announced today that it has lost a credit line from a major lender, making it possible that the company with stores across the state may have to file for bankruptcy.

The Missoulian reports that the announcement came a month after Vann’s brought in a new CEO, Jerry McConnell, to help restructure the company.

McConnell told the newspaper that customers will see little difference in Vann’s operations and emphasized that the financial dealings would be “internal work.”

An investment adviser told the Missoulian that while this doesn’t mean Vann’s is going out of business, it is “a red flag for a major Montana company.”

Read the full story at the Missoulian.

Full disclaimer: Vann’s is basically my source for all things electronic. I have been a customer of the store for years.

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Google, calculate!

A post from the “neat Internet stuff” category. Google has added a little virtual calculator to its search results. You can see it when you type a mathematical expression into the search bar or when you simply search for the word “calculator.”

TechCrunch tells us that the calculator is a “full-power, voice-enabled scientific calculator with nearly all the functions of the tangible model.” The calculator works with Google Desktop Voice Search too.

Lots of sites out there have been leading their stories with little colorful bits about how “your plastic calculator has probably been gathering dust for a while now.” However my old TI-89 has one advantage of this one: The desktop version doesn’t appear to be accessible with the keyboard, and one thing I’ve always hated is typing with a mouse.

NBC Montana reporter becomes involved in her own story

Our reporter Whitney Bermes passed this link on to me this morning. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to talk for a few minutes about journalism ethics.

NBC Montana reporter helps locate missing rafter

Emily Adamson, a reporter at KECI in Missoula writes in a story that a rafter went missing after being swept away in the Bitterroot River on Tuesday night.

Adamson writes:

“…crews were getting ready to put in search and rescue boats, when I spotted the missing man walking along Highway 93 toward Lolo.”

She goes on:

“I called 911 and members of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office quickly showed up and confirmed it was the missing rafter”

Traditionally, journalists do not report on stories they are involved in. It is frowned upon in the “conflict of interest” sections of numerous journalism ethics guidelines, including SPJ’s and the ethics guidelines of the Radio Television Digital News Association:

Professional electronic journalists should present the news with integrity and decency, avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest, and respect the dignity and intelligence of the audience as well as the subjects of news.

When a reporter must report on something he or she was involved in personally, it’s a big deal. It should be discussed with editors before it ever sees the light of day. Consider the case of Claire Hoffman.

Back in 2006, Hoffman was working for the Los Angeles Times on a profile of Joe Francis, honcho of the “Girls Gone Wild” empire. After following Francis around for some time doing her reporting, Francis turned on Hoffman. One night, outside a club, Francis grabbed her, twisting her arms behind her back and pinning her against a car.

Hoffman became part of the story in a big way. She later talked with the American Journalism Review how she dealt with that:

I had already spent quite a lot of time with him and done quite a lot of reporting before the incident in the parking lot. I felt like I had a really good story. And then in the parking lot it was an absolute shock what happened … The next morning I called my editors and laid it all out for them and told them, “This is what happened, and I don’t know what to do. I hate the idea of letting go of this story, but obviously this will be seen as me being biased.” Originally it was going to be something that would run in the business section. After we talked about it, we decided it would be first-person. It was not originally a magazine piece. We also decided to put it right at the beginning and say, this is what happened, put that card on the table and not wait until the end.

Hoffman didn’t have a choice in becoming part of the story. Some reporters do have a choice, and it seems that more and more of them are choosing to report on stories they are involved in or become involved in the stories they are already reporting. One reason for this trend, writes Luther Turmelle is that journalists are constantly urged these days to develop personal brands — making themselves into minor celebrities with loyal fans. Becoming a part of the story can often make the reporter out to be a heroic figure — a style of reporting some have called “emo-journalism.”

He writes:

As long a journalism remains a business driven by advertising, attracting the largest audience possible will always be a primary consideration for journalists. But at the same time, we can not forget that once reporters become part of a story, it changes forever and does not reflect reality.

Elsewhere on the SPJ network, the organization’s president Kevin Smith wrote in 2010, just after the Haiti earthquake, “SPJ cautions journalists to avoid making themselves part of the stories they are reporting. Even in crises, journalists have a responsibility to their audiences to gather news objectively and to report facts.”

There are numerous other examples and debacles to be found out there on the Internet. The point is this: I can see no compelling reason for Adamson writing this story herself. Even on a small search and rescue story like this one, Adamson should have handed the story off to another reporter. There were no extraordinary circumstances here, no reasons to violate the ethics that our profession is supposed to hold dear.

Even on the small stories, we can’t let be lax on our ethics or be lazy. It’s a slippery slope, and the public doesn’t deserve that.

YouTube hopes real names will help defeat nasty comments

XKCD: YouTubeYouTube is trying to get people who post comments on the video sharing site to use their real names, according to the official YouTube blog.

Starting back on June 29, the site gave users the choice of how their identity should appear. Users can pull information from their Google ID and even from their Google Plus pages to fill in biographical information on YouTube.

Moreover, YouTube allows users now to review their past comments and decide whether they want their real name identity to be associated with those past comments — or not. Considering the deplorable state of commenting on the site, some people might not want to associate their real names with their YouTube past.

Given our stance here at the paper to allow anonymous comments, I thought this news was interesting.

Verizon launches 4G LTE service in Bozeman

A quick follow up to something I wrote about a couple weeks ago: This past Thursday, Verizon Wireless officially turned on its 4G LTE wireless data service in Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula.

The company says its 4G LTE service now covers 337 markets and is available to two-thirds of the U.S. population.

The coverage area in Bozeman, according to Verizon:

Including the Montana State University campus and along I-90 east to Exit 313 and west to Exit 298. Coverage will extend west of Hwy 191 to the intersection of Jackrabbit Lane and the Bozeman Mall. Coverage includes the city of Livingston.

Have you seen a speed boost in your Verizon cellphone coverage since last week?

New website aims at bringing businesses into Montana

The Associated Press reports this morning that Gov. Brian Schweitzer has launched a new website to help out-of-state businesses relocate to Montana.

Innovatemontana.com is part of a wider campaign promoting Montana. The campaign includes commercials on West Coast television and advertising-wrapped semi-trucks in touring Seattle.

The website itself has resources for working, living and relocating to Montana. It was built with the help of private business sponsors, the AP reports.

Verizon says 4G LTE network coming to Bozeman

Mobile data users in Bozeman could see a speed boost in the coming weeks, as Verizon Wireless has announced it will roll out its 4G LTE network in a few spots around the state.

The cities that will soon see 4G LTE coverage include Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula. Specifically in Bozeman, the service will cover the MSU campus and along Interstate 90 from exits 298 to 313. Some portion of Four Corners also appears to be covered, though I am waiting to clarify that with Verizon, as the press release is not clear. The city of Livingston is included as well.

In the press release, Verizon said the new network should allow for data speeds of 5-12 megabits per second on the download and 2-5 megabits per second on the upload.

In general, 4G refers to the fourth generation of mobile communications standards. It is the successor to 3G technology. LTE stands for “long term evolution.” The terms are often used by cellphone marketers with little concern for the actual network technologies, making it difficult to determine just what 4G and all the rest of the industry’s alphabet soup means.

I have a voicemail in with the Verizon press contact, so I hope to clear up a few things and find out what this means for people with smartphones in the Bozeman area. Stay tuned.