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Five key courses for journalists in September

July 31st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Training

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Did you know that Journalism.co.uk organises one-day, evening and online training courses? We provide new skills to trained journalists. We are aware that we all need to keep learning, so we offer intensive and practical training in areas such as data journalism, social media and online video.

Rather than bringing in trainers who spend little time in a newsroom, we like to invite people to lead courses who are working journalists or who spend a large proportion of their of their time practicing a key skill.

And as our trainers are professionals taking a day out of their normal schedule to share their skills, these courses don’t take place very often. It is the first time that we are offering courses run by Luke Lewis from BuzzFeed and by Glen Mulcahy from Irish broadcaster RTE.

We have a great line up for September. You can click the links to find out more.

1. Data journalism (4 September)

Paul Bradshaw is a data journalism expert and is running this course which will get you started in dealing with data. You’ll be able to use data as a source of stories and learn how to present information online.

Paul divides his time between being a visiting professor at City University, London, course leader for the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, and a freelance trainer, speaker and writer. He founded Help Me Investigate, a platform for crowdsourcing investigative journalism, and the Online Journalism Blog.

2. Growing social media communities (19 September)

Luke Lewis, the editor of BuzzFeed UK and former editor of NME.com, is leading a course on growing social media communities. Interested in finding out how to make your posts go viral? Then sign up to the course.

This course has a great venue too. It’s being hosted by VICE UK in Shoreditch.

3. Mobile journalism (19 September)

Glen Mulcahy has been key to introducing iPhone and iPad reporting at Irish broadcaster RTE. In this one-day course he is leading you will learn how to shoot and edit broadcast-quality footage using an iPhone or iPad.

If you think you know how to use your phone, take a peek at this course description and you will probably realise that Glen can teach you some valuable lessons. (And if you want to see the quality of his teaching skills, take a quick look at this video of him presenting at news:rewired.)

This course is taking place in the building in London Victoria which is home to MSN UK and Microsoft.

4. Open data for journalists (19 September)

Kathryn Corrick and Ulrich Atz are experts in open data. This course takes place at the Open Data Institute, which launched earlier this year having been founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

This course is designed to provide journalists with an introduction to open data.

5. Online video (30 September)

Adam Westbrook is a multimedia producer and has been a key voice in the development of online video. He is running a one-day course in which you can learn how to shoot and edit video. Cameras and an editing suite are provided.

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Beet.TV: The New York Times, real-time advertising and Twitter trending data

February 19th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick
Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by petesimon on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Beet.TV has an interesting video with Michael Zimbalist, vice president for research & development, and operations at the New York Times, in which he discusses a new advertising tool called Spark which utilises the Times’s data on stories trending on social media.

According to Beet.TV the tool “serves display advertising into stories as they are trending on Twitter, matched with the demographics of the users who ‘touch’ the story on the social network”.

In the video Zimbalist adds that the Times has been “tracking mentions of Times content in Twitter for a really long time”.

As a result the news outlet has “been able to look at different types of content and different people who spread the content and begin to model out which content will start trending”.

See a video of the discussion below:

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Hurricane Sandy and verification: 4 key takeaways from Storyful Hangout

Copyright: Image by MTA Long Island Rail Road on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Hurricane Sandy presented a challenge to journalists using social media channels: how can you be sure that the content you are seeing is accurate?

Storyful, an organisation that specialises in finding verifiable news on social media, hosted a Google+ Hangout yesterday on verification during Hurricane Sandy.

The guests were Adam Blenford, the online news editor at BBC News; Liz Heron, social media director at the Wall Street Journal; Aine Kerr, the US politics director at Storyful; Tom Phillips, the international editor at MSN, Craig Silverman, who writes the Regret the Error blog at Poynter; Paul Watson, chief technical officer at Storyful and a group of students from Griffith College Dublin.

Journalism.co.uk was listening in. Here are four main points that came out of the discussion:

1. Users care about the accuracy of the information they receive from news organisations.

Adam Blenford said: “If they don’t think they’re worried about verification per se as a concept, they’re worried about the trustworthiness of the organisations that they’re using to get their news from.”

