#newsrw: The architecture of the newsroom



Originally uploaded by John C Thompson.

Yesterday, I spent a very useful few hours at News:Rewired, a regular event about digital journalism organised by the folks at Journalism.co.uk.

As with many of these events, they are divided into two streams with seminars on different subjects. The first was on newsroom architecture and my recent experiences of working in big newsrooms made this particularly relevant to me.

The speakers included Helje Solberg, executive editor at VG, a Norwegian newspaper. She focused mainly on the newspaper’s digital strategy. Reed Business Information’s Karl Schneider and Sky News’s James Weeks talked about staffing structures and how the newsroom is organised – I want to talk about this in relation to my experiences of newsrooms. Continue reading

If you don’t do it someone else will

An idea is of no use to anyone unless you put it into practice. I have a great idea for something bigger than a feature or news story. A book.

Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of research – it’s not something I can knock out from my desk at home. I will have to interview people and visit libraries. It could become almost a part time job.

I am approaching the end of my first year as a freelance. In that time I have been concentrating on making contact with potential clients and proving myself as someone they can rely on. After a slow start, I got to the point where I was working almost every day. Long may that continue.

However, I still have an ambition to write this book (and have had for the past six years or so) and I am becoming increasingly aware that there are other people who are also in a position to write something like this. So I need to make a start soon. My plan is to start researching the book alongside my freelance work and hopefully to start a blog to update potential readers on my research.

So now I’ve said it, I am going to have to do it. Watch this space…

Freelance but not fancy free

Abdullah’s words, which she deeply regrets, might never have been seen by the families of the young men who died had it not been for the fact that some people who spotted them noticed that her Twitter profile said she had written for the Guardian. This led some Twitter users to leap to the conclusion that she was on the newspaper’s staff, which amplified their shock and surprise.

via Open door: Kia Abdullah, Twitter and the Guardian | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Last week the Guardian received complaints about tweets made by a writer who occasionally writes for the Comment is Free section of its website.

This week, readers’ editor Chris Elliott dealt with the incident, in which the freelancer Kia Abdullah, made an attempt at some black humour on Twitter following the deaths of three backpackers in Thailand. The joke backfired and Abdullah’s association with the Guardian led to complaints to the paper.  Even Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief, ended up commenting when he described the remarks as “grossly insensitive”.

I won’t go into too much detail about the original tweets (which Abdullah has now removed on request and apologised for) and the aftermath which Elliott has described in his column. What I want to post about is freelancing and responsibility to our clients and how far this should go. Continue reading

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Examples of community newsrooms

To help out a fellow blogger I have tried to post a recent article I wrote for the NUJ magazine The Journalist. Unfortunately, there is no online version of The Journalist, just an e-zine which is hardly idea. I have managed to copy and paste part of my article but not the main part as issuu doesn’t make copy and paste easy.
Continue reading

Being the sole fundraiser can be a lonely business | Voluntary Sector Network | Guardian Professional

“It means that every hour I spend on fundraising, I am not spending with a volunteer,” says Grey. “But fundraising is a necessary part of the job. If you are the best bid writer you write the bid.”

via Being the sole fundraiser can be a lonely business | Voluntary Sector Network | Guardian Professional.

My latest piece for the Guardian’s professional networks.

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How social entreprenuers are keeping the hostelling movement alive

I’m a life member of the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) and have followed the fate of the hostels sold off by the organisation for some years now. Back in 2006 I wrote about how charities and development trusts had stepped in to save hostels following a devastating round of closures, which saw one seventh of the network sold off by the YHA.

Almost five years on and another round of sell-offs has been proposed. So I revisited one of the hostels I covered in 2006 to see how it was doing under new ownership. I found Wooler youth hostel in Northumberland to be thriving under the management of Glendale Gateway Trust, a social enterprise. In the article for the Guardian’s Social Enterprise Network, I also covered how the success of Wooler has inspired other social enterprises in Northumberland to open brand new hostels. Continue reading

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The death of the reporter’s notebook?



Originally uploaded by Brenderous.

Long before social media and smart phones, the humble notebook was the reporter’s best friend. And for most of us it still is.

But not just any old notebook for the majority of print journalists it has to be spiral bound at the top of the pages making it easier to flick over the page. Anything else just won’t cut it when writing at speed.

In fact, the “reporter’s notebook” or “shorthand notebook” almost sets journalists that work with words apart from their counterparts who work in the media of television and radio. Continue reading

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One scoop or two?

A London Coffee House

Modern British journalism was born in the Coffee Houses of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century

London’s Coffee Houses were once at the epicentre of British science, commerce and journalism.

In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century coffee houses were where the great and good met to exchange information and ideas. By the late Seventeenth Century there were thousands in England.

So successful were coffee houses as places for the disaffected to congregate that Charles II tried to suppress them.

The commercialisation and professionalisation of journalism took it away from its coffee house roots. But as the money is sucked out of journalism, the industry is showing signs of returning to its coffee house roots. Freelancers have long frequented cafes to tap out stories furiously on their laptops and sometimes to take advantage of free WiFi. Now big media organisations in the US are encouraging reporters to work in cafes in order to connect with readers.

There are signs that this trend is taking off in the UK, both at grassroots level and in big media organisations. In this month’s issue of The Journalist I wrote about news organisations that are making moves towards putting the newsroom back at the heart of their community. You can read the article by following this link and going to page 14.

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Social media takes to the street

Recently I came across a website that allows me to chat to my neighbours and to find out about local news.

Streetbook (where did they get that from?) is a social network that covers the area I live in and other parts of Wandsworth borough. You can join a local group based on your area or affiliated to a local neighbourhood watch or park users group.

It’s early days, but so far Streetbook seems to be well received by local people. Today, the local chat section in Tooting – my group – featured discussions about where to find a good dentist and local jazz dance classes. Continue reading

The glamour of the grey cardigan

Poster for subs

Subs is playing at The Cock Tavern until 29/02

The working lives of journalists have been dramatised many times, both on stage and screen. From Hollywood blockbusters like All the Presidents Men to small screen hits like The State of Play, most portray the profession as glamorous and heroic.

But as many journalists would testify, the profession isn’t always like that. For every Bob Woodward, you’ll have the poor sod who has to write about pork belly futures for a trade magazine in Topeka, Kansas. The State of Play is particularly guilty of idealising the profession. Continue reading

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