A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged news:rewired


I’ve just finished* running a workshop on analytics for journalists at news:rewired this afternoon.

Here’s a selection of links I promised the attendees to allow them to explore some of the issues contained in the presentation in more detail:

And let this fine five minute rant from The Guardian‘s Chris Moran be a lesson to you all:

The Presentation

*Actually, a lie – I wrote this at midnight the night before, and scheduled the post…

Today, some of my students from City are busy liveblogging news:rewired. So, left at a loose end, I’m sat in Shoreham, doing the very necessary work of curating the unofficial, and potentially liver-destroying news:rewired drinking game:


Wifi Problems

Risky – but appropriate.



Struggling with this one. It used to be a core jargon word, but it’s been in retreat in recent years. I’m going with a shot, for nostalgia’s sake…



Two fingers of a pint, otherwise the liver damage would just be too much to sustain.

Any more for any more?

Stijn Lehaen 1

How do you bring start-up thinking to a traditional broadcaster? That’s what Stijn Lehaen set out to explain in the closing session of news:rewired yesterday. The Belgian broadcaster was struggling online, at least in comparison to its traditional presence. So it set up a startup-style division called VRT Start-up at the edge of the organisation, headed by Lehaen.

They worked with Made by Many to implement the lean startup approach to working. They have user insight sessions every two weeks, where they talk with pairs of friends about what they expect from media. Why friends? Well, the idea is to get them debating between themselves, so they forget they are talking to the broadcaster.

Power to the prototypes

They’re trying to develop as many solutions as possible, and they test them by by building very simple prototypes – as simple as a sketch on paper. The basic nature of this helps promote honesty – if people feel you’ve spent a long time on building one, they’re less likely to be critical. They have a small content team to build out the surviving prototypes, and then they move into a beta state.

They started with the idea of making news for teenagers and young people, in the digital world. They look at them as the YouTube generation, who want choice in their media. This tends to be 16-24 year olds, but it can go much older. For this group, a new media product needs social media promotion – and to become part of people’s existing timelines.

The first prototype they built out was 6things – a simple aggregation website with the most interesting six things for young people they’d found that day. It was responsive from the start, and promoted via the Facebook newsfeed. Problems? Everyone’s doing this sort of list curation, and they were too slow compared to the competition, because they were publishing at a set time of day.

Power to the Pivot

Stijn Lehaen

So, they pivoted the model – they switched from daily editions to a continuous flow, on a site now called Sambal. And they started creating YouTube-style video, rather than broadcast-style. A strong branding around Sambal was vital, because their content was being shared outside their own environment. They moved on from aggregation to creation, trying to find unusual approaches to stories. This led to experimenting with the content mix. The core categories were:

  • beautiful
  • entertaining
  • serious
  • LOL
  • amazing
  • geeky

Video has to be very short – over 30 seconds is just too long. So, they launched Ninja News, a social-focused quick news service.

Their organisation is in constant experiment, with freedom to fail, and a total focus on the user.

Unanswered Questions

Sadly, the conference was over-running and there was no time for questions. The key one I wanted to ask was: how are they taking this experimentation back into the core business. These skunkworks-style business units can be great for generating ideas, but there is a string tendency for the main business’s corporate “immune system” to eventually kill them off because they don’t fit the existing models and processes – I’d have liked to see some sense of how they hope to keep their innovation alive in the long tedm/

Owly Images 

How are news organisations dealing with stream publishing? Kathryn Corrick directs the flow…
jason.jpgJason Mills, editor, web for ITV News: the ITV site is built on a stream. it shows that you don’t have to be a station to have a news channel.

Raju Narisetti, managing editor, Wall Street Journal Digital Network: It’s a flowing list of content – you name it, it’s in the stream. We’re doing more of it because his competition is not the other sites – it’s readers’ time, their one non-renewable resources. Streams give them more for their time. And people are used to seeing discrete periods of time for events – why can’t news coverage happen in the same way. 

Patrick Heery, UK editor, BBC News website: Streaming news has always been part of their operation – but Ceefax is closing. So they’re doing it in new ways. They’re mixing up video, content from correspondents and the best of the user content. They’re hugely popular with the audiences. They’ve reorganised the newsroom to bring the Twitter writers into the heart of the newsroom. 
ben.jpgPete Clifton, executive editor, MSN: They can now switch to liveblogging when they need to – either doing it themselves or through the press association. They need to pick their battles, though. They know they’re good at entertainment, so they target those occasions. They should also think about innovative things, to balance their lack of scale. They’ve started doing live trending blog on the front page, driven by signals from social media. They want to make live sports coverage more interactive and involve the audience. But simplicity can be the key on  alive page, especially on mobile. 

Ben Schneider, senior director and general manager for CoveritLive, Demand Media: It’s difficult to make sense of the vast firehose of information coming at you. That’s what you turn to the big players for a story. They want to bring those streams into one place where they can be shaped by the journalist or editor. 

Biggest disasters?
raju.jpgRaju: Google wasn’t really indexing the stream – it didn’t see it as a single piece of content. Plus, 40% of their visitors go straight to the home page. What do they do when a both a stream and a popular branded blog are covering the same event? They run the stream on the page, and a link to the blog as well. 

Jason: Not that I can think of yet. Their stream isn’t an add-on – it is the site. Can it be done with all stories? Pretty much. Stories develop. We just open source our journalistic notebook. But your publishing tool has to be very fast – it was by Made by Many. 

Ben: There was a liveblog covering pro-Obama issues. Their Twitter hashtag automated importing starting accidentally pulling in anti-Obama comments. They quickly removed them, but the realised that unfettered access may not be the answer. 

Pete: Accidental obituary releases. Large “Hardon” Colliders. 
patrick.jpgPatrick: It’s more complicated than it should be to start up live pages. 

Tips from the audience on B2B liveblogging:

  • Lots of prepublicity
  • Work in co-operation with the audience
  • Open a dialouge
  • Use tools that work in low bandwidth.

Pete: Pin the key points to the top, so people can get a quick picture of what’s happening. 

Ben: It’s very contextual to the event: photos are vital to an Apple event, for example. 

What’s the next big innovation in liveblogs?

Ben: What is everyone asking for? One is more data. That’s a theme for everything. And how can they do more the engage people more? We need more intuitive ways of filtering through massive amounts of content.


What’s the influence of sport on the influence of liveblogging? What might emerge from the Olympics?

Jason: We didn’t look at sport, we looked at how people consumed news in general; the Arab Spring etc.

Raju: Sports has been less of an influence to us – for us, it’s been the way markets are covered. The elements that make for a good stream are sometimes not available for sport because of rights issues – the video and the audio. 
pete.jpgPete: The sports people were pioneers in showing how you can write copy in a way that compels people even without video. Not everyone can do it. Sport really pointed the way at the BBC.

Ben: Sports is a huge part of what CoverItLive is used for. The Olympics presents a unique challenge. Coming from across the pond, there’s a delay effect (for the US audience). They want time-shifted streams. Give them the opportunity to see it again.

Everybody is build live platforms – have any of you figured out the magnetisation piece? We know users are super-enganged, but we struggle with metrics. 

Conrad Quilty-Harper: Engadget used sponsorship – they knew how many people would be coming. There should be more people liveblogging from the field. People today want to sit in offices doing it – not at the event. (I beg to differ, sir – I’m typing this in the field. ;-))

Raju: Time-span becomes a relevant measure again. People spending more time on the site means more ad impression, which are good for us.

Jason: Two models: banner ads and sponsorship. The tagghing enables sponsors to sponsor certain parts of the stream. 

Pete: The story we tell advertisers is people coming back to the site and staying longer – it’s not a specific sell, but live is part of that. If we can bring all the live elements together, it will be a great place to look for sponsorship. 

Chris Hamilton, BBC: Is the article dead at the hands of live digital streaming?

Ben: No. But it is certainly secondary if not tertiary. But there will always be the case where people need to rebuild context around something. 

Pete: No, you have to offer the choice. Some people just want a well-written, concise version of what occurs. 

