THE BRITISH LIBRARY

The Newsroom blog

4 posts from September 2014

26 September 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 35

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.

Pizzaexpress

Restaurant review: My first reaction was ‘wow’: The most heartening news story of the week has been the unpretentious review by student Holly Aston of her local Pizza Express for the Peterborough Telegraph. It rapidly went viral, not because people were laughing at it but because they recognised its charm. She has now been offered work experience by the Daily Mirror.

News from the community: The Newsroom blog looks at hyperlocal news websites, seeing parallels in their short history with the history of early newspapers, and announces plans for archiving them by the British Library.

Journalists are becoming propaganda – and we must do more to protect them: In the wake of British photojournalist John Cantlie appearing in an Islamic State video and the attacks on BBC staff in Russia, Hannah Storm considers the current dangers faced by journalists worldwide.

Comic, Curious and Quirky: The British Library has just published Comic, Curious and Quirky News Stories from Centuries Past, by Rona Levin, a collection of bizarre and humorous stories taken from British newspapers from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Tool called Dataminr hunts for news in the din of Twitter: The New York Times looks at Dataminr, which analyses Twitter postings for patterns that indicate breaking news stories.

Trove Traces: Trove Traces brings together some of the thousands of webpages that include links to articles in the National Library of Australia's Trove database (including its newspaper archive). A marvellous way of showing how a digital resource gives birth to so much scholarship and sharing of information.

News for the Minecraft generation: American media company Gannett, in partnership with the Des Moines Register, is experimenting with turning news stories into virtual reality experiences, using the Oculus Rift headset. First up is a tour of an Iowa farm rather than anything too contentiously dramatic or controversial.

Why do the best jobs go to men?: Eleanor Mills at British Journalism Review calls for greater opportunities to be given to women in newspapers (the last woman to edit a daily broadsheet was Rosie Boycott at The Independent from January to April 1998).

How wearables are already delivering the news: Journalism.co.uk on how media outlets are experimenting with wearable devies such as Samsung Gear S, Google Glass and smart watches.

Can Longform.org become a Netflix for journalism?: Chris Dannen at Fast Labs looks at the increasingly popular Longform website and app which curates non-fiction articles from across the Web.

Trinity Mirror agrees to pay compensation to ten people over phone-hacking at national titles: It never was going to be just the News of the World...

'F*** it, I quit': Charlo Greene, a reporter for Anchorage's KTVA, dramatically quit live on air (to the delight of the online world) following an item on marijuana saying that she was leaving to focus on marijuana legalisation in Alaska. She explains why to Huffington Post (which has the clip).

24 September 2014

News from the community

Over the past few years a quiet revolution has been taking place in the production of news in the UK. The people are making the news for themselves. Inspired by blogging platforms, forums, Facebook and other social media, and the rise in mobile devices, but all the more by an urge to report on local issues that matter to them, people have been producing news-based online services - occasionally in print form as well - that operate on a local level. They have been given the name hyperlocal media, and there are hundreds of them out there. Many are reading them, some academics are studying them, and here at the British Library we want to archive them.

Porttalbotmagnet

Port Talbot Magnet, http://www.lnpt.org

The term 'hyperlocal' comes from the USA and in general means local news and information sources online which are not produced by traditional media owners, but are instead created by communities themselves. As a phenomenon in the UK it seems to date back to 2007, though with some roots stretching back further than that. Just how many hyperlocal sites are out there in the UK no one knows. In 2012 the Openly Local site attempted to list them all and found 700 of them, but the data has not been updated for some while now, and without a system of registration it is hard to see how it would be possible ever to document them all with any certainty.

Part of the challenge lies in definition - some of the sites cover villages or corners of one town, others stretch over a whole city. Some are news sites, some information or arts and culture sites. Some are simply message forums; others look just like online newspapers from traditional media owners. Here is a selection of titles to demonstrate the range:

There has been growing interest from policy makers and academics in the hyperlocal phenomenon. in 2012 NESTA ( National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) produced a report, Here and Now: UK hyperlocal media today which looked at the growth of the media, their sustainability, funding and visibility. Two AHRC-funded projects at Cardiff, Birmingham and Westminster universities have been studying hyperlocal media and combined this year to produce  a report: The State of Hyperlocal Community News in the UK.

