Archive for the ‘’ Category

“Square acquired by Visa” – Will Secret, Whisper influence the news?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Woke up this morning to this:
John Wilshire Square bought by Visa

How can you trust a system that allows any rumour, lie or planned defamation to be published? Well, American laws for one. It’s a hot startup and has millionaire backers for two. Plenty of startups that do very dodgy things are left unchecked for a while in case there’s a chance they make money and others can profit from it. Ireland would knock and attack an idea like this, bludgeon it with negativity until we kill it. The American way is to encourage success so you can come in later and try and get a cut too.

Valleywag loves Secret. And some really good information has been leaked out through the app. And crazy fun stuff too. It was a Secret post that eventually unraveled the toxic truth behind how Github operated in such an anti-woman brogrammer way.

And the Evernote acquisition rumour was so far untrue. If you read this hilarious Tumblr, most of the rumours are untrue. Yet every now and then… Something like this too would be a perfect hoax, it’s well known that Square is trying to sell itself and is failing to do that. Visa is already and investor and of course the Square founder is already well known for running Twitter. Hoaxes have to have reality as a base.

For hunting stories though, tiny bits of information, rumours that are mostly untrue but with a tiny amount of truth are things you can use to chip away at a story. A lot of investigative type stories are almost negotiations or trades. Approach a source with a little bit of information, see will they give you a tiny bit more when you offer than tiny slice of truth. Take that, move on, uncover more with that and chip away even more until eventually you have a solid foundation for a story and then are confident to approach the main sources you can use/you want for your story.

An hour after the Twitter chatter, nothing has happened to that Square piece. An hour with a rumour or bit of information is a long time in media and a very long time in tech media. But the Paltrow/Martin marriage on the rocks rumour was weeks on Whisper before the conscious uncoupling became a reality. Nieman Labs even goes through the use of apps like these for journalism. Journalism with a small j, mind. Buzzfeed has even inked a content deal with Whisper. Well it certainly won’t be old-skool media would would find that distasteful and would take two years to come to that decision too.

Media in your timeline – The GIF Economy

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Media Producers, you need to up your multimedia game.

It’s amazing to see the GIF have a resurgence in the past few years, with the past 18 months especially interesting.

Some media producers are adapting and adopting it, most have no clue of the value of short multimedia content.

Twitter’s Vine video app, where you create six second videos uses the GI format. I notice that GMail is now supporting GIFs in emails. When I get emails now from General Assembly, their images can be animated:
General Assembly email

This multimedia piece on the Silk Road via train from the New York Times is beautiful, useful and it’s going to be very hard for the likes of the Huffington Post or BuzzFeed to rip that off. Note the use of large images, a subtle background and 15 second video/gifs to share information. Look at the way the photos have a line going to the map that moves as you scroll. Wow.

And why GIFs and short videos now? Tumblr is certainly a reason, this talk from SXSW suggests so. Them, IMGur and Reddit were the driving forces and I guess it became apparent that even a short GIF is dense with information. It’s all in the game yo or all about the uninterrupted timeline yo. Our lives are revolving around timelines. The Twitter timeline/feed, the Facebook timeline.

We spend more time in the timeline and less time elsewhere. This journey through constant hits of information seems to mean we don’t want to be pulled away from it for too long. Continuous partial attention. Not sure how well researched the six second video length from Vine is but it works very well. Short enough to not distract me from the work of scrolling down, long enough to add a lot of rich context that conditions me to know this format is worth looking at again.

Richer data please
When time is precious, we want richer data. As in the education/learning industry, text can work to pass on information but sights, sounds and text allows us to learn faster as we can process more data. Text is good, text with images is better, text, images and sound is better again. Video is better than images alone. Vine shows this and now Instagram video. We all know changing the angle in a photo can change the message entirely because we only have so much context. A very short video is immensely better than a photo of the same thing.

Vines are 6 seconds, Instagrams are 15 seconds. Vines auto-play and loop. Instagram videos are rumoured to auto-play in Facebook timelines soon and oh, how funny, Facebook will be unveiling a new 15 second video ad format that auto-plays in a timeline. Slide 12 and slide 18 from Mary Meeker’s state of the net slidedeck shows the surge in video consumption and production. Vine is doing well too.

Consider how much text is needed to explain this 5 second video?

