Recent posts in my Media Category

January 29, 2013

What can news organisations like learn from the BBC’s approach to online voting fraud?

When systems fail and embarrass a news organisation, the temptation is always to blame the technology or the programmers. But no computer forces editors to commission content based on flawed sources.

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January 24, 2013

How Facebook comments do/don’t increase/decrease* trolling for news websites [*Delete as applicable]

Whether news sites should or shouldn’t use the Facebook comment plug-in or Facebook identity seems to have been a recurring theme in the last few days.

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January 23, 2013

In “censoring” Fawlty Towers, the BBC is only following Ofcom’s lead on what viewers find unacceptable

The BBC is under fire for editing an episode of “Fawlty Towers” to remove racist language. Given the proximity of the BBC finding itself on the front pages of the tabloids for not editing a ten year old episode of the Tweenies that they had broadcast loads of times before without comment or criticism, you can see why there might have been heightened awareness of potential offence embedded in repeat showings. Especially if audience research has only recently said that this language was unacceptable when broadcast.

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January 19, 2013

The Times survey their subscribers. Digital only subscribers need not apply.

The Times is surveying subscribers in order to “improve the products and services we offer to our customers”. They’ve designed the survey in a way that excludes digital customers.

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January 17, 2013

“Financial Graphics at Thomson Reuters” - Sam Arnold-Forster at Hacks/Hackers London

Last night was the first Hacks/Hackers London after a break, and it was jam-packed with talks about financial and data journalism. The second slot was taken by people from Thomson Reuters, opening with Sam Arnold-Forster talking about “Financial graphics”. Here, as ever, are my notes…

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Was the Guardian right to open comments on their Vauxhall helicopter crash live blog?

The Guardian’s website has been no stranger to controversy over the last couple of weeks, and yesterday was no exception, with the decision to have comments open on the live blog of the unfolding reporting of the helicopter crash in London.

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January 14, 2013

To the memory hole with Julie Burchill!

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January 8, 2013

“Maybe if you’re here, you’re already dead.” - AP’s sponsored tweets and the long slow death of our industry

Is it just me? Or does it sometimes feel like the whole of the internet is screaming at the news industry: “Jeez, you guys really need to innovate more and hurry up and get yourself a new business model”. And then the response to any attempt at a new model is “But not that one.”

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January 4, 2013

Irish newspapers issue statement clarifying that they really are being a bit silly

Over the last few days there has been some attention to a blog post claiming that Irish newspapers are trying to “destroy the web” by charging for the presence of hyperlinks to other sites.

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December 31, 2012

‘Assholes’ The Next Web ‘suck’ for stopping making an Android product that loses them money

The Next Web have announced they are stopping production of their Android magazine edition. Commenters are unhappy. But the post announcing the change raises some big questions about the economics of publishing editions aimed at the Android market.

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December 27, 2012

The Guardian publishes stats on the size of their commenting community

I don’t want to unnecessarily poke the hornet’s nest that is user reaction to the Guardian’s introduction of nested comments, but Chris Elliott’s recent column about it contains one fascinating stat, which I don’t think has been made public before. It has implications for the amount of time and effort you might care to expend on the community on your news sites.

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December 18, 2012

“Three approaches to making money from selling digital newspapers and magazines” - Eric Villemin at ‘Les Victoires de la Presse’

At yesterday’s “Les Victoires de la Presse” awards, digital media consultant Eric Villemin outlined three very different approaches to making money selling content on Apple devices.

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“Putting user experience at the heart of your tablet strategy” - Martin Belam at ‘Les Victoires de la Presse’

Yesterday I gave a talk in Lyon at WAN-IFRA’s ‘Les Victoires de la Presse’ event. Here is the essay version of a talk which looked at how user research and a focus on simplicity can help the news industry build better products for the tablet market.

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December 12, 2012

“Live blogging the Hillsborough Independent Panel for a city” - Neil Macdonald at news:rewired

Billed as a workshop in live blogging, Neil Macdonald’s talk at news:rewired was an emotional look at how the Liverpool Echo had covered the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report. Here are my notes from the session.

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December 11, 2012

“Rediscovering the ‘content experience’ for news” - Grig Davidovitz at news:rewired

At news:rewired, Grig Davidovitz argued that news organisations need to rediscover the art of designing the “content experience. Here are my notes.

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December 6, 2012

“Curating social media during Hurricane Sandy for the Guardian” - Katie Rogers at news:rewired

At news:rewired the Guardian’s Katie Rogers was talking about how the US arm of the paper used social media to cover Hurricane Sandy as it landed on their New York doorstep. Here are my notes from her talk.

