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Sunday, July 20, 2008

New look coming for the UK Telegraph

The UK Telegraph is close to showing off its redesign, which has been in planning for a good while.

Martin Stabe spells out the changes (and has a few images) over at

The relaunch comes after a six-month user research and redesign process that was conducted in-house at Telegraph Labs, the company’s new research and development unit.

Like several other recent news website redesigns, will move to exclusively horizontal navigation, dispensing with vertical menus to increase the amount of space available for content above the fold.

The primary aim of the redesign was to increase user engagement with the site, said Roussel. The Telegraph currently publishes around 300,000 news stories online each year, and hopes to increase the volume of pages that each user sees.

UK users of currently access an average of 16 pages a month, and although Roussel there was no firm target, the aim was to increase that figure within the next year.

“In the next 12 months we hope to achieve a much deeper level of engagement so that for each person who comes to the site, they not only read our news and sport but see really the full gamut of content across the site,” he said.

I like the look of it very much. It looks clean and well organised. And while a number of page elements have moved, the Matt and Alex cartoons have remained, very sensibly, at top right. Matt is still the first thing I look at whenever I visit:)

Telegraph sells ads at home and abroad

Every now and again you read something and think 'about time'. This (via PaidContent) is one of those things:

"After Mail Online’s about-turn, GMG’s launch and Times Online’s link-up, now the UK’s number-two online paper has decided to make money from the majority of its users that come from outside its native UK, giving AdGent 007 a license to sell its overseas ad inventory to international advertisers, NMA reports. Some 12.4 million of its 18.4 million users come from overseas, according to May’s ABCe, the majority of them from the US. Despite the big numbers, the majority of page views still come from at home."
Having a significant percentage of overseas readers can be a bit tricky for publishers - local advertisers don't like the idea of their precious ad being wasted on far-away eyeballs.

So it's good to see publishers figure out how to turn the problem into an opportunity - using geo-targeting and global agencies to sell ads in more than one market.

Linking out 'works' for news sites

Speaking of links, this is a nice little piece from a guy called David Eaves who has an SEO company in the UK.

I won't pretend to be able to recreate the maths, but in essence he collected a few vital statistics for large mainstream websites - including incoming and outgoing links - threw them into an Excel spreadsheet and came up with a chart...

... and this:

"The resulting figure of 0.842733801 shows that in general there is a strong relationship between news websites linking out and getting links in return."
I like the way he notes in his post that it's not fair to lump all mainstream news sites in together, and that:
"As a blogger it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the fact that mainstream media websites are, with the exception of the BBC, business entities with shareholders and an obligation to maximise profits. It’s understandable that they are reluctant to send valuable page views elsewhere."

He also sought comment from the websites he looked at and the two quoted are worth a read. This is part of what's editor James Montgomery had to say:
"One needs a clear distinction between “attribution” and “sourcing”, journalistically speaking. Citing a non-FT source would not, generally speaking, meet the FT’s required standards of verification. (Just because something is reported by the New York Times, say, doesn’t make it true, however much we implicitly believe what we read in that newspaper - we have to check for ourselves.)

"Obviously, we are more inclined to believe some sources (Reuters) than others (chat rooms). Many blogs might be regarded as inherently unreliable because they don’t reveal their sources or uphold traditional journalistic/MSM standards of reporting (eg, double sourcing, on the record or whatever). But there is nothing intrinsically untrustworthy about blogs as a genre.

"So when it comes to linking out on, a link does not constitute sourcing for us. But as a general rule, if we do acknowledge some third party content, then best practice would be to carry a link to it.

"For example, if we write: “Yesterday’s statement by the prime minister appeared to represent a climbdown from an interview to the BBC last week in which he pledged….”, then we would link “interview” to the BBC article. That’s a service to the reader, who may want to follow the link to learn more; and a confirmation that we have accurately reported the earlier quote.

"Do we also live up to this best practice? No, because of some technology issues to do with persistent hyperlinks in text in our CMS, and newsroom training. But we are improving."

Lack of links one reason for lukewarm hyperlocal experiment

For those keeping an eye on the success or otherwise of hyperlocal websites, this is worth a read. It's a Wall Street Journal piece about the less-than-stellar debut of a Washington Post hyperlocal site called

By way of background:

"Like hundreds of other hyperlocal sites launched in the past few years, reflects a basic premise: Metro newspapers probably can't compete with the Internet or cable TV in covering breaking national and international news, but they can dominate what happens in their backyards.

" offers detailed databases including every church, restaurant and school in Loudoun County, about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. It embraces the idea that a high-school prom is as newsworthy as a debate over where to build a hospital, and that Little League deserves major-league attention. And it promises to let visitors to the site shape the news through blogs and photo and video submissions."

