Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Archive for September, 2009

links for 2009-09-29

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  • Squidoo decide which brand’s conversation they are going to “hijack” and create a page which pulls in mentions of that brand as well as provide various on-page means for the public to respond to polls and questions about specific aspects of that brand.

    For only $400, brands can then buy that page off Squidoo to grant them ownership of it and ensure that they can respond and better manage the content on that page (and, one assumes, customise, the on-page questions etc.)

  • Good local reporting will always find an audience whether it’s online or in print, it is this that they no longer do. And it is this that makes them not only obsolete but also largely worthless.

    The argument that plurality of media is central to the functioning of a democratic society is a cornerstone of media theory. But should it really be applied to defend some of the newspapers we see going under? The defence of plurality is often churned out despite the fact that the newspapers in question aren’t any good. Too often in our local rags we see press-releases rewritten and fashioned into an imitation of news. There is too little actual journalism and too little writing that challenges those in local government.

  • “Objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. And then foolishness. Why should we trust what one person — with the best of intentions — insists is true when we instead could have a web of evidence, ideas, and argument?”

Written by sarahhartley

September 29th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Journalist as gatekeeper: Is that all there is?


Gatekeeping. This has to be the most (over) used description of what a journalist does that I’m hearing at the moment – gatekeeping. Conferences, blog posts, conversations……the G-word never seems too far away.

Even wikipedia accepts its connection to journalism:

“In human communication, in particular, in journalism, gatekeeping is the process through which ideas and information are filtered for publication. The internal decision making process of relaying or withholding information from the media to the masses.”

It’s cosy isn’t it? We, the journalists, can decide what’s good for you, the reader. Phew, we have a great and valued skill to bring to the world.

But there’s also something that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable about it, maybe it’s a bit complacent and assumptive which got me thinking about who keeps the gate for me, or how I gatekeep for my own sanity.

First there’s the things I don’t want to be subjected to – porn, gambling, material of a an abusive or corrupting nature. Largely I depend on software to keep these the other side of the gate and, largely, that’s successful.

Then there’s the things I want to find out about and for that I rely on my social network (Twitter, Facebook, Delicious), RSS subscriptions, Google alerts for certain subjects with some added serendipity via newspapers/magazines.

So yes, there are some journalist gatekeepers in here – the newspapers being the strongest of those examples – but, valuable though that activity can be, doesn’t this gatekeeping rather undersell what a journalist can bring to the world?

I think we’ve got a whole lot more to offer, skills which could be shared or put to good use in the new order that’s forming.

Just today a blogger within my Twitter network wanted to know where to turn for some libel advice – well a professional journalist friend might be a good start. All that legal training and practical experience could provide a repository of help to those writers and publishers coming from different backgrounds.

Then there’s fact-checking rigour, knowing where to go for information sources, an understanding of the institutions of public administration just to mention a few of the skills which we perhaps undersell in this gatekeeper/censor view of the world.

I’d be interested to hear from other journalists on this – what do you think is your most valuable attribute and how is it best utilised?

Written by sarahhartley

September 29th, 2009 at 10:35 am

links for 2009-09-28

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  • What next? The Media Trust offered to convene another workshop, and Talk About Local have an unconference in Stoke on October 3, which is a must. Amy and I hope the local communities site could be a neutral space for all interested in local social tech to share experience, resources, ideas. Can progammes share a virtual space, as well as a physical one? Talk About Local have led the way with a group on the site, so I’m hopeful
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  • Rather than keep those insights and information entirely to yourself, or share it only in private e-mail or conversation (where, face it, you’ll probably forget about it and its value will vanish into the ether), take a moment to jot it into a quick short post. Just a sentence or two, even. Make blogging your new capture process. Or even microblogging, like Twitter, Friendfeed, Tumblr,, Delicious, Flickr, or Posterous — all of which can integrate with most blogging platforms, making it easy to keep your blog fresh.

    There’s no need to flesh it out fully or get every fact or angle nailed down. You’re not writing an article. You can always follow up more later. And the best part is, when you make this a habit it actually becomes much easier to find all that cool stuff that passes through your head and your life!

  • "You can't really flick through the magazine, because the 4-page insert that includes the video screen is relatively bulky.

    "And when you do open up the relevant page, the actual advert takes several seconds to load and play and that's a lifetime's lag in the advertiser's world," he added.

