Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soundtracked ebooks launch in UK

The Telegraph reporting:
Publishers are capitalising on the popularity of electronic books, or ebooks, by releasing versions of literally classics with orchestral scores and sound effects such as crunching gravel added in.
Using technology to monitor how fast a person is reading on their portable device, the ebooks play a soundtrack that matches the storyline and adds the correct noises as the action unfolds.
The first so-called “enhanced ebook” was released in the UK last Friday. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of the Speckled Band is soundtracked with driving rain, thunderclaps and blood-curdling screams.
Books by Oscar Wilde and Rudyard Kipling are also available, with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare to follow.
The new technology has been launched in the UK by Booktrack, which was co-founded by Peter Thiel, who is a board director of Facebook and the man behind PayPal, the successful online payment company.
Booktrack claims to add “movie-quality sound” to books. According to its website it is a “totally immersive experience that pulls the reader into the author’s world and allows the real world to melt away”.
The soundtracked ebooks run on tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad. At present they are thought not to play on e-readers such as Kindle.

How Younger Adults React to Brands on Social Networks

emarketer reporting: 
Do millennials really interact most with brands on social sites?
The Barkley survey did find that millennials were more likely than older adults to “like” a brand on Facebook, and did so more often. And interaction rates were somewhat higher as well.Older social media users have grown more likely to follow brands on social media sites as they’ve gained more experience interacting on them, but younger adults still outnumber them in this activity. Millennials’ enthusiasm for making friends with brands, though, may not be too far above average.
The “American Millennials” survey, conducted by Barkley in advance of September’s Share.Like.Buy conference, found that over half of millennials, defined here as consumers ages 16 to 34, liked checking out brands on social media sites. That compared with just over a third of older adults.
The survey, fielded in partnership with the Service Management Group and sponsored by Boston Consulting Group, also found that a third of millennials like brands more if they use social media. That was nearly double the percentage of older adults who said the same. Still, over 30% of millennials thought it was annoying for brands to be on sites like Facebook and Twitter—making this group less tolerant of social media marketing than those 35 to 74.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Online Gaming Audience Defies Stereotypes

emarketer reporting: 
Audience demographics shift as new gaming possibilities open up in social and mobile
The online gaming space is an exciting place for both gamers and brand marketers. In particular, the growing appeal of casual and social games is encouraging users to play them across multiple platforms, from PCs and consoles to smartphones and tablets. And that appeal is growing beyond the typical gamer demographics.
“Gone are the days when only males ages 18 to 34 were hardcore gamers or only moms were pelting their Facebook friends with requests for hens or heifers in social games like FarmVille,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Online Gaming Audience: Lines Blur as the Market Grows.” “Today’s core gamers are also playing casual games. More women are using game consoles beyond the Nintendo Wii, and their game choices include many genres.”
eMarketer estimates that social gaming will reach 61.9 million US internet users by the end of this year, or over a quarter of the online population. Growth, which is beginning to level out after strong increases, will be driven by the rise of mobile social gaming.The audience for all types of mobile games (excluding pre-installed games on feature phones) is even greater, and growing more rapidly. This year, 73.5 million mobile users will play games at least monthly, up 22.1%. By 2015, more than 100 million US consumers will play games regularly on their phone.

Will New Apple Chief Mean Shift for Publishers?

Adweek reporting:
Apple, its products adored by consumers all over, has nonetheless had a complicated relationship with publishers, who have battled with the tech giant over its intractable position involving the sale of content on its devices. But those who have railed against Apple's hard-headedness are unlikely to see any satisfaction immediately from Steve Jobs’ transfer of power to Tim Cook, at least for now.
Cook, Apple’s COO, who filled in as acting CEO twice when Jobs took medical leaves of absence, has been described as the mild, soft-spoken counterpart to the passionate but autocratic Jobs, but no less competitive.
“Cook is a very competent manager, so it is unlikely that he would change what is working so well for them,” said one publisher who requested anonymity, citing ongoing talks with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. “Later, he is likely to be more accommodating than Jobs since he doesn't have (no one could have) Jobs credentials as a genius.”
Back when Apple released the iPad in the spring of 2010, it was quickly hailed as an antidote to the publishing industry’s waning advertising revenue and its circulation woes. But those hopes quickly faded as Apple, under the direction of iTunes boss Eddy Cue, proved itself unmovable on two main issues key to publishers. Publishers hoping to sell subscriptions and single copies through Apple’s iTunes store had to cede control over information about their customers—data they consider critical to renewing and upselling their readers. A secondary objection was the 30 percent cut Apple took of each sale.
“I don't get the impression that Steve Jobs and Tim Cook disagree on this issue,” Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer Inc., said in an email. “Even if Jobs is no longer able to participate in Apple's decision-making process, Cook will execute on Jobs' vision, which is to take as large a cut of revenue and control as much of the subscription experience as publishers will allow.”

Let Readers Share E-Books, And They’ll Really Take Off

paidcontent reporting:
Limits on sharing and borrowing are limiting widespread e-book adoption. Remove those barriers, new research says, and the e-book market will expand even faster than it already has. Here’s that and some other new statistics…

Each week, e-book journalist Charlotte Abbot (@ leads an hour-long Twitter discussion with publishing industry innovators, identified by the hashtag #followreader. Yesterday’s discussion, about e-book buyer behavior, included reps from leading book industry research organizations Book Industry Study Group and Bowker PubTrack Consumer (on Twitter here). The two companies collaborate on research about consumer attitudes toward e-book reading. Here are some of their newest findings (and their earlier findings on e-book power buyers are here):
—About 15 percent of book buyers have adopted e-books. Steve Paxhia, who wrote the report, was surprised at e-book readers’ loyalty to the format. “It turns out that when readers go digital they rarely return to print,” he said.
—E-book buyers buy more books than print book buyers. In May 2011, over 30 percent of e-book buyers said they’d increased the money they spend on books, versus 23 percent who decreased their spending. However, the increases in dollar spending are lower than the increases in units purchased—i.e., people are buying more e-books but those books may be lower-priced.
—Half of e-book buyers have been downloading free e-books. Consumers expect e-book prices to stay low or drop lower.
—Biggest inducements to buy an e-book: Free sample chapters and online reviews.
—About half of e-readers are purchased as gifts—but less than 1 percent of e-books purchased are as gifts. (Overall, 14 percent of books are purchased as gifts.)
—The study supports other research finding that women are more likely to use dedicated e-readers and men are more likely to use tablets. That reflects the genres they read, Paxhia said: E-readers are more likely to be used to read fiction (a category dominated by women) while tablets are more likely to be used to read nonfiction.
—Only 12 percent of tablet users read e-books on their tablets.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Front pages from 2001 to 2011 tell story of 9/11 decade, from WTC attacks to war on terror and bin Laden’s death

