Thursday, November 13, 2008

From bitchiness to disasters...

This is what I spent part of my day doing yesterday - reliving teenage hell - and this is what I'll be doing this afternoon for Polis at the LSE....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Were you still up for Ohio?

Went to bed but with the radio on and woke up to hear Obama's acceptance speech. Have to say it made me cry a bit. 
Best moments on TV - Dimbleby completely losing control of Schama and Bolton. Schama trying to make the BBC call it; Bolton getting into slanging match with Katty Kay and then demanding Rajesh Mirchandani be sacked...(it was a pretty rubbish interview and too combative that Mirchandani did but Bolton was really frothing at the mouth...)

Forgot to mention - Burger King and Subway were the food outlets of choice at the Embassy last night. Spotted - George Robertson and George Osborne's PR (in different rooms I hasten to add)

Ps Courtesy of the Guardian - I missed Maureen Dowd on the BBC but love these two quotes. First on John McCain's fundamental problem...

"In a way it reminds me of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The Republican Family did not let John McCain marry the girl that he wanted to which was Joe Lieberman so he married the younger, fashion-interested girl that they chose for him. It fell apart and the two camps began sniping at each other and now McCain just wants to get back to Lieberman."

And second, when asked by Paxo how historic the night was:

"The first 16 presidents of this country could have owned Barack Obama"
So...just heard Ohio has been called for Obama...Just  back from the US Embassy complete with cheerleaders outside, where it seemed likely (the lifesize cardboard cut-outs of Obama and Palin were being grabbed so people could have their photos taken with them; McCain's was left propped up against the wall....*) and a huge cheer went up when Pennsylvania was called for Obama
Spotted: Ian Paisley, Margaret Beckett, Hazel Blears, Chris Huhne in black tie, Nick Robinson, Andrew Rawnsley (wearing a Charles Tyrwhitt tie); Nick Robinson (bad shoes), Mark Thompson (wearing the same jacket as he did on the Andrew Marr show; obviously cutbacks already at the BBC), Janet Street Porter (shouting), Zeinab Badawi (taking two icecream canapes at once), Lembit Opik lurking outside the media centre
Downstairs Glenn Tillyard was reprising Squeeze's greatest hits - although difficult to see how Up the Junction relates to the election; and a disastrous attempt at Perfect Day (NB never get drunken US embassy guests to try to sing Lou Reed ex tempore) - although it was worth it at the end when Tillyard kept asking "Ian Paisley...come up here if you're here"
A poor woman dressed in droopy eau de nil as the Statue of Liberty was still holding the torch high (literally - must have biceps of steel) by 2am

*Actually cant even remember if Biden was there....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Overexcited and over here

Have read every single Telegraph, Guardian, BBC update....wish I was over in the US - but about to head out for the next best place....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Know What You Did Last Summer...

Robert Shrimsley in the FT's take on the Osborne-Mandelson-Rothschild-Deripaska affair is well worth reading....
As is Garland's cartoon right...

What I don't understand was when did Corfu get so hot? I still thought it was meant to be an embarrassing throw back from the 1980s. Shows what I know..

Meanwhile here is a take on what it was like to be at Oxford in the 1990s.....ah happy days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What do you reckon?

Will post about LSE Media Communication and Humanity Conference tomorrow as I came home and carried on finishing off my chapter on privacy for the RISJ....lots of discussion, and I was especially interested about John Ellis on mundane witnessing, Barbie Zelizer on "about to die" images and Mirca Madianou on shame and the media.
But the best moment of the day has to be the beginning of the panel which I was on organised by Henrik Ornebring, whose paper with Annamaria Jonsson Tapper began with Mitchell and Webb's deconstruction of user generated content - the funniest (and sadly accurate) account I've seen. So worth watching....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

It's Sunday - so it must be LSE

Still finishing off my preparations for the Media Communications and Humanity conference at LSE later this month - and importantly waiting to see how does in the Knight-Batten Awards due to be announced on Tues. They won the NetSquared Mashup challenge, have just announced big new funding so I'm guessing they have a pretty good chance...I'm guessing I won't be the only one talking about them at the conference somehow....

Meanwhile another thought provoking post from Dan Gillmor on 'almost journalism' that I've just come across....