  • UnTweeps uses the Twitter API to unfollow selected people you are following. Logging into UnTweeps is safe because we use Twitter's login system which then allows UnTweeps to do its thing on your behalf.

    After logging in, enter the number of days in the past you want to check. If you enter 30, then anyone who hasn't updated their Twitter status (tweeted) in the past 30 days will be shown on a list.

    The users in the list that have a check mark in the checkbox are the ones you want to unfollow.

Written by sarahhartley

September 28th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

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links for 2009-09-27

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Written by sarahhartley

September 27th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

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links for 2009-09-26

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Written by sarahhartley

September 26th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

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links for 2009-09-24

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Written by sarahhartley

September 24th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

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links for 2009-09-23

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  • # f we were a local newspaper, the editorial and op-ed pages would publish the best of, and be a guide to, the conversation the community was having with itself online and in other public forums, whether hosted by the news organization or someone else. Our website would link to a variety of commentary from the usual suspects, but syndicated columns would almost never appear in the print edition.
    # Editorials would appear in blog format, as would letters to the editor.
  • One defining characteristic of the project is its bottom-up character — allowing an army of volunteer reporters to individually determine what is and is not news. Another is its funding. The Rapidian procured multi-year grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, among others. It won't operate through commercial sponsorship.

    The Rapidian is not intended to compete with established local media. Much content produced on the site will be available to news outlets for use in their own publications and broadcasts. The Rapidian will be hyper-local, focusing entirely on news within the Grand Rapids city limits. Eventually, The Rapidian hopes to establish bureaus in each quadrant of the city.

  • Any tweet that presumes that the rest of the internet noticed or cared about your "off grid" sabbatical sounds conceited. We weren't just chatting amongst ourselves waiting for you to come back. The same rule applies to any tweets – such as "so it's finally here" – that presume universal internet anticipation of your new project.
  • Their postcode based pilot in Teeside was hailed as a success with "200 bloggers writing for free", although Neil later acknowledged that "we find it harder to work with community groups and small local organisations."

    Why? Because, he said, "we are hard to work with".

  • But the all-important question is: how much would they be prepared to pay? Answer: as close to nothing as they can get away with…

    When asked the maximum amount they would be prepared to pay, respondents who read a free news site at least once a month gave us the lowest possible amount in each category – annual subscriptions under £10, a day pass costing under £0.25 and per-article fees of between 1p and 2p.

  • wonders how will monitor and police misuse of the videos – if abuse was extensive. Or how they decide who is commercial and who is not? If, as the Syndication people tell us, ‘on this occasion are not offering this video for web syndication’ why bother supplying it at all? Isn’t that just asking for trouble?

Written by sarahhartley

September 23rd, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Applying the socially useless test to journalism


Socially useless. Now there’s a phrase destined for great things!

It emerged this morning in a description of the banking system from Lord Turner and faces an illustrious future as a soundbite, being one of those expressions which so accurately and straightforwardly expresses a concept.

Like ‘fit for purpose’ before it, ‘socially useless’ has a precision which suggests it might have escaped from the dictionary of military terms to move into common usage.

But could it travel to consider other areas of society – like journalism perhaps? How would that stack up against a socially useless measure?

What is useful to society about what we do everyday?

There will be some easier to spot than others – into ‘useful’ goes investigations into corruption, reporting from local institutions, medical advances and global issues for instance.

Out into the ‘useless’ pile goes status updates on z-listers cellulite, footballers’ sexual preferences and stories about what people wear on the school run.

It’s looking good so far as a test to avoid being the new bankers.

Written by sarahhartley

September 23rd, 2009 at 10:39 am

links for 2009-09-22

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  • Ofcom has a duty to report and make recommendations to the Secretary of State at least every three years on the operation of the media ownership rules, which include rules relating to local media ownership. In a separate report published in July, we have consulted on the liberalisation of the local media ownership rules, prior to making our recommendations to the Secretary of State later in the year.
  • The following list of citizen journalism websites illustrates some of the efforts underway to develop new forms of inclusive, participatory journalism
  • When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse. This shunting aside of the realists in favor of the fabulists has different effects on different industries at different times. One of the effects on the newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away.

Written by sarahhartley

September 22nd, 2009 at 8:02 pm

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links for 2009-09-21

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Written by sarahhartley

September 21st, 2009 at 8:03 pm

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