Main

January 30, 2008

Recognition

I'm at work right now and have NPR playing in the background. In about 15 minutes on the Diane Rehm show today, Roy Harris, senior editor of The Economist Group's CFO magazine, is going to talk about the history of the Pulitzer Prizes. You can listen here.

Now awards season in the U.S. is still many months away, but the promo to this segment got me thinking. At what point will journalism online achieve the same revered status as newspaper journalism? To wit: A few years ago, the website that I'd founded was nominated for a Webby for best online magazine - and it blew my socks right off. But when I told many of my journalist friends, I had to explain over and over what, exactly, a Webby was. Kind of took the thrill out of announcing our nomination.

This April, the Pulitzer nominated finalists will named. But of the 14 categories for journalism, there is still no mention of digital work. Yes, I realize that the Pulitzers are meant to recognize work done by newspapers. While I know that a lot of truly fantastic public interest journalism is being done at newspapers, it's important to note that a growing number of those newspaper stories are being published on the web first or only as a digital package. Have a look at Not Just a Number at the Okland Tribune or the House of Lies package at the Miami Herald.

There are ONA awards, OPA awards, and awards from Editor & Publisher. But they don't hold the same kind of prestige as the Pulitzers.

I'm wondering at what point our attitudes will begin to really change. Plenty of jurnos are still miffed when their byline appears online only and not in print - even though in the online edition of many newspapers, a story is likely to be read by tens of thousands more people around the world.

Why no really big prize for digital journalism? Are we afraid of rewarding the kind of work that will inevitably supplant traditional print journalism? Or are we reluctant to acknowledge that it's already happened?

January 22, 2008

Lessons from O'Shea/ the LA Times

By now, we've all read about the departure of James O'Shea from the LA Times' newsroom. The news has sparked a series of New York Times articles and a whole bunch of chatter around the blogosphere.

In a memo to his newsroom (leaked to LA Observed), O'Shea makes a strong statement about the role of reporters and editors in ensuring the financial viability of their publications:

One thing I want put on the record, though, is that I disagree completely with the way that this company allocates resources to its newsrooms, not just here but at Tribune newspapers all around the country. That system is at the core of my disagreements with David [Hiller, publisher]. I think the current system relies too heavily on voodoo economics and not enough on the creativity and resourcefulness of journalists. We journalists have our faults, but we also have a lot to offer. Too often we’ve been dismissed as budgetary adolescents who can’t be trusted to conserve our resources. That is wrong. Journalists and not accountants should seize responsibility for the financial health of our newspapers so journalists can make decisions about the size of our staffs and how much news remains in our papers and web sites.

While I agree wholeheartedly with what O'Shea says - "journalists and not accountants should seize responsibility for the financial health of our newspapers" - I don't agree with his assertion that most journalists are already doing that in their newsrooms.

This is one of the key issues facing the industry, and the one most quickly dismissed whenever I bring it up at meetings. Every reporter should have a good, solid understanding of the economic realities of publishing. Editors should be shown that not every overseas reporting assignment has to cost thousands of dollars - and it doesn't necessarily have to break the bank to set up a multimedia desk for the first time.

Too often, folks in newsrooms don't do the research to figure these things out on their own. Or they don't take enough advantage of the many listservs available (ONA has a fantastic one, and the conversation has included many discussions about how to produce high-quality multimedia stories on the cheap).

Does your newsroom offer the following? If not, I'd venture to say that you're not taking advantage of available resources and not really preparing for the next six months:

* A wiki or intranet, where all reporters have the ability to post and share resources

* Optional weekly training sessions, where a staff member shares her/his skills with everyone else (esp. digital media)

* A transparent guide to how and where the company is spending its money

* The ability for all reporters, not just the folks who've been at the newsroom since Carter was in office, to attend conferences

* Regular teambuilding events for the entire staff - editorial, business, press

 

January 17, 2008

Time Warner to Charge for Data Downloads...

I suppose it was only a matter of time. This week, Apple announced a new movie downloading service. YouTorrent launched. And now, at least one of the big cable companies has finally thought of a pricing structure that charges customers for how much data they download.

