Saturday, 21 November 2009

This blog is dead, long live my new one!

I am ending this blogger blog, but I have risen again at -, hope see you there. And thanks for dropping by.

Print and online newspaper advertising

One problem with the benefits of metrics and statistics on the Internet is that advertisers can now see in stark detail how successful their ads and campaigns have been.

Yet the numbers are frequently low, thus bringing an impression of wasted money, little return on investment.

Yet how successful are print ads, all you know is how many people bought a paper, unless you have a specific offer tied into the ad, there is little way of getting any specfic stats.

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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Breaking News online: how and why

the moment of victory - BBC news website screencap
An online 'Breaking News' article for a newspaper website: What's happening/happened, where and when.
It doesn't need a full explanation of how and why the event happened.
Breaking it online as it happens will open up the event to feedback and comment or reaction, helping to grow the story or at least gaining a sense of public opinion.

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

MPs standing down, but not just yet

Watching Question Time.

So why can MPs who've abused their expenses funded by taxpayers and been found out, then agree to resign after pressure from taxpaying constituents and the media but decide to stay on for another year, and earn more wages?

In what other job would an employee have such control over their destiny?

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Journalists vs PR: surely no contest?

Commenting on Roy Greenslade's MediaGuardian article: Truth-telling hacks defeat the flacks

The Media Society and the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) jointly hosted a seminar/debate, "Hacks and flacks: can there ever be a marriage?"
It's when there's so much PR copy being published as news by overworked or understaffed news organisations that the line becomes blurred between journalism and churnalism.

I mean no offence, as PR staff have a valid job to do, but its the use of their content in an ever-challenging news content environment that's creating a problem.

There's surely no competition between a theoretically unbiased, trained journalist against a PR employee directly leaning towards their employee's viewpoint.

Same goes for council 'newspapers'. The lines become blurred for the public until they can't recognise the difference.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Google and newspapers: a how to

Google links to everything, including news stories on newspaper websites, everybody benefits.

Yes it makes a few pence each time newspaper stories are shown in Google News search results, but then a user will most like click through to read the full story - that they might not necessarily have otherwise found - on a newspaper site. That's when the party starts:

Tell them where they are: clearly brand site, location of newspaper, any clear aims and objectives of website.

Showcase your site alongside all articles: content related to the article; the best/highlighted articles/content/relevant advertising features/commercial partners.

Give clear opportunity to comment/engage/interact and feedback directly to the journalist/editor.

If a newspaper does all this, they need not complain about Google News' use of their headlines, but start increasing traffic and revenue potential...

Saturday, 4 April 2009

BBC News Radar - a river of news

I like the 'river of news' idea of the News Radar (see current beta version), where news junkies can get their fix in real-time of the latest news. check boxes to select certain areas to follow might be a good idea, but then if you want a specific subject, you would go to that section anyway.

The original publication time and last update time are good features - this information should appear in this way on the actual story page itself.

On the design/layout: page width is far too wide (which I assume would have a sidebar in a finished release) which is partly why the feint grey section text appears visually adrift of the headline/abstract.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Almost there - work project: Posh Pages

So after getting a little pertinent and constructive feedback from one user, and having a good secondary look at the first beta layout, I've tweaked's Posh landing page layout.

  • Tightened up the Posh content header vertically and shrunk heading graphic as it's already under a template header and navigation structure.
  • Simplified the navigation options, took out extraneous copy on the header to encourage users to dive straight into page content.
  • Re-organised the content layout on the landing page to give a quick snapshot of latest Posh events whilst keeping as much 'above the fold' as possible, but without overloading the eye - a tough balancing act with only 815pixels in width.
  • Shortened visible league table so as to draw user into full table which has sortable columns via jquery, plus an extra page view!
  • Added club information box, an obvious initial oversight.
  • Highlighted RSS feed/email alerts using Feedburner.
  • Hoping to bring in CoverItLive element in the future.

