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Computerworld UK: Johnston Press sales staff get 800 iPads as part of ’24-hour digital’ shift

May 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Local media

More than 800 sales staff at Johnston Press are to get iPads as part of the local publisher’s transformation to a “24-hour digital operation”, the company’s chief executive Ashley Highfield has told Computerworld UK.

The move will enable remote working from many of the 1,500 sales staff, the article states.

[The] regional newspaper group is deploying the Saleforce.com platform to support ad sales teams selling through new media channels, and adopting Google Apps to support a company-wide, cloud-based email system.

Other media companies using Google Apps include Telegraph newspapers and News International, which also uses Salesforce.com.

Computerworld UK adds:

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “This is the beginning of the transformation of local media to a 24-hour digital operation, and provides our new and existing customers with access to exactly the audience they want to reach, where and when they want to message them.”

Last week Johnston Press reported a £143.8 million loss in 2011, after writing off £163.7 million from the value of its newspaper titles.

In March Highfield signaled a move to “digital first”, later describing the publishing strategy for five titles moving from daily to weekly publication as “platform neutral”.

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Johnston Press delays reporting financial results as it negotiates with lenders

March 28th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Local media

Johnston Press has delayed the reporting of last year’s financial results while it negotiates with lenders.

The local news publisher of around 260 titles, which is based in Edinburgh, was due to report its full-year results for 2011 on Tuesday (3 April).

It is describing discussions with lenders as “constructive”.

In a statement JP says it is changing its preliminary results date to 25 April.

The company has been in constructive discussions with its lenders regarding the extension of its credit facilities for a further three years from their current maturity on 30 September 2012 and will provide a further update to the market as part of the preliminary results announcement.

Last week Ashley Highfield, who started as JP’s chief executive in November signaled that the publisher is adopting a “digital first” strategy.

During the same appearance, at the Guardian Media Summit, he stated that “every one of our newspapers is profitable”, but added that to “make more money out of digital we still have a long way to go”.

He said the local newspaper group aims for profit margins of 20 per cent.

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InPublishing: New chief executive’s plans for Johnston Press

January 26th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

InPublishing has a revealing interview with Johnston Press’ new chief executive, a former technology boss with no newspaper experience.

Ray Snoddy interviews Ashley Highfield, who was former head of technology at the BBC and later in charge of Microsoft’s online and consumer operations, on his plans for the newspaper group.

It is worth reading the whole interview to find out why Highfield took up the challenge of joining the company, which seen its share price fall from 480p to 5p.

Here are a couple of extracts:

The new Johnston chief executive also points out that while not a newspaperman, he has run two of the largest online news portals in the UK, MSN and BBC online, where he was editor-in-chief responsible for several hundred online journalists.

Then of course there is the money, which included a welcome package of £500,000 worth of seriously deflated Johnston Press shares.

If the new chief executive can conjure up a little alchemy, find a better model for linking the print and digital world and get the share price on the move then he could become seriously rich.

Those however who expected Highfield to come in to Johnston Press and wave a magic digital wand on his first day at the beginning of November have already expressed disappointment.

Highfield insists he has a digital strategy but says it would be “premature” to say in any detail how he is going to implement it.

Highfield discusses content dissemination via iPads and other devices (incidentally, JP title the Scotsman launched a £7.99-a-month iPad edition earlier this week), but was less forthcoming about paywall plans (JP dismantled its trial walls in April 2010).

And what about paywalls and charging for online content?

“Watch this space”, is all Highfield will say but, clearly, increasing digital revenues is a central part of the emerging strategy.

The full InPublishing interview is at this link.

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New media types among Evening Standard’s 1000 most influential Londoners

October 7th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Peter Mandelson had to be a last minute addition to the list because the magazine had already gone to press: being offline seems to be a recurring theme for the London Evening Standard’s 1000 most influential Londoners list, out this evening.

Can we get an online version? Can we heck! After time wasted going round the editorial houses through the Evening Standard switchboard, Brighton-based Journalism.co.uk is getting sent a print version.

So in the meantime (till the print copy arrives) here’s the online media and general media types we’ve spotted on the list of 50 that are featured on the website. And it looks like new media gets a fairly good representation.

The little ‘see new media’ under the names almost had us thinking we could click on links… no chance. Well, we’re not in London; we don’t really exist, clearly.

Shiny Media’s three founders are included – and quoted as being “highly influential in the UK online world”. They aren’t among the very top 50, but you can see a scanned in bit of the list on the Shiny blog.

