Media notes for Friday, April 26, 2013:
South Africa pushed through contentious legislation Thursday that restricts access to information and imposes fines and penalties including jail time for journalists who publish what the government considers secrets. The Guardian notes
there is widespread agreement that the bill's onerous measures have been reduced in the five-year debate since it was proposed, but critics believe there remains discretion for the government to curtail press freedom. Some see it as the first erosion of democracy since apartheid was eliminated in the country nearly two decades ago.
The English-language Egypt Independent closed abruptly Thursday. The New York TImes reports
that the site, one of the most aggressive in chronicling political change in the country, was experiencing financial difficulties that investors said could not be surmounted. But it also notes that its staff believes there was a political motive in the closure because of the site's criticism of the president and the Muslim Brotherhood. That observation is shared in a commentary on Tahrir Squared.
A new law in England and Wales makes it tougher to sue. The New York Times reports
that the bill passed Thursday does not switch the burden of proof from the defendant, but it offers some provisions to strengthen their position. They can, for instance, claim the information was published in good faith and that it was in the public interest. The bill also is aimed at reducing "libel tourism," in which people chose England as a litigation venue even when publicity of the information was minor there.
Media stories of note for Thursday, April 11, 2013:
As it finds new business models to sustain journalism, the industry is trying a variety of approaches, including digital subscriptions. In one Dutch case, an organization is asking readers to subscribe to an individual journalist. For less than two euros a month, readers of De Nieuw Pers can subscribe to a journalist-driven channel of content. Nieman Journalism Lab reports
on the new operation for freelance journalists in the Netherlands.
The shifting business model is attempting to find revenue from social media or create some form of currency. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports
on a proposed Korean effort that rewards readers with access to articles if they share the organization's articles across social media. The literary magazine, Sasannge, will be relaunched on the Web. Readers will be given a certain number of "points" they will use as they read. If the share the content, their points are replenished.
Poynter's News University, the e-learning site underwritten by the Knight Foundation to teach best practices online to the industry, is eight years old and has served 250,000 registered users. Howard Finberg, its creator, writes on some of the lessons learned:
participants are different, engagement is vital, clear objectives are important, interactivity is essential, measurement is a must, listening is required, and there should be no assumptions. Oh, and have fun. They are lessons he believes can be applied more broadly to journalism.
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, April 5, 2013:
Craig Silverman, writing for Poynter. org
, notes the development of an industry handbook
to deal with issues of plagiarism and fabrication. It was created by 14 news organizations, 10 associations and 10 institutions. Essentially it uses truth as a guide and calls for the "golden rule" in attribution, among other things.
Tracie Powell, writing for Columbia Journalism Review,
argues that the next Federal Communications Commission chair is going to have a significant impact on journalism. Apart from concentration issues, the FCC will be looking at broadband, broadcast diversity, and transparency in political advertising.
Jeff Israely, who has been chronicling his adventure in starting a media site for the Nieman Journalism Lab,
argues that it's a myth people are not paying for news. He wants to delete the term "subsidy" to describe the support for news. Rather, he notes, there is reason to be optimistic that people are paying, and will pay, for news.
Media stories of note for Wednesday, March 20, 2013:
Set aside the dire picture of the news business, says Matthew Yglesias in Slate
. People have never been better served as consumers of news. While this week's State of the News Media report painted a troubled industry, Yglesias says that is only the problem of the producer and not the consumer, who has more and better ways of acquiring information than ever.
The British move to create a new press regulator has settled very little. Newspaper and magazine editors fear the new entity could cripple their publications and The Guardian says
major companies are considering their own breakaway body to deal with standards and practices.
Wonder why Warren Buffett is buying certain types of newspapers? Peter Beller and Sarah Erickson, writing for The News Hook,
have a look at the criteria he appears to select and the equation he has established for survivability of papers.
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.
Five media stories of note for Wednesday, March 13, 2013:
The chairman of the India Press Council has proposed there be minimum qualifications for journalists. The Hindu reports
that Justice Markandey Katju has established a committee of two other council members and a professor in order to make recommendations for legislation. He says that untrained people enter journalism and do not hold high standards. It is time for there to be professional qualifications enacted in law, he says. Industry reaction, not surprisingly, has been critical of the proposal.
