08 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.
Passenger on plane escorted by RAF to Manchester Airport breaks bomb threat story - social scoops news media again: Anyone can be a journalist - you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Josh Hartley, a passenger on board a Qatar Aiways flight turned unwitting citizen journalist when he tweeted images of a fighter jet escorting the plane to Manchester airport after someone on board made a hoax bomb threat. The Drum reproduces his tweets and those of others and calls it "the latest example of how social media is changing the face of modern journalism".
The bad guys hate me... but most journalists are decent people and are glad I exposed phone-hacking: Nick Davies book Hack Attack, on the phone hacking scandal, which he was instrumental in exposing, has been the hot topic of discussion this week. He doesn't mince his words in this incendiary interview for Press Gazette.
Anonymous sources are vital, but in the end we need to put a name to them: Peter Preston, commenting on Nick Davies' work, argues that the whole truth requires more than "faceless whistleblowers".
'I'm out of scoops' Daily Express veteran Chapman Pincher dies aged 100: One of the most celebrated of all British newspaper journalists and rooter-out of spies, Harry Chapman Pincher has died , aged 100. An obituaty from the newspaper where he made his name, the Daily Express.
How the smartphone ushered in a golden age of journalism: Frank Rose supplies a handy overview of the revolution in how we read the news today, for Wired.
First world war: newspaper editors bow their heads in remembrance: Roy Greenslade surveys the newspapers' solemn front page responses to the centenary of Britain entering the First World War.
Map of connections between Twitter accounts responding to the bombing of a school in Gaza (in July)
There is only one major news site that both pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinians read: and it is left-wing Israeli paper Ha’aretz, according to Quartz, also our source for this striking graphic by Gilad Lotan for Betaworks.
What Ebola on a plane means for the U.S.: The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is causing alarmist headlines across the world. You wouldn't think Ebola would be high among the concerns of the average American, but it's exciting an obsessive amount of interest there, as in this Daily Beast piece.
One year in: 10 ways The Washington Post has changed under Jeff Bezos: So how has The Washington Post changed since Amazon's Jeff Bezos bought it last year? Not as much as some might have expected, to judge by this DigiDay piece.
8 new titles, including the London Evening Standard: New newspaper titles keep being added to the roster of the British Newspaper Archive, and new titles added including the Evening Standard (for 1860, 1861, 1862, 1866, 1867 so far) and Glasgow Daily Record (1914, 1915) with more to follow. There are 8 million pages on the site; the target is 40 million (by 2020).
How the BBC approaches longform, immersive storytelling: Giles Wilson, features editor for BBC News Online, tells journalism.co.uk about the art of multimedia online journalism work.
Russia enacts 'draconian' law for bloggers and online media: The BBC reports on the new law passed in Russia which says that bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with Roskomnadzor, the mass media regulator, and conform to regulations that govern the country's larger media outlets.
Should news get personal? Emotion and objectivity in the face of suffering: We were a bit late in discovering this post from Charlie Beckett at the LSE's Journalism and Society Think Tank Polis blog, but it's a thought-provoking (and comment-provoking) piece on whether journalists should get emotionally involved in their stories (with specific reference to Channel 4 News' Jon Snow's The Children of Gaza video.
01 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.
Jon Snow has opinions, and they’re fit for TV: Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow's heartfelt account of the child victims in Gaza went viral this week. James Ball at The Guardian praises its sentiments, notes that such partiality would have probably breached Ofcom guidelines (the video was not shown on Channel 4 News itself, only its YouTube channel), and calls for more opinion to be allowed for broadcast journalists:
What then is gained by making people who have opinions withhold them? Journalists’ views shape the questions they ask, the people they interview, the images they choose to show, and more. The current system requires those judgments, and the reasons behind them, to be hidden from the audience in a pretence of impartiality.
The conflict in Gaza has generated impassionated debate among academics and media practitioners around questions of bias, partiality and media control. Among these are Michael Chanan's Behind the news at Gaza at his Putney Debater blog, Justin Schlosberg's Media wars over Gaza at Open Democracy.net, Paul Mason's Why Israel is losing the social media war over Gaza for Channel 4 News, Surabhi Vaya at First Post, Gaza: How bias affects coverage of Israel-Palestine conflict, and Glenn Greenwald at Intercept, Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza. Some of the fiercest debate has been around the perceived role of the BBC. Ian Burrell at The Independent surveys this in With Charter Renewal on the horizon, complaints over Gaza are dangerous for BBC.
Net roots of BuzzFeed plagiarism: BuzzFeed apologised this week that one of its writers, Benny Johnson (now sacked) had been guilty of plagiarism - and provided links to all the affected stories. Dylan Byers at POLITICO puts the blame on the Internet, presssure of production and lack of journalism training (though in the same week The Times's tennis correspondent has been suspended after plagiarising work for a tennis yearbook and a reporter at the New York Times accused of copying from Wikipedia).
MH17: how Storyful’s ‘social sleuthing’ helped verify evidence: Ben Carter at The Guardian on how News Corp-owned Storyful has been verifying content from Twitter and YouTube to get to the truth behind the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Social media has changed the way that war reporting works - and that's a good thing: Mathew Ingram at Gigaom finds that the influence of social media on war reporting has made the news more personal, more chaotic, and more democratic.
Spain likely to pass 'Google Tax': Spain has approved a bill giving newspaper publishers the right to seek payment from any site that links to their content. TechDirt is sceptical, pointing out that a similar case in Belgium led to Google simply removing the affected newspapers from the local Google news, the result of which was the newspapers ended up asking to be let back in after they suffered a drop in revenue.
Sarah Palin's low-budget TV channel is pricier than Netflix: Sarah Palin has launched an online news channel, to widespread mockery. "We'll go beyond the sound bites and the media's politically correct filter to get to the truth," she promises.
The newsonomics of how and why: Ken Doctor at Nieman Journalism Lab asks whether explanatory or data journalism (exciting much interest in the USA) can expand to cover news on a more local level.
At front lines, bearing witness in real time: David Carr at New York Times ponders what the impact is on us now that we can follow wars in real time, and the impact that it is having on journalists (including Anne Barnard at the New York Times, criticised by some for not tweeting from Gaza.
Drama in Crimea: From the days when war reports would take weeks to reach their public, but had a seismic effect once they did so, Roy Greenslade reviews a new collection, Battles in the Crimea, which gathers together William H. Russell's renowned reports for The Times on the Crimean war of 1854.
In 1858, people said the telegraph was 'too fast for the truth': Also on the theme of the speed by which information reaches us, Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic uncovers an 1858 New York Times article which complained that the telegraph brought the news too quickly too it public.
Superficial, sudden, unsifted, too fast for the truth, must be all telegraphic intelligence. Does it not render the popular mind too fast for the truth? Ten days bring us the mails from Europe. What need is there for the scraps of news in ten minutes? How trivial and paltry is the telegraphic column?
