Starting with IPEX 2002, this blog covers events relevant for UK print, including Seybold and DRUPA. See also website at

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Guardian is getting closer to something sensible by way of reporting the news about print. Jeff Jarvis has an occasional small space on an inside page of the Media supplement. He writes at greater length on Buzzmachine blog, about 'news organisations', the development of newspapers online as well as in print. Last week he linked to an mp3 of a speech by Alan Rusbridger, Guardain editor, on how this trend could effect the Guardian and other titles. (see previous post).

Today on the main editorial page the lead is about books, with much to celebrate. Even Richard and Judy are welcomed as encouraging wider readership for books. No mention of crowding out other titles or encouraging discounting.

There is a smaller space for 30 years of Apple, noting the iPod and the rise of download music.

But almost nothing on e-books or online text, either free or paid for.

There are two other bits of writing that could have been linked in. Page 34 The Saturday Web Page features Emily Bell, getting to grips with the 'unimagined newspaper'. This moves away from assuming that news can only be distributed through paper. Writing could be at any length. The term 'news organisation' is used to indicate that cost and income can be online as well as in print. These ideas have been discussed by Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine blog and in print, but this is the first time Emily Bell has included newspapers at such length in her reviews of digital disruption.Apparently Roy Greenslade will soon be rejoining the Guardian with a media blog. If he writes about 'news organisations' and gives some numbers for online income this really will be a new phase that will convince proper print journalists to pay attention.

The Saturday Review includes a summary of news from The Bookseller. Literary folk are assumed to support the book trade as everyone can aspire to be a dealer in second hand books. This week there is a comment on the contrasting fortunes of Waterstones' campus bookshops ( six closing out of 28) and Blackwell Publishing, on sale for £600 million. The explanation is that "students are researching on the internet or swapping secondhand books, while publishing giants are successfully switching to online channels." While true, this is also interesting as an indication of what is accepted as Guardian copy. Not long ago there was a page of tirade against Google scanning, complete with an illustration of Charles Dickens. There has been no reply to this published in print as far as I know. Victor Keegan has written online in 'Comment is Free'. But if the publishing giants are 'switching to online channels', presumably Google will be better accepted over time.

Joel Rickett, deputy editor of the Bookseller, also mentions a recent conference in Bournemouth at which it was explained that something called "e-learning" is taking over universities. Presumably this is informal learning, post-compulsary, life-long or whatever you want to call it. Since the disaster of the UK e-University there has been little formal promotion for e-learning. The use of social networking websites by school students is sometimes seen just as a danger or waste of time. There is almost no learning design around a mobile phone. Have I gone into rave mode? Well, my impression is that Victor Keegan will not get his words into the 'Comment is Free' site very often as they tend to appear on a Thursday as part of the 'technology' strand. How could this be relevant for the literary concerns of a Saturday? Maybe the first week of IPEX will be an exception. I will try to calm down, keep reading the Guardian and check what turns up.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I have updated the Acrobat Services UK site with a report on a talk about the web and newspapers by Alan Rusbridger, editor of the UK Guardian. This seems to have been intended for 'the blogosphere' without reaching UK newspaper readers. There is a claim that the New York Times has taken a wrong turn in charging for their 'comment' web pages.'Comment is Free', the new Guardian project presented as a group blog, is presumably intended to reach a wider audience so the advertising income may end up greater than would have come from subscriptions. Unfortunately the contributors don't seem to understand what a blog is. Most copy seems to be simply moved over from the print version. Readers are adding comments but there is rarely a response from the original writer. Jeff Jarvis is an exception to this. His printed coloumns benefit from covering topics previously explored online. This week he defines the nature of a blog in light of the discussion around Arianna Huffington's creation of a George Clooney 'blog' from various sources. Jarvis insists that a blog is 'a person in conversation', that 'transparency is our highest virtue' and then quotes the Cluetrain Manifest0- "The internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media."

So 'Comment is Free' could gain stregth through conversations rather than celebrity links.

My current concern is to get some sort of statement from Guardian staff explaining how they see the finances of a 'news organisation' based online and in print. The coverage of newspapers in MediaGuardian largely ignores web finances. This week (Mar 27) there is a (largely sympathetic) look at the Independant that mentions the 266,075 print circulation but has nothing about the website at all. An interview with John Micklethwaite, editor of the Economist, suggests that the online challenge has not hit magazines as directly as newspapers. The print magazine will remain the basic Economist product during John Micklethwaite's editorship. Interviewer Maggie Brown writes that this is estimated to imply the next ten years.

Victor Keegan has contributed comment on the book industry, seeing some advantages in the scanning project from Google. As of the weekend 'Comment is Free' did not include his comment on Citizen Journalism from Thursday. Maybe Technology Comment is not thought to be of general interest. At some point he could write about newspapers as well.

Last year Jeff Jarvis wrote in his Buzzmachine blog about a quote from Alan Rusbridger on the Man Roland printing machines purchased by the Guardian for the new Berliner format. "These may be the last presses we ever own." The direct quote was not included in the print version published in MediaGuardian, but the implication was explored for 'news organisations', publishing through various nedia.

This blog is about IPEX so one question is how long the Man Roland kit can be expected to lat. Spare parts may be available for ten or twenty years. This could be checked out in Birmingham from 4th April. Adobe and others will be using the term 'pre-media' as well as 'pre-press'. MediaGuardian reports on IPEX may include some informed evaluation of how 'news organisation' finances will work out.

I will snd in reports from IPEX to OhmyNews as a citizen reporter. The international English language version of OhmyNews is not on the scale of the Korean base, as reported recently by MediaGuardian. But in my opinion it maintains a high standard of reporting, especially about the social effect of technology. I find it encouraging as a context. Broadband is already assumed in Korea and has been for some years. this helps in imagining future developments in the UK.

Meanwhile the Guardian seems to be dismissive of 'citizen journalism'. Ian Mayes may be confusung this with 'witness reporting'. As Readers' Editor he writes about the Guardain picture editor's use of a photo from the public via Sky News to illustrate a heath fire in Dorset. Later study revealed the animals in the picture to be elk, rarely seen in Dorset. Apparently the photo was actually from Mintana in 2000. Sky pulled it as soon as it wqas established as ahoax. Ian Mayes reports that the Guardian picture editor has claimed this incident "points up a problem with citizen journalism". Picture agencies have rules about passing pictures off as something they are not. "There are no such rules for the citizen".

This statement is apparently ignorant of how a citizen journalism site such a sOhmyNews actually operates. There are editors and fact checkers. The citizen reporters appreciate the process and want to make an accurate contribution. The mainstream media practice os using occasional free of charge photographs is something rather different.

So there could be some clarification of the terms "witness contribution", "citizen journalism", "blogging". During IPEX there could be some exchange of views around this. It is clear that changes in media are happening alongside changes in content. Available print technology is a large factor in this.