Posts Tagged ‘telegraph’

Let’s make love, not walls

May 13th, 2009

The ugliest phrase in journalism at the moment is ‘pay wall’. Isn’t it just the worst possible way of describing what we want to achieve? Wall says restricted. Wall says “this isn’t for you”.

And wall sums up an entire attitude too. An attitude that we desperately need to shake off. An attitude that says the choice we have is either a) a free online newspaper or b) a paid for subscription for an online newspaper.

I say bring this to the table: c) A newspaper with added valuable extras which cost the reader.

What are valuable extras? Your star columnists. Your war correspondents. Your exciting multimedia. They can — and should — be behind the pay lid

What aren’t valuable extras? Hard news, breaking stories. In other words, the stories that every news website in the world can — and will — publish.

In today’s Evening Standard, Emma Duncan says the pay wall will never work because of one crucial enemy: the BBC. There’s no escaping it — the BBC’s resources, know-how and power could never be rivalled by any newspaper. That’s been the case for years. But she’s missing the point.

Later on in the same paper, their new sex columnist, Nirpal Dhaliwal suggests lovers should “Get yourself on to the roof of any major skyscraper for a similar adventure — Bush House for instance.” What better place to embrace your lust than on the top of the BBC World Service’s headquarters?

So taking Nirpal’s lead, I say let’s make love, not walls.

Newspapers may not be able to compete with the BBC. But on the same token, can the BBC ever compete with newspapers? A new colleague of mine at the World Service argued that newspaper journalism is REAL journalism. It’s the digging in. BBC News crews are so wrapped up in covering every major story of the day that they have literally no time to think about what it all means.

Take the recent Daily Telegraph scoop. Could the BBC have followed that one to its dramatic climax? No way. Couldn’t happen. But the Telegraph could. And boy, it did.

So far from looking at the BBC as an immovable object, I say the BBC is allowing newspapers to get on with it. The BBC News website is the Mr Muscle of online publishing. It really does love the jobs you hate.

Now if my time at the BBC has taught me anything, it’s that ideas are worthless — it’s working examples that really get you somewhere. So, taking the Telegraph scoop into consideration, here’s how you could handle the story online while making back some of the reported £150,000 you spent finding it all out:

mps-expenses-telegraph_1242171378405Here’s the homepage for the expenses story (enlarge by clicking). What are your valuables here? The great scoop about Lib Dems? Strangely not. This is the story that will — and indeed, already is — be thrust around news sources in seconds. In fact, I’d argue that none of the stories in the main area are valuable extras at all. In old money, they would have been — they would have been the money-grabbing front page. But not today. Big stories are shared stories — the important bit is using the kudos to your advantage.

The valuables, then, lie elsewhere. Look at the sidebar, what do you see? Comment. Simon Heffer on the spirit of Cromwell. Denis MacShane on how the BNP shouldn’t be allowed to capitalise on the scandal. These are your valuable extras. Knowing that it was the Telegraph that did the digging — isn’t its own analysis considered to be the golden nugget of its output?

And there’s more. You could charge for things like this. People appreciate the effort. Indeed, I didn’t buy the Telegraph this week, but had I have done I would have immediately looked up my local MP. This article appeals to me, and a micropayment arrangement would have worked.

And to top it off, the Telegraph could hurl in income by saying offering a one-time payment (two quid?) which gives you access rights to all expenses-related material on the site.

It’s all actually rather easy.

Full text on Guardian RSS feeds

October 25th, 2008

The Guardian has become the first major newspaper to post their articles in full in their RSS feed. Glorious news.

It’s a move that’ll delight readers, but even more importantly, it’ll delight Google. From the Google Reader blog:

This is a huge first step in making more content available in more places, and we applaud the Guardian for taking it.

There is no more important a relationship that an online presence can establish than one with Google.

Now come on, all you others, keep up.

Gate Police: Queengate… no no NO!

September 24th, 2008

It’s been a while since my last Gate Police post, but this effort from the Telegraph is going to take the sporadic feature of out temporary retirement.

