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.

California Sunday Magazine has a solution for how to find readers: Pay newspapers for them

NiemanLab reporting:
California Sunday Magazine, which launched conceptually in January and physically earlier this month, was beloved before its first issue was even printed. The magazine, a project of Douglas McGray’s, is available both in print and online, on tablet and mobile, and aims to tell beautiful, reported stories about the American West, Latin America, and Asia.
...California Sunday grew out of McGray’s other project, Pop-Up Magazine, a popular performance journalism series that’s meant to feel like a live magazine. What started as a fun project among friends quickly grew, selling out theaters and drawing big-name performers. The experience convinced McGray that there was a market in California for locally-grown media that doesn’t feel East Coast-centric...
...But beyond elegant design and talented writers, what sets California Sunday apart from the digital magazine crowd is its distribution model. In its first weekend, the print magazine reached 400,000 Californians at home as an insert in the Sunday paper. Just like an advertiser would, the magazine paid the newspapers — the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee, and the San Francisco Chronicle — to include the print edition with Sunday’s delivery...

Winners of first WAN-IFRA World Digital Media Awards honoured

 WANIFRA reporting:
Best News Website: The Guardian - Guardian News & Media, UK for their now famed coverage of the NSA files. 
Best Digital Advertising Campaign: General Election - Kleine Zeitung of Austria who had a restaurant serve unwitting customers dishes without even asking what the wanted before serving them a 'bill' inviting them to vote if they didn't want someone else to make their choices for them. Click here for more about this campaign.
Best Use of Online Video: How to put a human on Mars – by the BBC News team, and in particular journalist Neil Bowdler, whose love of space led him to look a the challenges of putting a human on Mars. “We got a team of great scientists together - so good NASA gave them a call” reflects Neil. “And then there was the whole team at the BBC doing the animations and building this beautiful web site.” Click here to see this story.
Best Data Visualisation Project: Null CTRL – Dagbladet. “We had a huge series of articles concerning online security in Norway,” explained designer Auden Aas, “and we had a lot of interesting data to showcase so we made an interactive video showcasing the three most exposed areas of life; at home, at work and in the city. For each one we populated them with hotspots for things like printers and servers that were vulnerable so people could learn about it without having to read technical documents.” Click here for more on this series.
Best Mobile Service: Apple Daily NGA - Apple Daily...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Explanatory news startup aims to build a new type of online community

CJR reporting:

In April 2013, Nieman Lab covered the story of an amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign run by Dutch startup De Correspondent, prompting New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to tweet the link to the piece:
In April 2013, Nieman Lab covered the story of an amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign run by Dutch startup De Correspondent, prompting New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to tweet the link to the piece - See more at:
In April 2013, Nieman Lab covered the story of an amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign run by Dutch startup De Correspondent, prompting New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to tweet the link to the piece:
In April 2013, Nieman Lab covered the story of an amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign run by Dutch startup De Correspondent, prompting New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to tweet the link to the piece - See more at:
And just like that, De Correspondent—which is based in Amsterdam, and publishes in Dutch—was on the American (and international) media map. After breaking records by reaching over 18,000 members and $1.7 million through crowdfunding, the site, which is dedicated to explanatory journalism rather than breaking news, launched the following September. During its first year in existence, several English-language media tackled the language barrier in return for insight into a crowdfunding success greater than the much discussed case of Matter.
On Tuesday, exactly one year after the launch of De Correspondent , co-founder Ernst- Jan Pfauth posted his “Lessons from year one of De Correspondent” on Medium and declared the startup a success. 17,000 new subscribers have signed up since the launch, while more than half the total crowdfunding group of 18,933 people have renewed their 60 ($76)/ year subscription. Pfauth wrote that he believes more will follow in the coming weeks as subscriptions run out.
In his Medium piece and in an interview with CJR, Pfauth attributed the site’s rapid success in part to its focus on engaging its members and building community around its work.
On Tuesday, exactly one year after the launch of De Correspondent , co-founder Ernst-Jan Pfauth posted his “Lessons from year one of De Correspondent” on Medium and declared the startup a success. 17,000 new subscribers have signed up since the launch, while more than half the total crowdfunding group of 18,933 people have renewed their €60 ($76)/ year subscription. Pfauth wrote that he believes more will follow in the coming weeks as subscriptions run out.
In his Medium piece and in an interview with CJR, Pfauth attributed the site’s rapid success in part to its focus on engaging its members and building community around its work.
- See more at:
On Tuesday, exactly one year after the launch of De Correspondent , co-founder Ernst-Jan Pfauth posted his “Lessons from year one of De Correspondent” on Medium and declared the startup a success. 17,000 new subscribers have signed up since the launch, while more than half the total crowdfunding group of 18,933 people have renewed their €60 ($76)/ year subscription. Pfauth wrote that he believes more will follow in the coming weeks as subscriptions run out.
In his Medium piece and in an interview with CJR, Pfauth attributed the site’s rapid success in part to its focus on engaging its members and building community around its work.
- See more at:
In April 2013, Nieman Lab covered the story of an amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign run by Dutch startup De Correspondent, prompting New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen to tweet the link to the piece - See more at:

