27 February 2009

Play Stocks & Shares On North-East Site

An online virtual trading game has been launched on a north-east business website run by two local newspapers.

Taking Stock offers visitors to nebusiness.co.uk the chance to play the stock market with imaginary shares, reports Press Gazette.

The virtual game uses data from the London Stock Exchange and includes all the region’s listed companies.

The site is run by Trinity Mirror titles The Journal (Newcastle) and the Evening Gazette (Teesside).


Twitter As A “Powerful Reporting Tool”

A screencast showing how journalists can get the most out of Twitter has been uploaded by a new media blogger.

BeatBlogging.org editor Patrick Thornton has produced the first part of a step-by-step video guide designed to show how Twitter can be used as a “powerful reporting tool”.

Thornton, who tweets as the Journalism Iconoclast, demonstrates some of the basics of setting up a Twitter account via the screencast and provides advice on creating profiles and getting started.

He also shows examples of two Twitter APIs – the desktop client TweetDeck and search.twitter.com, which enables journalists to monitor their beat in real-time.

Thornton adds that the search facility is particularly useful for reporters as they can set up subject-specific feeds which will then update continuously with tweets containing the requested terms.

Check out Beatblogging.org in the future for the next screencast in the series, which will look at how journalists can encourage Twitterers to follow their account.

Part of Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment.net project, BeatBlogging.org explores how reporters can use social media to enhance their work.

[HT - Journerdism.com]

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Ex-Editor Stars In Video Interviews

A former editor of the Mansfield Chad is sharing stories from his 45-year career at the newspaper via video interviews.

The eight-part series features interviews with Jeremy Plews, who joined the Chad 45 years ago as a trainee reporter and went on to become its editor for 36 years.

Each Wednesday the Chad makes the latest video available to readers who want to gain an insight into the stories behind the headlines on a local newspaper.

According to the Chad, the interview series with Plews is designed “to celebrate his superb service to the Mansfield and Ashfield community”.

The interviewer is the newspaper’s chief photographer, who worked with Plews for more than 30 years.

[HT – HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk]

[Disclosure – The Mansfield Chad is a Johnston Press publication]


26 February 2009

BBC Linking To Local News Sites

Links to external news media sites are to become a more common presence on the BBC website.

According to Journalism.co.uk, the corporation has stated that it will include more links to local newspaper websites from its own local news channels in order to become a guide to content elsewhere.

In addition, the BBC is currently experimenting with in-video linking to video content on other websites.

A statement from the broadcaster also revealed that it is looking into establishing training partnerships with local news providers.

In November 2008 the BBC Trust rejected proposals for a network of local news websites with video content.

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Students To Create Hyperlocal Content

Content for the community news sections of a regional news website is to be provided by students as part of a collaboration project.

The Teesside Evening Gazette has teamed up with the Stockton Schools consortia to create a new diploma which will see pupils producing material for the hyperlocal areas of the website – Gazette Communities.

Journalism.co.uk reports that students taking the new Creative & Media Diploma will also need to work with social media platforms as well as the newspaper website.

“We’ve been very keen to target younger age groups and get them involved and interacting on our websites,” said Lindsay Bruce, project leader and senior desk editor at the Gazette.

She added: “We’ve already recruited a number of youth bloggers and this builds on that success.”

Further details can be found on Journalism.co.uk and Press Gazette.

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Newspapers - Care For Your Community

The media must recruit from within their own communities if they want to keep their local audiences.

That’s the view of Online Journalism Review writer Robert Niles, who takes the opportunity in his latest post to advocate hiring reporters from the communities they will be writing about.

Niles states: “Journalism is not the business of reporting, writing and publishing newspapers ... or websites. It’s the business of community building.”

Therefore he believes that journalists ideally need to be recruited from within that community – whether it is defined by geography, interest or profession.

He asserts that this is where there has been a break within the media as “in a drive to professionalise the journalism industry (and, then, to cut costs), we’ve cut our publications off from the communities they are supposed to represent”.

Niles takes geographic communities as an example and notes that it has become established practice among newspapers to hire journalism graduates straight out of university who have top grades but little or no knowledge of the neighbourhood they’ll be covering.

“The result often is shallow, indifferent coverage that gives readers fewer compelling reasons to pick up their local paper each day.”

He concludes: “We’re not in the publishing business. We’re in the community business. And to do so successfully, we must build our businesses from within our own communities.”

The full post – “Journalism is the business of building communities - so newsrooms must hire from within those communities” – is available on Online Journalism Review.

[Picture - Community by Niall Kennedy on Flickr.]

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25 February 2009

Trinity Live Blogs Newsroom Merge

Web users are getting the inside track on a newsroom merger as journalists and editors live blog their experiences.

