31 January 2008

Editor: Sex Sells Online

The story of two Russian passengers engaged in mile-high sex acts was recently the most viewed story on a local news website.

According to the editor of the Uxbridge Gazette, the report of the pair’s arrest at Heathrow quickly became the most popular story on the website.

Writing on his blog on January 16, Adrian Seal notes: “The beauty of our website is that you can almost immediately check which stories are engaging most with readers.”

He adds: “Apart from the Heathrow angle the only other local link to the story was the fact that the convicted couple appeared before Uxbridge Magistrates.

“However, we posted the story on our site on Monday afternoon and it has rapidly become the most viewed story ... over the last couple of days.”

Seal concludes: “This tells me that not unlike newspapers sex, crime and disasters are still some of the most popular viewing topics with readers.”


Northcliffe Launches “Community Conversation”

A Northcliffe newspaper has unveiled a new website dedicated to user-generated content.

Hull Daily Mail Editor John Meehan says the innovative thisisyourmail.co.uk is best summed up as a “community conversation”, where users can post news, socialise and join interest groups online.

Like similar initiatives in the US, the website is divided into key areas encompassing hyperlocal news content submitted by local people and reporters, a comments section and social networking pages called All Yours with personal profiles and groups.

Innovators at the Hull Daily Mail have also struck an original note with the My Family section, intended to enable families spread across the globe to keep in touch.

Group members can post updates and photos which can be kept private from the view of non-members and the idea already appears to be a hit with users with plenty of families already signed up.

Meehan told Press Gazette: “This isn’t just another form of community news - in fact only a relatively small proportion of the content could be described as news.”

The editor also said the site cannot be defined as a citizen journalism venture or a social networking tool.

He added: “There are elements of it but we needed another description and we have coined the phrase community conversation.”

The site also has some nifty features such as rating buttons for comments and charts of the most popular posts and prolific contributors.

Users are asked to help police the pages since moderators will only edit content which could pose legal problems or is judged to be inappropriate.

“If we put a barrier between the users and publishing their content and introduce a delay, that is going to have a very negative impact,” explained Meehan.

“We believe the immediacy and interactivity of the site are very important to its chance of success.

“We have put in place a variety of what we believe are robust measures to ensure that the content that we get on the site is legal and responsible.”

Press Gazette reports that Northcliffe is aiming for 12,000 unique visitors per month within the next 12 months.

And a successful first year is likely to see the format rolled out across other Northcliffe titles.


30 January 2008

Sports Journalism ‘Undergoing Cultural Change’

The impact of digital on sports reporting was the hot topic at the latest Journalism Leaders Forum event staged by the University of Central Lancashire.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose asserted that online innovations have brought about a “change in culture” within the profession, especially because of the easy access to sports fans’ views.

Joining the debate via webcam, Bose said the growth in sports websites has brought into public view what was “previously going on in the corner of the pub”, such as fans’ attitudes towards managers and players.

He suggested that these “very raw” opinions provide an “instant reaction” to any given event in sport and this is picked up by journalists to shape stories.

The impact of the web upon print journalists was also discussed by Hindustan Times sports editor Kadambari Murali, who provided an insight into the world of real-time reporting.

Murali, speaking online from India, used the example of the recent controversy during the Indian cricket team’s tour of Australia, which was temporarily suspended following allegations of a racist remark uttered on the field of play.

She said that in addition to writing copy for the newspaper, she was constantly posting updates onto the Hindustan Times website about the progress of the Indian team bus and providing a timeline of events during the day.

Further details about the event can be found on the Journalism Leaders blog and a picture of the panel can be viewed at flickr.


29 January 2008

North East Awards To Recognise Web Success

Newspapers in the north east are competing for the first time for the title of website of the year as part of England’s largest regional press honours event.

Web editors on Tyneside, Teesside and Wearside will be battling against one another to scoop the inaugural North East News Website of the Year from the Cordner Awards.

Held in memory of former Hartlepool Mail news editor Tom Cordner, the awards entered their 30th year in 2008 and organisers have chosen to commemorate the occasion with the creation of the new prize for digital news.

“Not before time, the Cordners have opened a new category to compare and reward online journalism”, said John Bailey, co-founder of the awards.

He added: “In Tom Cordner’s day the idea of news pages on computer screens was the stuff of sci-fi.

“But rely on it, Tom would have been absorbed by cyberspace - so creation of a new award is fitting.”

The winner of the first website award will be unveiled on May 24 at a ceremony in Newcastle.


28 January 2008

BBC Reveals Hyperlocal Plans

The BBC has shed some light on its plans to launch a series of hyperlocal news sites for the UK.

