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Archive for the ‘33 Digital’ Category



New languages of journalism

Update: I should point out that Heidi got in touch with me over Twitter and explained that she was not criticising the concept of the immersive narrative – indeed she is a fan of Firestorm, mentioned below, and another Guardian project NSA Decoded (which is pretty incredible). She also clarified why she argued that the “Snowfall wannabe teams” mentioned in the post below should be “dismantled”: Heidi tweeted: “Snowfalling is essentially a developer employment programme”. I really hope that’s not true, but her perspective is better than mine.

A fantastic discussion unfolded over the weekend, after The Guardian’s US finance and economic editor Heidi Moore criticised an article for using the immersive narrative form of publication.  The form, pioneered by the likes of the Guardian’s Firestorm and the New York Times in Snowfall and Tomato Can Blues, has been used by a growing number of media organisations, with varying degrees of success, such as this by Mashable and a feature about Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the Boston Globe this weekend.

The debate was kicked off by Moore with this critical tweet:

Heidi Moore Boston Globe Tsarnaev Tweet

She swiftly followed that tweet with this, more incendiary post:

Heidi Moore Dismantle Snowfall Teams Tweet

The retweets and favourites suggest Moore hit a nerve with this point of view, and the volume of the discussion that took place thereafter shows the level of attention currently focused on the concept of the immersive narrative.

I’ve embedded below a brilliant Storify by Mindy McAdams, online journalism at the University of Florida so you can get an idea of the arguments that were set out over the course of a couple of hours.  But there were a number of points that I felt went unaddressed, and so thought it would be interesting to set them out here.

In summary, Moore seems to have been expressing a distaste for “me-too” tactics, which are of course common in business and in media.  When someone does something well, copycats often emerge, sometimes improving on an original idea, sometimes missing the critical qualities that made it great in the first place.

She has a point. For me, some of the experiments in immersive narrative in the past year have become confusing in their use of multimedia and interactive formats.  The Guardian’s Firestorm is a very pleasing experience, but the sense of narrative is overwhelmed by the use of so many content changes that demand your attention as you scroll through it.  Mashable’s Kiwi Gardner story verges on the gimmicky, with some unnecessary use of animation and a lot of scrolling, although it has a compelling beginning that sets the scene extremely well. On the other hand, biased as I may be, I think the 33 Digital team got the balance right with the Hotel Price Index we produced for Hotels.com earlier this year; all images, graphs and charts are designed to be read on any device, and the report has been downloaded far more than in previous years.

So what are the elements that the New York Times got right with Snowfall, and which other media and brands could learn from in the way they communicate their own narratives?  Here are four key elements that seem to me to just work in Snowfall:

1. It uses multimedia for a high-impact introduction

2. It uses a range of media types to create atmosphere

3. It blends multiple media types together while remaining in balance

4. It works across all devices

Successful immersive narratives use the latest web technologies such as HTML and CSS to introduce a new language of journalism that reaches beyond the words and pictures that dominated the past, and allow content to spread seamlessly among the consumers and sharers who connect via a huge range of mobile devices.

The point that immersive media were now a core element of journalism was made in response to Moore by Gabby Stern, deputy online editor of the Wall Street Journal:

Gabby Stern Immersive Narrative Defense Tweet

However, Moore disagreed and made a couple of arguments that suggest a very narrow definition of journalism, where imagery and design are of secondary relevance.  She suggests that, while there may be a place for these, they detract from the act of journalism:

Heidi Moore Enemy Of Journalism Tweet

Heidi Moore Why Snowfall This Tweet

It brings into stark relief an issue that is at the heart of both journalism and communications at present – what is the correct scope of a modern-day journalist or PR professional?  Both professions have grown up with the primary focus on storytelling through the form of written and spoken words. Images play an important role, but it’s always been accepted that you could survive a career in PR or journalism with word skills but being ignorant of the language of imagery.  In other words, pictures are for the picture people – the rest of us will get by with words.

I no longer believe this argument is viable for people working in communications, any more than it is for those working in journalism.  I think we have to accept that, in the post-print era, imagery, sound, moving pictures and interactivity are going to play an increasingly central role in storytelling. We need to start treating the ability to create narrative experiences using a broad set of different languages as a core skill.  It doesn’t mean we all need to become designers and coders, but we do need to stop seeing these skills as alien, as confusing, as time-consuming, as expensive.

