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May 05 2012

20:04

Sky News is launching a 24-hour Arabic News Channel

The Next Web :: Having just been made available in the US and Canada via Livestation, Sky News is launching a 24-hour Arabic news channel, which has been two years in the making. Tomorrow, Sky News Arabia, the multi-media news platform is finally launching at 4pm GMT (8pm UAE time). Joining the ranks of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC News Arabic, Sky News Arabia is a 50/50 joint venture between BSkyB’s Sky News and UAE-based Abu Dhabi Media Investment Company (ADMIC).

Continue to read Nancy Messieh, thenextweb.com

February 10 2012

15:00

This Week in Review: Facebook’s future and the open web, and finding balance on breaking news

Is Facebook a threat to the open web?: There was still a lot of smart commentary on Facebook’s filing for a public stock offering rolling in last late week, so I’ll start with a couple pieces I missed in last week’s review: Both The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and Slate’s Farhad Manjoo were skeptical of Facebook’s ability to stay so financially successful. Madrigal said it’s going to have to get a lot more than the $4.39 in revenue per user it’s currently getting, and Manjoo wondered about what happens after the social gaming craze that’s been providing so much of Facebook’s revenue passes.

How to supplement those revenue streams? A lot of the answer’s going to come from personal data aggregation, and law professor Lori Andrews wrote in The New York Times about some of the dark sides of that practice, including stereotyping and discrimination. Facebook also needs to move more deeply into mobile, and Wired’s Tim Carmody documented its struggles in that area. On the bright side, Wired’s Steven Levy approved of Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to shareholders and his articulation of The Hacker Way.

Facebook’s filing also spurred an intriguing discussion of the relationship between it, Google, and the open web. As web pioneer John Battelle said best and The Atlantic’s James Fallows summarized aptly, several observers were concerned that Facebook’s rise and Google’s potential decline is a loss for the open web, because Google built its financial success on the success of the open web while Facebook’s success depends on increased sharing inside its own private channels. As Battelle argued, this private orientation threatens the core values that should drive the Internet: decentralization, a commons-based ethos, neutrality, interoperability, and data openness. Mathew Ingram of GigaOM countered that users don’t care so much about openness as usefulness, and that’s what could eventually do Facebook in.

Another Facebook-related discussion sprung up around Evgeny Morozov’s piece for The New York Times lamenting the death of cyberflânerie — the practice of strolling through the streets of the web alone, taking in and reflecting on its sights and sounds. Among other factors, he pinpointed Facebook’s “frictionless sharing” as the culprit, by mandating that all experiences be shared and tailored to our narrow interests. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci pushed back against Morozov’s argument, countering that there’s still plenty of room for sharing-based serendipity because our friends’ interests don’t exactly line up with our own. And journalist Dana Goldstein argued that a lot of what yesterday’s flâneurs did is still echoed in the web today, for better or worse — cyberstalking, trying out new identities, and presenting our ideal selves to the public.

The clampdown on breaking news via Twitter: One of international journalism’s leaders in social media innovation, News Corp.’s Sky News, issued a surprisingly stern crackdown on its journalists’ Twitter practices, banning them from retweeting information from any other journalists without clearing it past the news desk and from tweeting about anything outside their beats.

There were a few people in favor of the new policy — Forbes’ Ewan Spence applauded the ‘better right than first’ approach, and Fleet Street Blues rather headscratchingly asserted that “it makes no sense for them to pay journalists to report through a medium outside its own editorial controls.” But far more people were crying out in opposition.

Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa reiterated that argument that a retweet is simply a quote, rather than an endorsement, and Breaking News’ Cory Bergman said not all the broadcast rules apply to Twitter — it’s okay to be human there. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram and POLIS’ Charlie Beckett made the point that Sky should want its reporters to be seen as go-to information sources, period — no matter where the information comes from. As Beckett put it: “We the audience now privilege interactivity and added value over conformity. We trust you because you share, not because you have hierarchical structures.”

The BBC also updated its social media guidelines to urge reporters not to break news on Twitter before they file it to the BBC’s internal systems. BBC social media editor Chris Hamilton quickly clarified that the policy wasn’t as restrictive as it sounded: The BBC’s tech allows its journalists to file simultaneously to Twitter and to its newsroom CMS (an impressive feat in itself), and when that tech isn’t available, they want their journalists to file to the newsroom first — “a difference of a few seconds.”

