Sarah Hartley

Archive for the ‘men’ tag

Manchester Evening News goes more local and The Guardian counts Manchester footie fans

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 MEN goes ‘more local’

The Manchester Evening News has changed its edition structure to offer readers two editions for the vast Greater Machester region – north and south.

Explaining the changes, a short posting on Monday says the change will give readers ‘a greater focus on the area where you live.’

This includes a front page dedicated to your area and specific pages inside with all the latest local news and information for where you live.

And it helpfully provided these two screen grabs showing the difference.

Readers were, as ever, quick to comment on the changes and raise the issue of localness.

 Ecclescake noting:

 Theoretically, a brilliant idea and one to be commended. It’s great to see the MEN thinking of new ways to survive.

That said, it seems to me that the only way to really get into the heart of communities is to be there. Properly immerse yourself in the communities. I know that’s easier said than done, particularly with the industry in the pickle it is and the lack of resources available to you.

But if this change means anything, then allow your reporters the time and space to work their patches!

The changes announced yesterday also include a revamp of CityLife, a new column on matters of faith and the old favourite – ‘a trip down memory lane every Monday and Tuesday with pages of photos from yesteryear.’

 

Talking of Manchester…..

The Guardian has released a new way of looking at its ‘most interesting’ content – using algorithms to  measure interestingness by “a number of social signals including; incoming links, shares around social media, view count, editorial selection, number of comments and positive deviation from the norm for an article in its particular section.”

You may well expect the Guardianista’s would be most interested in social issues, Leveson or press freedom but it’s interesting to note just how often northern football stories – particularly both Manchester clubs – pop up in the ‘most interesting’.

Football fans’ online promiscuity is well-known but does that entirely explain what’s happening there?

Now the the once Manchester-based national’s staffing has reduced to just one full time northern based journalist (the newly appointed, hard-working editor Helen Pidd) it’s hard to know what conclusion to draw from that. Does the location of those producing the news actually matter much? Would those figures be even higher with a northern based news and sports desk pounding the beat?

Leeds’ Richard Horsman considers this question in a radio context where news ‘hubs’ have become commonplace over boots on the ground.

Writing at The CultureVulture, ‘So what is ‘Local’ news anyway’  he says:

 The flip side is local knowledge, which tends to dilute across a bigger patch. Woe betide anyone talking to Bradford who pronounces Keighley as ‘keely’ or Allerton as anything other than ‘ollerton’. Old time district reporters are also more likely to recognise the names on the New Year honours list and have some clue why they’ve earned a gong beyond ‘services to education’ or ‘the arts’

 

What do you think? Can maths get the job done or is all this talk of hubs and centralisation doing reader a disservice? Love to hear your views.

Written by sarahhartley

January 8th, 2013 at 8:23 am

MEN reporter V hyperlocals

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Blogging lesson one: Never walk away from a debate

An interesting debate is taking place today on one of the Manchester Evening News blogs. Or more accurately, a debate was started but now the conversation is all of a twitter because the unmoderated comments are sitting in the ether somewhere waiting to be published.

The spark of controversy is David Ottewell’s assertions about hyperlocal news sites;

“Too often, though, these sites disappoint. They end up simply regurgitating press releases, or ripping off stories from local newspapers, because they are one-man bands run by amateurs who don’t have the time, resources, or sometimes skills to dig out the news.

“Often you’ll find the authors of these site blur the lines between news and commentary. Instead of finding exclusives, and dealing with them responsibly (by giving right or reply, say, and checking all facts are correct), they simply put their own heavy spin on other people’s stories. This isn’t ‘doing’ news, hyperlocal or otherwise. It’s commentary. And it is far less valuable. That’s what CP Scott meant when he said “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. Finding the news is hard. Talking about it is easy.”

