31 December 2008

Most Searched For – 2008

Facebook was the most searched for term this year on Google in the UK.

The internet giant has unveiled its annual Zeitgeist charts showing the most popular and fastest rising search terms for 2008.

Heading up the UK for most popular searches is the social networking site Facebook, followed by the BBC, YouTube and eBay.

Also making the UK Top Ten are News, Hotmail, social networking service Bebo and Yahoo.

In addition, video-sharing site YouTube and Facebook feature in the UK’s chart of fastest rising searches.

The list is topped by iPlayer from the BBC and also includes iPhone, Large Hadron Collider and Wiki.

Google produces charts for countries as well as a global list, and this year’s fastest rising global search results have some familiar and not so familiar names.

At the top is Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the late actor Heath Ledger is at five, incoming president Barack Obama is sixth and Disney boyband Jonas Brothers make tenth place.

The global chart also has three social networking sites unfamiliar to most Brits – Tuenti, Nasza Klasa and Wer Kennt Wien – so Jemima Kiss produced these guides on The Digital Content blog.

Further details on the Google Zeitgeist results can be found on the BBC.


30 December 2008

BBC Shares Semantic Web Tests

The BBC is working on prototypes and an API for a semantic web project and has invited users to test them for themselves.

Muddy Boots is the name given to the prototypes, software solutions which have been created to identify the main agents – whether they be individuals or organisations – in any given BBC news story.

The two prototypes and the API developed by the BBC and its external partners can be seen on the Journalism Labs blog and users can input the URL of a BBC article to test their success rates.

And the guys at Journalism Labs are keen to hear any thoughts and suggestions from users about them.


29 December 2008

Podcasting For Beginners

If you want to begin the new year by producing your own podcasts, blogger Patrick Thornton has some tips on starting out.

Writing on the social network Wired Journalists, Thornton supplies some of the basics for anyone who’s new to the world of podcasting on areas including production and distribution.

He gives details on software such as audio editing tools like Audacity and the recording programme Audio Hijack Pro.

Thornton, who’s the author of the Journalism Iconoclast blog, also hands out some hardware tips for kit such as external microphones.

And keep an eye on Wired Journalists for the sequel to this post where Thornton will be offering tips on putting together an individual podcast.

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24 December 2008

Top Online Journalism Tools ‘08

Apple’s iPhone again tops the Online Journalism Review’s list of the best gifts for online reporters from 2008.

Topping this year’s chart is the new 3G version of the iPhone, a more affordable option in keeping with the list’s maximum price tag of $200 (£130) per item.

OJR writer Robert Niles explains his choice: “The iPhone comes closer than any other device to date to being the online journalism Holy Grail that many of us have envisioned.

“A single hand-held unit that surfs the entire Web, including audio and video, that allows you to update websites, to shoot photos and send them to the Web, to record and post audio, that supports e-mail and includes a phone, and that offers a GPS with maps and directions to help you find your way to wherever your reporting takes you.”

Niles’s list also includes the iPhone’s iTalk voice recorder, the Flip Ultra video camera (“for decent-quality video at a low price”), and the Voltaic converter backpack with solar panels to power hand-held devices.

And sneaking in among these digital tools is a more traditional gift for the online journalist – a subscription to The New Yorker.

View the full list on the OJR site and take a look at a round-up of last year’s chart here.

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23 December 2008

Teesside Signs Multimedia Ads Package

The Teesside Evening Gazette has completed a sponsorship deal for its multimedia content.

A number of local organisations, including Middlesbrough College, are paying to have their logos adorn a board which is used as a backdrop for video reports from football matches.

Paidcontent.co.uk reports that journalists from the Trinity Mirror publication use the portable board as a backdrop for their post-match analysis of Middlesbrough games and interviews with fans.

And according to Journalism.co.uk, this background will now also be used for other on-location sports video reports.

In addition, the multimedia package includes advertising space in the print issue and on some of the newspaper’s blogs.

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22 December 2008

Social Media – UK Landscape

Blogger Martin Belam has been looking into UK newspapers and how they’re using social bookmarking options.

Part One of his research focuses on ten regional news websites and the range of share options they provide and Part Two looks at an additional ten and features a cool results table.

He also compares the contextual help provided by newspapers in relation to the social media share buttons which appear at the end of articles and reveals some interesting findings.

The study forms part of a series investigating the online offerings of regional newspapers in the UK, with previous posts comparing RSS feed services and video content.

If you want to know more about UK news sites and social bookmarking, take a look at this post and slideshow which were featured on the JP Digital Digest blog earlier this month.

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Football Banter Platform Launched

Football writer Rick Waghorn has launched his new social media initiative - Backchat.

The founder of myfootballwriter.com unveiled the “rolling conversation feed” earlier this month on his website dedicated to Norwich City FC.

Funded by Channel 4’s digital innovation fund (4IP), Backchat is using microblogging platforms to host conversations among football fans and journalists.

Users are encouraged to post text messages to specific channels on Twitter and Jaiku and the conversation can then be followed via these two sites or via the automatically updated feed on myfootballwriter.

Writing on his blog, Waghorn says of the project: “It is this idea of media being these ‘camp-fire communities’; places of warmth and welcome; and decent chatter… with the journalist merely there to throw more logs onto the fire; to pass round the mulled wine and the mince pies as the conversation ebbs and flows around him or her.”

And since the feed’s opening day – during the derby fixture between Norwich City and Ipswich Town – Waghorn has reflected on the possible benefits of this conversation.

“Backchat is not just a ‘social media’ tool. It is very much an old media tool in terms of its ability to deliver/publish news instantly.

“Team news was the classic; in my hand some 45 minutes before kick-off; there you go, two ‘newsy’ type tweets slapped onto the site as others are still phoning teams over to the copy-takers…”

He concluded: “That’s Twitter/jaiku/backchat as a tool for the journalist, not the community; a breaking news device par excellence.”

Backchat is the first project to launch from the 4 Innovation for the Public fund, which aims to “deliver publicly valuable content and services on digital media platforms with significant impact and in sustainable ways.”

[HT - The Digital Content Blog.]

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19 December 2008

Telegraph In iPlayer Deal?

The BBC’s iPlayer could soon be embedded on the website of a national newspaper as part of a pilot project.

According to The Guardian, a deal has been struck with the Telegraph Media Group to share some of the corporation’s content on Telegraph.co.uk.

It would involve the video iPlayer (a catch-up service for the previous seven days of BBC television programming) as well as some BBC news content.

The BBC has confirmed a pilot scheme with a newspaper group is going ahead but has so far not named the partner.

It is anticipated that any such scheme – success depending – would then be rolled out across other newspaper websites.


NYT Links Out On Homepage

The New York Times has launched an alternative homepage which features links to headline stories on other websites.

Currently in beta, Times Extra uses the newspaper’s own news aggregator (BlogRunner) to provide visitors with links to coverage of lead articles on news websites and blogs elsewhere.

For example, a main story about Caroline Kennedy entering New York politics featured a range of links on the homepage to coverage of the same story on third-party sites including The Hill’s Pundits Blog, ABC News, the conservative blog Crunchy Con and the New York Daily News.

Visitors to the homepage can activate the aggregation feature by clicking the Times Extra button and can revert back to the traditional main page by clicking it again.

“The days when content sites were afraid to link to other sites are over,” commented Marc Frons, chief technology officer for digital operations with The New York Times Company.

In a press release, he added: “Times Extra is an important part of our strategy to become a destination for compelling journalism, not only by The New York Times, but by other content providers as well.

“We want to give our readers a comprehensive view of the news and opinion our editors think is important.”

[HT - Editor & Publisher.]

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18 December 2008

School Sports Video Vote

Users can cast their votes for some of the plays of the year in high school American football thanks to an online video feature from a local newspaper.

