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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).

The website of Jonathan Walker, Political Editor for the Birmingham Post and Mail

What Newspapers Can Learn From YouTube (It's Not Video)

Would YouTube be successful if users could only post videos anonymously, with nothing to identify the creator?

What if they were also unable to create their own userpage, listing their films and all the people who subscribed to them? If there was no way of knowing how many people had watched the videos, and no way of rating them or leaving comments?

YouTube is not a hit because it has videos. Of course, it wouldn't work without them, or something else to replace them. But it's successful because it provides an opportunity for people to create an identity, and use that identity to say something and to be creative in front of audience. To show off.

In my Seesmic talk about the future of newspapers, I said that our websites should allow people to post or bookmark videos and photos, create their own blogs, create personal profiles and all sorts of other stuff, all on, for example, the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail websites.

I then said that some people might not think reader-submitted videos and pictures were the way forward for newspapers, but, I added, this wasn't the point.

The point is to allow them to create an identity. To express themselves. To communicate with - and show off to - other people, however exactly they do it.

This is one of the reasons people take part in (rather than passively consume) internet media. It allows them to make their mark, and we should do everything we can to allow them to make their mark on our "newspaper", whatever form that newspaper takes.

After all, we are already established as a key part of our local communities. Our brands are still strong - and prestigious. Let's give readers the chance to be a part of them.

(By the way, I have added an example of a video bookmarking component to this website, to illustrate what it means. Hit the "videos" page from the top menu to try it).

Let's All Get Mashed Together

Tom Watson has proved why he is so loved by his colleagues by making good on his promise to revolutionise the way the Government makes information available to the public.

What he and has team have really done is to make it more accessible to people who want to nick it and re-present it in their own way (sometimes called a mash-up). So, for example, it should be possible to get hold of information about crime levels, poverty, unemployment, and educational achievement, create a handy widget for your website and invite people to find out what's going on in their neighbourhood, perhaps by entering a postcode or clicking on a map.

He's even gone as far as inviting people to tell him which information they want, and how they want it delivered.

This is an invitation for newspapers to work out what sort of things they want to present to their readers - and then ask the Government to give it to them, to package and pass on.

Too good to pass up, surely?

Sadly, my computer kung fu is not quite good enough to let me create my own version of everyblock.com but there are plenty of enterprising people who could, so let's hope the newspaper industry gets there first.


We Can Rebuild It. We Have The Technology.

Most of us know exactly how to set the world to rights if only people would listen to us, and I'm no exception.

Below, I posted my thoughts on newspapers in the 21st century in two Seesmic videos. As I reckon almost nobody has watched them, I present a précis here:

i) I reckon blogs/the internet in general increase people's interest in news, as being able to take part ("readers" can now take part) makes it more fun. So, media companies should see the rise of the blogosphere as an opportunity

ii) The technology used by journalists should incorporate things like bookmarking (sending links to source material which would be displayed on the website as related links) creating maps and (I didn't say this in the video) monitoring comments automatically (so we can reply to them) - and this technology should be provided by employers and integrated directly into the process of writing stories. It's no use writing blog posts saying "journalists should create Delicious accounts", it won't work.

iii) Newspapers have always been about communities - the internet provides new ways for people within communities to communicate, so why not encourage them to do it through us? Why not encourage Birmingham would-be bloggers to set up blogs on the Birmingham Post & Mail website for example, instead of on Wordpress or Blogger.com? Why not allow people to share photos of Birmingham on the Birmingham Post & Mail website - or simply get their Flickr gallery streamed onto our site? And 101 other things.

Thanks to Fiona of Subs' Standards for prompting me to write a text summary.

Social Media Is A Myth

Suw Charman on Strange Attractor speculates that some businesses may be resisting the lure of social media because "social" has negative connotations.

A challenge facing any journalist is turning jargon into English. Jargon turns people off, quite rightly. Turning it into everyday language also forces you to try to understand what is actually being said.

So what is social media? As far as I can tell, it means websites or other internet applications which allow users to add to the content in some way, or generally do something more than passively reading it.

In other words, it's the internet. The internet has always done that.

Once, it was ICQ (one of the first instant messaging services), newsgroups (like a shared e-mail account which anyone can write to or download messages from), IRC (chatrooms) and forums (still the best way of sharing and discussing ideas for my money). And, of course, there were blogs, before people used the word blog.

