#newsrw: Connected journalism in 10 points

I was at news:rewired last week talking about community management and while there are already some great round-ups of the sessions available, I wanted to share the things I took away. In no particular order of importance:

1) The Telegraph’s Kate Day made the salient point that communities around a newspaper brand are nothing new – feeling a sense of belonging to a certain newspaper’s club has been around for some time.

2) IPC Media’s Cathy Ma told us that A T-shirt competition engaging with Horse & Hound’s Facebook fans generated a five-figure profit for the title.

3) MSN’s Pete Clifton on newsroom architecture reminded us that getting your departments or different teams into the same working space is only half the battle. You have to work hard to ensure that the same divides (e.g. Between web and print) don’t reform.

4) Storify’s Xavier Damman: “Everybody is a reporter but not everyone is a journalist. Without journalists those voices would get lost in the noise, quickly forgotten.” He showed us how Storify is being used for reaction, comment, breaking news and to bring new voices into a story. Perhaps most interestingly he showed how the TCDisrupt conference had used Storify to create a printed digest.

5) AOL and HuffPo UK’s Carla Busazi explained the work of her three-strong blogger outreach team and how everyone at HuffPo has a responsibility for blogger outreach and social media. The site gets requests from other media to interview their bloggers

6) 50% of CNN iReport videos are related to breaking news, explained Dominique van Heerden, who explained that this is a community loyal to one another and that very much feels they own the space. Dominique gave a particular example of the son of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. After posting a video tribute online, which led to a CNN follow-up, the community helped to set up a college fund for the boy.

7) Chris Hamilton talked in detail about the different approaches to verifying UGC in news situations. The best are often simple, but require lateral thinking he said – e.g. Getting someone near Pearl roundabout during demos in Bahrain to turn their laptop around so the team could confirm their live location simply using their webcam.

8 ) Ed Barrow from idio explained how Metro is using a social media dashboard to monitor market level social media and track their readers’ behaviour on site to discover real time trends. Through this they encourage targetted engagement with the authoritative individuals who broke the original news. On the dashboard a component shows if anyone else is writing about it yet. If no one is it tells you to get writing and links directly to the CMS. The print side of the metro is using this too.

9) Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa said the news organisation had to realise that its customers will tweet the news it puts out as soon as it reaches them. reuters is encouraging its correspondents to tweet the news too. Its distribution model continues to evolve/be challenged.

10) Momoko Price talked about BuzzData’s plans to make it easier to encourage a community to grow on your around data projects. Don’t divorce data from the community or the context, she says, but make data quality or creativity a source of pride or shame. From doing this you get a level of discourse that is different from a comment thread because you are engaging a highly data literate community. similarly you can lose that community depending on the data tools you use e.g. Presenting data just in Google Docs doesn’t make it easy for them to leave comments.

I was only in half the sessions if the day – so check out the news:rewired site and hashtag #newsrw for a fuller picture of the day.

The idea that kept returning to me throughout all of the above and the day as a whole was one of newsroom architecture – how to fit in these new tools, roles and processes in an existing newsroom. If you start with the story, what roles or organisational structures then need to change in order to build and nurture the networks required to support investigative, connected, engaging, open and groundbreaking – even sustainable – journalism? These changes and roles are being forged right now, if this conference is anything to go by.


#newsrw presentation – Enhancing community engagement

Last week I was kindly invited to take part in a discussion about community management in the newsroom as part of Journalism.co.uk’s fifth news:rewired conference. My slides (courtesy of Slideshare) and a video of¬† my presentation are below – any as feel free to comment or tweet me @lauraoliver.

Egypt: The ‘Wikipedia’ revolution

While many news headlines have described the #jan25 movement in Egypt as a Facebook or Twitter revolution – conflating platform with substance –¬† the organisation of the protests bore more similarities to Wikipedia, according to Wael Ghonim.

@ghonim, as he is perhaps more widely known, is the former Google engineer whose role as an activist and subsequent detention by security forces had a galvanising effect on the revolution. Speaking at a Thomson Reuters Foundation event last night, Ghonim said the leaderless movement was like the online collaborative encyclopaedia: “you didn’t know who the author was, but you appreciated the content.”

His book about events in Egypt and his own experiences of arrest and detention will have “Revolution 2.0” in the title. But the 2.0 has less to do with technology – it refers to the collaborative nature of the protests, with “everyone trying to do as much as they can to influence the movement”.

Much has been written about the influence of FB and Twitter on the Egyptian uprising – with varying opinions placing varying degrees of importance on these technology platforms, alongside email and text messages – but listening to the assembled panellists last night it was very clear that lessons from tech and the web were almost more important than the tools being used: openness, collaboration, transparency, giving voice to the voiceless, early adopters or activists spreading means and method to the popular.

