One Man and His Blog: January 2009 Archives

January 2009 Archives

January 29, 2009

links for 2009-01-29

January 28, 2009

Mobile is a River of News

I have a pet theory, one that is not widely shared amongst my colleagues. I think that what we now know as news sites will come to resemble what we now know as blogs. I don't mean this in the broader sense of the conversational use of blogs so much as the "newest story at the top, reverse chronological" flow of news. That's what makes sense to me as a useful way of presenting news in the era of vertical scrolling and user-determined levels of importance.

On the whole, the people I work with treat this as a pile of old tosh, and cheerfully ignore me. But the new mobile version of, which I've been checking out today on my iPhone, brings my idea to mind:

Mobile FT 2Mobile FT 1

The design, to me, demonstrates the value of that blog-style design in the mobile environment. What do you want to know? The latest news. Not what a gatekeeper has deemed the most important, just the newest.It's incredibly easy to just scroll up and down the news with a flick of the thumb, or click through to anything interesting. It's simple, but very, very effective, because it understand that speed and timeliness are the key factors for news on the go.

And it's even got a nice icon for bookmarking it on the iPhone:

FT HomeScreen Icon

January 27, 2009

Runway Girl Starts Vlogging

This is rather cool. Mary Kirby who writes Runway Girl, one of Flight Global's blogs, has decided to turn her hand to vlogging, with a news round-up on video.

It's a nice first effort. If I were to add constructive criticism, I'd recommend a few more pictures as well as the talking head shots, but nearly 500 views already is not bad going.

Feel free to give Mary some feedback

January 26, 2009

Phil Clarke: The Robert Peston of Farming?

Phil Clarke's Business Blog
Another new RBI blog launch I've been working on in recent weeks: Phil Clarke's Business Blog. It's another blog from the growing stable of Farmers Weekly blogs, with their economics and world editor taking a serious look at the financial world underlying farming.

There's a little bit of Pestonesque influence at work here, I suspect, but the first post has garnered 10 comments already, so I'm not complaining. 

Signs of the Times

I had to wander down Sutton High Street today, to pay a visit to the bank. The St Nicholas Centre is certainly showing some signs of the times:

Closing down 1
Yet More Closing DownMore Closing Down

January 22, 2009

Guide Girl: Blogging Restaurant Guides

I'm going through one of those insanely busy periods at work, with multiple projects all happening at once. That's why posting has been a little thin on the ground since I returned from my holiday.

In lieu of a proper post, let me introduce one of the reasons for my silence:

Guide Girl
Guide Girl is a new blog from the Caterer team, focusing on the rarified world of upmarket restaurants and upmarket restaurant guides. The Caterersearch editor posted about the thinking behind it.

I made the mistake of describing it as for "foodies" on Twitter, and was swiftly corrected by noodlepie, a sometime food blogger himself. It is, of course, for rich foodies. Mind you, in the current economy, looking at the upscale end of the dining out market might prove very interesting indeed.

Quick Apology

Apologies to those of you subscribed to e-mail notifications of new entries here. You'll have been hit with a couple of dozen notifications of old entries over the last couple of days. I've found the solution to the issue, and it should be a problem no more.


January 20, 2009

President Obama has a blog

LONDON - JULY 26:  Presumptive U.S. Democratic...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I must confess that I'm having a bad dose of the "bah humbug"s today, as I grump and work at my desk while people all around me, virtually and physically, get very excited by the inauguration of President Obama. (It's Tony Blair's fault, I think - I was so very excited when he was elected and felt so very betrayed by him at the end.)

But one thing has emerged which I am excited about - the relaunched has a blog.

That's right. This is the first blogging presidency. It's open for debate about how significant this is for the presidency itself - but it's a pretty darn good endorsment of blogging.

Bloggers are all sad individuals blogging in their bedrooms? Well, if one of those bedrooms is in the White House, perhaps people have a little rethinking to do...