New York state’s Times Herald-Record has a whole site dedicated to schools sports – Varsity 845 – and its football section recently launched the Smashmouth Awards.

Journalists created ten categories – such as Elusive Quarterbacks and Crunch Time -and then allowed users to vote on their favourites from the video footage.

The winners of each section were then put forward for the main prize and could be viewed by voters in a video package embedded from YouTube.

A spokesman for Ottaway Newspapers, the group behind the title, told E&P’s Fitz and Jen blog that the competition generated some 30,000 page views in the first week alone.

Varsity 845 features reports and information on a plethora of school sports teams and enables users to search for content relevant to them via searches by sport or school.

The Record Online also has a similar channel dedicated to college sports called Varsity 845 U, which offers coverage of teams in the area and reports on local youngsters playing for colleges elsewhere in the US.

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Le Figaro Launches Net Show

French daily Le Figaro has started an online show all about happenings in the media world.

Le Buzz can be viewed by both PC and mobile users and is a partnership project between the newspaper and telecoms group Orange.

Each weekday Le Buzz will feature interviews with representatives from different media sectors talking about a range of issues affecting the industry.

According to the Editors Weblog, the show forms part of the newspaper’s strategy to increase its engagement with new media.

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17 December 2008

Pulitzer Permits Net-Only Entries

Online-only newspapers will be eligible for consideration as Pulitzer Prize winners for the first time next year.

Newspapers have been allowed to enter pieces with online elements to compete for one of the 14 journalism awards before but this will be the first time that fully digital publications will be allowed to submit entries.

However, an administrator for the prestigious awards told Editor & Publisher that entered material will have to come from online news providers which publish online at least weekly.

Sig Gissler added that prize hopefuls must ensure they “are primarily dedicated to original news reporting, are dedicated to coverage of ongoing stories and … adhere to the highest journalistic principles”.

Gissler also stated that the move reflects the intention for the Pulitzers to “keep up with the changing media landscape”.

Further details can be found on the Pulitzer website.

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Journalism Skills Study Published

The full results from a survey about the skills that journalists need in the 21st century have been released.

Carried out by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the Journalism Skills Survey asked both employers and course providers about the skills they see as most important for trainees.

The study also reveals the skills that companies believe their new recruits working in print, TV and radio are lacking at present.

Among the traditional reporter skills needing improvement according to employers are the ability to find stories, knowledge of media law and language skills.

Employers were also questioned on new skills and responded that incoming journalists need to improve their video skills, writing for different platforms and knowledge of how to use the Freedom of Information Act.

NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher writes in the report’s foreword: “What emerged strongly was that these were not areas for compromise.

“There was no question of old or new: employers were clear that they wanted both.”

The full study is available as a pdf file on the NCTJ website and more details can be found on holdthefrontpage.co.uk.

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16 December 2008

Archant Launches Mapped Directories

Regional publisher Archant recently rolled out its new geotagged directory service across its online titles.

Each Local Business Directory can be reached via the homepage and enables visitors to search for businesses by keywords and locations.

Results then appear in text on the left and on the right they are plotted across a map (using Google Maps API) which users can then click for further information.

The new service can be seen on Archant websites such as EDP24.com, Cambs24.com and IlfordRecorder.co.uk.

More information can also be found on journalism.co.uk.

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15 December 2008

HuffPo Launches Blogging Guide

The editors of The Huffington Post have published a book promising “everything you want to know about blogging, but didn’t know who to ask”.

With an introduction from the site’s co-founder Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging was released last week.

The book promises to help bloggers with the essentials – from advice on creating a community to developing your own particular style of blogging.

And the guide says it’ll meet the needs of both the blogging novice uncertain about new technology and the blogging veteran who wants to “break through the clutter of the Internet”.

In an interview ahead of the book’s release, Huffington told Reuters that the worlds of the mainstream media and the independent political blogger are overlapping more and more.

“The convergence is going to keep growing, as we saw in this election period, two years and four years from now, I’m sure," she said.

Visit MSNBC.com for more details.

