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Posts tagged ‘journalism’

How to empower a brand online

According to a recent social media report carried out by web monitoring company Nielsen, American Internet users spent a combined total of 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May 2011.

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Wired magazine launches in the UK – But is it really plugged in?

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The eagerly anticipated re-launch (a previous attempt failed fourteen years ago) of Wired, the magazine about what’s next, hit UK stores last week, but was some what of a disappointment.

Whilst launching a new magazine in an economic downturn, particularly one which failed to capture the interest of UK readers first time around, is some what questionable, Wired’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel that new or innovative.

Although there are some interesting articles like: ‘How the iPlayer saved the BBC’ and ‘Your life is a number’ a large majority of the magazine is pictorial. The magazine is full of sexy shots of new technology, including 3 double page spreads of circuit boards and wiring and 10 pages of speakers and other musical equipment, with very little copy to support it. This unfortunately just comes across as porn for geeks rather than supporting the magazine’s strap-line – ‘the future as it happens’.

In many ways this is the root of Wired’s problem. It doesn’t appear to be practicing what it is preaching, or at the very least, not in the way the reader expects. A magazine is hardly the format for getting up to speed with the latest developments in technology and innovative engineering. Monthly magazines prepare content months in advance, so if Wired’s statement is that it delivers – ‘the future as it happens’ – it’s arguments and stories can hardly be as groundbreaking as they claim, if they are only confined to a monthly publication rather than a constantly updated website, fully rooted in Web 2.0.

New Editor David Rowan told  The Guardian “There are quite a lot of magazines in Britain doing products, with girls in bikinis with iPhones. That wasn’t us.” He added that what Wired UK aims to do “is not fluff or bullshit: its data”. That may be so but the result is a large number of pieces which fail to capitalise on their content, most notably an interview with Twitter CEO Evan Williams.

Despite all this though, Wired does show potential. Its website has a number of original stories uploaded daily and the concept of informing the masses about the changing nature of the web and technology has a lot of scope. However its focus and the way in which this data is packaged needs addressing. In basic terms the magazine tries to hard to cram in to much at the expense of detail. Whilst graphically stunning throughout, it is this which distracts and confuses the reader. For Wired to work it needs to simplify its message and design and focus more on copy, so that reader doesn’t feel robbed or left out of the loop, which Wired is clearly trying to bring the reader into.

In conclusion, whilst the model appears to work in the US, since launching in 1993, it would seem that Wired would have benefited from taking the Maxim approach, investing solely in its online counterpart.

Reporting the G20 Protests in Central London – the benefits of using Web 2.0

For an aspiring journalist last week’s G20 protests outside the Bank of England highlighted the benefits of Web 2.0 for the reporter superbly.

Social Media came into its own throughout the entirety of the protest. The Guardian, The Times and the BBC all had reporters posting on Twitter and other mediums.

Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, equipped with my Nokia N95 I headed down to capture the action. Once I arrived I instantly found myself catapulted into a crowd swarming with journalists armed with recording devices, cameras and mobile phones. It was astonishing to see such an army of people all trying to capture the moment with portable devices, whilst camera crews struggled to gain a prominent position amongst the restless crowds.

Deciding not to cross the police barrier, I positioned myself right behind the police line adjacent to Royal Bank of Scotland. Managing to secure a prime view of the action I set about capturing video and pictures whilst posting updates to my Twitter account. However it wasn’t long before these tools came into their own, as the crowds grew hostile and violence set in.

G20 Protests get Hostile

Having joined Qik, moments before departing City University I began streaming video of the action for my fellow course mates immediately. My efforts quickly attracted viewers, with many more viewing the footage since. Videos of the days action are available here. I was amazed how easy it was to generate original content from the ground, which I was able to post direct to my blog.

Having the power to produce instant content like this is invaluable. The more people that produce content the bigger the picture the audience gets of what is happening. The only trouble then is keeping up with the updates and highlighting what is legitimate.

As the day unfolded it became clear how powerful the role of citizen journalism is, and how crucial tools like Twitter are becoming in reporting events live from the ground. In many ways this was the first real test for Twitter. Visitors to The Guardian, The Times and the BBC websites where all exposed to rolling coverage from the likes of Paul Lewis who were posting live up to the minute information from the Square Mile. It was certainly the first time the site has been used at such length to describe the events of a major news event.

As newspaper ABC’s continue to fall, the Web 2.0 model online is becoming much more appealing. Whilst every media outlet in the UK descended on the Square Mile that afternoon to report on the violence and the attacks on Royal Bank of Scotland the fact that I was also posting pictures to Twit Pic direct from my phone via text and sending updates direct to my Twitter followers, highlights the necessity of news organisations and journalists to find the best ways of packaging and distributing this date to the public. Content in this form is not unique, it is expected, but it is how this presented to the reader which attracts attention. My attempts where relatively small scale, but the fact that was able to do so raises concerns about what is next. There is only so far citizen journalists can go though.

