Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell to the Godfather of Soul

I saw James Brown at the Metro in Melbourne in the late 80's. I bought tickets to both shows - which as a student cleaned me out for a month - and saw the gig two nights running. Even in his late 50s, wearing a tight brown three-piece suit, his moves were smooth. He did the splits in the middle of the first show on the first night and came straight back up with the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. The only blemish was that he popped his fly. But quick as you like he did a spin and zipped it straight back up again without missing a beat.

What a show! What a band! What a legend.

Here's a sample from the 70s

Friday, December 15, 2006

Glamming it up to the tune of $18.5 million

I've got a particular interest in this story because of a project I'm working on at the moment - of which more later.

Glam Media have raised a lot of capital and secured a partnership with Hearst magazines, which is going to do a lot of business for Hearst. Glam claims 8 million visitors a month.

The key is in this quote from Glam's founder, Samir Arora: “In 2004, under 50 percent of ecommerce was targeted towards women and in real life, that’s not the case, it’s more like 80 percent. But when you go online, these magazines’ Web sites have largely been places to drive subscription to the print magazine. So whenever there is a medium change, it’s rare that someone that is dominating one medium also dominates the new medium.”

True. And publishing models like Glam's are presenting real challenges to the old media giants.

edgio has a few interesting things to say about the trend towards new style publishing. The rising foothills analogy is a good one:

"Publisher driven revenue models will increasingly replace middlemen. There will be no successful advertiser driven models in the foothills, only publisher centric models. Successful platform vendors will put the publisher at the center of the world in a sellers market for eyeballs."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Brisbane Morning Herald?

... Or the Brisbane Times?

The Oz is reporting Fairfax will launch an online product in Queensland early next year.

Apparently it's a done deal. The Brisbane unit will act as a bureau for Fairfax as well as running a news web site against News Ltd's Courier Mail.

South east Queensland is a dynamic growth region and one Fairfax has been eyeing for a while, so it's no great surprise.

The Oz piece speculates that Adelaide and Perth are also on the cards, and maybe they are. But it's a fact that the Brisbane operation is closest to launch.

Fairfax has wanted to cover the west for a long time, but you'd have to question the value of chasing a market the size of Adelaide.

Perth is an interesting case, particularly given News' efforts there this year. One of the overlooked media stories of 2006 has been Brett McCarthy's initiative in turning the Sunday Times print operation into a daily news site via Perthnow. It's a unique achievement and makes any brand new Fairfax effort there that much more difficult.

Crikey had a few words to say on the subject today: "Will the sites be subscription-based, will they rely solely on online advertising or will there be a combination of both? Where do they see the ads coming from?"

Subscription based sites would be the height of stupidity, and Fairfax isn't stupid. As to where the ads are coming from - well, that's not particularly mysterious. But how a sales team that's already stretched is going to service clients in these new markets - now, that's a question worth asking.

Crikey contacted Mike van Niekerk, Editor in Chief of Online at The SMH and The Age but he offered no comment. "All I can can say at this stage is that there are communities in this country who are desperate for alternative local news and information," said Niekerk. "If and when Fairfax Media has an announcement to make about serving those communities we will let them know."

Despite his coy statements Mike's little empire is about to expand, sort of. If only he could get access to the product development budgets then he'd really have something to talk about. Of course, Fairfax Digital isn't silly enough to let that happen. Instead the commercial dynamo Pippa Leary maintains the real power over Fairfax Digital products whilst Mike is merely allowed to project the illusion of glory.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Telecom NZ's ISP joins with Yahoo!7

Telecom New Zealand has formed a joint venture with Yahoo!7 to be called Yahoo!Xtra. It will deliver a range of online content and application services for New Zealanders and will replace the existing XtraMSN site with the initial Yahoo!Xtra services that are due to go live around March 1, 2007.

This takes the Yahoo!7 v ninemsn stoush into a small, but intense arena where until recently ninemsn have had the upper hand. The ones to watch now are APN.

