Monday, December 29, 2014

Welcome to the future of advertising, where the word digital is redundant

the guardian reporting:
We obsess over the digital world in advertising and yet it means nothing. What if we stopped thinking of channels because everything was digital? What if we stopped caring about the pipe, but thought about the context and message?
Is there a more profound word in marketing than digital? We’ve digital agencies with their digital strategists and digital creatives. We’ve the triumphant rise of digital media owners and digital first companies like Uber, Airbnb and Facebook blazing a trail into the future. We’ve endless conferences on digital advertising where we ruminate continuously on when digital media spend will overtake TV. This month R/GA won Campaign’s Digital Innovation Agency award … with some wonderful TV ads?
For a word that seems so important, prevalent and transformative, it’s a bit odd that it doesn’t actually mean anything. While we can of course define it, for it to have actual real-life meaning, there would need to be non-digital agencies or non-digital strategists. We’d need to be able to explain why Uber was a digital company, but why British Airways or American Express wasn’t.

We’ve not really digested the power of digital...

Complicating the network: The year in social media research

NiemanLab reporting:
“The battle for ‘Trayvon Martin': Mapping a media controversy online and off-line”: From the MIT Center for Civic Media, published in First Monday. By Erhardt Graeff, Matt Stempeck, and Ethan Zuckerman.
“The Ethics of Web Analytics: Implications of using audience metrics in news construction”: From Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Missouri School of Journalism, published in Digital Journalism. By Edson C. Tandoc Jr. and Ryan J. Thomas.
“Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Online News Consumption”: From Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford and Microsoft Research. By Seth Flaxman, Sharad Goel, and Justin M. Rao......  

Friday, December 26, 2014

The worst journalism of 2014

CJR reporting:

This year has been one of many triumphs for journalists, who’ve told the stories of political struggle at home and violent struggle abroad, a public health crisis and airline tragedies that drew the eyes of the world, and self-examinations of American racial, domestic, and sexual norms. There have also been plenty of screw-ups, and CJR has kept track of them so you don’t have to. The additional DARTS awarded below aren’t necessarily the most impactful bloopers of the year, though several of them are among the most cringeworthy. Here’s one last salute to the year’s worst of the worst before their final burial at digital sea.
A complete unknown, like Rolling Stone
The disintegration of the magazine’s visceral campus rape story from Nov. 19 wins this year’s media-fail sweepstakes. University of Virginia student “Jackie”’s gang rape tale was heralded as the type of story only Rolling Stone was capable of telling, one that could change the national conversation around contemporary sexual culture. But within two weeks, it began to fall apart.
Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely didn’t contact the alleged perpetrators of Jackie’s rape, not to mention three of her friends portrayed as unsympathetic to it. It turns out, as reported in a sterling clean-up job by The Washington Post, that Jackie’s account in the story doesn’t match her friends’ recollections of the incident. ...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Digital Publishing: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Editor&Publisher reporting:
But to all the editors and reporters reading this column, I’m only going to say this once—it’s not cool, and actually detrimental to your job, to ignore Twitter.
According to a now-famous innovation report from the New York Times, the
company has struggled getting all of its journalists to board this “new
media” train and embrace digital change. It specifically mentioned the
importance of Twitter to the digital future of the Times no less than 18
times. Buzzfeed had a little fun with the Times’ staff, taking readers on a
tour of some of the abandoned accounts its staffers launched that have since been abandoned, a “graveyard of egg profiles.”

Nowhere is this disconnect more apparent than in the newsroom’s leader, executive editor Dean Baquet, who joined Twitter back in September 2011, has more than 11,000 followers, yet has only composed a grand total of two tweets.
While most professional journalists see the obvious benefits of Twitter, high-profile holdouts like Baquet have their defenders. After all, Twitter can be an obvious distraction to reporters on deadline, and with so many social networks out there (have you gotten an invite yet from Ello?), is 8-year-old Twitter even that sexy anymore? As Matt McFarland over at the Washington Post noted, Buzzfeed actually gets more traffic from Pinterest than Twitter, and no one is complaining about Baquet’s lack of pinned recipes.
So should it really be a requirement, in today’s digital environment, for reporters and editors to be on Twitter? Yes, according to Steve Buttry, formerly the digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, now Lamar Visiting Scholar at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Buttry called out Baquet in a blog post, making the case that journalists that choose not to be active on Twitter “choose to remain or fall behind.”
But to all the editors and reporters reading this column, I’m only going to say this once—it’s not cool, and actually detrimental to your job, to ignore Twitter. According to a now-famous innovation report from the New York Times, the company has struggled getting all of its journalists to board this “new media” train and embrace digital change. It specifically mentioned the importance of Twitter to the digital future of the Times no less than 18 times. Buzzfeed had a little fun with the Times’ staff, taking readers on a tour of some of the abandoned accounts its staffers launched that have since been abandoned, a “graveyard of egg profiles.” Nowhere is this disconnect more apparent than in the newsroom’s leader, executive editor Dean Baquet, who joined Twitter back in September 2011, has more than 11,000 followers, yet has only composed a grand total of two tweets. While most professional journalists see the obvious benefits of Twitter, high-profile holdouts like Baquet have their defenders. After all, Twitter can be an obvious distraction to reporters on deadline, and with so many social networks out there (have you gotten an invite yet from Ello?), is 8-year-old Twitter even that sexy anymore? As Matt McFarland over at the Washington Post noted, Buzzfeed actually gets more traffic from Pinterest than Twitter, and no one is complaining about Baquet’s lack of pinned recipes. - See more at:
But to all the editors and reporters reading this column, I’m only going to say this once—it’s not cool, and actually detrimental to your job, to ignore Twitter. According to a now-famous innovation report from the New York Times, the company has struggled getting all of its journalists to board this “new media” train and embrace digital change. It specifically mentioned the importance of Twitter to the digital future of the Times no less than 18 times. Buzzfeed had a little fun with the Times’ staff, taking readers on a tour of some of the abandoned accounts its staffers launched that have since been abandoned, a “graveyard of egg profiles.” Nowhere is this disconnect more apparent than in the newsroom’s leader, executive editor Dean Baquet, who joined Twitter back in September 2011, has more than 11,000 followers, yet has only composed a grand total of two tweets. While most professional journalists see the obvious benefits of Twitter, high-profile holdouts like Baquet have their defenders. After all, Twitter can be an obvious distraction to reporters on deadline, and with so many social networks out there (have you gotten an invite yet from Ello?), is 8-year-old Twitter even that sexy anymore? As Matt McFarland over at the Washington Post noted, Buzzfeed actually gets more traffic from Pinterest than Twitter, and no one is complaining about Baquet’s lack of pinned recipes. - See more at:

Ken Doctor: “Rosewater,” cascading censorship, and press freedom

Ken Doctor reporting:
As the year ends, take a moment to look past business models and apps and think about how you can help the challenged cause of press freedom worldwide....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Focus on Digital Starts to Pay Off For U.K. Newspaper Brands

AdAge reporting:
Legacy publishers who focus on digital have been offered a glimmer of hope as Rupert Murdoch's The Times and The Sunday Times recently announced a profit for the first time in 13 years.
In the year to June 2014, the two newspapers made $2.7 million profit between them, up from last year's $9.2 million loss. Print circulation went up 4% for the Sunday title, and 1% for the daily version.
No one is claiming that print readership will return to its old levels, but some observers believe that, just as digital starts to pay off, the downward trajectory for print is starting to flatten out. Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman U.K., said at a presentation on 2015 trends, "For traditional media, their toes are just about touching the bottom of what has been two decades of decline. But that doesn't go for everyone: it's all about quality, and it's all about the high end."
The Times newspapers went behind a paywall in 2011, with owner Mr. Murdoch determined to demonstrate that consumers would pay for quality digital content. Since then, the titles have invested in sports rights to drive online traffic, but they have also made significant job cuts.
The Times titles don't need a huge staff to update stories constantly, because online they are more like a digital version of the print product than a rolling news service. Rather than chasing huge audiences, The Times is trying to develop lasting relationships with a smaller number of valuable readers by offering a range of member benefits....

6 online tools for investigative journalism reporting:

6 online tools for investigative journalism
'Civic technologist' Friedrich Lindenberg shares a range of tools journalists can use in investigative journalism projects
Investigative journalism has long been the marker by which news organisations – and journalists – measure their worth.

"As a journalist your main tool is talking to people and asking the right questions of the right people," said civic technologist and self-described "OpenGov and data journalism geek" Friedrich Lindenberg in a webinar on investigative journalism tools for the International Centre for Journalists last week.

"This is still true, but also you can ask the right questions with the right databases. You can ask the right questions with the right tools."

Lindenberg listed an arsenal of tools the investigative journalist can equip themselves with. Here are some of the highlights.


Lindenberg described DocumentCloud as a "shared folder of documents", offering different folders that can be used for various investigations, control over who can access which documents, the ability to annotate different parts of documents, search throughout and embed segments or entire documents.

Even better, DocumentCloud looks for "entities" – such as people, companies, countries, institutions – identifies them and makes them searchable, which is especially useful for legal documents that may stretch into hundreds of pages when you are only interested in a few key points...

A "bit more of an expert tool", according to Lindenberg, Overview lets the user import documents from DocumentCloud or CSV files and then counts the frequency of words to make a "hierarchy of terms" for words.

When used this way, Overview can give a quick rundown of large numbers of documents, making it easier to understand the core topics.


Friday, December 12, 2014

How newspapers lost the Millennials

Newsosaur reporting:
The inability of newspapers to resonate with digital natives has left them with a daunting demographic challenge. Two-thirds of the audience at the typical newspaper is composed of people over the age of 55, according to Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates. “The newspaper audience ages another year every year,” he adds. “Everyone’s hair ought to be on fire.” 

As the newspaper audience grays, the readers that newspapers – and most of their advertisers – would like to have are, instead, busily racking up page views at places like BuzzFeed, Circa, Mic, Upworthy, Vice, Vocative and Vox. 

To delve into the demographic disparity, I pulled the audience data on Mic.Com, which comScore calls the favorite news destination for individuals from the ages of 18 to 34. Although many publishers and editors never may have heard of Mic, comScore says it is visited by a thumping 60% of Millenials. 
,,,In a recent study, researchers at the University of Missouri reported that only 29% of newspaper publishers conducted focus groups prior to putting paywalls around the digital products that most profess to be the future of their franchises.  

Instead of talking with their intended consumers, fully 85% of respondents to the survey said they asked other publishers what they thought about erecting barriers around the content that they had been freely providing for the better part of two decades.  

While paywalls boosted revenues at most newspapers because they were accompanied by stiff increases in print subscription rates, the tactic gave the growing population of digital natives – and non-readers of every other age – the best reason yet for not engaging with newspapers. 

Of course, newspapers were losing Millenials well before they started feverishly erecting paywalls in the last few years. But what if publishers and editors had begun studying the needs and attitudes of the emerging generation from the early days of the Millenium? Could the outcomes have been more positive?  

Changes in social media usage

ofcom reporting:
Not all aspects of the internet are retaining their appeal for the UK. The proportion of online adults in this country accessing social networks each week fell from 65% in September 2013 to 56% in October 2014. This was the steepest fall of any of the countries surveyed.
One factor behind the decline may be the rise of other social media which do not involve networks of connections, such as online video sites and instant messaging.
Social network use also fell in the USA, Japan and China. However, it is still increasing in some other countries - including Italy, which is now the leading country for social networking, with three quarters of Italians using such sites at least once a week.

