A ‘how to blog’ talk got me blogging again.

Long-term work and blogging compadre David Higgerson and I were asked to give a talk on blogging recently.

Obviously David has lots of thoughts on this subject because… pause… he still actually blogs (and there aren’t many journo bloggers from way back when resolutely still plugging away – Hello! Adam and Paul !) Every one seems to be giving up or shifting to Medium.

Anyway, a side effect of having to prepare for the talk, and then deliver it, was that I had to confront the elephant in the room; I have not blogged for So Long. I very much doubt there are legions of readers sobbing into their sleeves over this fact, but the thing with blogging is this: I get out of it much more than I put in; the drafts folder, for example, of this blog is full of completed or half-formed posts that never got published simply because I a) wrote my frustrations away or b) wrote my way into seeing a solution – one that didn’t require me to foist my deathless prose onto the world.

But I love blogging. I love the subtle behaviours that go with it – the etiquette, the styles, the tinkering with sentences to make your point and then the ‘will anyone read it/care’ moments that follow.

It’s taught me about the language, behavioural codes and niceties of Wheaton’s Law, and about how people are likely to interact from behind the safety of a keyboard and anonymity.

When I started putting the talk together I asked Twitter for insights, and so thank you to those who came back with views – some of you will see your tweets featuring in the slides below.

So I thought I’d share the slides on here, and get my blogging mojo going again. What have I got wrong? What have I missed? What do you agree with? All views welcome. David’s going to publish his slides too, and I’ll link to those once they are live.

Anyway, I’m going to talk my own (and contributors’) advice, and just crack on with blogging again. And this time I will be starting posts with the aim of finishing and actually publishing. Who knows, it might even happen,

On ‘posting a blog’

It’s a small point, in the grand scheme of things, but when people ‘post a blog’ my day loses a little of its savour.

Ancient (well, several years old, at least) blogger credo insists: You post a post to your [web]log; you do not post a blog. You don’t upload a blog either, and there are purists who would prefer it if you didn’t blog as a verb at all. You are allowed, however, to post an update to your blog.  It’s a pedantic minefield.

Having said all that, you can do all of the above so long as you don’t follow the lead of one long-ago sales colleague and tell me (repeatedly) that you’ve “sold a blog” because you think blog is the technical term for a one-off sponsored content slot.

(I’ve nothing against Cathy’s tweeted sentiment, incidentally; she just happened to be the 3rd person to ‘post a blog’ in my timeline today)

Social media has wrecked my blog*

I am a lazy blogger but it’s not my fault. Twitter and Diigo are to blame for my indolence, and Blogger has a part to play in it too. 

You see, it’s so easy to just tweet a link, perhaps with a (very) short opinion, or save it to Diigo and get that site to sweep my curated links and comments onto this blog once a week, that I have gotten out of the habit of writing longer thoughts here. 
Classic example: 

 
This is in the Social Journalism group on Facebook – it’s not a secret group although you need to request to join, so I don’t thing screengrabbing the image is bad form. 
I read Ian’s post and thought he made a very relevant point re verification, cynicism and the requirement to check something out because it seems too incredible to be true, but I couldn’t link to it because FACEBOOK.  
That meant I couldn’t tweet or share it either,
So I was about to give up when I suddenly thought “I could put it on my blog” – and it was a true OMG moment; I really had forgotten that my blog was there for such things. 

In addition to the other social channels taking over, I actually don’t like Blogger much as a platform, but I continually fail to find the time or energy to relocate to another one. See? Again, a lazy blogger. Both these things really need to change.

So how to get out of the habit of tweeting and bookmarking, instead of blogging? Does it even matter, in the scheme of things? 
I started the blog six years ago to test social tools and ways of storytelling, and it gradually morphed into a ‘thoughts about changing journalism’ (I meant that in both senses btw) and now it’s a linkroll of things I find interesting to read, because I tend to forget about it for other things.

