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#bbcsms: A round-up of the best blogs on the BBC Social Media Summit

Various delegates from the BBC Social Media Summit last week have spent the weekend writing blog posts reflecting on the two-day event.

If you are looking for a concise round-up of the main points of the day, go to Martin Belam’s notes from the BBC Social Media Summit.

He explains Al Jazeera‘s defence of criticism it received for being part of the story of the Arab uprisings, not just reporting it. He also reports that the New York Times is to experiment with its Twitter feed so that it becomes “a fully human experience without the automated headlines being pumped through it”.

If you want more detail, see Adam Tinworth’s series of live blogs, like this one on the session on technology and innovation.

Dave Wyllie also provides a good session-by-session summary in his core values post. He also reflects:

I left with the feeling that journalism is moving at great speed with some promising entrepreneurs and future figures emerging in their own startups. The rest are working in established businesses or broadcasting.

It’s UK based print I’m worried about, many didn’t even turn up. Maybe they didn’t get the invite or maybe they thought we were full of shit.

The most thought-provoking blog is from Mary Hamilton in her blog #bbcsms: what I learned about ego, opinion, art and commerce. She takes up the repeated use of the term ‘mainstream’.

Perhaps a more honest hashtag would be #bbcmsmsms. But it’s also telling: those who were invited to participate, and thus set the agenda and drive change, were not social media people from the Sun, or from Archant’s local divisions, or from the Financial Times. Of course it’s easier for organisations working with likeminded people to reach a consensus, but in doing so we miss the chance to learn from people outside the echo chamber.

So, like Wyllie, Hamilton also notes the absence of the UK regional news organisations. She goes on to say that issues raised may have been different if they had been there.

Esra Dogramaci of Al Jazeera faced some very hostile questioning on the topic of training people to use citizen journalism tools. Will Perrin of Talk About Local did not. Of course there are hundreds of reasons why the responses were different – not least the potential harm that people in Arabic dictatorships can come to as a result of doing journalism – but one of them is territory. Al Jazeera is invading the “mainstream”. Talk About Local is invading the regional space. If there had been many Archant, Johnston or Trinity Mirror folks there, I think Will would have faced some tricky interrogation too.

She makes some interesting points on the ‘fight to be first’:

There’s still significant opposition to this notion from both individual journalists and news organisations. We fear being scooped. Outside the financial trade press, where being first by a few seconds can move markets, the business model of being first is largely an illusion. In fact, the business model is in being the most widely read, and being first is no longer a guarantee that you will gather the most eyeballs for your effort.

The fight to be first stifles innovation, because it erases partner contributions. Traditional media have always done this with stories. Now we are seeing it with innovations, too – even with innovative ways of using familiar tools. The NYT can commit to their experiment of turning off the auto-feed on their Twitter account; this isn’t new, and it’s in part because other news organisations have succeeded that the NYT can experiment without too much fear of failure.

At the end of the day, Alan Rusbridger claimed that the Guardian invented live-blogging. That stakes a claim, draws a line around an innovation that is simply a new way of using a tool, that has existed for nearly as long as the tool has existed. And suddenly, we are fighting over the origin of the thing, rather than celebrating its existence and finding new ways to use it. Suddenly it’s all about the process, about who scooped who, not about the meaning of the events themselves.

Round and round we go.

In his post #bbcsms and the ethic of the link Joseph Stashko discusses circular arguments. He says that one of sessions adopted the wrong starting point:

So when the session titled ‘Can startups compete with mainstream media?’ began I was somewhat puzzled.

The discussion that followed was very good, but the question was framed in the wrong way. It attempted to compare two different things. They shouldn’t be looking to compete with each other, because it takes us back to a bloggers vs journalists style debate again – the two should look to complement each other rather than compete.

It’s a mindset which seemed to be uncomfortably pervasive throughout the day. As someone remarked to me afterwards “I thought we were over that sort of debate…apparently not”.

He goes on to say:

In 2011 I don’t think we should be asking the questions that are based around what the roles of startups and mainstream media are. Mainstream media have recognisable brands, huge manpower, contacts, prestige and reach. Startups are more nimble, can specialise easily and can get things done quicker.

