Monthly Archives: July 2007

ITV News falls into the citizen journalism trap

ITV News are to “air citizen reporters’ videos”, according to The Guardian. ‘Uploaded’ (oh dear.) will “allow members of the public to post video clips on the Uploaded website via mobile phone or webcam, responding to a daily “debate of the day” set by ITV News.”

Yep, it’s the old ‘charitable gesture’ approach to citizen journalism. ITV choose the topic, choose the responses, and, by the sounds of things, even choose the correspondents (“a national network of citizen correspondents,” says the article, which also mentions 100 people who have “signed up”).

ITV news editor, Deborah Turness is quoted as saying: “news has remained a one-way street in a two-way world.” But the two-way system of ‘Uploaded’ has one very large lane for ITV, and one very narrow one for its audience.

“Sometimes the media is guilty of underestimating the audience,” she continues. “People do have really interesting and relevant things to say and Uploaded will give us real diversity of opinion and experience.”

How diverse? 

“The Uploaded segment within the news bulletins is likely to be about 60 seconds.”

Ah, that diverse. Great. Another citizen journalism ghetto.

So here’s my suggestion: Stop recycling old formats for new media. Stop treating the audience’s contribution like an ‘And Finally’ section. Start understanding how interactivity works: it’s about giving control to the user. Giving control over subject matter. Giving control over time. Giving control over ranking. I’m not suggesting getting rid of editorial roles entirely, but if you’re going to do something like this, for God’s sake do it properly.

I’m inclined to agree with Jeff Jarvis, who said of the CNN-YouTube election debate experiment:

TV doesn’t know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The event’s moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, behaved almost apologetically about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up.

‘Uploaded’ is not citizen journalism. It’s a vox pops without having to pay professional camerapeople.

Advice for journalism graduates

If you’re one of the many journalism graduates wandering the jobs pages this summer, here’s my Five-Step Plan® to getting a job in journalism

  1. Get a job, it doesn’t matter what. Nothing makes a person employable like being already employed. Plus you now have an employer’s reference. You’ll be making new contacts and learning new things, giving you more to talk about on the CV/interview. If you can get a job in the area you want to write about, even better: even if it’s something as prosaic as working in Next because you want to be a fashion journo. You’ll be surprised how much knowledge you pick up. Once you have the job, try to shape it so you can gain as much useful experience as possible: suggest an internal newsletter you could write, or contribute to the company website.
  2. Get a blog – no, don’t stop reading. This is not about online journalism. A blog helps you achieve a number of things regardless of whether you ever want to publish online professionally:
    • Practice makes perfect: writing regularly for a blog helps you hone and improve your journalistic style (note: that’s journalistic style, not diary style. Your journalist’s blog should be a series of articles, interviews etc. in your area of interest, not what you did on your summer holidays)
    • Ready-made portfolio: writing regularly for a blog gives you a wealth of material to show to potential employers. You should of course also include any material you have had published elsewhere. Include it on your CV so they can browse through it in deciding to give you an interview.
    • Proof of commitment: if you’re committed enough to write a blog regularly, to get out there and find out what’s happening in your specialist area, that proves you’re more committed than most job applicants.
    • Exposure: at this point, whether or not anyone reads your blog is not the primary goal, but if you do it well, you can build a reputation, and two things can happen: a) when you’re at the interview, the editor says “I’m a reader of your blog”; and b) freelance jobs will come to you. Note: this often takes years, and is often connected with the next step.
  3. Get involved in the area you want to report on: firstly, know where to get grassroots news in your area, so build up a first class favourites folder/Bloglines account of the best bloggers and news sources. Secondly, comment on those blogs and sites, and engage in the debates. Thirdly, conduct your own interviews for your own blog, online and offline. And finally, get away from your computer and do things: attend events, do courses, arrange a day in a relevant company. All of this proves your commitment, builds your reputation, and gives you a contacts book to die for.
  4. Get a good mobile phone – that is, one that takes pictures, video and audio. Download some free editing software like Windows Movie Maker and Audacity, and play around with it. Upload some video or audio to to your blog, YouTube or Switchpod. Quality will come with time, but the primary point here is to prove that you have some multimedia experience. Journalists are increasingly expected to know how to produce audio and video as well as text, and this is another way of putting you ahead of the competition. You will also need it for step 5:
  5. Get an eye for news: don’t wait to join a news organisation to become a journalist. As you do your job, as you walk the streets, as you read the newspapers and browse the messageboards, keep your news sense about you: is something happening that is newsworthy? Record it with your phone and send it to a relevant news organisation. Has someone said something that is newsworthy? Highlight it on your blog. Is there a national story that you could put a specialist or local angle to? Write it up.
    This is the most fundamental of skills for a journalist, whether in news or features. It is the one thing employers will be looking for. If you can tell them you filmed the floods on your phone or spotted a good lead on a forum, it proves you’re always ‘on’.

How to develop your business through online social networks

Not the usual post title you get on this blog, but if you want to hear me waffling talking expertly about social networks, feel free to pop along to tonight’s Moseley Creative Forum from 7.00 –9.00pm at Moseley Community Development Trust (more details below). Here’s the blurb:

‘How to develop your business through on-line social networks’

Join us for a panel-led discussion on how ‘creatives’ can make effective use of the provision already out there… MySpace, YouTube, Second Life and Facebook

We will explore how best you can promote yourself through on-line networks, how to get sales and contacts and develop links to your own website.

There will also be some “future gazing” as to where this technology is going and the opportunities it provides for you and your business.

We will talk about plans to re-launch the website for the “made in moseley” brand. (see

Steve Harding, Moseley Community Development Trust, we will hear from


  • Paul Bradshaw, UCE Birmingham
  • Antonio Gould, developer of digital media for creativity, education and social enterprise
  • Chris Thompson, Director of D A Recordings Ltd.

Come along and join in the session for what promises to be a lively evening!

Looking forward to seeing you,

Steve Harding / Marion Taggart

Reply to: or call Marion on: 07999861876

Location: The Post Office Building, 149-153, Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham

Tel 0121 449 6060

Online journalism’s must-read blog posts

Shane Richmond is asking for contributions to a list of classic blog posts on online journalism. For some reason my comments don’t seem to have gone through, so here’s my list of the essential reads for online journalists:

  1. For an overview of the forms and possibilities of online journalism: Jonathon Dube’s Online Storytelling Forms
  2. For a mind-blowing insight into the journalistic potential of computer technology: Adrian Holovaty: A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change
  3. For reflection on how the online news environment changes the nature of journalism: Dan Gillmor’s The End of Objectivity (Version 0.91)
  4. For reflection on journalism ethics in the MySpace/Facebook/UGC/digital doorstepping era: Robin Hamman’s posts virginia tech bloggers: approach and confirm or link and disclaim? and his coverage of a debate on virginia tech coverage
  5. For a sliding scale of ideas on how to involve the audience: Steve Outing’s The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism
  6. For a succinct and clear explanation of moving from the TV mindset to an understanding of online video: Andy Dickinson: Moving from TV to Online
  7. For a quick list of tips when moving into video: Newslab’s Tips for Photographers
  8. For an outline of the possibilities of Flash for interactive storytelling, and experiences of its use: Mindy McAdams’ Flash journalism: Professional practice today 
  9. For a step-by-step overview of how to treat a story in a multimedia way: Mindy McAdams’ Journalism stories: A multimedia approach Parts 1, 2 and 3.
  10. For a conceptual exploration of interactive storytelling: The Elements of Digital Storytelling
  11. I’ll agree with Richmond’s inclusion of Ross Mayfield’s post on his own blog: What makes wikis work
  12. And it pre-dates blogs, but answers very effectively that recurring question of “Is blogging/wikis/databases/broccoli etc. etc. journalism?”: G. Stuart Adam’s Notes Towards a Definition of Journalism

Contribute to my wiki on wiki journalism

Do you know anything about the use of wikis in journalism? 

In September I will be presenting a paper on Wiki Journalism at the Future of Newspapers conference in Cardiff (it looks set to be a very good two days). And of course the best way to write a paper on wiki journalism is to publish it as a wiki…

So, I’ve quickly scrabbled together a first draft in order to get things going. Please contribute what you can at – the password to contribute is ‘wikiwiki’, or go straight to if that’s too much hassle. All contributions will be acknowledged, and of course you’ll have that warm glow inside as well.

I’ve also created a Wikipedia entry for Wiki Journalism ( which is a much chopped-down, dryer, more factual version appropriate to an encyclopedia.

Many thanks,

Paul Bradshaw

News organisations see potential of wiki journalism

A survey by Matt King for the Online Journalism Blog indicates it may only be a matter of time before we see the first UK experiment with ‘wiki journalism’, with news organisations ranging from the BBC to Sky excited about the potential of wiki technology.

