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Northern Echo invests £10,000 in bid to ‘save’ Darlington Football Club

February 20th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Newsquest title the Northern Echo has announced an investment of £10,000 as part of a campaign to try and ‘save’ Darlington Football Club.

The newspaper reports that “the money will be used to buy shares in new company, Darlington FC 1883 Ltd, which hopes to purchase the Quakers and prevent it from being liquidated”.

Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “The paper has been at the heart of the campaign to save Darlington Football Club from the outset and we have decided to make this investment as a further demonstration of our support.

“These are challenging economic times for all businesses and we recognise the sensitivities of making this investment. However, as Darlington’s local paper, we felt it was something we had to do. Darlington Football Club is an important part of our business, supporting sales of the paper, and it is an investment on behalf of our readers.

“The £10,000 will be split over the three phases of the appeal and I sincerely hope we get that far. It certainly won’t be for the lack of effort.”

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The Register: Salford ‘teething problems’ lead to BBC errors

February 16th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

BBC insiders have spoken out about “endemic problems” with technology at the new MediaCity facilities in Salford, which have led to a series of errors including one unfortunate captioning mistake that saw a child being labelled as a recovering alcoholic.

“Once a mistake has been entered into the computer, the director in the TV gallery can do nothing to stop it. The software won’t allow it,” a source told The Register.

Other problems include failing clocks and non-responsive robotic cameras. The problems have so far affected BBC North West programmes, but BBC Breakfast is also moving into the studio complex shortly.

The BBC response is: “It wasn’t a technical error but rather just a simple case of people getting used to the new systems. With the introduction of any new systems, teething problems are to be expected.”

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BBC Editors’ Blog: Guidance on breaking news and Twitter

February 8th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Online Journalism

After Sky News’s crackdown on Twitter use – and specifically retweeting non-Sky journalists – was revealed last night, it’s the BBC’s turn to clarify its position.

In a post on the BBC editors’ blog today, social media editor Chris Hamilton says the corporation has distributed some revised breaking news guidance to correspondents, reporters and producers.

It says that, when they have some breaking news, an exclusive or any kind of urgent update on a story, they must get written copy into our newsroom system as quickly as possible, so that it can be seen and shared by everyone – both the news desks which deploy our staff and resources (like TV trucks) as well as television, radio and online production teams.

We’ve been clear that our first priority remains ensuring that important information reaches BBC colleagues, and thus all our audiences, as quickly as possible – and certainly not after it reaches Twitter.

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Guardian launches ‘next phase’ of open newslist: Newsdesk Live

January 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The Guardian has launched a new liveblog in its next development of its open newslist trial, which it started last year to facilitate greater discussion around the given topics.

According to a blog post by UK news editor Dan Roberts, Newsdesk Live was prompted by “limitations” with the open newsdesk which became apparent, “chiefly the difficulty of using a simple grid and 140 characters to communicate all the complexities of the day’s news with an outside audience”.

Newsdesk Live will “incorporate the open newslist, but will also feature a live comment thread allowing readers to discuss what’s going on directly rather than having to do so via Twitter”.

Journalist Polly Curtis is overseeing the project, Roberts adds:

For the period of the experiment, Polly is joining the national newdesk to work alongside other UK editors to help feed ideas from readers back into the newsgathering process.

Hat tip: 10,000 Words blog

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AFP photographer wins political photography award

January 27th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Editors' pick, Photography

The AFP has issued a release to say its photographer John MacDougall won the Rueckblende (flashback) award in Germany for 2011.

The agency says this is the first time the award, which is for political photography and cartoons, has gone to one of its photographers.

The winning picture of a German female soldier embracing a relative of one of three victims at a military funeral brought home the human aspect of the tragedy of Afghanistan, judges of the Rueckblende award for political photography said.

MacDougall first started work at AFP in 1989 as a photo editor.

According to the AFP release “his photo was chosen from among 247 entries for the Rueckblende, which was created in 1995 and carries a 7,000-euro ($9,200) prize, and which also awards a prize for political cartoonists.”

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Unions jointly submit pay claim for BBC staff

January 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

The National Union of Journalists, Bectu and Unite have jointly issued a pay claim for BBC staff for 2012 to 2013, which according to union statements, asks for a rise “of RPI plus two per cent, with a minimum increase of £1,000″.

The NUJ says this would apply to BBC staff in bands two to 11. In a statement the NUJ’s broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said they consider it “a fair claim”.

According to the unions the claim “also seeks the reinstatement of a previous right for staff to lodge pay appeals” and “encourages BBC management to agree to the inclusion of elected staff representatives on the Executive Remuneration Committee”.

Read more on the pay claim on the NUJ and Bectu websites.

