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Media release: Piano Media raises paywall price with ‘steady revenue’ in place

February 14th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

Piano Media has announced that it is raising the price of the national paywall it established in Slovakia last year, a move its CEO Tomas Bella says in a release had been the plan for once the platform was “accepted”.

The decision to raise the price follows the launch of the company’s second joint national paywall in Slovenia last month, involving nine publishers in the country.

In Slovakia the price will go up from 1 March, the release adds, from €.99 to €1.39 a week, €2.90 to €3.90 a month and from €29 to €39 for a year.

With steady revenue and reader growth established, Piano’s pricing structure moves into its next development phase after gaining broad acceptance by Slovakia’s digital readers.

In the release Bella adds: “The number of our subscribers is still going up. More and more people are telling us that they were against the concept at first but now have gotten used to the idea and already feel comfortable with paying.”

The company confirmed in the release that it “is in negotiations with publishers in 11 European countries and has plans to launch in more European markets by the end of 2012″.

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Financial Times: Sunday version of the Sun on hold due to arrests

January 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers

Sean Dempsey/PA

The Financial Times is reporting that the launch of a Sunday newspaper “to replace the News of the World” has been delayed due to the arrests of News International journalists at the weekend.

On Saturday (28 January), four current and former Sun journalists were arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden, the Met team looking into illegal payments to police.

The FT reports that a launch date of 29 April had “been set in stone”. Journalism.co.uk heard late on Friday, the day before the arrests, that the launch date had been brought forward.

The insiders said that managers of News International had decided that the adverse publicity surrounding the arrests and the suspension of the four journalists while police inquiries were going on would hamper any possible launch of a new title, which earlier reports said would be called the Sun on Sunday.

The article includes a comment from anonymous insiders, plus an interview with former chief reporter at the News of the World Neville Thurlbeck.

Mr Thurlbeck said that an internal group, the management and standards committee, set up at the direction of Rupert Murdoch to co-operate with a police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, had handed over so much material that it had lost control of the situation.

“The staff [of the Sun] have lost trust in their own management because they [the MSC] don’t believe that they know what is contained in the material that the police now have.”

The FT adds that News International declined to comment.

The full Financial Times article is at this link [part-paywall].

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Company finance search tool Duedil receives further funding

Duedil, which describes itself as the world’s largest database of free company financials, has just finalised a second round of investment from Jonty Hurwitz, the founding CTO of loans firm Wonga.

Duedil is a free tool that all journalists should take a look at, as it provides a hugely valuable way to search for information on company finance, directorships and more.

Duedil’s database lists every company and director in the UK and Ireland allowing anyone to access the information for free.

It has recently added new features including alerting you to which of your LinkedIn contacts may be able to provide information on that company.

In a release, Duedil said it “has ambitious plans to revolutionise the way business information is accessed and used”.

Angel investor Hurwitz, who is investing an undisclosed sum and has a minority stake in Duedil, “has built a team and technology platform that have radically altered the short-term finance market,” the release states.

Founded in 2007 with Errol Damelin, Wonga turned over £74 million in 2009, and is growing every year.

The release states:

With an eye for the next big thing, Hurwitz sees the vast potential for business growth in big data analytics. He will bring both his technical and strategic expertise to Duedil, which he hopes will develop into the premier source of business information in the world.

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#news2011: ProPublica model ‘not feasible’ as commercial venture, says editor-in-chief

November 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Investigative journalism

A commercial version of ProPublica is not “feasible at present”, its editor-in-chief told the Global Editors Network news summit today.

The US investigative news site, which relies on funding from philanthropic donations, was launched in 2008.

Giving a keynote speech to the event in Hong Kong via video-link Pro-Publica’s Paul Steiger, a former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, said he did not think a commercial organisation would be able to do as ProPublica does and “concentrate on doing nothing but investigative reporting”.

“It is possible that news organisations can have investigative reporting as part of the menu of reporting”, but not to the same extent.

The industry has gone from a high profit margin business model to one with much tighter margins.

As a result news organisations are “much less able to take the risk of sending reporters out on a project that might not produce a viable story,” he said.

I don’t think it is impossible at to make it happen in places outside of the US though. It just requires energy and ingenuity.

Click here for more on ProPublica and how it is funded.

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#news2011: Paywalls – ‘the solution is going to be unique and individual’

November 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Journalism

In one of the first sessions at the Global Editors Network news summit today the panel discussed paywalls and paid-for apps.

One of the speakers was Frederic Filloux, general manager of ePresse Consortium, the “digital kiosk” or newsstand from ePresse which launched in July this year after just six months of development by a two-man team (the catalogue section of the iPhone app is shown in the screenshot on the left).

