May 2010 Archives
May 26, 2010
"It was very hot yesterday and the airconditioning at our datacentre in Croydon failed," said Bob Dunn, general manager of customer experience at O2. "It had to be cooled down, and there was a network outage in London."Slightly startling that the connections we have come to rely on are so dependent on airconditioning...
May 25, 2010
- They expect to lose 90% of their traffic in this process
- They will enforce "real name" commenting and discussion within the paywall
May 24, 2010
Journalism is about asking the right questions. We research stories before we interview subjects so that we can ask pertinent questions whose answers will illuminate the subject. We need to be able to do the same thing with our data - we need to know what questions to ask and how, so that even if we can't make the tools ourselves we can hand over the task to someone else without asking the impossible or wasting their time.
May 21, 2010
A couple more responses to the "students want to work on national newspapers" debate:
May 20, 2010
Last night I took myself off to the Frontline Club, for a discussion on digital media, mobiles and paywalls - based on the question "Will Apple save media?". All relevant, cool and topical stuff. However, I should have known that the presence of Gurtej Sandhu, digital director of Times newspapers there, this was going to turn into a discussion primarily about paywalls - and indeed it did, despite the presence of several iPads in the room. The News International paywalls have become the discursive equivalent of black holes - bending all conversation out of shape around them…
I found the disconnect between the representatives of our nationals newspapers there - Sandhu and Marybeth Christie, head of product development at FT.com - and the audience was marked. Every time they were questioned about "the conversation" - which is essentially social media shorthand for the vast web of interlinks stories, blogs, tweets and the like around a particular topic - Sandhu tended to reply with comments about being on as many platforms as possible, and Christie came very close, at chair Steve Hewlett's prompting, to equating social sharing with theft. The message seemed to be clear - the majority of the audience, and the remaining two panelists, thought that the social web was important, the national newspaper representative did not.
William Owen of Made by Many identifies three fallacies he sees in national newspaper thinking, based on what he heard at the event. I think he's absolutely spot on - in fact, I think all three are extensions of the national newspaper-centric thinking I highlighted earlier in the week. I challenged Sandhu on this, suggesting that he assertion that we were all in an experimental phase around paying for content was nonsense. After all, RBI has been doing it for 15 years, His reply implied that there was something different going on here because they're the first general interest newspaper to follow that route. But really, does the source of the content matter that much? Doesn't each piece of content stand on fall on its own amongst the web of information out there?
The closer we get to The Times paywall experiment, the more excited I get about it. We have two very different sets of assumptions amongst publishers, and those interested in publishing, about where the value lies in journalism. This experiment will, over time, expose which assumptions have the deeper flaws in them.
Patrick Smith has posted a write-up of the event, as well as a video of the whole thing over on the Frontline Club blog.
May 19, 2010
May 18, 2010
Now, this deserves a response:
Journalism professor who spent most of his working life in national newspapers defends a national newspaper-centric view of the world.
There's a surprise. :-)
Greenslade actually misrepresents my position in his post, through omission:
Tinworth is upset that Caesar ignores local papers. But the truth is that my post-grad students ignore local journalism too
Well, yes, I am upset that Caesar ignores local newspapers, but only as part of a wider concern that he ignores every form of journalism bar national newspapers. And it shouldn't be a surprise that most journalism students aren't aiming at local press if they have any industry awareness at all - the terrible salaries and serious problems of that sector are much reported. By missing the broader point I was making, he misrepresents my argument.
However, the difference between them and Caesar (and me) is between "is" and "ought." Caesar and his interviewees are telling like it is. His critics are saying what ought to happen.
Really? I'm saying that there "ought" to be many other types of media? I think you'll find that there already are many other types of media that employ journalists.
May 17, 2010
May 14, 2010
It's taken long enough, but we've finally got ourselves a new DEFRA secretary. Caroline Spelman was announced as the department's head honcho at about 7pm last night. If I were paranoid, I'd say the politicians were timing their announcements just to wind us journos up. Gordy decided to tell everyone he was stepping down at 5pm (probably just as most of the national newspapers were getting ready to set their pages), while we were on our third version of the lead story for this week's Farmers Weekly, ready to push the button to send the magazine to the printer, when Cazza got the official nod.Ah, the tyranny of print, the necessity of delay, as the presses roll, the collators and binders work and the trucks deliver.
