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Mike Rawlins on how Pits n Pots offers ‘a proper good pub discussion’ around politics online

May 10th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Traffic

Mike Rawlins, founder of the Stoke-based political hyperlocal site Pits n Pots spoke at the regional Society of Editors meeting today, on the site’s origins and where it plans to move to in the future.

Born out of a desire to “see the city improve”, Rawlins argued that the site aimed to cater for a what he felt was a need for more discussion around local politics, adding that the site’s highly active comment threads today are like a “a proper good pub discussion”.

Pits n Pots holds a simple ethos:

  • no editing in audio interviews
  • no editing of video interviews
  • no spinning stories: it’s always just straight down the line
  • any political parties get to use the platform

As Pits n Pots is run by enthusiasts, rather than journalists, it focusses on providing the information, and allows the community to read into it. Not editing interviews also minimises the need for technical expertise.

The site has seen a rapid growth in traffic, moving from around 1,900 unique visitors a day, with 6,000 pageviews in December 2009, up to approximately 12,000 unique visitors and 30,000 pageviews a day in April and May of 2011 as the site provided far more comprehensive coverage of the local elections than the local press. Other successes for the site include providing live coverage of a Stoke on Trent EDL rally, and posting videos from their coverage of the day which resulted in them being the 2nd highest news channel on YouTube globally for two days.

Now supported by the Journalism Foundation, April 2012 saw Pits n Pots attempt a print format, produced by the journalism students at Staffordshire University, printing 50,000 copies. Journalism.co.uk reported that this one-off print edition, which was created as a marketing tool, helped to double Pits n Pots web traffic.

Rawlins says that the site will never be a full time job for him, but he hopes to employ a journalist in the future to progress the site, to facilitate better use of data, more investigative content, and allow better scrutiny of the local council.

He concluded that hyperlocal sites like Pits n Pots would never replace the local paper, and that they can coexist.

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Timetable for Press Awards announced

December 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards

The Society of Editors has announced the timetable for the Press Awards.

The awards, which celebrate the best in British newspaper journalism in 2011, include the Cudlipp Award, organised by the British Journalism Review, which recognises excellence in popular journalism and the Journalists’ Charity’s special award.

In a release, the Society of Editors announced changes to the awards programme.

There will be 33 categories of awards, including the splitting up of categories covering features, columns and interviews to reflect the different styles in newspapers and team awards that will be the basis for voting for the Newspaper of the Year that will be chosen by a special panel on achievements during the year across all platforms – print and online.

Timetable

A list of categories and instructions will be the Press Awards site from 10 December, entries open on 4 January and close on 24 January 2012. Shortlists will be announced on 17 February  and the awards ceremony will be held on 20 March.

The Society of Editors also announced that the Regional Press Awards that it revived last year will be presented at a ceremony in London on 25 May. Full details will be announced in January.

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#jpod in depth: Discussing the press self-regulation question after #soe11

November 18th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Podcast

The debate around the need for reform of the UK’s self-regulation of the press returned to the spotlight this week, as industry representatives joined to discuss the issue at the Society of Editors conference on Monday and Tuesday. Following the event we spoke to a number of leading journalism figures, to hear their views and find out where the industry may go from here.

In this week’s #jpod news editor Rachel McAthy speaks to editor of the Independent Chris Blackhurst, group managing director of Northcliffe Media Steve Auckland, director of the Press Complaints Commission Stephen Abell and director of the Media Standards Trust Martin Moore.

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

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#soe11: Winners of NCTJ awards for excellence

November 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards, Events

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) today announced the winners of its awards for excellence in journalism, before an audience of editors at the Society of Editors conference.

The 11 winners are listed below:

Student news journalism of the year: Scarlett Wrench, junior sub- editor at Men’s Health

Trainee news journalism of the year: Rachel Butler, trainee journalist at the Derby Telegraph

Student sports journalism of the year: Tim Groves, Planet Rugby/freelance

Trainee sports journalism of the year: Rob Setchell, the Cambridgeshire Times/Wisbech Standard

Student features of the year: Jessica Baldwin, freelance features writer

Trainee features of the year: Kate Proctor, chief writer for Limited Edition, Westmorland Gazette

Student top scoop of the year: Larisa Brown, Daily Mail graduate trainee

Trainee top scoop of the year: Andrew Dickens, Cambridge News trainee

Photographer of the year: Matthew Harrison, freelance

Reporter of the year: Robert Alderson, online editor for It’s Nice That

Student journalist of the year: Rosie Taylor, Daily Mail trainee reporter

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#soe10: Society of Editors conference looks on the bright side of life

November 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Events, Newspapers

John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcast journalism at Coventry University. He reports from the Society of Editors conference in Glasgow, which finished this morning.