LaFrance points out how new technologies invariably upset our sense of time and control.
Boy, 4, has mark of devil: The Sun's bizarre choice of a front page story for 29 July 1914 ("A sinister Satan sign that mysteriously appeared on a four-year-old boy is proving a devil to explain") has generated reactions from bafflement to rage.
25 July 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.
Map showing evidence of Buk surface-to-air missile position in Donetsk region of Ukraine, with geo-located links, created by Storyful
How social sleuthing uncovered evidence of surface-to-air missile systems in eastern Ukraine: News about news has been dominated this week by the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine. This powerful blog post from the NewsCorp-owned verification service Storyful shows how effective it has been at analysing information from social networks, YouTube and other sources to get at the truth behind the claims and counter-claims.
There have been a number of other pieces this week which focus on the verification of information, particularly images and videos, with a focus on Ukraine. The title of Julie Posetti's piece for PBS Mediashift, When Good People Share Bad Things: The Basics of Social Media Verification picks up on the worry people have about sharing false information and explains the verifcation process, which involves the source of a piece of content, and the content itself. Jihii Jolly at Columbia Journalism Review offers help on How to check if that viral video is true, steessing that the rise in user-generated contents makes it imperative for journalists to question before using. Kevin Loker at American Press Institute gives us How to find out if a photo your friend posted online is fake, and at Gigaom Mathew Ingram says Want to help fact-check breaking news like the Malaysian airplane disaster? Here's how and where you can do it, providing a handy a guide to verification communities and tools.
Graphic content: when photographs of carnage are too upsetting to publish: Roger Tooth, The Guardian's Head of Photography, explains the decision-making process behind selection or otherwise of news images from stories such as Gaza and MH17. (Warning: graphic content).
RT “Covers” the Shooting Down of MH17: Adam Holland at The Interpreter (an online journal presented translated material from the Russian press and blogosphere) offers a scathing analysis of how RT, aka Russia Today, the state-owned TV channel, reacted to the downing of MH17.
Russia Today London correspondent resigns in protest at 'disrespect for facts' over Malaysian plane crash: Press Gazette piece on Sarah Firth who declared that RT's coverage of the air crash was the last straw. "[I]t’s the level of disrespect for the facts that really bugs me." she says. RT commented:
Sara has declared that she chooses the truth; apparently we have different definitions of truth. We believe that truth is what our reporters see on the ground, with their own eyes, and not what’s printed in the morning London newspaper. In our coverage, RT, unlike the rest of the media, did not draw conclusions before the official investigation has even begun. We show all sides of the story, even if everyone else has already decided which side is to blame.
From outrage to recrimination: How the media covered the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: Chris Boffey at The Drum looks at how the British news media reacted to the immediate news of the MH17 crash.
MH17, my error of judgment: Sky News' Colin Brazier has been roundly condemned for a live news broadcast, lunchimte July 20th, when he briefly looked through the content of the luggage of one of the victims of MH17. Here he apologies via The Guardian in a sincere and interesting piece of how a journalist faces up to horror, while live on air.
South Sudan humanitarian crisis: The poor media coverage highlights the flaws in news gathering: Perhaps the most powerful piece about news production this week has come from Ian Burrell at The Independent, looking at how the absence of media coverage in South Sudan has had a tragic impact on people's lives:
The tragedy of South Sudan highlights a number of basic flaws in modern news. Despite the breadth of online information, the major news providers still play an essential role in bringing humanitarian stories to the public’s attention. It is the misfortune of the starving and homeless in South Sudan that their agony coincides with the appalling turmoil in Syria, Gaza and Ukraine.
Minus proper archives, news outlets risk losing years of backstories forever: Another essential read, this time from Columbia Journalism Review, looking at the possibility and dangers of losing news archives in the digital area.
The 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood’s extraordinary career: The career of The Sun and The News of the World's notorious entrapment specialist, Mazeer Mahmood - the 'fake Sheikh' - may have come to an end after the collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos. Ian Burrell tells his story.
High value, low income: report reveals trends in hyperlocal publishing: A handy summary from Journalism.co.uk of the key points from the recent academic report The State of Hyperlocal Community News in the UK.
Readers, viewers, browsers: it's time to count them all and unify the ratings: Peter Preston at The Observer calls for the unification of audience research.
Ashley Highfield - interview: InPublishing interviews Ashley Highfield, CEO of regional newspaper publisher Johnson Press, on the digital revolution he is bringing about.
I don’t want cannabilisation of what is our biggest source of revenue (print). The great thing about the regional press is it’s not like the Guardian where people stop buying print and consume online. Actually we have pretty much created a new audience online who never bought us in print.
Newspapers begin to challenge broadcasters in video storytelling: Douglas Grant at World News Publishing Focus explains how newspapers are marking their mark with online video.
Reddit Live is now official, lets anyone create their own breaking news live blog: This could could be a major step in the growth of alternative news publishing. The hugely popular social networking and news service Reddit has launched Reddit Live, which lets anyone create their own breaking news service (including tweets, videos etc).
The Sun says farewell to Wapping with special souvenir staff issue: The staff of The Sun left Wapping on 18 July, as they set up home in London Bridge. Roy Greenslade looks at the souvenir issue produced for staff to mark the momentous occasion.
18 July 2014
Hyperlocal map: Talk About Local has produced a 'heat map' of the hyperlocal sites around the UK, based on data from the Openly Local database. Delve in and see how the local news made locally revolution has spread.
Report around the clock: Fascinating piece by Joseph Lichterman at Nieman Journalism Lab on how news organisations use time zones to their advantage to operate a 24/7 service, including Bild, The Guardian and Wall Street Journal.
Hey, Publishers: Stop fooling us, and yourselves: David Boardman says too many newspaper companies says too many newspapers executives (in the US) are deluded about the financial future and maybe ought to stop printing newspapers altogether.
Robots are invading the news business, and it’s great for journalists: So here's a piece of journalism for you:
Alcoa Inc. (AA) on Tuesday reported a second-quarter profit of $138 million, reversing a year-ago loss, and the results beat analysts' expectation. The company reported strong results in its engineered-products business, which makes parts for industrial customers, while looking to cut costs in its aluminum-smelting segment.
It was produced by a robot (a piece of software anywhere) which is generating business news stories for AP. Kevin Roose at New York magazine reckons this bright new future will give human journalists more time to concentrate on less humdrum stories.
The Daily Mail's 'historic 1914 edition' is not quite as billed...: The Daily Mail produced a First World War facsimile issue. Roy Greenslade takes in to task for not being up front about the fact that the 'paper' has been set like a modern newspaper.
Latest ABCs show newspaper market decline running at 8% a year: More from Greenslade, reporting on the latest ABC figures for newspapers, which show a general market decline, though some times (The Times, The Guardian) and beginning to buck the trend.
