One Man and His Blog: July 2009 Archives

July 2009 Archives

July 31, 2009

Some Good Reading About The Future of News

Good stuff I've read recently, haven't linked to yet, but don't have much to add to right now:

And with that, I hand you over to August and the silly season that comes with it.

We Never Sold Journalism

I have a confession: the news paywall debate irritates me. It irritates me, because this discussion was had years ago, and discussed with a great deal of depth and intelligence across the emergent publishing and journalism blogosphere. And then it was promptly ignored by the majority of the publishing industry because they didn't think that print was in any danger.


And now everyone is piling back into the discussion as panic begins to set in throughout organisations that never looked for revenue models beyond the "sales and ads" combo. And I was reminded of this by a throwaway comment in a blog post about a totally unrelated discussion (the old Apple versus PC discussion):

Google isn't a tech company, it just gives the appearance of being one (as I've said many times before, it's really in the business of ad sales, like any publisher - it doesn't sell technology).
This, my friends, is the elephant in the room: we never sold journalism. Sure, we charged people for a package that included journalism. But, with some honourable exceptions, what we actually did was charge people for an advertising delivery vehicle. Often, in fact, we gave away the delivery vehicle. We call it controlled circulation in the B2B publishing world.

And then, somebody built a better mousetrap. Google isn't a threat to the publishing industry because it "steals" its content for Google News. It's a threat because it destroyed our advertising models.

And that's the issue I see too many people skating around in the call for a shift back to paywalls. We have never charged truly charged what news cost to produce, and there's no way we can suddenly ask people to start doing so, just because our advertising model went bust.

This is not a Rant

I have one of those long, ranty blog posts building in me right now.

This isn't it.

But if you want to know what it might be about, there are two things you should know:

  1. With the news that NetNewsWire, my RSS reader of choice, is now syncing with Google Reader, I took the opportunity to clear most traditional print media RSS feeds out from my subscriptions.
  2. I read this blog post, nodding so vigourously that I nearly spilt my coffee. And for those of you who know how I feel about coffee will realise how serious that is. To quote Kevin:
Most of what obsesses the media is remarkably juvenile, and as the media's fortunes have waned, they have becoming annoyingly shrill in trying to reassert their role in society. Watchdogs? Defenders of democracy? I wish. Mostly of the media operate as little more than professional gossips and hypocritical scolds.

July 30, 2009

Heading to be2camp Brum

Those of you who remember my days as a property journalist (and indeed, when this blog was substantially about the built environment) might be interested to know that I'm off to Be2camp Brum the week after next.

Be2camp is a series of unconference-style events focusing on the use of social web technologies in the built environment. And given that those are two of my passions, I'm looking forward to it hugely.

Blog Upgrade: Movable Type 4.3

I've just upgraded the software behind this site to the newly-released Movable Type 4.3. (Living on the edge, I know.)

As ever, if you encounter any problems, let me know.

July 29, 2009

The Problem with an iTunes for News

There's an interesting paragraph in Cory Doctorow's review of Chris Anderson's new book Free in The Guardian, that has some relevance for those proposing an iTunes-style model for news:

Likewise, iTunes sells a lot of music that you can get for free on the internet, so they're not really selling the music, they're selling the service of getting the music without having to muck about with P2P software and unsure quality.
It's not the whole story, as there's a "reward the artist" element in play, too, but it is an insightful comment.

The problem the news business has is that high-quality free news is significantly easier to find than free music, and is legal, too. Making it harder to find wouldn't just require all the existing newspapers to push their content behind a paywall, but all the related bloggers and other community publishers, too. If that doesn't happen, there just isn't a compelling gap in the market for a paid approach to making news easier to find.

Update: There's an interview with Anderson about his views on the future of news on Salon.

Thanks to My Guest Posters

I owe a big "thank you" to the guest posters who filled in for me last week, while I was rambling around the Cornish coast. My three vigorous volunteers were:

Thanks, guys!

(I did intend to have 5 guest posters, but a combination of paternity and password problems stopped two of them posting.)

July 28, 2009

One MadMan and His Blog

Thanks to the MadMen Yourself site, this is what I might have looked like teaching on one of RBI's training courses back in the 1960s...
  MadMen Adam
[Blame: Alison Battisby, via Twitter]

Video: Guns, Garments and the Game Fair

I went to the CLA Game Fair some years ago as a guest of a property firm and really, really enjoyed myself. I've never managed to get back there, but this video from the Farmers Weekly team makes me want to:

[via Tim]

Back in Business

Evening Tide
Alas, the sun has set on my Cornish holiday, and I'm back in London and back at work. I'm busy playing e-mail catch-up, as normal, but should be back to regular posting shortly. 

