Tag Archives: James Ball

MeejaLaw: Outgoing PCC chair takes a swipe at the Guardian

Baroness Buscombe, outgoing chair of the Press Complaints Commission, singled out the Guardian during a talk at City University last night, accusing the paper of misquoting her “non-stop” for three years.

Responding to a question from Guardian data journalist James Ball about her comments on enforced regulation compliance, Buscombe demanded to know what he was going to tweet and repeatedly said “Have you got that Guardian?”

See a full report from media law blogger Judith Townend on Meeja Law at this link.

And a report from Jon Slattery here.

OWNI.eu publishes WikiLeaks ebook

The rush to get books in the shops in the wake of the WikiLeaks phenomenon was quite predictable. It’s a story with all the Hollywood mores, but strangely real. The films are soon to follow.

So far we’ve had, most notably, David Leigh’s and Luke Harding’s “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy” and Daniel Domscheit Berg’s “Inside WikiLeaks”.

Now Paris-based OWNI.eu, which helped build apps for WikiLeaks to allow people to navigate the Iraq war logs and US embassy cables, is publishing Olivier Tesquet’s “WikiLeaks: A True Account” through its own publisher OWNI Books. The organisation boasts an “exceptional vantage point” on the whistleblowing group, and claims that Tesquet’s “thorough investigation” will shed light in the relationship between the WikiLeaks and OWNI.

OWNI Books publishes ebooks only, and this latest one will be the first published in three languages: French, English and Arabic.

Hot on the heels of the OWNI book – and the other behind-the-scenes accounts – will be a more academic take on the affair from Polis director Charlie Beckett and former WikiLeaks journalist James Ball.

The book was announced by Beckett at the Polis Value of Journalism conference on Friday and is expected within the next few months.

Coders meet journalists; journalists meet coders

Do journalists need to learn to code? Probably not, but those who can are likely to find themselves quickly snapped up by news organisations with interactive and data teams.

I have no grand hopes of learning to code properly, but I would like to feel a little more comfortable with the language and learn more about the ways programmers work and how it could help journalism.

That was one reason I went along to last night’s Ruby in the Pub informal meetup (tagged #RITP or #rubyinthepub on Twitter), initiated by journalists Joanna Geary and James Ball (even though James himself got stuck at work and missed the event).

The other reason was to meet brave souls playing in the programming-journalism no-man’s land. I think there are exciting things to come out of the programmer-journalist relationship. We’re already seeing that in projects led by mySociety and OpenlyLocal, in collaboration with bloggers and other media.

The US, of course, is streets ahead, with news organisations employing designated journalist-programmers. ProPublica, the non-profit investigative organisation, employs application developers and editors, integrated into the news team, as does the Chicago Tribune (for example). The New York Times has a dedicated interactive team – the head of which, Aron Pilhofer, came along to last night’s meet-up (he recently wrote about this new breed of ‘hacker-journalists’ at this link).

Over here, we’re seeing moves in the right direction (the Scott Trust now has a bursary for students who want to learn software development) and of course news organisations do employ developers, designers and programmers, but we’ve got some catching up to do in terms of integrating and prioritising programming skills.

[For some examples of interactives, visualisations and data-driven journalism follow this link]

So…what is Ruby? Ruby on Rails is a open source web application framework, using the Ruby language. Only a minority of programmers use it (you can see a comparison of frameworks at this Wikipedia link), but it was the consensus language agreed for the meet-up.

Developer Dave Goodchild (@buddhamagnet) was restricted by the lack of wifi, but nonetheless he did a grand job in educating us Ruby ignoramuses the very basics.

If you do decide to download RoR to have a proper play, Dave recommends building a blog – the format of which is easy to understand for a journalist – and following this online tutorial on the Ruby on Rails blog.

It was a brief introduction and the properly keen will have to do their homework to learn properly, but it’s good to hear developers explaining how they use it – and showing how quickly something can be built.

The evening was also a meeting of cultures; as journalists explained their various work brick walls and developers explained the differences between various coding languages and platforms.

Most useful for me was hearing about the projects developers are implementing in their respective organisations and the tools they are using.

Whether or not very much Ruby knowledge was gleaned by the hacks in one evening, I have great hopes for the conversation between programmers and journalists. It could result in some very innovative applications and stories that will help British journalists catch up with our US counterparts and break new ground.

If you would like to know more about interactives and data-driven journalism, check out the agenda for news:rewired – the nouveau niche (25-06-10) where these topics will be addressed. Buy your ticket (£80 + VAT) at this link. Speakers include OpenlyLocal’s Chris Taggart; the OnlineJournalismBlog’s Paul Bradshaw; and Ollie Williams from BBC Sport.

Open letter to the London Weekly and Invincible Media

After strong doubts about its viability and existence, the London Weekly did launch as the capital’s latest freesheet. Initial public reaction hasn’t been good. But despite a poor quality print and online product, and its producers’ elusiveness, the title has seemingly managed to attract advertisers. The Help Me Investigate group I set up last week has done some dogged online digging and for the latest task, user JWarren created a list of all the advertisers in the print product: Ticketmaster/Wicked Musical; Big Snow Festival; Seafrance; Southern Comfort; Aloud/Kerrang; Lyric Theatre; Celtic Blue Rock Festival; Zuricom; Envisage Recruitment; and Chisholm and Moore. Why are they backing the project and what do they know about Invincible Media? To join the Help Me Investigate group, email me for an invite or request an invite here.

Blogger James Ball feels that the London Weekly and Invincible Group, with which it is associated, have some questions to answer. He has sent an email to the editorial and commercial teams of the newspaper and to Invincible Group asking these questions.

“Virtually all need answers if The London Weekly wants to win any credibility with its sceptics,” he writes. [Read James Ball’s full post at this link]

Here are a few of the questions raised in the letter:

  • What is the precise nature of the relationship between The London Weekly and the Invincible Group? There is no mention of Invincible on thelondonweekly.co.uk, but the two businesses are run from the same office in Hackney, and share many staff (and web hosting) in common.
  • Who are the Global Publishing Group? Why is it not registered at Companies House? Has it ever made any previous investments – and why haven’t they received any coverage?
  • Why has The London Weekly not been registered as a limited company?
  • Does The London Weekly really have £10.5m backing? Can we speak to the backers?
  • Ex-footballer Tony Woodcock – who has previously been involved with [Invincible Group founder] GJordan Kensington at awards ceremonies – appeared on ITN as a co-founder of the project. Given his other businesses are registered on Companies House, why isn’t GPG or TLW?
  • The London Weekly was widely said to be very hard to get hold of on both Friday and Saturday [last week]. Was its print run 250,000? How many were distributed? Who was the printer?
  • Why does Invincible claim to have offices on the 30th floor of 14 Wall Street – one of the most prestigious business addresses in the world – yet operate out of a monthly-rental office in Hackney? And why, given Wall Street’s location, is the US phone number given based in California?
  • Where are Invincible Radio’s “millions of listeners”? The site redirects to a free streaming service with fewer than 20 followers.
  • Is Invincible Magazine still published? Its forum is populated solely by spam and in many categories there have been fewer than five news stories in the last three months.