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Currybet: There is a lot of data journalism to be done on riots

August 12th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Editors' pick

In a blog post today (12 August), information architect at the Guardian, Martin Belam, calls on journalists to make the most of the data now available in relation to the riots which took place this week.

He says using the data is “vital” and the resulting journalism will have the power to “help us untangle the truth from those prejudiced assumptions”. But he adds about the importance of ensuring the data is not misinterpreted in time to come.

The impact of the riots is going to be felt in data-driven stories for months and years to come. I’ve no doubt that experienced data crunchers like Simon Rogers or Conrad Quilty-Harper will factor it into their work, but I anticipate that in six months time we’ll be seeing stories about a sudden percentage rise in crime in Enfield or Central Manchester, without specific reference to the riots. The journalists writing them won’t have isolated the events of the last few days as exceptions to the general trend.

… There can be genuine social consequences to the misinterpretation of data. If the postcodes in Enfield become marked as a place where crime is now more likely as a result of one night of violence, then house prices could be depressed and insurance costs will rise, meaning the effects of the riots will still be felt long after broken windows are replaced. It is the responsibility of the media to use this data in a way that helps us understand the riots, not in a way that prolongs their negative impact.

Read his full post here…

This followed a blog post by digital strategist Kevin Anderson back on Sunday, when he discussed how the circumstances provide an opportunity for data journalists to work with social scientists and use data to test speculated theories, with reference to the data journalism which took place after the 1967 riots in Detroit.

… I’m sure that we’ll see hours of speculation on television and acres of newsprint positing theories. However, theories need to be tested. The Detroit riots showed that a partnership amongst social scientists, foundations, the local community and journalists can prove or disprove these theories and hopefully provide solutions rather than recriminations.

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#followjourn: @kevglobal – Kevin Anderson/freelance

July 21st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#followjourn: Kevin Anderson

Who? Freelance journalist and digital strategist

Where? Kevin worked at the BBC for eight years, before being made the Guardian’s first blogs editor in September 2006. He went on to become digital research editor at the Guardian from 2009-2010. He writes on the blog Strange Attractor, and was a speaker at Journalism.co.uk’s June conference, news:rewired – the nouveau niche

Contact? @kevglobal

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 laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Technology: both good and bad for human rights

At an interactive event at Amnesty UK on Monday, the panel, audience and back-channel contributors (tweets were beamed up on a screen behind) discussed the pros and cons of using technology for human rights. The underlying conflict was this: repressive governments and regimes can make as much use of new technology as pro-democracy activists.

The panel included Google’s head of public policy and government relations, Susan Pointer; Guardian’s digital media research editor, Kevin Anderson; Annabelle Sreberny, professor of global media and communication at SOAS; and author and blogger Andrew Keen: who spoke from the US via an iPhone held up to the mic by the event chair, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

At the end, the conversation turned to Amnesty’s own changing use of technology to fight battles: letters were still important, said Steve Ballinger from its media unit. While email now played an important role, there was still something very “physical” about sending a letter, he said.

The event was put on by the human rights charity to promote its annual media awards, which freelancers, or journalists at small online publications, may be able to enter for free.

Amnesty also used the occasion to remind us of the plight of two bloggers from Azerbaijan. After producing a spoof YouTube video critical of the Azeri government last year, the youth activists were sentenced to prison; Emin Abdullayev for 2.5 years; Adnan Hajizade for two years. An appeal hearing is due for 3 March. Amnesty is calling for people to send protest emails to the minister of justice in Azerbaijan at this link.

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Election fall out – between journalists

Following last week’s election 2.0 debate at the Frontline Club, the Guardian’s digital media research editor, Kevin Anderson shared some fairly critical thoughts on his personal blog. Moderator, Sky News political correspondent Niall Paterson (social media practitioner but sceptic) wasn’t too impressed by Anderson’s charges against him.

It’s difficult to summarise this one fairly, so I’d urge you to follow the link and read the 11 comments – most of them mini-essays – in full, if you’re interested in the election, journalists and the influence of social media in politics. But mostly if you’re interested in the politics of journalism 2010.

The subsequent blog run-in is very illustrative of some of the ongoing tensions in newsrooms: the perceived regard held for online-only journalists or social media specialists; the tools-for-tools sake debate; and how (or how not) to prioritise social media in our work.

Maybe, like Anderson says, we need to start thinking about the impact of social media on the people not the journalism at these events, but in the meantime, this debate is worth a read.

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What’s the average cost of a news article?

February 11th, 2010 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Business, Journalism, Newspapers

Media journalist Patrick Smith asks on this blog today How much is an article worth? His answer, as far as likely online readers are concerned, is very little.

This got me thinking. How much does a news article cost to produce? Journalism.co.uk is an online-only operation – a bootstrap operation as Kevin Anderson once called it – and obviously has much lower overheads than London-based national newsaper businesses. But if we could work out the cost-per-article for our own business, then that would at least provide a baseline guide to the likely costs to Murdoch et al.

Taking into account wages, expenses and a percentage of overall overheads (rent, bills etc), but discounting non-news-related administration, aggregation, tip of the days etc, we calculated the average cost of an article (feature, news story or blog post) to be around £37.00.

