Media stories of note for Tuesday, May 14, 2013:
The Associated Press revealed Monday
that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly obtained two months of telephone records for its journalists at several of its operations. AP decried the move
as an unprecedented intrusion into the rights of a free press. Details of the probe are not known, but it was believed to be in connection with AP's reporting on a foiled terrorist plot. The New Yorker's John Cassidy looks
at the wider political implications of the issue for the Obama Administration.
The Bloomberg terminal controversy continues to draw commentary. It was revealed that reporters were able to advance stories on the basis of their monitoring of login activity of clients on the Bloomberg data terminals. Gawker notes that
the monitoring was supposed to stop, but didn't. And the Guardian suggests
the matter is not a big deal. That said, the Wall Street Journal reports
Bloomberg and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are cooperating on examining the issue.
Joel Smith, writing for the Pacific Standard,
explores an innovative effort in sociology and journalism in Alhambra, California, to study the news consumption of residents and marry them to a grassroots organization that would use a range of contributors to produce community journalism. He writes that the effort has promise in linking expertise in consumerism to a market's need for content.
Media stories of note for Friday, March 15, 2013:
The British government has shut down talks
among political parties and determined it wants a vote Monday on its measures to regulate the press. Prime MInister David Cameron called off all-party talks Thursday and today his party's culture secretary urged support for Cameron's press charter. Among other things it would levy up to million-pound fines and publish up-front apologies in cases of intrusion or misreporting. Opposition parties had been calling for stronger moves, including laws, but Cameron has ruled out legislation as excessive and unenforceable. The measures follow the Leveson inquiry into press conduct in response to the phone-hacking scandal.
Alan Mutter, in his latest post for Reflections of a Newsosaur
, has a prescription for newspapers that includes specifics on what they should and should not cover. Stop rehashing stories already widely known, use graphics instead of words, and quit writing background-padded articles in long-running stories, the veteran newsand tech executive says. Also: focus on people, not process; be local, not global; look forward, not back; show transparency; discuss, don't dominate; and be diverse.
A Reuters social media manager has been indicted
in the United States for alleging assisting the Anonymous hacking group with entering the Tribune Co. computer system and defacing its websites. Matthew Keys, a former Tribune television employee at the time of the episode, has been suspended by Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal examines
the emergence of online video advertising as a force in media growth and change. While ad rates are declining due to increased inventory, several major players are entering the space. The result will be a bigger, if less profitable, sector.
Three media stories of note for Tuesday, March 12, 2013:
A proposed Texas law rearranges the obligations of media and the opportunities for litigants in defamation cases. Nieman Journalism Lab reports
on the proposed "retraction statute" that would oblige those who believe they have been defamed to contact publishers to give them an opportunity to retract, correct or clarify with the same prominence as the original publication. If they do so, a plaintiff can't be awarded punitive damages. If they do, they are entitled to a reasonable amount of information that can confirm the error. Out-of-court efforts would be made, too, to avoid expensive and protracted legislation. The bill would promote "truth in publication."
Gawker's Deadspin blog, known for its verve, has taken a detour in its approach and suddenly opened itself to a public "contributor network" with the same creative tools as its writing staff. It has PandoDaily pronouncing it
as throwing in the towel and taking the route toward Huffington Post and Bleacher Report and away from its original path. PandoDaily's Bryan Goldberg says all media properties need to embrace the fact that more traffic is better than less, professional writers are not the only valid voices, and innovation is the only route out of the challenging economics.
Veteran news executive and advisor Gordon Crovitz weighs in on last week's spat
between freelance journalist Nate Thayer, who worked for him in Cambodia, and The Atlantic Online. It will be recalled that The Atlantic wanted Thayer to rewrite his reporting fot them free. Crovitz, writing for the Wall Street Journal, laments this and notes that the tumult in journalism is driven by declines in advertising. Some journalism will be free, but the important journalism will require underwriting. "We need to find ways of paying for it," he concludes.
Some media stories of note for Thursday, February 28, 2013:
The discipline of verification isn't always disciplined. Craig Silverman, writing for Poynter,
examines a Canadian study on media practices to confirm information and finds them inconsistent and a little improvised. The study
(full disclosure: some authors are or have been colleagues) found that verification can't always be verified.
