Sarah Booker


Searching social media for news – dealing with the hard stuff

Refugees trapped between Macedonian riot police and razor wire on the Greek border. Image by Freedom House on Flickr, licenced by creative commons.

Refugees trapped between Macedonian riot police and razor wire on the Greek border. Image by Freedom House on Flickr, licenced by creative commons.

“Do you have a personal care plan?” Gavin Rees, director of Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Asked the audience at News:Rewired In Focus.

Most of the audience kept their hands down. It is not something any of us like to think about.

Dealing with traumatic and violent images is part of the working day for many journalists, this can result in what Mr Rees “vicarious trauma”.

News services recruit people specifically to search social media for user generated content to provide eye-witness footage to tell stories.

These journalists are watching at the front line of battle without staring down the barrel of an AK47.

Mr Rees spoke without slides as images stay with us. It is a fundamental part of the mammal brain.

During the Q&A former war reporter John McHugh on Twitter of Varifeye Media, explained how watching footage in his office was more traumatic than three-months in Afghanistan.

He said: “After going to Afghanistan I had time to decompress.

“You’re there, then when looking at images it affected me much more.”

When he was out in the field he expected it. He was shot, shot at, saw people dying around him.

Going into a war zone is not a pleasant experience and he knew it,

Seeing footage of the same thing then having a chat with someone about last night’s TV is a difficult transition.

Sam Dubberley on Twitter co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub, explained how data gathered found 56% of front line journalists expect to see disturbing as part of their jobs and 46% feel disturbed by it.

How do they cope? Watching dog-themed Tumblr and Taylor Swift’s Instagram were suggested mechanisms.

As one of his slides stated: “We do the Internet, that’s kittens…”

Kittens by Mathias Erhart on Flickr. Licenced by Creative Commons.

Kittens by Mathias Erhart on Flickr. Licenced by Creative Commons.

Journalist looking through Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and a multitude of other resources, see violence, blood and death.

Going back to the personal care plan, how can journalists protect themselves? How can employers help them?

  • Alternating what people work on. For example one week quirky and kittens, the following week Syria and Yemen.
  • Encouraging people to talk to one another. Share what upsets or traumatises. A trouble shared is a trouble halved is a useful piece of home-spun wisdom.
  • Take regular screen breaks.
  • Have plants and green things around you.
  • Use a mask over images or a piece of paper against the screen.

And finally, watch this:


Cutting through social noise at Buzzfeed

Filed under: journalism,Web journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 8:39 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Buzzfeed finds the news people want to share by keeping its fingers on the social media pulse.

One of the key places its journalists find news is on Tumblr, UK news editor Richard James told students at Brighton Journalist Works

“Tumblr interesting because there is so much stuff,” he said.

“It has quite a young demographic but it is miles ahead of everyone, breaking news and stories.”


Buzzfeed has a young audience because it is writing about what interests them in an informative and shareable way.

As Richard pointed out, traditional media does not know how to deal with or categorise social media stars.

He said: “The Sam Pepper saga was a story the mainstream press would not know what to deal with.

“He’s a YouTube star, so knowing what was being discussed meant we could reach out to people.

“There is huge gap in the market for someone like us as the mainstream press don’t appreciate the fame of these people.”

Buzzfeed also informs with what Richard described as explainer pieces to give people an introduction and wider understand of a story.

These often end up trending on Facebook or Twitter as they share well.

Richard said: “We want to be one stop shop for people wanting to find out more about Hong Kong protests.

“We try to do something different rather than blocks of text for example using an image of a poppy for every soldier killed in the First World War or Following Russian soldiers on Instagram in Ukraine. You can tell a story in a thousand different ways.”


The amount of stories Buzzfeed is covering is growing and reporters are recruited every as the site is building a good reputation for news.

Richard said: “Our reporters are on the ground around the world from Liberia, Syria and Ukraine, this not what people assume Buzzfeed is doing.

“We are getting great exclusives and hard hitting pieces.

“It is a case of looking at what people are talking about, but not in the mainstream press, we see what people are talking about on Facebook.

“Reporters are spending the time properly investigating stuff.

“There is so much noise on social media I am pleased and proud at how we look at what is trending and then give you the full back story as sometimes online the wider context gets lost.”

His advice to Journalist Works students is to be all over social media, watching and monitoring the trending subjects.

It is the best way to find news and the buzz of what is going on in the world.


Bravo to Oxford Mail tackling “right to be forgotten” ruling

I admire Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill’s stand against Google removing a story about a theft.

By writing about the move he keeps the story alive.

It is a prime example of the Streisand effect. You want it to go away but the noise gets louder.

During my eight years as a web editor with the Worthing Herald series and The Argus I lost count of the number of times people asked me to remove stories about convictions.

Invariably news stories came up on search engines causing problems for the individual.

Usually the person had kept quiet about the conviction and ended up losing a job, occasionally it caused problems with their family and friends.

This was always the newspapers’ fault for publishing, not theirs for committing a crime.

When the European Court of Justice ruled Google (PDF) should remove articles from search engines at user request I wondered what publishers would do to counteract it.

The message to people who want to hide their misdeeds is to be honest with the people you know.

Admit to your crime, however minor, and get on with what life throws at you.

Better still, keep within the law.



#Hackgate ex-News International executives appear before MPs – Storify

Jonathan Chapman, former director of legal affairs, and Daniel Cloke, former group HR director, News International are first before the culture, media and sport select committee, followed by Colin Myler, former editor, News of the World and Tom Crone, former legal manager, News Group Newspapers. This attempts to reflect the actions and reactions to MPs questions at the committee meeting.

No custard pies at #phonehacking hearing today. Police carrying out extra body search at committee room door “because of last time”
September 6, 2011
Steve Coogan on #phonehacking: ‘Why I won’t let News Corp off the hook’ #NotW
September 6, 2011

Daniel Cloke denies knowing about Clive Goodman’s letter stating that knowledge of phone hacking was commonplace at the News of the World.

Cloke avers that he had “no idea” Goodman was alleging widespread knowledge of illegal #phonehacking until his letter arrived.
September 6, 2011
Today’s #Hackgate hearing will be a complex exercise by four men of remembering and forgetting and in shifting blames…
September 6, 2011

Jonathan Chapman believes a thorough exercise was carried out when checking emails.

Everything was looked at in context.

“It was quite chatty with some exaggeration. The Harbottle emails were pulled out of context.”

LOL Never believe what you read in an email?? Chapman talking like a *careful* lawyer. #unbelievable #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Oh good god, ex News International lawyer Chapman talks of having “interfaces”. #Hackgate
September 6, 2011
Nothing “indicated reasonable evidence” of widespread phonehacking claimed by former #NOTW reporter Goodman – Jon Chapman, former NI lawyer
September 6, 2011
John Whittingdale asks if Chapman was happy with the results of his investigations.Chapman says his brief was to look for voicemail interception but nothing was found in the emails and nothing “to his recollection” that gave him cause for concern.
Curious to know what percentage of Parliamentary questions to Murdoch execs have been met with “I can’t remember”. #hackgate
September 6, 2011
#NOTW top brass already denying there was discussion of widespread hacking…
September 6, 2011

Louise Mensch asks if there is anything causing concern.

Cloke says no one admitted to any wrongdoing, but he doesn’t have his notes.

Chapman wasn’t involved with questioning but just told nothing was found. His involvement was as employment lawyer.

Mensch asks “didn’t you ask in-house lawyers?”

Chapman says no, he’s an employment lawyer not an investigator.

Cloke proving master of understatement re NoTW failure to find evidence of illegality: “I’m not an investigator”
September 6, 2011
Really just an employment matter says Cloke #HackGate #NotW
September 6, 2011
Don’t understand why NI didn’t look for criminal activity, but instead only looked at employment tribunal issues? #hackgate #notw
September 6, 2011

Damian Collins asks if any lawyer with criminal experience was involved in the investigation.

Chapman says no, it was an employment case.

Davies says reading the emails it does point to something that needs further investigation.

Chapman, NI legal head, not involved in key Burton Copland enquiry into hacking (one before Harbottle). Knows nothing or cover-up elsewhere?
September 6, 2011
#HackGate …last month Lord Macdonald QC said contained evidence of serious criminal activity. How did *they* miss it?
September 6, 2011
Keep Digging. It’s the SECOND Goodman Letter in March That Is the Smoking Gun, Not the First Letter #Coulson #Wallis #Edmondson #hackgate
September 6, 2011
One possible explanation could be that Chapman and Cloke conducted a “whitewash” in their supposed investigation. #HackGate
September 6, 2011
NI lawyer Jonathan Chapman says he was ‘trying it on’ with Harbottle&Lewis. How refreshingly frank #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Cloke on Myler claim that he said in 07 “good news, no smoking gun” – “I don’t recall saying that” #hackgate
September 6, 2011

Collins asked, shouldn’t you have got someone with criminal law experience involved?

Chapman/Cloke: “No.”

Cloke was confident as an HR director that it had been covered.

It seems there wasn’t an inquiry beyond an HR one.

Chapman admits no criminal lawyer looked at e-mails only employment lawyers at the time
September 6, 2011
Damian Collins to Cloke: I’m amazed you…didn’t discuss with Hinton the poss that more work should be done (on content of emails).
September 6, 2011
Cloke on Myler claim that he said in 07 “good news, no smoking gun” – “I don’t recall saying that” #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Cloke: We didn’t sweep it under the carpet.We looked through 2,000 emails.”In terms of an employment dispute this was a fair route to take.”