J-prof Alfred Hermida said the idea that journalists shouldn’t break news on Twitter rests on the flawed assumption that journalists have a monopoly on breaking the news. And on Twitter, fellow media prof C.W. Anderson asserted that the chief problem lies in the idea that breaking news adds significant value to a story. “The debate over “breaking news on Twitter” is a perfect example of mistaking professional values for public / financial / ‘rational’ ones,” he wrote. Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman, meanwhile, praised the BBC for putting some real thought into how to fit Twitter into the breaking news workflow.

An unclear picture of the Times’ paywall: The New York Times released its fourth-quarter results late last week, and, as usual with their recent announcements, it proved something of a media business Rorschach test. The company reported a loss of $39.7 million for the year, thanks in large part to declines in advertising revenue — though most of that was due to About.com, as revenue in its news division was slightly up for the quarter.

As for the paywall, media analyst Ken Doctor reported 390,000 digital subscribers and estimated the Times’ paywall revenue at $86 million and said the paper has climbed a big mountain in getting more than 70 percent of its print subscribers to sign up for online access. Reuters’ Felix Salmon saw the paywall numbers as “unamiguously good news” and said it shows the paywall hasn’t eaten into ad revenues as much as it was expected to.

Others were a bit less optimistic. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram said the Times’ new paywall revenue still isn’t enough to make up for its ad revenue declines, and urged the times to go beyond the paywall in hunting for digital revenue. Media analyst Greg Satell made a similar point, arguing that the paywall is a false hope and calling for the Times build up more “satellite” brands online, like the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital. Henry Blodget of Business Insider had a different solution: Keep cutting costs until the newsroom is down to a size that can be supported by a digital operation.

A nonprofit journalism merger: After a few weeks of speculation, two of the U.S.’ more prominent nonprofit news operations, the Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting, have announced their intent to merge. Both groups are based in California’s Bay Area, and the CIR runs the statewide news org California Watch. The executive director of the new organization would be Phil Bronstein, the CIR board chairman and former San Francisco Chronicle editor.

Opinions on the move were mixed: Oakland Local founder (and former California Watch consultant) Susan Mernit thought it would make a lot of sense, combining the Bay Citizen’s strengths in funding and distribution with California Watch’s strengths in editorial content. Likewise, the Lab’s Ken Doctor saw it as an opportunity to make local nonprofit journalism work at an unprecedented scale.

There are reasons for caution, though. As Jim Romenesko noted, the Bay Citizen has recently gone through several key departures and the unexpected death of its co-founder and main benefactor, Warren Hellman (and even forgot to renew its web domain for a bit). And California Watch pointed out some of the potential conflicts between the two newsrooms — California Watch has a partnership with the Chronicle, whom the Bay Citizen considers a competitor. And the Bay Citizen has its own partnership with The New York Times for its regional edition, something PBS MediaShift’s Ashwin Seshagiri said could now prove as much a hindrance as an advantage.

J-prof Jay Rosen said the two orgs aren’t a good fit because of their differing institutional bases — the CIR is more established and has been on a steady build, while the Bay Citizen’s short history is full of turmoil. And the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Steven Jones argued that Bronstein’s rationale for the merger is misrepresenting Hellman’s wishes.

Reading roundup: Lots of other stuff going on this week, too. Here’s a quick rundown:

— Another week, another few new angles to the already enormous News Corp. phone hacking scandal: The FBI is investigating the company for illegal payments of as much £100,000 to foreign officials such as police officers, a political blogger told British officials that the Sunday Mirror’s top editor personally authorized hacking, and The Times of London admitted it hacked into a police officer’s email to out him as the author of an anonymous blog. How much is this whole mess costing News Corp.? $87 million for the investigation alone last quarter.

— News Corp.’s tablet news publication The Daily got the one-year treatment with an update on its so-so progress in The New York Times. News business analyst Alan Mutter also gave a pretty rough review of the status of tablet news apps as a whole.

— A couple of other news developments of interest to folks in our little niche: The tech news site GigaOM announced it was buying paidContent from the Guardian (PBS MediaShift’s Dorian Benkoil loved the move, and the Knight Foundation announced the first of its new News Challenge competitions, this one oriented around networks.

— A couple of cool studies released this week: One from HP Labs on predicting the spread of news on Twitter, and another from USC on ways in which the Internet is changing us.

— Finally, for those of us among the digitally hyper-connected, The New York Times’ David Carr wrote a poignant piece on the enduring value of in-person connections, and sociologist Zeynep Tufekci offered a thoughtful response.

Original Twitter bird by Matt Hamm used under a Creative Commons license.

February 08 2012

19:00

Why journalists should break news on Twitter

The world of journalism and Twitter is buzzing following Sky News’s new policy on Twitter and the BBC’s new guidance on breaking news.

