Monday, 18 July 2011

Video: Students at the GAJ/John Deere journalism course 2011

The opening sessions of the Guild of Agricultural JournalistsJ/John Deere journalism training course focus on the basics of news and the importance of producing content that meets the audience's needs.

I posted this short, roughly-edited video clip to demonstrate to attendees that simple video from a Flip or phone camera can provide some useful extra content.

GAJ/John Deere students hard at work...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Using LinkedIn: A round-up of tips for journalists

Picture: Mariosundar

'Must do more with LinkedIn' has been on my to-do list for while. I tend to post to LinkedIn selectively via Twitter, but there's plenty more I could be doing.

It's becoming a significant traffic source for sites including BBC News and Techcrunch, according to  Have a listen to their podcast on How journalists can best use LinkedIn.

And there's some more tips available from LinkedIn's press centre too, which overlap with a list of 10 ways reporters can use LinkedIn from the US Poynter journalism school.

Or take a look back at these thoughts from 2010 on LinkedIn for Journalists from Alexandra Samuel.

Twelve years with the Guild of Agricultural Journalists/John Deere journalism course

David Mascord leading a session on the 2010
GAJ/John Deere journalism training course
If I  haven't made any of the mistakes mentioned in my post about journalists and numeracy, I've just calculated that this weekend I'll be celebrating my 12th year of running sessions on the Guild of Agricultural Journalists' journalism training course, sponsored by John Deere.

I'm not an agricultural journalist myself, but that's not the point. We start on Sunday evening in Nottingham with an overview of journalism and an introduction to work opportunities. 

Then, as usual, from Monday we'll spend two days at John Deere HQ in nearby Langar, going over the basic principles of writing and interviewing and presenting material for print and online audiences.

Course attendees are currently studying or working in agriculture and horticulture and, as part of the course,  go on to work experience on titles including Farmers WeeklyFarmers Guardian and Amateur Gardening. Some go on to get jobs or freelance work on host titles.

At the end of the two days, attendees enter a competition to complete a writing assignment with a first prize of £250.

I hope to blog from the event if I can while running the sessions - and maybe get some of the attendees to do the same.

When journalism doesn't add up: reporters, subs and numeracy

Fleet Street Blues' post One on four Mail Online subs can't count highlights another example of subs and writers failing to grasp basic maths.

The problem is that many journalists, me included, aren't too comfortable with figures. Some of us still tend towards the 'I'm a words person, not a numbers person' school of thought, as Press Gazette has reported.

But that shouldn't prevent us checking rates of increase and decrease in survey type stories. We should know how to check and calculate percentages and how they differ from percentage points, for example. I heard Kevin Anderson explain these terms recently and it isn't that difficult after all.

It's worth going back to an old, but still relevant, set of tips from Steve Harrison on How to get to grips with numbers, part one and part two.

There are, of course, plenty of stories potentially buried in stats.  And it's no longer just down to the financial writers to find them, as the rise of data journalism has demonstrated. After all, the MPs' expenses story came from asking about numbers.

I remember doing subbing and writing tests at job interviews, but I don't recall any basic numeracy tests. How about a few more numbers tests for journalists - at all levels?

Friday, 8 July 2011

Audio of Rebekah Brooks addressing News of the World staff

It's easy to forget how powerful simple audio can be - especially as journalists still get hung up on written words.

This audioboo by Lisa O'Caroll serves as a great reminder.

Rebekah Brooks addressing staff  courtesy of sky news (mp3)

News of the World phone-hacking timelines: How online media depicted the scandal in timelines

I was looking forward to seeing how the online media would handle the timeline of events surrounding the drama of the phone-hacking revelations, the closure of the News of the World and the subsequent arrests and political fallout.

But I have to say I'm a little disappointed at how static many of the treatments are. Okay, events have been moved very quickly but I thought by now we would have seen some more interesting ways of handling the story.

Here's a random selection of what I've seen so far:

One of the most interesting has to be from The New York Times. It's clickable and it looks like it's still being updated. The same goes for The Financial Times.

Plenty of sites, including the BBC, took a more pedestrian approach and went for a standard print media-style list in reverse chronological order. CNN and The Telegraph prefered to tackle things the other way round, beginning from 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Telegraph didn't even bother linking out from the text.

The US Huffington Post opted for a slideshow of events from 2002 up to the closure of the newspaper. The Guardian did something similar, but with a little bit more activity.

Press Gazette's dipity timeline first appeared back in January this year, but unfortunately it looks like it hasn't updated since the end of May.

Yahoo News, meanwhile, has a static infographic which you can't click on and ends with the NOTW closure.

Of course, a timeline isn't necessarily the best format. Live blogs like the one from the newly-launched UK Huffington Post use a Covertilive approach to keep up with unfolding events which was useful for integrating tweets and other updates.

But if you want to incorporate all the background history it still suggests some form of RSS-updated timeline to me.

The phonehacking and police payments stories will run and run, as they say. Let's hope we see some more interesting visualisations.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

News of the World phonehacking - Downfall-style

Downfall, the film depicting the last days in Hitler's bunker, has been mashed-up and put to all manner of uses in the past. But perhaps never has it been used more appropriately.

Great scenes include the one where Hitler/Murdoch suggests that Brooks should go freelance and maybe give blogging a go. Even he has a blog it seems...

Thanks to @jonathan haynes @fieldproducer and @SamiraAhmedUK for tweeting it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Jon Slattery: Matt sums up tarnished image of UK journalists

Matt sums up tarnished image of UK journalists: "The brilliant Matt Pritchett in the Telegraph today sums up the damage caused to the image of UK newspaper journalists..."