Enough with the manifestos about the future of news, let your product do the talking

Poynter reporting:
Nikki Usher had a great Columbia Journalism Review article “Startup site manifestos are press criticism” where she notes that startup news orgs like PandoDaily, Vox, FiveThirtyEight and more have gotten into the habit of writing manifestos (much like the New York Times did when it launched in 1851). These manifestos are essentially their critique of the press in action.
The implication is that traditional journalism simply doesn’t offer readers this kind of news in the existing environment—that it’s not doing enough to give us what we need to know, and these sites are going to offer an alternative way to give us the public information that is the perceived obligation of journalism.
I think Nikki is right in her observation...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Journalism’s biggest competitors are things that don’t even look like journalism

gigaom reporting:
What the web is doing to journalism, Debrouwere argues, is taking the things it used to consider its bread and butter and making them fungible in ways they never were before. That hasn’t just changed the business model for news or media companies, it has changed the expectations of their audience in some fundamental ways, ways that go beyond whether someone reads a news story on the web or in print.
I’m not talking about digital first or about blogging or about data journalism or the mobile web or the curation craze. Yes, journalism has evolved and is better for it. I’m talking beyond that. I’m not even talking about the fact that everyone is a potential publisher now… beyond even that. I think journalism is being replaced.
The examples are legion: as Debrouwere notes, many people used to find new music by reading reviews or coverage in a newspaper or magazine, and did the same thing for movies and TV shows — but now they get access to all the music and movies and TV shows they could want, and all the commentary surrounding them, via services like Spotify or Netflix, or websites like IMDB and Amazon. So what purpose does the local newspaper or newsmagazine serve?
This is an important point: if you’re a media company, your competition isn’t the product or service that is better than you — and it’s certainly not the one that you think is doing journalism — it’s the one that is good enough for your readers or users. In other words, if it provides a service or information that is useful or valuable to them, that is all that matters, not whether it fits the objective definition of something called “journalism.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mobile Migration: Online Shopping Goes Mobile

Forrester reporting:
Shopping in the U.K. isn’t what it used to be. In fact, it’s not even what it was just a year ago. Today, retailers are finding that more and more consumers are shopping from their mobile devices rather than their desktops and laptops — a shift that presents new opportunities for interaction and engagement.

Data from Nielsen shows that the number of shoppers accessing major retail sites from their Android devices grew by an average of 48% in the 12 months ending June 2014. During that same period, the number of users visiting the same retail sites from their desktops and laptops decreased by an average of almost 20%. Of the retailers evaluated, Groupon experienced the biggest drop in desktop and laptop usage, across its audience base across these more traditional methods fell by one-third in the last year.

Today, Groupon’s mobile user base is bigger than its desktop/laptop user base. While retailer John Lewis also saw a 20% drop in its desktop/laptop user base, it more than doubled its mobile user base, which grew 114% year-over-year.

Year on Year comparison of desktop & laptop user base vs. Android (June 2014 vs. June 2013)

Aftonbladet gör direktsänd morgon-tv

Dagens Media reporting:

Aftonbladet gör direktsänd morgon-tv
Aftonbladet ska göra ett morgonsänt nyhetsprogram online varje vardag mellan 06 och 09.
Aftonbladet ska göra ett morgonsänt nyhetsprogram online varje vardag mellan 06 och 09.

Dagens Media har tidigare skrivit om Aftonbladets tv-satsning. Under ledning av Karin Magnusson, Maria Bjaring och Claes Åkesson, ska Aftonbladet nu direktsända morgon-tv.
Programmet kommer att vara en mix av de senaste nyheterna, sport, nöje och feature. Delar av materialet kommer också att finnas tillgängligt på Aftonbladet TV hela dagen.
Producent för det nya morgonprogrammet är Lotta Folcker, programchef för Aftonbladet TV, som tidigare varit chef för Nyhetsmorgon på TV4. 