In Australia, meanwhile, there is political and industry opposition
to the government's new package of media reforms. Among them is the establishment of a public interest advocate to oversee the self-regulatory press council and to review such industry transactions as mergers. The government defends
the reforms as integral to public trust of media, while industry suggests the reforms are intrusive. News Corp., the largest media company in Australia, has called the moves Stalinism.
A two-part post in theMediaBriefing
features a presentation by German academics who argue that a rethinking of editorial models is necessary in the time ahead to invest in high-quality, unique content. But they argue that the fear of crisis inhibits innovation.
Could a print-on-demand model help publishers in the digital age? theMediaBriefing writes
of the success Scientific American enjoyed in creating a print version of a digital application. While it wouldn't replace print revenues, it might augment digital-centric operations.
A new study for the U.S. National Newspaper Network has good news for the print media: It's the choice of sports fans. A survey conducted for the network found sports fans preferred newspapers over television, radio or other print outlets for coverage and analysis of sports. Poynter Online, in summarizing the study
, also noted newspaper websites were preferred over their digital counterparts.
Three media stories of note for Tuesday, March 12, 2013:
A proposed Texas law rearranges the obligations of media and the opportunities for litigants in defamation cases. Nieman Journalism Lab reports
on the proposed "retraction statute" that would oblige those who believe they have been defamed to contact publishers to give them an opportunity to retract, correct or clarify with the same prominence as the original publication. If they do so, a plaintiff can't be awarded punitive damages. If they do, they are entitled to a reasonable amount of information that can confirm the error. Out-of-court efforts would be made, too, to avoid expensive and protracted legislation. The bill would promote "truth in publication."
Gawker's Deadspin blog, known for its verve, has taken a detour in its approach and suddenly opened itself to a public "contributor network" with the same creative tools as its writing staff. It has PandoDaily pronouncing it
as throwing in the towel and taking the route toward Huffington Post and Bleacher Report and away from its original path. PandoDaily's Bryan Goldberg says all media properties need to embrace the fact that more traffic is better than less, professional writers are not the only valid voices, and innovation is the only route out of the challenging economics.
Veteran news executive and advisor Gordon Crovitz weighs in on last week's spat
between freelance journalist Nate Thayer, who worked for him in Cambodia, and The Atlantic Online. It will be recalled that The Atlantic wanted Thayer to rewrite his reporting fot them free. Crovitz, writing for the Wall Street Journal, laments this and notes that the tumult in journalism is driven by declines in advertising. Some journalism will be free, but the important journalism will require underwriting. "We need to find ways of paying for it," he concludes.
Three media stories of note for Monday, March 4, 2013:
The Washington Post has decided not to have an ombudsman. It announced Friday it will create a role within its newsroom for a readers' representative who will on occasion write in the paper and online on matters of audience concern. Post publisher Katherine Weymouth said
other media writers and the audience will help Patrick Pexton, the Post ombudsman, ended his two-year term Friday with a column
on some of what he had learned.
Robert McChesney, the American media scholar, writes in Salon.com
on what happens to democracy if the digital business model cannot finance journalism. In an excerpt of his next book, McChesney says the transformation to digital would be acceptable if an acceptable replacement accompanied the change. Instead, he argues that it is unclear if anyone can be commercially successful outside of media aimed at the wealthy or business. The proof that journalism is a public good is that no one is making money from it, he concludes.
Greg Satell, writing for Forbes.com,
isn't pessimistic but believes it's necessary for print media to change its thinking to succeed in the time ahead. Above all else, he says, it has to recognize that marketers will pay more for consumers than consumers will pay for content. He says video, affiliate programs and social media integration are keys to sustained print media.
Here are some media stories of note for Thursday, February 21, 2013:
Felix Salmon of Reuters started a two-part series today
on content economics. He examines why advertising dollars are not necessarily reaching people online, how network television is sustained by its different, intermediated model that cannot convert into an online model, and how online publishers are finding it difficult to create business models in a climate of direct content from brands.
Christopher Mims, writing for Quartz
, assesses the new Yahoo home page and concludes that it's irrelevant. For that matter, he notes, no one is talking about anyone's home page any longer because that isn't how content is being consumed. Content is shared and a home page may never be seen.
TV viewing has been measured traditionally over the years by Nielsen, but The Hollywood Reporter indicates changes
to Nielsen's approach means it will soon count online streaming, the Xbox and PlayStation and, eventually, iPad and other tablet viewing to create program ratings measurements.