Four media stories of note for Monday, April 1, 2013:
PaidContent contributor Eliza Kern writes about her own "Generation Mooch"
and how it will be difficult, to say the least, to get her cohort to pay for content that has been freely available. This generation has little or no experience paying and she notes it even rides on a parent's subscription for content in behind a paywall, so it is a real question on whether it can be turned into an audience that change its habit and financially support content.
Karen Rothmyer, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review,
reflects on her time as the first public editor for the Kenya TImes. She notes the precious concept of press freedom in developing countries has brought with it a respect for standards and a determination to independently oversee them, even if the work produces some uncomfortable results.
The Los Angeles Times raises questions
about an advertising deal in the Orange County Register with three universities who will receive editorial coverage in exchange for their financial support. The Times notes the universities would help generate the editorial ideas and coverage. The paper asserts it retains editorial control, but the Times says some staff are uncomfortable with the arrangement.
The American Journalism Review looks at DNAInfo.com,
one of the newer entrants in the hyperlocal journalism field. Underwritten by billionaire Joe Ricketts, the sites write extensively about a range of elements in New York and Chicago and have built impressive audiences in the early going. The question now is whether the financial support will follow the audience support, the article notes.
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.
Four media stories of interest for Monday, March 11, 2013:
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for The New York Times, looks at the "danger" of suppressing leaks
of classified information. She wonders what the world would be like without an understanding of Abu Ghraib, black sites, or the drone program. She explores the concerns that leaks can undermine security, but notes that the trend line is toward chilling journalistic investigation. She concludes the Times needs to be more robust as a media leader in this realm.
Jack Shafer, the veteran media columnist writing now for Reuters,
examines the rise of "native advertising" or "sponsored content" and is skeptical of its effectiveness. He says "publishers are advertisers have polluted their own tradition by erasing the traditional line" between editorial and advertising content. One result of this blur, he asserts, is that readers will blame controversial stories on advertisers and controversial ads on journalists.
Jeff Jarvis, in his latest Buzzmachine post,
notes the collapse of the Daily Voice hyperlocal enterprise and identifies some of the common causes of strife in the sector and what might address them. More than anything, Jarvis says, the ventures are trying to do too much, too soon, on scales that are not sustainable. While hyperlocal efforts will eventually take hold, he believes financiers need to place their efforts away from tools and grants and into consciously sustainable models --- even if they're small.
The Mr. Magazine vlog interviews
Keith Kelly, the media reporter for the New York Post, on the biggest problem in media. His one-minute video concludes that advertisers don't know how to use digital properly yet.
Some media stories of note for Wednesday, Feb. 13:
Cory Bergman, the general manager of Breaking News, has a five-point brief
at Poynter today to accompany a live chat in which he asserts mobile will disrupt journalism in the same way the Internet did. He argues a mobile-first, not a mobile-too approach is necessary. In short, his points: responsive design is not a strategy; mobile will surpass, even erode, the desktop; desktop declines will hurt news revenues; news needs to solve problems; technology companies are getting the mobile-first idea.
Matthew Ingram, writing in GigaOm,
reports on the social network and hyperlocal site Nextdoor and its efforts to build an exclusive, verified service for specific neighbourhoods. He identifies the differences between Nextdoor and some other, more open hyperlocal services, and cites the closed nature of Nextdoor as one of the keys to its possible success.
Time Warner appears to be ready to sell portions of Time Inc., according to Fortune.
A meeting today will pursue the matter. It is possible that such titles as People, Real Simple and InStyle would be rolled into a new firm and sold, leaving Time Warner with Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. The publishing division is substantial, with $3.4 billion in revenue.
Jonah Lehrer, the author and literary journalist who was caught up in a plagiarism scandal last year, resurfaced publicly Tuesday to speak to the Knight Foundation
(his speaking fee was $20,000). He apologized, but Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute suggests
Lehrer mainly stirred up more negative than positive response in a craft not quite ready to forgive and forget.
These are the early days of digital news alternatives to the mainstream, so any report that surfaces on what seems to work (and not) is welcome. The J-Lab, underwritten by the Knight Foundation, has some early learning
on hyperlocal news sites to share.The summary isn't terribly pretty: The business model depends on grants, the most sustainable models are extensions of someone's personal commitment, and training the public to be citizen contributors is a high-churn, low-return concept.But within its findings is a big revelation: Rather than replace conventional outlets, the hyperlocal sites are adding to the public sphere's information."
They’ve done a bunch of other things as well: They triggered other news stories, helped solve community problems, imparted a lot of political knowledge that empowered voters, and engendered a new level of accountability for municipal leaders," a summary of the report says.
The term "hyperlocal" suggests several things: Very granular content on specific places, aggregated content that depicts a new local picture, or subject matter or content that deals with geographic organization, among them. Sarah Hartley, who runs the city blogs for The Guardian, thinks we need to reconsider the
She thinks it's more about an attitude than about geography. She's identified 10 features of hyperlocal:
1. The author's participation.
2. The blurring of opinion and fact.
3. The community's participation.
4. Small in scale but large in impact.
10. Frugal and economically fledgling.
Are there others? What do you think?
Inside Higher Ed offers an idea
to fill some of the gap created by the loss of voice in some markets: Models based on the expertise in universities or related institutions.
The academic blogger. Campus-based ventures for local and regional news. Undergraduates serving as reporters. Land-grant approaches to funding. Tapping into the constellation of entities (galleries, museums, and the like) associated with the university.
All are put on the table as possibilities in this intriguing approach.
"If these trends continue, the public affairs that most nearly touch our everyday lives -- school board elections, library censorship battles, state bond issues, social service regulations, land development schemes -- will become veiled from public discussion," writes David Scobey. "Those with power will have a powerful incentive to inside dealing and corruption; those without it will have a powerful inducement to acquiescence."
The announcement this week of a deal between
the Seattle Times and a batch of local neighbourhood blogs is an indication of the change under way in news.
Only a couple of years ago, a deal like this would have been unthinkable for either party --- the legacy media wouldn't have deigned to open themselves to the hyperlocal parties, and those parties would have found it suffocating to play with the Goliaths.
Mutual interests have emerged: legacy media want the granular coverage, hyperlocal media need the larger impact to generate a better business model.
The nature of the deal is lacking in financial specifics. It's all about exploring advertising opportunities, collaborating on content, exchanging links and audiences, and agreeing to examine the common opportunities.
But it's an interesting model for others to study. Seattle is one of the strongest examples of a market able to pursue such a deal, but there are others near and far.
It has been a busy week in the world of so-called hyperlocal news.
The Washington Post closed LoudonExtra.com
, its major initiative into neighbourhood news. Everyblock
, tne exceptional technological platform to examine what's happening on your street and in your midst, was sold to MSNBC. Huffington Post and Facebook
worked through a new model of social networking that has strong local applicability. And a conference at the Aspen Institute discussed some business model
proposals (largely shooting them down, which is the way critics typically work en route to acceptance).
Fast Company's Michael Gluckstadt chronicles the week
that was and implies a more interesting question toward the end of his piece. He suggests hyperlocal ought not be judged as some sort of saviour of journalism, but as a model on ints own that contributes to the broader public sphere.
Fast Company delivers a sobering piece
on the economic promise and delivery of hyperlocal news --- the term for information about your street, district and community at a very granular level.
It is, as Fast Company suggests, a $100-billion potential in the United States. But the consumer demand isn't being met by sites, and sites aren't meeting the demands of advertisers. The result is the absence of a business model.
What Fast Company concludes is that the idea itself is excellent. It just needs to marry its potential audience with its potential revenue, and that may be some time away.