A major challenge for legacy media is how to effectively use the content generated outside the news organization inside the tent. The smart use of user-generated content (UGC) is the focus of a new report
from media and international development lecturer Martin Scott for the Commonwealth Broadcasters Association.
There is little in Scott's report that will surprise. It's a common sense series of guidelines and observations. It understands the challenges: legal, ethical, ones of accuracy and verification.
But it also understands the benefits: diversity, strengthening of typically weaker voices, and most importantly, conferring a competitive advantage on those organizations into UGC.
"The benefits of using UGC extend well beyond the material that audiences can provide. Using UGC can help strengthen the relationship between the broadcaster and audience," the report notes.
The next phase of America Online's foray into news involves a Google-like approach of using algorithms to maximize the impact of the generation and distribution of information.
"Rather than relying on editors and journalists deciding on what kinds of stories to run, AOL will employ a system that relies on a series of algorithms that will predict the kinds of stories, videos and photos that will have the greatest appeal to audiences and advertisers," the Guardian reports.
Data amassed from searches from AOL subscribers will be used. It will create more customized content for advertisers in the mix. And it will employ its new Seed.com service to help pay freelancers more and determine how their work can best be marketed.
Apropos of not much of anything, the lyrical and fascinating media columnist David Carr has crafted a poetic elegy on the state of journalism.His latest column
talks about the massive change under way, what it has befelled, and what is rising from its ashes. It's particularly valuable for the aspiring journalist.
It's a wonderful piece of writing.
The executive director of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association is a well-travelled observer of the thinking by executives and practitioners on the craft and business of journalism.
When he vents a little,
it pays to pay attention, because Earl Wilkinson has had enough with the "digital Taliban" and the notion they want to help the newspaper industry find solutions. He believes they're largely mischief-makers who might have good intentions for journalism but have neither interest nor aptitude to build a business plan or help newspapers survive.
"The Digital Utopiasts want the Bottom-Line Guys to fail so a new order can be imposed on how people consume information," he writes.
On the other hand, he's also frustrated with the inertia inside newspapering and the lack of identification of new value propositions that might position the business for better times.
He's interested in the middle ground, using the parameters of the digital enthusiasts to help furnish passion in the pursuit of new newspaper goals.
"How are newspapers, magazines, and professional purveyors of deep rich journalism different than the emerging chorus of clever and low cost-amateurs that are legitimately contributing to the emerging map that governs our daily lives?
I ask these questions because newspapers need to publicly provide good reasons to fight on. Many publishers believe this is a silly exercise, yet in the absence of differentiating reasons newspapers are being defined by critics who want to slit our throats and take our wallets."
The chief executive of publishing group Future says it's not possible to charge for general news online. Specialized content, though, has its possibilities.
Stevie Spring tells the Guardian
there is not a "cat in Hell's chance" news can be anything but free online.
"However, my view is that you have a different barrier in specialist interest, that barrier has as much to do with people getting used to it being free. Joe Public does not think it's free because he's paying for broadband, like a library card that gives him access," she says.
New date from PriceWaterhouse Coopers indicates year-over-year advertising spending on the Internet has declined 5.4 per cent to about $5.5 billion in the U.S. in the third quarter.
But the sum was actually up from the second quarter by about 1.7 per cen, an indication of resilience in the market, reports Editor & Publisher.
Newspaper online advertising declined more precipitously, recently released figures indicate --- some 16.9 per cent year over year to $623 million.
On his personal blog
, Danny Sullivan writes on the myths and realities of the increasingly dissonant relationship between Google and many large U.S. newspaper groups. Specifically, he decries the way Google is being blamed or shunned.
Sullivan, whose SearchEngineLand is the definitive blog on the tools that find tools online, articulates an increasingly common sentiment: That news companies mistakenly tag Google as an enemy.
Sullivan also notes that we're going through a phase in which traffic and visitors are being devalued publicly. But he thinks it's transitory. Somehow a truce or a pact will emerge.
Meantime, it'll be important to find ways to more intelligently target them, and he spends a lot of his essay analysing the confounding circumstances of valuation of readers.
His last point is his most emotional: "Do something. Anything. Please. Survive. But there’s one thing you shouldn’t do. Blame others for sending you visitors and not figuring out how to make money off of them."
One of the best communicators on the new best practices of journalism, JD Lasica, has assembled a great SlideShare primer on social media and the craft of journalism.
It is particularly strong on the entrepreneurial concepts necessary for many journalists as they pursue their own businesses. It sets out a six-step plan for budding business model generators.
Lasica has some great statistics in the presentation, attached here.
The new report this week
from the International Newsmedia Marketing Association focuses on the pursuit of value in the new media environment. It isn't an easy path.
The report's author, INMA executive director Earl Wilkinson, identifies some key principles:
"1. Creating value for content will require publishers to carve scarcity from an abundance of information.
2. Value has a different definition involving linking unique content, a coherent audience and effective platform.
3. No value, no price tag possible.
4. Publishers need to see value on return on investment.
The 53-page report isn't available publicly, but those summary points indicate a certain impatience with the progress to date. Rather than generate new value, Wilkinson asserts, new media are playing by old rules on cost per thousand eyeballs.
At the Editors Weblog
for the World Association of Newspapers, there is a post on the recent introduction of i, the online paper in Lisbon, and its efforts at changing the format of a newspaper.
The principles behind the four sections are: Think, Know, Understand and Feel. The sections are called Opnion, Radar, Zoom and More. If
With the help of the revered Innovation group, i has reworked the organization of the paper: The first section of commentary (Think), followed by the second section of brisk news (Know) of stories no longer than a half-page, followed by the third of in-depth content (Understand) of stories up to 10 pages, and the fourth of arts, life, and sports (Feel).
The newspaper's editor believes this construct best represents the needs of the audience. If we had to do it all over again, it would be interesting to see how content might be reorganized.