29 August 2008

Comments Strategies At ‘Big 10’ Reviewed

A new review from Editor & Publisher compares and contrasts comment moderation policies at America’s ten largest newspapers.

The author examines the affiliated websites for newspapers including USA Today and The New York Times and looks at the differences in guidelines and publishing rules.

According to Ernest L Wiggins, all of the ten sites have some kind of system in place to moderate comments submitted by users and these range from staff screening to peer moderation.

The academic also gives his views on the various ‘notes to contributors’ sections, stating that the Los Angeles Times has the harshest rules and identifying the Wall Street Journal’s policies as the most liberal.

Find out more at E & P - "Moderation a Virtue? How 10 Top Sites Handle Online Comments".

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Survey Shows Online Use Rising

The number of people getting their news online everyday has grown by almost a third in two years, a new study finds.

Some 25% of adults in the US now use the internet to access news on a daily basis, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center.

The biennial survey has also identified four different groups of news consumers, including the “demographically sought-after audience segment” known as the Integrators.

Integrators obtain their news from both new media and traditional sources and account for 23% of the news-consuming public.

Another category outlined by the study is the Net-Newsers, which tends to ignore newspaper, TV and radio news sources in favour of reports on the Web.

Summaries of the survey are available on many news sites including guardian.co.uk, washingtonpost.com and from the AP.

While an overview of the report and the full pdf version can be viewed on the Pew Research Center website.


28 August 2008

Hull Kicks Off Multimedia Coverage

A newspaper is aiming to ensure Hull City supporters don’t miss a single kick this season through its multimedia coverage.

The Hull Daily Mail is offering Tigers fans a variety of ways to follow their team’s fortunes in its first season in the top flight, from mobile alerts to real-time match coverage.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that the daily newspaper heralded the start of the Premiership season with video footage of post-match press conferences and a video diary from an 85-year-old fan.

The Mail offered online text commentary on the game against Fulham as well as SMS alerts through its Tigers Flash service.

Its multimedia coverage also includes photo galleries, an interactive Tigers World Map and a score predictor competition.

Editor John Meehan explained that the Mail has to up its game now the club has achieved Premiership status: “There will be more media interest in Hull City than ever before but we have put down a marker that our coverage will be better and more comprehensive than you can get anywhere else.

“We’ve set out to give the fans a complete service in the paper and on the web.”

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Political Writers Name Must-Read Blogs

Some of America’s top political reporters have named the blogs they consider as must-reads in their course of work.

And the American Journalism Review (AJR) enquiry found that blogs maintained by mainstream media writers had a significant presence in the essentials lists of political journalists and bloggers.

So among the more predictable choices like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo were The Trail from the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire and The Note from ABC News.

In addition, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s American Debate blog from Dick Polman and Chris Cillizza’s The Fix blog on washingtonpost.com made appearances on reporters’ lists.

Submitting their lists to the AJR were political writers from the Huffington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Post, ABC News, NPR and USA Today.

The article was inspired by a recent Brodeur study which found that the top five blogs read by a sample of almost 70 political reporters were:

The Huffington Post

Real Clear Politics

Talking Points Memo

Daily Kos



27 August 2008

Readers Select Subject For Investigation

The New Statesman (NS) is inviting readers to have their say on the issue they most want to see investigated by the magazine.

Dubbed “a unique experiment in British journalism”, the initiative offers the audience five subjects for a new investigative journalism piece.

The five topics are the political lobbying scene, Conservative Party funding, the “asylum crisis”, British childhood and the influence wielded by Prince Charles.

Visitors to the NS online are asked to vote for the investigation they wish to see pursued “as a matter of priority”.

The weekly magazine is also giving readers the opportunity to suggest their own subjects for investigation via the comments section.

Currently heading the readers’ poll is the way the British government treats asylum seekers.

More on this at Press Gazette’s The Wire blog.

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NBC “Stunned” By Olympic Success On Mobiles

Broadcaster NBC has revealed the popularity of its recent Olympics coverage among mobile users.

And research president Alan Wurtzel announced that the American channel has been “stunned” by the number of people tuning in to view the Games using a handheld device.

He told the Guardian that on Monday August 11 over 475,000 users had viewed the photos, videos and text offerings from NBC Olympics Mobile.

