Recently in Publishing Category
December 9, 2013
Changes in Google’s search algorithms have twice hammered the young company in recent years, leaving its few brands that managed to get significant marketplace traction, including eHow.com and Livestrong, hemorrhaging traffic.
Now Demand’s focus is on spinning off the only healthy component of its business — domain registration — while trying to motivate its content brands’ rapidly eroding audience to spend money on its growing collection of unproven e-commerce ventures.
Live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm.
November 28, 2013
The PPA's CEO Barry McIlheney thinks that much of the work on the digital transition has been done:
He says he doesn't hear publishers talking as much about the challenges of moving staff to digital as he used to. "I think a lot of the heavy lifting has now happened, and a lot of the realignment of roles and people has taken place. I also think that any 'refuseniks' who simply wouldn't move with the times have now gone."
Difficult to tell if he's delusional or his members are, but that's so far from the experience of many people within publishing businesses that it's quite shocking that someone would say that.
As I've said before, digital isn't a one-off tech shift, like the move to desktop publishing was, it's an on-going process of change and evolution. Being the "digital" of three years ago is completely useless to you now - because you're not thinking about things like mobile or tablets.
Oh, look, I actually say it in the self-same article:
The issue of continuous change is key for Tinworth. "The digital landscape is evolving constantly - How old are iPads? Three years? Look how they have and are continuing to evolve the market."
He thinks it's dangerous to underestimate the scale of the change we're going through. "This isn't just a technology adoption cycle we're passing through - like the arrival of desktop publishing was - but a fundamental shift in how information is created, consumed and remixed. We're still in the early stages of that transition, not the end game."
Thanks to Peter Houston for interviewing me for the piece.
November 24, 2013
The organizations that have the idea for a community, spend weeks selecting a platform, months developing it, and a year before they invite anyone to participate, tend to struggle...a lot. Typically they splutter along for six months before being mercifully cancelled.
I bet anyone who's worked in community development within any sizable publisher is wincing right now.
November 18, 2013
The FT is offering single-use links for its subscribers to share content.
It's almost a Snapchat for news... :)
Interesting move, in that it potentially turns existing subscribers into advocates for the service - and adds value to their subscription, by making content sharable with colleagues. It doesn't do anything to solve the social sharing problem - but that's a separate challenge for them.
The news release went out today, but the surprise was rather blown last week by excited FT staff:
Greenwich Council has finally come clean and admitted its weekly newspaper, Greenwich Time, is signed off by leader Chris Roberts... "to ensure political neutrality and to protect the borough's reputation".
Council-run newspapers and magazines are not journalism, they're propaganda. They will not fill the gap left by failing local publisher business models. This is why the hyperlocal movement -- for all its struggles and false starts -- is so important.
November 13, 2013
Have I written about Andrew Sullivan's attempt to make his long-running blog The Dish a sustainable media enterprise? Ah, only in passing. Time to correct that.
The Dish has been on my reading list for as long as I can remember. Sullivan's work was a huge influence on me in my early days as a blogger (over a decade ago...). But what makes his current campaign to make The Dish pay its own way is that he's not starting where most bloggers do - with just themselves to support. No, he's got a team of writers and interns, and he's aiming to do it without ads or venture capital backing. It's going well:
With your help, and with six weeks to go, we're now at $807K in our first year revenue, closing in on our goal of $900K. Tinypass made that possible; you made it happen. If you are a regular reader of the Dish, all we ask is that you consider if what we provide each day is worth $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. If it is, please subscribe.
I've been a subscriber for over 10 months, and I'm really hoping he hits his target. As he says himself:
As you can see, this model is not just about us. It's about building a future for a whole range of new media on the ashes of the old.
That's really the key point here - is there scope for small online businesses built around blogging sustained by the readers? If the answer is "yes", then we have a very interesting future ahead of us...
November 12, 2013
The news world is going mobile-first, fast:
Forget mobile-first, what about mobile only? More than one in five people in the UK who accessed news publications online in September did so only via mobile devices.
