Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nonprofit News Organizations in Ascendancy

May 21, 2010

We’ve been talking a lot over the past year about nonprofit centers for news.  Columbia Journalism Review posits that these nonprofits are moving into a core role in investigative journalism.  ProPublica’s winning of a Pulitzer last month may have been the first indication that the tide is shifting. As newspapers cut back staff, and continue to watch their spending, conducting a six-month long project is not always feasible.  Nick Penniman, executive director and co-founder of The Huffington Post Investigative Fund thinks that while the public acknowledge that primacy of the newspaper as a “watchdog”, “it’s very difficult from a profit perspective to see the value of sinking millions into investigative reporting.” And the deputy managing editor for projects at the LA Times, Marc Duvoisin thinks that up to 40% of investigative reporting will be done by donor-sustained organizations. Still, it’s a pretty new phenomenon on a widespread level, and the news business continues to be in business model upheaval, so it’s pretty hard to envision how it will all shake out. It’s a pretty good bet that at least some of this work will be taken over by nonprofits, but the main question is, how will they manage to sustain themselves? And another question is, of course, how beholden will these nonprofits be to their donors – and can that influence the objective stance of their journalism?  Different nonprofits have different operating models, distribution platforms, and plans for revenue, and if nothing else, this deserves to be watched pretty closely as time goes on.


Teens, Their Phones and 100% Penetration

April 30, 2010

Wireless Carriers are in for a rough ride, as cell phone penetration gets closer to 100% in the US.  It may never be actually 100%, although in some countries it’s more than that. Both AT&T and Verizon had a big loss of customers year over year from 2009’s first quarter.  Hmm.  Maybe growth will come from people’s attachment to specific products, not to specific carriers.  I predict that Verizon’s sales will jump exponentially if they ever get around to getting the iPhone.  In any case, the CTIA has a list of all sorts of wireless facts, and one of them is that while in 2005 the number of wireless only households was 8%, it is now 23% – and that’s a number that’s likely to continue to grow. In 2005, 81 billion text messages were sent per year – now there are 2 trillion. That’s a lot of thumb action.

And that number is really high for teens — Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Older teen girls, which will come as no surprise to anyone who lives with one, top the charts at an average of 100 texts a day. This from Pew’s Internet and American Life Report on Teens and Mobile Phones.  Here are some more fun facts about teens and their phones:

Meanwhile, Black teens are more than twice as likely to use their cell phones for getting online than their Caucasian brethren are (44% vs 21%). Hispanic teens weighed in at 35%.  Most notable about this study is that teens who come from low income households where there is less likely to be computer do the most connecting to the internet with their phones.  They are more than twice as likely to get online this way than more affluent groups.

There is an impact here about largely urban teens that marketers should heed.  Says eMarketer:

Brand marketers trying to tap this market must change their thinking about this largely urban audience… Urban millennials in particular are well-connected socially and open to people from all backgrounds. They have moved beyond brands that still rely on athletes and entertainers and now expect authenticity from marketers and advertisers.

Twitter Promotes Its Tweets – AKA Advertising

April 26, 2010

Remember Twitter? And how we were wondering, once upon a time, how it was going to make money?  Now that we’ve forgotten about that, Twitter came up with its long-anticipated plan to introduce advertising.  Although it isn’t calling it advertising, it’s calling it “promoted tweets”.  These tweets will show up when users search for key words that advertisers (or maybe they should be called “promoters”) buy to link to their ads.  But, as Peter Kafka suggests in MediaMemo :

“If Twitter only showed ads to searchers, it may have a very difficult time reaching most of its users.

That’s in part because Twitter’s search results are pretty lousy — if you don’t believe me, go ahead and try it yourself.  And it’s in part because Twitter isn’t a search engine — it’s a media company that will make money by rounding up eyeballs and showing them marketing messages.

That’s an important distinction, and one that Twitter itself has been loathe to acknowledge. But you can see it grudgingly accepting that reality now, as it moves to control more of its platform.”

Eventually, The New York Times says, these promoted posts will show up in the course of a stream of tweets, based on relevancy.

Meanwhile, Twitter has a new blog, which is a best-practices thing for media companies, so that journalists and other media types will know how to use it to its greatest advantage.

Have a Comment? Identify Yourself First

April 26, 2010

For years, news sites have allowed the public to weigh in on just about anything that strikes their fancy, and still remain anonymous.  But journalists are rethinking this option, and the New York Times says, more and more news outlets are requiring responders to register before posting comments. William Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia’s journalism school, says that

… a lot of comment boards turn into the equivalent of a barroom brawl, with most of the participants having blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 or higher. People who might have something useful to say are less willing to participate in boards where the tomatoes are being thrown.

He said news organizations were willing to reconsider anonymity in part because comment pages brought in little revenue; advertisers generally do not like to buy space next to opinions, especially incendiary ones.

