New Model Journalism

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Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

Has the Huffington Post hit the big time?

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Is the surprise sale of the Huffington Post to AOL a sign that blogs can make the big time? Or is it more a case that comely newcomer of modest means hopes that getting hitched to a struggling media tycoon will help her to face an uncertain digital future?

Following the money leads to no clear conclusions. On the one hand, the $315 million deal – the highest price paid to date for a blog-based website – is a tidy sum for a pet project started by Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer just five years ago. At first sight, it seems to be a sign of a trend that everyone wants to see: where innovative journalism leads, the finance will follow.

Yet, with each party struggling in different ways, the union is clearly a gamble for both sides. Despite having 25 million monthly visitors, the HuffPo only went into profit last year, while AOL has been struggling to maintain its revenues and credibility for some time. It remains to be seen whether combining HuffPo’s reach with AOL’s corporate infrastructure will translate into a digital media model that is sustainable in the long term – and one that doesn’t compromise the liberal, internationalist stance that has made the HuffPo what it is.

Highlighting the implications for quality journalism in the Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten thinks not.

And, with the HuffPo’s reputation built on the labour of unpaid bloggers and a controversial practice of linking freely to outside content, some of the contributors to its success may be quietly wondering when they will get their share in this new media universe. One unpaid contributor declares his hand here. And this prolific New Yorker is positively revolting.

Written by Alex

February 7th, 2011 at 6:30 am

First iPad newspaper launches in New York

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Today, Murdoch bets an estimated $30 million on his hunch that a new generation of iPad users will pay for an online newspaper.

The Daily, a digital newspaper made exclusively for iPad by News Corp, is available to readers prepared to pay 62 p a week for a daily dose of US-focused news and entertainment. With around a hundred journalists producing original content that will be updated once a day only, the innovation is in the delivery rather than the journalism.

Meanwhile, a bunch of New York digirati are producing their version of an iPad news app, reports TechCrunch. is where social media meets news aggregation – an app that filters news from your Twitter account to produce a kind of personalised news stream.

Written by Alex

February 2nd, 2011 at 6:19 am

Weighing the role of social media in Egyptian coverage

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Political events may still be unfolding in Egypt, but analysts of the role of social media in the country’s changing fortunes are already coming to some conclusions.

And they’re increasingly nuanced. Matthew Ingram weighs up experts’ dismissal of ‘cyber utopianism’ in which sceptics like Evgeny Morozov reject the idea that social media played a key role in bringing down the Tunisian government.

It’s a view that gains credence from the authorities’ strategy of censoring social media – the internet has been all-but shut down in Egypt for the past few days. But, Ingram argues, while social media may not cause democracy, networked communication remains undeniably powerful.

Broadcasting and Cable follows a better-trodden path, suggesting that social media is playing an even greater role in Egypt than in previous uprisings in Burma and Iran, and is increasingly used by mainstream news providers. And now that the Egyptian government has shut down its Cairo office, Al Jazeera has appealed for help from bloggers

For examples, see New York Times reporter Nick Kristof’s micro-reporting on Facebook, and the 10 must-follow Twitter feeds on the Egyptian protests recommended by UN Dispatch.

It may not be that citizen-led, though. On Al-Bab, one Egypt-based blogger points out sensibly that most of those protesting don’t have the time or the smart phones to tweet about the revolution.

Written by Alex

January 31st, 2011 at 4:47 am

iPhone meets longform – with mixed results for magazine journalism

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A techy tale for our times comes from the Big Apple, where sophisticated commuters are turning to their iPhones to satisfy their craving for substantial magazine features.

They had to wait awhile, recounts Kat Stoeffel in the New York Observer, as the technology – designed to deliver only micro-bites of online info – wasn’t up to it. That all changed thanks to Instapaper, an app which takes articles and saves them in a format that can be read offline, on an iPhone.

The moral of the tale? Even time-poor, peripatetic readers want longform, and new media technologies can deliver it to them. But, with the new channels cutting out magazine publishers’ advertising revenue, the search for the right economic model continues.

Written by Alex

January 26th, 2011 at 6:50 am

Hunt for new media model doomed

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Bonnie-Brown (Flickr)

A thought-provoking assessment of what technological change means for journalism comes from Paul Armstrong of @themediaisdying.

Armstrong, who has been relaying his observations of the changing face of the media for the past couple of years via his Twitter account, has now reached a firm conclusion. The hunt for a new business model is fundamentally doomed, he argues, and those on it would be better advised to ‘stop trying to refine and redefine journalism … serve the reader not the business model’

In Armstrong’s view, the digital revolution is shaping a future where readers increasingly demand personalised news and consumer info which can only be provided as aggregated content delivered by apps. As result, he says, efforts by many in the media industry to find ways of selling long-form content through variations on traditional mechanisms are misplaced.

But it’s in the nature of changing times that no one agrees where they are going. Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on an intellectual backlash against social media in the US, where a growing number of ‘cyber-sceptics’ are arguing that, far from enhancing communication, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are isolating and diminishing us.

And, as noted here previously, there’s even the odd rumour of a marriage between tradition and innovation.

Written by Alex

January 24th, 2011 at 5:56 am

Tweeting ’bout the revolution – the case of Tunisia

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The digital revolution has been meeting actual revolution over the past week in Tunisia.

Users of social media are being credited with bringing about the downfall of President of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, reports National Public Radio in the States.

Meanwhile. the authorities have been extending the usual means of suppressing unfavourable reporting by mainstream journalists, arresting bloggers and interfering with email and social media accounts including Facebook.

But tweeters opened themselves up to accusations of inaccuracy by falsely reporting mid last week that the president had been ousted before he had in fact fled.