2006, What a year!

... It was Nuckin' Futs, according to JibJab.

What price Facebook?

Techcrunch have published these internal Yahoo! documents that show management's assessment of the value of Facebook - albeit from a couple of months ago. The social networking site has been an acquisition target for most of its existence, but the interesting thing is the range of prices that get quoted: US$10 million back in 2004 through to $37.5 million for 5% in the first quarter of this year, with Yahoo! prepared to pay up to $1.62 billion for the full business by the middle of 2006.

According to Techcrunch "Facebook flatly rejected the $1 billion offer, looking for far more. Yahoo was prepared to pay up to $1.62 billion, but negotiations broke off before the offer could be made."

The growth projections are huge and you have to wonder how sustainable it really is, let alone the global potential a buyer would need to squeeze out of it for this price.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Social networking awards

I suppose this is a good idea, it just feels premature. I'm not sure the criteria on which to base an awards are properly established yet. OK, Myspace, Youtube, and Facebook are popular but what does that actually mean?

Mashable! promises to "provide more details once nominations begin next week".

Start your engines!

From the Department of Wishful Thinking ...

... Comes this bit of silliness (with a serious subtext).

News Ltd's veteran South Asian correspondent, Bruce Loudon, reports that Indian men are using condoms at least 5cm too large for them. The resulting failure rate is causing chaos with HIV/Aids prevention programs as well as birth control efforts.

Apparently a two year study by the Indian Council of Medical Research "showed 60 percent of men in the financial capital Mumbai had penises about 2.4 cm (one inch) shorter than those condoms catered for. For a further 30 percent, the difference was at least 5 cm (two inches)."

5cm! What's going on there? Who was kidding who when they agreed to adopt the "international standard" for condom sizes? I mean, 90% of the male Indian population is out of range - so to speak.

Maybe the condom importer got a cheap deal from Jamaica?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Got a media business to sell?

Well, Fairfax is buying.

The latest in the end of year media buying binges has been all over the papers yesterday and today.

But one small, yet to be publicised, web purchase by Fairfax adds an interesting twist to the current slate of big deals. It's an independent online operation that has been running for six years, quietly building an audience and a solid business in a space the majors just can't seem to get right.

So they buy it.

On Tuesday, sources tell me, Fairfax finalised a deal to buy Essential Baby for around $1.5 million. It may be that FXJ got a bargain. Then again, it's almost certain that they'll break it once the founder serves out her payout period. (These guys really don't know how to do social media.)

Tip yer hat to a smart mum in Bronte.

You heard it first here.

Added 9/12:
"I'm sick of these chump change deals," says Ernie Entrepreneur (currently raising finance for his own, very smart web 2.0 start up).
"Fair enough," says I. "But given this is a single owner operation with one sales staff, and has been taking in $50,000 a month in ad revenue, they ain't having to spread it too far."
"Sheesh, they could have worked the multiples a bit harder. Anyway, how far does $1.5 mill get you in Bronte?"
"Oh, you're a cynic, Ernie. It's a site about baby stuff. Even in Bronte that'll buy you a lot of nappies."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Walkley shenanigans

I have nothing to add to this except to say I was sitting in the middle of the room and the smile on Stephen's face as he got to his feet and looked up at Milne ranting on the stage was electric: You can't buy publicity like this!

Friday, November 03, 2006

MSM and the Ozblogosphere

So, we had some good press in Crikey today. Makes a nice change. It's been interesting watching the reaction to Tim Dunlop's announcement about the blog he'll be writing on from next week.

The comments on Tim's post varied from the how-could-you-write-for-them variety to the congratulations-wish-it-was-me type. My favourite was this one: "Congratulations Tim. I’m with Amanda. Working on a Murdoch web site is about as impure as driving a VW, using MS Software, drinking Guinness or watching Dylan do a blistering Lovesick at the Emmys."