About i100: First there was The Independent, then there was i, now we have i100, a Buzzfeed-style news site launched this week by ESI Media with a list of numbered stories (called The List), the top one being the most popular (there's a voting system with each story having an 'upvote' button). The top 5 for today are all on the shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine.
BBC News to cut a further 415 jobs: BBC News currently employs 8,400 people. 415 jobs are to be cut as part of cost-saving measures. 195 new jobs will be created. Net loss = 220.
The tale of the women who turned vigilante: the BBC News Magazine has been running a series of entertaining pieces by Jeremy Clay on bizarre stories culled from nineteenth-century newspapers. Entitled 'Victorian Strangeness', this example from the series retells an incident from 1878, the moral of which is don't mess with the women of the Forest of Dean.
British blogger Brown Moses launches new site to train others in crowdsourced reporting: Self-taught investigative journalist Brown Moses (aka Elliott Higgins) is looking to pass on his skills to others through a new site called Bellingcat. The admiring Mathew Ingram at Gigaom tells the story.
If newspapers are dying, no one's told the Farnham Herald: Peter Preston agrees with local newspaper publisher Sir Ray Tindle's optimism that print's not dead, yet.
Journalism that matters: Jon Slattery at InPublishing writes in praises of the many examples of serious journalism practised in the UK that make a real difference to the communities that they serve.
The reading experience: This blog writes admiringly of the excellent Reading Experience Database, which reproduces written testimony of reading 1450-1945, including newspapers, and asks what sort of a newspaper history we have if it doesn't consider the readers.
11 July 2014
Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news. It may be summer holiday time, but there is so much going on - George Clooney taking on Mail Online (and winning), the fallout from the phone hacking trial, BBC TV news at 60 (supposedly), the rise of hyperlocal news, and lots of digitised newspapers being added online.
Via USA Today
Exclusive: Clooney responds to 'Daily Mail' report: This week's news lesson is that there are some things in this world that wield greater power than Mail Online, and one of those is George Clooney. The American actor reacted furiously to a story about his future mother-in-law via USA Today with a strong critique of its newsgathering ethos. An apology from Mail Online followed swiftly after, and the story was removed from its website (it still exists, in reduced form, in the separately edited print version).
'Yes journalists have broken the law, and we should be pleased and proud that they did': An impassioned post-Coulson piece from Mick Hume for Press Gazette, on how journalists have broken the law or broken rules in the past to uncover the truth, from John Wilkes in the 18th century, to WT Stead in the 19th, to the Sunday Times investigative team in the 20th.
Of course journalists are "not above the law". But neither should they be subject to special prosecution and persecution, as has happened in the UK over the past three years with the arrest of more than 60 tabloid journalists. Strangely, few of those high-minded media types at the BBC or Channel 4 news now protesting about the jailing of journalists in Egypt have offered a peep of protest about the criminalisation of tabloid journalism in Britain – and not because anybody has taped over their mouths.
BBC TV News reaches 60-year milestone: BBC News celebrates the sixtienth anniversary of its first TV news bulletin on 5 July 1954., with Richard Baker reading the headlines (he wouldn't be seen on screen for another three years). Strictly speaking, BBC TV news started in January 1948 with Television Newsreel, unmentioned in this anniversary piece, which is otherwise a great summary of how its news has developed into the age of 24-hour channels and the Internet.
Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton on Rebekah, Rupert, paywalls and filling the gap left by the News of the World: A great interview in Press Gazette with Victoria Newton, editor of Sun of Sunday, on thriving in a changing world:
Obviously in terms of print it’s a declining market ... A huge chunk of readers went out of the market with the News of the World. About 800,000 readers just went, which is devastating because you find it very hard to get them back – especially in the digital world.
Newspaper industry to review audience count metrics: Interesting. The Drum reports that Newsworks, the marketing body for UK national newspapers is to conduct a review of audience measurement metrics for the industry to reflect the changing ways in which we now read the papers, from print and laptops to tablets and mobile.
The New Yorker alters its online strategy: and while it does so, the magazine will be making making all the articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers. The offer starts 21 July.
Punch Historical Archive goes online: The Punch Historical Archive has gone online, with 7,900 issues (200,000 pages) from all volumes of the satirical magazine published between 1841–1992 now available via the Gale NewsVault to subscribing institutions.
The Whitstable Times, 23 December 1950, Image © Local World Limited
240,000 extra newspaper pages from 1752-1954: Keen-eyed newspaper archive watchers will have noticed that the number of pages being added to the British Newspaper Archive is double or more per month what it used to be. 240,000 extra pages were added in June for the period 1752-1954, including the Lichfield Mercury, Selkirk’s Southern Reporter, the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald and the Illustrated Times.
Diving into newspaper archives: Chronicling America: We're big on digitised newspaper archives this week, which is great. Here's a really useful Europeana Newspapers interview with Deborah Thomas from the Library of Congress' online newspaper archive Chronicling America.
Newspapers in Europe and the Digital Agenda for Europe: Yet more on digitised newspapers: the British Library is hosting a Europeana Newspapers workshop 29-30 September, which will be in two parts: What is the value of newspapers? and Barriers to improving access to digitised newspapers.
The state of hyperlocal community news in the UK: Two AHRC-funded projects at the universities of Cardiff, Birmingham City and Westminster have combined to produce this clear, useful and timely report into the state of hyperlocal news (including asking such pertinent questions as How local is hyperlocal?).
Press freedom is being frustrated as privacy becomes new libel: Thought-provoking piece in The Standard from Roy Greenslade on the threats to journalism he sees in the European Court of Justice's 'right to be forgotten' ruling and the UK's Data Protection Act:
Privacy has become the new libel, and the loser in the long run will be the people who misguidedly think of “the media” as some kind of homogeneous evil institution. In fact, it is there for them, not against them.
A $52 million loss, but a good year for The Guardian: Columbia Journalism Review looks admiringly at how The Guardian's ownership by the Scott Trust has enabled it to paper to experiment and expand digitally across the globe. On the same theme, Gideon Spanier at The Independent interviews Andrew Millar, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group in a post strikingly titled The death of the newspaper has been exaggerated (which is not the same thing as the print newspaper, please note). Having an £843M investment fund certainly helps.
Sir Ray Tindle 'totally convinced' of almost complete return to 'full viability' for local press: More from the newspaper optimism corner. Ray Tindle of publishing group Tindle Newspapers sees the turning of the corner for the local press.
Why you can no longer expect that the news will find you: Tom Krazit at Gigaom warns us on how corporations such as Facebook and Google control the flow of news they think we want to see. Talking of which, All Tech Considered looks at searching for news stories on the World Cup and discovers that in Google Newsroom, Brazil defeat is not a headline.
