Bashir Abdullahi's Blog

Ten things every journalist should know in 2010

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Update on the previous article by John Thompson, founder, owner and publisher of Have a pleasant reading.

This is an update on a post I wrote at the beginning of last year – Ten things every journalist should know in 2009. I still stand by all those points I made then so consider the following 10 to be an addendum.

1. How to monitor Twitter and other social media networks for breaking news or general conversations in your subject area using tools such as TweetDeck. Understand and use hashtags.

2. You are in control. Don’t become a slave to technology, make it your slave instead. You will need to develop strategies to cope with information overload – filter, filter, filter!

3. You are a curator. Like it or not, part of your role will eventually be to aggregate content (but not indiscriminately). You will need to gather, interpret and archive material from around the web using tools like Publish2, Delicious and StumbleUpon. As Publish2 puts it: “Help your readers get news from social media. More signal. Less noise.”

4. Your beat will be online and you will be the community builder. Creating communities and maintaining their attention will increasingly be down to the efforts of individual journalists; you may no longer be able to rely on your employer’s brand to attract reader loyalty in a fickle and rapidly changing online world (see 7).

5. Core journalistic skills are still crucial. You can acquire as many multimedia and programming skills as you want, but if you are unable to tell a story in an accurate and compelling way, no one will want to consume your content.

6. Journalism needs a business model. If you don’t understand business, especially the business you work for, then it’s time to wake up. The reality for most journalists is that they can no longer exist in a vacuum, as if what they do in their profession is somehow disconnected from the commercial enterprise that pays their wages (one side effect of journalists’ attempts to ‘professionalise’ themselves, according to Robert G Picard). That does not mean compromising journalistic integrity, or turning into solo entrepreneurs; rather it means gaining an understanding of the business they are in and playing a part in moving it forward.

As former Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves said in his excellent speech to Warwick Business School last year: “You cannot be an editor in today’s media environment without also being a businessman. It might say editor on my business card, but really, I am in the business of making news profitable and budgets, targets and performance are as important to me as words and newsprint.”

OK, you may not be an editor yet but that is no excuse, and it is probably easier to innovate while you are still working on the coalface without managerial responsibilities. Plus, in some cases, your editor may be part of the problem.

7. You are your own brand – brand yourself online! I’m not talking bylines here – you need to build yourself an online persona, one that earns you a reputation of trustworthiness and one that allows you to build fruitful relationships with your readers and contacts. You can no longer necessarily rely on having a good reputation by proxy of association with your employer’s brand. And your reputation is no longer fleeting, as good as your last big story – there is an entire archive of your content building online that anyone can potentially access.

Obvious ways to do this: Twitter, Facebook, personal blogging, but you can also build a reputation by sharing what you are reading online using social bookmarking sites like Publish2 and delicious (see 3).

8. You need to collaborate! Mashable suggests seven ways news organisations could become more collaborative outside of their own organisations, but this could also mean working with other journalists in your own organisation on, for example, multimedia projects as MultimediaShooter suggests or hook up with other journalists from other publications as Adam Westbrook suggests to learn and share new ideas.

9. Stories do not have to end once they are published online. Don’t be afraid to revise and evolve a story or feature published online, but do it transparently – show the revisions. And don’t bury mistakes; the pressure to publish quickly can lead to mistakes but if you admit them honestly and openly you can only gain the respect of your readers.

10. Technology is unavoidable, but it is nothing to fear and anyone of any age can master the basics. If you do nothing else, set up a WordPress blog and experiment with different templates and plugins – I promise you will be amazed at what you can achieve and what you can learn in the process.


Written by danmakaranta

January 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm

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Ten things every journalist should know in 2009

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The article below was posted on website by its founder and owner John Thompson. I hope it will interest you. Have a pleasant reading:

1. How to use Twitter to build communities, cover your beat, instigate and engage in conversations.

2. How to use RSS feeds to gather news and manage them using filtering techniques (basic or advanced).

3. That there is a difference between link journalism and ‘cut and paste’ journalism (aka plagiarism).

4. That your readers are smarter than you think. In fact, many are smarter than you – they know more than you do.

5. That churnalism is much easier to spot online. If you do this regularly, your readers are already on to you – merely re-writing press releases without bringing anything to the table no longer cuts it.

6. Google is your friend. But if you are not using advanced search techniques, you really have no idea what it is capable of.

7. You do not have to own, or even host, the technology to innovate in journalism and engage your readers. There is a plethora of free or cheap tools available online, so there is no excuse for not experimenting with them.

8. Multimedia for multimedia’s sake rarely works, and is often embarrassing. If you are going to do it, either do it well enough so it works as a standalone item or do it to complement your written coverage – for example, add a link to the full sound file of your interview with someone in your article, or a link to the video of someone’s entire speech at an event. The latter will enhance the transparency of your journalism too.Great tips and resources here and some useful tips on doing video on a budget.

9. How to write search engine friendly journalism. Old school thinking about headline writing, story structure etc no longer applies online and there is also more to learn about tagging, linking and categorisation. Sub-editors (if you still have them), editors and reporters all need to know how to do this stuff.

10. Learn more about privacy. You can find a lot of information about people online, especially via social networking sites, but think carefully about the consequences. And bear in mind that it cuts both ways, if you do not do it carefully,your online research could compromise your sources.

Written by danmakaranta

January 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

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Stupid question begot stupid answer

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Written by danmakaranta

January 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

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Wanna take to sea?

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For the first time I attended an International boat show at the Excel centre London.

Organised by the Tullett Prebon, the show featured power and sail boats, dinghies, engines, electronics, deck equipment, charter holidays and sailing courses.