Liz Heron said every time the Wall Street Journal posts a photo on Facebook – which will have first been verified by the news outlet – users will still question the authenticity of the image, even if taken by a professional photographer.

“There’s such high suspicion now among our readers and viewers that I think it’s really important, especially in a situation like covering Sandy, to be really obvious and clear about the fact that this has been verified. There’s huge suspicion out there about this kind of stuff, even for professional photography,” she said.

2. To get people interested in the verification process, it has to be as compelling as the fake content.

Craig Silverman mentioned The Atlantic, which embedded a “verdict” on images, and Buzzfeed, which put together a quiz on real and fake images, as examples of organisations that had done something a bit different with their verification processes.

“This is content people are really interested in, it’s useful to them but there are also ways to make it fun and interesting. I think that’s actually been very key to helping the real images or at least the verdict on the fake ones spread,” he said.

Tom Phillips agreed, saying there is a “need to make the verification process as compelling in terms of content as the thing it’s verifying, because if we’re not doing that then it’s going to get lost.”

3. Journalists should be wary of broadcasting debunked fake content because there is a risk users may misinterpret it as genuine.

Craig Silverman added: “The risk that is always there, however, [is] that when you actually put that tweet out there, even if you’re noting it as false, there are people who are still going to read it and who then may actually retweet it without that context of saying it’s false”.

4. A few fundamental journalistic principles can help ensure you are not fooled by fake content.

Liz Heron gave the example of using the live video stream of the New York Stock Exchange, which proved that the rumour it was under three feet of water was untrue. She added that often the simplest way to verify something was to contact the original source directly.

Adam Blenford also added that “it appears that the closer and more finely-tuned your Twitter lists and your Twitter stream was towards New York on the night of the storm, the less likely you were to get hoaxed”.

“That’s the old adage if you can get closer to the story, you’re more likely to get it right.”

In other news…

While on the subject of social media sharing, Twitter stated on Sunday (9 December) that Instagram photos would no longer appear integrated on the platform. Tweets will instead only link to an Instagram picture. In a statement published by the BBC, Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom said it was felt that “the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives”.

Markham Nolan, managing editor at Storyful, told Journalism.co.uk this was an “inconvenience” for journalists specialising in verification.

“It was very easy to click in and out, have a quick glance and do the initial check,” he said.

But he added that he did not think it would “slow down the deeper verification”.

“It just means you have to click out of your Twitter stream every time you want to see an Instagram picture to see if it’s useful or see if it’s something worth verifying,” he added.

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Study: Fewer UK journalists feel social media improves productivity in 2012 than in 2011

September 19th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

Image by Adikos on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

An annual study into how UK journalists feel social media impacts on their work was announced this week by Canterbury Christ Church University and public relations and media services outlet Cision.

The report’s findings are based on 769 responses from UK journalists. According to a release from the university the study found an “increasing number of concerns about productivity, privacy and the future of journalism”.

For example, the number of journalists who said they felt social media improved their productivity fell from 49 per cent in 2011 to 39 per cent in 2012.

At the same time, the percentage of those who disagreed that social media improved productivity increased from 20 per cent to 34 per cent. Journalists were also less positive this year about the impact of social media on their relationships with their audience.

In general, they think that social media allows greater engagement with their audience, but the number who strongly agreed with that sentiment dropped from 43 per cent to 27 per cent.

The study can be downloaded from Cision. For more on the findings see this report by the Drum.

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#wef12: Why news outlets must embrace a participatory culture

Image by shawncampbell on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Image by shawncampbell on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Outlining the shift in the way news is distributed and consumed today, Al Jazeera’s head of social media Riyaad Minty said news organisations need to understand that they “do not break the news anymore”.

The role of breaking news is now carried out by the people, Minty explained. And “people trust people first, before they trust an organisation” – highlighting the need for news outlets to embrace the participatory culture.

We are no longer the gatekeepers of information as media professionals … need to understand the shift and embrace it.

And if a news outlet is able to harness the crowd in its operations, it becomes part of a “virtuous circle” which ultimately means people come back to the news outlet.

Founder of social newswire Storyful, Mark Little, added that the service news outlets offer to users is not an exclusive right to content, it is trust.

