Monday, January 18, 2010...8:30 am

News:rewired – your handy guide

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Session 2: 14:00 – 15:30

Local digital media

Looking at local news online developments at national, regional and one-man level.

Panel: Philip John of the Lichfield Blog; Times web development editor (business) Joanne Geary, and Sarah Hartley of Guardian Local.

News:rewired has a brief summary of the session here.

Like the Crowdsourcing session, this was apparently marred by the whole how-dare-ordinary-people-be-considered-as-journalists meme. Panellist Andy Dickinson gets het up about this here and offers some views on hyperlocal.

Heather Christie has a Qik video clip of Joanne Geary speaking on the motivations and ethics of citizen journalism.

Sarah Hartley from Guardian Local spoke about how blogging has moved from its tech niche to meet the needs of local communities.

Philip John claimed local, community-focused blogs can fill the void in local reporting.

Key link: Josh Halliday’s hyperlocal SR2 blog for a Sunderland postcode area.

What the bloggers say:

Crowdsourcing

Exploring ways of generating journalism using the crowd.

Panel: Andy Heath, commissioning editor of Demotix; Ruth Barnett, multimedia producer, Sky News (formerly Sky News’s “Twitter correspondent”).

Key message: Go to where people talk and eavesdrop.

Perhaps inevitably, this session got hijacked by the audience, who kept arguing about the legitimacy of “unprofessional” (ie not done by them) journalism. Adam Tinworth has a good account here and David Higgerson explores the citizen journalism debate on his blog.  Emily Fraser Voigt has a thoughtful perspective on the problems of definitions here [UPDATE: now deleted]:

Freelancers are generally considered professionals. But why? How does a newspaper tell the difference between a freelancer and a citizen journalist?

Apparently Solent University delegates walked out in anger at the idea that ordinary citizens could be called journalists under any circumstances. Jeez, guys – get over yourselves.

Favourite moment: In response to a sniffy comment that an ordinary person taking a photo of an event is a “witness” rather than a “photographer”, Andy Heath replied:

“He’s a person with a camera. So he’s a photographer.”

What the bloggers said:

  • Kate Day has an excellent, cooking-themed riposte to those who argue that “citizens” or amateurs cannot be journalists – based around cooking.
  • Freelance Unbound has written up a few key points here.
  • Emily Fraser Voight has a nice account of the crowdsourcing session, with a focus on the pay debate [UPDATE: “had” – she’s deleted her blog]
  • Martin Belam is very good on the citizen journalism debate with some excellent and useful links in one post, and explores this further in a post on the role of the amateur historian.

Data-mashing

Examining new ways of producing journalism using sets of data.

Panel: Tony Hirst, data expert and lecturer, Open University; Francis Irving, senior developer, MySociety.org.

Widely reported as being the most “difficult” of the news:rewired panels, given its technical content (oh, journalists – what are you like?) the OU’s Tony Hirst gave this presentation about data mashing. The News:Rewired web link is here, which also features links to some of the tools he mentions.

Tony Hirst also has two very interesting links to data mashing solutions using custom Google search.

And here’s a fascinating looking – though quite technical – guide to Using Google Spreadsheets Like a Database – The QUERY Formula.

What the bloggers said:

Presentation: 15:45 – 16:00

David Dunkley Gyimah, award-winning videojournalist and Southbank artist-in-residence gave a brief account of videojournalism and its relationship with conventional packaged news. He offered tips to would-be VJs and a brief guide to equipment and techniques. Sadly, the stream of delegates arriving late to the theatre was a bit of a distraction.

His video of poet John Hegley illustrates some of his ideas on a fresh approach to video reporting.

Session 3: 16:00 – 17:30

New journalism, new business models: how can journalism support itself online?

Panel: James Fryer, deputy editor SoGlos; Caroline Kean, partner at media law firm, Wiggin; Greg Hadfield, head of digital media at Telegraph.co.uk and online entrepreneur; Ben Heald, CEO, Sift Media.

The News:Rewired site covers the session here, and has the video:

Big news: Telegraph Media Group’s head of digital media Greg (“my son created SoccerNet“) Hadfield announces he is to quit the paper for digital design agency Cogapp (and justifies the decision in the Boo audio clip above). The flurry of news coverage includes PaidContent, Jon Slattery, Laura Oliver and Roy Greenslade in the Guardian.

Hadfield blogs this himself in the Guardian here.

Hadfield wins plaudits for saying all good journalism is investigative. Only three things people will only pay for online – betting, share speculation and porn. You can no longer be a good journalist without being an entrepreneur.

James Fryer of Gloucestershire “Time Out” site SoGlos outlined the five dos and don’ts of starting up online.

He said this decade will see a resurgence of quality journalism online. It plans a franchise model for local journos to set up similar sites. Adam Tinworth liveblogs it here.

Key learning: Always do a deal for cash rather than contra advertising deals. Quality editorial is key to success – keep advertising and editorial separate. SoGlos.com charges £40-£1,200pm for ads.

SoGlos is “in profit” and has seven staff – full-time and freelance; journalists and developers.

Caroline Kean of Wiggin: Watermarking images, or planting seeds (fiction) can help track down copyright infringement. Length is irrelevant in plagiarism. Think of the main part of an article online like the hook in a pop song. If you nick it it’s plagiarism, no matter how small.

Ben Heald of Sift Media said Sift had about a £3 million turnover this year and roughly “broke even”. (In another interview, he has said Sift made about £500,000 this year). He votes no to online paywalls, and stresses the importance of a presence on Google News to keep traffic up.

Online editorial strategy: Write to engage rather than write to inform. Start a conversation – don’t aim to have the last word.

Sift employs about 110 people, with editorial staff earning between £15,000 and £40,000 a year.

What the bloggers said:

Epilogue

It doesn’t end there. Reputation Online picked up on the Twitter debate about unpaid content to ask what drives people to create content for free in a poll on the site.

And if you really want to see what it all looked like, Josh Halliday’s Flickr set of the event is here. AlexGamela also has a Flickr set from the day here.


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