The Newsroom blog

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.


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