Friday, 27 February 2009

Misc thoughts: Silverlight, Flash and Twitter

I've been on a Flash for Beginners course for the last two days. My hope was that learning the basics that way and spending some time with Mindy McAdams book Flash Journalism would result in some skills and ideas for interactive multi-media storytelling I could spread around our business. We shall see. I think the main lesson so far is that Flash is very complicated and it would take huge commitment on the part of a journalist to master it.

Anyway, early days. I was quite pleased with the animated bug I made on the course but I don't think it will be winning a Pulitzer Prize.

Meanwhile alerted me to something I had missed in the whole Obama overload thing - it's a multimedia Silverlight thing which stitches lots of photographs together and lets you freely navigate through them (if you have the will). But the one that caught my eye was the UGC set which is basically composed of photographs from people around the world which show them watching the Obama inauguration on television. I found myself moving from scepticism to compulsion quite quickly. Nice use of UGC.

Finally, Twitter. It's gone mad of course. It's great that so many of our editorial people have suddly taken the plunge and hopefully the n00bs1 will start talking to people in their markets rather than just to each other any day now. Meantime, I'm finding Twitter rather overwhelming. It feels like ambient noise rather than ambient intimacy. I may switch it off.


1. For definition of n00b consult 140pedia which is dedicated to providing definitions no longer than 140 characters for the Twitterati.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Twitter: proving the value to journalists

My US colleague Dan Blank has done some interesting work on The ROI of Journalists and Magazines Using Twitter.

Dan looked at the 277 tweets from the School Library Journal during January. He concludes:

So, at the most basic level, how much exposure did this bring to School Library
Journal. It’s a difficult metric to pinpoint for a variety of reasons but a conservative estimate is: A few thousand page views.
Dan analyses the kinds of tweets and identifies three further areas that Twitter has delivered beyond merely traffic:
  • Engaging the Top 10% of Your Audience
  • Improving Editorial
  • Marketing across more networks
Highly recommended it and I'll be adding it to my "Must Read" list for journalists:

Friday, 13 February 2009

Roy Greenslade and the West Seattle News

One must walk on eggshells here of course but Roy Greenslade's Subeditors: another attempt to explain why they are becoming redundant nevertheless makes for interesting reading (although the subtext can be reduced to: we have to save money somewhere; where else are we going to save it?).

Meanwhile over in the US of A arrogance or desperation leads the West Seattle News to publish an editorial explaining why their newspaper is vastly superior to the local bloggers who can offer more detail and faster along the way containing gems such as:

Professional journalists don't waste your time. [...] Instead of 3000 (sic) words about a community council meeting that was 'live blogged' with updates every seven minutes, wouldn't you honestly prefer 300 words that tell you what happened and what was decided?
which, of course, is an utterly pointless question. As the blog herald responds:
Let’s say I’m really interested in local politics but can’t attend, then the live blog is a great way to keep up to date as it happens. Is it the perfect way to cover a council meeting? No, of course not, but it is live and happening right now.
Another question (presumably intended to be rhetorical):
Do you seriously want to simply be referred to a series of links where you must delve deeply into issues spending hours of time to glean the facts?
Ummm. Yes. Of course. I always want the option to go and get more information elsewhere.

Anyway, the connection to the Greenslade piece is this comment attached to the WSN editorial from a reader which made me lol.
"Professional journalists don't waste your time"
Yeah, but the blogs can use a spell checker, and have a basic sense of grammar. Have you even read your own paper? It looks as if it was written by a 3rd grade special ed class.
Whether the West Seattle News rcently jettisoned all its sub-editors I do not know.

Quarkbase: "everything about a website"

Thanks to today's "tip of the day" in for alerting me to the existence of which aggregates a whole lot of stuff about a website including a useful "social popularity" section which diplays - in one handy place - number of delicious bookmarks, pages on Digg, references on Yahoo! Answers etc etc.

Love it.

Here are the results for one of our sites -

Thursday, 12 February 2009

National Post reporter has total Twitter melt down | MediaStyle

I like technology reporters and I like marketing consultants but which is better? There's only one way to find out:

National Post reporter has total Twitter melt down | MediaStyle

It's just too easily done, isn't it ?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Falling Off A Blog: The Web Production Desk

I agree with what Karl Schneider says in Falling Off A Blog: The Web Production Desk and not just because he's my boss.

Also because he's clearly bee thinking about it very hard (for the last nine months, since your last blog post, Karl ? :-) ).

What surprised me when I read it was the impression of just how different web production is from magazine production. I know that seems obvious, but the aims are much the same: to engage readers and to make it as easy as possible for them to assimilate meaning and/or information.

There's a huge gap between the two in terms of basic skills. I mean, a lot.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Data Visualization

We've been doing some work here to try and expand people's thinking about what an "online feature" might look like.

Actually, the issue is more about what an online feature isn't. It almost certainly isn't 1,500-2,000 words with a couple of pictures and maybe a sidebar if you're lucky.

Of all the migrations from print to online, the journey of the Features Editor is perhaps the hardest.

Anyway, our list of ideas for more engaging ways of presenting non-news content grows by the day but even so I was thrilled to discover FlowingData recently, a website dedicated to data visualisation.

Here are its 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year to give you some examples.

Here's an example from the BBC's Britain From Above: