Posts Tagged 'newspapers'

Big changes for The Birmingham Post – reaction round-up

We’re just come back from a big announcement about the future of Trinity Mirror Midlands, part of that was a major announcement about the future of The Birmingham Post.

I think I want some of the dust to settle before blogging my own thought (and don’t want to gazump my Editor!), but I thought I’d provide a bundle of links to other people talking about what is happening.

I will post my thoughts a bit later, so if you want to leave some questions in the comments, I’ll try and answer them. Suffice to say there are some very interesting times ahead.

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A “dangerous question”: Why don’t reporters write headlines?

It’s the question I asked on Twitter yesterday.

Some people found it a perfectly comfortable question to debate, others seemed to find it irritating.

If I am being naive then I would dearly love someone to fill me in.

So far, my thinking is that reporters do not write headlines because of the nature of print production i.e. because they are not the ones that lay the story out on a page and therefore do not know what space they have/what other articles are on there.

It surely can’t be because reporters are not expected to grasp spelling, punctuation and grammar?!

The public responses to my question (or the ones that I could find on Twitter Search) are copied and pasted below in reverse chronological order. (Wouldn’t it be lovely to have an app that collated responses to you on Twitter over a specified period of time.)

What every regional journalist needs to hear about their industry…

In this Seesmic post Kevin Anderson, Blog Editor for The Guardian and co-author of Strange Attractor, pretty much covers many of the things I’ve wanted to say, but better:

Kevin Anderson on Seesmic

Kevin Anderson on Seesmic

He is answering a question posed by Birmingham City University’s Paul Bradshaw – with recent job freezes/cuts at UK newspapers, is there any point in universities running journalism degrees training students for the newspaper and broadcasting industries?

“The Collaborator”? Naming Newspapers 2.0

This evening I had that very rare and precious of things: time on my hands. But, unfortunately, it appears that when given space to think I don’t always use it that wisely.

As I was pounding on the cross-trainer in the gym my mind definitely wandered.

Ignoring some of the more fundemental historical reasons for their being, it occurred to me that many newspaper names in this country might be accused of reinforcing the “we shout, you listen” mentality.

The Post, although I hope developing a reputation to the contrary, is a case in point.

Then there’s The Mail, The Mercury (the winged messenger of the Gods no less!), The Standard, The Telegraph… even The Guardian seems a little paternalistic.

So, I mused, in this brave new world of crowd-sourcing, participation and reader inclusion what should a news publicaton be called?

The Consult? The Listener?

The we-try-and-take-your-opinions-into-account-but sometimes-we-run-out-of-time-er?

I plumped for “The Collaborator”.

It did, however, occur to me that this didn’t sound very Web 2.0 in comparison to the many new social media applications springing up across the interwebs.

Perhaps it would be better to design a cute little mascot-cum-logo and give the publication a title such as “Storeez” or “Gnewz” (oddly gnewz.com goes to the campaign website of Douglas Geiss, Democratic candidate for State Representative Committee in Michigan).

Interaction on business news websites

I’m writing an essay at the moment for my Editorial Leaders course I’m doing at UCLAN.

I’m trying to figure out how people get news from websites, what tools they want and what might make them stick around for longer.

Over the past few days I’ve been putting together a spreadsheet looking at the interactive features used by business news websites in the UK.

The study is based on the 2006 study of American newspapers by the Bivings Report. Most of the categories I have kept the same, although I’m adding some that were included in the South African version of the study (undertaken by my tutor at UCLAN, Francois Nel).

I have also added three more categories: the first is the use of interactive tools such as maps to illustrate a story. The seond is that the site provides a clear list of names and contact details of the editorial team to allow for transparency and accountability. The third is a check to see if any are on Twitter – I know it’s not yet a mass communication device but I think it’s a good indicator of those who are thinking about the development of the market.

