October 13, 2009

I’ve not been blogging. Twitter stole me away. Microblogging was so much easier. Quicker, more responsive. But then even my tweeting started to slip, and suddenly I wasn’t blogging at all. Not on. So I’m giving myself a kick, and making a conscious effort to get my tweeting back on track.  

As for this blog, I’ve got something different planned. It was originally a ‘newsroom blog’, but as it was just me writing bits and bobs about my job, I rebranded it a ‘digital newsroom blog’. But this just isn’t working. So another rebranding is in order, and this time it will work. Oh yes. It’s no longer going to rely on my own contributions, I’m going to rope everyone in this newsroom into it.

If all goes to plan, as from tomorrow this will be a fully functioning, lively, regularly updated newsroom blog. We’re going at this with all we’ve got. You’ll see.

Bye for now…


Proof of life

March 30, 2009

Thanks to a new Twitter widget from WordPress, you can now see my tweets on the right hand of the page. This is useful, because whereas I only post to this blog sporadically, I do tweet quite a lot at the moment. So it’s proof that I do use at least some social media properly.

Checking in…

February 3, 2009

Long time, no post (again). So, again, let’s round up what’s been going on with the site.

Blogs: We’ve added a good new blogger, local Stags fan Craig Priest, to our already bulging roster of bloggers. A few of them (me included), need a bit of a kick into action occasionally, and there’s something still very half-finished about the whole operation. I need to revisit it and spruce it all up again.

Podcasts: We have produced 7 episodes of our magazine-style Sports Talk show. It’s excellent, but we’ve still not found a regular audience for it. We’re having a break to get some new ideas for it, but it’s a good show so deserves a bit more time to grow. Stags Talk, of course, still thrives. And is now sponsored!

Twitter: Twitter seems to be on the verge of going mainstream (Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, Russell Brand are all on there now – that should do it), while it’s already fairly firmly established as the journalistic networking tool du jour. I’m on there with a work profile, and the Chad also sends out headlines on there too. Are you on there. Do you want to be? Feel free to ask me for help if you want some on getting set up. There aren’t many Notts folk on there at the moment, we need more. I’m a relative ‘newbie’ myself (I have my own profile there and am trying to get into the habit of using it), but I’ll help if I can. 

However, there is a bit of an issue with Twitter, and blogging for that matter, which I’ve still not resolved. I am torn between two worlds. One is the ‘world’ of Mansfield, and one is the world of journalism.

You see, there is a burgeoning network of journalists across the country constantly interacting with each other via their blogs, and now Twitter (which is essentially a microblog). The main topic of conversation seems to be journalism itself – how to use the latest tools/toys; the state of the industry; general idle banter. It’s something I can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore. It’s an ongoing conversation about where journalism is going, and it’s one I want to be a part of. Sadly, I often don’t feel like I’ve got that much to say.

This is because these amazing new tools of journalism just don’t seem to be as relevant to the smaller papers as they are to the city/national journalists. I’m on Twitter! Great! So are about 12 other people in the whole of Mansfield. Compare this to our 3,200 Facebook friends. I can try to use Twitter as journalistic tool (as I am doing), but its main benefit seems to remain as a networking device. Maybe this is about to change – like I already said, Twitter does appear to be about to explode into the public consciousness.

But fun as it all is, there is still the overwhelming feeling that I’m still more likely to find a great story in a Mansfield pub than I am by sitting in front of my computer screen updating my Twitter feed (not that I actually do any reporting myself anymore – which may also be part of the problem, but let’s not get into that now).

As journalism enters what appears to be a phase of rapid transformation, it will be interesting to see if what works for the dailies is as relevant to the weeklies as everyone seems to be assuming. I hope it is – it looks like fun.

While we wait to see, find me on Twitter and say hello.

More room to manoeuvre

November 21, 2008

Here at the Chad, we’ve been working hard on improving our video reports, and trying to build an audience for them, but for some time now a Big Black Cloud has been hanging over our heads. And no, those capitals aren’t a mistake.