Beacon Reader's crowdfunding platform now lets supporters fund topics as well as journalists: There are crowdfunded journalism startups that let you fund specific journalists; now how about funding individual topics you'd like to see covered? Mathew Ingram at Gigaom looks at one example, Beacon Reader.
Rolf Harris sentencing made Saturday a good day to bury bad news about the jailing of a national newspaper editor: How Rolf helped bury Andy, with Press Gazette asking why.
04 July 2014
Forgotten, but not gone
Google Removes Robert Peston's BBC Article Because Someone Wanted It 'Forgotten': The European court decision allowing individual to request that Google remove links to historical articles which have personal information that they would rather was forgotten may have backfired in this case. The request to have a 2007 BBC News article on former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O' Neal by economics editor Robert Peston taken down has caused the article in question to go viral, as Huffington Post reports. On the same subject, David Meyer at Gigaom looks at other examples of news stories that have been taken down and asks Why is Google really removing links to news articles in Europe?
Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan named most influential UK journalist on social media: Press Gazette's Social Media Awards have named @PiersMorgan as the most influential UK journalist on social media. The former Daily Mirror editor was hotly followed in the top 50 names by @CaitlinMoran, @PaulWaugh, @JohnRentoul and @fleetstreetfox.
How to build a healthy news diet: Columbia Journalism Review draws an intriguing parallel between food consumption and news consumption. There's too much to eat so we get overweight; there's too much information out there so we get overwhelmed and fail to show discrimination. But what is a 'healthy' news item?
Welcome: our website is now open to the world: Good news for international journalism students - the BBC's College of Journalism site is now free to use for anyone worldwide (previously there was a paywall for non-UK users), at least for a trial 12-month period.
Once humbled, but now risen: the Murdochs march ahead: How badly do you think things have been going for the Murdochs recently. Peter Preston looks at the numbers - three years ago News Corps' value was $35Bn. Today it is $88Bn.
Attorney General backs down on plan to censor news archives to avoid contempt risk: Attorney General Dominic Grieve has withdrawn clauses in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that would have given him powers to order the removal of online archive news stories in the run-up to a criminal trial, reports Press Gazette.
AP will use robots to write some business stories: The future is now. Poynter reports that AP is to start using automation technology to produce stories about earnings reports. "Instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter", says the managing editor.
Source: Ofcom data, Guardian visualisation
How popular are the internet and apps for news consumption?: Guardian DataBlog looks behind the figures from the recent Ofcom report into news consumption in the UK, whose headline finding was that 41% of UK adults get their news from the internet or apps, just ahead of those who do so through newspapers (40%). Where is Mail Online on the above graphic? Is it not viewed as a news source?
In Philadelphia, the Internet Archive is assembling a new way to monitor campaigns on TV: The Internet Archive is documenting congressional elections in Philadelphia through the mass capture of television broadcasts and web sites. Nieman Journalism Lab reports:
The goal: to provide data for journalists and researchers interested in tracking the media landscape and understanding how political messages — and dollars — move through the system. Using text from closed captioning as well as metadata organized by volunteer viewers, the Philadelphia archive will be searchable by region, station, and date, as well as by campaign issue or ad sponsor.
Citizen journalism pioneer Brown Moses is launching a site for crowdsourced reporting: Brown Moses (aka British blogger Elliot Higgins) has built up great expertise and reputation through his sifting of social media and YouTube to concover information on the war in Syria. Now he's planning a site to be called Bellingcat which will be a home for other citizen journalists, with tools to teach them his trade.
News reference workshops: The British Library is setting up a series of regular workshops for anyone who wants to know how to use our news research services. They're free, and we hope useful.
Why is this lying bastard lying to me?: This blog traces the history of the news interview from the mid-19th century through to Twitter.
'A concrete box full of stories...a building packed with life' - Yorkshire Post's Leeds HQ is razed to the ground: Jill Parkin, a former Yorkshire Post writer, writes wistfully about the demolishing of the newspaper's old home and a lost era of newspaper production.
On-the-run prisoner contacts newspaper over ‘mistake’: We all want our newspapers to tell the truth, even if we are a prisoner on the run contacting the Sheffield Star to tell them they have got details of our home area wrong. Hold the Front Page has the heartening story.
02 July 2014
Jeremy Paxman, who recently hosted the BBC's Newsnight for the last time, has cited the words attributed to Times foreign correspondent Louis Heren that make up the title of this post as inspiration for his method as an interviewer. It says a great deal about the news interview as it is now understood, and the function of the news producer. News may in part be about holding those in power to account, but should its starting point be the belief that its subjects are liars? How did the news interview become so inquisitorial, and will it remain so?
Jeremy Paxman interviewing Michael Howard, Newsnight, tx. 13 May 1997
It is interesting that in the same week Paxman stood down, with many commentators discussing his contribution to the art of interviewing, some of the first ever filmed interviews were honoured with an inscription on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register. The Hepworth Cinema Interviews are a series of 36 filmed interviews with UK public figures (Lloyd George, Herbert Asquith, Bonar Law and others) made by film producer Cecil Hepworth in 1916. The subjects were invited to give comments on the war and what would follow after it. This was the era of silent films, so the subjects mouth their answers to the camera, with their words being reproduced through intertitles. There is no onscreen interviewer - these are just statements made to the camera. Rather than being any sort of radical development, they are interviews in the tradition of nineteenth century newspaper interviews - pronouncements from the elite, with the media serving as the willing vehicles for such pronouncements.
Lloyd George's words as intertitles from the Hepworth Cinema Interviews, courtesy of National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales
Interviews in newspapers are generally accepted to have appeared in the USA in the 1860s and in the UK in the 1880s, where they were often viewed - often with suspicion - as an American innovation. The American journalist James Gordon Bennett is credited in some quarters with having 'invented' the newspaper interview in 1836 with his verbatim transcript of a conversation he allegedly had with Rosina Townsend, a witness in the trial of the murderer of a New York prostitute Helen Jewett, which was published in the New York Herald. Other cite the interview conducted by Horace Greeley with Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon religion, and published in the New York Daily Tribune of 20 August 1859 as being the first interview as we would now recognise it.
Part of Horace Greeley's interview with Brigham Young, New York Daily Tribune, 20 August 1859, p. 5, from Chronicling America
But newspaper interviews were not 'invented' - they grew out particular changes to the medium. The process of interviewing is as old as journalism itself, so one can trace it back to the 17th century at least. Journalists find the information they require often by asking someone questions, and then using the replies they receive as the substance of their report. That is interviewing, and Daniel Defoe employed it as a news reporter for his Weekly Review much as today's journalists do 400 years later. Interviewing is integral to how news is understood - see how often news readers on TV and radio ask questions of reporters, experts and other interviewees, extracting what we need to know through that dialogue.
