One Man and His Blog: November 2009 Archives

November 2009 Archives

November 30, 2009

What Publishers Need To Understand

One of the commenters on the Tim Luckhurst piece I posted about earlier hits the nail on the head:

The model you have of your consumer's behaviour is wrong, they aren't using the internet as a way of reading a newspaper, they are using the internet, some of which consists of newspaper content, its a different thing. It was bad enough having to explain this in 1999, I find it a bit surprising it still needs saying in 2009.
And too much of the current discourse around content business models misses that fundamental concept.

The Content Paywall Ostriches

Sometime the online discussion about content paywalls makes me despair of my profession. There seems to be a strong element of the journalistic community that just want to stick traditional journalistic content behind a paywall, and suddenly journalism's problems will go away.

This is madness.

I'm not suggesting that paywalls don't have a place in publishing businesses. After all, I work for a publisher that makes more than half its revenue online - and some of that is generated by paywalls. But the path to that point has taught us many things about making money online, and one of those is that just shoving traditional content online is not the way to go - especially if you're going to stick a paywall around it. Indeed, I find it amusing that I spend half my week helping build free-to-air content around a very successful paywalled site, just as others are getting rid of free content.

However, too many of the pro-paywall arguments have, to me, the ostrich-like quality of sticking your head into the sand of traditional media, whilst ignoring the developments that have happened elsewhere on the web for the last decade. Believing that paywalls will save the day requires an interesting combination of hubris and myopia such as that on display in Tim Luckhurst's piece on Comment is Free today. The penultimate paragraph made me laugh out loud:

The internet is a valuable tool. It can bring inspiring, diligent and creative reporting into every home. But it will not do so by obliging consumers to accept the shoddy, propagandist ranting some categorise as citizen journalism and less credulous critics recognise as a deplorable reversion to the days when news was always deployed as a political weapon and only occasionally reported.
Mr Luckhurst seems blissfully unaware that he has just produced - in that self-same paragraph - a piece of "shoddy, propagandist ranting".
Continue reading The Content Paywall Ostriches.

November 27, 2009

On Tuttle, Canon and the Multimedia Journalist

Canon 7D
For the first time in an age, I managed not to schedule any meetings and take myself off to the Tuttle Club this morning. In fact, I've been so bad at going that I have missed the ICA phase entirely, leaping straight from the Coach and Horses to Leon in Spitalfields.

I'd blocked out the morning in my diary anyway, but I was delighted to learn from Lloyd that Canon would be sponsoring the morning, as I'm a long term Canon SLR and DSLR user, and getting the opportunity to play with their new kit was too good to be missed.

On the whole, people at work tend to know me as a champion of the "quick'n'dirty" approach to photos and videos in reporting. And I think that's valid. The social media era is pushing journalists towards being multi-media workers, and basic kit is (a) great for learning (b) easier to use, and thus gets used more and (c) often enough for most journos. But there are specialist tasks and situations which demand better kit. And some journalists will continue to have a bias towards particular elements of multimedia.
Continue reading On Tuttle, Canon and the Multimedia Journalist.

November 26, 2009

The Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards

Swanny & JamesAnd so, last night I took myself off to Shoreditch House for the Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards. This is the second year that we've run these, and the first that we've actually had an awards night at the end, I believe. And what good fun it was. Drinks, chat, CW web editor James Garner in full-on Bruce Forsyth mode, and Leila Gilley, our newly-appointed community manager for Estates Gazette (pictured above with Brucie James), snagging one of the awards for her site Girls'n'Gadgets.

I think it was particularly satisfying for me, because for the first time I really saw the multi-pronged blog strategy in, as it were, the flesh. We had CW journalists who blog there, alongside industry experts who we got blogging for the first time on the site, along with skilled existing bloggers who have come into the fold, including social technologist Suw Charman-Anderson, who has taken over The Social Enterprise blog (as per my rather cryptic post) and Hermione Way, who's using her video skills on the new Computer Geekly videos.

Only took us three years to get there... 