As you can see in the Storify below, Moore goes on to argue that the resource it takes to pull together an immersive narrative is so high that it reduces a newspaper’s ability to engage in journalism.  I would argue, on the contrary, that any journalist or editor who does not recognise these skills as core to the act of journalism is missing the future of information consumption.  And this is just as true for company and brand marketing and communications departments as it is for the media.

Once you’ve read the Storify, go back and read the Boston Globe’s Tsarnaev story again, and see if you think Moore’s criticisms are fair.


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Peter Sigrist wrote this on December 16, 2013 - No Comments
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Why did Apple buy Topsy?

It’s well-known that large tech companies often buy smaller rivals and start-ups. Sometimes its for the technology, other times its for the people, a strategy known as an aquihire. Is it possible to understand why Apple has acquired Topsy?

Typically the press has a field day speculating about the meaning of these purchases or attempts at purchase.  Why did Facebook try and buy Snapchat? What plans does Microsoft have for Nokia’s mobile division?

Usually it’s not hard to see a host of possible reasons for an acquisition. But occasionally, such an acquisition sends the analysts scrabbling for explanations. Apple’s acquisition of Topsy seems to have had this effect.

The reports emerging of the acquisition carry a number of reasons:

  1. to know what people are talking about in realtime on Twitter
  2. to improve search results in Siri
  3. to improve analytics of the iAd service
  4. to use the time customers spend on social media to better place its products across social media
  5. to apply Topsy to its own data, such as the App Store

Given Apple’s historical reticence to join social networks as a brand, and indeed its cultural apathy towards the publicness enshrined in services such as Twitter, it seems strange to imagine it might use Topsy to better promote or place its products. Even if it wanted to do this, it could have done so merely by subscribing to Topsy Pro.

Weaving data into iAd or Siri search seems more plausible, although it’s not immediately obvious how Apple would do this, given how tricky it has been for both Bing and Google to balance the relevance of web search results with the recency of social media trends.

So, we must conclude that data-loving Apple has recognized that it has no really powerful way of identifying trends and influencers within its own ecosystem, the App Store.  Imagine if Apple was able to better target customers by their consumption habits – better offers, better service for Apple’s highest-spending customers.

As Tesco found through its partnership with Dunnhumby and the launch of its Clubcard, knowledge of customer habits and preferences can make a big difference to revenue in the short term and customer lifetime value over a longer period.

Our prediction: don’t expect to see Apple brands clambering all over Twitter any time soon.  Rather, expect to feel a bit more understood when you use iTunes in future.

One other outcome we hope does not come to pass: we hope that this does not herald the closure of Topsy, a service we love. I noticed this morning when I went to the create account page for Topsy Pro, it returned a message stating it is not currently accepting new trials. Hopefully this is unrelated to the acquisition.

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thirtythreeadmin wrote this on December 3, 2013 - No Comments
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Accelerating changes in the UK media landscape

One of the few remaining certainties in the media has been the schedule.  In broadcast, you know Downton or Doctor Who will be watched by millions of viewers at the same time.  In newspapers, you know the evening deadline is your last chance to get a quote into the print edition and the morning editorial meeting is the best chance you’ll have to get your story onto the section front page.

This week showed that even these last vestiges of the mechanised age are falling by the wayside.

We’ve taken a quick look at a few announcements we think are pivotal for those trying to plot the future of the media:

  • The Financial Times will be scheduled more like a rolling TV news channel. Lionel Barber has announced the Financial Times is going to move away from the historical model of publishing multiple daily print editions and instead produce content based on the peak times of online demand. In effect, the FT is adopting a broadcast model – timing content around several daily bulletins. The paper will serve as a wrap-up, providing more context and data on the previous day’s biggest stories.
  • The BBC will put the content into the hands of the viewers. In a wide ranging speech Tony Hall outlined the future of the BBC – personalisation of content consumption. Through a revamped iPlayer and new apps such as Playlister, BBC users will increasingly be able to create their own viewing experiences, giving choice back to the people who are paying the BBC’s bills
  • Relative newcomer Buzzfeed claimed traditional media is leaving behind a generation.  President Jon Steinberg issued a stinging rebuke to the traditional media, claiming they have given up on young audiences and are only focused on producing content for people over 40. The rebuke was part of a wider speech in which Steinberg looked to establish Buzzfeed’s credentials as a ‘hard news’ organisation.
  • The new media players are hiring the old media skills. Buzzfeed UK has been beefing up its news team with the hires of Patrick Smith as media editor and Jim Waterson as political editor. Twitter has also been busy snapping up journalists, with Joanna Geary and Gordon MacMillan two high profile signings.

Think we’ve missed something? Let us know.

image courtesy of  Jon S

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Tom Rouse wrote this on October 11, 2013 - No Comments
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The return of the robots: Social Media Week London  

Social Media Week London, which is kicking off from Monday 23 September, is one of our favourite weeks. This year we”re revisiting our annual Digital Trends Report, launched at the end of last year by robots, to ask – what were right about? Where did we miss the mark? And what”s on the horizon for 2014? Tickets are still available sold out! Follow #smwdigital trends for live updates and check back here for our round-up of the event, plus highlights from the rest of the week.

Digital health

One of the trends we spotted in Digital Trends Report 2013 was the burgeoning growth of the self-tracking movement. To expand on that, we”re launching our Digital Health white paper, exploring the technology and the people wearing, thinking and talking about it. The white paper will be introduced at this month”s Quantified Self Meetup, held at our new offices. Hit the link if you’re keen to come – we’d love to see you there.

Testing Twitter

Eagled-eyed and/or obsessive users of Twitter may’ve noticed one or two new features pop up recently, including advanced filter mechanics for verified users and history graphs to show the popularity of a hashtag.

However, although these are shiny, new and exciting, we’d advise you not to get too attached. With massive changes due to occur on the platform in the near future, it’s likely we’ll see quite a few feature experiments, some of which may be short-lived.

Something big is brewing in Twitter HQ, something all the small cogs are working towards. Whether you love or hate the new Twitter, you won’t be bored.

In brief

  • Hotwire self-tracking aficionado David Clare is joining the panel at CIPR”s Social Media Week event, , which takes place next Wednesday. Find out more on David”s digital health blog and follow #smwQuantSelf on the day for updates.
  • We”ll be helping out at what promises to be an awesome event run by our client Pearson, asking whether social media is a friend or foe to the classroom.
  • If social media buzz is any indication, next week’s finale of Breaking Bad may just break the internet. We’ll be sure to tell you if it does.
  • Also, think Burberry was the biggest name at London Fashion Week 2013? Think again. Keep an eye on the blog for a heavy duty #LFW data breakdown from our Listening Post team
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thirtythreeadmin wrote this on September 19, 2013 - No Comments
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Take away points from #BrightonSEO

On Friday, I went to Brighton for the day to attend the annual Brighton SEO conference. There were some impressive speakers from the day including Oliver Snoddy from Twitter and Paul Plunkett from BBC Sport. Check out the 33 Digital Twitter feed for all of the conversations from the day, but here is a handy round-up of the key points to take away from the day.

Oliver Snoddy from Twitter was the first speaker of the social session. Oliver took us through examples of big brands using Twitter for real-time marketing from using Vine to answer FAQs to examples of brands jumping on opportunities, such as Andy Murray winning Wimbledon this year. An interesting stat from the session is that 80% of the UK”s 15m Twitter users access it via mobile.

“To have a conversation with you users you need to have great content as great content tells stories”. Adriano Accardo

Up next was Adriano Accardo from Google showing us examples of brands using Google effectively to build great experiences for their users, including Cadburys, House of Fraser, Late Rooms, Topshop and Emirates.

“You can make social work for you, as long as you try it and then test it”. Jennifer Sable Lopez

Jennifer Sable Lopez from Moz talked us through how to test social, her stance is that “content is king and SEO is dead”. Jen stressed the importance of testing social content, she recommends tracking all the changes you make, testing everything to figure out what works for you and then testing it again as things change.

Jen recommended various social tools including: Follerwonk, Buffer, Bit.ly, Truesocialmetrics.com, Sproutsocial and Twitter Analytics.