The WSJ notes that despite those intentions, " remains little more than a skeleton of the site its architects pledged to build. One reason: the team of outsiders [brought in to build the site] didn't do enough to familiarise itself with Loudoun County or engage its 270,000 residents."

What leapt out at me was that the Post wasn't linking to LoudounExtra:

"Mr. Curley [the site's developer] says whenever a big story breaks involving Loudoun County, the Post typically publishes it on without a link to LoudounExtra. That deprives LoudounExtra of potential traffic.

"Nor does the Washingtonpost's own dedicated Loudoun County page send visitors directly to its online sibling."

Huh? Links are oxygen.

"In September, when Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit announced it was moving its headquarters from Dulles, Va., to New York, the Post linked to the story on for a couple hours before moving the story back to its own site. That window of promotion fueled the Loudoun site's best traffic day to date, Mr. Curley says.

"Jim Brady [executive editor of] now says he is considering replacing the current Loudoun County page on with, although he adds he doesn't want or future hyperlocal sites to be too dependent on for traffic."

Maybe I'm missing something but I don't understand why the smaller site should have to stand on its own, especially not from the get-go. No site develops or thrives without links and all sites benefit from more links.

Wouldn't it make more sense to develop a network of niche sites which complement the main web property, and build a matrix of links between them?

I get the feeling audiences are less and less interested in destination sites and want to stumble across information in the natural course of their day or order what they want and have it delivered. I know I am. If that proves true, well-linked networks would make more sense than a chain of isolated sites.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Claim your name online

From Howard Owens comes a useful list of tips for journalists who want to 'own their own names' - ie get yourself, your CV, website and blog established and visible in Google searches:

  • Get a Facebook profile going. Use it to link to your site.
  • Start a LinkedIn profile (be sure to take advantage of the service that allows you to create a URL containing your name). My LinkedIn profile page does well in Google. Also, link to your site.
  • Start a profile page on Wired Journalists. Link to your site. My profile page hits the second page of a Google search for my name.
  • My Buzznet site ranks real high for my name in Google, so start posting photos to Buzznet.
  • Ditto for Flickr.
  • Grab your name, as in “clairstamant,” as a Twitter account. My Twitter account ranks high on Google.
  • Start a Digg account. Be a good Digg member and digg worthwhile links, but also when you do a good post, digg your own post. This will help with SEO, too. My Digg account ranks high on Google.
  • Start a YouTube account with your real name as your account name. This should rank high, then, in Google searches for your name. Of course, you’ll want to post some videos. I don’t know how other hiring managers would feel, but I’m going to look more at the spirit of the effort than the quality of the content. I’m not expecting your personal creative expressions online to be NBC ready.
  • Start a second blog. This is an opportunity to add a little SEO juice to your main, professional domain, and it gives you an outlet for personal expression, while keeping your site for professional purposes.
  • Always use your real name online — for EVERYTHING you do. Never leave an anonymous comment. Never use an assumed name. You want people to know you, find you, look for your, know who you are and what you do. Not only is posting anonymously unethical for journalists to do, it robs you of a chance to increase your visibility. Also, cheap and easy anonymity can lure you into a career-ruining mistake. Remember, you can always be found out.

Voicemail belongs in a museum

From the 'I'm glad it's not just me' files:

Howard Owens writes that voicemail is dead, get over it already:

"I’ve set up my work phone to forward to my iPhone. I never touch my desk phone except for conference calls.

"Unfortunately, if a call forwards to my iPhone, if I don’t get it by the third ring, for some odd reason, the call reverts to my desk phone. This leads to either A) people calling me twice (second time to my mobile number) or B) people leaving me a voice mail I probably won’t listen to for weeks.

"I felt guilt about that until I read this TechCrunch post.

"But now an increasing number of people are just plain avoiding voicemail (for my impromptu and unscientific survey, see the comments here, which are predominantly anti-voicemail). It takes much longer to listen to a message than read it. And voicemail is usually outside of our typical workflow, making it hard to forward or reply to easily.

“Outside the work flow …” That pretty much sums it up."

Couldn't agree more. Such a faff having to dial Vodafone to hear the message. Much easier if messages are texted or emailed - I can read them in a moment and respond immediately.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wall Street Journal 'nearly doubles' audience

The Wall Street Journal is one of the few newspapers to keep some of its content behind a paywall online (meaning you have to subscribe to read some of the stories).

This policy bucks the trend of recent years to offer everything free online for fear that your readers will just go elsewhere if you don't. A fair policy given that daily news outlets have relatively few points of difference from one another and there's no scarcity of news online.

