Tag Archives: Daily Mail

keep the standards up

Yesterday morning I was woken up by a text.  Quite a normal occurrence so I rolled over and fumbled about with my terribly old Sony Ericsson to find out what one of my friends had to say.  But wait, this was no ordinary text, the sense of urgency crept into my layer as I began to read, “Ruth. Rory Cellan – Jones. Birt Acres Lecture Theatre. 4.15pm. Be prompt.” That got my attention immediately and got me out of bed.

Having been off ill for a week, I was slightly daunted about returning to the world of Bute. My escape had lasted a while but now it was time to return – voice, or no voice.

As I strolled into the lecture theatre, I took up a place in the front row which I was sure to regret in a matter of moments.  Oh joy – a photograph; a journalist’s dream. I thought part of the job description was that we get to be on the otherside of the camera, closely aligned to the photographer:

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Rory Cellan – Jones told us to smile and wave; apparently I am one of the only ones that did.

So, what did he have in store for us new journalists of the future?

In awe of someone who has made it so far in the field of journalism I was very eager to learn about what Rory had to tell us about social media.

Claire Packer sums up Rory Cellan-Jones’s lecture very succinctly in her blog.  And I agree with her that,

“contemporary journalism is undoubtedly a much slicker operation than the journalism of the 1980s.”

Rory went onto explain how modern journalists are multi-skilled and heavily involved with their audience.  His blog now demands an increasing amount of his time.

Time As he finds himself less on TV, he now has the ability to interact with his readers personally when they send him leads.

Being proactive in developing his relationship with his audience gives Rory a credibility and an honesty that people at home can relate to, which is now increasingly important in modern journalism.

Rory commented on how nowadays, one of the scariest things for news editors is that the audiences have a say in what they think is the most important story. Their input has become as essential to a running order as the editor themselves. The audience demands news in a certain format, at a certain time and in a certain way.

To demonstrate this, I thought I would just do a quick comparison of the most read stories on a couple of reputable news websites to illustrate the power that the audience now has, compared to the “mad people” that 1980’s journalists used to interact with.

On the BBC at the time of publishing this post:

Picture 1

Today is Armistice Day, however the people of Britain are more interested in sharing information about “the perfect vagina.”  I can’t imagine news editors of old ever entertaining such a thought. But if this is something the majority of the public wants from a public broadcasting service that “gives added value to the masses,” should it be?

Next, onto the Daily Mail -

Picture 2

Apart from the near to ridiculous headlines, people seem to be reading across a wide range of stories.

However, when we look at what people are reading in most detail we get a completely different story, which is not quite as pleasing but maybe more realistic.

The usual offenders are there: Katie Price, Li-Lo and Coleen.  A slight whiff of adultery.  And a tragic accident involving German goalkeeper, Robert Enke.

Read in most detail:

Picture 4

Surely there are more important things going on in the world today, such as Armistice Day and the plight of our soldiers worldwide and past,  the food shortages in El Salvador, or the risk of cancer for 9/11 workers.

In a day where the user is the source, as well as the audience, perhaps it is not up to a journalist or even an editor to decide what is newsworthy.

Recently, Rupert Murdoch has unveiled a scheme to introduce paywalls to News Corp’s websites in order to generate revenue from the news. In his quest to make more money, does he really think that people will be willing to pay for their news, especially when the news they apparently want involves Coleen, and the quest for a perfect vagina.  I doubt it.

As I was writing this post, one of my colleagues, Alex Smith kindly shared a link to a testimony given to a Senate Committee by the creator of The Wire, David Simon on the challenges facing journalism in the age of new media.

He said that,

“It is nice to get stuff for free, of course. And it is nice that more people can have their say in new media. And while some of our internet commentary is – as with any unchallenged and unedited intellectual effort – rampantly ideological, ridiculously inaccurate and occasionally juvenile, some of it is also quite good, even original.”

More than anything I think that journalism needs to get its self respect back.  It needs to be valued.  It needs to be trusted and it needs to be respected by its audiences.

