Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

MediaWatch Archives

Facebook's Fake News Problem: It's A Media Company Run By Engineers

During the recent hearings in Washington representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked if they were media companies-- they replied that they identify as technology companies.

Facebook and Google don't want to be classed as media companies because then they have to pay for the responsibilities of being media companies.

But these are rich companies and they can afford the extra costs of employing editorial staff. It would create a little bit of a level playing field with traditional media companies who have to carry the costs of civil responsibility.

Apart from expensive regulatory issues Facebook faces another problem: it’s a media company run by engineers.

This is why it has trouble dealing with media problems such as fake news. It doesn't have any media professionals that understand the issue and know what to do about it -- and have the seniority to execute. Facebook employs former journalists and editors but they were not hired to deal with fake news.

Engineering fake news...

The Pew Research Center recently surveyed 1,000 technologists about the problem of fake news and 51 percent said nothing can be done while 49 percent said the opposite. Which means these "tech experts" don't really know one way or the other.

Why not ask media professionals? It's a media problem not an engineering problem. After all, you wouldn't ask reporters about Javascript's scalability in web projects.

Facebook is a media company that doesn't know how to be a media company.

But it can learn. And it doesn't have to learn the hard way by making business mistakes that the media industry solved many decades ago.

There's several things that can be done very quickly that would go a long way to curbing fake news at Facebook, Google and elsewhere.

Engineers know how to code but media professionals know how to code the culture and spot the fakes. Media engineers will one day be a hot new profession.

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Please see: Analysis: Facebook's 3,000 editors...Is it still a tech platform?

No good news for media industry in Internet Trends report

Media company or tech platform? The hugely important battle to redefine Facebook

Journalism+Silicon Valley: What Balance Of Power?

Facebook Fake News Problem: It's A Media Company

Facebook (and Google) is finding it harder and harder to avoid being seen as a media company. I’ve called Facebook, Google, Yahoo and many others — high-tech enabled media companies for more than a decade. I’m glad others are seeing that: publishing pages of content with advertising around it is a media company. 

This video interview with Scott Galloway, marketing professor at NYU, underlies this issue of is Facebook a media company? If it were classed as a media company it would create a little bit of a level playing field with traditional media because it would have to hire a lot of humans and its costs would rise dramatically. If Facebook loses its platform status you can bet it will make sure Google does as well.

Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at NYU and author of the new book "The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," discusses Facebook.

He says the company has embraced many aspects of a media company, but seems allergic to many of the associated responsibilities. He worries that the youthful management at Facebook doesn't have the historical context for the importance media plays in our society, citing Russia's manipulation of it during the 2016 presidential election. He doesn't buy the excuse that Facebook can't possibly screen its advertisers, and says they don't want to do it because it would hurt their profitability.

Scott Galloway says Facebook could screen its advertisers if it wanted - Business Insider

Elsevier Adds Fourth California Acquisition:

Elsevier, the European publishing giant has acquired Bepress, a 73 person academic publishing service based in Berkeley, California for an undisclosed amount as it expands its publishing, analytics and metadata services for leading US universities.

Elsevier acquires a business with more than 500 academic institutions as customers and about $20m in annual revenues based on an annual subscription model averaging about $37,000. This compares favorably with the cost of a full-time IT person to run the publishing services using open source software which is the alternative choice.

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The #FakeNews Effect On Commerce And Critical Thinking


The issue of fake news is extremely serious and it requires immediate attention.  Its proliferation will undermine trust in everything. Everything will look fake. Including the truth.

Without reliable and trusted information:

- Consumers and commercial buyers will delay purchases.

- Businesses won’t have good information for investment decisions.

- Shareholders won’t have a clear view into investment risks.

The rich get richer…

The winners will be special self-interest interest groups — a variety of organizations with nefarious agendas. They will do very well in a fake news future and will learn to operate with impunity. Because even if outed — the truth will look fake. And anti-truth technologies will act as a red herring for a lot of censorship of valid content. 

It’s very bad for the economy. Fake news is also bad for your head. 

"The point of modern propaganda... is to exhaust your critical thinking"

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The Rise Of Fake News Amidst The Fall Of News Media


The Fake News epidemic is a direct result of our continued failure to create a stable business model around professional news media. We seem to have forgotten that the news media sector continues to be in turmoil.

Take a look at a few of the headlines above from last year. And in just the first few days of 2017:

- Medium — one of the most popular online publishing sites says it will cut 50 jobs and change to an unspecified business model. Medium was founded by Ev Williams, founder of Blogger, co-founder of Twitter.

It doesn't pay for much of its content yet this digital-first social media savvy media company is struggling. All media companies are in the disruptive path - not just digital.

Ev Williams wrote:

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Media Disruption Accellerates As Paper Ads Plunge

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The disruption in the media industry is far from over as the transformation to a digital business model continues to challenge large newspaper groups according to recent financial reports.

Gannett and The New York Times Company are among companies reporting a steeper than expected drop in print advertising revenue in their latest financial quarter.

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The Future of Media: Can Publishers Become Media Platforms?

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From left: Vivian Schiller, Christina Farr, Charlene Li, Stephanie Losee.

Social media platforms Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple are competing for traditional media publishers to use them as distribution platforms and in some cases are offering 100% of advertising revenues. Certain publications now rely on the majority of their traffic from these media platforms. But is this an equitable partnership?

Vivian Schiller, a veteran news executive at, NPR, Twitter, CNN and now Executive Editor-in-Residence at PR firm Weber Shandwick, introduced these and other questions as moderator at Weber’s second Future of Media panel series.  

The San Francisco event featured five additional women and one man: Christina Farr, reporter for Fast Company; Charlene Li principal analyst at Altimeter Group; Stephanie Losee, head of content at Visa; Jillian D’Onfro reporting for Business Insider; and Karen Wickre, content strategist, and Simon Rogers, a Data Editor at Google. 

Here’s some of my notes from the evening:

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Media Disruption Continues: Native Advertising Won't Save Hundreds Of Jobs At New York TImes

The New York Times Company said it will close its Paris based editing and production offices eliminating or moving up to 70 jobs.

It is just a fraction of hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the second half of this year, reports Claire Atkinson for the New York Post.

"There's a goal of a couple of hundred people," said a source familiar with talks. "They don't want to pay out big packages, and they're having negotiations with the unions." The layoffs would likely occur between the Aug. 21 end of the summer Olympics in Brazil and Election Day on Nov. 8, sources said.

The New York Times management was hoping that "native advertising"-- in which brands such as computer maker Dell publish adverts in the newspaper looking like editorial content -- would help to turn around its fortunes. 

Foremski's Take:

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#IN2Summit: Is Content Marketing Failing Us? 3 Ex-Journalists Say 'No'


From right: Michael Kanellos, (standing) SanDisk; Scott Lowe, Activision; Stephanie Losee, Politico; moderator Henk Campher Allison+ Partners.

The Holmes Report's Innovation Summit in San Francisco featured a panel of former journalists, now engaged on producing a broad range of editorial content for large brands, speaking on the topic of Content Marketing.

The first question was should the average person know anything about Content Marketing? They all nodded vigorously: No, because it is all about great content, and since the goal of Content Marketing is publish editorial content of substantial value then it is no different from the goals of independently produced content.

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Internet Archive Hero Award Goes To Viral Marketing Pioneers Grateful Dead

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John Perry Barlow accepts Internet Archive Hero Award from Brewster Kahle.

The Internet Archive (IA), the San Francisco based non-profit digital media archive, this week announced several new programs in collaboration with major US libraries and a new annual award: Internet Archive Hero.

The programs include partnerships with top libraries and music archive organizations. Music is a key focus for the IA which unveiled a "music locker" approach to enlarging its store of music without triggering copyright suits. It allows music collectors to upload digital copies of their libraries to their music locker stored on the Internet Archive. It will signal if a title has already been digitized and uploaded by another but it will still be available in the music locker. This should increase the size of the music archive by eliminating duplicate work and focusing on titles not yet digitzed.

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Weber Shandwick: Not Much Future In Spirited 'Future Of Media' Discussion

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Weber Shandwick had a great turnout for its Future of Media event moving it to FAME on Broadway, a larger location in the heart of North Beach. And we had a rare all-woman panel after the lone male dropped out.

The moderator said it was a pleasure to be part of an all woman panel especially when the subject has nothing to do with women. 

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The moderator was Vivian Schiller Executive Editor-in-Residence at Weber Shandwick and the former Global Chair of News at Twitter, and a former CEO of NPR, did a good job including everyone in the conversation even if some panelists were way behind the times in their advice. For example: This is not a good time for journalists to strike out on their own, those days have come and long gone! Teams win.]

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Weber Shandwick And The Future Of Journalism

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The San Francisco office of PR firm Weber Shandwick is hosting an interesting panel on October 13 with top journalists and corporate media execs titled: Journalism Disrupted, Journalism Reborn: The Future of Media in a Digital World.

Weber scores marks for a female-dominated panel with four of the five panelists: Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief at CNET News; MC Wellons, SF Bureau Chief for CNBC; Ann Grimes, Professor at Stanford University and a former Wall Street Journal SF Bureau Chief; Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor at LinkedIn; and Joaquin Alvarado, CEO for The Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Weber Shandwick has an active interest in the subject of journalism disrupted as do many PR firms because there’s plenty of new business opportunities. As the number of journalists continues to shrink, PR firms are offering businesses a wide range of editorial media services that includes: creating and publishing online magazines;  writing articles, columns and features; creating video news reports; etc.

Also known as “content marketing” it’s an attempt to try to plug the gaps in media coverage of companies that journalists once provided. It’s become a huge market. 

Weber Shandwick offers its media services through a business division called “Mediaco - We Help Every Company Become A Media Company”. [I worked with Mediaco last year on a client project.]

Foremski’s Take:

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Media Business Models: Paper And Electron? That's Creativ


I recently received this well written pitch from Kaitlyn Garcia at VSC Consulting:

Print is dead. Magazines are dying.

Not so, thinks Creativ.

This magazine did something unique. They launched on mobile first, thanks to a large but relatively under the radar startup known as issuu, a platform that helps content creators build long form content vs. the short-form stuff we’re used to on apps like Flipboard.

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Analysis: The Nikkei Financial Times — Scale Matters

The Financial Times (FT) newspaper business has been sold by Pearson to Nikkei, the Japanese media group for $1.32 billion. The deal values the FT at nearly three-times the market valuation of other publicly traded newspaper groups.

Industry sources report that Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Axel Springer had placed bids but late entrant Nikkei won it 15 minutes before the announcement from front-runner Axel Springer, which had been in negotiations for about a year. 

The FT has about 737,000 mostly digital subscribers. Nikkei is Asia’s largest independent media business group. It publishes newspapers, magazines, books, database services and broadcasting. The Nikkei newspaper, its flagship publication has 3.12m subscribers.

Foremski’s Take: The sale of the Financial Times was expected as Pearson, its owner has been shedding non-educational assets, and also as its core educational business has slid further into trouble.

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Mobile News Site Circa Closes —Media Disruption Continues

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Circa CEO Matt Galligan in 2013 in the San Francisco office

Circa, a news aggregation service for smartphone users has closed, a further casualty in the ongoing disruption in the media industry.

Jason Abbruzzese reports: News app Circa says it cannot survive as a viable business

News app Circa, once a media darling for its mobile-first approach, has announced that it is going on an "indefinite hiatus" after it was unable to find someone to buy the company.

In a Medium post entitled "Farewell to Circa News," CEO Matt Galligan admitted that while they had succeeded in their goals of making a high-quality mobile news platform, Circa had failed to become a viable business.

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Google Apologizes To Euro Publishers And Offers Money And Developer Help


As the European Commission considers punitive measures against the US search giants business practices, Google offers to help eight European publishers develop new digital media products and announced it will fund new media projects from a $165m three-year "Innovation" fund.

Glyn Moody at Ars Technica reports that the offer is an attempt to mend bridges with the European Commission as it considers measures to crack down on Google's business practices.

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Laura Locke Profile On Flipboard...


Laura Locke, a long-time San Francisco based journalist for Time magazine and the BBC, is profiled in an interview by Flipboard as part of its promotion of its recently introduced curated magazine format. 

Here is an extract from: What I’m Reading: BBC News Reporter Laura Locke | Flipboard

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Embargoes And The Rebirth Of Trade Media

Embargo Twitter thread 

In this Guest Post, PR industry veteran Mike Maney makes a strong case for embargoes. I work with embargoes because publishing a press release before its time is not a scoop. If I'm smart enough, I can come up with an original and exclusive angle on an important story, from having time to ask the right questions. 

By Mike Maney

A common complaint among the media is that embargoes are the spawn of Satan. An unnecessary evil foisted upon reporters for the sake of squeezing every last drop of digital ink from a marketer’s jargon-filled pitch.

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Congratulations! Ubergizmo's Eliane Fiolet Awarded French 'Knighthood'

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Eliane Fiolet in a Paris subway train on the superb Traveling Geeks trip that she helped organize in December 2009.

Congratulations to Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of Silicon Valley's Ubergizmo news site for being awarded France's  Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite!

The award recognizes exceptional service in the public sphere. Eliane has worked with many French startups, providing advice and sharing her Silicon Valley connections. She also helped the French Embassy Trade Office with a variety of projects. There will be a presentation ceremony on March 17 in Paris. 

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Every Company Is A Media Company: Can Journalists Redefine Their Careers?


Thursday evening in San Francisco I will be emceeing an event organized by NerdWallet, exploring the topic of journalists, "redefining their careers outside traditional media."

Newsrooms are still shrinking and some publications, such as GigaOm,  have closed recently. This is pushing companies to fill in the gap in media coverage by producing more of their own media content. Every company is a media company because they have to, they don't have much choice. 

NerdWallet has more than 50 journalists creating content to help people with financial decisions. 

Here's the details:

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New Media Disrupted: GigaOm Web Sites Suddenly Stop Publishing


Above, at the recent Crunchies Awards, Om Malik (right) is told by Mike Arrington, founder of news site Techcrunch, that there's far more money in investing in startups than there is in publishing.

The management of GigaOm, the San Francisco-based publisher of tech focused web sites, has abruptly "ceased operations."

GigaOm was founded by Om Malik (above, right). The following notice was posted:

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The 'Blue Dress' And The Incredible Scalability Of Content

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The recent vast viral distribution of "The Dress" story through Buzzfeed, and many other popular news sites, created a media tsunami.

It's an example of Foremski's First Law of New Media at work!

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The Dirty Politics Of Native Ads - Corrupt Media


I'm a fierce opponent of "native ads" because by their very nature they pretend to be something else, and that damages trust, not just in the publication that hosts them but in all trusted media.

So far, native ads have been sold to product companies such as computer maker Dell, publishing articles in the New York Times that resemble the style of the newspaper's stories. With election season starting up, will we see native ads masquerading as independent political reporting?

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Media Disruption: Study Shows $6 Billion Stolen From Media Industry


Leslie Kaufman at the New York Times, reported on a study by the Association of National Advertisers into the problem of fake ad clicks:

Study Puts a Price Tag on Fake Ad Clicks -

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Veteran Media Exec Dan Farber Joins Salesforce In Strategic Comms Role

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Dan Farber is one of the first tech industry journalists and in his thirty year career he has helped create many top publications and he has led many editorial teams. He "retired" from his senior executive position at CBS News in the summer and posted photos of his idyllic life in Sonoma County.

But I never believed he would be gone for long. After all, how can a dyed-in-the-wool newsman stay away when the world is changing so fast, and this small part of the world on his doorstep has so much to do with it?

This week he joined as Senior Vice President Strategic Communications.

He'll be working closely with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who is starting to take on more of a leadership position on local and regional matters, a much needed role given his history of philanthropy and his potential to inspire a tech community that seems a little lost.

I'm looking forward to seeing Dan more often and I congratulate him on this next phase of his career. It also gives me a chance to repost my interview with Dan from January this year:

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Analysis: InPowered's Bold Anti-Clickbait Strategy: Clicks For Free, Pay Only For Engagement


The future looks bright for Peyman Nilforoush, CEO of inPowered.

InPowered this week announced that its news story promotion service for large brands would not charge for clicks but only for engagement by readers.

The company is fighting against a massive flood of click-bait, fraudulent clicks and shadowy promotional tactics with its policy of only charging customers for engagement.

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Mass Editorial Exodus At New Republic As Media Industry Woes Accelerate


Turmoil at the venerable New Republic. Dylan Byers at Politico reports:

Nine of the magazine's twelve senior editors submitted letters of resignation to owner Chris Hughes and chief executive Guy Vidra, as did two executive editors, the digital media editor, the legislative affairs editor, and two arts editors. At least twenty of the magazine's contributing editors also requested that their names be removed from the magazine's masthead.

The mass departure came one day after a shakeup that saw the resignation of top editor Franklin Foer and veteran literary editor Leon Wieseltier, both of whom resigned due to differences of vision with Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. Foer announced his resignation on Thursday after discovering that Hughes had already hired his replacement, Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who formerly ran The Atlantic Wire blog.

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Vectors Of Engagement And The Click-Free Digital Economy


A click is unreliable because its origins can be easily obscured for fraudulent reasons and its use as a metric of engagement is incomplete and deeply flawed.

There's a clue to where things are headed in this post by Josh Constine: Why LiveRail Ditched An IPO To Sell Its Video AdTech To Facebook For ~$500M

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Mobile Media Decimation Prompts Say Media Sale


Say Media, the San Francisco publisher of ReadWrite and many other sites, is looking for buyers for its titles as it pivots into a media technologies vendor.

Matt Sanchez, CEO said it was hard for the company to focus on two businesses: growing its media brands and developing media technologies for media companies such as its Tempest content management system.

 Lucia Moses at Digiday reported:

"When we launched Say, it was really about, how do you provide technology and services for independent media," [Matt Sanchez, CEO] said. "It was this vision of building the modern media company by building, partnering with and buying independent media companies, build the tech beneath it and think holistically about the entire media stack. We just came to the conclusion that it's very difficult to do both."

Platishers, beware: Say Media gives up on publishing - Digiday

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Mediaco And Scalable Technologies Of Brand Publishing


It might not seem surprising to my readers that I'm working on a project with Mediaco, a Weber Shandwick business that advertises, "We Help Every Company Become A Media Company.

Helping companies be great media companies is a noble calling these days, especially with the huge loss of skilled and experienced media professionals. There's hundreds of years of best practices that still apply regardless of paper and electron.

I'm working on an interesting project with Mediaco's West Coast lead Luca Penati and an enthusiastic team of professionals across many disciplines and locations.

This is what's needed in today's digital media worlds — the complexities of managing fragmented media channels and user interfaces across many devices requires integrated tech, media, design, SEO and communications professionals on the same publishing teams.

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Matt Taibbi Is A Rolling Stone - Exits Omidyar's $250m First Look Venture

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Matt Taibbi at a Commonwealth Club event in April 2014.

Former Rolling Stone feature writer Matt Taibbi has pulled out of a new publication funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's $250m First Look Media Group. The unnamed publication was due to be launched in the Fall and Taibbi's departure leaves an editorial team without its chief muckraker.

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NYTimes Cutting 100 Jobs As Apps And Native Ads Fail To Stem Losses

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The New York Times is cutting 100 newsroom jobs to ensure long-term profitability because of disappointing performance of new initiatives such as news apps and native advertising to reverse declining revenues.

Jeremy Bar at Capital New York reported:

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Ribbit: Google's Never Ending European Problems...Can It Change Its Nature?

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Google's run-ins with European regulators have become a never ending marathon with no signs of an end. In the latest development, Robert Thomson, the CEO of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is lobbying the European Commission to hold Google accountable for abusing its dominant position in search (93% share in Europe).

The BBC reported that Thomson's "strongly worded letter" to Joaquin Almunia, Competition Commissioner, calls

...Google a "platform for piracy" whose power "increases with each passing day."

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Intel v Apple: Tech Journalism Or Product Reporting?

Every year the same thing happens, Intel, the world's largest chipmaker announces key chip technologies at its IDF conference but barely any of the media notices because they are at Apple's annual event, which usually just across the street.

Intel's chips run the Internet, the cloud, PCs and Macs, and every data center around the globe. Its chips touch every aspect of our modern world unlike Apple's products.

The chip technologies Intel unveils affect all of us because they will be deeply embedded in our future, in our common blended reality. Apple's products will just touch a fraction of the developed world and none in the developing world.

Yet all the tech journalists were over at Apple and not at Intel on Tuesday morning.

Every September the media fuss over Apple's product announcements to a degree not shared by most of their readers. It's not tech journalism it is product reporting. There is nothing cool about writing a list of specs about a mass consumer product.

I'm looking forward to the return of tech journalism. It will come.

PS: I'm an Apple fanboy since the Apple II.

Is Robert Scoble Still A Blogger?


I've known Robert Scoble for a long time, nearly ten years. Shortly after I left the Financial Times in mid-2004 to become the first newspaper journalist to make a living as a blogger-journalist, we met in a Manhattan bar.

He was working at Microsoft at the time, and I remember we talked about how difficult it was to hide your true feelings when writing blog posts.It's easy to see if the writer is authentic or not — there seems to be a sort of Turing test at work, an authenticity test that can't be faked.

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Wired's Steven Levy Starts Work On 'Tech Hub' For Medium

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Steven Levy (center) introduced tech book publisher Tim O'Reilly at the 2014 Visionary Awards.

I was on a Bulldog Reporter panel this morning with former Wired senior writer Steven Levy and he spoke about his new gig at publishing platform Medium, which was co-founded by Ev Williams from Blogger and Twitter.

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The Risks In Native Advertising Subterfuge: The Loss Of Brand Identity And Trust


A brand's identity is unique.

Native advertising has become the poster child of content marketing as companies try to raise awareness of their brands through promotional content that looks similar to the native content of a media site.

Where is their brand as differentiator? 

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Desperate Moves: NYTimes Reduces Labeling On Native Ads To Appease Brands


The New York Times has chosen the wrong path.

In another demonstration that the management of the New York Times doesn't understand the importance of its readers' trust in editorial content, it has reduced the labeling on paid editorial content.

The move is 180 degrees out of line with the findings of the largest survey of readers' attitudes to native advertising released last week by Edelman, the world's largest privately held PR company. Edelman's survey of 5,000 readers, recommended adding more labeling on native advertising, and it advised publishers to be careful because many readers said it adds no value to their experience.

 Michael Sebastian at Advertising Age, writes

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Media Disruption Continues: 1300 Newsroom Jobs Lost in 2013

RobotPress  1 of 1The pool of working media professionals continues to shrink wth the loss of 1,300 newsroom jobs in 2013, reports the American Society of News Editors.

Rick Edmonds at Poynter, writes:

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Analysis: No 'Magic App' For Journalism As Omidyar's $250m First Look Venture Takes A Second Look

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Former Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi will launch a satirical online magazine for First Look Media.

Pierre Omidyar, the co-founder of eBay, has delayed the roll-out of his $250m First Look Media venture.

In a blog post, Omidyar wrote:

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The Media Industry Is Blind, Dumb And Dumber: Daylight Robbery - Billions Stolen

The media industry, including digital media companies, is breathtakingly silent on the issue of advertising fraud.

What other industry would sit quietly while being robbed in broad daylight on such a massive scale? As huge as $6 billion to an astounding $16 billion a year is being siphoned away from the media industry through fraudulent advertising methods.

Why isn't the media industry screaming mad about this?! Instead it is blind, dumb, and dumber about this issue.

The media industry needs to band together to stop ad fraud today. It should insist that its advertisers, the big brands, sign a pledge not to support ad fraud and only advertise on real media sites.

It's in the advertisers' interests to support a healthy independent media sector staffed by professionals producing quality content on which their ads will perform fabulously. It's a virtuous circle that keeps producing professional quality media.

But what we have instead, is a race to the bottom as quality of media goes down on falling ad revenues and advertising performance plunges. 

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Coffee And Big Data With Ray Wang - Video Series

Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research, has a new video interview series sponsored by Actian, a "Big Data 2.0" company. I watched the latest one, an interview with Vibhor Rastogi from Intel Capital Group. What's the subject? Big data.

Here's the video:

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Forensiq: Tracking The Media Industry's Stolen Billions


An article from Ad Age about a recent campaign from video ad server firm Vindico.

I recently spoke with Forensiq an interesting startup based in New York that has technologies capable of shutting down advertising fraud -- a huge problem for the media industry.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) trade body estimates ad fraud in 2013 to be at least $6 billion to $7 billion but it could be as high as $16 billion in the US. The Wall Street Journal reports that 35% of Internet traffic is bogus.

And no one is prosecuted.

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Yet Another Study Finds Readers Don't Trust Native Ads

I'm a strong opponent of native advertising in key publications such as the New York Times. It's a bad strategy for the publisher and advertiser.

Here is yet another study that shows readers don't trust native ads. Contently commissioned the survey reports Matthew Flamm at AdAge:

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FutureComms14 - Here's the lineup...

I'm looking forward to speaking at FutureComms14 conference in London Wednesday (tomorrow). It's a brand new conference organized by Mynewsdesk, a Norwegian media technologies company that provides companies with a digital newsroom.

The wonderful Deirdre Breakenridge will kickstart the morning. I'm speaking late morning on: What Happens When Every Company is a Media Company? 

And I'll be on a panel discussion in the afternoon (post 3pm coffee break thankfully) on: "What are the technologies of PR?" chaired by the always insightful Neville Hobson.

Here's the lineup:

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Every Company Is A Media Company: What Comes Next? 'Media As A Service'

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I'm setting off to London and Warsaw (above) and will be back in early July.

Next week on June 18 I will be speaking at FutureComms14 in London, a brand new conference organized by Mynewsdesk, a Swedish media technologies startup. 

It was nearly ten years ago that I started talking and writing about how every company is a media company. Maybe that's an obvious statement today but it certainly wasn't then and I had to do a lot of education around this subject. I did a lot of talks, at conferences, at lunchtime brown bag meetups, and at many evening events.

I did them because I believe it's an important idea and that once it is fully understood it will transform every business.  And that's exactly what is happening.

Every Company is a Media Company.     EC=MC -- the transformative business equation of our times.

What's next? It's not questions such as: How does a company become a media company? How do I produce video content? What technologies do I need? Do I need a newsroom? They are easy to answer.

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The Media's 2nd Apocalypse: The Nightmare Rise Of Mobile Tech


The huge challenge facing media companies as readers shift to mobile platforms, is far worse than is generally known. 

Say Media, an online publisher and advertising network based in San Francisco, last year reported that mobile ads generate just one-fifth the revenue of a desktop ad. It's become even worse.

An industry source with access to massive amounts of advertising data tells me mobile ads are a disaster for media companies. He has seen detailed reports from large publishers and ad networks that show advertising on mobile platforms is generating as little as one-tenth the revenue compared with desktop advertising.

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Mobile: The Media Industry's Death Card In Mary Meeker's Internet Deck


Former Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker this week published her annual analysis of Internet trends and market projections. It's useful data especially all the charts and numbers which are often reused in tens of thousands of startup business plans.

The section that interests me the most is in mobile media and mobile advertising because there is a massive revenue chasm for media companies in the rush to mobile.

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Ben Parr's Captivology Book Update

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I ran into Ben Parr, former editor at Mashable, and asked him about his book, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention. He says it's been finished for a while and the author photos have been taken and it'll be for sale in early March, 2015.  Ben's already talking about the parties for the launch.

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Hoopla Digital: Transforming Public Libraries Into Free Digital Media Hubs For Movies And Music

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Hoopla Digital is based in Toledo, Ohio proving that you don't have to be in Silicon Valley to come up with great business ideas. Hoopla has pulled off a stunning achievement, it has managed to negotiate the right for local libraries to lend digital versions of Hollywood movies and music as if they were physical artifacts on their shelves -- and library members can view them on Hoopla's smart phone and tablet apps.

Here's my notes from a recent conversation with Hoopla founder Jeff Jankowski (above, showing off the smart phone and tablet apps):

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Opposition To Native Ads Was Factor In Firing Of New York Times' Top Editor


There is a fascinating account of the firing of Jill Abramson, New York Times' executive editor, reported by Ken Auletta at The New Yorker. She was the first woman in the top job replacing Bill Keller but was sacked after less than three years.

Just before her firing she had made herself very unpopular with the management of the newspaper — publisher  Arthur Sulzberger and CEO Mark Thomson — over her opposition to native advertising, a form of advertising that looks like news stories in the newspaper:


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Centro: Chicago's Ad Tech Giant Aims To Revive Journalism

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I recently met with Shawn Riegsecker, the CEO and founder of Centro, a large ad network and technology company based in Chicago. It's doing extremely well but there's been shockingly little coverage of the company -- even in Chicago. 

Centro has been profitable for more than a decade and has revenues of about $300 million a year, with more than 500 staff. Riegsecker is very driven to help reverse the shrinking fortunes of the media industry, and journalism in particular,  by helping publishers rebuild revenues.

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Matt Taibbi: 'Emotional Language' Is Important In Reporting Outrageous Events

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Clara Jeffrey, Co-Editor, Mother Jones interviews Matt Taibbi.

Matt Taibbi, the former Wall Street beat reporter for Rolling Stone, and now heading a digital magazine for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, spoke at the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum event Thursday in San Francisco.

Taibbi was promoting his book, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” described by Timothy Noah in the New York Times, “as infuriating as it is impossible to put down.” Here are some of my notes from the evening: 

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Omidyar's First Look Media Searches For Strategy

Stephan Buckley at Poynter, reported on a meeting hosted by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of First Look Media, with "about a dozen high-profile editors, journalism educators, industry analysts, and former reporters... to listen to his vision, dissect his emerging strategy and offer advice on both."

The $250 million venture has hired two high profile reporters, Glen Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, each heading their own digital magazine, with more announcements to come.

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Content Marketing Problems Will Lead To A Revived Media Industry

“Every company is a media company,” which is why there is a deluge of content marketing as companies struggle to produce media and build an audience.

A new media publication typically budgets at least two years to develop a solid readership and it will take years more to fully build a trusted relationship. When I interviewed Shelby Bonnie, CEO of CNET’s 10-year old in 2004, he said he likely needed another ten years to fully establish the brand.

How long will it take companies to establish a media brand? 

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The News Is Not Free: 14 Journalists Murdered in 2014

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan police commander opened fire Friday on two Associated Press journalists inside a security forces base in eastern Afghanistan, killing prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Niedringhaus, 48, who had covered conflict zones from the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and was part of a team of AP photographers who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, died instantly of her wounds.

AP photographer killed, reporter wounded 

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Pew: Impact Of Billionaire Funded Journalism Is Tiny

2014 03 28 12 37 26 Billionaire funded journalism has received a lot of media attention over the past year as EBay's Pierre Omidyar, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into newspapers and news sites.

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PR's Next Big Challenge: Tooling Up For The War With Ad Agencies

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Richard Edelman (right) with Steve Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of PR Week, at a Churchill Club event in 2013.

Can PR companies “Show Up Differently” as Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest privately held PR firm, wrote in his New Year’s rally cry for his troops? 

Edelman understands that PR agencies will need to show up differently if they are to win against the advertising agencies. 

My post this week about the lack of automation technologies in PR is directly related to this coming confrontation. There’s a great business opportunity for PR agencies to compete for  lucrative advertising budgets — if they can prove  performance with solid metrics and at scale.

The pitch is easy: “Spending money on PR is more effective than on advertising, especially with the billions of dollars lost to ad fraud. We help you build lasting relationships instead of fleeting ad impressions.” 

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Nielsen Study Finds Very Poor Performance For Branded Content

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Nielsen this week released the results of a multi-month study on consumer brand awareness and buying decisions. The study, commissioned by San Francisco-based InPowered, found that consumers rely on online content five times more than five years ago and that they overwhelmingly seek trusted content written by unbiased, independent authors.

 The results paint a poor picture for the performance of content marketing by brands, and new trends such as native advertising, which seeks to look similar to trusted content. Here are some of the findings:

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Here's How To Put Billions Back Into The Media Industry Overnight

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Suzanne Vranica at the Wall Street Journal reported that between $6 billion and $18 billion is stolen every year in the US  because of ad fraud.  The Secret About Online Ad Traffic: One-Third Is Bogus -

The fraudsters erect sites with phony traffic and collect payments from advertisers through the middlemen who aggregate space across many sites and resell the space for most Web publishers. 

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Remembering IDG's Gentle Media Giant Pat McGovern

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Time’s Harry McCracken has written a wonderful column remembering Patrick McGovern, one of the most successful publishers of the past 50 years, and a huge proponent of tech when it was a far smaller world. He died this week at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto.

I met him in 2009 (above) and was incredibly flattered when he sought me out to talk about how his publishing group IDG was successfully managing its digital transformation. It was just the two of us talking for a couple of hours in his hotel room at the Fairmont. I was very impressed by his intelligence and his gentle manner.  He invited me to visit him and also tour his medical research center.

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SF Creators Salon: Rediscovering The Lessons Of Trust And Independent Media


The recent SF Creators Salon focused on the topic of trust and content marketing and as usual, it was a lively evening hosted at InPowered’s community space in San Francisco.

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Commonwealth Club Events: Matt Taibbi, Jared Diamond, Nicholas Carr, Jeremy Rifkin, Evgeny Morozov And Archduke Of Austria!

I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Taibbi, a scathing critic of Wall Street, at The Commonwealth Club April 10 in San Francisco. He recently left Rolling Stone and joined Pierre Omidyar’s $250m media group First Look, which I persist in calling OMG!

There’s lot’s more great events coming up. These caught my eye:

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The Curious Case Of LonelyGirl15... Trust Issues In Content Marketing


The BBC recently asked permission to use this story as a case study for an upcoming programme, Silicon Valley Watcher's discovery of the identity of LonelyGirl15.

At the end of the summer of 2006 we had the biggest story in the US: Silicon Valley Watcher discovered the true identity of LonelyGirl15 (above) -- an anonymous 15 year-old video blogger called Bree, that had amassed a staggering number of viewers on Youtube over several months -- but no one knew who she was. The media was obsessed with her and questioning is she is real or fake?

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Andreessen's News Media Analysis Ridiculed - Updated

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Above, right, Marc Andreessen shares a joke with Jeff Immelt from GE.

Updated with a post from Frédéric Filloux writing on Monday Note.

Marc Andreessen is famous as an extremely successful investor in Silicon Valley startups and that means he knows a thing or two about a thing or two but probably not the business of news. His recent analysis of the news media business has not impressed those in the news business. 

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Next SF Creators Media Salon Is March 13 @ InPowered In SF


InPowered will be hosting the next SF Curators Salon on March 13 with the main topic: Trust and Native Advertising. 

Here are the details:

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InPowered Launches Free Trusted Content Discovery And Sharing Tools As Lead For Paid Promotion


Co-founders of InPowered and NetShelter: Peyman Nilforoush and Pirouz Nilforoush.

InPowered today launched a free version of its trusted content discovery and promotion services as a way of gaining new customers for its core service: the promotion of trusted stories.

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Early Tech Journalist Dan Farber Leaves CBS/CNET

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I’m republishing my recent profile and tribute to Dan Farber following his announcement a “New morning.

After more than 30 years working for various media companies as a writer, reporter, blogger, editor, designer, spellchecker, talking head, photographer, coach, I am leaving the nest. Today is my last day at CBS/CNET/ZDNet.

It was a great journey, one path always leading to another, working with talented, dedicated people, blazing trails on the front lines of the Internet revolution.

The journey and revolution continues, and I will be looking to help others on the path.

I find it hard to believe Dan will leave journalism — it’s in his blood — you can’t just walk away from it. I know he’s working on a book or two and I bet he gets roped into a few media projects (I’ve got a couple of ideas :).

Plus, he’s not going away. He lives about an hour north of San Francisco so he’s very accessible, and I intend to make an occasional nuisance of myself.

Here is my recent profile from mid-January: CBS/CNET's Dan Farber: One Of The First Tech Journalists

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Native Advertising And Trust - Goal Is To Mislead Readers

Bob Garfield, co-host of On the Media on NPR, wrote a column in The Guardian newspaper critical of native advertising: If native advertising is so harmless, why does it rely on misleading readers?

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Frontline's Disappointing 'Generation Like'


I’m a huge fan of Frontline but there’s not much that’s new in it’s latest report: “Generation Like.” There’s not even a mention of how corporations are gaming the system of “likes” and it portrays the kids as being oblivious to being used by the corporations  – until the last few minutes of the program when they are shown as savvy manipulators of online media.

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I Don't Believe It - Om Malik Exits Journalism For Life As A VC

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Om Malik at the Crunchies in January 2014.

Om Malik, founder of tech news and market research site Gigaom says he is "hanging up my reporter's notebook" and is becoming a partner at True Ventures, the VC firm that has a big stake in Gigaom.

He also announced another $8m round of financing which brings a total of $23m --  a substantial amount of money that other, similar sites haven't managed. 

Foremski's Take:

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Media Disruption: Time Inc. To Announce Hundreds Of Job Cuts

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The disruption of the business of media by Internet media companies continues, as Time Inc. is expected to announce as many as 500 jobs cuts today, reports Kieth Kelly at the New York Post:

Around mid-morning, staffers are expected to start hearing how deep the cuts will be as Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp unveils what is likely the last big downsizing before Time Warner spins off the publishing group as a separate company later this year.
"It's very nerve racking," said one source inside the company that publishes People, Time, Sports Illustrated and In Style.

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OMG! Omidyar's Cartoon About 'First Look Media' Avoids Controversy


EBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar has released a short video about his $250m media venture First Look Media. It doesn't reveal much but I like his plan to create a separate media technology business. I've got a few ideas in that section.

Overall, the video is underwhelming.  Blogging pioneer Dave Winer, tweeted that he was surprised that Omidyar "is building such a cathedral, not a bazaar."

The cartoon format is friendly. I'm looking forward to Glenn Greenwald's depiction, maybe with a touch of Yogi Bear.

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Here's How Paper Trumps Digital In The 'Attention Economy'

Here’s a column by Matthew Buckland, publisher of  tech news site Memeburn - a Silicon Valley Watcher syndication partner. 

By Matthew Buckland

There are few good things to say about printed media these days. It’s wasteful, inefficient, static, expensive to create and distribute. That’s why it’s all going digital.

But apart from a nostalgic affinity (“I like the feel of a newspaper, it’s what I have always done”), there is a huge advantage that print has over its digital rivals that perhaps no one could have foreseen.

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CBS/CNET's Dan Farber: One Of The First Tech Journalists

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Techcrunch Suffers Serious Loss: Eric Eldon


Above, Eric Eldon in Dublin, 2012.

I'm a big fan of Eric Eldon because when Techcrunch was suffering credibility issues from the antics of co-founder Mike Arrington, his appointment as Editor calmed things down. He helped refocus the editorial team on its roots, which is excellent product reporting. 

Product reporting is a subset of tech journalism that interests me very little. I've written many times about my dismay at the demise of tech journalism, which has dissolved into mirthless reports about the size, weight, and pixel-density of mass consumer products. 

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InPowered Founders Interview: Trusted Content Is 4 Times More Effective Than Native Ads


Co-founders of InPowered and NetShelter: Peyman Nilforoush and Pirouz Nilforoush.

Yesterday I argued that the New York Times had committed a grave error in judgement by allowing the publication of native ads on its website. Native ads are OK in some specialist publications but certainly not in a newspaper such as important as The New York Times.

Labeling some content that largely looks and feels like your own, independently produced journalism, is an extraordinarily bad idea.  

I'm shocked that The New York Times, and its advisors,  are so blind to the erosion of trust that will inevitably follow from their readers.

At the very least, native ads do nothing to improve readers trust.  At their worst, readers will tune out trusted content just as they tune out other advertising.  Why would the management of The New York Times agree to anything that doesn't help promote reader trust?

This is especially important in today's widening world of the web where trust in content is vanishing at an astounding rate. Many readers think nearly everything they see is corrupt in some way, by monied interests.

Surely, publishers would want to amplify their trust rating because it is rare. And rarity has value while an abundance of crap has very little. 

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Native Ads Are The Worst Idea In The World - NYTimes Is Clueless


Native advertising is the world’s worst idea and I can’t believe the New York Times management is so gullible and clueless in agreeing to its publication. 

Gullible — because they were talked into giving away their hard won position as the nation’s top newspaper by marketing people looking for short-term gains.

Clueless — because they can’t see the stupidity of their actions and how they’ve shot themselves in the foot, groin, and brains.

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CES: How Did Tech Journalism Turn Into Product Reporting?

This week all the tech sites and newspaper tech sections will be full of stories about mass produced consumer electronics products being exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Some sites will claim scoops because they were the first to publish a list of tech specs for a product. All sites will report the color, the dimensions and the weight of products. How did tech journalism become tedious product reporting?

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The News Is Not Free: First Reporter Killed In 2014


Above, a family holds a photo of one of 70 journalists killed in 2013. Source CPJ

The Press Gazette reported:

Pakistan journalist Shan Odhor has become the first media worker to die in 2014 because of his work, the International federation of Journalists (IFJ) said today.

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It's Here: AllThingsD Team Is Now 'Re/code'

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The Kara Swisher led AllThingsD team have done an excellent job in transitioning to their new site without letting up on their hard driven news focus during the transition. I wish them all the best of luck and good fortune.

Time to switch to Re/code.

Blogging's Massive Failure To Topple Mass Media

Om Malik, publisher of GigaOm, recently posted some thoughts about his 12 years of blogging and he came to the conclusion that blogs today are where he can aggregate all his fractured expressions across the web: Instagram photos, articles, comments, and whimsical musings.

But he writes, “The concept of blogging as we knew it has lost some of its meaning and even a bit of meaningfulness.” It certainly has and Om is being too gentle in his criticism because blogging has fallen very far from the promise it once had, and in attaining real meaningfulness.

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The Information Launches $399/yr Tech News Site - Former Wall Street Journal Reporters

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 Former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin today announced "The Information" a subscription only news site for $399 a year or $39.00 a month. 

In her Letter From the Editor she states the problems afflicting tech news sites very well:

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Headlines Should Tell The Story

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Headlines are no longer headlines, at least not in the classic newspaper sense. The tease and rarely please. Choire Sicha wrote a great piece about trends in headline writing (above): Take A Minute To Watch The New Way We Make Web Headlines Now - The Awl

 A newspaper headline might report "Pope Dead" but under the new rules of headline writing, it would be,

"You'll never believe which religious leader, followed by 1 billion people, has just shuffled off the mortal coil!"

(Hat tip Gabe Rivera.)

Is Business Insider Worth $100m?


It looks like Business Insider, the New York based news site is for sale as co-founder Henry Blodget does an extensive round of media interviews. 

Blodget needs a high valuation so that he can discount the price against that, and please the buyer. It's always good to leave some money on the table, as Twitter did in its IPO, it sweetens the deal.

But how do you value a private media company? It all depends on the story you tell.

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Media Disruption: PandoDaily Changing To 'Pando' With NSFW Merger

Tech news site PandoDaily is merging with NSFW, a magazine based in Las Vegas, in a bid to "double down on investigative reporting."

The financially troubled NSFW was founded by Paul Carr, a former columnist for The Guardian. Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily, wrote: "We aren't just getting Paul. I'm equally thrilled to announce that we're also adding Mark Ames, Brad Jonas, Yasha Levine, and David Sirota as full-time staffers." 

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Remembering JFK: His Amazing Speech On Secrecy And The Responsibilities Of Newspapers

John F. Kennedy was one of the country’s most literate and best educated presidents. He is also the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s some extracts from the incredible speech above:

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Automated Media: The Upworthy Post Generator


This is brilliant and it shows how easy it is to manipulate media to conform with current fashions in content creation. Upworthy.  Created by Mike Lacher. The real Upworthy has raised $4m.

Upworthy Generator - Instantly create Upworthy-style articles

A Scoop for AllThingsD Employer - WSJ Reports Their New Venture May Have 1st Investor

Keach Hagey at the Wall Street Journal, reports that the AllThingsD editorial team may have found its first investor for their unnamed media startup: NBCUniversal.

NBCU May Invest in AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher -

It's interesting that their employer has scooped the AllThingsD team, which are known for their industry scoops.  The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones is the owner of AllThingsD.  It was the WSJ's managing editor Gerry Baker who broke the news in September about the upcoming end-of-year split with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. 

Here's the scoop on the first investor:

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Clues To The Direction Of Pierre Omidyar's $250m News Media Mission

EBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar’s $250m investigative news media venture is shrouded in mystery. There is a nascent team recruited but nothing is known about the direction or philosophy that will guide it. 

Above, there’s a video from 2006 of Omidyar being interviewed by Esther Dyson, at a conference. It’s a good summary to the values and ethics he considers important and that will undoubtably shape the new media venture. 

eBay founder on how companies can improve society (video) - CNET News

Pierre Omidyar's $250m Journalism Venture Adds To Team - Who Will Cover Silicon Valley?

Ebay co-founder Pierre Omidyar's news venture has been adding staff to the as yet unnamed organization, with the latest being New York university journalism professor and news media critic Jay Rosen. [Out of the press box and onto the field » Pressthink]

The Omidyar news venture (ONV) is being led by Glenn Greenwald, the former blogger and Guardian newspaper journalist.

Rosen, who has virtually no experience in news journalism, did not say what his role will be in ONV, which is backed with $250m of the billionaire's personal money, the same amount that Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post newspaper. 

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NYTimes Q3: Falling Print And Digital Ad Revenues Produce 'Strong' Quarter

Media disruption continues as the New York Times reported its 2013 Q3 financial report with nine consecutive quarters of declining advertising revenues in print and digital.

The bright spots were that the decline in advertising was the smallest in three years at 2%, and digital subscribers increased more than in the second quarter of 2013, and were up 28% from last year to a total of 727,000.

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MediaWatch: Billionaires Can't Save Journalism

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Billionaires love buying media businesses and they've been doing it for decades but recent purchases are being viewed as philanthropic rather than vanity projects. 

The recent media venture by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and Jeff Bezos' Washington Post have spurred the decimated ranks of US news organizations as potentially being able to save journalism. [Tech Wealth and Ideas Are Heading Into News -]

Foremski's Take: These billionaire ventures can't save journalism — here's why.

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Deja View: Fourth Time Lucky For Yahoo! Media Venture?

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Marissa Mayer at "Crunchies Awards" February 2013

Marrisa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! announced that David Pogue, the popular freelance gadget columnist for the New York Times is joining Yahoo! Here is his announcement:

A Note from Pogue — Goodbye—and Hello

I’ll be writing columns and blog posts each week, of course, and making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations…

This is a company that’s young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years. … So I’ll be starting there in a few weeks. (I’ll still keep up my NOVA specials on PBS, my “CBS Sunday Morning” stories, my Missing Manual books, and my Scientific American column.)

Foremski's Take: Yahoo! has tried several times to build a media business.

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Wall Street Journal Beefs Up Tech Team As AllThingsD Split Looms

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The Wall Street Journal has added two reporters to its San Francisco based tech team: Doug MacMillan (above) from Bloomberg; and Jeff Elder from The San Francisco Chronicle. Chris Roush reports on a staff memo from Jonathan Krim, global technology editor:

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Circa Relaunches News Rewrite App - Are Rewrites A Business?

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Circa CEO Matt Galligan. 

It's good to see that Circa is still plugging away with its iOS news app, which today is launched as version 2.0 and there's an Android app, too.

Dan Farber at CNET: 

Circa news app brings breaking news to followers

"We want to make news easy to consume, like Cliff Notes," said Matt Galligan, co-founder and CEO of Circa. "We don't summarize. We take stories and break them into core elements -- facts, statistics, videos and images -- and add context to certain points. Rather than a long narrative, we offer a series of points that you can get through in seconds rather than minutes."

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Blogger Attack On Dave Eggers' Future Fantasia Novel

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Dave Eggers is a popular author and one of San Francisco's leading lights in its literary scene through his work with local writers, workshops, and publishing projects.

His new novel "The Circle" is set in a dystopian future. The New York Times published an excerpt: We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better 

Felix Salmon, blogger at Reuters read the excerpt and didn't like it all -- he didn't like it a lot. How Dave Eggers gets Silicon Valley wrong.

While other readers characterized Mr. Eggers' story as a satire on Silicon Valley's dominant ideologies, a hash of Google/Facebook/Singularity, Mr. Salmon saw no elements of satire, all he saw was ignorance.

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Shift To Mobile Is Bad News For Media Sites - Ad Revs Plunge

Ingrid Lunden reports on the latest forecast on global advertising markets from advertising agency ZenithOptimedia.

Global ad spend in 2013 will see steady growth of 3.5% to reach $503 billion by the end of the year...In the U.S... digital in 2013 will account for 21.8% of all ad spend ($109.7 billion), up from 19% the year before.

Meanwhile, mobile remains a solid minority of activity: in the U.S., mobile ads will account for 3.7% of all ad spend ($6.2 billion).

TV advertising is managing to hang on quite well:

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Bezos Won't Save Journalism - Tells Editors 'Focus On Customer'

So much for that momentary spark of optimism that Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos would save journalism by relaunching his Washington Post newspaper, with a fabulous tech-led business model and leading the way for  a resurgent newspaper industry.

In his first TV interview since the Washington Post purchase, Mr. Bezos said that he bought the newspaper as a personal investment and to support an "important institution." Katherine Fung reported on Huffington Post:

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Flipboard Raises $50m At A Valuation Nearly 1/2 of New York Times Co.

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Kara Swisher reports that Flipboard, the online news magazine app, has raised $50m at a $800m valuation, which is almost 50% of the market cap of The New York Times Company at $1.75 billion.

Flipboard produces no content of its own, harvesting all text, photos, and videos from the Internet.

Exclusive: Flipboard Raises $50 Million More on $800 Million Valuation - Kara Swisher - Media - AllThingsD

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[Updated] Prediction: AllThingsD Name Will Be Retired - Deal Almost Done

[Updated from Kara Swisher with traffic numbers and compensation. Also: She reports that a deal is almost done.]

I'm a big fan of the AllThingsD editorial team because of its old school insistence on quality reporting and its ethics  so I'm looking forward to the new venture as Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, and team strike out from News Corp./Dow Jones with a new media partner and investors in early 2014.

Here's my reading of the tea leaves from the official statements from Dow Jones and from AllThingsD:

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Wolff's Much Ado About Kara Swisher

I've known Kara Swisher for many years, back when I was at the Financial Times and she was "Boomtown" columnist at the Wall Street Journal. She's a tenacious and persistent journalist and those are also key characteristics of her success at building AllThingsD into a solid news platform.

She's also done a great job in hiring reporters with similar qualities of tenacity and persistence and it has given AllThingsD a good reputation for accuracy and quality.

So it's strange to read Michael Wolff in USA Today describing Kara Swisher as a "feared player" and that Rupert Murdoch once called her "crazy scary."Wolff: Tech journalist Kara Swisher is a feared player

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Analysis: AllThingsD At Crossroads - Founding Team Wants Buyout From Dow Jones

JP Mangalindan and Dan Primack at Fortune have produced an excellent article on tech gadget and news site AllThingsD and the discussions between owner Dow Jones and the founding team of Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

Here are the main points: AllThingsD nears split with Dow Jones - Fortune

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MediaWatch: Justin Smith - Bloomberg's New Media Warrior CEO?

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Brian Morrissey at Digiday, profiles Justin Smith, the new CEO at Bloomberg Media Group. He says that his track record at the Economist, The Week, and at The Atlantic, will likely result in an embrace "of new media models in the service of supporting quality content."

He picked out some quotes from an introductory email Mr. Smith sent to staff:

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The News Is Not Free… 33 Journalists Killed This Year


In the tech industry there is little understanding of news and how it becomes news: software engineers see a mass of free news for the taking and for building highly-valued news aggregation businesses such as Flipboard.

The price of all this free news?

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Interview With Slashdot Founder Rob Malda At Washington Post Labs


Jeff Bezos isn't buying WaPo Labs, an incubator established by the Washington Post, which has developed a handful of digital news products such as Trove, Social Reader, and Poll Watch app. It's run by Vijay Ravindran, a former Amazon software engineer. 

It also employs Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, the founder of Slashdot, a popular news site similar to Reddit, Digg, and Hacker News. I liked this interview by Timothy B. Lee at the Washington Post: 

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Some Points About The Bezos Washington Post And Saving Journalism...


Photo credit: Marc Goldstein.

 This morning I took part in NPR's "To the Point" an hour-long current affairs program hosted by Warren Olney, award winning veteran journalist, on the topic of the Jeff Bezos Washington Post (produced by Anna ScottChristian BordalSonya Geis). They liked my analysis: "Uncomfortable Facts About The Bezos Washington Post."

Also, on the show: John F. Harris, Editor-in-Chief of Politico and a former Washington Post editor; and Nick Wingfield from the New York Times.

Here's my notes:

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Here's Why Bezos Had To Use His Own Money For Washington Post Buy

Jeff Bezos had to use his own money for buying the Washington Post. The newspaper group, with its $54m in 2012 losses, and large pension liabilities, has losses of $49m in the first half of this year:

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Good Luck With That - Pew Research Graphs Bezos' Stunning Challenge

Many people are hoping that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, will be able to find a business model that saves the newspaper industry. I wish him the best of luck. Pew Research put together a great post charting the decline of the newspaper, which will most certainly be mirrored in the challenges of a democratic society.

I remind people that, "Special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want you to read, but you don't want to pay for the independent media you should be reading."

Take a look at some of this data put together by Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, and Emily Guskin from the Pew Research Center: What's Behind The Washington Post Sale | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

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Google Will Unveil News Projects

This looks interesting (via Peter Mullen):

August 7 at Google HQ, the Center for Investigative Reporting: Techraking III conference. There will be presentations by eight Google Fellows who will announce projects they have been working on, related to news.

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Uncomfortable Facts About The Bezos Washington Post

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There's an astounding lack of critical analysis of Jeff Bezos' planned $250m purchase of the Washington Post newspaper.

It is not a viable business, it loses $50m a year and has large pension liabilities. Its purchase only makes sense as a vehicle of influence, and not as a rescue of the newspaper industry.

Let me state some facts:

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Jeff "Gordon Gekko" Bezos - $250m For Washington Post's $604m Overfunded Pension Plan?


Gordon Gekko acquired an older company with an over-funded pension plan.

In the movie "Wall Street" fictional financier Gordon Gekko, orchestrates a deal to acquire a company with a large overfunded pension plan, which he then pockets.

Jeff Bezos is paying $250m for The Washington Post which has a huge, overfunded pension plan.

Tom Gera at the Wall Street Journal reports: 

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Analysis: An Incredible Coup - Bezos Owns The Newspaper of The Capital Of The World's Most Powerful Nation

Foremski's Take: In his letter to employees from their new boss, Jeff Bezos, the founder of e-commerce giant Amazon, promises to keep the paper focused on what the reader wants and to follow important stories no matter the cost.

The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners….Journalism plays a critical role in a free society, and The Washington Post -- as the hometown paper of the capital city of the United States -- is especially important.

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The Incredible Lessons From Fashion's Free Culture

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In this TED Education video, media maven Johanna Blakeley looks at the effects of intellectual protection on various industries and shows how less protection encourages creativity, innovation, and dollars.

The chart (above) clipped from her TED talk (below) shows the relative size of low-IP industries on the left (food, automobiles, fashion) versus high-IP industries on the right (films, books, music.)

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FridayWatch - Codefellas: Insight From Inside Spook Central


Codefellas EP1: When Topple met Winters 

Great animated series from Wired. Chapter 1 is above, the rest are below:

"Takes you inside the secretive world of a slightly askew NSA, with the eccentric Agent Topple, played by John Hodgman, and his young hacker protégé, Nicole Winters."

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Media Disruption Continues: New York Times Reports 2 Years Of Declining Print And Digital Ad Revenues

The New York Times Company [$NYT] reported second quarter 2013 earnings 48% below last year's quarter due to severance and other "special" items but digital paid subscriptions rose 40%.

The full results are here:

Despite rising numbers of readers and paid subscriptions, the company continues to struggle as advertising revenues continued to fall yet again-- 6% in this quarter. This is the eighth sequential quarter of declining print and digital advertising revenues.

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Could Bill Gates Save Microsoft?

I watched Charlie Rose interviewing Bill Gates, on "60 Minutes" on Sunday, about his charity work, his war on diseases, his nuclear reactor, and his low cost toilet.

It seemed that Charlie Rose forgot to ask Bill Gates an important question:

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Analysis: The Empire Strikes Back – Giant $35bn Omnicom, Publicis Merger Aims Squarely At Google, Facebook...

Foremski's Take: Yesterday's announcement of the Omnicom and Publicis $35bn merger to create the world's largest advertising company, is all about gaining the upper hand in the disruption of their business by Google, and other Silicon Valley media companies.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, will have to work with a smaller number of very large agencies who are increasingly united on what works for them. The shift in the scale of the advertising agencies is a huge shift in the balance of power.

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OMG! Omnicom And Publicis To Merge Into Global Ad Giant POG – Bad News For $GOOG And $FB

This is a huge deal, not only in size: $35 billion, but also in its impact on global markets; it topples Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP; and it's bad news for Silicon Valley companies such as Google [$GOOG] and Facebook [$FB]. 

Bloomberg reporters Kristen Schweizer and Marie Mawa: Publicis to Merge With Omnicom to Create Advertising Leader

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MG Siegler Tells Tech News Sites: 'Don't Write Something Because You Can'

MG Siegler, a former reporter with Techcrunch and now a partner at Google Ventures, is unhappy about the quality of tech news. He says that most of it – 75% is inaccurate and only 5% is right. And no one is held accountable (except in rare cases such as PandoDaily.)

He offers some advice in his post: The 75 — 20 — 5 Rule — Tech Blogging

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Are Tech Blogs Exempt From Journalism?!

Kevin Roose, writing in New York Magazine, defends "tech blogs" Techcrunch and PandoDaily from critics saying they should be considered "trade publications" instead of impartial publications.

Let Tech Blogs Celebrate Start-Ups -- Daily Intelligencer

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Pew Survey Sizes Up Condé Naste's Unspammable Reddit: A Newspaper Model From The Future?

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Pew Research reports that six per cent of all online adults use Reddit: 15% of males aged 18-29; 8% of males aged 30 to 49; and 5% of women aged 18 to 49.

This extraordinary audience is mostly urban and suburban, strongly millennial, and strongly anti-commercial – bad news for the legions of marketeers that always flock to the latest fast growing social media sites, such as Pintrest and Tumblr.

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Media Disruption Continues: Massive Drop In Ads For News Magazines Says Pew Research

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Media industry disruption continues. Pew Research reports a huge drop in ad pages in news magazines in the first half of this year. 

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Is it Data Journalism Or Fancy Infographics? Progress Isn't Fast Enough

Art market2

On Monday Note, Frederic Filloux,  French media watcher has a nice roundup of examples of "data journalism" and his headline says it is "improving – fast."

Here is an award-winning example (graphic is above):

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Skimlinks Says Affiliate Payouts Short-Change Publishers

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I recently met with Alicia Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks, a service that helps publishers monetize their sites by sharing affiliate partner revenues if readers buy products or services.

Skimlinks automatically adds a link to key words on a web page, if a reader clicks on that link and buys the product or service, Skimlinks gets paid a commission and splits the money with the publisher. 

However, Skimlinks has found that publishers are not getting the credit they deserve in the sales process. Buyers will often check out price comparison and other sites following their initial exposure to a product in an article. Those latter sites will overwrite the affiliate tracking cookies of the first site and claim the entire affiliate commission. Yet without the original article the sale would not have occurred.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

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WPP's Sir Martin Slams Google, Facebook As Faux Tech Companies


Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of marketing giant WPP, slammed Google, Facebook, AOL, and Yahoo over their refusal to be take editorial responsibility for their content they publish.

In a video interview with Mark Sweney at The Guardian newspaper, (1.08 minutes) he says that by calling themselves "tech companies," rather than media companies, they are hiding.

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Celebrating San Francisco's Internet (And TV) Archive

San Francisco has a fabulous global resource: The Internet Archives - founded by Brewster Kahle in 2001. It's housed in a former Christian Science church (above)  just a few blocks from Golden Gate park. About 500,000 people use it every day. 

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How Google Killed Online Advertsing For Everyone (Else)


Image by Chris Dichtel.

The more I think about Google's recent introduction of paid channels on Youtube the more significant this event becomes in my mind.

[YouTube launches paid channels starting at $0.99 per month]

The reason is that it is an admission of the failure of its online ads. It's an admission that revenue splits with video producers can't cover their costs of production -- even for shows that have tens of millions of regular viewers.

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How Many Fake Journalists Does Reuters Employ?

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Jim Romenesko knows of two fake journalists at a Thomson Reuters publication, how many more are there elsewhere? 

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Wired Magazine Celebrates 20th! (Rescued By Chris Anderson And Team...)


Adweek has a great article by Ted Greenwald on how Wired Magazine got its start. It has lots of interviews with the founders, including my good friend Fred Davis, a veteran senior publisher and editor at Ziff-Davis.

Here are a few excerpts from: Ted Greenwald Reconstructs the Invention of Wired Magazine a Pioneering Publication | Adweek

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Rupert Murdoch Compared With Saint Augustine In Interview On WSJ


It's strange to see the Wall Street Journal running an interview with Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, its owner.

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NobleProfit.Org Launches, Seeks Major Sponsors

AmyNobleProfit 104 had a formal launch event earlier this week. Founded by Amy Seidman (above) it aims to promote companies that are taking an ethical and sustainable approaches to making money.

At its core are videos of execs at large companies explaining what they are doing and trying to achieve. SVW has been publishing some of these interviews on Fridays, our guest post day.

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Hyperlink-free SABEW Announces Winners Of 'Best In Business' Reporting

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) announced this year's winners in its 18th annual Best in Business competition, which "honors excellence in business journalism across all news platforms."

Awards will be presented Friday, April 5, at the Marvin Conference Center at George Washington University. SABEW's 50th annual conference and gala runs April 4-6 and features Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen, AOL chairman Tim Armstrong, former Office of Management and Budget chief David Stockman, and business TV personality Jim Cramer.

More than 200 working journalists and academics served as judges, sifting through the record 1,120 entries from 195 news outlets across 68 categories.

Here's the list of 134 winners.

But there's not a single hyperlink to any of the winning entries. 

It's a sad example that mirrors the sad state of the US newspaper industry that there is no recognition by SABEW of the connected digital world we live in. The web is a publishing technology yet it is being largely ignored by this august body.

Surely, hyperlinks improve reporting of all types, including business reporting? 

The hyperlink is the single most defining element of the world wide web. It's precisely why it's called "the web." 

SABEW and the term "hyperlink" originated in the same year: 1964. Maybe by its 50th anniversary in 2014 SABEW will recognize its importance. 

SFMusicTech Summit: Musicians And Geeks Searching For New Business Models


This video (at top), provides a recap of the day's events, panels, and discussions. Also, check out Josh Constine at the 19.56 mark..

The SFMusicTech Summit earlier this week drew a great turnout at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. 

There were a lot of artists mixing with a lot of geeks from a wide variety of startups, all trying to figure out the new business models for music in an age where few people pay (much) for music because of its ubiquity in free online sources such as Youtube, Grooveshark, or monthly subscription services such as Spotify and Rdio.

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From Silicon Valley To Media Valley - A Giant Gutenberg Machine Of Programmable Media

Watch Silicon Valley on PBS. See more from American Experience.

The superb American Experience documentary series on PBS finally cast its focus on Silicon Valley yesterday evening in an 82 minute program largely focused on the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel.

The heroes of the story are eight scientists, in mechanical, electrical, metallurgical, and optical engineering, and a chemist.

It's a story that takes place more than half-a-century ago, when the "traitorous eight" left  their employer Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory en masse because their boss, William Shockley, had become grossly egotistical and a horror to work with. He sounded like an early version of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder.

