Citizen Media Watch

oktober 12th, 2009

The Guardian to contract bloggers for local news

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

While Swedish national papers have moved away from local news initiatives, as local advertising markets are not ready to support costly coverage, there are examples in other countries of how to build coverage by collaborating with local bloggers. The most recent comes from the Guardian, who are looking to contract bloggers in Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Media and technology reporter Mercedes Bunz reports:

”Guardian Local is a small-scale experimental approach to local newsgathering. We are focusing on three politically engaged cities and we expect to launch in early 2010,” said Emily Bell, the director of digital development at Guardian News & Media. Sarah Hartley, the Guardian local launch editor said: ”While researching developments at the grassroots of community journalism, I’ve been impressed by the range and depth of coverage from local websites and blogs. This experimental project reflects both the shifting nature of journalism and the reality on the ground.”

The focus is on local political decision making, and Bunz draws a parallell to the public subsidy NPR has received in the States, pondering if this might be a model for the UK too. Another option is funding from organizations like the Knight Foundation.

In Sweden we’ve seen several local newspapers/sites collaborating with bloggers for local and hyperlocal news (one recent example is Smålandsposten’s Mitt Lammhult), but the national papers seem less prone to. The largest daily Aftonbladet still has its locally contracted bloggers on the larger cities’ pages on Bloggportalen – for instance Norrköpingsbloggen on the Norrköping page – but with the loss of the local sections on I doubt they get much public or journalistic attention. A lot of them are no longer active.
At the same time there are cities and even whole regions who lack journalists covering them, reports Swedish journalists’ union’s paper Journalisten (unfortunately I can’t find the article available online).
It’s not a problem in itself if national media skip local coverage as long as there are local initiatives – by journalistic sites of bloggers with an interest in these issues. Where they’re lacking, though, there’s a danger that corruption spreads.

(via Jeff Jarvis)

Disclaimer: I am a former employee of

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mars 9th, 2009

The BBC to educate the public in journalism

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Now everyone can take part of the online journalistic training and resources the BBC has available to its journalists. The BBC blog dot life announces a virtual college of journalism:

”One of the most important things that we need to think about and do is teach journalism to the next generation and to the new leaders within journalism,” said the BBC’s Kevin Marsh, at the DNA 2009 conferenceT in Brussels.

Every aspect of online training that is currently available to 7,500 BBC journalists will be open to the public.

I’ve read a number of posts lately about the education of the public into citizen journalists and educated readers. What do you think, is this the right way to go?

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maj 15th, 2007

Geo-stories, the result of the Brighton multimedia project

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The bible found on the beachIn December I wrote about the multimedia project in Brighton which is a collaboration between the University of Brighton, Nokia, Ymogen and the BBC.
Today the result was released as Geo-stories, a set of geo-tagged photos and film clips brought together as a kind of multimedia story on this site.
If the goal was to ”create engaging stories” as Mark Hardwick put it, I’m sorry to say I am not that impressed.

Guerilla gardeningThere are two ways to explore the stories, either by clicking the ”play the story” button, in which case you get the full multimedia experience with a satellite image background, music and text, photos and video clips telling a step-by-step story. Unfortunately many of them are over-done, having music with lyrics in the background while you’re supposed to read small and quite blurred text which disappears too quickly. The most engaging story is The bible on the beach, though that one raises a lot of other questions. Nowhere do we get to know if this is a fictional or true story. If it’s true, there are a lot of objections to be made. If not, that should be made clear.
The Guerilla gardening story also works okay.

The other way of exploring the stories is by clicking the dots/signs on each story’s map. That doesn’t work well at all. The navigation leaves a lot to be asked for. It sometimes, for instance on the ”Tree Survey”, brings you away from the map of photos/video clips once you click to view one of them. In other places you still get to see the map with the geotagged photos, but if you’ve zoomed in you lose the zoom once you click on a photo and have to re-zoom (and re-zoom you have to, since the standard view of the map is so much zoomed out that the photo dots are on top of eachother). If you use the Next and Previous links there are no indications on the map which dot represent the photo your looking at.

However, it is an interesting experiment, and a first step towards using geotagging in story-telling. The main flaws in the second way of story exploration are actually due to less than perfect site building, not the way the students have carried out the projects.

With some more training, this could mature into something quite interesting. But it is important to remember that a web audience usually wants to be active – clicking the forward arrows in the multimedia needs to work flawlessly. And clicking your way around a map needs to work without the map reloading and zooming when you haven’t asked it to.