Tying shoes

So videos are best? Well, maybe not. We don’t have the time for long videos if the game is shorty snappy bursts of information. It’s suggested that your marketing or otherwise video needs to be short to maintain attention. I think Twitter and Facebook has distorted this and pushed this way down. Quick, rich data please. Vine is being used a lot now.

We’ve moved from text and a few photos to videos, away from videos to infographics, to short videos and GIFs. People might be really put off a timeline in Facebook or Twitter that looks like Lings Cars but 1 billion dollar Tumblr shows that certain demographics don’t mind it too much.

Hopefully more media outlets will embrace these new formats from infographics (becoming a bit too abused) to Vines/Instavideos to GIFs. I’m not a sports fan but now and then read sports news, I’ve spent time marveling at great goals displayed as GIFs on Backpage Football as I want the money shot as quickly as possible so I can go back to things that might interest me more. Finally, the best thing about GIFs is I don’t need flash, I don’t (yet) see shitty overlay ads on them, I don’t have issues with plugins crashing or chugging along videos not fully loading.

Backpage Football

Via la GIF.

I found the following two pieces after writing this that are worth checking out. One from Kathleen Sweeney and one from The New Yorker.

What future for news?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

So I asked a few people that work in media for their take on the future of news, where is it going, what do they think is going to happen. A very loose question has received some very interesting and insightful answers. Many thanks to: Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, Gareth O’Connor, Laura Slattery, John Kennedy, Adrian Weckler.

Deirdre O’Shaughnessy – Cork Independent

Expensive print is continuing to suffer as online news makes further inroads into peoples’ daily routines. I believe there’s still a place for print; the issue for most outlets is that people are now out of the habit of paying for any content, and that is a major challenge that most news producers still need to get their heads around. As a free newspaper, we are lucky not to be based on a ‘consumer pays’ model, but we are finding that advertisers are still far more willing to pay for print advertising than online advertising. Funnily enough, one of the biggest helps in that regard is going to be Apple – Apple customers are forced pay for music, film, etc. Introducing paywalls to people who already use Apple products will be a lot easier than introducing them to people who use free downloads all the time.

Regarding sourcing of news, I think the realisation has hit most journalists that a person on social media is the new ‘bloke in the pub’. Verification processes should be as stringent when you are told something online by a stranger as if you were told the same thing in a pub by a stranger. Social news isn’t new – it’s only the medium that has changed.

Gareth O’Connor – Storyful

I’ve grown a little tired of the phrase “future of news”, as I like to think more about the present of news. The world of news and journalism is a very exciting place to be right now with a whole host of new tools and technologies which help journalists to do the job faster. In my job at Storyful I live very much in the moment, two to three screens open on my desk at all times. Twitter has become a key tool in my trade, the social platform is where many news stories emerge right now as journalists embrace new storytelling methods. My role at Storyful as Director of News-Gathering involves being the “radar” of our social newsroom, the air traffic control tower if you like. As a social media news agency we pride ourselves on spotting stories quickly and delving into a whole host of social sources to increase understanding and offer context. These methods of news gathering were unheard of ten years ago, before social technologies opened up the web. Often I will have over twenty ‘live’ Twitter lists open on my terminals as we monitor multiple news sources around the world. These methods enable Storyful to react to developing stories really quickly, alerting news clients and activiating our video search discovery team. In a world of real-time news and social streams, this ability to react quickly gives our news team a vital cutting edge.

The key to these new methods of harvesting news is the concept of curation. As the online universe becomes noisy, the role of providing signal in the noise becomes more vital. Trust is a valuable commodity in the world of the social web and increasingly people are looking to experienced journalists to point them towards useful and relevant content. Fine work is being done in this area by news people like Jim Roberts of the New York Times (@nytjim on Twitter) or Neal Mann at the Wall Street Journal (@fieldproducer on Twitter) and our own Editorial Director (@DavidClinchNews) Our entire business model at Storyful is also based on this concept of finding the news from the noise. Every day our team searches the web for the best news content to share with our media partners. Key to all of this is the concept of the open or social newsroom. A big development in the news industry in the coming years will be the notion of the collaborative newsroom where journalists engage with the community on stories of relevance. Some organisations like the Guardian in the UK have already done a lot of work in this area. Legacy media organisations are also starting to embrace the concept of breaking down newsroom walls. The present of news is also about data. A goldmine of data exists for journalists to explore and this will become a more important area in years to come. In some senses the future of news is already here. That’s why I’m so excited about the present.

