The former CEO of Village Voice Media, David Schneiderman, lays out some of the fundamental challenges ahead for conventional media in an essay for the Abernathy MacGregor Group, a public relations house.TechFlash excerpted it
and there are some strong, basic points:
1. The Web is fast becoming the defining platform for journalism.
2. Nothing is final online.
3. The Web is democratizing information and access.
4. Demand-driven journalism is changing the nature of what's created.
5. The best journalists are becoming brands.
6. The distinction between news and opinion will continue to erode.
7. Tabloid journalism will flourish.
Bill Carter and Brian Stelter have a New York Times newsfeature
on the economic challenges of the television networks' news operations, and they conclude it's hard slogging ahead.
Most likely ABC and CBS will need a cable partner, much as NBC now has with its MSNBC operation that provides both advertising and subscription revenue.
The piece alludes to more cooperation between ABC and Bloomberg. While there is no indication the networks are considering abandoning their principal newscasts, the story identifies unmistakeable economic issues.
This is a personal post, not to be construed as representing the views of my employer, who (out of full disclosure) happens to be an Olympic sponsor as a newspaper/Web site but not as a broadcaster.
During the Olympics I've helped manage the local newsroom of The Vancouver Sun, whose team online and in print has done (IMHO) an exceptional job in breaking news and crafting strong coverage, features and commentary on the Games --- along with some breathtaking photographs, graphics and non-competition video.
It is on that latter front of video that I want to post, because I think technology will make these the last Games in which the broadcast rights can be generally protected.
Next Olympics in London in 2012, the social media pressure and overall Internet aggression will make it impossible for the Games broadcasters to protect their domestic markets --- in fact, they really couldn't even now.
It was possible these Games to mask your IP address and dip into another country's video feed. I cannot believe that in two years, with the attention on the Summer Games being much more than they are on our Winter ones, it will be feasible to retain broadcast sovereignty.
It means that the broadcaster who offers the most live streaming competition video will be the winner. No matter that NBC and other broadcasters have found compelling narrative storytelling techniques to frame the human interest angles of the Games, what people want is live. Next Games, they'll get their hands on it.
I found it rather silly that people were complaining to east coast American media Web sites about carrying results when NBC hadn't shown video. That's rather like complaining to the paper about writing about a show you had taped but hadn't seen. It's an always-on world now, and NBC and others had better find a way to channel that in an accommodating way --- or people will find alternatives to suit their needs.
What is also a lesson for the next Games is the intelligent way these Games began to embrace the social media revolution. It accredited some bloggers --- the next Games will have to do much more --- and gave a wider array of media access to content. The Games organizers used Twitter, Facebook and email to communicate, and I was impressed by the speed and commitment.
Next Games, I would hope many more news conferences will be streamed, much more interactive media will be available through official channels, and many more online sites will use the opportunity to connect athletes to their excited audiences through forums, video chats and the like.
I recognize the vast sums broadcasters pay for these rights can't simply be given away to others, but there is so much host broadcast-created video available, I can't believe there aren't remnant opportunities in there for the (free or near-free) taking.
The Internet added another chapter in the Vancouver Olympics. For the most part, it was for the better.
Brian Chen explores the technical and ethical issues
ahead for journalism as Apple's iPad comes to market. Principally he looks at the gatekeeper role Apple is playing on applications and their content.
He also cites others who worry that Apple will not work to protect press freedoms and will bow to complaints about content.
Given the speed with which applications are emerging, Apple also faces a problem in keeping pace. Chen suggests the iPad and the App Store are not the ideal environment for newspapers and magazines to be reborn.
A new report
from the Newspaper Association of America serves its interests well: Newspaper Web sites are considered of high value locally.
The November study of more than 3,000 Americans found local newspaper sites are the most trusted information sources. Additionally, they're considered the strongest local advertising sites.
The survey found relatively strong interest in the sites themselves and their content.
In his Mediactive blog, Dan Gillmor argues
that news organizations shouldn't depend on the iPad or Apple to ride to the rescue. Its devices may offer interesting opportunities, but its corporate culture is something to fear, he suggests.
"Ultimately, I believe, the most important issue is whether news organizations should get in bed with a company that makes unilateral and non-transparent decisions like the ones Apple has been making about content in all kinds of ways," writes Gillmor, who is working on a book project online.
As evidence, Gillmor cites Apple's effort to take controversial adult-oriented material off iTunes and its aversion to Flash --- matters he suggests are part of a wider autocratic culture not open to free expression. He believes Apple CEO Steve Jobs isn't a free-press supporter.Newspapers, he says, are "putting far too much trust in a company that doesn’t deserve it."
An Italian court has convicted Google executives
over a video uploaded on Google Video that violated privacy provisions. No matter that the video was taken down after a complaint, the judge convicted.
The move, naturally, sends shock waves through the publishing business. The principles of free speech are generally interpreted as permitting publishers to let material be posted without any significant barriers, then holding them responsible for their response to complaints.
Essentially, if someone complains and they don't respond, they are accountable for what follows.
Google, naturally, is upset. It notes that only the person posting the video could possibly be responsible for understanding whether privacy and consent are upheld.
It suggests that the implications are that publishers won't post material without vetting it --- an impossibility for for most entities.
Jeff Jarvis argues in his latest Buzzmachine post that it could lead to a lowest common denominator approach on the Internet --- provisions that reflect the harshest jurisdiction.
Wired.com has a fascinating feature on the evolution of Google algorithm, what makes the world go round in the Web publishing business.
Given Google's 65-per-cent market share, and the effort by Microsoft Bing to tackle its dominance, there is much at stake in the realm of organizing the world's information.
Like any successful industrial process, it sustains continual improvement, and Wired comes as close as any outlet in articulating the changes.
"This flexibility — the ability to add signals, tweak the underlying code, and instantly test the results — is why Googlers say they can withstand any competition from Bing or Twitter or Facebook. Indeed, in the last six months Google has made more than 200 improvements, some of which seem to mimic — even outdo — the offerings of its competitors."
"That’s why Google is such a fearsome competitor; it has built a machine nimble enough to absorb almost any approach that threatens it — all while returning high-quality results that its competitors can’t match," Steven Levy concludes.
It is not a foregone conclusion that Web advertising will grow and grow with no real bump in the road.
What's needed, the World Mobile Congress heard in recent days
, is a transactional function within mobile to spur the biggest growth.
Indeed, Gartner told the conference that the $530 million business last year could reach $13.5 billion by 2013. But growth on that scale requires a lever, and that lever appears to be functionality in mobile to permit more transactions by text.
Until that comes, analysts believe the potential won't be reached. At the moment, most of the advertising involves brand-building.
Mallary Jean Tenore has five basic tips
on how Web sites can reduce the amount of bounce --- those who leave and don't return.
They're simple in approach, but there's much more in behind the elementary idea.
1. Collect data about users and feed them what they want. While no one wants a feedback loop, there is a lot of sense in reinforcing what's been successful.
2. Link within stories to your own related content. In other words, keep people inside your site or network.
3. Link to relevant content at the end of a post. Don't let people leave empty-handed.
4. Improve headlines. This is an acute issue for search engine optimization.
5. Use search terms to locate additional, relevant content.