The WSJ has rather more points of difference, however, and it seems to be doing just fine. According to a report posted by Editor& Publisher, in the last year the WSJ has nearly doubled its user-base, with a 94% increase since June 2007. The site now reaches 16.2 million users.

"The site offers a mix of free and paid content. The Journal's breaking-news alerts and personal-finance, opinion and lifestyle content, as well as videos, blogs, podcasts and other interactive elements are all available free.

"Even with a fee - print subscribers pay $49 a year for a web subscription - WSJ Online attracts more than one million subscribers and 10 million monthly unique visitors.

"In 2007, generated about $60 million in subscription revenue. To put this in perspective, making up that revenue in ad sales would require to increase traffic by more than 20 million unique monthly visitors."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

See who's doing what on Wikipedia

Here's a nice way to waste a little time. It's a map showing the latest edits to Wikipedia, what they were, who made them and where they're located. Thanks to NZBC for the link.

Almost as good as Twittervision and this map of news stories around the world.

Monday, July 7, 2008

How to run the numbers on favourite sites

This comes under the category of cool tools:

Type the url of any website into urlmetrix and you get instant numbers on what that site's Google page rank is, how many times it's been bookmarked to, its Technorati rank, Compete rank, Google and Yahoo backlinks and more.

Great fun punching in sites you know and seeing what comes up.

Ice cream and social media

Lee LeFever of Common Craft uses ice cream to explain the main benefits of social media. I love the way this guy works.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Facebook NZ's favourite social network

Facebook was the number one social network in NZ in May, according to Hitwise.

Facebook accounted for 39.87 per cent of visits in "a custom category of 40 leading social networks in May 2008, tightly followed by Bebo with 39.15 percent of visits". MySpace had 7.81 percent market share, Orkut 2.86 percent and Windows Live Spaces 2.44 percent.

Facebook has attracted explosive growth in the past year amongst New Zealand Internet users, increasing 536 percent comparing May 2007 and May 2008. Facebook ranked as the sixth most visited website amongst all websites in May 2008.

Engagement with Social Networks remains high with New Zealand Internet users spending an average of 24 minutes and 45 seconds on the custom category. This is compared to an average session of 10 minutes and 53 seconds on All Categories of websites during the week ending 31 May 2008.
Top 10 websites in Hitwise custom category of Social Networks
by New Zealand Internet users, May 2008

1. Facebook 39.87%
2. Bebo 39.15%
3. MySpace 7.81%
4. Orkut 2.86%
5. Windows Live Spaces 2.44%
6. Friendster 2.05%
7. hi5 1.01%
8. Yahoo! 360 0.84%
9. Yahoo! Groups 0.68%
10. Tagged 0.55%

Meanwhile, with the launch of Apple's third-generation iPhone set for 11/07/2008, Hitwise said "visits to Apple iPhone by New Zealand Internet users increased by 348% and the website moved 1062 places to rank 300 amongst all websites during the week ending 14/06/2008".

Also of note: "New Zealand searches for 'plenty of fish' increased by over 250% between 10/05/2008 and 14/06/2008, with the dating website receiving the greatest volume of traffic from the term 'plenty of fish' (24 weeks ending 14/06/2008). Email Services (29.61%) and Search Engines (18.32%) were among the industries to refer the greatest share of traffic to during May 2008. Now you know."

Fairfax to centralise newspaper production

Fairfax is taking a leaf out of APN's book with the announcement it will centralise some of its newspaper production.

It means sub-editors based in two main centres - Wellington and Christchurch - will sub, lay out and produce pages for the Features, World and Business sections of its nine daily newspapers. Generic non-news pages such as TV and Weather will be standardised across the titles.

Here's a few excerpts from the press release on Scoop:

Fairfax Media Group Executive Editor Paul Thompson said the autonomy and individuality of the company's newspapers would not be affected, and editors would remain in control of everything printed in their newspapers.

The subbing and layout of local and sports pages will remain the responsibility of editors and sub-editors within each masthead.

The move follows the near-completion of installing the Atex Genera editorial production system across all Fairfax Media newspapers, a process started about two years ago.

Fairfax would also be looking to have more generic non-news pages such as TV and the weather undertaken by providers for the whole group.

"Such tasks are time-consuming and often monotonous, and it makes sense to have such tasks performed at one place," Mr Thompson said.

"The most important aspect of this proposal is that control of all pages is retained at local sites, overseen by editors.

"This initiative is part of the ongoing process of shaping our newspaper operations to continue to compete effectively in a future environment facing ever-increasing competition from online news and information sites."