Monday, October 17, 2005
"In New Orleans a lot of bad information came from bloggers"
Les Hinton, chairman of News International, accused citizen journalists and bloggers of "amateurism, misrepresentation and failing to emulate the standards of traditional news organisations", reports The Guardian. Hinton, "Murdoch's chief lieutenant in London", spoke at the Society of Editors conference in Windermere, UK.
Referring to citizen journalist's role in covering Hurricane Katrina, he said, "In New Orleans a lot of bad information came from bloggers and amateur witnesses, all newly empowered with instant communication. We must be experts at getting it right and being reliable." He said that bloggers were responsible for reports of unrest and rape that were not approved later (see also previous posting). He said that people needed (traditional) journalists "more than ever to put things into context".
"Citizen blogs actually are stealing our audiences, at least our audiences' time. Their tanks are on our lawns. This brave new world requires new disciplines and skills. But we're still finding out what people want from new media operations, and so are they", he said.
He also said that newspapers will have to change their websites so that they are able to earn money from them. But to convince users from the "freeload generation" to pay for online content, papers will have to do more than just replicate what it is already in the paper. Hinton pointed out that many newspapers have been to slow to respond to the challenges of the digital age, because they feared that online operations would "eat into their profits". He said, "People have wrestled with the quandary of how you can grow aggressively your online presence without at the same time making your company less valuable. The fact is there are ways of doing both, and, simply put, it's a question of developing websites with your brands that add to what print does as opposed to simply replicating it."
Source: The Guardian
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Yahoo! pairs MSM articles with blog postings
Yahoo Inc. announced on October 10 that it would begin joining blog postings with articles from professional journalists and conventional media outlets on its news aggregator, Yahoo News, the most popular Internet media portal, reports Reuters. The site will adopt a three-tiered system: the top ten stories and relevant photos from mainstream media outlets will be listed first, followed by links to related articles and blog postings from 6,500 MSM sources and hundreds of thousands of blogs, and for those who want to go even deeper, a third level of search through 10 million blogs.
Although the product director for Yahoo Search, Joff Redfern says that his company will clearly distinguish between professional and amateur content, the move has the potential to re-ignite the 'Journalists vs. Bloggers debate' in that professionals may not appreciate their material being paired with rants from 'the guys in pajamas.' Well written topic-relevant blogs are sure to gain more exposure and considering their numbers, they may have the potential to drown out mainstream media sources.
Furthermore, with the popularity of Yahoo News and the depth that its aggregator now provides the curious reader through easy search and linking, more direct competition between MSM and blogs could result in a news atmosphere more based on trust. For example, who do you trust more; any random blogger sitting in his basement commenting on Iran's nuclear situation, the journalist designated by a large brand-name media company to report on it, or an expert in Middle Eastern nuclear proliferation who happens to have his own blog?
Monday, October 10, 2005
UK: The Times expands its blogs
Sir Peter Stothard's blog is one of the latest expansions of The Times' move into the blogosphere. Stothard, former editor of The Times and now editor of The Times Literary Supplement, will write "about books, book people, Blair and Bush - plus general observations on the way we are now". He will write in a real-time weblog - "written on his terms in his own time and open to readers to interact with." However, readers' comments will be edited before they appear on the site.
The Times' weblogs includes a music blog, a news weblog, a travel log, an enterprise weblog and a blog about books. More blogs are planned. Regarding the quality of those blogs, The Times states, "In every case they will be produced to the same quality standards as the rest of the site."
Source: The Times
Friday, October 07, 2005
UK: Young blog their way and challenge old media
Very good synthesis from Owen Gibson, media correspondent, The Guardian about the extent of the personal publishing revolution in the UK. The article is backed by a Guardian/ICM poll showing that a third of all young people online have launched their own blog or website.
"Millions of young people who have grown up with the internet and mobile phones are no longer content with the one-way traffic of traditional media and are publishing and aggregating their own content, according to the exclusive survey of those aged between 14 and 21.
A generation has grown up using the internet as its primary means of communication, thanks to an early grasp of online communities and messaging services as well as simple technology allowing web users to launch a personal weblog, or blog, without any specialist technical knowledge. On average, people between 14 and 21 spend almost eight hours a week online, but it is far from a solitary activity. There are signs of a significant generation gap, and rather than using the internet as their parents do - as an information source, to shop or to read newspapers online - most young people are using it to communicate with one another."
About half of that time is spent chatting to friends in online communities or using messaging services, while another hour is spent emailing. The internet may be a window into their personal realm, but it is not a window on the world for young people: only one in 10 say they use it to keep up with news and current affairs."
... "Some will have started personal sites with rudimentary personal information or centred around music or sport, while others have become mini publishing magnates before leaving school. Earlier this year, the tracking site Technorati revealed that a new blog was created every second.