When I want to start work on a new project, I don’t identify someone who can do things that I can’t and then try and learn all their skills myself – I ask them to come and help me. It’s madness that we’re still having to debate this, but possibly appropriate given that it was held at the BBC.

He asks three questions of the point of such conferences:

How many more case studies of Twitter do we really need?
How many more examples of how you can harness the wisdom of crowds?
And how many more discussions about the futility of mainstream media building their own versions of existing services rather than employing the ethic of the link to connect people to knowledge?

The Media Blog also asks a question in its post journalism, is it ever ‘just a numbers game’? Here it’s worth noting Wyllie’s summary of the session which explains that “the room seemed to divide into two camps: live by your stats to influence your content OR ignore stats for they are perverse and influence you in the wrong ways”.

The Media Blog takes the example of the Daily Mail’s website.

And while it is difficult to cast either extreme of the Mail’s split personality as quality journalism, it is clear that simply chasing clicks with pics and key words is not. For example, a Google search for US socialite and ‘home movie’ star “Kim Kardashian” on the Daily Mail website returns 186,000 results. A search for “Kim Kardashian”+”bikini” returns just 1,000 fewer – 185,000 results – which is still more than results for “David Cameron” and “Gordon Brown” put together.

But asking if journalism and web traffic is ‘just a numbers game’ the post acknowledges that not all stories generate hundreds – let alone hundreds of thousands – of clicks and questions the “business sense” of editorial decisions in only selecting stories which generate hits which “is to assume that all important news would also have the good grace to be popular news”.

Publishers just need to remember the subtle differences between getting more readers to their content and producing content purely to bring in more readers. Somewhere between the two lies a dividing line marked ‘quality journalism’.

So what about the future? Mary Hamilton suggests an opening up:

We need people who take elements not just from journalism but also from other areas: user experience design, anthropology, web culture, psychology, history, games, literature, art, statistics. We need to interrogate journalism with tools outside the journalistic sphere; we need not just to borrow from other disciplines but exchange with them.

And comment below Hamilton’s post expands this further:

Your last point is a valid, and reflects what I took out of the day; innovators and non-mainstream thinkers are looking to be involved, traditional outlets are sitting back and waiting for invites. They should be the ones sending out the innovations.

“With capability comes responsibility”, I believe was one of the finer quotes of the day.

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Are you on the j-list? The leading innovators in journalism and media in 2010

July 22nd, 2010 | 14 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

Updated 05/08/2010

Recent industry lists ranking the great and good in journalism and the media fell a bit short of the mark for Journalism.co.uk. Where were the online innovators? Where were the journalists on the ground outside of the executives’ offices?

So we’ve compiled our own rundown listing those people we think are helping to build the future of journalism and the news media.

Some important points to note:

  • There are no rankings to this list – those included are from such varied areas of work it seemed pointless;
  • We will have missed some people out – let us know in the comments below or with the hashtag #jlist who you are working with that should be included;
  • We’ve listed groups as well as individuals – with individuals we hope you’ll see them as representing a wider team of people, who have worked together on something great;
  • And it’s not limited to 50 or 100 – we’ll see where it takes us…

So here’s the first batch. There’s a Twitter list of those included so far at this link and more will be added in the coming weeks.

Click on the ‘more’ link after these five to to see the full list.

Tomáš Bella

Tomáš Bella was editor-in-chief and deputy director of Sme.sk, the Slovak republic’s most popular news site. He was author of the first European newspaper-owned blogportal (blog.sme.sk, 2004) and the first digg-like service (vybrali.sme.sk, 2006). In April 2010 he co-founded Prague-based new media consultancy NextBig.cz and is working on a payment system to allow the access to all the premium content of major newspapers and TV stations with one payment.

Paul Steiger

While ProPublica’s not-for-profit, foundation-funded model may be something commercial news organisations can never share, its investment in and triumphing of investigative and data journalism cannot be overlooked. The way in which it involves a network of readers in its research and actively encourages other sites to “steal” its stories shows a new way of thinking about journalism’s watchdog role. Image courtesy of the Knight Foundation on Flickr.