Apparently, I’m not alone in this – Nieman Labs says the blog is dead and cites 2014 as the year of its expiration. The Atlantic goes further, and says that the Stream of online organised information is now The Thing – fresh and now are what matters. 
That must mean the River of News is at an end, not so much dried up as diverted into a backwater. (Dave Winer’s reference to RSS, which I see crops up in the Altantic’s comments, incidentally).

But, although I’m a lazy blogger I enjoy being a blogger, and while I enjoy and celebrate the nowness of the Stream, the River is also important to me. 

I think there is room for both; in the same way we’re grappling with how to present longform journalism to readers in a way that is compelling and engaging (which, in English, means they stick with the story rather than going off to look at a list of 19 Things You Did When You Were a Teen That Will Make Your Teen Cringe!). 
At the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo, we’ve worked with Shorthand this month to create two immersive stories around football – here and here – which taught me a lot about the ways we should structure longform. More importantly, both articles were sharp reminders of the idea that if it doesn’t work on mobile, don’t bother doing it – swathes of work was cut from the MCFC story because they simply didn’t make for a good mobile experience. 

So, two things. I need to be less lazy about my blogging and I need to work on my relationship with Blogger, or find a new partner. New month, new attitude… new home?


* The title of this post is of course provocative and wrong – after all, blogging is social media as far as I’m concerned – but it was the best way to describe this post in a pithy headline.

 

For love not money: wise words from Cardiff Bloggers Meet

Now I’ve moved from Liverpool I miss the social meets a lot. Things like Ignite Liverpool, tweetups, Twestival, TEDxLiverpool, and Social Media Cafe turned online mates into real life friends and it was great.
Plus, there’s a kind of comfort in walking into a room and knowing you’re among people who can recognise any given Last Exit to Nowhere logo instantly.

 So although work meant I couldn’t make the first Cardiff Bloggers Meet I was able to get to last night’s – I think it was the first the second one organised sans Hannah Waldram and Ed Walker – held in Jolyons, and it was a packed house. 

Liverpool didn’t have a bloggers meet so I didn’t know what to expect from Cardiff Bloggers. The answer was a buzz of chatter, and a lot of friendly types.
I’d gone with No.1 Friend Glyn Mottershead, and we skipped the blogging surgery that preceded the meet, arriving just ahead of the first talk by Amy Davies, whose Cardiff Arcades Project chronicles the city’s fantastic Victorian and Edwardian arcades through photos and interviews with the shops and occupants.
She spoke honestly and very engagingly about the project – which recently resulted in an exhibition – and had some great tips on blogging and blog projects, around the ‘love not money’ theme.

So, some of the standout points from Amy’s talk:

Pluses: Blogging can give you confidence, you get a buzz from doing things other people are enjoying. (For Amy, it also enhanced her career as a prospective employer knew the arcades project site)

Pitfalls: Others taking your work without consent – particularly relevant for Amy’s photo project. She said: “People take the piss” (sad but true)

Use your community: When she started out Amy canvassed the idea on Twitter and got a lot of positive support from her networks. So she did it.

Cost: A big blogging project can bring losses. Amy warned that as well as being an investment of time, there are financial implications that come with buying domain names, business cards, equipment etc. On the plus side, Amy now sells her photos from her project and received donations towards staging her exhibition. But she said: Think before you start about how much time and money, because it can be demanding. Some exciting blogs start up that don’t continue because of that commitment”

Traffic: The arcades project site has between 3-4k hits a month but, Amy stressed, “targets don’t matter. They did, but I don’t worry about it any more”

 One thing Amy said that struck a real chord with me: “Remember why you do it. Love what you are doing and never forget the reason why you started. As soon as anything becomes too much step back and reassess what you’re doing, because if you don’t love it there is no point.”