From the AP:

The company, the second-largest cable provider in the United States, will start a trial in Beaumont, Texas, in which it will sell new Internet customers tiered levels of service based on how much data they download per month, rather than the usual fixed-price packages with unlimited downloads.
Company spokesman Alex Dudley said the trial was aimed at improving the network performance by making it more costly for heavy users of large downloads. Dudley said that a small group of super-heavy users of downloads, around 5 percent of the customer base, can account for up to 50 percent of network capacity.
Dudley said he did not know what the pricing tiers would be nor the download limits. He said the heavy users were likely using the network to download large amounts of video, most likely in high definition.

The trial looks set to begin second quarter this year.

As much as we think that space is unlimited online, it's easy to forget that publishers will always be limited to what equipment news consumers have and the pipes that deliver content to them.

Here's a thought: 2007 was the year of debating who should own mainstream media and why. Will 2008 begin a real, frank discussion of who should own and ultimately control the pipes? Look at what happened when Google tried to enter the cell phone fray...

 

January 07, 2008

Microsoft Unveils iCal, Evite, MySpace, Google and More!

I was more than disappointed with last night's keynote, Bill Gates talking about what's ahead for the world's largest software provider. We were treated to an all-star tribute video montage of what his last day as CEO might look like in June, when he officially steps down. Gates and hip hop mogul Jay Z rapped for us, Matthew McConaughey Bill to the gym and counted reps for him. And the ubiquitous celeb BFF Bono told Bill once again that moving up levels in Guitar Hero does not a real rock star make.

All entertaining, but I was less than thrilled with what Microsoft was showing us. There will be new adds to WindowsLive and Vista that will offer a calendar service that looks a hell of a lot like Apple's iCal, a web-based events sharing service that came straight off of Evite and an updated music search/ share site that mimics iTunes but works mainly with the Zune, Microsoft's mp3 device competitor.

Gates did, however, announce a new partnership between NBC and Silverlight for the 2008 Olympics. Silverlight will be the official web provider for NBC's Olympics coverage. More on Silverlight here. Here's the press release. Highlights of the deal include:

  • 2,200 hours of live event video coverage, with more than 20
    simultaneous live video streams at peak times
  • More than 3,000 hours of on-demand video content including full-event
    replays, highlights, features, interviews and encore packages
  • An "enhanced playback mode" powered by Silverlight that gives users the
    choice of a high-quality full screen viewing experience that is as good
    or better than anything on the Internet today
  • Unique metadata overlays powered by Silverlight that enable fans to
    have access not only to high quality video, but also to the wealth of
    related content including results, statistics, comprehensive bios,
    rules and expert analysis from NBC's Olympic digital media team in
    Beijing
  • Live video alerts so fans can stay connected to the events and teams
    they care most about
  • Social networking features that enable fans to share aspects of their
    Olympic experience with friends

But what about Hulu.com, the joint video streaming service from NBCU and News Corp? Why two totally independent sites with different infrastructures and user interfaces? This doesn't immediately make sense to me... But there's no question that the success of the Silverlight/ NBCU project will impact how we broadcast breaking news coverage online.

December 27, 2007

Tracking New Web 2.0 Apps

Very few days go by when someone doesn't email me notice of a new web tool to try. Most of them either launch too early and don't quite work, or they are simply a clone of another tool that I already use and enjoy.

Here's a roundup of four applications that have (mostly) worked the bugs out. And they all might inform what we're doing in journalism - see explanations below.

 

The site purports to "search for and compare the opinion of any person or organization in the world on any issue." Sure enough, this morning, just after news broke about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, whereistand had changed its homepage to the topic "Should the U.S. take military action in Pakistan" and offered 16 opinions from people and publications such as the Washington Post, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Shaukat Aziz, the New York Post and others.

The site republishes reports from newspapers and other sources - content is fed by registered members who ultimately become editors, bloggers and researchers. It's a sort of Wikipedia-USAToday.com interactive chart mashup of sorts. I don't know that I feel totally comfortable trusting the content from this site because I don't know how or if it is being verified. On the other hand, whereistand does exactly what many Internet users crave - it aggregates, sorts and delivers analysis with little effort.

