How to be a cyberjournalist

A couple of profs up north have just published a book, Manual de Redacción Ciberperiodística, that explains useful things like … er … what a hyperlink is. Books like this have been remaindered for years in other countries, so how come lecturers here still get away with inflicting them on their students? Any currently blog-less 18-year old who thinks that his/her future lies in communication should be rapidly reassigned to a career in pig processing.

One of the book’s editors, Ramón Salaverría, has a blog, which tracks the David Rojo story. Mr Rojo is the journalist who pretended to be a lawyer in order to interview Málaga murder suspect, Tony “Holloway Strangler” King, and who has also been running a site,, with content taken from Spanish dailies, El Mundo and El País. While nicking stuff ain’t right, I suspect that much of the establishment rage derives from a real sense that, with cowboys like Rojo as well as important innovations like the Google Spanish news portal, they are losing control of the media landscape.

In the October 3rd edition of the Financial Times, John Lloyd published an excellent analysis of the wider ramifications of the Gilligan affair which included the following:

Britain’s press really is pressed: a dozen daily and Sunday newspapers are squeezed into one city, London, from which they are distributed every morning.

In no other western capital is this the case: newspapers are either dispersed among regional centres, as in the US, Germany, Italy and Australia, or are fewer in number, as in Japan, France, Spain and Canada.

The situation in Britain has led to a hyper-competitive press in which up-market, middle-market and tabloids compete for a readership that remains among the highest in the world, at more than 35 million.

Nearly all these papers depend on newsstand sales, which means their editors are under much more pressure to produce attention-getting front pages than their counterparts in France, Italy or Spain, say, where the main papers are one-city monopolies, or are confined mainly to the middle classes. In recent years, many British editors have come to believe the best way of getting attention is to be more and more anti-government, or indeed anti-politician.

This strategy is referred to whenever editors here want to pontificate on the dangers of vigorous competition but, while Gilligan may have screwed up seriously, he’s still streets ahead of any broadcast Spanish journalist I’ve seen or heard.

Via Atalaya.

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  1. As one of the authors of the book, I would like to make you a brief remark about your comment on the new “Manual de Redacción Ciberperiodística”. You describe the book as a work “that explains useful things like … er … what a hyperlink is”.

    Great. You are right! This is just ONE of the things that it explains. But believe me: there are many more things thta are deeply treated in the book in its nearly 600 pages. This things include, for instance, hypertextual theory and structures for newswriting (do you know any othe book dealing with this? Please, tell me!!!), stylistic and linguistic specific aspects of cyberjournalism, a complete list and description of different cybermedia models (including weblogs, of course), theory and concepts of information arquitecture for news websites, and…

    I’m impressed!!! Have you been able to read the whole book already (it was published last week) for making such comment???

  2. I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere near a 600-page book with a table of contents that looks like it’s not going to tell me anything new. The step from traditional to online journalism is a bit like going from being village postman to doing national deliveries in a white van. You need to know more things, different things, but you don’t need a degree in the history and philosophy of automotive engineering. There are a large number of shorter books on the subject – try Amazon – and they generally sell less well than study books dealing with traditional subjects because they’re inevitably out of date by the time they hit the shelves. I’m sure that some of your students will find useful stuff in your book – there’s very little published in Spanish – but some of them may prefer rolling resources like USC Annenberg’s Online Journalism Review.

  3. Trevor, you say: “I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere near a 600-page book with a table of contents that looks like it’s not going to tell me anything new”.

    Congratulations, Trevor. I’m glad to know that there are many people out there with a broad knowledge on interactive newswriting. (But please, notice the expression*interactive newswriting*, and don’t understand it as synonim of *interactive media*. Now, take my expression and try the search in Amazon; let me advance that you will only find *one* book, Weston’s “Interactive Newswriting: The Basics”, which is just that: a very introductory book. Besides this, there are just some few other books in the World on the issue written by Carole Rich (US), Martin Engebretsen (Norway) and Nora Paul (US), this last one only in a website).

    And just one final remark. I am a humble teacher of Journalism and when I ask to my students believe me that none of them have the broad knowledge that you seem to have. Maybe 5% of them know what a weblog is; none of them have one. And, I can add that when I teach to mature journalists the answer is even worse. So, I think a book lik our Manual is worth to be published, even though it doesn`t satisfy experts on the issue like you.

    Finally, please check the I do read it frequently. Please can you tell me where/when have you find there anything talking specificly on *newswriting* for cybermedia?

  4. OK, sorry if I came in with a bang. I’m an ignoramus with a very large mouth.

    An uninformed and probably yawn-provoking thought: what about integrating blogging into your course so that students need to do some real-world online journalism to get the points? Graham Stanley here in Barcelona uses it with his classes and – although English teaching is a different kettle of fish from what you’re doing – I believe he swears by the general principle.

    I’ve got to go off and sing now, but I’ll try to post something more substantive early tomorrow. Just out of interest, and on the all-publicity’s-good-publicity principle, how many comments do you have to post here before I get a review copy :-) ?

  5. Thank you for your suggest of using blogs for teaching, Trevor. Since this year, we are in fact on that. At our School of Journalism in the University of Navarra some professors have already started to use blogs for teaching. As main example, my colleague José Luis Orihuela, who works together with me at the Multimedia Lab of the School, has begun this semester a class that deals specificly on blogs: Diseño audiovisual”. I am also considering to use blogs for one of my courses during next semester, even though my course is more introductory than Orihuela’s and I have to teach before to my students some basics on cyberjournalism and interactive networks.

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