The Newsroom blog

18 posts categorized "People"

09 May 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 17

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It's a shorter edition this week of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news, as your blogger is on holiday, following the heady events surrounding the opening of the Newsroom at the British Library. But the news goes on, even if one is sunning oneself and sipping coffee at some Parisian boulevard, so here are a few of the week's links that have caught our eye.


Search results for the term 'terrorist' using the BBC/Oxford University Face Recognition Prototype

Face recognition and new ways to search the archive: The tremendously bright people at BBC R&D are doing some remarkable work exploring ways in which to improve the discovery and use of television and radio archives in a digital age. Their latest venture is into face recognition, where they have been collaborating with a team from Oxford University. You can have fun testing out their Face Recognition Prototype which uses images of faces taken from BBC News programmes from the last 5 years.

Mail Online has grown ten-fold since its 2008 relaunch, but is it journalism?: Bethany Usher at Press Gazette marvels at how Mail Online has achied a 690 per cent increase in audience in the first five years since its relaunch, but is news aggregation of the kind practised on the site really journalism?

Inside the Financial Times' digital strategy: A really interesting piece from Ricardo Bilton at DigiDay on how the Financial Times has built its digital business around an audience-driven subscription model.

Pro-Kremlin journalists win medals for 'objective' coverage of Crimea: The Guardian reports that President Putin has awarded medals of the "Order of Service to the Fatherland" to 300 journalists for their Kremlin-friendly coverage.

Brown Moses, his alter ego Eliot Higgins, and the rise of the self-trained journalist: Mathew Ingram at Gigaom (one of the most stimulating media analysts out there) tells the story behind the success of citizen journalist Eliot Higgins - aka Brown Moses - who without any journalism background chose to write about the Syrian conflict and to uncover data one the use of weaponry through assiduous analysis of online sources. Ingram writes:

Eliot is living proof not only of the idea that the tools of journalism are now available to anyone, but that the skills and functions that used to be included in that term are effectively being disaggregated or unbundled. Just as the eyewitness reporting part of a journalist’s job can be done by anyone, the fact-checking or research function that backs up this reporting can be quite easily done by someone who is smart, methodical and motivated like Eliot Higgins...

The future of media isn't about breaking news scoops, it's about credibility and trust: Also from Ingram, his take on the controversial and much-discussed comments made by Feliz Salmon on the cult of scoops in the news industry (which matter a lot to journalists while their readers care not a jot whose scoop it might be).

News drones over El Salvador: Jamie Stark at Global Post reports on the use of drones for news-gathering in El Salvador and other Latin American countries, something not possible in the USA, which (currently) bans the use of drones for news and comercial purposes.

Why LinkedIn is morphing from a social network into an online newspaper: Leo Mirani at Quartz looks at how the professional social network LinkedIn is looking to bring meaningful information to the millions of professionals worldwide now signed up to the service. â€śThey would like guys like you and me to look at our LinkedIn newsfeed as part of our morning ritual, the same way some people look at Twitter” says one commentator.

Why we should celebrate journalism of the past, present and future: Tony Harcup, author of the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of Journalism, rejoices in journalims in all its "gloriously messy" forms, while being unsure of what it's future will be. Only two things he is sure of:

1. Journalists will always hark back to a mythical golden age that seems to coincide with when they were young, and which has now gone for ever.

2. Anything with the temerity to be called a dictionary of journalism will always provoke journalists to scour it for omissions, errors or slights to prove that the author knows nothing about anything.

04 April 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 12

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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.  


From The Poke via @jameshoggarth

45 local news stories that rocked the world: It started with Patrick Smith at Buzzfeed - now headlines from UK regional newspapers are fast becoming an Internet cult. The Poke collect 45 that show just why we love local newspapers so.

Against beautiful journalism: Thought-provoking article from Felix Salmon at the Reuter blog, who argues against the over-designed nature of some (mostly American) news sites. "Today, when you read a story at the New Republic, or Medium, or any of a thousand other sites, it looks great; every story looks great. Even something as simple as a competition announcement comes with a full-page header and whiz-bang scrollkit graphics. The result is a cognitive disconnect..."

How 3 publishers are innovating with online video: looks at how Huffington Post, the Washington Post and BuzzFeed are taking different approaches to using video, as discussed at the FT Digital Media conference.

