Tag Archives: Rory Cellan-Jones

Google+ is now open to all – but are journalists using it?

Google last night (Tuesday, 20 September) announced that its social network is now open to all.

The was much optimism about Google+ when it launched in June, particularly among some journalists who were quick to share invites and sign up, but who is now using the newest social network?

A quick straw poll on Twitter suggests many are nonplussed (see tweets below).

Technology journalists, including the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones and Channel 4 News’ Benjamin Cohen – an early advocate who predicted Google+ could be a Twitter killer – are among those posting with enthusiasm.

So are journalists using all the features available? Despite these 10 ways journalists can use Google+ it appears most are simply using Plus for sharing stories and for conversations around them but are getting quality comments and a high level of engagement.

Even if you do not feel inclined to post or try out new features such as hangouts (video calls) on your phone, it is worth journalists being aware of one new feature: improved search – something Google should be good at.  You can now search topics as well as people. With more than one billion items shared and posted on Google+ every day, according to the announcement, it is worth keeping Plus in mind as a newsgathering tool.

Future of unpaid cit-J models: Dan Gillmor and Rory Cellan-Jones (audio)

I managed to grab a few minutes with both the Knight Center’s Dan Gillmor and BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones at yesterday’s Guardian Changing Media Summit 2010 to talk about the future of community generated journalism.

Rory Cellan-Jones thinks that “the place where citizen journalism is actually triumphing is Wikipedia”.

“It is becoming an instant news agency as well as a kind of journal of record and deep explanation of events, in a way the newspapers might find difficult to compete with.” But speaking as a journalist, he finds unpaid contribution based models, such as the Huffington Post’s, a “difficult” concept.

This and more (on Spotify and predictions for 2011) in this AudioBoo:

Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, and advisor to crowd-sourced site Spot.us, says there are questions to raise about unpaid models and sustainability. “People who run these sites should of course be fully aware there will be an ebb and flow of active users, that some people will start and then give up, and then some will be highly committed.” Citing fellow panellist iVillage network general manager Rebecca Miskin’s experience, he described how some unpaid community moderators eventually become paid employees.

Audio: Dan Gillmor on crowdsourced journalism:

Making money from registered (non-paying) users

Subscription revenues for FT.com have risen 43 per cent year-on-year, helping the newspaper keep in profit for 2009, the Guardian reports.

But its management has also flagged up the potential in other areas, too: BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan Jones’ interview with FT.com managing director Rob Grimshaw touches on the money-making potential of registered news site users – who don’t necessarily pay.

What’s interesting is that the middle group, those who register but don’t pay, are still proving lucrative. The 1.9 million people registered users have given some very basic information such as their job title.

That’s enough, according to Mr Grimshaw, to allow the FT to run a targeted advertising and marketing operation with high yields.

While the FT’s higher tier of paying subscribers brings in around £20 million a year, it is still thinking about the freeloading clientele.

So are non-paywalled publishers missing a trick by not setting up registration systems, for fear of traffic drop-off?

It’s perhaps worth going back to my interview with Rob Grimshaw in January:

User analytics
Monitoring the behaviour of 1.8 million registered users and 121,000 subscribers is a big part of the FT’s marketing strategy, he said.

“Their details are in a database: we have a lot of demographic information about them; we’re also able to combine that with their normal activity on the website. That data base is a goldmine that brings benefits to many parts of the business.”

Specific advertising can be exposed to a certain audience and direct communication can be made by email, he said. “1.8 million users have self-selected as people who are interested in our content and our business,” he added. “It is an area where there are enormous benefits to be gained.”

He argued that privacy is not infringed by the publication’s methods: “We never focus on behaviour of particular individuals: we are always looking at things in aggregate; how a sector of our database of users behaves.

“We would never allow an advertiser access to that [user information]. That would be both unacceptable and illegal.”

The success of companies like Amazon was due to carefully targeted marketing, he said:

“Some of the most successful companies out there have built their businesses by understanding the behaviour of their users in a very defined way; using their insight to develop their business decision making.”

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.

dot.Rory: Tips from Rory Cellan-Jones and Josh Halliday on online tools for reporting

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones and Sunderland University journalism student Josh Halliday offer some great tips and suggestions of tools to use for reporting online. There’s a strong focus on tools to help make your job as a journalist easier – whether that’s saving battery power on your laptop or mobile when filing a report or how to send large image files back to the newsroom from the field.

Worth a read by budding journalists and seasoned professionals alike.

Full post at this link…

dot.Rory: ‘When blogging meets policing’

The BBC technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, has followed up an incident reported on the Seismic Shock blog.

After publishing posts that accused an Anglican vicar, Stephen Sizer, of anti-Semitism, Seismic Shock’s author received a visit from two West Yorkshire police officers. West Yorkshire police has confirmed the incident:

“As a result of a report of harassment, which was referred to us by Surrey Police, two officers from West Yorkshire Police visited the author of the blog concerned. The feelings of the complainant were relayed to the author who voluntarily removed the blog. No formal action was taken.”

As Cellan-Jones says, many questions are raised: “(…) about the limits of free expression on the web, and the role of the police in pursuing complaints about the contents of a website”.

Full post at this link…

BBC Radio 4 Today: Pay walls discussed with @ruskin147 and @emilybell

This morning’s Today Programme discusses pay walls with BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones; Emily Bell, director of digital content at the Guardian; and Roger Parry, former chair of Johnston Press.

Johnston Press is – from this morning – to start charging for web access to some of its regional newspapers.

Cellan-Jones says it will be a ‘real test of the appetite of readers to actually pay for what’s online’.

Emily Bell makes the distinction between ‘paid content’ and ‘pay walls’; while she is sceptical about the future success of pay walls, people might be willing to pay for an iPhone app, for example, she says.

Full post at this link…

MediaGuardian: ‘Technology journalists are the ones to watch’

In this morning’s MediaGuardian, technology journalist Charles Arthur says that technology journalists are the pioneers of new gadgets, and the ones in the industry to keep an eye on:

“[I]f you want to find out how you’re going to be working in a few years’ time, watch the technology journalists.

“[The BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones] tends to be in the forefront of trying new technologies – from email to the web to Skype to cloud computing to iPhones to Facebook to Twitter.”

Full article at this link,,,

BBC Internet Blog: ‘Microblogging – the Editorial Policy Meeting’

Last week Journalism.co.uk reported on the BBC’s stance on social media use – in particular of Twitter – by its journalists; and the sometimes blurry divide between personal and professional use.

Writing on the BBC Internet Blog, Roo Reynolds, portfolio executive for social media, BBC Vision, details discussions within the corporation last week about microblogging and editorial policy.

Some very sound points were made:

– offer ‘principles and guidance’, education on the risks and dangers for journalists, but not set of fixed rules of how journalists can use social media;

– “[D]on’t say anything you wouldn’t say on air” – via technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147).

The BBC’s policy’s on microblogging are due an update, says Reynolds:

“The editorial guidelines will receive an update to give clearer advice on micro-blogging, but it won’t be a clampdown. The guidelines will continue to grow and evolve as new ways to interact with our users are discovered, constantly building on a foundation of the BBC’s values and helping people apply a healthy dose of common sense.”

Full post at this link…