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22 posts categorized "Radio"

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with plans to develop a news site that (so far as one can tell from the sketchy ideas offered so far) will draw out the historical content behind news stories from content online.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.

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.