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July 08 2011

14:00

This Week in Review: What Google+ could do for news, and Murdoch’s News of the World gets the ax

Every Friday, Mark Coddington sums up the week’s top stories about the future of news.

Google’s biggest social effort yet: This is a two-week edition of This Week in Review, so most of our news comes from last week, rather than this week. The biggest of those stories was the launch of Google+, Google’s latest and most substantial foray into the social media landscape. TechCrunch had one of the first and best explanations of what Google+ is all about, and Wired’s Steven Levy wrote the most comprehensive account of the thinking at Google behind Plus: It’s the product of a fundamental philosophical shift from the web as information to the web as people.

Of course, the force to be reckoned with in any big social media venture is Facebook, and even though Google told Search Engine Land it’s not made to be a Facebook competitor, Google+ was seen by many (including The New York Times) as Google’s most ambitious attempt yet to take on Facebook. The design looks a lot like Facebook, and pages for businesses (like Facebook’s Fan Pages) are on their way.

Longtime tech blogger Dave Winer was unimpressed at the effort to challenge Facebook, and Om Malik of GigaOM said Facebook has nothing to be afraid of in Google+, though All Facebook’s Nick O’Neill said Google+’s ubiquity across the web should present a threat to Facebook.

But the biggest contrast people drew between Google+ and Facebook was the more intuitive privacy controls built into its Circles feature. Ex-Salon editor Scott Rosenberg wrote a particularly thoughtful post arguing that Google+ more accurately reflects social life than Facebook: “In truth, Facebook started out with an oversimplified conception of social life, modeled on the artificial hothouse community of a college campus, and it has never succeeded in providing a usable or convenient method for dividing or organizing your life into its different contexts.” His thought was echoed by j-prof Jeremy Littau (in two posts) and the Guardian’s Dan Gillmor.

Google’s other ventures into social media — Buzz, Wave, Orkut — have fallen flat, so it’s somewhat surprising to see that the initial reviews for Google+ were generally positive. Among those enamored with it were TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick, social media guru Robert Scoble, and the Huffington Post’s Craig Kanalley (though he wondered about Google’s timing). It quickly began sending TechCrunch loads of traffic, and social media marketer Chris Brogan brainstormed 50 ways Google+ could influence the rest of the web.

At the same time, there was some skepticism about its Circles function: TechCrunch’s Siegler wondered whether people would use it as intended, and ReadWriteWeb’s Sarah Perez said they might not be equipped to handle complicated, changing relationships. In a smart piece, marketing exec A.J. Kohn said Circles marks an old-fashioned form of sharing. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram, meanwhile, said Circles look great, but they aren’t going to be much use until there’s a critical mass of people to put in them.

Google+ and the news: This being a journalism blog, we’re most interested in Google+ for what it means for news. As Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman pointed out, the aspect of Google+ that seems to have the most potential is its Sparks feature, which allows users to collect recommended news around a specific term or phrase. Former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee said Sparks could fill a valuable niche for news organizations in between Facebook and Twitter — sort of a more customizable, less awkward RSS. The University of Missouri’s KOMU-TV has already used it in a live broadcast, and Breaking News’ Cory Bergman gave a few valuable lessons from that organization’s first week on Google+.

CUNY j-prof Jeff Jarvis gave his thoughts on a few potential uses for news: It could be very useful for collaboration and promotion, but not so much for live coverage. Journalism.co.uk’s Sarah Marshall listed several of the same uses, plus interviewing and “as a Facebook for your tweeps.” Sonderman suggested a few changes to Google+ to make it even more news-friendly, including allowing news org pages and improving the Sparks search and filtering. Still, he saw it as a valuable addition to the online news consumption landscape: “It’s a serendipity engine, and if executed well it could make Google+ an addictive source of news discovery.”

A bit of Google+-related miscellany before we move on: Social media marketer Christopher Penn gave some tips on measuring Google+, author Neil Strauss condemned the growing culture of Facebook “Likes” (and now Google +1s), and GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram offered a rebuttal.

Murdoch kills News of the World: In one of the most surprising media-related moves of the year, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. suddenly shut down one of its most prominent properties, the 168-year-old British tabloid News of the World, on Thursday. The decision stemmed from a long-running scandal involving NotW investigators who illegally hacked into the phones of celebrities. This week, the Guardian reported that the hacking extended to the voicemail of a murdered 13-year-old girl and possibly the families of dead soldiers, and that the paper’s editor, Rebekah Brooks (now the head of News Corp. in Britain) was informed of some of the hacking.

Facing an advertising boycott and Parliamentary opposition, Murdoch’s son, James, announced News of the World will close this weekend. (The Guardian has the definitive blow-by-blow of Thursday’s events.) It was a desperate move, and as the New York Times, paidContent, and many on Twitter noted, it was almost certainly an attempt to keep the scandal’s collateral damage away from Murdoch’s proposed BSkyB merger, which was put on hold and possible in jeopardy this week.