Wurtzel said: “These Olympics are influencing how people are using new technology.

“Half of the people viewing on mobile are using it for the first time. After the Olympics, it will be interesting if these habits become part of their behaviour.”

NBC’s mobile content has also proved popular with the critics, with a Washington Post reviewer describing the service as the “best Olympics coverage hands-down”.

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26 August 2008

Mercury’s Webcam To Show Pier Rebuild

People can watch the reconstruction of Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier via a webcam feed on a newspaper website.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that the Weston and Somerset Mercury has set up a camera on part of the pier left undamaged by last month’s fire.

The camera is trained on the wrecked end of the famous pier and will record the planned rebuild second-by-second.

“Visitors to the Mercury website will be able to watch as the burnt iron and wood are removed and a new building starts to form,” asserted the newspaper’s editor, Judi Kisiel.

She added: “By storing up the images it will also be possible to do regular time elapsed clips of ‘a month in a minute.’”

The Mercury’s website has an entire section dedicated to the Grand Pier with features such as an extensive gallery of readers’ photos of the pier in its heyday and video footage of the devastating blaze.

In addition, visitors to the site can share their memories of the pier with other users via a Memories and Tributes forum.

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Credibility Is The Key For New Aggregator

The emphasis is on credibility at a new news aggregator launched this month.

NewsCred joins the news aggregation marketplace and is trying to carve out a niche for itself with a voting system where readers can "credit" or "discredit" any given article.

According to its site, NewsCred is appealing to users to make their decision based on “factors such as credibility, quality, transparency and accuracy”.

Stories, authors and sources then accumulate CredRanks and NewsCred states these rankings “ensure that we can present only the highest quality news articles”.

BBC dot.life blogger Rory Cellan-Jones writes that this newcomer to the news aggregation scene represents “an interesting, if frightening, development for a professional journalist”.

On the plus side, he asserts that NewsCred and similar set-ups are “putting more pressure on news organisations to improve their professional and ethical standards, and to listen to the people who consume their products”.

However, Cellan-Jones also warns that such sites could become “playgrounds for lobby groups and obsessives”, voting in accordance with their controversial views.

NewsCred’s other key feature is its personalisation options, which enable users to create their own “digital newspaper” by selecting different sources for various types of news.

Further opinions and information about the news aggregator service can be found at Read Write Web, the Media Channel and on the official NewsCred blog.


25 August 2008

Chicago Sites Share User Comments Strategies

How online news sites handle comments from users formed the focal point of a recent panel discussion.

And offering examples from their own working practices were representatives from the non-profit ChiTownDailyNews.org and from the Chicago Tribune.

Professor Jane Singer was one of the attendees at the forum (details at the end) and here’s her summary of the main points:


“In a session during the convention, a ChicagoTribune.com staffer discussed issues related to offensive comments associated with news stories.

*The site enabled comments a year ago; they now are an option on all stories unless an editor removes the capability, commonly on crime stories as well as suicides and other sensitive topics.

*The first filter is a program that screens for 700 ‘dirty words’ or phrases. (‘There are days I’m embarrassed to be reading some of this stuff,’ the staffer said.)

*Comments that make it past the filter are posted but can be flagged by users as abusive; one of around nine Tribune staffers then reviews the item and makes a decision.

*A reason must be provided for killing a comment; typical reasons include being off-topic, profane, personal or posing legal problems. She estimated the staff kills about 10 percent of the 24,000 comments created per week.

*Print reporters have been enlisted to help moderate comments; the online staffer claimed they loved doing that. She also said that moderation is necessary for the space to flourish.


Editor and CEO Geoff Dougherty said the site has a more relaxed policy about comments than the Chicago Tribune.

*Offensive comments may be OK - but comments that have nothing to do with a story will be deleted. ‘For the conversation to have value, it must be relevant to the public discussion,’ Dougherty said, adding a lot of problematic content is eliminated using that criterion.

*However, the website maintains a ban against use of anonymous sources in stories, and it also requires contributors to register using a real identity.

*Dougherty said his staff would act differently if they had a ‘100-year-old brand to protect.’”

The panel was part of the recent conference staged by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Further details on this discussion can be found on Alfred Hermida’s reportr.net blog and a photo stream from the AEJMC event is on Flickr.

