Monthly Archives: April 2009

Letter to Govt. pt3: Should councils publish newspapers? A response to the Media Committee

As part of a group response to  the government‘s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Paul Bradshaw looks at the role of local authorities in regional journalism. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well as the blog posts.

So. The Committee for Culture, Media and Sport want responses on “The appropriateness and effectiveness of print and electronic publishing initiatives undertaken directly by public sector bodies at the local level”

The question of what public sector bodies should be allowed to publish, how that affects local journalism, the local economy, and local democracy, is one of the most difficult to resolve – not least because it involves so many interconnected elements.

The first problem is that any discussion runs the risk of conflating a number of separate but interlinked elements:

  • local councils and local democracy are not the same thing; 
  • local newspapers and local journalism are also two different things.

Whatever model emerges must recognise that papers are not the only places where public discussion takes place, and print journalists are not the only people holding power to account.

Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt2: The opportunities and implications of BBC partnerships with local media

As part of a group response to  the government‘s inquiry into the future of local and regional media, Adrian Monck looks at the implications of BBC partnerships with regional media. Blog comments will be submitted to the inquiry as well. If you wish to add a blog post to the submission please add a link to one of the OJB posts – a linkback will be added at the end.


A long time ago, I wrote the plan to run ITV News in London (replacing LNN), modelled on the operating structure for Five News. It involved reformatting shows and cutting staffing to the bare minimum required to get on air.

Nothing wrong with that. It was a more efficient use of resources.

But it wasn’t really designed to involve the process you and I would know asjournalism. It was intended to produce a happy simulation of a television news broadcast to a standard adequate enough to satisfy regulators.

Five News shared resources – as did the new ITV London when it started – with the rest of ITN. The biggest and most expensive of these resources were the satellite trucks and needless to say, the deployment of said trucks went to the people paying the most money – ITV’s national news and Channel 4 News.

The editorial decision-making process played second-fiddle to the negotiation and horse-trading around satellite dishes, technicians’ overtime and working hours without which stories and guests (even cheaper!) couldn’t make it on air. Continue reading

Which news sites do and don’t get a ‘last updated’ time in Google

Some news sites get a last updated time stamp in Google – and some don’t. It’s a bit of information next to the URL that says XX minutes ago and shows when the most recent story was published.

Not all news sites get it – although I can’t see any rhyme or reason (originally posted here).

Sites that do have it

The sites that do have it are: Times, Telegraph, BBC News, Express, ITN, Guardian. (Click the picture for a bigger version).

News sites with a time stamp

News sites with a time stamp

The Express could probably live without it, as I recently showed that they don’t update their site after 8am on a Sunday. Continue reading

Letter to Govt. pt1: “The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information”

The following is the first in a series of responses to the government inquiry into the future of local and regional media. We will be submitting the whole – along with blog comments – to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. This post, by Alex Lockwood, looks at the first:

“The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information”

The final views of the committee will depend on how much the inquiry sees local newspapers responsible for local journalism – a little, a lot, or completely.

Writing in the Observer on Sunday, Henry Porter pretty much called them the same thing. For many who work there, the death of newspapers is disastrous for access to local information, not least due to the historical positions those papers have held.

The closures of the Glasgow East News and Ayrshire Extra, the Black Country Mail Extra, Wolverhampton AdNews, Daventry Post and Ashby Herald, the Lincoln Chronicle, the Northallerton, Thirsk and Bedale Times, and dozens of others that have either closed or felt the swingeing impact of mergers and office cuts, are devastating for their communities. These papers have been the homes for ‘hard’ journalism – reporting of the essential court and council stories that really matter to local lives.

Los Angeles Times reporter, Joe Matthews, quoted widely on this, has made clear the dire implications for democracy of the loss of quality journalism. Matthews wrote: “Much of the carnage of the ongoing media industry can’t be measured or seen: corruption undiscovered, events not witnessed, tips about problems that never reach anyone’s ears because those ears have left the newsroom.”

