Posts Tagged 'Trinity Mirror'

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.

Preston Returns: Day 2

What a brill day!

I have learnt so much about marketing and, once again, had the chance to speak to some very intelligent people about the future of journalism. Many of those people are still downstairs in the Holiday Inn bar, so I will only be giving a quick summary and then will be down to join them!

The start of the day was going over some of the basics of marketing theory, which interestingly concluded that if our readers don’t trust us as a brand then we have no product. This, of course, rang true with me as I have been banging on about the trust lark for some time.

The afternoon was a talk to our group from Karen Swan, marketing head for Trinity Mirror Regionals. She introduced us to a whole host of interesting tools that can be used to gather stats about our audience – both online and in print. It has certainly convinced me I need to talk to our marketing department more.

Then we had the Journalism Leaders Forum with a panel that included Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail. He was interesting but the other panellists that spoke after him… well I’ll leave it for you to decide as I streamed the whole thing on Bambuser.

I get annoyed when people suggest that the only people who can deliver news to the public are newspaper journalists. I believe that is an arrogance based upon fear.

So cross was I, I tweeted a link to a quote taken from the chair of the US southern newspapers association in 1933 on the rise of radio:

The newspapers of the country, through their own trained representatives and through the respective news organizations are the only ones equipped to do an honest and accurate job of news reporting.

This was then quoted to the panel by Markmedia who, it appears, was even more disgruntled with the discussion than I was!

Back to Preston…

Preston Skyline

Well first of all, apologies. One thing that seems to happen when you launch a network of over 30 blogs (here, here and here, if you’re wondering) is that, at the end of the day, you are not overly keen on blogging for yourself.

That is, however, remiss of me as I have got so much from this blog and it is very unfair to turn my back on it when the going gets a little busier.

So today, the day I arrive for the latest installment of the Journalism Leaders Course in Preston, I thought I’d give this little corner of cyberspace a little bit of TLC.

So I am sitting in my hotel room admiring the now infamous view of the Preston bus station/car park. I will, however, refrain from taking another picture to avoid the indignance of one of my north-west colleagues. (I have, instead, posted a luverly pic of the Preston skyline. In’t it nice!)

This is the last time I will see most of fellow coursemates. Ben and I (the Birmingham contingent) joined the course mid-way through. I imagine (although I’m not sure) that we will have one more module to go through around September time. But for the others, this will be it. It’s a shame – the group is so bright and I’ve learnt so much from them.

This part of the course is going to be on marketing. I’m not sure exactly how it will progress but, from the online seminars that we’ve had so far, I’m assuming it will question how well journalists know their readers and whether our infamous misrust of the marketing department may actually be to the detriment of our newspapers.

On Tuesday we will also have the Journalism Leaders Forum which will ask why isn’t the explosion of digital media translating into increased revenues for mainstream media companies. I suspect the answer has something to do with not owning the platforms by which the media is distributed and dilution of the market. But I will be interested to hear what others think.

Speakers include Chris Anderson of ‘The Long Tail’, Anton Grutzmacher of Hitwise, Peter Kirwan of the Press Gazette’s Media Money and Rick Waghorn of www.myfootballwriter.com.

As always I will try (and probably fail) to blog about it all as I go along.

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!

A big “thank you”

…to all of you who have commented on the post about the new Birmingham Post website.

I have been blown away by the eloquent and erudite feedback you have given me. It’s also impressed others at The Post and I can promise that everything that has been posted here has been read and taken seriously by people on the development team.

In fact my job this week is to pull together everything that has been said and put it into a summary document. I will, of course, upload it for further critique from you all!

Today I spent three hours(!) in a meeting with Marc our editor and Steve our head of multimedia bashing out what content we would like to see on the site.

Not sure how much I can give away, but a lot of it follows what has already been said on this blog.

For me, the most important thing is that the site is uncluttered, simple to use and searchable. All the bells and whistles can be added later, but it’s about getting the fundementals right.

We’ve got a nice head start in that we will be using a similar template to other papers in the group such as the Liverpool Post, Liverpool Echo, Daily Post (Wales) and Daily Record (Scotland).

Ours, however, will have a very distinct Birmingham Post feel.

Anyone want to help design the Birmingham Post website?

Yes it’s true, it looks like the days might be numbered for icBirmingham. We are finally getting a new website!

When Trinity Mirror decided to keep the Post & Mail, part of the announcement alluded to the fact that an upgrade in IT and our websites was on its way.

Now it looks like a shiny, new Birmingham Post website will be launched at some point next year.

To my surprise and delight I have been picked to be part of the development team (I guess it was a good thing those bigwigs were reading my blog after all!).

Part of my job is to shape what sort of content the site should have. I’m going to be studying what’s out there on the web already to see if there’s stuff I think could be useful – and to try and avoid some of the mistakes that others have made.

Now, I know there are some things I want from a news website: a home page that is constantly updated with breaking news; rss feeds for categories of news that I’m interested in; email alerts for breaking stories; an easily searchable archive and the ability to post a comment at the bottom of a story. I am also stupidly addicted to links to the day’s most read and most emailed stories.

I also think there’s a place for video content, especially if it’s giving a slightly different angle to a story – maybe showing the drama of breaking news or, perhaps, the human side of a business deal. One video that caught my attention was a feature from the New York Times on Paypal founder Max Levchin. That really worked for me (except the damn stupid ad before the video).

Speaking of ads: My ideal news website would also have its advertising in a sensible place and certainly NOT have any of those horrible things that follow you around when you scroll.

But, the thing is, I’m just one person.

How I used news sites is different to how others might use them. I know, for example, I’m very biased towards the news side of things. But news websites can also provide other content too (features, share prices, weather, traffic information, directories, etc.)

So, I wondered, what sort of content do other people use news websites for? What features do other people find useful? I guess this post is a call out to people to find out what you might want from a new, improved, Birmingham Post website.

We’ve got a meeting on Monday to start putting all this stuff together. I’m really excited about it as we could soon have a website that I’m proud of, rather than one I have to constantly apologise for.

[Edit: If you want to see the sites and features I’ve been looking at, I’ve bookmarked them on del.licio.us tagged as Jo’sResearch. I’ll be discussing these at the meeting on Monday. Is there anything I’ve missed?]

Regional News: The Future?

Media Guardian writes that Trinity Mirror has announced plans for a single, multimedia newsroom at its regional papers in Wales:

Under the new plan, each print title will retain an editor, who will be responsible for all electronic and print channels carrying his title’s brand.

Deputy editors – re-styled as executive editors – will oversee the hour-by-hour operation of the newsroom, working across all media.

I’ve also heard ten jobs will be lost as part of the changes, but I can’t find confirmation of this at the moment. Thoughts?

[Edit – here is a Press Gazette story about the redundancies. Thanks Martin.]


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