Though the closing left hundreds of suddenly out-of-work employees, it may prove less damaging in the big picture for News Corp. than you might expect. NotW only published on Sundays, and it’s widely suspected that its sister tabloid, the Sun, will simply expand to include a Sunday edition to cover for its absence. As one Guardian editor stated, the move may simply allow News Corp. to streamline its operation and save cash, and Poynter’s Rick Edmonds called it a smart business move. (Its stock rose after the announcement.)

There’s plenty that has yet to play out, as media analyst Ken Doctor noted: The Guardian pointed out how evasive James Murdoch’s closing letter was, and Slate’s Jack Shafer said the move was intended to “scatter and confuse the audience.” Brooks, the one that many thought would take the fall for the scandal, is still around, and the investigation is ongoing, with more arrests being made today. According to The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta and CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis, though, the buck stops with Rupert himself and the culture he created, and the Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum said the story has revealed just how cozy Murdoch is with the powerful in the U.K.

Making journalism easier on Twitter: Twitter has been reaching out to journalists for quite some time now through a media blog, but last week it took things a step further and launched Twitter for Newsrooms, a journalist’s guide to using Twitter, with tips on reporting, making conversation, and promoting content. The Lab’s Justin Ellis gave a quick glimpse into the rationale behind the project.

A few people were skeptical: TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis suspected that Twitter’s preaching to the choir, arguing that for the journalists who come across Twitter for Newsrooms, Twitter already is a newsroom. The Journal Register’s Steve Buttry called it “more promotional than helpful,” and suggested some other Twitter primers for journalists. Ad Age’s Matthew Creamer added a tongue-in-cheek guide to releasing your anger on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Lab’s Megan Garber reported on the ideas of NPR and Andy Carvin for improving Twitter’s functionality for reporting, including a kind of real-time influence and credibility score for Twitter sources, and a journalism-oriented meme-tracking tool for developing stories.

Mobile media and tablet users, profiled: There were several studies released in the past two weeks that are worth noting, starting with Pew’s report on e-reader and tablet users. Pew found that e-reader ownership is booming, having doubled in six months. The Knight Digital Media Center’s Amy Gahran reasoned that e-readers are ahead of tablets right now primarily because they’re so much cheaper, and offered ideas for news organizations to take advantage of the explosion of e-reader users.

Three other studies related to tablets and mobile media: One study found that a third of tablet users said it’s leading them to read print newspapers and magazines less often; another showed that people are reading more on digital media than we think, and mostly in browsers; and a third gave us more evidence that games are still king among mobile apps.

Reading roundup: Bunches of good stuff to look through from the past two weeks. I’ll go through it quickly:

— Turns out the “digital first” move announced last month by the Guardian also includes the closing of the international editions of the Guardian and Observer. Jeff Jarvis explained what digital first means, but Suw Charman-Anderson questioned the wisdom the Guardian’s strategy. The Lab’s Ken Doctor analyzed the economics of the Guardian’s situation, as well as the Mail and the BBC’s.

— This week in AOL/Huffington Post news: Business Insider revealed some leaked lackluster traffic numbers for Patch sites, and reported that Patch is undergoing a HuffPo-ization. That prompted Judy Sims and Slate’s Jack Shafer to be the latest to rip into Patch’s business model, and Shafer followed up to address rebuttals about non-Patch hyperlocal news.

— Google+ was the only interesting Google-related news over the past two weeks: The Lab’s Megan Garber wrote about Google’s bid to transform mobile ads, potential new directions for Google News, and Google highlighting individual authors in search returns. The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan also wrote on Google’s ongoing war on “nonsense” content.

— A couple of paywall notes: The Times of London reported that it has 100,000 subscribers a year after its paywall went up, and Dorian Benkoil said the New York Times’ plan is working well, the Lab’s Megan Garber wrote about the Times adding a “share your access” offer to print subscribers.

— Three practical posts for journalists: Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman has tips for successful news aggregation and personalized news delivery, and British j-prof Paul Bradshaw reported on his experience running his blog through a Facebook Page for a month.

— And three bigger-picture pieces to think on: Wetpaint’s Ben Elowitz on the shrinking of the non-Facebook web, former Guardian digital editor Emily Bell on the U.S.’ place within the global media ecosystem, and Paul Bradshaw on the new inverted pyramid of data journalism.

July 07 2011

21:20

The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Times, News of the World - Inside the UK's tabloid culture

Reuters :: Benjamin Pell made a second career out of digging through the contents of people's rubbish bags and selling it to the British press. The office cleaner, or 'Benji the Binman' as he was known to his clients on Fleet Street, regularly passed journalists the discarded papers of lawyers, celebrities and business executives. Benji's low-tech operations in the late 1990s fed stories on a high-profile libel case and even Elton John's flower bill.

