Posts Tagged 'Birmingham Mail'

Birmingham Mail relaunch

So, one of the rather major things that happened last week was that our sister paper, The Birmingham Mail, launched its new website.

Snazzy, eh? A big improvement, certainly. The coverage so far from the Press Gazette, journalism.co.uk and holdthefrontpage seems pretty good too.

Bounder has also provided some fantastic constructive criticism. This made me smile:

One problem that illustrates the peculiarity and the difference about content online is the journalists/subs use of “today”, “tomorrow” etc. in headlines – we don’t have the context online that we have with the physical copies “is that today’s Mail?”. Use of airy times online, where content can stay on a page for longer, means that “FOUR unsigned Midland bands are battling it out in Birmingham tonight” can’t work.

Sometimes it is the most simple of things that can elude us.

Now it is no secret, and in fact is announced in the above articles, that the new Birmingham Post website is due to launch this month. As part of the preparations, I’m going to move off of editorial for a few weeks and help with the website project.

It’s also no secret that the basic template that The Post site will use will be the same as The Mail, although we do have a certain amount of room for manoeuvre.

So, with the Mail doing the hard part and launching first, I’d be interested in what, if anything, we could do better?

Obviously, I can’t promise that it’ll be possible to implement it (we are already working from the suggestions that were given here previously). But, well, in the spirit of friendly rivalry it would be nice if we could do a little better than them!

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A new Post & Mail?

The current Post & Mail building on Weaman StreetI’ve been putting off this post because it covers so many things I hardly know where to start.

December was a strange month for me because this blog somehow got me into the group of people developing the new Birmingham Post website (there will be an update on this soon – promise!).

After taking us back in from the cold, I think Trinity Mirror decided it better do something interesting with us… and quickly. I guess the planned move to Fort Dunlop made for the perfect opportunity.

Since then, things have got a little crazy around here.

The laptop is part of it. Apparently, when we all move over to our new site at Fort Dunlop, everyone will be swapping their antiquated Mac Classics for one of these Compaq 6710bs. I suspect the good battery life and the 3G connection are all part of the plan to make Post & Mail journalists more flexible and mobile. From what I’ve heard (although I don’t know for sure) this leapfrogs us over most other Trinity Mirror publications in the technology stakes.

The reason I have my laptop early is because tomorrow I start a new distance learning postgraduate course. It is a Trinity Mirror collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and is built around the university’s Journalism Leaders Programme.

It’s in its second term, but two people dropped out and it was decided that one person from The Post and another from The Mail should take up the places. As part of the recent madness, I got asked if I wanted to do it. Well…it was a bit of a no brainer really.

Seminars for the course happen online and that’s why I got the laptop early. I needed a machine that could cope with online conferences. The first seminar is tomorrow afternoon… and I’m nervous. It’s like the first day of school again.

The course looks at the transition of the newsroom as a result of converging technologies and investigates what is required to manage that change… or at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it.

It’s quite a big thing to take on, with at least eight to ten hours of study expected each week. We also have residential weeks every couple of months that seem fairly intense.

But of course I’m excited about it – three months ago I was utterly despairing at the backward technology we have here, now I’m being asked to go on a training course that not only deals with current developments, but also looks to the future. Who wouldn’t be excited?!

There are other things going on around here that suggest to me we’re rapidly time travelling from 1998 to 2008. A rather lovely shiny new Mac has appeared on a desk near to me and a few people are fresh back from video training.

I am under no illusions that fast-forwarding a decade is going to have its problems. You can’t expect people who have been working on Mac OS9 for at least the last seven years to suddenly switch to a completely new system (and continue producing a paper) without a few teething troubles.

But we are finally moving towards the sort of operation I’ve been longing to work for since I arrived and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Danny Reddington

Phil Vinter, video journalist at the Birmingham Mail has posted up an interesting interview with Dan Reddington (of Reddington’s Rare Records fame) about his old shop and a penpal friendship he had with Reggie Kray!

I’m becoming convinced that this “hearing the person behind the story” is one of the few ways videos on newspaper sites can work really well.

Alfie the opera budgie

I’m planning to buy a little camcorder to play around with videos on this blog, so I thought I’d check out the videos produced by our sister paper the Birmingham Mail.

The paper employed their video journalist Phil Vinter a few months ago and they have been playing around with the medium ever since, trying to find out what works for the paper.

I think some videos work better than others, but this particular one  had me in hysterics (it would be nice if I could embed it, can I?). It’s all about Alfie the budgerigar who can, apparently, sing along to Il Divo. A slow news day perhaps?


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