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Editorial job losses at Express Newspapers reduced from 70 following union talks

September 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

As reported on Journalism.co.uk in August, Northern & Shell, owners of Express Newspapers and OK! magazine, announced plans to make 70 journalists at its newspaper titles – Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star – redundant.

Now the company has reduced the overall number of cuts at the newspapers from 90 to 75. This means the number of journalism jobs cut would be reduced from 70 to between 52 and 57 – a figure reported by the Guardian and confirmed to Journalism.co.uk by the National Union of Journalists.

“The reduction in job cuts was only announced after the NUJ had warned the company that they were not following the right procedure,” said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary.

Stanistreet, a former Express Newspapers union representative, attended talks with the company this week.

“While we welcome the reduced numbers we still don’t know how the papers can be produced with the few people who will be left. We want to see some proper plans and we want guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies.”

Last year 80 Daily and Sunday Express redundancies were proposed by Northern & Shell, to cut the number of staff sub-editors, long-term regular casual sub-editors and other casual journalism staff.

Last year’s cutbacks included the introduction of a new working week pattern for sub-editing staff at the paper and a production system, which would allow some staff to write directly onto page templates without the need for sub-editors.

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The new Student Publication Association needs to converse with existing communities

August 7th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Training

Josh Halliday, an undergraduate journalism student at the University of Sunderland and InJournalism editor, takes a look at a new student organisation. A version of this post originally appeared on his blog. A disclosure: he launched Euro CollegeJourn, an online student community, earlier this year.

The UK-centric Student Publication Association will be a ‘national representative body’ for student publications ‘which supports student publications and their contributors by offering guidance, knowledge sharing, links in to the industry and become a forum for all involved,’ according to notes from a preliminary meeting last week, which I have permission to quote from.

These early developments suggest that online resources will be central to the SPA (or SJA according to their website.) Such online resources will seek to provide information and resources regarding good practice and legal issues.

Member publications will have the option to upload their content to the SPA website allowing for ‘affiliated publications’ and industry experts to see their work and, presumably, offer feedback and advice.

There is also plans for an ‘alumni association’ to allow for ‘strong industry contacts to be sustained and have a base of knowledge and experience which affiliated member publications can use to their advantage’.

Regarding the set-up, there will be nine regional representatives whose job it is to report back to a central body, enabling the Association to make ‘informed decisions about how it should operate and run itself’. The regions represented are: London and East Anglia, South East England, South West England, the Midlands, North East England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Now my take. Any organisation which acts as a forum for student journalists and student journalism can only be a good thing.

I think the SPA would do well to get in touch with, and be inspired by, CoPress in the US. CoPress are, in their own words, an ‘organization dedicated to providing college news outlets with the technical resources and support network they need to innovate online’.

Look at what they’ve done with a wiki, a forum, published conference calls, engagement with the online community through social media; all ‘best practice’ essentials, in my opinion.

I admit, when I received the email from the SPA, it concerned me that it was the first I’d heard of their plans.

It would have been good to see mention of it on Tomorrows’ News, Tomorrow’s Journalists, a purpose-built forum for student journalists.

Similarly, with Euro CollegeJourn. Even though my project is currently on a summer hiatus it would have been good to see Association members involved with it.

In the hope the SPA will join the existing and evolving online conversation. I’ve reserved a Twitter account especially for them. It’s @StudentJournUK – take it, it’s yours.

Nonetheless, I wish the Association every luck. What better time can there be for meaningful collaborative work between journalism students?

What would you like to see a representative body for student journalists and student publications do? How could they help you out? Leave a comment below.

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Liz Jones on confessional journalism: “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone”

Liz Jones, a confessional journalist who needs little introduction, got to plug her book and share the most recent of her woes and pets in an Observer Woman feature yesterday.

Rachel Cooke, who once worked with her, took a shrewd and not exactly flattering look at Jones and the ‘Faustian pact’ the former Marie Claire editor seems to have with her personal columns (eg. an account of her single life in the Sunday Times, the ‘Wedding Planner’ series in the Guardian, and currently in the Sunday Mail.)

Confessional journalism as a trade has generated some criticism lately (Hadley Freeman here, for example; Jill Parkin here, for example); here was our latest chance to find out just why columnists do it. Cooke wrote:

“(…)The trouble is that the kind of writing she does leaves her marooned on a sad little island of self from which there is, apparently, no way back to shore. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” she [Jones] says. Well, why not stop, then? No one is forcing her to skin herself in public. “I could stop now, but I’ve destroyed lots of things already, so what would be the point? But if I was given the choice again, I probably wouldn’t have written about myself. It’s so difficult!” Difficult? “You have to be very brutal: you have to talk about your failings.”(…)”

In a related aside, that other doyenne of confess all to all, Tanya Gold, took part in BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions last week. Her final comment:  “I despise Twitter – I would like to talk to a real person.” Funny that. Maybe the bride berated by Gold for compiling a wedding list might have liked to receive criticism in person too, rather than via Guardian.co.uk.

