Last Saturday I took part in a Wikileaks event organised with great speed and extraordinary flair by Personal Democracy forum; the video archives are here for anyone who wants to watch the whole thing. It was a shame that there were no representatives of Government in the room, and another panel organised with a greater lead time would have found maybe more international voices. But it was as useful and stimulating an event I have been to for a long time.
I will be writing about the most interesting parts of the debate (as I see them) over the coming days and weeks
If you follow the latest cache of diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks and reported by the Guardian, The New York Times and others it is impossible not to conclude that this is a pivotal moment for journalism, its teaching and its practice. In a masterly piece on The Guardian’s website, John Naughton writes that :
The most obvious lesson is that it represents the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the internet. There have been skirmishes before, but this is the real thing.
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Slightly late, here is the link to my latest Guardian column which discusses why I am sceptical about the potential for success of an iPad app which is going to absorb a large amount of investment and carry 100 staff. The comments at the bottom are as ever well worth reading, although I don’t come out of them particularly well.
Two years ago I gave a talk at the LSE where I predicted a ‘catastrophic’ phase of decline for the UK press. It is, I believe, always beneficial to revisit your public mistakes, given that five national newspapers have not closed, that the BBC is still accompanied by ITV and Channel 4 and, for now, BSkyB as British companies. But part of me is still surprised that despite high job losses, closures and newspapers changing hands, not more has shifted.
The two years between the beginning of the recession in the UK (longer in the US) and now, have seen frantic activity in newspapers to trim costs and innovate, but still within very limited boundaries. The overwhelming weight of discussion has centred around the idea of paywalls, or charging for news in some format, even though there is, and has always been, significant evidence that this is a limited strategy for success. Read the rest of this entry »
When it comes to paywalls around news websites, I sometimes wonder if we are becoming an international fraternity of cargo cultists. The voodoo economics which accompanies the release of digital sales figures for The Times and Sunday Times is developing into its own art. What could this 105,000 digital sales, ‘around half’ of which are subscribers actually MEAN? Read the rest of this entry »
A slow Labor Day news day maybe I thought when I noticed that the NYT was carrying a piece on Monday entitled : ‘Some Newspapers, Tracking Readers Online, Shift Coverage’. As old news goes this is positively antediluvian isn’t it? Despite the fact that most newsrooms have developed metric tracking systems for their websites, and many use them creatively and effectively, it remains a controversial area. Quoted in the piece, Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times says :
“We don’t let metrics dictate our assignments and play….because we believe readers come to us for our judgment, not the judgment of the crowd. We’re not ‘American Idol.’ ”
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For those wanting a comprehensive and comprehendable guide to the current issues which are dominating debate around the web as an interoperable platform as opposed to a walled garden, the latest precis from the Economist is pretty good. The liberal with a small ‘l’ publication, comes out in favour of a genuinely free market for the internet, which is no surprise given its over arching philosophy towards markets of all types. But at least it has a clearly expressed opinion on an important issue. Read the rest of this entry »
If you missed the sad news that the Web is Dead, callously broken by Wired, you were probably too busy playing Angry birds on your iPad. Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff sketch out a scenario in which we a) all want more convenience and ease and b) industrial economics have caught up with the web.
The article encourages the idea that the open web is becoming an unfashionable part of cyburbia, where the houses are boarded up and Tim Berners-Lee bravely keeps the unprofitable corner shop going so elderly utopians can still get milk and Rizlas. The rest of us have decamped to Jobstown, a gated community, where there is a giant Tesco, a farmers’ market, and no graffiti. Read the rest of this entry »
New York, Day 10.
Well, it had to happen. A professor in digital journalism without an up-to-date blog is like a Premier League footballer without an injunction; you don’t have to have one but it looks a bit odd. This blog will, I hope, chart both the personal and professional trip from journalism in London to academia in New York. I am deeply grateful to and slightly annoyed with my wonderful former colleagues, in particular Meg Pickard, for mothballing my cackhanded and neglected former efforts and putting together this altogether smarter interface, thus confronting me the the unnerving reality that I am now a self-publisher. The picture, pun and theme is all theirs, the mistakes and what happens next, are all mine.