I was actually on board some of them.

What fascinated me most was the predator 108 special edition. It was one of the major boats launched at the occasion.

According to the boat company Sunseeker, it was built in a stunning custom metalic gold colour and boasts a sports flybridge deck with helm position, a highly costomised aft cockpit layout with wicker effect and built in seating and wetbar area, including a spacious foredeck with spa tub and built in sunlonger.

In short predator 108 is a ‘little paradise’ on its own.

The performance by the band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood at the launch of the Predator 108 was equally fascinating.

Although there were boats and other deck equipments that could be purchased with few thousands of pounds, I left the show with the believe that it was organised for the high and mighty in the society with extra pounds stashed away in the banks.

Let me leave you with some of the pictures I took, they may inspire you to take to sea.

One of the attractions at the show

More inside the Excel centre

Metre Yatch on display

Written by danmakaranta

January 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

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Football hooliganism!

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Football is supposed to be a game full of fun and an avenue or platform to achieve more unity and harmony among different groups, clubs, nations and countries.

However, the issue of clashes before during and after football matches seem to be gradually becoming a global phenomenon and threatening to take away the fun from the game.

A simple search in the Internet on football clashes presents tons of incidences. Below is a list of some:

You can also watch some clips of violence in football from you tube:

So what do you think should be done to stop football hooliganism and restore the glory of the ‘rounded leather’ game?

Written by danmakaranta

January 10, 2010 at 4:13 am

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Can women make good media managers?

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It is an established fact that women are under-represented in the higher ranks of journalism and even at lower ranks.

Carolyn Kury de Castillo, a reporter for CICT-TV (Global TV in Calgary). (Photo)Robert Thivierge Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

They are not having equal place with men in the media when it comes to representation as News makers, experts or even commentators.

If at all they appear in the media reports or programmes, then there is high probability that they will be portrayed in a lowly image as celebrities or victims of an abuse.

Equally, practicing female journalist tend to be ‘restricted’ to covering issues that have to do with their female folks, e.g fashion, society issues, hardly do you see women equally

But the point of contention is identifying the real cause of this under-representation and whether it is justified.


So what are the factors militating against women in getting to peak position in journalism profession?

Although there is an improvement in the number of women joining the journalism profession across the globe in recent years with a number of them holding senior positions in print and broadcast media, there is an indication that there is still imbalance in senior decision-making and policy-making position between women and men in the media profession.

Different reasons are given for the problem but I summarised them in some bullet points below:

  • Management’s perception that women’s productivity decreases when they take on reproductive roles. In some countries, women are expected to play their traditional roles as wives and mothers and not work the hours that come with working in the media. Such pressure is also exerted on young women who are not encouraged to accept work challenges such as travelling to take up foreign assignments. The main objection to women taking up journalism as a profession in some countries is the late hours working involved in journalism and the fact that the job necessarily involves a lot of interaction with men!
  • Some employers in media organizations/media enterprises are reluctant to provide benefits such as extended maternity leave and flexible time arrangements. This sometimes forces women to seek employment elsewhere where such benefits could be provided.
  • Pigeonholing of women into covering only those “soft” beats that do not really count for the male decision-makers during promotion time.
  • Lack of women role models or mentors.
  • Sexual harassment in the work place.
  • Lack of confidence on the part of some women especially in taking on leadership positions in media organizations/media enterprises.
  • Ownership of numerous media organizations by men.
  • Women’s lack of funds to invest in media businesses.

The culture in television industry of getting rid of older women and hiring younger looking ladies as casters also contributes to the imbalances between men and women when it comes to holding position of authority in media organizations.

Capt. Ken Barrett, head of the Navy Diversity Directorate, speaks with Channel 8 News anchor Beverly Kirk. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The BBC recently came under heavy criticism from UK equality minister Harriet Harman on this.

Ms Harman told the BBC’s World This Weekend female newsreaders had to be 10 years younger than male equivalents.

She told the BBC that: “It’s essentially an old-fashioned attitude that thinks you can’t value the experience and wisdom of an older woman.”


Women should be given equal opportunity to make contribution at different cadre of the profession. They have some experiences acquired from difficulties they face in life that will help in shaping and enriching the impact they will make if they become decision makers in the media

Women journalists and women groups should be in the vanguard of championing their course and speak out against the perceived marginalization in appointments to higher-ranking positions in journalism.

So I believe having more women in the position of authority can and will reshape the way women are portrayed in the media.

Written by danmakaranta

January 9, 2010 at 6:11 am

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…As Jonathan Ross leaves the BBC

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The critics of the BBC’s highest paid presenter Jonathan Ross may be jubilating now as the ‘star’ who have been with the corporation for 13 years finally announced that he is leaving the corporation.

Ross whose annual pay is reported to be £6 million said in a statement today that he have had a wonderful time at the BBC and is not wishing to renegotiate his contract.

Many UK newspapers and broadcast media have been criticising or have offered platforms for critics of the BBC for splashing £6 million out of the license fee on a single star, while license fee payers face tough economic conditions.

Despite the fact that, he still has six months left before the expiration of his contracts, speculations have been on about his possible replacement.

Whoever is ‘lucky’ to get the slot should expect attention from lovers and critics of the BBC and the star about his ‘fat’ salary. 

Will he/she be as ‘good’ as Ross or even better; in that case critics of the corporation will be vindicated for crying wolf about his annual home take.

If he/she turns out to be less productive and ‘entertaining’ as Ross, then the corporation will hold its shoulders high to prove that it is justified in curving out license fee to the tune of £6 million to pay a single star. 

So let’s wait and see how it will all play out.

Written by danmakaranta

January 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

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