It was shocking to leave an employer, which is why they were called traitors. In those days loyalty was expected, as were the lifelong careers that companies provided. And it's this "traitorous" culture that continues to grow Silicon Valley, as people continually leave to create new startups.

American Experience also showed the close connection to the US Department of Defense and how military spending was the prime source of money for new ventures for a very long time.

Foremski's Take:

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MediaWatch: Digital Disruption Continues At Financial Times - Where's The Funding Model For Serious Journalism?


Newspapers face uncertain paths to a brighter future.

The Financial Times said it would try to eliminate 35 editorial jobs through voluntary means and add 10 jobs as part of its focus on "digital" and a move away from news to "a networked business."

Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times, announced the changes in an email to staff. He wrote that a trip to Silicon Valley in September had "confirmed the speed of change."

The FT plans to shift resources from the production of the print editions to its online news and services. This will be done by eliminating late editions and greater standardization between newspaper editions for the UK, US, and world.

The job cuts appear to be focused on restructuring production desks but it will depend on who accepts the voluntary redundancies. The FT has about 600 editorial jobs.

...we must stick to the tested practices of good journalism: deep and original reporting based on multiple sources and a sharp eye for the scoop. But we must also recognise that the internet offers new avenues and platforms for the richer delivery and sharing of information.

We are moving from a news business to a networked business.

Mr Barber did not explain what type of "networked business" the FT is planning to build. He stressed the importance of "serving a digital platform first" but also that print "is still a vital source of advertising revenues."

Foremski's Take:

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UK's Hugely Popular Mail Online In Push For US Markets

The British version of GQ magazine has named Martin Clarke, editor of Mail Online as one of the 100 most influential men in the UK. Although he isn't that well known in the US this will undoubtably change this year as he starts a new venture in the US aimed at expanding US revenues.

The Mail Online, the digital arm of the Daily Mail newspaper, is already one of the largest web sites in the world with more than 112 monthly unique visitors and 7 million daily visitors. In the US it is the third largest online newspaper behind and, with 19.4 million monthly unique visitors, and more than 2 million daily visitors. It's ahead of, E!Online and, and is growing at 5% per month.

This year Mr Clarke will be splitting his duties between the UK and the US to expand the site's US business. Most of the content is celebrity based with plenty of images of the scantily clad.

2013 Prediction: The Unstoppable Rise Of Corporate Media ... And The Deflationary Spiral Of All Media Content

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When it comes to making industry predictions I always resolve not to make any, but as you can see, I have trouble keeping my new year's resolutions.

Two year's ago I made the same resolution and failed when I wrote: 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

The media is dead, long live the media. We now have more media, in more formats, in more times of the day and night, from more people -- than at any other time in history. And we will get even more in 2010.

When I talk about media, I mean anything and all things that are published: news stories, magazine articles, TV, radio, video, music, advertising, photos, web pages, and of course social media. All of it, all the media that's fit to print and all that isn't. 

The low cost of the tools to make media content is a big driver, more important however, are the media hungry platforms that make it easy to publish anything and distribute it widely. One-click uploading to Youtube, or Facebook, or wherever, it's all very easy to create and publish media. A tsunami of media.

Tsunamis come in waves...

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Public Relations In The Era Of Pageview Journalism

Ryan Holiday, writing for the New York Observer, has discovered something very important about the media industry today:

The widespread belief is that the media has "reach." Trust me, they don't. Not anymore. It's become almost pathetic.

It hit me the other day when I snagged a profile for a client on a well-known website...

Dear God, I realized, my client has more readers than they do. The website needed us to attract an audience for them. They wanted the subject of the piece to send his readers over to them rather than the other way around.

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Committee To Protect Journalists And Theil Foundation Celebrates Muckraking Journalists

I popped into Harry Denton's Starlight room on top of the Sir Francis Drake for an event organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists and The Thiel Foundation honoring leading African journalists risking their lives for free speech.

These included:

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Publishers Herding After 'Crazy' Techmeme Model


Jason Del Rey at Ad Age reports on Business Insider's "crazy new strategy" that it will start publishing content from advertisers (isn't that an ad?).

Here's Business Insider's Crazy New Strategy to Boost Ad Revenue | Digital - Advertising Age

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The Old Media Is Dying - Jobs In Digital Media Jump

Ad Age reports:

Internet media this year became the media industry's second-largest employment sector, according to Ad Age DataCenter's analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

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The Future Of Tech Journalism In A Post-Technology World

Tech journalists swarmed into Yerba Buena in San Francisco earlier this week to cover the much anticipated Apple iPhone 5 launch. Some news organizations sent multiple reporters, Fortune sent five.

That's quite an over kill to cover the launch of a product that turned into an iYawn. The iPhone 5.0 is about 20% thinner and lighter than the previous model, with a slightly larger display.

This small improvement in a mass produced consumer product resulted in a flood of news coverage. Yet just yards from where the legions of the tech press were packed into a dark theater for a very long Apple product pitch, Intel, the world's largest chip company, was holding its Intel Developer Conference (IDF) where it was releasing details of its next generation Haswell microprocessor, and discussing where it sees the future of computing.

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'Access Journalism' - An Insidious Corruption of Silicon Valley Reporters

David Weidner, a 15 year veteran reporter on the Wall Street beat, recently wrote an interesting article about his observations:

So long, suckers -- I'm leaving Wall Street - MarketWatch

He notes that much has changed and a lot hasn't in his 15 years. Presumably to mark each of his years covering the financial services sector he came up with 15 "takeaways."

The one that caught my eye was number 3:

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Media Under Seige: Billionaire Gina Rinehart Changes Strategy On Fairfax Media


BBC News reports that mining mogul Gina Rinehart, one of the world's richest people, has reduced her stake in troubled Fairfax Media, Australia's second largest media group.

Ms Rinehart, whose wealth is estimated at more than $29 billion, has been trying to win control of three board seats at Fairfax, and wants control over the hiring and firing of editors. Her goal is to oppose the Australian government from pursuing mining and carbon tax plans that could protect the environment at the expense of her iron-ore mining business.

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Lessons From Cisco's 'the network' - The Corporation As A Media Company

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Earlier this week I popped into the Grand Hyatt on Union Square (above) for Cisco's celebration of the first anniversary of publishing "the network" an online publication that employs a large group of top editors and journalists.

Autumn Truong (below), Senior Social Media Strategist at Cisco, first told me about the imminent launch of the media venture back in September 2010. But it took an additional nine months before it was ready.

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Because Disruptive Technologies Disrupt -- New Layoffs In Media Industry... And More To Come


Fairfax, the second largest Australian newspaper publisher, said it would cut 1900 jobs, almost 20% of its staff. I was asked for comment by the Australian Broadcast Corporation, which was concerned about the effect on independent news from the loss of hundreds of top journalists.


I said that it will have a very bad effect because well-financed special interest groups will have a field day promoting their agendas. There's very little that can be done to stem the loss of journalists because we don't yet have a business solution to this problem, which is the direct result of a disruptive technology at work, one that continues to devastate the US media industry. Last week, Advance Publications announced 600 job cuts at newspapers in New Orleans and Birmingham, Alabama.

And there will be even more job losses to come.

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Demand Media Escapes The 'Farm' Focuses On Expert Content

(Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Demand Media.)

Demand Media, the media publisher and Internet registrar company, is on a roll: its revenues are up and so are pageviews. And it's no longer called a "content farm" the derogatory term that's applied to companies with a "content-lite" strategy designed to sell low quality advertising.

I spoke with Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Demand Media's content business. Here are some notes from our conversation.

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The Rise And Shine Of The 17 Hour-a-Day Journalist


... And Why Outsiders Are Essential To Disruption

Henry Blodget, the founder and chief editor of Business Insider, an online news company based in New York City, is notorious for his role in Wall Street's dotcom saga, and he is becoming equally notorious for his shakeup of news reporting and traditional roles in journalism.

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Cisco's NDS: The Future Of TV Is TV - All Wall And All You...


NDS, the TV technology firm Cisco recently bought for $5 billion, was in town for a couple of days this week, ensconced in the W hotel and showing off its vision of TV's future, which essentially means that this could be a preview of "Cisco TV."

NDS.jpgIt was good to catch up with fellow Brits Nigel Smith, chief marketing officer and Nick Thexton, chief technology officer at NDS. It's their job to figure out how people will be using their TVs so that NDS can provide the technologies that cable TV companies will need to service future subscribers.

Here's my take and my notes from the demo:

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Media Love Affair With Apps Is Over

Jason Pontin, editor of Technology Review has a long history in publishing, he was editor-in-chief of Red Herring during the dotcom boom-to-bomb days. He's written a great article about why publishers jumped onto the app trend and how some painful lessons have brought many back to the web and open technologies.

It's a long piece but worth it.

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Offline Tales: Horn Group, Techcrunch, And The Future Of Money

(Offline Tales - a new (ir)regular Friday column.)

Wednesday I was in North Beach heading for the Bubble Lounge and Media Bistro sponsored by the Horn Group.

It was great to catch up briefly with Sabrina Horn, founder of the Horn Group, who tells me that business is booming and the firm is engaged in a broad range of digital communications services and applications.

I had an interesting chat with Tim O'Keeffe, (below) who heads Horn Group's San Francisco operations.

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Public Relations And The Rise Of Product Journalism - Scoops About Spec Sheets...

Why has tech reporting become such tedious product journalism? Why are reporters trying to scoop each other on news that is essentially a spec sheet about a mass-produced product?

Why are we reading about products as a news story and not in an ad?

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Every Media Company Is A Media Company - And That's The Problem

Every company is a media company because every company, no matter if it makes ball bearings or diapers, as to publish in many different channels and formats to be visible. If you aren't seen amidst all the media noise, you don't exist.

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New Revenue Opportunities For Newspapers: Teaching

(Illustration by Chris Dichtel.)

Foremski’s Take: The Guardian newspaper’s plans to offer courses in digital media production is an important development and one that should be followed by US newspapers. It would provide much needed revenues to many struggling media businesses.

[Every Company Is A Media Company - The Guardian Newspaper Will Teach You How]

I’ve written many times that the future of journalism is in helping communities, which includes businesses, to tell their stories. Media literacy is important but that’s just one side of the coin: knowing how to produce and publish digital media is just as important, maybe more.

Freedom of speech is pointless if you don’t know how to make it heard. Newspapers know how and they can teach that know-how to others.

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Every Company Is A Media Company - The Guardian Newspaper Will Teach You How

(Above, Guardian HQ in London, credit: The Guardian.)

Every company is a media company but that doesn’t mean every company knows how to be one. That’s what the UK based The Guardian newspaper will be offering: training in digital media production.

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The Guardian's Google Revenue Fantasy - And The Future Of Newsrooms

(The Googleplex at night)

The UK newspaper The Guardian, claims that Google's Android operating system is far less valuable than Google's revenues from Apple devices.

Google's Android has generated just $550m since 2008, figures suggest | Technology | The Guardian

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SF PR Firm LaunchSquad Launches Premium Content Company

I like San Francisco based PR firm LaunchSquad because they tend to be a little bit ahead of the pack. This week it launched Original9 Media, a company combining content creation with online marketing.

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The Reverse Hockey-Stick Slide For Newspapers -The Media Disruption Is Far From Over

There seems to be a perception that much of the disruption in the media sector has been done and that we are now at a (lower) plateau of some kind and that a recovery in the industry's fortunes is underway.

I like to remind people that we are not yet done with the disruption, there's plenty more ahead of us! And it won't be pretty.

Here's a very dramatic reminder of the challenges facing traditional media companies:

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MediaWatch: Dan Lyons Calls Silicon Valley Journalism A 'Cesspool'

Dan Lyons, a columnist for Newsweek, has written a scathing attack on Mike Arrington and MG Siegler, who run CrunchFund, a small VC fund.

The former editor and his reporter at TechCrunch, a leading AOL tech news site, are accused of being part of a trend among Silicon Valley journalists to raise money from investors in exchange for favorable PR services.

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Silicon Valley's Media Industry Is Winning While The East Coast's Is Shrinking

...and the use of cutting edge technologies isn't helping them.

GigaOM, the San Francisco based tech news publisher, announced it has acquired ContentNext, the publisher of the media industry trade publication, paidContent, from the UK's Guardian Media Group.

Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, wrote about what this means to the company:

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Pearson Says FT 'Not For Sale' On Report Of Thomson Reuters Interest

Michael Wolff, a New York City based columnist for the UK newspaper The Guardian, writes that a source at Thomson Reuters has said that the giant news and information services firm is talking to Pearson about buying the 121 year old newspaper.

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MediaWatch Analysis: Should The Tech Industry Buy The Content Industry?

Should Apple buy Hollywood? Should Google buy the New York Times?

Foremski's Take: People in the tech communities have long discussed the need for tech companies to buy media companies. More recently, there has been discussion about Apple using its $100 billion cash hoard to buy music and movie studios.

This won't happen, for many reasons. I discuss some of those reasons here:

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Vice Media: The Best Network Effect Is Still The Good Old Boy Network

Vice Media is a great success story: three friends in Montreal start publishing a magazine about tattoos and drinking and now run a media empire across 34 countries.

Vice could be worth $1 billion by the end of this year and become "the next MTV," writes Jeff Bercovici at Forbes:

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The Wicked Hitch Is Dead

The British journalist and author Christopher Hitchens managed to rile people from the Right and the Left, and across the religious spectrum. Erudite and eloquent he honed those skills to call out foreign despots and take on some of the most powerful figures in the US -- he was truly a modern Cato.

The first time I saw Christopher Hitchens was nine years ago smoking a cigarette outside The Commonwealth Club in downtown San Francisco where he was due to speak later that evening.

I pretty sure it was Hitchens even though I had never seen a photo of him. A middle aged man, slightly disheveled in an academic style, and with a pale pallor that suggested a preference for late nights and late conversations. He looked very much in need of a glass of Mr Walker's wonderful restorative. He looked hungover.

However, when it came time for his talk, he was in excellent form. His oratory was extraordinary, I loved it. His effortless narration and the twists and turns of his phrasing was a pure delight. I had forgotten the pleasure of hearing things well said.

He spoke about his recently published book, a biography of George Orwell, and Orwell's huge influence on his life and work.

Orwell became a harsh critic of both capitalism and communism, a similar journey for Hitchens, and his several decades-long transition from Trotskyist activist to Iraq war supporter.

But Hitchens' political transitions were not the cliche of a revolutionary intellectual turned right wing zealot. He views fit best with Libertarianism -- a perfect place from where Hitchens' skillful iconoclasm could range freely and unrestrained by any political loyalties to Republicans or Democrats.

What impressed me the most about Hitchens was his fearlessness in calling out some of the most powerful people around. He did not mince words, he stood by his convictions even if they were unpopular at the time. His remarkable integrity drove him relentlessly, and sometimes that meant changing his views on key issues when faced with evidence from his own eyes, as a journalist and his extensive travels and meetings with foreign leaders and underground activists.

I'm inspired by his muckraking journalism, his unflinching willingness to take on the rich and the powerful when needed. Muckraking journalism used be far more common in the US as newspapers investigated graft in city hall, or uncovered hosts of nefarious activities by politicians and business leaders. Muckraking meant standing up for the public good, pointing out the corrupt and the criminal, campaigning against exploitative industries and organizations, etc.

We need more muckrakers like Hitchens in times like these. But now we have one less.


Here's a quote from a wonderful piece on Hitchens in Slate, written by his friend Jacob Weisberg:

For young D.C. journalists, nothing was headier than Hitchens' boozy instruction in radical politics and literature...

...I learned better than to try to drink like the Hitch. But his example was in every other way an inspiring one.

Like all of us, he was often wrong, but never in the way everyone else was wrong. His originality was a constant, his independence an unstoppable engine.

He loved to argue and debate, not because he was a bully but because he thought it pointed in the direction of truth. And possibly because he was better at it than anyone else. It was moving to see Christopher applying his integrity to the experience of dying. He went out on his own terms, with no sentimentality or regret, telling it straighter than anyone else would dare.

MediaWatch: Lessons Online Publishers Need To Learn From Print Media

By Matthew Buckland, publisher of Memeburn

I've had a long career in online media. I don't really know much about the print world, except that you get your hands dirty when you page through newspapers.

The closest I've come to deadwood publishing is running the internet departments of newspapers. It's a strange world to work in. You're an evangelist, a pioneer and something of a disrupter.

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MediaWatch: The 154 Year old Atlantic Magazine's Digital Transition

The Atlantic Magazine celebrates its 154 year anniversary this year and it also chalks up another rare achievement: it has crossed the digital divide and now makes more revenue from its online operations than print.

Jeremy Peters, at The New York Times' Media Decoder reports:

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MediaWatch: The Continuing Rise Of Activist Media - And The Demise Of The Fourth Estate

(Activist media from Flickr - photo is related to the OccupySF group -- credit: Mari Francille.)

A few weeks ago I pointed out that activist media, such as the posts, tweets, photos, and videos produced by the Occupy Wall Street activists, will have increase in influence, while the establishment media, such as CNN, New York Times, etc, will decline in influence.

The reason is that the business model for establishment media is under siege and that means cutbacks in resources. There are simply fewer journalists, editors, photographers, camera operators, etc, and there will be even fewer in the future as cutbacks continue to decimate the ranks of media professionals.

But activist media needs no business model, it is staffed by volunteers. And those volunteers are armed with professional quality equipment such as high definition video cameras and editing software; professional publishing systems; and a sizable distribution system through social networks.

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MediaWatch: The Inevitable Rise Of Activist Media -- Armed With An Agenda And No Need For A Business Model

(Activist media from Flickr - photo is related to the OccupySF group — credit: Mari Francille.)

I've been preparing for a presentation to TEDxSF, which is looking at the theme of "Designing your own government" -- I'm examining the role of media, especially around the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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MediaWatch: TriplePundit Merges With Sustainable Industries

San Francisco based green business media publishers TriplePundit and Sustainable Industries have announced a merger designed to combine their readership and resources to build a powerhouse media company.

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PressPage: A Quick And Effective Corporate Social Media Newsroom

Sébastien Willems (left) and Bart Verhulst from PressPage

I met with PressPage earlier this week, a Dutch based startup that offers a quick and effective way for companies to transform their newsroom into a social media hub for journalists and customers.

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A Bottoms Up Approach To News? Newspapers' Reach Is Greater Than Internet's

Here's an interesting report on from the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Vienna, Austria, and a survey of 69 countries:

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SF Prof. Leads Military Effort To Defuse "Stories Used As Weapons"

Daniel Bernardi, a professor at San Francisco's State University and three researchers in Arizona, will receive $1.6 million for a four-year project that seeks to discover and reduce the damage caused by rumors in war zones.

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Introducing Silicon Valley Watch - A Hand-Crafted And Hand-Curated News Site

Over the past couple of months I've been working on a news site, called Silicon Valley Watch, with my long time colleague Doug Millison, a veteran journalist and editor. It's a hand-crafted and hand-curated news site inspired by the Drudge Report.

Our goal is to figure out what is the most news information we can provide in a minimalist format.

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Content Or Advert? The Million-Dollar Conference Keynotes...

Quentin Hardy over at the New York Times reported that Oracle cancelled Marc Benioff's keynote speech at its OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

The spat revealed an interesting fact about large conferences and how much money changes hands.

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MediaWatch: Thomson Reuters Bloggers Attack Business Insider

(A photo from a Business Insider story.)

This was interesting: Felix Salmon, the Thomson Reuters journalist blogger recently used his blog "Felix Salmon- A slice of lime in the soda" to attack Business Insider, the news site based in New York City and founded by Henry Blodget, a former Wall Street analyst (now barred).

Mr Salmon didn't attack Business Insider personally but allowed Ryan McCarthy, a colleague to write this post: Business Insider, over-aggregation, and the mad grab for traffic.

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Making AOL Look Foolish: Arrington Continues To Post Despite Losing Techcrunch Job

SVW was the first to point out that Mike Arrington lost his job at Techcrunch over his insistence to be an investor in his beat companies.

Arrington Replaced At Techcrunch As AOL Seeks To Shore Up Media Credibility - SVW

However, he continues to post articles on Techcrunch in defiance of AOL's and Arianna Huffington's statements that he is no longer employed and that Erick Schonfeld is interim editor while a replacement is found.

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Arrington Replaced At Techcrunch As AOL Seeks To Shore Up Media Credibility

AOL said it would seek a new editor for Techcrunch, the news site it acquired earlier this year. Mike Arrington, the founder and current editor will fill a minor role as an "occasional contributor."

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HubPages CEO On Google's Panda: SEO Doesn't Work

I met with Paul Edmondson, CEO of HubPages, and Jason Menayan Director of Marketing to talk about how the publishing site is dealing with the aftermath of Google's major update to its algorithm, Panda, released earlier this year.

Panda has caused huge problems for publishers because it cut off massive amounts of traffic in a bid to force publishers to produce higher quality content.

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100th Annversary: Media Pundits On Media Pundit Marshall McLuhan...

Here is a selection of what media pundits had to say about uber media pundit Marshall McLuhan on the 100 year anniversary of his birth.

As far I'm concerned, if you write about media and you didn't write anything about Marshall McLuhan this past week, you should be in some other job.

Everyone has their own interpretation of Mr McLuhan's insights into our modern electronic media world media. Here are some:

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SaturdayPost: McLuhan's Relevance In Today's Media Mess Age...

(Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh. Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.)

You may have noticed that the media loves to cover the media -- it's a narcissism that is not unique to the profession but certainly more visible because of its ready means of expression.

It's partly media's fascination with itself, that there is a lot of media this week about Marshall McLuhan: the philosopher prince of the media world. It's the 100 year anniversary of his birth, July 21.

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Spotify: The Unicorn Has Landed...

Last week RDIO CEO Drew Larner called Spotify a "unicorn" because so many people have spoken about its imminent launch but no one has seen it.

Thursday Spotify launched in the US with a bang, the music service is no longer mythical. However, the mythology around Spotify has certainly helped it gain awareness in key circles, especially judging by the more than 200 of my US Facebook friends that have jumped onto it.

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On Aggregators And Rewriters...Bring Back Bloggers

(Photo: Aggregator Gabe Rivera)

Gabe Rivera, founder of the excellent TechMeme is irked that the term "aggregator" is being misapplied especially within the context of the HuffPost event earlier this week [Adweek Slams HuffPost But What About Adweek Senior Editor Michael Wolff's Newser? - SVW]

His argument is that the Huffington Post is not an aggregator, people rewrite other people's stories; that's different to what Techmeme does, which is to aggregate headlines to stories.

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Interview With Vanessa Camones: It Pays To Out Silicon Valley Bullies...

I recently spoke with Vanessa Camones, a Silicon Valley PR veteran and founder of theMIX agency about the reaction to her recent article about Mike Arrington, Editor of TechCrunch: DIGIDAY:DAILY - Entrepreneurs Should Say No to Silicon Valley's Bully.

One of my readers suggested that Vanessa's surname become "Cojones" because of her bold position in taking on Mr Arrington. Many PR people have made similar complaints about Techcrunch but she is the only one to have gone on public record.

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MediaWatch Monday: Interview With Matt Mullenweg On The Future Of WordPress

(Photo credit:
By Michelle Atagana, Memeburn

Named as one of the 25 most influential people on the web, Matt Mullenweg founded and runs an open source web platform that has revolutionized website publishing. WordPress began its life as free, open-source blogging software which quickly evolved into a general-purpose CMS used by millions of sites on the web. The success of WordPress speaks for itself -- and it is one of the most popular content management system engines around today, also used by many Fortune 500 companies.

Mullenweg at only 27 also runs the commercial arm of WordPress, Automattic, which is the company behind WordPress and a handful of other software projects. WordPress is used by more than 14% of the one million biggest websites including those of The New York Times.

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Rupert Murdoch And The SoDOMM Effect In Social Media

Today's news of the demise of The News of the World newspaper was both shocking and exhilarating: that a 168 year old Sunday newspaper with more than 200 staff, selling almost 3 million copies a week, can be closed so suddenly is without precedence.

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The New Media Digital Divide... Study Finds Elites Continue To Dominate

A study by Jen Schradie at UC Berkeley found that the digital divide is alive and well in the new media world despite proclamations of a new democratic leveling of online media through blogs, Tweets, etc.

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MediaWatch: The Strange Joys Of Blogging...

"I am no longer sure if I am in control of my blog, or if the blog could also be described as controlling me."

This line jumped out at me as I was reading Irving Wladawsky-Berger's latest post: The Evolution of My Complex Relationship with Blogging

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Notes From 8th Innovation Journalism Conference

Last week's 8th Innovation Journalism Conference produced a lot of interesting sessions and sparked a lot of ideas.

This year David Nordfors, the founder of the conference and Executive Director of the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication, opened up the conference to public relations, a smart move because of the connection between journalism and PR.

Here are some of my notes from the conference:

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GigaOm Raises $6m For PayWall - Total: $15 million

GigaOm, founded by Om Malik, a former business reporter, said it had raised an additional $6m.

The money comes from Reed Elsevier Ventures and current investors Alloy Ventures and True Ventures (Om Malik is a partner at True Ventures.)

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Is There A Business Model For "Innovation Journalism?"

I'm spending much of this week at the 8th Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford University, speaking on panels, keynoting on ethics, and listening and discussing "innovation journalism" with journalists and academics.

But what is innovation journalism?

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MediaWatch: Curation and Verification In Journalism - New Methods In News Gathering

Last week I wrote about the Oriella survey of journalists that found that the majority do not use social media or blogs for verifying and sourcing stories.

[Oriella Survey: Most Journalists Shun Social Media And Blogs - SVW]

No one is asking journalists to throw away the tried and true ways of researching and verifying stories but to add new skills that will improve their reporting. Those new skills include curation and the use of media technologies to tell stories in ways that haven't been told.

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Oriella Survey: Most Journalists Shun Social Media And Blogs

A survey of nearly 500 journalists across 15 countries has found that some journalists use social media and blogs to source and verify stories. But the majority don't.

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Paper Or Electron ... The Medium Doesn't Define Journalism

MG Siegler, one of the top reporters at Techcrunch, recently wrote on his personal site about the silly distinction that some people make between bloggers and journalists.

It is similar to my experience of when I left the Financial Times to launch SVW in mid-2004. Many people said I was now a "blogger" but I pointed out that I'm still writing news, conducting interviews, writing analysis articles, in pretty much the same manner as I did at the Financial Times. I was still a journalist.

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The Incredible Drudge Report...

The latest study from the Pew Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism looked at sites that drive traffic to 25 large news sites.

The report has an interesting section on the Drudge Report and how it drives massive amounts of traffic to the news sites in the study, way more than might be expected due to the small size of the operation.

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Pew Study Shows Social Lags Far Behind Search In News Traffic

I've written about how social media seems to have become an amplifier for mass media because people share links to large news sites. I've called this the SoDOMM effect: Social Distribution of Mass Media.

A new Pew study has some interesting numbers on this topic. It found that Facebook users sent about 3% of the traffic to 25 news sites tracked in the study.

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Mike Arrington Replies To His Critics

Mike Arrington, Editor of Techcrunch, yesterday replied to his critics. In his post he said he would continue to make investments and that everyone in Silicon Valley is conflicted in one way or another.

I still believe that editors and reporters should not be investors in companies that they cover. I'd like to invite Mike Arrington, and anyone else that's interested in the topic of ethics in journalism, to join me at the upcoming 8th Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford University - May 23 to 25.

There will be lots of discussion about all aspects of journalism and how it applies to reporting about innovation. And there will also be sessions about the role of PR. Registration is just $50. Here is the agenda.

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Report: Massive Drop In Freelance Writing Work Following Google's Panda Update

Chris O'Brien at sent me an interesting report that shows a massive drop in freelance writing jobs following Google's Panda algorithm update in February, which was designed to demote content farms in search rankings.

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WSJ's SafeHouse: For Anonymous Wall Street Leaks

The Wall Street Journal has launched SafeHouse - "Securely share information with The Wall Street Journal."

It asks:

If you have newsworthy contracts, correspondence, emails, financial records or databases from companies, government agencies or non-profits, you can send them to us using the SafeHouse service.

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Coming Up: Stanford Innovation Journalism Conference - May 23 - 25

Coming up in a couple of weeks is the 8th Conference on Innovation Journalism (IJ-8) at Stanford Univeristy, May 23 - 25. It's a great conference and I'll be speaking on ethics and innovation journalism.

It's only $50 and you can register here:

The conference is organized by the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication, founded by David Nordfors, Executive Director.

Topics and speakers:

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Innovation Journalism: Why Silicon Valley Startups Deserve A Level Playing Field

Media coverage is very important for startups. It is how they gain respect in their community, it is how they can win investors, and it is invaluable in helping to recruit staff.

Positive media coverage will also help gain users of their products and services, providing valuable marketing services that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But the only reason media coverage of a startup and their product is valuable is that the media coverage is seen as a neutral third party -- it has no financial bias in its reporting.

The only acceptable bias is a thirst for a great story and selecting the best startups to write about.

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MediaWatch: Bin Laden News Shows SODOMM Effect In Social Media

The world's social media was abuzz last night following the announcement of the violent death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Erick Schonfeld, writes:

many people first heard about the news on Twitter, but more often than not the original source of that news could be traced back to mainstream media. Although some unwitting on-the-ground reporting occurred on Twitter as well, Bin Laden's death was confirmed by mainstream media (CNN, NYT, etc).

...Twitter does not supplant other media, it amplifies it.

Many studies have shown that the vast majority of the media shared in social media communities, are sourced from the traditional, mass media outlets. The early promise of blogging as challenging the gatekeepers of mass media organizations has almost completely disappeared.

Social media has largely become Social Distribution Of Mass Media - SoDOMM.

Please see:

The Demise Of Social Media And The Return Of Mass Media - SVW

Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media - SVW

Who Says What to Whom on Twitter | Yahoo! Research

MediaWatch: Techcrunch Editor Disclosed Only After Swisher Questioned AOL

There is a widespread perception within the Silicon Valley community, that when it comes to the media, as long as everything is disclosed about potential reporting biases, then it's OK.

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Bullshit: Arrington Claims Relationships Are Bigger Problem Than Money

Mike Arrington, the Techcrunch editor who was forced to disclose his investments by Kara Swisher, Editor of All Things Digital, is trying to prove that relationships are a larger problem than money in reporting.

In an interview with Nicholas Carlson, at Business Insider, he says:

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Wow! Kara Swisher Investigation Forced Arrington To Disclose Investments

Kara Swisher, editor of "All Things Digital," reported that Techcrunch Editor Mike Arrington disclosed his investments in startups following her questions about the matter, put to AOL senior management.

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Techcrunch Editor Discloses Investments, Admits To Conflicts Of Interests

Mike Arrington, editor and founder of Techcrunch, an AOL company, today disclosed his investments in some high profile startups.

He said he had refrained from making investments in startups since 2009 because of distracting accusations of conflicts of interest but that he had recently changed that policy (following the sale of Techcrunch to AOL).

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Is There A Future For HyperLocal Media? Guardian Shuts Sites; AOL Recruiting 8K Bloggers...

Local is the new frontier. Local ads, deals, and services represent a massive business opportunity for the Internet giants and media companies.

But local ads need local content and that local content can't be machine aggregated, it requires feet on the streets: selling ads and collecting the news.

And 'Local' is a tough nut to crack.

In the UK, Guardian newspaper today said it will close three local news sites set up as an experiment in March 2010. These are based in Leeds, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

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Google Partner Sites Show Weak Growth - Bad News For Publishers

Google's Q1 2011 financial results show a significant shift in revenues away from its partner sites in its AdSense advertising network.

Google [$GOOG] typically relies on partner sites for about 30% of total revenues but over the past year it has managed to reduce that to 28%.

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Old Habits Continue: No Links In Traditional Media ... Or PR

Anthony DeRosa is Media Product Manager at Reuters. He writes:

Blogger ethics tend to be better than traditional journalism ethics when it comes to linking to sources. It's actually far more likely you won't find a single link in any articles in most mainstream news publications online. Sometimes they may even write out the source, but won't link to it.

Traditional media's refusal to enter the link economy

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There Seems To Be A Google Backlash Building ...

Foremski's Take: There's a Google backlash building and there's probably nothing Google can do about it...

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MediaWatch: Here's Why Twitter Won't Tell You What's True...

Simon Dumenco is "The Media Guy" columnist at AdAge. He has some advice on "How Twitter Can Stop Its Descent Into a Cable-News-Style Disinformation Network."

He points to two recent cases of disinformation on Twitter:

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The Demise Of Social Media And The Return Of Mass Media

There have been quite a few studies lately on what people Tweet and post on Facebook, and the large number of links that people share. Invariably, the links that most people share belong to large media organizations -- what used to be called mass-media.

For example, Nate Silver recently analyzed links to news sources and found that of the top 30 news sources, nearly all were traditional large news sites such as AP or New York Times, only TMZ and Politico were new.

A recent Yahoo! Research report found just 20,000 elite Twitter users produce 50% of Tweets (Twitter has 150 m users). Sounds very mass-media like to me, I bet 10,000 of those users are journalists Tweeting about their stories.

[Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media - SVW]

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The World Has Room For Only Nine More Googles... Or 1,000+ Startups

Here's an interesting analysis of the advertising industry and Silicon Valley's growing bubble in new media by Rick Webb.

He argues that Silicon Valley is heading for a cliff in funding too many startups to provide new media channels for advertisers.

He writes that there seems to be a perception that there will be far more money in online advertising than there really is.

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MediaWatch: Newspapers May Have Even Further To Fall

It may seem as if the downward spiral of newspaper's fortunes has slowed, and maybe even stabilized but that could be a false observation according to a new study.

Alan D. Mutter in Reflection of a Newsosaur reports on an eMarketer report that newspaper ad revenues could be three times more than they should be, given the amount of time people spend reading printed news versus reading online content.

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Support Good Journalism And 'Pay The Wall'

I don't understand the current debate over the New York Times paywall. Yes, it has holes in it and yes it is a bit lame but the question it asks is: will you support quality journalism?

That's an important question.

But it seems that the Geekorati believe that once something is free then it should be free forever, and that if you can get past the New York Times paywall, then you are smart.

I disagree and here's why:

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Study Shows How Social Media Amplifies Mass Media

Social media is touted by many as a way to get around the gatekeepers of media, the traditional old order of mass media setting the agenda for society has been tipped onto its head.

Not really.

A study from Yahoo! Research "Who Says What to Whom on Twitter | Yahoo! Research" found this:

We find a striking concentration of attention on Twitter—roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K elite users—where the media produces the most information, but celebrities are the most followed.

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Is Curation A Flash In The Pan?

It's clear that the interest of Internet users can be very fickle indeed. Sites and services can have sudden boosts of popularity and then pretty much disappear from view.

I'm thinking of Quora as one example. But also Digg, MySpace and many others...

And whenever there is a burst of hype around a topic it seems to be a precursor to a shortened life span.

Curation has recently emerged as a hot topic so does that mean it's days are numbered?

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Here's How Demand Media Works: Infographic

Here's a cool infographic from which explains how Demand Media works (but not why its valuation is greater than the New York Times): (Hat tip Kate Hersch.)

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Learning How To Link Bait: Arianna and NYTimes Chief Bill Keller Sling Mud Over A Mundane Insight

A tempest in a teapot is probably a too generous way to describe the online spat between Arianna Huffington and Bill Keller, Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times.

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Muckraking: A Disappearing Form Of Journalism?

The term muckraker has some negative connotations today but it used to be a noble term applied to a form of journalism that railed against injustice, corruption and the excesses of the high and mighty.

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New Media Business Models: How To Make $2K On $5m In Revenues

Business Insider, the popular news site founded by former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget, this week revealed its 2010 finances.

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Memolane: Curating Your Life In Social Media...

Memolane launched today, an interesting service that creates a timeline of all your posts, tweets, Facebook, photo and video uploads.

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Oodle Attack On Craigslist Falls Flat

Oodle, a classified ads site, recently financed a report that shows the extent of crime associated with Craigslist: "Crime and Craigslist: A sad tale of murders and more."

Here is an extract:

Story continues... Syndicate Content And Get Paid

Repost.Us launched today providing an easy way for companies to syndicate content and be paid according to use.

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Pearson CEO Threatens Split With Apple Over Customer Data

The Guardian reports that Marjorie Scardino, the CEO of Pearson, a large publishing group that owns the Financial Times and Penguin books, is unhappy with the terms Apple has set for publishers on the iPad.

The sticking point is getting access to customer data, which is not possible through Apple' AppStore.

Speaking on an analyst call discussing Pearson's full year results, Scardino said about Apple:

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Churnalism - Journalism Direct From PR Organizations

Journalists love to write original stories but there is also a lot of re-write work that has to be done: quick shorts, events, announcements, etc, stuff that doesn't usually need a phone call or too much fact-checking.

In today's media world, the temptation to churn out stories based on just a press release is very high because content demands are high. And this is where, a new site based in the UK, tries to help. It will identify stories based on a press release and analyze how much of the published story was copied and pasted -- or rewritten with additional, original content.

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WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell Calls Mobile Apps A 'Holy Grail' For Marketers

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising and marketing group, is a keen advocate of the power of mobile apps to help marketers better target consumers.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in a talk titled "The Power of Apps" Mr Sorrell said that apps had become very important for marketers.

Stuart Dredge, reporting for The Guardian newspaper: WPP's Sorrell hails the power of apps

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HubPages: A Different Kind Of Content Farm - Empowering Writers

The second largest privately held web site next to the Huffington Post is San Francisco based HubPages where "Hubbers" publish articles on a wide variety of topics and get paid through Google AdSense.

Some of the more popular Hubbers can earn more than a thousand dollars a month and they own their own content -- a different model from Demand Media, which commissions articles from more than 17,000 writers.

I recently met with HubPages' CEO Paul Edmondson. Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Analysis: AOL And HuffPo - Media's Race To The Bottom?

Dan Lyons over at The Daily Beast nails it in his look at the AOL acquisition of The Huffington Post for $315 million.

The big problem that everyone in online media faces is that advertising rates keep falling. ...

One response to that has been to say that if each page is worth less, then we must have more pages. Thus we now have "content farms" like Demand Media which flood the Web with low-cost, low-quality content that is basically spam. But this drives advertising rates down even further.

Last summer when I did my article about Huffington Post for Newsweek, I estimated that they had about 25 million monthly readers and would generate about $30 million in revenues in 2010. That meant they were getting a mere $1 dollar per reader per year!

Compare that to the world of cable TV or print newspapers and magazines which collect hundreds of dollars each year from each subscriber, and then generate hundreds of millions in ad revenue on top of that--and you see the difficulty of the business that AOL and Huffington Post and all the rest of us are in.

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Knight And Mozilla Foundations Join To Spur Media Innovation

The Knight Foundation and Mozilla foundation have joined forces to promote "quality journalism and media innovation."

Jose Zamora, writing on the KnightBlog:

Years ago, foundations helped place journalism professors in newsrooms and journalists in universities to bridge the education-profession gap and we wondered... What if we did the same for technology? What if we could help expand the field of media innovation by building a bridge between the technology and the news community?

The two foundations have come up with $2.5 million to fund the Knight-Mozilla News Technology partnership.

The partnership will accelerate media innovation by solving technological challenges, developing new news products and services of the Web and embedding technologists in news organizations. Everything done through the Knight-Mozilla Innovation Challenge and by Knight-Mozilla Fellows will be open, providing knowledge, solutions and open-source products that are valuable and useful to the whole field.

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Intel: The Back Story On (Wi-Di) Wireless Display Development


By Intel Free Press

It wasn't incredibly difficult convincing computer industry executives and engineers at such companies as Dell, Sony and Toshiba that people would soon want to beam movies, videos and photos from their laptop screens on to a big screen digital TV. The tough part was making it all happen without adding hardware or extra cost to the manufacturing and selling of laptops.

It was 2006 when a team of Intel engineers began working on what would later be dubbed Wireless Display, or WiDi, technology, which allows people to wirelessly stream video and photos directly from their WiDi-equipped computer to a big screen TV with the use of a small companion adaptor.

"We wanted to create things that we had never done before," said Kerry Forell, who was then in Intel's Mobile Platforms Group collaborating with researchers and engineers inside Intel Labs, Software and Services and other parts of the company.

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Analysis: Here's Why Demand Media Valuation Is Greater Than NYTimes...

CNNMoney reported:

Shares of online content creator Demand Media closed 33% higher Wednesday, following an IPO that valued Demand at more than $1 billion.

...That gives Demand a valuation of $1.5 billion -- more than the New York Times Co (NYT), though less than other media stalwarts like Gannett Co. and Washington Post Co.

That's also the highest market capitalization for an Internet company since Google's IPO in 2004, according to research firm Renaissance Capital.

While its valuation might seem surprisingly high compared with the New York Times, it's investors clearly believe it has a brighter future than the Gray Lady. And here's why it deserves it:

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Edelman Survey: Trust In Peers Falls...Trust In Experts Soars

The core of corporate social media practice is that customers trust their peers and thus if you enable them to tweet or write blog posts about your products or services, it will help boost sales.

In 2006 the Edelman Trust Barometer found that peers were the most highly trusted group. Richard Edelman, the head of Edelman, the largest privately held PR group, dubbed it the Me2Revolution.

But trust in peers has fallen considerably. From 68% in 2006 to 47% - a further decline of 4 percentage points in the past year.

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BBC Closing Community Web Sites, Laying Off 360, No Social Network...

The BBC is a media organization that inspires tremendous amounts of jealousy within the media industry because of its huge budget collected from all UK TV viewers, and backed up by the law.

This steady income means that the BBC has been insulated from many of the travails plaguing other media organizations as they struggle to transition to an online business model and smaller revenues.

However, the UK government has said that the BBC license will be frozen for 6 years at 145.50 pounds (US$231) per year, representing a 16% cut in its budget.

The BBC this week announced that its online budget will be reduced by 25% resulting in the following cuts:

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Jobs Gone, Playboy Hits iPad...

Steve Jobs is know as a big prude banning applications and other iPad content that features nude or sexual content on the iPad. No sooner that he announces a leave of absence on medical grounds, Hugh Hefner, announces that Playboy, both old and new, will be available on the iPad in March.

Vlad Savov at Engadget reports:

From its very first issue in 1953 to its latest incarnation, the full catalog of Playboy Magazine is coming to the iPad this March. And not only that, it'll be faithful to its original form by arriving to your Apple slate uncensored.

If Playboy gets away with it there will be plenty of others wanting the same, uncensored treatment. Will Steve Jobs sit quietly? He tends not to...

One approach maybe for Playboy to bypass the Apple store and create an iPad compatible web-based version formatted to the iPad's dimensions and Safari's navigation controls.

Analysis: Facebook Gains Friends With Benefits From Foreign Investors

Reuters reported that Goldman Sachs will only allow non-US investors to take part in a private placement of Facebook shares because of "intense media coverage" in the US.

Felix Salmon explains why in his column: Analysis & Opinion |

Because of the media coverage Goldman could be accused of "front running their own private market" to evade securities laws.

One question is did Goldman mismanage the deal or is it part of a plan to make sure Facebook gets a large foreign shareholder base?

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MediaWatch: FT Launches Tilt...

The Financial Times today launched "FT Tilt" a subscription based site focused on emerging markets.

Paul Murphy, editor-in-chief of FT Tilt explained the name of the new site:

Recent years have seen economic power shift—or tilt—south and east. This trend is accelerating rather than diminishing and we see strong demand from our core professional readers for increasingly granular news and insight in markets beyond the developed G3 economies.

The goal is to leverage the FT's global network of journalists and combine contributions from a community of financial professionals to publish their research and analysis.

Felix Salmon, over at Reuters does a good job in listing all the challenges:

Tilt is built to allow clients to republish their own work and to talk to each other and comment on stories. But because Tilt isn’t available on Reuters or Bloomberg machines, traders aren’t going to see its stories effortlessly shuffled in to their main feed of news and analysis...

...they want to change the way those professionals consume media on a day in and day out basis—adding an extra site where those professionals feel they must spend valuable time.

...Murphy is asking his overstretched journalists (just one person for all of Latin America, for instance) to tell financial professionals something they don’t already know: that’s a tall order.

Overall, Mr Felix says that "Tilt" shows that the FT is retreating to a newsletter model and that this is "a sad and narrow fate for what should be a proud and global newspaper.”

MediaWatch: Can France's Le Monde Turnaround Its Fortunes?

Frédéric Filloux writing on the "Monday Note" has a good analysis of France's premier newspaper "Le Monde" and its efforts at a turnaround.

Le Monde is now owned by a triumvirate: Xavier Niel, a telecom entrepreneur, provided the bulk of the €110m ($130m) injected in the venture; Matthieu Pigasse, head of Lazard France, and Pierre Bergé, co-founder of Yves Saint-Laurent fashion house. Now, as the paper prepares to replace its editor, the new owners' turnaround operation faces tough challenges.

He writes that the newspaper's largest challenge is trying to ditch its printing press.

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BBC Closes Experimental "Backstage" Developer Project

Martin Belam on currybetdotnet discusses the end of "BBC Backstage" a project begun 5 years ago to encourage developers to use BBC content in new ways that support communities.

I'll miss the hacks, but not the tiresome DRM debates - the end of BBC Backstage - Martin Belam's currybetdotnet blog

It was a laudable aim, and the site launched with some prototypes built by internal people who had been given early access to some of the feeds. I contributed two efforts. "Where is the BBC News?" crudely parsed news headlines for country names, and made the countries currently being mentioned light up on a map, and the BBC Complaints RSS feed, which as I mentioned yesterday, was an effort at screen-scraping to produce content in a format that the BBC should have been publishing anyway.

One of the more memorable results was an early hack that read aloud the BBC News in a Dalek voice. (Daleks are a fictitious malevolent hybrid robot race found in Doctor Who stories.)

Story continues...

Every Company Is A Media Company: Best Buy And Other Media Companies... Is It The Best Choice?

[Hat tip Ike Piggot]

Natalie Zmuda, writes on Ad Age:

The press corps at this year's Consumer Electronics Show may find themselves jostling for soundbytes and product demos on the Vegas strip with video crews from Best Buy.

Yes, the retailer is now a publisher, rolling out a multichannel network filled with original editorial content spanning everything from how-to videos and gift guides to new-technology primers and behind-the-scenes looks at popular movies...

Execs say the intent is to be complementary to, not competitive with, publications like CNet, Engadget or Gizmodo, which cover consumer electronics. But while Best Buy says it's not looking to compete for eyeballs, media buyers say it will be competing with those publishers for ad dollars.

I've been writing a lot about how "Every company is a media company" and this is a good example of this trend.

I've argued that every company needs to develop some of the skills of a media company because every company is also a media publisher -- no matter what product it makes or service it offers.

But that doesn't mean that every company needs to do everything that a media company does? Some things are best left for a media company to do.

Story continues...

Interview: Ron Friedman - Leading Intel's Chip Design Across Cultures

[With the forthcoming launch of Intel's next-generation Core processors at CES - here is an interview with the man that has been leading microprocessor design at Intel.

Ron Friedman is vice president and general manager of Intel's Microprocessor and Chipset Development group responsible for microprocessor design teams in California and Israel, including Intel's new "Sandy Bridge" architecture.]

By Intel Free Press

As you and your teams worked on the new microprocessor architecture, what unexpected challenges did you run into?

Sandy Bridge was new to us in many ways. It was the first time at Intel that we were doing real integration of graphics and the IA core in the same die. And we were trying, at the same time, to prepare up-front for multiple permutations of the product -- to allow the best optimization of cost and performance.

And finally, the team had to work with groups we hadn't interfaced with before -- but it was essential to establish good working relationships and close cooperation. Those were the main challenges in bringing Sandy Bridge to product release qualification.

Story continues...

iPad Magazine Sales Drop Steeply As iPad Sales Soar

Laura June at Engadget reports:

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which collects magazine circulation data from companies willing to furnish numbers, all iPad magazines have seen fall offs in downloads over the past few months. Wired was averaging 31,000 downloads from July through September, had 22,000 and 23,000 respectively in October and November. Other magazines have seen similar declines: Vanity Fair sold 8,700 downloads of its November issue, down from an average of about 10,500 from August through October; GQ sold 11,000 copies, its worst showing yet.

This is bad news for publishers. And it indicates that iPad magazines benefited from a novelty factor but that that novelty soon wore off.

What's puzzling is that iPad sales have been soaring all year; you would expect a rise in magazine subscriptions just based on the percentage of rising iPad sales. Yet we don't see this at all.

Story continues...

Silicon Valley Comes To Paris...

I'm spending much of this week in Paris, visiting Pearltrees (Pearltrees is an SVW client) and attending Le Web, Europe's largest startup conference organized by Loic Le Meur and his team.

Paris is wet, cold and snowy but other than that it feels very familiar largely because I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces: Robert Scoble, Brian Solis, Marissa Mayer, Mike Arrington, and many other Silicon Valley based personalities and executives.

The conference covers familiar territories and the European attendees are also very familiar in that they are interested in the same topics that interest Silicon Valley entrepreneurs: how to build a startup into healthy and self-sustaining businesses.

You can watch the conference live here:

It is interesting that Le Web gives away the live feed for free. This shows that the real value is in what happens in and around the conference rather than the conference itself - you have to be here to get the true value of Le Web.

A good way to grab a taste of Le Web is to look at what people are tweeting. Here is a collection of Tweets in Pearltrees format for fast browsing:

Cool tweets @ LeWeb10
I've also been using the new team feature of Pearltrees to curate the Le Web conference. You can join in too... even from California!

Here is the 'Team' Pearltree:

What's happening at LeWeb?

Has News Site TechPulse 360 Bit The Dust?

TechPulse360 is, or was, a daily news site focused on tech and clean tech, run by Mark Boslet, a former journalist at San Jose Mercury News, and Jean-Baptise Su, a veteran Silicon Valley correspondent for numerous publications.

TechPulse 360 is about two years old. Its most recent entry was more than one month ago:

At the PayPal X conference in San Francisco, PayPal president Scott Thompson confirmed once more that the San Jose, Calif.-based company has no plans to go IPO anytime soon. "We're happy to be part of eBay, and I don't believe that it's likely to change anytime soon!"

The last time I saw Mark Boslet was at the DEMO conference earlier this year. He said he had picked up some work writing white papers for various tech companies.

The demise of TechPulse 360 is a sad event because it was run by media professionals and employed a high standard of reporting. But quality content does not mean that it can survive in today's media world where quantity is rewarded over quality, and where you need to pay attention to "page view journalism" rather than seeking out the best stories.

It used to be the case that quality content was able to find a large readership on the Internet. But with the noise level rising, you have to be an astute marketeer to gain an audience today.

Silicon Valley Goes To Oxford: Twitter Co-Founder Says It Would Not Sell for $5 Billion - Wants To Do More

Every year the Saїd Business School, University of Oxford, hosts its "Silicon Valley Comes To Oxford" event and invites well known Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

At this year's event Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, was one of many featured speakers. As usual, he was asked if Twitter is for sale, reports Mike Magee at TechEye:

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said today that even if the company was offered $4 billion or $5 billion, it's still not ready to be sold.

Stone, reacting to a question from TechEye, said that there was still so much the company wanted to do, including proving that it had a viable financial and sales profile.

He said that although it was Twitter's fiduciary duty to its shareholders to consider bids, it maintained that it was still not ready for such a move.

Twitter's valuation on Sharespost, a secondary market for shares held in private companies, is $3.36 billion. Clearly, Twitter believes its value is far higher than the trades made by its investors.

The rest of the TechEye report is also interesting:

Story continues...

Analysis: Reports That Apple Will Ally With Murdoch Sets Troubling Precedent

Reports that Apple is working with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to produce an iPad only newspaper, called the "Daily," sets a troubling precedent. It has not done the same with music, TV or movie studios.

The UK's Guardian reports: iPad 'newspaper' created by Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch | Technology |

'The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world's first "newspaper" designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple's Apple's iPad, with a launch planned for early next year.

...there will be no "print edition" or "web edition"; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices.

With no printing or distribution costs, the US-focused Daily will cost 99 cents (62p) a week

According to the US elite fashion industry journal Women's Wear Daily, the Murdoch-Jobs "newspaper" will be run from the 26th floor of the News Corp offices in New York, where 100 journalist have been hired...

Foremski's Take:

Apple's alliance with News Corp will ring alarm bells among other newspaper publishers. What isn't clear from the reports is if Apple is providing News Corp. with technology and assistance not available to other companies.

Apple should not get into the content creation business it should remain a neutral distribution platform and maintain a level playing field for all publishers. Apple should make its technology available to all publishers not just News Corp.

Without a web version of the "Daily" its news will only be available to iPad users, which means news and headlines cannot be shared.

This also means Google News and other news aggregators won't be able to list "Daily" news headlines and send traffic. Mr Murdoch has been a vociferous critic of Google and other aggregators.

Bloggers will still be able to write about "Daily" news stories under fair use provisions but they won't be able to link to them. This could result in potentially damaging misinformation campaigns by nefarious third parties if content on the "Daily" can only be verified by iPad subscribers.

There are other potential problems: online ads try to target users across a range of web sites but this won't be possible within the closed system of the iPad. This means ad networks won't be able to operate on the iPad/Daily giving Apple's own ad network a captive customer.

Also: It's not clear if Apple will maintain its veto rights on publishing through its online iTunes store. It has blocked publication of major publications such as Germany's respectable magazine Die Stern because of a nude gallery of photos.

Mr Murdoch's publications include racy tabloids with half-naked "page three girls."

- Will Apple be allowed to censor the content of the "Daily" before publication?

- Will Mr Murdoch allow Steve Jobs to essentially become the Editor of the "Daily"?

- How will Apple be able to monitor for racy content without introducing publication delays when newspapers have such tight deadlines?

Will Mr Murdoch allow Apple to censor the "Daily" at any time it chooses? Or will Apple relax its strict publication rules?

It's either one or the other.

Another key question: Apple has all the customer data and it doesn't share it with iTunes vendors. Does this alliance mean that Apple will now share customer data? This means it will likely open this up to others too.

- - -

Please see:

iPad's Nipple Ban Arouses Ire of German Publishers

Analysis: Apple iPad Is The Newspaper... Curating Content And Apps Produces Real Value - SVW

Curation And The Human Web...

There is no doubt in my mind that the topic of curation and the Internet, is an important one and that it will be a dominant topic in 2011.

Curation is important because we are reaching the limits of what can be achieved through algorithms and machines in organizing and navigating the Internet.

Aggregation looks like curation but it's not. (Please see: Aggregation Is Not Curation - There Is A Big Difference - SVW)

I define curation as a person, or a group of people, engaged in choosing and presenting a collection of things related to a specific topic and context.

Aggregation employs software (algorithms) and machines (servers) to assemble a collection of things related to a specific topic and context.

Aggregation tools can be employed by curators but the human act of curation adds a layer of value that aggregation alone cannot provide.

A good example is Techmeme, the news aggregator run by Gabe Rivera.

Techmeme uses an algorithm to find and publish links to the most important tech news of the day.

For many years it was just Gabe and his algorithm. But now the site employs six people sifting through the results thrown up by Techmeme's algorithm and looking for news that machine aggregation alone cannot find. (Please see: Techmeme is six people now . . . - Techmeme News.)

Techmeme added people because it can produce a superior, curated product, than by machine aggregation alone.

Contrast Techmeme's curated approach with that of Google News' aggregation. At the bottom of each Google News page you will find this statement:

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.

And that's the reason Techmeme wins out over Google News because the quality of machine selected stories is not as good as that of a team of people curating the news together.

The human element is important but it's expensive, which is why Silicon Valley tech companies favor software and machines. Silicon Valley investors fund businesses that are scalable, that can be expanded by simply adding more servers and software.

People-based businesses are not scalable in the same way - you need to hire more people to do more. People add complexity, require management, vacations, and labor costs always trend up. In comparison, servers and software costs keep falling and their productivity increases.

The cheapest way to add a human layer is to improve machine aggregation by taking clues from what people do online, what they share, what they write, and what they discuss.

That's why tech companies talk about the "social web" and social graphs. These are ways of improving their technologies without having to employ people.

A good example is Flipboard, the popular iPad application. It searches for content by looking at what a person's Facebook friends and Twitter followers are sharing, and then publishing the content in an easy to browse magazine format.

However, such approaches reach a natural limit. Social networks share a wide variety of different content. Variety is ambiguous but curation needs to be focused.

Also, the technology of aggregation constantly trends towards becoming a commodity. It becomes a baseline rather than a differentiating factor. The value-add becomes the human layer.

And there are additional challenges to machine based aggregation: it becomes ever more easily gamed, as can be seen in the quality of Google search results and its unending battle with people seeking to manipulate the its results.

Google is forced to keep changing its algorithm in a bid to shakeout those that figured out how to game its system.

Techmeme, with its human curators, doesn't need to worry about others gaming its algorithm because commercial spam won't get published -- except by its sponsors.

The evolution of the algorithm and machine can be viewed as a way to use technology to distill the human essence. What is it about us that cannot be qualified and quantified within an algorithm?

I see curation as a one part of that human essence, a natural human activity that cannot be matched by technology. And curation is where the value lies in improving the organization and usefulness of the Internet.

- - -
Here is a Pearltree on "Curation."

(Please note: Pearltrees, a startup offering a visual and shareable curation service, is a client of my consulting services. If you'd like more information on Pearltrees, or SVW consulting services, please contact me: foremski (at)

Jason Calacanis: "Launch" Newsletter Should Be Ready In December

I ran into Jason Calacanis at Canaan Partners "Web after dark" event at the ritzy Bently Reserve in San Francisco Monday evening.

He said that the first edition of his "Launch" newsletter, focused on longer "thought pieces" about tech startups should be ready in December and that he is building an editorial team of mostly younger writers.

I had written about the Launch venture last month: Jason Calacanis Plans Revenge With A Techcrunch Disruptor... - SVW

I had criticized his plans not to give writers a byline:

The invisible writers on "Launch" won't benefit much from the success of the publication. They won't be earning much money because there isn't much money in online media and they also won't benefit from building a name for themselves - Mr. Calacanis wants all the brand equity to himself.

Writers capable of longer, analytical posts, won't sign up for that type of arrangement. It'll be unknown writers who don't understand they will be losing an opportunity to build personal brand. Not the smartest bunch of candidates for the job. Not the smartest start to a new venture.

Mr Calacanis said that the names of the writers will be recognized as a group as part of the masthead but that individual posts won't be bylined.

He said he is looking to recruit additional young writers because he enjoys training them.

Mr Calacanis is critical of many of today's online news sites, which employ many young writers, churning out copy. In an interview with The Guardian, a UK newspaper, Mr Calacanis said:

"You have a bunch of people writing short stuff with no research and knowledge base. They have no credibility."

What the market needs, he says, is depth, knowledge and thoroughness.

It'll be interesting to see if a team of young reporters can meet the challenge of longer, analytical posts. It usually takes a fair amount of domain knowledge and experience to write analytical articles.

Writing news articles based on company announcements is a lot easier.

A key feature of Launch is that the publication will only be published via e-mail. That means there won't be any comments on articles or reader discussion.

It seems like a throwback to an earlier era rather than a project from one of the first generation of bloggers, who celebrated comments and "TrackBack" as progressive features of a new media format compared with the comment-free old media.

The Knight News Challenge: A Right-to-Respond Button Next To Every News Story...

The Knight News Challenge offers $5 million in funding to the best ideas that "use digital platforms to deliver news and information to geographically defined communities." It is now in its fifth year and the deadline is December 1. Here is my application, let me know what you think.

The goal of this project is to provide companies and individuals with the "Right to Respond" to an online news story no matter where it is published.

Having the right-to-respond to a news story should become a fundamental right to everyone on the Internet yet it is difficult to do because of the fragmented nature of the Internet, with news stories often appearing in many places on different sites, and the lack of commenting facilities.

- What if a company or individual is the victim of misinformation or allegations of one kind or another?

- What if a company wants to react to a story about a competitor?

- What if a politician wants to respond to a news story?

- What if a community wants to respond quickly to a news story?

- What if an individual is misquoted and wants redress?

Conventional means of response are poor and aren't very timely:

- Often, news stories don't have a comments section.

- Comments sections can be very busy meaning that any official response is lost in the crowd.

- News stories can be published in multiple places which means responding to each one is very time consuming.

The solution:

- The "Right to Respond" is a small green button that sits next to an online news story. If it is red it means that a "right to respond" has been registered.

- Clicking on the red "Right to Respond" button leads to a page where the response is posted.

- The response is right next to the news story and not buried in the comments section.

- It is real time, the response is immediate and occurs during the news cycle rather than days later.

- The "Right to Respond" content is hosted in a central location. This means the same reply can be sent to multiple sites at once.

- Corporations would pay the news publisher site for hosting the "Right to Respond" button. They would also choose on which sites they want to file a response.

- Individuals mentioned in the news story, without any company affiliation, would be able to post a reply for free.

It provides an additional revenue stream to publishers and it also conveys trust because legitimate news sites would want to host a "Right to Respond" button showing that they support fair and accurate reporting.

Any news sites deliberately publishing misinformation in order to earn money from "Right to Respond" would quickly lose audience and can be blocked by the companies paying for a response.

There can be several responses available for each news story that could be sold to different companies.

Mobile: It can be easily made available over mobile devices since there is very little space taken up by the "Right to Respond" button.

Communities: The activation of the "Right to Respond" button can be made location based so that it is activated in specific communities. Or specific communities could be offered access to use the "Right to Respond" button for free, encouraging greater communication.

You can view and respond to this proposal here.

FM Publishing Becomes A Media Company With BigTent Acquisition

Federated Media Publishing, the online advertising network, has acquired BigTent, which publishes blogs and hosts groups of people focused on parenting and schools.

The amount of the acquisition was not disclosed but Kara Swisher from All Things D reports:

"BigTent has raised $5 million in venture funding from Menlo Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures."

The move is FM's first in owning media content sites rather than just working with third-party web sites recruited into its advertising network.

Foremski's Take:
In early 2008 I had predicted that advertising networks would need to acquire media companies. The reason is that once client media companies reach a size large enough to run their own advertising, they leave the advertising network, or use it for less valuable content.

FM Publishing has lost several large clients such as Techcrunch, GigaOm, Digg, and others.

"The math is compelling. Ad networks will start buying up online publishers because: they'll make more money, they won't get dumped, and they can monetise online content far better than the online publishers currently can."

The acquisition transforms FM Publishing into a media company with its own advertising network. It will have the means to make further acquisitions, most likely in content.

The question now is if other advertising networks, such as NetShelter, will make similar acquisitions. Such a trend would raise valuations for some online media companies.

Aggregation Is Not Curation - There Is A Big Difference

Curation is becoming an increasingly important term and for good reason: the online world is increasingly messy, muddled and full of blind alleys.

Search used to be the best way to navigate online but today it is only one part of an Internet user's dashboard. Finding things is fine if you know what to look for, but search is increasingly less effective in judging the quality of links, or putting those links into a context.

Blekko, the recently launched search engine tries to provide a context for search terms but it's still not curation but aggregation

So what is curation?

Here is my definition:

Curation is a person or persons, engaged in the act of choosing and presenting things related to a specific topic and context.

An example of curation: the San Francisco De Young museums is exhibiting post-impressionist masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay's permanent collection.

Aggregation is the collection of as many things that can be found related to a topic.

Aggregation would be a collection of any or all, post-impressionist masterpieces from Musée d'Orsay's permanent collection.

Curation is about choosing what's in a collection. Aggregation is just collecting.

On the Internet we see lots of examples of aggregation e.g. Google News aggregates all the news stories around a topic.

There is "smart" aggregation or "social" aggregation in which the algorithms for aggregation try to get clues from groups of humans about what to collect and how to present it.

- Google search is an example of smart aggregation in that the PageRank algorithm uses links on web pages to determine the importance of any link.

