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Global Voices Online: Finding alternative revenue streams as a non-profit org

July 31st, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Like all other media organisations in times of economic crisis, Global Voices ‘has to be creative and innovative when it comes to thinking of ways to sustain our organisation,’ writes managing director Georgia Popplewell in a blog post.

GV,  a non-profit community of over 200 bloggers, provides reports from citizen media and blogs around the world. Its funders can be found here. But now the organisation is exploring other source of revenue too: content commissions and underwriting, advertising, consulting and online donations. Popplewell outlines the developments in the post, and calls for further ideas.

Full post at this link…

NB: I am an occasional contributor for Global Voices. If you’ve got story ideas about citizen media in the UK which I can follow up for Journalism.co.uk and GV please get in touch: judith@journalism.co.uk. I am currently looking into examples of asylum seekers in the UK using online media to raise awareness of their situations.

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FT.com: ‘There will be a transition to people paying for the internet,’ says Liberty Media chairman

A couple of things extremely pertinent to the paid content debate in a ‘view from the top’ interview on FT.com.

It’s with Liberty Media chairman, John Malone, described by the FT’s Richard Milne as ‘one of the most powerful figures in the media world’. He controls a ‘sprawling empire of assets’ including  DirecTV, the Discovery Channel, QVC, the Atlanta Braves baseball team and a company focused on Cable TV, Liberty Global.

Two extracts from the interview:

“How bad is the outlook for the media industry right now?”

“The media has lots of different elements in it. Probably at the bottom would be local, because local advertising has been the most adversely affected. Newsprint is probably the most damaged media going forward. Cable television has been OK. It continues to grow, a little slower than we’d like. The broadcast networks are getting beaten up, but not as bad on their national side as on their local side (…)”

and:

A big debate in media is: can you get consumers to pay for online content?

“There will be a transition to people paying for [the] internet. Unfortunately, a lot of the people promoting the internet have other monetisation theories, such as search, which is ‘free’ to the consumer. Believe me, it’s not free to the retailer. The real question is: can you get people to pay for content on the internet? That will happen over time. If you’re a newspaper publisher and you’re giving information free on the internet and charging a subscription fee [for the paper], I don’t understand the logic.”

Full interview at this link…

And this:

“Long or short? Newspapers? Short James Murdoch? Long Hedge fund regulation? Long Share prices? Neutral The European economy? Short Nicolas Sarkozy? Long Ben Bernanke? Long Barack Obama’s healthcare plan? Disaster – short Twitter? Neutral Barry Diller? Long.”

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FT.com: Birmingham Post ‘might cease daily publication’

July 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

At the weekend the FT reported that Birmingham Post might cease daily publication after 152 years, ‘becoming the first flagship newspaper of a large city to go weekly in response to the recession and competition from online media.’

“The circulation of the Birmingham Post has dropped from 18,500 to 12,700 since 2000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Locally, a fully paid circulation of less than 7,000 is spoken of. It is understood that options studied by Trinity Mirror, which owns the white-collar morning title, include converting the lossmaking publication into a weekly title. The media group might publish the Birmingham Mail, an evening newspaper with a blue-collar readership, in the mornings instead. This would trigger wide-ranging redundancies, from delivery drivers to newsagents and journalists in a newsroom that services several titles.”

Full story at this link…

Yesterday, the Press Gazette’s Grey Cardigan said his sources back the report:

“I knew that sales were poor, but I didn’t realise that paid-for copies had dropped to fewer than 7,000 – a claim made by the FT and stood up by my own sources this morning. (Just what you want on the golf course early on a Sunday – a call from Mr Cardigan suggesting that you’re about to lose your job.”

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ABCNews: Journalism students ‘don’t read papers’

This, from Australian news broadcaster, ABC: “a survey of Australian journalism students found 90 per cent of students do not like reading the newspaper, preferring to source news from commercial television or online media.

ABC reports that “the journalists of the future are rapidly moving away from traditional news services, saying they are impractical compared to new media.”

Full story at this link…

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Tweet stream of the #cfund debate: ‘New business models for media’

February 19th, 2009 | 5 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

A Twitter debate kicks off this morning at 10am London time, organised by Alexandre Gamela (@alexgamela), which looks at ‘new business models for media’

“We do not want to discuss just the transition from traditional to online media and their revenue sources, but how money can be made online by independent bloggers and journalists too,” Gamela writes on his blog.

You can follow via CoverItLive, or make use of the Tweet stream below.

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Online Journalism Scandinavia: Online media play crucial role in Iceland’s fleece revolution

January 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

On Monday, Iceland’s coalition government collapsed under the strain of an escalating economic crisis.

