1. Why the ‘views are my own’ disclaimer may not be enough to protect you on Twitter
2. How to get more out of Pinterest
3. A post to read every week:
4. There’s more than just Twitter out there:
5. And finally … the apology to end all apologies?
With print circulations going down, and tools online making it possible for anyone, anywhere to launch a campaign, how does a local newspaper ensure its campaigns still get attention and, most importantly, get results?
Simple: They innovate. And in this age of austerity, areas outside of London have perhaps never needed a campaigning voice which can turn heads as much as they do now
A rather remarkable thing happened the other week. The Northern Echo carried a splash which included the mastheads of pretty much every other newspaper in the north east. The Journal – its traditional rival – carried the same story. And it also appeared on the front page of various other daily titles – including the Evening Gazette in Teesside and the Sunderland Echo – and took up pages in The Chronicle in Newcastle and the Shields Gazette. And as the week continued, the same story was covered in a variety of weeklies.
The reason? As reported by Hold The Front Page, the region’s newspapers are lining up together to fight for a better deal for the North East from Government. In short, they feel they are being short-changed by Westminster, and there’s a lot of evidence to support that argument. Their solution is to see more power over public sector spending devolved to the region. It’s a very sound argument, backed up by political heavyweights such as Lord Heseltine, who has already identified £70bn which should be allocated to regional Local Enterprise Partnerships.
All for one…
Eric Pickles – the man to defend FOI?
Yesterday, communities secretary Eric Pickles generated a fair amount of Press with his new guidelines around public access to the decision-making process at local councils.
A lot of it will be very familiar to journalists who cover councils: How council meetings work, what access you can expect and what you can request council officers to provide.
The big headline was that Mr Pickles was reminding councils that they should allow people to cover council meetings live and film them too.
Like many of Mr Pickles’ previous pushes around transparency within Town Halls – such as demanding the end of council newspapers and insisting all councils publish spending data over £500 – there doesn’t appear to be a law behind the new demands around filming, just an expectation that local politicians and council bosses will do what the minister tells them.
As an approach to working with local government, it’s generally been effective for Mr Pickles. Only Nottingham City Council refuses to publish council spending data (as far as I can tell), arguing it costs too much money to justify – and ironically wasting a lot of time and money arguing with government about the fact too.
As for council newspapers, many have folded, or reduced in frequency. A hardcore few remain, and Mr Pickles now plans to ensure the remaining ones are closed down by backing up the publicity code of practice with legislation.
So there, hopefully, is proof that what Mr Pickles wants, Mr Pickles gets.
Back when I used to do FOI Friday weekly (I do mean to get that going again), there was an FOI request which kept turning up again and again and again.
The first time I noticed this particular FOI was in June 2009 when the Bristol Evening Post revealed the OAP crimes which were committed in the Avon and Somerset area, including a suspected 99 year old burglar.
Since then, it’s yielded stories across the country, including an OAP crimewave in Brighton, two 85-year-old women arrested for assault in Birmingham, a violent 94-year-old in Manchester and a 99-year-old who was discovered ‘equipped for stealing’ in Cambridgeshire.
Ok , so I’m not keeping up with this as well as I’d hoped.
I’m still seeking out books by journalists but I keep being distracted by authors I already know. Like Michael Connolly, author of the brilliant Bosch books, or the latest John Grisham novel, which, to be frank, was a mistake because he’s not like the Grisham of old.
Anyway, I found Dan James (aka Dan Waddell, and if you recognise the surname, he is Sid’s son) and his website after stumbling across a discussion he was having on Twitter about the Lucy Meadows case – the transgender teacher from Accrington who took her own life several months after announcing how she planned to change her life.
Dan, who describes himself as a recovering journalist, was very critical the coverage of Meadows’ decision to go from being Mr Upton to Miss Meadows prior to her death. As has been well documented, the coroner in the case, Michael Singleton, has strongly criticised the coverage Miss Meadows received at the hands of the national media, even though there was no reference to the media coverage in evidence presented to the coroner’s court. Anyway, that’s a blog post for another day.
Despite the ‘recovering journalist’ reference and all the connotations that phrase contains, and the fact Waddell attributes his father’s belief of ‘never letting the facts get in the way of a good story’ as key to his success on tabloids (both statements which will wind up the many hard-working, honest, community-minded journalists out there), I did get as far as buying one of his books: Unsinkable, published in 2012.
1. So there’s no money in digital? Is that so?
2. In case you needed reminding, how social media is changing the world (again)
3. If you’re a football fan, find an hour to watch this documentary
4. Struggling to get your head round the Prism data snooping story? Start here:
5. Managing UGC in a breaking news situation:
Variety Packs … Like Newspapers?
An interesting article based on quotes from a former regional newspaper editor appeared on Hold the Front Page last week. Former Leicester Mercury editor Keith Perch, now a freelance consultant and part-time journalism lecturer had come to the conclusion that readers will ultimately have to pay for journalism.
The article was based on a post Keith had put on his blog. I’m grateful HTFP wrote about it – I’ve now discovered his blog and, while not always agreeing with what he says, I think there’s a lot many journalism experts could learn about how to blog in an inclusive, multimedia way.
The post which prompted the HTFP article also stated that for news organisations to get people to pay for news, they’d have to offer up something which people valued. And there’s the big challenge.
Sadly, when articles like this are written, all too often the debate becomes about how the internet has killed the regional press, and how the regional press has inflicted most of the damage itself by giving the online content away for free.
Keith suggests that Johnston Press is losing £21 in print revenue for every £1 it is making in digital. I see that as a dangerous way of framing a discussion – it invites the ‘turn off the website’ devotees to argue the two are interlinked. Few other industries compare one revenue stream against another in the same way, instead focusing on the need to make the most out of the growing revenue stream while trying to protect the other for as long as possible.
The secret is to ensure that while protecting the one, you don’t restrict the other. Recently, a friend at another newspaper publisher told me they were considering keeping copy off the main website to ‘make people buy the e-edition.’ That’s one way to stick up a paywall – and a good way to ignore the mistakes of 2006.
I picked up this newspaper while staying with relatives in Hertfordshire at the weekend. It’s the Watford Observer, covering on the front, as you might expect, the Play Off Final which saw Crystal Palace pip the Hornets to the Premier League in extra time.
I’ve posted it here because it struck me as being a really clever image – clearly one of the ones which sets the tone for the headline as well. And a nice change from the close up of a weeping fan.
And seeing the local MP paying for a front-page ad to promote a public meeting was a nice thing to see, too.
1. Social media – the military way. Can loose tweets sink ships?
2. Free books about journalism: Great guide from Paul Bradshaw
3. Data visualisation … of every geo-tagged Tweet:
4. Has the internet killed photojournalism?
5. So getting on the Buzzfeed bandwagon isn’t so easy after all
1. Same brand, different place: An inspiring look at where newspapers are going:
2. A brilliant tribute to a mentor
3. Twitter as a news organisation?
4. Why there should be more to online advertising than just click-through rate:
5. Are we doing local government staff an injustice through stereotypes?