Trinity Mirror’s Merseyside titles are implementing a new merged editorial structure and have decided to keep their audiences updated on events via a live blog.

Newspapers including the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo are taking part in the live blog, which includes links to stories as they are uploaded as well as pictures of the new editorial hub.

Journalism.co.uk reports that newsroom meetings and editorial conferences will be streamed to the live blog all this week while reporters will also be sending updates via Twitter accounts.

Accompanying the live blog on the Daily Post website is a summary of its purpose:

“It’s going to be an exciting and eventful few days as we settle into our new routines and we wanted to share this with our readers, give you the chance to ask questions, find out how we make decisions on our stories and open up the newsroom to you through this live blog.”

The two Liverpool newspapers are no strangers to the live blog and have produced a series of them using CoveritLive software for events including a murder trial and the tall ships race.

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Study Suggests Future News Models

The future of the press and television in the digital age is the subject of an in-depth study from the University of Oxford.

What’s happening to our news” paints a picture of the current trends in the news media as a result of the digital revolution – such as the impact of search engines and search engine optimization.

Author Dr Andrew Currah also predicts bad news ahead for the industry if newspapers continue along this route, chasing “clickstream” audiences online and reducing expenditure on original news-gathering.

To this end, Currah concludes his extensive study by proffering some possible solutions to ensure a positive future for newspapers.

He suggests that the government could introduce “targeted tax breaks for public interest news publishing” to ensure the funds are there to support investigative journalism.

In addition, the University of Oxford lecturer recommends the government should also look to widen the scope for charitable organisations to fund news providers which concentrate on original news-gathering and reporting.

Currah also contends that some form of voluntary kitemark could help restore public trust in media products.

The detailed report, produced by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, is available online as a pdf file .

An edited extract of the report from Dr Currah can be found at guardian.co.uk and an email interview with the author on the issue of kitemarks can be seen on the Online Journalism Blog.

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24 February 2009

Journalist On Twitchhiking Mission

A freelance writer is attempting to hitchhike his way abroad using only offers of help from Twitterers.

Journalist Paul Smith embarks on his 30-day tweeting odyssey on March 1st in a bid to raise money for Charity: Water.

According to Journalism.co.uk, Smith will be keeping followers updated on his progress via text and video updates to his website.

The self-styled Twitchhiker has five rules which he must follow as he relies solely on the help and hospitality of followers to his Twitter feed.

Smith says that Twitter has become an “invaluable” tool in his work as a freelance journalist and asserts that the microblogging platform is “an incredible source for leads, inspiration and testing out ideas”.

He adds: “Anybody who doesn’t understand how that can be, simply hasn’t reached the tipping point of it becoming useful to them yet.”

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Sourcing News Via Social Media

A guide to news-gathering using social media tools has been published by blogger and academic Paul Bradshaw.

Forming part of Bradshaw’s undergraduate journalism lecture series, the presentation also acts as a useful introduction to RSS and other social media applications for professional reporters.

Visit the Online Journalism Blog for more of Bradshaw’s digital journalism lectures in the future.

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23 February 2009

Baby-Faced Dad Tale Breaks Web Records

A story about a 13-year-old father has become the most visited article in The Sun’s online history.

Press Gazette reports that the newspaper’s story about baby-faced Alfie Patten drew a record-breaking total of 8.8 million unique users during the “phenomenal” week, The Sun claims.

The tabloid states that almost 4 million unique users visited the website on the day the story was posted – another record for TheSun.co.uk.

An exclusive video piece accompanying the story also became the most viewed video ever posted on the site after it recorded over 1 million unique views.

“Video is integral to our news operation, with journalists equipped to capture stories as they unfold,” said Pete Picton, online editor at The Sun.

He added: “Worldwide TV stations clambered for the video footage, while rival media followed the story using our front page.”

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NYT Blog Encouraging Feedback

The New York Times hopes to attract feedback on innovative technology projects via one of its blogs.

Editor & Publisher reports that the Times has launched a new category within The First Look blog which will be dedicated to posts about the newspaper’s ongoing tech initiatives before they are released.

The idea is that the Times will garner some useful feedback from users via the blog’s comment section before the projects go live.

“This is part of our ongoing strategy to transform NYTimes.com into a more vibrant and interactive news and information platform,” said Marc Frons, chief technology officer for digital operations at the New York Times Company.

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20 February 2009

HuffPost Crowdsources Senate Bill

In excess of 350 readers have helped the Huffington Post to plough through two versions of a bill designed to encourage economic recovery.

Due to the amount of material – a combined total of nearly 1,400 pages – HuffPost’s congressional correspondent decided to crowdsource the task of looking for noteworthy differences.

The volunteers were sent emails with instructions and a portion of the bill/s to look through, resulting in hundreds of tips sent to correspondent Ryan Grim via return emails and comments on the website.

Speaking to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), Grim said the HuffPost’s readership enables the execution of such strategies.

“We have readers who are highly intelligent, a lot of them are highly accomplished,” he stated.

Grim added that this form of crowdsourcing is in fact nothing new: “People have always called into newspapers or network news shows with tips - and that’s all this is.”

Visit CJR for the full article.

[HT – Editors Weblog]

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Guide For Multimedia Journalists

The first part in a guide to becoming a multimedia journalist has been published by academic Mindy McAdams.

Writing on her Teaching Online Journalism blog, McAdams notes that the guide is likely to comprise about 15 parts and is aimed at “journalists who are ready to learn how to transform themselves into multimedia journalists”.

In part one, McAdams looks at blogs and RSS and suggests that would-be multimedia reporters read a selection of blogs rather than just those concentrating on journalism.

Her recommendations include Mashable and ReadWriteWeb, to help journalists become more aware of broader changes in the digital media industry.

McAdams also strongly recommends setting up an RSS feed as an alternative to internet browser bookmarks.

She writes: “It’s like your customised Page One, ready for you on any computer with Internet access, at home or at work, and even on your phone.

“It’s better than an aggregate of all the wire services - because YOU set it up to bring you what YOU want.”

Visit Teaching Online Journalism for the full post and a video introduction to Google Reader.

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19 February 2009

How To: Plan Online Projects

A step-by-step guide to creating online journalism projects has been published by academic and blogger Ryan Thornburg.

On The Future of News blog, Thornburg has posted a six-point guide to producing an online news feature which takes journalists from the initial brainstorming stages through to execution and realisation of the project.

Here are his six stages:

*A product concept

In its simplest form, Thornburg believes this means starting “with a good question”.

But getting to this good question takes in finding out who your audience is and what they want to know.

*A storyboard

Thornburg writes that the storyboard’s “real power lies in its ability to get you thinking about non-linear storytelling - stories through which each consumer can choose his or her own path”.

He adds that when storyboarding “you’ll also want to note the medium you’ll use to tell that part of the story.”

*Asset management

Comprises several elements including file-naming conventions, version control and stylesheets.

*A clear workflow

Using a dedicated software package or Excel / Google spreadsheets, this helps organise who’s doing what tasks etc.

*A financial budget

“Even if you don’t have to worry about the financial costs of building something, it’s important to keep a constant eye on the opportunity costs.”

*A testing and quality assurance procedure

Visit Thornburg’s The Future of News blog for the full post, which contains links to some useful planning resources.

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South-West Awards To Launch

Submissions are shortly to be accepted for this year’s EDF Energy South West Media Awards.

The prizes, held in association with HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk, include the title of Website of the Year.

And news providers in areas such as Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Bristol will be encouraged from next week to send in their nominations for the award.

“The South West was the first region in which we staged our media awards and there has been terrific interest from all the major titles and stations in the area,” said Claire Byrd, head of regional media relations at EDF Energy.

She added: “The number of entries has grown year on year and the high standard of journalism in the region should make for a great competition again this time.”

Further details and a full list of awards available can be seen on HoldTheFrontPage.co.uk.


18 February 2009

News Group Sells Hourly Ads

A Midlands newspaper group has started selling online advertising space by the hour as part of a new initiative.

The two papers participating in the project are the Shropshire Star and the Express & Star, which are working with Scandinavian group Adicate to sell the ad slots for £2 per hour.

Adicate provides a user-based platform enabling advertisers to select their own time slots via an online booking system.

William Beavis, new media marketing manager at the Midland News Association, told Press Gazette that this new structure enables companies to target their ads.

He said: “Imagine you own a restaurant, and you know that Tuesday lunchtimes and Thursday evenings are often your quietest times of the week.

“By booking an ad on expressandstar.com to appear between 10am and 12pm on Tuesdays and 4pm and 6pm on Thursdays, you can now reach an audience with a special offer at a time when they are beginning to think about what they will be having for lunch or dinner that same day.”

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

[Photo - Clocks 2 by Leo Reynolds on Flickr.]

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17 February 2009

Guide To Selling Ads Online

The business end of online advertising deals is the subject for the third part of a feature on selling ads on news websites.

Entitled “The ethical journalist’s guide to selling ads on a website”, the series from the Online Journalism Review looks at all aspects of online advertising in the digital era.

Part Three offers advice on the kind of sales material news groups should promote on their sites and externally.

Writer Robert Niles provides a list of the kind of stats advertising sales teams should have, they include:

- Percentage of unique users in the newspaper’s geographic area.

