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What does OSM mean?

A blurb in today’s Guardian promises a big treat next Monday — a special supplement on “Changing media in OSM.” And it’s free.

But what in cyberspace does OSM mean? The first page of a Google search for “OSM” produced some possibilities: Open Street Map, Open Services Model, Ontological Sketch Model, Online Soccer Manager, Ottery Sports Centre, Operational Support Manager and Operations Support Management.

A search of Guardian Unlimited produced only one solution. Observer Sports Monthy is regularly so abbreviated.

Nothing seemed to relate to the evolution of digital media which is what we are waiting for next week.

The Guardian’s own style book wisely suggests spelling out less well-known abbreviations on first mention.

Dog eats dog mystery

While Peter Preston rails at the Independent under the heading “Indy suffers a list into silly survey country” in his Observer media column today, the main news section devotes nigh on a page to a survey of the top 40 crazes that made the 1980s.

It reveals the decade was shaped by Rubik’s Cube at number one, followed by legwarmers and Pacman.

The Independent on Thursay chose the Sutton Trust report claiming increased numbers of privately educated people in the top echelon of British media for one of its idiosyncratic fronts (graphic of statistics on an old school tie).

Now, Preston makes some good points about the Sutton Trust survey, questioning the way in which the top hundred people were selected, both for the new figures and the 1986 comparison data. He suggests the Indy editor (Simon Kelner, a grammar school boy) did not “read the small print”.
Is he going to voice the same doubts about The Observer’s commentator Will Hutton. He uses the Sutton report today as the peg for a think piece saying “the power of the old school tie has never been stronger and more damaging to society as a whole.”

I suspect that Kelner and Hutton both grasped the survey as a way of expressing a viewpoint they already held strongly. I certainly did in my post when I put forward very much the same case as I did in a conversation over coffee with Peter Preston a few months ago.

Mystery deepens

I am unable to link to Peter’s piece because only three of the four items in his column have been uploaded to the web. And which one is missing? The one headlined “Indy suffers…” of course.

Is this just a cockup or was the piece pulled after the first edition which I see in Suffolk? An email seeking guidance has been sent.

Guardian has ‘crossed a line’

After four days of the Guardian’s “web first” policy Harriet Sherwood, the foreign editor, today (Saturday) writes about the “modest start” they have made. In the Editor’s week slot she says the significance should not be underestimated. “We have crossed a line — and two things are inescapable: other newspapers will follow, and there is no going back,” she says.

There have been some problems with processes set up in advance not quite fitting reality and practical issues which had not been anticipated. But that was to be expected. The new “web first” policy only affects foreign and City desks at present and some commentators such as Steffen Fjaervik in his rather doubting post at the Poynter Institute have ignored the implications of this.

Foreign and financial news often cannot be used in a London-based paper until long after the event. Sherwood points out that on Wednesday they were able to post on Guardian Unlimited their story on the release of Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir from an Indonesian jail at 11.15am. The copy would have been old by the time it could appear in the following day’s printed edition.

Stories from Asia, Africa and the Middle East are most likely to be published earliest in the UK day. Sherwood says reporters in those areas are getting used to a different pattern of working. And she is adamant that quality will not be sacrificed for speed.

I expect there will be a lot more organisational, quality and commercial issues to be faced in the coming weeks and, inevitably, turf skirmishes if not wars.

Guardian has 'crossed a line'

After four days of the Guardian’s “web first” policy Harriet Sherwood, the foreign editor, today (Saturday) writes about the “modest start” they have made. In the Editor’s week slot she says the significance should not be underestimated. “We have crossed a line — and two things are inescapable: other newspapers will follow, and there is no going back,” she says.

There have been some problems with processes set up in advance not quite fitting reality and practical issues which had not been anticipated. But that was to be expected. The new “web first” policy only affects foreign and City desks at present and some commentators such as Steffen Fjaervik in his rather doubting post at the Poynter Institute have ignored the implications of this.

Foreign and financial news often cannot be used in a London-based paper until long after the event. Sherwood points out that on Wednesday they were able to post on Guardian Unlimited their story on the release of Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir from an Indonesian jail at 11.15am. The copy would have been old by the time it could appear in the following day’s printed edition.

Stories from Asia, Africa and the Middle East are most likely to be published earliest in the UK day. Sherwood says reporters in those areas are getting used to a different pattern of working. And she is adamant that quality will not be sacrificed for speed.

I expect there will be a lot more organisational, quality and commercial issues to be faced in the coming weeks and, inevitably, turf skirmishes if not wars.

The English Broadcasting Corporation?

It will probably puzzle anyone outside the UK but the BBC has come under fire for being being too biased in favour of England in the World Cup.

The attack came from Jack McConnell, First Minister of Scotland, who according to the Scotsman (requires free registration) said on a radio phone-in the BBC seem “to forget from time to time that they are meant to represent the whole of the country, not just one part of it. I hope perhaps they will listen to a bit of pressure and be more reasonable with their coverage.”