As for the ”citizen media” aspect, I see no way to contribute to the site, though it says you can comment as a registered user. That doesn’t seem to include the general public, or the link is well hidden. But I guess the citizen journalism part is referring to the students not being trained journalists.

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maj 13th, 2007

Robin Hamman on the pilot BBC project in Manchester

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Robin HammanThe BBC is a media company in the forefront when it comes to working with its users, letting them contribute in different ways. One of their projects that I’ve been following for a while is the Manchester blogging project, a pilot study where editors work closely with a community of local bloggers.
Last Thursday I had the privilege to meet with Robin Hamman, Senior Broadcast Journalist at the BBC, and one of the people behind the project in Manchester. We were both invited to speak at a seminar on citizen media at the University in Karlstad, along with web advisor Fredrik Wackå.
Robin has a friendly, bubbly personality and is easy to like, traits that no doubt is a great help both when working with fellow journalists and when workshopping with budding bloggers. Like me he runs several blogs, some private and some in his professional role.
The key features of the Manchester blogging projects, Robin said, are that the BBC has no ownership of the blogs and doesn’t manage any content.
Thus it is fairly cost efficient and they don’t have to worry about the legal aspects. Instead what they do is they help people get started blogging, then promote their stuff.
(Robin Hamman prefers the word ”stuff” to content, or worse ”UGC”. I can sympathize with that. I think we need new words for ”the stuff formerly known as user generated content”.)
The BBC hosts blogging workshops in Manchester where people can come and learn how to blog and why. To take part in the project, bloggers need to adhere to the BBC’s ethical rules. But they don’t seem too strict.
– Bloggers must care about the guidelines, Hamman said. The really, really bad ones.
Some small breaks of the rules seem okay, and Hamman also encourages the bloggers in the project to mail him if they plan to break the rules, so that he can remove the links.
One of the bloggers in the project has been employed by the BBC – their first ”blogging correspondent – but apart from that, they blog for free. What the bloggers get out of it is of course the traffic the links on the BBC Manchester website generate.

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mars 13th, 2007

Al Gore brings Current TV to the UK and Ireland

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Al Gore. Photo: Current TVCurrent TV, the interactive tv network founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt in 2005, has now launched its UK version. With air time on both Sky and Virgin Media platforms in the UK and Ireland, the channel can add 10 million homes covered to its 40 million in the US.
Company chairman Al Gore explained to the Associated Press what he sees as the thing that sets Current TV apart from other channels.

Gore said Current TV was designed – to democratize the medium of television and open it up to voices, so people can join the global conversation.
Mainstream television, he says, is a one-way conduit, and – a conversation that shuts out individuals begins to get a bit stale.
Gore and his co-founder Joel Hyatt bill Current TV as – television for the Internet generation of tech-savvy 18-to-34 year olds who demand interactivity and, it seems, have short attention spans.

In connection with the launch, Current TV announced a contest where three winners get to have lunch with Al Gore in London. It’s about shooting what Current TV calls a pod – a 3-5 minute ”non-fiction video that tells a story, profiles a character or place, and/or shares an idea” – and uploading it to the site.

A third of the content on Current TV is made up by pods like this. The content is very segmented – here’s a sample hour:

Sample hour

As you can see, Current TV also partners with Google. And they’ve put extra effort into making people with a background in journalism contribute to the site and tv channel through its Current Journalism program.

”Welcome to UK and Ireland”, writes US blogger Amanda Zee, who reports that the UK team has been working hard to make the launch.

I’ve only been over here for four days, but the team at Current UK has been working toward this for months, seemingly non-stop. No matter what time I’ve been in the San Francisco office, there’s always someone in the London one available to answer questions — and if you do the time-zone math, you’ll know just how crazy that is. Hopefully now they’ll have a chance to enjoy what they’ve made.

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januari 28th, 2007

Hyperlocal sites from UK's largest newspaper publisher

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Your GazetteThe Teesside Gazette has launched five hyper-local sites, under the name Your Gazette, based on postal codes in the Middlesborough area in the UK. Interestingly enough, this initiative comes from UK’s largest newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror. It’s interesting to see that a huge company can think about focusing on few people, as is necessary in hyper-local sites. And the five will eventually become 23, Michael Hill, Trinity’s head of multimedia, tells
News on Your Gazette include ”Roadworks in your area”, a disabled woman getting a job at the local M&S, a man celebrating his 100th birthday and the worst bus shelter in all of Middlesborough. Yep, that’s local.
The focus is clearly on the people in the areas, and the sites are now calling out for bloggers to help filling them with content. There are also links to clips on YouTube made by locals.

