Category Archives: Society of Editors

Google DNI funds investigative journalism says Bureau chief

Funding by Google’s DNI Innovation Fund is contributing to producing investigative journalism the Society of Editors conference has been told.

Speaking as part of a panel session focusing on Google’s Digital News Initiative which provides funding for journalism projects, Rachel Oldroyd, the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, praised the scheme.

The Bureau, active since 2010, has used the Fund to expand its investigative journalism unit and it has directly funded a Local Data Lab which it hopes to open to other media organisations.

Rachel Oldroyd, the Managing Editor, explained to the conference that the Bureau would use the fund to expand their investigative data journalism team. She added that she was hiring journalists to specialise in “collecting, analysing and cleaning up data” which allowed them to access a “goldmine of stories” wrapped up in data.

As the Bureau doesn’t publish their work themselves, the stories derived from their data journalism team, and therefore Google’s funding, will benefit news outlets across the UK, she said.

Google funds digital projects across Europe

Google is on the lookout for worthy digital innovation projects that it can support with a special development grant.

A fund of €150m, the Digital News Initiative (DNI) has been set up to support projects across Europe.

Speaking at the annual Society of Editors’ conference, Sarah Hartley, DNI Applicants Associate Manager, explained it is open to applications from all not-for-profit organisations. “We are looking for things that are going to have impact across the whole system”, she said, adding the idea of the fund is to “inspire people to look at new business models and experiment in order to work out the future for journalism.”

By way of example, the conference session highlighted several projects supported by the fund so far. One is a news app called Parsecs that allows readers to experience the same story from different perspectives.

Perspecs developer Darren Sher explained future development plans for the app include a ‘vote’ button allowing readers to side with one perspective. He added development of the app was only made possible thanks to DNI funding.

Google will announce the 2016 funded projects in November.

Fiona Kinloch from the University of Central Lancashire

New Beginnings: How the media can help rebuild a community after an emergency

The vital role played by the media in the aftermath of the 2015 Cumbrian floods was the main focus of the New Beginnings session at the Society of Editors’ annual conference.

David Helliwell, Group Editorial Director of the CN Group, explained how important it was for his team to get to the heart of the crisis, despite many of their own homes having been flooded. “We had to be a conduit of accurate information for those who really really needed it,” he said.

He believes his main responsibility was to keep the floods on the government’s agenda, as attention shifted from the immediate impact on to clearing up and discussion of flood prevention measures. “As well as championing Cumbria’s role with government we were also chief cheerleader,” he added.

Thanks to that cheerleading, the Twitter hashtag #spiritofcumbria quickly went viral, boosting morale and helping to support those directly affected as they tried to rebuild their lives.

Tony Thompson, Chair of the Emergency Planning Society, spoke of the importance of careful planning and preparation for handling disasters.

He advocated the need to ‘Warn and Inform’ members of the public so that they know what to do in an emergency situation.

He also called for the re-establishment of emergency planning working groups to pool resources, experience and knowledge from right across the community, including input from the emergency services and the media.

Sean Robinson, Head of News at United Utilities also expressed the importance of the media during an emergency.

He said: “A part of our job as a ‘category two’ responder under the Civil Contingency Act is that we need to warn and inform the public. One of the quickest and fastest ways to do that is through the local media.”

“We are keen to work with news editors to make sure we can get our messages out – our customers are their readers.”
By Laura Creighton & Emmi Bowles UCLan

The media and the police

The ‘Media and Police’ conference session looked at the role of armed response units, and the thorny question of College of Policing guidelines.

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the national lead on Armed Policing, outlined some of the challenges facing modern response teams.

He explained their work, what they were armed with, and how various high profile cases – such as the Hungerford shooting and the Dunblane massacre – continue to shape and refine their approach to a range of extremely difficult situations.

He also touched on the controversial question of ‘shoot to kill’, adding he believes further debate is still needed on the subject because the public does not fully understand the issues.

They hinge on the purpose of firing at suspect – the police intention is to stop the offender in the most effective way. Generally this means aiming for what DCC Chesterman euphemistically described as ‘the central body mass’.