Filloux gave an interesting insight into the model and the online challenges of the industry in which it performs.

He said the kiosk has a “news DNA”, leaving the leisure magazine market to other outlets.

“It is highly selective. It had just eight publishers at start, and might have grown to 12 in January. It is capturing an 85 per cent reach, the market is quite concentrated.”

I spoke to him more about the platform after the session, when he also discussed how ePresse would be working with Google’s One Pass system

Frederic Filloux of ePresse by journalismnews

During the session the speakers also called on editors to experiment with numerous revenue streams, and find their unique market.

Filloux told the conference “the company that will survive will be the one able to have not two but 15 different revenue streams and be able to test, experiment and find out what will be most valuable … It will have to test a lot and try many formulas.”

Fellow speaker Madhav Chinnappa, head of strategic partnerships for Google News, added that “the solution is going to be unique and individual”.

In my personal opinion the most successful paywall has probably been the Financial Times, but they have a unique set of circumstances. It took them years to develop their paywall, trying different things. They spent a lot of effort around customer data. They come from unique position. I don’t know any human who pays for a subscription to the FT, it’s companies, so that’s going to be different from most newspapers in the audience.

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Investigative journalism news site ExaroNews launches

A new investigative journalism site is today marking the launch of its “field trial”, during which time it will test the platform and carry a selection of articles “to give people an idea of what is coming”.

ExaroNews aims to “hold power to account” and will launch as a fully-fledged, paywalled investigative news site “in a few weeks”, with a focus on appealing to readers in the business community, Mark Watts, the site’s editor told Journalism.co.uk.

The new organisation plans to encourage WikiLeaks-style whistleblowing, hoping those with a potential story will contact the Fleet Street-based editorial team or leave the documents in an anonymous drop box, which will launch at a later date, Watts explained.

The server is physically located outside of the jurisdiction which means it makes it much safer in terms of attempts to find out who has passed information on.

As well as hoping to have leaked documents to investigate, the team of mainly freelance journalists will spend the majority of time “crawling public data for stories that are generally going missed”.

The journalists will be “investigating governments in the widest sense of that word, investigating public bodies and what they are up to” by analysing the “increasing volume of public data available”, Watts said.

Journalists working for a mainstream media title don’t really have the time to assess and make sense of that data.

The team of journalists

The growing team of journalists working for the organisation includes “people who have worked on both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, people who have worked in broadcasting and people from trade magazine backgrounds”, Watts told Journalism.co.uk.

One of those is former Westminster correspondent for the Guardian David Hencke, he said, plus there are “those who are much fresher out of journalism college, particularly those who have learned a bit about data journalism and a bit about how to make use of information that is put in the public domain by an array of public bodies”.

Watts himself ran the investigations unit at the now-defunct Sunday Business, and has worked on the Sunday Times and on TV programme World in Action.

Sample stories

One of the stories currently on the site is on negotiations between the new Libyan government and the UK, which, according to Watts, was later reported in the Sunday Times.

Former Guardian journalist David Hencke has a series of stories on the site “how auditors found crazy examples of misspending by all sorts of Whitehall departments and all this was gathered from audit reports that were in the public domain but had not been picked up on”, Watts said.

Subscription costs

Paywall prices have not yet been set and readers will be able to access the site by paying for a subscription or can opt to micro-buy articles, Watts explained.

The site is particularly, but not exclusively, aimed at a business and City audience,  simply because we think that that’s probably where the paying audience will be, as distinct from the general consumer, which has got used to the idea of having content for free.

Once the paywall is launched readers will see a homepage with introductions to articles and will be then prompted to micro-buy or subscribe.

Investigative journalism does cost money and although people are getting used to the idea of getting news content for nothing, of course what they are often getting for free is just regurgitated, rehashed, or, to use that phrase, churned material which its no wonder is free as really it is pretty valueless.

ExaroNews is holding a launch party this evening (1 November).

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How to get involved with the Guardian’s latest venture into hyperlocal

October 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Citizen journalism, Hyperlocal

Six months ago the Guardian Media Group called time on its regional news pilot Guardian Local, but it is continuing to experiment in the local market, its latest venture being n0tice, a location-based online notice board to share and read news and notices.

The hyperlocal website and mobile site is currently in private beta, with a team of three at GMG along with an army of contributors helping to shape the online version of the village notice board. Others who want to get involved will soon be able join.

n0tice was born out of a Guardian hack day and has SoLoMo, a trend towards social, local and mobile, at its heart, but as it does not currently have Guardian branding it feels more like an independent start-up than a child of the news outlet.