Update: Daniel Bennett has a nice take on the new blog over at the Frontline Club.
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January 15, 2009

Digital Doorstepping Done Right

CareSpace logoTwo years ago, there was some debate about the ethics of digital doorstepping - the practice of media diving into blogs or social networks looking for quotes and interviewees for their stories, particularity in the aftermath of a tragedy. This morning, in a meeting with some folks from Community Care, our title for social workers, I was interested in seeing an example of digital doorstepping done, as far as I can see, right.

A poster on the CareSpace forums started asking if any social workers in the Doncaster area though the recent stories about social work there were justified. Community Care asked anyone who wanted to share their experiences annonymously to do so, and they did just that.

And that caught the attention of the mainstream media, with ITN diving in, followed by the BBC.

The story appeared on the BBC website this morning (although, with no mention of Community Care or CareSpace. Tsk.)

Why is this digital doorstepping done right? Well, in this instance, the people involved were actually looking for publicity. They weren't the shocked victims of a crime seeing their quasi-private space violated. The BBC poster clearly signed up as themselves, giving their name as well as the company, humanising the approach a little. And they didn't just lift testimony, they solicited contact.

Slowly, we learn...

January 14, 2009

Twitter: Tipping Point for Journalists

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Something has happened in the last couple of weeks. Twitter has moved from something that is used by the social media cognoscenti amongst journalists, to something that is rapidly spreading amongst the more web aware hack. A slew of my colleagues are now using Twitter actively, and several who have had moribund or RSS-only accounts are now actively using it as a conversation tool.

What's changed? 

I think two things happened. The first was the rapid succession of news coming from people twittering plane crashes and mumbai terror attacks. That gave the service all too often derided as being about "what I had for my breakfast" a certain credibility as a reporting tool, one that could be faster than TV or the conventional web page.. 

And, much as I hate to admit it, I think the very visible presence of celebs like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross on Twitter has something to do with it. That creates an impression, perhaps only subconsciously, that this is a real tool, not just a play thing of the engagement evangalists like me. 

Anyway, whatever the cause, I'm delighted to see growing numbers of journalists starting to use Twitter to engage with each other and (hopefully) their readers. The next couple of months could be very interesting indeed. 
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10 Essential Things For Journalism This Year

John Thompson over on has posted 10 things every journalist should know in 2009.

And he's right on every one of them.

How to Write Great Web Headlines

A couple of subbing-inclined colleagues of mine here at RBI have been running a great blog for the language love called The Engine Room for a while now, even though one of them has finally escaped the fabled brown towers of Sutton.

Now, I have even more evidence that they're allowed out of the engine room, with a couple of guest posts JD has written for Words at Work:

Good advice in there, along with a nicely Austen-esque web headline. :)

January 13, 2009

Links: The Community Conversation

Comment MangementSo, back in the office. First proper day back at work, and despite a few of last year's niggle raising their heads again, I'm still pretty positive about the year ahead - and looking forward to some new challenges that are on the horizon. More on that when I can talk about them.

In the meantime, here's a few links I've been saving up about managing communities:

  • Reader, I Banned Him - Alison Gow talks through her rationale for banning people from forums.
  • Commenting survey results - Ryan Sholin has been doing some research into commenter behaviour to check his gut instincts - and has found them wrong. Blog posts are where commenters are most civil, news stories where they're the least. My guess is that it's because it's much harder to heckle a conversation than a lecture...
  • Why Commenting on News Sites Still Stinks - a follow-up to the last post, which gives a great series of steps to start getting other journalists really engaged with the conversation. 
  • Visualising the Social Network - I think this diagram sums up pretty well how you can usefully visualise the interlocking mesh of different communities that make up many people's online social interactions. 
  • To The Press Tribe: Your Content is a Product - a long, weighty and thought-provoking piece that looks at how easily businesses can miss the community element of the new social tools  (despite the clue being in the name), and bury them in existing processes. I am honor-bound to link this, as I'm quoted. :)

January 11, 2009

links for 2009-01-11

January 10, 2009

My Morning Workspace

For those of you who think that life as a digital journalism evangelist is all tech and no paper, here's my morning workspace from earlier today:

Morning Workspace

January 9, 2009

Afternoon Coffee Reading

Coffee logo
Seeing as I don't need to contribute to much in this session, here's a few links from my reader:

What's the Collective Noun for Travel Hacks?

