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Shane Richmond: The value of reader comments to online newspapers

April 23rd, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Telegraph Media Group’s head of technology Shane Richmond weighs in on a debate about the value of comments left by readers on newspaper websites.

Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis recently suggested a turnaround in his view on reader comments: “I defended [newspaper] comments for years. But the problem is that comments are too often the voice of assholes.” He added in a blog post: “[C]omments are an insult because they come only after media think they’re done creating a product, which they then allow the public to react to.”

This prompted a response from Ilana Fox, who ran online communities for the Sun and Mail Online, disagreeing with Jarvis and arguing that the majority of people interacting with newspapers online aren’t “assholes” at all.

Richmond says both are right – his post is worth reading in full – and makes a particular point about the effect of journalists’ involvement in comment threads:

Jeff makes the point that inviting readers in after the fact is disrespectful, which is what leads to the unconstructive nature of much commenting. But I’ve noticed that engagement by journalists breeds a culture of respect. If journalists join the conversation, they are more likely to be respected by readers.

I don’t think the “true collaboration” that Jeff would like to see is a replacement for commenting. Many people are happy to comment and don’t want to do more. True collaboration builds on the work we’ve done so far. And it is a goal that many of us are working towards.

Full post at this link…

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Nieman Reports: Latest edition focuses on journalism and social media

This quarter’s Nieman Reports, from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, has too many good articles in one place to select just one as an Editor’s Pick – so here’s a link to the whole index of pieces on journalism and social media.

Some highlights include:

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Shane Richmond: Why the Drudge Report hasn’t ‘lost its edge’

September 15th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Shane Richmond responds to last week’s New York Observer article on the allegedly waning influence of the Drudge Report.

Looking at its audience, impact and design, Richmond argues that the news aggregator, which broke the media blackout on Price Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan, still has its edge:

“For his audience, Drudge is a kind of search engine but one that has already answered their question,” he writes.

“It’s a simple idea, executed brilliantly. The Drudge Report is a page of search results, handpicked for an audience its author knows well.”

Full post at this link…

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Journalism Daily: Trinity Mirror’s Midlands consultation, Wikipedia’s editorial changes and the industry chicken and egg conundrum

August 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism Daily

A daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site. You can also sign up to our e-newsletter and subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

News and features:

Ed’s picks:

Tip of the day:

#FollowJourn:

On the Editors’ Blog:

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Essential journalism links for students

June 30th, 2009 | 9 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Training

This list is doing the rounds under the headline 100 Best Blogs for Journalism Students… and we’re not on it. Nope, not even a smidgeon of link-love for poor old Journalism.co.uk there.

The BachelorsDegreeOnline site appears to be part of e-Learners.com, but it’s not clear who put the list together. Despite their omission of our content and their rather odd descriptions (e.g: Adrian Monck: ‘Adrian Monck writes this blog about how we inform ourselves and why we do it’), we admit it is a pretty comprehensive list; excellent people and organisations we feature on the site, our blog roll and Best of Blogs mix – including many UK-based ones. There were also ones we hadn’t come across before.

In true web 2.0 self-promotional style, here are our own links which any future list-compilers might like to consider as helpful links for journalism students:

And here are some blogs/sites also left off the list which immediately spring to mind as important reading for any (particularly UK-based) journalism students:

Organisations

  • Crikey.com: news from down under that’s not Murdoch, or Fairfax produced.
  • Press Review Blog (a Media Standards Trust project) – it’s a newbie, but already in the favourites.
  • StinkyJournalism: it’s passionate and has produced many high-profile stories

Individuals

  • CurryBet – Martin Belam’s links are canny, and provocative and break down the division between tech and journalism.
  • Malcolm Coles – for SEO tips and off-the-beaten track spottings.
  • Dave Lee – facilitating conversations journalists could never have had in the days before blogs.
  • Marc Vallee – photography freedom issues from the protest frontline.
  • FleetStreetBlues: an anonymous industry insider with jobs, witty titbits and a healthy dose of online cynicism.
  • Sarah Hartley previously as above, now with more online strategy thrown in.
  • Charles Arthur – for lively debate on PR strategy, among other things

Writing this has only brought home further the realisation that omissions are par for the course with list-compilation, but it does inspire us to do our own 101 essential links for global online journalists – trainees or otherwise. We’d also like to make our list inclusive of material that is useful for, but not necessarily about, journalists: MySociety for example.

