I don’t have time to write real blog posts, as evidenced by my lack of updates here at the earley edition. Consider this a curated reading list of carefully selected items, which are of great and enduring import to the changing media landscape.
Or it’s just some random links I had time to take note of.
- Why Twitter matters for media organisations | Alan Rusbridger | Editor of The Guardian newspaper
- It’s an amazing form of distribution
- It’s where things happen first
- As a search engine, it rivals Google
- It’s a formidable aggregation tool
- It’s a great reporting tool
- It’s a fantastic form of marketing
- It’s a series of common conversations. Or it can be
- It’s more diverse
- It changes the tone of writing
- It’s a level playing field
- It has different news values
- It has a long attention span
- It creates communities
- It changes notions of authority
- It is an agent of change
That’s just an excerpt of Alan Rusbridger’s full speech at the 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, and it wasn’t all about Twitter. The full text, and audio, of Rusbridger’s speech, titled The Splintering of the Fourth Estate, is available from 702 ABC Sydney.
- Mobile Journalism Tools blog
- Blogging and commenting guidelines for journalists at The Guardian
- Participate in conversations about our content, and take responsibility for the conversations you start.
- Focus on the constructive by recognising and rewarding intelligent contributions.
- Don’t reward disruptive behaviour with attention, but report it when you find it.
- Link to sources for facts or statements you reference, and encourage others to do likewise.
- Declare personal interest when applicable. Be transparent about your affiliations, perspectives or previous coverage of a particular topic or individual.
- Be careful about blurring fact and opinion and consider carefully how your words could be (mis)interpreted or (mis)represented.
- Encourage readers to contribute perspective, additional knowledge and expertise. Acknowledge their additions.
- Exemplify our community standards in your contributions above and below the line.
- 10 ways journalists can use Storify | Zombie Journalism
- Organizing reaction in social media.
- Giving back-story using past content.
- Curating topical content.
- Displaying a non-linear social media discussion or chat.
- Creating a multimedia/social media narrative.
- Organize your live tweets into a story
- Collaborate on a topic with readers.
- Create a timeline of events.
- Display audience content from across platforms.
- Live curate live tweets from the stream.
- When Are Facebook Users Most Active? [STUDY]
as in – when is your online audience most active?
Here are some of the big takeaways:
- The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
- The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
- Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
- Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.
- The top 10 key lessons for hyperlocal journalism startups from ONA10
- Successful doesn’t mean beautiful
- Legal stuff isn’t rocket science
- There is no such thing as free content
- Follow the data
- Focus on money from day one
- Advertisers are buying your audience, not funding your stories
- Grants don’t come for free
- Focus on multiple revenue models
- Technology should be fast and cheap
- Stop whining and just do it
- Poynter Online – Shirky: The Shock of Inclusion and New Roles for News in the Fabric of Society
- Poynter Online – Rusbridger: Openness, Collaboration Key to New Information Ecosystem
- The Times’ Paywall and Newsletter Economics « Clay Shirky
- Virtualeconomics: News Corp’s paywall is about News Corp, not the Times
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.
The Journalists Formerly Known as the Media: My Advice to the Next Generation – Jay Rosen: Public Notebook
The newspaper business model will not be saved with the introduction of paywalls because it is a rejection of the newspaper business model. The current model, entirely based on advertising paying for news, is in the process of being left behind by those who would defend it. It is worrying that users will now be made to pay for news simply because marketing departments are unable to make online advertising work.
The central argument, that users need to pay for news to recoup costs, is an effective raising of the white flag. It’s an admission that, unlike at Google, the media industry is bereft of ideas about how to make online advertising profitable. This extends to the entire industry, all of whom are discussing the merits and timetables of a user-pays model. It just so happens that the News Ltd announcement has thrust that model back into the spotlight.
It reminds me of a rant from David Cross in the outtakes of Arrested Development: “If you can’t market that kind of show and get better ratings, then maybe the problem doesn’t lie here, maybe it lies with marketing”.
In The Australian’s Media and Marketing section on August 10, Mark Day said a paywall would allow newspapers to wrest back control of their business model. How? The way the music industry did, through the “grim enforcement of copyright, uniform action by the music companies and technological advances such as the iTunes micro-payment systems”. The music industry business model was all but destroyed by online, and rather than bludgeoning users to return to the good old days, they instead bow to the consumer who is willing to pay, but demands to control how, when, and what they pay for.
I disagree completely that “the [music] industry was able to wrest back control of its product”. The music industry was dragged kicking and screaming to its knees, finally relinquishing control to a micro-payment model after consumer outrage put a gun to their head and forced the issue. Introducing a user-pays model isn’t about wresting back control of the news product at all, and you could not pick a worse example of an industry to emulate than the music business.
As an aside, in the music industry consumers have always paid for the product. In the news industry, consumers have never paid for the product, advertising has. The cover price of a newspaper wouldn’t cover the cost of the ink on its pages.
Surprisingly there were a few things I agreed with Mark Day about (despite the column’s title, Bloggers may howl, but cash for content makes sense), like his examples of the three strands of news (happening, manufactured, investigated) and what kind of news people might be willing to pay for. It’s a valid argument, and one industry people are having everywhere, but I do wonder if it’s the sense of inevitibility that is now driving the debate. Now that the introduction of pay-per-view content seems inevitable, everyone is expending cognitive energy on the issue, speculating about how the paywall could work, or what content people are willing to pay for. This, instead of developing a model where advertising still pays for news.
Whether it was the classified “rivers of gold” or advertising on the page, the news industry has for some reason given up on that model working online. I find it inexplicable that nobody in the news industry, across the globe, can figure out how to make advertising work online. Google are just smarter, I guess.
No less than the president of media at Thomson Reuters, Chris Ahearn, recently penned a piece titled, Why I believe in the link economy
Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.
It is clear a free internet has the power to wreck the economic model of newspapers and news-gathering itself. But the irony is, if that were to happen, the most valuable elements of news — that which is investigated, tested and credible — would disappear because of a lack of funding. Ultimately, that serves no one. Society would be the loser.
We do a disservice to society by making that valuable and important news inaccessible, by telling society that, unless you pay, we will withhold the information that informs your understanding of the machinations of government and the economy.
I first started writing this post over a week ago. The biggest addition since then is the Associated Press plan for content charging online, assessed by Nieman Journalism Lab after they got hold an internal AP document labeled, “AP CONFIDENTIAL — NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION.”
- AP’s Online Strategy » Nieman Journalism Lab
- Why I believe in the link economy (Chris Ahearn, President, Media at Thomson Reuters)
- Will Rupert Murdoch Lead Way for Paid Online Content? – TIME
[“the pay wall would have destroyed them. Or cured them”]
- Economics for CEO dummies – The Future of Journalism – Open Salon
[“He made an unfortunately apt comparison between a stale bagel and his newspapers”]
- Pitfalls of the pay wall | Knight Digital Media Center
[“Before they jump into charging for content, news organizations must bypass the quality journalism argument and answer these five questions instead”]
- Rupert Murdoch’s move to charge for content opens doors for competitors | Media | The Guardian
- Economists on pay-per-view online print news – Terry Flew from QUT
Last week I tweeted about an article that literally took the words out of my mouth in relation to this blog post.
Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing | SPLICETODAY.COM
The first point there illustrates this post:
1. Consumers don’t pay for news. They have never paid for news.
Last week Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corporation would push ahead with the introduction of pay-per-view online content. Since then there have been suggestions Fairfax would follow, and the Boston Globe’s boston.com has also started to head in that direction.
My question is, “How much unique content is out there?”
The arguments in favor of paywalls have largely focused on the value of unique content that is produced by media outlets. I would like to see an objective analysis and review of unique content. I can only assume some sort of exhaustive analysis has informed the direction we are all being pushed towards.
I had already put this question to journalism academic Julie Posetti earlier in the week in an email, but Murdoch’s comments prompted me to ask the question again publicly.
Are there any in-depth studies looking at unique content in newspapers or their online sites, and what do those studies conclude?
On Thursday night, ABC’s Lateline Business reported plans to introduce paywalls at all News Corporation outlets by next year’s Northern summer. In a recorded teleconference Murdoch is heard saying that, to make a paywall work, News Corp would need to “make our content better and differentiate it from other people“.
RUPERT MURDOCH: We just make our content better, and differentiate it from other people and I believe that if we are successful, we’ll be followed by all the media.
Watch the video or read the transcript of the three-minute Lateline Business report on their site.
Or listen to what was said by just Rupert Murdoch here:
The wording used sounds more like a statement of future intent – this is what we must do – but much of the paywall argument to date has focused on the unique content that newspapers and their online sites are currently giving away for free. I think using the Wall Street Journal as proof of concept is a bit flawed, because it is very different to a “paper of record”. If WSJ are generally targeting a specific market with market-related content, then they could be described as a niche publication. Is a paper of record that covers the gamut of local, national and world news able to drill down and provide unique content? That is, content that won’t be easily found elsewhere, and provides value to the reader.
I’m hoping a study exists, or some clever postgraduate student is currently working on it. It would be illogical to discuss the possibility of making people pay for unique content without a thorough assessment of the quantity of same.
An interesting one that just popped up yesterday in The Australian’s Media & Marketing section was that subscription paid off for one site after just three weeks.
Subscribers turn profit for NZ site | The Australian
Murdoch On Leading The Charging Charge | paidContent
This Is Rupert’s Last Stand: Making You Pay
Rupert Murdoch to charge to view news websites by 2010 | Media | The Guardian
Roy Greenslade: Murdoch is wrong to charge for online content | Media | guardian.co.uk
News Limited working on paid net models | The Australian
Bloggers may howl, but cash for content makes sense | The Australian
To be perfectly clear on this, I don’t see a paywall working as a flat entry fee for the entirety of a masthead news site. It’s no secret that the internet’s disruption to the traditional business model is choice. People will only pay to get *exactly* what they want. Niche markets…you’ve heard it all before.
If there has to be an argument for paywalls, then the case of the WSJ is illustrative: people are willing to pay for premium industry insight and business-critical information. In Australia that might similarly translate to the business section of the paper, or quality reporting on state politics.
But then again, it might not. The biggest threat to the paywall will be free quality content available from places like the ABC and BBC.