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Ten things every journalist should know in 2012

December 20th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Lists, Press freedom and ethics

Image by Tormel on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Here are 10 things every journalists should know in 2012. This list builds on 10 things every journalist should know in 2009 and 2010. It is worth looking back at the previous posts as the ideas are still relevant today.

1. Learn from Leveson. The Leveson inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media has specifically scrutinised journalism and the industry, but social media (and therefore popular opinion) is also holding it to account. Journalists need to be sure that the means really do justify the ends for a story and must be crystal clear about the legalities of their actions. And they need to be more transparent about the sources of stories, where the source will not be compromised. If a story originates from a press release, acknowledge it.

2. Curate and share. Social sharing is a great way for a journalist to add value to their personal output (also see point 9).

You can share articles of interest to you by tweeting, adding curated links on your personal blog and using bookmarking site like Delicious or Pinboard.

Doing so will raise your social capital and help you to engage with your peers, contacts and your audience. Online influence and reputation may well become as important as your CV with the rise of tools like Klout and PeerIndex.

3. Invite others in. Your readers graze content, snacking from several news sites – so help them out. Include links to external content on your news site and post news from other outlets on your organisation’s social networks.

Although readers will still have a brand affinity, they are much more promiscuous in their reading habits, consuming content from a wide variety of news outlets. So acknowledge this and make your news site a destination not just for your journalism by providing links to content from other publishers.

4. Know your niche. Technology is driving the delivery of niche content. Where specialist titles once required consumers to hunt them down via postal subscriptions and visits to larger newsagents, niche content is now delivered instantly online and via apps and is more easily found. Specialise in an area that interests you, blog about the subject and share links.

5. Think multimedia on multiplatform. There has been much debate about tablets revolutionising publishing, but many magazines are simply pushing out their print version via non-interactive PDFs, aided by new delivery systems such as Apple’s Newsstand.

Publishers are opting to offer consumers a laid back reading experience in the knowledge that tablet owners read in the evenings when they have time to consume in-depth news. Publishers will also need to play to the strength of the tablet device, allowing interactive content such as video to shine, and focus on providing consumers with a reading experience that is different to that of a newspaper.

Journalists can be ahead of the game by developing skills in video, audio and other types of multimedia that can be used to enrich storytelling in apps and on other digital devices.

6. Data is not just for geeks. Data is driving journalism but many journalists are afraid of the numbers, spreadsheets and code. But all journalists need to know how to spot the nonsensical numbers in a press release, to be able to accurately make sense of statistics, and understand how to find a story in a study.

Take these examples of data used for investigative journalism from the Guardian: Afghanistan war: every death mapped and reporting the riots. But as well as in-depth data reporting, be aware of the free tools to get you started such as these ManyEyes visualisations, showing the number of women in British politics by party, of Manchester City Council spending or debt in the English premier league.

Be aware that data can be misinterpreted. Take this Express front page splash on a cancer study and read about the pitfalls highlighted by data journalist James Ball in this presentation given at news:rewired, a conference for journalists.

7. Focus on what works – do less to do more. No news organisation however well resourced can achieve everything. Work out what works and strive for excellence in that area.

Sometimes you need to take a step back to see where your priorities should lie. You may realise it is better to write one original feature than chase five stories already in the public domain.

8. Look to new off-site audiences. Don’t just focus on clicks on your site. If 10,000 people listen to your podcast on SoundCloud, 1,000 people click on a Storify or 10 people comment on a story on Facebook without visiting your site they are still being introduced to your title and brand and may visit in the future.

9. Add value. Readers will be able to get a story that is in the public domain from several sources so make your content count. Consider yourself a collective educator by adding value to everything you produce by including links and background information. Think of the way the Guardian’s liveblogs, such as Andrew Sparrow’s politics liveblogs, curate and add context. Act as a guide to your readers on your site, on Twitter and on other platforms.

10. Online communities are no substitute for offline communities. Journalists must still meet people, build trusting relationships and nurture real-world contacts.

  • For a day of inspirational ideas in journalism sign up to attend news:rewired – media in motion, a conference for journalists. It is being held at MSN HQ, London on 3 February 2012.
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Media release: AFP Foundation to donate 25 laptops to journalists

October 24th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

The AFP Foundation will give away 25 laptops to journalists in developing countries or working in exile in a collaboration with Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In a press release French news agency AFP said the computers will go to journalists “facing particular hardship”. They will be given to RSF on Friday.

Jean-François Julliard, secretary general of RSF added:

We are grateful to the Foundation for its contribution to press freedom. Computers represent independent information which can be passed on and shared. We thank AFP for its support.

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Media release: Telegraph launches new subscription iPad app

May 5th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile

The Telegraph today announced the launch of its new iPad app, which offers content from the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph.

The app can be purchased through the App Store, either individual, daily editions or an auto-renewable monthly subscription, both through In-App Purchase.

Print subscribers have free access using their existing customer credentials, the release adds.

This appears to follow Apple’s new rules regarding publisher apps, which state that while publishers are allowed to make a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer must also be made available inside the app, through which Apple will take a 30 per cent cut.

The new Telegraph app is free to download with individual, daily editions priced at £1.19 or a monthly subscription of £9.99.

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Reuters: Microsoft plans new subscription TV service via Xbox

November 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

Reuters reports on plans by Microsoft to create a new subscription-based TV service available via its Xbox console. According to Reuters’ sources, talks have been held with TV networks about a product to rival plans by Google and other new media companies to move into TV.

The service would charge a monthly fee for access through the Xbox to networks such as ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN or CNN, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Other options include allowing cable subscribers to use the Xbox to watch shows with more interactive functions. Viewers could, for instance, message with friends over the console while viewing their favorite shows.

Full story on Reuters at this link…

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BBC Dimensions: Making the news more geographically relevant

The BBC has launched ‘Dimensions’ – an interactive map prototype which aims to ignite a public interest in history and the news by making it geographically relevant to an individual.

The technology uses the address of a user to show the scale of an event in history, such as the recent oil spill in the Gulf, and applies it to a map of the user’s home and vicinity.

Discussing the technology, which currently “sits by itself”, BBC commissioning executive Max Gadney says the tools are being considered for use on BBC History and News pages.

When I took over the online History commissioning job, I knew that we would need a mix of traditional, trusted BBC content with some attention-grabbing digital stuff to get people to it.

It’s easier said than done. Many technologists and designers are not really interested in history. Like much of the audience they were turned off by dull lessons at school. Our challenge was to make it relevant to audiences.

See his full post here…

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Robots to replace sports journalists?

August 13th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Niche

The BBC College of Journalism reflects on the news that researchers in America have created a computer which can “autonomously” write sports articles based on a set of statistics.

According to an article on the RobotShop blog, the machine, called ‘Stats Monkey”, relies on commonly-used phrases in sports journalism to form its own reports.

It can produce a headline of a particular game in only 2 seconds without spelling or grammar mistakes. Stats Monkey independently looks for websites specialised in match statistics, scores, goals, major events and even photographs. To write its article, the journalist robot uses pre-recorded forms of expressions that often come up.

But – BBC CoJo asks James Porter, the broadcaster’s former head of sports news – does this mean the end for sports journalism? It’s certainly a wake-up call, he says.

In America the way sports is covered and consumed is very statistics driven. Anything a player does is presented to the audiences in the form of statistics. I’m not so sure it’s applicable in the UK (…) It’s a wake up call to us to make sure our journalism concentrates on the stories and the excitement around sport and lifts itself out of the mundanity that otherwise we do sometimes descend into.

See the full post here…

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#followjourn: @dansung – Dan Sung/technology journalist

August 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#followjourn: @dansung

Who? Dan Sung, tech journalist, football blogger, and features writer at Pocket-lint. Appearing on Journalism.co.uk despite being a Spurs fan. Claims to be the “inventor of the dirty pudding”. Perhaps it’s best not to know what that is.

Where? Dan’s work can be found over on Pocket-lint.com, with separate pages for his news and reviews archives.

