Friday, 6 June 2014

Goodbye Blogger

Headlines and Deadlines is on the move. I've had a long and committed relationship with Blogger but we're calling it a day and my cardboard boxes have been unpacked at Casa Wordpress.

I exported my content, uploaded it to, updated my domain so it points there instead, and this is the last thing I'll be posting here. So if you want to keep following my links and posts, you need to go  here from now on. If you're subscribed to this blog in a Reader, I have tried to port the rss (God knows, I have tried). However, I am not sure it's worked - and since Feedburner has trembled on the cusp of closure since Google bought it, allegedly, it may be a moot point anyway.
Come and say hello - I've tidied up specially, just in case someone visits... 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Social media has wrecked my blog*

I am a lazy blogger but it's not my fault. Twitter and Diigo are to blame for my indolence, and Blogger has a part to play in it too. 

You see, it's so easy to just tweet a link, perhaps with a (very) short opinion, or save it to Diigo and get that site to sweep my curated links and comments onto this blog once a week, that I have gotten out of the habit of writing longer thoughts here. 
Classic example: 

This is in the Social Journalism group on Facebook - it's not a secret group although you need to request to join, so I don't thing screengrabbing the image is bad form. 
I read Ian's post and thought he made a very relevant point re verification, cynicism and the requirement to check something out because it seems too incredible to be true, but I couldn't link to it because FACEBOOK.  
That meant I couldn't tweet or share it either,
So I was about to give up when I suddenly thought "I could put it on my blog" - and it was a true OMG moment; I really had forgotten that my blog was there for such things. 

In addition to the other social channels taking over, I actually don't like Blogger much as a platform, but I continually fail to find the time or energy to relocate to another one. See? Again, a lazy blogger. Both these things really need to change.

So how to get out of the habit of tweeting and bookmarking, instead of blogging? Does it even matter, in the scheme of things? 
I started the blog six years ago to test social tools and ways of storytelling, and it gradually morphed into a 'thoughts about changing journalism' (I meant that in both senses btw) and now it's a linkroll of things I find interesting to read, because I tend to forget about it for other things.

Apparently, I'm not alone in this - Nieman Labs says the blog is dead and cites 2014 as the year of its expiration. The Atlantic goes further, and says that the Stream of online organised information is now The Thing - fresh and now are what matters. 
That must mean the River of News is at an end, not so much dried up as diverted into a backwater. (Dave Winer's reference to RSS, which I see crops up in the Altantic's comments, incidentally).

But, although I'm a lazy blogger I enjoy being a blogger, and while I enjoy and celebrate the nowness of the Stream, the River is also important to me. 

I think there is room for both; in the same way we're grappling with how to present longform journalism to readers in a way that is compelling and engaging (which, in English, means they stick with the story rather than going off to look at a list of 19 Things You Did When You Were a Teen That Will Make Your Teen Cringe!). 
At the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo, we've worked with Shorthand this month to create two immersive stories around football - here and here - which taught me a lot about the ways we should structure longform. More importantly, both articles were sharp reminders of the idea that if it doesn't work on mobile, don't bother doing it - swathes of work was cut from the MCFC story because they simply didn't make for a good mobile experience. 

So, two things. I need to be less lazy about my blogging and I need to work on my relationship with Blogger, or find a new partner. New month, new attitude... new home?

* The title of this post is of course provocative and wrong - after all, blogging is social media as far as I'm concerned - but it was the best way to describe this post in a pithy headline.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

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

Sunday, 4 May 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

  • I believe we spend far to much time faffing about making home pages look 'right' when much of our traffic comes to stories direct rather than from our shop window, so to speak. Therefore, of course I agree with this post (which also links to another worthwhile read on the subject at The Verge...TL:DR? Takeaway point is this - "the article page is the new homepage."

    tags: audience

  • "Twitter used to be a sort of surrogate newsroom/barroom where you could organize around ideas with people whose opinions you wanted to assess. Maybe you wouldn't agree with everybody, but that was part of the fun. But at some point Twitter narratives started to look the same. The crowd became predictable, and not in a good way. Too much of Twitter was cruel and petty and fake

    tags: twitter

  • "brands on Instagram are getting exponentially more engagement as a percentage of followers/fans than content on Twitter or Facebook."

    tags: instagram engagement audience

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

Sunday, 20 April 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

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

Sunday, 13 April 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

      • This is the key for me. Immersive means I am lost in what I am reading/watching/hearing/experiencing. 
    • Immersive experiences rule. Take me somewhere I have never been. Show me something I have never seen.

