Tag Archives: Online publishing

Former Mail and Telegraph health editor launches online magazine

Former Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail health editor Victoria Lambert has launched a new online magazine today dedicated to making health stories accessible to the general public.

Under the Scope features blog posts, articles and features on topics ranging from specific conditions to general health stories and product reviews. The site is published by Lambert’s own media company Dysart Press Ltd.

Speaking of her motivation for the site, Lambert said:

I wanted to set up a website where people could go for information, to talk about health, to discuss what’s going on with their own health, perhaps to discuss what’s going on with the nation’s health. I want it to be a place where people can think about the NHS, what’s happening to it and what they think should happen to it. But I also want to be a resource where people can go and enjoy reading about health stories, find new information, find out about products, find out about doctors, and also find out where to go for more information because that’s really crucial.

There are plans for a series of web-only video interviews with world experts on a range of medical conditions:

I’ve just been speaking to Professor Lord Ajay Kakkar who is director of the Thrombosis Research Institute and professor of surgery at UCL and he’s been telling me about thombosis, he’s one of the world’s experts. To get the chance just to have five minutes with him is so fantastic and I just think it’s great to be able to share that.

Lambert insists her readers and Twitter followers will have a big part to play in the future of the site:

Everyone who knows me knows I like a chat, I love a conversation. So I’m encouraging people to chat to me across the forum, keeping chatting to me on Twitter. We’ll be blogging every day, if not me, somebody else will be having a shout about something. I really want people to join in, that would be good fun.

In the long-term I’d like to think that it’s going to a place not only where the public come but also health experts and also become a place where other health journalists want to put their stories.

Lambert’s work has featured in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Guardian as well as Woman & Home and SAGA magazine. In 2011 she was recognised as Best Cancer Writer by the European School of Oncology.

Online publisher sees traffic increase with fewer articles

Marc Thomas is an online magazine publisher based in Cardiff and the creator of Plastik magazine. In a blog post today  he says he noticed his site’s traffic went up when he published fewer articles:

At some point, a website hits a critical mass of articles which means publishing less frequently doesn’t matter for site stats.

There was a point, say about July last year, when I had to work really hard to get people to visit Plastik Magazine. While it was popular, I needed a couple of thousand unique users monthly to be able to attract any kind of commercial interest (advertisers, sponsors, big names).

However, back in January, I made a conscious effort to publish less frequently but publish better stuff. I imagined that I might publish one article a day, five days a week. What actually happened is that on a really busy week, I published three or four articles in total. Then, in quiet weeks, I might publish one small piece or nothing at all.

Weirdly, my traffic went up.

Thomas theorises this might be due to a critical mass of articles and a heavy investment in SEO, but is seeking other theories or similar stories. Read the full article and get in touch with him here.

Publishing Expo: Tablets, smartphones and strategies

Talk at this year’s Publishing Expo is rapidly taking on a back-to-basics theme, with some big names at this morning’s keynote session suggesting the industry took its eye off the ball and forgot about content.

With BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas in the chair, Neil Thackray from the Media Briefing, consultant Dominic Jacquesson and designer Jeremy Leslie from Magculture.com attempted to thrash out where the industry is going, and whether it’s in the right direction.

Jacquesson opened up with a summary of a report he’s just compiled for the Media Briefing.

“This shows that most of your readers will own a smartphone or tablet by 2015,” he told the crowd crammed into the session. Mobile apps, he said, were here to stay, with app downloads set to hit the 24 billion mark by 2013.

What’s also vital, Jacquesson said, is “the simple pay environment” that Apple has created.

Facebook was also a major feature of the discussion. It’s set to be a predominantly mobile app-based service by 2012 and, with the average user spending one-and-a-half hours a day on it, “it is your major competitor said Jacquesson. He takes the view that circulations of print publications will halve in five years, with time spent on mobile devices eating into media consumption time.

Neil Thackray followed up by warning that it was wrong “to be seduced by the beauty and wonder of the iPad“. He said consumers would “get used to it” and so “we shouldn’t just spit out a magazine as an iPad app.” He urged the industry to “go back to first principles and ask ‘what can we produce that readers find interesting or useful. Then provide them with a suite of applications to enable them to engage with what you produce.”

Jeremy Leslie agreed. “Don’t forget to ask ‘why?’,” he said. “What is your audience? What do you want to give them? What is the best way of doing it?” he also took issue with Jacquesson’s view that time spent on social media eats in to traditional media consumption, using the example of his 15-year-old son who “organises his life on Facebook and watches TV at the same time”.

There was some discussion of the Daily when Thackray chipped in with the comment that “we need to do things that are simple, not complicated.” The Daily was “bloody complicated” he said. Leslie added that it was “too generic. You need a tone of voice in what you say and in your design.”

Thackray asked “Why do we think we can do what we did in traditional media on new devices?” His advice was to “go out and find out about all the different things that can be done with a smartphone or tablet app.” Jacquesson agred, saying: “If the print circulation is going down, the right solution cannot be to build an app version of the print product.”

But he also said: “Successful apps have been a continuation of a strategy already in place.” He used the example of Autotrader, which developed an app on top of its existing offer which used location services to put buyers in touch with dealers and offer them the chance to contact them in return for a slice of the completed deal.

Leslie closed on an optimistic note, talking of “natural readjustment” in a industry “where too many mags were chasing too few readers”.

“Even if the number of mags does fall 50 per cent, there are still 25 per cent more mags than there were 20 years ago.”

This may seem blasé, but Leslie’s point was echoed by the panel. Future success will be in innovation and quality content, rather than in simply embracing whatever technology comes along.

Image by curious lee on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

New survey looks at independent online publishers’ experiences of media law

Last month former Journalism.co.uk reporter Judith Townend conducted a survey into UK independent online publishers’ experience of media law.

It’s worth reading the findings from 71 respondents in full, especially the answers from participants on how they get legal advice and help. For independent sites (or those with a staff of fewer than 10) the reasons behind setting up the site have a strong influence on how they handle with legal complaints, as one publisher explained:

One publisher said a potentially tricky problem went away without any response on their part, after they were contacted by a company that had been the subject of a user’s comment on the site: “Chose to play dead and not respond to [the email] and wait and see… [we] would have removed item if legally threatened – not close enough to our own cause to be worth a big fight. Have heard no more though.”

For those writing for a campaigning purpose or who are highly critical of others in their writing, legal issues aren’t going to deter them from continuing their fight, it seems. For others, libel, copyright and other issues haven’t yet been a problem because their subject matter or publishing style hasn’t yet caused these conflicts.

Many others use a network of peers and through social media to source legal pointers and advice, often avoiding costly fees. But there’s a sense from respondents that this ad hoc approach, while useful, may not stand greater legal stress or develop as quickly as a publisher’s own needs.

Full survey results are available on Meeja Law at this link…

OJB: What online publishers can learn from Ofcom’s internet research

Writing on the Online Journalism Blog, Paul Bradshaw shares key points from the internet section of Ofcom’s latest report on The Communications Market 2010, analysing the implications of each for online publishers.

1: Mobile is genuinely significant: 23 per cent of UK users now access the web on mobile phones (but 27 per cent still have no access to the web on any device).

Implication: We should be thinking about mobile as another medium, with different generic qualities to print, broadcast or web, and different consumption and distribution patterns.

Full post at this link

‘The Battle of Bandwidth’: Online publishers at risk from ISP pricing changes

Interesting blog from the Online Journalism Review site, about the dangers to online publishers if internet service providers (ISPs) adapt pricing models based on usage.

According to the author Robert Niles, “the next great battle in the journalism industry will be the Battle of Bandwidth”.

Internet Service Providers clearly don’t want to continue offering a one-price-buys-everything option. ISPs have shown that they favor a pricing model where certain users have to pay more to use more bandwidth. While there’s some logical appeal to the idea of making the heaviest users of the Internet pay the most for their use, metered traffic online creates profound challenges for online content producers.

He concludes his blog with a plea to online publishers to support calls for the government to subsidise increased bandwidth for all.

Access to bandwidth is the issue that will nurture, or kill, online news and information businesses in the years to come. If you’re publishing online, you need to fight for your access to bandwidth – and your potential audience’s access to it, as well.

