#SaveReadersRecommend: some updates



received_1024235844284530Just a quick post to try to keep everyone abreast of what’s happening about RR’s future, if people could add updates in the comments (and email this link to anyone they can who isn’t regularly on the ‘Spill and/or Facebook that would be fantastic).

tfd coined the hashtag #SaveReadersRecommend, which we should be using if we’re posting on social media about the situation

Toffeeboy made a Facebook page

Tim wrote this rather wonderful blog post

Peter is keeping the current thread open indefinitely

We know which editors to email

I am going to write a thought piece on the situation for The Flux, and my editor there is going to talk to his web designer about the possibility of running RR on the site in the future if the community are interested in that. It can’t be immediate due to logistical issues (such as the fact that we have literally just overhauled the site and need to get it running smoothly again before we make any big changes) but he’s very interested in doing it. If you think about it, the fact that a music site wants to take on running RR is an indicator of how valuable a resource it should be to the Grauniad if they used it properly.


MH did not appreciate his reply to tfd (where he blamed the decision on a lack of resources) being circulated.


5/1/15 – MH has posted a rather vague update


6/1/15 (barely) – image at top sent to me by saneshane

7/1/15 – An unofficial RR topic will be being posted in Peter’s ‘Favourite Songs and Playlists’ thread at roughly 8pm UK time tonight. I’ll make a backup post on the ‘Spill in case comments get closed over there.

46 thoughts on “#SaveReadersRecommend: some updates

  1. I got a reply to my email from MH but when I posted it on the two Facebook pages he immediately emailed me back and said I had no right to circulate a ‘private note’ which had been sent to me ‘as a courtesy to a long-time reader’. So he’s watching.

    • I like MH, his previous involvement with RR has always been warm and good humoured-I am getting the sense that he is a good guy in this who is having to front up the bad news, so it is a shame if he has been upset by this (although emailing information without asking for discretion seems a bit clumsy – psychotherapist colleagues of mine might suggest he actually wanted the issue out in the open!).

      If this is a resource issue though, I really don’t know where we go – it’s already surely done at low cost to the Graun – Peter’s fee is presumably the only significant cost left, and they must feel that even that is too much for the click/ad revenue generated.

      If that is the case, prepare to see a hell of a lot more click bait in there from now on….

      • According to Terms and conditions for the supply of contributions to Guardian News & Media the price of a Blog post (either Commissioned or “Pick of the day”) is the same – it doesn’t come under the commissioned written contributions wordage rate – so ‘my guess’ is a cut and paste article with 10 youtube clips would be the same as a 1000 word article, iF it’s a blog… unless the cut and paste job is done by an unpaid intern, it cost the same.

        The Guardian needs to fill Culture > Music with posts to suck people in and keep them occupied – they have to pay staff or freelance – if it was entirely done by us as ‘community contributors’ – a staff member would still have to check and probably triple check content – because as we are NOT professional; no worries for us about OUR reputation as writers, but their reputation has to be safe and representative of their vision.
        Then there’s the moderating of 1000 comment – moderating is usually out sourced – don’t know about the Guardian – but a blog with that amount is a lot to keep an eye on. Some outsourcing is time (including out of hours), some is per organisation – but they would need to know RR’s peculiar musical references and what the Guardian allows to keep on top of it.
        Reporting comments has always been an odd one on RR … (I think I’ve reported myself for being a cock and not being ‘true to our own set standards’ and it’s been removed to save my sober mind from having to live with it).
        This is the crux – Peter probably did all of that (except moderating) off his own back AND published our site ON TIME instead of an intern (hopefully a paid one) having to push a button – and as we know, the ‘interns’ were NOT always the most reliable doing that when it was their job.

        So Peter isn’t actually the cost factor – he, as freelance writer, is a ‘set fee, content generator’ however brilliant and detailed his work is / or however crap (he’s NOT obviously) but you see what I mean.
        The sustained popularity MIGHT be the monetary PROBLEM generating more costs.. and solutions need to be looked at of how to generate income from it while reducing workload.
        Because I suggested sponsorship, branding and ‘club’ like stuff for RR a few years ago (when working out the guest curator thing with Adam) – I was given carte blanche to do as I liked via the ‘spill because if they did it: Lawyers, Ad beggars, Designers, etc etc etc had to be diverted to sorting something out for it – too much hassle for our corner of the blog world… fine in Premier League football circles – but a playlist? nope.

        They also could (if they so wished/probably have) seen how many people commenting use adblock, share the articles (free publicity that we fail at), or click through to other article / on the adverts… and work out our ‘proper’ value to the brand – I bet we are all … actually I’ll stop there.

        Just to reiterate after that long winded rant – I did have a point; oh yeah: I don’t believe Peter is the cost factor.

      • But they are making it seem as though he is, thus putting the blame on him – not personally, of course, but by saying the blog can’t survive as it is because Peter is too expensive they are hoping we won’t put up too much of a fuss if Peter has to go.

      • This is why I typed all this out – tfd … because, for Peter (I believe) it had become a labour of love too… (from what he said at the 10 year gathering).

        If I was being kind to Michael Hann, I’d say it was simpler first day back in the office bombarded with e-mails to say; too expensive to produce and he used Peter as an example – but if he really thought about it, that was unkind and disingenuous, probably shooting himself in the foot to use him as a scapegoat in the process.
        Unless, obviously, those new: 10 best cut and paste youtube clip blogs ARE produced by unpaid interns on work experience (but that is supposed to be anti – Guardian ethics).

  2. Best news of the day AIP, indeed best news for the past few days. Like you say the fact that a website is willing to take on RR is testament enough for its value (and also for The G’s stupidity)

  3. I sent this to Katharine Viner, fwiw:

    When you took over as editor-in-chief of the Guardian last July, you emailed Members like me to introduce yourself with the statement that you were going to do your best ‘to make us proud to be part of the organisation we were so generously supporting’.
    I appreciate the efforts made in the past 6 months to engage Members more directly and especially for the offers and activities being made available to those of us not living in London. Kudos.

    But last week one of my favourite parts of the on-line paper, Readers Recommend, was abruptly terminated for no explicable reason and it has annoyed and upset me and many other regular Guardian readers and Subscribers. It is a feature that the Guardian has hosted for 10 years – yet the readers themselves put in 95% of the effort to keep it going – and one that regularly gets over 1,000 comments a week. It is also free of the usual trolling found elsewhere on the internet and so keeps attracting newcomers who tend to stick around. The only reason given for its execution, from Michael Hann, is that it is still popular after 10 years, which is a strange policy to apply in an organisation keen to keep its readers.

    I hope that you will look anew at this decision and, after assessing the negative effect on precisely the kind of people who the Guardian wishes to keep loyal, will grant a reprieve to one of the most enjoyable, informative and supportive blogs to be found anywhere on the internet.

  4. I have just forwarded my original email to the correct address for Mr Llewellyn Smith. I didn’t get any replay from Mr Hann other than the standard message to say that he would be out of the office until today. I promise that my email was both polite and reasonable! If I do receive any replies I shall know now not to post them elsewhere!

  5. I’ve written to Katharine Viner asking if the business case stacks up – i.e. trying to talk her language. She is still away. We will see. Would have posted the whole text here, but managers down the chain are clearly touchy about our campaign to save the column, and are monitoring our posts.

    • Sorry – was that another typo from me? I was a bit agitated yesterday…

      Here’s an extract from a speech that Katharine Viner made in Oct 2013. She must have forgotten.

      We are no longer the all-seeing all-knowing journalists, delivering words from on high for readers to take in, passively, save perhaps an occasional letter to the editor. Digital has wrecked those hierarchies almost overnight, creating a more levelled world, where responses can be instant, where some readers will almost certainly know more about a particular subject than the journalist, where the reader might be better placed to uncover a story. That’s why Jay Rosen calls readers “the People Formerly Known as the Audience”; why Dan Gillmor calls them “the former audience”. In the era of the newspaper, there were few writers and many readers. Now, it can be hard to tell the difference. The People Formerly Known as the Audience don’t just sit there, and if you don’t listen to them, work with them, work for them, give them what they want and need, they have plenty of other places to go.

      The open web makes it possible to interact with this audience like never before, and collaborate with them to discover, distribute and discuss stories in an array of new ways.

      • I like this bit:

        The People Formerly Known as the Audience don’t just sit there, and if you don’t listen to them, work with them, work for them, give them what they want and need, they have plenty of other places to go.

        Indeed, as a good number of us may be about to demonstrate!

      • Sooner or later both blog posts are going to close, and then where is the chance to post this? Mail me the details of the speech please and if you don’t mind I’ll post it. I have no problem about looking or sounding churlish. And anyway as a newbie I can say rawer stuff than you and others like DsD, Beltway, suzi or tincanman.

  6. Being glasshalfempty, I am a bit sceptical that this will lead to anything as remotely satisfying as the present formula, but we shall see. I would have been more encouraged if (i) the old RR was kept going til something new was ready; and (ii) we the readers were invited to help design the replacement column or whatever. In the meantime I personally feel that we should keep a weekly RR going on the spill, and ask the Guardian to publicise this on the RR site.

  7. Yesterday I bought the Morning Star instead of the Grauniad. What a refreshing change! No slagging off of Jeremy Corbyn, just support for him against the Blairites! Plus album reviews, including a new Scottish band (for Dave) Four pages of sport. Puzzles. Lots of foreign news (Catalonia, Venezuela, Palestine, etc). If they have a website, we should move RR there!! 😉

  8. Just for the heck of it will somebody post a topic today? We don’t need Peter’s write-up, just an announcement of the topic and who’s in the chair. On both the RR threads still open.

  9. As much as it pains me to say it, I think I maybe kinda understand the comment about devoting resources to this blog. With so many comments, so many songs unheard of to the Guru (apologies if my salutation is out of date), it’s a huge undertaking week on week to whittle it down. Let’s say three hundred songs, three minutes each, that’s fifteen hours of listening and evaluating between midnight Thursday and Tuesday (?) deadline. But, having said that, if it’s been manageable for ten years, why stop now?

    • Ah, Catcher, you have been away, haven’t you? We’ve been doing our own guruing on RR for a couple of years now, ever since the last time they threatened to pull the plug. That’s what angryirishpunk is doing at the moment, at the bottom of Peter’s old thread.

      I love what you wrote on there btw but Peter isn’t likely to see it. Could you maybe email it to Michael Hann? His email is michael.hann@theguardian.co.uk

      Lovely to see you!

  10. MH has just posted this on the Guardian Music Facebook page:

    Dear Readers Recommend community,

    I had a meeting earlier today with people from our community and events departments. We discussed ways in which we could revive RR, albeit in a new form – but if it works we think it will end up being more interesting than before. The RR strand itself would be revived under the aegis of the community team: it would, of necessity, be less writing-based, and it would still need an awful lot of help from you lot. The other thing would be to set up RR nights, initially in London, but then (if successful) spreading around the country. We would invite your suggestions for themes for the nights, invite you to DJ (or you could all bring tracks along). Maybe we could manage a live band, or some sort of talk/Q&A to go with it. And a pop quiz. Everyone loves a pop quiz. That’s our initial thinking. We hope to have the first part sorted within the month.


    Michael Hann:

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