Friday, September 09, 2005
How Wikipedia's rising recognition may affect newspapers
The popular Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, easily holds the distinction of top reference site on the Web with double the traffic of Dictionary.com. In fact, it is so popular that its growth rate, 154% last year according to Reuters, means that it could soon surpass the New York Times and other news sites in terms of page hits. This statistic could have some interesting consequences for the future of newspapers.
The essence of a Wiki is that it is an organic webpage that anyone can edit which results in a 'neutral point of view' article. When "Wikipedians," as contributors are dubbed, post their paragraphs, the information must come from a legitimate source; no original material or personal opinion is allowed. But as recognition of the site grows, Wikipedia is increasingly referenced for breaking news, not just general background information, even more than its own news offshoot, WikiNews. Articles are often posted immediately, as an event unfolds, as opposed to a traditional encyclopedia whose articles are purely retrospect. For instance, in April, Wikipedia had the same percentage of people browsing for info on Pope Benedict as did CNN.com. The difference with Wikipedia is as time passes, more people contribute to an entry that was once breaking news, adding new information and deleting or clarifying that which was disproved, producing well-rounded encyclopedic entries. But much of what is posted is simply a mix of regurgitated content from various newspapers joined together into one article. In this respect, the existence of newspapers nor their journalism are not at all threatened by Wikipedia. It's collaborative wealth of information as well as other online sources could, however, be used by newspapers for the benefit of the reader.
When writing a story, journalists could link to a Wikipedia entry or other reference to provide background information for the reader. Some newspapers such as the Economist, who have detailed explanations of situations in their own database, place links to this info next to their articles to give the reader a foundation for the article they are reading. But few actually link to other sources. Some New York Times columnists have begun linking to other newspapers, but this is more in reference to what other columnists say instead of background.
Adding such background links may be beneficial in holding younger readers attention. Think about a twelve year-old who is asked to do a report on a current events article and finds one concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict published in a major national paper. It may be the student's first encounter with the issue and thus, at first glance, the article will not make much sense to the student. But if their were links to background information integrated in the article, the young reader will not only be able to understand the gist of the story, but also may develop an interest in it and begin to follow it daily in the newspaper. This idea is also relevant for anyone who picks up the paper in the middle of a developing story. Online newspapers of the future may thus act as virtual information super-links aside from their role as purveyors of quality journalism.
Keeping this in mind, the future newsroom may have an additional employee: a 'link editor' (if the position ever takes hold I'll try to come up with a more original job title). The bearer of this responsibility would be charged with reading drafts of articles before they are published, adding any relevant links to names, places, events, etc., in the text. The journalist, as many of you may realize, does not have time to complete such a task. The link editor would work from a database and if ever they crossed an obscure reference, would search for background, link it with the article and place it in the database for future reference. It could work in reverse as well: journalists could consult the link editor for quick background on a story idea. Of course, similar functions have already been technologically automated such as a service that links words to a dictionary site, which is useful for improving ones vocabulary. But such a position in a newsroom could result in more informed, fulfilled and happier readers, indeed the type of reader that returns to read your newspaper the following day.
Posted by john burke on September 9, 2005 at 05:02 PM in a. Citizen journalism, b. Alliances and partnerships, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, p. Newsroom management | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Monday, August 22, 2005
Gulf Press Union launched
Sorry that we missed reporting about this very positive development, but a new regional press union launched May 14. The Gulf Press Union (GPU) includes all Arabic and English newspapers, more than 40 in all, in Yemen and the six Gulf states, reports IJNet. According to Gulfnews.com , GPU "is the result of five years of intensive consultation between the editors-in-chief and managing directors of Gulf newspapers." The union's headquarters are in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. As IJNet states that the GPU is "an independent, professional, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization. It aims to foster cooperation among media organizations, share media-related information, organize journalism training, and help protect press freedom and the rights of journalists." According to Gulfnews.com "the union would also attempt to negotiate collectively with companies, such as newsprint and ink suppliers, to get cheaper prices for its members." Turki Al Sudairi, veteran Saudi journalist and editor-in-chief of Saudi Arabic daily Al Riyadh, was elected first president of the GPU.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Germany: diversity of opinions at stake?
After German publisher Axel Springer announced plans to buy ProSiebenSat1 Media, a big German broadcaster (see previous posting), reactions of newspapers, politicians and media experts have been mixed. Many non-Springer papers fear for the diversity of opinions.
