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Express under fire for advertorials again

Only last week Journalism.co.uk reported how the Daily Express was criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for masking advertorials as features.

Yesterday, as reported by MediaGuardian and others, the Express again came under fire for a similar incident.

An advertisement for Goldshield’s Rozip took up the bottom half of a page, with an article on the qualities of the product sitting on top.

Previously the ASA investigated as to ‘whether the features had been controlled by the advertiser and also whether the claims made by the products were true or exaggerated’.

They came to the conclusion that ‘both publisher and advertiser were purposefully trying to get around elements of the advertising code by presenting the articles and adverts in this way’.

When criticised for unsubstantiated claims made by the Express journalist about the healing properties of the products, Goldshield’s Rozip responded that ‘they were not responsible’ for the contents of the article.

Monitoring staff at the ASA said that the advertisement and the article were clearly linked. As with the previous cases reported last week, Goldshield had booked the ad on the understanding that the editorial would also appear.

The ASA state that because of the ‘reciprocal arrangement’, Goldshield in fact had implicit control over the top half of the page and as such Goldshield was responsible for ensuring the contents of the entire page complied with the Code.

In the latest issue of Private Eye (August 21 – September 3) it was suggested that the Express might not be the only newspaper guilty of this tactic. On August 5, the Evening Standard printed a piece about a world cruise that the Eye described as an ‘unmarked advertorial’ – it fell opposite a full-page ad for the very same cruise. The Evening Standard article in question can be found at this link.

It seems no action has yet been taken against the Evening Standard; the Daily Express on the other hand has been told ‘the ad must not appear again in its current form’.

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Malcolm Coles: How US traffic is vital for UK newspaper sites

July 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Traffic

This is a cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ personal website. You can read other posts by Coles on the Journalism.co.uk Editors’ Blog at this link.

The latest figures for UK users from the audited ABCes together with Compete‘s figures for American site usage show how USA traffic is vital for UK newspaper sites.

On average, US traffic is 36.8 per cent of the UK traffic (i.e. there is just over one US visitor for every 3 UK visitors). The figure for the Telegraph is slightly higher (44.5 per cent) and for the Mail it’s a massive 62.5 per cent.

Newspaper
site
USA
visitors
(Compete)
UK
visitors
(ABCe)
US users
as % of UK
Daily Mail 5,199,078 8,316,083 62.5
Telegraph 4,087,769 9,184,082 44.5
Times Online 2,805,815 7,668,637 36.6
Guardian 3,676,498 10,211,385 36.0
Independent 1,317,298 3,781,320 34.8
The Sun 2,419,319 8,704,036 27.8
Mirror 748,098 4,907,540 15.2
FT.com 5,960,589 n/a n/a
Express 63,216 n/a n/a
Average 2,919,742 7,539,012 36.8

These figures are all for June 2009. The FT wasn’t audited in June’s ABCes. The Express isn’t in the ABCes.

They are further proof that the Mail’s success in the June ABCes was driven by American searches for Michael Jackson’s kids.

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Trinidad’s tabloids scream loudly, but Barbados’ press could do with some balls

July 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University. He was born in Guyana and regularly returns there to help build local media, print and TV. Previous posts looked at the Caricom Summit held July 2-5 in Georgetown. Trinidad and Barbados were the final stops.

After experiencing Guyanese ‘journalism’ during the Caricom summit, any order is better. In Trinidad, there is much economic prosperity due to oil and natural gas: ‘What recession?’ they ask here. The economy is healthy but the society has some of the fissures of Guyana.

Trinidad politics
Indians were brought here in thousands as indentured labourers to replace the freed black slaves one hundred and seventy years ago. They live in the south of the island, the African Trinidadians in the North. They have much of the wealth, the prime minister and his ruling PNM party are black and have the political power.

There is much violent crime – especially kidnappings and murders – and that is the staple fare of the super tabloids who make up the Trinidad & Tobago newspaper market. The Guardian, the Express and Newsday are much the same. Screaming headlines on the cover but much content inside. They are big in pagination and include lots of classified ads.

Politics gets a big shout and through that the racial dimension. The leader of the opposition (at the moment) Basdeo Panday is Indo-Trinidadian. He was prime minister until 2001 but was driven from office for alleged corruption. Today his UNC is breaking into bits.

His former attorney general Ramesh Marhaj is leading a ginger group/internal opposition within the party together with another MP – Jack Warner, who runs football in this part of the world, is vice-chair of FIFA and has been the subject of critical investigations on British TV about his dodgy behaviour in that job.

