Monthly Archives: March 2008

Magazines and online journalism: answers to a student questionnaire

Lucy Hart, a final year journalism degree student at South East Essex College has emailed me some questions. I always like to post the answers on my blog in case other students are thinking of asking the same. Here they are:

How has online journalism affected magazines over the past few years? It is clear that they are constantly adding additional features to their websites, such as blogs and forums.

The web (rather than online journalism) has affected magazines enormously, just as it has every part of the media. However, as magazine sales have not suffered the same across-the-board declines as newspapers, the changes have not been as pronounced, and they have reacted differently. Continue reading

Something for the weekend #3: email meets RSS (9cays)

This week’s Something for the Weekend is email tool 9cays. At a basic level it’s a tool to help you improve group email conversations – like a mailing list with bells on. The service makes it easier to copy (cc) in people, and creates a permanent webpage so people can catch up on previous emails if they’ve just joined. But what makes 9cays interesting to me is that it also provides an RSS feed.

Having an RSS feed opens up a number of journalistic possibilities. Here are just some:

  • You could carry out an email interview with a public figure – or a number of public figures – and allow people to subscribe directly to the correspondence.
  • Or you could display the feed on your news site.
  • You could aggregate a number of feeds from different conversations on the same topic
  • Likewise you could use it to display correspondence with readers by cc’ing the 9cays conversation email address in your replies (this would however, sign them up to future emails).
  • You could ask readers to cc the address in their correspondence with public figures (warning: issues around privacy and ethics here)
  • If you don’t have a comments RSS feed you could set up your CMS to forward comments to the 9cays address to create one.
  • Alternatively, you could set up your email account to filter comments from your blog and forward them to different 9cays addresses for different feeds (probably too much effort, but an idea nonetheless)
The fact that it’s email makes this particularly accessible for non-web-savvy readers, too. Your ideas?

Ten ways journalism has changed in the last ten years (Blogger’s Cut)

A few weeks ago I wrote an 800-word piece for UK Press Gazette on how journalism has changed in the past decade. My original draft was almost 1200 words – here then is the original ‘Blogger’s Cut’ for your delectation…

The past decade has seen more change in the craft of journalism than perhaps any other. Some of the changes have erupted into the mainstream; others have nibbled at the edges. Paul Bradshaw counts the ways…

From a lecture to a conversation

Perhaps the biggest and most widely publicised change in journalism has been the increasing involvement of – and expectation of involvement by – the readers/audience. Yes, readers had always written letters, and occasionally phoned in tips, but the last ten years have seen the relationship between publisher and reader turn into something else entirely.

You could say it started with the accessibility of email, coupled with the less passive nature of the internet in general, as readers, listeners and watchers became “users”. But the change really gained momentum with… Continue reading

“The first and the last word on a story”? Clarifying the 21st century newsroom

It seems that Telegraph Digital Editor Ed Roussel is putting some of the principles of the 21st century newsroom into practice. Andy Dickinson, reporting on Rousel speaking at the Digital News Affairs conference, writes:

“In an interesting overview he outlined what may be a typical approach to a breaking news story:

  • 11:15 Alerts sms email desktop
  • 11:25 150 words, solicit reader help
  • 12:15 Updated story, images video
  • 13:15 Analysis, topic page
  • 15:15 Multiple angles – multimedia analysis etc.

“Shades of Paul B’s newsroom model in practice here.”

Then:

“In dismissing the idea (perhaps a myth) that the web was simply about breaking news and the paper about analysis, he said that the strategy  for your website was to be about the first and the last word on a story.”

It’s a cute little motto, and at first I thought it was another way of phrasing the point about the web being great for both speed (that’ll be the first word) and depth.

But then I began to think a bit more about it.

Should a news website ever seek to be the “last word” on a story?

Is a story ever finished online?

Are you not risking repeating the mistake of old media of making a definitive statement, of telling the public ‘how it is’?

If we’ve moved from a lecture to a conversation, does this make your news organisation the type of conversationalist who always wants to win the argument?

I’m hoping Roussel was more interested in the tidiness of the aphorism than its linguistic properties. But clarity is important. We should not seek to be the first, last or penultimate word, but the place where the best conversation is held – whether we’re doing the talking or not.

Mapping UK stories – does the Ordnance Survey have a role?

I’ve had an approach from Scott Sinclair, Head of Corporate Communications at Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for the UK. They have recently launched a mash-up API for non-commercial development at http://openspace.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/openspace/ – and he wanted to know how to involve journalists.

Now I think this is a great opportunity for the OS. Google Maps, as demonstrated by my mapping of OJB readers (you can still add yourself by the way), is not as usable as one would like. And the OS already have relationships with picture desks and news websites who make use of their mapping royalty-free to illustrate stories: around 200 publications have long-term royalty-free licences and “many more come to us for one-off uses,” according to Scott.

So here’s what Scott says about the API: Continue reading