Tag Archives: bloggers

Alastair Campbell and Kelvin MacKenzie to speak at HuffPo UK launch

The Huffington Post has announced full details of tomorrow’s UK launch event, which will consist of a panel discussion moderated by Richard Bacon.

Speakers on the night include Alastair Campbell, Kelly Osbourne, Celia Walden, Kelvin MacKenzie, Shami Chakrabarti and Arianna Huffington.

The panel will debate the media’s impact on the Self-Expression Revolution.

Today Huffington Post UK told journalism.co.uk it has more than 300 bloggers signed up for the site, with more expected to sign up after launch.

UK editor-in-chief Carla Buzasi said today: “It’s a really interesting mix of people. Alastair Campbell is blogging for us on day one, and hopefully the others on the panel will be following suit shortly afterwards.”

The event is taking place at the Curzon Millbank, with the panel debate beginning at 7pm. An open invitation has been sent to the site’s bloggers-to-be to attend the launch.

Currently the url huffingtonpost.co.uk is password protected, but will be unveiled and made public this week.

Bloggers showing ‘plenty of interest’ in writing for HuffPo UK

Huffington Post launches its UK edition on 6 July with bloggers showing “plenty of interest”.

AOL, which owns the HuffPo, would not reveal the number of bloggers who have put themselves forward but said there are lots of “regular UK bloggers” who have showed an interest, plus some “big names”, which will be announced in the run up to the launch date.

It seems there is no shortage of bloggers who are prepared to write for the new UK edition – which will be part of the third most-read news site in the world –  without getting paid. UK bloggers have seemingly not been deterred by a group of bloggers in the US who launched legal action against the site claiming back pay following the sale by Arianna Huffington to AOL for $315m (£195m).

The UK site, with Carla Buzasi as editor-in-chief and Chris Wimpress as political editor, will go live in less than a fortnight with an evening event to mark the site’s launch.

Related content:

AOL to buy Huffington Post for £195million

AOL signs new partnerships in content drive

Yahoo and AOL UK join petition to modernise UK libel law

 

Reporters Without Borders: Life sentence for Bahraini blogger

A Bahraini blogger has been handed a life sentence, another has received 15 years in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The two were among 21 activists to be accused of belonging to terrorist organisations and trying to overthrow the government, the pressure group says on its site.

Blogger Abduljalil Al-Singace was handed a life sentence; Ali Abdulemam, who was tried in absentia, was given 15 years, Global Voices, an international bloggers network Abdulemam contributes to, also reports on the sentencing.

“The only crime committed by Abdulemam and Al-Singace was freely expressing opinions contrary to those of the government,” Reporters Without Borders said in its post. “These sentences, handed down at the end of trial that flouted defence rights, are typical of the intransigence that the authorities have been showing towards those identified as government opponents, who have borne the full brunt of their repression. The international community must call the government to account on its strategy of stifling all dissent.”

Singace was rearrested on 16 March after being held from September to February. He was previously arrested in 2009 for allegedly trying to destabilise the government because of articles posted on his blog.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Abdulemam is regarded as one of Bahrain’s internet pioneers and is an active member of Bahrain Online, a pro-democracy forum that gets more than 100,000 visitors a day despite being blocked within Bahrain. He was also detained from September to February but avoided being rearrested and has been in hiding for several months.

Related content:

Press Association photographer shot during Belfast riots

Guardian journalist beaten in Pakistan

Living in Limbo: Almost 70 journalists exiled in past year says CPJ

News sites beware: Google News readers can block all blogs

Google News has made updates to allow users to further personalise the type of news they read.

Readers can now omit sites, choose to read more news from a selected site, increase or decrease the amount of blogs that appear or batch exclude all blogs from their Google News home page at one fell swoop.

Both blogs and news sites need to check how they are categorised by Google News. Just because you do not describe your site as a blog, doesn’t mean that Google News hasn’t listed you as one.

