Leaving RTÉ for WorldIrish

World Irish

As some of you may already know, I finished up with RTÉ at the end of December and with the beginning of a New Year have started a new job as Content Manager for WorldIrish.

You might remember this post that I wrote back in October after the Global Irish Forum and wonder why I have left Ireland’s biggest media website. It comes down to this – I believe the time is right for WorldIrish.

WorldIrish is the best organisation to create a community for Irish people and those who think Irish. It’s assembling an excellent team of people and will be working hard over the coming months to create something useful and meaningful for the global Irish community. I’m excited to be part of this.

I started in RTÉ in 2007 and had some great experiences from covering Barack Obama’s convention speech in Denver to travelling to Kenya as a backpack reporter. I found 2011 (like most people working in the media) to be an exceptionally busy year. I established RTÉ’s first social media desk, project managed RTÉ’s digital output across several platforms for the General Election and most recently worked on the organisation’s digital strategy.

I have been fortunate to work with some truly excellent people in RTÉ during an interesting time of great digital change.

I’m leaving an established mainstream media organisation for a very ambitious start up. It’s going to be a big change, but one I’m keen to embrace.

We’ll be working hard in WorldIrish over the coming months to introduce an online global Irish community with greater functionality. I’m looking forward to taking on a new set of challenges.

And if you haven’t done already, sign up to WorldIrish here!

Have a great 2012,

Blathnaid

Has Worldirish.com missed a trick?

I’ve spent the last week immersed in the second Global Irish Economic Forum as the online producer for RTE.ie’s coverage of the event. I was excited to see something like Worldirish.com emerge on Friday. From the announcement it appeared to be something that Irish and Irish-connected people could really benefit from especially during a time when so many people are leaving Ireland to find opportunities elsewhere.

No other websites or social networks (that I’m aware of) offer what Worldirish.com does. In fact, there is no one place online, or off, that you can find a database of Irish people (including diaspora). That is its strength, its power and what gives it such opportunity.

I have some superficial issues with design and navigation, but I can look past those, they are by no means deal breakers. However what I can’t look past is the massive opportunity Worldirish.com has missed.

Worldirish.com is a directory. You need to know who you are looking for. As it is currently presented, it does not facilitate focused connection-building and that is very disappointing.

I appreciate the idea of connecting people by their values, but surely what we need is something more practical.

Here’s what I would have done if I had designed it. I would have asked people for more practical information. For example, there should have been fields for the following: current country of residence, current job title and, most importantly, current industry. With this information gathered a kick-ass search functionality could have been built in to help people find connections that were useful to them.

Consider a possible scenario, a recent graduate decides they are going to set up a start-up semi-conductor business in Timisoara, Romania. If Worldirish.com had the functionality I’m suggesting it could have helped that graduate to find Irish or Irish-connected people working in their industry, or a related one, in Timisoara or other parts of Romania. This kind of connection would have been massively beneficial and thoroughly practical for anyone in any industry.*

Here’s another example. I am hoping to travel to Uganda soon to work on a story. Finding Irish aid workers in a particular part of Uganda is currently very difficult to do. Something that made it easier would be very helpful. If Worldirish.com had industry and geographical information, connecting two Irish people, who don’t already know each other, and who live in different parts of the world could be done with a couple of clicks.

A journalist, an artist, a musician, a software designer or an electrician could have benefited from a site that created a network (or even a directory) like this. As far as I can tell, Worldirish.com cannot facilitate this level of practical connection-building the way it is currently set up.

I understand we have Linkedin (but it doesn’t take Irish and Irish-connected people and put them in one place) and that this site works hand-in-hand with it and other social networks (and that’s a great idea) but while I admire the attempt to connect across values I keep thinking about its potential and what it could be.

There is clearly an appetite for an online platform that connects Irish people. I hope future iterations of the site will enable the practical connections that we really need.

-Blathnaid

UPDATE: Mark Little has tweeted to say the site is still in beta and there is more to come.

(* This is of course working on the basis that people join Worldirish.com)

The Week in Politics election book and Timisoara

I’ve contributed a couple of chapters to a book about the recent Irish general election, which has been published by RTE. The book, launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, gives a detailed analysis of the election with a constituency-by-constituency breakdown. It also features several articles written by RTE’s political staff including Sean O’Rourke, Bryan Dobson, David McCullagh, David Davin-Power and Brian Dowling. Edited by The Week in Politics’ Deirdre McCarthy, it also contains interviews with the TDs in the 31st Dail. A feature about social media and a diary-type summary of the election campaign are my two contributions to the book. More about it here.

In other news, I recently participated in a television journalism course for young journalists in Timisoara, Romania. I was one of 16 journalists from across Europe at the Circom-run course. I learned a lot from the trainers as well the others participating. If you have a couple of minutes take a look at the report I did while I was there, which was recently broadcast on RTE.

Hoping that the rain will stop soon,

B

My fast growing appreciation for Facebook

I always believed Facebook was a great platform for news organisations but even more so following RTE’s social media coverage of the General Election. Analysing the stats post-election was really interesting and revealing.

Neworld Blog reports 77% of all Irish internet users use Facebook, according to recent figures from Comscore.

(The) average Irish person spends 4hours 10 minutes on Facebook per month, well ahead of competitors Google sites (2hrs 51mins), Microsoft sites (1hr 36mins) and RTE.ie (22 mins). (Comscore)

According to Ipsos MRBI, 1.75 million or 50% of the entire Irish population, over the age of 15 years, use Facebook. 175,000 new Irish users joined the site in the last six months.

Facebook’s own figures estimate there are 1,865,000 Irish accounts on the social network.

With 1.8m Irish accounts and growing it’s hard to argue about Facebook’s dominance.

So we know there’s an audience, but what are they looking for?

Vadim Lavrusik over at Mashable has a very interesting post about Facebook’s growing role in social journalism. It even points to a news organisation that is moving its community news website totally over to Facebook. (Note: Lavrusik has just been appointed Facebook’s first journalism programme manager)

CyberJournalist has a post with some nice quick tips for publishing content to Facebook (this link has five tips,  there are eight if you download the document).

After using Facebook successfully during the General Election and seeing the power of the platform first hand – I’m hoping to experiment even more with it soon.

-B

Sunrises and Sunsets – an iPhone gallery

I’ve been taking a lot of photos using my phone over the past few weeks. It’s the camera I tend to have on me at all times and has come in handy for snapping some photos of beautiful Irish skies.

On another note, here’s an interesting list of basic web skills journalists should have from 10,000 Words. I’m ten for ten! If there are areas you need to improve they have some good links where you can find resources.

If you haven’t noticed, RTE.ie/news has been re-designed! RTE.ie’s News, Business & Sports Editor Tom Grealis explains the redesign here.

Also if you haven’t checked it out already, pay a visit to thejournal.ie – it’s an interesting new Irish venture!

-B

RTÉ launches News Now app

Image: www.RTE.ie

RTÉ has recently launched the News Now app for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

News Now is an apt description for this. If you click on ‘Top Stories’ it  delivers the latest RTÉ News, Sport and Entertainment stories from RTÉ.ie using a simple and readable layout.

As well as text stories, the app shows the latest live RTÉ News TV bulletins, weather, stocks and currencies through the ‘Watch Live’ function. You can also watch the Morning Ireland webcam (with radio stream) from 7am – a great accompaniament for the commute (not with the iPod touch though!).

You can download the app for free from the iTunes store here

More details from RTÉ about the app here

(DOI: RTÉ is my employer)