Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wanna be a journo? Got lazy english? Get a job on a rap website

Earlier today a much more popular blogger than me Bucky Turco, posted about the major embarrassment of Hip Hop website accidentally posting rap supremo Paul Rosenberg's email address. Rosenberg manages the biggest rapper on the planet, Eminem, you may have heard of him.

He also runs owns which brings me to my point which Turco seems to have missed. If you are a journalist emailing the guy that is effectively your boss would you use u for you and 2 for to? It makes failing to capitalise Jay's last name look like a pretty minor error. Maybe he's just too busy for those five extra key strokes.

Now far be it for me to moan about subbing, as anyone who has perused my blog will know, I make my fair share of grammatical and spelling errors but this is ridiculous. I'm booking a ticket on the next plane to NY to get in the mix with these guys.

Image courtesy of Kyota

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cloud computing and its affects on free speech

As journalists maybe we should be a bit worried about major software giant’s who champion the development of cloud computing. Journalists really only have one stock to trade on and that is trust, although they should also have some shares in honesty. Without these it’s unrealistic to expect people to be interested in what we’re writing, broadcasting or blogging.

Now if all your work was published on Google’s mainframes does that not mean that Google is your editor? Only thing is I’m not too sure about having Google as my editor. Its principles aren’t really the same. You may well remember that Google, along with Microsoft and Yahoo, has been complicit with the Chinese government in blocking pages which criticise the regime. There are powerful economic reasons for doing this but it is not a course of action that is compatible with good journalism.

Would I trust them to publish my content if it was on a hot topic of the day? I have little reason to believe that the UK government would pressure Google to remove my controversial stories from its mainframes in the same way, but we are talking about instituting a system for many years to come, not just the here and now. Make no mistake, cloud computing is expensive and it would take some time to disperse it if it were to become the norm.

Google works at the whim of the market and what is good for business is not always good for free speech. Robert Petson has been accused of playing a part in the financial crisis arguing that his reporting of it further undermined markets which led to companies failing. Is it possible that had Google been publishing his material they might have been inclined to remover or sabotage it for fear of affecting their stock price as markets slumped. Obviously we don’t know, but we do know that they are inclined to chose economic advantage over an ethical one, as their part in China’s great firewall shows us.

If google were to do this to sure up their own stock, it would affect journalists stock of trust in the oposite direction. The question is: Do journalists really want to be put in such a vulnerable position, for the sake of a bit of convenient file sharing? Let us write for to improve our own market price not someone elses.

Image by mellowbox

Friday, November 28, 2008

Personal branding: Peston and Coke

It is quite possible that journalism has entered a virtual world where the brand of an individual has the potential to be as powerful as the brand of a multi national. Martin Lewis and Robert Peston are perhaps the two most obvious examples of this. They have become the go-to-pundits for money saving and impending financial doom respectively.

What do these two have in common? Besides an in-depth knowledge of their subject, good journalistic skills and some flare for self promotion. They all have an audience which is pretty web literate.

It is fair to assume that Mr
Peston’s business audience are likely to be tech savvy. Mr Lewis’s audience is less easy to identify but given that he has built his reputation off the back of a website, they are obviously big web users.

Is it possible to build a personal brand using web publishing (no-other means allows you to be a one man band in this way) in an area where the your audience is less tech savvy? The
truly great brands, such as Coca Cola, have a recognition which goes further than their immediate customer base. Is it really possible for an individual to do this?

This study claims that web users are primarily 18-49, which seems
fairly logical to me. So is it possible to sustain a self branded career if your audience is pensioners.

Taking the risk that is resorting to stereo type, I have tried to find any blogs or
correspondents who write about crown-green bowls, this being synonymous with retirement. I have resolutely failed to do so. However i did turn up a number of news and views pages from local clubs or larger umbrella sites.

