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September 21 2010

07:00

Hyperlocal Voices: Robin Byles (Sheffieldblog.com and Crosspool.info)

Hyperlocal voices: Sheffield blog

Here’s another hyperlocal voice: Robin Byles set up Sheffieldblog in 2008 when he returned to the city after working for the BBC. The site focuses on “The kind of stuff that may get featured as an aside in the local papers, but actually people are quite interested in and in the context of online, works really well.” More recently he’s also been involved in Crosspool.info. Here’s the full interview:

Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?

I set the blog up on my own. I studied Media and Communications at UCE [now Birmingham City University], moved to London where I worked at the BBC for 8 years as a web editor and have now moved back north where I’m a digital editor for the University of Sheffield.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

A mixture of things really. I had seen one or two local blogs and knew that there wasn’t a major one covering my home town of Sheffield, so quite fancied setting something up.

I think living away from the area had given me a yearning for local news but not just the traditional stuff that I could read in the local paper or local news website.

I was also interested in the stories that people were talking about that didn’t always make the normal news outlets. This interesting stuff was out there on the internet and I liked the idea of being able to collate all this content and promote it from one place – a non-automated aggregator, I suppose.

I’m very fond of my home city and the pending move back home seemed like a good excuse to get something up and running.

I was also on the lookout for jobs at the time and knew that the more varied stuff that my CV had on it – in particular a place where I could do a bit of writing – the more it would help me find work. So part of the motivation was also a professional one.

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

It was set up in March 2008 using an off-the-shelf WordPress.com theme. It has been customised with a few widgets and a header image but it is nothing that most other web-literate people couldn’t do.

The Twitter account (@sheffieldblog) followed in October 2008. As well as access to a computer, having an iPhone has been really handy to keep updating stories when on the move, in particular using photo-blogging services like Twitpic.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

Createdinbirmingham.com was one that I followed so I guess that was an influence – and my blog certainly took a steer from it in terms of a bit of a bias towards the arts and creative content.

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

As long as Sheffield blog is a one-person operation run in my spare time, there is no way that it can compete with traditional news setups in terms of resources, breadth or depth of coverage. Twitter lets me give occasional breaking news a mention, but having a full time job means I can only really do updates during the day over lunch.

Because of this, I tend not to blog about straight news stories that people could have picked up in the traditional media. Instead I might try to focus on something a bit more quirky or feature-based that has caught my eye on Twitter, on the internet, while walking round town or something I have picked up or through friends. The kind of stuff that you might mention to your mate over a pint and may get featured as an aside in the local papers, but actually people are quite interested in and in the context of online, works really well.

There have been one or two times where I have posted about something and a couple of days later it has popped up in the Star or Sheffield Telegraph. I’m not saying they wouldn’t have had the story without my blog, but it is satisfying to at least know that people may have seen it on my blog first. It also shows that journalists are using the internet/forums/blogs/RSS feeds to hunt out stories.

Newspaper websites have usually only promoted their own content whereas I’m also always on the lookout for mentions of Sheffield in the media in articles, blog posts, videos or TV shows that people may find interesting.

Although Sheffield blog doesn’t really lead on campaigns like some blogs and newspapers, I do take the opportunity to try to promote local worthy local causes that may not have such a voice in the local media e.g. smaller campaigns, grassroots initiatives.

As the blog’s popularity has grown this has become harder as I get regular requests from businesses, organisations, charities etc. to plug events and I have to be careful it doesn’t just turn into a route for promotion with no editorial integrity.

The local media has caught up and are now plugging their content on Twitter, but as far as I can see they are all automated feeds. Everything I tweet is put together myself and I think people appreciate a human filter sifting what goes out.

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

In terms of popularity and statistics, big events in the city have driven interest in the blog, e.g. the demolition of the cooling towers and the Tramlines music festival.

Having the Twitter account during the floods of June 2009 meant I could retweet flood news from the hundreds of followers around the city and help people get home safely.

Having 2,800+ Twitter followers means I can point people to my content and other content really quickly and this promotion can continue as people retweet items of interest. It can also be a source for stories as I monitor the people I follow and mentions of Sheffield.

The blog also includes a directory for Sheffield organisations and businesses on Twitter.

On the down side, because tweeting is so quick and easy, it has made writing blog posts much harder so you have to stay disciplined. The blog is also now on Facebook.

From the start, RSS feeds as a source of information have been really important. My feed reader is signed up to every single Sheffield/South Yorkshire blog and website that I can find and also includes various news alerts. These have always been a good source for stuff to blog about and point people to. I’m always keen to promote content from other Sheffield-based blogs that have sprung up over the last few months and see these as a rich source of quality content.

I think getting a balance between plugging the blog’s own content via Twitter and also pointing people to other interesting Sheffield content is really important. I estimate that less than 1 in 10 tweets point to my blog so I don’t think that is a bad ratio.

In terms of content the blog is definitely steered by the things I am interested in, e.g. digital, creative industries, music, development, regeneration, architecture, food and drink.

The blog continues to grow with numbers of page views and Twitter followers. I’ve previously put out feelers to see if anyone else would like to write posts but didn’t have much response and of course there is an administrative overhead in doing this so I’d need to think carefully about what extra time I could devote to this before it properly taking the next step up.

I like the way that anyone could set up a similar blog in half an hour using free platforms like WordPress and Twitter to publish their content. Technology isn’t much of a barrier any more; the most important things you need are passion for the subject area and the motivation to stay committed to posting regularly.

Full disclosure: I teach at Birmingham City University, formerly UCE, where Robin studied (although I didn’t know he studied there when I approached him).

06:00

Hyperlocal Voices: Philip John (The Lichfield Blog)

Hyperlocal voices - Lichfield Blog

In another Hyperlocal Voices post, Philip John talks about how The Lichfield Blog was launched to address a gap in local news reporting. In less than 2 years it has taken on a less opinionated tone and more “proper reporting”, picking up national recognition and covering its costs along the way.

Who were the people behind Lichfield Blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?

Ross Hawkes founded the blog in January. Ross is a senior lecturer in journalism at Staffs Uni and previously worked at BPM. He started his journalistic career at the now defunct Lichfield Post. There’s also Nick, a semi-professional photographer who helps out with the creative side of things and I look after the techy side of the web site as looking after WordPress is where I specialise. We also have a good group of contributors and a couple of advisors, many of whom are either current or former journalists at local newspapers.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

Ross’ wife heard sirens going past their house one day and was curious as to where they were going. Ross realised no-one was reporting those kind of low-level goings on and that with the beat reporter disappearing there was a gap for community-focused news.

