Tag Archives: The Daily Telegraph

Storify: BBC Sport Online v Newspaper Websites

I spotted an interesting discussion on Twitter, which has stretched over several days since last week. It’s about the scope of BBC Sport’s online activities, and its impact on newspaper websites. The debate is mostly between Matt Slater of BBC Sport and Matt Scott, former sports reporter with the Guardian and Daily Telegraph, with some others chipping in.

There were some interesting points made on both sides, so I thought I’d collect the tweets together in a Storify. It was slightly tricky because there were various threads to the debate going on at the same time, but I think I’ve more or less managed to get things into a coherent order.

What I’m Reading: Jeff Bezos Buys The Washington Post, And More

The Washington Post building. (picture: vpickering on Flickr)

The Washington Post building. (picture: vpickering on Flickr)

This is the first in what I imagine will be a semi-regular feature on this site, with links to things I’ve enjoyed reading.

The biggest media news of the week came from Washington DC, where the Graham family announced it was selling the Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250m.

That sounds like a lot of money, but everything’s relative. As Alex Massie points out, that’s basically what Johnston Press paid for The Scotsman as recently as 2005.

Of the American reactions to the deal, here’s the analysis on the Post’s own Wonkblog. It’s worth reading the thoughts of former Post staffer and New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Also at the New Yorker, John Cassidy offers a sceptical view of what Bezos’ motives might be. Back at the Post’s website, read this enjoyable open letter to Bezos from Gene Weingarten.

I’ve been checking out Medium this week, the writing-focused newish social network from the Twitter guys, Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Williams explains it all here.

A couple of things that I particularly enjoyed: Callie Schweitzer on how interviewing director David O Russell for her high school newspaper changed her life, and Dave Harte discussing a presentation on the internet he gave to a class of ten-year-olds.

Some rotten boroughs news to finish. Weep at Leeds Citizen’s account of councillors’ refusal to allow the recording of a council meeting. And, from Private Eye via the Telegraph’s Louise Gray, an explanation of how fracking permission was originally granted in Balcombe (there’s an easier-to-read follow up from the Independent here).

Just goes to show why it’s important to scrutinise even parish councils.

Twitter Rumours, Andy Murray’s Cancer Donation, And Why Journalists Should Check Before Hitting Retweet

Andy Murray serves in his semi-final win over Jerzy Janowicz (picture: filmstalker on Flickr).

Andy Murray serves in his semi-final win over Jerzy Janowicz (picture: filmstalker on Flickr).

It’s not exactly an innovative observation to say that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on Twitter, and that sometimes completely untrue rumours can be circulated as fact with alarming speed. I’ve written before on this blog about how I was at the centre of one such incident a couple of years back.

People can post what they like, so you can’t stop it happening. But what journalists can do is avoid giving credibility to rumours by spreading them without properly checking the information first. A brief Twitter storm that blew up last night following Andy Murray’s victory in the Wimbledon final shows us what happens when people don’t think before they retweet.

Tweets started appearing during the evening that Murray was going to donate his £1.6m prize to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. This seemed extraordinary, but there was a reason to believe it might be true: Murray donated his £73k prize for winning Queen’s Club last month to the charity.

Quickly searching Twitter for the source of the rumour, there was no word from any official Murray or Wimbledon-related accounts, or from any of the journalists covering the tournament. The apparent source was actually from this Twitter account: a photographer who said she’d been told the information from a friend and fellow photographer who was at the Championships. Her original tweet, since deleted, was the first to mention the “donation” and was the main one being retweeted again and again.

However, the story seemed too good to be true. And before too long, one of the journalists at Wimbledon simply asked Murray about it.

End of rumour. But not really, because earlier tweets about it kept being recycled all evening and into today. Not a big deal in the greater scheme of things, but for some people it was a deflating end to a day of sporting excitement.

I’m sure the original tweeter posted the information in good faith, but what happened isn’t really her fault. What transformed the life of the rumour on Twitter was the casual retweeting of it by prominent sports journalists at organisations including the BBC, Sky Sports, the Daily Telegraph and Reuters among others (I won’t ‘name and shame’ individuals especially as apologies and deletions soon followed, but the damage was done).

Twitter users with large followings who work for credible news sources have to take particular care when retweeting information. Partly because they are publishing that information to a relatively wide audience (wider than the information might otherwise reach), and partly because they are lending the credibility of both themselves and their employer to that information. A tweet or retweet from someone working at one of the organisations mentioned carries more weight than one from a random individual.

Given the amount of interviews Murray had to do on Sunday evening, there was no excuse for not waiting for a bit of verification from the man himself.

So, what should journalists do? It’s not an exact science, but this particular Twitter minefield isn’t as difficult to navigate as it might first appear. Good rules to follow are:

1. Always try to find the original source of the information. If it’s not an official account of some kind or backed up with other credible evidence, treat it with caution.

2. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So if in doubt, don’t retweet.

We all make mistakes on social media from time to time, but it’s worth making an extra effort not to. Because sometimes, false information on Twitter is about more serious things than tennis.

(ps. I couldn’t find a picture of the Wimbledon final on Flickr that I was free to reproduce, but I did find this one of the semi-final that was uploaded by filmstalker).

Blackburn Lecture On Journalism And The Internet

I did some teaching at Blackburn College’s University Centre just before Christmas, including this lecture which I gave to a group of first and second year students.

It’s a quick introduction to some of the current themes surrounding the current state of journalism. I thought it was important to emphasise to the students that, although newspapers are generally in decline, there are many factors at work and it’s not just “because of the internet”. I also wanted to stress that the skills they are learning on their course will be useful to them regardless of what they end up doing, whether it’s working for a traditional media company, in some related industry such as PR, or doing their own thing.

Here’s the full presentation.

Leeds MA International Journalism Course, Lecture 1

Today I gave the first of five lectures to MA International Journalism students at the University of Leeds. I’m also taking them for eight practical sessions, and it’s all part of a module aimed at giving them multimedia journalism skills, to go with some of the more academic work they’re doing in other modules.

The students are from several different countries, so I decided to use the first of the formal lectures to give them a bit of background on a few of the major challenges and possibilities facing journalism. I’m a journalist and not really an academic, so it was more of a personal perspective on some key issues rather than an in-depth critical analysis, but hopefully it’ll help put the practical skills I’m teaching them into a bit of context.

You can have a look at the presentation here: http://prezi.com/kgmt_p-4zioc/ma-lecture-1-university-of-leeds/