Sunday, 29 December 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

  • I find IFTTT very useful but I need to spend time working out more recipes for storytelling on the move. The iOS location move has huge potential I think ". The channel will allow users to specify an ‘area’ that will allow them to trigger actions and recipes based on when they enter or leave that area"
  • The 'be right or be first' mantra aside, nowadays journalists risk falling foul of 'be retweeted and Liked' trap "It seems like we've reached a tipping point. Initially there were only a few viral hoaxes. Now, with the immense popularity of social media, they are happening almost daily. We are deluged with information coming at us like a firehose--and news organizations and journalists are falling for them"
  • I read the short-lived new block t&cs and felt very uneasy with the change, so the rapid reversal was a welcome example of a service listening to users.
    tags: twitter block
  • I like very much where Kevin Marks is coming from here, with this talk at Le Web: "The IndieWeb is a group of people who recognise that the silos are important for connecting - but you should have your own site. Don't replace those tools, but use them to connect the rest of the web.Its principles:You should own your own data. Have your own page, not a Facebook or Google one.You should have visible data. People can read it, programs can index it. You can't crawl Facebook or Twitter any more.POSSE - Publish on your Own Site and Share Elsewhere. Spread links to your own stuff.Make tools for you, not for other people. If you wouldn't use it, other people won't. Odeo was a classic example: a podcast platform built by people who didn't podcastDocument what you do. Say what works - help other people by doing so. And Open Source what you make, because you get help and it ensures that what you do will last.Design and UX are really important. Don't just add them on top of what you've built.Be modular. Don't try to build everything - build pieces that plug together. It makes it easier to swap things out, or replace dead services.The Long Web - expect it to last, don't destroy history and spread copies elsewhere.Bet on the web - open outlasts closed. Make infrastructure that others can build on."
  • This post pretty much sums up how I feel when I see Parliament in action on TV. The searing cut and thrust of debate it ain't - it's like looking into a classroom that the teacher's stepped out of unexpectedly. Unedifying is probably the kindest word for the way our politicians behave on the green benches. "The sight of shouting, screaming, shrieking men and women get paid decent salaries to determine so many aspects of lives is simply appalling.  How much money the Government will take from us and how it will spend it are supposed to be the subject of the Autumn Statement – serious, big things. Yet the people Campbell expects us to trudge to the polls to vote for or reject think it’s acceptable to behave like a baying mob. In the case of the Tories, it’s trying to bring on Balls’ stammer. But don’t have too much sympathy for Balls – he likes nothing more than trying to derail the PM by making funny gestures at him during Prime Minister’s Questions."
  • This, from the NYC, on the phenomenon of apparently sane, qualified and respectable journalists, reporting something because it's on the internet, without checking, speaks to me. I know there is a terrible temptation to do it Because Everyone Else Is and the page views will be huge. It's also an easy way to wipe out integrity and trust from readers who have a relationship with us. “This is journalism as an act of pointing — ‘Look over here, this is interesting,’ ” he said. He says uncertainty about a story’s veracity is unlikely, in most cases, to keep an editor from posting it. “I think BuzzFeed is probably a little bummed they are being called out, but they are not going to start asking for three sources,” I take the point, but I'd argue that it's not journalism as an act of pointing - it's just parroting something someone else has said, regardless of veracity. 
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Goodnight, sweet Post

liverpool sunset

The Liverpool Post is to close.
The last Post will be printed on December 19; the website will go dark and the Business Daily e-edition fold.
The details are here if you want to know more; I want to talk about the Post I remember, and love.

When I joined the Liverpool Daily Post, as it was then, it was as deputy editor in 2007, second-in-commend to newly-appointed chief Mark Thomas, previously deputy editor on the title and a journalist already in possession of a long and distinguished career.

While working on the Liverpool Post I discovered the amazing joy and interaction of social media and online, networked news.
I remember ringing the Post's then-digital editor, David Higgerson, from Preston where I was on the Journalism Leaders Course to ask him if he'd heard of Twitter.  I had learned of and joined it just minutes earlier, he hadn't come across it at that point so joined with enthusiasm - and seconds later he created the LDP's first account too.
I think we were one of the first regional dailies (I know the Birmingham Post, where Jo Geary was in situ was and the MEN - with then-digital editrix Sarah Hartley in charge, but can't think of many others) to jump onto Twitter and we did it well.

Sod modesty - the LDP was good at online. It had 150+ years of print history already but in digital the LDP found a new voice. The LDP Twitter talked to people, answered questions, told followers what we were up to, and what was going on, and I personally got to meet some really cool, clever Merseysiders who worked and played in digital spaces as a result.
The photo of the sunset over Liverpool, at the top of the this post, is by Joe Neary, who I know as exacta2a, a fabulous photographer I met through our setting up the LDP's Flickr group and becoming involved with the large, talented and vocal photographic community that sees Merseyside through a lens.
Brilliant people, and I'm happy to say some of them are still good friends of mine. The LDP built a great relationship with its Flickr group (learning a lot along the way about communities and how to work with them - not 'manage' them) and they do smashing things like photographing the page and uploading it to Flickr when their photos are published, so they rest of the group can see...

My Photo in the Daily Post!
My Photo in the Daily Post! (Photo credit: Abhorsen The Final Death)
In 2008 David and I went to Mark one day to pitch a bit of a mad idea - to liveblog the entire newsroom day, tell people what we were doing, stories we were working on, film bits if we could, and just open the whole process out.
Mark signed up for the craziness, and we did this which was great and a bit ground-breaking (CoverItLive were very happy, I think, with the amount of press interest our day generated), and I personally learned a massive amount about the needs and hungry demands of  live coverage (which had to be a learned skill for this print-era hack), how to find a voice on a live blog, and how to juggle multi-platform approaches. It was huge fun, absolutely knackering and still gives me the best sense of achievement.

The Post is/was/always will be a great name. I worked with some of the smartest people in journalism there, had excellent stand-up yelling telephone rows with both Liverpool and Everton FC press types, made my first ever front page (it was terrifying the first time Mark went on holiday for a fortnight and left me in charge - then suddenly I didn't want to hand the reins back)  and wrote the only leader article of my editorial career that has ever sparked a letter of agreement from a reader.

I will miss the LDP and, as much as I admire and champion the Liverpool Echo, I think Merseyside will be a poorer place for the loss of that familiar blue masthead.
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Friday, 29 November 2013

Don't Do Digital, just Do.

There is a thing that keeps bugging me, and it's this: Until we stop thinking about digital as a discrete thing in our news operations, our mindsets, cultures and workflows will never really change.

If we just stop thinking that digital is a special thing with differing needs to print, it would be a massive step forward in newsroom change.
That point in itself is a shift for me: A few years ago I would have said that the way to go was to treat digital as a startup - hothouse a team, give it growing time, be attentive to it.
I changed my mind because things have changed. We don't need to hothouse digital because we should be over that now.
Doing Digital is so 2008, baby.

Making a special effort to Do Digital is the multimedia equivalent of breathing in and out - it only feels weird when you consciously focus on what you're doing.
Talk about content, not platform, and think about how that raw content should best be dealt with. It's three years since I wrote a piece about about throwing away the flatplan/dummy/book/whatever, and I still say it's the way to go. We need to stop obsessing over physical pages and obsess over content instead.

Personally, I think managers have a responsibility to drag everyone they can with them in this thinking; let the devil take the hindmost. Want career progression? Then be progressive.
The most important act of leadership any manager can do, to protect their team and ensure people have a career ahead of them, is steer them towards things that currently fall by the wayside...
...because people are busy
...because people are writing for the paper and there's a deadline on a Physical Thing, as opposed to online where no one will notice if a story isn't up immediately*
...because the interview is happening over the phone and a video is impossible
...because REASONS

There are a million excuses, but no good reasons.

* They notice
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Monday, 11 November 2013

The Changing Face of Journalism panel at the Society of Editors Confence

Liveblogged notes from The Changing Face of Journalism panel comprising:
Steve Aukland, formerly Local World
David Dinsmore, editor of the Sun
Simon Fox, CEO of Trinity Mirror
Geraldine Allinson, chairman KM Group
Peter Barron, Comms and public affairs director, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Google
* Chaired by Raymond Snoody, journalist, presenter and media commentator

SF: There are so many changes going on. I will take about two elements: Speed - we live in a world of instant gratification and journalism has always been a race but the need for sped has increased exponentially; Snacking - the average number of times people look at a phone in a day is 110. There are no white spaces left in our lives and being entertained is as important as being informed.

DD: The big change to four years ago is the number of platforms we are publishing on, on a minute to minute basis. How do we monetise the content we produce? As an industry we let the genie out of the bottle ten years ago by giving content away and our company is now trying to put it back. Only time will tell if we can.

GA: We are in the strategy of cross platform media and in the past some of our high flying journalists would go to the Sun or the Guardian and now they go to Sky or the BBC. We have cut journalists but this was because we cut products that were loss making, but there is a big demand for content. I don't think we could put paywalls up but we need to generate revenues to keep the quality.

SA: This is a good time to be in journalism as for the first time in a long while we are in audience growth. We have a growing business but the question is can we monetise it. People who work on local news websites are creating the whole story, from writing it to subbing and putting the headline in.
Asked about UGC he said some of it would go straight online before it was checked, because otherwise you were legally responsible.

PB: Five years ago since he left Newsnight, and his last blog post was that Newsnight would never go on Twitter.
He referenced Dan Gillmor, talking about Newsfoo, said it used to be a torrent of tears about the future of journalism and now it was a torrent of ideas.
We should stop thinking in terms of traditional or legacy media and call it established media.
He said Google did not create content or employ journalists - Google news was an index.
GA said her newspaper group had yet to benefit from Google pushing readers its way.

SF: I think it strange that we have a debate about which model is right. We have chosen not to have paywalls but that means we have to attract vast audiences and w will monetise them. The Sun has chose a paywall and will have smaller audiences bug they will pay to access the content.
Choose the model that works for you and make the best of that model. We chose ours because I believe for the mass news organisation that we are and with the competition that exists, the best route was to have our content available to as many readers as possible.