  • I haven't used any of these but I'll give them a go "in digital years a lifetime for a product seems like about 21 months. “Moore’s Law”  predicted chip-processing power would double about every 18 months. It more or less has for decades, and each wave of chips remakes the digital world. In digital time, that means a tool born in 2012 was born a lifetime ago. There’s nothing wrong with the classic tools; they just aren’t the latest ones. "

    tags: tools

  • "Closing Thunderdome is just part of a major north-of-$100-million cost cutting initiative that is putting the best glow on some tough financials. The reason for the sale: Despite CEO John Paton’s aggressive remaking of the company, Alden’s investments in cheap newspaper company shares (“The Demise of Lean Dean Singleton’s Departure and the Rise of Private Equity”) haven’t worked out the way private equity bets are supposed to."

    tags: thunderdome DFM newsonomics

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

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Talking about Innovation and Digital Skills in Journalism at the Society of Editors regional conference

I was asked to speak at the Society of Editors regional conference 2014 a while ago, and so on Monday I found myself talking to a room of people about coding, social media, and data journalism, among other things. 
It was a little distracting when the Duke of York loomed in the doorway towards the end of my talk - he was speaking about journalism and apprenticeships - but on the whole I got through without being boo-ed or having pastries thrown at me. 

There were enough discussion points from the day to make several blog posts (particularly around this panel discussion), and I intend to come back to those when I have more time, but in the meantime I thought I'd pop the draft of what I talked about (sans slides, which were purely illustrative) on the blog. 
Titled Innovation and Digital Skills in Journalism, the talk was an expanded version of what I covered in my 5 minute slot at News:Rewired last February. So if this is TL:DR you should have a look at this instead. 

Innovation and Digital Skills in Journalism 
When I was 18, the editor of the Tenby Observer suffered an unaccountable rush of blood to the head, and agreed I could to spend a year in his newsroom, working as a junior reporter.
He even paid me £30 a week and in return I supplied him with a headaches, calamities, the occasional story and, often, a weekly ‘correction’ roundup, amending whatever I’d written the previous week.
To celebrate my admission into the world of journalism, a friend presented me with a copy of the 1949 classic Journalism For Women, which imparts the following advice to an editor: “Maids respect a mistress who can do any of the tasks she expects of them”.
I’m going to use the term ‘journalist’ but most of what I say applies to everyone in a newsroom, including editors.
So, as I’ve been asked to talk about the emerging skills and opportunities in newsrooms, I think we should move forward with that phrase ringing in our ears.

Skill #1: Creative Journalism
Companies must invest time and money in training journalists for their digital roles, but I’d expect journalists to want to explore and master things themselves too.
There are few social storytelling tools out there that can’t be learned within a few minutes - from Awesome Screenshot to Zee maps - they aren’t complicated, and they make digital storytelling, sharing information and collaboration much easier and more effective.
In March, Trinity Mirror Regionals ran a two-day play and learn event for journalists at UCLan where a group of reporters, photographers, senior newsrooms executives, specialist reporters and newsdesk types got together to try new things.
Among the innovations that emerged were timelines, gifs, video soundbites for Explainer Journalism, interactive maps and, through the collaborative efforts of a deputy news editor and a mobile journalist from different titles, the Moyes Random Excuse Generator.

They used a site called Codepen and a spreadsheet to create a native design app for the MEN that summed up the spectacular popularity fail of the Man Utd manager.
Fun; shareable; drove traffic to other parts of the site including the home page.

Skill #2: Social Journalism  
Journalists should not only use social media but but absolutely familiar and comfortable with the nuances and tones of different sites and tools.
What works on Facebook doesn’t mean engagement on Twitter. When and why Instagram instead of Flickr? Live tweet, or live stream? It’s an essential skill for a reporter to have, and for their managers to understand too.
Shareable content is the holy grail; if you don’t know your audience - what tone to strike with them, and where, when or how they use social media so you can share your own and your title’s content with them well - you are missing an essential skill of modern journalism.
I’d expect any journalist applying for a newsroom job these days should have active Twitter and LinkedIn profiles listed on their CVs, plus links to their multimedia work and, preferably, their updated and engaging blog. These are the social journalism skills they need to do the job effectively and are as important as a decent cuttings portfolio - and for some roles, of considerably more interest.
We need bright, engaging, questioning communicators in our newsrooms, who can create networks of geographic and niche communities; it’s no longer enough to competently turn a ring-in from the newsdesk into a splash.  