July 22, 2009

From Lego dioramas to baby killers - my social network


Legal news reporter, Estates Gazette three years, blogging since May, Twittering since June.

How social media is changing the way I work?

Work output for magazine has decreased as social media consumption has risen - perhaps change when honeymoon period ends.

At opposite ends of the spectrum of human experience, two of the most memorable moments were entering the world of lego dioramas and reading the tweet from @RSylvester that a nasty piece of work in Wichita had been found guilty of murdering his 18-month old daughter.

Remember, the media is not the message.

Continue reading From Lego dioramas to baby killers - my social network.

July 21, 2009

Social Me and Social Nets at Work

Who I Am

I am a Search Marketing Executive at one of RBI's newest acquisitions, Approved Index. Unsurprisingly for an online lead generation business, PPC and SEO are our main marketing channels, and the internet and marketing sectors make up the majority of our business. As such it is important for us to keep abreast of the fast-moving online world and the challenges and opportunities it offers. I'm currently researching how (but firstly, if) we can use social networks as a marketing channel.

In this guest post I'm going to give you an overview of how I use the internet and social networking in my day to day life and at work. If you don't think social networking can be useful or worth the time, I expect you'd have stopped reading by now, had you even started. My experience is that the internet offers an array useful tools, and social networking is currently - perhaps permanently - at the centre of the majority of them.

I'm probably just about young enough to be considered a digital native, having used computers since the first years of primary school. I have qualifications in computer science so I accept that I'm probably more interested in technology and more inclined to try new tools and systems than most. I also have some editorial experience, and although working at Approved Index means I'm not strictly part of the publishing side of the business, I hope I'll provide some insight for those of you that are.

What I Use

Twitter is probably the social networking tool I use the most. It has been highly publicised of late, and seems to be just about as celebrated as it is maligned. Twitter has rapidly become very useful to me for a variety of reasons. I follow personal friends for social chatter and sharing links and photos. I follow a few entertainers (yes, I follow Stephen Fry). I also use Twitter instead of RSS feeds, because the 'micro-blogging' encompasses a lot of functionality in an incredibly convenient format. Furthermore, following a person on Twitter rather than a website or blog via RSS allows for discussion through the same medium, and choosing like-minded individuals to follow means I save a lot of time filtering through the noise of online information overload.
Continue reading Social Me and Social Nets at Work.

July 20, 2009

Off the job training for online journalists

Rebecca FroleyHi! I'm Rebecca Froley, deputy web editor of, and the first of Adam's guest posters this week... Finally... Sorry for posting so late in the day!

How do you learn? It's a question I've been asking myself since last week's lunchtime 'BrainFood' discussion session here at RBI, which touched on the question of how we should be reskilling ourselves, and skilling up new trainees, to meet the needs of our B2B publishing business for the (probably mostly online) future. Especially given cuts to budgets are limiting the amount of traditional training that's available, so 'research, deliver and attend new courses' probably isn't a practical answer...

The BrainFood format, certainly, is one option - for those outside the company, this is a monthly in-house seminar-style group where we get together for an hour to look at a video or some other stimulus to get us thinking and talking about the future of publishing and communications, in a more wide-ranging - and democratic - manner than a traditional corporate training session. For me, this is exactly how I like to learn - through sharing a starting point with others that provides the opportunity for everyone to springboard off into some creative thinking and exploration of their own - and with a bit of a lateral approach.

The video in question this last week was Jeff Jarvis' introduction to journalist training at CUNY (part 1 and part 2 are both on YouTube), and it's worth a watch if you've not seen it already, as it includes a useful list of the kinds of skills (round about 6:42 of part 2 or pictured here), and levels of skill (about 6:20), that Jarvis thinks today's journalists need to acquire.

Sadly, I'm a little too far away to attend CUNY myself to find out exactly how they deliver that essential training (although I'm sure there'll be plenty more of use on their YouTube channel once I get chance to trawl through it). But maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe, I'm thinking, we can create our own reading / viewing / exploring list that covers all these basics, right here, right now...

To kick it off, here's my list of stuff that's helped me think about information architecture and the way the web works as a medium, or 'web structure - familiarity' and 'web pages - spec' as Jarvis puts it, during my 10+ years in onscreen/online publishing. Given I prefer the lateral approach, the first couple of suggestions, are, I hope, a little bit offbeat and off-the-job, but might still inspire you as they have me. And with any luck, some of you will share your own suggestions for these and other online journalism essential skills too!

Continue reading Off the job training for online journalists.

July 19, 2009

Warning: Guest Posting Ahead

Action Adam
It's that time of the year.

Yes, I'm taking a week off from work, and off from this blog, too. It's time for me to put down the laptop, pull on my walking boots and recharge my batteries in the countryside.

