"Is anybody out there?"
I ask the question because I have just posted my first blog and am waiting for my first reply. I feel as though I've placed an ad in the blogging equivalent of a lonely hearts column.
"Fun-loving blogger, 32 (doesn't everyone lie about their age in these ads?), West London, seeks companions anywhere in the world (wide web) for chat, GSOH (good sense of hypertext)."
I have an overwhelming fear of rejection. Why would anyone want to read or reply to my blog? I'm convinced there are better-looking blogs out there. Some of them are probably into "e-upmanship", boasting about the size of their inbox.
My blog not only introduces me as the first viewers' editor for Sky News, but also tackles a subject which leads to a lot of comment —— the way we conduct interviews.
The "add comments" section stubbornly displays "0 already".
I give the blog a plug during a live studio slot about viewers' responses to the Labour MP's webcam spoof video of David Cameron.
And still I wait. Khalid comes to my rescue. And what's more, his comment is complimentary about the channel, praising our professionalism and interactivity, including weblogs. In the rush to add his comment to the blog, I almost press the "delete" button rather than "publish".
By the time I go home, there are three comments on the blog. I'm a little disappointed, but I console myself that it's three more than there were at the start of the day. I realise this blogging lark is going to be a lot tougher than I thought. It's a case of "blog eat blog".
I struggle all day with a 21st-century conundrum. What is the correct term for a large number of emails and texts in a short space of time on the same subject?
The problem has arisen because of the volume of comments in the inbox and on the "Have Your Say" section of the Sky News website about the remarks of Army chief Sir Richard Dannatt on Iraq.
I can't keep saying: "We've had lots of emails and texts…"
I reject several ideas: a "deluge" of emails (sounds as though we've been swamped and hardly appropriate on flooding stories), an "influx" (wouldn't use it about immigration), a "tailback of email traffic" (makes it seem we can't cope).
My best suggestion is "e-valanche". I hope Victoria Coren and the OED are reading this, because it could be the first published reference.
Number of blog comments: 15
Andrew Hawken, the editor-in-chief of MSN.com, is joining BSkyB to work on improving our websites. He seems like a go-ahead sort of guy with lots of good ideas.
I'm later forced to revise my opinion when I discover he is an Arsenal supporter. Worse is to come — I find out that he is a season ticket holder at the Emirates Stadium alongside the executive editor of Sky News and the executive producer of Kay Burley's Lunchtime Live programme. There are times when working at Sky is like being in the away supporters' stand at a particularly hard-fought north London derby.
I check the football results. Ten-man Tottenham have to rely on an own goal to scrape a 1-1 draw away. Arsenal cruise to a 3-0 home victory. It could have been worse, but I resolve (yet again) to avoid mentioning football in the office on Monday morning.
Number of blog comments: 22
I'm struck by a feature in one of the Sunday supplements asking people what they have recorded on their Sky+ planner. It goes to show the changing nature of technology, and how some innovations have become part of people's everyday lives.
On a recent visit to the Science Museum, I found telex machines and screens with the Prestel viewdata service (the forerunner of Ceefax and Teletext). In their day, they were "new technology", now they're gathering dust.
I remember the first time I used a fax machine with its shiny, curled-up rolls of paper, but I don't recall the last time I used one. Now, I send email.
I wonder how long it will be before the facsimile becomes redundant and ends up as a museum piece. Comment is free, but the fax is dated.
Number of blog comments: 31
Part of my job is to spot any potential news stories from the emails sent in by viewers. We receive a few from agents and customers of the Farepak Christmas hamper company which has gone into administration and is refusing to give refunds. It leads to a NIB in the business round-up on the TV channel, plus a story on both the website and the Sky Text service including comments culled from the emails. We soon have an "e-valanche" of emails on the subject.
Sky News announces that its headlines will be shown on 17 giant screens at 16 railway stations in the UK from early 2007, replacing the service currently offered by BBC News 24. As a regular train traveller, I always glance at the screens at stations, so I'm pleased it'll be Sky on view. Is this what the bosses mean when they talk about Sky being a "multi- platform provider"?
Number of blog comments: 38
I read some interesting research. It suggests that 16- to 24-year-olds watch an average of seven hours a week less TV than older people, spend 21 minutes longer online and send 42 more texts.
I also read an article about so-called Internet Addiction Disorder. It highlights problems faced by people who spend increasing amounts of time online.
How long will it be before the TV channels pick up on this? Will we see programmes such as "What Not To Share" or Victoria Stilwell presents "It's Me Or The Blog"?
Number of blog comments: 45
A few weeks ago, a colleague described me, in the nicest possible way, as a "grizzled old hack". Today, a different colleague tells me: "You're the future of journalism."
I close the comments on my first blog and immediately post a new one, inviting views on the way we present the weather from the video news wall.
The "add comments" section stubbornly displays "0 already". Here we go again. But I have to admit I'm starting to enjoy blogging. Who said you can't teach an "old blog new clicks"?
Paul Bromley's Viewpoint blog can be read on the Sky News website at: http://skynews3.typepad.com/my_weblog