Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Archive for the ‘independent’ tag

Taking Contributoria out of beta – and into newsprint


Today’s an important landmark in the evolution of the independent journalism network

The tagline’s changed for a start – and we’ve gone into PRINT! Plus there’s a paid membership scheme launched as part of our six month anniversary.

As editor and one of the co-founders (with Matt McAlister and Dan Catt), people often ask me how it’s going – so here’s some vital statistics created by our designer Dean Vipond.


If you want to help us develop this model of funding quality journalism in a sustainable way, you can join up now – find out more on that here.

The full press release, complete with downloadable images, is available here:

Written by sarahhartley

July 1st, 2014 at 10:51 am

Build your own newsroom – software for independent publishers

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Open source media organisation Sourcefabric has been in touch tonight with news of a new software called Superdesk which it’s starting work on.

It’s something that could be of interest to independent publishers, as well as larger news organisations, so I’ve posted their release below – I’d like to hear from anyone who tries it out too.

“Superdesk’s aim is to allow news organisations to build flexible, scalable newsrooms and deliver content to any available platform. Superdesk has been nominated as a finalist in the Ashoka Changemakers Citizen Media Innovation award.
The tool’s core principle is “create once, publish everywhere” (COPE). Using APIs and content management, Superdesk allows newsrooms to pull in information from newswires, RSS, tools like InDesign, and social media and then output to web, mobile, radio, TV, and print. Forward planning calendars, source and data management and revenue components allow newsrooms to structure, prioritise and monetise their content.

Superdesk’s central paradigm will be the web, but it will be able to deliver on any platform, any device, anywhere, anytime,” said Sava Tatić, managing director at Sourcefabric. “Flexibility is key. Rather than trying to build a tool made for everyone’s newsroom, we are making a tool that everyone can build their newsroom upon.”

Superdesk’s lead consultant is David Brewer a media strategist who has consulted on newsrooms for Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN and ITV. “It’s a dream come true for me,” he said. “Superdesk could become the publication tool of choice for all who want to deliver content to multiple devices and a massive boost to the establishing of independent media.”

Work on the project has already begun, with prototype features already benefiting newspapers like the new print-online hybrid TagesWoche in Switzerland. TagesWoche is using Print Desk, which brings print and online processes into one workflow, and Feed Ingest, which integrates external newswire feeds into the editorial process. Both features will make it into the first Superdesk release, due in Summer 2012.

For more information visit:

Written by sarahhartley

November 9th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Here is the news (but only if it’s not too controversial)


News of another newspaper launch which promises nothing but “good news” appeared on my radar this morning.

According to HTFP,  the 6-page free colour tabloid now being distributed to 20,000 homes and businesses in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland will concentrate on “enterprise, activity, events and good news stories”.

Of course there’s nothing new in seeking out positivity – for years editors of local and regional newspapers have wrestled with different ways of answering their readers’ oft-stated complaint that the local paper is full of grim bad news with tales from the courtroom and crime releases given undue prominence.

I even have a hazy memory of an editor who wanted to signify positive stories with the use of a smiley face motif, and it’s become commonplace for plenty to regularly reserve front of paper positions for the fluffy animal or “…..and finally” option.

While “good news” is always a completely subjective matter (one woman’s economic development boost is the next man’s environmental catastrophe) it seems there’s a trend towards this type of publication at the moment.

In the North West, Big Spark publishing is busy getting it’s Independent offerings onto the streets promising “all local news, all soft news” with three recent title launches.

Perhaps these publishers are genuinely picking up on a reader appetite for something other than the never-ending gloom and doom of the economy and war or maybe, as their critics suggest, they will prove to be short-lived and perceived as being full of “puff”.

Just look at some of the comments already received at HTFP: “No-one is interested in council puff stories – that’s why council newspapers don’t work”, “Not all interesting stories are negative, but most of them are, and to act any differently is just ignoring what journalism is all about and arrogantly trying to prove a non-existent point.”

I haven’t had the opportunity to actually read any of these new titles (I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has)  so I’m not in a position to comment on the specifics, it’s the stated aspiration which concerns me.

News, as most people comprehend it, can never just be “good” – there will always be uncomfortable truths to be told and any publication which prides itself on reflecting some semblance of reality surely needs to contain light and dark, sunshine and shadows.

Written by sarahhartley

July 28th, 2009 at 10:25 am

Writing about Twitter? Ten pointers to prevent you looking a twit


Consider this post a public service to save us all from further cringeworthy reads on the topic from ill-informed journalists unable to undertake even a modicum of research.

It’s fairly hard to see why some are so damned quick to rubbish the social media networks having such a significant effect on how society operates – not to mention impacting on the very industry employing them.

First we had this ridiculous piece in the Evening Standard from a Nick Curtis (he never did take me up on my kind offer to show him around a bit), then there was the sort of celebrity focussed mindless drivel we’ve all come to expect from the Daily Mail and now the should-know better Independent seems to have employed someone who receives signals from outerspace to come up with “evil, judgement-warping rays”!

I’ve introduced quite a few journalists to Twitter (and other social networks) over the past year or so. Those who explore and have the necessary inquiring mind (isn’t that a re-requisite of a decent journalist?) are now reaping the rewards with story leads, contacts and a community of practice which helps, educates and assists by utilising the most time-efficient tools available.

So I’ve come up with these ten steps to getting started which anyone tasked with writing about Twitter will find helpful.

1. Join and participate. Sign up in your real name with a bio and picture so the rest of us know who we are talking to.

2. How to behave. The oft-quoted cocktail party analogy is helpful. You wouldn’t sit in the corner under a blanket refusing to speak to anyone so don’t be a lurker. You wouldn’t spy on people and then reveal personal details in a newspaper (unless obvious illegality, hypocrisy, immorality etc.) so don’t do it here; you wouldn’t yell opinions rather than discuss, etc, etc.

3. Move out of your bubble. Read something other than those above. There’s a heap of opposing views here. HOW TO Sell Social Media to Cynics, Skeptics & Luddites

4. Follow people who find it useful and watch how they behave. There’s a list of UK journos who found it before you here and I’d recommend some of the US experts such as Clay Shirky @cshirky, Pat Thornton @jiconoclast and Jeff Jarvis @jeffjarvis to give you a jolt out of print-think.

5. Don’t behave like a digital colonialist. Just because it’s new to you, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there for quite a while – talk to the natives.

6. Download and use a client such as thwirl or tweetdeck. Using the Twitter site interface gives you about 20 per cent of the available experience and wouldn’t be a fair representation.

7. Find people who share your interests using tools such as Tweetscan or Tweetgrid and see who the important people in your locality are with Twittergrader.

8. See what everyone else is talking about and emerging topics by using Twitscoop.

9. Remember that celebrity is a very small aspect of the whole. There are serious news issues such as the coverage of the Mumbai bombings and the use of Twitter for  campaigners in Egypt as well as more recently being the platform for the first pix of the Hudson plane crash to be distributed.

10. Finally, ask your readers/users. After all you are writing this for them and the last thing you want to do is alienate them. If you have a blog or website carry out some research in its usefulness there, if not use a public polling platform such as Here’s what my users say;[polldaddy poll=1351669]