Britain’s top newspaper editors were smiling, in public at least, as they met for the annual Society of Editors conference in Glasgow under the slogan ‘Have we got good news for you’. Circulations may be falling, print products hemorrhaging readers and advertising, but the local and national editors here were not going to be downcast and they heard from a succession of speakers inviting them to be positive.

Russian oligarch and Independent and Evening Standard owner Alexander Lebedev said in his opening lecture that he was proud of the two papers (and the new baby paper, i) that he owned in Britain and would continue to invest in exposing corruption. “Investigative journalism is something I want to invest in more.” he said in closing.

Jim Chisholm, CEO of the National Readership Survey, and Stewart Purvis, former partner responsible for content regulation and standards at Ofcom and now at City University, kept up the positive mood with their rosy views on readership data and the potential of youview to transform TV viewing and open the way to local television.

Media commentator Raymond Snoddy chaired a session called ’It ain’t dead and we’re fixing it’. Two young editors from the North East of England, Darren Thwaites of the Teesside Evening Gazette and Joy Yates of the Hartlepool Mail, continued in the same bright vein, showing how by campaigning and getting closer to their communities they were able to arrest some of the decline in sales of their papers.

It was left to veteran editor Derek Tucker of the Aberdeen Press and journal, who announced his retirement after 12 years in the editorial chair last week, to bring the first note of negativity with what he admitted were “Jurassic views” on the digital future and an astonishing attack on university journalism courses and the students who came out of them: “Very few possess the street cunning and inquisitiveness that is the hallmark of good journalists, and it often appears that English is a second language.”

That generated much comment from the journalism educators (“well meaning amateurs”, Tucker called them) in the audience.

It’s not known how long the Monty Python ‘Always look on the bright side’ theme can be kept up in view of the continuing crisis in the media industries.

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#soe10: Live coverage of the Society of Editors conference

November 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

The annual conference of the Society of Editors is in full swing – featuring star turns already from Alexander Lebedev and the society’s president Donald Martin.

More coverage from Journalism.co.uk is available at this link.

To follow tweets from delegates and speakers use the liveblog below. You can see full details of the programme at this link.

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The police’s “narrow” approach to phone hacking: not a crime if message had been listened to first

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger raised what he said was a little known fact about phone hacking evidence, in yesterday’s press regulation debate in the House of Lords.

He had been told by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Yates, he said, that the police only considered the interception of phone messages an offence if they hadn’t been listened to.

Once messages were stored after they were listened to by the recipient, subsequent access by a third party was not considered a criminal offence. The public should be aware of the “narrow definition” of phone hacking, the Guardian editor warned.

As reported in last week’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee report:

“The police also told us that under Section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) it is only a criminal offence to access someone’s voicemail message if they have not already listened to it themselves. This means that to prove a criminal offence has taken place it has to be proved that the intended recipient had not already listened to the message. This means that the hacking of messages that have already been opened is not a criminal offence and the only action the victim can take is to pursue a breach of privacy, which we find a strange position in law.”

The committee recommended that “Section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is amended to cover all hacking of phone messages”.

“Narrow definition” line is a “convenient PR shelter for Scotland Yard”, argues Davies

The Guardian’s evidence of widespread phone hacking attempts contradicted police reports that only a ‘handful’ of victims had been targeted, so Scotland Yard is trying to “justify its position” by raising the narrow legal definition of the criminal offence, Guardian journalist Nick Davies told Journalism.co.uk.

Davies also challenges the legality of any kind of phone hacking:

“The narrow legal definition is highly contentious. The idea is that it is illegal to listen to somebody’s voicemail only if they have not themselves already heard it. This not written in the law at all; it was clearly not parliament’s intention. It’s an interpretation – not one that has been tested and accepted by a court, simply something that was said during a legal conference at the Crown Prosecution Service while the police were investigating the original case.

“It was said by David Perry, Crown counsel in the case, but he didn’t even produce a written opinion and never mentioned it in court when [Clive] Goodman and [Glenn] Mulcaire came up.” A future court may or may not agree with this definition, Davies added. “At the moment, however, it is a convenient PR shelter for Scotland Yard who are embarrassed by their handling of the case.”

Satchwell claims phone hacking case has ‘grey areas’; challenges Guardian’s proof

The liveliest part of yesterday’s House of Lords debate came when executive director of the Society of Editors, Bob Satchwell, challenged some of the Guardian’s claims and insisted there were “grey areas” in the case.

Journalist Nick Davies vehemently disagrees: the black and white is there, he later told Journalism.co.uk, but newspapers and the Press Complaints Commission don’t want to see it.

