I’m Martin Belam! You might know me from such internet projects as…
My name is Martin Belam and I’m about to become Social & New Formats Editor at the Guardian and you might be thinking “Who is this bozo and what the hell is that all about”
So, by way of a back-story…
At Trinity Mirror Rob Manuel and I helped the company start UsVsTh3m, with Malcolm Coles as our boss. This is how and why we made it: “The who, what and why of UsVsTh3m”
I then went on to help them set up Ampp3d, which is without a doubt the thing I am most proud of in my career to date. I wrote up “How we built Ampp3d in eight weeks”
Running Ammp3d and my other Mirror projects during a British General Election campaign taught me these 8 things.
And, erm, then we stopped doing those things.
I’ve long been fascinated with how news organisations have coped with building communities, and sometimes how they have unbuilt them. I’ve observed the long slow death of the BBC’s message boards, and watched with particular interest the closure of The Archers message board, as explained by my former colleague Nigel Smith. I’ve come to believe that online communities on media sites always seem to struggle because reasons.
And of course, if you work with something day-to-day, you end up having strong feelings about it. Here are my 9 pet peeves from running the UsVsTh3m social media brand accounts.
When I was the Guardian last time around I worked on a fascinating though ultimately doomed “Facebook Social Reader app”, which delivered huge volumes of traffic by serving articles directly within the Facebook site, and making users automatically share them at the same time. The sharing bit was, understandably, not very popular, but doing the content directly seems like the pre-cursor to the development of “Instant Articles”
This was my public post-mortem on the project: “The rise and #fail of the Guardian Facebook app”
I’ve tried, where I can, to make some kind of impact on the diversity levels in our industry. I was very proud that Ampp3d was, to my knowledge, the only newsroom data-journalism unit in the world where all of the full-time staff were women. As I see it, the problem is “Not all men. Not all industries. But nearly always men in my industry”
I also accidentally did one of those “Wow I walked a mile in your shoes and hoo boy that was weird and awkward” things where it turned out that if you tried to make political jokes on social media in the name of a dead woman you got loads more grief for it than making political jokes on social media in the name of a dead man.
I’ve done lots of hiring over the years into news and media companies, and so I have 13 tips on applying for journalism jobs from a fortysomething misanthrope. And I also once wrote down 5 things I think journalism students need to know about technology
And in what I guess is now internet archaeology, in the early 2000s, people first got interested in what I was doing because I published blog posts like “I looked at the data and here’s what software people use to access the BBC homepage” and “I looked at the data and here’s what search terms people use on the BBC website” and didn’t realise that people would find that interesting.