Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Could non-stories be the saviour of newspapers?

This non-story from the Salisbury Journal has been doing the rounds with indignant journalists gleefully - and with some justification - covering it in scorn. Even Dara O'Briain Tweeted the tale. But as the Journal points out, 130,000 people logged on to the story on Monday. Indeed the Journal wonders whether the tale breaks the record for page impressions per word anywhere on the web. And in this upside down world where media companies are obsessed by hits on the website and driving digital audiences, there is method in the Journal's madness. It will be the bizarre, the offbeat, the mistakes, the funnies and the downright bad that will get the biggest followings. We might have to write it into our training courses for young journalists - bring in at least one non-story a day. And it is definitely catching on. Here's a shocking story about a woman who couldn't find any custard powder in her local shops and another from last year on the Kidderminster mattress drama. If you have any non-stories to match them, please share. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Clever ads worth a look

Talking of innovation in advertising (see the Telegraph item below), these arresting ads are worth a look. What no yellow star bursts, white on black text, rounded corners and badly spaced Helvetica? 

Doing the Telegraph wrap

The Telegraph - in the vanguard of radical revenue ideas - came up with this today. Advertising wraparounds used to be just about tolerated in free newspapers. Now our premier national broadsheet carries a wraparound for HSBC on heavy translucent paper. Astonishing. The HSBC competition, the subject of the wraparound, is also endorsed by editorial. A brave step forward in editorial commercial co-operation or a fudging of integrity? Thoughts? 

Friday, 23 April 2010

Stunning picture essay on Iceland's volcano

It may have caused chaos and started a political row (and scores of dodgy jokes) but Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano is mostly a spectacular natural phenomenon. Take a look at this picture collection from the Boston Globe and be amazed.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hands off the amateur comedians

There is a desperate and ill-fated campaign by the NUJ in Scotland to 'kick the amateurs into touch'. It wants only bona-fide hacks to cover sports events. So no more reports from sports writer of the year Mike Atherton then? Worse, imagine a sports world that had no magic moments like this or even this from Chris Kamara on Sky's Soccer Saturday. God forbid. 

Friday, 16 April 2010

Make mine half a shandy - for now

There is much excitement today with signs that newspapers' fortunes are turning the corner, mainly as a result of Gannett (owners of Newsquest) recording a massive 51% leap in profits for the first quarter. The Business Wire pulls no punches in its interpretation of what this means: Newspapers Rejoice! Gannett Smashes The Street With Profits Up 51%. Wow! Editor & Publisher is more considered but also very positive. More Evidence of Newspaper Turnaround: Gannett Doubles Q1 Profit as Revenue Decline Moderates. It is certainly better than expected and hopefully will ease some of the pressure on our colleagues in Darlington, Brighton, York, Bradford et al. But it is perhaps too early to crack open the Dom Perignon. Profits up 51% while advertising revenue is down year on year 8.5% tells us an awful lot. Half a shandy and hair shirts for a while longer I fear.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

MPs in glasshouses ...

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, would certainly get my vote if her election leaflet is true. I've always been against those greenhouses ... clogging up people's gardens, getting in the way of footballs, giving fathers an excuse not to play with their children. Ban them all. Could be a vote winner.

The iPad and Tracy Island - same old ploy

Christmas 1992: My kids and the rare Tracy Island. Now where's my iPad lads?

Arggh! The iPad is delayed by a further month - until the end of May. Apple says it is because it can't keep up with the mad rush but I wonder if this is just that old marketing tactic - create the illusion of scarcity and accelerate demand. As a father-of-four I have been through this most Christmases - from Tracy Island, through to the Furby and on to the Wii. I am sure there were many others. What's the betting pre-orders, being taken from May 10, will now soar? Note to kids (and wife), having done my bit to search high and low to deliver Tracy Island etc, thought I would point out that the new pre-order date is just in time for my birthday.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A masterclass in feature-writing

A scan through the Pulitzer Prize winners shows that American newspaper journalism is alive and kicking. But there is none better than Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a child in the backseat of a car is a horrifying mistake. Is it a crime? by Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post who won the feature-writing award. It's a piece that should be studied by all budding feature-writers for its structure, tone, pace and eye for detail. A harrowing story, dealt with beautifully. 
Footnote: As we continue to look at ways to resurrect the Regional Press Awards this year, where the winners traditionally receive a small trophy, it is interesting to note that the Pulitzer winners, all 22 of them, win $10,000.  

Monday, 12 April 2010

Court jester

I wouldn't normally draw attention to the seedy story of a man having sex with a donkey and a horse in today's Daily Mirror. But I was intrigued by the defence counsel's comments when applying for bail: "The defendant does not have a stable address." Under the circumstances, probably a good thing.


Friday, 2 April 2010

IPad - early feedback from the US

The iPad launches in the US tomorrow - and it seems it isn't all hype. All good reviews so far. Here's the Mail and Telegraph's selection of early feedback from the US. It's due here at the end of the month.