- Median household income and age of readers.

- Percentage of users “who have taken action after seeing an ad on a website”.

Visit Online Journalism Review for the full post.

[HT - Poynter Online.]


How To: Improve Google News Rankings

Top tips for getting the most out of Google News crawlers could help newspapers improve their articles’ rankings.

Coming straight from the horse’s mouth, the recommendations feature in a Google News blog post in answer to some of the most frequently asked questions from publishers.

And here are some of Google’s top tips:

*Make Publication Dates Known

According to Google, newspapers need to place the date and time of the news story in the HTML in order to enable the crawlers to access the information.

*Tag Titles Correctly

“In order for Google News to crawl the correct titles for your articles, make sure the title you want appears in both the title tag and as the headline on the article page.”

Plus, Google suggests it’s good practice to use the article’s title as the anchor text in any links to it.

*Follow Photo Formatting Rules

Images that are crawler-friendly are JPEG images of reasonable size, close to the actual article and with good descriptive captions accompanying them.

*Keep Press Releases Separate

Because Google News treats press releases differently from original articles, Google recommends keeping them in a section distinct from other content.

Visit the Google News Blog for the full post.

[HT – Poynter Online]

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16 February 2009

“Survival Strategies” For The Press

Ideas on the newspaper of the future are offered up by a plethora of industry experts in a debate blog.

Last week saw the issue of alternative newspaper business models come to the fore and now the agenda-setting New York Times has got in on the act with its blog post entitled Battle Plans For Newspapers.

Among the contributors giving their opinions on “survival strategies” for newspapers are the founder of craigslist, Craig Newmark, and new media writer Andrew Keen.

Online and print editors as well as journalism academics also weigh in with their thoughts on how the press can make money in the digital era.

Ideas range from charging for content to soliciting donations from readers and joining forces with local non-profit media organisations.

Participants also suggest the actual function of local newspapers needs to be addressed and some advise journalists to work closely with readers so they become more like partners in the news production process.

Visit the Times’s Room For Debate blog to view all the ideas and the ongoing discussion taking place in its comments section.

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13 February 2009

Herald Opens Social Media Platform

The Plymouth Herald has installed a new channel to its site enabling users to upload and share their own content.

Creating using the KickApps social media platform, iHerald allows its members to submit photographs and videos as well as create their own blogs and comment threads.

And the channel has already resulted in leads for stories for the print version of the newspaper, reports Press Gazette.

Web editor Neil Shaw said: “The site goes to the heart of our online strategy, not lazily duplicating our print product online, but interacting with our users so thisisplymouth and The Herald combine user-generated content with live input from our audience.”

He adds: “It is a constant dialogue differentiated from and contributing to our print offering.”

Shaw also commented that the platform has attracted significant interest among readers and the recent snowstorms resulted in an impressive array of user-generated content.

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12 February 2009

Voluntary Pay Model: A Defence

Could an all-in voluntary payment system be the online news business model in the future?

According to new media pioneer Steve Outing, it may just represent the alternative solution digital publishers are seeking.

Writing in his Editor & Publisher column, Outing mounts an attack on ideas about micropayment systems and instead suggests that a voluntary charging model is more suited to the Web.

He quotes recent musings on the feasibility of a micropayment model – such as this from Walter Isaacson – and asserts that it is “completely counter to the nature of the Internet” and “will hasten newspapers’ death spiral”.

Outing believes that rather being charged a small amount for viewing a particular article, users must be allowed to choose to make a voluntary contribution to see content.

“I’m betting this one will be a tough pill to swallow for many industry executives with traditional media mindsets, but it’s critical because it fits the culture, indeed the nature, of the Internet.

“Traditional micropayment schemes for online news content – ‘pay up or go elsewhere’ fight it, and thus are doomed to fail, in my view.”

And he points to a new patented model from a company called Kachingle as a possible alternative.

Kachingle asks users to pay a monthly fee as an all-in charge for viewing various news websites and blogs.

Participating sites have a Kachingle badge which users will click and thus ensure the websites receive a proportional share of monthly donations.

Outing writes: “Online publishers, including newspaper websites, are more likely to convince people to pay a monthly ‘Internet content fee’ if everyone is in it together and there’s one ubiquitous badge on every content site that an individual visits.

“The publishers who make the most money will be those that produce the best content, and thus get the most people to support them via the Kachingle system.”

Read the full article – “Forget Micropayments – Here’s a Far Better Idea for Monetizing Content” on Editor & Publisher.


Top Twitter Tips

A blogger has produced a handy guide to help people find their way around the microblogging platform of the moment – Twitter.

James Dickey says his Ten Commandments of Twitter are designed to help users get the most out of the social networking tool.

