Brighton Future of News blog

Gatherings for writers, broadcasters, media folk and those interested in the news

Live blog: Sarah Hartley on N0tice

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Sarah explains she works on projects to connect communities. It’s a new project and N0tice is the first project.

Most of her previous work has been with other digital projects.

N0tice has gone from nothing to beta in three months.

It is very much like a start up, moving along very quickly and working in Agile.

It answers a need in the hyperlocal space in a social way.

It’s social, mobile and local.

It’s a digital community notice board. It embodies what it is

Started a Flickr group and have pictures from around the world. Beer in Devon has eight notice boards each with a different focus.

Sarah has discovered a wonderful world of noticeboard enthusiasts.

We discover a noticeboard fan in the group.

It has to be mobile to work and function.

It started as a hackday project.

At the moment it is open to a few selected people. Those who are invited to use it give feedback of how they want to use it.

Journalists and bloggers want to use it but the is a museum wants to use it to unearth parts of it’s collection. If it has a strong geographical link then the item can be shown.

In the way Foursquare works where you check in, N0tice will show people information about the street they are in.

For hyper locals N0tice offers a technological enhancement. Pt ensures people in a locality can see their information.

Hyper locals a d community groups have issues where people find it difficult to reach out to their community and reach those they’re targeting.

It has a small ad business model for items for sale, but if you want priority of location or presentation on a page then there will be a charge.

Possibility to work in an advertising network.

The commercial idea is to white label the technology for other uses such as dating sites. Hyper locals could create their own White labeled notice board.

Sarah Marshall asks about clarification about how N0tice compares with Foursquare.

It doesn’t push things at you and isn’t focused on business.

Asked about what else’s out there.

Notice is worldwide and there are about 30 players in similar ways but with different ideas.

Why is the Guardian doing it? New opportunities and revenue streams.

It isn’t Guardian branded or on it’s site.

People want to come around and issue and share their time.

Allotments are something people have come up with, sharing surplus etc.

Had allotment project set up in Brighton. Offices have the information and had one rotator request.

Sarah wants N0tice to work offline, too.

Asked about control of the site, it is in beta so it isn’t difficult now.

There are community guidelines but at the moment there aren’t issues with behaviour at the moment.

It has reputation management tools.

BFONG members start playing around with the site.

It could work like a WordPress widget.


Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

October 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

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Live: Tweeting a Trend – @artistsmakers on how #riotcleanup began

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Dan Thomson is the founder of the Empty Shops Network and started the #riotcleanup meme during the August disturbances.

He starts off talking about the Made In South Kilburn project. The estate was run down and written off by the council. It is a multicultural estate where a significant majority do not speak English as a first language.

The last government gave the estate £5million a year from the community fund. Dan found the money was spent in weird ways. The youth arts centre wanted a kiln room. When Dan suggested they share the adult education kiln room (in the same building) it was explained to him that the adult education was a different funding group.

Community funding made the groups competitive. A book was created to advise groups on how they can run the schemes.

Empty Shops Network worked in South Kilburn for six months where Dan saw the difficulties facing these communities.

We spent so much time there it gave us a real understanding.

Was up in London and had missed the first night of riots, but on the Monday the riots spread.

Things that struck him were stories such as Aaron the barber whose shop was smashed up.

On Monday night watching the rioting spread I was hooked on the TV news. Watching Reeves burn I thought, we have never seen anything like this. The police and firefighters weren’t there. Could see the traffic lights catching fire, the shops over the road were catching fire in the firestorm.

My granddad was a Londoner and I wondered what’s changed since the war? They used to go out with bombs being dropped on them.

I turned to Twitter and saw people getting angry. They couldn’t do anything, it was getting out of control. I thought there is something we can do. I knew what I would do if we were still in South Kilburn, I’d turn up with a broom and black sacks and ask them what we could do.

It was at this point Dan started asking people if they could get down to their shops. He started off at 10pm and by midnight he realised it had started to take off. Dan started making notes on a white board of who had committed to clean up. Pop star Kate Nash was the first person to volunteer.

It was me, a white board and a Twitter account.

When Dan hit the Twitter limit a friend, Sam Duckworth, set up the riotcleanup Twitter account. At 4.30am he went to bed. At 6am the phone started ringing. He was talking to media from 6am-9pm and didn’t leave his laptop. He was tweeting for people to bring him drinks and food.

