My Interesting Reads (weekly)

  • “A solution based on giving people the same thing for a new, higher price only opens you up to disruption. A solution based on providing more value for your users that keeps them loyal to you is going to last a lot longer. “
  • “This is all going to turn into B-roll. With each passing day, the filing clerks of our hearts and minds will cart it a little further back, to a dimmer and dustier shelf. But it happened, so that:” This piece of writing really resonated with me. I think beyond the remarkable writing and heart-rending topic, it’s an important message for journalists. Not to let an issue become a B-roll. 
  • Best or worst? Anyway, some of them were new to me. I do like Sweden’s idea though – I wouldn’t call it fail;I think it’s actually quite cool 
  • I’ve made it into Hansard, albeit with a sex change. Still, Alison is a pretty easy name to confuse. Sigh.  I’d care less if he at least agreed with me. 
      • I see I have changed sex. If it’s in Hansard, I guess it must be true. 
    • accept that there are concerns about state regulation. In a letter to me, the editor of my own regional newspaper, the Daily Post, said:

      “I am strongly opposed to statutory regulation of the press.”
    • However, I say to that newspaper editor, and to others who share his view, that we need to consider what that means. In his summary of recommendations, Lord Leveson says:
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My Interesting Reads (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Emerging markets… in Journalism?

A new, uh, spin on corporate communications reached me via The News Hook’s post How HSBC uses journalism to reach new customers. 

Essentially, HSBC bank has found a niche in the knowledge market – in this case, how to expand into emerging economies – and is filling it with niche content. The article explains:

HSBC’s tack was to start a news site focused on helping American and Canadian businesses that want to expand abroad. Recent articles explore how changing policies in China could impact international companies, whether international companies need political risk insurance and why American companies should consider going public in Canada. Some of the content is behind a subscription wall but membership is free (the site claims 10,000 members and over 10,000 visits a day).

According to News Hook, the site has 10,000 members, and HSBC is using the gap in the market not to push its services, but to meet users search needs and, I assume, convert them into customers if possible.

“HSBC has been very progressive in understanding that in having more voices with their content, that it’s just a better way of creating a dialogue with viewers to the site who are ultimately potential customers,” says Deborah Stokes, who edits the site… “[It is] independent content and independent voices.”

I’m intrigued. Trinity Mirror has a number of writers in the regionals whose roles includes anticipating and responding to users‘ online searches – for example this on

I’m not sure if a bank moving into journalism is a brilliant innovation or a bit ‘all your base are belong to us’ but it does raise the question that, beyond the mainstream media and the independents, there is another funded strand for journalism and professional journalists.

As an aside, I use a Zemanta plug in on this blog, which helpfully throws up linked articles around what I’m writing. I thought it’s related articles choices for this were... illuminating.

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My Interesting Reads (weekly)

  • This issue of having reporters respond to critics online is, says Jeff Soderman, one of courage and trust for publishers. I agree. You cannot cheerlead for your staff to get out on social media, and then bust them over the head the first time they make a mistake. But people need to take advice, learn fast and – crucially – not be dicks when they respond.  “As far as I can tell, this type of strict ban on journalists responding to complaints is not “commonly used” by broadcasters or other news organizations “across the country,” though we invite you to share examples in the comments if you know of any places where it is policy. But is it a good idea? The decision boils down to two factors: trust and courage. Do you trust your journalists enough to handle these interactions professionally, and do you have the courage to weather the fallout of a mistake or two along the way?”
  • Instapaper creator Marco Arment, posting on his blog about his app strategy for The Magazine:”If the App Store gets spammed with hundreds of bad clones, The Magazine itself will lose credibility and potential subscribers as people make incorrect assumptions about its article quality. That’s why The Magazine isn’t part of a bigger strategy: I don’t want everyone to rush into this model, making an app that looks and works just like mine. I don’t want to make “the WordPress of Newsstand”, because I don’t want it to be that easy to copy The Magazine.”
  • Handy roundup of some of the free tools available
  • Henry Blodget does the maths to speculate at what point the NYT becomes supported by digital revenue alone 
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The rise of the retweet junkie

I thought I’d tweeted off my chest the things that appalled me about the ‘be first or be right’ social media minefield following the shattering horror of the Newton shootings. 
 But then I read this post by Andy Dickinson, and it struck a chord. It made me realise I hadn’t blogged a lot recently because I was either posting tweets or just using Diigo‘s bookmarks-to-blog option and not bothering to otherwise update my blog. 

 Writing my thoughts down here has only ever brought me clarity, and wise words of advice or support from people who stopped by to read them. I don’t have time to do the tool exploration and testing I used to on here (which, incidentally, I really miss) but if I can’t find 10 minutes a week to consider the stuff that’s annoyed, inspired, smacked me between the eyes with its brilliance or helped me shape how I think, do or feel about journalism, then it’s a poor look-out.  

Cheers, Andy.

Anyway, to return to where we came in the social media ‘first or right’ issue. I tweeted this a few hours after the shootings, which I had to follow on my iPhone, as I was travelling (and mostly followed via Twitter) 

I was angry and perplexed that opinion and rumours were being peddled and passed on as if they were nuggets of Golden Truth. 

Even Jeff Jarvis got himself tied in knots after taking on trust the Twitter account of the (wrongly) identified shooter was genuine and real.
It wasn’t the right account. hell, it wasn’t even the right name. Cue this.

But mistakes like that aside – and taking as read the fact that how people react on a social network is but a sideshow to the enormity of this tragedy – what I saw on Twitter on Friday night was depressing. 
It wasn’t about racing to share information, and I actually don’t think it was about being first, a lot of the time; it was about ego, and the retweet boost. 

Journalists can be needy creatures. When I was a reporter I wanted the front page; not much better than landing a belting story and being told it’s going to be the splash – it’s Hack Crack. 

On Twitter, Hack Crack becomes Retweet Smack, and it’s available to all, courtesy of the site’s Interactions option which shows just who and how many times your tweet has been favourited or shared.

Four or five years ago, I was sitting down with journalism students and urging them to use social media to raise their profiles, and market their work and themselves. 
I still believe that’s vital, but I also think the whole ‘be your own brand!’ clarion call has helped create RT monsters. 

RT monsters don’t need news breaks to exist – their bible is Favstar, and you’ve probably encountered them on a day-to-day basis. 
Typically, they’re the user who takes your Twitpic link, deletes your tweet, and reposts it with their own, or they steal others’ jokes and ideas, and post them as their own – Twitter’s Witty Writers brigade gets very vocal about this. 

Retweet junkies abound on Twitter. I think Pat Smith summed up the issue of neediness and validation perfectly with this, during a discussion about the Newton Twitter frenzy:

Validation – now there’s a thing social media was made for: How many followers do you have? How often do you get retweeted? Who, exactly, are your followers – any good ones? What’s your Klout score, your Favstar ranking? Who likes your Instagram? 

Personally, I want my journalists to validate facts, not themselves. You can be a brand without letting it become the most important thing about you.

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My Interesting Reads (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.