Thursday 27 November 2014, 14:02
From left: Ruth Barnett, Tom Price, Rory Cellan-Jones, Murad Ahmed, Olivia Solon These are heady times for technology journalists. Facebook and Google are in the headlines almost daily. You can write about privacy and social change, not just geeky stuff that most people can’t be bothered with. And there are hundreds of smaller tech businesses sucking up to you, hoping for a mention.
That was the background to last night’s Media Society discussion about how the media covers technology. It offered a glimpse behind the scenes into the lives of tech journalists - exploring in particular, their sometimes fraught relationships with tech PR and Communications people.
On the PR side, Tom Price, Head of UK and Ireland Communications for Google UK, said that his idea of a good day was to be able to spend 100 per cent of his time on proactive PR - taking stories to the media -, and none on reactive.
But even when he found himself in a confrontational encounter with a journalist, it didn’t have to be bruising: “the best journalists are always polite.” He tries to remind himself that when journalists disagree with his position, it doesn't necessarily mean they don’t understand:...
Friday 21 November 2014, 16:44Ed Bussey, founder and CEO, Quill There was a time when journalists wrote stories and video producers made films. As mobile devices gain more and more attention and newsprint and TV sets get less, journalistic output has morphed into ‘content’ – the stuff which keeps ads from bumping into each other.
While traditional media companies often struggle to make money in the mobile, online world, it may not be all bad news for the artists formerly known as reporters and film-makers. In fact there's a new way to earn a crust by generating content, thanks to something called content marketing.
I met serial entrepreneur Ed Bussey to learn about his London-based business Quill, which commissions content from freelance writers, film-makers and photographers and sells it to companies which want to communicate with their customers outside the confines of advertising.
So why should a company pay for content instead of just placing ads around traditional editorial offerings? Well, Bussey’s believed in the value of content since he joined a start-up 10 years ago. Figleaves.com sold clothes and competed with traditional retailers by offering more products than any high-street shop could...
Wednesday 19 November 2014, 09:35
Mark Frankel reporting in Beirut
I was told to try lots of things and "fail often". I always suggest to other journalists it's best to keep experimenting when using social media, so this was music to my ears.
My task was to help BBC News report on the humanitarian crisis of the Syrian conflict as part of a two-day focus on the country and its people, millions of whom have become refugees both inside Syria and across neighbouring countries. I was to ‘extol the virtues’ of using social media to staff who were sent to work for TV and radio, and to enhance our digital footprint on the story by collecting my own material for use online and across our BBC News social media accounts.
As most of my colleagues headed out of Beirut to refugee camps to the north and south, I decided to stay in and around Beirut with a trusty fixer to help with translation and navigating the notorious Beirut traffic.
I’d travelled to Lebanon with an iPhone, a microphone and a laptop. I would try and restrict myself to using nothing else. Having completed Marc Settle's excellent College of Journalism course and refreshed my knowledge via the College site, I set about deleting lots of content from my...
Tuesday 18 November 2014, 10:53
It’s one minute and six seconds of shaky video footage, apparently documenting yet another moment of violent drama in the Syrian war.
The video, whose original posting on YouTube has now been removed, is titled “SYRIA! SYRIAN HERO BOY rescue girl in shootout” - in Arabic “Syrian hero boy”. It rapidly spread through social media, starting on Monday 10 November.
At first sight it contains many of the hallmarks we’ve come to expect in these visceral snapshots of the conflict: the grainy, washed-out picture; the roughly constructed buildings; the rubble and rubbish of war spread around...
Friday 14 November 2014, 11:51
Nigel Farage in a pub, May 2014 In TV bulletins, which remain the most influential source of news, regulators have long been concerned with policing politicians’ sound bites. Indeed, during election campaigns the amount of airtime politicians receive is carefully monitored and political parties even stop-watch coverage to check for balance. However, research has shown the length of political sound bites has steadily shrunk over many decades. Instead, today journalists speak and appear on-screen for longer.
As a result, it is now journalists who are more often put under the spotlight for...
Wednesday 12 November 2014, 17:03
President Putin with veterans in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, May 2014 Russian state TV's virulent anti-Ukrainian propaganda has clearly been a part of the Kremlin's campaign to destabilise its pro-Western neighbour. But some commentators have suggested that the unremitting and sensationalist coverage of the conflict may be driven as much by ratings as reasons of state. Viewing figures suggest they may have a point.
An article in Russian heavyweight broadsheet Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 15 October claimed to have detected a toning down of state TV's onslaught against Ukraine. It noted that...
Monday 10 November 2014, 14:59
Every general election is billed as ‘the most important for a generation’, or some such nonsense. And the result of every election seems utterly inevitable in retrospect but not quite so obvious before the polls have closed.
I’d like to claim that this time it really is different.
The word is that the Civil Service is preparing itself for a dizzy collection of possible outcomes: Conservative majority government, Conservative minority, Conservative-led coalition - and the equivalents for Labour.
So why is it so complicated this time? Well, partly because any conceivable outcome will...
Thursday 6 November 2014, 12:00
Ken Brown's pictures on the BBC website These images tell the story of how the Virgin Galactic test flight crash was seen by an eyewitness, Ken Brown.
This is an account of how I found him and got him on to the BBC News Channel by 21:15 GMT, then BBC Radio 5 live and BBC World TV.
Which meant a hunt request for eyewitnesses was put my way.
So, scouring Twitter, I can find Doug Messier tweeting from @spacecom
I check how his tweets are geo-locating using one of the sites we use (Geofeedia), which puts him at the Mojave Space Port.
So I made a fairly standard approach that every news...
Tuesday 4 November 2014, 12:01
This week the world has turned a spotlight on journalists. Not for the stories they break every day, but for the rising death toll among those who risk their lives to get the story out.
The United Nations says more than 700 journalists have died in the past 10 years because of their work, making this the deadliest decade ever for journalists and other media workers.
Unesco, which faithfully documents and records each of those fatalities, says more than 70 journalists have been killed this year alone.
Now the UN has mobilised an unprecedented campaign to stop the killing.
Last Sunday, 2 November...
Friday 31 October 2014, 10:42Carol Kirkwood demonstrates the app The BBC’s weather app is fast approaching its nine millionth download, making it the BBC’s fastest growing app ever, as well as the most regularly used. We asked Robin Pembrooke, head of product, BBC News and Weather Online, why it’s been such a success. He says it’s down to three factors:
1. Clarity and simplicity
Users of the Weather app love its simplicity. It does one thing beautifully: telling you what the weather is going to be where you are right now and over the days ahead.
The design, by our in-house designers, played to the strengths of the...