Controller of English Regions Andy Griffee recently showed a prototype of one of the BBC local websites during a presentation and it seems customisation is one of the key aims.

Press Gazette reports that the audience at Coventry University was shown how users will be able to access the websites through maps and symbols.

If they get the go-ahead from the BBC Trust, the hyperlocal websites are also destined to have a dedicated politics section where visitors can learn about their local representatives.

Griffee said of the project: "It brings everything together in one place."

He added: "People are interested at different times of the week about what is local to them.

"Making sure video news has a longer shelf life means people don't have to make that appointment.

"It's available anytime, anyplace, anywhere."

See Press Gazette for some responses to the BBC plans from regional publishers.


2008: All For Online

Newsrooms looking to reinvent themselves in the digital era must ensure they include everyone in the process, according to a new media expert.

Writing in his Editor & Publisher column, Steve Outing asserts the major lesson for newspapers to take forward into 2008 is that cultural change requires participation from everyone if it is to be successful.

“The smart news organisation in 2008 will be the one that encourages innovation - no, requires it - from ALL its employees,” notes Outing.

Outing reached this conclusion after conducting a “magic wand experiment” where he gathered feedback from colleagues within the industry, asking them how their company could improve in an ideal world.

A recurrent theme in the responses was the need for a cultural shift within the newsroom as varying attitudes seemed to be slowing progress in adapting to the digital environment.

Therefore, Outing’s advice is to include everyone in changing to meet digital challenges - this can include encouraging all newsroom staff to write their own blogs and use applications such as Twitter and Facebook.

He writes: “By actually living the digital life and embracing it (even if you’re forced to by your boss), you’ll better understand how the modern consumer interacts with media and news.”

Outing also recommends bringing in outside help to lead workshops and brainstorming sessions about how to make news websites more innovative.

He concludes: “If my little ‘magic wand’ experiment showed anything to me, it’s primarily that the minority of ‘forward thinkers’ in many newsrooms are pushing the reinvention process forward.

“It’s time to get everyone involved, and everyone on board.”

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23 January 2008

Interviews Aggregator Could “Tempt” Users

The launch of a new website featuring links to interviews could provide newspapers with a great online promotion opportunity.

Access Interviews opened its virtual doors this month and offers links to original interview articles with figures in the public eye ranging from politicians to business owners to celebrities.

Visitors to the site can search by category or by person and site founder Rob McGibbon told Press Gazette he ultimately aims to have an archive linking to “every interview” since 1859.

The good news for newspapers is that links to their articles can be submitted free of charge and visitors to Access Interviews will then be directed to their website to read the story.

According to Access Interviews, newspapers can use the aggregator to “tempt a vast new audience to your website”.

In addition, the website also provides a useful resource for reporters when writing stories and looking to include quotes from other sources.

“More interviews are appearing online as magazines and newspapers open up their archives,” said McGibbon.

“By generating the links to this content on an independent site such as Access Interviews, publishers will attract new premium web traffic deep into their sites,” he added.

“Journalists and web editors hold the keys to the archives, so I appeal to them to get digging and post the links.”


Bobby’s Blog At Plymouth Herald

The highest ranking police officer in Plymouth is writing a blog for the local newspaper website.

Chief Superintendent Jim Webster is keeping a regularly updated blog for the Plymouth Evening Herald and it is already encouraging community cohesion and understanding.

For example, the police commander uses the blog as a tool for communicating directly with members of the public and he also uses it to post replies to letters submitted to the Herald’s online correspondence section.

And in his latest post he discusses the force’s Insight Patrol project where individuals are allowed to accompany police officers in the line of duty to gain an insight into their world.

The Chief Super is also no slouch with multimedia tools and the blog already features an embedded YouTube video showing a police film made last year using a head-cam.

Herald Web Editor Neil Shaw told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “The blog has been an instant success and gives a genuine insight into what our most senior police officer believes should be his priorities, and what he intends to do about them.”

He adds: “Web exclusive content always proves popular with our readers and users, especially when it touches on topics such as crime and disorder.”

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UClan Plays Host To Sports Debate

The impact of digital technologies upon sports reporting is the subject of the next panel debate to be staged by the University of Central Lancashire (UClan).

Among the media industry names on the team-sheet for next week’s event are cricket expert and sports editor Kadambari Murali from India’s Hindustan Times, BBC sports editor Mihir Bose, and Robert Hardie from Associated Northcliffe Digital.

Meanwhile, playing for the PR team will be Phil Townsend from Manchester United’s communications department.

And the man with the whistle will be debate chairman Charlie Lambert, the BBC North West sports correspondent who now runs the sports journalism course at UClan.

Further information on the Journalism Leaders Forum event, which takes place on January 29th from 17.15 at the Preston campus, can be found here.

22 January 2008

Multimedia Storytelling For Murder Trial

Reporters on two newspapers are deploying multimedia tools to keep readers informed about an ongoing multiple murder case.

The Evening Star and East Anglian Daily Times are using both print and online operations in collaboration in order to provide comprehensive coverage of the trial of Steve Wright.

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk reports that journalists on both titles, who work out of the same office, are using the web as the focus for live news updates from Ipswich Crown Court.

In addition, the innovative shared content offers a history of the case, provides profiles of the five murdered women and has an interactive map showing the sites where the bodies were found and other key locations in the trial.

Web editor James Goffin said of the court coverage: “We had four reporters there - two actually in court and two manning our one seat in a special room with a video relay.”

He added “We’ve got a laptop with a mobile connection so they can send copy straight from court to the website.”

Goffin concluded: “Some of the online content will differ from print, some will remain on our website throughout the trial and the newspaper will rely on day-to-day coverage.

“There are no barriers between print and web in our operations.”


21 January 2008

Hyperlocal Story Goes Global

A story first sent to a local community website in the US has spread across the Atlantic and around the world.

Have you seen the pictures of a wedding cake custom-made in the shape of the bride plastered all over the British press recently? (See Daily Mail and Daily Mirror for examples.)

Well, that story first appeared last November on hyperlocal website neighborsgo after the woman who made the five-foot tall cake was encouraged by a friend to send in photos of her creation.

From there it was picked up by its parent title Dallas Morning News, which thought the pictures of the curious cake made a great quirky item.

And the story doesn’t end there – it then came to the attention of US news giant CNN after it was submitted to its I-Report user-generated content section.

From there it was featured among the pages of the British tabloid press and "world domination" beckoned – not bad for a hyperlocal neighbourhood news-in-brief!


18 January 2008

Heathrow Drama On The Web

The crash landing of a plane at Heathrow provided an opportunity for an online breaking news story – so how did coverage compare in those crucial first few hours?

Considering there was no shortage of hacks on the scene – they watched the drama unfold along with Gordon Brown from a China-bound plane stuck on the runway – it’s interesting to see how different websites opted to cover the story.

Leader of the pack of national newspapers was undoubtedly the Telegraph, which saw its recent video news deal with ITN pay dividends as it was the only one to have branded video footage of the crashed plane.

In addition, the Telegraph used the pictures to accompany a phone interview with its political editor Andrew Porter, who described the scene from his runway vantage point.

And their efforts didn’t go unrewarded as the Telegraph came top in Google News searches on the crash at 16.15.

The only other national newspaper site to feature video shortly after the story broke was the Sun, in the form of an embedded video player of Sky News Live.

That aside, the Sun didn’t really distinguish itself in its coverage considering its bid to improve its web offerings, including just a small text story and picture to accompany the Sky News footage.

Another up-and-coming website did impress though – the Daily Mail may not have had video but it quickly put up a lengthy write-up with lots of pictures, and included useful graphics of the crash site, Heathrow Airport and of a Boeing 777 aircraft.

Perhaps another disappointment was the Guardian, which included a short audio clip of reporter Will Woodward speaking from the Prime Minister’s plane and a brief breaking news story but nothing else.

Times Online didn’t exactly go to town either with a standard breaking news story piece and nothing more – and the presence of one of its own reporters at the scene only merited a mention in Sam Coates’ Red Box blog.

And the Independent also adopted a minimalistic approach to the breaking news story, with only a short piece and photograph from the Press Association.

For the regionals, it was a good showing from the Richmond and Twickenham Times which posted a breaking news story on its website shortly after the incident.

And as for the broadcasters – the BBC took the spoils with a live streaming of its BBC News 24 coverage, which featured some great helicopter pictures and interviews with eyewitnesses, aviation experts and passengers who were on the stricken jet.

Within a couple of hours it also had some neat video packages online which featured the best of the interviews and an audio report by mobile phone from political editor Nick Robinson, who also updated his blog from the plane.

Presumably sat next to Nick making his call was Sky News’s politics man Adam Boulton, who gave studio anchor Kay Burley his view of the crash landing.

Sky had live streaming from its news channel on its website but presumably the Sky helicopter must have been in for service because they didn’t seem to have any aerial shots in those first few hours and had to rely on some quite poor ground pictures early on.

Like the BBC, it quickly edited live footage into small video packages for web users but annoyingly my PC couldn’t open them as I lacked the required Macromedia Flash update.

