Archive for the ‘MyTelegraph’ tag

The twilight zone between blogs and journalism

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Suddenly the purpose of my.telegraph becomes alot clearer. Yesterday on p.11 Nick Britten reported on the case of Ben Morphey, who has pleaded guilty to causing the death of two young women by dangerous driving. Only the story is not about Ben Morphey, it is about the anguish of the women’s father who has been writing a blog at My.Telegraph since May 12 (at http://my.telegraph.co.uk/phil_stod).

The article relies on the blog to a remarkable extent. Not only is there a box-out with quotes from three blog entries, the blog is referenced and quoted throughout. Indeed the final five paragraphs of the article are taken entirely from the blog.

Presumably this is exactly the type of authentic, reader generated material the Telegraph was looking for when it invested so much money in its website. By giving its readers the opportunity to record their thoughts within its walls, it not only creates a community but, with luck, is rewarded with blogs that can enhance the news in the main paper (and are ‘free’).

But this also raises fascinating questions. Was Mr Stoddart asked if he minded his blog going in the main paper? Presumably he was, or it was clear that by recording his thoughts within the Telegraph’s site they might be used in this way. But did he have any say about the context in which they were put?

A blog like this has a raw authenticity which makes it compelling, but can also make it difficult to contextualise or question. The blog is, for example, highly religious – indeed Mr Stoddart says his purpose in writing it is to make other people ‘consider’ God – should an article explain this is its purpose? Is it relevant? The boundaries between what personal information should be revealed and what shouldn’t is far from clear.

This is yet another blurring of the line between blogs and journalism, and one that needs alot more discussion and more thought.

Written by Martin Moore

June 5th, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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The Telegraph's MyTelegraph

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Give me a second to suck the oxygen back into my lungs. I’ve just been submerged in ‘MyTelegraph‘, the newspaper’s new online service that allows its users to write blogs and form blogging networks. I say ‘submerged’ because after you’ve delved through a few bizarre, stacato, non-linear, largely incomprehensible conversations you start to feel as though you’ll never get out (some of Phil Slocombe‘s audience seem particularly nonsensical and yet prolific).
This is terribly judgmental since the service has only just launched. Once it matures and its community of active bloggers increases I’m sure it will become less introverted.
But is this the future of newspapers online? The service has some nice features, like being able to add a blogger to your network easily, giving you the opportunity to agree or disagree with each blog – then showing the level of agreement and aggregating these in ‘agreement indexes’, as well as allowing you to navigate by most viewed, most commented etc.
And, if Telegraph readers want to talk to one another and express their views this could be a great way of making them more loyal to the newspaper’s website, of finding out what they’re thinking and even using them as news sources.
Yet the mytelegraph section, despite the consistent branding, seems oddly separate from the rest of the paper. You would have thought that once you’ve set up your page, you’d be able to feed stories in from the paper, tag them, save them, comment on them and recommend them to others in your community. Or even that you could tailor your page to include the features you most like from the paper. But right now mytelegraph bloggers are definitely considered a subspecies and cordoned off from the rest of the content. The closest you get is a top tab to Telegraph journalist bloggers – although they too are effectively walled off.
I think I can see what the Telegraph is trying to do, but if wants to get closer to what Jeff Jarvis called ‘networked journalism’ and see ‘stories as a process rather than a product’, it’s going to have to work out a way to make those walls more permeable.

Written by Martin Moore

May 31st, 2007 at 4:17 pm

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