November 2010 Archives
November 30, 2010
- Telegraph Plans to Charge for Online Content [£] - The FT reports that The Telegraph is contemplating some sort of paywall, next year, probably. (Can I vague that up a little for you?)
- LinkedIn Launches Share Button - Meanwhile, LinkedIn is making it easy for publishers to make it easy for readers to share links (Follow? Good.)
November 29, 2010
Anyone with even a passing interest in data journalism will be aware of the hacks'n'hackers days that have been going on all over the country. Well, today is RBI's turn to host one, which is being run by the good folks at ScraperWiki.
After a morning briefing, liveblogged by Sarah Booker, the teams have formed and are hard at work scraping data and building projects from it. I'll try to chronicle what happens as the day goes on, but here's some photos of the day in progress:
November 26, 2010
November 25, 2010
My most recent bugbear has been the confusion between “news” and “journalism” in the online debate about the future of our industry. As I see it, news is a subset of journalism, but not the entirety of it. But then, as a former features editor, I would say that, wouldn’t I? :-)
It’s not, by any standards, news. The core facts and events were reported a while back. But it is a great piece of journalism. Compelling reading, telling a great story that’s factual. It’s great, compelling feature writing. (And yes, I did read it on a screen…) Great journalism, in other words.
November 24, 2010
I was reminded this morning that this is, despite all appearances, a great time to be in journalism.
I've been training on a series of blogging workshops for various of our magazines, doping some close analysis of the blogs they have, setting a strategy for improving them, and then reviewing progress a few months on. (Dave Mascord has been doing the heavy lifting in organising them. I just turn up and pontificate.) The follow-up with the Community Care team this morning suggested that at least some of them are really coming to enjoy the freedom to experiment that the medium gives them.
And there's so much exploration to be done. We have new tools, from iPhones to Flip cams, and new methods of delivering journalism, from beat blogging to data journalism. There are new audiences to reach out to, and engage with. There are new audiences to serve, and they may be as active in content production as we are.
The boundaries are breaking. The playing field is not what it was. We don't have all the answers yet. We may not even have most of them. Everybody who comes into journalism has a chance of being one of the people who helps redefine this profession. How can you not be excited by that and call yourself a journalist? This is an inquisitive, status quo-challenging profession. We should enjoy change and the death of received wisdom.
So, sure, business models are being disrupted. And sure, journalist's working methods are having to change. But change is part of life, and I find the current environment a hell of a lot more inspiring that the stultifying, formulaic received wisdom journalism that defined so much of the first 10 years of my working life.
There is, in short, room to play. Why do children play? To learn about themselves and their environment. That's where we all are now. We are children stepping into a whole new publishing environment, a whole new information ecosystem, and we have to learn our role in it. And we learn by playing. Or "experimenting" as we grown-ups like to call it, to pretend that it's something important.
I'm fairly sure I do a post like this every nine months or so. And if you've seen this before, I apologise. But I do think it's worth repeating. I don't want to see the doom-mongers who bemoan the end of the Old Ways defining the conversation about online journalism. I want to keep the excitement alive.
Photo by Margot Conner, used under a Creative Commons license
November 22, 2010
- The Integrated iPad news daily - some good context and analysis around what successful iPad (and tablet) publishing might looks like, and how it might happen...
- What added value will add revenue? - Fascinating piece from Kevin, looking at the relationship between content types and business models.
- Legal Leaflet for Bloggers - an handy resource if things suddenly get scary...
- And here's the challenge for today's educators...
November 15, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 12, 2010
November 10, 2010
Roy Greenslade has been kind enough to link to this blog for the second week running, this time highlighting yesterday's post about Clay Shirky and newspaper competition. He makes a point that, while I think is correct, I also think is tangential to the point I was making:
Newspapers have competed with radio and television for more than half a century. Competed for audiences, competed for advertisers and competed in terms of journalistic content, not to mention entertainment.
Well, yes. That's true. But it only goes so far. In the end, newspapers are also competing with computer games, movies, reading a book, soaking in the bath… Everything is a competition for our time at some point.