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12 December 2008

UK Newspapers & Social Bookmarking

I’ve been doing some research into UK newspapers and social media share options recently and thought I’d share the results here.

Below is a round-up of the main findings followed by a slideshow of the results with graphs and pie charts.

(Further details on the phenomenon of social bookmarking can be found in previous posts – follow the links on the right.)

Main Findings:

Share options on national and regional news sites in the UK are dominated by five social bookmarking sites - Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Facebook and StumbleUpon.

These five account for 80.6% of the total number of share buttons made available by articles on regional news websites and 63.5% on national newspaper websites.

Data collected from 34 websites shows that 94.1% of them include Digg and Delicious among their bookmarking icons, 85.3% feature Reddit, 82.4% have Facebook and 70.6% include StumbleUpon.

Also featuring in the top ten most common share options are NewsVine (44.1%), Fark (29.4%), Yahoo! My Web (29.4%), Google Bookmarks (23.5%), and Technorati (20.6%).

National – Regional Differences

There are some pronounced differences between the share options displayed by national news sites and their regional counterparts.

Three national sites have the Add This widget (standard one offers links to 39 bookmarking sites) while no regional sites yet include it.

The inclusion of the Add This widget means nationals have a higher average of share buttons per site – 12.5 – in comparison to the average for the regionals of 5.4.

However, regionals have a higher mode with 5 share buttons per site in comparison to the nationals which have a mode of 4.

The type of bookmarks used also distinguishes the two groups, with links to sites such as Fark, NewsVine, MySpace and NowPublic proving much more popular among nationals than regionals.

While regional websites have a greater percentage of websites using the StumbleUpon (up 18.9% against nationals) and Facebook buttons (up 16.2% against the nationals).

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11 December 2008

Regional Press & RSS Feeds

The RSS offerings of the UK’s regional press are the focus of a study series from blogger Martin Belam.

Internet consultant Belam has compared the type and range of RSS feeds provided by the websites of 20 leading regional newspapers.

Part One examines syndication services from ten of these titles – including the Belfast Telegraph, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News – with a summary of what’s available.

In Part Two Belam looks at a further ten websites – including the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Birmingham Mail – and provides a table showing the number of feeds, the content displayed, and whether they include images or adverts.

Belam also considers the popularity of the feeds on offer by charting the current number of subscribers via Google Reader.

Check out the series on Belam’s currybetdotnet blog.

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BBC Launches Journalism Labs Blog

The BBC has unveiled a new blog to share and discuss its design developments in online journalism.

Journalism Labs is updated by staff from the Future Media & Technology team, which is concerned with non-editorial aspects of the corporation’s digital journalism output.

An introductory post explains the aims behind the new blog: “We would like to share with you what we’re doing today and discuss where things could be heading.

“We’re going to be focussing on new ideas, prototyping and experimentation. Hopefully, all this will be interesting and we’ll generate an ongoing, stimulating conversation.”

And this sharing has already begun with the first story post giving details on the results of the BBC’s recent experiment with linking in standard online news articles.

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10 December 2008

Guardian Selling Podcast Ads

The Guardian News & Media says it has become the first news organisation in the UK to sell advertising around its podcasts.

Press Gazette reports that the GNM is working with an American company to insert geo-targeted adverts at the point of download of audio recordings available on its website.

Head of audio Matt Wells revealed that The Guardian and Observer, which produce about ten hours of audio each week, recorded some 2.5 million podcast downloads throughout October.

“People are comfortable with the medium and we’ll be working with all the divisions in our commercial department to include audio as part of our multimedia offering,” said Helen Mayor, commercial development manager at GNM.

She added: “GNM has been researching usage, impressions and collecting information on audience to enable it to be much more prepared when we go into the market.”

[PictureAnnie Mole on Flickr.]

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Facebook & Google Open Connections

Google and social networking site Facebook have unveiled their respective Open ID social projects this month.

First up is Facebook Connect, which enables members to visit participating websites using their Facebook identification.

