Results tagged “journalists”

Twitter's head of news Vivian Schiller is stepping down:

Vivian Schiller, the high-profile NBC and NPR exec whom Twitter hired to run its news unit, is leaving the company as part of a consolidation. Adam Sharp will now be in charge of both news and government at the social messaging company, as part of a larger consolidation across the media division by its new head Katie Jacobs Stanton.

Here's Schiller's own tweet about it:

There's been an interesting trend of social-savvy journalists finding their way into the social networks - think Joanna Geary at Twitter in the UK, Hannah Waldram at Instagram and Liz Heron at Facebook - but the path is clearly more rocky than you'd think. The Tumblr newsroom was an early example of that.

Twitter drives a tenth of the traffic that Facebook does to news sites. So why are journalists so obsessed with Twitter?

Well, there's a good reason:

The reason, I think, is that Twitter is simply more useful for our jobs. For better or worse, it's where news breaks today. It's also where a lot of real-time reporting happens.

And a bad one:

The fact that so many journalists are on Twitter has made Twitter incredibly professionally valuable to journalists. Tweeting your articles ensures they're seen -- and discussed, and retweeted -- within a community that includes not just your friends and peers, but the people who might hire you someday.

There's also one he doesn't mention: Facebook is harder to use than Twitter. To get maximum return from it journalistically, you have to cultivate a subscriber community, understand how the algorithm-that-replaced-Edgerank works, and be prepared to maintain a community so that your posts keep appearing in news feeds. Twitter looks broadcast-y enough that journalists can get their heads around it easily.

Still, missed opportunity...

A Digiday post on volume of content per full-time staff member has been doing the rounds today:

Digiday looked at several publications — from stalwarts like the New York Times and Forbes to upstarts like Buzzfeed and The Awl — to see how much content they pump out on a daily basis compared to the size of their full-time editorial staffs. Here are the numbers:

New York Times: 1,100 newsroom: 350 pieces of content per day (per September 2010): 17.4 million pageviews per day.

Huffington Post: 532 full-time editorial staff: 1,200 pieces of editorial content per day. 28 full-time blog editors: 400 blog posts per day: 43.4 million pageviews per day.

Buzzfeed: 100 full-time editorial staff: 373 pieces of editorial content per day: 6.4 million pageviews per day.

It's an interesting piece of analysis undermined by a poor first paragraph that is just wrong:

Winning in digital media now boils down to a simple equation: figure out a way to produce the most content at as low a cost as possible.

And then reinforced by a later sentence:

The quality vs. quantity debate will never subside in certain media theory circles. But it’s clear quantity does matter; otherwise, brands wouldn’t waste their time spending precious dollars across the beefed-up traffic sites as well as the higher-brow sites, like the New York Times or Slate.

These statements are made without much supporting fact. Certainly there's no benefit to the sites that derive the majority of their income from paywalls or membership to just producing ever-greater volumes of content. It mainly works where there's a clear link between traffic volumes and revenues - and that's principally page impression-based generalist ad models. That's a brutal and competitive space, and one characterised by thin and thinning margins. I wish you the very best of luck if you want to compete there. You'll need it.

The social media editor is dead:

The fracas has left veterans of the social web feeling both vindicated and a little bemused. On the one hand, social media has become so central to a newsroom's mission that dedicated functionaries may be obsolete. On the other, doesn't every outlet need a boy or girl wonder to lend a human touch to the Twitter handle? Whether it's a day of reckoning or a sign of maturity for the social media editor, the role has never before been more embattled.
As one senior editor at a leading news outlet told me, "I both agree that the social media editor is dead and I just hired a social media editor."

There was an awful lot of noise and very little signal around this discussion. The end state is pretty obvious:

  • Social media skills will be integral to all journalists' work
  • The specialised social media editor will disappear
  • The need for dedicated community-centric editors will remain, but their role will be larger than just social media

Agree? Disagree?

Roy Greenslade, talking about Trinity Mirror:

But nothing I have heard has changed my thinking. Kelly's going is part of a pattern, confirming that a company that publishes newspapers and news websites has no respect for journalism... and certainly none for journalists.

I'm always surprised by how many people who reach the higher ranks of news publishing businesses seem to actively dislike journalists and journalism. It's like a vegetarian running a butcher's - you have to wonder why they do it. 

John L. Robinson spots a great observation about journalism by Stijn Debrouwere:

Because the entire point is that journalism is not being disrupted by better journalism but by things that are hardly recognizable as journalism at all. Stepping up your game is always a good idea, but it won't save you.

It's a spot on observation. 

The trick is going to be ways of finding the core values and skills of what we call journalism, and finding whole new ways of expressing them in a totally different medium.

You up to that?

The media: under occupation

Citizen reporting at work

Laurie Penny:

As more and more ordinary men, women and children without degrees in journalism acquire the skills and technology to broadcast text and video, the media has become another cultural territory which is gradually being re-occupied. Those on the ground do not have to wait for the BBC and MSNBC to turn up with cameras: they make the news and the reporters follow. They have grown up in a world of branding and they know how to create a craze and set the agenda. They occupy the media. And the media is starting to worry.

I only disagree with that last sentence. The media has been worrying for years.

The purpose of writing on blogs, community sites like Comment is free, and much of social media is to start or further a conversation - not to share a few writerly pearls of wisdom. The great majority of writers on this site (and the New Statesman, for that matter) are paid. It's a job. Too much of the conversation about comment threads is about how writers - people paid to serve an audience - feel.

-- from an excellent defence by James Ball of the role of comments on websites.

Journalists: Link To Win

People have, on occasion, described TechCrunch (and ex-TechCrunch) writers are "bratty" in their writing style. MG Siegler does a pretty good job of proving the point in his complaints last week about the lack of credit he got from the Wall Street Journal:

Earlier today, I broke some news.
I don't typically do this anymore given my new job. But from time to time this will happen. But if you read The Wall Street Journal, you'd never know. Why's that? Because they're fuckheads who don't credit actual sources of information.

But, you know what? Bratty or not, he has a point. There's a whole underlying cultural issue behind all of this, one that is deeply embedded in the journalistic workflow. Sometimes, when training journalists in blogging, I've said something like this:

"Most magazines exist in this strange alternate reality where their competitor doesn't exist. They'll acknowledge anything that happens in their industry, other than the work done by their competitors."

It was the start of an argument about linking to your competitors, rather than just rewriting their exclusives without acknowledging them - which is what seems to pass for standard practice these days. No wonder we slipped so easily into rewriting press releases when we've been rewriting other journalists for years...

Here's the thing: not linking (or acknowledging) the reporter that broke the story first is part of the competition game that publications play between themselves. And you know who gets played? The readers. They're the ones you're trying to fool when you don't link to the original story, and if they happen to read both publications - which many do - you're busted. And you just made yourself look like a second-rate journalist, and a bad loser to boot.

As Matthew Ingram puts it:

I think that failure to link decreases the trust readers have, because it suggests (or tries to imply) that the outlet in question came by the information independently when they did not.

Perhaps it's all been exacerbated by the perilous financial situation that most publications find themselves in right now. Indeed, our national press only seem ready to acknowledge the existence of each other when the time comes to go on the attack, as Fleet Street Blue notes.

David Weinberger makes the "public good" argument for linking:

I think there's another reason why reports ought to link to their, um, inspirations: Links are a public good. They create a web that is increasingly rich, useful, diverse, and trustworthy. We should all feel an obligation to be caretakers of and contributors to this new linked public.

However, I'll give you a more basic, a more commercial reason for linking to your competitors. If you give your readers confidence that you'll link freely and generously to the best work done elsewhere, you've just given them another reason - and a compelling one -  to visit your site first. Don't win through pretending you broke the story; win by being the most comprehensive place to go to find information on a topic.

Update: Steve Buttry has some excellent reasons for linking, too.

John Robinson wants to know what we would do if…

* Half of your employees — including those in the newsroom — don’t read the paper (except for their own stories)?