Also guest speaking at the event was Jeremy Rees, a volunteer broadcaster for the community-driven Radio Cardiff.
Now, Radio Cardiff came as a bit of a surprise to me as I’d never heard of it – Jeff explained why pretty quickly; there are parts of the city that can’t receive it, and I live in one such dead space.
“If you live in Weston-Super-Mare, you’ll get it” Jeremy said, ruefully.

From what I learned about Radio Cardiff, and it’s small but dedicated team, the theme of ‘For love, not money’ couldn’t have been more true:

Little acorns: Radio Cardiff operates out of a converted garage in Cardiff Bay and purely run by volunteers. It is the only radio station in the UK that has receives zero grant funding and survives by benefits and advertising.

Passion is everything: Jeremy has a Saturday morning show on Soul and Motown music – “I have a passion for radio; I work full-time but get up at 5am on Saturday to do the community radio, because I love it it’s not a chore”.

Collaboration is vital: One of his other jobs is to coordinate the news output on the station. He said: “My dream is that people throughout the city write news and send it a central point and it gets disseminated via the radio. I would love local people to get involved”

Planning for the future: Radio Cardiff licence ends in 2012 but there will be moves to keep it going and to increase the number of people who can hear it. The volunteers are also looking into internet radio.

Social media can be a double-edged sword: “Increasingly it is how we find out what is happening, and now people find out about us” … but the Radio Cardiff Twitter feed was set up by an “inspired volunteer who left and now no one has the password” (This is a nightmare I’m familiar with; a former, enthusiastic colleague set up myriad Liverpool Echo accounts on social networks, didn’t tell anyone, forgot the passwords, left – and it took a long time to get them shut down. We didn’t manage to close all of them and just had to start again.)

Your audience is… unpredictable: Radio Cardiff was set up to broadcast music of black origin to minority groups in Cardiff but its’listener base is diverse and large, only in the evenings is it a markedly younger demographic.

Your audience is… listening: How do you know if you have an audience? “I’m reassured when I make a mistake and people get in touch no matter how early it is”.

So, two very different, fascinating projects – both with messages that I took lessons from. I had a fantastic time at the meet and I did indeed meet a lot of truly nice people.
So – blog advice, interesting speakers, friendly faces and red wine… not your average blustery Monday September night at all. Thanks @cdfblogs!

Journalist or blogger? Both, please.

The above is taken from Dictionary.net; I screengrabbed it as I particularly like the ‘interchange’ reference in no.2. I think it’s something that newsrooms can lose sight of from time to time.


How does a journalist come to accept and embrace the idea of ‘interchange’, when the industry is founded on ‘imparting’? I’d suggest the learning process is quite simple; it’s about the principles of open exchanges in a transparent platform. And I’d suggest that one of the best ways to understand this concept is to

BLOG 

Blogging remains one of the best learning tools I’ve been given access to; whether it’s from working through my own thoughts and ideas on this blog or reading other blogs (be they the work of friends, journalists, thinkers or achievers) it’s taught, and continues to teach me, so much. In fact, blogging can also facilitate no.3 in this list – passage or means of passage between places – if you define a place as a state of mind.

I also find blogging quite comforting – it helps me clarify my thoughts about this industry (and the pace it innovates at), and to read or post responses to the views of others going through similar experience to my owns. In fact, this post was prompted by the need to write something that’s been bugging me out of my system.
I call myself a journalist because I trained in journalism and work in the news industry; I call myself a blogger because I (attempt to) impart or interchange thoughts and opinions via a platform called a blog. I feel defined by both these things, and I believe they are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they are now, more than ever, mutually dependent. And I’m happy about that.

Enhanced by Zemanta

This is not a blog post… this is a confession

This was quite a taxing post to write. It took me a while to work through my thoughts and I suspect it might irritate some as, essentially, it advocates allowing the people we interview to see and change copy before it’s finished.