Users can then broadcast their activities on these external sites to their friends via Facebook feeds.

Among the websites taking part in the project are social news site Digg, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Discovery Channel.

“Facebook Connect is representative of some surprising new thinking in Silicon Valley,” according to the New York Times.

“Instead of trying to hoard information about their users, the Internet giants have all announced plans to share at least some of that data so people do not have to enter the same identifying information again and again on different sites,” continues the NYT.

And then there’s Google Friend Connect, a project currently in beta which allows webmasters to integrate various social features into their sites through pasting in bits of code supplied by the internet giant.

Google says the service enables visitors to sign in using Google, Yahoo or OpenID accounts and lets them invite friends from their social networks to visit the sites.

More on both projects can be found at Guardian.co.uk.

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“News Ecosystem” Of Modern Consumer

Methods of news consumption in the 21st century resemble a “news ecosystem”, according to research commissioned by the BBC.

BBC News website editor Steve Herrmann revealed the study found that people in the UK have developed “increasingly eclectic and multiplatform” habits when it comes to getting their news.

Writing on The Editors blog, Herrmann said the report also noted that these varying methods of news consumption could be deployed in a single day.

The study, which aimed to explore the habits and attitudes of users regarding mobile phone news services, gleaned information from news diaries and information charts compiled by volunteers.

In relation to mobile news, researchers discovered that people tended to use them to access headlines, big stories and special interest issues.

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09 December 2008

Bild Recruits Snap-Happy Army

A German newspaper is offering cut-price cameras in an attempt to build a network of ‘citizen journalists’.

The tabloid Bild has partnered with supermarket Lidl to sell pocket-sized cameras to the more active elements of its home audience and participants in its reader-reporter initiative.

With a 2GB memory and USB port, the camera can be used to shoot both still photos and short video films.

According to a spokesman, the company hopes that people will use the £60 cameras to produce visual content for the Bild website and provide shots of events that the newspaper’s journalists can’t cover.

“We think it is an advance for journalism,” said Michael Paustian, a managing editor at Bild.

He added: “We’re not YouTube ... every contribution will be viewed, reviewed and journalistically evaluated.”

The media group has not yet revealed whether users will be rewarded for these contributions with cash or prizes.

Read the full story from the Associated Press here.

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SEO & Journalism: A Defence

A defence of using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in journalism has been published by Telegraph.co.uk’s communities editor.

Writing in the British Journalism Review, Shane Richmond asserts that tailoring headlines and intros to suit search engine algorithms is a viable way for reporters to attract more readers to their content.

And he rejects suggestions (recently highlighted in an article from Guardian writer Charlie Brooker) that using SEO strategies inevitably leads to irrelevant headlines, tons of stories on the most popular search terms, and “conning readers”.

“There’s always been a certain formula to journalism: focusing on the five Ws – who? what? why? when? and where? – that underpin any good story,” writes Richmond.

“SEO rules are as important as any of these and in fact they bolster the first two.

“SEO is value-neutral. It doesn’t require you to dumb down, to fill your stories with the names of celebrities or to write 500 articles about Viagra every month.”

Richmond also points out that SEO techniques are an important tool to draw the audience which comes to articles via news filters, social bookmarking sites and recommendation sites such as Digg.

And he illustrates the changes that implementing an SEO strategy would bring to headline writing by using The Sun’s infamous “Gotcha!” splash during the Falklands conflict.

Visit BJR.org for the full article.

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Mail Adds Comment Ratings

Online readers of the Daily Mail can now give the thumbs up or thumbs down to comments posted by users.

The Mail Online has introduced a new rating application to its user-generated comments sections underneath articles showing the number of users who agree or disagree with the submission.

Blogger Martin Belam describes the new feature as a “slick move from their web team” and points out that the Mail is “alone now in allowing users to positively or negatively rate the opinions of their peers on news articles”.

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08 December 2008

Mon Figaro Launched

Personalisation is the buzz word at French daily Le Figaro after it has launched a new site powered by Netvibes.