“Satchwell says editors don’t know the truth about all the material confiscated by the Information Commissioner’s Office from [private investigator] Steve Whittamore in March 2003 because the ICO didn’t investigate it. That isn’t correct.

“The ICO analysed all the material and produced spreadsheets – one for each newspaper organisation – and the spreadsheets lists all of the journalists who asked Whittamore to find confidential information, all of the targets, all of the information requested, how it was obtained, how much was paid.

“The ICO and police worked together to prepare three court cases: one led to four convictions, the other two collapsed for technical reasons. You really can’t say that there wasn’t an investigation. Furthermore, when the new information commissioner, Christopher Graham, gave evidence to the media select committee, he said he would not publish the spreadsheets, but he clearly indicated his willingness to talk to any editor who got in touch in search of detail.”

No editor has asked for extra information from ICO
“I checked last week with the ICO as to how many editors had now got in touch to ask which of their journalists are named in the spreadsheets and also to ask whether the PCC had approached them and asked for information,” said Davies.

“The answer was that no editor and nobody from the PCC had asked.” Furthermore, Davies said, he had written detailed stories about the contents of the spreadsheets.

“So, if editors are still in a grey area on all this, it’s because they refuse to look at the facts in black and white, even though the facts are there for them.”

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#soe09: Google doesn’t need newspapers – but do newspapers need it?

November 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Search

Google doesn’t need newspapers – it’s official; but its users do, Matt Brittin, UK director of Google, told the Society of Editors conference today.

Some key points from Brittin:

  • “Taking content out of Google news is a political statement (…) but experimentation is good.”
  • “One of the reasons we’re working with a lot of publishers is because we passionately believe that the internet needs to have quality content on it.”
  • “Does Google need news content to survive in this year? No (…) Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue, but the value of the internet to consumers is all about finding great content online.”
  • “We’re a technology company and we’ll try and contribute technology that helps [e.g. Fast Flip, micropayment system] (…) We’re absolutely not [a newspaper company].”

The audio below features Times editor James Harding (first), Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig, and The National editorial director Martin Newland with their opinions on removing content from Google News:

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#soe09: Online newspaper business models – where else is the money?

November 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

Where are newspaper websites making money and where are the new opportunities? These are the questions asked by Francois Nel, director of the journalism leaders programme at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), in a study, the highlights of which he presented to the Society of Editors conference today in the slides below:

View more presentations from Francois Nel.
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#soe09: Live coverage online – opportunities for audience and money?

The benefits of using social media sites, predominantly Twitter, to cover live news events, newsgather and let the readers in were stressed by speakers from Sky News, Trinity Mirror, NWN Media and Northcliffe in a session at the Society of Editors conference today.

Sky’s social media correspondent (once titled ‘Twitter correspondent’) Ruth Barnett explained what had been learned since her role was created:

“We’d be very foolish as journalists not to be part of this interaction (…) I use it as a newswire – not one as valuable verifiable and reliable as PA, but as a good source of leads, eye witnesses and trends.

“If we can tweet our own breaking news it allows us to be proud of it, own it and direct traffic back to us.”

But there’s more to come: Trinity Mirror multimedia head David Higgerson emphasised the need to work with the audience to improve the use of tools such as CoveritLive.

“The big lesson that we need to learn is that we need to involve the audience more. If people want more passive coverage we’ve got the BBC, which is not to be critical of the BBC, but it can be hard to interact with it,” said Higgerson.

There needs to be experiments with livestreaming video into liveblogs, he added, and newspapers should start looking at the potential of  tools like Audioboo. There’s no reason Audioboo, for example, couldn’t be used for more in-depth reporting, such as livecasting election results, he explained.

But the biggest challenge is finding a way to work with the ‘army of citizen journalists’:

“We need to go to them and our reporters need to be building relationships with them. If we can engage with them on local terms we can create a potent force for live news.”

But it was Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan who suggested that liveblogging and live-tweeting could be a revenue opportunity for news groups:

“If paid content on the web is part of our salvation we have an obligation to develop services that go far beyond news and traditional reporting (…) It used to be paid-for live coverage in print (…) Covering it live on the web, real-time and interactive, may be one of the keys to earning revenue from content published online,” said Meehan, who used the Mail’s coverage of transfer deadline day in September as an example (500 posts on CoveritLive by journalists; 6,200 comments received on all-day liveblog).

“We’ve got no plans to make them pay for it, but I think we as an industry should have an eye on where we can make money from. If that many people are going to spend that much time on a service, they really value that service (…) Mainstream news is a commodity; we need to find the things that aren’t commoditised.”

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