Collins asks Cloke and Chapman to confirm no action was taken outside the narrow employment remit, to check into any wrong doing.

Cloke: “If an independent third party told us there was evidence we would look into that.”

Cloke now blaming Harbottle & Lewis (3rd party investigator) for not telling NI that there was evidence of criminal activity in the emails.
September 6, 2011
One day these 2,500 ‘hacking emails’ will be published and we can see if Chapman and Cloke were asleep or carefully chose the wrong bits
September 6, 2011
Daniel Cloke – Not unusual for ex members of staff who have been sacked for gross misconduct to make allegations #hacking
September 6, 2011
Daniel Cloke essentially says: “We did the minimum work required to show we didn’t cover this up, and we kept the evidence to ourselves.”
September 6, 2011
But at the end of the day it isn’t about employment – phone hacking is illegal, and surely they had a duty to stop it? #notw #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Chapman says they were looking at the situation in a reactive way.
Chapman: “It was not for us to suggest at the time that the inquiry should go further: we were looking at this in a reactive way.”
September 6, 2011
Chapman:”If something had stood out to me and looked suspicious, then I wdve done something about it”
September 6, 2011
Chapman confirms News of the World only investigated the emails requested by Clive Goodman #hacking
September 6, 2011
Interesting: Myler, not Cloke, looked at some invoice payments as part of enquiry into Goodman hacking allegations…
September 6, 2011
Cloke looked at other documents, but was it Myler who followed the money? Dobbing Myler in it?
September 6, 2011
Cloke re scope of NoTW internal email trawl:”It was not a forensic wide ranging investigation.” You can say that again….
September 6, 2011

Philip Davies asks about payments to Clive Goodman.

“Who decided to pay him a year’s salary when he had committed a criminal offence?”

Chapman: “It may seem on the outside as a strange thing to do.”

It was Les Hinton’s decision.

So Cloke, HR director, did nothing to investigate hacking at NI even after Goodman jailing until he appealed against dismissal
September 6, 2011
Cloke did nothing on hacking until Goodman appealed his dismissal #newsint
September 6, 2011
Chapman reveals Les Hinton decided to give Goodman a huge payoff “on compassionate grounds because of the family situation”
September 6, 2011

Davies checks if Goodman had gone to a tribunal he would not have got more than £60,000.

“You two took the decision not to defend yourselves but to pay off Clive Goodman to the tune of £140,000 plus £13,000 legal costs.”

“What on earth were you doing paying him an extra £140,000 on top of the £90,000 salary.”

Chapman: “It was a stark choice. Tribunal would be several months down the line. Goodman would have been able to make allegations in a public forum. It was a pragmatic and commercial business decision.”

Davies: “Quarter of a million for committing a criminal offence.”

Chapman: it was a ‘pragmatic choice’ to avoid having stuff ‘raked up’ in a public forum–even though none of the stuff was true!
September 6, 2011
Chapman: many cps pay out on claims having no foundation to prevent untrue allegations being aired in public. Hinton’s decision – not his
September 6, 2011
Chapman says paying Goodman almost a quarter of a million pounds was a pragmatic commercial decision to stop unfounded allegations
September 6, 2011
Davies has nailed a key point. Goodman was a criminal, but got a massive pay off. It was, Chapman, said Hinton’s decision
September 6, 2011
MPs appear to have unearthed apparent issue with evidence given by Murdochs – claim Goodman payment was approved by Murdoch man Les Hinton.
September 6, 2011
Ah, Philip Davies just made my last point. Chapman says wanted to prevent “reputational effect” of Goodman raising false allegations.
September 6, 2011
Chapman: Allegations aired in tribunal would be given currency by those who wished to do so. Wanted to stop the “reputation effect”.
September 6, 2011
NI ex-lawyers say Les Hinton’s decision to pay Clive Goodman £250,000. But why pay him anything since he’d gone to jail? Unless hush money?
September 6, 2011
The Murdochs given “incorrect briefings”:Chapman. Hinton dumped in it once again.Circle the wagons. #hackgate #notw #murdochgate
September 6, 2011
The Murdochs given “incorrect briefings”:Chapman. Hinton dumped in it once again.Circle the wagons. #hackgate #notw #murdochgate
September 6, 2011
#Hackgate gray area: at what point does corporate pragmatism — practiced by most companies — become cover-up?
September 6, 2011
Former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone appear before the committee.
NOTW former editor Colin Myler and ex-legal manager Tom Crone arrive and questioning kicks off with the ‘for Neville’ email#nwpa11
September 6, 2011
Crone: “for Neville” email was evidence that phone hacking went beyond Clive Goodman – it was the reason we had to settle the case …
September 6, 2011

Crone says he discussed the “for Neville” email with the Murdoch in a 15 minute meeting before agreeing a payout to Gordon Taylor over allegations of phone hacking.

