Archive for May, 2010

I’m usually pretty good at helping people. I go out of my way to, say, direct readers to a relevant contact or to get a hold of past issues of the Sunderland Echo. It’s nice to be nice, and one more reader on our side in an era of dwindling print sales and an uncertain digital future doesn’t go amiss.
But sometimes – as I was reminded this morning – being nice isn’t always appreciated…

1. Reader email:

I would like to vote on the Internet Poll but where and how do I find it please?

2. My polite response:

Dear Mrs Xxxxxx,
Our internet vote is quite tricky to find as it does not appear on the main page of our website.
However, if you visit and click on any of the individual articles it appears in the bottom right of the page.
All the best,

3. Reader’s delightful comeback

I’m afraid I do not have time to spend hunting the internet poll all day.
Who in the hell designed this awful web site–a drunk????
Xxxxxx X


I’m always nagging students, colleagues and random people in bars about the fact the web is not just a publishing platform, it’s a tool that can make you a better journalist irrespective of how your content reaches an audience.

It’s a hard sell when you’re giving examples involving the BBC or a Guardian tech reporter.

But I had a simple win today when I tweeted out a call via asking for anyone planning to buy the iPad to drop me a line for a feature I’m writing. Two people duly did and as a result I have case studies with local relevance for my piece. Plus, a relevant local government body got back to me offering their input.

The alternative would have involved digging out some rent-a-quote or – worse still – just asking around the office to see if someone knew anyone who might be the type…

With authorative quotes, background and info, this extra source will lift the piece. Had I ignored Twitter, or shunned the web as some folk seem to, my output in Friday’s newspaper would have been weaker. Simple as that.

>> Newsdesk also tell me that one of the reporters was stuck for fillers at the weekend and put out a call for community events of Facebook. She got a pile of responses from local people. Everyone’s a winner.

Have finally clicked ‘live’ on my new spoof news website.

The News Grind is a hobby enterprise designed as a virtual sandpit for me to learn more about hosting, ads etc online.

Above all, it’s just a bit of fun.

Powerpoints are dull.

To add some wow-factor to your presentations, try It’s free* and you can download your displays to run them offline in case of connection issues.

The application is incredibly easy to use, enabling you to do the basics such as embedding photos, video and words. You can then effect beautiful style changes. But the key hook is that Prezi is Flash-based so you can intuitively add lovely, swooshy motion.

Here’s one I presented on May 4 entitled ‘The Future of Magazine Journalism’.

Will dig out the script and attach when I get a spare moment.

*(with premium upgrades to get extra storage and hide your work from others)