Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Can this byline in The Times be real?

Thanks to Cornwall and Devon editor Andy Cooper for alerting me to this byline. Andy says: "You would have thought The Times’ newsdesk might have thought twice about assigning this particular reporter to this story." Good point. Could be an incredible coincidence ... or it could be a rogue sub at large?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Ten thoughts about last night's Press Awards

Walter Greenwood accepts the Journalists' Charity Special Award from Amy Williams and John Humphrys

i) The Telegraph and Will Lewis deserve all they got. Clearest winners for years.
ii) The red tops should get a better deal - particularly in sport.
iii) Walter Greenwood has saved a lot of journalists' skins and made an understated contribution to the industry. A thoroughly deserved award.
iv) In another year Jacqui Smith putting adult films on expenses would have walked away with Scoop of the Year.
v) Nick Ferrari should have been on stage instead of sipping (he had a 6am show in the morning) white wine on the judges' table.
vi) Boris Johnson should be a full-time comedian ... perhaps he is. Listen to his speech. 
vii) What no women? Speakers included many middle-aged men ... Bob Satchwell, Chris Boffey, Boris Johnson, Dominic Ponsford, John Humphrys ... but  only two non-journalist women cameos. Lady Cudlipp and Olympic slider Amy Williams.
viii) Double blow for Andrew Rawnsley ... didn't win and his name was spelt wrong in the programme. Ransle?
ix) Had the best table mates I could have wished for. Two women ex-editors (how rare are they?), Eve Pollard and Anita Syvret. Also David Banks, ex-Mirror editor, who is good craic and a generous man. Four bottles of wine at the end of the night ... £170. I owe him.
x) Enjoyable night, well done to all. A good show. Makes me even more depressed that the regional awards have been shelved.

Full list of winners

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Revenue ideas for newspapers

Twenty years ago businesses spent 70 per cent of their marketing budget on advertising. Now it's down to 30 per cent and falling. Bad news for those who rely on selling advertising space for their revenue - including newspapers. But are there other ways to bring in the cash? That was the question the editor of InPublishing asked, when he commissioned to me to write a piece on 'radical revenue ideas for newspapers.' I spoke to MDs, editors, advertising guru Jim Chisholm and Will Lewis, who has been charged with driving new revenue streams at the Telegraph. Not sure there is really too much that is radical out there but it is clear that national newspapers in particular are working hard to find new ways to chase the money. These were some that emerged:
The Telegraph sells everything from shoes to holidays.
Commission-based partnerships
Loans, savings accounts and investment advice is reputed to have netted the Telegraph £1m per year in commission.
Marketing solutions
70% of marketing spend is on PR, campaigns, direct marketing, online etc. Local newspapers should offer marketing strategy services to every business on their patch.
Everyone from Tindle to Murdoch is giving it a go.
Online gambling
Sun's online bingo is UK's biggest. Mort Zuckerman reckons online gambling could save every US newspaper.
The Guardian's iPhone app sold 70,000 at £2.39 (£167,000) in first month.
Selling archives
Newspapers can charge for search passes and downloads, sell images, produce books and much more.
Suntalk is broadcast in Spain. Trinity and CN bidding for funding to provide regional TV programmes.
Courses and events
US newspapers run everything from exhibitions to gourmet evenings.
Public funding
Government is funding Independently Funded News Consortia. There may be more.
Community funding
Website models where community pays for investigations.
Selling customer data to third parties can be lucrative.

