Directors' blog

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

Archive for the ‘newspaper’ tag

Behind the scenes with the Contributoria printing presses


Printing presses! I still haven’t quite got used to the idea that we now publish a printed thing at after all these years of being a digital journalist.

The online journalism platform launched by three of us (myself, Matt McAlister and Dan Catt) at the start of this year is now coming out in print for monthly subscribers. This month’s issue is designed by Dean Vipond and Dan Catt, written and compiled by the community and available now!

Photographer Michelle Marshall went along with Matt to capture it rolling off the presses last night – and straight onto Virgin Atlantic planes and the Eurostar trains inserted inside The Guardian and being delivered to passengers flying to Paris, LA and New York!

Here’s a gallery of what it looked like as it was created by the Newspaper Club.

Written by sarahhartley

July 15th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Journalism

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Self regulation panel event at #ipinip


The final session at the seminar with Gwen Lister of The Namibian, Pili Mtamalike the regulations and standard manager of Tanzania, Churchill Otieno if nation media group! Kenya and Julian Rademeyer of Africa Check.


Africa Check is a fact checking organisation. They are going to launch an award for other orgs that also get involved in fact checking. Rademeyer starts this discussion by outlining the pressures of reduced newsrooms and sometime lack of fact-checking. Giving an example if a FALSE stat about HIV rates for schoolgirls which has spread and spread. Also tap water safety use of faith healers. All FALSE but all got traction.

Otieno introduces The Nation – the largest media house in Africa. Run 50 websites. Apply pre-publishing moderation. Through the moderation we ensure it stays on topic, edit out trolls and take care of libel. There’s a huge culture change to have reporters embrace that, there is a pressure to publish first and correct later. We tell journalists to verify first. Take the view that conversations on twitter and Facebook are not within The Nation’s control but they do take down hate posts on social platforms.

Mtambalike says 193 members. Was started to regulate print but now a lot of bloggers for news and information. Have complaints and problems from readers who don’t like the way they’ve been represented and about mainstream media using blog posts as source material without sufficient checks.

Chair is proposing – is a code of ethics something which can be applied across the board eg. Print, online, blogs?

Mtambalike says that would be a difficult thing to apply. The speed of publishing and blogs are an area where regulation isn’t possible in the same way. ‘Things that happen in social media are not of much interest to the ruling class until something happens.’

Rademeyer says we are talking about two very different things. We won’t be able to regulate blogs. For news organisations, we need to look much harder about how we check our facts. “Every time we get a story wrong we reduce our credibility.” Doesn’t have to be punitive, sometime just to admit something is wrong is enough.

Lister says mainstream needs to up its game as people now look for their own sources because they find the legacy publishers have lacked credibility and risk that becoming the situation even more so.

Lister – should we be regulating ourselves or out there will it be completely unregulated. Regulate part of cyberspace or all of it?

Uk journalist in the audience saying it doesn’t seem that libel repeated on African radio stations results in any action against them.

Audience member from the press council in South Africa saying, in the face of the revolution that has opened up the media, we should be talking about ethics as a society, not just as journalists. It is anachronistic to talk in those terms.

Bethel McKenzie says you can not regulate for taste. Not able to regulate for bloggers but when it comes to media we need to go back to basics and insist on standards.

Otieno says step back and look at what has changed. The medium is now available to share the thoughts we used to only share with friends. The power we yield and influence we carry is given to us by the audience. It may not come through regulation and laws. That audience will force me to behave in a certain manner and punish me if it falls short. Ethics is a principle and can not be defined through the medium.

Audience member from iWitness news. We are talking as journalists and it hits us hard if we get something wrong but a lot of people involved in the story aren’t. Shouldn’t there be a more formalised set of rules, some consequence.

Lister saying another issue is the ‘juniorisation’ of newsrooms and the fact that many enter the trade as a job rather than something they will ‘live and die’ for.

Raymond Louw, deputy chair of press council. Can’t even consider regulation on social media as you quickly get into censorship. As far as corrections go press council has changed it’s rules on publishing corrections and now has to be published on the front page of newspapers.

Mtambalike said they reached out to bloggers and found that they responded in a positive way having been noticed for the work they felt they were producing. They didn’t know there was a body interested in what they were doing.

Bethel mcKenzie says the community at large is confused as to where the line between the journalist and the citizen sits when they look at social media use.

Otieno field the forever question – if the public value quality journalism, are they willing to pay for it.

Written by sarahhartley

January 20th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Why a Manchester start-up has quit Facebook and the launch of Leeds paper’s mobile services

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Bye, bye Facebook

Just to let you know: we won’t be using Facebook any more. ……..

