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.