One of the more thoughtful vectors
into the free-versus-pay content debate is a recent post by Michael Erard on the future of attention, how its value might be calculated, and how cultural products might then be priced.
Erard's imagination lets loose and he contemplates taxes, prices and retail sectors built around one's ability to pay (grant) attention, including software that audits your attention (deficit) and accords a fee.
The practical application of the concept is on the debate we're now involved in --- the one that assesses a marketable value on the content created and consumed.
In his latest post
to the Nieman Journalism Lab, Martin Langeveld statistically argues that advertising and economic trends do not foretell a rebound in revenue for newspapers.
He pulls numbers from consumption and advertising trends and suggests newspapers are in a predicament of losing market share in a flat commodity, advertising. After all, previous economic downturns have left newspapers with less advertising than the pre-downturn period.
He sees particular concern in the online sphere, where their share has declined, too. If they don't invest heavily in digital for a post-newspaper world, they will be lost.
Much has been made in recent months on the aged quality of Twitter's users. The perception is that teens shun Twitter.
But myYearBook CEO Geoff Cook has a strong analysis
on Techcrunch that dispels some of the myths. Largely what he finds is that teens are disproportionately on Twitter. The sense that teens aren't Tweeting is no different than the sense adults aren't Tweeting --- a large majority of each isn't.
What Cook says, though, is that teens aren't Tweeting for the same reason adults aren't --- that they can do what Twitter does elsewhere.
John A. Byrne, the editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com, takes a good photo for someone clearly hectic in running a site, magazine and all of the bells and whistles that come with social networking.
He's on Twitter
, on Facebook and on Linkedin, but unlike many prominent journalists who position themselves for public attention, Byrne's principal attribute online is to engage the audience to help make BW a better property. It can almost be annoying, he's so inquisitive.
Byrne gave a lengthy interview to blogger Ben Lamothe
at Econsultancy, and it's a strong insight into how to make social media work for your conventional organization. It's by no means an automated walk in the park; Byrne is forever Tweeting, posting and linking his users into his content and the decision-making behind it. He's incessantly asking readers to evaluate and inform, and he is generous in posting their ideas and refraining from negative judgment.
While a number of organizations measure time spent, unique visitors or page views as gauge of their success, Byrne has a mixture of indices to quantify engagement. He says the organization now rates a 34 and aims for 100. It's a good read for those of us working, or watching, the evolving newsroom.
Inside Higher Ed offers an idea
to fill some of the gap created by the loss of voice in some markets: Models based on the expertise in universities or related institutions.
The academic blogger. Campus-based ventures for local and regional news. Undergraduates serving as reporters. Land-grant approaches to funding. Tapping into the constellation of entities (galleries, museums, and the like) associated with the university.
All are put on the table as possibilities in this intriguing approach.
"If these trends continue, the public affairs that most nearly touch our everyday lives -- school board elections, library censorship battles, state bond issues, social service regulations, land development schemes -- will become veiled from public discussion," writes David Scobey. "Those with power will have a powerful incentive to inside dealing and corruption; those without it will have a powerful inducement to acquiescence."
Newspaper Association of America data out today
indicates advertising revenue declined 29 per cent in the second quarter of 2009 over the same period a year earlier.
Revenue was $6.8 billion, down from $9.6 billion. In the previous quarter, the decline was 28 per cent year-over-year.
Online revenue didn't escape the plunge, dropping 16 per cent in the quarter to about $653 million. Newspaper revenue was about $6.1 billion of the total.
In his latest post
, Nic Brisborne writes in PaidContent
that mistakes are being committed on the road to a new business model for news.
Rather than attempt to charge for a widely available commodity, organizations ought to be examining the pockets of scarcity and determining where the opportunities are. Those opportunities may not exist in charging for information but for related services.
He cites Techcrunch's Tech50 or Pitchfork's music conference as examples of how organizations build community, trust and a business as a result.
"This is, I think, the real business model for news companies in the future - build a community around news and stories and maybe make a little in advertising, but the real money will come from leveraging the position in the community to offer services no-one else can," he writes.
The federal privacy commissioner made clear recently that Facebook was sharing too much personal information with third-party operations and concluded it contravened Canada's private-sector privacy law.
Jennifer Stoddart recommended changes that many thought would evaporate, given that there were few immediate options available beyond moral suasion. Court action, which she threatened as soon as next week, would take some time to reach effective conclusions. In the social media world, even a short time is a long leash.
But today Facebook agreed
to comply with many measures, largely aimed at curtailing the degree of information accessed when users consent to quizzes and other games. The measures also compel Facebook to eliminate personal information of deactivated accounts.
The reformation of its approaches will take up to a year and be reviewed for compliance. The decision today is a first for Facebook, which faced its first-ever court action.
The announcement this week of a deal between
the Seattle Times and a batch of local neighbourhood blogs is an indication of the change under way in news.
Only a couple of years ago, a deal like this would have been unthinkable for either party --- the legacy media wouldn't have deigned to open themselves to the hyperlocal parties, and those parties would have found it suffocating to play with the Goliaths.
Mutual interests have emerged: legacy media want the granular coverage, hyperlocal media need the larger impact to generate a better business model.
The nature of the deal is lacking in financial specifics. It's all about exploring advertising opportunities, collaborating on content, exchanging links and audiences, and agreeing to examine the common opportunities.
But it's an interesting model for others to study. Seattle is one of the strongest examples of a market able to pursue such a deal, but there are others near and far.
A new study
examining revenue suggests the newspaper industry
is among the slowest in the communications sector in shifting to an increasingly digital business.
The Outsell Inc. report, written by Content Bridges blogger and news executive Ken Doctor, indicates the news business has failed to make the leap into digital properly. It is lagging compared to other communications industries.
The report examined the top 15 news organizations and found that the level of digital revenue among them was a mere 11 per cent.
"The news segment still stands out as the biggest laggard in the information industry overall," he said.