The About page is still blank, and I've not talked to anyone at the company directly, so I don't know who these folks are, unfortunately.

Here's what a journalist can learn: whereistand aggregates and sorts information in a way that's easy to use. While I think there's much work yet to be done...the ability to search just selected individuals would be nice...the basic site is a great example of how to deliver news to users in a friendly, helpful way. I could see local newspapers following this model: content from the paper/ wires would be fed automatically into a databank, and users could also contribute their own thoughts as part of a running commentary. Think of the applications for local elections, community issues, politics, sports, education and so on!

 

This is another clever site offering a way for users to evaluate public discourse using various data visualizations. The maps are incredibly detailed and full of data - it's really, really impressive. Think Many Eyes on serious steroids.

Not sure exactly where the data comes from - but there's a full explanation of how it works here. Founders are Peter Baldwin and David Price.

Adapting it for journalism: There's a reason Jim Brady and his team at WaPo.com are so damn popular. Databases, databases, databases. So much of the work they're lauded for is built on databases that users can explore - and more importantly, gain lots of contextual information.

 

So it's finally here: face recognition software packaged in a search engine. From the site: "Mugr can identify faces in your photos and match them to people. In other words, you can search for people using photos taken with your camera, phone, or webcam." You can search on the site or by sending an email - which means that users with camera-enabled cell phones can snap a shot of someone, upload or email it, and get back info on who the person is.

The site is currently in private beta (which means that you gotta wait or find someone who's already a member and can invite you). And so far, the database isn't robust enough to identify random strangers... it's being pitched more as a social networking site.

What this means for journalism: Image-recognition search is just on the horizon, and that will certainly help reporters cast the same kind of CSI spell on their targets as the tormented, justice-seeking Horatio Caine.

 

This is a free tool that allows users to search, what else, government documents. Not as robust as Lexis, and not as easy to use as SearchSystems.net, but it's free. Content comes via FOIA, and registered citizen reviewers can "review and comment on documents, adding their insights and expertise to the work of the national nonprofit organizations which are partnering on this project."

I did a simple search on Iowa and came up with 228 documents, including one from the Department of the Interior called "Rejected Endangered Species Act Recommendations" and another from the Dept. of Health and Human Services called "Determine Policy of Funding Pregnancy Resource Centers."

Clicking on the second document, I only get the page where "Iowa" appears. It looks to be the resume or CV of someone named Jamie Zanotti, who's a director of some department...

Many of the documents are either redacted in part or in full - still haven't found a gem. On the other hand, the site is new and administrators are relying on registered users to help vet and tag all of the docs. Maybe check back in 3-6 months to see what's there?

What it means for you: News orgs who aggregate and parse government information so that the average user can find and understand it are going to be wildly successful. The Democrat and Chronicle (upstate New York) is a fantastic example of how to do this right: have a look at RocDocs.

 

November 20, 2007

Promo Alert: How to select a Content Management System

So one of the projects that's kept me so busy the past few weeks is a white paper that we've just finished. It's a 70-page report detailing how to select a content management system, how to self-assess your newsroom's technology and what options are out there, regardless of your size or budget. Included is a comprehensive evaulation of 14 vendors using 56 criteria and access to a mega-list of more than 100 cms products.

I partnered with Adam Glenn and Dorian Benkoil to research and write the paper, and we're finally finished. You can download an excerpt here (PDF). If you'd like to know more or to purchase a copy, details are on the last page...

October 12, 2007

ONA 2007 Conference

Very excited about the ONA Conference that kicks off next week in Toronto! I planned this year's Business Track sessions and helped organize the Super Panel, and I'm really excited to see what folks like Katharine Fong (Mercury News), Erik Schwartz (foneshow), Brian Gruber (Fora.tv), Wendy Warren (Philadelphia Daily News and TheNextMayor.com), Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion and Edelman), Stuart MacDonald (founded Expedia Canada), Ian Clarke (Thoof), Anil Dash (SixApart), Dorian Benkoil (consultant),
Hosam Elkhodary (The Web Analytics Co. Ltd.) have to say. There are many, many others and more than 700 who will be in attendance.