- Flipboard, the popular iPad based magazine, gets its clues from your social network about what content to present in its "Flip" format. This aggregation isn't about any topic or context, it is a miscellaneous collection - it's not curation.

Curation can use aggregation tools to uncover/discover things but aggregation is not curation.

There are lots of online curation tools out there and each one is good for certain things.

Some blog posts can be examples of curation: presenting a list of links around a topic.

For much of this year I've been working with Pearltrees and its team of developers, because it is the most comprehensive curation tool I've found so far.

- Pearltrees provides a visual "mind-map" metaphor that links relevant web pages, Tweets, videos, photos -- it works with any and all online content unlike other tools.

- Pearltrees is sharable and embeddable. You can grab my "Patti Smith in Golden Gate Park" Pearltree and add it to your Pearltree collection. I can't do that with any other curation tool.

- Pearltrees is dynamic. If I add new content to my "Patti Smith" Pearltree it automatically updates the same Pearltree in your collection.

- Pearltrees has a powerful algorithm for discovering similar Pearltrees, which is great for uncovering great content that you might have missed.

- Pearltrees can't be spammed. You make the selections, you control your Pearltree.

(There is some big news coming out from Pearltrees later this month that will take it to another level.)

Curation, as a topic isn't going to go away, it will be one of the most important subjects of 2011.

Curation is about the "human web" while aggregation is about the "machine web." Come back for more on this topic.

Here is a Pearltree on curation:


Publisher Of The Atlantic Calls For Fast Action On Apple's Refusal To Share iPad Customer Data

Jay Lauf is publisher of The Atlantic and he is frustrated by the lack of customer data Apple is willing to share with publishers on the iPad.

Writing on Minonline:

...with the recent confirmation that Apple is getting ready to launch the iTunes of newsstands, we could be on the verge of ceding our content and customers to them.

...What happens if an "iStand" supplants the newsstand in the way iTunes has supplanted the record store and it supplants our traditional means of driving subscriptions?

Currently it means the characteristics and locations of readers we've long had a direct relationship with, whom we know so much about--which allows us to provide them better content and more meaningful ways to engage while also allowing us to better service our advertisers--will be in the hands of Apple, not us.

He makes a very good point.

Moving to a digital business model is incredibly challenging for publishers of print publications. One of the advantages is that there is a tremendous amount of reader data that can be gathered, such as which sections are read the most; which ads are viewed; demographic data on readers, and much more, without needing to use expensive focus groups and surveys.

This type of customer data can be easily collected through publisher web sites but not when Apple is the publisher and hosts the content as an "app" on iTunes. Apple stands in the way of collecting that data.

This also means problems for online advertisers that try to target ads to readers. They can't follow readers across all of their reading content, as they can on the Internet. This is probably why Apple has been acquiring advertising companies since it will be the only game in town with that capability.

Mr Lauf adds:

There is a world in which the digitization of the magazine experience yields even more and better data and mechanisms for us to improve all these elements of our business--CRM, tailored offerings, circ metrics, more targeted advertising. That's an inevitable world, really.

But if we need to pay or beg Apple for the privilege, it's a world in which we'll be wondering once again (think giving away content or erosion of the rate card): How'd we let that happen?

He says the industry needs "to act quickly."

If Apple won't share customer data then it must take an active role in marketing the publications to potential customers based on all the data that it has collected.

Potentially, this would be a greater service than providing small silos of customer data to publishers because Apple has the benefit of a global view of all its users.

Apple will still get its 30% cut and publishers will benefit from improved sales into targeted markets.

If not, then Apple needs to open up its iTunes customer data to all publishers: magazine, newspaper and apps so they can improve their marketing.

- -
Hat tip: Paul Eric Davis (@pweck)

Please see:

Analysis: Apple iPad Is The Newspaper...

MediaWatch: Can't Get There From Here...

The demise of the old media appears to have slowed but it hasn't gone away as the transition towards a digital business model continues to hold many challenges.

We still haven't figured out how to transfer high quality old media to the digital platform. And that's an astounding position. You would think that by now we would have come up with a solution to this problem.

We still haven't figured out how to produce high quality journalism on the economics of the digital business model. You really can't get there from here, based on the economics of the digital platform.

Fairly successful new media sites such as Huffington Post still rely on the old media for much of their content, topped up with plenty of user generated content, and content bought in for very low payments.

That's is not a sustainable business model that can be widely adopted by others, especially since it relies heavily on online advertising, which is a poor revenue generator.

I've long been an advocate of what I call the "Heinz 57" revenue model for media - multi-revenue streams that include advertising, subscriptions, lead generation, virtual currency, virtual goods, paywalls, etc. Except that managing a Heinz 57 business model is a huge headache. Publishers would rather go out for lunch with their top advertisers.

Frédéric Filloux, an experienced senior media executive, writing in Monday Note, Expanding Into New Territories documents the challenges for media companies such as newspapers.

...the most difficult part is finding the right combination of revenue streams. Advertising, pay-per-view, flat fee… All are part of the new spectrum media companies now have to deal with.

The gamut looks like this:

As an example of the huge challenges media companies face in moving to a digital business model, Mr Filloux estimates that revenues per reader fall by at least 60%.

His advice to media companies? Move into adjacent terratories:

... big media outlets endowed with strong brands should go into commodity news and participatory/social contents.

... news outlets retain large editorial staffs that could be harnessed to produce high value digital books

... the “Events” item, on the list/graph above, is more questionable, but it remains a significant source of potential income tied to the brand’s notoriety.

... close down a large part of the unsold inventory instead of sticking to the current method of dumping the dregs at a fraction of the prices achieved by premium space.

He also advises media companies to build paywalls but to be prepared for a large drop in readers, "The Times of London is said to have lost 90% of its audience."

It is all good advice but in my experience, established companies have great difficulty in switching business models. As Mr Filloux notes:

Expanding in new business territories doesn’t happen by itself. It will collide with management cultures that remain often ignorant of the technology and mores of the digital world. Money-losing media companies won’t be prone to invest in technologies needed for the turnaround...

Which is why for many media companies, "you can't get there from here."

- - -

From 2006 SVW: You can't get there from here -- a phrase that helps define disruption - SVW

Tynt - Building A Business On Copy And Paste

Who would think that there is a business in providing an online copy and paste service? Tynt believes that there is a very large opportunity even though it hasn't yet figured out how best to monetize it.

Tynt provides publishers with a way of monitoring how and where content is being shared. A reader highlights some text and pastes it into an email or a blog post and Tynt automatically adds a link to the original content.

A dashboard shows publishers what has been copied and where it is being shared. Multiply this simple action across tens of millions of web pages and Tynt has a real-time aggregate view into trending topics and stories that is faster than can be found on Twitter or Google Trends.

I met with Derek Ball, CEO of Tynt. Here are some notes from our conversation:

- Tynt is growing quickly, we have a tiger by the tail.

- We want to help publishers understand who is sharing their content, it's not about stopping plagiarism.

- The links also help with SEO.

- Most users, about 70 per cent share content via email. Facebook is a distant second and only about 4 per cent use Twitter. We find that people are three times more likely to click on a link they see in an email, versus about 1.4 times on Facebook.

- Publishers can see what parts of a story are being shared and then they can add links to their own content on that subject. The more progressive publishers produce additional content on what is hot.

- We considered adding some text ad links to Tynt but it turns out that's not a good use of our technology. Publishers prefer to add links that are related to their Twitter account or other pages on their site. There's not much money in text-ad links.

- Publishers use Tynt to gauge the quality of their content. If there is a below normal amount of sharing then that indicates the quality is not good.

- Most people share between 150 and 200 words of a story, and that falls in the realm of "fair use."

- We haven't yet figured out our monetization strategy. We know we provide a good service for publishers but we aren't yet sure what our best opportunity is. If you chase 100 rabbits you will go hungry. We haven't yet figured out which "rabbit" we should go after, we are looking for a fat one with a limp.

- We believe that our best opportunity is in the aggregate data that we collect and we have an internal team that is looking at our real-time data to see what's there. For example, we know who the most influential sharers are; also, we can analyze what is being shared in each geographical region and at what time of the day. We see trending subjects a lot earlier than on Twitter or Google Trends. It might make sense to partner with an advertising network.

- There are also opportunities in providing services to brands and how people are sharing information.

- Our investors are very pleased with us and have given us time to figure out the monetization part of our business.

- It's very interesting to see what people are sharing but also sometimes very discouraging because lots of people love to share celebrity gossip.

Great Blogging Tips...

Tuesday evening I was at Murray Newland's first meetup of the San Francisco Blog Club. It seems like a throwback to 2007 having a club around blogging, but in many ways, blogging is making a comeback as people realize that it is an important element in establishing thought leadership.

Blogging offers an archive of work and it can be the center of a publishing strategy that includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Dana Oshiro, from Netshelter was the speaker and she did a great job under difficult circumstance because the noise level from other bar patrons was quite loud. Dana is very good and she is one of the up and coming writers that you should have on your radar screen.

Here is part of her presentation, you can see the rest of it on her blog: Villagers with Pitchforks.

Tim O'Reilly once said, 'The problem with writers isn't piracy, it's obscurity.' It may be hard to monetize fame, but it is impossible to monetize obscurity."

Rather than worrying about who's stealing our content, we need to make it sharable, readable and ultimately popular enough to be stolen. We need readers .

There's no silver bullet to do this, but the ways most writers can figure out where their existing traffic and engagement comes from is by looking at their Google Analytics and through sites like Collecta to determine if their traffic is coming:

    • - through search (which is generated through relevant trackbacks and links); - and/or

    • through social media and other blogs

The same tennets that determine newsworthiness for traditional writers also work for bloggers. If you can find a way to relate your story to an existing celebrity (with a large audience), connect it to a major and timely event, incorporate a narrative that affects millions, demonstrate popular and conflicting opinions, regionalize your post or bring a unique point of view to light, you're more likely to be relevant to a larger group of readers.

You also shouldn't be cute with your tags and headlines or pepper them with puns and obscure innuendos. Search engines and frankly social media audiences aren't going to understand your inside jokes. Think about what they're searching for try to attract attention with logical keywords and headlines.

If you've already written a post about something you're referencing, don't reinvent the wheel. Link to your old post. This way you can drive additional page views. You can also link to articles by your friends. The point here is to create a blog mafia wherein you work with other likeminded bloggers to validate and highlight each others work.

According to Facebook Evangelist Justin Osofsky readers are 1.5 times more likely to respond to a status update or "like" when they're posed a question. So instead of just cutting and pasting your title and post URL into a status update consider posing a question with your link.

If you're still unsure of which audiences engage with you, check out my post on these six identity tracking tools.

Dana Oshiro (suzyperplexus) on Twitter

Massive 8x Jump In Twitter Use By Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams

Last week I went to see Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone talk at an Inforum meeting of the Commonwealth Club.

I didn't hear much that wasn't already known but there were a few gems. One was how little engaged Evan Williams seemed to be with Twitter

- Mr Williams said he only Tweets about twice a day and prefers to use Twitter for consumption. I thought this was extraordinary because he is in charge of product development at Twitter. If you aren't a "power" user that's going to make it difficult to make the right decisions on product design, I would think...

- Biz Stone commented on Mr William's lack of engagement on Twitter when he said that if he were buried in rubble, Mr Williams would not be the first person he would Tweet for help.

- Biz Stone commented on the failure of Odeo, a startup both had founded, focused on being a directory for podcasts. He said Mr Williams and himself had no interest in podcasts, they didn't listen to them and didn't make podcasts. This lack of engagement made it difficult for Odeo to succeed but... it was easy raising money for it.

That made me wonder about Mr Williams' lack of engagement on Twitter. What did that mean for the future of Twitter? After all, a lack of engagement doomed Odeo.

Up until the evening of the Inforum talk, from Oct 1 to Oct 11, Mr Williams had made only 20 Tweets, just a shade under his two-a-day average.

Then after I published my Inforum report things changed, by a lot.

I'm pleased to report that Mr Williams is now very engaged in Twitter. I counted more than 110 Tweets in the past 7 days. That's nearly 16 Tweets a day, or a factor of 8 times Mr Williams' prior daily rate.

There is a healthy number of re-Tweets, showing that he is capable of spreading the love; and there are few conversational Tweets that mean little to observers. It's a reasonably decent quality Tweet stream.

You can take a look for yourself: Evan Williams (EV) on Twitter

UPDATED: Maybe I spoke too soon. Sean Garrett, Twitter's comms chief tells me I'm wrong:

@ the jump is because Ev did an Q&A session on Twitter. Ev uses Twitter all day long but doesn't mean he always tweets.

However, it was encouraging to see the extra Tweets by Mr Williams. I always look at companies eating their own dog food, as unappetizing as that sounds, it is important, imho. It's important for us heavy users that the developers understand what we need and how we use the product or service.

- - -
Please See:

Twitter's Ev Williams and Biz Stone At Inforum: Surprisingly Little Insight Into Twitter... - SVW

Condé Nast Shares iPad Magazine Lessons

Condé Nast reports that readers of iPad versions of its magazines spend more time with the electronic version than the print version.

Also, iPad readers are not typical early tech adopters.

Scott McDonald, SVP market research, Condé Nast said: "Many iPad users surveyed were not the typical tech 'early adopter' or familiar with Apple products and their navigation conventions. This has very important implications for application interface design."

Other findings:

- Specific to Condé Nast digital magazines, eight in ten reported that the content and experience associated with the brands met or surpassed their expectations.

- 83% reported a likelihood to purchase the next month's digital issue.

- 89% felt the apps were easy to use and, on the whole, users showed little sensitivity to download times.

- users preferred to read the magazines in portrait mode, but chose to watch video in the landscape orientation.

- There was also an expectation for flexibility in buying options, e.g., a single copy purchase, a digital subscription or supplement to their print subscription.

- The study showed that readers expected to find ads in digital magazines and expressed that their inclusion was an enhancement to the experience, which is often the case with printed magazines.

Condé Nast's five best practices for creating advertising that will engage and resonate with the user:

1. Take advantage of This New Medium's functionality: Users responded positively to the additional functionality of the iPad. Therefore advertisers that included compelling and unique experiences, that were self contained and exclusive to the environment, were liked more than those that did not. Increased opportunities for engagement including video, photo galleries and links to websites are recommended.

2. Provide Clear Instructions on How to Engage with Your App: As many surveyed were not familiar with iPad navigation, ads that included clear calls to action and cues on how to engage the creative were more effective. Icons should be clearly visible and intuitive and state whether more content or additional functionality can be found.

3. Supply Additional Information but Avoid Repurposing Creative Assets Used for Other Media: Users enjoyed advertisements that provided something new and useful. Including detailed product info and how-to's are recommended, however re-purposing video or creative used for other mediums is not suggested.

4. Tell A Story: The most remembered ads contained narratives. The iPad's ability to showcase various forms of media offers a unique opportunity for telling a brand's story. However, it was discovered that users became bored when the same advertisement was used repeatedly throughout a single application.

5. Lead Them Down the Purchase Funnel: Brands that enabled a user to directly access and purchase the featured product faired better than companies who offered homepage links alone. It is also recommended that due to compatibility issues, Flash not be used.

The survey was based on 100 hours of one-on-one interviews and 5,000 in app surveys. Magazines in the study were GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired and Glamour.

Logitech + Google TV - The Trojan Horse PC In Your Living Room

Logitech has built a very large business making everything for the computer except the computer itself: keyboards, mice, desktop speakers, etc.

Today Logitech launched its Revue, a set-top box containing its version of Google TV plus a remote control that looks like a regular Qwerty keyboard with a few extra buttons.

Using a search interface, Revue is connected to your living room TV and uses your wireless or wired network to bring TV content from web sources and it is integrated with your cable TV box.

It's not designed for your mom to use, thats for sure but if you are already a Logitech Harmony remote user you can master Revue.

What struck me is that all of the the web side of the content equation is already available to you through your laptop. I cut my cable TV off more than two years ago and use a spare laptop to stream TV content from dozens of Internet sources. With Revue you don't need a laptop, it's essentially a PC (Intel Atom inside) with a Google OS: Android; with a Chrome web browser.

You might use it for TV but you could also use it for running apps and many of the things you do with a laptop and browser.

One way of looking at this is that Google TV turns your TV into a Google PC. And no Microsoft required...

Here's some of the Logitech coverage in the form of a Pearltree. Pearltrees caches the web content so you can browse faster than the Internet. I picked out a few of the better reports.

This Pearltree includes the following and more:

Logitech's Google TV-powered Revue up for pre-order today, $299.99 | VentureBeat

AppleTV vs. Google TV: An In-Depth Comparison | Cult of Mac

First Impressions of Logitech Revue Google TV Box: It's Way Too Geeky | Cult of Mac

Google TV Announces Its Programming Partners but the top networks are absent-

The announcement Logitech Press Kit

You can grab this pearltree and put it in your account. If I add fresh content it will automatically be updated.

Logitech Revue Google TV

Jason Calacanis Plans Revenge With A Techcrunch Disruptor...

Jason Calacanis used to be a good friend and business partner with Mike Arrington. Together they launched a conference series but fell out and took different paths.

Jemima Kiss at reports: Jason Calacanis: Revenge is a new editorial project to rival TechCrunch

Calacanis claims Arrington froze him out of his chunk of the TechCrunch 50 event, but rather than wage full-on warfare, Calacanis is retaliating by aiming to beat TechCrunch at its own game. Calacanis is launching his own startup editorial project - called Launch - and event as a direct challenge to TechCrunch, he told the Guardian.


He's picked up on the state of the tech blogging scene which, he says, is in a race to the bottom and is dragging mainstream media down with it.

"When I started with Peter Rojas blogging was a new format that was faster but still had quality and insight," he said. "Now it's even faster but it has lost that quality and insight. You have a bunch of people writing short stuff with no research and knowledge base. They have no credibility."

What the market needs, he says, is depth, knowledge and thoroughness.

There is plenty of news out there but not much analysis. That's because it is difficult.

The challenge with writing good analysis is that it can't be done by rookie writers. It's easy to find writers that can quickly write up an announcement/press release but there's few that can understand what it means and put in the right context.

Analysis requires considerable sector knowledge, it can take years to develop -- which means such writers are rare, and thus more expensive. I hope Mr. Calacanis doesn't confuse opinion with analysis because the two are very different. Everyone has an opinion.

An interesting tidbit in the Guardian story is that Mr. Calacanis doesn't want to share brand with his writers. This is a potential show-stopper.

Jemima Kiss reports that: "He wants his writers to file once a week under one collective voice, like the Economist."

That won't work. The Economist gets away with it because it is The Economist and people in the know, know its writers.

The invisible writers on "Launch" won't benefit much from the success of the publication. They won't be earning much money because there isn't much money in online media and they also won't benefit from building a name for themselves - Mr. Calacanis wants all the brand equity to himself.

Writers capable of longer, analytical posts, won't sign up for that type of arrangement. It'll be unknown writers who don't understand they will be losing an opportunity to build personal brand. Not the smartest bunch of candidates for the job. Not the smartest start to a new venture.

If Mr. Calacanis really wants to exact revenge on Techcrunch then he should recruit some of the Techcrunch writers with recognizable names such as MG Siegler and Erick Schonfeld in the US; Mike Butcher and Robin Wauters in Europe.

I doubt that these writers are tied up in lucrative inducements to stay at Techcrunch.

It would be a big blow to Techcrunch, and endanger Mr. Arrington's earn-outs from the AOL deal if they were to leave.

And they would leave with large audiences attached because of their personal brands. But Mr. Calacanis will have to ditch the no byline policy on "Launch" and be generous to his writers.

Techcrunch is vulnerable to anyone that can come up with a way of luring its best writers (and those of VentureBeat, GigaOM and ReadWriteWeb) to a new publication. Salaries and equity deals could be made alluring and difficult to turn down or match; it would build an instant editorial team with high traffic straight out of the box.

It wouldn't take long to parlay that into a deal 18 months down the line with a nice profit and just rewards for the writers.

I've always wanted to launch a "Silicon Valley Hack Pack" staffed news site - recruiting a dozen of the best journalists covering Silicon Valley -- if I had the resources. Mr. Calacanis potentially has the resources to do something similar but focused on the startup community in Silicon Valley and beyond. Success is the sweetest revenge and "Launch" could succeed if done right.

ScribbleLive - Live Media Technologies For Real-Time Newsrooms

I recently met with Michael de Monte, CEO of Scribble Technologies, based in Toronto, Canada. The company offers a very interesting media technology called ScribbleLive, which is a real-time newsroom allowing publishers to rapidly organize and publish text, audio, and video content as it happens.

Several large media companies are using it, such as Thomson Reuters, and Rogers (also an investor). Also, Greenpeace uses the technology.

Here are some notes from our meeting:

- Mr. de Monte has a long 20 year background working at Canadian media companies and helping run online operations. He and his business partner Jonathan Keebler, Chief Technology Officer like to describe themselves as "newsies" they are into the news.

- A good example of using ScribbleLive was the coverage of the recent G20 meeting, which resulted in widespread protests and involved many reporters filing live reports from various areas in Toronto. TV stations noticed and became very interested in that capability because they don't have the resources to station satellite trucks and TV crews at many locations simultaneously.

- The service is sold as a hosted service and it is sold to the 'top' and then various media groups within the company can use ScribbleLive. This is opposite from many other hosted services that get their foot in the door through departmental groups.

- The content management system uses HTML, which means the content is easy to index. The content shows up high in the Google index, Google seems to favor fresh content in its rankings.

- ScribbleLive is used for sporting events and also reality TV shows on the Food network. Advertisers like the fact that TV viewers are engaged for long periods on the web site when there is a live event.

- The company is bootstrapped but recently received some investment from the venture capital arm of Rogers, the Canadian media giant.

- Twitter is not seen as a competitor, Twitter is simply an additional channel that is integrated into ScribbleLive.

- Editors can curate the content from their own reporters and outside bloggers and Tweet streams. The system is very easy to use and doesn't require training. Reuters said it was the fastest technology it had deployed in more than 140 years.

- ScribbleLive also has an archival feature, which shows up well in Google and drives pageviews.

- Media companies seem to have gotten over many of the problems they were facing internally and are now looking for effective media technologies. It appears that some sort of tipping point has been reached and that media companies are now approaching Scribble Technologies.

- The company runs its own infrastructure to make sure it has 100% reliability. It had used Amazon but there were some design factors that caused it to build its own capacity.

- There is a mobile version of ScribbleLive.

- Potential customers can try it out for free.

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Please see:




Will TechCrunch $hare M&A Bounty With Its Writers? Will Yahoo! Look At Competitors?

Congratulations to Michael Arrington and team on the TechCrunch acquisition by AOL. The terms of the deal have not been made public, however AOL will be required to make an SEC filing in the next few days if the amount is "material."

Building a media company is hard work and Mr. Arrington has certainly put in the hours. The TechCrunch editorial team is now quite large and it is that teams' work over the past couple of years that has built the traffic that AOL wants.

It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, TechCrunch owners will share their bounty with their reporters. After all, without the writers there isn't a TechCrunch.

But online reporters are a dime a dozen in today's troubled media industry, salaries are small and there is likely little incentive to offer a share of any M&A windfalls.

The acquisition also means that AOL passed on competing TechCrunch sites such as Mashable, VentureBeat, GigaOm, and ReadWriteWeb. Those sites will now face a competitor that has a more formidable distribution network and advertising sales team.

Will the deal attract others? Will Yahoo, for example now come and pick through the TechCrunch competitors? Will Mashable be next? It is certainly closest to TechCrunch in traffic.

Here is a chart that provides a relative measure of the value of these media sites:
(Compete usually underestimates traffic.)

Please see: Tim Armstrong: We Got TechCrunch!

VentureBeat Covers TechCrunch Conference Following Minimal TechCrunch DEMO Coverage

It is commendable that VentureBeat is covering the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week following on the heels of TechCrunch completely boycotting minimal coverage of the DEMO Fall conference organized by VentureBeat and IDG.

Last week I wrote that rivalry between the publications that cover the startup sector would be bad news for startups. MediaWatch Monday: Media Wars Over Conference Coverage Hurts Startups.

However, there was no coverage coverage of the Techcrunch conference by ReadWriteWeb, which appears to have boycotted the conference.

GigaOm has produced a respectable 4 stories.

All of these media publications cover the startup sector and all have their own conferences.

I made the point that media companies covering their own conferences discourages other media publications from competing for the same coverage. Especially since the content is mostly announcements and a rewrite of a press release.

This also brings up issues of "pay for play." Although each publications claims that their coverage of their own conference is objective it is difficult to prove when there is considerable money to be made in conferences.

Are startups getting the best bang for their marketing dollars?

Several startups I have spoken with are rethinking their marketing strategies and said they will take part in fewer conferences in the future. They prefer smaller events, and media tours where they can present and meet with smaller groups of media and analysts such as media roundtables in restaurants.

3 Simple Steps In Gaining The Upper Hand In A Tweet Fight

Publishing online, whether it is tweets or blog posts, will occasionally upset some people. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't try to please everyone, sometimes the truth hurts.

If you find yourself in a Tweet fight here are three simple steps to ensure you come out on top.

Step 1 - Make sure it isn't a "Twit" fight because paraphrasing Confucius, if you engage in a public brawl with a mad person, those passing by and watching the spectacle will find it hard to tell the difference.

Step 2 - Step away from the keyboard. Passion and emotion is not your friend at this stage. Engage very lightly. Step away from the keyboard and your computer screen for several hours.

During that time the other person will have lathered themselves into a froth. By that time, they have likely also launched a personal attack.

You can then return to the keyboard calm and collected and look supremely reasonable while the other person has dug a massive hole for themselves, filled it with mud, and jumped in for a good wallow.

Step 3 - Write a post about how to gain the upper hand in a Tweet fight.

Cisco Plans Relaunch Of [email protected]

Yesterday I met with Autumn Truong, Senior Social Media Strategies for Cisco Corporate Communications, and she told me about plans to relaunch the pioneering [email protected] site.

I'm a big fan of what Cisco has done with its communications. Cisco was the inspiration for my "Every company is a media company" mantra.

More than five years ago, Dan Scheinman was running Cisco corporate communications and also head of Cisco's M&A strategy, a multi-billion dollar a year war chest for acquisitions.I met with him and was amazed by what I heard, that [email protected], the company's corporate newsroom, was getting more traffic than the top industry trade publications at the time. Cisco had more than 200 RSS feeds, and was employing a cadre of top journalists and editors to help tell its story and that of its customers.

Cisco now planning to extend its [email protected] site and make it less about Cisco and more about the industry and SIlicon Valley. There will be articles on collaboration, social media, virtualization, video, network technology, and culture.

"Cisco is already producing a lot of content from its different divisions. We will be curating a lot of that work but also adding new content by commissioning work from outside of Cisco," said Ms. Truong.

The relaunch is planned for November of this year and it has been in preparation for about five months. It is part of a team project managed by John Earnhardt, Director of Social Media Communications at Cisco. More details to come...

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Please see: Meeting Cisco's M&A Chief And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company - SVW

The Problem With Aggregators, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly...

Frédéric Filloux over at "Monday Note" has written a good analysis looking at news aggregators: Aggregators: the good ones vs. the looters

He likes Techmeme, run by Gabe Rivera, which he dubs one of the "good" aggregators. And I agree that Techmeme is one of the good ones.

He doesn't like The Huffington Post:

The recipe is simple and extremely efficient: you take a 2600 words Vanity Fair interview of the financial reporter Michael Lewis on the rotten Greek public finances, you squeeze it down to 360 words (that's down to 14% of the original length), and you have a self-supporting article that perfectly sums up Lewis' point. This fits the internet era's snippet culture: unless you nurture a secret passion for Hellenic bonds, you have no need to click and link from the HuffPo back to the original Vanity Fair story.

...How come a story that cost the original publisher $10,000 or $30,000 to report, edit and produce gets transformed into a mere one-gulp self-sufficient capsule? That's the internet, baby.

(I would put "Business Insider" in the "ugly" aggregator category because of its cynical use of other people's content ...)

There's lots of money in news aggregators, even "good" ones such as Techmeme, which generates enough revenues to employ 6 people.

Mr. Filloux writes that HuffPo generates an estimated $15m a year..."the HuffPo is generating a fifth of the NYTimes per reader, but its cost structure is nothing in comparison of a organization that spends $2m or $3m/year to just cover the war in Afghanistan."

None of the aggregators, good, bad, or ugly, make an investment in the original articles that they profit from. They say they send traffic to the sites but the value of that traffic is very small.

When I left the Financial Times six years ago to become the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to try and make a living as a "blogger" journalist I quickly saw that the traditional media industry could not make the transition to the economics of the new media world without massive disruption.

It was a situation that I termed, "You can't get there from here."

However, I thought that by now we would have figured out a way to finance quality media. But that hasn't happened. The disruption continues and there is no solution in sight. Interesting times.

HuffPo, and all the other aggregators couldn't do what they do without their original sources. Yet the investment of time and money to create the original articles cannot be recovered with the current methods: advertising. ANd the original sources have no lien on the profits made by the aggregators

I have proposed a possible solution, what I call an "adtribution" model where if you quote from, or refer to an original source, then you should carry one or two small text ads from that source. At least that way, the original content gets distribution along with its "original" advertising -- and some money is returned to the original source that can be invested in new content. A virtuous cycle.

But I doubt if even that would generate enough revenues to pay for say, NYTimes coverage of the Afghan war, let alone everything else it does.

So what's the solution? We still don't have one and there isn't a solution in sight.

As Ben Metcalfe, a commentator on "Monday Note" writes, "Welcome to the race to the bottom..."

MediaWatch Monday: Media Wars Over Conference Coverage Hurts Startups

I was at the DEMO Fall conference last week in Santa Clara, which is co-organized by the online news publication VentureBeat and IDG.

I noticed that there wasn't much media at the conference -- the press room was nearly deserted for much of the time I was there. (I also looked for media coverage that wasn't from VentureBeat and it was equally sparse.) Usually, DEMO attracts quite a large variety of publications and this is a key reason that companies are willing to pay the $18,500 fee, (if selected) to be at DEMO.

There was plenty of coverage from VentureBeat, of course. Every one of the 70 companies at DEMO received coverage from VentureBeat but coverage from other publications was sparse. For example, Techcrunch, which does a lot of startup coverage had just one story; ReadWriteWeb, which also covers this sector in great detail had 2 stories; while GigaOM had a fairly respectable 7 stories.

Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOM, run their own conferences, Techcrunch Disrupt for example is a direct competitor to DEMO.

It seems that the lack of coverage is due to the fact that rival publications now run rival conferences.

Does this mean that VentureBeat won't offer much coverage of Techcrunch Disrupt? And will the other conference makers follow suit?

If so, then they might all be shooting each other in the foot because companies pay the big bucks to get into these conferences because they get access to a lot of press all in one place.

One of the DEMO companies last week told me that they were disappointed there wasn't more press. Getting coverage from the co-hosts of the conference is nice but it doesn't carry the same weight as getting media coverage from independent media rather than the conference appointed media, which comes included in their fee.

I know very well how tough it is to make money in the media industry today. It's not only the old media that is suffering but the new media is too, and conferences have become a very important revenue stream.

But conference organizers used to be conference organizers and not media publications competing with other media publications.

Why would you expend your resources to cover a conference that is being covered by your competitor, who is also the organizer and who has better access to the companies and the panels?

Yes, you can still go along and find your own stories but it is no longer the level playing field that say, this week's Oracle OpenWorld conference provides.

All the media are on an equal footing at Oracle OpenWorld. Oracle isn't going to publish a bunch of its own articles about Oracle sessions, key executives, it won't cover its own keynotes and try to compete with the media attending.

But the economics of the media industry are forcing publications to cover their own conferences and this naturally puts off other publications, as we've seen with DEMO.

If every publication effectively boycotts rival conferences then that means there is less value for the companies exhibiting at these events. Which will lead to fewer companies at future events as they look for a better investment for their marketing dollars. And everyone loses out.

 DEMOfocus on Social Media Technologies

Is Apple's Porn Ban Damaging The Future of Media?

Everyone knows that Steve Jobs has banned porn and any sexual content from the iPad but is this a wise move?

I just started reading Nick Bilton's book "I live in the future & here's how it works" and the first chapter is about his investigation of the porn industry to see if there are any lessons to be applied to the media industry.

I've long been an admirer of the porn industry's innovative business models as applied to technology and media. And Mr. Bilton does a great job in expanding on that theme.

Every time a new technology has been introduced, way back to the printing press, sexual content has helped drive that technology and develop thriving business models that others have been able to adopt and prosper with.

He quotes an essay from the mid - 1990s by Peter Johnson, a prominent lawyer: Pornography Drives Technology: Why Not to Censor the Internet

Throughout the history of new media, from vernacular speech to movable type, to photography, to paperback books, to videotape, to cable and pay-TV, to "900" phone lines, to the French Minitel, to the Internet, to CD-ROMs and laser discs, pornography has shown technology the way. "Great art is always flanked by its dark sisters, blasphemy and pornography."(5) The same is true of the more mundane arts we call media. Where there is the Gutenberg Bible, there is also Rabelais; where the U.S. mails, dirty postcards; where the three-volume hardback novel, paperback pulp fiction; where HBO, Midnight Blue; where CompuServe, the Plain Brown Wrapper library.(6)

Pornography,(7) far from being an evil that the First Amendment must endure, is a positive good that encourages experimentation with new media. The First Amendment thus has not only intellectual, moral, political, and artistic value,(8) but practical and economic value as well. It urges consenting adults, uninhibited by censorship, to look for novel ways to use the new media and novel ways to make money out of the new uses. Therefore, while it may be politically impossible and socially unwise to encourage computer pornography, legislators should at least leave it alone and let the medium follow where pornography leads.

Mr. Bilton goes on to describe his investigation into the porn industry and its many ways of making money but finds very few lessons from the digital world that can be adapted to mainstream media, (which is very worrying).

But the chapter on porn made me think that maybe Steve Jobs is doing us all a massive disservice by banning porn from the iPad. If this is truly an important new technology platform for media, why does it specifically exclude the most innovative sector in media of our modern and historical times?!

There is lots written about how the iPad can save the media industry but so far, there's not much innovation in that area. Charging $5 per iPad issue of Time, or some other magazine isn't innovative in the slightest.

I had lunch recently with Sam Whitmore and his wife Kristie, they run the excellent Media Survey, and many of the largest PR agencies subscribe to Sam's analysis of media trends. I gave him a copy of my book "In My Humble Opinion", which is based on some of my earlier posts. He said I was one of the first to point out that the digital revenues from media would not match offline revenues and that this would cause a crisis in the media industry. About five years ago I wrote a series of posts around this theme, one that is very common today.

We discussed that despite the fact that this theme is very common today with many people writing about it, the issue still hasn't yet been solved.

We still don't know how to transition the old media to the economic reality of the new media without sacrificing tremendous numbers of jobs and centuries of best practices.

I see this issue as one of the most important issues facing not just the Internet but society in general.

Software engineers talk about "garbage in, garbage out." If you start with bad data you get bad results.

If we have a garbage media, we will have problems. Media is how society "thinks" about important problems, and we have plenty of those: the economy, environment, education, energy, the elderly... and those are just the ones beginning with "e."

We still haven't solved the problem of how to finance quality media.

It's the Gordian knot of our times, whoever solves it will be rich, but whoever solves it solves it for all of us, because we can all take advantage of it.

If pornographers can solve this issue then let them -- we will all benefit from it because we might then have a viable business model for all media. (We might then also have a viable business model for media on the iPad and Apple will benefit from that.)

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Please see:

Influence On Twitter Is Linked To Quality Of Content And Not Quantity Of Followers

[Daniel Romero is a Ph.D Candidate at Cornell Univeristy in the Center for Applied Mathematics. He works with Hewlett-Packard's Social Computing Lab Bernardo Huberman and colleagues.]

By Daniel M. Romero

The importance of mainstream news has changed with the advent and immense popularity of online social media.

The mainstream media is now aware that they have to be involved in the social media in order to keep their audience engaged. They understand that they no longer have complete control on what information people will attend to.

With social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc people can find the news they want even if the mainstream media may not be providing it to them. This is why today we see all major broadcast networks present and active on Twitter.

But are they as successful at social media as they are at mainstream media? Are they as influential as they are assumed to be in the offline world? Who are the most influential ones?

To answer these questions, we measured the influence of all the news media accounts on Twitter. We used the Influence-Passivity Algorithm discussed in a previous post at SVW: HP Twitter Study: Weak Link Between Popularity And Influence.

The data includes all tweets containing a URL from June 15th through July 22nd of 2009. You can find the list of the 100 most influential news media accounts here (and below).

Most of the major news broadcast networks are present in this list. However, they do not fully dominate it. We see blogs such as@mashable, @bigpicture, @gizmodo, @harvardbiz, among others with very high influence ranking and above major players from traditional media such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The list also includes the number of followers each account has. The same observation about the weak link between popularity and influence made in the previous post can be made here.

Having a large number of followers does not imply having influence in news social media. Furthermore, not having a large number of followers does not mean lack of influence.

A particularly interesting example is @bigpicture, a photo blog for the Boston Globe; with a mere 23K followers it is the 3rd most influential account on the list. After taking a look at some of the very high quality photographs tweeted by this account it becomes clear why people are willing to re-tweet them and why this account has so much influence.

This demonstrates that to be influential on Twitter news media networks have to keep their audience engaged through valuable tweets and not simply convince people to "follow them on Twitter".

The work on this project was done in collaboration with: Wojciech Galuba (@wgaluba); Sitaram Asur (@SitaramAsur); and Bernardo Huberman (@bhuberman)

Follow on Twitter:

- - -

Number@nameNameFollowersInfluence Rank
1@mashablePete Cashmore203784059
2@cnnbrkCNN Breaking News322447571
3@big_pictureThe Big Picture2366692
4@theonionThe Onion2289939116
6@breakingnewsBreaking News1795976147
7@bbcbreakingBBC Breaking News509756168
9@harvardbizHarvard Business Rev219039227
13@wsjWall Street Journal366133358
14@smashingmagSmashing Magazine224333360
16@rollingstoneRolling Stone133999436
17@whitehouseThe White House1794544448
20@peoplemagPeople magazine2099081565
21@natgeosocietyNational Geographic274851603
22@nytimesThe New York Times2502914705
24@foxnewsFox News260081710
27@huffingtonpostHuffington Post632555849
28@newscientistNew Scientist144355852
29@mental_flossMental Floss68975874
30@theeconomistThe Economist311109902
35@bbcclickBBC Click17494701041
36@fastcompanyFast Company1482921056
37@reutersReuters Top News1944291119
38@incmagazineInc. Magazine1092561143
39@eonlineE! Online22710261227
40@rwwRichard MacManus10379071232
43@mckquarterlyMcKinsey Quarterly909811354
44@enewsE! News2797371540
45@nprnewsNPR News2705611572
46@usatodayUSA TODAY Top News627901628
49@boingboingBoing Boing486491811
51@empiremagazineEmpire Magazine333351905
52@todayshowThe Today Show6204131927
53@goodGOOD 4149562003
55@msnbc_breakingmsnbc Breaking News593752088
56@cbsnewsCBS News15756382090
57@guardiantechGuardian Tech15920672139
58@usweeklyUs Weekly2287282233
60@sciamScientific American883362373
61@pastemagazinePaste Magazine646422379
62@drudge_reportDrudge Report1005582468
63@parisreviewThe Paris Review221272599
64@latimesLos Angeles Times712872625
65@telegraphnewsDaily Telegraph News173252629
66@abc7ABC7 Eyewitness News363432638
67@arstechnicaArs Technica820512692
69@nprpoliticsNPR Politics18018712882
70@nytimesphotoNew York Times Photo794432927
71@nybooksNY Review of Books898272966
72@nielsenwireNielsen Wire138402994
74@sciencechannelScience Channel 825143064
75@usabreakingnewsUSA Breaking News139873120
76@vanityfairmagVANITY FAIR762823182
77@cw_networkCW Network700313183
78@bbcworldBBC World News2628573202
80@themomentThe Moment15805693413
81@socialmedia2daySocial Media Today345163510
83@washingtonpostThe Washington Post1496173636
84@tpmmediaTalking Points Memo154383678
87@cnnliveCNN Live392603793
88@davosWorld Economic Forum15087723891
89@planetmoneyNPR's Planet Money813093965
90@cnetnewsCNET News.com757303981
93@guardiannewsThe Guardian751984665
94@yahoonewsYahoo! News371544668
95@seedmagSeed Magazine98984696
96@tvguideTV Guide5862404757
97@travlandleisureTravel + Leisure840294767
98@newyorkpostNew York Post433344790
99@discovermagDISCOVER Magazine719134816
100@sciencenewsorgScience News756654888

Media Tsunami: How Much Media Should You Produce? How Much Is Too Much?

How much media content should I produce?

As a professional journalist this has been a question that I've struggled with over the past five years since leaving the Financial Times.

I can produce a lot of media content, and hopefully, it is all quality media content. But my concern is that if I produce too much it will cause my readers and subscribers to switch off because there is too much from one source.

I know that if some of my sources are too noisy on Twitter, Facebook, even on their blog or web site, I will switch them off because it is too much -- even if all their content is good. I don't want my readers doing the same to me.

This question of how much media is too much media is not just my concern, it should be a concern for others, especially companies. I've been writing about how every company is a media company, (EC=MC - the transformative equation for business) how every company has to get better at producing, distributing and responding to media content.

Media is important in establishing companies in their field, it is important in establishing their thought leadership. If you aren't seen by your potential customers then you don't exist.

But we have a media tsunami washing over us and this media tsunami is becoming ever larger as more people and companies discover how to produce ever more media. How do you stay relevant when there is an ever larger media tsunami crashing all around us all the time?

Do you produce more media? Do you add to the media tsunami hoping that your media will be seen as opposed to competitor's media?

The same questions apply to online advertising. And in online advertising the principle seems to be that more is better than less. That's why we are inundated with advertising that crawls across our screens blocking what we want to see; advertising that takes up ever more space on our displays; and advertising embedded in links in copy.

But there is a lesson here. More advertising is leading to less value per advertisement. More advertising is reducing advertising income for many online publishers because there are more places to advertise. More means less.

Does that apply to content? Does more media equate to less value? If a company produces too much media will that tire and turn off potential customers? There were 87 Old Spice videos in one day. Too much? Not enough?

I think it is too much. Even if every piece of media is quality content, I think that dealing with the media tsunami with your own media fire hose is the wrong approach.

No one is listening...

There is a very good lesson to be learned from a recent incident where Leo Laporte, a popular broadcaster, found that his Twitter stream wasn't broadcasting his Google Buzz posts. It took him more than two weeks to notice and he was upset that no one else noticed.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

This incident perfectly describes the media tsunami problem.

Louis Gray, who recently became VP of marketing for My6Sense, an Israeli based startup, wrote about Mr. Laporte's problem. He says it is an issue of engagement.

The person who shouts the loudest can get a lot of attention over a short time, but shouting is hard to listen to for long periods, and it is hard to sustain. You cannot replace engagement, true conversation, a give and take of ideas, and an exchange with a real community.

I agree that engagement is great if you can get it. But the media tsunami means that engagement becomes diluted.

Louis Gray has noticed that "many blog posts are getting no comments to fewer comments. Tweets are not getting replies. Shares on FriendFeed and Google Buzz that once got conversations in times of heightened awareness are lying fallow. Photos on SmugMug and Flickr are getting fewer views."

I think the answer lies right in front of Louis Gray and us all. I think that the right content will come to find us and not the other way around. If you create the right content, relevant to a person, it will find its way to them.

Loren Feldman from 1938Media hits the nail on the head in this quick video: Nobody Is Listening - 1938 Media

If you focus on creating media content that is relevant then it will find its way to the right people. And that will be true for advertising too.

And it will be very difficult to game media content. No amount of SEO or distribution via Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook, etc will matter. If the content isn't relevant it won't get through to me.

The same goes for advertising content. Imagine a world where your ad copy finds the right targets each time: you won't have to pay huge advertising costs. It will dramatically reduce marketing costs for many companies and they will be able to concentrate on making products and services relevant to their customers instead of worrying about how to reach potential customers.

Will this mean an end to marketing and PR? Probably not but it will reduce their importance.

The technology to do all of that is already here and available from several sources: My6sense, Genieo, and others. These are self-organizing filters, self-organizing curators of content that will bring you the right content at the right times.

We are still at the early stages of deployment but these technologies will come because they can, and because it is the only way to deal with the media tsunami.

- - -
Please see:

Genieo + My6Sense: The Media Tsunami And The Need For Self Organizing Filters...

Genieo's Sol Tzvi: Why Doesn't My PC Know Me?

My6Sense Launches Attention API

My6Sense iPhone App - Insightful Search

2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

Hulu Tops In Ad Views But Tenth In Online Viewers

As Hulu preps for an IPO comScore has released viewer numbers and related info for July 2010:

Property Total Unique Viewing Sessions Minutes per

Viewers (000) (000) Viewer

Total Internet : Total Audience 178,148 5,234,655 882.0

Google Sites 143,226 1,884,498 282.7

Yahoo! Sites 55,107 238,322 28.6 46,571 166,186 18.3

Microsoft Sites 45,558 219,149 40.2

VEVO 43,911 202,091 68.5

Fox Interactive Media 38,136 164,760 27.2

Turner Network 33,442 107,793 25.3

Viacom Digital 30,715 70,617 44.8

Disney Online 28,475 64,104 6.0

Hulu 28,455 153,845 158.0


Here is the breakout according to video ads viewed:

Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Video Ads* Viewed

Ranked by Video Ads Viewed

July 2010

Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix .

Property Video Ads % Reach Total Frequency

(000) U.S. Population (Ads per


Total Internet : Total Audience 3,559,928 26.8 44.5

Hulu 783,304 27.9 9.4

Tremor Media Video Network 451,864 8.0 19.0

BrightRoll Video Network 248,345 6.0 13.9

Microsoft Sites 232,256 9.1 8.5

Google Sites 219,326 4.6 15.9

Crosspoint Media 206,269 7.3 9.5

SpotXchange Video Ad Network 170,895 4.3 13.4

CBS Interactive 134,798 6.1 7.4

BBE** 120,179 4.5 8.9

Viacom Digital 110,810 5.4 6.9

Interesting facts:

- 84.9 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.

- The duration of the average online content video was 4.8 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.

- Video ads accounted for 9.8 percent of all videos viewed and 0.9 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

More info: comScore.

The data shows Hulu packing in video ads at nearly 28 per user or nearly 3 times the next closest: Microsoft sites at 9 per user and Google with about 5 per user. Hulu might not have the headroom to increase ads without alienating viewers.

Guest Post: Here's Why Google's Paywall Will Work (And The Times' Will Fail)

By Matthew Buckland -

Google has been quietly testing a new paywall system for publishers it is calling "Newspass". According to Italian newspaper [1] La Repubblica, Google has been piloting the service with publishers in Italy.

The search giant will apparently launch "an integrated payment system" allowing users to buy news content with just "one click". Newspass would allow publishers to use a single infrastructure for Web, mobile and tablet computers to monetise their content.

Importantly, La Repubblica reports that consumers will have a single log-in across a multitude of news sites that would be flexible enough to accommodate various kinds of payments, including long-term subscriptions and one-time micropayments. It would be a one-click payment for access, not too dissimilar from Google Checkout [2].

Paywalling systems on news sites have been controversial for a better part of a decade. There is justified scepticism about whether they work or not. A handful of publications around the world, largely in the specialist finance field, have got it more-or-less right, but for the most part, paywalls have not been a success.

Google's new effort is an acute case of Déjà vu. In the early 2000s many online publishers tried to paywall their content, but were forced to retreat in the face of what became known as the "web 2.0″ era. This saw a tidal wave of user generated content and blogging content hit the net, a source of traffic for publishers. Google News [4], an aggregator [5] of the formal online publishing sector and a big source of referral traffic, launched in 2001. Quite simply, publishers did not want to miss out on all the eyeballs that were being sent their way by putting paywalls in place.

Now, driven by a slowdown in advertising, a financial crisis and an inability to make significant revenue out of online advertising, the paywall debate has resurfaced with vigour -- with much of the noise coming from the Rupert Murdoch camp.

What's different about Newspass

Google's new initiative is however significantly different from the failed paywall attempts at the start of the decade. Its paywall initiative does not follow a silo approach which involves each individual online publication creating their own bespoke paywall and payment system. This, it could be argued, contributed to the failure of many paywall systems in the past because it was a barrier to entry, causing complication and admin for users who just wanted to get their story.

Google's initiative involves a comprehensive solution across multiple sites -- and a simpler, streamlined combined value proposition than many individual website paywalls. This is also a better fit with web content consumption behaviour patterns, because readers consume content across a broad range of sites. They don't like to be siloed to just a few publications -- that's the print world. A Newspass that grants access to multiple sites may just represent fair value for a user.

Take the analogy of satellite TV. You pay once and you get a bouquet of hundreds of channels. The transaction is simple and easy. You know you're getting good value for money too because there is an economy-of-scale effect at work. Now imagine another scenario: What if you have to pay individually for each TV channel and go through the effort, time and extra cost to do so. It's a no brainer really.

Whether Newspass will work really depends on the publishing sector and whether they embrace the initiative. If they take a combined decision under the auspices of global publishing bodies like the World Association of Newspapers [6] or IFRA to support the move, which then leads to rapid adoption, then it may work.

But if viewed with suspicion because it involves a third-party like Google or because publishers are keen to implement their own systems on an individual basis -- then, once again, paywall attempts will fail.

A colleague of mine once described Google as the "crack cocaine" of the online publishing industry. Many traditional online publications have a love-hate relationship with the search engine. On the one hand Google sends a rush of traffic, but on the other aggregates content that it does not pay for. Then there is the sticky issue of advertising. Google has the better model -- and one that disintermediates publishers from their advertisers. Quite simply, the online publishing industry has no idea what to do about it.

I'm a paywall skeptic, but I feel the pain of online publishers who want to generate more revenue to ultimately increase quality and value for their readers.

This, a third party, neutral service, offers the best chance of a paywall system working. Google is probably the only internet player able to implement such a broad-ranging initiative. Of course the news industry could come up with their own paywall system, but would the industry ever be able to come together to agree? A paywall system needs a dispassionate third party like Google.

Should there be a strong take up of Newspass in formal online publishing sector, you may eventually see publications clamour to be part of it -- because it may even become an indication of quality for the user. Then as more publications join, so the free options narrow for the user. Consequently users will find that there may be simply no choice but to buy a Google Newspass.

There is no shortage of content and distraction on the web. What's often harder to find is quality content. If Google's paywall initiative contributes to increasing quality, then it's good for the industry.

But whether Newspass will work or not is, well, entirely up to the publishing industry.

Article printed from memeburn:

TechEye: Twitter Bans UK Prime Minister's Office From Following People

Emma Woollacott at TechEye reports:

Exclusive: Downing Street is the third biggest Twit in the world - Many a twit makes a twat | TechEye

Twitter has banned the Prime Minister's office from 'following' any more individuals and organisations, after it gained the dubious honour of following the third highest number of people of any Twitter user in the world.

But Twitter has rules about this sort of thing - it calls it 'aggressive following' - as it's a tactic often used by attention-seekers and Viagra salesmen to increase their presence on the network.

A spokesman for Number 10 promised TechEye there was nothing sinister behind following so many people. He said the account had inadvertently been set up in such a way that anyone who elected to receive its messages was automatically followed in return.

...This time last year, David Cameron remarked that the reason he was not then using Twitter was that "too many twits might make a twat"

It's interesting that Twitter would ban a top government office under its spammer rules when clearly it can see that it's not a spammer -- at least not in the traditional sense. If Twitter were to start banning self-promotional messages half of its traffic would disappear instantly.

Genieo + My6Sense: The Media Tsunami And The Need For Self Organizing Filters...

It was great to catch up with Sol Tzvi, co-founder and CEO of a fascinating startup called Genieo. She's in town this week for meetings with several large companies interested in her company's technology.

Genieo installs on a PC and it helps you find all the news and information that is relevant to you from all your sources. It does this without needing any keywords or any specific settings from the user, and it works across all your computers and smartphones so it never duplicates content already seen.

I first met Ms. Tzvi earlier this year: Genieo's Sol Tzvi: Why Doesn't My PC Know Me?

Genieo is one solution to the media tsunami that is building into towering proportions.

The media is not dying, we now have more media, in more forms, at more times of the day and night than at anytime in our history -- and there's more to come as individuals and companies learn how to use inexpensive media technologies to produce and share masses of content (87 Old Spice videos in one day...). (Every company is a media company.)

Using old style filters to try and manage all this content won't work: it requires sophisticated algorithms that can manage all of this for us, transparently and in the background. These algorithms must also bring to us serendipitous content - the stuff we didn't know was there and thus can;t search for - another reason why traditional keyword filters are of little use.

Last week I met with another favorite entrepreneur, Barak Hachamov, co-founder of My6Sense - an iPhone application that seeks to do the same as Genieo but takes a different approach.

Mr Hachamov says that there is tremendous interest in the My6Sense API. Many companies are very eager to add My6sense capabilities to their online services. I can't reveal the names of the interested parties but they are household names.

There are other companies that have similar capabilities but different approaches. One of these is Sidebar, which offers technology for e-commerce sites serving mobile users.

These are all part of a very important trend because without such solutions we will drown in the media tsunami, and we won't be able to find the content that we want to see. Without such solutions the Internet is a giant mess where search doesn't help much: search only works if you know what to look for.

We need systems that know us and work for us.

The Media Tsunami And Old Spice Videos...

At the beginning of 2010 I resisted making predictions but I couldn't help myself and wrote 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

I predicted that we will have tsunami of media in all forms/formats all vying for our attention. Which is why companies need to become media companies, in addition to their base business, because they need to be visible as much as possible. (Please see: EC=MC)

The Old Spice videos prove that the media tsunami is much closer than we might think: ReadWriteWeb reported that 87 were made in a single day.

What if every brand in your bathroom did the same? What if every brand in your house did the same? We will be inundated with media. We will face a huge problem: how do we communicate essential information over "cosmetic" information?

What does it mean to be a media company? Does it mean producing 87 videos in one day? How much media is too much media?

These are just some of the many questions we have to answer. The good news is that we can all help to create the answers.

MediaWatch Monday: Page Views Is The Message At Major Newspapers

In May I wrote: MediaWatch: Journalists Won't Report News Unless It Can Drive Page Views

Lou Hoffman from The Hoffman Agency points out this article from the New York Times:

In Online Journalism, Burnout Starts Younger -


Tracking how many people view articles, and then rewarding -- or shaming -- writers based on those results has become increasingly common in old and new media newsrooms. The Christian Science Monitor now sends a daily e-mail message to its staff that lists the number of page views for each article on the paper's Web site that day.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all display a "most viewed" list on their home pages. Some media outlets, including Bloomberg News and Gawker Media, now pay writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles.


At Gawker Media's offices in Manhattan, a flat-screen television mounted on the wall displays the 10 most-viewed articles across all Gawker's Web sites. The author's last name, along with the number of page views that hour and over all are prominently shown in real time on the screen, which Gawker has named the "big board."

"Sometimes one sees writers just standing before it, like early hominids in front of a monolith," said Nick Denton, Gawker Media's founder. Mr. Denton said not all writers have warmed to the concept. "But the best exclusives do get rewarded," he added, noting that bonuses for writers are calculated in part based on page views.

This brings up an issue I raised in January:

The Killer Pitch? - When PR Agencies Can Do This - Look Out . . . - SVW

The killer pitch is simple: "Write a story about my client and we will help drive page views to your story."

Fortunately, PR firms don't know how to reliably drive page views -- at least not yet. But once they figure it out look out because journalists will be tempted to work with those PR agencies that help determine their paychecks.

There is also another sinister side to "page view journalism." If you know how to drive page views to a story, you can also drive page views away from a story. If a journalist writes an unfavorable story then a PR agency could help to diminish the "public" aspect of that story.

The danger of page view journalism is that money will be used to determine what you read, see and hear. And that's because the economics of journalism is determined today by page views. Change the economics and you change the story.

The medium is not the message. In today's media: page views is the message.

EE Times Relaunches With An Army Of Moderators

Monday evening I was moderating a panel on social media in the semiconductor industry and one of the panelists was Paul Miller, CEO of EE Times Group, a large electronics trade publisher with 1.1 million electronics industry decision makers.

EE Times this week completed a relaunch with a strong emphasis on user content. It has 70 moderators with a goal of recruiting more than 400 moderators.

"We're putting user content at the same level of importance as editorial content," said Mr Miller. "We are the only ones doing something like this."

The move reflects the importance of readers trusting the opinions of other readers. "Engineers like to help each other. But it is important to have high quality content and that's why we believe moderators are important to our success."

EE Times is an interesting media company to watch because it is one of the old school publishers, nearly 40 years old. It has worked hard to reinvent itself and it seems to be paying off.

"We're having our best year in a decade," says Mr Miller. "The pendulum has swing back towards what we are doing and companies are beginning to spend again."

EE Times Group has bolstered its business through many savvy acquisitions. Since 2007, Mr. Miller has spent more than $50m on acquisitions that include events and also a legal services firm in the IP area.

I mentioned that when people ask me what the new media business model will be I say it is a "Heinz 57" model -- 57 varieties of revenues.

"I totally agree," he says. "Some people think Africa is one country but it's a large collection of countries and cultures and that's how varied our business model has become."

He also said, "Content creation is hard. Finding interesting things to write about is very difficult. I have a new appreciation for content creators and we have begun hiring back some people as editors."

- - -

Additional Info:

EE Times unveils network redesign, resurrection of Electronic Buyer's News |

EE Times launches new website | Napier News

Paul Miller (Stumpy1964) on Twitter

MediaWatch Monday: Newspaper Paywalls Are Freemium Business Models

Newspaper paywalls have been criticized by lots of people in the Geek communities and also by popular journalism bloggers such as Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen but they follow the best practices of "Freemium" business models used by thousands of tech startups.

Freemium has been a successful strategy used by many tech companies. Please see: Emergence Capital: Profitable Lessons From Freemium Business Models - SVW. And: Case Studies in Freemium: Pandora, Dropbox, Evernote, Automattic and MailChimp

Freemium is based on a simple plan: give away a great service for free and up-sell some users to a paid subscription service.

Yet strangely, newspapers are facing huge amounts of criticism for trying to follow a freemium business model.

Clay Shirkey at The Guardian:

"Everyone's waiting to see what will happen with the paywall - it's the big question. But I think it will underperform. On a purely financial calculation, I don't think the numbers add up."

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine:

"Rupert Murdoch has declared surrender. The future defeated him. By building his paywall around Times Newspapers, he has said that he has no new ideas to build advertising."

Surely, it is good for newspapers to explore new business models and they should be encouraged. I've long been an advocate of what I call a "Heinz 57" business model for newspapers. Their future will be defined by how well their publishers can manage multiple revenue streams from a range of sources from advertising to virtual currencies.

Please see: The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model - SVW

Tim Gentry, head of optimization and effectiveness at the Guardian:

"It's all about working out what's right for different businesses. There isn't one right and one wrong path, the fact we are committed to keeping our main site free doesn't mean we don't charge for some digital features."

David Mitchell's recent column:

Rupert Murdoch may be evil, but that doesn't mean his paywall is. The media mogul has been dismissed for introducing his Times paywall, but what if it actually works?

If newspapers are to survive they should be encouraged to try many business models.

- - -


Oriella Survey: Journalists Are Working Harder, Better, Faster, Longer

The Oriella PR network concluded its third annual survey of journalists. This year the survey was expanded beyond Western Europe to Eastern Europe, the US and Brazil. More than 770 journalists in 21 countries responded.

Here are some key findings:

- Nearly half of the respondents (46 percent) to this year’s study said they are expected to produce more content than before.

- One in three (30 percent) are working longer hours.

- Nearly half (46 percent) said their work has improved as a result of digital and social media – an increase from 39 percent in 2009.

- Just 17 percent said their job satisfaction had declined as a result.

Many have concerns over the economic effects on their profession:

- Forty percent of the respondents expect advertising revenues to fall by more than a tenth.

- Over half of the respondents expressed the belief that their publications’ current offline formats may fold at some point in the future (2009 figure: 32 percent).

- 40 percent – and more than half of those polled in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Brazil and Eastern Europe - believed that the transition to new media would create new opportunities.

Their employers are looking for new forms of revenue:

- growing numbers of publications are researching, or have implemented paid-content strategies. Nearly one respondent in four (22 percent) said their publication is researching or has launched smart phone apps in order to deliver paid-content to mobile users.

- 16 percent are researching paid-content for iPads and e-readers.

-Twenty-five percent said their publication is considering flat-rate subscriptions and nearly a third (30 percent) only offer online content to existing print subscribers.

- Fewer than 15 percent of the journalists surveyed said their publications support no social or digital media at all – down from nearly a quarter two years ago.

- Adoption of blogs and Twitter has continued to grow, with 47 percent saying their publications have journalist-authored blogs, and 40 percent saying their publications use Twitter.

Shannon Latta, co-head of the Oriella PR Network and partner at Horn Group, said: “It is clear that publications see the greatest opportunities in their digital operations – not just in terms of offering new platforms for publishing content, but also in terms of making that content pay.”

Ms. Latta added:"As these changes play out in newsrooms, communicators should expect journalists to become more demanding: their content needs to be high quality to attract the revenues media bosses expect."

Her conclusion that journalists will be focused on high quality content runs counter to the current pressure on journalists to "pump" stories out and the move toward large scale "content farms" where large amounts of low quality content is created.

The problem with the current page view economic model is that a page view is a page view and there is no reward for quality.

(The full report can be downloaded from: (registration required).)
Additional Info:

The Oriella PR Network is an alliance of 17 communications agencies in 20 countries around the world.

Loren Feldman - East Coast Critic Of Tech Media Worth Following

I’m a big fan of Loren Feldman and his 1938Media site because he calls the Emperor's new clothes more often than anyone I know.

He is not everyone’s cup of tea but there are many people that support his views but can’t come out publicly because of their position in PR, or within tech companies, where support for Loren could be used against them, and has been used against them. Merely retweeting someone else retweeting a Loren post has gotten at least one person I know into trouble.

He also has a hilarious sock puppet show series that spoofs many well known personalities.


Dave Winer

Julia Allison

Larry and Sergey


Mark Zuckerberg

Mike Arrington

Pete Cashmore

Salaam E. Baloney



Steve Ballmer

Waltr Kronkyte

Loren is part entertainer, part astute commentator, especially on the West Coast tech scene, and the publications that cover them. He has been critical of Michael Arrington, the publisher of Techcrunch many times, and also of “Business Insider” the New York city based publication edited by Henry Blodget, the infamous Merril Lynch analyst; a superstar analyst of the dotcom boom years but now barred from the securities industry.

Here is Loren Feldman’s latest post critical of Business Insider and Henry Blodget. I recommend you follow him on Twitter:

ComScore: NYTimes 31% More Readers Of Nearest Online Newspaper

ComScore's latest report on audience for online newspapers shows:

- More than 123 million Americans visited newspaper sites in May, representing 57 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience.

- New York Times has a huge lead with more than 32 million visitors and 719 million pages.

- Tribune Newspapers ranked second in terms of audience with 24.8 million visitors.


Top Newspaper Groups

May 2010

Total U.S. - Home & Work Locations

Source: comScore Media Metrix


Total Unique Total Pages Average Pages

Visitors Viewed per Visitor

(000) (MM)

Total Internet : Total Audience 215,691 592,519 2,747

Newspapers 123,897 5,339 43

The New York Times Brand 32,530 719 22

Tribune Newspapers 24,753 359 14

Advance Internet 18,053 326 18

USA Today Sites 16,771 154 9 16,677 178 11

McClatchy Corporation 13,987 216 15

MediaNews Group 13,362 141 11 12,502 122 10

Hearst Newspapers 12,017 195 16

Wall Street Journal Online 11,325 115 10


Foremski's Take: These results show high demand for news but the frustration for newspaper companies is that high reader numbers don't translate into revenues that can support their business of news gathering. This is the paradox of the newspaper business because high readership used to translate into higher revenues.

