Directors' blog

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

Archive for the ‘manchester’ tag

My week – councils on camera and foodies on apps


Yes, it’s been another week where the right to film council meetings has dominated my blogging activity.

It’s time now to consider the different styles of filming that I could adopt. I’m thinking of mostly streaming live from start to finish with a back up recording in case of wi-fi issues.

However it ends up happening, it’s unlikely I’ll manage to get quite the drama and tension into the moment as this fine piece of work. Eat your heart out Tarantino! h/t West Hampstead Life for spotting that gem.

Updates this week (captured on the map below) included a video interview for, a successful vote at Richmondshire District and the launch of a Facebook campaign by Welsh campaigners looking for their administrations to adopt similar measures to England.

It’s tech start-up, it’s hyperlocal, it’s so-lo-mo, it’s food and it’s in the north.

The arrival of Zomato in Manchester proved to be a bit of a worlds collide dilemma for me on where exactly to blog about it.

I plumbed for the site in the end – read about that here.

Written by sarahhartley

July 28th, 2013 at 10:14 am

Taking storytelling to Blackpool, YEP revamp and digital skills summit

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Storytelling skills
Social Media Surgeon John Popham’s been on the road – this time to take storytelling ideas over to Blackpool’s business comunity.
He’s blogged:

….despite having to get up at 4am on a freezing cold morning, I really enjoyed it and was bowled over by the positive reaction.
The reaction confirmed to me that I am onto something here and that there is a real appetite to learn more about storytelling.

You can see results of the Digital Storytelling Breakfast Session” on Storify here.

Revamped YEP
The New Year’s bringing with it lots of new looks it seems. The Manchester Evening News is expected to reveal a new look website later this week and yesterday saw the new look print edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post hit the streets.

Not too much has changed – we still aim to deliver the best news and sports coverage around – but there are now even more reasons to enjoy your YEP.
As well as an array of new sections and features, there will be a special daily pull-out covering everything from fashion to football, as well as the city’s best entertainment guide.
One of the main aims behind this revamp is to make the paper more interactive, with readers’ views, photographs and stories playing a bigger role than ever before. We want to hear your views; after all, it is your paper for our city.

Hard to know how it’s been received as there are currently no comments posted – what do you think of the changes?

Diary date for digital
Prolific North announces Manchester Digital’s Skills Summit conference and TalentDay, the largest sector-specific careers fair in the north, has announced it will take place on February 20 and 21.

The event, now in its third year, brings together digital businesses, education providers and students in the region looking to enter the digital scene.TalentDay, held on February 20, is expected to attract 1,500 students looking for work within the digital and creative industries.

* Please note that this blog (and are currently in transit to their new home under the careful care of the webteam at Squegg in Stockton. You shouldn’t notice any differences but please let me know if anything appears out of sorts.

Written by sarahhartley

January 22nd, 2013 at 8:29 am

Testing the new spreadsheet n0tice tool with Manchester toilets data

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Picture: Phil W Shirley

As announced in the n0tice newsletter earlier this week, there’s a new feature available in the open journalism toolkit to help data journalists – the ability to easily map data contained in a spreadsheet.

Still in beta, it provides an opportunity to play around a bit and see how it might fit into the whole suite of geo-tagging related tools being developed.

Being one of those involved in the team developing this I wanted to get straight onto trying it out so I’ve created a very simple spreadsheet of the locations and opening times of Manchester’s city centre toilets. The data comes from the Data GM store. Creating the spreadsheet took the longest time, the set up and ingestion into the noticeboard probably 10 mins at most. Quick and dirty toilets mapping as it were!

You can see the items and click on items to get a map view here, but, as n0tice is primarily a mobile experience, the worth of this type of information is more obvious when viewed via the app where users will encounter the information in a serendipitous way due to their proximity to the location. (Alternatively a feed of the info from the api could create something in a different platform or publication.)

If you fancy giving the new spreadsheet feature a go, the instructions on how to get started are here: the apps to experience the content in your location are free and can be downloaded here.

