Daily Telegraph Meets Fail Whale In Case Of The Phantom Twittercrat

Twitter_Fail_WhaleIt was one of the more entertaining tit-for-tats of the week. The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express all ran stories about the government preparing to appoint a £120k-a-year ‘Twittercrat’ to teach it how to use social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Bebo.

Nice story, except it wasn’t true.

In a rebuttal far better written than the original job ad that sparked the row, the Cabinet Office set out five key inaccuracies in the papers’ reporting (“The job title is wrong. Details of the job description are wrong.” etc).

Could the Cabinet Office use those very social media tools to get its message out?

For more read my latest Journalism.co.uk column: A telling tale of the Twittercrat who wasn’t

News websites 1990s-style

Telegraph.co.uk is indulging in some digital nostalgia with its How 20 popular websites looked when they launched piece published this morning.

An enterprising member of the online team has raided the WayBackMachine and dug out screengrabs from big web names including Google, YouTube, Amazon, Drudge and Flickr.

The piece is doing great business on Delicious, Digg and co, although I’m sure that wasn’t the editorial driving force behind it.


Among the news sites featured are the BBC (from 1 December 1998) and the New York Times (from 12 November 1996).

There some aspects of the design and implementation that immediately date these sites. The BBC’s use of the words ‘Front Page’, for example. Presumably that’s so everybody knows they are on the, er, front page.

It’s not quite as big a 1990s sin as the Flash front-door but it’s redundant and wasteful nonetheless.


Over at the New York Times, the direct aping of the newspaper front page – masthead and all – actually holds up quite well, and although the lack of multimedia now seems odd, the use of a large image and grabby headlines stand the test of time.

Compare and contrast with the uninspired copy writing over at the 1998 BBC site.

Nevertheless, there are two print hangovers on the New York Times site that feel anachronistic.

First there’s the use of a ‘Late News Update’ strap over the air crash story – there’s no such thing on the web.

Secondly, there’s the Times’s famous strap line – ‘All The News That’s Fit To Print’.

As we now know, finite space is a thing of the past. Or to borrow Clay Shirky’s phrase: ‘publish, then filter’.

The Independent Adds Video. Why?
What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?
The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns
The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing

What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?


Nothing, surely? It’s the first day of the final, and deciding, Ashes Test and the alliterative Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is making his last test appearance for England.

So why not splash his picture across the front page of the paper?

Well, for a start he may be blonde and grinning but he’s not female – and he’s not holding a mystery envelope.

I was under the impression that on A-level results day it was a constitutional must that the Telegraph carry such a photo. Clearly the Will Lewis revolution continues apace…

Wait a minute, what’s this above the masthead? Phew!





A Year In The Life Of Newspapers
The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?

A Year In The Life Of Newspapers

Two weeks of news-, laptop- and (thanks to my own incompetence) mobile-free living, I return with too many emails to contemplate and far too many items in my RSS reader to countenance.

But somehow this found its way into my consciousness. Made by my The Media Blog colleague Will Sturgeon, it charts the decline of newspaper circulation over a 12 month period – in a minute (well one minute, three second) video.

Putting The Guardian Into The MediaGuardian 100

So to the annual MediaGuardian 100. I guess the clue is in the name. The paper likes to slice and dice entrants in its power list – under 40s, top 10 fallers, top 10 women, you know the kind of thing.

How’s this for size?

1. Carolyn McCall, chief executive, Guardian Media Group
2. Alan Rushbridger, editor, the Guardian
3. Stephen Fry, presenter, writer, actor (and former Guardian Weekend magazine columnist)
4. David Mitchell, actor, writer, presenter (and current Observer columnist)
5. Armando Iannucci, writer, director, producer, performer (and former Observer columnist)
6. Emily Bell, director of digital content, Guardian News & Media

At least they had the good grace to put Will Lewis, editor-in-chief of the paper responsible for the biggest newspaper story of the year, at number 10, a full 25 places above Carolyn McCall.

Elsewhere, here’s one for the digerati – the Top 10 Purely Digital:

1. Sergei Brin and Larry Page, Google
2. Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive, Apple
3. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
4. Evan Williams, Twitter
5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
6. Jason Kilar, Hulu
7. Daniel Ek, Spotify
8. Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
9. Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes blog
10. Richard Moross, moo.com

Old Media Doesn’t Die: Daily Telegraph, Guardian And MPs’ Expenses

A quick plug for my new column for those nice people at Journalism.co.uk.

First up, an assessment of the old and new media coverage of MPs’ expenses a week on from the heavily redacted Parliamentary disclosure.

In essence I argue that these occasionally bitchy arguments between proponents of ‘proper’ journalism and those who champion collaborative journalism are largely bogus:

Nothing demonstrates the laziness of the ‘winners and losers’ legend more than the domestic news story of the year – MPs’ expenses. Here we have seen the best of old and new media, one feeding off the other.

Anyway, you can read it for yourselves here.

This should turn into a regular gig, a weekly look at where media and technology meet. Next week? Who knows. Have a good weekend.

The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing

I began the week reflecting on the BBC’s initiative asking radio listeners to come up with pain-free ways the NHS could save money.

The week ends with an army of Guardian readers sorting and classifying 700,000+ MPs’ expenses documents.

Two examples of old media embracing crowdsourcing and it will be interesting to see how both fair.

From the outside, the Guardian feels inherently more switched on to the potential of outsourcing some of its journalism to the crowd. Continue reading The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing