Recent posts in my Newspapers Category

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 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

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 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 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 13, 2012

“Live blogging breakfast at the Manchester Evening News” - Seb Ramsay at news:rewired

At news:rewired, Seb Ramsay of the Manchester Evening News explained how a rolling news live blog had brought them closer to their audience. 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

“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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November 7, 2012

“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 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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October 14, 2012

The vexing issue of managing football comments on a newspaper website

On Friday I was involved in a Twitter conversation with Guardian journalists Sean Ingle and Sid Lowe about the value of comments underneath football stories on newspaper websites.

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September 5, 2012

Hold ye front page - someone is wrong about the internet

You might have seen an image doing the rounds on the web which appears to be The Sun reporting on the invention of the World Wide Web, and comparing it to the Sinclair C5. Much hilarity ensues. Of course the image is a fake.

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June 13, 2012

My quick opinion of the Times Opinion on Tumblr

The Times new Opinion Tumblr doesn’t signal a retreat from the paywall - if anything, it potentially raises the “value for money” that customers think they are getting.

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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 27, 2012

Marketing newspapers like it is 2003

Small details can tell you so much, can’t they? The Newspaper Marketing Agency haven’t updated the copyright notice on their website since 2003. Presumably because it is a GIF file.

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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 28, 2012

“How the FT shifted from native apps to web apps” - Steve Pinches at Hacks/Hackers London

Here are my notes from Hacks/Hackers London meet-up where Steve Pinches from the FT gave a very open and frank talk about their work in the mobile space. He is product manager for that area, and was talking particularly about their move to HTML5 web apps and away from native apps.

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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 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 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 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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November 21, 2011

“Who’s Who: The Resurrection of the Doctor”: Doctor Who ebook confidential

The Guardian has just published the latest in our Guardian Shorts ebook series - “Who’s Who: Ressurection of the Doctor”. I edited the collection. And just as every episode of Doctor Who these days has a behind-the-scenes “Doctor Who Confidential” to go with it, here is the story behind the editing of the book.

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October 17, 2011

How the Guardian’s iPad app changed the way that I consumed news

We’ve had a lot of products launch over the last few weeks at the Guardian, including Android and Windows phone apps and our Facebook app, but none have been as high profile as our iPad launch. With a design team of Mark Porter, Andy Brockie, Barry Ainslie and John-Henry Barac, you wouldn’t expect it to be anything other than beautiful, and using it has changed the way that I consume news.

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September 2, 2011

How digital transformed the news cycle - and what you can do about it

This is an essay version of a talk given at last week’s Hacks/Hackers meet-up in London. I presented eight things that I believe news organisations need to stop doing, start doing, or do better, in order to cope with the way that digital has transformed the news cycle.

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September 1, 2011

“Don’t be a dick” - the golden rule of news website comment threads

I happen to think that if you take most community management guidelines or blogging and commenting guidelines for staff, they basically boil down to “Don’t be a dick”. In fact, I think there is quite a simple flow chart to follow if you find yourself on the wrong end of a moderation decision on a news website.

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August 2, 2011

“Community management in the newsroom” - The Guardian’s Laura Oliver at Hack/Hackers London

I’ve said on many occasions that I am genuinely baffled how so many news organisations seem to think they can grow an active community on their website, without investing in any community management. At the Guardian we have several people in a role called “community co-ordinator” who fulfill this remit. One of them, Laura Oliver, spoke at the last London Hacks/Hackers meet-up. Here are my notes on four of the key points that Laura made in her talk.

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July 25, 2011

4 key pieces of audience engagement missing from Andy Rutledge’s news redux

Andy Rutledge published a fascinating blog post last week looking at the design of digital news, and to illustrate his points he did a redux of the New York Times. Whilst appreciating the visual design, I thought there were 4 key areas where I very much disagree with Andy’s analysis, and think it would fail to engage with mainstream news readers.