British tabloids have a long and colorful history of finding new ways to get the story.

An overview - continue to read Kate Holton | Mark Hosenball, www.reuters.com

September 15 2010

12:24

Sun Online editor called from across the pond for new digital project

Editor of Sun Online Pete Picton has been enlisted to help launch a “new digital project” at News Corporation in New York, according to a paidContent report.

The project is understood to be part of News Corps’ reported plans to develop a new tablet-only newspaper.

News Corp has already enlisted New York Post executive editor Jesse Angelo to head the project, which seems designed to go nationwide with a mass-market U.S. title on iPad in the same way the Sun has been in the smaller UK for decades.

Picton has been editor of the Sun Online for the past 10 years.Similar Posts:



August 26 2010

10:27

Football365 pens open letter criticising the Sun for Capello coverage

Football news and forum site Football365 has posted an open letter to the Sun, criticising the paper’s back page lead yesterday on England manager Fabio Capello.

Our fear is that this campaign is being waged not because the tabloid press truly believe that Capello is in the wrong (…) but largely out of spite because they didn’t get their way after the summer and he stayed on.

The site is of course part of the 365 Media Group, which is owned by BSkyB, part of the Murdoch empire that also includes the Sun.Similar Posts:



August 18 2010

10:31

News of the World paywall to be launched in October, report claims

The News of the World website will go behind a paywall in October, with the Sun to follow, according to a report today by newmediaage.co.uk (article requires subscription). News International are refusing to comment on the claim.

The news was also picked up by mad.co.uk who reported that the paywalled sites will be offered at an “introductory” rate during the first month.

News of the World’s transition to a paid content model will hinge on exclusive video content, distributed across an overhauled site and app.

Yesterday Media Week reported on figures from ComScore, which suggested that unique users of the the Times and Sunday Times websites, which were put behind a paywall in July, have fallen from 2.79 million in May to 1.61 million in July.Similar Posts:



July 13 2010

16:30

Sun criticised for descriptions of Raoul Moat as a young boy

Writing on the BBC College of Journalism site, Simon Ford flags up the very questionable descriptions of Raoul Moat used by the Sun to caption images of him as a baby and young boy:

“Ginger top,” mused one underneath what looked like a school photograph, “but at five his eyes already have intense look.”

“Awkward,” concludes another under a photo of, “Moat aged 13 at mum Josephine’s wedding.”

And the most absurd of all: “Cute baby … but two-month-old Moat clenches his fists.”

Adding to the debate about the media’s influence in such events, Ford quotes some of the language used by the newspaper to describe Moat during the time he evaded the police:

On 8 July – day-six of the hunt – the Sun decided to throw everything it had at “THE PSYCHO COMMANDO”.

In five pages devoted to the story, the Sun portrayed Moat as a “self-pitying monster”, a “6ft 3in brute”, a “gun spree hulk” capable of living “wild for weeks”. His campsite, discovered by police on farmland, was described as a “lair”.

The newspaper was criticised in May for using the expression ‘tar baby’ – a term widely considered offensive to African-Americans – to caption an image of a very young boy smoking.

Full BBC post at this link…Similar Posts:



May 17 2010

09:34

Independent.co.uk: iPad may force page 3 girls to cover up

Last May we linked to paidContent UK’s report that a newspaper iPhone app was rejected because of its “obscene” page 3 content from the Sun. This year, the Independent on Sunday’s Feral Beast column speculates on the girls’ fate for the iPad app:

Bad news for News International as they start charging for online editions: The Sun’s page three girls, whose ranks once numbered Melinda Messenger could be forced to cover up for the iPad. The German tabloid Der Bild has complained of being censored by Apple from running topless girls on its iPad applications software. Apple recently removed the gallery of nude photos from the site of Stern magazine, and forced Bild to put clothes on the “Bild girl”. “Today they censor nipples, tomorrow it’s editorial content,” said a spokeswoman. Rupert will not be happy.

Full article at this link…

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May 06 2010

08:17

March 29 2010

16:34

Sun runs explosive advert with Moscow terrorist bombings story

This morning I was leafing through an old guide to subbing from 1968. There were a couple of pages in it stressing the importance of ensuring articles do not clash with adjacent adverts. Weight loss advert next to an anorexia story, cigarette advert next to a lung cancer report, that kind of thing.

Well, it seems that, 40 years on, not everyone is paying attention to their text books. Or their website. Not satisfied with putting images of a plane emerging from a ball of fire adjacent to a story about today’s terrorist bomb attack in Moscow, the Sun’s website made use of some nifty graphics to have plane and fireball emerge from the story itself, leaving behind a charred hole.