Therefore there is “no fear anymore” for any news outlet to include external content in their own output, he added.

We don’t own content. What they are paying for – if they’re paying at all – is their trust in you.

And this will “require a real shift” in mindset, he added.

We have to become far more humble as journalists, we are now members of the community people look to and engage with… We don’t own the news anymore.

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Guardian US, #smarttakes and ‘pop-up aggregation’

The Guardian’s US operation announced yesterday the launch of a new socially-driven aggregation series, #smarttakes.

According to a post on Comment Is Free the new project will see the introduction of “a pop-up aggregation tool that collects standout pieces of commentary and analysis from Guardian readers”.

We’ve been experimenting with the concept in recent weeks, like when the drone scandal broke, when Facebook went public and when the Montreal protests erupted. As of today, pop-up aggregation has a permanent home on the Guardian.

Currently the project is US only. The project will see users involved by tweeting about comment pieces with the #smarttakes hashtag. According to the Guardian announcement “great recommendations will also get retweeted from @GuardianUS”.

Hatip: Nieman Journalism Lab.

Reporting on the new development Nieman adds that the Guardian will also offer a “curated roundup” on the series’ page.

also spoke to Amanda Michel, open editor for the Guardian but who was previously involved in setting up #MuckReads at ProPublica, the non-profit’s “ongoing collection of watchdog reporting elsewhere”. The Nieman post highlights some of the lessons Michel learnt with #MuckReads:

Over email, Michel told me one lesson from #MuckReads was how to create a long-term commitment to using a hashtag. That helps not just to populate the project, but to build support, she said.

On the subject of open journalism at the Guardian, we recently spoke to national editor Dan Roberts about some of the lessons learned from the Guardian’s UK projects such as its open newslist experiment and Reality Check blog.

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How important are ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons to news publishers?

 

A conversation was sparked on the effect of social media sharing buttons by the designer Oliver Reichenstein on his blog informationArchitects. In the post titled Sweep the Sleaze he writes:

But do these buttons work? It’s hard to say. What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands — and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit.

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If you provide excellent content, social media users will take the time to read and talk about it in their networks. That’s what you really want. You don’t want a cheap thumbs up, you want your readers to talk about your content with their own voice.

The Tweet and Like buttons, followed by their lesser rivals Google’s +1 and LinkedIn share buttons are now ubiquitous on news websites. Visitors to the Huffington Post in January 2008 would have been given the option to share an article via Digg, Reddit and Delicious. Now they are given up to 20 ways to share an article just via Facebook alone. Users are certainly being bombarded by myriad sharing options, they are not always that pretty and Reichenstein is approaching the issue as a minimalist designer.

But is Reichenstein right?

Joshua Benton at Nieman Journalism Lab did a little digging into the effectiveness of the Tweet button for a variety of news publishers. Using a Ruby script written by Luigi Montanez , Benton analysed the last 1000 tweets from 37 news sites to find the percentage of tweets emanating from the site’s Tweet button.

The analysis comes with a few caveats so it’s well worth reading the full article but the take-away is that people are using the Tweet button. Of the news sites analysed most had 15 to 30 per cent of their Twitter shares come via their Tweet buttons. Importantly, they act as a starting point to get content onto Twitter and can lead to further retweets or modified retweets.

Facebook Likes are a different story. They are far less visible on another user’s news feeds, especially after Facebook changed the amount of output its Social News feed spits out.

At least one publisher has found positives to removing the Facebook Like button from their site, claiming it increased referrals from Facebook:

Jeff Sonderman writing at Poynter hypothesises there is a strange tension created by having a sharing button on news articles:

One argument in favor of sharing buttons is the psychological phenomenon of “social proof,” where a person entering a new environment tends to conform to the behavior demonstrated by others. How does that apply? The tally of previous shares on a given article could offer social proof to the next reader that it is indeed worth reading and sharing — “just look at all these other people who already have!”

But in this case, social proof is not the only force at work. We also know that many people share content because it makes them look smart and well-informed. Part of that is being among the first to have shared it, and thus not sharing something that’s already well-circulated. In this way, a sharing button could limit the potential spread of your best content.