Harry Chapman Pincher: Perhaps the best-named journalist ever, certainly one of the most famous living British journalists, Chapman Pincher has turned 100 years old and is still writing. Nick Higham at BBC News profiles the man who became legendary for his espionage scoops.

Safeguarding the “first rough draft of history”: How pleasant to have a history of newspapers (with thank yous to the British Library for its newspaper preservation work from Sylvia Morris at the excellent Shakespeare Blog.

In praise of the almost-journalists: A fine piece by Dan Gillmor at Slate on the distinctive contribution to online news made by advocacy organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Cato Institute.

News Corp boss brands Washington Post journalists 'high priests': Not such good times for journalists of the old school. The Guardian reports how News Corp's Chief Executive Robert Thomson feels that the Washington Post's journalists have failed to embrace the transition to digital.

Apple Adds Talk Radio And News To iTunes Radio Starting With NPR: iTunes Radio gets its first non-music offering with this team up with NPR (National Public Radio), Techcrunch reports.

Journalists increasingly under fire from hackers, Google researchers show: ArsTechnica reports that news organisations are increasingly being targeted by state-sponsored hackers.

The Evolution of Automated Breaking News Stories: Is this the future of news? Technology Review reports on how a Google engineer has developed an algorithm, Wikipedia Live Monitor, that spots breaking news stories on the Web and illustrates them with pictures. Now it is tweeting them.

Debugging the backlash to data journalism: Data journalism has been all the rage, so inevitably there has been a backlash. Alexander Howard at Tow Center provides a good overview of the phenomenon, its strengths and its limitations.

Taming the news beast: The Newsroom blog goes to an International Society for Knowledge Orgaization event on news archives and news metadata, and comes back thoughtful.

London Live – capital's first dedicated TV channel – takes to the air: The Evening Standard-backed TV channel went live on March 31st. Meanwhile, Jim Waterson at BuzzFeed provides an entertaining history of the last time someone tried to launch a TV station called London Live.

The Guardian crowned newspaper of the year at Press Awards for government surveillance reports: Press Gazette names all the winners at the Press Awards. Meanwhile, former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has won the University of Georgia's McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage.

German officials ban journalist from naming his son #Wikileaks. No comment.

21 March 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 10

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 March 2014

Robot reporters and the age of drone journalism

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


Emily Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 January 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 3

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Welcome to the third 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.  


Ezra Klein (Wikimedia Commons)

Vox is our next: Generating much discussion in America has been the move of celebrated journalist and political blogger Ezra Klein from the Washington Post to Vox Media with plans to develop a news site that (so far as one can tell from the sketchy ideas offered so far) will draw out the historical content behind news stories from content online. The New Yorker lauds the rise of the digital journalist (Klein is 29); the always interesting Mathew Ingram at Gigaom looks at the advertising model that could support it.

The newsonomics of why every seems to be starting a news site: Ken Doctor looks at the economics of why Klein and others are getting into the online news game and hiring journalists. Essentially the risks are high but the entry costs are low.

Q&A with newspaper researchers: Leon Saltiel: The latest in Europeana Newspapers' fine series of interviews with researchers using newspaper archives is with Leon Saltiel, who is researching World War Two in Thessaloniki

So much for 'news without the boring bits': Trinity Mirror's The People set up a Buzzfeed-style site with aim of publishing news without the boring bits and with ambition to be entirely funded by "native content". It lasted three months

You won’t believe why the Victoria Line is currently suspended: But Trinity Mirror's other Buzzfeed-style effort, UsVsTh3m is flourishing with such viral stories as fast-setting concrete in the signalling room holding up the Victoria Line

Introducing #GuardianCam on Instagram: Guardian journalists will be taking over its Instagram account each week to showcase stories from around the world

World War One: The British Library has published its World War One resource, based around key themes from the war, and amply illustrated with over 500 digital objects, including manuscripts, illustrations, photographs, maps, letters and newspapers

LBC to go national: On 11 February LBC will go national and become the UK's first commercial news talk radio station.

