After a couple of weeks spent examining legacy media companies and how they are adapting to digital journalism, this week’s focus in Journalism Technologies turned to the pure players in the scene: ranging from the long-established such as Yahoo and MSN, to the newer (and certainly more interesting for my audience) entrants such as BuzzFeed and The LAD Bible.
The latter is a particularly intriguing case study: not least because, in contrast to the US-dominated world of tech and media, it’s a company which emerged not just from the UK, but from the north of England. It’s also fascinating because of its popularity – it has almost as many weekly UK users as The Sun and ITV News websites, according to the latest Reuters Institute Digital Report – and the way it has pivoted in an attempt to shake off its reputation for, well, laddishness. Its hugely popular Facebook page, and accompanying website, have been virtually purged of the overtly sexist and misogynist content which were once its trademark.
The LAD Bible today. No cleavage anymore.
For fans of the genre, I must report that “Cleavage Thursday” is a thing of the past. Instead, clicking on even an old link to that ‘feature’ instead takes you straight to the very smart homepage, today being led with a story about Iraq. There’s still plenty of ladbantz going down on FB, but it’s clear The LAD Bible wants to be taken seriously now, and the display ads for well-known high street names suggest the strategy is making progress.
I turned to Mark Deuze and his notion of ‘liquid journalism’ for this week’s theoretical viewpoint. First coined a decade ago, Deuze used the term to describe the way in which journalists and media companies needed to change their ways of working, from the traditional methods to those better suited to the more fluid nature of modern society. Arguably, formats such as BuzzFeed’s listicles are an example of exactly this, which legacy publishers have sometimes struggled to match. In this week’s workshops the students have been working in groups to come up with competing lists using BuzzFeed’s Community feature, an exercise I’ve run successfully for many years with visiting school groups. I’ll see which has got the most views in time for next week’s lecture.
Posted in Lectures
Tagged aggregation, Andrew Breitbart, Arianna Huffington, blogging, Breitbart, Buzzfeed, Drudge Report, Grumpy Cat, Huddersfield, Huffington Post, Jonah Peretti, Journalism Technologies, liquid journalism, Mark Deuze, Mashable, MSN, The LAD Bible, University of Huddersfield, Vice, Yahoo
It’s week two of our new first year module at the University of Huddersfield, Journalism Technologies. And it’s Google week.
In the practical sessions we’re focusing on some simple tips to make Google work better for journalists, ranging from Advanced Search to Google Alerts to Google Trends.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s lecture posed the question in the title of this blogpost: is ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Google a force for good or, well, evil? There was a reading from Christian Fuchs’ book Social Media: A Critical Introduction, while the concept introduced towards the end of the lecture was Technological Solutionism, coined by another sceptical voice in Evgeny Morozov.
Most of the students seemed to appreciate that I wanted them to take a more critical eye to a tool they have used for virtually every day of their lives for as long as they can remember, but still generally came down on the good side of the ledger in the end.
When I asked for a show of hands on who had a Google Account, and picked one student to explain why, she said honestly that she just got fed up with being asked whether she wanted a Google account every time she went on one of their myriad services, so gave in and got one. Anyone who spends any time on the internet, or indeed has ever tried shopping in Tesco without a Clubcard, an probably appreciate that.
Posted in Lectures
Tagged Christian Fuchs, Dotcom crash, Evgeny Morozov, Google, Journalism Technologies, Ken Auletta, Larry Page, Mel Karmazin, PageRank, SEO, Sergey Brin, Technological Solutionism, University of Huddersfield, Yahoo
General Ambrose Burnside. Better remembered for his facial hair than being a general.
I’ve finally got round to getting myself a Tumblr. For the unitiated, it’s a flexible and easy-to-use microblogging platform, pitched somewhere between a shorter form of traditional blogging and a social network. Recently purchased by Yahoo for $1.1bn, it’s going to be fascinating to see how it develops. And there’s no better way to keep an eye on something than by actually using it.
Many Tumblr users have expressed the fear that Yahoo will mismanage the site, as it arguably did with Flickr, once the darling of photo-sharing but long since put in the shade by Instagram. Ahead of the Tumblr deal there were some predictions that Yahoo might roll them both together, but that hasn’t happened, and instead Flickr was relaunched last month. I’ve always found the communities there to be extremely useful for both images and knowledge, and I suspect a revitalised Flickr may prove more useful for journalists than any number of Tumblrs, fun though they are.
I decided to do my Tumblr on the impressive beards sported by generals during the American Civil War, largely because I’m currently reading Shelby Foote’s classic and absorbing three-volume history of the conflict. But another good reason is to avoid infringing anyone’s copyright. I’m using the public domain Civil War photography of the great Mathew Brady, placed online by the US National Archives using, yep, Flickr.