MedienCity reports that many remember what chancellor Gerhard Schröder once said: that to run Germany you need Bild, Bild am Sonntag and TV. With the planned acquisition of Pro7Sat1 Media, Springer would have those three elements. It bodes badly for Schröder that Springer traditionally has sympathies for the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU). The Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes that with Springer and Pro7Sat1 there are two things merging that do not belong together if diversity of opinions should persist. Sueddeutsche Zeitung points to the power of Bild, the tabloid that sells an amazing 3,7 million copies each Monday to Saturday and reaches almost 12m readers. Politicians are already afraid of the tabloid, but when combined with Pro7Sat1, the biggest private broadcaster in Germany, it would only get much worse. No German top politician has yet openly criticized the deal, reports the Economist. It cites Siegfried Weischenberg, journalism professor at the University of Hamburg: "They are all too scared to pick up a fight with Bild." By contrast, Edmund Stoiber, leader of CSU, the CDU's sister party, welcomed the move and said that it will strengthen Germany as media location and will secure and create jobs.
Besides Bild, Springer owns Die Welt (circulation 230.000), Hamburger Abendblatt (270.000), Berliner Morgenpost (149.000) etc. Moreover, Springer owns many magazines. According to Die Zeit, Springer reaches 35m readers with its publications. More than every fifth paper sold in Germany is a Springer paper. Bild is the most cited newspaper which means that other papers pick up what Bild is writing. ProSiebenSat1 Media, the biggest private TV company in Germany includes, besides the two TV channels ProSieben and Sat1, further TV channels: Kabel eins, the information channel N24 and Neun Live. Last year its channels reached on average about 22% of viewers (all numbers according to Die Zeit).
The Deutsche Journalisten-Verband (DJV), the German Journalist Union, warned that the evolving media giant would have an enormous influence on public opinion: "Germany does not need Springer TV, but diversity of opinions". The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes in a comment piece that the merger affects policy, society and economy and is also a new challenge for democracy.
According to Der Spiegel publisher Holtzbrinck is going to protest the merger in front of antitrust authorities. Also public broadcaster ARD thinks that the merger is problematic in terms of diversity of opinions and also for the advertising market as Springer will be the only one to offer advertising packages including print and TV in Germany.
Der Tagesspiegel doubts that market power will lead to opinion power automatically. Of course, the company will have possibilities to offer attractive advertising packages and to reuse content in the different media. But, the Tagesspiegel concludes, Springer will first have to prove that it knows how to make television.
However the deal is currently being inspected by Antitrust authorities. This will take some months as cross-media effects will have to be checked, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Meanwhile Springer's revenues are rising. Today, the publisher revealed that first half net earnings jumped almost 50%, reports Reuters. Mathias D?pfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, said that the company is 'optimally prepared' for the takeover.
Sources: Die Zeit, MedienCity (in German), Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German), DJV (in German), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German), The Economist, Reuters (in German), Der Tagesspiegel (in German), Der Spiegel (in German)
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Japanese and South Korean papers deepening cooperation
On Monday, publisher of the largest English-language newspapers in South Korea and Japan, The Korea Herald and the Japan Times, reached an agreement to exchange background information and stories in several fields. According to Asia Media, "during a meeting at The Japan Times head office, Toshiaki Ogasawara, chairman and publisher of The Japan Times, and his South Korean counterpart, Hong Jung Wook, reaffirmed an existing exchange agreement between the two papers and agreed to include 'prepublication intelligence reports' in their exchange."
The move is remarkable when thinking of the political tensions between the two countries that were still reinforced on the occasion of the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Source: Asia Media
Thursday, August 04, 2005
US: Knight Ridder, Gannett and MediaNews in a series of newspaper transactions
As Knight Ridder, found through Visual Editors, announced on Wednesday Gannett Co., according to Orlando Sentinel the largest US newspaper publisher, the MediaNews Group and Knight Ridder, the second largest publisher, are conducting a series of transactions. Knight Ridder is selling its newspaper interests in Detroit to Gannett and MediaNews Group. The Detroit Newspaper Agency will be reorganized into the Detroit Newspaper Partnership, LP. "Gannet now owns the Detroit Free Press; MediaNews Group has acquired The Detroit News from Gannett. Gannett is now the general partner in the Detroit newspaper partnership and MediaNews the limited partner."