Last month The Atlantic ran into criticism for carrying sponsored content featuring information on the Church of Scientology. The episode prompted The Atlantic to take down the content, apologize, and create new standards to reflect those of the editorial work of the organization. Jeff John Roberts, writing for paidContent,
discusses the lessons learned --- mainly that this sort of content is difficult to carry off with a news brand.
Lately there have been several pieces touting the value of LinkedIn as an emerging, even established player in the publishing space among social media. Evelyn Rusi of The Wall Street Journal takes a larger look
at the impact of the professional network --- what it terms the ugly duckling of social media --- in specializing and commanding a high-end market.
Media files of note for Wednesday, February 27, 2013:
For a clear take on what a reporter does,
we can now turn to the entity that taught us all much over the years: Sesame Street, whose Word on the Street is "reporter." This clip compiles some historical references to reporting and puts it into the most basic language even a child could understand.
Peter Osnos, writing for The Atlantic Online,
takes on the myth of the Internet as the purveyor of free information. He notes the expense of connectivity isn't accessible to all, by any means, and argues there is an important public policy challenge in narrowing the gap between those who can and cannot pay. He also notes that very little of the revenue attached to the Internet finds its way to creators of the content.
When Sir Martin Sorrell speaks, the advertising community listens. The head of the giant WPP agency has misgivings about Twitter as an effective advertising platform. He tells the Harvard Business Review
that Twitter is a public relations medium and a good way to spread the word, but that it "reduces communication to superficialities and lacks depth." Sorrell also repeats his view that Facebook is a much better branding medium than an advertising medium. Twitter, meanwhile, is expected to unfurl its initial public offering soon, and today the Wall Street Journal corporate news director suggests it is hard to deny the platform is worth $10 billion. For a clear take on what a reporter does, we can now turn to the entity that taught us all much over the years: Sesame Street. This clip compiles some historical references to reporting and puts it into the most basic language even a child could understand.
Some media stories of note for Friday, Feb. 15:
While the Knight Foundation gathering this week was notable for its $20,000 honorarium for speaker and plagiarist Jonah Lehrer, it did discuss more substantive issues
dealing with the future business models for journalism and information. In particular, it examined the role of foundations in assisting the information needs of communities. The Nieman Lab reports this "blended future" might be important as traditional journalism finds itself less able to meet those needs.
Odd-seeming issues often have profound consequences. So it appears with a request this week by Teri Buhl that news organizations take down her Twitter photo. This had followed her request that others not republish her Tweets. Poynter discusses the situation
and indicates this has implications for news organizations.Reuters reports
on concerns by the Committee to Protect Journalists' assertion that cyberattacks on media organizations are more common and complicated than ever as a form of censorship and invasion of personal material. In recent weeks The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have been among the most notable targets.
Social media are not merely static attachments to today's news organizations --- not merely a nice box to tick and note you've entered that field. The Wall Street Journal observes
that newsrooms are studying social media's traits to understand, for example, when best to Tweet and how best to share content on Facebook.
Impact is being tracked, referrals watched --- all in the hope that there is learning inside the patterns that will generate business ideas.
In the same way readership metrics affected news strategy, so now are social media trends prompting differences in approaches to content generation and sharing. The analysis of demographic trends ought to build a more empirical approach.
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.
The testy relationship between the newspaper industry and the world's largest search engine has been ratcheted another notch. The publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton, says Google is "sucking the blood" out of the newspaper business and promises technology to address it.
Hinton, chief executive at Dow Jones, says making content free "gave Google's fangs a great place to bite." He told a conference we'll never know what might have happened if newspaper publishers hadn't gone that route.
But he says Dow Jones is in the final stage of technical development of a platform that will earn permit newspapers to earn revenue from online users.
One of the world's top financial media says another one of the world's financial media has plans this fall to charge for individual articles online.
Financial Times says the Wall Street Journal's existing premium-payment model will be broadened to serve niche-oriented fields like energy, commodities and wealth management. It would expand its premium offering to permit users access to the Dow Jones newswire, essentially taking a professionally targeted product and opening it to the consumer field directly.
It has not yet decided how much individual articles will cost.
The industry has been rife with renewed debate in recent months about the necessity to charge for content currently freely available. The Wall Street Journal's model has been successful for years, but is one of the few such models to have survived.