Some media stories of note for Monday, May 20, 2013:The New Yorker examines
the ethical challenge of what a media organization does with a sponsor who might be aggrieved. Jane Mayer looks at how PBS dealt with David Koch, the conservative billionaire/philanthropist who was featured in a critical documentary it was about to broadcast.
Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York TImes Company, spoke last week to Columbia Business School graduates and suggested the decision to institute an online paywall was among the shrewdest moves the organization has ever made. His commencement address did not note, as Jeff John Roberts did in paidContent,
that the Times' subscription base may have reached a plateau.
The BBC Trust has given a general seal of approval to the BBC websites, but found that its local news services aren't as strong as they ought to be. The Guardian reports
the Trust identified some weaknesses in quality and the ability of users to personalize content locally.
Some media stories of note for Wednesday, May 15, 2013:The Guardian is reporting
that China is attempting to curtail the blogging activities of writers and intellectuals by closing their social media accounts. In recent weeks notable social justice critics have been silenced in social media. There were other recent efforts to curtail mainstream media's use of western-based content.
The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has defended the seizure of telephone records of The Associated Press. The New York Times reports
he says the article that prompted the seizure arose from a serious leak of information with serious national security implications that put Americans at risk. The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan,
weighs in with a critique of the Obama Administration as one of the most secretive and threatening to the press, with implications for readers and democracy. The Times' media writer, David Carr,
looks at how it's not only government snooping on us, but all of us snooping on all of us. The New Yorker is releasing
the technical specs on Strongbox, software that permits reporters to cover their tracks as they reach out to the magazine. It uses a particular network and masks your IP address, information about your computer and browser, and won't plant cookies or third-party content. AllThingsDigital surmises
that the release of the program, created by the late Aaron Swartz, is aimed at letting other organizations create their own versions.
Media stories of note for Monday, May 13, 2013:
Bloomberg has found itself in the middle of a controversy in recent days. Its reporters are able to see some, but not vast, information about a client's use of its vaunted terminals. And a complaint was launched that suggested this access was inappropriate and infringed on privacy --- or worse, that reporters might have benefited from the access. The New York Times reported
that Bloomberg journalists were trained in how to use the login activity to advance news coverage. Bloomberg's editor-in-chief today responded.
Matthew Winkler indicated that, while the access was limited, it should not have happened. Policies have been changed so reporters have no more access to information than do clients.
Rick Edmonds, writing for Poynter
, notes new McKinsey and Company research
that indicates people spend 92 per cent of their news consumption time on legacy platforms. The research suggests 41 per cent of the time is spent with television, 35 per cent with newspapers and magazines, and 16 per cent with radio. Laptops and desktops account for four per cent, and tablets and smartphones amount to two per cent of time spent.
Frédéric Filloux, in his weekly Monday Note
, examines the different strategies of The New York Times and Washington Post. The former has created a paywall, the latter is moving toward one. But Filoux notes the Times is increasingly able to develop a digital subscription model and other media firms might be able to do so because the approach is common. "It is increasingly clear that readers are more willing than we once thought to pay for content they value and enjoy," he writes.
Media stories of note for Monday, May 6, 2013:
Charlie Warzel, writing for BuzzFeed,
notes the paradox of online comments. They're vilified in many quarters yet have never been more popular. He explores the constant dilemma for online sites in providing space for and moderating comments. No matter that some sites have minimized or even stricken them, they are here to stay, he concludes.
Jaron Lanier, in a commentary piece for the New York Post,
says people should be compensated by the likes of Twitter and Facebook for providing content. Lanier, a Microsoft employee and author of a new book, believes social media is killing the middle class because rewards of the technology are only deposited with a few. He says it's time to take the future back.
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, looks back on the
Jayson Blair fabrication episodes at the paper that came to light 10 years ago. She examines the effort to repair the shaken credibility and the steps taken to avoid a recurrence. She concludes the Times has put in place several measures to verify, and the Internet context provides ongoing scrutiny from the audience. But she and editors in the piece note that nothing can guarantee there won't be another event.
Some media stories of note for Tuesday, April 30, 2013:
Rick Edmonds, writing for Poynter,
examines new approaches to measuring circulation in the U.S. newspaper industry. The measurement has helped set advertising rates and determined revenue for the business, but several new rules have altered the results (mostly for the better, he says, in providing day-by-day data) and made it difficult to look at year-over-year patterns. The results today
indicate The New York Times has surpassed USA Today.
Taylor Miller Thomas, also writing for Poynter
, looks at 11 digital tools that can help journalists improve their reporting. She identifies crowdsourcing, freedom of information, census data and other sites that provide opportunities for journalists to develop evidence-based material and engage the audience.