DD: Asked if he would choose a paywall he said more people saw content from the Sun than ever before, although they may not realise it originated with that brand.
I firmly believe it is the Sun's content and making it as interesting and possible that will keep people, not the football rights we have bought. Before our relationships with reads was through a retailer taking money for the newspapers from them and we did not know them; now we can have a relationship. We are not publishing our audience figures yet and I cant tell you them because someone from Ne York will give me a very big row.

SA: You need people close to the customers, hence I am not a fan of subbing teams. Editors can now go out and create a lot of extra business from their contacts and, yes, they will hold people to account if need be. Editors and journalists have a commercial role to play. If there are opportunities they can pass on the ads or take them themselves.
He stressed that if there was a story involving a customer the paper would still run it.

Asked about Leveson and the fear factor of running stories, DD said: There is a lot more consideration given to things. The Bribery Act has had a big impact ad you are restricted in who you can give money too [this is NOT a problem for just about any regional editor, I'd suggest - we don't tend to pay except for buying copy from news agencies...]
We are finding that if we work hard we get exclusive, unique content that sets you apart.
Asked if Leveson had therefore had a positive effect he said you had go play the ball in front of you.
SF: Having just looked at 400 entries for our new Pride of Trinity Mirror Awards, I don't see anything other than fantastic journalism coming from our teams. I have observed the highest integrity and quality of story gathering.
GA: we always try to make the best of it.
PB: The state of journalism at the moment is extremely robust health. There has been a revolution in how we harvest information and the tools are light years ahead.

DD was asked how important Twitter was: You have got to understand it and I'm not sure anyone does. There is no volume control on Twitter and you can have 50 people shouting and think "oh my god" but its only 50 people. I suspect it moves government policies on the hoof as they live in this Twitter bubble.
Information gets disseminated through it but it only takes you so far.

SF: I think you can be sure that mobile and tablet will become more dominant means of delivery of information. 4G and cheap tablets will see this explode.
Asked if it mattered for journalism if it was electronic or on paper he said: Long form read is still much better in printed form. It is an easier read on paper and it is important that paper products exists for many more years.

DD was asked how his role as editor was being redefined.
It is still something we are working hard on. We still have the traditional structure that supports the 6 day a week paper. You have to delegate a lot more responsibility. Historically we have been very good at making little decisions and letting the big boys make big decisions and that has to change.

PB said Google worked on the basis of notice and takedown. If we were responsible for the hundreds of hours if video uploaded to YouTube every minute it would be impossible.

Asked about the relationship between the BBC and local news, as referenced by Theresa May earlier in the conference
GA: They can attribute stories that they get from us and say our name when they do. Right now. They will not even mention our brand.
An unidentified BBC exec (I will add her name if I can find it) put on the spot by the panel chairman said that they did try and attribute. She said the problems of the local press could not be laid at the BBC's door.

The panel ended with all five panellists saying they were optimistic about the future of journalism.
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The Policing and the Media panel debate at the Society of Editors Conference #soeconf13

Live notes from the Police and the Media panel

Keith Bristow, DG, National Crime Agency
Alex Marshall, CEO, College of Policing
Andrew Trotter, Chief Constable, British Transport Police and national policing lead for the communication advisory group

KB: NCA brings number of other organisations and our mission is to cut serious and organised crime. It is about recognising policing is local but we need an overall effort. Organised crime is a national security threat, cyber, organised and immigration crime is now all classed as this.
Directive powers are important but are in extremis - I would use them if there was a refusal to undertake a reasonable request.
Cub crime is often depicted as unique and requiring specialist intervention but increasingly criminals are committing old crimes using new ways.

The biggest challenge is our starting point and we need your (the media) help in getting people to understand serious organised crime is not happening somewhere else to someone else... We must be increasingly concerned about our children's uses of the Internet - you don't have to open your front door to let criminals in now.
We want the media to help us get the message out to criminals - like some of the media coverage about Curtis Warren (a Liverpool gangster -search In the last few days.
It means more of our offices will be accessible to you (the media). "If you're the rights person to talk about what we are doing, do so". The public want to see and hear the men and women who do fantastic work keeping them safe.

This will mean:
More off the record briefing
More advance briefing
Specialist media advisors present for briefings
No leaks - that is outside the rules of our organisation
Digital media: We don't want to tweet every thing - less is more - but as we learn and develop our approach we will give you what you need to do your jobs

We want to engage withal fellow professionals with a shared public interest, not as mates.

AM: It is important that the NCA and forces have a close relationship. The college is doing a lot of work around cyber crime and we also produce a lot of guidance, including contact with the media. We have now put the vast majority of that online - it is on the college of policing website now.
Acknowledged the difficulties of police/media relations recently and asked for feedback. Said bad news. Stories about policing were "massively damaging" and a code of ethics was under consultation now.

AT: I was the author of the guidance and I stand by it. I champion good relations between the police and media. I want a good and open and legitimate relationship with journalists. They have not always been legitimate and we are not going back to that.
Regarding police/media relations: "If you can tell your mum and your boss about that conversion and it id correct then that is about right."
I want us to engage with you and for the debate to move on.
Police feedback, he said, was that forces have good relations with locals and regionals, and with local representatives of nationals, but it is not so good when other nationals turn up.

