Tag Archives: conference

I’m organising a data journalism conference – you should come

Data Journalism UK 2016In just over 4 weeks I’ll be holding a day of workshops and industry panels for aspiring and working data journalists across the UK. Want to come?

Data Journalism UK 2016, in Birmingham on November 22, will be focusing on the latest wave of regional data journalism projects, from the data journalists at Trinity Mirror and BBC Scotland to startups like Northern Ireland’s The Detail and winners of Google Digital News Initiative funding Talk About Local’s News Engine and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

I’m particularly pleased to have one of the most experienced data journalists in the country, Claire Miller, speaking too.

claire-miller

Claire Miller, author of the book Getting Started with Data Journalism

The event will mix industry speakers and experts with practical sessions: there’ll be drop-in sessions on getting started with data journalism, an information security ‘surgery’, and some speakers have been asked to focus on practical skills too.

On top of all that, attendees will have the opportunity to nominate skills they want to learn – we’ll put on workshops for the most popular topics!

You can sign up for the event here, and tell me what sessions you want covered on Twitter @paulbradshaw

The event is being jointly sponsored by the University of Stirling and Birmingham City University.

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Government 'doesn't understand economics' over relaxing ownership rules – media economist

On Wednesday I spoke at the thoroughly enjoyable Journalism’s Next Top Model conference at Westminster University. Highlight of the day was keynote speaker Robert Picard, a media economist able to separate publishers’ sense of entitlement from the hard realities of economics and business (mis)management.

Journalism will survive, he said, because there will always be a demand for it. But most print publishers will die because over the past few decades they quite simply haven’t managed their accounts responsibly. While a typical business should have a debt-to-equity ratio of around 1:1, some publishers have racked up ratios ranging from 6:1 to 66:1.

“If you haven’t managed your balance sheet you get in trouble in a recession. Do I feel bad for them? No. They made stupid mistakes.”

One particular mistake highlighted by Picard was the switch in the 1990s from making acquisitions with stock to making acquisitions with debt.

“All the newspapers were making profits when they went bankrupt,” he pointed out. It was their handling of debt that killed them.

I asked Robert about the government’s plans to relax (and consider removing) local media ownership rules – and whether that would indeed create the environment for entrepreneurialism they want to encourage. His response was simple: “You don’t encourage competition by relaxing ownership rules.

“They don’t understand economics,” if they thought that would happen, he continued. “We need people to start more media organisations, not merge into fewer organisations.”

Picard seemed to feel that the Dutch government’s moves to provide funds to help news organisations restructure, or to re-skill journalists, were more intelligent responses.

Date for the diary: JEEcamp 2010 on May 21

jeecamp

Given that Roy Greenslade has beaten me to blogging about my own event, I thought I’d better go ahead and blog about it here. I’m talking about JEEcamp of course – a conference-cum-unconference about journalism experimentation and enterprise. Put another way, if you read this blog, the sort of stuff I talk about.

It’s on May 21st at The Bond in Birmingham. Here’s what we’ve got:

  • Keynote from Simon Waldman, Author, Creative Disruption, and Digital Director, Guardian Media Group. (When I started blogging this was one guy I always read – and he’s still ahead of the game.)
  • Panel: What does the election result mean for publishers and startups? Confirmed so far: Tom Loosemore (ex-Ofcom, -BBC, now-Channel 4), Talk About Local’s Will Perrin and outgoing Creative Industries minister Sion Simon.
  • Please nominate who you would like as the fourth panellist.
  • Closing keynote: Stewart Kirkpatrick, founder of Scotland’s first online-only newspaper, Caledonian Mercury (@calmerc), which launched earlier this year.

More importantly, in between all of that are a whole bunch of fringe meetings, chats over coffee and group discussions. You decide what to talk about here. Because, really, that’s what we go to conferences for, isn’t it?

And in the spirit of the internet, there’s a low barrier to entry: tickets are only £30

For those who haven’t been before, there’s coverage of last year’s event here and here. For those who have, feel free to post a comment.

You really don’t need to use any more brainpower on this. Book a ticket by emailing Kelly.ONeil@BCU.ac.uk (invoices available!) and sign up on the Facebook page or wiki.

The Big Debate: taking people out of their comfort zones

On Monday I attended The Big Debate, an event organised by Birmingham City University with The NEC Group and the Birmingham Post that tasked itself with the question “Can the Midlands’ creative industries revolutionise the UK economy?”

