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
Enhanced by Zemanta

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.
Enhanced by Zemanta

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."