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.
Here are some media stories of note for Thursday, February 21, 2013:
Felix Salmon of Reuters started a two-part series today
on content economics. He examines why advertising dollars are not necessarily reaching people online, how network television is sustained by its different, intermediated model that cannot convert into an online model, and how online publishers are finding it difficult to create business models in a climate of direct content from brands.
Christopher Mims, writing for Quartz
, assesses the new Yahoo home page and concludes that it's irrelevant. For that matter, he notes, no one is talking about anyone's home page any longer because that isn't how content is being consumed. Content is shared and a home page may never be seen.
TV viewing has been measured traditionally over the years by Nielsen, but The Hollywood Reporter indicates changes
to Nielsen's approach means it will soon count online streaming, the Xbox and PlayStation and, eventually, iPad and other tablet viewing to create program ratings measurements.
Media stories of note Wednesday:
Twitter has broadened the Tweet.
Its embedded Tweets can feature such things as videos, article summaries and photos, among others. That ought to have implications for news organizations making extensive use of the platform.
John Batelle, in his latest SearchBlog post
, identifies the challenges for Twitter to be a relevant media organization. He argues that Twitter will have to help create and curate content.
Meanwhile, Yahoo is in the formative stages of its next approach as a content company. AllThingsDigital examines
its Google-of-content strategy and notes its acquisition of Snip.it.
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.
Today Yahoo unveiled its latest approach to journalism, a blog featuring writers who are partly directed by the most popular search queries.The Upshot
was released from beta today
(it had been called The Newsroom for some months) and its team of eight (six reporters, two editors) appear, for the time being (in their photos, anyway), like they aren't being run off their feet. Chronicling all they seemingly intend to should be a draining process, though. It's early days but you can already see the demands are enormous.
They'll break news, blog, add analysis, dig through documents, keep on top of stories and presumably cover enough of the landscape to make readers feel that the right notes have been struck. Eight people always on.
Apart from the metaphysical challenge, the interesting part of the operation is how they'll be directed. As the blog says today, "our responsiblity is to you." But it's also a matter of its direction coming from you, in how you determine what you want to read through search. That'll help them gauge what to pursue.
Although The New York Times yesterday
suggested it's a pure play of algorithm-leading-the-journalist, the blog for The Upshot today doesn't convey that. There appears to be much more human initiative in the mix.
"Our goal is to be blunt narrators of the day's news, to cut through the noise and misinformation and get to the heart of what's important and why. We'll be fast, getting information to you as a story breaks and then sticking with it until the end," it says.
In his latest post
on Reflections of a Newsosaur, Alan Mutter explores a recent theme of Yahoo's ambition in the news space.
As he sees it, the $100-million-plus purchase last month of Associated Content and its 380,000 creators is another step toward the development of local news operations that --- coupled with Yahoo's sophisticated ad network and rich user database --- pose a real challenge to the newspaper."Assuming the fare produced by Associated Content is sufficiently respectable to attract and retain substantial audiences, then Yahoo’s ability to deliver targeted ads – combined with its overwhelming market presence on the web – will give it significant advantages against the incumbent newspapers operating in most markets," Mutter writes.
It will be important, then, for newspapers to be part of Yahoo's advertising network, Mutter surmises.
The intriguing $100-million-plus purchase today of Associated Content by Yahoo has raised several questions about the direction and function of the company. There are significant implications for the news business.
In Yahoo's case, some questions: Is it now a full-fledged publisher? Is it mounting a new offensive against Google? Is it going to lead to the purchase and IPOs of other content machines?
In the wider case of the industry, is the deal the portend of others that will shift the balance between producers and advertisers? Are we deepening the era of directed content?Ken Doctor weighs in
and argues we are into an era of advertising driving content in ways it hasn't. The purchase of a content machine like Associated Content suggests the principle is in greater play than ever, with Yahoo able to offer advertisers content they want.
"News sites, in this scenario, are increasingly distributors, exercising some choice of what appears on their sites, under their own brands," he writes.
Media companies had better get used to the new landscape of targeted good-enough pro-am content based on user behaviour, Doctor suggests.
An Outsell research firm report
from Ken Doctor indicates aggregators could be hurting newspapers and their Web sites by satisfying users with headlines.
The report examined patterns of consumption and concludes that people are increasingly using aggregators like Google, Yahoo, AOL and others to scout news. But once there, they tend to simply skim the headlines and move on.
The report indicates local newspapers and their sites continue to have strong consumer support as the prime source of local news content.
But it also suggests that so-called power users of the Internet are the likeliest to be dropping their newspaper subscriptions in recent times.
Nathan Richardson, the CEO of ContentNext Media (the parent firm of paidContent), has an essay on how Silicon Valley and the broader tech sector can help the challenged newspaper industry.
Richardson identifies several options, but rules out all but three fairly straightforward ones in the near term. He thinks such entities as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others can spearhead fairly significant but achievable approaches online to help newspaper Web sites:
1. Host an upfront, akin to what happens for TV, in developing a stable and predictable advertising base.
2. Agree on a per-click standard rate across publishing.
3. Show search results only for originating sources, not repurposing ones.
Google today pulled the plug on its proposed advertising deal with Yahoo, citing lingering concerns on anti-trust.