However, because of widespread cross-ownership, Icelandic media is not only feeling the impact of the crisis on its advertisement revenues; it’s in the eye of the storm, and angry Icelanders have turned to turn to the web to inform each other, organise anti-government rallies and vent their frustrations.

“It’s a grassroots revolution,” said Andri Sigurðsson, a blogger and web developer.

He explained that Iceland had seen a surge in political blogs in the wake of the financial turmoil, and that people had turned to using web tools such as Facebook and Twitter to organise demonstrations and protests.

With so many people losing their jobs, this year the island is facing the highest unemployment in decades. Some have turned to blogging full time – the blogger behind Newsfrettir, for example, has started translating Icelandic news to English after being made redundant in October.

Since the country’s biggest newspaper, Fréttablaðið, along with a large portion of the rest of Icelandic media, is controlled by Baugur (the ailing investment company that also owns a large stake in Iceland’s and the UK’s retail industry); and the second biggest newspaper, Morgunblaðið, has been controlled by Björgólfur Guðmundsson (owner and chairman of West Ham FC and chairman of Landsbanki, the bank embroiled in the Icesave scandal)… the whole situation gets rather complicated.

“We’re trying to cut all our connections to Baugur. You know, the sugar daddy behind DV and Fréttablaðið was Baugur, but the sugar daddy behind Morgunbladid was Björgólfur Guðmundsson? Every media here has its problem. We had Baugur’s Jon Asgeir Jóhannesson, they have Björgólfur,” said Reynir Traustasson, editor-in-chief of Icelandic tabloid DV, pictured right.

It is against this backdrop that political blogs such as the conservative AMX.is and the socialist-green Smugan.is have grown in popularity. However, Fréttablaðið’s editor-in-chief Jón Kaldal, does not see the surge in independent sites for news and opinion as a threat to mainstream media.

“None of these are doing investigative reporting; they are just repeating what has been written elsewhere. It is an outlet for gossip and rumours. But certain internet sites have worked well to get information out of the government. When gossip breaks out on these sites, the government is forced to come out of hiding,” he said.

Yet Kaldal was not optimistic about the times ahead:

“The whole society of Iceland is in a very strange place at the moment. It’s like we’re engulfed in a thick fog, and we don’t know quite how the world will look like when it lifts. Always in a recession or downturn there is a stronger demand for effect in advertisement. The strong grow stronger during a recession. But the situation here on Iceland is so critical that I don’t know if that’s enough.”

Read more about online journalism and the media in Scandinavia at this link.

Images in this post used with the author’s permission. For more of Kristine’s Iceland images visit Flickr.

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OMC09: Levies for aggregators?

January 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

Interesting suggestion from National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary and Oxford Media Convention panellist, Jeremy Dear, that content aggregators should be subject to levies.

Dear said the union is opposed to state aid for local media and the relaxation of local media regulation rules, but would consider introducing a levy for those who ‘do not produce content, but live off the back of those who do’.

New media and digital technology is not a threat to journalism – the danger is people who treat news and information as just a commodity, he said.

Online media is becoming dominated in the same ways as traditional media, he added.

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Dear said the idea is discussed in a report set for release next week, which focuses on public service broadcasting.

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Jeremy Dear responds to regional media/BBC Local row

October 27th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Following coverage of last week’s comments by National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chief Jeremy Dear, about his bemusement with the regional press’ opposition to the BBC’s proposals to extend local video offerings online, the general secretary has responded, saying that there’s ‘room for everyone’ in the regional market.

“My point is that the local newspapers campaign is for their own vested interests – they don’t care about ensuring local people have a variety of sources of news, comment and entertainment. They want to be able to capture the market themselves. I fully support the newspapers’ expansion in to online media and I hope they capture a significant part of the audience – but it has to be done through quality content, with enough staff and resources to win ‘eyeballs’ not by stopping the licence fee payer being able to access BBC local services,” he writes in a blog post.

Dear adds that he has replied to a letter from Trinity Mirror’s director of corporate communications about his remarks, but is yet to receive a response:

“I simply asked him the question that if we believe in media plurality and we accept that commercial local TV and radio can exist alongside the BBC what is so different about online?”

Regional newspaper publishers have previously told Journalism.co.uk that ‘enough staff and resources to win “eyeballs”‘ would be a much easier prospect if a £68 million, five-year investment plan was available.

The final decision on the plans is fast approaching – it’s scheduled for February 25 2009 – and perhaps now is the time for the regional press to ask themselves what can be done if their opposition fails.

Is there potential for collaboration with the BBC online, and could this drive further innovation by regional titles online in response to the competition? Or will approval of the scheme lead to a reduction in online investment by the regional media?

