I was genuinely shocked to hear late last week that Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome was shutting down. Whether accepted or not by the network of papers it was serving, it was a bold project with a plan to save newspapers with a new model for news.
I was lucky enough to visit the Project Thunderdome office in New York just after they started, while on my CNA scholarship trip in 2012. Between the New York office and visiting the Journal Register properties in Connecticut, I was able to meet Jim Brady, Steve Buttry, Matt DeRienzo and even John Paton. Read more
With all the talk about whether the content of newspapers is of a quality the public will be willing to pay for online, it took a search of our paper’s archives recently to remind me that … it is. It’s not necessarily the quality of the individual story (although that’s obviously there), but of the narrative – the archive – that presents an ongoing and valuable commodity.
A mistake of mainstream media has been to ignore and devalue that content.
So if there’s going to be a paywall, maybe it should be for archived content. Not just archived material that you can do a text search on, but a powerful database of related, interwoven “smart” content. At the moment that’s largely unavailable. Allow users to follow the background story, or stories, that give context to the current revision, whether that history is contained in text, image, audio or video content.
As such, it equally applies to any media, or content creator, but this particular post approaches it from the mindset of print.
I had reason to search NewsText, a database of newspaper archives, for the entire history of the Queensland Government’s lobbyist issue, where former government ministers were representing lobbying firms on development projects. During the search I saw clearly the linear progression and connectedness of these articles across months, even years, all presented chronologically. It’s there without tags or related story linking, just a regular text search. Where the authors were different, and in some cases even the publication, the full story still unfolded.
But that linear value is completely lost, both in the newspaper because it isn’t possible, and online when it isn’t utilised. In the newspaper it’s only possible to read each article as a standalone piece, without reference or even knowledge of the wealth of background to the story, or the ongoing work a publication or journalist has devoted to covering that story.
There is the capability to do it online but, in most cases, it’s not being done. People can currently pay for this archival content, with access to historical textual news searches through services like NewsText or Lexis Nexis, but the ability to do that should be provided online from the originating news source.
And why not monetise it?
It’s not like it’s a service offered now and, like academic articles, it could provide a story précis or the context in which the search terms are contained. Some kind of context would help the consumer decide if they want to pay for the entire article, or a sequence of related articles and/or other media content.
If it’s done it shouldn’t be prohibitive to pay for articles. Ease of access is the barrier to overcome, and anything over just a few cents per article would quickly become prohibitively expensive.
You only pay $1.69 AU ($0.99 US) for a song on iTunes, and the whole point of that purchase is to have a product you can use (listen to) again and again. Most people who purchase an article don’t intend to use it over and over again. It’s a one time, single use purchase – generally for reference only and a cheap price should reflect that.
It’s wrong that newspapers and other content creators didn’t start doing this much earlier, or adopt the best practices of somebody who has figured it out. It’s not just another “related articles” plugin, although it includes that, but a seriously robust system that makes the archive useful. Content on news media sites is archived online but, if it wasn’t for Google, it would be nigh on impossible to actually find it.
Everyone has failed at converting content to the web and leveraging the value of their archives. Not just mainstream media. Everybody.
As part of the ABS Internet Survey released the other week, it’s interesting to see total data downloaded in Australia has more than doubled in two years.
Out of the two posts I was writing from that survey this post was to be the more substantive.
The first post was NBN to roll out 100mbps – so why are 16 per cent of Australians still on dialup?.
Instead, I’ve just come back to it and will post it as dot points.
Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released their Internet Activity Survey for the December quarter of 2008.
According to the ABS release, their highlight was that wireless broadband subscription across Australia has tripled in just one year, from 481,000 in December 07 to 1.46 million in December 08, which is great.
Looking into the numbers, that massive jump in wireless broadband takeup represents 979,000 new subscribers, more than the entire country’s overall growth of 891,000 internet subscribers in the 12 month period (7.1 to 7.99 million). If the numbers don’t seem to add up it’s because 576,000 subscribers finally ditched their dialup connections. But dialup’s decline actually slowed compared to the previous 12 month period, to December 2007, when 862,000 subscribers left their dialup provider. That drop took dialup connections from 2.75 to 1.88 million, compared to the current period to December 08, where dialup subscribers dropped to just 1.31 million.
