Friday, November 24, 2006

Sarah's Several Skills

As I have indicated before I have a soft spot for local newspapers. I am also aware that they can be a very difficult place to work.

And so I was very impressed that not only did Sarah Radford, yesterday's visiting lecturer, produce a website for the not-exactly exciting area of Newbury, but she managed to get out daily video bulletins.

Having worked on local papers in a comparatively 'newsy' area of the world, the Medway Towns in Kent, I am amazed that the Newbury Weekly News had the resources or material to do what it did.

And yet this is probably where most local newspapers will be headed in the near future if they are to survive.

It's an exciting prospect, but at the same time it could be quite frightening. Sarah mentioned that time contraints often resulted in her producing products she wasn't happy with. And this is what COULD happen more and more often if 'multiskilling' is taken to mean having fewer and fewer journalists

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Daniel Meadows

Without any doubt, Daniel Meadows presentation was well-prepared and entertaining. However, it did sometimes tend to sensationalise.

His 'Capture Wales' project is a nice idea and produces some interesting films by people with real stories to tell. But Daniel built the idea up as being some sort of earth-shattering new idea which was going to rock the whole media world.

More user involvement in the media will become increasingly important, and the changes in attitude towards it in the main media organisations show this. But, the mass of diagrams and complicated explanations for it made the whole thing seem overstated.

The central point, I suppose, was that we as journalists cannot any longer be as arrogant as to assume we are talking TO people, and this is a valid and important observation. But, I think that could have been put a bit simpler, if only to allow for my more limited intellect!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feature Idea

I have a soft spot for local newspapers.

Having worked for a couple for a short while and having familty working in them, I think they're a really important part of local communities.

That's why I want to look into how local newspapers are dealing with the challenge of the internet and declining circulations. Sarah Radford spoke to us about her newspaper, the Newbury Weekly News, and it's website which has just won the Weekly Newspaper Website of the year.

I want to look at the challenges of being multi-media skilled, and how local newspapers are adapting. To do this I aim to speak to someone involved with Kent Online, the website of the Kent Messenger Group, which has been at the forefront of the online 'revolution' in newspapers and someone from its rival paper, the Medway News which has no real online content.

I want to look at some examples of different ways of doing things and get an insight into the future of the genre.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pete, Photos and Payments *

During his talk today, Pete Clifton, the Head of BBC News Interactive stated that the corporation had, from time to time, always paid for photos.

However, that differs from the announcement on the Media Guardian website that the BBC will allow its staff to pay for photos that 'are particularly editorially important or unique'. Only three weeks ago, Pete had ruled out the possibility that photos would be bought from users at all when he said

"We don't expect to pay for it [UGC] and I don't recall anyone asking for that."

So, it appears that the BBC are not entirely consistent in their approach to user-generated content. They have, to an extent, been forced into this by the decisions of other media outlets to pay for items provided by viewers that are used on air.

Having said all that, Pete Clifton was very impressive. The BBC news website is the most impressive in Europe and probably the world. What was really interesting was that Pete was always criticising the BBC's current output and suggesting ways he might go about improve it .

The use of interactive features such as the one indicated on the left here, open BBC journalists' work up to the people who use the BBC and starts what can be a really interesting dialogue.

The BBC remains the market leader in interactive news, and its fortunes will almost certainly dictate the fortunes of the Beeb as a whole.

This is why Pete Clifton's job is so important.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Burton and Blogging

Richard Burton's lecture was by far the best of any we have received so far this year. And it will probably be the best of any we will have in the future.

Richard was the head of the Telegraph's website until he left the paper in the midst of a turbulent round of job cuts a couple of months ago. He made the website probably the best of its kind and is rightly revered by those working in 'new media'.

The thing which most struck me about the lecture was that it was a lecture about journalism and not one about technology and cyberspeak. Richard highlighted my major problem with the idea of blogging- that your views are only interesting if you have an insight into something. I don't think that having to do blogs and posting on them several times a day is likely to give an insight into anything very much.

He stressed the importance of traditional journalistic values which appealed to me a great deal. Being the third generation of my family to work in the trade I have always been aware of certain core journalistic skills like knowing how to interview, reporting accurately and writing succinctly and it is nice to know that they have not been forgotten in this brave new world.