What is the news? Philosopher Alain de Botton argues in this video (and in a Newsnight discussion)  that the news is a "powerful questionable art form" the comprehension of which needs to be taught in schools (thereby annoying the media studies community who are dedicated to doing just that). De Botton has a book out on on the theme, and Ian Jack's review in The Guardian is scathing ("A kind of fluent ignorance is at work that might be innocence in disguise." Ouch)

Cardiff Uni to run free online community journalism course: Hyperlocal news sites now being all the range, Cardiff are going to offer a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in community journalism


Facebook announces Paper: Anyone can publish their own version of what's news, and attractively so. On February 3 Facebook launches the nostalgically-named Paper, a customisable news reader app similar to Flipboard

The News Academy: News UK (News International as was) has launched the News Academy to train teenagers keen to become journalists

A faster, easier way: Twitter, CNN and Dataminr are working together to develop an alert system for journalists, reports the Twitter blog

Hacking trial: The sorrier side of the news was laid bare once again with the evidence supplied by self-confessed phone hacking journalist Dan Evans, formerly of the Sunday Mirror and News of the World. Even the "office cat" knew about what was going on, he claims

Broke French crime reporter turns to hold ups: The news about news story of the week has to be the tale of Jean-Michel, the former crime reporter who tried to turn his knowledge to bad use when he turned criminal (unsuccessfully). The story was reported by his former newspaper, naturally.

23 January 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 2

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Welcome to edition number two 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. 


The first newspapers are digitised at Boston Spa: The DC Thomson Family History newspaper digitisation studio has moved from Colindale to Boston Spa in Yorkshire and is busy once again digitising British Library newspapers for the British Newspaper Archive. The BNA blog has behind-the-scenes photos (well, two).

Firing Tony Gallagher is a big mistake: The big news story of the week about British newspapers was the sacking of Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher. Roy Greenslade worries that the drive towards all things digital is being done at the expense of tried and tested journalistic understanding.

Cambridge spies - the Burgess tape: News coup of the week - or at least archival news coup - went to Professor Stewart Purvis and Jeff Hulbert of City University for their discovery of an audio recording (recovered from the FBI via a Freedom of Information Act request) of British double-agent Guy Burgess talking about a visit he paid to Winston Churchill in 1938.

How geolocation may play a bigger role in future newsgathering: has this report on a discussion at the Frontline Club on the effects of mobile, geolocation and user-generated content on the future of news. The impact of geolocation on newsgathering and verification is bound to be huge, but there were also warnings about its use to identify those who do not want to be located (such as activist reporters in hazardous situations). 

Bill to restrict 'town hall Pravda' passes its final Parliamentary hurdle: Press Gazette reports on the passing of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill through the House of Lords, which among other things could give minister the power to block local authorities from publishing overly political free newssheets, and "guarantee the right of journalists and bloggers to live Tweet and even film council meetings."

Christopher Chataway: Chris Chataway, who died this week, was not only an athlete, businessman and politician - he was also an early ITN reporter and BBC current affairs commentator.

How Kola Dumor became the face of Africa: Kola Dumor, the Ghanaian presenter of BBC World News' Focus on Africa programme, died tragically young of a heart attack, aged 41. Solomon Mugera's piece is among many heartfelt tributes made to the man.

Q&A with newspaper researchers: Bob Nicholson: Another in the excellent Europeana Newspapers series of interview with researchers using newspaper archives. Bob Nicholson, historian of 19th-century popular culture at Edge Hill University, talks about researching how jokes and slang moved between America and Britain in the 1800s.

The future of personal broadcasting:  Challenging piece from Charley Miller on how we can all become broadcasters, eventually.

Trinity Mirror axes daily tablet edition after seven months: Back in June the Birmingham Post boldly announced its Business Daily tablet edition (cost to subscribers ÂŁ9.99 a month) hoping to  â€śreinvent business journalism within the regional press”. It is no more.

The Sun celebrates a Facebook million: and appoints its first social media editor, James Manning.

Instafax: Somebody, somewhere, is going to make short-form news videos work. NowThisNews is experimenting with the form, and now the BBC has come up with test service Instafax, which uses Instgram to generate quick news summaries for people on the go. TheNextWeb reports.

The WorldPost: a platform for global conversation: Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute on Governance launched The WorldPost (keeping up the vogue for have one word where two might do better), a digital news publication with global reach. Peter S. Goodman introduces the ideas behind it.

The birth of newspaper: Splendid images of some of the first newspapers to accompany Andrew Pettegree's History Today piece on the birth and slow rise of the medium.