Some publications solve this problem by policing comments before they get online, although most do not have the resources to do so.  Some think that the mere fact of requiring registration will weed out the most egregious ranters. But requiring an identity before you comment may be an easy transition for people  who are used to being personally connected to their comments and outbursts on Facebook and Twitter.

ABC’s Free iPad App

April 26, 2010

We’ve been talking about the iPad primarily s an e-reader, but the advantage that it has over other e-readers is that it’s a full media consumption device.  So far, ABC is the only network to create a free app for watching its shows (with advertising).  And it has been, says the Wall Street Journal, a success.  In the first 10 days of the iPad’s existence, ABC’s app has been downloaded 205,000 times, which means that it was being used on about half of the iPads sold at that time. 650,000 episodes had been watched, and “several million” ad impressions were seen. Says the Journal, “the iPad app also includes links that let viewers buy episodes through Apple’s iTunes Store. The iPad app is part of Disney’s broader strategy of creating numerous legitimate — and revenue-generating — ways for consumers to access its content.”

Commerce Dept Gets Into the Internet Privacy Act

April 26, 2010

In the wake of Google’s Eric Schmidt being chided by the government officials of 10 countries for failing to adequately protect the personal privacy of Internet users, this week the US Commerce Department started an initiative to look at how the privacy of individuals is being impacted by the Internet economy. The Commerce Dept. has formed what it calls the Internet Policy Task Force to explore “current policy frameworks, and ways to address the challenges of the new internet economy and society in a manner that preserves and enhances personal privacy protection.”   There will be a public meeting next Friday, during which The Commerce Dept hopes to hear from the public, academics, commercial interests, and organizations with opinions on the issue. The aim of this endeavor is to see whether current privacy laws “serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values.” Policymakers and the president as well consider this an important topic and the goal is to provide the White House with advice, including possibly policy direction for the future, and the hope is that a report will be issued by early fall.

Chrisitan Science Monitor Doing Well Without a Daily Edition But With Some Help

April 9, 2010

About a year ago, the Christian Science Monitor ceased to print a daily edition.  Since then, online traffic is up more than 60%, and they are on budget.  But, online ad revenues are about half of what they were projected to be , says MediaMatters. CSM also has a weekly print edition that has grown 79% in circulation (from 43,000 to 77,000).  Here’s the hitch, though.  CSM is subsidized by the first Church of Christ which hands the paper $20 million a year into the paper (5 times what it could generate on its own, given the $490K ad revenue that it actually got). There are currently, after a recent buyout offer, 81 editorial employees, better than most web journalism efforts, and certainly more than could be paid by revenue alone. Still, CSM is hoping to extricate itself from its paying parent within the next 5 years. Hmm.

Bye Bye Oprah

November 20, 2009

We mentioned last week that Oprah Winfrey might be leaving daytime TV, and now we know that the ugly rumor is true. Don’t expect this departure to happen any minute – her last day will be September 9, 2011.  And why should you care?  Most likely you don’t – in line with daytime TV in general, Oprah’s ratings have fallen 45% in adults 18 – 49. The issue is not about her, or her show, per se (OK, well, I guess it is if you’re a die-hard fan), but what will replace it. As Broadcasting & Cable says, “Not all stations have the strong news position of the ABC stations, and offering more local news won’t make sense for them. Moreover, too much news in a market can mean too much advertising inventory in news, reducing the value of that news inventory for all players.

Stations also are much weaker financially than they were in Oprah‘s heyday, so whatever syndicated show gets the slots shouldn’t expect to earn Oprah money.”

Google Books Again. It Ain’t Over Till … Who Knows When?

November 20, 2009

Last Friday, after the week’s Media Mash-Up went online, Google and the Author’s Guild finally got preliminary approval for a revision to the Google Books Settlement in October that caused such worldwide controversy.  Some of the issues in question were addressed, and some were simply glossed over. And the date for a new agreement has been put off till February 18.  This agreement will, of course, give people who wouldn’t ordinarily have it, access to millions of out-of-print books.  But it might also grant Google a near-monopoly on what are called “orphan works”, those where the copyright holder cannot be found.  (more…)

Google Hopes to Make You Feel Your Privacy is Safe With Them

November 6, 2009

This week, Google announced a new feature, the Dashboard, which it purports will help you feel more secure.  The Dashboard is simply a visual overlay that lets you see information about how much you use things like Gmail, YouTube, Picasa, and any other Google tools that are in your particular arsenal. “Transparency, choice and control have become a key part of Google’s philosophy, and today, we’re happy to announce that we’re doing even more,” says the company.   In other words, it is telling you what you already know, in hopes that this will blind you to everything they’re not telling you – like what data they’re picking up that is not tied to a Google account. For instance, Google retains every search you’ve ever done, with the IP address from which the search came; in addition, Google also collects data used for behavioral advertising. While you can see and control the categories of ads you receive, it doesn’t show the raw data that’s used to compile the categories. So all in all, this is a really a step in the right direction in terms of removing a layer of opacity, but I’m not sure that transparent is quite the right word yet. SearchEngineLand has the story.