Chairman Dermot Murnaghan asked: Are you announcing the death of the tip off?
AM: we can have coffee together and talk about legitimate issues and if it is proper to give guidance on certain issues then we can do that.
KB: It has to be legitimate and public interest has to be at the centre of it. I would undertake that contact with one of our media specialists present.

Barry Davies of NWWN asked: We have papers covering several counties and the approaches can be quite different. What are your views?
AT: I discourage local policies as I don't want to see local practices brought up which are confusing. It is a poor service and it is not very bright.
AM: if you see discrepancies tell me and I will bring it up with the local force.
KB: regional and local relationships are important. We are working to have an effect on real people in real neighbourhoods and there will be very few occasions where we are not doing that in partnership with the local police.

A PA reporter asked about leaks and whether KB found them alarming. He said there were suggestions the leaks had benefited paedophiles.
KB said intelligence collection techniques were important and anything that puts information in the public domain can help criminals. There is the potential for unlawful sharing of information to be an offence.

Heather Brooke asked that, as the FBI was accountable to the public should the NCA be too. She also asked what defined 'legitimate' and asked if there should be more protection for whistleblowers raising concerns about police practices.

KB: We are FOI exempts but I don't think FOI is the same as being balanced and transparent. I have given commitment to get into the public domain everything I can.
AT: Real and genuine whistleblowers have absolute protection in law.

Asked if the panel was advocating a hard and fast policy of no pre arrest publicity
AM: there is nothing to stop police force naming someone. If Lancs Police had wanted to name Stuart Hall they could have done. If there is a reason to publicise it, then we can do so. What I am saying to forces is that this should not be as a result of an old pals act of a corrupt relationship.
If the media has the correct information they have no reason to com to the police, they can just publish it. A journalist ringing the press office to ask for confirmation that someone has been arrested [ie. of a name the journalist has that they want confirmed], then that is corrupt. That person's reputation could be trashed without good reason.

Nick Turner, from Cumbria Newspapers: If you asked local editors in the room they would, all would have examples where crimes had happened but it was very difficult to get information from the police. It is a basic thing to tell the community about crimes.
AM: So many of our successes come from publicity I am concerned to see how many people in this room agree they have problems with information. I am happy to take up individual cases.

Mike Glover, of Lakes and Land Communication, said police press offices always said victims of crime did not want to talk to the press and there was a culture of no publicity. AT said in his experience people would say no in the first instance to publicity and then perhaps reflect on it and change their minds.

Society of Editors conference Freedom of Information panel notes

Rather than live tweeting the Society of Editors conference, I thought it might be easier to blog it and have a written record to mull over. So these notes are taken live, and then tidied up and posted via Blogger email.

Freedom of Information session with:

Heather Brooke, FOI campaigner
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner
Andrew Vallance, Air Vice Marshall, DPBAC

HB: I was used to doing public record based journalism in the US - police logs, witness statements etc - and when I came to UK I realised all those records were pretty much sealed.
It was incredibly difficult to get official documentation from government and liberate public information. The MPs expenses case was a wake up call; I had done something almost identical in Washington state and all that was required was to ask the Clerk of the House to see politicians expenses receipts.
When I made that request in Britain I was basically laughed out o the building and it went to a five year legal case and ended in the High Court.
Information that should be in the public domain that is suppressed and it creates a sort of black market for that information.
We should be fighting for a sort of First Amendment - the press in the UK is in a weak place now.

SCh: Article ten of the human rights convention is our equivalent of the First Amendment. That guarantees free expression and sometimes it will be in conflict with Article eight regarding right to privacy but not often.
It is rare for a journalist to try to put words in my mouth or spin words. It does happen occasionally and when it does it is shocking.
As director of Liberty I have to try and calibrate all the different important values - absolute transparency would lead to people dying. I find it interesting that politicians become upset about phone hacking and so they farm it out to a judge. It was terrible but what about the Snowden revelations - invasions into people's privacy on an international and industrial scale.
The same politicians upset about hacking are angry with the Guardian for exposing this surveillance.

CG: As a former journalist I don't like the 'press as a victim' which comes across on occasions like this. You can't say freedom of the press excuses everything and yet sometimes it comes across like that.
We are now busy drafting guidance re data protection act and there will be workshops for journalists and the general public next February.
It is not about amending the law. It is not a statutory code. There is a lot in it about what the act is not. The is a lot of myth busting and I hoe that will be a contribution to responsible journalism

AV: My input is on national security and our interest has been to ensure the media did not inadvertently damage nations security.
The DA optics system requires engagement from the media. The editor needs to know the consequences of what is being disclosed to make a decision.
We work hard to ensure that editors know where they are going and what they are doing and don't shoot themselves in the foot.

AV: Snowden I have no time for because if you steal files on an industrial scale you have no knowledge what they contain. When you are talking about hundreds of thousands of files he does not know what they contain or the implications. He went into the
unknown and the consequences may not be appreciated.

HB: You could say he was a whistleblower and who does that information belong to? Things are being classified not in the public interest and we are finding public interest is becoming the private interest.
The digital revolution has changed everything and now that is hitting the heart of power, and they do not know how to deal with that - it is freaking them out. Things done in the name of national security are dangerous to national security. Like breaking encryption on the internet. The NSA did that, not Snowden.