Poynter reporting:
A decade has passed since newspapers began telling the story of the
post-9/11 world.
Ten years of front pages describe the events that followed the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people: The war on terrorism; the war in Iraq; the capture and hanging of Saddam Hussein; the war in Afghanistan; the rebuilding of Ground Zero, and the death of Osama bin Laden.
We have compiled and posted some of these front pages below, with thanks to the Newseum and all the newspapers that have helped create and preserve Page One memories from the last 10 years.
September 11, 2001: Newsday
September 12, 2001: The New York Times (Related: “Portraits of Grief” & additional stories)

September 12, 2001: The Washington Post (Related: Recent & archival stories)

September 12, 2001: Sun (Bremerton, Washington)

How Steve Jobs has changed (but not saved) journalism

Poynter reporting:
In the past five years, Jobs’ Apple has simultaneously disrupted, transformed and aided the news industry.
It created or at least defined almost every aspect of mobile consumer technology that is now part of media’s future and its fastest-growing segment. The iPhone and iPad created inescapable trends. They were not just devices but whole new product categories and new content economies.
The iPhone was not the first smartphone. But it was the first to employ a full-face touchscreen, to decide finger taps and swipes were better than buttons, and to unleash the enormous power of third-party apps. Its largest competitors — Android and BlackBerry — have largely followed Apple’s lead in their devices and software.
The iPad was in some ways less new; it borrowed the same operating system and app environment from the iPhone. But in other ways it was entirely different — a whole new category of product between phones and laptops.
The iPad has proven to be an ideal device for long reading sessions, often at home during leisure time. As such, it is competing with print products that had served that purpose, while also offering new long-term hope of a digital transition for publishers.
Most media companies have had to bend to the market created by Apple, as 88 percent of national U.S. newspapers have an iPhone app, and most that don’t already have an iPad app are probably planning on one.
Jobs not only influenced news publishing indirectly, he also worked with publishers directly. With the debut of the iPad in 2010, Jobs personally met with executives from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and perhaps others.

MIT Unravels the Secrets Behind Collective Intelligence – Hint: IQ Not So Important

Singularity Hub reporting:
When it comes to a successful group, the easiest way to ensure victory may be placing women on the team. MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence seeks to understand how humans get better (or worse) at solving problems as they work together. They studied hundreds of people working in small groups and found that they could determine a “C factor”, a key statistic that would predict if a group could perform well in a variety of tasks. C factor was more important in determining group success than the individual IQs of the people in the group. In other words, having a successful team isn’t just about having smart people, it’s about having people who will work together well. And what gives a group a high C factor? Women. Well, to be more precise, a high level of social sensitivity and willingness to let everyone talk equally. As forms of collective intelligence grow in importance, as we see with crowd-sourcing projects like Wikipedia, social search engines, and the scientific community, the value of socially aware individuals is going to arise as well. Is the future going to be inherited by the peacemakers?
MIT’s research into measuring collective intelligence was lead by their own Thomas Malone in partnership with Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Woolley. The results were published in late 2010 in Science Magazine and have since been discussed in over 30 major press agencies. Everyone loves to talk about how women make teams better, probably because it fulfills some of our most beloved (reviled?) 20th Century Western stereotypes. “Women Are the Key To a Successful Team” makes such a great headline, doesn’t it? Despite my own use of that trope (mea culpa), Malone and Woolley didn’t find that women per se were the key to a good C factor. It’s just that social sensitivity, which was overwhelmingly the leading ingredient in high C factor, was overly correlated to women. In fact, when they controlled for the number of women in a group, it was shown that it was the emotional sensitivity scores which won out.

Aug. 26, 6 p.m. The NYT launches a Twitter feed for live coverage of breaking news

NiemanLabs reporting:
As Hurricane Irene storms its way toward the Eastern seaboard — and as news organizations scramble to cover it — The New York Times has launched @NYTLive, a Times-run account featuring “in-depth Twitter curation of major news stories by New York Times editors.”
In the hour since the feed’s been live, it’s served as a hurricane-tweet clearinghouse, sharing tweets from the Times’ Metro desk, @NYTMetro, as well as — quite interesting from the whole individual-vs.-institutional-brand perspective — Times reporters Thomas Kaplan and Brian Stelter. (The latter, who’s currently in North Carolina covering the storm, also had a link to his Twitter feed featured on the Times’ homepage earlier today.)
The paper’s main account, @NYTimes, has over 3.6 million followers; the brand new @NYTLive has only 2,200. Not at all shabby for an hour-old account, but why wouldn’t the Times use its biggest Twitter megaphone? First, it solves a problem faced by many news organizations, the small and especially the big, that use Twitter to share stories across several topics and coverage areas. By breaking out the breaking news from the everyday news — the you-care-about-it-now from the comparatively evergreen — @NYTLive gives the Times the flexibility to live-tweet big stories without flooding its main account and overwhelming the other stories that are sent out on its feed. You may recall that Andy Carvin recently met some criticism for over-tweeting, the main complaint being that his uber-curation drowns out the other Twitter feeds users follow; to the extent that Andy Carvin is a one-man news organization, he’s dealing with the same problem. Stelter himself used a separate account, @brianstelternyt, to livetweet a tech conference earlier this year, but the account seems to have gone dormant.

Games, Pop-Ups, 3D, and More – The iPad is Changing Books Forever

Singularity Hub reporting:
I grew up on a healthy regimen of Choose-Your-Own Adventure books, Nintendo, and role playing games, but even I am intimidated by the new brand of interactive storytelling that is flooding the iPad. More designers are exploring how the frenzy around Apple’s tablet computer is evolving e-books into something new. Sure, you can find traditional children’s picture books directly translated onto the iPad that simply let you flip through on a touchscreen, but there’s so much more the medium allows. Embedded games, interactive backgrounds, responsive audio, non-linear stories – “books” on the iPad have become something much better: immersive experiences. I’ve got a host of videos to show you what I mean, check them out below. Combining games, books, music, and voices in compelling ways, these early attempts to revolutionize storytelling on the iPad are exciting…but they’re just the beginning. Give it a few years and the lines between these different ways of telling stories will blur so far we’ll have to come up with a new name. ‘Books’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.
First on our list of the kind of interactive stories is Hogworld by Snowcastle Studios in Norway. Hogworld has the look of a classic children’s story book, with a lovable pig-bunny hybrid named Gnart taking a trip to the dentist with his bee friend Bibi. Snowcastle let me play the beta, and I can tell you that from the beginning this is clearly not a simple text translation brought to the iPad. You must guide Gnart through a world, exploring everything around you to find the clues needed to proceed to the next stage in the story. Yet it’s not simply a video game either. Hogworld is clearly aimed at engaging the listener, guiding them loosely through a very well crafted tale. Here’s a look at Hogworld, with narration still in Norwegian (don’t worry, the beta was in English, and the story will be coming to the iPad in Q3 2011):

