Thursday, 21 April 2011

Why live blogging and curation offer a renaissance for subs and their art

I've just done a guest post for Fiona Cullinan, who runs a great blog called  Subs' Standards, and thought I'd reproduce it here, with Fiona's set up:
Last week I discovered Andy Bull on Twitter. Andy is a former national newspaper journalist who went on to become editorial director of AOL UK and editor of The Times Online. Now a multimedia trainer, he’s been trying out the recent rack of curation tools to tell a story (here he is on Scoop.It; here I am on Bundlr).
Further conversations led me to ask Andy to write Subs’ Standards’ first guest blog. It’s a great read and will hopefully inspire sub-editors who are in transition from print. If this is you, or you are digital subbing already, or you’d like to guest-post, please get in contact via comments or email me at fionacullinan at hotmail dot com.
There weren’t many pleasures working for the Daily Mail.
One was to see the splash sub at work on the night of a very big story: the sort that turned from 1 to 2, 3, 4 and 5.
To see the many ingredients being fed to him, and those items diced, sliced and fed into the sort of seamless read-through of a big and complex story that the Mail excels at, was a joy. Or what passed for joy in that torture chamber.
That skill came to mind when I was working on tuition on Curation and Live Blogging for my training book and website, Multimedia Journalism: A Practical Guide.
Curation is getting a lot of attention these days, as is live blogging.’s live blogs won it 3.6 million new unique users last month [March 2011].

Yet while curation and live blogging are seen by some as new skills, and ones particularly suited to the new ways of reporting being developed for the web, it strikes me that they are infact very well-established skills indeed.
The sort of skills that any good sub has in spades.
Generally, the move to online news has not been kind to the art of sub-editing. It’s often considered an expendable link in the chain from reporter to (web) page. I don’t happen to agree with that, and I have the many typos on my website to support my view.
But I do think curation and live blogging offer great prospects for sub-editors. After all, what they involve is, rather than a lot of direct reporting, the selection, editing and mashing up of all sorts of inputs, from both professional and citizen journalists – or what I prefer to call eye-witnesses.
Any good sub can excel at these, and I believe subs should seize the opportunities offered by such developments in online media to underline their usefulness and carve out a redefined role for themselves.
To re-brand yourself from sub to curator and live blogger might even make management see you in a new light.

Footnote: Andy Bull offers an e-learning conversion course for print journalists, which gives practical experience in applying traditional skills to the new multimedia and mobile publishing platforms. You’ll find the details here.
Need a guest post? Let me know, and I'll be happy to help if I can

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The power of How

Here’s a demonstration of the power of how.
I use Timely to publish some of my tweets, and the performance data Timely gives you is a useful insight into which tweets have worked – in terms of getting clicks and retweets – and which have not.
Looking through that data I discovered a theme – that tweets with a How in them tended to do better than those without.For example, a plain-statement tweet got no clicks, but "How to work for Empire Magazine" got 19:
Of the following three tweets, "Secrets of the journalist-entrepreneurs: How they built their own jobs" got 18 clicks and three retweets that took my reach from 676 up to 3,349; "Adam Westbrook on how to build your own job in journalism" (from an interview with Adam, who is always a popular name to put in a tweet) got 27 clicks, three retweets and a reach of 3,349.
The dud was: "Journo or jobsworth? Why not build your own job in journalism?" With no clicks:
By contrast, "How to thrive as a freelance" got 28 clicks and I retweet. But “Your first job in broadcasting – advice from industry experts" got zilch:
The free version of Timely I’m using doesn’t give me the location of those who click on and retweet my posts, but I’m guessing the 64 who clicked, nine of those who retweeted “How group curation works on Wikipedia” at 5.46am UK time were actually overseas:
The other thing the successful tweets have in common is, I guess, a promise of value. I think the anomaly of my most successful tweet that doesn’t have a How in it – “ – a great tool for journalists who want to curate a topic long-term” - with 79 clicks, six retweets and a reach of 3,927 -  is down to that:
So now I’ll promote this blog post with a series of tweets via Timely, using How in some but not others, and if the results are illuminating I’ll update this post accordingly.