Mon Figaro is a networking site with a choice of widgets which users can chop and change as they like.

According to The Editors Weblog, the site offers a range of additional services to members including a full history of comments they submit to the news website.

Netvibes enables users to create their own personalised homepages from content that’s relevant to them – such as websites, blogs, email services and social networking accounts.

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Independent Invites Blogging Readers

The Independent has launched a blogging platform where readers can post their thoughts on the news and other topics.

Independent Minds is hosted by LiveJournal and is an online space for the audience and for the newspaper’s journalists to create their own blogs, reports e-consultancy.com.

According to the site: “Independent Minds brings The Independent’s journalists together with its readers.”

It continues: “Post your thoughts, keep a blog, and air your opinions among likeminded users.”

Graham Charlton has carried out a quick review of the new hybrid blogging platform for e-consultancy and he lists plenty of positives and a couple of things that need improving.

Among the plus points are the website’s user-friendly features and the fact that it’s well promoted across The Independent’s homepage.

However, he also notes that Independent Minds could make it easier for visitors to browse the actual blogs and to search for points of interest.

Charlton concludes: “Having lagged behind other newspaper websites in adapting to the internet and Web 2.0 features like blogging, The Independent seems to be catching up online.”

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NCE Includes Video Exam For Snappers

The industry’s main exam for established press photographers now includes a video component, reports Press Gazette.

Photographers taking the NCE assessment will have to produce a video package to required standards.

Five local news cameraman have already sat the video exam, which asked participants to create a short film (3 to 5 minutes) featuring at least one interview on a given topic.

According to the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), producing good video is now a necessary skill for press photographers.

“The board believes it is vital for press photographers and photojournalists to be able to shoot video in a creative way for the web,” said Steve Phillips, chief examiner for photography with the NCTJ.

“Videos must be much more than talking heads to compete with the rest of the media and photographers who already have high visual skills are ideally placed to produce high quality footage for their publications.”

[Photo from brianz photostream on Flickr.]

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05 December 2008

Social Media: Key Player In News Future?

The role that social media can play in the development of online news is discussed in a new American Journalism Review article.

Author Arielle Emmett writes that news providers are increasingly turning to sites such as Twitter and Digg to stake their claim to a place in the new media world and asks whether they may become the industry’s saviour in the future.

To find out more, she spoke to experts such as James Brady from washingtonpost.com, who highlighted the advantages to be gained from social media’s experimental stage.

“My attitude is for awhile you go with the flow and try as many new things as possible, and not get crazy on day one.

“Start playing in the sandbox and eventually find out if it’s working for you. It certainly can’t hurt.”

The online executive editor also pointed out that social bookmarking websites attract young people and a sense of a networked community.

“The one thing that gets lost in all the automation and search engine gaming algorithms is that people want to know what their friends think and what people respect.

“One way to get content in front of you is to have your friends recommend it; that’s a social filtering of news.”

The advantages from engaging with social bookmarking and recommendation sites are also mentioned by Kevin Dando, director of education and online communication at PBS in the US.

He said: “We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in traffic from sites like StumbleUpon ... in the last few months, StumbleUpon itself has been one of the top 10 traffic driving sites for PBS.org.”

As for whether money can be made out of social media, a spokesman for the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution remains positive.

Eli Wendkos said: “The challenge continues to be how to monetise these users’ activities successfully ... a model will emerge that does just that. The question is, when will it happen?”

Visit AJR.org for the full story.

Social Media A Priority For 2009

Many companies have said that social media are likely to form a major part of their customer engagement plans for 2009, a new report finds.

The study from E-consultancy and cScape shows that more than a third of businesses with such a strategy in place are looking at user-generated content and brand presence on social networking websites as areas for improvement.

According to the Online Customer Engagement Report, a similar proportion of organisations are considering investment in other areas of social media such as blogging and user feedback, reports Brand Republic.