Posh Pages: home

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Twitpic bug shows the downside of trusting social software

After reading about BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones's worrying incident after a Twitpic bug swapped an innocuous image for a rather less family-friendly one, it acutely shows the problem with all the myriad of social software, free tools and applications that become an integral part of our lives, and are even used regularly for work purposes.

You have to trust that the people behind it can keep the tool going and the service reliable in order to honour the faith and trust put in by signing up.

Twitter has become a valuable tool for news producers: at my paper we have a Twitter feed that also powers our facebook status, and if that became buggy like in Rory's experience or stopped working it would impact on our audiences perception of us as a publisher as well as the tool in question.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Blogging the news

Some thoughts on a strategy for how best to deliver breaking news alongside newspaper content and keep some clarity for users and the newsroom alike:

A separate breaking news editorial channel, purely for blog-style raw as-it-happens coverage, before a fully rounded story is published in the main news channel.

Use Twitter for interview's (dare I say Twinterviews?) before publishing full story as news/feature - as used by George Hopkin.

Also noticed a follow-up blog post by Adam Tinworth on blogging, journalism, standards and the NUJ which has developed via the comment stream into a debate on the nature of blogging in relation to journalism, and whether journalistic standards should be applied to bloggers.

The initial questions are: define blogging; what are the stated aims and audience of a particular blog; where does Twitter fall in this, micro-blogging as it is, there should still be best language/grammar rules followed if it's published by an established news provider.

Death of a newspaper, Rocky Mountain News

Just watching the video 'Final edition' made by Denver, Colorado's daily newspaper Rocky Mountain News on their own demise today, 27 February 2009.

This was not a smalltown operation or a throwaway freesheet, but a major metropolitan newspaper with a pretty impressive website.

You can see in the 21-minute video, a busy, modern newsroom filled with newspeople, focussed on their jobs but coming to terms with the impending doom as the 149-year-old newspaper was closed by its owner Scripps.

I've been in the industry less than 6 years, but this a chilling almost unbelievable vision, their website homepage full of the farewells, a collection of their best features, but most crushingly, hard news reporting on their own job losses: 'Goodbye Colorado'.

As Rich Boehne, the president and CEO of Scripps said, the city of Denver could no longer support 2 morning dailies, the only bright note for Denver is at least they still have one title The Denver Post, only one unopposed voice, but still a voice.

The video itself was well put together, slick, stylish, along with the photos of the papers final hours, all deepening the thought that dozens of talented journalists and staff will have nothing to do come Monday morning.

Reporters talked of stories ready for the Saturday edition that would never be published. Best of luck to all the Rocky staff for the future.

Only days before the owners of the San Francisco Chronicle announced that they needed drastic cuts within weeks or they would be forced to sell or close the paper (in a city where there is no other daily!) which was first published in 1865.

In the end, this is a(nother) telling moment in the evolution of news media, but most ominously a warning for all newspaper owners worldwide where the recession has hit: the business model is crumbling and companies that can't weather the storm will have to cull more titles.

The message to take away I guess is that we all need to get on with it, keep trying to produce the best paper/website we can, try to pull in a more subscribers and visitors and any ideas to save/make money, well they are going to come in handy.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A policy for online news stories

Following Felix Salmon's article 'When Newspapers Rewrite Their Online Articles' I considered our policy at Incorrect facts must and should be changed in articles already published online.

But we constantly develop breaking stories, but only subtly alter finished stories from paper by rewriting headlines/intros for web audience/SEO purposes - except for factual inaccuracies.

For larger features, or stories with multiple case studies, these are sometimes broken up, but always interlinked to maximise their potential reach to our audience.

I agree the essence of any article once posted shouldn't be changed, and we constantly consider the pros/cons of editing an existing story or adding a new one for an ongoing event or issue.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Newsmix opens the door to engagement

Newsmixer is certainly worth taking a look at from a local news perspective.

Basically a news community site (based around Eastern Iowa, in the America) sets out to encourage and facilitate interaction and conversation on local news, integrating facebook into the mix, tapping into a strong online community without having to force potential members to sign up to another site.