Are we in a new golden age of journalism?: Tom Engelhardt of reckons so.

And in case you missed it, the British Library published a podcast of James Harding's 'Journalism Today' speech.

28 December 2013

Recording Mandela

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The British Library has a television and radio news recording service which we call Broadcast News (and yes we were partly thinking of the wonderful 1987 film of the same title with William Hurt and Holly Hunter when we named it). Broadcast News has been recording UK free-to-air television and radio programmes since May 2010 and currently we take in just over 60 hours of news per day - 40 hours of television, 20 hours of radio.

We take the news from most of the channels which you may find on Freeview or Freesat, so not just BBC, ITV and Channel 4, but Sky News, Al-Jazeera English, CNN, NHK, Russia Today, France 24 and others. We don't record their 24/7 entirety. For the terrestrial channels (BBC, ITV etc) we only record the news programmes while for 24-hour-news channels we record a selection, usually two or three hours per channel, and as far as possible the same time slot every day. The aim is to ensure good coverage across the day, and to guarantee consistency of coverage.


Breaking news of the death of Nelson Mandela on Sky News, 5 December 2013

And then you get breaking news. The death of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013 was one of those events where we throw open gates and do blanket recordings of all the relevant news broadcasts to capture the moment in history in full. Of course the idea of 'breaking news' has been somewhat devalued of late, when almost any news story that's about to come up can get labelled as breaking news, rather than the earth-stopping stories that are traditionally associated with the concept. But breaking news is largely an invention of the 24-hour-news era, where the continuous stream of information gets interrupted by the extraordinary. 24-hours-news has to have breaking news, periodically and consistently - the concept is fundamental to how it operates.


The breaking news message on BBC4's Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities, 5 December 2013

News of Mandela's death was announced in the UK at around 21.45. I was watching a BBC4 programme on Byzantium at the time, and intriguingly a headline flash appeared telling me that there was breaking news on BBC1, but it didn't tell me what the news was. Viewers on BBC1 had been watching a repeat episode of the sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys when the channel cut to the announcement of Mandela's death made by President Jacob Zuma, something which led to 1,350 complaints being made to to the BBC. BBC1 then continued with a special news broadcast at 22:00 and continued with Mandela news specials through to past midnight. Thereafter the BBC News channel continued with the non-stop Mandela news throughout the following day.


China's CCTV News unusually broke into its regular programming to report Mandela's death

Likewise Al-Jazeera English, CNN, Sky News, France 24 and BBC World Service radio broke into their usual news coverage around 21.45 on the 5th and continued round the clock for the next 36 hours or so before other news stories really began to intrude once more. CNN's exhaustive coverage was particularly interesting to see, given that Mandela does not seem to have had as big a profile in the USA as in Europe or Africa (to judge by the many comments to be found online wanting to know what the man did and what his significance was).  China's CCTV news, which normally keeps to the top-of-the-hour news schedule, unusually broke the Mandela news at around 21.50 and kept it as its main topic for several hours. Russia Today, ever the maverick, broke the news through its rolling bottom-screen text and included it in its headline stories thereafter, but did not upset the schedules at all.


Al Jazeera English, 5 December 2013

Eventually breaking news is broken, and the channels return to the regular diet and schedules. The death of Mandela was no surprise, of course, and all of the channels had ready-made obituary packages. The challenge was to find enough interviewees to represent the breadth of Mandela's influence and personal history, and to deliver eulogies alongside predictions for the future that offered sufficient variety. Thereafter the challenge for news editors was to judge the magnitude of the story. The BBC received many complaints about the extensive of its coverage, particularly at a time when the UK audience was particular interested in news of stormy weather hitting the east of the country. Of course, the death of one of the twentieth century's leading figures is of greater significance than a passing weather system, but news is meant to be of the moment - to be about what is passing, not what is past. The blanket Mandela coverage was appropriate to the man's significance, but in the transference from news to eulogy and retrospective the objections raised by some viewers may have been at seeing news programmes that were not any longer offering (as they saw it) news.


