Media stories for Friday:
Reuters reports the European Publishers Council, mindful of Google's settlement last week with France, is arguing
that the company must extend its offer to pay media for its content across the continent. It asserts that Google makes its money from the free access to published content. While Google has never agreed to pay for links, it has settled in France and Belgium with funds to support media.
AOL released quarterly financials today that indicate revenue growth, but there was precious little about the performance of its hyperlocal Patch operation. Bernard Lunn, the digital media and software entrepreneur, has an extensive post
on the importance of the Patch experiment for those who wonder about the business model of local journalism in the digital age. He believes the successes in local content will be the authentically committed, not those with the hot money.
The day after the announced closure of EveryBlock, a ground-breaking but ultimately unsuccessful venture in local content, Knight-Mozilla Open Project leader Dan Sinker writes of its impact.
While EveryBlock failed to catch on for a variety of reasons, Sinker says there are countless versions of what it originally coded now on display as integral in our way of approaching local information. "EveryBlock is one of those ideas that bent the world in a new way when it came around," he writes.
Media notes for Saturday-Sunday:
Jay Rosen, the journalism scholar at New York University, publishes on his Pressthink blog
a succinct yet wide-ranging argument about the climate in traditional journalism --- what it is right about (among other things, overload), what it is wrong about (among other things, business ignorance) --- that summarizes the challenges of the craft.
Jay Kirsch, the president of AOL's business, technology and entertainment group, weighs in on
the recent controversy involving CBS' involvement in its subsidiary CNET's decision to recognize a CBS rival and litigant with an award (the award was rescinded and CNET was restrained from writing about the rival Dish Network product). Kirsch writes at TechCrunch (one of AOL's holdings) such involvement in the so-called church and state relationship doesn't hurt the church --- it hurts the state.
David Gelernter, the Yale computer science professor widely credited for his foresight about the web, writes for Wired
on the emergence of information timeline streams and how they will create the end of the web, the reorienting of search, and the shift of computers to devices that "tune in" to the latest information.
David Carr, in his latest Media Equation column
for The New York Times, reports on how traditional media aren't faring badly, at least for the time being. Media companies have managed in 2012 to perform ahead of many other industries and cope with change. "Eventually we may be right — the sky will fall and the business will collapse — but for the time being, the sky over traditional media is blue and it’s raining green," he writes.
Jay Rosen, the New York University journalism professor, offers a view
on the emerging model of journalism that emphasizes truth-telling and eschews the notion of objectivity or the division between news and opinion. "The outlines of the new system are coming into view. Accuracy and verification, fairness and intellectual honesty–traditional virtues for sure–join up with transparency, 'show your work,' the re-voicing of individual journalists, fact-checking, calling BS when needed and avoiding false balance. Progress is slow, we’re not there yet, but this is the direction things are headed in," he writes.
Stuart Leavenworth, writing for the Sacramento Bee,
examines the plight of the newspaper editorial and the debate about its place in a media environment of emerging forms of engagement and a reduction in the one-to-many and top-down traditional media approach. He concludes, as an editor responsible for that function, there is a role for them as adcocates as part of a broadly-based newsroom effort to involve the audience ,
The AOL Jobs site
, citing a recent book, notes that media jobs rank third and journalism jobs sixth in attracting those with the characteristics of psychopaths.
At first, the notion of a paywall seemed silly. Better to take it down and get the traffic.
But when the traffic didn't turn into profit readily, the notion took on new seriousness. For some time now, publishers have been weighing the benefits of reconstructing a paywall to bring revenue.
In his latest post, veteran media and tech executive Alan Mutter notes the arrival
of new, well-heeled local players in the game (Yahoo, AOL, Huffington Post), all willing to give away content others contemplate placing in behind the paywall.
Mutter's conclusion: "For anyone other than publishers of mission-critical business or government news like the Wall Street Journal and possibly the New York Times, pay walls will not fly. It is time for everyone else to move on to more productive pursuits."
Those pursuits? Unique products for print, online and mobile, valued by customers and advertisers alike. Charging for day-to-day coverage is not likely "fruitful," he argues on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog.
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 Business Insider has posted
an AOL user survey of its Seed.com freelancers. It has some interesting findings on what drives people to contribute and what AOL might be pursuing as operating tactics.
While it's not clear how many contributors participated in the survey, their top motivators to get them to provide content: contests to encourage and ratings systems to reinforce.
Similarly, the survey suggests AOL is looking at outsourcing some functions like copy-editing and fact-checking.
The survey is attached.
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.