Friday 3 December 2010

The BBC's blogs in numbers as of December 2010

Some say I've spent the last couple of days stealing snowmen...but in reality life is more mundane.

I've been putting on some layers, editing some chapters, putting on some more layers and trying to draw the thesis together.

During the most recent chapter re-draft, I felt I needed a line saying: 'The BBC now has x number of blogs...' and realised I didn't know the value of 'x'.

So some numbers for you taken from this index on the BBC news website. I suppose there may be other blogs lurking in the BBC blogosphere that haven't been added to the list but it looks like a fairly comprehensive round up to me.

BBC Blog Network: Number of Blogs

News - 90
Sport  - 47
TV - 19
Online - 4
Radio - 42
Other - 7
Total - 209

In the spirit of the 'data journalism' age, I've uploaded this data with links to all the blogs in a Google spreadsheet.

Although there had been earlier blogging experiments, Nick Robinson's blog was the first one launched on the dedicated BBC Blog Network in December 2005. 43 blogs were set up within the first year.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

"BBC News opinion" on Wikileaks

Regular readers will be aware that one of my interests on blogging and the BBC has been the existence of a grey area between "personal opinion" and "professional judgement".

If you are really underemployed it could form part of a wider exploration of the blurring of news, opinion and analysis.

Here is another little example.

If you ask somebody at the BBC about Jonathan Marcus's latest online article on Wikileaks, entitled 'Bumpy ride for U.S. diplomats', they will tell you that the BBC's Diplomatic Correspondent has written a piece of analysis based on the evidence in which he has exercised his professional judgement. It is his "expert view".

The Small Wars Journal, however, has categorised the article under a section headed "Editorials and Opinion" in its excellent list of links on Wikileaks. In fact, the article is labelled "BBC News opinion" suggesting that one person's "analysis" and "professional judgement" is another's "personal" or "news opinion".

Even if you can demonstrate that the Small Wars Journal is wrong to categorise it as such, it suggests that some audiences are not aware of any distinction.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Plus ça change...?

A mini-nugget from Volume Three of Asa Briggs' History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom.

Briggs notes that at the beginning of the 1940s the BBC's 9’O clock News reached between 43% and 50% of the population.

In the World's Press News, H.G. Wells, (who according to Briggs "loved generalisations"), spoke out boldly saying "the day of the newspaper was done".

In the same publication, Hannen Swaffer said:
"the defeat of journalism by the BBC continues – and will still go on unless newspaper proprietors take intelligent action".
Worth a footnote on new mediums, the end of journalism, and all that sort of stuff.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Links for October all in one go

Sorry good people - not much blogging here this month. There are a couple of my posts up at the Frontline Club on Wikileaks and the U.S. Navy's social media manual if you missed them and you're into that kind of thing.

Expect a few more thoughts on Wikileaks at the Frontline Club or elsewhere soon...

Here's a round up of links that have caught my eye while I've been writing the conclusion to my thesis. (One day, I tell myself, it will end).

Blogging and the BBC
  • BBC Political Editor, Nick Robinson wins blogging comment award. But Left Foot Forward is not convinced...
Blogging and Murdoch
“Now, it would certainly serve the interests of the powerful if professional journalists were muted – or replaced as navigators in our society by bloggers and bloviators. Bloggers can have a social role – but that role is very different to that of the professional seeking to uncover facts, however uncomfortable”.
Blogging and the truth
  • MP Nadine Dorries explains that her blog is "70% fiction and 30% fact", but also argues that it is a tool for her constituents to get to know her better. I wonder how that's going...
Blogging and Andrew Marr

The BBC's Andrew Marr describes bloggers as though they are some kind of obscure mammalian curiosity being uncovered in a wildlife programme by David Attenborough:
"A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people.
Moving to a national level, most Brits, we discover, are angry (and some drunk)...
"OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night.
"It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism."
A section on guidelines, guidelines and guidelines (not necessarily in that order)
  • The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are launched.
  • The Guardian publishes some new social media guidelines for their journalists...
  • ...while the BBC's Helen Boaden has to point out in an email to staff that Twitter is not a place where BBC journalists can express their political views on this, that and the other. Melanie Phillips is hyperbolically outraged in a way that only Melanie Phillips can be:
"I remember a time when it was considered a hanging offence for a BBC news operative to express a political opinion in public. Ah, those were the days, eh. Different country."
Rare gem of useful research material
  • More practically, this is a great round up of research into linking by traditional news organisations.
"Our new process grants a kind of VIP status on people who have had comments approved previously. When you register to comment on, our moderation software tags you as a new user. Your comments go through the same moderation process as before, but every time we approve a comment, you score a point."
And finally...

We'll end on the kind of disconcerting note you only get when you accidentally sit on a piano with this article on the troublesome world of blogging the drugs war in Mexico.

Friday 1 October 2010

A live-blog: not a "finished product" but still a product

Adam Tinworth wrote a blog post in reply to my post yesterday about liveblogging.

I hope he won't mind me copying his post in full because it will make more sense and I think there are some interesting avenues of discussion which hadn't at all crossed my mind when I wrote my post:
"Daniel Bennet's posted some thoughts about the art of liveblogging. It's an interesting read but I would like to suggest that there's a false underlying assumption in the post. He seems to be assuming that a liveblog is, once the event is done, a finished product. And in my experience as a liveblogger, that not how it actually functions.

It's pretty rare that a live-blogger is the only source of coverage. When I'm live-blogging a conference, I'm usually part of an ecosystem of bloggers, both live and analytical, people who are tweeting what's being said, Twitter discussions, and then analytical posts that follow on from the liveblog. But that requires a viewpoint that sees all the coverage, not just the coverage on your own site. And not just that that appears on your own site. This is a viewpoint many in the traditional media seems to struggle to adapt to. :-)

In essence, a liveblog is not a finished product - it's the first step towards a record of the event, part of a large pool of raw material that will be collated, aggregated and analysed after the event.

It's all about the ecosystem..."
Earlier I commented on his blog in reply. But as he pointed out it might be better as a blog post so this is it:
"I have to admit I wasn't really thinking about the overall coverage of the event when I wrote the post, although it's probably a more interesting angle(!) and it certainly leads on from what I was saying.

I was rather narrowly looking at live-blogging from the perspective of somebody updating a blog and the challenges of doing the best job that they can. Which I think is still worth thinking about. Even if you are right to point out that a live-blogger is often one of many offering a raw representation of an event, surely, the eco-system will only benefit from some reflexive practice?

And, (although again I'm afraid I can't claim to have been thinking this at the time), I'd like to suggest that you could have used my paragraph about having more than one person to do a live-blog as evidence of an underlying assumption that coverage of an event is better as part of the ecosystem you discuss!

I don't think I was assuming that a live-blog is a "finished" product, but I think I was assuming that it is nevertheless a product.

If we look at things from The Guardian's point of view, surely they have to view a live-blog as a product (even if it's unfinished and part of a much wider record of events). Ideally, The Guardian needs people to turn to the rest of the ecosystem after they've read their live-blog or if they start elsewhere in the ecosystem subsequently come back to and hopefully stick with their live-blog.

Indeed, part of the aim of a Guardian live-blog is collating the ecosystem, (or at least creating the illusion of collating the ecosystem), as a response to the challenge that the ecosystem represents to their coverage of news and events. This also improves The Guardian's product.

So commercially, I think they do have to try to produce a live-blog as a quality product in order to be a key player in the ecosystem. Which is perhaps why it might be worth reflecting on how their live-blogs could be improved. Otherwise they risk becoming just a part of the rest of the ecosystem.

But I ramble on...I'll leave some space to the ecosystem :)

Tuesday 28 September 2010

All eyes on Ed Miliband? Some thoughts on live blogging.

This is no criticism of Andrew Sparrow personally, who is an expert in the art of live blogging for The Guardian, but, if you've ever tried live blogging, you'll discover that it's pretty hard work and not without its difficulties. Even for journalists who have racked up a number of live blogging marathons like Sparrow.

During his latest effort, blogging Ed Miliband's speech at the Labour Party conference, the Guardian journalist offers some "3.40pm instant analysis". Sparrow says he found the speech "less inspiring than I expected".

But he then highlights some of the problems of making an assessment about quite how inspiring the speech was given his preoccupation with frantically tapping out a live blog:
"...although I admit, not having watched it properly (I've just had my eyes on my keyboard, for obvious reasons) I'm not necessarily. (sic)"
Which rather sums up one of the key challenges facing a live blogging journalist. (Perhaps we could finish the sentence for him " the best position to make a judgement" or "able to take in everything while trying to write everything". [In fact, the update was subsequently corrected and now reads: "...the best judge"])

Personally, whenever I've done some live blogging I've always felt it would be better if there were at least two people contributing to it to compensate for my own live blogging inadequacies. One blogger could get down the outline facts and key points, the other could provide instant analysis and comment. Perhaps even a third could pull in information from other sources.

But Sparrow told me that he writes most of the material for his live blogs himself. He says that sometimes others do contribute, particularly if a live blog lasts a long time and that a Guardian editor will actually post his copy to the blog. (Presumably the editor does some quick checks before posting.) But in terms of writing the thing, an Andrew Sparrow live blog is essentially (a rather impressive) one-man show.

The advantage of this approach is that it gives the blog a clear voice, and allows one journalist to retain control over the direction of the blog. But I would still question whether there are not occasions when it might help to have more hands on deck throughout a live blog.

Of course, there is also a question of resources here and I wonder how often The Guardian can afford to devote more than one staff member to writing lengthy live blogs especially as they seem to be running them on a regular basis and for all sorts of events.

Thursday 23 September 2010

BBC's cricket correspondent hits blog comments for six

There seems to be something of a backlash against the value of comments on blogs at the BBC. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that existing reservations about comments on blogs are beginning to surface.

Only last month, the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, described them as "the biggest problem" with his Newslog blog.

Now cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew has revealed he stopped blogging at the BBC because his posts were "always full of appalling comments". Agnew now publishes a column on the BBC website instead and says he simply wouldn't write a blog open to comments any more - "even with moderation in place".

Agnew's Twitter updates about comments came in the context of an interview (BBC i-Player 7:38:30) he conducted with Pakistan's one-day cricket captain, Shahid Afridi, after yesterday's defeat to England. The interview came at the end of an acrimonious and controversial tour for the Pakistan team and was discussed on the PakPassion website after Afridi apparently became annoyed at one of the questions.

Agnew linked to a comment on PakPassion which accused him of trying "to be clever" in his questioning to incite further controversy around the use of the Decision Referral System (DRS), whereby teams can ask for television replays to overturn the decision of the onfield umpires.

Agnew maintained that he was simply asking Afridi to explain why he wanted to have the DRS in One-Day Internationals. The system was used in the Test series.

Agnew likened the comments on PakPassion to those he would receive on his BBC blog. Interestingly, despite his disillusionment with blog comments Agnew regularly replies to messages he receives via Twitter.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

BBC Buzz to track conversations about BBC programmes on the web

The BBC is developing a tool to monitor conversations around their programmes on the web which will be used to link back to blog posts and web pages from their website.

'BBC Buzz' was first spotted by the 'On An Overgrown Path' blog. Roo Reynolds, the BBC's Social Media Executive for Vision, left a comment on the blog describing how the tool worked.

He said the aim of BBC Buzz was to show "where the 'buzz' is around our programmes", and help "people find relevant and interesting blog posts about that programme." Links to blog posts about a programme are displayed on pages like this one:

The BBC Buzz about page explains that all links are moderated before they appear on the BBC website.

The BBC has been exploring how to reflect conversations around its content on the web for some time. The Internet blog, for example, uses a delicious feed to provide links to pages that are talking about the BBC.

BBC Buzz has been built on the back of a prototype called Shownar. It is in the final stages of development and is due to be officially launched in the next few weeks.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

"I don't want my news to be interactive"

I'm writing about BBC Newsnight and came across an interesting comment on Newsnight's programme blog from 2007.

It was written in response to a post by the Newsnight web team asking blog readers what they wanted to see covered on the TV programme - part of an "experiment in audience participation" by former editor Peter Barron.

It demonstrates that soliciting involvement in the editorial process is not everybody's cup of tea:
"Please stop doing this. You are the news experts; we expect you to make decisions on what is important based on your wider knowledge of current affairs.

"I don't want my news to be interactive; I want it to be accurate, considered, balanced, and give me an indication of the important issues affecting the world today. I don't want news that simply panders to the agenda of those who shout loudest. I don't have time to keep up with everything and make decisions about what is and is not important; that's your job!

"Your current approach smacks of lack of confidence in your own knowledge and judgement. That will taint my opinion of your ability to deliver the quality of news reporting that I expect."

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Nick Robinson looking for "less abusive debate" on blogs

The BBC's Political Editor is interviewed for the BBC College of Journalism:

Transcript of Nick on blogging:

"I wrote a blog because a very clever guy who works behind the scenes, a guy called Giles Wilson at the BBC, came up with the idea that I should. I didn't even know what a blog was when he asked me. I mean this is a long time ago. This is almost a decade ago that I first started writing before I left the BBC to go to ITN.

"And at the time, really, I don't think there were political blogs at that stage. So I started writing a blog very early because some inspired individual behind the scenes at the BBC came up with the idea.

"And for me, I loved it because there were things that you could write that you simply don't get the voice to do on a tight news bulletin. I liked the interactivity of it. I liked the fact that you could be provisional in your judgements. It was a rolling process.

"Now it's completely different - there are lots of political blogs. There are people who can be faster than me on air because they don't do the other jobs that I do. There are people who do it full time which I can't possibly do. So I've had to reconsider what the role of the blog is. And in a sense it seems to me that any blog has got to be your voice.

How do you react to the comments?

"I've found the comments to be the biggest problem with the blog because while initially I liked the interactivity, what I've discovered is that a huge percentage of comments on my blog are frankly just abusive, either abusive of me, or abusive of each other or abusive of politicians. And I haven't yet found a way to cut through that and to get the sort of dialogue that I would really like.

"So I'm going to be honest with you and I've said this before and I've upset some people. I don't read the comments anything like as much as I used to because there is too much static white noise in them and not enough pure feedback. But if we could find a way of having a more thoughtful, less abusive debate via blogs I think that would be a good thing."

Thursday 5 August 2010

BBC website confirms that blogging BBC journalists provide 'expert views'

Just trawling the BBC's blog offering over the last few weeks and came across this question to the editor of the BBC website in the light of the latest redesign:
"Why don't you have a single list of the main News blogs linked from the front page?"
In the answer, Steve Herrmann notes that there is now an 'Expert Views' section on some of the BBC's webpages where you will find links to the BBC's bloggers:
"We do not currently have a single destination page aggregating all our News blogs, but we link to blogs individually on relevant section indexes around the site, also on related stories and on the front page, depending on the news agenda.
"All the blogs are also linked to from the right hand navigation within any individual blog post. There is now a new section on many of the main indexes called "Expert Views" which does provide a home for blogs in the respective subject areas. For these reasons we do not currently have a permanent link to all of them on the front page."
The terminology further reinforces the idea that while BBC journalists may not express personal views they are allowed to offer expert views - i.e. those that are "rooted in evidence".

In the editorial guidelines these are described as "professional judgements" rather than "personal views".

Though, as I've pondered before, the difference might sometimes be a fine one.

Friday 23 July 2010

'The border-ness of borders'

In lieu of something more useful as I'm trying to finish off Chapter Two (but eighth chapter out of ten) I offer you the following snippet.

Despite no affiliation to the Geography Department at King's College, London whatsoever, I seem to have recently ended up on their mailing list which includes exciting opportunities to attend all sorts of interesting conferences.

Earlier today I received one such missive inviting me to attend the EastBordNet Conference on 'Remaking Borders'.

I'm fairly, nay, very ignorant about borders so I was delighted to learn that "borders are never what they used to be". Which perhaps goes some way to explaining my ignorance.

I also learnt that "a question here is whether this incessant shifting of borders is a characteristic of borders as such (what could be called the ‘border-ness’ of borders)".

For sure.

Back to Chapter Two, then...wondering if I qualify to be an academic.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

If you're going to charge for content...

...then expect to be charged for content. Genius.

Monday 28 June 2010

#Newsrw: BBC considers introducing Daily Mail-style comment system

The BBC is thinking about overhauling its comment system to allow users to comment beneath news stories.

Speaking at the News Rewired conference last Friday, the BBC's Editor of Interactivity, Matthew Eltringham, specifically mentioned the functionality offered by the Daily Mail website.

Which is interesting because much (in this case, rather dark) fun has been poked at the results of the Mail's occasionally erratic moderation procedure on news stories and the comments themselves.

Eltringham said the BBC was also considering highlighting the best comments by a process of editorial picks. But he said there are questions about how these would be chosen and by whom.

The move would be a departure for the BBC which currently siphons off audience comments on the news: on other webpages such as the Have Your Say section of the website; on correspondent or programme blogs; or within specific 'Points of View' web stories.

While the ability to comment 'below the line' would enable debate to gather around individual news stories, Eltringham was aware that it would undoubtedly raise other editorial questions.

He was discussing comments in the context of the future direction of the BBC's Have Your Say webpages. Earlier in 2010, Have Your Say was moved to a blog format and he described the pages as being in a "transitional phase".

Rather like the Mail's commenters, Have Your Say contributors have also caused much ironic amusement/exasperation (delete as appropriate).

Eltringham said the BBC was also beginning to work a little bit harder to engage with the audience on non-BBC platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

He said the Corporation was only moderating comments on these sites with a "light touch" because web-users would expect more robust opinion to be available away from the domain.

Friday 25 June 2010

#Newsrw: Engaging with "Readers+": hard work but valuable for local news websites

Local newspaper websites should be talking to a group of people that Samantha Shepherd defines as "Readers+". Shepherd, the digital projects co-ordinator at the Bournemouth Daily Echo, describes "Readers+" as active website readers who engage, respond, argue, point out mistakes, comment and complain to their local news website.

Shepherd, who was speaking at News Rewired, compared them with "lurkers" - those who read but don't participate any further and "shouters" - those who just complain loudly about anything and everything (but especially the local council.)

The Echo uses a variety of social media tools to talk directly to the "Readers+" group in particular as these people are loyal to the brand, involved and concerned about news content, pedantic, and are often willing to contribute to the news process.

Shepherd described Facebook as a great "untapped resource" of news for local media organisations and noted that 70,000 Facebook profiles are attached to Bournemouth in some way. The paper also features photos taken by people in Bournemouth and posted on Flickr.

For Shepherd, it is important to adapt to online communities and not impose rules upon them from the outside. She said honesty, civility, actively responding to your readers and an ability to deal with criticism in public are the keystones of engagement.

Although social media therefore takes a significant amount of time and the rewards are not always "tangible", Shepherd's bottom line was that there is value in talking to "Readers+" people to improve the Echo's journalism and to foster other business opportunities.
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Thursday 24 June 2010

Latest research on blogs

Axel Bruns has been blogging about some of the latest research on blogging at the ICA conference in Singapore.

1. The Effects of Reading Political Blogs

"The next paper in this ICA 2010 session is by Aaron Veenstra, whose interest is in the cognitive processing of blog-based information...Blog readers also do seem to have a particular understanding of how the media work (this is somewhat different from political sophistication - more a kind of media sophistication); what also needs to be examined are the effects of starting to read blogs as compared to increasing use."

2. Political Participation by Active and Passive Blog Users

"...there was a positive relationship between an active use of blogs and political participation on- and offline; there was no such correlation for passive use. (Younger people were especially active online; wealthier users offline.) Active use was also related to greater engagement with weak ties, disagreeing views, and better reasoning strategies." (Research by Sandra Hsu).

3. Personal Bloggers' Perceptions of their Audiences

"Audience relationships as expressed by the bloggers could be categorised as self-directed (writing is a goal in itself), narrowcast (speaking to known friends), dialogic (speaking with known friends), and telelogic (speaking to or with anyone reading). Self-directed bloggers in particular seemed somewhat disinterested in responses, and even felt annoyed that they would now have to respond to their readers."

I found this research by David Brake most interesting. He surveyed and interviewed 150 UK-based personal bloggers and his findings provide a useful counterweight to anybody that over-emphasises the 'interactive' nature of blogging.

The bloggers he spoke to were much less concerned with how effective their communication with their audience had been and often assumed that nobody would be reading their posts.

It appears that these bloggers use a blog as a diary whereby the blogger has some consciousness that others might be reading their posts but that this fact is incidental to the personal gain obtained from the process of writing a blog.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Teatime reading on the BBC, blogging and the media

BBC and linking
  • The BBC will use "editorial justification as our guiding principle" when deciding what webpages to link to regardless of whether they are behind a paywall. Steve Herrmann says the BBC will flag up whether a link requires a subscription in order to access it.
BBC and compliance
  • Culture of compliance is damaging to the BBC according to Jonathan Dimbleby: "It risks creating a climate of caution. People are in danger of not thinking for themselves."
Did bloggers bring down the German President?
  • AFP reports that the comments which led to Horst Koehler's resignation had received little press coverage before they were seized upon by bloggers even though they were given in a radio interview. There is a great quote from one of the bloggers in this article, Stefan Graunke, who played down bloggers' role as challengers to the traditional media:
'Blogs are increasing in importance, "not because they want to to challenge established media, but because classic journalism is less and less capable of achieving its mission alone," Graunke said. "It's just that with more eyes, we see better."'
Wikio Blog rankings for 2010 (via Online Journalism Blog)
  • Interesting to note that a number of the big movers and new entrants are 'craft challenge' blogs like Cute Card Thursday. I don't think I've heard about these before. When did they appear on the scene? I suppose they are a variation on the Post Secret community art project type of blog.
We live during "the greatest change in the history of media" (apparently).
  • Exciting, isn't it?

Wednesday 2 June 2010

On the traditional media 'stealing' stories from blogs

In this post, Danny Sullivan explains how he broke a story on his blog. He says it was a 'tasty story' about a woman suing Google for providing her with poor directions.

He then traces how his story was picked up and usually not attributed by various media outlets. Unsurprisingly a number of media organisations simply 'stole' the story.

Sullivan was demonstrating that while bloggers use material from traditional media sources, the opposite is also true. He wants better attribution from bloggers and traditional media alike; "a lot less finger-pointing and much more acknowledgment that the origin of news is a messy business".

I can't think of anyone who could possibly be against "less finger-pointing", but there is considerable intrigue around the origin of news stories both for cultural and economic reasons.

Much research has attempted to look at the extent to which blogs break original news.

Only the other week the Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study suggesting that original reporting on blogs is more or less non-existent. In this case, Amy Gahran pointed out that the methodology of the study was flawed as it looked at a specific section of the blogosphere that talked about mainstream media news organisations.

Sullivan's story highlights another methodological problem. Much research in this field so far focuses on content analysis. For those of you not up with academic terminology (and believe me you won't be alone) studies based on content analysis will look for and count references, mentions, quotations or citations of blogs in traditional media output.

Sullivan's story shows us that blogs get written out of traditional media stories. This is no different, in fact, to the way in which media organisations follow up stories written by their traditional competitors and often do not credit them either. So it is nothing particularly new.

But unfortunately it renders a content analysis rather problematic. If blogs and indeed other sources of other news are written out of media reports how can we accurately measure their influence? It seems to me that relying solely on content analyses to assess the impact of blogs on the traditional news media is highly unreliable.

Of course, it is interesting to hear stories like Sullivan's and I have a few of my own from my research. The use of White Phosphorus by the US Army in Iraq in 2004, for example, was broken a year later by a blog. But that piece of information did not make it into the BBC's initial reporting.

These stories do provide a healthy caveat to studies based on content analysis, but they do not give us all the answers either. In particular, it is difficult to know how common or otherwise they are.

Sullivan says "the origin of news is a messy business". Untangling the mess won't be easy.

Friday 28 May 2010

Writings elsewhere on blogging, Facebook, Afghanistan, Twitter, usual subjects etc...

Couple of Frontline Club posts up this week:

1. How Facebook users can report casualties in Afghanistan before the US military
2. The blog as a weapon in an era of information war

Meanwhile, Matthew Eltringham wrote an interesting post on the BBC College of Journalism blog asking whether 'Twitter has grown up'.

I wrote a comment in which I noted that journalists might also have 'grown up' in their use of Twitter.

Matthew's come right back at me and posed some questions on what all this means for a journalist's relationship with his or her audience.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

On journalists using blogs and other blogging research

There has been some interesting new research and comment in the realm of blogging and social media. So make yourself comfortable...(mug of tea, a biscuit perhaps).

