Thursday, 29 January 2009

How journalists should behave on Facebook

The New York times recognises Facebook as a great hunting found for stories, but is worried about the dangers its journalists can expose themselves and their paper to when there.

The Poynter Institute got hold of the managing editor's warning memo to staff on how to behave on this and other social networking sites.

It amounts to a manifesto for taking - grab any good stories you spot - but not giving. Journalists must not list their political affiliations and should be wary of expressing views: of editorialising as he puts it in the memo.

Why, even joining a group can be dangerous. Joining may be seen as condoning.

You can understand the caution, but journalists and newspapers really have a choice here.

Either we engage in a conversation with our readers and others, or we don't.

Being in a conversation requires us to reveal something of ourselves. If we don't, then the conversation is not real. And readers can spot, and will terminate, a one-sided exchange.

We either adapt to the new media way of things, or we don't. And if we don't, we're dead.

Nationalise the newspapers

With newspapers an endangered species, should they become non-profit endowed institutions? That's the suggestion in a New York Times op-ed piece.

How could that work over here? A BBC Times paid for from the licence fee?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Twitter is growing up

I know plenty of people think Twitter is more hype than substance, but the evidence is growing that it is becoming an important component of the web, how we use it, and how we find information.

For example, take the stat that 10 per cent of Twitter's downstream traffic - that is, where users go after Twitter - is BBC news. So it's clearly being used as a tool for finding out what's happening by a sizeable minority of users, not just for micro-blogging about the inconsequential.

Some users find it's the first place they go each day, even before RSS feeds. At Cybersoc they have set the ball rolling on a survey of how people use Twitter

The London Daily Telegraph has published a list of all its staff who use Twitter. Meanwhile, one twitterer set up a bogus Daily Mail Twitter account and, he claims, immediately got over 700 followers, which he says is about six times more than the "official" Daily Mail twitter. Actually it had 216 followers when I checked just now.

But who needs any of that when twitterers have their own online newspaper, which, it is intended, will be made up entirely of their tweets.

Yet there are signs that Twitter is outgrowing its 140-character content limit. So here comes TwitBlogs. Which is Twitter, only more. So are they diluting the USP, or is this a better form of blogging?

Monday, 26 January 2009

How YouTube makes money

Ever wondered how YouTube will make money? Just like Google it seems...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Standard RIP

Does anyone really believe The Standard is viable? Adrian Monk provides a very handy round up of opinion about the motives, connections and strategy of the Ruskie who has bought it, but it's all beside the point. A paid-for London evening paper is not going to survive.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Barack? is that you?

Now I guess this might not be the real Barack Obama on Twitter. But if it is , how come no one in his team tweeted anything during his inauguration speech, which has just ended?

Last post 19 hours ago.

So is that the end for Barack and Twitter, now he has the official White House press corps to do his bidding?

How journalists use company websites

Fascinating bulletin from Jacob Nielsen on how journalists use company websites, including eyetracking analsysis of how they ignore the flannel and focus on the facts. Particulary on the specifics.

It's as instructive for trainee journalists looking for information they can use in stories as it is for the PRs who ought to be dangling their hooks hoping to catch their interest.

Friday, 16 January 2009

New York plane crash pic is Twittered

A perfect example of the value of citizen journalism in a crisis. A plane goes down in the Hudson, and eyewitness Janis Krums takes a picture on his iPhone, sends it to his Twitter site with this linking comment: - There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.
It goes around the world.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

10 things to know in 2009

A sound rundown of multimedia essentials from

No comment

Comment on news stories: everyone wants it, few get much of it. Here are some thoughts from Invisible Inkling on how to get news rooms engaged in the comment process.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Time to start a newspaper

When stocks are low, you buy. When newspaper stocks are low, you start a newspaper. At least, that's what Seth says. And here's how he suggests it can be done.

How new media are you?

Now here's a challenge, from 10,000 words: "Are you a self-proclaimed media geek? Are you a social networking butterfly? Put your techno savvy to the test with this 12-question quiz. Take the test and find out...

My rating: "You know your way around the internet but you're no media guru. Your computer misses you when you are away."

Citizen video sparks a riot

Here's a powerful example of the impact that video shot by eye-witnesses can have on events

Three videos of the fatal shooting of a man by police were quickly posted on YouTube. The man appears to be unarmed and restrained as he is shot.

Raw video of the incident posted on the website of a local TV station was downloaded over 500,000 times in two days, according to Ed Chapuis, news director at KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California. Two days later over 100 people were arrested when a protest march turned violent.

The videos have played a critical role in the public interest in the incident, according to Chapuis: "You have the incident in question actually on tape," he says. "You've got multiple views of it. That's what's different and unusual about the case."

The Monitoring European Police blog comments: "The case - and the overall intense community response to it - highlights the impact technology can have on news events. The devices people carry in their pockets give them the ability to turn what would normally be a case played out in the courtroom into one in which anyone with an Internet connection can serve as judge and jury."

Friday, 9 January 2009

New York Time's up?

Great piece in The Atlantic about the shaky future of the New York Times.

The piece, by Michael Hirschorn, looks at the very real possibility that the paper could go online-only in the not too distant future, and estimates that such a product could only support about 20 per cent of the current journalistic costs.

Hirschorn's financal analysis is this: "Earnings reports released by the New York Times Company in October indicate that drastic measures will have to be taken over the next five months or the paper will default on some $400million in debt. With more than $1billion in debt already on the books, only $46million in cash reserves as of October, and no clear way to tap into the capital markets (the company’s debt was recently reduced to junk status), the paper’s future doesn’t look good."

So what future does he see for the brand?

"Forced to make a web-based strategy profitable, a reconstructed website could start mixing original reportage with Times-endorsed reporting from other outlets with straight-up aggregation. This would allow The Times to continue to impose its live-from-the-Upper-West-Side brand on the world without having to literally cover every inch of it.

"In an optimistic scenario, the remaining reporters—now reporters-cum-bloggers, in many cases—could use their considerable savvy to mix their own reporting with that of others, giving us a more integrative, real-time view of the world unencumbered by the inefficiencies of the traditional journalistic form.

readers might actually end up getting more exposure than they currently do to reporting resources scattered around the globe, and to areas and issues that are difficult to cover in a general-interest publication."

So there might be a plus side: "In this scenario, would begin to resemble a bigger, better, and less partisan version of the Huffington Post, which, until someone smarter or more deep-pocketed comes along, is the prototype for the future of journalism: a healthy dose of aggregation, a wide range of contributors, and a growing offering of original reporting."

Hirschorn concludes: "Ultimately, the death of The New YorkTimes—or at least its print edition—would be a sentimental moment, and a severe blow to American journalism. But a disaster? In the long run, maybe not."

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Journalism's digital future

That was the title of The Winter 2008 issue of Nieman Reports, house publication of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and the Nieman fellowships.

It's full of fascinating stuff, very effectively catalogued on Poynter by Maryn McKenna.

As she says in her post; if you read nothing else, look at this list of "10 ways to help newspapers transition to digital media" by Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group.

Here's Rousell's sell: "The probable elimination of a raft of second-tier newspapers during this economic downturn will provide a fertile environment for a new generation of digital media businesses to flourish. Here are 10 ways that will help newspapers make the transition to digital media companies."

Among that top 10 are:
  • invest more money in premium content—editorial that is unavailable elsewhere but that is highly valued by readers;
  • finance the additional spending on premium content by eliminating editorial costs in areas where [you] are unable to compete with the best on the web;
  • add value: look at a story from a number of angles, engage your audience, add multimedia;
  • create functionality that encourages readers to share eyewitness accounts of breaking news, rate services such as restaurants and hotels, and get into discussions and debates;
  • reporters on the ground are closest to your readers and best placed to conceive, create and nurture community web sites;
  • train editors to see video, photo galleries, graphics and maps as equal storytelling forms to text;
  • if the people who run your newsroom aren’t passionate about your digital future, it’s certain not to materialise; and
  • don’t be afraid of failure. Try new projects, see what works, and build on success.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Traditional publishing: RIP

Actually, let's see it more as a period of adjustment. Painful adjustment. We've all heard the argument: just as cinema didn't kill theatre and TV didn't kill radio, online won't kill print. Let's hope the lessons of history hold true.

Hugely valuable though, whatever the truth might prove to be, to see that a new site - Traditional Publishing Rest In Peace - is aggregating stories about closures and cutbacks in trad media. Someone had to do it.

