Monthly Archives: December 2008

BCU’s ‘Trinity Mirror Student Online Journalist of the Year 2008’ – Azeem Ahmad

Before the year ends please allow me to publicly congratulate Azeem Ahmad on winning the Birmingham City University ‘Student Online Journalist of the Year’ award, sponsored by Trinity Mirror.

Azeem graduated this year from the journalism degree. For his final year project he worked as the Web Editor for ENO (Environmental News Online), along with Editor Rachael Wilson.

Azeem built the site from scratch using open source content management system Joomla, a raft of plugins, and even survived a hacker attack. But more importantly, he has probably grasped the workings of a networked environment better than any other student, using Twitter particularly effectively, building RSS mashups, learning about search engine optimisation, and exploring the vagaries of online communities. With Rachael he managed a team of second year journalism students as they learned online journalism on the job – the first time I’d tried such a model, which seemed to work very well.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Azeem’s blog entries and seeing the problems he faced in building and maintaining the site both technically and editorially. But, unsurprisingly in the current environment, Azeem has not yet landed a permanent journalism job and so is not blogging as often these days. I’m hoping that changes in ’09. Good luck, Azeem.

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What won’t happen in 2009 – and what might

This month’s Carnival of Journalism looks forward to new media developments in the coming year. Here are my no doubt misguided and naive predictions:

2009 will not be the year of the mobile web

Every year we make end of year predictions that the coming year will finally see the mobile web hit the mainstream. In many ways, it already has. But any expectations of there being some significant spread in 2009 will be scuppered by the credit crunch: users will be increasingly reluctant to spend money on a smart phone as the purse strings tighten. We’re not all going to be carrying around iPhones.

On the plus side, as a result of that slowdown we can expect mobile service providers to become more competitive in their data rates and packages, so that those who do have smart phones will have more reason to take out a mobile web package. Continue reading

What news employers want and what they get – research on the journalism skills gap

I recorded this at the Society of Editors conference in November, so forgive my tardiness. This is Donald Martin, a representative of UK training organisation NCTJ talking about the results of a survey they and partners PTC, BJTC and Skillset conducted into employer and university perceptions of skills needed by journalists:

Gap between what news recruiters get and what they want from Paul Bradshaw on Vimeo.

More about the panel this was part of on the Society of Editors website.

Twitter/mobile bookmarking with Tagthis (Something for the Weekend #13)

It’s been a while since I did a Something for the Weekend tool review, but Twitter bookmarking service TagThis is such a great tool it needed covering.

TagThis allows you to bookmark any URL you see on Twitter to your own account on Delicious or Magnolia. This is particularly useful if, like me, you use Twitter on a mobile phone or iPod, and often see useful links on Twitter that you’d like to come back to later or ‘file’ for reference. Continue reading

“Who trusts blogs?” It’s the wrong question

Yet another survey came out this month providing comfort to those who still refuse to believe that new media forms like blogs represent a genuine threat to their businesses.

Only 18% of people questioned trusted “personal blogs”, while 39% trusted radio or magazines and 46% print newspapers.

I get this sort of stat thrown at me every time I speak to rooms full of journalists. It’s a meaningless stat, reflecting nothing. You trust what you’ve learned to trust, whether that’s one paper over another, one broadcaster over another, or one blog over another. I don’t trust “newspapers” – I trust one or two. I don’t trust “blogs”, I trust the ones I’ve communicated with.

And that’s where individual blogs have an advantage: they can have a personal conversation with the reader. The author can enter into discussion, add corrections and links. Their trust is built on a relationship, not on a brand.

More interesting in this research are the 3 sources which come out as more trusted than mainstream media: Emails from people we know (how many of us feel we ‘know’ a particular blogger?); consumer reviews (a staple of blogs); and, curiously, portals/search engines (links). And why do people trust these more than ‘radio’ or ‘newspapers’?

War, assassination, and Strictly Come Dancing: What news did you first hear on Twitter?

This is just a bit of curious fun. I can think of a few stories I heard first on Twitter. They are:

  • The assassination of Benazir Bhutto (via @martinstabe)
  • The Chinese earthquake (via @scobleizer)
  • The deaths of Bo Diddley and Ted Rogers
  • The resignation of Roy Keane as manager of Sunderland
  • Bank of England lowering interest rate to 2%
  • Russian tanks moving into South Ossetia
  • And, er, the Strictly Come Dancing voting scandal-that-then-became-a-fiasco (via @aarons)

It’s a curious mix of the general and the very specific. And I’m sure there are others I’ve since forgotten.

I asked the Twittersphere what events they first heard there, and the recent events in Mumbai featured highly, along with some of the above. Others included Michael Grimes hearing about the arrest of MP Damian Green via Twittering Labour MP @Tom_Watson before it hit the BBC, Dilyan Damyanov hearing about the death of Michael Crichton, and medeamaterial hearing about Ingrid Betancourt’s liberation from the FARC: “full five minutes after reading it tweeted by several people it was on TV”.

Conrad Quilty-Harper mentioned the OJ Simpson guilty verdict “and countless others first via @BreakingNewsOn“. Dana_Willhoit said “It’s amazing. I was a newspaper reporter – now I turn to Twitter for my news.”

What news stories can you remember hearing first on Twitter? Are there certain types that seem to spread better than others?

Interview: Shaun Milne, ecoforyou magazine

Shaun Milne, founding Director of digital publishing company Planet Ink, shares his decisions and ambitions for new online-only magazine ecoforyou.

Why did you go for a turn-page magazine format?
There were a number of good reasons, not least it is a fairly straightforward skill to learn. We purchase the technology on license so we don’t need to know much about coding, we can just concentrate on the journalism and design side.

Also we think it adds a familiar process to the art or reading. People are used to turning the page of a newspaper or magazine, and this allows them to retain the ‘idea’ of that. We see it as combining the traditions of print with the best of the web and hope to build a community around it. At this stage not everyone has had a chance to play with digital magazines yet, so there is a certain novelty factor. Continue reading