The interview as a formal newspaper feature emerged in the mid-19th century, as newspapers turned from being vehicles for partisan standpoints to broadly factual reporting. This included the use of direct quotation. The evidence became all the more important, and what better evidence could there be than the words spoken by the subjects themselves, in answer to the questions put by trustworthy journalists? Of course, it was also part of that process by which "news gathering turned into news making", as Daniel Boorstin writes in The Image, where he labels the interview as one of his 'pseudo-events' - events artificially created in order that they may be reported. The interview is not what happened but rather what the media has caused to happen.
Interview with Lily Langtry (in which she complains about being interviewed so often), Pall Mall Gazette, 29 October 1892 p. 3. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
However, the nineteenth century newspaper interview was a far cry from the investigative and combative interviews of today. The interviews that British journalists such as William Howard Russell (The Times), George Augustus Sala (Daily Telegraph) and W.T. Stead (Pall Mall Gazette) produced were the pronouncements of the great and the celebrated who had reason to use the press for self-promotion. Stead undoubtedly helped establish the interview as a standard newspaper device by his enthusiastic adoption of the form, part of the 'New Journalism' revolution of the 1880s which placed great emphasis on the personal, through devices such as the interview. As well as his own interviews with figures such as Tsar Alexander III and Pope Leo XIII, Stead employed Hulda Friederichs as 'chief interviewer' at the Pall Mall Gazette from 1882 (women journalists were considered to have a particular aptitude for interviewing). Unfortunately interviewers are seldom named in newspapers from this period, making it difficult to trace the work of particular reporters.
The subjects of late nineteenth century newspaper interviews give their opinion on the experience in this piece from Pall Mall Gazette, 31 December 1890, p. 3. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Interviews in newspapers in the late 19th century tended towards celebrities from the world of entertainment. Politicians were wary of the practice, and saw little advantage in indulging requests to give interviews, when what they had to say could be heard on public platforms or read in Hansard. As A.J. Balfour says in the quote above, "this channel of communication must be rarely required by English politicians considering the great increase in platform speaking which has taken place during the last twenty years." Instead the interview became primarily the feature of journals such as the 'Illustrated Interviews' in George Newnes' Strand Magazine - light reading for those who wanted some personal insights into the lives of the famous. Interviews in newspapers were to become more searching as the new century began, particularly in America, but it would be new technologies that would help transform them.
The first sound interview (probably). Interview by Phonograph with Edison agent Colonel George Gouraud, as recorded by the Pall Mall Gazette, 24 July 1888, p. 1. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
A startlingly early intimation of how thing could change occured in July 1888 when the UK agent for Thomas Edison's Phonograph sound recording machine was 'interviewed' by the Pall Mall Gazette, boasting of how a sound recording would provide a 'faithful report of the conversation' (intimating that not all newspaper interviews were so faithful to the words spoken). This was in all probablity the first sound interview, but although the Phonograph and later technologies such as the Dictaphone were used to record famous voices and as dictation devices in the early 1900s, it would be decades before they were adopted for news reporting.
Colonel Gouraud (left) being interviewed by an unidentified journalist from the Pall Mall Gazette, with the Phonograph recording the meeting, July 1888. From British Library Sound Archive collection.
Projected film appeared in 1896, but it proved a medium ill-suited to interviews. Attempts were rare and seldom successful, even after films gained sound in the late 1920s, with the few efforts from the cinema newsreels being short statements delivered in stilted fashion that offered little advance on the Hepworth interviews of 1916. What gave the news interview new life was radio, which began in the early 1920s. This gave the interview greater credibility, through the chance it gave the public to hear the subject's voice, through the live nature of radio, and because the interviewer's questions gave the sense of a process of interrogation, a driving towards the truth. BBC radio interviews of the 1920s-50s were seldom adversarial, being more in the way of civilised conversations, but the greater power had now been offered to the public to judge what was delivered to them, be it the words spoken or the ways in which those words were spoken.
It took live television to make the news interview come into its own, a process not for delivering statements but instead a contest for the truth.
Leslie Mitchell interviewing Anthony Eden for a Conservative party political broadcast, BBC tx. 16 October 1951. From University of Sheffield's Department of Journalism Studies' YouTube channel
Television's first news-related interviews were a disappointment. The BBC's Leslie Mitchell's pre-planned interview with prime minister Anthony Eden for a Conservative party election broadcast in 1951 has become notorious for its stilted obsequiousness, even if it was viewed as a technical success at the time. Mitchell asks:
Good evening. I would just like to say that, as an interviewer, and as I what I hope you will believe to be an unbiased member of the electorate, I'm most grateful to Mr Anthony Eden for inviting me to cross-question him on the present political issues ... Well now, Mr Eden, with your very considerable experience of foreign affairs, it's quite obvious that I should start by asking you something about the international situation today, or perhaps you would prefer to talk about home. Which is it to be?
Supine as this was, it did show at least an understanding of how television was ideally suited to the question-and-answer format, counterbalancing formality with informality. The first step on the road from here to Paxman came in 1955, when Robin Day brought a new forthrightness to television interviewing at ITN, two notable highlights being his sharp questioning of President Nasser in 1955 and his interview with prime minister Harold Macmillan in 1958, where what might now seem a fairly tame question asking about criticism that had been made of the foreign secretary Selwyn Lloyd was seen by some as shockingly intrusive, not least because you could see Macmillan thinking about his answer before delivering it. The interview was letting the viewer be the judge, exposing what might be the truth between the lines.
The adversarial quality of the television news interview grew throughout the 60s and 70s, in tandem with the emergence of a less deferential, more determinedly democratic society. Television was becoming the forum for public debate. The medium delighted in getting the upper hand, as demonstrated by David Frost's interrogation of the fraudster Emil Savundra and the revelations that he coaxed out of Richard Nixon. The goal of the interview came to be the revelation of the truth, hoping by a process of seeking out weak points to lead the subject into revealing something they would rather not have made public. The interviewee was no longer someone who had deigned to share some selected information with us all. They were now lying bastards, and their lies had to be exposed.
Interviews on radio likewise became less polite and increasingly forensic. BBC programmes launched in late 1960s/early 70s such as The World at One, Analysis and It's Your Line (a programme hosted by Robin Day, in which the public phoned in questions to ask of the interviewee) made the interview central to a process of burrowing beneath the headlines to uncover what was really happening. The Today programme moved away from its cosy beginnings to become the programme opinion makers had to listen to and had to appear on. This was particularly on account of presenter Brian Redhead's refusal to doff his hat to anyone in power, as in his famous response (in a 1987 interview) to Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson accusing him of bias through being a supporter of the Labour party:
Do you think we should have a one-minute silence now in this interview, one for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote, and secondly perhaps in memory of monetarism, which you've now discarded?
