Monthly Archives: February 2018

Journalism Technologies: 17. How Journalism Is Being Saved (The Ending Will Shock You!!!!!!1)

I had to be away from work last week so the usual week 16 lecture in Journalism Technologies at the University of Huddersfield was delayed until week 17. It was a look at the online pure players who have shaken up digital publishing in recent years, from the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed to Breitbart and The Canary.

I kicked the lecture off by showing a large backdrop image of Grumpy Cat, one of the breakout internet stars that we might commonly associate with this breed of media company, and then following it up with a clip of Vice’s memorable fast turnaround documentary on Charlottesville from last year. The message being that while these outlets may have developed a reputation for trivial viral nonsense, they’re just as capable of investing in quality journalism in ways that more traditional media companies find it hard to match.

I included a reflection on academic Mark Deuze’s 2006 call for media companies to embrace what he described as ‘liquid journalism’, which he defined as interacting with the audience, coming up with different ways of creating journalism and embracing the fact that things change rapidly. BuzzFeed for example, which began that year, could be seen to have mastered all three of those points. But as I also noted in the lecture, the recent job cuts there demonstrate that native advertising has not proved the silver bullet to commercial success that some had hoped it might be. Whether there’s room for all of the new players in digital publishing to survive is, as ever, in question.

Journalism Technologies: 15. Wayne Ankers And Lauren Ballinger From Trinity Mirror

Wayne and Lauren talking to the first year students.

This week in Journalism Technologies at the University of Huddersfield, we welcomed two guest speakers from Britain’s biggest newspaper publisher, Trinity Mirror, to get the inside track on how the company is continuing to push forward online and on social media.

Wayne Ankers is the editor of the Huddersfield Examiner and has also been serving as the launch editor of Leeds Live, a new online-only offering from TM based in a city where it has not had a presence before, parking its tanks firmly on the lawn of the Johnston Press-owned Yorkshire Evening Post. Wayne talked the students through the aims of the site, with a strong focus on Leeds United coverage as well as more timeless, going-out-in-Leeds material.

One point Wayne made about football reporters made me ears prick up in particular. Traditionally students who want to become sportswriters are told to leave their allegiances at the door of the press box, to become professional observers of the action. But Wayne actively wants his Leeds United journalists to be Leeds fans, or at the very least have a depth of background knowledge about the club that would match that of a fan. In an age when being active on social media and engaging directly with readers is a key part of the job, Wayne believes it’s vital for regional sports journalists to have a passion for, and deep knowledge about, the club they cover, to help give them the credibility they need when interacting with fans.

Lauren is the Executive Editor of the Examiner and took the students through how she has helped oversee the transition from a newspaper-focused newsroom to one that is truly digital first. She pointed to this recent Shorthand story the Examiner published, as an example of the kind of top class online storytelling both the Examiner and Leeds Live are striving to do. She also offered these handy tips for the students.

They were two great talks and both Wayne and Lauren kindly stayed to answer some questions from the students, too. Thanks again to them both.

Carrie Gracie Gives Evidence To MPs About Equal Pay

Embed from Getty Images

I’ve been asked to write another article for the University of Huddersfield View from the North blog, this time about the gender pay row at the BBC and Carrie Gracie’s appearance before MPs yesterday. And here it is.

THE BBC is in a bind over how much it pays its journalists.

In particular, Auntie’s accused of giving prominent female reporters a raw deal, by keeping them on salaries far lower than men doing similar jobs.

The issue – rumbling for months – exploded to prominence at the start of the year when China Editor, Carrie Gracie, announced she would leave that role in protest at discovering she was paid significantly less than, for example, US Editor Jon Sopel.

Gracie’s intervention demonstrates the BBC was in the wrong twice over.

First, she underlined the uncomfortable reality that the BBC was indeed short changing its female journalistic talent.

Radio 5 live Breakfast presenter Rachel Burden revealed last summer she was paid a third of the salary of her co-host, Nicky Campbell.  Sure, he has a long history as a Radio 1 DJ and TV star and his pay is certainly a legacy of that, while Burden’s relatively modest wage reflects her more conventional background in BBC local radio.

Campbell is a hugely experienced and capable presenter, but is he three times better than Burden?  Of course not, and he’s acknowledged as much by joining Sopel in agreeing a pay cut.

Second, the idea that BBC journalists need to be paid more to prevent them being poached by rival organisations is nonsense.

This does happen from time to time – see Robert Peston’s switch to ITV – but if commercial broadcasters really are prepared to pay top dollar to get leading BBC names, then what’s the problem?

It’s an organisation full of journalists like Rachel Burden, ready to take the step up from local radio or regional TV, who have lacked only the chance to prove their abilities on a national stage.

BBC News is already trying to find savings of £80m a year as part of BBC-wide cost cutting.  I’d expect to see far fewer big salaries and more internal promotions from here on in.”