Monthly Archives: October 2006

Easy publishing tools for online journalists

[Keyword: , , , ]. From blogs to email newsletters, pictures to video, podcasts to audio, and everything in between, this is a great resource from the OJR.

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Guardian CEO’s five-point guide to the digital future

[Keyword: , , , ]. Roy Greenslade reports on CEO of the Guardian Media Group Carolyn McCall’s blueprint for “newspapers wishing to achieve a successful digital transition.” (also at Editor’s Weblog):

1. Newspapers must have to have a clear digital vision, for which leadership from the top is vital.
2. Staying close to users is more important than ever before. Newspapers have to listen to readers and make sure they are given what they desire, a reversal of the traditional top-down news model.
3. Innovation must be used for learning purposes. Newspapers can’t be afraid to
fail. They must experiment and take risks to see what works. (McCall cited The
Guardian’s blog experiment, Comment is Free, which has hundreds of contributing bloggers and dozens of comments on each post).
4. Software developers are now just as important as journalists.
5. Newspapers must drive digital revenue growth.

The most interesting point for me here is about software developers. Journalists need to realise they’re not as important as they used to be: news has become more than ever a service, and the power and functionality of that service is increasingly down to developers. Content is still important, but when the readers are producing as much as the paid staff, facilitating the conversation depends on effective technologies.

Mind you, if we paid journalists as much as developers, we might not be in the situation we are now…

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Teaching journalism in the UAE

[Keyword: , , , ]. As if to demonstrate how blogging can open up an entire new world, I had an email yesterday from the United Arab Emirates. Keith Tomasek is teaching broadcasting at The American University of Sharjah there, and has just launched the Broadcasters of Tomorrow blog featuring his student’s work. It’s well worth a look.

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MySun makes ‘readers the next editors’

[Keyword: , , , ]. As if to confirm the trend I noted in my previous post, Journalism.co.uk reports on the soft launch of MySun:

“Our idea is to make Sun readers the next editors of the website. One of the key drivers of the Sun is how much the readers get involved. They really respond
to us, they write in, they ring in, they have the attitude that it’s their paper
and we are just the staff that look after it for them,” Pete Picton, Sun online
editor, told Journalism.co.uk.

“The new feature allows readers [to] start a blog, join debates and contribute their stories, pictures and comments on breaking news.

“MySun has a six-strong team dedicated running the project in which a
community editor, hired specifically to run the feature, oversees a team of
editorial moderators.”

There’s that ‘community editor’ role again. Take a look at MySun here.

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Magazines in 2106

[Keyword: , , , ]. Here’s a rewritten version of my post from earlier in the week on the future of news media. It’s also my latest Stirrer column:

What will magazines look like in a hundred years’ time? A clue this week came in a little story about the planned relaunch of technology news website ZDNet UK.

The relaunch looks to take advantage of the recent popularity of social networking. “We have always let people interact with the website to a degree,” Matt Loney, ZDNet UK site director, told Journalism.co.uk, “but now what we are doing is allowing people to log in and collect all the stuff they need together; it’s like a MySpace for geeks.”

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this as another organisation jumping on the MySpace bandwagon, but look a bit deeper and we may be seeing a window into the future of magazines.

To begin with, ZDNet plans to create a new post of community editor: “a hybrid marketing/editorial job – to moderate discussions, grow the community and create a dialogue with the readership.”

This role is not a new idea, but it’s an indication of where the ‘Editor’ role in magazines may be heading: not managing the publication, but managing the community.

Why? Because the community has the potential to be the publication. Loney’s intention is “that the community editor will spur further debate and encourage the readership to bring its collective knowledge to the site though comments, forums and blogs.”

In other words, journalists are part of the process, but as only one catalyst for discussions among many, rather than as the product itself.

Meanwhile, the previous editorial role of selecting, arranging and prioritising stories begins to pass to the reader, who decides “what they want, [and] how they get it”

Loney outlines features that “list the most-read, discussed and popular items on the site as well as highlighting readers’ contributions by drawing attention to the talkback [reader’s comment] of the day.”

Of course this is only one, very technology-friendly, publication dipping a toe into the possibilities of social networking, but look a century on, to a world of ubiquitous internet and virtual community, of active consumers and advertisers who expect to know everything about their market, and you can imagine magazines having transformed from an object you read, to online communities of interest you engage in and contribute to.

And you’ll be able to read it in the bath, too.

Paul Bradshaw lectures on the Journalism degree at UCE Birmingham media department. He writes a number of blogs including the online journalism blog (http://ojournalism.blogspot.com), interactive pr (http://interactivepr.blogspot.com), and web and new media (http://webandnewmedia.blogspot.com).

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Telegraph TV?

[Keyword: , , ]. Media Week reports on The Telegraph’s plans to launch an online TV channel, “with a view to securing carriage on the Freeview and Sky digital platforms”. This sounds like a much smarter use for their online video provision, and a great way to leverage content. It will be interesting to see how viewers respond to a right-of-centre newspaper brand on television, where broadcasters are less conspicuously politically aligned.

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The future of news media

[Keyword: , , , ]. Journalism.co.uk reports on the imminent relaunch of technology news website ZDNet UK which will “put social networking at its core”. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this as another organisation jumping on the MySpace bandwagon, but look a bit deeper and we may be seeing a window into the future of news media, beginning with a new type of editor:

“ZDNet UK plans to create a new post of community editor – a hybrid marketing/editorial job – to moderate discussions, grow the community and create a dialogue with the readership.”

But what is also happening here is one outcome of the movement towards reader empowerment, where the reader not only contributes to, but actually makes the publication:

“We will still have our lead stories giving people an overview of what is going on because we have got a dozen people on staff monitoring the industry,” Matt Loney, ZDNet UK site director, told Journalism.co.uk.

“But equally a big part of this redesign was to let the reader decide what they want, how they get it and to give them more control over that because if we don’t do that someone else will.

“We have always let people interact with the website to a degree, but now what we are doing is allowing people to log in and collect all the stuff they need together; it’s like a MySpace for geeks.”

“The technology news provider, which currently has more than two million unique users every month, will now have a free subscription feature in which users can blog, track discussions and set up alerts on new postings based on author, subject matter and keywords.

“Features also list the most-read, discussed and popular items on the site as well as highlighting readers’ contributions by drawing attention to the talkback [reader’s comment] of the day.

“It is intended that the community editor will spur further debate and encourage the readership to bring its collective knowledge to the site though comments, forums and blogs.”

Looking (much) further ahead, in 100 years time will newspapers and, more likely, magazines have transformed into online communities of interest? Facilitated by editors and fuelled by specialist journalists, yes – but with the focus on the conversation, not on the articles.

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