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.

How Big Data led Netflix to House of Cards

Interesting piece by Andrew Leonard over on Salon about Netflix. The standfirst reads “‘House of Cards’ gives viewers exactly what Big Data says we want. This won’t end well”, and here are a couple of pertinent passages:

In 2012, for the first time ever, Americans watched more movies legally delivered via the Internet than on physical formats like Blu-Ray discs or DVDs. The shift signified more than a simple switch in formats; it also marked a major difference in how much information the providers of online programming can gather about our viewing habits.

For almost a year, Netflix executives have told us that their detailed knowledge of Netflix subscriber viewing preferences clinched their decision to license a remake of the popular and critically well regarded 1990 BBC miniseries. Netflix’s data indicated that the same subscribers who loved the original BBC production also gobbled down movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher.

It’s worth taking the time to read it in full.

(hat tip: Chris Applegate)

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.

Sir William Garrow And The Power Of BBC Prime Time

sir-william-garrow-hostettler-brabyA new entry in Amazon’s Hot Future Releases in Business, Finance & Law.

In at number nine, and likely to rise and rise in the coming weeks, is Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice by John Hostettler and Richard Braby.

In other news, a BBC drama set in the 18th century and featuring the life, times and fight for justice of an  idealistic young barrister began last night.

Garrow’s Law stars Andrew Buchan (he of ITV’s The Fixer and BBC4’s short-lived Party Animals) and is written by Tony Marchant (The Mark of Cain, Holding On etc).

As Buchan and Marchant take hold of Sunday evenings between now and Christmas, expect Hostettler and Braby’s book (not published until 1 December) to scale the pre-order charts.

Just like that upstart Twitter, the BBC has the power to shift units.

As Print Dwindles, can Amazon Re-Kindle?

‘BNP Gaming YouGov’ Adds Another Chapter To Question Time Blockbuster

The BNP/Question Time story arc has followed a fairly predictable trajectory.

It began with several weeks of pre-show outrage mixed with libertarian nose-holding. This was followed by on the day protests, the 105 minutes of television, the reaction and the backlash to the reaction.

As a final act we had the post-show opinion polls which rather conveniently provided ammunition for both the ‘Griffin blew it’ and the ‘BNP boost’ brigades.

But now an unexpected epilogue.


Sunny Hundal over at Liberal Conspiracy notes that one of the administrators on the BNP website recently set up a page on its social network titled:  YOUGOV – Let’s increase BNP’s support in polls, and raise money at the same time!. (note, this links to the BNP site).

The post urges BNP members to sign up to YouGov so a. the pollster won’t ignore them in subsequent sampling and b. they can raise money for the party via regular £50 participation payments.

Gaming YouGov? This feels like a conspiracy too far. Only one place to turn: the Political Betting blog where Mike Smithson writes:

Such ideas have been floated from time to time and clearly all online pollsters which use polling panels are vulnerable. There was talk of UKIP doing the same thing ahead of the 2004 Euro election. I’m emailed Peter Kellner [YouGov’s president] and I’m sure he’ll tell us that measures are in place to identify and deal with such approaches.

As a starting pointing the BNP might have had a better chance of succeeding if they hadn’t first put it on a website that anybody could find within a few seconds on Google.

We await the Kellner response.

How ‘Nutter’ Griffin Matched Nobel Obama
BNP on Question Time: The BBC should be applauded

Publishers, This Is The Ultimate Membership Club

arsenal-football-clubIt employs 11 full-time staff to run its website, boasts a video on demand service charging £45 a year, a mobile video service at £1.50 a week, a cable TV channel and, coming soon, a £2.99 Apple i-Phone app.

Oh, and it has Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese-language versions of its website, plus a US-facing site.

But this is no traditional global publisher getting its digital act together. This is a football club. Arsenal Football Club in this example but others, including the obscenely rich Manchester City, are doing something similar.

In a fascinating piece on paidContentUK – part-titled, Sports Media Beware – Patrick Smith notes how this is a great example of targeting a specific community, and charging for the privilege.

And he poses a tricky question for more established media to answer:

If Arsenal offers fans direct, undiluted access to highlights, interviews, news and maybe one day live action, why would fans pay for access to Time Online’s football zone?

iPhone Apps Emerge As Possible Paid Solution
‘No Branding Or Devotion – Only Utility.’

‘I Have No More Proof Than Anyone Else,’ Says PM-On-Pills Blogger

Ever since Andrew Marr put the medication question to Gordon Brown yesterday, the media has turned the spotlight on the political blogosphere.

Was Marr guilty of indulging in some web-based tittle-tattle, on the BBC no less? Had he fallen for another right-wing conspiracy in cyberspace? Or was the question of the PM’s state of mind a legitimate area for discussion?

Opinions are naturally divided – Charlie Beckett at Polis and Benedict Brogan writing on his Telegraph blog provide some of the more insightful analysis.

Meanwhile, the hunt was on for the blogger that had originally put the idea of the PM-on-pills into the public domain.

Some mistakenly thought it all started with Guido Fawkes, but the UK’s most renowned political blogger soon put them right.

The author of the original was in fact John Ward who blogs at Not Born Yesterday.

Earlier today, Ward told Channel 4 News:

The fact of the matter is I still have no more proof, and I stress proof, than anyone else that Gordon Brown is actually taking anti-depressants.

All I can say is that I was given a verbal list of foods he allegedly cannot have by a very senior civil servant at a social gathering. And as an occasional depressive myself in the past I recognised the contraindications immediately from many years ago to be those of an anti-depressant of the MAOI type that I have taken.

So no proof and a Downing Street denial, but an educated guess backed up by a verbal tip off from a “very senior civil servant”. It’s probably enough to legitimise it as a story out in the blogosphere.

But at the post-Gilligan BBC? I’m not so sure.

 – Sorry Guido, the BBC did for Duncan

Lost In Translation? Fox Anchor Tells Weatherman To ‘Keep F*&£ing That Chicken’

Perhaps you’re familiar with the work of FOX5 WNYW presenter Ernie Anastos. Maybe he does this all the time. Or just possibly, “keep f*&£ing that chicken” is acceptable slang in New York City.

But judging by the reaction of his co-presenter, possibly not.


 – Google Ads. FAIL
 – ‘Motherf*&£ing Bee.’ The Anchorman’s Sting
 – Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’

Channel 4 News Theme Like You’ve Never Heard It…

…unless, of course, you were watching last night.

Channel 4 News theme tune video, Led Bib with Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy invited Mercury nominees, Led Bib, into Studio 6 for a bit jamming.

Half way through the band’s line-up changes – Jon on keyboards and Krishnan on guitar.

“Rocks your socks off,” says the notoriously well-attired Mr Snow.

Speech Debelle, meanwhile, was in another part of the building reworking the News at Ten bongs with Mark Austin. Probably.

(In case you are wondering, the Channel 4 News theme is called ‘Best Endeavours’ by Alan Hawkshaw.)

Ron Wood Bee Sting Returns To YouTube
Wogan Wages War On The Anchorman

Robert Peston: ‘My Blog Lets BBC Own The Story.’

rober_peston_bbcHat tip to Robin Hamman for highlighting some particularly pertinent parts of Robert Peston’s Edinburgh TV Festival speech that had passed this (un)observer by.

Perhaps it was the BBC’s business man’s bust up with Murdoch junior that was the distraction but Peston’s speech is well worth another read, especially for his take on blogging, and being in competition with the press over here and with the plethora of outlets overseas.

Peston’s point that his blog enables the BBC to “own a story” is particularly interesting and it is the one big lesson all media, but especially broadcasters, need to heed.

The newsroom notion still persists that you should save your best lines until transmission.

In truth, by getting the story out early it not only becomes your story but readers, viewers and users help knock it into shape, help spread the word, and are a more-than-committed audience come TX. As usual, new media doesn’t cannibalise your market, it enhances it.

And, no, I never knew that Peston’s blog started life as an internal email for editors and staff.

Anyway, here are some key extracts from the speech:

Blogging for the BBC

For me, the blog is at the core of everything I do, it is the bedrock of my output. The discipline of doing it shapes my thoughts. It disseminates to a wider world the stories and themes that I think matter. But it also spreads the word within the BBC – which is no coincidence, because it started life as an internal email for editors and staff. It gives me unlimited space to publish the kind of detail on an important story that I can’t get into a three minute two-way on Today or a two-minutes-forty-seconds package on the Ten O’Clock News.

On ‘owning’ the story

Most important of all, the blog allows me and the BBC to own a big story and create a community of interested people around it. Sharing information – some of it hugely important, some of it less so – with a big and interested audience delivers that ownership and creates that committed community.

On the competition

Now because of my own indifference to how I communicate a story, whether by video, audio or in writing, I regard the competition as the Telegraph, the Times, the FT, and so on, just as much Sky and ITN. And what’s more for much of my output the competition is not just from UK-based organisations with UK audiences. The Wall Street Journal, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post are very much direct rivals.

Also, it is increasingly clear that much of the audience doesn’t care whether they receive their information via the blog, some other internet channel, the TV, newspapers or radio.

Five Ways News Organisations Should Use Twitter
News websites 1990s-style
Robert Peston’s Singular Failure