It is not clear how news sites can have their blog status removed but this form will allow your to flag it up with Google News

Hat tip: Search Engine Land

Journalism.co.uk’s top five journalism bloggers and tweeters in 2010

There are hundreds of people around the UK who are a dab hand at covering the world of media on their blogs and on twitter, and so it has been a difficult task drawing up lists of our personal favourites. But we have done some list-whittling and each present our five favourite bloggers and five favourite tweeters.

Please add your own in the comments below, or via Twitter to @journalismnews.

Our top five journalism blogs and tweeters of 2010

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

Best blogs:

Nieman Lab
10,000 words
Virtual Economics
The Media Blog
Wannabe Hacks – for the initiative shown

Best on Twitter:

@malcolmcoles, @currybet, @psmith, @joshhalliday, @suellewellyn





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

Best blogs:

Currybet – Martin Belam
Headlines and Deadlines – Alison Gow
David Higgerson
Ed Walker
Feverbee

Best on Twitter:

@psmith, @joshhalliday, @gdnlocal, @sashers, @fieldproducer






Special mentions for their recent WikiLeaks twitter coverage: @aleximostrous, @fieldproducer, @newsbrooke. And for tweeting about being shot during Thailand’s Red Shirt protests: @andrewbuncombe






As chosen by Joel Gunter, sub-editor, Journalism.co.uk:

Best blogs:

Currybet – Martin Belam
After Deadline – New York Times
Pressthink – Jay Rosen
Headlines and Deadlines – Alison Gow
Malcolm Coles

Best on Twitter:

@sashers – for her formidable live tweeting
@aleximostrous – for his Twitter WikiLeaks coverage
@substuff – for hilarious insights into the world of consumer magazine subbing
@guardianstyle – for running an on-demand style guide on Twitter
@wannabehacks – just missed the blog category but deserve a mention for hard graft and good content






BBC Cojo: Andrew Marr is ‘spot on’

The BBC College of Journalism’s executive editor Kevin Marsh joins the quality of journalism debate this week following comments made by Andrew Marr about the blogosphere.

According to this Telegraph report Marr, speaking at Cheltenham Literature Festival, said that “citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all”.

A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night.

Responding to the outcry which followed Marr’s comments Marsh argues that the problem is that “he’s right”. But the issue is about the quality of the journalism, he added, not the platform used.

Spot on. About bloggers, cit journalists … and about journos. Take some the key phrases and substitute ‘the British press’ and there’s little many would quarrel with.  “(The British press is) inadequate” and “nothing to do with journalism at all.” True? Probably as true as it is of bloggers etc. “A lot of (the British press) seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed … and ranting. They are very angry people.” “Most of the (British press) is too angry and too abusive. Terrible things are said … things … they wouldn’t dream of saying in person.” True? As above.

All of what Andrew Marr says about blogging and bloggers etc is as true as it is – there are bloggers we all know who are as good as or better than anything you will see in more traditional paper or spectrum journalism. But there’s also the weird, paranoid, conspiratorial, self-affirming blogosphere that is all that Andrew Marr characterises and worse.

Should bloggers pay business tax?

Should bloggers making money from their site have to pay a business tax?

It’s a question that’s been doing the rounds in the past week, following what commentators have been labelling a “tax amnesty” in Philadelphia. Thousands of online writers have reportedly received letters from local government reminding them that if they make money from their site, they must pay up.

Any bloggers earning revenues from their online publishing – through display advertising or services such as Google Adsense – will be asked to pay $300 (or $50 a year) for a Business Privilege Licence. Alternatively, they can remove any advertising or other money-making means and have their blog classified as a hobby.

The renewed efforts by the city council to ensure everyone eligible to pay does so have sparked wide debate and commentary across the web, from the Washington Post and Reuters to technology news site Mashable, who say the fee will only have limited impact.