Saturday, September 06, 2008

There's something about Sarah....
Much excitement about Sarah Palin this week, and much comment; this piece by Anne Applebaum I particularly enjoyed because it considers whether Palin is indicative that the Hillary Clinton era is over. 
The move from early feminist to post-feminist is an interesting one; the idea that we are now ushering in high profile female politicians who were not the ones who had to fight to be allowed to go to university, to be the doctor rather than the nurse, the director rather than the secretary does indicate a sea change....
But there is still a long way to go. Criticism of Palin this week and the unease  about her from many women commentators made me think about the frequent whisper during the Democrat primaries from women saying that they wanted a woman president - just did it have to be Hillary? The same is being said of Palin....That glass/concrete ceiling -no matter how important the 18m cracks are - will only finally be broken when we can describe our distaste for Palin, Clinton or whoever down to them as individuals or their party not their gender........

PS one last thought. Much furious comment on whether Palin should be running for Veep despite having a baby with Down's Syndrome. I look forward to similar debates about the suitability of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron to run this country.....oh, no, there hasn't been any has there....? Is this because we take disability in our stride in the UK - or is it because they are both men?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Gustav v Bihar

A provocative blog in the Telegraph today saying that Bihar could be India's Katrina....there has certainly been small coverage of the floods in India here too - there was some media criticism of the BBC's Damian Grammaticus's report where he took a place on one of the overcrowded boats rescuing those stranded - an age-old debate over how to report in such situations.

I couldn't find anything about Bihar on Global Voices surprisingly but I did find this rather intriguing post on Big Brother Africa III

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thinking aloud....

Have sent off the rewrite of the novel; currently knee deep in disasters and new media again ahead of the LSE conference in a couple of weeks....(nearly finished honest Henrik)

So I'm thinking disasters and aid and money (thanks to Charlie Beckett's blog from Harvard) plus Susan Moeller's paper at the same conference, and Burma (Charlie again) plus an event at the Brookings Institution last year. Plus WFP's account of Mr Sokor and the mobile phone.

In the meantime, here is the ALNAP report  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paxman, Blyton and a nun's beauty contest

I took time off from privacy to write a short, intended-to-be-mischievous piece about Paxo's lament for the middle-class white male for the Telegraph yesterday.
Inamidst gags about underpants and the BBC's policy on curly hair, I was rightly taken to task by one of the commentators on the Telegraph website for pointing out I have a picture of me with straightened hair on this website. 
Mark Culley you are right - that's how deeply the BBC affected me that I still straighten my hair to this day.....But that's another piece

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kafka, a hedgehog and privacy

I've written a column for the Telegraph today making reference to this new report I am co-authoring for Ofcom and RISJ. In the piece I debate our changing ideas of what is private and what is not with reference to the author of Metamorphosis and his savings book.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sorry I have been absent for so long.

I have been working more or less full time and dashing around - to Sex and the City, to Madrid - where I was a key note speaker for the ALNAP conference - and which I have blogged about for AlertNet - see link here. And also thinking about football and weddings.

I've also started work on co-authoring a report into privacy - of which more to come...

I was interested to read Mark Lawson's piece in Media Guardian here - he is talking about the MoD practice of filming military funerals and the restrictions that places on the story. Plus Megan Rowling's blogs for AlertNet from Aceh

And I am very guilty for my lack of blogging. Will redeem myself forthwith.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Burma, China continue....

I missed this gem from the Guardian the other day about the broadcasters squabbling over their takes on the disasters. Interesting, in between the insults that they are throwing at each other, Jon Williams of the BBC talks about "throwing money" at these two stories.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comment is free.....
I had the pleasure of being asked to write for the Guardian's CiF site yesterday about the media coverage of Burma and China - you can find the piece here. It was interesting for me to sit down and think why these disasters are still in the news, when other disasters - Hurricane Stan, the Java mudslides, the Peruvian earthquake in the past - have not done so; and what we can learn from this in order to improve reporting in future. 
It was also interesting - and instructive - to read the comments.  Several seemed to think I was against disaster reporting; not my intention, what I am concerned about is how to sustain good humanitarian reporting in future.
However I was particularly struck by one by Liuzhoukaf who pointed out that it was wrong to say that there had been little citizen journalism from China and Burma; that there had been in China and if it had not been recognised in the West then that was because it was in Chinese. S/he makes a good point; I was thinking in terms of the British media (which used 5 mins of UGC video at News at Ten on Monday which I mentioned at the top of the piece) and did not make that clear enough. 
Of course as mentioned earlier there are claims that news of the earthquake broke on Twitter. Perhaps in writing the piece quickly I did not make it clear as it should have been. With Burma the situation is slightly different; as one producer said to me 'the cyclone succeeded where the junta failed' - the huge amount of UGC we saw after the protests last year has not been repeated because of sheer logistics, and power failures. But as Roland Buerk reported, DVDs are now on sale in Rangoon of film of the cyclone and there have been examples - particularly on Global Voices and the BBC of people trying to get the stories out. But due to the sheer devastation there has been less.
I can't finish this post however without mentioning Jay73's verdict
"I have only read Glenda's profile and the headline of this article so all I know at the moment is that she specialises in crap titles for things and looking scarily intense in photographs."
Hahahaha.  Too true (although I didn't write the headline in this case). The sad thing is, as anyone who's met me knows, I look scarily intense in real life as well.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Burma/China thoughts