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July 20, 2011

“Never miss a moment” with The Sun & Sky Sports

I absolutely adored this nifty bit of layout in The Sun yesterday. In the top-right hand corner of page 23 was “Teed off by Beeb” - an article about how golf viewers had been complaining to the BBC. Turn over to page 24 & page 25 and - lo and behold - a two page spread advert for Sky Sports headlined “Never miss a moment”...

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July 19, 2011

“Live: Someone is dead” - how CMS software can damage the news UX

I posted a screengrab to Tumblr last night of the headline from The Times website which unfortunately managed to follow the formula “Live: Someone is dead”. I think it is the perfect example of something that wouldn’t be allowed to happen in print, but which hits a magic Venn diagram intersection of technology, editorial and information architecture allowing it to happen digitally.

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July 17, 2011

The Sunday papers and URLs

The other week I wondered why newspapers still need a distinct name on a Sunday in a digital age. I thought I’d have a look at how the existing titles handle their URL and domain name strategy.

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July 13, 2011

“Brown wrong” - metadata wrong

An interesting example of getting analogue and digital news metadata out of sync yesterday. At the moment that last night’s paper reviews were revealing The Sun’s “Brown wrong” front page splash, the online version of the story was bylined Vince Soodin. That wasn’t the case in print.

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July 8, 2011

"The Sunday Thing" - why do Sunday editions need a special name in a 24/7 news culture?

Nobody will be surprised that News International won’t want to leave a vacancy in the Sunday tabloid market for long, but the thing I am intrigued by is the choice of name.

I love lots of things about the news industry, the brands, the history, the heritage, and the way that papers take the names of communications devices or everyday things and turn them into identities.

But why, in the 21st century, you still need a different name for a paper printed on a Sunday escapes me.

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July 7, 2011

News homepages and the paradox of choice

At the UPA conference Susan Weinschenk talked about the paradox of choice, and that how as humans we often say that we want a wide array of choice, but actually find it bewildering when presented with it. I thought it might be worthwhile doing a quick survey of the level of choice that news homepages present to users. This table shows the number of headlines displayed to readers on the front pages of some major international news sites:

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June 26, 2011

Steve Buttry on what the reaction to Gene Weingarten’s column tells us about the Washington Post’s brand

I don’t very often post to this blog just to write “Yeah! What he said”. But this is basically just that...

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June 22, 2011

6 key points from a Twitter conversation about comments on news sites

Yesterday I got involved in a long Twitter conversation about anonymous and pseudo-anonymous comments on news websites involving Adam L. Penenberg, Mathew Ingram, Anna Tarkov, Amrita Mathur and Brad King. It was kicked off as people responded to this piece on the issue by Mathew at Gigaom. I’ve tried to sum up the six main points I was making in bursts of slightly more than 140 characters, and I’ve tried to interweave some of the conversation.

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June 14, 2011

Introducing the rNews metadata standard at Hacks/Hackers London

Last night I was at the Hacks/Hackers meet-up to hear Andreas Gebhart, Stuart Myles and Evan Sandhaus talk about the proposed new IPTC semantic metadata standard rNews.

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June 3, 2011

Guardian 190 and digital permanence

“It is ironic that you have to print the website out” someone said to me at the Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jam at the weekend, and the Guardian’s 190th anniversary exhibition asks questions about how we preserve our digital products.

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June 2, 2011

But who actually answered the question: “What time does the Super Bowl start?”

A link was doing the rounds today to a thought-provoking blog post by Donald Mahoney about journalism in a “post-content farm” world. Unfortunately, the thoughts it mostly provoked in me were: “You’ve missed the point”.

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Thinking "Beyond comment threads" at #mojo

As I blogged earlier in the week, on Saturday I was at Kings Place, not for work, but to attend the Knight-Mozilla News Innovation Jam. Once the ideas generation got underway, I ended up on a team with Nicola Hughes, Jonathan Austin, David Asfaha and my colleague - and it turned out later judge - Daithí Ó Crualaoich. We ended up pitching four ideas around the theme of community.

