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A journalist who is definitely on the cluetrain 

Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Independent, has a wonderful rant about one-on-one interviews and how useless they are. Worth quoting at length:

  I think that one-on-one interviews are dreary, unless I’ve set them up (which I’ll do because I want some info from a contact). If the company sets it up, they usually have A Message they want to Tell Me. It’s face time with suits, and the PR people love it because it’s the sort of thing they can put in their billing to the client (“achieved 60 minutes exclusive with technology editor of national newspaper”). I hate it because there’s barely ever a story. Just a Corporate Message.
  Guess what? I don’t want to hear that Message. I’d rather you bought an ad in the paper and we met for a coffee and talked sense. More than that, I don’t see why people are put through one-on-ones, which take huge amounts of time, are boring for the client answering the same questions, don’t generate interesting stories, and always leave me thinking that I could have spent the time better surfing and emailing folk and generally interacting rather than being Told A Message.
  Yet companies and PRs that adore one-on-ones run a mile if you suggest a round table of hacks. Why? It’s more efficient: you get six people around a table and that’s six hours’ worth of interviews done in one hour. It’s more interesting: journalists know more as a group than individually, so can follow stories up. And if one writer has to drop out (say because their newsdesk wants them to do a story) it doesn’t mess up your schedule. Quicker, better, cheaper. Choose all three.

100 ways to make money 

Just as I generally disagree with Boris Johnson, I went off Tom Peters as a management thinker some time ago. But I have to admit his weblog makes for good reading. He’s just started a series entitled 100 ways to help you succeed/make money: his promise is that four days a week for 25 weeks he’ll provide one tip.

The Boris Johnson weblog 

I don’t agree with much of his politics, but if he does manage to maintain his blog in the gaps between his several other jobs, the Boris Johnson (MP and editor of The Spectator) weblog should be lots of fun. Here’s his first real entry:

  Hi folks, this is Boris Johnson here. Welcome to my blogsite, where I hope to be blogging for some time to come. You may ask yourself why on earth I am filling the electronic ether with yet more of my stuff, given that I can already be discovered in the pages of the Henley Standard, Daily Telegraph, Spectator etc.
  It is a damn good question.
  The answer is that very persuasive man called Tim has recently been to my office in the Commons. He told he that blogging is the future. He spoke of the online community, and its rapid expansion. He said that newspapers were outmoded.
  He spoke of a new kind of politics. He waved his hands and rolled his eyes. So I have acceded to his advice, and begun to blog.
  Tim tells me that the idea is that I fall out of bed every morning, blazing with inspiration, and thunder out 3000 words on the issue of the hour, so generating a pandemic internet controversy. I am not sure, frankly, that I will manage that. But I hope that there will be some other bloggers out there who may feel moved to give me some advice – not least on the funding of the Arts, to which I am now devoting my meditations.

Eleven rules for reading newspapers  

From the excerpts I’ve read in The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, Andrew Marr’s new book, My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, will be a very good read. Today, The Guardian provides Marr’s tips for newspaper readers. A very perceptive list by the BBC’s political editor and former editor of The Independent.

Here are his 11 rules, but it’s well worth reading the full analysis behind each of his points:

  1. Know what you’re buying
  2. Follow the names
  3. Register bias
  4. Read the second paragraph; and look for quote marks
  5. If the headline asks a question, try answering “no”
  6. Read small stories and attend to page two
  7. Suspect “research”
  8. Check the calendar
  9. Suspect financial superlatives
  10. Remember that news is cruel
  11. Finally, believe nothing you read about newspaper sales — nothing

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