Laura Slattery – Irish Times

The future of the news business looks a lot like its past: intense, adaptive and alarmingly dependent on the financial commitment of passing moguls. Newspaper groups currently in the game of delivering (or aiming for) hard-news scoops as well as providing colour, context and entertainment may be placed under pressure to pick a side. Even the most genuine scoops very swiftly disseminate into what’s dismissively known as “commodity news”, with every news outlet jumping on the story. Some outlets, therefore, may come under commercial pressure to operate more like premium current affairs magazines ? with much smaller workforces to boot. All in-depth content (not necessarily long-form) will eventually go behind a pay wall as a matter of course, with only entry-level synopses of the events of the day offered for free to news tourists.

News outlets must remember to encourage journalists to stray from the beaten path ? pursuing online traffic by racing to embrace the same stories everyone else is doing will only result in self-defeating feedback loops. The aim should be to deliver content that either ticks some carefully selected ?specialist? boxes, or elegantly communicates a grander story. It?s about having fun without being intellectually flabby, being serious without being dull, and always, always, having some element of novelty. Unfortunately, it is a general rule of thumb that ?better? journalism takes more labour hours to produce: Only news outlets that recognise this and don?t go down a content-farm route will thrive.

Although some of the terms we hear nowadays (curation, aggregation, data journalism) are simply new names for old tricks, this is nevertheless an exciting time to be a journalist. But there will be painful job losses at legacy news organisations and further casualisation in employment. Freelances are finding it harder and harder to make journalism pay – this is worrying if it means that only young people from wealthy backgrounds can ?afford? to pursue it as a career.

John Kennedy – Silicon Republic

(Excuse typos, writing this on my iPhone at 18,000 feet.)
The first thing to understand if you are media is that nothing will wind back the clocks, the ivory towers are collapsing, there are no ‘papers of record’ and the media is truly mass media in the sense that everyone now has a voice and can contribute.
This is something of a rude awakening for traditional media but it is something they need to understand – the audience will crave the raw perspective of a nurse or teacher on the frontline of cutbacks for example as much as they will relish the column and opinion of a distinguished political columnist with impeccable connections. People can tweet, comment, blog, podcast, shoot video and add new dimensions to a story. It is all content and there is no point shouting at the waves ‘go back’ in irritation at the arrival of these other voices and opinions, embrace it.

For news practitioners this is not the end but rather the start of a golden age, but its up to you. Delivering the facts accurately alongside other forms of media like video and audio as well as distributing it socially will mean journalist will have to work even harder and faster than before. Journalists will also need to develop social communities around their brand and approach stories as opportunities to facilitate debate and gather new information.
Traditional journalists will need to be open to new ways of working and collaborating with their colleagues and their audience using social media. This will require a lot more flexibility in terms of working arrangements and will be a challenge for management in newspapers and broadcast outlets to ingrain in their organisation.

News will be fluid and if journalists wish to survive and thrive in this era of change they need to seize and realise the opportunities and adapt. Never before has such a rich array of technology tools and capabilities been at the disposal of journalists – those who embrace them and adapt will survive and prosper.

Adrian Weckler- Sunday Business Post/

News is its own master and will find its own outlet. That’s good news for anyone with a phone and a big challenge for those who have become comfortable with rigid, established routes to an audience (broadcasters, publishers).
According to the latest survey (Ipsos-MRBI), over half of Irish adults have a Facebook account. Half, again, of those adults visit their Facebook page everyday. That is substantially more people than buy a newspaper every day (even if the purpose for visiting can vary). The same survey shows that a fifth of Irish adults have a Twitter account. At the same time, the number of people buying newspapers here continues to fall, at a rate of between five and ten per cent each year.
But newspapers are slowly starting to adapt. It’s becoming rare to find a journalist who doesn’t have — and use — a Twitter account.

I believe that the profitable, commercially sustainable answer to 100,000% more information, stories and opinions floating around networks and platforms is not to water down journalism and research, but the opposite. If you put more research and skill into a story or a feature, it will stand out even brighter, even in an age of aggregation, sharing and retweets. True, you have to pay attention to a framework, business model and all the rest. But there are different models to let you do this, from paywalls to online ads.
The Sunday Business Post has chosen a blended approach (paywall for the Sunday product, free-to-access for The Daily Business Post). Our experience is that people are willing to pay for news they need when it’s packaged to their liking and delivered on the devices they use.