So, before I get to the point, here’s a story.
As a trainee reporter for a weekly paper I once arrived in newsroom to find a note in my pigeonhole from Fierce News Editor. His handwriting was – still is, I’d bet – too poor to decipher. So I asked him, and braced for impact.
Turned out he’d scrawled me a compliment along the lines of: “Liked your piece on Bird Woman; you’re turning into a decent feature writer”. I remember his words practically verbatim not because of any warm glow they produced, but because of the guilt.

The ‘Bird Woman’ of his note was a former personality who had dedicated her twilight years to bipeds of the feathered-variety. She refused requests for interviews from local (or, on occasion) national journalists but, after months of cajoling, she agreed to give me an interview… so long as she got to see the copy first. She said ‘see’, we both knew that potentially meant ‘change things’; I wanted that feature and so I went along with it. Sending my article to her before it was published was a big deal to me; moreover, I think I’d have got absolute carpeting if my news editor had ever found out.

I interviewed her, I wrote it, I posted a draft to her (yes, it’s that long ago) and a corrected proof arrived a few days later. The corrections were, to my shame, mostly spelling but I also remember some adjectives (it was for our magazine so the odd random act of prose was permitted) were replaced – ‘small, elderly’ became ‘sprightly’ for example, and ‘eccentric’ became ‘a local character’ – vanity changes that were important to her, as a septuagenarian dealing with a teenager who couldn’t spell ‘receive’ properly. The feature ran, I had lovely feedback from readers and colleagues, but it was ashes in my mouth.

I’ve sent my copy out for approval on two other occasions and both subjects were rape victims – one a young girl who recounted her ordeal as her father stood, frozen and grieving, behind my chair watching my shorthand, the other was a woman in her eighties, reunited for the first time with the son she’d conceived during the attack. I broke the rule for a simple reason – I simply couldn’t bear the thought of getting their stories wrong. Hence, I broke it for me, not for them.

All journalists get asked the “Can I see the copy” question at some point; most news editors will advise trotting out something along the lines of: “I’m sorry, it’s against company policy”. I think newspaper-types feel a little wounded by the request – why, anyone would think you don’t trust us. But, culturally and professionally, print journalism is undergoing a sea-change, which is sweeping aside long-held tenets.

Letting others see your copy-in-progress in advance of publication is no longer the issue it was, because we’re already showing the thought-processes behind articles via blogs, tweets, liveblogging, crowdsourcing, livestreaming and more. The big ‘Ta-daa’ moment of revealing an exclusive is a lovely thing if you’re the reporter writing it but if others are blogging or tweeting or commenting on forums about various angles before you’re anywhere near a print deadline what are you gaining?

I’m not saying journalists should just hand over all articles pre-publication, whatever platform that article is intended for so individuals can approve (“Could you just ask the defendant if he’s happy with this latest trial update M’Lud?”) although John Terry would probably like that a lot. But I do think we need to challenge the ‘never let them see your work’ attitude.

The rise of collaboration and the opportunities for openly developing a story mean that those involved can be active participants rather than passive subjects, and I also think platforms like Google Wave can allow reporters to develop interviews, ideas and question threads in real time.
For the newspaper industry, especially for print journalists, I think the sooner we grasp the concept that collaboration means showing our hand the better. If someone shares their story a reporter, then asks to collaborate with them by seeing – and most probably amending – the article pre-publication, then an automatic “No” is a difficult position to maintain.

Updated with Irish Mail on Sunday response: A sad tale of a deleted blog

UPDATED 28/01/10… see additions in bold, and the statement from Irish Mail on Sunday reproduced in full at the bottom of the original post. See also journalism.co.uk’s latest article.
I read a blog post today that made me sa d and angry in equal measures. Blogger Melanie Dawn – an air traffic controller in Ireland – appears to have been comprehensively turned over by the Irish Mail on Sunday. If her story is true – I can’t find the relevant article online but there are plenty of Irish tweeters discussing the subject [UPDATED – thanks to Harriet who posted a link to the article in the comments sectioin below] – then it’s a horrible example of lazy, selfish, uncaring, ignorant, arrogant journalism.
[UPDATED: A statement from editor Sebastian Hamilton received today 28/01/10 statesIt is simply untrue to say that the paper did not contact Mrs Schregardus before publication. On Thursday, January 21, Luke Byrne attempted to contact Mrs Schregardus by Twitter (the only contact details he had) and asked her for an interview. On Friday, January 22, Mrs Schregardus replied. She informed Mr Byrne that she had sought permission from her trade union to speak to us. He awaited further contact from her, but he did not hear from Mrs Schregardus again. Either she chose not to speak to him or her union refused her permission to do so. >>> So, for me, how does the above statement change things? Looking back to my news editor days, and asking myself what would I have done, I’ve thought long and hard about it.And I can say, in all honesty, I would not have run the story as it stood at that time. If the reporter told me he hadn’t managed to get a comment from the person who originally wrote the blog post I just cannot see a circumstance where I would let it go. I’m sorry if that sounds like I’ve overdosed on Hindsight but there are some things that are worth taking a chance on, and some that aren’t. I’ve made some howlers in my time but I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being cavalier.  However, even with the blogger not co-operating, it could possibly have used (although obviously not for that week’s publication) by the reporter used this post as a springboard to crowdsource the industry and find out if the wider picture. Crowdsourcing is a gamble – you very rarely end up having your pre-crowdsource story being confirmed but it can lead to deeper, better investigations. I’m thinking of David Higgerson’s investigation into Flyglobespan’s late flights. That ended up being a very different story indeed]
Her blog post begins:

“I deleted my blog this morning. I didn’t know what else to do. I was minding my own business when I got a call from a good friend of mine sympathising with me about the Mail on Sunday article.

“What Mail on Sunday Article?”

What follows is her account of how an archived blog post had formed the basis of an article for the Irish MoS; an article which was published without, she says, her prior knowledge or any apparent attempt to contact her by the journalist responsible. The full post (and there is a growing number of comments too) is here.

She observes “The Mail never told me they were writing a piece about my blog. The journalist who wrote it never sent me an email asking me questions about my blog” and she is seeking legal advice.

Now, I believe that if you’re not prepared to have your opinions held up to public scrutiny then don’t put them in the public domain. [UPDATE 28/01/10: The MoS statement continues – “…Mrs Schregardus had already put her description of her workplace into the public domain. In this respect, publishing an open blog is little different from giving a TV interview, making a radio broadcast or sending out a handbill: you are airing your opinions for all to hear.
>>>>>>> I agree A blog is absolutely in the public domain (unless you happen to have taken the ‘keep private’ opinion and if you’re writing it then you really do need to keep in mind there is potential for the whole wide world to read it. But circumstances can change, and if a journalist plans on reporting an historic post as a current opinion then they do need to know things have not moved on.]

However,as far as I’m concerned, to simply lift copy from another person’s blog post (especially on such a contentious subject) without checking with the writer in any way is shamefully bad journalism. If the MoS has been a party to such an act then it should be working on its public apology right now. You know what? I’m not holding my breath.
[UPDATED 28/01/10: The statement not an apology, it’s a rebuttal but it does continue the dialogue and address points Melanie Schregardus (blogger Melanie Dawn) raises in her post. As a blogger (as the disclaimer in my biog says, this is my own blog, not a work one) I’m pleased that the MoS has included included me in the mailout of its statement, which I’ve reproduced in full below. 