And finally – what about user-generated content?

Well, all the websites were practically pleading for it and pretty soon a photograph of the broken undercarriage taken by an eyewitness appeared on the BBC, and Sky News’s picture gallery featured a photograph from a member of the public.

Information from experts was also in demand and at one point a BBC News 24 anchor posed a technical question to an aviation expert prompted by a text sent in by a British Airways pilot.

Some stories were also open to comments and the Daily Mail had more than a dozen posted within a couple of hours.

All in all, as far as breaking news online goes it’s an A-plus for the Telegraph, an A-minus for the Daily Mail and a “must do better” for some of their rivals.

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Say Hello To The ‘Tellygraph’

Seven online TV programmes are being made available on the Daily Telegraph’s website.

On the site so far is TTV News - featuring videos reporting on headline stories such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit to China.

And the service is already proving its worth after the Telegraph was the only national newspaper-affiliated website to have its own branded video footage of yesterday’s crash landing drama at Heathrow, with an accompanying voiceover from a Telegraph reporter.

The programmes are the result of a partnership with ITN and further channels to be rolled out this month include a political TV series called Right On and a culture show, reports Journalism.co.uk.

Telegraph Media Group Digital Editor Edward Roussel says: “Our investment in Telegraph TV shows we are committed to the highest standards of editorial both in print and on the web.”

He adds: “The future of news on the web is in the combination of text, video and user-generated content. This development is a major step in that direction.”


Devon Rape Trial Receives Multimedia Coverage

A south-west newspaper is using an array of multimedia tools to cover a rape trial.

The Devon Express and Echo has three reporters working on the case in order to produce daily video packages providing the latest news from Exeter Crown Court.

In addition, the newspaper’s website will feature hourly updates on the trial and readers can also sign up to receive breaking news text alerts.

Editor Marc Astley told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “There is massive interest in this case, it was one of the biggest stories we had last year.

“The trial has come at the right time for us from a multimedia point of view as our staff have been trained in all the disciplines we’ll be using.”

He added: “People are starting to expect this sort of coverage from us – we publish overnight and while not all readers are pleased about that, the other side of it is that they now expect us to publish on the web.”

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17 January 2008

Net Ads ‘To Overtake TV By 2009’

The internet will attract more advertising money than television in the UK within the next two years, predicts a new study.

Media agency Group M forecasts that spending on internet adverts will grow to almost one-quarter of the sector’s total expenditure in 2008, which means it will need to grow by just another 6% to take over spending on TV commercials.

According to report author Adam Smith, 2009 is likely to be the year when this changeover occurs and the UK will become the world’s first major economy to experience it.

“The UK is a special case,” says Smith, futures director at the media planning and buying group.

“Its TV share (of all media spend) is depressed by the BBC and there is still a large and healthy print sector and Britons are among the world’s heaviest internet users.”

He adds: “The internet is not one medium, its growth rate is a blend of three distinct businesses growing at different speeds: search, display and classified.

“Most of the growth is coming from search advertising and that is being fuelled by either new money or from the direct marketing sector, not so much from TV ad budgets.”

Smith also predicts that display and classified advertising online will experience growth of about 20% this year, while search advertising is likely to increase by some 35% during the course of the year.

Further details on this story can be seen at Guardian Unlimited and the Independent.


16 January 2008

Online Contest Lights Up Xmas Coverage

The Ipswich Evening Star recently used a range of interactive online tools in its successful Christmas community competition.

Readers were invited to upload photos of their festive lights to the newspaper’s website and users could then vote for their favourite via an online poll.

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk reports that enterprising journalists also integrated Google Maps into the feature so that visitors could locate the sites of the various domestic illuminations.

The event was the Evening Star’s first internet-only competition and more than 1,000 votes were cast by users.

Marketing spokesperson Sue Gipps said the success of the contest is likely to lead to further online-only ventures, such as a regular ‘bonniest baby’ feature.

“What we would be doing is web and in-paper together so that they complement each other,” added Gipps.

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15 January 2008

What Digg Dug In 2007

The top ten most-Dugg UK stories on user-generated recommendation site Digg have been revealed and it’s good news for the Beeb.

Three BBC articles made the top ten with the corporation’s coverage of the killing of Benazir Bhutto attracting 6429 diggs, making it the third most recommended story.

Press Gazette reports that the Guardian also posts a good showing with two of the most-Dugg, including the top-placed story about the discovery of an earth-like planet back in April.

Completing the chart are articles from the Daily Telegraph, the Sun and a photograph from the Daily Mail, showing that traditional news providers with an established web presence are providing the most popular content from the UK at Digg.


How To Produce Video On A Budget

Journalism.co.uk currently features a series providing advice for newsrooms looking to branch out into video production.

The three-part offering from digital journalism teacher Andy Dickinson outlines the best hardware buys for staff who want to create their own video packages and provides info for newspapers on a budget as well as on “Web video approaches to get you looking like a pro”.

Part one covers budgets of up to £150, part two goes up to £300 and the final instalment reaches “pro level kit” beyond £300.

The University of Central Lancashire lecturer recommends: “If you want to take the plunge and have a go at video in your newsroom or to add another content string to your bow, you don’t have to break the bank.

“Start small (and cheap) and you can try out the process before you commit to more expensive kit.”

He adds: “There are millions of iterations of kit but the most important thing is that it’s got to fit the way you work.”

Dickinson is course leader for Digital Journalism Production at the university and writes an online reporting and video blog.


14 January 2008

Comments Prompt ‘Shrine Removal’

A Plymouth mother has taken down a shrine commemorating the death of her daughter in a car crash after reading negative comments on a newspaper website.

The Herald’s online story about the anniversary of the death of two girls who died in a stolen car received a significant number of users’ comments criticising the placing of flowers and cards at the accident scene.

The mother of one of the teenagers later revealed to the Herald that she decided to remove the articles of remembrance from the city centre location after reading the criticism.

She said she took action because she did not want “nasty things said about Jade because of the way we are dealing with her loss”.

Herald Web Editor Neil Shaw told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “There were lots of negative comments about the shrine, saying they didn’t like driving past it.”

Shaw stated that the Herald operates a pre-moderation policy with its comments, noting: “We monitor them as they come in. We saw them and thought they were harsh but decided to leave them on.”

He added that the effects of users’ comments will no doubt be seen again: “To actually take direct action like this, it’s the first time we’ve seen that - and probably not the last.”

Further reactions about the incident can be found here.


Newsquest Serves The ‘Grazers’

Media group Newsquest has agreed a deal for the Press Association (PA) to provide its news sites with multimedia packages.

As part of the agreement, the PA will supply video content of top national news, sport and entertainment stories to Newsquest’s websites.

Newsquest Editorial Director Margaret Strayton told Press Gazette: “We know that consumers of news and information are increasingly becoming ‘news grazers’, sampling a veritable media buffet throughout the day.

“There is a seismic shift in the media marketplace and Newsquest is transforming its culture to meet this challenge.”

She added: “We believe this national package will complement our ultra-local packages with up-to-the minute information and a variety of viewpoints.”

The deal will also see the PA supply Newsquest sites, such as the Bradford Telegraph and Argus and the Northern Echo, with interactive graphics-laden articles and photographs.


11 January 2008

3 Sites Hit East England Awards Shortlist

The three sites shortlisted for best news website in eastern England have been unveiled.

Archant’s eveningnews24 and Herts and Cambs 24 websites as well as myfootballwriter.com are vying for the Website of the Year title at this year’s EDF Energy East of England Media Awards, reports holdthfrontpage.co.uk.

The Archant websites are affiliated to a number of newspapers including the Norwich Evening News, Hertfordshire Advertiser and Welwyn and Hatfield Times.

By contrast, myfootballwriter.com is an internet-only venture which was launched in 2006 by former Evening News sports writer Rick Waghorn.

It prides itself on providing avid footie fans in East Anglia with the latest news, views and analysis on Championship side Norwich City and has recently expanded to include a new site dedicated to Ipswich Town.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on January 31st.

Further information about the creation of myfootballwriter.com and its founder can be found here.


BBC News Chief Enters UGC Debate

The head of the BBC Newsroom has delivered a speech calling for a re-evaluation of the value of public participation in news production.

Peter Horrocks told an audience at the University of Leeds that the “somewhat messianic and starry-eyed” support from some quarters for user-generated content (UGC) needs “careful consideration”.

Horrocks stated that examples of UGC such as users’ comments can aid the news-gathering process and bring fresh perspectives but emphasised that only a very small minority are actually participating.

“What organisation - a political party, a business, a trades union - would allow its stance to be totally driven by such a small minority?”

Horrocks also uses the example of the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto to highlight the problems the BBC faces in deciding whether to suspend debating zones if comments become offensive or extreme.

“In terms of audience debate about the subjects we cover in the news, I believe we will need to be more relaxed about letting a wide range of views proliferate. The balance between pre-moderated and post-moderated debate may need to shift.

“And we may simply sometimes point audiences to other places, outside the BBC, where informed debate about topical subjects is happening. So the urge to constrain debate, as with the initial Bhutto response, needs to relax.”

