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I am an experienced online journalist and political editor working for Trinity Mirror papers in the West Midlands and the North East, based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Westminster.

I understand how government, Parliament and political parties work. I am equally at home digging out stories from data, social media or interviews as I am covering major set-piece events or explaining how things work to readers.

I produce content which is shareable and promote my work on social media.

My experience with content management systems and knowledge of HTML allows me to include charts, embedded content from third parties and formatting in my work, to create content which encourages interaction and keeps readers on the page.

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (but please send press releases to my work email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as this is the email I monitor during working hours).

Mark Blackstock, editor of TheYamYam, has contributed this reply to my earlier post about his website. JW


Hey Jonathan. Thanks for commenting on the YamYam.

The simple reason why the YamYam sometimes scans stories from newspapers and posts them on its own website is because the stories are not to be found anywhere online.

This is often the case with the Express and Star, where many excellent stories about Walsall, of interest and importance to local people, appear in newsprint but never find their way onto the E&S website. Believe me, I would much prefer not to have to take the trouble and time to scan stories but simply link to the original content online - scans also look rather ugly.

I have raised this issue with the Walsall editor of the E&S. Unfortunately, it has been explained to me that publishing all of the E&S content online is beyond the capacity of the newspaper's small internet team. I suspect this is as frustrating for the Walsall journalists who write these stories as it is for me, and for you who may perceive this as ‘theft'.

A story scanned and published in the YamYam is always credited, it is always reproduced as an image file, the article is not OCRd and stored as text in a database. So unfortunately, it is not possible to provide a link to an original article if the article does not exist online in the first place.

Readers appreciate articles being scanned, not just for their news value but also for the record. Much of the value added by a site like the YamYam is it's attention to links. Obviously links to specialist websites are a useful resource for someone researching or wishing to find out more about a particular subject, company or institution etc. But a story published in newsprint can often be isolated and read out of context.

Historical links can add meaning and tell their own story on a subject. So scanning an article is also important historically for telling the full story in links for when the subject appears next time. This is of particular use to people and groups campaigning around local issues.

As for your reference to using RSS feeds in your previous comment, I do wish it was so simple. Unfortunately many newspaper RSS feeds are unreliable and I spend many hours in search engines hunting down and selecting content. And for the record, there are no computer automated feeds going into the YamYam website - it is all human activity.

Many of the headlines and intro paragraphs (not all) are rewritten, for reasons of space or clarity on the page design or RSS feed, since what makes sense on a printed page often doesn't translate into a different web context.

As a former newspaper man of many years, I am saddened by the decline of newspaper readership and circulation - but I don't simply blame the internet for that. I am also saddened by the regional and local press's failure to embrace the internet and develop viable websites and online business plans which can monetise their content. And also for the record, as a general rule, I attempt to only link to the BBC as a last resort and give preference to local (or national) online newsprint sources or reliable bloggers - but I acknowledge that does not always happen.

In the absence of a daily newspaper for Walsall, the YamYam seeks to collate and aggregate from numerous sources as much daily news about Walsall as possible for its readers to easily navigate and read in one place - or select from an RSS or Twitter feed.

As the website builds I do hope to provide more original content but presently this is restricted to a few news and comment pieces on important issues which haven't been covered elsewhere, particularly on issues where decisions by Walsall institutions go unchallenged or ignored by the Birmingham and Wolverhampton press which dominate our part of the West Midlands.

So in conclusion, the YamYam does not attempt to monopolise or steal anyone's content but rather work alongside other media producers by sending readers off to the original source, be it a major media publisher or a local blogger, where it is up to that website to serve advertisements and run other income generating activities.

Mark Blackstock
Publisher, The YamYam

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Jonathan Walker Political Editor of the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Sunday Mercury, Coventry Telegraph, Newcastle Journal, Newcastle Chronicle and Sunday Sun.

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