My phone did not stop ringing.

Dan references the graphics showing the riot related tweets created  by the Guardian which shows the riotcleanup kicking off. It was massive at 8am when he was on Breakfast news.

If you want to make these things work this is what you have to do. You need to have Twitter working but also mainstream media. If the BBC are onto it, then it gets massive. The Guardian picks it up because they’re into Twitter.

Raul asks, don’t you need a riot

Dan: “No, I think you can do it for anything.”

He references Clay Shirky “organised without an organisation”.

There were something like 2,000 tweets a minute. People were watching the traffic.

At 4am someone else compiled a list of all the events tweeting and contacted the Metropolitan Police.

People were doing their bit, feeling like they had the power to do something.

Mike Batt offered the use of the Wombles.

He had a call from the Cabinet Office and the Minister, Nick Hurd, said the government wasn’t going to claim it as Big Society.

We had people at every level, willing to help us do the job.

The moment he knew it had worked was when he saw the Clapham picture of people holding their brooms aloft.

This daft idea had come to a moment when hundreds of people were in the streets with a broom.

I wasn’t in charge, I just pulled people together. This was anarchy but different to the riots.

Dan was visiting with his nan, who was worried he was up in London during the riots, when he had the call inviting him to Number 10.

Riot Clean Up started other things such as Riot Rebuilt. Kate Nash set up Riot Relief to help the 46 families who lost their homes.

People who lived in flats above shops suffered the most. There are 11,000 people who worked in the shops, part time workers with no job security, some of the shops won’t reopen. Those people have lost their jobs forever.

High Street Heroes is helping the shop workers. Riot Clean Up showed people they can take control.

We created an amazing burst of energy. We didn’t try and create an organisation or charity, we just passed the energy out to local groups.

Dan asked why is an account or hashtag better?

The hashtag is the best thing because it allows anyone to get involved. With an account, you can engage with it, but you can’t spread it about in the same way. Sam’s battery died in London, but someone did help him. There is a lot to be said about the power of hashtags.

We had about 100,000 people but not a mandate. Some were ultra conservatives at one end and the others were anarchists reclaiming the streets. That’s what a hashtag lets you do.

Richard asks about Twitter overload.

Not a lot of people on Twitter early in the morning. Still needed the whiteboard and notes.

In the afternoon community sites shared information taking it to a hyperlocal level. Twitter also saw an increase in sign up.

Dan now has more than 8,000 followers. He lost 200 followers who opened their account for Riot Clean Up and then closed.

Raul asks is this spontaneous?

Dan says he saw a tweet from Dave Gorman who had gone to bed depressed and woken up with hope having seen Riot Clean Up. The government said the riot clean up changed the mood in the city, giving people hope.

Raul points out  hashtags are wasted, but this shows how they can be used.

Rosie asks more about RiotWombles

Dan: It was later in the day, it gave a burst of energy.

Hannah asks if the government understands social media?

Dan: There are people there who do get it. There will always bit of sound biting at these times. The fact they dropped the plans to clamp down on Twitter, quickly, says the message has got across.

Another hashtag service Dan set up is which shows realtime updates of #worthingstuff #worthingfood, #worthingart, #worthingstyle etc.

Adam: Will you be able to channel the energy into South Kilburn?

Dan hopes to have something to take the power of the riot clean up to a national level.

Chie mentions how MeetUp began as a response to 9/11 when the founder realised he didn’t know his neighbours.

“This is relevant because it’s about getting people together.”

Steve asks if these were riots?

Dan: “Saw text messages on phones saying ‘we’ve got trainers you might as well come along and get some too because the police aren’t doing anything’.”

“They weren’t protests, they were riots.

“It wasn’t a mob of thousands on the streets, there were groups of 20 to 30 people.”

Talking to police the Met tactics are used to dealing with hundreds of people.

They tried to kettle, two shield lines or riot police take a while to form and in that time the rioters jumped over walls. They thought it was something other than it was.

Rosie asks about the importance of images, such as the brooms in the air, the woman serving tea off police riot shields. How important are images over text?

Dan makes references to iconic images such as the punks snogging in Trafalgar Square as the image of the poll tax riots. For the riots the image of Reeves Furniture Store moved him, the woman jumping into the arms of the firefighters is another, but he hopes the defining images will be the people with brooms and the woman serving tea.