Visualising the Ukrainian revolution using Instagram

theguardian reporting:
Over 13,000 Instagram photos captured during 144 hours of the Ukrainian revolution in February have been used to create this huge data visualisation
Exceptional and everyday in Ukraine
A snapshot of the visualisation. Source: The Everyday Project Photograph: The Everyday Project
Amid the chaotic revolutionary scenes that engulfed the Ukranian capital during February, it’s easy to overlook that plenty of people were just getting on with life as normal.
These contrasts can be seen quite clearly in a new study and visualisation of Instagram photos called “The Exceptional & The Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev”, which was created by a research team led by Lev Manovich, professor of computer science at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
It includes over 13,000 photos by 6,165 different users geo-located to Independence Square in Kiev between February 17 and 22 this year - hence 144 hours in Kiev.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Telegraph to use digital content as backbone of paper

theguardian reporting:
Telegraph Media Group is this week implementing a radical restructure of its editorial operation to focus on using digital content as the backbone of each printed edition of the Daily Telegraph.
In a series of “town hall” meetings with staff Jason Seiken, Telegraph Media Group editor-in-chief, last week unveiled an acceleration of his vision to transform the organisation’s print-focused mindset into a digitally led approach.
Seiken and top TMG executives have “cherry picked” ideas from newspapers in North America and Europe, most notably Germany’s Die Welt, to introduce new editorial practices and a new production system.
Several sources said the new production system will have the biggest impact, with one describing it as a “templatised” system, so that a relatively small team can produce the newspaper by dropping web content into pre-designed pages.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jeff Bezos and the Post Don't Know the Future of Media, But Are Preparing for It Anyway

Mashable reporting:
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post just more than a year ago, expectations of a digital renaissance for the paper became assumptions. What would one of the most visionary business minds of the Internet age do with something as stodgy and inflexible as a newspaper?
The answer, it turns out, is far less exciting than some had hoped.
There have been no grand redesigns or big-name hires — one of its stars, Ezra Klein, left the paper to start There have been no plans to immediately end the print edition. Instead, during a recent visit to WPNYC in a nondescript office on the west side of Manhattan, the Post gave a look at a relatively unsexy piece of internal software with the distinctly prosaic name PageBuilder.
PageBuilder does what its name implies, allowing journalists to build pages to feature content. Like Storify on steroids, it is built to pull in a wide variety of content and craft it into whatever format is desired — a content management system for the open-source era.
Digitally, the Post is competitive. Its August monthly unique visitors are up more than 50% compared to the same time last year to just under 40 million, according to comScore. That beats out rivals like The Los Angeles Times (27.3 million) and the paywalled Wall Street Journal (22.9 million), while gaining on The New York Times (49.9 million).
The growth is encouraging, but the Post is still suffering from the same fate as every other newspaper. Prakash claimed that the company brought in record digital revenue last year, but that has not been able to keep up with print declines. The paper's most recent public earnings report since Bezos bought it, in August 2013, showed an overall dip in revenue and continued losses.
...Innovation has mostly come in the way of new blogs and a breaking news team. Software developers are now embedded within the newsroom to connect the tech and editorial sides. That system has yielded a custom storytelling tool, a new blog focused on photography and The Most, which organizes the top stories online by media outlet.
...Dan Gillmor, a professor at the Arizona State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that the newspaper model is not fixable. Media companies that survive will need to change into something almost entirely different....

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Facebook is more important to news distribution than you think, and journalists are freaked out

Poynter reporting:
Facebook’s Liz Heron answered for a litany of perceived sins and slights last week during a conversation with The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and attendees at the Online News Association conference in Chicago. Journalists are anxious about being left out of the loop about how Facebook works, and they want answers...
But there are more existential fears behind this conversation, too: If Facebook isn’t interested in exposing users to content that might be important but won’t result in high engagement like softer news and quizzes do, what will happen to news literacy? What will happen to civic engagement? What happens to The News That Matters, if only Facebook gets to decide what matters?
Facebook would say they’re not really deciding what news matters — they’re just revealing what news really resonates with each individual user. And that’s how you end up with Ice Bucket Challenge videos dominating your News Feed instead of the latest information about Ferguson protests...


Harvard Busniness Review reporting:
It’s not easy for big companies to innovate. As Steve Blank, Clay Christensen, and many others have pointed out, once firms reach a certain size, most of their resources (and investment dollars) are rightly devoted to executing and defending their existing business model. Moreover, the skills that are cherished and rewarded for achieving current results differ from those that aid in discovery and experimentation, both of which are needed to drive innovation. As a result, fostering a true culture of innovation in big companies is often an aspiration rather than a reality.
If this is the case in your company, then it might be worthwhile to look at the experience of Thomson Reuters, a $12.5B global information solutions company. The company’s strategy of fueling growth through acquisitions served it well for many years – but this approach also reduced the focus on innovation. While many managers were developing new products and services for their own businesses, they were not leveraging innovation across the enterprise, and some were relying too much on acquisitions to drive both innovation and growth.
To reverse this, senior leadership took a number of steps. First they agreed to shift funding from small, incremental acquisitions to innovation. In early 2014, they established a “catalyst fund” – a pool of money that internal innovation teams could use for doing rapid proof of concept on new ideas. The fund was announced on the company’s internal website and teams from anywhere in the businesses were invited to submit their suggestions....