And, just as I did back in April, I've lined up a series of guest posters to keep you entertained until I get back.

I hope you find what the guest posters have to say provoking, and I'll see you back here in a week.

(Although, you might find some blog action from me over here...)

July 18, 2009

News Matters

News Matters
Cover of a Media Standards Trust brochure

July 16, 2009

Why Lionel Barber & Paid News are a Distraction

Oh, dearie me. I have a feeling that the issue of paywalls and charging for content is going to dominate the online journalism discussion for the rest of the summer, isn't it? The Guardian has run a piece on Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, which focuses heavily on his views on paid online content. It has several things in it which I agree with:
News organisations with specialist skills and knowledge have the opportunity to thrive. The mediocre middle is much more at risk.
Couldn't agree more. The internet is ruthless with mediocrity, far more so than print.
However, there's stuff I really disagree with:

Barber said building online platforms that could charge readers on an article-by-article or subscription basis was one of the key challenges facing news organisations.
Oh, dearie me. I couldn't agree less. I was just gearing myself up to write a riposte to this argument, when I discovered (by means of RSS-reading prevarication) that Shane Richmond has already done it for me, and nailed what I think is the solution in his last paragraph:
However, we have known for years that readers will pay for niche services, such as Fantasy Football or crosswords. So what services, what products, what scarce goods can we provide to our regulars, our loyal readers, our community? I'm certain that the answer to our problems lies in the answer to that question.
And all this business of article-by-article charging, or shoving traditional news content behind a paywall is just a distraction from getting on with that.

#newsinnovation : The Audio Edition

Laura Oliver has done some nice audio interviews from last week's News Innovation London event.

Web Site Story

I was going to use this in the communities training I was doing today, but never got the chance. I can't resist sharing it:

21st Century Work Experience for Aspiring Journos

IMG00167-thumb-180x135-41258.jpgI hope you'll excuse me another link to the Estates Gazette Focus team's blog (I used to be part of that team, and I have a huge soft spot for them), but I'm just loving that they've been allowing their work experience teenager to blog for them. Hannah is studying for her GSCEs and likes the idea of being a journalist. Her posts so far are below:

July 15, 2009

Blogging Back-Handers

An e-mail arrives from one of my stable of bloggers:

Hi Adam,

You will be pleased to hear that I am receiving my first back-hander for blogging. As I posted a link to a review about a new book called "[Redacted]", which grew out of a blog about the fictional life of a [redacted], the author has promised me my very own copy if I promise to do my own review for the blog.

I am v pleased.

I could be being terribly naive here, but isn't that called a "review copy" and standard practice? My colleague is going to have to work harder than that before I consider them corrupt. :)

(And yes, Tim, I am aware that I owe you a review of that camping guidebook)

July 11, 2009

links for 2009-07-11

July 10, 2009

#newsinnovation : New News Business Models

Kevin Charman-AndersonKevin Anderson, who has a new job title at The Guardian, which I missed, is talking about startups trailing new journalism funding models:

  • Circulate: they do semantic analysis on your content. Users sign up, and the system gives you new content based on your implicit and explicit interests. 
  • Journalism Online: High-powered startup. They're doing an arm-twisting job with content providers. Kevin doesn't see what their proposition is for users. 
  • ViewPass: Gated content - create a network of content providers
  • Kachingle: Gift economy way of funding content: based on attention. 
  • Niche advertising networks.
Zombie debate about paywalls is back. NYT looks like they're considering $5 for the content.

One problem with all these monetisation models is that they're all focused on the publishers' needs, not the readers' needs. 
Continue reading #newsinnovation : New News Business Models.

Dean Street Fire: Most Recorded Fire Yet?

Some footage from YouTube of the fire in Dean Street that's burning right now. Ignore the fire and watch the people:

See how many people are filming and photographing it?

That's the sea change.

Londonist has done some great aggregated coverage of it.

#newsinnovation : The Problems of User Content

Sue Greenwood is leading a workshop around user generated content:

Sue Greenwood

Sweeblenews - Intended to be a global news site, between citizen journalists and micropayments to international journalists. Sue overestimated people's willingness to do work. They rather Twitter or be interviewed by a journalist. Interesting bits and coding, but "a rubbish site". 

Sweeble - Launched in April. Going the other way - trying to get people printing. The local organisation organisers who don't blog or post online. Templated system - and you get a newsletter or brochure out the other end, Again, people are inherently lazy. They don't want to spend hours doing the content, and want a pro to do it for them. 

Her next step is thinking about getting local people to tag local information, so you could aggregate it in a useful way. Is my plumber a member of the BNP? What comments have local folks been leaving on blogs?