Kim Fletcher on the difficulties of reporting the two disasters in Media Guardian and Jeff Jarvis on how Twitter broke the news of the Chinese earthquake. Plus - something I'd missed - a BBC apology for using old tsunami footage.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Merlin's wizardry? Burma and the new journalism
I've just watched the most extraordinary edition of the Ten O'Clock News tonight for two reasons. First of a 20 minute bulletin 7 minutes was given over to both Burma and China; this, so many days on is a significant percentage of a bulletin; agencies have worked hard to keep both in the news. Both stories defy the usual rules of disaster reporting; for a domestic audience like the UK these are faraway countries (although there is a significant Chinese diaspora here, and a historical legacy with Burma). Even so, for a third of a bulletin to be devoted to disasters that happened more than a week ago is unusual.
Second one or other of them should be in the news; not both. Jonathan Benthall in Disasters, Relief and the Media quoted a French newscaster as calling it the "funnel" effect - that emotion can only be channeled one way at one time. I call it the Mother Teresa Death syndrome; the nun who toiled in Calcutta could have expected huge swathes of news print dedicated to her achievements; nstead because she died on the eve of Diana Princess of Wales's funeral, the queen of nuns was elbowed out by the queen of hearts.
However, both have survived. Part is luck: there are no other running foreign stories. Part is the interesting problems both throw up: the debate over whether Burma should be forced to accept aid on one side versus China's 'openness' compared to previous occasions. Part is hard work by the aid agencies to ensure the story stays in the public domain.
In the meantime the most vivid exposition of this is the lead story on the Ten tonight; using pictures from Labutta shot by the aid agency Merlin to give an idea of the devastation in the delta. This is the original  2'47 package from Jonathan Pearce of Merlin from which these pictures are taken is there.  
I have written in the past about the blurring of lines between aid agencies and journalists and chaired a debate about this at the Red Cross's Dispatches from Disaster Zones. Let me begin by saying that the BBC in this case flagged up in the cue these were Merlin's pictures, astoned them and then in the script reiterated the fact these were aid agencies pictures. No one can fault them there.
What was interesting was that the majority of the package (I'll have to watch it again to get timings) narrated by the BBC's Andrew Harding was Merlin's pictures with what appeared to be a piece to camera by Jonathan Pearce (again clearly astoned) which I haven't seen before. Again I would have to check but in the original package Pearce is in an edit suite, whereas in the BBC package they use shots of him in the field. There is also an interview with Dr Sean Keogh (I presume by Pearce) in the Ten package. There was also what appeared to be  shots of Mark Malloch Brown; whether that was Reuters/agency pix or also done by Merlin (I'm presuming the former, as that was not astoned; the words appear to be from the Andrew Marr interview)
I'd like to watch it again before coming to firm conclusions - as I say given the hard time I've given broadcasters in the past for not labelling footage correctly, the BBC could hardly have mentioned Merlin more. (I'm not sure where Harding was, but scripting to news agency pictures is common practice) But it's interesting to see how an aid agency can make the lead item of the Ten and the quality of broadcast filming they are now producing. Technology is finally meaning that aid agencies have the ability to do what they have wanted to do for some times.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aid workers and the media - a match made in hell?