Jeff Hackett, comScore senior vice president, said:

"The issue is not attracting the eyeballs, but rather demonstrating the true value of those eyeballs to advertisers. As advertising rates for digital move closer into line with those of traditional media, the economics of the news business should begin to look a lot more promising."

However, advertising rates as a whole are not moving "closer into line with those of traditional media." Advertising rates are falling, they are moving more into line with the least expensive online rates. That's the key problem for newspapers because as they transition to a digital business model the advertising rates are falling. You can't get there from here.

Although comScore has found that viewers respond better to display advertising on a newspaper site, convincing enough advertisers to pay more is difficult.

More information here: The New York Times Ranks as Top Online Newspaper According to May 2010 U.S. comScore Media Metrix Data - comScore, Inc

EC=MC: Edelman Hires FT Journalist, Preaches Media Publishing To Clients

Thanks to everyone for pointing me to this article at The Independent, the UK newspaper:

PR stunt or the new journalism?: The titans of public relations are going direct to viewers and readers - Press, Media - The Independent

...Sambrook is convinced that Edelman's clients must take their message directly to the consumer. "The mantra is that every company has to be a media company in their own right, telling their own stories not just through websites but through branded entertainment, video, iPad and mobile applications," he says.

Here are some more extracts:

At the forefront of this change is Edelman, an American-owned PR firm with 51 offices around the world. When in February Edelman hired Richard Sambrook, the former head of BBC News, the audacious appointment caused surprise in all disciplines of the media.

It wasn't just that Sambrook was a corporation stalwart of 30 years standing, but that Edelman had given him an intriguing new title: Chief Content Officer. Last week the company went further by hiring as its new head of strategy the influential business journalist Stefan Stern, a marquee name on the Financial Times.

All good stuff.

However, knowing how I know PR people to be, they love to control every message. Journalists are trained to be fair in their reporting and question the claims of companies and executives. That's not something you'll find within Edelman or any of the large PR agencies.

PR agencies need to change too. Simply hiring journalists without changing their internal culture won't change a thing.

Please see: Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.

NYTimes Picks News Provider For SF Bay Area Edition With No Track Record

This is bizarre. The Bay Citizen, a news organization funded by billionaire Warren Hellman, which has no track record because it just started publishing one week ago, will start to provide news to the New York Times for its San Francisco/Bay Area edition.

The Bay Citizen will be competing against local journalists for prime spots in the local edition of the New York Times.

"The mission of The Bay Citizen is to enhance civic and community news coverage in the Bay Area, stimulate innovation in journalism, and foster civic engagement."

How this helps that mission is puzzling.

Why is this organization better than local news organizations that already have a track record? There are plenty of local SF and Bay Area news organizations already in existence, plus plenty of freelance journalists, already working on "civic and community news coverage," already fostering "civic engagement."

Why is Mr Hellman's millions being used to compete against many local newspapers, many serving local ethnic communities? How is this "saving" journalism? What do we get that we don't already have?

Bay Area Citizen pays its publisher a salary of $400K a year, and its Editor, Jonathan Weber won't reveal his salary, but I would guess it is at least $300K.

The Bay Citizen, a non profit, is also seeking donations from people to help fund its news organization. Clearly, $5 million from Mr Hellman is not enough, especially when the bulk goes on just two people's salaries. Community journalism my foot, this is a joke.

We need a true community journalism startup that could become a blueprint for other communities. Highly paid publishers and editors is part of what is wrong with the current model for local newspapers.

- - -
Please see:

Is the Future Of News Dependent On The Generosity Of Billionaire Philanthropists?

No Future For Philanthropic News - The Math Doesn't Add Up

BusinessWire Study: Only 13.5% Put Links In Press Releases

A couple of months ago I published a rant: 4 Years Since 'Die! Press Release Die!...' And STILL No Hyperlinks.

...I get emails with pitches from PR people that don't even have any links! I have to search for the company web sites they are pitching, and for any other references they put into the pitch.
Same with press releases, there are very few links in press releases.
Also, PR people will ask if their clients can contribute a guest post. I love to get good guest posts. Yet often there are no links in the copy! Am I supposed to do the work and put the links in myself?

BusinessWired, the blog of Businesswire, recently conducted a "PR Peeps Poll" and found that 85% of 268 people use hyperlinks. However, that's a self-selected group. The actual number is far less.

...internal research of the Business Wire file of approximately 1,000 press releases each work day, suggests otherwise. By our reckoning, only 13.5% of press release issuers use hyperlinks to drive traffic or amplify their messages in the context of their press releases.

Of the people that were polled that don't hyperlink, 13% ticked the box: "Just didn't think about it;" 12% "I don't know how;" and 12% "Didn't see the point." 2% had no idea what a hyperlink is.

Several people told me that a lot of people don't know how to embed a link. Great, I'll charge $1200 a head for a workshop that will turn people into hyperlinking wizards. Email me, places are filling up fast.

MediaWatch Monday: Twitter Censorship Of #Flotilla Tag? And Circuit Breakers On Viral Media...

The Israeli interception of a flotilla of boats carrying aid to Gaza sparked a furor on Twitter with people spreading the news of deaths, injuries, and protesting the action, using the Twitter hashtag #flotilla to group all the messages.

However, that hashtag stopped working for an undetermined period earlier today. Was Twitter censoring the #flotilla hashtag because most of the Tweets were critical of Israel? That was the view of many Twitter users.

Charles Arthur at Did Twitter censor the #flotilla hashtag following the Israel attack? | Technology | around 11am, as #flotilla began "trending" - rising to the topmost-used hashtags on the service - it seemed to vanish.

Was this censorship by Twitter? Quite a few asked the question.

Matthew Ingram, a reporter for GigaOM, tweeted: "Twitter spokesman says problem with #flotilla hashtag was a "short-term technical issue" that is being investigated."

It seems that the problem was likely due to anti-spam filters being triggered (The mystery of the disappearing #flotilla on Twitter [Updated]).

However, I'm wondering if future news distribution services might be required to carry filters of another kind, ones that would seek to dampen down news dissemination if it could result in great distress.

Israel, and its activities in the Middle East, is an emotional subject that drives many people to action, both pro, and those anti-Israeli policies. For example, here in San Francisco, large crowds are already gathering to protest the flotilla attacks. Similarly, there will be pro-Israel demonstrators there too.

What will happen in the future, when news dissemination is far faster, far more viral, and the subject might be something which could trigger in riots, violence, or other possible distress, to a society or region?

Misinformation within such a future scenario could be extremely damaging, and misinformation is highly likely because there are organizations that would benefit from such tactics. By the time any information is checked and verified and put into context, etc, the damage could already be done.

The stock market has "circuit breakers" that halt trading if the market falls too far and too fast. The goal is to avoid problems from automated trading systems that react to bad news and all try to sell stock at once, lowering the price and setting off even more sales, in a massive avalanche of sell orders.

I can foresee the possibility that any news dissemination service, such as Twitter, might in the future be required to have "circuit breakers" that would stop the sudden dissemination of news so that it can be checked, verified, and put into context by news organizations, by journalists putting the story together, trying to be truthful and objective.

Journalists have done that job for a very long time, taking time to evaluate, check sources, and then publish. Too bad we are losing that tradition. We might be faced with a much more volatile world in the near future.

Are Foxconn Suicides Misrepresented By Media? Employees Are Far Less Likely To Committ Suicide

Patrick Mattimore, a fellow at the Institute for Analytic Journalism, recently published the following article on China’s People’s Daily Online, headlined: Media badly misplaying Foxconn suicides.

Taiwanese-owned Foxconn has had seven suicides this year. That sounds like a lot, but the firm has an estimated 800,000 workers, more than 300,000 of them at a single plant in Shenzhen.

Although exact figures are hard to come by, even the most conservative estimate for China’s suicide rate is 14 per 100,000 per year (World Health Organization). In other words, Foxconn’s suicide epidemic is actually lower than China’s national average of suicides.

I checked his figures. World Health Organization suicide figures for China (1999) are 13 males and 14.8 females per 100,000 people.

Elderly (65+ years) suicide rates can be as much as 50% higher than youth (18 to 24 years), which means Foxconn’s suicide rate, with its younger workforce, should be significantly below the national average.

Let’s estimate an average of 10 suicides per 100,000 at Foxconn. Just the Shenzhen Foxconn plant alone, with its 330,000 employees, would be expected to have about 33 suicides this year, or 14 so far.

Foxconn has had just 10 suicides this year, and that’s across its entire workforce.

Working at Foxconn dramatically reduces people’s risk of suicide!

Mr Mattimore is right, the media is misrepresenting the facts. He writes:

The larger problem stems from the fact that most journalists have not been taught to critically examine statistics. They follow the herd which often means that they report numbers without providing readers a context for making sense of those numbers.

Hopefully, the public will wake up to the fact that there is nothing wrong at Foxconn and demand that newspapers act more responsibly and begin supplying some context when they decide to instigate their next corporate suicide watch.

- - -
Additional info:

Researching and developing non-traditional analytic methods and communications tools for journalism.

Statistical resources for journos

UoMichigan Statistical Resources on the Web

Unifying Theory/Methodology for Journalism and the Social Sciences? [JTJ]

MediaWatch: Journalists Won't Report News Unless It Can Drive Page Views

Sam Whitmore is the best media watcher around, he regularly talks to the press as part of his research for the excellent Sam Whitmore's Media Survey, which is heavily used by all the large PR agencies.

I was at a recent panel moderated by Sam Whitmore that discussed pageviews and the effect on journalism. Although nothing much emerged from that event, it is an important issue, and Sam has been collecting more information on this topic.

From ITMemos:

Sam Whitmore reports:

It's now a luxury for a reporter to write a story about an obscure but important topic. That used to be a job requirement. Now it's a career risk.

Example: let's say an interesting startup has a new and different idea. Many reporters now won't touch it because (a) the story won't generate page views, and (b) few people search on terms germane to that startup. Potential SEO performance is now a key factor in what gets assigned.

Two reporters from two different publications this month both told us the same thing: if you want to write a story on an interesting but obscure topic, you had better feed the beast by writing a second story about the iPad or Facebook or something else that delivers page views and good SEO.

Page view journalism also means that smaller companies will be crowded out by their larger competitors. And with the current media tsunami out there, if you aren't seen by your potential customers, you don't exist.

All the more reason why companies must also generate their own media, to make up for the shrinkage of the independent media industry. (When Every Company Is A Media Company...)

It's not the journalists who are at fault, it is their management, and their management is merely following the actual economics of online journalism. The management shouldn't be following but trying to anticipate the changing economics of online journalism.

The dirty little secret of journalism's focus on page views is that the value of each page view is decreasing, because the value of online advertising is decreasing. This means it's a strategy that will likely lead to failure. Media organizations need to adopt a multi-revenue business model, or what I call a Heinz 57 model.

Multi-revenues means incorporating lead generation, affiliate marketing, custom advertising packages, virtual currencies, and more.

The rise of page view journalism brings other dangers. In January I wrote:

The Killer Pitch? - When PR Agencies Can Do This - Look Out ...'s a killer pitch. It's one that I haven't heard yet but it's only a matter of time.

" ... and we have the ability to drive a lot of traffic to your story."

In a world where reporters are increasingly rewarded not on the quality of their work but on how much traffic their stories attract -- this becomes the killer pitch.

Journalists will increasingly be tempted to work with those agencies that help them drive page views. Luckily, PR companies haven't figured out how to reliably drive traffic to a specific story beyond submitting it to Digg, etc. But that will change.

Update: Journalists shouldn't have to depend on PR firms to bring them stories with a potential to drive traffic, they should be able to craft their own interesting angles on stories.

I love taking a story that might not seem to be very interesting at first sight, or taking a story that everyone thinks they know and writing it in an original way that makes it interesting.

For example, the Foxconn suicides story has received a lot of coverage lately. But I managed to marry it with an older story about suicides at France Telecom and create an original news story. Both are "old" news stories but together they make for a dynamite headline and news copy:

Suicides At France Telecom Are 5 Times Higher Than At Foxconn -The Human Cost Of Cheap Bandwidth And Gadgets?

- - -

Please see: Every Company is a Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.

Journalists And Programmers Build 12 News Apps In One Weekend...

Burt Herman organized a fascinating event this past weekend, bringing together journalists and software engineers to produce news apps for the iPad.

The first ever Hacks/Hackers event produced 12 apps in just 30 hours, and a panel of judges picked the two best apps: "An iPad application to make news exciting for kids and a location-aware web application where users react to news stories about their legislators."

Burt Herman is the founder of Hacks/Hackers - a group that meets every month to discuss the overlap of technology and journalism, a subject that greatly interests me. For years I have been predicting the emergence of a new type of profession: media engineer - part hack (journalist) and part hacker (software engineer).

Mr Herman said:""The future of journalism is about experimentation and being open to new ideas, and bringing people from diverse disciplines together to think creatively and work together. The journalists and technologists easily found a common dialogue and collaborated to build impressive projects in a short time."

Here is a list of all the apps:

Here is a more detailed description of the winning apps:

-Citizen Kid News: an iPad app that provides a visually dynamic and accessible framework for kids to safely explore and interact with the news. Top kid-appealing news content is curated on a daily basis, in 5 categories: Animals, World, Science, Sports and Entertainment. A photographic touch interface provides a window into each story, and kids can select stories for further exploration that includes additional text, photos, video and audio. The app incorporates game mechanics to encourage participation: kids earn points for commenting on articles, viewing videos about the reporter's process, and eventually contributing their own articles. Kids earn badges along the way, starting with "Cub Reporter" and culminating with "Editor".

-Who's Reppin' Me?: a Web-based app that feeds users news stories about their political representatives based on location. Users can then send Tweets to lawmakers to express their approval or disapproval of their actions. The app is online at

Hacks/Hackers coming to NYC on June 2 | Hacks/Hackers

Google TV - So What? The Distributors Have All The Control

I can't get excited by Google TV because no matter how fine the box is, no matter how great the wired and wireless connectivity, or the user interface, at the end of the day it's all about how good is the content and not about how good is the box.

Who controls the best content? It's the distributors. It's the major TV and cable channels.

Do people rave about how great their TV is? They rave about "Lost," "American Idol," they rave about content first. The geek community is the only community that raves about the specs of a box. That will only get you to "on" then what?

Take a look at what happened at Hulu, the Comedy Channel pulled its popular The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. There's still plenty of content on Hulu, but it's long tail stuff, old reruns of once popular shows, etc.

You can now watch HBO online, but only if you are a cable TV subscriber.

The organizations that control distribution control where it can be seen and they can change their preferences whenever they want, it has nothing to do with the box. Even Hulu controls where it can be seen, we've seen the problems Boxee had with Hulu.

The distributors control what you can and cannot watch online.

This is why Apple has described Apple TV as a "hobby" because it's a limited platform, it's limited to what you have on your computer or that can be downloaded from iTunes.

Will things change? It would be great if everything were online, everything ever created, every film, every TV show, everything we see on cable TV could be just an IP address away from our couch.

But that would be incredibly disruptive since we would only pay for what we wanted and nothing else. We wouldn't be subsidizing sports channels, for example, if we never watch sports.

Pick-and-watch would dramatically lower our bills it would be disruptive. And that's why we won't get to that utopian world because the TV and cable distributors don't want to be disrupted. And who can blame them? I certainly don't like the way that the newspaper industry is being disrupted but I'm not in a position to do much about it -- they are.

- - -
Here is a Pearltree about Google TV - you can explore what others have said and Google's official announcement.

The Demise Of Blogs?

In August of 2009 I asked: 5yrs: Lessons and Insights: Where Have All The Blogs Gone?

It seems others are now noticing it too. Stowe Boyd writes Are Blogs Dying?

He cites Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb on the demise of's blog search: R.I.P. World's Greatest Blogsearch

Also, Bruce Sterling, Dead Media Beat: blog search

The blogs are still there but they don't look like blogs. Gawker, Gizmodo, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, Techcrunch, VentureBeat, etc, all used to be called blogs and some people still call them blogs but they are online news magazines.

Does this mean that the "new" media might be vulnerable to displacement by a new generation of "blogs" in the same way they themselves displaced the older generation of news sites?

- - -

Please see: O'Brien: Facebook needs to break its cycle of backlash - San Jose Mercury News

Hacks And Hackers Unite This Weekend...

I'm planning on attending this unique meeting at the offices of KQED in San Francisco: Hacks/Hackers Unite

It is an event bringing together journalists and developers and the goal of the weekend long event is to create a killer media application for the iPad and other tablet computers.

This event will be both a coding development camp and a journalistic boot camp. Teams of hacks (content creators) and hackers (developers and designers) will cooperate to tell develop media applications for the iPad and tablets that help inform, enlighten and tell stories for the public good. You can also build tablet-based tools for journalists.

REGISTER NOW (breakfast and lunch for both days included in price)
Each team must have at least one hack and hacker each. If you don't already have a team, we will have some activities to help you find one at the event. Also, find potential collaborators and propose, browse, and discuss ideas here. NEW: Here's a public wiki to also share ideas and find teams.

The apps will be judged by a panel that includes:

Harjeet Taggar, venture partner at Y Combinator; Andrew Fitzgerald, online news producer at Current TV; David Weekly, founder of Hacker Dojo and PBworks; and Craig Miller, senior editor of KQED Climate Watch.

I'm a big supporter of these types of cross-professional links. I'm hopeful that we will get a new types of professions: media engineer and media architect - part journalist and part coder.

The even will also have talks by:

Tony Deifell, Q Media labs, director, author of The Big Thaw: Charting a New Course for Journalism

David Weekly, Hacker Dojo, founding director, and PBworks, founder, chairman and chief product officer

Harjeet Taggar, Y Combinator, venture partner

Tim Olson, KQED, vice president of digital media and education

Daniel Jacobson, NPR, director of application development, digital media

Andrew Fitzgerald, Current TV, online news producer

Bruce Koon, KQED, news director

Craig Miller, KQED Climate Watch, senior editor

Jonathan Tepper, Demotix, COO and founder

Maya Baratz, MTV, product manager

Lanita Pace, Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley, director

The event is the idea of Burt Herman, who also leads the Hacks/Hackers -- Journalism meets technology group.

The Gordian Knot of Online News Media...

Frédéric Filloux, a former newspaper editor turned VC, has written a good criticism of the "citizen journalist" concept, that non-professional journalists can replace their professional counterparts.

In The Oxymoronic Citizen Journalism | Monday Note, he writes:

First, would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid’s neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn’t. You would not trust a citizen dentist either for your cavities. Or even a people’s car repairman. Then, for information, why in hell would we accept practices we wouldn’t even contemplate for our health (OK, big issue), or for our washing machine?

While he states the very obvious, in his post he does layout the criteria for quality journalism, something that few "citizen" journalists can hope to match.

He also does a good job in explaining that Google's investments in data centers are more profitable than investments in news rooms (which is why it won't buy the New York Times, as many have suggested).:

Google spends five times more each year for its datacenters than the New York Times spends for its entire newsroom). Part of the reason is the return on such an investment. Financially speaking, the news business is not very appealing. See for yourself in this revenue per employee table.
Google being the 100 index :
News Corp:………..47
Washington Post:…19
NYTimes:…………. 22

However, he doesn't discuss the economics of online news content (although he does in prior posts see:Digital Takeover, The Fairfax way | Monday Note )

The reason we see the ascent of the citizen journalist over the professional journalist, is the economics of the business. The Huffington Post has been very successful but that's because it keeps its costs down and tries to corral as much free content as it can -- the New York Times employs more people to moderate comments than the HuffPo employs professional editors and journalists.

The Washington Post is trying to learn from HuffPo, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports: WaPo wades into HuffPo’s unpaid content model. And other newspapers are taking a similar approach.

Yes, we do need more quality journalism and content of all types but the economics of this business won't support it. Citizen journalist is just code for "free content."

Demand Media and Associated Content, get a lot of criticism because they pay contributors very little money. They use their algorithms to estimate the lifetime ad revenues of a piece of content, such as a "how to..." video and then pay the contributors a piece of that estimate.

[Please see: Interview With Patrick Keane - Associated Content . . . And The True Value Of Online Content - SVW]

They have been criticized for taking advantage of contributors and general dumbing down of online content but Demand Media and Associated Content merely reflect the stark realities of the economics of online content.

This means that traditional media is facing a huge transition, to an online business model that cannot support its legacy structure. In Maine, there is a phrase: "You can't get there from here." It never made sense to me until I started applying it to the media industry's transition to a digital business model.

How do we improve the economics of the media industry so that it doesn't destroy itself trying to make the transition to an online business model?

This is one of the most important questions we face as a society. It's important because without a quality media industry we will be faced with garbage content. How will we make important decisions?

Software engineers have a phrase: garbage in, garbage out. That's what we face. We are faced with so many important decisions: on the economy, education, employment, environment, energy ... and those are just the subjects that begin with "e." What about all the others?

Ted Nelson, an early computer pioneer said, "Like fish live in water we live in media." We have more media now than ever before. How will we get the quality media we need to make the right decisions? (By the way, quality media includes citizen journalists -- the future is about a holy trinity of sorts: professional journalists, citizen journalists and smart machine media (search algorithms).

This is the Gordian Knot of our times, figuring out how to create the economics of quality media. Whoever manages to slice the knot open will get the glory, but more than that, we all win because we can all follow the model. If it's Rupert Murdoch with his paywalls, or some other combination of paywalls, ads, lead gen, or what I call the "Heinz 57" media business model, we all benefit from a media industry that rises above the garbage media that is currently flooding our lives.

- - -
Please see:

"Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

Non-Profit News Funding - We Need A Sustainable Business Model Not Handouts

Cherry picking advertising and not paying for the journalism

We need a Google AdSense on steroids: The Grand Challenge of Internet 2.0

Pearltrees Launches Super-Embed Version At Web 2.0

I've been doing some work with Pearltrees, which has become my favorite curation tool because it is a very good media technology -- it allows me to publish a visual representation of web sites and how they are connected.

Pearltrees just got better with the launch of a new version that allows you to embed a live window (below). The great thing about Pearltrees is that you can take my Pearltree and add it to yours. If I update my Pearltree you see the update immediately.

Pearltrees is at the Web 2.0 Expo this week and has been chosen for the Launch Pad program, which highlights five of the best companies at the trade show.

Here is my Pearltree of the Web 2.0 Expo. I'll be making new ones for each day of the show.

Yahoo Tries Yet Again With Original Editorial Content

Mike Shields at MediaWeek reports:

Yahoo is on the verge of hiring more traditional journalists as it plans to aggressively beef up original content for its top verticals, including news, business and entertainment.

...That identity has already begun taking shape as Yahoo has hired a handful of journalism veterans to expand on Yahoo News, including former editor Russ Walker, the site's new politics editor; Andrew Golis of Talking Points Memo, who is assembling a team of news-hungry bloggers; and ABC News veteran Anna Robertson, now Yahoo News' director of multimedia and social media.

Foremski's Take: This isn't the first time Yahoo has tried to build an in-house editorial team producing original news content. For example, it used to have a large business news group, with its own TV studio producing financial news throughout the day. That was an expensive venture, one that got dumped entirely when the dotcom boom turned bomb.

Yahoo then tried again. It hired Patrick Houston in May 2005, former CNET editor-in-Chief, as VP of Content and Programming. Mr Houston built a content division with original stories in tech gadgets and tech news.

I remember sharing a taxi with Mr Houston in New York and asking how things were going. He said things were great but he worried that Yahoo management didn't understand the cost of original editorial.

He was right because in February 2008, Yahoo gutted the media group and Mr Houston went on to join Netshelter Technology Media.

It looks as if Yahoo is trying again, but again, it will run into the same problems: having to justify the high cost of editorial content in a world where the economics of original content is defined by companies such as Demand Media and Associated Content, which can determine the lifetime earnings of any piece of content using an algorithm.

When Yahoo needs to cut costs, editorial costs will always look more expensive than running software and servers.

And that's the problem with trying to build news businesses within businesses that don't understand the costs of producing original news.

And that's why Google will never acquire a newspaper such as the New York Times. That would be a disaster because Google knows how to manage servers and software, it doesn't know how to manage newsrooms.

Yahoo, again, faces the same challenge. Will it again, face the same end game?

The Curation Buzz... And PearlTrees

My buddy Dave Galbraith is the first person I remember to first start talking about curation and the Internet, several years ago. He even named his company Curations, and created a tool/site for curation: Wists. And his site SmashingTelly - is great example of curation, a hand-picked collection of great videos.

Today, much is written about curation and the Internet but it all seems mostly talk because we don't really have the tools we need. Curation seems to be just a new way to describe things like blogging and "Editor's Picks."

Robert Scoble writes about The Seven Needs of Real-Time Curators

"... who does curation? Bloggers, of course, but blogging is curation for Web 1.0."

Reading Robert Scoble's post on curation, it almost seemed as if he were describing PearlTrees, a company I've recently been working with in an advisory role, when he talks about "info atoms and molecules."

...what are info atoms? A tweet is an atom. A photo on Flickr is an atom. A conversation item on Google Buzz is an atom. A Facebook status message is an atom. A YouTube video is an atom.

Thousands of these atoms flow across our screens in tools like Seesmic, Google Reader, Tweetdeck, Tweetie, Simply Tweet, Twitroid, etc.

A curator is an information chemist. He or she mixes atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.

PearlTrees is very similar, it's a curation tool that uses "pearls" as a visual metaphor for a web site, a Twitter post, an image, or a video. Here is a screenshot:

Pearls could be viewed as Robert's "info atoms" and a PearlTree is an "info molecule," and each PearlTree created can be shared and "mixes" with other "info molecules."

It's become a very useful curation tool for my projects and it's also a very good media technology because I can publish my PearlTrees in a variety of formats and across different media channels.

For example, often I will publish a PearlTree related to a news story, or a topic that I'm working on, to show readers my online research and additional information.

I can also grab parts of other people's PearlTrees and add them to mine; or search for PearlTrees that are similar to mine and that might reveal interesting new sites.

I wouldn't be surprised to see PearlTrees being published in all sorts of online documents such as press releases, white papers, and more.

More to come...

We might talk a lot about curation these days but we've only just begun. Erin Scime recently wrote:

The term "curate" is the interactive world's new buzzword. During content creation and governance discussions, client pitches and creative brainstorms, I've watched this word gain traction at almost warp speed.

John Byrne, the former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek, believes that curation will be a vital part of future successful media businesses. Curation is one of the three pillars of his new company: C-Change Media - Content, Curation, Community.

PearlTrees is the closest tool I've found so far, for effective and easy to create curation, which can be easily published and shared. I hope we get more curation tools because we need them.

I'm looking forward to working with the PearlTrees team and finding new ways of using the service. And please check out my PearlTrees when you come across them in various posts ... such as this one on "Curation."


MediaWatch Monday: Pew Survey - Most Journalists Pessimistic About Future

A Pew Research Center survey of newsrooms found that more than half of those surveyed say their news organization won't be around in 10 years, and about one-third predicted troubled within five years.

Here are some key findings from: News Leaders and the Future | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

- When it comes to the often-discussed option of pay walls for online content, for instance, only 10% say they are working on them, though that could change. Another 32% are considering them and just 11% have written off the idea. More than a third (35%) have not even considered them at all.

- Fully 75% of news executives have serious reservations about receiving government subsidies, and 78% have significant resistance to financing from interest groups. Roughly half have significant worries about funds from government tax credits and more than a third have significant doubts about private donations.

- Display and banner online advertising, for all that it has failed to grow, is still the No. 1 area of effort and the one that news executives pin their greatest hopes on.

- Broadcasters think their profession is headed in the wrong direction by a margin of nearly two-to-one (64% versus 35%). By contrast, editors working at newspapers were split (49% wrong direction versus 51% right direction).

Foremski's Take: It's clear that newsroom professionals are unhappy with their management's progress in developing new forms of revenues that can replace those lost by transitioning to an online business model. There is a marked lack of confidence in their organization's business strategy, especially in broadcast media.

The continued focus on display and banner advertising is striking, especially since the rates for this class of online advertising are falling. This shows that these organizations have no real understanding of how to move forward, and move away from a reliance on traditional types of advertising.

The survey also shows that there is a perception among news professionals that time is running out for their employers and that won;t help staff morale. It's difficult to bring about changes in news organizations suffering from a sense of impending doom.

At some troubled newsrooms, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, things appear to have stabilized and my contacts tell me that management has said told reporters that things have improved since last year, when the newspaper was losing about $1m a week.

However, massive newsroom cuts from about 400 people three years ago, to about 160 now, have raised workloads for the survivors.

I recently met with Gabriel Sama, Justin Arenstein, and Andrew Purvis, veteran journalists taking part in the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship program, a year-long study and research program held at Stanford University.

I was impressed by their understanding of the changing media landscape and the projects they are working on. The challenge will be to convince media organizations that there is value in experimenting with untried business models especially when those businesses are under great economic pressure.

It's clear that there will be fewer news professionals over the next couple of years as the industry figures out the new business models. In the meantime, journalists might be able to find employment helping companies become media companies.

Many businesses are increasing the amount of original media they produce, ranging from white papers, to video, and podcasts, and they need professionals to help them.
[Please see: EC=MC - Every Company is a Media Company.]

- - -

Some Notes On Why Every Company Needs To Become A Media Company...

Meeting Cisco's M&A Chief And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company

Leave Murdoch Alone... Pathetic Criticisms Abound

The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model

Google CEO Says Adverts And Paywalls Will Help Newspapers

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a meeting of newspaper executives that newspapers will become profitable again, reports Jake Sherman, on

Google CEO Eric Schmidt's advice for American Society of News Editors will be from online advertisements and an altered subscription model. Schmidt said his firm is working on new ways to tailor advertisements and content for consumers, based on what stories they read.
"We have a business model problem, we don't have a news problem," Schmidt said.

He was not specific about how the solution for profits would be delivered. He said that news should be more personalized and delivered through mobile devices.

"The web can ultimately be very good for news," Schmidt said. "Think about it: You have more readers than ever, you have more sources than ever, for sure you have more ways to report and new forms of money. New forms of making money will develop."

Foremski's Take: New ways of making money for newspapers will develop but they won't come quickly enough or provide enough revenues to restore newsrooms to a size large enough to produce quality news.

Even if Google was able to double or treble the amount of money newspapers could make from news--it wouldn't be enough. Advertisers have many other places to find customers.

It was interesting that Mr Schmidt spoke about subscriptions because his company has been trying to encourage newspapers to avoid paywalls. However, many newspapers, including the New York Times, have said they will begin charging for some online access.

Perfect Market: Optimizing Media For Search And Social Networks

[Here is a follow up to yesterday's story Offline Publications Earn 50 Times More Online Than Web-Only Media.]

Perfect Market conducted a survey of offline and online publications and found that traditional publishers had a key advantage in terms of earning revenue from their content, because they could leverage their offline brands and also their relationships with advertisers.

I spoke with Stephen Walker, COO of Perfect Market, about how he conducted the survey and what his company does for large publishers. Here are some notes from our conversation:

- We determined how much revenue companies can make on their content based on our historical data working with large publishers.

- Large publishers with offline properties have an advantage in that they can cross-promote across their properties. ESPN is a good example in that it can promote its online content through its TV channel.

- Perfect Market works with publishers to maximize the revenues they get from different sets of readers.

- The main visitors are what we call the "brand" visitors, they go directly to the site. We work on the "intent" users the ones that get to a site through search. Our technology helps to match the content with the user in near real-time.

- There is a big difference between the brand and the intent users. Most web sites are set up to service the brand while the intent users are neglected. This is what I call the "publisher's dilemma" it is difficult to serve both types.

- We host the content and make sure that it is search engine optimized to attract intent users. It runs under the same IP address as the publisher so they get credit for all the traffic. The content is also 'social network optimized' to make use of the power of social networks such as Digg, Twitter, and Facebook, in driving traffic.

- We can typically double the traffic from search and also increase revenues per page of content by as much as ten times. We also run ads to help drive traffic to a site.

- We work with advertising networks to match the ads to the user.

- We work on a revenue share basis with publishers. Right now we are focusing on large publishers but we will also start working with smaller media companies.

- We spun out of Idealab in 2007. (

Please see:

Offline Publications Earn 50 Times More Online Than Web-Only Media - SVW

Perfect Market Blog

Offline Publications Earn 50 Times More Online Than Web-Only Media

A survey by Perfect Market, an online advertising optimization company, found that publications that have an offline brand can earn as much as 50 times the revenues of brands that start off on the web. The exception is the web-only Huffington Post.

The study looked at the top 100 news and media sites and the top 100 "blogging" sites and used publicly available data from

[ estimates traffic from several sources such as search traffic and it generally undercounts traffic, however, it is a good measure of traffic trends.]

Stephen Walker, COO of Perfect Market, said:

The difference in performance was dramatic. Companies with major brands have an advantage in driving traffic, but they have an even greater one when it comes to monetizing traffic. The advantage in revenue is driven both by eyeballs -- six times as much traffic -- and monetization - 10 times higher revenue per thousands of page impressions.

This suggests that major media companies fortunate enough to have this head start should be careful to nurture and protect their brands on the online world

Foremski's Take: The advantage in terms of revenues is that established, offline publications, already have relationships with advertisers and it is easier for them to sell online advertising for decent rates. They also have an established readership, which they can leverage to launch their online publications.

Web-only publications usually don't have the resources to employ salespeople and must rely on online advertising networks for advertising. Online ad networks sell advertising for very low rates and they also take a large chunk of revenues, ranging from 30 per cent to as much as 80 per cent.

Despite their higher earning power, print publishers are having a tough time transitioning to an online business because their costs are much higher than their online revenues.

Murdoch Urges Competing Newspapers To Raise Paywalls

Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp, urged competing newspapers to raise paywalls around their content, saying that readers would pay "when they have nowhere else to go."

The reported Mr Murdoch's remarks from a speech at a National Press Club event at George Washington University.

Mr Murdoch criticized rival New York Times:

...saying its paywall plans were halfhearted and needed to be more restrictive.

"They don't seem to be able to make up their mind. They will have opposition internally from some of their journalists, especially their columnists," he said. "To really make it work they have got to put a paywall up. I think most newspapers in [the US] have got to have a paywall."

[Please see:NYT: Charging Ahead (Slowly) - Paywall in 2011]

Mr Murdoch is a leading proponent of paywalls for newspapers. The Wall Street Journal has a successful paywall and his other newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times will have paywalls in June.

However, he is taking a risk because online readers might go to free rival newspapers. That's why he is keen on his largest rivals to also have paywalls.

[Please see: Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage - SVW]

Jeff Jarvis, an associate professor of journalism at City University in New York, is a vocal critic of Mr Murdoch's paywall plans.

On Wednesday, Mr Jarvis was taunting Mr Murdoch on Twitter:

"Has Rupert finally just lost it? Discuss."

"Hey, Rupert, when your readers tweet your story, is that "theft"?"

"The big news is that Rupert has actually touched a computer (well, an iPad)."

Mr Murdoch also told the audience that he would restrict access to news from search engines such as Google and Microsoft. He said that they were getting news for free and he would put a stop to their "very clever business model."

- - -
Please see PearlTree:  Murdoch Urges Competing Newspapers To Raise Paywalls - SVW 

Leave Murdoch Alone... Pathetic Criticisms Abound

The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model

Twitter Study: Interview With Bernardo Huberman, HP Social Computing Labs Chief

Hewlett-Packard recently published a research paper: Predicting the Future With Social Media by Sitaram Asur and Bernardo Huberman.

The study analyzed 2.89 million tweets from 1.2 million users referencing 24 movies released over a three month period. The researchers discovered that the rate of Tweets could predict the success of movies prior to their release, and also spot sleeper movies that grew successful over time.

The quality of the predictions was significantly better than any other measure such as the Hollywood Stock Exchange.

HP believes the same methods could be used to predict product success and election results. [Please see: HP Study Shows Twitter Predicts Success Of Movies]

I spoke with Bernardo Huberman, head of HP's Social Computing Lab, about the Twitter research project. Here are some notes from our conversation:

- We're very interested in social attention and how attention is allocated, especially in a very fragmented media world that we now have.

- Also, the study is about the wisdom of crowds and collective intelligence. I'm not sure about the 'wisdom' part, but on average, there does seem to be a collective intelligence.

- We are interested in how agendas can be set when the influence of traditional media is waning. In the past, for example, the editors at the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times, or CNN, would decide which stories they would publish and that's what we would see but now the world is fragmented.

- The Twitter movie study helps to show how agendas can be established and how it could be applied elsewhere.

- The Twitter movie research was very difficult, we looked at a lot Tweets. We made use of Mechanical Turk for sentiment analysis, hiring thousands of workers.

- The Twitter movie study was interesting, we have some departments within HP that want to use the same methods for predicting the success of products. We have applied for a patent on the process.

- I don't think the movie tweets could be gamed because we looked at a very large number from a large number of people.

- We have thought about looking at financial information such as stock market tweets and also at where other online conversations are happening.

- I'm very interested in the problem facing media companies, how to monetize content. In a world where everything is free, information rapidly becomes commoditized and when everyone has the same information, it has little value. Our studies have shown that if people pay for information they value it more highly, they have something others don't have. It's a very hard problem. I'm not yet sure how to tackle it.

- - -
Please see:

Thought Leader - HP's Bernardo Huberman: Studies Of Mass Social Behavior On The Internet

HP Labs: A Gold Mine Of Original Research Into Online Social Behavior

HP Labs : Research: Social Computing Lab

Video: Social Dynamics In The Age Of The Web

New Site: Every Company Is A Media Company...

[Introducing a new web site: Every Company Is A Media Company - EC=MC - the transformative equation for business.]

Five years ago, when I first began writing and talking about this idea, that every company is a media company, few people understood what this was about. Today, it's a message that is better understood -- but only among a few leading practioners in media, communications, and marketing -- it still far from being understood by the mainstream.

Yet today, it's a very important concept because the evolution of media, and the powerful media technologies of the Internet, has transformed the entire media industry and is now transforming nearly every business.

Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its staff, its neighbors, its communities.

It doesn't matter if a company makes diapers or steel girders, it must also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at its disposal.

While this has always been true to some extent, it is even more important today, because our media technologies have become so much more powerful.

Our media technologies have become two-way.

In addition to the traditional means of publishing, such as white papers, news releases, etc, companies must now also master the 'social media' technologies that allow anyone, their customers, their competitors, to publish also.

It is no longer a one-way broadcast medium, everyone now has access to an online printing press that can potentially reach tens of millions of people.

The first phase of the Internet made it easy to publish a page of content to any computer screen -- desktop or mainframe.

Now, any computer screen, laptop or pocket, can publish back -- we've wired up the other end of the Internet! It is now a two way medium.

If you thought that Internet 1.0 was amazing -- this next phase will be extraordinary.

In the same way that companies had to change to adjust to doing business online, now they need to adjust to a whole new reality -- how to be noticed in an increasingly noisy world, one that requires new rules of engagement.

Companies must learn how to publish, listen, and converse in a very fragmented media world. There are different rules for participation and behavior, such as in the very different communities of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The world has suddenly become very complicated.

Our media has also become much more complicated -- more fragmented. We used to have "mass media" where a small set of media companies and channels, in TV, radio, newspapers, trade press -- hosted much of our media communications.

Those days are gone. The reality is we now live in a multi-platform, multi-channel, micro- media world, and the trend is moving towards ever greater media fragmentation -- vidcasts, podcasts, blogs, micro-blogging, Twitter, etc.

It is no longer possible to operate a business the old way -- such as sending out a news release on Businesswire and briefing a handful of journalists, and sitting back.

Today you need to do that ... and more, much more. Every company needs to master these media technologies, and the best media practices, of a rapidly fragmenting media world.

The companies that successfully manage this task will be far ahead of those that sit back and wait.

In media, if you achieve a pole position, it is very difficult to dislodge you. We see this effect all the time. Look at the Drudge Report - it is far from being a slick news site with great reporting, yet it has huge influence.

Sitting back is not an option. If your competitor captures that media pole position of thought leadership in your market, you are in trouble.

Just the tip of a very large iceberg...

When every company is a media company this changes more than just a company's PR/communications department -- it changes nearly every aspect of an organization.

- It changes how you recruit staff, using your own social networks.

- It changes how you provide customer support.

- It changes how you market/advertise your products and services.

- It changes how you develop products and services.

- It changes your IT infrastructure, what type of computers and software you need.

- It changes entire business processes and how they are executed.

- It changes a company's internal skills set and what types of people it needs to employ or train.

- It changes how you measure progress.

- It changes management and how it runs the company.

- It changes internal team organization.

- It unlocks a massive amount of internal and external resources.

Every company is affected...

Every Company is a Media Company (EC=MC) is the most important business transformation of our times because every company is affected.

It is also a massive business opportunity for so many businesses.

Every company is a media company becomes the point of the spear for new business for many companies across many sectors.

- Companies need help in mastering the best practices of being a media company.

- Management needs help in implementing the new business processes and in measuring progress.

- Companies will need new IT equipment, new software, new types of services, and more...

There will be opportunities for vendors of all types, armies of consultants, experts of all stripes, media professionals, teachers, authors...

Everyone is part of this transformation...

Everyone is a potential evangelist for this groundbreaking transformation. Whether as a company insider trying to push through essential changes; or a vendor of products and services; a public relation company working with clients; or management consultants helping companies reorganize specific aspects of their operations...

The job is a huge one and it's going to involve many people.

It will lead to tremendous disruption...

Not every company is going to make it. We are dealing with disruptive technologies...and they key thing about disruptive technologies is that they disrupt.

Even if a company sees the trends, sees the disruption ahead -- there is no guarantee it can avoid the train wreck.

Look at the tremendous amount of disruption that the personal computer created. It was dismissed as a toy yet hundreds of computer companies went out of business. IBM barely survived -- it had to remake itself into a computer services company.

The same will happen to many companies -- they won't be able to change, or adapt in time.

Beyond social media...

Every company is a media company moves beyond the current focus on social media. Social media is just one aspect of a company's media strategy.

Social media is not enough, companies have to focus on their entire media strategy, it becomes integral to their core business strategy.

Leadership is vital...

But to achieve a successful business transformation, this has to be a message that is understood at the very top of a company's leadership. And then it has to be understood by the rank and file.

That's what this web site will attempt to do -- to give the senior leadership, and the rank-and-file of an organization, the tools and the understanding about what's going on -- and the roadmaps for achieving transformation and success.

You have to be involved...

The challenge for a company's leadership is that many of these media trends cannot be fully understood unless you are immersed within them.

You can't 'get it' unless you are in it.

Clearly, that's difficult because senior executives have so many duties, they have to achieve an understanding of EC=MC and have the right staff to help in the transformation.

A key objective of this site will be to convince senior executives that there really is a major business transformation taking place, through examples and other information.

The second objective is to:

- Provide roadmaps and checklists so that senior management know what needs to be done.

- What types of people/skills are needed in-house.

- What can be contracted out.

- What to look for, the metrics that track progress, and what success looks like.

Every company is a media company ... but every company is in a different industry sector, different geography, a different culture.

There are some aspects of this transformation that apply to all but there is so much more that is very specific.

This site will try to collect those things that are held common, and also ones that are specific to an industry, a sector, a geography.

This site will also pull together a directory of resources, of services, and consultants/experts in their fields.


EC=MC has to be a collaboration on a huge scale. It is beyond 'social media.'

This site will seek to publish articles by many authors, seeking to explain what "Every company is a media company" means to them, to their area of expertise, in their sector/industry, and culture. Please send guest posts to [email protected]

I look forward to hearing from you.

- - -

This site's founding authors are:

- Tom Foremski, a former reporter with the Financial Times and publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher. Tom has tracked the changing landscape of the media world and how it impacts companies for more than 25 years. Twitter: TomForemski.

- Don Bulmer, a senior communications executive at SAP, the world's largest business software company. Don brings a deep understanding of how to navigate the internal barriers within large organizations and enable transformation. Twitter: DBulmer.

- Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, works with enterprise to create business strategy for B2B online communities and social media programs. Considered a pioneer in online community building, she brings a depth of best practice from the many communities she has created. Twitter: VDiMauro.

You can follow this site on Twitter: ECisMC

Altimeter Analysts' Rapid Rise To Top 20 Most Quoted

ITDatabase, an online service tracking media mentions of companies and products, today released a report on how often tech analysts are quoted by the media, in both traditional and in new news sites (former blogs) such as Techcrunch and GigaOm.

The results showed that Rob Enderle, was the "king of quotes" but that the former Forrester analysts at the newly formed Altimeter Group, had quickly made it into the top 20 most quoted analysts. These are Ray Wang (#5) Jeremiah Owyang (#9), and Charlene Li (#16).

The full list is here: Tech Analysts in the Media by ITDatabase

The three largest analyst firms, Gartner, IDC, and Forrester dominate the number of quoted analysts, with 6,978, 3,935, and 3,308 mentions in the past six months respectively. Altimeter received 446 but has far fewer analysts with just 7 compared with several hundred at the largest firms.

The full list is here: Tech Firms in the Media by ITDatabase

Interestingly, the new media rarely quotes analysts while traditional media quotes analysts a lot.

Going back six months, eWEEK and Computerworld combined for 867 references to the "Big Three" analyst firms. TechCrunch only mentioned them 13 times, about once every two weeks.

Based on my experience, this is because traditional journalists can't give their opinion about a subject but must find an analyst to quote.

Times could become tough for analysts seeking media exposure as the traditional media shrinks and new media sites ignore these sources. Much will depend upon how well these analysts manage to switch to promoting their work through Twitter, Facebook, and other media channels. The Altimeter analysts are well placed to do that since their specialty is social media in the enterprise.

MediaWatch Monday: ReadWriteWeb Soars in Latest Traffic Scores

The latest traffic data for the first two months of 2010 shows that among the top and middle tier of tech news publications, ReadWriteWeb has shown the best improvement in traffic and pulled far ahead of VentureBeat and GigaOm. is an imperfect measure of web site traffic because it uses many indirect measurement techniques and it usually undercounts the true numbers but it can be a good indicator of traffic trends.

In February, change since the prior month:

ReadWriteWeb jumped nearly 80% to 1.14m unique visitors
VentureBeat rose 47% to 589K unique visitors.
GigaOm rose 56% to 548K unique visitors.

In the top tier:
Mashable lost 12% of its unique visitors to 1.94m
Techcrunch rose 39% to 2.39m unique visitors to overtake Mashable for the first time since a year ago.

ReadWriteWeb showed by far the best improvement and has the best prospects compared with GigaOm and VentureBeat, of competing in the top tier with Techcrunch and Mashable.

Here is the Compete graph (ReadWriteWeb is in the green):

No Future For Philanthropic News - The Math Doesn't Add Up

I'm not a supporter of philanthropic non-profit news ventures because I believe that we need to find a news business model that is self-sustaining and doesn't rely on handouts from rich people or fundraising. If it generates a reasonable profit it will encourage a range of competitors -- which is good for society.

San Francisco used to have more than a dozen newspapers yet today, it has just one major daily newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. It was losing about $1 million a week last year but this year it has managed to stem some of those losses.

As many other newspapers struggle with losses and their transition to an online business, philanthropic backed non-profit news ventures have gained a lot of attention as a possible way forward.

In the Bay Area, Warren Hellman, a leading billionaire philanthropist, has funded a high profile non-profit venture The Bay Citizen, with $5m. [Please see: Is the Future Of News Dependent On The Generosity Of Billionaire Philanthropists? - SVW]

Are philanthropic non-profit news organizations viable? Can enough funding be collected to support all the editors, reporters, etc, needed to produce high quality news reporting?

Alan Mutter, a former journalist and successful serial entrepreneur, recently crunched the numbers.

Mr Mutter quotes Rick Edmonds, an economist at the Poynter Institute, who estimates that newsrooms are spending $4.4 billion to fund their operations -- and these are severely depleted newsrooms. The SF Chronicle newsroom, for example, is down to less than 150 staff from more than 400 staff three years ago.

Over the past four years, Mr Mutter says that only $141 million has been raised by non-profit news ventures in the US. So even if funds from billionaire philanthropists were augmented with funds raising locally, from regular citizens, it would not be enough.

So, let's stop dreaming about a visit from the Non-Profit News Bunny and get serious about discovering some realistic possibilities.

I agree. It would be wonderful if Mr Hellman could fund an additional project whose goal is to develop a viable for-profit news media business model. Because if one can be found, we all benefit, we all can adapt it to our needs.

Let's learn how to fish rather than ask for fish -- after all, yesterday's newspaper is today's fishwrap.

Data Mining: Rethinking Advertising From The Online Publisher's Viewpoint

As the publisher of an online news magazine I know my readership better than anyone. And that's true for any other publisher.

Yet the current way of selling advertising is to try to convince companies to advertise on your site by producing a media kit that shows traffic, the demographic profiles of readers, and all the other stuff. That's the way advertising has always been sold.

But why should I have to convince advertisers that they should advertise when I know from my traffic and readership data that they would do well on my site?

Print publishers are having trouble transitioning to a digital business because they are still trying to do business the old way. Yet things are much different in the online world and there is no reason to do the business of selling advertising the old way.

Print publishers have to conduct focus groups and ask readers what they read, what they like, and who they are. The online publisher knows all of that all of the time, and can apply a lot more creativity to building a thriving advertiser community. There is a tremendous amount of user data that can be mined and converted into valuable information.

Here are some suggestions:

- Since I know my readers better than anyone else I should know what types of services and products they are likely to be interested in. I should identify the best companies providing those products and services and approach them to advertise. This also ensures quality and that readers won't be victims of many scam and spam advertising that is polluting the Internet.

- I could offer my chosen advertisers a performance based plan confident that I can deliver the conversions, clicks, leads or whatever the performance metric suits the advertiser, because I know my readership.

- Instead of an ad server trying to determine where to put advertising I would control on which pages the advertising appears, even what time of the day, because my server data would show when those adverts are likely to be the most effective.

- I could perform A/B testing of advertising messaging to figure which is the most effective messaging for my readers.

- I should refuse to take advertising from companies that I know won't do well with my readership. After all, why subject my readers to promotions that are of no use to them?

This type of approach would build stronger bonds between publishers and advertisers--and between publisher and readers. Both would have a higher quality experience.

Advertisers would find a better fit and performance, and readers would trust that the publication is looking out for them -- rather than trying to monetize the reader relationship in whatever way it can, appropriate or not.

BusinessWeek Editor Preps Media Launch May/June

John Byrne, the former editor of BusinessWeek, said he will begin launching his media venture in "May June" timeframe.

Mr Byrne's C-Change Media company has a focus on "content, curation, community."

"I'll be launching several satellite sites first, and then the mother ship later in the year," said Mr Byrne.

He was speaking after appearing on a panel discussing corporations becoming media companies, at the Horn Group offices Tuesday evening.

He said that each "satellite" site will focus on one area, mostly in business or finance, with one main editor and using freelancers for additional content.

I asked if he would use a Demand Media model for commissioning copy. Demand uses an algorithm to determine how much a page of content can generate in advertising revenue and then commissions the content. Rates are very low.

Mr Byrne said no, his organization would not take advantage of writers.

It appears that he still has a lot of work ahead. He wasn't very specific about the areas of coverage or financing. He said he was interested in talking with angel and VC investors.

He also spoke with WebNewser:

"The business category [online] is less developed than general news, gossip, entertainment, sports, food, women's service, health," Byrne told WebNewser. "So there's a real open road to make something happen here. Smart people can make it happen very easily. The technology costs are low, so the barrier to entry is very low."

And he added: "Traditional media is blowing it. It doesn't understand what digital really is. Traditional media isn't going to invest in online media. That's why I think there's a wide open area here. The newcomer has incredible latittude to succeed. The incumbent is disadvantaged every possible way. And that's why I'm going after it."

MediaWatch Monday: Paywalls Will Help Newspapers Focus On Their Value-Add

There has been much written about newspaper paywalls and how they won't work. And there is a perception that newspaper paywalls represent a backward step.

But I don't see it that way. Yes, paywalls won't work if they are constructed around content that is easily available elsewhere for free. But if it is around content that you can't get anywhere else -- then that's a different discussion.

And that's a discussion that has to happen within each newspaper.

For too long, newspapers in the US had a local monopoly, they could republish stories from AP, Reuters, etc. They had their own foreign correspondents, all writing similar stories. Today, that doesn't work.

Today you need original content and that's where the value is. Newspaper paywalls will force newspapers to figure out what is their value-add. Those answers will help determine editorial coverage and business model.

Paywalls become just one aspect of a newspaper's business model. I've written about the 'Heinz 57' new media business model idea, which has multiple revenue streams.

Paywalls doesn't mean you have abandoned creative ways of making more money from advertising, which is what Jeff Jarvis, publisher of BuzzMachine, seems to think. It means you have more choices, more ways of monetizing content, and that is a good thing.

My concern is that newspapers are in shell-shock, that the disruptive forces they face will not give them the time to develop multiple revenue streams, that their rate of losses, and the loss of people, will overwhelm them. After all, disruptive technologies disrupt.

But I'm hopeful we will have newspapers that can transform their businesses. And that's what Rupert Murdoch, and others, are trying to do.

If they succeed, then we all succeed, because then we will have case studies available of how to run a new media business.

- - -

Please see: The Times: Why the future of good news is not free

At present we are in the absurd position of charging people £2 for our newspaper while simultaneously offering the same content free online. The flawed logic was that internet advertising would pay for it. The recession has put a stop to that, so giving away expensive journalism is financially unsustainable and ultimately bad for us and our readers.

Leave Murdoch Alone... Pathetic Criticisms Abound

Rupert Murdoch wants to put up paywalls on some of his newspaper properties and he comes under a barrage of criticism from geeks and journalism watchers such as Jeff Jarvis, an associate professor of journalism at City University in New York, and he also writes the influential BuzzMachine blog.

I like Jeff Jarvis but I wonder why he's so passionate about proving that Rupert Murdoch is about paywalls.

In his Guardian column, Jeff Jarvis writes: Rupert Murdoch's pathetic paywall

Rupert Murdoch has declared surrender. The future defeated him.

By building his paywall around Times Newspapers, he has said that he has no new ideas to build advertising. He has no new ideas to build deeper and more valuable relationships with readers and will send them away if they do not pay. Even he has no new ideas to find the efficiencies the internet can bring in content creation, marketing, and delivery.

Really? Having a paywall doesn't mean you have no advertising, it doesn't mean you have no new ideas. You can have both.

Why does Mr Jarvis think one excludes the other? Surely Rupert Murdoch now has more to play with, he can experiment with creative paywall ideas and creative advertising. He can play around with what content goes behind the paywall and what is free.

Jeff Jarvis writes:

I used to work for Murdoch at his American magazine TV Guide. I respected his balls. It is a pity to see them gone.

No balls? Really? He has the balls to try new business models, he has the balls to be doing well running a media giant that makes big bets in movies, newspapers, TV, radio, and online.

If Rupert Murdoch succeeds in figuring out an online media business model we all benefit, because many other media businesses will be able to adopt or adapt similar approaches.

There's nothing to be gained by criticizing business leaders for challenging accepted notions of doing business -- that's precisely where the potential breakthroughs can be found.

What puzzles me is why Jeff Jarvis is so passionate about proving Rupert Murdoch is wrong?

Jeff Jarvis runs the new business models for news project -- you'd think he would keen to see if Rupert Murdoch can create a new business model for news.

What Rupert Murdoch is doing is a fascinating media experiment. We need more of that kind of experimentation -- not less.
- - -
Here is a PearlTree on New Media Business models:

 New Media Business Models 

Please see: The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model

Interview With Patrick Keane - Associated Content . . . And The True Value Of Online Content

When media companies try to transition to an online business model they run into trouble for all the right reasons: they try to produce content as they normally do but then can't recover their costs of producing it. Online revenues are a fraction of their traditional revenues.

There is a huge gap between what content can earn online and what it costs to produce.

That, in a nutshell, is why the entire media industry is in trouble, and why society is going to hell in a hand basket...

But what if you could figure out how much a piece of online content could earn over its lifetime, and then build your business model around that, from the ground up? That's exactly what Associated Content does, and so do similar approaches from Demand Media, and AOL.

This approach won't make the company any friends among professional journalists because their rates are very low. But it does show the value of online content and the scale of the problems facing established media companies in making their online transition.

Associated Content uses algorithms to determine what content to commission and to calculate its likely earning power. It pays people to produce that content, and also pays extra based on traffic.

Most of its traffic comes from natural search, and revenues come from ads sold by its direct sales division, and Google's AdSense.

This morning I spoke with Patrick Keane, CEO of Associated Content. He is an ex-Googler, he used to work with Tim Armstrong at Google, Mr Armstrong is now CEO of AOL and an investor in Associated Content. Mr Keane also worked at CBS Interactive.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

- We have a different approach to Demand Media and AOL, they are focused on news content, we focus on evergreen content, such as how to potty train a two year old. Less than 10 per cent of our content is news related.

- Our algorithms look at keywords and search terms to determine what content to commission. We look at 30 different attributes.

- We now have 2 million unique pieces of content.

- Online advertising rates have been declining but some of our content gets very high CPMs.

- We aren't interested in creating brands, each piece of content stands alone. Associated Media is an antiseptic brand, I'm skeptical about creating new media brands. But we might do some of that through our guest contributor program.

- We are a private company so we don't disclose revenues but more of our revenue comes from our direct sales than from Google AdSense.

- Brands like our content because many brands don't want to advertise on social networks, they don't know what the content is like. We have a term we call "brand action" that describes the brand association with our content.

- All of our content is checked for plagiarism and we also have humans checking most of our content for quality. But it is impossible to check every piece of content.

- We allow some of our contributors to auto publish because they have built a reputation for quality content.

-We have a different understanding of "quality" we look at how useful the content is. We believe that our content exhibits authenticity.

- We've been asked if we could provide publishers with an OEM version of our platform, but that's not in our plans right now.

- I think that traditional media should adopt a more scientific approach to determining reader interest and demand creation. But it might be too late for some.

- - -

Please see Patrick Keane column in AdWeek: The Case Against Engagement

I recently walked out of a meeting with a potential advertiser who uttered a familiar refrain: "We're looking for engagement." Their stakeholders, they explained, look for them to buy media on sites with strong metrics for "time spent" and "page views per visit," pieces of data that are unrelated to the success of the ads themselves.

We need to stop looking at those engagement metrics as the sole qualifiers of a successful Web site and start looking at how the site fits into the user's overall Web (and consumer) behavior. In an age of granular data collection and analysis, it's time that engagement lost its relevance.

Here is a PearlTree, a visual collection of web pages related to this interview:

 Interview With Patrick Keane - Associated Content . . . And The 

Russia's Ultra-Rich Are Buying Up Newspapers - It's Not An Investment In Journalism But In Propaganda...

Robert Andrews is puzzled. Why Are Russians Spending Like Mad To Save Journalism? | paidContent:UK

He writes:

The latest - after last year buying France-Soir, the country's smallest daily, for €50 million, shipbuilder's son Alexander Pugachyov is now spending a further €20 million on a marketing campaign to take it mainstream. He's upping the print run by 20 times, has halved the cover price and has more than doubled newsroom staff from 40 to 100.

Jealous? There's no part of this that makes immediate sense. In fact, contrasted with the cutbacks, climbdowns and contraction many parts of the industry are seeing, it looks like madness.


The Pugachyov scenario in France mirrors that of Alexander Lebedev in the UK ... The former KGB agent took the London Evening Standard, whose circulation was falling, off DMGT's hands for just a nominal fee, forewent cover-price income in favour of free distribution on a higher print run, and pledged a £25 million investment over three years.

"£25 million investment??" That's unheard of in today's news publishing economy... Now Lebedev's set to repeat the act by buying The Independent.

I think I can help Mr Andrews understand what's going on. It has nothing to do with "saving journalism."

These are prominent publications in their country. They are being bought not to make money but as vehicles to influence politics and society.

It's not the first time this has happened. Hearst used his newspapers for political influence, and many others have done the same.

Investing in propaganda...

The Russians, in particular, understand the power of media. At the heart of the Bolshevik party was its newspaper, Pravda.

The Bolshevik party wasn't investing in journalism when it funded and published Pravda -- it was investing in having its ideas discussed in society, and in the political realm.

These are ultra-rich individuals, they aren't buying the publications as investments in that business, but as an investment that will aid their other businesses.

Mr Andrews notes that Alexander Pugachyov is the son of a Russian shipbuilder and that the French government may place an order for four battleships. I think that's a pretty big clue that the investment isn't about "saving journalism."

Media businesses are often loss-leaders that help drive other businesses. You see this today a lot. Most online media sites, especially blogs, don't make money from online advertising but from selling other things, such as services, or research reports, hosting events, etc. You don't make money directly from the traffic.

- - -

I already have a loss leader, I just need to add services and products that I can sell to help support my journalism. That's why I've started to do some consulting for companies such as Intel, Pearltrees, SAP, and others.

Let me know if you need some help on media/business strategies - 415 336 7547.

Social Media Is Not About Conversations... It's About Something Much More Amazing

I was glad to see Joel Postman's post on his Socialized blog: Social Media Isn’t Conversation, It’s Publication because this has been a subject close to my heart.

Joel writes:

...I mentioned one of my favorite Marshall McLuhan quotations, “Publication is self-invasion of privacy.” We threw this idea around a little and together came up with the idea that online communications are a form of publication, not conversation, and a failure to understand this distinction can be troublesome...

I agree, social media is about publishing, not conversations.

About a year ago, I wrote about "The Myth Of Online Conversations: Lots Of Chatter But Not Much Discourse

What is so striking about the online world is how little conversation takes place, how little two-way communication happens.

One comment to an article is not a conversation. 300 comments on an article is not a conversation.

Yet everyone talks about social media being about "conversations." A PR firm I sometimes work with is called "The Conversation Group."

Social media is not about conversations it is about publishing.

Social media represents the fact that we have now wired up the other end of the Internet, your end.

The Internet enabled us to publish to any computer screen no matter where. Now, any screen can publish back. This is huge.

That's what social media is about. It's about publishing, allowing anyone to publish back. It's feedback, it's a response, it's not a conversation.

A printing press in your pocket...

What is extraordinary, is not the 'conversational' nature of the Internet, but the fact that now every screen is a printing press.

I can publish from any screen, small or large, yours or mine. I have the equivalent of a printing press, with the potential to reach of tens of millions, in my pocket. And so do you.

It's no wonder Rupert Murdoch is pissed. You used to have to be a media mogul to have a printing press.

It's not the content...

Let's not get distracted by the content, the endless Tweets about inane things, the blog posts about nothing-in-particular...

The content is not the message. The message is that we now have an online printing press, (and TV studio, and radio studio) nearly anywhere, and everywhere we are. That's huge.

Internet 1.0 was about being able to publish to anything with a computer screen. Now, anything with a screen can publish back.

That's what social media represents...the 'me' in media.

We've wired up the other end of the Internet. It's a two-way Internet now. This is the Internet on steroids.

If you thought Internet 1.0 was amazing, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Paperless In Seattle...Successful Online News Businesses

This week marks the one-year anniversary since the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper stopped printing on paper and moved completely online.

Monica Guzman, at the Seattle PI, has written an excellent roundup of how other digital news ventures in the Seattle area are doing.

Here are some extracts from: New media ventures blossom in Seattle

West Seattle Blog
Independent neighborhood news site covering West Seattle.

The site is profitable, and more than 60 paying businesses known as sponsors support it, editor and publisher Tracy Record said.