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

Ross started the blog on 19th January 2009 on Blogspot (which you can still see here). I got involved while it was there and persuaded Ross to move to WordPress.com which he did on 24th Feb 2009 (also still there). At first the blog was very blog like, where Ross had a bit of a moan but also asked some good questions of the local authorities and certain attitudes to issues in Lichfield. It was quickly picked up by the Twitter community in Lichfield, including myself and after a tweetup it just sky-rocketed and more people got involved.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

Probably the Mercury’s website, thisislichfield.co.uk because they only publish stories on Thursday when they come out in print as well. It was created more out of need than being based upon anything else that was going on. Of course, we later realised just how many people had done exactly the same!

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

I’d say we both have the same aim really – to report what’s going on. But that’s where the similarity ends. We’re not constrained by space – we have a sort of motto that we’ll print anything so long as it’s relevant to Lichfield; it’s why we can have 13 articles in 5 months about lost dogs.

We’re actually in the community too, which means we’re close to the action and can respond quicker, and because we do that we have a following that will gladly provide us with stories. There’s two examples I always use – the story of a fire at a local pub which was on the blog just 3 hours after the call to the emergency services (who were impressed we were on it so quickly), and the story of a body found in Beacon Park which was reported hours later because my house mate alerted me to the Police presence on his way to work enabling me to go and get a photo while Ross phone the Police for details.

We’ve become actively involved in some local events too so we’re not just observing and reporting what’s going on but taking part and people seem to really respond to that. I think it shows are commitment to Lichfield, not just to the success of the site.

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

The first was the move from a blog style to the more straight-laced independent, impartial stance we have now. Without much discussion it was obvious there was a gap for proper reporting and so the blog took a more serious style – we believed that we should provide the info and let the community decide what they think about it, rather than us putting a slant on. That and the acceptance as a news source by the local authorities including the City and District Councils, Staffs Police and our MP.

We’ve also been taken aback by the willingness of local businesses to advertise – we’ve consistently paid our costs through that without having to put any effort into selling the slots.

And we’re starting to generate revenue in other ways now, too, which is helping to make continuing the work worthwhile.

The recognition we’ve had both locally and nationally has been astounding. We’ve been in the national press, on Radio 4 and mentioned in the House of Commons a couple of times as well as being asked to talk about our story at various events and in interviews. It really validates the effort we’re putting in because it shows we’re making some sort of difference to the local media landscape.

September 16 2010

11:28

Hyperlocal voices: Kate Feld (Manchizzle)

Manchester hyperlocal blog Manchizzle

Kate Feld is a US citizen who launched the Manchester blog Manchizzle in 2005 and founded the Manchester Blog Awards shortly after. Her perspective on blogging is informed by her background as a journalist, she says, but with a few key differences. The full interview – part of the hyperlocal voices series – follows:

Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?

Me, Kate Feld. My background is in newspapers. I worked as a reporter on local and regional papers in my native USA (local beat, city hall, some investigative) then eventually worked for the AP on the national desk in New York.

I moved to the Manchester area in Dec 2003 to live with my boyfriend, who I eventually married. I intended to continue to try to do local/investigative reporting but very quickly realised there was no way for me to continue in news here. So I switched to writing about culture.

In 2004 I was the editor of a startup culture and listings magazine in the city, and when that went bust I had time on my hands and a lot about Manchester I wanted to write. So I started the blog. It was my second blog, having experimented with blogging when I was in journalism school at Columbia in NYC in 2002-03.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

There weren’t many people blogging about Manchester at the time. I had a lot of enthusiasm for exploring the city and its culture and a blog seemed like the best medium for that. It was also a platform that enabled me to experiment with my writing.

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

I set it up on Blogger in the summer of 2005. It was pretty straightforward.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

Lots of the blogs in the NYC bloggers subway map, which I was briefly part of. That network inspired me to write about what people were blogging about in Manchester and put together my blogroll, which aims to have links to all Manchester-based blogs.

My experienced attending blogmeets run by the NYC Bloggers group led me to start organising blogmeets and eventually start up the Manchester Blog Awards which I have been running as part of the Manchester Literature Festival for the past four years.

Other blogs that have influenced mine: Gawker during the time of Elizabeth Spiers (it’s awful now). Sarah Hepola, themorningnews.org, Gothamist. Neil Gaiman’s blog.

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

Because I’ve been a newspaper reporter, I think my perspective on this may be different from other bloggers’. In some respects the roles aren’t that different. I run my blog like the newspapers I worked on. I don’t publish anything that isn’t confirmed, cross-checked and attributed. I correct mistakes quickly and prominently. I aim to be as transparent as possible about conflicts of interest. I meticulously spell check and aim for a high standard of writing and grammar.

Sometimes my blog posts are newsy, sometimes they are long and deliberative and wouldn’t be out of place on an opinion page, other times they are more like the what’s on calendar of a culture magazine.

I think people read it to stay informed about Manchester culture on and offline, and might share my interests in arts, media, literature and social media, so it’s kind of like a specialist publication.

Broadly my aims are much the same writing a Manchester-based blog as they were when I was editor of a Manchester-based magazine… to inform, to entertain, to develop and follow through on my own thoughts/passions/interests and provoke conversation and deliberation about interesting stuff happening in the city.

But a few key differences stick out: I am fully independent, a one-woman operation and have no advertising, not even Google ads. I publish my blog mainly for fun, not for profit, though as I am also a freelance writer my work has to come first. And unlike a news professional, as a blogger I am perceived as having little credibility, accountability and low standards (although sadly this can also be said of our local newspaper!)

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

Right now is an interesting one. Myself and some other bloggers are in the process of creating an aggregator site and possibly a linked newspaper featuring content from Manchester blogs. This has come directly out of the community around the Manchizzle blog, and I feel my efforts on the blog, organising blogmeets and championing local blogging through the blog awards and various other locally-oriented projects I’ve worked on or am working on (The BBC Manchester Blog, running the Creative Tourist blog etc.) have contributed significantly to the development of an exceptionally involved and active local blogosphere in Manchester.

September 15 2010

18:44

From a 15-year-old’s blog to MSM: Bleachgate and Miracle Mineral Solutions

Bleachgate - Rhys Morgan's video blog

Rhys Morgan's video blog on Bleachgate

Journalists wanting evidence of the value of blogs should take a look at the ‘Bleachgate’ story which has taken a month to filter up from 15-year-old Rhys Morgan’s blog post through other skeptic and science bloggers into The Guardian.

Rhys has Crohn’s Disease and was sceptical of the Miracle Mineral Solutions ‘treatment’ being plugged on a support forum that was also described by the FDA as industrial bleach. The forum didn’t like his scepticism, and banned him. He blogged about his concerns, and it went from there.

I can only hope that enough people link to The Guardian’s piece with the words Miracle Mineral Solutions to help raise awareness of the concerns. *Cough*.