So, to the Frontline Club this Tuesday for the latest Dispatches from Disaster Zones events organised by the Red Cross (I'm part of the DfDZ task force). This was entitled as above, and certainly the er spirited nature of the debate at times seemed to be nearer hell than heaven.
Those taking part in the debate were Bill Neely of ITN, Greg Barrow of WFP, Dominic Nutt of SCF (disclaimer:my husband) and Martyn Broughton of AlertNet.
What was interesting was when it wasn't the media who were accused of sensationalising things for once; Broughton pointed out that an "awful triage" exists in NGO press offices just as in newsrooms in considering stories. Marc du Bois of MSF raised the question of whether humanitarian organisations were soemtimes tempted to fund projects that were media friendly (in my view that was certainly the case in the tsunami when very many NGOs flocked towards building houses) and Neely pointed out an AlertNet weekly bulletin sent to journalists talking about stories concerning flesh-eating diseases that, he said had a "Daily Star" ring to them (AlertNet via Megan Rowling rebutted this)
What I found interesting in particular was Broughton's point that UGC could hold aid agencies to account in a way that hadn't been done before. And Barrow's assertion that maybe agencies were too obsessed by the media that it often wasn't "make-or-break" to get in the press/on TV as most projects would still be funded.
Oh and thanks to Bill Neely for mentioning my research! At least I know one person has read it now....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Desperately Seeking Boris
The press pack have found Boris Johnson elusive in these last few weeks as the mayoral election draws closer. Neil Tweedie skewers the Johnson campaign in a piece* that made me cry with laughter

*but sadly that I didnt commission or edit

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Will the revolution be televised?
I've been blogging on the Telegraph website today about how those inside Zimbabwe see the situation there. In fact that explains partly the silence on this blog, I have been writing for the Telegraph's society blog, when not writing about Mme Sarkozy (senior).
However I've also been working hard on my research - am due to give a talk at the Red Cross and also perhaps at a conference in June which is very exciting. I came across Nalaka Gunawardene's new book on reporting disasters. I have spoken and emailed with Nalaka but missed out on seeing him in Sri Lanka last year - our schedules did not collide.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Six of the best minutes of television...
I've seen in a long time; the last six minutes of Ashes to Ashes last Helen Rumbelow says in the Times: pulls off the seemingly impossible: and after 28 years makes Ultravox's Vienna sound meaningful.
Been in Crewe; thoughts on aid agencies to follow after this temporary diversion...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grand Sam, Liverpool and on the Frontline.....

Apologies for radio silence, I have been up north with the boys in blue (talking to them about media rather than helping them with their inquiries I hasten to add...)
Today, I'm back in the pages of the Telegraph writing about Samantha Morton..... and recovering from the Liverpool half marathon last week (1hr 53 according to my stopwatch personal best know you were dying to ask) . But made me think while I was puffing my way around Sefton Parkto the tune of Christina Aguilera’s Fighter (what is it about running that any sophisticated music taste goes?) and it made me think: how does a place’s culture affect the race?
I’ve run races in London, Newcastle and Liverpool now. Newcastle – the Great North Run – is brash and tough, but with a soft centre; locals stand on the side of the road offering drinks and sweets, determined that no one from Middlesborough will not say that they don’t treat their runners right.
In London when I ran the Nike 10k it seemed full of overachieving young Londoners who were ticking off yet another life experience to put on the CV. But then find yourself in the dippy hippy enclave of Victoria Park for the Rainforest Alliance Run and you splash through the mud in a rather disorganised way to save the planet, no chance of an ecological sound T Shirt.
And then there’s Liverpool, which I’ve run two years now. It falls on the same day as Reading ends up rather like the Tranmere Rovers to Reading’s Everton. Last year it was all the things that I love about Liverpool and simultaneously make me want to bang my head on my desk: great atmosphere, great camaraderie and disorganisation - ie the water ran out, there were no free T shirts and residents whinged that they didn’t want runners passing in front of their houses.
This year they’d sorted the water, the T-Shirts and re-routed the 13.1 miles. Still at the start there was a delay. The Century FM DJ told the thousands assembled that they had to wait as someone had parked their car on the course.
Only in Liverpool.
Finally the Frontline Club in New York held this really interesting event - the News Carers last month that I have just discovered. The video should be downloaded in the next week or so. Glad to hear this is now being debated across the Atlantic as well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lecture online

My Nuffield Lecture is now available on the Nuffield website - listed under Working Papers. Or you can see it via my page on the Reuters Institute site....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In other news...

And the latest on user generated content by Neil Thurman and flagged up by Adrian Monck
Bernard Tabaire

A reminder about the fragile nature of press freedom around the world today. The Reuters Institute is reporting that one of last year's fellows Bernard Tabaire, whom I had the good fortune to sit and discuss my research with, has been charged with "defamation" back home in Uganda. There is also more information on John Kelly's blog and Henrik Ornebring's blog has Bernard's account in his own words.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reuters et al....

