Monday, December 10, 2007

Citizen journalism is a dumb name

In the last couple of weeks a number of current and former colleagues - senior online editors on some of the largest news sites in Australasia - have directed me to Steve Outing's recent column titled An Important Lesson About Grassroots Media.

Their polite, but pointed reasoning is that as someone who's responsible for a network of regional news sites and who has for some time talked up the opportunities around online community publishing (it gets called UGC in some quarters), I should be aware that it's a highly risky endeavour.

All right. I am.

I actually think it has always been wrong to think of so called citizen journalists as full time reporters or replacements for journalists. That was never going to happen. The two things - user generated content and professionally generated content - need to coexist.

Steve Outing's experiment is a good illustration. Pure community reporting as a business model was always going to struggle. The real question is what part does it play in the content mix on a quality site? Is it emphasised alongside professional reporting, or is it something that forms an important part of the backdrop to a site?

My feeling is that for major news sites community contribution has to be there but professional journalism is the key driver. For regional news sites the weighting and mix may lean more towards the community contribution model.

Professional reporting and editing remain at the core though.

As for the term "citizen journalism", at worst it's misleading and at best less than useful in an Australian context. Jeff Jarvis has been talking about networked journalism as an alternative. I don't think this adequately describes what we're talking about either. But either way the debate would benefit from some clearer thinking around what it is we're talking about when we discuss the involvement of our readers in the publishing activity on our sites.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Les Hinton to be new CEO of Dow Jones

Reports today said Executive Chairman of News International, Les Hinton, had been appointed CEO of Dow Jones.

This afternoon staff received this note from Mr Hinton:
Sent: Fri Dec 07 15:06:38 2007
Subject: A message to all staff from Les Hinton, who has been tapped to be the new CEO of Dow Jones

To all Dow Jones staff:

Some of you will already know that I am to become chief executive officer of Dow Jones & Company next week once the acquisition by News Corporation is complete.

First, I want tell you how thrilled I am. I also want you to know that, even after a lifetime in the media, I have never faced a more exhilarating challenge.

Dow Jones has a great history and a great future as part of the News Corp. group of companies.

You will become part of what is, in many ways, a very different company to Dow Jones. However, News Corp.'s ambitions are just the same: to create and grow media properties that will thrive in the years ahead.

Under Rupert Murdoch's leadership, News Corp. has built itself through a readiness to challenge the odds and make radical, innovative decisions. Its principal resource, as with Dow Jones, is the energy and imagination of its people.

For the last 12 years, I have been executive chairman of News International in the UK. NI is the country's largest publisher of national newspapers, with more than 10 million readers each day. It has many of the same challenges and opportunities as Dow Jones, and we will gain a lot by sharing ideas and working together.

Meanwhile, there are many people for me to meet and there is much for me to learn. I look forward to working with you in the years ahead and seeing as many of you as possible in the coming weeks.

Les Hinton

Growing online ad revenue

We know the pie is growing fast - AUD$1.2 billion or thereabouts in our market this FY:

It's a good picture, from an online point of view. But some analysts are now questioning just how much of that growth is flowing to online news businesses.

In the US there's a looming debate about the gap between the phenomenal growth of online advertising and the share of that spend being collected by news organisations.

Alan Mutter makes the point that:
"Internet advertising sales at newspapers this year have grown at slower rates than those of competing media, shrinking the industry’s share of online revenues in the third quarter to the second-lowest level since 2004."
Food for thought.

What's the collective noun for editors?

... And it's not directly related to alcohol.

l to r: Current editor David Higgins, Chris Janz ( editor 2002-05), Hugh Martin ( editor 2005-06)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mid-week roundup

I've been catching up on some reading this week, viz: