Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carnage Scenario for UK newspapers

OhmyNews have published my story based on a recent talk by Emily Bell.

The background of falling print circulations is widely assumed and understood.

Some UK newspapers have not got very far with their websites. the news organisations that make a transition to being mostly web based will presumably change their culture enough to be more or less accepting of what happens online.

Future posts will look at some numbers. At the moment the circulation figures are for print or web and make no sense at all of where each organisation is at.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A poll about regional newpapers

Recently the question was asked, which regional UK paper group will go bust first. no answer was offered and it is an unlikely outcome. But which is in most difficulty? Some solution will be found. I think I can add a poll so will give it a try.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Imagined reader proposal

I would like to suggest a whatif from some time in the future. Say the Guardian guarantees £500 million over five years for Man Roland to develop a device with a screen size like the Berliner or G2 in colour of course and with Web access. Guardian fans sign a 24 month contract to spend around a pound a day and get a free prototype.

I could develop a detailed proposal on a modest budget if one could be found. Not too silly. Man Roland already has some research.

From Guardian Talk

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Print version in actual Guardian

Guardian Technology has printed an extract from my blog about reading the Guardian. Yes, that is correct, the words are in print, letters page equivalent. They have chosen a section where I am polite about a proper print journalist, Victor Keegan and his writing about the Sony Reader.

I realise two main things from this so far. If I was a bit more creative and positive in my writing it may not put people off right away. and secondly this Sony Reader is more of a talking point than first appeared. It cannot be long before the Guardian writers for Monday, Tuesday and Saturday get involved.

This week Victor Keegan is writing about citizens in virtual worlds. He mentions he has an apartment in virtual Berlin courtesy of Twinity. I hope to visit one day and discuss citizen journalism etc. Maybe I will end up talking to somebody else but it works as a project. So far I have failed to install Twinity but I have found a YouTube video so have faked a photo with an avatar from Second Life.

Steve Ingram, the avatar in the picture, is one of the reporters for Rougemont Global Broadcasting, usually based near the Apple Store in Exeter. He is the sort of person to explore new and interesting ideas.

If I do manage to load Twinity and get to Berlin I think one clue could be to look for Shakespeare and / or monkey. These words often turn up in Victor Keegan projects. I am not sure he allows random creation a fair chance. While waiting for the virtual London there could be scope on Flickr for a guide to most streets, starting near Trafalgar Square.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Web Triumph Day

Jeff Jarvis is too apologetic. He worries about being behaving as the "internet triumphalist" but he thinks that "somebody has to". He tries to counteract a number of fears and complaints that won't go away. "There are inaccuracies on the internet" ; "Bloggers aren't journalists" ; "People are rude on the internet" . By the way a few pages on there is a jolly funny take on what a citizen journalist might say - "the blogosphere thrives on abuse and invective.."

Anyway, back on topic, Jeff Jarvis refuses to make a claim for the internet as if it is like other media, "packaged and perfected". He prefers to see it as part of life, something messy. However when material from his Buzzmachine blog turns up later in the Guardian print version it seems to be a lot closer to normal media. Maybe it is the effect of Guardian subeditors. Maybe the comments on the blog help to add some texture and scrutiny.

the aim today is to respond to fears and complaints" once and for all. I would like to go a bit further and just accept that the Web has arrived alongside print as part of media. I find the Guardian is still often avoiding this as an issue. Parts of the paper do not hang together.

Jane Martinson writes an opinion on how the numbers for newspapers "are not good and will get worse before they get better", I cannot find any mention of websites or "news organisations". How will the numbers get better without including the Web in the same conversation? On another page Mike Butcher considers the ABCe numbers for August. ( Audited circulation with the e after as not in e-learning) The Independent site up 90% on the previous August, compared to 24% fall over two years in full-price print circulation, according to Jane Martinson. However there is almost never any discussion of what the thinking is about a transition from print to the web. Is print still a cash cow? Where is the investment? How many newspaper managers believe they could concentrate on video?

There was a time when the Saturday Guardian had a section similar to a staff blog. This explained some of what was in progress. It was dropped for a Readers Page all of which is written by proper print journalists except the headlines apparently. My suggestion would be for the readers to have more space but accept that editors know more about headlines. this, by the way, is the approach at OhmyNews, where Guardian staff might visit sometime and make a study of citizen journalism.

Getting back to my main point, it seems to me that the Guardian is not really reporting what is happening with news organisations, or letting the readers of either paper or web pages know of where it is going.