This in itself is far from conclusive. It's possible
I've identified a gap in the market but i think it more likely that we are not about to turn the brand model on it's head just yet. Until the digital revolution reaches a larger spread of the population Mr Peston's brand is unlikely to rival that of coca-cola.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Everything you ever needed to know about online journalism

This took a couple of weeks for Eva and I to put together but finally here it is. There's a lot of talk in the online world about how this web 2.0 malarkey is going to change the way journalists work. You could read about it on thousands of blog posts or you could just watch this.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Policing contempt law on the web

This last week the web has been coming into quite a bit of conflict with the law. The cases of Baby P and the leaked BNP list raise questions for how our legal system safeguards information in a world where it changes hands so rapidly with only minimal accountability.

In both cases information that is potentially damaging to people involved has found its way into the public domain in spite of the co-operation of the big media channels. To distribute either the BNP list or certain information in the Baby P case would be breaking either an injunction or court reporting restrictions and potentially leave you open to being found guilty of contempt. It’s still happening.

So there are two options either further cyber police are needed to lock all the virtual doors, or we just let everyone have it.

The first is too expensive and most probably won’t work.

The second option could leave all sorts of sensitive information in the public domain. The names of the people in the Baby P case are widely available, even by text, despite the fact that they may threaten future legal proceedings.

Perhaps what we need to do is move towards a system where the onus is on the jury to exclude this material from their decision, rather than ban the press from distributing it. After all is the reason that people want to know this information not at least partly linked to the fact that they are not allowed to.

Derren Brown knows the power of this all too well.

What might this new law look like?

Well I should probably start by saying that no-one really knows. Even any solution devised today may well be outdated tomorrow. The internet moves fast; Westminster does not.

It seems clear that we have to trust jurors to do their job properly and stop viewing them as the weak link in the chain. Perhaps the only way to gain that trust is to study their workings. This is still prohibited by today’s law.

New contempt laws might:

  • Allow publication of material, but put emphasis on the jury to exclude this information.
  • Include provisions for extra days to give jurors detailed guidance on what they can and cannot consider.
  • Put up jurors in a hotel without access to the net or other media.
  • Monitor media use from their homes for the period of the trial.
  • Allow for jury members to be struck off or replaced at early stages if they are found to be taking onboard outside influence.
  • Include harsher penalties for obvious use of outside influence.
  • A thirteenth lay person to monitor impartiality in each case.
  • Allow better external monitoring of decision making to refine the system, but not to influence individual cases.

These are just ideas and at this moment in time there is nothing more concrete in place. The contempt of court laws look set to remain inadequate for some time yet.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ten Commandments of Successful Blogging

This week I was lucky enough to be at a lecture by Adam Tinworth on the art of the successful blogger. Drawing on some of the things he and a few others have said, my own experience and the bible; I give you my Ten Commandments of Successful Blogging.

1. Thy god is SEO
Everything you write has to be found. Make sure that happens.

2. Thou shall always be honest
Even in cyberspace it’s still the best policy.

3. Thou shall choose a subject and stick to it
People don’t want to wade through all your thoughts on 100 different things. If you have that much to say get 100 blogs.

4. Thou shall be informed on your subject
If you don’t know say so, then get to know.

5. Thou shall have a conversation with your readers
If they bothered to read what you write and then write back it’s the least you can do to do the same.

6. Thou shall link, link and link again
No one knows your here unless you link to stuff, then they’ll link to you and everyone is happy.

7. Thou shall keep it short and simple
Size really doesn’t matter.

8. Thou shall be visual
Pictures speak 100 words (video speaks more) and blog posts should never be 100 words. The conclusion is obvious.

9. Thou shall post regularly and often
If you want to keep people coming back.

10. Thou shall occasionally break the rules
No one ever got successful sticking to the rules on silly blog posts.

Image by Ben Brown

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Swansea Accordion Orchestra

Ever wanted to hear famous show tunes played by a group of accordions? Well that's exactly what you can get at the Millennium Centre on 16 November. I went to have a chat with Swansea Accordion Orchestra last night for alt.Cardiff and they were both highly entertaining and welcoming.