For anyone who doesn't know Road to Surfdom, Tim writes one of the more intelligent, long running and, yes, popular blogs in the Ozblogosphere.

It's going to be an interesting ride for him, and I do hope that his more sceptical readers will come to see that writing a blog on can be a win win. Certainly there'll be no attempts to curtail anything he would naturally do on Surfdom.

And for the record, no one in News Ltd has played any part in this. It's come about simply from Tim and I talking.

A throwaway line at the end of Margaret Simons' piece is worth highlighting:
"At the very least, the News Limited move suggests that a back door into journalism is ajar. Don’t want to do a communications course followed by a cadetship to break into journalism? Consider starting up a blog – if you can make it good enough to get noticed."

Well, it's not a "News Ltd move". It's just one arrangement on a News interactive site. But quibbles aside, my feeling is that this is absolutely true. And will become more so.

It has actually always been possible, but it does require that MSM editors and publishers actually read blogs - apart from the few who always have. Once they start it'll be game on ... as they say.

Monday, October 30, 2006

YouTube pulls Comedy Central

There goes one of my favourite reasons for checking YouTube.

What's next for the big corporates as they chase down social media and other web 2.0 opportunities? Has it all peaked?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Media feeding frenzy

Gotta love cliches.

Feeding frenzy? Creates a great mental image, doesn't it?

Well it didn't take long to find out what they'd do. And it wasn't "wait and see".

Monday, October 16, 2006

Investigating the future

While Mark Day writes about Australian newspaper editors who don't understand their web sites, the editor of the LA Times is activating his newsroom to go out and investigate the problem themselves. It's an interesting approach.

As the NYT puts it: "While visits to newspaper Web sites are increasing, they account for a small part of revenue and do not draw enough advertising to support newsroom operations."

This is the problem facing all newspapers. But rather than hiring consultants, or simply wringing their hands - though it sounds like there's been a lot of that already - the LA Times editor "is dedicating three investigative reporters and half a dozen editors to find ideas, at home and abroad, for re-engaging the reader, both in print and online."

Their sense of urgency is admirably, if a little belated: “'We realized we had to act fast or we wouldn’t have anything to act for,' said Vernon Loeb, the paper’s California investigations editor, who helped originate the idea."

So, will they publish the findings as a paper insert or a site feature?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Media laws passed

Australia's route to a new media legislative environment passed its first step this afternoon after it was approved by the Senate. Next stop the House of Represenatatives.

Opinions are divided over what level of M&A activity this will prompt. Today's Oz says most of the big players will opt to wait and see. But others have said there'll be a fast and furious frenzy of buying.

The biggest objections to the changes are about what this will mean for diversity. But even that is not a clear cut matter. Some have argued that diversity would come from fewer, rather than more, media companies.

We'll know soon enough.

State of the Oz print media report

It's report time. The third State of the News Media 2006 report has been published and lo and behold the US version has prompted an Australian one.

The Australian Press Council has just released The State of the News Print Media in Australia Report 2006.

It's about time we had a local study. It would have been nice, though, if they'd delivered it as a complete PDF file rather than just via some very rough html.

Anyway, despite some of the doomsayers, it's a surprisingly upbeat, albeit fairly thin, report:

"Terminal decline is not a description that is warranted for the Australian press, certainly not yet, given the innovative and vigorous response of newspapers to the challenges they are encountering. But the juggernaut of change is challenging everybody in the print part of the news industry."

And that's, understandably, where today's reports have taken the story. The Oz concludes that "newspapers do have a future, despite the rise - and rise - of the internet as an information source".

And some rise it is. Look at the year-on-year growth rates for the main news sites:

I can't help but think there's a lot of wishful thinking going on in this report. The authors are by and large working editors, with a couple of academics thrown in for good measure. There's nothing specifically wrong with that, but I just don't get the impression they are the best available sources for some of the analysis - particularly around the question of new media and the challenges it presents.

Elsewhere, Australian media organisations are conducting their own investigations into the road ahead.

Mark Day writes about a recent ABC session on the "digital future" and decides that "Just as TV did not kill cinema despite the dire predictions, the internet threat to newspapers is based more on its capacity to leach away advertising revenues than drawing away readers."

Well, that's a helluva capacity.

But it's not all. In the same article Day says he has been "talking to a bunch of newspaper editors about something they universally admit they don't yet fully understand: their websites."

And there lies the biggest problem for newspapers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Looking ahead

Some current pieces on online news and newsroom movements:

'Wash Times' does all audio on demand - The Washington Times has launched a new online feature that automatically translates all of the newspaper's staff-written content, as well as some AP content, into streamed audio and MP3 files

The New York Times' digital makeover - Martin Nisenholtz is presiding over a surge in digital revenue at the old gray lady.

Financial Times takes first major step towards a digital future - From now on all the material that appears on, email news alerts, blogs, podcasts and all other platforms is being produced by the same people who turn out the main paper.

"Video is the future for Telegraph photographers" - Newly appointed Telegraph Executive Editor (Pictures) Stuart Nicol, who is set to join the troubled newspaper group on October 16th, has told EPUK that the future of the Telegraph’s photojournalism lies in shooting video.

'Technology Is Now an Important Part of Media' - The New York Times Co.'s new futurist-in-residence predicts that a new generation of newspaper readers will soon be accustomed to reading news on a screen and won't possess an "emotional attachment" to paper.

... And I know it doesn't really fit in this category, but:

Google's Chief looks ahead - In an interview with TIME, CEO Eric Schmidt explains what's behind the company's new push for partnerships

Scott Karp identifies a particularly ominous comment in the Time interview.

People power

A couple of interesting things on citizen media:

* UGC gets sticky - Sites based on user-generated content (UGC) are seeing huge gains in usage in the UK, according to data recently released by comScore Media Metrix.

* MIT Communications forum on the emergence of citizens' media.

* Mark Glaser's Guide to Citizen Journalism

Friday, September 29, 2006

Time to consolidate print and online

I've been enjoying Steve Outing's columns for years, but this one nails an important issue for newspapers in a way few other writers have been able to articulate so succinctly.

Here's a choice quote:

"A huge part of the problem is that newspaper companies are still being run, mostly, by people from the print side -- and who, though they may attempt to understand interactive media and the needs and media habits of young people, aren't effective at moving their organizations in a radically different, and necessary, direction. That's because they're still too tied to the print business and thus are unwilling to go in directions that might damage it, even if in the long run placing more resources and executive energy into new lines of (digital) business at the expense of the print edition is the right way to go."

A number of Outing's interviewees suggested that newspapers need to consider putting online people in charge of the entire news operations. He recognises that this is still a very radical idea, and I agree that there aren't many news operations that would go there yet (are there any?), but I do believe it is unavoidable in the long run.

Update: Comments from Roy Greenslade and Andrew grant-Adamson and Matt Terenzio

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cutting a bigger slice of the online ad pie

Amongst the gloom, some good news for newspapers' online efforts. Research by Veronis Suhler Stevenson shows that legacy media companies are growing their share of the online ad market faster than the Big Tech competitors Google and Yahoo!.

Paid Content reports:

"Traditional media’s share of the $22 billion 2006 spend is forecast at 37 percent, up 23 percent from 2000. By 2010 that is predicted to rise to 35 percent or $17 billion in a total market worth $44 billion. VSS MD James Rutherford said that despite the 'handwringing' about old media not making money online, the data shows the hard work is paying off."

Yes, the hard work is paying off. That growth, though, is coming off a low base, so it will be interesting to see if the rate holds. The strength of the legacy brands can translate into strong online audience numbers but it relies on more hard work and staying ahead of some pretty smart competition. (See Cameron Reilly's interview with Bob Cauthorn for an alternate take on the brand argument.)

Add to this the proliferation of independent and niche publications, and it will be very interesting to see how much of the online pie the old media companies can actually grab.

Time Inc is betting big. It is selling 18 of its niche publications to concentrate on the mass audience titles, both online and in print.

CEO Ann Moore explains:

“While these titles are good performers, Time Inc. is focusing its energy, resources and investment on our largest and most profitable brands, brands that have demonstrated an ability to draw large audiences in print and digital form. … I am confident that the biggest brands in print, with our expertise and support, will develop into the biggest brands online.”
- Adage

Monday, September 11, 2006

An interview with Simon Waldman

To mark his recent promotion to Director of Digital Strategy for the Guardian Media Group, Simon Waldman spoke to Gemima Kiss at Paid Content.

Some choice quotes:

"For a long time we could count on the fact that people in other newspaper groups didn't know what they were doing and didn't have any investment. That is no longer the case."

And ...

"After their dot com disasters, anyone who talked about the internet at News International was deemed to be completely barking. The internet was seen as an insane thing to be involved with so they closed it down, charged their international users and rubbished us for having large traffic. Then all of a sudden Rupert Murdoch stands up and says being big on the web is good and we need audience - and suddenly the whole thing changes."

How newspaper sites need to change

Adrian Holovaty has some interesting things to say in response to the recent Bivings Report on US newspaper sites.

Here are a couple of gems:

"Journalists should have less of a concern of what is and isn't 'journalism', and more of a concern for important, focused information that is useful to people's lives and helps them understand the world."


"Just about every newspaper Web site content-management system I've ever seen is unabashedly story-centric. Want to post event calendar information into your news-site CMS? Post it as a 'news article' object. Want to publish listings of recent crimes in your town? It goes in as a 'news article'. There's not much Joe Reporter, or even Jane Online Editor, can do about this, because Oh We've Invested So Much Into This CMS, and/or Our Newspaper Web Site Doesn't Employ Any Computer Programmers. (The latter of which makes as much sense as a film director refusing to employ cameramen or video editors.)"

Amen to that!

Friday, September 08, 2006

New news design

Plenty of good advice from the Society of News Design conference in Florida this week. Good stuff about teams working in Flash and some great advice from Alberto Cairo about working with infographics.

Plus a keynote from the authors of Epic 2015.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Newspapers passing into history

Writing in Editor and Publisher, Tom Mohr former President of Knight Ridder Digital outlines what he sees as the main challenges for newspapers. He writes: "The window of opportunity is closing. Ultimately, the key is leadership at the highest levels.

I couldn't agree more.

Meanwhile, Google is doing its bit to document the passing into history of quality newspaper journalism.

It's a window into some pay-per-view archives, but it's also a cool tool.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Irwin's death shows Wikipedia at its worst

Wikipedia is a phenomenon and an immensely valuable source of information. But only some types of information.

I've long thought that its news coverage is a real weakness, to the point of being detrimental to the effort of the site as an online encyclopedia.

Today was a good example.

Steve Irwin, otherwise known as the Crocodile Hunter was killed whilst diving off the Queensland coast. Here's how broke the news.

And below is a screenshot of how it first appeared on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia closed off the editing function to anonymous users: "Due to recent vandalism, editing of this article by anonymous or newly registered users is temporarily disabled," it said.

Click on the thumb to see a larger version.

Steve Irwin's death as reported by Wikipedia

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Searching for a business model

Web flavour of the month, Youtube, is fishing around for a way to actually make some money out of its hype. Great traffic, lots of media coverage, but no revenue.

Still, they've appointed a CFO. That's a start.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A chat with Cameron Reilly from TPN and Mark Jones of the AFR at PANPA the other day.

Low camera angles definitely don't suit ...

Who killed the newspaper?

"Newspapers are making progress with the internet, but most are still too timid, defensive or high-minded."

The Economist nails some of the problems and trends for newspapers.

But despite this succinctly presented special report the issues run deeper.

And the answers will be many.

For a different perspective on the "quality will win" view here's Michael Wolff's Vanity Fair piece on the New York Times. An internet fan he ain't:

"The premise is that, via the Internet, the Times can more easily deliver the Times. And, indeed, it's created the richest site of any newspaper in the world, a site whose depth and efficiency inevitably undermine the paper itself. At a conference earlier this year, hosted by Google, Arthur gave a talk about "real journalism," saying that the Times would succeed online because its brand had a proven record of probity—that people would always want the real thing. (His talk was accompanied by video clips of lots of older, exhausted-looking white men working in the newsroom.)

"But more and more there is the sinking sensation at the Times that the Internet isn't Kansas. It's not just the relentless reductiveness of the new medium—the Times's long version becomes fodder for everybody else's short version. Or that the Internet requires, according to one hollow-eyed reporter, "everyone to do more and more for no more money." Much more unsettling than that: the Internet, once thought of as the ideal vehicle for reaching a targeted audience, is turning into a high-volume business, super-mass-media, dependent on cheap advertising. Success demands vast numbers: tens of millions or hundreds of millions of habituated users."

I'd hazard the view that the Times' problem isn't the internet, it's the culture of the Times itself.

Update: The Oz takes umbrance with the Economist's view.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Newspapers online: signs of the times

Mark Glaser's Media Shift reviews some interesting new research on "The Use of the Internet by America's Newspapers" produced by the Bivings Group. The comparisons in regard to Australian newspaper sites are a little loose. Nevertheless, we're doing a lot of what they describe - and, imo, we're doing it just as effectively.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Google's mobile traffic reports

Ross Dawson pointed out to me the other day that Google have just released live traffic maps for mobile phones in the US. The system allows mobile phone users to chose a destination within Google Maps and select "show traffic". Road conditions are highlighted in three colors: red for congested, yellow or orange for slowdowns, and green for a clear run.

It's a great idea - one many news sites would love to be have been the first to do effectively ... But then along comes Google.

The problem for Australia, though, is not just the reporting mechanisms needed to do this, but the cost of mobile data transfer. You might love the idea of getting the fastest route out of a peak hour jam, but if you live in Sydney your mobile phone bill would be through the roof very quickly.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

From Sydney to San Francisco

Here are some blog posts from yesterday's Future Of Media conference. There'll be video streams available tomorrow, apparently.

Also, BANGitUP TV blogged the event from Sydney and JD Lasica in San Francisco.

It was a very interesting day, though the short time frame and the nature of the topics meant that it was necessarily compressed. A number of sessions could have rolled on extensively.

The live video cross to San Francisco was something of a highlight - cross continental participants included Chris Anderson, Craig Newmark and Moira Gunn. Locally, Ian Gardiner, Ben Barron, Jack Matthews and others provided Australian perspectives.

It certainly showed a good model for conference video link ups.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Future of Media conference

I'm chairing a panel at the Future of Media Summit this week and will have the pleasure of talking with Ian Gardner, Ross Gibson and Ben Barron about content creation - who's going to make it (and how), who's going to consume it and who's likely to pay for it.

Also taking part via teleconference from San Francisco will be Chris Anderson, Craig Newmark and David Sifry. Should be a fascinating day.

Ross Dawson from the Future Exploration Network has posted pre-conference podcast interviews with some of the participants, as well as the Future of Media Report 2006 summarising many of the trends across media useage and production, including amongst other things:

Global media market highlights and comparisons
Emerging media relationships
Content creation and usage
Media industry networks
Future of Media Strategic Framework
Five ideas transforming media

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lars Rasmussen

The man who invented Google maps - not quite singlehandedly - spoke at a Sydney pub the other night about mashups and APIs and Ajax and other good things.

Here's the MP3. I managed to get most of his talk ... before the batteries in the recorder died.