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Comment Creates Story At New-Look Telegraph

The relaunched Belfast Telegraph site has recorded its first case of a reader’s comment prompting a story for the print edition.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that the title unveiled its new-look website this summer which “has allowed for greater interaction with its users”.

And this enhanced interaction was rewarded this month with a significant increase in page impressions (up by 29%) and the newspaper’s first comment-inspired story.

Independent News and Media digital publisher Sam McIlveen said of the relaunch: “It was frightening when our readers started to interact with us.

“Within ten minutes of us switching on the new website we had our first comment - it was amazing.”

The new site has also boosted its multimedia content and this month will be introducing exclusive video and audio coverage from selected Premiership press conferences.

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22 August 2008

10 Ways To Use Mobile Reporting

Here's a second slideshow we've put together with examples of how some newspapers are taking advantage of mobile technologies.

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21 August 2008

BBC Trials In-Page Links

As part of a new trial, the BBC is including links within the context of its online news stories.

The broadcaster’s web articles usually have a selection of links to external sites in the right-hand sidebar but as a rule it does not incorporate links within the body of text itself.

Steve Herrmann explains on The Editors blog that “we haven’t embedded links throughout the text, except for example when listing web sources or in diary-type pages, and of course we do it in our blogs.

“One of the reasons is we don’t want to interrupt a news story by sending the reader off the page in the middle of a sentence.”

Herrmann says the BBC is looking to enhance users’ experience on the site and notes that the linking experiment is a “way of testing whether we can make background content quicker and easier to add, find and access, without getting in the way of those readers who don't want to be distracted by it”.

BBC journalists are creating their links using Apture software, which opens up a small window on the story page.

Stories such as this one on the Nasa Moonship have the in-page link option and the links provide background details from sources such as Nasa and Wikipedia as well as video footage from YouTube.

Further details on this story can be found at Journalism.co.uk.

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20 August 2008

Local Paper Launches Web TV Series

The Yorkshire Evening Post has produced its take on the Most Haunted shows with a new online video series.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that the newspaper has recruited a medium to work on the six-part series in search of paranormal activity in Leeds.

The show follows Barrie John, a paranormal investigator and three members of staff from the YEP as they go ghost-hunting in some of the city’s most historic buildings.

Digital editor Geoff Fox described Haunted Leeds as “a fully fledged series of programmes” that he hopes will break new ground in the online newspaper industry.

The series is hosted on a dedicated website, where users can also submit their own photos and videos “to prove the unproven”.

Fox explained that the project demonstrates the new opportunities for newspapers created by digital technologies.

He added: “With this series, we’re hopefully going to show what can be achieved by pushing our own relatively modest understanding of video to its limit.

“It’s a testament to the willingness of our staff to adapt and embrace modern technology to enable them to successfully explore new mediums outside the realms of print.”

[Disclosure: The Yorkshire Evening Post is a Johnston Press publication.]

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19 August 2008

Is The Future Mobile?

Could revenue generated by mobile sites and services fill the gap left by declining ad sales and print circulation?

According to washingtonpost.com executive editor James Brady this is the current $64 million question facing newspaper publishers and he’s maintaining a positive outlook.

He told American Journalism Review (AJR): “We’re not filling that gap yet with either Web or mobile, which is leading to financial turmoil.

“But my own opinion is that we’ll come out on the other side in five to seven years, and we’ll probably get pretty close to filling the gap.”

His comments appear in a new AJR article looking at the current mobile site trends among US media organisations.

The piece discusses some of the services which have proved a surprise hit with mobile users - such as the Sudoku puzzles from regional publisher Gannett.

Other success stories are the mobile sites affiliated to Hearst titles such as Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

Hearst digital mobile director Sophia Stuart reveals that these mobile and web services are also helping the print counterpart by acting as a “subscription generator”.

The full article from academic Arielle Emmett is entitled Handheld Headlines and is on the AJR website.

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18 August 2008

Regional News Online Video Reviews

Blogger Andy Dickinson is turning his critical eye to the video content currently appearing on regional news sites.

Having looked at the use of video by the nationals, he’s now providing reviews of the online video offerings from seven evening regional newspapers in the UK.

Each review discusses the platform – including dedicated video sections and embedded video players – and the general presentation of the packages.

So far, he’s summarised video content from the Express & Star (Midland News Association), the Liverpool Echo (Trinity Mirror) and the Manchester Evening News (Guardian Media Group).

Check andydickinson.net next week for further reviews of the Belfast Telegraph (Independent News & Media), Leicester Mercury (Northcliffe), Yorkshire Evening Post (Johnston Press) and Bradford Telegraph & Argus (Newsquest).

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15 August 2008


Hello and welcome to the latest SPOTLIGHT post where we’ll be examining the different ways that newspapers are using photographs in their online coverage.

Compared to the early days of text-only pages, today’s newspaper websites offer a veritable feast for the eyes with photos and graphics wherever you look.

This trend seems to be growing with many nationals, like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, recently unveiling relaunched sites featuring heavy picture use on the homepages.

And thanks to multimedia tools, today’s photographers and journalists now have the option of using audio-visual slideshows as vehicles for their stories.

So in the light of all these developments, we’re going to take a look at examples of innovation in the field of online photojournalism.

We’ll also be seeing how newspapers are incorporating photos from their users in interesting ways and how they’re using slideshows as a new storytelling technique.

And we’ll wrap up as usual with links to some useful online resources for anyone who wants some practical tips.


First we’re looking at photographic content produced by photographers and journalists for their own websites.


The majority of newspaper websites in the UK and US seem to have a picture gallery of some description, whether it’s a small selection of images accompanying an article or a mass array of photographs grouped by theme or place.

And newspapers owned by Morris Communications have made theirs distinctive with group branding and promotional activities.

The American organisation’s regional news sites have a Spotted section where visitors can browse galleries of pictures from local events.

Meanwhile, photographers hand out “You’ve Been Spotted” cards to people at community gatherings to encourage them to check the site.

And due to its success generating about one in eight page views of Morris’s newspaper web pages, Spotted has been featured as an audience building initiative case study.

Other newspapers feature galleries showing the week in photos, such as the Oakland Tribune, and use themed collections for visitors to browse.


These usually comprise a selection of photos with an accompanying narration or soundtrack and either play automatically or can be moved on by the user.

Slideshows are becoming really popular and there are so many examples of some really great ones that the following is just a tiny sample of what’s happening with this alternative storytelling technique.

The Pulitzer Prize winning feature from the Concord Monitor illustrates how slideshows can be used to tell moving stories as it chronicles the life and death of a young mother.

While this story of a seven-year-old preacher won the best audio slideshow award for the Roanoke Times at this year’s Best of Photojournalism (BOP) awards.

Also picking up an award at the BOP awards was the Chicago Tribune for its use of audio, visual and text to show the plight of today’s urban poor.

Other photojournalists are using slideshows to offer the audience a slice-of-life piece, such as The City Exposed from the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a similar vein is the New York Times’s Riding the Q Train, which shows a “New York Slice of America” on the city’s subway trains.

While others opt to document a moment in time, such as the Birthday Dream Comes True slideshow from Midland Daily News which shows a soldier surprising his young daughter by returning home on leave for her birthday.

According to Martin Stabe, the Michigan newspaper’s multimedia section is well worth a visit for this and other impressive slideshows.

Finally, some newspapers are also introducing some great interactive elements to their slideshows, such as the Top 25 Superbowl Moments feature from the St Petersburg Times.

Each selected superbowl moment is given its own slideshow with audio commentary from a well known sports announcer and users have to rank them in order of their favourites.


Breaking News

It’s now commonplace for most newspaper websites to include user-generated content (UGC) in their breaking news coverage.

Often it can result in the publication of some extraordinary images - such as the users’ pictures from last year’s failed car bomb attack at Glasgow Airport submitted to the BBC.

Regional news sites are also now well versed in appealing for users’ photos and these can often form some impressive galleries.

For example, The Gazette in Iowa recently documented the effects of flood waters through compiling breaking news galleries of users’ pictures.

(Interestingly, a recent survey from the Project for Excellence in Journalism found a general consensus among editors that weather-related photographs are the most simple and effective forms of UGC.)


For examples of some innovative UGC galleries it’s back to Morris Communications where its newspapers’ Spotted features have a You Spotted section dedicated to readers’ photos of anything and everything.

Another effective format for users’ photo galleries can be found at the Bakersfield Californian where registered users can display their pictures in their own photo albums.

