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August 2008
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Food for thought: readers more cynical about online journalism, but not as much as online journalists

"Readers are more critical to online journalism today than three years ago. The only ones who are even more critical to online journalism are the journalists themselves," media researcher Arne Krumsvik talking about a survey he'll be presenting at a journalism conference this Saturday.

The survey is based on interviews with readers, journalists and editors of 20 online newspapers in Western Norway, conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2008. This summer, 2,536 of the papers' readers, and the journalists who produce them, were interviewed.

Eirik Solheim on NRK Beta, media transparency and how to engage readers in the new media reality

Here's your chance to hear Eirik Solheim, one of the new media gurus at The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), talk about NRKs blogging efforts, media transparency and how to engage readers in the new media reality.

I might be promising a bit too much here as this is a very informal session I'm organising for tomorrow, but I know I have many editors, journalists, bloggers and people who are more than averagely interested in the future of media reading this blog, so I thought those of you who are based in Oslo or nearby might find this interesting (which admittedly is a small portion of you, but still...).

I'm in the process of setting up a forum for Journalisten on online journalism: a place to discuss, be inspired, argue and exchange experiences about this ever shifting, fast evolving frontier of journalism, and, incidentally, our first meeting this autumn will be tomorrow at 5pm. It will feature a short introduction by Eirik, before we open the floor for questions and debate. It's short notice, I know, but if you'd like to come along tomorrow and/or want to be informed about our future events, drop me an email...

Interior minister orders two years detention for Malaysian blogger

Blogger and editor Raja Petra “RPK” Kamarudin is to be held in detention for two years under the country's draconian Internal security act (ISA). Petra, 58, has been held in Kuala Lumpur since 12 September under article 73 of the same law. He is charged with sewing confusion within the people, attacking Islam’s sacred status and is considered a threat to public order...

One of the more disturbing stories in my newsreader today. Reporters without borders has more on the story, including an appeal by Kamarudin's wife.

Update 7/10: Yesterday, Kamarudin was put on trial for sedition after writing an article about the implication of leaders of the ruling party in the 2006 murder of a young Mongolian woman.

Useful pointers on Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) and other concluding notes from GIJC Lillehammer

Despite the apparant lack of bloggers and twitterers hammering away on their keyboards to communicate their experiences live from the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) at Lillehammer this month, it is still possible to find some useful notes and reports from the event online;-)

The first point of stop for those of you who whished they were there; or were there but wished their notes were more thorough or they could have attended more of the parallel sessions at the six-track conference, is the organisers' handout library: here you'll find the lecturers' notes for a great number of the talks.

As I wrote over at, the Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) contingent was out in force at the conference, and in addition to the CAR notes in the handout library, you can find ProPublica's director of CAR, Jennifer LaFleur's, introduction to CAR here.

By far the most thorough notes I've come across from the conference, are those of the European Journalism Centre, which I found via Brussel-based Norwegian freelancer Bente Kalsnes, who's also got some good notes, with additional pointers, on CAR and the ABC of investigative reporting.

Freemediasrilanka has the full story on the importance of Sri Lankan journalist Sonali Samarasinghe’s seminal work on corruption and abuse of power, "Gangsterism" winning the Global Shining Light Award, and Nathaniel Heller shares a few words on the joy of meeting so many global integrity experts in the same place. You can also read about another conference lecture, Asra Nomani, and her quest to find the terrorists who murdered her former colleague, Wall Street Journalist David Pearl (but beware the sponsored links).

Finally, to get a flavour of the atmosphere of the conference, check out my more informal pictures of the entertainment and prize ceremonies. Also, if you're fluent in Scandinavian languages, you'll find most of's coverage by the aid of Google over at our new Drupal-platform (still in beta), or try's article search for their reports.

The investigative journalist band from the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) 2008


David Kaplan, the director for International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on harmonica during the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) 2008 at Lillehammer, Norway, last week. I've uploaded all my more informal pictures from the event to's Flick'r account (which means all the titles and descriptions are in Norwegian). Full slideshow here.

Update 22/9-08, 18:12: for more commentary on the musical talents of investigative journalists, check out Judith Townend's post over at

The problem with Scandinavian hotels

Sweden is by far the worst: I've yet to encounter a hotel there with tea- and coffee making facilities and ironing gear in the hotel room - and I've stayed in quite a few hotels there. Norway is pretty bad on this too, and while it's been too long since I've stayed in a Danish hotel to make any half-valid conclusions, I've had similar problems there in the nineties.

So what do you do when you, as me, get up in the wee hours to get out a few stories before the day starts and there's no way to feed your caffeine addiction, how do you wake yourself up enough to be productive - without having to run around town at 5am to find a place with coffee, electricity and wi-fi? 

Even the conference hotel I stayed at this weekend: no coffee, no ironing board, only a trouser presser (not very useful). Luckily a waitress in the hotel's restaurant saved me by providing me with this (see picture), but I can't for the life of me figure out why hotels in Scandinavia want to make it so hard for the business traveller. Incidentally, I believe Norwegians are one of the most coffee-drinking nationalities in the world, but I can't quite remember where I saw that survey... (as it happened, I wrote this post after only one cup of coffee, hence survey became sturvey etc - corrected 18:30)

GIJC08Lillehammer 014

Circulation figures confirm the future is online, it's local and it's in the long tail - chapter II

Those of you who've read this blog for a while might remember the main part of this headline from last year. This weekend, financial daily Dagen's Naeringsliv (DN) ran a story on how the trend I described then, was pretty much repeated for the first half of 2008.