The BBC has been considering proposals to expand its online video coverage with a £68m network of 60 more localised websites (would this include a BBC Mansfield website?), and it has been hard not to see this as a direct threat to the success of sites such as our own. With the corporation’s unrivalled expertise and experience, their video reports and websites would blow our own still relatively amateur attempts out of the water. We need more room to breathe, and for our newsrooms to get truly comfortable with cross-platform publishing.

Thankfully, it seems the BBC Trust agrees. They are giving us some room to manoeuvre. What’s important now is that we (local newspaper websites) make the most of it.

My ‘has been done’ list

November 13, 2008
Ah, the hectic life of a journalist.

Photo by Liz Henry

My ‘has been done’ list is considerably shorter than my ‘to do’ list, but nonetheless here’s a quick roundup of what’s new on

  • BLOGS! Believe it or not, we now have eight regularly updated blogs – and a ninth will soon be added. So far we have blogs on books, technology, film, sport, food, Mansfield Town FC, Ashfield news . . . along with this here humble blog.
  • PODCAST! Our second regular podcast, Sports Talk, is gathering momentum. It’s not technically a podcast yet because I’ve not got around to all the xml/iTunes admin, but watch this space. We published our second episode yesterday and we feel we’re really hitting our stride now.
  • SPORT! You can watch Premier League Highlights on our website now. Yum.
  • VIDEO! Do you know the names of all your local political leaders? The good people of Mansfield have some brushing up to do . . . 

The great embedded video adventure

November 4, 2008

Anyone who regularly watches videos on our website, or any other Johnston Press website, will know that we don’t have embedded video on our news pages. Well, now, we do.

It’s a short-term solution, but I’ve found a way to embed a YouTube player into a news article. I’m hoping it will make it easier to watch our video content, as a number of people have told me they’ve had trouble with our pop-up windows media player.

There are a number of drawbacks, which I won’t bore you with. In short, I think it’s an improvement, but, please, judge for yourselves.

A valuable lesson

October 24, 2008

Anyone who’s in the habit of documenting their entire life on Facebook should perhaps take heed from this amusing exchange between a skiving Australian call centre worker and his boss. Have a good weekend!

My first video package

October 21, 2008

Regularly, we send our loyal, hard-working reporters out to conduct video interviews and piece together video packages, sometimes all on their own.

They return, sweating and shaky, clasping the mini-DV tape in their hands like a Shankara stone. We pop it into the tape deck and look at what they’ve filmed. And then I start criticising. I find fault with everything I can, from framing, to sound quality, to interview technique. Once they’ve edited the piece, I cast my critical eye over their edit. Anyone would think I’m some kind of video Jedi, from all the pearls of wisdom that spill out of my mouth.

But in fact, in the past year I’ve not once put together my own package from start to finish. I’ve helped others see theirs through, but never gone through the whole process on my own, unaided. This makes me a big fat hypocrite. Surely I should be leading from the front?

In my defence, I’m not too harsh a taskmaster, and I think everyone’s coming on pretty well with video given the limited amount of time we have at our disposal. But in order to understand how much of an ask it is to get someone to plan, film and edit a video news package on their own, I really needed to do it myself.

So I did, today.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll run through a few things I learnt from this little ‘refresher’. In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you think.

Mobile video Pegg

October 20, 2008

Another Shozu test, this time with a brief and useless piece of video, for demonstration purposes also. Isn’t technology great?

Posted by ShoZu


UPDATE: Well, it’s not embedded, and as far as I can tell there’s no way to change this. No matter.

Mobile Pegg

October 20, 2008

Thanks to a tip from the always-useful Online Journalism blog, I’ve downloaded the Shozu application onto my phone, which allows me to update online accounts such as this here blog using my humble mobile phone (a Nokia N82). Now I just need a bluetooth keyboard, and then you’ll never hear the end of me. I’ve also tried posting a photo I took a while ago of a knackered old Morris Minor (I think that’s what it is). Let’s see what happens!

Posted by ShoZu