Monthly Archives: June 2005

NewsIsFree updates

[Keyword: ]. NewsIsFree has updated its website with a new XML-based search engine – SIETS – which “allows its end users to read and search news headlines also from sites which do not provide RSS feeds.” Looks pretty impressive at the moment.

The site is also beta-testing new functionality for page browsing at

The best idea I’ve seen this week

[Keyword: ]. Sick of having to forever register with sites just to scan through an article that turns out to be of no interest anyway? Always losing registration details and having to re-register? I’m ticking both those boxes and so particularly welcome the BugMeNot add-in for the Firefox browser which reportedly “automatically fills in the fields (with bogus information)”

Print/Web Overlap: Good or Bad?

[Keyword: ]. More from Poynter (yes, I’m catching up with my emails again) – this time worth quoting in full:

“Two recent reports, from Nielsen//NetRatings (PDF) and from Scarborough Research (PDF), present conflicting numbers, but both cite substantial unique, unduplicated website usage.

“But is that a good thing? One point of view says that a low overlap means the website is extending the total reach of the newspaper, capturing readers — especially younger readers — who prefer the Internet as a medium. Without a robust website, the newspaper might simply lose those readers forever, the argument goes. Scarborough clearly favors the “Integrated Audience” metric as supporting combination print/Web ad sales.

“But there’s a countervailing point of view. I know of one major newspaper that has set a multiyear strategic goal of raising that overlap to 50 percent. Pepper and Rogers might support that concept, because it indicates a deeper, more powerful relationship with your best customers. But executing that plan could be difficult. It requires significant attention to creating different products and different experiences online and offline. That raises challenges in the areas of content, services, branding, and promotion.”

I’m off to read these reports for a possible update…

It’s not the content, it’s the medium

[Keyword: ]. Poynter’s Steve Outing is encouraging “newspaper folks” to read a piece by Rich Gordon on similarities between the current reaction to new technology, and the introduction of the transistor radio in the 1950s. To quote Outing quoting Gordon: “Newspapers’ problem in the Internet age is not, mostly, their content. It is, instead, the package (or device) the content comes in that compares unfavorably to the Internet in the eyes of young people.”

You could probably pick any number of other parallels with the introduction of new technologies. The introduction of television news, for instance, reduced the importance of the ‘immediacy’ of newspaper reporting (as it was always a day late), so the importance (and number) of features and analysis increased. I could go on, but as this is one of the areas of my MPhil, I’ll leave it for another time…

A CNET wiki

[Keyword: ]. Another great example of wikis being used by a news organisation –’s ongoing report on India’s technology industry (Courtesy of Poynter). It seems the form suits rolling and analysis-heavy stories like this best.

This comes after the LA Times’ experiment with a ‘wikitorial’ went awry. To quote from The Guardian:

“At first the comment piece evolved sensibly. But once the newspaper’s online monitor had gone to bed all hell broke loose. Discussion of US exit strategy from Iraq gave way to ‘Fuck USA’ and hardcore pornography. The feature was pulled after 48 hours.

“The newspaper, cheered perhaps by the high ratio of encouragement to derision in bloggers’ post mortems, has promised to revive the idea with better policing.”

The improbable success of the elephant

[Keyword: ]. The BBC’s continuing online dominance in the UK is making some wonder if the trickle-down theory that the Beeb espouses (we’re bringing people online, and they’ll soon drift on to commercial media sites as well, so stop complaining we’re undermining the business of online news) is still tenable – see the Economist (subscription site, sorry) and Hypergene.

Seems to me, though, the big, big story is the BBC’s success at getting people to contribute high quality content online and giving people open access to its creative archive. A public service ethos being truly translated for a new medium. As wired says, “America’s entertainment industry is committing slow, spectacular suicide, while one of Europe’s biggest broadcasters – the BBC – is rushing headlong to the future, embracing innovation rather than fighting it.”

and now the news, from BT

[Keyword: ].
“It’s very future-looking,” the BT spokesperson says, but it doesn’t look a future shaped by public service goals. BT’s just launched a trial of radio and TV services for cellphones. Virgin UK customers, initially a trial of 1000 around London, have been able to from yesterday listen to up to 50 digital radio stations and watch clips from satellite TV. The other cell phone companies are putting their toes in the water in similar ways. Might be the future of radio, and I can get enthusiastic about the coming together of online and radio, with the tens of thousands of stations I’ll be able to tune into as I commute to work. But look at the growing power of the telcos. We’re getting closer to a situation where the same few companies control access to most of people’s digital media, and where those companies are ones that think of people first and foremost as consumers. What’s BT’s commitment to quality journalism and public debate?