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26 posts categorized "British Newspaper Archive"

14 April 2016

Using old newspapers

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Denise Bates is a writer on social history whose latest book, Historical Research using British Newspapers, is a guide to using newspaper archives in research, particularly the British Newspaper Archive. In this guest blog post, she describes what led her to write about using digitised newspapers. 

Bates

The inspiration for Historical Research Using British Newspapers was a very modern concept; the blog. I used old newspapers extensively whilst researching my first two books, Pit Lasses and Breach of Promise to Marry. The positive reaction to my blog for the British Newspaper Archive about the differences between national and local newspapers surprised me as I had not expected this to be new learning. After more investigation I realised that twenty-first century historians have an exciting new resource, digitised, on-line newspapers, but little information about using them effectively. The seeds of my next project were planted.

When I first started using old newspapers, like many researchers I was learning on the job and made mistakes along the way. These included not knowing which titles were the best ones to consult first and thus wasting time trying to understand a topic that was well-covered in a different publication. I also made unrealistic assumptions about how much time was needed to locate and study reports. I decided on a book which brought together the many issues that are relevant to users of old newspapers, including the history of the press, how to find good quality information, how to use it productively and the pitfalls to avoid.

Digitised newspapers have a growing fan-base. Their preserved pages contain a rich vein of forgotten material, allowing researchers to broaden their enquiries from the standard sources on many topics and to cite new examples, rather than recycling the same few. Newspapers sometimes offer an unorthodox view of the past, with content which challenges the version that has been handed down in exam syllabuses and popular histories alike. For topics that have not been studied or written about, newspapers are an accessible way of rediscovering aspects of the past that have been forgotten.

Police

Illustrated Police News 29 July 1882. An artist's impression of a breach of promise case and a case of child cruelty.

Unanticipated discoveries have changed my understanding of the nineteenth century. When I used court reports to delve into the archaic world of the jilted women and men who sued a former fiancé for compensation, I found that no-win-no fee lawyers, who I had previously believed to be a product of the late twentieth century, ran flourishing practices as early as the 1820s. When I looked at several cases involving child cruelty or neglect in the 1890s, I entered a world of high-minded social workers who could not comprehend how the people they were trying to help had to live. Amongst some very serious and indisputable instances of ill-treatment, were several shocking but unwarranted accusations of laziness, selfishness and drunkenness made against caring parents whose wages were too low to feed and clothe their children properly, even though they had been instructed about cleanliness and nutrition. Suddenly I knew the roots of the fear that haunted working-class families as I grew up in the 1960s, that if you didn't do as 'they' said, 'they' might take your children away.

Vesuvius

'Eruption of Mount Vesuvius', Penny Illustrated Paper, 17 October 1863. This scene would have been a revelation to most readers of the time.

Every type of material has its drawbacks and old newspapers are far from being the perfect resource. The number of pages that are already on-line can make them unwieldy to handle if a query produces a large number of matches. It is possible to become overwhelmed by detail and miss important information or insight. There are plenty of places in the news chain where error can creep into a report and sometimes they cover a topic in a very superficial way. Occasionally a researcher may strike lucky and quickly locate an editorial or journalist's investigation that provides a complete answer. More usually it will be necessary to find, collate and analyse a number of individual reports in order to uncover the full story or unlock relevant learning.

Almost all sources are affected by bias and newspapers are no exception. They have been subjected to censorship, may have printed propaganda or portrayed opinion as fact. These problems are not insurmountable, but users need to know how to recognise and manage them in order to avoid jumping to false conclusions.  

When newspapers were first published, they opened up a wider world to the literate people of the day. Reproduced digitally, they are now allowing twenty-first century researchers to immerse themselves in the past in a way that no other resource can and make new discoveries.

Denise Bates (www.denisebates.co.uk)

23 March 2016

"The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality"

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Dean Kirby is a journalist who has been covering the news in and around Manchester, his home city, for nearly 20 years. His debut book, Angel Meadow: Victorian Britain's Most Savage Slum, published by Pen & Sword, is the first history of Angel Meadow, the 19th century Manchester slum so vile and dangerous that it was described by Friedrich Engels as "hell upon earth". To find out more about the book, visit www.angelmeadowbook.com. Here, Dean tells how he used British Library newspapers at the British Newspaper Archive to uncover the horrors of Angel Meadow.

01

When Manchester was the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, Angel Meadow was the city’s vilest and most dangerous slum.

A wild and brutal borderland at the northern edge of Cottonopolis, it was home to 30,000 workers who struggled for survival in conditions so appalling that it was described by Friedrich Engels as “hell upon earth” in 1845.

I became fascinated by the story of Angel Meadow when I discovered that my Victorian forefather, an Irish immigrant named William Kirby, had washed up there after surviving the potato famine.