We see it live.

Rosie points out the world today gives instant news and images with digital cameras.

Adam asks about verification of tweets.

Dan commends Sussex Police for using their Twitter account to calm people down.

Dan’s account was also unfrozen by Twitter.

There is a short discussion about backlash and haters, but we ignore them.

Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

September 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Tweeting a trend: Dan Thompson on operation #riotcleanup and beyond

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Dan Thompson is making his second visit to Brighton Future of News Group (BFONG), this time he is talking about how he capitalised on his experience with social media applied to project management and launched a Twitter and Facebook-based campaign hashtagged #riotcleanup, which went viral.

At the next BFONG on Monday, September 12, Dan will be talking about why the campaign worked.

Read Dan’s piece about the clean up for the Guardian’s Comment Is Free.

BFONG meets at the Eagle in Gloucester Road, on, from 7.30pm. If you want to come along please confirm at the Meet Up page.

Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

September 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm

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Live blog: Innovation at a hyperlocal with Joseph Stashko and Andy Halls

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Joseph Stashko and Andy Halls were inspired by Josh Halliday‘s work with the SR2 hyperlocal blog when they started off with a blog called My Preston, and then took over Blog Preston from Ed Walker.

They started out with the general election, live blogging, and got a great deal of acclaim. They then took the blog on.

They reached 10,000 visits a month, were making money from advertising and started experimenting.

Joseph explains how they covered an English Defence League protest which ended up being linked to by numerous news sites, followed the police and reached the EDL’s red list.

They focused on live reporting and Twitter.

Ed started off with a token Facebook page. It has a lot of conversation on it. Lots of people tweet and reshare our stuff.

We knew what looks best on a website and how video works. It’s not like television. It’s a very simple idea. Its  local beat reporting but online, giving it a few bells and whistles to make it look good.

Joseph starts to explain Foursquare. “It sounds a bit lame”.

I started up a Blog Preston page on Foursquare with all our restaurant reviews on it. It didn’t need extra work on our behalf.

It was a great way to bring content elsewhere. There are so many free tools, Soundcloud, Storify, Audioboo:

We try to find ways to use these tools rather than just for their own sake.

Andy was told off for tweeting from a council meeting.

All these councillors were saying ‘what you doing, what you doing’? Because of this hyperlocal bloggers have more rights.

They weren’t allowed to sit in the normal press area.

Carrying out readers’ surveys they found people really like the live coverage. They are also able to cover councils because they’re students they can go to meetings at noon.

They have had issues with the name Blog Preston because of the ‘blog’. Wikipedia moderators said they couldn’t be listed as local media, but people from the area came to their defence and said ‘we like Blog Preston’ we read it more than the local paper.

They hold workshops for people interested in getting their stories out into the world. It’s a funded year-long project.

Adam Oxford asks about readers surveys.

We know our readers are aged 30-40 and find us on Google.

Andy : We may be considered digital natives, but we look at what people are looking for. If it’s organic from search engines, or via Twitter and Facebook. We have more followers than the local paper. The click through rate on Facebook is really good.

We’re almost running the Facebook page as a page in itself. We host the local photography club’s pictures. We add the police blog, Preston North End etc. Bring people from around the area in.

We ask where does the reader get where they want to go? You may not get the traffic but you’ll get a loyal reader. They’ll see us as a good source.

We want to be a local news hub.

Joseph is looking at Data journalism. Finding data from numerous sources, police, council etc. and putting it out in the world for people to look at.

Joseph: Money is difficult. Big example is Lichfield Blog. They get a lot of traffic and have more resources. We have the luxury of being students. The advertising model doesn’t reap many rewards.

People say I should charge for social media advice, but that would make me feel dead inside.

Andy: When we introduced advertising we lost our pictures on the top.

Joseph: University praise us, and we know they could do a great job with a huge legal department of law students, a marketing department and lots of journalism students.

Andy: There are all these journalism students who could be going out to do their best. If you take 10 per cent that could be a bigger staff than many newspapers.

Now Andy has left Joseph to run it on his own.

Andy: Even though we get kudos from it and a CV boost, there are 300 journalists [at the university] who aren’t interested.