One more example of the mess and muddle. Victor Keegan has written on a Thursday about the potential for a future reading device similar to the Sony but with internet access, larger screen and so on. The Saturday bookish bit has stopped taking copy from blogs and also stopped the news feed from the Bookseller. So it continues as flat pages increasingly unconnected in my opinion. The first mention of the Sony Reader I can remember came last Saturday from Andrew Lycett. Once Amazon and the Kindle appear in the UK, there could be a danger for print publishers. Add this to the list, please, Jeff Jarvis.

Most of the Guardian, print version especially, has become a series of examples of contradictions. Online there is some acceptance for "user generated content" and the idea that the Web has arrived. In print the bloggers are often insulted as if they are a different set of people. The printed words of Jeff Jarvis are a welcome exception. It is also worth the extra work involved in making sense of the blog version on Buzzmachine.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Victor Keegan investigates

Proper print journalist Victor Keegan has made a trip to Cambridge before offering an opinion about the Sony Reader and other devices. Good for him. It makes the cost of a newspaper seem cheap, even if they did skip the ICT bit last week.

The theme of where newspapers are at could turn up again on a Monday.

Add "editor" to Jeff Jarvis diagram

I found this again

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: cuny journalism)

I would like to redraw the diagram on the news process with an editor in there somewhere. Citizen Journalism as found at OhmyNews relies on editors but somehow Jeff Jarvis is on another route it seems.

Also there could be some sort of loop. Often the stories I write are repeats of previous ones.

Friday, September 19, 2008

ICT vanishes from print version of Guardian

This week there was a supplement for a trade show instead of the normal Technology section on mostly computers and the Web. The topic was interesting enough but i think we should have been warned that the normal content was missing before we parted with the 80p.

Let us hope this was an unusual event, not part of a trend. Previously this would have been a supplement. Sadly the print version is becoming something I look at to follow how the Guardian is behaving rather than a source of news.

Meanwhile the blogs etc. continue.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Presentation mode ahead of September 4th

Here is a presentation for sept 4th when there should be several Sony Readers in Exeter. There are a couple of links to Guardian Talk so this is now part of a read / write web / newspaper.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

epub is news

The Observer has a couple of pages on e-books but seems to have missed the news last week that the Sony Reader will support the EPUB format as well as Adobe Digital Editions. EPUB is XML and more or less open. As reported by Tech Gadgets in India.

Print journalists may be too busy making jokes about bloggers to include this sort of information. Newspapers face some difficult issues but their readers can only relate to this situation through communication of an actual situation.

Unedited story for OhmyNews

Citizen Journalism is something to consider and then write about

Reading the Observer and the Guardian out of time sequence at the moment. Today I bought an Observer for the Wireless supplement inspired by Carphone Warehouse. Interesting to see several aspects in one section. The Guardian Education pages rarely cover technology as such. There is a section on South Korea and the available bandwidth, roughly 100 where the UK is 4 as reported though my own latest number is 2.4 on the screen. Recently I was catching up with recent Guardians and it turns out that the humour take on citizen journalism continues. See also 'I don't think bloggers read' for the serious version. When will there be a UK review or print interview with David Weinberger? Not in the Guardian one would guess.

Anyway back on topic, here is a short extract from the supposed blog of a supposed citizen journalist, ( try to remember this is supposed to be funny) -

As I mentioned last week, I bring to citizen journalism not just a fierce sense of natural justice and a brand new iPhone, but also a wealth of experience in MSM (that's mainstream media) as both a reporter and the victim of a sustained bullying campaign by subeditors who thought the truth began and ended with the proper use of the subjunctive. Back then the dinosaurs ruled the Earth, but those days, my new media colleagues, are over.

This seems to me to be completely misinformed about the role of editors in citizen journalism. Maybe it is just a flight of fancy anyway but for what it is worth here yet again is my take on what I think is the case. OhmyNews has made an investment in editing as part of their model on how citizen journalism works. Have a look at the site and check the recent conference.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Editor Brand Dissonance

The printed Guardian today strikes me as most odd, probably at the limits of what they can live with as a take on print culture. The banner at the top of the front page is about reading books, why do people rarely finish them, what can be done? The text more or less ignores the web till it gets to the end and a reference to "crib sheets" on Wikipedia. Actually I did not read the whole set of words and I guess I am not alone in this. The idea that a book should be read page by page in the order that the author decided is just unreasonable.

