Category Archives: online

learning curve

I have been trying to write my article on whether good journalism will be the first casualty of the digital revolution, and I think I have reached the answer. No, I will be.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to post the question on the online community group, e-mint that Joanna Geary advised me to join. So, just before 10am this morning I popped this on there and set off for CJS. When I returned, I logged back on to see whether anyone had got back to me and I was surprised to find that there were quite a few replies.

I found that people disagreed with me, agreed with me, pointed me in the direction of Adam Tinworth’s blog, corrected me and posed me further questions.

As I read through all of the comments and began replying to them, I realised that it was the first time that something I had published had sparked that much conversation. I had brought up an issue and conversation had grown around it in an online community.

The humongous learning curve – roughly equated to the curvature of the earth – was about to come. If,  something I had written was to provoke that much intelligent response and conversation, why did I only take two minutes to write my thoughts? When I am in the process of writing a feature, it takes hours of research, fact checking and no less than two drafts, never mind the countless cups of coffee. Why should I have treated this any differently?

The curse of instantaneous publishing. I didn’t just fall into the massive black hole staring me in the face, but voluntarily plopped myself in there.

Silly girl.



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Capturing Cardiff with an OYBike

This week, journalists from all over the world have joined forces for the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. On Monday, over 56 newspapers across the world ran identical front-page editorials calling for action. Hopes of a deal remain high in Copenhagen as the talks open, but whether delegates from the 192 countries represented can agree on how to cut green house gases, as easily as the newspapers decided on a headline, remains to be seen.

Bicycles are everywhere in Copenhagen and they have become an iconic part of the capital of Denmark; 37% of Copenhagen’s inhabitants cycle to work, and to get to and from the Climate Change Conference, world leaders and journalists alike have been encouraged to ‘go local’ and use the free bike scheme. As well as being environmentally friendly, it is considered chic.

Copenhagen, and other European cities, such as Paris and Barcelona, have had a bicycle hire scheme running for some time and at the end of September, Cardiff joined these cities with its own, OYBike.

“OYBike has been operating ‘under the radar’ in London for some years, ahead of its time in many ways. It’s robust; and tried and tested” said Carlton Reid, Editor of BikeBiz in a carefully chosen 140 character quote.

Launched on 22 September as part of the Walking and Cycling Conference, the Cardiff Smart Bike scheme, run by OYBike and sponsored by Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, hopes to encourage people in Cardiff to get out and about the Welsh capital in a sustainable way.

Joining Reading, Farnborough and London –  the OYBike system allows you to hire and return a bicycle via your mobile phone. There are 70 recognisable bicycles that are available from 10 pick up locations across the Cardiff and they can be dropped off at any of the battery powered rental stations after a quick jaunt.

The map below shows the 10 pick-up locations of the OYBikes in Cardiff:

Councillor Delme Bowen, Executive member for Traffic and Transportation said, “Cycling is a brilliant way to get around Cardiff. We have a number of good routes in the city, and I am confident that this scheme will prove to be very popular.”

Since its inception in September, 213 people have hired an OYBike. Far from being chic, not many people have seen, or even heard of the these two-wheeled delights.

One blustery, rainy Sunday afternoon in Cardiff, I thought it would be a good idea to try them out. I failed at the first hurdle. Being a thoroughly prepared journalist, I hadn’t done my research properly. You have to sign up online first.

Off I trudged home with wet trousers and frizzy hair to get involved. At least I managed to take a lovely photo of the clunky yellow and green bicycles, adorned with practical basket beauties so I could spot them easily the next time.

OYBikes at City Hall, Cardiff

Hire me:

  • To hire an OYBike you have to fill out a registration form online and then choose a subscription. For £18 a year, or £5 a week you can use the OYBikes and not worry about thieves stealing your ride. Apparently, they don’t appeal to the light fingered friend.
  • Head back into Cardiff and hire one out.
  • Switch on the rental unit
  • Select “Rent a bike”
  • Call the number displayed on the screen
  • Press the lock number of the bike you want to hire and cycle away.
  • Remember the first 30 minutes are FREE!
  • To return the bikes, press the “return bike” button, plug the cable back in and confirm the bike is secure.

