The Telegraph's David Bond on the impact of World Cup blogging

 by Martin Belam, 26 June 2006

With the British printed press being a day behind here in Greece, I've been using Rojo to aggregate just about every scrap of RSS-enabled online World Cup coverage from the press back home.

I spotted this very interesting take on the whole online and new media coverage from The Telegraph's David Bond - New dawn for World Cup coverage

I thought I would share some of my thoughts on blogging, three weeks or so since my first online ramblings were published.

Already the shift in how reporters are working here is noticeable. It's not just the Telegraph but our rivals, including the Guardian and the Times, who are blogging from the World Cup. As you are probably aware by now, we are all podcasting and vodcasting too. And it's not just the print press. Broadcasters like the BBC and Channel4 are also producing web-specific content.

You would think it would be impossible for newspapers, even with the resources at the Telegraph's disposal, to try to compete with established broadcast media like the BBC or C4. But everything is up for grabs now. And there is a real sense that this World Cup is the first major testing ground for the new technology, which newspaper groups like this one are investing in so heavily.

Bond makes some interesting points about the way press conferences for TV and print are blurring - as are some the distribution rights issues. What really struck me from his post though was that some of the things that 'new media' people take for granted - the two-way nature of the web, the way you can actually 'measure' reading - are still coming as a bit of a surprise to established print journalists.

The one thing that has really shocked me about blogging is the response you get from the people reading your articles. I gather more than 4,700 people were reading pieces I wrote online last week, which I found absolutely staggering.

Apart from offering my apologies to them for having to endure such waffle, I would also like to thank those who wrote comments on whatever subject was up for discussion. Even for a paper like the Telegraph, which has always had an audience ready to write in and give its views, the intelligent and articulate responses have been a surprise.

Having said that, I'm not entirely convinced that The Telegraph's David Bond isn't slightly guilty of the current media obsession with "The snail! The snail!" of technological advance that Tom Coates identified.

One of the most interesting aspects of this World Cup is that it is likely to be the last of its kind for the humble old newspaper hack.

The landscape in which the traditional media is operating is changing so rapidly that it's impossible to predict with any great certainty exactly how journalists will be working by the time South Africa 2010 kicks off.

I'd suggest that only looking at it in isolated four-year snapshots artificially advances the pace of change. In fact, wasn't it ever thus that the way the media covers and reports each World Cup is different?

In 2002 the first HD transmission of games happened, and highlights being streamed over the web was feasible, if not terribly successful. In 1998 I was in Marseilles for England's opening match against Tunisia, and because of the French riot police locking down the town I ended up with one of Radio Five Live's correspondents sleeping on the floor in my hotel room, long before I ever started work at the BBC. He did a live two-way on breakfast radio from his standard by-then-ubiquitous mobile phone in my bedroom - I don't think he could have done that in 1994 from the USA, because mobile phone technology simply wasn't as prevalent. But then 1994 had the first World Cup website, which couldn't have been done in 1990....

....And so on, back to 1950 when (possibly apocryphally) the score England 0 United States of America 1 was assumed to be a typo for 10-1 to England on the cable sent back to newspapers in London from the Americas. Or even further back to the inaugural tournament in 1930, when European teams, and presumably any journalists covering the new-fangled international competition, had a 13 day boat trip together to even get to host nation Uruguay.

I'm not sure that in 2006 it isn't so much that "The landscape in which the traditional media is operating is changing so rapidly", but more that The Telegraph, and several other big media players in the UK, are still only just dipping their toes into the non-traditional media water. They could just as easily have blogged from Euro2004. The tools have been out there - and the audience - for a lot longer than the three weeks that The Telegraph has involved one of their top World Cup print journalists.


A bit off topic, but does this mean that Rojo was the winner in your recent RSS aggregator face-off?

No it doesn't. There is a post coming along the lines of "horses for courses".

My serious RSS reading, i.e. people I know and tech news, is still bloglines.

But I have been using Rojo to aggregate feeds on a single topic - football - where I don't necessarily want to read eveything, but where the jumbled up list of the most recently posted stuff from all over the show suits my purpose, and I think I'll carry on doing that after the World Cup is over.

Keep up to date on my new blog