However if increasing numbers of people are able to generate this content cheaply and people are able to access it for free, what is the future for the linear news article or straight news report. Is there still a demand for the news in this format?

G20 Arrest

Speaking on Media Talk this week Janine Gibson, editor of guardian.co.uk, described the use of Twitter and Google Mapping as: “The best way of telling the story.. it’s an an incredibly useful way to show the users what is happening in different pockets of London. Twitter has a very simple function, which becomes perfect for saying – What can you see? What are you doing? It becomes really useful because what your representing is all the strands of the story.

“Even with broadcast cameras on a story like that, you only see one linear thing at a time. This was not a linear narrative story, you’ve got pockets of different temperatures you need to take, lots of different narratives to bring together and there is something something fantastic about being able to see all those strands simultaneously and work your way through which represents what it is.”

If nothing else, last week demonstates that social media and Web 2.0 are the future for reporting, however despite Robin Hamman discussing here the new technologies and opportunities for covering events like the G20 protests, if more and more people take up these tools, what can be said for the future of journalists and the news organisations they work for?

The Year of the Tweet

It would seem a Twitter revolution is happening.

With the Chinese New Year being celebrated across London on Sunday it would seem we should be celebrating the year of the ‘tweet’ rather than the year of the Ox.

Initially sceptical to the social networking site, I have to confess that I have become increasingly addicted in the past few months.

Jonathan Ross

Regular Twitter user Jonathan Ross

As an aspiring journalist, I understand the importance of breaking news and communicating on the web. Never before has it been so important. Whether you love it or hate it – twitter offers those possibilities.

It was therefore incredibly eye-opening to listen to Robin Hamman lecture last week at City University, on the uses of social media not only in researching stories but in developing contacts and unearthing the latest news.

However, concerns of privacy and accuracy are still very topically. In a world now where everything is online we are open to new dangers, but as Robin Hamman described, we control our online profile, through our tweets, blogs and Flickr accounts. Whilst these dangers are around us, the opportunities for improved communication are endless. My biggest concern is that Twitter becomes so exposed that its purpose and current benefits will disappear.

I raise this becuase in recent weeks the media seem to have also fallen in love with Twitter with the likes of  Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry discussing the site on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross and Phillip Scofield actively tweeting on This Morning

Twitter seems to making the news everyday with the most popular users being named today and Demi Moore failing to understand the power of the site this looks set to continue.

Only time will tell what the future holds but for the time being I urge fellow journalists to embrace the revolution and use the site as a fundamental component to reaching out to a greater part of society.

Update 4/02/08

Chris Moyles and Andi Peters now on Twitter it’s dominating Radio 1 this morning.

Hippie Hippie Shake – Review

I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of the new Beeban Kidron film last Thursday, set to be released later this year called Hippie Hippie Shake.

The upcoming British film, from the Bridget Jones 2 director, follows the love story of Oz magazine editor Richard Neville and Louise Ferrier as Neville and his associates launch the London edition of satirical magazine Oz, the radical magazine that put them on trial for publishing sexually explicit content.

Set in 1960’s London, Hippie Hippie Shake, which has been in development since 1998, is a fascinating portrayal of the memoirs of Richard Neville.

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Starring Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller the film captures the time period effectively presenting both drama, sex and drugs against a setting of media scrutiny and restrictions. Oz sets out to do something different, to redefine the form and produce a radical magazine which will change the way people think. Appealing to the neglected youth and engaging them with the issues that matter to them. However as time progresses these intentions become blurred and the true agenda of the magazine questionable.

While the film is not going to appeal to the mass market, the story, which before seeing the film I was unaware of, is of particularly interest to those interested in journalism.

Not only does the film address issues of writing and publishing, as well as the hard graft of being a journalist, the later half of the film focuses heavily on censorship, morality and ethics. The court case scenes raise a number of issues which I have regularly come across as a trainee journalist.

Without spoiling the plot, Neville and co find themselves in court facing charges of indecency, particularly involving one case with Rupert the Bear. The trial of obscenity raised questions over government censorship and freedom of the press. The arguments presented from both sides equally stand but the conflict lies in a misunderstanding of the magazines intentions, the smut which is at face value has hidden meaning. However I won’t enter into details. See the movie.

Colourful, funny and dramatic this is not only a good film it is educational too. A good document of history that many journalists and non journalists will enjoy. Also look out for Germaine Greer.

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