Quality online

Chris Horrie has done lots of stuff around journalism, writing and lecturing, and he’s also a writer of books including “Stick it up your punter!”.

He predicts journalism will become an all female professional based on the evidence of the students coming through his post graduate journalism course at the University of Westminster – 70% female at least. And he is now considering abolishing the twin tracks of print and broadcast in favour of one multi-media track.

He demonstrates tools like Wordtracker to determine what key words works best for which audience group.

Chris urged B2B companies to be more visible in the colleges in order to help attract more people into business journalism.

Quote: “All you need to work for Heat magazine is a powerful camera, a blackbelt in Karate and a motorbike”.

“A story is a story no matter what the medium may be”

“Old fashioned TV news was over produced”. Modern technology allows for much more immediate journalism.

Martini Journalism

Peter Knowles, from BT, (right) says 70% of staff can work everywhere – what he calls “location based”. 40-50% of the time desks are empty – desk sharing or hotdesking can improve utilisation of property. Each desk costs on average £9k per year. BT’s view was that every job was to be a home working job unless it was business justified. Technology used to support this includes: virtual number, desk and chair supplied and supported, central support for stationery ordering delivered to home etc. Now the sales pitch: BT having done this to themselves are now selling management services to companies like us…

Noel O’Reilly talked about his year working remotely in Barcelona and stressed the personal motivation to do it and the risks of 24 by 7 access.

RSS at the Register

Drew Cullen editor in chief of the Register says 300,000 readers come in through RSS, partly driven by good naming conventions (story links read back to normal URLs). 15,000 come from Bloglines, reading 6 or 7 pages each, compared to average 11 or 12 pages for mainstream readers. The home page is now only 17% of traffic.

He says print weeklies make a classic mistake of holding back stories for the web. He say, just publish – because someone else will.

“Spam has killed newsletters”. Advertising with RSS is the next big thing, he says.

Angus Bankes, founder and CTO of Moreover, suggests we should all to move to full content feeds and then use advertising to monetise it. He also says the field is very important and often under-used.

Drew says “the blogging debate is very much an American debate – journalists in the States are thorough but boy are they boring“. This is what has created the fertile ground for blogs.

Content Licensing

Sue Shimmin shares some impressive figures about licensing growth in RBI. Web content is a very low percentage of what is licensed and as it is a very easy format this looks an obvious area for growth. She pointed to Information Week’s “license this” link as a good example of how technology can help.

David Shepherd talks about our highly successful content site, Xpert HR. It’s success, he says, is that it is designed for the web, constantly updated and backed by a powerful taxonomy. Interestingly the editorial team is modelled on book publishing with individual editors responsible for their own areas with no separate subs etc.

Trevor Goodman presents on a very interesting new product idea in the public sector which is currently in its secret research stage. If it comes off, it will revolutionise a sector.

Iain Melville pointed out PaidContent.org as a good resource

Analysis, Attitude and Arsiness…

…or “Putting personality back into Online Publishing” is the title of Mike Butcher’s presentation. Mike was a former editor of New Media Age and The Industry Standard and has a view that mainstream publishers have in some way lost connection with their readers in a way that blogs are starting to do. He says humour, irony, sarcasm, honesty, transparency and personality are the keys. These things don’t tend to map on what business journalists do. Personality is important but, he pleads … No pictures of cats!

This type of writing (blogging) is immediate and requires little formal editing. “Undesign” is a central notion – strip away the style in favour of the content. These are the themes …highly opionated…fast “raw” impressions…stand-up comedy…colour…tabloid (yes and no).

Some sites with character: The Inquirer, The Register, Gawker. They have in common.. quiryness, character. And they work, as the traffic shows.

He is enthusiastic about Podcasts – because they can be downloaded – but not webcasts (web TV) for the same reason although he thinks it will work in niches (although there is a skill gap issue).

Organising paper and web teams

Chaired by Andrew Rogers,the session sets out to debate the best way of organising for online publishing: a dedicated team or using one team to do both.

Damian Carrington, online editor of New Scientist, set out the key questions for organising editorial teams around innovation, focus, work culture, product type, rivalry, efficiency, cost, staff development and retention and secondments and “virtual reporters”.

Jane King Editor of Farmers Weekly, puts the case for integrated teams. She says it is “utter madness” not to use the talent we already have on our teams. The key is developing a fluid and flexible approach and it’s all about leadership. She says there are dangers in having staff who only do one thing – “one trick ponies”. And there are real benefits in having “joined up thinking” which suits the readers/users better and avoids “wasteful competition”. Past evidence shows when we split teams we have “lost the plot”, she says.

Kieran Daly, group editor of Flight Group fights back. “Look at this from the competitor’s point of view” he says. When we already have a starting point in the form of a large, legacy product we have a problem, he says. Cannibalisation becomes a major worry which a competitor doesn’t care about. It’s a full time job concentrating on the e-products with freedom to develop without worrying about our print business. You want people who are obsessive and can implement, even if they have occasional failures. They need to understand conceptually how the emarket is working. Understanding the dynamics of this are too complicated and fast-moving to leave in the hands of people who are doing other things. If you have a day job running a print magazine “it’s just not going to happen”, he says. And the irony is that these experts can produce “stacks of content” which can go back into the magazine and very little cost. The more we put in, the more serious money we will make. Working “off the side of a desk” won’t work.

From the floor Rob Willock asks whether there isn’t a middle ground where you can have product champions leading integrated teams.

A vote from the floor goes slightly in favour of Jane’s argument for combined teams.