My ‘interesting reads’ roundup (weekly)

  • Disruption is an apellation that’s flung around a great deal. Music is a disrupted industry… media is a disrupted industry… But handles get in the way of actually stopping and understanding what that means. Newspapers are in a state of disruption – the dictionary defninition is To throw into confusion or disorder or To impede progress.  Disruption is not a bad thing – confusion and disorder can be catalysts to change – but that second definition ‘impeding progress’ is happening way too much. Tied inextricably to fear of change, disruption within print media is one of the biggest impediments we face. This, from HBR, breaks down disruption into 5 stages, and applies them to something straightfoward – Twitter. (who would have called Twitter straightforward five years ago?!). I recognise all of these stages; the trick is to get past them ” Too often however, our response is to ignore and forget change, to fake our way through it, to pretend an engagement and a mastery we do not have. And that’s bad. That means we are not getting better at change, but steadily worse. We are denying disruption, instead of adapting to it.”

    tags: culture+change disruption management

  • Mathew Ingram reflects the pros and cons of newsgathering a live event on social media. “there were plenty of fake news reports to go around on Monday, from reports of suspicious vehicles to the arrest of alleged perpetrators — just as there were during superstorm Sandy and the school shootings in Connecticut. But does that invalidate Twitter as a news source? And should the service try harder to filter out bad information and highlight verified news reports? I think the answer to both of these questions is the same: No.”

    tags: journalism

  • Ken Doctor tackles the delicate subject of Content Marketing and asks why so few newspaper organisations are investigating whether it offers revenue opportunities for them. “As news companies rediscover the power of their own content, there is new revenue to be gained. How much, not whether to seek it, will be the major question.”

    tags: innovation disruption journalism

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

My ‘interesting reads’ roundup (weekly)

  • Weirdly, I was talking to someone about scale, innovation and why markets need start ups and big companies,  and then read this piece on Medium on the same theme… ” in the gilded age of Instagram and Summly acqui-hires we have simultaneously demonized big companies and glamorized start-ups to the point where the innovation challenges and opportunities in both environments are wildly mis-represented. Start-ups are indeed the lifeblood of our innovation economy but we also need some of our best and brightest to take on the leadership challenge of innovation within larger companies”
  • Yes, yes, yes. When will employers, training schools and the NCTJ recognise that fact? Answers on a postcard please… “Candidates should describe their success conceptualizing and building news apps, data visualizations, and interactive graphics. If you are a visual storyteller, someone who sees the narrative in numbers, and thinks in code, this is your opportunity to make a mark. Expect your journalism skills to be as important as your programming skills.  This editorial position will ask you to tell stories differently and inspire others to do the same. The work will require advanced experience with HTML5, CSS, JavaScript (jQuery); an understanding of responsive design and proficiency with interaction design and user interfaces; familiarity with mining and manipulating data and Web scraping. Light Ruby or Python helpful. Basic requirements: College degree Minimum of 2 years programming experience Advanced command of HTML5, CSS, JavaScript (including jQuery) Light Ruby or Python for data mining, Web scraping Comfort with data analysis Understanding of responsive design Familiarity with Final Cut Pro and Adobe InDesign”
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Why is the person you’re quoting a ‘spokesman’?

I try not to start posts off with “when I was a young reporter…” but, well, here goes: 

When I was a young reporter the word ‘spokesman/woman’ didn’t really appear in local papers. 

It was part of my weeklies paper training that you included the names of whichever person was speaking on behalf of an organisation, rather than using the ‘spokesman’ title, and using that anonymous identifier was frowned upon. 
Generally, it would get sent back by a sub with a request  order to add the name.

Anyway, it struck me, this week, as I leafed through my paper, that doesn’t seem to be the case any more, and I wanted to do something about it.  
It wasn’t a dig at press officers or media managers, it wasn’t a point-proving exercise, it certainly wasn’t a campaign. 
But I think if someone is representing, especially from a public body, they should be named – after all, they are in TV or radio news broadcasts, when they stand up and do their thing. 
I also think it’s good journalism to name the people you quote. 
But somewhere along the way we’ve stopped doing that with the people representing companies and organisations.
I know subs are in short supply these days but training isn’t lacking – has ‘spokesman’ become the norm because there are just so many of them now?

So, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I got to wondering: When did we stop naming spokespeople in our articles? And why do we think readers don’t need to know the name of the messenger?  
And then I asked Twitter for some thoughts. 
There were quite a lot of responses, from hacks, ex-hacks and people working in PR, so they’re collected in the Storify below. If you’ve got some thoughts to add to the debate, for or against, I’d love to hear from you. 