Twitter is not interested
in an Initial Public Offering, says CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter is now valued at about $9 billion. One thing it is doing is creating a Canadian operation and it has dipped into Canadian broadcasting
for its first leader in the country. Kirstine Stewart, formerly the executive vice president of English Services at CBC, has joined them.
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 notes for Thursday, April 25, 2013:
Most national British newspapers have rejected a government royal charter plan to regulate the press and have proposed an alternative plan that avoids state-sponsored regulation they say would reduce press freedom. BBC reports
the move, supported so far by nine of 11 national titles, has thrown open the debate once more on how to regulate the press following the Leveson inquiry's efforts to identify a new process in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
The New York TImes, which Bloomberg notes
missed analysts' revenue expectations in its first-quarter results, has revealed a new digital strategy. Forbes.com reports
the plan includes tiered pricing that would permit access to "important and interesting" stories only at a lower rate (a plan now termed NYT Junior, aimed at younger readers), an expansion of its live events, and even an initiative to introduce games.
Not so long ago it was considered beneficial to be included on Twitter lists because it spread your content and associated you with particular expertise. But Nina Diamond, writing for Poynter,
suggests journalists reexamine which Twitter lists they are on and consider removing themselves from ones that do not help their brands, make you uncomfortable or are inappropriate.
Some media stories of note for Monday, April 22, 2013:
There is a thread of commentary in recent days about the intersection of social media with last week's events in Massachusetts.
Ali Velshi, the recently departed CNN anchor for Al Jazeera, writes about the pain
that comes with making a mistake in this environment of merciless social media criticism. His former employer was often criticized last week for its hasty coverage, and as David Carr notes in his latest Media Equation column,
the impact left some nasty marks. Velshi notes the pressure to be first, or at least not to be last, but also that reporters understand the importance of being correct. CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge notes the same in his recent column,
but stresses the need for accuracy over speed.
Andy Carvin, the National Public Radio journalist who has been at the forefront of using social media, reflects on the value of the new platforms in a speech to the International Symposium for Online Journalism
. He calls on journalists to use social media in a different way, in particular to slow down in their breathlessness about reporting and to be transparent with the audience about what is known and not.
Felix Salmon's latest blog for Reuters
examines the phenomenon last week of how mainstream media integrated social media's coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the manhunt. Salmon notes the indiscretion of many mainstream outlets in reporting whatever information appeared to surface without verification. He worries the social media tail is wagging the mainstream dog. Media transparency is good, he notes, but: "Just because your readers can peer behind the curtain, doesn't mean you have any responsibility to yank it open yourself."
Media stories of note for Monday, April 15, 2013:
Ross Douthat, in his blog on culture for The New York Times,
challenges the notion of "bipartisanthink" in news media. He notes the collision of the traditional premise of an impartial media and the newer practice of ideological media, but he sees parochialism as a major problem for mainstream outlets in condescending on which issues to cover and to underplay stories it does not find valid. He sees an opportunity for mainstream media to lean in to Internet traits and offer greater diversity and a wider range of journalistic ideals.
David Carr's latest Media Equation column
for The New York Times deals with the emerging consumer options that threaten the profitability and structure of the television business. He identifies organizations like Netflix, Dish and others that are breaking the traditional relationship between programming and advertising, and thus the traditional business model. Carr notes that even the programmers themselves are moving in that direction. Witness, he said, the CBS Masters app.
Tom Rosenstiel's latest column for Poynter
identifies some of the challenges today for journalism education. More than anything, he says, a better conversation is needed on how to groom students for the craft. But he lists four principal ingredients for stronger schools: technical skills, journalistic responsibility, business awareness, and the intellectual discipline of verification.
Media stories of note for Monday, April 8, 2013:
The good news for U.S. newspapers is that their revenue declines slowed in 2012, in part because some digital revenue stepped in somewhat to ease the slide, particularly revenue from digital subscriptions. The bad news is that the decline continued, the Associated Press reports
, to the extent of about two per cent. Revenues for the industry were $38.6 billion, down from $39.5 billion.
Sources of strong revenue for smaller community newspapers are legal notices on bankruptcies, name changes, estate wills and the like. But a proposed California law would permit such notices to only be posted online,
a move that would seriously undercut the business models of the papers. Other states have started to implement such laws, in part because they are more affordable ways to publish such notices.
The New York Times examines the growing presence of sponsored content
online, noting that other forms of advertising have not been effective and that the association of a brand with editorial material has started to demonstrate greater appeal. Of course, the approach has its critics.