Published: Monday, 10 August 2009 18:20
Written by Mark Blackstock
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.
Read more: In Defence of TheYamYam