Weekly access to social networks

Despite their decline in the UK, social networks remain the most popular internet activity for smartphone users. Among all those who access the internet on their phone in the UK, 64% use social networks, ahead of the next most popular activity of reading online news (44%).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pew report looks at collaborations by news organizations

Poynter reporting:
A new report from Pew Research Center, "Journalism Partnerships, A New Era of Interest," provides short case studies of five efforts by local news organizations to collaborate with other news organizations.
As traditional news organizations tighten their belts and emerging news start ups embrace lean operations, pooling resources is becoming more appealing even among former competitors.

The report looks at cases where news organizations joined forces to co-produce or share news coverage, where a small start up gained exposure by sharing stories with a larger traditional news partner, as well as two partnerships that helped local public broadcast outlets develop local news muscle.

What counts? New book shows how to improve, engage communities with local data

USC reporting:
The acceleration of the open government movement is already making a big difference in the lives of people in communities around America. A new book from the Urban Institute illuminates the potential and practice of using data to enhance communities -- especially low-income ones. It's a practical resource for local funders and others seeking creative ways to inform and engage communities.
Released Dec. 4, What Counts: Harnessing Data for America's Communities is a collection of essays by experts in community development, population health, education, finance, law and information systems. A joint project of the Urban Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, this book explains how data is being used more intensively and creatively to enhance decisions at the local, metro, state, or federal level. This can yield more effective local programs, policies and services, as well as better-targeted funding. It can also help residents understand how well their communities are performing, or measuring up.

At the book release event (see video), Urban Institute president Sarah Rosen Wartell noted that "A vast volume of data is now accessible -- but for people trying to make communities better places to live, the potential opportunities and pitfalls for using this data are large. This book is an opportunity to bring more people into the fold to advance the use of data."

Content is King, But Viewing Habits Vary by Demographic

Nielsen reporting:
All Americans spent a little more than 141 hours a month connecting with traditional television in third-quarter 2014. During the same period, the overall population also saw over an hour increase in time spent watching time-shifted content and a four-hour increase watching video on the Internet.
But not all consumers are watching the same way. Among the different race/ethnicities featured in the report, content consumption varies widely.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The New York Times R&D Lab releases Hive, an open-source crowdsourcing tool

NiemanLab reporting:
A few months ago we told you about a new tool from The New York Times that allowed readers to help identify ads inside the paper’s massive archive. Madison, as it was called, was the first iteration on a new crowdsourcing tool from The New York Times R&D Lab that would make it easier to break down specific tasks and get users to help an organization get at the data they need.
Today the R&D Lab is opening up the platform that powers the whole thing. Hive is an open-source framework that lets anyone build their own crowdsourcing project. The code responsible for Hive is now available on GitHub. With Hive, a developer can create assignments for users, define what they need to do, and keep track of their progress in helping to solve problems.

The Unmanageables

Vanity Fair reporting:
When a crusading but conflict-averse billionaire bankrolls several of journalism’s most prominent mavericks to create a hard-nosed investigative news organization, it’s a recipe for turmoil. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s differences with First Look Media staff have been all over the press. Two top hires are out the door. Sarah Ellison asks whether First Look Media can make headlines that aren’t about itself.

Can Silicon Valley disrupt journalism if journalists hate being disrupted?

theguardian reporting:
Over the weekend, an open letter by some of the outgoing writers and editors of the New Republic appeared on the Facebook page of Robert Reich, the former labor secretary turned professional pundit, following a mass resignation of staff and unpaid “contributing editors” from the magazine. The letter, which lamented that “The promise of American life has been dealt a lamentable blow” with the resignation of editor Franklin Foer and literary critic Leon Wieseltier over plans to replace the former, also railed against what the authors described as “liberalism’s central journal” being “scuttled with flagrant and frivolous abandon” – a reference to internal changes being introduced by the 100-year old title’s owner Chris Hughes, a 31-year-old co-founder of Facebook.
The irony of the New Republic’s retreating elite posting their displeasure on Facebook was heightened by Hughes publishing a defense of his plans for the magazine – plans which recently-appointed chief executive Guy Vidra described as changing the publication into a “vertically integrated digital product”, whatever that means – through that most traditional of outlets: the Washington Post. To see the changes at TNR as part of the ongoing battle between Silicon Valley and traditional journalism, Hughes wrote, “dangerously oversimplifies a debate many journalistic institutions are having today”.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The fight to get Google to pay for news continues in Europe

NiemanLab reporting:
— The European Union’s new commissioner for digital affairs didn’t waste any time. Days before starting the job at the end of October, Günther Oettinger (his official title is commissioner for digital economy and society) announced plans to reform European copyright law in 2015. That could mean introducing a levy on search engines when they show results for European companies, he said — a contested issue that’s been pushed by large news media companies from across Europe in recent months.
Oettinger has announced few details of his plans for copyright reform. But in an interview with the German daily newspaper Handelsblatt, he made it clear that he wants to tackle Google’s profits from listing European companies in search results. “If Google takes intellectual property from the EU and works with that, then the EU can protect that property and demand Google pay for that,” he said.
Copyright laws nicknamed “Google taxes” have been passed in a few European countries over the past few years. That name is deceptive — the laws don’t call for an actual tax since any fee Google is made to pay will go to publishers, not governments — but they have left Google at the center of legal battles driven by major publishers. Spain passed a law at the end of October that charges search engines to pay a copyright collection agency for including snippets from and links to news websites. In 2013, France’s government settled news publishers’ demands for copyright reform by striking a deal with Google: For a flat rate of €60 million (invested into a fund for digital publishing), the company was allowed to continue listing news articles in search results.