These buttons are being used but news publishers need to think about how they are being used and how engaged the users of them are. Sonderman thinks Reichenstein gets close to the mark when he states:

If you’re unknown, social media buttons make you look like a dog waiting for the crumbs from the table … That button that says “2 retweets” will be read as: “This is not so great, but please read it anyway? Please?”

If you’re known and your text is not that great the sleaze buttons can look greedy and unfair (yes, people are jealous). “1280 retweets and you want more?—Meh, I think you got enough attention for this piece of junk.”

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Online news startups need help converting readers into supporters

A report by the Washington DC-based J-Lab has found that even though online news startups have access to a wide range of social media tools, they struggle with how to measure their impact. Respondents to the survey, which was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, said Facebook and Twitter were important for alerting readers to new stories but they did not know how to monitor meaningful engagement.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 278 “digital-first” startups who responded to the survey said they did not have the means to measure whether their social media engagement strategies were converting readers into donors, advertisers, contributors or volunteers.

Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab’s Institute for Interactive Journalism said:

These small sites can measure interaction with their content, but they don’t have good tools to measure meaningful engagement. This affects both the future of their operations and the impact they can have in their communities.

New analytics tools give news startups some useful data, but survey respondents said their top metric for measuring engagement was still website uniques and page views. One respondent said:

We feel these numbers only give us part of the information we need. We’re interested not just in breadth of engagement but more in depth of engagement.

The report identified a “broadcast” mentality as a weakness in measuring audience engagement. It recommends a number of best practices for news startups when measuring engagement and urged training in the use of currently available analytics tools like ThinkUp, Google Analytics and Hootsuite.

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#GEN2012: Interactive graphics case studies from the Guardian

May 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Online Journalism

The Guardian’s Alastair Dant took the the stage at the News World Summit in Paris today to share the news outlet’s approach to using interactivity to present data and stories to their audience.

Dant, who leads the interactive team at the Guardian, said types of interactives include those which plot “paths through space and time”, and those which work to relay “the roar of the crowd”.

Here are some of the interactives he showcased to delegates:

  • Afghanistan war logs

The Guardian produced two major interactives around the war logs. Dant spoke about one which shows all IED attacks on civilians, coalition and Afghan troops from 2004 to 2009 recorded in the war logs. The interactive allows users to “drag the date along the bar, to see where and who they hit over these five years”.

The team also produced a graphic showing a selection of 300 “significant incidents” from the logs, linking through to each full log entry.

  • World Cup 2010 Twitter replay

Dant said the team had a “very fuzzy brief” from the editorial team who wanted to “capture the excitement” around the games. As a result the team produced a “Twitter replay” which consisted of recording all conversations on Twittier and analysing them “to find out how word popularity changes over time”.

As a result the interative offers 90 minutes of football in 90 seconds, based on Twitter reactions.

  • Rupert Murdoch: How Twitter tracked the MPs’ questions – and the pie

And the team re-employed this technique of “relaying the roar of the crowd” when Rupert and James Murdoch appeared before the culture select committee last year

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Bitly launches ‘bitmark’ social bookmarking service

May 29th, 2012 | 28 Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

Bitly, the popular link shortener used by the BBC, Independent, Daily Telegraph and many other news websites, has today announced its ‘bitmark’ service.

Anyone who uses social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Pinterest will be familiar with the idea of saving and sharing articles they find interesting. Bitly has added this functionality to its already popular link shortening service.

As Bitly explains on its blog:

So, what are bitmarks? It’s a better name for bookmarks. Bitmarks are the interesting links you collect across the web — a hard to find recipe, an article, an awesomely hysterical video. It’s anything that you find and want to save and maybe even want to easily share. You can organise them into bundles based on a theme or share them with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, and email. You decide whether each bitmark gets published to your public profile or saved privately, so that only you can see it.

Since Bitly started in 2008 more than 25 billion links have been shortened on the site, according to the company. More than 80 million links are shortened on Bitly every day and they are clicked on 300 million times. Its easy-to-use analytics makes it popular with publishers that want to track their social media reach.

Until now it has been used a tool rather than a destination page, but the company hopes the new focus on social bookmarking will foster a community around the site.

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