As well as this more ‘relaxed’ approach to comments, Horrocks revealed that the BBC will soon be handling all material from the audience through its central UGC Unit located within its new multimedia newsroom.

The full text of Horrocks’ speech - “Citizen journalism - for the 1% or the 99%?” - can be found on the BBC Editors blog.

Comments posted to the BBC's Have Your Say forum following the assassination of Bhutto can be read here.


10 January 2008

Guardian Thanks Pluck For UGC

Guardian Unlimited has become the latest news website to enlist the services of the Pluck media group to handle its user-generated content.

The agreement will see the US firm take control of managing users’ comments, article ratings and a whole host of other interactive tools.

Press Gazette reports that the Guardian will start using Pluck’s SiteLife Social Media Platform later this year as part of its website restructuring plans.

The package also creates facilities for user blogs, profiles, forums as well as photo and video-sharing sections.

“Obviously what the platform does is take a lot of the load off of our platform when it comes to commenting, rating and responding and managing communities more generally,” says Tom Turcan, general manager for digital at the Guardian.

He adds: “We’ve already got blogs and commenting and polls, but they are implemented on our legacy platform.

“Those will be transferred into the new environment and we’ll be using Pluck to enable us to do that, but we’ll also be using it to do a hell of a lot more.”

A significant number of major players in online news use the SiteLife Social Media Platform, including USA Today, and the Washington Post.


Manchester Gun Murders Mapped

The Manchester Evening News (MEN) is using an interactive map to show shooting deaths from the past eight years.

Entitled “How Many More?”, the special feature includes a Google map showing the locations of gun fatalities in the Greater Manchester area since 1999.

Surrounding the map are photographs of the victims and visitors to the site can use these to locate the scenes of crime and read stories about the murders from the MEN archives.

In addition, users can access archive reports on the killings from other news providers such as the BBC.

The feature is a classic example of journalists using multimedia storytelling to great effect and particularly impressive is its navigability and linking to other sites.

And in a time when stickiness seems to be becoming something of a buzzword among web editors, special reports such as this are an excellent way to encourage visitors to delve into the archives and spend longer on the site.

Things don’t stop there either as the MEN is also planning to use an interactive Google map to show the city’s congestion hotspots.

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk reports that the website is planning to encourage users to provide information to produce the map, which will then form the basis of a dossier to demand improvements to Manchester’s roads.


09 January 2008

Editors’ Code Launched Online

An online version of the Editors’ Codebook is now available on a new website.

The 65-page document acts as a handbook to the Code of Practice and is a newsroom must-have with information on legal issues regarding print and online news.

In addition, the editors’ code website features a FAQs section and the latest version of the code itself, which was approved by the Press Complaints Commission in August this year.

Code Committee Secretary Ian Beales told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “Our hope is that by making the book more user-friendly it will become an even more essential tool in making self-regulation work.”


OJR’s Online Lessons From ‘07

Breaking news blogs, widgets, interaction, crowdsourcing and investigative reporting - the five features news sites should build on in 2008?

They are according to Online Journalism Review (OJR), which claims these are the key areas which online news providers should address when learning the lessons of 2007.

OJR states that events such as the wildfires in Los Angeles have illustrated the importance of a breaking news blog for a website as it enables staff to publish up-to-the-minute details and allows newspapers to compete with broadcast media.

Second on the agenda for 2008 according to OJR should be “get widget love”, which basically involves using online tools like photos, video, maps and hyperlinking to enliven reporting.

Third: It’s welcome news for the sports hacks as OJR asserts that other reporters should take inspiration from them when it comes to building online communities and encouraging interaction with users.

“Sports provides the best training ground for managing readers’ comments, its columnists transition well to blogging, and sports desks tend to have many writers and editors who are heavy Web users themselves, allowing them to bring all the pieces together in compelling and heavily read Web productions.”

OJR says the fourth lesson to be learned from 2007 is that getting users to produce content traditionally produced by journalists is simply not working.

Instead, it suggests crowdsourcing and other information-gathering techniques are the future of user-generated content and can provide the foundations for special reports and breaking news stories.

And finally, OJR issues a call to arms to all reporters to use the coming year as an opportunity to work towards the reinvention of investigative journalism, or as OJR puts it: “Call out the liars”.

“Readers today are drowning in lies … the news sites that prosper in 2008 and beyond will be the ones that do not leave their readers hanging with ‘he said, she said’ coverage, but that report aggressively to reveal to readers who’s lying and who is telling the truth.”

