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February 25 2010

16:12

Victory for FT Chinese journalists

Good news for the Financial Times journalists who faced redundancy if they did not return to China, on half their salaries.

The management has changed its mind, following the FT chapel’s threat that its members would ballot on industrial action if the FT Chinese journalists were not allowed to stay.

We reported on the National Union of Journalists’ outrage over the affair on 12 February. The latest update comes from NUJ Active (we expect a fuller NUJ statement soon):

The immediate defence by journalists at the Financial Times of Chinese colleagues threatened with redundancy by management has brought complete victory. The FT chapel demanded unanimously that the redundancy threat be lifted from their four colleagues on the FTChinese website, and warned that otherwise FT journalists might ballot on industrial action. So management did as it was told.

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February 22 2010

15:32

Data visualisations that tell the news

The Linked and Open Data conversation is extremely relevant for news telling and I’m hoping this week’s Linked Data meetup – Web of Data – will introduce me to some new ideas which could be used effectively in journalism. There’s some incredibly inspiring stuff going on outside traditional newsrooms, but some media organisations have also been building some fantastic interactive features on their sites, which allow users to customise the way they view and consume data.

Last month at the first official UK Future of News Group meeting, the Financial Times deputy interactive editor, Cynthia O’Murchu, shared some  inspiring ways of news storytelling. She later sent me a list of inspirational links, which I’ll share with you here.

O’Murchu believes that data visualisations can add so much value to a story, and allow more user control, too. The great thing about various data visualisations was that “you allow people to choose their story”, she said. Here are some of the visualisations she flagged up in particular:

[Note: for FT.com articles, you will need to register or subscribe to receive full access after a limited number of views]

This Financial Times feature from 2007 mapped the different factors affecting food prices around the world: export restrictions, price measures, civil unrest, trade balances and inflation. Additional text boxes, brought up by clicking on a certain location, give additional information.

Another feature brought together video and slide shows that explain why food prices are rising.

It was about presenting things in a comprehensible way for users to understand, said O’Murchu.

She flagged up how the New York Times had  used geolocal information to show what people were talking about on Twitter (see below, for example).

O’Murchu urged the room of journalists to go and play with data tools: “If you’re inclined to do a type of story telling, just do it!”

Some of the other interactive packages at the FT:

Data visualisations:

She also showed examples of applications that helped users customise information, to help with a particular problem:

O’Murchu also mentioned the non-profit information site Gapminder. In this video, Gapminder’s Hans Rosling shows users how countries have developed since 1809, based on individual life expectancy and income. [You can see another Rosling video here, 'Let my dataset change your mindset'].

O’Murchu also recommends taking a look at these links, for further inspiration:

And finally, for even more examples of interactive graphics:

What are your favourites? Add them in the comments below…

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February 05 2010

17:08

Plans afoot for new management journalism service

Last August, amidst all the speculation over the Observer’s future, we reported how academics and business figures were threatening to cancel their subscriptions to the Sunday newspaper, following the decision to axe Simon Caulkin’s Observer Management column. Guardian News and Media never re-instated Caulkin and a letter of complaint from nearly 100 leading authors and academics went unpublished.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Observer did not later report how the Work Foundation had named Caulkin columnist of the year at the end of January. As noted by Private Eye in its latest issue (1255): “Newspapers usually trumpet awards their writers win. But the Observer and the Guardian were strangely silent…”

Philip Whiteley, management author, blogger and editor of the Human Capital Forum, who spearheaded the Caulkin complaint, has now launched a new campaign: for more effective coverage of management in UK media.

“It is also a reaction to the feeble coverage of the Kraft-Cadbury merger in mainstream newspapers in which business journalists repeatedly refused to put any tough questions to the Kraft or Cadbury leadership on the very high risks and integration costs that mega-mergers involve,” he said.

Whiteley believes that in reporting the Kraft-Cadbury merger, journalists focused on finances and the offer price rather than management challenges.

“The error common to the banks and the Kraft-Cadbury affair is to imagine that the management task, even though it is responsible for delivering the vast bulk of the returns from investment strategies of banking employees, or take-over activity respectively, is still bizarrely regarded as a junior matter, not front-page material,” Whiteley argued in a recent blog post, criticising both the Financial Times’ and the Telegraph’s coverage.

The new management project will collect blogs and other web news sections and launch a ‘blog of blogs’ – “a summary from the management blogosphere”.

Whiteley will circulate this to the Human Capital Forum’s database (16,000 subscribers) on a monthly basis, with the possibility of extending that to the databases of all participants.

“The aim is to provide more critical coverage of governance and management in the public and private sectors,” Whiteley said.

He cited a comment left on his blog, as another prompt for the new network:

“There was a time when papers like the FT and others had the expertise and inclination to dispel the myths of uttered corporate statements. Alas, no longer. The institutions that were supposed to be ever vigilant and fearless are now content to simply cover the passing parade. One has to read the right blogs and the right books to get any sense of objective insight into what’s going on. A real shame.”

Human Capital Forum has listed some online management resources here: http://www.humancapitalforum.com/links/index.php

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