The Newsroom blog

8 posts from March 2014

28 March 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 11

Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 


Journalism matters: Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham of ITN; Christiane Amanpour from CNN, Mark Ferguson from Channel 7 (Australia) ; and Shiulie Ghosh of Al-Jazeera English participate in this 40-second video in support of the #FreeAJStaff campaign, protesting against EWgypt's placing in custody for the past three months of three Al Jazeera journalists for "spreading false news".

The LBC Leaders' Debate: It was fascinating to see the debate on immigration between the LibDems' Nick Clegg and UKIP's Nigel Farage, not for the topic but for how radio station LBC is pushing its brand. Recently launched as a national service, they broadcast the event live  on radio, with simulataneous video stream on the BBC News website, followed the moment it ended by the BBC News channel showing the debate with reaction afterwards. LBC's name was prominent, on the lecterns, the walls and in the name of the event itself. Look out for further LBC brand-building in the future, no doubt.

The Times 'moving towards profit' since paywall launch: Guess what, Times Newspapers has moved from a £72 million loss in 2009 to £6 million for trading year ending June 2013.

Will readers pay for journalists?: An interesting twist on the question of whether readers will pay for digital news content - American start-up news site The Beacon is asking its readers to sponsor a journalist for $75,000 for a year to report on the American prison system.

The problem with data journalism: The hot topic of the hour is data journalism. All well and good, says Allison Schrager at Quartz, but the problem with it is that it's not science. "Empirical researchers spend years learning how to apply statistics and countless hours dissecting data. And then even the most experienced, well-intentioned researcher might end up with biased results."

Facts are sacred: Meanwhile, this extract by Simon Rogers from his book Facts are Sacred, lists ten things that you should know about data journalism e.g. "It may be trendy but it's not new".

Before the "explanatory journalism" craze started to catch fire, there was Syria Deeply: The other, related journalism vogue is 'exploratory journalism'. Mathew Ingram at Gigaom tells the story of Lara Setrakian's topic-based site Syria Deeply to show how none of these ideas are new.

Reddit plans to offer embeds for breaking news discussions: Mashable reports that hugely popular 'notice board' site Reddit is planning to offer embeds for breaking news threads, something which could help news organisations tap into instant live blogs of newsworthy events. Could be big.

The week when Mick Jagger found the true cost of fame: Catherine Bennett at The Guardian muses on the papers' treatment of the L'Wren Scott suicide story, calls some of the coverage shameful (while repeating some of this) but says that it shouldn't be used as anrgument for curbs against the press.

London Live: The 24-hour entertainment TV channel for London, backed by The Evening Standard, goes live on March 31st, but its website is already active.

Checking out the NSB: This blog visits the British Library's vast Newspaper Storage Building at Boston Spa, and muses on robots, metadata, and what digital means.

As news reporters get measured by clicks, there are lessons to be learned from unlikely sources: Interesting piece from Poynter on page-view metrics and how the numbers can't determine what's journalistically important.

Trinity Mirror North East unveils plan for digital-first newsroom: The Newcastle and Teesside publisher's  new editorial structure, called Newsroom 3.1, will put digital first, print second, evidence of how newspapers are finding their audiences being drawn ever more to their websites. The Drum reports.

Twitter - hot damn!: Not everyone in the news world gets Twitter as yet. Jon Slattery tells them in detail why they should. "Not being on Twitter leaves print journalists as out of touch as the judge who asked: ‘Who are the Beatles?'".

Can Twitter hashtags work in print?: Talking of which, the Media Blog muses interestingly on how newspapers are introducing hashtags into print stories, and whether this has much of an impact at all.

24 March 2014

Checking out the NSB

The NSB, or Newspaper Storage Building, is the British Library's new home for newspapers. Situated at our second site in Boston Spa, Yorkshire, it is not where users will be able to read our print newspapers - that will be in the Newsroom at St Pancras, when they become available once more in Autumn 2014 - but it is where they are starting to be stored, in optimum preservation conditions.


The Newspaper Storage Building (NSB)

The urgent need for moving the newspaper collection from its former North London home in Colindale to the NSB is made clear in a recent blog post by Sandy Ryan of our Collection Care team.