Those trained ears may have left the newsroom – but are they the only ears open to the whispers of local corruption? Continue reading

Online audio and podcasts (Online Journalism lesson #5)

Lesson 5 in this series of Online Journalism classes takes a quick look at producing audio for the web and recording podcasts. It’s quick, because this is an area where you’re best doing it as quickly as possible and learning from your mistakes. For more on this area see my podcasts bookmarks and online audio bookmarks. I’d welcome any feedback or information you think I should add.

#twoonday – it’s Twitter Cartoon Day 2!

twoonday banner

Today is Twitter Cartoon Day 2 – or, for brevity’s sake: Twoonday.

The idea is simple: cheer up the Twittersphere by changing your avatar (picture) to a cartoon character.

Last year was fun, but this year there are more of us on Twitter, and more things we can do.

There’s a Flickr group where you can submit your screengrabs, and @AlexGamela is creating a Google Map of Twooning Twitterers. I’ll also be creating a tagcloud of the words most used with the #twoonday tag (thanks to @psychemedia for help with that).

The image above is designed to fit neatly on Twitter wallpaper. A larger version is available on Flickr.

Tag your tweets #twoonday to join the fun. Follow the tag here.

After all, it’s Friday!

The OJB guide to open news APIs – part 1: Guardian, NYT and Daylife

In the first of a series, Peter Clark, founder of Broadersheet, takes a look at three of the leading APIs for people looking to build news-based web projects and mashups.

About six months ago, a friend of mine released a new search engine called Duckduckgo. Duckduckgo was based on the much hyped (free) Yahoo BOSS search engine platform, it was well received and now serves hundreds of thousands of searches a day.

Yahoo recently announced BOSS was going to be a paid-for service – surprising a lot of developers. When you’ve built a popular (albeit non-profitable) service on a free platform, and that platform suddenly becomes rather expensive – that eats into your ramen budget.

So when various news agencies announced content delivery developer platforms, I was particularly interested in where they were headed.

There are various services – some free, some paid-for – that developers can use to extract content and valuable information from news agencies. My friend was developing a web application that took content from The Guardian, and automatically printed a bespoke newspaper each day about your favourite topics. He expressed displeasure about The Guardian restricting developers from doing this:

“You will not: Use Open Guardian Platform Content in any printed format”

We’re entering a new age of restrictions and jumping through hoops and loopholes to make awesome content platforms for users.

There are three top platforms for news content which I explore below. I’ll discuss what you can and can’t do technically. Continue reading

A Model for a 21st Century Newsroom – in Russian

Russian translation of the Push-Pull-Pass distribution model

Maxim Salomatin has translated the entire Model for a 21st Century Newsroom series into Russian – no small feat as the whole comes to around 10,000 words. 

You can find the translated posts below:

Part 1: The News Diamond –
Part 2: Distributed Journalism –
Part 3: 5 Ws and a H that should come after every story –
Part 4: News distribution in a new media age –
Part 5: Making money from journalism online: new media business models –
Part 6: New journalists for new information –

Is free news really killing newspapers?

Those newspaper executives who seem to be casting around for someone to blame for the downfall of their empires may want to look at the lessons learned by the music industry. Of particular interest is this from today’s Guardian:

“The Norwegian study looked at almost 2,000 online music users, all over the age of 15. Researchers found that those who downloaded “free” music – whether from lawful or seedy sources – were also 10 times more likely to pay for music. This would make music pirates the industry’s largest audience for digital sales.”

Then, take a look at this from the 2008 Pew study:

“Newspapers would have suffered even greater losses without their online versions. Most of the loss in readership since 2006 has come among those who read the print newspaper; just 27% say they read only the print version of a daily newspaper yesterday, down from 34% in 2006.”

So what is really killing newspapers?

News as a game: the view from Slashdot

Last week the OJB published a roundup piece on how games were being used in journalism. The discussion around the post at Slashdot concerning journalism in general is so good it’s worth highlighting in its own right. I would republish the best ones here, but that would be a disservice to the range of discussion taking place. Take a look here* 

*if you’re not familiar with Slashdot, comments get rated so you’ll only see the most ‘interesting’ ones expanded at first – another lesson for news organisations.