But when officers are confronted with, say, a potential suicide bomber, they are trained to aim at the brain stem. Then, the result is almost certain to be fatal.

DCC Chesterman explained firearms officers are all volunteers. He believes more media support towards them would be helpful: “Their biggest fear is the post incident investigation – that they won’t be treated fairly and will lose their livelihood,” he said.

Alex Marshall, Chief Executive at the College of Policing (COP) also spoke, running through the background to its latest set of media guidelines.

He stressed they were intended to ‘support people at the front end of policing’, letting journalists know what to expect, and guiding officers in how to behave in various situations.

He said: “The principle is to be open and have good relationships with the media, who are one version of holding the police to account.”

“But I think the media have to be careful not to over-rely on the police for information or to confirm information.”

Consultation continues, and a revised draft of media guidelines is expected early in 2017.

By Laura Creighton & Emmi Bowles UCLan

Jeremy Clifford: “We want to work with Trinity Mirror collaboratively”

The Editor-in-Chief of Johnston Press has revealed that the publisher is working with fellow regional publisher Trinity Mirror to explore the benefit of collaborative projects.

Speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Carlisle, Clifford told media figures that the company was looking to break the trend between media companies and their rivals, suggesting that working together was now the way forward for the industry.

He said: “Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press are talking about sharing some of their resources when it comes to coming back from football games.

“We both go to the same events and we might both spend on freelance photography and duplicate efforts.”

“We shouldn’t see ourselves as competitors and we should in-fact be working together,” he added.

Speaking as part of a panel session looking at the progress of the BBC Local Journalism Working Group, Clifford, a former editor of the Yorkshire Press said that pooling resources was a means by which local and regional newspapers could produce public interest journalism in a challenging climate.

He said: “Working collaboratively, is the key to success in the industry. We know we’re challenged but what we don’t tend to do well enough is work together,” he added.

North urged to raise its voice

London-based journalists lack understanding of the north of England, according to a former Fleet Street editor who grew up in Barrow.

Speaking at the annual Society of Editors Conference in Carlisle, executive director of CTF Partners, Chris Blackhurst, Mr Blackhurst dismissed what he sees as the southern belief that ‘nothing ever happens’ in the North.

“The North gave the world the first railway and split the atom”, he said.

The former editor of The Independent believes the North suffers from a lack of self-belief, something he calls ‘The Northern Psyche’. He added that in his view the broader approach of modern titles is a mistake: “Newspapers have missed a trick by allowing themselves to become deregionalised.”

Fiona Kinloch from University of Central Lancashire


Former Independent editor Chris Blackhurst has called for better informed investment in the north of England.

Speaking at the annual Society of Editors conference in Carlisle, Barrow-born Chris criticised what he sees as misguided post-industrial investment in the area.

Now Executive Director of high profile consultancy firm CTF Partners, he said the north was suffering from a lack of self-belief and self-awareness that had seriously affected its investment, and opportunities are being missed.

He claimed previous investors had allowed themselves to be “seduced by glossy media in the south”.

He said Barrow, despite having built a reputation for its specialist and highly complex work building nuclear submarines, had made the same mistake as many other industrial towns: “They created an enterprise park with grass embankments…low-slung buildings, and lots of flag poles but new businesses did not set up there. It was snapped up by car dealers.

“Where are the start-ups, the centres of excellence?

“No new jobs came out of it at all.”

He was sceptical about the idea of the Northern Powerhouse, identifying it as only evident in a small area of the north of England.

Blackhurst identified another factor contributing to the north’s lack of industrial progression, the ‘northern psyche’.

He said: “It’s not just a problem of lack of infrastructure and investment. It’s a problem of a lack of self-belief.”

He added there were “no ambitious role models, no business models”.

Nevertheless, he urged people not to underestimate the region, and highlighted the many scientific and engineering accomplishments achieved in the north: “The north gave the world the first railway, split the atom … but this is not reflected in the coverage of it in the south.”

