Tag Archives: Mirror

Curation is the new obituary: 8 ways media outlets marked Bowie’s life and death [now 16]

The media’s reaction to David Bowie‘s death from cancer early this morning demonstrates just how widely curation has become in journalism practice – and specifically, how it has become the web native version of the obituary. Below I’ve done a bit of curation of my own: 8 13 16 ways that different publications used curation to mark the death of a legend. If you have seen others, please let me know.

1. Liveblogging curation

The Telegraph’s live reporting of Bowie’s death is an example of curation itself, incorporating just some of the following elements:

  • The Facebook update of the statement confirming Bowie’s death
  • Embedded tweets from key figures reacting to the death
  • A video playlist
  • A single video of his last single, along with other videos to illustrate reactions
  • A posting from Bowie’s official Instagram account

Continue reading

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How linking brought the Mirror’s Hilary Benn speech transcript to life – while driving traffic & SEO

Mirror Hilary Benn Headline

It’s not unusual for news organisations to publish full transcripts of political speeches – but The Mirror have done something simple with Hilary Benn’s speech on a vote on air strikes in Syria which seems like such a no-brainer you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.

It is simply this: they have added links.

In doing so they transform a linear, text-only experience which assumes certain knowledge on the part of the reader (actually, listener) into something journalistic: reporting that adds context and illustration.

hilary benn speech links

The links added to the Hilary Benn speech help provide context and drive traffic

Here are some of the roles that those links perform:

  • Directing the user to broader coverage of the debate as a whole.
  • Providing background on criticism of the Prime Minister for not apologising.
  • Explaining what Daesh is (Benn assumes the listener knows who they are; The Mirror, publishing his words for a different audience, does not).
  • When Benn refers to outstanding speeches, we can click to read a listicle distilling the best of those.
  • Linking to reports on the Paris attacks.

This last point bears some elaboration: too often journalists assume that their online readers are as familiar with the publication as print readers used to be.

But online readers are more diverse and read much more widely than a typical print readership: there is no guarantee that a typical user landing on a page on your site has ever read anything else on it; and it’s even less likely that they read everything.

This particular article is a good example: from an SEO perspective it is targeted at people Googling for ‘Hilary Benn speech‘ or ‘Hilary Benn speech transcript’.

Can we assume they read The Mirror’s coverage of the Paris attacks? No. It is much more likely that they heard about the Paris attacks through social media and broadcast bulletins.

Online, it’s more likely they checked the BBC site than the Mirror.

There’s also a point to make about international audiences: what may have dominated the news in Europe for days may have been missed by readers elsewhere in the world. Never assume your audience knows what you do.

The SEO role

The ‘Carnage in Paris’ link isn’t just about driving internal traffic: it is also about SEO. Internal linking helps Google to find and understand content better.

For the same reason the word ‘Daesh‘ is linked not once but every time it is mentioned: the Mirror is trying to strengthen the link (in Google’s terms, the relevance) between that word and their post explaining what Daesh is and why the term is being used instead of ISIS or Isil.

Unfortunately, this also means that other opportunities to serve the reader through links can be missed.

The speech, for example, mentions a United Nations resolution, but there is no link to that. It mentions debate about the ‘70,000 troops’ figure, but does not link to any factchecking on that figure. Both of these might involve linking outside the site, and sadly this isn’t a priority.

This is something that needs to change in news organisations. In some cases, external linking is discouraged in the mistaken belief that it will ‘drive traffic elsewhere’. In fact, there is evidence that  it leads people to return to your site (it’s even been linked to evidence of digital progress). This is like a TV producer arguing that they should not film on location in case people decide to go there instead of watching TV.

There is even evidence that suggests it makes a small impact on your SEO; and no evidence that it is a negative factor.

The fundamental role of linking

Links are as fundamental to online journalism as pictures are to TV, and yet we are not there yet: still you will find articles published online with no links at all.

The Mirror’s approach is a great example of this. To see why, you only have to imagine if television had no footage of Benn speaking (as would have been the case 30 years ago). In that situation TV would not simply run audio on a black screen: they would add pictures to illustrate what we were hearing. Likewise, if radio only had a transcript they would find aural ways of bringing that to life and adding context.

Links, of course, can do both. And embedding – essentially a form of linking – can do. In fact, that’s the approach the Express adopt on their transcript, alongside images and a gallery. And it’s also useful to note that the Mirror still embed the video of the speech at the top of their piece, even though they have devoted a separate post to the video alone.

Because: why not?

