Philippa Thomas Online

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What good is Twitter? A report worth reading by @nadjasnews

“Social media cannot be outsourced to a web team. It’s every reporter’s job.” How and why is the subject of “What Good is Twitter?” – an academic report from Austrian business correspondent Nadja Hahn @nadjasnews. I don’t know her, but I like her style. Continue reading


The Growth of the Virtual Campus

It’s come for the journalist. It’s come for the publisher. Now it’s coming for the lecturer too – the bracing blast of online competition is sweeping through the campus.

Is nothing sacred in the world of those who deal in words?

Of course not. Good thing too.

I took a class with Clay Shirky at Harvard which riffed on his classic book on the internet revolution, “Here Comes Everybody”.

He’s one of those thinkers whose essays land like a stone in still water – setting off ripples every which way. I particularly enjoyed his latest blogpost for personal reasons. I’ve had the great luck to go to Oxford and Harvard, but the single best course I ever did was the Arts Foundation at the Open University. Continue reading


#Trials on #Twitter – the #Stephenlawrence case

I’m not a legal expert. I’m not even a regular court reporter. But I was one of the BBC team assigned to cover the Stephen Lawrence murder trial at the Old Bailey in November.

I am also the BBC broadcaster who used Twitter to present “breaking news” programmes about the verdicts and sentences given to  Stephen Lawrence’s killers this week.

This is not a polished article. It’s my attempt to reflect on the uses – and perils – of using Twitter in our courts. Thank you for your comments on the issue; do keep the feedback coming!

A little about me first. I love using Twitter as @PhilippaNews. It keeps me in touch with stories & contacts around the world, and I enjoy what we’ve come to call the curation of news – sharing links on everything from London life to Arab Spring politics to the US election campaign.

But this was the first time I’d used the social media channel as another form of broadcasting. Continue reading


Covering the #Stephenlawrence trial by #Twitter – your thoughts

I’m writing something about covering the Stephen Lawrence trial on Twitter – and would appreciate feedback about the uses and limitations of the twitterstream for those who are following it.   You may have found the notes and quotes useful pointers which supplement longer form coverage online / in the press – or you might point out the problems of  “reducing” complex legal arguments to 140 characters. I’ll reply to your thoughts.  P


Public broadcasting without public funding?

Do we need publicly funded broadcasting? Is it a luxury rather than a necessity, given the explosion of information on the internet? Is it a cash drain we can’t afford in this age of austerity? Is it an idea whose time has gone?

This blogpost is published with graphics on the BBC College of Journalism website. Continue reading


The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism?

This is my take on a fascinating article from John Bellamy Foster and Robert W McChesney, just published in Monthly Review. It argues that the internet should be treated as a public utility but is instead becoming the territory of capitalist robber barons, while the U.S. government is failing its citizens by standing aside. It’s quite rare to read a Marxist economic take on US communications policy, and I recommend the experience. We’ve just had a lively debate in our Kennedy School “2020 Vision” class about the assumptions made within this article; here are the points that stood out for me. Continue reading


Top tips for Digital Journalists

Mark Luckie is a man with a mission : in his words, “to help usher in a new era of journalism.” He’s the new National Innovations Editor for the Washington Post. He’s the author of the Digital Journalists Handbook. He made his name blogging at 10,000 words. And luckily for fellows at the Nieman Foundation, he was happy today to dish out his top tips, tools and websites. Continue reading

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Very good news for BBC viewers in the United States

I’ve been reporting in the US and about the US for the BBC since 1997, and never fail to find enthusiasm for the brand. Viewers here watch us on PBS, they watch us on BBC America, and appreciative listeners find us on NPR across the United States. And now I see on Paid Content UK that the BBC is rolling with the times to offer access by subscription on iPad as well. I think it’s a great move. Especially at a time when we need to shore up support for our public service model, and look beyond the pockets of the British taxpayer.

A final word from Paid Content: ” The upshot is, it could unlock a future for the BBC in the online age as a significant global online operator. ”

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Clay Shirky tells us Foreign News is facing market failure

“When did you stop being an optimist?” I asked CLAY SHIRKY , author of “Here Comes Everybody” & “Cognitive Surplus”. He’s known as an evangelist for the tools of new media. He’s written lovingly and at length about the opportunities social networks provide for us all to come together, and maybe change the world for good.

In conversation with fellows at the Nieman Foundation today, he tackled the downside that’s dearest to our hearts. If as he puts it “everyone is a media outlet”, then he clearly believes much of traditional media is history. Here’s what I jotted down as we all dug into the future of news. Continue reading