Tagged: The Guardian

Its not about citizens becoming journalists – but journalists becoming citizens

Today The Times launched its new online edition, which it will effectively be closing again late June when it starts to ask people to pay for it.  Times editor, James Harding, was interviewed this morning on the Today programme desperately trying to justify how initiatives such as this represented the salvation of journalism and reporting.

Laying aside the nature of the journalism and reporting that such an initiative is expected to preserve and also the arrogance in many of the assertions that Harding made that essentially implied that news just can’t happen unless some bloke with a notebook is there to ‘make sense of it’, there is a huge flaw in the thinking that upon which the whole paid-for content approach is based.  This flaw is the unquestioned assumption that journalism and journalist are one and the same.  Or to put it another way, the only way that journalism can be achieved is through the institutional structures of one-to-many mass media. Continue reading

Content is now a raw material, not a finished product (not even a special Guardian Extra product)

The Guardian has made an entry into the paid-for content space.  Called Extra it is, as the name suggested, the on-line Guardian with a little bit extra, for which you will be expected to part with £25 annually.  It is interesting and innovative, as one might expect from the Guardian – but it won’t work as a model for how what we currently call a newspaper (even an on-line, multimedia newspaper) can operate in the social media world.

The reason for this is that its ethos and economic model is still fundamentally rooted in Gutenberg economics.  It is still all about producing content – but in a way that doffs its cap to what editor Alan Rusbridger calls web2.0 by in his words “involving the readers in what we do“.

Clang!  What “we” do is not what it is about anymore.  In the social media world, content is not a finished product it is only a raw material.  The “reader” as some still might like to call them, is the only person responsible for a finished product.  It is therefore not a case of “involving the readers in what we do” – it works the other way round. The Guardian needs to create the permission to be involved in what the readers do. Continue reading

Shock new Telephone users poll from Prospect magazine

Here is a news release from Prospect magazine


Often seen as little more than a harmless waste of time, the much-hyped Telphone is increasingly being used as a tool by liberal and left-wing political campaigners. Telephone users are among the most liberal groups in Britain, a new national poll of 2000+ people by Prospect magazine and pollsters YouGov reveals.

The poll tested Britain’s 5.5m Telephone users and compared them to the rest of the country — revealing that British Telephoners actually have a strongly liberal and civil libertarian bias. This is in contrast to the popular view that David Cameron’s Conservatives and their pamphleting supporters are the most adept online force in politics.

The poll shows that while 57 per cent of Britons think greater police powers to tackle terrorism are more important than protecting civil liberties, less than half of Telephone users agree. Fifty-six per cent of the public agree that “the greatest victims of discrimination in Britain these days are often ordinary white men,” compared to only 45 per cent of Telephone users.

Etc Etc…

OK – you may have spotted this is not quite the release Prospect issued.  It was, of course, about Twitter.  And it was recycled by The Guardian and others.

The point is – when are clunky old journos  going to realise:

Twitter is not a web site.

Twitter is not a form of media.

Twitter is not a form of content.

Twitter is just an infrastructure – like the Telephone.  The demographics of its initial adoption carry zero significance – in the same way as the fact that early adopting of the ‘phone took place within a limited segment of the population bore no significance to the role of the Telephone once it became established in every household and on every desk.

When the Telephone first came along people made the same mistake Prospect is now making.  Everyone, including the ‘phone companies, assumed its was a form of content.  Phone companies even tried to determine what type of content was appropriate.  Funnily enough, they actively discouraged people using it for conversation.

Lets learn a little bit from history.

#trafigura – catch it while you can

You may well know about the case last week of The Guardian versus oil trader Trafigura.  The Guardian has been running a campaign against Trafigura concerning dumping toxic waste in west Africa.  Trafigura has been very active in using legal means to prevent information about this spreading – including obtaining an injunction preventing The Guardian from reporting a question rasied on the issue in Parliament.  However, the information leaked / spread via social media, Twitter in particular, and the injunction was lifted.

My point is that this little piece of history  – i.e. the visibility of the #trafigura tag on which most of the action took place – will only last for a couple of weeks and then it will be gone.  This is because Twitter only keeps content in tags visible for this period.  I think this is a serious problem – see Twitter is making then destroying history.