Study This: E-Textbook Readers Compared

wired reporting:
...If you're a student, they make a vital addition to your campus survival kit. They can be pricey, and they won't eliminate your need for a laptop, but the initial cost leads to long term advantages. Hardware e-readers give you the ability to rent or borrow digital versions of your textbooks, and in cases where you have to buy an e-book, digital titles are usually cheaper than the hard copies. They're also more interactive, letting you highlight the study points, take notes and share them, and click hyperlinks to go deeper into a topic. Also, the convenience of reading everything on one lightweight device instead of lugging a backpack stuffed with books can't be ignored.
Still, the e-textbook industry is young, and distribution remains shaky -- read our companion piece "Are Textbook Publishers Blowing It...," for more about the roadblocks facing e-texts on campuses.
Here, we run through the most popular options. And you could easily just read books on your tablet, or even on a notebook PC using desktop readers like Nook Study, or a web-based reading app like Amazon's new HTML5-powered Kindle Cloud Reader app. For this reason, we've included a few non-e-ink options at the end.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

new digital textbooks

 mediashift reporting:
..... CourseSmart is already there when it comes to pricing. Five major educational publishers joined in 2007 to start the company, which provides more than 90 percent of the e-textbooks in use today. Students save up to 60 percent by subscribing to a text for a semester versus buying a new book, and CourseSmart has tried to reward their investment by adding the ability to take notes, search by keyword, highlight text, and email passages to classmates. But the e-books are still faithful replicas of their print counterparts, meaning they look and read the same way and are updated at the same slow pace.
CourseSmart has a good reason for this, as a spokeswoman explained in an email: "While e-textbook adoption is growing rapidly, many students still prefer print textbooks and this makes page fidelity crucial. CourseSmart enables all students, whether they are using a digital or print edition, to literally be on the same page."
...The idea is to think of e-textbooks more like software than online books. Throw out the concept of a book altogether and develop movable, interactive units that can be updated whenever necessary, just like an operating system or mobile app. The concept isn't entirely new, but the emergence of the tablet, especially the iPad, makes it much more feasible. A decent tablet provides the immediacy and portability of a book, the interactivity and multimedia experience of a computer, and at $500, the cost of what the average college student pays for a semester's worth of textbooks.

Inkling of the Future
A San Francisco startup called Inkling is banking on that pitch, at least. The company is rolling out more than 100 higher education "titles" (they don't call them books) via tablets this fall semester and hopes to see them take hold with college instructors and students. Inkling works with publishers to adapt print textbooks for tablets, a six- to 12-week process that turns linear, static chapters into modules with interactive graphics, video and web links, highlighting and note-taking functions, and a learning network in which students can converse about what they're viewing. Whole titles sell for about 20 to 40 percent less than their print versions, or individual chapters can be purchased for $2.99 to $16.99, depending on the book. The buyer owns the content outright versus temporarily subscribing to it.
Academic publishers are seeing the potential of Inkling and similar providers like ScrollMotion and MindTap, and I am too. Imagine reading a book chapter about journalism's watchdog role in American history. Then imagine sprinkling that reading with video of President Nixon's resignation speech, the Supreme Court's judgment in the Pentagon Papers case, or an exchange with fellow students about whether it's worth going to jail to protect a whistle-blower's identity.
Now -- and here is the part that most intrigues me -- imagine the publisher updating that chapter to include WikiLeaks and the new levels of access to and scrutiny of our government that it represents. The addition takes however long the writing and editing take, with no production delay to worry about. In Inkling's world, much like McAdams' imagined one, updates can be made at will, whenever the publisher deems them..
"The Inkling platform can push an update out to an iPad at any moment," said Matt MacInnis, Inkling's founder and CEO. "The student gets a badge saying there's an update available and would you like it. It's more like a website than a book."necessary

Only 50% of U.S. Adults Use Social Media

mashable reporting:
Social media is not ubiquitous. In fact, says a Pew Internet survey released on Friday, just half of U.S. adults are logged on to sites like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.
In Pew’s phone survey of 2,277 adults, 65% of Internet users said they use social media. For the first time, 50% of respondents — regardless of whether they use the Internet — said that they did the same.
But they’re less than ecstatic about it. In a word cloud that the study made to show responses to the question “What is one word that describes your experience using social networking sites?” The most common answer was a standard “good.”
It’s easy for the quick growth of social media use to give the impression that everybody uses it enthusiastically. In a similar study that Pew conducted in 2008, just 29% of all Internet users said that they used social media — its adoption has more than doubled in three years.
But email is still the most popular online activity among Internet users, with 61% of survey respondents using it every day. Search engines are the second-most popular activity, with 59% of respondents using them daily. Less than half, just 43%, of Internet users said that they used social media daily.
Growth of social media is largely fueled by seniors, who still aren’t nearly as likely as younger age groups to use it every day. In the past two years, social networking use among Internet users age 65 and older has increased 150% while social media use among Internet users under age 30 has remained about stable (according to Pew, 83% of them use social networks).

Why QR Codes Are Here to Stay [OPINION]

mashable reporting:
If you raise the subject of QR codes among tech early adopters, you are likely to elicit a passionate response. Some people think QR codes, those scanable black and white squares on everything from billboards to product packaging, are on an unstoppable growth trajectory, while skeptics are quick to dismiss them as a fad.
This reaction is common whenever new technology formats or standards are being decided upon. Pundits want to exhibit their knack for predicting the future and stakeholders (of which I am undeniably one) want to make sure their format wins out. The general public, meanwhile, tends to lay in wait for a particular format to show dominance.
QR codes, in particular, make great fodder for debate because the codes are inherently big and ugly. So far, they have not experienced the same popularity in North America as they have enjoyed abroad, in part because many consumers are still getting used to seeing these codes and figuring out what to do with them.
In my opinion, there is little question that these real-world hyperlinks are increasingly going to be part of our reality and everyday life. Although QR codes won’t be the only technological option for hyperlinking in the real world, I believe they’ll soon be recognized as one of the best-suited options to connect items in the physical world to the Internet.

New Social Media Analytics Tool Compares Engagement Across Competitor Profiles

mashable reporting:

Quick Pitch: SimplyMeasured’s competitive analysis tool compares engagement across competitors’ social media profiles.
Genius Idea: Giving context to social media engagement numbers.

Most social media analytics tools will measure how a profile’s fan base has changed and what percentage of those people are actively interacting with it. Most also give some indication as to what “share of voice” a brand has among its competitors in the conversation that’s pinging around social networks.
But to invoke the Double Rainbow guy, “What does it mean?”
A new tool from startup social media analytics company SimplyMeasured attempts to add some context to the numbers by showing customers how their pages stack up to those of their competitors.
“I think a lot of agencies and brands are sending these metrics up the chain: ‘Engagement is really important and we’ve got all this engagement, we have a million fans and 10% of those engaged with us,’” CEO Adam Schoenfeld says. “And the CEO or executive is saying, what does that mean? how big is that?”
With the new tool, it’s easy to make a comparison such as “that’s twice the amount of engagement our closest competitor has.” It’s also easy to learn from competitors’ pages by looking at what type of posts have returned the most responses for them. A post-by-post breakdown comes packaged with handy charts in an excel sheet.