See the full article here…

#wmf: The general news business is dead; RIP, says Mirror’s digital director

Digital content director for the Mirror Group Matt Kelly is well-known for his provocative speeches – see his talk to the World Association of Newspapers’ annual congress in December in which he said online newspapers had prostituted themselves online and treated SEO as “the be-all and end-all of online publishing”, devaluing readers in the process.

We’ll be reporting his remarks in full shortly from today’s Westminster Media Forum event ‘The Future of News Media’ (as well as Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow’s optimistic note for journalists), including what he told Journalism.co.uk about Mirror.co.uk’s plans for more niches building on its Mirror Football and 3am.

But for starters:

  • “The general news business is dead. If all you have to peddle is general news, then rest in peace.”
  • “Newspapers aren’t in the sharp news game; we haven’t been for some time. We are in the audience business.”
  • “Thirty million customers [online] and no profit isn’t what I’d call a business.”
  • “Publishers need to re-establish in our online businesses that sense of value, brand and uniqueness that we have taken so much trouble to do in print.”
  • “The newspaper industry is far from blameless in this situation [free content online]”

More to follow…

Journalism.co.uk backs Libel Reform Campaign

Journalism.co.uk has pledged its support to the Libel Reform Campaign, run by Index on Censorship, Sense About Science and English PEN to overhaul current legislation, bringing in a new bill that caps libel case fees for lawyers and addresses the impact of online publishing on libel.

Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

Our pledge:

As a small, online publisher, we are acutely aware of the ‘chilling effect’ that current libel legislation and the excessive cost of libel trials in the UK can have on freedom of expression and journalism. We support the Libel Reform Campaign and the changes it proposes, which advocate journalists’ right to criticise and question those in power and positions of influence.

The petition can be signed at this link.

Some of the listed supporters:

Advice from Guardian.co.uk’s online journalism Q&A

On Friday Journalism.co.uk took part in a live Q&A  hosted by the The Guardian’s careers section, allowing new and experienced journalists the opportunity to ask industry professionals for advice on conquering the world of online journalism.

The multimedia panel on hand to answer questions were:

Paul Gallagher, head of online editorial, Manchester Evening News
Laura-Jane Filotrani, site editor, Guardian Careers
Sarah Hartley, digital editor, The Guardian
Alison Gow, executive editor, digital, Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post
Laura Oliver, senior reporter, Journalism. co.uk
Madeline Bennett, editor of technology news sites V3.co.uk and The Inquirer
Paul Bradshaw, senior lecturer in online journalism, Birmingham City University
John Hand, duty editor, UK desk BBC News website
Alison White, community moderator, The Guardian

Here’s our round-up of the best advice from Friday’s event on how to make it as a successful online journalist in the digital age. You can also read the panel’s responses in full on the online journalism Q&A page on Guardian.co.uk.

Jump to:

What is the best subject to study to help me break into journalism?

[asked by Matt, who is studying English literature and language at college and asked if going on to study an English degree would help him prepare for a career in journalism]

John Hand: “I’m often asked which is the best subject to study at university and the answer is really that there is no particularly bad choice. The best newsroom has a good mix of people with different knowledge areas – for example, I think every editor in the country would love to have someone with the in-depth health knowledge of a medical degree on their team. Of course, any degree course that allows you to develop your writing and analytical skills (I always think history is a clever choice) would be better than most.

“The most important thing is to get some vocational training. Many editors themselves initially came through NCTJ courses (http://www.nctj.com/) so would respect those, but there are also many media organisations that offer their own in-house (or even external) training. If you want to get into news journalism, the key question to ask of any training scheme is how good their law course is.”

Sarah Hartley: “Grab as much work experience as you can throughout your uni years. Who knows what the economic climate will be like when you graduate but it may well be that you can find an employer who will put you through a block release course or similar. New schemes for apprenticeships, internships and such are bound to come through in that time.”

Madeline Bennett: “Has your college got a student newspaper or website? If so, volunteering to write for that would be a good starting point and showcase for your work. If not, why not start one? This is also the case for when you go to uni, student papers can be a great place to launch your journalism career.”

But what if I can’t afford to go to university?

[Forum user Dan Holloway asked: how does someone who has no choice but carry on a full-time job to make ends meet go about switching careers to online journalism?]