HoC: (The ‘for Neville’ email) was the reason we had to settle the case, to settle the case we had to speak to Mr Murdoch, says Tom Crone.
September 6, 2011
Crone:”I can’t remember details of the conversation [w JMurdoch] +there isn’t a note of it. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes.”
September 6, 2011
Tom Crone: the “For Neville” email was discussed with James Murdoch.: it was the reason we had to settle with Gordon Taylor
September 6, 2011
In retrospect it’s hard to understand how the “rogue reporter” defence was clung to for so long. #hackgate #hacking
September 6, 2011
Myler and Crone stick to their guns: they did discuss the ‘for Neville’ email w JRM. Question may turn to email’s significance.
September 6, 2011
Crone cannot recall saying “keep your mouth shut and keep your job”
Myler is a decent bloke, must be finding this very difficult #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Contrast between witnesses is stunning. in summary, Chapman & Cloke (and Murdochs): we knew nothing. Myler & Crone: they are all lying.
September 6, 2011
Crone: Coulson wanted to get Goodman back to #NotW after jail term. Sooooo forgiving! #murdochgate #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Tom Watson asks what Crone was doing for two years.
Crone says ‘I can’t remember” three times in a row, tells Watson he hasn’t reviewed the Goodman case for at least two years.
September 6, 2011
Fair to say that Crone is besting Watson in the battle of the Toms. #hackgate
September 6, 2011
An absolute joy to watch the proficient, thorough @tom_watson wiping the floor with inept Tom Crone, Legal Advisor to News International.
September 6, 2011

Tom Watson asks Crone if he misled the committee in 2009, and has the former NI legal advisor read out his previous testimony.

“We now accept the information you’ve given us today is different to 2009. Are you misleading us today, or did you mislead us in 2009?”

Tom Watson to Tom Crone: are you misleading us today or did you mislead us in 2009? #hacking #hackgate
September 6, 2011
@tom_watson turns all Paxman on Crone. ‘That’s enough,’ he demands
September 6, 2011
Tom Crone from News International has been caught out….First big win for the committee. Hasn’t admitted misleading Parliament tho
September 6, 2011
there is a difference between secrecy and confidentiality – Crone on his evidence #hacking
September 6, 2011
Crone reading his own evidence from 2009 – it seems to read rather differently to what he’s saying today.
September 6, 2011
Crone admits he knew phone hacking went wider than just Goodman
September 6, 2011

Tom Watson asks why nothing was done after the company had evidence and had spent money.

Tom Crone admits there was knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Watson: “And you did nothing.”

Crone: told J Murdoch that others were hacking (For Neville letter), didn”t fire anyone. #notw
September 6, 2011
Crone silently shakes his head in confirmation that nobody was reprimanded once wider evidence of hacking knowledge was clear.
September 6, 2011
Former NoW lawyer Tom Crone says he told James Murdoch in 2008 that there was evidence others in the NoW newsroom knew about hacking.
September 6, 2011
Crone is asked if James Murdoch set a figure for payment to Gordon Taylor. It seems it was open ended… he can’t remember.Crone also can’t remember keeping Murdoch ‘in the loop’.
Crone says he only met James Murdoch twice which begs question: how come JM never called him in for detailed briefing during crisis?
September 6, 2011
Crone says Met Police [criminal gang] wanted the Taylor case kept secret from the public & then Andy Hayman got a job with The Times…
September 6, 2011
“How can we be accused of covering up a document that has reached us from the police?” asks Crone of email suggesting further #hacking.
September 6, 2011
Crone is being very very careful not to perjure himself here. His “I don’t remember” ruse is carefully deployed at key points.
September 6, 2011
Crone admits he knew phone hacking was widespread… But concealed the fact for years!
September 6, 2011
Crone says it’s “absolute nonsense” that he viewed hacking into voicemail not as gross misconduct but a “reporter’s job”. #hacking
September 6, 2011
Watson submits Crone to a barrage of hard-hitting questions.
Crone v combative. Denies he misled Cttee. Says he told em that no ev of wider hacking until the ‘for Neville email’
September 6, 2011
Crone denies accusations of a cover-up of widespread hacking at News of the World under questioning from @tom_watson.
September 6, 2011
The questioning of Crone by @tom_watson is one of the most aesthetically+intellectually satisfying things I have ever witnessed
September 6, 2011
Good question @tom_watson to Crone – have you settled your package with NI? No. No he hasn’t. Performance package, eh? #hacking
September 6, 2011
Crone admits meeting Private Detective jonathan Rees and that he did undercover work for NOTW
September 6, 2011
Crone says he has never met Glen Mulcaire, Private detective who was jailed for phone hacking on behalf of NOTW
September 6, 2011
Myler sitting in silence for most.of this. Crone the lightning rod#hackgate
September 6, 2011

Watson asks if journalists, or specifically Rebekah Brooks, asked civil claimants to settle.

“No,” says Crone.

Crone says he has never met Glen Mulcaire, Private detective who was jailed for phone hacking on behalf of NOTW
September 6, 2011
@tom_watson asking if The Sun used Mulcaire. Any connection to this I wonder #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Crone says he “probably did” commission private eyes or surveillance.”It’s not unusual for lawyers to use PIs”
September 6, 2011
Collins starts questioning former NotW editor Colin Myler.
there is no ambiguity about the significance of this document [the ‘for Neville’ email] – Myler #hacking
September 6, 2011
– however the key point about the Taylor meeting is what happened internally afterwards. A significant allegation had been made, but…
September 6, 2011
…all that happened was that Crone asked Thurlbeck if he knew about the for Neville email and he denied it. Investigation over?
September 6, 2011
Fmr News intl atty Crone & #NOTW editor Myler say Taylor lawsuit settled privately to prevent 4 poss lawsuits from others Mulcaire hacked
September 6, 2011
So the cops say it was all NI’s fault they didn’t discover widespread #hacking…and now Myler says it was the cops’ fault
September 6, 2011
Myler: I assumed the police had done a thorough inquiry – quotes his columnist Andy Hayman ‘That was clearly not the case’
September 6, 2011
Myler: I came in after the Goodman affair and didn’t think he had a case, but Cloke told me to sit down with him anyway.
September 6, 2011
Myler describes the editor’s job as like a football manager. If he doesn’t perform he’s out of a job.
Myler: Corporate Governance goes beyond my pay rate. Right there. #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Davies now asks Crone about “blagging”.
extremely disingenuous response by tom crone at select committee, conflating blagging and undercover journalism. MPs missed it completely…
September 6, 2011
#hackgate But if Crone was worried about the other cases why settle for hundreds of thousands when that would raise the bar I don’t get it
September 6, 2011
Crone in his own words is negotiating his own settlement at present. Interesting. #newsinternational #notw #phonehacking
September 6, 2011
Myler:”I’m a journalist, not a detective nor a lawyer”
September 6, 2011
‘Crone admits phone hacking knowledge’ – when rolling news banners go Shakespearean.
September 6, 2011
@tom_watson @Mejarmole Crone describing desire for #coverup as “nonsense” may haunt him when police evidence comes to light. #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Ex #NOTW editor Colin Myler flat out denies knowing of payments to #phonehacking royal report Clive Goodman
September 6, 2011
“If I have fallen short you will not find me short in humility.” Myler
..Not crone – Myler I think. Either way both are raising a wall of fog in which blame seems impossible to pin point. Bit like Torchwood.
September 6, 2011
@DavidAllenGreen Crone is telling the world that after getting approval on a monumental settlement he didn’t even keep a file note?
September 6, 2011
How could Myler be taking a review of practices at the paper without looking at a single transaction #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Colin Myler-what a journalist asks “Did you do anything wrong?” when the answer is no then he just accepts it!!!
September 6, 2011
@arusbridger why Myler says that he needed to change the culture of the newspaper if it was only”one bad apple”& it wasn’t spread across NI?
September 6, 2011
BREAKING NEWS #Myler & #Crone top execs at #NOTW have unravelled claims that #JamesMurdoch knew nothing bout hacking emails. Said told him
September 6, 2011
Myler: there was ‘no ambiguity’ in the ‘For Neville’ email that he showed James Murdoch. (Paging James Murdoch…)
September 6, 2011
Mensch quizzes Crone about the “For Neville” email.
Crone: I have a feeling that I probably did (tell Murdoch about “for Neville”email ) #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Whittingdale: “did you tell him [JRM] that it ‘had the name of one of our reporters on it'” Crone, second time of asking: “I probably did”.
September 6, 2011
Crone: “Neville’s name is on it, but he doesn’t accept he knows anything about it”
September 6, 2011
Mensch proceeds to ask about the different stories written about Millie Dowler’s phone messages. One story had more detail than the other.
Tom Crone tells @LouiseMensch that neither he, nor News Corp, would have any records of when he was on holiday, #hacking.
September 6, 2011
MP Louise Mensch asks about the discrepancy btwn 2 stories abt Milly Dowler, murdered girl who was hacked. Det… (cont)
September 6, 2011
.@LouiseMensch asking Crone and Myler about the Milly Dowler story, the versions of which changed through editions #hacking #hackgate
September 6, 2011
Tom Crone appears to have the worst memory in the world. He seems to have absolutely no recollection of anything. Hmm… #phonehacking
September 6, 2011
Mensch having a good old go at Tom Crone right now. A lot of “Forgive me Mr Crone but I put it to you…” She just needs the wig.
September 6, 2011
#WTH tom crone struggles to deny #metpolice leaked them details of milly dowler voicemails. #notw #hacking
September 6, 2011
Odds of James Murdoch being recalled by Culture Committee very high, given direct challenge by Myler & Crone to his version of events
September 6, 2011
#hackgate NOTW ex-editor Colin Myler suggests News Of The World has been “under forensic scrutiny since 2006”. Breathtaking rubbish.
September 6, 2011
Louise Mensch to Colin Myler & Tom Crone : I have to say you have been as clear as mud. Too true!
September 6, 2011
Phone hacking and Leveson inquiry – live