Both organisations have told their journalists not to break news on Twitter first.

In a post on the BBC’s Editors blog, social media editor Chris Hamilton acknowledged the value of Twitter but concluded:

We’ve been clear that our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter.

Instead he points out that BBC journalists are able to inform the newsroom and tweet simultaneously:

We’re fortunate to have a technology that allows our journalists to transmit text simultaneously to our newsroom systems and to their own Twitter accounts.

On his Twitter stream, Chris sought to clarify the guidance to BBC News journalists:

It’s about the best way of breaking news on all our platforms – social networks, our own website, TV, radio.

— Chris Hamilton (@chrishams) February 8, 2012

Essential point is we have system that allows journalists to file and tweet at the same time.

— Chris Hamilton (@chrishams) February 8, 2012

The tensions over Twitter and breaking news result from the collision of two worlds – when a hierarchical media system in the hands of the few collides with a networked media system open to all.

The reasons for wanting to control the flow of news are understandable. Historically, news organisations have been the gate-keepers, deciding what is news, how to report it and when and how to distribute it.

In a nuanced post, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones acknowledges that “We are all feeling our way forward through the fog of this new media landscape.” He concludes:

Some would like to turn the clock back to a simpler time, when all power resided in the newsdesk, only star reporters got a byline, and sharing information with outsiders before the presses rolled or the bulletin began was a sacking offence.

But it is almost certainly too late for that.

The guidance for journalists not to break news on Twitter is based on a flawed understanding of today’s media ecosystem. It assumes that journalists still have a monopoly on breaking the news.

Repeatedly, the first news of a natural disaster or other major news story have emerged first on Twitter.  Nicola Bruno wrote an excellent paper (PDF) for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism on the emergence of Twitter as a breaking news network.

Understandably, a journalist tweeting a breaking news event is likely to have greater impact. This is what happened when the New York Times’ Brian Stelter retweeted a message from Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on the death of Bin Laden.

So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.

— Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn) May 2, 2011

But to advise journalists not to break news on Twitter is anachronistic. It ignores the value that a journalist and their parent organisation can gain by signalling that they are across a major development.

People who’ve heard that something has happened may wonder why a journalist with BBC or Sky News hasn’t tweeted it yet.

Moreover, tweeting the news can add to their credibility as a trusted news source, especially if Twitter is awash with rumour and speculation.  A message from a journalist at the BBC or Sky News is likely to be considered as a trusted source, potentially drive audiences to the website or broadcast outlets.

This is a valuable service to their audiences, even those not on Twitter. The value of Twitter is as a distributed network,where the reach of a message can grow exponentially with every retweet.

Arguably, there is an imperative for journalists to break news on Twitter to fulfil the role as a trusted and reliable source of accurate information.

(Disclosure: I worked for the BBC for 16 years and have worked with both Chris and Rory).

This post was updated to include Chris Hamilton’s comments on the BBC technology for filing text.

 

February 03 2012

14:23

#newsrw: Three pieces of advice for mobile reporting from Sky’s Nick Martin

Sky News correspondent Nick Martin gave three pieces of advice to those looking to get into mobile reporting at news:rewired – media in motion.

He identified how essential it is that journalists are engaging in mobile reporting and shared some of his experiences reporting from various stories using just an iPhone, including the London Riots.

Nick Martin also highlighted the importance of investigating accessories that can be added to enhance the quality of video and sound. One example he showed was an adapter to be able to plug in an XLR cable to record high quality audio.

Martin’s one big piece of advice is to practise. The key to getting better with mobile reporting is to “take the rough with the smooth”.

He also advised beginners not to panic. While it can seem daunting at times, Martin showcased examples where there was no choice but for reporters to get involved with recording video from their mobiles, such as when reporting from numerous locations on one story with only one cameraman. Martin told a story of how he was covering the deportation of two buses of illegal immigrants in America with one cameraman. They each went on one bus and it was his bus that gave the more interesting story – “like a scene from Scarface”. Martin was left with no choice but to use his iphone footage.

Martin’s final piece of advice was to use mobile reporting only when it was appropriate. He said it is not worth setting up a tripod and XLR cables for an iPhone when the cameraman is just five minutes away and time could be much better spent working out the story and what has happened.

October 06 2011

09:23

LIVE: Session 1A – Newsroom architecture

Given the growth of new and evolving roles within news organisations, this takes a look at some of the opportunities for integration and collaboration within the newsroom, from innovative ways to combine and connect departments to new ideas for collaboration between journalists and other digital roles.

