Some media stories of note for Friday, May 5, 2013:
Today is World Press Freedom Day, and the Editors Weblog notes
how the recent passage of the South African secrecy bill poses a new threat to expression by journalists of uncomfortable ideas. Critics express concern that journalists and whistleblowers will not be protected when they expose corruption.
Our perceptions of the strength and reach of particular social media might not be accurate. BuzzFeed has assembled
the official data to demonstrate what people are actually using. For instance, SnapChat is more popular than Instagram, Yahoo Mail is more popular than Twitter, and MySpace is about as popular as Spotify.
Mathew Ingram, writing for GigaOm,
takes on the idea that Twitter should have some sort of correction mechanism. The idea surfaces every time there is a large, complex event that spurs a fair amount of bad information. Ingram says correcting would ruin the vibe of Twitter, which is an iterative stream of real-time content. Much as he regrets making an errant Tweet, he thinks the wider crowd will eventually help fix the mistake.
Peter Verweij, writing for Memeburn,
tracks the development of data-driven journalism and its importance in modern story-telling. He notes the emergence of visualized data, programmable pages, maps and geographic information systems. While typical editors may lack the skills, there appears to be a need for developers in newsrooms to master the new opportunities.
Facebook today introduced a series of new ways
to discuss interests and what you like as part of a concerted campaign to gain a bigger share of what you share. More details are due later this week at its developers' conference.
It is, as the New York Times describes
, Facebook's effort to create a system of satellites for its users to share content with friends. But the community pages and "like" buttons aim to control more of a user's interactions with content and sites.
Facebook would like the implications for media to be clear: Get into its orbit or find yourself lost in space. The monetization opportunities abound.
Then again, a coalition of sites is creating a new system to share content across networks, not just Facebook. They're propelled by Meebo and include Google
For news organizations, this has some positive qualities in providing additional means by which content can be shared. At the same time it is wresting some control from the creators and vesting it in the intermediary.
Borrell Associates found something surprising in its latest study on advertising spending: Nearly 20 per cent of what's spent on social networking sites is local, not national, in nature.
It suggests local advertisers are beginning to use social networking sites (Facebook and MySpace are easily the two most prominent in the sites studied). As a percentage of overall local online spending, it's very small (three per cent).
Borrell estimates $641 million of an estimated $3.3 billion in social networking advertising will be of local origin this year.
Brian Solis writes a very-social-media-unlike-long essay for Techcrunch on the rise of other formats relative to the blog. His suggestion is that the blog is losing its status, that micro-blogging through Twitter, activity through Facebook and MySpace, and shared experience through FriendFeed, there is a new powerhouse out there.
It's not as if the blogosphere isn't galloping forward, just that blogs aren't necessarily the pace-setters of the latest race. Solis suggests there is a need for new measurements of the trendier techniques within micromedia.
Huge international growth from Facebook has brought it alongside MySpace in the social network field. Each has about 115 million unique visitors a month.
The latest comScore data demonstrates a very robust spring for Facebook growth, but it is principally outside of the U.S., where MySpace maintains a very substantial edge --- 72 million to 36 million (although that latter number is up from 23 million only a year ago).
Arguably the most significant conflict in social media history has erupted. It all started with a seemingly friendly --- as in the fledgling Google Friend Connect --- salvo that has alarmed Facebook to the point that it is denying service to the new social application.
Google followed both Facebook and MySpace into a three-day announcement binge on forms of data portability. They're all essentially efforts to grant wider distribution of curated data, and naturally there is plenty at stake.
Google's gesture has Facebook in a bind, in that Facebook users' data suddenly can't be transported to other applications. Which raises the question: Whose data is it --- the users' or the users' application? On that simple plain, Facebook users are bound to be scratching their heads soon.
It is, of course, a little less simple than that. If data is portable, what use is Facebook or MySpace or Twitter? They need that information --- the social graph --- to stay put so they can figure out how to mine it. In essence they're saying: You're in our home, and regardless of how you decorated it and socialized in it, it's still our home and you can't just leave.
Now, there are services like Zude that are doing this by stealth. But when Google knocks, the house shakes.
With a nice snippet of code and a thinking-ahead strategy, Google is essentially offering to pry loose information from other applications to an open source that would, in theory, also deliver advertising. How Google Friend Connect fares is secondary to the strategy of creating more open source identification applications --- which, in turn, plays into Google AdSense. At least, that's the best guess at the strategy.
When Eric Schmidt talks, everyone listens. And when the Google CEO acknowleges the company's $1.65-billion takeover of YouTube has yet to produce a revenue model, everyone should be paying attention.
No matter that YouTube is the brand leader and has all the familiarity of Facebook and MySpace, the world's largest Internet company hasn't found a way to insinuate profit into the picture.
In catching up to his lengthy CNBC interview of this week, it was apparent there are several products to come in the advertising realm but admit the commerce had not caught up to the creativity of YouTube.
The effort to contend with digital displacement of conventional markets is making for plenty of new bedfellows, like today's announcement that three major music labels (and likely a fourth to come) have formed a deal with MySpace Music, not long ago the object of their scorn for infringement.
The New York Times' report is sketchy on the financial details, but essentially there are advertising-supported streaming and sharing services and some limited downloading --- with a possible unlimited downloading service for a flat monthly fee coming.
What's interesting is the creative sprawl of the arrangement. Like the Jay-Z recording deal with concert promoter Live Nation, there are merchandising and other revenue streams in the package.
What's important about this deal, of course, is how its collaboration of once-warring conventional and new media can establish a model for other media forms to strike pacts.
News organizations have been struggling to sort through the challenges of social networking and their applications to conventional media. Newsrooms I know use Facebook and MySpace for gathering content, and I belong to Linkedin and other social and professional networks for their excellent connective purposes.
The allure is the interactivity and functionality of sharing content and using generated content. But the downside is, well, no one's really making money on the model.
This week's Economist has a compelling take on how social networks may be a big part of the Internet, but not really a business model.
We journalists often live in denial about advertising. In that denial, it is distressing to know upwards of 80 per cent of any organization's revenue (100 per cent if you're online, in many free-subscription instances) is derived from an advertiser's commitment to your story-telling's capacity to deliver a desired audience.
It stands to reason that if you're going to buy an ad, you want it seen. And while there is great enthusiasm now about the growth in ad revenue online --- a new form of fuel for journalism, presumably, to lead us to a new business model --- there is also alarming concern about ad-averse behaviour by the audience.
This is particularly true on the booming social networks, MySpace and Facebook. Where once about one in 100 ads were clicked through (an indication people are interested in the product or service), there are indications the rate now is about one in 1,000. The latest Business Week examines this disquieting phenomenon, which involves a desensitized audience that is a bit overwhelmed by targeted advertising.
The beauty of technology is its ability to drive messages to a clearly intended target. The trouble is that the target isn't clearly targeted --- there's self-defeating clutter and multi-messaging, and the audience balks at the overload.
But the new model for journalism depends heavily on finding the right balance to create a good digital environment for direct marketers and advertisers. At the moment, even Google acknowledges it hasn't found the ideal model for the social networks.