Friday, October 3, 2014

What if Journalism Was Built for Inclusive Community Participation?

Medium reporting:
A talk by Larenellen McCann, given at the Code For America Summit
(Forked by Josh Stearns, with permission. Words in BOLD are my addition or tweaks to her original transcript. A video of her original talk is at the bottom of this post.)
At the risk of creating a massive existential crisis, I want to start my talk by asking, “What is community?” Who gets to decide what a community is? Who’s involved? What skills you need to get in the club?
And for that matter, what’s a “journalism community?” What definition of journalism are we using to describe the “news sector,” the “journalism sector” — all of us, here in this room?
We need to be able to answer these questions concretely, even though it’s so easy to refer to them in the abstract because “communities” are groupings of individual people, and you can’t really serve people if you can’t define who it is that you’re trying to serve.
And if you can’t define who it is that you’re trying to serve, you also can’t identify who you’re not reaching.
This is something we were thinking a lot about in my fair city, Washington, DC, earlier this year when we had the opportunity to organize the “DC journalism community” (whatever that is) to participate in a massive cultural festival: a Funk Parade.

The Newsonomics of the New York Times' New Cutbacks

Ken Doctor reporting:
The core content and paywall strategy of the Times worked — that’s Paywalls 1.0 — but building on it has been tougher than planned. Today’s move is significant, but it’s one that should be understood carefully.
How much had the Times invested in the new strategy? While it’s impossible to parse the differing kinds of resources the newsroom added over the last three years or so, the amount of them is a number to behold. In 2011, the Times counted 1,189 newsroom employees. At the end of 2013, the number was 1,251, up 5.2 percent. Currently, it counts 1,330, up 11.5 percent from 2011. With 100 to be taken out, the 1,230 number would still be 3.4 percent higher than three years ago. It’s worth highlighting: While the overall number of newspaper editorial staffers has declined across America (down 20,000 jobs, about 30 percent of the total, in seven years), the Times has been bolstering its staff.
Let’s look at four of the key questions to pop out of today’s move:

Is this a major business reversal?

No, the Times’ revenue is on a familiar path. If you look at the financials of the first six months of the year, reader revenue is still growing a bit and advertising is basically flat overall. The big bright spot is obscured by that big layoff number: a 16 percent increase in Q3 digital revenue, compared to 3.4 percent up in Q2 and 2.2 percent up in Q1. That’s a big number, and a hopeful one for the future as new executive vice president for ads Meredith Kopit Levien works through her massive overhaul of the Times ad operation.

Is the poor business performance of the new niche products a surprise?

Not really....

What do we learn about investing in news product?

The stock market — no surprise — loved today’s announcement. It was an announcement of business discipline. Call it a pivot, as CEOs like Thompson are wont to, or a sharp unexpected turn when the boulders in the road look larger than Google Maps told you.
We can figure that the 141 increase in staff in the newsroom over last 30 months cost about $12.5 million a year. Take out 100 of those and the Times saves about $9 million a year. That’s a positive financial move. Look at the wider expense context. Newspaper companies have been cutting expenses annually in the low- to mid-single digits for almost a decade now; that’s the only way they can stay profitable since they largely haven’t grown revenue year-over-year since 2005. Last year, the Times was down 2.1 percent in overall expenses, pruning in lots of places while investing in the newsroom and new products. Through the first six months of 2014, though, it’s been up 4.5 percent. Given the flattish revenue performance (more on which below), that number couldn’t hold. The Times’ operating profit for 2013 was $156.1 million, and Thompson’s already said it will be less than that in 2014.

What’s the size of the Times’ paying audience?

Consider this. At the end of the last century (1999, to be precise), the Times print paying circulation stood at:
  • 1,097,200 daily;
  • and 1,682,200 on Sunday.
Today, we see:
  • 1,217,201 paying Sunday print readers;
  • 680,905 paying daily (Monday-Friday) print readers;
  • and those 870,000 digital-only subscribers.
Let’s compare some numbers, then. Adding today’s Sunday print to digital-only, we now get 2.08 million paying readers — or a little more than 300,000 more than the 1999 high-water mark, which was that Sunday print number.
Adding today’s daily print to digital only, we get 1.55 million paying readers, or close to the top print circulation (Sunday’s) of 1999.