Chris Taggart

Paul Bradshaw’s description of his fellow j-lister: “Chris has been working so hard on open data in 2010 I expect steam to pour from the soles of his shoes every time I see him. His ambition to free up local government data is laudable and, until recently, unfashionable. And he deserves all the support and recognition he gets.”

Ian Hislop/Private Eye

Not much to look at on the web perhaps, but the Eye’s successful mixture of satire, humour and heavyweight investigations has seen its circulation rise. It blaized a trail during the Carter-Ruck and Trafigura gagging ordeal and has even lent it’s support to j-list fellow the Hackney Citizen to protect press freedom from international to hyperlocal levels. Image courtesy of Nikki Montefiore on Flickr.

Brian Boyer

Amidst the talk of what journalists can learn from programmers and what coding skills, if any, journalists need, Brian Boyer was making the move the other way from programming to a programmer-journalist. His university and personal projects in this field have been innovative and have got him noticed by many a news organisation – not least the Chicago Tribune, where he now works as a news applications editor. He blogs at Hacker Journalist.

Ushahidi

Originally built to map reports from citizens of post-election violence in Kenya, Ushahidi’s development of interactive, collaborative and open source mapping technology has been adopted by aid agencies and news organisations alike. It’s a new means of storytelling and a project that’s likely to develop more tools for journalists in the future.

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Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters in 2009 (and who to watch in 2010)

With the proviso that journalism blogs and bloggers come and go, we have selected our own personal favourite journalism bloggers and tweeters. These are our absolute must-reads. We realise this is a somewhat subjective exercise, so please add your own in the comments below, or via Twitter to @journalismnews.

Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters of 2009

As chosen by John Thompson, founder, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@GordonMacmillan, @malcolmcoles, @adamwestbrook, @paulbradshaw, @mikebutcher, @marcreeves

Best blogs:
Malcolm ColesJon Slattery, Adam Tinworth, OJB, Adam Westbrook (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Laura Oliver, editor, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@georgehopkin, @nigelbarlow, @MrRickWaghorn, @gordonmacmillan, @psmith

Best blogs:
Sarah Hartley, Alison Gow, Adam Tinworth, Martin Belam, Jon Slattery (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Judith Townend, senior reporter, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@gingerelvis, @samshepherd, @badjournalism, @jowadsworth, @digidickinson

Best blogs:
Jon Slattery, Martin Moore, Charlie Beckett, The Media Blog, Sarah Hartley (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by the Journalism.co.uk team:

Five blogs to watch in 2010

  • Marc Reeves: former Birmingham Post editor, with new projects on the go.

Five Tweeters to watch in 2010

  • @timesjoanna, for her excellent social media and online journalism links.
  • @michaelhaddon, former City student with an interest in political online media; now working at Dow Jones.
  • @joshhalliday, at the centre of the UK student journalist blogging conversation; lots to look at on his own blog.
  • @coneee, the NUJ’s first full-time blogger member, currently completing an MA at City University.
  • @marcreeves, for the latest on what the former regional editor is up to.
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FollowJourn: @adders/RBI head of blogging

#FollowJourn: Adam Tinworth

Who? Head of blogs for Reed Business Information.

What? A blogger from the early days, Tinworth monitors the media industry and its digital developments via social media.

Where? Follow him via his blog, or Twitter account.

Contact? Via Twitter: @adders.

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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One Man and His Blog: Liveblogging or livetweeting?

Adam Tinworth looks at the positives and negatives of covering a live event with Twitter – and comes out with some handy suggestions for any journalists looking to use the tool for live coverage.

“The real time web is important, and significant. But that doesn’t mean that the old web, the archived, static web, isn’t still of value. Twitter coverage is dispersed, and fades away as the moment passes. Archive content has real utility as reference and grist for the conversational mill in the weeks that follow.”

Full post at this link…

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Newsinnovation London: Audio from the event

July 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events

Journalism.co.uk had a great day at Friday’s inaugural Newsinnovation event hosted by the Media Standards Trust (MST).

As well as discussing the MST’s plans with the Associated Press for a new industry standard for story metadata, sessions covered the use of data for newsgathering and storytelling, hyperlocal publishing and communities and open source technology.

Have a read of Adam Tinworth’s posts on the event; watch Kevin Anderson’s video vox pops on the future of news; and check out Martin Belam’s handy list of links that were circulating during the sessions.

Below is some rough and ready audio from a few of the talks from the event:

The Guardian’s Simon Willison on its MPs’ expenses crowdsourcing experiment

Will Perrin on ‘hyperlocal’ and Talk About Local

My Football Writer’s Rick Waghorn on local online advertising system Addiply

Toby Moores and Reuters’ Mark Jones on social media, news and politics

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Media140: Are tweets journalism?

May 21st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Social media and blogging

There’s a wealth of great blog posts reporting/observing/filtering yesterday’s events at the microblogging and journalism conference, Media140.

To name but a few:

We Are Social at #media140 by we are social
Media 140 – The future of real-time news from you talking to me-dia?
Adam Tinworth’s round-ups
Kevin Anderson’s posts on Guardian.co.uk

One question that arose: does a 140-character update equate to journalism?

If it comes from a news organisation/journalists does this make it more journalistic? What about eyewitness reports of news events, for example?

Speaking personally, recent coverage of news events – using Twitter as one element – such as Al Jazeera’s tweets from Gaza, UK newspapers’ tweeting of the budget and G20 protests have provided me with breaking news, relevant contextual links and real-time insight.

As Suw Charman-Anderson commented (appropriately on Twitter): ‘isn’t journalism just polished-up conversations?’ – the conversations encouraged by social media use.

You can also add the question: does it need to be defined?

Perhaps, to a certain extent for news orgs, it does – with regards to accuracy, verification, regulation.

But as a format using Twitter in combination with other multimedia tools and outlets can create a new grammar for presenting news – and a way to unpack ‘journalism’ from its box and show the context, links to and conversation around what would previously have been a standalone ‘news item’.

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Strange Attractor: Journalists and ‘audience entitlement’

May 20th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Sparked by a comment from Adam Tinworth on Twitter, Kevin Anderson unpicks the idea that some journalists/news organisations believe they have both a right to an audience and deserve an audience.

“It’s the height of institutional arrogance and self-importance, and it’s obvious to anyone who even has one foot outside of the bubble of institutional journalism that this is the case. But therein lies the rub. For many journalists, we never get outside of this bubble. I think it’s one of the reasons that journalists are bewildered by the fact that viewership and readership numbers are declining,” he writes.

Full post at this link…

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Goodbye Press Gazette: round-up of the links

We bid farewell to our fellow media reporters at Press Gazette, unless, as Roy Greenslade hopes, a buyer comes forward (again).

We haven’t produced our own coverage, as there has been more than plenty – with insider perspective – elsewhere. We would, however, like to wish the editorial team at Press Gazette the very best of luck in the future with whatever they go onto do. We’ve enjoyed meeting Press Gazette team – past and present – at events, and being kept on our toes when we’re covering the same stories.

Here’s a round-up of the coverage in links:

Please do add any others of note in the comments below.

Newly added:

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Comment: The NUJ and new media – ‘bloggers rejoice in lower standards’

February 20th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Social media and blogging

It was with some astonishment that I read the following comment from the chair of the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) professional training committee, Chris Wheal, on Adam Tinworth’s blog:

“The NUJ fails to maintain standards in blogs because bloggers themselves rejoice in having lower standards.”

Tinworth had written about his discovery in his blog’s referrer logs that an email exchange within the NUJ under the subject ‘effing blogs’ had led someone to his website.

Wheal points out some flaws in the original post, as he sees them – in particular an alleged witch hunt surrounding one of the recipients of the email.

Personally I don’t believe a witch hunt was Tinworth’s aim – he was, as Suw Charman points out in the post’s comments, writing about what he observes.

Aside from that it’s hard to engage/respond/take on board what Wheal is saying when the tone gets your back up in the way it does and makes sweeping statements like the above.

He goes on to say that the NUJ is currently looking at Yahoo Pipes and new Webvision CMS – great, talk to your members, many of whom are also bloggers, about it.

But do this in a way that respects the ‘social’ aspect of social media and learn that blogs like Adam Tinworth’s are intended as open conversations.

Wheal says he wants the NUJ training committee to engage with bloggers to raise standards – this is a lesson in how not to do it.

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