There are some bright, well-executed rivals that have recently come into the Irish market. The Journal and Broadsheet stand out. They are giving the news audience what it has been looking for and no amount of moaning by traditional publishers about the evils of aggregation is going to change this. What established publishers are now starting to do is to take a minute and re-assess their own mojo. When they think long enough about it, they’ll see that The Financial Times makes a lot more money than Gawker, even if it invests a lot more money, too. The barriers to entry for anyone who wants to cover what’s happening around us are now far lower than they were. That means that it’s not enough for a high-paying traditional publisher simply to type up something that occurred or an announcement from a press release: it doesn’t take a degree to do this. Instead, publishers need to do two things: (i) break news and provide superior analysis and (ii) have platforms in place to make sure that the potential reader doesn’t have to strain to get to that news or analysis.

Futures of news

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Some interesting things around news and websites in the past few days have popped up:

A memo or philosophical note from Buzzfeed on how they are all about built for purpose.

Some tips from Mashable on how journalists/media can use Facebook in a more productive way.

Why Gawker is moving beyond the blog.

Locally, I think Broadsheet is/are? something worth watching. A news site that has a tonne of fun and then can stop everyone in their tracks with a concise and sharp analysis piece. It evolved from funny things we’re watching on the web to a place where Irish people are sending their content and ensuring things are highlighted that other media miss or willfully ignore.

A chance for all of us – Rebooting RTÉ Investigates

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

RTÉ News/Investigations to get a revamp. As mentioned everywhere including a very insightful piece by Laura Slattery in the Irish Times.

“They will be broadcast when they are ready, not where everyone is working towards a date in the schedule that they have been given three months in advance,” he said on RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime on Tuesday.

Curran’s remarks confirm that the lessons of its libel will go beyond finger-pointing at individuals and “back-to-school” training on journalistic standards for everyone caught in the crossfire. He insists the broadcaster is “not shying away from challenging journalism”.

New training and methods etc. Wouldn’t it be great if all their policies and training material were put online for everyone? Why not push the standard and up the game of everyone in the field? Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out before that everyone upped their game when Tiger Woods came along, good for all. Better quality news may happen. The Government too have a policy of reusing information data/putting it to good use for all. Imagine if RTÉ did that?

One of the issues too with all media in the past few years/decades is not showing people the work that is actually done and the processes involved in putting programmes together. With that happening it is hard for people to value work when they are hopping from channel to channel and going from one cut and paste journalism “article” to the next “Are racists racist?” poll. In particular for RTÉ they get hammered for cheap television and also for spending money on television.

Media orgs need to open themselves up more to the public to explain how they work. If they don’t, they’ll be forgotten about, misrepresented and not respected. RTÉ did well many moons ago inviting us to the launch of their new News Studio but they need to go much further now. I know a lot of people that work in the media and the hours some put in, the work they do to ensure quality and sometimes just for a three minute news segment. We may not have to respect or like their work but we should still be informed before we do the usual: “Meh, dinosaurs that can’t be fired doing lazy journalism”. And I am just as guility.

Live minuted editorial meetings in the Guardian. The BBC editors defending their editorial decisions. I’m looking at you too Irish Times.

Of course even sharing and opening yourselves up won’t keep people happy. When every Friday you have the Late Late show baiting on Twitter with people saying the show is shit and others replying “Then stop watching it”, it shows you will get people that are not impressed. Yet the same audience or some of them watched the Nuala documentary and cried their eyes out. Same station, same organisation. So the argument that Twitter people are always knocking RTÉ isn’t fully true.

And why not listen? Why not take on some suggestions, make some changes, listen, respond and point out why things are they way they are. Vincent Browne got flack for having the same people on the show the whole time, got dug for gender imbalances and sought to rectify it by asking on-air for new contributors. Shockingly obvious.

So, share journalistic skills and knowledge, make yourself more transparent and take and respond to constructive feedback. I’m not sure to survive is ethics training and new editorial policies enough for any media organisation not just RTÉ.

And also being with the elsewhere

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

This blog post from JP Rangaswami, a conversation with Mark Little about #cementgate and the weird machinations of my brain are the catalysts for this blog post.