Take, for instance, the Haiti earthquake of January 12 this year. It got almost blanket news coverage for days, running on the front page of the national newspapers and precipitating a huge outpouring of donations. But then, slowly, despite the 230,000 estimated deaths and the rebuilding campaign led by Wyclef Jean, the earthquake was overtaken by 'new' news stories.
May 13, 2010
- Kevin Anderson writes about the wikification of news - its move towards more collaborative models online
- Dave Lee notes that recent moves by The Guardian look suspiciously like creating a network of niche B2B sites - and asks if that paves the way for some paywalls.
- The Harvard Business Review becomes the newest site to jump on the external commenting system bandwagon. Disqus is starting to get some traction amongst serious American magazines
- And are the assumptions around blog design just plain wrong?
May 12, 2010
May 10, 2010
- Where next for the Telegraph's digital strategy? - Interesting analysis of newspaper digital strategy post-Will Lewis. The recent exodus of digital innovators from our national newspapers worries me.
- Something rotten in the social media woodshed - the relationship between social media media sentiment and actual polling doesn't seem to square.
- Guido makes a similar point more bluntly - Basically, Twitter doesn't reflect the opinions of the public as a whole. It's still a clear subset - one whose views do not reflect the national mood.
- "If journalism is the first draft of history, live blogging is the first draft of journalism" - Andrew Sparrow of The Guardian on liveblogging the election.
- Why Twitter looks like a social network but feels like news media - Interesting. Not sure I agree, but still interesting.
May 7, 2010
- The Pint of Milk Test notes that No.10 Downing Street is heading to HMO (House in Multiple Occupancy) status.
- The Planning Blog frets that planning is going to be pushed further down the agenda.
- Paul Norman spots that the minister responsible for the Olympics Legacy fell to the Tories.
- Jackie Sadeck reveals a past of political protest - but thinks this is the wrong time for a fight over proportional representation.
May 6, 2010
May 5, 2010
Of course, if we do get a deeply hung parliament then that will also raise all sorts of interesting procedural issues for journalists - especially the BBC. Generally, governments - especially new ones - are given the dominant position in news coverage and allowed to dictate terms and set agendas because they have the popular mandate. But if we have a minority administration it raises the question of just how to balance stories.Based on the polls, we might not have long to answer that question...
May 4, 2010
For a Labour voter to hate a Tory voter or vice versa is for us all to stumble into the revolting and nonsensical little-endian big-endian madness that Swift pilloried in Gulliver's Travels.
However one thing has remained constant in my political affiliations, and that is a deep contempt and fear of tribalism. When I meet a Labour voter who can only hiss, stamp and fume at any Tory, or a Conservative voter who can only jeer and condemn a Labour voter then I bridle, bristle and simply writhe with indignation. Let this be known and celebrated: we all have the right to vote the way we want. We all have our reasons and motivations and they do not justify anyone insulting or reviling us.Marvellous.
I didn't, but I explained I was a journalist for The Independent looking to speak to a man at an address in the area, who was standing as a candidate in the local elections, about allegations of postal vote fraud. "Can we see your note pad," the boy asked. I declined and then the first punch came - landing straight on my nose, sending blood and tears streaming down my face. Then another. Then another.An Independent journalist, investigating electoral fraud, is beaten up in the pursuit of a story. As Brian Micklethwait, a blogger whose work I have long enjoyed, puts it on Samizdata, a libertarian blog:
Isn't trying to learn the truth about things, sometimes naively and foolishly, going where people who already know it all are too wise to venture, what journalism is all about?
- My worries some months back about blog platform innovation slowing were unfounded. All of the platforms I listed above are adding features at a rapid clip.
- This is the year when social networks and blogs are going to merge very deeply indeed - and any publisher would be unwise to ignore this.