Politicians accountable to an electorate had little choice but to appear before the cameras and microphones, but as television became bolder so they responded through increasingly sophisticated media training. The art of not answering, or of turning the interview to your advantage arose. Margaret Thatcher was well trained in interviewing techniques and image management, through the guidance of former TV producer Gordon Reece, but it was the Labour government of 1997 that turned control of message into an artform (guided by another former TV producer, Peter Mandelson).
A power game arose between politicians and the news media over the communication and interpretation of the message, with the interview as the battleground. There was an increased desire on the part of the media to use the interview to extract revelations, matched by an increased determination from their subjects to reveal no more than they had been instructed to reveal. Sharp interviewers such as Paxman for Newsnight and John Humphrys for Today gained praise for their tough questioning and refusal to be hoodwinked, but the praise was sometimes more for the stance than any illumination obtained about the subject discussed. Paxman's celebrated 1997 interview with Michael Howard in which the interviewer asked the same question twelve times did little to inform its audience, for whom the point that the subject was not going to answer the question could have been made after two or three attempts.
Jon Snow and Alastair Campbell, Channel 4 News tx. 27 June 2003
Interviews turned into theatre, perhaps most famously when Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's Director of Communications, turned up unannounced at Channel 4 News on 27 June 2003 and was interviewed by Jon Snow on the Iraq 'dodgy dossier'. The result was a tour de force on both sides, a great interview of sorts but primarily a startling display of political passion. Politicians understandably prefer softer rides - Margaret Thatcher's interviewer of choice was Radio 2's Jimmy Young, for example. Equally, one of the marks of a successful politician has come to be how well they can deal with the toughest interviews. It is a trial of strength, as much as anything.
Interviews on television and radio flourish on non-news programmes of course. From Face to Face to Parkinson, to Piers Morgan's Life Stories there has been a consistent focus on celebrity and the personal revelation, teased out through a bonding between interviewer and subject. Interviews continue to be a mainstay of newspapers, or their associated magazines, where some of the dangers inherent in a live interview are lost and both sides have greater control over what is said. The interviewee will have their press adviser by their side, determining what can or cannot be covered; the interviewer can fill out the verbal testimony with background impressions, barbed or otherwise. Both sides have control, though it is still a battlefield, a game of attack and defence.
HARDtalk interviews, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/n13xtmdc/clips
A good example of the news interview programme of today is the BBC World series HARDtalk, first broadcast in 1997 with Tim Sebastian as the interviewer and now Stephen Sackur asking the questions, is a model of how two intelligent minds, with good preparation, can discuss issues of the day in a form that is a genuine questing for the truth. This is not news manufactured as pseudo-event - it is rational and vital extension of what is news. Nor is it a question of exposing liars (usually) - it is using the time-honoured process of question and answer to come to an understanding.
Tweets from a Twitter interview with US Vice President Joe Biden, 26 January 2012
Where next for the news interview? HARDtalk is a good programme, but quite traditional in format. Newspaper interviews continue, but seem more about drawing out character than setting the news agenda. The online world is developing new ways in which subjects can be interviewed, which involved the general public much more, such as Twitter discussions, while BuzzFeed's interview of 29 May 2014 with Ed Miliband (the one in which he said it was a good idea not to read the newspapers) transfers the magazine-style interview with illustrations to a web format in a way that resfreshes the interview form. Al Jazeera's web/TV programme hybrid The Stream is an example of how engagement through interviews is being adapted for a multi-platform world, and television interviews can feature questions posted by social media (see, for example, Glenn Greenwald's interview for NBC on 18 May 2014). The growth of citizen journalism may make anyone into a potential interviewer, with all of the hazards as well as the advantages that suggests.
In such a world, the traditional confrontation between interviewer and interviewee begins to look like it belongs to another age, an age when current affairs television (and radio) served as the forum for public engagement with the issues of the hour. That forum is increasingly located elsewhere, and the interview will have to adapt accordingly if it is to continue to be meaningful. It may not be so combative or theatrical as it has been in the past; it will undoubtedly be more social. It will be less constrained by space (as is the case with newspapers) or time (as is the case with television and radio). Consequently it may either be freer in form or hampered by a lack of discipline. The questions demanding answers remain the same; just who will be asking them looks certain to change.
- The Hepworth Cinema Interviews are held by the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales - a press release on the UNESCO recognition is here, and a catalogue record for the films is here
- Michael Cockerell's Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television (1988) is insightful and full of great anecdotes and quotations (such as the Eden-Mitchell interview quoted above)
- On interviewing in Victorian newspapers, see Lucy Brown, Victorian News and Newspapers (1985) and Laurel Brake, Marysa Demoor (eds.), Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism (Gent/London: Academia Press, British Library, 2009)
- The Pall Mall Gazette for the period 1865-1900 has been digitised and is available online via the British Newspaper Archive
- On Hulda Friedrichs and other women journalists of the nineteenth century, see F. Elizabeth Grey (ed.), Women in Journalism at the Fin de Siècle: 'Making a Name for Herself' (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
- On the technique of modern interviews, see Steven Clayman and John Heritage, The News Interview: Journalists and Public Figures on the Air (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
- The Radio Times has a list with links of 'the greatest broadcast interviews of all time', including Campbell v Snow, Paxman v Howard, Frost v Nixon, and John Nott walking out on Robin Day
27 June 2014
Jon Snow silenced. Screengrab from Channel 4 News tx 23/6/2014
Outrage as Egypt jails Al Jazeera staff: On Monday an Egyptian court sentence two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail and one to ten years in jail for supposedly aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and producing false news reports of the situation in Egypt. Protests against the sentences handed down to Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed have been made worldwide, with journalists in many newsrooms taking part in a symbolic taping-up of mouths (as demonstrated by Channel 4 News) and the hashtags #journalismisnotacrime and #FreeAJStaff.
Inside the Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson Trial: At the end of the epic phone hacking trial former 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 of conspiracy to hack voicemails, two counts of conspiracy to pay public officials and two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Drum's coverage of the phone hacking trial has been particularly interesting and clear in how it has presented the unfolding story.
Hacking trial verdict: Coulson guilty and Brooks cleared, but end of an era for the red tops: George Brocks' piece for Contributoria views the phone hacking trial verdict from an historical perspective and sees as marking the end of an era for the British tabloid press. From the same source, Steven Barnett says that the hacking trial was just round one in the fight to rescue journalism, while Richard Sambrook writes on how the hacking trial highlighted the cosy relationship between politicians and the press.
No ordinary newspaper: A good overview of the News of the World and how the hacking trial came about and unfolded from Dominic Casciani for BBC News Magazine.
Everything You Need To Know About The Phone Hacking Trial: Or else sample Patrick Smith's handy Buzzfeed guide.
How many media academics does it take to work out what's going on?: A pithy analysis from David Hepworth on why reading news on a screen is not the same as reading as newspaper, and how we are never going to go back to such habits:
It's no longer anything to do with the news the papers happen to provide, which is what the world of media academics spends its time fretting about. It's entirely a question of how users behave. Tech understands this, which is why it changes its products all the time in response to the way they're used. No wonder it's stolen the media's lunch.
