*Clowns R Us?

I’m thinking of becoming a clown instead of a journalist. Yes, you did hear me correctly!

Why? Because journalists are expected to be able to juggle so many balls these days including:
1) Old school journalistic writing
2) Web design
3) Filming with cameras and video phones
4) Increase user generated content contributions but be able to spot fake photos and stories.

I’m sure the best clown in the circus couldn’t juggle all of these. But, amazingly, have to manage them. Good old multi-tasking huh?

I felt I could relate to the online speaker today. Sarah Radford was a diploma student here at Cardiff. She’s a young woman at the beginning of her career but with a passion to be a journalist. It was an opportunity to see where we could be this time next year. Sarah Radford is an online journalist with ‘Newbury Today’ – the online website of Newbury Weekly News. The website, which was launched in May 2005, won the Newspaper Society’s Best Weekly Newspaper Internet Site last month.

So, even though she studied the newspaper diploma option, Sarah Radford is an online journalist. Due to major technological developments, broadcast students are expected to write online news stories and newspaper students are expected to carry a camera around with them to record video clips for the web.

So are newspaper journalists stealing our jobs? I don’t think so. It just means that all journalists must now integrate and work together to bring news of the highest standard.

Mummy knows best!

It’s official. The web is becoming more accessible.

Only a few hours after I published my post about my online feature, somebody else interested in the '.cym' campaign left me a comment, gave me some suggestions and referred me to another relevant blog. People from all over the world can discuss current issues with each other via the web. Online networking is the ‘in thing’.

I'll be using the web to its full potential in my feature. Like I’ve done on this blog, I'll use links to refer to online debates and discussions. This is an online feature about an online issue. I’ll also be investigating and getting information from the web. Ironic or what? That's not to say that I'll rely entirely on the web. I’ve contacted those behind the campaign and I'll be interviewing them tomorrow. I'll be asking the public on the streets what they think of the campaign and if they think it'll really make a difference to their identity.

At the end of the day, you can’t rely entirely on the web for information – especially for accurate information. You still need to do the old fashioned way of investigating. As my Mum says all the time – “It’s so sad these days. People never talk to each other in person like they did when I was younger.” Bohoo! But she has a point. The web is great but we mustn’t become too engrossed. Mum would be glad to know that she at least had some influence over me!


My online feature

It’s a very exciting time for Wales online. On Friday, BBC online ran a story about the increasing possibility that people will soon be able, instead of using '.co.uk' or '.com', to use a domain which celebrates our identity as Welsh people. A campaign has been set up to get '.cym' accepted as a domain for websites with a Welsh interest. For those of you who don't know, 'Wales' in Welsh is 'Cymru' hence the '.cym' - it's therefore not in any way rude (don't tell me that you didn’t consider that!).

To date, 5003 people have signed the petition. Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black strongly supports the campaign on his blog.

I feel a domain is a brilliant way of celebrating various identities, cultures and nationalities. The web is such an exciting field that is constantly changing and developing. A unique national domain would mean that Wales would be keeping up with these current developments - instead of living in the nineteenth century.

Of course, Wales will not be the first country to adopt a national domain. In January Catalonia succeeded in getting '.cat' at the end of website addresses. How will it work in Wales? Will it promote the Welsh language? Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. We must wait and see but I’m confident that there will be major developments in the next couple of weeks. This issue matters to me and that’s why I’m writing my feature on it.


Interaction is the future

5 million people read it daily.

380 staff work on it.

It's BBC News Interactive.

Did you know that you can download video clips off the BBC website onto your i-pod so you can watch the news on your way to work? I didn't! 'Vodcasting' is the new craze and who better to tell us this than the head of BBC News Interactive himself, Pete Clifton?

He stressed that interactive news invites people to generate news stories by sending in their photos, audios and videos. Their contribution is essential, Pete Clifton said. The Sun is also following the interactive route. They've recently launched 'My Sun' - a way to get the public to share their experiences and to write online articles.

So should the BBC, like Channel 5, start paying the public to contribute? Are journalists getting too dependent on the public and becoming lazy journalists? Is citizen journalism taking over? Pete Clifton says "No". I agree with him. If the public want to contribute, journalists should welcome their willingness to share their ideas. It’s a way of knowing what the public want to know. It's up to the public if they want to contribute. They’re obviously not looking for money or they wouldn’t be sending so many things in.

