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#ppaconf: Arguments for and against the commercially-minded editor

May 9th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

Should editors be required to be commercially-minded and focus on the business side of publishing or be free to concentrate on journalism?

This was the question debated by two speakers in a session looking at business-to-business magazines at today’s PPA conference.

Evening Standard columnist Peter Bill gave a strongly opinionated view, arguing that the roles of editor and publisher should remain separate; Chris Gamm, editor of Retail Newsagent, described how his role involves considering advertising revenue and thinking about how to increase copy sales.

Bill believes editorial teams should purely focus on producing great content, not worrying about whether readers are accessing it via print or digitally and how much money is being made.

Bill said:

It is not the job of the editor to worry about how the reader gets the content.

He urged publishers to invest in journalism, saying strong content is “necessary for economic survival”.

He listed his “moans of malcontent”, warning that “content is degraded by commercial pollution”.

Chris Gamm, editor of Retail Newsagent, a business-to-business title launched in 1889 which sells at £1.80 a week, gave the opposing view, saying it is up to the editor to think about the bottom line.

Describing himself as a “commercially-minded editor” he said that creativity is required to ensure readers pay for content paid for directly by the advertiser.

Advertorials don’t have to be boring.

He said how such content can bring in “tens of thousands of pounds”.

He gave the example of an advertorial his title ran which looked at the plain packaging of cigarettes debate. He sent reporters to look at packaging in supermarkets and create a feature and argued that readers found it interesting content while it sustained strong journalism.

Double-page spreads in the magazine focus on “original copy and are not press release-led”, allowing businesses to advertise their brands.

He explained how reporters have targets, including turning their contacts book into 10 exclusive stories per quarter, and how closely they work with the commercial team.

Despite strongly opposing views in what an editor’s role should include, where both speakers did agree was that original content is key, whether readers are accessing content digitally or in print, and whether they are paying to read or accessing titles for free.

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#followjourn: @nmcintosh – Neil McIntosh/editor

September 28th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Who? Neil McIntosh, editor of europe.wsj.com, website of the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Where? At europe.wsj.com, and on his own site, Complete Tosh

Twitter? @nmcintosh

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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#followjourn: @dove 21/editor

May 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#followjourn: Lauren Mills

Who? London-based editor editor of The Source

Where? The Source is a Wall Street Journal Europe business blog. She has previously worked for several national newspapers including the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Express and the Telegraph. She pops up on journalisted here, and LinkedIn here.

Contact? @dove21

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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#followjourn: Mike Butcher/editor

February 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#followjourn: Mike Butcher

Who? Editor of TechCrunch Europe

What? Mike has previously written for the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Times and the New Statesman. He has also worked as the editor of New Media Age magazine. His personal blog is mbites.com.

Where? Read about TechCrunch and Mike Butcher here.

Contact? Follow @mikebutcher

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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#FollowJourn: @steve_nicholls/multimedia editor

September 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Steve Nicholls

Who? Multimedia editor, Birmingham Post.

What? He previously worked as multimedia editor for Trinity Mirror Midlands and BPM Media (Midlands).

Where? @steve_nicholls and http://www.birminghampost.net/

Contact? steve.nicholls [ at] birminghampost.net

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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#FollowJourn: @danowen/online editor

September 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Dan Owen

Who? Executive editor online, Trinity Mirror

What? Responsible for the print editions of North Wales Weekly News and the Denbighshire Visitor, and edits companion websites for North Wales such as dailypost.co.uk. Prior to this he was a reporter for North Wales Weekly News.

Where? @danowen

Contact? dan.owen [at] northwalesnews.co.uk

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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BeetTV: Interview with editor of HuffPo’s new tech section

Beet TV recorded this interview with  Jose Antonio Vargas, the former Washington Post reporter now editing the Huffington Post’s new technology section that launched on Monday. Technology is anthropology, Vargas says.

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#FollowJourn: @MarcusWa/online editor

September 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Marcus Warren

Who? Editor, Telegraph.co.uk

What? Former foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, now editor of Telegraph.co.uk, in charge of the day-to-day running of the site.

Where? @MarcusWa or Telegraph.co.uk

Contact? marcus.warren [at] telegraph.co.uk

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Jon Bernstein: Five innovations in news journalism, thanks to the web

What has the web ever done for journalism, except skewer its business model and return freelance rates to levels not seen since the early 90s?

Well, not much, apart from reinvent the form.

Amidst the doom of gloom in our industry it is easy to lose sight of how the web has transformed the way we tell stories, provide context and analysis, and cover live events.

This is arguably the most creative period in news journalism since movable type – new forms, new applications and new execution. Newspapers are embracing video and audio, radio stations do pictures, and TV has gone blogging.