STATEMENT FROM THE IRISH MAIL ON SUNDAY 

The Irish Mail on Sunday has responded to a complaint from Mrs Melanie Schregardus, regarding our article of January 24. We await her reply, if any. In the meantime, however, here are some of the facts surrounding this case:
 
1. Some months ago Mrs Schregardus published a 500-word account of her experiences as a female air traffic controller on an internet blog that was open to millions of people around the world to read. Mrs Schregardus made no effort to restrict the viewing. In the week air traffic controllers staged a four-hour walk-out, it provided a fascinating insight into working conditions in a job that was obviously of major public interest.
2. It is simply untrue to say that the paper did not contact Mrs Schregardus before publication. On Thursday, January 21, Luke Byrne attempted to contact Mrs Schregardus by Twitter (the only contact details he had) and asked her for an interview. On Friday, January 22, Mrs Schregardus replied. She informed Mr Byrne that she had sought permission from her trade union to speak to us. He awaited further contact from her, but he did not hear from Mrs Schregardus again. Either she chose not to speak to him or her union refused her permission to do so.
By this stage Mrs Schregardus had already put her description of her workplace into the public domain. In this respect, publishing an open blog is little different from giving a TV interview, making a radio broadcast or sending out a handbill: you are airing your opinions for all to hear.
3. The Irish Mail on Sunday did not attribute to Mrs Schregardus the view that her colleagues were sexist. Luke Byrne quoted extensively from what she had said about her working environment. His account made clear that some of the sexist behaviour described by Mrs Schregardus (such as refusing to let women sit together) occurred during her early days as an air traffic controller and that conditions have improved since. While the article reported a number of sexist incidents, it does not say she is unhappy: for example, it quotes her as saying: ‘I’m well looked after by the guys, they’re quite protective of their “girlie”.’
Nevertheless, based on the contents of her blog, it is an empirical fact that her workplace is a sexist environment. Mrs Schregardus describes ‘banter’ between her male colleagues that, in her own view, is ‘quite inappropriate’ in front of a woman. She adds that that she is forced to pretend that such comments do not bother her.  Furthermore, Mrs Schregardus describe how to this day she is one of very few women employees in air traffic control – and, extraordinarily, that she still expected, ‘as the girl’, to take on secretarial tasks such as sending birthday cards and organising Christmas parties.
In the eyes of the law, and presumably of most reasonable people , male workers who make such comments and treat female colleagues in this way in a 21st century office would be considered to be behaving in a sexist and discriminatory fashion. Indeed, several of the comments on her original post sympathise with the attitudes of her colleagues or tell similar stories of women being discriminated against in the workplace (one, from a Danish Tweeter, says: ‘Come to Denmark, my friend – I do hope we offer some more respect than described here’.)
4. Last week’s air traffic controllers’ strike, which brought the country to a standtstill, was presented by union leaders as being about fairness for workers. In this context, it was a matter of public interest to tell our readers how some air traffic controllers actually behave towards female colleagues.
5. The photograph of Mrs Schregardus which we published to accompany this article came from Page 36 of this online magazine http://issuu.com/connors-bevalot/docs/publication1_-destress
Like Mrs Schregardus’s blog, it had been put into the public domain by Mrs Schregardus herself. 
Sebastian Hamilton
Editor
The Irish Mail on Sunday

Related articles by Zemanta

Enhanced by Zemanta

reBlog from blogs.liverpoolecho.co.uk: Liverpool Echo – Tech Blog

I have a new blog – it’s an official work one, ostensibly about technology but actually about all kinds of digital stuff that interests me. Not likely to bother TechCrunch, for example.
Anyway, I wrote about a local Flickr group issue on it as my first post

There was a right royal kick-off in the online world the other day, thanks to a number of national newspapers running photos of people pretending to be the Queen without seeking permission to use them.blogs.liverpoolecho.co.uk, Liverpool Echo – Tech Blog, Dec 2009

As one of the Post group’s members claimed his photo used by an agency without his permission. And the row started there…
You can see more here http://www.flickr.com/photos/communitybrother/4064894944/;but I thought it was worth highlighting again.
Everyone makes mistakes, but this is something that could have been resolved with an apology, some money, and a willingness to learn about dealing with not just online communities, but dealing with anybody in a correct manner.
That doesn’t seem to have happened.

(Incidentally, I’m reblogging this using Zemanta – never tried it before; hopefully it will work).