However, as the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker points out, online communities’ ability to self-correct quickly means this doesn’t completely undermine contributions’ from citizen journalists.

The BBC reports how the fall of the Tunisian regime is being hailed by bloggers around the Arab world.

For a backgrounder on how citizen journalism is flourishing in the Arab world – where most people are subjects rather than citizens – see here.

Written by Alex

January 17th, 2011 at 5:46 am

James ‘pay nowt’ Brown: saviour or saboteur?

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Sabotage Times, James Brown’s latest venture aims to be an online showcase for new writing talent.  Aspiring journalists give their material to the site for nothing, and, so the plan goes, gain attention and lustre from being published by the founder of Loaded and former editor of GQ.  The 200 or so contributors only receive payment if their material is syndicated elsewhere.

The site’s content is the mens’ mags staples of television, film, music, football, celebrity, travel and lifestyle.  By virtue of being on the web, the content is generally more immediate, but slighter than much of its printed kin.

Brown, whose Jack magazine lasted just two years and who has since been undertaking media consultancy,  launched the venture with £30,000 of his own money.  He runs it with a deputy, Matt Weiner, formerly of FourFourTwo, and has no office.  There a couple of big name backers, but Brown has, to date, declined to name them.

The idea came to Brown when he realised that there was a wealth of writing talent pouring its efforts into blogs and Twitter feeds who risked going unnoticed.  By pulling them together, and publishing some of his old running mates like Irvine Welsh, as well as his own musings, Brown reasoned that he could create a destination website.  Today the site claims around 85,000 unique visitors a month.

Whether the deal works for contributors is harder to fathom.  Brown says that more than 140 articles have now been syndicated.  One or two Sabotage Times writers have been spotted and snapped up by established media – one for example is now working for Heat.

Lucy Sweet – one of Sabotage Times top-six contributors – is a respected journalist based in Glasgow.  After 15 years of successful freelancing, she was hit by the downturn in print, and care duties for a young child.  She found Sabotage Times via Twitter, liked their ‘fresh and anarchic attitude’, and sent them a link to her blog.

“I wrote them a piece for Sabotage Times about my secret grubby love of cheap celeb magazines,” she says. “I got tons of comments and tweets about it, from Sabotage Times readers to magazine editors and established journalists. Even Jonathan Ross read it and liked it.”

Sweet generally initiates ideas and is given free rein to write what she wants.   “If there’s something topical they want to run James or his deputy Matt will commission me – usually at the last minute. I’ve written reviews of the Apprentice and the X-Factor well into the night. But the response is always so immediate that I’ve become addicted to the attention! James and Matt are very supportive and I’ve (virtually) been introduced to a bunch of really funny, clever, up and coming writers like Russ Litten, Olivia Darling and Jo Fuertes-Knight. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Sweet has had nothing syndicated from the site, but has been approached by several editors as a result of her work on the site.  She wrote a column for the Guardian, covering for Ian Jack while he was on holiday, and has also had a commission from Glamour and one from a travel magazine about a five star hotel in Barbados. 

For Brown’s business to work, of course, he will need to syndicate a great deal more.  Only time will tell whether Sabotage Times is the next Loaded – or another Jack.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 6th, 2011 at 8:01 am

Sunday Times iPad app tops chart

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The Sunday Times is bragging today that its iPad app has topped a chart rating design, functionality and use of multimedia.  The chart, published by iMonitor, rated Story Magazin from Hungary and Viva HD second and third.  The Washington Post and Pearson’s Intelligent Life came in at four and five.

Acclaim for the product may not, however, translate into sales – figures for which News International has not yet released.  Wired Magazine sold 100,000 copies of its first iPad app, generating waves of interest among other magazine publishers.  Richard Branson quickly unveiled ‘Project’ and News International let slip that it was planning an iPad newspaper, to be called ‘the Daily’ in the new year.  Since then, however, according to The Financial Times ‘after an initial spurt of enthusiasm, sales (of paid for iPad publication apps) have been dropping’.

But it is probably too early to write off the iPad magazine market.  Apple has already sold 7.5m iPads and some analists predict that tablet and e-reader sales could hit 50m this year.  And most publishers appear to be feeling their way in the market somewhat uncertainly.  Some change more for online publications for print editions, other load products with so many hard-to-download features that mobile consumers are likely to stick with print.

The iPad publication chart does pose a bigger question, however.

Apple has traditionally demanded high and expensive compliance standards of app developers – which probably explains the dominance of the iPad app market by major traditional publishers.  Whether consumers will warm to a market where there is such a significant barrier to entry, after a decade of anyone-can-do-it internet publishing, remains to be seen.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 5th, 2011 at 8:40 am

What will 2011 mean for journalism?

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There are no clear-cut answers to this question, obviously, but the Poynter Institute identifies some emerging trends in investigative journalism in the US. It is thriving, it seems, but only if you’re good with data and social media.

A similar blend of tradition and innovation is keeping the magazine world alive, according to the Innovations in Magazines 2010 World Report, as covered in the Huffington Post.

Written by Alex

January 4th, 2011 at 9:47 am

Kingston launches comp for entrepreneurial journos

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Kingston University is joining the US-led trend of encouraging entrepreneurial journalism through grants and prizes. The myNewsBiz competition, launched this week by Adam Westbrook, is offering £1000 for the best idea for a sustainable news business, and is open to students at any UK university.

The deadline for entries from 1 April 2011, and those shortlisted can look forward to a Dragons’ Den style pitching event in May.

Written by Alex

December 9th, 2010 at 6:25 am