This pic of Mssrs Couzins and May is to illustrate the fact that I'm taking a day's holiday from my holiday to attend some internal meetings in Sutton.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow...

January 8, 2009

Morning Coffee Reading: Tools of the Trade

Coffee & Headphones
And here's your link-dump from my reader from Wednesday's reading:

And now, I go off to go swimming in the snow. Which is actually more fun than social media, but only just... :)

January 7, 2009

A Cold and Frosty...

Icy Waterfall
My first proper holiday in 14 months...

...and I manage to go away when it's so cold that even waterfalls are starting to freeze up.

I'm loving it. 

Morning Coffee Reading - Speed Version

A row of coffee
Here's some quick links for today, with minimal commentary - because I'm meant to be on holiday. :-)

January 6, 2009

Farmers Weekly LoLCats

I just discovered that Tim Relf of Farmers Weekly, officially RBI's second best blogger, has finally got around to publishing a rather lovely cat photo he sent me a few months back.

Cow sucks cat

As soon as I got the photo, I couldn't resist giving it a bit of a LoLCat flavour:
Continue reading Farmers Weekly LoLCats.

Tuesday Afternoon Doom & Despair

Rolling thunderstorm (Cumulonimbus arcus)

Image via Wikipedia

Ah, the storm clouds are gathering. He's some interesting posts about the coming print apocalypse I've been gathering over the last few weeks, just to add a little extra piquancy to Tuesday afternoon:

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Morning Coffee Reading - 6/1/09

Morning EspressoThings noted in my RSS reading in the last few days:

January 5, 2009

Morning Coffee Reading - Things You May Have Missed

Coffee in a white mugGood morning, good morning. I imagine that many people are back at their desks this fine Monday morning, and so, from my holiday, I provide you with some crucial reading about journalism to while away the first coffee of the new working year:

  • To Prepare for the Future, Skip the Present - Edward Roussel of the Telegraph Media Group argues that the battle to preserve print is a lost one, and provides a really useful roadmap to creating new, vibrant and profitable online sites from the ashes of the paper product.
  • Blog Last - Just starting blogging without experiencing online conversations in the broadest sense is probably not the right way to go. 
  • Scotland's Top Papers Heading for Extinction - not to get alarmist or anything...
  • The First Step in Bringing Change: Find The Believers - I think that one lesson I've taken from the last couple of years is that working one-on-one with enthusiasts is far more productive in bringing change to newsrooms that group classes. The big question for 2009 is how to speed that process. Bonus further reading: Spread Social Media Literacy (and Save The World)
  • Magazines, Eating Their Young: US magazines are making a terrible mistake: "Maybe when you're a weekly/monthly your culture just doesn't understand the concept of urgency. Or maybe they're intoxicated by those damn smelly perfume ads. But magazines need to be doing more, not less, on the Web if they want to have a long-term future. Clinging to print is a close-minded, losing strategy. "

January 4, 2009

Change Journalism? Yes, We Can!

Shane Richmond twittered a link that acts as a nice counter to my rather depressing end-of-working-year post from a couple of weeks back. TechDirt explains how its writers stay positive in the face of curmudgeons and technophobes:

The internet is a phenomenal communications tool that very few people had even heard of not so long ago. The world wide web only came into being slightly more than fifteen years ago. The ability to go online and find just about anything you need in seconds is a brand new phenomenon. The fact that you can talk to people, easily, in far away places -- make new connections, share stories, exchange ideas, debate, argue and connect, well beyond your local community -- is all simply amazing. Beyond online communications, the internet has provided new and amazing tools for business, commerce, entertainment and information that were nearly impossible to imagine by all but the most visionary people just a few decades ago. 

How can you not be optimistic and excited when you look back at how far we've come in such a short time, and think about how much further we can go?

I have, I must admit, a tendency to ignore how much we've achieved at RBI, because it's my job to look at where we need to go. And the future for journalism should be exciting, even if the process of change is hard. And a recent post by Kristine reminded me of why changing things for journalists can be so challenging: most of them are still tied to the weekly/monthly grind of getting the paper product on that stands. If we want change, we have to make room for it. And that may be one of the big challenges of 2009.