Unfortunately the video has been removed by the user, but here is a screengrab. You’ll have to use your imagination for the rest.

Although my book has an additional chapter on new forms of ‘electronic sub-editing’, it doesn’t cover this kind of thing in any detail. I checked. It is however called ‘The Simple Subs Book’, so it may, after all this time, still be ideally suited to some.

Similar Posts:



March 10 2010

11:49

#followjourn: Toni Jones/associate fashion editor

#followjourn: Toni Jones

Who? Jones is associate fashion editor at the Sun.

Where? You can find her writing at the Sun online, and in the fashion section of the print edition. She also pops up on Journalisted. And last year started contributing to the Smith Travel Blog.

Contact? Follow Jones on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tonilouisejones.

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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February 24 2010

10:26

November 12 2009

08:52

Malcolm Coles: Gordon Brown letter – Sun misjudges readers’ mood

This is a cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ website www.malcolmcoles.co.uk.

Update: There are suggestions on a Guardian story that the Sun moderators haven’t been putting through comments that are critical of the Sun’s position …

Is the Sun censoring pro-Brown comments?

Is the Sun censoring pro-Brown comments?

Original post
The Sun is running a campaign against Gordon Brown. But I’ve analysed the comments on its website – and readers disagree with its stance by a ratio of more than 3 to 2.

Gordon Brown letter story in the Sun

Gordon Brown letter story in the Sun

The paper has exploited the grief of Jacqui Janes over her son Jamie’s death in Afghanistan to attack the PM – because his handwritten letter of condolence was supposedly disrespectful due to sloppy writing and (disputed) spelling errors.

It’s loathsome journalism that ignores the effect of his disability (the PM is blind in one eye).

And it seems Sun readers are mostly on the Prime Minister’s side.

Of the 100+ comments on the story (don’t worry, I’ve nofollowed those links) when I checked, 111 expressed a view for or against Jacqui Janes or Gordon Brown (the rest commented on other issues or corrected people’s spelling errors). Of these:

  • 42 were anti Gordon or pro the Sun’s stance.
  • 69 were pro Gordon or anti the Sun’s stance.

So that’s more than 60 per cent who don’t agree with the Sun, and less than 40 per cent who do.

Sample comments from those who agree with the Sun’s stance:

Comments agreeing that Gordon Brown was wrong

Comments agreeing that Gordon Brown is “discusting”

Some comments from those opposing it:

Comments defending Gordon Brown

Comments defending Gordon Brown

Conclusion
The Sun is channeling this woman’s grief into a personal attack on the Prime Minister.

It’s refusing to make allowances for his disability (maybe we could next attack the war wounded for being workshy benefit scroungers?).

And it’s facilitating her breaking data protection laws by releasing a recording of a private phone call.

The whole thing is sickening – let’s hope that observing its readers’ reactions will lead to an end to this (not that this happened in the Jan Moir case) – and preferably prosecution of the Sun over the data protection offence.

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November 11 2009

14:13

Sun misjudges readers’ mood over Gordon Brown letter

The Sun is running a despicable campaign against Gordon Brown. But I’ve analysed the comments on its website – and readers disagree with its stance by a ratio of more than 3 to 2 (on top of which, there are now accusations that the Sun is censoring pro-Brown comments).

The paper has exploited the grief of Jacqui Janes over her son Jamie’s death in Afghanistan to attack the PM – because his handwritten letter of condolence was supposedly disrespectful due to sloppy writing and (disputed) spelling errors.

It’s loathsome journalism that ignores the effect of his disability (the PM is blind in one eye).

And it seems Sun readers are mostly on the Prime Minister’s side.

Of the 100+ comments on the story (don’t worry, I’ve nofollowed those links) when I checked, 111 expressed a view for or against Jacqui Janes or Gordon Brown (the rest commented on other issues or corrected people’s spelling errors). Of these:

  • 42 were anti Gordon or pro the Sun’s stance.
  • 69 were pro Gordon or anti the Sun’s stance.

So that’s more than 60% who don’t agree with the Sun, and less than 40% who do.

Sample comments from those who agree with the Sun’s stanceanti-gordon-brown

Some comments from those opposing itpro-gordon-brown

Conclusion

The Sun is channeling this woman’s grief into a personal attack on the Prime Minister.

It’s refusing to make allowances for his disability (maybe we could next attack the war wounded for being workshy benefit scroungers?).

And it’s facilitating her breaking data protection laws by releasing a recording of a private phone call.

The whole thing is sickening – let’s hope that observing its readers’ reactions will lead to an end to this (not that this happened in the Jan Moir case) – and preferably prosecution of the Sun over the data protection offence. What’s more, Daily Mail readers are pro Brown, too. The Sun has got this badly wrong.

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