The results also lay bare the bewildering pace of change in media consumption among young people and outline the challenge faced by traditional publishers and broadcasters to remain relevant."
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
American bloggers: from Jayson Blair to Judith Miller
Jay Rosen, NYU professor and blogger, just changed his ranking of the top three newspapers in the US: The Washington Post is now first before the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal! But what is interesting in this - personal - view is that his move is linked to the Judith Miller story. Rosen was horrified that nothing appeared in the Times except a very deferent article presenting the journalist as a "First Amendment hero". That is exactly the Editors Weblog position from the beginning: you can't see the trees (anonymous sources debate) for the wood (the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction scandal in American mainstream newspapers).
Moreover, Rosen made a subtle link between the Jayson Blair story (forged sources issue) and the Judith Miller story (anonymous sources issue). But the great difference is that the blogosphere was an infant two years ago and now it is a rebellious teenager! When the Blair scandal appeared in 2002-2003, the debate was among journalists and a Times report cleared the affair in a few months. It seems that this kind of "smooth process" does not exist anymore. Rosen and other bloggers are asking for more transparency and more investigation, they want more than the fairy-tale...
At the Editors Weblog we understand that it is difficult - and sometimes unfair - to compare the Jayson Blair scandal with the Judith Miller case. But in both situations, it raises questions on the information process and how stories can be distorded or manipulated. And we think it is a very good debate to clarify what really happened when Judith Miller was in jail. If not, the community of journalists will be accused not to cover the real news!
My conclusion: The New York Times must react very quickly to avoid any parallelism between how the newspaper managed the Blair scandal and how it deals with the Miller affair.
Here are some quotes from Jay Rosen: "Just one man's opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer--in my mind--the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was. Some time in the least year or so I moved the Washington Post into that position...
? The Post, I believe, is our great national newspaper now; the Times is number two, with the Wall Street Journal close behind. Still a strong fleet. With a new ship in the lead perhaps it will sail to unexpected places."
Saudi Arabia: Blogging site blocked
The Saudi Internet Services Unit (ISU) blocked the site blogger.com from October 3, therefore preventing Saudi bloggers from updating their blogs. Blogger.com is a hosting service for blogs. Yesterday, Reporters without borders called on the ISU to explain that step. Reporters without borders said, "Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that censors the Internet the most, but blog services had not until now been affected by the ISU's filters. The complete blocking of blogger.com, which is one of the biggest blog tools on the market, is extremely worrying. Only China had so far used such an extreme measure to censor the Internet." ISU, however, did not give any reason. According to tests by Reporters without borders, names under the blogger.com domain are still accessible, meaning that users can still access the blogs hosted on the site.
Source: Reporters without borders
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Germany: Newspaper starts wiki
The German business daily Handelsblatt started a business wiki as additional service to its readers. WirtschaftsWiki.de is planned to become an online encyclopaedia for business terms where everybody can contribute. Handelsblatt's online newsroom is in charge of the project and will control the quality of entries, making sure that entries do not violate personality rights or copyright or that the wiki is not misused to advertise products or extreme political positions.
In a further step, business terms that are often used in the newspaper will be linked to the corresponding wiki entry. Also ads could appear on the wiki site in a later stage, for the beginning there are none.
Source: pressetext (in German)
Monday, September 26, 2005
Hurricane Rita: Newspaper recruits bloggers to help cover the storm
The Houston Chronicle recruited bloggers to help the paper cover Hurricane Rita, reports CyberJournalist.net. The paper set up the weblog Stormwatchers, where some selected bloggers continue to cover the storm. Bloggers live in various parts of the city and are solely responsible for the content of their blogs, states the introduction to the blog. Dwight Silverman, the paper's interactive journalism editor, said to the Associated Press: "One of the benefits to blogs is that they tend to be more personal, they tend to provide more the emotional feel of an event ... In traditional reporting you put on your poker face and do your writing. ... It's not supposed to be the writer's emotions."
Friday, September 23, 2005
US: the present state and possible future of the newspaper industry put in perspective
Already being branded "Black Tuesday," September 20, 2005 may be looked back on as the day that the newspaper industry realized that all of the pessimistic predictions of their imminent demise were not merely hype. On that day, four major East Coast metro papers (New York Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News) announced that they would need to layoff or buyout a combined total of 180 newsroom staff members (see former posting). The previous week, a West Coast metro (San Francisco Chronicle) began buying out and laying off 120 employees. And over the next few weeks, the forecast doesn't get any better.