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has my new biog up there - rather more serious than my blog one you may find. Are these two people related? I think we should be told.

Last week I read something in a newspaper that genuinely taught me something new. The Guardian ran a series on Susan Faludi's new book The Terror Dream on the aftermath of 9/11. In an interview with Decca Aitkenhead and then three extracts, Faludi talked about the ideas that had grown up after 9/11 - the heroic male image, the mom and apple-pie return, the treatment of the 9/11 widows.... intriguing, thought provoking and taught me several new things.

The power of the media to create myths (my own field the tsunami 'orphan' is a particular potent one, when all statistics show that in fact far more children and women died in the wave) is something that we fall victim to, whether serious or less so. I was particularly amused to read somewhere in a newspaper today (brain gone blank, cant remember where) about TV reporters fanning out the night the Queen Mum died in the hope of silent cinemas, clubs etc showing respect for the Nation's Matriarch. When they found the ungrateful populace drinking enjoying themselves as usual it was immediately recast as the Blitz spirit....

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Facing up to Facebook

Having predicted doom and gloom for aid agencies who are turning to social networks (sort of), I was inundated with emails defending Facebook's relevance in 2008 and now comes a report from the Centre for Policy Studies (see disclosure below) that analyses how it will force politicians to be more open. Robert Colvile's theory (headline grabbing stat: the BNP's website has the same market share as all of the other major political parties combined) is that so far politicians in this country have failed to take advantage of the web, which will prove just as revolutionary to politics as TV and radio did in the 20th century.

His argument is that technology transformed politicians from masters of rhetoric (Gladstone, Pitt commanding the Houses of Parliament) to communicators able to project an intimate image on television (Wilson, Thatcher, Blair).

Web 2.0 and its successors means this will change again: politicians won't worry so much about facing down Paxo as being more responsive, more interactive - and more open, due to Google's ability to keep on record previous remarks/policies that may come back to haunt them (although the Sunday Times reports there are already companies working on cleaning up your internet profile; useful for those who may fear Facebook indiscretions could stymie them).

Aid agencies could certainly consider these lessons. How to target appeals in future; will the old style DEC still work? Probably for the tsunami style natural disasters, but not so much for the long term chronic they will be put under pressure even more quickly if they fail to deliver (those guerilla aid workers were keen on blogging). And whether they, like politicians, will be put under pressure from activists - Facebook already has groups criticising Amnesty's abortion policy.

*Disclosure: I sit opposite Robert when I work in the Telegraph and he has been known to buy me cups of tea and vice versa.

Lent update: These are the things I now really want to buy currently and can't: a stopwatch that means I can change tracks on my iPod while running (I didn't even know such a thing existed until a week ago, but now am convinced it will change my life); the DVDs of Cold Feet after reading a James Nesbitt interview in the Observer; tracksuit bottoms with a mobile phone pocket in them (so I can call my brothers to jeer at the end of the Liverpool half marathon in two weeks); a copy of Fateful Choices, by Ten Decisions that Changed the World by Ian Kershaw. I feel this attempt to combat consumerist thoughts isnt really working.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reporter Within Borders

Lent (only buying what you need instead of what you want) is really biting now; I found a piece in the Mail on Sunday about a woman who did this for a year profoundly depressing. And yesterday I took my godchild to buy a birthday present, to Borders to buy her whatever book she wanted.
The problem was this meant I had to go into a bookshop and not buy anything for myself; equivalent to the shopaholic going past Primark blindfolded. D danced round in front of me pushing dustjackets in my face, rather as I imagine a pusher dangles wraps of cocaine in front of an addict. Pig.
I read ALL the children's books to them in the Starbucks cafe. This really is getting desperate if you read Dr Dog*, Little Miss Magic and More Pants just to get round the need/want Lent problem.

*Do not read Dr Dog unless you have a strong stomach. Or are obsessed with intestinal worms.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Woman's in the wrong?