In 2012, archaeologists investigating Victorian Manchester’s horrors made a startling discovery while digging up a car park in Angel Meadow – my  ancestor’s home.

They gave me permission to clamber down a shaky ladder to touch the still-sooty bricks of William’s fireplace and the paper-thin walls that separated his 10ft-square, one-up-one-down from the house next door.

As I searched for clues about my ancestor’s life in Manchester’s archives and began formulating the idea of writing a book, I started to drift off to the slum in my imagination.

I descended into damp cellars, stumbled through backyard pigsties and came face-to-face with scarred and tattooed street fighters or “scuttlers” in the slum’s smoke-filled beer houses.

I crept into dingy lodging houses where new arrivals were forced to sleep naked with strangers because it was the only way to keep their clothes free from lice.

The more I read, the most astonished I became by my ancestor’s survival in this hellish place – leading to my own existence more than a century later in the city that his blood sweat and tears had helped to create.

Morningchronicle

Morning Chronicle, 12 November 1849

My journey of discovery was led by an army of Victorian journalists who walked those streets for real, and whose words have survived among the millions of pages in the British Newspaper Archive.

They included men such as the Fleet Street journalist Angus Bethune Reach, who told readers of the Morning Chronicle in 1849 of his descent into one of Angel Meadow’s many inhabited cellars, where he found an old man asleep in a shallow cave no bigger than a coffin scooped out of the wall.

“The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester is called, singularly enough, Angel Meadow,” he wrote. “It is full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps and, in the very worst sties of filth and darkness, by those unhappy wretches, the low Irish.”

Another journalist from the Manchester Evening News, my former newspaper, found himself on the run from the police in 1874 after entering a beerhouse disguised as a rogue with a criminal named Mack acting as his guide.

The terrified reporter fled into a lodging house operated by a notorious thief-trainer named Cabbage Ann and found her superintending a wake for an eminent pick-pocket or “gun”.

“The place looked squalid and miserable,” the journalist later wrote, “and the people in it were of poor, miserable appearance, as if they found it hard to live at all.”

Searching the newspaper archive like an investigator hunting for further clues, I slowly managed to piece together the real identity of Cabbage Ann, and other slum dwellers with exotic names such as Jemmy the Crawler, the Badger and Long Dick.

Beautifully-written nineteenth century court reports allowed me to follow every twist and turn of their lengthy criminal careers, while useful snippets such as weather forecasts helped me to say whether it was raining in Manchester when they committed their crimes.

Burgess

Henry Burgess, from Staffordshire Record Office

I also used census documents and prison archives held by findmypast.co.uk to create pen pictures of the most notorious criminals – right down to their eye colour and tattoos.

One man in particular jumped out from the pages. He was called Henry Burgess (Harry to his relatives) and he was a scuttler who, at just 5ft-tall and with steel-coloured eyes, was the most feared man in Angel Meadow.

Burgess, a neighbour of my ancestor William Kirby, had more than 40 convictions to his name including shop-breaking, rioting and assaults on police. No-one was safe including his partner, Mary Ellen Burns, who lost an eye when he attacked her with an iron poker.

Thanks to the stories in the archive, I eventually managed to track down a prison mugshot of Burgess in which he stares with cold, hard eyes and shaven head towards the camera. 

Deposition

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 9 May 1893

In all of the hundreds of pages of newsprint that I read during my research, one story involving Burgess perfectly symbolised the horrors of Angel Meadow.

On Saturday, May 6, 1893, as Britain was sweltering under a drought, Burgess got into a row with a rival named Thomas Matthews in the streets of the slum.

He took a paraffin lantern from his sister’s parlour, marched down the street and, planting his feet on the cobbles, threw it at Matthews and turned him into a human fireball.

Matthews, a father to a young daughter, died from horrific burns at Manchester Royal Infirmary in the early hours after giving a statement to the police identifying Burgess as his killer.

Matthews' final words were immortalised in black newspaper ink in one of the many columns, just a few inches long, that had been carefully preserved in the British Newspaper Archive.

I was perhaps the first person to read those words, spoken by Matthews with badly burned lips and tongue, in more than 120 years.

“I am very ill,” he said, “and I believe I am going to die.”

 

Dean Kirby

01 April 2015

Newspapers remotely

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Afro_american

African-American newspapers

Users of the British Library's newspaper collections have three main choices: if they have a Reader's Pass, they can come to the Newsroom at our St Pancras site, or use the reading room at our Yorkshire site in Boston Spa; or they can subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive, the service that provides access to our digitised British and Irish newspapers - 400 titles, and now over 10 million pages. We also have historic newspapers available via Gale Digital Collections. All electronic newpspaers resources to which we contribute or to which we subscribe are freely available to anyone with a Reader's Pass who comes to either our St Pancras or Boston Spa sites.

