Author Archives: nicolaskb

10 reasons (or more) to be a jolly journalist

A thick veil of gloom is slowly blanketing journalism. From resembling Clark Kent and Tintin in their youth, journalists now look more like Jason Blairs, untrustworthy information distorters. Layoffs, shorter deadlines and declining ad revenues are adding to the pessimism of the trade. To feel better, some of them even fake readership data.

We stand against this trend. We are sure that journalism is getting better and stronger by the day. And that journalists will benefit from this.

More than just a big vent session for happy or angry journalists, we want to list the reasons why journalism is going in the right direction. Why it’s easier than ever for young journalists to access sources. Why journalists have more power than ever against their editors. Why journalists will have a more positive impact on society.

This is why the Online Journalism Blog team created, a place where you can tell the world why you think that these are good times to be a journalist. We’ve added ten reasons to get you started below. Once you’re done reading them, please head over to to comment on them or add your own! Continue reading

Web-surfing behavior: stuck in the 1990’s?

A new research from Indiana University showed that 54% of URL requests had no referrals. That means that most of the time, people do not click on links. They merely pick a site in their favorites or type in an URL in the address bar. A mere 5% of URL requests came from search engines.

The figures can hardly be doubted. The study monitored 100,000 users over 9 months – the largest yet. What is more, the number of URL requests without referrals actually increased over the course of the study.

Users seem less Google-prone than what is often claimed. They spend little time surfing and prefer to go directly to destinations they know. Continue reading

The ‘title’ link attribute: is it worth it?

The title attribute of a hyperlink allows for a short description of the destination page to be displayed under the cursor. It helps the user get a hint of the linked page’s content without the loading time associated with Snapshot-like plugins (used on this blog).

Most of us would look at the browser’s status bar, but it can be difficult for regular users to determine whether a link is safe for work or if leads to any interesting content. For all the value the attribute adds to user experience, it takes an awful lot of time for a journalist to fill in all the fields. 30 seconds per link, 10 links per article and that’s 5 additional minutes per story. Continue reading

Skoeps closure: CitJ is not about money, a citizen-journalism venture, closed down last week after its owners declared it unprofitable. The business plan seemed simple enough to succeed:

  1. Find loads of money,
  2. Advertise massively, and
  3. Share advertising and syndication revenue with writers.

The plan worked, except that there wasn’t enough revenue to share. Skoeps cash-flow was in the black, which means that, if investors refused to go forward, growth must have been minimal and could not have offset the initial investment in the near future. Continue reading

German newspaper of record tries social media

In an attempt to reconnect with its readers, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) introduced a thematic and participatory website a few weeks ago.

The translation of The Kindly Ones, a blockbuster book wherever it’s been released, landed in German bookstores last Saturday, February 23. Its controversial content (sex, Nazis and sadism) makes it a favorite conversation topic among the quality-newspaper-reading population. FAZ decided to organize this conversation. Continue reading

Pay-for online venture aims at dethroning Le Monde

Former Le Monde editor, Edwy Plenel, is launching an ambitious news website, Mediapart. He aims at “reinventing journalism” and offering “information of record”, Le Monde-style. No less.

The pun in “Mediapart” refers to “participation”, but also to “à part”, French for “different”. Difference lies first and foremost in the price: Access to the site requires a 9€ (£7, $13) monthly subscription. Quality journalism must be paid for, they say. These subscriptions will feed forty journalists, many of them coming from major traditional outlets.

The barrier is also supposed to allow for more qualitative contributions. Trolls must all be greedy, then.

Continue reading

The risks of self-publishing

Last week, following deadly events on the Kurdish-Turkish border, a ‘spontaneous’ demonstration occurred in front of the American embassy in Brussels. Blogger and freelance journalist Mehmet Köksal was on the scene when some Grey Wolves (a jingoistic youth organisation) recognised him and tried to lynch him. He escaped, severely beaten.

No English-speaking media reported it except for some hard-line Armenian sites.

On Monday, Köksal wrote his last post. He quits blogging, “victim of [his] blog’s success” and intimidation. Without downplaying his long-lasting courage and works, one cannot but notice he ceases publication to protect himself and his family.

Continue reading

All quiet on the western front? Not quite.

German regional publisher WAZ just launched its new flagship website, Der Westen. New features include geotagging, blogs and keyword filtering, monitored from a futuristic-looking newsroom. Martin Stabe has the details.

The concept, writes Der Spiegel, is to let users choose the centre of their world, their perspective on news. Der Westen then provides content around it.

The FAZ today has an interview of blogger-turned-editor-in-chief Katharina Borchert. Numerous online ventures have been playing on regional papers’ turf, from local advertisers flocking to AdSense to local radios breaking news more rapidly, she says. To compete, paper brands must regain their offline roles as community leaders by enhancing the news hole with social features, Facebook-style. Continue reading

The 2009 journalist: some ideas from Paris

One of France’s main journalism schools, the Centre de Formation des Journalistes, has just launched a revamped new media curriculum, where all students are now required to specialize in new media on top of their traditional skills.

The program was 2.0’d from the start, back in June, when Philippe Couve brought together the crème de la crème of the French blogosphere to outline what the 2009 journalist should look like. Continue reading