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InPublishing: New chief executive’s plans for Johnston Press

January 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

InPublishing has a revealing interview with Johnston Press’ new chief executive, a former technology boss with no newspaper experience.

Ray Snoddy interviews Ashley Highfield, who was former head of technology at the BBC and later in charge of Microsoft’s online and consumer operations, on his plans for the newspaper group.

It is worth reading the whole interview to find out why Highfield took up the challenge of joining the company, which seen its share price fall from 480p to 5p.

Here are a couple of extracts:

The new Johnston chief executive also points out that while not a newspaperman, he has run two of the largest online news portals in the UK, MSN and BBC online, where he was editor-in-chief responsible for several hundred online journalists.

Then of course there is the money, which included a welcome package of £500,000 worth of seriously deflated Johnston Press shares.

If the new chief executive can conjure up a little alchemy, find a better model for linking the print and digital world and get the share price on the move then he could become seriously rich.

Those however who expected Highfield to come in to Johnston Press and wave a magic digital wand on his first day at the beginning of November have already expressed disappointment.

Highfield insists he has a digital strategy but says it would be “premature” to say in any detail how he is going to implement it.

Highfield discusses content dissemination via iPads and other devices (incidentally, JP title the Scotsman launched a £7.99-a-month iPad edition earlier this week), but was less forthcoming about paywall plans (JP dismantled its trial walls in April 2010).

And what about paywalls and charging for online content?

“Watch this space”, is all Highfield will say but, clearly, increasing digital revenues is a central part of the emerging strategy.

The full InPublishing interview is at this link.

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Jon Snow’s Cudlipp lecture: ‘Twitter leads the information thirsty to water’

January 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Toni Knevitt, London College of Communication

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow gave the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture last night, in which he gave a powerful speech on what he views as the advent of “journalism’s golden age”.

Snow has published the full version of his speech on his Snowblog, but here are some highlights from the lecture.

Much of his speech discussed how new technology and real-time news across platforms has an impact on the work of journalists:

Contrast therefore my first reporting from Uganda in 1976 and my most recent foreign assignment in 2011.

That first report on the ground in Uganda dealt with the horror of Amin, it was graphic, and because I was not constrained by immediate “live” deadlines and the rest, I had time to hang about to try to grab an interview with the tyrant: that’s the upside. But I had little mechanism for developing any sense of how the story connected with the outside world – the UN, Westminster and the rest.

… Contrast that with my last major foreign assignment in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where I tweeted, blogged, reported, fed the bird, and then anchored that night’s Channel 4 News live from just outside the Square. Mind you, with the pressures of time, some of the fun has gone out of it all.

For journalists, he said, the “liberation” of the media gives way to a new “golden age of journalism”:

We are in the age of answer back, better still we are in the age in which “we the people” have their greatest opportunity ever to influence the information agenda … But above all we are in the age of more. More potential to get it right, to get it fast, to get it in depth. We have that illusive entity “the level playing field”, we can compete on equal terms and yet be the best.

He also passed comment on some of the biggest issues facing the news industry today, from regulation to the phone hacking scandal:

I think it is absolutely right that there is a regulator that people can go to. Who are we to be above the opportunity for people to review what we’ve done? Furthermore I do not want to find my own editors somewhere in the mix. I want an objective regulator.

… Of course, papers and TV are entirely different beasts, and they work in entirely different ways, but I see no reason why print journalism wouldn’t benefit from a credible regulator in the same way TV has.

And not forgetting the Leveson inquiry, which is currently looking at the culture and ethics of the press:

Leveson should recommend many of the people and institutions that have been before him find a way of allowing their staff to get stuck into the real world, it will vastly improve and deepen their journalism. We journalists are not a breed a part – we must be of the world we report. The hacking scandal reveals an echelon of hacks who removed themselves from the world in which the rest of us live – they took some weird pleasure in urinating on our world.

But finally, he called for journalists to be given more time and space wherever possible:

The speed and pace of what all of us is doing is starving, television journalists in particular, of the opportunity to develop the stature and presence of our forebears.

These were people who had days in which to prepare their stories, dominated a tiny handful of channels, and became iconic figures in the medium. It is much, much harder for journalists today to ascend the same ladder and preside with their kind of authority and we need to afford talent the time, the space and the working experience to develop the authority that our medium depends upon.

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Mail Online publisher: ‘If you don’t listen to your users then you’re dead’

January 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Appearing before the joint committee on privacy and injunctions yesterday, Martin Clarke, the publisher of Daily Mail website Mail Online, shared some interesting comments on digital media, in reference to privacy, regulation and general approaches to journalism in a digital world.

The latest results from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (published in December) showed the Mail Online continued its lead ahead of other audited UK news sites with almost 85 million unique browsers in November.

