Posts Tagged 'Web 2.0'

“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.]

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

I remember being shown this video by Pete Ashton, about the same time as I first dipped my toe into the blogging pool. I watched it again today in amazement at how much more I understood about social media and how much I still had to learn.

If you haven’t seen it (and I know it has done the rounds on the web for over a year) it is an introduction to the social Internet by Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University.

I’ve realised I need to keep re-visiting it as I make my mistakes and learn my own lessons about the web. So, I thought I’d post it here:

What I’m going to do with the Flickr feedback

As the flow of comments has started to slow on the Flickr post, I thought I’d let you all know what I plan to do next!

Over the next few weeks (after I’ve finished my first assignment), I’ll start collating the comments. I think what has come out from the discussion is going to be applicable to a lot of the other things I wanted to looking at for the website project.

I had just assumed (naively, perhaps) that because people were happy for bloggers to link to their work (as long as they were credited), they would also be happy for a site like The Birmingham Post to link to it too.

This, however, doesn’t seem to be completely the case. Most of the concern seems to come from the belief that – as we are a commercial publishing operation – any and all the material we link to on the web must be paid for.

I can understand that point, but I think the distinction between commercial and non-commercial spaces on the Internet needs to be looked at in more detail. Not that I’m going to do that right here and now – the comments have given me way too much to mull over!

In my head, I saw The Birmingham Post website as a place to go for news and opinion, but also as a (sorry to use this word) gateway to Brum’s professional and creative communities on the web. I still see it that way, but I now realise I need to look at how I’m going to do that in more depth.

But please keep the comments coming in, I really want to get to grips with this.

Talking to Donnacha

It may be noticeable that, since I commented on Greenslade’s departure from the NUJ last month, this blog has lurched into a discussion on the future journalism and online content.

To my surprise, there has also been an exchange of comments between myself and NUJ multimedia commission member Donnacha DeLong – the chap who sparked off the debate in the first place by writing an article entitled Web 2.0 is Rubbish.

I’m dead chuffed he has taken the time and effort to post – so I thought I’d link to the conversation here.

Bedtime reading for the NUJ…

…and for any journlist who wants to get to grips with the future of journalism.

I’ve been following Paul Bradshaw‘s recent posts about blogging and investigative journalism with great interest. Currently there are five – all draft sections of a chapter for a new Investigative Journalism book.

I think they give a fascinating picture of just what can be achieved online – not just for investigative journalism, but perhaps other forms of reporting too:

  1. Blogging and Journalism 
    Explores the relationship of blogging to journalism.
  2. The Amateur-Professional Debate
    Questions whether the subjectivity of blogs is really corrosive to the search for “truth”. 
  3. Sourcing Material
    How online material can make readers part of the investigative process and help to “fine tune” stories.
  4. Publishing
    How online work can provide greater transparency and a wider distribution.
  5. Fundraising 
    How blogs have provided alternative funding streams for investigiative jourmalism. 

In his fifth draft, Paul also puts forward examples of interesting economic models for this style of journalism.

If would be nice to see the NUJ debating how such issues could be better exploited by professional journalists and, perhaps, provide us with a bit of training to boot.

Here’s hoping.

NUJ is wrong (2)

Another blog post from Greenslade on the NUJ’s attitude towards Web 2.0. Again, I find myself agreeing with him.

He describes the frustrations of X, a journalist on a regional weekly.

I predict that X will, in the near future, find that he cannot square the circle at his paper. Despite his continuing sympathies for colleagues, and his lingering desire to remain faithful to the NUJ, he will realise that the demands of a paper gradually moving from print to screen are inimical to those of a union that, despite its pro-digital rhetoric, is committed only to preserving outdated demarcation lines, defying the need for flexibility and struggling to fend off staff cuts that, in fairness, will be necessary.

Also Suw and Kevin from Strange Attractor provide a fantastic response to some of the anti-Web 2.0 polemic that seems to be appearing out of the NUJ. Their post critiques one of the stories that sparked Greenslade’s decision to leave the union – an article by Donnacha DeLong entitled Web 2.0 Is Rubbish . It originally appeared in the NUJ’s magazine The Journalist.  Suw and Kevin conclude:

Both of us embraced the internet because of the opportunities it presents. It’s the world’s greatest story-telling medium, bringing together the strengths of text, audio, video and interaction. The internet as a communications tool can help journalists tap sources like never before, making their stories richer and more balanced. Why wouldn’t journalists take advantage of the internet?

Yes, the job is changing, and we as journalists need to change with it. The internet may be posing a threat to the business model that support journalism, and it’s understandable that this causes anxiety. But misrepresenting the reality of that change won’t make it go away.

I couldn’t agree more.


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