Author Archives: ruth morgan

Innovations in Journalism: Flock’s social web browser

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Today, it’s the evolution of the browser with social browsing software from Flock.

image of Flock logo

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hi I’m Evan Hamilton, community ambassador for Flock.

Flock is a software company that is building a unique, social browser off of the technology that powers the Mozilla Firefox.

It takes browsing to the next level by integrating a number of social networking and media services.

While you can still surf the web normally we also bring in updates. Photos and videos from your friends show up in the media bar at the top of the browser, your friends appear and update within the people sidebar, and myworld collects all your online information (feeds, favorites, media and friend updates) in one place.

Additionally, we make sharing great online content easier by allowing you to drag and drop photos, text, and links from any website (or your media bar) to friends in the people sidebar, web-mail, blog posts, and comments.

Flock will automatically embed or link to this content. It also integrates with services like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Gmail.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Journalists spend most of their time collecting research and then compiling it into stories. Flock makes it incredibly easy to have the latest news at your fingertips for consumption and collection.

Its feed reader will pull in updates from whichever websites you wish (assuming they have an RSS feed set up).

Found a piece of content you want to file away for a later story? Flock comes with a “web clipboard” to which you can add photos, videos, text and links to use later. Grab whatever you find compelling on a page and drop it into a folder for the article you’re working on, then access it later.

It’s all contained within the sidebar, not on your hard drive, so you can collect whatever you need before posting your blog or using it in your article.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
There’s much more to come. Flock 1.2 will be coming out shortly, which introduces more integrated services.

Later in the year, Flock will be updating to the codebase powering the yet-to-be-released Firefox3. Beyond that, Flock has many plans to innovatively improve upon your web browsing experience.

4) Why are you doing this?
The web has dramatically evolved in the last few years, but the web browser has not. Web pages are no longer the only destination on the web; now we have photo and video objects, friends, and pieces of information.

Traditional web browsers require you to view this content within the context of a web page, but Flock provides a unique view of this content that makes it easier and faster to consume and share the things you love.

We felt that nobody else was stepping up to really support the next generation of the web, and so we decided to build on the fundamentally sound Firefox technology and build a browser that supported our activities on the new web.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Totally, 100 per cent free. Flock does not and will not cost you any money.

6) How will you make it pay?
It makes money the way all web browsers do: through the search box. Flock has a deal with Yahoo! in which any search that leads to a user clicking a sponsored link generates revenue.

This is unobtrusive and established, and is only the first of many opportunities for Flock to share revenue with partners.

Guardian wins top sports award with multimedia coverage

The Guardian scooped the coveted sports coverage of the year award at last night’s Sports Industry Awards.

Other contenders for the award included the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and The Times, with the Guardian chosen for displaying ‘synergy between multi-platforms.’

Highlights were said to include online and print coverage of Steve McClaren’s sacking, with rolling news, comment and audio on the web.

Technology such as Hawk Eye graphics used during cricket coverage last summer was also praised.

The award follows the relaunch of the Guardian.co.uk sports section last month as part of the ongoing site revamp.

Newsquest announces 40 job cuts: ‘poor trading conditions’ to blame

Newsquest Glasgow blamed ‘poor trading conditions’ as it announced 40 job-cuts yesterday.

The company publishes the Glasgow Evening Times, Herald and Sunday Herald newspapers and 20 of the jobs are believed to be in editorial departments.

Newsquest Glasgow has adopted a Telegraph-style integration policy and will merge staff at the three offices to create ‘one of the world’s most modern multimedia news operations’, it announced yesterday.

NUJ President James Doherty has accused Newsquest of having a detrimental impact on Scotland’s leading papers since it first took over the titles.

“Last year we took action against management, now members are more furious than ever and we will be looking for support in any action we take to fight against these savage cuts,” he said.

“We will be looking to political leaders and others to defend quality journalism as part of a healthy democracy in a devolved Scotland.”

According to Press Gazette, Herald editor Charles McGhee and Evening Times editor Donald Martin said that volunteers would be sought before any compulsory cuts are considered.

All change at the Telegraph: integration continues

image of the Telegraph newsroom at Victoria

The Telegraph has moved further towards its vision of a fully integrated newsroom with a raft of promotions, new arrivals and a newly integrated Science team.

Integrated desks contribute to both titles and the web site, The Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph.co.uk, and so far business, sport, foreign and comment desks have been reshaped to fit the new mould.

The integrated science team will be headed up by Daily Telegraph science editor Roger Highfield and Sunday Telegraph science correspondent Richard Gray, with Professor Steve Jones continuing to contribute. The team will be assisted by Kate Devlin.

The changes follow the abrupt departure of Nic Fleming, Daily Telegraph science correspondent, two weeks ago.

Following the significant number of departures from the Telegraph sports desk last month, former Times sports feature writer Alison Kervin is joining as chief sports interviewer. She replaces star interviewer Sue Mott.

Other changes include Stephen Adams’ promotion to arts correspondent, replacing Nigel Reynolds who was axed last month.

The Daily Telegraph has also appointed former Press Association chief reporter John Bingham to take a senior reporting role.

Further changes are expected as the integration policy continues to roll out.

There has been talk of strike action over management decisions to axe staff members, which included the Telegraph Media Group’s decision to remove the entire reader relations desk as well as individual journalists over the last few months.

Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft resigned in September 2007, reportedly over the integration strategy.

Media Guardian: Gramophone classical music magazine embraces the web

Historic publication Gramophone magazine is to publish all its content to the web, creating a searchable archive of issues right back to its first edition, published in 1923. A download and mail order service will follow, making the site a valuable online resource for fans of classical music.

Press Gazette: Telegraph technology lab created for online innovation

In an attempt to break down the divide between technology and editorial sections of the newsroom, the Telegraph has introduced a newsroom lab for all members of staff to develop new online products, and ‘take some of the culture [of the lab] back out onto the floor’.

Election 2.0: blogs, video and mobile streaming out in force for local election coverage

The BBC’s coverage of today’s local elections will feature live blogging, with comments being expertly sifted by Newsnight and BBC News 24 presenter Emily Maitlis, assisted by leading political bloggers Iain Dale, Luke Akenhurst and Alix Mortimer.

The elections see 4000 seats up for grabs at 159 councils nationally, along with the London Mayoralty and the London Assembly.

“It’s become increasingly clear that the web has something extra to offer on election night. An elaborate network of opinion formers, activists and analysts collide online producing fact, rumour, and mood not found anywhere else.” Craig Oliver, editor of BBC News at Six and BBC News at Ten, wrote on the BBC Editors Blog.

“While guarded politicians offer the official line on radio and TV, the web provides the unvarnished truth about what the parties are really thinking.”

Harnessing new web technology for election coverage is not exclusively the domain of national big guns. The Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo will have reporters at each of the 10 vote counts in the area, who will feed to a live blog accessible on both sites.

There will be newspaper staff at three of the counts – Liverpool, Wiral and Knowsley – using mobile phone technology to stream live reports and a TV unit will produce a video package of events. The final video version is expected to go live by 7am in time for the morning rush.

“Harnessing the new technology on the Post and Echo sites will enable us to bring the most comprehensive coverage of local elections to readers who now demand nothing less,” said Alastair Machray, editor of the Liverpool Echo, in a press statement.

The titles attempted online election coverage last year, which was viewed by over 4,000 people. The sites have since been relaunched and with improved technology the two expect the coverage to be a hit with voters.

Northcliffe titles work together for East Midlands business site

Northcliffe Media has launched its East Midlands regional business site, which sees five of its titles working together to supply content.

The Evening Telegraph in Derby, Leicester Mercury, Lincolnshire Echo, Nottingham Evening Post and The Sentinel in Stoke will provide regional business news to thisisbusiness-eastmidlands.co.uk, which will also cover international business stories.

Journalism.co.uk first broke the news of the planned Northcliffe business sites in February, and the launch of the East Midlands site follows that of westbusiness.co.uk, a business site for the West Country area, covering Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath.

The new site aims to promote the business capabilities and achievements of the East Midlands area.

“Allying thisisbusiness to the pages of the daily titles in the region will create a new springboard for everyone who has the ambition of the East Midlands at heart.” said Alex Leys, Northcliffe Midlands managing director.

A third business site is expected to be launched in the South East later this year.

Innovations in Journalism – Opinion Tracker

We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Today, it’s monitoring what people are talking about on the web with Opinion Tracker.

image of opinion tracker logo

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hi, I’m Chris Quigley, managing partner at Delib Ltd.

Opinion Tracker is a new form of opinion research that shows what people are thinking and saying around the internet by monitoring conversations taking place in forums, blogs, social networks and video sharing sites.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
For a journalist it provides useful insight into what the general public are thinking about issues. Opinion Tracker is very different to traditional polling, it provides live data as to what people are really talking about online.

The data from Opinion Tracker can either be used on its own, or as the back-story to what polls say about issues.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
Opinion Tracker’s a newly launched service, and is still in beta, so there’s definitely much more to come. So far we’ve been restricted as to how much information we can present, so over time we’ll be adding more – for example, graphs and trend analysis.

4) Why are you doing this?
Opinion Tracker is a commercial product, so in short money. In addition, as a company we’re very interested in innovation, and are always looking at new ways of doing things.

We saw a great opportunity to do opinion research in a different way with the increase in usage of the internet as a social space.

5) What does it cost to use it?
For the general public it’s free. Our business model is based around developing bespoke Opinion Trackers to monitor specific issues in detail.

For example, the government may want to monitor what people think about Climate Change, or a brand may want to monitor what people are saying about them.

6) How will you make it pay?
It will obviously take time to return our initial investment, however we’re confident in breaking even in the first year, and then turning profitable after that.

Happy birthday WWW!

Screen grab of second online newspaper to be launched, September 1993

Today is the 15th birthday of the World Wide Web, marked by the CERN announcement on April 30 1993 that the web would be free to all.

It’s a cue to sit back and marvel at how much has changed in a relatively small amount of time and post screen shots that may induce the same feeling as mum fetching the baby photos.

After the WWW age was born, online news and journalism was swift to follow: The Tech – an online version of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology newspaper, went live in May 1993; closely followed by the first journalism site from the University of Florida that October.

By 1994 there were already more than 20 online newspaper and journalism services. The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph were the first British papers to enter the online world in 1994 with the Beeb taking slightly longer to catch up, launching its news website in 1997.

1999 saw the launch of Journalism.co.uk in its first form and my haven’t we grown…

Screen grab of Journalism.co.uk in 1999

With web technology advancing daily, the slick news sites of today will surely be drawing fond smiles in another 15 years.

Happy birthday Web, here’s to many more…