Monday, February 28, 2005
News site registration impedes search accessibility
An interview with Topix.net founder and CEO, Rich Skrenta, on SearchEngineBlog.com sheds some light on the importance of internet search and the problem that news site registration causes. Skrenta and co. have designed their popular "news organized by topic and location" website to avoid articles that require registration. "Registration gates cause the majority of our user complaints. Because of this, the Topix.net robo-editor will do its best to find a related story to link to that is not behind a reg gate. So if the same story comes out in two places, but one is behind a reg gate and the other is not, topix.net will link to the story that won't impede users clicking on it with a form." Thus, Topix.net could feasibly pose two problems to newspaper websites:
1. By avoiding registration sites, a standard practice of most major dailies, Topix.net could prove detrimental to branded news. If the site's popularity continues to rise, breaking news will become less associated with well established, credible news organizations if they maintain their registration requirement.
2. Advertisers may become even more hesitant to hawk their wares on registration sights if Topix news searches become the internet norm. Registration allows advertisers to know the demographics of a site's readers. If reader statistics become vague or disappear all together because of search, advertisers won't know where to place their ads.
Despite these problems, Skrenta is still optimistic about online news. "I think there's a big opportunity for existing media organizations to take advantage of the current online trends, and add incremental value and profit to their delivery of content online. The exact nature of these business models is still sorting itself out but some online operations are doing very well, and we've talked with some very forward-looking folks in traditional media businesses." Will one of these "forward-looking" business models be the abolition of registration?
Europe, Islam and the newspaper industry
There is not a week without some news about how Europe and European newspapers deal with Islam and sometimes Islamism. Here are two examples provided by the European Journalism Centre: " 1 - Germany closed down a Turkish-language Islamist daily newspaper that has denied the Holocaust. Interior Minister Otto Schily put a banning order on the Yeni Akit publishing house, which brings out the European edition of Anadoluda Vakit. The title means "the times in Anatolia". The Interior Ministry in Berlin said the closure was ordered because Vakit had incited to ethnic hate. The newspaper had attacked Israel, Jews in general and the fundamentals of western society."
2 - In The Netherlands, a Rotterdam mosque has demanded newspaper De Telegraaf to correct a report claiming that one of its imams was to be deported for inciting hatred and Jihad. The chairperson of the Stichting Iskender Pasa mosque, Isa Kandenir, said that the report was incorrect. Kandenir said the prayer service was being held and the imam was in attendance as usual. The mosque foundation sent a legal letter to De Telegraaf demanding that a correction be published in the newspaper.
Yemen Times: new editor in chief
Yemen Times is an old friend of the World Editors Forum and the newspaper will celebrate its 14th anniversary this year. The Board of Directors of Yemen Times Establishment for Press and Publishing has officially appointed Nadia Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf as the new Editor-in-Chief of The Yemen Times starting tomorrow, March 1st 2005. After roughly six years of service as the Editor-in-Chief, Walid Al-Saqqaf will be ending his term of office and temporarily leaving Yemen for training and post-graduate studies. His post will be taken over by his sister Nadia, who has been working for Oxfam Yemen for more than a year, and who has also worked for The Yemen Times during various periods of her professional career."
"Mrs. al-Saqqaf is a graduate of Sterling University in the United Kingdom with a Masters degree Information Systems Management. She graduated with Upper Grade with Distinction and had also enrolled in a number of training programs and courses including a month-long course on Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
During her work at The Yemen Times, she said she would be focusing on supporting human rights, gender issues and womens? rights."
Source: Yemen Times
Morocco publishers to fight 'newspaper renting'
It happens in a lot of African countries where buying a newspaper is relatively expensive compared to the average standard of life. Here, Publishing-Industry.Net reports about the Moroccon sitiuation: "Morocco's publishing industry has decided to take a stand to confront the economic crisis that the industry faces in the name of “renting” newspapers instead of buying them. In one such effort The National Federation of Newspaper Publishers is planning to launch an awareness rising programme to encourage readers to buy newspapers instead of “renting” them, said the President of the (FNEJ) Abdelmounim Dilami. Dilami also said that they are working at improving the distribution of national newspapers in remote areas and that the independent press is starting to conquest the media environment in search of profit."