One of the biggest drivers of change has been the growth of broadband, which lets you download things like videos, pictures and far more quickly than you could with the modems we used to use.

Hence, you have YouTube and a host of similar sites, iTunes - which lets anyone advertise podcasts (little radio shows) to the world, as well as selling you music - and torrents, which provide an easy way to "share files" (pirate stuff, usually).

It's all great. So why tell people who are happily using the internet, but may not know about all the good stuff out there, that they need to get into "social media"?

It's a buzzword, and someone who doesn't respond well to buzzwords is no curmudgeon. I'd call it a healthy response.


Career Suicide? Urge Me On Here

Video blogging. Should I? I've already been warned off by Clifford, and he's probably right, but the lure of playing with my new toy is too strong.

I've made a sample video - not for general consumption, but just to see what is possible. If I go ahead with this, my plan is to suggest to the Editor that I make a vid once a week or so, stick it on YouTube and simply embed it into my Birmingham Post blog (as I think putting it on YouTube would do more to draw attention to the Post website than simply using the Post's servers). He may not want to, but the first question is whether I even suggest it.

On the other hand, perhaps it is a very, very bad idea. Give your thoughts. I realise one issue is that people are probably too polite to be brutally honest (although I may be proved wrong about that!).

i) Is it a good idea? ii) If so, how should I set about doing it?

{flv}vblog1_converted{/flv}

If I actually do this, I think I'll film it in the House of Commons press bar.

Brown Makes Comeback

Little known fact – just a couple of weeks ago, the Tory PR people were worried that the mood was changing in Gordon Brown’s favour. Not in the country at large necessarily, but among the press corps.

They believed they had detected the start of the anti-Gordon-backlash-backlash. A fashion for saying he’s not so bad after all, in other words. One example was a piece by Ben Brogan in the Daily Mail portraying him as a colossus on the world stage, and asking why he didn’t enjoy the same respect at home.

Glasgow East put paid to that, but if 150 SNP voters had stuck with Labour, perhaps the mood in the media would be very different today. Of course, David Miliband has since ensured that the leadership will be the story for the foreseeable future.

Sweetgrrl001 Has Sent You A Message

One cultural shift that has taken place on the Internet is the way people now use it to promote themselves, presenting their real identity to the world rather than a fake one. This may seem obvious to those of you that have been doing it for a while, but back in the olden days it was taken for granted that you used a wacky username to communicate. Putting your real-life details out there was seen as a very brave thing to do, as Sir Humphrey might say.

This was probably a good thing in many ways, at least for me. I don't thing it would do me much good if the people I work with (contacts as well as colleagues) could follow all my edit wars on Wikipedia, earnest discussions about geek culture or outright flaming of the America Deserved It brigade on various message boards after 9-11. I still use pseudonyms most of the time.

I guess it's not an issue with younger people who happily post photos of themselves on MySpace. But for slightly older people like me, it can be a bit of a leap. It's just not the done thing ...

We're All Gonna Die

Paul Bradshaw at Online Journalism Blog started a conversation using Seesmic about the future of journalism, and newspapers in particular. He was asking whether there will be jobs for the current crop of journalism undergraduates in two or three year's time.

Seesmic is a video sharing service which lets you upload videos in reply to other videos. This makes it suitable for having conversations (kind of), as you can reply to what other people say. It's like a mixture between a message board and YouTube.

The only problem is you can only reply to people by talking directly into a camera - not by recording it first and then uploading it. As I only have a video camera which doesn't let you film directly into the computer (it's a Flip), that's not much use to me.

So I am going to post my very long reply here.

Read more: We're All Gonna Die

Forced Into the Twitstream

I signed up to Twitter last night for one main reason - to make it easier for me to spy on what these people are doing. Naturally, once I had made an account I decided to use it to spy on a few other people as well.

Went to bed and thought nothing of it. Came back from lunch this afternoon to find Private Watson had sent me a note telling me off for following his feed without actually posting anything myself. Told off by a politician? As it should be.

Hence, I have started actually posting on Twitter. Blame Labour.

In other news, Watson has a new layout for his blog and a nifty little cartoon image of himself. I may steal that idea.

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Welcome to my website. I hope to use this site to talk a little about journalism and politics and, just as importantly, to give me something to link to when posting on other people's sites!

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About me

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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Email jonathan@walkerjon.com (but please send press releases to my work email which is
jon.walker@trinitymirror.com, as this is the email I monitor during working hours).

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