In 2001, as part of a three-year project to survey all of the Library’s collections on all of its sites, we surveyed the newspaper collections at Colindale using the PAS (Preservation Needs Assessment Survey) methodology. The results showed that the newspaper collection is the most vulnerable of all of the Library’s collections and gave us a statistically sound picture of the state of this national collection. Our results showed that 34% of the collection at Colindale was unstable – 19.4% in poor condition, 14.6% unusable.

It simply wasn't possible for us to continue with a third of the collection in an unstable condition and nearly 15% of it actually unusable. So it was that, thanks to £33M of government funding, we embarked on our Newspaper Programme, which has seen the closing down of the Newspaper Library at Colindale, the building on the NSB with the ongoing transfer of the newspaper collection to the new facility, the planned digitisation of 40 million newspaper pages through the British Newspaper Archive, and the opening of the Newsroom at our St Pancras site next month.

I visited the NSB for the first time last week. It is, to be honest, a large black lump - a Vogon spaceship of a building, landed in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside. But what it lacks in beauty on the outside it more than gains in purpose on the inside. It is essential for the long-term preservation of the print newspapers that they be kept optimum temperature and humidity-controlled conditions, and in the dark. Inside the NSB the temperature is being maintained at 14⁰C,  with relative humidity at 55%, and the oxygen level 14-15%, eliminating any risk of fire. So it is great for newspapers, but not so great for humans. Instead the process of ingest, shelving and retrievable is all undertaken by fully-automated machinery - appropriately robotic for a spaceship.


Looking up from the inside of the NSB as one of the cranes descends, from BBC News

Disappointingly it means that visitors can't see inside the main storage area (there is no viewing gallery), but you can see what it looks like from this recent BBC News video, which also shows the conditions at Colindale - the contrast is dramatic. A push of a button from St Pancras will send a message to the Boston Spa robots to select the requested newspaper volume from its rack, carry it to the outside, and have it delivered to St Pancras within 48 hours.

Such a process requires more than robots - it requires minute attention to data. Every volume in the collection has been marked with a barcode, with these records matched to the appropriate catalogue record. This would have been a time-consuming but otherwise straightforward process were there a simple one-to-one relationship between catalogue and object, but sadly that is not the case. Many of the newspaper titles have been bound alongside other titles, and newspapers in case are full of cataloguing complexities because they have a tendency to change their titles or frequency of publication. This has meant a huge job of matching complex records to the complixities of how the newspapers have been bound or boxed, in a form that makes sense to an electronic catalogue and ordering system.


Stacks of newspaper volumes ready for ingest into the NSB

You can see the results of this in operation at the one part of the NSB that it open to visitors, the ingest area i.e. where the newspapers are delivered into the NSB. Each shrink-wrapped newspaper volume has its barcode, which is checked against the NSB's management system. Each pile of newspaper volumes, as shown in the photograph above, is also barcoded, because the stack of volumes then has to find its place within the NSB. Each stack - which is a maximum 400mm high - has a top and bottom board with straps tightly-secured about them (a task performed by actual humans). Only when every volume that should be there has been checked to form a complete stack, and the barcode for stack itself swiped and checked, can the complete set be whisked away on a conveyor belt, through an air lock, and off to its alloted rack within the darkened vastiness of the NSB.


Another delivery arrives from Colindale

All of this is currently going through a testing process, as we try to anticipate all of the different kinds of order enquries that will be made, how they are identified, retrieved and delivered, while making sure that nothing gets lost or damaged along the way. Meanwhile the newspapers are now being delivered from Colindale to the NSB, a few lorries-worth at a time so far, but soon to be three lorries per day, every day, up to Autumn 2014 when every newspaper volume (c.280,000 of them) will be in place and the full print newspaper delivery service can be put into action.

The Newsroom opens on 7 April, when there will be no print newspapers available to begin with. The service we'll be providing between then and Autumn 2014 will be microfilm and digital copies only. As a third of the collection is accessible in microfilm form, we will be able to satisfy a great many research enquiries as things are, and in an ideal operational world we would want to deliver 100% microfilm and digital access, and never have to move the newspapers again. The NSB has been designed for their long-term preservation, so that our news heritage is safe for many generations to come.

The NSB has excited a lot of interest for its automated storage systems, but what intrigues me from the curatorial point of view is that relationship between the object and its description. Our analogue heritage fits clumsily into the digital age. We have bound newspapers into volumes for the convenience of storing them on shelves, but what was convenient for finding newspapers by humans able to walk up and down those shelves is not so convenient when we need to understand newspapers as they were issued, which is by issue.

Our newspaper catalogue is at title-level; that is, we can tell you that we have The Times, and that for any particular date or time period for that newspaper we can direct you to the relevant volume. We can't point you directly to that individual instance of a newspaper, unless you use the British Newspaper Archive, where that 1% of our collection that has been digitised is discoverable by article, page, issue or title. That's what digital should give you - logical disaggregation of the object into an intelligent, reuseable, interoperable artefact. Newspapers can then be linked up with other newspapers, indeed other news forms such as television, radio, web or anything with a date to it.

We have more thinking to do about how best to make our newspapers available, and why.

21 March 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 10

Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 


Why do we expect so much from Nate Silver?: American data guru Nate Silver (he of the book The Signal and the Noise) launched a new data journalism site, FiveThirtyEight (backed by ESPN), which has been much discussed in the American media. Benjamin Wallace-Wells at New York Magazine profiles the man. Mathew Ingram at Gigaom wondered if there was a broad enough market out there for numbers journalism. John McDermott at DigiDay takes a look at reaons behind the rise in data-driven, exploratory journalism, as does Roger Yu at USA Today. And Ben Thompson at stratechry ponders Silver's success in 'FiveThirtyEight and the end of average', looking at the bell curve of news consumption, and concluding with this startling line: "the challenge of our time is figuring out what to do with a population distribution that is fundamentally misaligned with Internet economics."

Gawking at a foreign disaster: The disapperance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has gripped the world, over and above the crisis in Crimea, but Nicholas Quah at Salon finds that the coverage (chiefly American)  too often has painted "an offensive picture of an ill-understood country".

How journalism is facing its own battle in Ukraine: With the Russian television channels spouting the Kremlin line, many in the Ukraine are turning to social media for their news, reports Alastair Reid at

Could robots be the journalists of the future?: The Guardian's Generation Y week tielded some interesting pieces on the (possible) futures of news and journalism. GUARBOT, using an algorithm to extract relevant data relating to quinoa, would seem to need some work before it replaces a living journalist, to judge by these results:

The crime-ridden family of quinoa has taken US by storm this month. According to Peru, New York has confirmed that quinoa is more story than anything else they've ever seen. Quotes from top Yotam Ottolenghi eaters suggest that "crop" is currently clear top, possibly more than ground black pepper. Experts say both Salt and University need to traditionally grow to strengthen a common solution. Finally, it is worth slightly rattling that this article was peeled until it made sense.

In five years' time, all news articles will be a single coloured icon that fires out info-nuggets: Inevitably, Charlie Brooker's contribution to Generation Y was a caustic look at our news futures which is all too plausible to be that funny. Surely someone has already produced 'The Ten Gravest Crimean Developments You Simply Won't Believe'?

#newsHACK II: the 2014 News Industry Innovation Event: The BBC has announced a #newsHACK 2014 competition for news organisation and academic institutions from across the British Isles tto prototype news experiences and journalism tools of the future.

Reading all about it: Here at the Newsroom blog we took a look at three recent books on news production past and present: Andrew Pettegree's The Invention of News, Alain de Botton's The News: A User's Manual, and George Brock's Out of Print. They all connect, somehow.

Survey of nearly a thousand web pages looks at interactive features for news: Interesting results from the Engaging News Project at the University of Texas, looking at how polls and various share buttons are being treated by newsroom developers.

Newspaper paywalls spring up, but not much is concrete: Subscription? Metered access? Free? Peter Preston thinks that is remains very unclear what business model for newspapers online will actually work.

Why venture capitalists are suddenly investing in news: Adrienne La France at Quartz investigates why the money is flowing into online media ventures like Buzzfeed, Vox Media and Upworthy.

Newspaper ill-advised to let police post their own online story: Roy Greenslade is worried about the implications of Torquay Herald Express,  letting Tobay police post a story on its website.

How the Daily Mail escaped censure for its false immigration story: Roy Greenslade again, this time on how the Press Complaints Commission has dealt with some of the more tendentious reports about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants published at the end of 2013.

World editors hit out at UK over press freedom: The World Association of Newspapers and News Publisher (WAN-IFRA), which has been visiting the UK, is concerned over the UK's plans for a state-sponsored news regulator with Royal Charter, Hold the Front Page reports.

Washington Post to offer free digital access to other papers's subscribers: An intriguing twist on the previaling business models for online news, reported on by Press Gazette.

"I feel sorry for dogs. They learnt to fetch newspapers, but newspapers are dying. Killed by an internet driven by cats." News tweet of the week from @BinaryBad.

19 March 2014

Reading all about it

There are many books on news and current affairs, but most are aimed at an academic or professional audiences. There has been a notable lack in the past few years of books aimed at a general readership on news and news history. Recently, however, three significant titles have appeared which each touch on the fundamental role news plays in society. Each is highly readable, and each is a reflection of the current turmoil in news production worldwide.

Inventionofnews Andrew Pettegree's The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself (Yale University Press, 2014) is a history of how the thirst for news developed and was commercialised from 1400 to 1800. It shows how in the pre-industrial era news was shared orally, then through handwritten texts delivered by messengers in the service of church, state or business, then how it was radically transformed in its audience, content and impact through the introduction of print, starting with news-sheets before gradually evolving into the newspaper form that remains with us today.

What is paticularly refreshing about this history is its focus on those for whom the news was produced. News histories have a tendency to take the consumers of that news for granted. Here there is a vivid understanding of who wanted news, the ways in which they were prepared to pay for it, the degree of trust they placed in it, and how their world was changed by exposure to news. The background to this is clearly laid out, so one sees a modern Europe emerging, bound together by networks of information and with a public that gained greater power the more it became informed of the world about it. News is both a by-product of, and the catalyst for profound changes in society. 

All of this gives Pettegree's history a real relevance to news and communication today. News exists because of our great desire to belong. The communication revolution of 1400 to 1800 feels very much like the communication revolution we are going through today, not least because we can recognise ourselves in those times. It is a particularly enjoyable and well-written history.

ThenewsAlain de Botton's The News: A User's Manual (Hamish Hamilton, 2014) is the popular philosopher's attempt to question why we have the news that we do have, and what impact it has upon society. It is quite unlike the usual books on news or current affairs, in its elegant design quite as in its approach. De Botton's critique of news as presently constituted, and how it fails to find space for consideration of underlying causes or a more positive view of human activity, has been greeted with much scorn among news professionals and academics, not least for this lyrical call for a different definition of news:

"It is also the cloud floating right now unattended over the church spire, the gentle thought in the doctor's mind as he approaches the patient's bare arm with a needle, the field mice by the hedgerow,  the small child tapping on the surface of a newly hard-boiled egg while her mother looks on lovingly, the nuclear submarine patrolling the maritime borders with efficiency and courage..."

De Botton's call for a different kind of news is likely to find greater favour among some readers and viewers of news who are repelled, distressed or even simply bored by the common round of news stories. In doing so he may be tapping into a reluctance to engage with the news that has more to do with world-weariness and angst, a wish that the world were other than it is. He wants a form of news that will help make us better people, which is a dubious  - not to say improbable - goal. His understanding of news itself is unclear, sometimes seeming to be triggered by newspaper headlines, sometimes by TV news highlights, sometimes by web news sites, but with criticisms directed hapazardly at all three. Many news services are very good at providing the background context that he craves, and the diversity of news stories that he would like to see already exists: it just requires an active engagement with the different news sources available. But if news services end up serving themselves more than they serve their audiences, then there is a case to be answered. 

OutofprintOur third title, George Brock's Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age (Kogan Page, 2013) is written by a former journalist turned journalism professor, but it is written in a very accessible way that should appeal equally to a public readership as to the student. It certainly touches on themes that are relevant to all of us. This is a guidebook for the world of news as we now have it, and for what it may be turning into.

As all will be aware, newspapers face an uncertain future, as the internet and digital technologies have completely overturned how news is distributed and consumed. This demands a complete rethink on what journalism is, what value it holds, and how it can be maintained. Brock provides a handy historical summary of news production in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present day, then introduces the reader to a clear and stimulating overview of the new world of social media, citizen journalism, news aggregators, pay walls, and information overload.

