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Fed up, woman breaks up with WIRED

November 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines

In an open letter to Wired magazine published on her blog, Cindy Royal, an assistant professor at Texas State University in San Marcos who teaches web design and multimedia journalism, “breaks up” with the magazine:

When I noticed this month’s issue in my mailbox, I approached it with the same breathless anticipation that I do every month. I didn’t even mind the naked picture of Jennifer Aniston on the GQ subscription insert. I mean, it’s just advertising. You’ve got to make a living, right? Then, I turned you over to see what fascinating topics I would be delighted by this month. Boobs. Right there on the cover. A pair of breasts, no head, no rest of body… just boobs. Sure it accompanied a story on tissue re-engineering, so what other possible way might you visually represent that, but with a pair of breasts? No other possible way?

This isn’t the first time. We’ve been through this before. Your covers aren’t all that friendly to women on a regular basis, and that makes me sad.

To his credit Wired editor Chris Anderson has posted a lengthy reply in the comments:

[T]his problem goes beyond women: we have trouble putting *people* on the cover. It’s the same reason: they have to sell, and what sells for us is either big ideas (sans people) or well-known, likable people with interesting things to say. The problem is that there aren’t enough geek celebrities, so we often end up going with celebrity geeks instead. Our Gates and Zuckerberg cover didn’t sell as well as our Will Ferrell cover. I’m glad we did both, but at the end of the day, we have to work on the newsstand to be a profitable business.

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Wired for iPad edition set for summer launch

February 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Multimedia

Techology magazine Wired is set to release a digital edition for the iPad by summer. Editor-in-chief Chris Anderson announced the planned launch on Friday at the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference (TED) in Long Beach, California. The first iPads are scheduled to go on sale in March.

In a report of the conference on Wired.com, Anderson said: “We have lots of questions about our future. The good news is I think we found part of the answer (…)We think this is a game changer.”

Condé Nast, publisher of Wired announced last year that it would have a digital version of Wired available before the iPad was even official. For the last six months, Wired creative director Scott Dadich has worked with Jeremy Clark from Adobe to design the Wired iPad version.

The conference attendees were given a demonstration by Clark on a supersized iPad using content from the March edition of Wired.

According to Wired coverage, Anderson believes that the iPad “allows periodicals for the first time to do digital content with all of the same values and artistic range that are the hallmark of print magazines”.

Readers would be able to drag left and right to navigate articles; once choosing an article, they would navigate up and down to scroll through the story. By turning the device horizontally the user will also benefit from the rotating display system to view a double-page spread. The device will also have opportunities for interactive advertising.

Anderson did not mention how much the digital edition would cost.

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VentureBeat.com: Wired’s Chris Anderson on a new age of outsourcing

December 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

It looks like Wired editor Chris Anderson is developing a new ‘manufacturing’ theory for entrepreneurs: do it yourself, but outsource everything, Anderson told the Supernova 2009 conference yesterday. “We are entering a new manufacturing age,” said Anderson. “I’ve been thinking about being analogue and the world of manufacturing.”

VentureBeat reports:

“The past decade, Anderson’s latest theory goes, was about figuring out ‘the new weave of our culture’ online without many of the usual organisational or physical boundaries. But the next 10 years will [also] be about learning how to bring those lessons and tools back into the real world. We are now ‘democratizing the tools of production,’ he said. For example, he has a $750 three-dimensional plastic prototype printer in his basement.”

(…)

“The result is that small-scale entrepreneurs can design, manufacture, and sell their own products by outsourcing nearly all of the work.”

More at ZDnet.com…

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Journalism Daily: Reed divestment update and Chris Anderson on the media

July 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism Daily

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features

Ed’s picks

Tip of the day

#FollowJourn

On the Editors’ Blog

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Spiegel Online: Will media be a hobby rather than job, asks Chris Anderson

July 30th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Journalism

“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.”

A great opening gambit from Chris Anderson, editor in chief of US Wired and author of ‘Free’, in an interview with Spiegel Online’s Frank Hornig.

Turns out he doesn’t use the word media or news either – “I don’t think that those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th century.”

Anderson goes on to discuss how he gets his information and the move by the public towards ‘social filters’ rather than professional filters for news:

“We’re tuning out television news, we’re tuning out newspapers. And we still hear about the important stuff, it’s just that it’s not like this drumbeat of bad news,” he says.