Add suggestions below, via @journalismnews or drop judith at journalism.co.uk an email.

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TBC at high noon? Telegraph-Guardian spats

The latest ‘Twackdown’ seems unlikely to be the end of the Telegraph-Guardian or, to be absolutely fair, Guardian-Telegraph frictions.

After all, in just under an hour we’ll know who is top of the ABCe pops for this month…

So, this week’s Twitterfall spat from Malcolm Coles: ‘That Shane Richmond / Charles Arthur Twackdown in full’.

Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur has the last word [to date] in a comment beneath the post: “I’d only point out that this was a far more multidimensional discussion than this portrays.”

Another row a’brewing with this? The Guardian reports ‘anger’ at the Telegraph over Guido’s Spectator article.

(And while we’re on Guido, it’s interesting to note that Guido himself was in the Guardian building this weekvia Jon Slattery)

Update: In the March 2009 ABCe audit, as released at midday, the Telegraph tops the table of six national newspaper titles with the highest number of unique users, followed in second place by the Guardian.

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First video ‘splash’ for Telegraph.co.uk

July 23rd, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

An update to Twitter from Telegraph.co.uk communities editor Shane Richmond suggests the paper is breaking more new ground with its videojournalism.

News of the sentencing of John Darwin, who faked his own disappearance in 2002, and his wife Anne was broken on the site using the video below:

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A lesson in SEO from Charlie Brooker

July 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Search

Following the surge of comments generated by Charlie Brooker’s Comment is Free article, he’s asking this week what impact search engine optimisation could have on the quality of journalism online.

To take his point to the extreme Brooker gives us a fully SEO-ready article complete with celebrity names, certain pharmaceutical brands and political links (I’d mention them by name but that would start a kind of SEO vicious circle for this post).

As one commenter points out, Brooker’s got it spot on – at the time of writing his article occupies the top five slots when you Google the key SEO terms shown below:

Jokes aside – Telegraph.co.uk’s Shane Richmond has given us some insight into the site’s SEO strategy, would be good to hear what might be going on with the Guardian.

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While we were away… EveryBlock, LoudounExtra, BBC plans and more

June 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Magazines

In case you hadn’t noticed, Journalism.co.uk was in Sweden last week covering the World Association of Newspapers annual conference and the World Editors Forum.

So no one misses out, here’s a round-up of what went down while we were away:

Guardian: BBC ends ‘licence fee’ plans for international news website
The Beeb has dropped proposals for subscription-based access to BBC.com

WSJ.com: Analysis of hyperlocal news site LoudounExtra.com
Following the departure of Rob Curley, chief architect behind the Washington Post spin-off site, WSJ asks if the site has found its audience a year into the project.

Editor&Publisher: 94 newspapers join Yahoo partnership
A total of 779 newspapers now have access to the search engine’s advertising technology and HotJobs ads.

Daily Mail: Sir Ian Blair advocates use of celebrity news videos as evidence in drug trials
Footage, such as the Sun’s infamous Amy Winehouse video and of Kate Moss snorting a white substance, should be presented to the jury in such cases, Blair has said.

Guardian: BBC’s new plans for personalisation of website
Plans to create a new rating, recommendation and personalisation system across bbc.co.uk will be put to the BBC Trust, according to the corporation’s latest programme policy statement.

Editor’s Weblog: Washington Post launches online publishing company
The Slate Group will feature a host of digital titles including Slate and The Root, with additional launches planned.

Telegraph.co.uk: Update on revamp of community blogging platform MyTelegraph
Communities editor Shane Richmond says a relaunch date will be announced by the end of next week.

Matthew Ingram: Globe and Mail removes pay wall
Number of subscribers was not enough to maintain the wall, says Ingram, who works for the paper. Some readers remain unconvinced, he says, pointing out one comment: “You can’t shut us out for a few years and then expect us to come back just because it’s free.”

MediaShift: Everyblock releases first special report
The hyperlocal data and news site has mapped information from a recent Chicago police bribery investigation as part of its first special report.

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Guardian publishes string of anti-Telegraph stories – cue spat

May 28th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Traffic

While the Daily Mail allegedly has a gentlemen’s agreement with the Telegraph not to write about each other’s parent company, it hardly seems worth pointing out that no such pact exists between the Guardian and the Telegraph online.

Over the last month a series of articles published by Guardian.co.uk has alleged various problems with or criticised Telegraph.co.uk.

The latest links the MyTelegraph section with the BNP for a second time in little over a week, detailing a blog post on the platform by BNP member Richard Barnbrook entitled ‘Blame the immigrants’.

The Guardian first made the connection between the party and MyTelegraph with an article looking into managing online communities that discussed MyT under the provocative headline ‘Platform for free speech … or hate?’ and went on to say one user ‘publishes BNP campaign literature and flyers’ on the site.

On both occasions the Telegraph emphasised the free speech ethos behind MyT, which is policed by readers who are relied upon to report offensive material.

The policy seems to be working – Barnbrook’s post has attracted over 30 comments including several from the hang ‘um and flog ‘um brigade alongside more measured anti-BNP responses.

MyTelegraph’s problems at the end of last year, as the technology firm behind its development went into administration, were also documented recently by the Guardian:

“Telegraph Media Group’s community media site MyTelegraph ‘is on life support’ until it receives an overhaul this summer, the company’s communities editor said today.

“Shane Richmond told the PPA Magazines 2008 conference that the site had suffered periodic downtime, slow page-loads and instability since the company which built it, Interesource, went in to administration late last year.”

I was there, he did say that, but then again he’d already blogged about it months before.

But then again, again. He DID say it, so it’s fair to report him saying it.

In addition to this last month’s ABCe figures showing that the Telegraph site passed the Guardian for the first time to become the UK’s most popular newspaper website in terms of unique users, seem only to have fanned the competitive fire.

The Guardian was the first to delve into the Telegraph’s recent rapid growth in unique users – from 12,283,835 in February to 17,036,081 in March, and 18,646,112 in April – suggesting a switch in internal measurement tools may have prompted the surge.

Continuing the series of pieces on the Telegraph’s online traffic – and there are a few of them now – the Guardian suggests that a review of online traffic measurement announced by JICWEBS last week was sparked by publishers concerns over the Telegraph’s recent growth.

All fair news pieces from the Guardian? Surely there can be no complaint with their reporting factual news? Well, yes there can.

After the publication of the latest Guardian piece today, Telegraph communities editor Shane Richmond came out fighting, accusing the Guardian of hypocrisy and arguing that if the charge leveled at the Telegraph is one of giving a platform to racists and fanatics then it is a charge that could well be applied to the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog.

“How about we take the view that when you have an open platform, whether it’s My Telegraph, Comment Is Free, or the internet itself, then you have to accept that a multiplicity of views will be expressed on it and that some of those views will be unpalatable to some people,” he wrote.

“If the Guardian’s attacks on our site are motivated by genuine concern, then they should look closer to home first. However, I suspect that this sustained criticism has more to do with sour grapes over recent audience trends.”

Stories about other publishers are fair game and healthy competition between the titles is to be encouraged.

But take the BNP stories and the numerous stories about the Telegraph’s web advances en masse and one may begin to wonder when healthy news reporting begins to border on the obsessive?

UPDATE – the ‘debate’ continues with a post from Shane Richmond in response to a comment left by Comment is Free editor Matt Seaton on his Telegraph.co.uk blog

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