Our newsroom employs Twitter to understand what's being created. We leap on trends it identifies, we route through links it generates, and we develop our news report with one eye on it.
So it ought not to surprise anyone that a new study
suggests Twitter is more than a social network. It's a news service.
The Korean study gathered information on more than 41 million users. Among the things it found:
1. Twitter's functionality resembles RSS, in that certain users develop followings.
2. A high number (in this case, 85 per cent) of Tweets were news-related.
3. A certain number of Twitter users have high followings and thus serve as significant distributors.
4. Twitter regularly beats conventional news organizations in breaking news (something our newsroom notices frequently).
Media economist Robert Picard's most recent post
criticizes "narrow thinking" in the search for a new business. He argues there is too much focus on revenue and not enough on the environment of the business itself --- its products and their consumption, in particular.
Business models aren't about revenue, he says. In fact, they are quite the opposite.
"They involve the foundations upon which businesses built, such as companies’ competences, value created, products/services provided, customers served, relationships established with customers and partner firms, and the operational requirements. If you get those elements right, the revenue issues take care of themselves."
Picard suggests news organizations have to think about the way their content is consumed.
"The range of technologies and distribution and interactive platforms available in the twenty-first century require that firms increasingly see their business activities as cooperative processes requiring coordination and interdependence with external firms and customers themselves. Standing isolated and alone—at arms distance from the customer—is no longer a viable option," he writes.
While it's not necessary to be precipitous, Picard suggests attention needs to be paid soon.
The Economist looks at the rise
of the content farm, places like Demand Media that produce material based on what algorithms tell it users are interested in.
It has a look, too, at AOL's recent transition to a service with more original content --- although it won't lump it into the content farm category.
The challenge, the newsmagazine notes, is that the business model for online journalism is still elusive. Services like Demand Media are paying contributors to produce what people want and attaching a value to that content which ought to grow in time.
The trouble, as commentators note in the piece, is that it can flood the Internet with mediocre material.
The latest monthly figures
for video views in the United States suggest Google continues to be the dominant provider.
The data from comScore Inc. says Americans watched 31.2 billion videos online in the month of March, with Google sites like YouTube garnering 42 per cent of the total, or 13 billion. YouTube reached three of four viewers and Google had 136 million unique visitors to video in the month.
Hulu was a distant second at 1.1 billion views.
The data indicates some 180 million Americans (or 85 per cent of the Internet audience) viewed an average of 173 videos in March.
As newsrooms look for digital revenue opportunities, some are experimenting with e-commerce functions in editorial content.
The Chicago Tribune has been doing so for several months now and the sister newsroom of The Los Angeles Times announced today it is doing the same.
It will green-hyperlink certain stories and blogs to such vendors as Amazon and TicketNetwork, based on daily discussions about pending opportunities within the report.
It will limit the e-commerce links to health, food, entertainment, travel, books and sports stories and blogs. At this stage that leaves the initiative clear of news and business stories and blogs and columnist material.
It won't replace blue editorial links with green e-commerce ones and it'll place a disclaimer at the bottom of such content to alert users to the fact these are third-party offerings.
One of the challenges for many Web publishers is creating an environment for advertising to succeed. Advertising networks have been thought to be most effective because they generate campaigns that can be focused and targeted.
But a new study
for the Online Publishers Association suggests ad networks have little bearing on enhancing brand, purchasing intentions or message association.
It suggests that original Web publishing might be just as effective as an ad network.
In his latest Monday Note, writer Frederic Filloux observes: "To put it bluntly, most home pages suck."
Filloux discusses the central tension in most news website design: Reconciling the warmth of the print experience with the coldness of the online one.
He correctly observes identity and personality are unclear and serendipity is limited. He then articulates what he'd like: something that searches more effectively, ports across devices better, and identifies what you want readily.
Then it will be possible to unfurl a full console.
In his latest weekly post
for Online Journalism Review, Robert Niles muses about the latent recognition by Associated Press of the term website (formerly Web site), then argues students shouldn't be focusing on AP style.
Instead, he suggests, search engine optimization would be far more useful. It would help link content to an audience, so it would be ultimately more important than understanding intricacies of news agency language and grammar style.
To those who suggest students learn both, Niles correctly points out that the two aren't always compatible. SEO is better with full names and phrasing that often prefers brevity over full-fledged passages.
The post explores one of the tensions in today's newsrooms: How to publish across platforms without reworking content extensively. A newspaper story isn't necessarily SEO-friendly, and the SEO-friendly Web file
Niles notes that algorithms are bending over time to be more reader-friendly, so the notion that it's a matter of writing for machines isn't apt.
Niles is right about another point: There are no SEO textbooks out there. Lots of tips, but no books.
It has been intriguing the last few days to decipher what Facebook has done with the introduction of its Social Graph, the evolution from Facebook Connects and a fairly onerous ringfence around our identities online.
Jeff Jarvis, in his latest post on his Buzzmachine blog
, thinks the approach is too control-minded. Facebook has put itself first, he believes, instead of putting users first and then trying to get a dividend from their practices.
Jarvis concedes we need organization, verification and connection, the tenets of what Facebook is advancing, but he would prefer that his identity --- the one he's generated through Buzzmachine, his own URLs, his other networks --- be at the heart of his activity.
He agrees with others that it would be better for Facebook to permit you to connect to competitors instead of channel social networking through its service. Jarvis is uncomfortable with what Facebook wrought.
ReadWriteWeb has a rather breathless but interesting post
today from Lasso CEO Chris Treadaway in which he suggests newspapers don't need Web developers. They need Facebook developers.
With the launch of Open Graph and other measures, Facebook now is the gold standard. Ignoring it is no longer possible, Treadaway argues. Its reach is extensive and its pervasiveness as a social network --- whether we like it or not --- compels news organizations to pay attention.
"Those that succeed in becoming a viral Facebook content commodity will grow rapidly," Treadaway writes. Moreover, "a deep and complete understanding of social media is necessary for publishers of any kind to modernize, grow and ultimately survive. It's becoming a necessary core competency, and fast."
Treadaway suggests it won't be long before newspapers are blaming Facebook in the way they've been blaming Google. Those who act progressively, though, will reap rewards.