As we moved to the streets the power of the internet became less and less important. The internet became a tool of reporting what was happening. The role [of the internet] for mobilising people became less and less important.

Not everyone protesting had access to Facebook or were versed in the ways of dissidence, but were being compelled to join the movement, brought out of the silent sides, Ghonim’s fellow panellists Sally Moore and Ahmed Naguib explained.

The web was helping to build networks and teach people a language and means of protest that could challenge the discourse of the old regime – a language and psychology that the military council is still using says Naguib. While Moore gave examples of the old regime’s attempts to use online media to spread misinformation and divide the protesters; Ghonim and Naguib’s comments suggested that new media had contributed principles to the movement’s way of working to help combat this and help those new to protesting and campaigning to learn quickly.

The event also looked at the role of women in the protests, the growth of multiple coalition groups after the fall of Mubarak and how this seemingly fractured landscape will fare as a new democracy is forged. You can catch up with much of this via #trflive and via the website for the event.

(One final point that caught my attention came from an Egyptian journalist in the audience, who asked if the international media’s focus on technology in this revolution had distracted oppression the historical oppression of bloggers and online journalists that had existed long before the uprising under Mubarak?)

Thanks to all involved for a great event.

Journalists, are you ready to face your audience?

My latest post on the Guardian Careers’ blog looks at the increasing importance of customer service in a journalist’s job:

There are lessons we can learn from retailers and non-journalism brands operating online and in social media that could improve our customer relations. A lot of it’s common sense and courtesy, but it’s a different way of operating, thinking and remembering that what we do comes back to serving audiences old and new.

You can read the full post at this link…

Tracking the best of data journalism and infographics

To further my knowledge of Yahoo Pipes and how best to use data and graphics in journalism, I’ve made a mash-up of some of the best news items and blogs covering these areas.

My sources so far are:

There will be plenty I’ve missed out/not yet added yet, so please share your favourites in the comments below and I’ll add them in. Meanwhile you can subscribe to the mash-up feed here – http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.run?_id=6898c48cb12d566a288e29899d2fe36c&_render=rss

Getting ahead as a new journalist – a personal take

Earlier this year I was asked to speak to a group of students at Journalist Works, a journalism training centre based in Brighton, about how the working world of the journalist is changing.

I’m no great PowerPoint whizz, but I thought I’d share the notes (please excuse for typos) and slides I used for the talk:

Presentation slides – http://www.slideshare.net/lauraoliver/journalist-works-presentation

Notes – http://www.scribd.com/doc/36199805/Getting-ahead-in-today-s-journalism-workplace

Lessons to be learned from beyond the news

Fascinating article on Nieman Journalism Lab this week from the author of Newsonomics, Ken Doctor, about the Financial Times and what it’s business model has “borrowed” from internet retailing:

Internet retailing – think Amazon – seems like a very different business than publishing. In the endlessly measurable digital age, though, the parallels are striking. It’s not in what you are selling¬†– books, electronics, or news stories¬†– it’s what you know about your customers, their habits and wants.

(…)If we look at the emerging newsonomics under the FT business, we see how analytics are driving both of the FT’s two basic business lines, reader revenue and advertising revenue.

Reader revenue now accounts for more than half of the publisher’s income. While there are many moving parts under it, the FT’s pricing of its subscriptions, its targeting of markets, its tweaking of offers, and its valuing of paying customers are all increasingly done on the basis of analytics¬†– not on the gut calls that have long fueled news company decision-making.

A different way of thinking as a news and journalism business – something that I’m sure has not been simple to introduce, convince and train people to, of and for. But you only have to read the rest of Doctor’s article to see the benefits.

Learning from other sectors operating online – especially technology and software manufacturers, e-commerce and internet retail – is something I’m very interested in as a journalist and part of an online-only publishing firm. The shift in editorial thinking of producing differentiated, medium-specific content for the web, rather than shovelling print, should be mirrored in a change in thinking about the business and customer service elements of the new site.

Recently Google announced the closure of its communication tool Google Wave – cue much sniggering amongst those publishers who dislike/envy Google for its success. But part of that success comes from the company’s no nonsense attitude to the component parts of its business: if something’s not working, it will kill it off.

As someone much smarter than me once told me in an interview (step forward Mr Ben Hammersley):

People have embraced an awful lot of stuff because it’s fashionable or they feel they should (‚Ķ) When you actually look at the thing, you very rapidly come to the conclusion they’re not just a waste of time, they’re a waste of creative resource and money. If you’re looking for a return on investment or increasing retention, then a huge number of these social media innovations are massively destructive.

Launching digital products and projects needs a different kind of development process and management. The old ways of thinking and project managing launches of new sections, radio shows or TV channels may no longer apply. Neither will the results be measurable in the same ways. We need to learn from non-journalists when creating and implementing the digital products that will hold/distribute/compliment our editorial strengths.