And here are a few of his tips:

* Set Your Twitter Target

This is the key issue according to Dickey since “everything else you do - or don’t do - in the rest of the commandments depends on this”.

He notes: “The handle, picture, bio, who you follow and how you follow back, might all be different if you wanted to promote your ad agency vs. raising awareness for the plight of the almost-extinct blue-tailed pigeon fish.”

* Select Your Twitter Options

Your needs may be served by selected options rather than default settings so Dickey recommends considering your choices.

Options can include sending and receiving tweets via a mobile phone and getting email notifications of updates.

And Dickey warns against stopping non-followers reading your posts: “It’s the Twitter equivalent of walking into a room and asking everyone else who’s already there to put on earplugs while you talk to the three people you like the most.”

Instead, he advises you should “assume everyone else is just another nice person like yourself looking for a new outlet to reach whatever goal they selected”.

* Link To Your Website

Every Twitter profile enables the user to place a link to their website, blog etc and Dickey urges Twitterers to make use of it as a potential traffic driver.

* Connect Twitter To Other Social Media

Dickey uses the example of Facebook, where users can install an application which automatically takes new message tweets and runs them as status updates.

* Find Some Followers

To establish a presence on Twitter and attract followers, Dickey recommends following very popular users and writing replies to their tweets to encourage them to follow you back.

* Write Something!

“It’s only 140 characters. It doesn’t need an outline, multiple drafts, or an editor (hopefully).

“Look at what your purpose was and talk about it. Since it’s only 140 characters, no one expects the next great novel.”

Visit Dickey’s social media & marketing blog for the full list.

[HT – PDA blog]

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11 February 2009

How To – One-Man Band Journalism

A digital correspondent in San Diego has been sharing his tips for being an effective one-man band (OMB) journalist.

Joe Little works for KGTV 10 News and is responsible for shooting, presenting and editing his video packages.

A YouTube video showing samples of his work from last year – Joe Little 2008 - has caused a bit of a stir on the Web and prompted Little to share some of the secrets of his solo efforts.

Speaking to Poynter Online, the multimedia journalist said one of the most important tools of his trade is the reversible screen on his camera.

“I can flip the viewfinder over, stand in front of the camera and see where I am framed up in a shot. Without that, I add at least 15 minutes to a shoot.”

He added: “The tricks I use are the same ones a good two-man crew would use. I have to do both of their jobs. I look for meaning, balance and creativity.”

And he assured fellow reporters that the solo stand-ups get easier with practice, allowing him to get the basics sorted and move on to experimenting with effects such as split-screening (see above video).

However, Little admitted that OMBs can’t do everything and certain stories are much harder to put together than others.

“Courtrooms are brutal because you have to stay with the camera. I can’t go grab the attorney or the family member who just ducked out because I’m stuck behind a wall with a judge begging for a reason to throw me out.”

Confrontational interviews can be tough too: “If you have a photographer, it’s easier to fire away questions and make sure you’re right where the action is.

“It looks sloppy if I’m messing with the camera, looking through the viewfinder and still trying to focus on ‘this guy.’”

See Poynter Online for the full interview and Little’s step-by-step guide to split-screening using Final Cut Pro.

Little also shared the tricks of his trade in the comments section of his 2008 showreel on YouTube.

And if you want to know more about the day-to-day issues affecting OMBs, university students have put together a film entitled “One day in the life of Joe Little”.

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Micropayments – Future Model For News?

Could an iTunes style payment system be the business model of the future for the newspapers of today?

An argument in favour of micropayments was recently put forward by Walter Isaacson, who believes that charging for content will be benefit both journalists and readers.

Writing in TIME magazine, the Aspen Institute president weighs up the pros and cons of revenue models such as advertising, online subscription and web-only output.

He notes: “The key to attracting online revenue, I think, is to come up with an iTunes-easy method of micropayment.”

In Isaacson’s vision this would take the form of “a one-click system with a really simple interface that will permit impulse purchases of a newspaper, magazine, article, blog or video for a penny, nickel, dime or whatever the creator chooses to charge”.

And his defence for charging for content in a world of free online news? It’s pretty simple really:

“Those who believe that all content should be free should reflect on who will open bureaus in Baghdad or be able to fly off as freelancers to report in Rwanda under such a system.”

In addition, the former managing editor of TIME suggests that paid-for content would actually improve the journalism produced.

“Charging for content forces discipline on journalists: they must produce things that people actually value.”

He concludes: “The need to be valued by readers - serving them first and foremost rather than relying solely on advertising revenue - will allow the media once again to set their compass true to what journalism should always be about.”

See Time.com for the full article: “How to save your newspaper”.

