Tag Archives: The Guardian

A lesson from Superstorm Sandy: How to find sources using social media

By Ian Silvera

In a world where an extraordinary amount of people own smartphones, it’s easier than ever to connect instantaneously with those affected by significant news events wherever you happen to be based. But what tools can help reporters find those affected?

Simple searches on Twitter or Facebook may present too many ‘junk leads’ to wade through. Tools like TweetDeck are better, but what if you were able to find social media users more quickly through geolocation? Surely that would be a much more efficient method?

There are numerous websites out there that offer this functionality.

Continue reading

Hyperlocal Voices: Ian Wylie, Jesmond Local

JesmondLocal

Yessi Bello continues the Hyperlocal Voices series with an interview with JesmondLocal‘s Ian Wylie, who decided to dabble in local journalism after taking voluntary redundancy from a national newspaper. Still viewed as a “pro-bono”, ” good thing to do” Jesmond Local has now become an integral part of the Jesmond Community.

1)Who were the people behind the blog, and what where their backgrounds?

After 15 years working for The Guardian as a reporter, features writer and finally section editor, I took voluntary redundancy in 2009, and began thinking about what I would do with the next chapter of my career. I’d been involved mostly in national newspaper and magazine journalism, so local journalism was something I hadn’t dabbled in before.

The concept of “hyperlocal” fascinated me as an area for me to explore and an opportunity for me also to “give something back”. I discovered that Newcastle University lecturer David Baines had a research interest in the subject. We met to discuss and he suggested I offer some of his students the chance to launch a hyperlocal website, which we did almost exactly a year ago. Continue reading

Guardian makes its comments accessible, SEO friendly and mobile friendly all in one go!

The Guardian has changed its user-generated comment system – moving from a client-side system to a server-side one. (This story was first published here, where you can read a bit more of the background.)

With the old system, once you loaded a story, some javascript would go off and look up readers’ comments and display them. This wasn’t terribly accessibleif you couldn’t or didn’t run javascript, you couldn’t see the comments.

It was also bad for SEO, as search engines couldn’t run the javascript (so couldn’t see the comments). And if your mobile didn’t run javascript (like mine), you couldn’t read the comments either.

With the new system, the comments are just part of the web page, like all the rest of the text.

This is a great change by the Guardian, and not before time. Google has already started to index the text of comments, as this search for some text I left as a comment once shows.

If you notice any problems, they’ve asked you to point them out.

C&binet: The mice that roared. Or at least wrote some things on Post-Its.

I spent today at the hyperlocal C&binet event, organised by Creative Industries MP Sion Simon at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport. I’ve already blogged my thoughts leading up to event but thought I would add some more links and context.

For me, it is significant that this happened at all. Normally these sorts of events are dominated by large publishers with lobbying muscle. Yet here we had a group combining hyperlocal bloggers, successful startups like Facebook, Ground Report, Global Voices and the Huffington Post, social media figures like Nick Booth and Jon Bounds, and traditional organisations like The Guardian, BBC, RSA and Ofcom. Jeff Jarvis pitched into the mix via Skype.

As for the event itself, it began the previous afternoon with a presentation from Enders Analysis, embedded below: Continue reading

Newspapers: turn off your RSS feeds

Update, 2 days later: Paul lets me guest post here (ie I wrote this, not him). It was going fairly well until I wrote this post … You can read my climbdown here

The latest subscriber figures (see table below, and first published in my blog’s newspapers category) show that, apart from a couple of exceptions, it’s time for newspapers to turn off their RSS feeds – and hand over the server space, technical support and webpage real estate to an alternative, such as their Twitter accounts.

(You can read some of the defences of RSS here and here)

The table below shows that only 3 of the 9 national newspapers have an RSS feed with more than 10,000 subscribers in Google Reader.

And most newspaper RSS feeds have readerships in the 00s, if that.

melanie-phillips-rssDaily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips has just 11 subscribers to her RSS feed (maybe there’s hope for the UK population yet …).

Despite having virtually no users, the Mail churns out 160 RSS feeds and the Mirror 280. All so a couple of thousand people can look at them in total.

