Sarah Booker


Web headline relief

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



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 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 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.


Paywall watch and Online Journalism Blog

Filed under: Web journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 11:38 pm
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A few weeks ago Online Journalism Blog founder Paul Bradshaw asked members’ of the OJB Facebook group to get involved and come up with ideas to encourage more people to get involved.

One lengthy group email later (if only we all had Google Wave it would have been so much easier to follow) and the first debate launched was paywall watch

The first article to stimulate discussion in the group worked well, especially once I plucked up the courage to send a message to users.

Feedback from this first post has been integrated into a new and improved paywall watch post on the blog itself, Paywall watch: the news you’re willing to pay for.

It will be interesting to see how the debate develops.

Since late November, I’ve been asked my opinions about Johnston Press’s experimental paywalls. I know nothing more than the details in the previous link, and work many hundreds of miles away from the publications in question, so haven’t heard any of the feedback.

It will be interesting to see what happens and if any other publishers, such as Newsquest and Trinity Mirror join in the paywall bandwagon.


Shares, newspapers and future journalism

Filed under: Web journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 8:08 pm
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Nick Hasell’s article “Have faith: after a year of setbacks, I am a sadder but wiser man“, in The Times on Saturday, December 27, looked at the performance of the Tempus Ten, shares selected at the beginning of 2007 caught my eye because my employer Johnston Press Plc is given a kicking.

This year JP’s share price has dropped, dramatically, from a three to single figures.

Hasell’s article suggests it’s the journalists who don’t see the end of print and the rise of the internet.

As someone at the forefront of JP’s web operations in Sussex, I would say the problem is not with the majority in the newsrooms.

Embrace the web

There are many journalists across JP embracing the internet, because we know it’s the future.

Equally there are others who resist with every fibre of their being.

However, JP is moving forward and looking to the web, and taking its advertising platforms with it.

People have a great appetite for news and journalists possess the skills to source and interpret it for mass consumption.

Journalists will still be creating news for websites, as well as print.

Unexpected tales

Even though I consume a lot of news information through the web, from traditional news sources such as The Guardian, The Times, Telegraph, BBC etc, and specialist blogs, the serendipity of discovering something in print, which I wouldn’t necessarily read online, is what keeps newspaper important to me.

American journal Editor and Publisher published an interesting column by Ted Knutson “What I missed only getting news online” (the original is behind a paywall hence the Blogger link).

Ted’s right by pointing out the joy “of running across news I didn’t realize was there by leafing through all the pages of a newspaper instead of just looking at a handful of headlines on the home page of a newspaper’s web site”.

However, journalists and regular older readers will not keep a publication afloat forever.

Chase youth, keep old

Steve Outing’s interesting article, again in Editor and Publisher, My ‘Crisis’ Advice to Newspaper Company CEOs: 11 Points to Ponder” gives the solid advice to focus on the traditional demographic for print, and to chase youth with web.

This is what we’re trying to do at the Worthing Herald series, which is probably why our print ABC is rising along with our eABC.

Sussex Newspapers, the JP division which includes the Worthing Herald series, was one of the company’s best performers in 2008, so we’re obviously doing the right thing, but need to continue to do so.

Resistance is futile

The difficult market conditions and the changes in newsroom structure under consultation at the moment will mean journalists will have to think about their commitment to the web.

In the days before Christmas one of my colleagues admitted to having no interest in learning how to put stories online, hence they didn’t retain the instructions in their memory.

Hasell’s point about the perception that print will die might be the kick resistant journalists need to learn before they become unemployable.


Changes in news, views and communication

Filed under: Web journalism — Sarah Booker Lewis @ 8:19 pm
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Seismic changes have been occurring in the way people read news in the 21st century.

I started working in the newspaper industry in 1992, formally qualifying as a journalist in 2000.  Since then the world of newspapers has changed beyond measure.

My first experience of the internet was in 1995, and I’ve been online regularly since 1996. In early 2007 I took over the editorial content management of the Worthing Herald’s website. Its unique users have increased by approximately 350 per cent in that time.

In this blog I intend to share my experiences, experience and ideas, to encourage and help journalists find their way around the web and make it work for their newspaper’s website.