Membership focus helps Times Newspapers make first operating profit since 2001

The MediaBriefing reporting:
News UK subsidiary Times Newspapers, which runs the Times and Sunday Times newspapers, recorded an operating profit of £1.7 million for the financial year ending June 30 2014, as the newspapers steadily grew their digital subscriber bases and shifted more of their readers into long-term membership relationships.
The operating profit is the first for the two newspapers since 2001, and follows losses of £6 million in 2013 and £70 million in 2009, before the newspapers began charging for all online content.
News UK refused to reveal pre-tax profit for the newspapers and that operating figure doesn't mean the newspapers are yet sustainable on their own. At a press event in London, News UK chief marketing officer Chris Duncan said the swing from loss to profit reflected the impact of significant investment in areas such as unified subscription handling and publishing, as well as journalism.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Visual journalism helps BBC solve 3 audience challenges

 inma reporting:
BBC needed help showing audiences it is distinctive and modern, as well as a way to help audiences truly understand the news. From covering the landing of a robot on a comet to local hospital performance, the media company’s visual journalism team is leading its effort to connect with audiences in a multi-media market.
Visual journalism can help with three particular challenges our audience presents us with:
  1. Distinctiveness: It can help us stand out in a world where we may be covering many of the same stories as our competitors.
  2. Modernity: Visual journalism — where we may use our virtual reality studio to put a correspondent on the sea floor, or create a game so our users can try to land the Philae lander on a comet themselves — shows our audience that we are a lively, innovative, modern media outfit.
  3. Understanding (or maybe that should have been first): They say a picture can tell a thousand words. The same can be true of visual journalism.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Digital News Report: Journalists Still Matter

Reuters Institute reporting:
The third annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report shows that as the online news environment grows ever more crowded, journalists play an important role in driving traffic to news brands and in encouraging people to pay for them.
The digital age has brought about a shift towards journalists as a key reason for using or trusting particular online sources of news.
The reputation of individual writers is cited as one of the key reasons why people might be prepared to pay for online news.
Following a year in which Glenn Greenwald emerged from relative obscurity to become a star name after his work with the fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2014 suggests he is part of a wider trend.
The report is based on a survey conducted in US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Brazil and Japan. Total sample size was 18859 adults with around 2000 per country. Fieldwork was undertaken at the end of January/start of February 2014. The survey was carried out online. The data was weighted to targets set on age and gender, region, newspaper readership and social grade to reflect the total population.
In a number of countries, notably France, Spain and the US, the role of the journalist is now considered almost as important in driving trust as the role of the news brand itself.
As report author Nic Newman says: “This is particularly true where traditional titles are weaker, or face challenge from online-only news sites, many of which are increasingly built around the personality and skills of a columnist or reporter”...
...Young people, the readers and viewers of tomorrow, are turning increasingly to mobile devices as their preferred way of receiving news and consequently “snacking” more in terms of both the time spent on sites and the type of content they consume.
Across all 10 countries surveyed, over a third (36percent) of 18-24s say the smartphone is now their primary access point for digital news. The report reveals that young people in particular (18-35) increasingly rely on social sources like Facebook and Twitter to discover news stories. It also highlights the rise of WhatsApp as a significant new network for sharing and discussing the news particularly in Spain, Italy and our sample in urban Brazil.

Czech Study: Social Media as a News Source?

Reuters Institute reporting:
Journalists often claim that social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, have become important news sources, but have they? Researchers from Charles University in Prague studied Czech media to establish to what extent traditional journalistic methods are being replaced by social media platforms. They found that, despite the growing use of digital sources, their impact on mainstream news is still relatively low.
Most previous studies into social media and news have been conducted in Western Europe and the United States. Results have so far been conflicting. The Czech study, by thePolCoRe group at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, aimed to provide a new perspective. Instead of looking at the impact of social media during particular news events, the researchers took a different approach. Václav Štětka, the PolCoRe group leader said: “We deliberately selected a period where no elections or any known significant events took place. Our data then better reflects how Czech media works under natural circumstances.”,,,
The analysis also showed that social media are used as a source – of both text and pictorial information – in topics such as sport, celebrities or crime – so-called ‘soft news’. This applies to all examined media, except for the financial newspaper Hospodářské noviny and the public radio station Český rozhlas, which used social media as a source of more serious, up-to-date news (‘hard news’).
Researchers also looked at how the selected media worked with social media information. They demonstrated this by noting which individuals were quoted from Facebook or Twitter (and YouTube, to a negligible extent): sportsmen (34% of articles mentioning social media as a source), followed by “common people” (24%), celebrities (15,5%), and politicians (15,2%).
The rather high percentage of “vox populi” could indicate that media are more open to non-elite voices. However, it has to be pointed out that “common citizens” were quoted only in connection with criminal topics and did not get any chance to comment on political or economic topics.
“The research has shown that the role of social media as a source of information for Czech media is still rather peripheral; it has also indicated that social media contribute to the trend of tabloidization of print, since they are hardly ever used as a source of hard news,” said Václav Štětka and Radim Hladík...

The NY Times runs its first print native ad

digiday reporting:
The New York Times has been producing increasingly elaborate native ads online, and now it has gone a step further by extending the format to print for the first time.
The ad, for Shell, is set to appear in print and online Wednesday, and it’s a far cry from the advertorials of days past. First, the size: The print component is an eight-page section that’s wrapped around home-delivered copies. (In the case of newsstand copies, the ad wraps the business section.) The top sheet is opaque vellum, for extra effect. The print creative extends the Web version, with infographics that show the urbanization of the world’s population. In what the Times called “icing on the cake,” the print ads are enhanced by augmented reality, so that people using the Blippar app can initiate a video by holding their phone over the page.So-called native ads, which mimic the look and feel of editorial, have largely been an online phenomenon, because the Web offers more multimedia capabilities than print. The print edition has always been treated with kid gloves compared to the Web anyway, where ads have been more intrusive. This is especially true at venerated news organizations including the Times have been sensitive to criticism that native advertising, by its very nature, is trying to trick the reader into thinking it’s editorial content.Native ads, then, have been slow to come to print (although some would say they’ve existed for decades, in the form of fashion magazine ads and advertorials). The Washington Post ran its first print native ad in October, also, as it happens, for Shell, but other than sharing the same physical space as news articles, the ad didn’t match the editorial quality of the host publication, which many would say is a crucial ingredient of native ads.

