Posts Tagged 'birminghamUK'



Preston: Day 1

Phew! The first day of the residential is over. So, before a large glass of wine helps me to forget everything we’ve learnt today, I thought I better write a few quick notes.

The biggest thing for me was how much technology is out there that journalists should and could be using right now.

I remember being very impressed when playing with Google Earth on a friend’s iPhone – the GPS functions was stunning (Any rich person got an iPhone going spare btw? I’d love one, but can’t afford it!). It was brought home to us today that in just a few months everyone will have mobile GPS on their phones and will start expecting information to be geotagged. We should be doing that now!

Another one was mobile video. Here is another view of Preston (can’t get it to embed) and our lecturer Mark streaming video from his Nokia N95, which is now part of the mobile kit for all Reuters journalists.

Mark’s using Bambuser, which streams driectly to the web. It is still in alpha so, as with Seesmic, I’m going to have to put it on the list to play with later. But it made my head spin to think how easy it is to capture breaking news on mobile video and have it online instantly.

Other good sites to play with: Jaiku and ShoZu.

Right, off to the bar…

Preston

PrestonWell, I’m here at the Holiday Inn, Preston. Just thought I’d share the view from my room. Great, huh?

To be fair, I’ve seen some very lovely buildings while getting lost in the one-way systems coming into the city. I don’t know much about Preston, but it seems ok.

I think the view from the hotel is just…well…unfortunate.

Trust and UGC

Ever since the coversation about Flickr, there has been an niggle in the back of my mind about some of the arguments out there that newspapers will cut staff to start to rely more heavily on blogs and other user-generated content [edit user-generated content = UGC].

It’s certainly a fear expressed by the NUJ, and by others. I can see their point and have said that, if profit-driven newspapers groups thought they could increase margins by relying more heavily on UGC, then it would probably happen.

But I’ve started to revise those thoughts of late. If the Flickr question taught me one thing it was that while journalists are debating how UGC will be used in the future, we are not at all sure about how the future content generators might feel about it.

Whilst the value of blogs as sources is, I think, beyond doubt, it doesn’t mean that the Internet is an orchard of social networks for newspapers to cherry-pick content at will… even if there is no legal reason why they shouldn’t.

For example, Flickr is designed for photo sharing. From the comments I’ve recieved, there should be nothing legally wrong with a newspaper providing a Flickr feed on its website. BUT just because it can, doesn’t mean it should or that people will like it if it does.

One of the problems is that we live in suspicious times. The media is badly mistrusted and, whilst people are happy to read about others in the newspaper, they are fearful about getting involved with it themselves. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard the lines: “Oh you’re a journalist, so what lies are you going to make up today?” or I’ve had to spend considerable time convincing people that I am, in fact, not going to stitch them up. Personally, it’s insulting, but then that’s the regard our industry is held in.

I suppose, once upon a time, with an army of dedicated readers and no Internet, it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference to sales if one reader was upset. Now they are a potential content generator, the situation is different. Not only will a lack of trust make it difficult to obtain content, it could also mean that if a paper appears to be doing something else that fits the untrustworthy stereotype, the news and damage will spread.

For example: A paper develops a Flickr feed without building trust in the Flickr community. It has done nothing legally wrong, but it is tapping into a community that will not all be fully paid up subscribers to that newspaper. Therefore, the default position of mistrust is likely to stand and the assumption may be that the newspaper is trying to profit at the expense of unpaid photogrpahers.

The understandable result is that Flickr members get angry and start pulling their photos from the group. They then replace these with offensive photoshopped versions telling that paper exactly were to stuff its feed. Angry blog posts sprout up all over the place and, within days, you’ve alienated a community and, I imagine, the feed would have been taken down.

I don’t have an example of where that has yet happened, but its seems pretty plausible possiblity.

So if newspapers are serious about UCG, then they might have their work cut out. Unless they start getting out into local social netwoks and communities and start building up trust, they may find their UGC dream backfires.

The Davos Question

Just a few hours left to post a video to the Davos site on YouTube. The point of The Davos Question is to get people offering up ideas of what would make the world a better place in 2008.

I think it’s a fantastic idea, although I’m slightly flummoxed by the execution. The videos are rated by YouTube users (I think that’s where the plan starts to fall down slightly) and the highest ranked will be screened at the World Economic Forum AGM in Davos this coming week.

The downside to this worthy idea is that the software is a bit confusing and, instead of hearing every submission, I find I’m picking and choosing based on video quality. It also, as you would expect, attracts some utter tosh and madness.

But there are some good videos tackling issues such as climate change and poverty. One interesting one talked about using social networking to re-engage people with the democratic process.

Brum Tig: I’m “It”

In a bid to draw attention to the plethora of interesting Birmingham blogs floating about on’t Internet, Jon Bounds of Birmingham: It’s Not Shit has started Brum blog tig.