It offers users the chance to comment directly, share short 'quip' comments (limited to 140 characters naturally) or to write a 'letter to the editor', showing all the freedom and open-ended opportunity the online world bring to news media.

Bringing the public and journalists closer - certainly not ground-breaking, but by making it the focus of the site rather than an optional element it does help to seed the sense of community?

And if it all works out, we'll all be doing it:

News Mixer is free and open source software, coded in Python with the Django Web development framework, and uses Facebook Connect for authentication. You can read more about our development process in our report, and find our source at Google Code.

Very impressive.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Online journalism timeline: the evolution of news

Andy Dickinson's A timeline of online media landmarks embedded below, is based upon Mindy McAdams' Timeline of breaking and Paul Bradshaw’s “Are these the biggest moments in journalism-blogging history? showing how news reporting has changed since the evolution of online journalism from the 1990s to the present day.

The tools and skills of the multimedia journalist and citizen journalist have changed the landscape of journalism and the way the public receive and now interact with the news.

The technology has empowered those in the middle of an event to tell the story in words, pictures and video, live online before any mainstream media arrive, which has forced many of the mainstream media to bring this into the mix, perfectly illustrated by the Mumbai terror attack.

The BBC's online 'as it happened' updates contained many tweets from the ground. Although Mindy McAdams asks:

whether the mainstream media are superfluous in these situations - or can they perform a useful service to the public by sifting and filtering the incoming reports from the center of the events?
A trained journalist should be the gatekeeper for the final version of such stories but maybe social media coupled with the improvement of faster and more efficient mobile technology has allowed citizen journalism to find acceptance in the media?

Sunday, 9 November 2008

How can newspapers ride out the 'perfect storm'

Apologies for paste such a large chunk of Roy Greenslade's prelude to the Society of Editors conference this week, but it defines the current outlook for newspapers, and a strategy to save the very essence of what newspapers are and what journalism is, rather than just looking at bottom lines and treating companies as a business:

What editors should be thinking about instead is the development of new media journalism as a process. They should be thinking as journalists rather than as managers.

Unless journalists start thinking, debating and innovating in order to explore new methods, they will contribute not only to the collapse of their newspapers - and their own careers - but also to the failure of journalism itself.

What we need to do is find out how we can use the new media tools to take journalism on to a new stage. We need to convince publishers that they should give their journalists time, space and resources to explore new avenues, to build relationships with non-journalists, to stimulate a new form of journalism.

There will be mistakes and we will go down dead-ends (as we have done already), and it will be messy at the beginning. But the eventual benefits for journalists, for communities, for society will make that effort worthwhile.

James Robinson writing in The Observer highlights how the industry may never be the same once this tag-team storm of a worldwide recession and mass shift in media consumption have settled:

Newspapers have weathered recessions before, spending in the good times and cutting costs when revenue falls. 'It will sort out the men from the boys,' says one senior industry executive. But a structural shift, with advertising migrating online, represents a sterner challenge.

Few now doubt that the combination could kill off titles that have been publishing for generations.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The power of the media and delayed outrage

So Russell Brand has fallen on his sword for his ill-judged prank call to Andrew Sachs.

I suppose following the delayed outrage of tens of thousands (there were 2 to the BBc in the first week after the broadcast), most of which I wager didn't and never listen to his show and may well not even have heard the broadcast until a week after the event.

The prank itself is not really an issue, that is Brand's style - Ross may well regret joining in - but Channel 4's Fonejacker may well be jealous at the amount of coverage Brand's single call is getting!

But the Beeb broadcast the show despite Sachs not giving the green-light to use the content, and they must face up to that.

But the whirlwind of media and political bandwagon-jumping and finger-wagging is rather sad and tired, talks of a drop in standards of comedy and broadcasting.

We must not stifle creativity - that's not to ignore the fact that some ideas fall flat and backfire - even within a seemingly restricted public service broadcaster.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Searching a website, the NYT way

You can simply search within the New York Times' content by double-clicking on a word. No need to find and type in a box, open an article and just try it.


To find reference information about the words used in this article, double-click on any word, phrase or name. A new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.
From the New York Times -