Monday, 22 November 2010

Giving readers data means stories don't have endings - just evolutions

I found this from the New York Times interesting not just because of the high levels of engagement that it led to, but also because readers were actively comparing the respective results, as well as the data they had used to reach their conclusions.
The idea of data never really coming to an end - once a conclusion is reached, the conclusion is scrutinised and new data around that produced - is almost overwhelming in it's implications for the lifecycle of news. Quite simply, data can evolve and move forward for as long as someone is prepared to scrutinise it I guess.

In my work, we have found when we run surveys online (particularly sports) readers want a very detailed breakdown of responses and numbers - they want all the detailed statistics that come out of a survey (ideally with visualisations of some form - even a basic bar chart) if it is to have value.  It reminds me of what my old Maths exam papers used to say - SHOW YOUR WORK.

As the Times highlighted*:
..."many readers asked for a tabulation of the responses, and taken together, they offer a glimpse of specific preferences within two groups: those who far prefer spending cuts, and those who want to mix cuts with tax increases. The responses also point to a deep divide between those two sides, illustrating why a solution is difficult"...
Some weeks ago a Liverpool Echo survey of LFC fans accidentally missed out on of the questions in the big results round-up. We had several stern comments from readers who wanted to know why a question was missing and what the results had been (not just the number of votes, but how many had voted, skipped the question etc). When we realised, and restored the missing information with an apology, we had more posts from readers marking their appreciation that they had been listened to and the data provided.

So, not enough to just tell - you have to show how you got there too. Not exactly an earth-shattering conclusion, I know, but both examples made an impression on me. A lesson to carry forward with me, I think.

* Big hat-tip to Doreen Marchionni who first flagged the NY Times article and reader demands for information on her Journalism as a Conversation blog. She observes: "Online news audiences not only love to hear it but perceive such interactivity as contributing to a story’s credibility". I agree.

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Tips, tools, hints and advice: Reflecting on a presentation to LJMU journalism students

Today was spent talking with students.
First up were two groups of PR students from Edge Hill university, whom I spent the morning chatting to about the working ways of newspapers and journalists, and the different opportunities for PR professionals to operate more effectively in multimedia.
Then, in the afternoon, I headed over to Liverpool John Moores University to talk to 3rd year journalism students about my job, how newspapers and reporters operate (and how they should operate in an ideal world) the tools we use, ways to build their brand as individuals, options they could consider if they were looking to start up as entrepreneurial journalists and the opportunities and bear traps of job interviews and work experience. I've uploaded my presentation to Slideshare and embedded further down this post*.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Society of Editors conference 2010: Notes from the future is ours – 2020 Vision What will the media look like in 2020

The future is ours – 2020 Vision
What will the media look like in 2020? An opportunity for senior editors to outline their vision for the media in the future.
Chaired by: Alastair Stewart, Presenter, ITV News
John Mullin, Editor, Independent on Sunday
Maria McGeoghan, Editor, Manchester Evening News
Douglas McCabe, Press and Online Analyst, Enders Analysis
Jodie Ginsberg, Bureau Chief UK and Ireland, Reuters

Monday, 15 November 2010

Society of Editors conference 2010: Notes from Winning Online and In Print session, Presentation and Q&A with Martin Clarke, Publisher, MailOnline

Notes from Winning Online and In Print session at Society of Editors conference 2010
Presentation and Q&A with Martin Clarke, Publisher, MailOnline.
MailOnline 10% of traffic via Facebook; it is second biggest referrer to the site after Google.
Re sending links via Facebook: "The costs of serving page to someone who doesn't come back is marginal but if she gets six links in a week she will probably become one of our online readers. I don't know why the web go for monthly users - it means nothing compared to daily users. We are reaching millions more than we used to and reading content from a paper they don't normally buy is not going go make them less likely to buy it.

Society of Editors conference 2010: Notes from the What is the Audience sesision

What is our audience - Chaired by: Steve Hewlett, Presenter, The Media Show, BBC Radio 4
Jim Chisholm, Media consultant and analyst
Mike Ironside, Chief Executive, National Readership Survey
Stewart Purvis, Professor of Television Journalism, City University London

Monday, 8 November 2010

Making newspapers - as addictive as ever

An illustration of the box juggling pattern.Image via WikipediaThis hasn't been the most updated blog recently but that's because, for a while, I found myself doing two jobs. I'm back doing just the one now but it's a bit different to what I've been doing for the past two years. To start with it left me somewhat mentally taxed, and not a little perplexed.
This demanding new job is... making newspapers.
My usual job as executive editor, digital, sees me editing print titles on an ad hoc basis (and the Echo on a Sunday rota) but generally my multimedia day is more weighted towards the web, mobile, online journalism and online strategies or projects. But for the past month I've been on a job swap with the executive editor, Echo, and for a chunk of that time, due to absences, I was also engaged in day-to-day digital editrixery as well.
All this was set, Margaret Mitchell-style, against a backdrop of the Liverpool FC club sale/saga - a frenzy that sent reader usage spiralling upwards and led to near record print and online figures.