Patrick: No. There are lots of live football reports – but a match report at the end of it.

Raju: I would be very cautious about streams that people just watch rather than engaging with it – because your business model goes away.

Jason: Our audience doesn’t distinguish. They don’t mind. We are looking at different ways of telling stories using the stream. 

A packed and hot room for a panel on the current state of publishing on mobile. Katie King back in the chair.
katie milnerKate Milner, mobile product manager, BBC News

Tablets and mobile are changing how people are accessing BBC News content. Traditionally, they’d focussed on the lunchtime peak of desktop. But tablets are bring us huge traffic peaks in the evening, and mobile in the mornings. They’ve been on mobile for two years – 12m app downloads globally. People expect better services from them in apps – but it’s a complicated landscape. Browsers are getting more capable, and the number of devices people are using is growing. 

They’re shifting to responsive HTML5 web design – the website automatically adapts to show more content as screen size increases. As the device gets faster, they can offer better quality video. They update the site’s codebase every two weeks. The can customise by capabilities – or can do it by geolocation on mobile devices. They’re working on richer advertising for outside the UK, and continuing to optimise for tablets. They’re working their way up to the desktop, and will completely replace the existing site at some point. They know for sure, thanks to responsive design, that their site will just work on the newly-announced Nexus 7. 

They’re not abandoning apps – the marketing opportunity around big events cannot be ignored. They see spikes of downloads around big new events.  
Robert-Shrimsley.jpgRobert Shrimsley, managing editor of;

The story of the FT leaving the Apple app store has been often told. Their fundamental principal is they want to be available everywhere their readers are. They’re not in a hurry to commit to being available through applications like Flipboard or Zite – but hope to do it. It might not be their optimal way of delivering the content, but if it’s what the readers want, they want to deliver it that way fi they can within their business model. 

They mine data religiously. They have so many dashboards that it’s staggering. they almost have a data overload situation. There’s an advertising benefit as well, as they target ads. But they can also customise experiences and target stories.

The iPad app has changed the audience’s relationship with the paper – they now treat it as a weekend read, too. So they’re changing what they do to adapt to that. The Daily is failing – he thinks it’s because its form over function. The Week made the mistake of updating daily. Their raison d’être is weekly. And The Economist is a digital representation of the magazine and nothing else. You can learn from all of this. The challenge is to make the product they have give the best experience they can on new platforms. The one core difference is on functionality – you need to make sure it’s up to snuff. Make it easy to share, e-mail and comment. 

They see the iPad version as a hybrid. They produce a dynamic version which is up to date with their US rivals. Their newsrooms internationally don’t just own their market – they own their time zone, and can update the content in the app during their “awake” period. Focus on your core purpose and everything else will take care of itself. 
Subhajit-Banerjee.jpgSubhajit Banerjee, mobile editor, Guardian

32% of their daily traffic comes through mobile. As so many people have said today, different devices at different times of day.  Subhajit was a bit hijacked here – many of his slides had appeared at the business model session this morning, or paralleled earlier in the session.

Interestingly, though, there’s a dramatic swing to mobile at weekends, which has not been discussed before. 

Their challenges:

  • Best products for different times of the day
  • Editing for multiple platforms
  • Understanding the user
His talk was essentially a potted history of the Guardian’s mobile development – but it overlapped enough with the other talks that there’s much not extra I can bring you, really. Sorry, Subhajit.


Peter Bale, vice president and general manager of CNN International Digital, (speaking about Zite)
Peter is here to tell us why Zite is important – and why it’s better than Flipboard. It’s developed by people who worked on Microsoft’s search engine Bing. He’s been drawn into the Zite world step by step, and now he finds himself reading it into the night. He believes curation is a powerful concept – no news organisation can tell all of a story on its own. The move of the web to mobile is a real phenomenon. 
Zite is engineered serendipity. If you combine curation with serendipity, you get the element of surprise and discovery. Personalisation can encourage you to go deeper and deeper into your own pathways. Zite answers that. It drowns in social signals, with a credibility rating – and it vets content suppliers for accuracy over time. It models the content from its sources, how much it shares and a semantic analysis. And it models you and your community, learning about you as it goes. It tries to give you what you want – with a cloud of fuzzy logic to give that serendipity. They key to it is the ability to use a thumbs up/thumbs down button to start personalising its recommendations to you. 
CNN bought it last year, and as it gets drawn back into the company you’ll see how powerful it can become. 