...Apart from having to beat down an early stigma that independent news "bloggers" were not to be taken seriously (she's a journalist, so she prefers you call her that), Record didn't take a vacation until August 2009, when she could pay enough freelancers to keep an eye on things back home.

"All the people who send story ideas, crime reports, texts about traffic, a picture of a cool event at a school -- that's the part that grows exponentially," Record said. "That's the part that's always humbling, every day."

Tech news site owned by The Puget Sound Business Journal.

"It's not something I imagined I'd ever be doing back when I was in J-school (journalism school)," said Bishop.

"It shows you can be entrepreneurial and still be a journalist."

"Journalism isn't only about giving a community information. It's about helping to build that community up."

"I laugh when I think about coming into the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at 9 and leaving at 6. It's almost comical. Twelve hours a day is probably the norm."

Seattle-based community news platform and ad-sharing network.

"We see room for something that lets people be journalists, lets people focus on newsgathering, lets us worry about the technology," said Carder.

"The cost of content is so high, you have to find ways to pinch technology and all the tools as tightly as possible. Plenty of players will be gone because they don't know how to do that," he said.

Next Door Media
Seattle collaborative community news network.

"We believe there's a natural balance between journalism and the community. For too long journalism hasn't listened, and it really caught up with the industry," said co-founder Cory Bergman.

"A lot of companies take a tech approach. We're taking a more people-centered and community building approach."
All Next Door Media authors happen to have either worked in journalism or have a journalism degree, Bergman said -- though that's by no means a requirement.

Seattle civic and cultural news site.

"We are reporters who are changing blogging, as opposed to blogging dumbing down reporting," said Feit, a longtime political writer.

Northwest nonprofit investigative reporting shop.

"Our model is to sell in-depth journalism at the price that existing news outlets would pay for plain old journalism," said Robert McClure, the Northwest reporting shop's chief environmental correspondent and one of several former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporters behind the nonprofit.

"It's kind of scary," McClure said. "You're a little mouse on a wheel. You've got to keep going. You can never relax and say, 'We have enough.'"

"I just can't believe that people in this country are going to let in-depth journalism go away completely," he said. "To what degree we can sustain what we have and modernize it in a way that gets the public engaged and keeps them engaged -- that's the big thing."

Northwest nonprofit news site.

... if you want short, flashy treatments of tough local issues, you're in the wrong place. The site's often lengthy analytical pieces aim for a certain audience...

Crosscut is out to activate local discussion ..."Our tagline, 'news of great nearby,' is partly an attempt to say that local can be big local," Brewster said. "We want to have people feel like they're a part of something big."

You can read the whole of this excellent report here: New media ventures blossom in Seattle
(I think my headline is better :)

10 Basic Digital Publishing Skills Journalists/Anyone Should Know...

Most journalists I know can barely type, they certainly can't spell but they can tell a great story.

Most professions have to continually upgrade their skills yet I know lots of journalists that are very reticent about adding new skills. They hate to shoot photos, or video, or edit the video. I know a journalist that does not know how to upload a photo!

Carrying a pencil and a notepad is not enough, journalists need to know how to produce media content in a variety of ways.

Here are ten basic skills journalists, heck, anyone should know:

1 - How to shoot a photo with a digital camera and transfer it to a computer for a quick edit.

2 - How to upload an image to a web site in the right format and size.

3 - How to add a hyperlink to a word or part of a sentence by hand. (i.e. hyperlink)

4 - How to quickly shoot digital video and do a quick edit and upload it to a hosting service such as YouTube, in the right format.

5 - How to embed the code for a video in a web page and resize it to fit the page width.

6 - How to capture audio for a video, or just an audio-only podcast, so that the audio is clear and background noise is minimal.

7 - Know some basic HTML and what it does so that common problems with a web page can be quickly fixed.

8 - Know some basic CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and what it does, and be able to quickly fix any problems with a web page.

9 - Know how to promote your content on the Internet without alienating contacts and family.

10 - Know how to get used to an always-on work day that often extends beyond 9-to-5, and produce three times as much digital media content as you think you can, while maintaining high standards of quality and accuracy.

Media Engineers At New York Times And CNN

The has an article about how the New York Times and CNN are becoming technology companies.

How the New York Times and CNN try to keep up with the tech companies

"The New York Times is now as much a technology company as a journalism company," its executive editor Bill Keller said recently.
While closely collaborates with technology companies like Facebook, Apple or Google, the New York Times anticipates technical change in-house with the help of its research and development department.
"We made an experiment and put an RFID chip into the phone, the computer and the television. The chip was there to track the user's reading. When a user stopped reading a story on the phone as he or she arrived at work, it opened it again on the desktop. When the user entered the living room, related videos to the story were presented on the television screen," explains the NYT's Nick Bilton.
CNN has launched an iPhone application, redesigned its website and reached out more to social media. CNN was among the first TV broadcasters to understand the full impact of social media on television, and teamed up with Facebook for the presidential inauguration.
Today, CNN's iPhone app is as much a news-making as a news delivering application, and as the iReporters can add their telephone number, email and location to their report, CNN's editors can get back to them or even assign them to certain content CNN is looking for.
... looks like the news organisations that tear down the wall and build a bridge between editorial and technological thinking will be most likely to survive.

I'm glad to see these types of stories. For the past five years I've been writing about the need for 'media engineers' - part software engineer and part media professional. And also 'media architects' the people the create the media technology infrastructure for media companies (BTW every company is a media company.)

Media engineers will be better paid than software engineers because you need a broader skills set.

- - -
Please see my PearlTree on 'media engineers.' [PearlTrees is an SVW client and it's a great media technology that organizes web pages in a visual way.]

 Media Engineers 

You Can't Get There From Here - Why Andreessen Is Wrong

Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape, likes to give business advice to media companies. For a couple of years, he has been advising newspapers to completely abandon print. He said it again in a recent article. Alan Mutter, a former reporter, and successful media entrepreneur, writing on "Reflections of a Newsosaur" says the idea is "plain nutty."

Marc Andreessen had a really good idea when he invented the first popular browser for the web, but his latest notion – that newspapers should walk away from a business grossing more than $30 billion a year – is just plain nutty.

I agree. Newspapers can't abandon print when their online revenues are less than 5 percent of total revenues. Google's chief economist Hal Varian presented a bunch of dismal figures for the newspaper industry earlier this week.

GOOG's Chief Economist Hal Varian Has No Solution For Newspapers

The newspaper industry is stuck. Moving its business online involves extra costs in terms of needing staff with a variety of web skills, IT costs, etc. Yet the revenues don't match its cost of operations. And there's more...

I remember a conversation with a publisher of a very good IT print magazine. He told me he was thinking of stopping advertising on his web site. I was flabbergasted, how could you do that?

He said that he offered online advertising packages to his print advertisers. But when his advertisers looked at the poor click-through rates they assumed that their print advertising wasn't effective. So they would pull their print advertising. For the sake of a $600 monthly online ad package they were pulling $50,000 in print advertising.

This also works the other way. Online advertising rates lower than print but can be more effective. For some advertisers, a $600 ad buy can replace $50,000 in print advertising.

You can't get there from here.

It's a Yankee phrase that never made sense to me. But it makes perfect sense in defining the situation of the newspaper industry and its attempts to transition its business online.

There is no way that online news revenues can support the cost of operating newspaper newsrooms. Because the newspaper industry cannot give up print, it leaves the online field wide open to competitors, which have significant advantages:

- no legacy costs of business such as printing plants, unions, pension plans, office buildings, layers of admin.

- new competitors can build news businesses based on the dismal economics of the online world. For example, the extremely successful Huffington Post has fewer full time journalists than the New York Times has people moderating its reader's comments.

Newspapers are forced to watch smaller online competitors run off with the audience. You see that happening with the Gawker media network, and elsewhere too.

The situation is made even more horrible for newspapers because the rates for online ads continue to drop. Yet their costs of operations haven't dropped, they increase as they try to transition to online.

You can't get there from here.

- - -

Please see: Disruptive Technologies Disrupt

Is the Future Of News Dependent On The Generosity Of Billionaire Philanthropists?

James Rainey, at the The Los Angeles Times, reports on the "Bay Area News Project" financed with $5 million by Warren Hellman, a local philanthropist.

The project has a CEO with a $400,000 salary and its editor, Jonathan Weber, used to run the Industry Standard, a popular magazine during the dotcom era.

Bay Area News Project has high hopes, few employees -

When the Bay Area News Project launches its website in late spring or early summer, it will be just the latest -- and perhaps the most ambitious -- nonprofit venture among a string of similar start-ups.
"On the one hand, you want to have big ambitions," Weber explained from his office, a stylish but spartan space donated by a San Francisco law firm. "On the other hand, you don't want to be presumptuous about what you can do with a small newsroom.
The project will have to rely on paid interns from one of its partners, UC Berkeley and the Graduate School of Journalism, to provide some of that coverage. The university also intends to bring an R&D component.
Weber has committed to covering public institutions like government, education and the law. But he conceded in a recent meeting with freelance writers that even this civic mandate would be an enormous challenge. And with a couple of other editors likely to come on board in a week or two, he's yet to hire another editorial employee.
"I think that in some ways we are kind of entering a Golden Age of journalism," Weber said, "because the barriers to entry have been largely removed."

Foremski's Take: The great thing about emerging new media business models, is if one media organization figures it out - we all figure it out - we can all adapt and adopt a similar model. It's win-win.

But I don't see the Bay Area News Project being able to do that, for several reasons:

- The salaries and the organization. The CEO is being paid $400K, and editor Jonathan Weber has wisely declined to publish his salary. I would estimate it to be between $300K and $200K. The salaries of the other journalists will be far lower, and most will be intern level pay because the work will be done by journalism students.

- The non profit model is a problem. The point is to find a media business model that is profitable. There's plenty of 'non-profit' media businesses around, the largest local one is the San Francisco Chronicle.

- A philanthropist led news business is not a sustainable or reproducible model. Mr Hellman has done wonderful things with his money and his interests in the news business are commendable. But the way this venture is set up, it doesn't look like there will be much to be learned, or adopted, by other news organizations.

- This project will compete with local media organizations that are trying to create for-profit news media business models. Having a very well financed competitor, with it's saintly 'non-profit' status will suck revenues away from them.

We need media business models that are viable, profitable, and self-sustaining - without relying on philanthropists, cheap labor from J-schools, and expensive consultants. That's where Mr Hellman's money should be going, imho, to develop reproducible news media business models.

- - -
Please see:

Here is a PearlTree - a visual organization of web pages related to this story:

 Bay Area News Project 
The Bay Area News Project // FAQ

A new convert to nonprofit journalism out west? » Nieman Journalism Lab

GOOG's Chief Economist Hal Varian Has No Solution For Newspapers

The Federal Trade Commission held a second session today on the future of the newspaper industry and Hal Varian, Google's chief economist made a presentation.

His talk, "Newspaper Economics, Online and Offline," was full of very interesting numbers, related to traffic, revenue, type of news stories that people read, how much time they spend reading news online, and lots more.

With his access to detailed traffic stats from Google News plus detailed numbers on ad revenues, etc, Mr Varian is in an excellent position to know what works, and what doesn't work in online media. He has access to more information than any single newspaper publisher and thus can provide important insights into the newspaper business.

What did Mr Varian advise newspapers to do? "Experiment, experiment, experiment," reports Martin Langeveld, at Nieman Journalism Lab.

If that's the best Mr Varian can come up with, that's very bad news for newspapers.

Here is the most dismal of a range of dismal stats that he presented to the FCC:

- online ad revenue is substantially less than 5% of newspaper revenues.

Here is his slide deck:

And here is a PearlTree that represents a collection of web pages on this topic:

 New Media Business Models 

Techmeme's Gabe Rivera Is More Editor Than Aggregator...

Gabe Rivera's Techmeme is the news reader of choice for much of the Silicon Valley tech-setters -- more so than Techcrunch because it has a much wider selection of articles.

I often see Gabe at press events, he has a press pass like other journalists. But is he a journalist? After all, he doesn't write any of the stories that appear on Techmeme.

It seems that the Austin based conference South By South-West (SXSW) doesn't think he's a journalist because it refused to give Gabe a press pass. Does SXSW think that Gabe's Techmeme is a simple news aggregator and therefore not media?

Probably. But Gabe is not just a software engineer with a news algorithm and a server. He's better viewed as the editor-in-chief of Techmeme with a large staff of editors. Techmeme does use an algorithm to try and surface news that is interesting but that's not enough. He has five editors that curate what appears on Techmeme and its sister sites.

Also, Gabe has told me that he sometimes 'commissions' stories. He will sometimes tell bloggers that he would love to see a story on a particular subject, or he'd like to see coverage of a conference. That's the work of an editor-in-chief, not a software engineer.

So SXSW should definitely give Gabe a press pass. (BTW - Editors are journalists.)

I wonder how long before Gabe's editorial team start writing stories? It would seem to be a natural progression. Look out Techcrunch et al!

Every Person Is A Media Company: UK Advertising Watchdog To Regulate People's Personal Blogs And Facebook Pages

This is astounding: ClickZ in the UK reports:

U.K. to Regulate Social Network Marketing - ClickZ

Marketers and brands using social networks will soon find their activities in those spaces regulated by the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority, following recommendations submitted by the Advertising Association this week.

The proposed amendment to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code - expected to be in force by September - will extend the regulatory framework currently in place for paid online ads to all other online marketing communications. As a result, claims from marketers on their own Web sites and third-party sites like social networks will now be subject to ASA scrutiny, as they are in TV, print, and other forms of online advertising.

The code is designed to ensure that ads do not offend or mislead, and that they respect specific laws relating to the marketing of alcohol, gambling, auto, health, and financial products.

Advertising Association COO Rae Burdon described the extension as "very significant" for online marketers. "There is now considerable marketing activity on social networks, so it's clear that these spaces have to be included in the remit," he told ClickZ.

Wow. If a person markets something, like a book they've written, or a product they are selling, it is regulated as if it were advertising published by a media company, such as a newspaper, TV, magazine, etc.

That means everyone is now a media company. And subject to the same regulations - at least in the UK. Wow.

Those regulations will apply to personal blog sites and also your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn pages too. If you claim something that isn't truthful or violates other regulations -- there will be penalties.

Sanctions for breaching the code have not yet been confirmed, but the revised codes are expected to be published this month and will come into effect in the autumn, the Advertising Association said.

But how will the ASA monitor all that social media marketing?

The extension of the ASA remit will of course incur additional costs, and Burdon said the ASA would be "gearing up with additional staff and structures" in the coming months.

The ASA will need a lot of staff, I'm not sure if it knows what it's chewing off. We have just scratched the surface of individuals using social media marketing.

That's what the Obama administration should bring to the US, similar regulations. It would make a great job stimulus initiative. There would be jobs for life, for thousands of people, working as social media marketing monitors ((SMMMs) - pronounced Sock-mee-ma-mo's :)).

Why Ad Networks And Exchanges Will Never Help Publishers

I often meet with ad networks and ad exchanges for various stories I'm writing. And because I'm a publisher, they give me the pitch about how publishers make more money with their solution.

The pitch they give advertisers is how much money they can save them.

Clearly, both can't be right. The money has to come out of one pocket or the other. Guess which one it comes out of?

Over on Poynter Online, Dorian Benkoil wrote an article headlined: Can Ad Networks & Exchanges Help Increase Ad Prices (Instead of Driving Them Down)?

It seems he's been hearing the same pitches I hear from ad networks and exchanges.

Tim Cadogan, CEO of ad exchange OpenX, told me that the solution is to "limit the number of airplanes flying" when I shared the airline analogy with him at the OnMedia conference in New York earlier this year.
Cadogan predicted that within the next year to 18 months, we'll start to see technologies that let publishers flexibly manage ad inventory in real time, automatically pulling ad spots from a page when there's not an ad of high enough value to go in. That should, by implication, increase the perceived value of the spots that remain.

That won't happen because:

- there is no scarcity. Publishers would need to combine forces, and strategies, to create scarcity. Then the temptation is to undercut each other and so you are back to square one.

- there's not enough auction liquidity to create a competitive bidding environment.

At the paidContent 2010 conference a few weeks later in New York, JT Batson, executive vice president of revenue and global development for ad solutions company the Rubicon Project, said they were developing such a solution, one he predicted would be available in some fashion by the end of the year. "Flexible inventories will increase rates," he said.

Batson said publishers haven't done particularly well at managing their inventory but will eventually have systems with predictive modeling as sophisticated as the ones airlines have.

Look at how prosperous the airlines have become.

The pitch, when it is targeted at advertisers, goes something like this:

"Surveys have shown that advertisers are over-paying for online advertising by $7 billion a year. Using our technology you can buy ads that are highly targeted to your demographic. Our performance software will let you find the best time for showing your ads. And our auction system means you can buy ads at the lowest price possible. You can buy ads at significantly less than the published ad rates for the publication you want. You will save a ton of money."

It's a zero sum game. It's not win-win when money is involved. Someone wins and someone loses.The ad networks and ad exchanges work for the advertisers -- not the publishers.

Ad networks and ad exchanges have the advantage in that they can pull in lots of inventory from many sites -- scale is on their side and they sell that advantage to the advertiser -- not the publisher.

A publisher, even if it is a national newspaper or magazine, is still a small fish in a very large sea -- it has no leverage. If the publishers were to get together to create scale that benefits them -- that would be illegal, it would be anti-trust.

It's more than advertising...

And all this discussion about advertising and online publications is a red herring, anyway. The dirty little secret is that advertising doesn't work well online. It takes millions of impressions to make a decent number of conversion. Same for clicks, etc.

Yet online publishers are obsessed with trying to make online advertising work. It won't.

Publishers need a multi-revenue business model that includes a whole range of revenue streams: lead generation, events, custom marketing, webinars, virtual currencies, subscriptions, paywalls, etc. But that's hard work. It's much easier to complain about online advertising rates.

- - -

Please see:

The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model

Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love

Don't Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites | Techdirt

Mediagazer - Recognizing The Intersection Of Technology And Media

Gabe Rivera, well known for Techmeme, has unveiled a new news aggregator site: Mediagazer (media grazer might be a better name :).

Megan McCarthy is the site's editor (yes, Gabe uses human-enhanced news search algorithms).

Introducing Mediagazer «

The media business is in tumult: from the production side to the distribution side, new technologies are upending the industry. What do news organizations need to do to survive? Will books become extinct? When will an audience pay for content? Can video bring television and the internet together? Will the iPad save us all? Keeping up with these changes is time-consuming, as essential media coverage is scattered across numerous web sites at any given moment.

The site looks a lot like, which also covers the same space.

In her post, Ms McCarthy is describing how technology is changing the media industry. And that's what SVW has focused on these past five years : the business of innovation at the intersection of technology and media.

It's not until fairly recently that people recognize "the intersection of technology and media" idea. And I'm glad that this idea has caught on because it is the most interesting aspect of the tech industry and also Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley turned into a media valley a long time ago.

Google, Yahoo, Ebay, for example, are technology-enabled media companies. They publish pages of content with ads.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, for example, are technology-enabled media companies. They publish pages of content with ads.

And so are tons of startups... Silicon Valley is a Media Valley.

New York city's media industry is in sharp decline but ours is on the up and up.

Here is a behind the scene look at a Japanese TV team coming to my apartment to interview me about Silicon Valley becoming Media Valley, two years ago in February 2008.

In September 2007 Nikkei magazine, Japan's prestigious business magazine, featured me in a long article about Silicon Valley becoming Media Valley.

Here are some of my posts over the years:

April 2009 - Media In Transition: Silicon Valley Is Driving The Changes . . . And Is Changing

March 2009 - Media Is Dead . . . Long Live The Media!

May 2007 Silicon Valley Watcher - at the intersection of technology and media: Search Results

February 2007 Silicon Valley has become Media Valley - someone should tell NYC - SVW

September 2005 - A Report From NYC

I'm glad that more people now recognize what is going on in Silicon Valley and the importance of what happens at the intersection of technology and media.

Disruptive Technologies Disrupt

People like to talk about disruption but sometimes some people misunderstand the power of disruptive technologies.

I've had companies tell me: "Yes, we know we are in danger of disruption but we see it, we can adapt, we can change and take advantage of it."

Good luck. Even when you can see the train wreck ahead. You will likely slam right into it. Disruptive technologies disrupt. Technologies are not called "disruptive" just for the sake of it.

Niki Scevak, a serial entrepreneur, writing over at Bronte Media, has a nice analysis of AOL versus Yahoo. He says that AOL, under Tim Armstrong and his team, has a more realistic understanding of the advertising markets, and where things are headed.

Carol Bartz, who I am sure is an excellent manager of large companies, seems lost. See Arrington’s article on a speech she gave recently where she said: “she’s counting on an improvement in the economy to drive Yahoo growth”.

Well, let me save you some time Carol: Stop counting. The economy won’t help you...

The second thing that enrages me about that statement is that it’s completely out of her control. And what track record does Bartz have in forecasting economic indicators? Where are the statements related to things under her control?

Mr Scevak says he will short YHOO and buy AOL.

My main reason for thinking this is that AOL has a management team that is in tune with the reality of the Internet. Yahoo has a management team still grasping with the basics of advertising and that’s not mentioning the basics of online advertising.

A better strategy might be to short both because there is a huge disruptive wave moving through the media industry. The disruption is affecting every media business, old and new(er).

AOL might have a better view into the disruption but that's no guarantee of success. Just because you can see the train wreck ahead, doesn't mean you can avoid slamming straight into it.

Look at what happened with the microcomputer/PC technologies. Over a period of about a decade, that basket of technologies disrupted hundreds, if not thousands of companies, in the computer industry. IBM barely survived. It had to reinvent itself as a computer services company.

So many companies, DEC, etc, saw the disruption ahead. But they couldn't change fast enough, they couldn't downsize fast enough, they slammed straight into the train wreck. Some did make it through to the other side but many didn't. Disruptive technologies disrupt.

Even if you see things coming, as the newspaper companies now do, there's sometimes little they can do about it. The Internet is a hugely disruptive media technology and that's where we see the disruption the most.

Newspaper, and other media companies, have to act a lot faster than they are. Many won't make it through to the other side no matter what they do. Disruptive technologies disrupt.

(Oh, and by the way, every company now is a media company, every company is in a disruptive pathway. And here's a plug for my media/business strategy consultancy services, which help me publish SVW - 415 336 7547 or [email protected])

The "Heinz 57" Media Business Model

I'm sometimes asked what the new business model for media will be. My answer is that it will be a "Heinz 57" model. The Heinz food brand often has "57 varieties" in its promotions. And that's a good metaphor for the emerging media business model.

Frédéric Filloux illustrates this very well in his recent post about Fairfax Media, the Australian media giant. The company publishes 328 newspapers, 46 magazines, it operates 284 web sites, and 15 radio stations.

Fairfax Digital, a division of Fairfax Media, represents 10 percent of total revenues and 16 percent of its EBITDA in fiscal 2009.

Mr Filloux notes that:

... when we compare audiences for and in their respective markets, the Australian news sites has roughly three times the penetration of the NY Times. And if we compare advertising market shares: the SMH is doing twice as well as the NY Times.

And its impressive financial performance is based on multiple revenue streams.

FD had no less than 15 revenues streams: advertising, subscription, commission on auctions, paid by the transformation of a contact, listings, e-commerce, mobile fees, etc. In New Zealand alone, FD’s classifieds and auction site TradeMe serves 70% of all the country’s web pages.

You can read the rest of Mr Filloux's excellent profile here: Digital Takeover, The Fairfax way | Monday Note.

It's a great illustration of how multiple revenue streams are key to the success of future media companies. And each one will have a different mix of revenue streams.

But it is tough to manage many different revenue sources. We will have tools and services that will help publishers to stay on top of things but clearly, we need a new breed of publisher.

It's not enough to lunch out with a few of your top advertisers. Publishers will need to be expert in many different aspects of their business: advertising, content creation, custom marketing, subscription management, lead generation programs, events, syndication, virtual goods and currencies, and more.

Shakeup At Financial Times...

The Guardian reports that Chrystia Freeland, the US managing editor of the Financial Times ,is leaving to join Thomson Reuters.

She will be replaced by Gillian Tett, an award winning markets reporter.

Also, Dan Bogler, managing editor of the Financial Times is leaving.

Bogler, who joined the paper in 1995 as a Lex columnist, is becoming president and editor of Medley Global Advisors, which the FT Group bought in January.

MGA produces macro policy intelligence for investment banks, hedge funds and asset managers - a sort of pumped up, super expensive Lex service for high end clients.

Bogler will relocate to New York and Joanna Rollo, deputy managing editor of the FT, steps up to become acting managing editor.

Lex is the analysis column that appears at the back of the newspaper.

The US managing editor role is usually one that is a fast track to the top positions at the FT. This is a position previously held by Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, and also Robert Thomson, editor of the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times reports that Ms Freeland will write a weekly column on business and politics, and will help Reuters focus on consumer news.

Ms. Freeland, reporting directly to the editor in chief David Schlesinger, will be heavily involved in a new financial news video service the company will start this spring. She will also continue her role as a frequent face on television, commenting on the news -- the Reuters press release says she will "serve as Reuters principal on-air pundit for other external broadcast partners."

Hitwise Uncovers Puzzling Difference Between Sharing News And Consuming It

Heather Hopkins is senior online analyst at Hitwise, which monitors traffic to web sites for Experian. She writes that "Facebook Users Prefer Broadcast Media."

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry about Facebook becoming the largest news reader. Facebook does send more traffic to News and Media sites than Google News but looking more closely at the data, I noticed that the two sites send traffic to a very different list of News and Media websites.

The following table starts to tell the story, showing the top 10 News and Media websites visited after Facebook and Google News last week.

She's puzzled why there is such a large difference in the two lists. And she tries to run additional analysis to figure out why the two lists aren't more similar.

I think the answer is that she is comparing apples to oranges. I might go to Google news to become more informed about a particular news topic. But on Facebook I'm more likely to share a different type of news, about bad weather coming my way, or more quirky content about the rich and famous (People magazine), etc.

Ms Hopkins is comparing news that is shared (Facebook), with news that is consumed (Google News). There's a big difference, as she has discovered.

- - -

Please see: The Latest Pew Report Reveals Very Sophisiticated News Consumers - SVW

The Latest Pew Report Reveals Very Sophisiticated News Consumers

There are lots and lots of statistics in the latest Pew report: Understanding the Participatory News Consumer.

Here are a few things that jumped out for me:

- 9% have created "their own original news material or opinion piece." This is a very sophisticated group.

- 36% of Internet users want to manipulate the content on a news site themselves "as graphics, maps, and quizzes." Again, a very sophisticated survey sample.

- People will use many media platforms for their news.
"92% use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers."

- 7% use just a single media platform to get their news.

- Internet is now more popular than radio and newspapers as a source of news.

- People do not access news at specific times (i.e. no 'Ten o'clock News.')
"They seem to access news when the spirit moves them or they have a chance to check up on headlines."

- Weather is the most news worthy subject, followed by 81%.
"National events (73%), health and medicine (66%), business and the economy (64%), international events (62%), and science and technology (60%)."

- People want more science news the most.
"44% said [they want more] scientific news and discoveries, 41% said religion and spirituality, 39% said health and medicine, 39% said their state government, and 38% said their neighborhood or local community."

- News is being consumed so that it can be shared offline.
"Some 72% of American news consumers say they follow the news because they enjoy talking with others about what is happening in the world and 69% say keeping up with the news is a social or civic obligation."

- About 50% said they rely on others "to some degree," to tell them the news they need to know.

- Only one-third of cell phone users get their news through their phones. It seems that the format is lacking. This is important for all those news organizations rushing into mobile news.

- People feel overwhelmed.
"70% agreed with that statement: "The amount of news and information available from different sources today is overwhelming." Some 25% "completely agreed" with that statement and 45% "mostly agreed."

- 63% agreed that major news organizations do a good job. 72% said most news sources are biased. The Pew report authors say this is a dichotomy. But is it really? It shows that people are smart about their news sources and they recognize bias when they come across it. They can distinguish between the quality of the content and the bias in the reporting.

Interesting findings. But parts of the survey reveal an incredibly sophisticated news consumer which makes me suspicious about the survey sample and how much it can be applied to the general population.

The Korean Solution To Google's Italian Problem

Following an Italian court ruling earlier this week, Google is facing the prospect of having to check Italian sourced videos before they are posted, to make sure they don't violate Italian privacy laws.

That's a daunting task.

One potential way around this problem is to do what it did in South Korea last year. A new law forced Google to collect the real names of Koreans uploading videos or commenting online.

On the day the law came into effect, Google simply switched off the comments and blocked the ability for people to upload videos to its Korean YouTube site. Koreans were still allowed to upload video to YouTube sites in neighboring countries.

It was neat sidestep of its legal obligations.

Run for the border...

Courts only have jurisdiction within their country. But web sites and data, can be located anywhere. In the future, Iceland, might become a favored destination for Internet data because it is debating passing strong laws that protect freedom of speech.

Iceland plans future as global haven for freedom of speech | World news |

Google could use the international nature of the Internet to thumb its nose at any government seeking to control what it hosts.

Such a strategy however, is a risky one. If it chooses the wrong issue, it would be seen as an international pariah, which would harm its brand. After all, a competitor is always just one click away.

Google needs to decide whether its claim to "Internet freedom," as its right to host and distribute a video of a disabled boy being beaten and insulted, is one that would justify disregarding a country's laws.

There might be more important battles to be waged in the future and it would do well to keep its powder dry.

- - -
Please see:

Analysis: Italian Decision Could Help Traditional Media Orgs

Google Is A Media Company - New York Times Sees The Connection In Italian Court Case

Middleberg/SNCR Survey: Nearly One-Third Of Journalists Still *Not* Using Social Media

The Society For New Communications Research (SNCR) has published the 2nd Annual Middleberg/SNCR Survey of Media in the Wired World.

It showed a large increase in the use of social media by journalists. The survey polled 341 journalists.

It found:

- Nearly 70% of journalists surveyed are using social networking sites, a 28% increase since the results of the 2008 Survey of Media in the Wired World were released

- 48% are using Twitter or other microblogging sites and tools, a 25% increase since 2008

- 66% are reading blogs

- 48% are viewing videos online

- 25% are listening to podcasts

- Nearly 80% of journalists surveyed believe that bloggers have become important opinion-shapers in recent years

- 91% of journalists surveyed agree that new media and communications tools and technologies are enhancing journalism to some extent

Foremski's Take: I would expect a large increase in the use of social media by journalists and that's what we see here. However, what's really surprising is how many journalists are still not using social media. That's the biggest surprise.

I can't imagine not using social media and social networks in my research on stories, in contacting people, and in finding out what the key trends are in the communities that I cover: Silicon Valley, venture capital, enterprise IT, chips, computer security, media, PR, etc.

My job would be ten times harder if I didn't use social media, and related tools and services.

Let's view the above results in a different way:

- More than 30 per cent of journalists do not use social networking sites.

- 52 per cent of journalists don't use Twitter.

- One-third of journalists do not read blogs.

- More than half don't watch videos online.

- 75 percent of journalists do not listen to podcasts.

Yet 91 percent "agree that new media and communications tools and technologies are enhancing journalism to some extent."

When the results of the survey are viewed in this way, the results are shocking.

I would not want to employ journalists that don't know how to use social media to improve their work. I'm flabbergasted that the number is so high. This not 2005.

- - -

The survey was conducted by the Society for New Communications Research team of Jen McClure, SNCR founder and president, and SNCR Senior Fellow, Don Middleberg. Sponsored by Marketwire.

[Please note: I am a Founding Fellow of SNCR - a think tank based in Palo Alto.]

Analysis: Italian Decision Could Help Traditional Media Orgs

John Hooper reports in The Guardian: Google executives convicted in Italy over abuse video

Google responded furiously today after an Italian court found three of its executives guilty of violating the privacy of a child with autism who was shown being bullied in a video posted on its site.

...The case has potentially vast implications for the future of the internet. Hosting platforms such as Facebook and YouTube argue that they cannot be held responsible for content created by their users until they are informed that something is illegal. The Italian prosecutors contended that Google was negligent in not removing the video sooner.

Foremski's Take: There's a justifiable uproar within the international Internet community over this ruling. Jeff Jarvis over at BuzzMachine writes that this "kills the Internet." one will let anyone put anything online because the risk is too great. I wouldn't let you post anything here. My ISP wouldn't let me post anything on its servers. Google wouldn't let me post anything on it's services.

That's not true.

Things could be posted but they would have to be vetted first. Who's good at vetting content? Media organizations.

For example, pick up a newspaper. Everything in that newspaper has gone through an editorial process that has involved many people. And that's what makes that content valuable but also expensive to produce.

In online media, the economics are terrible. Online ads can't cover the costs of a large editorial operation. That means the more user generated content you can get, such as YouTube's hosting of other people's videos, the better.

Traditional media organizations are at a big disadvantage in the online world because of their large editorial teams. But that's precisely what you need now in Italy. You need editors to check any content posted online, to moderate comments as they do in "letters to the editor," etc.

I would think that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi should be quite happy with the judge's decision. From Wikipedia:

Berlusconi is the proprietor of three analogue television channels, various digital television channels, as well as some of the larger-circulation national news magazines. Together these account for nearly half the Italian market.

I doubt if the judges' ruling will stand because this would keep Italy's Internet sector out of step with the rest of the world. But it does show the value that professional media organizations provide to society. They would not have shown a video of a disabled boy being bullied unless it was part of an investigation.

But Google didn't see anything wrong with that video, even when, as The Guardian reported, the video "had shot to the top of the most-viewed list and been a subject of heated controversy."

Yes, the ruling is over the top but let's not forget that Google should bear some social responsibility in this case. And if that means hiring people to stay on top of these types of videos being uploaded, then it should do it.

I'm not saying the Italian ruling is a just one, but it does raise an important question of how much social responsibility should we ask of our Internet companies. We expect our other institutions to behave responsibly but not our Internet companies? That's not right.

It's a bit much for Google to argue that this ruling "attacks the very principles of freedom on which the internet is built."

The freedom to broadcast the video of a disabled boy being beaten and insulted? Really?

Analysis: There's Plenty Of News - There's Not Much Analysis

BusinessWeek reports that AOL has hired 500 journalists and is using traffic tools to determine which news stories to report, and how much traffic its news stories generate.

AOL Moves to Build Tech 'Newsroom of the Future' - BusinessWeek

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL tells BusinessWeek:

"We really want to enhance journalism with technology. We feel like we have a strategic window to invest in quality content."

Surely he means "quantity content?"

This story doesn't make any sense. Using tools to determine which news stories to write? What does this mean?

AOL will look at popular news and then write their own news stories? Well, it's too late by then.

You need experienced editors to assign news stories. A newsroom doesn't work by monitoring what people are searching for, or what someone has already published, and then writing the news stories.

The bigger issue is that we have plenty of news.

Look at Techmeme and other news aggregators. Each news story has dozens, even hundreds of similar news stories from other sites. People tend not to read a news story again somewhere else, they read the news story once.

That means each news story, even the original news story that broke the news, has to share the traffic with all other sources.

Yet Mr Armstrong believes that this is the way AOL can succeed, by piling onto a news flow that is already diluted with multiple sources.

There is tons of news out there, but there isn't much analysis. News analysis is rare and there are few good sources.

And that's why I focus on news analysis -- original content that you cannot get anywhere else.

I don't need to rush and try to break news embargos like some other news sites. I can sit back and craft a news analysis that no one else has, such as my iPad analysis [iPad Is an iDRM Storefront For Apple Ambitions To Dominate All Digital Media Sales].

This was published an hour after the news was released but gained a huge amount of traffic because it was something that no one else had at the time.

News is a commodity, news analysis is not. That's where AOL and its 500 journalists should be focused - creating original content.

1938media Names 100 Companies In TechCrunch 'Payola'

Loren Feldman, the publisher of 1938Media, a New York city based web site, has published the names of the companies that were the subject of 100 posts written by former TechCrunch writer Daniel Brusilovsky. [Unpaid Techcrunch Reporter Sacked For Bribe Attempt]

Michael Arrington, the publisher of Techcrunch, said that Mr Brusilovsky was sacked because he requested a Macbook Air in exchange for writing a post about a company. [An Apology To Our Readers]

Mr Brusilovsky said that he had not received any computers.

Mr Feldman said he has direct knowledge that three companies on the list, did deals in exchange for coverage.

Until this gets fully cleared up and aired out, every one of these companies, many irrelevant but others you might not suspect, has a shadow over them. And TechCrunch's behavior in this remains inexcusable. Editors at much larger publications have stepped down over far less.

Why do I even have to bother with this nonsense? Because someone should at least for a little while and it seems most of you are too busy checking into Foursquare to be worried about little things like integrity, after all you are the Mayor of your local Friday's.

He writes that the companies that did make deals should make a public admission before they are outed. " will get outed. I personally know of 3 that did deals, and I'm very low on the web food chain so others must know as well I'd bet."

He advises that the other companies on the list to come forward and say that they did not make any deals.

The list of the 100 companies is here.

He has already received several responses from companies on the list saying they were not involved in any deals: App of the Day, Atomplan, Avecora, PBworks, and Ramamia.

The companies that did make deals might be revealed by choosing to remain silent.

Mr Feldman has written repeatedly on this topic:

My Thoughts On Techcrunch And Daniel Brusilovsky

Techcrunch Still Can't Do The Right Thing

Techcrunch Has The Audacity To Want More Interns

He has written about Michael Arrington many times, and has also criticized him in videos, such as this one:

UPDATE: Mr Arrington has responded to Mr Feldman: Why You Should Confess Everything Before You Get Caught

... we didn't publish the names of the companies involved because, frankly, they were the victims of the whole thing.

... hopefully our readers will know that there's no funny stuff going on at TechCrunch. If there was, we'd be the first to write about it.

Apple's iDelete Censorship Technology Rears Its Ugly Head...

Last week I wrote that Apple would have the ability to delete content on the iPad.

The iPad And Its iDelete Censorship Technology - SVW

It seems Apple is already giving us a glimpse of the future with is latest ban on "sexy apps."

Jason Kincaid writes that this is "scary" because the banned apps are apps that were Apple approved. . . until Apple suddenly, and without warning, changed its mind and yanked them from its App store.'s setting a scary precedent. It's showing that it's comfortable throwing out applications that developers have spent their time and money building, without even bothering to give them advance notice.

This also sets a precedent for the iPad because both the iPhone and iPad share the same apps, the same technologies, the same online store.

You can bet any unauthorized biographies of Steve Jobs won't get iPad approved. But what about a review of an unauthorized biography of Steve Jobs in the New York Times' iPad version?

I'm sure you can come up with other scenarios. This type of thing is bound to be causing many publishers planning iPad versions of their newspapers and magazine pause for thought.

Reward! Up To $1 Million For Reporting Content Piracy

Wow. This looks like easy money. The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) "the principal trade association for the software and content industries" is offering rewards of $500 to $1 million, to any whistleblowers that report companies for stealing content.

The SIIA used to focus on software piracy.

Through its Corporate Content Anti-Piracy (CCAP) Program, SIIA pursues cases of copyright infringement of members' content that are taking place by or within an organization. This content includes text-based publications like articles in newspapers, magazines and newsletters, books - whether in traditional print or made available online.

There is a massive amount of content being stolen by web sites every day. They run Google ads around the content. This happens to my content all the time.

But it is difficult to find the owners of the web sites.

A better strategy might be for the SIIA to take action against Google for profiting from the stolen content. If Google withdrew its AdSense network from those third party web sites, there would be no incentives for the practice to continue.

The SIAA is also interested in internal uses, a potentially very large can of worms.

The SIAA today reported that it had successfully settled a copyright infringement claim against In the Know, Inc., in exchange for a "five figure sum."

In the Know, Inc. a small business located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, manufactures custom-designed reprints and plaques. SIIA learned of the infringement though a confidential tip and a subsequent investigation verified its reliability.

"In the Know is a reputable business that made a very costly mistake," said SIIA Litigation Counsel Scott Bain. "We are pleased with the settlement and hope that it alerts other users of copyrighted content to the importance of securing proper licenses, even for internal copying and distribution."

In 2009, the SIIA paid out $127,000 in rewards. You can submit a content piracy report here:

Bonnier's Mag+ e-Reader Concept

Apple's iPad seems to have sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of already dominating what the e-reader experience is -- even though it is still months away from introduction.

But there are others thinking about the same things.

Here is an excellent video showing a concept for an e-reader platform called Mag+, that was produced late last year by Swedish magazine publisher Bonnier, and its design partner BERG. (Hat tip Keith Woolcock)

Digital Magazines: Bonnier Mag+ Prototype

It has been designed for a world in which interactivity, abundant information and unlimited options could be perceived as intrusive and overwhelming.

The purpose of publishing this concept video is first and foremost to spark a discussion around the digital reading experience in general, and digital reading platforms in particular. Thus, we would be more than happy to hear what you have to say regarding the concept and ideas expressed in the video: the magazine reading experience, digital browsing, text versus images, as well as hear about your own digital reading experiences and thoughts. We are all ears.

Follow the discussion in the comments below, in our blog and on Twitter.

Ruling Could Shut Down Google Book Project This Thursday

Bobbie Johnson at writes that a ruling is expected on Thursday in the dispute over Google's plans to digitize millions of in-copyright books. [Ruling due on Google's book plan | Technology |]

It's not looking good for Google. It is facing opposition from the Department of Justice, the Open Book Alliance, and prominent authors.

...including Ursula Le Guin, who resigned from the Authors Guild amid accusations that it was making a "deal with the devil" and selling its members "down the river".

Google's position:

"Approval of the settlement will open the virtual doors to the greatest library in history," it said. "To deny the settlement will keep those library doors locked."

Foremski's Take: Google should have made this project 'open source,' in the sense that a shared digital repository could be produced by many parties and held in common, open to all.

Google, (and anyone else), can then apply their search algorithms against the digital text, whoever does a better job, wins.

In this way, it could avoid all the fuss and legal mess, and still fulfill its mission of making all the world's information searchable. After all, Google's value is in the algorithms that produce its index, not in the content itself.

When Google indexes the Internet, it doesn't own the content. Why does it insist that it hold the content of millions of books?

Could Bundled Deals Set The iPad Free?

The low-end iPad has a retail price of $499 and a materials and manufacturing cost of about $229, according to iSuppli.

Clearly, Apple has plenty of room to be flexible on pricing, just as it did with the iPhone, which started at $599 and is now $199.

Apple plans to take a 30% cut on any media that is bought by iPad users through its online store.

That means Apple could sell the iPad for $100 and still profit from all the media it can sell over the lifetime of the iPad.

But what is more likely is a situation where Apple can sell the Pad for $100 to publishers and then they can offer it for free as part of a subscription deal.

For example, Ryan Tate over at Gawker, reports that the New York Times is considering charging as much as $30 per month for a subscription to the iPad version of the newspaper.

At that price, the New York Times would have enough margin to offer a 'free' iPad with an annual subscription. Especially since it can charge advertisers higher rates for the richer ads it can deliver on the iPad.

Another scenario is that publishers will band together and offer a free iPad with a bundle of subscriptions, say a local newspaper, a book of the month club, and some magazines such as Atlantic Monthly or the Economist...

Whatever the bundle, there is clearly plenty of room for jiggling the maths and coming up with a free iPad deal in exchange for a subscription.

A key advantage for Apple is that the publishers will be advertising the iPad bundles, Apple won't have to spend a dime on that promotion -- another reason why it can offer the iPad for a reduced price to the publishers.

However, while newspapers and magazines can ask for higher ad prices on iPad media, they will also have to provide metrics data. Unlike a paper publication, the digital iPad will provide a means to track which pages were looked at, which ads were touched, videos viewed, etc.

The risk is that bundled deals might attract the wrong type of customers, those that want a cheap iPad. That means they aren't viewing the ads, and that means the publishers' ad revenue could be disappointing.

But for Apple, it's all good because more people have iPads and that means potential sales of all other media from other publishers: music, books, Hollywood, etc.

Either way, the economics of the media industry could set the iPad free. That means trouble for other eReaders. That also means preemptive strikes by Amazon Kindle. Techcrunch reports that Amazon is trying to figure out how to give a free Kindle to Amazon Prime subscribers.

- - -

Please see:

The iPad And Its iDelete Censorship Technology

Analysis: iPad Is an iDRM Storefront For Apple Ambitions To Dominate All Digital Media Sales

Analysis: DRMStore Wars Begin...Bad News For E-Books, E-Readers But Good For Notebooks

What The News Industry Can Learn From The Diamond Industry

The excellent Atlantic Monthly published this article: Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?. It's about the origin of the De Beers organization, which sells diamonds.

As I was reading it it struck me that there might be some lessons here for the news industry.

Take a look at this:

Until the late nineteenth century, diamonds were found only in a few riverbeds in India and in the jungles of Brazil, and the entire world production of gem diamonds amounted to a few pounds a year.

In 1870, however, huge diamond mines were discovered near the Orange River, in South Africa, where diamonds were soon being scooped out by the ton. Suddenly, the market was deluged with diamonds.

The British financiers who had organized the South African mines quickly realized that their investment was endangered; diamonds had little intrinsic value--and their price depended almost entirely on their scarcity.

In the online world, there's tons of news, the market is deluged with news. News stories had value when there was scarcity (newspapers were sole sources in local markets).

So what did the diamond producers do?

The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had no alternative but to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds.

The instrument they created, in 1888, was called De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., incorporated in South Africa."

What can the news industry do? Merge their interests into a single entity, a type of 'De Beers Consolidated News, Ltd' incorporated in Iceland (to avoid anti-trust).

There is a huge industry that lives off of the professional news industry. Much of that could be swallowed up into 'De Beers Consolidated News,' which could become its own news aggregator, its own Google News, Digg, Stumbleupon, etc.

'De Beers Consolidated News' could provide a single point of licensing for online reprints, reuse, etc. It might even use my idea of 'adtribution' in which reusers of news copy agree to carry the text-ads of the original news site, thereby using the power of the Internet and third parties, to disseminate news and ads.

Only the online content would be aggregated in 'De Beers Consolidated News.'

Take a look at Fair Syndication Consortium. That's getting close to a 'De Beers Consolidated News.'

- News sources that were fast, and accurate, could be rewarded by the best syndication deals.

- More money would be returned to fund high quality news stories.

- It would be a virtuous cycle. Much better than the current cycle of newsroom cutbacks, crap news stories . . . more death spiral than cycle.

Newspapers Hate Attribution - Reason New York Times Got Into Trouble...

The New York Times published this on its 'Corrections' section:

...a Times reporter appears to have improperly appropriated wording and passages published by other news organizations.

The reporter, Zachery Kouwe, reused language from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other sources without attribution or acknowledgment.

The Times was alerted to the problem by editors at The Wall Street Journal. They pointed out extensive similarities between a Journal article, first published on The Journal's Web site...

As John Furrier from Silicon Angle pointed out in a Tweet, bloggers reuse language in news stories all the time. They don't get into trouble because they attribute and they link back to the original.

I've worked on newspapers and I can tell you: newspapers hate to attribute anything to anybody. We would rewrite Reuters news stories even when we had the right to republish the entire news story. Why? Because newspapers want it look like their reporters originate the news -- not other news organizations.

When I became a journalist/blogger more than five years ago, I loved the fact that I could quote directly from many news sources and then add my contribution to the story.

But the New York Times newsroom culture is slow to change. This embarrassment wouldn't have been an embarrassment if its reporters were allowed to do the decent thing and attribute and link back.

In today's online newsroom, you have to attribute and link because there isn't enough time to try to 'stand-up' a story that someone else has broken, using your own contacts. That might have been possible when your next deadline was hours away, but that doesn't work today.

UPDATE: Marketing Pilgrim reports: 89% of Journalists Source Stories From Social Media, Yet Only 15% Admit Its Importance

A new survey by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University, suggests that 89% of journalists source their stories from blogs, 65% from social networks such as Facebook, and 52% from Twitter.

That's no surprise.

Yet despite this admission, journalists continue to downplay the importance of social media to their reporting efforts, with just 15% citing it as "important."

This also means that they won't attribute and link back!

- - -

Please see:

5yrs: Lessons From A Blogger/Journalist - The Start of A Series

5yrs: Where's The Disruption From The Internet?

5yrs: Meeting Cisco's Dan Scheinman and Realizing Every Company Is Now A Media Company

5yrs: Wish Everyone Well . . .

5yrs: Where Have All The Blogs Gone?

5yrs: Building A Better Mousetrap

The iPad And Its iDelete Censorship Technology

David Ridsdale pointed me to this excellent article by Frederic Filloux: The iParanoid Scenario.

He writes about French privacy laws that enable judges to rule that a news magazine, or any other type of publication, has to be with withdrawn because it contains information that has violated privacy laws.

France has a long history of using such practices to censor news.

In the early '60s, the country was waging a colonial war in Algeria. Then, for the most avid news readers, the game was to get the weekly magazine L'Express at the kiosk as early as possible before French authorities seized it...

What happens if the magazine is on your iPad?

Since with the iPad, Apple is seeking to control the entire value chain, from approval of iPad apps, through to delivery, and the look and feel of the media -- it must also have an iDelete capability built-in.

Mr Filloux makes an excellent point that even if a newspaper is willing to fight a court battle against parties that would seek to suppress a news story -- Apple could be ordered directly by a court to delete that content.

The truth is that, given the pattern of legal actions against the press in France, it is more than certain a French judge will be tempted to request an immediate remote deletion of presumably infringing content.

Wow. The very existence of the iPad threatens free speech rights. Or to put it another way, dominant, proprietary closed systems endanger free speech. He's right.

But, there is always the Internet, an open platform...

Of course, we have the option to go on the Internet, but it is exactly as though, in the '60s, the journalists of L'Express had mimeographed and distributed their Algerian war stories by hand in the streets of Paris. Nice move, but tiny audience and no money.

Mr Filloux has done an excellent job in highlighting the risks to news journalism from a dominant and closed media tablet such as the iPad.

And we will have the iDelete function working, even when we don't know what was deleted. Why? Because we can. Because it will be touted as a benefit, it's an 'auto-correct' feature that fixes mistakes such as "the capital of Venezuela is Paris." It's a way of ensuring accurate information.

And a way to potentially suppress accurate information.

Yes, news organizations could fight court battles over the accuracy of their stories, and maybe even win, and have their deleted articles reinstated. But that's an expensive way to uphold free speech rights. The last time I looked the newspaper publishers were losing money -- lots of it.

[Earnings season: Newspapers finish 14th straight revenue-losing quarter; some intel from Wall Street filings]

I guess fear of news censorship is a moot point, at least here in the US. With no money for investigative reports there hasn't been much news published that risks being covered up.

A weak newspaper industry is enough of a threat to free speech and the great muckraking traditions of the press.

It is well put in this December 8 Op-Ed from the Wall Street Journal:

...newspapers have prospered for one reason: the trust that comes from representing their readers' interests and giving them the news that's important to them. That means covering the communities where they live, exposing government or business corruption, and standing up to the rich and powerful.

Well said by Rupert Murdoch.

If trust is important to success, will a newspaper on the iPad inspire trust? It doesn't look that way.

- - -

Please see:

Analysis: iPad Is an iDRM Storefront For Apple Ambitions To Dominate All Digital Media Sales

Analysis: DRMStore Wars Begin...Bad News For E-Books, E-Readers But Good For Notebooks

NYTimes May Have To Sell

Niki Scevak, over on Bronte Media has a knack for delving into financial numbers and coming up with a new angle on familiar stories.

Here, he takes a look at the New York Times Company's recent financial quarter, which was generally considered good in that Internet advertising did not decline - the first time in more than a year. And the company beat analyst earnings estimates of 38 cents a share with earnings of 44 cents a share.

But a closer look at the numbers reveals that, which is a site that some people have compared to Demand Media, because it pays writers very little to produce content, was responsible for the majority of the improvement in the company's numbers.

The important point here is that the New York Time's least journalistic editorial product is its most profitable. Yet the majority of its business costs are related to it being able to keep hundreds of highly trained journalists and editors working on news stories and related articles.

How long can this continue? The New York Times is carrying a lot of debt and will have to pay around $90 million this year in interest expense, while its revenue minus operating costs, is around $100 million.

Mr Scevak writes: is currently propping up the firm and will likely generate about $60 million in gross profit but unless the News operations stabalize at a greater rate then the company will be forced to sell the crown jewel (the irony of calling a site filled with 'how to boil an egg' type articles the 'crown jewel' vs the wider nytimes group is not lost on me).

Clearly, a lot more cost cutting is needed. The New York Times might also need to move more quickly with its paywall plans, which are currently set for next year.

This is a graphic example of how the economics of online news are unable to support an established, professional news organization, even one that has the brand power, and the high traffic, of the New York Times.

It's another example of 'you can't get there from here,' how the old media cannot transition to the new media world. This is why there is a huge amount of disruption still to come in newspapers, TV, and radio.

- - -

Please see:

A Massive Hole in New York Times' Paywall Plan - Here's A Better Plan...

NYT: Charging Ahead (Slowly) - Paywall in 2011

The Times Company Acquires for $410 Million

Major European Newspapers Behind Paywalls

The Berliner Morgenpost and the Hamburger Abendblatt have launched paywalls, and Le Figaro, a major French newspaper is expected to have its paywall ready later this month, reports

Access to all content on now costs €4.95 (£4.32/$6.79) per month. A premium subscription to costs €7.95 (£6.93/$10.90) per month. has a mixture of free and premium content: it appears it charges extra for content specific to the Hamburg region, while making national news free. Subscriptions for both are renewed on a monthly basis.

The Times, Rupert Murdoch's flagship UK newspaper, is expected to have a paywall in the 2nd quarter of this year.

The good news for US newspaper companies is that they can learn important lessons from the early European newspaper paywall ventures.

Today's New York Times has a report about the debate over newspaper paywalls. Brad Stone writes about the different views of Rupert Murdoch, and Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian.

Media Cache - Free vs. Paid, Murdoch vs. Rusbridger -

Having "ruthlessly cut the price of his papers to below cost in order to win audiences or drive out competition," Mr. Rusbridger said in a recent speech, "this same Rupert Murdoch is being very vocal in asserting that the reader must pay a proper sum for content -- whether in print or digitally."

Unpaid Techcrunch Reporter Sacked For Bribe Attempt

This is what happens when you have unpaid or low paid writers. Daniel Brusilovsky, a reporter for Techcrunch, was sacked after someone accused him of asking for a Macbook Air in exchange for a post about a company.

Mike Arrington, founder of Techcrunch said that all of his posts have been erased from the archives. And that Mr Brusilovsky did manage to get at least one computer from an unnamed source in exchange for coverage. [An Apology To Our Readers]

He was described as an 'intern.' Which means he was unpaid, or paid the minimum California wage.

[Update: John Furrier from Silicon Angle says he spoke Daniel and was told he did not receive any payment from Techcrunch and had no contract.]

Some observers said that he didn't know what he was doing because of his age, 16. But he spent nine months at Techcrunch and saw how things are done. He knew what he was doing.

However, we don't know what exactly happened. He hasn't given his side of the story and responded to Mr Arrington's specific allegations.

At least not much damage was done. It's not as if Mr Brusilovsky was bribed to squash a "Deep Throat' sourced story.

Techcrunch's stories are all very innocent, mostly about some new product feature. or a startup profile. I doubt readers would be able to distinguish the bribed stories from the rest.

Are other reporters and bloggers for online news sites vulnerable to bribery? Yes, they are, especially if they aren't paid or low paid -- which is the case with most. Low wages are endemic among the online press corps because advertising supported news sites don't make much money per post.

I'm surprised more stories haven't surfaced about this type of behavior. It's no wonder that the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer found a large fall in trust for all media.

Wow! Edelman Survey Finds Trust In Peers Plunges!!! Bad News For Social Media Mavens

- - -

Please see:

An Apology To Our Readers

Weblog of Daniel Brusilovsky » Blog Archive » The Line Was Crossed

Tech Journalism Wunderkind in Bribery Scandal - Techcrunch - Gawker

Study: Grim News For Print, Radio, TV As Marketers Shift Budgets To Social Media And Other Channels

A global study by Econsultancy, commissioned by ExactTarget, an email and personal marketing firm, has found that 41 per cent of marketers will decrease their spending on print and other offline media this year.

The study questioned 1,000 company and agency marketers around the world.

- 28% are shifting their overall budgets to digital in 2010.

- 66% of companies plan to increase online marketing budgets.

- 30% of companies are keeping online marketing budgets at the same level.

- Forecast: 17% increase in digital marketing budgets for: social media, mobile marketing, email marketing, and search.

70 per cent of in-house marketers plan to increase their budgets for off-site social media marketing efforts, using agencies to engage with audiences on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites.

But according to agency respondents the biggest impediment to digital marketing investment is a general lack of understanding of digital marketing channels. Just under half (48%) of agency respondents cite this as the key reason, which prevents their clients from investing more money in this area.

Linus Gregoriadis, research director at Econsultancy. "Social media marketing is the area where companies are most likely to be spending more money during 2010, but areas such as search engine marketing and email marketing will remain buoyant."

Foremski's Take: It's hardly surprising to see online marketing budgets growing. What is surprising is that the shift to digital marketing isn't faster.

The problem is that digital marketing is a very fragmented area and is becoming even more fragmented as new media channels, such as Twitter, open up. Marketing executives are faced with the daunting challenge of having to manage and measure the effectiveness of many online marketing channels.

The addition of tools and technologies that help target marketing at individuals will increase the complexity of the job. While much is spoken about the benefits of targeted marketing at individuals, little is said about the headaches of managing such programs.

Buying a Super Bowl ad is easy. Launching, managing, and monitoring the performance of highly targeted marketing campaigns across many digital channels is very difficult.

There is a huge amount of data generated by digital marketing. That data is valuable because it holds the keys to greater efficiencies. But that data can also overwhelm marketers with too much information and choices -- freezing decision making.

But that's the reality for today's marketing executives...the CMO of a large company probably has the most challenging job in the C-suite.

Hitwise: Facebook Becoming Major News And Media Distributor

Heather Hopkins, senior analyst at Hitwise, which tracks traffic to large web sites, says Facebook is become a major news reader.

Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn. News and Media is the #11 downstream industry after Facebook, receiving 3.69% of the social networking site's traffic. To offer a comparison, 6% of downstream traffic from Facebook went to Shopping and Classifieds last week and 6% to Business and Finance and 15% went to Entertainment websites (YouTube in particular).

She adds:

"Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category. And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch."

Please see: Facebook Largest News Reader?

AdSafe Report: User Generated Content Can Harm Brands

AdSafe Media, which monitors online advertising, reported that in Q4 2009, that about 27 per cent of online display advertising on sites with user generated content was inappropriate for brand advertisers due to problem subject matter.

Problem content included hate speech and invisible traffic. AdSafe said that about 25 per cent of all display ads were on sites with UGC content.

David Hahn, VP of Product for AdSafe, said he was concerned about "the large percentage of invisible, UGC and hate speech associated inventory we observed in Q4. Without full visibility of display inventory, brands and agencies are unable to understand the quality or brand appropriateness of inventory."

Foremski's Take: As many media sites add user generated content to their publishing mix, to generate additional pageviews, they could face problems from existing brand advertisers.

They will need to moderate their UGC content, which will add to their costs. But this could also be an important point of distinction, since moderated UGC will be of higher value to advertisers and should result in improved advertising rates.

Edelman Barometer: Trust Is Very Volatile Across ALL Media Inc Social

We share a common belief that trust is an important currency in today's world especially in the digital realm.

Trust, we are taught, is hard won. It takes a long time to establish trust yet it can be destroyed in minutes.

But is that really true?

I've been looking at the Edelman Trust Barometer reports and it shows that trust in businesses, in media both social and traditional, in NGOs, in governments, jumps up and down by large margins from year to year.

I've been particularly interested in trust in social and traditional media. In the latest report, trust in peers, which represents social media, plunged by 20 points from 47 percent of those surveyed in the prior year, to 27 percent. Trust in other forms of media also fell by large margins.

[Wow! Edelman Survey Finds Trust In Peers Plunges!!! Bad News For Social Media Mavens]

Yet in 2008 I reported that the Edelman survey showed: Mainstream Media Trust Soars

"American's trust in mainstream media jumps an astonishing 36 per cent to 45 per cent from 33 percent in the prior year. "

It looks like 'trust' is a very volatile commodity. It's not a slow build. It can be quickly reestablished.

- How will this affect businesses and their competitive strategies?

- Is it worth taking risks with 'trust' because any wrong turns can be relatively quickly repaired?

This could lead to anti-social business practices, as companies pursue questionable strategies for short-term profits because new 'trust' can be quickly built back up.

It would be good to see future Edelman Trust Barometers cast some light on the reasons why trust is such a surprisingly volatile quality.

Does More Media Lead To Less Total Media Trust?

In my recent post about the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, social media fared badly. But ALL media fared nearly as badly.

Why is that?

- Is it because we now have more media now than ever before, both social and traditional sources of media?

- Is it because more of any thing, devalues that thing? We have more media in more forms, at more times, than at anytime in our history. Is trust in media being lost because trust has become more diluted?

- Traditional media still leads as a source for social media. But traditional media is under pressure, with fewer resources. That means more mistakes, less time to check sources, resulting in a lower quality product. That can't be good for building trust in media.

- Is social media losing trust because of all the social media marketeers that seem to be the loudest voices in many streams?

That would make it seem as if social media can be manipulated, or used to an advantage by businesses. Which is exactly what the social media mavens are saying. A key finding of the Edelman Trust Barometer is that trust in businesses is fragile.

Therefore, is it business involvement in social media that is affecting people's trust in social and traditional media?

- Trust seems to be a volatile commodity. Our common belief is that trust takes time to build yet can be destroyed in minutes. So does that mean rebuilding trust across all media will now be a long hard slog?

The Edelman survey has raised some interesting questions.

Here's a recap of findings from the Edelman Trust Barometer:

- Trust in information from friends and peers, "people like me," dropped by 20 points, from 47 to 27 percent.

- Trust in information from digital media--blogs, social networks, and free content sources like Wikipedia or Google news, remains low: only between 11 percent and 22 percent of respondents express trust in information about companies from these sources.

- Trust in credibility of TV news declined by 20 points, from 44 to 24 percent.

- Trust in news coverage on the radio dropped by 17 points, from 48 to 31 percent.

- Trust in newspapers fell by 14 points, from 46 to 32 percent.

- Only 38 percent trust media (as an institution) to do what is right, down from 46 percent in 2008.

- - -

Please see:

2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

Wow! Edelman Survey Finds Trust In Peers Plunges!!! Bad News For Social Media Mavens

The annual Edelman Trust Barometer always yields some interesting results. The tenth survey consisted of 4,875 interviews (25 years to 64 years):

The finding that jumped out at me was this one (buried in the report):

- Trust in information from friends and peers, "people like me," dropped by 20 points, from 47 to 27 percent.

- Trust in information from digital media--blogs, social networks, and free content sources like Wikipedia or Google news, remains low: only between 11 percent and 22 percent of respondents express trust in information about companies from these sources.


This is bad news for PR agencies. Social media has been the 'point of the spear' for so many firms. This is what has been bringing in new business.

This is bad news for all the 'social media experts' out there trying to convince companies to buy their services because of the potential brand damage from not responding to 'conversations' in social media.

What's the point in jumping to engage if people don't trust their peers anyway?

This is bad news for 'citizen' journalism. People don't trust news written by their peers. So much for traditional media outlets trying to pad out their coverage with local bloggers. This potentially lowers trust in the media brand.

This is bad news for many startups that offer real-time monitoring of the 'social' web. There is less need for their services.

It's not just social media...

Other types of media have also fallen in the Edelman Trust Barometer, but not all to the same extent as trust in peers.

- Trust in credibility of TV news declined by 20 points, from 44 to 24 percent.

- Trust in news coverage on the radio dropped by 17 points, from 48 to 31 percent.