Joseph: There are only so many Friends repeats I can watch and the Apprentice has finished, so I do Blog Preston. We do more interesting things. Our classes are not innovative, it’s based on newsrooms from 20 years ago. You need to learn this but at least we’re experimenting a bit.

Kirk Ward asks about battling with the big business machine where you need to battle to get interest in new innovative tools.

You have to have someone who is interested. There are students not interested, just as local papers have someone to do it.

Andy: We’re not strung by having to make money and build an audience. We just enjoy it.

Joseph: Linking is really important. It’s a pay off, do you sacrifice traffic for engagement and loyalty, or do you see the long game and see yourself as a trusted source.

Kirk: You’re a web brand.

Joseph: Yes it doesn’t matter where they end up, but they come to you first.

Andy: Branding is important. I like to think we have achieved that with Blog Preston. A local visitor is as valuable as someone who reads 10 stories.

Greg Hadfield: Do other people at the university show interest in journalism? You’re at the heart of an institution paying £3,000 why not take it over? Use the student body as a resource, you can get between the institution and the audience.

Joseph: Yes, we’re syphoned off, The journalism department is separate. We’re cut off from the programmers and artists. I have to work hard to find them, it’s ridiculous. Some are in different buildings, but there’s no cross departmental contact.

It would be brilliant if a computer science lecturer would come in and teach us HTML.

You don’t need to do a journalism course to be a journalist. Other universities without courses have newspapers. We have a student body of 300 journalists who don’t seem interested in doing what we’re doing.

Andy: Look at student newspapers at Oxford and Cambridge, they have people from all courses writing for the papers. We ran the uni newspaper but it was all journalism students. But again it was the same seven of us doing the same thing.

Joseph: There are cross overs for every university subject. You get journalism students on a cookie cutter, all taught the same thing.

Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

September 9, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Live blog: Why journalists need data and data needs journalists #bfong

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James starts off with a graphic showing the debt mountain show the need for cuts and the national debt.

Looking at the deficit and debt he compares it with his own debts, outgoing etc.

The difference between cutting short term debt, and long term debt. The graphic on the front page of the Independent was wrong by comparing the debt and payments.

Another headline “Public sector pensions cost you £4,000 a year”. The number was ridiculous “tosh” not all public sector spending goes on pensions, there’s salaries, too.

It’s obviously wrong, but it makes people think the public sector is full of fat cats. It ended up on the front page of a national.

The Guardian is usually good with its numbers, but still makes mistakes. Now James is showing a slide of the Guardian’s front page saying two billion people will watch the royal wedding.

The biggest TV audience is 1.1 billion, the Beijing Olympics, the royal wedding reached probably 300 million people.


Terrible new disease will kill 1 in 1,000, but there is treatment and a 95 per cent accurate text. The treatment is dreadful.

The test will be wrong five times out of 100, therefore 1,000 tests will have 50 people with it, but if you test  positive  only a one in 50 chance you have it.

Bad stats kill people.

Jade Goody campaign to encourage young women to have smear tests, but cancer in young women is rare. The test is 85 per cent accurate. It is not in the general interest for extensive testing.

The MMR jab is a case in point. There wasn’t a link, but the evidence is MMR doesn’t cause autism. Vaccination rates are down and measles is back.

The pretend bogey man brought back a real one.

“We have to know statistics and know the signs to be sceptical. If a doctor or medical association is questioning a drug, it’s worthwhile asking why and asking if it makes sense.”

Ask yourself, does this add up?

James starts talking about the Iraq War Logs from his time at Wikileaks.

The way it worked was to mix journalistic skills and programming skills.

He worked for Dispatches and Al Jazeera, as well as an independent site now listed for an Amnesty award.

Looking at air power had defence experts listing the types of missiles and aircrafts. Programmers then found all this data and then a journalist checked it manually.

Just because you know what to do with data doesn’t mean you know how to find the stories. It’s not how to look for stuff but what to look for.

James shows a map focused on the Greenzone in Baghdad, Iraq marking every building with a fatality, he describes it as sobering.

People were sent to find people who were there, the survivors. It put the human story on the statistics.

Another map featured a video. The video showed two insurgents trying to surrender to a helicopter. The pilots asked what to do and were told to shoot.

We found examples of people who had been able to surrender to a helicopter.