Four visions of data journalism, moderated by Kathryn Corrick, digital media consultant

Bella Hurrell, specials editor on the BBC News website
Bella HurrellThe BBC specials team produces a whole range of added-value content for the BBC website. They’re becoming part of a visual journalism team at the BBC. Data journalism can be long slow projects, but not all of them. You should pick subjects that have a shelf life – road traffic accidents, unemployment, that sort of thing, Update the data and people will keep coming back. Make tools they will want to keep using.  Build sharing into it.

They did a project plotting road traffic fatalities through FOI requests – the map was the most popular element, because it allowed people to understand what the situation is where they lived. They also visualised some of the most interesting data – for example, bikers are 21% of fatalities, compare to 1% of traffic. They liveblogged every accident on one day to bring publicity to it, to help amplify the data and give it more life. It was really popular and followed nationally. Their military deaths in Afghanistan gets traffic every time there’s a new death. Their unemployment tracker gets updated monthly and gets s ready stream of traffic. 

Visualisation helped bring a dry subject like the Eurozone debt web to life. They had comments open, and responded to the issues raised. “People really appreciated it”. They key seems to be a double-whammy of personally applicable information that is also globally relevant. 

Claire Miller, senior reporter and data journalist, Media Wales
claire millerFrom global to very, very local… The bread and butter of what Media Wales do is government data. The focus is still stories for the paper, so they’re reacting to what is released by government, and finding stories in that. Beyond the day to day, it’s a lot of FOI data used to create stories. With FOI you can get the data you want at the level you want. For example, she asked exactly when and where all the parking tickets where handed out in Wales. They visualised it using Tableau. A&E visits by location, not surprisingly, increased nearer the hospital you lived, and that showed up well on a map. Mapping empty homes allows quick identification of hotspots.

With open data, more and more stuff is being published, so there’s lots of potential.  

People look for specific things, as uses of the data store show – local elections, the Olympic torch relay and sport. Education bubbles along all the time… They ended up making their own Olympic Torch map, because they couldn’t embed the official one easily. It went crazy. It was the most popular thing on the site. Wales lacks the same easy access information on school performance in the UK. Media Wales gathered everything they could find, gathered it into one app, and let people access it. 

And anything with rugby in it is popular…

Damian Kimmelman, CEO, Duedil
Damian-Kimmelman.jpgEverything that consumes electricity will inevitably be connected to the internet. And that means it will leave a data trail. And they are, in his words, “data whores”. 

Duedil is a site for examine the state of companies using available data (Martin did an excellent write-up of their Hacks/Hackers talk). They’ve had acquisition offers for £20m –  and they’ve turned it down. They’re still seed funded. And they’re still finding new ways of making data more interesting and useful. They’re planning on launching a facility called lists. Create your lists of types of companies, and use the data to find new ways of tagging, categorising and analysing the companies. But they need more information. Mapping the companies around your social graph – will that show whose companies have changed dramatically over the last few years? 

Heirecrchy of needs for data: it needs to be clean – deduced and usable. It needs to be findable – and linked. 

Users need to know the provenance of data – who touched it, who keyed it in? Did the accountant make a mistake? The more people touch data, the more imperfect it. It’s important to understand the authority of a dataset. 

James Ball, data journalist working for the Guardian investigations team
james ballHe’s a reporter, dammit Jim, not a designer. Whatever you’re trying to do – there’s a dataset you can buy, open, assemble or FoI. But that’s a bit like saying there’s someone who knows the key to your story – how do you find them? He wants to challenge the idea of “from data to story”. 

