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 Monday, March 25, 2013:
Matthew Ingram, writing for paidContent,
relates his discussions with media scholars Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky on the future of media. Their conclusion: there is a "barbell" issue in media, with either end of media, big and small, generally in good shape with strong reputations or relationships. But the middle remains quite uncertain. While Ingram doesn't suggest solutions, he concludes the challenges for medium-sized media are significant.
Matt Sokoloff, writing for the hyperlocal StreetFight blog,
suggests newspapers could evolve into "local membership" organizations, using their reach to connect people to a series of services, programs, discounts and offers. The opportunities would deliver strong revenue, too.
Lauren Hockenson, writing for 10000 Words
, discusses the relatively new phenomenon of hacking journalist accounts and provides a tip sheet on two-step verification to protect online identities. She argues it's a necessity, given some of the recent events.
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University released an essay today
--- admittedly part survey and part manifesto --- on the impact of the digital transformation on the business and standards of journalism.
The three authors --- notables C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky --- identify many of the critical challenges for journalism as the traditional models are replaced by "Post-Industrial Journalism."
its authors' starting points involve five beliefs:
— Journalism matters.
— Good journalism has always been subsidized.
— The internet wrecks advertising subsidy.
— Restructuring is, therefore, a forced move.
— There are many opportunities for doing good work in new ways.
From there they examine what journalists can do, what organizations can do to support them, and what the new media ecology looks like.
Its advice for journalists: Know yourself and know the tools you need. For existing organizations: Decide what you want to do and shed the rest, develop partnerships and make the cost of everything excellent and cheap. For new players: Survive.
NYU communications scholar Clay Shirky, in an essay for the Wall Street Journal
, notes that every new form of communication has brought on predictions of a societal dumbing-down. The Internet is no different.
Yes, he says, there is much mediocrity because most publicly available media now is produced by those with little or no understanding of professional standards of journalism, writing or filmmaking. But there are also so much great content in the pipeline because of the arrival of the Internet; on balance, there is no doubt about its advancement of society.
"This issue isn't whether there's lots of dumb stuff online—there is, just as there is lots of dumb stuff in bookstores. The issue is whether there are any ideas so good today that they will survive into the future," he writes. Open-source software seems to be such an idea, he suggests.
"There is no easy way to get through a media revolution of this magnitude; the task before us now is to experiment with new ways of using a medium that is social, ubiquitous and cheap, a medium that changes the landscape by distributing freedom of the press and freedom of assembly as widely as freedom of speech."
Communications scholar Clay Shirky notes
that the most-viewed video of the last five years is a child biting his brother's finger twice. It was done with a relatively cheap camera, no money changed hands, and no one seems to have made a fortune from it.
It is, in short, an example of how the world has changed. Cheap bits now compete with expensive bits and often put expensive bits at relative disadvantage.
Problem is, the complex business of media often can't convert itself to the simple business of media. It, and other systems and businesses, frequently have to collapse before they pick up the new traits.
"A world where that is the kind of thing that just happens from time to time is a world where complexity is neither an absolute requirement nor an automatic advantage," Shirky writes.
He says the old system is broken. It needs to understand something it cannot actually do. It is bureaucratized, laden with complexities, and just cannot compete.
"But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future," he concludes.