Tomorrow's newspapers

Hugh Dawson


I worked in newspapers from the day I joined The Journal sports desk in Newcastle in 1962 to the day I left the Daily Mail in 2010.

By hughdawson, Jul 7 2017 01:33PM

In the dim and distant past, I was a branch reporter. I had to sit through interminable council meetings, hoping to hear something which would make a story.

Today, there is news which will change all this.

Google is paying the Press Association 706,000 euros to work with machine-learning software which will trawl through all the local and national information available under open government rules and write standard news stories from what it finds.

The target is 30,000 stories each month. Enough to keep even the angriest News Editor happy.

Flesh and blood journalists will then decide where and how to use the stories.

The PA project is called Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR) and is being run in conjunction with Urbs Media.

Another example of technology doing the boring bits and people picking up the interesting stuff.

By hughdawson, Dec 5 2016 01:42PM

The Observer, which is celebrating its 225th birthday, has a long article this week criticising Google and Facebook for publishing fake news.

The Observer, of course, publishes only true news. Its editor, who is not elected, decides what goes in and how it is presented. Some of this true news is opinion. The Observer follows a left of centre course, so maybe those of a right of centre persuasion may not agree that it is all true news.

Google does not follow a left or right course. Its unique selling proposition is that it give you everything there is. You have to decide which of it you believe as true and which you reject as false.

The Observer's view is that Google and Facebook should be controlled in some way so they show only the news which is acceptable to Observer readers.

Russia and China follow this line of thinking. They allow their people to see only the stuff their ruling party thinks acceptable.

The European Commission also thinks there should be controls on what Google and Facebook show. They have ordered that past misdeeds should be excluded from search results.

I prefer to live in a world in which I can see everything there is and make my own mind up about it. And I am happy that the loonies, on whichever left, right or religious extreme they dwell, also have this right.

We as a society and the politicians we elect will be stronger if we face up to these issues and debate them, rather than pretending they do not exist.

By hughdawson, Aug 26 2016 01:13PM

City AM is a free newspaper which is given out to commuters at London stations. It is run by a bright bunch who are looking at new ways to generate income.

They are giving those who have issues they want to promote the chance to do that promoting on the City AM website. So public relations companies, or ordinary companies with something to sell, no longer have to try to get a journalist interested in their copy. For £10,000 a month, they can write what they want and have it published by City AM on their website.

A Scottish firm Invest Edinburgh are the first to take up this service. Articles are published under the tagline Invest Edinburgh Talk and the byline is Invest Edinburgh contributor.

Newspapers which regard themselves as 'proper' are already doing this with supplements. City AM are brining this up to date.

It's a good initiative. Just as Facebook contains not only your friends, but also those companies who would like to be your friends, so City AM will publish not only its news, but also the news other companies want you to see.

City AM is doing what people in the City do best - making money.

By hughdawson, Aug 22 2016 10:03AM is closing next week. It upset a wrestler by publishing a sex tape and the wrestler was awarded huge damages in a case supported by a millionaire who was also upset by Gawker.

Gawker is complaining loudly about free speech being shut down by big money. It cannot complain. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Free speech isn't a licence to upset people.

By hughdawson, Jun 30 2016 10:39AM

There was an amazing appeal from the Editor on page 3 of The Guardian on Wednesday. It asked readers to send whatever they could afford to help The Guardian to do its job.

'Producing in-depth, thoughful well-reported journalism is difficult and expensive. But supporting us isn't. You can do so for as little as £5 a month or by making a one-off contribution.'

I thought the cover price and a bit of advertising paid for the journalism. If that isn't enough these days, the management has to come up with other money-making schemes which will pay for it. Asking readers to chip in £5 a month doesn't sound the sort of scheme which will solve the cash flow. It sounds like desperation.

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