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#soe09: Audio – Trinity Mirror’s Neil Benson on newspapers as PR agencies

November 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

There was a mixed reaction (as you might expect from a room full of newspaper editors) to Trinity Mirror Regionals’ editorial director Neil Benson’s suggestion yesterday that newspaper groups could make money from running ‘arm’s length PR agencies’.

Journalism.co.uk spoke to Benson at the Society of Editors conference to find out more about the scheme in Northumberland (in which he refers to Brian Aitken, editor of the Journal) and the potential for newspaper groups to work with local authorities:

Below he explains why newspapers running PR agencies in-house could work:

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#soe09: Guardian’s Paul Lewis wins ‘Rat up a drainpipe’ Award

November 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

Guardian journalist Paul Lewis was last night awarded the ‘Rat up a drainpipe’ or Bevins Prize for investigative journalism.

Lewis won the accolade for his investigation into the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson at this year’s G20 protests in London.

Lewis was shortlisted for the Paul Foot award last month for the same investigation.

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#soe09: Google doesn’t need newspapers – but do newspapers need it?

November 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Search

Google doesn’t need newspapers – it’s official; but its users do, Matt Brittin, UK director of Google, told the Society of Editors conference today.

Some key points from Brittin:

  • “Taking content out of Google news is a political statement (…) but experimentation is good.”
  • “One of the reasons we’re working with a lot of publishers is because we passionately believe that the internet needs to have quality content on it.”
  • “Does Google need news content to survive in this year? No (…) Economically it’s not a big part of how we generate revenue, but the value of the internet to consumers is all about finding great content online.”
  • “We’re a technology company and we’ll try and contribute technology that helps [e.g. Fast Flip, micropayment system] (…) We’re absolutely not [a newspaper company].”

The audio below features Times editor James Harding (first), Evening Standard editor Geordie Greig, and The National editorial director Martin Newland with their opinions on removing content from Google News:

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#soe09: Hyperlocal, mobile and experimentation for newspapers, say Brittin and Newland

November 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

“We must try any way possible to keep what we do alive so that in the end when the advertisers come back for quality we’re still here,” Martin Newland, editorial director of Abu Dhabi paper The National, told the Society of Editors conference today.

Newland said state subsidy, paid-for content online and new forms of advertising should all be considered – but in a vein of experimentation.

“Is there a model in what you are doing?” asked fellow panellist and Evening Standard editor, Geordie Greig.

“No,” said Newland, who had earlier apologised for ‘moving East’ when his industry in the UK descended into crisis. “But we’re experimenting.”

As such The National is developing a website with verticals, on of which will be news, and all of which can be separately branded and advertised around, Newland said. This is to cater to the more promiscuous habits of online news consumers and serve different people’s different tastes, he added.

Mobile
Newland’s plea for experimentation was subtly back by fellow panellist Matt Brittin, UK director of Google, who stressed the potential of mobile for newspaper publishers and local media.

“What could be most useful to the UK newspaper industry is the mobile internet (…) We’re seeing the beginning of people paying for news applications and using micropayments,” he said.

The geotagging capabilities of mobile also provides ‘a major opportunity for local media’ in particular for serving up targeted ads and building relationships with local businesses, he added.

“We will see subscription-based content, micropayments primarily mobile-based, and subscriptions through mobile (…) But there will also be a significant proportion of content remaining free.”

Hyperlocal
Newland also stressed the importance of hyperlocal as a future model for regional newspapers: “Going down, down, down is the way to go.”

“If you are in the local market, going even more local is probably the way to go (…) Could advertising that has fled be brought back with hyperlocal sites?” he asked, citing the potential for reverse publication of hyperlocal online content in a print product, which could carry advertising.

Times editor James Harding, who spoke to the conference about the paper’s plans to charge for content online, added his own support for hyperlocal or ultra-local news coverage by the local press.

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#soe09: Online newspaper business models – where else is the money?

November 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

Where are newspaper websites making money and where are the new opportunities? These are the questions asked by Francois Nel, director of the journalism leaders programme at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), in a study, the highlights of which he presented to the Society of Editors conference today in the slides below:

View more presentations from Francois Nel.
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#soe09: Winners announced for NCTJ’s excellence awards

November 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Training

The winners of the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) awards for excellence in journalism were announced today at the Society of Editors annual conference.

The prizes went to:

News Journalism
Student:    Tim Fletcher, City of Wolverhampton College
Trainee:    Arron Hendy, Dorset Echo

Sports Journalism
Student:    George Scott, News Associates, London
Trainee:    David Jordan, Grimsby Telegraph

Top Scoop
Student:    Juliet Conway, Brighton Journalist Works (winner)
Student:    Jessica Shankleman, Cardiff University (highly commended)

Features of the year
Student:    Harriet Webster, NoSWeat Journalism Training
Trainee:    Emily Koch, Bristol Evening Post

Images of the year
Student:    Bethany Clarke, The Sheffield College, Norton
Trainee:    Leah McLaren, Derby Telegraph

Awards for the best performance in examinations leading to the NCTJ Preliminary Certificate in Newspaper Journalism, NCE for Reporters and NCE for photographers were also presented:

NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year: Mary Hamilton, Press Association Training

NCTJ Photographer of the Year: Hannah Kinver, South Wales Evening Post

NCTJ Reporter of the Year: Victoria Carr, Wetherby News

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#soe09: Live coverage online – opportunities for audience and money?