[HT - Lost Remote]

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10 February 2009

Twitter Channel Launching Website

A breaking news service is adding to its Twitter feed with a website dedicated to the latest happenings.

Journalism.co.uk reports that Breaking News On will launch the site in the next two months and will include its Twitter alerts as part of the web offerings.

In addition, the website will act as a breaking news aggregator, automatically pulling together updates from a variety of wire services and agencies.

Founder Michael van Poppel asserted that Twitter alone is not a strong enough tool for a 24/7, fully staffed breaking news operation and said that tweets will now be used to provide links to story updates on the main site.

Poppel explained the ethos behind the proposed site: “Users should not expect a traditional news site with in-depth background information and every news item on what happened during the day.”

He added: “Our staff will be reporting on breaking news situations very early and we believe this is breaking news as it should be.

“Breaking news is potential major news with details still coming in – it’s not the evening news.”

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Papers Can Reconnect Via Social Media

Newspapers are being urged to go find their audiences in the social networks in order to reconnect with them.

Following the results of the latest social media studies from the Pew Research Center, the Nieman Journalism Lab is encouraging the print media to interact with its customers at the places where they choose to be.

Marketing consultant Martin Langeveld points at statistics showing that more than a third of adult internet users have some kind of social network profile to back up his assertion that journalists need to engage in this online world.

“The moral of the story is, if you’re in the news business, you need to be where your customers are and interact with them as they prefer to interact,” he writes.

He adds: “American publishers: build a social network, a community, around the news and you’ll reconnect with your audience.

“For now, it can be local; eventually, these networks will want to be interconnected.”

For more details on social media research visit the website for the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which features reports including “Adults and Social Network Websites”.

[HT – Editors Weblog]

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09 February 2009

Posting Ideas For New Bloggers

Stuck for blogging inspiration? Fear not as academic Paul Bradshaw has published his 12 ideas for blog posts.

The author of the Online Journalism Blog has produced a list suggesting a dozen of the staple posts for the uninitiated blogger.

Here are a few examples of his recommendations:

* Blogging An Event

Bradshaw suggests attending events such as conferences or meetings and then writing a blog post about it.

He adds that “ambitious bloggers” can also liveblog events as they happen using the various social media tools on offer.

*Create A List

“Lists are enormously popular on the web, frequently topping websites’ ‘most shared’ lists,” says Bradshaw.

He adds: “A good tip for your first post is to make a list of the top ten blogs in your subject area - a useful task for yourself while also making them aware of your existence.”

*Link To Something Interesting

According to Bradshaw, this can vary from responding to someone else’s post which you disagree with to including Useful Links to other things going on in the blogosphere.

*“Pick A Fight”

This can be an argument with a fellow blogger or a David and Goliath style fight between your blog and a major company.

Visit Bradshaw’s blog for the full post.

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Sky Considers Local News Online

Sky News is looking at opportunities to expand its online offerings to include the local news market, reports Press Gazette.

A spokesman for BSkyB revealed that the broadcaster is considering web-based local journalism if a workable business plan can be put together.

Group corporate affairs director Graham McWilliam was speaking to a parliamentary committee when he discussed the opportunities for local online news.

He said: “The localities that people want their news in are smaller than the transmission regions … It seems to me that’s much better suited to broadband and internet-delivered services.”

McWilliam added: “It’s an opportunity we will continue to look at ourselves, but I suspect we won’t do it on television, we will look to do it online if we can make a business plan that adds up.”

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06 February 2009

Phelps Photo Draws Record Traffic Boost

A photo of swimmer Michael Phelps inhaling from a ‘pot pipe’ produced a dramatic spike in traffic on the News of the World (NOTW) website.

The image, showing the multiple medal-winning athlete appearing to inhale from a glass pipe, attracted over a million visitors within 24 hours.

Associate editor Gary Thompson told Press Gazette that the story saw NOTW.co.uk record its “biggest-ever boost” in terms of web traffic.

Much of this traffic came from the US, helped by a link to the article being placed on The Drudge Report.

And Thompson believes the impressive traffic stats support the editorial decision to publish the exclusive online rather than wait for that week’s print issue.

He said: “We judge each story on its merits - and would normally break the biggest exclusives through the print edition.

“On this occasion, we had spoken to the Phelps camp and other third parties and we knew it might not stay exclusive for very long, so we put it up.”

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Newspaper Hires YouTube Finalist

A self-taught video-journalist has been taken on by the Washington Times as a direct result of his work for a YouTube competition.

Freelance writer Torrey Weekes entered the video-sharing site’s Project: Report competition, held in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center, and is now a multimedia journalist at the Times.

According to Journalism.co.uk, Weekes’s video report on life in Mexico brought him to the attention of both the contest’s judges and the managing editor of the Washington title.