Robin Hamman, Senior Broadcast Journalist and Producer for the BBC told Online Journalism Blog: “The BBC has been using wikis internally for quite some time, particularly for product development and distributed team working within BBC Future Media & Technology. We haven’t, as far as I’m aware, done any external wikis although I’m sure that someone somewhere within the corporation has at least considered doing this.” Adam Gee, New Media Commissioner for Channel 4 believes that there are some hints of Wiki’s coming through online: “In effect, Big Art Mob uses the wiki mentality as the information about the art and the tags can be posted by either the contributor (ie photographer) or the viewer or both.”

Although some haven’t used them as yet, many news organisations see the potential of Wikis in providing a new form of user-generated news. Simon Bucks, Associate Editor for BSKYB is very enthusiastic about the potential of Wiki news features: “I’d love to use it but I don’t have especially imminent plans, sadly…it’s just a matter of prioritising what we can do. I think it’s clearly a tricky area and if we used it in any meaningful way we’d probably need to premoderate stuff. But I like the idea of wiki news stories – especially breaking news where users can add eyewitness accounts. There’s a lot of work to do educating folk but I am pretty bullish about it.”

James Montgomery, editor of does not have any plans currently to use Wiki’s on, but does agree that Wiki’s are something to keep an eye on: “In a slightly different sense, wikis are emerging as a form of newsgathering and story-telling: entries began in response to events that become a primary source of news. It’s a form of collaborative news writing; another form of user generated content. It’s fascinating to follow, but we have no current plans to adopt this approach on

The main concerns raised are the issues of moderation, and the Wiki’s becoming ‘out of hand’. James Montgomery expressed concerns over issues becoming disputed too heavily: “Wikis online are still a tricky issue. From what I have seen, there is an emerging view that some topics or entries have to be “locked down” by an editor if they become disputed too heavily. That seems sensible.” Simon Bucks, agreed saying that: “The problem I find is that users tend not to understand the difference between information and opinion and too often user generated content-news becomes a vehicle for a rant!”

Robin Hamman believes that the use of hosts/editors is a way around any violations of the rules: A better approach is to use hosts/editors who are a welcoming presence, keep the discussions or other content on topic, and generally stop bad behaviour before it starts through setting the tone and reinforcing positive, editorially relevant behaviour.”

Rick Waghorn on going solo, the importance of advertising, and where next for ‘My Football Writer’

As solo sports journalist Rick Waghorn relaunches his Norwich City news website in the first step towards franchising the service, I spoke to him about going solo, the importance of advertising, and the likely first places for the franchise to expand.

Originally, Waghorn says, the plan was to offer a franchise “in much the same way as you would set up a bathroom shop and people would buy the kit off the shelf from you.” But the plan has changed.

“I’m not sure that’s realistic in that perhaps that works for someone with a redundancy package to self-start a franchise from us, but I think the way it may work is: I’ve got some funding that we use to actually pay salaried journalists to open a Sheffield bureau or a Manchester bureau rather than someone actually buying a franchise off me.”

The new-look site is an impressive effort from a team of three people – putting most local newspaper sites to shame with clear layout and even up-to-the-minute features such as the ‘most read’ section, podcasts, blogs and a text service. Most impressive is a set of RSS feeds from what, in old media, would have been called ‘the competition’ – Waghorn clearly recognises that making your site a destination is more important than pretending the competition doesn’t exist. “If people only have ten minutes at lunch to go online, they’ll want a site that has all the details.”

In the 14 months since launching with money from a redundancy package, the site has exceeded Rick’s “wildest expectations”.

“It is very much hard work. In year one we roughly took about £35-40,000 which was done on a commission split with my ad man. It has been a huge voyage of discovery.”

Now Waghorn is planning “another voyage of discovery.”

“The theory is that what we’ve done with Norwich should be equally applicable to most other provincial football clubs,” says Waghorn, “so we’re starting to have discussions with different regional journalists. Now the question is how you service that in an advertising sense, but one of the interesting things is if you can start offering, if you like, regionality, then I can start offering, say, advertising in Suffolk to companies in Norfolk.

“Or, let’s say we looked at the three Championship sides in South Yorkshire. If we had those we could serve them all with one advertising rep, but offer someone advertising on all three, and do a bundle sale.”

