Monthly Archives: May 2005

UK online research tools

[Keyword: ]. Trawling through my to-do box I found an excellent article from The Journalist by Heather Brooke on online sources. Here’s a quick rundown:

The Financial Services Authority Register is “an excellent way of finding the names of directors and the boards on which they sit.”

The Health and Safety Executive is “one of the most progressive and open regulators with a proactive online publishing regime. You can check the names of companies against the searchable prosecutions database, which includes all cases resulting in a conviction since 1999. The notices database includes details of all enforcement notices since 1 April 2001. The A-Z subject index of industry research reports is also useful.”

The Office of Fair Trading “keeps a number of useful public registers. Some of these are easily accessible online, such as the Competition Act 1998 Register and the Register of Orders and Undertakings. However, others – the register of prohibition orders against rogue estate agents, for instance, and the Consumer Credit Act 1974 Register (which lists businesses with consumer credit agreements for issuing loans) – are not online. There is no publicity even for the existence of these registers. Journalists should pressure the OFT to make them available online.”

The US Security and Exchange Commission “is a free site that monitors all companies filing SEC records, which could prove useful as many UK companies have to make them. The site will even send you an email when the company you are tracking files something new.”

“Private companies that provide public services affecting the environment (such as water companies) fall under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. This law gives the public (including reporters) greater legal rights than under the FoIA for environmental information. Friends of the Earth publishes a users guide at

Also added by David Hyatt of Halifax are The Employment Tribunal site and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Paid-for content increases – and more jobs for OJs

[Keyword: ]. The UK Association of Online Publishers has just released some research charting an increase in publishers charging for content – as well as an increase in the audiences for that content. The latter statistic is not particularly surprising given that web users and web use generally are increasing – but enough to make chairman Bill Murray state ““It’s very clear that we are starting to see the end of a general perception from consumers that the web is ‘free’”.

Stats include :

  • 63 per cent of AOP member companies now charge for content online, compared with 58 per cent in 2004.
  • Paid-for content now provides 19 per cent of overall revenue.
  • A decline in one-off (micro) payments, and an increase in subscription models.
  • The largest source of revenue for respondents remains display advertising, supplying 47 per cent of all revenue. More than half (58 per cent) of AOP members are now generating more than £1 million annually from advertising alone.
  • Other sources of revenue include: recruitment classified advertising (14 per cent), content syndication (five per cent), e-commerce, sponsorship, web-design and development, listings, newsletter advertisements, and commission on sales.
  • Integration of online and offline teams increased to 79 per cent of companies (from 63 per cent in 2004), suggesting online is seen as more of an integral part of the wider organisation than in previous years.”

But buried away towards the bottom of their press release is some great news for online journalists, as recruitment increases considerably:

“In the past year, 40 per cent of online publishers surveyed took on more online staff, upping their headcount by 10 on average. However, the report also found that 60 per cent of publishers on the web had unfilled vacancies, with nearly eight in 10 of them urgently seeking sales and subscription staff, and nearly half looking for editorial staff.”

Got a good idea about using BBC content?

[Keyword: ]. Full credit to the BBC, who have opened up their content to Web developers with ideas about ways of using it. BBC Backstage revolves around an email discussion list which debates the ideas suggested – but it’s also interesting to browse the Prototypes section and see what people have proposed, including displaying news on maps and using spam filter concepts to filter news – most of them with links that are quite useful in themselves.

More content you have to pay for

[Keyword: ]. The New York Times has announced that it is to charge for a new online section called TimesSelect, which “will provide exclusive access to Op-Ed and news columnists on, easy and in-depth access to The Times’s online archives, early access to select articles on the site, as well as other exciting features.” The charge is $49.95 per year, but Poynter feels the inclusion of columnists in the section is a mistake, reducing the number of inbound links and discussion they will otherwise generate.

Of course, charging for certain parts of content isn’t new – the Independent is one of the main practitioners in the UK (despite having one of the weakest sites), charging for crosswords, archive, specific articles and comment; and The Times also charges to access its crossword, or its e-paper. Crosswords also cost at The Telegraph, which offers a subscription to a weekly version of the paper, and you can get Digital editions of The Guardian and Observer.

Digital editions making headway

[Keyword: ]. Nice bit of statistics from Poynter about the increasing share that digital editions are taking in circulation figures. Paper may not be dead but online subscriptions certainly seem to be flourishing.

UPDATE (May 20 2005): Meanwhile, recognition of digital editions in circulation figures is also increasing, as Poynter reports Spanish newspapers counting PDF versions in their figures.

The non-profit newspaper

[Keyword: ]. Interesting moves afoot in America as a non-profit newspaper launches in San Diego, and Poynter wonders, “Is Voice of San Diego a harbinger of news reporting to come? As explained on the site, “Initial funding comes from San Diego foundations and individuals, a structure which allows Voice to be independent and nonpartisan. Long-term, Voice will rely on a combination of individual donations, corporate sponsorships, foundation grants, and advertising.””