Who’s Fingerprints On ‘Hand Of Frog’?

The Daily Star has been dabbling with ‘Le Hand That Rocked The World’, The Times went with a rather clumsy ‘Hand of Gaul’ on Friday’s front page, but there was only ever really one Thierry Henry / plucky Irish heartbreak headline that was going to catch the mood.

Hand of Frog was the clear winner …er, hands down.

The question is who got there first? I’d stake a claim for Andrew Stewart in Belfast who tweeted this at 10.13pm within minutes of Wednesday night’s goal:

(Hat tip: @dannyrogers2001)

links for 2009-11-16

‘Painful, crippling and a loss of crackling creativity’: The Observer on The Observer

observer-music-monthlyAn unexpected level of openness in today’s readers’ editor column in the Observer.

Stephen Pritchard is the readers’ editor in question and he writes about the crippling fall in advertising to have afflicted Guardian News & Media: revenues down £33m in six months.

In times past it fell to others to write gleefully about their rival’s distress, while the newspaper in question would be in silent denial.

Sure, Pritchard rallies the troops with three paragraphs of “good news” towards the end of the piece but not before he notes:

These are painful times here. Not so long ago, the Observer looked threatened with closure as losses across both titles reached a frightening £100,000 a day. Mercifully, that threat has receded, but the price of survival is a high one. Three of the four monthly magazines – Observer Woman, Observer Sport Monthly and Observer Music Monthly – must close, leaving only Observer Food Monthly still being published.

Whatever your opinion of them (and they were always controversial), these monthly magazines gave the Observer a distinction that marked it out from the other Sundays. The loss of their crackling creativity will undoubtedly affect circulation, but they were cripplingly expensive to produce; major surgery was necessary if the heart of the Observer was to keep beating.

No mention of the 100 or so job losses but, to be fair, mediaguardian.co.uk has been running that story since Wednesday.

The Week’s Most Read Posts (2 – 10 Nov 2009)

  1. A new entry in Amazon’s Hot Future Releases in Business, Finance & Law. [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  2. Has new media reinvigorated democracy or throttled good journalism? [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  3. Who forecast that SMS would be ”as big as the global music industry, plus the total worldwide movie industry, and the total worldwide videogaming industry – added together”? [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  4. ‘For nearly a month I got to stay in three expensive hotels, with restaurant and bar bills all reimbursable by my employers.’ [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  5. It feels like déjà vu all over again. [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]

The Sun Is Not The First Paper To Misjudge The Mood

jamie-janes-the-sunFor a newspaper that prides itself in being attuned to its readers’ sentiments, it is odd to see The Sun so out of step on the Jamie Janes affair. Odd but not unique.

Prime minister Gordon Brown may not be wildly popular across the country but many feel he is victim of a smear.

As the BBC’s Nick Robinson noted on his blog and on the Ten O’Clock News last night, it’s “clear from the phone-ins, the text messages, the blogs and the like that many share that sympathy [with Brown]”.

And that includes those who have passed judgement on The Sun’s website itself.

To take some of the most recent comments:

Asleroth: I truly am sorry for her loss. but give Brown a break, at least he went out of his way to even write a personal HAND written letter, most people would not have even done that, even the Queen does not send out hand written letters it’s all computer

jessicauk: [sic] fell sorry for the pm, seems nothing he does nowadays is right.

Jamie-101: Yes, the view that the note contains 25 spelling mistakes is clearly that of an illiterate who does not generally write by hand. Quite odd and disgusting to reduce the conflicts and the loss of life to this utterly puerile level. Brown is wrong on many things; he is honourable in writing thus.

The last time I can recall a national newspaper being so out of step with its readership (or should that be its commentariat?) was when the Daily Mail published an interview with former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed.

Here is a flavour of the reaction to a reasoned and largely sympathetic piece with Mohamed, a victim of “medieval” torture, who, let’s not forget, was not found guilty of any terrorist acts:

Ship him back to Ethiopia and stop using my taxes to house and feed him!

This man is NOT BRITISH, illegally entered the country, went to Pakistan (for help in beating his drug habit – yeah, right!) so, to be blunt – WHO CARES.

You put yourself in the Terrorist arena mate so you take the consequences of your action.

Er…. go away sunshine.

The backlash, far more predictable perhaps, has echoes of the more recent case.

But where the Daily Mail may have expected a negative reaction, The Sun is left slightly stunned.

The Sun’s sympathy for a grieving mother… or simple exploitation?
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?

Parris Match: On Expenses

Receipt by Rick (used under Creative Commons licence)Writing in The Times today, columnist Matthew Parris offers a welcome alternative to the tiresome ‘They Still Don’t Get It’ line on MPs’ expenses.