September 01 2010

14:00

All the web’s a stage: Scholar Joshua Braun on what we show and what we choose to hide in journalism

Joshua Braun is a media scholar currently pursuing his Ph.D in Communications at Cornell. His work is centered at the intriguing intersection of television and the web: He’s currently studying the adoption of blogging software by network news sites, and the shifts that that adoption are bringing about in terms of the relationship between one-way communication something more conversational. At this spring’s IOJC conference in Austin, Braun presented a paper (pdf) discussing the results of his research — a work that considered, among other questions:

As journalistic institutions engage more and more fully in interactive online spaces, how are these tensions changing journalism itself? How do the technical systems and moderation strategies put in place shape the contours of the news, and how do these journalistic institutions make sense of these systems and strategies as part of their public mission? What is the role of audiences and publics in this new social and technical space? And how do journalistic institutions balance their claim to be “town criers” and voices for the public with the fact that their authority and continued legal standing depend at times on moderating, and even silencing the voices of individuals?

The whole paper is worth reading. (You can also watch Braun’s IOJC talk here.) But one aspect of it that’s especially fascinating, for our purposes, is Braun’s examination of TV-network news blogs in the context of the sociology of dramaturgy (in particular, the work of Erving Goffman).

News organizations are each a mix of public and private — preparing information for a public audience, but generally doing so in a private way. As with a theater production, there’s a performance going on for the audience but a big crew backstage. Blogging represents a potential shift in this dynamic by exposing people and processes that would otherwise be kept hidden behind a byline or a 90-second news piece.

And the blogging interplay — between presentation and communication, between product and process, and, perhaps most interestingly, between process and performance — is relevant to any news organization trying to navigate familiar journalistic waters with new vessels. I spoke with Braun about that dynamic and the lessons it might have to offer; below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

Megan Garber: I’m intrigued by the idea of theater dynamics you mention in the paper — in particular, the distinction between backstage and front-stage spaces for news performances. Can you explain that in a bit more detail?

Joshua Braun: This is Steve Hilgartner’s idea. He took this idea of stage management from classic sociology, which has normally been an interpersonal theory, and decided it worked for organizations. He looked at the National Academy, and noticed the way in which they keep all their deliberations effectively secret and then release a document at the end that gives the consensus opinion of the scientific community. And there are two aspects of that. One is that it’s intended to protect the integrity of the process. So when you’re a big policy-advisory body like the National Research Council, you have senators who will call you and tell you they don’t want you working on something; you’ll have lobbyists who’ll want to influence your results; you’ll have, basically, a lot of political pressure. So there’s this aspect in which this system of enclosure — in the Goffman/Hilgartner metaphor — this keeping of things backstage, really is meant to protect the integrity of the process.

But it also has the other effect, which is that it also gives the illusion of the scientific community speaking with a single voice. So basically, all the messy process of sausages being made — and all the controversial issues that, by definition, the National Research Council is dealing with — you don’t see reflected in the reports. Or you see it in very official language. So it gives them a tremendous amount of authority, this illusion of the scientific community speaking with one voice, and they cultivate that. I was actually a graduate fellow at the National Academies, and they definitely want that — they recognize that the authority of the documents rests on that.

And many organizations that deal with information and knowledge production, including journalism, operate in this way, frequently. The publication of the finished news item and the enclosure of the reporting process — there’s a very real sense that that protects the authority of the process. So if you’re investigating a popular politician, you need that. And at the same time, it protects the brand and the legal standing and the authority of the organization, and bolsters that. Those things are very reliant on this process of enclosure, oftentimes.

And so what you see in the new media spaces, and these network experiments with blogging, is that sort of process. They’ve taken a medium that they themselves talked about in terms of accountability and transparency and openness and extended it to this traditional stage management process. They continue to control what remains backstage and what goes front-stage. And there are good justifications for doing that. But they’ve also extended that to the process of comment moderation. You’ll get pointed to a description of why comments are moderated the way they are — but you’ll never see exactly why a comment is spammed or not. That’s not unique to the news, either. But it’s an interesting preservation of the way the media’s worked for a long time.

And this has been described by other scholars, as well. So Alfred Hermida has a really neat piece on blogging at the BBC where he talks about much the same thing. He uses different terms — he talks about “gatekeeping,” as opposed to this notion of stage management — but it’s a pretty robust finding across a lot of institutions.

And I don’t want to portray it as something unique to journalism. This process of self-presentation and this performance of authority is widespread — and maybe necessary to journalism. I think the jury’s out on that.

MG: Definitely. Which brings up the question of how authority is expressed across different media. Does broadcast, for example, being what it is, have a different mandate than other types of journalism?

JB: Right. One of the remarkable things about broadcast news is the amount of stage management that you see in the traditional product. So if you look at an organization like ABC News, for instance — before their recent mass layoffs — they have several dozen correspondents: 77 or so people. But they have 1,500 total staff. And when you’re producing for a visual medium, you’re very selective about what appears on front-stage — this mise-en-scène of network news: what appears on camera and what ends up on the cutting-room floor, and so on. The vast majority of their newsgathering operation — the desk assistants and the bookers and the people who do all the pre-interviewing and the off-air correspondents — are people who never appear on-air. No network is its anchor.

So there’s that aspect, in which a large portion of the news ecosystem isn’t visible to the public — and there’s an argument to be made that having a small set of news personalities with whom audiences can identify is good for the product — and there are a lot of organizations where the vast majority of people involved in things don’t really speak. So that was one of the interesting aspects of looking at the blogging efforts of network news: Once that somewhat natural distinction between on-air and off-air talent and support staff disappears, who becomes visible online?

And you do have a lot of producers, a lot of bookers and other types of professionals who appear on the blogs, which is a really fascinating thing. The blogs are an extension of the stage management thing, but also a challenge to that model.

Image from daveynin used under a Creative Commons License.

August 27 2010

14:54

Washington Post Caught Napping at Imaginary Intersection

Of this we can be certain: There is no such thing as the intersection of Mozart Place and 16th Street NW. These two Washington, D.C, thoroughfares in the Adams-Morgan area parallel each other.

So when people who knew the neighborhood read the Washington Post's "Crime Scene" post on Aug. 12 about a homicide in the area, and saw a reference to such a location as the place where the victim was found, they knew something was wrong. In fact, the first three commenters on the story pointed out the mistake.

What happened next was that the Post quickly corrected the goof, noted the fix and moved on. Right?

If only. In fact, the error remains in the online version of the story as I write this, two weeks later. The comments pointing out the mistake sit at the end of the post, without any response or acknowledgment from the Post.

Bug Report

Chris Amico filed a bug about the error at MediaBugs, and we decided to handle it. (Right now we're still primarily serving the San Francisco Bay Area.) We contacted the Post. Two emails and five days later, we got a response from Post deputy managing editor Milton Coleman.

Coleman said the paper planned to "set the record straight." He also pointed out that since the reference to the non-existent intersection was made in a passage attributed to a police spokesman, technically the Post hadn't actually made a mistake, and therefore the Post would publish a clarification, not a correction.