There's a full list of winners on the site, along with photos of them all

November 25, 2009

On Public Interest Journalism Special Pleading

I love Alison Gow's blog, Headlines & Deadlines, because every few months she puts up a post that really nails an issue, and becomes essential reference for journalists from then on. Here's another one:

I read a brief from the Society of Editors conference the other day where an editor- a mate of mine, actually - told his assembled audience:"What we produce is niche. Nobody else sits in our courts every day. Nobody else scrutinises our public bodies". It's stirring stuff and I'm sure his audience swelled with pride but it's just not true.
Well worth reading her deconstruction of a lot of the "public service" special pleading that journalists are making right now.

Twitterwalls: Do They Need Curation?

Ouch. This is a painful, but compelling, read:

I walked off stage and immediately went to Brady and asked what on earth was happening. And he gave me a brief rundown. The Twitter stream was initially upset that I was talking too fast. My first response to this was: OMG, seriously? That was it? Cuz that's not how I read the situation on stage. So rather than getting through to me that I should slow down, I was hearing the audience as saying that I sucked. And responding the exact opposite way the audience wanted me to. This pushed the audience to actually start critiquing me in the way that I was imagining it was. And as Brady went on, he said that it started to get really rude so they pulled it to figure out what to do. But this distracted the audience and explains one set of outbursts that I didn't understand from the stage. And then they put it back up and people immediately started swearing. More outbursts and laughter. The Twitter stream had become the center of attention, not the speaker. Not me.

That's danah boyd telling how a Twitterwall turned a shaky start to a presentation into a self-percieved disaster. I've seen danah speak in the past, and she's good. So this helps demolish my thesis that Twitter wall misbehaviour is in inverse proportion to the quality of the session.
Indeed, I'm slowly coming round to Alan Patrick's position that un-curated Twitterwalls are just a recipe for mob rule and diminishing the value of conference sessions.

November 24, 2009

Murdoch, Microsoft & Google

An interesting debate between Rob Andrews of Paid Content UK and former colleague Ciarán Norris about the rumoured deal between News International and Bing, and the future of content on the web:


November 23, 2009

Valedictory Post (But Not Here)

Just over a year ago, I launched a project I never had time to commit to.


And I'm really excited about who I'm handing it over to. It feels like one of my long-term goals for our blogging strategy here at RBI is beginning to come to fruition. And I'll talk about that in more detail, once my replacement posts. :-)

An Ending, and a Beginning

I had such good intentions. It was a subject I was passionate about, it was a way for me, as RBI's head of blogging, to lead by example. I was going to have fun here. But after a burst of activity about Web 2.0 Expo Europe and Le Web last year, this blog has been largely moribund.

The timing was unfortunate  - the launch of the Social Enterprise coincided with a huge upsurge in my work level at RBI, and I could never give the topic the attention it deserved. However, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I give it up. Why? Because James has found someone to replace me, who knows this subject far better than I do. Someone whose blogging and thinking about social media I've been following since I started blogging. Someone who is one of the very few who can genuinely claim to be an expert in this field.

Her first post will no doubt surface later this afternoon. But if you want a clue, she appeared in one of the earliest posts on the blog.

Thanks for reading, both of you, and I leave you in far better hands than mine. 

November 20, 2009

NUJ Moving With The Times

Credit where credit's due time. The NUJ has come a long way since the kerfuffle earlier in the year.

How so?

OK, there's some worrying, but unsubstantiated allegations going around about NUJ Left

But I'd go as far as to say that the NUJ is beginning to get social media. Blimey. 

November 19, 2009

Cargo Cult Blogging: Still Going Strong

I like Countryfile on TV, and I like Countryfile the magazine (I'm a rural chap at heart). Buy it every issue, in fact, and how many magazines can I say that about any more? But I do find their blogs page profoundly depressing. Too many blogs launched in a burst of enthusiasm, and then quickly left to subside into abeyance. And no proper index page of any of the blogs. They sorta look like blogs, but aren't really. Cargo cult blogging.

Competitively speaking, I'm glad so many publishers are still getting the fundamentals of blogging wrong. Personally, I find it disappointing. 