Mind you, falling ad revenues may help us, as editorial page counts drop and journalists have more time on their hands. If we can just make that spare time into development time before it becomes layoff time...

January 2, 2009

2008 In Review: Traffic and Top 10 Posts

On the whole, it's been a pretty good year for One Man & His Blog, despite the trying personal circumstances I've been through. My RSS subscribers have comfortably doubled over the course of the year (although I have had to watch my World of Warcraft blog match and then exceed OM&HB's subscriber count...), and page views have more than doubled, which is all good.

Usually, my highest traffic month is December, with the Le Web posts grabbing loads of traffic, but in 2008, September actually gave me the most traffic, thanks to a combination of Lehman Brothers going down, a kid pretending to be Gordon Ramsay and my final disillusionment with 3's mobile broadband (more about all three below). The ethics of travel journalism also played their part, garnering me the most comments on any one post.  

The top 10 posts this year:

  1. Mobile Broadband: Testing 3's 3G Dongle - earlier in the year, 3 gave me a 3G mobile dangle to test with my laptop. The results were mixed, to say the best, but somehow that post got some serious Google juice and has had three times as much traffic as any other post on my blog this year. 
  2. RBI to be divested by Reed Elsevier - the post where I acknowledged the sale-that-never-was, and linked to reactions by colleagues. At least one of those reactions was later pulled.
  3. Why Media Gets Community Wrong - a popular, and much linked-to post about the mainstream media's attitude to community. I still like this post, but it's a shame I keep having to reiterate the point that community isn't a place on your site, it's an approach to publishing.
  4. Lehman Brothers Collapses - my brother's employer went down, and an SEO-friendly headline brought me a shedload of traffic as a result. I was on the front page of Google for "Lehman Brothers Collapses" for a good while. An object lesson that quick posting, intelligent headlining and great links can bring good traffic. My brother's fine, by the way. He has another job. 
  5. Young Gordon Ramsay - without doubt, RBI's most successful viral. A foul-mouthed young chef takes his mother to task. This generated a little controversy within the company, but it drew the traffic. 
  6. After Max Gogarty: Rethinking Mainstream Media Blogging - Guardian employs cocky young thing, who fails to understand blogging. He gets commented off the site, and I try to create something useful from it...
  7. 3 Mobile Broadband: Rural Failure - again the Google brings me people interested in how disappointed I was with my 3 Mobile dongle.
  8. Hard News Journalism - a video of a drunken journalist, claiming to be plagiarising. What's not to love?
  9. 4 Things Journalists Can Learn from the Lacy/Zuckerberg Interview - Sarah Lacy does a poor interview of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. I try to be constructive. My picture of her on stage at 2007's Le Web still got more traffic...
  10. When Mainstream Media Blogging Goes Bad - More Max Gogarty. The one hit wonder that keeps on giving...
So, what can I learn from these traffic figures?

  • Speed matters. Getting good content up quickly in response to current events draws traffic.
  • Follow up. Sometimes your second post on a topic gets more traffic than the first.
  • Be constructive. Give good links, or good learning points, and your post has legs. 
  • Be really, really negative about products you're sent to review. ;-)

Press Trip, Port & The Past

Happy New Year, all, and what better way to celebrate it that to take a look at something that happened 13 years ago?

Back then, I was working as a staff writer (OK, the staff writer) on a now-deceased title called Hotel & Restaurant. And, because the editor's wife had recently given birth, I got to go on a press trip to Portugal instead of him. The trip was arranged by Fiona Beckett, who was a PR back then, and was to Quinta do Noval, a port quinta high in the Duro Valley run by an Englishman, Christian Seely. 

Quinta do Noval
I got round to scanning the best of the shots I took there earlier this week, and I couldn't help but think how wonderful that trip would be today. With the ability to blog the trip, from the riverside offices in Porto, to the grape harvesting up in the Duro, it would have made a fascinating three or four days of blogging. Instead, it lead to a single page in the magazine and three dozen slides which have sat unviewed until this week. 

Enjoy this little glimpse of press trips past:

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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