CG: When Snowden and the encryption story started running I started taking an interest. We find the US are much further down the track in investigating this. (He would not say if he was concerned by this or not, despite being pressed hard).

SC: There is a difference between someone trying to be a responsible whistleblower and a dangerous data dump - there may be a moment when you become aware of unethical things by your employer when you have to take action. If you do, you have breached your duty of confidence to your employer but you attempt to do some sifting and you either do it yourself or you go to people you trust to do it. That is what has happened with Snowden and Greeenwald.

AV: We are not concerned about embarrassment but we are concerned when people wilfully damage security. They are exposing us on a grand scale to terrorists... Immediate risk, no. Consequential risk, yes.

CG: We need to be considering whether the arrangements we have are adequate for the 21st century. We have the intelligence and security committee who say "this is ok" (SC cut in and said this was the watchdog that never barked.)
HB said the committee wanted no challenge to be made and had a 'who are you to judge' approach. She described the Guardian has conducting highly responsible journalism: "I was vey upset with the reaction of some other newspaper. You need to put these divisions aside, it is one time when you should support each other."
"The intelligence services act like the priesthood in the Middle Ages, who acted like they had a hotline to God".

Asked why newspapers had to have the same opinions SC said that strategically it was sensible not to turn on fellow journalists "when fear stalks the land".
HB said if you want to criticises the content of the story that's one thing but to go after them around the right to publish that's another and it's undermining.

Home Secretary Theresa May' SOE keynote speech on the future of newspapers

Rather than live tweeting the Society of Editors conference, I thought it might be easier to blog it and have a written record to mull over. So these notes are taken live, and then tidied up and posted via Blogger email.

Home Secretary Theresa May, keynote speaker, said the most serious issues faced by journalism was falling sales and advertising.
She said somber reductions meant that newspapers would soon disappear, and the market would shrink and disappear, but that she remembered when something similar was said about cinema - killed by tv, video, DVD etc, and: "They are still with us and doing well."

Talking about the future of newspapers, the home secretary seemed to work on the basis that people grow older and automatically become newsprint readers. Personally, I think they might possibly become readers but that's not assume they will buy papers. To be fair, she did go on to discuss the various platforms though.

"I believe that newspapers will survive the onslaught of new technology but the industry that emerges will be very different. Young people get their news from the Internet as they grow older they may buy papers as their tastes change... lots of people already pay for news on devices."

She acknowledged local newspapers were having a particularly hard time partly because of BBC dominance, especially thorough the subsidy of the license fee.
She said emerging BBC dominance and expansion at local level posed the question of what reason was left for local readers to buy a paper. She said: "It is destroying local newspapers and it is dangerous for local politics too."

She said the impact of BBC locally had been discussed with her local paper in Maidenhead: "This is a debate that won't go away and the BBC has to think carefully about it's impact locally and on local democracy."
She said she thought local papers would survive despite the internet. "I think newspapers will survive despite the internet. A plurality of resources is essential to our democracy. If newspapers are forced to close down we could see the rise of monopolies."

Referencing Orwell's1984, she said malpractice inefficiency and corruption were a danger.
"Competition in the provision of news is essential in democracy and that is why it is important the Internet does not dilute the plurality."
She said the quality of debate relied on many voices but the media and newspapers were crucial and the transparency was critical; comparing national and regional journalism, she added sensationalisation of news was one reason people would believe their local newspapers more than a national one.

"It is essential that newspapers reflect people's opinion and poplar opinion. Not everything promotes democracy but beyond entrainment and gossip the public wants information on how elected representatives do their jobs and how their money is spent."
And she was empathic around the ability of people to live cover their local council meetings: "Local councils must stop trying to arrest people for trying to film or blog council meeting."

On the Royal Charter: "I believe in a free press and it is vital if we live in a democracy. There is cross party agreement for a royal charter and most politicians have now wish to censor the press. We are all engaged in trying to protect press freedom."
She said she understood how difficult the debate was and hoped that through trust it could be made to work.
She said she wanted to celebrate freedom of the press and that the role of the press was vital in democratic freedoms.
"A future without a diversity of newspapers is much grimmer than the alternative."

Asked what the government would do about the BBC, she said: "One of the challenges is changing behaviour without banning media outlets from opting in specific markets. The BBC needs go think about what it is doing.
"They are dominating the market in a way that prevents others from operating."
However... "The government is not about to legislate."

Sunday, 27 October 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

  • "What I learned is that virtually all of us are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping and are easy hack targets. Most of us have adopted the credo "security by obscurity," but all it takes is a person or persons with enough patience and know-how to pierce anyone's privacy - and, if they choose, to wreak havoc on your finances and destroy your reputation."

    tags: Privacy hacking

  • A fairly rare occurrence but when it goes wrong, it goes wrong "The BBC and a regional newspaper illustrated a court case of a man pleading to rape and firearms charges with a photograph of the wrong man after it was supplied to them by the local police force. "

    tags: police identity

  • For six years,Veronika Larsson used social media to get into political discussions, books, respected newspapers and casual chitchat. Except she doesn't exist. This is a great read, not just about how guarded media should be when dealing with online personas, but also of how a journalist painstakingly unearthed the real people behind the fakery.