Written by sarahhartley

January 18th, 2013 at 7:29 am

Responsive Web Design, crisis management and opportunity – three dates for northern media diaries


Responsive Web Design on the agenda
The Digital Editors’ Network (DEN) is hosting an event looking at RWD or to put it simply – design that works across a variety of devices – in Preston next month.
Introducing the session, the François Nel, Director of the Journalism Leaders Programme, says:
“Sure, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the approach to web design that intends to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones. But we’ll also be thinking more laterally about what Responsive Design means.”

The free event includes an in-depth case study from MNA Digital development manager Mark Cadman and electronic editor Abigail Edge who led the team that charted the Express and Star and Shropshire Star’s route to responsive web design will be lifting the lid on that innovative project – and how their efforts have paid off.

#ResponsiveDEN Digital Editors Network Winter 2013 meetup is on Thursday 21 February from 12:45 PM to 6:30 PM at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston. Tickets need to be booked here.

Crisis? Help at hand in York
Former BBC chief media spokesperson Donald Steel has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at a leading business event in York this spring, reports OneandOther.
Donald Steel was, for 11 years, the BBC’s chief media spokesperson, where he handled some of the most prominent media stories of the decade, from the murder of BBC presenter Jill Dando and a terrorist bomb attack on BBC Television Centre, to the Hutton Inquiry.

The evening lecture, Crisis Communications – an investment in company value, will be held at the Hospitium in York on Thursday 7th March 2013 at Museum Gardens. Tickets cost £15+VAT for IoD members and £25+VAT for non-members.Book at the IoD website.

Opportunities and challenges in Manchester
Insight Thirteen from Don’t Panic is a one-day seminar with lunch that takes place at The Studio, Lever Street in Manchester on Friday 25 January 2013 between 10am – 4.10pm.
The event will examine potential opportunities and challenges for 2013 and will feature leading industry speakers from the digital, marketing and communication arenas sharing their insights on trends they believe these sectors will see in the coming year. Each speaker will give a thirty-minute overview presentation and then join an interactive Q & A panel session.Tickets here.

Manchester Evening News goes more local and The Guardian counts Manchester footie fans

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 MEN goes ‘more local’

The Manchester Evening News has changed its edition structure to offer readers two editions for the vast Greater Machester region – north and south.

Explaining the changes, a short posting on Monday says the change will give readers ‘a greater focus on the area where you live.’

This includes a front page dedicated to your area and specific pages inside with all the latest local news and information for where you live.

And it helpfully provided these two screen grabs showing the difference.

Readers were, as ever, quick to comment on the changes and raise the issue of localness.

 Ecclescake noting:

 Theoretically, a brilliant idea and one to be commended. It’s great to see the MEN thinking of new ways to survive.

That said, it seems to me that the only way to really get into the heart of communities is to be there. Properly immerse yourself in the communities. I know that’s easier said than done, particularly with the industry in the pickle it is and the lack of resources available to you.

But if this change means anything, then allow your reporters the time and space to work their patches!

The changes announced yesterday also include a revamp of CityLife, a new column on matters of faith and the old favourite – ‘a trip down memory lane every Monday and Tuesday with pages of photos from yesteryear.’


Talking of Manchester…..

The Guardian has released a new way of looking at its ‘most interesting’ content – using algorithms to  measure interestingness by “a number of social signals including; incoming links, shares around social media, view count, editorial selection, number of comments and positive deviation from the norm for an article in its particular section.”

You may well expect the Guardianista’s would be most interested in social issues, Leveson or press freedom but it’s interesting to note just how often northern football stories – particularly both Manchester clubs – pop up in the ‘most interesting’.

Football fans’ online promiscuity is well-known but does that entirely explain what’s happening there?

Now the the once Manchester-based national’s staffing has reduced to just one full time northern based journalist (the newly appointed, hard-working editor Helen Pidd) it’s hard to know what conclusion to draw from that. Does the location of those producing the news actually matter much? Would those figures be even higher with a northern based news and sports desk pounding the beat?