If the public thinks that anyone can be a journalist, then we need to prove to the public that this is false.

What we don’t need, is this:

Picture 5

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a historic moment for social media?

This week I made a garguantuan error.  I failed to engage with the conversation.  When I was given this assignment I had already commented on the Trafigura case in my first blog post on October 13th, but as I watched it develop, I let it develop without me.  I watched it passively, rather than actively engaging with the topic.  Oh dear – bad move, smack my hand, it will never happen again.

Everyone knows what happened last week with The Guardian, law firm Carter Ruck, the Houses of Parliament, MP Paul Farrelly, an oil company named Trafigura and Twitter.  If you don’t, you’re a week late – but you can read a brief synopsis here and here.  You can view the question posed by Paul Ferrelly to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw here.  You can view the Minton Report. You can view the annotated super-injunction here.

If you would prefer a more visual presentation, you can watch this:

Or, you can follow the sequence of last week’s events on One Man and His Blog. Adam Tinworth lays it out quite nicely:

Here’s the rough sequence of events:

But, hang on a minute, hold the phone, stop tweeting – I thought this was a gagging order preventing anyone from speaking or even dreaming about the hush hush, cannot mention case involving, who? What did you say? Did you say TRAFIGURA?

Last week, bloggers and tweeters in their pyjamas – luckily for me, I am still dressed – refused to listen to judges in the High Court and exploded the unmentionable all over the net.  People who had never heard of the alleged illegal toxic dumping carried out by Trafigura off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire, Western Africa were now on the edge of their TweetDeck’s wanting to know more.

This handy little video was uploaded to YouTube from a website called TrendsMap.  Trendsmap is a relatively new mashup, which maps real-time local Twitter trends onto Google Maps.  On October 13th, at the very heart of the debate we can see visually  just how many people in Western Europe and all over the world, were talking about the Trafigura case. That wasn’t quite the point.  By imposing a super-injunction preventing The Guardian from reporting Parliamentary questions Carter Ruck fantastically shot themselves in the foot.

Now that people from all over the world can talk to one another at the click of a button, messages can spread faster than ever.  Mobs can be rallied; causes can be fought for.  What journalists at The Guardian could not talk about for threat of imprisonment or massive fines, Tweeters demanded to know what was being said.

Tweeters have had their meat this week; first big dirty businesses, then Jan Moir.  As I was researching these articles, Twitter, naturally led me to a very interesting article on Impact Media’s SEO Blog. I felt that this quote summed up the importance of social media:

“Suddenly the general public has moved seamlessly from quiet observer to judge, jury and executioner; their platform is no longer a mild-mannered letter to the editor, it’s digital, it’s real-time, it’s social media.”

Rightfully so,  Jan Moir was hung, drawn and quartered on Twitter and in the public eye this week.  A whirlwind of information was sent round Twitter, people rallied round the cause, flew their flags and complained to the Press Complaints Commission in their thousands.  22,000 complaints later and those that did not see the importance of social media in journalism are now waking up to the errors of their ways.  For Carter Ruck and Jan Moir this may be too little, too late.

What I find interesting is the different ways that media outlets have reigned in the power of social media.  On the one hand, you have The Guardian who have trained tweeters to do the hard work for them; they have found a loyal voice that can spread across the world in an instant.

Then there are those that lag behind, such as The Daily Mail and dearest Jan. Told to set up a Twitter account in order to rectify the uncontrollable situation, Jan Moir did her best to calm the crowds.  What began as a thoughtless, inappropriate article approved by her editor, escalated into a widespread controversial issue fuelled by Twitter.  Jan was left begging for forgiveness from her audience that now have the perfect platform in which to voice their disgust.

It has been made abundantly clear this week the power that social media can have.  Journalists need to learn how to use its power and engage with it; not ignore it or let it idly pass them by.

The mob have a voice now and they will be heard…

For a bit more reading on this subject, go to -

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