It's not rocket science, it's a rental unit

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member hopes the scheme is a success, “I think the scheme is great. Although the Cardiff scheme is a small one so far, there is scope to develop it into something really big. I see them as an important part of Cardiff’s designation as a sustainable travel city.”

Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government hope that this starter scheme will encourage more people to take up cycling in the city and therefore, cut down on unnecessary journeys in the car.

Jane Lorimer, Deputy Director of Sustrans Cymru said, “Evidence from other schemes shows that schemes like this can be very useful in giving non-regular cyclists their first taste of being on two wheels, which then leads to them cycling more regularly.”

Once the dark, wet and wintry nights have passed and the scheme has been further developed to include more locations and more bikes, locals will become more aware of this sustainable method of transport.

As world leaders sit down to discuss the future of our world in Copenhagen, let us learn from the city of bicycles and make OYBikes an iconic part of Cardiff. We will soon see what else we can learn from Copenhagen.

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race” – H.G.Wells

On yer bike then..

The message is clear Cardiff: “On yer bike.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Related Links:

  • Join my Facebook group and share your stories and comments about the OYBike.
  • If you are new to cycling, a good place to start is by visiting The UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation
  • Make sure you get a helmet before hiring out an OYBike, and a bigger bag to put it in.
  • Share your routes and find some new ones.
  • If you don’t fancy hiring a bike over the winter, another great way of travelling sustainably in Cardiff is car sharing. Helen Glaberson mentions this on her blog.
  • But if you still want to drive, try not to do this.


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And then this – today, Lord Mandelson declared war on the Murdoch empire. He accused him of trying to import a right wing style of journalism, resembling that of Fox News.

Mandelson made it clear that profit alone should not be the drive for British broadcasting and journalism.

It’s not all about money, Rupert.

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another brick in the paywall

“Who started this rumour that all information should be free and why didn’t we challenge this when it first came out?”Anne Moore, chief executive, Time Inc, March 2009

There is no such thing as a free news story”Rupert Murdoch

Wise, or flippant words from Murdoch and Anne Moore; can news really sit behind a paywall? It is like shifting the tide or causing the earth to spin the other way around on its axis. Well possibly not quite as dramatic as that, but it is unnatural. The question is whether people will be willing to pay for online content?

This is not a new idea. It has been batting around newsrooms for year ever since Doc Martens were first in – I had a cherry red pair in the mid-nineties, but I am not quite willing to admit that they are back in fashion now.

What has come back into fashion again, is charging for online content. It has become a hot topic, a key trend and possibly a solution for the drop in newspaper sales. Rupert Murdoch has committed to constructing paywalls around News Corp papers, which will leave The Daily Mirror jumping for joy.  If you can no longer go to The Sun to get your page 3 lovely – where is the next point of call?

Shane Richmond’s blog hosted on The Telegraph discusses this issue:

“As we know, readers will pay provided there isn’t a free alternative of sufficient quality available. Quality, as always, is a relative term and there will always be an alternative.”

So, can it work? Are the days of free content now over?

If some papers, like The Times begin charging for their news content, it will drive those loving unique users into the beautiful arms of an aggregator, such as killer Google or another free news website. It is estimated that The Times may lose up to anywhere between 80% and 95% of their traffic once pay walls have been introduced.

Google, Google Chrome, Google Reader, Google Wave and even the verb Google. Google has grown and benefited from the demise of the newspaper. The media is now at a critical point.

Do we wait for the advertising economy to get back on board with print, or do we start charging for our work? (Speaking of which, do you think anyone would pay for this?)

The future of print advertising looks bleak. It is now widely assumed that the money once gained from ads in newspapers and magazines has gone, and will never come back.

Let’s dig deep into the pockets of this story then –

I think we can all agree that specialist magazines and newspapers such as the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal can happily sit behind a paywall:

a) because they have a loyal and dedicated audience seeking specialist news


b) because we all know bankers have very big pockets

These models work because people who sign up to them need news that is specific to them.  They can rely on the FT to be informative and accurate. How would I feel if Media Guardian sat behind a paywall? Well, I would probably be willing to fork out for that too.