Warner’s son sold the travel packages and tickets for Trinidadians to the to the 2006 World Cup. Panday wants Warner to account for $30m (T&T) of election expenses. Warner says it was money he gave the party so no need to account. This makes the British MPs look tame.

Columnists abound on the pages of the T&T press. Different races. All have views. Many far too prolix for the page. Sub-editing is not a craft that seems to have been found in the Southern Caribbean. But the three dailies and the local TV news programmes – sadly also divided on racial lines – make for lively reading and listening. Crime sells. They certainly put the fear of God into the bank manager cousin with whom I was staying.

Keeping awake in Barbados
Not so Barbados. The problem here for a journalist is keeping awake. The best description for the Barbados Nation and Advocate? Stodgy, boring, dull. They make the Bedworth Advertiser look interesting. Boring headlines and even duller stories. It is like reading a parish newsletter for a nation.

The ‘news’ is based on government news conferences and other press conferences by NGOs and the like. On such sexy subjects like polyclinics, insurance and diabetes. Again, writing is prolix and not of great quality.

Barbados is a very polite and ordered society (the murder rate is a fraction of Trinidad’s) and that shows in its press. The hacks need to get themselves some more balls. The TV news is not much better.

There we have it. Prosperity, tabloid culture, Little England and the news values of British suburbia. Funny how they all travel. But Blighty calls.

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Newspapers: Turn off your RSS feeds

This is a cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ personal website:

The latest subscriber figures (see table below) show that, apart from a couple of exceptions, it’s time for newspapers to turn off their RSS feeds – and hand over the server space, technical support and webpage real estate to their Twitter accounts.

The table below shows that only three of the nine national newspapers have an RSS feed with more than 10,000 subscribers in Google Reader. And most newspaper RSS feeds have readerships in the 00s, if that.

Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips has 11 subscribers to her RSS feed (maybe there’s hope for the UK population yet …).

Despite having virtually no users, the Mail churns out 160 RSS feeds and the Mirror 280. All so a couple of thousand people can look at them in total.

The other papers are just as bad. And while the Guardian has a couple of RSS readers with decent numbers (partly because Google recommends it in its news bundle), it has more feeds than there are people in the UK…

Top three RSS feeds at each newspaper
They didn’t all have three that showed up:

Table of UK newspapers' RSS feeds

Switch to Twitter instead
I suggest newspapers switch to Twitter instead. Twitter’s advantages over RSS include:

  • Wheat vs chaff – As a reader, you can see which stories other people are RTing and are therefore popular.
  • Context – There’s space in 140 characters for newspapers to give some background to stories as well as the headline (well, there is for those that don’t just stick the first few words of the standfirst after the headline).
  • Promotion – Followers can RT newspaper stories, promoting the paper – they can’t do this with elements of an RSS feed.
  • Tracking – Stories’ development can be tracked on Twitter – you can’t usually tell what’s changed in an RSS feed.
  • Conversation You can take part in a conversation on Twitter. People only talk to their RSS feed when they swear at it. The journalists behind the story can tweet, too.

Newspapers agree with me
As I say, despite poor subscriptions for many feeds, papers pump out RSS feeds as if there’s no tomorrow – the second column in the table below shows how many feeds (rounded) that each paper has.

But despite this, it’s clear some papers agree with me – and have already given up on RSS feeds and no longer actively promote them.

No visibility
The Mail, despite its 160-odd feeds, only mentions them in its footer.

The same is true of the Sun.

On the page but hardly visible
The FT’s RSS link does at least have a logo – but its buried at the bottom of the right-hand column on each page.

The Telegraph shows relevant RSS feeds on pages – but they’re buried in a different way: above a banner ad that no one will ever look at.

Even the Guardian, which lets you mash up your own RSS feeds (hence the 000,000s in the table), hides details of its feeds under an unusual term ‘webfeed’ in the far right of its header.

The Times still has an RSS link in its main header menu on its news page. On other pages it’s at the bottom. And it mentions Twitter on its pages much more than RSS.

Visible – but not doing them any good
The Independent is alone in listing RSS feeds on its main category pages – although that doesn’t seem to get it many subscribers.