The other papers are just as bad. And while the Guardian has a couple of RSS readers with decent numbers (partly because Google recommends it in its news bundle), it has more feeds than there are people in the UK … Continue reading

Lessons in community from community editors #2: Mark Fothergill, The Guardian

I’ve been speaking to news organisations’ community editors on the lessons they’ve learned from their time in the job. In the 2nd of the series, the Guardian’s Mark Fothergill:

1. Getting the tools right for the job are ultra-important, both front end and back end:

Too many sites knock together something that ‘will do’ and it always comes back to haunt.

An oft-made mistake is spending lots of time on front end, user-facing functionality and spending no time thinking about how to moderate it.

Additionally, once users have tools/functionality, good or bad, they grow accustomed to them and when you then attempt to ‘improve’ the offering at a later date, they inevitably don’t like it and you can lose a sizeable portion of your community.

2. Define your role (and more specifically, the role of the moderation team):

If it’s not clear to other departments, particularly editorial, that the final decision on the moderation of any piece of user generated content lies with you, it can cause numerous problems. Other departments should have a say in procedures and should have a higher priority when it comes to 50/50 decisions, but they should respect the decisions of the moderation team, that are based on both experience and policy.

This is the only way to maintain consistency across your offering. Users won’t know if they’re coming or going if it appears there are a number of different moderation policies across a site that they see as being one entity.

Slight difffences between moderation on, say, Sport and Politics are to be expected, but not wholesale differences, especially when users are only asked to follow one set of community standards.

3. Deal with user complaints quickly:

If you’re not on top of user complaints within a reasonable time-frame, you’re fostering problems and problem areas. Dealing with a piece of content calling someone a “wanker” within 15 minutes, for instance, can prevent a flame war from ever getting off the ground. Deal with the same complaint after 2 hours and you’re likely to be mopping up for another hours afterwards.

Quick response times help to protect yourselves from a legal standpoint and, at the same time, help to protect the users who are much happier in the knowledge that a piece of reported content, that they deem to be offensive or inappropriate, has been acted upon swiftly. Who wants a system where you report someone telling you to “F off” and, on a regular basis, the comment is still there 8 hours later?

Did The Guardian miss a viral opportunity with their Ultimate Summer Pop Quiz?

summer pop quiz

Last Friday the Guardian published it’s ‘Ultimate Summer Pop Quiz’ – a typically original take on the pop quiz format with a gloriously, insanely difficult set of over 100 questions such as “The opening lines of which post-punk song were inspired by the above passage from Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky?”

Having only managed 31 answers (and 24 guesses) over the weekend, I took to the web on Monday to see who else was doing it – and if it was on the web so I could send it to friends. Continue reading

Should journalism degrees still prepare students for a news industry that doesn’t want them?

UPDATE (Aug 7 ’08): The Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates suggests employment opportunities and salaries are not affected.

J-schools are generally set up to prepare students for the mainstream news industry: print and broadcasting, with a growing focus on those industries’ online arms. There’s just one small problem. That industry isn’t exactly splashing out on job ads at the moment…

The LA Times is cutting 150 editorial jobs and reducing pages by 15%; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cutting nearly 200 jobs; the Wall Street Journal cutting 50 jobs; Thomson Reuters axing 140 jobs; in the UK Newsquest is outsourcing prepress work to India, while also cutting jobs in York and Brighton; Reed Business Information, Trinity Mirror and IPC are all putting a freeze on recruitment, with Trinity Mirror also cancelling its graduate training scheme and cutting subbing jobs. In the past two months almost 4,000 jobs have vanished at US newspapers (Mark Potts has this breakdown of June’s 1000 US redundancies). In the past ten years the number of journalists in the US is said to have gone down by 25%.

Given these depressing stats I’ve been conducting a form of open ‘panel discussion’ format via Seesmic with a number of journalists and academics, asking whether journalism schools ought to revisit their assumptions about graduate destinations – and therefore what they teach. The main thread is below.

The responses are worth browsing through. Here’s my attempt at a digest: Continue reading

Could this be the tipping point for UK data mashups?

The best thing that I took from this week’s 2gether08 event was yesterday’s announcement by blogging MP Tom Watson and Ofcom’s blogging Tom Loosemore of Show Us a Better Way.

The site (also a blog – notice a pattern here?) is releasing a range of public data and inviting people to mash them up, or come up with ideas to do so. In their words:

The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated. The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition on the Government’s behalf, and we have a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best ideas to the next level. You can see the type of thing we are are looking for hereContinue reading