Weekes said: “As someone who landed a job as a direct result of my work on YouTube, I’ve discovered first hand that it breaks down traditional routes to employment in a stunning way.”

He added: “I was really scraping it out as a freelance writer and didn’t have any credits to my name that would have landed me a job at a newspaper.”

Ultimately, he believes his experience shows that YouTube is a true meritocracy: “If you do good work people will pay attention to it, and the potential audience is staggering to contemplate.”

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NYT Joins EveryBlock On Micro Politics

New Yorkers can now check on the political activities of their local representatives via EveryBlock thanks to a new partnership deal.

The New York Times has joined with the micro-local news site to provide the service on its political news items page, reports Journalism.co.uk.

Visitors can view media coverage of their council, state, senate, and congress representatives and find out what they’ve been up to on behalf of the electorate.

Articles can be searched by borough, neighbourhood, zip code or by date of publication.

Founded by Adrian Holovaty, EveryBlock offers news feeds for each block in a number of cities across the US.

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05 February 2009

Obama Pledges Tested Online

Journalists at the St Petersburg Times are holding the new president to account with their all new topical Obameter.

Featured on The Times’s PolitiFact.com website, the Obameter will measure Barack Obama’s success in meeting some 500 of his pre-election promises.

To create the list of promises, reporters had to plough through transcripts from speeches, TV interviews and more during Obama’s campaign to find the things making up his future to-do list.

PolitiFact explains the process: “To make sure we selected promises that could be measured, we set some definitions.

“We said a promise ‘is not a position statement. It is a prospective statement of an action or outcome that is verifiable’.”

Journalists then track the progress of these promises putting them into categories: Promise Kept, Promise Broken, Compromise, Stalled, In The Works and No Action.

The site’s editor Bill Adair told Editor & Publisher: “Although we rely on the new technology of the Web to publish our work, our mission remains a simple and traditional one: to empower democracy.”

PolitiFact.com was set up by the St Petersburg Times to fact check the statements of politicians via its Truth-o-Meter checks.

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Twitter Newspaper Launched

An online newspaper dedicated to the week’s hottest issue on Twitter has been launched by a Scottish journalist.

James McIvor is the man behind “the all tweet journal”, which takes the form of a single-page downloadable pdf, reports All Media Scotland.

The former Scottish Sun chief sub-editor revealed that he initially used the microblogging platform for promoting his own business but soon found it an effective way to network.

“I was of the view that it would be good to bring out an online twitter newspaper where people can message me their news and we publish the best,” he said.

“The newspaper will feature one advert/promotion and one lead story with a picture element,” added McIvor.

“We hope that advertisers will soon see the merit of promoting their product on 'the all tweet journal'.”

[HT - Editors Weblog]

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04 February 2009

Blanket Snow Coverage = Traffic Records

Online coverage of this week’s dramatic snowfalls has attracted record audiences for some websites.

Press Gazette reports that Times Online recorded some two million unique users on Monday, according to its assistant editor Tom Whitwell.

The newspaper offered extensive reports on disruptions to traffic and travel on its website and also featured several photo slideshows displaying the light side of the snow.

It was photos and other content from users that made Monday a record-breaking day for the BBC, which received probably its biggest ever response to a news story.

Newsroom chief Peter Horrocks revealed that more than 35,000 people submitted pictures and videos of snow-frolicking during the course of Monday.

Writing on The Editors blog, Horrocks stated that the BBC website saw its fair share of visitors too with 5.1 million unique users just from the UK.

BBC.co.uk offered a host of multimedia offerings in the wake of the heavy snow, including this video capturing a cameraman’s drive to work.

Regional news sites also offered plenty of coverage of the white stuff, for example the Croydon Guardian featured a gallery of user-generated content.

Plymouth’s Western Morning News created a slideshow from wintry photographs and thisiscornwall.co.uk used an interactive map to display its readers’ pictures.

And it’s not just the UK that has been experiencing some visually stunning snowfalls, the US has also seen snowstorms which have prompted some journalists to get busy with social media.

Poynter Online highlights the coverage on the website of The Oklahoman, which included a live blog and an open Flickr channel enabling readers to submit their own photos.

Visit Poynter for more on NewsOK.com's reports on the snow.

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Split Future For News?

Could the future of the press industry see online and print platforms offer two distinct types of news?

Mark Skipworth from the Telegraph Media Group believes this is likely to happen as the trend grows for people to consume news via the Internet during the week in short surfing sessions at the office.

According to the executive editor for sport, this then leaves readers with the weekend papers to catch up on the background to stories and the analysis of the week’s events.

