Posts Tagged 'Paul Bradshaw'

My Second Birmingham Post Column

Ok, so this is something I’ve never done before (and it may get me in trouble).

Below is a copy of the (unsubbed) version of my column that will go into The Birmingham Post tomorrow.

I wanted to put it here so that people could add comments to it and I could link to it in Del.icio.us before the article was published.

As was pointed out to me, 600 words is never enough, and there is a lot I’ve missed out. So please help me add to it!

There is something I want to share with you. Something that I don’t think a lot of people know:

Journalists are people too.

They are. Honest!

But I doubt you’ll believe me. I am, after all, a journalist.

As a collective body, we seem to be ranked in the public consciousness as something akin to pond life… except a little less trustworthy.

There are numerous surveys placing journalists amongst the ranks of used-car salesmen, estate agents and, heavens forfend, politicians when it comes to trust.

Yet there are many that joined journalism because they wanted to be the trusted, responsible champion of the people.

So what makes people so convinced that, at the drop of a hat, us reporters are willing to lie, cheat and sell our grandmothers for a story?

A straw poll of contacts and friends on micro-blogging service Twitter (an interesting platform that I will delve into more on in a future column) offered up a few explanations:

  • Because some of them are plain untrustworthy – remember Hillsborough and Viglen?”

  • Most who’ve had an article written about them can see how many mistakes get made.”

  • Because when you have a 600 word limit something always gets left out.”

  • Lack of accountability.”

  • Tabloid digging into private lives.”

These show, collectively, we journalists have a long way to go before we are considered even as trustworthy as the ordinary man on the street.

But it is the man on the street that journalists have to worry about in the shiny new world of digital media.

In March, I was lucky enough to be part of a small team of young, West Midland “media types” sent to the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, by Advantage West Midlands-funded project Digital Central.

The conference, which originally started as a music festival, is fast becoming known as a premier event attracting the top international talent in digital media.

My fellow attendees were all “early adopters”. Whether they be housewives, techies or students, they are the ones surfing the crest of the digital wave, the first to adopt all the new and shiny tools and applications that the web has to offer.

Many of them write blogs or produce their own videos, but what shocked me was the ability of some of them to command audiences in the thousands or tens of thousands.

When I asked them how they did it, the answer was pretty uniform: They were trusted and they were “part of a conversation”.

This conversation may be had through blogs, video or audio podcasts, but the fundamental idea is that their audience has redress and can correct and build upon the original work.

By opening up in this way, and by acknowledging their readers as real people, they show themselves to real too – something journalists have avoided in the pursuit of an ideal of objectivity, or a belief that their opinions and writing should command authority.

But these digital pioneers shaping a future for online media are demonstrating that, above all, trust is where it’s at.

The old model of distance between journalist and reader is going to have to change.

It is something The Birmingham Post has been investigating over recent months with the launch of its blogs, its experimentation with social bookmarking service Del.icio.us and Twitter.

By realising that they are just one – hopefully well-researched, well-written and interesting – part of a bigger conversation, journalists have a chance of raising themselves out of the pond and – hopefully – becoming seen as the trusted champions they really should be.

To see some of the websites that helped to inform this column or to respond, please visit http://del.icio.us/joannageary/column2

My graph is going to be published!

The graph I created looking at the interactive features of UK business news websites has recieved a surprising amount of attention in recent weeks.

I had put it online to get some feedback, but it was picked up by Paul Bradshaw, who then wrote an article on it for Poynter Online. Then the study was replicated in Romania!

Now the World Editors’ Forum has contacted me and asked if I would let them publish it in their annual report!

Of course, I said yes but I want to wait to get my essay reviewed first before I give the final ok. Plus, I have changed the graph a bit and added another website (click on the graph to see the full-size version):

Graph showing the online tools used by UK regional and national business news websites.

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Being slightly on the nervous side, and having never published anything like this before, I’d appreciate anyone willing to give it a quick squiz to see if they see any glaring mistakes

I have had suggestions that I should by grouping the online tools (e.g. subscriptions, comments) by colour, but I have tried and this seems to confuse the graph. I would, if I had more time, like to regroup the categories into those that encourage “short tail” repsonses from users and those that encourage a “long tail” response. (Read more about these concepts on Paul Bradshaw’s description of the News Diamond).

