The top 10 most read posts on this blog in 2010

I write about all sorts of stuff on this blog, but try to stay focussed on the stuff I think people would want to read about, so check the top posts stats quite a lot.

I’m always amazed that so many people read my blog, and thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and comment on them.

With the clock ticking down to 2011, I thought it might be worth seeing which posts were the most-read in 2010. Happy New Year everybody.

10. The council which wants to charge for all FOI requests

Chester is a city with a proud history of being a fortress. The walls which the Romans built to keep them safe remain today, although the only invaders these days are tourists.
The local council, Chester and Cheshire West, is keen to draw as much attention as possible to would-be visitors about what the area has to offer. Start asking questions about what the council is up to and you’ll find the council is a little less forthcoming.
It has become the first of what I suspect may be a number of councils to try and kick up a stink about the impact of the Freedom of Information Act. In what must be a contender for the most hopelessly one-sided press release of the year, the council press office informs people that taxpayers are footing the bill for FOI requests relating to the numbers of cheques it processed, whether it employs feng shui consultants and if it knows it its buildings are haunted.

9. Working with hyperlocal sites: 10 tips for reporters

I spent part of Saturday at the Talk About Local unconference in Leeds, listening to what hyperlocal bloggers are up to – and picking up on their thoughts about the mainstream media. From that, here’s a list of things journalists working in the mainstream media may find useful about hyperlocal journalism:

8. Council newspapers: How the Mayor of Hackney proved why council newspapers need to be scrapped

As for not pretending to be a newspaper, it has non-council features, stories about gardening, four pages of what’s on listings, a history page, recipes and Sudoku – all elements which can do nothing but confuse people about the paper is supposed to be there for. After all, how many of those do you expect from a council publication?

7. FOI: Six questions which can lead to better results

I’ve been back on the Freedom Of Information Act training treadmill over the last fortnight and one of the debates we often have is around where using FOI should sit in the life of a story. On one hand, it can be a way of getting a story which you otherwise wouldn’t get, but is there a danger that we default to using FOI too quickly?  If we do use FOI too often, is there a danger press officers will just start telling us to ask for everything under FOI?

6. FOI Friday: 10 things we’ve learnt this week thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (March 5)

This FOI Friday included crimes in hospitals, large mobile phone bills at a council, problems with potholes and effective use of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

5. Five search engines (other than Google) for journalists

Warning: This isn’t a knocking post about Google. Google is great for the vast amount of searches we do, but it’s always dangerous as a journalist to fall into the trap of only ever using one search.
If Google does have a problem, it’s the fact that with so many different organisations competing to be on the first page of results, it’s quite possible that the search results for a given term won’t change from one month to the next.

4. A quick guide to Twitter and making it work for journalists

“People tell me that Twitter is a great way to get stories and make contacts but how do I find people who will be relevant to my work.”
That’s a question I’ve been asked several times in recent weeks, so I thought I’d throw together five points on making Twitter work for you. Only it’s actually six points. Stan Collymore, believe it or not, is a good example of someone who has made it work for him and his radio show.

3. Seven useful search engines for journalists

One of the first posts I wrote when I began this blog looked at alternative search engines to Google for journalists. It wasn’t a knocking post about Google, but a post which aimed to explore if there were alternatives to Google for journalists seeking information beyond Google’s first page.
Earlier this year, it became the most read post on my blog by a country mile after being linked to from an American forum, and with that link came a list of suggested other useful search engines to explore.
Last week I finally got around to looking at some of the suggestions, as well as some new ones which I’d heard about elsewhere. What follows is a list of seven search engines which I think have potential for journalists who are digging for information related to stories and projects. It’s not intended to be definitive, just useful (I hope):

2. The William Hague story: A bad day for bloggers or proof of a shifting of power?

Does Hague’s response suggest that he and his colleague over-weight the true impact of what is written on blogs for the wider public? It’s certainly the mother of all statements, and there’s a danger it sets a new precedent for denying rumours. Will we now see a glut of rumours around the internet in the knowledge that a denial is likely to follow?

1. Hyperlocal websites: 10 ideas

Over the past few months, I’ve been researching ways that hyperlocal sites and local newspapers/websites could work together. In my opinion, in many cases the relationship between the two is improving although most would probably suggest there’s a way to go yet.
The idea for this list came out of a few of those conversations. While few, if any, hyperlocal sites seek to replace the local newspaper, I think there are a fair few principles hyperlocal sites could take from local newspapers to attract a wider audience.


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