Category Archives: Newspapers

Honey, I shrunk The Times to a newsletter

VIRGINIA McMILLAN: With non-subscribers prevented from reading The Times on the web, changes are being forced on the content, argues Clay Shirky, author and teacher.

Links to Times stories are rarely forwarded by colleagues or friends or linked to from Facebook or Twitter, says Shirky, adjunct professor in New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program.

On his self-titled blog, he argues the paywall has created “newsletter economics”, and offers some analysis of the readership data. Shirky sees the Times becoming “the online newsletter of the Tories, the UK’s conservative political party, read much less widely than its paper counterpart”.

He concludes:

If you are going to produce news that can’t be shared outside a particular community, you will want to recruit and retain a community that doesn’t care whether any given piece of news spreads, which means tightly interconnected readerships become the ideal ones. However, tight interconnectedness correlates inversely with audience size, making for a stark choice, rather than offering a way of preserving the status quo.

Under fire: Bloggers’ citing and linking rights

Whitireia journalism student HANNA BUTLER alerts us to a chilling new practice emerging among media companies.

As reported by Megan Tady, a legal firm is targeting bloggers on behalf of publishers suing them for sharing entire articles, linking to an attributed article, or even hosting a forum where readers include links to articles in comment sections.  The moves are revealed in the nonprofit and independent newsmagazine In These Times.

(See Megan’s article: Copyright Enragement — In These Times.)

News of the world of tabloid hacks

VIRGINIA McMILLAN: The Guardian has led recent reporting on phone-hacking allegations against fellow British newspaper News of the World.
Nick Davies, critic of journalism practice in the book Flat Earth News, has a string of investigative and news stories on the phone-hacking scandal here.
Davies also unearths some of the thousands of names targeted by the News of the World’s private investigator.

WikiLeaks: The Guardian tackles big data

VIRGINIA McMILLAN: Staff from British newspaper The Guardian have analysed their own reporting/ethical and data analysis approaches to the massive bulk of data they received on Afghanistan via WikiLeaks.

What got The Guardian started? Investigations executive editor David Leigh writes:

What actually happened was that my Guardian colleague Nick Davies, in an inspired moment, tracked down nomadic WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in Brussels, about a month ago.

In six hours of intensive talks, Davies established three things that could never have happened before the internet age.

One, that the US army had built a huge database with six years of sensitive military intelligence material in it. Two, that many thousands of US soldiers had access to this electronic archive, and some had been able to download copies.

And three, WikiLeaks now had one copy which it proposed to publish immediately online, via a series of uncensorable global servers. READ MORE HERE.

On the nerds team, hugely important in this exercise, was Simon Rogers, who reflects for  on the unpacking of 90,000 rows of data.

News ‘hubbing’ – no longer the way to go?

ARE INTEGRATED newsrooms already a thing of the past?

The major innovation necessary since the start of this century, according to many big media companies, has been hubbing everybody together so that all copy is available for all titles and outlets in a group to use at will and instantly.

It’s all being unwound at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall St Journal and related companies, reports Editors Weblog here. (Plus ca change…)

Online video journalism crosses over to TV

Nepalese villager. Photo: Mike Scott, Taranaki Daily News.

By Virginia McMillan

TARANAKI Daily News’ video footage was spliced into a TV3 News item last week about Kiwi and other Western dentists helping Nepalese villagers with dire tooth problems.

Turns out the provincial New Zealand daily newspaper, with a range of sponsors, had sent reporter Mike Scott to Nepal on the trail of philanthropic Taranaki dentist Julian Haszard.

I was impressed by the straight-to-camera comments Scott drew from Haszard and other medicos for the video segment of his reports. The dramatic landscape was also allowed to “speak” throughout the video.  The seven-minute video story is published here, along with one of Scott’s feature articles.

Google’s nerds breathe life into news presentation

By Virginia McMillan

GOOGLE is leading the way again – this time, suggesting online news sites organise and display particular stories in one place, and in many ways, as they unfold.

With The Washington Post and The New York Times, Google has constructed a one-page, one-story, many media approach to journalism: Living Stories.  It seems, once again, the nerds have a lot to teach the journos about making our content work.

The Google Living Stories approach looks promising and challenging, demanding much more attention to sequencing – ie, point-and-click for background on the same page rather than add it to every story and dish it up on a mixed news page.

The “living story” approach demands summaries that clarify the significance of new developments.

The living story also links all the varied types of material (including opinion pieces, source materials, multi-media) on the one subject in the one place. An example is this health-reform page. The design isn’t exciting, yet, but over all this is great stuff. It seems likely to make good journalism costlier to present – reinforcing the need for staff with sub-editing as well as HTML skills. In some cases, the idea may also help news outlets develop online content for which the public will pay.