THE BRITISH LIBRARY

The Newsroom blog

News about yesterday's news, and where news may be going

Introduction

Whether you are studying history, politics, society, international relations, economics, media history, sports history or family history, our collections will have something for you Read more

19 December 2014

2014 - the year's news about news

Add comment Comments (0)

2014 has been an extraordinary, sometimes harrowing, year for news. It has also been a highly significant year for the production and use of news itself - hot topics have included the hacking trial, IPSO, Buzzfeed, data journalism, Google and the right to be forgotten, Brown Moses, Ezra Klein, and the New York Times's leaked Innovation report. It's also been a major year for the British Library's news collection, with the opening of our Newsroom and the successful conclusion of our newspaper digitisation programme. Here are some of the highlights from the year's news about news.

NYT

January

The re-design of the New York Times website was much discussed. Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher was sacked. The Birmingham Post's Business Daily Tablet edition, designed to  “reinvent business journalism within the regional press,” closed after seven months. Also owned by Trinity Mirror was The People, a Buzzfeed-style site populated with "native content". It lasted three months.  But Trinity enjoyed rather more success with viral news site UsVsTh3m. Charley Miller at Medium wondered if in the future we might all become personal broadcasters. News UK launched The Academy, to train teenagers to become journalists. James Harding of BBC News gave a key speech, 'Journalism Today' at the British Library (the first of our three WT Stead lectures). Philosopher Alan de Botton's book The News was not reviewed kindly. Facebook announced Paper. Kola Dumor, the BBC World News presenter, and Chris Chataway, athlete, politicians and news reporter for BBC and ITN, died.

Liberation

February

The staff of French left-wing journal Libération took over the front page to protest at the paper's shareholder group's plans to turn it into a social and cultural hub. Richard Sambrook and Sean McGuire argued that 24-hour news has had its day - and got an angry response from Sky News's Adam Boulton. London news radio station LBC went national. Marc Andreessen's optimistic piece, 'The Future of the News Business', was much shared and debated. 

538

March

American data guru Nate Silver launched data journalism site FiveThirtyEight. Getty made 35 million images freely available.  The New York Times issued a correction for an article written 20 January 1853. The Sun's Page 3 v Breast Cancer campaign did not impress the campaign site No More Page 3Susanna Reid left BBC Breakfast for ITV's planned Good Morning Britain programme. Are robots the future of news? Andrew Pettegree's book The Invention of News, on the early history of newspapers, was greatly admired. The Evening Standard-backed London TV Channel, London Live, went live.

Newsroom

April

The British Library opened its new reading room for news, the Newsroom. Emly Bell lectured at the Library on Journalism in the Age of Automation and Big Data. Celebrity news blogger Ezra Klein launched Vox.com, with its user-friendly 'cards' giving background information to stories. News headlines from UK regional newspapers became an Internet cult. Are automated breaking news stories the future of news? But what about how the news archives of tomorrow will look, asked Adrienne LaFrance. 26 searching questions for news organisations from Raju Narisetti about the move to digital. The Mirror's 'crying child' front cover (which turned out to be a stock photo, not a British child in need of food parcels) caused controversy. British Pathé released 85,000 historic newsreels on YouTube. The New York Times joined the explanatory journalism craze with offshoot The Upshot. Dutch government-funded news site Blendle asked you to pay for stories, giving you your money back if you were not completely satisfied

Innovation

May

Most discussed news-about-news subject of the year was probably the leaked copy of the New York Times's 'Innovation' report, making many - and not just in the newspaper world - think if they were doing enough about digital. But just why was the NYT's executive editor Jill Abramson fired? The British Library published a news content strategy (and not a newspaper strategy). Facebook and Storyful launched FB Newswire. London Live's chief programmer quit after terrible audience figures. Nate Silver's advice to young journalists - learn to code. Good Morning Britain launched (to a mixed reception). Max Clifford was found guilty. Journalist of the year? - quite possibly citizen journalist and social media sleuth Eliot Higgins aka Brown Moses. Immersive narratives became all the rage, led by BBC News's The Reykjavik Confessions. The British Newspaper Archive reached 8 million historic newspaper pages online. And the Duchess of Cambridge's rear became front page viewing (elsewhere).