Richard Nash: Writing And Reading In The Digital Age

Huffpost reporting:
Shivani: How should publishers think of readers? How should they reorganize themselves to come closer to readers? Can you be as far-fetched as possible in pursuing this speculative exercise?
: Publishers need to not even think of readers as readers. We need to go straight from recognizing their existence to recognizing that they are active participants in the making of culture, not just passive consumers, and the publisher needs to actively engage them in that, not just finally grasp they're important and start grabbing their email address.
Engaged reading, after all, produces writing, like your criticism, or like anyone tweeting a book rec, and doing #FridayReads. We should support reading, but I almost think we need to skip right past recognizing readers to recognizing we're facilitating engaged writing and reading coming from an array of creators, some writing books, some trying to write books, some writing about books, some writing literally and metaphorically on books, etc.
A publisher should be convening them all, not merely selling the work of the few to extract money out of the pockets of the many.
Shivani: How about readers? Do they have a new role and responsibility in finding good books?
: Yup. No one gets a free ride in this system. I'm deeply influenced by Clay Shirky and am very lucky to have him as an Advisor for Cursor. Clay is mistakenly viewed as a techno-utopian whereas in fact Clay merely notes that the internet helps solve collective action problems. Just like nuclear physics, that can be used for good or ill.
The internet enables participation but if you don't participate, you gain nothing. As in any civil society, you have to read, you have to speak, you have to vote.
Shivani: How should books be priced? Is there something wrong with pricing today?
: Everything is wrong, with the pricing and the product. All kinds of things need to happen at once, above all to diversify the product range. Not just hard, and paper, and digital, and not just books. To start with, we need options that allow people to buy at very limited risk, that is, for free or close to it. The reason being that the reader has to pay with hours of her life just to sample the book. Once a reader is hooked on a writer, the fear of wasting one's time is gone.
The notion that we're "devaluing" a product by charging less for it is hokum--we do far more devaluing of books by publishing sequels, knockoffs, celebrity memoirs etc. People pay $25K/year to do an MFA--I don't think there's a problem with the loss of cultural value around books. So limiting the range of means by which writing and reading connect to books priced $15 to $25 is economic and cultural suicide..

Friday, August 26, 2011

The newsonomics of loss

NiemanLabs reporting:
It’s not just newspaper employees who suffer when a newspaper dies, as is happening to MediaNews’ papers in the Bay Area. It’s a loss felt across the community.
...In short, Bay Area News Group (BANG), which has had 15 separate titles, announced it was combining 10 of those titles into two new ones (the East Bay Tribune and the Times), closing a printing plant and gaining other production efficiencies. Gone into history will be such titles as the Oakland Tribune, the San Mateo County Times, and Contra Costa Times, along with another 8 percent of the overall workforce — or another 120 or so jobs, 48 in newsrooms.
The Bay Area News Group cutback, in fact, reflects much of what we are coming to miss. So let’s look briefly at this newsonomics of loss, a function of our times, even as much is being rebuilt — and gained — at the same time: 
Identity: The soon-to-departed (in November) Oakland Tribune is 137 years old. It will be subsumed under the East Bay Tribune nameplate. The East Bay Tribune will stretch from Oakland south to Fremont, a stretch of 27 miles and at least 1.5 million people, many of whom don’t feel connected to the geography Media News now asserts. Newspapers are all about community identity; they have both reflected it and provided rallying symbols of it. Business efficiencies may argue for “East Bay,” but readers’ senses of what’s local are something else again. With this decision, Oakland, for one, has lost something of itself. 
Reporting: Most of the jobs cut in this re-org are on the production and printing side of the business as BANG closes one of its four regional printing plants. However, 48 jobs are being cut from the East Bay newsrooms, about a quarter of the unionized editorial workforce, and that’s got to affect news-gathering...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

MediaNews Group Consolidates Eleven Bay Area Papers Into Two

paidcontent reporting:
California’s Bay Area residents are a couple months away from losing many of their local newspapers, as the Bay Area News Group—a division of MediaNews Group—consolidates eleven newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, into just two: The Times and the East Bay Tribune. In addition, the San Mateo County Times will be consolidated into the Mercury News.
As of November 2, the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald, and East County Times will be consolidated into The Times. The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be consolidated into the East Bay Tribune. The San Mateo County Times will be consolidated into the Mercury News.
In a press release first sent to employees this afternoon, the Bay Area News Group (BANG) referred to the consolidation as “streamlining.” About 120 employees, out of 1500, will lose their jobs.

Could Mobile Apps Be Evolutionary Dead End?

adagedigital reporting:
...This summer, the app ecosystem started to show signs that it may be fraying at the edge. Several major players in media and social networking, including the Financial Times, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have all launched rich web applications. These sites, thanks to the magic of HTML5, run in any modern browser and come very close to matching the functionality of their "native" app cousins.
Now none of these companies has abandoned their Apple or Android apps.
Still, the sudden interest in web apps is notable. There are arguably three factors driving it.
First, HTML5 has finally matured into a strong alternative to native iOS and Android apps. These web apps can even run offline.
Second, it shows that perhaps developers are frustrated that they need to support multiple platforms. Android devices alone come in so many shapes, sizes and resolutions, that supporting them is a difficult and expensive challenge. Web apps solve this conundrum.
Finally, there's freedom. Apple, most notably, recently changed the way that developers can sell content from within their applications. If a developer links out to their own online store, they must also allow consumers to purchase content using an iTunes account. However, Apple takes a 30% cut of the latter. challenge. Web apps solve this conundrum...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are books dead, and can authors survive?

Guardian reporting:
At the Edinburgh international book festival this weekend, Ewan Morrison set out his bleak vision of a publishing industry in terminal decline. Here's a shortened version of his argument.
Will books, as we know them, come to an end? Yes, absolutely, within 25 years the digital revolution will bring about the end of paper books. But more importantly, ebooks and e-publishing will mean the end of "the writer" as a profession. Ebooks, in the future, will be written by first-timers, by teams, by speciality subject enthusiasts and by those who were already established in the era of the paper book. The digital revolution will not emancipate writers or open up a new era of creativity, it will mean that writers offer up their work for next to nothing or for free. Writing, as a profession, will cease to exist. 
Generation Y and the End of Paper.
First of all I'd like to clear up the question: "The end of Books?" This is misleading as it seems purely technical – a question of the paper mill versus the hard drive. Of course the paper book will survive, you may say; it will reinvent itself as it did before. Haven't future projections been wrong in the past? Didn't they say Penguin paperbacks would destroy the print industry in 1939? That the printing press would overthrow Catholicism after 1440? That home videos would destroy cinema?
On the paper front, depending on whom you listen to, statistics vary wildy. Barnes and Noble claims it now sells three times as many digital books as all formats of physical books combined. Amazon claims it has crossed the tipping point and sells 242 ebooks for every 100 hardbacks, while Richard Sarnoff, CEO of Bertelsmann, admits that the future of the paper book is tied to the consumption habits of a generation: the baby boomers. Generation Y-ers (the children of the boomers) already consume 78% of their news digitally, for free, and books will follow suit. Interpreting Sarnoff's calculations, the paper book has a generation left.
....But let's leave the survival of the paper book alone, and ask the more important question: Will writers be able to make a living and continue writing in the digital era? And let's also leave alone the question: why should authors live by their work? Let's abandon the romantic myth that writers must survive in the garret, and look at the facts. Most notable writers in the history of books were paid a living wage: they include Dostoevksy, Dickens and Shakespeare. In the last 50 years the system of publishers' advances has supported writers such as Ian McEwan, Angela Carter, JM Coetzee, Joan Didion, Milan Kundera, Don DeLillo, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Philp Roth, Anita Shreve, Graham Greene, Muriel Spark and John Fowles. Authors do not live on royalties alone. To ask whether International Man Booker prizewinner Philip Roth could have written 24 novels and the award-winning American trilogy without advances is like asking if Michelangelo could have painted the Sistine Chapel without the patronage of Pope Julius II. The economic framework that supports artists is as important as the art itself; if you remove one from the other then things fall apart.
And this is what is happening now. MH READ MORE