It is possible, however, to access some newspaper collections remotely i.e. wherever you might be sitting, and without payment. A small number of newspaper collections that we have licensed from third parties (so not newspapers from our physical collections that have been digitised) are available via the British Library's Remote Eresources service. This isn't so well known about, and is more than worth highlighting. It's a service available to anyone with a Reader's Pass, and all you need to do is enter your username and password, agree to the conditions of use, and you're in.

Africanamerican

The newspapers all come via Readex, who provide a wide range of online research resources to academic libraries. Their newspaper and news-related offerings that we can provide access to remotely are:

  • African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 - provides online access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience. This unique collection features papers from more than 35 states - including many rare and historically significant 19th century titles.
  • Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans 1639-1800 - contains virtually every book, pamphlet and broadside published in America during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Early American Newspapers, Series I - reproductions of hundreds of historic newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images. 
  • Latin American Newspapers Series 1, 1805-1922 - part of Readex's World Newspaper Archive, this database provides access to more than 35 fully searchable Latin American newspapers including key titles from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Peru.
  • World Newspaper Archive: African Newspapers, 1800-1922 - part of Readex's World Newspaper Archive. African Newspapers includes over 30 fully searchable African newspapers including key publications from Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

We have other news-related resources available via Remote Eresources:

  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Reports 1974-1996 - US government operation which translates the text of daily broadcasts, government statements, and select news stories from non-English sources. Covers: Middle East & North Africa, 1974-1987; Near East & South Asia, 1987-1996; South Asia, 1980-1987; Sub-Saharan Africa, 1974-1996; China, 1974-1996; Asia & the Pacific, 1974-1987; Eastern Europe, 1974-1996; Soviet Union, 1974-1996.
  • US Congressional Serial Set - reports, documents and journals of the US Senate and House of Representatives in full text, 1817-1994. 

For more on our Remote Eresources, and what you can and cannot do with them, see our FAQs page.

27 February 2015

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 37

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Here's the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our now monthly round-up of news about news. So here are the highlights from February 2015. It's been a full month, what with one thing and another - Peter Oborne quitting the Telegraph, NBC's Brian Williams exposed, the Future of the BBC report, 10 million digitised newspaper pages, plunging circulations, and 64 ways t0 make a news homepage. Plus newspapers as poetry. Read on...

Circulations

The UK's biggest newspapers are all dying: Graphic of the month from Dadaviz appears to say it all. As Roy Greenslade noted at The Guardian, regional newspaper titles are also suffering yet more substantial sales declines.

How the New York Times works: Terrific long article by Reeves Wiedeman at Popular Mechanics, with great illustrations, on how the New York Times gets published. Essential reading.

Why I have resigned from the Telegraph: Political commentator Peter Oborne quit the Daily Telegraph with this incendiary post from OpenDemocracy, in which he accuses the paper's owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal.

The Telegraph's promise to our readers: After Peter Oborne's explosive denunication of his former employers, the Telegraph came up with this much-commented-upon statement of principles.

Snapchat stories: Nieman Lab looks at how six news organisations are making use of the app whose messages disappear after your've read them. But, asks Mathew Ingram at Gigaom, are media companies building another house of cards on SnapChat?

Someone is handing out hand-drawn copies of The Guardian and no one knows why: Mysterious hand-drawn copies of The Guardian from four years ago were being handed out at London Bridge station. It turned out to be the work of artist Charlotte Mann.

Green Party's Natalie Bennett gives 'excruciating' radio interview: Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, gave an agonisingly awkward radio interview for Nick Ferrari on LBC in which she struggled to answer basic questions about the party's economic policy.

NBC’s Brian Williams recants Iraq story after soldiers protest: Scoop of the month came from American military paper Stars and Stripes, which revealed that NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was not on board a helicopter hit and forced down by fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as he had long claimed.

Brian Williams has gone, but false news is bigger business than ever: Emily Bell looks at the acceleration of untrue news stories in the web world, following the exposure of Brian Williams.

64 ways to think about a news homepage: Fantastic illustrated post from Melody Joy Kramer on different ways to present the news online - actual, or potential.

 

Cassetteboy remix the news: Irresistible mash-up of BBC news clips from the Cassetteboy remixing duo.

Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show: Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show - an essential news source for many in America (and beyond) - is to step down.

Future of the BBC: The Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report Future of the BBC addresses the hot topic of the broadcaster's relationship with and effect upon regional newspapers, and comes up with these recommendations:

The BBC must not expect to receive others' news content without providing something in return. We are attracted by the idea of exchanges of content and information, where the BBC local websites link to the source of local material they have used, and in return the BBC allows others to use its content and embed BBC clips on their sites, where these would be of local interest, under a licence agreement. There need not be a financial transaction. However, we also see the case for the BBC outsourcing the supply of some local content on a commercial basis, where there is an ongoing requirement for such material, and it is a more cost-effective way of meeting this need. We recommend this be ensured by extending the BBC's independent production quota to cover local news.