Why social is key to creating habit-forming news products

medium reporting:
Social media editors such as myself may often be judged on the traffic they drive to a news site rather than on reader engagement.
Here is a theory for demonstrating the importance of social engagement and how community is key to triggering a habit that will make readers return frequently and, for news sites with a pay model, encourage subscriber sign ups and retention. Much of this post has been influenced by a talk by Nir Eyal (thanks toKristine Lowe for blogging about it).
Why do people form habits around products?According to Nir Eyal, it’s often fear that encourages a person to return to a product again and again. Boredom drives return visits to YouTube,loneliness encourages people to go to Facebook, uncertainty encourages people to search Google, he says. So for newspapers, news sites and digital products, perhaps the driver isFOMO, a fear of missing out. People return to find out about the key news events that they don’t want to miss.
Rewarding readers Eyal tells us that habit-forming technology uses one or more of the rewards of ‘tribe’, ‘hunt’, and ‘self’. (I know they are off-putting terms, but stick with me on this.)...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Economist Espresso: A new daily shot of news

digiday reporting:
The Economist is the latest to join the crusade against information overload. On Thursday the British news and business publication launched The Economist Espresso, its first daily edition. As its name would suggest, Espresso is designed to complement the core weekly print magazine with a daily shot of news (it’s also a reference to the Economist’s London neighborhood that has a shared history with coffee-house culture). It’s available as an iOS and Android smartphone app or as an email.
Espresso is self-contained, with five original 150-word stories a day that are meant to give readers a sense of accomplishment, which makes it different from other email newsletters that are link collections, said Tom Standage, The Economist’s digital editor.
“One of the reasons the weekly Economist has done well is, you feel you’re completing it.” Similarly, with Espresso, he said, “We’re trying to give you a sense of being out ahead of the news. To tell you what’s going to happen and tell you what to think about it.”
The Espresso launch reflects a few trends percolating among news publishers as they try to grow the digital side of their business. Some media outlets have moved to disaggregate the main news product into smaller slices, as The New York Times has done with its NYT Now, Opinion and Cooking apps, to attract new paying customers. With Espresso, The Economist is taking a freemium approach to pricing. The product is free to existing subscribers and $4 a month to nonsubscribers. Non-paying readers can access one full article per day.

digiday reporting:
The Wall Street Journal firmly believes interactive video is the next generational leap in the digital news business, so it’s rolling out a new daily series to prove it.
On Wednesday morning, the Journal debuted its WSJ Interactive video series. Using technology from TouchCast, an interactive video platform, the Journal’s video producers can embed rich media elements inside its proprietary video player. That means viewers can click on elements inside each video to read relevant articles, watch other clips, survey real-time market data and more, all without leaving the full-screen experience of the original video.
“Everyone has been talking about bringing video to the Web,” said Andy Regal, senior executive producer of WSJ video. “But now we’re bringing the Web to video.”...

Let’s get over the whole 'newspapers are dying' thing

the guardian reporting:
...Fourthly, they are tilting their revenue balance away from advertising and towards content. The FT actually makes most of its money from content, essentially flipping the modern newspaper business model on its head. But this has benefits on the advertising side as well. The greater behavioural and demographic insight that comes with membership plans and paywalls helps newspapers move away from empty calories like slideshow page views towards more valuable engagement metrics like time spent.
Finally, along with dozens of other industries, they recognise the increasing importance of live events. The Guardian is a pioneer in this category – or at least it will be when its event space opens in 2016. Membership access to TED-style forums, celebrity speakers, music concerts and Mediterranean cruises is one way to broaden the subscription experience and connect like-minded readers.
So let’s get over the whole “newspapers are dying” thing. They’re certainly moving in lots of creative new directions (and eventually they may ascend out of physical world altogether - holograms, maybe?), but they’re definitely not going gently into that good night...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spain passes ‘Google tax’ allowing publishers to charge aggregators fee for displaying their content in search results

Talking NewMedia reporting:
The Spanish parliament is the latest to empower publishers to charge search engines a fee whenever they aggregate their online news content in search results. The law goes into effect on January 1.
The new law, Canon AEDE, is similar to efforts in other countries, namely Germany, where news organizations have lobbied to have laws passed that would require Google to pay publishers for displaying content. The problem, of course, is that Google simply says it will not pay, and will, if forced, eliminate the news content of publishers from their search result. The effect is the decrease the web traffic going to publishers, and therefore decreasing the money publishers make online.

Newspapers are just ...old

baekdal reporting:
t's not that newspapers are a particularly bad product. It's not that you don't cover important stories. And it's not that people no longer need or want to get news.
It's just that the way you do it... feels old. It's like you are not in touch with what people expect from a media company in the connected world.
Let me give you a typical example: Here is a link to an article from the Washington Post about the explosion at NASA of the Antares rocket. Like so many other news articles, it illustrates a fundamental disconnect from the kind of reporting you would see from digital native media.
First of all, the article has a print focus, in which the journalist at no point takes into account that online we have both images and videos....
Not to mention this part:
The White House said President Obama was briefed on the explosion. The crew of the space station reportedly witnessed the accident on a video feed.
So did Obama have something interesting to say about it? And what did the crew of ISS have to say about it? Why is Washington Post providing us with information that contains no insight?...
You don't have a future if what you write are articles like the one from the Washington Post, articles that have no distinction and is merely delivering information. Not only because you would then have no distinction between your articles and thousands of others, but also because those types of articles will be fully automated in the future.
Computers already have the capabilities, but we still have a problem with the original data being inaccessible. But that too is changing.
Newspapers have a Blackberry moment. It's not that people don't need news, and it's not really that the newspapers posts specifically bad articles. It's just that the way it's done feels out of touch, and people are increasingly seeking other options.
Most newspapers feel like they are not really present. There is a huge disconnect between how you report the news, and how people feel when they read it. It's like the newspapers are living in some kind of 3rd party world. They are never really connected to either the reader or the story.
This is not something you solve by changing the format or creating a new design. This is something you solve by changing the way you communicate. When people today read an article about something, they need to feel that the journalist has an interest in this story. They need to feel that the story is more than just 'a job that had to be done' for the sake of 'a newspaper company focusing on their business metrics'...

The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating

Ken Doctor reporting:
Call it an acceleration of the digital transition. Those are the words that best describe this morning’s New York Times Co. Q3 financial report and conference call.
Take the month of October — the biggest ad revenue month of the year for the Times.
Digital advertising will be up about 15 percent this month, says Times Co. chief financial officer Jim Follo, but print advertising will be down about 10 percent, with total ad revenue down 5 percent. The delta is widening, though these are not placid waters. Choppy or “volatile,” as CEO Mark Thompson said, repeating that word many times to describe the ups and downs of print ad revenue. “Inexplicable” is another word Thompson used, trying to explain the vagaries of managing a declining, if still valuable, print ad business.
...Overall, the Times reported adjusted operating profit at $40 million, down $5 million a year ago.
Much more important to understand than these bottom line numbers are the ones that illustrate the quickening acceleration to digital.
Look only at the income results of the quarter — an overall 0.8 percent increase in revenues — and you’d miss the drama of that volatility. What seems like a smooth drive is actually quite a bumpy journey. Advertising is moving profoundly (but haphazardly) from print to digital, as are readers. While the Times could count 44,000 new digital subscribers in the quarter, a 20 percent year-over-year increase, it lost 5.2 percent of its daily print readers — and, more worryingly, 3.5 percent of its Sunday print subscribers. The Times already counts more digital subs than print ones, and the divide is widening...

8 Content Campaigns That Have Rocked 2014 (Thus Far)

adweek reporting:
It says something about our media culture that in a short time the term “native advertising” has gone from industry buzzword to pop culture punch line.
The two most memorable references come from HBO. On “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s Hannah takes—and soon leaves—a writing job in the sponsored content department at GQ. More recently on "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver delivers an entertaining riff about the profusion of “sponsored content” on news sites.
Oliver conceded that Netflix's native ad for the New York Times about female prison inmates, promoting the series "Orange Is the New Black," was “about as good as it gets.” This got us thinking about all the other noteworthy executions this year which demonstrate that sponsored content can indeed be good—nay, great—content. With that in mind, we asked some of the native advertising gurus here at HuffPost-AOL to name their picks for the most notable native or branded content campaigns of the year thus far, both from around the Web as well as in-house.

From BBC to BuzzFeed: lessons in mobile publishing

theguardian reporting:
The mobile tipping point happened for the BBC earlier this year. It’s happened for the Guardian, where the mobile traffic accounts for around 60% at weekends. And the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) reports that more people now access retail sites via mobile than desktop, by a ratio of 52 to 48.
But what does this trend mean for those involved in digital publishing? How does it inform the decisions publishers, editors, journalists and content sellers make? At the Press Gazette’s News on the Move conference earlier this month, five well-known media brands shared some lessons in mobile publishing.
1. Plan for the extended internet day – and week..
2. Think format
That’s format as in layout and format as in genre. “It’s about making [the text] scannable, quite modular,” said Nathalie Malinarich, mobile editor for BBC News
3. Remember, the web still rules
Smartphone and tablet users prefer news websites to news apps. At least that’s what the traffic figures suggest. At the Guardian, 20% of total page views come from the app while some 40% of page views come from mobile users visiting the website. What does this mean? It means you should have a robust business case before embarking on an app project. If you can’t make the case then a responsive, mobile-friendly website is probably the way to go. At least in the short term.
4. Use apps to upsell
5. Don’t forget the role of social media
7. It’s the content, stupid
For Alan Hunter, head of digital at The Times and The Sunday Times, it’s not principally about device or technology – it’s about the quality of the editorial. “Really great stories are what sell digital products. All our best hits, best dwell time are on the best stories,” Hunter said.” “You can’t put lipstick on a pig and hope it’s going to look good.”

Should journalism worry about content marketing?

CJR reporting:
Content marketing is so broad that it eludes definition even by its most ardent practitioners, but the term includes essentially any form of content (a Facebook post, a celebrity Q&A, a feature-length documentary) created by or on behalf of a brand with the hope that it will attract an audience on its own merits—as opposed to traditional advertising, which has the far smaller ambition of gaining notice from a captive audience before the ad break ends, or the page gets flipped, and the real content begins. - See more at:
... content marketing is so broad that it eludes definition even by its most ardent practitioners, but the term includes essentially any form of content (a Facebook post, a celebrity Q&A, a feature-length documentary) created by or on behalf of a brand with the hope that it will attract an audience on its own merits—as opposed to traditional advertising, which has the far smaller ambition of gaining notice from a captive audience before the ad break ends, or the page gets flipped, and the real content begins...
... BuzzFeed was a pioneer of native ads, and in doing so created a new kind of media company that functions as a hybrid of news publisher and ad agency. BuzzFeed employs an editorial team of more than 200 to produce everything from foreign coverage to funny quizzes, and a creative team of 65 that produces work in BuzzFeed’s editorial sensibility on behalf of corporate clients. Native ads are seen by some as a natural progression for publishers seeking new ways to connect their audience with advertisers, and by others as journalism selling its last point of distinction to the highest bidder. The debate is ongoing among everyone, it seems, but journalism CEOs: Virtually every major publisher is now pursuing native advertising in some form. The genre has had both success stories (The New York Times’ explainer on women in prison on behalf of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black), and failures (The Atlantic’s advertorial love letter to the Church of Scientology). But one day soon, native advertising may be recalled as a quaint evolutionary step, as brands are increasingly comfortable simply reaching an audience themselves. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The New York Times Co. and Axel Springer are investing €3 million in Dutch startup Blendle

NiemanLab reporting:
The New York Times Company and German publisher Axel Springer are collectively investing €3 million ($3.7 million) in Blendle, a Dutch news startup where readers pay by the article, Blendle announced Sunday.
Blendle said it will use the Series A funding to expand to additional European countries beyond the Netherlands over the next two years. In an email, Blendle cofounder Alexander Klöpping wouldn’t elaborate on the company’s expansion plans, saying it “all depends on in which countries publishers are most excited.” Klöpping declined to say how much each company was investing, only that the total was €3 million. Axel Springer, which is making the investment through its venture arm Axel Springer Digital Ventures, also wouldn’t say how much it’s investing. The Times didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Blendle launched publicly in May, and the site has more than 130,000 registered users. Publishers set the prices for how much each of their articles cost, and keep 70 percent of the revenue generated from those stories. Blendle takes the other 30 percent.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Poynter reporting:
Long-time critics of imprecise unique visitor and page view metrics like me have had reason to cheer in recent months.
Both the Financial Times and Economist have started to offer advertisers the alternative of rates based on time spent rather than raw traffic numbers.
Chartbeat corrected a major flaw in existing measures of time spent, then got its system “accredited” by the influential Media Ratings Council. And Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile has been an effective evangelist in interviews and speeches for a more sophisticated way of looking at the attention of digital audiences.
That’s real progress. But plowing through dozens of articles and interviewing a few key sources, I have concluded that it is way early to declare victory and a new day dawning in digital measurement.
Oddly, although we like to think of the digital world as fast-moving and progressive, there is an established status quo for counting digital audiences backed by powerful vested interests who remain mostly happy with the unholy triad of uniques, page views and clickthroughs.
Start with the digital big guys — Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AOL...

The politics of reforming digital audience metrics — don’t underestimate the status quo

Political Polarization & Media Habits

Pew reporting:
When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
The project – part of a year-long effort to shed light on political polarization in America – looks at the ways people get information about government and politics in three different settings: the news media, social media and the way people talk about politics with friends and family. In all three areas, the study finds that those with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views – and very distinct from each other....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

News and Innovation. But what is the Question?

baekdal reporting:

Q: What are the top 3 areas in which newspaper publishers should innovate in the digital space?

Well, I feel the word innovation is misleading in this context. It implies that newspapers can just focus on a specific thing (like mobile), and then everything will be fine. We all know it won't.
Real innovation doesn't work that way. Real innovation is about solving a problem for a specific group of people in a specific situation.
Nike, for instance, innovates by inventing shoes, clothes and apps that allow athletes to run faster, with less injuries, in greater comfort, all of which can be measured and analyzed to further improve and tweak their performance.
This is where the challenge is for most newspapers. The traditional model of a random package of daily news didn't have a target audience. It was just targeted anyone, in any situation.
So, step one is to identify your target for innovation. And once you know that, what to innovate suddenly becomes clear as day because you will know what the problem is....
This is the challenged that newspapers face. To innovate you first need to know what the question is.
Innovation is not about mobile, tablets, apps, aggregation, responsive designs, listicles and many other things. It's about understanding what the question is, and then innovate to find an answer to that problem.
The newspaper industry will find that there are a thousand different questions with an equal amount of answers. It all depends on what you decide to focus on.

Do Readers Choose eBooks Because They Are Cheaper?

goodereader reporting:
Many readers cite the price of eBooks as one of the primarily aspects of why they choose to read digitally. A new report by Books and e-Books UK 2014 is trying to quantify the parallel between cheaper books and reading more.  Their data suggests 26% of consumers who have bought an eBook in the last year are reading more than they used to, because eBooks cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
21% of Brits have bought a fiction eBook in the past year, the boom does seem to be plateauing as this marks a slight 1% point growth on 2013. However, this is a rise from the 15% of Brits claiming they had bought a digital fiction title in 2012.
Whilst the sales of e-books are still showing healthy growth, there are signs that this will steady in 2014. Sales of eBooks are estimated to reach £340 million in 2014 up from £300 million in 2013, marking a 12% rise. However this rise is in stark contrast to the growth seen in previous years. Sales in 2013 for example were 38% up on 2012, which stood at £216 million. In contrast, sales of print books are estimated to stay at £1.4 billion in 2014, the same value as 2013 which would mark just a 0.4% year on year fall in revenue.
Samuel Gee, Senior Technology and Media Analyst at Mintel said “Today, 31% of Brits own an e-reader, up from 21% in 2012, but down from 35% in April 2014. Indeed, it seems that the growth of the e-reader has not caused UK book-lovers to clear their shelves. Over a third (36%) of UK book buyers buy both e-books and print books and 42% of these say that they will always buy the cheapest version of the book no matter which format it is in. Further showing that those who have picked up their e-readers aren’t leaving printed books altogether, seven in 10 (70%) e-reader owners have bought a paperback in the past year. In contrast, just 30% of print book buyers have also purchased digitally.
Overall, a third (32%) of Brits have not bought a book in the past year...

The Washington Post launches a national weekly print edition

The Washington Post will begin offering a weekly print edition featuring the best national and international news from The Post. The 24-page, color tabloid publication will include local advertising and Washington Post content printed and distributed by partner newspapers through a separate subscription as an added benefit to subscribers.
The weekly publication will complement partners’ daily newspapers with a selection of The Washington Post’s best journalism, including coverage of politics, policy, national and world events, lifestyle, and the arts along with a wide range of commentary.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New York Times Rolls Out Archive of Vintage Print Ads, Asks for Help ID-ing Them

Advertising Age reporting:
Vintage ads that appeared in The New York Times are getting their own digital archive that will live on the Times' website. Called Madison in reference to Madison Avenue, the archive initially includes every print ad from every edition of the Times in the 1960s.
"It invites people to view an important part of our cultural history," said Alexis Lloyd, creative director at The New York Times Research and Development Lab, which created Madison.
But the Times is inviting readers to do more than just view the ads. It's also asking readers to help shape the archive by sifting through the ads, identifying them and even transcribing their text.
Madison is a close cousin of TimesMachine, the archive of the paper's editorial content. Visitors to TimesMachine can not only scroll through digital versions of old print pages, but also zoom in on articles, photos and captions.
The automated technology underpinning Madison, however, can't conclusively determine which elements on an archived print page were ads or what exactly they advertised, according to Ms. Lloyd. So the archive currently includes all the elements from the paper that Ms. Lloyd and her team think might be ads. When readers visit Madison, they scroll through a random selection of pages from '60s-era Times editions. What the R&D Lab believes are advertisements are highlighted throughout these pages, and readers are asked to do one of the following as they scroll:

The new Vox daily email, explained

NiemanLab reprting:
The old email newsletter continues its remarkable return to prominence. The latest move: Vox wants to make explaining the news a little more manageable by telling you everything you need to know in the comfort of your inbox.
Tomorrow, the site will launch Vox Sentences, its first daily email newsletter, with an aim at delivering both information and utility to readers. As email has become increasingly popular with publishers — not to mention built individual franchises for writers — the race is on to find ways to differentiate what you deliver.
Vox is focusing on delivering only a handful of top stories with a collection of the best links from around the web. So on any given day, Vox Sentences will serve up several main topics — say, Ebola, ISIS, and California’s “Yes Means Yes” law — with context provided by some of the day’s best writing. And, as the name implies, it’ll be direct — just a bunch of sentences. One thing that separates Vox’s newsletter from competitors is that it arrives at the end of the day, not the beginning. Instead of an 8 a.m. briefing, Vox is offering an 8 p.m. roundup.
...Vox Sentences would seem to share some DNA with BuzzFeed’s upcoming news app, both want to reach an audience of general news consumers who are looking for a smarter daily bundle of stories. Yes, a package — not unlike, say, the evening newspaper, timed for when people are at home and fiddling around on their phones or tablets. Klein says many of the stories you’ll find in the newsletter won’t be from Vox: “I don’t care if it drives traffic back to the site. I care if the people who read it feel well served by it,” Klein said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Gigaom Built a Media Business Around Free Content

Mediashift reporting:
Last month, Paul Walborsky stepped down after seven years as chief executive of Gigaom. During that time, the tech site grew enormously in traffic and revenue as it expanded its business beyond just advertising. Currently, about 60 percent of Gigaom’s revenues (estimated to be around $15 million annually) come from research and 25 percent from events. Advertising accounts for only about 15 percent of total revenues. Walborsky, who is 48, spoke with PBS MediaShift about the struggles of running an editorial-based business when competition is fierce and ad rates continue to slump.

Gabriel Kahn: In media, size matters. How does an operation like Gigaom, which averages about 6.5 million unique visitors a month, make a go of it?

Paul Walborsky: Media either has to be huge, at the BuzzFeed level, or small and intimate.
When we started, we looked at each other and said, “We’re never going to get to a 100 million uniques.” The type of content we write is more analytical. We can squeeze about 20 million page views a month out of our audience. If we tried to build an editorial business just based on advertising we’d never be able to pay our staff.
So chasing page views is a dead end?
Paul Walborsky: Our whole concept was not to serve you another page and make you click once more; it was to give you a good user experience. So by definition we had to have a different business model. I don’t think about creating page views. I think about creating long-term relationships with readers. If you have a long-term relationship, you do different things. You get them to come back. You serve them well. And you then try to upsell them more products and services...
...Paul Walborsky: Editorial is the focal point of our business model. This is where we create credibility. That is what keeps people coming back. Without our editorial content, without people writing things everyday that make readers feel smarter, we would not have a brand. We just choose not to monetize that content directly. We monetize it in different ways...
By this logic, when Gigaom uses space on a page to sell an ad, it almost represents a failure because the company itself should be able to find a better use for that same space.

Paul Walborsky: The situation in media is laughable. When we sell ad units, we are basically selling our reader relationship to someone who doesn’t care about it. The advertisers are selling a car or a trip to Vegas. If we could create enough products, we could use that space ourselves to sell that audience something that is actually meaningful to them.
That’s what we did with our research. Then other companies began doing the same.
We saw Politico Pro come out, then Business Insider came out with research....

Infiltrating people’s habits: How Time works to engage readers

NiemanLab reporting:
It was a Thursday in late August and the Internet was whipping itself into a frenzy. The cable channel FXX was about to kick off its Every Simpsons Ever marathon, showing all 522 Simpsons episodes back-to-back-to-back. And in its daily meeting that morning, Time’s audience engagement team was figuring out how to best take advantage of the moment and convert interest in the Simpsons into visits to Time’s website.
Time, together with sister site Money, published at least five different pieces on the Simpsons marathon on that day alone.
Time’s editors meet every morning at 9:45 to discuss stories for the upcoming day. After that meeting, Schweitzer, Ross, and Borchers gather to discuss the 15 or so stories they plan on promoting heavily and how they’ll use what Time calls its “external levers of distribution” — which range from its daily email newsletter and cross-promotions on other Time Inc. websites to working with the Time Inc. PR department and, of course, social media — to ensure that their stories are widely read and shared.
Of the three, Schweitzer is the longest tenured Time employee, having joined the company all the way back in August 2013, and their roles are emblematic of Time’s revamped digital strategy. Time had about 50 million unique visitors in both August and September, more than doubling the roughly 20 million it attracted the year before.
Their efforts go beyond social as well. The Ebola story discussed that morning, covering how some people are surviving the virus, was the top story in Time’s daily email the next morning. Called The Brief after the central feature of Time’s homepage, the email lists 12 things readers need to know each day, and it has an average open rate of around 40 percent.