Originally uploaded by Hugh Martin.
This is the Ukraine Hotel where I stayed during the Moscow conference. It's directly across the Moscow River from the Russian Parliament and has a wonderfully gothic high-Soviet style design (looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie). It's one of the Seven Sisters built by Stalin as his answer to the modernist boom in the US between the wars. It reeks of cigarette smoke with the shades of old KGB and politburo spooks on every floor. And it has a great view through the smog from the platform beneath the spire on the 30th floor.

Here are some more photos from the Moscow trip, including a bunch from Cathedral Square in the Kremlin.

Moscow WEF

This poor blog is getting more and more part-time ... but hey, it's still good for occasional media stuff.

I used to like reading Simon Waldman's blog for that reason, but I've noticed he's moved to a new system and put a redirect on his old archives so you get a fleeting glimpse of the old "work stuff" that he says he's got bored writing about before being passed straight to his new site. Bit of a tease, really. He might have become bored with it - frankly, I don't know how he found the time to write that much anyway - but it was an interesting insight into the thinking of a senior new media guy. His explanation is that "What started out as exploration and half-baked ideas in the blogosphere have now become standard fodder for every media exec in town".

Oh well, fair enough.

Anyway, I was in Moscow in early June for the WEF sessions which, to be honest, had some of what Waldman would have hated, but a lot of other very interesting stuff around current strategies for newspapers online.

Here are some tidbits:

  • Search engine referrals to the have increased 71 per cent in the last 12 months. SEO is a major tactical play for them, according to GM Vivan Schiller. She was cagey about the execution, not surprisingly.
  • Traffic to has increased from 16 million UVs a month to 25 million UVs a month over the last 12-18 months. They put this down to their page redesign, a new video player, better organisation of print and online newsrooms allowing more responsive publishing, and better integration and treatment of verticals - travel, entertainment, real estate etc. They've reorganised the reporting structure on the site and appointed John Landman, former metro editor, as overall boss. The editor now reports to him and this has allowed better communications and relations between print and online.
  • Both and are introducing personalisation. in the next month, in the next couple of months. There were no details on cost. It's taken about a year to set up and they've ( been running a limited trial for the last few months. The launch will be in beta form, a first for them. It's fully based on their rss feeds, and the expected benefit is wholly around extending time spent on the site.
  • A big difference between the two sites is that the don't really care about UGC, whereas it's a big focus for According to Vivian Schiller: "The web is increasingly filled with a lot of user generated content - there's certainly nothing wrong with that - but often that user generated content is unfiltered and it's uninformed"., on the other hand, is looking closely at Web 2.0 strategies.
  • Vorarlberger Medienhaus (Austria) has been successfully experimenting with reverse publishing wire news headlines in its regional papers. The logic is that the newspaper is a perfect browsing mechanism and the web provides the depth. So they run (sometimes) hundred of headlines in dedicated sections of their world pages with pointers to the web for the full story. for local news they encourage readers to generate story ideas for the paper through the web site.
On the surface this logic appears contrary to received wisdom, but their argument is that readers can get a quick and easy scan of the headlines and then decide they want to read more on the site. So they run (sometimes) hundred of headlines in dedicated sections of their world pages with pointers to the web for the full story. For local news readers are generating story ideas for the paper through the web site.

They are selling more newspapers and getting more traffic to the web site as a result. And they say the timeliness issue is no more a concern than running full wire copy in the paper already is, but because they save space by compressing to headlines they then have more room for reader generated stories and local issues.

  • Canada's Globe and Mail web site has had a 30 per cent increase in UVs since it added a comment function on the bottom of each article.
  • Yahoo! news currently has no way of verifying authenticity of user generated content. The BBC is trying, but theirs is a very manual process. Steve Hermann e-i-c of News interactive at the BBC spoke about how they are doing this.
  • The Norwegian paper Dagbladet gets 1.6 million UVs a week from a population of less than 5 million (helluva reach). They attribute this success to their portal strategy (visually illustrated in presentation).
There was also a bit of media activity through the WEF blog and related vlog with various participant interviews, including one with yours truly.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What's up?

Newsmapping the globe ...

It looks good, but it's strangely out of date. Proof of concept only, perhaps? Right now Australian stories on the map are three days old, there's a 9-week old story from the Washington Post about a blogger on death row, a similarly aged story about pay rates for workers in Calgary, but nothing from today.

New look for the NYT

The New York Times relaunched its web site this week. Here are a few responses:

- Writing in Slate, Jack Shafer decided he liked the new site so much he was cancelling his print subscription.

- Newly appointed designer Khoi Vinh blogged about the design but was too modest to take more than a passing credit.

- Six Apart analysed the new look and decided it was heavily influenced by blogs.

Stats and alexaholics

Here's a handy free metric tool for comparing site traffic across the top 100,000 sites on the web -

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bridging the web print divide

Although newspapers have been reporting via the Web for more than a decade, the extent to which online newspaper reports have expanded to include more video and audio elements, constant breaking news, and the exploding world of blogs, online columns, and reader feedback is nearly limitless. With podcasts, daily streaming reports, and other visual images, newspapers are combining their newsroom talent with the Web's immediacy and high-tech presentations to revolutionize news coverage well beyond the morning paper.

In the past year, numerous newspapers, including USA Today, the New York Times, The Sacramento Bee, and the Chicago Tribune, have reorganized their approach to create either 24-hour "continuous" news desks or combined Web/print newsrooms in which the online and print staffs are integrated. "The critical thing is that this is a merger, not a hostile takeover," declares USA Today Editor Ken Paulson. In a key move last December, he promoted Kinsey Wilson, who holds the top position at the paper's Web site, to an executive editor post. "It is a combining of talent," Paulson explains. "The hope is that the print edition will help enhance USA Today online, and those online will help bring their talent to the newspaper."

Source: Editor and Publisher

Citizen journalism redux

A nice roundup here of the main points of “citizen journalism” (or community/user generated content, or whatever you prefer to call it).

Includes the effects on traditional journalism, early examples of cit journalism, interview with Dan Gillmour, and a look at the BBC's UGC unit.

Guardian editor on the end of newspapers

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger spoke to the Royal Society of Arts in London a couple of weeks ago on the subject "Newspapers in the age of blogs".

The speech was blogged extensively by Mike Butcher at mbites:

"The Guardian's editor is almost certainly unique amongst British newspaper editors as having regularly supped with start-ups and Web 2.0 companies in Silicon Valley. He is trying to figure out, understandably, how his newspaper should deal with the pincer movement of the terminal decline in newspaper readership and the loss of display and classified advertising revenue - all thanks to the Internet. [...]

The picture certainly looks grim. Revenue is walking out of newspapers, into Internet portals and niches titles.

At the same time, Rusbridger outlined, there is a gap between the time it is taking newspapers to develop their own web sites and the surge in internet revenues among the boisterous technology start-ups and the leviathans of Google, Yahoo! and MSN."

An MP3 of Rusbridger's speech is here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Heard it on the Newsvine

Newsvine is the latest and greatest in citizen journalism efforts, combining AP feeds with blog posts and "seed" links from users.

OJR gives it a nice rap:

"Newsvine is a Seattle-based company started by former Disney and ESPN staffers. Their site launched an invitation-only preview beta in January. The site publishes news feeds from the Associated Press and ESPN, and then gives users the ability to comment on those stories, publish their own stories, write their own blog, and vote which articles should receive the most attention. (You can find a detailed overview of the site's features on

By combining hard news with citizen opinion in a single site, Newsvine has built a powerful call-and-response mechanism that couples the culling power of news aggregators with the empowerment of citizen media. Each type of content provides a check against the excesses or omissions of the other. That focus on daily news then provides the clear organization and compelling presentation that can spur readers to involvement."