Friday, February 25, 2005
Wikis vs. blogs, two faces of citizen media
Cheers to Simon Waldman, Director of Digital Publishing at London's The Guardian, for tipping off the Wikinews debate on his personal blog. Waldman discusses a few of his qualms with the site, primarily arguing that Wikinews - a branch of Wikipedia - is not living up to the ambitions summarized in its mission statement and manifesto. Admiring Wikipedia, Waldman argues that the Wiki model works well for the citizens' encyclopedia, but not for the news member of the Wiki family. In his review, Waldman makes several suggestions, but ultimately concludes that the people at Wiki should "Stick to Wikipedia."
At the Editors Weblog, our opinion differs, especially because the wiki community is an aspect of citizens media that bloggers seem a bit eager to condemn before understanding its full potential. We don't understand their haste!
1) First of all, Wikipedia had the same problems at its launch, especially during the first six months, only achieving significant recognition after two or three years. Sure, at present, the difference between Wikinews' ambitions and the reality are quite significant. But like Wikipedia, Wikinews needs some more time to evolve.
2) In order to evolve, however, a few logistical problems must be worked out, mainly the site's user-friendliness. Here Waldman is totally right: it's not so easy to become a Wikinews provider! But again, that will come with time.
But, in fact, the real debate is more philosophical on what is news in the blogosphere and in the wikisphere:
3) It is obvious that Wikinews is making bloggers uneasy. They are on opposite ends of the information spectrum. Basically, blogs are defined by individual immediacy of emotion, with no fact-checking and no editor; simply read and react. The comments that follow a blog certainly add to the flavor, but do so in a manner that perpetuates opinion, thus resulting in a fragmented block of information. Wikis, on the other hand, provide for "collective intelligence", where the community fact-checks and corrects itself, and as Wales explained in the Editors Weblog last week, where "Every contributor can be an editor." The goal is to provide "neutral information", not biased personal opinion. This cooperative information gathering among a community results in one sole article, a combination of many writings into an integrated body. Just to say that the philosophy is different between wikis and postings!
4) We agree with Waldman when he says that Wikinews will never rival AP or Reuters, as loosely predicted in the project's mission statement. Maybe Wikinews will never evolve into an online newspaper (see Wales' interview), but surprisingly Wikinews works - or should work - as a real news organization. Wikinews acts as a kind of "virtual newsroom." In that sense, wiki journalism is closer to traditional journalism than blogs.
Wikinews presents the world with a new conception of information based on a noble principle that advances the cause of citizen journalism. We should be patient, allowing this principle time to take root and grow before suffocating it with criticism.
(a John and Bertrand wiki)
Posted by john burke on February 25, 2005 at 07:25 PM in a. Citizen journalism, c. Multimedia convergence, i. Future of print, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack
UK: TV channels to pay for listings in dailies?
From ANIMA newsletter: "Richard Desmond, the owner of Daily Express and Daily Star in the UK, has asked digital TV channels to pay for their listings being printed in the newspapers. The fee would be about £150,000 a year. This would include channels like Eurosport, MTV, UK Gold and Disney Channel. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have united to refuse to pay and by doing so, are taking the risk that the listings of BBC3, ITV2 and E4 would no longer be printed in the Daily Express and Daily Star."
Source: ANIMA newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org) in France
Russia: how to enter into the Kremlin press pool
Interesting article of the Washington Post on the Kremlin press pool: "While Putin travels around with a contingent of reporters just as Bush does, the Kremlin press pool is a handpicked group of reporters, most of whom work for the state and the rest selected for their fidelity to the Kremlin's rules of the game. Helpful questions are often planted. Unwelcome questions are not allowed. And anyone who gets out of line can get out of the pool. The Kremlin press pool is like so many institutions in Russia that have the trappings of a Western-style pluralistic society but operate under a different set of understandings, part of what analyst Lilia Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center calls "the illusion of democracy."
Source: Washington Post
Singapore: daily to go the way of the Wall Street Journal, charging for online content
Singapore's The Strait's Times is poised to charge readers for access to the articles published on their website, according to The Industry Standard. A few months ago, the paper began requiring registration for use of its website and has decided to take the next step, joining the rare amount of dailies around the world that do the same, such as Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and the Wall Street Journal. An annual subscription will cost S$120 whereas the printed newspaper costs S$276 for a year. The paper plans to improve the content of its website once it starts charging for it in March, posting business reports 12 hours earlier and expanding the archive from 3 to 7 days. "We believe that we have a good and valuable product that users will want to pay for," explained the newspapers. "It's also not a tenable business model to charge for the print edition of the newspaper and not for its online edition." In related news, Online Journalism Review summarizes Adam L. Penenberg of New York University who feels that the Wall Street Journal is losing its "long-term relevancy" by charging for its content. Young readers, said Penenberg, are not paying for online news, and thus, will more than likely never pick up the habit of reading the Journal.