    tags: comments identity online+persona

  • I wish I'd been quick thinking enough to write this post - it's spot-on. You can teach law, and how to shoot video on a mobile, and even how to behave on social media - but someone who knows how to think on their feet? That is journalism gold. "There’s another skill emerging which was maybe always essential, but is now as important as accuracy: Quick thinking. Anyone can be a journalist now – or, to save an argument, share news online like a journalist – but the successful ones will be the ones who think quickly. Maybe that was always the case, especially in newsrooms with multiple editions in days gone by. But now a journalist doesn’t need to just write quickly, they need to source quickly, sift quickly, verify quickly and, most importantly, capture the evidence quickly."

    tags: future journalism

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

  • The unmodded 3rd party comments defence has long been established in the online world of news publishing. It does mean that comment threads can sometimes be shocking places marked 'here be dragons' - but the idea of pre-moderating views is something no typically-staffed newsroom could or would consider. Hence Trinity Mirror's Facebook login approach, Most people tend to think before they post, when their actual FB identity is attached (although that has slashed the number of comments posted on the Daily Post site, for example). Anyway, this ruling by the European Court of Human Rights should give us pause for thought... "The judgment in the case Delfi AS v Estonia suggests that online portals are fully responsible for comments posted under stories, in apparent contradiction of the principle that portals are “mere conduits” for comment and cannot be held liable. Further, the unanimous ruling suggests that if a commercial site allows anonymous comments, it is both “practical” and “reasonable” to hold the site responsible for content of the comments."

    tags: comment audience moderation

  • Amid the jokey angst and photos of teens falling downstairs is a very serious point about crediting sources, and the fine line between curation and plagiarism. "Last week I wrote an article about a new trend involving people tweeting photos of themselves and others falling down stairs. Roughly two hours later, BuzzFeed posted essentially the same article with a few new photos and some dad jokes. So I’m going to screengrab their entire article and steal it back. Aggregate their aggregation; aggrega-ception. But don’t worry, I’ll hide the citation to their piece somewhere below to give them the appropriate amount of credit."

    tags: buzzfeed curation citation

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

  • This is a pragmatic and interesting post from George Brock, who won my over with his opening line about disruption being 'no fun if your livelihood or beloved newspaper is being destroyed'. Some commentators sound as though they relish the pained thrashings of the Press industry as it struggles to find a new way to exist; others can sound as though blind faith and love of the job will find a way. Also, this: "Journalists worrying about "paradigm shifts", "network effects" and "post counts’ can often forget that, in many parts of the world, adapting journalism to disruption is not the big issue. Keeping reporters and cameramen alive and out of jail remains a priority for many news organisations. In 2012, 70 journalists were killed worldwide in direct relation to their work, making it one of the worst years since records began to be kept. The imprisonment of journalists reached a record high in the same year, with 232 individuals behind bars because of their work. In many places, journalists confront risks, obstruction and threats that are a feature of any society not accustomed to press freedom."

    tags: journalism destruction disruption innovation diffusion+innovation

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

My 'interesting reads' roundup (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Definitely NOT another 'How Journalists Should Use Pinterest' post.

I've read various articles recently about Why Companies Should Be Using Pinterest (I haven't saved any of them, but Zemanta will no doubt provide the latest selection as I write this - it's like trying to put down a hydra). 
However, any social media wrangler in a newsroom knows a site has to be proven earn its keep before more than tentative attention is invested. And how do you even start to overcome this chicken/egg scenario? It's a Google+ sized problem for most of us. 
But this week I was asked to share some of my tips for using it, and as I started to set them down I realised that I wasn't thinking about how to use it as a journalist and 'drive audience' I was writing out my learnings as a user. I've set up various accounts and boards on titles I've worked on but I also use it myself, for all sorts of things.  "My name is Alison, and I'm a Pinner".
I found it very useful as a student, for example and these are the boards that consistently pick up followers because they're really niche (that was my first learning outcome).

I like Pinterest for sharing and driving lifestyle and Buzzfeed-style traffic - it’s easy to create boards, followers - once secured - are loyal; every time they log in, your content is highly visible, as it displays automatically on their homepage. But although it's a visual site, Pinterest is branching out, as it announced this week

Articles will now have more information - including the headline, author, story description and link - right on the pin. So when you find articles about things you're passionate about... they're easier to save and organise. 

And share, it should add. I like the idea; it takes away some of the issues around Pinterest's laid-back (to say the least) attitude towards ownership and copyright; it does have a certain 'if the user doesn't care, why should we?' attitude towards that. 

Thinking about how I use Pinterest (ie. without my work hat on) gave me some ideas about how you can use it with your work hat on. So here are some of my tips on getting the most out of Pinterest, written with my enthusiast's hat on. This is definitely NOT another 'How Journalists Should Use Pinterest' set of tips: 

1. Spend some minutes through the day reviewing - you can see at a glance what’s hot (bit like Twitter’s trending list. 

2. Linking your social media accounts to follow mutual users offers a quick if haphazard community base that you can build on and tweak as you go. These people are already engaged with you on other platforms and are so likely to be interested in the visuals you pin 

3. It is female oriented, but there are football clubs doing their thing with success. Pinning badges with slogans and inspirational quotes from club heroes, that link through to more visual content, is likely to be more shared.