France 24's coverage of Barack Obama's speech during the Mandela memorial service, 10 December 2013

After a relative lull, during which we reverted back to our regular daily news recordings schedule, there followed the four-hour memorial service on 10 December We recorded this in its entirety as broadcasts on BBC News, Al Jazeera English, CNN, France 24 and BBC World Service (CCTV, NHK World, Russia Today and other channels that we record did not have specials on the memorial service, nor on the  subsequent funeral). Of course it was the same service on each channel, but each added its own commentary with numerous cutbacks to interviewees to break up the service's several longeurs, including the many long and indifferent speeches that marred a ceremony that was further afflicted by heavy rain, empty stretches of the FNB stadium at Johannesburg, the booing of Jacob Zuma, David Cameron and Barack Obama's contentious 'selfie', and the embarrassment of fake signer Thamsanqa Jantjie (news of whose bogus gestures broke the following day). The visual media can capture the special significance of the moment with great power, but can also expose the absurdity of human things all too acutely. Aside from Obama's soaring speech, the memorial service offered too much fodder to cameras that naturally picked out the sodden, the verbose, the bored and the off-guard. Who will now be able to watch Obama's great speech without being helplessly distracted by the man signing gibberish to his left?


From the BBC News coverage of Nelson Mandela's funeral, 15 December 2013

Happily the funeral service at Mandela's childhood home of Qunu on 15 December was a model of good organisation. The tribute was fitting to the man, finding the right balance between pomp and modesty. We recorded the BBC News, CNN, Al Jazeera English, Sky News and BBC World Service programmes, which along with all of the regular news programmes recorded over the 5-15 December period amounts the several hundred hours of TV and radio news dedicated to the death of Nelson Mandela that we are now preserving and making accessible in our Reading Rooms.

Of course we have more than just TV and radio news on Mandela's death. We will have taken in every UK newspaper over the period, and because we are now able to archive UK website were have been able to many online news reports, tributes, commentaries and comments which should offer a more diverse and even critical account of the man's passing than TV news's perhaps rather linear and hagiographical approach can offer. The point is that news does not exist in its entirety in any one medium. Each plays its part - print, TV, radio, online - in providing the breadth and depth such as news story merits. The great marvel of news today is the choice on offer, the diversity of content, the extension in so many ways of what we understand to to be news (noting of course that not all societies enjoy equal choice of news sources). It is for us to choose wisely from what is on offer if we want to be properly informed. We have the privilege, and the responsibility, of choice.

19 December 2013

Changing places, changing news

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Welcome to The Newsroom, the British Library’s new news and media blog. Its aim is to provide the news about yesterday's news, and to look to where news may be going in the future. It will inform you about aspects our collections, provides guides to their best use, and reports on activities in news production and news-related research.

The British Library has one of the world's greatest news archives. Our collection of UK, Irish and world newspapers numbers over 60 million issues, from the 17th century to the present day, and we have growing collections of television, radio and web news. In March 2014 we will be opening our News and Media Reading Room at our London site in St Pancras (for more information, see our guide to our Newspaper Library moves). The new reading room will bring together print, television radio and web news resources in an exciting new media research environment, one that reflects the ways in which news production itself is changing.


James Harding

There will be various events to help mark the change in our news service from the Newspaper Library at Colindale (now closed) to St Pancras. Among these are lectures we are organising in the name of W.T. Stead, the transformative 19th-century journalist whose multi-faceted involvement in news production and the media of his time was celebrated at W.T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary, a conference held at the British Library in 2012.

The first W.T. Stead Lecture will be given by James Harding, director of BBC News & Current Affairs, on 13 January 2014. Harding’s career is indicative of the great changes taking place in the news and media industries. He has recently moved from being editor of a leading national newspaper, The Times, to heading the BBC’s news service. This looks like part of a growing trend. BBC Director General Mark Thompson left the corporation to head the New York Times, and the BBC’s former head of Future Media & Technology, Ashley Highfield, is now CEO of the Johnston Press, which publishes many local newspapers in the UK. The skills in the one medium are becoming essential for understanding the other media.

Harding’s lecture will reflect upon the place of news in a changing media landscape. We now have more ways than ever before to access the news, but how does this affect the way that news is produced, communicated and consumed? Is news itself changing, or is it just how we find it and use it that is changing? What is happening to the role of journalism in a multimedia, multiplatform environment? These questions are important not only for understanding news today, but for building the news archive of tomorrow.

Further information on James Harding’s lecture, with details on how to book, can be found on our What’s On pages.