Four days after that, on Sat., Aug. 21, more than a week after the original mistake, the Post did publish a correction. Good luck finding it on the Post website, though. The paper does have a dedicated online corrections page, which is linked from the News menu in the top navigation bar. Yet the Mozart Place correction notice doesn't show up on this listing. Meanwhile, there's also a link to "corrections" in the footer of the Post website, but right now that link points -- inexplicably and uselessly -- to the corrections page for a single day two weeks ago.

So there is some correction confusion at the paper, and it's not easy to find the Mozart Place correction notice. Which wouldn't matter if the Post had bothered to correct the online version of the article (with a link to the correction notice). That, for whatever reason, has not happened yet.

Online First

Is this a really minor error? You bet -- although it does matter to the people who posted comments about it at the Post site and who filed a report at MediaBugs. Don't the editors of the Washington Post have more important stuff to worry about? Undoubtedly. That's my point.

This isn't a complex or politically charged issue requiring legal consultations or editorial huddles. It's a simple matter of fact that's verifiable in half a minute. The more that a news organization like the Post publishes brief, quick-hit items online, the more of this kind of error it's likely to make. Why not streamline the process? The Post calls the Crime Scene report a blog; why can't it function more like one?

Correcting an error of this magnitude shouldn't require days of deliberation, the valuable time of a deputy managing editor, or concern over distinctions between "correction" and "clarification" that are meaningless to the public. It ought to be a simple matter to go in and fix the error on the website, as bloggers routinely do. And if the web editors want to keep this process accountable and transparent, as they should, all they have to do is make revisions to published content accessible. It can be done!

Web corrections ought to happen first; let print catch up. Instead, too often the leisurely gait of the print operation seems to hamstring the website from taking care of things.

When I discuss these ideas with newspaper managers, they usually agree in principle but then point to technical barriers. "Our content management system is so old and clunky," they say. "We just can't do it."

That excuse might have been credible 15, 10, even 5 years ago. But it's time to stop giving news organizations a pass on this account. They've had years to get their technological act together, to think about how to coordinate print and online in general and specifically in the corrections process. If they can't do it today, it's little wonder readers think that accuracy just isn't their priority.

UPDATE August 27: At some point shortly after this post was published (or, conceivably, shortly before), the Washington Post edited the news item in question to remove the reference to the non-existent intersection. There's no mention or record of the change on the page. (Although there is a reference to the item being "updated," this notice has been on the page for roughly two weeks already.)

14:54

Washington Post Caught Napping at Imaginary Intersection

Of this we can be certain: There is no such thing as the intersection of Mozart Place and 16th Street NW. These two Washington, D.C, thoroughfares in the Adams-Morgan area parallel each other.

So when people who knew the neighborhood read the Washington Post's "Crime Scene" post on Aug. 12 about a homicide in the area, and saw a reference to such a location as the place where the victim was found, they knew something was wrong. In fact, the first three commenters on the story pointed out the mistake.

What happened next was that the Post quickly corrected the goof, noted the fix and moved on. Right?

If only. In fact, the error remains in the online version of the story as I write this, two weeks later. The comments pointing out the mistake sit at the end of the post, without any response or acknowledgment from the Post.

Bug Report

Chris Amico filed a bug about the error at MediaBugs, and we decided to handle it. (Right now we're still primarily serving the San Francisco Bay Area.) We contacted the Post. Two emails and five days later, we got a response from Post deputy managing editor Milton Coleman.

Coleman said the paper planned to "set the record straight." He also pointed out that since the reference to the non-existent intersection was made in a passage attributed to a police spokesman, technically the Post hadn't actually made a mistake, and therefore the Post would publish a clarification, not a correction.

Four days after that, on Sat., Aug. 21, more than a week after the original mistake, the Post did publish a correction. Good luck finding it on the Post website, though. The paper does have a dedicated online corrections page, which is linked from the News menu in the top navigation bar. Yet the Mozart Place correction notice doesn't show up on this listing. Meanwhile, there's also a link to "corrections" in the footer of the Post website, but right now that link points -- inexplicably and uselessly -- to the corrections page for a single day two weeks ago.

So there is some correction confusion at the paper, and it's not easy to find the Mozart Place correction notice. Which wouldn't matter if the Post had bothered to correct the online version of the article (with a link to the correction notice). That, for whatever reason, has not happened yet.

Online First

Is this a really minor error? You bet -- although it does matter to the people who posted comments about it at the Post site and who filed a report at MediaBugs. Don't the editors of the Washington Post have more important stuff to worry about? Undoubtedly. That's my point.

This isn't a complex or politically charged issue requiring legal consultations or editorial huddles. It's a simple matter of fact that's verifiable in half a minute. The more that a news organization like the Post publishes brief, quick-hit items online, the more of this kind of error it's likely to make. Why not streamline the process? The Post calls the Crime Scene report a blog; why can't it function more like one?

Correcting an error of this magnitude shouldn't require days of deliberation, the valuable time of a deputy managing editor, or concern over distinctions between "correction" and "clarification" that are meaningless to the public. It ought to be a simple matter to go in and fix the error on the website, as bloggers routinely do. And if the web editors want to keep this process accountable and transparent, as they should, all they have to do is make revisions to published content accessible. It can be done!

Web corrections ought to happen first; let print catch up. Instead, too often the leisurely gait of the print operation seems to hamstring the website from taking care of things.

When I discuss these ideas with newspaper managers, they usually agree in principle but then point to technical barriers. "Our content management system is so old and clunky," they say. "We just can't do it."

That excuse might have been credible 15, 10, even 5 years ago. But it's time to stop giving news organizations a pass on this account. They've had years to get their technological act together, to think about how to coordinate print and online in general and specifically in the corrections process. If they can't do it today, it's little wonder readers think that accuracy just isn't their priority.

August 25 2010

17:55

While Others Shrink, KQED Expands Cross-Platform News

Last month, KQED News in San Francisco dramatically expanded the scope of its news coverage with a new website, an increase from six to 16 local radio newscasts and the addition of eight news staffers, including six producers/reporters, a developer and a social media specialist. Its expansion will continue over the next several months (look for a new news blog in the next couple of months).

The changes at KQED reflect a system-wide emphasis on experimentation and news expansion by public media outlets. Since the release of the Knight Commission's report, Informing Communities - Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, last October, station-based news projects have grown substantially. Large, cross-platform projects are becoming more prevalent, especially among public media organizations with the resources to produce them. See, for example, some of the innovative work being done by outlets like WYNC and WBUR.

Cross-Platform Coverage + Collaboration

KQED's news site combines coverage from KQED Public Radio, KQED Public Television, and KQEDnews.org. In addition to cross-platform news coverage within KQED, the site aims to provide seamless integration of local, national, and international coverage (thanks to extensive integration of NPR's API); in-depth news and commentary (including investigative reporting); and real-time weather and traffic updates. Eventually, the site will incorporate additional interactive features to make news stories more dynamic and relevant to Northern California residents.