Provocative stuff and one that I didn’t want to let lie unchallenged so I responded an hour ago to say;

“Well done on voicing support for the Salford Star David, hopefully the MEN will follow the story through and give it some support too. However, your (probably) link bait assertion about what hyperlocal sites do ‘too often’ shouldn’t be left unchallenged. There’s heaps of sites up and down the country doing the sort of scrutiny you should applaud and unearthing stories of genuine importance to their communities – and that’s the point ‘their communities’. Maybe those stories don’t appeal to your professionalised view of journalism? I know not. Rather than generalise about these sites, perhaps some credit where it’s due and then name names if you have examples where churnalism is going on rather than tarring everyone with the same brush.”

And this is what I’m still seeing;

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

It’s very possible and reasonable that David’s just stepped outside on his day off  – perhaps he could leave a message to say so. But now the twitterati is somewhat indignant at having the opportunity for response closed off. Only it’s not. Ooops……….

(btw, any delays in posting comments on this blog will be caused by me driving home so don’t say you’ve not been warned!)

Written by sarahhartley

June 18th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Comment’s free, but not always easy

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It was interesting to read that the Leicester Mercury has decided to stop pre-moderating comments submitted to its website.

Update: Following the comment received below I can confirm that the moderation previously carried out at Leicester was post publication.

HoldTheFrontPage reported how Leicester Mercury editor Keith Perch explained the new policy to readers in a post on his blog.

“We hope that forcing people to register will encourage them to join in constructive conversation rather than the abusive slanging matches which so often seem to dominate the ‘discussion’.”

It’s a comment which surprised me for two reasons.

Firstly, I had previously believed that the only sizeable newspaper to still indulge in pre-moderation is (previous employer) the Manchester Evening News, and secondly, the view that abusive slanging matches dominate, is something at odds with my experience of newspaper website moderation.

I can only guess at what led Leicester down the route of pre-moderating for so many years, could it be for similar reasons, and fears, that the MEN’s senior management appear to have persisted with pre-moderation i.e. a belief that the comment is a publication (rather than a conversation) and a desire to control representation? (As an aside it will be interesting to see what view new owners Trinity Mirror make of this stance.)

Or maybe the Leicester readers were particularly fighty…..I wouldn’t know, but in my experience the good comments (i.e. constructive, on topic and informed) have always outweighed the bad.
So it was reassuring to see the Washington Post’s Andrew Alexandra’s thoughts on the topic;

“For every noxious comment, many more are astute and stimulating. Anonymity provides necessary protection for serious commenters whose jobs or personal circumstances preclude identifying themselves. And even belligerent anonymous comments often reflect genuine passion that should be heard.”

Alexandra goes on to outline a new system being introduced at WP which allows everyone their say, but groups some of the more inflammatory individuals together as an optional extra which readers can choose to be subjected to if they wish. Saying;

“I like the approach because it doesn’t limit speech. Anonymous loudmouths can still shout. But “trusted commenters” will be easier to hear.”

Yes, comment maybe free……… but doesn’t have to be a free-for-all.

Written by sarahhartley

April 5th, 2010 at 10:27 am

Former MEN journalist launches SellThatStory.com

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Former MEN journalist John Jeffay has launched an online venture to help people turn their stories into cash.

The Manchester-based ex-syndication editor has teamed up with columnist Angela Epstein to launch SellThatStory.com.

I caught up with John and asked him what the market was for a service like this;

“There is an insatiable appetite for “true life” stories. Look at the racks of weekly women’s magazines and you’ll get some idea of the demand. They all need a constant supply of ordinary people talking about their extraordinary experiences. At www.sellthatstory.com we provide people with a straightforward way to tell and sell.

“Yes, there’s money to be made, but often that’s not the sole motive. People may want to re-live an experience for many reasons: gratitude, revenge, as a warning to others, or simply because they want their moment of fame.”

The service reminded me a little of the, sadly now defunct, Scoopt.com which offered people cash to sell images to newspapers and magazines – but John says there are important differences;

“Scoopt was very much a thing of the moment. It attempted to cash in on the citizen journalism idea that anyone with a camera and the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time could sell their pictures. The demand was limited. It failed.

“What we’re doing capitalises on a well-established market, with an almost unlimited demand. A dozen or more titles want true life stories week in, week out. And they need professional journalists to do the interviewing and writing.”

And the fee? Just how much cash is on offer for a punter who’s media-savvy enough to know they’ve got a story to sell?