The rules, according to Jon, are:

  • Each player starts with an odd, but fun, fact about Brum and one odd, but fun, fact about their blog.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose two people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Tag your post “birminghamUK” and “brumblogtig” (the second one is a memetag).
  • People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (with their version of the post) and post these rules (or link to them here). They can tie it in with their particular subject if they so wish.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So my Brum fact:

Did you know that the lifts in the Mailbox each have different voices recorded by people from BBC Birmingham? One of them is definitely John Craven, although I’m yet to figure out who the others are!

(As an aside, over the way in Walsall Art Gallery the “voice of the lifts” is Noddy Holder)

And my blog fact:

According to a colleague, I technically could have been fired for starting this blog. Somewhere in my contract – apparently – there’s a clause about not publishing information about my employer, or something like that.

It was lucky that, when I decided to start blogging a little over three months ago, I didn’t think to look at my contract. It was doubly lucky that, when the people I worked for found out about the blog, they supported it instead of giving me my P45!

I’m tagging Tom Lennon and Bunny Bissoux.

My bank has just sent me a lifestyle magazine!

Dear Miss Geary

Do your new year’s resolutions tend to go in one ear and out the other? It’s my great pleasure to introduce Sense, our magazine for people who like to make the most of life and their money. From expert tips on managing the work-life balance to creating more space with inventive storage ideas or financing that much-needed extension, I hope it will help to make life better in 2008.

Alongside an exclusive profile of Nicole Kidman, you’ll find top spas put through their pampering paces, a prize draw for a luxury holiday in Thailand and advice on delicious healthy eating. And as you attend to your waistline, there’s help on getting your finances into shape too with an expert look at lending and an easy how-to guide to the stock market…

WTF?! My BANK is profiling Nicole Kidman, giving me home furnishing advice and telling me what to eat?!

Personally, I’m rather weirded out by this.

What I’m going to do with the Flickr feedback

As the flow of comments has started to slow on the Flickr post, I thought I’d let you all know what I plan to do next!

Over the next few weeks (after I’ve finished my first assignment), I’ll start collating the comments. I think what has come out from the discussion is going to be applicable to a lot of the other things I wanted to looking at for the website project.

I had just assumed (naively, perhaps) that because people were happy for bloggers to link to their work (as long as they were credited), they would also be happy for a site like The Birmingham Post to link to it too.

This, however, doesn’t seem to be completely the case. Most of the concern seems to come from the belief that – as we are a commercial publishing operation – any and all the material we link to on the web must be paid for.

I can understand that point, but I think the distinction between commercial and non-commercial spaces on the Internet needs to be looked at in more detail. Not that I’m going to do that right here and now – the comments have given me way too much to mull over!

In my head, I saw The Birmingham Post website as a place to go for news and opinion, but also as a (sorry to use this word) gateway to Brum’s professional and creative communities on the web. I still see it that way, but I now realise I need to look at how I’m going to do that in more depth.

But please keep the comments coming in, I really want to get to grips with this.

Today and the Internet

I’ve just heard the oddest piece on Radio 4′s Today programme. [Edit: According to Martin Stabe, it was by a media commentator called Steve Hewlett, which explains a lot. You can listen again.]

I think it was supposed to be a news report but, uncharacteristically of Today, it made absolutely no effort to even try and appear objective.

It came across as an appeal, nay a plea, to Radio 4 listeners and BBC executives to support and preserve the station’s current methods of compiling the news agenda.

It looked at the most read stories on the BBC website last year and made the rather obvious point that, just because they were popular, didn’t mean they were the most important stories.

I would have thought BBC executives would have understood that “most read” and “most emailed” stories are more a reflection on the kind of material people will link to on the web, rather than its importance. Don’t they? From this piece it suggests they don’t.

The tone was one of “big bad web” and there was also mention of 4radio, so perhaps it was a rallying cry to try and encourage listeners to stay loyal.

But, to be honest, if Today had an important point to make about the web, I think I missed it.

Could The Post website use Flickr?

I have said before that the Birmingham Flickr group is a wonderful thing, and I know that others appreciate it too.(thanks CiB for the link).

There are so many fantastic pictures of Brum on Flickr, I would like to see the new Birmingham Post website showing and linking to them. It would certainly help showcase the talent we have in the city.

Indeed, it is something that was suggested when I asked for ideas for the new site.

But not everyone in the Birmingham Flickr community is going to want The Birmingham Post publishing their picture on our website. We wouldn’t have the right to do so anyway, unless we contacted the photographer first to get express permission, or they had relinquished all their IP rights (which is very rare).

So, what could be the solution? Pete Ashton suggests that The Post creates it’s own Flickr group, which people submit Birmingham photos to on the understanding that they may be used in a certain context on The Post website and will, of course, be credited.

But I wonder, with the plethora of specialist groups out there on Flickr, how keen are photographers going to be to submit to a Birmingham Post group?

Any advice and ideas from members of Flickr, and particularly the Birmingham Flickr group, would be gratefully received.

A passion for fashion: The Birmingham News

An advertisment for Birmingham Alabama’s newspaper, The News, from 1977. Perhaps we should be doing our own version for The Birmingham Post? “A passion for business and local politics,” it doesn’t really have the same ring to it…

[Edit: and what exactly is that man hiding in his jacket that makes the woman laugh when he turns around? I'm intrigued.]


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