Leeds’ Richard Horsman considers this question in a radio context where news ‘hubs’ have become commonplace over boots on the ground.

Writing at The CultureVulture, ‘So what is ‘Local’ news anyway’  he says:

 The flip side is local knowledge, which tends to dilute across a bigger patch. Woe betide anyone talking to Bradford who pronounces Keighley as ‘keely’ or Allerton as anything other than ‘ollerton’. Old time district reporters are also more likely to recognise the names on the New Year honours list and have some clue why they’ve earned a gong beyond ‘services to education’ or ‘the arts’


What do you think? Can maths get the job done or is all this talk of hubs and centralisation doing reader a disservice? Love to hear your views.

Written by sarahhartley

January 8th, 2013 at 8:23 am

Journalism lecturer admits he was wrong,Teesside prepares to refresh and child literacy campaign in Leeds

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‘I was wrong’
Journalism lecturer Richard Horsman proves he’s big enough to admit he may have been wrong in his initial assessment of the BBC Radio England which is due to launch from Leeds next week. He blogs:

This is going to be awkward. Not as awkward as the Mayans trying to explain away January, admittedly, but still difficult……….

Being away from ‘hubs of creativity’ should bring benefits. There’ll be less temptation to recycle guests, as has been known to happen with BBC Breakfast and Five Live coming out of the same building. Producers are more likely to rub shoulders with and pick up the concerns of real  50-summat C2DE local radio listeners in Leeds bus station or Kirkgate Market, the Beeb’s immediate neighbours, than they are in Costa Coffee amid the Disneyworld perfection of Media City. So I for one am prepared to give this version of Radio England a fair chance.


Let’s get together
The north’s digital events calendar gets back to work next week with Manchester’s Social Media Cafe on Tuesday and the north east’s Refresh Teesside on Wednesday. Update Mon 7 Jan: This event has been cancelled but will be back in February.

It’s all about the community running the community. It’s always about the people. That’s why the people who do the talks are from the community. They’re all giving back to each other and working together.

Refresh Teesside organiser James Mills explains what’s behind the networking event that’s approaching its first birthday – even though it’s nearly four years old! He explains more here at Betarocket.

Wednesday’s first event of 2013 includes a talk by Charlotte Considine about the Urban Pioneers project. Book your free ticket here.

Meanwhile Smc_Mcr goes informal with a ‘simple get-together, down at The Britons Protection from 6pm onwards on Tuesday 8 Jan. Details here.


Get Leeds reading
The Yorkshire Evening Post is going to run a three month long programme in conjunction with charity Beanstalk to help primary school children with their reading.

Features editor Jayne Dawson tells HoldtheFrontPage:  “There is nothing more vital in education than learning to read, but a distressing number of children in Leeds leave their primary school without this basic skill.”

Beanstalk CEO Sue Porto say it aims to recruit 40 new Reading Helpers to double the number of children supported in Leeds from 120 to 240 and aims to raise at least £40,000.

Written by sarahhartley

January 4th, 2013 at 8:27 am

Manchester Hackathon gets started

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The city will play host to the first hackathon event starting this evening in an usual partnership of digital types and the city council. I don’t know whether it’s the first time a council has reached out to its local developer community to work on data for a city – it’s not something I’ve come across in other places that’s for sure.

In these times when the word ‘council’ seems to be attached to ‘cuts’ it’s great to see some innovative digital moves and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the projects which will emerge from inside the magic of the MadLab.

To help do that, I’ve set up dedicated noticeboard which is available for anyone to post to from the event. See it here:

In addition I have a little robot friend on the team – conference bot will automatically import tweets and Instagram pictures with the hashtag #mcrhack into the board providing users allow their location to be enabled. is all about geo-coding, that’s how it works!

PS. any developers interested in geo stuff at the hackathon can find the n0tice api and the source code for latest n0tice app HashGordon here and here respectively.

Letting the hacking commence!