With: Helje Solberg, executive editor, VG; Karl Schneider, head of editorial development, Reed Business Information; and James Weeks, executive producer, new media, Sky News.

May 27 2011

10:47

LIVE: Session 1B – Sorting the social media chaos

We have Matthew Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow session 1B ‘Sorting the social media chaos’, below.

Session 1B features: Nicola Hughes, data journalist, Data Miner UK; Alex Gubbay, social media editor, BBC News; Neal Mann, freelance field producer, Sky News; Fergus Bell, senior producer for the Associated Press. Moderated by Suw Charman-Anderson, social technologist.

news:rewired session 1B – Sorting the social media chaos

November 30 2010

11:33

Hyperlocal Voices: Richard Jones, Saddleworth News

Hyperlocal voices: Saddleworth News

Richard Jones, an experienced broadcast journalist, set up Saddleworth News just nine months ago. He hoped to combine his journalistic ambitions with a demanding routine as a stay-at home-father whilst providing more online information about an area which he claims “was relatively under-served by the traditional media”. Although not an easy task, Jones has successfully used social media as well as local news stories in order to secure an expanding fan base. This post is part of the Hyperlocal Voices series of interviews.

Who were the people behind the blog,  and what were their backgrounds?

I set it up myself. I used to be a full-time professional journalist. I graduated from the Broadcast Journalism course in Leeds in 2002, then spent six years at Sky News working in TV and radio.

After we relocated to Manchester because of my wife’s career, I freelanced at various radio stations until we had our first child in September 2009 and I gave up work to become a stay-at-home dad.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

Lots of reasons really, but two main themes. I’ll admit the first was selfishness. I couldn’t really combine irregular hours as a radio journalist with being a full-time dad, but I knew that I wanted to return to full-time work one day, so I needed to do something to keep my hand in.

I was also worried about how I’d fill my days, even with a small baby to look after, so was keen to take on a project to help keep me occupied.

The other reasons were more altruistic. When we were thinking of moving to Saddleworth we realised that there wasn’t actually that much information about the place online. I also noticed that, for an area with such a distinctive character, it was relatively under-served by the traditional media. So I thought I could use my journalism skills to do something positive for the community we were about to move into.

When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

We moved to Saddleworth in January 2010 and I started the blog the following month. It’s a self-hosted WordPress site.

I’ve written other blogs before (and continue to write about being a stay-at-home dad at www.likefatherlikedaughter.blogspot.com) using Blogger so I had some very basic experience of running a site and tinkering with HTML a little.

I knew in my head how I felt it should look, so it was just a case of picking a free WordPress theme and after an evening playing around I had it more or less as I wanted. I’ve been very impressed with how user-friendly and reliable WordPress is.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

The main one was Kate Feld’s Manchizzle [interviewed previously in the Hyperlocal Voices series]. When I lived in Manchester I used to go to her blog meet-ups, then got into going to the Social Media Cafe Manchester evenings. When I had the idea of doing a hyperlocal site I got lots of encouragement and ideas from people there.

I think the first hyperlocal site I saw was Linda Preston’s Darwen Reporter, now sadly no longer running. I definitely copied the blog format from her.

I wanted to get away from the typical information-heavy newspaper websites, partly because I think they’re often a bit confusing, but mostly because I didn’t want to feel under pressure to update it more than once a day.  And if you do one story a day on a blog, there’s always something new on top of the site to keep it fresh for regular readers.

How did – and do – you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

The similarities are to do with the basic skills of journalism. I still research stories, make phone calls, do interviews, write copy, take pictures, nurture contacts, take editorial decisions, just as I did when I worked in a newsroom. Although I have to compress all that into an hour or two each day during my daughter’s lunchtime nap!

There are plenty of differences, but one main one is that I don’t have to run my story ideas by an editor. So instead of hearing excuses like “I’m interested in that” or “Nobody cares” or “We did that last week/month/year” I can just do whatever I like.

For example, during the election campaign I decided to interview all the candidates standing in the general and local elections, so I went and did it. A local newspaper journalist told me he’d suggested the same thing, but his editor had said there “wasn’t space” in the paper for it. That’s the kind of public service a site like mine can provide.

What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

By far the biggest story of the year has been the local political situation. We had a bitterly-fought general election, a legal challenge, then the local MP Phil Woolas got found guilty of cheating and was thrown out of parliament.

I covered the campaign in much greater detail than anyone else at the time, and I’ve now built up a huge archive of articles about every aspect of the saga. It’s helped raise the profile and credibility of the site locally, and I’ve also given interviews and help to national journalists who have come to cover the story, which has hopefully given the site a bit of a wider reputation too.

The day of the Woolas verdict was the busiest ever for the site, with 1500 unique visits and a great amount of attention on Twitter. I have to take my daughter out with me on stories, and to their credit Oldham Council’s press team who were controlling the media let me into an ante-room so I could follow the verdict (I was doing Twitter updates with one hand, and trying to entertain her with a toy car in the other) and then into the news conference later.

I also had with me a crew of teenage media students from Oldham College who have been making some video reports for the site. I overheard someone say rather sniffily “Who are they covering it for, CBeebies?” but the fact people in this area are prepared to accept the site as legitimate journalism, no matter how unconventional some aspects of it are, I think says a lot about how far it’s come in such a short time.

What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

I was amazed when the site got more than 6,000 unique visits in the first full month. It’s increased steadily since, and last month there were 12,000.

The Woolas verdict means there have already been more than that during November, so it’ll be another new record.

I haven’t spent anything on promotion apart from getting a few business cards printed, but Facebook has been a great way of growing awareness and building a regular audience. There are almost 700 fans on there now.

October 27 2010

12:27

Games Designers and Journalists exploring new narratives.

Presenting Ideas

Presenting Ideas

Meld ‘upped sticks’  to London for its latest foray into new forms of cross platform narrative.  Coinciding with the London launch of Sandbox, UCLan’s creative and digital industries centre at the British Film Institute, journalists invited from the BBC, the Independent, the Guardian, SKY News, Johnston Press, Haymarket Media were joined by Skillset and the Broadcast Journalism Training Council to work with professional games designers and students from UCLan’s MA Games Design programme.

The aim of the day – to collaborate and develop a new game on the theme of ‘democracy’. The cross disciplinary teams were given a basic structure to work within. As well as making sure the end result was compelling, simple and innovative the games needed to:

  • demonstrate cause and effect (results from actions)
  • build/create a user community,
  • grow and develop with that community,
  • respond to users not direct them,
  • be social, inclusive and free.

The Sandbox team were on hand leading the newly formed groups through a series of exercises designed to foster creative collaboration. Four teams each produced a game concept and pitched it to their peers before assessing its viability and desirability.

One of the teams at work

One of the teams at work

Paul Egglestone, who set the project up, said: “What’s really interesting about a process like this is the very different approaches both Journalists and games creators take to narrative. Journalists think of themselves as ‘storytellers’ – as do games creators – but their priorities are very different. Gamers want to build a great game. A decent story provides the vehicle for the game whilst the focus is firmly on the gaming experience. Journalists don’t generally focus on the user experience – they concentrate on telling the story.”

This is the latest chapter in an ongoing project that draws together senior editorial personnel from the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the Independent, Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, Haymarket Media, Nokia research as well as freelancers, Indies and sector skills representatives. They’re all committed to working out where the future of journalism lies and to explore new ways of telling stories on digital platforms.

Developing ideas

Developing ideas

Andy Dickinson is leading the project for the School of Journalism, Media and Communication. He recognises the value of this contribution from working journalists taking time away from the cut and thrust of the day-to-day news cycle to collaborate across print, broadcast and online to determine the skills future journalists will need. He says: “The project is at a really exciting stage. We’ve already used the Sandbox method to develop three new MA level modules aimed directly at working journalists. The new digital journalism masters will survey the digital landscape and offer a range of intellectual, creative and digital or technical skills that our ever growing industry panel tell us they’ll be looking for in future.”

This part of the process isn’t due to finish until January 2011 but the first of the new digital modules are ready for delivery online and the School of Journalism, Media and Communication will be recruiting from September this year.

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October 13 2010

15:14

EUROPEAN NEWSPAPERS FACE THE DAY AFTER CHALLENGE

The rescue news from Chile arrived late to Europe so you will not find any major front page or coverage in today’s editions.

American newspaper had a better chance but in general the pattern was Big Pictures (TV was better) and Big Words (TV was better).

So, what we can expect tomorrow in the front pages of the best European newspapers?

Well, not too much.

They will try again the Big Pictures and Big Words easy game.

Ignoring that the rescue was a worldwide TV event and it’s going to be difficult to add new angles and clues to the big news of the day before…

Yes, I know that this is always difficult, but newspaper editors had many week in advance to plan for this magic moment.

TV did its work.

I watched BBC, News Sky News and CNN Chile and all of them did a superb job.

What European newspapers readers expect tomorrow is not to see again the same pictures, the same infographics, and the same news, but a more creative, analytical, pro-active and “news behind the news” stories.

But I doubt that our newspapers will do it.