We have no inalienable right to good journalism. As Brock observes, in his introduction: "Journalists in the 21st century rarely stop to recall that 'mainstream' journalism has only been a short period in the history of public information. The supply of information to democratic societies only matured as a mass-market industry in the 20th century, allowing journalism to be practiced and controlled in more concentrated and organized ways. Journalism of an earlier era was smaller scale, more intimate, opinionated and much of it resembled the social networks now carried out by the internet."

Is news production as we have understood it, as something composed by journalists and transmitted by news organisations, only a phase in how public information is communicated? What connection is there between the world of the Internet and the social networks of earlier centuries that Andrew Pettegree describes? Do news organisations ignore the troubled thoughts about engagement with the news as we now have it that Alain de Botton identifies, or have they discovered the key to their future in socially-driven news aimed at young audiences, as exemplified by such vogue-ish services as Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Now this News and Reddit? If the latter, then who generates the news that gets shared, and if we want journalists to do so, then who will pay for them if the advertising revenues fall and too many expect to find their news for free?

The answers - whatever they may be - lie in best understanding our enduring "hunger for information" (in Andrew Pettegree's phrase), something that all three books address in different, but complementary ways. There is no more important debate than the one we are now having about news. It is what binds us together.




14 March 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 9

Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 

  Newsroom_issue desk

The Newsroom: Well of course we have to start with our own big news, which is that the Newsroom - the British Library's news reading room for news - opens at St Pancras on Monday 7 April. Is this first library space ever to be named after a blog...?

Named Entity Recognition for newspapers: Not the most exciting title for a blog post, but something worth reading closely by anyone interested in the future of digitised newspaper research. Europeana Newspapers explains how key terms can be extracted from newspaper text to enhance search and improve linkage of data.

News Archive Connected Studio: Build Studio: Keep an eye on what Peter Rippon and his team at the BBC are doing in planning how to open up their news archives. Much audience testing is coming first.

Why Twitter will never be a news organization: An interesting interview in Time with Twitter's Head of News, Vivian Schiller. "The Twitter news team is never going to pick and choose news stories, pick and choose winners. That’s not our job at all. But what we need to do is ... to make it easier for news organizations but also for our consumers to find what they’re looking for."

Why Twitter can't keep crashing: Mat Honan at Wired says that Twitter has become too important to how the world gains its news to have the crashes that it not infrequently does have. "It is the definition of breaking news. Twitter is increasingly the key place where information is born – stuff that maybe starts with one person but is important to the whole world."

Strictly algorithm: Really interesting article by Stuart Dredge at The Guardian on how the news we wants find us - through algorithms - and what this means for news, journalism and democracy.

Thomas Jewell Bennett: an early supporter of Indian Home Rule: Pat Farrington writes for the British Library's Untold Lives blog on her great-uncle, editor of the Times of India, some of whose letters are held here.

Russia’s information warriors are on the march – we must respond: Anne Applebaum at the Telegraph sets out to sort out the truth from lies in the Russian media's reporting of the crisis in Ukraine.


Ah, sweet irony: For afficianados of errors in TV subtitles, much joy was brought about by this misinterpretation of Matt Frei talking about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Channel 4 News.

BBC values: The BBC Academy interviews James Harding, director of BBC News, about values and maintaining audience trust.

Endangered species: At British Journalism Review Kim Fletcher argues that traditional newspaper editors are on their way out; content officers are on their way in.

Fleet Street editors of the past were little different from those of today: Talking of which, Roy Greenslade reviews Dennis Griffiths' Blum & Taff: A tale of two editors, on R.D. Blumenfeld and H.A. Gwynne, Fleet Street greats from another age.

Why venture capitalists are suddenly investing in news: Adrienne LaFrance at Quartz looks at why the investment money is pouring into the new kids on the news block: Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Vice etc. As one interviewee puts it: "“They are all technology companies first ... They understand how people utilize technology and how to present and create content."

Journalism startups aren't a revolution if they're filled with all these white men: Emily Bell looks at the somewhat familiar make-up of some supposedly cutting edge news start-ups.

Robot reporters and the age of drone journalism: And finally, look out for Emily Bell's lecture on how new technogies are driving the future of journalism, at the British Library on 25 April.

11 March 2014

Robot reporters and the age of drone journalism

We are delighted to be playing host to Emily Bell, Professor of Professional Practice & Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Columbia and previously director of digital content for Guardian News and Media. She is delivering our second WT Stead lecture on 25 April, entitled 'Robot reporter: Journalism in the Age of Automation and Big Data'.