Why is the BBC just so bad at TV news?: Meanwhile, a provocative opinion piece from Michael Church at The Independent, comparing the BBC News channel to Al Jazeera.

Fox News site embeds unedited Isis video showing brutal murder of Jordanian pilot: To show or not to show? Fox News chose to; The Guardian, reporting on this, and most other news sites, did not.

10 million newspaper pages are now fully searchable at the British Newspaper Archive: The British Newspaper Archive, which is digitising newspapers from the British Library's collection, has reached the magic milestone of 10 million digitised newspaper pages.

How about a search of only original news reporting on Google?: Hmm, interesting proposal from Jeff Jarvis, writing at Medium.

If UK newspapers wrote unhinged Twitter poetry: And finally, Journalism.co.uk offers us some poetic renditions of British newspapers, taken from their Twitter feeds, using the Poetweet site. Here's @MailOnline expressed in rondel form...

Mail_poem

01 February 2015

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 36

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Times are hard in the news industry, as all will know, and this applies to the news curator's blog as well. It just hasn't proved possible to keep up the weekly production of our St Pancras Intelligencer round-up of the week's news about news which ran for most of 2014. But we're unwilling to see a good title die, so the Intelligencer is making its tentative return as a monthly (or thereabouts). Here's hoping the strategy is a successful one - and let's kick things off again with the news about news in January.

Future

The Future of News -  There have been many reports on the future of news, and the latest comes from BBC head of news James Harding. He argues that

in the internet age, the BBC is more necessary and valuable than ever. The internet is not keeping everyone informed, nor will it: it is, in fact, magnifying problems of information inequality, misinformation, polarisation and disengagement. Our job is keeping everyone informed.

He says the BBC must increase both its local and global coverage and improve its digital services, and it's the increase in local coverage that has excited the most comment from the local newspaper world, which feels threatened by the BBC's reach at a time of shrinking newspaper titles and shrinking revenues.

Future of News: News v Noise - The key points from Harding's report have been published as an "immersive journey" on the BBC news website. 

Emily Bell's 2015 Hugh Cudlipp lecture - Also on the future of news and journalism was this lecture by Emily Bell, the director of Columbia University’s Tow Centre for digital journalism, in which calls for social networks and journalists to work together.

We are seeing unimaginably large new entities, which get their size from publishing not just a selected number of stories but everything in the world. Social networks and search engines are the masters of this universe. As we see the disappearance of print as a significant medium, and the likely decline of broadcast television, the paths our stories and journalism must travel down to reach readers and viewers are being shaped by technologies beyond our control.

The answer, she argues, is for more journalists who a more technically proficient, and for social networks and search engines to hire more technologists who are understand the news.

Because at the moment we have a situation which is not working for either of us. Those of us engaged with what journalism is and will be, who have a direct and vested interest in the protection of free speech and standards for information have a lot to do, and we need to work together, because we are now part of one continuous global information loop.

Newspaper front pages around the world pay tribute to Charlie - The overpowering story of the month has been the murder by two Islamist gunmen of cartoonists and journalists working for French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The aftermath included the 'survivors' issue' with its front cover cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, which had a seven million print run (instead of the usual 60,000). Of the many debates triggered by the calamitious events, some of the most interesting have been on the role of cartoonists. George Brock at The Conversation wrote 'In Praise of the Cartoonist - solitary, studios and searing.' Peter Preston wrote sadly at The Guardian that 'Alas for cartoonists, pen and ink don’t wash on the web' while Ricardo Bilton at Digiday argued quite the opposite, reporting that 'Digital publishers turn to cartoons to cover the news'.

'Muslim-controlled' UK city claim mocked by #FoxNewsFacts hashtag - Much joy was brought by the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts following Fox News terrorism expert Steve Emerson's bold statement that there were no-go zones in Europe where "non-Muslims just simply don’t go", among them Birmingham. Tweets along the lines of "Mecca Bingo, probable proof of the Islamic domination of Birmingham" and "Spaghetti Junction was specifically designed to make sure all roads lead to Mecca" brought some gaiety to dark times. The Poke gathered a selection of the best of them.

Watch out for @Bellingcat - An interview on Columbia Journalism Review with British blogger Eliot Higgins (previously known as Brown Moses), whose citizen investigative journalism website Bellingcat feature closely-analysed evidence from social media, YouTube and data sources of stories such as the MH17 crash.

Timeline launches news app to give you the context behind the day’s headlines - Another day, another news aggregator app, but Timeline wants to bring you the historical context behind the headlines.

