Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Archive for July 2007

I’ve got a new job at the Guardian

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I’m pleased and excited to report that in August, I’ll be Head of Video at the Guardian.

The Guardian is one of those publishers that I’ve admired for a long time.  They were the first newspaper to embrace the web in same way the BBC did and they clearly understand and have a strategy for the changes which are being forced upon the whole industry.

This is a new role, (together with a Head of Audio, in the scarily capable form of Matt Wells, currently Editor of Media Guardian) and means that the Guardian will be virtually alone as a national publisher in having its own dedicated video production effort.

The offices here at the Guardian and the Observer are from what I’ve already seen, packed with smart, creative and talented people.  That’s a great resource to be starting from.

We are not going to produce multimedia stories in the same way other newspapers have, but we’re not going to go down the road of making television either.

There’s so much which is distinctive about Guardian journalism, particularly an emphasis on international stories which other organisations don’t or can’t devote time to.  But this is not just about reflecting daily news, to retain and grow audiences we also need to stimulate and entertain too.

Feature material and the absorbing articles you find in the G2 section give great examples. Here’s a particularly memorable feature for me which is precisely the kind of thing which would make a marvellous multi-media report.

This is far more difficult and time-consuming to do when you add video to the mix.  In these days of user-generated content and every phone also being a video camera there’s the thought that anyone can make video, that it’s as easy as poking a fire.

It isn’t, and for the last 5 years if you’ve heard me in seminars or conferences, I’ve always included this fact : Craft skill will always trump mere access to tools.

A trained professional is always going to produce something better than a lucky by-stander.  Training and knowledge management for journalists isn’t superfluous when supposedly anyone can be a newsgatherer, it becomes far more important.

Regular readers of this weblog might have noticed a pronounced drop-off in the number/quality/length of posts in the last couple on months, my apologies but there’s been rather a lot on, and now you know what a large part of it was!

This may mean a subtle shift in focus in what I write about here, but I haven’t thought about what it might be yet.  So, for now, forward!


Written by Robert

11 July, 2007 at 11:31 am

Posted in General, Newspapers

Backfence didn’t make it

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At the beginning of the year we had the warnings, and the site had posted notices that it will shut down “in the next few days”.

Peter Krasilovsky’s noted that the site’s legacy may be that it pushed local newspapers into adjusting to hyper-local communities.

Scott Karp argues that there were already other, better sites out there which made Backfence irrelevant.

But there are other competitors to Backfence. Topix has had a big marketing blitz in the US recently.

Written by Robert

7 July, 2007 at 1:06 am

Posted in Business

News International to leave Wapping?

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The FT thinks so.

And in case that link dies, here’s AAP’s version, via the (Murdoch rival, Fairfax’s) Sydney Morning Herald.

As is the case with recent relocations such as the New York Times and the Daily Telegraph, this is doubtless another chance to adjust the working practice of Murdoch’s London newspapers.

I just hope it won’t be as violent as last time.

Written by Robert

6 July, 2007 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Business, Newspapers

Truly viral – Simpsons avatar generator

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I’m surprised and amused over the number of people I know on Facebook who have replaced their profile pictures with a custom Simpsons avatar.

It’s a brilliant gimmick to publicise the upcoming Simpsons film, and you can get one by following this link.

The show’s been on for over a decade and remains popular all over the world, we ‘get it’ because we’re all drawing on that shared experience. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t watched The Simpsons at some point.

But I wonder if we’re the last generation who are able to do this on such a scale. Given the fragmentation of audiences, is there less likelihood of a critical mass of people to give a viral campaign like this enough scale, for it to mean enough, to enough of the population to make them want to participate?

In the meantime, I haven’t yet changed my profile picture to a cartoon me yet, but I still might.

My Simpsons avatar

Written by Robert

5 July, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Fun, General