Teaming up with senior advertising executive Kevin O’Gorman has been crucial, with O’Gorman working “the local beat, bringing little local firms onto the internet who have built their own websites and need to market them.

“We give them a friendly face – someone they’ve been dealing with on a local basis in the last few years, and he holds their hand and helps them online. I do the editorial and he services the advertisers in a very old-fashioned newspaper sense – and then you find a mate with a background in web design and get the lucky breaks, but I’ve found a ‘Team Rick’ which has worked well so far.”

Another key to the site’s success has been its flexibility, and speed.

“It’s very peculiar for football because few regional papers have a Sunday edition, and at Norwich Evening News I was the last match report anyone ever read – at 5 o’clock Monday night when the paperboy put the paper through the door it was 48 hours after the event. In the age of rolling news that doesn’t make sense. Now, arguably after the official club site, I’m the first match report they read because my match report goes up on the website five minutes after the match finishes. All of a sudden I become a Sunday newspaper because I put out my match report, my interviews on Sunday. Now that presents a challenge to local newspapers because what are they going to put in their Monday night newspapers?

“Also, when you’re not part of a local newspaper group you’re nimble. I can hold my hand up to dozens of mistakes we’ve made but because you’re only two or three people we can say ‘Oh, that didn’t work, let’s try that,’ and I think that nimbleness is another of the key factors in dealing with the internet.”

Rick’s advice to journalists wanting to go it alone is to recognise the importance of advertising. “Start talking to your advertising department, because just as much as the editorial department is suffering from redundancies, so is the advertising department. Most journalists will tell you that the only time you bump into anyone from the advertising department is at the Christmas party when you’re trying to get off with one. But these people have skills and contacts, and you bolt the two of us together and that’s where it’s worked, so I’d start taking your friend from the advertising department out for a drink.”

Wiki brainstorming

A few weeks ago I talking wikis with the online journalism students at UCE. I asked them to brainstorm – in 60 seconds – ideas for wikis in their correspondent areas. The resulting ideas were surprisingly good – some would work well as stand-along public wikis, while others would provide strong material for a follow-up journalist-structured piece. In general they suggest the immense promise of wikis for empowering readers/users and tapping into their knowledge and experience. Here they are:

  • Traffic hotspots
  • 11 circle route guide (the 11 bus route has something of a cult status in Birmingham; the suggestion is users could contribute descriptions of spots along the route, which circles the city)
  • Reviews of a particularly important album (I don’t think this would work, as people would edit each other’s words down to a dull middle road; and Amazon does this well already)
  • Festival experiences (a nice way to combine the different stages, acts, etc. all taking place)
  • Memories of a band or venue (taps into collective memory)
  • “I conceived to Al Green” (after the story that so many children have been conceived to a particular song – unlikely to have enough contributors from a publication audience alone, but a cute idea)
  • Gay village nights out guide
  • Experiences of being gay/coming out
  • Women in sport (needs more focus but could take a number of angles, e.g. women’s experiences of watching a ‘man’s game’)
  • Unusual sports
  • Bad experiences with technology
  • Get best out of mobile phone/ipod – hidden features & downloads
  • Experiences of crime
  • My first crime (more light-hearted look at people’s early misdemeanours, e.g. graffiti, litter, petty shoplifting, and runs with the law)
  • Crimes while drunk (cue 300 versions of “I stole a traffic cone/rode in a shopping trolley”)
  • Travel stories – how members of the Polish got to Birmingham
  • Advice by and for the Polish community: schools, settling in, jobs, English
  • Story behind a store
  • Fashion tips
  • History of trends, designer profiles
  • Fashion Week experiences
  • City shopping guides
  • Advice on giving up smoking/etc. (under headings)
  • Experiences of emergency services (better done on comments/blog?)
  • Best & worst schools (likewise)
  • School memories (may work if only one school, and headings for various activities/people; lots of libellous potential too!)
  • Hijab ban discussion (better done on forum or blog?)
  • Guide to school services – yoga, etc.
  • About festival celebrations
  • 10 years after HK became Chinese – how have things changed?

Audio: Convergence in the classroom (Andy Price, Teesside University)

Here’s a second audio recording (again split into smaller sections) from the AJE conference on convergence. This one is on Convergence in the Classroom, presented by Andy Price of Teesside University . The highlight of the conference for me was Andy’s ‘four dimensions of online journalism’ model – I’m hoping Andy can supply a graphic at some point, but for the moment imagine a cross section of Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver, and you have some idea. Here’s the audio: