30 March 2017
Fake news is probably as old as news itself. Certainly, as far as the British Library is concerned, it goes back to 1614 at least, when the good people of Horsham in Sussex were told of the dragon in their area that was causing great annoyance. Whether those who produced this newsbook believed what they were telling to be "true and wonderfull", who can say?
True and Wonderfull. A discourse relating a strange and monstrous serpent (or dragon) lately discovered, and yet living in Sussex, 1614 newsbook
Today, the subject of fake news is hot news, coming out of the 2016 US presidential election, but with deeper roots in the clash between traditional news providers and the search engines and social media sites through which so many now discover the news that they want to see. Fake news ranges from deliberate falsity, to news you disagree with, to satire. This special edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer rounds up some of what is being said and done about fake news today.
Fake news: what is it, and how can we tackle it? (Digital Social Innovation) - A handy summary from Toby Baker of NESTA
Fake news. It's complicated (First Draft News) - Claire Wardle attempts to explain and categorise the many types of 'fake news'
Fake News Watch - Want to know what is a fake site, a satire site, or a clickbait site? Fake News Watch attempts to list them (mostly if not all American). Other lists of fake news sites have been produced by ThoughtCo, Snopes, The Independent, and of course Wikipedia
The Ultimate 'Fake News' List (Infowars) - But just to show that one person's truth is another person's outrageous lie, here's an American far right show's listing of the fakery it sees in the mainstream media
CrossCheck - A fact-checking site from First Draft News, formed through a coalition of 37 publishers, mostly from France and Britain, including the BBC, Channel 4 News, Le Monde, BuzzFeed, and Agence France-Presse. Digiday's report European newsrooms are forming a united front against fake news gives the background.
The Independent is launching a section called In Fact to debunk fake news (The Drum) - The Independent is launching a new section called 'In Fact' in April which will 'debunk spurious stories'. Other fact checking sites that have popped up include FactCheck, Politifact and Fake News Checker.
Fact Check blog - Channel 4 News has produced a fact check blog following a season of programmes on fake news (including a one-off comedy show). Awkwardly the news programme made a bad slip on the day of the Westminster attack of 22 March, naming the wrong person as the perpetrator, as Richard Smallbrook covers in Westminster attack: Channel 4 learn hard lessons about the fog of breaking news (The Conversation)
Bellingcat Wants Your Help to Debunk Fake News (Vice) - The fact-checking citizen journalism network and scourge of Russia news outlets Bellingcat has launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand its open source investigation platform
RT separates facts from fakes with new online project (RT) - Not to be outdone, RT (Russia Today) has launched its own fact checking service in the battle against fake news, Fakecheck
Facebook and Google
Building Global Community (Facebook) - Mark Zuckerberg has issued a manifesto, which in part addresses the topic of the distribution of fake news (Facebook having been the target of many of the complaints made):
We've made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do. We are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes, satire and opinion. In a free society, it's important that people have the power to share their opinion, even if others think they're wrong. Our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item's accuracy.
How Mark Zuckerberg could really fix journalism (Columbia Journalism Review) - Emily Bell responds to Zuckerberg, suggesting that market intervention in America is the answer:
America needs a radical new market intervention similar to that made by the UK Government in 1922 when it issued a Royal Charter and established the BBC ... If, instead of scrapping over news initiatives, the four or five leading technology companies could donate $1 billion in endowment each for a new type of engine for independent journalism, it would be more significant a contribution than a thousand scattered initiatives put together.
Facebook has started to flag fake news stories (Recode) - Meanwhile, Facebook has introduced a 'disputed' tag
Google purges nearly 200 websites in fake news crackdown (Mashable) - Google has been shutting down fake news sites from its advertising platform
Google's fake news Snippets (BBC) - Rory Cellan-Jones's sneak preview of the Google Home speaker showed how it could spout false news in response to spoken enquiries. Google is now adjusting the algorithms...