“They won’t let pages contact or even view their own fans (really!), so nobody knows how many fakes they really have – except Facebook, and they’re not telling. They won’t allow an independent audit of their advert system either.

Just part of the message to its former Facebook followers from Piccadilly Gardens based cloud computing firm Charity Engine’s CEO Mark McAndrew.

He tells Business Insider how he believes Facebook is hiding fake users behind its policy of restricted access for Page owners.

Facebook has responded with information about its system for deleting fakes but, in this post at least, doesn’t address the issue of limited access, and therefore limited ability to generate revenues, from large Page followings.

I wonder whether this development will encourage any others to follow suite? Recent conversations with another large northern Facebook Page would suggest a general unhappiness with the level of control the American giant wields over access to communities which have been hard-fought to build and retain.

Hello mobile world


The home page layout


As flagged on this blog on New Year’s Day, Johnston Press are rolling on with their plan to deliver news through apps and today: “The Yorkshire Evening Post has launched new iPad and Android tablet apps, offering the latest news throughout the day as well as complete electronic copies of the newspaper.”


Football page

The launch piece online today doesn’t include a review or a clickable link to subscribe – but here are a couple of screengrabs showing the iPad edition this morning.

It’s not clear whether there’s any content unique to the new format – any Leeds readers fancy reviewing the app, let me know.

Written by sarahhartley

January 3rd, 2013 at 11:08 am

London Neighbourhoods Online unconference 2010: Thoughts


Update19.35: There’s now links to three other blog posts from the unconference posted into the comments at the bottom of this post which are well worth checking out, plus;
* The Twitter hating grumpy view from Erith posted in the brilliantly named Arthur Pewty’s Maggot Sandwich and said: “found the whole experience to be excellent, informative, entertaining and it also enabled me to meet and network with some friendly and like – minded people” and proves to be a man after my own heart by dedicating a good chunk of his write up to the catering.
* Networked Neighbourhoods says “the message is that the momentum behind the neighbourhoods online movement is gathering pace”.

A few notes inspired by yesterday’s London Neighbourhoods Unconference. The nature of an unconference means several sessions were underway at any one time so a full view of the day needs a little piecing together.

I’ll add links to blog posts on the topic as I see them – please do let me know if you’ve written one or seen one anywhere by dropping the link via the comments below to share with other interested parties.

I should just add that these are my notes and thoughts and not a report of proceedings. Feel free to pitch in with your comments/recollections/thoughts.

  1. The session I offered on working with mainstream media was lively. I listened….. and what I heard was some understandable cynicism towards the attitude and motivation of big media. Following on from the previous post, we did discuss as many of those topics as we could in the time with the majority of the conversations prompted by; ‘lifted’ content, payment, linking and copyright. (We didn’t get time for ‘newspaper structure’ which some people were interested in and so I’ll maybe return to that in a future post). On the hot topic of lifting content ie. where newspapers had used text and/or pictures without any permission, attribution or payment. As I mentioned at the session, this is the exact same accusation I often hear levelled about bloggers and hyperlocal website operators from newspaper journalists(!), so maybe time for a bit of reflection in this matter. Time to play nice. Show some respect on both sides before the opportunities this new news ecosphere presents retreat into a sea of resentments.
  2. Next up I bobbed into the discussion about Local TV. This was led around a conversation about whether the right course of action is to send a letter to lobby culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure that community television ventures are not sidelined. (To put this discussion into context, worth reading the recently released Ofcom Public service Broadcasting Annual Report ). The debate in this session raised the question about whether grant support i.e. tax payer’s money was a reasonable expectation for such ventures or whether projects needed to be commercially viable from self-generated revenue streams such as advertising. It struck me that this ‘future of local tv’ debate gets hung up on traditional delivery mechanisms in the way that the ‘future of journalism’ debates get hung up on print. And quickly to a deep niche (hyper) V mass audience (general) discussion. Sparked a thought about about scaleable hyper? It was interesting to see StvLocal represented at the event – maybe the StvLocal model is a disruptive model to shake telly things up?
  3. Big Society. What does it mean? I still don’t know how it relates. Answer on a postcard – or this pigeon might be more appropriate.

Other links I’ve seen on this event;

The hashtag for any other material published is #lno10. I’m looking forward to catching up with the other blog posts and pictures as the day progresses.

Crain’s Manchester and Salford Star: Counting the cost of getting up people’s noses?

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It was sad, but perhaps not that surprising, to hear that Crain’s has finished its Manchester publication.

Sad, because it brought along with a specialised in-depth printed product, a decent website, regularly updated and with some free-to-air elements. Unsurprising, because of the overcrowded marketplace of the business niche in Manchester.