“More companies are viewing tactics such as blogging, user reviews and on-site video in the context of a broader customer engagement strategy and pulling only those levers which are most appropriate for their business model and customers,” said Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy.

A full version of the report is available for download via e-consultancy.com.

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04 December 2008

NYT Scores Facebook Goals

An internal memo reveals that the New York Times has succeeded in its goal to attract over 100,000 Facebook fans during 2008.

Extracts from the missive feature on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog and they show how much value the newspaper is placing on its social networking strategy.

It was issued after the Times followed up Barack Obama’s election victory with a big push on Facebook.

This included encouraging members to submit suggestions about Obama’s first actions once taking office, creating gift icons celebrating his presidential victory and a front-page advert.

NYT president Scott Heekin-Canedy writes in the memo that as a result of the strategy: “We increased our number of fans more than three times in just 24 hours - from 49,000 to 164,000 - and in the process far exceeded our 2008 goal of 100,000 fans.”

He adds: “Possibly the greatest success of this campaign, however, is that our fans continue to rapidly grow…into a powerful, free word-of-mouth network that we will leverage for future marketing messages.”

Visit the Nieman Journalism Lab for more on this story.

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Online - "Community Is King"

New research reveals that young web users are not lone surfers but like to feel part of an online community.

Writing on Poynter Online, Maryn McKenna says a Californian study of teenagers and their use of digital media shows that “community is king” among the younger generation.

And it’s a point that she says should be noted by news providers and reporters with regards to their future consumers.

In addition, McKenna states that the three-year project funded by the MacArthur Foundation contains other conclusions that the news media would do well to consider.

They are the “remix culture” and the adage that “multimedia rules” when it comes to online content and destinations proving popular with young surfers.

Regarding this remix culture, she writes: “Teens respond to information and culture by appropriating, sampling and remixing it. They then look to their communities for reaction.”

The report - entitled “Kids’ Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures” - was produced by staff at the University of Southern California and the University of California in Berkeley after interviewing some 800 young people and parents.

Researchers also observed teenagers using sites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

The full report and an executive summary are available on the Digital Youth Research website.

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03 December 2008

Social Media Reporting From Mumbai

How important a role did social media websites play in the coverage of last week’s attacks in Mumbai?

This question is being debated by journalists, bloggers and academics so here’s a brief guide to some of the articles cropping up.

According to Variety, citizen journalists claim they provided quicker and more accurate reports as events unfolded [HT - Editors Weblog].

It may well have been faster but Varity states that “much of the information on Twitter was woefully inaccurate”.

The microblogging platform forms the main point of enquiry in an online article on CNN, which asserts that users were sending a total average of 80 tweets every five seconds.

CNN points out that some of these messages held practical information such as pleas to potential blood donors to go to hospitals where supplies were running low.

The US broadcaster also notes that Twitter users were “mobilised to help with transcribing a list of the dead and injured from hospitals, which were quickly posted online”.

However, CNN does echo Variety by stating that a significant number of tweets “amounted to unsubstantiated rumors and wild inaccuracies”.

Despite reports showing extensive use of social media sites such as Twitter, one US-based academic contends there was an unexpectedly low amount of user-generated content.

Gauruv Mishra from Georgetown University told Journalism.co.uk that he had anticipated the attacks would have drawn more coverage by users in terms of photos and videos.

However, he did point out the photos uploaded by one eyewitness to his Flickr photo stream as events took hold.

Vinukumar Ranganathan shared more then 100 photos of scenes in Mumbai via his Flickr account.

Finally, Amy Gahran produced a round-up of social media reporting from Mumbai as the attacks continued.

Writing on Poynter Online, Gahran highlighted coverage on a current events section of Wikipedia, multimedia reports on NowPublic, and updates and thoughts emerging from the Indian blogosphere.

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Data Lessons For Newsrooms

Tips for creating successful data projects have been published by a former interactivity editor with latimes.com.

Eric Ulken worked on a number of innovative data-based initiatives with the LA Times, including The Homicide Map, and he is now sharing the benefit of his experiences in an article for Online Journalism Review.