You’re likely to have your own suggestions, and favourites. But here are five of the best:

1. Interactive infographics

Broadcast news was quick to adopt the graphic as a means of explaining complex issues or, more prosaically, make the most of a picture-challenged story. The web has taken the best examples from newspapers, magazines and TV and given them a twist – interactivity. Now you can interrogate the data, slice and dice it at will. Two of the best practitioners of the art can be found in the US – the New York Times and South Florida’s Sun Sentinel.

2. Crowdsourcing

From crime mapping to a pictorial memorial to the victims of post-election Iran to joint investigations, the crowd is proving a potent force in journalism. It took the web to provide the environment for a real-time collaboration and ad hoc groups are brought together by dint of interest, expertise, geography or some combination of all three. Not all crowdsourcing projects run smooth but the power of the crowd will continue to surprise.

3. The podcast

Just as cheap video cameras and YouTube democratised the moving image, so the podcast has made audio publishers of us all. Some podcasts mirror radio almost exactly in format, down to the commercial breaks at the top, middle and end of the show. Others break the rules. As Erik Qualman notes in his new book Socialnomics, today’s podcasters are taking liberties with advertising models (building in sponsorship) and with length of transmission (“If a podcast only has 16 minutes of news-worthy items, then why waste … time trying to fill the slot with sub-par content?”).

4. Over-by-over

A completely original approach to sports reporting, only possible on a real-time platform. Like Sky’s Soccer Saturday – where a bunch of ex-pros watch matches you can’t see and offer semi-coherent banter – over-by-over and ball-by-ball cricket and football commentaries shouldn’t work, but they do. And it’s not just the application, it’s the execution. The commentaries are knowing, not fawning, conversational and participatory. Over-by-over is CoveritLive and Twitter‘s (child-like) elder sibling.

5. The blog

The blog and the conventional news article are entirely separate forms, as any publisher who has tried to fob the user off by sticking the word ‘blog’ at the top of a standard story template will tell you. The blog allows you to tell stories in a different way, deconstructing the inverted pyramid and addressing the who, what, why, when, where and how as appropriate. Breaking news has become a narrative – early lines followed by more detail, reaction, photos, analysis, video, comment and fact checking in no defined order. It’s a collaborative work in progress. News is becoming atomised on the web and the blog is the platform on which it is happening.

I’ve named five but there are bound to be others. What have I missed?

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at jonbernstein.wordpress.com.

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The Jobless Journalist: Week four – Are subbing and reporting roles merging into one?

September 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs

This is the fourth post in a series from an anonymous UK-based journalist recently made redundant. To follow the series, you can subscribe to this feed.

Last week I blogged about whether you should apply for subbing jobs if you’re a reporter or a features writer.

This week I’ve spoken to two journalists – one print and one online – about the ‘concertina effect,’ i.e. whether subbing and reporting roles are merging into one, particularly in an online environment.

Peter Sands is a veteran newspaper sub and director of PA Training and insists that the standalone sub is far from dead.

Even with web publishing where content goes live before it is subbed (meaning the reporter has to ensure copy is clean first), Sands says the role of the sub-editor is still vital.

“I would definitely say that you have to have a second pair of eyeballs,” he says.

Sands was editor of the Northern Echo in the early 1990s and admits much has changed since then.

At that time there was real animosity between subs and reporters: “In Darlington there was the Red Lion pub for subs and the Britannia for reporters and never the two should meet,” he says.

While Sands believes the sub is alive and kicking, he acknowledges that their role is being redefined. “The divide [between reporters and subs] has really gone now,” he says.

Sub, web editor and corporate blogger Fiona Cullinan agrees: “Divide?  What divide? The divide is less about reporting versus subbing and more about are you engaged or not, are you digitally included or not?”

“By not engaging more in online environments, traditional journalists are not developing their digital writing or subbing skills, let alone all the other skills that go with publishing to the web, like picture research under Creative Commons licences, image manipulation, linking skills, SEO knowledge, how to upload and promote content, and the big one: the ability to deal with readers talking back to you.”

Apart from the odd typo creeping in when you publish first and hone later, many reporters who write straight to the web can face serious libel issues.

Cullinan says checking factual inaccuracies and avoiding legal pitfalls is ‘perfect sub-editor territory‘.

“From what I’ve read, reporters in multimedia newsrooms are being asked to sub their own work; meanwhile subs are being made redundant,” she adds.

“How reporters are supposed to sub to old-school standards, perhaps with minimal experience or training, and 24-hour newsroom deadline pressures, should be interesting!”

Cullinan also points out that the comments section can act as a ‘rather more public second set of eyes, pointing out your typos and incorrect facts’.

The upshot? To keep up with the changing face of journalism a reporter needs to be savvy about subbing as well as having other web skills, but it is still the sub-editor who has the last word.

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