The question itself became less interesting to me than the reaction to the debate from the social media scene in Birmingham. That Twitter stream of reaction is stored for posterity here, and to me the themes running through it appeared to run along the lines of ‘Same old stuff’; ‘Stop talking about it and just do it already’; and ‘You don’t get it’.

I’ve experienced the same frustration myself at many media conferences. As Pete Ashton put it so well: JFDI.

But this was not a media conference: it was a conference for the people in industry who don’t get it, who can’t do it already, and to whom this is still very new stuff indeed.

Beyond the echo chamber

Listen, for example, to Thomas Dillon the “Chairman of Creative Advantage Fund, Europe’s first public venture capital fund for the creative industries,” as he says that “one of my proudest achievements was when The Pirate Bay defendents were convicted in April this year”.

As we say on the Internet: WTF?

Then look, for example, at one of the list of actions that came out of the conference itself: ‘more networking events please’.

“More?” We can’t move for meetups and unconferences in this city. Or is that just us?

The Big Debate was about moving people out of their comfort zones and mixing them up with people from other fields – and maybe exposing parts of the region’s creative industry that we aren’t used to seeing, like the Jewellery Quarter, like the industries where Facebook is banned at work.

So yes, there are people in this region who do think that the 3 Strikes concept is a good one; and clearly there are people who are not so plugged in as to be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing which social media networking event to attend that week.

There are also, I discovered, people who feel excluded from the ‘Birmingham clique’.

And there are people in the room who have not read We Think. And there are people who think social media is a “channel” to sell things. (And if the history of Web 1.0 is any guide, it may well become that).

So getting them to listen to Charles Leadbeater (who, by the way, was a great speaker and a credit to the ambition of the organisers) say that they should make Birmingham “a home for pirates” is important.

Likewise, understanding why they might disagree with Leadbeater is important too, because if you want to persuade these people to do the right things to support creative media, then you have to make the most effective argument, which means listening.

Ultimately the whole event is an exercise of power. Use your vote – have a voice – because if you don’t, and let ignorance exercise power unchallenged, then you can’t complain when the other side does something you don’t like.

JFDI

Because ultimately action will come out of The Big Debate – glacier-like, not at the pace we would like, but hopefully in the right direction. The results of the conversations, I’m told, will be used with external funding agencies to review priorities moving forward; within Birmingham City University to inform what it does; it will be used with research centres; and with meetings with Birmingham City Council.

The organisers could have been better at communicating all of this – it wasn’t clear during the event – but there it is.

Likewise, the event could have been more porous: have a Twitterfall on the big screen so those participating from afar could do so genuinely. Use facilitators to show the people on the tables who don’t use Twitter how it can be genuinely conversational and productive rather than just another channel or waste of time. Have a genuinely conversational web presence.

(That said, I got to speak to people who weren’t on Twitter, which is always useful. And a physical meeting space can be just as levelling as social media, when done right.)

That’s all for next year. For now, we throw in our opinions, and we wait for the lumbering behemoths to squint and read what has been written, and then we go off and JFDI anyway.

UPDATE: Dave Harte has written a wonderful post busting the myths propagated at the event (I particularly like no.2).

The future of online journalism, according to Rue89 and Demotix

Paid content online is a dead end, say the founders of Rue89 and Demotix.

-If you want people to buy your content, you need to provide a lot of added value and that is very expensive. The paid content will never cover you expenses, says Pierre Haski, one of the founder of the French online-only news site Rue89.

Rue89-founder Pierre Haski and Demotix-founder Turi Munth at the Digital News Affairs conference in Brussels. (Photo: Bente Kalsnes)

Online Journalism Blog follows the Digital News Affairs conference in Brussels, and going to media conferences can be quite depressive these days. Even more refreshing then to hear the founders of Rue89 and Demotix with some fresh and brave ideas for the future. Demotix is a brand new citizen-journalism website and photo agency, started in January 2009 by Turi Munthe and Jonathan Tepper. Rue89 was started by four blogging journalists from Le Liberation in 2007. Rue89 has today 20 staffers, an impressive achievement for a journalism startup.

– The old media world is crumbling, and you can’t use the old methods for new media world, says Haski. Continue reading

Is networked journalism more passive?

Last week I spoke at the BBC College of Journalism’s Future of Journalism conference about the future newsroom, and the News Diamond specifically. Chair Louise Minchin asked the following question: did these new production processes mean journalists would become more passive?

It is a great question. On the surface that’s what would appear to be happening: in posting alerts and blog drafts you are inviting the input of the audience and therefore being more reactive. Continue reading