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WAN Amsterdam: What have newspapers done to build new audiences?

October 17th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The 11th Readership Conference is addressing building new print, as well as digital audiences (not just stopping the old readers running away). So how exactly have newspapers across the world successfully built up new audiences? (Quotes and information courtesy of the WAN conference updates)

The Telegraaf in the Netherlands has used sport and social networking

  • Using Hyves.net they used the network’s ‘send to a friend’ function and a widget for users’ home pages that allowed them to see how they were performing against their friends. The contest had 170,000 participants: 110,000 through Hyves and 60,000 through the Telegraaf’s sports site, Telesport.
  • For the Olympics, the Telegraaf provided editorial content to a Hyves web section dedicated to the events which included blogs from Telegraaf reporters in Beijing and other stories from the Telegraaf sports team in Amsterdam.

Lara Ankersmit, publisher for online media, at the paper, said the partnership provided strong branding tied to popular sports events, and more than 170,000 registrations and e-mail addresses.

The Verdens Gang newspaper company in Norway has increased revenue while losing readers

  • A graph of VG’s print circulation decline over the past several years looks like a ski slope – it dropped 20 percent since 2002. But, at the same time, profit increased from 270 million Norwegian krone (31 million euros) to 365 million krone (41 million euros).
  • The approach is ‘continuous product diversification and improving production efficiency considerably’ through new prodcucts such as social networks, and doing more marketing: VG spends 10 million euros annually on market examination.
  • It pays more attention to distribution. Ensuring good product placement at sales outlet is one important focus, as is establishing new outlets, such as coffee shops.

Torry Pederson, CEO of VG said that good journalism that attracts attention, on all platforms. “Don’t cut down on journalistic resources to cover the important stories,” he said.

The Bakersfield Californian is focusing on who isn’t reading the paper

  • In five years, it went from having no weekly newspapers to having three, from no magazines to three magazines, from one website to 11 websites. It created three subsidiaries and built its own social media software.
  • Alongside market research there was commitment to invest in new product development – at least 1 per cent of revenues each.
  • New products recaptured six of the eight percentage points in consumer reach lost by The Californian. It increased non-core revenue from 1 per cent to 12 per cent.

Mary Lou Fulton, vice president of audience development at the paper said “Before, we focused primarily on the circulation, profitability and content of our daily newspaper (…) The essential shift in thinking was to become interested in who was not reading the newspaper or advertising in it. That was a big wake-up call.”

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WAN Amsterdam (audio): Mobile is not emerging: it’s here and we know how to monetise it, say speakers at Digital Revenue Goldmine

October 16th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Mobile, Online Journalism

A range of mobile experts at the WAN World Digital Publishing Conference gave a more optimistic picture than at the AOP summit earlier this month, where speakers, including ITV’s head of mobile, said that we are still waiting for the year of mobile.

But in Amsterdam, just a few weeks later, that sentiment was turned on its head. That next year will be the year of mobile is what people have said each year for five years, said Ilicco Elia, head of mobile for Reuters. No, ‘it’s here’, he told the assembled range of newspaper experts at the World Digital Publishing Conference 2008.

Where as Elia once was employed in ‘emerging media’ for Reuters, he now very much part of the mainstream product: “mobile has since emerged,” he said.

Elia certainly objected to one of Martha Stone’s slides during her presentation on online media, which said ‘mobile advertising to become a real business in a few years’. ‘My boss will shoot me, if he sees that’ he said. Elia’s been telling him that is already the case for a while; it is a real business.

While Elia stressed that he did not think “you should be going into mobile to make a lot of money immediately.” He said, “you can make more and more money slowly, slowly. Integrate into the rest of your products and it will come.”

His presentation touched on examples where Reuters have successfully monetized mobile: in the IBM ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing’ campaign (a slogan that should be applied to mobile, Elia said); by using Nokia phone cameras on for fast and effective reporting, and for widgets on iGoogle.

To think about search engine optimisation (SEO) is “a complete and utter given,” he said.
“You have to do it – SEO and SE marketing – and it is a cheap way to send people to your site,” he said.

The other mobile speakers sharing the stage, Jorma Härknönen, the senior vice president at MTV Media in Finland, responsible for internet and consumer businesses said were of similar opinion and Fredrik Oscarson, the founder and VP new business director for Mobiento, a Sweden based mobile marketing agency, were of similar opinion.

“Give it five years time, and I think people will choose to surf news on the mobile, because the mobile will have functionality [e.g GPS] that the internet doesn’t,” Fredrik Oscarson told Journalism.co.uk.

A short interview with Oscarson can be listened to here. He talks about mobile content for newspapers and different ways of advertising on mobile.

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