The platform is a space for people to buy and sell, like the classifieds section of a local newspaper, and can be used for general notices, local news and liveblogs or updates posted by citizen reporters as community news breaks.

It is like a reverse Foursquare, where rather than checking in to a business or venue, you allow your computer or mobile to grab your location information and the site finds the community groups, items for sale and news near you.

How is it going to make money?

Listing on n0tice is free but users get the option to pay for a featured post. Pricing is yet to be confirmed but the figure currently being worked with is a charge of £1 for each mile radius from the seller’s location per day.

The site, which can be used worldwide and white labelled, will be given free to hyperlocals and sold to commercial ventures, such as anyone who wants to use the technology to set up a location-based site, according to community strategist at GMG Sarah Hartley, who was head of online editorial at the Manchester Evening News and later launch editor of the now defunct Guardian local experiment.

And of course, being a Guardian platform, it has an open API.

Along with Hartley, who this week spoke about n0tice at the Brighton Future of News Group, two others are working on the development of the platform: Matt McAlister, who is director of digital Strategy (who in May announced n0tice with this thorough explainer) and developer Daniel Levitt (whose blog is here).

One of the areas the team is looking into is how to best reward users who contribute, with a current system in place of an ‘Editor’ badge which goes to the first user in an area.

The next round of users will be invited into the platform soon soon, with a planned release of the site next year. You can sign up to be one of those by entering your email address here, you can follow @n0tice on Twitter and get involved by joining this Flickr group and “celebrate noticeboards” by contributing photographs.

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Sydney Morning Herald: The Australian to reveal paywall details this week

October 18th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that News Limited (the Australian arm of News Corporation) will officially announce its paywall for the Australian this week, after it outlined plans for a ‘freemium’ subscription model for its online content back in June.

It had already been announced that the model will offer access to some content for free, but others will require payment.

According to the SMH report the site will charge $2.95 a week to access all content across the website and its phone and tablet apps.

It will be the first paywall for a general newspaper in Australia, an experiment that has achieved mixed success overseas by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, the Financial Times and The Economist.

It will follow the approach of News Corp stablemate The Wall Street Journal. Some stories will be able to be read for free while others will need a subscription to be read, most likely to be its analysis and specialised sections.

At the World Editors Forum last week, three publishers – including the New York Times – outlined their paywall strategies and lessons they had learnt along the way.

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News International: ‘no decision made on Sun paywall’

October 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

News International has responded to reports that it has decided not to introduce a paywall at the Sun, as it has for the Times, Sunday Times, and did for the now-defunct News of the World site, denying that a decision has been made over charges.

A report today by paidContent suggests that new chief executive Tom Mockridge has decided against a paywall.

News International has finally decided against introducing usage fees for The Sun’s website and is performing a restructure to place more emphasis on advertising sales, paidContent understands.

The Sun will introduce a paid mobile content app imminently; it is currently consulting with readers on the appropriate fee. But it will not be following Rupert Murdoch’s edict in which he appeared to say that all his news titles’ websites should charge.

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#wef11: News outlets need to produce ‘caviar content’

October 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Journalism

In presenting the annual Innovations in Newspapers 2011 World Report, director of the Innovation Media Consulting Group Carlo Campos asked a question many delegates were likely to be interested to hear the answer to:

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the newspaper crisis?

And his answer:

We are starting to see hopeful signs we’re starting to pull through.

Specifically, he said, social media has begun to pay off, circulation is rising in developing countries, advertising is stabling, people are beginning to pay online and there are high profits in “decent economies”.

We have used the crisis to clean up our houses. Cut down a lot of the fat. We’re running operations that are as lean and mean as ever.

We’re abandoning volume for value. We want to have better audiences. We want to be more enaged and interact with them. Finally, we are reclaiming our content and putting a price on it.

Free is very expensive and ultimately unsustainable. Open does not need to mean free.

It is not about whether we should pay anymore, he said, it is about what people will pay for.

If you go into a bar and ask for tap water, it’s free. If you ask for champagne you have to pay for it. Peanuts are free in the bar, but if you ask for caviar you have to pay.

The problem is 80 per cent of the content we produce is peanuts. Only 20 per cent is caviar but nevertheless we want people to pay for everything. We need to produce caviar news so people will pay. You can still give peanuts to get people to come in and sit with you.

You can get the full report at this link, which offers a number of examples of innovations within news from across the world.

Journalism.co.uk is bringing you reports from the World Editors Forum throughout the conference.

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