Google and Facebook Can’t Just Make Fake News Disappear (Back Channel) - Danah Boyd thinks the problem with the interpretation of news lies with us
Real fake news
How fake news becoming a popular, trending topic (CBS News) - CBS News looks into actual fake news stories created by con artists
Inside the Macedonian fake-news complex (Wired) - More on the production of actual fake news from the unlikely source of the town of Veles in Macedonia
US spoof news site The Real Fake News
'Fake news' inquiry (Parliament.uk) - The Culture, Sport and Media Committee is conducting an inquiry into fake news and its impact
What to know about Germany’s fake-news crackdown (Digiday) - Germany has proposed a law to fine social networks up to €50 million if they fail to remove harmful fake news or defamatory content
World wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee targets fake news (BBC) - Sir Tim has set out a five-year strategy amid concerns he has about how the web is being used
Announcing New Research: "A Field Guide to Fake News" (First Draft News) - First Draft News have also announced a project that aims "to catalyze collaborations between leading digital media researchers, data journalists and civil society groups in order to map the issue and phenomenon of fake news in US and European politics"
Updates from the fake-news world (NiemanLab) - US journalism studies site NiemanLab provides useful round-ups of the efforts being made to tackle fake news. The latest update, Is it still fake news if it makes you feel good?, has interesting points to make about the sharing of positive but made-up news
Lessons from the fake news pandemic of 1942 (Politco) - There's nothing new under the sun - Joshua Zeitz reports on a race-related fake news story that circulated in the American south in 1942
Trump’s “fake news” playbook has roots in a 180-year-old hoax (Quartz) - Corinne Purtill takes the issue back further to 1835, and the widespread report on life having been discovered on the Moon
The real story of 'fake news' (Merriam Webster) - The American dictionary traces use of the term 'fake news' back to the 1890s - but 'false news' goes back to the 16th century
Good news in an era of fake news: the public is becoming wiser about how the media works (The Conversation) - It's an ill wind ... James Rodgers points out that all of this is greatly improving the public's understanding of how the media works
The term ‘fake news’ isn’t just annoying, it’s a danger to democracy (The Independent) - Sean O'Grady is angry
Fake News : The Greatest Lies Ever Told (TruePublica) - So where are the UK's homegrown fake news sites? In a contentious thought piece, Graham Venbergen argues that "In Britain at least, fake news websites have failed to get a grip in the political arena. This is because traditional British news outlets, are already highly accomplished at stretching the truth to its limits and yet still get away with it"
Britain Has No Fake News Industry Because Our Partisan Newspapers Already Do That Job (Buzzfeed) - Jim Waterson similarly argues that very limited appetite for completely fake news in British politics, thanks to its highly partisan newspapers
The Choose-Your-Own-News Adventure (New York Times) - Jim Rutenberg illustrates how we can escape reality by pursuing news worlds that match our expectations. But isn't this how news has always worked?
'Fake news' to be delightful and fun (Daily Mash) - Let's leave the last word to our favourite UK spoof news site:
The Institute for Studies has shown that real news is bad enough already, and therefore all fake news from now on must be unbelievably delightful. Professor Henry Brubaker said: “If the ‘news’ on social media is just whatever b------- anyone shares, then instead of ‘Muslims in council-backed halal Easter outrage’ why not ‘Puppies discover limitless cold fusion energy source’?
01 June 2016
It's time for another edition in our occasional series on news about news, the St Pancras Intelligencer. Here are some of the recent stories on where news and where it might be going which have caught our eye.
Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages Project
Death to the Mass - Jeff Jarvis writes on the death of the traditional idea of the mass media as delivering the same content to everyone. What replaces it will be tailored to the individual, who is now the king over everything:
What has died is the mass-media business model — injuring, perhaps mortally, a host of institutions it symbiotically supported: publishing, broadcasting, mass marketing, mass production, political parties, possibly even our notion of a nation. We are coming at last to the end of the Gutenberg Age.
All well and good, says Roy Greenslade, but how in this brave new world are we to save public interest journalism?
When it comes to social media, news consumers tend to stick with 1 source - Media plurality is all very good, but humans still tend to stick with the familiar. The Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation find that 64 percent of social media news consumers get their news on just one favorite site.
43 percent of social media users don't know where the stories they read originally appeared - Some disheartening news for all news brands, as Digiday reports that 43% of social media users are unaware of them.Why China fakes 488 million social media posts a year - Mind-boggling report from Mashable on how China's government fills its social media with positive social media comments to distract its citizens from bad or politically sensitive news.
Digital archives of British national newspapers - Our own guide to current UK national newspapers available digitally at the British Library (and those which can't be found digitally anywhere).
A neighbor is better than a newspaper - A rather heartening report from Solutions Journalism Network, showing how the oldest form of news distribution - word-of-mouth - operates in rural Western mountain communities in the USA.
Facebook's Instant Articles
Facebook news selection is in hands of editors not algorithms, documents show - So many stories out there about how Facebook's algorithms are shaping the world's news. The Guardian reports on the humans behind the algorithms making selection decisions much like a traditional media organisation. Quartz has Facebook’s news feed algorithm is so mysterious, users are developing “folk theories” about how it works; Will Cathcart at The Verge has a long talk with Facebook about its role in journalism; Fusion reminds us that the real ‘news curators’ at Facebook are the engineers who write its algorithms; while The Independent reports Facebook denies claims it suppressed conservative and controversial news on its ‘Trending Topics’ sidebar.
Facebook is the new paperboy - And there's more. Matt Carroll at Medium traces the history of news distribution from paperboys to platforms, and how this is changing how newsrooms work.
Social networks could do much more to protect eyewitnesses in breaking news - Josh Stearns at FirstDraftNews calls on Facebook, Twitter and Google to do more to help eyewitnesses supplying on-the-spot news at disasters to protect and understand their rights.
Beware the ‘false consciousness’ theory: newspapers won’t decide this referendum - Charlie Beckett at LSE's Polis blog says that traditional newspapers no longer have the influence over something like the EU Referendum debate that campaigners imagine they have.
How the New York Times plans to conquer the world - Alex Spence at Politico reports on how the New York Times is eyeing Europe for new digital subscribers.
Suddenly, national newspapers are heading for that print cliff fall - The end has been nigh for a while now, but Roy Greenslade is now certain: newspapers "have no future".
A BBC for the future - And finally, among all the stories coming out the BBC White Paper - funding local journalists, cutting back on sections of its News website, no longer running local news index web pages, possibly merging the News and World channels - we were pleased to see this line lurking towards the back of the document: "There should be particular scope to do more to enable access to BBC historic news archive". Let's hope so.
31 March 2016
The screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, The Princess Bride) wrote one of the essential books on Hollywood, Adventures in the Screen Trade. Among its many words of wisdom about how movies actually work, the most celebrated are those that express what he calls "the single most important fact, perhaps, of the entire movie industry" -
NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING
Attending a debate on the future of newspapers at City University yesterday, Goldman's words came to me. In the world of digital news that now faces us, nobody knows anything.
Independent Digital front pages, from http://edition.independent.co.uk
Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hollywood may lurch from triumph to disaster to further disaster with little idea of what is going to succeed, yet it continues to produce the occasional great or commercially successful film, and it has not collapsed as a business. But it lives in a constant state of anxiety, because its hopes are all based around the whims of a mercurial audience. After centuries of producing news in a form that people would regularly buy into, the news industry is now facing a world in which it cannot say from one year to the next what model is going to work, or whether there ever will be the same stability on which the newspaper business subsisted for so long.
The debate was entitled "Newsprint - it ain't over yet!" (originally it was billed as the less confident "Is print dead?") and was organised by City University and the Media Society. Chaired by Professor Roy Greenslade of City University and Guardian Media, the guest speakers were Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times, Christian Broughton, Editor of the Independent Digital and Jane Singer, Professor of Journalism Innovation at City University. Sadly, Alison Phillips, editor of the UK's latest national newspaper, The New Day, was advertised but not available on the day.
It was an interesting debate, if somewhat skewed towards the view of journalists rather than readers, inevitably given the speakers and the audience of journalism students and media professionals. The current crises were all addressed - the challenges of making digital pay, the supposed threat of the BBC towards regional newspapers, the challenge of ad-blocking software to business models, what jobs are there for today's journalism students? - and the generally expressed fears of who will hold governments to account in a world without newspapers and traditional investigative journalism.
The two speakers from news organisations spoke confidently about their latest business models. The Independent closed its print edition on 26 March, but has strongly asserted the power of its digital, with a website that is profitable, and the newly-launched daily digital edition with front-page layout looking for all the world like the print edition still existed (no doubt to comfort former subscribers to the print version who they hope will move over to the digital). The Times and Sunday Times have announced that they are moving away from a rolling digital news model (the "flim-flam of passing news" in Baxter's words) to offer a joint digital news package in timed editions (9am, midday and 5pm), just like a print newspaper.
The debate at City University, with (L-R) Christian Broughton, Jane Singer, Roy Greenslade and Sarah Baxter
So the latest digital news models are looking towards mimicking the solidity of print. This may comfort the traditionalist buyers, and is an acknowledgment of the power of brand and the strength of print in making a news story part of the public agenda. But that's just today's strategy. Who can say if they will still be operational five years from now, or even a year from now? Other great ideas for ensuring long-term stability will follow soon enough, while others will pursue their own plans. Perhaps the Blendle model of pay-per-article, as developed in the Netherlands, will prove successful. Perhaps philanthropic funding models that work in the USA can be transported here. Perhaps the paid-for model adopted by The Times offers the only security. Perhaps going free but reaching out to as many millions as possible is what will work. Perhaps print will endure far longer than we expect, valued by an 'elite' audience if not the majority.
The truth is, nobody knows. This is a huge challenge for the British Library, which has a mission to preserve the UK's news. Such archiving thrives on consistency of output, something which print newspapers have long provided, with their uniformity of format and regularity of publication. The days of certainty are over for news archiving as they are for news publication. We will have to keep reinventing policies and procedures, just to keep up. It certainly seems unlikely that we will ever return to the reliability of the past. Sarah Baxter said that we are in a transitional phase of news production, but perhaps it is always going to be a transitional phase.
News publication in the future looks to be condemned to uncertainty, flitting from one platform to another, from one business model to the next - because that is how the digital world works, with its continual need to keep re-inventing itself. News publication will nevertheless thrive, however, in one form or another, because we will always thirst for news. It will continue to hit the occasional heights, keeping us informed and creating essential talking points. But, like the movies, it is doomed to a constant state of anxiety, for as long into the future as anyone can see.
27 February 2015
Here's the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our now monthly round-up of news about news. So here are the highlights from February 2015. It's been a full month, what with one thing and another - Peter Oborne quitting the Telegraph, NBC's Brian Williams exposed, the Future of the BBC report, 10 million digitised newspaper pages, plunging circulations, and 64 ways t0 make a news homepage. Plus newspapers as poetry. Read on...
The UK's biggest newspapers are all dying: Graphic of the month from Dadaviz appears to say it all. As Roy Greenslade noted at The Guardian, regional newspaper titles are also suffering yet more substantial sales declines.
How the New York Times works: Terrific long article by Reeves Wiedeman at Popular Mechanics, with great illustrations, on how the New York Times gets published. Essential reading.
Why I have resigned from the Telegraph: Political commentator Peter Oborne quit the Daily Telegraph with this incendiary post from OpenDemocracy, in which he accuses the paper's owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal.
The Telegraph's promise to our readers: After Peter Oborne's explosive denunication of his former employers, the Telegraph came up with this much-commented-upon statement of principles.
Snapchat stories: Nieman Lab looks at how six news organisations are making use of the app whose messages disappear after your've read them. But, asks Mathew Ingram at Gigaom, are media companies building another house of cards on SnapChat?
Someone is handing out hand-drawn copies of The Guardian and no one knows why: Mysterious hand-drawn copies of The Guardian from four years ago were being handed out at London Bridge station. It turned out to be the work of artist Charlotte Mann.
Green Party's Natalie Bennett gives 'excruciating' radio interview: Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, gave an agonisingly awkward radio interview for Nick Ferrari on LBC in which she struggled to answer basic questions about the party's economic policy.
NBC’s Brian Williams recants Iraq story after soldiers protest: Scoop of the month came from American military paper Stars and Stripes, which revealed that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was not on board a helicopter hit and forced down by fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as he had long claimed.
Brian Williams has gone, but false news is bigger business than ever: Emily Bell looks at the acceleration of untrue news stories in the web world, following the exposure of Brian Williams.
64 ways to think about a news homepage: Fantastic illustrated post from Melody Joy Kramer on different ways to present the news online - actual, or potential.
Cassetteboy remix the news: Irresistible mash-up of BBC news clips from the Cassetteboy remixing duo.
Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show: Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show - an essential news source for many in America (and beyond) - is to step down.
Future of the BBC: The Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report Future of the BBC addresses the hot topic of the broadcaster's relationship with and effect upon regional newspapers, and comes up with these recommendations:
The BBC must not expect to receive others' news content without providing something in return. We are attracted by the idea of exchanges of content and information, where the BBC local websites link to the source of local material they have used, and in return the BBC allows others to use its content and embed BBC clips on their sites, where these would be of local interest, under a licence agreement. There need not be a financial transaction. However, we also see the case for the BBC outsourcing the supply of some local content on a commercial basis, where there is an ongoing requirement for such material, and it is a more cost-effective way of meeting this need. We recommend this be ensured by extending the BBC's independent production quota to cover local news.
Why is the BBC just so bad at TV news?: Meanwhile, a provocative opinion piece from Michael Church at The Independent, comparing the BBC News channel to Al Jazeera.
Fox News site embeds unedited Isis video showing brutal murder of Jordanian pilot: To show or not to show? Fox News chose to; The Guardian, reporting on this, and most other news sites, did not.
10 million newspaper pages are now fully searchable at the British Newspaper Archive: The British Newspaper Archive, which is digitising newspapers from the British Library's collection, has reached the magic milestone of 10 million digitised newspaper pages.
How about a search of only original news reporting on Google?: Hmm, interesting proposal from Jeff Jarvis, writing at Medium.
If UK newspapers wrote unhinged Twitter poetry: And finally, Journalism.co.uk offers us some poetic renditions of British newspapers, taken from their Twitter feeds, using the Poetweet site. Here's @MailOnline expressed in rondel form...
01 February 2015
Times are hard in the news industry, as all will know, and this applies to the news curator's blog as well. It just hasn't proved possible to keep up the weekly production of our St Pancras Intelligencer round-up of the week's news about news which ran for most of 2014. But we're unwilling to see a good title die, so the Intelligencer is making its tentative return as a monthly (or thereabouts). Here's hoping the strategy is a successful one - and let's kick things off again with the news about news in January.
The Future of News - There have been many reports on the future of news, and the latest comes from BBC head of news James Harding. He argues that
in the internet age, the BBC is more necessary and valuable than ever. The internet is not keeping everyone informed, nor will it: it is, in fact, magnifying problems of information inequality, misinformation, polarisation and disengagement. Our job is keeping everyone informed.
He says the BBC must increase both its local and global coverage and improve its digital services, and it's the increase in local coverage that has excited the most comment from the local newspaper world, which feels threatened by the BBC's reach at a time of shrinking newspaper titles and shrinking revenues.
Future of News: News v Noise - The key points from Harding's report have been published as an "immersive journey" on the BBC news website.
Emily Bell's 2015 Hugh Cudlipp lecture - Also on the future of news and journalism was this lecture by Emily Bell, the director of Columbia University’s Tow Centre for digital journalism, in which calls for social networks and journalists to work together.
We are seeing unimaginably large new entities, which get their size from publishing not just a selected number of stories but everything in the world. Social networks and search engines are the masters of this universe. As we see the disappearance of print as a significant medium, and the likely decline of broadcast television, the paths our stories and journalism must travel down to reach readers and viewers are being shaped by technologies beyond our control.
The answer, she argues, is for more journalists who a more technically proficient, and for social networks and search engines to hire more technologists who are understand the news.
Because at the moment we have a situation which is not working for either of us. Those of us engaged with what journalism is and will be, who have a direct and vested interest in the protection of free speech and standards for information have a lot to do, and we need to work together, because we are now part of one continuous global information loop.
Newspaper front pages around the world pay tribute to Charlie - The overpowering story of the month has been the murder by two Islamist gunmen of cartoonists and journalists working for French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The aftermath included the 'survivors' issue' with its front cover cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, which had a seven million print run (instead of the usual 60,000). Of the many debates triggered by the calamitious events, some of the most interesting have been on the role of cartoonists. George Brock at The Conversation wrote 'In Praise of the Cartoonist - solitary, studios and searing.' Peter Preston wrote sadly at The Guardian that 'Alas for cartoonists, pen and ink don’t wash on the web' while Ricardo Bilton at Digiday argued quite the opposite, reporting that 'Digital publishers turn to cartoons to cover the news'.
'Muslim-controlled' UK city claim mocked by #FoxNewsFacts hashtag - Much joy was brought by the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts following Fox News terrorism expert Steve Emerson's bold statement that there were no-go zones in Europe where "non-Muslims just simply don’t go", among them Birmingham. Tweets along the lines of "Mecca Bingo, probable proof of the Islamic domination of Birmingham" and "Spaghetti Junction was specifically designed to make sure all roads lead to Mecca" brought some gaiety to dark times. The Poke gathered a selection of the best of them.
Watch out for @Bellingcat - An interview on Columbia Journalism Review with British blogger Eliot Higgins (previously known as Brown Moses), whose citizen investigative journalism website Bellingcat feature closely-analysed evidence from social media, YouTube and data sources of stories such as the MH17 crash.
Timeline launches news app to give you the context behind the day’s headlines - Another day, another news aggregator app, but Timeline wants to bring you the historical context behind the headlines.
Vice News debuts 'virtual reality news broadcast' of US Millions March - Online news broadcaster Vice News demonstrated a possible advance in news broadcasting when it teamed up with digital artist Chris Milk and filmmaker Spike Jonze for a “virtual reality news broadcast” filmed at the Millions March protest rally at the death of Eric Garner in New York. The 360-degree view film followed Vice News correspondent Alice Speri through the march in December. It's available via the VRSE app for iPhone and Android devices.
Introducing Discover - Snapchat, the service that let's you send messages that get deleted after they've been read, has launched Discover, an app promises "a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams". According to Nieman Lab, Snapchat’s new Discover feature could be a significant moment in the evolution of mobile news.
The British Library's newspaper collection as it was little more than a year ago (in Colindale) and as it is now (in Boston Spa)
Into the void - The British Library officially opened the National Newspaper Building, its new home for the UK's newspaper archives at Boston Spa in Yorkshire. Our blog post takes a look inside the building's storage void and traces the journey from Colindale to Boston Spa for the 60 million volumes held in the nation's newspaper archive.
9.5 million newspaper pages now fully searchable on @BNArchive - Talking of which, the British Newspaper Archive is close to the ten million milestone of digitising historic newspaper pages from the British Library. Just another 440 million to go...
After 44 years The Sun stops publishing topless model pics on page three - Well, so said Press Gazette and many others, including The Sun's sister paper The Times, which broke the news, and there was much debate as to whether changing taste, pressure from lobbyists, or financial arguments had forced the change. Three days later, Page 3 returned.
Google is now a more trusted source of news than the websites it aggregates - Quartz reports that online search engines have overtaken traditional media as the most trusted source for general news and information.
19 December 2014
2014 has been an extraordinary, sometimes harrowing, year for news. It has also been a highly significant year for the production and use of news itself - hot topics have included the hacking trial, IPSO, Buzzfeed, data journalism, Google and the right to be forgotten, Brown Moses, Ezra Klein, and the New York Times's leaked Innovation report. It's also been a major year for the British Library's news collection, with the opening of our Newsroom and the successful conclusion of our newspaper digitisation programme. Here are some of the highlights from the year's news about news.
The re-design of the New York Times website was much discussed. Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher was sacked. The Birmingham Post's Business Daily Tablet edition, designed to “reinvent business journalism within the regional press,” closed after seven months. Also owned by Trinity Mirror was The People, a Buzzfeed-style site populated with "native content". It lasted three months. But Trinity enjoyed rather more success with viral news site UsVsTh3m. Charley Miller at Medium wondered if in the future we might all become personal broadcasters. News UK launched The Academy, to train teenagers to become journalists. James Harding of BBC News gave a key speech, 'Journalism Today' at the British Library (the first of our three WT Stead lectures). Philosopher Alan de Botton's book The News was not reviewed kindly. Facebook announced Paper. Kola Dumor, the BBC World News presenter, and Chris Chataway, athlete, politicians and news reporter for BBC and ITN, died.
The staff of French left-wing journal Libération took over the front page to protest at the paper's shareholder group's plans to turn it into a social and cultural hub. Richard Sambrook and Sean McGuire argued that 24-hour news has had its day - and got an angry response from Sky News's Adam Boulton. London news radio station LBC went national. Marc Andreessen's optimistic piece, 'The Future of the News Business', was much shared and debated.
American data guru Nate Silver launched data journalism site FiveThirtyEight. Getty made 35 million images freely available. The New York Times issued a correction for an article written 20 January 1853. The Sun's Page 3 v Breast Cancer campaign did not impress the campaign site No More Page 3. Susanna Reid left BBC Breakfast for ITV's planned Good Morning Britain programme. Are robots the future of news? Andrew Pettegree's book The Invention of News, on the early history of newspapers, was greatly admired. The Evening Standard-backed London TV Channel, London Live, went live.
The British Library opened its new reading room for news, the Newsroom. Emly Bell lectured at the Library on Journalism in the Age of Automation and Big Data. Celebrity news blogger Ezra Klein launched Vox.com, with its user-friendly 'cards' giving background information to stories. News headlines from UK regional newspapers became an Internet cult. Are automated breaking news stories the future of news? But what about how the news archives of tomorrow will look, asked Adrienne LaFrance. 26 searching questions for news organisations from Raju Narisetti about the move to digital. The Mirror's 'crying child' front cover (which turned out to be a stock photo, not a British child in need of food parcels) caused controversy. British Pathé released 85,000 historic newsreels on YouTube. The New York Times joined the explanatory journalism craze with offshoot The Upshot. Dutch government-funded news site Blendle asked you to pay for stories, giving you your money back if you were not completely satisfied.
Most discussed news-about-news subject of the year was probably the leaked copy of the New York Times's 'Innovation' report, making many - and not just in the newspaper world - think if they were doing enough about digital. But just why was the NYT's executive editor Jill Abramson fired? The British Library published a news content strategy (and not a newspaper strategy). Facebook and Storyful launched FB Newswire. London Live's chief programmer quit after terrible audience figures. Nate Silver's advice to young journalists - learn to code. Good Morning Britain launched (to a mixed reception). Max Clifford was found guilty. Journalist of the year? - quite possibly citizen journalist and social media sleuth Eliot Higgins aka Brown Moses. Immersive narratives became all the rage, led by BBC News's The Reykjavik Confessions. The British Newspaper Archive reached 8 million historic newspaper pages online. And the Duchess of Cambridge's rear became front page viewing (elsewhere).
Ed Miliband's interview for Buzzfeed saw his comments on reading the news being analysed a great deal (he uses RealClearPolitics). Also much devoured was the Reuters Institute's annual Digital News Report. As was Robert Peston's speech on threats to journalism. Benedict Cumberbatch helped bring BBC radio news scripts of D-Day (from the British Library's collection) back to life. Are drones the future of news? The Sun tried to give a free copy of a version of the paper backing the England football team at the World Cup, which didn't impress everyone. Ed Miliband then apologised for endorsing it. An Egyptian court sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail and one to ten years in jail. Jeremy Paxman stood down from Newsnight. At the end of the phone hacking trial, News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of a conspiracy to intercept voicemails, while former News International chief executive Mrs Brooks was found not guilty. Is Fox News more dangerous than ISIS? So Russell Brand claimed in a YouTube video. And the dream headline occured - Man Bites Dog.
Social sleuthing from Storyful uncovered evidence of surface-to-air missiles in eastern Ukraine following the shooting down of airliner MH17, as verification of online information became the topic of the hour. Sky News' Colin Brazier was condemned for a live news broadcast when he briefly looked through the content of the luggage of one of the victims of MH17, and produced a thoughtful apology. Ian Burrell at The Independent said poor news coverage was exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. A European court decision allowed individuals to request that Google remove links to historical articles which has personal information that they would rather was forgotten. George Clooney forced Mail Online to apologise. Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow's heartfelt video account of the child victims in Gaza went viral. There was a timely and useful report on the state of hyperlocal community news in the UK. The Independent launched i100. Brown Moses launched the Bellingcat site to train others in crowdsourced reporting. The 'Fake Sheikh' was himself entrapped. Sarah Palin launched a news channel. There was plagiarism at Buzzfeed. The Sun said farewell to Wapping.
Medyan Dairieh of Vice News scooped the world with his insider video report on the Islamic State. Is virtual reality the future of news? Chapman Pincher died, aged 100. Nick Davies published Hack Attack, on the phone hacking saga. Newspapers marked the centenary of the First World War with solemnity. American started to get alarmed about ebola. David Carr pronounced on the imminent death of the print newspaper. So did Clay Shirky. 4,000 Buzzfeed posts disappeared. The sound of typewriters returned to the newsroom of The Times. American journalist James Foley was murdered in Syria.