“As with everything in life, it’s negotiable. But we pride ourselves on offering a good split, rather than a lump sum. So when there’s a bidding situation between rival titles, as the price goes up, so does the amount the client receives.”

Throughout the site, the pair take pains to point out that the service being offered is not PR – more of a brokerage service. So no aspiration to be Manchester’s answer to Max Clifford then?

“I think we’re unlikely to follow in Max Clifford’s footsteps. We are a news agency, finding and writing stories for magazines. PR, certainly the sort that’s made Max Clifford famous, is about managing the reputations of the rich and famous or those who suddenly find themselves caught in the full glare of the media spotlight.”

Written by sarahhartley

March 24th, 2010 at 9:46 am

2009: A year of turmoil for Manchester media

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Community reporters at work in Salford in 2009

There can be no doubt that 2009 has been a year of turmoil with plenty of surprises, some shocks – and a few treats as well – for media folk in Manchester.

As we bid it farewell and look forward to 2010, I’vestarted putting together this timeline with some of the events which came across my radar during the past 12 months.

TIMELINE. 2009: Manchester Media

Perhaps predictably for me, the comings and goings at MEN Media as well as the ongoing emergence of the Media City with all the hopes the BBC move brings for the city, have been constant themes running throughout the year.

But there’s also been the ongoing successes of digital media fixtures such as the Big Chip in its 11th year and the Manchester Blog Awards in its fourth year, as well as relative newcomers Social Media Cafe Manchester marking its first anniversary.

It’s not as detailed in some months as I’d like it to be (mainly because I’ve worked away from the city at points during the year) but it’s an attempt to keep a record for the future, so, if you’ve got anything to add, please drop me a link to include.

And here’s to 2010!

Written by sarahhartley

December 28th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

links for 2009-05-02

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  • “It looks like we happen to be lucky enough to be seeing the death of the newspaper age up close and personal. It’ll be painful for a while as journalism reconfigures itself for the new world order. But how this happens, what new forms emerge, and whether we as consumers of news will ultimately benefit remains very much to be seen.” Kate Feld’s take on recent events.

Written by sarahhartley

May 2nd, 2009 at 8:03 pm

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It’s goodbye to the Manchester Evening News

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This morning, for the first time in 20 years, I woke up without having a regional newsroom to go to.

I don’t ‘belong’ to a newspaper, I’m not ‘from’ anywhere, because yesterday, in a scene being played out up and down the country, I packed my desk, handed back my laptop and said my goodbyes.

It prompts an indescribably strange set of emotions – on the one hand  I have a very exciting project lined up (more to come on that in future posts) but almost eight years at the MEN means there’s a lot to leave behind too.

So before I move on, a brief backward glance.

What amazing changes there’s been since I signed up to be what was then Guardian Media Group Regional Digital’s content editor/publisher for “the regional portal ManchesterOnline”. It’s difficult to pull out just one highlight from those years (the 2002 hyperlocal community platform myManchesterOnline maybe?) but unavoidable not to notice the talented journalists who passed through  – Iain Hepburn (just named Scottish Multimedia Journalist of the Year), Paul Cockerton (now web editor at the LET), Jon Barbuti (now BEEB) Lizzie Simmons (also now BBC) and Colm Griffith (now lecturing in online journalism at UCLAN) to name a few who helped make MOL such a buzz but have since moved on.

The move to the MEN in 2005 saw one of my first jobs as head of online editorial being the launch of the paper’s first website. Yes, it is hard to believe now that a newspaper of that the size and stature could exist without its own website!
Those outside the industry probably think website launches are high-tech affairs with banks of silver-clad techies tapping away at Macs. Well the walls of the now demolished Hardman Street office told another story of how it started – scribblings on pieces of paper taped on every available space in the boss’s office leaving it looking like the ramblings of a demented woman! The screenshot on this page is the 2006 evolution of the site – still recognisable?men_final_visual
The site being named Best Electronic News Website ahead of some major nataional players in 2007, was its own reward for all those involved in the launch, journalists, developers, designers et all – it was quite a team and a honour to be a part of it.