According to Tim Olson, KQED's vice president of digital media and education, the expanded site is part of an overall increased push in news coverage. This shift is not the result of a new dedicated source of funding. Rather, said Olson, "It was something [KQED president and CEO] John Boland wanted to do for a long time. We restructured the budget to accommodate these changes."

The new site builds on KQED's history of successful collaborative initiatives. For example, KQED Quest is a "multimedia series exploring Northern California science, environment and nature." Quest integrates radio, television, and online coverage in a site that features maps, a community blog, and hands-on explorations.

KQED News also already has a wealth of in-depth news reports that integrate social media and Web 2.0 technologies. Take, for example, Climate Watch, which provides continuous coverage of climate-related news and incorporates mapping projects such as Reservoir Watch, which tracks the state's water reservoir levels. There's also California's Water Bond - Where Would the Money Go?, which explores the distribution of funds in recent California water-related legislation.

reservoir watch.jpg

Another special feature, Governing California, invites users to learn about California government. This feature includes a California Budget Challenge game that allows users to submit their thoughts on spending decisions, and an interactive timeline of reform history in the state.

Additionally, "Health Dialogues," an exploration of health and health care in the state, includes an interactive map of health issues in rural California and Healthy Ideas, an eight-week special project that invited health care professionals to share their ideas on health care reform.

KQED News also incorporates maps, Twitter feeds, blogs, podcasts, video and user commenting on its news stories. KQED radio dedicates a portion of airtime to listener feedback, and the integrated site includes Perspectives, a section that provides two-minute audio commentaries from listeners each day.

Listen to this recent Perspective audio report from a KQED listener:

Traffic Increase & Challenges

Since the launch of the expanded site, KQED News has seen a 10-fold increase in the number of users, an impressive feat considering that, according to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Measured by audience size and budget, KQED is the largest public station in the country with TV and radio under one roof." KQED is growing in terms of partnerships as well: The organization currently has ongoing partnerships with upwards of 25 other news outlets, including organizations like the Center for Investigative Reporting, Youth Radio, and ProPublica, and this number is growing.

The expansion is not without its challenges, however. KQED's clear strength is in radio news, but, as Olson noted, "text and images are required for a robust online news presence." Improving the text on the site is a major priority, and as the site continues to expand, this emphasis will grow as well. Olson noted that NPR has gone through a similar transition over the past few years, which was addressed by gradually training reporting staff, and adding photo editors and copy editors.


Another challenge is balancing the "one-stop shopping mall" all-news aggregator approach with the "hyper-targeted topic verticals" approach. It's sometimes difficult for sites to combine both of these elements, and KQED is currently testing both approaches, in addition to some of the more targeted projects listed above.

Olson said the expanded site is "very much just the first step" in overall growth. In addition to a news blog, "News Fix," launching shortly, a mobile version of the site is currently in production, and will be released in the fall. "We're in it for the long haul," said Olson. "We're just getting started."

Katie Donnelly is Associate Research Director at the Center for Social Media at American University where she blogs about the future of public media. With a background in media literacy education, Katie previously worked as a Research Associate at Temple University's Media Education Lab in Philadelphia. When she's not researching media, Katie spends her time working in the environmental field and blogging about food.

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August 12 2010

15:24

OJR: An interview with Washington DC’s new local news platform

Following the launch of TBD.com, an online local news platform in Washington DC, the Online Journalism Review has published an interview with Steve Buttry, director of community engagement.

OJR’s Robert Niles asks what the near future holds for the site, which combines the work of two television stations, local journalists, online bloggers and other community sites.

We looked for blogs covering local news, life and issues. We looked for blogs that appeared to provide quality content and post frequently. Washington has lots of outstanding blogs covering national and international affairs that we didn’t invite. We may at some point add a “Washington people” section, but at this point, we have decided not to include any of the many outstanding blogs that are primarily personal. We have some blogs that are mostly about cooking. They have been told that we will be more likely to link to a post that has a sense of place (here’s the recipe that I used to cook the eggplants I got at the Reston Farmers Market) than just a recipe.

See the full post here…Similar Posts:



10:44

Twingly: Testing social media’s love of traditional news

Using its channels feature, blog search engine Twingly has done a rough analysis of which traditional news organisations in 10 European countries are “best loved” by social media.

The site looked at the “top stories” of the day for each of the news sites and calculated the references and links shared to them on social sites, including blogs and Twitter.

Comparing all these, there are quite some striking scenarios to look at. The strongest Channels in terms of linking blogs and tweets are without a doubt UK and Sweden. Taking a closer look at both, one notices that all top stories on the Swedish Channel usually have far more blog posts referring to them than tweets! In Norway it looks largely the same – almost all top stories get discussed more on blogs than on Twitter.

Full post on Twingly at this link…Similar Posts:



August 06 2010

10:35

Google Wave: Then and now

After less than a year of being available to the public, Google Wave is being phased out as the web giant admits that it hasn’t attracted enough users.

It was unveiled to great fanfare in May 2009, and was heralded by some online tech sites as the future of e-mail and online collaboration, but what are those sites saying now that it’s bitten the dust?

TechCrunch

TechCrunch then (May 2009): “Wave offers a very sleek and easy way to navigate and participate in communication on the web that makes both email and instant messaging look stale”

“It’s ambitious as hell — which we love — but that also leaves it open to the possibility of it falling on its face. But that’s how great products are born. And the potential reward is huge if Google has its way as the ringleader of the complete transition to our digital lives on the web.”

TechCrunch now: “Maybe it was just ahead of its time. Or maybe there were just too many features to ever allow it to be defined properly.”

ReadWriteWeb

ReadWriteWeb then (June 2009): “Once you get into the flow of things, regular email suddenly feels stale and slow. ”

“Like any great tool, Wave gives its users a lot of flexibility and never gets in your way.”

ReadWriteWeb now: “Why did Wave fail? Maybe because if you don’t call it an ‘email-killer’ (and you shouldn’t) then you’d have to call it a ‘product, platform and protocol for distributed, real time, app-augmented collaboration.’ That’s daunting and proved accessible to too few people.”

“Maybe this failure should be chalked up as another example of how Google ‘doesn’t get social’ in terms of user experience or successful evangelism. After an immediate explosion of hype, it never felt like Google was really trying very hard with Wave.”

Mashable

Mashable then (May 2009): “Our initial impression of Google Wave is a very positive one. Despite being an early build, communication is intuitive and not cluttered at all. User control is even more robust than we first expected (…) [I]t’s not as complicated as it seems at first look. It’s only slightly more complicated than your standard email client.”

Mashable now: “The product might’ve been more successful had it been integrated into Gmail (basic e-mail notifications weren’t even part of the launch), though Google hasn’t had much success with Buzz in that department either.

“In any event, Wave represents another disappointment in Google’s long line of attempts at social, an area in which the company is now reportedly eyeing a completely new approach. Shutting down Wave, it would seem, is a logical step in moving on.”

