Friday, April 29, 2005

Blogging the election

[Keyword: ]. The Times provide a helpful list of bloggers covering the election. To list them here:

"Some websites try to remain neutral or dispassionate, such as , which allows political gamblers to place trends and events in context or the Guido Fawkes blog , which cuts across all kinds of political stories.

"The site (and its blog) is excellent at deciphering voting intentions, as is, which has clear constituency background information.

"British bloggers are just as partisan as in the US. Sites such as and make little attempt to hide their allegiances. Also good value are sites that pick on a party and knock it as hard as they can - labour watch, libdemwatch or torytrouble."

The interviewer on record

[Keyword: ]. Interesting article by Amy Gahran on how interviewees might publish transcripts of their interviews - including what the journalist says - on their blogs. "When I interview sources I will make a point of asking if they have their own site or weblog, and whether they're intending to write about the interview. I will consider the whole conversation mutually on record unless otherwise specified."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Google Maps

[Keyword: ]. Google Maps has already made some waves in the US, so it's good to see it now over here - and what a lovely piece of technology it is. Intuitive, click-and-drag control with a slider to zoom in, with great detail.

The virtual election

[Keyword: ]. Here's an article I wrote for in its pre-edited form. Click here for the edited version, which makes the wise decision to hang it on the recent Murdoch speech...

The virtual election

Forget the fight for Number 10. The real fight in this election season is between the news organisations - and it seems that when it comes to online journalisma clear gap is emerging between the switched-on, and the switched-off.

As always the BBC, which had promised "the first truly interactive election coverage", backs that up with a whole section devoted to engaged, imaginative user experience. An animated Peter Snow hosts a raft of interactive tools including a quiz, a seat calculator, and a poll tracker, while the real Peter Snow provides video instructions on how to use the interactive swingometer.

Channel 4 News online goes for the hard-hitting angle, launching the FactCheck site to "test the veracity of claim and counter claim", while it also gets brownie points for its co-opting of Photoshop Battles.

The Guardian's online arm continues to impress with a simple but effective policy comparer and - for those who want to watch that Mingella soft-focus over and over again - a page of party political broadcast videos.

After Murdoch's speech last week on the need for papers to take online journalism seriously, it was interesting to see how News Corp's websites would respond. The Sun is alone in the tabloids in having a devoted election section, with an 'e-poll' and an election tracker which allows you to search by country, postcode, constituency, party targets and candidate - although for the latter searches for Blair, Howard and Kennedy failed to yield any results.

But The Times's online election coverage is even more impressive, with an array of bells and whistles that includes audio reports and an interactive Q&A with John Sergeant. Most impressive is a visually engaging slideshow illustrating the change in Britain political landscape over the last four elections, and a Flash game - Quote Unquote - which engages the user by asking you to match quotes in key areas to the leader responsible.

Finally, The Daily Mail may not be known for technological literacy of its audience, but has some imaginative use of the web with live chats with politicians, polls, an election messageboard and, best of all, an election quiz which proposes to reveal you who you're likely to vote for.

Common Features

There are some features that seem to be more or less standard. Specific election email alerts are offered by The Guardian and the BBC, where you can also download a desktop alert service. And Channel 4 offers an SMS alert "when the election is won", conjuring up images of being woken at five in the morning by a strange beepingsound.

RSS junkies, meanwhile, can subscribe to specific election feeds at Sky News,
The Daily Mail
, The Guardian, and the BBC (both election and blog), and you can find interactive election maps at The Guardian, Channel 4, Sky News and The Times, although many don't promise to show anything until the results start to come in.

The now-ubiquitous blog has been taken up by a number of sites, including the BBC, The Daily Mail and The Times. The Guardian has an election blog and a candidates' diaries blog, and incorporates a "folksonomic zeitgeist" to show what the current talking points are. But biggest of all is Channel 4, which has a whopping eight election blogs written by both presenters and MPs.

Finally, having spent your day immersed in MP-speak and the vagaries of the election system, you could be forgiven for forgetting the journalism and getting your own back by clicking on a leader and starting Radio 1's cathartic mud slinger game. Who gets your vote?

Friday, April 22, 2005


[Keyword: ]. Now this looks pretty impressive: an interactive museum of news, with sections on front pages, photography and photojournalism, cartoons, coverage of particular events and a US-centric news quiz.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

To click here or not to click here

[Keyword: ]. Useful page outlining the arguments for and against using 'click here' as a hyperlink - as well as some suggestions for alternative sentences to link from.

More useful online resources

[Keyword: ]. US journalist Duff Wilson's Reporter's Desktop has some great ideas, some of which translate to British practice (the dictionary and reference links), some of which are only useful in America (demographics; government) - although the latter should still prompt some ideas as to link it might be worth having.

On another page he outlines his own processes in tracking people - again in the US, but again, the process itself is well worth looking at for parallels over here.

CNN's online coverage of the Jackson trial

[Keyword: ]. Thanks to Andy for drawing my attention to CNN's online coverage of the Jackson trial. The company have clearly ploughed some hefty resources into this one, with video reports, a gallery of key players, and an interactive timeline. Well worth exploring.

Google Suggest

[Keyword: ]. Thanks to a colleague for introducing the slightly-more-useful-than-Google Google Suggest: basically Google with an auto-suggest function that guesses what you're searching for (and tells you how many results there are).

So, 's' and 'sp' bring up 'spybot'; 'spr' brings up 'sprint'; and 'spra' brings up 'sprained ankle'. Just what I was looking for...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How web traffic affects news decisions

[Keyword: ]. From Buzzworthy: "NAA's Presstime magazine looks at how newspaper editors factor in Web traffic when deciding what stories will make the front page in print. (At the Post-Intelligencer, printside editors get regular reports about what stories are most popular online but I think they usually make their decisions based on more traditional criteria.)"

Poynter opens online "News University"

[Keyword: ]. To quote:
"News University works in concert with leading journalism organizations and journalism schools to offer three types of e-learning:
  • Self-directed classes that journalists can complete at their own pace.
  • Faculty-moderated seminars that are scheduled over the course of days or weeks.
  • Live eSeminars that are broadcast over the Internet.
"NewsU's course topics range from basic reporting and writing skills, such as interviewing and lead writing, to visual journalism, such as using color in news design, as well as courses for newsroom managers. NewsU is launching with nearly 20 courses and will continue to add more to meet the training needs of busy journalists..."

A look at the evolving pay schemes of writers online.

[Keyword: ]. ...from the OJR's Mark Glaser, including the trend of basing payment on popularity. Will we see a split between 'tabloid' bloggers chasing numbers and 'quality' bloggers who can afford independence? As always with these things, it seems there are both good and bad aspects to the trend: on the one hand journalists become more aware of their audience and self-promotion; on the other when does chasing ratings become an ethical issue?

There is no escape from the hit counter, it seems...

A full-price online newspaper?

[Keyword: ]. Continuing the Trinity-Mirror theme, the company is experimenting with a digital edition of the Journal in Newcastle... watch this space.

The real reason behind Murdoch's turnaround?

[Keyword: ]. There's been a lot of analysis of Murdoch's speech asking newspapers to embrace the internet, but Roy Greenslade's angle makes a particularly salient point about the growth of online advertising revenue in publishing (previously reported here). To quote liberally:
"the Murdoch theme was prefigured in a statement about Trinity-Mirror's preliminary results on March 3 by its chief executive, Sly Bailey. Hers was less philosophical and dealt more with advertising than editorial because she was talking to financial analysts rather than editors. [...] The central plank of T-M's strategy, she said, involved the development of digital media.

"In our regional business, she said, our goal is to become a multi-platform local publishing and advertising business. "What we want is simple: to win strong, profitable positions in key classified markets online."

"T-M's move into online classified advertising has seen a staggering turnaround in revenue. [By 2004] the digital business generated a turnover of £6.3m and produced a profit of £700,000. "And we expect that trajectory to continue", she says.

"But journalists will ask, naturally enough, where the future lies for editorial. [...]

"During the National, the [Trinity-Mirror-owned] Post teamed up with Racing UK, the leading racing channel on digital TV, to enable website visitors to benefit from the Post's tipsters giving their views of the runners on pre-recorded videos. It was only a pilot but it looked and sounded impressive.

"Are we far from the moment when we see another stage in the multi-skilling of print journalists as they video themselves in order to tell the story behind the stories they write for their papers?"

Online women's magazines

[Keyword: ]. Mira Katbamna "looks beyond the glossy covers" in this review of women's magazines, which refreshingly includes a number of online publications (at the bottom, of course)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Murdoch wakes up

[Keyword: ]. Rupert Murdoch's papers have hardly been at the cutting edge of online journalism - but his speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors contains some particularly important comments about the way that the print industry has reacted to the internet.

Interestingly, in comparing the new technology with the rise of audio and TV news before it, he makes the point that, by contrast, the print industry has an opportunity to use the internet.

But most telling is the lacklustre way this has been done so far. Key quotes:
"We have to refashion what our web presence is. It can’t just be what it too often is today: a bland repurposing of our print content. Instead, it will need to offer compelling and relevant content. Deep, deep local news. Relevant national and international news. Commentary and debate. Gossip and humor.