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“Matter: Long-form digital journalism that breaks all the rules” - Bobbie Johnson at news:rewired

Bobbie Johnson’s discussion of long-form journalism start-up Matter was the talk I was most looking forward to at news:rewired today. He didn’t disappoint. Here are my notes from the session.

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“The user experience of news” - Martin Belam at news:rewired

At news:rewired today I spoke as part of a panel talking about the importance of “user experience” for digital publishers. Here is the essay version of the talk.

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December 4, 2012

The Communications Data Bill and freedom of the press

The British press don’t seem to be treating the Communications Data Bill as a threat to their freedom. Perhaps they should be.

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November 29, 2012

The user experience of reading the Leveson Inquiry report

The Leveson Inquiry report has been criticised for not addressing the impact of the internet on the press, and the way it was published today was symptomatic of old-fashioned print publishing that doesn’t put user need at the centre.

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November 26, 2012

The existential danger to British newspapers isn’t Leveson

It appears to be compulsory to write about press regulation in the run-up to the Leveson report being published. So here is my tuppence, hopefully before you get bored of the entire business.

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November 8, 2012

“A journey into the New York Times mobile and tablet strategy” - Alexandra Hardiman at #TAS12

Alexandra Hardiman is Director of Mobile Products at The New York Times, and at the Tablet and App summit in Frankfurt she talked us through the paper’s mobile products and strategy. I was delighted to hear lots of talk of it being user-centred. Here are my notes.

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The British Nate Silver

Yesterday I glibly tweeted that I had trademarked the term “The British Nate Silver”. Not for myself, you understand, but in recognition of the fact that his data analysis has played such a pivotal role in debate around the US election that it is inevitable that someone will get dubbed with that title in the run-up to the next General Election in the UK.

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“Toronto Star’s Ad Lab for digital advertising innovation” - Kate Collins at #TAS12

Kate Collins is Managing Director, Emerging Platforms & Products at Star Media Group in Canada, and at the Tablet and App summit she was presenting a case study of some innovative work they’ve done in collaboration with advertisers, exploring how advertising might work in the future in the tablet edition of the Toronto Star. Here are my notes.

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November 7, 2012

“Windows 8: Opportunities for publishers” - Frank Wolfram & Johan Mortelmans at #TAS12

The final session of the Tablet and App summit was about Windows 8 and the opportunities it might provide for publishers and media companies. The half-hour was split into two parts — Frank Wolfram of the SYZYGY Group agency gave an overview of some features that might appeal to media companies, and then there was a case study of Belgian newspaper De Standaard building an app. Here are my notes.

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“Optimising the FT using HTML5 and customer data” - Stephen Pinches at #TAS12

On Twitter I described Stephen Pinches talk as a “masterclass in making good call after good call and really using user data.” With typical modesty, he replied that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nevertheless, as Group Product Manager for Mobile & Emerging Platforms at the Financial Times, Stephen has steered the FT into the uncharted waters of breaking free from the iTunes store and going down the HTML5 web-app route. Here are my notes.

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November 6, 2012

“Launching ePresse to challenge Apple and Amazon in France” - Philippe Jannet at #TAS12

After Caio Túlio Costa’s talk about Brazil’s newspaper industry taking on the might of Google and Apple at the Tablet and App summit, Philippe Jannet presented a similar story of collective commercial action in France.

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“Brazil’s newspapers close ranks against Google and Apple” - Caio Túlio Costa at #TAS12

Two talks at the Tablet and App summit in Frankfurt addressed the issue of national newspaper groups coming together to challenge the established digital distribution channels of Apple, Amazon, Google and the like. The first of these case studies came from Brazil - Caio Túlio Costa explaining how the newspaper industry had challenged Google and Apple.

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November 5, 2012

“Behind the curve - the media and the new App economy” - Stijn Schuermans at #TAS12

Having opened the event with what Patrick Smith described as “an impassioned plea for iterative, responsive and nimble development run by small teams within big media firms”, my talk was followed by two case studies of pretty traditional approaches to digital magazine publishing from Stern and Condé Nast. I’ve already blogged my notes from those two sessions. Stijn Schuermans brought a welcome change of pace and an outside perspective to the problems assailing media companies in the digital publishing space.

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“Condé Nast place value in digital reach over digital sales” - Jamie Bill and Jamie Jouning at #TAS12

Condé Nast were represented at the Tablet & App summit by the duo of GQ publisher Jamie Bill and Jamie Jouning. The two Jamies were showcasing the work the company had done to move into tablet publishing in a fairly short space of time. Here are my notes.

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November 4, 2012

“Taking Stern magazine to the iPad” - David Heimburger at #TAS12

David Heimburger was speaking at the WAN-IFRA Tablet & App summit about how Stern magazine has become a digital property, in a talk entitled “850 000 print copies per week, 7 million readers, and the challenge of reproducing print miracle for tablet readers.”

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October 22, 2012

How do British newspapers compare to Newsweek’s catastrophic 51% circulation collapse?

I felt a great disturbance on the internet last week, as if the voices of a million publisher suddenly cried out in terror. I think it was caused when people heard the figure that on their way to becoming digital only, Newsweek had lost 51% of their print circulation in the space of just five years. I eagerly awaited an article comparing that catastrophic loss of print sales with figures for newspapers in the UK. But I didn’t spot one, so I put my datajournalism hard-hat on and crunched the numbers myself.

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July 18, 2012

London Olympic media coverage: As it happened

To save me the bother of taking loads of screenshots and clippings, I thought I’d just write up my review of British media coverage of the London 2012 Olympics now and get it out of the way...

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July 4, 2012

“New digital divides” - Martin Belam at Hacks/Hackers Canterbury

On Monday night I spoke at the inaugural meeting of Hacks/Hackers Canterbury. Here is an essay version of my talk.

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June 26, 2012

Of course “The Newsroom” gets bad press. The reviews are written in a newsroom.

I haven’t seen “The Newsroom”, but I have seen the reviews, and it hasn’t been pretty. Likewise “The Hour” didn’t win many rave write-ups either. The unfortunately unique thing is that when writing a show about journalism, your reviews are posted by the very people whose activity you are trying to dramatise.

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June 6, 2012

Forcing Hari to link only shows up how much the rest of the news industry doesn’t

The rehabilitation of Johann Hari continues apace with the publication of a column from him in GQ. The fact that he is being made to link out in footnotes is being seen in some quarters as a punishment. If only it was just normal best practice.

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May 15, 2012

Google Currents - a system for publishers, not journalists

I always like to play around with new toys, and so as soon as the Google Currents production system was released to the public, I set about making an edition for myself - and discovered that it is a system for publishers, not journalists or individual authors.

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May 7, 2012

What are the “cheat codes” for the news industry?

Games developers have monetised the existence of “cheat codes” by morphing them into in-app purchases that raise extra revenue. What “cheat codes” doe the news industry have?

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May 2, 2012

If even Google and Facebook are struggling with the pace of change - what chance media companies?

Reading pieces by Eric Jackson and Peter Kirwan yesterday leaves an awkward question hanging in the air. If Google and Facebook are really struggling with the impact of disruption to their business models from changes in trends on the internet, where does that leave media companies, many of whom haven’t really got to grips with web 1.0 yet?

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April 26, 2012

“Wannabe Hacks - finding a route into UK journalism” - Nick Petrie & Ben Whitelaw at Hacks/Hackers London

Last night was the monthly Hacks/Hackers London meet-up organised by Joanna Geary and Jonathan Richards. Here are my notes on Nick Petrie and Ben Whitelaw talking about Wannabe Hacks.

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April 10, 2012

Embedding objects in your news web site? The future may not thank you

Embedding tweets and Storify in news sites is all the rage to provide a quick snapshot of public opinion. But what are people actually storing in their CMS - and will all this vanish in the future?

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March 20, 2012

A thoroughly refreshing approach to news design from ITV News

This week ITV News relaunched with a site that made a radical break with the one they had before, and which frees itself from a lot of the baggage that usually comes when designing a news site. It certainly still has some rough edges, but it is a fascinating approach.

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March 9, 2012

The dissolution of the PCC

I’ve not written much on this blog in recent months on media regulation, which used to be one of the recurring themes. It has seemed to me that whilst the Leveson inquiry and various police operations related to newspapers are ongoing, it is safer, on the personal blog of someone who works at a news organisation, to say nothing. I can’t, however, let the dissolution of the PCC pass without comment.

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February 16, 2012

“Watch this (social) space...” - MSN’s Darren Waters at news:rewired

At news:rewired, MSN’s Darren Waters discussed how, with limited resources, MSN were adopting a human social media voice, and reaping rewards in increased user engagement.

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February 15, 2012

“Twitter did/did not break news” is the new “bloggers vs journalists”

I tweeted today that “Twitter did/did not break news” is the new “bloggers vs journalists” - a tired old trope that gets periodically trotted out. It was this dreary ReadWriteWeb piece about the origins of news of Whitney Houston’s death that provoked it. News breaks for the user where they first find it - and that isn’t a broadcast network anymore, it is a real-time peer-to-peer one.

