Sarah Booker

03/05/2010

Confessions of an election geek

The first election I remember was in 1979.  It was when Mr Callahan stopped being Prime Minister and Mrs Thatcher took over. It was exciting to see a woman in charge, and amused by people chanting “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out out out”, within days of her arrival.

I recall with fondness the Spitting Image election special of 1987, and, I think, the 1992 election night with Armondo Ianucci with a choir performing television news theme tunes. Or was it 1997? That was the  last election I watched on TV . I kept promising myself I would go to bed, but it was just too interesting.

The last two general elections I have been at the count. It was a childhood dream. I always enjoyed going along to the polling station with my parents, and have always voted with enthusiasm. However, this count will be different because this is the social media election.

Five years ago the newspaper I worked on didn’t have a website. Now, as digital editor for the Worthing Herald series I have encouraged reporters to use Scribblelive during hustings, giving readers the chance to watch from home, and participate.

A few of the candidates standing in the four constituencies the group covers have Twitter accounts. All bar one have a website, blog and Facebook presence.  All four seats are pretty safe Conservative ones.

This is where I’m lucky. I live in Brighton Pavilion, a constituency where Labour have been in power since 1997, taking over from the Conservatives, with a council where the Greens are the biggest group. All three parties are fighting to take the seat. It’s the Green’s number 1 target, hence Green leader and MEP Caroline Lucas is standing.

I can watch Tweets from the three main candidates throughout the day, every day.

The bulk of election literature we have received has been Green and Labour. The occasional bit of Conservative has arrived and one general piece of Liberal Democrat. Brighton Blogger and Labour Party activist Dan Wilson has written an interesting blog about Brighton politics, What does the LibDem surge mean in Brighton Pavilion? Brighton ought to be a Lib Dem stronghold, but it seems Lewes and Eastbourne have greater potential on that front.

Back to the point. I have uploaded photographs of leaflets to The Straight Choice.org. The majority have been either Labour or Green.  I started uploading after the Brighton Future of News Group meeting with Richard Pope, one of the founders of The Straight Choice, spoke to Brighton Future of News Group. Comparing party leaflets in different post code areas, across the country, and at varying times during the campaign.

Inspired by Richard’s presentation, I promoted the idea on the Worthing Herald website resulting in the first leaflets uploaded for the constituencies.

During this bank holiday weekend I’ve taken the process one step further by taking photographs of every campaign poster I’ve seen while walking around Brighton. I had planned to do it once when I walked to visit friends in Hove, before meeting another friend in the city centre. It was a circular walk back home. The number of Green Party posters I saw was astounding. The idea was inspired by a Tweet from @mockduck to @jowadsworth

This exercise prompted me to walk around where I live and map the photographs.  The resulting mass of green makes Thursday’s result an interesting prospect.

I’ll be spending Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning at Lancing Leisure Centre, waiting for the results of the East Worthing and Shoreham and Worthing West constituencies, but at least this time I can keep track of everywhere else online.

I’ll be using Scribblelive and Qik to bring live text and video from the count, and publicising the result online as it happens.

25/02/2010

What’s the point? – Foursquare

Filed under: Web tool review — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

For some time now I have been pondering the point of FourSquare.

I joined the sit and started checking in with gusto in December 2009. However, I found myself becoming underwhelmed rather quickly.

I was also uncomfortable broadcasting my location, especially after seeing the state of my Facebook and Twitter feeds after a shopping trip to London.

When the website Please Rob Me appeared with its constantly updating list of tweeted Foursquare updates, it didn’t surprise me.

Since December I have given it a try a couple of times, without Tweeting locations, but the game hasn’t grabbed my attention and I couldn’t see wider application for it at this stage.

Then I read Elizabeth Redman’s article on Editor’s Weblog “What does Foursquare mean for newspapers”.

Redman quite rightly points out Foursquare is a great way to link up with venues for reviews and reader offers.

The New York Times has created a badge for people who “check in” at Vancouver Winter Olympic venues.

Canadian newspaper Metro has joined with Foursquare to link editorial content to locations and send alerts out to subscribers/friends.

Reading this I can see the potential for local newspapers, linking reader offers with a Foursquare to do list. The difficulty is grabbing advertisers’ imaginations.

Something I keep reminding myself is how I didn’t “get” Twitter or Facebook in the early days.

Even now many of my colleagues can’t see the point of using social media to drive traffic to our newspapers’ websites and interact with a wider audience.

But, there is hope as the advertising sales people are starting to ask about using Twitter and Facebook. After all, these sites are our fourth and seventh biggest referrers.

Additional (March 13, 2010) : I am still playing with Foursquare and have become mayor of two locations. There is a long way to go before its potential is realised in the UK.

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.

18/11/2009

Useful people to follow on Twitter – Part one

This week I am hosting my first online journalism lecture/workshop/seminar for NCTJ news and magazine journalism students at Brighton City College.

During the session I’ll be looking at Twitter as an information source. I have found stories for the newspapers I work for, and discovered a host of useful information to help me with my work.
Here is the first batch of journalism and social media folk I  would recommend for a #followfriday dedicated to journalists new to Twitter, but without the 140 limit.

George Hopkin – Johnston Press seo evangelist.

Mashable – Social media blog . The latest tricks, toys and gossip in the world of social media and a few handy guides, too.

Paul Bradshaw – Lecturer and social media consultant.

Online Journalism Blog – great tips from Paul Bradshaw and co

Joanna Geary – Times web development editor.  Also follow her professional account and her bookmarks @timesjoanna and @joannaslinks

Alison Gow – Executive Editor, digital, for the Liverpool Daily Post & Liverpool Echo.

Jo Wadsworth – Brighton Argus web editor @brightonargusjo

Glenn Mottershead – Journalism lecturer.

Andy Dickinson – Online journalism lecturer. See his bookmarks @linkydickinson

Sarah Hartley – Guardian local launch editor.

Clay Shirky – Influential future media blogger.

Journalism news Tips, news and a whole host of useful information.

Judith Townend – From Journalism News.

Media Guardian – Updated throughout the week. More than Monday’s weekly supplement.

Shane Richmond – Telegraph Head of technology.

Kate Day – Telegraph communities editor.

Martin Belam – Guardian internet advisor: Currybet.

Charles Arthur – Tech Guardian editor.

Ilicco Elia –  Head of mobile Reuters.

Channel4 newsroom blogger – follow the newsroom process before the bulletin.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy – Channel4 news.

Jemima Kiss – Guardian media/tech journalist and UK Twitter queen.

Patrick Smith – PaidContent UK .

Damian Thompson – Telegraph blogs editor.

Jeff Jarvis – The Buzz Machine blogger and journalism professor.
David Higgerson – Head of Multimedia, Trinity Mirror; Exec Editor, Bham Post and Mail.

Louise Bolotin – Journalist and blogger.

Richard Kendall – Web editor Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

Documentally – Mobile media maker.

Tech Crunch UK – Tech news and information.

Mike Butcher – Tech Crunch UK.

Neiman Journalism Lab – Harvard.

Richard MacManus – Read Write Web.

Daren Forsyth – Ex-BBC, now 140characters.co.uk

Josh Halliday – Journalism student and social media user.

Matt Cornish – Newspaper editor.

And to end part one, why not add me, too – Sarah Booker.

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