If you plan to be at ONA, please let me know. While we're there, John Havens (BlogTalk Radio) will be recording and streaming live interviews starting next Thursday. You can call in to ask questions (347) 215-7814, too. You can listen to a 30-minute chat about some of the things we've planned for the conference here. Ongoing live coverage will be available here, and you can also subscribe via RSS.

October 08, 2007

Finally, a News Feed App for Facebook...

Watch this week for a new Facebook app - brought to you by washingtonpost.com. Set to launch is a news aggregator/ feed application that will deliver both washingtonpost.com news headlines and links and news feeds from other sources. Once downloaded, you'll select topic preferences and be set to go...

WaPo launched another Facebook app, Compass, not too long ago. It asks a handful of questions and then reveals where on the political spectrum you fall and shares that with everyone in your network. This app didn't win over Facebook users - most complained that it was too generalized and that the results didn't reflect actual political profiles.

I've seen what the new news feed app looks like, and I think WaPo is on to something very smart. Especially because feeds won't be restricted just to washingtonpost.com stories. The project isn't directly monetized, but think of implications it has for the biz side of journalism. This app will be the first true news feed for Facebook, and with 34 million users, it has the possibility to significantly increase worldwide traffic to the WaPo site...

Why'd it take so long for a news org to launch something like this?

September 19, 2007

The Case for Paid Content

Earlier this week, the New York Times ended its paid TimesSelect service - the one that had previously offered columnist content and other features at a premium. I was a subscriber - and didn't have a problem paying $7.95 a month to get access to columnists and archives.

The reason given by NYTimes.com general manager Vivian Schiller had to do with the potential for targeted online advertising, according to a story in the paper today. New traffic was directed via search engines to the site, and once users arrived they didn't have access to stories. Banking on the idea that large numbers of daily visitors, even if they're not loyal site readers, would increase ad impressions, it appears to be more lucrative for the Times to focus on site advertising than on building a paid subscriber base.

And so we're back to square one. Content supported mainly through advertisers.

This is a losing proposition. Yes, I know that publishing anything, even a blog, costs money - and that money has to come from somewhere.

From my vantage point, newspapers made a mistake years ago, sanitizing and stripping away all sense of personality from storytelling. In the name of objectivity, we created now-ubiquitous templates for long-form, boring news. We awarded our colleagues who managed to craft a pithy analogy in their nut graphs and gave out special kudos to the reporter who could write a single sentence answering who, what, where, when, why and how...authorities said. If those first few paragraphs of a story were interesting and told us everything we needed to know, what did it matter if the remaining 20 inches were dry as hell?

And on the other side, broadcasters, facing stiff competition from 24-hour cable channels, distilled an entire day's events into minute-long nuggets of factoid. Three people are dead in an apparent homicide. There was a car crash on I-95. The Ravens lost. It'll be sunny and 76 tomorrow. Repeat.

Is it any wonder that news consumers have fled to the web, where the storytelling in any form (gossip, interactive visuals, news, sports, politics) is paramount?

Why was I happy to pay for TimesSelect? Because I can find out the latest facts on who blew up who in the Middle East from multiple sources. With so much available information, I don't necessarily value the simple reporting as much as I did before 1996, when all this Internet stuff started. But if Thomas Friedman shares his thoughts on the most recent suicide bombing there, even if I disagree with him, that information is something I'm compelled to think about, synthesize, and potentially share.

Point is, I think that publishers are missing an opportunity. I've mentioned many times before at conferences and in classes that I think the future role of a journalist will be as a highly-trained filter/ aggregator. There's just too much information available and too many "citizen reporters" willing to do the legwork once reserved only for newspapermen. And besides, with constant staff cuts and drastically shrinking newsrooms, what editor has the luxury of sending out her reporters to cover a local rally or politician's speech?

