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Sarah Hartley: Help investigate local authority news coverage

September 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Sarah Hartley has taken her own breakdown of local authority coverage in her local newspaper a step further by starting an investigation with collaborative website Help Me Investigate.com.

Using the site, Hartley wants to find out:

“How much local authority coverage is carried out by your local newspaper? Has it declined? Is it on the increase? Do readers prefer celebrity news? Does it matter? Who cares?”

People can sign up to the investigation at this link and submit information about newspaper coverage for different regions.

The idea is to survey newspapers in all regions of the UK to provide a more robust picture of what local newspapers cover – in particular in light of debates surrounding competition from local authorities’ own ‘newspapers’ and public service reporting.

Full post at this link…

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#FollowJourn: @pjeronimo/Pedro Jeronimo – sports editor

July 1st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Pedro Jerónimo

Who? Journalist and new media entrepreneur.

What? He’s editor of the sports section in Portuguese local newspaper O Mensageiro.

Where? @pjeronimo or Jornalices.

Contact? mail [at] jornalices [dot] com.

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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Anonymous local hack: They have ‘fundamentally destroyed the layout of my papers’

June 29th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Three warnings attached to this Ed Pick: 1. We don’t who he is, who he works for, or if it’s really true. 2. It contains very strong language. 3. This blogger might not be in a newspaper job for long if he gets the NightJack treatment.

Nonetheless, his comments warrant a link, we feel. ‘Blunt,’ who appears to hold a senior editorial news position at a nameless UK local paper, comments on the cruel effects of reduced pagination.

“In their infinite wisdom, my so-called bosses decided to reduce pagination over summer in order to cut costs. So far so sensible. It is a season where newspapers are always likely to make a loss. I expected to lose a few editorial pages as part of this drop in size and was actually looking forward to taking the foot off the gas a little and having a bit of fun.

“The plans for my new editions landed on my desk this morning and to be honest I felt like walking out there and then. Instead of a few back of the book pages being dropped, the fucktards in charge have fundamentally destroyed the layout of my papers.

“Full page ads are normally forbidden from the front of the book in order to give our dear readers the impression what we bring out is actually a newspaper. Now they litter my early pages. Back of the book far from being pared down is obliterated.”

FleetStreetBlues (another anonymous cynic) recommended ‘Blunt’ recently, as an example of raw but real newsroom blogging:

“Sure, he needs a sub. But it’s extremely readable and completely true. Nothing complicated – simply life on the front line of journalism, as told by someone who’s been around the block. It’s well worth reading.”

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Greenslade: ‘Putting my hyperlocal money where my hyperlocal mouth is’

A nice hyperlocal story in which Journalism.co.uk plays a wee bit o’ a role.

A few weeks ago a good discussion got going at the Frontline Club on the future of regional media.

Roy Greenslade, journalism professor, blogger and resident of Brighton said:

“It’s for the good of the whole community that it [a local newspaper] acts. That loss is something people won’t necessarily be fighting for because they don’t know they’re losing it. We as journalists – that’s our job – it’s for us to ensure that we try and fight to save it.”

In the audience, next to your very own Journalism.co.uk contingent (we didn’t quite out-number the ex-Press Gazetters) sat Jo Wadsworth, who started as web editor of the Brighton Argus in February.

Now – as context – Jo Wadsworth had corrected one ‘Weige’ on Greenslade’s blog a little while back. Weige had it on ‘good authority’ that the Argus didn’t have an online team. Oh yes it does, retorted its new web editor.

Fast-forward a few months: Greenslade’s comments at the Frontline got Wadsworth thinking. Wouldn’t it be good to get him to put his hyperlocal money where his hyperlocal mouth was, she cheekily joked to Journalism.co.uk afterwards. Go on… we egged her on. J.co.uk, for one, had been impressed by his local butcher knowledge over a drink in the bar afterwards.

So, today comes this announcement from Roy Greenslade:

“So, dear readers, since I happen to live – at least part of the year, anyway – in the city of Brighton and Hove, I am planning to become the community reporter for the Kemp Town area of Brighton.

“Now that’s what I call going back to basics.”

Jo Wadsworth had this to say to Journalism.co.uk: “We were talking after the Frontline event about Kemp Town, where I’ve just moved to, and it became very clear he was passionate about the neighbourhood he’s lived in for many years. From there, it was an obvious step to take to invite him to be our newest community correspondent – and the first, I hope of many more.”

And Greenslade? His patch is not exactly defined yet, he told Journalism.co.uk, but he has started to form some ideas.

“I hope to take up topical issues raised by the people who live in what is a very diverse community, whether it be the proposals to develop the marina and the Blackrock shoreline or the continuing annoyance of litter and rubbish on the streets. And I expect to open a dialogue with the city’s councillors who represent the area. What do they do? Who are the community police officers, and how do they operate?

“I want to highlight some of the characters who one sees on the streets and in the shops. I also plan to deal with some of the rich history of the Regency houses, which were originally homes to the titled, the famous and well-heeled.  Though there are  many blue plaques in this area, for example, many the names mean nothing to current residents. Who was Harrison Ainsworth, for instance, the man who once lived in the Arundel Terrace house where I have lived for 38 years?

“I guess I might get into arts and culture too, with the Bombay Bar as one obvious prospect.”

We’ll keep you posted with the link to Greenslade’s content when it goes live. Journalism.co.uk, also residents of Brighton, will definitely be making the most of his local contribution.

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A local Twitter tool for local journalists

twitterlocalTwitterlocal allows you to follow posts on Twitter made by people from a geographical location of your choice.

Now a downloadable AIR desktop application, this is a must-have tool for local newspaper or broadcast journalists who want to monitor Twitter chat in their local beat.

For national journalists, it could be a useful tool to monitor chat around a breaking news event in a specific location, anywhere in the world.

Try, for example, entering Melbourne, Australia into the application with a 10-mile radius. You will see Tweets about the bush fires (if you are doing this around the date this post was published!)

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NewspaperDeathWatch: Rounding up 2008 trends

January 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Newspaper Death Watch rounds up trends for 2008, starting with the Gallup research that showed ’31 per cent of US adults now consult the internet daily for news while 40 per cent read a local newspaper’.

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Local newspaper sees high traffic for online memorial

November 12th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

By creating an online version of the newspaper’s announcements page, the Limerick Leader has made its site the ‘focal point for entire community’s grieving,’ a press release from iAnnounce, the company which developed the page, said.

More than 17,600 people have now visited the Limerick Leader’s iAnnounce page for 28 year old Shane Geoghegan, who was shot dead in Kilteragh, Ireland, at the weekend.

Since the page was set up 36 hours ago, more than 8,500 ‘virtual candles’ have been lit and 2,000 messages of condolence written.

“The unexpected death of such a popular man as Shane has affected this very close community,” said Alex Stitt, the managing director of iAnnounce, in the release.

“It is a sign of the internet age that they have turned to online messaging to express their shock and sorrow at what has happened.”

iAnnounce is  used by various newspapers in the Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror and Newsquest newspaper groups, and was developed to make use social network tools for newspaper birth, deaths and marriages notices.

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Who said newspaper letter pages were dead? Prisoner finds time on the run

October 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Liked this on Hold the Front Page this morning: an escaped prisoner took time to drop an email to his (ex?) local newspaper, the Courier, to correct them on a story:

“I read online your reporter’s untrue comments relating to my absconding from Castle Huntle [sic] open estate.The comments say I preyed on the elderly and vulnerable people. This is most certainly not true.”

HOTFP reports that Derek Watson ‘failed to return to Castle Huntly open prison on October 8 after a week-long release. He was sentenced to five years in prison last year on 25 charges of fraud.’

HOTFP quotes Ian Lamb editorial manager for Courier publisher DC Thomson, as saying that the prisoner “has complained about our coverage about his misdeeds in the past … but it’s quite bizarre that a convicted criminal who has absconded from an open prison would appear to be e-mailing us.”

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New blog series: Am I too old to become a journalist?

October 2nd, 2008 | 37 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Training

“So you want to be a journalist,” declares the college leaflet or job advice site.

Yes, of course you do but what if you think you might be too old, have no proper training, did not go to Cambridge or Oxford, have no relatives in the industry and all the other clichés people like to trot out? What if you have all of the above but still don’t seem to be able to get a job?

I have just started a fast-track NCTJ course at Lambeth College in London at the grand old age of 28 and before that I was freelancing without any proper training.

When I finally decided to become a journalist I had loads of questions. Everything from whether to do a course, what ‘off the record’ really means and whether my hoovering to working ratio was slightly unbalanced as a freelancer.

Everyday the Journalism.co.uk forum is peppered with similar questions – well, maybe not the hoovering one – from would-be journalists.

This blog series isn’t designed to tell you what to do to become a journalist. Instead it will chart my progress through the 18-weeks of what is turning out to be utter boot camp – 2 hours per night shorthand practice anyone?

Any work experience I do will also be covered as will networking events with views and opinions from seasoned hacks and the gruelling task of actually getting a job at the end of it.

Hopefully it will dispel some of the myths surrounding the NCTJ and whether you truly need it to succeed – the industry from a rookie’s point of view – and be an agony aunt of sorts to questions like ‘help, I want to be a journalist, but don’t know where to start’.

Amy Oliver has been meaning to become a journalist from about the age of 5, but got slightly sidetracked by the possibility of earning money. She has been freelancing since 2007 and in that time has written for The Times, The Guardian, You magazine, Vogue, Vague Paper as well as local newspaper Bridport News in her hometown of Bridport, Dorset.

She has just started a fast-track NCTJ course at Lambeth College and blogs about her experiences as a slightly mature trainee and not going down the conventional route into journalism. She lives and works in London.

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Bergens Tidende asks users to map traffic hotspots

September 5th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

“Bergens Tidende, our local paper, has a shining example today of how a local newspaper can gather and report local news simultaneously by coordinating reader participation in a very easy-to-contribute mashup focusing on an issue of huge importance to Bergeners right now, though it’s of absolutely no wider interest”, writes Jill Walker Rettberg, an associate professor at the University of Bergen, on her blog.

That issue is traffic: Bergen, a city on the west coast of Norway, is currently building a light rail system through Bergen, and the road works and constantly changing detours are causing major traffic problems.

“We decided to do something different to report on the exasperating traffic situation in the city, ” Jan Stian Vold of Bt.no told me.

What the news site came up with, in addition to their normal coverage, was a Google Map where readers could plot in where they encountered traffic problems.

It asked its readers: ‘Where are the bottlenecks in the Bergen-traffic? How does the construction of the light rail system effect you?’

Walker Rettberg is also rather impressed by the anti-spam measures: “You enter your mobile phone number and instantly receive an SMS with a code that you then type into the website to confirm that you’re an actual person and that you’re a different person to all the other people who’ve entered their comments,” she writes.

This works as an efficient way of identifying people as all mobile phone numbers are registered by law in Norway.

Requiring users to register does raise the threshold for participation, but this has not deterred Bergeners, as around 400 people have reported their traffic problems so far, according to Vold.

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