Skill #3 Networked Journalism
This doesn’t mean you have a phone on you - it means your smartphone is an extension of your writing hand.
It needs to be packed with apps - such as Audioboo, Vine, Dropbox, Maps, Twitter, Snapseed - and your go-to tool for covering a story, whether it’s the scene of an accident, or a council press bench.
Journalists now can capture news more effectively on a phone that we ever could with a notebook and some overwrought adjectives; phones let us create multimedia, edit it and share it without going near a desk - we can crowdsource, create, package and market our work, and do it in real time, allowing more transparency and accessibility to what we do than ever.
At a time when regional journalists are still suffering a backlash as a result of some murky national practises, mobile and social journalism can help us a chance to re-establish an eroded trust, through open reporting, accessibility and transparency of information and purpose.
A mobile journalist is not someone with a mass of kit, it’s someone who sees a story and transmits it, in real time, via whatever device and medium best suits the purpose.
This is one of the most dramatic innovations in our trade of recent years, and the most exciting - the ability to self-publish reports, whether 140 characters or a live streamed video, means removing a filter and a time-lag between newsroom and audience.
Skill #4 Data journalism
I guess the old idea of ‘we’re journalists - we don’t do Maths’ was kicked into the long grass some time ago, and in Trinity Mirror the Data Unit, where journalists and coders work together to interrogate raw data and produce information, content packages and interactives of relevance and importance to all titles, is an absolute gift.
Certainly, when I was a daily title editor they kept my newsdesk supplied with a constant source of potential splashes and the daily Data Bulletin was a welcome email.
But data journalism isn’t the preserve of the expert - taking raw information, interrogating it and creating compelling, valuable content is now a pretty basic requirement. Using free tools like Datawrapr and Tableau lets us not only present a story in an interactive way but get to the heart of what the story really is.
Making data shareable adds another layer of engagement and an opportunity for further stories and content. Remember when the MPs expenses logs were made available? What newsroom didn’t gleefully fall on them?

Data journalism is more than spreadsheets though; today’s journalistic toolbox needs to contain basic coding skills too.

Coding isn’t a dark art and html isn’t someone else’s job - if you make a Twitter widget or to show conversation around an article, for example, or an embeddable map to show the location of a story, being able to hack the rudimentary backend code by adapting it for your site and purpose is important - and empowering.  Expecting someone else to sort out your multimedia or html equivalent of the newsdesk rewriting your intro - ie. not something any journalist wants to happen.

Skill #5 Measurable journalism
Know what works. Analytics have completely changed what we know; tools such as Chartbeat and Omniture tell us what our audience is reading, sharing, responding to - and sites such as Hitwise show us where they really are going to find their news.
Twitter analytics, Facebook Insights, the plethora of Twitter tools, retweets and favourites, indicate our social reach and engagement.
Analytics used to be the preserve of the marketing department - the digital journalist skillset should combine knowledge and application of analytics to get their stories in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Digital audience footprints are easy to follow and they let us build up a detailed picture of our audience, from when they are online, and with what device, to what they share or what they save to read when they have more time.
Knowing what your audience wants doesn’t mean we become Upworthy, or the preserve of listicles - it means we reach more people and make ourselves more relevant to their lives.
It means we make better products - what we create in digital can inform our print content and make it richer in tone, voice and authenticity.
It also means we make money; as more people come to our site, stay on it and share our content we understand more about them and our commercial colleagues can target them more effectively.
Liverpool Echo editor Ali Machray says his audience is now as large as it was during the glory print days of 1985. I think that’s something to be very proud of.

Innovation and creativity thrive in a digital newsroom where the priorities are audience, then content  and, finally, platform, not vice versa.
The new digital innovation team being built by Trinity Mirror is about using the skills and the mindset I’ve mentioned here, bringing a passion for journalism together with the expertise and interests of our audience and communities.
When I was a reporter I would file my copy and wait to see it in print. Sometimes I’d wait days, if it was a holdable splash.
Now reporters own a story; words, video, audio - whatever elements make it sing - publish it, market it and assess how it performed. You get instant feedback (not always a pleasant experience) from your readers and you see a story change and gain new legs as more diverse voices are added to the discussion.
It’s making us more relevant. While audience attention span may seem to be dwindling and the value of social sharing is questioned every time Facebook tweaks its algorithm, we know - thanks to some research on the subject - that the links that are most likely to be saved, shared and distributed, are actual news.
Not lolcats, not lists, but facts. This is the best time to be a journalist.
Thanks for your time.