Instead, like in music and as our grandmother will tell us when we were little ones, “if you don’t play well, at least play loud”

So expect more empty noise.

October 04 2010

11:36

June 30 2010

07:54

June 11 2010

14:36

Broadcast election editors go head-to-head at Media Society event

It is the 100 metres of the TV Factual Olympics. General election night. The three main news broadcasters – BBC, ITN and Sky News – vie to get results to the nation first. A month on, the election editors of Sky News and the BBC appeared at last night’s Media Society event in London entitled ‘Who won the TV election?

The BBC won the greater share of the audience on 6 May. They always do. But John McAndrew, editor of the Sky News offering was there to claim journalistic credit for being not just first but clearest on screen. His was deliberately not a heavily studio anchored show: “We knew what the BBC would do and we aimed off for that,” McAndrew said. He had surprising support from one member of the audience – the BBC’s former political correspondent Nicholas Jones. Jones had switched over early. Sky News, McAndrew said, went with plenty of straight news and little comment.

The David Dimbleby programme on the BBC was at the other end of the spectrum. There were virtual reality graphics aplenty from Jeremy Vine and scores of outside broadcasts. Craig Oliver, their editor, was at last night’s event to defend their coverage, or at least try to. He had a near impossible job when it came to the now notorious ‘ship of fools‘, a BBC barge moored in the Thames full of celebrities giving their take on the election. Not many of those at the event felt that Joan Collins or Bruce Forsyth ‘added to the sum total of human knowledge’, as one audience member succinctly put it. Another pointed out that the £70,000 allegedly spent on the boat (the only cost figure mentioned on a night when all were coy about what they spent) was money wasted.

Oliver was on surer ground defending the BBC position of not calling any result until the Returning Officer had. ITN seems to jump the gun almost as a matter of principle. Oliver, who edited the ITN election programme in 2005 before defecting, was dismissive of presenter Alastair Stewart’s recent tirade in the Press Gazette claiming that the BBC ‘had missed the story’. His absence from the discussion said it all according to Oliver.

Channel 4’s ‘Alternative Election Night’ – featuring comedians like Jimmy Carr and David Mitchell – was a deliberately offpiste offering but it worked, beating ITN in the ratings. Deputy head of news and current affairs Kevin Sutcliffe was there to explain the thinking behind the format and reveal that it would be used again. Their satirical approach attracted a young demographic and twice the audience he expected, Sutcliffe said, adding that he was impressed with the (unintentionally) satirical quality of the BBC coverage.

Attracting the most audience comment last night was the stunningly accurate exit poll shared by the broadcasters and put out on the stroke of ten. It got the result right to within one seat. Some felt it destroyed the drama and made the remainder of the coverage predictable, suggesting a return to separate polls. Sue Inglish, the BBC’s head of political programmes and a moving force behind the poll, was on hand to explain and defend. The sheer size and cost of the 125,000 sample poll made it impossible to do more than once. But Oliver, in a mild mea culpa, said the BBC studio gurus had been wrong to downplay the surprising exit poll results for the first hour after they were broadcast.

The event had the air of an inquest, but not a particularly rancourous one – and the majority of criticism was reserved for the absent ITN. There was mostly praise for the British broadcasters for whom a 100-metre dash became a five day marathon. If the reaction in the BBC Council Chamber last night is anything to go, they had an audience satisfied with the results.

John Mair is events director of the Media Society.This event was jointly organised by the Media Society and the BBC College of Journalism

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March 23 2010

10:18

March 08 2010

16:16

Online video: FT’s Stephen Pinches on opportunities for publishers with connected TV

Speaking at a discussion on the future of online video this morning, the Financial Times’ lead product manager Stephen Pinches coined a new concept for me: that of the “publisher-broadcaster”. Connected TV – the idea of internet-connected television sets or set-top boxes – will take publishers further into the broadcast realm, beyond video produced for websites and hopefully to create a more engaging experience for users by providing text, video and opportunities for interaction tailored to fit a front room setting.

Some broadcasters and digital media companies have already made the leap (Sky News in partnership with Yahoo has launched TV widgets to deliver breaking news by text and images to users’ TV sets) and some traditionally print players are also getting in on the act.

(On wobblecam) Journalism.co.uk asked Pinches where how he thought print publishers could get involved with connected TV:

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March 05 2010

14:55

Calling journalists to blog on International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March)

On Monday 8 March, it’s International Women’s Day, a global day “celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future,” partnered by Thomson Reuters.

