Monday, October 17, 2005
Wall Street Journal Europe and Asia: Partnerships with major newspapers
Today, as the Wall Street Journal's European and Asian edition relaunch in a new design and a compact format, the two editions also start partnerships with major Asian and European newspapers. A new section, called "Across Europe" and "Across Asia" respectively, will feature content from each five major newspapers in the area, reports Media Week. The sections will appear on the European and Asian home page of the Wall Street Journal and are a further attempt to integrate the print and online versions of the paper.
The European section will feature headlines from the French paper Le Figaro, Die Welt from Germany, Milano Finanza from Italy, the Swiss Handelszeitung and The Times from the UK. The Asian section will feature headlines from the Sydney Morning Herald from Australia, the China Daily from China, the South China Morning Post from Hong Kong, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun from Japan and The Nation from Thailand. Every day, there will be one headline from each of the partners displayed in English. Users will be able to click through to the individual sites of the different partners and read the full story. An English version will be provided. Furthermore, the sections will include a country-by-country search function for additional coverage by The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires.
Bill Grueskin, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online, said, "We're very pleased to be partnering with these prestigious publications around the world and to be able to offer their take on some of the key business stories of the day. This will enable us to provide a broader set of stories to our readers and help us build upon our reputation as an aggregator of quality content for businesspeople with a global perspective. Conversely, partner publications get the benefit of having high-value traffic driven to their sites from WSJ.com."
Today's redesign tries to integrate the paper's print and online version (see former posting). Other changes include links in the print edition to the online edition, additional "in-depth" material online etc. Subscribers will also be able to receive news from WSJ.com via BlackBerry or other mobile devices. A small part of the site's free content will be available to bloggers and other users via RSS feeds.
"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
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
UK: Regional newspaper sites taking advantage of broadband age
The news agency Press Association (PA) and Northcliffe Electronic Publishing (NEP), the internet division of publisher Northcliffe Newspaper Group, announced a deal on video news bulletins last week. PA will deliver video new bulletins to 28 local information sites published by the NEP on behalf of Northcliffe's regional titles, reports Journalism.co.uk.
The 28 websites, which include thisisleicestershire.co.uk, Website of the Leicester Mercury, thisisessex.com, website of Essex Chronicle and Gazette, etc., now provide 90-second video bulletins on international and national news, sport and entertainment. The bulletins are updated throughout the day and can be viewed with the Windows Media Player. Through the move, the newspaper sites are taking advantage of the possibilities offered through broadband, to which more and more people have access.
Asha Oberoi, multimedia head at PA, said on Journalism.co.uk, "We are delighted to be working with a regional newspaper group at a time when the impact of broadband internet on newspaper publishers is growing ... Over time we hope to develop the service with more regional content and work with NEP to incorporate locally generated video material into the multimedia products."
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?
Why newspapers could profit from new podcast search
Yesterday, Yahoo launched its podcasts search. The search is "intended to enable people to easily search podcasts through keywords, categories or user-generated topic tags. The beta site also highlights podcasts of note, those that are particularly popular and user recommendations and ratings", reports News.com. Eventually, Yahoo will even offer tools to produce own podcasts later on. Yahoo is not the first to offer such a service. Sites like Odeo.com and Podcast.net already offer podcast searches.
The Wall Street Journal described the podcast phenomenon: "Bruised by earlier failures to embrace new technologies, big media companies are rushing into the two-year-old field of podcasting - audio programs for downloading onto computers or portable music players. The high-stakes goal: grab young listeners, even at the risk of cannibalizing existing audiences or wasting time and money on a technology that may never go mainstream."
Some newspapers have picked up the podcast fad and more could follow (see also this article). Newspapers that have started to offer podcasts could profit from the launch of the Yahoo search. As the Yahoo search is likely to reach many people, newspapers that integrate podcasts in their news could reach new audiences, especially younger ones, through Yahoo.
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
Washingtonpost.com Opinions section vs TimesSelect
A very positive article on the redesigned Opinions section at the washingtonpost.com written by the Online Journalism Review. No reference to Times Select, the new paid-for access to the New York Times Op-ed contributors, but I read that as a sharp criticism of the Times' online strategy.
Here are some excerpts of the OJR article: "By giving more power to readers and editorial personalities, the redesigned Opinions section at the washingtonpost.com will become more functional and interactive, according to Hal Straus, Opinions Editor for Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the subsidiary of the Washington Post Co. that publishes its online content..."The Post newspaper provides an incredibly deep and smart opinion report. The Web-only content supplements that with some different voices and with work that responds to the Internet’s continuous news cycle and is more focused on Internet information sources," Straus said.
Straus said he and his colleagues hope the changes will not only promote discussion about issues and ideas but will also enliven the site and its appeal to viewers.
"There?s an enormous audience for people who want to interpret what?s going on around them and who really enjoy the give and take of debate on political and cultural issues," Straus said. "We think our new design and features make the opinions area a more useful and provocative place for the readers to visit," he added."
Source: Online Journalism Review
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."
