Health websites

crowd

Guild of Health Writers

Freelance health journalists should have their own WordPress websites that include photos, images, pictures, audio and video alongside their writing, the Guild of Health Writers heard.

WordPress is a simple-to-use content management system (CMS). It enables freelances to run their own professional-looking website without paying for expensive web design and maintenance. It can costs less than £35 a year. Continue reading

Odd champions

Champagne Mumm

I’ll drink to that (Flickr: e_calamar)

Here’s a post-Leveson quote: “Not all journalists are listening in on our telephone conversations or stalking the celebrities that sell their newspapers. Should we actually be looking more closely at ourselves?

Why do we care what Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant are up to? And do we really want our politicians to control the only people who are able to hold them to account? What will be next in line to face regulation? Twitter? Blogs? Democracy?”

And so it goes on in a more positive light: Continue reading

Citizen journalist

Men-of-Harlech

Tweet to Aggers and reply

Proper journalists such as me are supposed to hate citizen journalists. In fact, we’re supposed to call them “witness contributors” or something else suitably PC, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Well I don’t. I like citizen journalists. I like a lot of user-generated content.

I like the fact that communities get involved, tell us stuff, send in reports and photos and now take video and audio and comment. It adds loads and takes away nothing. I too am a citizen journalist – last week for BBC Radio’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew and for Test Match Special. Continue reading

Marching orders

Starbucks windows smashed with anarchy A grafittiReporting Saturday’s TUC March for the Alternative and UKUncut’s protests against tax dodgers proved the limits of technology. There may be power in a union but if there’re no power points to plug in laptops and mobiles, nobody will know about it.

Broadband access too is key. We posted our first report and video from Starbucks in Villiers Street, near the Embankment. Trying to upload video in Hyde Park via a Vodafone dongle proved fruitless so, with Starbucks on Piccaddilly smashed up, we had to march for the alternative. Café Nero had broadband but no power sockets. I filed with 4% Macbook battery life left. Continue reading

New era dawns

Insurance Times websiteToday is the first day for nearly two years that I have not had to get up at 6am to write early morning web news for Insurance Times. I woke up at 6 anyway (but I lay there until 6.20). My ambition is to be woken with a cup of tea in bed at 7am. For now at least, that is just a dream.

Since 10 November 2008 I have missed six working days in 100 weeks – once in hospital after my knee operation and one week off travelling this year. I have written about 3,000 stories, sometimes writing nine a day. Insurance Times paid about £12.50 per story.

I have worked from holiday homes and hotels. I have stayed in B&B’s with broadband purely to be able me to fulfil my contract. I have even worked from my laptop and dongle on campsites.

Ullapool campsite

Supermarket giant Tesco announced to the stock market at 7am in September last year that Fortis (now Ageas) was to be its insurance provider.

I called Fortis and got a quote for my story while sitting outside my tent just metres from the sea at Ullapool in Scotland on the xrv.org.uk national meet motorcycling weekend. Fortis told me that morning that Insurance Times was the first to run the story, with it live before 8am.

A lot of what I wrote was news from that morning’s papers and other sources – often one or two pars and pointers to where readers could get the story. But I had plenty of other exclusives too, either given to me because my contacts knew I was up at that time or through my industry knowledge.

New Year honours

When Simon Bolam was given an MBE for services to the Insurance Industry in the New Year honours 2008 even the Scottish papers missed him because they did not know who he was. I remembered him as the former leader of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).

I knew the name of the broker he ran and tracked him down, first speaking to his daughter, who by then ran the firm, and eventually – at about 9am – Bolam himself.

I was in the Lake District, booted and waterproofed, about to leave for a hike, when he called and I added his quote to my story. The rival Post Magazine ran that story six days later when they got back to work.

In-house reporters

Insurance Times has taken the work in-house. Two new reporters will take turns to get up early and get into the office to start work at 6am. I have worked for Insurance Times for so long – I am a former editor – I was trusted with remote access. One will be getting up at 4am to travel in.

The early morning news made a huge different to the site’s traffic. When CEO’s get in at 8am, if the site is the same as it was the night before they won’t look again. If a CEO tells the next level of management to look at a story, traffic really picks up. That is what happened.

I think I offered great value for money. I did a good job. I wrote more stories than I was asked to write and more than most thought possible – I had to process them all to the website, including links, photos and categories, not just write the words.

I think I gave Insurance Times more as a freelance than they will get from staff.

Links (new windows)

PRs need help

PR people need help. They appear to have less understanding of how journalists work than ever before. They don’t appreciate deadlines, the speed journalists work at and the hours journalists now work on 24-hour internet media.

I have had a couple of weeks of dire experience with PRs. These include:

Slow, non-answers | Embargos | Contacts | Press registration Continue reading

Embargo farrago

Axa websitePublic relations (PR) officers from insurer AXA gave the trade press and the national press different embargoes for the same story on Friday.

Embargoed is a small town in Wales, my old ex-national newspaper editor used to say, emphasising the “ed” sound at the end of the word. It looks like AXA’s PR people give the embargo about as much respect.

Continue reading

Sunday PR roast

Accountants Ernst & Young issued a press release today (Sunday) but the named PR, Vicky Conybeer, did not have access to a photo of those quoted in the release because she was not in the office.

Why bother releasing it on Sunday or being the named PR if you can’t help working hacks? Continue reading

Council tax post

I finally got the figures I needed – though I had to find some via a link on Local Government Chronicle’s website to the Communities department’s site (new window) that the PR had not found.

Interesting that the chief PR seems to think the response “but will be Monday before I can come back to you” would be OK for a website that runs seven days a week.

When he gets back in on Monday he’ll find several more emails from me and that I have found the missing figure on his own website.

Related post

Poor Govt. Pr

Links (new windows)

Taking the rise out of council tax (Daily Finance)

Tweeting twits

Tweets from #governmentnews are so wrong the person tweeting should be taken out and shot. Journalists should avoid this site because of its inaccurate and misleading information.

Yesterday, 17 January, it tweeted that new donation and funding figures for political parties had been published. This was just baloney. Continue reading