Vice News debuts 'virtual reality news broadcast' of US Millions March - Online news broadcaster Vice News demonstrated a possible advance in news broadcasting when it teamed up with digital artist Chris Milk and filmmaker Spike Jonze for a “virtual reality news broadcast” filmed at the Millions March protest rally at the death of Eric Garner in New York. The 360-degree view film followed Vice News correspondent Alice Speri through the march in December. It's available via the VRSE app for iPhone and Android devices.

Introducing Discover - Snapchat, the service that let's you send messages that get deleted after they've been read, has launched Discover, an app promises "a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams". According to Nieman Lab, Snapchat’s new Discover feature could be a significant moment in the evolution of mobile news.

Beforeandafter

The British Library's newspaper collection as it was little more than a year ago (in Colindale) and as it is now (in Boston Spa)

Into the void - The British Library officially opened the National Newspaper Building, its new home for the UK's newspaper archives at Boston Spa in Yorkshire. Our blog post takes a look inside the building's storage void and traces the journey from Colindale to Boston Spa for the 60 million volumes held in the nation's newspaper archive.

9.5 million newspaper pages now fully searchable on @BNArchive - Talking of which, the British Newspaper Archive is close to the ten million milestone of digitising historic newspaper pages from the British Library. Just another 440 million to go...

After 44 years The Sun stops publishing topless model pics on page three - Well, so said Press Gazette and many others, including The Sun's sister paper The Times, which broke the news, and there was much debate as to whether changing taste, pressure from lobbyists, or financial arguments had forced the change. Three days later, Page 3 returned.

Google is now a more trusted source of news than the websites it aggregates - Quartz reports that online search engines have overtaken traditional media as the most trusted source for general news and information.

 

19 December 2014

2014 - the year's news about news

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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  â€śreinvent 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 LibĂ©ration 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 PathĂ© 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.

15 August 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 31

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Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 

Islamicstate

https://news.vice.com/video/the-islamic-state-full-length

The Islamic State: Medyan Dairieh scooped the world with his inside report on the Islamic State, the fruit of three weeks spent embedded with the group in Syria and Iraq. A notable coup for Vice News, the youth-oriented news service increasingly challenging the methods of the mainstream media companies. Originally released in five parts, linked here to the full forty-minute report (with some disturbing scenes, please note).

Print is down, and now out: David Carr's piece for the New York Times on how media companies are spinning off newpapers, which could be an indication of bad things for the medium, has been much discussed all week.

The persistent financial demands of Wall Street have trumped the informational needs of Main Street. For decades, investors wanted newspaper companies to become bigger and diversify, so they bought more newspapers and developed television divisions. Now print is too much of a drag on earnings, so media companies are dividing back up and print is being kicked to the curb.

See also Columbia Journalism Review's The great newspaper spin-off and Roy Greenslade's Will newsprint-only companies really hasten the demise of newspapers? On the other hand, News Corp's Robert Thomson announced ""We remain firm believers in the power of print", adding ""Print is a concentrated, intense reading experience with unique affinity in our digitally distracted age." So who really knows?

UK press coverage of the death of Robin Williams: The issue of tabloid and social media coverage of the suicide of Robin Williams is sensitively handled by David Banks at his Media Law blog.

Turning a profit in the Netherlands: How a Dutch hyperlocal network has grown: Joseph Lichterman at Nieman Journalism Lab on the success of Dutch hyperlocal website network Dichtbij.

The relentless trauma of covering Gaza: Jared Malsin at Columbia Journalism Reviews on how even seasoned war correspondents are feeling the impacts of witnessing continual civilian casualties.

Ebola

All quiet on the ebola front in Lincolnshire: Quite possibly the news story of the year, brought to the grateful residents of the county by the Lincolnshire Echo and noted by the Media Blog - though China's news agency Xinhua's confident assurance that "There is no evidence that coffee and onions cure Ebola" surely runs it very close.

6 things publishers need to know about UK media consumption, from Ofcom's latest report: They include the bald asertion that newspapers would not be missed by most of us: "just two percent of respondents saying a newspaper would be form of media they would miss the most", notes The Media Briefing.

Behind the BBC's interactive 'The rise of the Islamic State: Journalism.co.uk reports on the production of the BBC's innovative interactive video piece 'The rise of the Islamic State'.

160,000 newspaper pages added from 1787-1954: They continue to go full steam ahead at the British Newspaper Archive, adding 160,000 pages in July, including the London Evening Standard (for some years in the 1860s, please note), Glasgow’s Daily Record and the Surrey Comet.

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998: A great new digital service just introduced into the British Library's Newsroom is this Readex World Newspaper Archive collection of around 270 US newspapers documenting the African American experience over a century and a half.