While National Geographic has opted for a clean and simple approach with its Webby award-winning Daily Dozen photo feature.


Internet-only photographic competitions are becoming more popular with both newspapers and readers.

For example, the Ipswich Evening Star held a contest last Christmas to see which reader had the best festive lights display.

Entrants had to submit their pictures to the website where fellow users would vote online for their favourites.

While the Bluffton Today website has a great little ongoing competition where each day a different readers’ photo is chosen as the site’s banner-head.


This final section will look at some innovative projects where journalists and photographers are working together with the audience.


Mentioned on this blog before but well worth another mention is the New York Times Polling Place Photo Project.

According to the NYT, the initiative is “a nationwide experiment in citizen journalism that encourages voters to capture, post and share photographs of this year’s primaries, caucuses and general election.

“By documenting local voting experiences, participants can contribute to an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America.”

Another American example of a photographic crowdsourcing work is the Absence of Place project from the Miami Herald.

Subtitled “An Interactive History”, the project asked readers to take photos of buildings and landscapes that used to be the home of something different in the past of relevance to the photographer.

The resultant collection of photos and accompanying captions are displayed online and were included in an exhibition.

Social Media

Photo-sharing websites have become an extremely popular way for people to display and organise their pictures online, often for free.

Some newspapers and broadcasters are now harnessing the popularity and ease of use of sites such as Flickr to create a place where readers and photographers can display their efforts side by side.

For example, the BBC ran a weather watchers pilot project on Flickr with users from Leicester.

Others have simply set up their own group on Flickr and invited readers to submit their pictures of the local area.

The Wrexham Evening Leader did this and more earlier this year when it set up three Flickr groups, including one called Aspiring Photographers to act as a discussion forum for keen amateurs.

Other newspapers have also set up groups based around a particular theme or event, such as the Liverpool Daily Post which created a group entitled Capital of Culture 2008.

The group has attracted almost 300 members and displays some impressive photos of some of the city’s best known sites like the Anglican Cathedral and the Royal Liver Building.

Each photo also appears in the Daily Post’s online “Culture through your eyes” gallery on its own web pages.



The web is teeming with information and resources for photographers so these are just a few examples of what’s out there.

Sports photographers may like to check out the Sports Shooter site dedicated to all things sporty.

The Digital Photography Review has plenty of practical advice and reviews of hardware while the Online Journalism Review (OJR) has a review of the best photo gallery software.


The Interactive Narratives website displays lots of the best slideshows created by newspapers, while judges for a National Press Photographers Association award recently gave their tips on how to create a good slideshow.

Again the OJR has some useful features such as a review of slideshow editing software packages and an article concerning a study about how users actually navigate slideshows.


There are plenty of blogging photographers sharing tips and advice to their communities of readers.

Worth a look is the blog from Dallas-based regional press photographer Mark Hancock and this photojournalism blog from Michael Zamora in Texas.

Finally, for an international news perspective pay a visit to the Reuters Photographers blog.

So that’s it for this SPOTLIGHT post. As always, get in touch if you have any examples of innovation you’d like to share or there’s any areas you’d like to see covered in future posts.

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Lessons In Linking

Blogger Sarah Hartley recently published her top tips on how journalists should be using links in their online stories.

Here’s a selection of her suggestions from the post Why Put Links In News Stories?:

Be Specific

“Links should be to the specific piece of information being mentioned.

“This sort of deep-linking makes it easy for the user who will come to trust you as the most authoritative source of information on a topic.”

Provide Registration Info

“Bear in mind that if you had to register for a site in order to see the information, the user will have to do the same so provide instructions.”

Keep Consistent

“Decide a consistent style for the display of links commonly grouped together at the bottom of the story or elsewhere on the page.”

In Body Text?

“The advantage is that users easily identify with the context of the link because the word, or words, are highlighted and underlined.

“The disadvantage to this approach is that users unaccustomed to online may find it a halting experience to click onto a new window part way through an article.”

Visit Hartley’s blog for the full post on linking.

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14 August 2008

Midlands Papers Go Mobile

Two regional papers in the Midlands have launched sites for mobile phone users.

Both the Wolverhampton Express & Star and the Shropshire Star now boast their own m sites, where mobile users can access the latest news and sports headlines.