Postgraduate Passion

One of the Cardiff postgraduate students:

In one blog post, This is a Bad Time to be a Journalist If.., he lists all the wrong attitudes to have when trying to conquer the journalism world. Basically it highlights the fact that you have to be ready for change, have passion, talk to others and link to what other people are doing. I think this is all true, and despite the fact that it's a pretty bad time to be entering into the world of work, I am desperately excited about it all. I realise it will be hard but I am ready to give it my all and hope for the best. 
More signs of hope, I think.

Journalism From the Ashes?

In March, Hearst closed the 146-year-old Post-Intelligencer newspaper and dumped 140 of us onto the street in the depths of the recession.

What happened next? 

For the majority, the story is pretty depressing. The majority of those journalists are not working in journalism any more. But, I note, a handful are starting their own businesses or are involved with start-ups. There's some hope in that.

November 14, 2009

#1pound40 - The Ubiquity of Reporting

One of the things that struck me at this week's 1pound40 event was this:

Interview in Progress
Documentally doing his thing
Wherever you looked, be it in the breaks or during the sessions, somebody was blogging, recording, uploading, twittering or otherwise recording or sharing the conference. In other words, people were reporting it. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, and it's one to be expected at an event discussing the future of news and politics. But this massive upswing in information availability amongst so many things that were once the preserve of a handful of journalists is something that still only a handful of the industry are thinking about seriously enough. 


Continue reading #1pound40 - The Ubiquity of Reporting.

November 12, 2009

Contract Journal to close

People have noted that I tend to be quite upbeat about my work here (bar the odd rant or two) and that's because, on the whole, we have a lot to be upbeat about. But I ought to acknowledge that the recession is affecting us just like everybody else, especially with the news today that Contract Journal is to close, a story which Paul can probably claim to have broken.

Anyone near the construction industry knows what a beating it has taken during the credit crunch, and it's hard to see good journalists faced with the possibility of redundancy as a result. I've done a fair amount of work with the team down the years, especially with web editor Will Mann. They have my commiserations and best wishes.

November 11, 2009

#1pound40 - a curated unconference

#1pound140
I'm at the 1pound40 curated unconference at Thompson Reuters about the future of news and politics. It's a pretty discursive event, so I'm not sure what liveblogging will come out of it - let's see...

November 10, 2009

10 Ways to Kill an Online Community

Interesting video of a talk by Marilyn Pratt. There are things to disagree with in there (the reflexive suggestion that business people are in some way less willing to learn new tools than ordinary people, for example), but some great reality checks around community development:



[Spotted via Servant of Chaos.]

November 7, 2009

links for 2009-11-07

November 6, 2009

Facing The Future of Journalism (and liking it)

I've gone a bit quiet, haven't I? Sorry about that, but I've been busy, holidaying and sick, but not necessarily in that order. One element of the busyness was this:

Cardiff Journalism Postgrads

Yes, I was back in Cardiff to guest lecture to this year's crop of postgraduate journalism students. And an interesting experience it was, too. This bunch seemed to be more aware of social media and the changes in journalism than those of a year ago. There were some good challenging questions from them about entrepreneurial journalism, and a couple of them came to talk to me afterwards about their own plans and ideas for journalism businesses.

It might not be good news for big companies, but the fact that the spirit of journalism is alive and well in the younger generation - and actively trying to create its own means of funding itself, gives me a lot of hope for the future.

house.jpgAnd I can't resist sharing this piece of art (right) that was created by Caroline Cook, one of the students, for her Broadsheet Boutique blog. It's always interesting seeing how your lecture filters through into the student's blogs. Thank The Monkey (good advice in most circumstances) sums up parts of my argument pretty well, and you've got to love someone who's been inpired to turn their blog into a party. And I'm really glad this point came across loud and clear:

Without sounding cheesy, if you are not passionate, interested, or keen, about what you are blogging about, why should your readers be? If you enjoy what you are doing it will be a pleasure to update your blog 3 or 4 times a week...*cough*. If you are not enjoying writing your own blog, it is unlikely people will enjoy reading it, and from a business point of view, this will result in swift homelessness. 
Passion? Fashion. Farming. Politics. All good stuff.

November 3, 2009

links for 2009-11-03

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