Full coverage as the culture select committee questions four former News of the World executives including Colin Myler and Tom Crone, plus the Leveson inquiry’s first hearing 10.09am: Media lawyer Mark Stephens is one of the first to arrive at the Leveson Inquiry, reports Josh Halliday from the Royal Courts of Justice Good morning.
This Storify was designed to reflect what went on at the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.Internet connection was lost at times, so there may be a few holes, but essentially it shows the reaction from people on Twitter.


#hhldn : Sex, lies and digital news

Sex, lies and instant messenger

If you don’t want your partner to catch you cheating don’t use the internet. This was Alec Muffett’s advice at Hack/Hackers London’s August gathering.

There was a serious message behind Alec’s advice on keeping your illicit affair and dodgy porn habit a secret. Anyone who needs to keep a secret, a dissident or whistle-blower, needs to consider how they communicate.

If you need to keep a secret don’t use Skype, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, smartphones, applications with pop ups, iTunes, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), work hardware etc. All this can come back to bite you.

Skype shares everything with any machines you’ve installed it on. Even if you delete and re-install, messages they come back from the dead.

Facebook ends up everywhere, as does Google. These companies also comply with US law, which means if the National Security Agency (NSA) asks for your data, it’s handed over.

Smartphones also have comedy potential. Alec told a tale of a person whose boyfriend was sending saucy messages which their boss read when details popped up on their iPhone.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Create a complex password only you know.
  • Use a very boring pseudonym such as Edward Wilson or Carole Smith, because anything unique will come back to you.
  • Avoid linking identities and never describe yourself.
  • Use a different browser for day-to-day use and keep Firefox for your naughty secrets.
  • Log out of Facebook.
  • Clear cookies, don’t accept third-party cookies.
  • Switch off everything.
  • Don’t bookmark.
  • Don’t save passwords
  • Do not leave voicemail.

Illicit affairs and unusual kinks provide plenty of entertainment to geeks like Alec. It is amazing what is retrieved from hardware sold on eBay, he said.

His slides of advice are here:

How digital destroyed the news cycle and what you can do about it

Demand for newspapers is falling but people still clamour for information. Tools from Twitter to Tumblr are quick ways to share information. As Martin Belam pointed out, there was one event he was following on Twitter when official sources had no details at all. (It was something about football I didn’t understand).

Digital has destroyed the traditional news cycle, but it has created a new one. Print newspapers are an enjoyable read but are always historical. Online is live and as up-to-date as possible, although social media sources can be unreliable.

Martin simplified the news cycle as write newspaper, print newspaper, wrap fish and chips in newspaper, before adding embellishments including sub-editing, layout, legal checks and loading everything online. The Guardian has a digital first policy and publishes across a multitude of platforms from iPhone to Kindle, with iPad, Windows phone and Android apps, due for released soon (nothing for Blackberry). The way the newspaper presents its product on different platforms is something Martin says needs to be addressed.

“Stop the shovels”, he said. Mobiles are not tablets, tablets are not desktops and we don’t read the stories as PDFs online. One of the frustrations facing user experience architects like Martin is making content work for a multitude of mediums. He highlighted problems with visualisations on the Telegraph and Guardian’s websites, which required a mouse, not helpful when you’re on an iPad, or copy is exported without the through for the medium with notes guiding readers to images from print which aren’t online.

Interactivity has changed the way the Guardian works.  When there are mistakes “we are subbed by the comments very quickly”, Martin explained. Journalists are actively using Twitter as a news-gathering source. Paul Lewis was asking where trouble was flaring up during the recent riots, which resulted in his reports from the thick of the violence.

The Guardian is known for its liveblogging. It is a platform Martin described as a “native digital format”. Throughout the day there are political, sport and TV liveblogs generating a huge amount of traffic and an engaged readership interacting with the information.

Digital is part of storytelling now. Martin was critical of a report compiled by the NCTJ* where editors ranked web skills and social media below time management as key skills for journalists.

“It is unfair to be equipping young journalists for a job they would have been doing in the 80s and 90s.”

He pointed out the survey shows the entrenched attitude of people in control of newspapers. “They’re not interested in turning the tanker around,” Martin said.

