Category Archives: Archive (examples of my work)

Liveblogging Open Data Camp, Cardiff


Coffee, check, bun, check, laptop, check… liveblogging is go…

Last weekend I was part of a team that went to Cardiff to cover the fourth Open Data Camp. Two ‘drawnalists’ (from captured the event in pictures, while I helped Adam Tinworth (from one man and his blog) to live-blog the sessions.

Open Data Camp is a two-day event that brings together organisations committed to releasing information as open data and developers that want to use it in products of various kinds (anyone for a ‘Pokemon for Trees’ in Bristol?)

Its fourth iteration had more than 125 delegates on the first day and more than 100 on the second, and they pitched more than 30 sessions to what is an ‘unconference’ (delegates propose sessions, decide what to go to, speak up if they have something to say, and move on if something isn’t working out for them).

So the job… work out what is going on, agree with the organisers what to cover, dash along to a session, accurately capture what is being said or debated, turn that into a coherent report at the same time, be done and dusted by the end of the session or very shortly after that, load the post with drawnalism capture, Tweet, and get off to the next one…

It’s a lot of skill. I noted after the same team covered Open Data Camp 3 in Bristol that my Crown Court reporting experience comes in very handy. In court, I’d listen to one case while writing out enough of another to be able to ‘read’ a story to copy-takers during a break (full stop, new par…).

Now, copy is posted electronically; but you still need to be able to listen out for the points that are going to engage your audience, get them down accurately, capture quotes, shape-up a story on the run, and be ready to help colleagues (once snappers, now drawnalists) with supporting images.

Plus, of course, you need digital dexterity (Tweet and keep on Tweeting). And with just a half hour break, it helps not to need too much by way of lunch, as well!

Still, it’s an engaging challenge; and we got some almost embarrassingly good feedback on the #odcamp hashtag on Twitter. The very, very live-blog is at and there’s more about Drawnalism and what its artists got up to on

(More) editorials

As I noted in a post back in January, I write all the editorials for the newsletters put out by

Two recent editorials have covered the end of the National Programme for IT in the NHS,  programme launched with much fanfare in 2002, and now effectively disowned by the government and the Department of Health, and the effective return of the highly controversial programme to distribute personal medical data to researchers and companies.

Live blogging

On the weekend of 14-15 May 2016, I joined my partner, Matt Buck @Drawnalism to liveblog the third Open Data Camp at the Watershed in Bristol.

While Matt and his colleague, Royston Robertson, drew the event, I wrote it up live with Adam Tinworth (from ‘One Man and his Blog‘). Liveblogging is an interesting exercise: from a writing perspective, you’re taking accurate notes, looking out for themes and killer quotes, and crafting up a story as you go along, so you’re all but done and dusted by the time the next session comes around.

My background covering councils and courts for local papers came in more than a little handy! Oh yes, and it was a very interesting conference too. Committed people. Great ideas. Excellent venue. And cake… More on working live on the Drawnalism website. Everything from the liveblog on the liveblog.


Wooden printing blocks for 'news' archive

As managing editor of, I don’t get to write all that many news stories (we have reporters, and very good they are too!)

However, because of my experience in working for policy titles and think-tanks, I tend to write the “big picture” or policy and finance stories that frame the context in which our readers work. Four stories I’ve written in the past month [mid December 2015 – mid January 2016]:

NHS deficits “unsustainable” – NAO warns: The National Audit Office publishes an annual report looking at the state of NHS trust finances, and it’s been getting gloomier and gloomier over the past four years.

This news story outlines the NAO’s latest findings as the backdrop against which hospital boards and IT departments will be making or not making IT investments; depending on whether they see technology as a way of achieving savings, or an easy target for cuts. The report also features in a editorial and one of my own blog-posts.

IT funds to come from transformation pot: This is a news story about another annual publication; NHS England’s forward planning guidance, aka the NHS chief executive’s “must do” list.

It’s a good example of a business to business title doing its job by relating a general publication to the interests of its readers – in this case by focusing on what the planning guidance has to say about NHS IT funding – and generating debate about it.

NHS England ad wants “outstanding” CI&TO: This is a straightforward news story about NHS England advertising for someone to fill the shoes of Tim Kelsey, its invariably headline-ready director of patients and information. ran profiles and analysis of Kelsey’s impact when he announced he was leaving for a job in Australia in October 2015, so this story adds a new dimension by listing some of the previous holders of the top job in NHS IT leadership, and indicating briefly how their roles have changed.

Blackpool struggles with Lorenzo deployment: This news story is based on a local newspaper report about problems with the deployment of an electronic patient record called Lorenzo at Blackpool’s big, acute hospital.

The trust’s press office said I could have 15 minutes with the IT director, but he and a colleague were on the phone for nearly an hour, and were very honest about why the roll-out was proving so difficult. So I wrote a feature as well.

This is a good example of a business to business publication doing its job by reporting frankly on problems, without taking a shock, horror, disaster approach. Nice as bad news headlines are for traffic!


Metal type for 'features' archive

I have written many, many features over the course of my career, for publications that include my former employer, the Health Service Journal, The Guardian, Computer Weekly, and my present employer,

To give a flavour of these, I have picked out a set of features that demonstrate different approaches and skills, all taken from the website.

Opinion and analysis: There are two examples of opinion and analysis pieces here and here [dealing, respectively, with the launch of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s ‘Liberating the NHS’ white paper, and NHS England’s subsequent ‘Five Year Forward View’ to “save” the NHS].

Review: There are two reviews setting out the background to struggling policy initives here (in two parts) and here [recounting, respectively, the troubled history of the National Programme for IT in the NHS from its optimistic launch to its twice-announced aboliton, and the equally troubled history of the present government’s programme to expand and link NHS data sets].

Site visits: There’s more commercially focused piece of analysis here [dealing with the spread of electronic prescribing systems across trusts] and an account of a visit to see a piece of software in action here [the UK launch of Cerner’s maternity system at my local hospital, the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.]

Interviews: Finally, there are two relatively recent profile pieces here and here [one with Roger Killen, the chief executive of a company called VitalPAC, and one with Chris Fokke, a clinician with an interest in IT, and one of the early members of our CCIO Network.]


I write all the editorials for the newsletters put out by More or less every editorial written in 2015 can be found via our annual review of the year (which I also put together).

Alternatively, there’s an example of an editorial dealing with a national issue here [the end of the controversial National Programme for IT in the NHS in London and the South], an editorial dealing with a local IT deployment here [the apparent failure of the Epic electronic patient record in Cambridge], and a lighter hearted editorial looking at another daft ministerial idea here [health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to spend scarce NHS cash on free wi-fi].