There’s all sorts of caveats when you’re using data from surveys and censuses. Investigating the stat used as the basis of a Diane Abbot comment piece lead to exposure of a biger story – one disproportionate rise in young black male unemployment – which hit the front page. Sometimes readers will simulate investigations – people claiming in comment threads that the vacancies claimed in jobs centres are not real, or zero hours contracts, or the like. They tried to scrape the relevant data from a government site – but it had protections in place. So he had to FOI it – and got the data, albeit heavily encrypted (but the phoned the password over). It was very messy, inconsistent data. 

This wasn’t a story from digging around in data. This was questions from the readers and a comment piece which they could answer with data. Do you ring around your sources and ask them for a story? If you’re doing that, you’re doing something wrong. Don’t do that to data, either. Talk to humans, look at news, and then ask the right questions of your data. This argues for not having data journalisms in silos. Don’t just keep them in offices looking at spreadsheets… 

Kathryn Corrick

Panel discussion on sustainable business models, chaired by Kathryn Corrick, digital media consultant.
lucia adamsLucia Adams, The Times – When they launched a paywall, people predicted a disaster. But it hasn’t turned out that way, and now all the newspapers are trying to solve the same problem. The big change is the advent of smartphone apps and tablets – which has opened the doors for other publishers to charge. Most still shy away from charging for web, but sites like The Economist are happier to do so. 190,000 130,000 digital subs [corrected my mishearing], 170,00 print subs. They have a bigger paying audience before. They make more money from subs and ads in digital than they did from ads alone. However – it changes their relationship with readers, to this idea of experience, not just pumping out articles.

The cost of acquiring a new customer is more than maintaining an old one. Understanding the value of the relationship is a big focus of their journalism. Engagement is not just nice to have, it’s a business imperative. It’s about thinking about what happens to the story afterwards… The story is a beginning of a relationship with a reader. The cycle campaign was a lively example of this. It was a conscious decision that the story was just the beginning of a series of touchpoints and calls to action. 

Their experimentation helps them understand how people consume their journalism. Will blogs win? Will Twitter win? She knows no-one who only has one thing in their lives. The Live Hub is a second screen experience for tablets to accompany the Olympics. If they hadn’t been focusing on the reader, they’d never have arrived at something like this. They’ve learned and adapted as their business model changes. 
Dennis MortensenDennis Mortensen, Visual Revenue: How do you figure out story demand in advance? Once you’ve figured it out, how do you decide which resources to commit? But he doesn’t want to talk about those. When you have articles done, which you want to go out and promote, there’s where you have an opportunity. THey see people having success when they figure out which channels to compete in. Some channels we focus on, some we virtually ignore – do your work your RSS feed? Maybe you should. Maybe it’s a dramatic part of the article views you get every day. They sold their previous comp may to Yahoo – it’s a fun place to be if you like data. You have a marketplace, where some products will be sold and some not. That’s how Google looks at things – mix of paid (inorganic) and free (organic) search results. When you promote a story in the homepage of a site, you pay with opportunity cost. You wasted that space, if it doesn’t work. If you go against the interest and will of your audience you should know. They’ve come up with a model to predict which stories will perform best in which places. 
Stephen FolwellStephen Folwell, Guardian News & Media: Three years ago he was doing  piece of work to prove that it was worth investing in digital rather than print. Amazing that was only three years ago. He’s annoyed that The Times have a liveblogging Olympics platform. They have one, too. Their old model was guessing what people wanted, creating it, building an audience, and selling adverts. In the new operating model, they want to be at the heart of, and serving communities. People discover and share communities, commercial partners get access to those conversations, and The Guardian can sell products to them. 

They used to have a paid-for lesson plan resources for teachers called LessonPlan. They turned it free a year and a half ago, to serve a community of teachers. As a result of that, they’re selling recruitment advertising, and starting to make the competition feel more uncomfortable. They’re working to live stream opera, but give it editorial context. They’re getting a “progressives” audience – forward-looking individuals who are curious about the world and technology. Digitally savvy, socially conscious, and more likely than average to blog or be involved in social networks. Ad agencies like that community. The average age on the Facebook app is 29, on mobile 33, on the web 37 and in print 44. They’re creating complementary audiences with the channels. And they’re accessing times of day which weren’t accessible before – like the evening, where there’s a lot of ad spend available. Facebook is big after school, then iPad as you go into the evening. There’s an experimental Google TV app in the states for their video content. Other device manufacturers have come to them looking to use it, too. 

They encourage people to sign in with their social sign-up, which is new to the site. That helps with retention and targeting. They want bigger audience, who are better engaged, and whom they understand better. 
john barnesJohn Barnes, Incisive Media: If you look at what’s happened in their digital journalism journey, they’ve moved from big volumes to niche communities – which is great for B2B. Competing for volume drives down CPM. Trust is the most valuable asset they’ve got. They want to take that trust and make their content available to people where they want when they want it. AOP figures show that readers take adverts on trusted content sites more seriously. They use Scout and Google Analytics, as well as Google Live, to understand what their audience are doing on the site. Scout Analytics has some interesting ways of defining categories. They’re mostly interested in the “Fans” category, and they want to move “Flybys” into “Fans” – and they think they can do that by using devices and context.

People have got much more selective on the web. They have very high bounce-rates, but if they got what they wanted, that’s great. They see iPads as a good way of moving them to a more elective experience rather than a selective one. The iPad is for discovery, the web for in-depth research. Fly-bys are 11 times less valuable, because they’re only being magnetised through selling eyeballs. As they move through their systems, they gather more data about the customers, which can be used to make them into the most valuable “Fans”. They’re mainly gated sites, and more AOP research shows that subscription people spend longer on the site when they’re inside the paywall, and have a lower bounce rate. They’ve got about 10 minutes dwell now – they want to drive that up. The longer they’re there, the more opportunities there are to sell them conference tickets, subscriptions, etc.

They encourage their teams to think about the devices differently. What does an iPad edition collectively add, and how was it synchronous with the rest of what they do. One size does not fit all. Mobile is Immediate, Desktop Informative and Tablet Reflective. They want high-quality content that people can’t get elsewhere – their experts and unique opinion, as well as reader comments. When the Japan crisis hit, they wanted to target specific headlines for their markets, not generalist ones. If you just publish volumes to devices, and don’t think about your users, you’re not building any sustainability. 


Good discussion on the relevance of home pages. Dennis maintained that they’re an important channel that can be optimised, and be a big chunk of their traffic. John Barnes disagreed vigorously, arguing that – for an engaged audience – every page is an effective home page. Stephen fell somewhere in between, saying that the have big fights over homepage placement, but they’re getting better at optimising their other pages. And Lucia suggested that the situation is complicated by the device in play. 

Katie King

A panel discussion on the digital future chaired by Katie King, senior product manager, Portal & Partners, MSN UK

Raju Narisetti, Wall Street Journal Digital

Raju-NarisettiIf in 2012, if you’re still talking about integrating print and digital, you’re in deep, deep trouble. Good journalism matters – but experiencing that content matters even more. Good content is a table stake. everyone has to have it.

Digital audiences will be even more promiscuous than they are now. They can experience other brands with the click of a finger, and through what is coming to them via social. And the only growth they’re going to get from their businesses is from digital audiences.

In 2012, the definition of a journalist must include bringing people to their journalism. What will enable that? The winners and losers will be separated at the intersection of content and technology. It’s only the experience that will make them say “I enjoyed experiencing the oscars at the Wall Street Journal” – and come back.

Both journalists and coders think their work is “art” and the other’s work is just “stuff”. You need to integrate the development and newsroom teams. We tend to fall in love with tools and try to fit them into our work. We need to start with experiences and work back to the tools.

joanna-geary.jpgJoanna Geary, The Guardian

There is only one newsroom in The Guardian. The plan has always been to embrace the future platforms for the audience. You can’t build a business model where the audiences are. The newsroom integrated in 2008 when they moved to Kings Place. This year they went truly digital first.

The majority of the newsroom is dedicated to getting stories out online. There’s a slow stream – focused on producing up to 30% of the newspaper’s content ahead of time. We get slightly excited by process change talking from print to digital. The process is great, but can really fall on their arse if you don’t get a cultural change.