The Guardian reported yesterday that Ashes to Ashes had lost a million viewers for its second episode, and the biggest debate seems to be over the character of DI Alex Drake. Keeley Hawes, as Helen Rumbelow puts it in the Times, the new series has divided viewers as sharply as the miners' strike or the disbanding of Wham! did in the real life 1980s.  
The problem was that in Life on Mars, Sam Tyler was portrayed as a nice bloke with a lovely mum who found himself back in time. His 'niceness' made us like Gene Hunt's complete unpolitical correctness more. The writers with Ashes to Ashes have attempted something more tricky; made Drake a knowing, irritating heroine who has defects as a mother (well I think it's pretty bad form to take your daughter along to a hostage situation) and who - aha - had a dysfunctional relationship with a mother who looks the spit of Edwina Currie (surely the problems Alex faces are all apparent now).
Alex "Hello constructs" Drake I can put up with; what is interesting is that it affects the rest of the cast. The sexism that was apparent in LoM has a nastier side in A2A because Tyler as New Man isn't there to counterpoint it; the writers no doubt justify the snooker ball scene, Rupert Graves shagging on the sofa and stamping Alex "Property of the Met" on the backside as part of Alex's id (in fact they made her explicitly say it) but there is a nastier tone. Ray Carling was always the dodgiest of the three but he has turned into Finbarr Saunders with a perm; Chris Skelton has gone from being sweetly naive about women to a repulsive lech. And Gene Hunt - well - he looks rather lost.
I am hoping this will turn out to be a witty and perceptive take on how women have moved forward since the decade that first saw a woman in power; that the darker tone reflects a deeper deconstruction of the materialist girl decade. But at the moment there aren't as many laughs. And they're still avoiding tackling racism.
Talking of materialist girls however, I am sorely sorely tempted however to buy a T-shirt that says "A woman's place is in the White House". I don't even support Hillary but it made me laugh a lot. The problem is with Lent rolling on til March, and Obama's victories rolling on, if I wait until Easter Sunday it may be far too late.....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What do women want?
Over the last century sociologists, feminists, anthropologists have all tried to answer Freud's frustrated question. However, a quick peek in cardboard boxes at Paradise Rd, Richmond, south London suggest they may have overlooked a particularly interesting repository: the Mills and Boon archive.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RUOK, the death of Facebook and Gene Hunt, plus Lent, not borrowed

First things first: I have just been sent a paper on how people use blogs in times of crisis called RUOK. Havent had time to read and analyse it yet myself but will return to it soon. I'm very grateful so far for those who received my lecture who've taken the time to comment on it. (And no I still haven't worked out how to put the PDF version here but I hope it will end up on the Nuffield website soon).

Second I have been thinking a lot about social networking given so many aid agencies are increasingly turning to Facebook, MySpace and Bebo to promote their messages. I joined Facebook at Nuffield before it was thrown open and did little. Then everyone could join and my summer turned into a mass of poking, superwalling, status updating and adding photos. There have been increasing numbers of negative articles about Facebook recently - particularly this one from the Guardian. The truth is - as Richard Sambrook once mused in his status update - is the tumbleweed now blowing through the 2007 sensation. Is it - dare it be said - turning into Friends Reunited; once equally must have and now reduced to sending emails reminding you of its existence.
Last week I conducted a small unscientific yet rather telling experiment. If 2007 was the year of Facebook, it was also the year of Gene Hunt with the second series of Life on Mars. The sequel - Ashes to Ashes which began last Thursday was much anticipated.
Because of a feature I was helping out on at the Telegraph I got hold of a copy of A2A a day earlier. And in irritating fashion I immediately updated my Facebook status to say I was watching A2A right then. Obviously partly to annoy people; but also to see how many people were still checking Facebook.
The results were as follows: one person emailed me mid Thurs to see if his friend who was playing the clown had a big part.
1. Facebook is over (if so, bad news for the aid agencies who think social networking could be the answer)
2. Gene Hunt is over (bad news for the BBC who have pinned so much on A2A)
3. I have no friends anymore (bad news for me)
I think it may be a combination of all three.

Finally Ash Wednesday last week means it's Lent. This year having read Affluenza by Oliver James (good idea, although the writing irritated me in parts) I decided I would launch my own assault on the consumer society by only buying things I need, not what I want for six weeks to try to stop being so wasteful (and maybe save a bit of cash too). This is obviously slightly subjective but I think it goes as follows:
In brief this means I can buy newspapers (essential) but not magazines. I can't buy new clothes although I can reheel boots. I am only buying lunch, not chocolate and snacks (although who says no good deed goes unpunished; I got sent some chocolates from Save the Children for my talk which I feel I can eat as I didn't buy myself).
The big test is: can I buy books? I was arguing this as a necessity in my life (I feel physically panicky if I travel somewhere without reading material) But then I remembered I have a library card.....