The Mirror has an RSS link next to its search box, although it took me ages to find it. Does this count as visible – it’s not exactly intuitive…

And the Express has a link and a logo prominently in its header. But as the Express doesn’t update its website often (or at all on Sunday), I guess that’s why no one subscribes. And some of its RSS feeds appear to be garbage – check out its theatre one…

Caveats about the data
After you’ve started writing something about newspapers, you’ll eventually discover that Martin Belam has already written about it. Having just noticed his Top 75 British newspaper RSS feeds as I was researching Google Reader’s market share, I figured I’d just repeat his caveats about his own data as they apply to mine too:

  • Subscribers don’t necessarily ever read anything.
  • Numbers quoted by Google vary wildly.
  • Newspapers have problem with the same feed on different URLs. To quote Martin: “If the papers themselves can’t work out how to set one canonical URL for their content, why should I?”
  • Google Reader search is not great. There may be missing feeds.
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#FollowJourn: @chrisbeanland/Chris Beanland, freelance journalist

June 26th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Chris Beanland

Who? Journalist writing about music, the media, travel, food/bars/clubs, and culture

What? Former Metro arts editor. Now freelancing for London Lite, The Express, orange.co.uk/music, Virgin Trains’ Hotline Magazine, Wizz Air Magazine, Routes News Magazine, a few music websites

Where? @chrisbeanland or www.facebook.com/chrisbeanland

Contact? chris.beanland [at] gmail.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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Wolves promotion boosts Express & Star web traffic

April 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Traffic

Attracting international, ex-pat attention and fans reliving the moment online, sport has shown its ability to drive web traffic to news sites once again with a surge in the Express & Star’s web visitors following the promotion of local football club Wolverhampton Wanderers to the UK’s Premiership.

The site achieved a record 600,000 page views yesterday, with around 330,000 views on the Wolves picture galleries.

“The website chronicles a great day for Wolves fans and we are amazed by the huge interest in it,” said internet editor, Tim Walters, in a statement on the site.

“The traffic on the website was enormous yesterday and today the levels of interest are being maintained.

“The mood of Wolverhampton is dictated by the success or failure of Wolves.

“There is a real feel-good feeling in the city at the moment and people really can’t get enough.”

In addition to coverage in text and picture galleries, an interactive, multimedia timeline was created using Dipity to document the team’s promotion.

Fans boost website hits to 600,000 : Express & Star.

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How much is too much? Defining the grey areas in attribution and linking

As the mainstream media shifts to writing more online content, its standards and guidelines are up for discussion. Just how much of other people’s work on external sites can/should you use and how should you attribute in articles?

Stephen Hutcheon, of the Sydney Morning Herald, flagged up an issue in a blog post on February 5. He is not happy with the way material from an interview he conducted with GoogleEarth (30/01/09) was used in an article on TimesOnline by Mike Harvey (30/01/09) – the latest version of which is at this link.

Hutcheon’s account can be read at this link with a screen grab of the Times’ original article.

The original Times piece shows the Sydney Morning Herald was named in the third paragraph, and, later in the piece, it again specified ‘Mr Hanke told the newspaper’.

Hutcheon had two complaints:

  • Firstly, that Harvey had not linked to his original article.
  • Secondly, the proportion of the article made up of Hutcheon’s quotes, which Hutcheon feels weren’t adequately labelled as his own work.

According to Hutcheon, Mike Harvey then contacted him with a ‘sincere apology’. “He said it was not his publication’s policy to link back to original articles but said that as a gesture of goodwill, they would do it.”

The TimesOnline article now has a link to the original SMH article, but Hutcheon remains unsatisfied:

“I told him I accepted his apology. However, he made no mention about my central complaint about the amount of material he lifted, nor does he appear to have cut out any from his piece. But that’s about as much as I can do. That, I told him, was an ethical matter between him and his editors.”

Journalism.co.uk asked Hutcheon about his own paper’s linking policy, via email. Hutcheon said:

“My issue is less with the lack of a link. We [SMH] don’t have a hard and fast policy on links. If we quote a par or so, no need to reference where it came from. But if we write a story about this amazing thing someone’s photographed or found, or written and the story is largely based on the other person’s discovery or effort, then yes. It’s a bit like writing about a YouTube video without pointing readers to it. Mike apologised but failed to cut back the almost 500 words – most of them direct quotes from my one-on-one interview with John Hanke. If traditional news organisations are prepared to let their reporters get away with this type of cheap journalism, then it’s a race to the bottom and we’re all doomed. If everyone just copies everyone else, who is left to do the original reporting?”

Journalism.co.uk contacted Tom Whitwell, assistant editor of TimesOnline to clarify the situation.

He said the Times’ linking policy was being worked on and while there ‘was no official linking policy’, journalists could link to other work at the moment.

