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.
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.
Media stories Monday:
Google has agreed to help finance a media fund to help develop a wider presence for French media on the Internet. Reuters reports
the agreement will see Google contribute 60 million euros (more than $80 million) over three years into the fund. Google was being pressed by French publishers to pay fees to list headlines and snippets in search engine results. While this deal is novel, it avoids what would have been a game-changing arrangement if the search engine were paying link-related fees. The Monday Note reports
that the deal will also establish a wider relationship between Google and French publishers, parties that have mutually distrusted one another.
News organizations, ever watchful of ways to monetize online traffic, are bound to be watching Ars Technica as it brings forward
a predictive platform Adweek touts can capitalize on stories about to trend aggressively. Many media have found it difficult to monetize a suddenly successful story with distinct related advertising.
The public editor of The New York Times laments the loss
of talent at the news organization through its voluntary buyout program. Margaret Sullivan says it's easy to assert that employees can be replaced, harder to argue against the institutional memory and unique contributions people make.
Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, takes the latest stab
at addressing the concept of journalistic objectivity in the context of the newsroom she scrutinizes.
She notes that journalism can be personal and effective and she accepts there need to be some boundaries to ensure opinions don't prevail in news reporting. She pits the views of a Times editor on standards, Philip Corbett, and New York University professor Jay Rosen; the former holds to the view there can be impartiality and objectivity, the latter believes it is a myth not worth pursuing.
She concludes there is some merit in the notion of transparency for reporters to disclose their conflicts and associations, that there is a need for news reporters to avoid partisanship, and that journalism should toss out the notion of impartiality through some sort of mathematical equivalency of presented views.
"Get at the truth, above all. But getting at the truth can require setting aside personal views to evaluate evidence fairly. If that’s impartiality, it remains not only worthwhile but crucially necessary," she writes.
In her latest column,
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reflects on the challenges the Times and others faced in the first minutes and hours after the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
She notes a letter from a subscriber of a half-century, wondering why so much information was inaccurate: the identity of the shooter, the way he entered the school, the suggestion his mother worked there, and so on. Much of it was unattributed and much was reported in the context of other similar reports elsewhere.
Sullivan thinks this iterative approach, in which online journalism corrects as it goes, is not acceptable if it isn't on a safer foundation of attribution and transparency. She likens the journalism of the shooting to that of the presidential election and the distinct caution the Times exercised in the latter.
"The Times can’t get pulled into the maelstrom of Twitter-era news," she wrote. "It has to stand apart from those news sources that are getting information out in a fast, piecemeal and frequently inaccurate way. That process has its own appeal and its own valuable purpose. But The Times should be its authoritative and accurate counterbalance."
Arthur S. Brisbane, the public editor of The New York Times, writes this week
about the value of using the news organization's website to reinforce its value with readers.
Brisbane notes how the web has deconstructed the traditional way in which content was organized, and in that new dynamic is a relationship that needs a new arrangement. He sees the website's organization as an important ingredient in that redefinition.
Among other things Brisbane says the site should have a clear place for an exchange with readers. He believes the Times newsroom and readers need this portal.
He also says the site needs an updated list of Times journalists and their areas of coverage. He notes the existing listings are not current.
The site also needs a searchable archive of ethics policies, a form to launch complaints and seek corrections, and (without a great deal of selfishness in the way he puts it) a clearer path to read the public editor's columns.
He adds: "Would a reader portal on NYTimes.com
offset the centrifugal effects of the digital revolution? Certainly not. But as the model for publishing news changes rapidly, it is important to find ways to ensure that the center holds—and to fortify the core values that ultimately define how readers view The Times. The reader portal would be a concrete step in that direction."
Arthur S. Brisbane, the public editor of The New York Times, posted a blog entry early today
asking for input on a dilemma: Should the Times rebut assertions that aren't obviously wrong but deserve fact-checking?
The immediate response was a little wide of the mark. Many inferred he was asking if the Times should report or check facts. He had to post a second entry
to clear it up.
Along the way a raft of critics used the opportunity to be a bit snippy, to say the least.
But Brisbane's point is that many assertions are made and not rebutted; they're left alone and are questionable. He wondered if it was necessary to have a "truth vigilante" around. He hopes there is enough clarity now to proceed with a discussion.
The first public editor of the New York Times was appointed by Bill Keller, until recently the executive editor, and in his new role as columnist Keller is getting a little expansive about the role and impact of the newsroom watchdog.Keller says he hasn't always agreed with the newspaper's public editor but has come to accept that person's role as important in the operation. He likens it to proctology and notes even that can be beneficial.
That being said, his enthusiasm for the role has diminished over the years, even though he recognizes the "good faith" intentions of that person.Keller was interviewed at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the standards of journalism.
He said the newsroom has its liberal bias on several social issues but maintains the equivalent of a legal discipline in its work.
Arthur Brisbane, in his first non-introductory column
as The New York Times' public editor, tackles a central issue in today's journalism: the shifting, blurring line between fact and opinion and the tension between objectivity and subjectivity.
He notes that, until a few decades ago, there was no real effort to park perspectives before embarking on journalism. But in today's environment, with such abundance of competition, it is clear that the practice of managing subjectivity is less in vogue than ever.
Brisbane notes the struggle to take on more perspective while remaining impartial, but he takes on the Times for its menu of titles on content that takes on point-of-view. As he sees it, the label ought to be clear --- either that, or don't bother.
He also criticizes the Times for working with a San Francisco-based outlet, The Bay Citizen, in delivering local content for that market in its pages. As he also sees it, the challenge in working through the transition to more perspectives may be better dealt with internally before outsourcing the delicate issue.
Arthur Brisbane, in his first column
as public editor of The New York Times, lays out his principles nicely and raises one interesting issue for news organizations in the digital age:
"If The Times is going to publish more and faster, it will have to react faster to rectify more mistakes. The speed and volume of correction or response has to try to equal the speed and volume of error."
That's a thought we haven't heard before. Newspapers tend to correct in their next edition, and unless there are legal reasons to strip online content or correct it, usually make the correction in a convenient way online without any proscribed standard of service.
Brisbane promises to see if this idea of a speedy fix is practical in the Times, but he's introduced an intriguing notion.