[View the story “When, and why, did we stop naming press officers? ” on Storify]

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My ‘interesting reads’ roundup (weekly)

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

Tindle Newspapers: Hyperlocal successes may not pay the mortgage

UPDATED: This is a really old post (from 2010 in fact). I accidentally republished it today while going through the back end of my blog to find posts on local news reporting,  to research something for a conference. Quite how I managed to plagerise myself I don’t know. So, if this sounds like I’m repeating myself, I really am. Sorry.

Sir Ray Tindle was speaking at the Local Heroes conference last week and, from Twitter, I detected a lot of love in the air for what he was saying, but it was only when going through my rss reader today that I got the full gist of what he was saying.
His take on the future of newspapers is fairly optimistic; he doesn’t believe the gloom, and he has some basis for making that bold claim: Tindle Newspapers – which totals 230 titles – has weathered the recession with its journalistic workforce intact.
But the line from his talk that really caught my eye was when he cited the Tenby Observer as an example of hyperlocal publishing. That was my first paper, and unless things are very different now, I would say the adulation should be a little tempered.

TenbyImage by Steve Oliver Imagery via Flickr

Throughout my life whenever the question “Where are you from?” comes up my reply of “Tenby” generally prompts a response along the lines of “Ooh! We used to go there on holiday when I was a kid”. It’s one of those postscard places – golden beaches, pretty town – that exists for tourism but which has a thriving year-round community.

When I was little it was a big old broadsheet printed out of a ricketty operation in The Parade, Tenby, and was my mum’s employer for at least two decades. It was edited by Arthur Ormand MBE (always Mister Ormand to me, with the MBE was silently tacked on the end) and every single journalist in the UK owes the Observer a debt of gratitude, because without it, you might not be sat in your local council meeting.
The masthead carries the legend Pioneer of Press Freedom, and that’s because it was responsible for the 1908 Admission of the Press to Meetings Act being pushed through Parliament.

If I was off school sick, or during holidays, I used to end up sat with Mum in the Observer offices, childcare being a fairly ad hoc thing in the 1970s, and the Law of Sod meant I ran into Ray Tindle and his sidekick, Tom McGowran, more frequently than either probably would liked but they were both unfailingly tolerant.
A careers councillor asked what I wanted to do when I was aged 17, noticed my A grade for A level English and – in desperation I think – suggested journalism. I started work at the Tenby Observer about a month later, and I suspect editor Neil Dickinson is still wondering how the hell that happened.

I was given the task of covering Whitland, about 17 miles away, Welsh-speaking, and aggressively covered by the Western Telegraph and Carmarthen Journal. I had a camera (I had to develop my own photos), car mileage, two magistrates courts, two councils, numerous agricultural shows and summer carnivals, to cover, for the princely sum of £30 a week – upgraded to £40 after two months – and for about 13 months I had the most through induction to local newspaper life (and hyperlocal news) I could have wished for.
I wrote up weddings and funerals, sat in show tents painstakingly writing up the results for ‘best heifer not yet showing broad teeth’, I got lost, made horrific mistakes (I once married the bride to the vicar) and called in every single favour that my family had accrued in generations of living in Tenby and Narberth.

I used to see Sir Ray, as he was by then, and Tom too, and both of them would always ask how I was getting on. He won’t remember this, but I once got Tom to help me jemmy a stuck film out of my camera; how many CEOs in the newspaper business would do that for a trainee, I wonder? How many of them would not only remember that trainee’s name, but ask them how they were getting to grips with the patch they covered?

And then, just when I was getting to be of some use to the Observer, the Western Telegraph came in with a job offer that included putting me through the NCE, and off I skipped.

But wherever I worked around England and Wales, the Tenby Observer remained a part of my life, because I received it every week in the post. It’s always been a link with home; the Observer was a part of my family life; every birth, death and marriage, every swimming gala photo and rugby trophy, cricket league, long service award and more was recorded in there.

Tindle had a terrible reputation among journalists when I worked for the group, because of the lack of training and the low pay; obviously this may have all changed in 20 years but I couldn’t help wondering what the situation was now when I saw all the positivity and praise for the group after Sir Ray’s talk last week.
Sometimes reporters left regional papers I worked on to work for a Tindle title around London, and there was a common theme – ‘the pay’s shit but I can live at home and it’s only til I get on a national’. 
Believe me, the pay was rank. And there was also the odd editorial meddling – like Sir Ray’s papers, regardless of location, having to cover the annual London to Brighton classic car run because he was a competitor, and in 2003 Tindle papers were also stopped from reporting news that might damage the War Effort, so to speak.

But I do admire Tindle group. Nevertheless, unless it has changed the terms it offered its workforce I won’t get too carried away about it being a complete model for other groups to emulate. Cherish the hyperlocal approach it does so well, by all means, but don’t think Tindle is Utopia.

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