Oh, and if people are more interested in the popularity of online tools amongst business news sites, this graph may be better (again, click to enlarge):

Graph to show the popularity of online tools amongst regional and nation business news websites in the UKg

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The Birmingham Post’s Twittevolution

I’m wondering if this is the first time a UK newspaper – or indeed any UK business – has decided and debated a policy entirely online and on a public platform? Please let me know!

It started with a tweet. This one:

First tweet

And then the whole thing snowballed, with my editor, Marc Reeves, publicly stating that he wanted The Birmingham Post to be the first UK newsroom fully signed up to Twitter:

first reactions

Of course, such a statement wasn’t going to be ignored by those with an interest in online journalism: namely Paul Bradshaw from Birmingham City University and author of the Online Journalism Blog and Martin Stabe from the Press Gazette. There were two other tweets that I couldn’t find. One was Paul Bradshaw saying: “@marcreeves, can I quote you on that?” and another was a response from Marc: “@paulbradshaw gulp. go on then”:

follow up reactions

So… from one tweet from me, The Birmingham Post has developed a policy to be the first UK newspaper to have all its journalists sign up to Twitter and decided to embark on a training programme for its journalists.

Then… after a little while… the policy was signed off by Editorial Director of Trinity Mirror’s regionals, Neil Benson (who, it appears, was also having a spot of bother with his iPhone):

Neil Benson's reaction

From tweet to twittevolution. All in a day’s work off sick!!

Enviromental journalism: question for BCU students

This afternoon I’m popping down to Birmingham City University to meet Paul Bradshaw‘s group of online journalism students.

They’ve been doing some fascinating work on developing an environmental news service, with each of them specialising in a different subject area.

Environmental news is close to my heart. I would love The Post to be giving more coverage to stories on sustainability.

But it’s also one of those subject areas that many readers regard with great suspicion. Look at The Times guide to the most popular environmental stories of 2007 and you’ll see what I mean.

So, I guess the big question is, can you write environmental stories in a way that builds trust between you and the reader? Is the current suspicion surrounding climate change – for example – caused by media sensationalism or poor scientific reporting? Perhaps it’s neither, maybe it’s just human nature to respond to environmental stories with suspicion.

I certainly don’t know the answer. But in a world where the hegemony of large news corporations is increasingly challenged, the issue of maintaining trust as a way to maintain audience is critical.

And, I suspect, if you find a way to crack the hardest nut of trust and environmental reporting, then you have probably struck gold.

What videos by The Post will not look like…

…otherwise I will be hanging my head in shame.

This was dug up by Paul Bradshaw on his Online Journalism Blog and is the 60-second update from the Reading Evening Post:

[Edit: Is it just me or can you hear a female voice saying “lovely jubbley” at the end of the piece?!]

And it seems the crazy transitions and cutting your reporters’ off before they’ve finished are both techniques employed elsewhere on their site:

I don’t blame the journos though (although someone has terrible taste in music and graphics). This smacks of poor training. Notice that the script sounds like it was written for print, not for video.

I hate the way that some people just expect that because you write the news you’re also going to be happy with and capable of presenting it on camera. It’s not true. Personally I’m skin-crawling-ly uncomfortable infront of a lens. I realise it’s something I will have to get used to and, when the inevitable comes, I hope, at the very least, I will have been given the right training to help me do it.

Metatwitter

Paul Bradshaw defines Twitter in an interview… via Twitter.

The post starts in German, but Paul’s bit is in English:

halbluchs: @paulbradshaw what makes twitter so popular and addictive? is it just a hype or is it more?

paulbradshaw: @halbluchs the same things that have made texting so popular: brevity, connectivity, control.

Worth a read, especially for journos who are trying to figure out the best way to use Twitter in their jobs.

NUJ Multimedia Commission

The report is out! But, I must confess, I haven’t read it yet.

At the moment I’m trapped between writing up my trip to Geneva, preparing two weeks of media & marketing stories, completing the registration for a postgraduate course and preparing to go to Hong Kong on Sunday (I know! I will tell all soon!).

However, Paul Bradshaw picks up on some interesting bits of the NUJ report. Press Gazette also covers it and so does the Guardian. There is a lot I want to say, but I want to hold out until I’ve read the whole report (something for the plane perhaps?!).

Also, I’ve been really interested in the creative director for Birmingham debate that has taken place of late and will have more to say on that very soon. I read the posts by Stef and Paul with interest. There have been a few developments and I’ll fill you in on these soon too.

Sorry for the poor post!


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