Posts Tagged 'website'

Guten tag

As the countdown to the website launch begins, I don’t expect to be getting much opportunity to blog over the next few days.

Yesterday was spent tagging up some of the stories that have been imported over from the old CMS. It’s a funny job – my instinct is to just tag everything and anything that is mentioned in the story. But, when you remember that these will appear in the “related stories” box on the page, you have to be a bit more tactical with your tags.

Steve (our multimedia editor) and I have been building up a few internal rules as we go along. As, when the website launches, journalists or sub-editors will tag the story, I imagine we’ll develop a stronger set of tagging conventions. Apprently this, according to people wiser than I, is called a folksonomy. But, of course, it’s a folksonomy that will be created only by the content creators, rather than the users.

I am curious to know if this will effect the way things are tagged and, if it does, whether that is a bad thing or not? Should there be a way for readers to submit tags? Would they even want to? And, if they do, how would you stop that creating a tag cloud as large as the moon?

This ties in to a conversation Marc (my editor) and I were having the other day about the transparent newsroom. He’s written about it on his blog. I have been really taken with what the Spokesman Review is doing in the US (see right hand column on their homepage). They have been experimenting with a variety of different techniques to open up the process of newsgathering and writing, with varying degrees of success. [found via the World Editors’ Forum weblog]

I love the idea that I am not only directly answerable to the people who sign my pay check, but also to the people I purport to be writing for and, if we would make any of the things the Spokesman Review is doing work on our paper, I’d love to try them.

But, as with the tags, would anyone really be interested in taking part? If so, how?

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Birmingham Mail relaunch

So, one of the rather major things that happened last week was that our sister paper, The Birmingham Mail, launched its new website.

Snazzy, eh? A big improvement, certainly. The coverage so far from the Press Gazette, journalism.co.uk and holdthefrontpage seems pretty good too.

Bounder has also provided some fantastic constructive criticism. This made me smile:

One problem that illustrates the peculiarity and the difference about content online is the journalists/subs use of “today”, “tomorrow” etc. in headlines – we don’t have the context online that we have with the physical copies “is that today’s Mail?”. Use of airy times online, where content can stay on a page for longer, means that “FOUR unsigned Midland bands are battling it out in Birmingham tonight” can’t work.

Sometimes it is the most simple of things that can elude us.

Now it is no secret, and in fact is announced in the above articles, that the new Birmingham Post website is due to launch this month. As part of the preparations, I’m going to move off of editorial for a few weeks and help with the website project.

It’s also no secret that the basic template that The Post site will use will be the same as The Mail, although we do have a certain amount of room for manoeuvre.

So, with the Mail doing the hard part and launching first, I’d be interested in what, if anything, we could do better?

Obviously, I can’t promise that it’ll be possible to implement it (we are already working from the suggestions that were given here previously). But, well, in the spirit of friendly rivalry it would be nice if we could do a little better than them!

Today and the Internet

I’ve just heard the oddest piece on Radio 4’s Today programme. [Edit: According to Martin Stabe, it was by a media commentator called Steve Hewlett, which explains a lot. You can listen again.]

I think it was supposed to be a news report but, uncharacteristically of Today, it made absolutely no effort to even try and appear objective.

It came across as an appeal, nay a plea, to Radio 4 listeners and BBC executives to support and preserve the station’s current methods of compiling the news agenda.

It looked at the most read stories on the BBC website last year and made the rather obvious point that, just because they were popular, didn’t mean they were the most important stories.

I would have thought BBC executives would have understood that “most read” and “most emailed” stories are more a reflection on the kind of material people will link to on the web, rather than its importance. Don’t they? From this piece it suggests they don’t.

The tone was one of “big bad web” and there was also mention of 4radio, so perhaps it was a rallying cry to try and encourage listeners to stay loyal.

But, to be honest, if Today had an important point to make about the web, I think I missed it.

Could The Post website use Flickr?

I have said before that the Birmingham Flickr group is a wonderful thing, and I know that others appreciate it too.(thanks CiB for the link).

There are so many fantastic pictures of Brum on Flickr, I would like to see the new Birmingham Post website showing and linking to them. It would certainly help showcase the talent we have in the city.

Indeed, it is something that was suggested when I asked for ideas for the new site.

But not everyone in the Birmingham Flickr community is going to want The Birmingham Post publishing their picture on our website. We wouldn’t have the right to do so anyway, unless we contacted the photographer first to get express permission, or they had relinquished all their IP rights (which is very rare).

So, what could be the solution? Pete Ashton suggests that The Post creates it’s own Flickr group, which people submit Birmingham photos to on the understanding that they may be used in a certain context on The Post website and will, of course, be credited.

But I wonder, with the plethora of specialist groups out there on Flickr, how keen are photographers going to be to submit to a Birmingham Post group?

Any advice and ideas from members of Flickr, and particularly the Birmingham Flickr group, would be gratefully received.

Twitter: a case study

Yesterday I logged on to Twitbin and saw that bounder had tweeted about Birmingham’s Conservative MEP website using a picture of Birmingham Alabama by accident.

The story ended up making the nationals (due to a press release by Labour who, apparently, didn’t credit their original source). But bounder’s tweet got to me well before then and about five seconds before one of my colleagues put down the phone to a contact who had rang him about it.

Now it was always going to be my colleague’s story as he has far better political links. But, if it shows one thing, it shows how Twitter can be a rather speedy way to transmit a story.

I just wish the Twitter feed on this website updated faster – so far it has been as slow as a very slow thing going slowly. Grr.

Lucky blogger

It has been said that I am a lucky little blogger to get the comments that I do.

When I started blogging (a little over two months ago) I was fearful of trolls and comments akin to those on YouTube.

Yes, I have been lucky. No more so than this week with the explosion of fantastic responses about The Post website. Taking the opportunity to both paraphrase and name drop, the thing has taken on a life of it’s own.

Yesterday, the blog was even hijacked by my editor, who was sourcing revenue-generating ideas for the new site.

It was quite an odd moment reviewing and approving his comment and, at the same time, realising just how unusual this whole thing is. I will, of course, encourage him to set up his own blog!

Website feedback

Right. I’m just about to email the web development team a summary document of the feedback given in response to my post.

Word users can download the original document, or you can get it in html.

It is, of course, a first draft. So comments and suggestions are very much welcome!


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