To mark the occasion, Sky News is having a day of female-led broadcasting. The broadcaster announced:
“From sunrise to midnight, the news channel will be presented and produced exclusively by women in support of the globally renowned day, which honours the economic, political and social achievements of women with hundreds of events around the world.”

Reuters will be liveblogging here: http://live.reuters.com/Event/International_Womens_Day_2010_2

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on media owners “to take steps to raise women’s profile in the news, both as professionals and as news topics,” ahead of its survey to be released in Bahrain on Monday.

“The situation is deplorable,” said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. “Media organisations remain dominated by men the world over. Women must be given equal access to leadership. When that happens it will create a sea change in the news agenda and the way media professionals are treated.”

Here at Journalism.co.uk (where the editorial staff is predominantly female anyway), we thought it might be fun to host some themed comment on our blog. If you (male or female!) have a relevant post you’re burning to write, please let us know and we can publish it here – or link to your site/blog. Please contact judith [at] journalism.co.uk or leave a comment below.

  • Which parts of the industry are particularly male-dominated? Does it matter?
  • Has online technology helped balance the gender-split?
  • What would you like to see change within the industry?
  • What are your observations of male-female divide in the workplace?

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February 24 2010

12:45

Journalism often hamstrung by petty obstacles, says Sky News’ Mike Mcarthy

Leeds Trinity University College Journalism Week is running from Monday 22 until Friday 26 February. Speakers from across the industry will be at Leeds Trinity to talk about the latest trends in the news media, including Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger; BBC news director Helen Boaden, Sky News reporter Mike McCarthy and ITN political correspondent Chris Ship.

Journalists face a never-ending series of obstacles – and the most disturbing of all is secrecy, according to Sky News journalist Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy, who is Northern Bureau chief for Sky, told students at Leeds Trinity University College: “It is not necessarily the cloak and dagger secrecy of big government, it is often petty obstruction.”

He was speaking at the launch of the university’s Journalism Week, along with digital media expert Bill Thompson and YTV presenter Duncan Wood.

McCarthy spoke about how the media had challenged attempts by magistrates in Bradford to impose a Section 39 order preventing journalists naming nine-year-old stabbing victim Jack Taylor.

A challenge from a reporter covering the case led to the order being lifted and McCarthy said: “It is not easy to get on your feet and challenge the authority of the court . . . but if this had gone through, then what is to stop those magistrates and that solicitor in the future thinking that they can rubber-stamp other banning orders which they do not have the power to impose?”

He also talked about the severe restrictions imposed on reporters covering the inquest into the death of Greater Manchester police officer Ian Terry, with journalists unable to name officers giving evidence and forced to sit behind a huge screen, unable to see any of the proceedings.

Obstacles of a different kind were discussed by digital media expert Bill Thompson, who outlined the massive challenges facing journalists at a time of social and cultural revolution.

He said journalism was perhaps no longer about getting information – because so much was freely available over the internet.

“Perhaps what we do now is to put information in context and make sense of it. The future role of journalism is up for grabs. We are living through a revolution but we are causing it because we are doing the things that are bringing change about,” he told students.

The final speaker on Journalism Week’s opening day was YTV presenter Duncan Wood, who talked about his career working in news and sport and the challenges of working as a GMTV reporter, getting up at 3.30am and traveling all over the North of England. He also spoke about the challenges of interviewing people who really did not want to talk, confessing that his most difficult experience was interviewing Sylvester Stallone’s mother, Jackie, sat on her bed.

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February 23 2010

09:31

Election fall out – between journalists

Following last week’s election 2.0 debate at the Frontline Club, the Guardian’s digital media research editor, Kevin Anderson shared some fairly critical thoughts on his personal blog. Moderator, Sky News political correspondent Niall Paterson (social media practitioner but sceptic) wasn’t too impressed by Anderson’s charges against him.

It’s difficult to summarise this one fairly, so I’d urge you to follow the link and read the 11 comments – most of them mini-essays – in full, if you’re interested in the election, journalists and the influence of social media in politics. But mostly if you’re interested in the politics of journalism 2010.

The subsequent blog run-in is very illustrative of some of the ongoing tensions in newsrooms: the perceived regard held for online-only journalists or social media specialists; the tools-for-tools sake debate; and how (or how not) to prioritise social media in our work.

Maybe, like Anderson says, we need to start thinking about the impact of social media on the people not the journalism at these events, but in the meantime, this debate is worth a read.

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January 20 2010

10:57

Reporting Haiti: How news orgs are covering the story online

A week on since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, how are news websites covering the story? What tools are being used and how are media organisations helping those affected with information on top of news for a wider audience?

