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#news2011: Lessons from ‘roadmap for news media’

November 29th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Journalism, Online Journalism

Consultant Jim Chisholm gave a jam-packed presentation to the Global Editors Network news summit in Hong Kong today.

His presentation (which I will link to here once it is available) offered plenty of facts and figures about the state of the industry across all platforms, but focused on how improving the approach to digital content can also help provide a secure future for more traditional forms.

Here are just some of the messages I took away from his presentation and comments:

1. We have abandoned circulation

“There is no evidence that the internet is the cause of the circulation decline”, he said. According to the statistics for online given in his presentation the rate of ad spend per hour was £8.20 online but £23.50 in newspapers. And the time spent by the audience consuming media was still top for newspapers, although overall this is in decline.

Television is increasing its share but not time, the amount of time internet is consumed is leveling off. People are not spending more time [consuming news] despite all the platforms available.

Print circulation was also said to maintain a key share of revenues, but he said that it “has been forgotten”.

The reason it’s going down is because nobody cares. It is a really serious problem.

2. Mobile opportunities will be higher than predicted

Chrisholm told the conference that “forecasts suggest by 2017 mobile will deliver around 24 per cent of all digital advertising”, but “the forecasts are wrong”, he said, adding mobile use will be a lot higher.

Mobile is a second evolution.

As well as wireless capabilities mobile offers multimedia and location features that can exploit the personalisation trend. Also looking at tablets, he said growth in this area is “absolutely enormous” adding that Le Monde told him “reading times on tablets are as high as those reading print newspapers”.

3. Newsstands could be the way forward, not paywalls

Put simply, “paywalls will not work”, he told the audience. But the newsstand formula could be the answer.

It will work online if everyone works together [and offers content] all in one place. That is a solution that could work. In a competitive market people can choose to go from one place to another.

4. We need to be more obsessive about analytics

He told the audience of editors that journalists may not like to hear it but “the time has come … we have to be obsessive about analytics.”

Because of our reluctance to take on board the concept of analytics, that’s what’s holding back our ability to develop digital. We are not exploiting the medium in the way it is meant to be exploited.

… The reality is unless traditional news media adopt scientific approach to customer retention and intensity, they’re dead.

In conclusion on the topic of analytics he told the audience of editors “you can all do this,” and added that “tailored content will dramatically transform the industry”.

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Ten incredibly useful browser add-ons for journalists

Browser extensions for Google Chrome, add-ons for Firefox and Safari extensions can be very powerful and incredibly useful to journalists.

Here is a list of some that can help you find and search, verify sources and speed up picture annotation.

Some of the extensions in this list are our tips and the rest are suggestions submitted to us after we sent out a tweet asking for nominations.

1. HoverMe (Chrome)

Verifying Twitter sources can be testing. When this browser extension for Chrome is installed and you hover over a Twitter profile photograph, it will enable you to see what other online accounts that user has and although not fool-proof, will give you some idea of whether they are a real person with LinkedIn, YouTube and Delicious accounts and, helpfully, a Klout score, which measures online influence.

The downside is you have to use Twitter’s own website rather than a platform such as TweetDeck and it does depend on users using the same email address to link their various profiles.

2. Awesome Screenshot (Chrome and Firefox)

An incredibly useful Chrome and Firefox extension for online journalists who spend time annotating screengrabs in Photoshop and other graphics packages.

First you click the button on your browser to take a screen shot and then you can crop the image, circle or blur an area and save it.


3. Greplin (Chrome)

Greplin is an incredibly useful tool and has a handy browser extension which allows you to search your own private files from Chrome. It’s like Google for your email, calendar, Dropbox and Delicious. After you have signed up to Greplin and added the extension you can then type ‘g’ in the url field and search for a keyword or phrase and find references to it from your Gmail, Facebook and Dropbox accounts, plus in several other platforms.

4. Delicious (Firefox, Chrome, Safari)

Delicious has various add-ons to help users of the bookmarking platform. You can post a URL directly to Delicious and see your tags to allow you to easily find archived bookmarks.