A statement posted on its website this morning explained

“While we have been pleased with the support received from Crain’s Manchester Business readers from the beginning of the project, ultimately the limited support from key advertising sectors has made the project unsustainable,” said Chris Crain, senior vice president, Crain Communications Inc. and editor-in-chief, Crain’s Manchester Business.

The Manchester based journalist David Quinn was quick to give some analysis to the demise of the title with five points which included the pertinent;

“I was told by contacts from time to time that they’d stopped talking to Crain’s, supposedly because the paper had messed up some story or other. But from what I could see Crain’s very rarely got things wrong, it just printed things that others either missed or ignored. This got up people’s noses.”

……..and in a seamless link to another publication which is often accused of getting up people’s noses, the Salford Star today had its appeal hearing against the loss of funding by the devolved community committee of Salford Council deferred. I’ve already posted at length on this at The Guardian and the Star is due to release its statement on the ongoing saga tomorrow.

Written by sarahhartley

June 22nd, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Newspaper gets spoofed by Terry Henfleet. Again!


He strikes, he scores! Yes the fictional creation of a Sheffield footie fans forum has now found himself geek form and been featured in The Star, Sheffield as one of the city’s first purchasers of an iPad.

Terry Henfleet first came to the attention of The Star’s football pages when a spoof piece posted at the owlstalk forum concerning his ‘signing’ from Stoke was picked up and published as fact.

Since that time, an accompanying picture composite of Thierry Henry’s head, a fat bloke’s midrif and a pair of chicken legs for feet has, I’m told, vanished into internet mythology……..

Both Stoke and Sheffield Wednesday fans kept the gag running with a Twitter stream, Facebook page and various postings on forums.

But this weekend Terry reappeared wearing a geek shirt and proudly outing himself as one of Sheffield’s Apple fan boys.

In a piece posted on the Star’s website yesterday, news reporter Mike Russell writes;

“First in the Sheffield queue was 33-year-old Terry Henfleet, from Dinnington, who had been at the Apple store since 5am.

He said: “I actually had an iPad pre-ordered, but I decided to get up at 4.30am and come down to buy one for research – at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.”

And there’s a lovely picture of the guy with his prized possession too, prompting owlstalk to claim an exclusive on the first picture!

What happens to Terry next? Who knows, perhaps he’s due an appearance in the business pages before life in the fast lane finally takes its toll and the inevitable obituary is published.

Written by sarahhartley

May 30th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Welcoming Scotland’s new newspaper


New, newspaper? Crazies!!!

Yes, the blogosphere’s been quite abuzz since the announcement of a new newspaper for Scotland.

But, not only is it true, the tit bits revealed so far in this clever pre-launch campaign, seem to suggest a whole new approach to newspapers – and, maybe, news journalism.

So what do we know? From reading around the blogs and listening to the video interviews, here’s ten things that struck me;

1. Far from being crazies, the initiative comes from Stewart Kirkpatrick, the man credited with taking to its award-winning and much admired former incarnation before going into PR.

2.  It’s not really a newspaper. Or not as we know it. While there could be a print element it’s not printed on a “daily or even weekly basis.”

3. It’s mainly an internet offering, built for the new media environment, and therefore costs are low which is a key element of its survival strategy.

4. It’s for Scots – at home and abroad whether in Scotland, other parts of the UK, Europe, Canada, America, Australia etc.

5. The writers will be known-names writing in specialist areas which include health, heritage and politics.

6. Billy Connolly is to be a guest columnist. OK, OK, Stewart never actually says this, but who else is the heavily hinted “LA based strange man” who’s going to write “strange news”? (Also conveniently in the UK this month).

7. There’s no talk of the business model being employed other than to rule out classified, so I’m going out on a limb to guess that the emphasis on ex-pats and heritage means some sort of revenue share/partnership/sponsorship with the tourism and leisure industry could be on the cards.

8. While there’s been speculation than it’s a “tartan-wrapped HuffingtonPost“, I’m wondering whether the emphasis on words like “intelligent“, “in-depth” and those big name writers might make it more of a DailyBeast style magazine/commentary?

9. It launches on January 25th. Burns Night.

10. It’s for Scots wherever they might be. Oh, did I mention that before? In case you missed it, “Scottish with a capital S and a kilt hung on it”.


Good luck to all involved. Exciting times ahead!

Written by sarahhartley

January 10th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Study to look at life after newspaper layoffs

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It’s the story we are all more than familiar with, but is it the whole story? Newspapers layoffs have all too quickly become part of the fabric of life in regional journalism this year but what happens next is barely recorded.

Now academics at UCLAN and staff at are going to address this by carrying out a survey of laid-off journalists. Posting at the journalismleaders blog , Francois Nel explains that the online survey is looking for volunteers and that information received is confidential:

“We want to know how about your experiences of being laid off and how you have adapted in your personal and professional life since leaving the newspaper. We’re also considering the gap in knowledge and experience you have left behind.”

