Ada Lovelace Day

About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.


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All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The First Amendment, a great welcome back

Posted by Kevin Anderson



The First Amendment, originally uploaded by Kevglobal.

I’ve left some of the details purposefully vague for reasons that I hope are obvious.

A couple of years ago, I was in Russia working with a newspaper for the Media Development Investment Fund. While there, the publisher of the newspaper asked me to speak to her daughter’s university journalism class. I love talking to students about journalism so I quickly said yes.

A few hours before I was supposed to speak, the publisher took a phone. Russians have this singular ability to express displeasure without saying words. The publisher simply said in response to whatever was being said, “Awrrooo, awwrrrooo, awwrrooo,” was all I heard in her husky alto.

She got off the phone and had a quick chat with my Russian colleague. My colleague said, “The FSB has noticed you are here.” The FSB is the Russian Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB. The students had been talking about me on vKontakte, one of Russia’s most popular social networks, and they had called the dean of the journalism school.

My colleague continued, “They say, ‘Who is this Guardian guy. Why you no tell us?’”

My colleague tried to calm me down and told me not to worry. “Don’t worry. Last time Danish guy only detained for two days,” she said. I wasn’t comforted. I didn’t really care about being detained, well much, but it was Suw’s mother’s birthday the following Sunday. Suw is very particular about birthdays, especially the not missing part of them. At the moment I was more worried about that then the FSB, which I was pretty sure wouldn’t really care that much about me. However, in an abundance of caution, I let Suw know what was happening, and I told her to put the American embassy in Moscow on speed dial.

The publisher made a phone call to someone she thought had connections to the FSB, who could smooth things over. It must have worked because a few hours later, I was at the university speaking to a packed room of students in the international journalism programme.

I gave the presentation that I had intended to give about the changing world of journalism and the opportunities open for young journalists, and then I opened up the floor to questions. A few questions in, one student asked, “If you had to choose between writing a story critical of the government and going to jail, which would you choose?”

I quickly scanned the room, with the tune “One of these things does not belong” going through head. I was looking for the FSB agents or agents. No one jumped out, but I still took a moment to think carefully of what I was about to say. I simply said that thankfully I had never had to make that decision, and in fact, in Britain, if you didn’t criticise the government, you would face criticism not from the government but from your peers.

Things went pretty smoothly after that, but near the end, one of the students asked, “Would you care to comment on the press situation in Russia?” I looked at my colleague before responding, “No,” with a bit of a laugh. The room, fortunately, laughed with me. The student persisted, and I relented. I collected my thoughts, and then I said, “I am an American, who has worked in the US and the UK. For the past seven years, I’ve worked mostly in the UK. I miss the First Amendment every single day.”

As I said a few weeks back, I have come back to the US to take up an executive editor position overseeing a couple of newspapers. The picture above is from the stairs leading up to the newsroom of the Herald-Times-Reporter in Manitowoc Wisconsin, one of the two newspapers. When I saw the First Amendment written on the wall, it was a great welcome, back to the US and back into a newsroom.

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Print and digital: Managing the crocodile and the mammal separately

Posted by Kevin Anderson

I used to be a big booster of print-digital editorial integration, but I’ve had a change of heart for a lot of reasons, reasons which I’ll outline more broadly at some point. When I first got into online journalism in the mid-90s, to be honest, I probably was suffering from a little of resource envy. The legacy business just had a lot more money, but it also made a lot more money. However, I’ve changed my mind. Simply put, I think that print and digital are two entirely sets of products, and they often have different audiences. 

I was just summarising a Pew report on successful revenue models for local newspapers for Knowledge Bridge, the site that I edit for the Media Development Loan Fund, and I found this eloquent and excellent metaphor for managing media disruption from former Harvard business professor Clark Gilbert who is now head of Deseret Management Corporation, owner of The Deseret News in Salt Lake City. He said:

In Gilbert’s theory of media evolution, the Deseret News print product is the crocodile, a prehistoric creature that survives today, albeit as a smaller animal. He believes the News, which has already shrunk significantly, is not doomed to extinction if properly managed. Deseret Digital Media is the mammal, the new life form designed to dominate the future. Armed with graphics, charts and a whiteboard that looks like it belongs in an advanced physics class, Gilbert speaks with the zeal of the cultural transition evangelist he has become. He argues that the path ahead does not involve merging the crocodile and mammal cultures, but maintaining them separately.

That makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t’ guarantee success, but it’s a sensible starting point. The next step, he admits, is the challenging part, which is to execute that strategy, which involves a lot of wrenching cultural change. However, he’s already got some success to show for his strategy. Digital revenue has grown on average 44 percent annually since 2010, and it now makes up 25 percent of the groups revenue. For those on the crocodile side of the equation, while print revenue dropped 5 percent in 2012, at least circulation numbers are headed in the right direction. Circulation is up 33 percent for the daily newspaper, and it’s up a stunning 90 percent for Sundays, due in large part to a new national edition. 

It sounds like his excellent metaphor and smart strategy also is backed with some very good execution. 

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Leveson: Should there limits to freedom of the press?

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over there to to read and comment on the full version of this post. Thank you!

I am a journalist who believes deeply in the mission of journalism. Democracies need strong, independent news organisations to help maintain free societies, but as I think about whether Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, I think of what American Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote:

Without a free press there can be no free society. That is axiomatic. However, freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of a free society. The scope and nature of the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the press are to be viewed and applied in that

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

2012 US Election: Irritating, expensive and precious

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Strange Attractor has now permanently moved to charman-anderson.com. Please pop over there to to read and comment on the full version of this post. Thank you!

