Monthly Archives: July 2009

Newspapers on Twitter – the charts

Following Malcolm Coles’ piece on how the Guardian, Times and FT are winning on Twitter, Sothisischristmas graphed the results:




Crowdsourcing platform Help Me Investigate is live – and generates its first story

View Birmingham’s parking ticket hotspots in a larger map

Today the Birmingham Post publishes the first story to come out of the crowdsourcing platform I’ve been creating – Help Me Investigate. It’s about parking ticket hotspots in Birmingham*. UPDATE: The Birmingham Mail have also published a report, from which the map above comes.

The site has only been public for a couple of weeks, and we have refrained from any launch or publicity, preferring to let it grow organically in these early stages.

But the early results have been extremely encouraging.

Although the parking ticket story is the first to appear in traditional media, it is not the first investigation to be completed on the site. One investigation was completed during the testing stage; another shortly after. Both had resolutions that might not have made traditional media, but were important to the users and, for me, resulted in the sort of engagement you want from media (more on that below). Continue reading

Elsevier’s ‘Article of the Future’ resembles websites of the past

Elsevier, the Dutch scientific publisher, has announced details of their grandly titled Article of the Future project.  Their prototypes, published at, are the result of what Emilie Marcus, Editor in Chief, Cell Press called,

“…a challenge to redesign from scratch how to most effectively structure and present the content of a traditional scientific article in an online environment.”

Several things strike me about the prototypes — and let’s bear in mind that these are prototypes, and so are likely to change based on feedback from users in the scientific community and elsewhere; but also that they are published prototypes, and so by definition are completely open for comment — the most obvious being their remarkable lack of futuristic qualities.  Instead, the prototypes resemble an enthusiastic bash at a multimedia-infused online encyclopaedia circa 1997, when multimedia was still a buzzword, or such as you might have found on a CD-ROM magazine cover mounted giveaway around the same time. Continue reading

Did Michael Jackson’s kids make the Daily Mail the most visited UK newspaper site in June?

The Daily Mail surprisingly overtook the Telegraph and Guardian in the June ABCes – with more unique visitors than any other UK newspaper (this is a cross-post of my original June ABCe analysis on my blog).

However it was only 4th in terms of UK visitors. Figures from, which tracks Americans’ internet use, show that, of the 4.7 million unique users the Mail added from May to June, 1.2 million were from the USA. American and other foreign visitors searching for Michael Jackson’s kids – the Mail tops for a search on this – drove this overseas growth.

US traffic to UK newspaper sites

Of the big three UK newspaper sites this is what happened to their US traffic from May to June:

This dramatic increase in traffic, compared to its rivals, from May to June helps explains how the Mail leapfrogged the Guardian and Telegraph.

compete-mail-traffic was the main referrer to the Mail – responsible for 22.7% of its traffic. More on this below. Next up was (a large US news aggregation site), followed by and

What was behind this rise in US traffic?

So what led to this sudden increase for the Mail? Compete also shows you the main search terms that lead US visitors to sites. Continue reading

2 great analyses of the Associated Press’s plans to be the RIAA of news

Pat Thornton writes on AP’s plans to stop people sharing news content…

DRM always works like this: It never stops people who really want to steal or break the law, but it almost always hinders law abiding, paying customers. Will this extra layer of code eat up CPU cycles and RAM, bring computers to a halt and not even work on some machines? My guess is that this negatively impacts law abiding users. User experiences matter.

And Jackie Hai looks at what they should be doing.

It’s time to take news to the next level, to a form that not only informs and educates, but also has strong replay value. Then, and only then, will people be willing to pay for it.

They shoot – they score!

Copying text from a Daily Mail article? You’ll get a URL at the end {updated}

Here’s a curious feature of stories on the Daily Mail website. When you copy text from an article and then paste it elsewhere you get something like the following appended to the end:

Read more: 

I’ve no idea how they do it, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it. On the one hand it feels rather intrusive and annoying in a world where the user experience is pretty important; on the other, in many cases it would save me time.

Here’s the article I was copying from – oh, hold on, I didn’t need to do that did I?

Would love your thoughts.

UPDATE: It seems the technology behind this may be by – see comments. Also see the comments on this follow-up on The Next Web and this write-up of Tynt. Don’t you love the power of blogging?

Who links to the report they’re reporting on?

This week the UK government released a report into social mobility. While mainstream reporting focused mainly on the broad picture, I wanted to read the original government report itself. Which publishers linked to it?

I’ve written and spoken extensively on the importance of linking, but it comes down to 2 core reasons:

Firstly, Google will rank a page more highly if it includes more outgoing links.

Secondly, people will return to your site more often if they know they can expect useful links.

So, get your act together, please what are news organisations doing to address this?