Sadly, that's been the case in pretty much every big magazine I've worked on. News reporters are particularly notorious for never bothering to read the features, in my experience, leading to the occasional embarrassment when the run something in news that was published in a feature a month before…

I am a journalist. I am married to a scientist. You can guess why I enjoyed this so much…

The journalist and the scientist are two species that inhabit the same ecosystem, but have very different behaviors. I have spent many years carefully observing both of these species in their natural habitats, and have compiled this guide for the use of anyone interested in understanding their social structures.

Well worth reading to kill those last few minutes before beer o'clock…

Rosie Niven comments on the BBC's attempts to get its staff to mix it up a little:

I’ve been in a few newsrooms now and while I applaud the attempt to get staff out of their fiefdoms and mixing with people on other desks, I can’t see how this heavy-handed policy is going to work.

Oddly enough, the lack of integration between, say, news and features desks is often a problem on print titles, that just gets exaggerated as you move towards digital. The web/print divide is just the latest in a very long line of cultural chasms that have littered our newsrooms. At least that's been my experience over the last couple of decades.

I'd be fascinated to know if anyone has every done any research into the psychology of journalists and why they can be both territorial and suspicious of change.

Middle class coffee...here are some links to distract you.

And, finally, possibly the most evil app ever invented for carnivorous Londoners. Damn you, Sue Llewellyn for bringing this to my notice. 

Learning to be a mutable journalist

Since my job morphed from "head of blog development" to "editorial development manager" (which happened a while before the job title change), I've struggled to give a clear, one sentence description of what I do. The closest I've got is "figure out how changes in technology, journalism and social media present us with business opportunities as a publisher - and then do everything I can to make sure we take advantage of that". Not exactly a conversation-starter at a dinner party.

This problem is afflicting the whole of journalism, I think. Jobs are becoming less defined as the work we do becomes more mutable. Arnold King sums up this trend in employment thus:

The paradox is this. A job seeker is looking for something for a well-defined job. But the trend seems to be that if a job can be defined, it can be automated or outsourced.

The marginal product of people who need well-defined jobs is declining. The marginal product of people who can thrive in less structured environments is increasing.

Something to think about…

[via Jackie Danicki]

Well. I'm back from my break in France, and feeling relaxed, refreshed and recharged. There's much blogging I want to do, but I've been flat out with strategy and training and liaison and other exciting work things since I returned. My diary opens up a bit from tomorrow, so expect a bit more posting then.

In the meantime, my ego, pesky little thing that it is, won't let me getting away without linking to this list of the UK's most influential online journalists. At the moment I'm 18th, and probably the 2nd most influential B2B journalist after Patrick Smith:

top100ukonlinejournos.png
If you fancy helping demote me, they're looking for suggestions for 50 more people to add to the list.

Fleet Street Blues:

Are 'community moderators' and other such multimeeja types really journalists at all? Or is it an entirely different skill? And is it time we stopped pretending otherwise?

That's exactly equivalent to asking if 'page designers' and other such paaaayper types are really journalists at all.

Good luck with telling them that they're not…

Why Adam Westbrook is leaving the mainstream media:

Of course, none of these things are possible inside the mainstream news cycle, which is why it has become so distorting and dangerous. The actions of thousands of journalists telling half truths here and there, and passing on unchallenged information as fact from 'reliable sources' creates a foghorn for lies on a giant scale.
The point he's making here is incredibly valuable. People see the "threat from the internet" aspect of the changes we're going through very easily. What they miss is the terrible damage the journalism profession has done yo its own reputation. 

Hacks & Hackers & RBI

The ScraperWiki LogoJudith's just posted the news to the Scraperwiki blog: RBI's hosting a Hacks & Hackers sessions here in Quadrant House. 

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the hack days are designed to bring together "hacks" - journalists - and "hackers" - developers - to build interesting online journalistic products using the skills of both groups. The RBI session will be focusing (as you might expect) on data and information that affects B2B interactions, including relevant government data.

The day isn't just for RBI staff, either - it's split 50-50 between us and anyone who wants to come in from the outside. It's going to be a complete day-long event, and I'd love to see some of the readers of this blog there, 

The event's taking place on Monday 29th November and you can scramble for a place on Eventbrite