The report finds that three-quarters of hyperlocal producers have been producing news for over three years and nearly a third for more than five years. Intriguingly, almost half of those surveyed had some sort of journalistic training or media experience, much higher than one might have suspected.

The connection with habitual news media practice is shown by three-quarters of respondents having covered local campaigns instigated by others, with well over a third have instigated their own. Most of those behind such sites work part-time on them: 57% work up to 10 hours per week, 26% work between 11 and 30 hours per week. The impact generated by all this effort is relatively low, as one would expect for local sites: a small group of high-performing community news sites reach audiences between 10,000 and 100,000 unique visits per month but most reach quite modest audiences of around 5,000 per month.

Community news producers tend do it for love and dedication to the cause. Most fund the running costs from their own pockets, but around one in four raise enough money to cover their costs, with advertising being the dominant form of income generation. 12% make less than £100 a month; 13% generate more than £500 per month. Yet nine out of ten believe they can sustain, or increase, current levels of output for the coming year, and eight out of then have ambitions to expand their sites. Hyperlocals may eventually fall in number as some lose the drive to continue what they have started up, but a core looks like to become a fixed part of the news media landscape.

Peckham

The Peckham Peculiar, http://peckhampeculiar.tumblr.com

Hyperlocalism is turning anyone who wants to be into a journalist or a media producer. Fancy having a go for yourself? Cardiff University's Centre for Community Journalism has produced a handy guide: Community Engagement and Hyperlocal News: a practical guide. This provides instruction on how to identify, listen to and engage with the community you wish to serve, how to make best use of social media, what online tools can help you, how to produce engaging content, how to cover local causes and campaigns, how to manage your time most effectively (a key issue mentioned by practitioners is how they never seem to have enough time achieve what they want to achieve) and how to monitor your impact.

We are witnessing a grassroots news revolution, and it is instructive to look at the parallels with the early history of newspaper production in this country. Newspapers and newsbooks arose in Britain from the early seventeenth century. Building on what had previously been private news services or occasional leaflets and broadsides, newspapers grew rapidly to serve an audience thirst for current information and the exercise of opinion. The civil war encouraged this demand to know, and though news production was constrained for a time by censorship and licensing restrictions, and then taxation, titles spread across the country until by the mid-eighteenth century few corners of the country were without a newspaper of some kind. Newspapers became a signifier of local identity. Their variousness demonstrated that news changes according to the needs of its consumers. What is news to someone in one area is not news to another. News is made by its communities. This is what the hyperlocal revolution has rediscovered.

Cybermoor

Alston Moor, http://www.cybermoor.org

Another parallel with early newspapers needs to halted. Thousands of newspaper issues produced in Britain from the 17th to the mid-19th century have been lost because there was no system in place for collecting them and no library to hold them. It is only thanks to collectors such as George Thomason and Charles Burney that we have the early British newspaper collection that we do, now part of the British Library's collection (since 1869 a copy of every newspaper published in Britain and Ireland has been acquired under legal deposit, originally by the British Museum and now by the British Library).

We do not intend to lose this new flowering of news production in the same way. In April 2013 non-print legal deposit legislation was passed which has enabled the Library to capture electronic publications on top of the print publications traditionally collected under legal deposit. We began by crawling the entire .uk domain (some 3.5 million websites); subsequent crawls will cover all websites published in the United Kingdom, so far as we are able to identify them. Eventually all British hyperlocal sites will be included, but how to find them thereafter, and what about those who currently may be slipping through the net?

So it is that we have a tool which enables curators to identify particular sites for retention, and to tag these so that they can be gathered into collections. In September we identified an initial 500 news websites - mostly newspaper sites - which we would archive on a regular and frequent basis, some weekly, some daily (the main web archiving crawl is annual). We will now be adding a further 500 or so sites for regular web archiving, most of them hyperlocal news sites, largely based on a list kindly provided by Dave Harte of Birmingham City University, one of the collaborators behind the Cardiff/Birmingham 'Media, Community and the Creative Citizen' project.