Tipster: @the_claus

5. British English Dictionary (Firefox)

If your CMS, such as WordPress, has a default US spelling setting, this is one way of switching it to British English. Install the add-on, select several rows of text, right-click and change the language.

6. Firebug (Firefox)

This is a handy extension for journalists to “edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page”. By clicking on the installed add-on, you will be given a screen which shows you the code. Handy for spotting bugs.

7. Zotero (Chrome and Safari)

Zotero is a tool to help you collect, organise, cite, and share your research sources. Click on the add-on and you can file any web page into your Zotero library and manually add additional notes and information. There is a video here that explains how Zotero works.

Tipster: @onlinejourno

8. ScribeFire (Chrome and Safari)

ScribeFire allows you to blog from your browser, without opening the CMS or platform. You can post to platforms including WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, Windows Live Spaces, Tumblr, Posterous, Xanga, and LiveJournal.

You can edit and update existing posts and also schedule posts for the future (if your blog allows that). You can also delete posts, save drafts, tag, categorize and upload images, and post to multiple blogs at once.

Tipster: @onlinejourno

9. WikiTrust (Safari and Firefox)

Journalism students are no-doubt told never to rely on information form Wikipedia. This handy add-on goes some way to help you understand the online reputation of authors and content, however. Click the installed tab (within Wikipedia) and the intensity of the colour highlighting the text will tell you the degree to which it has been revised by high-reputation authors.

An orange background indicates new, unrevised, text, white is for text that has been revised by many reputed authors.

Tipster: @the_claus

10. Greasemonkey (Firefox)

This Firefox add-on allows you to  “customise the way a web page displays or behaves, by using small bits of JavaScript”. For example, use other people’s code to do things like remove the Facebook side ticker.

Journalist Mary Hamilton, who recommended the add-on said she uses it to automate really simple tasks and auto-refresh web pages.

Tipster: @newsmary

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Twitter, journalists and court coverage: where to draw the line?

There was an interesting discussion going on at Cardiff University today, as Darren Waters, a social media producer in the BBC Wales newsroom, joined students for a discussion on community which, according to the hashtag on Twitter (#cjscomm), included a topical discussion on the issue of immediacy in online reporting.

Recent events, specifically in relation to court coverage, have demonstrated the issues this can raise for journalists and news outlets working in the online environment, with the pressure and power of immediate publication at their fingertips. Earlier this month several news outlets mistakenly reported that Amanda Knox’s conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher had been upheld, when the judge was in fact returning a guilty verdict for a charge of slander. The murder conviction was overturned, but once the word “guilty” had been heard several news organisations quickly sent out their stories and the Guardian made the same mistake on its liveblog.

Another specific challenge related to this is the delivery and sharing of breaking news on platforms such as Twitter, where journalists face making important decisions of when to share certain information and when to hold back.

In December last year England and Wales’ most senior judge published new guidelines which gave journalists greater freedom to file live reports and Twitter updates from court. As I write this a number of journalists are covering the Vincent Tabak trial live, with the issue of what a journalist should and shouldn’t report from a court case (and the wider approach to using Twitter) being simultaneously highlighted in the Cardiff University discussion.

Follow the hashtag to read more from the debate and advice offered by Waters. And feel free to tell us what you think. Where should the line be drawn in court reporting, especially during the hearing of detailed evidence, and what considerations should journalists make before pressing the button to submit? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter @journalismnews.

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Sydney Morning Herald: The Australian to reveal paywall details this week

October 18th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that News Limited (the Australian arm of News Corporation) will officially announce its paywall for the Australian this week, after it outlined plans for a ‘freemium’ subscription model for its online content back in June.

It had already been announced that the model will offer access to some content for free, but others will require payment.

According to the SMH report the site will charge $2.95 a week to access all content across the website and its phone and tablet apps.

It will be the first paywall for a general newspaper in Australia, an experiment that has achieved mixed success overseas by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Economist.