Posted by john burke on February 25, 2005 at 02:27 PM in h. Young readers / New readers, k. Circulation and newspaper launches, n. Online strategies, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers, r. Revenues and business models | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
AP and Reuters online: how will they affect the media world?
Recent news posted by Susan Mernit on February 23 about the Associated Press adding RSS to their website has caused a minor tremor in the news industry. If news feeds are now directly available from AP, what effect will this have on the brands for which they provide content? AP has emphasized that the company is not trying to launch its own branded news site, rather that their RSS feeds will link to their members' news sites through their service called Custom News. Rafat Ali interviewed Jim Kennedy, VP/Director of Strategic Planning at AP, who added that soon, clicks on AP's RSS will be "geo-targeted," meaning that AP's RSS clicks will be directed to a member relative to the reader's location. Thus, where at first glance it would appear that AP could possibly be attempting to detach itself from its members by providing its own branded news feeds, its RSS strategy will actually result in not only reinforcing the AP brand, but also the brand of its plethora of members. In turn, this will also strengthen the relationship between AP and its members. On the other hand, UK based Reuters seems to be taking a different route in the United States by trying to stimulate its online, mobile and interactive-television businesses.
With its internet strategy, which also includes RSS, the famed news company appears to be separating itself from its traditional role of selling its product to be published by others. Jon Friedman recently wrote an article in MarketWatch dominated by his pessimism of Reuters American venture. The article, based on an interview with Azhar Rafee, the man in charge of boosting Reuters' American digital business, says that Reuters is not taking advantage of the innovative capabilities that the web provides and that if it doesn't somehow distinguish itself, it will never attract a following in the United States, a country already teeming with trusted and established news brands. "Reuters.com will have a hard time sparking interest in American cyber-surfers. Its front page, while rich in hard-news value, appears to be pretty bland and somewhat unwieldy...Reuters.com has big goals but for now, I'd say that it has a long way to go," Friedman explained. Rafee is a bit more optimistic, noting that Reuters is used by publishers all over the world for its "unbiased voice" and that he hopes that this reputation will translate into an online business channel. When Friedman pointed out that this isn't a new marketing idea, Rafee responded that audiences are now "so fragmented" that it is "impossible" to please all readers. Part of the interview focused on Reuters competition with Dow Jones' Wall Street Journal, which Rafee sees as an enemy as well as a role model. Somewhat ironically, at the beginning of February, Gordon Crovitz, president of Dow Jones & Co.'s Electronic Publishing group, gave a speech (found on I Want Media) on "Alternative Business Models" at the fourth annual Information Industry Summit, during which he emphasized the ground-breaking opportunities that the Web provides and that online, branded content becomes "more, not less, valuable." "The Web," said Crovitz, "has broadened the business opportunities for those in the information industry who are not afraid to try new business models, even if it means going against the latest fads." During the speech, Crovitz also highlighted Factiva, a joint Dow Jones-Reuters project as well as Dow Jones' recent acquisition of MarketWatch, which also competes with Reuters in providing quality financial news. Could this mean that if AP's online business model, reinforcing its ties with its members, outplays Reuters more solo and apparently lackluster Internet venture, that Dow Jones could eventually gobble up Reuters' American branch? Will AP's online strategy prove successful? Will Reuters be able to break away from relying on selling its material to establishing its own brand in an already swamped market? Stay tuned.
British television award for Baghdad Blogger
From MediaGuardian: "Salam Pax, the former Guardian columnist whose internet diary gave the world a glimpse of Iraq before, during and after the war, has won a Royal Television Society award for the programmes he made with Guardian Films and Newsnight. The Baghdad Blogger began recording daily life in Baghdad in September 2002. His musings on pop music and the likelihood of being blown to pieces by allied bombs or murdered by Saddam's secret police captivated web surfers all over the world. He began writing for the Guardian during the invasion."