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February 13, 2012

“The alchemy of media business model innovation” - François Nel at news:rewired

François Nel’s talk about media business models at news:rewired drew a massive contrast between the fortunes, financially, of the Mail and the Guardian, and sparked a discussion about the Guardian’s digital strategy which made for some uncomfortable listening for those of us in the audience involved in trying to implement it. Here are my notes from that session - including a big disclaimer reminding you that this is a personal blog...

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February 10, 2012

“The Economist’s shift to digital”- Tom Standage at news:rewired

One of the panel sessions at news:rewired last week was devoted to the paid content model. Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist, gave an upbeat talk about the title’s success in transitioning to the digital era. Here are my notes from the session.

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February 9, 2012

“Great for users. Great for publishers. And great for Apple” - Alex Watson on Newsstand at news:rewired

One of the panel sessions I attended at news:rewired was devoted to the notion of paid content. It featured some interesting insights from Alex Watson of Dennis Publishing and Tom Standage from The Economist, as well as some scrutiny of the Guardian’s business model, which, for those of us who work there, made for some uncomfortable listening. Here are my notes from Alex’s talk about Apple’s Newsstand.

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February 7, 2012

“Did we get something of journalistic value?” - Liz Heron on social media success at news:rewired

Last week Liz Heron gave the opening keynote address at news:rewired, explaining some of the social media work that the New York Times does, and offering some advice for those who are also involved in doing it. These are my notes from her session.

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February 6, 2012

A busy week of hacking and Guardian Beta

A flurry of activity around the Guardian last week as we tried out some new things on our Beta site, and had a two day hack day.

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February 3, 2012

“The Guardian’s Facebook app” - Martin Belam at news:rewired

At news:rewired today I was part of a panel discussing optimising news sites for social media. I talked about the Guardian’s Facebook app. Here is an essay version of the talks.

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January 29, 2012

Online newspaper metrics? The grey lady doth protest too much, methinks

There’s been quite a fuss around the latest set of usage figures for news websites, with comScore suggesting that Mail Online has overtaken the New York Times as the world’s leading online newspaper. The Times has taken the odd step of both disputing the figures and the relevance - saying the inclusion of thisismoney distorted the number by adding an extra million or so. Spokesperson Eileen Murphy added: “a quick review of our site versus the Daily Mail should indicate quite clearly that they are not in our competitive set.” The grey lady doth protest too much, methinks

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January 27, 2012

Do you hunger for stories, or hunger for sales?

In this month’s Carnival of Journalism, Michael Rosenblum asks why journalists can’t get themselves together and charge more for their work, or take on more of a business and entrepreneurial role. I think the desire to do journalism and the desire to make money may well be mutually exclusive.

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January 26, 2012

“Pulling the news from the social media noise” - Storyful’s Markham Nolan at #cmLDN

Last night I went to the Community Managers meet-up in London. Markham Nolan was talking about how Storyful sources social media content from accidental citizen journalists.

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January 19, 2012

Low numbers + small change = BIG NEWS

Headlines today have suggested that the murder rate has gone up by 5%, or that knifepoint robbery has gone up by 10% in England and Wales. The figures also show that crime overall has dropped by 4%. Reporting crime statistics is a data journalism minefield however, and last year I attended a fascinating set of talks on the subject.

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January 10, 2012

Even if we can’t legally define journalism, we should at least define our journalistic principles

An Oregon judge has inadvertently sparked a wider debate about the nature of journalism, as Cleland Thom reported for the Press Gazette. I think a public set of principles is one key way for publishers to set themselves aside from the general hubbub of the internet.

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January 8, 2012

Dear Patrick Pexton, innovation is not a synonym for new

The Washington Post’s ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton has claimed that the paper is “innovating too fast.” I should imagine it will be news to many observers of our industry that news organisations are innovating at all, let alone too fast. “I want The Post to continue to innovate” he says, ignoring the fact that many of the things he lists in his post are simply “new”, rather than innovative. And many of the problems he raises have nothing to do with technology.

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December 14, 2011

UXmas at the Guardian

Last night we threw open the Guardian’s door for “UXmas” - a chance to meet people from the UX and design teams, hear a couple of talks, and eat some mince pies before retiring to the pub.

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December 9, 2011

“Presents for all!” - my festive #jcarn post

I’m hosting December’s “Carnival of journalism” on the Guardian Developer blog, so it would be a bit remiss not to join in myself. As neither a hack nor a hacker, I thought I'd take the liberty of answering both variations of the question...

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December 2, 2011

BBC homepage redesign - behind the scenes 2002-style

The BBC has been taking a lot pf public stick for their redesign of their web homepage. Here is a quick look behind the scenes at how the design process for the page took place back in 2002.

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