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May 31, 2011

5 reasons news organisations prefer in-house web publishing tools

Outside of the news industry, it sometimes seems insane that we insist on reinventing the wheel and rebuilding tools when there are free alternatives out on the web. Here are five reasons I think we do that.

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May 30, 2011

“A uniquely digital media” - Live blogging discussion at news:rewired

The final session at news:rewired on Friday was a panel discussing the medium of live blogging, expertly hosted by Marcus Warren from the Telegraph, and featuring my colleague Guardian Blog’s Editor Matt Wells, Anna Doble of Channel 4, and Paul Gallagher of the Manchester Evening News. It was a really good session, with some good natured rivalry between the Telegraph and Guardian on display, and it really felt like the conversation has moved on from “What is live blogging and should we be doing it?” to “How can we use this new uniquely digital media to its best advantage and develop it further”.

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May 29, 2011

The Mail Online, the N-word, and their American audience

Could it be that having a large American audience online means that the Mail is now treating issues like "The N-word" differently editorially in print and in digital?

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May 28, 2011

My notes from news:rewired - Data journalism and social media

I spent a really good day at news:rewired yesterday. With one track dedicated to data journalism, and another to social media, it was no surprise that I found plenty of things of interest. Here are my notes on some of the things that stood out for me.

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May 27, 2011

Data journalism debate at FutureEverything

I recently appeared as part of a panel session at FutureEverything talking about data journalism. I’ve already blogged the four points I was planning to make. Here are my notes from the talks given by those I was sharing the stage with: Chris Taggart, David Higgerson and Paul Bradshaw

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April 12, 2011

Sloppy science journalism - the rest of the web is laughing at us

For a while on this blog I had a Venn diagram in the top right-hand corner, which was there to remind me that I was supposed to be writing about stuff in the intersection between IA, digital media and journalism. That is where the professional communities that I belong to collide. So, it was uncomfortable to be sitting in Denver at the IA Summit last week, listening to one of my group of peers laughing loudly at the output of the other.

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April 11, 2011

"How to end it" with the Financial Times

Echoing the rather unfortunate incident that turned the “Parents” magazine masthead into “Penis”, I found myself last week looking at this effort from the Financial Times for some time pondering whether it was about suicide or divorce, before noticing the obscured “Sp” in “How to spend it”.

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March 30, 2011

"We are not scientists. We can't isolate variables" - Paul Bradshaw on the egotism of journalism

“Do we want to be Journalists with a capital J and bathe in the glory of our guild, or do we want to support journalism?”. This was one of the more provocative passages of Paul Bradshaw’s inaugural lecture at City University. Yesterday I posted my notes on what he said about news organisations and communities, and in this blog post I want to look at some structural problems he identified with journalism as a profession.

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March 29, 2011

Just when you thought Daily Mail comments couldn't sink lower......they let "Rupert, Yorkshire" discuss rape in Libya

The Daily Mail has published vile comments pre-judging the situation involving Iman Al-Obeidi in Libya. It is worth noting that the comments go through pre-moderation and sub-editing.

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Paul Bradshaw on investing time and effort to attract "the right kind" of contributors to a news site

It is a couple of weeks ago now that I attended Paul Bradshaw’s inaugural lecture at City University, entitled “Is ice cream strawberry?”. Paul has made a multi-part essay version of the talk available on his blog, and you can view the slides on SlideShare. Over the next couple of blog posts on currybetdotnet there are a couple of points he made that I’d like to dwell on, and the first is about users and community.

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March 24, 2011

The ongoing debate over anonymous comments on newspaper websites

There was another fascinating round of the debate about anonymous and pseudo-anonymous comments on newspaper websites this morning, which seemed to be primarily kicked off by Times columnist David Aaronovitch on Twitter: “Can anyone think of a reason why commenters on newspaper sites should be allowed to be anonymous, or use pseudonyms? I find the CiF comments system completely pointless, partly because of ano/pseudo-nymity. Same tedious trashers endlessly recycled.”

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