Emily Bell

Digital technologies are transforming the ways in which news is gathered, processed and consumed. This is not just a question of how the news is reported, but what we understand news to be. The robot reporter is not a theoretical concept - it is a rapidly approaching reality. Emily Bell describes the subject of her lecture in this way:

The world of information is changing and journalism is buffeted by the disruption. Our stories are told now through vast network protocols and social networks by hundreds of people. The 'first draft of history' is now on a spreadsheet in the cloud rather than a notebook on a reporter's desk. In the newsroom we are on the brink of an explosion of drones, sensor technologies and wearable computing, turning our world into one where every event can be captured, intentionally or by stealth. When everything can be surveilled, what do we report? We are now in the age of drone journalism, but with technology running ahead of legality and ethics, how can journalism use the technology responsibly?

Emily Bell is herself one of the leading figures in digital journalism. During her time at The Guardian it won the Webby Award for a newspaper website in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, and British Press Awards for Website of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009. At the Tow Center for Digital Journalism she works at an institute dedicated to providing journalists with the skills and knowledge to lead the future of digital journalism and serves as a research and development center for the profession as a whole.

This is the second WT Stead lecture to be held at the British Library, and takes place in the same month as we are opening our new reading room for news, the Newsroom. The WT Stead lectures are named after the pioneering Victorian newspaper man William Thomas Stead, who did so much to transform the nature of journalism in his time. The first lecture was delivered by James Harding, Director of BBC News, in January 2014 and was widely reported and much discussed (you can find his script here and a podcast of the lecture here). Emily Bell's lecture is likely to have a similar impact, and we encourage anyone with an interest in where news in going to join us.

Details of the event and how to book are on the British Library's Events page.

The third and final WT Stead lecture will be in November 2014.

07 March 2014

The Newsroom

The Newsroom - it's a good name. It's a place where any kind of news gets made, be it print, broadcast or web. It's at the heart of information.  It's a point from which we can look out and see the world for what it is. A newsroom is where we plan to understand things.


Visualisation of the Newsroom

At any rate, it's the name of the British Library's new reading room for news, which we can now announce will be opening on 7 April 2014. It was back in November 2013 that the Newspaper Library at Colindale closed, since when we have been working on preparing and then sending the newspapers to the new Newspaper Storage Building in Boston Spa, Yorkshire (the first newspaper start being shipped there in March). Meanwhile, we have been preparing the new reading room for news at St Pancras. If you know the building, then it's on the second floor, above the Business & IP Centre. 

The Newsroom will be divided into two parts. Users familiar with the Colindale service will notice many changes - all for the better, we hope. There will longer opening hours, 40 state-of-the-art digital microfilm readers, and a much wider range of microfilmed titles available on open access. This will include the 15 most highly-requested national titles – including The TimesThe GuardianThe Independent, the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times - whereas in Colindale we only offered The Times on open access. There will be access to extensive digitised and multimedia collections, including the Broadcast News service with its recordings from 22 television and radio news channels, and the BBC catalogue with TV and radio programmes from 2007, which will move from a pilot service to a regular service.

The second, smaller part of the Newsroom will be at the front, an informal area for networking, testing out digital resources, and viewing news content as it is produced. We want the Newsroom to be about news today as much as news yesterday, and to draw out the connections between the two.


Design for part of the Newsroom, showing the issue desk with networking area beyond

Before the room opens, we've been making significant service changes. On 17 February the periodicals formerly held at Colindale - and put on embargo in June of last year - became available once more. The majority of these periodicals, some 24,000 titles, have been moved to Boston Spa and will be available to order into any St Pancras Reading Room within 48 hours. A small number of high-use periodicals are being stored at St Pancras and will be available to order into any St Pancras Reading Room (not just the Newsroom) within 70 minutes. 

These can be ordered online in advance via, where there have also been changes. There is no longer a separate Newspaper Library tab for searching, instead newspapers have been fully integrated into search (though you can still search on newspapers alone by using the Advanced Search option). There is improved information about newspapers titles and volumes that we hold, and links to digital versions where they exist on the British Newspaper Archive site.