This is the first US presidential election that I haven’t covered in the US since 1992, and while it hasn’t been my primarily focus this autumn, I’ve still followed the race very intently. Occasionally, I’ve even done a bit of analysis for The Guardian and also for a project for Mick Fealty of Slugger O’ Toole fame. However, after covering 2000 and 2004 for the BBC and then 2008 for The Guardian, this has definitely been watching the race from afar. 

Some things haven’t changed, or really have got much worse. The permanent campaign that began back in the Clinton era

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

2012 US Election: Irritating, expensive and precious

Posted by Kevin Anderson

This is the first US presidential election that I haven’t covered in the US since 1992, and while it hasn’t been my primarily focus this autumn, I’ve still followed the race very intently. Occasionally, I’ve even done a bit of analysis for The Guardian and also for a project for Mick Fealty of Slugger O’ Toole fame. However, after covering 2000 and 2004 for the BBC and then 2008 for The Guardian, this has definitely been watching the race from afar. 

Some things haven’t changed, or really have got much worse. The permanent campaign that began back in the Clinton era has gone form being a bit of a rhetorical flourish to something approaching an accurate description of reality. As election day 2012 has approached, I’ve already heard talk about Paul Ryan and Chris Christie positioning themselves for 2016. 

It’s all been fuelled by a flood of cash. Yes, it is expected that this will be a $6 bn election, breaking the previous record by $600 m. A big chunk of this money came from Super PACs (political action committees), organisations outside of the campaigns. They have received a majority of their money from less than 200 super-donors, and ProPublica shows just how few people and groups are involved in the bulk of the donations. The amount of money with absolutely no disclosure of the source has surged since 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It was estimated that of the independent political expenditure, almost half would be “dark money”

My friends in battleground states have pleaded just to make the whole thing stop. The politicos should be ashamed of themselves. They have made little girls cry, I say with tongue firmly planted in cheek. 

Flawed but precious

While I’m watching this election from abroad for the first time in my life, there is another lens that I’m watching this election through. On election day, when national and some battleground polls seem to indicate an achingly close race in the US, I know that this is something to celebrate. Rather than the mark of a flawed democracy, as an American, I look at this pitched battle with as much pride as concern about some of the flaws in the process. Why?

Last year, I worked with Tunisian journalists as they prepared to cover their elections. I was touched by their honesty when they said at the beginning of the training that they had never covered an election in which they didn’t know the outcome. Think about that for a moment. For decades, journalists there knew who would win. There was no horse race, as flawed as that type of coverage can be. The result was known even before a single vote was cast.

For my new job, I was in Russia in September. My colleague there says that there is a joke going around in Russia. “Those poor Americans. They don’t even know who their president will be,” Russians will say sarcastically. They knew Vladimir Putin would win. When I was there, I heard a story about an election monitor at one of the polls. An ambulance came up, and a medic said, “Come with us. You are having a medical emergency.” 

American democracy has its flaws. The US system is not perfect, but it is still small ‘d’ democratic. In the past year, I’ve worked with a lot of journalists having their first taste of freedom, and it reminded me of powerful and precious the right to vote is. Go out today and vote! 

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Whither hyperlocal? Still in search of sustainability

Posted by Suw and Kevin

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During this period of disruption and transition, we journalists wring our hands about any number of things, and I suppose the thing I do genuinely worry about is local news. I’m not alone, and it’s spawned a huge number of hyperlocal experiments. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, most of these experiments have failed to develop into sustainable models for the future. At SXSW in the US, they had a panel looking called the “Hyperlocal Hoax: Where’s the Holy Grail?” The intro to the panel said:

Over the last decade, so called “Hyperlocal” websites, apps and services have been “the

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Ada Lovelace Day 2012 fundraiser and events

Posted by Suw and Kevin

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Ada Lovelace Day, the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering & maths that I launched in 2009, has gone from strength to strength in the last three years. I’ve been amazed at how much support it’s garnered and how much enthusiasm there is for it.

This year, it has become really clear to me that there’s a lot more that I could do with Ada Lovelace Day, if only we had a bit of cash to pay for it. Since its inception, Ada Lovelace Day has been run entirely by volunteers and by partnering with organisations like

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Digital first: We need to inspire change not just fear

Posted by Suw and Kevin

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Last week, the Journal Register Company announced their second bankruptcy in three years and I said on Twitter that I worried that digital first, as a strategy rather than the name of JRC’s parent company, was losing any positive connotation for journalists.

Like a similar comment I made about Advance/Newhouse Newspapers digital first strategy in cutting its print production days, my thoughts on the matter have a lot more nuance

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Digital advertising does pay, just not for newspapers, yet

Posted by Suw and Kevin

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Last week, WAN-IFRA said what many of us in digital journalism have known for a while, that we’re losing the battle for attention. They said that digital news audiences lack the same “intensity” of print audiences. Put simply, digital audiences are less loyal and spend less time with each digital news source. WAN-IFRA CEO Christoph Riess has put the problem this way:

We are not losing readers, we are losing readership. Our industry challenge is engagement. Because someone is a subscriber does not make him a loyalist.

Several people in the industry have been trying to raise the alarm for

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

A data first digital strategy?

Posted by Suw and Kevin

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Every once and a while reading comments on a good blog is rewarded. I’m an avid reader of Alan Mutter’s Reflections of a Newsosaur. His recent post on Big Data is well worth reading.

To date, publishers have applied the same business model to everything from print and the web to the latest mobile and social platforms: Build the biggest possible audience.

This approach, unfortunately, is exactly at odds with the point of Big Data, whose goal is to connect individuals with information specifically tailored to them.

The quicker Big Data applications develop, the faster the large but un-targetable audiences traditionally delivered