A researcher found evidence of a person with their hands up. They needed to check if it was Apache footage from Iraq. There were details of the latitude and longitude, as well as the time and date.

Searching the data they found record of the right car and the shooting. They had the details of the range, matched the details and were able to release the footage with confidence.

It is always about the question you ask the data.

It’s not just about mapping and interactive, those aren’t journalists skills, we tell stories.

We need to think what’s interesting, what people engage with, what’s important.

It’s the people sense, the story sense, that’s what journalists are employed for.

I think newsrooms need data journalists, but hybrids are useful. To be a good journalist we need to know what’s possible with data.


Raul asked about data and statistics

James explained about having huge amounts of data, but finding stories when he was at the Grocer. Specifically finding price fixing in dairy.

Greg Hadfield asked how he gets hold of the data to find the many needles in a giant haystack.

James explained how he got the Iraq logs at 1am in a park and told not to go home. He couldn’t go clubbing…

Huge amounts of data on the stick and it was taken in themed chunks.

Searching the cables they would search for summaries or tags.

James was working at Wikileaks finding details in the cables. Doing a lot of coding.

James Ball answers questions

How much time do you get?

It depends on the project. Guantanamo was a group project with a deadline.

At the Guardian James is an off diary reporter. He has no patch, he’s not covering general news. Everything he reports is self generate.

With the Iraq logs he had 10 weeks to deal with data and create two versions of the story for Al Jazeera, a Dispatches programme, he was horrific.

The hardest I have ever worked in my life.

Joel Gunter asks what was James’s background in stats and numbers?

I have no formal computer or data training. I have some now.

James does have a PPE degree. He did quantitive methods in social science.

Learn what statistical significance means, correlation to the mean and confidence intervals…

Given the limited amount of time some journalists have at newspapers, do you think journalists will get into it or slip up because they’re rushing for a good story.

We don’t worry about quotes, because that happens, we should worry about numbers. A reporter should know that saying pensions cost £4,000 is wrong. We have to start caring. It’s more visible and now people start laughing at you on Twitter.

The Telegraph article doesn’t exist anymore, it says £400, it’s all very Orwellian.

Lack of concern or care has much bigger consequences.

Wale asks when a data journalist finds important things do you get a joint byline?

James does get a byline if he’s putting in a lot of work.

It’s recognising data reporting is a skill.

Wale continues – What about infographics?

They’re a travesty against man. They’re fine when they’re accompanied by good reporting or draw into good reporting.  He remembered a graphic on World Water Day of an image about the amount of water using in a slice of bread and a pizza base.

It makes people think they know something when they end up knowing less.

The worst are when they are heat not light.

Raul asks if there’s a place for infographics, in the same way as the twitter.

Yes but not in isolation.

Good ones are fantastic but most are very bad.

There was a graphic showing arms sales. It showed Saudi buying a small amount of weaponry, but the previous year had spent billions.

Have to think carefully about how we do infographics.

Talking about the police map, local newspapers could tag events and crimes.

That kind of stuff would feel okay. Use Google Fusion, put a post code in a spreadsheet.

BBC local network would have done it  then papers shot it down.

Andy asks about how people learn how to deal with things.

James learns when he has to. He suggests playing around with Google maps. When you replicate it in Google Fusion and it’s really simple.

Simon Rogers at the Guardian can’t write code but he is a brilliant data journalists and does amazing things with maps.

Are there girls?

Yes many. Celia at the FT, Heather Brooke, Nicola Hughes etc.

Greg Hadfield asks: When will they stop being called data journalists?

Specialisms are always around, investigative, photographic, so there will be data journalists with specialist in-depth knowledge.

Asked about strikes costing the country

Essentially these figures are made up. Ask yourself how did these figures come about.

James will be speaking at news:rewired – noise to signal on May 27.

Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

May 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Why journalists need data and data needs journalists – or – how not to kill your readers with James Ball #bfong

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Guardian data journalist James Ball is coming along to Brighton Future of News Group to talk about his adventures in data journalism with a talk titled Why Journalists Need Data and Data Needs Journalists – or – How Not to Kill Your Readers.

Before joining the Guardian James worked for Wikileaks and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. He has interesting stories to tell about finding the stories in data and how the information reached him.