Users can track the progress of their requests via My Reading Room Requests. Records for microfilm and print newspapers that are currently being moved are also now visible. The print newspapers themselves won't be available in April, however. It's going to take until the autumn until they are all stored at Boston Spa and the service ready to go. Then they will be delivered to St Pancras within 48 hours, but if there is an access copy - i.e. a copy on microfilm or in digital form - then that's what we will provide for you, rather than the print copy. Around a third of the collection of some 60 million newspaper issues is accessible through microfilm access copies, so most research enquiries are likely to be answered by the microfilm in any case, and they will all be onsite at St Pancras.

And there's more, because there is also work underway to improve facilities for users at Boston Spa. When completed (in the next few weeks), the reading room there will provide access to print newspaper and digital copies where available, but not the microfilms. Meanwhile, access to the Boston Spa collection is being maintained via a temporary Reading Room nearby in the same building.

There's more information on the opening and our news services on the British Library newspaper moves pages including our March 2014 Collection Moves Bulletin (PDF).

We've not been idle. We hope to continue to be useful.


St Pancras Intelligencer no. 8

Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 


There's a long way to go, but the first lorry taking newspapers from Colindale, north London, to the British Library's Newspaper Storage Building, set off on March 4th. It'll take three such lorries every day for the next six months to move the entire collection to its new home.

7.5 million newspaper pages now online: Another milestone for British Library newspapers as the British Newspaper Archive reached 7.5 million pages available online (our target is 40 million).

Paparazzi! How an unloved profession has shaped us: Elizabeth Day at The Observer reports on a Paris exhibition dedicated to that most unloved (yet eagerly consumed)  part of news and magazine publishing, the paparazzi photographer.

Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement: Talking of photographs, here are 35 million of them, made available by Getty for  non-commercial usage by any one (the embedded images come with copyright information and link back to Getty). The British Journal of Photography explains why Getty is doing it. Doesn't work for Typepad though...

Reddit is having the same trouble as traditional media - defining what news is: Interesting piece from Mathew Ingram on how the use of moderators by Reddit is "no worse - and in some ways better - than that of a newspaper editor". The issue arose over a Glenn Greenwald piece entitled "How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations", which Reddit decided didn't qualify as news.

Reddit embraces its role as a journalistic entity with new live-reporting feature: And more on Reddit from the same source, as it makes steps towards encouraging 'open source journalism' by allows users to create and update live blogs about breaking news events.

Can Greenwald's digital magazine Intercept help to reinvent journalism? Meanwhile, talking of Glenn Greenwald, here's Ben Cardew at The Guardian on First Look Media and its digital magazine The Intercept, aiming to reinvent journalism for the digital age, with Greenwald signed up as a contributor.

Russian propaganda and Ukrainian rumour fuel anger and hate in Crimea: Shaun Walker at The Guardian shows how the Russian's media's version of events in the Ukraine is fuelling hatreds. Meanwhile, not one but two American journalists working for the American version of Russia Today (now known as RT) have declared their opposition to reporting the Kremlin line, one of them resigning on air.

Propaganda, or the other side of the story?: But there is always the other side of things. Jay Pinho at The First Casualty looks at the sullied background of some of those who have been gleefully reporting the RT resignations.

Susanna Reid quits BBC for ITV as Daybreak is axed: A nation reels.

Newsweek makes its print return this week in the US and, soon, in Europe: When the US journal Newsweek went digital only, it was seen as a harbinger of doom for print journalism. Now it's is coming back in print, what are we to think about the future for digital age journalism?

Washington Post expands fact-checking project — and not just to movie trailers: Truth Teller is a Washington Post fact-checking platform in which ahows videos of speeches by politicians and the like, then runs text commentary underneath saying whether their assertions are true or not.

Business as usual on Page 3 as critics round on The Sun's breast cancer campaign: The Sun's Page 3 v Breast Cancer campaign does not impress the campaign site No More Page 3: "[W]e can’t help but feel that it’s a real shame the Sun has decided to use these sexualised images of young women to highlight breast cancer. They will say that they want to use the power of page 3 as a force for good – we say that a society in which sexualised images of young women are seen as that powerful has to change."

161 years a mistake: The New York Times solemnly referenced an article from 20 January 1853 in its Corrections column, noting that the name of Solomon Northup (subject of the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave) had been misspelt twice.