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Paywall – Good or bad?

I’m sure all of you have heard that the newspaper industry is dying. People are reading less because of all the distractions there are today and with all the technology out there it more likely that a person on the train will pick up his brand new IPhone 5 and play a game rather than to grab the free newspaper lying lonely on the seat next to him. The Guardian has said that their newspaper industries will be shut down within the next 15 years. This is not news. What could be news though is “Paywall”. This I’m not sure that all of you have heard of.

The idea is to start charging people, who want to read newspapers or other journalism online, in order to make money and continue contributing with news and quality journalism to the world. A few news websites are already using this new system, and some have been successful, some have not.

Currently, two alternatives are being discussed (every website will choose their own path of course). The first suggestion is that in order to access a news website for example, you will have to set up a subscription to the site. Otherwise you will not be able to access it at all. The cost could be about £3 per month or something like that. The other suggestion is that some of the content on the website is free, while to gain access to the whole website you will need to pay a subscription.

Bill Mitchell, Head of Entrepreneurial and International Programs at the Poynter Institute, thinks that the second suggestion is the slightly better one.

Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell

“I think the so-called “leaky-wall” is the best bet as opposed to a hard wall. With an emerging business like this, flexibility is really critical and the metered or ‘leaky’ wall enables flexibility across many fronts. It enables the publisher to shape the terms of the two fundamental experiences that it offers to its customers: the paid experience and the free experience,” he said.

According to a recent investigation that was made by the New York Times, an amount of only 5% is willing to pay if Paywall activates. In my opinion this is just something people are saying right now because they perhaps think that they can convince the papers NOT to do this. But when online websites start to activate Paywalls I still think people will start paying to read the content.

How about advertisements? Will they disappear if the websites go through with this? Bill Mitchell shares his thoughts: “No, I think that one has a pretty simple answer. As promising as the meter has been in generating additional revenue it doesn’t begin to replace the revenue that a combination of traditional print subscriptions and various forms of advertising have generated in the past. But I think that revenue is going to be an important part of what will emerge as a much more diffuse hybrid revenue strategy for news organisations.”

If you ask me, in order to get people to pay money to access the same content that used to be free, it really needs an improvement. Loose some of the ads, make the site neater and bring in some really high quality journalism. For people to pay – there has to be some kind of difference, or they will feel really dumb paying… On the Times’ Paywall






Stuart James – about technology in journalism

We were given this assessment in school in which we were to find and interview a professional journalist on the topic of ‘using technology for journalism’. As I want to go in to football journalism (at least as it seems now), I wanted to find a sports journalist who covered football games. And luckily I did!

Stuart James, who works as a football reporter for The Guardian and The Observer, did not just accept the interview, but he also invited me to come and watch the game between Aston Villa and Stoke in Birmingham with him as he was going there anyway to report. Therefore I’ve shot the interview from the stadium, to kind of send out a message that sport journalism is my “thing”.

As a football reporter, you are constantly surrounded by technology and as Stuart says: “Embrace technology” is really important. You cannot be resistant to it when working in this business and as technology evolves, journalists must keep up as well to be able to continue doing their job well.

Stuart tells us that his laptop is the most essential and important technology device that he owns for his job.

“If I’ve left that at home then I have problems,” he said. He needs to constantly be connected online and send reports, receive information etc via his laptop in order for him to do his job properly. He explains that he also has a dongo which he can plug in to his laptop if there is not a WiFi connection so that he can still get online.

Even though Stuart is surrounded by all this technology like his laptop and his Blackberry, he is still missing one thing.

“If I could invent one thing, I know definitely what this would be. When I’ve done interviews it takes me a long time to transcribe afterwards, typing up all the words and sometimes it might be an hour or an hour and a half interviews. So with the speed I type, and the speed people talk, it could take me maybe three hours. I wish there was some technology so that I could put my dictaphone in to my computer and then all the words would appear on the screen.”

I think this is an interesting thought. I thought actually that this kind of stuff already existed somehow. I do not know why but I find it kind of strange that with today’s technology we’re still missing stuff like that. We can send people to the moon and explore Mars but journalists have to write everything someone else says, like in an interview, with their bare hands. And as Stuart says, it could be really hard to keep up.

I was thinking to myself, after reviewing the day at the ground with him, how it would have been if I got there and we could not use any technology at all. That means I would have walked in to the ‘press lounge’ and just met a few journalists. The TVs hanging on the walls showing the “pre-game-talk” would not be there informing us on what is happening before the game. The headsets to hear the commentators or the small TV machines at the press box would not be there as well, making it harder gather information or see details if something happens. And not to even mention using a pen and paper to write down reports during the game and the interviews with the players after the game. We are so spoiled today…

Conrad Quilty-Harper talks about ‘data and visualisation tools’ for journalists at Kingston University

The week after Claire Miller gave her inspiring speech we had another speaker at our school (not quite a chock actually since we have a new speaker every Wednesday) called Conrad Quilty-Harper who is The Telegraph’s Interactive News Editor. He came to talk about data and visualisation tools.

Conrad Quilty-Harper

Conrad Quilty-Harper

What I snapped up mostly from this lecture was “how to” read maps that shows data information and that you could, with just one map, get dozens of stories.The issue though, that at least I thought about, with this is that it sounded like it could be a bit tricky to get the correct information every time. I like one example that Conrad mentioned during the lecture.

He said something like: “Let’s say you’re looking at data information showing a picture of a beach and you have diagrams and maps on the sides of the beach saying that vanilla ice cream is selling better than ever. You can also see that the number of shark attacks is higher than ever during the same period of time. Does that mean that the sale of vanilla ice creams and shark attacks are linked together and complement each other?”

Well I guess you don’t have to be a brain surgeon do figure that answer out – no. Even though this was an easy example of something not being connected together, I thought that there had to be something, sometimes, that is harder to figure out whether it has some kind of connection or not.

Imagine yourself looking at diagrams and maps, which show that crime went up just as BMW introduced a new car model for sale, and it has been the same for the last seven years. Does that mean that car thieves and criminals are more likely to strike when people have brand new expensive cars? Or is the crime linked to something totally different that you have missed?

Claire Miller talks about ‘data journalism’ at Kingston University

A while ago, Claire Miller, who is a reporter at Media Wales, came to Kingston University to give our journalism class a one-hour speech about ‘data journalism’.

Claire Miller

Claire Miller

As I had never heard about this before, I really sharpened my ears and got excited. My excitement didn’t last for long though, as I discovered that data journalism is in fact everywhere and used frequently and nothing too special at all. Put simply, as the hyperlink above says as well, it is journalism put together using data.

This got me thinking though about the differences between “ordinary journalism” (which to me is something like: get a tip about a guy with a story, go meet him for a coffee, get a story, gather facts, put in print) and data journalism. To me it seems like a journalist using data could more or less choose what to put in context and what to write about – that is in the end going to be published and read by thousands of people. While in “ordinary journalism” you are more or less forced to write about what is right in front of you right now.

If something terrible is happening in a country somewhere, like a war or such, you are actually forced to write about that. That is what you do, that is journalism. Meanwhile, there is data journalist somewhere gathering information about whatever he wants, personally. It could be that crime rate’s gone up, that there’ve been 20% more shark attacks the last year compared to the year before or that AIDS in Africa’s gone up by 10% over the last five years.

So what happens when journalism is on top of the canyon ready to fall? Data journalism steps in and saves the day – because there is always something out there to make a story of using data.


New Apple releases


As you might already have heard, Apple held a “mini event” last Tuesday, on which they introduced several new technology gadgets. I had the pleasure to watch this event via a stream through their website, Since this was the first Apple event ever being streamed live on the internet, it was quite a big deal.

Apple started off by introducing several new computers. First one to be announced was the new MacBook Pro 13″ with retina display – a dream come true for movie editors, photographers and people in general who would like to experience the high resolution that this screen provides.

Next in line was the new iMac. The most perfect all-in-one computer ever made, especially designed to be thin, yet extremely powerful to fit both professional and average users.

The last thing that Apple announced that really interested me, was the new iPad Mini. With a retina screen of just 7.9″ and a A5 chip it is truly remarkable. This little device – along with all the others described above – could come in great hand for any journalist.

My wallet is probably going to hate me the next following months..

MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina Display

iMac 21.5″/27″

Ipad Mini