Then at the bottom of the page is the claim that the Guardian website is reaching new levels of readership. As the Guardian gets to be more online there will surely come a point when some acceptance of web culture will be more evident, possibly including a positive reference to the Wikipedia.

Web version of text, missing the G2 cover graphic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More about wifi in Exeter and this week

I have written in the "wifi Exeter" blog about Victor Keegan and the mobile phone company coverage of the UK.

Round about now, things I have been supporting and proposing seem to be happening anyway. Maybe not in Exeter or even the UK, but somewhere.

The Guardian is gradually coming to terms with digital forms of the book. An editorial this week offered some scope for e-books etc. However I am not sure they recognise how much text and image exists already. The Saturday Review seems to be going in reverse. The bloggers have been banished even from the inside back page.

So the implications for newspaper publishing may not be reported so clearly. There is still not much discussion of citizen journalism. Well, actually none I can remember from this year.

But the editorial "bookmarking the future" shows some sort of moment when things shift.

Sadly the Web is not well linked in to the Education bit. There was a supplement on "stealth learning" this week but this cannot be found online. Please correct me if this is a wrong statement. Sponsored by Futurelab so maybe this is not regarded as part of the longterm archive. But I found the content more interesting than the article on adult education which was fair enough about the cuts and soforth but failed to mention that adults now use the web for hobbies and learning. The formal educational system has not got much of an offer in certain respects but the Web is stronger than ever. Where is this reported? Is there such a thing as "stealth learning for grown-ups".

Doing a Google to try to find the Futurelab content I discovered a blog where "stealth learning" is being developed as a new academic subject. Yes, really. So something like this will make the Guardian website eventually.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Emily Bell wants a conversation about the BBC

Emily Bell wants to "start a conversation" about the BBC and how to solve the problems of other media.

This is perhaps an over-dramatic response from a direct competitor. For, although small, the nature of the Guardian's business is the same as the BBC's, thanks to convergence. Indeed, Paul Myners, who chairs the Guardian's parent company board, complained to the House of Lords select committee last week that the BBC carrying advertising in overseas territories on its website might pose a significant business problem for us.

The decline in newspapers' readership has been as inexorable as the erosion of the Antarctic ice shelf, and a bit more glare will see the titles topple at penguin-killing speed. The internet has thrown some of these businesses a bit of a lifeline, but, here again, the BBC has the funds and the history and the distribution to always be ahead.

You know what? I think the transition for news organisations from paper to the Web is a larger problem than can be solved just by raiding the BBC resources. The Adobe webcast tomorrow is likely to be a significant event in the move to web video. Newspapers would do well to think about their own direction.

To be fair, towards the end of the comment Emily Bell considers whether the BBC should include advertising for other media, not just hand over cash for the Channel 4 salaries. This seems much more sensible. There is only one global brand based in the UK, the BBC.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rusbridger returns to Davos blogging

Alan Rusbridger is in Davos and appears to be blogging disguised as comment on Comment is Free.

I put in a comment as question-

My comment is off topic but that is my point.

Last year Davos blogs from Guardian writers included a take on citizen journalism, convergance, future business models, retraining for people educated through print. Things like that.

This seems to be missing this year. Have the news organisations finished adjusting so there is nothing more to discuss?

I write stories for OhmyNews, based in Korea. They invest in editors so the effect of "citizen journalism" is different to the reports in print.

The Guardian has mentioned "The Cult of the Amateur" a few times but only Jeff Jarvis has linked to "Everything is Miscellaneous" by David Weinberger. (Links on Buzzmachine) Published in New York, available through Amazon UK. Why is this?

Last year there was mention of video as a future expense, possibly taking the Guardian back into losses even though a text web version is now viable. Any update on this? Can't see much video at the moment.

The Reader's Editor has determined that research on Facebook is ok for journalists. So comment is free text may be copied to a blog. Warning fair.

No response so far. I may have mentioned this before but my impression so far is that Guardian writers have not really understood what "the conversation" is about. They write their piece as normal for print. The public add comments. Then they do nothing except maybe write something else about how the public can be rude. A feeling of isolation and sense deprivation is no help in this. Meanwhile on Talk there is much more communication as i find it. Guardian staff could join in but never do.

Rusbridger did respond last year but that was when Davos covered media and online collaboration. Not a topic this year apparently. Maybe the "mainstream media" have stopped worrying.