I want someone that I can trust to navigate me through what I need to know and what I don't. On top of that, I want storytelling. Wire copy doesn't satisfy me anymore - especially not when average bloggers are pulling AP stories into their own columns verbatim and then commenting on the news.

Tomorrow night, I'll be at Temple teaching my Internet Publishing Class - and we're going to spend some time looking through my students' initial proposals on how to fund a website with less than 30% advertising revenue. I'll share what we come up with...and of course, I'd love to continue the discussion here...

 

September 05, 2007

Hulu.com, iTunes vs. Amazon and the Race to Distribute Video Online

Here was my original theory: NBC Universal and News Corp., at long last, released the name of the video distribution service announced back in March. It's called Hulu.com, and it's still in private beta for now. Partners also include Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and MySpace (part of News Corp.). I'd thought that at some point, NBC would pull its content from iTunes, distribute it via the new service and match or undercut iTunes' $1.99-per-episode model.

From the original press release:

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” said Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. “We’ll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live. We’re excited about the potential for this alliance and we’re looking forward to working with any content provider or distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.”

“Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this announcement incredibly exciting,” said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal. “This venture supercharges our distribution of protected, quality content to fans everywhere. Consumers get a hugely attractive aggregation of a wide range of content, and marketers get a novel way to connect with a large and highly engaged audience.”

And today, I read that NBC Universal will sell episodes on Amazon's Unbox instead. (Hadn't heard of Unbox? You're not alone.) Same basic pricing structure ($1.99 for TV episodes, $7.99+ for movies).

So what of Hulu? Aside from the wildly bizarre, market-inappropriate name, I see another problem: Video content on Hulu will be...wait for it...monetized solely through advertising. This, after early backlash against the embedded ad overlays on YouTube videos and after developers quickly created software to block them.

Here's my new theory: Sometime in the very near future, news consumers are going to demand ad-free content. In a sense, they already are. Recent studies point to widespread ad aversion. As a consumer myself, I can tell you that last fall I decided not to visit the Philadelphia Inquirer's website, philly.com, anymore because of a horrible, inexplicable bouncing jack-o-lantern that forced me to chase it with my mouse and click on a tiny-tiny "x" in order to make the damn ad go away. And let's not forget the Free Porn ads that ran...

In the end, it is advertising that made me a paid subscriber to many of the sites I visit regularly...or permanently drove me away from the sites that didn't offer me the opportunity to pay a set price for an ad-free experience. I consume a huge amount of digital content, and I'm still spending less than $20 a month in total. If it meant I'd get an episode of South Park with absolutely no interruption or embedded ads, I'd be more than happy to contribute a buck or two to a distributor. I'd definitely pay a yearly subscription to get access to Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me and all the other NPR podcasts I download regularly. Same goes for newsprint online.

I mentioned in an earlier post that a graduate class I'm teaching now will explore alternative ways of distributing content using a model that doesn't rely solely on advertising support. I believe strongly that journalistic content can itself be monetized. If the content is compelling and seen as a public necessity, then folks will likely be willing to buy it. They still plunk down a dollar for their local newspaper, right?

 

August 17, 2007

From the "Um, I don't think so..." Department

Who hasn't yet seen the incendiary editorial from the LA Times this morning? You know, the one saying that publishers say (because apparently the Times wouldn't) that Google is "a greater threat to [publishers'] livelihoods than Osama bin Laden."

The editorial lambasts the recent Google announcement to allow unmoderated comments after stories published on Google News. And since Google News is aggregating content from newspapers that don't allow any comments, let alone unedited ones, the Times would like to know what the value is in suddenly allowing folks to discuss the news without a recess aid.

To wit:

The essence of good journalism is asking the right questions. Google, however, won't ask anything of those who submit comments. According to the company's announcement, its only interest is that the submissions are authentic, not that they're relevant or even truthful...

There will be some valuable responses too, plugging holes in stories or correcting mistaken impressions. Google, however, won't help readers separate the factual wheat from the public-relations chaff -- a reminder that Google may strive to be the world's index, but it's not journalism.

