Posts Tagged 'The Guardian'

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?

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“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.]

Max Gogarty: A Warning?

Poor Max. Just 19 years old, fresh out of college, a summer trip planned and a writing career on the cards. Landing himself a blog on The Guardian website must have been the icing on the cake:

Hello. I’m Max Gogarty. I’m 19 and live on top of a hill in north London.

At the minute, I’m working in a restaurant with a bunch of lovely, funny people; writing a play; writing bits for Skins; spending any sort of money I earn on food and skinny jeans, and drinking my way to a financially blighted two-month trip to India and Thailand. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason.

Alas, Guardian website readers were not inclined to share in the clichés of the skinny jean-clad young-un. Even less so when it was revealed that Max was the son of occasional Guardian travel writer Paul Gogarty.

The comments were choice:

… As for skinny jeans , Max if ever you eat from the street you may wish you had something a little more baggy and easy to remove, alternatively you could take some nappies.
I’m not sure that the street vendors take Amex though.

You can have your first ladyboy experience in Thailand, but maybe you won’t journal that one, just look out for the adams apple.
Is this for the gold or silver DOE award?

Where are quentin, rupert and tiggy going to be? i’m sure the blackberry will keep you all in touch. (rowanblades)

and:

That clears that up then. I was initially baffled as to why Guardian Unlimited (a website/publication that I thought had a reasonable amount of integrity) would produce this dollop of crud. But it turns out that ol’ chesnut is to blame; nepotism. Ah sweet, sweet nepotism…how would society function without you?
(calleprofunda)

After the travel editor tried to placate the angry hoarde, moderators eventually decided to switch off comments altogether. The following day, the travel editor posted a defence of Max’s blog. That also recieved some interesting comments.

I think it is a good warning to newspapers to keep tighter control over the type of subjects and people that write for them in their blogs. Just because blogs are relatively cheap to publish doesn’t mean you have the freedom to publish anything and everything. Readers still expect to see something that makes sense in terms of the newspaper’s brand. Doing a “Max Gogarty” may be a way to encourage reader comments, but it’s not going to do your reputation any favours.

[This topic is dong the rounds on t’internet. Other posts include:
Emily Bell – The week that was – football links and other problems
One Man And His Blog – When Mainstream Media Goes Bad
Bete de Jour – Max Gogarty: The Ugly Side of Travelling
Travel Weekly: Guardian’s teenage travel blogger gets flamed
Wayne Type, 19 Hits the Road
and Pete Ashton: Oh, Max… which explains it all better than I.]

Answers: Sly Bailey

Well! I didn’t get an interview with Her Slyness after all.

But we were introduced and I did have a short chat with her (without my notebook).

We chatted about Web 2.0 and my recent rant about Roy Greenslade’s departure from the NUJ.

She said that she realised that there was a desperate need to invest in new technology because without it (nodding her head towards my iMac running OS 9) young journalists will just leave the business and find somewhere else to work.

She was keen to stress she was excited by the explosion of the web but was, of course, keen to find a way to generate the same revenues online as generated from print.

Then she said her plan was that the Post & Mail was going to have a new IT system and websites that would “blow the competition out of the water” and we would soon be far ahead of what any other newspaper group was doing.

I asked her if she thought Trinity Mirror would be able to create sites to rival The Guardian. She said yes, and The Telegraph too.

She said she had been doing a lot of research on what made a good news website. She said she recognised the good stuff that had been done by competitors but that there had been “dead ends” that they had gone up too, that she would like to avoid.

But, she said, the good thing about the web was that there was an opportunity to experiment with new ideas in a way that wouldn’t financially impact in the same way as doing it in print.

Her parting words were that she would “watch my career with interest”, which was unnerving.

As one colleague suggested, perhaps in the current climate the best I can do is to return the favour.


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