Tag Archives: Journalism

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 drawnalism.com) 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 orĀ 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 odcamp.org.uk: and there’s more about Drawnalism and what its artists got up to on drawnalism.com.

The Hampshire Chronicle: 240-odd years and counting

The Hampshire Chronicle's Wikipedia page (slightly out of date: it's no longer a broadsheet)

The Hampshire Chronicle’s Wikipedia page (slightly out of date: it’s no longer a broadsheet)

Sad news this week from my local paper, the Hampshire Chronicle, which has just lost its editor in a ‘restructuring.’

Keith Redbourn has left the paper, which he led for a decade, because its owner, Newsquest, made his post redundant in a restructuring that will see one “editor in chief” manage four weeklies from a “central editorial hub” in Southampton.

Like most local papers, the Chronicle has seen its readership decline over the past two decades. Newsquest’s response has been to cut costs: shifting the paper out of its distinctive High Street offices, moving it from broadsheet to ‘compact’ format, and sharing staff with the local daily (plus, of course, website and social media operations).

Relying on “a new IT system” to support centralised editing and subbing is entirely in keeping with this trend.

But it means removing another, senior journalist, with good local contacts and knowledge from the ever-shrinking pool of staff expected to get the paper out (and, of course, the website up, live-blogging covered, and Twitter promotions out).

If local journalism – as opposed to campaigning, or blogging – is to survive, it can surely do so only by showing that it is working within the traditions of papers like the Chronicle, and by doing a more professional, more accurate, more informed job than the alternatives.

Otherwise, what are readers going to pick it up for – and what are local businesses, or even the local branches of national chains being asked to support?

The constant cost-cutting behind this week’s announcement feels like a move in exactly the opposite direction. The Chronicle was founded in 1772 and moved to Winchester in 1778. It’s more than 240 years’ old. It will probably make it to 250; but how long will it be around after that?