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#Activateldn: Four innovations and ideas in ‘multilayered storytelling’

June 27th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Events, Online Journalism

One of the sessions at today’s Guardian Activate Summit looked at how data and social media are influencing storytelling.

Here are four innovations, shared by Phil Fearnley, general manager, Future Media News & Knowledge, BBC; Stew Langille, CEO of Visually; Neal Mann, social media editor at the Wall Street Journal; and Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian’s Datablog and Datastore.

1. The BBC gets ready for Olympic storytelling

The BBC site for the London Olympics gives every athlete, venue and sport its own page and apart from the homepage all are updated automatically with with the latest video and story content on that particular topic.

The Olympics site also focuses on personalisation, giving the audience the ability to favourite an athlete or sport and follow.

Fearnley said the development of the site started two years ago.

We had to satisfy the ‘main eventers’ and the ‘sports fanatics’. And we wanted to give the idea that you were never missing a moment.

The other innovation shared by Phil Fearnley was the BBC’s “live event video player”.

Viewers can use the interactive video player to jump back to a particular point in an event, such as a triple jump win, and then switch back to a live report.

With “up to 24 live events at once”, the player gives an experience that, according to Fearnley audiences say “is better than TV”.

We are transforming the way we tell video stories to our audiences.

2. Visually is allowing journalists to create their own data visualisations.

Visually launched last year “to democratise the way people use and consume data”. Today, the site has more than 11,000 infographics, 4,000 designers, and around 2 million visitors per month. In March, it launched Visually Create, a collection of self-service tools that allow anyone to create beautiful infographics.

Stew Langille, CEO of Visually told the conference that the team is now developing further tools which will allow journalists or anyone interested in creating a visualisation to do so.

3. Ideas in ‘multilayered storytelling’

Neal Mann, social media editor at the Wall Street Journal (@fieldproducer on Twitter) talked of the potential of “multilayered storytelling”.

Before taking up his new role at the WSJ, Mann went to Burkina Faso.

He worked with Storyful, which built a map which added his social media updates, photos (Mann is also a photographer) which was auto updated and which he shared with his large social media following.

“It allowed people to engage,” Mann said, explaining that updates from a less reported area were “continuously dropping onto people’s phones”.

The map got five times as many hits as a Guardian’s long-form piece of journalism from Mozambique, he said.

Other ways journalists are sharing “background” to text stories are by taking 360 degree images from a location.

His thought is that if you marry the two storytelling techniques, a social media map and long-form journalism, it would be even more powerful.

If you can combine the two it’s a great way news organisations can get people to engage in long-form journalism. The next level for me is that multilayered storytelling.

4. Open journalism, open data

Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian Datastore and Datablog, shared examples of the Guardian’s data journalism.

He spoke of the conversations that went on before the launch of the Datastore where there was a view that people would not be interested in the raw data. Three years on and it has one million viewers a month

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Digital news editor @fieldproducer leaving Sky News

Sky News’s digital news editor Neal Mann, known to 43,000 people on Twitter as @fieldproducer, has announced he has decided to leave the broadcaster.

Mann announced on Twitter on Friday night:

Another Sky colleague, former social media correspondent Ruth Barnett, is also leaving to become head of communications for Android app producer SwiftKey. She wrote on Friday:

Sky News introduced new guidelines for journalists about the use of Twitter last month, including the line: “Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter. Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process.”

Reuters’ Anthony de Rosa commented at the time:

These new rules will hamstring Neal and make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to continue to do what he did to garner so much appreciation from people like me. I suspect Sky will come to their senses and realize the error of their ways. If not, they’re going to lose one of their best ambassadors in Neal, and I would suspect many people working at Sky may wonder if they’re working for an organization that is writing policies that will drive them into obsolescence.

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#jpod: How journalists are embracing Facebook subscribe

February 10th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Podcast, Social media and blogging

It is two months since Facebook launched Subscribe, a feature which allows people to add a subscribe button to their profile and encourage other users to follow their updates.

Subscribe replaces fan pages for journalists and as a result of switching from a page to subscribe, many have seen subscriber numbers soar.

New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof has 350,000 subscribers; Benjamin Cohen, technology correspondent for Channel 4 News has 25,000, and Sky News’ digital editor Neal Mann, whose social media presence is fieldproducer, has more than 13,000.

In this podcast Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Liz Heron, social media editor of the New York Times – who has more than 260,000 subscribers – about why she is encouraging all foreign correspondents at the title to add the subscribe button.

The #jpod also has reflections and advice for journalists from Neal Mann and Benjamin Cohen.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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Sky News’ @fieldproducer ranked most influential UK journalist on Twitter

November 7th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

Sky News digital media editor Neal Mann, aka @fieldproducer (right), at Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired conference in May. Image: Mousetrap Media

Sky News digital news editor Neal Mann (@fieldproducer), is the UK’s most influential journalist on Twitter, according to a new survey.

