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31 August 2005

Who's afraid of the big bad blog?

Worthwhile read from Silicon's Will Sturgeon on blogging's threat to established new media. He's not one of the starry-eyed evangelists of citizen journalism, and sees a world in which blogging not only complements online news, but is actually totally reliant on it for sources and for accountability. True, he says, these are testing times for new media brands, but this isn't the fault of blogging, which is one of the smaller of a host of seismic changes for the industry.

30 August 2005

We need your vital statistics!

David Ayrton at the union's research department is asking for information on new media salaries to contribute to the NUJ Pay Summit in November.

David has asked members to submit details from current or previous new media workplaces, and needs to know:

• starting rates
• what journalists usually earn per month
• number of hours worked
• de-facto differentials that may exist in pay between the earning of men and woman.

Please send any details to David by email or to the address below.

David Ayrton
Research and Information
National Union of Journalists
Headland House
308-312 Gray's Inn Road
Tel: 020 7843 3745
Mobile: 07734 845 323
Fax: 020 7278 6617
Email: DavidA@nuj.org.uk

04 August 2005

"Happy snapping" ?

Scoopt is a new photo agency, but one with a difference. Members of the public sign up with their cameraphones, and next time they see some news, they zap it and get Scoopt to tout it to the papers for them. Speaking to Netimperative, Scoopt's Kyle MacRae said: "The shocking events in London on 7th and 21st July brought citizen journalism into sudden, sharp focus, demonstrating once and for all that images taken by members of the public can be startling and evocative. Citizen journalism is here to stay and set to change the nature of news.”
Not only does this raise more than a few questions about authenticity and quality, but to my mind, it's yet another example of news increasingly being governed more by pure immediacy than actual news-worthiness. There's definitely a place for it, but given that it's suited to 'celebs and disasters' (Scoopt make no bones about it with their website cover shot), is it also encourgaing prurient interest and knee-jerk coverage which doesn't really serve the end user as well as professional and considered reporting would? What do you reckon? (would be interesting to hear more from some of our pro snapper colleagues!)

01 August 2005

Why does the BBC use Real 'Obnoxious' Player?

Okay, this is from last year, but maybe others have thoughts on the very serious issues it raises about the deals that Real is tying the consumers of their material into. Personally I have always steered well clear of Real seeing it as spyware and the wonderfully termed 'bloatware', demanding spurious uploads and downloads and using far more resources that any other video player.

Tony Gosling - Bristol branch - 0117 944 6219


"What we found in the process of this project was very concerning. Real as a strategy had for years intentionally obscured the free download link. Even when users found the link, the download process would try and trick (there is no other word for it) the user into downloading the pay version of the software. Real would even test multiple versions of their design to see which ones were more effective at this."

"Real would resort to even more disgusting (and probably illegal) tricks. One page in the process would show the user some very legitimate choices above the "fold" (the bottom of the area of a web page that can be shown in a window without forcing the user to scroll). However, beneath the fold, Real had options for additional plug-ins with dubious value such as sound enhancers and web accelerators, that were selected BY DEFAULT. If a user did not scroll down (and the design cleverly did not signal to the user that they had any reason to do so) they would not see that there were choosing to purchase around $50 in additional software. Real told us that this page alone was responsible for driving their average order up by $25. They even told us that most people didn't even know they were buying the additional software. When we told them that we found these tactics user un-friendly, unsustainable, and bad for the brand, they agreed. But they also told us that they were "hooked on! it like heroin" and didn't want to change anything for fear of loosing revenue. Despite the fact that Real was knowingly misleading customers, and that it was driving down the value of the company and the brand, and we had designed a solution to the problem, Real refused to implement it."

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