Is there some pattern here? Are we just seeing the trad media equivalents of Woolworths and MFI - dinosaurs that failed to adapt - dying out? Too early to tell, I'd say, but the RIP site will help us decide.

It's aggregated links help us focus on what is happening.

The Telegraph's media editor says of the regional press: "Local newspaper advertising, dominated by property and motoring, has plummeted, not to mention the fact that regional newspaper groups have been slow to implement digital strategies."

Media Week charts the decline in magazines but forcasts: "If independent publishers are serving a niche, they will just scrape by."

Clearly magazines are suffering no less than newspapers. Ad pages have dropped 10 per cent and launches by 13 per cent.

According to Blogging Stocks: "Magazine publishers may have made the same mistake that newspapers did--they moved content to the web too late and did not staff up their online businesses fast enough."

Monday, 5 January 2009

Graduating without the right skills

Here's a sobering comment, on Poynter, from a journalism student who is about to graduate:

"I feel as though the industry I've been preparing to enter has changed drastically since the time I began college. The demands on reporters, as I see them, seem to lean toward someone who is at least competent in new media forms -- video, photography, audio, web production. My internships have put me somewhat in touch with what to expect, but at my most recent one I saw 10 people get fired on my last day. It was a chilling scene to leave with, and none too encouraging. My journalism department is working to restructure its program to better prepare students, but I'll be graduating as a product of the old model that didn't incorporate much multimedia training."

It's a challenge to the journalism training industry - me included - not to let this situation persist.

Journalist as brand

Maybe its the recession that is focusing minds - mine and others - on where we go from here.

The belief that things are becoming more granular, with the most enterprising and talented individual journalists establishing themselves as what we might -perhaps reluctantly - call brands, is gaining traction.

Here's an example from Sarah Lacy, from which I pluck this comforting piece of information: "I'm more successful working for myself than I was on staff for just one publication: income, name recognition, opportunities, amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And, while I'm not immune, I'm safer heading into this downturn than in the past because all my income doesn't hinge on one gig. In terms of journalism, it's way more successful. I have the challenge only to find great stories and tell them. And generally any story I love, I've got a platform for it."

But Sarah, who has thought about all this much more deeply than me, also gives a highly realistic assessment of the challenges involved in gaining brand status.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Dial 200999 for a media emergency

Perceptive analysis on the future for print and online in 2009 from Patrick Smith at Paid Content.

Let's face it, in 2009:
  • Print will shrink
  • Titles will close, merge or turn to online-only publication
  • Online-only will not prove viable for most titles
  • Subbing, some reporting and advertising will be outsourced, maybe off-shore
  • Online, which has already overtaken print as a news source, will close on TV
  • The rise of individual journalists as brands will continue, and that might just be good news

Friday, 2 January 2009

Twitter and YouTube go to war in Gaza

Up to now Twitter has been lauded as a platform for citizen journalism. Now the Israeli consulate in New York has become a player by launching its own Twitter stream where it draws attention to media articles it favours and seeks to rebut statements and comment that it does not.

Also, the Israeli army now has a YouTube channel on which it posts images of its assaults on Gaza.

Aljazeera presents its take, again via Twitter, with features including an interactive map.

Last year Wire declared blogging was dead because it had been adopted by professional journalists and others with easy access to traditional media. Smaller organisations and individuals were said to be turning to services such as Twitter and Facebook to get their voice heard.

The Mumbai terror attacks were one manifestation of that. This is a counter move to that, and shows no successful means of communication will be ignored by any group or organsiation with a message to get across.

Read more here.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Top multimedia projects of 2008

A great round-up of impressive multimedia projects from Regina McCombs of Poynter Online, including this on the economic downturn from the Washington Post and this on the US election from the New York Times, alongside some interesting map-based story telling about storms and the effects of a tornado on a community.

No wonder a major US survey has revealed that the web has overtaken newspapers as a news source and is closing on the leader - TV.

Which, along with the increasing number of publishers on both sides of the Atlantic that are scaling back their print products or even going entirely online, leads Journalcetera to comment: "Traditional journalism revenue models have collapsed in the face of the internet where users expect to get news and other information for free."