There’s a real need for an understanding in newsrooms about what developers do. That’s a tough thing to crack. Bring eyeballs isn’t enough anymore – they might not know it’s our content. They might not care. We need to think of them as people and start building relationships with them.

We have done well at bringing people to our content – but we have no idea why them come back. And until we learn that, and scale that, we have a challenge on their hands. Is it the young journalists who are best at engaging with readers? Not always.

It’s not a split between dispassionate journalism and social media. People still talk to their sources. They now have community co-ordinators embedded on all their major desks. It’s about getting people to remember that this is part of their daily reality.

Alex GubbayAlex Gubbay, Johnston Press

At Johnston Press, the challenge of co-ordinating that journey across hundreds of newsrooms means we have to be more careful. If we rush headlong into all things digital, we over-expose the core aspects of the business: print. If we move too slowly, we get left behind and become irrelevant.

What I’ve learnt since joining JP from the BBC, is trying not to be too dogmatic about all the phrases of digital journalism. Get to the heart of the issue needs cracking: print cannot govern or dictate anything we do digitally. We have to value for it as long as it remains a core function, but we need to ensure there are no legacy thinking or workflows in our digital operation. Keep the legacy platform going for as long as possible, but make sure nothing we’re doing stops us progressing.

They’re up from 8m to 10m online audience in a year. Mobile is 26% of their traffic. And it’s a significantly different demographics – 60% 35 or younger. Tablets is still early days, but there are good signs. Apple and Amazon remain fantastic shop windows for them – they see spikes from featured apps on Newsstand.

Triggering competition between journalists is one good way of getting journalists to involve themselves in social media.

martin fewellMartin Fewell, Channel4 News

A bit of a newcomer – only been in role for 14 years. As Ghandi said: to make a change, you need to be the change. The Guardian has given all its journalist tablets (Joanna seems confused by this) – we need to experience our journalism the way our audience do.

He doesn’t have a monetisation problem, so his remit is to maximise the audience of their journalism. They focus on their distinctive stories, and go into depth. They develop the personalities of the reporters through blogging and social media, and they target niches.

Ideas are king. Don’t spend too long thinking about strategy – get on and do it. He heard someone on the radio talking about how ready London is for the Olympics. How easy would it be to get to the Paralympics if you’re disabled – or anywhere around the UK. And that thought led to a series, with a great mixed skill team – cameramen, reporters, producers, social media people. They found powerful stories of lack of access around the country – No Go Britain. They had people live-tweeting their experiences.

The whole stream has been a great source of journalism they never expected, over print, TV, online, social media…. There was no boss saying “go do this”. Social media can help counter what’s called “succulent lamb journalism” in Scotland – journalists bought lovely meals by collapsing Rangers and not actually writing negative stories as a result.

Couldn’t get agreement about breaking news online or on TV. So, no rules. They decide as they go along. They did a lot around working practices in small groups, as well. His problem is keeping his journalists off Twitter, not getting them on there. All the journalists get the power of their digital profile. They all want blogs, they all want tablets…

Question from the BBC: Is your social media dulling the impact of your stories, or driving people to them? He’s not sure it’s either – it’s about maximising the buzz around the story; getting influencers and other reporters to say “hey, they’ve got something”, and then watch it, or catch up with it online. Yes, it’s a risk, but you reap rewards by building bigger social media buzz.


Both Raju and Joanna suggest they are in danger of being swamped by tools and platforms – you need to have a strategy, and you need to experiment and understand early on. You need to encourage entrepreneurship, but be realistic, suggests Joanna – and the only way you can do that is by measuring. Alex suggests that disciple and rigour in regional press makes some of the decisions for them. They need things that fundamentally transform their business – but they do need to leave time to experiment, but they need things that will scale from The Scotsman to the Stornaway Gazette.

Very specifically on user-generated video, Martin has found it very “episodic” in its use. 7/7 bombings generated many videos and images. Weather stories are fantastic generators of video, as the Olympics might well be, but he was involved in an intense legal discussion about the International Olympic Committee‘s rules… It’s a great event to think, that aside. Find the right project – set up a project team if you can – or sometimes great entrepreneurial journalists will come and show you how to do it.

