Friday 29 May 2009

What I've been reading this week

  • Funding for 'Your Story', a citizen journalism project at the World Service, dries up.
  • How journalists in Australia are using Twitter. I think it's pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world with reliable broadband access, to be honest.
  • Bonus article dusted down from the archive on Hazel Blears, who told us back in November that political blogs are fuelling a culture of cynicism about politics. Safe to say that's not the only thing fuelling a culture of cynicism these days.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

BBC's World Have Your Say tweet editorial meeting

The World Have Your Say team at the BBC provided twitter updates from their daily editorial meeting earlier today.

Audience input is already entirely central to what WHYS do, but this idea has the potential to further erode the gatekeeping model. (Even if editor, Mark Sandell, still retains control evident in a nice touch at number 8.)

These tweets are in reverse order (obviously). So you need to start at the bottom. (Blogger has not unhelpfully insisted on numbering them for some unknown reason).
  1. Ok Shaimaa's delegating. the meetings wrapping up but we'll meet again at 1500 for a catch up. get in touch if you want to share your views
  2. do we need our BBC religious correspondent to guide the conversation? we think we need an independent voice
  3. Tom cruise would be a good get.! he's post on the you tube. How do you find scientologists?
  4. we've got to be careful not to get too bogged down in the fine details of scientology&make sure they are not ridiculed.wise works from Mark
  5. ok Scientology wins - now we are tryng to get a senior voice on scientology on
  6. ok's it s vote time - do you have the the right to refuse medical treatment for your child? or Is scientology a religion?
  7. Amy's about the sneeze - but it's not coming out! hold up
  8. marks explaining the fundamentals of WHYS to work experience student Saad...who's trying to get Kind Abdullah on the programme
  9. wasn't there a big scientology case in Germany last year?
  10. we're trying to figure out whether we've done a show on medical treatment and religious rights....have we done this recently?
  11. ok down to scientology vs medical treatment....we're thinking of bidding a high profile scientologist for another show
  12. another suggest.....what about Sri Lanka - what hapens when the wars over? not sure if this beats our top 3
  13. amy's suggesting whether tourism is doing more harm than good in maintaining a country's culture but Ros is doing a documentary on this too
  14. 3) is a degree worth it? it's been brewing since last week. costs a lot, recessions deep...but is it a story beyond the UK?
  15. 2) is scientology a religion?
  16. 2) on scientology - it's on trial in France......
  17. 3 main questions 1) do you have the right to refuse medical treatment for your child? ....
  18. the team members are going to start posting their on the blog too so you can see our thought processes - we're hoping to test this tomorrow
  19. we're discussing out how to format our blog - what needs improving? we're thinking of making talking points tighter. top 3 stories only
  20. Nina is with us from the Citizen Journalism Project at the BBC. it's sadly closing down due to funding but we still want your stories
  21. Europe Today discussing Ethnic Profiling- see the blog if you're interested
  22. Shaima again, my husband and I got talking about the degree being irrelevant issue. He wants to do an MA and the question shook him up a bit
  23. meeting starts in 20 minutes!
  24. Krupa here: We're trying something new today... I'll be tweeting during the meeting. you can help us decide what to discuss tonight.

Thursday 21 May 2009

The BBC and Twitter feeds

Yesterday at Media140, Darren Waters, the BBC's technology editor told us that the Corporation double checks individual tweets published on official BBC Twitter feeds. (All thirteen regular readers of this blog would have known about double-checking Twitter in this manner a couple of months ago.)

According to Waters, the BBC regards personal Twitter feeds in the same way that they regard personal blogs. The BBC's editorial policy on blogging allows journalists to keep personal blogs as long as they have a disclaimer, do not reveal confidential information and do not jeopardise the BBC's commitment to impartiality.

(Might be worth noting that various personal BBC Twitter feeds currently don't have a disclaimer like the one on Waters' own).

Technology commentator Bill Thompson provocatively challenged Waters by stating that Twitter was "fatally undermining any pretence of objectivity" at the BBC. To which Waters rather obscurely replied "Yes" and "No".

After all, while I wouldn't suggest Rory Cellan-Jones' Twitter feed breaks any of the BBC's guidance in a detrimental manner, the line between 'personal' and 'official' is pretty difficult to make out.

Rory clearly uses it do journalism in his official role as a BBC technology correspondent, but this feed presumably is not classified as an 'official feed' and he often writes more personal updates.

Actually, I don't think there's too much of a problem here, but it still represents a fairly fundamental shift in the way BBC journalists operate.

Waters admitted that the BBC still hasn't "cracked it" in terms of editorial policy and that there are ongoing internal discussions about the use of social media.

More from here.

: And another reporter asks Mark Thompson about the issue.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

'Why journalists deserve low pay'

An excellent article by Robert Picard of Sweden's Jonkoping University explaining why journalists shouldn't expect to be paid:

"Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren't creating much value these days.

Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models."

