Month: May 2010

The best cookbook of all time

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It’s so 80s it hurts, but the Dairy Book of Home Cookery is the best cookbook ever.
My mum’s copy has been used so much that it’s stuck together with tape now – it was a permanent fixture in our kitchen when I was kid. When I saw a reprint of it in a bookshop, I had to buy it.
Some of the recipes are shocking (buttered plaice with bananas anyone?) but it has some great basic and traditional recipes that work every time, it focuses on using fresh, local ingredients and the photos and illustrations are so dated that they’re funny.
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Twitter spam doesn’t pay

Twitter spam doesn’t pay, and here’s the proof.

Today I published a news piece with ‘social networking’ in the title, which is like a red rag to a spambot bull. Sure enough, quite a few spambots auto-tweeted links to the story. Guess how many clicks through to the article this generated, bearing in mind these bots have more than 100,000 ‘followers’ between them?

9.

Yep, 9. That’s because no one pays attention to Twitter spam – it’s irrelevant white noise.

This is why I get so hacked off with things like this – http://socialmediacontentfactory.com. This guy promises that by ‘borrowing’ other people’s content and tweeting links to it you’ll gain thousands of followers and become an influential guru in your chosen sector. Which is complete bullshit.

Rant complete.
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Roy Greenslade: Journalism students may be ‘digital natives’ but they crave jobs with ‘old media’ | guardian.co.uk

Why are there so many young people desperate to get into mainstream media? Every year since I’ve been teaching journalism at City University London, the post-grad courses have been oversubscribed.

The same is true at other universities offering journalism degrees. And don’t get me started on the numbers taking media studies who also believe it will provide an entr??e to newspapers, magazines, television, radio and – heavens forfend – PR.

This weekend’s Sunday Times magazine feature by Ed Caesar, Hold the front page, I want to be on it, tells how 1,200 people applied last September for a single reporting job on the paper’s website.

I am not surprised in the least. Despite the declining sales, the cutbacks, the job insecurity, the low pay (or no pay) and – as Caesar makes abundantly clear – the sheer difficulty of even getting a start, there is an intense desire to obtain a job on a newspaper.

Moreover, this desire should be set in the context of the online skills of almost all the applicants. They may be digital natives who spend hours surfing, communicating via Facebook or Twitter, searching for news and information through Google, but they still want to break into “old media.”

I may exhort them to think about entrepreneurial journalism. They may learn about successful online news start-ups. They often tell me that mainstream media controlled by big, bad, profiteering moguls is a danger to press freedom. But these so-called “digital natives” still want to work for mogul-owned media.

Caesar properly reflects that enthusiasm in his interviews with people who “made it” by getting jobs on national newspapers, a fact some of his critics – such as Adam Westbrook here, Adam Tinworth here and various Twitterati – fail to grasp. He is dealing with reality.

Tinworth is upset that Caesar ignores local papers. But the truth is that my post-grad students ignore local journalism too. It is not only not their ambition, it is not part of their chosen career path either.

He also, rightly, points to journalism being a broad church. There are magazines – consumer and b2b and a variety of niche publications – plus non-national TV and radio. These are media outlets that can sustain journalists’ careers. But they were not part of Caesar’s brief.

Where I agree with Tinworth, Westbrook and Claire Wardle (see her dismissive tweet) is the the need to promote online-based entrepreneurial journalism. However, the difference between them and Caesar (and me) is between “is” and “ought.”

Caesar and his interviewees are telling like it is. His critics are saying what ought to happen.

I certainly think Tinworth is correct when he writes: “For journalism, and journalists, the rules are shifting – and they’re shifting in favour of the individual, the passionate and the skilled. And I can’t help but see that as a good thing.”

I also agree with Westbrook when he writes:

Start looking for the brave, exciting new opportunities presented by this wonderful digital age we now live in. Start thinking about what new niches are evolving which you can exploit with a savvy, bootstrapped new startup.