What we have to remember is that journalism is an occupation. Journalists should welcome any information with open arms but they're there to regulate and develop the public's ideas. Don't worry journalists, you're jobs are safe!


Are we running out of trees?!

What's the future of magazines? As Peter Preston from the Guardian said last week, will new media kill the good old newspapers? I don't think I'll experience this in my lifetime. But newspaper journalists know the challenge this new era is posing on their industry. The Guardian have therefore published Guardian Unlimited.

And the magazine industry is quickly following their footsteps. Nicholas Brett came to talk to us today. He's the former editor of the Radio Times and is currently the Deputy Managing Director of BBC Magazines. The BBC publishes six magazines in Britain but, like newspapers, we're currently experiencing a revolution within the magazine industry. There are online versions of magazines such as 'Good Food' and 'Top Gear'.

What I find hard to understand is how can this ensure good commercial revenue? If I had the option of going to a shop and paying £2.50 for a magazine or go online, there's no doubt I would go for the cheaper online option (you must remember that I am a student!). I can understand that most websites use advertising as a way to make money but what about BBC magazines? Magazines can't rely on advertising to make money.

Mark Ellen, the editor of 'The Word', says that people don't read anymore. But that's not the case in my opinion. More and more people are turning to online sources. People are reading but not from paper. Thousands of trees could be saved from now on. That's one positive thing at least!


Capturing reality

Daniel Meadows is the Creative Director of ‘BBC Capture Wales’. But what is it? It’s exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a BBC Wales venture capturing the lives of the people of Wales.

The BBC aims to increase audience participation. The BBC receives an estimate of 10,000 emails each day by ‘newsers’ which shows that the public WANT to give us stories. Mr Meadows said journalists should listen to their ideas. Instead of looking down at our audience, we should look up to them.

Capture Wales is doing just that. People all over Wales are creating their own digital story. 500 stories have been produced in five years.

Some of my fellow students had trouble understanding how this related to news. Our role as journalists is to inform people of what’s happening in the world and the things which affect them. But how can we find out what affects them if we don’t, as journalists, make the effort to find out? Mr Meadows called this the ‘Democratisation of media’. What point is it for a group of people in a studio in Cardiff to decide which stories to cover? This isn’t fair or democratic and shows true ‘media power’. It’s the people’s news and our interest should be in what affects them.

Mr Meadows said that Wales is leading the way with these developments but other media organisations have started to follow that path. The Sun is asking their readers to ‘tell them their story’. Who’ll be next?


It's a scary world out there

In my reaction to Mr Iain Dale's speech on the 20/10/06 , I stated that one thing seriously scares me and that is the lack of web regulation. People are free to send all kinds of messages all around the world. This news story is extremely relevant. In it, the British developer of the world wide web says he is worried about the way it could be used to spread wrong information and dangerous messages across the globe.


Cat fight!

“Newspaper readers are like dogs and web users are like cats.”

An interesting statement. But Richard Burton had a very good point when he said this. He said that newspaper readers are like dogs because they're loyal to that paper whilst web users, on the other hand, are like cats because they lick the plate and then leave if nothing grabs their attention.

This shows how essential it is to grab the user’s attention on the web. The web journalist not only has to be a professional and accurate one but also has to understand how to design web pages and ensure that the user continues to use their site. Users will surf web pages and look for a particular story. As journalists, we should attempt to draw their attention to the rest of the site’s content and ensure that they use you site the next time they surf the web for news stories.
What I've learnt during these online journalism lectures is that you don't necessarily need to be a computer whizz kid to be able to design eye-catching web pagesy. Phew!

Not THAT Richard Burton!

Our guest speaker today is Richard Burton. Some of you will associate that name with the late actor from the South Wales valleys. But this is a different Richard Burton (obviously!) who was, until last August, the former Editor of the online edition of the Daily Telegraph. As someone who was involved in the reorganisation of print to digital journalism, it’ll be interesting to listen how he dealt with these developments professionally and personally. He is also a blogger and I'll be listening out for any useful tips! Notice on the profile of his blog how he says

"My views here do not reflect those of any of those organisations."

I personally think bloggers such as Richard Brunstrom should also declare this message on their blogs (read my post on 27/10/06 - 'He's done it again!').