The survey takes about 10 mins to complete and can be accessed here.

Written by sarahhartley

October 19th, 2009 at 11:06 am

Why I’m inviting you to Help Me Investigate this


The smart MEN foyer and another quote

The smart MEN foyer and another quote

“In journalism it is simpler to sound off than it is to find out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to SWEAT.” Harold Evans …”

So reads the writing on the wall at the Spinningfields HQ of the Manchester Evening News. It may not be the most-quoted of the pieces of text on display (CP Scott’s “Comment is free but facts are sacred” probably takes that honour), or as hip Ian Brown’s “Manchester’s got everything except a beach”, but it was always my favourite thought for the day on the way up to the editorial floor.

I think it sums up the toil and sometimes, frankly tedious, tasks that go into a lot of journalism. The unglamorous non-celeb, no free nosh, unearthing and fact-checking that goes into the day-to-day of news gathering and which is often overlooked, under-estimated or under appreciated in a world where PR is king and re-hashes commonplace.

It is exactly the sort of journalism that has always gone on in town halls across the country but which the critics of newspapers have been quick to claim is waning and politicians point to as justification for using taxpayers’ money to publish their own “newspapers”.

But away from all the heat and pontification, there’s very few facts and figures to hang onto. How much local authority coverage is carried out by your local newspaper? Has it declined? Is it on the increase? Do readers prefer celebrity news? Does it matter? Who cares?

No-one has the answers.

Which is why a couple of weeks ago I suggested a survey which would establish some bench-marks. It’s not the easiest thing to calculate, but, given the collaborative power of the interwebz, it is surely possible.

Thanks to Paul Bradshaw at HelpmeInvestigate, it will now be possible to co-ordinate this effort using the platform’s tools.

So far a dozen people have signed up to help and Paul is leading us through the various challenges which will enable us to submit details about newspapers in different regions.

Armed with some facts, who knows where this might lead? Btw, you don’t have to be a journalist to take part, simply someone who reads local papers and cares about this issue.

Want to come and sweat a little?  Invitation here.

Written by sarahhartley

September 8th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

My local paper and the reporting of council matters




After responses to the debate about council “newspapers” prompted so many comments (Roy Greenslade’s blog and HTFP among them) about local papers dumbing down and failing to cover civic issues at the expense of celebrity trivia, I suggested on this blog carrying out some sort of a survey to see whether that was truly the case.

This alleged withdrawal of bread-and-butter reporting hasn’t been my experience of working on regional papers in northern England and Scotland, but, maybe times have changed or other regions have different stories to tell?

Today I’ve taken a look at one local paper – the Darlington & Stockton Times – in an attempt to quantify what level of service is offered in this respect.

The D&S, as it’s known locally, is considered something of a bible in these parts and it could be used as a lesson in hyperlocal journalism.

All of life is there – weddings, school sports days, parish correspondents, letters, horse shows, and everything from mansion houses to ferrets for sale.

Using a crude measure of a page lead as one page and smaller pieces as quarters or halves, I calculate that at least one third of the space available for general news, has its basis in the coverage of local councils.

The splash story itself originates from a discussion about North Yorkshire County Council’s external contracts policy i.e. what/who local taxpayers’ money is spent on.

Here’s how today’s paper breaks down;

It’s a whopping 87 page read of which seven pages are dedicated to local sport, 16 pages of classified ads, two business, five farming, 11 weekend (leisure,shows,reviews etc) and 16 property.

Of the 20 remaining pages,two are for letters and comment, three for town & village parish correspondents, six for agricultural show results and one for weddings.

Leaving eight pages, one of which is a full page ad.

So of the seven, a total of two look at local council stories – one lead, one half page and two quarter pages.

And barely a celebrity in sight! The only mentions of such things are the court case of chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright and TV’s Antiques Roadshow. Both justifiable local news stories seeing as they happened on the patch.

A very different picture indeed to this oft-quoted view;

“The big newspaper groups aren’t interested in democracy, only the bottom line. (Then again are most local newspaper reporters, really interested?)” mentioned here .

Is this level of coverage enough? too much? not even touching the surface? More examples are going to be needed to establish any sort of benchmark but surely having such scrutiny of public bodies demonstrated by this one example would make justifying the expenditure of public money on funding any other form of publication a difficult case to put at the town hall.

So what’s happening in your area? How does your local paper compare? If you want to blog about this as well, the measure I used was that a page lead=1page, a picture story or large hamper = 1/2; briefs or single columns= 1/4.  Please link back to this blog so that I can flag it up too.

Written by sarahhartley

September 4th, 2009 at 3:00 pm