Email overload: here are 6 approaches I’ve found useful for managing my inbox

Information overload image by James Marvin Phelps

Information overload image by James Marvin Phelps

It’s nothing new to say that email overload is one of the biggest problems we face in trying to organise our time. But let’s be more specific: there are, it seems to me, two core problems caused by email: firstly, reaching the end of a day and realising you’ve done nothing but respond to emails; and secondly, finding you are never relaxing because you are getting emails or email notifications on your phone.

I’ve tried various approaches to email management — and there is a whole literature of tips and guidance on the subject. Here are some of the techniques I’ve found work for me in solving the problems above (note: they may not work for everyone). Continue reading

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I’ve got a new book out — it’s all about Mobile-First Journalism (the clue’s in the title)

Mobile-First Journalism book coverMy new book — Mobile-First Journalism, with Steve Hill — is published this week.

The book tackles various aspects of the new wave of mobile-centred publishing, from “mojo” techniques and creating mobile apps to native content and visual storytelling.

Along the way we also looked at the new critical issues raised by the shift, from strategic decisions involved in platform publishing, to fake news, trolling and verification.

It’s been a timely book — building on my experiences of designing the new MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University (with some of the first students’ work inspiring parts of the book) — and fun to write.

I’ll be posting extracts from the book in the coming months…

Hyperlocals “Unlikely to get much cash out of mainstream publishers” warns regional editor

Should independent hyperlocal news operations expect ‘cashback’  from mainstream publishers who use their copy? In a guest post for OJB, Jane Haynes speaks to Marc Reeves, editor of Birmingham Live, Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury.

“I’ve had a bit of a love hate relationship with hyperlocals over the years,” explains Marc.

“I started out loving them and then they started hating what we did,” he reflects with a smile. Continue reading

7 ideas for things to do over the summer while preparing to start a journalism course

rolls of yarn

Knitting yarn optional. image by Rachel

As the summer begins, I’ve been recommending some things that my incoming students might do in preparation for their MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism or MA in Data Journalism. I thought I’d share my advice here for anyone else starting a journalism course this Autumn… (oh, and these are just ideas — you don’t have to do all of these!)

1. Consume a *wide* range of journalism

When teaching journalism you notice quickly that the students who produce the most polished pieces of journalism are the ones who consume the most journalism. The more journalism that you read, watch, listen and use, the more journalistic conventions, techniques and tricks you absorb, and more instinctively reproduce. Continue reading

There’s more than one way to make an impact with data journalism (book extract)

FootPrint on Moon
In an extended extract from the forthcoming second edition of the Data Journalism Handbook, I look at the different types of impact that data journalism can have, and how can better think about it.

If you’ve not seen Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into institutional silence over child abuse, then you should watch it right now. More to the point — you should watch right through to the title cards right at the end.

In an epilogue to the film — this is a story about old-school-style data journalism, by the way — a list scrolls down the screen. It details the dozens and dozens of places where abuse scandals have been uncovered since the events of the film, from Akute, Nigeria, to Wollongong, Australia.

But the title cards also cause us to pause in our celebrations: one of the key figures involved in the scandal, it says, was reassigned to “one of the highest ranking Roman Catholic churches in the world.”

This is the challenge of impact in data journalism: is raising awareness of a problem “impact”? A mass audience, a feature film? Does the story have to result in penalties for those responsible for bad things? Or visible policy change? Is all impact good impact? Continue reading

Meet the man who fought a dozen FOI battles to prove that data doesn’t cause crime

Empty Shops

Empty Shops image by Dan Thompson

For the last three years Gavin Chait has been fighting — and winning — multiple Freedom of Information cases to unlock data on vacant properties. In a special guest post ahead of his latest hearing, he explains how he uses a range of evidence to fight a widely misused exemption.

I don’t know how to break this to you, but you’re probably a terrorist.

According to Richard Woolford, Strategic Director of Security and Counter Terrorism with the City of London Corporation, unoccupied properties — and especially unoccupied commercial properties — are attractive for those intent on committing terrorism.

Any knowledge about vacant properties is so dangerous, he believes, that no information about them should be placed in the public domain.

Estate agents against terrorism

This will come as tough news to terrorism enablers, especially real-estate agents, property developers, banks, insurers, and Google Street View.

If you were hoping to find somewhere new to live, or somewhere to open your dream business, then – for the safety of everyone – you’ll need to stay put. Continue reading

Emma Youle: “Local newspapers are one of the best places to do in-depth investigations because they are very well connected to the community”

emma youle

Emma Youle speaking at the Data Journalism UK conference in 2017 – photo by Wan Ulfa Nur Zuhra

As Archant’s award-winning Emma Youle announces she is to leave local newspapers to join Huffington Post UK as a special correspondent. Victoria Oliveres spoke to the investigative journalist about setting up local investigations, using data, and campaigning.

If you’ve looked at any UK journalism awards ceremony in the last few years, chances are you will have seen Emma Youle’s name: winner of the Private Eye Paul Foot Award in 2017, and the Weekly Reporter of the Year at Regional Press Awards 2016, she has also been shortlisted in many others, largely for her approach to showing the impact of national decisions at local level.

This success has come after a career of over a decade in journalism, including the last three years as part of Archant‘s investigations unit, where she uncovered in-depth stories from London boroughs.

Setting up local investigations

The unit was set up in 2015, which Youle considers to be quite pioneering at the time.

“I think local newspapers are one of the best places to do in depth investigations because they are very well connected to the community,” Emma says. Continue reading