However, he said, the subbing system and workflow in place – used for online as well as print work – meant links often got omitted. But ‘the general policy would be to link out to things’, he said.

“In terms of the principle I’m extremely firm that [we link] not as courtesy, but as service to the readers.”

In regards to the proportion of quotes used, Whitwell said:

“I think it’s fairly clear that he [Hanke] was talking to the Sydney Morning Herald (…) that particular example is reasonable.

“This isn’t something we do often as a policy. We don’t have a policy to do this regularly – I think in this particular instance it’s fairly clear to the reader what the story is.

“We do need to have a clear written policy at what point we link, and I’m in the process of putting that together. That to me, is interesting, the motivations for linking. To me, it’s purely about providing the service to readers (…) a better way of telling the story. The idea that it’s good manners, legally crediting something, isn’t the key thing for me.

“It is very different for online than print (…) I don’t want to get into the way some other newspapers operate, which is rather different from the way we operate, in terms of using material from other sites. In some sites there is real culture of picking up stories from lots and lots of places, constantly, as a matter of course. That’s not something we usually do,” Whitwell said.

The problem with linking arose in the production system, he said, which “has no way of capturing URLs, a purely manual process – I suspect this piece went through this process. We need to work out how to get the process to work.” Getting more links into place is ‘tricky’, but ‘not impossible’, he added.

Journalism.co.uk also contacted the Times piece’s author Mike Harvey, who did not respond by email.

Here’s an example where a paper did not attribute at all: a case over at Regret The Error, involving the NY Daily News, in which an accusation was made that material had been lifted from the Express-News, ‘without attribution’, for a piece on NYDailyNews.com.

A later amendment at NYDailyNews.com noted that ‘An earlier version of this story should have attributed quotes by certain individuals to reporting by the San Antonio Express-News.’

Hutcheon’s post hasn’t yet received any comments; perhaps this one is up for debate? Just how much is too much?

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Monkey puzzled: Bizarre Express URL actually Goldacre’s handiwork

February 3rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

So, Guardian’s Media Monkey reports a funny URL on an Express story entitled ‘Danger from just 7 cups of coffee a day’:

“(…) mention this after catching sight of the URL at the top of the story, which ends with the immortal phrase ‘utter-cock-as-usual'”

But – the plot thickens – actually it was the work of the Monkey’s colleague, as Monkey updates below the original post. Yes, Dr Ben Goldacre, Guardian columnist among other occupations, lays claim to the mischievous URL. He writes on the Bad Science blog:

“Heh, er, so obviously I’m delighted that my grown up humour slipped unnoticed into the Guardian’s Media Monkey today, but ‘Utter Cock As Usual‘ was not the web address of the Express’s recent storyDanger from just 7 cups of coffee a day‘.

“It’s just the web address I cheekily gave it on my blog post two weeks ago. I thought this was fairly well known, but for those who haven’t joined in the lolz, the websites of Express and the Telegraph, at least, let you substitute whatever text you want at the end of their web addresses.”

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Round-up of the recent UK newspaper job cuts

October 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

It’s hardly like newspaper jobs were all that secure anyway, but this month’s financial situation (something about a recession) hasn’t helped things either over the last couple of weeks.

This week news broke that two of the UK’s biggest-selling regional daily newspapers will cut 135 jobs.

The family run publishers Midland News Association are looking to merge their publications, the Express and Star and the Shropshire Star, with the aim of reducing costs by around £3 million a year.

After a decline in advertising revenue, the publishers considered it a necessary move, as reported over at the Guardian. There are plans to merge some parts of classified advertising, production and finance.

Press Gazette reported that despite the merger, both publications will maintain their individual identities, while also keeping separate editors and reporters.

  • At the beginning of last week we learnt that the Metro in Manchester will be axing ten jobs. It has since been announced that the jobs lost will be in editorial, sales and adminstration roles. The Liverpool office has been closed and relocated to Manchester.
  • Three of Trinity Mirror’s East Midlands publications ceased production last week, as reported over at Hold the Front Page: the 126-year-old Long Eaton Advertiser, The Nu News and The Long Eaton Trader. A distribution worker and 3 members of advertising were made redundant. Due to staff reassignments, no editorial job cuts were made.
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MediaGuardian: Express cuts will cause titles’ ‘immediate demise as national papers’, says NUJ

September 12th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chapel at Express Newspapers has criticised proposed job cuts at the Express and Sunday Express.

Plans were announced on Wednesday to more than 80 staff and casual sub-editors.

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