He writes: “In this post, I’ll try to squeeze some wisdom out of the lessons we learned in the process of assembling the Times’ Data Desk, a cross-functional team of journalists responsible for collecting, analysing and presenting data online and in print.”

And here are six of the suggestions from his “10 pieces of advice for those of you building or looking to build a data team in your newsroom”:

1 – Seek Enthusiasts

Ulken recommends that newsrooms “find the believers” when assembling a team to head up data projects.

“You’ll likely discover enthusiasts and experts in places you didn’t expect … we found eager partners on the paper’s graphics staff … we also found people on the tech side with a good news sense who intuitively understood what we were trying to do.”

2 – Learn New Tricks

Since few but the biggest newsrooms have the required funds these days to bring in technical experts, Ulken suggests it’s time to work with what you’ve got and “train and nurture your enthusiasts”.

3 – Reusable Only

“The goal of all this is to be able to roll out projects rapidly, so you need templates, code snippets, Flash components, widgets, etc., that you can get at, customise and turn around quickly.”

4 – Look Outside For Tech Solutions

According to Ulken, IT departments have a tendency to think “big-picture product roadmaps with lots of moving pieces”.

This might not be quite in line with hopes for a quick and customisable template, and he points out the various database tools used by the LA Times – such as Django and Caspio.

5 – Work With Breaking News

“Often it’s the quick-turnaround stuff that has the biggest immediate effect.”

As an example, Ulken highlights his website’s database of fatalities from a train crash earlier this year where journalists were inputting information shortly after receiving it.

6 – Share The Wealth

Since data projects can take up a lot of time and resources, Ulken says it’s important to try to reverse-publish any valuable parts or share them with broadcast counterparts within the newsroom.

Ulken recently left the LA Times to travel the world looking at different ways that news providers are using web platforms.

Follow his progress and read his findings on his blog – ulken.com.

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02 December 2008

Newspaper YouTube Activity Mapped

Blogger Andy Dickinson has produced a map showing the UK newspapers currently using YouTube.

Created using a combination of Google tools and Yahoo Pipes, the map displays the national and regional newspapers which have established channels on the video-sharing website.

It also contains links to the relevant YouTube pages and enables visitors to input their own newspaper and its corresponding channel.

The map was inspired by a similar creation from blogger Mark Luckie which displays the US newspapers using YouTube.

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Hyperlocal News Not In BBC’s Sights

A spokesman for the BBC has said it’s not interested in providing online news beyond the local level.

Speaking at an Ofcom conference, David Holdsworth said it has never been the corporation’s intention to enter the world of hyperlocal news where stories are covered at postcode level.

Press Gazette reports that the BBC’s acting director of English regions reaffirmed that the broadcaster’s future plans are restricted to local TV, radio and web news.

“There are three markets – there’s a regional market, a local market and there’s hyperlocal,” said Holdsworth.

“I think that [last area is] a market for weekly newspapers and postcoded websites that newspapers are developing.”

He concluded: “We, like quite a few web providers, are keen to use maps more effectively going forward in the way we present our information. There is no other intention beyond that.”

The BBC recently saw its online video proposals rejected by the BBC Trust.

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01 December 2008

Maidenhead Title Takes Web Award

The Maidenhead Advertiser has won the title of Website of the Year at the Newspaper Society’s Weekly Newspaper Awards.

Maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk received the gold award for its digital output at last week’s ceremony in Yorkshire.

The silver prize went to the Newbury Weekly News(a winner last year)and the bronze award was handed to the website of the Welwyn & Hatfield Times.

NS communications director Lynne Anderson said of the nominees for the annual awards: “This year saw an excellent selection of work submitted for the Weekly Newspaper Awards which drew high praise from the judging panel.”

She added: “The awards provide a fantastic opportunity for the innovation and creativity in the industry to be recognised and rewarded.

A full list of winners is available in pdf form on the NS website.


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