Some media stories of note for Monday, April 29, 2013:
A study by Quantum Media Holdings suggests Americans are spending 16 minutes per hour attached to social media, Australians are spending 14 minutes and those in U.K. 13 minutes. The principal driver in this data is smartphone use. Fox Business reports
that Quantum says a lot of the time spent is "ego-centric" generation of photos and messages about personal activities, more so than browsing content.
For years publishers have been pushing for Google to pay royalties for their content. But The Wrap notes
another such advocate has entered the fray and he is no shrinking violet. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein says Google's failure to pay creators for content amounts to stealing, and that technologist are earning billions while artists are struggling. He noted YouTube's dominance as a video site, expressed concern about the fate of newspapers and magazines in this environment, and encouraged Congress to pay a law that would generate royalties for creators.
A Canadian lawsuit stands to test the boundaries of libel in online comments. The former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke, has filed a lawsuit against 18 anonymous commenters who posted what he says are libels about him. He intends to unmask the commenters and pursue legal action against them. The Globe and Mail reports
that privacy law experts believe it is only a matter of time before other such suits test the limits of what sites and message boards can legally post.
Media stories of note for Monday, March 18, 2013:
The annual State of the News Media report
has been released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report is a scorecard on media, primarily in the U.S., in the last year with special examination of elements of media. This year's report identifies several critical problems, principally a smaller workforce in traditional outlets and the rise of special-interest groups in covering significant news. Its other main conclusions:
the public is noticing the cuts, the news industry isn't earning a large share of digital advertising, there is a sharp growth in sponsored content, the growth in digital subscriptions appears to be having an impact on revenue, local TV news is following newspapers into cuts, word-of-mouth is leading to deeper news consumption.
Britain's Parliament will vote Monday on a proposed charter to regulate the media. On the eve of the vote, The Guardian reports t
hat three major news companies indicate they would boycott any regulator with legal clout (a proposal from the opposition Labour party) and establish their own self-regulation. The proposal follows the collapse of all-party talks on the matter following the Leveson inquiry into press conduct. Early Monday, though, the three parties agreed on a plan,
although they are publicly disagreeing on whether there is legal underpinning of a regulator.
Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
has an elaborate look at what he believes will be the newsroom economics (newsonomics, as he calls it) in five years. His main expectation is that data will be gathered about the audience to permit advertisers to understand and value the content creators appropriately, but he has an extensive blueprint, much of it patterned on the recent successes of Financial Times in this space.
Justin Ellis, also writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
examines how The New York Times last week experimented with an online comment filter following the announcement of the Pope to filter their identities and moods. The result was a more structured and arguably more relevant online discussion, he concludes.
Media stories for Tuesday:
John Paton, the CEO of Digital First Media, explains his company's approach
to what he calls the Subscription Project, aka a paywall, and it has some differences from most. Its link to a Google survey delivers more information back to the company and clearly identifies some opportunities for relevant advertising. He isn't convinced paywalls are anything more than tweaking, but he is trying variations on for size. Matthew Ingram, writing for PaidContent,
has a look at his look.
Meena Thiruvengadam, in a contribution to the Poynter Institute site
, provides a tip sheet on how to create explanatory journalism, specifically how to identify and report them.
Hamish McKenzie, writing for PandoDaily,
adds his support to efforts by The Verge and Huffington Post to "attempt the impossible" and make online comment sections smarter. Both organizations have introduced separate pages that curate the perceived best of the litter. "So far, comments --- despite, and because of, their abundance --- have failed to live up to their potential . . .But thanks to machine learning, semantic analysis, design tricks, and a heavier curatorial hand, 2013 might just be the year when user-generated content on media sites finally gets smart."
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 Tuesday:
The Washington Post is attempting real-time fact-checking
with the launch of TruthTeller
, underwritten by the Knight Foundation as a journalism tool to extract content from political video and apply an algorithmic test to the veracity of the script. Essentially, it links what was said with what was earlier fact-checked. The Post acknowledges there is work to be done on the application and is encouraging users to help fine-tune it.
Martin Belam, writing for GigaOm,
challenges the notion that adopting the Facebook plug-in (or abandoning it) is the determinant of a civil, worthwhile online comment environment. Some news organizations have recently pulled away from the Facebook authentication of identity. Belam writes: "There’s no doubt that software design and features do influence community behaviors, but not as much as decent community management and personal engagement from journalists does."Lewis DVorkin writes for Forbes.com on the emerging personal brands of journalists and how that is changing the role of financial reporting. He particularly notes the value of participation in social media and the importance of audience engagement.
Media stories for Monday:PaidContent discusses
the new online commenting curation feature from Huffington Post that provides a web page for discussions called Conversations. The approach should provide more coherence to online comments, it reports, and a possibly strong revenue stream.
U.S. President Barack Obama gave an interview
to the newly revamped New Republic
and set out some concerns about the confrontational media environment in America that he asserts is part of the challenge of effective policy pursuit. He was particularly critical of false equivalencies that he says pose as objectivity in Beltway coverage.
Michael Arrington, TechCrunch's founding father, wrote twice this weekend
on the ethical challenges journalists face at CNET following parent company CBS' efforts to restrain coverage or recognition of CBS' competitors. He suggested principled resignations were in order, then backed off slightly to agree that some journalists would find it economically difficult to part ways immediately.
In recent weeks National Public Radio, newsrooms in the Postmedia chain in Canada, and other organizations have determined it necessary to place new conditions on online comments and how they are moderated.
The aim is to improve the quality of the comments by encouraging people to be identified and rewarding those who contribute positively to the experience. For years newsrooms have been besieged by comments that have not reflected well on their operations but been reluctant to turn down the tap for fear of depressing traffic.
In NPR's case, comments will be screened before they appear. In the Postmedia case, Facebook Connects will be employed to eliminate much of the anonymity that offers commenters a free rein.
Poynter Online's Jeff Sonderman wrote Thursday
about the moves.
The conventional assumption is that online anonymity enables free-wheeling public comments that do not always enhance the level of discourse. Real-name policies, like the one introduced recently by YouTube in conjunction with Google, are largely considered helpful in encouraging civil discussion.
But TechCrunch contributor Gregory Ferenstein says
there is evidence to the contrary --- that, far from improving discourse, the presence of real-name policies might even work against it.
Ferenstein notes the experience of Korean websites that instituted real-name policies for larger operations. The policy didn't lead to a decrease in malicious comments, but it did lead to increased hacking. Further U.S. academic research actually found an increase in expletives, too.
Ferenstein concludes: "The presence of some phantom judgmental audience doesn’t seem to make us better versions of ourselves."
One of the most challenging issues to the reputation of news organizations is how to deal with the stream of online comments, particularly those that stray from civility.Moderation often only infuriates commenters by delaying or filtering their views and preventing real-time debates. But the absence of moderation can be a free-for-all in no one's best interest, eventually eroding the reputation of the host.The New York Times is reworking its comments system to permit trusted readers --- those who consistently supply well-received comments --- to jump the queue and be posted publicly immediately. Others will have to await a moderator's touch.
The results will be interesting to see.What do you think of this?
Online public comments came in for quite the criticism
at the annual National Conference of Editorial Writers, the North American body for editorial-page leaders.The journalists said that oversight of those comments shouldn't have been surrendered, that the comments-for-traffic
trade has been a mistake, and that the standards of news organizations have been hurt by the arrival of comments.
While a panel discussion indicated that there is too much value in these comments to eliminate them, there was agreement that vigilant oversight is needed.