Pocket-lint

Pocket-lint then (October 2009): “Google Wave in its current state is an impotent, stunted, stub of a web service, which is functional at best, and buggy at worst. But it’s also the future. Consider the state of Twitter in 2007 – it was just a website with little messages that people pushed out via SMS. No one was terribly impressed.”

Pocket-lint now: “Although the web at large hasn’t embraced Wave in the way in which Google would have hoped, it is a sad day for its users. But it is a platform that would have only really worked if it reached out to a mass audience, and disappointingly, it never did.”

Techie Buzz

Techie Buzz then (September 2009): “Wave is an awesome real-time service for sharing docs, sending emails and much more. In-fact it is the most anticipated product of the year and people are already desperate to get their hands on a invite.”

Techie Buzz now: “I still believe that Wave deserved all the attention it received. It truly was a revolutionary service. Unfortunately, Wave might have been too different for its own good. Many failed to grasp the concept of Wave and struggled to get started, while several others grew frustrated with the chaotic nature of an open ended communication platform like Wave.”

Finally, from Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani, who wrote a book on Google Wave with Adam Pash, an elegy for the beleagured platform:

Wave is a tool I love and use daily, and this announcement makes Adam’s and my user guide essentially a history book, an homage to a product that I believe was simply ahead of its time.

I respect any product that shoots as high as Wave did, even if it misses in the market.

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July 22 2010

12:34

Science bloggers leave AOL in protest at Pepsi sponsorship

Fascinating round-up from David Dobbs about the exodus of science bloggers from AOL’s ScienceBlogs network, part of its Seed magazine title, over the launch of a new blog sponsored by PepsiCo.

The origins of the PepsiCo blog – money rather than merit – would not have matched those of other bloggers on the network: it’s an issue of credibility and trust between the readers and writers, says Dobbs.

Does this advertising-editorial wall ensure good journalism? Unfortunately, no; people find other ways to botch journalism. But in the murky world of media, we need a few firm lines to keep us away from slippery slopes. This pact between publisher, writer, and reader provides one of the most vital. It forms the foundation of reader trust; violating it erodes that foundation. Ads are a necessary evil. Credible publications present them unambiguously as third-party commercial messages so the reader instantly knows someone is selling something. That’s why patching a couple of stickers on a blog that presents itself in every other way as editorial content, as Seed proposed before killing the Pepsi blog, doesn’t work. It’s like sticking a lapel button on a guy at the front of the church in a tuxedo and expecting us to think he’s not part of the wedding. The guy needs different clothes.

Full post on Comment is Free…Similar Posts:



July 08 2010

20:58

Quackwatch blog sued by Doctor’s Data

A familiar story. Here’s the rundown from The Quackometer:

“Stephen Barrett [of Quackwatch] has been very critical of [Doctor's Data] and has written that the diagnostic health tests it provides are used to defraud patients. One test in particular stood out for his criticism where patients are given a “provoking agent” that flushes out heavy metals into the urine. A urine test is then analysed by DDI and the concentration of heavy metals is compared with standards. Except the standards used are for patients who have not had the provoking agent. The levels of metals are going to be much higher than normal and this ‘elevated result’ is then used to sell expensive and unnecessary treatments.”

Sounds like a valid subject to investigate. Then:

“Doctor’s Data asked Stephen Barrett to remove his articles discussing these urine tests as they were “false, fraudulent, defamatory or otherwise not truthful”. Dr Barrett replied asking for clarification as to what specifically he had written that was not correct or fair opinion. Doctor’s Data did not respond but instead has now simply filed suit.”

The Quackometer weighs in with this:

“I can confidently label these treatments as bogus because I have researched and written about some of them before. DDI also offer Hair Analysis as a way of assessing nutritional status. This is simply not possible to do in any meaningful way. As I have explained.”

And so a thousand eyes turn on Doctor’s Data to see how they defend their corner. But:

“The problem with many libel cases in the UK is that you are often as a defendant pushed into proving a state of mind, much as Simon Singh nearly had to. To show that Munro deliberately misleads and defrauds requires an impossible peering into her soul to understand her motives. An aggrieved party can always claim that they are honestly going about their business, even if the subsequent analysis of the science or facts may prove them wrong. Being wrong but honest is not the same as being fraudulent.”

Meanwhile, here’s more good investigating from The Quackometer:

“Haynes [who offers testimony on their site as a "luminary"] appears to work for a nutritional supplement company, lectures in many undergraduate colleges and has had over 11,000 ‘patients’. He states that he is registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (Ofquack) although I cannot find his name on their list. (Although to be fair, I have little faith in Ofquack’s IT skills). He was trained at Patrick Holford’s ION where hair mineral analysis is taught as a legitimate technique for assessing nutrient needs. Haynes is not alone.”

The skeptics/bad science field of blogging is a particularly strong area when it comes to investigative blogging. Journalists schooled in the caution of media law might find their behaviour surprisingly provocative, but they are provocative precisely because they tend to have the specialist knowledge that generalist journalists lack, the independence that professionalism takes away, and the strength that comes from belonging to a community of peers.

For this reason they should be getting more publicity for the good work that they do – and more support when company lawyers turn up the heat.

June 29 2010

16:50

5Across: Arts Criticism in the Digital Age

news21 small.jpg

5Across is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

As newspapers and magazines have cut staff in the shift to digital, arts critics find themselves with less sure footing when it comes to a full-time staff position. According to a recent article in the Australian, 65 full-time film critics have lost jobs on American newspapers and magazines since 2006. Can't local newspapers just use syndicated reviews for movies shown nationally? And isn't the Internet giving many more critics outside of traditional publications the chance to shine?

Plus, there are review aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic that simply give people a roundup of what critics have said about a particular movie. In the case of Rotten Tomatoes, you even get a 1 to 100 rating that is an aggregation of all the major reviews. What is the state of arts criticism, and can traditional critics hold onto their jobs? We convened a roundtable to discuss the rise of aggregators, audience participation, and what happened when one San Francisco newspaper asked its critics to use social media. (They didn't.)

5Across: Arts Criticism in the Digital Age

artcritics.mp4

>>> Subscribe to 5Across video podcast <<<

>>> Subscribe to 5Across via iTunes <<<

Guest Biographies

Matt Atchity is editor-in-chief for Rotten Tomatoes. Matt is responsible for defining the editorial voice of Rotten Tomatoes, and oversees the publishing of all of the content on the site, including original news stories, interviews and columns. Before Rotten Tomatoes, Matt was senior content producer and managing editor at Yahoo Movies. He has also worked as a site producer for Warner Bros. online and Entertainment Asylum.

Kenneth Baker has been art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle since 1985. A native of the Boston area, he served as art critic for the Boston Phoenix between 1972 and 1985. He has written on a freelance basis for publications ranging from Artforum, Art in America, Art News and Art + Auction to Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times Book Review. He was a contributing editor of Artforum from 1985 through 1992. Baker is the author of two books: "Minimalism: Art of Circumstance" (Abbeville Press, 1989/1997) and "The Lightning Field" (Yale University Press, 2008).

Reyhan Harmanci grew up in Amish country in central Pennsylvania, and moved to San Francisco in 2001. She began working at the San Francisco Chronicle as an editorial assistant in 2002, eventually becoming an arts/culture/trend reporter in 2006. She took a buyout in April 2009, freelancing for California magazine, Village Voice, McSweeney's, Style.com, SF Weekly and others. Currently, she is the culture editor/writer at the new non-profit site, Bay Citizen.

Jonathan Kiefer is a leading Northern California freelance arts critic. He's a former arts editor and still a film critic for the alternative weekly Sacramento News & Review, and has written for Salon, the New Republic, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times Book Review, and Film Quarterly, among others. He writes regularly about books and theater for SF Weekly, and about film for the Faster Times (an online newspaper), KQED.org, San Francisco magazine, and several alternative newsweeklies. His book about Bay Area cinema is forthcoming from City Lights Books.

Susan Young is the president of the Television Critics Association, an organization of more than 220 professional TV critics and writers based in the United States and Canada. The TCA holds twice-yearly press tours in Los Angeles and hosts the annual TCA Awards. Susan was the TV critic for the Oakland Tribune for 15 years and now is a freelance writer for publications including People magazine, Variety and MSNBC.com.

If you'd prefer to watch sections of the show rather than the entire show, I've broken them down by topic below.

Traditional Jobs Disappear

Rise of Aggregators

Audience Participation and Comments

Who's a Critic?

Print vs. Online

Credits

vegaproject-pbs-mediashift.png

Mark Glaser, executive producer and host
Corbin Hiar, research assistant

Charlotte Buchen, camera

Julie Caine, audio

Location: Vega Project & Kennerly Architecture office space in San Francisco

Special thanks to: PBS and the Knight Foundation

Music by AJ the DJ

*****

What do you think? Should local newspapers continue to have arts critics on staff, or will more critics become freelancers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

5Across is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

08:00

Video: Guardian’s Beat Blogger for Cardiff: breaking the boundaries between blogger and journalist

It’s an modern day battle: journalist versus blogger. Often operating in the same field, but with very different aims and objectives, some traditional reporters are wary of this new breed of content creator. However, a new Beat-Blogger role, created by The Guardian, has brought the 2 fields closer together.

Having a local blogger based in several cities around the UK, The Guardian has given itself direct contact with the community, something a national paper would often overlook.

Hannah Waldram is the beat-blogger in Cardiff. At News:Rewired she told OJB more about how the new project is going, and how it has been accepted in the city.

June 28 2010

14:14

Video: Vikki Chowney & Tony Curzon-Price on creating a buzz: how to get your content noticed

With so much news content available online and a host of ways to promote and share that material it’s often hard for journalists and bloggers to know how to make their content stand out. There are a host of companies offering a quick fix to this problem with promises of Facebook friends and sky-high traffic stats. However, some of the most successful blogs go for a niche audience who care about the subject matter, and spread the word organically.

OJB grabbed a few minutes at News:Rewired with Vikki Chowney (Reputation Online), and Tony Curzon-Price (openDemocracy) to find out how they make an impact online

June 10 2010

08:00

Salon Sunday June 13 8pm: Philip John of the Lichfield Blog

Salon Sunday is an experimental live chat on the Wardman Wire blog at 8pm on Sundays, aiming to encourage conversations across politics, media, technical and other online niches.

q-photo-lichfield-sammyThis Sunday our interviewee will be Philip John, who founded the Lichfield Blog. The blog is a local news blog opened after the local newspaper closed down, and focuses on “all things Cathedral city since January 2009“. The site has three main editors, a host of contributors, and currently attracts a readership in excess of 10k unique visitors each month. You can read more about the site here, or follow on Twitter at lichfieldblog or philipjohn.

Phil also has an interest in the future of news media – for example what is going to happen to local media, and what opportunities will be opened up when Rupert Murdoch introduces the Times Online paywall – and is convenor of the West Midlands Future of News group.

I’ll publish a longer profile of the blog on Friday at around lunchtime at the Wardman Wire.

If you have any questions to put down in advance, or want to be kept up to date by email, please make a comment below, please leave a comment below.

I’ve tried a couple of different formats for these experimental webchats – one heavily Twitter based, the other having a podcast interview published first followed by an informal chat. This week I’m announcing the interviewee a bit earlier in the week.

This week the pattern, starting at 8pm, will be:

  1. 20-30 minutes interview about the Lichfield Blog.
  2. 30 minutes follow up conversation.

Any help in promoting the event is welcome.

June 09 2010

08:00

How papers can feed bigotry about Islam

This is an investigative/process piece looking at the development of a story that High Wycombe Council has spent money specifically creating a cemetary extension for Muslims, and the tensions that were stirred up in its wake. It is a piece by Alan Marshall, Area Bishop of Buckingham, a long established blogger.

I’m cross-posting it as an example of the type of narrative that bloggers can do very well, combining opinion with reporting to undermine a popular myth, and with critique of mainstream reporting along the way.

The key point I draw from the story is that a more distributed media gives a greater opportunity for “chinese whispers”, where questionable rumours to become the established orthodoxy by media sites and blogs reporting that “x has reported that y has happened” rather than going to the original source to find out if it *did* happen. Then a (dishonourable) justification is possible that “our story is accurate – we just reported what that other site was saying”.

That process also gives a deniable route for Publicists to leak claims and rumours into the public domain, and alliances of websites and blogs to promote claims which meet their political objectives. It is down to the standards of individuals, whether bloggers or reporters, how much depth of context we provide in each case.

One interesting question is how bloggers can adapt traditional journalistic values and practices in an approach which includes more elements than straight reporting. Equally, the wider media faces a similar challenge, in that opinion has become blurred into reporting in most news publications. This piece is clearly opinionated, but I think it avoids being a pure opinion piece.

This is the type of blogging that goes on day-in-day-out and doesn’t usually make the national papers, or draw the attention of the politicians or campaigning groups.

I’ve reposted the article including pictures to show Bishop Alan’s blogging style.

20100608-bishopalan-canardwycombeAt the last census, High Wycombe’s population was 92,300, of whom 10,838 were Muslim (11·7 %). If you prick them, do they not bleed? Like the rest of us, Muslims die. Therefore it can come as no surprise that there is a demand for Muslim burials in High Wycombe. The Local Authority has to meet this. Population is growing, and room running out. It would suit Hysterical Islamophobics to be able to say space had been clawed back from consecrated ground in the local graveyard; but that would be barmy because the other 88% of the population also continue to die, so there’s absolutely no sense in not extending the graveyard, and land is available.