The Atlantic Wire offers a neat summary of the main arguments, from Technorati’s post arguing that a $300 tax is “outrageous” for bloggers who on the whole make little returns, to New York Magazine’s suggestion that bloggers should shun advertising services, rather than hand over the small profits they make.

Belfast Telegraph: Bloggers and mainstream journalists can be happy bedfellows

The blogging community and mainstream journalists – it will not be a case of either or, according to a post on the Belfast Telegraph opinion blog this week.

Many will undoubtedly respond to this to say that in fact, it never has been, but there are still some journalists who worry that the plethora of bloggers doing journalistic work for free will sound the death knell for the paid-for industry in the near future.

But according to a post by the Belfast Telegraph, two differences between their two worlds will mean they continue to “feed off each other”, rather than consume one another entirely.

There remain some vital differences between a journalist and a blogger. The journalist has to deliver on time. There are deadlines. The blogger can go to the pub and upload the recordings later, maybe even the next day. The journalist has backing. When harassed by abusive calls and threats of libel, the newspaper or broadcaster should take the heat. The blogger alone will more readily succumb to pressure.

(…) And the problem for a blogger is that the publishing model is vulnerable. An article online can be removed in a way that a broadcast item or a newspaper article cannot. Once they are out, the damage is done. The blogger may have to defend a piece every day, or remove it. And there is unlikely to be support from the host server, which has no editorial principles to defend.

The result, the writer adds, is a future with room for both journalism entities to exist. Any finger of blame for the problems facing traditional media should be firmly pointed in the direction of finances, not competition, the poster says.

But if newspapers and broadcast outlets collapse, it is still more likely they ran out of money than because bloggers provided a viable alternative. There should still be room for both.

See the full blog post at this link…

New Statesman: Bloggers are ‘the fifth estate’

Blogging on New Statesman, Laurie Penny writes:

Cosy members of the established commentariat eye bloggers suspiciously, as if beneath our funny clothes and unruly hair we might actually be strapped with information bombs ready to explode their cultural paradigms and destroy their livelihoods. This sort of prejudice is deeply anodyne.

Bloggers aren’t out to take away the jobs of highly-paid columnists: we’re more ambitious than that. We’re out for a complete revolution in the way media and politics are done. While the media establishment guards its borders with paranoid rigour, snobbishly distinguishing between “bloggers” and “journalists”, people from the internet have already infiltrated the mainstream.

Penny adds some great insight from online publisher, blogger and “digital activist” Cory Doctorow into bloggers’ role as “the fifth estate” with an ability to challenge and bring down traditional media approaches to commentary, especially political commentary. She concludes:

One thing, however, is certain: journalism is changing forever. The notion of political commentary as a few-to-many exercise, produced by highly-paid elites and policed by big business, has been shattered beyond repair.

Full story at this link….

Bloggers to be given access to Westminster parliament

This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on the Wardman Wire. Re-posted here with permission.

PR Week is reporting that House of Commons authorities are preparing to bring down the barricades and allow bloggers into parliament:

House of Commons chiefs are fine-tuning plans to give bloggers privileged access to government communications. The radical move would see selected bloggers allowed into the Westminster lobby system, provided they meet certain criteria. PRWeek understands that conversations have been taking place between the Commons authorities and Financial Times political editor George Parker, who is chairman of the parliamentary press gallery.

Evolutionary approach

A ‘gradualist’ approach will be adopted, which does not sound very “radical”.

Parker told PRWeek recent applications had forced the authorities to revisit the issue. ‘The system is being tested on a case-by-case basis,’ he said. ‘There is no ban on bloggers at the moment, but things are being refined as we go along, because it’s a new form of journalism and the authorities are having to adapt.’

To me this sounds sensible, provided that ‘gradual’ does not mean ‘one minor change and then we stop’.

Worried about bloggers

Yet the authorities are worried about a free for all:

Parker said: ‘What the Commons authorities are concerned about is that there should be no precedent set that would create a free-for-all. They don’t want to have the House of Commons over-run by bloggers.’

I don’t buy this. Politicians routinely play far filthier tricks than bloggers could dream up.

I think that this is a mirror image of the worries which existed centuries ago when they were concerned about letting reporters in at all. This is rather long quote from the history of Parliamentary Reporting, illustrating that the Parliamentary Authorities have sometimes been more concerned with controlling reporting, rather than facilitating it. From Wikipedia:

Before 1771, the British Parliament had long been a highly secretive body. The official record of the actions of the House were publicly available, but there was no such record of debates. The publication of remarks made in the House became a breach of Parliamentary privilege, punishable by the two Houses. As more people became interested in parliamentary debates, more individuals published unofficial accounts of parliamentary debates. Editors were at worst subjected to fines. Several editors used the device of veiling parliamentary debates as debates of fictitious societies or bodies. The names under which parliamentary debates were published include Proceedings of the Lower Room of the Robin Hood Society and Debates of the Senate of Magna Lilliputia.

In 1771 Brass Crosby, who was Lord Mayor of the City of London had brought before him a printer called Miller who dared publish reports of Parliamentary proceedings. He released the man, but was subsequently ordered to appear before the House to explain his actions. Crosby was committed to the Tower of London, but when brought to trial, several judges refused to hear the case and after protests from the public, Crosby was released.

Parliament ceased to punish the publishing of its debates, partly due to the campaigns of John Wilkes on behalf of free speech. There then began several attempts to publish reports of debates. Among the early successes, the Parliamentary Register published by John Almon and John Debrett began in 1775 and ran until 1813.

Where change has happened, it has been through a process of external factors forcing the hand of parliament, rather than by parliament choosing to open itself up for public scrutiny. This time is no different, and we shouldn’t forget that, despite the protestations, grunts and squeaks from the Honourable and Right Honourable Members, and the Noble Peers.

Greater openness is in everyone’s interest, and there will inevitably be a few ruts and rumbles along the way. But as soon as the pressure is released, the process will begin to reverse through natural inertia.

Acceptance criteria

Rolling all of that together, “acceptance criteria” are proposed. Bloggers would need to be ‘popular’ and have a ‘track record’.

He added that certain criteria should have to be met by bloggers: ‘The general criteria we would agree with is that the person applying for the pass should be a proper journalist with a track record of journalism; that they should be operating for a respectable news organisation or website with a reasonably large number of subscribers or viewers; and that they should be using the pass for the purposes of journalism, rather than coming in and commenting on stuff.’

Those will be difficult lines to draw.

“Reasonably popular” is relatively easy to define, and could be as straightforward as ‘10,000 unique users a month’ whilst being a recognised commentary site.

However, what is a “respectable news organisation”? Do campaigning blogs qualify as “news organisations”? I think the key here may be in the phrase “and that they should be using the pass for the purposes of journalism, rather than coming in and commenting on stuff.” That is, the emphasis is on reporting rather than commentary.

  1. Jack of Kent has a legal column in the Lawyer; will he be allowed in? What about Ben Goldacre?
  2. Does Comment is Free count? A lot of bloggers have written for the site, but it is a mudpit of debate compared to the vast majority of blogs, yet is an accepted platform.
  3. The Heresiarch has not written extensively for other sites, nor has Cranmer, but both put much of the mainstream media to shame on their specialist subjects.
  4. What about writers for Open Democracy, Journalism.co.uk, or thinktanks?
  5. What about the Wardman Wire – I hope that we are ‘respectable’, but I don’t intend to be so if respectable means giving unacceptable control to an external body.
  6. Part of the stock in trade of politically or party-aligned blogs such as Liberal Conspiracy, Left Foot Forward, Conservative Home, Labour List and Lib Dem Voice for the next 6 months will be to inflate minor stories into major stories as part of anti-Tory, anti-Labour or anti-something else campaigning, an activity which involves highly selective use of facts as a basis for exaggeration in the hope that other media will think it is “news”. Does this undermine their status as “respectable news organisations”? The same goes for Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. I don’t see why this should be a problem, as most newspapers have gossip columns.
  7. Who is allowed into Parliament from multi-author blogs? Most group blogs mentioned above have from a dozen to perhaps 50 authors. At the Wardman Wire, we have about 25 people on the contributors’ list, but half are dormant or retired – yet we have added another 6 in the last month. I am not London-based, but I have half a dozen contributors who are based there. How will that be managed?

Finally, if it is about “respectable news organisations”, does that mean that any national newspapers will be expelled? If not, why not?

Worried about the reputation of parliament

There is also some concern about the reputation of parliament. This is amusing:

However, the Commons authorities are understood to be concerned that an influx of bloggers into the lobby could further undermine the reputation of parliament.

My initial reactions is to ask: you think that bloggers can cause significant damage? The blunt answer to worries about the reputation of parliament is to refer the Commons Authorities to the case of Arkell vs Pressdram, and to the history of the past five years. The reputation of parliament has been damaged by MPs and Peers, and the shenanigans they have been up to conceal these activities from the public, specifically not by media or bloggers. Bloggers are better thought of as part of the salt which has helped cause some of the poison to be vomited out of the system; there’s plenty of poison that hasn’t even been touched yet.

If MP’s hadn’t been fiddling and farming their expenses for decades in contravention of the published rules and with the connivance of the House Authorities, the Speaker and Speaker’s Office, the Fees Office, the political parties themselves, and those who set the business agenda for House, then no one would have been able to accuse them of doing it.

Letting bloggers in will – if anything – act as a further necessary check. If – to go all Guido for a moment – secret expenses farming, fiddling and fraternisation for personal gain become more difficult to hide, then it will be an excellent thing.

Worried about gossip, trivia and mischief

They are also worried about gossip and trivia.

One Commons insider said: ‘If you have a lobby pass, you can wander anywhere. There will be far more scope for mischief and trivia if you let bloggers in.’

Parker said: ‘What the Commons authorities are concerned about is that there should be no precedent set that would create a free-for-all. They don’t want to have the House of Commons over-run by bloggers.’

It seems to me that gossip, trivia and mischief have their source in politicians and their staff as much as in the media. I do, however, think that there is an opportunity here for access which is more finely-grained than “in” or “out”; I’ll comment on that below.

Opportunities to do things better

I’ve made clear that I think there’s more than a little self-justification going on in the statement from the Commons Authorities. These are my own thoughts about things which may happen next.

Firstly, the ABCe circulation measurement organisation could offer a lower priced product as one way of auditing the “readership” of blogs. Or perhaps Wikio could do it as a new service, as many of the relevant blogs already run their “ranking” badges.

Secondly, I would not be surprised if a condition of entry to the lobby system is that blogs accept some sort of regulation, perhaps via the Press Complaints Commission.

Thirdly, there is an opportunity here for more ‘fine-grained’ specialist reporting, which may require changes in access for reporters outside the lobby. It will be a mistake to limit access to general political bloggers. I would like to see Commons’ Committees, which mirror specialist departments, authorise specialist bloggers to report on particular aspects of parliament – for example an academic specialist who writes a blog about landslides should be able to attend to report a debate on earthquakes. The benefits from allowing bloggers proper access to parliament goes way beyond the lobby beat; the greatest benefit will be from allowing reporters to reach all the nitty-gritty detail which is not usually reported at all.

Finally, there is a question of resources. It would be a farsighted idea to make small grants available – perhaps as little as £100 a day or just out of pocket expenses – to help relevant amateur but knowledgeable bloggers attend parliament.

Initially, this could be paid for out of monies recovered from repayments of over-claimed expenses; the small amount of £1 million – £2 million of repaid expenses so far would cover 20,000 reporting days at one hundred pounds each.