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back for good
I've returned from the essential (ahem) research trip to Wengen full of good intentions, although I woke up feeling down this morning. I was in Oxford yesterday at the RISJ where I took in a seminar on the Canadian press 1890-1930 by Gene Allen. I was struck by one thing he said

"Newspapers do not tell you what to think; they tell you what to think about"

Now up to a point Lord Copper. The example Allen used was that papers tell you not whether Gordon Brown is a good PM or not, but the fact they write so many stories about him that he is someone you ought to be thinking about.
This may be true of the Canadian press in 1930 but I'm not sure that it still stands in the British press of 2008.

My favourite question of the day was from John Kelly (as always) who asked Prof Allen about the demise of the bus plunge story (see this reference to
Meanwhile, Matt (see above) as always provides the best commentary on l'affaire Derek Conway.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We Save the Children - Can YouTube?

Nifty headline courtesy of Save themselves......went in to give my seminar; only one person fell asleep and they were related to me so that must be a triumph (surely) trying to work out how to put up my paper here. Will do so tomorrow. Also proofreading final version of my Nuffield lecture for the printers; so much for a week off...

I bought a hat for skiing on impulse afterwards that I fear makes me look like an expensive east European hooker; I showed D, he doubled up laughing and said "No no not an expensive one."


Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunshine on a rainy day
I am back to Oxford this week to update my research for a paper I'm doing for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; back to thoughts about where aid agencies and journalists are at. I am overexcited at going back - I've booked my room at Nuffield where I am now an associate member (get me!).
Trying not to think about the fact I'm also juggling writing a talk for SCF UK on user generated content. It's nearly done. While doing it I came across this excellent piece on technology and humanitarian aid from The Economist last year and these thoughts from a Sri Lankan journalist on the limits of citizen journalist in Sri Lanka
In the meantime, I am stocking up on oily fish and strolls in the park after investigating vitamin D for the Telegraph....I was much taken by Julie Mytton's suggestion that the reason we don't hear much about this Cinderella vitamin is that there's no money in it as you can make it yourself by going out in the sun..

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Round- up

The US election just gets more and more fascinating....I thought I had misheard the 7am headlines this morning with a Clinton victory - but no there it was.....astonishing.......
Am looking forward to Super Duper Tuesday even more now....

In the meantime however Peter Horrock's latest speech on citizen journalism is thought provoking, given that he says that Twitter provided an early indication on how Iowa was going to go....wonder what happened with Twitter in New Hampshire....

Meanwhile I've been writing on various different things - aid agencies for AlertNet and Jeremy Clarkson for the Telegraph....

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pain and prejudice

Spent Weds night re-reading Sense and Sensibility in order to write this piece. I've always found S&S dark but going through it again I was surprised at how dark I found it. Even when you're laughing at MRs Palmer's silliness, or Marianne's extremes I found it increasingly unsettling. As for Lucy Steele - brrr the woman is a menace.
Still don't get why Elinor goes for Edward Ferrars either.

The US election doesn't disappoint this morning with upsets by Obama and Huckabee triumphing. Huckabee I was not so surprised at because of the evangelical organisation on the ground. But - having watched the Ten last night where Clinton's supporters seemed so organised - all those Harvard PhDs clearing snow - I was surprised she's ended up in third place. Mind you I wonder how all those Harvardites went down there...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Caucus countdown

I am excited beyond belief by the kick off tomorrow deciding who will be Democratic and Republican candidates. One I still am not sure who are going to emerge the victors. Two the whole Democrat approach to caucuses is just so random. The country that leads the world in democracy can as the Times pointed yesterday end up with a different candidate if someone walks into a kitchen by mistake.
Sort of.
I like this joke (also from the Times). How many Republican frontrunners does it take to change a lightbulb? Two - one to change the bulb and another - Mitt Romney - to attack his record.
Changing times?

Just to note that on the BBC Breakfast 8am bulletin I noticed this morning that the BBC credited the Red Cross for its footage from Kenya. I note that it was also done with the Serbian story of abuses of the disabled before Christmas - where the script also was careful to state that the BBC could not verify the charity's word. So it seems there is a sea change in the BBC at least about more credit of NGO footage compared with the past. (Interesting there is now no link to this story on the BBC site...)

By the way if my Dec 31 post sounded terribly smug I apologise; I was feeling upbeat but that can come across as annoying