Each story is specially tailored to be viewed on a mobile device and also allows interactivity via a comments option.

The sites were created by the Midland News Association’s digital arm in collaboration with mobile internet technology firm Wapple.

Find out more at the Online Journalism Blog and Roy Greenslade’s Guardian blog.

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CNN Launches Back Story Slideshows

CNN is producing slideshows to show the key developments in major news stories covered by its journalists.

The interactive BackStory allows users to see a summary of events and click through for more in-depth information.

And the first news story to be presented as a BackStory feature is the FBI investigation into the series of Anthrax murders in 2001.

Writing on the CNN blog Behind the Scenes, a senior producer explained the idea behind the slideshows.

According to Rachel Clarke: “Now, when we want to give history, context and background to a developing story, we go back through our archives to find ‘milestone’ events and then link those together in an interactive window.”

She added: “Readers can click through events to get a quick recap of how the story has evolved and how it has been covered on CNN.

“And we link to full stories of the time to give more details of what we knew then as well as to pages on key players.”

Further details can be found at Behind the Scenes and Journalism.co.uk.

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13 August 2008

Readers Surveyed Online For GP Data

The Liverpool Daily Post is enlisting the help of readers to provide information for its current investigative piece.

Journalists at the newspaper are using a web-based questionnaire to gather data on users’ experiences of getting a GP appointment in the city and its surrounding areas.

The Post has used Survey Monkey to design its own online survey, which features questions on surgery opening hours, how easy it is to see a GP and the length of time readers have to wait for an appointment.

With a link on the homepage, the specially designed survey is easy for readers to find and includes a total of nine questions.

It also requires respondents to state their postcode so the data can then be used to compare and contrast GP services in different areas of Liverpool.

Survey Monkey enables its members to create online surveys using a variety of format templates and has both free and paid-for subscription options.

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Blogosphere Attracts Broadsheet Diarist

The political diarist for the Daily Telegraph is quitting the paper to join the “influential” world of politics blogs.

Jonathan Isaby is joining the ConservativeHome blog after five years as a blogger and columnist with the broadsheet.

Launched three years ago, the blog compiles all the national news stories about the Conservative Party and also features its own Tory-related breaking news stories.

Isaby told Press Gazette: “If something’s going on, you know it’s going to be on there.

“It’s looked at by anyone who’s anyone in the Tory party, from David Cameron downwards, and by all the political journalists, because they know it has its finger on the pulse.”

And Isaby explained his move from mainstream media blogger to the independent blogs scene: “I’ve seen the blogosphere taking shape and becoming more influential and powerful.

“I suppose, in a sense, it’s a natural development for me to go and do this.”


12 August 2008

Metro Launches Free E-Paper

Commuters can now get their free Metro online as well as on the train as it launches its new e-paper.

The e-Metro is powered by electronic publishing software from YUDU Media and enables users to turn pages with a click of the mouse, reports the Guardian.

Plus the digital edition has a range of interactive features including a note-making facility where readers can annotate the paper and a bookmarking option.

Users can also save the e-Metro to read it offline and can subscribe to receive each issue via email.

Metro’s operations director revealed that the new service is designed to appeal to a regular Metro reader who hasn’t been able to pick up a print edition on any given day.

Stuart Wood added: “e-Metro combines the strengths of digital publishing, the familiarity of our newspaper format and a simple delivery method to provide readers with a convenient new way of enjoying our quality content.”

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11 August 2008

Video Shows Journey Through Commuters’ Eyes

The Cambridge Evening News has used video to illustrate the daily experiences of rail commuters on their way to London.

Rather than just writing about the busy peak-time service, assistant editor Paul Holland decided to show the commute by taking the trip himself with a video camera, reports HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk.

Headlined “On The Fast Train To Hell”, the article includes Holland’s video footage of the journey and interviews with regular passengers.

While the accompanying text provides the facts and figures of the peak-time return services which are reportedly some of the busiest departing from King’s Cross station.

Holland said: “We really wanted to highlight the problem and thought it would be good to get out there rather than just talk to a commuter.”

And he added that the video has proved popular with users: “People have been in touch saying ‘That’s exactly how I feel every day’. I might do a follow-up again in September.”

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Sky Guy Goes Multimedia In Beijing

It’s not just presenting duties required from Sky News anchor Jeremy Thompson at the Olympics as the broadcaster aims for a feast of multimedia coverage.