Ampparit julkaisee Facebookin kuumimmat kommentteineen

M&M reporting:
Uutisportaali Ampparit.com on lisännyt palveluunsa sosiaalisen median osion, johon on koottu sosiaalisen median palveluissa jaettua ja tykättyä sisältöä.
Sosiaalisen median osiossa uutisten ja netti-tv-ohjelmien lisäksi esiin nousevat verkossa suosituimmat videoklipit, valokuvat, sarjakuvat sekä verkkokauppojen ja markkinapaikkojen tarjonta. Sisällön painopiste on Suomessa.
Osio näyttää suosituimmat sisällöt Facebookissa, Google+:ssa ja Twitterissä sekä kategorioittain ja kauppapaikoittain jaettuna.
Uusimpien juttujen sijaan osiossa ensimmäisenä ovat tämän hetken kuumimmat jutut. Lisäksi Ampparit näyttää, mitä ihmiset ovat Facebookissa julkisesti eri aiheista kommentoineet.
"Erityisesti 'Facebookin suosituimmat' -kategoriassa esiintyvät lukijoiden Facebook-kommentit ovat välillä hätkähdyttäviä. Jotkin kommentit ovat olleet hyvinkin railakkaita, aivan kuin ne olisi tarkoitettu yksityisesti vaikkapa hyvälle kaveriporukalle, ei koko internetille. Kyseisen ilmiön laajuus yllätti meidät suuresti", kertoo Ampparit Oy:n toimitusjohtaja Petteri Hannonen tiedotteessa.

Bestselling Self-Published Author Signs Deal With Simon & Schuster

paidcontent reporting:
John Locke, the first self-published author to sell over a million copies of his books on Kindle, is the latest to sign a deal with a traditional publishing company, Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS). But the company won’t get a cent of his digital sales.
Simon & Schuster will handle the sales and distribution of the print editions of Locke’s Donovan Creed novels into stores (including online retailers like Amazon). Locke retains the print and digital rights and will continue to handle e-book sales himself. His agent, Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich, represented him in the agreement with S&S.
In a statement, Locke said, “There are many paths from author to reader,” John Locke said, “and any path that puts the reader first will be successful. This agreement represents an exciting departure from the norm, and I applaud Simon & Schuster’s incredible vision, and their willingness to provide a vehicle that allows all readers traditional access to my books.”
Locke is not the first successful self-published author to enter into an agreement with a traditional publishing house, and his distribution agreement with Simon & Schuster is more limited than the deals that some other self-published authors have made. In the most well-known instance, 26-year-old Amanda Hocking signed a $2 million deal for four new books with St. Martin’s in March. St. Martin’s is also re-publishing her Trylle Trilogy in both print and digital editions.

Miramax Launching Multi-Title Facebook Movie App In U.S., UK & Turkey

paidcontent reporting:
Watching movies on Facebook isn’t new—Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX), Paramount and Universal each are trying variations on the theme. But today, paidContent can report, Miramax is launching the largest-scale Facebook streaming movie venture yet, the latest in a series of moves to mine the most ore possible from its rich catalog. The Miramax eXperience is now will go live first on Facebook with 20 titles for rent in the U.S. and 10 each in UK and Turkey; France and Germany are due in the near future.
In another twist, films rented with Facebook credits can be watched on iPad through a browser-based player and on Google TV.
Facebook users can rent the films for 30 Facebook credits, the equivalent of $3; the rental is active for 30 days but the viewing window is 48 hours once you start to watch.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Western Europe Sees Huge Shift Toward E-Books

paidcontent reporting:
Europe has lagged behind the U.S. in widespread adoption of e-books, but a new report suggests that they are finally taking off. The e-book market in Western Europe grew by 400 percent in 2010, a new report finds. By 2015, e-books should make up 15 percent of total book sales in the region. (By contrast, in the U.S., they were already at 6.4 percent in 2010.)
Futuresource Consulting, a UK-based consulting firm, published the research on e-books and e-readers. “Despite all this rapid growth in demand for e-books in Western Europe, the market is still in its infancy, representing less than 1 percent of total consumer spending on books,” Futuresource market analyst Fiona Hoy said. “Moving forward, there are enormous opportunities within the market and our forecasts show Western European e-book revenues will reach €1.6 billion by 2015, accounting for 15% of total book spend and representing one out of every five books sold in the region.”
As a point of reference, e-books in the United States comprised 6.4 percent of consumer spending on trade books in 2010, according to the most recent data available from BookStats—up from just 0.6 percent of the trade market in 2008. Total net revenue from trade e-books in 2010 was $878 million.
Some other findings from Futuresource’s report:
—The UK is ahead of other countries in terms of e-book sales and adoption, generating close to half of all Western European e-book spend last year despite only accounting for 15% of the region’s spend on print titles. The country is on track to achieve sales of £100 million this year, with e-books predicted to make up over 5 percent of total UK consumer spending on books.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Social Media Marketing By the Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Mashable reporting:

Donny Deutsch, the former adman and talk show host, once recounted a story about a Mitsubishi Super Bowl ad that was tagged with the URL seewhathappens.com.
The ad got 600,000 clicks, Deutsch said, which prompted the carmaker to ask, “Is that good?” Deutsch answered: “We told the client it was great, so it was great!
The Mitsubishi campaign ran almost eight years ago. Have things changed? Well, as the infographic below shows, there are a lot more metrics, but are they great? One way to tell is to look at what the absolute top responses are across the prevailing social media platforms — Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In many cases, the numbers are intoxicating. Coca-Cola really got 86.5 million impressions for a Promoted Trend on Twitter? Twelve million people really tuned in to watch a man put an iPad into a blender? The numbers just tell part of the story, but as they say, you can’t argue with the numbers.You can only take issue with how “great” they are.

How Are People Using Twitter? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Mashable reporting:
Take a look at Lab42‘s findings, all dolled up for you in an infographic that asks 500 Twitter users how they use the service, how they determine who to follow and a whole lot more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Facebook's Next Moves: Media And E-Commerce

Business insider reporting:
Today, games make up the bulk of third-party apps on Facebook. But the company sees big opportunities in two other areas: media and e-commerce.
Facebook games director Sean Ryan explained this morning that the game platform is the most mature of Facebook's third-party platforms -- it's been around for four years, and popular games from Zynga and other developers make up a big part of Facebook revenue.
Next up, the company is focusing on media -- particularly music and video apps. Sharing music is a no-brainer, but Ryan said offering straight movie rentals, as Facebook did with "Batman: The Dark Night" earlier this year, doesn't have enough of a social element to make it all that interesting for Facebook. Instead, the company is looking for ways to
Beyond that, Facebook sees big opportunities in the social side of e-commerce.
Ryan offered concert and sports ticketing as an example.
Nobody likes to go to concerts and ball games alone, but the online ticketing experience today isn't very social -- usually you send a message to friends asking who's interested, then somebody buys a block of tickets and gets reimbursed later.
Imagine, though, if you could share information about which tickets you've already purchased -- including where they're located. Friends who wanted to join you could see how many tickets you have left and exactly where they are, or buy their own tickets nearby.

Value of Google plus

Hubspotblog reporting:
Google+ has joined the box of social networking tools marketers should know and leverage. It’s brand new, and it's shiny. But isn’t your toolbox getting too heavy with all the new social media tools and new communication platforms you need to use?
In order to answer this question, you will need to understand the business value of Google+. Social media marketing is expanding, and its correlation to lead generation has become tighter. In this episode of the Weekly Marketing Cast, we discuss exactly how Google’s new social channel impacts your business:

Retail, CPG Pour Most New Dollars into Online Ads

emarketer reporting: 
More than a third of new online ad spending this year will come from the two industriesLI
The US online ad market is on a sharp trajectory this year, eMarketer estimates, with spending set to increase 20.2% to $31.3 billion. And based on an updated industry breakdown, retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) will account for the largest shares of new spending.
Retail, already the highest-spending vertical online, will add over $1.3 billion to online budgets this year for growth of 24% and a total of $6.78 billion. The CPG industry will spend $640 million more to advertise online this year than last year, and will continue to grow spending by 14% to 29% each year through 2015.
Despite these strong gains, CPG will only be the fourth-highest-spending vertical by 2015, with automotive and financial services ahead in overall spending. Both of those industries will also post healthy growth throughout the forecast period after double-digit drops in spending during the recession.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Kingdom and the Tower: NYT launches beta620, a crowdsourced testing ground for new projects

NYT reporting:
It’s been nearly half a century since the days of The Kingdom and the Power, and as the Times has sped from a daily to an hourly to a minute-by-minute miracle, the divides that have distinguished the paper from the people it serves have been steadily dissolving. The storytelling apparatus housed at 620 8th Avenue still has walls around it, definitely, but those walls are becoming increasingly transparent. And the latest evidence of that is beta620, the long-awaited website the Times just launched for the purpose of showcasing — and, significantly, soliciting feedback about — experimental projects for NYTimes.com.
“It’s all about spurring innovation — coming up with ideas that no one has thought of before, and having a place for them,” says Marc Frons, the Times’ CTO for digital operations. And not just innovation, but “continuous innovation.” The hope is that, in highlighting experiments as they evolve — and in providing a shared space for shaping their evolution — beta620 will be a place where developers, designers, readers, journalists, and pretty much anyone with an interest in the Times can engage in an ongoing conversation about its future. And about, specifically, the tools that will shape that future.
“We want to make it a very participatory site,” Frons told me, “as well as a showcase for our new toys.”
Some of those toys include: TimesInstant, an app that uses the Times’ Article Search API to produce search returns, Google-style, as users type; the Community Hub, a dashboard featuring stats on users’ Times-based comment history; The Buzz, a graphical overlay that visualizes articles’ social media stats; Longitude, an app that uses Linked Open Data to produce an interactive, geographically-oriented map of the day’s news; and the Smart Search Bar, a within-the-homepage search functionality that provides semantically-aware returns. (There’s also, less significantly but just as awesomely, an HTML5-based crossword web app.)

Why News Corp. Should Buy AOL

 Wired reporting:
OK, everyone knows there’s history here. AOL’s last merger with a big television, movie and news-media company was a disaster. So was News Corp.’s last big purchase of a web company offering an active community. But Time Warner and MySpace then (or now) couldn’t do for AOL and News Corp. what AOL and News Corp. could do for each other today.
Let’s start with the fundamentals. As Kara Swisher writes at AllThingsD (owned, through subsidiaries, by News Corp), AOL’s stock price has dropped to the point where the company is ripe for a takeover.
“It’s almost free, given its cash on hand,” says one large investor: $458.7 million, against a market cap of just $1.09 billion. AOL’s stock is just $10.22 a share, following lower-than-estimated revenues in the second quarter.
News Corp, on the other hand, just issued a quarterly statement containing what Rupert Murdoch called “the most robust balance sheet in our history.” It’s quite a turn around from just a month ago, when the company’s future appeared to be in doubt.
...The web is the future of media delivery. Rupert Murdoch knows this. This is why he appointed John McKinley, an AOL veteran, to be News Corp’s chief technology officer and President of Technology for its digital media group in February. With MySpace, Murdoch just made the wrong bet.
AOL and Huffington Post have found all new ways to monetize the work of millions of contributors, striking a better balance between original reporting, online celebrities and aggregate crowdsourcing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Global Advertising: Consumers Trust Real Friends and Virtual Strangers the Most

Nielsen reporting:
Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries.
Ninety percent or consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.
“The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly,” says Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company.”
However, in this new age of consumer control, advertisers will be encouraged by the fact that brand websites are trusted at that same 70 percent level as online consumer opinions.
... In contrast, sponsorships hold the least sway amongst Swedish (33 percent), Latvian (36 percent) and Finnish online consumers (38 percent). In comparison, 72 percent of United States Internet consumers trust brand sponsorships, placing the United States 12th out of the 50 countries represented in the survey.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nielsen Ratings Tool Designed to Compare TV, Web Can metrics firm finally nail down Web standard?

Adweek reporting:
Measurement company Nielsen has long offered the industry standard for TV ratings, but can it do the same for the Web?
Later this month, Nielsen will release a new service that measures online ad campaigns in a way that’s similar to how branded ad campaigns are measured on television. Online Campaign Ratings, which rolls out Aug. 15, uses demographic data from Facebook and other publishers and technology from Nielsen to provide advertisers with a TV-style gross ratings point metric that considers reach, frequency, age, and gender.
“Branded advertisers are now, more than ever, demanding a metric online that is credible and that is comparable to other media,” says Steve Hasker, president of media products for Nielsen. “This is a drumbeat that’s been coming for awhile, but now it’s more than a drumbeat.” This isn’t Nielsen’s first foray into Web analytics, but Hasker said it breaks new ground in giving advertisers accurate comparisons between TV and the Web.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why Unified, Cross-Channel Customer Data Is Essential for Marketers

Hubspotblog reporting:
When asked about the effectiveness of their social media campaigns, most marketers will point to their latest Facebook Insights report or the size of their company’s Twitter following. When asked whether Facebook or Twitter influenced their customers’ decisions to purchase however, the data gets a bit fuzzier. Your company’s fan Page may get a lot of comments, but what exactly does that mean for your marketing strategy? A 2011 report released by Experian on digital marketing trends highlights the gap between the multi-channel data that most companies have and the insights they need to improve their marketing.  “Even though most companies are doing multichannel marketing, very few are truly integrating their cross-channel initiatives. Gaps include the lack of a unified customer segmentation framework across channels as well as incomplete measurement of the impact of each marketing touch on customer behaviors.”
Furthermore, a Forrester study of U.S. interactive marketing professionals puts numbers to that statement. According to Forrester, 57 percent of marketers measure each of their channels, but only 28 percent measure the influence of one interactive channel on another.
Customers do not use channels in isolation. A customer using Twitter is likely to have a Facebook account and may even cross-post content to each network. Real interaction with your company or brand is much more tangled, and different channels are influential at different points. Here’s some marketing research food for thought:
28 percent of customers perform shopping activities from their phone while inside brick-and-mortar retail stores.
The Experian Report found that combining social media and email significantly increases consumer response to that email.
In a survey by Pricegrabber, half of online shoppers in the winter of 2010 said they used social networks to share great deals on products.

Another Dismal First Half for Magazines Newsstand sales estimated to be down 11%

AdWeek reporting:
Royal wedding-related sales notwithstanding, the first half is turning out to be another disaster for magazine newsstand sales, according to Magazine Information Network, a clearinghouse for retail sales.
MagNet reported U.S. unit sales were down 11 percent to 354 million year-over-year. Dollar sales slipped almost as much, by 8.7 percent to $1.6 billion. MagNet attributed the decline to the sluggish economy and closing of Borders bookstores, among other factors.
The figures come a few days before the Audit Bureau of Circulations is slated to release publishers’ circulation statements covering the first half.
The decline would have been much worse if not for William and
Kate’s wedding. MagNet estimated earlier that royal wedding-themed covers generated $13 million in retail sales, mostly benefiting celebrity weeklies.
That said, celeb weeklies, a key part of newsstand sales, are expected to have contributed much to the dismal first half. One of them, OK! Weekly, has already slashed its rate base for the second half, following soft newsstand sales.
The pain wasn’t limited to the celebrity category. Among other big newsstand sellers, Rodale’s Men’s Health was off 13 percent to 431,792, although the monthly managed to limit its total circ decline to only 1.3 percent to 1.9 million with a 2.8 percent increase in subs. Sibling title Women’s Health’s newsstand was off even more, 14.3 percent to 315,075. Its total circ was flat at 1.6 million with a 4.4 percent increase in subs.
Condé Nast, while it derives only 13.5 percent of its total circ from the newsstand, is also feeling the pain. Its overall newsstand sales were down 6.6 percent, with 14 out of its 18 titles either flat or down for the half. While overall circ was flat at 18.6 million and Condé delivered a 3 percent bonus over the circulation it promises to advertisers, the company indicated it was managing rate base closer than in the past.
Most notably, Glamour, Condé’s biggest newsstand seller, was down 17.5 percent on stands to 453,707. The reliably strong single-copy seller Vanity Fair was up 1.6 percent, to 349,566. The company’s biggest newsstand gainer was Vogue, up 12.7 percent to 360,400.
Archrival Hearst reported its newsstand sales, including newly acquire...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Forbes New Newsroom for the Digital Era Is Now Up and Running

Forbes reporting:
So, what exactly is The New Newsroom? Well, it all started a few years ago with a diagram first scrawled across a white board (you can see it here, in my initial post on our Newsroom plans). It soon became part of a presentation explaining what we were up to at True/Slant, the digital news startup I founded that was purchased by FORBES a year ago. We knew we were onto something when we saw how our investors reacted to it. Tim Forbes, a board member, removed the page from the deck, folded it, then slid it into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. Jonathan Miller, the former CEO of AOL who had been a board member before going to work for Rupert Murdoch, nodded with knowing approval when we discussed it over lunch. He made me promise to send it to him.
At its core, The New Newsroom we’re building at FORBES is made up of four different teams (in red) working together to harness real-time data, effectively the “News Signals” that are absolutely vital to running any digital news business today. The data forms a powerful feedback loop that informs departments in every corner of our company — and the new breed of entrepreneurial journalist that is key to powering our content engine. The New Newsroom is about collaboration — between editorial, product, design, production — and, yes, the advertising sales and marketing departments, too.
Here’s who occupies The New Newsroom:...

Journalists and Statistics: Paying Attention to the Data of a New Media World

Forbes reporting:
I’m pretty obsessed with watching our traffic on Forbes.com....
The image below is one of my Droid’s “home” pages. In the third row, far left, you’ll see my “shortcut” to Newsbeat, a product from Betaworks. It’s my real-time fix to see which Forbes posts are popping; how consumers are pathing through the site; where they’re coming from on the Web; how deep into the page they’re reading and much more. Next to that is a site-wide report from Omniture (a data reporting service) on unique visitors. It’s great for slicing and dicing our cumulative traffic, by channel and section, every 15 to 30 minutes and on a daily basis, too. Next to that, Omniture page views. I use it much like I do the UV report. And next to that is the mother of all Forbes Omniture stats reports. It updates at 1 am with 23 daily, monthly and annual tables — just perfect for when I can’t fall asleep or I wake up in the middle of the night either excited or worried about meeting our traffic goals.
Like I said, it’s a bit obsessive, but it is very much part of the new world of digital journalism. Our full-time staffers and contributors each have their own personal dashboard to tell them how they are doing. And, of course, each of their posts has a page-view counter in full public view. Over the last few months we’ve had some technical snafus with the public counter. When we did, our staffers and contributors expressed disappointment. They’ve come to depend on it as a feedback loop and feel somewhat in the dark without it.
Let me be clear… as I’ve said in previous posts, all these statistical reports are meant to inform our journalism, NOT to rule it. The new content engine we’re building calls for each full-time staffer and each contributor (all topic-specific experts) to be responsible for attracting and building an audience of repeat visitors — that is, loyal readers — around their brand name and their knowledge. Pandering for traffic is not brand building. Winning the respect of your audience is.
To achieve that, journalists and other experienced content creators need to apply their professionalism to the new ethos of digital publishing. They need to build a bridge from traditional media values to all those traffic numbers.
Frankly, numbers have always been a part of the news business, and the most renowned media professionals have made their peace with them. I can remember as a young journalist being taken to Abe Rosenthal’s private woodshed, a small sitting area with a black-leather-bound-sofa, to be lectured about accuracy. The next day the infamous executive editor of The New York Times was planning new “lifestyle” sections to attract more advertising dollars. At Newsweek, we talked in terms of “subscriber covers” to build the brand and “newsstand covers” to sell copies. At The New York Herald Tribune, once considered the reporter’s newspaper, similar economic issues were top most on the mind of one of my mentors, Jim Bellows (the Trib’s last editor). I can assure you he balanced the needs of that business without compromising his considerable journalistic beliefs. He did so again when he moved on to TV and had to deal with the constant fixation on Nielsen ratings

Note to media: We are all brands now, so get used to it

Gigaom reporting:
There’s been a lot of talk about “branding” and new media lately, sparked in part by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten’s recent anti-branding rant, in which the veteran journalist said that branding is “ruining journalism.” But as a number of people have pointed out in response to the WaPo columnist — and as Forbes editor Lewis DVorkin notes in a post today about what he wants his writers to do at the online magazine — branding is now an inescapable part of new media. If journalists are using social media to any extent (which they should be), then they are in the process of becoming a brand whether they like it or not.
Weingarten is the Washington Post’s humor columnist, but his post on branding seemed quite serious, and was based on a letter from a young journalism student who asked him how he had built his “personal brand.” Weingarten responded that the best way to build a brand is to “take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot [and] then apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question” (Steve Buttry of the Journal-Register Co. later found the student in question and posted the research paper she was working on on his blog).
The columnist’s antipathy towards journalists becoming brands — which he said involved writers trying to “market themselves like Cheez Doodles” — appears to stem from the idea that any kind of personal promotion is undignified, and that journalists should instead be spending their time rooting out corruption and so forth. Weingarten said it was a result of the fact that “the media is in a frantic, undignified campaign to economize while at the same time attracting more eyeballs,” and that branding was designed to cater to an age in which “the attribute that is most rewarded is screeching ubiquity, not talent.”
We are slowly redefining our craft so it is no longer a calling but a commodity. From this execrable marketing trend arises the term you ask me about: “branding.”
I hate to be the one to break it to Weingarten, but the journalism business as a whole is becoming a commodity in many ways. But it’s not journalists and media organizations that are redefining it as such, it is the market itself — and the fact that media is becoming something that anyone can do. The tools for publishing and becoming a “media brand” are available to anyone now thanks to blogs and Twitter and Facebook, and that has made the world of media and journalism a lot flatter, as NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd noted in a recent interview with the Poynter Institute.

Google News gets a new human touch, launching publisher-curated Editors’ Picks as a standing section

NiemanLabs reporting:
When Google News launched in 2002, it did so with some declarations: “This page was generated entirely by computer algorithms without human editors.” And: “No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page.”
That core approach — computerized curation, algorithmic authority, NoMo sapiens — has served Google News well in the nearly-a-decade it’s been around, providing users with the multifaceted view of human events that is the news site’s hallmark. (Not to mention a reach that, Google News claims, sends over 1 billion clicks a month to news publishers worldwide.)
But the thing about humans is that, occasionally, they’re helpful to have around. Especially when it comes to the increasingly difficult task that is keeping track of the world as it twists and turns. Which is why, starting today, Google News is introducing a new section to its U.S. edition: Editors’ Picks, a display of original content that journalists (human ones!) have selected as editorial highlights from their publications.
The feature, which will live on the right-hand column of the Google News page, “is the latest addition to recent improvements we’ve made to the variety and presence of stories and multimedia on Google News,” software engineer Yogita Mehta notes in a blog post announcing the section. But “because Google News relies on algorithms, Editors’ Picks will always be just that — picks provided by publishers themselves, and not by Google.”

Google now highlights individual authors in its search returns

NiemanLabs reporting:
just hours after it rolled out its long-awaited social layer, Google launched another new feature that will affect its search returns — and journalists. In a pilot program, Google is now highlighting the individual people who created the content that shows up in returns — specifically, by placing a picture of those people to the right of the articles they’ve written, along with links to their Google Profiles. The feature, currently being used for a small group of authors (mostly tech bloggers), uses the new authorship markup language Google announced earlier this month “to help people,” it says, “find content from great authors in our search results.”
“Authorship is a great way to identify and highlight high-quality content,” Google’s Sagar Kamdar explained in a blog post. “Plus, the web is centered around people. People discovering content on the web often want to learn more about its author, see other content by that author, and even interact with the author.”
In the news-cycle context of Google, you know, Officially Taking On Facebook, its content-creators announcement isn’t a huge deal. But it’s worth noting nonetheless. There’s been a lot of renewed talk this week about journalists’ “personal brands,” thanks especially to the journalistic brand that is Gene Weingarten. And the discussion seems to solidify around the fact that, whether enthusiastically or grudgingly or something in between, journalists are embracing the reality that they are not just storytellers, not just truth-tellers, not just people, quirky and complicated — but, also, brands. With all that that implies. “If journalists are using social media to any extent (which they should be),” Mathew Ingram noted on Monday, “then they are in the process of becoming a brand whether they like it or not.”

Newsbeat, Chartbeat’s news-focused analytics tool, places its bets on the entrepreneurial side of news orgs

NiemanLab reporting:
Late last week, Chartbeat released a new product: Newsbeat, a tool that takes the real-time analytics it already offers and tailors them even more directly to the needs of news orgs. Chartbeat is already famously addictive, and Newsbeat will likely up the addiction ante: It includes social sharing information — including detailed info about who has been sharing stories on Twitter — and, intriguingly, notifications when stories’ traffic patterns deviate significantly from their expected path. (For more on how it works, Poynter has a good overview, and GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram followed up with a nice discussion of the decision-making implications of the tool.)
What most stood out to me, though, both when I chatted with Tony Haile, Chartbeat’s general manager, and when I poked around Newsbeat, is what the tool suggests about the inner workings of an increasingly online-oriented newsroom. Chartbeat, the parent product, offers an analytic overview of an entire site — say, Niemanlab.org — and provides a single-moment snapshot of top-performing stories site-wide. Newsbeat, on the other hand, can essentially break down the news site into its constituent elements via a permissioning system that provides personalized dashboards for individual reporters and editors. Newsbeat allows those individual journalists to see, Haile notes, “This is how my story’s doing right now. This is how my people are doing right now.”
On the one hand, that’s a fairly minor thing, an increasingly familiar shift in perspective from organization to person. Still, though, it’s worth noting the distinction Newsbeat is making between news org and news brand. Newsbeat emphasizes the individual entities that work together, sometimes in sync and sometimes not so much, under the auspices of a particular journalistic brand. So, per Newsbeat, The New York Times is The New York Times, yes…but it’s also, and to some extent more so, the NYT Business section and the NYT Politics page and infographics and and blogs and Chris Chivers and David Carr and Maureen Dowd. It’s a noisy, newsy amalgam, coherent but not constrained, its components working collectively — but not, necessarily, concertedly.