This editorial is emblematic of just how troubled our industry is right now. It's another indication that traditional news media outlets don't fully understand not how, but why the 'net works. On the print side, newspaper consumers have an expectation that their morning paper will have a certain number of local news stories, sports stories, a recipe or two, some editorials and a handful of letters to the editors. Sure, I'm generalizing, but the point is that American newspapers have succeeded in branding themselves into a corner. Part of the problem is that newspapers are static in both form and content. Think of what happened when the New York Times announced a reduction in size... or what happened with the Journal went color. Bedlam!

Print pubs are, by nature, static. Broadcast news changed that mindset just a bit, and if we all remember what happened when the first episodes of the Today show were airing, publishers all thought the end was near. But the industry adapted and survived.

It's transition time again - but rather than feverishly working to adapt and adopt, we're crying foul: Google isn't playing nice! Where's the lady with the whistle when you need her? Isn't someone going to give Google a detention?!?

The Internet is by nature and, well, in terms of its technology, dynamic. That means that it's bound to change and evolve much more quickly than we're able really comprehend. The whole reason we now have 70 million blogs indexed is because the Internet offers an adaptive, open publishing environment. Anyone can play, and for the most part, there are few or no barriers to entry.

While the 1990s saw the first transition - folks pushed content out to their consumers - the mid-2000s are seeing the second: participation. Why are sites like Facebook and Flickr exploding? Because consumers have (1) become more technically savvy and willing to try new web tools during the past decade and (2) because more people than ever are able to participate in the digital conversation.

It is unrealistic to believe that consumers still want news only pushed one-way. Even if that news comes via a seasoned, trained journalist. The expectation has morphed dramatically - we want, and we have, the ability to talk back.

It astounds me that news organizations are continuing to discuss whether or not to allow comments on their websites. Or if those comments should be moderated. Or watched. Or whatever.

Of course consumers should be able to take a story and run with it. Ask more questions, contribute their own ideas. Hell, that's what I'm doing right here, no? Difference is that I'm talking here, on my blog rather than reacting to the Times' editorial over at LATimes.com. And for the many, many people who come to mydigimedia every day, you're reading what I have to say here - and not at the LA Times. Lots of times you're commenting here, too.

And guess whose site is benefiting from that traffic?

Moderation? Absolutely - comments should be moderated to some extent. I wind up with at least a hundred spam comments and trackbacks for porn or Viagra every day. But there are workarounds - easy tech solutions that don't require me to sit for hours going through each commenter.

And so what if a flack at the LA Times chooses to respond here, to explain the editorial board's viewpoint? In the editorial, the Times gives an example of how commenting may result in unfettered publicity:

For example, if The Times ran another expose on conflicts of interest within the Food and Drug Administration's drug-approval process, Google News would provide a forum for the FDA and any researchers or drug manufacturers implicated in the story to respond, unedited...

...As a result, the comments section is likely to be larded with spin, hype and obfuscation. A seemingly heartfelt comment may carry the CEO's name, but the words will probably have been typed by corporate flacks.

What's to stop the obfuscation around the water cooler at your office? Or the spin dished out on talking head "news" shows? Funny, I haven't seen anyone from the Baltimore Sun show up at my neighborhood bar to moderate a discussion between me and our district councilman about a recent story that appeared in the paper.

Point is, newspapers cannot - cannot - rebuke the web as it realistically functions today. Nor can they continue to stare at the ground, waiting to be told where their cheese moved. Or for that matter, where the cheese will be tomorrow.

 

August 16, 2007

Oy! The Philly.com and Yahoo! Partnership

Philly.com will get revenue via ads and links, and Yahoo! will get content. Guess I need to update that Web 2.0 chart to include new partnership deals...

Read the official Yahoo! press release here.

Philly.com, which includes the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, joins 18 (or 19? numbers are unclear) paper publishers of nearly 400 newspapers. Those companies include GateHouse Media, Tribune Review Publishing Company (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) and many others.

Philly.com prez Eric Grilly was first out of the gate to bring Yahoo! into an ad distribution partnership with print while he was with MediaNews Group Interactive.

