Category Archives: Internet

ENO: An amazing first month!

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, I have been attempting to catch up with my dissertation, which means I’ve had to put ENO second for a while – which isn’t good..!

This week I’m getting back on track with the site, and I’ve collaborated all of what I have done so far – In the form of research and my planning.

Technically, the site is sound, and is running fine at the moment. The main issue is that while it has been the easter break, the level of content going into the website is not what it once was – this is understandable, as many of the journalists will have wanted to take time to take stock of what they have done so far, party away, and ‘recharge’ for the next phase of ENO.

The Back Door is Open Again

A few weeks or so – (and I hope he hasn’t forgotten me!) I was speaking to Alex Gamela, who provided me with a very handy link to a website that offered very professional looking Joomla! templates. Sometime over the next few weeks, my main aim is to:

  • Install and manipulate a basic template, by myself, so that I can improve my understanding of CSS and also learn how modules are positioned, amongst other things.
  • Providing I succeed, I will then attempt to install a more advanced template, so that the site looks even more professional than it already does, and it continues to attract viewers to the site.
  • There are a few add-ons for ENO that I have stealthily bookmarked on my laptop, which I will attempt to install soon. Right now, I don’t want to give away too much in case they don’t work!

Impressed By The Page Impressions

I was absolutely shocked when I found out how many viewers the site had in it’s first month – 8,000! – EIGHT THOUSAND! I never thought that in its first month, my website would attract so many viewers.

This definitely serves as a good motivation for me because now I know that ENO is reaching a bigger audience than I thought it was. I had an interesting conversation with Matt, of Second City Records who may be interested in setting up a website for the record label. When he found out that ENO had 8,000 hits in its first month, his reaction to it was:

“How much do you sell advertising space for?”

This was an interesting thought: If I sold advertising space on ENO, I could make myself a tidy little profit. But there lies the problem; where do I set the boundaries? This is clearly an issue that I need to think about more, as it could have big implications for ENO in the future – any comments are welcome!

10 Days Later – The Site is LIVE!

My project has come on leaps and bounds since my last blog post.

Review

To recap, my final year university project is to create and maintain a fully working Content Management System, or CMS, so that the second year Online Journalism students are able to upload stories to the site, and have experience of writing for the web.

I took Paul Bradshaw‘s advice – and went live with the site, in a bid to solve the numerous problems I was having with hosting the site locally.

The ‘L’ Plates are off

Today, the site has gone live for the first time – you can see it for yourselves here. It’s called ‘Environmental News Online’, or ENO for short.

It didn’t go without it’s teething problems however..There were a few issues that needed resolving:

  • The contents and categories for inputting news onto the site were a little confusing to understand, and have subsequently been changed by myself and Paul Bradshaw.
  • Users who try to register to the website with an AOL or Tiscali account will have issues when receiving the email with an activation link.
  • The links to the reporters blogs are currently static, and hopefully in the future will become dynamic and self updating.
  • Some of the students will need to know basic HTML in order to attach and post images to their stories – a point touched on by Martin Stabe, who believes that it is wise to teach Journalism students basic HTML:

    “It would be more useful to teach some basic principles including HTML, let the serious geeks (or failing that, the tutor) set up a CMS-driven site in WordPress, MT, Joomla! or another basic CMS, and then make sure everyone else can keep it running — by concentrating on the non-technical journalism skills, like how to present stories online.”

Defeating the doubters

However, I am enjoying learning about and using Joomla! at the moment. When I started this project I didn’t even know what a CMS was.

I chose Joomla! because while I was researching about Content Management Systems, Joomla! popped up in several places.

This nicely leads to the point of the subheading above. Last week, I had the chance to have a quick chat with Pete Ashton – author of “Created in Birmingham” amongst other things.

Pete popped in to the Online Journalism class to talk about finding sources for news amongst other things, and noticed that I was using Joomla! – cue a sigh.

Last year, Pete attemped to use Joomla! for a project – and didn’t enjoy it at all:

“Now, having had to use it on a daily-ish basis for a while I can honest say, hand on heart, that it’s a piece of shit and a hinderance to my work. At least the interface is. It’s the most unintuitive, frustrating thing I’ve had to click my mouse on since I can’t remember when.”

Suffice to say, he wasn’t alone in his way of thinking. At the time of writing my blog, only three of the thirty people who commented on his post, creatively titled ‘Joomla sucks donkey cock’, actually thought Joomla! was worthwhile.

Pete found that searching for Joomla! sucks on Google brings up 219,000 results – that was in May last year. The same search today brings up 138,000 – maybe people are beginning to change their minds about it?

Time to ‘Pimp My Ride’

Steve Hill has found some excellent additions to Joomla! such as easier WYSIWIG editors (which would help some of the less technically sound students), and even add-ons that allow readers to comment on stories. Anyone for a bit of Web 2.0?

I’m currently looking into extensions for Joomla! that make things easier for the students to use and maintain the site, and also for myself too – (may I politely remind everyone that I’m new to this?)

I’m constantly learning more and more about it, and dare I say it – I am enjoying it, just a little.

Hopefully by May, I’ll be able to say that ‘I came, saw, and conquered’, by creating and maintaining a fully working CMS.

For now however, the project is underway, the site is live, and things are most definitely in motion – make sure you keep checking ENO for the latest Environmental News! The site is always changing.

UGC on the rise as TV channels allow users to make the news

Well, it’s a bold move by terrestrial television channels to say the least. I noticed that ITV Central created their ‘Uploaded’ feature to allow users to create short news clips and post them online. I was definitely going to blog about this – but Paul Bradshaw beat me to it!

Five have also done the same – but for a larger television channel compared to a regional programme, it doesn’t seem to have had a lot of publicity in the way that Uploaded did.

Five are expanding their ‘Your News‘ section to include clips created by members of the public that are uploaded onto Friction TV. Users can then ‘Fire Back’ to the video by either text or video.

This seems like an excellent idea – we can actually have an opinion – but Paul Bradshaw thinks otherwise. Paul argues that it is the news channel who decides what gets shown, and the whole segment will only last around 60 seconds. He says:

“ITV choose the topic, choose the responses, and, by the sounds of things, even choose the correspondents.”

A wise point – but surely if enough people raise the same point we might actually even end up with a whole show of UGN (User Generated News) or maybe even a whole television channel in the future? UGN – Sounds quite catchy! Who knows?  News is always changing.

By the way, if the public actually get their own channel/show, and call it UGN – I’ll be angry!