According to the Independent, Sky News chief John Ryley is keen to “maximise the network’s presence on multiple platforms” during the summer games and the Live at Five presenter has his part to play.

Sky’s man in Beijing has his own blogging page on the channel’s website and is also sending updates to a dedicated Twitter feed.

Thompson said of the role to be played by the microblogging platform in reporting from China: “Everyone who is there will be able to text in lines, like, ‘Hey, I’ve just seen the Olympic stadium for the first time,’ or, ‘This pollution is so bad I can hardly breathe.’

“That’s something I can do in two minutes in between doing lives or interviews.”

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08 August 2008

Paper’s Petition Goes Online At No. 10

A local newspaper has won the right to display its petition on Downing Street’s e-petitions website.

Press Gazette reports that the East London Advertiser has mounted a campaign to prevent the sale of an East End history library and archives centre and is fighting in print and online.

And part of that web-based work now also includes the inclusion of its petition on the Number 10 website, directly appealing to the prime minister to help save the historic library.

Ted Jeory, advertising deputy editor at the Advertiser, said of the paper’s success in securing a place on the PM’s e-petitions: “I’m not sure there was any pressure from our side that made them crack, but it’s interesting they only took the decision after the PM went on holiday.”

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Local Paper Launches Daily Webcast

A regional newspaper has started a series of daily live webcasts in an attempt to provide “local video news for the Web”.

The Ledger Live webcast from New Jersey’s Star-Ledger went live last week and provides users with analysis of the day’s major stories, interviews and street voxpops.

According to Editor & Publisher, deputy managing editor John Hassell has made clear via his blog that the webcast is not an attempt to replicate local TV news.

“This is local video news for the Web. It’ll be conversational, interactive, and draw constantly from the community of users at NJ.com and bloggers, vloggers and podcasters across New Jersey.”

And Hassell has already put this plan into action by ensuring each webcast can be embedded by bloggers on their own pages and is also embedded on his own blog.

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07 August 2008

News Live Blogs Whale Rescue Attempt

The Portsmouth News is the latest regional newspaper to take advantage of live blogging software with its “Whale Watch” feature.

Journalists at the title used CoverItLive software to create a platform for delivering real-time news about an attempt to rescue a beached whale on Hayling Island.

HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk reports that the blog enabled reporters to provide minute-by-minute coverage of the rescue.

A replay of the blog shows it attracted a significant number of passionate comments from readers and also drew links to audio-visual reports of the event.

The News’s digital editor Matt Brown said he was surprised by the substantial interest in the story from online users.

“We knew it was going to be a big story when the nationals and Sky starting covering it but the amount of reaction and interest from people on the website has been amazing.

“We’ve had well over 1,000 unique users already on that page which is well up from what we’d expect.”

The News also produced photo galleries and video clips of the rescue effort.

[Disclosure: The Portsmouth News is a Johnston Press publication]

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Handy Hints For Newspaper Video

Blogger Andy Dickinson has looked at the online video offerings from the UK broadsheets and drawn up a list of his top tips for improvement.

So from his perusal of the Guardian, Times, Telegraph and FT websites, here’s some of the highlights from Dickinson’s recommendations.

* Embed Video With Articles

“This should be high on your list of things to get right. Getting mixed media on a page, when the story allows, is like adding nitrous to your news section.”

* Video Must Tie In With Text

“The problem is that without the article that content becomes just another talking head or blurry splodge.”

He adds: “So if you remove the video from the context it fails.”

* Pass On Pre-Rolls

“For me a pre-roll ad in embedded video is like those banner ads that break up an article page after the first couple of pars.”

* Take Time Over Poster Frames

“If you have an embedded video player on the page then it should display a meaningful poster frame (the image it shows until the user presses play).

“You should apply the same editorial consideration to selecting these images as you would a photograph.”

See the full article with its 11 top tips for newspaper video at andydickinson.net.

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06 August 2008

New Mobile Site At Telegraph

An updated version of the Telegraph’s mobile site is now available to users.

Journalism.co.uk reports that the relaunched service was developed by the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) using the Escenic content management system.