Lessons on using WhatsApp for publishing – an election experience

whatsapp election

A screenshot of the BirminghamEastside WhatsApp channel

During this year’s general and local elections a collection of my Birmingham City University students used WhatsApp to publish regular updates throughout the two days of voting. Frankly… they nailed it. In the process they learned a lot, so I thought I’d share some of the things that came up throughout the process – as well as the experiences of the person responsible for the Mirror‘s political WhatsApp account in the week leading up to the election. Continue reading

Data journalism at the 2015 UK General Election: geeks bearing gifts

bbc election quizThis has been the election when the geeks came in from the cold. There may be no Nate Silver-style poster boy for the genre this side of the pond – but instead, I believe we’ve finally seen the culmination of a decade of civic hacking outside the newsroom. And if anyone deserves credit for that, it is not the Guardian or the Telegraph, but MySociety, Tweetminster, and Democracy Club.

Looking back at my review of online election reporting in 2010 it’s striking how much has changed. Back then data journalism’s contribution was all about interactive presentation of results, but little else.

In the time between that election and this one, however, two things have changed within the news industry: firstly, a more code-literate workforce, including dedicated data project teams; and secondly, the rise of mobile, social media-driven consumption and, as part of that, visual journalism. Continue reading

Study: do news industry metrics underplay print’s importance? (cross post)

In a cross-post for OJB originally published on The Conversation, Neil Thurman argues that his recent research that suggests current news industry metrics underplay the importance of print reading time. 

Figures published recently suggest that more than 90% of newspaper reading still happens in print. This might come as a surprise given the gloomy assessments often made of the state of print media in the UK but, it turns out, we’re just not measuring success properly. Continue reading

UK general election 2010 – online journalism is ordinary

Has online journalism become ordinary? Are the approaches starting to standardise? Little has stood out in the online journalism coverage of this election – the innovation of previous years has been replaced by consolidation.

Here are a few observations on how the media approached their online coverage: Continue reading

Is the Mirror selling links to Moneyextra.com?

The Mirror wants to watch out – as it looks like it’s selling links, even if it isn’t (as I first posted here and which later went hot on Sphinn). Several stories on the mirror.co.uk site share all these characteristics, and must look extremely suspicious to Google:

  • All the stories contain three links to the same MoneyExtra page.
  • All the links use different anchor text.
  • The text happens to be competitive search terms.
  • MoneyExtra isn’t mentioned in the article itself.
  • They were all published in August.

There’s nothing wrong or illegal about selling links if that is what they’re doing. But it’s likely to get you penalized by Google if they spot it as it’s done to manipulate their search results for SEO reasons (Google counts the number of links to a page as a measure of its importance).

Pages on Mirror.co.uk from August

Now let’s look at several pages from Mirror.co.uk.

Headline: Sorting out the best credit card rate

This page from 20th August contains three links to the MoneyExtra credit cards page, using the link text “best credit card rate in the UK”, “best credit card” and “credit cards”. There is no mention of MoneyExtra in the article.

Headline: Why do credit card providers offer credit cards with 0% interest?

This page from 20th August contains three links to the MoneyExtra credit cards page, using the link text “credit card providers”, “0% credit card interest rates”, and “0% credit card deal”. No mention of MoneyExtra in the article.

Headline: Best credit card transfer: Does one size fit all?

This page from 5th August for once contains, er, three links to the MoneyExtra credit cards page, using the link text “best credit card”, “0% balance transfer rate” and “best credit card balance transfer rate”. Again, no mention of MoneyExtra in the article.

Headline: Is it too late for debt management in England?

This page from 20th August contains, er, three links to the MoneyExtra debt page, using the link text “debt management”, “debt” and “debt advice”. There is no mention of MoneyExtra in the article.

Headline: What is ‘government debt management’?

This page from 20th August contains, guess what, three links to the MoneyExtra debt page, using the link text “Government debt solution”, “debt management plans” and “debt”. There’s no mention of MoneyExtra in the article.

Something a bit different!

This page is a bit different. It’s from the 20th August, naturally. But it contains FOUR links to the MoneyExtra car insurance quotes page – and mentions MoneyExtra in the article!

Some other pages

Other pages from August (not the 20th this time) which contain three links to a specific MoneyExtra page but which don’t mention MoneyExtra in the article include: this one and this one and this one (OK, that one’s only got two links) and this one (as has that one) and this one.

Conclusion

As I say, there’s nothing wrong with selling links, and there’s no actual evidence that that’s what the Mirror is doing. However, this looks like the sort of pattern you’d see with sold links – so the Mirror wants to watch out it doesn’t get hit by a penalty by Google.