The full article in on the InPublishing Knowledge Bank or you can download it from SMS articles.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Patrick Lavelle: astonishing instinct for news

I am saddened and a little stunned to learn of the death of journalist Patrick Lavelle today. I remember Patrick turning up to an interview for a trainee's job at The Northern Echo in the mid-80s and being bowled over by his determination. He had a young family and a day job but had put himself through nightschool to get the qualifications. He came armed with cracking story ideas and an astonishing instinct for news. He was sporting an earring and one of the editors asked if he would remove it if he landed the job. Despite having worked long and hard to get this far, Patrick said the earring was special to him so he wouldn't. It was typical of his stubborn nature, his values and his refusal to be brow-beaten by anyone. It probably cost him the job, but it did his long-term career no harm at all. Years later I offered him the position of a reporter in Sunderland and asked him where the earring had gone. "I've learnt a lot in the last few years," he said. And he had. He became a tenacious reporter, winning the region's top award for investigative journalism three times. He was also a news-editor for the Sunderland Echo, a lecturer at Sunderland University and is probably most famous for his relentless pursuit of Wearside Jack, the hoax Yorkshire Ripper. He was also an author, a film maker, businessman and a politician. He founded the Sunderland First political group to challenge the failings of party politics, and planned to field candidates in this year's General Election. 
I last saw him on a photography course, still with that appetite to learn new skills, still challenging everything, still with a great love for journalism and for life. Patrick died of cancer this morning. He was 50. A great journalist; a great loss.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

iPad is just an embryo

Just as we were getting all excited about the iPad (SMS, March 13) here are some more down-to-earth views on its impact on print in this video by the Association of Online Publishers. The key years, they say, will be 2012 - 2013. I guess we all understand that this is just another sexy milestone along the road to who knows where. Won't stop me getting my order in for next month though. 

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

April 1st already?

Is this the earliest April Fool ever by a local newspaper? The Halesowen News report that a Jessica Rabbit lookalike is looking for a man to carry her giant rabbit around the world - for a salary of £70,000 a year - looks too good to be true. But the revelation that the job will be awarded in 'an X-Factor style audition on Thursday April 1' suggests this may be a joke. If it is genuine it is a cracking tale (and job) if it is an April Fool joke it is fairly elaborate. And, published on March 10th, it has got to be a first.

Angry residents in angry pictures anger

This site really made me chuckle - a celebration of local newspaper photography Read the captions. Very funny.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Top 100 typefaces

Thanks to Times of Malta journalist Veronica Stivala for sending this periodic table for typography. The fonts are ranked in popularity from 1-100, plus names of designers, date of origination and family. No prizes for guessing what is No 1.

Print on the iPad certainly has the WOW factor

Apple has now said the iPad should be over here by the end of April. The rumoured price is £499. Exciting times ... but what will it really mean for journalists? A lot more work? Another platform that they will need to learn? It will be particularly interesting to see how the regionals respond. As Peter Preston said in The Observer: "This isn't a revolution, let alone salvation. And it will surely be more diffused – and costly – as competition ploughs along the same road." Nevertheless, it is a huge step on way to the genuinely portable newspaper. Take a look at these five iPad examples collated by The Guardian. We are particularly impressed by Sports Illustrated. Can't wait.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Building vivid pictures in the reader's mind ...

... is one of the skills of the headline writer. This one - Man 'chopped his virgin wife's head off because she refused to have children' - from the Mail certainly delivers. 

Book now for free online design seminar

I am delivering a 20-minute seminar, called How To Redesign a Newspaper, live on the web later this month. I will go through the designer's checklist, identify pitfalls, show examples and take questions. The seminar is the first of a series of training masterclasses using new Livestream technology to be offered by Press Association Training. It will be live on the web at 1pm on Friday March 19. You can watch the seminar from your office or even from home. It is free but places are restricted to 50. If you would like to book a place contact Head of Press Association Training, Tony Johnston, on tony.johnston@pressassociation.com for details.

Where now for Regional Press Awards?