According to Twitter, Scotland won its independence. Alan Rusbridger spoke at the British Library on the urgent need to protect journalists' sources. The Guardian announced the building of Guardian Space (in King's Cross). Do people remember news better if they read it in print? The dizzying decline of Britain's local newspapers. Newsnight's Ian Katz on the death of the political interview. Hannah Storm on how journalists are becoming propaganda. Independent press regulator IPSO was launched - Hacked Off was hacked off about it.
Legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died, aged 93. Ebola coverage - there was the good, the bad and the ugly. Among the good was much-praised single issue site Ebola Deeply. Among the ugly were fake news sites spreading ebola panic. Is Emergent the future of news? We considered how Edward Snowden changed journalism. Was Krishnan Guru-Murthy's interview with Richard Ayoade the greatest ever? Time travel was offered with the New York Times's TimesMachine archive service.
Many saw the end of times with the news that Trinity Mirror was closing of seven regional print titles, including The Reading Post, and replacing them with a single website (GetReading). But Tien Tzuo said newspapers are not dying (at least, not some of them). The Newspaper Society and the Newspaper Publishers' Association merged to form the News Media Association. The British Newspaper Archive reached 9 million pages online. Print newspapers became available once more to British Library users, after a year's absence. Professor Aled Jones lectured at the BL on newspaper reading rooms and civic engagement.
The 'Syrian Hero Boy' video (after being seen by millions) was revealed to be a sham. A new national newspaper was launched, the pro-independence Scottish title The National. Emily Bell's lecture 'Silicon Valley and journalism: make up or break up?' led to much thinking about the future of news. Andrew Norfolk was named journalist of the year at the British Journalism Awards for his investigations into child abuse for The Times. The archive of The Independent is to be digitised. A Wikipedia for news? Google News withdrew its service from Spain after a law was passed saying it had to pay royalties on use of news snippets. Now Spanish newspapers are complaining of loss of traffic. There was an Early Day Motion in the UK parliament against the closure of local newspapers. Alan Rusbridger announced he was standing down as Guardian editor-in-chief. Did Al-Jazeera's hackathon uncover the future of news? And finally, why it is bad news to publish only good news.
This blog is one year old today, by the way. See you next year.
26 September 2014
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.
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).
19 September 2014
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.
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.
29 August 2014
Your humble blogger is taking a rest from Newsroom duties for a couple of weeks while he heads off on vacation, so there will be no St Pancras Intelligencer next Friday, nor the next. So make the most of this week's select gathering of news about news, and look out for plenty more from the Newsroom blog on our return.
GDELT comparison of 'conflict events' in Germany 7/8/2009 – 9/6/2009 (green left of black line) and 9/6/2009 – 11/5/2009 (green right of black line) compared with Egypt (red) - see http://blog.gdeltproject.org/towards-psychohistory-uncovering-the-patterns-of-world-history-with-google-bigquery/
Can computers replace historians?: Rory Cellan-Jones at BBC News notes the work of the GDELT project ('a global database of society'), which has collected has collected media reports of events from sources in more than 100 languages covering a period of 35 years. It is using the data to draw out the pattern of world events with the sort of analysis that would have taken historians years to compile in the traditional manner. News looks like it is the first draft of history after all.
'Daily Mail' solves Internet paradox: Michael Wolff at USA Today looks admiringly on how the Daily Mail created the separate beast of Mail Online and created the world's 'most-trafficked' English-language newspaper website.
Open journalism also means opening up your data, so others can use and improve it: Gigaom's Mathew Ingram (never a week goes by but we don't find ourselves recommending his writings) calls for journalists to free up their data - because it's good for journalism.
How the news upstarts covered ISIS: DigiDay examines how news' new kids on the block, including Vice, BuzzFeed, Mashable, International Business Times and Vocativ have been beating newspapers at their traditional game when it comes to coverage of the rise of ISIS.
Gun Safety, Self Defense, and Road Marches – Finding an ISIS Training Camp: Talking of which, news coup of the week was undoubtedly Elliott Higgins' kickstarter-funded citizen journalism site, Bellingcat, which showed how to identify the location of an ISIS training camp using Google Earth and Bing Maps.
Can the UK’s broadcast news providers keep doing more for less?: Former ITN chief turned journalism academic Stewart Purvis looks at the struggles broadcasters have, caught between the demans of innovation and tradition:
At the opposite ends of the scale are the traditional TV news audience, predominantly over 55 years of age, and the 16-34 audience which is converting to or adopting online news use at a startling rate, especially since the arrival of smart phones and tablets ... whereas daily average TV viewing is currently three times higher among adults aged 55-plus than among adults age 16-34, the ratio is more like five or six to one when it comes to news. In the middle is the 35-54 audience which currently has a foot in both camps but whose future allegiance to TV news cannot be taken for granted.