4. Joining a group (also called a community) board (you need to be invited to do so) dramatically boosts your own followers and drives repins when you’re starting out. 

There is a basic directory of group boards but there's nothing as useful or discovery-linked as, say, Twello. 

You might need to do some speculative following and emailing of your appropriate pins to get invited to the board but once you do, repin numbers can shoot up. I was invited to join a popular 'Home' board courtesy of my 'Next Home Ideas' board - and my follower numbers have consistently grown since then for other boards too. 

5. Pinterest users may not realise it, but they are a content farmer’s dream. People will use the search facility to look for ‘cute puppy’ ‘lose weight fast’ ‘10 amazing [whatever] facts’. It's like e-How, but actually not annoying. 

6. A feature in print about someone who’d lost 10 stone for their wedding, that was pinned as ‘lose weight for your wedding, fast’ works across the Alpha Female categories of Food&Drink, Health&Fitness and Weddings, and is a quick, permanent, win.

7. Category boards search is your friend. If the audience isn’t using search, they go straight to the categories list.
Pinterest categories that attract significant followers and repins are all around lifestyle -

Home Decor, Animals, Food&Drink, Health&Fitness (just look a the Popular category to see just how much) and after that probably Hair&Beauty, Weddings and Women’s Fashion with maybe Travel too. 

These give you access to people who are motivated to re-pin and share content, possibly it in smaller niche numbers but pins around celeb fashion and how to replicate it have worked well for me in the past. 

8. Pinterest categories are alphabetised so Animals is the first category anyone browsing the site sees. A great board of regularly updated, pinned animal pix linking to stories will capture the idle browser and also build up followers quickly.
It doesn’t have to be about cute puppies - true life stories are hugely shareable (although if you find yourself welling up at the amazingness of US animals, I advise running the tale - tail? - through before you believe a word) as people like to add their own comments under the pin. It also means you get user engagement and comments to reverse publish if desired.

9. Don't beware Geeks; they bring gifts of audience and sharing. The Geek category is very engaged. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Harry Potter, nerd affirmations... all these things are shared repeatedly. For newspapers with access to celebrity interviews, film reviews etc, or photogenic locations where shows or films beloved of the Geeks have been shot or have featured (hello, Cardiff!) it's, well, a gift.

10. Embedding pins within your own CMS allows you the opportunity to invite your audience back over to Pinterest to discover stories they might have previously missed, sign up, start following you, etc etc.

11. Because Pinterest has integrated Facebook login options and actively encourages users to follow that route, a user has to opt out of it cross-posting their activity onto their Facebook stream. And I guess there are many, many pinners who simply miss the 'Skip' option Facebook hands them.
So, from a media point of view, there's the potential of hitting two new audiences when someone repins you - once on Pinterest, and once on their Facebook profile.

12. Finally, adding the ‘pin it’ button to your bookmarks bar is the fastest way to pin something to your boards quickly from the Record site. It’s here under the apps. It makes life a lot easier!
And you can also add a Pinterest widget button to let users pin your stories off the site, of course, should your developers be feeling kindly disposed towards doing some coding.
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Monday, 23 September 2013

Sometimes you don't realise how fundamental a change has been

Shift happens. Sometimes, maybe, more than we realise. 

Today, I reflected on just how much, and how quickly, in the general scheme of things. The Daily Post notched up its 50,000th edition today, and we made quite a big deal of the fact. 
There was a front and back wrap, comprising a montage of historic front pages, and an 8-page pullout of which my favourite contribution was by Head of Production, Neil Avery, charting a day in the life of the Post. 
I like it because it sets out in increments of time just how the daily life of our newsroom has changed, in a fairly short time; the Post has shifted from a print identity with a companion website to a multi-platform publication which operates in real time as much as possible.

Ignoring the computers and production systems for a moment, if an early 20th Century Daily Post editor had access to a time machine, and zapped himself forward to today he would still recognise he was in a newsroom. 
And he would still recognise the general set up and operation of part of that newsroom - discussions around story angles, photos, and headlines pretty much follow the same patterns, after all. 
But how much else would be alien? Pages being whizzed remotely to a printing press, the night editor's final task of his shift - exporting of xml to create the tablet app, live tweeting, live blog interviews, photos being pinged to the head of images via Dropbox from reporters' phones... these are just a tiny fraction of the changes you see in our newsroom today. But the Post is just my example, because I work here and see it - it's not unique. Such changes are happening everywhere in local newsrooms, and I'd imagine the timespan and accelerated shift is similar.

And yet, if you consider the lifespan of the average UK regional daily newspaper as a clock, these are changes that have happened in just a few minutes. For years there was the status quo for titles and their staff and now, suddenly, there has been this snap and a new phase begins. One in which audience is far more at the heart of what we do, I'd suggest. 
Anyway, of all the lovely tweets we received today (and I've storified many of them because they show how important local journalism is to many people) this one made me particularly happy:

Happy birthday, Daily Post. I am so proud to be a tiny piece of your history.

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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Women in journalism and management - some thoughts

I spent much of 2011/12 slogging towards an MA in Journalism Leadership with UCLan - a commitment that, while I cherish the end result and happily wore the Hat of Weirdness on graduation day, isn't something I'd advise anyone to combine with moving jobs (twice) and home (twice). 