And he sheds an interesting light on the bills of newspaper folk at the same time.

For fear of his proprietor accusing me of kleptomania I’ll keep the copy and paste to a minimum but the rest is well worth a read:

I last week submitted to this newspaper my expenses claims for the three annual party conferences. For nearly a month I got to stay in three expensive hotels, with restaurant and bar bills all reimbursable by my employers — reimbursements being allowable free of income tax on the ground that the costs were incurred “solely and necessarily in the performance of [my] duties”.

Tweets, Elites And The Same Old News Agenda

new-media-old-news-natalie-fentonHas new media reinvigorated democracy or throttled good journalism, asks Dr Natalie Fenton in her forthcoming book ‘New Media, Old News: Journalism and Democracy in a Digital Age’.

And her answer? Well, the clue is in the title.

The book is not quite a pessimist’s charter, but nor does it side with the ‘utopian vision [of] everyone connected to everyone else, a non-hierarchical network of voices with equal, open and global access.’

Fenton and her team of researchers at Goldsmiths make two key observations. Firstly, that the mechanics of the journalist’s trade is suffering because of the desk-bound demands of new media – ‘iron cages’, they call them.

Secondly, new media rarely means new voices on the national stage because the ‘economics of news remains stacked against the newcomer’.

Continue reading: Tweets, elites and the same old news agenda on Journalism.co.uk

Syndication Overload For The New York Times

new-york-times-observer-taliban2It feels like déjà vu all over again. 

Keen-eyed followers of this blog will be familiar with David Rohde’s fascinating account of his seven-month kidnap by the Taliban.

Originally published in Rohde’s own paper The New York Times – and simultaneously on the paper’s website – a couple of week’s ago, it made a second appearance in last week’s Sunday Times.   

And now, it has turned up in The Observer (pictured). Or to be more precise, The New York Times supplement that appears in that particular Sunday paper.

The New York Times supplement is published weekly in 26 newspapers around the world (cultural imperialism, anyone?).

The articles in the British version are “selected in association with The Observer”, or so it says below the masthead. That being the case, it seems strange that nobody at Kings Place appears concerned that the paper had been scooped by one its fiercest rivals.

I wondered a week ago what the role of syndication was in the link economy and argued that it still had a place in certain circumstances. But syndication in triplicate does seem to be going a bit far.

 – What’s The Future Of Syndication?

The Danger Of Predicting The Next Big Thing – In Less Than 160 Characters

motorola-text-wikipediaHere’s a prediction for you – most futurologists will get it wrong most of the time. Beyond that I wouldn’t put the mortgage on anything technology soothsayers tell you.

Now is a good time to mark this important truth.

Why? Because global revenues from SMS (aka text messaging) have officially passed the $100bn mark, according to new figures from Portio Research.

Question: who predicted that the short message service would become a cash cow for the mobile industry?

Who forecast that SMS would be “as big as the global music industry, plus the total worldwide movie industry, and the total worldwide videogaming industry – added together”?

Or “bigger than global radio, or bigger than worldwide book publishing”?

Answer: no-one. SMS was meant as little more than an accessory on a mobile phone in the same way you get a calculator bundled with the Windows operating system.

Yet 160 characters of plain text became a phenomenon.

While we are at it, who would have thought when SMS was introduced 16 years ago that someone would ape the service for the internet, throw a little one-to-many communication into the mix, shave 20 characters off in the process and think it a good idea?

One conclusion I think we can draw from the dual success of text messaging and the 140-character Twitter is that ‘lowest common denominator’ technologies have just as much chance of success as – perhaps more chance than – those with all the bells and whistles.

The lesson appears to be this: keep technology simple to use and let the creativity come with the application of that technology, not from the application itself. Beyond that, no predictions.

(Hat tip: Digital Stats)

The Week’s Most Read Posts (26 Oct – 1 Nov 2009)

  1. A self-indulgent blogger writes… [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  2. And that’s another reason why the hand-delivered letter was interesting. It brought home the potency of ‘push’ communication, when done right. [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  3. In the link economy, where access to the original source is only a click away, isn’t syndication increasingly redundant? [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  4. ‘We had already started a “close” period, during which no new self-signups or member referrals to YouGov will be invited to take part in political polls.’ [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  5. Gaming YouGov? This feels like a conspiracy too far. Only one place to turn. [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]
  6. Twenty hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, nearly a million blog posts each day, 600,000 new members of Facebook and around four million tweets via Twitter every 24 hours – some social media numbers are quite hard to fathom.
  7. One medium, one country? News to all those beavering away on ITV.com catch up, or at its Global Content division. [jonbernstein.wordpress.com]