"...We need to be the destination for bloggers. We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented."
Much as I hate quoting Murdoch in this way, I have to say I look forward to seeing if his vast organisation starts asking "how high?" to his call for jumpers. Perhaps this is the start of a recruitment drive for online journalists... We can but hope.

You can also read Dan Gillor's take on the speech here.

Canadian political blogs asked to register

[Keyword: ]. From the Blog Herald: "Bloggers in the Canadian Province of British Columbia who blog on an upcoming referendum on multi-member constituencies are being required to register with Elections BC, a Government initiated body which runs elections in the province." The focus seems to be on one-party blogs, and I presume aimed at monitoring potential campaigning irregularities, although not having an intimate knowledge of Canadian law...

Awards launched for anti-censorship blogs

[Keyword: ]. From "More than 60 nominees have been selected by organisers Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) in association with news agency Deutsche Welle."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Online publishing makes money

[Keyword: ]. The idea that you can't make money from content online seems to be taking a bit of a bashing recently. New Media Age reports, for instance, that ad revenue for online publishers "grew by more than a third in 2004 compared to the previous year", with the Online Publishers Association (OPA) Europe reporting average increases in Web ad revenue of 41%. The forecast for 2005 is a further 25%.

Time to revisit our assumptions, perhaps...

UPDATE (Apr 15 05): The good news continues as CNET reports that "Online profits beat print loss at Dow Jones": "For the first time, the company's online operations have earned more money than its esteemed Wall Street Journal and Barron's magazine."

OhmyNews asks for global reporters

[Keyword: ]. Shame on me for linking to my own story on another website, but it's good to hear that OhmyNews are now asking for global contributors to its international site, which since its launch last year seems to have been mainly written by ex-pat Koreans and European contacts of Korean writers.

It's well worth signing up for this pioneering brand in online journalism, even if you'll only get $20 for a top story, although it is worrying that that top rate hasn't changed in the past year (during which time the company went into profit).

Monday, April 11, 2005

BBC gets interactive for the election

[Keyword: ]. The BBC has launched a raft of interactive tools as part of its election coverage, hosted by an animated Peter Snow. These include a darts game based on the swingometer, a desktop alert service, email alerts, an interactive swingometer (with a video of Peter Snow providing instructions), a quiz, a seat calculator, and a poll tracker.

Or, you could just forget the journalism and enjoy flinging mud at the candidates at Radio 1's online game.

Online games journalism the place to be

[Keyword: ]. There's an article on Gamecube bemoaning the lack of quality games journalism in print at the moment and heralding its online counterpart in comparison. Key quote:
"Videogames journalism is perhaps the most sterile, bland and boring area of writing today. Online journalism is its one saviour, where journalists can write about aspects of gaming culture that print magazines don’t yet touch."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Subscription Website Publishers Association

Another potentially useful website for online publishers, the Subscription Website Publishers Association promises a great deal for publishers, but seems so enamoured of the membership concept that it hides most of its content and all of the tools from casual browsers. You can, however, view sample articles, and some of these do look interesting.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sites for subs

[Keyword: ]. The April/May issue of the NUJ's Journalist magazine contains a particularly useful column from Humphrey Evans on websites for subs (or, as he points out "in the USA it's called copy editing. HTat's the phrase to enter in the search engine"). These include:
  • - includes a link to an accompanying blog, which includes informed comment on lazy writing.
  • - click on 'Resources' in the top corner for useful articles.
  • - which I was familiar with but had never noticed had a dedicated search engine which "claims to trawl 221 journalism sites"
  • - the description in Evans's column makes it sound pretty esoteric, and as the link wouldn't load, I'll let you find out...
  • (Society for Editors and Proofreaders - sadly seems to restrict most of its content to members)
  • - an email network for subs.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Making Your Searches More Contextually Aware

[Keyword: ]. Article on Search Engine Watch about Aware, which "joins the class of "research manager" programs that we've written about, such as Onfolio, Nextaris and others. These tools go beyond search by providing a suite of tools that let you manipulate search results in interesting ways not possible with search engines."

Great resource on online journalism

[Keyword: ]. Have just discovered this excellent resource for online journalism from Mindy McAdams of the University of Florida: it includes plenty of examples of OJ forms, plus resources and a helpful page on media types that stimulates some analytical thinking about what media you're using.

It also looks like she's publishing a book very soon on 'Flash Journalism' (see the supporting website). Good to see someone else plugging this area...

Inside Yahoo News

[Keyword: ]. OJR goes inside Yahoo News and their redesigns. Very interesting...