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Newspapers' transformation in the new media landscape
"Fusion is only now coming to the newsroom, but the fusion has already taken place in the minds of the readers." Commenting on one of his most recent travails, the conversion of the Wall Street Journal's Asian and European editions to compact format, renowned newspaper designer Mario Garcia insists that newspapers need to integrate their online and print editions to suit the already changed habits of readers in a multimedia world. In this ever evolving world, "Some stories will lend themselves to a photo gallery, others will be told better through audio or video, and reporters will have to be clued into that...They will tell the stories in nine paragraphs for the newspaper and then in a multimedia format online," said Garcia.
Garcia's arguments are supported by The Middletown Media Studies II report as reported in Revolution Magazine. The study conducted by Ball State University Center for Media Design found that people spend nine hours a day with various media and a third of it using more two or more media at the same time. Television was by far the most popular medium but computer use continued to grow making it the second most used medium.
And with traditional media companies such as Viacom, TimeWarner and NewsCorps buying up Internet properties left and right, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, the percentage of computer use is certain to keep soaring over the next few years. The main drive for these companies' acquisitions has been the rocketing online advertising market whose sales grew 33% last year.
But alas, the Internet giants that survived the dotcom bubble burst are leagues ahead of conventional players when it comes to the world's fastest growing medium. Banc of America Securities is quoted in Forbes as declaring that Yahoo! and Google are "poised to be the biggest beneficiaries" of the booming online advertising which, according to The Guardian, is being fueled by search-based advertising which makes up about 40% of total online revenues. This market is also certain to continue blossoming as more advertisers realize the advantages of being able to track the effectiveness of their advertising through 'click' tallies.
This Internet advertising news does not bode well for the printed word. Although Banc of America predicts that "the shift to the Internet will be slow," much of the advertising dollars moving to the Internet are being taken from newspapers, not to mention classified ads. On the other hand, the investment services company sees newspaper online advertising revenue making up 10% of total newspaper advertising within the next two years, a significant increase from its current 3-4%. With this forecast, Mr. Garcia's newspaper 'fusion' model will have the necessary financial backing.
But perhaps the biggest threat to newspapers and other traditional media companies, although it will take some years to determine, is the quest for original content by Internet companies. Yahoo!, which to date has been merely an aggregator of other sources' news, is aggressively developing its own media wing, sending a journalist to create multimedia presentations in war zones and hiring up to 30 writers to produce original financial content. Many in the news industry scoff at this venture under the impression that a non-news player will never be able to compete with the quality journalism they produce.
The fact of the matter, however, is that Yahoo! has hired prominent journalists, those who have worked in print and television for years. As Internet advertising grows, Yahoo! and other Internet players will have even more money to spend on hiring star journalists. If print advertising begins to slump seriously, newspapers will have even less money to spend on their own reporting, already a problem highlighted by several major newspapers' newsroom job cuts last week.
Staff cuts, along with growing newspaper online advertising and threats from purely Internet companies further support Garcia's 'fusion' model. For years people have complained that newspaper websites are simply reproductions of their print editions and that newspapers should have innovated their coverage by taking advantage of the multimedia opportunities the Internet provides. Newspaper online sites were frequented because there was no other option, as noted by media expert Bob Cauthorn.
Now there are options, and more are certain to keep popping up. Although major papers are cutting staff which has been declared by some to be the beginning of the end, they are waking up to (although well past the dawn of) the Internet era in that they have not been cutting online journalists. Furthermore, many papers have begun joining their print and online staffs. This trend needs time to develop so that the two staffs learn how to work together and more newspaper journalists learn how to produce multimedia content for the Internet as Yahoo! has just begun to do.
Another key to the future success of newspapers, according to Garcia, is Internet linking. Instead of stubbornly protecting their brand, newspapers should link to other sources to allow the reader to dig deeper or to get another view. Newspaper readers are not just readers anymore. They want to experience a story on every level of media. Readers will always appreciate a well investigated and comprehensive article but in the new media world, they do not want to stop there. Garcia summed up his vision of this new media world by saying, "There will be survival of every medium, but survival will come by fusing the different mediums and by sending readers from one medium to another."
Newspapers will be with us long into the future, but the manner in which they function and in which they are consumed are bound to transform to fit the new media landscape.
Google to shake up online classified market?
As Internetnews.com reported on Tuesday, analysts said that Google plans to add classified ads to its index. The article cites a report from research firm Classified Intelligence, which says that Google has asked classified advertising sites, including CareerBuilder and Adicio, for a direct feed of listings, that would facilitate the listing of classified ads for the search engine.
Jim Townsed, editorial director at Classified Intelligence, said on Internetnews.com that "making classified ads available through an organic Google search would definitely change the game." He stated that there are two schools of thought, the one thinking that search could provide additional distribution of the ad, the other thinking that such a search possibility will destroy the pricing model employed by online and print classified publishers. "Just as Craigslist had a lot to do with killing the paid real estate listings, the more you give away for free, the harder it is to place a high value on it", he said (see also our previous postingon Craigslist). PaidContent cites John Zappe from Classified Intelligence, "Commercial classifieds sites such as CareerBuilder, Cars.com and others have to weigh the additional audience Google could deliver against the potential loss of revenue. Analysts, including us, predict that advertisers will move to free sites if they become convinced that they will reach an audience as large - or larger - on a search engine than on a paid advertising site."
Townsend suggests "that the online classifieds industry will move from a pay-for-listing model to a pay-for-performance one", whereby search engines could become their friends, writes Internetnews.com.