Contact? @dansung

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Tricks and tips for journalism and editorial job hunting online – an update

April 29th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Jobs, Journalism

Journalism lecturer Andy Dickinson (@digidickinson) has now updated his recent SlideShare and blog post on how to find editorial jobs online, which we featured on this blog last week, to include a more detailed transcript of his talk.

His blog post this week contains lots of handy tips for the dedicated journalism jobseeker, so if you are in the market for a new job, check it out.

Meanwhile, here at Journalism.co.uk, we have produced a new page explaining how to get the most out of our own jobs board, including six step-by-step videos taking you through the jobseeker registration process and various alert systems. Here are the benefits, all of which are free:

  • ability to save jobs you have searched for and liked for later;
  • ability to upload and store your CV;
  • ability to apply online and save your applications for future re-use/modification;
  • ability to register a personal statement so that our can advertisers can find you using our CV match service;
  • ability to receive job opportunities by daily email;
  • ability to create customised RSS feeds based on your own search criteria.

I would urge you to take a few minutes to sign up, even if you are not necessarily looking to make a move now. You never know what opportunity might coming knocking on your door.

Finally, if you are on the other side of the fence and looking to recruit editorial staff, please read why you should advertise your vacancies on Journalism.co.uk here, and register to post your jobs here.

Recruitment advertising helps fund our free content, so if you like what we do this is one great way to support us!

Useful reading:

Job application tips

How to prepare a killer CV

How to prepare for that crucial interview

How to make the most out of work experience

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New Media Minute: ‘Hotspotting’ technology lets users click on videos

March 31st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick

A technology being developed for online video will allow users to find out more information on products and items featured by clicking on them in the footage.

The concept and technology has been discussed for some time, but according to the video below companies using it are now getting good click-through rates.

“Hotspotting” could provide interesting opportunities for advertisers – but could there be the potential for news organisations to link content in this way?

Full story at this link…

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Did NY Times’ blog culture lead to incident of plagiarism?

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has a critical (well-linked) analysis of events leading to reporter Zachery Kouwe’s resignation from the title last month.

As previously noted on this blog, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson complained to the New York Times over a particular article of Kouwe’s, on the NY Times’ DealBook blog. The NY Times investigated and found other examples of copied passages.

In Hoyt’s piece, which I recommend reading in full, he asks whether the “the culture of DealBook” had led to subsequent events:

How did his serial plagiarism happen and go undetected for so long? Why were warning signs overlooked? Was there anything at fault in the culture of DealBook, the hyper-competitive news blog on which Kouwe worked? And, now that the investigation is complete, what about a full accounting to readers?

He also suggests:

At a time when cut-and-paste technology enables plagiarism, when news and information on the web are treated as commodities, these are conversations worth having throughout the Times building.

But over on his Reuters blog, Felix Salmon, whilst praising the public editor’s critique, raises another issue: the New York Times’ unwillingness to link out.

…[I]s there something inherent to the culture of blogging which breeds a degree of carelessness ill suited to a venerable newspaper?

(…)

The fundamental problem with Kouwe was that when he saw good stories elsewhere, he felt the need to re-report them himself, rather than simply linking to what he had found, as any real blogger would do as a matter of course.

Finally, you can read Kouwe’s own comments about how the misdeed occurred: he told the New York Observer how he would throw others’ material into WordPress, intending to re-write it later. From the NY Observer interview:

Mr. Kouwe says he has never fabricated a story, nor has he knowingly plagiarized. “Basically, there was a minor news story and I thought we needed to have a presence for it on the blog,” he said, referring to DealBook. “In the essence of speed, I’ll look at various wire services and throw it into our back-end publishing system, which is WordPress, and then I’ll go and report it out and make sure all the facts are correct. It’s not like an investigative piece. It’s usually something that comes off a press release, an earnings report, it’s court documents.”

“I’ll go back and rewrite everything,” he continued. “I was stupid and careless and fucked up and thought it was my own stuff, or it somehow slipped in there. I think that’s what probably happened.”

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