As part of my chosen research, which was on the emerging role of the editor - something I plan to blog about over the next few posts - the subject of mentors kept cropping up. 
It also came up as part of one of the course modules, and it's quite challenging to find yourself having to think back over a fairly long career and answer questions such as: 

  • Who was your mentor?
  • Did you seek unofficial mentors if you weren't allocated one?
  • Does your company have a mentor programme?
  • Are you a mentor?
  • If so, how does your role work?

At the time we had the discussion I said that, no, I'd never had an official mentor; however, on reflecting afterwards I remembered there was once a bloke (not a journalist, but a manager) assigned to me as part of a work mentor scheme in Southampton years ago.
I had one email off him and then he left the business. End of story. 

So much for my official mentor experience. I've always sought out my own role models anyway, and there have been plenty of editors and deputies who have helped me (or hauled me) up the slippery rungs of management.
However, there have been times in my career path when I really would have appreciated a female executive - role model, mentor, whatever - to discuss things with, and you know what? There wasn't one. 
I don't mean there wasn't one I could talk to, I mean there was no one in a senior management role who could help a young female journo new to management with some friendly encouragement. 
I finally worked with my first female assistant editor when I joined the South Wales Argus, and met the first female newspaper editor of my career when I joined the Liverpool Echo, where we shared an office with the Liverpool Daily Post, then edited by Jane Wolstenholme (now a successful author). 

I've worked with plenty of female newsdesk peers who I could throw ideas around with, but senior editorial management was a female desert for a sizable chunk of my career.  
I was reminded of this when someone included my @-name in a tweet to the Reuters 'Women and Journalism study' as a female editor, although actually, this study is about the national newspapers. 
Anyway, reading a summary of the study I see the question is raised about the high numbers of aspiring female journalists: "There are all these women coming in - but where do they go?” 
Press Gazette notes:

Franks found that where women have built successful careers in journalism, it tends to be in the lifestyle areas. Meanwhile, politics, news, comment and opinion remain largely the preserve of men. 
“I was surprised by the segregation by genre and subject matter,” Franks said. “All the old stereotypes hold on just as much as they ever did. You think these things are breaking down but this is not the case. It is altogether pretty shocking.”
Women are, however, relatively more prominent in business and finance reporting. Another area where female journalists have found a voice is in war and conflict reporting.

So, obviously, women in journalism is a subject that is relevant to mah interests, as they say, and so I went back to my Diigo bookmarks to see what else I'd squirrelled away., 
There's this, on the number of women newsroom leaders in college publications, and  this, from the American Journalism Review, entitled Do Women Lead Differently? which is a response (about a response) to an interview with NYT executive editor Jill Abramson, who said gender had nothing to do with how a paper was edited.

Among her points were:
"The idea that women journalists bring a different taste in stories or sensibility isn’t true. I think everybody here recognizes and loves a good story."
In AJR, there were mixed views from other female editorial executives, including Anna Marie Lipinski, editor of the Chicago Tribune
"I think it's true we're all identical in loving a good story, but not all editors will define a good story identically... Do I think gender plays a role in that case? I suspect at times it does. Being a woman gives you access to some experiences in life that men don't have, just as the reverse is true."
Anyway, as I'm a) female and b) an editor, I'm interested in the topic.
FWIW I'm in the Abramson camp: People edit differently; you're influenced by life experiences. Also, I'm definitely NOT the sort of editor who hugs, as cited in AJR. I would be greatly discombobulated to see an editor hug a journo, unless it was at a pub, at said journo's leaving bash, and alcohol was heavily involved.

Over the past several years as I've progressed, the fall-off of women at senior levels of journalism was something I noticed. 
Up to, say, department head level, there are many women managers. But it does thin out as you get past that layer of strata, and it's not a simple case of subscribing it to their leaving for family reasons, as HBR's Sarah Green writes in her article on the subject:'s not exactly that there's a glass ceiling (or a glass cliff, or a maternal wall): the days of blatant discrimination are (mostly) behind us. Today, it's more like a glass obstacle course of a hundred hard-to-see hurdles.
On the subject of HBR, I'd also recommend the linkfest of research that is Tell Me Something I Don't Know About Women in the Workplace.

I hadn't thought of the obstacle course comparison before and from a 'women as editors' point of view, I would have said the regionals doing much better than the nationals until recently. From announcements on industry websites, it does seem as though a number of women who edited dailies titles have moved on to other things. 

I know several female executive or deputy editors and news editors, and a few editors of websites or weekly newspapers.
I believe the rapid growth of digital in our newsrooms has enabled many women journalists - I'd put myself among them - to advance their careers in directions that simply didn't exist seven years ago. 
But I also know that the only Society of Editors conference I ever attended (2010) was particularly memorable - from my point of view, at least - because out of of all the editors and senior editorial types (by which I mean actually producing publications) put up to speak or participate in panel debates, only one was a woman, and she subsequently left the industry. So is this an issue or am I over-thinking it? Are women really not making it to the tops of the mainstream press tree in the numbers they should be? This post has some of my thoughts on the matter - I'd love to hear yours.

* Loise and Clarke illustration by Webcomicfan 

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