What do you think of female-orientated journalism in the UK? Are sections like Observer Woman and Femail necessary or relevant in 2009? Where are the best places to find representative portrayals of female subject matter? The best blogs? Or is there even such a thing as ‘female subject matter’? Journalism.co.uk is pulling together some thoughts for a forthcoming feature. Please do get in touch with yours.

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Second dose of Stephen Fry: transcript from Digital Britain – ‘I don’t need to be re-skilled into anything’

May 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Another dose of Fry this morning, in an earlier post we reproduced yesterday’s comments to the BBC about journalists and expenses.

Courtesy of Malcolm Coles, here is the full transcript [below video] of Stephen Fry’s presentation at Digital Britain on April 17. Fry’s appearance caused a little stir that day, not least for the way he was introduced onto the stage by the BBC’s Nick Higham:

“Stephen is, one of the organisers told me beforehand, the representative at this conference of the ordinary person, frankly: if that’s what someone thinks the ordinary person is like, then someone needs to take them aside and fill them in…”

Some of Fry’s comments relate to technology more broadly, but some interesting points on media, and keeping the web ‘organic':

“You talk about the BBC doing a digital switchover, as if that’s the same thing as the world-wide web.”

“We’re moving from a world, in which no-one knew or saw the point of, online world, into something [where] everybody has reserved to themselves some special insight into how it’s to affect us.”

More »

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PewResearchCenter: “Many Americans wouldn’t care ‘a lot’ if local papers folded”

March 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

“As many newspapers struggle to stay economically viable, fewer than half of Americans (43 per cent) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community ‘a lot’. Even fewer (33 per cent) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot if it were no longer available,” reports the Pew Research Center, as part of the News Interest Index project.

(…’[D]ata relating to news coverage were collected from March 2-8, 2009 and survey data measuring public interest in the top news stories of the week were collected March 6-9, 2009 from a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adults’.)

Full report at this link…

(thanks: @amonck)

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GlobalVoicesOnline: 270 proposals for citizen media projects – the five best

In January Rising Voices, part of GlobalVoices, received over 270 proposals from activists, bloggers, and NGOs: ‘all wanting to use citizen media tools to bring new communities – long ignored by both traditional and new media – to the conversational web,’ writes David Sasaki.

“It was, by far, the highest number of proposals Rising Voices has ever received in its two-year history of supporting citizen media training projects.”

Five were chosen as ‘most representative of the innovation, purpose and goodwill that Rising Voices aims to support': Abidjan Blog Camps; Ceasefire Liberia; Real Experience of the Digital Era (China); Nomad Green (Mongolia); Empowerment of Women Activists in Media Techniques (Yemen).

Full story at this link…

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Updating timelines – help us keep them representative and accurate

Today sees the first week of Journalism.co.uk putting its new timelines and maps to use – a way of flagging up and documenting important journalism events each day.

We’ve had some good feedback via email and other blogs so far and we’d encourage you to either directly help edit them yourselves, or email us with things you’d like to see added (judith or laura at journalism.co.uk)

The idea is to keep these up-to-date with varied sources, and as frequently as necessary, so we will have built up a good resource to look back on for story research, or other purposes. You can add locations, links, video and photographs to each event.

Dipity is proving a good tool so far, although has a few problems (for example, the automated WordPress RSS feed seems to have disappeared in one of them). We’ll follow up with some more thoughts on using Dipity in the new year.

So link them, use them, and add to them if you feel so inclined. We hope you enjoy and find them useful.

Journalism industry job losses tracked here.

International journalism media freedom tracked here.

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BBC tracks shipping container in multimedia news experiment

September 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia

The BBC’s business and economics unit has embarked on a new multimedia editorial project aimed at improving the storytelling of economic news.

The Box initiative is an attempt to ‘come up with a way of telling the real story of what’s happening in the global economy in a tangible, challenging and ambitious way’ across multiple BBC platforms, Jeremy Hillman, editor of the business and economics unit, writes on the BBC Editors Blog.

The box of the title refers to a BBC-branded shipping container equipped with a GPS transmitter, which will have its international journey tracked, updated and mapped on its own webpage.

“The journey this container follows over the next few months will be a real one, and whilst we will control some aspects of the process for logistical reasons, the story it tells will be a truly representative one, painting a picture of what globalisation really means,” writes Hillman.

The container began its journey in Southampton yesterday.

Hillman adds: “Whilst we have paid a little for the branding of the box and some technical costs, the fact this is a working container means it will be earning its own keep!”

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Behind the spin of Mecom’s half-year results

August 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Even former Mirror boss David Montgomery, who has a reputation as a ferocious cost-cutter, admits his new pan-European newspaper group Mecom cannot cost-cut its way out of a recession.

Shares in the company tumbled on the London Stock Exchange last week after the newspaper group failed to impress the market with its interim half-year results.

Perhaps jittery from all the recent talk of recession, investors did not appreciate the highly geared company’s reports of ‘worsening economic conditions’.

Despite Montgomery’s assurances that his business model is very different from that of UK newspapers – with subscription rates as high as 96 per cent in some of the countries Mecom operates in – alert observers noted that advertising still makes up 52 per cent of revenue.

No more title-specific news desks?
As widely reported, this does of course mean employees at the company, already disgruntled about redundancies on the table, will have to prepare for an even tighter ship in times ahead.

But there is more to this story: in a phone conference with employee representatives last week, Montgomery is reported to have admitted the company cannot cost-cut its way out of a recession; and emphasised that new ways of working and new streams of revenue were necessary for newspapers to have a profitable future.

He specifically highlighted two areas as key to the company’s future strategy: digital expansion, where its Norwegian division, Edda Media, is leading the pack with 9 per cent of its revenues from digital operations; and the media house strategy pioneered by Lisbeth Knudsen, the CEO of its Danish operation.

As Journalism.co.uk previously reported, Knudsen has reorganised her company’s titles into ‘verticals’ that deliver copy not only across platforms, but also titles – be they broadsheet, tabloid or regional newspapers. This, apparently, is to become the standard for all future media house strategy in Mecom.

Innovation exchange

“Mecom’s German division for instance – comprised of Berliner Zeitung, a national; Netzeitung, an online-only newspaper, and various magazine titles – should pay heed to these words. This model might be seen as a good fit for Germany,” an employee representative told me.

Mecom has also established an agreement that allows all Mecom countries to exchange software solutions developed in one country to another Mecom country without charge. The Reader’s Newspaper, a citizen journalism portal previously described by Journalism.co.uk, for instance, is to be exported from Norway to Denmark and Poland.

Another Norwegian export is a new range of hyper-local websites and freesheets Mecom is launching in Poland: Moje Miastro – a concept that has been operating for some time in Norway. The newspaper group, often portrayed as cash-starved and too much in debt, has also entered into an agreement to buy Edtytor Sp. z o.o., a regional newspaper business in Olsztyn. It has told employee representatives that the Polish expansion in new products was to blame for the dip in profits from its Polish arm.

Beware the ghost of recession

In other words, keeping an eye on innovations in the various parts of Mecom’s far-flung empire, can give useful pointers to what we can expect on group level.

Unfortunately for Mecom, a less fortunate trend spreading through the many European countries the company operates in is the ghost of recession.

In this age of globalisation, operating in more than one European country is no safe hedge against a market downturn, despite Montgomery indicating otherwise.

As Peter Kirwan recently wrote in his Press Gazette blog: “[W]hen it comes to the ad recession, we’re at the end of beginning, not the beginning of the end.”

In the summer months we have seen the footprints of recession appear in new territories such as Norway and Holland, causing the job and property classifieds markets to shrink – a sure sign that worse is yet to come.

For Mecom, the question is which is strongest, which will have the final say: the ability to come up with new innovative ways of doing business with less resources, or the clammy hand of a jittery market in the throes of recession?

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Ohio’s leading newspapers to share stories across web

April 24th, 2008 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Eight of the largest newspapers in the US state of Ohio have forged an alliance to share their top stories.

The Columbus Dispatch, The Toledo Blade, the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Akron Beacon Journal, The Plain Dealer are amongst newspapers making up the membership of the newly formed Ohio News Organisation (with the unfortunate acronym, OHNO).

Rather than relying to the Associated Press to decide at the end of each news day whether or not to distribute their stories, the papers will now post content to private website – accessible only to those eight newsrooms – from which partner organisations will be able to select pieces to use.

Ted Diadiun, readers representative for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote in his blog that readerships of individual paper would not be threatened as each covers a distinct city, and that story pooling would help them provide a better news service for readers.

“In today’s world, breaking news is measured in minutes, not days,” he wrote.

“It’s important that we provide our readers with the best news reports we can, as soon as we can, on our website and in the best and most current newspaper possible each day.”

All involved are adamant that the move doesn’t signal the end of journalistic competition.

However, no mention has been made on whether any money changes hands for the use of stories or whether AP will still syndicate the stories that are being placed in the new system.

It could just be a neat way to bypass the wire service and cut the cost of using its copy for local news.

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