Monday 18 May 2009

Links for today on Twitter and blogging

  • Haven't tried it yet, but here's a website that enables you to post documents to Twitter.
Blogging and Journalism
  • Jemimah Knight 'pens' some thoughts on one of my particular topics of interest - bloggers and journalists.
Shameless plug for a post mentioning me
  • Judith Townend of discusses the strange non-system of media regulation we've ended up with here in the UK. I don't have anything insightful to add to the debate right now but Judith's keen for comments so head on over if you do.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Why journalists must understand 'link journalism'

A while back Scott Karp visited the BBC. In some senses it was a sales pitch for his Publish 2 project. But more importantly he came to talk about his vision for 'link journalism' and much of what appears below is based on his thinking even if I have been stewing over it for a number of months. In short, this isn't new but I feel like it needs to be said again.

The link and link journalism

The hyperlink has long been recognised as one of the key features of the World Wide Web, so much so that I don't need to waste time explaining its functionality.

However, it's easy to forget that it wasn't immediately quite so obvious back in the early days of the World Wide Web, and the development of blogging was an important step in the increased use of hyperlinks.

In fact, there was a whole market for a site that actually used hyperlinks to keep sending people away from a website in a useful manner. A market that was almost entirely swallowed up by Google.

Journalists and media companies were slow to realise the value of the hyperlink because the conventional wisdom was that in order to make revenue from advertising people needed to spend time looking at your site.

What they didn't take into account was the counter-intuitive position that if people are consistently sent to interesting news articles from a media site people will consistently come back to the media website for more of the same.

Unfortunately, journalists were so slow to realise this, (despite the fact that Google was staring them in the face everyday on their computer screens), that they got way behind the game. It's only much more recently that linking out has become a regular feature of many news websites.

But journalists are still not making the most of link journalism. Because the practice of providing links for their readers is not fully integrated into their work processes and websites still don't offer spaces for journalists to display their links.

At the Frontline website we have a space for our bloggers (box, top right of the page) to share the links that we are reading. This provides Frontline Club readers with a highly editorialised and specialised 'best-of-the-web'.

If you want to know which articles to read on front line journalism then this is one of the best places to find a regular supply of information, without you having to do any of the hard work.

This is an example of link journalism, which I believe adds value to the website.

Why journalists don't do link journalism

In order for this to take place, bloggers have to be saving links and an editor has to publish them. When I talk about this idea with people, there are various objections from journalists.

First, saving links is not part of many journalists existing work practices. And yes, it does take a little time to set up something like delicious - about 5 minutes, and saving bookmarks can be time-consuming if you become addicted to it, but saving three a day can't take longer than 5 minutes even if you're technologically inept. And you might need a producer/editor to put them together, but there are some of those in media organisations, right?

Second, journalists still don't want to share stuff on the Web. I understand that if you are doing an investigation for an exclusive story you might not want to share links. Fine. I'm not asking people to be stupid with what they share - I don't share all of my links.

But if you save an article to Delicious, for example, from the Washington Post it's kind of out there already. Some journalists might be concerned that saving links reveals the sources they read. And it will do. But then surely this sort of transparency might be something to aspire to rather than shirk from.

Third, journalists think it's a waste of time or not journalism at all. When in fact, it's no different to what journalists have always done. Journalists have always tried to collect information and decide what people should know.

This model has been broken down by the Web because anybody can now recommend information through websites such as Digg. I think this is a positive development because it removes power from journalists. Why should journalists be the only people who decide what is important?

But on the other hand, most people still respect journalists' attempts to make sense of the world on their behalf by sorting through information. Because they don't have time to do that themselves all the time. In this sense, journalists add value to society and it's nothing new - it's a process that has been going on since journalism began.

Why journalists should be doing more link journalism

On the World Wide Web, we are presented with an extraordinary amount of information. I would suggest that helping other people to navigate that information is part of the journalist's duty. (In the BBC's case, part of its remit is being a 'trusted guide to the Web'.)

And if you provide a way for people to access the most relevant, and interesting material on a regular basis then I suggest that people will consistently come back to your website, because a highly specialised, hopefully expert, and ultimately human selection method will have many advantages over Google News and news aggregators.

In addition, if journalists are more pro-active in linking to valuable content then these pages will climb search rankings.

I suggest therefore that journalists must understand the value of link journalism. Many still don't.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

A sort of 'shovelware' at the BBC?

Just now, I was putting together a round up of blogging reaction to the appointment of LTG McChrystal as commander of US forces in Afghanistan.

I noticed that Mark Urban had a written a blog post about it for Newsnight. But then I also found a more or less identical copy of the post on the main section of the BBC News website.

I always thought part of the idea of blogs at the BBC was that they offered something different to the rest of BBC content in terms of style, tone or information, even if everything must adhere to the same editorial values.

I suppose this demonstrates that journalists don't always have the time to re-version material. I'm not sure which came first - the online piece or the blog, but if that was me I'm pretty confident I wouldn't bother spending the time to put either one of them into a 'blog' or 'website' 'style'.

I wonder whether we need two copies of the same thing on the same website, but there may well be people who read the BBC's blogs and people who read the rest of the website - why not make it available to both audiences?

Monday 11 May 2009

Watch this space (or use RSS - it'll save you some time)

I'm just writing some blog posts about my recent travels to Washington DC for the military blogging conference (now here) and Athens for a new media and information conference. More soon...

(This is taking longer than expected due to technical problems. I shall say no more because they are very frustrating - all of them)
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