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links for 2008-03-29

By on Mar 29, 2008 in Uncategorized |

Finding Political News Online, the Young Pass It On – New York Times “…sending out e-mailed links and videos to friends and their social networks. And in turn, they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clic (tags: socialnetworking news2.0 newspaperwebsites newspaperbusiness journalism...

bbc manchester blog: end of the project is a great starting point

By on Mar 28, 2008 in BBC, blogging, blogging techniques, journalism | 4 comments

[note: I cross-posted the following on the BBC Manchester Blog a few minutes ago…] The BBC Manchester Blog will be closing on Sunday. When Richard Fair and I launched it in August 2006 we had high expectations, not just of the blog itself, but of how the blog would help us to trial a new model of how the BBC and other broadcasters could engage with what the industry calls "user generated content". Our first post explained: "For years, the BBC has been looking at ways to engage more directly with it’s audiences. We’ve promoted email addresses on air and asked for photo submissions, we’ve stuck comment forms on the bottom of articles, we’ve spend countless hours building message boards and community platforms, our staff have reviewed and approved millions upon millions of messages – and what have we learned? That all this is expensive business. In the past, whenever the BBC has sought to do something with user generated content we’ve built new platforms, taken on the role of managing all the content that floods in, asserted some rights over that content (although not ownership in the vast majority of cases) and, some would argue, exposed the BBC to legal and moral risks. Furthermore, doing things in the old way had a bit of a sting in the tail – if a service really took off, and sometimes they did, the BBC would actually face increased costs because our services often don’t scale well. This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we’re simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they’re publishing their content online and we’ll keep an eye on it. The BBC won’t claim any rights over the content and won’t own anything…" Our new way of doing things raised quite a few eyebrows with some, at least initially, skeptical of our motives, and others excited by our attempt to try something a bit different. As part of the project we ran a blogging workshop and organised some informal blogger meet-ups. And then you invited us to yours. We read your blogs and invited some of you to read your posts on the radio. We quoted from and linked to your posts and many of you linked back. Basically, we did what bloggers do through their blogs and comments and links – we had a conversation. We have yet to write the final review of the project, in part because our time to work with the model came to an end a long time ago but the blog has carried on under a different guise. That said, below we’ve provided a brief summary of some of the key things we’ve learned from the project: Being part of the community by participating as equals, as opposed to participating as a broadcasting organisation keen for new content but not interested in the community, brings with it many editorial and personal rewards. Even if you use time saving tools such as RSS, social bookmarking and technorati, sifting through content and write posts that quote from and link to the best bits. People don’t necessarily blog or post content about the topics, stories and events that media organisations might hope they would – and, in our experience anyway, rarely post about news and current affairs. As a stand-alone proposition, the amount of staff time and effort spent was high in comparison to the quantity of content generated and size of audience served. But, when we were able to use the contacts and content we found through the blog on-air that equation immediately changed. That is, in resource terms, the blog was costly as just a blog but much more efficient as a driver of radio content. The best way to get noticed online is links and the best way to get links is to give good links yourself. That is, you have to play by the established rules of engagement and, online, that means linking prolifically. Many of the ideas, tools and techniques we used as part of the BBC Manchester Blog have since been embraced by other BBC Blogs, websites and programmes. Indeed, word about the model we created for the BBC Manchester Blog has traveled far and wide, sometimes taking us with it, influencing a number of interesting projects elsewhere. As for Richard and myself – well, we’ll probably keep on blogging and, with any luck, will keep in touch with some of the great people we’ve met through the BBC Manchester Blog. We’d like to thank all of you who took notice of or participated in the BBC Manchester Blog. You’ll find links to some great Manchester blogs in our sidebar. Finally, we’d like to say a special thanks to our good friend Kate Feld who, for a few months at the beginning of the project, became the BBC’s first ever local on-air blog reviewer. If you want to delve beneath the surface of Manchester Kate’s blog, Manchizzle, is at the very epicenter of the local blogging community. Best wishes – and happy blogging. Robin Hamman and Richard...

reaching distributed audiences requires a distributed web strategy

By on Mar 27, 2008 in BBC, blogging techniques, journalism, social software | 1 comment