Which leads him to the role of journalists:

“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. There is no law that says that industries have to remain at any given size (…) The question is not should journalists have jobs. The question is can people get the information they want, the way they want it? The marketplace will sort this out. “

Full interview at this link…

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Jon Bernstein: Why ITV’s micropayment plan is unlikely to make the Grade

July 15th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

ITV management had better hope Ben Bradshaw’s deeds are as good as his words, because its faith in an another revenue-generating scheme looks misplaced.

Bradshaw, the recently appointed Culture Secretary, told the Financial Times earlier this week that the BBC’s refusal to relinquish licence fee money to aid other broadcasters with a public service remit was ‘wrong-headed’. He said the corporation’s hierarchy would have to come to its senses sooner or later.

While the BBC fights the good fight against ‘ideological’ forces such as these, part of the network gave airtime to a would-be recipient of top-slicing: ITV’s executive chairman, Michael Grade.

On BBC Five Live last Thursday, Simon Mayo asked Grade about the YouTube Susan Boyle affair (some 200 million video views to date).

After describing YouTube’s proposed revenue-share for the Boyle clips as ‘derisory’, Grade insisted ITV wouldn’t get caught out again:

“We are working on it and watch this space, but we’re all going to crack it, either when the advertising market recovers or a combination of advertising and micropayments which is 50p a time or 25p a time to watch it.

“We may move in time, in the medium term, to micropayments, the same way you pay for stuff on your mobile phone. I think we can make that work extremely well.”

(You can listen to the interview on the iPlayer until midnight Wednesday 15 July. Grade interviews starts around 1 hour, 22 minutes.)

Despite Grade’s confidence there are grave doubts that paying per clip is going to work. Here are four reasons to worry:

1. Micropayments don’t work for perishable goods
It’s an argument that has been made against charging for news stories, but it is equally applicable when you are talking about clips from a reality TV programme.

Quality drama may have a shelf-life and an audience willing to pay for it, but a water cooler moment from reality TV? Not likely.

The Susan Boyle phenomenon still feels vaguely current, but it is a passing fad.

If you’re unconvinced take this quick, highly unscientific test: would you pay 50p to watch the machinations of ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman from the first series of Big Brother?

The correct answer: who’s ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman?

2. Micropayments put people off
Writing back in 1996, social scientist Nick Szabo introduced the idea of mental transaction costs. He argued that no matter how small the payment, it still incurs effort on behalf of the potential buyer to work out if he or she is getting a good deal.

He wrote:

“The reason we don’t do the things is that they’re not worth the brain cycles: we have reached the mental accounting barrier.”

And that in a nutshell is why micropayments are doomed to failure.

It’s a theme Chris Anderson touched on in his recently released book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price‘. He wrote:

“It’s the worst of both worlds – the mental tax of a larger price without the commensurate cash. (Szabo was right: Micropayments have largerly failed to take off.)”

Unsurprisingly, Anderson advocates free as a preferable alternative to micro, but he’s not alone. New York professor Clay Shirky is with him.

In fact Shirky has been saying much the same thing since the beginning of the decade and his 2003 essay ‘Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content‘ has become something of a set text.

3. Micropayments only work if you control distribution
ITV’s Grade rightly cites mobile phones as a great platform for micropayments.

The network operator controls what is available via the handset, limiting availability and ensuring prices won’t be undercut.

Further, the operator offers a simple and largely pain-free way of paying for goods by adding the cost to a monthly bill or subtracting it from a top-up on a pay-as-you-go phone.

But the web is different – it’s anarchic, open, a free-for-all.

Nobody controls distribution and despite efforts to chase down copyright abusers, there will always be someone ready to undercut your micropayment with an even smaller charge – free.

Opponents of this reading cite Apple’s iTunes Music Store as proof that micropayments can work on the net. But, as Shirky argued earlier this year, the fee-per-track model works because this is a rare example where no alternative exists.

“Everything from Napster to online radio has been crippled or killed by fiat; small payments survive in the absence of a market for other legal options.”

Further, Apple does control part of the distribution, successfully creating a market for the must-have iPod.

So despite Grade’s assertion, it’s unlikely any micropayment system on the internet will turn out ‘the same way you pay for stuff on mobile phones’.

Incidentally, it will be worth watching to see how the smartphone redefines this divide between the largely ordered phone network and the web.

4. YouTube clips drive traffic first, revenues second
If you think about a clip on YouTube as a direct money maker, you’ve got your priorities wrong.

It’s about reach, exposure and promotion. It’s about creating a buzz and driving traffic back to the core.

Did the Susan Boyle clip achieve this? No question.

For starters, video views at ITV.com were up 528 per cent year-on-year and advertising slots for the duration of the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ season sold out.

Meanwhile, such was the interest around the show, the final was seen by 19.2 million people – ITV’s highest audience since England vs. Sweden in the 2006 World Cup. More eyeballs this year promises high advertising yields next.

In short YouTube kept its part of the bargain.

Would all that have happened had ITV charged 25p a clip? Would 200 million people have checked it out? Will a pay-per-clip Britain’s Got Talent be a winner?

The twist in the tale is that Grade, who steps down as executive chairman at the end of the year, won’t be around to find out.

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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Jon Bernstein: What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

July 8th, 2009 | 16 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

In what may feel like a twist of logic too far, there are a growing number of non-media companies who are adopting the Fourth Estate’s digital business model.

That’s the ad-funded, free-to-the-consumer model.

You know the one.

It’s at the root of the crisis afflicting the newspaper industry around the world, an industry which is trying desperately to make money online. Or at least not haemorrhage it.

To believe the unholy trinity that is News International, Daily Mail and General Trust, and the Guardian Media Group, the media model is unworkable, unsustainable and it’s got to go.

The three are not sure if it should be replaced by paywalls, micropayments, subscriptions or something else entirely.

But what they are agreed on is that it cannot be business as usual. Because that business is going under.

So why do we find the likes of Facebook, Digg and the mighty Google – and perhaps soon Amazon- adopting the ad-funded model to support services and software.

Take Gmail. It’s not a media entity, it’s email, but it is ad-supported.

One answer is that that advertising is the last, desperate (and largely) failing attempt to generate some money, given nobody wants to pay for their products. In short: free reigns.

On that latter point, Wired’s editor-in-chief Chris Anderson is likely to agree.

His new book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price’ – appropriately available to read and listen to online without charge – celebrates ‘freeconomics’, but has a much more positive take on its effect on the business world.

The reason, he says, people are convinced that ad-funded won’t work is because they are applying the conventional rules.

Offline – in newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV and radio – advertising is predicated on scarcity not abundance. Ad sales people trade on ‘space’ and the less there is the higher the yield.

So when there is infinite space online, their greatest selling tool disappears.

Right? Wrong.

Anderson argues that there is another kind of advertising which is epitomised by Google’s text ads:

“Google doesn’t sell space. It sells users’ intentions – what they’ve declared to be interested in, in the form of a search query.

“And that’s a scarce resource. The number of people typing in ‘Berkeley dry cleaner’ on any given day is finite.”

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt – admittedly a man with a vested interest – estimates that the potential market for online advertising is $800bn.

“That’s twice the total advertising market, online and off, today,” notes Anderson.

So why is his tone at such odds with that of the media he is writing about?

Perhaps it has something to do with the production-cycle of book publishing. This book was in train before he had even finished writing the much-admired The Long Tail.

Clearly much of his thinking predates the collapse of Lehman Brothers which sealed our current economic fate.

His penultimate chapter, presumably added very late in the day and titled ‘Coda: Free in a Time of Economic Crisis’, is an acknowlegement of that, although not a denunciation of his core argument.

Just maybe, it’s the down-in-the-mouth media owners who are out of time, not Anderson.

Maybe this rush to find other ways to monetise will be a passing phase and when the economy picks up so too will online advertising revenues.

After all, what’s the alternative?

Pay walls may work for niche information but not for mainstream news and exclusives. That’s something that even the Wall Street Journal, poster child of the paid model, accepts.

Interviewed earlier this year its executive editor Alan Murray said:

“Look, if it’s a big news story, if we report a takeover and – we could hold that behind the pay wall. But if we do, BusinessWeek or someone else will simply write a story saying ‘The Wall Street Journal is reporting x’ and they’ll get all the traffic. Why would we do that?

“So if it’s that kind of a big, broad-interest news story, we’ll put it outside the pay wall and go ahead and take the traffic ourselves, thank you very much.”

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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PDA: Chris Anderson on free vs freemium

July 1st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Kevin Anderson has a nice round-up of US Wired’s editor Chris Anderson’s recent trip to the Guardian’s office, during which the author of soon to be released book ‘Free’, gave his views on charging for online news.

Publishers will need to grow their offerings and should look at building communities around content, according to Chris Anderson.

“One of Wired’s sister publications at Condé Nast, Golf Digest, is thinking about creating a club tied to the magazine. Members could get exclusive lessons or discounted access to courses. Thinking out loud, Anderson said: ‘If Wired was a club, what would that entail?’,” reports PDA.

Anderson also believes people are more likely to pay for relevance than quality.

Full post at this link…

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