It will follow the approach of News Corp stablemate The Wall Street Journal. Some stories will be able to be read for free while others will need a subscription to be read, most likely to be its analysis and specialised sections.

At the World Editors Forum last week, three publishers – including the New York Times – outlined their paywall strategies and lessons they had learnt along the way.

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Newspaper Society: Round-up of record web traffic for local media titles covering riots

August 11th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Traffic

The Newspaper Society today (11 August) published a series of figures for local media titles covering the recent riots across England. According to the NS, many news sites saw record traffic levels as the public swarmed to their local paper’s for the latest updates on the violence.

Some of the highest online statistics from the NS report are below:

  • The Liverpool Echo: Initial story on the riots recorded 850,000 page views. Said to be most-read story on the Trinity Mirror Regionals network. Live blog on Tuesday and Wednesday viewed by more than 85,000 people. Overall website recorded around 3 million page views and 400,000 unique users over the two days.
  • Express and Star: On Tuesday its website recorded 853,000 homepage views.
  • The Enfield Independent: Recorded 203,000 page views on site in 24 hours on Sunday.
  • The Nottingham Post: 120,000 unique users (also on Tuesday), said to be three times the normal level of traffic. Monday night’s lead report attracted 64,000 page views while picture gallery of aftermath received 120,000 page views.
  • This is Gloucestershire: Two picture galleries containing reader-submitted photos received more than 473,000 page views, as of 2pm Wednesday.
  • The Birmingham Mail: More than 100,000 unique users on Tuesday, with page views up more than 300 per cent on average levels.

Read the full statistics here…

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Can FOI requests be submitted on Twitter? Yes, says ICO

In its monthly newsletter, sent out yesterday (28 July), the Information Commissioners Office sought to clarify an interesting question: whether or not people can use Twitter to submit freedom of information requests. And the answer is yes.

While Twitter is not the most effective channel for submitting or responding to freedom of information requests, this does not mean that requests sent using Twitter are necessarily invalid. They can be valid requests in freedom of information terms and authorities that have Twitter accounts should plan for the possibility of receiving them.

… The ICO has also been asked whether a request in a tweet that only refers to an authority in an @mention, for example @ICOnews, is really directed to and received by that authority. The ICO’s view is that it is. Twitter allows the authority to check for @mentions of itself, and so it has in effect received that request, even though it was not sent directly to the authority like an email or letter.

According to the ICO the key requirement is the request must state the name of the applicant, which may not be shown in the Twitter name but instead in a linked profile.

But the ICO does warn that if the requester does not give their real name, it is technically not a valid freedom of information request.

Whilst the authority may still choose to respond, the requester should be made aware that the Information Commissioner will not be able to deal with any subsequent complaint.

As for an address, as this is difficult given the limited length of a tweet, authorities are reminded they can ask the requester for an email address in order to provide a full response, or publish the requested information, or a refusal notice, on its website and tweet a link to that.

The ICO does add, however, that requesters are encouraged to use this channel responsibly. “If they do not, the authority could consider using the exemptions for vexatious and repeated requests in section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act”, the newsletter entry states.

Hatip: Andy Mabbet, aka pigsonthewing

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City University research shows rapid growth of personalised news services

May 12th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Automatic personalised news services in UK and US are growing at three times the rate of reader customisation services, according to new report.

Research published by City University today, as carried out by senior lecturer in electronic publishing Neil Thurman, suggests that from 2007 to 2009, personalisation by readers only grew by 20 per cent.

In comparison passive personalisation, where news websites filter and recommend articles based on user browsing behaviour “is outstripping active user customisation by a factor of three” with 60 per cent growth. And since then, Thurman told Journalism.co.uk, a third study at the end of last year appears to show the trend continuing, with social media and mobile playing an increasing role in adding personalisation functionality.

The research was carried out through a series of interviews with senior editors of major news outlets in the UK and US, including Times Online and BBC News Interactive, as well as content analysis of the news sites of these organisations.

This included features such as widgets and SMS alerts, as well as homepage customisation and “contextual recommendations” where contextually-related links are automatically generated from individual stories to other content.

“Although some are saying that personalised news sites are ‘all the rage’, this research is a warning to new sites like Trove, that readers are reluctant to take on the role of editorial selection, and still enjoy serendipitous discovery,” Thurman said in a release today.

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Media release: Reuters launches 24-hour live news stream

Reuters this week announced it had launched an online live stream service, providing video access to breaking and scheduled news events from around the world.

In a release the news agency said the live stream will provide a faster and cost-effective option to the traditional satellite news-gathering method.

“Publishers asked for customizable news video, and that’s exactly what we are delivering,” said Chris Ahearn, president of media, Thomson Reuters.”You will continue to see Reuters delivering tools that increase efficiency, reduce cost, and drive revenue. We are working hard to meet the growing demands of the media industry.”

According to Reuters the Tribune Company in the US and Fairfax Media in Australia were the first to adopt the new technology, to carry live coverage of the royal wedding.

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War correspondents’ awards adds online journalism prize

May 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Online Journalism

The 18th Bayeux-Calvados Awards for War Correspondents are now open for entries, with the addition of a new category for online journalism.

A release from the award organisers said: “With the rise of digital technology, technological developments and changes in the way in which news is broadcast, new forms of narration have been created.

“There has been a vast increase in the number of multimedia projects in recent years, with the introduction of web documentaries, short multimedia works, video-graphics, etc. These new formats provide opportunities for finding out about international news in other ways (new information methods, new audiences).”

There are seven other prizes given out as part of the awards, for: written press; television; radio; photography; grand format television; and a young reporter prize.

Journalists have until 10 June to submit work photo, radio, television and written press reports on a conflict or news event relating to the fight for freedom and democracy. Submissions must have been made between the 1 June, 2010 and the 3 May, 2011.

There is a €7,000 (£6,300) grant to be won in each category, except for the Young Reporters category which offers €3,000 (£2,700).

The president of the jury for the prizes is Mort Rosenblum, a veteran US war correspondent and author of several books.

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#PPAconf: ‘Let’s make sure we do the paid content thing well’

May 4th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Magazines

The final session at the PPA Inspiration & Innovation digital publishing conference today returned to the now common discussion of how publishers can, and should be, developing digital revenues.

Neil Thackray, co-founder of Briefing Media opened up the debate by urging publishers not to repeat what he called a “monumental cock-up” in terms of making money through online advertising. “Let’s make sure we do the paid content thing well”, he said.

But this begs a question that remains unanswered for many: how exactly? Well the main pieces of advice were for publishers to take their time in developing strategies and new digital products, to use the unique content on offer, and not to simply regurgitate online content on new digital platforms. But overall in developing new revenues and products such as mobile, Thackray summed up, it is about putting the reader at the centre of what you do, not the brand or magazine.

And understanding these readers is key, the panel agreed, as fellow panel member Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, was able to demonstrate.

According to some of the latest figures the FT website saw a 79 per cent year-on-year increase in registered users in 2010, taking the total to more than three million. There has also been a reported 50 per cent increase in digital subscriptions on 2009, with 207,000 registering, and 900,000 downloads of FT apps on mobile phones and tablet devices for the period.

And now it is planning on using this vast data, which it has accrued as a result of its business model, to improve and inform the editorial content offered to its users – and that’s through personalised news.

It is about using insight to power the delivery of the content on the site. We have a fantastic rich picture of what our readers like about the content, how they consume it, and we have an opportunity to use that insight to deliver to people the content that they want.

I caught up with Grimshaw at the end of the panel debate to hear more about the plans:

Listen!

Similarly John Barnes, managing director of digital at Incisive Media – and who is speaking at news:rewired, noise to signal later this month – echoed the value of knowledge when it comes to the audience.

I think business-to-business publishers went after the numbers and lost sight of the fact we should have a deep knowledge of our readers.

With the proliferation of platforms and operating systems, technology can make you a busy fool. For example we hear about digital magazines or iPad apps – what is the right way to go? Well maybe the right way is to not go quickly, or not at all.

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