Here are some media stories of note for Friday, June 7, 2013:The New York Times writes
about the sudden prominence of security/surveillance of journalism blogger Glenn Greenwald, whose report late Wednesday on the secretive court order
to compile Verizon phone data has sent substantial shock waves through the communities interested in privacy, journalism and politics. Greenwald himself, writing for The Guardian,
followed that report Thursday with a co-written one on Prism, an NSA program that involved six large digital companies. Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, a University of Nebraska communications professor, writes for Huffington Post
that it is very hard for the Obama Administration to profess a respect for freedom when it is spying on its citizens.
Last week, digital analyst Mary Meeker's annual report drew attention for a surprising statistic: smartphone owners use their phones on average 150 times a day. The reference has made it across the Web widely (half a million references to it in Google search, for instance). SFGate reports
that the claim can't be supported by any data. Jeff Elder, the social media director for the San Francisco Chronicle, says Meeker's firm defends the claim but that the original source she cites has distanced itself from the claim, too.
Stuart Watson, an investigative report for a Charlotte TV station and a former Nieman fellow, debunks the myth that investigative reporting is for lone wolves. He writes in Nieman Reports
that it's a collaborative, iterative process that is "inherently social and almost always derivative." Watchdogs need to work together, he says.
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 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.
Media stories for Friday:
Earlier this week Huffington Post featured
a piece on videogame arcades from The Verge, snipping its opening passage (more than 200 words, a clip it later reduced) and sending traffic to that site through its own. The move prompted a complaint from The Verge that the procedure sapped some of the search engine recognition from its story and sent it to Huffington Post. Andrew Beaujon writes for The Poynter Institute
that this dispute has important implications for publishers in an era of linked journalism and traffic-based metrics of success.
There have been two significant developments involving successful social media platforms that are aiming to broaden their appeal. Twitter has introduced a six-second video application, Vine,
that Reuters suggests is an indication
that video is a large part of Twitter's future. And Tumblr has unfurled changes that TechCrunch asserts
render it more like a fully-featured Twitter than a blogging platform. Each development also has implications for journalism.
This week Huffington Post
suspended one of its writers for extensively rewriting content from AdAge and linking only to it at the end of the piece. Essentially this reduced the amount of referral traffic to AdAge
from the giant HuffPo, which in turn decided that its writer needed to be suspended indefinitely.
The episode raised an important issue for digital journalism: How much aggregation is too much in an age of snippets, excerpts and sharing? Yahoo, one of Huffington Post's competitors, has weighed in
with an analysis of the situation.
Huffington Post, like most online operations, will borrow enough from a piece to convey its general sense. But its editorial standards create a boundary well short of outright echo. That being said, many saw an inconsistency
this week in its suspension of the writer.
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.
AdAge writes about
the Huffington Post founder's belief in the four Es of journalism: engagement, enthusiasm, empathy and energy --- and their direction of the digital sphere.
Arianna Huffington argues that user-generated content is the future focal point of journalism. Conventional media need to understand that.
She notes that more video has been uploaded on YouTube in the last two months than if the major television networks had run video every moment of their existence.
She suggests empathic work --- setting about to pursue a cause through journalism --- is attracting companies to do better things with their media spends.
The release Monday of Huffington Post's partnership with Facebook has touched off a quick response from Slate's Chadwick Matlin
, who sees the aggregation/behavioural tracker as the future of journalism.
Essentially HuffPost Social News
is going to use Facebook Connects to track the Huffington Post stories and assets you read and share. The implications are substantial for those who want greater insight --- and greater opportunities to monetize --- the practices of those consuming online media.
This application permits you to understand what your friends are consuming, too, which in this era of word-of-mouth-high-value ought to also yield useful data to produce business models.
Matlin asks what will happen if other sites develop this relationship with Facebook. What will be the social network's power in that case?
Huffington Post has created a $1.75-million fund for the coming year to hire 10 journalists and freelancers to develop stories concerning the U.S. economy. It is the latest entry into journalism through the philanthropic route.
This is being extolled as an investigative journalism initiative, which is always a bit of a danger entering an exercise because it raises expectations. It might be better for HuffPo to simply say it's going to establish a fund for journalism, period. It is, after all, a site with tens of millions of page views each month that depends almost entirely on free submissions. This fund more than doubles its workforce.
The initiative is a partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies, which focuses on health, aging, population, reconciliation, human rights and youth. Other donors are involved, too.
A strong feature of the fund is that all Web sites will be permitted to carry the results of the journalists' work simultaneously.
Bob Guccione Jr. has spent a couple of months guest-editing Media magazine. He's sent along something to Huffington Post in which he predicts:
a) Big-city dailies will become free, with charges for home delivery,
b) Internet firms will collapse en masse, making print a successful niche media again,
c) Google will lose market share as others create better search engines, and
d) A cable channel will surpass the four major TV networks due to better programming.
Bold predictions, certainly contrarian.