The other day I met with some work colleagues to discuss their proposal for a new blog related to a weekly regional television programme. When the hour was over they left not with a well formed blog proposal but with a handful of vague ideas about how they might get production staff and journalists working on the programme to actually start using some social media tools, in particular del.icio.us, as part of their process. The idea is simple: think closely about how you can use third party tools, content sharing services and social networks to create content out of existing processes. So, for example, a journalist researching a story online is likely to want to bookmark anything they might want to revisit later. Using del.icio.us instead of saving these bookmarks locally in a browser or text file means those bookmarks are (or can later be) shared with others, thus creating content out of the research process with little, if any, additional effort. Another strikingly simple, yet powerful, example of this model is to, instead of uploading an image, audio or video file to your own web server, upload it and tag it on the appropriate sharing site such as flickr or youtube. Then link back to your own website where the file can be embedded (or cross-posted). This way you reach out to new audiences on other services. A post today by Paul Bradshaw drew my attention to how one of his journalism students, Charlotte Dunckley, is already using exactly this sort of distributed web strategy. According to Bradshaw, Dunkley looked at the online usage patterns of her target audience of 15 to 30 year old in Birmingham and her findings show that having a web presence, and getting noticed online, requires having content, and participating, in the places where your audience is. Not necessarily in creating a place for that audience to come. Dunkley writes (as quoted by Bradshaw): “Evidently my target age group lean heavily towards using websites with some kind of social networking element. Another common trend were blogs (yay) – Trash Menagerie, Perez Hilton and Fluokids, to name but a few. “So – getting exposure via a good web presence, in Birmingham, to our target age group, is perfectly achievable without a website. “We have the top three most visited websites for our target audience covered – Myspace, Facebook and E-bay… a Flickr account has been set up and is awaiting content – I’m thinking well tagged page layouts, our original photography (where the photographer lets us use them) and images from our events and associated events. Similarly there will be no problem uploading event content from Youtube. We could even look into recording snippets of face to face interviews in future too. " Bradshaw explains exactly why such an approach makes sense: "Charlotte had been worried about her technical limitations and the lack of a website. Instead, she quickly realised that this wasn’t important – it wasn’t about building a big solid brick house, but about taking a bunch of caravans on tour, to where her audience lived online." Bradshaw goes on to ask: "I notice that students’ first instinct when set a task is to… set up a Facebook group. To connect with people they don’t know. Now how many journalists have the same instinct?" As little as twelve months ago I would have said that only a very small number of my BBC colleagues had considered a distributed web strategy or participated, with a BBC hat on, in a social networking site, online community or content sharing website. Today? I probably get asked once a day how programmes and programme makers can set up shop off bbc.co.uk. For many it’s not yet instinctive but the tide of awareness is certainly turning…...

links for 2008-03-25

By on Mar 25, 2008 in Uncategorized |

NewsTools 2008 Conference (via Dan Gillmor) For “Pro journalists don’t use the available technology smartly enough — though they’re improving at this — and tech folks have too little understanding of why journalism matters and why they should be helping create the next version of the craft. (tags: news2.0 newspaperwebsites journalisttraining Journalism) fabric of folly: Review of social aggregators / lifestreaming services Dan reviews a mind-boggling 15 social aggregators… who would have guessed there were so many, or that he’d actually sign up for all of them! ;-) (tags: aggregation rss microblogging socialmedia socialnetworking) Poynter Online – Writing Tools (The “Benton Curve of Journalistic Interestingness”) “Eyewitness reporting rendered in real time via the blog represents an interesting and worthy kissing cousin to long-form narrative journalism.” (tags: Journalism journalisttraining...

is auto-feeding links to twitter spammy?

By on Mar 25, 2008 in blogging techniques, online community, social software | 3 comments

Cross-posting is useful where it genuinely adds value but sometimes it’s just plain spammy. That, at least, is the conclusion I’ve drawn on the use of automated cross-posting to and from blogs and social networking services. For the past month or so I’ve been automatically posting links to twitter every time I update my blog. I’ve found it really useful as a way to drive traffic and have been getting at least a dozen, sometimes many more, click throughs from twitter to my blog each day. Last week I realised, as I was switching back and forth between twitter and facebook on my mobile, that I kept reading the same updates from the same people but on different services. And that most of those updates weren’t updates at all, but automated links coming from twitterfeed or other automated services that link shovel to and from blogs and social networking services. The more I thought about it, the more I started to feel that this – and I’m guilty of it too – is a bit spammy. So I asked: A dozen of my twitter followers have responded thus far with one third of those (4) saying that, yes, it’s link spam. The other 2/3 (8) each gave a more qualified response but all generally agreed that, where the link it to a genuine post (as opposed to, for example, a links post from del.icio.us) AND where the tweet provides some context, such links CAN be a useful way of finding content. I think the key here is user expectations. People who chose to follow me don’t expect a tweet every time I sneeze and it’s not fair to shovel links their way using automated cross-posting. However, there may very well be people who do want an update every time I update my blog(s) and, for them, I’m going to set up a separate public...