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December 2012
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March 2013

50 blogs by journalists, for journalists

Now, here’s a really pleasant surprise which really made my day on Thursday: This blog is included on’s terrific list of 50 blogs by journalists, for journalists.

The news reached me when I was at the mercy of a very angry sinus infection, after having covered a ministerial visit to a building site on a freezing Monday afternoon, and I wasn’t even aware of the list being put together – so it was an extra pleasant surprise. 

It must be said though, that this blog never did have journalists as its specific target group.

It just sort of ended up rather quickly as blog on information, social media, traditional media, media acquisitions, journalism and all those sort of things.

Over the years it has very much shaped my career and work, it was almost like this blog took on a life on its own –  by the way it revealed me to be a media nerd, shaped my public persona and created all sorts of wonderful job offers and career avenues for me.

That is a major reason why these days I constantly regret not finding time to blog more here – I write for three different blogs, for a quite a while I was even paid to write a forth one for Norway’s most read news site, and at the moment I’m involved with quite a few book projects next to a very rewarding, full-time job.

Incidentally, one such project is a history of Norwegian blogging, an anthology, which is due to be published in March - so I've found myself reflecting a lot on my personal blogging history recently (I first got acquainted with blogs when I was doing work experience for a print newspaper close to Fleet Street in 2002, and it's so ironic to look back and realise that blogs ended up being much more helpful for my media career than that stint of work experience. I certainly had no idea it would turn out like this at the time).

These days though, I must admit I do more mental blogging than actual blogging. I have all these blog posts almost fully written up in my mind – I just need to find the time to actually sit down and do the writing. I keep promising myself I will do. In the meantime, it seems I’ve at least seen the end of that sinus infection. That’s a start, I guess.

HMV, Blockbuster, Jessops & disintermediation anno 2013

A post about the recent bankruptcies of high street chains HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops - brands which holds a lot of memories with me - made me think back to a a favourite video which bears revisiting.

"Where-ever there is mediation there will be disruption. This is not just the lesson of an economic downturn - it is the structural reality of the networked world - of an Open Economy... The web disintermediates - and retail is mediation," wrote David Cushman following the recent collapse of these household names.

That post, or maybe it was HMV's collapse, I don't quite remember, reminded me of the excellent "Day of the Longtail", which I think I came across in 2006 or thereabouts via Adriana. Back then it was a feeling that this kind of disitermediation was imminent, but it has been a slow, drawn-out process which has far from come to it's end. In either case, the video is worth revisiting:


Crowdsourced media accountability - in 20012, 2013 and beyond

What if readers could just add a plugin to their browsers and instantly correct factual or grammatical errors on various news sites? Would they bother? Would news sites ever welcome such an innovation and use it to correct their content? Well, it does exist....

I know at least one former editor of mine whom I’d suspect would relish a tool like this, which would effectively enable him to put a grid over a news site and suggest corrections for any errors, grammatical or factual, in red print – almost like correcting paper pages with a red pen.

I was reminded of this innovation when I attended the Online News Association’s annual conference in San Francisco in September 20012, and media analyst Amy Webb talked about the top ten tech trends for 2012 (I’ve blogged about this talk here, albeit in Norwegian).

The first trend she singled out was #Verification, predicting the emergence on tools and systems bent on verifying content as a result of consumers are getting more sceptical. She even asked, rhetorically: ”What if there was a way to grade the trustworthiness of journalists?”

Well, this is not quite a tool to grade trustworthiness, but it is a tool its masterminds, Tobias Reitz and Kersten A. Riechers, dub a tool to facilitate crowdsourced media accountability.

They believe errors these days spread massively and quickly, like an electronic wildfire, in part due to social media such as Twitter & Facebook, and due to cost cutting in the newsrooms and the demand to do more with less, in addition to the emphasis on speed, they feel we have reason to believe errors happen more and more frequently.

So they invented this tool, called ”Corrigo”, allowing user annotation of news articles, based on their diploma thesis in online journalism.

Corrigo is browser plugin, and people do have to download it, but it helps you flag and correct factual errors, missing links and types in online news articles. With the plugin you can highlight sentences that contain errors. As a publisher you can click on the yellow line on the top of the site to see if there’s anything the Corrigo community wants to tell you.