The first [second] draft graphs I have drawn up are is below – I’m hoping I haven’t missed out too many things (click on the graphs to see them full size):

Use of interactive features by UK national and regional business news websites:

:Interactive features used by UK business news websites

So, what do you think? There’s an indication that regional news is a little behind the nationals when it comes to interactive features – but some regionals, such as The Post and LDP Business are catching up.

I think there are a few limitations with the categories that are provided and naming individual elements of interactivity does not necessarily give you a strong insight into the experience of the user (e.g. there’s no point having video if no one can figure out how to get to it).

So, how is your experience of a news site improved, or indeed made worse, by interactive tools?

Also, there are a lot of new tools that have now emerged since this study was first done in 2006. As news websites are still not adopting all the features listed in the Bivings Report, it is still valid, but I’m interested to know if there are tools that you think this study is missing. One I’m quite impressed with is the article history feature The Guardian now uses on the bottom of its stories.

Also, are there any similar studies out there?

At the end of it I have to make some sort of conclusion about what works, what doesn’t and what tools newspaper sites might use in the future.

[Edit: Further to comments on Paul Bradshaw’s blog, similar studies were conducted in 2006 in Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and in the UK.]

Why news orgs might “recycle” global stories

Too rough to appear on Qik today, so I brought in my understudy:


Executive summary: Thoughts on the Project for Excellence in Journalism report on the state of the news media. News organisations recycle world stories because of the way that sites are funded. Because they want to generate clicks, they will throw up articles on popular stories just to attract people to their site.

The video on Qik is here (Qik now sends videos direct to Youtube – but I’m surprised that there is no Qik branding on the video…)

Newspapers suck at SXSWi

GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

*Sigh*

Right, well I have just wasted 20 minutes of my last day at SXSW watching what was the most dire representation of the newspaper industry I could have possibly witnessed at a world-leading conference on interactivity.

I will have to come back to who was the speaker and what was the title, because right now the need to rant overtakes the need to Google for that particular information.

The talk was by a 36-year-old US journalist who is trying to help his colleagues embrace new platforms and get to grips with the power of the social Internet.

The executive summary (before I walked out) was:

“Print is dead.”

“Time is running out.”

“It’s real hard to get journalists to blog.”

“Change isn’t happening fast enough.”

“I don’t know what the solution is.”

Well… that’s useful. I can think of at least half a dozen people who could have produced a more insightful assessment of the industry as it currently stands. I might even be so bold as to say I could have done better.

First of all, let’s stop saying that the Internet is the death of print. It is not. The Internet is the death of some print. There will always be a need to place words in places where screens can’t go. Plus text is harder to read on the screen so, for long articles, print is always going to be a more comfortable experience.

But t’s true that a large swathe of news is being repackaged into a sharper, more condensed form making it easier for busy people with busy lives to learn what they need to know quickly. This is the sort of news that needs to be taken out of print and put onto the Internet, rather than print.

The other thing is that “time is running out”. Running out for who, exactly? Running out for newspaper groups? Well, I suspect they are well aware revenues are declining and, if they don’t get their income from newspapers, then they’ll get it from elsewhere and dispose of or wind up anything that makes a loss. Running out for newspapers? Maybe… Running out for some journalists? Yes.

Yes it is really hard to get journalists to blog – mainly becuase they are tied into the busy regime of producing an outdated newspaper and see a blog post as extra work. The hard part is finding the space for them to take time out of that treadmill to realise they need to look at their work in a new way. Once you do that, and once you explain how blogging can connect you directly to readers, most are pretty open to the idea of using the platform.

I simply can’t understand all this negativity associated with the change that is happening to the newspaper industry at the moment. There are lots of things to feel positive about: blogs can help you improve your stories through reader feedback and contribution, video can help you build trust between you and the reader, mashups can help provide readers with richer data and information on the areas and topics that they are most interested in.

Those people that get this stuff right, have a bright future. I wish we’d start looking forward rather than constantly peddling the message of doom and gloom.


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