Thursday, 18 February 2010
Access Interviews celebrates its 3rd birthday with a facelift
Do take a look at Access Interviews which has celebrated its 3rd birthday with a facelift. The site aggregates a vast number of celebrity interviews - including Madame Arcati's - from the world's media. And a new search box at the top allows you to hunt down your sleb quarry, accessing in effect a unique sprawling archive. Tap in Kevin Spacey and 8 items spring up - so much for Mr Elusive! Tap in Katie Price and 44 audiences with Her Brightonage instantly appear for hackish research purposes. Meryl Streep scores a modest 16 articles. Molly Parkin 4 (two of them mine). It's an invaluable, free resource. And how the fuck it's very smart creator Rob McGibbon makes any money from it is anyone's guess.
Interviewers (including blogs and other sites) should link their work on Access Interviews - it's a simple thing to do and opens up your profiles to a wider audience.
Friday, 29 January 2010
Is there a living to made from online?
Freelance journalist turned solo web publisher Rob McGibbon explains why he hasn't given up on making a living online - and says he is amazed that so much money is thrown at the web without so much as a business plan.
"But, Rob, how are you going to make any money?" If I'd got a quid for every time I've been asked that question since launching Access Interviews.com a year ago, then, well, I’d be writing to you from Barbados while sharing a chilled Banks beer with Fred the Shred as we wondered where it all went wrong.
It is hardly surprising people ask me this. After all, it is the alchemical media conundrum of the digital age, which is baffling the sharpest of minds: How the hell do you make cash out of content that is more expensive than gold to produce when every web user sees it as free lead?
My situation is a microcosm of this all-consuming problem. To bring all you thoughtless no-shows who don’t know about AccessInterviews.com (AI) up to speed, I shall quickly re-cap: AI aggregates and catalogues links to interviews which are produced worldwide in every key media genre - newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, online.
We don't carry the content but instead direct users back to the copyright holder's website. Essentially, we are a bespoke search engine for premium journalistic content, as well as a promotional platform for journalists and publishers. Hacks love it, particularly for research, because there isn't anything else like it. Yes, I am a genius.
But what is the reality of being a lone freelance who creates a major website, then spends a vast chunk of his time running it and trying to make it a success? Very rewarding. Endlessly frustrating. Unbelievably challenging.
Add expensive to all that those - and knackering. Websites never sleep, so the past year has seen me working unpaid seven days a week during which I have researched and uploaded upwards of 15,000 interviews. My poor eyes. I am mad.
But I didn’t launch AI blindly. I knew it would be a massive commitment, and that any financial payback was a long-term gamble, but I have always had - rightly or wrongly - a spirit of adventure to pursue ideas rather than join the big-talking "What If Club" down the pub.
The internet is testing everyone, especially at the highest levels. Recently, I had lunch with a senior national newspaper executive who has personally helped spend untold millions on its websites, which simply give away his company's hard-won journalism. Why? I asked quite bluntly, and he replied flatly: "In the hope that it will come good." I have had the same conversation with others in similar positions across the UK media.
Amazing, isn't it? All this money is being thrown at the web without so much as a business plan. Surely, no intelligent business people would invest heavily in a scheme that promised high returns without checking the small print. Hang on a sec, has anyone heard of Bernard Madoff? Is the media investing in a colossal iPonzi? Ugh - am I!
The thing is, in a small way, I am already starting to get a return from AI, so maybe it is not all a scam. It has been a phenomenal struggle, but our audience has risen from nothing to 72,000 unique visitors in February who viewed 187,000 pages. Given recent growth patterns, these figures will double within a few months. That is a respectable audience.
While our traffic appears modest next to the millions that newspaper sites attract, we're not in the thrall of numbers for numbers' sake. We have particularly solid user loyalty and depth of visit statistics, which mean more to us at this stage than ephemeral volume spikes. We also have a "power audience" (yep, you media lot) which has attracted a sponsorship deal with the innovative travel debit card company Caxton FX.
Furthermore, the Perform Group has recently taken over our advertising solutions and its team there is confident that worthwhile advertising revenue is achievable given our audience and the quality of our filtered content. They see AI as a highly desirable boutique brand, not a shopping mall.
It has also been encouraging to see how much has changed in the way that content publishers edit their websites since we launched. Newspapers realise that an exclusive interview is a potent way to attract new online users, and increasingly they are channelling these into a dedicated "interviews" section with an RSS feed, rather than losing them within impenetrable sections such as sport, entertainment et cetera. The Guardian and The Scotsman have led the way, but AI needs every title to do this to have any chance of linking to all the latest interviews.