Alison White: “My advice would be to perhaps take some evening classes in journalism if possible – while I was at uni I did a 10-week course, one evening a week, about freelancing and a two-day course about getting into journalism. Or how about some work experience? Newspapers and other organisations are less well-staffed at weekends, I’m sure they’d appreciate some help with uploading content or other duties. Once you’ve got to know some people you can always keep in touch in the hope they might point you towards job opportunities or further work experience.”

Madeline Bennett: “Look for courses that focus on online journalism or multimedia skills, there might be some weekend or evening classes available that you can do to support your NCTJ. Also these courses are a good place to meet people who can help you get your first job in journalism, as they’ll often be run by current working journalists.”

Laura Oliver: “Start experimenting – if you can find the time outside of work to run a blog, contribute to other websites, you’ll learn a great deal about the basics of online publishing. Contact sites and other blogs that interest you and offer postings. Look at successful bloggers and think about what they are doing that makes them influential/profitable. Here are a couple of posts that might help too regarding building an online brand as a journalist:

“http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/08/17/adam-westbrook-6×6-branding-for-freelance-journalists/

“http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/534896.php

What skills do I need to be an online journalist?

[Forum user Dean Best asked: what are the top online-specific skills I should attain to improve my online skills and better my chances of moving up the ladder?]

Laura-Jane Filotrani: “To be able to demonstrate a passion for digital – by this I mean that you are active online; you use the net; you have a profile online; you use and understand community; you are excited by being able to reach people using the internet; you want to find out the latest developments.”

Alison White: “A good knowledge of SEO and the importance of linking to others and providing ‘added value’ to the reader; i.e. give them the story but perhaps with a link to a video, an online petition, a Facebook page etc. News to me seems more of a package now rather than a traditional delivery.”

Paul Bradshaw:

“1. Understand how RSS works and how that can improve your newsgathering, production and distribution. I cover a little of that in this post:

“http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2008/04/21/rss-social-media-passive-aggressive-newsgathering-a-model-for-the-21st-century-newsroom-part-2-addendum/

“2. Engage with online communities around your specialist area, help them, provide valuable information and contacts, and then when you need help on something, they’ll be there for you in return. It will also build a distribution network for your content.

“3. Possibly hardest, but force yourself to experiment and make mistakes with all sorts of media. If you can make yourself entertaining as well as informative then that can really work very well.”

How can I make the transition to online journalism?

[‘Malini’ asked: how do I go about breaking into the field of online journalism? And why would anyone pay and retain a writer when they can easily get so much content for free?]

Paul Bradshaw: “Use free writing to build a reputation and contacts; and sell the valuable stuff that you generate from that. Ultimately you should aim to become reliable enough for them to want to hire you when they are hiring.”

Sarah Hartley: “Writers have always provided free content – be it letters to the editor, local band reviews, poetry or whatever, so being online will only further the opportunity for that sort of exposure and that can only be a good thing for diversity and choice.”

Paul Gallagher: “I have taught myself some coding skills like HTML and I believe it does help a lot to have some technical knowledge, not necessarily because you will need them in the job but because it really helps to be able to communicate well with the programmers and developers in your company.”

Media140: Pat Kane on using social media and journalism

“Reading a newspaper on a street corner might be seen as banal. What’s becoming just as banal is producing news on that street corner,” Pat Kane, co-founder of the Sunday Herald and author of ‘The Play ethic’, said in his opener at today’s Media140 conference.

The growth of social media and online publishing is showing ‘just how quotidian and everyday the practice of journalism becomes in this everyday environment’, he added.

Speaking at the microblogging and journalism event, Kane said there are some key reasons/benefits for journalists using social media tools:

  • Beat reporting
  • Early warning system– communities decide what’s the news. “Twitter’s the canary in the coal mine – Overlap with trad journalism
  • Real-time content
  • Traceable sources/interviewees/leads – “How much better can journalism practice be in a civic space?” asked Kane. Social media can be ‘an enrichment of a classic journalistic process’.
  • Can you help? – asking readers for tips, feedback etc
  • As a promotional tool
  • An expertise archive – “Used to be called desk research, now it’s handheld device responsiveness.”

But asks Kane:

“How distributive and collaborative are journalists prepared to be?”

“To what extent might the Darwinian acid that new media is throwing onto organisations transform them?