When I teach online journalism, I tell the students I am providing them with the skills they will need to be employed in five years time. Martin has the same opinion and advised journalists to keep learning and developing as he knows digital is the future.

His summing up of the future of news raised a round of applause from the crowd:

“Let the digital people get on with saving this business properly.”

* Martin was critical of a different website that didn’t link to the report. I would like to point out the piece I sub-edited did have a link to the NCTJ page. However, this does not overcome the issue with the report page which advises people to click on the link to the right…


Great people for journalists to follow on Twitter #ff

Alan Rusbridger‘s article today, Why Twitter matters for media organisations listed a great many reasons for using Twitter.

During my years on Twitter I have found it is a great way to learn and I continue to learn a great deal by following other digital journalists, educators and developers.

In an effort to help journalists stepping into the Twittersphere for the first time I have compiled a list of really useful people to follow and learn from.

Teaching and learning

Paul Bradshaw – Lecturer and social media consultant Online journalism blog – great tips

BBC Journalism College

Clay Shirky – Influential future media blogger

Glynn Mottershead – Journalism lecturer

Andy Dickinson – Online journalism lecturer and links;

Jeff Jarvis – The Buzz Machine blogger and journalism professor

Sue Llewellyn – BBC social media trainer and TV journo

Steve Yelvington – Newsroom trainer

Jay Rosen – Journalism lecturer at NYU

Roy Greenslade – City University, media commentator


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

Marc Reeves – The Business Desk, West Midlands

Richard Kendall – Web editor Peterborough Evening Telegraph

David Higgerson – Head of Multimedia, Trinity Mirror

Sam Shepherd – Bournemouth Echo digital projects

Jo WadsworthBrighton Argus web editor

Matt Cornish – journalist and author of Monkeys and Typewriters

Louise Bolotin – Journalist and hyperlocal blogger

Sarah Booker (me because I try to be useful)

Joanna Geary – Guardian digital development editor and

Adam Tinworth –  Consultant and ex-Reed Business Information editorial development manager

Adam Westbrook – Lecturer and multimedia journalist

Patrick Smith – The Media Briefing

Shane Richmond – Telegraph Head of technology

Edward Roussel – Telegraph digital editor

Damian Thompson – Telegraph blogs editor

Kate Day – Telegraph communities editor

Ilicco Elia – Former Head of mobile Reuters

Sarah Hartley– Guardian local

Jemima Kiss – Guardian media/tech reporter

Kate Bevan – Guardian media/tech reporter

Josh Halliday – Media Guardian

Jessica Reid – Guardian Comment is Free

Charles Arthur – Tech Guardian editor

Heather Brooke – Investigative journalist, FOI campaigner

Kevin Anderson – Journalist, ex BBC, ex Guardian

Wannabehacks – Journalism students and trainees

Simon Rogers – Guardian data journalist and editor of the datastore

Jon Slattery – Journalist

Laura Oliver –

Johann Hari – Journalist, The Independent (personal)

Guy Clapperton – Journalist and writer

Alan Rusbridger – Guardian editor


George Hopkin – Seo evangelist

Nieman Journalism Lab – Harvard

Martin Belam – Guardian internet advisor

Tony Hirst – OU lecturer and data mash up artist

Christian Payne – Photography, video, mobile media

David Allen Green – Lawyer and writer

Judith Townend – Meeja Law & From the Online

Richard Pope – Scraperwiki director

Suw Charman-Anderson – social software consultant and writer

Scraperwiki – Data scraping and information

Chris Taggart – Founder of Openly Local and They Work for You

Suzanne Kavanagh – Publishing sector manager at Skillset, personal account

Greg Hadfield – Director of strategic projects at Cogapp, ex Fleet Streets

Francis Irving – Scraperwiki

Ben Goldacre – Bad Science

Philip John – Journal Local, Litchfield Blog,

David McCandless – Information is Beautiful

Flying Binary – Cloud computing and visual analytics

Rick Waghorn – Journalist and founder of Addiply

News sources

Journalism news

Journalism blogs

Mike ButcherTech Crunch UK

Richard MacManus – Read Write Web

The Media Blog

Press Gazette

Hold the Front Page

Mashable – Social media blog

Media Guardian

Guardian tech weekly

Paid Content

The Media Brief

BBC news

Channel4 news

Channel4 newsroom blogger

Sky News

House of Twits –  Houses of Parliament

Telegraph Technology


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 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.


Brighton Future of News election special #bfong

Brighton Future of News Group has an election theme for the second meeting on Monday, March 22.

Web developer Richard Pope will be talking about his work with Democracy Club, The Straight Choice and My Society.

I am an election geek living in a constituency where a three-horse race is developing between Nancy Platts (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Charlotte Vere (Conservative).

Sorry Bernadette Millam (Liberal Democrat) and Nigel Carter (UKIP), but it’s true.

All three have been campaigning. As a resident I’ve been aware of Nancy Platts beavering away in the background for a year or so now.  Charlotte Vere seems to have taken up a Saturday morning residency in London Road and Caroline Lucas has also been spotted.

One of the ideas suggested at the first Brighton Future of News Group was a candidate tracking Google map. Jo Wadsworth, web editor of the Brighton Argus had the Brighton Pavilion map up within a few days.

This is the sort of innovative idea that can come out of an event where journalists, bloggers and technical wizards can get together.

Personally, I’m very interested in The Straight Choice, and have started collecting up the few election leaflets my partner hasn’t thrown straight into the recycling.

Once this election is over it will be interesting to see the stories arising from the literature targeting our votes.

Join in the discussion at The Skiff at 7.30pm for a prompt start.

Your hosts are Judith Townend from and me.

Brighton Future of News Group is open to all with an interest in news and journalism, from broadcasters to bloggers, PRs to podcasters, programmers, students, writers, journalists and all media folk.


Brighton Future of News Group first meeting #bfong

The first Brighton Future of News Group took place yesterday (Monday, February 8), attracting a variety of journalists, writers, bloggers and techy folk, all interested in telling stories and relaying facts in new and interesting ways.

Jo Wadsworth

Our first speaker was Jo Wadsworth, web editor at the Brighton Argus, who spoke about building a community of bloggers writing on specific themes or hyperlocally, the sort of news that might not make it into the newspaper, but will be of wider interest.

Examples included the Bevendean Bulletin, which uses the Argus in lieu of its own website. Student reporters from the Journalist Works gaining experience by writing patch blogs, and others are aspiring writers dipping their toes in the water.

Jo was keen to point out the bloggers aren’t considered a replacement for reporters, but rather augmenting the newspaper’s website.

After all, as Jo explained, these people will be blogging anyway why not utilise their enthusiasm and talent for the paper?

The bloggers benefit from a ready-made audience and technical support, the paper gets street-level coverage.

Jo cited the pothole paradox hypothesized by Steven Berlin Johnston ie. extremely local, small-scale news is interesting to people living in a certain street with pot holes but not to those living a few streets away.

When it comes to looking after a paper’s bloggers, Jo advised giving constructive but honest feedback and never be afraid to turn people down.

I was pretty pleased to hear there was a high turnover of bloggers and some who didn’t even start, as I’ve had similar situations with a number of ex and failed-to-starters.

Simon Willison

The second speaker Simon Willison initially talked about his work creating the  software and database for The Guardian’s MPs’ expenses crowd-sourcing project, where more than 200,000 documents were studied in the search for interesting information.

The structure was put together in a week before 450,000 documents were dumped into the public domain during this act of government “transparency”.

It was a steep learning curve for the team behind the project, but it was developed on for the second release of MPs’ expenses information for 2008/9 and the first quarter of 2009/10.

A few thousand documents were torn through by the crowd. Simon and the team created a wider variety of tags for each page, such as food or soft furnishings.

Hand-written pages were often particularly interesting, such as a lengthy note from Jack Straw.

My personal favourite site Simon has created is where people can share their pictures of wildlife, both wild and captive. It’s an amazing site where people can vote for their favourite pictures of animals, add their own, find creatures geographically. It really is imaginative.

A spin off site is which has had friends/fans hijacking the American Superbowl hashtag #superbowlday superb-owl-day, geddit…

Simon also showed impressive crowd-sourced maps, particularly a post-earthquake map of Haiti, created by users of

It was pretty impressive to see what could be created by people with the imagination and skills to make something happen and not just draw ideas out on paper.

Break away

Both talks definitely fired the imaginations of everyone involved who took part in the break-away sessions at the end of the evening.

The four groups came up with multimedia ways to cover Brighton Pride, this year’s general election and transport issues.

A particular favourite of mine was creating a spot the candidate Google map. Now that’s an idea with legs.

Other blogs/posts about Brighton Future of News Group:

A document of all the event’s tweets featuring the hashtag #bfong.

Laura Oliver, editor of also blogged about Jo Wadsworth’s and Simon Willison’s presentations, as did John Keenan.

Judith Townend, from organised the event at The Skiff and put together a summary linked with the first Future of News Group West Midlands meeting, which took place on the same evening.

The original UK Future of News Group was set up by Adam Westbrook.


Web headline relief

Filed under: Web journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 4:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A four-hour flying visit to Grantham later and I’m feeling much happier about the new-look website than I did when I wrote Making the headlines work.

The content management system (CMS) is radically different to the current JP system, but at least I know it is possible to have specific web headlines and edits.

I think the new sites look cleaner and are/will be easier to navigate.

The majority of reporters, particularly the Worthing team, will be able to grasp this quite quickly.

It’s just a case of bringing everyone else on board.

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