Monthly Archives: May 2007

Guardian wins the Blair coverage battle

Blair resignationThe Guardian’s new site has gotten off to a great start, with impressive coverage of the Blair resignation. Alongside the main story is lengthy promotion of audio, galleries, video, interactive and analysis. The depth of treatment backs up Mark Porter’s point that the new design “allows us to respond dynamically to events, by varying the layout as the news agenda develops.”
Blair resignationThe Telegraph’s treatment is much smaller, giving the impression of less depth…
Blair resignation…and The Times is pretty similar. The tabloids’ treatment is even smaller, although their editorial agenda is obviously different.
Blair resignationSky is worth a look, though- their new design gives the capability to add a story to the main navigation – so ‘The Blair Years’ becomes an option alongside ‘Sport’. This is a screengrab of the Blair Years page, not the homepage.

Finally. (Guardian homepage gets a makeover)

Guardian May 10 2007Today sees the Guardian Unlimited finally getting the makeover it’s been desperately needing since the print product made ‘Berliner’ a polite topic of conversation. For the moment it’s only the front page – as creative editor Mark Porter explains, it “will be a facade concealing a busy building site, as work proceeds on an 18-month programme to redesign and rebuild every part of GU.”

And GU editor-in-chief Emily Bell adds: “an iterative approach is the best. The days when one design or set of functionality on a website lasted for several years is gone, and our aim, with the help of our users, is to constantly improve and update the network, from the story pages to the section and network fronts.”

The design itself is what you’d expect from contemporary newspaper website design – cleaner and clearer (I’d have put money on the Georgia font), with bigger images and more width. It’s not a major change from the old design in terms of content – although the biggest weakness in usability terms is a ridiculously long page you have to scroll down five times to see in its entirety (and that’s on a decent resolution monitor). Yes, multimedia content is more prominent with a box of its own, but still not on the first ‘page’ of content (it’s below the fold, in old parlance).

And was it a coincidence they relaunched on the day Tony Blair is expected to resign? A clever move, if not.

Clearly both Emily and Mark have had a long night – their posts are time-stamped at 1.05 and 1.06am – so hopefully they’ll be enjoying a hard-earned rest this weekend.

What makes a good Podcast…tips and tricks

Steve Hill picks apart The Sony Radio Academy Awards podcast award comments for the following tips:

1. Have “pace and energy”
2. Capture “the intimacy of internet radio”
3. Choose a niche which would “never be accommodated on a mainstream radio station”
4. “First-class radio production techniques”
5. “Have an intelligent and witty tone”

Why can’t newspapers get linking right?

Most newspapers have had websites for a decade now. They’ve gone from shovelling print content onto a webpage to hosting video bulletins and podcasts, blogs and galleries, and even social networking.

And yet they still can’t seem to get one thing right: linking.

Take one basic story from this weekend that’s very close to my heart: the resignation of Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce. The club announced the resignation on Sunday afternoon with two statements: one from the chairman, and one from Sam himself. The coverage in most newspaper websites at the time consisted, essentially, of extracts from those statements plus a little history from the journalist. It was clear there was no extra information to be had.

In a story like this – bread-and-butter press release/statement material that fills a large proportion of newspapers and news websites – you would expect a link to the original material. Yes..? Well here’s a rundown:

So much for the new transparency in online journalism. So much for linking to your sources – or, indeed, to anything outside of your own site. So much for Jeff Jarvis’ column this week that argues “during big news stories … the role of the journalist now [is] to link, it seems.”

Linking is, of course, central to the web. It is the point. There was a period, years ago, when some website owners were afraid of including external links because they feared people would leave their site. Then they realised that links are a selling point of your site: your ability to provide helpful links elsewhere is part of what brings people to your site in the first place.

It’s one of the reasons blogs are so popular: they link profusely, habitually, and easily. And people come back again and again for more.

So please, stop pretending you’re some great newshound with access to the chairman and manager of Bolton Wanderers. You read the statements on a website we can all access. Save us the trip to Google and give us the links, please. Then we might just come back next time for more. relaunches with citizen journalism

ABC News May 1 07Another day, another relaunch. Micro Persuasion reports on the relaunch:

According to Michael Clemente, Senior Executive Producer, the new site, which it launched last night, is designed to harness the power of what they call “citizen reporters.” Viewers and readers can now help ABC help report the news by feeding in news and leaving comments. The new site also supports video uploads from cell phones and video cameras, some of which will make it on to air.”

It’s pretty snazzy looking, if a little overloaded with navigation. The option to click on a story or photos or video or even ‘full coverage’ is a nice touch, but it’s a missed opportunity for the most part when compared to other relaunches.

The video journalist’s next purchase

Flip VideoThe New York Post reports on a clever (and relatively inexpensive) device which allows videographers to film, edit and upload material without spending large amounts of time on a computer:

“The little spy-corder device, named Flip Video, is being billed as the first camcorder to upload directly to sites such as YouTube and Grouper – eliminating the step of putting video on a computer to edit before uploading.”

At $119 and $149 it’s clearly aimed at the consumer market, but the instant publishing element makes it an appealing buy for journalists, although it seems you still need to go onto a computer to ‘instantly’ upload to the web.

Here’s the press release.