BFONG meets on Monday, May 16 in the function room upstairs at The Eagle in Gloucester Road, at 7.30pm.

It is free to come along and a great chance to meet like-minded writers, bloggers, journalists and other media folk.

Please confirm if you are attending via the Meet Up group as space is limited.

A live blog will be published at the end of the meeting and Tweets can be followed using he #bfong.

If you can’t make BFONG James is also talking about data journalism at news:rewired – noise to signal on May 27.

Written by Sarah Booker Lewis

May 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Making their way in journalism – the @wannabehacks #bfong

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Brighton Future of News Group April meeting with Ben Whitelaw and Alice Vincent, the student and the maverick at Wannabe Hacks.

Ben: “It’s coming to events like this you realise you’ve done something different.”

It started with five lads from Birmingham University who all wanted to work in journalism. They looked around for courses and sought advice. It was difficult to find a single view. Many older journalists had a different route into journalism.

Three guys had places at City University, and one had an internship and the other was freelancing.

They decided to start up a website. Looked into court reporting. Great advice from people including Paul Bradshaw and thought it would be good to write up stories and sell them via the website.

“It was too much hard work to sit in court without shorthand or media law.”

Got the Mad Men style images from a friend, and sought advice on how to make the website work. Martin Belam of the Guardian said not to worry about the way it looked but go for it.

In the week the trio started at City they had a feature in The Guardian and had 1,000 impressions on their two-year-old blog.

Ned, the detective, had to drop out, but they were joined by Alice, who was working in New York.

“It’s been a fast eight months”, Ben said.

Alice Vincent, the Maverick,  “I checked them out and thought it was interesting.”

She got in touch with Matt, the Freelancer, and asked him how he managed while fresh out of uni. Asked to be a guest writer from New York as she was off.

The first post Alice wrote was about working at NYLon.

“It blew my mind, after several work experience placements in London, once working with Lady Gaga’s stylist.”

Alice was able to write a review of a novel and really get on with it.

She was called in to join the hacks, “It’s kept me sane, even though I’ve been employed for three weeks.”

Worked in a shop for a while, but writing for an online publication kept her sane.

“We get a daily thread of emails. It’s really nice to feel part of a community.”

“I’m always amazed by the amount of people who Tweet us about stuff.”

“It’s great to hear from other journalists who don’t know what they’re doing but, don’t know shorthand, we’re all in the same situation.”

Alice has been working at for three weeks.

Ben has passed his law exams at City and also has his 100 wpm shorthand.

“What we say to young journalists when they ask how we do it, we’re five journalists writing a blog together, we’re a mini collective with more force behind us.”

Alice: “Hacks isn’t a vanity project. It’s not selfish.”

“Ben’s posts always get the most hits, but he doesn’t milk it.”

As a team they appreciate each other’s writing. They support each other and share ideas and contacts.

Ben: “We didn’t think we’d get a job out of this, we did it to keep ourselves busy and learn from it.”

“Hopefully it will help people. You don’t know if it helps but the work Alice has done has probably helped her get work at” Ben said.

“I’ve applied for a job working at the Independent, but they chose someone with little experience.”

“Not doing it to get the job, but because you love it and have fun talking to people.”

One girl wrote about taking cake in to the BBC. Taking cake into work is a good idea.

Ben finds himself writing at 1am.

Alice used to babysit for the chief sports writer at the Telegraph.

Best advice he gave was “you will lose your 20s”.

“You come home from doing your job, you get home, you’re writing, but you love it, it’s not a chore.”

Tom and Ben went to Kingston University to talk about Wannabe Hacks. They held an event where 80 people turned up.

“You get to meet interesting people. Meeting people comes full circle.”

They have received praise from and FleetStreetBlues placed them as the second best journalism blog when it was just five months old.

Everyone’s very busy. Limited time for podcasting through work. Getting together renews their enthusiasm and ideas. It’s hard work.

Alice’s first post was slated by Fleet Street Blues, but “we’re still waiting for our point to hit the wall.”

Met a woman who worked at 5Live, encouragement to continues means they are doing to see how they can continue with it and see if they can develop into a business.

Different approaches to the job works well together. Nick Petrie (the intern) comes up with some of the great ideas.

Have to be practical with the big ideas. Hogwarts for Journalists is a long way off.