Digital news as popular as newspapers for first time: So here's the tipping point - 41% of people in the UK are using online news sources while 40% use newspapers, according to Ofcom's News Consumption in the UK report. But TV news remains by far and away the most used (75%).
CNN to study drone use in newsgathering: Are drones the future of newsgathering? CNN is investigating its further use and regulation, while concerns remain in the US over its legality.
Kodomoroid (she's the one on the left), from Sky News
Android Anchorman: robot newsreader unveiled: More from the world of robot journalism, and Sky News reports on Kodomoroid, a Japanese invention claimed to be the world's first newsreading android (does no one remember Ananova?).
Who will produce stories for the Mail to copy if it drives its rivals to the wall?: News Corp has been protesting at the Mail Online's launch in Australia, with its practice of reusing others' news stories ('churnalism'). Roy Greenslade points out that 'copy theft' is nothing new in newspaper journalism, but wonders if the logical extension to the culture of re-use is ultimately self-defating, as the title of his piece indicates.
Mail Online stays top with 11m daily browsers: Meanwhile, Mail Online remains far and away the most popular UK news site, with just over 11m daily global browsers per day. Press Gazette's report on the latest ABC figures shows that all national newspaper websites which had figures available showed strong year on year growth in May, with Metro the fastest growing newspaper website audited by ABC.
Newsnight really doesn't make the weather any more: A sharp piece from Peter Preston at The Observer on how too much of current affairs television is failing to reinvent itself for the digital world.
No, the media didn’t ignore your anti-austerity march – it just wasn’t that interesting: There was much disappointment - and suspicion - among those involved in the anti-austerity march in London that it was little reported, despite going past the BBC on the march route. Some interesting questions arise about who decides what the news is, but The New Statesman isn't too impressed by the conspiracy theories.
Is Fox News more dangerous thatn ISIS?: Russell Brand was a speaker at the anti-austerity march. What has gained rather more attention has been this impassioned tirade on his YouTube account against Fox News commentator Judge Jeanine Pirro who called for the bombing of the ISIS insurgency in Syria and Iraq. Polemic of the week.
James Harding: BBC wants to work with regional press to 'drive the revival of local journalism': BBC news head James Harding, speaking at the Revival of Local Journalism conference in Salford, outs out the olive branch.
Guardian for Glass: The Guardian has been quick off the mark in providing an offering for the wearable technology. Guardian for Glass will provide headline news stories from its various international editions and breaking news notifications. Oh brave new world.
20 June 2014
Jeremy Paxman's final Newsnight
Jeremy Paxman signs off from Newsnight: Jeremy Paxman, host of BBC's Newsnight, bowed with a curious programme that had Paxman and Boris Johnson on a tandem, Michael Howard finally saying 'no', Paxman feeling tempted to say (as with Peter Finch in Network) that "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more" (but saying it sweetly), a goodbye to the tune of 'I'd like to teach the world to sing', and a final refusal to read out the weather properly. Time to move on, for all parties' sake.
Broadcast news: We now have 50,000 television and radio news programmes recorded and available for instant onsite access at the British Library. Here's a guide to how to find and use them.
Why the Oxford Mail is experimenting with WhatsApp: The Whatsapp smartphone messaging app is exciting much interest jin news circles, and the Oxford Mail has made an imaginative step in using the app to pass on news to subscribers. Journalism.co.uk investigates.
News sites ally with Mozilla in ongoing quest to reinvent online commenting: Much interest in the New York Times and Washington Post working with Mozilla to develop a platform that will tackle issues like unonymous trolls who plague the comment threads of news and other sites. The Guardian's report looks at the motivation (will it be open source?) and how other news sites manage the comments they receive.
The anatomy of a robot journalist: Nicholas Diakopoulos at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism explains how automated journalism works.
Time divides, ads subtract and it's hard to sum up newpapers' future: Peter Preston at The Observer looks at the World Association of Newspapers' annual survey of trends in 70 countries, and sees a mixture of good and bad news for the medium, but asks the crucial question: "Would anyone today invent something called a newspaper'?"
Reddit's newsgathering comes of age after growing pains: Mashable looks at how Reddit has turned things round for its gathering of news since its calamitous misuse during 2013's Boston Marathon bombing, which led to accusations being made against an innocent college student.
Ed Miliband apologises for endorsing The Sun: Ed Miliband posed for a picture showing him holding a free copy of The Sun newspaper with its World Cup theme (as did the Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Clegg), then ended up apologising for his action the next day after party members complained. The Spectator reports. Holding the media is easier than handling it...
No point in fanning the flames over the great Sun giveaway: Did you get your free copy of The Sun? I'm rather disappointed that I didn't (in a conflicted sort of way), but many of those who did turned to social media to express their disgust and to show ways in which were disposing of the paper. Grey Cardigan pours cold water on such attitudes, and dismisses the suggestions in some quarters that the paper could be fined for not publishing an imprint.
Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS: Content Management Systems are cool, and they are essential to innovative online journalism. Here's a really interesting - and smartly illustrated - guide to the New York Times' Scoop CMS.
The TV news where you are is not the TV news where we are...: Roy Greenslade passed on this gem of a monologue from Scottish author James Robertson, one of a series of 365-word witty thought pieces, which offers an astute lesson how one person's news is not always another person's news (but is this in the mind of the producer or the consumer?) You can read the text of 'The News Where You Are' here.
15 Crazy Facts About BuzzFeed That Will Totally Blow Your Mind: A Buzzfeed-style guide to Buzzfeed from the New York Times magazine e.g. "Listicles with 42 items are viewed the most (104 posts for 44,582,700 views), while 4-item lists are viewed the least (4,635 posts for 75,452 shares)."
A paper boat navigating a digital sea: More from NYT, this time Margaret Sullivan, pondering (as every commentator has) on what sort of digital future the title has "when the business model — and the DNA of the newsroom — is so tied to the printed newspaper".
National newspapers, local newspapers and cases of breach of promise: An interesting and useful post on the British Newspaper Archive blog by Denise Bates, on how historical regional newspapers often have more essential detail for the historian than do the nationals.
Jeremy Hunt reaffirms his faith in local TV despite low viewing ratings: The ratings for the local TV stations such as London Live are terrible so far, but Jeremy Hunt, who came up with the idea, still holds out hope. "If New York can manage six local TV stations the idea that London cannot sustain one is bonkers, despite the desire of competitors to rubbish it."
Should the BBC unpublish any of its online content?: Now here's food for thought. David Jordan, the BBC's Director of Editorial Policy and Standards, considers the implications of the European Union Court of Justice's ruling that Google must remove some search results on individuals if they can be proven to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."
Today, the BBC is publishing Editorial Policy Guidance about when we remove or amend BBC online content. Essentially, this says that material on the BBC website which is not available for a limited time period will become part of a permanently accessible archive that we are reluctant to remove or change and that we will only do so in exceptional circumstances. We are also reluctant to remove or alter programmes available on BBC iPlayer during the catch-up period.
Man bites dog: What joy there must have been at the South Wales Argus when they were genuinely able to run with the most legendary of news headlines.
Via Press Gazette
13 June 2014
Stop sharing this photograph of antisocial newspaper readers: This much retweeted and shared photograph of a train carriage full of newspaper readers has been viewed by many as a comment on an anti-social past age. Medium makes a strong argument why this is a complete misunderstanding of how a newspaper is consumed.
... what you are seeing in that picture of “antisocial” people reading newspapers is actually an eminently social activity: citizens keeping themselves informed so they can participate in the civic discourse of their community.
Enabling access to digitised historic newspapers: We held a Europeana Newspapers event here at the British Library, on assorted issues relating to the digitisation of newspapers, with interesting contrasts between traditional browsing and big data analytical approaches, and between free and paid access services. The link is to a Storify collection of tweets, links and slideshows from the day (fun to put together - will be doing more of these).
Broadcasting D-Day: The BBC's recreation of radio broadcasts from D-Day by using digitised scripts and actors (Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Patrick Stewart) made a powerful impact and was a fitting tribute on the 70th anniversary of the landings. The BBC radio scripts come from the British Library, and this post gives the background.
Digital News Report 2014: Eagerly devoured and much commented upon has been the latest annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report, the result of a survey of digital news consumption in UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Denmark and Finland. Among the key findings are:
- The use of smartphones and tablets has jumped significantly in the past year, with fewer people using their computers for news
- More than a third of online news users across all countries (39%) use two or more digital devices each week for news and a fifth (20%) now say their mobile phone is their primary access point
- US social sharing news sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed are beginning to make inroads around the world, with new formats and a fresh tone of voice aimed at younger people
- Even so, traditional brands remain strong in most markets, with cross-platform newspaper reach averaging 75% in most countries
- The number of people paying for digital news (11% average) has remained stable over the past 12 months, although there is a significant switch to more valuable ongoing digital subscription in most countries
- Of those paying for news in all countries, 59% are paying for an ongoing subscription (43% 2013). Of those who are not paying, 15% say they are likely to pay in the future
- Facebook is by far the most important network for news everywhere
- Although Twitter is widely used in the US, Spain, and the UK, it is far less influential in many other European countries. Google+ is emerging as increasingly important for news, along with messaging application WhatsApp
Robert Peston’s speech: Hotly discussed all week has been Robert Peston's British Journalism Review Charles Wheeler lecture, where he queries James Harding's statement (given in his WT Stead lecture at the British Library), "I think this is the most exciting time to be a journalist since the advent of television". Peston is not so sanguine, seeing threats in online culture, reader power, and the power of the public relations industry. He concludes:
...we don’t yet have what you might call a stable ecosystem in news. The poll-tax funded BBC is one kind of news-media model. The loss-making Guardian, funded by vast private-equity capital gains, is another. The Daily Mail another still. And Quartz, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed something different again. There is diversity – which all ecologists would tell you is vital to long-term survival. But there is also pollution, from a dangerous elision between news that pays and news that matters.
Why would anyone want to be a journalist?: But then there's Sarah Hartley at Contributoria, who speaks to several journalists about the hazards and frustrations of their occupation, and finds the answer to her question in these words from photographer Giles Duley (a triple-amputee after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan):
It’s about storytelling for me. There are these incredible stories out there and I think I follow a tradition that started around camp fires, in caves around ten thousands of years ago and there’s an innate need for people to tell stories and to hear stories and I just love being part of that tradition and so I’ll carry on doing it.
The Sun Launches A £4.2 Billion Marketing Campaign?: The Sun is delivering a free special World Cup issue to 22 million UK homes over a 48-hour period (avoiding Hillsborough). Chris Brace at the Brown Moses blog notes that the giveway lacks the imprint that identifies the publication as a newspaper. The fine for breaching this legal requirement can be up to £200 per copy. 200 x 22M = £4.4Bn. That's a quite fine...
Not Everyone Is Happy About The Sun’s “This Is Our England” Front Page: Patrick Smith at Buzzfeed rounds up some less than complimentary reactions to the great free Sun giveaway. There's even a @PostTheSunBack campaign.
Internet not responsible for dying newspapers, new study finds: Riding against the general trend of argument is a paper by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Matthew Gentzkow, which says that comparisons between the internet and newspaper are based on some false assumptions. ScienceDaily summarises these.
A year on Guardian continues to face derision from Fleet Street rivals over Edward Snowden revelations: Press Gazette reviews the opinions expressed about Edward Snowden in other British newspapers, which are distinctly unimpressed.
Time Inc. Has a Big Problem - So Does Digital Journalism: Derek Thompson at The Atlantic feels that the future looks bright for digital journalism as a product, but dim for large-scale digital journalism as a business.
Victorian Meme Machine: Bob Nicholson of Edge Hill University is one of two winners of our BL Labs competition for innovative ideas to use digital collections. His Victorian Meme Machine will create an extensive database of Victorian jokes, drawn from newspapers etc, and pair them with an appropriate image drawn from BL and other digital collections.
Annotating the news: Intriguing piece by Jihii Jolly for Columbia Journalism Review on student news literacy and annotation tools.
The BBC was impervious to the launch of Sky News. Now they have to take notice: Ian Burrell at The Independent interviews Sky News editor John Ryley, who is full of plans, is disparagaing of ITV's attitude towards news, and states firmly: “The future for news is on mobile.”
European newspapers search for ways to survive digital revolution: A Guardian survey of how newspapers in Spain, France and Germany are struggling (belatedly) to find ways to make money as print sales plummet.
16 Pictures Of Beyoncé Where She’s Not Sinking In Quicksand: The Onion has launched Clickhole, its parody site for 'clickbait' viral sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Not super-funny yet, but we have hope.
Why banish words from the front page?: The sharply opinionated Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley blog is critical of sloppy front page design in some UK regional newspapers, and thoughtful on the reasons why.
Newspaper printed with ink that repels mosquitoes: This is such a heartening story - a Sri Lankan newspaper has come up with Mawbima Mosquito Repellent Paper, printed using bug-repelling ink, as part of campaign to help prevent the spread of Dengue fever. Probably a bit of a preservation challenge though...
Chatting with bots: How Slack is changing how newsrooms talk amongst themselves: Nieman Journalism Lab on Slack, a chat application being used in the newsrooms of The Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, Quartz, Slate, NBC News, The Guardian and more.
Kevin Turvey investigates ... the media: RIP Kevin Turvey, peerless investigative reporter from Reddtich, aka Rik Mayall.
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