The second half of the morning was the Creative Session which kicked-off with SEO Video Strategist Phil Nottingham who challenged the audience on the ROI of video campaigns. Phil believes that “there’s no ROI on views of a video if there’s no engagement”. He advises that video content should be a goal driven strategy, where the 3 goals should be: traffic, awareness and conversion.

Another interesting point from Phil was that, based on his research, YouTube does not drive traffic to your website, so use the channel for brand awareness, not conversions. Phil’s slides can be found here. 

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. Danny Ashton

Danny Ashton, a self proclaimed master of content outreach shared a few top tips on how to compare and apply seduction theories to content outreach. Check out his slides .

Danny’s 6 tips were:

  1. Vulnerability: By asking for feedback on content from an expert, it opens up more possibilities and it’s the start of a relationship. It opens you up to failure and vulnerability.
  2. Honest communication: Honest communication outreach is applicable in so many ways to outreach. Being honest with your communication long-term is a way of building relationships. Be yourself, be honest, use your own name and agency name and your reputation increases so next time you outreach it is open and you are being yourself so overtime you build a relationship.
  3. Affinity: Crucial for content outreach, you need to spend the time to find the affinities that exist in the content so you find the perfect publishing partner.
  4. Overcoming fear: Your internal dialogue keeps you safe but it isn’t reality and you need to test it; the same applies in content outreach.
  5. Rejection: There’s variables outside of your control and you can choose to think that it’s about you or simply accept that it is out of your control. It’s just part of the process.
  6. Confidence: The key to building more meaningful relationships but it’s hard to be confident when trying something for the first time. Rejection is part of the process and we build confidence throughout.

The conference was really interesting and we’ve taken away lots of creative ideas backed-up with some awesome social media examples! This is a highlight of the sessions that we attended however the conference appeals to a wide range of people offering more technical SEO sessions and evening a mentoring session! We’ll definitely be attending the conference again next year and if you’re interested in attending, keep an eye on the website, Brighton SEO’s Twitter feed and Organiser Kevin Newman’s Twitter feed for news on next year’s event.

 

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Janey wrote this on September 16, 2013 - No Comments
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What social media data tells us about political activity this summer

When John Prescott weighs in, you feel it. The former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is a political heavyweight and doesn’t mince his words, especially when he’s hectoring from the pages of the Sunday papers.

In last weekend’s Sunday Mirror, he accused Shadow Cabinet members led by Ed Miliband of deserting their posts this summer. In a tub-thumping 720 words packed into 32 bombastic paragraphs (at an implausibly tiny average of 22-words each), he claimed the summer is traditionally a time used by the Opposition to launch policy initiatives. This summer, by contrast, he claimed Labour has been absent, and ”even Shadow Cabinet ministers stopped tweeting at the end of July”.

Is this a true state of affairs? Or has Prezza been suckered into a line of argument put forward by his opponents over recent weeks?

What’s so great about the field of communication we all work in today is that we can obtain data about anything we like, all the time. You just need to know where – and how – to look.

Using Listening Post, a software tool we developed a couple of years ago to map online influencer networks and track conversations, we took a look at the tweeting performance of the Shadow Cabinet. We decided to check Lord Prescott’s facts for him, and see whether or not the team has really gone to sleep over the summer.

Who’s been letting the side down?

On looking into the data (details of our data set are below), our first discovery is that the overall Twitter activity of a list of 400 or so UK politicians that we have been tracking for 18 months is up 30 per cent on last year (rising from 17,687 to 25,993 tweets).  Meanwhile, the number of tweets posted by members of today’s Shadow Cabinet has risen by 39 per cent.  On this broad metric, they are ahead of the general growth, and Prescott’s claims look false.

But if you dig a little deeper, it begins to look like the former Deputy Prime Minister has a point. While some Labour members, such as Stella Creasy (38k followers) and Chukka Umuna (57k followers) have been on fire this summer, increasing their tweeting by 97 per cent and 72 per cent respectively, the Labour party’s leaders themselves seem to have switched off.  Ed Miliband (233k followers), Ed Balls (97k followers) and Harriet Harman (48k followers) are down an average of 45 per cent from last summer, having posted a rather measly 60 tweets between them in the past month. The two Eds were particularly paltry, posting just 36 tweets in the past month, against 101 in the same period last year.

