Sarah Booker

31/01/2010

Live and interactive

FOOTBALL fans enjoy transfer deadline day (apparently) so Lee Hall, my colleague at the Sunderland Echo, is sharing his live coverage of the sporting excitement with other Johnston Press titles. Here’s the Worthing Herald’s transfer day page.

Lee has put a lot of effort into this day, as he explains in his blog D-Day is upon me. It’s a great opportunity for University of Sunderland students, too, as they will experience the real buzz of a newsroom.

Cover It Live is the medium of choice. It is a fabulous piece of software with terrific functions, particularly the polls. I used it for Worthing International Birdman.

However, the Worthing Herald sport department favours ScribbleLive. Why? They have always been able to connect and have never lost service.

We started using ScribbleLive after I carried out a comparison test for Johnston Press’s digital higher powers.

Getting and maintaining a connection had been a problem from the start with CoverItLive (CiL).

During Worthing Birdman I couldn’t connect to CiL using a JP laptop and I had difficulty with my 3G connection, losing the page for an hour or so.

The sports team used CiL three times at matches, the rest of the time it wouldn’t work.

I had an email conversation with CiL president Keith McSpurren who didn’t think 3G connections should cause a white-out in the pop up page.

From our experience the one page does all functionality of ScribbleLive means we have been able to connect and write every time.

A phenomenal example of ScribbleLive in action is its white label service used by Reuters. The Berlin Wall 2o event was fascinating.

A fine example of CiL used at local news level was the Manchester Evening News’ live blog of Manchester City Council’s meeting described by David Higgerson in his blog CoverItLive and Twitter covering councils in a new way.

I also find  commenting is more obvious for the readers in CiL as it’s at the bottom of the feed, whereas it’s at the top with ScribbleLive.

I also miss CiL’s poll function, as I’d really like to use something like it during election coverage.

There is also a preloading function for text and photographs which seems useful but in my experience shows it is difficult to use.

Both platforms are useful tools for any news team, but I stick with what’s working for us. However, I would be interested to hear other people’s experiences, particularly teething or connection problems with either service.

With the way things are at the moment, we are keen to continue with ScribbleLive here, and miss out on the polls etc. unless CiL starts working on our laptops.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing how well the transfer deadline day coverage goes and whether it proves popular with our readers in Sussex.

24/01/2010

The Future of News in Brighton

Journalists and new media folk in Brighton and Sussex are invited to join the UK Future of News Group Brighton nest.

It’s an opportunity to discuss new ideas within the news industry with like-minded people.

The first meeting on Monday, February 8, is at The Skiff in Brighton from 7.15pm.

Speakers are:

Simon Willison the man behind Wildlifenearyou.com and the Guardian’s MPs’ expenses crowdsourcing project and many other projects.

Jo Wadsworth web editor at Brighton’s Argus newspaper. Jo will be talking about building an online community and blogging.

The original UK Future of News Group set up by Adam Westbrook has held two meetings in London, with interesting speakers and great networking opportunities.

I couldn’t make it to January’s meet and felt extremely jealous reading the #fong and #futureofnews tweets.

After joining the London group I started a thread on the message board asking if any Brighton-based media folk would be interested in setting up a ‘nest’.

Withing 24 hours of my post Judith Townend of Journalism.co.uk was ready to run with the idea.

My contribution? Well, I’ve invited many  Johnston Press journalists from across Sussex.

Fingers crossed this will be a great regular event.

19/01/2010

Getting out of the newsroom

Filed under: journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 10:25 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When I started my first professional job as a newly qualified journalist, leaving the newsroom during the working day was unheard of. We were expected to write and call, after all, how can a journalist produce copy if they’re not sitting at their desk.

I recalled my desk-bound start in journalism when I saw the 10,00 Words blog post Get out of the newsroom and into the community. It’s great to read Mark S. Luckie write about how the California Watch team are going out into the community for a day to meet their readers.

Why restrict it to one day though? Making new contacts by going out and meeting people is something journalists ought to do on a regular if not weekly basis.

In some ways I was fortunate to live far from friends and family during my junior reporter days. This meant I had nothing better to do of an evening then turn up to the opening of an envelope, or attend numerous council meetings.

The best piece of advice I ever received while on work experience was “know your patch”, and getting out helped me fulfill that.

17/01/2010

Multimedia: Audio slide shows at News:Rewired

Multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook’s work blew me away at News:Rewired.

I have never really paid much attention to audio slide shows. Building slide shows is a regular part of my working week, but Adam’s interview with John Hirst is unlike anything I have thought possible.

Watch it here: Hirst v. UK from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo

Describing himself as “passionate about the audio slide show” Adam explained how this medium can often tell a story better than any video, with minimal equipment.

“Really rich audio mixed with strong photographs is potent,” he told us.

The story behind the John Hirst slide show started with a video which “wasn’t strong enough”. Good photographs and the audio from the interview was not only cheaper, it was also quicker.

What do you need according to Adam?

  • A great story/character. Work well with portraits.
  • Prospects for good photographs.
  • Potential for great audio with other great atmospheric  sounds such as water sounds or street sounds to give the slide show space to breath.
  • An audio recorder, Digital SLR and Soundslides to build it.

The New York Times One in 8 Million series was given as an example of excellence in the audio slide show.

Characters are found and pre-interviewed. An audio producer records the interview, only then does the photographer take photographs after listening to the audio.

Once everything is put together the images match the words.

It’s so simple and something I would like to use on the websites I am responsible for. However simple creating these things is, a limited number of reporters and hard-pressed photographers may make this difficult in practice.

15/01/2010

General thoughts on News:Rewired

AFTER spending a day a Journalism.co.uk’s News:Rewired conference I’ve come away feeling inspired and armed with examples to present to others – within the news organisation where I work and to students at future online journalism workshops.

In his keynote speech City University’s head of journalism George Brock, former international editor of The Times, described the news industry as throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick – a mixture of chaos and discovery.

He referenced Jeff Jarvis and entrepreneurial journalism, necessity being the mother of invention, and told how Twitter wasn’t the big player in the Iranian counter-revolution, but slogans on bank notes.

It was the sort of upbeat and inspiring speech you want to hear from a person at the forefront of training a new generation of journalists and I needed cheering up.

BBC College of Journalism editor Kevin Marsh made me jealous during his presentation. A fully integrated 24 hour multi-media newsroom staffed by 1,100 journalists tweeting, blogging, writing, filming, Audiobooing, telling stories in the best possible way. Such luxury!

A particularly interesting working concept Kevin explained were the BBC story communities with journalists working as a group, initially using MSN as a communication tool, sharing their specialist skills for stories such as mapping, Facebook, data-mining etc. The community grows and shrinks around a story.

Can be set up by anyone with change from the bottom up and the top down.

“Big news organisations doing better than you think at taking new ideas and adapting,” he said.

The way he described the how the BBC newsroom works as a dynamic evolving beast putting the web and rolling news service BBC New 24 at the centre, and not wait for the bulletin, is just how I believe newspapers should go forward.

In my working environment there are senior members of the editorial and commercial management structure who would like the web to go away. It’s not going to, and the BBC model is the one to embrace.

Print sales were falling before the internet took off as political and social apathy seems to have become endemic. Some people are just not interested in news.

What are we journalists to do?

I would sum Kevin’s presentation up as saying there are many things to learn, we can’t be experts at all of them, but can find new skills to enhance those we have already as journalists.

Journalism is the sourcing and investigation of the story and reporting is the telling of it. This is what we do, there are just more ways to do it now.

I’ll blog my thoughts on the workshops I attended and the news business models discussion separately.

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