You can charge £10 a month online, unless you’re the FT

Researching a training course I’m delivering tomorrow at City Lit,* I’ve found that publishers with a paywall tend to charge about £10 a month/£120 annually for online access – with the exception of the Financial Times. It charges £276 a year for its basic digital service (often discounted to £208 as an introductory offer), but as well as a source of news and comment, it also works as a lightweight business intelligence tool covering major companies and industries.

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The paranoid style in IT journalism

There’s a type of technology journalism which is the non-fiction equivalent of a horror story, the opposite of uncritical technophilia. Scaring readers is a pretty good way to hold their attention, but it doesn’t necessarily get to the heart of the story.

Earlier this month, The Register published my piece on Cambridge Analytica and its targeted political advertising based on online psychometric profiling. The company does itself no favours by not responding to questions, but I did speak to academic Michal Kosinski, who according to a widely-read article in Swiss publication Das Magazin (republished by Vice’s Motherboard section) ended up racked with guilt at having developed ideas in this area which Cambridge Analytica has since exploited. Continue reading “The paranoid style in IT journalism”

Making emotional predictions

“Forecasts are always wrong,” said Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, this week (having said similar things in the past). This is a brave line to take when your organisation produces the economic forecasts used by the government, but it is also true.

In anything that involves human behaviour, the best a forecaster can do is assess the situation in the recent past and at present, note the rates of change, then take a view on whether things will continue to change at those rates or if there are good reasons otherwise. It makes sense to say how confident you are in the prediction or provide a range of possibilities. Continue reading “Making emotional predictions”

Free training: using data to make more money from freelancing

I am running a new training course, Using data to make more money from freelancing, on Thursday 1 December at Equity’s offices on Upper St Martin’s Lane in London. It is free for freelance members of the following unions: Equity, the Musicians’ Union, the National Union of Journalists and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

As someone who has used and written about data in journalism for many years, in this course I will explore ways in which data can be used in freelance businesses to increase profitability. I will be covering techniques including risk assessment, budgeting, making best use of your time, estimating and negotiating jobs, when to sack a client and how spot trends and benefit from them.

I will be aiming to make everyone attending £100,000 richer (warning: the value of this pledge may fall as well as rise). There will be laughs, possibly tears and certainly spreadsheets.

The course, organised by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, has limited places available. Apply here by 22 November.

The digital divide: paid-for vs page-views

Some readers, particularly those I asked to subscribe, might remember I wrote a series of articles on the state of Britain for a website called Beacon in 2014-15. It was initially set up as a pay-walled multi-writer blog, where you subscribed to one writer and gained access to everyone. I had fun writing for it and made a modest amount of money writing articles I would not have written otherwise.
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