The article said the circulation figures for Norways's biggest newspapers were continuing to fall, led by the country's two biggest tabloids - causing some of these paper's execs to say they'd stopped hoping for the trend to turn - while local newspapers recorded slightly improved circulation figures (a trend we've seen for many years now) and niche publications like DN were bucking the downwards trend spectacularly.

The only catch here is that I forgot my edition of DN in Oslo yesterday, and the article is not available online other than as a Pdf behind a pay wall. I could perhaps access it there if I had patience to wait for it to load with my slow connection here on the road, but I find it kind of useless to link to something that's so difficult to access in the first place.

I was half expecting one of the country's media sites to have published something on this article today, as they often do - just to give their readers the full overview of what's happening in the media world - but no such luck. Normally, they dutifully copy-paste and/or rewrite a paragraph or two, a grateful task often rewarded with the online traffic DN has renounced by filling its online media section with wire stories. This complete separation between print and online, however, is often referred to by DN's management as a reason why the print paper is bucking the downwards trend both qua circulation and profits.

Too me, as a blogger, it means they've cut themselves off from the world. I like the paper, it's one of my favourite weekend reads - but I never blog about the DN stories I like (or dislike) because of the Pdf/paywall thing.

Equally, on the occasions I've been commissioned to write for them, I've found the gap between the space and time in which they move, where an op-ed can be published weeks after it's submitted and still be considered newsworthy, and the online world in which I move, where the same analysis can be ancient news in the space of a day, exasperating. I do, as I said, like this remarkably well-staffed paper, though I must admit I'm sometimes baffled by the news judgements this protected print environment throws up - but I guess print just has a different sell-by-date.

As a media journalist, I even subscribe to the RSS-feed of DN's media section, but the wire stories there, when they are media stories and not just mistagged stories from other sections of the news site, won't help me much with the story on circulation figures, which is excusive to print and Pdf. And since I've got my head buried in deadlines, and only a slow and fragile internet connection to assist me, I'll be so lazy as to leave the story there. It's a success story for DN of course, as I can imagine the Scandinavians among you will get on the phone for one of those Pdf subscriptions and the full circulation story first thing tomorrow...    


How web 2.0 creates new opportunities for journalists

I came across two posts today that brilliantly spell out how web 2.0 is a blessing for journalists


Of course, those of you who've spent a lot of time using social media might be familiar with a lot of this, but the posts summarise the headlines of just how useful these tools are expertly. And I do wish these things were more widespread knowledge: it would make our industry more interesting.


First, Alfred Hermida lets Scott Elliot explain how he benefits from blogging about his beat.


Scott is a former education reporter with the Dayton Daily News who's just taken on a new role as columnist for the same paper.  He started a blog about his beat, Get on the Bus, three years ago:


"Here's what I quickly learned - readers are interested in knowing more about education, particularly the behind the scenes information or data that is not widely reported. My blog quickly and consistently became the newspaper's best read blog, even as bunches of new ones launched, often doubling the page views of the next best read blog..." (full post here).


Next, I stumbled across Alison Gow's post comparing the life cycle of a news story web 1.0 with web 2.0 (via one of Jemima Kiss' tweets). Do check out the full post. Here's Alison's conclusion:


"I had no idea when I started doing this how thin the 'old' opportunities for investigative stories would look compared to the tools at our disposal now; it's quite stark really. It drives home just how important mastering these tools is for journalists as our industry continues to develop and change."


NB: due to formatting problems on my blog when I first posted this, I had to delete my original post and retype the text in a new post (changed the text a wee bit in that process).

The Danish freesheet war ends: Nyhedsavisen folds

Last night, employees at Denmark's most read newspaper, Nyhedsavisen, received an email  notifying them that the fresheet was to cease publication as of today.

The news came as a complete shock to the employees at the free newspaper. According to, the current majority owner, Morten Lund, approached Metro International  with a proposal to buy its Danish operation - comprised of the recently "merged" freesheets MetroXpress and 24timer - only last week and was rumoured to be preparing an official bid for today. The bid, tough described as "fanciful at the best" by Metro's CEO Per Mikael Jensen, was believed to be financed by American venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, recently announced as a major new investor in the freesheet.

Nyhedsavisen was modelled on the "quality freesheet" Frettabladid  that Baugur/Dagsbrun had been so successful with on Iceland. It was Dagsbrun's plans to launch a similar paper in Denmark, backed by Baugur, that forced the "great" Danish freshet war in 2006, which saw a range of new freesheets launched within an unbelievably short span in time (mostly in August).

It did not prove so great for the finances of Danish newspaper companies of course, with as many as five major freesheets competing only in Copenhagen, the Danish capital, for the advertisers gold, the two-year long war turned into a very costly one. Hence the news of Nyhedsavisen closure has been greeted warmly by competing newspaper groups, such as Mecom's Danish arm, Berlingske Media, today.

Nyhedsavisen's management blamed the market downturn and worsened economic outlook for the decision to give up what many have seen as an impossible battle from the very outset. It's estimated Nyhedsavisen lost close to 700m DKK on the venture.  

Update 21:05: Nyhedsavisen's closure leaves Denmark with three major freesheets: both Metro's MetroXpress and Berlingske's Urban predates the freesheet war, while 24timer, the second new major freesheet to be launched in August 2006 (after the now defunct Dato), effectively was acquired by Metro International a while back, and is said to be dragging down the latter's financial results in Denmark.

(NB: Use the tag cloud for freesheets, left-hand side, or the blogbar, right-hand side of the blog, to find more blog posts on Nyhedsavisen, Skype-investor and majority-owner Morten Lund, Draper Jurvetson Fisher, Baugur/Dagsbrun and the Danish freesheet war, which I've blogged about since its inception).