We have no intention of erecting a paywall around our news content, but if we were to, just to recoup that expenditure we would need 370 people to pay 10p each to read each article, or 3,700 to pay 1p each. In 2009, the average number of page views per article on our blog and main site was 440 (this includes all our aggregation posts, which probably skew the figure downwards slightly) but that means at current traffic levels we would need a model of 10p per article to be paid for by 84 per cent of our current readers.

Factoring in the much greater overheads of national newspaper publications, I would guess that the cost per article could be as much as 10 times the cost to us, perhaps around the £400 mark. I could be wildly off, and would be very interested to hear from anyone who has actually analysed this properly, but I think it is pretty obvious that there is a serious problem with the paywall model as a sole path to profitable news production.

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Journalism’s future at the Frontline: ‘The snails attacked us!’

January 29th, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

“Aagh, it’s the attack of the snails!” is how Kevin Anderson, digital research editor at the Guardian described the news industry’s reaction to revenue destroying online technology – just what were publishers doing in the mid-90s when the web was first growing, he asked.

Anderson, who describes himself as a digital native since the web’s earliest days, joined a panel of fellow digital enthusiasts at the Frontline Club last night to discuss the dreaded ‘future of journalism’ question: RBI’s head of editorial development, Karl Schneider; Peter Kirwan, media columnist; and Ilicco Elia, head of mobile at Reuters Consumer Media.

Kirwan commented how few of the audience actually paid for news. Anderson also played the sceptical card, pointing out how the Guardian was looking to Guardian Professional and events for alternative funding streams.

Anderson also flagged up the potential for social enterprise type start-ups and collaborative working groups, such as ‘newsroom’ cafes in the Czech Republic.

Karl Schneider – who talked about the value of journalism in providing specific business services – said that 60 per cent of RBI’s revenue comes from online. The industry was “too negative” about the scope for digital advertising, he added.

But the most practical tips of the night came from Ilicco Elia, in our breakout groups: if you’ve got a website, build a mobile site. Don’t make it complicated, make it as simple as possible. (If you want pointers,  he’ll no doubt be happy to help point you in the right direction: he’s @ilicco on Twitter.)

The crowd was as good value as the panel, with many of Journalism.co.uk’s favourite media bloggers: organiser Patrick Smith; Adam Tinworth from RBI; Kate Day, head of communities at the Telegraph; Martin Stabe, online editor at Retail Week;  and Jon Slattery… of the Jon Slattery Blog.

Excitingly we also had chance to spot the newbie Guardian beat bloggers (who later headed off for dinner with Guardian Local mentor/boss Sarah Hartley and new  colleague Kevin Anderson): Hannah Waldram (Cardiff); John Baron (Leeds) and Tom Allan (Edinburgh).

Those interested in continuing the discussion should check out the UK Future of News Group – and its regional nests, springing up over the UK (Brighton, South Wales and West Midlands, so far).

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Round-up: Charging for online – Murdoch and the FT

August 10th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Quick link post rounding up some of this weekend’s chatter following Rupert Murdoch’s latest decision that News Corp properties will start charging for access to online news by 2010.

Kevin Anderson on Guardian.co.uk asks what news organisations can learn from the music, video and games industries when it comes to charging for online – especially relevant given the Financial Time’s announcement that it is considering introducing a ‘pay-per-article’ system.

On econsultancy Malcolm Coles address the frequently voiced arguments against Murdoch’s plans (e.g. it won’t work unless all sites start charging) in a mythbusting post.

(Backing up Coles points that people, outside of WSJ and FT readers will pay for content, is Press Gazette’s report that Which? increased online subscriptions by 11 per cent in the year to the end of June.)

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PDA: Journalists and developers join forces for Guardian Hack Day 2

Nice round-up from Kevin Anderson on the projects created at the Guardian’s second Hack Day – an event to see ‘what journalists and developers could come up with in just a day’.

Projects included:

  • a visualisation of swine flu news – showing the number of news stories compared with outbreak areas that had received less coverage
  • creating Google gadgets for individual Guardian sections
  • an iPhone app alerting users to Guardian events and helping them find their way their with Google maps

Idea-inspiring stuff.

Full post at this link…

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NewsInnovation videos from @newsmatters: featuring @kevglobal, @currybet, @markng, @simonw, @willperrin

The Media Standards Trust has finished uploading content from its NewsInnovation event, held in association with NESTA and the WSRI, earlier this month to its YouTube channel.

[Previous Journalism.co.uk coverage at this link]

We’ll embed the first segment of each session, and for further installments follow the links below each video.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

  • Kevin Anderson (@kevglobal) Guardian blogs editor talks about news business models.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Ben Campbell talks about the Media Standards Trust website, Journalisted.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Will Perrin (@willperrin) on digital possibilities for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.

Part 2.

  • Simon Willison (@simonw) of The Guardian talks about using the crowd to sift through MPs’ expenses.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

  • Martin Belam (@currybet) information architect at the Guardian on ‘The tyranny of chronology’.

Part 2, Part 3.

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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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