Stopping people reinventing the wheel is a bug challenge at The Guardian, says Joanna. They have lots and lots of ways of getting people involved internally, including a digital project talked about at morning conference twice a week. “Five minutes of honesty”. They have lunchtime sessions, and are planning on :”community clinics”. E-mails go around from the community team highlighting those who have done well.

Just because something new comes along doesn’t mean you need to use all of it. For example, says Raju, Google+’s hangout are of great value. You don’t have to use all of it.

Joanna highlights the difference between business press – who (in theory) know who their audience are – and nationals, who often don’t, and who need to figure that out.

Mark Jones from Reuters points out that many journalists feel uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with their audiences, and struggle to move from broadcast to network mindset. Alex thinks it absolutely matters. For regional press to succeed, they have to be at the heart of their communities – and that means explaining the principles of interaction to their journalists without using jargon. They need to understand it’s a non-negociable, but give them a range of ways of doing it.

Joanna thinks journalists get confused because of mixed messages. The priority benefit isn’t the finical one – it’s bringing more people to your story to make it better. That’s engagement in Alan’s mind. If you’re asking people to do new things, it’s incumbent on you to show them why it’s important. Get your engagement pompoms on.

Present company excepted – journalists are incredible vain. Celebrate the champions, and everyone else notices it, says Martin.

cory haik of the Washington Post

Cory Haik, executive producer, The Washington Post – @coryhaik

What does she do?

They’re always in beta – iterating, prototyping, liveblogging, et al. They’re trying to deliver strong, dynamic journalism to readers where they are – and that’s why they need to keep experimenting and innovating. 

They have a local audience – and an international one. They’re busy – but they’re defiantly shipping.

They’re focused on things like mobile, social, data, partnerships and community/engagement.

The @mentionmachine monitors Twitter for mentions of candidates. It appears at the bottom pf page, showing how many mentions of the US presidential candidates have appeared over the last 24 hours. You can click through to dig into the data – and it was an in-house build. They like to think its raising awareness of social as a critical part of reporting in both the newsroom and amongst the audience.

Social Reader – frictionless sharing! It invites you to discover what your friends are reading, and personalises based on your interests. When you opt into the app, you agree to share with Facebook, and the stories you read show up to your friends there. 

Data and open apis – White House Visitors Log: The Obama administration is the first to release this data, and they do it every month, with a three month delay. The WP built a tool on the API sharing the data allowing users to drill down by names or interests, and click through to the details. Their developers built a service that continually calls the government web service until they’re up to date, which stores the data, and which only uses open source software. They intend to publish that service so others can use it.

“All the web will be the mobile web” An app they’re proud of – the iPad Politics app. Polls, maps of where the latest adverts are appearing, and all the best expert commentary. Summaries of the stances of the candidates of major issues. They graphically display how candidate’s position shift. Oh, and a historical record of who won ever state through every presidential election in US history.

Investigative journalism – capitol assets. Mapping earmarks for public money into particular schemes. You can drill down even to street level. It was “quite viral” when launched. 

Embracing and engaging in the conversation: Back in November, when the Republican nominations started, they asked users and reported to use instagram to take photos for the elections, using a particular hashtag. That led to hundreds of photos with date, time and geo-data. Socialcam – will be used by Washington Post reporters and readers to cover the Olympics – and will be displayed on the WP site through an API that SocialCam built from them. 

She was challenged by Marc from the BBC College of Journalism about “iFanism” – designing for the iPad and nothing else. “Responsive design is the answer to most of that, and that’s where we’re moving”. They have a pretty good chance of being there in 2013. They aim to build for mobile first and allow the site to adapt upwards to larger screen sizes from there. 

She likes to think that she works with a “disruption layer” across the site. The kind of people that work in that need a varied skill set. Journalism first, an idea of how technology works on a conceptual level. They need people in the newsroom who can speak the language of developers. They’re trying to integrate agile into the newsroom. They have a new mobile project coming that they’ve done in an agile way, and will launch in an iterative beta. The Post wants to talk to people interested in that.