Enter the Bucks Free Press with a story called “High Wycombe Cemetery Extension agreed for Muslim Burials.” This downpedals the fact that a cemetery extension was needed anyway, and points out that Muslims like be buried facing Mecca whilst omitting, curiously, to point out

  1. It doesn’t cost any more to bury people in new ground facing any particular direction
  2. The site in question snakes round a hillside in all directions, and where the majority orientation has been East, Mecca is basically East of High Wycombe anyway
  3. Since 11·3% of the town’s ratepayers are Muslim, they surely have the same right to be buried according to their wishes, if possible, as everybody else.

Next, as is the way with Flat Earth News, this scoop (that Muslims in High Wycombe die like everybody else – Shock! Horror!) is routed, via This is Local London, to the Daily Telegraph.

20100608-bishopalan-canardbosch56The Telegraph spins the story, by adding an anonymous local resident saying “Yet again many thousands of pounds [are] being spent pandering to the local Muslim community.” Apparently burying the dead is pandering to them.
I disagree. I don’t think High Wycombe is ready for Sky Burials quite yet.

The Telegraph also carries, final killer element, a quotation from the Bishop of Buckingham – oh, that’s me! – pointing out that people of all faiths and none are regularly buried in consecrated ground. This is hardly news, since it’s an obligation laid on the Church since time immemorial and legislated in the Burials Act 1880. The established church is delighted, of course, to fufil this basic civic obligation.

But, final link in the chain, the Telegraph story fulfils its purpose. On Saturday evening I receive a furious email from a gentleman in the North West. He had the character and decency to give his name, but can’t have expected me to use it publicly, so I won’t. I believe my correspondent is a good and decent man. This is his reading of the Telegraph:

Having just read an article where it states you are delighted to serve the Muslim community in allowing an extension of Muslim graves facing Mecca into the main graveyard in High Wycombe, Bucks. I would like to express my disgust at your support of such an action given how Christians throughout the world have and are still being persecuted by Muslims on the instruction of Islam.

I would ask you Sir, where was your support for Christians when Muslims desecrated the graveyard in St. Johns Church, Longsight, Manchester by destroying all the gravestones to make way for a mosque car park. The silence of the media and the Church on this issue, has been absolutely deafening.

By your appeasement and support for Islam you are feeding a hungry lion and when there is no more food to give it, it will turn on you, as can be seen in how Coptics are treated in their own cities in Egypt, a once Christian country. Not only are Muslims taken over our Churches they now want to invade our graveyards and the Church is sitting back and not only saying nothing but encouraging such actions.

It is an absolute disgrace and a very sad day for Christians in this once Christian country

20100608-bishopalan-canard-hatredI have to point out to him that I didn’t actually say what he thinks I did. This isn’t a churchyard so it’s none of my business who is buried there. But then my eye is caught by his tale of St John’s Longsight, which I had never heard of before, not being a recipient of Manchester BNP publicity. A video has been posted on the Internet of what I believe is called hard nogging being used as substrate for a carpark, with the strong implication that it is made up of Christian gravestones. This is the message my friend in the north West received, that Muslims have been “destroying all the gravestones to make way for a Mosque car park.”

Trouble is, the gravestones are still there. Indeed, you can see them here. The basic answer to my friend’s question (“where was my support for Christians…?) is that the whole story was a canard, a fiction designed to whip up inter-religious hatred. My correspondent, good and decent man that he is, bought the lie. The Daily Telegraph story in its sexed up form catalysed a response in him, and so the panjandrum of fear, suspicion and hatred gathers momentum.

20100608-bishopalan-canardninth-280I had to remind him, as the Christian he professes to be, that the Ninth Commandment is a Christian value. He does not care to admit that he bore false witness, although he patently did, and he goes on to suggest “the bottom line is not about this or any other story put out by the British press.”

Really?

June 06 2010

14:18

Political blogs and how people read them: Sunday Salon Webchat 8pm #onlinepolitics

Following on from last week’s experimental webchat about how different people make a small or a large income from their political blogs (debate starter, actual webchat), I am running another one this evening at 8pm.

There will be a Sunday Salon tomorrow (June 6th at 8pm), looking at different aspects of linking, promotion, how people read blogs and the interaction of blogs and Twitter.

The chat will be hosted at the Wardman Wire using CoverItLive. I will put out a few key points to Twitter using the hashtag #onlinepolitics, but the main debate will be on the blog.

As a discussion starter, this post includes a podcast interview (35 minutes) I recorded earlier this week with Dan Levy, who manages the UK website of Wikio.

We covered everything from the history of Wikio to how the rankings are compiled, how the Wikio service is used, and what developments will be happening in the future.

Any help in promoting the event is welcome. This will be the pattern:

  1. Article published to give a focus for the debate.
  2. Webchat on Sunday night 8pm-9pm.
  3. Publication of lightly edited script on the Wardman Wire, and circulation by email of a short analysis.

If you add a comment below I will email you with a reminder in future.

June 04 2010

07:50

Wikio Overall Blog Rankings for June 2010

The Wikio rankings are a measure of how much blogs are being “talked about” on other independent sites, and are produced by Wikio for a number of categories of blogs in Europe and North America, including politics, techology, culture and even Wine and Beer.

The Wikio ranking is measured by incoming editorial links (i.e., not blogrolls) from blogs registered with Wikio which appear in RSS feeds. To be clear (again), this is no measure of traffic. Links are weighted by time, prominence of the linking blog, and prominence of the link in the linking article.

There is also a toolkit, Wikio Labs, which allows you to dig down into the detail to the level of individual links.

This month I have advanced notice of the “Overall” rankings, which are below.

1 Iain Dale’s Diary (=) 2 Liberal Conspiracy (+1) 3 Guy Fawkes’ blog (-1) 4 ConservativeHome’s ToryDiary (=) 5 Liberal Democrat Voice (+1) 6 Left Foot Forward (-1) 7 A Spoon Full of Sugar (+1) 8 Cute Card Thursday (+4) 9 And another thing… (=) 10 Labourlist (-3) 11 Allsorts challenge blog (=) 12 Jason Cartwright (+17) 13 Sketch saturday (+13) 14 Charisma Cardz (+2) 15 Just Magnolia (+3) 16 Cupcake Craft Challenges (+3) 17 Saturday Challenge (+10) 18 UKPolling Report (-8) 19 Next Left (+5) 20 Creative Card Crew (=) 21 Papertake Weekly Challenge (+87) 22 Standard.co.uk – Paul Waugh (-1) 23 Harry’s Place (-6) 24 Dizzy Thinks (-9) 25 Old Holborn (-12) 26 EU Referendum (+2) 27 Stamping Ground (+27) 28 Nick Robinson’s Newslog (-14) 29 Penny Black Saturday Challenge (+22) 30 Mark Reckons (-7)

Ranking by Wikio

(Disclosure: I am the “Host” of the UK Wikio Politics rankings. The position is unpaid.)

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