What I found unbelievable was to be reminded, in the week that the government rejected all bids for the National Broadband Network (NBN) to go it alone on the internet superhighway to heaven, is that so many Australians are still on dialup. Of the almost 8 million (7.996m) internet subscribers in Australia as at 31 December, 2008, 1.3 million of those are still on a dialup connection. That’s 16% of the country. If dialup is still the price gouge I remember it being 13 years ago, that’s a large proportion of the Australian online community who are overpaying for a vastly inferior product.
Apart from the people don’t have a choice, for reasons like rural or remote areas, I’d be very interested to see some breakdown on who still subscribes to dialup and why. Is there anyone who chooses dialup? Despite having highspeed broadband as a matter of course, I know one person who had to convince his parents recently it wasn’t worth holding on to their dialup subscription “just in case” old contacts still had the email address that was tied to it.
Do you know anyone still on dialup, and do you think they have a good reason to be? Apart from absolute necessity, I don’t see how it could be justified, and part of the NBN rollout should be reducing that 16 per cent significantly.PANPA students’ blog last night, asking how they determined Facebook to be a “media outlet”.
Based on a survey of six students, they listed Facebook as the media outlet most accessed.
They asked for feedback, so I provided it. Basically, the survey would be interesting if it was expanded to as many students as possible, and actually ask questions about what aspects of social networking use they consider to be news consumption, or news related.
The arrogance of mainstream media, QR codes a new business model?, and all the tools you’ll ever need
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Deconstructing the “real journalism” argument
Terry Heaton takes a shot at the unending “woe, the internetz!” cries of mainstream media.
“we’d get a lot further in the reinvention of professional journalism if we could get away from the belief that its an entitlement, one that’s necessary for the survival of the species […]
“Who do we think we are? Surely our hubris has blinded us, for professional journalism never was God’s gift to culture […] We have done some good things, but our arrogance was our undoing. That arrogance is behind the notions that ‘real journalism’ can’t be practiced outside the paradigm of contemporary professional news.”
(tags: online mediaindustry journalism media)
Why media companies are hosed
“Wal-Mart is a media site in that it sells its reach to advertisers, a reach that vastly exceeds two of the top newspaper sites in the world. This is why I keep harping on everybody that the future for local media companies lies beyond their own walled garden websites, and those who refuse to hear that (like, everybody) are sprinting to the tar pits.”
And an interesting viewpoint in the comments, suggesting QR codes could be the way of the future for cut-sized newspapers, providing direct mobile links to the full content.
“Sooner or later, some newspaper people are going to figure out that the way to go is a 16- 24 page paper that mostly serves as a table of contents for info on the web.”
(tags: mediaindustry future mobile qrcodes)
Tools for News
A huge collection of “Tool kits” for everything you need for online content creation, whether you call yourself a digital journalist, online journalist, or you create content for family, friends or any other community you’re a part of.
Check it out and get creative.
(tags: digital howto newmedia tools reporting tutorial)
Originally from my auto-posting daily Delicious links, I have cut this back to just a few links I have added comment to and that I think particularly useful. I have also retitled the post. This is in preparation for a blog redesign, where I no longer want posts titled “links for YYYY-MM-DD”. A live stream of Delicious links will also always be available in a sidebar widget and/or stand-alone page.
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- The Future of Print Media: QR Codes and Customizable Mailings
- Roy Greenslade: Memo to Society of Editors – redefine journalism
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If the news business model is broken, and 2009 is the year of the (individual) journalist – read Andy Dickinson – then will this be a new business model for the individual journalist? And will hackles be raised at the ethical implications for the “unbiased” news media?
“to make money in a world saturated by media, marketers need your help getting attention for their goods. Attention – eyeballs, ears, minds – is one of those intangible things that has huge value to companies needing to sell stuff. One of the quickest ways to start making money … is to do affiliate marketing. “
Originally from my auto-posting daily Delicious links, I have cut this back to just the link I have added comment to. This is in preparation for a blog redesign, where I no longer want posts titled “links for YYYY-MM-DD”. A live stream of Delicious links will also always be available in a sidebar widget and/or stand-alone page.
Today the Columbia Journalism Review has posed the question, How should journalists use Twitter? The question comes out of yet another emergency of global significance where the news spread rapidly on Twitter – this time the Mumbai terror attacks
Go to CJR to read their brief introduction to what is more of a newsroom discussion being conducted in the comments. There are some good points made.
This is my initial reaction…
Online news has been in various places (including the recent MEAA Future of Journalism report) described as more “event-driven”, with a lack of analysis that has formerly balanced out the print edition. I disagree that all news has been balanced in that way. Read more
I’ve been using a URL shortening service on my site called uTag since it was launched a few weeks ago.
UPDATE: I have removed the uTag script that automatically changed my URLs. And for brevity, the technical issues with uTag that I address in this post are:
- If the ad banner is left open after visiting a site, the user continues surfing to other websites, and later closes the ad banner, the browser will automatically refresh to the page first visited by following the uTag link.
- In the same vein, once the ad banner is closed, using the Back button will simply reload the banner frame, rather than going back to the linking site.
- A uTag Death Loop exists, whereby a uTag link to another uTag enabled site will result in an increasing number of ad banners stacked on top of each other. Read below for how this happens.
Put simply, uTag is a monetisation strategy for linking. Several sites already provide link shortening services which have become popular chiefly amongst Twitter users, who need a short link because their posts have a 140 character limit. Examples are bit.ly, is.gd, tinyurl.com, to name just a few. The difference with uT.ag is that it aims to pay people for providing those outbound links. Read more
I’m not going to go into the Future of Journalism conference last Saturday in any great detail.
There is a post on the Future of Journalism’s Wired Scribe blog with a roundup of several good links to posts by people who were observers and panelists on the day. Interested people can read a roundup there.
You can also read through the live Future of Journalism tweets from various people on the day.
What I’m providing here is just a quick video of a question I asked of news.com.au editor David Higgins about the use of social networking tools for newsgathering.
Video after the jump…
This blog has not been updated in almost two months. I would always prefer that were not the case and, as I’ve said before, I hope to remedy that with more frequent posting. For some reason my daily Delicious links haven’t been posting, but my Twitter updates in the sidebar have been flying along at an increasing pace.
On Monday I hit 700 Twitter updates since signing up to Twitter just over 12 months ago. Since Monday I have posted another 125+ updates, reaching nearly 300 updates in the first 11 days of September. Excessive? Read more
In case there is anyone out there who thinks they don’t have the time to listen to Jay Rosen for six minutes and eight seconds, below is a transcript of the video of Jay Rosen moderating the SABEW conference workshop, Using Social Networking in Business Reporting.
USING SOCIAL NETWORKING IN BUSINESS REPORTING
Jay Rosen, New York University and author of PressThink blog
It’s not about the technology … The whole art of doing any kind of social network reporting is in organizing people
This is one of the most important things about the internet. This is one of the things that’s changing the world most profoundly today – is the falling costs for people with the same interests, or people of like mind, to find each other, share information, pool their knowledge, collaborate, and publish.
I’m going to say it again. The falling cost for like minded people to find each other, share information, collaborate and publish back to the rest of the world, is a major factor changing government, politics, media, social life – at the same time.
USING SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS TO IMPROVE THE REPORTING OF A BEAT REPORTER
We’re trying to figure out how we can use Gillmore’s insights, and the tools that we have now – like blogging, social networking tools – to actually improve the reporting that a beat reporter does on their
the potential is there to mobilize thousands of people on a single story
beat, and we’re several months into that project, and I can tell you some of what we’ve learned from it.
LESSON ONE: SLOW & DIFFICULT WORK, NO BREAKTHROUGHS TO REPORT
Our first lesson is that this is slow and difficult work, and that we don’t have any breakthroughs so far. That it’s a lot easier to understand the concept ‘My readers know more than I do’, than it is to work out a regimen in which that knowledge can actually flow in and start influencing the articles, and scoops, and series and so forth. So it’s slow and difficult work. We don’t have breakthroughs to report yet.
LESSON TWO: THERE IS NO FORMULA
Secondly there is, and I know this is frustrating, no formula for doing it yet. Because we can’t easily point to somebody who uses social network reporting to complete their beat every day.
LESSON THREE: ECONOMIC REALITY LIMITS TIME TO DEVOTE TO SOMETHING NEW
Third, one of the things we’ve learned is, in the current economic climate in most newsrooms, especially in newspapers, reporters are under a great deal of pressure. They not only have to produce on deadline, they have to produce more than they used to. And, despite their enthusiasm for this project when they signed up for it in November, the economic realities of the newsroom are such that many of them have almost no time to devote to something new.
And this is very much getting in the way because the immediate pay-offs in terms of scoops, meeting your production quotas or breaking big stories so that you can explain to your bosses why you’re putting time into your network are not really there, so this has become very frustrating for some of our people and it’s very much a sign of the times and a sign of the economic climate out there.
LESSON FOUR: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
My fourth lesson is by far the most important lesson that I’ve learned in this work.
It’s not about the technology. It’s not about what tools you use. It’s not about which blogging software you adopt. It’s not at all about whether you should use Facebook or Twitter or some of the other technologies that are out there. The whole art of doing any kind of social network reporting is in organizing people, and how people are engaged to help journalists, rather than the tools and technologies we have for reaching those people. And it’s hard to overestimate how important this is and how easy it is to forget it.
LESSON FIVE: THE TEN PER CENT RULE
The fifth important lesson is sometimes called, among those who study user-generated content, the ten per cent rule. The ten per cent rule is that if 100 people sign up for your network, if 100 people sign up for your citizen journalism project, about 10 of them will actually contribute anything in terms of content. Whether it’s a blog post, whether it’s comments in a thread, whether it’s tips sent in by email, about ten per cent will actively contribute. And one of those ten will become an extremely committed contributor, what is sometimes called super-contributors in online organizing.
THE CHALLENGE: GIVING YOUR AUDIENCE SOMETHING TO DO
And so the real challenge is not getting people to sign up or participate, it’s figuring out how to give them stuff they can do that actually makes its way into your report, so they can see the results of what they do. And if you can do that, people will participate.
THE POTENTIAL: MOBILIZING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ON A SINGLE STORY
And so if you want to know why am I here talking to you about this, it’s because the potential is there to mobilize thousands of people on a single story.
WWW.TALKINGPOINTSMEMO.COM – a model internet news site
The model of an internet news organization is this one, because it is completely involved in filtering, processing, editing this huge inflow from readers, packaging it as news stories and blog posts, sending it back out which in turn stimulates more inflow from the readers.
Image by mushon via Flickr
I’m all for mobile news-particularly as it relates to providing information in developing countries-but at this early stage I would say mobile is going to be part of a resurrection of local news providers.Uptake could be too slow to save the paper
Help Dave Cohn take “Journalism” out of his blog description.
“I don’t care about that word [“Journalism”] persay. What I care about is the open and honest exchange of information, as I believe THAT’S what is needed to keep a democracy strong.”
I somewhat agree-I just can’t see chiefs of staff seeing it as anything other than a waste of time – could also be legal issues.
“Each reporter should take responsibility for the comments on[their]stories and[.]be encouraged to actively participate[.]”
Training then needs implementation.
“The best multimedia journalists are sometimes those who take it upon themselves to learn […] The online revolution[.]will never happen unless […] organizations make a financial commitment to training their existing staff”
Video has archive value too-don’t hide it!
“archive video to create a long-tail business[.]Broadcasting is so accustomed to the idea of instant obsolescence (what we do today doesnâ€™t matter tomorrow) that we miss opportunities for niche videos”
Originally from my auto-posting daily Delicious links, I have cut this back to just a few links I have added comment to or that I think particularly useful. I have also retitled the post. This is in preparation for a blog redesign, where I no longer want posts titled “links for YYYY-MM-DD”. A live stream of Delicious links will also always be available in a sidebar widget and/or stand-alone page.
Two weeks ago I posted that Australia’s ABC Online was down, showing an ‘outage’ message.
At the time I thought it was because of the Pope’s visit to Australia, but now it’s down again. It would be interesting to know why they’re down, or what’s causing the down time.
Again, the message on the screengrab is the same:
Weâ€™re unable to supply the service you have requested. This may be due to unavoidable technical problems or very high load on our site. We apologise for any inconvenience and anticipate that normal service will resume shortly.