Vice News sparks debate on engaging younger viewers: On the same theme, The Guardian looks at how traditional broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 News are aiming to attract a generation at home on YouTube and social media.
Is local TV vanity over sanity?:Media Week looks at how the plans are going for the launch of local television stations across the UK, and doesn't think that things are going too well.
New Orleans newspaper page, from www.noladna.com
Old newspapers, new value: Printmaker J.S. Makkos writes a beautifully-illustrated piece for The Atlantic about making new products out of old New Orleans newspapers, and reminds us of old controversies about the disposal of surplus newspaper archives and the dangers of keeping only the grey images of microfilm. For more, see the New Orleans Digital Newspaper Archive.
The Times' newsroom set to ring with the sounds of typewriters once more: What fun - a speaker has been introduced into The Times newsroom at London Bridge, which relays the sounds of typewriters, recalling the newsroom of old. The intention is apparently to boost energy levels and encourage journalists to meet deadlines as the sounds of the typewriters rises to a crescendo. Ian Burrell at The Independent looks on, with not a little bemusement.
22 August 2014
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.
James Foley, via http://www.globalpost.com
Here's some of James Foley's finest reporting for GlobalPost: American journalist James Foley was murdered in Syria in an act that has revolted the world. The American online news site for which he did most of his work, GlobalPost, has published this tribute along with examples of some of his work.
View of #Ferguson Thrust Michael Brown Shooting to National Attention: David Carr at the New York Times looks at how the story of the shooting of Michael Brown spread through Twitter to national consciousness.
BBC’s long struggle to present the facts without fear or favour: An excellent, thought-provoking historical overview of the BBC's striving to remain independent and impartial as a news provider, part of a nine-part series by Charlotte Higgins, 'The BBC Report', for The Guardian.
In depth: The 64 UK journalists arrested and/or charged following the News of the World hacking scandal: An astonishing line-up provided by Press Gazette.
Last call: Clay Shirky writes the obituary of the printed newspaper, and what it means for journalism, for Medium.
Contrary to the contrived ignorance of media reporters, the future of the daily newspaper is one of the few certainties in the current landscape: Most of them are going away, in this decade. (If you work at a paper and you don’t know what’s happened to your own circulation or revenue in the last few years, now might be a good time to ask.) We’re late enough in the process that we can even predict the likely circumstance of its demise.
Bulgarians and Romanians in the British National Press: The Migration Observatory has produced a report on how British newspaper reported Bulgarians and Romanians leading up to the lifting of temporary restrictions on the right to work in the UK in January 2014.
Over 4,000 BuzzFeed posts have completely disappears: Gawker reports with alarm that BuzzFeed has deleted many post from its site. In an interview with Slate, BuzzFeed boss Jonah Peretti explains why (they were "technically broken, not sourced to our current standards, not worth improving or saving because the content isn’t very good") and says it's because they were originally a tech company not a journalistic one, though they are a journalistic one now.
The weird new future of news: New York-based discussion site The Awl reports that NowThisNews is looking to place its fleeting news reports to the apps of others. It reproduces some alarming examples of what a 90-second news briefing from NowThis News on Snapchat, the messaging service which deletes messages once they have been read, looks like. On the same subject, the Wall Street Journal reports News and ads to debut on Snapchat:
The product would let users read daily editions of publications as well as watch video clips of TV shows or movies by holding down a finger on the screen, like they do with photos and other messages on the app before disappearing.
Mathew Ingram at Gigaom reviews this trend towards publishing on apps rather than a brand's own website, arguing that News needs to go where the people are, not the other way around.
The future of mobile apps for news: More on the mobile future for news in this useful summary of the technical issues by Frederic Filloux at Monday Note.
Teenagers and the news game: The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones looks at how teenagers get their news and the challenge this presents for journalists.
Using Oculus Rift to build immersive news experiences: Wired reports on Nonny de la Peña from USC School of Cinematic Arts, who is creating immersive journalism experience using gaming platforms and virtual reality.
The Illustrated First World War: Illustrated London News Ltd has launched a handsomely-designed website featuring 1914-1918 archive material from the Illustrated London News, with other titles in its collection (such as The Graphic, The Sketch and The Sphere) in due course - all free, thanks to a £96K Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The Guardian view of the Cliff Richard search: The controversial reporting by the BBC of a search of Cliff Richard's house is viewed by The Guardian as something that could could reopen issues about the police and the press that troubled Lord Justice Leveson.
Google removes 12 BBC News links in 'right to be forgotten: Fascinatingly this includes a 2009 item on the merits of hummus.
The Newsroom blog recent posts
- St. Pancras Intelligencer no. 40 - fake news special
- St. Pancras Intelligencer no. 39
- Nobody knows anything
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 37
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 36
- 2014 - the year's news about news
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 35
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 34
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 33
- St Pancras Intelligencer no. 32