Continue reading #newsinnovation : The Problems of User Content.

#newsinnovation : The Tyranny of Chronology

Martin Belam, talking about news beyond chronology

Martin Belam

From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to liveblogging, there's a tyranny of chronology. Events happen over time with consequences. 

You children, if set homework to study climate change, they'll go to Google and end up on Wikipedia, not any of our news sites. Why does Wikipedia do better? It's not tied to the tyranny of chronology.

Yet, we do put packages together around great stuff. 

Our atom is the story. A national newspaper will have loads of articles about foreign policy, and Cuba and Obama. And you have loads of travelogues, 

"obama foreign policy cuba Venezuela" - produces a search page of articles.

We can do better - break stories down to paragraphs and sentences and then tag them as what they are.

Continue reading #newsinnovation : The Tyranny of Chronology.

#newsinnovation : What Next After the MPs?

The "After MPs" Session

It took years and a leak to get the expenses data for the MPs.

"Who Runs This Place?" - good analysis of the powerful in the 21st century.

Balance of the most powerful shifts, and people move between power groups (lawyers, bankers, governments). We can use data to report on and hold powerful people accountable, as the expenses showed.

What data is out there about these people, and how can we link it all up?


freerisk - share information and algorithms for credit risk. Crowdsource credit risk. 

Continue reading #newsinnovation : What Next After the MPs?.

Liveblogging: News Innovation London

News Innovation LondonWhen one or more journalists gather together, they shall talk redundancies...

I'm at the News Innovation London event all afternoon, and I'll be blogging the most interesting bits here and in later posts as we go, as long as power and WiFi hold out. :)

A whole bunch of the usual suspects are here, including two from The Guardian who have pointed a Flip Video camera at me already...

July 9, 2009

Go On, Pimp Yourself

Regular readers will know that I like to share my most inexplicable flipchart offerings on this blog.

Well, today, I'd like to offer you something different. When I walked into one of the training rooms this afternoon, this is what greeted me:

Pimp Yourself
I'm sure Caroline and Dave knew exactly what they were talking about.

Or, at least, I hope so...

July 8, 2009

The Meaningless Mainstream Media

Andy Ihnatko on why the term "Mainstream Media" is meaningless:

You waste your shot by blaming it on The Mainstream Media instead. When I get to the end of your heroic screed I'm tempted to click the "Comment On This Post" button and ask you to explain what role, precisely, the Kansas City Star played in this hypocrisy and how they benefitted.
"Oh, all those Mainstream Media organizations behave the same way," you counter. Ah. Is that why you won't rent an apartment to one?
Again I say: it's a meaningless term. Look at the state of publishing today. Does this look like an industry that's good at working together on any kind of a common agenda?

Well worth a read, whatever side of the discussion you perceive yourself as supporting.

Archiving the Product of the Real Time Web

Mr Scoble gives us an insight into the future relationship between the real time web and blogging:

One thing is that knowledge is suffering over there. See, here, it is easy to find old blogs. Just go to Google and search. What would you like me to find? Chinese Earthquake? Google has it.
Now, quick, find the first 20 tweets or FriendFeed items about the Chinese Earthquake. It's impossible. I'm an advanced searcher and I can't find them, even using the cool Twitter Search engine.

That plays very much to the idea we're playing with about the cycle of news (or, more often these days, the "news tree"), which in its most simplified form looks something like:

Twitter -> Blogs/Social Media -> Traditional Online News -> Print News

That's essentially the shift from the "now" to the "archival" with a number of steps along the way.

July 4, 2009

Video Gets Faster, Thanks To iPhone

This is significant:

In the last six months, we've seen uploads from mobile phones to YouTube jump 1700%; just since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS came out, uploads increased by 400% a day. 

If you're still thinking in terms of a 12-hour turn around for online news video, you're dead in the water. 

In Video: Boris Goes Shopping

Oh, OK. Misleading headline. More actually, London's mayor went to Westfield's new Stratford shopping centre to celebrate the topping out of the John Lewis store there. And an EG journalist was there with a Flip Video camera in hand to record Boris Johnson giving a speech at Stratford:

Another way journalists can get more value out of these junkets without much additional effort or cost. Carry the audience with you into the event.

July 1, 2009

RBI PPA Winnahs!

Two RBI titles picked up awards at the PPA (Periodical Publisher's Association) awards last night.

The XpertHR team bagged the business media brand of the year award and the FWi team grabbed business website of the year.

It's nice to have such talented colleagues. :)

Scenes from Tweetcamp

As mentioned previously, I was at Tweetcamp last Saturday and, for once, I've actually got all my photos up on Flickr before I've had the chance to write up my thoughts on the event.

Here's a Flickr slideshow of them:


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About this Archive

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

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