- Trust in newspapers fell by 14 points, from 46 to 32 percent.

- Only 38 percent trust media (as an institution) to do what is right, down from 46 percent in 2008.

- Media companies (as an industry) have declined in credibility by 16 points (from 48 to 32 percent).

- In the U.S., media companies are tied with the insurance industry for last place. Banks are second from the bottom.

- Top trusted industry is technology and it has widened its lead over other industries.

- Tied for the second most trusted industry is Biotech and Automotive at 63 percent, followed by Energy, Retail and Food at 61 percent.

Here is Richard Edelman, head of the largest independent PR agency presenting some of the findings at an employee event:

Please see:

Does More Media Lead To Less Total Media Trust?

2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

Amazon Gives In -- It Should Not Be Telling Publishers What To Charge

Amazon decided that fighting with Macmillan over book pricing was a wrong move. [Analysis: DRMStore Wars Begin...Bad News For E-Books, E-Readers But Good For Notebooks]

Sunday afternoon Amazon published this notice:

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative...Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Good news. Amazon should not be in the business of telling publishers what they can charge for their books. It might have been able to do that if it had a monopoly on e-readers, but thankfully it doesn't.

Amazon should just distribute the books and collect the money. It already gets a big chunk of the revenues. It charges newspapers as much as 70 per cent of the revenue to distribute on the Kindle! For what? For pushing some bits over a pipe? How much creativity went into that?

Dallas Morning News CEO James Moroney told a Senate subcommittee yesterday that the Kindle isn't a "platform that's going to save newspapers in the near term." According to Moroney, Amazon demands 70 percent of subscription revenue from newspapers, and further requires content owners to grant Amazon the right to republish content to other devices -- like, say, the iPhone.

The Red Herring Of Web Site Traffic Numbers - Counting The Wrong Metric

Mathew Ingram has done a nice job summarizing this weekend's tempest in a tea cup among Jason Calacanis, Mike Arrington, and Fred Wilson, the East Coast VC, over web site traffic metrics provided by Comscore.

Mr Calacanis is upset Comscore wants to charge thousands of dollars to provide accurate web site traffic reports, while acknowledging that their free version is inaccurate.

He says it's a form of blackmail because media buyers buy advertising according to Comscore's traffic rating -- if Comscore under reports your traffic because you won't pay for their more accurate premium service -- you lose money. He has a point.

[Mathew Ingram: Calacanis Takes on comScore -- and Fred Wilson -]

Foremski's Take: The arguments over site metrics is quite educational. I found out about the many different traffic counting methodologies, and the tricks that sites use to inflate their numbers.

But the heated debate over how to measure traffic, is, ultimately, a red herring. It's not the traffic that matters it's the advertising conversions.

Today, may advertisers still buy media based on a site's traffic but that's not the trend. Advertisers are increasingly able to measure their conversation rate -- and that becomes the number they measure.

That's the number that means something regardless of how total traffic is counted.

It doesn't matter if Comscore says your site's traffic is twice as large as it did before -- if your advertisers can't convert that traffic to sales then your site might as well have no traffic at all.

Media companies are in a tough spot...

Advertisers have so many ways to optimize their media buys. They are becoming more and more efficient at placing ads in the right places at the right times and getting the best price for those ads.

Media companies don't have that same leverage.

That's why advertising will become a less important revenue stream for most media brands.

Baked beans...

The future media business model will be what I call a 'Heinz 57' model: many multiple revenue streams.

Some of it will be advertising, some of it will be paywalls, sponsorships, virtual currencies, lead generation, events, and more...

It will be tough to manage all those revenue streams but that's what will sort out the competitors from each other. Publishers won't be able to lunch out with key customers -- they'll have to stay at their desk managing many relationships, and many sources of revenues, in real-time. Their job is going to get a lot harder.

That's why all this tussle over site traffic metrics is so silly.

- - -

Please see:

Gawker Media Focuses On Uniques As Key Metric

Adify: Everything Is Hunky Dory In Online Advertising

MediaWatch: Nick Denton - The Micropublishing Dream Is Dead

Newspaper Paywalls Could Be Used To Spread Misinformation...

The problem with newspaper paywalls is that they can increase misinformation.

For example, if I write an article that says the Wall Street Journal reported accounting discrepancies at publicly traded ACME Corp, and provide a link to but you don't have a subscription -- that means you cannot verify the story.

Investors might sell shares in ACME Corp. and I could profit if I held a short position on the stock.

Granted, this is an extreme example but it is possible. And there are many other variations of this scheme that would enable misinformation to be circulated because of newspaper paywalls.

Trusted sources but unverifiable...

Information that comes from large media brands is inherently trusted " seen on Oprah!" But those media brands are trying to figure out their online business models and that means paywalls.

Paywalls are going up at New York Times, at News Corp titles, and at many other publications.

The New York Times has a solution to the misinformation problem. It said that if a reader comes through a link on a blog post, the story will be freely available.

That's a great solution to the verification of a story and it would make it very difficult for someone to use NYT stories for nefarious purposes.

But, there is a huge problem with that approach -- it shatters its paywall.

I could build a shadow blog site and offer free access to all NYTimes stories for free, for anyone that comes through my site. [A Massive Hole in New York Times' Paywall Plan]

The NYTimes will have to plug that hole and that means we're back to square one: newspaper paywalls could be used to spread misinformation.

- - -
Please see:

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers - SVW

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

Virtual cash could save newspapers | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

A Massive Hole in New York Times' Paywall Plan - Here's A Better Plan...

Jay Rosen, a journalism teacher at NYU, points out an interesting aspect of the New York Times' future paywall. Access to NYTimes articles will be free and unmetered if readers follow a link to that article found on another web site.

Wow. That means I could simply produce a shadow web site of and offer free access to anyone to the entire content of the site!

Here is the extract from answers to questions sent to Janet Robinson, president and chief executive of the Times company, and Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president for digital operations.

"If you are coming to from another Web site and it brings you to our site to view an article, you will have access to that article and it will not count toward your allotment of free ones."

I can see what the management is trying to do, it is trying to harness the distributive power of the Internet and the social media sharing trend, but it is also opening up a huge hole in its paywall.

How serious is the New York Times about having a paywall when it seems it will be very easy to bypass it?

I have a better plan:

Use the metered approach in which people's visits are counted and when they reach a specific number you cut them off.

People that click through to a story from a blog post get one free credit. But only if they come through a blog post on a site that has agreed to "adtribution."

Adtribution combines links and quotes with text ads from the source.

In this example, where the blog post quoting the New York Times article has agreed to run between one and three simple text advertisements that are designated by the New York Times, its readers can click through for free. By agreeing to use adtribution, the New York Times essentially offers a license to the blog site to quote and link to its original story.

In this way, the newspaper can get distribution for its news, and its advertisers.

Less than half click through...

This is important because a recent study by Outsell found that only 44% of Google News readers click through to the original article.

If that's the case with New York Times too, then the newspaper needs to be able to at least place some of its advertising in front of readers at the point where others (bloggers) are making use of their stories.

By agreeing to quote and link to New York Times stories in exchange for running a text ad link or links, the New York Times can essentially license those bloggers and help generate some much needed revenues.

Bloggers that don't agree to adtribution would be risking legal action, and, they would be seen by their readers as parasites on the work of others.

The future media business model...

The future media business model will be a 'Heinz 57' model -- it will consist of many streams of revenues: subscription, advertising, lead generation, virtual currencies, etc.

It will be tough to monitor and manage all those revenue streams but we can develop the tools to do that and there will be lots of third party services to help.

The New York Times is wise to wait until 2011 to figure out its paywall, it'll give it time to plug potentially massive holes, and investigate new variations, such as adtribution.

BTW: Here's another problem - Newspaper Paywalls Could Be Used To Spread Misinformation...

- - -

Please see:

NYT: Charging Ahead (Slowly) - Paywall in 2011

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers - SVW

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

Virtual cash could save newspapers | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

NYT: Charging Ahead (Slowly) - Paywall in 2011

The New York Times (NYT) says it will begin charging for some online content in early 2011.

But executives of The New York Times Company said they could not yet answer fundamental questions about the plan, like how much it would cost or what the limit would be on free reading. They stressed that the amount of free access could change with time, in response to economic conditions and reader demand.

This is hardly a bold move. It smacks of indecision. The NYT should have said "we'll see how Rupert Murdoch fares with his paywalls then we'll copy whatever works."

Jeff Jarvis on Buzz Machine, has been a paid advisor to the NYT. He recently wrote:

They would would end up charging -- and, they should fear, sending away -- the readers who are worth the most while serving free those who are worth least. . .The logic eludes me. So do the economics.

There's nothing wrong with identifying repeat readers but I think the NYT should target frequent readers with offers of subscriptions, bundled with package deals such as half-price MOMA memberships and discounts at Barney's.

Here is the NYT staff memo about the coming paywall:

...our metered model decision is a product of months of vigorous analysis and debate.

Second UK Tech Title Launched In Less Than A Week

Thinq, an online tech news magazine based in London, launched this week, making it the second UK tech magazine launch in less than a week.

Last week I reported that Mike Magee, one of the UK's top media entrepreneurs had launched a new title: TechEYE.

Thinq is edited by Paul Hales:

"There are major technological advances happening every day," says Hales, "It's our job to present these diverse happenings to our readers in a way that informs and entertains while also giving pause for thought.

"As the name suggests, the site aims to privide coverage that provokes reflection. THINQING is a prelude to debate. "

Hales teamed up the London-based, Net-Communities to launch THINQ. "We've been planning the site launch since late 2009 and it will go live with content dating back to the start of this year," said Net Communities managing director Andy Evans. "The content that Paul and his team have already generated for launch site demonstrates attention to detail, great insight with fantastic wit!"

Seems like a formula pioneered by The Register, which was co-founded by Mike Magee - snarky commentary on the IT industry. A bit like shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun - easy targets - it's difficult not to be snarky.

It's good to see 2010 start off with new media titles amid a UK media sector that is having a rough time with declining revenues. A familiar story line.

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Please see: Mike Magee's TechEYE Debuts - SVW

I Launched A Blog And Nobody Came -- The Media Tsunami Is Coming...

My one and only 2010 prediction was that the The Media Tsunami Is Coming.... What does this mean?

That means if your company has just now decided to launch a blog, to Twitter, etc. Good luck. Finding an audience when there is a plethora of great content (and bad) out there is a challenge.

The noise level is loud now, it will be even louder this year. And there's more to come.

There will be lots of dross out there, lots of bad videos, bad blog posts, bad everything... But there will also be lots of great content.

That means companies have to step up their game. That means bloggers, Twitterers, podcasters, vidcasters, individual self-promoters, journalists, PR people, app developers, startups, Fortune 100, publishers of all kinds -- all will have to step up their game in 2010.

Keeping hold of an audience in the midst of plenty is what will sort out the field.

It'll be interesting to see who is still standing in 2011.


Please see: 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming... - SVW

Mike Magee's TechEYE Debuts

Mike Magee, one of the UK's top media entrepreneurs, has launched a new title: TechEYE - 'all the news unfit to print.' I'll be contributing a weekly column.

Mike Magee is one of the co-founders of The Register, the top UK online tech site. He also founded The Inquirer, which he sold to VNU. His style of journalism is unflinching -- a style that is 'not everybody's cup of tea,' but it's one that makes for a welcome contrast to fairly tame coverage of the tech industry by established publications.

I'm looking forward to working with Mike Magee and the rest of the team on TechEYE.

We hope you like TechEye, which launched at 11:15AM GMT, just when Mercury was hogging the midheaven. Not that you could see it anyway, it being midday. And being very small anyway.

TechEye is a magazine owned by JAM IT Media - that's J(ames) Crowley, A(llan) Rutherford and M(ike) Magee.

James runs a developer site - - and is a whizz at technology and coding in general. Allan has worked in technology advertising for an impressive 14 years. I'm a grizzled hack that has been around since before the internet was a twinkle in the military's eye.

We've an impressive team of journalists too - all striving to bring you straight news with a sense of humour, when that's appropriate.

New-fangled democracy won't cut it in China
AMD gets monkey to install graphics card
SourceThatJob stands up against exploiting hacks
Picture of Apple tablet tips up
Kodak glares at BlackBerry and iPhone
Intel beats the market with enormous profits
Apple's Tablets will not work
Dell continues to bleed market share

Additional Thoughts On The Killer Pitch . . .

In part I of "The Killer Pitch" I raised the possibility of PR agencies developing the ability to drive lots of traffic to specific news stories.

In some ways, there is nothing new here. The best pitch is one that journalists recognize will be a hot story. And PR people know this and they try to craft a pitch that has the potential to be a hit.

In this way, PR people and journalists work towards the same goal -- a widely read news story that is fair and accurate.

Problems arise however, if PR agencies can develop the means to drive additional traffic to news stories that they select. It's obvious that they would not reward news stories that they disagree with.

Could PR agencies develop the ability to reliably drive traffic to specific stories?

PR agencies could help publishers promote stories on Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc. There is no guarantee with this method but it is something that journalists often don't have the time to do themselves. I don't see publishers objecting to help in promoting their publications. Over time, reporters might favor working with PR agencies that provide such additional services.

Developing an ability to always be able to drive traffic is possible but I don't yet see any PR agencies with that capability -- at least not yet. However, since it is possible then it will be done, because this brings lots of advantages: in relations with journalists, and with clients.

How would readers know that a particular news story benefited from a traffic boost by a PR agency?

They wouldn't know, in the same way that readers don't know what went into researching and writing a news story; the PR agencies that were involved; which people the journalist interviewed and what was said in those interviews; and what wasn't used in the final story.

Would it be ethical for PR agencies to drive traffic to news stories?

Yes. That's what they have been hired to do, that is what they agreed to do: to bring attention to their clients.

Could such practices influence news coverage by the news media?

Yes. But that already happens. News organizations are influenced by PR all the time -- that's what PR firms are hired to do.

What it comes down to is this: the news media is influenced by commercial interests. While this has always been the case, today there are new ways to spend money to influence the news media that people see, and one of those methods is to drive traffic to select news stories.

The job of a journalist has always been one of trying to sort through many biased information sources and end up with a fair and accurate story. Journalists know that PR firms are biased and that's OK because they take that bias into consideration, they know how to deal with the information they receive, what to use and what to leave behind. That's what quality journalism is all about. That's the role of a gatekeeper.

But if certain news stories can rise to prominence because of manipulation by PR agencies -- then the important role of the journalist, as society's gatekeeper, becomes seriously compromised. That's not good for government.

Software engineers have a saying: garbage in, garbage out. If we have a biased media we will be less able to make good decisions. And we have a lot of important decisions to make: about the economy, energy, education, elders, ethics ... and those are just the 'e's.

Will companies and self-interest groups be able to use the media to exert more influence? Will PR agencies be able to develop new techniques of media influence that will aid their clients?

The answer to both questions has to be yes.

And the ability of the media to resist and fight back against new tactics of manipulation is severely weakened because of the massive disruption happening within the entire media sector. It's an interesting situation.

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Please see:

The Killer Pitch? - When PR Agencies Can Do This - Look Out! - SVW

PRWatch: What Happens When PR People Have More Traffic Than The Reporters

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Advert: Foremski's Take - Media Strategy Services - 415 336 7547

The Killer Pitch? - When PR Agencies Can Do This - Look Out . . .

I'm often asked by PR people about the best type of pitches. There is a widespread belief in the PR community that there is a way to make the perfect pitch about a client company and everything will fall into place.

My answer is always the same: first, make sure you know the publication before you pitch. And make sure you have a good understanding of your client's business.

While there are lots of bad pitches out there, there are also lots of good pitches. Even with a perfect pitch, sometimes a reporter won't write the story because there is not enough time, there's too much else to do.

But here's a killer pitch. It's one that I haven't heard yet but it's only a matter of time.

" ... and we have the ability to drive a lot of traffic to your story."

In a world where reporters are increasingly rewarded not on the quality of their work but on how much traffic their stories attract -- this becomes the killer pitch.

The pitch wouldn't have to be spelled out directly, agencies that show they can drive traffic, will be able imply that they will drive traffic to specific news stories.

Fortunately, PR agencies don't know how to drive traffic to news stories.

I say fortunately because the other side of the coin is: they won't drive traffic to stories that they don't like. They would be able to exert some control and favor certain news stories over others. That's valuable leverage.

And it might not take much extra traffic to favor a news story.

News aggregators love to pick up on "popular" or "trending" stories. A relatively small traffic boost from a PR agency can become magnified if the story makes it onto a 'most popular' list.

Will PR agencies figure out how to drive traffic? Maybe.

I know some are thinking about this topic, such as Christine Perkett at PerkettPR. (@missusp).

But there are lots of ethical issues. When pageviews are a surrogate for payments, driving traffic then becomes a proxy for a payment to the writer.

But what would be wrong with a PR agency driving traffic to news stories about a client? Nothing. Agencies are hired to drive attention to a client.

This is why using pageviews as a basis for setting compensation for reporters is wrong because it is open to abuse. And it can harm the reputation of reporters even if their motives are pristine.

Would reporters write negative stories to protect their reputations from accusations they were benefiting from PR boosted traffic?

At least for now, we are fortunate that PR companies don't know how to drive traffic to news stories.

- - -

Please see:

Additional Thoughts On The Killer Pitch . . .

PRWatch: What Happens When PR People Have More Traffic Than The Reporters

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Advert: Foremski's Take - Media Strategy Services - 415 336 7547

Gawker Media Focuses On Uniques As Key Metric

Gawker Media, founded by former Financial Times journalist Nick Denton, is an interesting organization to watch because it is one of the oldest of the new media companies, and the most successful.

The New York based publisher of 8 news related web sites, Gawker has maintained strong growth while refusing to sell out to larger media organizations.

It's an interesting company to watch because it is a barometer on the health of online publishing. And it also acts as an example to other publishers in how they might run their business -- especially in motivating their staff.

Nick Denton often changes the terms of the bonuses paid to staff writers and editors. Today he made a significant change: instead of rewarding writers based on exceeding goals for the number of pageviews, they must beat goals set for gains in monthly unique visitors.

This means they must grow their publications beyond his growth goal. According to an internal memo received by The Awl:

The target for the first three months of this year is 1.06m. If the site were to hit 1.2m, that would represent 13% over the target. Writers and editors would receive an average of about 13% bonus in addition to their salary or fees.

This is a smart move because it will help attract advertisers. If Gawker is able to grow its monthly unique readers, advertisers will essentially get a discount on their advertising. They will be buying ad space at the current price but essentially be getting a much better deal, because they will get the growth in readers for free.

In some ways this could be viewed as an advertising discount but one that doesn't require Gawker to cut its ad prices. Plus it can charge more the next time an ad contract is negotiated.

Of course, this does presume that there are many new readers to be had, that there are lots more readers that aren't already familiar with Gawker sites. This might be a bit of a stretch.

For the writers, to earn their bonus would require them to do more than they do now--which is to cater to a loyal readership familiar with the Gawker style of writing and attitude. Writers would be tempted to change their writing, to do things differently in order to attract new readers.

The risk is that any changes could turn-off Gawker's current readership before a new, and larger readership is established. It takes a long time to build a trusted relationship with readers, it takes far less time to ruin one.

- - -
Please see:

Gawker Media Celebrates Record Traffic, Moving Beyond Pageviews

MediaWatch: Nick Denton - The Micropublishing Dream Is Dead

Analysis: Murdoch Seeks To Capitalize On Media's Internet Woes - Warns Against Government Aid

Rupert Murdoch, the head of media giant News Corp, yesterday published an editorial (free) in the Wall Street Journal, warning that government involvement in the newspaper industry, rather than the Internet, could harm the future of journalism.

He wrote:

No doubt you will hear some tell you that journalism is in dire shape, and the triumph of digital is to blame. My message is just the opposite. The future of journalism is more promising than ever--limited only by editors and producers unwilling to fight for their readers and viewers, or government using its heavy hand either to overregulate or subsidize us.

The editorial was based on his remarks to the FCC on December 1.

Mr Murdoch is a long-time critic of US laws that limit the cross-ownership of media properties. He said that such laws represent outdated, 20th century thinking.

If you are a newspaper today, your competition is not necessarily the TV station in the same city. It can be a Web site on the other side of the world, or even an icon on someone's cell phone... If we are really concerned about the survival of newspapers and other journalistic enterprises, the best thing government can do is to get rid of the arbitrary and contradictory regulations that actually prevent people from investing in these businesses.

Foremski's Take: Mr Murdoch's position on cross-ownership is not new but what is new is his opposition to tax breaks and special non-profit status for newspapers.

Even though government support for newspapers would offer benefits to his own properties, it would also serve to prop up his competitors.

The better strategy for Mr Murdoch is to take advantage of the disruption affecting the entire media sector and use it to accelerate the demise of competing media conglomerates. He would then be able to make acquisitions at pennies on the dollar.

However, to succeed with such a strategy he would need changes in laws limiting media ownership.

Secondly, he must come up with a profitable business model that takes advantage of the Internet while his competitors continue to struggle with declining advertising revenues. This is no easy task.

But it explains why he has been critical of Google and news aggregators, and has said he will impose fees on some of is online content. He is clearly trying to develop an effective digital/print business model that will give him an edge over competitors.

However, if he is successful in developing a profitable media business model what's to stop competitors following with a similar approach? None.

His strategy must depend upon being able to grab a first mover advantage to provide a head start. This would include making exclusive deals with powerful partners. These might include Microsoft [MSFT] and even Google [GOOG]. Both companies have a history of paying for digital content.

What's clear is that News Corp intends to take advantage of the Internet's disruptive effect on the media industry, to make acquisitions and improve its profitability.

If he is successful, Mr Murdoch would emerge as the savviest media tycoon of the past 50 years, able to bridge the chasm between the much different worlds of old and new media.

Not bad for a 78 year old.

As he writes in his editorial, "The future of journalism belongs to the bold."

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Please see;

Rupert Murdoch on Wikipedia.

Here are some extracts from Rupert Murdoch's WSJ editorial: Journalism and Freedom

...From the beginning, newspapers have prospered for one reason: the trust that comes from representing their readers' interests and giving them the news that's important to them. That means covering the communities where they live, exposing government or business corruption, and standing up to the rich and powerful.

... Some newspapers and news organizations will not adapt to the digital realities of our day--and they will fail. We should not blame technology for these failures.

...I can't tell you how many papers I have visited where they have a wall of journalism prizes--and a rapidly declining circulation. This tells me the editors are producing news for themselves--instead of news that is relevant to their customers.

...Though online advertising is increasing, that increase is only a fraction of what is being lost with print advertising. That's not going to change, even in a boom.

...Some rewrite, at times without attribution, the news stories of expensive and distinguished journalists who invested days, weeks or even months in their stories--all under the tattered veil of "fair use." These people are not investing in journalism. They are feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others.

... the growing drumbeat for government assistance for newspapers is as alarming as overregulation... It is precisely because newspapers make profits and do not depend on the government for their livelihood that they have the resources and wherewithal to hold the government accountable.

... the basic truth remains: To make informed decisions, free men and women require honest and reliable news about events affecting their countries and their lives. Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent--and competitive.

GOOG Asks For Ideas On How To Help Online Newspapers

Google is making a commendable effort to show it is a friend of the newspaper industry following a series of attacks in recent months from Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. and Robert Thomson, the chief editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this week Google amended the way it indexes news sites so that it could maintain its "mission to index the world's information" while supporting publishers' subscription paywalls.

[An Olive Branch To Murdoch? Google News Updated To Deal With Paid Content]

This morning Josh Cohen, head of Google News, wrote that Google believes, "Journalism will not only survive, but thrive on the Internet. And we think we can help."

However, it appears that Google has run out of ideas:

Just as there's no single cause for the news industry's current struggles, there's no single solution. We would love your thoughts on additional ways we can help journalism thrive on the Internet. Feel free to tune in the webcast of the proceedings and share your ideas with us in the comments below.

So please help Google and help the struggling newspaper industry and leave an idea. I did. It's about using virtual cash:

Virtual currencies could offer the best of both worlds, providing a surrogate micropayments system, and an advertising model that pays more than CPM ads.

- Local businesses could provide wads of virtual currencies to online newspaper readers, either in exchange for something such as survey data, or as a complimentary service to build goodwill.

- Businesses could also provide virtual cash that could be associated with reading specific sections in a newspaper, say furniture sellers to the "Home" section. Best Buy could provide virtual cash for reading the gadgets pages, etc.

- News sites could reward readers with virtual cash for contributing user generated content, such as a popular column, or for photos.

- Virtual cash could be exchanged between blogs and other online publishers for republishing great content. And there are a myriad other creative ways virtual cash could be used in news media.

The beauty is that the virtual cash would be purchased from the news media publishers with cold, hard cash by businesses, instead of purchasing online ads.

The virtual cash then powers an entire dynamic economy within a news site that helps produce great content and provide other services.

Compare that to buying an online ad that just sits there, usually unnoticed on the side of the page. Virtual cash engages readers.

There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers? - SVW

Adknowledge Buys Smart Rewards: Will Virtual Cash Reinvent Online Ads? - SVW

Former BusinessWeek Editor Launches Mysterious Media Startup

John Byrne, the former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek, has launched his own company C-Change Media. He writes that this is a good time to launch a new media company because there are significant advantages.

Most of traditional media remains in a complete meltdown, dragged down by high costs, old ways of thinking, and legacy work processes.

He says there is no future in these media business models:

1) Print advertising will never come back. There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates. Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever.

2) Online advertising will never offset those declines nor save print. There's far too much competition online and far too much available inventory; and

3) Users will not pay for content, unless they're convinced it has immediate and tangible value.

Yet he points to the success of: "Huffington Post, Politico, Drudge, GigaOm, TechCrunch, and other media enterprises on the web have shown us a path forward."

The last time I looked those media companies rely heavily on advertising.

Mr Byrne does not say how his new company will make money:

It will be a network of niche products for the business audience with an emphasis on mobile applications.

Focusing on a business audience is smart because they already pay for information. But how will C-Change create a competitive advantage over Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and other business oriented media publishers? They have considerable resources and access to timely information. He will need a real-time capability. [Please see: Groovy: Real-Time Data Could Aid Media Companies - SVW]

C-Change can move more quickly than larger publishers and it could potentially attract enough users that it might one day be a good acquisition candidate.

But matching a top BusinessWeek editor's salary (est. over $500K) with the revenues from online content will be challenging. Not to mention salaries for his team of editors and technologists.

I wish Mr Byrne well but even new media is suffering along with the old. Most new media sites have to branch out into conferences to pay the bills, plus research reports. It's not easy to make a decent living --- even if you aren't old media and loaded with legacy costs and legacy thinking.

Many of the latest new media companies are taking a low-end approach to content creation, such as Demand Media which tries to commission articles related to popular search terms and pays rock-bottom rates because that's the value in media content these days. In an advertising pageview world a pageview is a pageview whether it is quality media or low-end machine generated media.

Business media markets are far more lucrative than for general media but even there we will see companies competing heavily and undercutting each other. Because they can.

C-Change's operating costs will certainly be lower than for incumbent competitors but there is still one very large cost: marketing.

Getting attention is harder today than ever before and the noise level is going to increase exponentially because everyone has access to the same publishing tools.

As Mr Byrne says:

"We're going to see a media boom in the next three years, the launch of tens of thousands of new media entrepreneurs on the Internet."

Launching a new media startup today is very challenging. It will be interesting to see what C-Change will come up with.

It's always good to see people trying out new media business models. Because if they are successful it means others can follow and that means quality journalism is preserved -- we all win.

- - -

Please see:

Ex-BizWeek Editor John Byrne's New Company Has a Name, but No Product

John Byrne to Navigate the Stormy Media Seas - Jason Fell - Blogs emedia and Technology @

John Byrne Focused on Content, Curation and Community - Advertising and Marketing Blog -

An Olive Branch To Murdoch? Google News Updated To Deal With Paid Content

Josh Cohen, senior business product manager in charge of Google News, this morning said that the search engine has implemented new processes for dealing with paid content.

- Publishers using Google's "First Click Free" program can now allow non-subscribers to view up to 5 pages of content for free.

- Preview pages that show headline and a couple of paragraphs will be marked "subscription" in Google News.

These are two of the ways we allow publishers to make their subscription content discoverable, and we're going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods. After all, whether you're offering your content for free or selling it, it's crucial that people find it. Google can help with that.

Foremski's Take: This looks to me like a possible olive branch to Rupert Murdoch and his threat to take his content out of the Google Index.

The changes in the First Click Free program plug a hole in publisher's paywalls. The program is designed to let the Googlebot index content but others can also get in free.

For example, will only allow non-subscribers to see the first couple of paragraphs for free, but if you type the headline into Google it will take you to an open copy of the article.

Google is trying to protect its index and make sure it is as complete as possible. It would suffer a blow to its brand and its mission to index all the world's information if Mr Murdoch and other newspaper publishers blocked the Google index. Users would wonder what else is missing at Google.

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Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has an interview with Josh Cohen where he talks about the First Click Free program.

Josh Cohen Of Google News On Paywalls, Partnerships & Working With Publishers

Google Modifies "First Click Free" Policy To Accommodate Publishers Gating Their Content

Please see:

MediaWatch Analysis Part II: Google Has More To Lose Than Murdoch

Analysis On Murdoch And Switching Off GOOG: The Dirty Little Secret About Search Engine Traffic...

WSJ Chief: There Are Two Types: Creators And Aggregators - Creators Carry The Burden Of Costs

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

"Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

Groovy: Real-Time Data Could Aid Media Companies

I had a fascinating conversation on Saturday with Joe Ward, CEO of Groovy, which has a unique real-time transactional data technology.

He was complaining that the term "real-time" is being applied too broadly by many companies to describe their services and technologies.

"There are a lot of 'real-time' announcements that have been made that are dependent on refresh to update their data -- that's not real-time, and it's not a scalable architecture."

One example is Salesforce's recently introduced Chatter service. While Mr Ward likes Salesforce's overall strategy, he says Chatter is not real-time because it relies on refresh. And this could become a problem for Salesforce because that makes it difficult to scale.

Groovy's technology is sometimes described as a database but it's nothing like a traditional database. It's a set of technologies for handling transactional data.

"I prefer to call our solution an 'interactive broadcast data cloud' than a database," says Mr Ward.

The technology was originally part of a $50m Australian venture called Bullant. Groovy acquired the technology and patents in 2006 and CEO Joe Ward moved himself and his family to Silicon Valley early this year from Sydney.

Companies can buy Groovy as a "cloud in a box" and run it internally, or as a software service. Groovy could also be used as the platform for a host of cloud based applications, all available as services.

Mr Ward makes a good case for true real-time systems becoming the "final frontier" for applications and services and triggering a new wave of innovation.

Media apps?

Mr Ward says that media companies could offer real-time information streams combined with their stories.

This is a good idea because it would be like having a real-time Bloomberg terminal data feed integrated into a media company's publishing stream. That's a powerful combination of services and a good way to keep Bloomberg at bay.

Bloomberg has shown it has ambitions beyond the terminal. Its recent acquisition of BusinessWeek is part of plans to expand its readership beyond the trading floors. To compete with Bloomberg, other media companies will also need real-time data capabilities.

This will allow them to operate real-time news and data streams, and integrate advertising and other monetization streams. And as Google and others direct traffic to their sites, they'll be better able to better monetize that traffic through real-time matching of targeted advertising.

Also, there's lots of money in real-time data. The New York Times reports that Bloomberg has been "deploying the cash spouting from its data business" to finance its expansion. Media companies could potentially add an important new revenue stream.

SNCR Research: Social Media IS Influencing Business Decisions

A new research study from the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) has found that senior executives are affected by social media and that the influence on online communities on business decisions has grown over the past three years.

The research was conducted by Don Bulmer from SAP and Vanessa DiMauro.

Some of the key findings:

- Professional decision-making is becoming more social - enter the era of Social Media Peer Groups (SMPG)

  • Traditional influence cycles are being disrupted by Social Media as decision makers utilize social networks to inform and validate decisions
  • Professionals want to be collaborative in the decision-cycle but not be marketed or sold to online; however online marketing is a preferred activity by companies.

- Professional networks are emerging as decision-support tools

  • Decision-makers are broadening reach to gather information especially among active users

- Professionals trust online information almost as much as information gotten from in-person

  • Information obtained from offline networks still have highest levels of trust with slight advantage over online (offline: 92% - combined strongly/somewhat trust; online: 83% combined strongly/somewhat trust)

- Reliance on web-based professional networks and online communities has increased significantly over the past 3 years

  • Three quarters of respondents rely on professional networks to support business decisions
  • Reliance has increased for essentially all respondents over the past three years

- Social Media use patterns are not pre-determined by age or organizational affiliation

  • Younger (20-35) and older professionals (55+) are more active users of social tools than middle aged professionals.
  • There are more people collaborating outside their company wall than within their organizational intranet

Foremski's Take:

These are interesting findings particularly the level of trust that decision makers have towards their online communities, it is much higher than for other types of online information.

Also, the finding that age is NOT a factor in social media use is very interesting. There is a myth that younger people are heavier users or have mastered social media to a greater extent. This shows that age is not a factor and it should lead to broader adoption of social media for decision support.

There is more information here on Don Bulmer's blog: Everyday Influence: SNCR Research Reveals Social Media's Impact on Business and Decision Making

[I'm a Founding Fellow of SNCR - a Palo Alto based think tank focused on research into emerging media technologies.]

- - -

The methodology for this study involved a mixed methods approach supported by quantitative data gathered via online survey of 356 professionals to understand their perceptions and experiences with social media in support of their decision-making. Select interviews of 12 professionals were also conducted using a semi-structured interview guide as part of the second phase of the study.
Key demographics of the research include:

  • Close to a quarter (23%) of respondents identified themselves as CEO of their organization; 50% as "Director" (24%) "Manager" (24%)
  • Company size ranged from less than 100 to over 50,000 full-time employees
  • Age was well distributed with the greatest proportion in the 36-45 range
  • 25 countries were represented, with 58% of respondents living in the US
  • All respondents were either the decision makers or influenced the decision process within their company or business unit

MediaWatch Analysis Part II: Google Has More To Lose Than Murdoch

The accepted wisdom among the Digerati has been that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and the entire newspaper industry, would be in deep trouble if they barred Google from indexing their content.

I dealt with one aspect of this thinking last week. [The dirty little secret about search engine traffic]

There is a second aspect. It is Google that would be in trouble and not the newspapers.

Let me explain:

- The value of Google search traffic to the newspapers is low. Its loss wouldn't make much difference to the newspapers' already poor online revenues.

- The damage to Google would be much greater. If it is locked out from being able to index a large part of the Internet, it would be very bad for business. It would create a crisis of confidence in Google.

If something like that happened, it would strike at its very core, its mission: "To index all the world's information."

Google users would question "what else is missing?"

GOOG's index is its Achilles' heel. It will do everything it needs to do to protect its ability to index content.

It doesn't care if the content is free or not, as Google's Josh Cohen recently told SearchEngineLand: "...people will say ... 'I have to make this content free or Google won't index it,' and that's not the case."

I ask again, who has the most to lose if News Corp and other large publishers block Google?

Newspaper online revenues won't be much affected at all.

But for Google its reputation as having the best index would be seriously harmed. It would have a large hole in its index.

And that hole would be made up of missing content - new content - the most valuable thing for search engines. People search for new content. That's what brings them back to Google.

Google has far more to lose than the newspaper publishers from being blocked.

And that's why it will do whatever it needs to do in order to preserve its index, including possibly paying for access.

Rupert Murdoch may very well have found the weak spot in Google's business.

- - -

Please see part one of MediaWatch Analysis:

Murdoch Will Negotiate Payment For Access To Basket Of Content With GOOG et al

MediaWatch Analysis: Murdoch Will Negotiate Payment For Access To Basket Of Content With GOOG et al

Rupert Murdoch and his senior execs at News Corp, and Wall Street Journal have been getting a lot of publicity this year for their complaints against Google and news aggregators.

Google has borne much of the brunt of the complaints even though Yahoo News is three times larger (source: Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand).

Foremski's Take:

But why have Mr Murdoch and others at News Corp. spent so much time criticizing Google when there is a simple solution: post a robot.txt file that tells Google and others not to search and index their content?

Because criticizing Google results in a lot more publicity. Because Mr Murdoch has another goal: he is most probably laying the groundwork to negotiate a deal with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others, where they will pay to index News Corp content and also content from other publishers allied with News Corp.

Take a look at these points:

- By collecting a package of other publishers, Mr Murdoch can avoid the problem caused by what I call "first mover disadvantage" in that the first publishers with paywalls, risk losing audience to rivals that wait to build their paywalls. That's a much larger business risk than the traffic lost from blocking Google. That's a risk all news publishers face not just News Corp. Better to be in a collective.

- Mr Murdoch is emerging as a champion for other news publishers in his criticism of Google. That's an excellent opportunity to become the rallying point for the newspaper industry as a whole and to recruit publishers into a common basket of content.

- Mr Murdoch and his top executives are masters at using the media to manipulate others to get what they want -- in this case Google is the target.

- Why would competitors join with Mr Murdoch? A better question is why wouldn't they? They would all still compete on writing the news first, that wouldn't change in either scenario. The advantage would be better revenues from subscriptions using a collective approach. Mr Murdoch and his allies could offer packages consisting of local, regional, national and even foreign publications for one monthly fee. No need for micropayments by readers -- the payments could be divided up within the group transparently, the readers pay one fee.

- Would readers pay for content? They already do. Revenue from subscribers has already overtaken revenue from advertising at many publications. In its most recent financial quarter the New York Times said revenues from readers overtook advertising revenues for the first time -- a watershed moment. That's a trend that still has a ways to go and will be helped by new ways to collect subscriptions for online content.

- Would GOOG et al, pay for access to index content? Yes, GOOG already pays for content from the AP and for TV shows to show on YouTube.

- Google would pay because search engines need novelty. They need to index new content. Otherwise why do people use a search engine? To find what they already know is there, or to look for new content? It's mostly the latter.

- If users know that a search engine is blocked from new content then that is a very negative psychological strike against it -- what else doesn't it have? Google, and others need to maintain an impression that they "index all the world's content." Index is their prime goal, rather than to serve up free content.

Josh Cohen at Google News made this very point "there is still a lot of those discussions that take place where people will say ... 'I have to make this content free or Google won't index it,' and that's not the case."

- Google is open to working with publishers in a variety of ways. Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand interviewed Josh Cohen at Google News. He said that Google already has a large number of different programs to offer publishers and will work on custom programs too.

Here are a couple more quotes from Google's Josh Cohen:

"We want to be in a situation where the best content wins, not the best SEOed site."

"You can allow us to crawl content and show a preview to the user and label it as a subscription."

Mr Murdoch and his allies will be able to have their cake and eat it in the sense that they can have Google index their content, and also have a paywall.

Plus, they have many business levers to pull in that they can continue to make some content free; to place less content behind a paywall; and to optimize their landing pages for Google and other traffic to make for better ad conversions (as Jonathan Mendez points out in SVW comments).

And potentially get a payment from Google and other search engines in addition to everything else.

This will be one of the ways the media industry halts the decline in its fortunes. Overall, the media industry will need to adopt what I call a "Heinz 57" business model, with multiple revenue streams, there won't be just one or two magic bullets.

The challenge for publishers will be in managing multiple sources of revenue. But that's an opportunity for startups to offer the admin tools, and help aggregate the revenues streams for large publishers.

- - -

Please see:

Analysis On Murdoch And Switching Off GOOG: The Dirty Little Secret About Search Engine Traffic...

WSJ Chief: There Are Two Types: Creators And Aggregators - Creators Carry The Burden Of Costs

Google Is Really Bad At Monetizing Content Yet CEO Schmidt Lectures Newspapers

PRWatch: Using Google Ads Or "Right to Respond" To Deal With Bad Press

Zachary Seward, writing at Nieman Journalism Lab reports that PR companies are using online ads to try and deal with bad press.

One example is the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council, which didn't like a New York Times article about a type of fish called hoki. [An Unlikely Star Among Seafood Causes a Row -]

The council responded by buying Google Ads linked to keywords: 'new zealand hoki' and 'hoki new york times.'

The ads linked to a page that purports to set the record straight about hoki fishing and includes emails exchanged with Times science editor Laura Chang.

That was itself a feat of public-relations genius: Because the council's hoki page was originally a straightforward description of the fish and its uses, the Times had linked to it in the third paragraph of the article (at right), and 78,000 people clicked though, according to Sarah Crysell, a spokeswoman for the council. Taking advantage of that incoming traffic, the group transformed its hoki page into a rebuttal of the Times story.

I'm sure there will be others using this technique. But it's not as good as my idea for a "Right to Respond" box that could be present next to the actual story.

Companies could pay to respond to a specific story. All publications running a similar story or syndicating that story could also publish the "Right to Respond" button or link and thus its content would be automatically updated across ALL news stories carrying a Right to Respond link.

It would also provide newspaper sites with additional income rather than going to Google and and it would also act as showing the news site is "trusted" and legitimate.

- Companies would pay to use this service, individuals would have free access to make corrections.

- Web site owners/publishers/bloggers, etc would not be forced to provide a Right to Respond link next to their content. But if they did, it would show that they are a respectable and responsible site.

- The New York Times and other large publishers should offer a Right to Respond link next to every story because of their reach and influence and potential to harm reputations. It's the fair thing to do.

- Search engines should offer a right to respond link next to each search result they publish -- even if a right to respond link isn't found on the original web page of a search result.

- There is almost no monetary cost to offering a Right to Respond link, it does not cost a web site owner anything extra in servers or bandwidth.

- Publishers would be paid for offering a Right to Respond service from the fees charged to companies. Each time the page is loaded could earn the publisher a micro-payment, something that could be easily tracked by the Right to Respond widget sitting on the publisher's server.

That payment could be further qualified by the influence of a web site. The New York Times gets more money for running a Right to Respond link than less influential sites-- even if traffic volumes for both are the same.

- Only the content publishers get paid to carry a Right to Respond link and not search engines. It is the originator and not the aggregator that collects the payment.

Would some sites publish nasty things about companies or people simply to collect Right to Respond payments? They could, but constantly publishing critical and negative content would undermine their credibility, their influence, and their traffic.

- Competitors could use the Right to Respond link to publish their side of the story.

Please see:

The Right to Respond Should be a Fundamental Right of the Internet

Analysis On Murdoch And Switching Off GOOG: The Dirty Little Secret About Search Engine Traffic...

Every time Rupert Murdoch complains about Google and says he will cut off access, a mass of Twitterati, Digerati, and Diggerati think the old newspaper tycoon has lost his marbles and doesn't "get it."

Surely, they chorus, all that traffic that Google sends to the Wall Street Journal is the equivalent of sending a fire hose of cash straight into his pocket. Why would he want to turn off such a lucrative spigot?!

The answer is that he wouldn't, if that were indeed the case. The ugly truth is that Google traffic is hard to monetize. It's not the bonanza that people think it is.

Google traffic is low quality, it is people who stumbled upon the article. Usually, about one-half is new to the site, it had never been there before. The other half already knows who you are. For well established brands this offers incremental value.

More importantly, Google traffic doesn't help the newspaper advertisers much because they are trying to buy a specific sector, a specific readership. For example, the Wall Street Journal advertisers are very business and stock trade oriented. For other newspapers, the advertisers want that particular local metro. Having random readers brought in by Google from all around the world, doesn't do much for the advertisers or the newspapers.

Yes, you can sell those extra pageviews to your newspaper advertisers but they get to see the metrics too, and it doesn't take them long to figure out that much of the Google traffic isn't the traffic they want. That, in turn, lowers the amount of money they will pay for pageviews. Google traffic thus lowers the value of all the pageviews that a newspaper pulls in.

Mr Murdoch knows his businesses. He can run the numbers and see if the revenue from subscriptions will outpace relatively weak revenues from Google traffic.

He can selectively use Google and other search engines, and aggregators to pull in traffic to "free" content then shut it off. He has lots of levers to pull in terms of figuring out an optimum for running his business.

In contrast, Google doesn't have any levers to pull. It relies heavily on access to new content. After all, why use a search engine to find what you already know?

Novelty is extremely important to Google. Yet its only answer to content producers has been "we bring you lots of traffic." The dirty little secret is that that traffic is very difficult to monetize, it has a low value. Even Google has trouble monetizing its Google News traffic.

Google is very much at the mercy of all of the Internet's content producers and whether they let it in, or leave it outside.

UPDATE: It seems my analysis was spot on. The Daily Telegraph November 13: Jonathan Miller, News Corp's chief digital officer, said:

"The traffic which comes in from Google brings a consumer who more often than not read one article and then leaves the site. That is the least valuable of traffic to us... the economic impact [of not having content indexed by Google] is not as great as you might think. You can survive without it."

- - -

Please see:

Rupert Murdoch to remove News Corp's content from Google 'in months'

News Corp Wants To "Lead" The Media Industry To Its Own Demise

WSJ Chief: There Are Two Types: Creators And Aggregators - Creators Carry The Burden Of Costs

"Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

- - -
Recent coverage:

Murdoch may block Google searches

Google may lose WSJ, News Corp sites

Has Rupert Murdoch Finally Lost His Mind?

Now it's Murdoch vs. the World as He Threatens to Sue the BBC | BNET Media Blog | BNET

Analysis: The Business Opportunities From The Scam And Spam Epidemic

There is an excellent article by Mike Arrington from Techcrunch on the subject of the duplicity of social gaming networks and social networks as fronts for advertisers that trick people into signing up for monthly "services." [Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem Of Hell]

This is an issue that has been going on for some time. And it's not limited to the social gaming companies or the social networks.

I raised the problem earlier this year when I interviewed Brett Brewer, president of Adknowledge, the largest virtual goods/cash company. [Will Virtual Cash Reinvent Online Ads?]

Mr Brewer said that Adknowledge was aware of the problem and was taking steps to weed out the problem advertisers.

Mike Arrington describes how some of these scams operate:

...users are offered in game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey. Four simple questions are asked. The answers are irrelevant. When the user gets to the last question they are told their results will be text messaged to them. They are asked to enter in their mobile phone number, and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they've done that, they've just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription.

There are plenty more variations.

Here is a description of the money that can be made from a self-confessed Facebook spammer: [How To Spam Facebook Like A Pro: An Insider's Confession]

When the Facebook platform first launched, developers used Google AdSense, which was paying 10-15 cent eCPMs, meaning that developers were earning 10 to 15 cents for every 1,000 ads they shown. But soon, ad networks, such as the one I operated, stepped in to show that by using social data and some clever ad copy, we could raise this to well over $6--that's 60 times better than AdSense.

It's not just gaming and social networks where you can find these types of scams. They are everywhere on the Internet. They are distributed by large ad networks.

And there are plenty of grey areas. For example, Experian, the credit reporting firm that owns The New York Times reports:

[The Federal Trade Commission] has long believed that the company that owns is deliberately diverting people from a government-mandated site where consumers can get free credit reports by law, and using the reports as a lure for a $14.95 monthly service that alerts subscribers to important changes in their credit status.

Foremski's Take: This deluge of scam and spam is a serious issue because it threatens the future of Internet commerce. The more people ensnared by these types of scams, the less likely they are to buy much of anything over the Internet.

Media companies, for example, are already struggling to make money from online advertising. This will make matters much worse.

The gaming companies, the social networks, the ad networks all seem to turn a blind eye to what is going on because they reap large rewards from these scams. But it is a short sighted strategy because they are selling out their users, their members.

They should be looking out for them not selling them out.

By turning a blind eye these companies are missing a unique business opportunity to offer a safe place for Internet users, to guarantee that there is no scam advertiser on their network, and to insist that their advertisers clearly spell out billing terms.

But this will take courage and it means saying no to large amounts of money. And it will also raise their costs of business because it will require monitoring of ads, and this can't easily done by machines, it requires people.

Silicon Valley media companies such as Google, Facebook, etc, like to do everything by server and software. This is potentially an Achilles' heel that other media companies could exploit.

MediaWatch: More About Embargoes...

Last Thursday I was on a panel discussing embargoes. (There will eventually be video of the event.) The moderator was Sam Whitmore, and I was sitting next to Dylan Tweeney from Wired, on my right was Damon Darlin from the New York Times, and Mark Glaser from MediaShift on my far right.

Unfortunately Mike Arrington from TechCrunch couldn't make it, which is a shame because plenty of PR people have told me TechCrunch regularly breaks embargoes and it would have been good to have heard his side of the story.

Dave Needle from wrote a very good reound-up of what was said: This tech news is not embargoed - InternetNews:The Blog - David Needle

Here is an extract:

While Tweney continues to selectively agree to embargoes (as does, he said he recently "punished" a PR firm by refusing to communicate with them for six weeks after a competitor was allowed to publish an embargoed story ahead of everyone else. He said the PR firm's excuse was that the vendor, a handset manufacturer, had leaked the news to a blog directly without the PR firm knowing.

The New York Times Darlin said embargoes are generally used as a tool by PR firms to co-opt the media. That said, Darlin said the Times often accept embargoes because they ensure reporters don't miss a story and they have more time to do a thorough job.

That thoroughness is limited. Once you've agreed to an embargo, you can't share that news ahead of time with the analysts and competitors you might otherwise call for comment. Vendors will sometimes provide a list of analysts that have been pre-briefed on their news.

While many took shots at the embargo process and the games PR folk sometimes play, Chris Preimesberger, an editor at eWeek, said embargoes help him get his job done.

"They give me the background information and the time to do the piece right," said Preimesberger, during a follow up Q&A session. He estimates 75 to 80 percent of the stories eWeek does are facilitated by the embargo process, the rest are breaking news.

"I have no problem with the process and don't feel like I'm being manipulated," said Preimesberger.

My proposal that holding a press conference, real or virtual, so that everyone gets the news at the same time seemed to have a fair amount of support as an alternative to embargoes. But overall, I didn't think that we made much progress in creating any new rules around embargoes.

However, I was surprised that there is such a lot of interest in this subject. Embargoes have been around since year dot and we all have our way of working with them, selectively of course. They are not going away, that's certain.

But I think it could and should lead to media outlets rethinking their editorial policy. Do we have to be first with with news? If a dozen other publications also have the news what is our value-add?

There is more to be gained from developing an unique editorial stance than there is from pressing the publish button a few minutes earlier than anyone else..

The panel discussion sparked a few blog posts. Mike Yamamoto, the founding editor of CNET's wrote an interesting post. The absurdity of embargoes

What was especially interesting was his stories about the use of embargoes when he worked in the Washington D.C. bureau of the Los Angeles Times. Government agencies routinely placed embargo notices on their news releases. It's a practice that companies and PR firms have attempted to use too.

For some reason, many companies and government agencies seem to think that simply receiving so-called embargoed material automatically means you have agreed to it--even if you never knew the information existed, let alone had consented to any restrictions, before it landed in your inbox or mailroom unsolicited.

It would be the equivalent of my mass-emailing a contract to sell my house for $10 million, then holding its recipients to the provisions of the "agreement." When they rightly tell me to go pound salt, I would cry foul and claim that they broke the rules.

Mr Yamamoto rightly points out:

Because did not agree to embargoes, therefore, their restrictions did not apply to us. It's impossible to "break" a contract you never agreed to.

Lastly, I feel it is up to the PR industry to police this issue. If they are working with a journalist or organization that routinely breaks their word, then they should not disclose embargoed information the next time.

MediaWatch: Mashable Is On A Tear - Continues To Widen Its Lead Over TechCrunch And Others provides a rough guide to the traffic of various sites, it's usually on the low side because of the way it collects its metrics but it does provide a good indication of trends.

Over the past year Mashable has been doing very well especially compared to the tech news sector leader TechCrunch.

A year ago TechCrunch had 660,000 more monthly visitors than Mashable (1.63m versus 0.96m). The most recent figures for 09/2009 show Mashable has grown 171% and overtook TechCrunch in May.

Mashable now has 43% more monthly visitors (2.62m versus 1.83m). According to Compete, TechCrunch traffic has been declining since June, and is down by about 10%.

TechCrunch is likely making more money than Mashable, at least for now. Mashable is using the Federated Media (FM) ad network. FM takes a large cut from advertising revenues plus it is selling ads based on prior lower Mashable traffic counts.

TechCrunch dropped FM about six months ago and thus can collect a higher ad revenue. (BTW GigaOm also dropped FM and now uses IDG ad network.)

Here is a graph of Techcrunch and Mashable's performance over the past year plus a look at ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, and GigaOm.

Are There New Rules For Embargoes?

This evening I'm on a panel moderated by Sam Whitmore and organized by Waggener Edstrom:

The topic is:

"Love them or hate them, embargoes are a familiar and much-discussed element of the rules of engagement with media and influentials. Clearly the old rules are not working. Is 2010 the time to re-write that rulebook?"

I'll be discussing this with Damon Darlin, New York Times, Dylan Tweney, WIRED, and Sam Whitmore from Media Survey. Mike Arrington from TechCrunch was going to join us but dropped out.

Mike Arrington has gotten a reputation for breaking embargoes and I know plenty of PR people that won't work with TechCrunch because it harms their relationships with other journalists who do agree to hold the embargo. So it's a shame that we won't be hearing Mr Arrington's side of the story.

Story continues...

MediaWatch: An Example Of Data Journalism

For several years I've been writing about the need for "media engineers" part software engineer and part journalist. And others have also started to write about teaching journalism to programmers.

MediaShift . Can Programmers, Journalists Get Along in One Newsroom? | PBS

There is a lot of journalism that can be done by mining data in public databases. Some newspapers now have interactive maps, for example, Oakland Tribune has an interactive map of homicides.

A much better example of data journalism is EveryBlock, which provides a news feed for neighborhoods in all large US cities. Type in your zip code and EveryBlock will email a newsfeed that contains police reports, restaurant openings and reviews, building permits, coverage in the media, and other local data culled from public databases and other sources.

EveryBlock is run by Adrian Holovaty, based in Chicago. It was recently acquired by MSNBC.

EveryBlock was started by a grant from the Knight Foundation and part of its condition was that the EveryBlock publishing software be released under an open source license. It's available to anyone, anyone can replicate what EveryBlock has done.

Adrian Holovalty is a true media engineer, he is also one of the driving forces behind the Django project, an open-source framework for quickly developing web applications for newsroom projects.

Data journalism has had its fair share of critics. But I think it has a bright future as long it it is wrapped within the right context. The temptation is to just publish the raw data without much else and allow the readers to make sense of it depending on how the data affects them.

Data journalism combined with a fair amount of human journalism could be a potent mix, providing context to the content. It'll be interesting to see how newsrooms combine the two.

But most newsrooms lack the software engineering skills to use Django and similar technologies. And with newsroom cuts and the pressure on media business models continuing unabated, we may be running out of time to experiment with data journalism.

That would be a shame because today's media technologies make it possible to create many novel types of media formats. There's a tremendous amount of innovation that can be done with media formats. I've got a few ideas myself that I'd love to try out but unfortunately I, too, lack the resources.

CPJ Announces Funding From Hedge Fund Manager Peter Thiel

The Committee for Protection of Journalists last night announced funding from Peter Thiel, head of hedge fund Clarium, for the defense of online freedom of the press.

The amount was not revealed but described as a "substantial check."

Peter Thiel told SVW, "Technology can have positive and negative aspects. I want to help the CPJ defend the rights of online journalists."

The CPJ says that 33 journalists have been killed this year, and 760 killed since 1992, of which 482 were murdered. Increasingly, it is online journalists that are being targeted.

Some details about CPJ:

How did CPJ get started?
A group of U.S. foreign correspondents created CPJ in response to the often brutal treatment of their foreign colleagues by authoritarian governments and other enemies of independent journalism.

CPJ has a full-time staff of 23 at its New York headquarters, including area specialists for each major world region. CPJ has a Washington, D.C. representative, and consultants stationed around the world. A 35-member board of prominent journalists directs CPJ's activities.

CPJ is funded solely by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations. CPJ does not accept government funding.

Without a free press, few other human rights are attainable. A strong press freedom environment encourages the growth of a robust civil society, which leads to stable, sustainable democracies and healthy social, political, and economic development. CPJ works in more than 120 countries, many of which suffer under repressive regimes, debilitating civil war, or other problems that harm press freedom and democracy.

By publicly revealing abuses against the press and by acting on behalf of imprisoned and threatened journalists, CPJ effectively warns journalists and news organizations where attacks on press freedom are occurring. CPJ organizes vigorous public protests and works through diplomatic channels to effect change. CPJ publishes articles and news releases; special reports; and Attacks on the Press, the most comprehensive annual survey of press freedom around the world.

MediaWatch: Putting Journalists And Programmers In The Same Room

Megan Taylor over at PBS' MediaShift writes about the challenges of getting programmers and journalists to work together.

MediaShift . Can Programmers, Journalists Get Along in One Newsroom? | PBS

"there's no reason why a programmer can't do journalism," said Rich Gordon, director of digital innovation at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. "They just need an understanding of the mission and culture of journalism and journalists."

Mr Gordon thinks that in terms of personalities, i.e programmers being introverted and anti-social, they can be similar to journalists.

But even with similar personalities, it's not easy to get programmers to think like journalists, or to get used to the chaotic environment of a newsroom.

Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive newsroom technologies at the New York Times, has assembled a team of mostly programmers to do journalism.
..."It's not a normal corporate-y type of environment," Pilhofer said. "It's very loosey-goosey, collaborative, hectic, disorganized. It takes time to get used to that environment, and not everyone is comfortable in that environment.

Others say problems arise because of miscommunication.

Matthew Waite, news technologist at the St. Petersburg Times, weighed in on how programmers and journalists communicate, and how that communication can be improved. He said ill-will between journalists and programmers arises from miscommunication.
"I've seen a lot of cases where some piece of code did exactly what the requirements document specified, but it didn't do what anyone wanted," Waite said.

Foremski's Take: I've written on this topic many times and I think it is easier to teach journalists to become programmers. They then become "media engineers" rather than software engineers.

Today's development tools are very powerful and they make building complex software applications easier than ever before.

Every journalist should know some html, CSS, JavaScript, etc. They don't need to be proficient but they should know how all these media technologies work. Some journalists can go much further and I think we will see that happening more because there is a real need. If I were a journalism student I'd be loading up on programming courses because I'd greatly improve my chances of getting a job -- every newsroom needs strong media engineering capabilities.

Teaching a programmer journalism skills is challenging primarily because programmers have already chosen their profession. If they had wanted to be journalists they would have become journalists.

But teaching a journalist programming skills would be a lot easier and far more effective because you have to have a strong understanding of media -- that comes first. That's what a media engineer would provide, media first, engineer second.

And a media architect would be similar to a systems architect, they would design the information/publishing architecture of an organization. And by the way, today every company has to be a media company to a degree, every large company needs media engineers and media architects on staff.

- - -

Please see:

Move Over Software Engineers It's The Era Of Media Engineers

Journalism Schools Wake Up To Need For Media Engineers

WSJ Chief: There Are Two Types: Creators And Aggregators - Creators Carry The Burden Of Costs

Hat tip to Danny Sullivan for pointing out the above panel at Web 2.0 Summit, which featured Robert Thomson, Wall Street Journal chief, and Marrissa Mayer head of search products at Google, plus Martin Nisenholtz, The New York Times Company, and Eric Hippeau from the Huffington Post, moderated by John Battelle. Title: "Whither Journalism."

YouTube - Web 2.0 Summit 09: "Discussion: Whither Journalism?"

The reason this discussion is interesting is because Mr Thomson is a close confidant of Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp and one of the leaders in trying to create new business models for online journalism. One of those ways is to create a paywall - to charge for content.

This has been criticized by many online pundits who believe content should be free and that Mr Murdoch, and others that want to charge for content won't succeed.

This is a ridiculous argument because it doesn't address the issue of how content is created and the costs in creating content. An army of citizen journalists won't be able to fill the gap caused by fewer professional journalists. We have to figure out a way to pay for professional journalism.

At the beginning of the discussion Mr Thomson gets to the point right away, when he makes the distinction between content creators and content aggregators and point out that the cost burden is being shouldered by the content creators.

Many people, like Danny Sullivan, like to point out that the Wall Street Journal, and others that complain about Google stealing their content, want the traffic that Google sends their way.

But Mr Thomson challenged Ms Mayer's view that Google is all about sending traffic to other sites. He said if that is true, why isn't the font size larger on the link to the original source? Double figure (font size) would be good, he said to laughter.

Google, and other aggregators, take the headline and first paragraph of a story, the two most important elements of a news story and try to monetize that content.

The value of the traffic Google sends is not that great, believe it or not. As a publisher I get to see my server stats, etc, and so I know first hand the value of traffic from Google, or even Techmeme, is not much.

I can appreciate the frustration that Mr Thomson feels when he sees others trying to profit from the work of his journalists.

Producing original content is very expensive. Trawling web sites and taking the headline and top paragraph of a story is dirt cheap. The difference between costs for content creators and content aggregators is very large indeed.

The Huffington Post gets a ton of content for free. The New York Times has more people moderating its comments than The Huff Post has journalists on its masthead. Yet the Huff Post couldn't exist without the content creators. Clearly there is a large mismatch here.

The tragedy is that on either side of the equation there isn't enough money to pay for the content creation.

Even if Google News and The Huff Post and all the other news aggregators gave every dollar and cent they make from other people's content to the content creators it would be unlikely that it would cover the costs of the news creators.

For example, The New York Times is laying off another 100 newsroom jobs and its most recent financial quarter showed a 29 per cent fall in revenues with print and online ad revenues continuing to plunge.

The tug of war between creators and aggregators is some degree, a red herring. We need to develop a "value recovery mechanism" for online journalism.

This is the most important problem we have related to the Internet, it is much more important than net neutrality. It is the Gordian knot of the Internet - if one person solves it we all benefit.

- - -

I was reading an interview with Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube. He is asked what other things would he like to fund...

"There is one thing that I've been thinking about a lot, but I'm not quite sure how to do it yet. One of my principal concerns is the preservation of freedom in the United States. Now, in order to have a free country, it's necessary to have a free press. A free press is a press that is ready, willing, and able to present all the different points of view that bear on an issue. If people are not informed in an impartial and unbiased manner, if there is only one point of view that they ever hear, how can they possibly make a decision that was in the best interest of their country or their civilization?

What I would like to explore are ways to distribute and influence the body politic with much more balanced reporting. So how do you create that? I'm not sure yet. It won't be easy. It will take a lot of people--this is another area ripe for philanthropic collaboration, I would say--working together to bring balance back into the media, particularly in its political coverage. I'm sure there is more balance in terms of basic news: political turmoil in the Congo or a fire in downtown Boston, or reporting on a sporting event. But coverage of politics, economics--of ideology, of ideas--is badly unbalanced. And, ultimately, we live off of our ideology. "

Interview with Tad Taube - Interviews - Philanthropy Magazine - Philanthropy Roundtable

Please also see:

Dear WSJ: To Avoid Google Disease, Please Put A Condom On Your Content

"Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

Non-Profit News Funding - We Need A Sustainable Business Model Not Handouts

We need a Google AdSense on steroids: The Grand Challenge of Internet 2.0 - SiliconValleyWatcher

MediaWatch: The East Coast Tech Revival . . . More To Come?

There's an East Coast tech revival underway, I'm told. The publicists for say that Hulu and Etsy have been "overwhelmingly successful" and that is propelling New York City into "once again becoming a hot spot for creative people who make inventive and viable technologies."

I spoke with Kris Smith, the newly appointed senior editor of He recently moved from Chicago to New York city and says their is a vibrant startup scene and people are dusting off old business plans.

He says that there are some active investors and that large media companies have some interesting projects going on, and that they also make acquisitions of local startups. There's a lot of activity in structural data, semantic web, mobile, and more. And hopes to become the "Techcrunch" of the east coast.

He says there is a cultural difference between Silicon Valley and New York, there is a bit more focus on money. "Freemium has been great for some companies but generally it hasn't been very good for developers."

East coasters like to poke at Silicon Valley's penchant for "build it and then figure out the revenues" attitude -- not that Mr Smith is doing that but it is certainly a cultural difference.

Interestingly, "freemium" is a term coined by New York based VC Fred Wilson.

Mr Smith likes CNN's iPhone app because it charges money. And I agree, premium is a better model than "freemium" -- if you can get the dollars.

I ask him what jokes do people tell about Silicon Valley? He says there are none and laughs when I tell him I don't believe him.

I've had friends move from here to New York over the past few years and while they love the city, they say it is difficult to find people that you can talk to about technology and business. You can have conversations here that are very difficult to find anywhere else in the world, and that's why companies continue to move here from all over the world, including the East Coast.

It's great to hear that New York might be enjoying a bit of a tech revival but I'm afraid that Silicon Valley's view on this topic is equivalent to the famous New Yorker cartoon of the New York cityscape, where the rest of the world is depicted as pimples on a distant horizon. NYC is simply a pimple -- it's not personal it just is.

Is There A Future For The Embargo?

On October 29 I'll be on a panel with Mike Arrington from Techcrunch and Mark Glazer from NPR's Media Shift, moderated by Sam Whitmore from Media Survey, discussing embargoes and if they have a future.

The event will be at Varnish Gallery in downtown San Francisco at 6pm and is organized by Waggener Edstrom-San Francisco.

The topic is interesting because embargoes don't seem to work anymore. Techcrunch is famous for breaking embargoes; Wall Street Journal and other publications no longer accept embargoes; while others keep embargoes but are then upset when they are broken, and that can strain relationships between PR people and journalists.

I do accept embargoes but then I end up not writing about the news because the embargo is too far out in time and I've either forgotten about the news or have gotten bored by it. And of course, the embargo is usually broken so what's the point?

But how should companies distribute important news in a fair manner, giving every media outlet a chance to interview key executives and research and write the story?

Are embargoes better suited for different types of stories? Is it possible to create a new type of rule book around embargoes?

Hopefully you can join us on October 29 for "Embargo 2010: Industry Conversation on Future Rules of Media Engagement."

Eric Schmidt Admits Google Is A Media Company

For many years I've been saying that Google (GOOG) is a media company. For many years people have been telling me I'm wrong that, " Google is a tech company."

But what technology can you buy from Google? You can buy database tech from Oracle, you can buy microprocessor tech from Intel. What tech can you buy from Google? (OK, a search appliance box but that's it.)

Erik Schonfeld writes about Ken Auletta's forthcoming book: "Googled: The End Of The World As We Know It."

He quotes from a pre-publication copy in a post titled - Googled: Schmidt Wants To Build A "$100 Billion Media Company":

In 2007, Eric Schmidt told me that one day Google could become a hundred-billion-dollar media company--more than twice the size of Time Warner, the Walt Disney Company, or News Corporation.

Foremski's Take: Google, Yahoo, EBay, Facebook, and a host of Web 2.0 companies, and many more, are all media companies. They publish pages of content with advertising around it.

What's not a media company about that?

These are technology-enabled media companies. They are not tech companies.

Google uses technologies to harvest content for free and then serve up ads around that content. It doesn't want to produce content or pay for content if it can help it, although it does pay for some content on YouTube.

What is interesting about the quote from Mr Schmidt is that over the past few years Google hasn't wanted to portray itself as a media company because it hasn't wanted to appear as a competitor to media companies. Especially, when it has partnered with them using its AdSense ad network. But most media companies have figured it out by now.

- - -
Please see: "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

MediaWatch Monday:Non-Profit News Funding - We Need A Sustainable Business Model Not Handouts

Last week's announcement that philanthropist Warren Hellman is giving $5m to fund a non-profit news venture with UC Berkeley and KQED has been widely hailed as a good thing.

But I don't like it or any other non-profit approach to news journalism. The entire industry is already non-profit in that it doesn't make money.

The point it to find a new business model for news journalism -- that's what Mr Hellman's money should be used for. If we can develop new business models then everyone benefits, everyone can use the new business models.

If news journalism has to wait for handouts then it will never be a healthy industry.

Story continues...

MediaWatch Monday: Missing The Point - Publishers Wrestle With Advertising Formats

There's been a fair amount of discussion lately about online advertising and its variety of forms. Most recently, Shelby Bonnie, the former CEO and co-founder of CNET, railed against the CPM form of online advertising.

... does anyone else feel like the online advertising industry is the orchestra, playing on while the Titanic is sinking?
We have a problem, folks. And I, for one, think we should start to fix it by killing off the CPM, once and for all.
I have been in the Internet media space for 16 years and will start by stating the obvious: The CPM has done more to stunt innovation and drag down quality products than any single thing on the Internet. Maybe it works in other mediums, but it sure as hell doesn't work on the Internet.

Let's Kill The CPM

A few weeks ago, Jim Spanfeller, the outgoing CEO of wrote an article titled: Publishers Are Killing Web Advertising's Potential With Misguided Pricing

...we now know that 16% of web users generate 80% of clicks and that this 16% represents the lower income and education segments of the total user base. Do we really want to be held accountable as an industry by metrics generated by the lowest common denominator and a minority of users to boot? I can't think of too many successful models using these types of metrics

(Please see: Chief Rails Against Online Advertising Metrics Because It's Low Class)

In both articles and in the comments section there is lots of discussion about the merits of different forms of advertising, whether CPC is better than CPM, or a combination of CPA and CPC is best, etc.

Foremski's Take: I'm not going to explain what all these acronyms for online advertising mean because they are all missing the point. And the point is simple: Online advertising doesn't work for publishers no matter how it is done.

The point is that we don't have a good enough "value recovery mechanism" for online news. It's a fancy way of saying publishers aren't able to get enough revenue to pay for new content. Without this virtuous cycle they are losing money.

This is the crux of why media is failing, it's nothing to do with blogging or Google. We haven't figured out a way of recovering the value of online news.

Clearly there is value in online news because millions of people read it. And newspaper and magazine web sites continue to grow in readership.

For example, says that for August 2009, New York Times grew 9 per cent in that month to 16.7m unique visitors; Wall Street Journal is up 5 per cent 11.9 million unique visitors; Forbes is up 5 per cent to 11.3 million unique visitors; for comparison, Techcrunch dropped 4 per cent to 1.9 million unique visitors.

More readers usually means more money -- at least it did in traditional media. But more online readers doesn't add up to much at all, because the only way to recover the value of all that work is mostly through online advertising--and that's why publishers are hung up on which form of online advertising we should be using.

The problem is that none of the forms of online advertising will give the publishers what they want -- more revenue to stop the losses.

What, then, is the right "value recovery mechanism" for journalism? I don't know but this is the most important question facing the Internet today because it affects all of our futures.

- - -
Please see:

We need a Google AdSense on steroids: The Grand Challenge of Internet 2.0

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers? - SiliconValleyWatcher

DEMOFall Kicks Off With In-Deph Coverage By Co-Producer VentureBeat

DEMOFall kicks off today, a showcase of about 70 companies who pay to present at the conference.

VentureBeat is a co-producer of the show and is also covering the announcements. So is this a type of pay-per-post arrangement except in name?

It's not clear. Anthony Ha, a VentureBeat reporter writes:

. . . VentureBeat's front page is plastered with our stories about launching companies. Dean Takahashi, Kim-Mai Cutler, and I have each written in-depth posts about some of the launches, and we're going to be covering many more over the next two days of the conference (which is co-produced by VentureBeat).

This is all part of a larger trend. Last week's Techcrunch 50 conference was covered exclusively by Techcrunch getting all the launch news first. Would Techcrunch have written about all those companies if it wasn't a Techcrunch co-produced event? Would VentureBeat have written about all the Demo companies if it wasn't a co-produced event? Clearly not.

Many media companies are being forced to look for additional revenue streams because advertising alone cannot support their editorial teams. Media companies producing conferences are becoming an important revenue stream, GigaOm, for example recently hosted its Mobilize conference.

No one can blame these excellent publications from seeking additional revenues to support their work. But surely such arrangements question their editorial integrity since their coverage of companies is not dependent on an editorial decision but on a financial relationship.

Do their readers care about such things? I guess we will find out.

- - -
Please also see:

Issues When Media Companies Host Conferences

Newspaper Ad Revenues Continue To Fall - 25% In Q3

Newspaper ad revenues continue to fall and at a pace not seen since the Depression. The New York Times reports that Q3 ad revenues are expected to be 25% below the same period a year ago.

The drop in combined print and digital ad revenue last year, 16.6 percent, according to the Newspaper Association of America, was the worst since the Depression. But it looks rosy next to 2009, when revenue fell 28.3 percent in the first quarter and 29 percent in the second.
Newspapers Have Not Hit Bottom, Analysts Say -

Foremski's Take: This is bad news for newspaper companies because they have already made many cuts in staff and other expenses. There isn't much more they can do.

Charging for online news is unlikely to stem losses.

And it is not just print advertising that is in decline. Newspaper companies are also reporting lower ad revenues from their online operations. Their transition from print to online offers them no hope of better times.

Although the future looks bleak for newspaper companies, the future for news journalism doesn't have to be tied to demise of newspapers.

It should be possible to build new types of news organizations that are focused on solid journalistic practices and the distribution of news through many online channels and in a variety of formats.

However, the transition period will be unpleasant and we can expect to see more large newspaper closures and thousands more layoffs.

In the meantime, top blogger Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic has asked his readers to buy subscriptions to the print version of the magazine.

Within two days after last Monday's post, Mr. Sullivan's appeal pulled in 75 percent of the subscriptions that the Web site draws in a typical month, the magazine's publisher, Jay Lauf, said. The Atlantic expects this month's subscription orders to be double an average month's.
Atlantic Blogger Andrew Sullivan Makes Pitch for Supporting Print -

Unfortunately, having bloggers pitch for print is not a sustainable business model. And it's a shame people couldn't choose to buy a subscription and not receive a print version of the magazine.

Some Observations On Trends In Media And PR . . .

Tuesday was a very good day. I got to spend time with Sabrina Horn, head of the Horn Group, and Todd Defren, head of Shift Communications.

These are two people that I have a lot of respect for because they've been around the block a few times and they are in the midst of some big changes.

They spend a lot of time in Silicon Valley but they are based out on the East coast, which gives them a broader perspective about many of the things that are happening here.

Also, what is interesting is that we are both on different sides of the same coin. The changes that are disrupting the media industry are similar to the changes disrupting the PR industry.

And these are not pleasant times. It's especially tough when you are responsible for large numbers of staff (which I'm not). These are scary times.

But these are also fascinating times.

While many bemoan the dying of traditional media, we forget to notice that we have more media now, in more formats, than ever before in the short history of our species. What will this lead to?

This is an incredible time to be a witness to what is going on, and even better, to be involved in the dramatic changes in media and PR communications.

The way I see things developing is that our future destinies are converging. Whether we are in journalism or PR, our mission is to help our communities, companies, non-profit organizations, governments, individuals, etc, to help them tell their stories in real and authentic ways. So that the more we know about each other the less strange we will seem to each other.

Why is this important? Because in an increasingly media fragmented world it is easier than ever for people to spend time with others that look and think the same. It is easier than ever to become more segregated and distant from each other.

And the less we know about each other the more opportunities there are for xenophobia and conflict.

As journalists and PR communicators we have a unique opportunity to work to bridge these divides and that means we all benefit.

How we do it I'm not sure but that's the best part -- we all get a chance to figure these things out.

This might seem a bit of a stretch, a post about journalism and PR trends turning into a post about peace and understanding. But what can I say? That's where I see things heading. And that's what gets me out of bed each day.

New York Times Finally Gets It: We're "Not A Newspaper"

For several years I've been advising that newspaper publishers should not think of themselves as newspaper publishers but as providers of news services.

But changes in self-perception take a long time. For example, it took IBM nearly ten years to transform itself from "the world's largest computer company" into "the world's largest computer services company." It was facing an ugly demise from the challenge of the microcomputer.

This is a similar transition that newspapers need to make today. Paper or electron it shouldn't have to matter how they deliver the news.

It seems that the New York Times has come to this realization and that's encouraging.

In a memo released yesterday you will find the following:

...we are a news company, not a newspaper company. We are committed to offering our consumers our content wherever and whenever they want it and even in ways they may not have envisioned - in print or online - wired or mobile - in text, graphics, audio, video or even live events.

Because of our high-quality journalism, we have very powerful and trusted brands that attract educated, affluent and influential audiences. These audiences are a true competitive advantage as we move into an increasingly digital world.

Finally, our most valuable news organization gets it. This is very encouraging for the future of quality journalism, imho.

Issues When Media Companies Host Conferences

The popular TechCrunch50 conference started this week. Organized by TechCrunch, the conference attracts many young startups.

This is part of a broad trend by media companies to host conferences in a bid to improve revenues. GigaOm, VentureBeat, also have their own conferences because the revenues from advertising alone are far from sufficient to pay for ever larger staffs.

The attraction for companies participating in these conferences is good because it guarantees that each media organization will cover its own conference. This brings up a potential issue that this is a pay-per-post scheme.

Techcrunch avoids such criticism by charging the conference audience and not the main 50 companies that are presenting. However, it does charge exhibition fees of $3,000 for each of the 100 companies in the "Demo Pit."

VentureBeat is now co-producer of the DEMO conference. It'll be interesting to see how it deals with potential conflicts of interest regarding pay-per-post because DEMO companies pay to attend (after they've been selected.)

The advantage to companies from getting media coverage from a TechCrunch, GigaOm, VentureBeat, etc is considerable. It can dramatically boost the Google pagerank for each company's website. And that translates into big bucks in savings in terms of online marketing.

Google uses pagerank to decide the importance of a website within its ranking of results for a specific topic. And pagerank is determined by the importance of sites, and the number of sites, that link to a page. A good pagerank means that companies will show up higher on a list of Google results and these types of "organic" search results are far more effective than paid search ads.

However, because each media organzation is covering its own conference, this can discourage other reporters from writing news that is announced at the event.

For example, a quick search on Techmeme reveals very little media coverage of TC50 outside of Techcrunch.

Could companies could have gained broader media coverage and therefore a higher pagerank if they hadn't taken part in a media company organized conference? Probably, but only if they have some important news to release.

This could be an issue at the upcoming DEMOFall which boasts that "each DEMO translates to over a billion media impressions worldwide." Will VentureBeat's involvement dampen media coverage?

Maybe this is why traditionally, conference and trade show organizations were always independent of the media.

5yrs: Lessons From A Blogger/Journalist - The Start of A Series

It was about five years ago that I left my job as a reporter and columnist for the Financial Times in the San Francisco bureau. And it's been a tremendous journey.

I didn't realize at the time that I would become the first reporter to leave a major newspaper to make a living as a professional journalist/blogger. It puzzled a lot of people as to why I would give up one of the top jobs in my industry for an uncertain future.

I did it because I could see that there were a lot of changes happening in my industry. I could see that staying in newspapers would mean staying on the sharp, pointy, business end of the disruptive forces that were starting to be felt. I believed it would be better be on the other side of the disruption, afterall, things would not get any better for newspapers, but would gradually get better for online publishers.

I could also see that the management of newspapers, not just mine, didn't see what was going on.

Story continues...

Wired's Chris Anderson Bans Words "Journalism" And "Media" And Claims New Economy


(Photo by Joi Ito)

When people travel out of the country, or speak with people not from this country, they sometimes say things they might not normally say. This seems true in the interview Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired magazine, gave to Spiegel, the top German business magazine.

Take a look: Chris Anderson on the Economics of 'Free': 'Maybe Media Will Be a Hobby Rather than a Job' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

This is how it begins:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Anderson, let's talk about the future of journalism.

Anderson: This is going to be a very annoying interview. I don't use the word journalism.

SPIEGEL: Okay, how about newspapers? They are in deep trouble both in the United States and worldwide.

Anderson: Sorry, I don't use the word media. I don't use the word news. I don't think that those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th century. Today, they are a barrier. They are standing in our way, like 'horseless carriage'.

SPIEGEL: Which other words would you use?

Anderson: There are no other words. We're in one of those strange eras where the words of the last century don't have meaning. What does news mean to you, when the vast majority of news is created by amateurs? Is news coming from a newspaper, or a news group or a friend? I just cannot come up with a definition for those words. Here at Wired, we stopped using them.

Foremski's Take: Wow. No words for media or journalism. I'm thinking Mr Anderson wasn't having a good day when Spiegel came calling.

It's a ridiculous position. The media is dead long live the media. We have more media, in more forms than at any time ever in our history. Yet Mr Anderson decides not to use words like journalism and media within Wired. Wow.

Mr Anderson also seems to think that payment isn't necessary for creating online content:

The vast majority of people online write for free. We've tried paying some of our bloggers and they thought it was insulting. They're not doing it for the money, they're doing it for attention and reputation, or just for fun.

. . .In the past, the media was a full-time job. But maybe the media is going to be a part time job. Maybe media won't be a job at all, but will instead be a hobby.

You get what you pay for. That's an expression that still rings true in this online world. I guess Wired's journalists have now been rebranded as hobbyists and they shouldn't expect a pay rise, or payment at all.

Mr Anderson also makes some preposterous claims about the online economy:

The online economy is about the size of the German economy. And it's based on a default price of zero. Most things online are available in a free form. We have never seen an economy this big with a default price of zero.

Last time I went to Amazon, I saw free shipping but that's the only free thing I saw. An online economy where the default price is free is not an economy.

Take a look at this:

. . .Free is the force of gravity. If we decide to resist it then somebody else will compete with something that is free. The marketplace follows the underlying economics. You can be free or you can compete with free. That's the only choice there is.

Competing against something that is free means there is no competition. Businesses compete in markets and markets are defined by revenues. If Mr Anderson looks closely, he will find businesses competing for revenues, nothing has changed. Mr Anderson is so tied to the premise of his book that he is attempting to create a strange new marketplace of "free." Yet "free" is not a marketplace. There is no such marketplace.

Nothing has changed

Companies that offer "free" goods or services make it up by selling goods or services and collecting revenues. The online economy works the same as any economy.

There is no new economy of "free.".

Free is a marketing gimmick, it always has been, and it has always been used in that way. I'm sure Mr Anderson is familiar with the term "loss leader." Nothing has changed. There's no free lunch.

Move Over Software Engineers It's The Era Of Media Engineers


Software coding is becoming a much more common skill and it is a skill that is losing value. You can find coders in developing countries and contract the work for a fraction of what it used to cost.

But there is going to be a need for a new type of software engineer, or better described as a media engineer. Let me explain.

Story continues...

Turnaround In Newspaper Fortunes? NYTimes Reports Profit, Beats Wall Street Estimates


The New York Times Company reported a profit of $39.1m for its second quarter, beating Wall Street estimates forecasting a loss.

Three months ago it reported a loss of $74.5m for its first quarter.

The net income was 27 cents a share, compared with 15 cents a year earlier. Excluding special items like one-time charges and the tax adjustment, net income in the most recent quarter was 8 cents a share; analysts had forecast, on a comparable basis, a 4-cent loss.

However, this does not signal a turnaround in the newspaper sector. Profitability was achieved by severe cost cutting measures and a favorable tax adjustment.

The company trimmed operating costs 20 percent from a year earlier, or by $140.5 million; $29 million of that reduction came from the closure early this year of City and Suburban, a money-losing newspaper and magazine distribution subsidiary.

"For the full year we expect to save $450 million," (Janet) Robinson (CEO) said. "That amounts to 16 percent of our 2008 cost base."

Ad revenue plunged by nearly 32 per cent, the steepest decline since the Depression. Revenue from online operations dropped 14.3 per cent to $78.2 million.

Foremski's Take:

Clearly, the New York Times Company cannot continue to cut costs in order to make money. It's not a sustainable business strategy. And with online revenues falling it will be forced to come up with a way of charging its online readers.

Ms Robinson told analysts that the company is "undertaking quantitative and qualitative research as to how many of our readers would be willing to pay for online content, and how much they would pay. At this time, our work is centered on a metered model and a Times membership model with special offerings."

This is not a new strategy. The New York Times had to abandon an earlier attempt to charge for content.

Adknowledge Buys Smart Rewards: Will Virtual Cash Reinvent Online Ads?


Adknowledge, the largest online advertising network, today acquired Super Rewards, a fast growing startup that uses virtual cash to engage people with advertisers. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

"I'm very excited about the promise of virtual cash," Brett Brewer, president of Adknowledge, told SVW. " We wanted to acquire the leader in this space because we think that growth is going to be very fast. And we can scale the Super Rewards technology across our entire business. We also have offices in many countries and can bring in country specific advertisers."

Mr Brewer said that Adknowledge annual revenues are about $250 million. But display advertising is becoming less effective. "We think virtual cash is going to be very big. Instead of bombarding consumers with more ads, Super Rewards allows people to engage with advertisers, it gives people a choice."

Virtual cash is a big business in the online gaming world and it is now also being used in social networking sites.

Super Rewards pays people in virtual currencies of their choice in return for specific tasks such as if they sign up for a Netflix account or apply for an insurance quote.

Super Rewards buys the virtual currencies and in turn is paid by companies as part of regular affiliate sales commision. It makes its money on the difference between the money it earns from the affiliate sales and the cost of the virtual cash.

Affiliate marketing was initially popularized by Amazon, which pays a percentage of sales to "associates" who bring in customers. Super Rewards has affiliate sales relationships with about 4,000 companies.

Mr Brewer sees applications for virtual cash beyond gaming and social network sites. Virtual cash could be used by newspapers. "I've spoken with some newspaper groups and they are very open to exploring this market."

Mr Brewer says Adknowledge has relationships with large advertisers such as Dell, and Expedia. And that they are interested in virtual currencies.

Mr Brewer is the co-founder of Intermix Media, which created MySpace.

[Please see: There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers? - SiliconValleyWatcher]

Foremski's Take:

It's interesting to see the online advertising industry seeking new ways of making money. It's an admission that traditional online advertising is becoming less and less effective.

Virtual cash is one of the potential solutions and the use of virtual cash can be extended to many new markets.

Earlier this year I interviewed Jason Bailey the CEO of Super Rewards. I pointed out that virtual cash could be used by newspapers as a surrogate micro-payments system for online content. For example, local advertisers could pay readers with virtual cash in exchange for viewing ads or filling out a survey. A local furniture store might offer virtual cash to readers of the "Home" section of a newspaper.

And newspapers could use virtual cash to pay for reader generated content. Newspapers could create a real economy around trading news services and content. This is a much more engaging business model than selling an ad - a marketing message sitting inside a box - easy to ignore and increasingly ineffective.

In terms of wider advertising opportunities, the Super Rewards technology could be used by larger brands. However, it is not clear if there is a broad demographic appeal for virtual currencies.

There is also a mismatch in the motivation of people wanting to acquire virtual cash versus wanting a Netflix subscription or an insurance quote. The quality of the leads is likely to be poor and cancellation of services is probably going to be at a higher than normal level.

However, this is a rapidly growing sector and we are in the early stages of the build out of virtual economies in different market sectors.

Adknowledge has made a savvy acquisition and pulled ahead of other ad networks in pioneering a new business model. It is well positioned to discover how this virtual currency market will develop and what are the most effective advertising strategies. And its large size will help to accelerate the educational process needed within the slow-to-change advertising business.

Traveling Geeks: A Guardian Newspaper Media Panel, Twitter, From Back to Front And Beyond...


Tuesday evening our third event that day for the Traveling Geeks (but not the last) was to take part in a media debate at The Guardian newspaper's offices in north London.

The Guardian is one of the UK's largest newspapers and its media section is superb -- anyone that is anyone in the media industry reads it, and anyone that's interested in media -- reads The Guardian's media section.

It was a very good turnout for the event despite horrid downpours. Part of our TG gang (Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, and JD Lasica) were on the panel discussing the future of media with the Guardian's Emily Bell, and the BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones.

It was a good discussion but it felt very "2005" in terms of the subjects, which kept returning to blogger/social media versus mainstream media.

The Butcher of Fleet Street

I was sitting at the back of the room next to fellow TGer Craig Newmark of Craigslist. And inevitably, the panel's moderator couldn't resist asking him to stand up and explain himself for killing the newspaper industry.

Craig is mightily fed up with this question. And I agree. It is not his fault that the newspaper industry is in trouble. But Craig handled it all very well, throwing in a line "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition," which drew laughs and distracted the panel from further pursuit of a tired line of questioning and drew the discussion back to the favorite subject of the day: Twitter.

From Back To Front

It was fun publishing from the back of the room and having our Tweets projected onto a big screen in the front of the room.

Here is the evening's Twitstream.

And here are my contributions:

Story continues...

Vinod Khosla Says Silicon Valley VCs Tried to Save Newspaper Industry In 1996

At the recent SDForum 2009 Visionary Awards, Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley's top VCs, gave an inspiring and very humble speech.

How To Succeed In Silicon Valley By Bumbling And Failing...

Afterwards, I went over to congratulate him on his award and also say how much I enjoyed his speech. Rebecca Buckman, one of Forbe's top journalists, was also there. He then started to tell us a very interesting story, about how Silicon Valley VCs could have saved the newspaper industry--back in 1996.

Story continues...

Scobleizer Traffic Plunge - The Real-Time Web Can Be Bad For Your Blog

Robert Scoble has been a tireless evangelist for the real-time web and he has been spending much of his time on Twitter and Friendfeed, and less and less time on his blog Scobleizer. [Please see:  Is Twitter (and Friendfeed) Killing Blogging? Scobleizer Hasn't Posted In 12 Days!!!]

Now he has sworn off FriendFeed and Twitter, saying that those services are "hurting long-time knowledge." This about turn comes on the heels of Mr Scoble berating Kara Swisher at All Things D for not taking part in the real-time web.

It’s interesting that neither Kara nor Walt show up very often on friendfeed, which is the best example of the 2010 Web right now. Kara Swisher has made a total of five comments there. Walt is even worse, doesn’t bring any items in there, and only has six comments. How can you know what the 2010 Web is, if you don’t use it and don’t participate in it?

However, by largely avoiding the real-time web Ms Swisher and Mr Mossberg have chosen to protect their largest asset -- their web site traffic.

By neglecting, Scobleizer, a web site run by Mr Scoble's employer, Rackspace, traffic to the site has plunged.

In just two months, from March to May 2009, reports that traffic to Scobleizer fell from 181,500 unique visitors to 91,792. That's a nearly 50% drop in unique visitors!!! If the traffic for June can be projected, it looks headed for a 75% plunge.

I can imagine that Rackspace isn't too pleased to have such a massive drop in audience for its advertising and outages reports.

I'm sure that Robert can bring back the traffic but it's clear that its going to be difficult for him to also be active in all the other places, Building 43, Google Reader, email, Twitter, FriendFeed, FaceBook. And there's a lesson here for others too. You can't do it all.

The Pressure Is On When Every Company Is Now A Media Company...

I've been writing on this topic of "every company is now a media company" ever since I visited Dan Scheinman, head of M&A at Cisco Systems in March, 2005.

He told me that the @Cisco news site is run by journalists, and gets more traffic than the top computer trade newspapers. At the time Cisco was publishing more than 200 RSS streams. The penny quickly dropped and it was another of many "aha!" moments I have had since leaving the Financial Times five years ago.

These days more people understand the term and what it means to companies. However, not everyone understands what it takes to be a media company. If you are going to do it well It's a hell of a commitment.

Story continues...

Bitten and Smitten: Why Journalism Is Like Falling For The Wrong Person

I was at an event this evening and I met a journalist who was new to the profession. She had been in IT and now was working for a San Francisco newspaper. She asked if I had any words of advice for a new journalist.

I said welcome. But be careful it doesn't get under your skin because if it does, it will become a problem. It'll be very difficult to leave.

In many ways,  being bitten by journalism is similar to being smitten. It's similar to falling for the wrong person.

Story continues...

Human Or Machine - Or How To Get The News Before Techmeme

I'm a big fan of Gabe Rivera's Techmeme. Over the past year or so, Techmeme has managed to improve its results by using humans, in addition to its much vaunted algorithm -based approach.

Lately, Techmeme seems to be relying even more on humans by paying attention to Twitter and to Twitter's prolific news tipsters. The most successful of these is Atul Arora.

Story continues...

There Is No Advertising On The Real-Time Web (Yet) - What Hope For Mainstream Media?!

As the Twitterati, (and FriendFeederati,) abandon blogging and past-tense sites, is this a sign of the next phase of online media? It seems that way.

So what will happen to online advertising, and the "old" media? There's no real-time ad networks right now and none on the real-time media that I see.

The old media (we used to call it mainstream) has barely gotten used to the "Always-On-Media" of blogging, etc. Now they have to jump into the real-time web.

And they can't.

Because there isn't a business model in the real-time web. (Just as there isn't in online media.)

By the time they jump in, there might be a business model then. Maybe. But I bet it won't be enough to support professional work.

Is Twitter (and Friendfeed) Killing Blogging? Scobleizer Hasn't Posted In 12 Days!!!

I was going through a list of venture capital blogs the other day and I found many were dead, hadn't been updated in months. . . some in years. But I also noticed that some of the owners of the dead blogs were still alive and active -- they were on Twitter.

Then I happened to look at Robert Scoble's blog, "Scobleizer." When I started SVW five years ago, Robert was the top tech blogger and very prolific, posting many times a day. But I was shocked at what I saw the other day. The most recent entry was on his blog at the time of writing was May 29, 2009. UPDATED: He didn't post again for 12 days!

And his prior post was on May 24.

I know Robert is very active on Twitter and on Friendfeed, and you can find him there.

But I wonder what his employer, Rackspace, thinks about all of this. Presumably they hired Robert because of his visibility online. But his visibility in the "real-time" web is much less than his visibility on his blog, which is read by far more people.

Robert's tag line on Scobleizer is "Exploring the 2010 Web." I'm sure he is, just not that much on Scobleizer.

Harvard Twitter Study Uncovers Big Gender Gap

A study of Twitter users conducted by Bill Heil and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski from the Harvard Business School has uncovered a surprisingly large gender gap compared with other social networks.

The study sampled 300,542 users. It found that men were twice as likely as women to follow other men, and women were 25 per cent more likely to follow a man than a woman. This is despite there being slightly more women on Twitter.

This is a big difference compared with other social networks.

On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know. Generally, men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women.

The authors of the study could not explain the different gender ratios.

Another way Twitter differs from other online social networks is in how rarely a user tweets. Just over 50 per cent tweet just once in 74 days. But 10% of users create more than 90% of all tweets.

On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production.

...This implies that Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

Foremski's Take:

    Story continues...

    Does Anyone Have A Fork? Twitter Looks Done To Me . . .


    I was driving through San Francisco on my way to SF New Tech and had to stop and take this shot. This can't be a good sign for Twitter.

    (Evan, Biz. Sell now! (Or take some money off the table . . . Give Mark Z a call, there's always an opportunity to do some laundry. . .))

    Here is more proof that Twitter days are numbered.

    From: All Things D:

    Twitter Guys: We’ll Still Be Running This Company in 5 Years

    Meet the Internet’s It Boys: Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. A year ago their “micromessaging” platform was unknown outside of a small circle of digerati. Now the service has broken through to the mainstream, or at least to the mainstream media (thanks, Oprah!). But while Twitter has no problem generating attention, it’s still unclear how the company will actually generate revenue.

    (BTW, don't you just love news stories that tell you something new?)

    And of course:

    Twitter in TV deal

    WASHINGTON (AFP) — Micro-blogging sensation Twitter is heading for another screen -- the TV screen.

    Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in a post on the blog of the hot San Francisco-based startup that Twitter had entered into a "lightweight, non-exclusive, agreement" with TV producers Reveille and Brillstein.

    Stone did not reveal any details about the project except to say it would not be for an "official Twitter TV show."

    (More here.)

    I would be programming my Tivo ((if I hadn't gotten rid of it and cable TV...) but I'm certain it'll be on Hulu or Rev3.)

    Even more proof:

    Kutcher threatens to stop Twittering

    LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Ashton Kutcher -- Twitter's top tweeter -- warned he may pull the plug on his tweeting if the micro-blogging service partners on a reality TV show.

    More here.

    Yes, I did Twit this post but I figure Twitter has about 25 days left... give or take a month or two.

    What will take Twitter's place?

    I'll tell you about it later this week: the next hot club house that the cool kids will be hanging out at.

    Adify: Everything Is Hunky Dory In Online Advertising

    Russ Fradin

    Russ Fradin says the online advertising industry is doing well and growing -- it's certainly not a shrinking medium even though some reports of falling ad rates might indicate problems.

    Mr Fradin is CEO of Adify, a large advertising network that was acquired by Cox Enterprises about a year ago. Its a platform for building smaller ad networks focused on "vertical" content such as iVillage - which caters to women. Here are some notes from our conversation:

    -- I mentioned Nick Denton of Gawker saying that the micropublishing dream is dead. Mr Fradin disagreed, saying that "it was never going to happen." The idea that bloggers running niche sites would be getting rich was a fantasy. He thinks that micropublishing will gradually become more profitable but no one is going to be selling their blogs and retiring.

    -- Every online ad network continues to do well despite the economy because there are still a lot of ad budgets shifting online from radio, television and newspapers.

    -- There wasn't much of interest at the recent AdTech conference in San Francisco except that advertising agencies are wondering what role they will play in the online world.

    -- There is a tremendous amount of content online and more coming online all the time, this appears to dilute online advertising dollars. This fragmentation is increasing and that's what makes it difficult for media companies to make money because there is so much competition. Fragmentation is destroying media. Ad networks provide value because they aggregate content for advertisers.

    -- Won't there be a shakeout on the content side I asked? No, there will always be people willing to create the content for little money because they have a day job.

    -- Politico is a good example of a media company that is doing well. It is syndicating its content along with its own advertising network and sharing the revenues with newspapers. Newspapers are able to shut their Washington bureaus and use Politico content instead.

    -- Social networks won't find a magic formula to boost their CPM rates but they can still be very lucrative because they can serve up trillions of pages.

    -- Adify is nearing signing up 200 vertical ad networks.

    -- Federated Media seems to be turning into a social media ad agency.

    -- Cox has been a great owner, very nice people. It lets Adify do its job. Adify is growing and hiring lots of engineer in UI and back-end operations.

    Story continues...

    MediaWatch: Nick Denton - The Micropublishing Dream Is Dead

    Advertising Age has an interesting interview with Nick Denton, a former Financial Times journalist and head of Gawker Media, which publishes several high traffic web sites such as Gizmodo.

    This extract was striking:

    Ad Age: One cherished notion of downturns is that it's the best time to launch a media property. Any plans along those lines?
    Mr. Denton: I have one scheme in mind -- but I'm ever conscious of the need for scale. Remember the dream of micropublishing? A few years ago, we still believed that costs were so low and online advertising so magical that the most arcane of subject matters could attract a viable audience. That dream is dead. We'll spend our time and money on sites such as Gizmodo, Kotaku and Gawker -- where we already have the scale or soon will.

    This is interesting because Mr Denton is a poster child entrepreneur for "blogger" new media. Gawker was born from that early promise of micropublishing yet Mr Denton now has to hoe the old media line: provide large numbers, hopefully to reach a scale that reminds the advertising agencies of the old media -- as if nothing had changed in their world.

    Since the mid-1990s we've been talking about how the Internet would allow hyper-targeting of audiences with content and with marketing messages. Why buy a scatter-shot advertising campaign with a potential reach of 20 million people when you can target just the 10,000 people you really want?

    Advertising agencies still want to just buy "numbers" rather than the right numbers. They would still rather buy a "Super Bowl" type ad than than try to drill down to reach the right people.

    When I met with Russ Fradin from Adify, the Cox-owned advertising network, last year, he said it was because advertising agencies don't want to deal with hundreds of separate invoices for placing targeted ads on sites.

    So, is the micropublishing dream dead? Or has it not yet arrived? That's my view. The micropublishing opportunities are still ahead of us because the ad agencies haven't shifted from their old ways of doing business. But we know they will shift.

    They will shift because there are excellent arbitrage opportunities. The ad agencies that can manage the complexities of targeted online media buys will do much better than the good old boys.

    There are lucrative business opportunities for those ad agencies that can do this well -- especially within a performance based model such as in affiliate marketing.

    When that happens, micropublishing will flourish because it will have the support of targeted marketing dollars. This will enable publishers of micro-sites to continue to produce top-notch content that attracts a specific audience. It might even restore that virtuous interaction between content and advertising -- a familiar media business model.

    - - -

    Please see:

    The Fallacy of Internet Ad Personlization...and the Bleak Future for Social Network Ads

    Gawker's Nick Denton: 'Original Reporting Will Be Rewarded' - Advertising Age - Digital

    New York Times And Google Look To Use SVW's Adtribution Model

    Silicon Alley Insider yesterday reported that New York Times and Google are in talks about introducing a new type of advertising that is embedded in a news story and travels with it when it is quoted on other web sites.

    Nicholas Carlson reported that Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of the New York Times Company, had visited Google's headquarters, and a source close to the talks said "one or two models" were discussed:

    - A potential agreement in which any time Google's search crawlers find a Web site carrying New York Times content and Google ads, Google would split the revenue it gets from those ads with the Times.

    - Google would somehow help the New York Times actually embed ads within its text so that when blogs or other Web sites use that text, the ads go with it.

    A New York Times spokesperson told Mr Carlson that the two companies had been collaborating "for quite some time."

    This is the same "Adtribution" advertising model proposed by Silicon Valley Watcher nearly a year ago:

    June 20, 2008: A Proposal and a Response to AP - Quote Me Freely and Carry my Adtribution Link . . .

    June 22, 2008 Support the Source: Creating a New Media Business Model and Keeping the Web Open

    The Adtribution model is simple: if you publish a section from a news story you would also agree to publish the ads that are associated with that content. By doing that you receive a license to republish that copy. This method takes advantage of the distribution power of bloggers and the Internet, while also rewarding the content creator because the advertising associated with that content is also distributed.

    Google could produce a tool in which any section of a news story that is copied and pasted into a new web page would automatically also copy and paste the associated Adtribution advertising. The Google tool would carry Google's AdSense advertising. Other advertising networks could produce their own, similar Adtribution tools for their advertising. It could also be built into popular publishing platforms for bloggers such as Wordpress and Movable Type.

    Foremski's Take:

    If the Adtribution model is widely adopted, bloggers would be in the front lines of helping to save newspapers. It's an interesting twist in that bloggers have been blamed for stealing content and readers from the newspapers and contributing to their downfall.

    However, there are several issues that would need to be addressed. How would the revenues from advertising be split between the New York Times, Google, and the website owner/blogger quoting the news story?

    Also, how much money would this make for the New York Times? Google is very good at monetizing advertisements on its search pages with its AdWords advertising program. But its AdSense program, which places ads on newspaper sites and other content web sites, performs poorly.

    SVW's analysis of the two businesses, AdWords and AdSense, shows that its profit margin on search ads (AdWords) is nearly 40 per cent; its profit margin on AdSense (content ads on other sites such as the New York Times) is less than 5 per cent.

    In 2008, AdWords produced 19 times more profit than AdSense. How motivated is Google in implementing an Adtribution model? It can make 19 times more money in building out its search engine advertising.

    [Please see analysis here: Google Is Really Bad At Monetizing Content Yet CEO Schmidt Lectures Newspapers]

    Also, how much money would a Google based Adtribution model produce for the New York Times given the poor performance of Google's AdSense ads? Other ad networks, such as Federated Media, which produce higher revenues for publishers than AdSense, could adopt the Adtribution model and generate more money for publishers.

    The New York Times has an agreement with Google that might prevent it from using other ad networks.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

    Lifestream of Brian Solis - Tom Foremski proposes “adtribution” -...

    2008 June : New Communications Review

    /Message: Tom Foremski on Adtribution

    Journalism Schools Wake Up To Need For Media Engineers


    About four years ago I began writing about the need for "media engineers" a skill set that is part journalist and part software engineer. Software skills should be part of a modern journalist's toolbox. (My first job was as a software engineer 29 years ago.)

    Aug 17 2005 Journalists need to learn to speak some geek. . .

    ...journalists barely know how to type, or even how to spell...

    Most journalists don't know a lick of HTML or even much about their software and hardware beyond the basics familiar to a 10-year-old.

    That's going to have to change as the print/broadcast world, on which journalism was built, becomes a mostly online mediasphere.

    Journalists are going to have to learn to speak some geek, because increasingly, they will not only be researching and writing, but also producing and editing and publishing online too.

    Aug 19 2005 The coming era of the media engineer and media entrepreneur

    This is now the era of the media engineer and media entrepreneur because the future is all about technology-enabled media companies.

    [Oh, and BTW, every future company is a technology-enabled media company

    It's been a long wait but I was very happy to see this article by Leena Rao over at TechCrunch: Calling All Coders: Journalism Schools Want You To Save The News Industry

    Northwestern University's journalism school is offering free scholarships to software developers so they can further hone their journalism skills and possibly integrate the two for a media company down the line.

    ...The idea of creating programmers who understand journalism is compelling and brings attention to an important trend taking place in the industry.

    Hyperlocal news site Everyblock and the St. Petersburg Times' truth finding political database Politifact were both built by developers with journalism backgrounds. Their model falls on the heels of Politifact, started by coder-turned-journalist Matt Waite, which won a Pulitzer Prize this year for national reporting.

    It's taken many years for the journalism establishment to recognize the need for these skills. However, I think they have the cart before the horse.

    Journalism takes time to learn. You don't need a journalism degree but you do need time to hone story telling skills. I would argue that it is easier to teach "geek" to journalists than the other way around.

    I'd like to see more journalism schools offer classes in HTML, CSS, PHP, etc, to journalism students.

    Software engineers don't need to know how to be journalists to be succesful. But journalists certainly do need to know some "media engineering" skills to succeed in today's world.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Learning to speak Geek. . .

    Ten Basic New Media Skills Journalists Need To Know

    Google Is Really Bad At Monetizing Content Yet CEO Schmidt Lectures Newspapers

    ericschmidt.jpegEric Schmidt, Google's CEO, loves to tell the newspaper industry what it needs to do to be relevant in today's online world. A sample of recent headlines:

    Eric Schmidt Tells Newspapers: Create Products People Want And ...

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt to newspapers: Innovate your way out of it ...

    Eric Schmidt wishes Google could save newspapers

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt to Newspaper Association of America ...

    Schmidt to Newspaper Execs: I'm From Google, and I'm Here to Help ...

    Schmidt Lectures Newspapers - The Daily Beast

    Yes, the newspaper industry needs to get wiser about how to adapt to the online world, but Mr Schmidt's lecturing is the pot calling the kettle black. Google is about as bad at monetizing content as the newspaper companies Mr Schmidt likes to lecture. And Google is getting worse at it! The evidence is hiding in plain view.

    Story continues...

    Foremski's Take: Forbes CEO Says GOOG Does Evil

    Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO of, accused Google of violating its "do no evil" policy and of failing to clean up a web "cesspool."

    In an article titled What Google Can Do To Make The Web Less Of A 'Cesspool' | Mr Spanfeller wrote:

    ... in attempting to "do no evil," Google has done exactly that. I say this not just as someone running a content site but also as an end user. If this inequity of support continues along these lines, we will see a continuing destruction of our journalistic enterprises -- enterprises that are one of the core building blocks of our democracy. estimated that Google makes $60m per year from directing traffic to About $24m of that is from selling keywords with that include Forbes brand names. Google is making money from "simply being there."

    Story continues...

    Media In Transition: Silicon Valley Is Driving The Changes . . . And Is Changing

    I was at Chris Brogan's Inbound Marketing Summit on Wednesday, speaking on a panel moderated by Paul Gillin, on the subject of "Media in Transition: The Future of News in a Democratized World." My old friend Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat (formerly with Wall Street Journal, Red Herring, San Jose Mercury) was also on the panel, along with Ken Doctor, analyst with Outsell.

    Media in transition is a fascinating subject, I can talk for days, for weeks on this subject.

    Between the four of us on the panel, we probably have nearly a century of experience with news media. We now find ourselves taking part in an incredible transition within our industry of a like we will never see again in our lifetime.

    And few people realize that Silicon Valley is the main instigator of the disruption happening in the media industry. It is Silicon Valley technologies and companies that are at the forefront of developing the new landscape of the media industry, and also transforming SIlicon Valley into a "media valley."

    Take a look at some of our largest companies, such as Google, Yahoo, Ebay. These are media companies. These are not tech companies, you can't buy any tech from them, these are technology-enabled media companies.

    They publish pages of content with advertising. What's not a media company about that?

    Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist -- are all media companies, they publish pages of content and advertising. And so are most Web 2.0 companies.

    Take a look at the Internet, it is a media technology. It allows you to distribute and publish web pages, data, to any computer screen, any computer platform. Now, in this second phase of the Internet, anything with a computer screen can publish back -- it's now two-way, it's read/write, we now use both sides of the glass screen.

    It is Internet technologies and services, it is online companies such as Google, Craigslist, etc, that are helping to disrupt the media industry. Or more accurately, disrupt the business model.

    When we talk about the death of newspapers, what we really mean is the death of traditional media business models.

    On Silicon Valley Watcher, I often use the tag line: "reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media." Because that's what's happening, that's what I see, a tremendous intersection of technology and media. It's like tectonic plates coming together and crumpling the landscape into a new mountain range.

    And mountain range is a suitable metaphor because there are always two sides to a mountain range, one side is dry and the other is wet and fertile. For example, the Andes protect and enable the massive, wet, fertile Amazon rainforest with its incredible diversity of life, while the west side of the Andes is dry and relatively barren.

    The mountain range being created by the intersection of technology and media is a barrier to the traditional media companies, most don't seem to be able to climb and transition to the other side; most won't make it.

    But, I'm confident we will have a new type of Amazon rainforest emerging in the media industry, we will see an amazing diversity of media companies and services. You can already see the tremendous amount of innovation emerging and we've only just started.

    For example, Facebook and Twitter are very new, even to us in Silicon Valley, and they are spanking brand new for the majority of people today. What other new forms of media will we have a year from now?

    We can create incredible mashups of media technologies and media formats that have never been seen before. How will we use them? How will we deal with the loss of traditional media? How will our society handle the transition? How will we pay for journalists and the vital Fourth Estate service that they provide? How do we sell products and services? How do we find trusted sources of information?

    There are tons of questions waiting to be answered. And that's what's so wonderful about all of this, we are directly involved in figuring out those important answers. We, the people working in media, in communications, in marketing, in startups, we get a chance to help create and define the future.

    This is why I love my job, writing Silicon Valley Watcher, and reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media.

    Survey Shows 50% Of Journalists Thinking Of Leaving This Year

    Wednesday morning I took part in a lively panel discussion organized by PR Week that included John Byrne, Executive Editor, BusinessWeek; Erica Iacono, Executive Editor, PRWeek; Michael Schiferl, EVP & Director of Media Relations, Weber Shandwick; and Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Distribution Services, PR Newswire.

    The topic was the results of a PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey 2009 (download). Among the findings: 50 percent of journalists are considering a new career in 2009! This is stunning, I can't imagine any other profession where one-half of the practicioners are seriously considering leaving by the end of this year.

    John Byrne said that BusinessWeek relies heavily on its readers for story ideas; it also reveals what it's working on so that readers can get involved in the research, and that the old days of keeping story ideas secret from competitors are largely gone.

    Here are some additional findings:

    ...The numbers of print journalists expecting a decline in their circulation and an increased focus on the Web at their outlet in the next three years is 62%, up from 55.8% last year, while the number expecting staff reductions is 42%, compared to 26.2% last year. In addition, 8% expect a shuttering of the print title and a future online-only existence, up from 2.9% last year.

    ...70% of journalists say their workload is more this year compared to last.

    ...58% of print media respondents expect their outlet to publish a regular print product indefinitely, compared to 64% last year; 11% say one to three years, compared to 9% last year; and 9% expect it to remain for another four to five years, similar to last year.

    ...77% of respondents have a social network profile, up from 54% last year. Of those who participate in social networking, 58% have profiles on Facebook, 51% on LinkedIn, and 28% and 22% are on MySpace and Twitter, respectively. Of those with a social networking presence, 25% publish content to those pages several times a week, while 13% do so several times a day.

    ...Of traditional media respondents, 43% are the author of a blog; 28% say it is for their traditional outlet, 16% blog as their own hobby; and 9% write a personal blog for the industry they cover.

    ...20% say they use blog searches, while 17% say they often employ company blogs. In the course of researching a story, 29% use general blogs, 25% use company blogs, and 24% use social networks. Yet, when asked how often blogs are part of research, 39% say always or sometimes, while 61% say rarely or never.

    ...The survey finds that 31% of journalists have been pitched via a social network. Of those who responded that they had been, 62% say they've been pitched via Facebook, 42% by LinkedIn, 18% by Twitter, and 13% by another network.

    ...e-mail is still the preferred method of reporters and editors, as 90% of journalists say they prefer the medium to receive unsolicited information about a company, and 80% say the platform is the best way for PR pros to reach them. Asked what the ideal PR pitch looks like, 62% of respondents reply “a personalized, concise e-mail” while 22% say a traditional press release. Only 3% say phone calls are the ideal pitching technique.

    ...The PRWeek/PR Newswire Survey was conducted by CA Walker. E-mail notification was sent to about 115,502 traditional journalists and 1,462 bloggers. A total of 2,174 respondents (2,091 traditional journalists and 83 bloggers) completed the survey online from January 15 through February 9, 2009.

    NewComm Forum: Business Models For News; Social Media And Investor Relations

    I took part in two events today at Newcomm Forum, one of my favorite conferences. In the morning I co-hosted a roundtable with Andria Carter on New Business Models for News Organizations. It was an interesting discussion. We talked about how newspapers need to cultivate "99" separate revenue streams; how online advertising no longer works; how newspapers should learn from some successful B2B publishers such as IDG which makes good money from lead generation.

    Also, people seemed to like my idea to use virtual cash as a way of developing new revenues. Virtual cash would create a separate economy in which trading for information is encouraged, and virtual cash could be used as micro payments but also to reward contributors etc. (Please see: There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers? )

    Next: I took part in: "Social Media & Investor Relations -- Disclosure & Other Issues, with 2008 SNCR Fellow Brian Solis, SNCR Senior Fellow Tom Foremski" and Bryan Rhoads, from Intel, David Gelles from Financial Times, and Richard Brewer-Hay, from Ebay.

    Despite promising new guidance because "given the speed at which technological advances are developing, and the translation of those technologies into investor tools, we expected to revisit the guidance provided..." the SEC last updated its guidelines in 2000 and 2008(!)

    Bryan Rhoads noted that there is still a lot of gray in the rules. However, large companies like Intel, and Ebay are forging ahead and so far, so good, no SEC complaints. I made the point that social media, Twitter, Facebook, etc are just additional channels to communicate financial performance. If you follow the spirit of SEC Full Disclosure rules that you make material information about a public company as widely available as possible through many-media channel -- then there shouldn't be a problem. It's not a case of either/or, but of "and."

    David Gelles made an excellent point saying that investor relations and social media don't mix. I agree, investor relations is not interested in a "conversation" about the quarterly numbers it is interested in the widest distribution of that information. Social media is merely a conduit for investor relations.

    Richard Brewer-Hay spoke about his early days at Ebay as chief blogger and about Tweeting the quarterly conference call and some of the legal issues that came up.

    Brian Solis made some good points about SEC disclosure to investors that company results would be available via Twitter and other channels.

    Bryan Rhoads said that the chief blogging guideline at Intel is "write only about what you know." Excellent advice. Don't write about financials if you are designing chips.

    When Jim Finn was running North American communications at IBM, he once told me: "I don't worry about what someone will blog at IBM and upset the SEC because I have only one CFO, I don't have 90,000 CFOs." It's a great point. The vast majority of employees don't have access to financial performance numbers and thus can't leak them accidentally and violate SEC FD rules.

    - - -

    Newcomm is an excellent conference, the distinction between panel and audience is that there often isn't one. You could round up three or four people from the audience and they would do just as well on the panel. That's what makes it such as good conference, it's more like a salon of peers -- not podiums :)

    - - -

    Please see:

    Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

    Intel Looks Back On More Than 5 Years Of Blogging

    There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers?

    25 ideas: Creating An Open-Source Business Model For Newspapers

    Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage

    Searching For a Viable Media Business Model: French Government Aid For Newspapers

    FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

    Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

    Rupert Murdoch wants a Google rebellion, says Forbes. Murdoch calls Google, Yahoo copyright thieves, says Wired. Newspaper groups step up propaganda war on Google, says the Daily Telegraph. And in today's New York Times, A.P. seeks to rein in sites using its content.

    The saber rattling has been going on for a while but now the battle lines are being drawn. And it is all because news is not free. News has been made available for free, and it has been made into a commodity but that is not its future because there is no future in that model. You will have to pay for it.

    That means the end of the news aggregators. That means the end to arguments that the news aggregators send high volumes of traffic to the online publishers.

    What is the use of more traffic when it cannot be monetized to support the work of the news organizations?

    The only "news" that will remain free will be press releases--but there is little value in that type of unfiltered "news" source.

    But, there may be a solution to keeping news free, one that takes advantage of the distribution power of Google, bloggers, and the large number of of social network users sharing content -- while at the same time making some money for the media companies.

    In Monday's NYT article: Associated Press Seeks More Control of Content on Web

    They [A.P. executives] said they did not want to stop the appearance of articles around the Web, but to exercise some control over the practice and to profit from it.

    I have a solution: A content license for any online site that also publishes the content owners' designated ads.

    For example, if you republish a news story you also publish alongside it one or more "adtribution" links, simple text ads with live links, designated by the content creator.

    In this way, news media companies get a big benefit from having their news stories distributed for free by the news aggregators, bloggers, and online socialistas -- and their advertisers also get the distribution, which would improve ad revenues for the content producer. News would (might) remain free.

    Adtribution links would "stick" with the content. These days fewer and fewer people visit a news site, they read news stories in their RSS newsreaders, or on news aggregator sites. News content is ever more becoming divorced from its web site, which means so are its advertisers.

    Adtribution links could be sent along with RSS feeds and help reunite content with its supporting advertisers.

    It would be simple to automate it, news aggregators and blogging software could be set up to automatically copy a set of associated live ad links, at the same time the content is copied and pasted.

    Adtribution links could be attached to any shareable, embeddable media. And they could be widgetized so that their ad content could be changed at any time.

    In some cases, sites that republish content might agree to run adtribution links in a permanent part of their page, so they aren't directly next to the content, for aesthetic or other reasons.

    Would something like this be enough to appease the newspaper industry and keep our news free?

    Will bloggers etc, be willing to republish text ads? Probably not. But they could get used to it. We can all get used to it.

    I remember the hue and cry in the early days of the Internet that users would not tolerate advertising on the Internet. We got used to it, and I predict we'll get used to many more online business models. Some will work.

    Here's a catchy slogan: "Adtribution supports the source." Maybe the media moguls will catch notice.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Silicon Valley Watcher:

    "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

    Support the Source: Creating a New Media Business Model and Keeping the Web Open

    Virtual cash could save newspapers | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

    Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

    Story continues...

    There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers?

    Virtual currencies are booming, they have become the best way for gaming sites to monetize their content, and it might also offer a way for news sites to earn revenues. That's what popped into my head when I recently interviewed Jason Bailey, CEO and co-founder of Super Rewards.

    This company today launched a virtual currency monetization platform to help primarily gaming sites earn money from their users. Some of Super Rewards customers are already making more than $1 million per month!

    Gamers can convert real money for virtual money and use it in a variety of ways to gain access to higher levels, gain status, etc. But many gamers don't have to use real money, they earn it through engaging with advertisers.

    The Super Rewards platform allows advertisers to offer virtual cash in exchange for a specific action, for example, signing up for Netflix, or applying for an insurance quote, etc.

    Mr Bailey says that Super Rewards handles the entire transaction. It chooses an advertiser from a database of about 4,000, the advertiser pays Super Rewards if an action is completed, Super Rewards buys the virtual cash from the site owner and gives it to the gamer, taking a small cut (of real money) for itself.

    "We've been able to help companies move out of their parent's garage and make a lot of money," says Mr Bailey. Many sites are making $20,000 to $30,000, and some are making more than $1 million per month. He says that this approach provides a much higher return than online advertising.

    Super Rewards is also targeting virtual worlds, and games found on social media sites.

    This got me thinking that this would be a great way to monetize news content. Online news is free but it isn't produced for free and newspapers, magazines and TV have so far failed to find an effective online business model.

    The recent Pew Project's 6th annual survey painted a bleak picture of the state of the news media:

    - online ad revenue to news websites now appears to be flattening; in newspapers it is declining..

    -nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone

    The problem is not that there isn't an audience for online news, there is, and it continues to reach record numbers, the problem is that online advertising can't generate enough revenue to support news reporting.

    The Pew survey soberly states: "It is now all but settled that advertising revenue—the model that financed journalism for the last century—will be inadequate to do so in this one."

    Charging for the news through micropayments is a possible solution but micropayments have a poor track record of success.

    Virtual currencies could offer the best of both worlds, providing a surrogate micropayments system, and an advertising model that pays more than CPM ads. Local businesses could provide wads of virtual currencies to online newspaper readers, either in exchange for some survey data, or as a complimentary service.

    - Local businesses could provide wads of virtual currencies to online newspaper readers, either in exchange for something such as survey data, or as a complimentary service to build goodwill.

    - Businesses could also provide virtual cash that could be associated with reading specific sections in a newspaper, say furniture sellers to the "Home" section. Best Buy could provide virtual cash for reading the gadgets pages, etc.

    - News sites could reward readers with virtual cash for contributing user generated content, such as a popular column, or for photos.

    - Virtual cash could be exchanged between blogs and other online publishers for republishing great content. And there are a myriad other creative ways virtual cash could be used in news media.

    The beauty is that the virtual cash would be purchased from the news media publishers with cold, hard cash by businesses, instead of purchasing online ads. And the virtual cash then powers an entire dynamic economy within a news site that helps produce great content and provide other services.

    Compare that to buying an online ad that just sits there, usually unnoticed on the side of the page.

    How do you set up a virtual currency system? "That's our next product, a tool that manages virtual currencies for web sites, so that you don't have to build it yourself," says Mr Bailey. That would be great for news media sites.

    It's these types of monetization technologies, borrowed from other publishers, in this case games publishers, that news media businesses would do well to investigate and adopt. What do they have to lose?

    By the way, what should be the name of a virtual currency in the news media world? My suggestion is "lede" it rhymes with seed and it is very specific to journalism, it denotes the first sentence of a news story.

    [This is a 2 lede article.]


    Please see:

    Why Small Payments Won’t Save Publishers « Clay Shirky

    Pew Survey: Online Journalists See Glass Half-Full As 2009 Expected Worst Ever In News Media

    25 ideas: Creating An Open-Source Business Model For Newspapers

    "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    Pew Survey: Online Journalists See Glass Half-Full As 2009 Expected Worst Ever In News Media

    The first survey of nearly 300 online journalists by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found "uneasy optimism" compared with colleagues in traditional media and concern that the Internet "is changing the fundamental values of journalism."

    They were also more likely to express confidence that a profitable online business model would be found. Most reported staff increases in their organizations.

    The survey results form part of the recently released Pew Project's 6th annual survey of the US news media, a depressing read. More than 180,000 words of it on 700 pages.

    I pulled out a few extracts:

    - Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years.

    - Growing by a third annually just two years ago, online ad revenue to news websites now appears to be flattening; in newspapers it is declining.

    -Some papers are in bankruptcy, and others have lost three-quarters of their value.

    -By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet.

    - In local television, news staffs, already too small to adequately cover their communities, are being cut at unprecedented rates; revenues fell by 7% in an election year—something unheard of—and ratings are now falling or are flat across the schedule. In network news, even the rare programs increasing their ratings are seeing revenues fall.

    - Perhaps least noticed yet most important, the audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating. The number of Americans who regularly go online for news, by one survey, jumped 19% in the last two years; in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%.

    - Yet it is now all but settled that advertising revenue—the model that financed journalism for the last century—will be inadequate to do so in this one.

    - In trying to reinvent the business, 2008 may have been a lost year, and 2009 threatens to be the same. Imagine someone about to begin physical therapy following a stroke, suddenly contracting a debilitating secondary illness.

    - The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem. It is a revenue problem—the decoupling, as we have described it before, of advertising from news.

    Several interesting special reports:

    -There is one on citizen-based media, including a university study of 363 citizen websites in 46 markets.

    -There is an essay by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel on the Lessons of the Election.

    -There is a backgrounder on the growing models of entrepreneurial journalism, new Web news organizations run by professional journalists outside the mainstream press.

    -There is a review of changes in the last year in public attitudes.

    Here are the direct links to the different sections of The State of the News Media 2009:

    Story continues...

    WidgetBucks: Fixing Online Advertising - A $9bn Opportunity


    [Matt Hulett- CEO of WidgetBucks]

    Online advertising is becoming less and less effective. Eric Clemons has some ideas on why this is happening, and there are many startups trying to fix the problem.

    And it is a very significant problem because it affects the business model for nearly all types of online publishers. If online advertising continues to fall in its effectiveness then there will less and less revenue support for content creators, such as newspapers and magazines.

    WidgetBucks, based in Seattle is one of those companies that are working on making Internet advertising more effective. It offers clients an advertising "container" or widget, that provides better contextual delivery of adverts, and a much richer user experience, which results in more effective advertising.

    This part of its business has already been extraordinarily effective, helping publishers gain higher revenues than through advertising networks such as Google AdSense, etc.

    "What we do is we optimize the ad networks so that they deliver ads that are more relevant to the site, and that can make a big difference for advertisers and the publishers," says Matt Hulett, CEO.

    The company is also working on making the content of its advertising "containers" more interesting and it is experimenting with combining ads with online games and other types of media that engages Internet users. "Engagement" is the term du jour these days as advertisers seek new formats that will work better than current ones.

    "It wasn't too long ago that people were pleased if 1 per cent of their ads got a click through, these days they are pleased if it is 0.1 per cent," says Mr Hulett.

    The widget approach to advertising means that WidgetBucks has an open window on the publisher's site and it can carry out A/B testing to optimize advertising delivery based on a large number of variables. It can then apply those lessons across other sites.

    "For example, on a consumer gadget site, we track what works and what doesn't and then we can feed the right types of ads onto all similar sites. That increases the effectiveness of the ads and the advertiser makes more sales, and the publisher gets more ads -- everybody benefits."

    Publishers love the service and there are about 26,000 publishers now using WidgetBucks.

    A $9 billion opportunity . . .

    But there is more, much more to be done, says Mr Hulett. The company is testing out a new service that addresses a massive $9 billion optimization opportunity.

    "About 30 per cent of online ads are not viewed because readers don't scroll down the page. Last year PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that advertisers are paying about $9 billion for adverts that are not seen," says Mr Hulett.

    WidgetBucks will release details in the second quarter on a new service that lets advertisers eliminate payment for unseen ads.

    But won't that hurt many online publishers such as newspapers? They'll be receiving billions of dollars less at a time when they are struggling to increase revenues.

    Mr Hulett says publishers will benefit because they will be able to charge more for the better performing ad positions. "And you can also eliminate cluttering up the page with lots of adverts, it'll be better for readers."

    - - -

    Foremski's Take:

    There is a well known maxim in the advertising business that 50 per cent of all advertising spending is wasted -- but you can't tell which 50 per cent.

    In online advertising you can use an arsenal of analytics technologies that will tell you which 50 per cent is being wasted. And as more and more advertising moves online, the potential cost savings for advertisers are enormous.

    That's why there is a tremendous amount of VC money, about $500 million by some estimates, being invested in startups such as WidgetBucks, that are focused on developing advertising optimization technologies. This will result in advertisers having ever finer control over the ad format, timing, and targeting of their adverts. This will increase the effectiveness of online advertising and reduce costs.

