Author Archives: samathieson

Britain does a great job of opening its data, except for what journalists really want

Fighting with inflatable hammers? Image by Joe Shlabotnik. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Journalist SA Mathieson has used open data in Britain to put together an impressive new ebook. In a guest post for OJB he looks at the country’s strengths when it comes to open data — and the problems still facing journalists who want to see how the public’s money is spent.

It is tough for a British journalist to admit that their government does something well, but here goes: when it comes to openly releasing data, Great Britain (in other words England, Scotland and Wales) is second only to Taiwan according to the Global Open Data Index.

Westminster gets maximum marks for releasing data on the government’s budget, national statistics, administrative boundaries, national maps, air quality and company registers. Continue reading

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Making digital journalism pay: doable. Making a living: difficult

SA Mathieson, who has previously written for OJB about crowdfunding journalism, was one of three speakers at an NUJ Oxford event on how to make digital journalism pay. In a guest post for OJB he sums up the key points.

It is perfectly realistic for journalists to make money out of digital journalism, but the problem comes from making a decent living.

That was the theme to emerge from the NUJ Oxford event on making digital journalism pay. 

Speaking first, Tim Dawson, vice-president of the National Union of Journalists and a long-time writer and editor for The Sunday Times, has literally written the book on this area: Help Yourself – new ways to make money from writing. (It’s also available free for NUJ members – details here.)

He outlined some of the methods for raising money, which can be divided into three types: advertising-funded, marketing for other business and reader-funded. (More on his New Model Journalism site here.)

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Charging for journalism – crowdfunder SA Mathieson’s experience

SA Mathieson Beacon page

If you assumed that the future of journalism would only be free (or at least advertiser-funded), says SA Mathieson, you’re wrong. In a guest post for OJB Mathieson – who recently successfully crowdfunded his own project to report on the Scottish referendum – explains why the web turns out to be capable of charging for access too.

The Columbia Review of Journalism recently reported that the Financial Times now has nearly twice as many digital subscribers as print ones, having added 99,000 online customers in 2013.

They pay significant amounts for access: the cheapest online subscription to the FT is £5.19 a week. A free registration process does allow access to 8 articles a month – but try to access a ninth and you have to pay.

The FT was earlier than most to charge online, but many publishers have followed suit. Only a few – such as The Times – lock up everything, but titles including the Telegraph, New York Times and Economist all use metering, allowing non-paying readers access to a limited number of articles before a subscription is required. They have been joined by increasing numbers of trade and local publications.

This isn’t just an option for established titles: as a freelance journalist I write for Beacon, a start-up used by more than 100 journalists in more than 30 countries to publish their reporting. It has “more than several thousand” subscribers after five months’ operation, co-founder Adrian Sanders told the New York Times recently.

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