Bob Cauthorn at Rebuilding Media predicts that in October, with the publication of the "Publishers Circulation Statement," "metro newspapers across the country will post astonishing year-over-year declines." In an excellent article, Cauthorn first expects circulation of major metro papers to be between 9% and 15% and the average American newspaper circulation dive to be between 3% and 5%. But the core of the piece is two things newspapers are doing wrong that is bringing about their present difficulties: 1. talking about platform shift and 2. focusing on their brand.
1. Cauthorn says platform shift, switching from print to web, is a phrase that newspaper execs use to make themselves feel like they're changing their product. In reality they may be moving their content online but they don't change it. They don't realize that the different platform provides different opportunities that their readers want them to take advantage of. So printing the same content in the paper and online is ultimately self-defeating.
2. In a similar way, companies focusing on their brand are just making up an excuse for not creating anything new. The quality of their product may be suffering, but they're sure that people will continue to buy their product because it has a trusted brand name. But "When it comes to a war between products and brands, products almost always win in the end." Thus, newspapers need to become innovative, molding their product to fit the web and more importantly, the desires of their readers.
Media expert Steve Yelvington echoes Cauthorn's call. Referring to the massive job cuts, he writes, "Every newspaper journalist in America should consider this a wake-up call. You can't continue to put out yesterday's newspaper in today's world. You can't continue to go through the motions of journalism without the heart. You can't pretend that the Internet is somebody else's problem. Change, or die... Create a product that demands to be read."
Staci Kramer at PaidContent rides Viacom CEO Tom Frestonslightly for constantly reverting back to the "multi-platform" excuse; television, film, and digital interaction. In an interview, Freston described his company's new strategy as exactly what has been rejected by the above pundits; "...We have what we call the multi-platform strategy where the brand is at the center. There's not a lot of audience overlap between a lot of these brands. You come into each brand separately and under each brand there will be different types of functionality."
Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine contributes to the argument, refuting Freston's comments and agreeing with Cauthorn, but adding another dimension. Elaborating on a very well received posting he wrote in August about the problem newspapers are causing themselves by trying to control content instead of "enabling (the) sharing" of content among readers, Jarvis says "You don't want to be multiplatform. You want to be unplatform." He asks,
"So what if you help people create and distribute? What if you provide content to remix and some of the tools and know-now to do it? What if you share promotion and, yes, ad revenue? What if you don?t try to own 100 pieces of content but recognize your value in contributing to the success of 10,000 pieces? What?s your real value then? Owning? Or enabling? Restrictions? Or reputation?"
An example that may be the start of the media future these pundits envision is Korea's OhmyNews. Combining, 37,000 citizen journalists to date with a professional staff, the site considers that "Every citizen is a reporter" and that most everything is news. Dr. Oh's project turned a small profit last year and is predicted to fare even better this year, nothing even close to what Wall Street demands, but it's a start. iTalkNews (see previous posting) is a similar American site that combines Associated Press articles with reader contributions. In its short existence, it already claims over a thousand contributors.
In further observations, Cyberjournalist has posted a Nielsen/Net Ratings report that found that in 9 of 10 major local markets, Internet readers stick to their local paper's site with the Washington Post leading the pack being read by 30.1% of the Beltway Internet user population. This shows that locally, "brand" still pulls some weight. But with local CJ sites popping up all over the place, some regional newspapers adopting CJ practices such as the famous Greensboro News & Record example, and the fact that Internet users can access any publication, in fact any Internet page from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their home, "brands" will probably lose their influence.
Ps. With all of the job cuts at metro newspapers, it is likely that news agencies will become even more important and may someday be the only sources relied on for international news. One of the repercussions of layoffs at the Philadelphia Inquirer according to the American Journalism Review is that it had to close its Rome bureau which leaves the number of its international bureaus at 1, 3 less than in the 90s. James J. Cramer at the financial website The Street speculates "...with cost cuts already in place to the point where you might just as well run Associated Press copy throughout if you make more job eliminations... a bleaker situation looks, alas, even more bleak than I thought."
Posted by john burke on September 23, 2005 at 11:52 AM in a. Citizen journalism, c. Multimedia convergence, k. Circulation and newspaper launches, n. Online strategies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Major paper acknowledges that media blogger broke story
The Wall Street Journal has publicly recognized that Rafat Ali at PaidContent.org broke a story that the Journal played off as their scoop. In the wee hours of September 20, PaidContent posted that Viacom was in talks to acquire Internet film distributer iFilm. The following day, the Wall Street Journal printed the same story, not crediting Rafat with the scoop. Only after this was pointed out did WSJ list the correction on their website. Unfortunately, the correction is behind a paywall and can't be viewed by non-subscribers and probably won't be noticed by many people.
Perhaps the most disturbing part about this story is that this is the second time in two months that WSJ has failed to credit PaidContent with breaking a story before Rafat called them on it.