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

  • Interestingness " Right now, many newsrooms are stupid about the way they publish. They’re tied to a legacy model, which means that some of the most impactful journalism will be published online on Saturday afternoon, to go into print on Sunday. You could not pick a time when your audience is less engaged. It will sit on the homepage, and then sit overnight, and then on Sunday a home page editor will decide it’s been there too long or decide to freshen the page, and move it lower. I feel strongly, and now there is a growing consensus, that we should make decisions like that based upon data. Who will the audience be for a particular piece of content? Who are they? What do they read? That will lead to a very different approach to being a publishing enterprise."

    tags: journalism tow data

  • Man, I *really* love this method of delivering a suspense story. I'm looking at how other media are using Snapchat and WhatsApp for audience engagement and it's interesting but not Quite There (in my view), but as a medium for fiction, the design of this is very clever.

    tags: whatsapp audience network storytelling

  • Interesting, and the conclusion is that the people within networks - however small - are more useful than the framework of that network. I can see the logic in the theory; however, I'm not sure I subscribe 100% to it. "Longform startup The Big Roundtable (BRT) recently commissioned three college students to put its assumptions about social sharing to the test. The challenge? Taking one story, one month and whatever techniques they could think of (legal, of course), the three undergraduates were tasked with the challenge of racking up the most unique page views."

    tags: social media network audience

  • No new Twitter hacks here, but 4 solid tips to get the best out of lists - I find the the 'subscribe & steal' one very useful

    tags: twitter lists

  • tags: metrics analytics chartbeat

  • The pros of using analytics as a journalist - I really agree with the points raised here.

    tags: metrics analytics

  • Surprisingly hard news is leading the way on Upworthy's poll - not sure if this is the equivalent of people saying they read the Guardian when the actually get all their news from the Daily Mail sidebar of shame but still interesting

    tags: upworthy news

  • Yes, Facebook reach is decreasing, no that's not the end of news organisations' effectiveness on the site. Interesting content gets shared; it's the blah stuff that we shouldn't bother posting that won't get reach. Maybe it's social media natural selection... "It’s worth noting the lack in organic reach shouldn’t mean marketers should cease creating non ad-funded Facebook content altogether. Some 25 million people in the UK visited Facebook every day in December 2013, the most recently available country-specific figures. Brands need to be where their audiences are and Facebook takes up a big chunk of their audiences’ lives.  As a case in point: earlier this week, EE suffered a network outage that meant many of its customers had no access to its services for a number of hours. EE’s posts about the outage were shared and commented on thousands and hundreds of times respectively, despite the fact it didn’t pay to promote them, because customers expected up-to-date information to be readily available on its Facebook page. And it’s worth mentioning that actual marketing content from brands does show up in the News Feed, but just like word of mouth in any other form, it is only the exceptional marketing that creates a buzz."

    tags: facebook organic reach likes marketing

  • The disrupted TV viewing model; interesting post and some excellent insights in the comments too.

    tags: disruption television

  • "Editor Stephen Stray said: “We really want to be at the heart of the community and our reporting team will now be out and about much more – getting to events and reporting on your stories.” “We are delighted to be holding regular ‘reporter surgeries’ at the Embassy and would like to thank them for allowing us space in there to meet readers.” However East Lindsey District councillor Steve O’Dare said the office’s closure would be “bad news for Skegness.” He said:  “It’s understandable but I think it’s going to be detrimental to Skegness. A lot of people like to pop into the office.”"

    tags: journalism future+of+news mobile+journalism

    • Another JP title to become officeless paper

         <!--BEGIN .entry-meta .entry-header-->       <!--BEGIN .entry-content .article--> 

      The Skegness Standard has become the latest Johnston Press title to embrace

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

Sunday, 30 March 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

  • There are a lot of resources in this directory, from basic to complex tools, many of which are rated and assessed by users. Very handy

    Hecta is an app for OS X which magnifies photographs without pixelation or blur.
    Photographers, designers, journalists — and you — can zoom in on the smallest detail with clarity and precision.

    The long explanation is this: "LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is a complicated term with a simple explanation. The main concept behind Latent Semantic Indexing is to discover words and phrases that are related in the context of any document or group of documents. Search engines, Internet Marketing Professionals, and Website Designers often use LSI in their day-to-day activities.
    Latent Semantic Indexing is the discovery process for finding related terms and phrases. LSI is a mathematical equation that will fold words into a matrix for analysis that will draw out semantically related terms."
    The short one is this: It's pretty good for finding out what words people are searching for in a specified geographic area, i.e. a useful journalism tool. 