Some of these sites will be short-lived. Some will change their name, or web address. Who knows, some may merge or otherwise morph, as the community news sector matures. The important thing is that we capture what we can now. We need also to do more to acquire the print versions of hyperlocals, where these exist, only a few of which are currently being picked up through legal deposit. Then we need to keep a watchful eye on what new sites emerge, and which ones die, and review our selection on an annual basis at least. It's important to note that the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive may only be accessed onsite via Reading Room computers at the British Library and other legal deposit libraries (i.e. the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian, Cambridge University library and Trinity College Dublin). Interested researchers can come to the British Library's Newsroom, and any search result on the Web Archive can be filtered by the term 'news'. We haven't started archiving the hyperlocals yet, but plan to start doing so within the next few weeks.

Last week the Royal College of Art hosted the Creative Citizens conference, on creative citizenship and its value to the community. There was a panel on hyperlocal news media, at which I was fortunate to speak, demonstrating the links between news media of the past and this emerging news medium, and calling for the sites to be identified, archived, and then used. We need researchers to start using this new research resource, as part of the broadening news media world of which newspapers, television and radio news now form only a part. Most of these sites are still findable online, of course, but that's unlikely always to be the case, and being able to search across them all (or at least a good many of them) will tell us a lot about what this new world of community news is telling us about our communities. It will also show how news power is changing. Anyone can be a journalist. Anyone can be a media producer. So could you.

  • The Centre for Community Journalism has resources and training events for those interested in community journalism, and a directory of hyperlocal sites
  • Openly Local is a resource for accessing local government information, with a directory of hyperlocal sites
  • Talk About Local is an organisation supporting the online connecting up of communities
  • Anyone interested in researching hyperlocal news media, or who wants to check if their hyperlocal site is included on our archiving list should please get in touch

19 September 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 34

Your blogger has been away on his holidays, now returned refreshed, so this edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer is a leisurely look back at some of the news items about news that caught our eye over the past three weeks.

Scottishsun

Newspaper front pages show a divided Scotland: Mashable collects the memorable newspaper front pages from Thursday 18 September 2014, the day of the Scottish independence referendum.

Yes comes out on top amid more than 7 million tweets on #indyref, Twitter reveals: And demonstrating the limited value of using Twitter as a gauge of overall public opinion, The Drum reveals that pro-Scottish Independence came out on top according to social media.

Source confidentiality is 'in peril' and needs 'urgent action' to combat state spying: Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, came to the British Library and spoke on the urgent need to protect journalists' sources:

This whole thing that's supposedly sacred to journalists about confidentiality of sources is in peril. And that requires urgent action by journalists to make sure they understand the technologies that will enable them to communicate.

Press Gazette reports.

Accuracy, independence and impartiality: A Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report on how editorial standards are maintained in a digital age, focussing on three 'legacy organisations' (the Guardian, the New York Times, and the BBC) and three digital outlets (Quartz, BuzzFeed, and Vice News). 

Designer or journalist: Who shapes the news you read in your favorite apps?: Really interesting piece from Nieman Journalism Lab on who has influence over how news apps look.

Can news literacy grow up?: Thoughts from Linday Beyerstein at Columbia Journalism Review on the "critical-thinking skills necessary to discern what is trustworthy in this churning informational stew".

Here comes the papers: After a year, while we closed down our former newspaper library at colindale and began populating the new store at Boston Spa, the British Library is ready to make print newspapers available again for researchers. Some will be available from end of September; the remainder in November. Our blog post has the details.

Yep, BuzzFeed is building a games team: BuzzFeed is getting into games development, as Techcrunch reports.

How robots consumed journalism: An intriguing short history of the involvement of robots in news production, starting in the 1770s with Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz who built “The Writer,” a 6,000-part automated doll that could be mechanically programmed to write with a quill. And for robots writing the news now (they're growing in number), there's this sobering Guardian piece: The journalists who never sleep (and one of the programme covered is called Quill).

The newsonomics of the Washington Post and New York Times network wars: Ken Doctor at Nieman Journalism Lab reviews the competition between the two titles through digital networks and niche print produts.

Sir Alan Moses says IPSO is not Leveson-compliant but insists that it will be independent: The Press Complaint Commission closed on 8 September, to be replaced with the (ndependent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). The head of the new regulator tells Press Gazette that it will live up to the first word in its name.

NewsCorp: Google is a 'platform for piracy': NewsCorp has written to the European Commission to complain that Google's huge scale puts newspapers and news sites at a disadvantage.

The death of the political interview: Newsnight editor Ian Katz writes for the Financial Times on how the political interview has gone wrong and what might be done to change things:

The dizzying decline of Britain’s local newspapers: do you want the bad news, or the good news?: Ian Burrell at The Independent says print circulation figures for regional newspapers suggest they are facing imminent extinction, but sees some reasons for optimism in the rise on online audiences and associated revenues.

How to download bulk newspaper articles from Papers Past: One for the techies out there - software developer Conal Tuohy shows how to extra bulk data for the excellent Papers Past site of New Zealand historical newspapers, and to apply data mining tools to uncover patterns in the articles.

Do people remember news better if they read it in print?: Thought-provoking piece on news consumption, from The Atlantic.

Guardian building Guardian Space at King's Cross: The Guardian is renovating a 30,000 square foot space - Guardian Space - to host live activities at King's Cross. So, just around the corner for the British Library and its Newsroom. Hello there.

 

 

 

16 September 2014

Here come the papers

Print newspapers are coming back to the British Library. In November 2013 we closed down the Newspaper Library at Colindale in north London and put an embargo on all access to print newspapers while we began the transfer of the newspaper collection to Boston Spa in Yorkshire, and while we built a new reading room at our St Pancras site in London. The Newsroom opened in April 2014, providing access to our microfilm and digitised newspapers, as well as many electronic news resources. Now we can announce the return of the print - in stages, and with some important caveats.

Newsroom

The Newsroom

The print newspapers are going to be fully available at our St Pancras and Boston Spa reading rooms in mid to late November 2014. From 29 September, however, an initial selection will be made available, which will include:

  • English and Welsh regional titles (excluding 1901–1908 and 1957–1960)
  • Scottish titles (excluding 1900–1960) 
  • Irish titles (excluding 1838–1905)
  • London titles
  • Nationals

The remaning titles will then become available in November. The titles can be ordered using our online catalogue, Explore the British Library, and will be delivered to the Newsroom within 48 hours. The online catalogue has improved information on the titles and volumes held by the Library, and you can track the progress of their requests using My Reading Room Requests. 

However, it is important to note that we are only providing access to print newspapers where there is no 'surrogate' copy i.e. a copy on microfilm or in digital form. That is because the preservation of the fragile newspapers is paramount, the chief reason why we closed down Colindale and opened the £30M dedicated storage facility, the Newspaper Storage Building, at Boston Spa. So, only if there is no microfilm or digital copy will we provide access to the newspapers, something which is now built into the newspaper request system.

Approximately two-thirds of the 60m newspapers that we hold have not been copied onto microfilm nor digitised. Many research needs can therefore only be answered by providing access to the original newspaper, and after a considerable amount of work behind the scenes we are delighted to say that we are ready to start delivering such a service.

Bostonspa

Entrance to Boston Spa

We are also delighted that access to the print newspapers will be not only at St Pancras but in our new reading room at Boston Spa. Here we will provide the same access service at we do at St Pancras, with the exception of microfilmed newspapers and early printed newspapers (17th/18th centuries), which are only available at St Pancras. This means that the same 48-hour delivery time applies, and that no access will be provided to a print copy where a surrogate copy exists (even if that surrogate is accessible in London). 

Incidentally, for those nostalgic for the old newspaper reading desks with their distinctive overhead lamps at Colindale will be delighted to learn that we have retained two of them (with four reader seats at each) for use in one corner of the Boston Spa reading room.

So, in summary, we will start making some print newspaper available from the end of September, and will be able to provide access to the entire collection - print, microfilm and digital - from mid to late November, one year after Colindale closed. Where a microfilm or digital copy is available, we are making that available to researchers rather than the print copy. But the entire collection will be available once more, in one form or another (bar some print titles in an unfit condition). Newspapers will need to be ordered 48 hours in advance; microfilms can be ordered with 70mins notice; digital access is automatic.

There is more information on these changes in our September 2014 Collection Moves News Bulletin (PDF format).