The great and the good of national newspaper journalism will be applauded at a glitzy dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel later this month. It will be a celebration of a vintage year for British journalism. But for their regional cousins there will not even be a beer and bowl of peanuts in the backroom of the Cheshire Cheese. After 22 years the Regional Press Awards have been "rested" - a decision that indicates the gulf that appears to be growing between national and regional papers.
I had been optimistic that the awards would go ahead. The early signs were good with one of the big groups, who had not entered last year, saying that things had eased up and they would be back in the fold. But last week others said that, given the economic circumstances, their papers would not be taking part. Their absence would have made the awards a nonsense, so organisers Wilmington had no choice but to call the whole thing off.
I am sure I am not alone in being saddened by the decision. For the last four years I have been chairman of the judges in the awards. Fifty independent judges, me included, give their services for no reward other than knowing they are supporting  the industry they have grown up in.
Editors support the awards too. But when you are cutting staff, how can you justify sipping over-priced champagne in a swanky London hotel? It seems the combined cost of a £35 entry fee and a £130 ticket to the event were just too prohibitive. 
I know that some newspaper managements also believe the awards are a distraction, a bit of irrelevant back-slapping and that they have no tangible benefits. I don't agree. The regional Press has now become the only branch of the media not to have its own national awards. Ask those in film, television, magazines, national newspapers or any other creative industry if they feel their awards are an irrelevance. Apart from anything else the awards send out a message, both internally and externally, of an industry confident in itself. Their cancellation has already allowed commentators to refer to "a sad reflection of the parlous state of the sector" and to observe that the decision should "restore some gloom". 
If the regional Press doesn't celebrate the excellence that runs through its newspapers, applaud the journalists who go that extra yard every day, recognise the editors who invest in off-diary work and innovation … then who will?  I am particularly uncomfortable with the suggestion that we just applaud excellence during the good times. Those who work hard to maintain standards when the going gets tough deserve to be honoured.
So what next? Maybe the answer is to scale the event down, hold it online, combine the regional and national awards (as they used to be) or something else altogether. What must not happen is for them to disappear altogether. There will now be discussions on what can be done to ensure that the awards are resurrected next year. If you have any suggestions let me have them and I will ensure they get heard.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Unnecessary word of the week

Surplus words are hardly rare these days but 'eurosceptic' in this article on Yahoo News, spotted by David Kernek, is certainly worth a mention.
Nigel Farage, a eurosceptic member of the UK Independence Party, verbally savaged Herman Van Rompuy in a parliamentary debate last week, saying the former Belgian prime minister was from a "non-country" and had the "charisma of a damp rag."
Those who have been on our subbing courses know we regularly have a rant about words dropped into copy thoughtlessly. Particular examples include:
A number of cars were damaged. This is a range from one car to as many as there are on the planet. Cars were damaged is three words shorter and, as a plural, more accurate.
Police are currently investigating. The use of the present tense tells us that it is current.
Passing phase. A phase is by definition passing. These meaningless modifiers, such as unexpected surprise, free gift, past experience, appear to be growing in popularity among would-be feature writers.
Company creates new 60 jobs. The Daily Mail's guide for subs has its own take on this: "You should all know by now that there is no such thing as a new report, a new study or new research. It is also crass to refer to a 'premiere of a new film'. The word new should rarely appear in a newspaper."
The Mail guide also has a nice rant about stating the obvious: "In intros concerning household names, never write phrases such as ‘footballer Wayne Rooney’ or ‘supermarket giant Tesco’. Subsequent pars present an ideal opportunity to say  ‘the Manchester United player’ or ‘Britain’s biggest supermarket chain’ so as not to embarrass any readers who have spent the last 15 years on the planet Zog."
And finally from a court report from a London weekly about the murder of two (sic) twins who suffered from 'everyday alcoholism'. The killer used shopping trolleys to dump their bodies in the Regent's Canal, where they lay undiscovered for a month.
Undiscovered? What a terrific story it would be if they weren't. 

RELATED PHOTOS / VIDEONigel Farage, a eurosceptic member of the UK Independence Party, verbally savaged Herman Van Rompuy in a parliamentary debate last week, saying the former Belgian prime minister was from a "non-country" and had the "charisma of a damp rag."

We take the point

Grateful to colleague Andy Drinkwater for sending us this Dilbert cartoon to remind us of the perils of Powerpoint. No need though - we saw the very funny How not to use Powerpoint a long time ago and it taught us everything we need to know.