A study of more than 330,000 tweets by social media site Tweetminster and PR firm Portland found that Mann had retweeted and been mentioned 100,000 times between June and September, according to a Guardian report.

The Guardian’s media news site mediaguardian.co.uk (@mediaguardian) came second in the rankings, with Guardian News & Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger (@arusbridger), BBC presenter Andrew Neil (@afneil), and the Guardian’s main news feed (@guardiannews) making up the rest of the top five.

Channel 4 News economics editor Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) and presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) are 11th and 12th respectively. FT digital media correspondent Tim Bradshaw (@tim) came in 19th, and the Independent’s foreign editor Archie Bland (@archiebland) was 20th.

Accounts belonging to the Guardian or Guardian writers took nine of the top 20 places.

Telegraph writers took four places between 20 and 30, with blogs editor Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) 25th, and 10 places in total.

Other notable entries include the Independent’s Johann Hari (@johannhari101), who has gone from being a prolific tweeter to rarely using the social network after facing allegations of plagiarism beginning in June.

Every account in the top 50 belongs to someone who writes for a major news outlet. (The total here is 51 as Jonathan Freedland (@j_freedland) works for both the BBC and the Guardian.)

The Guardian: 17

The Telegraph: 10

The BBC: 8

Channel 4 News: 5

The FT: 4

Sky News: 3

Indy: 3

The Times: 1

See the full top 50 on Guardian.co.uk.

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#followjourn @fieldproducer – Neal Mann/journalist #fieldproducer

May 27th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Who? Neal Mann

Where? Neal is a freelance field producer working for companies such as Sky News. His blog and links to his social media presence can be found at flavors.me/fieldproducer

Twitter? @Fieldproducer

He is speaking in the sorting the social media chaos at  news:rewired – noise to signal today. The full agenda for the event on Friday, 27 May, can be found here. Follow the #newrw hashtag and the Twitter accounts @newsrewired and @journalism_live for updates

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 sarah.booker at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Live journalism and the power of links #hhldn

Last week’s busy London Hacks and Hackers event brought together two very different approaches to using the web as a storytelling medium.

Two talks at last Wednesday’s event for journalists and programmers explored live reporting via Twitter and the use of linked data at the BBC’s entertainment department.

Sky News journalist Neal Mann, who has co-ordinated live coverage of some of the biggest stories in recent years, shared tips on live reporting – many of them focused on making sure to be fully prepared.

He suggested creating a list of useful and informative links on a chosen subject so that in slow moments context and detail can be added to live coverage, reminding journalists that on social media the audience looks for “speed, balance and a background view”.

In response to organiser Joanna Geary‘s question about coping with low battery life on the iPhone and other gadgets, he suggested taking battery packs and spares where possible, pointing out to live reporters that “if your battery goes, you’re screwed”.

Mann also advised journalists to remember their potential reach does not end when a live event finishes. He recommended using Storify or similar technology to round up the work done during the day and put it in context alongside other people’s coverage.

And on the subject of reach, he said he learned a valuable lesson when his Twitpic of a Sun front page went viral and garnered more than 30,000 views – but was not hosted on his own site and therefore didn’t drive his personal brand as well as it could.

BBC senior information architect Paul Rissen provided a contrasting approach to storytelling with his talk on how the BBC is using linked data and the semantic web to create and augment narrative.

He began by suggesting news organisations on the web today are still confined by their roots in print, audio and video, and that even the best infographics often fail to take advantage of the interconnectedness of the internet as a medium.

He discussed the Mythology Engine, a proof-of-concept prototype created for BBC Vision, which uses carefully structured data to map stories and events onto programmes.

Using the example of Doctor Who, the prototype moves beyond a series of pages representing episodes, series and properties, and expands to create pages for events, characters and stories.

The result, Rissen explained, is a constellation of connected pages where the meaningful relationships between people, stories and programmes are just as important as the entities themselves.

He suggested this sort of deep structured project is a way of telling stories that is truly native to the web, creating rich environments that take advantage of the multimedia possibilities online.

Rissen added this format may also work for sport and news, using the example of BBC Sport which has pages for matches, countries and players, but not individual goals.

He suggested the semantic web could offer news organisations new ways to organise context and make exploration and navigation both intuitive and enjoyable for users.

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BBC CoJo: What’s the difference between curation and journalism?

BBC College of Journalism discusses a lively Twitter debate which took place at the weekend between Sky journalist Neal Mann and NPR’s social media strategist Andy Carvin. The blog attempts to move the debate on, looking at how journalism is changing as a result of social media.

On Friday, ‘mainstream’ media made a bad mistake when it ran images of fighting in the Libyan town of Zawiyah – Reuters picked up the video from social media, which claimed/believed it was legitimate ‘today’ footage. Other news organisations then picked up the material and rebroadcast it until they discovered it was from fighting in exactly the same location but from the previous week.

Was that a failure of mainstream media or social media? It was certainly a failure of journalism – and that’s the point: the differing strands of journalism and/or media are converging.

Full post on the BBC blog at this link

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