Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Archive for

Another slightly elderly link (I’ve been playing catch-up after a hectic week back at the mag):

St Andrews union bans student newspaper | Samizdata.net:

The Saint, the award-winning tabloid student newspaper at the University of St Andrews, has been banned by the student union. Though this will not stop the paper circulating among students, The Saint will no longer be on sale in the union shop and, more seriously, the paper is being thrown out of its editorial office on the top floor of the union building. The argument used for the ban is that the paper does not respect the dignity of all students.

Once more the difficult relationship between student newspapers and student unions rears its ugly head. Student rags are curious beasts: many of them are funded by the student union, but are theoretically independent of them. Worse, they have to report on the very body that funds them. As student politicians have a tendency to believe themselves to be right with a fervor that only prime ministers in their third term in office can normally match, conflict is often inevitable. It was in this arena that I encountered my first blatant attempt at censorship.

I started my journalistic career on student mags, initially on Imperial College, London’s Felix and later on Queen Mary College‘s Cub after I switched both college and degree. It was only once I’d finished my two years as magazine editor and embarked on a year as a sabbatical welfare officer that this union/magazine conflict came to a head.

The final issue of the year carried a couple of news stories critical of the union sabbaticals. My fellow sabbaticals got wind of this, and intercepted the magazine at the printer. They stripped out the two negative stories and then replaced them with two puff pieces for union activities. Of course, the writing style, typeface and design ethos didn’t match with the rest of the news spread, but they seemed content with their work, and left the issue rolling off the presses.

The printers, bless their hearts, phoned me and warned me that this had happened. I got hold of the Cub editor of the time, Ruth Addicott (who has worked for Press Gazette and The Argus) and her deputy Paul Clements (who has gone on to edit the Pink Paper and work on High Life), rushed to the printers and collected the printed copies of the magazine. We took them back to my flat, printed out an A5 sheet with the missing stories and an explanation of what had happened, and hand collated copies into the magazines late into the evening. We then distributed the magazines as normal and sat back to watch the union president and vice-president seething as news of their duplicity spread like wildfire across the campus.

The incident was one of those moments when the idea of journalism really gelled in my mind. People will go to great lengths to silence criticism of themselves. This was a clumsy amateurish attempt by two students. How much more sophisticated are attempts by people who have held power for years? If you wander why so much journalism tends towards the cynical, well, this is one good reason why.

But it’s bloody good fun thwarting such people, I can tell you.

I found this a little late. Those canny people over at the Big Blog Company are running some seminars about blogging for journalists.

the Big Blog Company | Blogging boot camps for journalists:

It seemed a good idea to us to gather a few journalists who may want to learn about blogs and show them how they work and why perhaps they should care. As things move fast in the blogosphere, we would like to do a few practical hour-long blogging sessions before Christmas, starting Friday 17th, then Monday 20th December and Tuesday 21st December.

The lack of awareness of blogging in my profession continues to amaze me. Of the 30 or so journalists employed by EG, I’m the only one with a blog that I’m aware of, and only a handful of my colleagues seem to be even aware of their existence. This is from a magazine that was one of the first to have a comprehensive, profitable online service.

At the very least, understanding a new publishing outlet would seem like a good idea for all journalists. That’s certainly one of the reasons I started blogging.

Ecto has been my blogging software of choice for a little while now. While it lacks the superb user interface of, say, Xjournal, it’s certainly my favored way of getting copy onto this blog. Part of that is its excellent picture handling options. As a blogger that like photos, that’s a great boon.

However, I can also empathize with some of the complaints about it.

MacMove.com:

The new Mac version of this once excellent blog posting program is much more complicated now and much more time consuming to use. By offering too many formatting options it adds several steps to what used to be a blazingly fast and simple tool.

I think that misses the point a little. It’s not adding new features per se that causes the problem – it’s that the UI of the applications needs a serious revamp to make it all seem much more intuitive. Let’s hope that it’s on the way.