McConnell, who heads the devolved Scottish Parliament, had earlier said he would be supporting Trinidad and Tobago. There has also been strong support for T&T in Wales, where one of the Carribean stars plays for Wrexham.

Student journalism awards

The impressive standard of young journalists coming out of colleges and universities in the UK will be celebrated later this month at the UK Press Gazette’s annual student journalism awards. This year the awards ceremony will be at Reuters’ new headquarters so editorial bosses there can expect to be lobbied pretty hard for jobs.

I will be there to cheer on journalists I have taught who are shortlisted in three of the eight categories.

Private shool boys (mostly) set the news agenda

More than half of the UK’s leading journalists were educated at private schools according to a report published by the Sutton Trust today (Thursday). Worse, only 14% went to comprehensive shools which are attended by nine out of ten pupils.

The report finds that 54% of the top 100 journalists were independently educated, an increase from 49% in 1986. It includes a list of the top hundred and the schools they attended.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the trust which was was set up to provide educational opportunities for young people from under-privileged backgrounds, said their report raises questions about “the nature of the media’s relationship with society: is it healthy that those who are most influential in determining and interpreting the news agenda have educational backgrounds that are so different to the vast majority of the population.”

The report goes on to suggest that the power of those from the elite education system is increasing with the latest recruits even more likely to come from privileged backgrounds.

The reasons, says the report, include: low pay and insecurity at junior levels, high living costs in London, rising postgraduate course fees, and a bias towards people with connections to the industry.

While journalists castigate political parties for not selecting enough women to fight winnable parliamentary seat, only 18% of the top hundred are women. At least it is better than the 10% in 1986.

I read the report, or at least the press release and the executive summary, this afternoon after interviewing applicants for a postgraduate journalism course. I will post a longer and more considered comment after I have read the report in full. For the moment, some initial thoughts.

First an admission. I was privately educated and when I went for an interview for a job as a junior reporter on the local daily paper I met the editor who was wearing the old school tie of the place I had just left.

That was in the very early days of journalism requiring educational qualifications. I worked alongside people who had started as copy boys (the term included girls) progressed to copytakers and then to reporters. Some of them were among the best reporters and photographers around.

Since then the entry requirements have steadily risen until today a postgraduate diploma is needed for many, if not most, jobs. The ending of undergraduate maintenance grants and rising PGdiploma fees are making it very difficult for any but the children of wealthy parents to get into the craft.

I see this among the people applying for places on the course, not that many don’t have to scrimp and save. Some are just determined and beg and borrow and work during the course. There are also more mature students who have had well paid jobs and saved enough to take a year studying for a job they really want.

There are few from the poor housing estates, the very communities that are being covered with little understanding. With the rise of white nationalism (shown in the recent local government elections) and the threat of home-grown terrorism we need, more than ever, reporters and commentators who understand the people who live in these places.

I suspect that the situation may be worse than the Sutton Trust suggests. National newspapers and broadcasting have always recruited a top layer from Oxbridge, but expected their general news reporters to have served their time on local and regional newspapers.

Now there is direct entry into the national media as reporters and subs from postgraduate courses and the opportunities to move from the provinces is much less than it was in the past.

After reading the report in full I will examine one of the crucial issues facing British journalism and its impact on the society as a whole in greater detail.

Advertising goes with the audience

A report that UK internet advertising will overtake the share of national newspapers by the end of this year will have sent shivers down the spines of hacks watching the BBC’s ten o’clock news last night.

The figures reported rather earlier by emarketer.com predict a marginal lead with the internet taking 13.3% of the £12.2 billion market against 13.2% for national newspapers.

Group M, part of the WPP advertising giant, believes the margin will widen considerably in 2007.

The large newspaper groups have been seeing traditional markets slipping away. Rightmove, owned by some of the country’s biggest estate agents, has become the first choice of people looking for a new home and left advertising managers wondering what has hit them.

Rupert Murdoch and his News Group admit they have been slow off the internet mark. Time will tell whether paying £332.85 million for MySpace was a shrewd move or a panic too late.

Job advertising has traditionally been a big earner for the quality and mid-market papers and that is extremely vulnerable. Yet newspaper bosses were slow to react to the threat and find themselves scrabbling around to buy up existing site. The Daily Mail group which includes London’s only evening paper, the Standard, has spent £35 million on jobsite.co.uk.

While newspaper websites are moving into profit, as they attract more advertising,they are far from generating the revenue to replace that lost by the paper versions.

What is clear is that the directors of large newspaper corporations failed to recognise the impact of web. You can hear the exchange between the men in the leather armchairs of their London clubs — “Would you want to go through all the classifieds on a screen, old boy?” — “I can’t see its appeal but my grandson uses it.”

The crucial figures for traditional media business in the next year will be not the comparison between newspaper and internet advertising but the share of internet advertising won by those groups.

Since writing this I have seen Scott Karp’s post “Has the MySpace downturn begun?” on Publishing 2.0

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