Skipworth told attendees to his guest lecture at the University of Central Lancashire that he fully expects the weekend newspapers to keep going in the future.

He said their mix of analysis, background information and exclusives enable people to “sit down and digest it” and asserted that there will “always be a market for that kind of story”.

Skipworth, a former managing editor at the Sunday Times, noted that such “volume of content will never work online”, leaving websites free to concentrate on first, fast news.

During his talk as part of the Harris Lecture series, he also suggested that the future remit for journalists working online will widen out to include recommendation articles as well as news-based content.

For more information about the talk, see the live Twitter feed provided by Journalism.co.uk.

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03 February 2009

Newsquest Launches Mobile Sites

Publisher Newsquest has announced the launch of almost 150 mobile sites to accompany its regional online newspapers.

Spokesman Roger Green said the new sites form one of the “largest mobile networks around” which will be mined for its “commercial prospects”, according to a Paid Content article.

And unlike previous Newsquest mobile offerings, these sites boast re-purposed content suited to modern mobile browsers.

The sites feature news and information organised into a small number of categories, including Local News, Traffic and Travel, Entertainment, and Sport.

Green, who is the managing director of Newsquest Digital Media, said of the launch: “I can’t make claims for anyone else but it’s probably one of the largest mobile networks around, it’s a big step for us.

“Whenever the year of mobile is, we’ll be ready.”

[HT – PDA blog]

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How To Conquer SEO

A ten-point guide to improving search engine results has been published by the Search Engine Journal.

Reporter Monica Wright believes that editors and journalists can easily get to grips with search engine optimization (SEO) and has produced some handy hints for beginners.

Here’s an excerpt from Wright’s article entitled “10 Ways Journalists and Newsrooms Can Conquer SEO”:

1 - Multi-purpose headlines

According to Wright, headlines need to work not just for your story but also need to work out of context so they make sense to readers coming to the story via search engines.

2 - Tags

“The title tag is one of the most important factors when optimising your pages, so be as literal and specific as you can be, without making it too long.”

She adds: “Use your meta description tag to summarise your story. Provide the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ as concisely as you can.”

3 - Make Most Of Anchor Text

As hyperlinked text plays a part in SEO, Wright recommends using specific terms when linking to other pages/sites rather than generic links such as “See Related Story”.

4 – Deploy Effective Keywords

Services which suggest keywords and alternative words may be useful here.

5 – “Evergreen Content”

Wright notes that non-time specific features such as guides etc can draw in search traffic and attract long-tail interest.

Visit the Search Engine Journal for the full story.

[HT – Martin Stabe.]

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02 February 2009

Guide To Social Media Ethics

How journalists conduct themselves in the virtual world is a hotly debated issue which has come under the spotlight recently.

And it’s good to know that help is at hand as several news providers have made public some aspects of their ethical guidelines in relation to social networking and social media sites.

Poynter Online currently features an article showing the social networking policy guidelines from the New York Times’s assistant managing editor.

Craig Whitney lists a few areas where journalists need to be careful when managing their own social media output – such as a profile on Facebook or account on Twitter.

He states that reporters must bear in mind that outsiders can access these and suggests that “personal blogs and tweets represent you to the outside world just as much as an 800-word article does”.

Whitney also suggests journalists do not give any information on their political beliefs and be wary of joining political or controversial online social groups even when it is for the purpose of a story.

Interestingly, he adds that these rules apply to selecting content for recommendation services such as Digg or TimesPeople.

And on the crucial ‘to Friend’ or ‘not to Friend’ issue – Whitney says reporters need to consider whether public disclosure of this Friend would be embarrassing or raise questions about impartiality.

But how about the view from the local presses? Well, Virginia’s Roanoke Times recently teamed up with the Poynter Institute to create a new template for an ethical code of conduct with updates on social media.

Editor Carole Tarrant told Journalism.co.uk that some online activities during the recent election prompted her to consider online ethics and social networking.

“I had grown somewhat concerned during the 2008 presidential campaign because I was seeing journalists join pro-Obama groups on Facebook.

“A friend had posted a ‘Yeah, Obama!’ kind of comment on my wall on election night, and I knew I had an awkward personal/professional situation on my hands.”

Visit Journalism.co.uk for more details on this story.

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Footie Site Scoops Archant Award

An online version of a football paper has been hailed the Innovation of the Year at Archant’s company awards.

The Green Un took the title at the publisher’s annual internal prize-giving event, announced last month.

Press Gazette reports that the website, dedicated to local football, also appears in print as a Monday supplement inside the Ipswich Evening Star.

The site has multimedia match reports covering the progress of Ipswich Town and Colchester United.

It also offers news on amateur teams in Essex and Suffolk and has a blogs and forums section.

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