Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Heads you win …

Posted: March 29, 2011 in Bermuda, media

I was rather amused to read the headline in yesterday’s Royal Gazette that “Shooting outbreak causes fear and injury”. Not because of the tragic subject matter, of course, but because it was one of those meaningless headlines that states the obvious – like “Cancer is a bit nasty” or “Women have babies” – and tells you nothing about the story.

When I was working on the Mid-Ocean News in the 1980s we had a “wall of shame” on which we gleefully posted the worst/funniest headlines produced by our Gazette colleagues across the office. And we had plenty to choose from. Compared to the punchy, pun-laden that many of us UK-trained sub-editors took pride in, The Gazette heads were far more tortuous affairs.

My favourite was the one that topped an inquest report and read: “Doctor put patient’s leg injury above chest cavity bleeding”. In 72 point type. Over two decks. Across six columns!

Another was about the end to a rogue owl’s reign of terror among the island’s small animals. “It’s all over for the snowy owl as one shot blows its head off”. You couldn’t make it up.

Mind you many of our heads were lost in translation. I once wrote a headline about a local soccer coach being fired – I think it was “Bascome axed”. A puzzled Bermudian colleague told me he didn’t understand the headline. “It didn’t say what you axed him about,” he said.

Fortunately at the Mid-O we had deputy editor Ivan Clifford who was a master of the art. His finest line adorned a travel piece about hotels in Ireland’s Mourne Mountains: “Top of the Mourne inns.” A classic.

My efforts were rarely as clever but I was proud of one that headed a rather pompous letter from a local actor taking our theatre critic to task for a less than flattering review of his performance in the lead role of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. There was only one headline I could put of course … The Self-Importance of Being Earnest.

This year’s model?

Posted: January 17, 2011 in iPad, media
Tags: ,

Interesting piece from the New York Times on how, after high initial interest, readership of iPad editions is falling as magazine publishers struggle to find the right business model for the iPad and the expected new wave of tablet devices. The per issue model is not working as users look for subscription plans that deliver publications to their device – and at a much lower price than printed newstand versions.

Read more: For Magazines, a Bitter Pill in iPad

The case of lawyer Charles Richardson, who has been charged with libelling a police detective in a status update on his Facebook page, has reopened the debate about whether what you post on social media sites can or should land you in a lot of legal trouble. The short answer is, of course it can, as a lengthening list of high-profile Twitter and Facebook cases illustrates.  I’ve long made the point to fellow users that if you post something on a blog or your Facebook page, you are effectively publishing and  are subject to the same laws of libel as any traditional media.  Freedom of expression should not come without responsibility.

James Whittaker and Sirkka Huish did a good job in today’s Bermuda Sun highlighting the pitfalls and potential risks for local social media users in light of the Richardson case.  I urge you to read it – and show it your kids, many of whom either seem to be oblivious to the personal damage their posts can cause or the fact that they are accountable for what they write and, in an extreme case, end up being taken to court.

The legal debate is growing ever complex as it grapples with jurisdictional issues thrown up by the internet, whether Facebook and Twitter should be held liable for the content of their sites in the same way that newspapers are, and whether the law can even keep up with the pace of emerging technology.

Given the trillons of tweets and updates posted every day, it would be impossible for any legal system to deal with every potentially damaging case. Ultimately we need to take more personal responsibility for our actions. As a law professor stated in an excellent CNN piece in 2009:

“The law is only good at policing the most extreme invasions and the most outrageous cases. It can’t take the place of good manners, social norms and etiquette – the kind of thing that has always governed negotiations about face-to-face behaviour. We should never expect that the judges are going to save us from our own worst impulses.”





New media: the year ahead

Posted: December 20, 2010 in internet, iPad, media, Technology
Tags: ,

Some thoughts on the fast-changing news media landscape from Mashable:

In 2011, the focus on mobile will continue to grow with the launch of mobile- and iPad-only news products, but the greater focus for news media in 2011 will be on re-imagining its approach to the open social web. The focus will shift from searchable news to social and share-able news, as social media referrals close the gap on search traffic for more news organizations. In the coming year, news media’s focus will be affected by the personalization of news consumption andsocial media’s influence on journalism.

It’s been interesting week for online news junkies.  Here in Bermuda, The Royal Gazette gave its website a much-needed makeover on Tusday while in London, The Sunday Times launched what is arguably the most impressive iPad version yet of a major newspaper.

Of course we’re comparing apples and oranges here in terms of resources and readership but I think it’s interesting to see how two newspapers, both established in the 1820s, are trying to figure how how to stay viable and relevant in a rapidly-changing media landscape.

The Gazette site really couldn’t have got any worse – although at the time of writing a poll on the site embarrassingly showed that 38% thought the new version was either “worse” or “much worse” (57% said it was improved or much improved).

At first glance, the site certainly looks cleaner, more readable and better organised but it doesn’t take long to realise that the changes are little more than cosmetic and that the Gazette still doesn’t really get the internet, digital publishing and just how disruptive and game-changing the technology will continue to be to the media business as a whole. (more…)

Hot news …

Posted: December 2, 2010 in Bermuda, internet, media

Looks like things are going to get interesting on the local online news front again.

The Royal Gazette is about to (finally) ditch its dog’s breakfast of a website with a total revamp – although the planned Dec. 6 launch has been put back to Dec. 13 for some “technical adjustments”. The mockups I’ve seen look clean and well-organised and at first glance a vast improvement on the existing one – but it’s hard to tell until it’s live on-screen and we see how user-friendly it is – and whether the content will reflect the philosophical shift the Gazette must make – from thinking of itself as a newspaper first to a multimedia news organisation that thinks 24-7 screen first, whether that screen is the web, tablet or smartphone.

Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite upstart, Bernews – which has been kicking the Gazette’s butt for most of the year – is planning some changes. With some financial backing, an ad sales team and a handful of part-time editorial staff now on board, the site is looking to up the ante again. They’ve recently added some nice touches like text alerts, Portuguese translation and I understand plenty more changes are in the works.

Watch that space …

Bermuda’s websites and social media sites got some heavy traffic during Hurricane Igor. As a result of their excellent coverage Bernews’ Facebook page added an estimated 1,000 new fans over the weekend and has now overtaken The Royal Gazette and Bermuda Tourism for the first time.

Bernews now boasts 5,601 fans (as of 9.30pm tonight), just ahead of the Gazette’s 5,594 making it (I believe), the third most popular Bermuda-related Facebook page and the top news Facebook page. Singer Collie Buddz is way out in front with 89,552 and fellow artiste Heather Nova second with 8,459 (Nova also has more than 2,000 fans on her official page and another 4,000 on another fan page, Heather Nova (artist)]  Tourism is 4th on 5,352 while the only other media site in contention is the Bermuda Sun on 2,185.