Written by sarahhartley

November 16th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Five take-aways from the #solomoDEN event

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Data visualisation of New York's 311 service showing city's concerns by the hour

The #solomoDEN event in Salford Quays was an opportunity to hear about projects, research and initiatives in the area of social-local-mobile journalism.

I attended to talk about a GMG project I’m involved with called which has these ideas at its heart to produce an online/mobile noticeboard (and if anyone would like an invite please drop your email here or via the comments below).

Here’s my pick of the other talks;

1. World Newsmedia Innovation Study.
There’s a lot of information in these 130 pages, 100 data sets compiled by 500 respondents in 11 languages. The aspect that caught my eye was the plans that news organisations have around developing new businesses and this mysterious finding: “While mobile phones, e-readers and social media remain the top propescts in 2011, responses show that managers are generally less enthusiastic about these opportunities than in 2010.” The full report is being being available to download at the website.

2. Help me Investigate networks.
The collaborative website that helps people investigate issues of shared concern has recently refined the proposition into various strands including health, welfare and education.

Help Me Investigate: Networks

Currently Paul is calling on interested bloggers to get involved in a Help Me Investigate health project looking at some of the data on GP surgeries’ patient list numbers. More on that here:

3. Sky in Tyne and Wear.
It was fascinating to hear from Simon Bucks about the video journalism experiment going on in the north east. The unease from local newspaper editors in the room was palpable as he described how a team of 13 journalists including nine dedicated video journalists were starting work in a patch chosen for its sporting enthusiasim and clear sense of self-identity.

As well as the original content that large team is producing, the broadcaster is also encouraging submitted video and self-serve events listings in the locality. One to watch.

4. Launch of Media and Digital Enterprise (Made).
The UK Winner of last year’s Google IPI award for news innovation was officially launched in a low key event at the end of the main sessions. Any budding news entrepreneur looking to develop a business involving data journalism should find this music to their ears – mentoring, software and support on offer. Simply add your details to the form before March 31 [Disclosure: I am involved in delivering some of the training support].

5. Open data cities 
A typically barnstorming finale from Greg Hadfield inspired the audience into thinking about data and the role of local journalists in not just acquiring data for stories but being the facilitators for city-level conversations. A whole new way of interacting with the citizens formally known as readers.

It was not just a great talk, it was a rallying cry to those of us who value data journalism to think about how we can collaborate to make such things happen. Anyone?

* There’s also more information at this live blog by Daniel Bentley  and this blog post from Caroline Beavon. Feel free to drop any other links to coverage in the comments below.

BBC North job applicants, hires and paygrades

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This morning over at The Northerner I posted details from a recent Freedom of Information request which gives more infomation about the number of people applying for jobs and MediaCityUK, those who were hired and the paygrades in place at the new home of the Beeb in the north.

To provide further transparency, I’ve also published the full document below.

The data referred to is also available in spreadsheet form via my data store page. Please do drop me a line in the comments below if you use this data elsewhere.

[scribd id=78336085 key=key-1wghrfooctk7tdabx4gn mode=list]

Written by sarahhartley

January 16th, 2012 at 8:46 am

Data journalism, communication…. and the moon landings

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Earlier this week I took part in a panel debate about data journalism as part of the FutureEverything conference in Manchester.

Before the full panel I asked Paul Bradshaw (City University London and City of Birmingham University) and Martin Belam (The Guardian) for their thoughts on the subject.

The topics discussed on the video via the link below (with timings) are;

0.38: What data journalism is.
2.50: Are people engaging with open data? Examples?
6.18: Where’s this all going and what are the implications for journalism education?
9.10: If you could have one dataset opened right now, which would it be?
10.20: What do you hope to get out of being a FutureEverything?

FutureEverything 2011: Linked Data / Linked Stories: chaired by Sarah Hartley from Littlestar on Vimeo.

* If you want to find out more about data journalism there’s a limited number of tickets still available for north west based journalists at DJCamp this Thursday and Friday in Manchester. Full details here. See you there.

Written by sarahhartley

May 15th, 2011 at 3:00 pm