David Maybury tweeted one morning (and I was awake for some reason) about a cement truck parking at the gates of the Dáil as some kind of protest. The “pics or it didn’t happen” brigade including myself kicked in. They took his tweets and retweeted them, sent his pics all around the world and even demanded from news outlets like Morning Ireland and Newstalk what they were doing about the incident. I think it was Morning Ireland that started calling it #truckgate and the crowd told them it was #cementgate, we the public found this news and this is how we are calling it. Do keep up. “We” the masses found the news via David, named it and sent it out and they could be part of it like the rest of us. And the news spread around the world, pushed by the scattered Irish. BBC, CNN and the New York Times all covering it eventually. And calling it #cementgate.

In the next few hours the Internet pointed out it was the same truck that was around Galway. That the Gardai had impounded the truck before and they also caught out the liars who said that Gardai had to jump out of the way when the truck rammed the gates. A YouTube video showed the truck slowly drove to the gates and stopped with no cops there to get out of the way.

A couple of days later I bumped into Mark Little in Dublin and chatted about what happened that morning. Mark mentioned that maybe David might never report a story like this again but someone like him will. We all have the tools now to do the same, we have a device with a connection to the Internet. The way I see it, we have a connection to people who are more experienced than us who can direct us to do the right/best thing. Take a picture, do a video, this is how you change a tyre, this is how you address a wasp sting. Give us the raw feed and we can do the rest including fact checking while you point or if you have the experience, you can report. Share group memory, shared experience and someone tapping into it.

As I started writing this post I read JP’s post on social objects and how we are documenting all these things now with phones and web apps. Maybe the positive with these tools is we are becoming more observational of our surroundings at times, because of these tools. That would make a nice photo. Let me check in to this location. Let me ask people on Twitter is there anything to do around here, oooh there’s an amazing hidden café here. Yet there is also the fact that these tools disconnect us, as per this bang on description from William Gibson:

He was elsewhere, the way people were before their screens, his expression that of someone piloting something, looking into a middle distance that had nothing to do with geography

Cementgate truck

To me David Maybury was being there but he was also being with the elsewhere. He saw the truck, heard the sounds, the background noise, the smell of the ozone from the truck post shut-off perhaps and he was on Twitter responding to people, sharing the imagery and being asked about the event. Twitter for me can add another layer of data and insight into an event I’m at. It can lead me down different paths instead of the regular worn ones. So by describing things, like diarying did years ago but in the new multimedia way and connecting people to it, an event or a building can become more colourful and maybe I become a better observer as a result. So does being digitally connected elsewhere make us appreciate here?

Newswalls and all that

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Some thoughts on The Times and their paywall as relayed to a journalist recently, though in a slightly expanded and modified form.

Isn’t it sad that it’s 2010 and only now are papers doing something in this always-on multimedia world to up their game? Now we are told we’ll get some quality content after all the years of decline in quality and readership. Something is needed to bring back quality, maybe it’ll be the idea of paywalls that will bring it back and then maybe a different model to retain quality will happen. This recent presentation from Hal Varian from Google actually shows newspaper revenues have been under attack since the 50s.

Google Newspaper media share

Google has never been a threat. Terrible content has been. Looking at the media these days, you can’t tell which news site you’re on as every story is the same. Far too many pieces are just copied and pasted from press releases, especially the breaking news sections of sites.

It’s been a race to the bottom for years with newspapers cutting back on journalists and editors, relying too much on using news feeds that all other papers use and taking less and less risks to break stories. No longer have newspapers been setting the news agenda but covering it with a slight timeshift.

Paywalls won’t work if you are hiding the bland content that is also on so many other websites out there. The internet has been designed to route around “damage” or blockages so if you are blocking your content that’s based on a press release, it will be available elsewhere.

Initial reports from the Times are that there are “value adds” behind the paywall. More images, more insight, access to journalists etc. This is value and it is unique and I think people will pay for that.

Instead of charging for this content, other alternatives would be to sell historic data, to give free access to the main site but analysis type reports which can be used to enrich a company would be sold. Imagine having the Irish Times create a report on the state of technology in Ireland and opinions from their most experienced journalists on what are areas to punt on? Charge a few hundred euros for the report. Same for all the other industries they cover and tie it in with pass historical records from their archives.

There’s also way more money to be made from advertising if they made it more targeted and more automated. Instead of charging for banner impressions which makes both sides lazy, they should be working with advertisers on a cost per conversion model. Get direct custom from a newspaper site, pay more.

There are also sorts of additional streams too like business conferences, sport events with their pundits and the sports stars they know. Bands make less from album sales and more from touring these days apparently, a working business model, why not the same for newspapers? Too much hard work. I watched a documentary about UK dockers and in particular the Liverpool ones who resisted the cargo boxes for years and the shipping world passed them by. The print model worked for a while but it’s very odd that it really has not changed in decades despite all the warning signs being there.