Journalists using blogs

Claire Wardle, who runs the BBC's social media training, highlighted a few difficulties with the headline findings of some research by the Society for New Communication Research. Their report said:

"48% are using Twitter and other microblogging sites
66% of journalists are using blogs
48% are using online video
25% are using podcasts

Overall, 90% of journalists agree that new media and communication tools and technologies are enhancing journalism to some extent."

Wardle's ethnographic perspective combined with a take down of the methodology - (a web-based survey of 341 journalists means you are likely to select journalists who use the web most) - leads her to conclude that the figures don't resonate with the experience she has of training BBC journalists.

Importantly, she notes:
" very busy newsrooms, where resources are becoming increasingly limited (and I recognise the BBC is in a very special place in comparison to other newsrooms where income is not guaranteed), most journalists have not had the time to spend experimenting with these new tools. When your day is spent desperately trying to meet deadlines, there is no time to have a play with twitter, find relevant blogs, spend time verifying who the authors are, or battle with Facebook’s privacy settings."
Wardle also points out that there are significant difficulties over what 'using a blog' means. Does that just mean reading it? Or quoting it as a source? Or what does it mean?

My own research, which is based on interviews with BBC journalists from a wide-range of web-using and other backgrounds, supports Wardle's conclusions and concerns.

I would suggest that even when journalists have spent an initial period of time learning about the potential of the Web and playing with new tools there are still significant challenges facing these journalists when reporting the news in a pressurised, real-time and multimedia news environment.

Blogs do not always meet journalists' or their bosses' standards of efficiency and trustworthiness when they are trying to understand and report the factual basis of a news story. The demand for reliable information at speed means journalists often do not turn to blogs.

Time pressures on 21st Century journalists have been complicated by the volume of information available to them and the number of outlets through which they are expected to distribute their journalism.

Finding the time to access blogs, and verify what they have to say is not always possible or desirable, particularly if other sources of information provide a journalist with more reliable and less time-consuming options.

Blogs, the traditional media, and agenda setting

Meanwhile, A Project for Excellence in Journalism report looks at the extent to which the agenda on blogs and in the American traditional media differs. A couple of key points that caught my eye were these:
  • "Social media and the mainstream press clearly embrace different agendas. Blogs shared the same lead story with traditional media in just 13 of the 49 weeks studied. Twitter was even less likely to share the traditional media agenda – the lead story matched that of the mainstream press in just four weeks of the 29 weeks studied. On YouTube, the top stories overlapped with traditional media eight out of 49 weeks."
  • "While social media players espouse a different agenda than the mainstream media, blogs still heavily rely on the traditional press – and primarily just a few outlets within that – for their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And just four – the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post accounted for fully 80% of all links."
It's worth reading what Amy Gahran has to say though on the latter point. She takes PEJ to task over its method of selecting blogs:
  • "PEJ apparently chose to count blog links coming mainly from a preselected portion of the blogosphere that focuses mainly on what mainstream news orgs are talking about. Given that context, it’s not surprising that they found that 99% of the outbound links from those blogs led to traditional news stories."

Monday 17 May 2010

Recommended reading and Audioboo

Global Voices
Law and blogging
Geeks section
  • 300 social media stats.
  • Carnegie Mellon study of Twitter sentiments finds the microblogging tool can be used to produce similar results to opinion polls (sparking panic among pollsters) although it seems that it is less straightforward to reproduce political polling.
And finally...
  • Would it be wrong to say: 'I've booed myself'. Yes, it probably would in more ways than one. But I have, so I suggest we all move on.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

PhD references for blog commenters

Not sure what the PhD examiner is going to make of my references. Here is one I've just written:
‘hodgeey’ in N. Robinson, ‘Return to the Fray’, Newslog, 5 Jan 2009,, (Accessed 28 Apr 2010).
I feel the apostrophes are necessary for some reason. You see:
hodgeey in N. Robinson, ‘Return to the Fray’, Newslog, 5 Jan 2009, etc
just looks like I've drifted off during my referencing, made contact with some random keys with my head and woken up just in time to finish the reference properly.

But I really do mean 'hodgeey', which I feel I can only communicate by adding some additional marks on the page.

Monday 26 April 2010

Should I be worried? Facebook, privacy and Foursquare

Paul Bradshaw, on the Online Journalism Blog, looks at journalistic uses for Foursquare, the geolocation tool that helps you "unlock your city".

(Does it not work in the countryside due to inevitable problems with a lack of mobile phone signal? This suggests rather sadly that the countryside would remain permanently "locked down" or perhaps more positively there might be some areas of the country where we actually stop staring at 3 inch screens once in a while and admire the view. Anyway, I digress.)

I should perhaps try Foursquare and other location-based services but I'm rather concerned about revealing my location on a regular basis. I mean I can see the potential power of geolocation for I just worrying too much?

Maybe I am. Shortly after Facebook introduced their Social Graph concept a few days ago, I promptly pulled all of my 'interests' from my Facebook page. I feel like this was an over-reaction on my part.

But I have always kept Facebook as a way of keeping in touch with personal contacts who I know well. Facebook's desire to put more and more of my personal information 'out there' is beginning to make me wonder whether at some point I will need to start all over again and treat Facebook more like my Twitter feed - open, but altogether less revealing about my personal life.

I note that Ros Atkins at the BBC has already jettisoned his friends on Facebook in order to build relationships with listeners to his radio programme. In his regular email to listeners he wrote recently:
"The trouble was that I had 'friends' who I know from my personal life, and lots more of you who I've come to know through W[orld] H[ave] Y[our] S[ay]. It didn't seem like a great mix. So the mates have gone, and now it's strictly WHYS."
So it looks like my Facebook friends might be sent packing at some point. We'll just have to rely on the knowledge that we are friends in 'real life' to see us through.

Friday 23 April 2010

What I've been writing

I've been working on a chapter comparing the coverage of the 2008-9 Gaza conflict on blogs and on the BBC. This, I've discovered, is not for the faint-hearted.

As good as BBC content is, there are only so many hours of TV and radio of the same topic you can listen to in one go. And as interesting as reading the blogs has been, after a while trawling through mountains of material leaves you wondering what you were trying to achieve when you started.

That's a bad place from which to try to start comparing the two. But we'll get there. I say we...I mean me. Ludicrously underpaid research assistant internship anyone?

Still very much early days for this chapter - about two thirds of the way through an initial draft.

In the meantime, I've still been writing the odd blog post to keep my hand in.