Stephanie Gabbatt

Chris Blackhurst on Northern journalism: “It’s not all clogs, flat-caps and whippets”

The former editor of The Independent has made a call for the national press to give the North West more media coverage.

Speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Carlisle,  Chris Blackhurst, Executive Director of CTF Partners, welcomed delegates with praise for his homegrown roots and accredited his success to the “gritty Cumbrian folk”.

Addressing industry figures at the conference in Cumbria, Blackhurst said that part of the problem was a lack of self-belief when it came to the real power of the Northern Press.

He went on to speak of his passion and enthusiasm for attracting more press coverage of the North.

He said: “We ought to have more regionalisation of our national papers. People want to know about the world outside of London.

“The focus on London can have a negative effect. If you are in the north, you want to feel the person writing about the north actually has a knowledge of that area,” he added.

Blackhurst, who was born in Cumbria, drew upon his experience of working in London alongside the political elite, with his time in the North and questioned aspects of media coverage.

He said: “The London press likes to paint the north as clogs, flat caps and whippets.

“In reality, we need some long overdue investment. Really, what is the point in building a fast train from Liverpool to Leeds if everyone else is on the slow line?

“I love Cumbria so much. Welcome to the greatest county in Britain,”

Hayden Atkins

Publishers must tailor their content for different media platforms

With the continual growth and developments in social media, publishers should do more to tailor their content for different media platforms, said a panel of practitioners at the Society of Editors annual conference.

Steve Anglesey, Digital Content Director of Local World, said that although the company had reported a 120% increase in the amount of followers across their media platforms and was considered a trusted voice, there was still room for improvement in the industry he said.

The panel discussed the use of social media to further disseminate information and Matt Cooke, Manager of Google’s News Labs, stressed that while there was a variety of platforms available to journalists, content that worked on one platform may not be appropriate for another.

Other emerging platforms, as highlighted by social media editor of the Wall Street Journal Sarah Marshall, include the Chinese messaging service WeChat. She said: “It’s kind of what Facebook messaging would like to become; a portal of things all connected to one app.”

The Wall Street Journal alone have 1.5 million followers on WeChat. Sarah Marshall added: “It allows us to go out into other local audiences in different countries and really engage with people on these platforms.”

Steve Anglesey also stressed the importance of establishing a ‘voice’ and ‘brand’ on different social platforms. Whilst developing the Mirror Football twitter feed he realised that establishing an irreverent tone worked well for this type of platform. However it didn’t work on all platforms; “This tone did not work for us on Facebook whatsoever and it took us ages to get the tone right.”

Ashlie Brombley

Social media is the ‘trusted voice which cuts through the noise’

Industry heavyweights today stressed the importance of using social media correctly in the newsroom.

Contributing to a session on the use of social media at the Society of Editors annual conference, Alison Gow, Digital Innovations Editor at Trinity Mirror quizzed a panel of practitioners on the importance of digital in the modern newsroom.

Steve Anglesey, digital content director of Local World said that alongside acting as brand advertising, social media could also be used as a marketing tool, a focus group and “an inward and outward pipe of content” and it should be a part of a journalist’s duty to disseminate their own stories on numerous social platforms.

He said: “For Local World, social media is absolutely enormous. In the last year, our followers are up by 120 per cent and social has grown from 18 per cent of our audience to 40 per cent.

“It has enabled us to talk to audiences who have never picked up one of our newspapers.”

Darren Waters, social media editor of the Press Association, also talked about how social media helps their audience to understand the brand, what they do and what the organisation means to the news industry.

He said it also helped them understand more about their audiences and talk to their customers better.

Steve talked about journalists understanding the importance of tailoring social media content across different platforms; what works on Twitter, doesn’t necessarily work on Facebook or Tumblr he said.

He also stressed how social media, when used effectively and engaged with properly, can extend the life span of a story and generate new ideas, allowing journalists to create follow up news pieces.

Matt Cooke, manager, News Labs, Google, added: “Instant feedback can help complement your articles and serve audiences better.”

By Shruti Sheth