Again, why all the hubbub over Murdoch? Someone please remind me...

Links to other blogs/ sites covering the deal: paidContent, clickZ, Yahoo! Finance, Philebrity.

August 15, 2007

Publish2 Live (beta-ish)

Scott Karp just unveiled his Publish2 project - the idea is to create an aggregated news site by journalists. And he defines jurnos in his introductory post just what that concept means:

Publish2 is a social network and 2.0 platform for journalists (and independent “news bloggers,” “citizen” journalists, student journalists, i.e. ALL journalists, BROADLY defined), which aims to put journalists at the center of news on the web by creating a journalist-powered news aggregator.

His team is using Drupal (open content management system) to power the site and the collective wisdom of journalists to feed it. Definitely read the first post - Scott lays out a good argument for why Digg and other aggregators are missing the mark.

But I have two thoughts:

First, isn't aggregating what jurnos were supposed to be doing anyway? Go out into neighborhoods, collect information, distil it down into reasonable chunks, then publish the important stuff for citizens...

Which leads me to thought number two: We've created a world that now requires more high-tech hunter-gatherers. All this easy publishing software has empowered the millions of folks out there with millions of things to say, and that's created much more open information than ever before. Hunting-gathering v 1.0 were social sites like Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit. The next phase requires a smarter shovel - so humans are back in the picture, helping to decide what's really relevant once again.

I just posted an entry about the semantic web (Web 3.0)...Publish2 is part of the beginning. Very, very excited to see where Scott Karp and team goes with this venture.

August 09, 2007

Who Owns What: Media v2.0

Think Murdoch's acquisition of the Dow Jones properties is scary? Then you haven't taken a look at Google's scorecard lately.

In the past year, Google has been hunting prospects and nabbing some of the most innovative communications tools out there. Among the group: GrandCentral, Feedburner, Panoramio, Tonic Systems, Adscape Media...the list goes on.

A few weeks back, I started compiling lists of major media companies and their acquisitions. I'm usually not surprised to hear that a deal's gone through...the DoubleClick announcement didn't rock the digital media world. But when I look at the companies in aggregate form, that gives me pause.

We're so darn concerned about what Rupert will do to the Journal, what will happened to Times Select next, whether or not reporters should be allowed to blog that we're losing sight of the bigger picture.

The central figure in that picture is Google, which by the way is hedging $4 billion to gain open access to the wireless spectrum.

The future of media isn't only about content, it's about delivery. While jurnos are busy bickering about whether or not to allow visitor comments on their websites, other companies are moving full-speed ahead with radically different business models. They're thinking broadly: aggregator + search + content + mobile + gaming = sustainability.

So strike that paragraph above. It is about content, and content will ultimately save journalism. It seems to me that the smartest thing for us to do is to develop alternative ways to communicate news to consumers - and to think about convergence in terms of broad media consumption, rather than paper-broadcast partnerships.

The Who Owns What v2.0 chart is downloadable here. Pin it to your cubicle wall...then take a few aspirin. It's going to be an interesting few years ahead.

(And if you notice a correction, please let me know. The chart doesn't have every acquisition - there wasn't enough space.)

 

July 31, 2007

More WSJ Sale Updates

From the Journal, a history: Now, Rupert Murdoch becomes the heir to the credo posted on Clarence Barron's office wall a century ago: "The Wall Street Journal must stand for the best that is in Wall Street and reflect that which is best in United States finance."

Via Hollywood Today: Despite the media frenzy and open paranoia about his bid, Murdoch is poised to win bid for America’s largest business newspaper, which he will leverage to launch a new cable business channel this fall.

From ABCNews.com (with AP & Reuters reports): The Bancroft family has been divided for months over the $5 billion sale. The family was originally expected to vote on the proposed sale by 5 p.m. Monday, but that deadline came and went. While enough members appeared to support the deal, news reports surfaced saying that family members and Murdoch were debating whether News Corp. would cover the $30 million in legal fees that Bancroft family members had incurred while debating a sale.