Media stories of note for Wednesday, April 10, 2013:
The veteran news executive, Alan Mutter, argues in his latest post
that online paywalls are not the blessing they appear to be. While they are helping to staunch the revenue declines many newspapers are experiencing, their main impact is to extract revenue from loyal readers. In effect, they fail to broaden audience appeal, a necessary condition for media sustainability. Mutter believes a partial solution comes in the form of reinvesting subscription revenue into new technologies in mobile.
Curtis Brainard, writing for Columbia Journalism Review,
discusses seven rules to avoid gratuitous descriptions of female scientists. The rules are called the Finkbeiner Test, named after a science blogger, and they suggest no story mention a) that she is a woman, b) her husband's job, c) her child-care arrangements, d) how she nurtures underlings, e) how she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field, f) how she is a role model for other women, and g) how she is the "first woman to" do something.
The European has published much of a conversation
between its deputy executive editor Martin Eiermann and NYU media scholar Clay Shirky on the meaning of journalism in 2013. There are several threads of note, including the assertion that journalism has failed to comprehend the need for collaboration with the audience and some insight on why Shirky resists identifying a business model to help solve the economic challenges of the industry.
Media stories of note for Friday, March 15, 2013:
The British government has shut down talks
among political parties and determined it wants a vote Monday on its measures to regulate the press. Prime MInister David Cameron called off all-party talks Thursday and today his party's culture secretary urged support for Cameron's press charter. Among other things it would levy up to million-pound fines and publish up-front apologies in cases of intrusion or misreporting. Opposition parties had been calling for stronger moves, including laws, but Cameron has ruled out legislation as excessive and unenforceable. The measures follow the Leveson inquiry into press conduct in response to the phone-hacking scandal.
Alan Mutter, in his latest post for Reflections of a Newsosaur
, has a prescription for newspapers that includes specifics on what they should and should not cover. Stop rehashing stories already widely known, use graphics instead of words, and quit writing background-padded articles in long-running stories, the veteran newsand tech executive says. Also: focus on people, not process; be local, not global; look forward, not back; show transparency; discuss, don't dominate; and be diverse.
A Reuters social media manager has been indicted
in the United States for alleging assisting the Anonymous hacking group with entering the Tribune Co. computer system and defacing its websites. Matthew Keys, a former Tribune television employee at the time of the episode, has been suspended by Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal examines
the emergence of online video advertising as a force in media growth and change. While ad rates are declining due to increased inventory, several major players are entering the space. The result will be a bigger, if less profitable, sector.
Media stories for Wednesday:
Scientific American's Bora Zivkovic provides an extensive, exceptionally researched guide
to the strengths and weaknesses of online comments and the challenges they pose for media. He has a long list of recommendations, mainly involving increased engagement and moderation, but all pointing to the need for greater effort to enhance dialogue.
Alan Mutter, in his latest post on his Reflections of a Newsosaur,
argues that too many newspaper stories are too long. In recent weeks the Columbia Journalism Review surveyed papers
and found a decline in longform reporting. Mutter says many stories should be told not necessarily entirely with words, but with charts or other visual data. He concludes that "no one has time for this self-indulgence any more." He kept his column to 722 words.
On the other hand, AdWeek notes
the uptick in longform online sports journalism. In a feature on the development, AdWeek observes that some journalists are heading to the web to develop "rambling reads" when their print outlets are backing out of the business of lengthy pieces.
Media stories for Friday:
This week's online/offline sponsored feature on The Atlantic Online from the Church of Scientology reprised questions about the viability of sponsored content in harmony with editorial standards. The Poynter Institute's Jeff Sonderman takes a crack
at identifying the sweet spot in a lengthy feature on how the two concepts can coexist. The features need to be honest, serve the reader, be congruent with the editorial style, be independently created and reviewed, and be such that a news organization might very well run it if it weren't sponsored.
The Columbia Journalism Review confirms in an audit
what many have suspected: The number of longform stories at major news organizations is in decline. Reporter Dean Starkman acknowledges that length does not equal quality necessarily, but that the decline suggests news organizations are devoting less of their resources to complex stories.
Earlier this week, Alan Mutter wrote that newspaper readers were aging considerably --- that three-quarters of them were over 45. But Tom Rosenstiel, the American Press Institue chief and former news executive who oversaw the study Mutter cited, asserts that the
conclusion isn't necessarily accurate. The readership across platforms is considerably more diverse and the data suggest there is a migration to new platforms and not a drift away from legacy media.
Media Notes for Tuesday:
There continues fallout from CNET's move last week to rescind an award at the annual CES convention to The Dish Network at the direction of CNET's parent company, CBS, a competitor and litigant against Dish. BuzzFeed notes that a leading reporter for CNET has resigned
, saying he could not tolerate the impact on his independence, and The Hollywood Reporter says
that the decision to rescind was approved at the very top of CBS by Les Moonves.
The Atlantic had a busy day in the limelight Monday, first featuring and then dropping an online "paid content" advertorial on the accomplishments of the Church of Scientology. The Hollywood Reporter has a look at the issue.
The feature raised concerns about the seemingly thin line for readers at times online between journalism and advertising. The Next Web reports
that another element of the issue was The Atlantic's decision to moderate the online public comments, but notes the online/offline fuss may have given the sponsor more attention than it would have otherwise received.
Alan Mutter, in his latest post
on his Reflections of a Newsosaur site, analyzes the U.S. newspaper audience changes since 2010 and concludes that three-quarters of the audience is now aged 45 and older. He says that is up from about one-half only three years ago. The difference is the absence of 20- and 30-somethings from the mix. He concludes the newspaper audience wil die off because these younger people won't grow into print readers.
Reflections of a Newsosaur offers some of the wisest observations on the evolution of the news industry. Newspaper/online veteran Alan Mutter is agnostic in taking the business to task, in that he spares no critique for any quarter.
His latest post
identifies some of the failing factors as journalists launch start-ups as fledgling entrepreneurs. His most potent point: "Instead of trying to build a business, they are trying to give themselves the job they always wanted."
Mutter talked to three start-ups, kept their identities secret, and found common problems in their strategies seeking success. Mostly, they just didn't act like business people. They spent hours chasing stories and tweaking their sites but had no energy left to chase their audience or an income.
Instead, the journalists are busy being journalists and hoping their artistic success will create commercial success.
"Unless they invest as much deliberate effort in building audience and revenues as they do into chasing stories, the journalists run the very real risk of going broke and/or wearing themselves out before they achieve the critical mass necessary to ensure the long-term viability of their ventures," he surmises.
Industry veteran Alan Mutter emerges from the cone of confidentiality agreements to discuss on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog what he told the newspaper publishers in Chicago last week about the business models.
Essentially he brought them ViewPass, a platform proposal for an industry cooperative of content providers that would build user data and develop a stronger economic base for targeted advertising online.
In the same way PayPal became a substitute for cash, ViewPass would a recognized brand that would standardize content delivery and access for registered users.
The longer it's in place, the more ViewPass would collect data on users and target richer content and tailored advertising their way.
Mutter is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a newspaper industry background.