Here’s a selection of sites that have made the most of multimedia tools to break and roll reports of the crisis. Please add your own examples in the comment space below or email Journalism.co.uk.

Breaking news of the quake
Journalism student Emily Purser was interning at Sky News when the earthquake happened:

Unsurprisingly, the earthquake took out all the landline and mobile phone lines in Haiti immediately. This obviously disabled the country spectacularly – as well as the pressing issue of not being able to speak to each other, it meant that Haitians were not able to speak to the rest of the world. As a result, the classic ways of gathering information for a rolling news channel – call everyone we know and find out what’s happening – were redundant. We had a map, and that was it.

Twitter, Google Chat, Skype and Facebook were used to contact sources and conduct interviews; while YouTube and searches of TwitPic provided on-the-ground footage. These tools were being picked up by the entire newsroom, Purser tells us, not just the online team. What’s more the geography of the newsroom (the online desk is right next to the studio floor, for example) helped grow the story across platforms, she adds.

Beet.tv has this video interview with Reuters’ global editor of politics and world affairs Sean Macguire, who explains how the news agency builds up a network of local stringers to prepare for crisis coverage.

Macguire describes how some of the first video footage of the disaster was sent back to London by a Reuters’ videographer thanks to a “friendly embassy” in Port au Prince with an internet connection.

Helping to find the missing
Online news coverage and multimedia from Haiti has been used to locate missing persons by relatives. CNN in particular is using its citizen journalism site iReport to help connect people with family, friends and loved ones in Haiti.

An ‘assignment’ on the iReport site asks users to submit photos of missing people, including their last name, first name, age, city and any other significant details. So far, 6,753 iReports have been sent in for this assignment.

With CNN’s main site, a database of all the reports submitted by users has been created, which can be searched by name and is updated with information about those missing relatives and friends featured in the iReports.

“We are also in the process of integrating incoming e-mails, phone calls to CNN and tweets to the #haitimissing hashtag,” a CNN spokesman said – helping individuals conduct a wider search for information about missing loved ones.

“Since the earthquake hit, the Impact Your World page has had an increase of 7,545 per cent in page views over the previous week.  The site lists opportunities to donate via phone, text and website, with special sections devoted to texting and international currencies.”

And there have been some good news stories as a result – survivor Karen Jean-Gilles  didn’t know if her in-laws had survived the quake until she saw the photo of Joachin “Clark” Jean-Gilles and his wife Marie on the front of the CNN.com homepage.

Social media coverage and real-time tools
Digiphile blog has a great round-up of this, but Twitter lists have been used extensively by news organisations to group together twitters and correspondents on-the-ground in Haiti.

National Public Radio (NPR) built an extensive list of sources located by recommendation, referral and through a series of geolocated searches. This fed into an initial breaking news story, which was updated throughout the day on 13 January, and has informed the site’s topic page on the crisis.

The Associated Press (AP) is continuing to build its social networking presence by offering behind-the-scenes updates via Facebook.

Elsewhere the New York Times is bolstering its main news channel coverage of Haiti by using its The Lede blog to provide rolling coverage. The blog is updating with links to reports from other news sources as well as the Times’ own coverage and has posts filed under different days stretching back to when the earthquake occurred. The aggregation of multimedia reports on the disaster available on the site’s homepage has been replicated through a Facebook page posting updates on the situation in Haiti.

The Times’ homepage currently features this rolling picture gallery, but the Lede also links to this Flickr map of geotagged photos from the area that have been uploaded online.

The site has also set up an online photo gallery to post pictures of missing persons in Haiti submitted by friends, relatives and colleagues. In addition to the Lede’s posting of comments from survivors and those trying to reach loved ones, this is both a valuable service and a source of news leads.

In Haiti
And then compare the online coverage with the media on the ground in Haiti.

This report from the Washington Post on Haitian radio station Signal 90.5fm, which has reportedly stayed on air without pause since the quake struck, provides a stark contrast to the multimedia news coverage elsewhere.

(It also reminded me of an interview with independent Zimbabwe radio station SWRA, whose founder Gerry Jackson extolled the virtues of traditional, radio-based communication and media in such situations.

Writes the Post’s William Booth:

In a city without electricity, with no functioning newspapers, no TV signals, no telephone lines, and cellular service so spotty that it is hardly service at all, radio stations in Haiti have become the lifeline of news about the living and dead.

(…) The station operates on two diesel generators and owner Mario Vian’s promise not to stop.

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January 14 2010

07:00

January 13 2010

20:25

HAITI, SKY NEWS AND TWITTER

2010-01-13_2023

How Sky News got the scoop.

A great story to be told.

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