    Latest in the handy podcast series from 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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Sunday, 16 March 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

  • "Most publishers give their staff massive desktop monitors to work on, using desktop software tools, and a CMS that works on a desktop. And then the majority of users view the output on a mobile. "
  • "These days, BuzzFeed is rapidly expanding with $46 million in funding. Vox Media has raked in some $80 million in venture capital. Business Insider’s $12 million boost last week makes its haul about $30 million. And feel-good social curation site Upworthy has raised about $12 million since launching two years ago. 1 “Suddenly, the market for content just opened up,” said Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily, which has secured about $4 million in venture capital since 2012. “It’s dramatically changed. I think a lot of it for me was Vice getting valued at $1 billion. No one had seen anything like that in the content space. And they’re trying to speak to a very specific audience that’s hard to reach in a deeply authentic way. It’s certainly not something you’re phoning in. It’s not a pre-written press release. It’s not a listicle.”"
  • Text streaming sounds very cool, doesn't it? Spritz looks more than the latest shiny, it looks like it really is going to be the next very big thing.
  • Live blogging is a skill. It involves getting the tone as well as content bang on - and sometimes, as with this reader's gripe - the line between fact and comment gets blurred. The trick is to know what kind of live blog you're doing - and be consistent. 
    From the Guardian Readers' Editor blog: "The latest example was on the website today. Matthew Weaver's "news blog" … included the statement: 'David Cameron continues to try to give the impression of being on top of the crisis...' Now, is that fact or opinion? If you are claiming it is fact, then I am not aware of any objective standard against which one can judge whether the PM is 'on top of the crisis' (whatever that means) or not … As a more general point, what is the status of these news blogs? My preference would be for them to stick to the facts." In an exchange of email correspondence the complainant also said: "I would much prefer a news blog to do what it says on the tin – to give me the news unadulterated by the 'views' of the reporter. I don't mind in the least if that results in a list of updates – isn't that what news is? Opinion isn't fact.""
  • There are some annoying 'sign up for more followers HERE' ads to ignore before you get to the content, but good insights when you do.
  • "If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again. MORE Here's An Updated Tally Of All The People Who Have Ever Died From A Marijuana Overdose Huffington Post These Disturbing Fast Food Truths Will Make You Reconsider Your Lunch Huffington Post Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Kiss Over Breakfast, Another Baby on the Way for Christian Bale & More People Fed by Joakim Noah's intensity, resilient Bulls take down Heat Sports Illustrated 'True Detective' finale: Talk about it Entertainment Weekly "
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
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Sunday, 9 March 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

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

Sunday, 2 March 2014

This week, I've been reading... (weekly)

  • Does exactly what it says on the tin.

    tags: news:rewired

  • An open Google Doc that considers how traditional reporters and developer reports (for Noah Veltman considers them very similar in their goals) can work together and communicate more effectively. I see huge opportunities for better cross-working with these two groups; sometimes it feels like developers occupy that previous Bad Guy space owned by IT. Better communication and empathy is the start. "the secret is not to treat developers like a service desk — what ProPublica’s Al Shaw calls “the deli counter,” where you just hand in your order. The developers are reporters, too, and you should treat them as such. Communication in particular is hard. Email is bad; tickets are slightly better but still aren’t synchronous. Using chat or direct communication is better. Having time to test things can be very contentious. There are other concerns for developers: Are you going to reuse this later? Is this an ongoing project? Will the data be updated? How is that going to work? How is this going to be maintained? What’s the game plan? What is the minimum viable product, and what can be delayed until later?"

    tags: developers coding hacking editorial

  • How different nationalities give management feedback. Very good, and also faintly horrifying... "Managers in different parts of the world are conditioned to give feedback in drastically different ways. The Chinese manager learns never to criticize a colleague openly or in front of others, while the Dutch manager learns always to be honest and to give the message straight. Americans are trained to wrap positive messages around negative ones, while the French are trained to criticize passionately and provide positive feedback sparingly."

    tags: management leadership

  • Really interesting read - how MazaCoin is now the national currency of the Lakota Nation. "After signing a joint venture agreement with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Office of Economic Development early in 2014, Harris immediately began mining his new currency to produce 25 million MazaCoins ahead of its launch to serve as a “national reserve” for the Lakota Nation, which can then be used in times of crisis (like the collapse of Mt. Gox) to help stabilize the currency. A number of these coins were handed out to interested businesses and individuals within the community, to encourage them to get involved in trading and speculating ."

    tags: bitcoin cryptocurrency disruption

  • A brilliant set of how-to tutorials around data, curated from NICAR14 by Chrys Wu. Shows more than ever how even a basic grasp of coding can make you a far more skilled and effective journalist.

    tags: nicar14 coding data how-to tutorials slides

  • "For a month now, I have been spying on my apartment. I have spied in the afternoon, and I have spied late at night. Since I can see most clearly into the living room, my voyeurism has been focused there. Often I see only an empty room that could use a little art on the walls. Sometimes I catch the cat sleeping on the rug. One night last week, I watched my girlfriend watch TV. "

    tags: technology future scary cool shit

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