Go to Friday Reading
Friday Reading
Letter sent on Mar 24, 2016

Friday Reading S03E15

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam that has come out on the wrong day this week because of Easter, covering journalism, media and technology. And frequently Doctor Who. And 80’s music. And anything else that grabbed his eye. Martin is Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian in London.

Very interesting media analysis from ex-Guardian developer Sébastien Cevey who has left to go to Google.

“The Guardian publishes around 600 pieces of content every day, which often accounts for more than 24 hours of uninterrupted reading. Not only is it impossible to read them all, but with one-size-fits-all promotion channels (single homepage per edition, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds), it’s also impossible to promote them all. Readers end up missing out on a lot of niche content they would have been interested in. Importance is relative: what’s crucial to one might be trivial to another. By failing to combine editorial control with algorithmic personalisation, in an irrational fear of compromising their voice, publications fail to speak to everyone individually. If publishers retreat into being mere content producers, other more engaging services will provide relevancy instead”

On leaving the Guardian: dreams of digital journalism” — Sébastien Cevey

[As a side note, he mentions the “hacky liveblogging editor” project he first worked on at the Guardian. It was my last project there in a UX role. Quite astonishing that in the three years I was away it transformed into our beautifully elegant CMS Composer]

Also about the Guardian, and notable for the tremendous shade thrown in the direction of The Media Briefing by Prospect Magazine: “Who guards the Guardian?

“Having, in the words of one senior colleague, taken a ‘huge bet on the digital future,’ Rusbridger should perhaps be prone to a few collywobbles as he settles down in Oxford. I sent him two emails and delivered a letter to his house, which happens to be close to mine, asking him whether he would agree to be interviewed as part of this article. After a few days GMG’s press office contacted me to say that, ‘he won’t be taking part in the piece.’ Yet he did recently find time to speak illuminatingly to an obscure website called TheMediaBriefing, stating that ‘these notions of scale have got to be re-evaluated.’”

Delightfully Stephen Glover then goes on to quote that interview at length, without linking back to Chris Sutcliffe’s original work. Classy.

Strong writing by Craig Winneker in the aftermath of being seconds away from getting caught up in the Metro blast in Brussels this week.

Jasper Jackson wrote for the Guardian about what seems to be the increasing amount of fake videos and misinformation spread online during attacks like this.

And I wrote a piece looking at the increasingly complex set of journalism ethics surrounding using eyewitness video footage and the ever-expanding array of digital opportunities for journalists to broadcast.

“It is instructive to think back to how 9/11 was covered, and how that would be different today. Had that attack taken place in 2011, rather than 2001, it is almost certain that some of the first images journalists would have had would have been people in the south tower of the World Trade Center, taking photographs of the north tower in flames, and posting it to social media, unaware that United Airlines Flight 175 was at that moment on course to hit the building they were standing in.”

Some concrete numbers from Libération on the impact of Facebook’s Instant Articles on their site. It seems to encourage longer dwell times and more repeat visits, but there’s none of the oft-mentioned, seldom proved, massive uplift in traffic some people claim.

A look at the “Civil” commenting platform which gets users to peer-review the quality of comments being posted on a news site. Definitely an interesting idea, although I note that the paper mentioned here has a very small commenting community of around 400.

I went to the inaugural Words By Women Awards and reported on it for the Guardian.

British journalism is 94% white and 55% male and that really impacts the range of stories we choose to tell.

This is one of those cases where someone makes a frightening point about the potential for a technology to be abusive by apparently actually abusing an unsuspecting female victim and nobody appears to have jumped in and said: “Mate? What. The. Fuck.”

“Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Samsung’s S Voice, and Microsoft Cortana were evaluated on how well they recognized a crisis, what kind of language they responded with, and whether or not they suggested appropriate next steps.
What the researchers discovered, unfortunately, was a gap in coverage that betrays a dispiritingly common problem in technological innovation: how to make sure women’s needs don’t become an afterthought.”

The problem with a technology revolution designed primarily for men” — Soraya Chemaly

“I do not mean to be personally harsh here. I am not trying to hurt people. But there is something deeply shameful — and hurtful — in the fact that even today a young Nina Simone would have a hard time being cast in her own biopic. In this sense, the creation of Nina is not a neutral act. It is part of the problem.”

Nina Simone’s Face” — Ta-Nehisi Coates

Decent intro to the tiny scraps of information we have about the first Muslims in England during the late 1500s.

Oooops. A copyright dispute about the name of a module escalated pretty damn quickly and broke loads of stuff.

How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript” — Chris Williams

Interesting essay about Sony moving to understand what the music industry looks like in a world where nobody buys any music anymore.

And a quick flashback to the music store I helped design for Sony in 2007.

‘Bicycle face’: a 19th-century health problem made up to scare women away from biking” — Joseph Stromberg

I love the history of unsubstantiated moral panics.

The ‘Boaty McBoatface’ Vote Makes Me Ashamed to Be British” — Joe Bish. Funny, but features many, many Sweary McSwearfaces.

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology. And frequently Doctor Who. And 80’s music. And anything else that grabbed his eye. Martin is Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian in London.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Martin Belam’s story.