Update: Paul McAvinchey’s thoughts on paywalls.

iPads and the future of news and media

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

I’m talking at the Media 2020 conference on Tuesday. I’ll be talking about gadgets and showing off my iPad but here’s my take on the silliness around iPad being the new Christ.

The deathnote for news has been served. So some are running off to the iPad and thinking that will save them and others are looking at paywalls, again. Marc Andreessen suggests burning the boats and going web only. Let management have a viking funeral too.

A touchscreen interface to your milquetoast content will not save your business.
A paywall to content that is far from unique or of value will not save your business.
Wordpress powered jaded content is still jaded content.
Has 3D saved the movie industry?

We’ve gone from storytelling to writings on parchment to printed missives to audio to audio and video to digital to multi-way interaction to a world now where something that fits in a pocket takes in data, sends out location data, takes audio, video, pictures, is manipulated by us, is shared with the world, shared and taken back into the device. Within seconds. We overshare on Facebook and generate our own news like we always have. “Any news?” we are asked. Do we respond with what we heard on the radio?

News should be getting richer and more multi-faceted every year and instead the past few decades it’s become homogenised. So yeah while starving yourself of oxegen got your rocks off for a while, it has also killed you. Ask Michael Hutchence and David Carradine.

Photo owned by nDevilTV (cc)

Why are news and media trying to barely iterate on what they are doing when there are devices out there that are not iterations of a previous device but big leaps and you don’t take advantage? The iPad is then going to take what it has now and iterate on that over years. Adapt to change. It hasn’t got multitasking, a camera, USB ports, is certainly not open yet is still vastly superior to anything out there. There are already amazing applications on it. Yet bringing in a new paperboy to deliver the newspaper to the door isn’t going to save you folks, is it?

Popular Science, Coolhunting and that Alice in Wonderland interactive book have been lauded as great so far for iPad but they’re on a device that’s a fraction of one percent of the people that daily consume media. If you wait for all of them to go all iPad buying then you’ll be very broke. Innovate what you’re doing, not how you deliver.

So all these huge news organisations in Ireland, all moaning about crime and gangland bladey blah. Not one has a Google map, mapping out the places where the violence happened. Not one has done interactive timelines. A multimedia world and we’re getting black and white single layer analog content or chirping about RTÉ.ie being a threat.

All could have been iterating their way to the full multimedia experience one gets with an iPad. Nah. Here’s an RSS feed and iPhone app that puts our content in a smaller window. Fa ab.

Look at the big bad content producers online right now. Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes and all those other places of noise and mess. Look how much Facebook will make this year compared to the New York Times. While NBC or CBS kick their ass, look at the growth rate. Look at how much Apple has made from selling content and apps. I’m doubting the future of news will come from those in news right now or the trail blazing elitists that believe they’re better than their traditional media peers cos they have a blog and better than bloggers because they have a piece of paper that certifies they can type and press record on an mp3 recorder. You’re still the system, you just wear a silly cape around the office. Look to those who caused a stir online already and have a grasp of a business model used this century, not one that worked 200 years ago. Or actually know what a business model is.

At the end of the day the reason for the failure is this: It’s your stupid content, stupid

And these are the questions and answers

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

The Sunday Times got on to me about a piece they were doing on blogging and asked me a few questions. This is the resultant article that once again tries to put those damned bloggers in their place. (This is the same paper by the way where a staffer anonymously on my blog said I was on the payroll of Hell Pizza because I blogged that I liked their pizzas but they still come calling when they need on and off record information on articles they write). They really don’t like Twenty do they? Is anyone keeping track on how many articles in the paper by a few journos (Oh hi Mark!) are inspired by blogs in Ireland? Or as the Sunday Times puts it: “squawks of online indignation if newspapers steal their material without credit.”

Update: Forgot to add that this is how they described what the piece was about: I’m researching a feature for The Sunday Times this weekend on the role of the political in Irish public discourse

Below are the questions asked and my answers.

> (1) Would you agree that few Irish blogs (other than Irish Economy) have made it into mainstream public consciousness?