Recently, the most rewarding project to have worked on is the launch of the blogging platform generally and, in particular, The Mancunian Way blog.

A collaboration between myself and two prominent members of Manchester’s digital community – Paul Robinson and Adrian Slatcher -  and I would just like to publicly add what a privilege it has been to co-blog with such enthusiastic, supportive, knowledgeable and generally top blokes.

So there it is – eight years in a few hundred words and what next?

An exciting new web project to launch in June but, for now, a bit of a break, plenty of blogging and a month of general geekery starting with next week’s Jeecamp. How about you?

Written by sarahhartley

May 1st, 2009 at 9:18 am

UK journalists using Twitter

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buzbyI was interested to see PR Blogger’s post identifying which British journos are using Twitter (as individuals rather than a company news feed).

It’s great to have this as a sort of directory so people can track down a particular individual’s activity so I hope it continues to grow.

A couple of things struck me about the list;

* There seems to be a bit of a north-south divide. Just a few of us as far north as Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire but what about the rest of England and the Scots?

* Among the nationals, is tweeting a broadsheet only activity? Are there any red-top colleagues using Twitter?

If the micro-blogging platform continues to grow in popularity as fast as it has been to date, then they’ll soon need a whole database to cope with a directory.

Perhaps twitter names will be as commonplace as a phone number one day and there will be a 118 number to call to get people’s Twitter names with the original networked bird Buzby as its mascot.

(btw, the image on this page was borrowed from dirtymartini.wordpress.com/2008/02/ who used it alongside a posting on how phone technology has changed. S/he quite rightly also pointed out that no-one under 25 would understand what this yellow bird was all about so, if you fall into that age-group, apologies.)

Written by sarahhartley

November 8th, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Dublin: The travelogue

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Overview: At a total travel time of about four hours from Manchester, Dublin’s another capital of culture on the doorstep – and you don’t have to be getting married in the morning to try it out for size.

Stayed at: The Morgan 10 Fleet st, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Superstylish. The picture above is the slipper bath within a hugh bedroom. Good location for sightseeing, great cocktails – try the Champagne with raspberry and Schnapps for the ultimate girly style in the city tipple.

Ate at: The unassuming 101Talbot where the food was good although the ambience was busy, busy and FXB in the heart of trendy Temple Bar. This steak and seafood restaurant is just feet from the heaving main street entertainment and proved to be bustling but sophisticated with a menu of ethically sourced produce and an interesting specials board.

Travelled with; Stena Line which operates the fastcraft from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire. And it is fast – less than two hours. A very comfortable crossing, complimentary refreshments in the pre-booked lounge plus internet access.

Visited: Hugh Lane Gallery with its important city collection and the Irish Museum of Modern Art with its extensive gardens and sculpture such as the amusing elephant above.

Must-see: The Julian Opie walking installations – also pictured above. See video via the link below for an idea but they’re even better close-up.

Julian Opie – Dublin
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Can do without: Cheesey commentary on the bus tours. Good tours but groaningly bad everyone’s-an-Irish-comedian jokes.

Full review: Published in the print editions of the Manchester Evening News on Saturday, September 6.

Trip funded by: Stena Line provided the travel, The Morgan the accommodation. Food and trips, self-funded.

Got more to add about Dublin? Feel free add links and/or comments below or see Dublin Travel guides for more.

Written by sarahhartley

September 4th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Update to slideshow

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I’ve updated the slideshow on UK local/regional newspaper activity to include a few GMG initiatives.

They are ( to save you trawling through the presentation again) the use of Twitter in a campaign mix for the M.E.N’s Save Sven campaign, the use of video and UGC in the Reading Evening Post’s Keepy Uppy campaign, the use of interactive maps at both the Rochdale Observer (fuel prices) and the M.E.N for traffic problems.

I’m sure there’s more to come but in the meantime, thanks very much to all those who’ve contributed so far. There’s been a lot of really interesting points made and it’s great to hear about the exciting inititiaves going on around our industry.

Written by sarahhartley

May 26th, 2008 at 4:33 pm