News comparisons - start of 2008

A while back I did a story count exploring how much the mainstream media actually writes in comparison to anarchist press and online. So, having done a Freedom revamp with more stuff levered in, and as an exercise to see how online is doing in terms of story count, I thought I'd revisit the subject...

Back in November 2006 in this blog, I did a quick analysis of our media and how it compares to the mainstream in any given fortnight (to accommodate the fact that Freedom comes out that often - look at me ma I'm making the sun orbit the earth grin - also because it's a handy ten-day cycle of workdays).

The answer was badly. Compared to 92 articles (features, news and briefs included) DAILY in the average mainstream paper, adding up to 900-1000 in a fortnight...

Freedom ran 27-30 stories in the same time, split into:
- one feature,
- two reviews,
- nine main news articles,
- between 15-20 Nibs (news in brief),
- A picture story for the front

Though the long articles were very much so, totalling about 12,000 words in all.

Schnews, as the only thing to come close in terms of regularity (everything else in print being either irregular or quartlery afaik - corrections in the comment section please) was 6,000 words broken up into 14 stories in a fortnight, as follows:
- Two main featured articles
- Two secondary articles
- 10 Nibs
- Cartoon and listings.

Meanwhile online, the Beeb were running 22 stories on the front page alone per day, though I didn't try to estimate how many total - even at that level, we're talking 220 per fortnight. However, I'd estimate on a quick look today there's upwards of 250-300 on the news section of the website, excluding sport, at any one time, though this changes through the day, which would see the beeb romping through 2,500 stories a fortnight, albeit generally short ones.

Libcom was running 50ish stories a fortnight, plus an unknown number of feature/theory articles and a LOT of forum threads.

Indymedia had around 140 promoted stories in the same time (of varying quality and relevance)

Overwhelming.


Today, the picture is fairly similar for the average newspaper, and for Schnews (good on em they're back with their latest issue as of Friday), but we finally have a new count for Freedom as our sub puts this issue to bed.
3 picture breakouts
14 longer stories
2 features (one main, one a 'basic theory' series we're starting)
28 nibs
listings
letters
cartoon

Total news/feature story count: 47. The longer articles are still knocking 500 words, but the shorter ones are much briefer and to the point, so in terms of information there's a lot more in there, from a wider range of sources. Still way behind the curve in terms of straight story count, but for your buck, as these tend to be important/obscure stories, it hopefully ain't too bad.

Sub says it looks good btw, and it may well be on time (gasp!)

Online, libcom isn't looking so hot at the moment (though it should be borne in mind they often go through bursts of activity, followed by dry patches and New Year will have seen an inevitable lull for holiday type stuff), with just 12 stories over the fortnight - I should really get back to posting more Freedom stuff on that note...

Indymedia too with 43 promoted topics is way down, presumably for the same reasons.

That's not to say the news-writing isn't out there. Infoshop and indymedia world are pulling in around 100 every ten days at the moment, Anarkismo another 30, around the same level as A-infos. There are a lot of semi-regularly updated sites, and more mainstream sources which require minimal rewriting (eg. the strike announcements on the various union websites, which are PR releases and therefore can be reposted fairly easily just cutting out the more stupid quotes, forum posts which deserve a wider audience etc).

Although there is some crossover of stories, and a lot of them are crap, there's easily enough going on in total, along with the stuff libcom already gets, to make one decent-sized newswire with output to rival the mainstream.

What that would really need is a couple of people who obsessively read the news to volunteer as Libcom's primary news organisers, with their responsibility being to update as often as time allows (I'm sure there are people in the libcom community who could do this, particularly if they're good at deciphering google translations), augmented by a general thing for users that if you're on the forums, and can't find any good threads, stop hitting refresh and write a brief international news item instead. I mean finding international stuff is not hard, just pick a country, and type 'strike' next to it in google news. The chances of you finding nothing at all are slim.

By the time you get back, there may well be something interesting.

Comments

jef costello
Jan 13 2008 22:13

It doesn't need to be obsessive, the amount of work needed for most stories is, as you said, minimal. Google news is good there are also things like laborstart and lots of other sources.
One thing that I have noticed is that other anarchist news sources repost libcom stuff far more frequently than libcom does.
Normally one of the admins takes responsibility for news, looking for stuff and reposting things.

I'm not sure how much traffic this post will get, maybe you could try putting up some advice/proposals etc in the libcommunity section to try to get more people contributing.

Google translations are a bit dodgy though smile

Also when starting out it can be an idea to adopt a news source and then branch out a bit once you've got a bit of experience. That can also stop duplication of efforts (not that that's ever really been a problem)

Steven.
Jan 14 2008 11:27

Just one thing, I'm wondering how you did the libcom count? did you only count news articles, and for all the other sources do all kinds of articles, including ones not in English?

but yeah it is very easy posting news, would be great if a couple of extra people did it. and having freedom articles on here would be brilliant

Rob Ray
Jan 14 2008 13:10

I reckon it does need a couple of semi-obsessives (like me but you know, not) to keep the numbers up at a regularly high level at this stage - infoshop for exmaple keeps its front news page full of new stuff every day cos of Chuck (and bearing in mind he's paid, you'd need two volunteers to be equivalent probably, taking into account they'll both need free time in the week). While exhorting people to do stuff as and when can periodically bring a lot of stuff in, it's not regular and reliable, which is what keeps people coming back.

If I remember I'll post up some chunks of advice for the C&P jobs - though a note for catch, it might be worth putting a box to tick for people saying whether the article is a C&P from another site or not, as stories uniquely written for Libcom should in general get a higher news value (this both encourages new writers as they know they'll get a longer/bigger platform and will make sure the first thing people read is something they've never seen before).

Sorry John. yeah with the sites it's easier to count the news articles, so I just went down the line for the newswire until I got the fortnightly figure. I'm not sure if it's possible to count articles in total? It should also be borne in mind the volume of posts on the forums, some of which are news which never makes it to the wire, and as I say that I was counting at a low point. I should really have counted in November to get a true comparison with 2006.

Mike Harman
Jan 14 2008 13:29
Quote:
If I remember I'll post up some chunks of advice for the C&P jobs - though a note for catch, it might be worth putting a box to tick for people saying whether the article is a C&P from another site or not, as stories uniquely written for Libcom should in general get a higher news value (this both encourages new writers as they know they'll get a longer/bigger platform and will make sure the first thing people read is something they've never seen before).

I'm planning on much better support for news features in the near future - so any decent article will go into a queue for additional prominence - this will be at the admin/editor end, I don't think we can trust people to check a checkbox.

Quote:
Sorry John. yeah with the sites it's easier to count the news articles, so I just went down the line for the newswire until I got the fortnightly figure. I'm not sure if it's possible to count articles in total? It should also be borne in mind the volume of posts on the forums, some of which are news which never makes it to the wire, and as I say that I was counting at a low point. I should really have counted in November to get a true comparison with 2006.

I remember December being pretty quiet in terms of news. Also we don't publish 'news' items sometimes and move them to the forums manually instead - i.e. if they're announcements etc

http://libcom.org/latest does all library/news/history/image galleries (I think, need to check that).

Rob Ray
Jan 14 2008 13:41

Cheers catch, in that case it'd be 30-odd articles overall over the last fortnight of varying length, same for the Oct 21-Nov4 period.