Corrigo's vision is to fight haste and paste, and if you wonder if parts of an article is copied from a press release, you can check that straight away.

Now, I must admit I got acquainted with Corrigo while listening to Tobias and Kersten talk about it when attending a small media bloggers conference in Bristol as far back as August. So I don’t know if its inventors have forged any partnerships with media organisations since then.

Unfortunately, I picked up a bad strep infection on the way home form Bristol, which put me in bed for two weeks, and then work and life’s been moving at such a frantic pace since I got well that I’ve had no time to blog about it until now.

But it’s a fascinating concept and I’m curious to learn how it would work for a online media organisation and what kind of challenges they might face using it.

I do know, and did mention to Jude Townend, who was there blogging from the conference, that Schibsted-owned VG, a former client, has implemented its own kind of ”crowdsourced media accountability” measure - though very different from Corrigo.

What VG has done is to advertise for people who would serve voluntarily as proofreaders for its news site, which is Norway’s most read. From those who replied to that call they’ve chosen 100 proofreaders, many of them retired teachers, who voluntarily proofread’s articles.

The proofreading they do is not visible to the readers, but as a journalist you will get an email, or more, from the proofreaders if there are any grammatical errors in your articles. And the number of errors corrected in various journalists’ articles will show up in VG’s internal statistics – as a journalist those stats will enable you to see how many people read your article(s) that day (unique visitors), how many errors were corrected, how many likes it or they received on Facebook etc.

Which is a different way of doing things altogether than what Corrigo offers, but still an interesting and very efficient one. In either case, it’s really interesting to see innovations like these come about and how they work.

Another verification tool for a very different purpose that Amy Webb mentioned in her before mentioned talk in San Francisco, was the Super PAC app – which works much like Shazam, just that it’s for political ads and not for music. The user holds the phone up to a political ad while it's playing to collect information about the ad's funding and other tidbits. That sounds useful, though I’m curious as to how well such an app can work.

In either case, limiting tech trends to such and such a year is rarely an accurate practice – one or more tends tend to be big one year, but more often than not these trends will tend to stretch over many years. And what many experts single out as a trend one year, very often turns into something more like a seed which rather gradually blossom into full bloom, often stretching over many years – sometimes even a decade or more.

So I for one am very much looking forward to see more of these innovations in verification- and crowdsourced verification, correction and accountability tools in 2013 and beyond as well...

A bit more on Corrigo from the founders:

Investigative journalism in the digital age

It’s good to see journalism school books and primers finally being updated to reflect the new challenges and opportunities of our age.

A good example of this is a book which arrived in my mail box just before Christmas:


Now, it must be said that it arrived in my mail box because I provided some input on the chapter on social media a few years back,  and one of its editors is a former editor of mine.

Still, the book has gone through many revisions since I read that one chapter on social media, and the result looks very promising. I’ve yet to find time to actually read the book, but skimming through some of the content on social media and new digital tools it looks like it offers a very comprehensive and up-to-date guide.  

I’m especially looking forward to reading Rune Ytreberg’s chapter on the new digital tools of the trade properly. Ytreberg is also due to give a talk on this for The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA), the organisation I co-founded, used to run and am a still a board member of, towards the end of this month.

From skimming through it I see that one of the plethora of sources he credits is’s Colin Meek who NONA brought over from Scotland to Oslo talk about advanced online research techniques in April 2010.

Incidentally that was the previously mentioned, and much covered, trip where Meek almost got stranded in Oslo due to the ash cloud crisis. Only VG’s brilliant editorial innovation, the Hitchhiker’s central, and me convincing a friend to drive stranded travellers, including Meek, from Oslo to Dover (and then back again with another load of stranded travellers) prevented that.

In either case, it’s great to see some of NONA’s work bear fruit in this way as in the book, and hopefully inspiring both better teaching and better practice when it comes to utilising today’s digital tools as efficiently as possible to create good, and perhaps even innovative, investigative journalism both in terms of uncovering worthwhile stories and connections, and finding new ways to convey these stories.