Miliband

June

Ed Miliband's interview for Buzzfeed saw his comments on reading the news being analysed a great deal (he uses RealClearPolitics). Also much devoured was the Reuters Institute's annual Digital News Report. As was Robert Peston's speech on threats to journalism.  Benedict Cumberbatch helped bring BBC radio news scripts of D-Day (from the British Library's collection) back to life. Are drones the future of news? The Sun tried to give a free copy of a version of the paper backing the England football team at the World Cup, which didn't impress everyone. Ed Miliband then apologised for endorsing it. An Egyptian court sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail and one to ten years in jail. Jeremy Paxman stood down from Newsnight. At the end of the phone hacking trial, News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of a conspiracy to intercept voicemails, while former News International chief executive Mrs Brooks was found not guilty. Is Fox News more dangerous than ISIS? So Russell Brand claimed in a YouTube video. And the dream headline occured - Man Bites Dog

Ukraine

July

Social sleuthing from Storyful uncovered evidence of surface-to-air missiles in eastern Ukraine following the shooting down of airliner MH17, as verification of online information became the topic of the hour. Sky News' Colin Brazier was condemned for a live news broadcast when he briefly looked through the content of the luggage of one of the victims of MH17, and produced a thoughtful apology. Ian Burrell at The Independent said poor news coverage was exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. A European court decision allowed individuals to request that Google remove links to historical articles which has personal information that they would rather was forgotten. George Clooney forced Mail Online to apologise. Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow's heartfelt video account of the child victims in Gaza went viral. There was a timely and useful report on the state of hyperlocal community news in the UK. The Independent launched i100. Brown Moses launched the Bellingcat site to train others in crowdsourced reporting. The 'Fake Sheikh' was himself entrapped. Sarah Palin launched a news channel. There was plagiarism at BuzzfeedThe Sun said farewell to Wapping.

Vice

August

Medyan Dairieh of Vice News scooped the world with his insider video report on the Islamic State. Is virtual reality the future of news? Chapman Pincher died, aged 100. Nick Davies published Hack Attack, on the phone hacking saga. Newspapers marked the centenary of the First World War with solemnity. American started to get alarmed about ebola. David Carr pronounced on the imminent death of the print newspaper.  So did Clay Shirky. 4,000 Buzzfeed posts disappeared. The sound of typewriters returned to the newsroom of The Times. American journalist James Foley was murdered in Syria.

Scotland

September

According to Twitter, Scotland won its independence. Alan Rusbridger spoke at the British Library on the urgent need to protect journalists' sources. The Guardian announced the building of Guardian Space (in King's Cross). Do people remember news better if they read it in print? The dizzying decline of Britain's local newspapers. Newsnight's Ian Katz on the death of the political interview. Hannah Storm on how journalists are becoming propaganda. Independent press regulator IPSO was launched - Hacked Off was hacked off about it.

Bradlee

October

Legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died, aged 93. Ebola coverage - there was the good, the bad and the ugly. Among the good was much-praised single issue site Ebola Deeply. Among the ugly were fake news sites spreading ebola panic. Is Emergent the future of news? We considered how Edward Snowden changed journalism. Was Krishnan Guru-Murthy's interview with Richard Ayoade the greatest ever? Time travel was offered with the New York Times's TimesMachine archive service.

Getreading

November

Many saw the end of times with the news that Trinity Mirror was closing of seven regional print titles, including The Reading Post, and replacing them with a single website (GetReading). But Tien Tzuo said newspapers are not dying (at least, not some of them). The Newspaper Society and the Newspaper Publishers' Association merged to form the News Media Association. The British Newspaper Archive reached 9 million pages online. Print newspapers became available once more to British Library users, after a year's absence. Professor Aled Jones lectured at the BL on newspaper reading rooms and civic engagement.