I think, however, that Shirky (and, by extension, I) was talking about a much more specific point. When I decide I want to buy a newspaper, it's a pretty binary decision; I'm either going to buy a newspaper, or not. I can't ever recall an occasion when I thought "Hmm. Might buy a newspaper. Or maybe I'll listen to the radio." The competition does not exist in the consumers' mind in that way. Once I've made the decision to buy a newspaper, then I make the decision which newspaper to buy.
The decision point online is very, very different. When I sit down at my laptop, or fiddle with my iPhone, or pass a commute with my iPad, a newspaper website is no different to any other website. I rarely specifically choose to visit a newspaper website, any more than I chose to visit a blog. I'm not sitting there going "I feel like a blog, what blog should I choose?". And I'm certainly not going "I fancy visiting a newspaper, which newspaper shall I visit?". About the only website that I treat as a destination in any way at this point is Facebook - and that's a testament to how well that network has made itself something of a walled garden. In fact, the majority of my visits to both blogs and newspaper websites is triggered by an external event - an interesting post popping up in my news reader or, in a less of an edge case manner, a link shared by a friend or colleague on Twitter, on Facebook or on our internal Yammer network.
The key point I was trying to make was that the decision point that leads to consumption of online newspaper content is radically, completely different to that of consuming print content.
We still see our content as a structured entity, a collection of pages that are ordered in some way, and which people pick and choose their way through. That is, substantially, a myth. It's just not how people use the internet, and it's not how the internet is designed. The power of the link is that, potentially, every page on the internet is adjacent to every other page. It's built into the very underpinnings of the web. The link laughs at our concepts of site structure.
I was chatting to our metrics expert last week, and she, thankfully, was able to back up with raw data what my understanding of the way the internet works is right: people rarely use website "home pages". Our obsession with them is a legacy of our "package" thinking from the print era. Online new and opinion content is atomised, and people consume it page by page, not as an entire package. (Task or data-based products are different, and I think people do see them as a whole entity - that's both why Facebook and our paywalled products work, I think).
So, to expand upon the quote from Shirky that both Greenslade and I were commenting on, it's not so much that newspapers are competing with other websites online, it's that every page online competes for our attention with every other page online. And that's what the industry has to get its head around.
November 9, 2010
Clay Shirky has brought forth another long piece on the economics of the paywall business that's worth a read. I'd just like to highlight a single sentence, though, as I think it's a point that's missed far too often in discussion of the economics of content online:
Newspapers compete with other newspapers, but newspaper websites compete with other websites.
Not with other newspaper websites, but with other websites in general...
November 8, 2010
From his column in The Telegraph, in which he explains why he barely noticed the BBC journalists' strike:
I consume vast quantities of news - but almost entirely without the assistance of the BBC. I get up early and read a fair quantity of newsprint, notably this paper and the FT. But if I then switch on my computer and go to Google news, I can see what everyone is reading across the planet.
I can watch stories break in real time.
Never had him down as a Google News man...
November 4, 2010
November 3, 2010
I started blogging 9 years ago today.
I remember pressing "publish" on that post, being shocked at how little effort it took compared to using our web CMS at work, and thinking "this is going to change everything".
Nine years on, I realise what an understatement that was…
November 2, 2010
A prediction: in a year or two, paywall knowledge and software will have advanced so far that we will look back to this point and marvel that anything as crude as a fixed-price, 100% paywall was even thought of.
Just a photo post, really, marking the rebirth of our internal Elevenses knowledge-sharing sessions, now under the steady hand of Mr Martin Couzins:
A good session this morning, looking again at video. Amazing how much changes so fast in this field...
November 1, 2010
The community gathers around its self-created experts, and with little cost structure to manage, a quality content origination process is activated. It might seem impossible that the value that publishers create will be completely removed, but as we see more and more authors, musicians, and industry experts choose to set up without a 'publisher', the likelihood increases. Even beyond these emergent experts, we have an ocean of what is popularly called user generated content, which is of varying degrees of quality, but on aggregate poses a substantial risk to traditional publishers.Andrew Davies, co-founder of Idio, hits the nail on the head here (and the whole article is worth a read). Yes, people will turn to trusted brands - but those brands will often be people rather than the traditional media brands of the past. And there will be a whole range of trusted sources, from friends, through to industry experts. The question is: can you build a business out of a group of trusted individuals?