At the other end of the scale, Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, has been on a crusade this summer, tweeting 745 times in the past month. Creasy’s approach to Twitter is worth a second look.  She carefully selects fronts she wants to campaign on, and goes out with highly effective tactics to drive her issues from Twitter into the news agenda of the BBC’s Today programme with increasing regularity. Last summer, for example, she was campaigning against payday lending. Her most retweeted post of the 2012 summer was about the repayment rates used by Wonga.com. It was retweeted 430 times, out of a total 2178 retweets she received in total during last summer.

This summer, Creasy joined the campaign against abuse on Twitter, particularly that levelled at women. Her most retweeted post in the past month, generating 137 retweets was a shout out to men to stand up to people who abuse women on Twitter.  In both these cases, Creasy’s vocal campaigning played a part in driving these stories up the news agenda, for which she then benefited as a prominent supporter of a popular cause.  This is a lesson that other politicians, as well as brands and businesses, could learn.

Lessons from the data

There’s a powerful lesson here for marketing and communications professionals in all lines of work – it’s time to put live, everyday data at the heart of your strategy. The data you need to help you make important decisions, to provide the insights that should drive your content marketing campaigns, and to measure your performance are all out there, just waiting to be harvested. If you want us to help you find them, please just give me a tweet, and we’ll be more than happy to show you where they lurk.

 

Notes on our data

We have been tracking the MPs as listed by Blogminster for roughly 18 months.  This list is slightly out of date, and we have created our own up to date list of all current MPs to track for issues and sentiment shared on social media, particularly Twitter.

For this analysis, we used the Blogminster list because we had data for last year and this.  We looked at the date range 18 July – 18 August for both years. We then analysed the Twitter activity of most prominent members of the Shadow Cabinet today, as listed on Wikipedia.  The names we paid particular attention to, and whose tweets provided the bulk of our analysis were:

  • Ed Miliband
  • Ed Balls
  • Harriet Harman
  • Yvette Cooper
  • Sadiq Khan
  • Andy Burnham
  • Caroline Flint
  • Chukka Umunna
  • Stella Creasy
  • Hilary Benn
  • Stephen Twigg
  • Angela Eagle
  • Rachel Reeves

Listening Post is a proprietary technology that underpins most of the work we do for our clients, helping us to identify clusters of influence among online groups that aligns to issues or areas of interest. It also allows us to pay particular attention to any groups using social media, which provides interesting data into what they talk about and how often.

 

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Peter Sigrist wrote this on August 20, 2013 - 2 Comments
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What’s changed in the new Facebook Insights?

In case you’ve not seen it elsewhere, here’s a mini briefing on the new Facebook Page Insights announced overnight. (TL;DR? Jump to the analysis)

The new dashboard will be rolling out from today to pages by invitation. You’ll get a notification within Facebook when your page(s) are eligible for the new dashboard.

Some of the highlights from the announcement are:

1) Changes to ‘People Talking About This’ metric

This general metric can be a useful general snapshot for page performance but it’s compiled from a lot of other granular metrics so it’s not easy to take action from it alone. In the new Insights, PTAT will be broken down into the subset of actions that contribute towards the overall number. Facebook will break out PTAT “into elements that will now be reported separately as Page Likes, People Engaged (the number of unique people who have clicked on, liked, commented on, or shared your posts), Page tags and mentions, Page checkins, and other interactions on a Page”. It’s worth noting that a lot if not all of these metrics are already available via the raw data exports, but are now more visible via the Insights dashboard.

2) More detail on post-level interactions

There will be a post-specific ‘Score card’ that breaks down the interactions that contribute towards each piece of content. This will interestingly surface ‘negative’ interactions like hides or unlikes that happen around a piece of content – which is useful data for content planning. Again, this is already available in the raw data exports and we use this within planning.

Example screenshot from Facebook:

3) More details about engagement as well as reach for demographics

As well as presenting the reach of the page content for different age and gender demographics, there will also be a measure of interactions from each group as well, which gives a nice view into how content is performing with our different target audiences.

Example screenshot from Facebook:

My takeaway:

The new Insights interface is a good move from Facebook. A lot of the data is already there in the API, but this surfaces a lot of useful information in the Facebook interface itself. The biggest winners will be smaller pages who don’t already either get the data from the API or through third party management dashboards, which will no doubt help Facebook as an advertising platform for a broader range of businesses.

Need help? The team of 33 Digital loves crunching the numbers as part of our campaigns and community management for brands. If you need any help getting under the skin of your brand’s Facebook profile do get in touch.

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Phil wrote this on June 20, 2013 - No Comments
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Social media lessons from Ed Balls Day

By Pete Sigrist and Liam Thomson

Yesterday was Ed Balls Day. You may not have noticed it, but tens of thousands of people hit social media to take part in this unlikely celebration of a social media gaffe by shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls. Balls’ own response was a moment of brilliance, and we think there are lessons here for companies and brands wishing to take control of digital conversations.

An internet meme was forged on 28 April 2011 when Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, accidentally tweeted his own name to the amusement of Twitter users. This obvious mistake sparked thousands of retweets as the joke was shared around the world. At 4.26pm yesterday, almost precisely two years since the original tweet was posted, an anniversary celebration of sorts took place.
Read More »

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thirtythreeadmin wrote this on April 29, 2013 - No Comments
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33 in the News

Here at 33 we specialise in offering clients and individuals big and small the best social media advice you can find – and the world is taking note. We may still be less than a week into December, but it’s been a busy month for our team as they take to print and the airwaves to offer pearls of wisdom about engaging with an audience on Twitter.

First up our very own Sam Phillips went head-to-head with Nadine Dorries on the benefits and risks that social media poses to our elected politicians. We think Sam won hands down, but decide for yourselves here. This was followed on Monday by our MD Peter Sigrist jumping in a cab and speeding across London to speak to the BBC World News about the challenges facing the Pope as he adapts to life on Twitter.

His Holiness already has over 350,000 followers without a single tweet to his name and that’s just on his English account. The Vatican has claimed that he will see every tweet issued by the account himself, but given he is managing accounts in several different languages, Pete rightly expressed scepticism about how successful the channels could be.

The key challenge for the Vatican will be engagement – how can they use the tool to converse with followers across the world rather than simply broadcasting soundbites to them. So if anyone from the Vatican or David Cameron’s office reads this – you know where to find us, Pete’s ready and waiting for your call.

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thirtythreeadmin wrote this on December 7, 2012 - No Comments
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Leveson & The Digital Grey Area

The Leveson report is due out on Thursday and amidst the shouting matches about the future of the printed press and whether they’ll be given one final chance to prove they can effectively self-regulate, one crucial question has been largely ignored.

What happens to internet news sites and blogs? Will the post-Leveson world see the Huffington Post, Politics home, etc treated in the same way as the Guardian and the Independent? They can already join the political lobby, so there is a precedent for treating them in the same way. But is this enough, or will they continue to exist in a grey area?

No one seems to know and even more puzzlingly, no one really seems to care. While article after article has been written on the merits of self vs. statutory regulation (neither is perfect, but the former is preferable) almost nothing has been written on whether the average blogger will be regulated in the same way.

Currently the Press Complaints Commission only covers organisations who have signed up to be part of it and it’s hard to imagine any of the previously mentioned sites signing up for membership. We don’t know whether the Leveson Inquiry will recommend a mechanism that compels media organisations to sign up – but if he does it would be surprising if this applied purely to the printed press.

But if it does apply to online publications, where does it end? At what point does society draw the line and say your site is too small to require regulation? 10,000 page views a month? 20,000? Or are we going to say that every site, no matter how small, which posts topical news and comment pieces will be expected to sign up. The latter is obviously an unworkable option, but such is the lack of debate around the issue that we simply don’t know what will happen.

Even if in the short term, Lord Justice Leveson decides to only recommend changes to the system governing the printed process, this is an issue which will not go away. It’s only a matter of time till The Guardian goes digital only and other papers will surely follow. Does a switch to digital only mean they are suddenly exempt from regulation? And if not, will we have to undergo this whole process again as the government scrambles to figure out how to regulate the online press.

This is not to underplay how fast misinformation and rumour can spread on the internet and how vital it is that people can correct false articles or rogue websites. But that doesn’t mean we should be comfortable with the idea of the government being able to regulate material published on UK based sites.

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Tom Rouse wrote this on November 28, 2012 - 1 Comment
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