Syrian

December

The 'Syrian Hero Boy' video (after being seen by millions) was revealed to be a sham. A new national newspaper was launched, the pro-independence Scottish title The National. Emily Bell's lecture 'Silicon Valley and journalism: make up or break up?' led to much thinking about the future of news. Andrew Norfolk was named journalist of the year at the British Journalism Awards for his investigations into child abuse for The Times. The archive of The Independent is to be digitised. A Wikipedia for news? Google News withdrew its service from Spain after a law was passed saying it had to pay royalties on use of news snippets. Now Spanish newspapers are complaining of loss of traffic. There was an Early Day Motion in the UK parliament against the closure of local newspapers. Alan Rusbridger announced he was standing down as Guardian editor-in-chief. Did Al-Jazeera's hackathon uncover the future of news? And finally, why it is bad news to publish only good news.

This blog is one year old today, by the way. See you next year.

18 November 2014

They are a-changin'

Add comment Comments (0)

Two recent news stories from the world of news have given indication of how time may eventually run out for print newspapers. On the other hand, strong arguments have also been made recently for the sturdy nature of the medium, which suggest that the British Library will be continuing to collect newpapers for a good while yet.

Nma

http://www.newsmediauk.org

Firstly, it was announced last week that two august newspaper institutions, the Newspaper Society and the Newspaper Publishers' Association have merged to form the News Media Association, saying goodbye in name to the medium to which they have been associated for over a century in the case of the latter, and nearly two hundred years in the case of the former. The Newspaper Society was founded in 1836 and has served as the industry body for regional and local newspapers in the UK.. The Newspaper Publishers' Association was founded in 1906 (as the Newspaper Proprietors' Association) and has served as the trade association of the UK's national papers.

Collectively the two organisations - which were already sharing the same offices - now represent the national, regional and local newspapers of the UK, and exist to promote the interest of what the NMA describes as "£6 billion sector read by 42 million adults every month in print and online". But the NMA's strapline is "the voice of national, regional and local newsbrands", and that's the heart of the matter. Their business is news, and newspapers are merely one means to that end. Most of our newsbrands originate in newspaper titles, but The Guardian, The Times and the Mail are no longer newspapers - they are news publishing hubs, distributing news through multiple channels, digital and print. 

Getreading

http://www.getreading.co.uk

Print newspapers have remained powerful even in an encroaching digital world in large part because they attract the greater part of the advertising market. But news from publishers Trinity Mirror last week indicates that change is on its way. Tales of regional papers closing or dailies converting into weeklies have been common over the past few years, but Trinity Mirror's closure of seven regional print titles - The Reading Post (a former daily title), its free sister title GetReadingWokingham Times, Bracknell Times, Surrey Herald, Woking Informer and Harrow Observer - is particularly dramatic. It will replace these with the GetReading website in what they are calling "a bold, digital only approach", driven by an increased digital market penetration in the area, with the number of unique users of the GetReading site having grown over the past year by 68%. Fifty posts will be lost, with twelve new ones created in the fields of digital editorial and digital commercial.

This could be the tipping point - where anticipated digital exposure starts to outweigh the lingering advantages of staying with print. Of course it is not a like-for-like transfer from print world to digital world, and has been greeted with dismay by champions of regional journalism as we have known it. But it indicates a greater certainly from some of those in the newspaper publishing business as to where they feel confident about going next. It indicates how groups of titles linked together by a common website may be more likely to disappear rather than the individual titles that we have seen so far. Some think it could be the end of local newspapers as we have known them.