RDF Media blames increased losses on Queengate

RDF Media Group, the television production company behind last year’s Queengate debacle, saw first half losses before tax leap to £1.5m despite the success of its Channel 4 show Secret Millionaire.

Sigh. At first glance, I thought RDF were having a pop at a local shopping centre.


Labour conference across the web

September 23rd, 2008

We often see breaking news coming into its own on the internet — there is no better place for it — but sometimes it’s good to see the other side of the journalism world: the diary story.

Gordon Brown’s speech today at the Labour Party Conference, in Manchester, was dubbed the ’speech of his career’. Which is perhaps a step down from Obama’s ’speech of his life’. Life or career? There’s something rather British about the difference in semantics there. Anyway.

We all knew it was going to happen, so how did it play out across the ‘net?

Sky News Online rigged up their fun ‘CoverItLive‘ system which, it seemed, was specifically designed as some sort of vitriol bucket, catching every instance of Labour hate imaginable. ‘Cheryl’ was doing a cracking job of giving running commentary — but this was perhaps wasted. I — and everyone else in the UK — could just watch it live on the BBC’s iPlayer (or, indeed, Sky’s live player. But it was nowhere near the same quality as the Beeb’s). Maybe Sky should consider getting some experts in to participate with these live miniblogs. Guido Fawkes?

The BBC did their usual. And I’m glad they did. As the public-funded broadcaster, they need to just be a platform. No space for ridiculous, over-the-top and uninformed opinion a la Sky. As expected, the live coverage on the BBC News channel was tip top, a good, reliable live stream available online.

While we’re discussing the BBC, it became an ongoing gripe that they kept on suggesting that some of Brown’s comments were aimed at David Miliband. For a media organisation that is so intent on cutting out spin in politics, it seems odd to me that they insisted on towing that particular line.

Twitter was surprisingly quiet. Perhaps in a sign that the micro-blogging site hasn’t really come of age in the UK just yet, there were very few (according to Twitter’s search function) instances of ‘Gordon’, ‘Brown’ or ‘Labour’. I follow 138 people on Twitter, and often the people I followed appeared in the global feed. In the UK, at least, Twitter is a very small community, and should not be overestimated.

The Guardian had a great blogpost providing what they called ‘instant reaction’. Written by Andrew Sparrow — who bears an uncanny resemblence to David ‘Not running for leadership’ Miliband, look! — he didn’t make use of fancy-pants software like Sky, but instead just repeatedly edited a standard blog post with timed updates. It worked well. Special marks to Andrew for his interaction with his readers — it’s great to see a journalist dipping into the comments thread on his posts. It should happen a lot more often.

The Independent had no such web-focused coverage. Their leading piece is this monstrosity of an article that is impossible to read on a screen. I’m sure the article is very good, but at 2,281 words, it’s about 1,800 words too long.

The Times had this cool little word count thingy. A nice touch, but ultimately useless. It tells us nothing we don’t know already. Fun though. On a slightly unrelated note, it does feel like The Times’ site is looking a little dated these days, particularly their blogs.

The Telegraph. Speech coverage FAIL. What in God’s name is this? Quite possibly the most useless piece of video I have ever seen on a lead story. “We need to know what’s going on,” spouts the journalist in the piece. Yes we do. So why aren’t you telling us? We know what a journalist does, thanks. The Telegraph’s video is edited together like a crappy internal training video. Not what I’ve come to expect from one of the best producers of online video news in the UK. Utterly rubbish.

Let’s make this an awards ceremony.

The award for best coverage goes to: BBC

Now while they did nothing special online other than the usual, the live BBC News channel stream offered by far the best quality of broadcast and analysis.

The award for worst coverage goes to: The Telegraph

A un-related video and a one-man band blog do little to interest me. This is all about what the country thinks.

Experimentation award goes to: Sky News

If they can dip in some experts into their online chats, I think they’re onto a winner.

My personal thoughts on the speech…

I thought it was terrific. I’m no Labour supporter, but Gordon Brown did a mighty fine job out there today.