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08 January 2008

‘Horse Cam’ Creates Hunt Film

A daily newspaper in Bristol recently used a head camera to produce a video of the traditional Boxing Day hunts.

Staff at the Western Daily Press enlisted the help of a rider to carry the cam on her helmet to record her view of the Avon Vale Hunt in Wiltshire.

The resulting footage - labelled "through the ears" by the Daily Press team - provides a visual accompaniment to the online text report of the event.

According to the site, the video content offers online visitors "a taste of what it’s like to ride with a hunt".

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk reports that this is not the first outing for ‘Horse Cam’, the £300 device has previously been used by the Daily Press to record footage during a polo match and has also been worn by an event rider.


Wikia: The Future of Search

This week has seen the launch of a new open-source search engine by the founder of Wikipedia.

Wikia Search is the brainchild of Jimmy Wales and represents his attempt to create an open and transparent internet search facility.

This means that the site operates in a similar way to Wikipedia, with registered members helping to filter and rank search results.

The founders reveal their big ambitions in the launch statement, asserting that the facility “represents the first draft of the future of search”.

A recent report also stated that Wales and Co are aiming high with Wikia Search and ultimately aspire to become a major rival to market leaders such as Google and Yahoo!

The search engine’s four principles are: Openness about how its algorithms operate, enabling community participation, providing quality results and protecting privacy.


Blue-Sky Thinking For 2008

A key figure at Sky News says the future for the big media players lies in social networking applications and multi-platform distribution.

Steve Bennedik reveals that a recent trip to visit news groups Stateside has left him convinced that broadcasters need to cease being so protectionist in their approaches.

The networked media editor tells journalism.co.uk that the goal for major news providers is to find a method of making it easy to spread their content across the multiple platforms now available, from social networking sites to mobile phones and PCs.

He asserts: “It’s increasingly important to let people invite you into their world, so many people are spending so much time on social networking, if you can enter that world you can become part of that group, that will become increasingly important.

“To have a news application that works on Facebook, it doesn’t necessarily take us a lot of time to do ... it’s those sort of things that will become increasingly important to major players in the future.”

Bennedik also discloses that Sky’s next big project will be its spring relaunch - with the inclusion of more user-generated content and video news.

If you want to read more from Steve Bennedik, you can find his news views on the Sky News Editors’ Blog.

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07 January 2008

Digital Lessons From Down Under

UK journalists should look at the recent events in Australia to see the effects of a digitised election, claims an expert.

The impact of the blogosphere and broadband video were in evidence throughout the recent general election down under, says the director of a journalism think-tank.

Charlie Beckett, director at Polis, writes in Press Gazette that “the close cultural ties and political similarities make Australia’s experience much more relevant to the UK”.

Beckett, along with co-writer Tim Watts, asserts that online video has become particularly vital to both news providers and political campaigners who were conducting their own battles on the web.

“Lower costs mean that internet video has provided a real-life campaign test bed, where videos can either flop and fade into oblivion or strike a chord and make the jump into paid TV ads,” notes the expert, who heads the London School of Economics think-tank.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australian voters watched footage of the opposition leader eating his own ear wax, the prime minister being portrayed as a ‘farting fossil fool’ and some of the most surreal campaign advertisements in memory.”

Beckett and Watt also confirm that the Australian blogosphere played its part in providing alternative coverage.

They report that the political blogosphere actually irritated the mainstream enough to earn a disparaging editorial from The Australian, where the majority of bloggers were derided as a “one-eyed anti-Howard cheer squad now masquerading as serious online political commentary”.

In conclusion, Beckett and Watt state: “The lesson from Australia is that the internet does not (yet) decide elections, but it has a critical marginal impact.”

And all this could mean that British journalists seeking online reporting tips for this year’s anticipated election should avert their gaze from across the pond and take a virtual journey to Oz instead.

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Greenslade Reports From The Multimedia Coalface

National newspapers are “forging ahead” of their regional counterparts in the development of multimedia newsrooms, according to a media commentator.

Newspaper veteran Roy Greenslade reached this conclusion following his recent tour of the London offices of the Times, Financial Times and Daily Telegraph.

Writing in the Guardian, Greenslade says his visits to the three multimedia newsrooms showed him that “journalists have grasped, or are beginning to grasp, the benefits of integration, not only at a practical level but as a philosophy”.

The journalism professor outlines his impressions of the three state-of-the-art offices and reveals some of their innovative features - such as the projected wall screen at the Daily Telegraph which provides real-time feedback on the popularity of online stories.

Greenslade declares the Telegraph newsroom “is a terrific working environment”, while the hub in the Financial Times office ensures there is no “territorial demarcation” between print and online operations.

Meanwhile, Greenslade states that the newsroom of the Times feels organised and adds that “integration between print and web is being accomplished without apparent pain”.

And finally, the former Daily Mirror editor leaves us with a prediction – that the Times may see staff mergers with its Sunday title in the future, similar to those carried out at the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.


Top 20 Young News Minds Unveiled

PRESSTIME magazine has revealed this year’s top 20 most innovative young professionals in the newspaper industry.

The publication says its annual “20 Under 40”selection represents some of the brightest minds in America’s news business and this year it includes several new media specialists alongside managers, editors, journalists and advertising executives.

Among the young digital innovators are Mark Briggs from the News Tribune in Washington and Patrick Mullen of the Times Herald-Record in New York.

Briggs pushed the launch of a blog for the Seattle Seahawks American football team, which has gone on to become one of the most popular parts of the news site, and the 38-year-old has also overseen the introduction of interactive databases online.

While 32-year-old Mullen spearheaded the rollout of local search engine HudsonValley.com, which merges all the Herald-Record’s event calendars onto one site.

Profiles of the 20 professionals, including details of some of their most successful innovations, can be viewed online here.

PRESSTIME is published monthly by the Newspaper Association of America.


04 January 2008

Multimedia Students Uncover “Rich Tapestry”

An intensive workshop in multimedia storytelling creates “motivated journalists” who can tell great stories with digital tools, according to one of its instructors.

Teacher Arielle Emmett says a “multimedia reporting boot-camp” held in Armagh last summer proved a great hit and brought out the best in its American students.

“In a short period we managed to do what most multimedia reporting classes of full semesters don’t seem to do: Create high-energy, motivated journalists who uncover rich tapestries of stories and manage to tell them (quickly and convincingly) with digital tools,” writes Emmett in American Journalism Review.

The students used multimedia tools such as video and slideshow to tell their stories, which ranged from the experiences of people during the Troubles to investigations into local legends and a feature on a girls’ Gaelic football team.

Managed by the Institute for Education in International Media, the Armagh Media Project is a four-week course; all the stories produced by this year’s class can be viewed here.

03 January 2008

User Comments ‘Don’t Build Communities’

The head of a moderation services provider asserts that comment sections have too narrow a focus to create online communities.

Chat Moderators head Robert Marcus criticises the vertical structure used by most news websites, which he claims leads to a series of disjointed comments on any given story and limits user-to-user messaging.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Marcus suggests news websites can only create virtual communities through shared spaces such as forums.

“Commenting on news stories is a very narrow activity,” says Marcus.

“It doesn’t build community - it might build loyalty and interactivity for a website to some degree, but I can’t see where it builds community, because it only appeals to a limited number of people.”

He adds: “There’s no opportunity for me to discuss things with the other posters - just a list of ‘what do you thinks?’ that are not linked to each other.”

Launched in 2000, Chat Moderators claims to be the world’s first company to offer outsourced moderation services.

The London-based firm also offers consultancy services on areas such as ... how to create effective online communities.

02 January 2008

FT Expands Video Content

The website of the Financial Times is destined to significantly increase its video content in 2008.

Press Gazette reports that FT.com will expand the current number of online video packages with a regular news update service after signing a new deal with Reuters.

“We now create and publish over 100 popular videos of our own every month and this number will increase in 2008,” commented Ian Cheng, managing editor at the online FT.

He added: “Video from Reuters will play an important role in complementing and building on this as we move into 2008.”

The news agency already supplies FT.com with still photos and commercial data as a consequence of a contract secured in October 2007.

Multimedia Storytelling Contest Launched

Reporters who have deployed multimedia tools to tell a travel tale can enter a competition to win kudos and cases.

Stylish travel gear is the first prize in the contest from Journalism.co.uk, which is seeking entries from any European-based journalists who believe they have produced an innovative online story this year connected with a journey.

“It could be a piece of travel journalism, war, foreign, local, political or sport reporting, anything that has involved a journey of some kind as part of the story,” states the website.

“Used Google Maps to chart your journey taking the temperature of potential hotspots in the run up to elections in Nigeria?

“Created interactive slideshows to document bus routes in your local town or followed a piece of news that’s speeding across you patch?”

If you have, then you are invited to nominate yourself and try your luck at winning handmade luggage from Sandstorm Kenya.

A note of caution from the organisers however: “If you have just bunged your holiday snaps on Flickr and bloggged/sent an email from your poolside destination I wouldn’t bother sending us anything.”

Submission details are available at Journalism.co.uk. The contest is open for entries until January 18.

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