I’d disagree. girls have a regular slot on Gerry Ryan and write a column for the Herald Nialler9 writes for the Indo’s entertainment mag Donal Skehan from Good Mood Food writes a section on food for the Indo weekend section I actually think bloggers are over-represented in media given there’s a few 1000 active blogs in Ireland

> (2) Does any Irish blog/blogger make money? was Irish and was acquired by and the guy who ran it works for them too I believe. have an agency you have to talk to in order to put an ad on their site! I know some put ads on their personal blogs but I think that’s pretty vulgar but that’s me. Businesses are making money from having a blog, Komplett are making 6 figures from it and expect to make 7 figures.

Myself and others I know make money indirectly. We have nothing to sell or buy off our blogs but it establishes authority and credibility and leads to brand recognition and people recommending your services to others. I’ve lost count of the number of consultancy gigs I got from a reader of my blog who recommended me to a friend or their boss. A few of these people I’ve never met at all, we just know each other via blog comments.

> (3) Is Ireland too close-knit a society to need blogs – ie do we not just chat to each other down the pub?

Irish people use every communications tool going. Pubs and chat there, phone, text messaging (we send more texts than most other countries in the world), 1.2M of us are on Facebook and 900k of us log on every day to communicate and possibly remove drunken photos of ourselves. We sing, write, paint, I think we get hooked on every form. Blogging has definitely slowed down the past while as all these other tools that allow us to communicate have come along.

> (4) Have a lot of bloggers, in your experience, migrated to social networking sites and Twitter?

Yes, some have given up the ghost completely, some have gone from daily updates to weekly or monthly. It’s a bit like when texting came about. It has a massive impact on people making phonecalls.

> (5) Isn’t it unsatisfactory/annoying/disheartening that Twenty Major will get 50 comments for a posting “John O’Donoghue is a cunt”, but Gavin Sheridan will get none or 1 comment for a brilliant analysis of Nama?
> And even if none of the above, isn’t it reflective of the blogging/internet debate experience?

Everyone has their niche I suppose. TheStory is fine for posting up dull FOIs with a conspiracy theory hook to them. There’s a space for that. If you read the posts though, they are more like a noticeboard than something that really engages. Compare that to Twenty Major which is populist with a subtle intelligent analysis of current affairs. More people join in on the posts as the posts generally encourage discussion, even if it is to shout at TDs. Interestingly though, the traffic and numbers don’t matter as much online as it’s more about the quality of people. TheStory being read by both journalists and politicians means a post there might have way more impact than if Twenty blogged about the same topic.

> Damien, these are just generally areas I’m exploring. Wd welcome your views on any related themes re. the blogging experience in Ireland

I think blogging has actually become even more niche as time has moved on. More people are online, way more are communicating online but while Facebook goes from 400k users in January 2009 to 1.2 Million by the start of December we still have 4-5k blogs in Ireland. I think it’s good that there are now more ways to communicate than just blogging but they still have amazing reach if people use them effectively.

it found me

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Usual story. Focus group, college kid asked how he consumes news and all the rest. Then he says: If the news is that important, it will find me.

It’s a phrase that’s used again and again to frighten some people and inspire others. It’s used in every JESUSCHRISTDOSOMETHING style presentation on new media. Still, there’s a growing number of people (young and old) that don’t buy papers, don’t watch the Angelus and the news after it. They find out through other sources about news, entertainment, content, recommendations, truth, lies etc. News before came from news filters like the Irish Times and Radio 1, now they come from text messages (remember Roy Keane and Saipan?), Facebook, Twitter (Michael Jackson dies, the Luas crash), (Leaving Cert English Paper 2) and the list goes on.

On Saturday morning I found out the Lisbon result through Echofon which is a Twitter client on my iPhone. As results came in from different count centres, the news came via people I’m subscribed to on Twitter. I don’t subscribe to news outlets on Twitter. People at count centres. People connected to people at count centres. I then watched Enda Kenny, Gerry Adams and all the rest give speeches at the gates of Dublin Castle not via TV or Radio but via the iPhone of Alexia Golez who used the QIK video recording and streaming application to broadcast out to the world.

This is not the future of news but it is a future. Alexia was also there when Seán Haughey experienced that silent protest. With newspapers and radio stations (bye bye INN) slashing costs and staff, then the general people on the street can be there when news happens and deliver it to their network without a news infrastructure. Unwashed ruffians that they are. If your network is relied on for even more news and trusted recommendations, what happens to PR, to broadcast news, to advertising and marketing?

This was definitely my first news event without ever going to a radio or reading a news website. Very much not the last.