Chief information officer Paul Cheesbrough commented: “Building on the success of the recent redesign of Telegraph.co.uk, this latest development reflects TMG’s dedication to bringing up-to-the-minute content to the consumer, whenever and wherever they demand it.”

The Telegraph also offers a mobile alerts service including delivery of breaking news, football scores and cricket information.

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05 August 2008

Local Paper Offers Podcast Walking Tours

The Sheffield Star has recently started a new series of podcasts to act as an audio guide to the city.

Each podcast provides commentary on short walks taking in the industrial past of the Yorkshire metropolis.

The free podcasts are part of a joint project between the Star and the Furnace Trail, which produces books, audio and maps on Sheffield’s industrial heritage.

According to the Star: “Our audio lets you hear all about how the workers revolted, which ancient furnaces still remain and what lies behind the modern-day apartments as well as finding out what it was like to work in the industry in the words of those who actually did.”

[Disclosure: The Star is a Johnston Press publication.]

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Blogs Do The Job For Times Online

The Times has revealed that its group of online blogs forms the most successful part of its website in terms of user growth.

Press Gazette reports that the Times Online’s blogs section has outperformed the site as a whole with its giant increase in page views from last year.

Although blogs still only account for a small proportion of the site’s total traffic figures, they are quickly growing in popularity with readers.

In-house figures from the Times have shown that its blogs have seen their page views grow from 500,000 in 2007 to 2.5 million in May 2008.

Press Gazette notes that just three blogs account for more than half of these page views.

They are: Money Central, Comment Central and football feature The Game.

And if you want to see how these blogs are building their communities, check out The Game’s current Football Smug Shots which is incorporating user-generated content in a fun and effective way.

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04 August 2008

Trinity Regionals Go Mobile

A dozen regional newspaper websites owned by Trinity Mirror are to get accompanying mobile sites within the next few months.

HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk reports that titles including the Liverpool Echo, Teesside Evening Gazette and Western Mail are in the first group to receive branded mobile websites.

Trinity Mirror is collaborating with telecoms group Nokia and Bluestar Mobile on the new initiative.

Each site will enable users to access local news, information and advertising through their mobile phones, said Trinity Mirror spokesman Rick Gleave.

The head of interactive added: “Each of these brands will have a print title, a companion website and a mobile site, which is further proof that we are a growing multiplatform media business.”

A total of 12 regional news sites are part of the mobile rollout, they are: Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post, Coventry Telegraph, Daily Post, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Liverpool Daily Post, Liverpool Echo, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Newcastle Journal, South Wales Echo, Teesside Evening Gazette and the Western Mail.


Life As A Journalist Via Twitter

Twitter provides the audience with an insight into life as a journalist on the road, according to one political correspondent.

John Dickerson from Slate has outlined his thoughts on the microblogging platform and asserted that Twitter shows ordinary readers what it’s like to cover a major political campaign.

Writing in Nieman Reports, Dickerson also claimed that Twitter has become the “perfect place” for the assortment of scribbled notes and little observations that would never make a full write-up.

He said: “Sometimes these snippets are too off-topic or too inconsequential to work into a story.

“Sometimes they are the little notions or sideways thoughts that become the lede of a piece or the kicker.

“All of them now have found a home on Twitter.”

In his article Don’t Fear Twitter, Dickerson also pointed out that Twitter is a very effective tool for delivering breaking news and can help create a community of readers.

However, Slate’s chief political correspondent concluded his piece with a word of warning.

“Twitter is not the next great thing in journalism. No one should try to make Twitter do more than it can and no reader should expect too much from a 140-character entry.”

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01 August 2008

NYT Links With Social Networking Site

The New York Times has announced a partnership agreement with social networking website LinkedIn.

Articles from the Business and Technology sections will be sent to members of the professional networking website as part of the new deal.

These stories will be selected for delivery in accordance with the users’ unique attributes on their LinkedIn profiles.

And LinkedIn users will then be able to share and recommend articles through the social networking site.

In addition to the share and recommend capabilities, the New York Times stated that the move will also enable it to offer greater opportunities for targeted advertising.

“Advertisers are constantly looking for context, content, and quality brands and this approach delivers just that,” commented Denise Warren, chief advertising officer at the NYT Media Group.

Reactions to the agreement can be found at Read Write Web and the Alley Insider, while further details on the deal are on the LinkedIn blog.

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