(via BetaAlfa)

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januari 21st, 2007

BBC to open up journalism training site to the public

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Speaking of what bloggers need to approach journalism… The BBC are doing what they can to bridge the gap and educate citizens about the rules and workings of the journalistic trade. They are launching a training site to improve their journalism, and intend to open it up to the public at the end of the year. The site will be a training resource for journalists and citizens alike.

The site launches with 500 pages and over 40 video clips with both practical exercises, how-to guides helping journalists of all levels to improve their skills, and theoretical discussions on the practice of journalism aimed to stimulate debate.

(via CyberJournalist)

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januari 6th, 2007

Reading stats for the Guardian's blogs – but incoming links more important, says McIntosh

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

On his blog, Neil McIntosh, head of editorial development at Guardian Unlimited, offers some usually secret statistics of blog traffic at the Guardian.

blog traffic of 1.2m page impressions in December 05 grew to a record 7.1m pages in July 06 as the World Cup and troubles in the Middle East sparked lively discussion across our sites. Despite the huge flows of users, and the inevitable problems a minority of users can bring, the quality of the debate has been strong. Although numbers are rarely made public, I suspect our blogs are second only to the BBC’s in terms of user numbers.

McIntosh argues, though, that traffic is less important than attention from other bloggers, something I agree with. By measuring incoming links, the Guardian gets a first place among media blogs in the UK. McIntosh boasts a bit:

Technorati records more inbound links to Guardian blogs in the last 180 days than to any of our UK rivals – Comment is free, by itself, gets more links from the blogosphere (12,027 at time of posting) than the Times, Telegraph and BBC blogs combined (a total of 11,552 at the time of posting). Our other blogs do even better (17,128 links).

The important bits come in the next paragaph of McIntosh’s post – which is based on a piece he’s written for the Press Gazette – though:

But let’s not get too smug. For all the success we’ve enjoyed, the fact is blogs are the horseless carriages of social media, when fleet-footed rivals are already cranking out Model Ts. Social news sites such as Digg and Newsvine show how users don’t just want to talk about the news – they’d quite like to decide what it is, or add to it because they happen to be experts in the subject at hand.

Yep, that’s right… It’s good for the Guardian that McIntosh sees this. In offering their readers blogging tools, the Guardian could reach even further. True, the staff blogs and the Comment is free initiative (a collective group blog for a number of regular columnists from the Guardian and Observer, but also other people, most of them well established though) are pretty good, but they are still written mainly by journalists, and that is playing a different ballgame than the one that will be played in the media at large in the years to come. Even if comment IS free (well, you have to register to comment, but that’s reasonable I think), it doesn’t allow j random user to bring attention to whatever is on her or his mind. Only through reader blogs can you achieve this.

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december 19th, 2006

BBC starts citizen journalism project in Brighton

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

In collaboration with the University of Brighton, Nokia and Ymogen, BBC Innovation is launching a month-long citizen journalism project in Brighton. It’s a multimedia project, meaning the participants will use video, still photography and text combined. Phones – Nokia Nseries multimedia computers – and a Garmin Etrex GPS device will be used by University of Brighton student reporters.
At Journalism, Ymogen’s CEO Mark Hardwick explains:

We’re trying to understand the different ways that you might combine a variety of media with location information in order to create engaging stories using mobile devices. This is an incredibly exciting project.

(via Beta Alfa)

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december 3rd, 2006

BBC hosting blogging workshops in Manchester

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The BBC will arrange a blogging workshop in Manchester, as a part of the Manchester Blogging project, an interesting approach in which the BBC simply wants people to blog more, and to submit their RSS feeds so that BBC staff can keep track of them. Or, in their own words:

This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we’re simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they’re publishing their content online and we’ll keep an eye on it. The BBC won’t claim any rights over the content and won’t own anything.

The workshop aims at getting more people blogging, going through the basic stuff like where and how to set up a blog, syndication etc, but also blogging with a certain responsibility:

we’ll talk participants through the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and talk about about the BBC’s production values

As online news, and citizen journalism in particular, gets more and more local, BBC is sure on the right track. I like their approach, and I’m sure we’ll see similar projects in other UK cities in the near future.


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