According to Editor & Publisher "as part of the sale, Knight Ridder also will receive The (Boise) Idaho Statesman, and two newspapers in the state of Washington, The (Olympia) Olympian, and The Bellingham Herald from Gannett... In return, Gannett will receive the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat and an undisclosed amount of cash from Knight Ridder."
As stated by Forbes the Detroit News, "which now primarily publishes in the afternoon, will become a morning publication." The Free Press and the News will start to publish separate Saturday editions instead of a combined. The Free Press will publish a Sunday paper. "Two daily newspapers, competing editorially in the city of Detroit. That's the bottom line of today's transactions. Detroit is the winner here, and Gannett is proud we were able to make this happen," said Craig Dubow, CEO and president of Gannett as Forbes reports.
The Detroit News reports today that "for Detroit Free Press employees, it was a day of shock. Its 65-year-old relationship with one giant media company abruptly ended, only to be replaced by another giant media company that was commonly viewed as the enemy until Wednesday afternoon." In an announcement, published on Poynter, Tony Ridder, Knight Ridder CEO, addressed the Free Press staff: "This is a very difficult thing for me to have to say, but we have agreed to sell our interest in the Free Press and our ownership interest in the (Detroit Newspaper) Agency to Gannett. The Free Press has always been one of Knight Ridder's very best newspapers in all sorts of ways... It's very difficult to turn the Free Press over to somebody else."
John K. Hartman, professor of journalism at Central Michigan University, said on Editor & Publisher"This has been coming for a long time. Gannett has never made the profits it expected from the JOA (which went through in 1989) in part because of mismanagement and in part because a lack of chemistry in shared management with Knight Ridder. Gannett would be more likely to buy out Knight Ridder than the reverse because Gannett has more cash and that only a recession or hard times would cause a buyout. Newspapers are having hard times now. Knight Ridder is struggling financially."
Sunday, July 17, 2005
News Corp. forms Internet division, Fox Interactive Media
Maybe the birth of a new giant in the online news/entertainment industry. According to Reuters, "Media conglomerate News Corp. Ltd. said it has formed a new Internet division to create an online hub for its Fox news, sports and entertainment programing. The debut of Fox Interactive Media comes just three months after Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch's impassioned plea to the newspaper industry to explore new distribution technologies or risk losing the news franchise.
Fox Interactive Media will house News Corp.'s existing sports, news and entertainment Web sites. The company also plans to make "strategic investments" to bolster existing properties. Ross Levinsohn, senior vice president of Fox Sports Interactive Media, was named president of the new Los Angeles-based division... News Corp., like much of the media industry, has struggled to find new ways to reach the next generation of news and entertainment consumers, who are more likely to switch on their PCs or cellphones rather than stay glued to the living room television."
Friday, July 15, 2005
"Today’s newspaper becomes tomorrow’s news-integrator" says Columbia professor
It is one of the best five articles I have read this year on the future of the newspaper industry (even if I don't share the main conclusions). Entitled "bad news for news", the article is published by the Financial Times and signed by Eli Noam, a well known professor at Columbia University in New York. Please find below the main excerpts of an article I recommend reading.
"Newspapers have been the central medium for politics, culture, and business since the 17th century, but this may be changing... The information industry is becoming among the most unstable of business sectors. In the past these dynamics led to most American cities having only one newspaper, which could therefore charge fairly high prices for advertising and subscriptions to support their editorial costs. But now, another generation of technology undercuts this stability.
... What then can newspapers do? Like other businesses in trouble, they must focus on their core competency, which usually is local information. Cutting costs by cutting local newsroom budgets is therefore myopic.
Second, they must actively plan for a paperless future... Such transitions are gradual; but they are also inexorable. Managing the transition will not be easy. Online and print newspapers depend on each other symbiotically. Print needs online for the future. Online needs print for the present, to subsidise it financially and intellectually.
Third, they must customise. The traditional newspaper provides averaged-out content to a multiplicity of readers. What it needs to do is to serve the increasingly differentiated readers’ particular mix of interests..."
"... Producing such rich news will be complex and expensive. Realistically, no single news organisation will be able to provide the quality and quantity of information needed through its own economic and editorial resources. To gain such diversity of information then, the news organisation will be forced go far beyond its internally produced content. Publishers will have to rely substantially on other sources: traditional syndicated and wire-service content; specialized magazines, trade journals, newsletters, and books; blogs and other community sources; TV news providers; and many free-lance journalists, investigative reporters, pundits, and editors. In short, they will have to become ?virtual.?
This will lead to two archetypes of news organisations: first, specialist content providers - some of them operating from offshore - and similarly specialist marketing, production, and advertising operators. And second, semi-virtual integrators who bundle, pick and choose their content and service elements from these specialists, validate its quality, add some of their own, and shape the overall character of the product.
... The problem for traditional news organisations is that this type of virtual integrator function can also be done by others.... It is not clear what the competitive advantage of established newspapers is in such a virtual model. They are too big for the specialist shop model, and too expensive or low-tech for the integrator model.
... Are people drifting away from news? Not really. What people are drifting away from is paying for news. And that will be hard to reverse beyond the most powerful or specialised of news brands. It?s happened to music, and now it is beginning to happen to newspapers. Yes, the technology will create many new tiny news media. But the overall result will be more media concentration - a lot fewer but more comprehensive mainstream news organisations as the integrator of most information. First, the paper element of their operations is beginning to vanish. And then, the news part, too, will become unsustainable. Today?s newspaper becomes tomorrow?s news-integrator."
Source: Financial Times
Posted by Bertrand Pecquerie on July 15, 2005 at 01:10 PM in b. Alliances and partnerships, c. Multimedia convergence, i. Future of print, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, r. Revenues and business models, u. 2006 Forum in Moscow | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Media: from the "Age of Scarcity" to the "Age of Abundance"
"Do you have more media options and outlets at your disposal today than you did 5 to 10 years ago?," asks Tech Central Station. There was a day, about the time that AOL and Time Warner joined forces, when it was predicted that the consolidation of media corporations would result in an Orwellian world where information would be surveyed and controlled by one large company. This is all but true today. "With traditional media operators and industries (books, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, CDs, etc.) experiencing rapidly declining audience share thanks to substitution by new forms of digital media (Internet, blogging, mobile devices, DVDs, video games, i-Pods, satellite radio, etc.), we can be sure that the media environment five years from now will look radically different than it does today." Many larger companies, once thought to threaten democracy, are struggling to find new business models and diversify into new media forms in order to stay alive in today's world of "information overload" in which "the question of who owns what or how much they own is irrelevant." Of course, this contradicts the vision of our last posting on the AP which was predicted to be one of the two news organizations left standing. It also opposes the apocalyptic view that many have of Google, which has overwhelmingly been declared a media company (former posting and New York Times article) and that continues to spew out innovations that make one wonder just how far it will push the media market.
Posted by john burke on June 21, 2005 at 03:19 PM in b. Alliances and partnerships, c. Multimedia convergence, h. Young readers / New readers, m. Improving editorial quality, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Blogs not exactly the "Fifth Estate"
Reuters reports that the Pew Internet & American Life Project has shown that political blogs don't pull as much weight as they've been made out to. In comparing 40 blogs with the Mainstream Media and American presidential campaigns, the Pew study found that each medium gave various amounts of coverage to different topics, concluding that blogs act as more of an accompaniment to traditional media. Michael Cornfield, a senior Pew research consultant said, ""Bloggers follow buzz as much as they make it. Our research uncovered a complicated dynamic in which a hot topic of conversation could originate with the blogs or it could originate with the media or it could originate with the campaigns. We can say that if people still have that idea that the bloggers are the new fifth estate, that the bloggers are the new kingmakers, that's not the case." What Mr. Cornfield says seems to be true, as most political bloggers, lacking the resources to report directly, comment on what is diffused through the traditional press. But their influence having already been felt, it appears that blogs are to be a permanent fixture in the media landscape and that the traditional press will have to continue to adapt.
Friday, May 13, 2005
US: Chicago Tribune consults its readers via internet before printing
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Chicago Tribune is involving its readers in its editorial process. Working with Communispace Corp., a company that organizes online panels. The Tribune has shown photos, layouts and headlines to groups of readers before publishing them, the process they used to test two new sections that were unveiled last week. Although most of the content the online panel sees has already been published, the trend of seeking readers’ advice could become widespread practice as newspapers struggle with attracting new readers. But advice doesn’t come cheap. Communispace’s bill for online consumer groups is upwards of USD 300,000. However, as we’ve said before, sacrificing huge profit margins to invest in research and development may be the only way in which the newspaper survives.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Posted by john burke on May 13, 2005 at 06:51 PM in b. Alliances and partnerships, d. Design and infographics , h. Young readers / New readers, m. Improving editorial quality, n. Online strategies, q. Regional and ethnic newspapers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack