Archive for March, 2010

Big news. All Northeast Press titles will switch production systems to a new content management system at the end of April. The Atex and Polopoly-powered CMS is theoretically capable of delivering content to the web with greater ease.

A new centrally-imposed template, which is frankly in its infancy (as you can see at www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk), will accompany the new backend.

An end to the time-consuming cut-and-paste uploading which drags some of my working day into the dark ages? I certainly hope so…

Evidence emerged yesterday that local advertisers are starting to care about Twitter, oft-lambasted as a waste of time by those who think crowd-sourcing is something to do with spraying Lea & Perrins at a football terrace.

A campaign outline for the Sunderland Echo that included a suite of print and online ads, sponsorship and advertorial also included requests for retweets and other social media activity.

That’s a first as far as a client requesting such action is concerned, in my experience. And I’m taking it as a good sign.

I’ll consider any ethical dilemmas about tweeting the merits of a certain brand of hamburger when The Scottish Restaurant offer money for twitter plugs. Could depend on whether they throw in free breakfast bagels, of course…

There are generally two types of work ex people who come into newspaper offices…

Shrinking violets who sit dutifully and silently while they are ignored, and those who feel they deserve better treatment and aren’t afraid to say so.

The latter group will indignantly shuffle up to a senior staff member and demand, “Have you got something for me to do?”

On the face of it, a fair question. But it’s another entry into the ‘what not to say’ hall of shame, for me.

The work ex folk who excel are the rare breed who come up with their own suggestions of how to fill their time (and we don’t mean mumbling ‘I might as well go to lunch because no-one has spoken to me for three hours’).

Why not try one of the following stock phrases? Fill in the blanks yourself.

  • My aunty/friend/ex-partner is <doing something interesting> and I thought it was worth a story, so I’m going to give them a ring.
  • Is it worth me going to to check the <church hall, library etc> noticeboards to see if anything has come up?
  • I read in <a national newspaper> that <something happened>. Is it worth me coming up with a local angle on this? Maybe I could speak to <a local expert>, or do a vox pop?

Since you know long in advance that you are coming in for work ex, prepare something – even if it is just an idea for a small filler.

Oh, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Why not steal other peoples’ ideas from repositories such as the Hold The Front Page story ideas list?

In the second of my occasional ‘ask the experts’ series SEO guru George Hopkin will take questions from all-comers about search engine optimisation.

George recently left Johnston Press, where he was SEO Evangelist, to take up a post as Head of Digital Development for Dubai-based Motivate Publishing. He also has a track record of setting up commercially successful sites which exploit SEO.

Feel free to add questions as comments, tweet them to me @LeeHallTweets, or use good old-fashioned email. I keep them anonymous so I can disguise my dumb questions in amongst your good ones.

>> Ask the Experts 1 – David Banks on media law for digital journalists