The benefits of using social media sites, predominantly Twitter, to cover live news events, newsgather and let the readers in were stressed by speakers from Sky News, Trinity Mirror, NWN Media and Northcliffe in a session at the Society of Editors conference today.

Sky’s social media correspondent (once titled ‘Twitter correspondent’) Ruth Barnett explained what had been learned since her role was created:

“We’d be very foolish as journalists not to be part of this interaction (…) I use it as a newswire – not one as valuable verifiable and reliable as PA, but as a good source of leads, eye witnesses and trends.

“If we can tweet our own breaking news it allows us to be proud of it, own it and direct traffic back to us.”

But there’s more to come: Trinity Mirror multimedia head David Higgerson emphasised the need to work with the audience to improve the use of tools such as CoveritLive.

“The big lesson that we need to learn is that we need to involve the audience more. If people want more passive coverage we’ve got the BBC, which is not to be critical of the BBC, but it can be hard to interact with it,” said Higgerson.

There needs to be experiments with livestreaming video into liveblogs, he added, and newspapers should start looking at the potential of  tools like Audioboo. There’s no reason Audioboo, for example, couldn’t be used for more in-depth reporting, such as livecasting election results, he explained.

But the biggest challenge is finding a way to work with the ‘army of citizen journalists’:

“We need to go to them and our reporters need to be building relationships with them. If we can engage with them on local terms we can create a potent force for live news.”

But it was Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan who suggested that liveblogging and live-tweeting could be a revenue opportunity for news groups:

“If paid content on the web is part of our salvation we have an obligation to develop services that go far beyond news and traditional reporting (…) It used to be paid-for live coverage in print (…) Covering it live on the web, real-time and interactive, may be one of the keys to earning revenue from content published online,” said Meehan, who used the Mail’s coverage of transfer deadline day in September as an example (500 posts on CoveritLive by journalists; 6,200 comments received on all-day liveblog).

“We’ve got no plans to make them pay for it, but I think we as an industry should have an eye on where we can make money from. If that many people are going to spend that much time on a service, they really value that service (…) Mainstream news is a commodity; we need to find the things that aren’t commoditised.”

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#soe09: What are the revenue opportunities for newspapers – and what are the ‘donkeys’?

November 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

Concluding the session on future revenue for newspapers at today’s Society of Editors conference (including a suggestion of in-house PR agencies at newspapers), panel chair and media commentator Raymond Snoddy asked the speakers to name one future opportunity and one ‘donkey’ that should be given up.

Neil Benson, editorial director of Trinity Mirror Regionals
Keep: Video
“Video is a massive growth area that appeals to a spread of ages.”

Kill: Paid-for model for general news content

Morgan Holt, director of HUGE
Keep: Audience analysis and the link economy.
“Keep chasing your audience. Get very close to them and let them know you’re close to them; and make sure that everything you create is linkable to.”

Kill: Video
“It’s too expensive.”

Francois Pierre Nel, UCLAN
Keep: Valuable existing services
“We need to consider what value we provide to all our customers.”

Kill: DIY mentality
“We need to let go of the idea that we have to do it all ourselves and we need to look at new partnerships.”

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#soe09: Jim Chisholm – the five myths affecting UK newspapers

November 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

Jim Chisholm took the stage at the Society of Editors conference this morning to counter some of the doom and gloom for the industry predicted by previous speaker Claire Enders.

Five myths currently circulating in the UK newspaper industry can be dispelled, argued Chisholm, joint principal of iMedia Advisory Services:

1) “We’re all going to die.”
2) “Journalism is omnipotent and UK journalism is better than its competitors.”
3) “The internet is everything – good and bad.”
4) “Newspapers are so powerful that they have to be controlled, restricted and regulated.”
5) “It’s all inevitable.”

The full audio of Chisholm’s presentation will follow, but to round-up some key quotes:

  • “The Birmingham Post has been dead for 20 years (…) That paper has been a problem child for 20 years,” said Chisholm as an example. “But I don’t believe that 50 per cent of papers will be dead in five years time, it might be 10 per cent.”
  • “Newspapers’ circulation in this country can decline a long, long way before they become invaluable.”
  • Regional newspapers currently have a 11.3 per cent profit margin in the UK; nationals 8.2 per cent. Tesco’s profit margin is 8.2 per cent, but no one is predicting Tesco’s death, said Chisholm.
  • “This business doesn’t have a profit problem it has a debt problem.”
  • “UK newspapers are behind other markets in attracting digital revenues.”
  • “UK newspapers aren’t working together – phone up competitors quick and get working with them.”
  • “Go to the NLA and get them to have a single pricing mechanism, because I might pay for a service that gives me all of the newspapers together.”
  • “It’s true that fewer young people are reading, but it’s true that people’s newspaper readership is highest when you’re younger. It’s a myth that people start reading when they’re older.”
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#soe09: Following the Society of Editors conference 2009

November 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events

Journalism.co.uk is covering this year’s Society of Editors conference, featuring speakers including:

  • Media analyst Claire Enders
  • Independent editor Roger Alton
  • Google UK’s Matt Brittin

There will be audio from the conference and speeches available on the Society’s website:

A liveblog of the two-day event is below:

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