On May 20 the team is having its second meet up. There will be cup cakes from Cute as a Cupcake.

Questions time:

Cathy Watson: “How did you get your first 1,000 visitors.”

Ben: “Got in touch with the editor of Media Guardian, and wrote a piece about the student media awards.

“Wrote 700 words, cut to 300, with a little pictures of us and a bit about what we’d done.

“It was perfect for me and Tom (the Chancer) on our first day at City.

“Hope a few came back to us.”

Now they average between 3-500 visitors a day. A busy day is about 1,000.

“Tom working on the Guardian sports desk this week, but preferred work experience at The Forester.”

Deputy sport editor told him he’d read his post. Apparently they were quite surprised.

“Tom stuck up for himself, saying he had seen enough. It had gone”

They have organised themed weeks, production, magazine, local journalism etc.

Alice was surprised her interview with the editor of NYLon didn’t have as many hits as a piece by two students writing about women’s magazines.

Cathy Watson: Do you have a Facebook page?


Here it is

They want to encourage younger journalists.

Alice has wanted to be a journalist since she was 16.

“There is a market out there to target 16-year-olds who want to be a journalist”.

Ben says they’re trying to get more people using Facebook using polls.

They also have a Tumblr account.

Rich Hook:  How do you choose the hacks?

Ben: ” It was just five mates at university together moving to London.”

At City they already had the site. Some have taken the piss. Others have written pieces they know more about.

“Some are too proud to say they don’t want to become a hack. Others have seen it really helps raise your profile.”

Alice: “We have a really open policy for guest blogs.

“Style blogger the Sartorialist criticised a slim woman for being ‘chunky’.”

Alice sent a call out. They also ask for a pitch.

Rich – Some people seem to be afraid to put their work out there.

Ben “Today I wrote a piece about passing 100 wpm, some people thought it was a bit ‘preachy’.”

Rich – There must have been a time before it blew up.

Ben: “At the start, when someone tweets or comments they don’t agree, then worry.

“It’s not a bad thing. It’s more of a two way thing, it’s not just writing a news story or piece about shorthand for other’s to absorb, but people can say they disagree.”

“Journalism is becoming more about dialogue.”

Alice: “First time you write something controversial and get a reaction it’s great.

Ben congratulated Rich of the Brighton Lite team for getting something out there.

Personal posts are often the most popular.

Paul Watson: “There is no reason why you couldn’t set up as a Hogwarts Academy, other companies around the country do so.”

Alice: “We’re not established enough, but getting a team of tutors on board would be great.”

Paul: “You have the early stages of the brand.”

Rich: “Hacks finishing school.”

Alice: “One day when we’re all working, we want to get other people to take it on.”

Ben: “In a few month’s time our experiences will be irrelevant.”

“We want it to be an organic project to be passed on.”

Laura Oliver talks about Ed Walker, who passed on Blog Preston to other students. He created it to learn at university, got a job with WalesOnLine and now it is an award-winning blog.

There is discussion about advertising, sponsorship etc.

Ben says they have got some advertising from City.

They don’t know about advertising, but are learning as they go.

Have thought about charging for video, or helping people set up WordPress.

Today Ben read about small businesses going to evening classes learning how to use Twitter.

They have plans for an eBook.

“If it’s 50p for a chapter, it shows how it can be done.”

Sarah Marshall: “How have you divided up the tasks?”

Alice said Ben is the nicest person in the team, so he asks people nicely for money.

Ben: “It’s time consuming.”

Ben organised the pub, Tom organised the newsletter.

Whomever comes up with the idea gets to do it.

Sarah Marshall: “Do you sub each other’s stuff?”

They used to but they tidy up each other’s work. It’s not efficient, no post pending, it’s a bit rough and ready.”

Praise for Joseph Stashko as someone to watch, for young journalists.

Ben describes Joseph as a good story teller who introduced him to Storyfy.

Paul Watson then explains his own experience with Storyfy, which he used at last months’ BFONG and also has a long-running Uckfield spring blog.

They’re also looking at Bundlr, where you can highlight things and drag them together on a theme.

They blag and muddle their way through.

“Because we don’t know that much.”

We’re not an authority, we’re just wannabes.

Laura Oliver praises the Wannabes and Joseph Stashko as professional people who take it seriously and are efficient.

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