So here is a collection of thoughts shared by Clarke before the committee on issues relating to the impact of the internet on the news industry:

Privacy:

If we were publishing really unpleasant, intrusive stuff our readers wouldn’t like it. One of the beauties of the internet is the feedback you get from your readers is pretty much instant in two ways.

First of all, you can see in real time who’s reading what stories on your homepage … that immediately tells me which ones they’re interested in.

Secondly, we have the comments facility and readers aren’t slow to let us know when they think we’ve been unfair or unpleasant. Quite often I’ve changed tack on a story, or the headline on a story or dropped a picture because of things readers have left in comments. That’s the beauty of the internet, the interaction between you and your readers is that much more immediate. If there were no privacy law no I don’t think it would make that much difference.

Regulation

You are dealing with an industry that faces big commercial challenges going forward. Digital is how newspapers are going to have to make their living, the economics of the internet are such you probably have to make big chunk of that living abroad. Any further regulation might compromise that, and then quite frankly we won’t really have an industry left to regulate.

… You think of the internet in chunks, press, bloggers, tweeters, but from the consumers point of view that’s not how they consider it. It’s an endless continuous spectrum that starts with what their friends are saying on their Facebook pages, what some tweeter might be saying, to a story they link to in a tweet, then go back on to Facebook page and comment … Pretty soon all those commenting systems are going to be bolted together. Where do you draw the line, where do you say right this bit of the internet is going to be regulated and this bit isn’t?

… We’ve had to wake up and deal, embrace a new reality … The internet is a great way to distribute news, it means newspapers are now back in the business of breaking news … alongside TV and radio and the people who had taken that privilege away from us. It’s gratifying as a journalist to be part of that. Equally it’s brought some negatives …. You can’t turn back the tide, we can’t say stop the internet world we want to get off.

On content:

The reason it’s different from the Daily Mail is because it’s a different market … I’m operating in a digital market where we do get feedback from the readers, I can see in real time what they’re really reading rather than what I might think as journalist they should be reading. In the digital world if you don’t listen to your users, if you don’t involve them, if you don’t listen to their tastes, than you’re dead. We don’t follow that data slavishly, that’s where I come in, it’s my job to mediate the light and the shade. So that’s why it’s different from the Mail.

Equally we do more showbiz…we do vastly more science, we do more political commentary, we do more foreign news because we’re not limited by physical space … It goes back to the point I made right at the beginning, if you’re going for scale you can’t just fit in a niche. You can’t say “we’ll be in the red-top end, or the middle-market or the broadsheet end”. Niches aren’t big enough on the internet to survive, so you have to be a much broader church.

You can watch the session in full on Parliament TV and hear from others who appeared before the committee, including Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group and Phillip Webster, editor of Times Online.

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Norway: Journalism school to revise curriculum in aftermath of terror attacks

Norwegian journalist and blogger Kristine Lowe has written a blog post explaining how an Oslo-based journalism school is considering revising the curriculum in the aftermath of the Norway attacks.

The potential development in a Norwegian journalism school should serve as a reminder to those running UK courses to assess whether they offer sufficient crisis training.

According to Lowe’s post, the suggestion to revise the curriculum of the Oslo and Akershus University College journalism school follows a survey of the Norwegian journalists who covered the 22/7 terror attacks, which saw a bomb damage the building of VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, followed by a massacre on Utøya island.

Lowe explains that the study was carried out by Trond Idaas, an advisor to the Norwegian Journalist Union, who “has also written a masters thesis on the experiences of journalists covering the Tsunami in 2004″, adding that “he feels it is very important that crisis reporting becomes an integral part of journalism training”.

Idaas’ research reportedly found that 40 per cent of the journalists covering the tragic events on 22/7 had less than five years of journalistic experience, July being in the middle of the summer holidays in Norway, as Lowe explains.

She states:

This finding has, according to Journalisten, been an important reason for the journalism school at Oslo and Akershus University College to suggest making crisis reporting an integral part of its bachelor degree. Also, there were widespread public reactions to the use of live broadcasts from Utvika on 22/7, when some of those intereviewed quite obviously were in a state of shock.

Idaas said integrating crisis reporting in the curriculum, such as suggested at Oslo and Akershus University College, is “quite revolutionary and not even widespread internationally”.

That seems to be true in the UK. A quick and straw poll carried out via Twitter, in which we asked journalism students and lecturers whether universities currently include classes on how to report on terror and catastrophes, suggests crisis reporting is not included in the training offered by many journalism courses. Some courses, including one at City University, do offer some guidance and advice.

Are you aware of a journalism school that trains journalists in crisis reporting? Do you think training should be offered more widely? Leave a comment below.

Kristine Lowe’s post is at this link.

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