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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

Back to basics

The multimedia revolution is an interesting one. But while all newspapers should be embracing the multimedia revolution, I still believe online media should supplement not replace print journalism.

And there is not a better example of this than in The Birmingham Mail this week with their exclusive on Aston Villa footballer Gareth Barry’s farewell letter.

Gareth Barry letter, Birmingham Mail

Gareth Barry letter, Birmingham Mail

HoldtheFrontPage reported that Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson refused to publish the letter online until after it had been published exclusively in their print edition. This was a gamble which paid off. It meant media companies such as BBC Five Live, Setanta and Sky Sports News could only use a copy of the letter from the Birmingham Mail’s print edition giving the newspaper a huge amount of publicity and increasing print sales by more than 4,000 copies that day. Smart if you ask me. So why have newspapers been ignoring these basic principles for so long?

Timing is everything with the web. And I think this is not understood well enough by editors at the moment. By timing I do not mean madly rushing to get something up online as soon as possible. It is about carefully considering the pros and cons of publishing immediately or holding off. Sometimes, particularly in the case of exclusives, there is more benefit in holding off, as demonstrated by The Birmingham Mail.

The public does not care who published the information first. They do not care whose amazing journalism skills brought in the scoop, they simply care about the news and what it means to them and the rest of the world. When we hear that a teenager girl from Cardiff has first degree burns from a sun bed we don’t read it and think, wow… the South Wales Echo sourced that story first. We think about the safety implications coin operated sun beds have on our children.

How many members of the public sit there refreshing news sites to see if their regional paper has got an exclusive? Realistically it is only our fellow multimedia journalists who are obsessively checking their RSS feeds, twitter updates and so forth to see if there is anything they have missed. And if they find something, there is nothing to stop them from simply passing it off as their own without crediting the original source.

What is the point in being a first class journalist with the ability to bring in dozens of off-diary stories and having brilliant networking skills, if a budding churnalist of a rival newspaper comes along and respouts your exclusive as his or her own? Churnalism is a big problem at the moment. It is inexpensive and non-time-consuming meaning it is a great alternative to on-the-ground journalism.

My point is this. Multimedia journalism is the way forward but editors must consider timing as much as the content of their sites. Otherwise without clever timing, churnalism will be allowed to get out of control like a parasitic weed.

Filed under: blog posts, Online Journalism, , , , ,

Cardiff journos v City journos 2009

The annual grudge match of Cardiff journalists versus City journalists was a success again this year – Cardiff journos won 2-0!

Apologies if video quality is poor, I had to reduce the file size as it was initially too big for You Tube. Also could have done with a blooming tripod!

Filed under: blog posts, Videos

The Labour Party – the new Big Brother show?

Local and European election results clearly show public feeling following the expenses fiasco.

The Labour Party is finally being punished. Punished for MP’s ridiculous expense claims that have made a mockery of the tax payer and left a bitter taste of distrust in the political sphere among voters and politicians.

The floodgates of expense claims opened with an adult movie bought by Jackie Smith’s husband and sneakily put on the taxpayers’ bill. But it didn’t stop there. We later discovered that MP’s have made claims for moats, helipads and duck hotels, their hands snapping at the purse strings of the nation – all under Gordon Brown’s bleary-eyed watch.

Westminster - the new Big Brother house?

Westminster - the new Big Brother house?

Moral is at an all time low and faith in the once almighty Labour Party has all but disappeared.

Now politicians, many at the forefront of the expense embarrassment, are jumping ship to save themselves. Jackie Smith, Hazel Blears and James Purnell have all publically resigned. Who is next in this mutiny?

Gordon Brown can reshuffle the old crew all he likes but rotten wood will always be rotten wood. What the public needs is strong new wood to rebuild the ship’s skeleton and the bones of a democratic society.

An early Autumn election is the only way to do this. The Labour Party has lost all credibility and the only way to gain this back is with a General Election.
Having established that politicians are completely incapable of self-regulation, it seems obvious to let the public make the decisions in terms of who should stay and who should go.

In denying the public this, it is ignoring the principles at the heart of a democratic society. It is denying a fresh start and forcing the ship to sink faster.
Gordon Brown’s botched attempt at rebuilding the ship with a so-called reshuffle is a joke.  Anyone can see this is not going to save him. It is simply prolonging the suffering of him and his crew.

And this joke is being played out before the eyes of the nation. It seems a similar show to Big Brother is being played out before us in the Houses of Parliament. It is embarrassing to watch. What little respect there was left for contestants is gradually wearing away further.

And as with the show, if the public has no say in evictions, people simply start switching off.

We need to stop Westminster being seen as a joke and rebuild respect. Gordon Brown needs to step up and give the chance for the public to participate. This is the only way forward and out of this mess.

Filed under: blog posts, Politics, , ,

Harmless fun or a waste of time?

I’ve seen Twitter used for a number of things… news updates, stalking celebrities… but psycic Twittering now?  That is exactly what blogger and avid Twitterer Richard Wiseman has teamed up with New Scientist to do. Wiseman will travel to different locations around the UK and send a Twitter post for fellow Twitterers to use their ‘psychic ability’ to determine what kind of place he is at.

Screen grab of Wiseman's Twitter page

Screen grab of Wiseman's Twitter page

Today was the test run. He posted the message below on his twitter page at 3pm today and gave fellow twitterers 20 mins to post their guesses or psychic answers on his twitter experiment page.

OK, at target location NOW. Post the thoughts, feelings, impressions, and images in your mind. You have 20 mins. Everyone GO!”

The answer was near a river. Realistically though, call me a skeptic but is this not a complete waste of time? He could just copy and paste the same message each day without even bothering to go to the location. Upload a photo and say he was there and no-one would know the difference. Maybe that is the real test – to see how many Twitterers will be foolishly drawn to his Twitter page to use their so-called ‘psychic abilities’.

But on the other hand even though my head tells me it is ridiculous, there is a real urge to give it a go. I mean after all it is only a bit of fun I suppose, and maybe deep down I want to guess because secretly I’m thinking, maybe by some weird coincidence I will get it right.

Click here for Wiseman’s blog.


Filed under: blog posts, Online Journalism

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