Graphic content: How media differ on use of Gaza images: BBC Monitoring shows how news organisations in different countries have approached the use of images about Gaza.

11 July 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 26

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Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news. It may be summer holiday time, but there is so much going on - George Clooney taking on Mail Online (and winning), the fallout from the phone hacking trial, BBC TV news at 60 (supposedly), the rise of hyperlocal news, and lots of digitised newspapers being added online.

Clooney

Via USA Today

Exclusive: Clooney responds to 'Daily Mail' report: This week's news lesson is that there are some things in this world that wield greater power than Mail Online, and one of those is George Clooney. The American actor reacted furiously to a story about his future mother-in-law via USA Today with a strong critique of its newsgathering ethos. An apology from Mail Online followed swiftly after, and the story was removed  from its website (it still exists, in reduced form, in the separately edited print version).

'Yes journalists have broken the law, and we should be pleased and proud that they did': An impassioned post-Coulson piece from Mick Hume for Press Gazette, on how journalists have broken the law or broken rules in the past to uncover the truth, from John Wilkes in the 18th century, to WT Stead in the 19th, to the Sunday Times investigative team in the 20th.

Of course journalists are "not above the law". But neither should they be subject to special prosecution and persecution, as has happened in the UK over the past three years with the arrest of more than 60 tabloid journalists. Strangely, few of those high-minded media types at the BBC or Channel 4 news now protesting about the jailing of journalists in Egypt have offered a peep of protest about the criminalisation of tabloid journalism in Britain – and not because anybody has taped over their mouths.

BBC TV News reaches 60-year milestone: BBC News celebrates the sixtienth anniversary of its first TV news bulletin  on 5 July 1954., with Richard Baker reading the headlines (he wouldn't be seen on screen for another three years). Strictly speaking, BBC TV news started in January 1948 with Television Newsreel, unmentioned in this anniversary piece, which is otherwise a great summary of how its news has developed into the age of 24-hour channels and the Internet.

Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton on Rebekah, Rupert, paywalls and filling the gap left by the News of the World: A great interview in Press Gazette with Victoria Newton, editor of Sun of Sunday, on thriving in a changing world:

Obviously in terms of print it’s a declining market ... A huge chunk of readers went out of the market with the News of the World. About 800,000 readers just went, which is devastating because you find it very hard to get them back – especially in the digital world.

Newspaper industry to review audience count metrics: Interesting. The Drum reports that Newsworks, the marketing body for UK national newspapers is to conduct a review of audience measurement metrics for the industry to reflect the changing ways in which we now read the papers, from print and laptops to tablets and mobile. 

The New Yorker alters its online strategy: and while it does so, the magazine will be making making all the articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months before introducing a paywall for online subscribers. The offer starts 21 July.

Punch Historical Archive goes online: The Punch Historical Archive has gone online, with 7,900 issues (200,000 pages) from all volumes of the satirical magazine published between 1841–1992 now available via the Gale NewsVault to subscribing institutions.

Whitstabletimes

The Whitstable Times, 23 December 1950, Image © Local World Limited

240,000 extra newspaper pages from 1752-1954: Keen-eyed newspaper archive watchers will have noticed that the number of pages being added to the British Newspaper Archive is double or more per month what it used to be. 240,000 extra pages were added in June for the period 1752-1954, including the Lichfield Mercury, Selkirk’s Southern Reporter, the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald and the Illustrated Times.

Diving into newspaper archives: Chronicling America: We're big on digitised newspaper archives this week, which is great. Here's a really useful Europeana Newspapers interview with Deborah Thomas from the Library of Congress' online newspaper archive Chronicling America.

Newspapers in Europe and the Digital Agenda for Europe: Yet more on digitised newspapers: the British Library is hosting a Europeana Newspapers workshop 29-30 September, which will be in  two parts: What is the value of newspapers? and Barriers to improving access to digitised newspapers.

The state of hyperlocal community news in the UK: Two AHRC-funded projects at the universities of Cardiff, Birmingham City and Westminster have combined to produce this clear, useful and timely report into the state of hyperlocal news (including asking such pertinent questions as How local is hyperlocal?).

Press freedom is being frustrated as privacy becomes new libel: Thought-provoking piece in The Standard from Roy Greenslade on the threats to journalism he sees in the European Court of Justice's 'right to be forgotten' ruling and the UK's Data Protection Act:

Privacy has become the new libel, and the loser in the long run will be the people who misguidedly think of “the media” as some kind of homogeneous evil institution. In fact, it is there for them, not against them.

