Twitter complements, supplements and enhances newsgathering. Not bad for 140 characters.

I’ve put together some thoughts on the impact social media can have on conventional newsgathering over at the Press Gazette.

Using an example from my days working at Channel 4 News and drawing on an interesting post by Austrian radio journalist Nadja Hahn, I make the point that:

Social media doesn’t replace conventional media; and new techniques don’t replace old. However, social media does extend reach and, invariably, accelerates the newsgathering process. It complements, it supplements, it enhances. Not bad for 140 characters.

You can read the whole thing here.

The art of reinvention

A recurring theme of this week’s Digital Media Strategies 2013 conference in London was reinvention.

Here’s the drill: the transition from traditional media to digital media is disruptive and while it doesn’t necessarily destroy it does fragment and when those fragments are pieced together they are often done so in ways completely different from before.

That’s the theory. What about the practice? Here are three examples:

The Economist is now a radio broadcaster. Well not quite but it does deliver 1.5 million audio streams a month, according to Nick Blunden. That presents an interesting opportunity, he argued, because it allows The Economist not just to compete for scarce “reading time” but — given people can listen while doing something else — also to compete for their “free time”.

Auto Trader: the people behind this new-and-used car magazine have turned themselves from publisher to search provider; an obvious move in retrospect for a listings paper but, most likely, brave at the time. That initial move last decade has, said Trader Media Group’s Nick Gee, made the “transition to mobile relatively easy”. Now a third of their traffic comes from mobile phones. And, given the rate of growth, Gee predicted that like Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, he’ll be able to call Trader Media a mobile company by the end of the year.

Computer Weekly, launched in 1966, was the world’s first weekly technology newspaper  and became the UK’s last weekly technology newspaper when it stopped printing in 2011. The transition from print to print-plus-digital to digital-only brought with it new lessons and insights, said editor-in-chief Bryan Glick. For example, “We moved from knowing exactly who was subscribing but no idea what they were reading to knowing exactly what they were reading but no idea who they were.” Online registration has since underpinned Computer Weekly’s business model.

Another insight: the assumption that news was what the reader craved did not quite hold up to scrutiny. “News attracts [readers] but long form is what keeps them there,” he said. Where once the ratio of stories was 70:30 in favour of news the editorial team now produce as many long form pieces as they do news stories.

I’ve written more about The Economist and Auto Trader talks over on the Press Gazette — and plan to flesh out some thoughts about Glick’s very interesting Computer Weekly presentation in due course.

BBC Five Live 1, ITV 0

Champions-league By all accounts Newcastle United’s two-nil away win at Coventry on Wednesday night was a turgid affair. Regardless, well done BBC Radio Five Live for making it the station’s live commentary on a night of Champions’ League football.

By my reckoning, it is the first time Five Live has shunned the World’s ‘premier club tournament’ – (c.) Uefa – in favour of another game, let alone one from the Ricoh Stadium. 

Yet it took this wholly sensible decision because all three matches involving British teams in Europe were dead rubbers – Rangers and Liverpool couldn’t qualify while Arsenal couldn’t finish anywhere but top of their group.

Better a competitive second-tier, domestic league game than a meaningless Champions’ League affair.

Shame, ITV failed to make the brave decision.

Instead, the commercial broadcaster – who’s expensive Champions’ League outlay was rewarded with three meaningless games in one night – chose to show one of them. It could – should – have shown a match involving either Barcelona or Inter Milan in a group where all four teams could still qualify. It didn’t

And how was it rewarded for its timidity? Just over three million viewers tuned into Olympiakos against Arsenal Reserves, according to the overnights.

That’s a mere 14 per cent share and an audience dwarfed by both Spooks and Waterloo Road.

RT: 15 News Men And Women To Follow On Twitter

twitter-birdSome good, some bad, mostly indifferent. As media land descends on Twitter how do you work out who are the ones worth following?

Here are some questions to ask: are they giving you a glimpse inside? Are they sharing nuggets of insight and analysis? Are they part of the conversation? Are they making you laugh? And, are they doing more than pointing an RSS feed at it?

Yes to two or more of these and you are probably on to a winner.

On today, I’ve recommended 15 men and women from the news mainstream worth following for many of the reasons above. It’s an entirely subjective list, of course, and it is, I hope, incomplete.

Anyway, you can read much more on each over at the other place but here, in brief is the list:

National newspaper
1. Benedict Brogan
: @@benedictbrogan
who: chief political correspondent, Daily Telegraph

2. Ruth Gledhill
aka: @ruthiegledhill
who: religion correspondent, The Times

3. Bryony Gordon
who: features writer, Daily Telegraph

4. Kevin Maguire
aka: @kevin_maguire
who: associate editor (politics), Daily Mirror

5. Alan Rusbridger
aka: @arusbridger
who: editor, The Guardian
Regional newspaper

6. Alison Gow
aka: @alisongow
who: executive editor, Liverpool Echo

7. Victoria Raimes
aka: @victoriaraimes
who: news reporter, Edinburgh Evening News

8. Marc Reeves
aka: @marcreeves
who: editor, The Birmingham Post

9. Jo Wadsworth
aka: @jowadsworth
who: reporter, Brighton Argus

10. Paul Waugh
aka: @paulwaugh
who: deputy political editor, London Evening Standard



11. Krishnan Guru-Murthy
aka: @krishgm
who: presenter, Channel 4 News

12. Tim Marshall
aka: @ITwitius
who: foreign affairs editor, Sky News

13. Cathy Newman
aka: @cathynewman
who: political correspondent, Channel 4 News

14. Alex Thomson
aka: @alextomo
who: chief correspondent, Channel 4 News


15. Nicky Campbell
aka: @nickyaacampbell
who: presenter, BBC Radio Five Live

You’re bound to disagree with some of my suggestions, and highlight some missing gems. Please share – below or @jon_bernstein.


 – Here’s Why Twitter-As-Glorified-RSS Misses The Point

 – Five Ways News Organisations Should Use Twitter