Talk Issues

If you haven't found my contributions on Talk Issues yet and want to know about some of the defence issues that are relevant to the General Election hop on over:

1. Whir of helicopters drowns out real defence questions
2. Are you going to vote on the basis of defence policy?
3. The Liberal Democrats: Strident change or Trident tweaking? (Probably more than you wanted to know about nuclear weapons).

Michael Yon and Embedded journalism

I've just written a quick blog post on this subject at Frontline. Wired has all the details.

Friday 9 April 2010

'Don't Tweet': A Twitter song dedicated to Stuart MacLennan

A (very) little educational song entitled 'Don't Tweet' to the tune of Don't Speak by No Doubt...

Don't tweet
I know just what you're saying
So please stop explaining
Don't tell me 'cause it hurts.

(Shame. If only you had taken heed from those who have gone before you...)

So Stuart,

Don't Tweet (like that please...)
I don't know what you were thinking
We don't need your reasons
Don't tell me 'cause it hurts (you more than us, I'm afraid).

Apparently, true Twitter fans should deplore Stuart's persecution because Twitter will be less interesting now. And after all, let those of us who have not tweeted something a little silly cast the first stone.

I'm looking forward to Stuart's return to Twitter. No doubt he'll be posting more mundane things like what he had for breakfast...

Thursday 8 April 2010

Fancy a crash course in social media on Monday?

Word is that an odd place or two is still available for my social media training course this Monday.

Some people have said it "sounds great" and is a "brilliant price".

Click here for more details and email to book a place.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

More evidence of the merger between blogging and journalism

A new survey by PR Week found that 52% of bloggers [in the US, I think but might also include Canada] consider themselves to be journalists. This left me wondering what the other 48% of bloggers considered themselves to be. Perhaps, just bloggers.

Nevertheless, it led to an interesting post by Simon Columbus on why he considers himself a writer rather than a blogger or a journalist.

The study also suggested - perhaps rather obviously - that print and magazine journalists use blogs and Twitter less for research than their blogging counterparts:
"While 91% of bloggers and 68% of online reporters "always" or "sometimes" use blogs for research, only 35% of newspaper and 38% of print magazine journalists suggested the same."
"Newspaper and print magazine reporters also source Twitter less frequently than their media counterparts, with 19% and 22% saying they have used a Twitter post in a story. This is sharply different from bloggers (55%), online magazine/news (42%) and even TV news (48%)."

Monday 15 March 2010

Blogs in the State of the Media report

The annual report written by the Project for Excellence in Journalism on the state of the American media has the following to say about blogs:
  • "The stories and issues that win the most attention in blogs and on Twitter differ substantially from the mainstream press.
  • "Between the two social media platforms, Twitter users strayed the farthest from the mainstream press. Blogs were a bit more traditional, at least in the sources they drew on.

  • "On both platforms, though, one clear characteristic was the ability of new media to quickly trigger and concentrate passionate debate and activity around a specific issue."
  • "In the 47 weeks studied during 2009, blogs and the mainstream press shared the top story just 13 times. The storyline shared most was the U.S. economic crisis (five weeks in all)."
  • "Blogs often filled the role adding analysis or debate when highlighting these stories. Following the shootings at Fort Hood, for instance, bloggers linked to straight news accounts, with some then expressing condolences to the families of the victims, while others quickly pivoted to discuss the role that the suspect’s religion may have played.

  • "In many other instances, the blogosphere mirrored talk radio, parlaying the story of the day into heated political arguments."

The report also suggested that "bloggers shared the mainstream press’s interest in public affairs, but through a much more opinionated lens", and that traditional journalistic outlets still did most of the original reporting. The vast majority of links on Twitter and blogs went to straight news reporting (86% and 83% respectively).

Researchers found that the lack of original stories on citizen news sites was due to a lack of resources. Often these sites were publishing less than one new story a day on average.

The PEJ research chimes with some of the concerns expressed by a few journalists that I have interviewed who have told me that blogs do not reliably provide them with new information.

More generally it seems blogs and traditional media (in the U.S.) have settled down to some extent and are undertaking separate roles in the mediasphere, largely co-existing rather than directly competing.

There are notable exceptions of course and it's not entirely clear what the project made of complexities such as a blog that sits on a traditional media website.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Episodes 1 & 2 of Blogworld on BBC World

Link to Blogworld blog.

The SuperPower season and the BBC's love for blogs

BBC SuperPower Season

The BBC will team up with Global Voices for a 'SuperPower' season on the Internet. Steve Herrmann reveals all in this blog post.
"As part of the BBC's SuperPower season - a special series on the internet - we will be teaming up with Global Voices, a non-profit blogging network of citizen journalists, to present a different range of perspectives and commentary from around the world."
It's a move described by one former BBC journalist as "long overdue". (And I know someone else at the Corporation who has been banging on about this sort of thing for some time.)

Meanwhile, BBC presenter Mishal Husain has been twittering away on the Superpower project asking whether the Internet is the greatest superpower the world has ever seen and the like.

The BBC's love for blogs...

Last week, the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson described comments on his blog as "a waste of time" prompting to ask whether the BBC was "falling out of love with blogging". might have pointed out that Nick is still blogging away long after he started his first blog for the BBC way back in 2001. And that the BBC has started a new Arts blog recently, got this one and this one running properly at the back end of last year. Then there's this TV blog that started in February. And did I mention that Have Your Say has been turned into a blog too?

OK, so maybe there is not the 'first love' excitement of Paul Mason dodging behind the BBC's bike sheds to set up his Newsnight blog in the early days but the BBC and blogs appear to have settled down into a pretty committed long term relationship.

In any case, Nick was going after comments rather than blogging per se. I might have some sympathy with him if I attracted his level of comments on any blog I wrote. As it is I think I can say: "you don't know what you've got til it's gone".

But on a serious note it seems to me that comments remain a serious issue for the BBC and other media organisations. What to do with them? How to display them? Do you allow quantity to the detriment of quality? And if you go for 'quality' - whatever you decide that to mean - are you willing to suffer the inevitable accusations of censorship, bias etc (especially problematic when you're funded by a licence fee)?

To be honest, I'm glad it's somebody else's problem. In the meantime, I'll publish every comment I get. Unless it's spam. (Don't get any ideas, spammers.)

Totally free bonus interesting stuff section:
  • Match of the Day: Plaut/Whitehead/Horrocks/BBC World Service vs Geldoff/BandAid/NGOs/Ethiopia
  • What the BBC's Strategy Review really says about online.
  • The BBC have hired some consulting people to "work with them looking at the overlap between their enthusiastic entry into the world of social media (especially blogs) and their responsibility to be accountable to the people who pay their licence fee."

Thursday 4 March 2010

How the BBC Strategy Review misunderstands the blogosphere

Commenting on the much-covered BBC Strategy Review, Alfred Hermida pointed out that the BBC had described the blogosphere as "unruly" in the report. Here is the extract:
"Nor is the global democratisation of opinion and argument as straightforward as it appears. Above the vast and unruly world of the blogosphere, professional media power may actually concentrate in fewer hands. Individual plurality may increase but collective, effective plurality decrease—with societies around the world left with fewer reliable sources of professionally validated news. The risk of bias and misinformation and, in some countries, of state control, may grow. Again, public space is threatened."
Interestingly, this also visualises the professional media as sitting "above" the blogosphere. Which leaves me wondering whether the BBC also see their own blogs as sitting in the blogosphere, 'below' the "professional media", or whether their blogs simply do not belong in the "unruly world of the blogosphere".

Surely the former can't be the case as there has been much made of how the BBC's blogs conform to the same professional standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness as all their other content. And it seems to me that they do.

Maybe then the latter is true: the BBC's blogs do not belong in the "unruly world of the blogosphere". Certainly it would seem strange to describe the BBC's blogs as "unruly", but not all blogs are "unruly" and I would argue that as they nevertheless remain 'blogs' they still sit within the blogosphere.

It seems the problem then, here, is the addition of the adjective "unruly" to the blogosphere and the decision to describe the professional media as an entity which is separate to the blogosphere.

In fact, dividing the blogosphere and the professional media in this way doesn't make much sense any more in a way that it might (possibly) have done at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Since the development of blogging some bloggers and blogs have become part of the professional media and some members of the professional media have become bloggers or have adopted the blog as a format.

Perhaps it would have been better to use the word mediasphere and note that within that there is a both a blogosphere and a professional media that overlap and intersect. And that within the blogosphere there is undoubtedly a significant "unruly" element. (You might also highlight that there are also some "unruly" elements within the professional media.)

Of course, I've just read way too much into one line of a much longer report. There were clearly more important things to address in the Strategy Review than a conceptual discussion of the blogosphere.

But this blog wouldn't be a blog if it wasn't at least a tiny bit "unruly" in its overly miniscule dissection of the odd sentence here and there, right?

Monday 8 February 2010

Links on the BBC and blogging

BBC and blogs
  • The BBC has started a new arts blog written by Will Gompertz. He's just been appointed arts editor for BBC News.
  • The BBC's Mark Devenport blogs out of hours to cover the late night power-sharing deal in Northern Ireland:
"Many moons ago when I started this game I vowed not to blog out of office hours, but here I am at 11.30 pm tapping away at my keyboard. My excuse? I am in my office in the Stormont basement and upstairs in Room 315 the DUP assembly team is meeting. They started arriving around 10 pm tonight for what it's fair to assume is an extraordinary late night meeting to consider the deal."
  • BBC Editor Jon Williams considers media restrictions in Iraq. Attention may now be focussed on Afghanistan but Williams highlights that reporting Iraq remains problematic. He is particularly concerned about these new plans:
"The Iraqi authorities are demanding journalists reveal their sources in response to complaints, in violation of the journalist's age-old responsibility to protect those who come to us with stories. And they want to prevent the international media from reporting stories that might incite violence or sectarianism, but have failed to clarify what constitutes 'incitement' or 'sectarianism'"
  • Here's a blogging survey conducted in Myanmar (Burma). (Most bloggers use Blogger, some Wordpress, 7/10 are male, most are under the age of 35. More here...)
And finally...
  • If you've ever put together a piece of TV news (and even if you haven't), you need to make sure you don't miss this from Charlie Brooker.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

BBC blogs: Civilian casualties and 'See Also'

A couple of BBC type links for the end of the day:
  • The BBC's defence correspondent, Caroline Wyatt, explains the Corporation's approach to reporting civilian casualties in Afghanistan on the Editors' Blog.
  • A BBC blog called 'See Also' formally launched in December under my radar. It's an experiment in 'link journalism' and aims to be "a collection of the best of the web, including comment, newspaper editorials and analysis."

Tuesday 19 January 2010

What is breaking news?

Sounds like an easy question to answer, not least because we're always being told we are receiving breaking news, but it seems like a little bit more conceptualisation might help move forward some debates.

On the Online Journalism Blog, I implicitly defined breaking news as: the first publication of news material to a significantly sized potential audience.

I ignored the issue of whether 6 people read it or 6 million people read the breaking news and focussed on it being published first through a medium which could potentially reach a significant number of people.

I went for 'potential audience' because in theory only one or two people could listen to a radio news bulletin. Would it then be right to say that the news wasn't published?

Nevertheless, one problem with my approach is that there probably needs to be some sort of numerical threshold by which an audience could be described as 'significantly sized', even if it could perhaps vary depending on context.

Another problem, as Tom Calver rightly pointed out, is that most people still get their 'breaking news' from traditional media regardless of whether they might have been able to, (but probably didn't), access it elsewhere.

Here Tom's similarly implicit definition focuses on where people actually first receive news which is breaking for them. This leads us more easily to a more accurate representation of how audiences consume breaking news than if you start with my definition.

The theoretical difficulty with this approach is that we might have to introduce some sort of time frame by which a person would have to discover the news for it to be understood as 'breaking news'.

Somebody who reads a two-week old newspaper after being on holiday is not receiving 'breaking news' are they? You might argue that they are.

But if we extrapolate further you would have to argue that when I read a primary source in Christopher Haigh's English Reformations I am receiving breaking news about the 16th Century.

And if we do introduce a time frame for breaking news where should that end - after a few minutes, a few hours, a day, a week? (Presumably it has changed over time - for example 'breaking news' from battles in the American Civil War took several days to arrive)

Maybe the idea of 'breaking news' is simply a construct of journalists and, to a lesser extent, audiences. So another way of tackling the issue would be to ask audiences or journalists how they define breaking news and use their answers to formulate a definition.

All of these approaches have value but I think it's worth thinking about which definition you are using and what impact that has on your conclusions. I've certainly found it useful.

Monday 18 January 2010

BBC's Kevin Marsh: Keynote at News Rewired Conference 2010

Kevin Marsh at news:rewired 2010 from BBC College of Journalism on Vimeo.

A couple of things I picked out at the time with regards to blogging:

1. "Blogging has done more to change the way journalists work than anything else thus far."
2. "
Blogging has put expertise right up there."

Friday 15 January 2010

UGC online (and breaking news from Haiti)

Just left this comment on Paul Bradshaw's Online Journalism Blog, on a post entitled 'What is User Generated Content?'

I've reproduced it here for your pleasure/pain.

(It's certainly applicable to coverage of Haiti...)

One of the things I’ve been thinking and writing about is the fact that in the specific circumstance of reporting crisis situations, UGC published online inevitably breaks the news.

This is a fundamental change from the role of the “historical UGC” contributions that Paul alludes to in his post (letters to editor etc) and has significant implications for journalists as it threatens one of the pillars of their economic and cultural capital.

Journalists find themselves playing catch up in the breaking news game and incorporating these contributions into their own coverage becomes a vital part of the news process.

It enables traditional media organisations to retain the illusion of breaking news by re-publishing the UGC effectively as their own (even if they do highlight the origin of the source, link, etc).

It also forces journalists into new roles as curators of UGC on the grounds that the content being delivered is often the best or only news content available, particularly in the early stages of any crisis until they can get reporters on the ground.

Furthermore, journalists can add value to UGC through its organisation, presentation, contextualisation and distribution by mobilising resources and expertise on a scale that most UGC contributors do not have.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Follow the BBC on blogs on Twitter

Tracking the BBC on blogs using Twitter
You can keep track of discussions circulating about the BBC online by following the BBC_on_Blogs Twitter account. The feed is a collection of the delicious links selected by the BBC Internet blog:
"'BBC on blogs'" is shorthand for 'Conversations about BBC online, BBC iPlayer, the BBC's digital services and the technology that underpins them, including blogs, message boards and articles where you can comment'".
The BBC's Nick Reynolds explains more about the editorial process behind selecting the links on the Internet Blog.

All in all, a good idea and very useful for people me.

Monday 11 January 2010

Frontline Club: blogging and social media training

Just a note to let you know that I'll be running the Frontline Club's blogging and social media training course on 1 and 2 February 2010.

Hopefully it will be great fun and a really good way to get yourself started in online publishing if you haven't already. (There's funding available as well).

It is a 2-day course (contrary to the current confusion on the Frontline Club website) which will run from 10 - 5pm each day at the Club near Paddington.

Here's a bit about what I'll be teaching on the course:


Aimed at beginners, this intensive two day course will get you up to speed with the social media world. Using tools that are available for free on the web, you’ll learn how to set up a blog, and engage with social media to research, publish and distribute content. The course will also introduce you to several strategies for monitoring news and information on the web as you learn how to use RSS feeds and Twitter. By the end of the two days you’ll preside over the beginnings of a mini social media empire.

Main aims
  • Setting up and producing content for a blog.
  • Using microblogging for networking, promoting your content and as a personal newswire. Social bookmarking as a research tool.
  • Embedding photo and video on your blog.
  • Getting the most out of RSS.
  • Monitoring and verifying information on the web.

Who’s it for?
  • Journalists who are interested in getting up to speed with the social media world.
  • Anybody who wants to learn how to publish online.
  • People who are interested in monitoring breaking news and information on the web.

If you want any further information about what you'll learn, then drop me a line at I'm hoping to be flexible to what people on the course want to know so if you want to find about something that's not there, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

The course costs £265. If you want to book a place or enquire about the Skillset funding available for the course then email:

Friday 8 January 2010

How do journalists use Twitter to break news?

Do journalists break news on Twitter before they break it on their employers' media outlet?

Or do they wait to break the news (say) on live TV first and then tweet it?

Or do they inform their colleagues running breaking news Twitter accounts for media organisations and then tweet on their own account?

Or does it go up as a flash on the website or on TV first before anything else happens?

I could go on with these hypothetical scenarios but the point is: what is the hierarchy of breaking news outlets these days for individual journalists?

I suppose to a certain extent it must depend on what the breaking news is and possibly differing organisational policies.

In other sort-of-not-really breaking Twitter news, Sky is going to install Tweetdeck on its computers so journalists can monitor Twitter and, no doubt, break news.

Maybe this will have an effect on my questions above?

Wednesday 6 January 2010

On the gulf between academia and journalism

So it's been a while since I've posted here. 2010 is deadline year and the ratio of PhD to blogging is increasing in the PhD direction each month, week and day.

Which is a shame because blogging is great and many good things have come out of this blog and my Frontline blog.

I often think, too, that far more people will read my blog posts than my PhD. In a way the blog might be more useful to people than the PhD especially as by the time the PhD is published, (if ever), the world will have moved on a-pace and its relevancy significantly reduced.

I wonder if I should have put more of my research out on the blog along the way.

(Although I place the utmost importance on making sure participants agree to publication which does make it more difficult and there are various other contractual issues in my case that might not affect other PhDs.)

Professor Tim Luckhurst, I see, has called for journalism academics* to connect more with journalists by writing short essays rather than writing long papers that they don't have time to read.

This seems fine for established academics, and generally I agree entirely, but I've been told that not being published in the right places, and in the right format won't get me a job in academia come the end of the PhD.

If I say in an interview: I've published a lot of additional research on a blog, I've been told that will probably count for nothing. I might even be laughed at. To be fair, a lot of my blogging wouldn't come anywhere near 'research' but you get the point.

Generally, I ignore these warnings in the hope that they are unfounded (and I'm not certain exactly what I want to do at the end of the PhD anyway).

But if Tim Luckhurst really wants to change the institutional culture of academia then I would suggest there is a hell of a lot of work to do.

It's interesting Luckhurst notes that Piet Bakker's blog is slightly more useful than his recent research paper, because if I really wanted to get on in academia (from what I've been told) I would have spent far less time blogging, twittering and generally engaging with journalists and far more time writing papers that journalists will probably never read.

*I suppose you could stick me in this category even though I'm in a War Studies Department and generally disciplinarially confused.
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