A $52 million loss, but a good year for The Guardian: Columbia Journalism Review looks admiringly at how The Guardian's ownership by the Scott Trust has enabled it to paper to experiment and expand digitally across the globe. On the same theme, Gideon Spanier at The Independent interviews Andrew Millar, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group in a post strikingly titled The death of the newspaper has been exaggerated (which is not the same thing as the print newspaper, please note). Having an ÂŁ843M investment fund certainly helps.

Sir Ray Tindle 'totally convinced' of almost complete return to 'full viability' for local press: More from the newspaper optimism corner. Ray Tindle of publishing group Tindle Newspapers sees the turning of the corner for the local press.

Why you can no longer expect that the news will find you: Tom Krazit at Gigaom warns us on how corporations such as Facebook and Google control the flow of news they think we want to see. Talking of which, All Tech Considered looks at searching for news stories on the World Cup and discovers that in Google Newsroom, Brazil defeat is not a headline.

Beacon Reader's crowdfunding platform now lets supporters fund topics as well as journalists: There are crowdfunded journalism startups that let you fund specific journalists; now how about funding individual topics you'd like to see covered? Mathew Ingram at Gigaom looks at one example, Beacon Reader.

Rolf Harris sentencing made Saturday a good day to bury bad news about the jailing of a national newspaper editor: How Rolf helped bury Andy, with Press Gazette asking why.

 

30 June 2014

News reference workshops

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If you are new to the newspaper and other news collections at the British Library, or if you simply feel in need of a refresher on how to get the best out of our services, then our News Reference Workshops will be just the thing for you. These free workshops are run by our newspaper reference team and news curators, and are designed to provide general introductions different parts of the collection. There is workshop on using the Newsroom (which will feature on a monthly, regular basis), and workshops on specific areas such as early and modern newspapers, news-related electronic services, television news, and the British Newspaper Archive. Each lasts 45mins to an hour.

British-library-newsroom

Introduction to the Newsroom
This session aims to provide an introduction to the Newsroom and the news collections as well as basic guidance for researchers using the Reading Room. The session will:

  • Provide an overview of the scope and history of our news collections
  • Explain what digital news sources are available
  • Explain how to search for and order newspapers
  • Provide information on resources and services in the Reading Room

Dates: 8 July (14.30); 5 Aug (14.30); 9 Sept (14.30); 7 Oct (14.30); 11 Nov (14.30); 9 Dec (14.30)
To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

Introduction to early newspapers: From the early 17th century to the mid-19th century
This workshop will include:

  • The development of newspapers from the early C17th to the mid C19th.
  • The origins of the national and regional press in the UK
  • Early newspaper collections at the British Library
  • Searching for early newspapers in the British Library catalogue (Explore the British Library)
  • Digitised early newspapers

Date: 26 Nov (14.30)
To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

Introduction to modern newspapers: mid-19th – 20th century
This workshop will include:

  • The development of newspapers from the mid C19th to the present day
  • Modern newspaper collections at the British Library
  • British/Irish newspapers received on Legal Deposit
  • Overseas newspapers
  • Searching for modern newspapers in the British Library catalogue (Explore the British Library)

Date: 20 Aug (14.30)
To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

News-related electronic resources
This session will cover the range of news related electronic resources available at the BL and how to access this material. The session will include:

  • Awareness of newspaper electronic resources and importance of newspaper e-resources for contemporary research.
  • Highlighting the various ways to access BL newspaper e-resources.
  • Demonstrations of key newspaper e-resources.
  • Showcasing the variety of newspaper databases including facsimile and text only e-resources, and various news related bibliographies and indexes available at the BL.

Date: 24 Sept (14.30)
To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

Television and Broadcast News service
Our Broadcast News service has four years of television and radio news programmes from the UK and adds 60 hours every day. We also provide onsite access to 200,000 BBC television and radio programmes. This workshop will give a guide to finding and using television news at the British Library, and to television archive sources in the UK.

Date: 21 Oct (14.30)

To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

Using the British Newspaper Archive
This presentation and short practical session offers an introduction to the British Newspaper Archive (BNA). It will cover the scope and techniques of the digitisation programme and highlight the advantages of using newspapers as digital resources. The talk will explore the content of the BNA in terms of titles, dates and regional areas of the UK and Ireland.

The practical element looks at basic and advanced searching, getting help, printing and some of the more advanced features such as My Research, contextual information, corrections and tagging.

Attendees are encouraged to register with the BNA before arrival.

Date: 23 July (14.30)

To book a place, please email us at: newspaper@bl.uk

More information on British Library workshops and training events is provided here. You can book by emailing us at newspaper@bl.uk, or just ask any of the staff at the Newsroom reference desk.

20 June 2014

St Pancras Intelligencer no. 23

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Welcome to the latest edition of the St Pancras Intelligencer, our weekly round-up of news about news - stories about news production, publications, apps, digitised resources, events and what is happening with the newspaper collection (and other news collections) at the British Library. 

Paxman

Jeremy Paxman's final Newsnight

Jeremy Paxman signs off from Newsnight: Jeremy Paxman, host of BBC's Newsnight, bowed with a curious programme that had Paxman and Boris Johnson on a tandem, Michael Howard finally saying 'no', Paxman feeling tempted to say (as with Peter Finch in Network) that "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more" (but saying it sweetly), a goodbye to the tune of 'I'd like to teach the world to sing', and a final refusal to read out the weather properly. Time to move on, for all parties' sake.

Broadcast news: We now have 50,000 television and radio news programmes recorded and available for instant onsite access at the British Library. Here's a guide to how to find and use them.

Why the Oxford Mail is experimenting with WhatsApp: The Whatsapp smartphone messaging app is exciting much interest jin news circles, and the Oxford Mail has made an imaginative step in using the app to pass on news to subscribers. Journalism.co.uk investigates.

News sites ally with Mozilla in ongoing quest to reinvent online commenting: Much interest in the New York Times and Washington Post working with Mozilla to develop a platform that will tackle issues like unonymous trolls who plague the comment threads of news and other sites. The Guardian's report looks at the motivation (will it be open source?) and how other news sites manage the comments they receive.

The anatomy of a robot journalist: Nicholas Diakopoulos at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism explains how automated journalism works.

Time divides, ads subtract and it's hard to sum up newpapers' future: Peter Preston at The Observer looks at the World Association of Newspapers' annual survey of trends in 70 countries, and sees a mixture of good and bad news for the medium, but asks the crucial question: "Would anyone today invent something called a newspaper'?"

Reddit's newsgathering comes of age after growing pains: Mashable looks at how Reddit has turned things round for its gathering of news since its calamitous misuse during 2013's Boston Marathon bombing, which led to accusations being made against an innocent college student.

Ed Miliband apologises for endorsing The Sun: Ed Miliband posed for a picture showing him holding a free copy of The Sun newspaper with its World Cup theme (as did the Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Clegg), then ended up apologising for his action the next day after party members complained. The Spectator reports. Holding the media is easier than handling it...

No point in fanning the flames over the great Sun giveaway: Did you get your free copy of The Sun? I'm rather disappointed that I didn't (in a conflicted sort of way), but many of those who did turned to social media to express their disgust and to show ways in which were disposing of the paper. Grey Cardigan pours cold water on such attitudes, and dismisses the suggestions in some quarters that the paper could be fined for not publishing an imprint.

Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS: Content Management Systems are cool, and they are essential to innovative online journalism. Here's a really interesting - and smartly illustrated - guide to the New York Times' Scoop CMS.

 

The TV news where you are is not the TV news where we are...: Roy Greenslade passed on this gem of a monologue from Scottish author James Robertson, one of a series of 365-word witty thought pieces, which offers an astute lesson how one person's news is not always another person's news (but is this in the mind of the producer or the consumer?) You can read the text of 'The News Where You Are' here.

15 Crazy Facts About BuzzFeed That Will Totally Blow Your Mind: A Buzzfeed-style guide to Buzzfeed from the New York Times magazine e.g. "Listicles with 42 items are viewed the most (104 posts for 44,582,700 views), while 4-item lists are viewed the least (4,635 posts for 75,452 shares)."

A paper boat navigating a digital sea: More from NYT, this time Margaret Sullivan, pondering (as every commentator has) on what sort of digital future the title has "when the business model — and the DNA of the newsroom — is so tied to the printed newspaper".

National newspapers, local newspapers and cases of breach of promise: An interesting and useful post on the British Newspaper Archive blog by Denise Bates, on how historical regional newspapers often have more essential detail for the historian than do the nationals.

Jeremy Hunt reaffirms his faith in local TV despite low viewing ratings: The ratings for the local TV stations such as London Live are terrible so far, but Jeremy Hunt, who came up with the idea, still holds out hope. "If New York can manage six local TV stations the idea that London cannot sustain one is bonkers, despite the desire of competitors to rubbish it."

Should the BBC unpublish any of its online content?: Now here's food for thought. David Jordan, the BBC's Director of Editorial Policy and Standards, considers the implications of the European Union Court of Justice's ruling that Google must remove some search results on individuals if they can be proven to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."

Today, the BBC is publishing Editorial Policy Guidance about when we remove or amend BBC online content. Essentially, this says that material on the BBC website which is not available for a limited time period will become part of a permanently accessible archive that we are reluctant to remove or change and that we will only do so in exceptional circumstances. We are also reluctant to remove or alter programmes available on BBC iPlayer during the catch-up period.

Man bites dog: What joy there must have been at the South Wales Argus when they were genuinely able to run with the most legendary of news headlines.

Manbitesbog

Via Press Gazette