But others see strong signs that the print newspaper may yet survive for a good while yet, or at least some print newspapers will. Tien Tzuo, founder and chief-executive of business management software company Zuora, wrote a defiant piece recently, reproduced by The Guardian, 'Let’s get over the whole 'newspapers are dying' thing'. he writes:

There are two prevailing narratives in print-to-digital media right now: the unstoppable VC-fuelled ascent of digital publishers like BuzzFeed and the inevitable decline of ink-stained legacy publishers like the New York Times. Both stories are wrong.

They assume digital media companies operate in some magical overhead-free universe with infinitely ascending online advertising rates, and that newspapers are permanently anchored to declining print revenues.

They also conflate content with form. Newspapers are intellectual assets, not physical ones. Their core product consists of making smart editorial decisions and publishing sharp voices. Whether you choose to read those voices on a phone or on a broadsheet makes no difference.

Tien Tzuo's confidence in the 'creative entrepreneurialism' of some of the UK's national newspapers (or companies "formerly known as newspapers" shows how a strong business model for print newspapers still exists. But it seems to be a national newspaper model, not necessarily one for regional titles, which must be more likely to contract and end up sharing centralised, digital newsrooms with web platforms. Digital first will inexorably turn into digital only.

It's a news media world now, and at the British Library we need to be alert to these changes as we work to archive the UK's published news as comprehensively as we can. The chances are that there will be far fewer print titles over the next few years, but that some strong newspapers will survive, as part of a multi-format news publishing strategy on the part of their owners. We archive both newspapers in print and newspaper websites, and if one of the former disappears we will be collecting its web successor. In whatever forms news is published, we should be ready for it.

 

15 October 2014

Newspaper reading rooms - a subversive history

Add comment Comments (0)

The third in our series of lectures named after the 19th century journalist WT Stead is to be given by Professor Aled Gruffydd Jones, newspaper historian and head of the National Library of Wales, on 21 November 2014 at the British Library. Entitled 'Newspaper reading rooms and civic engagement: a subversive history,' it will look the history of the newspaper reading room and their relation to civil society.

Newspaperreadingroom

The Old Newspaper Reading Room in the British Museum, Bloomsbury. Sell's Dictionary of the World's Press 1893. Copyright ©1999, The British Library Board

Newspaper readings rooms in the UK since the eighteenth-century have come in all shapes and sizes, from local literary societies and miners' institutes to august national institutions like the British Museum. Often they allowed access to both a range of relatively immediate information about the contemporary world and to the past. In both senses, they could serve as spaces not only for the quiet consumption of information but also for the development of creativity, the deepening of civic engagement and the enhancement of public education in the broadest sense.

6H3A8611

 The Newsroom at the British Library, St Pancras

Professor Jones's talk will look at the history of newspaper reading rooms, the role the collective reading of the Press has played in the building of civil society, and the creative challenges posed to the cultural and civic world they represented by the digital technologies and platforms that are a growing part of their current manifestation. The British Library's own Newsroom, opened earlier this year, is only the latest expression of a long and important tradition, fitted out for a digital age and hopefully playing its own part in contributing to the growth and maintenance of civil society.

Aled_jones

Aled Jones

Professor Aled Gruffydd Jones is Chief Executive of the National Library of Wales and a notable cultural historian, who has published on has published widely on newspaper and journalism history, the history of modern Wales, labour history, tand on the relationship between Wales, the British Empire and the Indian sub-continent. His publicati0ns include Powers of the Press: Newspapers, Power and the Public in Nineteenth-century England and Press, Politics and Society: History of Journalism in Wales. His is a broadcaster and columnist, and was the joint organiser of the first Welsh International Film Festival and co-founder of the film and video arts collective, Creu Cof. He has also acted as an advisor to the British Library on its newspaper digitisation plans. 

This will be the third in our series of W.T. Stead lectures, named after the 19th century journalist William Thomas Stead, which have looked at news past, present and future. The previous lectures were given by James Harding, head of BBC News, and Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Columbia.

The lecture will be from 18:00 on 21 November 2014 at the British Library at St Pancras, in the staff restaurant area on the first floor. Details of how to book for the event are on our What's On pages.