Media/Online types from the top 50:

  • Nikesh Arora, GOOGLE, EUROPEAN VP: Boss of the internet giant’s most important base outside California, bringing in close to a billion pounds a year in advertising revenue in the UK. Landed Google job after 17 interviews. (New Media, TV & Radio)
  • Jonathan Ive, 41, APPLE, DESIGN GURU: The world’s most influential product designer, involved in the iPhone and iPod. He is returning to British roots, buying a £2.5 million retreat here. (New Media)
  • Mark Thompson, 51, BBC, DIRECTOR-GENERAL: From deception scandals to swingeing job cuts, Thompson has had to weather many storms while rival broadcasters pitch for a slice of the corporation’s income from the licence fee (Television & Radio)

Outside of the big 50 we’ll have to rely on the Guardian’s Media Monkey for information:

“…chief exec James Murdoch, Ashley Highfield, chief exec of the Kangaroo on-demand TV project and, drum roll please, Evening Standard owner Lord Rothermere, chairman of DMGT! Who’d have thunk that thisislondon.co.uk was such a groundbreaker?

Other media bods on the list were Paul Darce, Rebecca Wade, Ed Richards, Mark Thompson, Simon Cowell, Simon Fuller, Nick Ferrari, Emily Bell, Eric Huggers, Evan Davies, John Humphrys, Jay Hunt, Peter Horrocks, Alexandra Shulman and Gok Wan.”

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MediaGuardian: Erik Huggers to be next BBC future media director

July 15th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Former Microsoft executive Erik Huggers is expected to be confirmed as the replacement for outgoing BBC director of future media and technology Ashley Highfield.

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BBC annual report: executive bonuses remain despite job cuts and calls for management restructure

July 8th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Jobs

The BBC’s executive directors’ pay rose by £708,000 in 2007/8 with pay for the 10 directors totalling £4,960,000, according to figures from the corporation’s annual report.

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, received a bonus of £41,000, while outgoing director of Future Media & Technology Ashley Highfield received £34,000. Director general Mark Thompson rejected the offer of an annual bonus.

Both the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and BECTU have challenged the rises in light of 2,500 proposed job cuts at the corporation announced in October.

“Management should have the decency to show restraint at a time when so many BBC staff are under huge pressures following major cutbacks. This announcement will only serve to disillusion staff further,” Paul McLaughlin, NUJ broadcasting organiser, said in a statement from the union.

Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, reiterated the need to improve the management structure of bbc.co.uk before approving further investment. In May the site’s management was blamed for losing ‘effective control’ after a £36 million overspend.

More figures from the report:

  • average monthly page impressions for bbc.co.uk are more than 3.6 billion, while weekly unique users average more than 33 million;
  • BBC Mobile is the ‘most accessed’ mobile browser for news, sport and weather in the UK;
  • levels of audience trust in the BBC have remained steady year-on-year with 75 per cent of viewers rating BBC news programming as ‘fair, informed and balanced

BBC Worldwide

Analysis of BBC Worldwide (part of the annual report and separate reviews released) emphasised the importance of online in growing its global audience. The service’s online audience rose 34 per cent year-on-year. However, the review highlighted the failure of Spanish-language site BBC Mundo to meet the demands of increased internet access.

The launch of BBC Arabic came in for particular praise in the review, creating ‘trimedia’ BBC coverage in Arabic:

“With the launch of BBC Arabic television, our multimedia strategy took a giant step forward. That moment in March 2008 marked the successful culmination of a four-year journey to secure funding and deliver a high-quality television service in a vital region of the world.”

Online revenues accounted for 2.7 per cent of total sales for BBC Worldwide in 2007/8 – rising from 1.1 per cent previously, the report said. The creation of bbc.com and syndication deals with YouTube and iTunes were cited as key revenue drivers for the service.

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Google Zeitgeist videos: Salman Rushdie, Chad Hurley, Gordon Brown, Will Lewis, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey…many more

May 23rd, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

Google has just held its two day European Zeitgeist conference in the UK bringing together a host of captivating speakers, here are just a few of the session videos – many more on the Zeitgeist YouTube channel.

Matthew d’Ancona interviews Chad Hurley

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA_Lw9zCT2E]

Sir Salman Rushdie

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka1Y1BY19Vw]

The future of online video panel with Ashley Highfield and others
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKmsUWuh0CU]

Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1acoC5zjgM0]

Content vs community panel part 1 (Inc. Mattias Cohler, Facebook, & William Lewis, editor of The Telegraph)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7awAN8ceIgc]

Content vs community part 2

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aan24cfI1bg]

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FT Digital Media conference: BBC iPlayer stats

February 26th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

According to Ashley Highfield, director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC, the results are looking good for the iPlayer, the BBC’s on demand television service.

Here are the current audience figures Highfield gave delegates at yesterday’s FT Digital Media and Broadcasting conference:

  • 1.3 million weekly audience
  • 660,000 viewers last Sunday
  • the top 50 most popular programmes account for less than 50 per cent of viewings
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