Consumers have been raised on a default position of receiving free news. If you miss the 10 o’clock news one night you can log onto the BBC and catch up instantly, quickly and cheaply. If you forget to pop to the local shop for your copy of The Guardian or The Daily Mail before getting to work, the first thing you do when you log on in the morning is to visit their site and catch up with what’s going on in the world.

Where is the incentive to buy the newspaper?

It is rather romantic to think that people want the tangible product anymore.  Rob Andrew, the UK editor for paidContent said that in a survey carried out by paidContent and Harris Interactive over 74% of people would find another free site to view their news. When a barrier is put up, we move around it.

But more worryingly than that, when asked how much people were willing to pay for news, the answer was very little. For example, for a one-off article most people would only be willing to pay 1p-2p. Something tells me that newspapers are not going to boost their revenue by an extra penny or two.

Charging for online content may not work in the way that Murdoch wants and what will happen to newspapers and the paywall model remains to be seen.

But things are moving. This morning, Google announced that they will allow publishers of paid content to reduce the amount of free access internet users have to their sites from Google News.

The London Evening Standard which recently became a freesheet paper announced that they are planning to raise distribution levels to 800,000.

For better or for worse, the times, they are a changing. The key is to try and save good journalism and not necessarily, the newspaper.

I shall leave you with Bob Dylan whose words ring as true today, as they did then.


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publicists vs bloggers

Following on from my last post, in Liberty London Girls recent post Publicists vs Bloggers, she addresses the other side of the argument which I found very interesting.

She is lucky enough to have her blog firmly plonked in The Sunday Times top 100 blogs in the whole world! Maybe I should ask her how she did it and in doing so, find out just who the devil she is…


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brangelina, blogging and pyjamas

Ah Wednesdays – mid week, half-way through, quite a friendly name for a day of the week and the day after Grazia pops through my door and gives me some food for thought. Must remember to eat tonight.

As most of you will know, or should know, Brad and Angelina have had another bust-up.

Apparently police were called to their house, and blah blah blah. We have heard it all before – this isn’t what I wanted to talk about on this post.

As I was reading it before I fell asleep last night, for one has to have some down time after researching local procurement in governments, I realised that what made the article weaker, asides from the fact that I wasn’t really that bothered about it was this bit:

“As the pictures showed Brad and Angelina looking noticeably strained and frosty hit news websites, bloggers immediately began to comment. One reader wrote, ‘They clearly don’t want to be there or near each other”, while another remarked, “They are so OVER!! They can’t even stand within 3ft of each other.”

What made this article weak for me was the use of the term bloggers. Apparently it still has negative connotations for me, even though I enjoy blogging. Is this the type of blogging that Richard Tait once mentioned in a lecture – pyjama clothed and ready for action? I think so..

But the fact that magazines such as Grazia are now relying on bloggers to pad out their features is interesting. Are they giving bloggers the credibility that they deserve? Or, are they just being lazy journalists in not seeking out more reliable sources, as Mr Fry suggested when he won his King of Twitter award a couple of weeks ago. If Grazia were able to attribute these comments to for example, a renowned celebrity blog, such as Perez Hilton it would add more weight to the feature, in my opinion.

The fact that these “bloggers” said something somewhere, doesn’t really mean anything apart from it creates a more personal feel to the feature. Perhaps by using bloggers comments, Grazia are trying to integrate themselves further into their readership.

But for me, it feels like we are back in the playground having a little gossip about something we don’t really know, that could have happened to someone, at some point.

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook are absolutely ace at bringing us information, leads and quirky stories that we wouldn’t necessarily find without them, but good sources and good writing are still paramount.

Just for the record, I am not in my pyjamas…yet.

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a valuable resource for the future

Very quickly as my battery is about to run out on my Mac, and my actual battery is about to run out. I read an interesting blog post by Kevin Marsh from the BBC College of Journalism about their new website which will be free to all UK users.

And as we were told by Adam Tinworth, a blog post can just be a link to something interesting. Something you want to share with your community .  So, voila – a fantastic resource for the future and one to add to the blogroll.

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