And in some publications it looks even more dramatic:
Many of the top 20 news websites in the UK by visitor numbers have far higher proportion of readers accessing exclusively via mobiles and tablets. Both the Mirror and the Evening Standard had 42 percent of their visitors accessing via mobile only.
I've been working with some publishers who see very distinct and clear patterns of shifting consumption trends - not completely to mobile, but to periods of the day (and the weekend especially) - that's making them rethink their entire content creation workflow.
New devices, new times of day = new opportunities.
• Also worth reading: Benedict Evans's deck on how Mobile is Eating the World
Yes, I know this blog isn't mobile optimised yet. I'm going to tie that in with shifting to WordPress as soon as I can. Hopefully, it'll be a lovely New Year present for my readers...
November 8, 2013
Are we still struggling to get journalists to add links to their stories, to do the most basic elements of digital production, in 2013? Really? What would happen if a journalist consistently turned in half-finished copy for tomorrow's newspaper?
Yes, we are still struggling. And you can't even to begin to consider your newsroom culture digital-first until this sort of half-hearted approach is eliminated.
I keep hearing feedback that certain publishers think they're 80% or more through their digital transition. I'm rather afraid that they're deluding themselves...
November 4, 2013
A just over three year old device (the tablet in its current form) is found in nearly as many households and the daily paper - and as the rest of Alan D. Mutter's piece makes clear, the trajectories of those two numbers are in opposite directions.
If I may be permitted a small spoiler by giving away his closing paragraph:
With aggregate revenues this year likely to remain comfortably north of $20 billion, the newspaper industry remains a substantial business. But it is less than half as substantial as it was a scant seven years ago.
The whole analysis of as to the validity of the claim that newspapers are still a mass media is well worth your time.
October 22, 2013
Interesting analysis of how Kindle Singles, and other short ebooks might be the future:
The greatest aspect of Kindle Singles is, of course, their short length. The first one I read was a Single about media and I remember thinking how a typical business book editor would have asked the author to turn this 30-page gem into a bloated 300-page mess. It happens all the time and it's a function of both physical shelf presence and perceived value. In the ebook world there's suddenly no physical bookshelf an individual title has to have a spine presence on. Now we just need to stop equating "shorter" with "cheaper"...more on that in a moment.
And, indeed there is. I'd actually be prepared to pay as much for a short book as a long one, as long as the density of information was right. Attention is at a premium, and books that respect that are valuable to me.
October 16, 2013
The way Future is launching its consumer magazines these days is pretty smart. They don't just launch a magazine, then try to develop a community around it - they launch the social media presence first:
"It creates a buzz and you also get people who want to contribute to you magazine. Once they realise that it's a brand, writers and photographers and bloggers will make contact. It's not only a consumer community but it's also people who will contribute to the product and advertisers as the Facebook page allows us to create a dialogue with potential commercial partners."
It's a clever, agile and iterative approach to both building a product, and having an audience ready at launch.
October 5, 2013
Eric Holthaus wrote a piece for Quartz, explaining his Damascene conversion in San Fransisco airport, and his decision to quit flying:
So I guess last week’s report hit me harder than I expected. My profession is meteorology, which is all about data, but my heart is drawn to people and how we interact with the planet. Together, we can reverse the damage that we have already caused. We can all do something.
A day later, William MacAskill, an ethicist from Oxford wrote a reply, suggesting that Holthaus wasn't thinking this through:
You say you flew 75,000 miles last year, emitting 33.5 metric tons of CO2—which is a lot for a household. But you said that “a lot of that is travel to Africa and the Caribbean, where I work on projects to reduce the impact of climate change.” How much of a benefit do you think you produce through those projects? If it’s not several hundred times the negative impact of 33.5 tons of CO2, then you’re doing something wrong. But if it is more than that amount, then the cost from you not flying—the detrimental effect that your partial absence has on those projects—is likely to be much greater than the benefits of saving those 33.5 tons.
The response enriched the original article by giving nuance to the key ideas. This is such a richer way of expressing debate and reply that just slapping comments on the end of the article - why don't we see publications do more of this?
(An aside: it's a terrible shame that Quartz don't flag up the reply from the original article page - I only found out about it through the morning newsletter.)