Distributed Journalism

[Keyword: ]. Some interesting thoughts from Dan Gillmor about what he calls 'Distributed Journalism', "where lots of people can work in parallel on small parts of the bigger question and collectively -- and relatively quickly -- bring to bear lots of individual knowledge and/or energy to the matter. Some open-source software projects work this way. The important thing is the parallel activity by large numbers of people, in service of something that would be difficult if not impossible for any one or small group of them to do alone, at least in a timely way."

Guardian election blog (and it looks pretty good)

[Keyword: ]. Well worth bookmarking for the next month, the Guardian's foray into the blogging world looks very good. Not least for its incorporation of a folksonomic zeitgeist (explained here) which draws on tags to show what the current talking points are.

At the time of writing these were sadly quite useless: Tony Blair, labour, Michael Howard and tories are the most used, followed by pope, conservatives, politics, and it's only after those that you see some more useful terms: howardflight, postalvoting, asylumandimmigration... Click on the term to see reports tagged with the phrase.

News sites must embrace blogs, says Guardian

[Keyword: ]. What everyone else already knows - but it takes a senior figure saying it to get people actually acting...

Guardian Unlimited's assistant editor Neil McIntosh is quoted in as saying two issues are particularly difficult for news sites to overcome when exploring the blog format.
First, the blogosphere is very hostile towards journalists and the mainstream media - as demonstrated by the Rathergate episode last year. US broadcaster CBS sacked four employees after bloggers helped to expose flaws in a story about President Bush's war record.

"Blogs are an editorial innovation, and it's important that we pursue them for that reason. But a blog launch isn't a blog launch without sarcastic comments saying they shouldn't be there."

Second, editors often approach blogs in the wrong way.

"They lean back in their chairs and ask: 'what can blogs do for me when I'm trying to build a brand that will last for 100 years?' Bloggers are undermining that business case," added Mr McIntosh.

"Being an innovator and pushing boundaries is the future," said Mr McIntosh.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wired News: Newsreaders

Wired provide a good overview of the different newsreaders you can download and the different tools that come with that. For instance, "You can look for new feeds in NewsGator by searching on a keyword. For example, I searched on "Portland" (since I just moved to Oregon) and added several feeds about the happenings in the City of Roses."

A trip back in time... to 2003 award winners

My Google Alert on the phrase "online journalism" threw up this result today: The NetMedia 2003 | EOJ Awards 2003 winners:
"Barcelona, 3 July: War and peace and corporate corruption and greed were the two stand-out story themes in the shortlists for the 2003 European Online Journalism awards, and eight of the winning entries featured one of these themes.
"For the second year running, journalists from BBC News Online have dominated the proceedings, winning eight of the 21 prizes on offer.
The most coveted prize, the Internet Journalist of the Year, went to Vincent Landon, science correspondent of Swiss Radio International for his contribution to 'The malaria business, a remarkable investigation of a largely neglected story – the devastating impact of malaria on the health of children in developing countries.
Best Overall Journalism Service went to, the news and current affairs portal for the Barcelona region.
Transitions Online, the Prague-based online news magazine which covers the post-communist region of Eastern and Central Europe, the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, won the Best Innovation in Online Journalism category.
The Best Use of Multimedia award went to two journalism students from the Danish School of Journalism, the first time student journalists have won any of the prizes.
Dr David Whitehouse, the BBC's science correspondent, winner of the Best News Story Broken on the Net category, has now won awards for four years running. The Outstanding contribution to online journalism in Europe award went to Mike Smartt, editor-in-chief of BBC News Interactive."

Blog with a click

This extention for Firefox allows you to select text from any site and post it to your blog. Blog software supported includes "Blogger, Drupal, LiveJournal, Movable Type, Radio Userland, TextPattern, TypePad, WordPress, journalspace, b2evolution and BLOG:CMS. Plus you can add any weblog type you want through the Custom... setting."

Strangely, it didn't work for me immediately with Blogger, and I'm not sure why it suddenly did work... I'll keep this updated, as I'm sure I won't be the only person to have this problem...

UPDATE: Okay, I think I've sorted it. To make it work, you have to do the following:
  1. select the text you want to blog.
  2. Right-click on that text and select JustBlogIt!
  3. On the window that appears type in the name of your blog (e.g. 'ojournalism'), and select the blog provider (e.g. 'Blogger'). Click OK.
  4. Now here's the crucial part. Right-click on the text again and select JustBlogIt! This time the window that appears should be the Blog This! one that you get on all Blogger blogs, allowing you to type in your posting in raw HTML (the selected text and URL will have already been inputted), and select which blog to publish to (top right corner). When you're done writing your posting, click 'Publish' in that top corner.
  5. NOTE: I did this while already logged on to Blogger in another window, so that may also be factor.