Start thinking of ideas for profitable online magazines or mailing lists which you can leap straight to being the editor of.

All that is fine enough (despite the final sentence ending with a preposition — ed.). But simply saying it will not convince the hordes of journalism students to take that route. Not just now anyway.

As one student said privately to me after I had spoken in a lecture – and with some passion – about the opportunities opened by online start-ups: “That’s all very well, but I came here to get on to a newspaper.”

I found this really interesting – especially as I had my heart set on being a journo since I was about 11.

However, when I finished university I realised just how competitive it was and needed to start earning straight away, so it started to look a lot less attractive.

I got a job writing online news as a stop-gap, realised that the web was an exciting place and online content was the future, and the rest is history…

Belated #FF for @jennyholzer

I was pretty obsessed with Jenny Holzer as a teenager, so I was so happy to find out she’s on Twitter.

She’s an artist who uses words as a medium, which really appeals to me as someone who likes to write. Her work has appeared as posters, T-shirts, LED signs etc.

I had this piece of her work on a postcard stuck to my wall for years – I read it daily and it was a bit of a mantra for me…

DON’T TALK DOWN TO ME. DON’T BE POLITE TO ME. DON’T TRY TO MAKE ME FEEL NICE. DON’T RELAX. I’LL CUT THE SMILE OFF YOUR FACE. YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. YOU THINK I’M AFRAID TO REACT. THE JOKE’S ON YOU. I’M BIDING MY TIME, LOOKING FOR THE SPOT. YOU THINK NO ONE CAN REACH YOU, NO ONE CAN HAVE WHAT YOU HAVE. I’VE BEEN PLANNING WHILE YOU’RE PLAYING. I’VE BEEN SAVING WHILE YOU’RE SPENDING. THE GAME IS ALMOST OVER SO IT’S TIME YOU ACKNOWLEDGE ME. DO YOU WANT TO FALL NOT EVER KNOWING WHO TOOK YOU?
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There are 563,743 racists in the UK, & 285,616 people who think the environment is really important…

Full UK Scoreboard

Party Seats Gain Loss Net Votes % /-%
Conservative 306 100 3 97 10,706,647 36.1 3.8
Labour 258 3 94 -91 8,604,358 29.0 -6.2
Liberal Democrat 57 8 13 -5 6,827,938 23.0 1.0
Democratic Unionist Party 8 0 1 -1 168,216 0.6 -0.3
Scottish National Party 6 0 0 0 491,386 1.7 0.1
Sinn Fein 5 0 0 0 171,942 0.6 -0.1
Plaid Cymru 3 1 0 1 165,394 0.6 -0.1
Social Democratic & Labour Party 3 0 0 0 110,970 0.4 -0.1
Green 1 1 0 1 285,616 1.0 -0.1
Alliance Party 1 1 0 1 42,762 0.1 0.0
UK Independence Party 0 0 0 0 917,832 3.1 0.9
British National Party 0 0 0 0 563,743 1.9 1.2
Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force 0 0 1 -1 102,361 0.3 -0.1
English Democrats 0 0 0 0 64,826 0.2 0.2
Respect-Unity Coalition 0 0 1 -1 33,251 0.1 -0.1
Traditional Unionist Voice 0 0 0 0 26,300 0.1
Christian Party 0 0 0 0 18,623 0.1
Independent Community and Health Concern 0 0 1 -1 16,150 0.1 0.0
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 0 0 0 0 12,275 0.0
Scottish Socialist Party 0 0 0 0 3,157 0.0 -0.1
Others 1 1 1 0 319,891 1.1 0.0
Turnout 29,653,638 65.1 4.0

After 649 of 650 seats declared.

There are 563,743 racists in the UK, & 285,616 people who think the environment is really important…that’s depressing.

It makes me wonder if electoral reform would really be such a good thing – our system is screwed, but with proportiaonal representation the BNP and UKIP would probably have end up with MPs.

That’s the downside to democracy I guess – everyone gets to have their say, even the bigots and the people you don’t agree with.