Glossy magazines are catching up with newspapers in terms of running interviews on their websites. I had a positive dialogue recently with Condé Nast managing director Nicholas Coleridge, who is keen for the company's titles to further exploit their unrivalled interviews access. Soon, AI will launch the "Magazine Rack" which will promote the forthcoming interviews in magazines, which could even help drive readers to the hard copies.
In January, I had an excellent meeting with Leigh Aspin, head of interactive at BBC Radio 4, and he wants its entire interviews inventory to be automatically linked on AI. This will be a phenomenal step forward. I have had similar chats with the people at Sky and ITV.
All this adds up to a bigger and more interesting website. One of my main hopes is for AI to become a journalists' community site, and already many journos upload their back catalogue because they see the benefit in having their portfolio of work from many titles in one place.
Pretty much my entire journalistic career has revolved around interviewing. I believe that the interview is the essential piece of content that unifies all media genres and all readers, users, or viewers. Everyone is interested in someone. I think the interview will become ever-more vital to the media during the digital age.
I hope to see a day in the future when AI is the all-powerful central search hub for the world's interviews. Every journalist, newspaper, magazine, TV and radio station will automatically link their latest exclusives to us so they can reach our global audience and enjoy a share of our advertising revenue.
Around about this time, I will bump into an old journalist pal who will ask me how the heck I managed to make any money out of AccessInterviews.com. I will look at him through my pebble lens glasses and say: "Well, it all came good. Thank ****."
And I won't be the only one with that feeling of monumental relief.
Thursday, 28 January 2010
The most popular interview of 2009 in A.I’s ‘Most Accessed List’ was the Mail on Sunday's moving piece by freelancer Nicky Murfitt with Katie Piper, the model whose deranged boyfriend sent a stranger to throw acid in her face.
Second was the Hudson River hero pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger talking on Radio 4's Today programme. Third was the Daily Mail's interview with two year old Oscar Wrigley who became Mensa's youngest British member.
AccessInterviews.com – which was founded by freelance journalist Rob McGibbon – catalogues interviews from all media genre and links its readers back to the copyright holders’ websites. The website is free to users and is sponsored by credit card company Caxton fx.
The ‘Most Accessed List’ also shows that new technology has given radio stations a growing level of reach with their interviews. Stations such as Absolute enjoy unrivalled access to personalities and the ability to embed video and audio of these in-depth encounters has given them soaring popularity.
Showbiz still shone through with Katie Price being the most popular over all subject. The most read interviewer was The Independent's Ian Burrell. The most popular source was The Sun.
Now in its third year, AccessInterviews.com will unveil a major revamp of its design and functionality in February which will include new social networking features and video content.
Rob McGibbon said: “Interviews are the enduring heartbeat of the media and continue to be the best way to reach new audiences. Radio is undergoing its own revolution in this arena and capitalizing on its unrivalled access by filming the interviews. These interviews are often way more revealing than the equivalent on TV chat shows.
“The business of interviewing is busier and more popular than ever. And it is ever more important to every platform of journalism.”
THE FULL TOP 10s of 2009
1. Katie Piper, Mail on Sunday, Nikki Murfitt
2. Chesley Sullenberger, Today BBC Radio 4
3. Oscar Wrigley, Daily Mail, Julie Moult
4. Ricky Gervais, Absolute Radio, Cristian O’Connell
5. Richard Curtis, The Independent, Ian Burrell
6. Simon Cowell, Daily Mail, Rebecca Hardy
7. Gordon Brown, Daily Telegraph, Mary Riddell
8. Chris Evans, The Times, Ben Hoyle
9. Katie Price, ITV, Ant and Dec
10. David Tennant, Sunday Times, Arabella Weir
1. Katie Price
2. Alistair Darling
3. Natascha Kampusch
4. Georgi Dochev
5. Ricky Gervais
6. Simon Cowell
7. Leonardo DiCaprio
8. Rupert Penry-Jones
9. Chesley Sullenberger
10. Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean
1. The Sun
2. Absolute Radio
3. Radio 4
5. Daily Mail
6. The Times
7. The Independent
8. The Guardian
9. Vanity Fair
1. Ian Burell, The Independent
2. Jim Naughtie, Today, Radio 4
3. Cristian O’Connell, Absolute Radio
4. Alison Smith-Squire, Daily Mail
5. Emma Cox, The Sun
6. Jenny Johnston, Daily Mail
7. Robert Crampton, The Times
8. Jon Wilde, Mail on Sunday
9. Sam Wostear, The Sun
10. Ginny Dougary, The Times
Monday, 18 January 2010
By Laura Oliver
We give developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. Today, it’s indexing interviews across the web from Access Interviews.
1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
My name is Rob McGibbon and I am a freelance journalist with a background in writing – mainly celebrity interviews – for various national titles. I launched Access Interviews.com in January 2008 after two years of development.
The website provides a unique index to the world’s interviews with subjects of all kinds and in every category. AI is a totally original concept, which is not bad going in such a crowded web world!
The site works on an open editorial platform. Web editors on newspapers and magazines and individual journalists submit links to the interviews, which they have published on their own websites.
Access Interviews does not carry the actual content but instead links back to the copyright owner’s website and automatically maintains a full searchable archive of the links to interviews that are submitted.
2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
It is useful in many ways to journalists. It is ideal for research because Access Interviews only carries genuine, professionally sourced interviews.
This material is often the most important for a journalist. You can save a lot of time you might otherwise waste on Google by going to AI first.
Access Interviews is also a great tool for journalists and publishers to promote their work. Individual writers can create a portfolio of their interviews, which is particularly useful for freelance journalists who work across a number of titles.
Newspapers or magazines can also promote their archives as a way of drawing new readers to their website or hard copy.
Some magazines and provincial newspapers have small circulations but get great access to high profile personalities because of the credibility of the publication.
Our website is a powerful independent platform to showcase exclusive work and bring a new audience to the work of smaller publications.
The AI site is also the perfect way of establishing the true origin and copyright of an interview. This is incredibly useful for journalists who originate so much material, only to see it ripped off in this digital world.
3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
I am already developing three other websites that will be launched later this year, but the priority is to get Access Interviews fully established and being used by the journalists.
There are already extensive plans to expand AI, so this is my focus.
4) Why are you doing this?
More is definitely not always best and the internet is living proof. It is congested with worthless and often inaccurate content. Interviews are the golden source of content and I want to create a 24-carat resource for journalists and to generally promote the value of the professional interview.
5) What does it cost to use it?
It is free to use and there is no need to register. Click and go. How can you resist?
6) How will you make it pay?
Regretfully, the money side is very much phase two. I expect any business-minded person would hear me say that and scream or laugh.
Essentially, my plan is to make a great website that becomes indispensable to journalists and users generally. By doing this, Access Interviews will have a powerful readership which, in turn, will make it an interesting proposition for big brand advertisers.
By Laura Oliver
A new website is aiming to create an archive of online interviews. Launched last week, Accessinterviews.com provides direct links to newspaper, magazine and other interviews online, allowing users to search for one-on-ones with news personalities.
The site will also feature interviews by its founder, freelance journalist Rob McGibbon, and a blog-style ’secret diary of an interviewer’.
It’s a very ambitious project – in an interview with Press Gazette McGibbon says he has been developing the self-funded idea for two years – but could prove a useful resource for journalists as the search for interviews can be filtered by name, subject matter, author and publication.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Journalist Rob McGibbon has celebrated the first birthday of his website Access Interviews - which aggregates journalists’ interviews from all over the web - by creating the Access Interviews Awards 2009.
Most accessed interview of the year was Henrietta Zuel, by Matt Dickinson of The Times.
More fun are his irreverant categories such as Most Inept Interviewer of the Year - winner DJ Les Ross’ now legendary chat with Hardeep Singh Koli.
Says Rob: “This was a supreme master class in all the things you are not supposed to do as an interviewer. No preparation, no clear line of questioning, an attitude to totally piss off your subject.”
Winner of the Gone Native award went to Sun Bizarre editor Gordon Smart for “Kidnapped by Coldplay“.
Rob says: “We accept that a certain degree of chumminess is necessary to get the goods from an interview, but Gordon showed enough warmth to accelerate the melting of the ice cap while schmoozing with hack hating Chris Martin and his band mates (do the others have names?).
“Gordon gushed and puffed until Coldplay fell down on his tape recorder. To prove he was well onside he donned a Coldplay stage outfit, drank their booze, used their cars, their jet, their LA hotel and even joined their football team.
“But it is his name-checking of the flunkies that brings him the Gone Native trophy: ‘I watched from the sound desk with the group’s tour manager, Franksy, PA Vicki and Arlene, who works for the management.’
“We applaud Gordon’s ligging abilities in securing this junket at (we hope) the record company’s expense and for getting a centre spread out of a reportage preview to an interview. But it was all worth it because the resulting world exclusive interview produced a stunning revelatory line: “We miss X-Factor“.