UPDATE: Reblogging with Zemanta puts in lots of paragraphs, and maybe I forgot to title it but I don’t recall it gave me an option. Anyway, it’s still quite useful – I think. And I absolutely love that it suggests Outdoors and Caving as potential tags for this blog post…

Enhanced by Zemanta

Guest-blogging on Media140

I wrote a blog post last week which you won’t see on this site. It was about how and why I use the Favourite option on Twitter, what its uses are, and different was of checking out other users’ Favourites, and when I finished it I pinged it off to the Media140 blog to use however they wished.
If you want to read it – and please, please do! I don’t want to be responsible for a dip in their traffic – the post is here.

It was the first time in just over 18 months of blogging that I’ve written a post for another person’s blog site, and it was a very different experience. I enjoyed it and it was a subject that I found interesting (hopefully so did others), but… I was a bit nervous about doing it because someone else (Dominique Jackson) had invested some trust in me – they’d asked me to provide a post on Twitter on their blog, and I wanted to do it justice.
I get angsty about some of the posts I write here, but at the end of the day this blog is my comfort zone, my own space where I can nip into the backroom and edit post-published spelling horrors, for example; guest-posting was a whole new responsibility.

As it turned out Dominique gave it a lovely standfirst, edited the intro so I looked witty and bright and uploaded it. And then she tirelessly promoted it. So thanks for asking me to guest blog Dee – it was another new learning experience in my blogging life. And, um, I have another idea for a post…

Talking social journalism at TEDx Liverpool

I was asked if I’d be one of the speakers at TEDx Liverpool – the first of several TEDx North events taking place over the next few months – and it turned out be be a memorable day.
Based around the mind-stretching theme of Creativity, I got hear presentations by from Microsoft’s Steve Clayton and Tinker.it’s Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino among others, I met some Twitter friends in real life, and got covered in bubbles by Bubblino.

The theme of my 15-minute talk was Social Journalism – I wanted to explain my thoughts on how journalists who engage communities and interact on social networks can tell stories and gather news more completely, and with better results – and it featured as an example the July crane collapse in Liverpool, as I’d blogged around the subject then and thought about it a lot since.

There was some powerpointage which I’ve now put on Slideshare.net (without the original punctuation errors – it’s amazing what you miss until it’s up on a damn great screen in front of an audience!) and hopefully it was of interest to TEDx-ers, although I guess the tech crowd must have wished for 15 minutes more of the Microsoft Surface.

The questions at the end were challenging – I think a lot of people outside newspapers must find the crisis facing the industry fascinating. There were a few Post&Echo people in the audience and it must have been a bit weird for them to listen to me discussing the future of journalism in fairly frank terms. As I said at TEDx, my views are my own, not those of my employers. I don’t keep them to myself particulalry, but neither do I accost co-workers in corridors and urge them to join Twitter. Perhaps I should.

I wonder, for instance, what my colleagues made of me saying journalists needed to take themselves out of the story, and stop trying to shape and influence it? That journalism wasn’t the sole preserve of those paid to do it? That in the future there would be journalists – just maybe not so many, and perhaps they would be working for several employers across different types of media.

The thing is, journalism is changing, the way news reporters operate has to change, and the way we interact and seek out our audiences has certainly got to change. Answering questions on public social networks like Twitter doesn’t lessen the importance of a piece of information – it strengthens it, makes it easier to share, and for more people to apply their knowledge. The facts of a crane collapse – the Hows, Wheres and Whys – become really compelling when you add in the Whos: Who was involved; who saw what; who got hurt/had a miracle escape/rescued a neighbour. And you find out Who by reaching out – talking to witnesses, listening to their stories – both in the real world (by going to the scene) and online (by engaging on social media).

Anyway, that’s how I see it. For more on TEDx Liverpool have a look at this blog post by The Guardian’s Sarah Hartley – and if you’re thinking of going to any of the others I’d act now; tickets for Manchester have already gone.