    However, I don't buy the argument that publishers will benefit to the same degree as advertisers. The cost savings have to come out of someone's pocket. For example, eliminating $9 billion in payments for unseen ads won't help publishers -- unless they move to a format where they only publish pages that are the size of one display screen. Even if that were to happen, there would still be plenty of ways of optimizing ads and saving money.

    The transition to online publishing means advertisers no longer have to pay for ineffective advertising. And that's why we now have a media industry going through a tremendously disruptive period.

    It was the 50 per cent of the "wasted" advertising spend that was supporting the media industry: newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, etc. It was helping to under-write the creation of content and support millions of jobs: journalists, editors, photographers, camera operators, delivery truck drivers, printers, producers, camera operators, administrators, etc.

    Better optimization of advertising will save billions of dollars for advertisers but it will mean even less money for online publishers, and for journalism as a whole.

    Without good journalism our society will be more vulnerable to disinformation and it will lessen its ability to make good decisions on very important subjects such as the economy, global warming, healthcare, education, foreign policy. Software engineers have a saying: garbage in, garbage out.   

    I believe we will eventually find a way to pay for quality journalism but we will have to go through a very troubling transition. That's not the fault of companies such as WidgetBucks, it's just the way things are, this is what the Internet enables.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Latest News From WidgetBucks

    WidgetBucks Blog:

    Three Reasons Why Amazon Should Buy Twitter

    Media Is Dead . . . Long Live The Media!

    All the chatter in the mediasphere about the death of newspapers (and TV) makes the subject of media seem so morbid. But, we have more media happening now than at anytime in humanity's existence.

    We have more media, in more formats, and at anytime we choose. We consume more media today than ever before. [It's just that we haven't yet figured out how to make money from it (but we will).]

    These are the best times to be a media or PR, imho.

    I spent 20 plus years working as a journalist in Silicon Valley, interviewing people about the work they were doing on a chip, software application, or one of many technologies. These days people are looking over my shoulder, and that of my colleagues in journalism and PR, looking at what we are doing with a plethora of media technologies.

    Silicon Valley has turned into a Media Valley, because so many of our large and startup companies are essentially media companies. They are technology-enabled-media-companies, they sell advertising around content. That's true for Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, and it is true for many smaller companies, Web 2.0 companies, etc. And the rise of social media is just a continuing part of this trend.

    As journalists or PR/corporate communications people, we are in the middle of a unique period in history. I think it is very likely that we will never, ever, experience this kind of disruption that is happening in our industries, in our lifetimes, again.

    It's not a pleasant time for many, because the chief quality of disruptive technologies are that they are disruptive. But, these are also incredibly creative opportunities.

    There are so many questions and so few answers, and that's great. Because we all get a chance to figure things out, we all get a chance to make mistakes and create the best practices that will become part of the future. We get to discover the new rules of story telling and communications. And that's what gets me out of bed.

    New York Times Defends AIG Bonuses?! - We Need A Return To Muckracking Journalism . . .

    Andrew Ross Sorkin, a reporter at the New York Times, took a contrarian position on Tuesday, writing an opinion piece that defended the multi-million dollar bonus payments by AIG.

    . . . If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be “breaking a bond,” Ms. Meyer says. “They are raising a whole new question about the trust and commitment organizations have to their employees.”

    . . .as unpalatable as it seems, taxpayers need to keep some of these brainiacs in their seats, if only to prevent them from turning against the company. In the end, we may actually be better off if they can figure out how to unwind these tricky investments.

    One problem with Mr Sorkin's argument is that many of the people receiving multi-million dollar job retention bonuses have already left AIG. And the other problem is that these people are being rewarded for creating a financial mess that is being paid for by tax payers.

    Why would the New York Times deliberately choose such an unpopular position? By mid-Tuesday afternoon it received more than 3,000 protest emails and more than 1500 comments.

    There is a great newspaper tradition of crusading journalism, muckraking . . . pointing out corruption, and bringing down the high and mighty. That's the kind of journalism that is missing these days.

    From: Muckraker - Wikipedia

    . . .Roosevelt saw benefits and disadvantages to muckraking activity. He declared that although these men did good work when they scraped up the ‘filth’ of America, "the man who did nothing else was certain to become a force of evil.”

    . . .these journalists, through their research and constant exposure of the wrongdoing by officials in American public life, gave fuel to protests that led to investigations and later on reform of not only Corporate America but the American Government. The Muckrakers’ journalistic efforts helped reform and regulate Wall Street and aspects of big businesses.

    I try to be a muckraking journalist when I can. I was a huge big critic of Yahoo's policy towards China, actions that led to a ten year prison sentence for a Chinese journalist when Yahoo revealed his identity.

    And Yahoo eventually pulled out of China. I'm not saying it was due to SVW muckraking . . . but, I am saying that we need more muckraking. Especially during these times when journalists are being blamed for not sounding the alarm on our broken economy.

    Why isn't the New York Times muckraking? Surely it's not waiting for a better opportunity?

    - - -

    Please see some SVW muckraking on Yahoo and China:

    Despicable behavior by Yahoo management - Shi Tao gets ten years

    Chinese Internet Rep Flees From UK Reporter

    11.07.06: 24 hours against censorship

    Dissidents within YHOO and GOOG will make ethical companies

    A View from Within on US Companies and China

    1.8.07: Google in China

    US Tech Firms Lame Excuse on China Business

    Chinese Dissident's Wife to Sue Yahoo

    Hong Kong Lawmaker Continues Attack on Yahoo over Journalist Jailing in China

    Yahoo gives $1m to fund research into "international values"

    Newswatch 8.6.07: Did Yahoo Lie about Chinese Dissent?

    Yahoo moves for dismissal of dissidents' case

    Newswatch 11.8.07: YHOO's China troubles

    Would You Work For Moral "Pygmies?" - The Costs Of Yahoo's Actions In China

    Where Is The Productivity From Social Media Technologies?

    I recently discovered Hank Williams who writes a blog titled "Why does everything suck?" It is well written and often makes some very good points. Mr Williams is a tech entrepreneur based in New York.

    I was particularly struck by his post from late September called "You Really Can't Get Something For Nothing." The financial world was collapsing at the time (it still is) and Mr Williams was berating our society for trying to make money from nothing much at all, from the rising value of homes, from shuffling money from column A to column B, etc.

    He says that China now produces things of value but the US now produces very little of value. It's a well worn analogy but it still is an apt analogy. He then takes the tech economy to task for creating little of productive value.

    In the tech economy, in the last five years we have produced very little that actually makes any of our lives better. Twitter is cute, but economically unproductive. Ditto Friendfeed. Ditto (fill in the blank with your favorite social media platform). These products are economically neutral. And that is not a good thing. To those of you that would argue with me on this point, I defy you to explain the real world economic value/impact of the social media revolution. How does it help increase the real world GDP even one little tiny bit. I dare you. I double dare you. You can’t do it. Because if all of it went away, the world would be the same the next day.

    He points out that prior technologies such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, email, etc, did create value, they did improve people's productivity.

    Social media is the first major computing revolution that as far as I can tell, has produced essentially nothing.

    He goes on to point out that social media "is perfectly fitting in a society where producing nothing has been in fashion for years. Mortgages without credit. Profit without product. Riches without risk."


    Is he right?

    Social media certainly seems like it doesn't produce anything of value, that it doesn't help productivity. I spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, etc, and I seem to be spending more time there every day.

    For my job, however, I do see value and I do see productivity. I use social media to let people know about my work -- it's a very effective distribution channel. I also get to know my readers better. When I was working at the Financial Times we had to set up surveys and panels to figure out who was reading what and what they thought of it.

    Social media it also a very good research tool, I can find sources, and I can find information about topics I am writing about faster than before. It does make my work more productive.

    But is this true for other professions? Does social media make you more productive at what you do? Is there value in social media.? Or is Mr Williams right when he writes, "if all of it [social media] went away, the world would be the same the next day."

    25 ideas: Creating An Open-Source Business Model For Newspapers

    (Building from yesterday's post...)

    I'm just one of many people coming up with business ideas for saving newspapers. There are a lot of posts being published on this subject.

    Someone should collect all the advice because it's turning into some kind of open source business model. And the beauty of this approach is that only a few newspapers need to have the courage to try new ideas--if any one of them succeeds then the rest can piggyback. They win and we win.

    Here are my 25 ideas on how newspapers might be able to survive and become innovative media businesses:

    1: Focus on original content, do not rewrite wire stories or press releases. If newspapers start charging for content people are more likely pay for content they can't get anywhere else.

    2: Focus on hyper-local coverage, newspapers should "own" their regional beat because they have the best contacts and the best understanding of local companies and issues. For example, SF Chronicle or the San Jose Mercury should be breaking all the top Apple or Google stories.

    3: Don't run foreign bureaus unless you are the New York Times or the like, or are publishing a unique perspective relevant to your community.

    4: Be a regular and visible part of your local communities by making sure journalists get out of the office.

    5: Become an active teacher of media literacy and also media production in your local communities. Help teach citizen journalists how to be great journalists, editors, photographers, videographers, etc. Teach how to be effective and ethical.

    6: Celebrate the best citizen journalists/bloggers in your communities, publish them on your platform.

    7: Become involved in local events, organize conferences. There is a lot of money in conferences. The newspaper becomes a vehicle for drawing people to the conferences.

    8: Don't let advertising networks sell your advertising. They take a huge cut for serving ads and you lose the customer connection. I often see newspapers running Google AdSense on their front page and at the bottom of the ads there is the message: "If you'd like to advertise on this site click here." That click takes prospective customers to Google and not to the newspaper. Newspapers should always own their customer relationship.

    9: Develop a hybrid content strategy for search engines and news aggregators that takes advantage of the distribution power of the Internet without giving away all the content.

    10: Adopt a culture of a "news organization" rather than a "newspaper." Paper or electron, it shouldn't matter how the news is delivered.

    11: Offer some way for readers to pay. Every newspaper has a group of fiercely loyal readers, some more than others, but there is no way for them to pay if they want to read their newspaper online. Many people like the positive ecological aspect of reading online and are proud they are saving resources--and many would be willing to pay for this vastly improved product yet the newspapers don't offer any way to collect this easy revenue. One way might be witha PBS-style volunteer membership package? With discounts among local businesses.

    12: Become the host for all important discussions about local issues and politics. Moderate the discussions to ensure civil discourse. Nothing kills discussions faster than offensive comments made by anonymous people.

    13: Newspaper journalists need new publishing skills in video, audio, images, and should have some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. Being able to type is not enough.

    14: Help raise money for schools and other essential local services. Show you are part of the community.

    15: Create a safe online experience, free from phishing, malware, and adverts for scam services.

    16: Create a search site to search local resources and businesses.

    17: Create a news aggregation site that provides your readers with access to news and other articles available elsewhere.

    18: Each newspaper section should provide a search engine specific to its topic and region: Business: Company information and financial services. Home: Search for builders, furniture, decorators. Food: Search for recipes, local restaurants, etc.

    19: Offer free classified adverts online and also have a free section in print. You can charge for a premium listing that offers better visibility.

    20: Create informational pages to help people in your communities with common tasks such as how to get a business license. Where to find your car if it has been towed. Information for people that have recently moved into the area. In different languages. Have your web people create pages that are mashups of available online data but presented in a more accessible form, such as mapping police reports onto regional maps. School information, etc.

    21: Hire additional salespeople. It is is a different sales environment today and it requires a fresh approach. Salespeople used to selling full page or half-page print ads are not the going to be able to transition easily.

    22: Host web sites for important community groups in your region for free. You can run advertising on them and the groups will benefit from having an easy way to publish online.

    23: Create a way of allowing readers to share in the ownership of the newspaper, or somehow give them a role in what the newspaper should be doing to become more useful to its community.

    24: Create a directory of local businesses with space for user comments. Offer premium listings for a fee that also shows the business is supporting the newspaper, with a sticker. Yellow pages is a huge local business that the newspapers could easily own.

    25: What are your ideas for helping newspapers transition into the online world?

    - - -

    Please see:

    - Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage

    - "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    - Bye-Bye Free News - Murdoch Joins The Pay Debate

    - Saturday Post: The Inevitable Rise Of Cockroach Media . . .

    - Pandora's Box 1981: The Online Newspaper Experiment

    Some Ideas On Reinventing Newspapers

    Newspapers would like to be paid for their online content because they can't survive on online advertising alone.

    Pay-for-news might work but only if newspapers have original content, "you can only read it here." That's what I try to do with SVW, I try to have original interviews, scoops, original angles -- stories that you can only read here.

    But a lot of newspapers don't have much original content. They use a lot of wire copy or simply rewrite the wire copy; they publish news stories that look very much the same as other news stories; there is little competition to get scoops.

    If a newspaper can generate a lot of "you can only read it here" content then there is a halfway decent chance that it can find enough people to pay for it. And there is a lot of potentially original content to be had by focusing on hyper-local coverage.

    But a lot of newspapers have journalists that sit at a desk all day long and rarely interact with their local communities.

    Some newspapers have recently come up with the concept of MoJos -- mobile journalists equipped with notebooks, cell phone modems, and cameras. Isn't that what journalists used to do, go out into their communities and hunt down stories, hangout in bars, cafes, look for original stories, scoops?

    Newspapers should own their local stories. For example, San Jose Mercury or the San Francisco Chronicle should "own" Silicon Valley stories. They should be breaking all the best Google stories, Oracle, Apple, etc. That would be something people would pay for.

    Here are some ideas on how newspapers could survive and become viable businesses:

    - Focus on original content, do not rewrite wire stories or press releases--people are more likely pay for content they can't get anywhere else.

    - Focus on hyper-local coverage, newspapers should "own" their regional beat because they have the best contacts and the best understanding of local companies and issues.

    - Don't run foreign bureaus unless you are the New York Times or the like, or are publishing a unique perspective relevant to your community.

    - Be a regular and visible part of your local communities by getting out of the office and into those communities.

    - Become an active teacher of media literacy and also media production in your local communities. Help teach citizen journalists how to be great journalists, editors, photographers, videographers, etc. Teach how to be effective and ethical.

    - Celebrate the best citizen journalists/bloggers in your communities, publish them on your platform.

    - Become involved in local events, organize conferences. There is a ton of money in conferences.

    - Don't let advertising networks sell your advertising. They take a huge cut for serving ads and you lose the customer connection. Newspapers should always own their customer relationship.

    - Develop a hybrid content strategy for search engines and news aggregators that takes advantage of the distribution power of the Internet without giving away all the content.

    - Adopt a culture of a "news organization" rather than a "newspaper." Paper or electron, it shouldn't matter how the news is distributed.

    - Online readers that want to pay, have no way of paying for the the news except by buying a newspaper subscription! PBS does quite well with membership packages that include discounts from local businesses, while keeping broadcasts freely available. That's a model that could be offered by newspapers.

    - Become the host for all important discussions about local issues and politics. Moderate the discussions to ensure civil discourse. Nothing kills discussions faster than offensive comments made by anonymous people.

    - Newspaper journalists need new publishing skills in video, audio, images, and should have some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. Being able to type is not enough.

    - Help raise money for schools and other essential local services. Show you are part of the community.

    - Create a safe online experience, free from phishing, malware, and adverts for scam services.

    - And there are lots of other ideas...

    There are many people coming up with great suggestions to help newspapers survive. There is probably no other industry that has so many people willing and eager to help out with ideas. For example: - How to mend what isn't really broken! - Jan Simmonds

    Newspapers have a unique opportunity to reinvent themselves. In some cases it means rediscovering what they used to do, and what they used to know: original content sells. You can only read it here.

    The other opportunity is to innovate and create new forms of media that have never ever been created. There is a tremendous amount of innovation happening in media.

    I've said it many times: Silicon Valley has become a Media Valley. Google publishes pages of content with advertising. So does Yahoo, Ebay, and many others. Facebook is a media company, and so are thousands of startups in the "Web 2.0" space.

    Why aren't newspapers part of this innovative media industry?

    - - -

    Please see:

    - Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage

    - "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    - Bye-Bye Free News - Murdoch Joins The Pay Debate

    - Saturday Post: The Inevitable Rise Of Cockroach Media . . .

    - Pandora's Box 1981: The Online Newspaper Experiment

    Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage

    As newspapers lose revenues from their print business they are forced to rely on revenues from their online business. But their costs of running a news organization are far higher than their online revenues.

    Print advertising was once able to cover the costs of running a newspaper and do it profitably. But online advertising cannot cover the costs of running a news organization--even when online readership is larger than paper readership and growing.

    This problem of more readers, yet declining revenues, is frustrating the newspaper industry. Lately, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion within the newspaper industry on this issue and the emerging consensus is that readers will have to pay for the news. It might be micropayments, it might be a monthly subscription, but the era of free news is going to go away.

    The Wall Street Journal is a good example of a business model that appears to be working--it offers some free news but it charges a subscription for most of its news. And this seems to be the type of business model with the most support among newspaper publishers.

    But who will go first?

    The Wall Street Journal is a specialist newspaper without much competition. Daily newspapers have a broad range of news content and there is a lot of overlap in their news stories. Any metropolitan daily newspaper will have many of the same stories as any other metropolitan daily.

    They all use a tremendous amount of wire copy from Associated Press, Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, etc, even if the newswire stories are from their locality. This was fine when newspapers monopolized their regions because you couldn't get that news in any other way.

    Now, thanks (or no thanks) to the Internet, newspapers thousands of miles from each other compete for the same readers. A columnist in Chicago now gets to compete against a columnist in New York or Philadelphia. A movie reviewer in San Diego now competes against a movie reviewer in Toronto.

    Most newspapers have very low brand loyalty. More than 60 per cent of newspapers' web site traffic comes from search engines and news aggregators -- and not from people going directly to their site.

    This is the first mover disadvantage. Lock up your content behind a paywall and your readers will find free news stories elsewhere.

    There is a last mover advantage. The last newspaper to charge for content wins, at which point they'll also have a huge readership collected from all the other newspapers.

    This is why pay-for-news won't work.

    So what is the solution? How can newspapers transition to becoming viable news organizations that make money through paper or electron?

    It's a situation best described by the Maine saying: "You can't get there from here." It's a phrase that doesn't seem make any sense but it makes perfect sense in this context: The mainstream media world cannot transition to the newstream media world of online revenues. Your online revenues cannot support the costs of your news organization. You can't get there from here.

    This is why the Internet is a disruptive technology. And the key point about a disruptive technology is that it disrupts. It disrupts individual companies and entire industries. Even though you can clearly see the train wreck way ahead of you, you can't get out of the way, you cannot downsize quickly enough, you cannot change tracks quickly enough--you slam into it.

    The newspaper industry clearly sees the train wreck of its print business model way ahead. It will slam straight into it.

    - - -

    Please see:

    - "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    - Bye-Bye Free News - Murdoch Joins The Pay Debate

    - Saturday Post: The Inevitable Rise Of Cockroach Media . . .

    - Pandora's Box 1981: The Online Newspaper Experiment

    "Google Devalues Everything It Touches" - Wall Street Journal Chief

    Charlie Rose today started a series on the future of journalism.

    A conversation about the future of newspapers with Walter Isaacson of "Time," Robert Thomson of "Wall Street Journal" and Mort Zuckerman of "The New York Daily News"

    It was a fascinating discussion about micropayments, subscription models, and how newspapers can adapt to the challenge of low online ad revenues. And produced an excellent transcript.

    Robert Thomson, Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal, said many interesting things that showed a deeper understanding of the issues than the other panelists.

    Mr Thomson said, "Google devalues everything it touches. Google is great for Google but it's terrible for content providers." He said that Google doesn't distinguish between the quality of the content around which it serves up ads, it is concerned with quantity rather than quality.

    Walter Isaacson agreed. "Also, what Google does is it allows ads to be spread all over the Web. You can go to Google ad servers and put ads on any site there is."

    Mort Zuckerman didn't think that micropayments for news articles would work. He said "We're ready to be the second or third newspaper that does that."

    Mrt Zuckerman placed his hope in a new printing press. "You get a premium from advertisers if you have color."

    Charlie Rose said,"But you're saying maybe the only thing that your new business model has in it is a better printing press and a cheaper printing press?"

    Mr Thomson laughed off camera. Mr Zuckerman said, "Well, it's not -- yes, well, it's more efficient. We don't like to call it cheaper."

    Mr Thomson supported Mr Zuckerman's belief that newspapers wouldn't go away. "I think Mort is on to something. Dead trees are definitely not dead. . . the idea of spending 30 minutes with any medium, with -- and the only multitasking you're doing is drinking a cup of coffee, that does make newspapers unique. And actually if you talk to ad people, they're starting to recognize that."

    Mr Isaacson said nice things about citizen journalists and bloggers. "We're getting citizen journalists, bloggers, that are adding immensely to the wealth of information that we have."

    He said that citizen journalists should be paid. "I think what you are trying to do is incent good, decent people who want to cover their town planning meeting or become citizen journalists or write blogs that are actually worth reading. You want them to be able to do it not just as an ego kick or as a hobby or as a civic contribution, but have people who have to put food on their table be able to afford to be citizen journalists, afford to be good bloggers."

    The most important point was said by Mr Thomson: "Every newspaper is of itself a great brand, and to have brand value on the Web is to have a great advantage."

    Mr Thomson has a better understanding of the issues because he spent several years as Editor of The Times newspaper in London. British newspapers have been able to adapt to, and exploit the Internet, in ways that US newspapers are only now learning.

    [I used to work with Mr Thomson when he was Editor of the Financial Times in the US. And I met with him on a recent trip to New York. He said that on The Times, they had a team of people making sure that the news stories could be easily indexed by Google, but US newspapers are only just beginning to do the same.]

    - - -

    Please see: has an excellent transcript here:

    And I begin with you, Walter. Tell me how bad is it, from all the surveys that you took in putting this piece together, and what's a modest proposal?

    WALTER ISAACSON, ASPEN INST.: I think it's pretty bad, because I think we've realized after the fourth quarter of last year in which Web advertising for newspapers started to decline, that Web advertising wasn't going to continue to shoot up and form a business model where you could keep giving away newspapers for free online and hope that Web advertising would support it.

    Poynter Online - Romenesko

    Here is the video of the Charlie Rose segment.

    Bye-Bye Free News - Murdoch Joins The Pay Debate

    Murdoch Exhorts to Charge for Content - Media Buyer Planner

    Media emperor Rupert Murdoch is advocating charging an online subscription fee for The New York Times, much like the model currently in use by his own paper, the Wall Street Journal.

    Last year I came to the conclusion that the only way to save good journalism is to charge money for it. Online advertising simply cannot cover the costs of journalists, editors, foreign bureaus, photographers, videographers, production editors, sub-editors, admins, web production staff, software engineers, media engineers, offices, pension plans, admins, electricity, travel, healthcare, IT infrastructure . . . and lunches. In recent weeks a lot of my leading figures in the media have come to the same conclusion.

    (Please see: FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News)

    News is not a commodity, it just seems that way because it has been offered for free. News releases (press releases or social media releases) are a commodity, and freely available because they aren't "news stories," they are one-sided communications from corporations or their agents.

    There is a growing realization that the right business model for newspapers is to charge money for the news. There is a lot of debate about how to do it, if it should be micro-payments, or if it should be a subscription for a package of news, or some other method.

    The most important thing is that there is a broad realization that the free news business model is not viable. Whether we like it or not, some of the news, at least from quality news organizations, will no longer be free.

    I often hear the argument that people have gotten used to free news and so they won't pay for it, they'll get their news from bloggers, from other sources on the Internet. That's fine, that's their choice, people can try their luck looking at free news on the Internet and figuring out if they trust the source. If they have time on their hands, they can research if a news story is true, or has been "hacked," and if it can be trusted.

    I believe that there will be enough people that will want to save time and go straight to a trusted source and pay for the news. That's the beauty of the Internet, it is not "either/or" it's "and."

    Some people will remember the early days of the Internet and how the first online advertising created a controversy -- people said Internet users wouldn't accept being subjected to advertising. Well, people did accept advertising. People will accept paying for online news.

    It is worth pointing out, that like in those the early days of the Internet, these are still the early days of the Internet. We'll get used to these changes and plenty more.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Brill's secret plan to save the New York Times and journalism itself

    A business model that is based uniquely on expensive editorial quality but that derives revenue only from advertisers who only indirectly use or pay for that quality is a business model that cannot work. There is simply no example, not one – in print, on line, in television – of quality content offered for free ever resulting in a viable business.

    Let's talk about the economics of great journalism

    Media innovation cannot be dependent on advertisers, they will not take the risk. Innovation must find a foothold with people who demand that great news be available.

    Can the Press Fix Itself? | American Journalism Review

    Brill is absolutely convinced of the soundness of his opinion — publishers have to raise their self-esteem, treasure what they do and get righteous about charging for it on the Internet. It's not the answer to how the press could have fixed itself a decade ago. For Brill, it's the answer to what needs to be done today.

    New York Times, Other Newspapers Should Charge for Online News Content - John A. Farrell (

    This is capitalism, folks. Nothing worth something is free. A free press is worth 15 cents a day.

    Cloud Journalism and the Fate of Beats

    Jobs -- including jobs in journalism -- just aren't what they used to be. Earlier this week, consultant Robert Patterson observed after reviewing trends in unemployment statistics that "the idea of a 'job' as a full-time object that can support a person or even a family, is disappearing."

    Printing The NYT Costs Twice As Much As Sending Every Subscriber A Free Kindle

    Not that it's anything we think the New York Times Company should do, but we thought it was worth pointing out that it costs the Times about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as it would cost to send each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle instead.

    New York Times (NYT): Subscriptions Are A Great Idea!

    Two weeks ago, we detailed our plan to save the New York Times (NYT):

       * 40% cost cuts by 2010

       * Increased print subscription price

       * Implement online subscription fee

    For the latter, we were roundly blasted by socialist digerati, who regard subscriptions as heresy.

    Well, we're glad to see there is intelligent life where it counts--at the New York Times. Editor Bill Keller says the paper is committed to getting consumers to pay for its content and will explore the idea of online subscriptions. We only hope Bill's wisdom finds its way upstairs!

    FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

    Saturday Post: The Inevitable Rise Of Cockroach Media . . .

    CES in Las Vegas was made more tolerable because of the good company of fellow journalist blogger Paul Mooney. One late night we were discussing the media industry, an occasional favorite topic of mine.


    We were discussing how the economic situation was going to accelerate the broad disruptive trend within the media industry.

    Less advertising would lead to a faster rate of job losses, and lower revenues for most, if not all media companies, and that also includes many newer media companies, Gawker Media for example. Simply put, it's not a good time to be in media--mainstream or newstream.

    More recently, the Wall Street Journal cut 25 newsroom jobs.

    Here is part of a memo to staff from Robert Thomson, Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal:

    It is obvious to you all that we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic downturn. We are also in the midst of an unprecedented increase in our readership, in print and online, but a precipitous decline in print advertising revenue has forced a close examination of our structures and of our costs.

    It points to a curious anomaly within news organizations, that readership is often rising but revenues are falling.

    And the reason is that advertising is less expensive online but news creation costs remain the same. The cost of being in the news business isn't being covered by online advertising revenues.

    Media companies such as Google and Yahoo can sell online advertising at low rates and cover their costs but Wall Street Journal and other news organizations cannot survive without shrinking their productive resources, which can create a downward spiral of less content, and less revenue.

    When journalists lose their jobs it's tough because they also lose their publishing platform. They lose their byline, they disappear from public view, and that makes it more difficult finding a job. And even when better economic times return, the majority of journalism jobs won't ever return.

    In Las Vegas, Paul Mooney and I were thinking that we are in a better position than many of our colleagues in the media because we don't have far to fall. As long as we can keep the lights on, and maintain an Internet connection, we can still keep publishing during bad times, and worsening times. If you lose your job at a news organization you lose your public persona--a journalist that isn't publishing isn't.

    We joked that we represent a new type of media: cockroach media. Paul is from New York where cockroaches can be formidable in their ability to survive the harshest environments. He says, "I've given cockroaches some of my best hits and they still manage to crawl away."

    Cockroach media will survive this economic downturn a lot better than old and new media companies. And cockroach media should do well once the inevitable upturn comes around.

    - - -

    Cockroach media:

    Paul Mooney Living, Linking and Learning

    Is Media Harming The Economy?

    It's a question that I ask myself and I've seen other people ask it: Is the media coverage of the economy harming the economy?

    By which I mean, the negative stories about the economy, the personal stories of families and individuals dealing with loss and the unpleasant results of this tough economy.

    The health of an economy seems influenced by culture, positive outlook, and reality. And media plays a key role in helping to shape at least two of those components. Therefore, should media be more positive in its coverage of the economy, would that make a difference?

    Let me know.


    In the interests of transparency here are some of my "holy-shit" posts about the economy:

    - Japan's King Kong And Godzilla Scale of Industry Destruction

    Saturday Post: Globalization Comes To A Screeching Halt . . .

    Saturday Post: Are These The Four Horsemen Of The Financial Apocalypse?

    Beyond The Sub-Prime Bubble: The Other Seven Deadly Bubbles . . .

    The Size of Derivatives Bubble = $190K Per Person on Planet

    Here is the start of a new series: BoomWatch on companies that are booming despite the gloom:

    - Tibco: Wrapping Metal Around Software

    - Boom Not Gloom: IT Search Firm Splunk

    Update: How Bad Is It? :: Swampland -

    Ted Nelson, Fish, And Media

    I was looking for a quote by Ted Nelson, the iconic (not graphic) computer engineer and maverick thinker, and enjoyed the trip hunting for the quote. Mr Nelson is known by many for his work on the Xanadu project, which was a form of highly advanced hypertext linking technology predating the web.

    Sometimes Mr Nelson is described in these terms:

    While the World Wide Web may owe much of its inspiration to Project Xanadu, Nelson himself is an opponent of the Web, the Internet, XML, and all embedded markup.

    Here is a small taste of Mr Nelson and his sharp thinking:

    No one's life has yet been simplified by a computer.

    - - -

    In 1974, computers were oppressive devices in far-off air conditioned places. Now you can be oppressed by computers in your own living room.

    - - -

    Why are video games so much better designed than office software? Because people who design video games love to play video games. People who design office software look forward to doing something else on the weekend.

    - - -

    I see almost no difference between the Macintosh and the PC. The Macintosh interaction is much better tuned, but it's the same conceptual structure, the PARC User Interface (PUI) with ordinary hierarchical directories now called "folders".

    Calling a hierarchical director a "folder" doesn't change its nature any more than calling a prison guard a "counselor".  (Zimbardo's prison experiments showed that prison-guard behavior is structural, and so are the effects of hierarchical directories.)

    - - -

    Strange-- nobody believes that God created computers. Therefore we are under no divine obligation to use them according to tradition. We are, in principle, free to start over. But most people do not dare think about it. I say it's high time.

    I agree with a lot of Mr Nelson's thinking.

    The mission statement of Project Xanadu describes a technology that we definitely need:


    Since 1960, we have fought for a world of deep electronic documents-- with side-by-side intercomparison and frictionless re-use of copyrighted material.

    We have an exact and simple structure. The Xanadu model handles automatic version management and rights management through deep connection.

    Today's popular software simulates paper. The World Wide Web (another imitation of paper) trivializes our original hypertext model with one-way ever-breaking links and no management of version or contents.

    Here are some key concepts:


    "How can computer documents– shown interactively on screens, stored on disk, transmitted electronically– improve on paper?" Our answer was: "Keep every quotation connected to its original source."


    An author may legally use this system to quote from other Web pages on a new Web page, without contact the owner, without paying, and without violating copyright.

    It works like this: The materials appear on the Web page, but the transquoter does not deliver the materials at all, even though they look that way on the resulting page. There are several good reasons for this. One is that it avoids the copyright problem-- because the republisher has not made or sent a copy.



    The on-line copyright problem may be resolvable by a simple, sweeping permission method. This proposed system, which anyone may use, allows broad re-use of materials in exchange for automatic tracking of ownership. Payment goes to the original publisher and credit to the original author. Nothing is misquoted, nothing is out of context (since the original context is immediately available), and users are not spied upon.

    Here is more...

    . . .technology, here as elsewhere, masks an ocean of possibilities frozen into a few systems of convention.

    Inside the software, it's all completely arbitrary. Such "technologies" as Email, Microsoft Windows and the World Wide Web were designed by people who thought those things were exactly what we needed. So-called "ICTs"-- "Information and Communication Technologies," like these-- did not drop from the skies or the brow of Zeus. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain! Today's electronic documents were explicitly designed according to technical traditions and tekkie mindset. People, not computers, are forcing hierarchy on us, and perhaps other properties you may not want.

    Things could be very different.

    I wish they were. Mr Nelson reminds us that we don't need to accept the conventions of computer systems design, web service design, or any design at all.

    Computer technology provides us with ways of thinking that are limitless. There's not much of that around at the moment but maybe people just need to be reminded that they can.

    BTW, the quote I was looking for was: "We live in media as fish live in water."

    Here are is a video from his visit to Google in January 2007 and some links to start you off in a further exploration of Mr Nelson's work:

    Video - Transclusion: Fixing Electronic Literature

    Transliterature, A Humanist Design

    Ted Nelson home page

    Doug Engelbart's Colloquium at Stanford | Session 9: Ted Nelson

    An evening with Ted Nelson: visionary prerequisites for a vision - O'Reilly ONLamp Blog

    Here is a Wired feature: The Curse of Xanadu

    Pandora's Box 1981: The Online Newspaper Experiment

    It's a Pandora's box that the newspaper business probably wishes it shouldn't have opened.

    Story continues...

    Searching For a Viable Media Business Model: French Government Aid For Newspapers

    Elke Heiss pointed me to this: The Associated Press: Sarkozy offers new help for French print media

    The French state will help provide free newspaper subscriptions to teenagers for their 18th birthdays, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday. But the bigger gift is for France's ailing print media.

    Sarkozy also announced a ninefold rise in the state's support for newspaper deliveries and a doubling of its annual print advertising outlay amid a swelling industry crisis.

    Sarkozy argued in a speech to publishers that the measures are needed because the global financial crisis has compounded woes for a sector already suffering from falling ad revenues and subscriptions.

    In a speech to industry leaders, Sarkozy said it was legitimate for the state to consider the print media's economic situation.

    "It is indeed its responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists," he said.

    This is interesting news but I'm wondering why does it have to be print focused? Surely it shouldn't matter if the news is delivered via paper or electrons--the point is to support news organizations that are producing high quality media.

    It's a shame that the free market cannot come up with a business model that distinguishes between low and high quality media. State intervention is welcome during tough times but it could be problematic if the state controls the viability of media (although the BBC is doing well).

    OK, I am biased, because I see the world through a media lens, but I believe that the single most important challenge that faces this Internet economy is how to develop a viable business model that supports a professional media class that produces high quality media.

    It is essential to society.

    If we lose our New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, BBC, etc, we lose our "fourth estate." We lose the people that that watch our politicians, business tycoons, and government policies. More importantly, we lose the people that investigate corruption, that check on the conduct of politicians, that know how to deal with spin.

    An army of bloggers won't and can't replace our media professionals - the journalists, editors, producers, sub-editors, photographers, videographers, etc. Our media is the way we figure out solutions to important problems--and the better it is, the better we are.

    Media is the way society thinks about important issues. If we have crap media we have crap solutions.

    Software engineers have a phrase for this: Garbage in--Garbage out.

    We are heading for a world of crap media. Buckle your belts.

    Tip #1 For Any Type Of Personal Publishing

    This is my #1 tip if you plan to publish anything online, as text, images, audio, video, or any combination of content ...

    Story continues...

    GOOG Rejects Direct Investment In Failing Newspaper Industry

    Fortune magazine columnist Adam Lashinsky has a very interesting interview with GOOG CEO Eric Schmidt.

    Google's business is very clearly making it very difficult for the newspaper industry to transition to an online business model because GOOG can sell advertising very cheaply, it doesn't have to employ legions of editors, journalists, photographers, etc, it uses servers and algorithms to publish content.

    GOOG a new media company competing with old media in an online environment where it has by far the most efficient economic model. This is an issue I've been following very closely the past four years - the old media can't transition to the new media economy - "you can't get there from here."

    The Fortune interview is set in the context of the dire straits for the newspaper industry:

    Eric Schmidt wishes Google could save newspapers - Jan. 7, 2009

    ...the Christian Science Monitor eliminates its print edition, Tribune Co. declares bankruptcy, Detroit's two dailies slash home delivery to three days a week...

    Mr Schmidt says there isn't much that Google can do to help the newspaper industry. He is asked if Google would purchase newspapers (it has enough cash to buy nearly all the publicly traded newspaper companies.)

    Mr Schmidt replies:

    The good news is we could purchase them. We have the cash. But I don't think our purchasing a newspaper would solve the business problems. It would help solidify the ownership structure, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem in the business.

    That's certainly true - why buy a business that isn't viable?

    What about a cash investment similar to Microsoft's investment in Apple, Mr Lashinsky asks?

    There are no current plans to do that. The necessary criteria to get us to make that decision are not currently in place.

    What about an investment from, the philanthropic organization?

    We didn't want to co-mingle philanthropy with business. We are in the advertising business.

    It should be pointed out that is a for-profit organization and expects to make profitable philanthropic investments. Again, the newspaper business is not profitable, so that rules that out.

    The best Mr Schmidt can offer is to point to some fringe media projects:

    What's an alternative way to support the public good? One is Pro Publica [the non-profit investigative journalism organization headed by former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger and funded by, among others, the Sandler Foundation].

    What if newspapers die?

    To me this presents a real tragedy in the sense that journalism is a central part of democracy. And if it can't be funded because of these business problems, then that's a real loss in terms of voices and diversity. And I don't think bloggers make up the difference. The historic model of investigative journalists in any industry is something that is very fundamental. So the question is, what can you do about this? And a fair statement is, we're still looking for the right answer.

    Foremski's Take:

    Mr Schmidt is crying crocodile tears. There is a tremendous amount that Google could do today for the newspaper industry. Here are some suggestions:

    -Pay for the use of newspaper stories in Google News. Monetize Google news and send the revenues to the news organizations so that they can reinvest the money and create a virtuous cycle. Sending traffic to newspaper sites is not good enough--the newspapers can't monetize the traffic to any real extent.

    -Create subscription services for news products that can help news organizations monetize their work.

    If Google is sincere in believing that news organizations perform a vital role in society and democracy then it should actively help find a way of supporting this extremely important resource. It has the brains, and it has the means, it just needs the will.

    I don't see any sign that Mr Schmidt and Google has any desire to solve what is one of the most important issues on the Internet today: how to create a viable online business model for news organizations. Without this we face a dire future as a global society, imho.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Google Is Really Bad At Monetizing Content Yet CEO Schmidt Lectures Newspapers

    - FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

    GOOG Founders Could Buy All US Newspapers and Still Have $12bn

    The Financial Crisis and its Impact on Journalism

    - What Happens if the Old Media Dies Before the New Media Learns to Walk?

    Shrinking Mass Media Masses At Googleplex

    Silicon Valley = Media Valley: The MashUp of technology and Media

    Google is a Media Company

    FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

    Since leaving the Financial Times more than four years ago I've been able to observe the demise of the media industry from an excellent vantage point.

    Coming from "old" world and then becoming an online publisher I quickly saw that the economics of the new media world would not be able to support mainstream media business models. There is no way that online advertising can pay for a professional media organization with its army of journalists, editors, sub-editors, production editors, photographers, administrators, etc.

    The reason for the demise is because the cost of online advertising is far lower than for traditional advertising. The cost of online advertising set by biggest companies such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. They place ads around other peoples content, or around their own content which is "harvested" from the Internet, or placed around their services such as search, and email. It is a highly automated system that produces content through computers and algorithms, rather than people.

    However, If you are a traditional media company that produces its content using journalists, editors, sub-editors, photographers, etc, then you have a problem because online ad rates are not going to cover your operational costs. And as ad buyers have grown more comfortable with online advertising, and long term contracts began to expire, the move to online advertising has accelerated.

    This has left media companies in a very tough spot. As their traditional sources of revenue have been disappearing their new sources of revenue are unable to cover their costs. And the current economic crisis is magnifying this trend to an ever greater degree.

    The media death spiral has become steeper and faster...

    This is a huge problem because as a society, we need media professionals -- citizen journalists cannot fill the breach.

    We need journalists, editors, sub-editors, photographers, etc, to help maintain high quality standards, to prevent misinformation, and to counter the spin of corporations and governments. We need these vital services as a society, so that we can make decisions about important things, such as the economy, the environment, healthcare, education, war.

    The quality of our decisions as a society is directly related to the quality of our information, to the quality of our media. Bad information leads to bad decisions. That's why figuring out a viable business model that can support professional media has become an extremely important issue.

    Since online advertising revenues can only support companies such as Google and a host of others, that "create" their content with computers and algorithms, traditional media companies such as newspapers will have to move to a subscription model.

    No future in free...

    News is not free, and it is not a commodity. News has been made available for free, and it has been made into a commodity but that is not its future because there is no future in that model. You will have to pay for it.

    That means the end of the news aggregators. That means the end to arguments that the news aggregators send high volumes of traffic to the online publishers. What is the use of more traffic when it cannot be monetized to support the work of the news organizations?

    The only "news" that will remain free will be press releases--but there is little value in that type of unfiltered "news" source.

    In the future you will have to pay for news and other high quality content. Online advertising, affiliate marketing revenues, and lead generation income will moderate the subscription fees but not eliminate them. There is no other solution.

    Shrinking Mass Media Masses At Googleplex

    Monday evening I was at Google's holiday party for the media. It's one of my favorite events because I get to hang out with the Google comms teams and also catch up with my colleagues in the media. It's nice and relaxing.

    But every year the number of press people attending gets smaller. The holiday party used to be held in a much larger space but moved to a smaller room a couple of years ago. At the rate the mass media is becoming micro-media Google can clean out a large broom closet and hold next year's party there.

    It is extraordinary what is happening in the media industry, especially with the recent news of the Tribune bankruptcy filing and New York Times borrowing a quarter of a billion dollars.

    I first spotted major trouble for the newspaper business when I left the Financial Times in mid 2004. I quickly saw that the economics of the online media business model would not be able to support the cost structure of newspaper companies.

    Online revenues would not be able to support newspaper companies with all their legacy costs, pension plans, office buildings, trucks, printing presses, layers of admin, journalists, editors, sub-editors, web masters, IT departments, HR, security, lawyers, ad sales people, etc. I could see that there was no way that online publishing would generate enough money to support media businesses with such large costs of operation.

    I started writing posts around the theme "you can't get there from here." It's a wonderful Yankee expression that makes perfect sense when applied to the established media industry.

    There is no way that the media industry can transition to the online world without totally reinventing itself. And that will happen too slowly. That's why new media companies are better positioned, such as the Huffington Post, because they are built from the ground up on the current economics of the online publishing market. It's never easy to cut back to grow. It's always easier if you are what I call a "new rules enterprise," you don't have legacy thinking and a legacy cost structure to deal with.

    So what do we do? We need professional journalists to sort out the information we need as a society, otherwise we are headed for a damaging period of disinformation.

    Media is how society thinks, it is how we collectively decide on important issues. Without a professional media class we are left with an army of citizen journalists who don't have the same access, don't have the same experience dealing with information "spin," and who don't have to get up every day and be professional journalists.

    Creating a business model to be able to pay for the professional journalism we need is a number one priority for our society, it is even more important than sorting out the current financial crisis, IMHO.

    Stork to visit the Kranes . . .

    Anyway, it was good to catch up with people at the Googleplex. The Google comms team is a little upset at being called arrogant by some sectors of the media but that's not news. The only Google person that I saw looking down at most of the media in room was Brian O'Shaughnessy, but that's because he's 6'6" :-)

    I found out the stork is making a third delivery at the David Krane household very soon (congrats!). And I also met the new head of Google communications and public affairs, a British lady, Rachel Whetstone. She used to work in London running Google's European communications team, she is also the former political secretary to Michael Howard, a senior British politician.

    I googled Michael Howard and found this on the Daily Telegraph site:

    Convicted drug dealer 'bribed former Home Secretary Michael Howard for early release'

    A convicted drug dealer claimed that he bribed former Home Secretary Michael Howard £400,000 to get an early release from prison, a court has heard.

    By Caroline Gammell

    Last Updated: 8:32PM GMT 31 Oct 2008

    Working at Google should be a lot less problematic than working with British politicians and the skeletons in their closets...

    ReadWriteWeb Launches Jobwire to Report on New Hires

    Marshall Kirkpatrick has been working for the last three months on a new publishing project that launches Tuesday morning - ReadWriteWeb Jobwire.

    Marshall told me about this project when we were in Japan together at the end of May as guests of collaborative software company Lunarr.

    RWW Jobwire consists of stories about new senior hires at a variety of companies. There are a lot of press releases announcing senior exec appointments but they are rarely covered by current media publications. RWW can quickly become the lead media brand for these types of stories. Even in a down economy people still get hired.

    Newer Media Cuts Jobs...

    Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo, a "human powered search site" has cut ten percent of his staff in response to market conditions "much worse than I thought."

    However, ten percent staff cuts seems like the normal culling that takes place in Silicon Valley companies...

    Mr Calacanis writes in an email newsletter that part of the cost savings will be achieved by having his writers work from home. He says this is where writers like to work in their pajamas:

    One thing I've learned two or three times now is that writers, in large part, like to work from home in their pajamas with a big cup of coffee and their loved ones by their side. I know this to be true because most of my e-mails to you guys come when I'm sitting in the garden with my laptop, a cup of joe, and Taurus and Fondue curled up at my feet.

    Mr Calacanis has had prior success with Silicon Alley Reporter and Weblogs, Inc.

    Nick Denton at Gawker moved very quickly to make his cuts. I wonder if there will be any staff cuts at newer media companies such as GigaOm, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, or VentureBeat?

    The Financial Crisis and its Impact on Journalism

    Foremski's Take: Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI) are directly impacted by the financial crisis. Their journalists are part of the real-time financial information systems that are sold to traders and analysts on Wall Street and elsewhere.

    It is not known yet how many seats for the Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters terminals have been lost as a result of the financial crisis but they must be substantial.

    Bloomberg's web site reports:

    . . . more than 2,300 reporters and editors in 135 bureaus, Bloomberg News publishes more than 5,000 stories on an average day syndicating to over 400 newspapers worldwide, with a combined circulation of 73 million people.

    Thomson Reuters has already been cutting journalist jobs as a result of its merger earlier this year. In May it said it wanted to cut 140 editorial jobs out of about 2400. Reuters Media Solutions:

    Over 2,400 seasoned Reuters journalists report from 196 bureaus across the globe, bringing you fast, accurate, objective and comprehensive coverage of important international and domestic news in multiple languages.

    The impact of the financial crisis on the two organizations is certain to lead to cost cuts in editorial, especially since the editorial side of the business was subsidized by the financial services side of the business.

    The financial crisis is just the latest blow to journalism. Analysts have painted a bleak picture for ad supported newspaper and television companies in 2009.

    The UK Guardian reports:

    'Horror show' year ahead for media firms

    The worsening state of the global economy will make 2009 a "horror show" for advertising-dependent newspaper and television companies, with some analysts predicting that businesses may have to wait until 2011 to see positive ad growth.

    GOOG Founders Could Buy All US Newspapers and Still Have $12bn

    Valleywag reports that entire US newspaper business is valued at $20 billion. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are worth about $16 billion each.

    Foremski's Take: US newspapers didn't realize GOOG is a media company until it was too late. Google was able to scrape its content virtually for free, from newspapers and other web sites, and sell advertising around that content. Newspapers spend huge amounts of money to create their content.

    Newspapers, and other media companies, have allowed Google to commoditize content, and retain the value in the aggregation and distribution.

    Yet the technology for aggregation and distribution is a commodity -- content is not a commodity.

    Once the content creators and owners realize that simple fact, then we might have a turnaround in the media sector. If not, then the media sector is next for a bailout--it is too important to fail.

    What Happens if the Old Media Dies Before the New Media Learns to Walk?

    For nearly four years I've been warning about huge changes in the media world and why the old media can't make it into the new media world.

    There is an American expression that I love to use: "You can't get there from here." It seemingly doesn't make sense but it makes perfect sense in this context.

    You can't get there from here. When I left the Financial Times four years ago to become the first journalist to leave a top newspaper job to become a "journalist blogger" I could see the economic model of the old world, and the new economics of new media.

    I could see that pageviews and clicks could barely support me--a chap with a laptop and a cell phone. How could the economics of the new world support the legacy cost structure of the old, with its office buildings, printing presses, pension plans, etc?

    I could also see that the transition of the media's business model would be tremendously disruptive. And that this disruption would accelerate over the the next few years, as indeed has happened.

    I asked then, and I ask now: What happens if the old media dies before the new media learns to walk?

    What will happen to journalism and to the hundreds of years of best practices created since newspapers were born from Guthenberg's moveable type machine, if old media can't transition to the online Movable Type of the new media world?

    And it won't be able to transition. Because the economics of new media -- pageviews and clicks -- can't support it.

    New media is defined by a machine-based economic model. It is cheaper to plug in a bank of servers and run software to publish content than it is to hire editors, manage journalists, and carry all the other employee related expenses of healthcare, pensions, offices, etc.

    Google is machine-based media. It uses servers and software to harvest and publish content and then sell advertising around it.

    Google and other machine-based media companies such as Yahoo, AOL, etc can cover their costs by selling ads cheaply. And that's what sets the price of online advertising--machine-based media companies.

    Media companies that require people to generate their content can't compete. Their costs are far higher than machine-based media companies--yet they have to sell their online advertising at the same rates.

    That's why "You can't get there from here."

    What happens if the old media dies before the new media learns to walk?

    It won't be pretty. It'll be ugly and we'll have to relearn our best practices. And there will be considerable damage done to society.

    But it is not just media companies that are at the center of this disruptive tempest. Many new startup companies are in the cross hairs too.

    (Continues here...)

    New Media Increasingly Looks Like Old Media Says Techmeme Founder

    I'm a big fan of Techmeme, the news aggregator run by Gabe Rivera. Gabe has been following old and new media for several years and has created an algorithm that does a great job in filtering up the top stories of the day in the mediasphere. Instead of using customized RSS news aggregators, many people in the tech industry use Techmeme to guide their daily news reading.

    I ran into Gabe last week at an event at the St. Regis in San Francisco and asked him about the state of the blogosphere. I pointed out that there seem to be few "real" bloggers left. Original bloggers such as GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, TechCrunch, etc now all seem to be just online news sites and they read like an "old media" news site.

    Gabe agreed, he said:"Techcrunch and the others used to link to each other and now they don't--they only link if they have to."

    That's very much like the old media, which hated to link or give credit to any rival news organization. I remember at the Financial Times, we would always try to "stand up" a story ourselves based on our contacts and would only give credit where credit was due when we couldn't write the story based on our information.

    Gabe said that in this way, new media sites were very much acting like old media. And with fewer links, that means he has had to continually tweak his algorithm. "I get around the problem by looking in many places for links or references to news stories, in places you might not normally look."

    Gabe is very secretive about how his algorithm does the filtering because he doesn't want others gaming his system. A story on Techmeme can generate a lot of traffic for a news site.

    He says that there are new bloggers coming online and they have audiences as large as the A-list bloggers had in 2005, and they do link to each other. They tend to be in specialist software engineering circles. But that's where blogging first grew to prominence, amongst the software engineers.

    Maybe blogging, that highly personal style of news delivery, is coming back to its roots. I'm thinking of starting a blog...

    Finland Funnels $1.3m into Innovation Journalism Research

    Innovation journalism is a concept that has been popularized by David Nordfors, who leads the Innovation Journalism program at Stanford university. The subject just received a big boost from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation with the award of a 900,000 euro ($1.31 million) research grant to a Finnish research consortium that will work with the innovation journalism program at Stanford.

    If you have about a minute, here is David Nordfors explaining, "What is innovation journalism?"

    More details from David Nordfors: The Innovation Journalism Blog: Finnish Innovation Journalism Research Gets 900.000 Euro

    The main aim of the new research project (acronym as Ginjo) is to enlarge and deeper the knowledge of global innovation journalism, and also develop new working methods and tools for news media. Case studies will concentrate on topics such as “green tech” and eldercare innovations.

    Public Relations is Such a Sensitive Profession . . .

    PR is such sensitive profession. Anytime anyone criticizes any aspect of the practice of public relations the industry pays lots of attention along with a lot of mea culpa. If journalists did the same we'd never get any work done.

    Jennifer Leggio over at ZDNet has a good account of the latest PR bashing incident: Bloggers vs. PR - the broken record continues to skip | Feeds |

    It seems to me that the PR industry takes on criticism in two ways:

    1 - it agrees with the criticism and pledges to do better accompanied by donning of hair shirts and self-flailing blog posts that go on and on for pages.

    2 - It dismisses the criticism as massively ill informed and the ravings of an idiot..

    It is usually 90 per cent number 1.

    Whenever I come across such behavior in a friend I know that something is up, that there is a self-esteem issue at work, maybe, and that there must be something deeper going on. . .

    The deeper stuff is that things have changed in the PR industry, and they've changed forever. Yet sometimes things look the same as before. And that can be a confusing time.

    Some of my friends in the PR industry get upset with me for saying that things have changed. But my saying that things have changed didn't cause it, I'm just saying what I see.

    Wily E CoyoteIt is similar to when I became a journalist "blogger" 4 years ago. My friends at the Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News, SF Chronicle, Forbes, Fortune, Reuters, AP, etc would sometimes shoot me cold looks as if, as a "blogger," I was responsible for making their lives a misery, because they now have work longer hours, and live under the threat of job cuts, and they can't go home at 5pm every day, anymore.

    The trends in media have nothing to do with me, I'm swept up in the dynamics of this industry the same way as everyone else--I'm trying to deal with the disruption.

    What I understood four years ago was: the business model for media had changed forever and it wouldn't return to the old ways, and that is the future for PR too.

    The same forces that are dramatically changing, and remaking the media industry, will do the same for the PR industry. Yet that change isn't very visible yet, it is masked. This is because PR is making money with traditional services plus making money selling "new media/social media" services, these are boom times for PR. Change only happens when it hurts to do things the old way, that's why the media industry is changing.

    It sometimes seems as if the PR industry is Wiley Coyote chasing the Roadrunner--all is well as long as no one looks down and notices the road has gone, and there is nothing there but gravity and a distant canyon floor.

    - - -

    Please see:

    Chris Anderson's PR Blacklist Backlash - The Long Tail of Bad PR

    Raining on the PR industry's parade...

    The Fallacy of Internet Ad Personlization...and the Bleak Future for Social Network Ads

    exec_0001_russ.jpgI spent part of my afternoon catching up with advertising network of ad networks, Adify, which was sold to Cox earlier this year for $300m. That was a super smart move for Cox and it gives Adify a large media company as a partner that can leverage its technology across borders and across industries.

    Adify has a great front-end for controlling and placing ad inventory by advertisers and publishers. And what isn't appreciated, a great back-end for handling invoices, 1099s and all the other daily paperwork and reports that needs to be dealt with.

    Adify enables publishers to run their own vertical ad networks and to recruit other sites to their ad network, and it takes a cut of the ad revenue. This year it is on target to move as much as $80m in ads, next year it plans to double that number.

    exec_0006_joelle.jpg I met with Russ Fradin, president and Joelle Gropper Kaufman, VP marketing. Most of my questions were on the trends in online advertising--a key interest of mine since I'm an online publisher but also because of my interest in what will be the new business models for online content.

    Here are some key notes from our conversation:

    - If you are doing brand advertising, large ads are more effective than small ones even though focus groups say people prefer small ads. It's about creating an immersive experience.

    - There is a shortage of quality content. Ad prices are good for sites or ad networks that offer quality content.

    - Personalization of advertising on the web isn't happening. Ad agencies want to make large buys. I pointed out that an ad agency might buy a 20m page view site but it really just needs to reach 10,000 people in that 20m. Why not make buys that target that 10,000 people? If ad agencies were to do that, it might mean dealing with dozens of seperate buys and dealing with dozens of invoices and reports and other paperwork. That won't happen. Personalization in any form isn't happening, ad agencies are still buying broad demographic profiles. It will never happen, ad personalization is a myth that has been talked about since the mid-1990s and it continues to be unrealistic.

    - Social networks are offering low quality ad inventory and there is a lot of it out there. It is cheap because people are doing things rather than consuming content, they aren't interested or paying attention to the ads. Adify believes that this will always be the case, Facebook, MySpace etc will continue to offer huge amounts of low quality advertising inventory.

    Adify says it has signed up 40 new networks in the past quarter and will soon announce its first overseas deal.

    - - -

    Please see:

    News Analysis: Cox Acquires Adify For $300m Cash - Will Others Follow?

    The future battle between ad networks and publishers… | Tom Foremski: IMHO |

    Google is a Media Company

    The recent New York Times article "Is Google a Media Company?" reports on Google's recent launch of Knol, a Wikipedia-like service launched last month.

    While Knol is only three weeks old and still relatively obscure, it has already rekindled fears among some media companies that Google is increasingly becoming a competitor. They foresee Google’s becoming a powerful rival that not only owns a growing number of content properties, including YouTube, the top online video site, and Blogger, a leading blogging service, but also holds the keys to directing users around the Web.

    “If in fact a Google property is taking money away from Google’s partners, that is a real problem,” said Wenda Harris Millard, the co-chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

    A Google spokesperson, Gabriel Stricker says, "We are not interested in owning or creating content." This is a strange statement to make since the article points out that Google owns YouTube and much more.

    Foremski's Take:

    For the past four years I've been saying that Google, Yahoo and many other large Internet companies such as AOL, and eBay are media companies. They publish pages of content with advertising around it.

    The fact of owning or not owning the content is a red herring. Either way, Google publishes pages of content with advertising around it. How is that not a media company?

    GOOG is not a technology company. What technology can you buy from Google? I can buy a database from Oracle--that's a technology company. I can buy microprocessors from Intel--that's a technology company. What technology can you buy from Google?

    Google is a technology-enabled media company. It won't create its own content. It mostly scrapes its content from the Internet, or collects it from users of Youtube, etc, and sells advertising around it. How it gets its content is not important, it is still a media company.

    Why does Google insist it isn't a media company? Because large media companies such as the New York Times outsource a large part of their online advertising to Google.

    Would the New York Times outsource its advertising to another media company such as Tribune or Gannett? Certainly not.

    But Google can get away with it provided it is not viewed as a media company but as a technology company.

    Again, I'll ask, what technology can you buy from Google? Google publishes pages of content with advertising around it. How is that not a media company?

    How to Make Money with Video Webisodes

    Churchill Club SF Earlier this week the Churchill Club hosted a very interesting panel in San Francisco with some of the most successful producers of webisodes — episodic online videos.

    Webisodes are the best way to attract sponsors and advertisers for video content rather than one-off content. The panelists gave out lots of great tips on how to integrate brands into video content, the length of videos, and some do's and don'ts.

    Brent Friedman also talked about the Gemini Division, one of the most ambitious webisode projects created so far.

    The panelists left to right:

    Nathan Coyle, Co-head, Digital, Creative Artists Agency Brent Friedman, Executive Producer and Head Writer, Electric Farm Entertainment/Gemini Division Jordan Hoffner, Head of Content Partnerships, YouTube Ziv Navoth, VP of Marketing and Business Development, Bebo - Moderator: Frank Rose (not in photo).

    Here is an 8 minute extract talking about brands and how to, and how not to, integrate them into webisodes.

    Here is the full one hour version of the talk — it's packed with great content.

    Rave reviews find out why! - Order the The Amazon Kindle Electronic Book Reader!

    You need video services! Creation, Distribution, Attention. Contact Aron Pruiett at SF Media Collective- 415 533 4487 - Here is a demo reel.

    Silicon Valley Watcher Consulting services - call Tom at 415 336 7547

    SEC Likely to Change Fair Disclosure Rules - No Need for Press Releases Through Wire Services?

    Hat tip to Adam Zand: Utterz - AdamZand's Discussion

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) posted a transcript of a speech in which it recommended "that the Commission issue an interpretive release to provide additional guidance and greater certainty on how companies can use their web sites to provide information to investors in compliance with the federal securities laws..."

    Four main topics will be addressed:

    • When information posted on a company web site is “public” for purposes of the applicability of Regulation FD;
    • Company liability for information on company web sites – including previously posted information, third-party hyperlinks, summary information and the content of interactive web sites;
    • The types of controls and procedures advisable with respect to such information; and
    • The format of information presented on a company web site, with the focus on readability, not printability.

    Adam Zand speculates that press releases distributed through wire services might not be required. He says that the SEC's "interpretive release" probably won't be available for about a week or more.

    Demise of Wire services? SEC on Web disclosure

    Please see the full text of the SEC speech at the end of this post.

    Foremski's Take:

    If a company's web site is RSS enabled and it releases financial information and any other material information through that web site, that should satisfy FD requirements. This is because financial analysts and investors can opt-in and subscribe to that information through RSS news readers, or choose to have that information emailed as soon as it is published.

    This form of distribution is much broader than through a wire service such as BusinessWire or PRNewswire. Distribution through RSS and email takes advantage of the full breadth of the Internet and does not require an intermediary such as a wire service. Yahoo Finance and Google News would provide additional free distribution services in those cases where investors are not subscribed to a company's financial information.

    Companies will be able to save considerable amounts of money in bypassing those wire services, where a single release can cost at least $1200 and often more.

    The SEC might mandate a transition period in which RSS and email distribution runs in parallel with wire service distribution.

    For many years wire services have made considerable revenues from carrying FD information because companies were scared that they might face SEC penalties if they didn't disclose material information in the right manner. FD has suffered from not having clear rules around what is considered best practices.

    The SEC appears ready to change or more clearly define those rules to reflect the broad distribution offered by the Internet and a company's web sites.

    - - -

    It's interesting that the SEC wants company web sites to focus on "readability, not printability." This speech is anything but readable:

    Story continues...

    Blogger Showdown from Brainstorm: Kara Loves Rupert

    One of the best panels at the recent Fortune Brainstorm conference was the "Blogger Showdown" panel at the Monday evening dinner. Adam Lashinsky does a great job moderating the panel. This is the only video of the panel.

    On stage is Robert Scoble, Kara Swisher and Om Malik. The panel soon gets off to a raucaus start.

    Hear Kara saying that she's loving being a Rupert Murdoch employee!

    Hear Om repeating my mantra that Silicon Valley has turned into media valley!

    Hear Robert Scoble saying how his mistakes are fixed by his readers!

    Hear Adam Lashinsky say how Fortune avoids mistakes by getting it right the first time!

    See Fortune report the "Blogger Showdown" and issue a correction!

    Download video - iPod/PSP


    BTW these are all media professionals, Robert Scoble majored in journalism. Where are the bloggers, the citizen journalists?

    More Brainstorm coverage:
    - Joichi Ito - One of the Smartest Guys in the Room - a "Venture Communist"

    - Internet Father Vint Cerf Says Telcos Harming National Interest
    - Intuit Looking into User Generated Unemployment - the Reward of Social Media?

    - - -

    Rave reviews find out why! - Order the The Amazon Kindle Electronic Book Reader!

    You need video services! Creation, Distribution, Attention. Contact Aron Pruiett at SF Media Collective- 415 533 4487 - Here is a demo reel.

    Silicon Valley Watcher Consulting services - call Tom at 415 336 7547

    Fortune Brainstorm - All the Action is Off-Podium

    I'm at Fortune's exclusive invite-only Brainstorm conference in Half Moon Bay, California. The content of the panels is really dull . On the breaks everyone is complaining about it. There is little involvement from the audience (except Vint Cerf!) and the moderators talk way too much.

    All the action is off-podium. I've been chatting with Vint Cerf,