In our Throwback Thursday series, we take a look at what the key figures in media were thinking in the past, based on the Journalism.co.uk archive, and how those issues can be related to the current challenges and opportunities that dominate the conversation about the digital media landscape.
Read the first part of the series here. Today, we're taking a look back at the media news of August 2007, featuring hopes for citizen journalism, and journalists using social media to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the reporting process.
Mail Online posts huge web traffic debut
In August 2007, Mail Online started publicly reporting its monthly web traffic, revealing it was the second most popular newspaper website in the UK at the time.
"We're one of the big players now, and as far as we're concerned this is the foundation on which we build everything else," Martin Clarke, then editorial director and now publisher of Mail Online, told Journalism.co.uk.
In 2007, Mail Online was already getting a lot of interest from readers in the United States, but Clarke said the outlet’s focus remained on its UK audience at the time.
"In the short term the traffic we are interested in is the UK traffic. I take the view that if you produce a good site for UK users, then the international traffic will come automatically. The reason we get so much traffic from America is because we have interesting and compelling content that people abroad want to read,” he said.
BBC conducts social media reporting experiment in the US
The BBC started experimenting with using social media as a way to update their readers and viewers on the reporting process and what goes on behind the scenes in July 2007, when it covered the elections in Turkey.
A month later, BBC Mundo journalists embarked on a reporting trip in the United States to reach Spanish-speaking audiences, with the caveat that they’d only speak Spanish on the road, and use social media to engage audiences in the reporting process.
"We've got to be integrated much more into the places [on the web] and the tools the audience choose to use rather than demanding that they come to a BBC site and consume content in the way we set out. There are issues surrounding that, copyright and other considerations, but if that is the way the web is working we need to be part of that too," Richard Sambrook, then director of BBC Global news, told Journalism.co.uk.
The making of citizen journalism?
Citizen journalism has been a hot topic for years now, with many newsrooms trying to harness the power of citizens with access to blogs and more recently smartphones with great cameras, in different fashions.
At the time of the Beijing Olympics, thoughts turned to the potential impact of citizen journalists descending on the city keen to share photos and information from the Games, and whether the famously controlled media landscape in China would be able to impose restrictions to citizen journalists.
"I would be careful with the suggestion that they can't control it," Hidde Kross, then at Dutch citizen journalism site Skoeps.com told Journalism.co.uk.
"Don't underestimate their brilliance in sorting out what's published on the internet. They have the finest brains in the world to work on content publishing, as well as filtering technologies."
Skoeps closed a year later after failing to find a sustainable business model.
In the UK, Trinity Mirror had been experimenting with hyper-local citizen journalism websites in the North East of England, which it then turned into print titles.
By August 2007, Trinity Mirror was publishing 20 such hyper-local sites, and six print newspapers that combined citizen journalism with stories from The Teesside Gazette editorial staff.
"The reality is that we would not have been able to populate papers at such a hyperlocal level without the content that has come to us through the micro-sites, we simply would not have the news content," Darren Thwaites, then editor of the Teesside Gazette, told Journalism.co.uk. Thwaites is now editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror North East.
NCTJ introduces online element into journalism exams
As newsroom practices change, so should the way journalism is taught on training courses to ensure those who graduate into the industry are equipped with the skills needed in real newsrooms.
Ten years ago, NCTJ recognised that journalists will be required to write for the websites of the news organisations employing them, as opposed to just for print, and introduced an online element in its NCE exam.
"This evolvement of the news interview section recognises the changing newsroom practices and presents candidates with the opportunity to write in a slightly different style to that normally required in the NCE," Steve Nelson, NCTJ journalism chief examiner told Journalism.co.uk at the time.
Reporters Twitter site to launch
A site called ReporTwitter was launching this month ten years ago, aimed at journalists who were fans of the latest social network at the time, Twitter.
It was designed to allow journalists to showcase their Tweets alongside articles, and Angelique van Engelen, the Dutch journalist who worked on the site, said Twitter was perfect for "setting a stage".
"It would be really nice if journalists that are tweeting set up an interview through it, for example. This is like reality-style reporting: it's an added dimension to journalism."
Nowadays, Twitter and other social networks have become an important source of stories, where journalists can find and contact eyewitnesses to news events (or citizen journalists, perhaps?) and set up interviews or request permission to use their images or video.
As Twitter is now key part of a digital journalist’s toolkit, the conversation has turned towards the ethics of approaching eyewitnesses on the platform, and the impact the “digital death knock" can have on those caught up in news events.
See you next week for more Throwback Thursday! Do you remember any predictions that never came to pass, or any quotes that were spot on from 'back in the day'? Tweet us at @journalismnews.
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