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News of the World paywall to be launched in October, report claims

August 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The News of the World website will go behind a paywall in October, with the Sun to follow, according to a report today by newmediaage.co.uk (article requires subscription). News International are refusing to comment on the claim.

The news was also picked up by mad.co.uk who reported that the paywalled sites will be offered at an “introductory” rate during the first month.

News of the World’s transition to a paid content model will hinge on exclusive video content, distributed across an overhauled site and app.

Yesterday Media Week reported on figures from ComScore, which suggested that unique users of the the Times and Sunday Times websites, which were put behind a paywall in July, have fallen from 2.79 million in May to 1.61 million in July.

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NLA’s High Court action no cause for concern, say Meltwater and PRCA

May 25th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Aggregator Meltwater and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) have said they remain confident that the courts will support their case in the dispute with the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) over new licence fees, despite the NLA’s decision to take the matter to the High Court.

Yesterday the NLA said it had started proceedings against Meltwater and the PRCA to help speed up the process of determining whether its new licences – introduced in January, which affect commercial services using links to its newspaper members’ content – are legal. Meltwater and the PRCA have referred the licences and the NLA to a Copyright Tribunal, but the agency is concerned that the Tribunal does not have the powers to make the ultimate decision on the licences’ legality.

The PRCA and Meltwater released the following joint statement:

Having initially learned about the NLA’s decision to take Meltwater and the PRCA to court through the press, both parties have only just received the papers concerning this claim.

While we understand that the industry will want clarification on this issue, we do not see this development as cause for concern.

Naturally, we are reviewing the papers in consultation with our legal advisors. But not wishing to prejudice our case with the Copyright Tribunal, which we believe to be strong, we will study the NLA’s claim before responding.

We remain confident, however, that the NLA’s proposals for a web licence are flawed and that the courts will support our views on this.

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#wmf: The general news business is dead; RIP, says Mirror’s digital director

May 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Digital content director for the Mirror Group Matt Kelly is well-known for his provocative speeches – see his talk to the World Association of Newspapers’ annual congress in December in which he said online newspapers had prostituted themselves online and treated SEO as “the be-all and end-all of online publishing”, devaluing readers in the process.

We’ll be reporting his remarks in full shortly from today’s Westminster Media Forum event ‘The Future of News Media’ (as well as Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow’s optimistic note for journalists), including what he told Journalism.co.uk about Mirror.co.uk’s plans for more niches building on its Mirror Football and 3am.

But for starters:

  • “The general news business is dead. If all you have to peddle is general news, then rest in peace.”
  • “Newspapers aren’t in the sharp news game; we haven’t been for some time. We are in the audience business.”
  • “Thirty million customers [online] and no profit isn’t what I’d call a business.”
  • “Publishers need to re-establish in our online businesses that sense of value, brand and uniqueness that we have taken so much trouble to do in print.”
  • “The newspaper industry is far from blameless in this situation [free content online]“

More to follow…

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Shane Richmond: The value of reader comments to online newspapers

April 23rd, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Telegraph Media Group’s head of technology Shane Richmond weighs in on a debate about the value of comments left by readers on newspaper websites.

Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis recently suggested a turnaround in his view on reader comments: “I defended [newspaper] comments for years. But the problem is that comments are too often the voice of assholes.” He added in a blog post: “[C]omments are an insult because they come only after media think they’re done creating a product, which they then allow the public to react to.”

This prompted a response from Ilana Fox, who ran online communities for the Sun and Mail Online, disagreeing with Jarvis and arguing that the majority of people interacting with newspapers online aren’t “assholes” at all.

Richmond says both are right – his post is worth reading in full – and makes a particular point about the effect of journalists’ involvement in comment threads:

Jeff makes the point that inviting readers in after the fact is disrespectful, which is what leads to the unconstructive nature of much commenting. But I’ve noticed that engagement by journalists breeds a culture of respect. If journalists join the conversation, they are more likely to be respected by readers.

I don’t think the “true collaboration” that Jeff would like to see is a replacement for commenting. Many people are happy to comment and don’t want to do more. True collaboration builds on the work we’ve done so far. And it is a goal that many of us are working towards.

Full post at this link…

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Currybet.net: Reviewing online student newspapers

February 4th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Training

Martin Belam is taking a look at the online efforts of the UK’s student newspapers, as part of a series of posts looking at the digital journalism trainees currently in academia and those that have recently graduated.

Some great tips here from a user’s point of view about the design of the newspapers websites – one to watch for student journalists.

Full post at this link…

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MediaPost: Online newspapers – ‘The trusted brands will survive’

June 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

“Like the Good Housekeeping seal, newspapers have become the assumed guarantee of credible news and information, by other media, businesses and consumers as well. Leveraging this brand trust, the entire public relations industry is interested in earning newspaper coverage for companies that seek to improve their public identity,” argues Andy Ellenthal in this piece.

According to Ellenthal, who, it should be pointed out, is CEO of ad network quadrantONE, public trust in newspapers’ brands has been boosted by their ability to capture audiences on and offline.

Backed up with stats from a recent Online Publishers Association (OPA) study, Ellenthal says this trust drives readers to make purchases based on ads carried by these titles.

“Carrying over from their print-based parents, the public has formed a trusted bond with the newspaper websites of their community, more so than with other media,” he adds.

Outside of the OPA research – is this the case in the US and beyond? As regional newspaper resources are cut is it still true to suggest that these are the most trusted brands on/offline?

Perhaps in terms of advertising they still are, as the ad industry remains largely conservative in its choice of medium and advertising models for niche and independent information websites are still being tinkered with.

Regional journalists – what are your experiences? Is there more newspapers could be doing (or you are already doing) to build trust with audiences online?

Full article at this link…

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Todd Gitlin’s keynote JiC speech transcript: The four wolves who crept up to journalism’s door

Following our round-up of the Westminster students coverage of last week’s Journalism in Crisis conference, we’ll link to one final item:

Professor Todd Gitlin’s keynote speech, given via Skype, on the first day of the Westminster University / British Journalism Review Journalism in Crisis event (May 19):  ‘A Surfeit of Crises: Circulation, Revenue, Attention, Authority, and Deference’.

Gitlin, who is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, talked about how four wolves have arrived at the door of journalism ‘simultaneously, while a fifth has already been lurking for some time’. These were the wolves no-one was expecting, because everyone’s been crying wolf for so long. Gitlin spoke mainly in regards to American journalism because ‘it is what I know best’.

He used quotes and statistics from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism ‘Changing Newsroom’ 2008 report, and also his own anecdotal evidence and academic references, to illustrate the predicament – which he feels is fair to call a number of ‘crises’ – that journalism faces.

Here are a few choice extracts:

  • The four wolves at the door, and the fifth one lurking: “One is the precipitous decline in the circulation of newspapers.  The second is the decline in advertising revenue, which, combined with the first, has badly damaged the profitability of newspapers. The third, contributing to the first, is the diffusion of attention.  The fourth is the more elusive crisis of authority. The fifth, a perennial – so much so as to be perhaps a condition more than a crisis – is journalism’s inability or unwillingness to penetrate the veil of obfuscation behind which power conducts its risky business.”
  • Circulation of newspapers: “Overall, newspaper circulation has dropped 13.5 per cent for the dailies and 17.3 per cent for the Sunday editions since 2001; almost 5 per cent just in 2008.  In what some are calling the Great Recession, advertising revenue is down – 23 per cent over the last two years – even as paper costs are up.  Nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone.  Foreign bureaus have been shuttered – all those of the Boston Globe, for example, New England’s major paper.
  • “I have been speaking about newspapers’ recent decline, but to limit the discussion to the last decade or so both overstates the precipitous danger and understates the magnitude of a secular crisis—which is probably a protracted crisis in the way in which people know—or believe they know—the world.  In the US, newspaper circulation has been declining, per capita, at a constant rate since 1960. The young are not reading the papers.  While they say they ‘look’ at the papers online, it is not clear how much looking they do.”
  • “The newspaper was always a tool for simultaneity (you don’t so much read a paper as swim around in it, McLuhan was fond of saying) at least as much as a tool for cognitive sequence.  What if the sensibility that is now consolidating itself—with the Internet, mobile phones, GPS, Facebook and Twitter and so on – the media for the Daily Me, for point-to-point and many-to-many transmission—what if all this portends an irreversible sea-change in the very conditions of successful business?”
  • The Clamor for Attention: “Attention has been migrating from slower access to faster; from concentration to multitasking; from the textual to the visual and the auditory, and toward multi-media combinations.  Multitasking alters cognitive patterns.  Attention attenuates.  Advertisers have for decades talked about the need to ‘break through the clutter,’ the clutter consisting, amusingly, of everyone else’s attempts to break through the clutter.  Now, media and not just messages clutter.”
  • “Just under one-fifth of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 claim to look at a daily newspaper – which is not to say how much of it they read. The average American newspaper reader is 55 years old. Of course significant numbers of readers are accessing – which is not to say reading – newspapers online, but the amount of time they seem to spend there is bifurcated.  In roughly half of the top 30 newspaper sites, readership is steady or falling.  Still, ‘of the top 5 online newspapers –  ranked by unique users – [the] three [national papers] reported growth in the average time spent per person: NYTimes.com, USAToday.com, and the Wall Street Journal Online.’ One thing is clear:  Whatever the readership online, it is not profitable.”
  • “The question that remains, the question that makes serious journalists tremble in the U. S., is:  Who is going to pay for serious reporting?  For the sorts of investigations that went on last year, for example, into the background of the surprise Republican nominee for Vice President, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.”
  • Authority: “Journalism’s legitimacy crisis has two overlapping sources: ideological disaffection from right and left, and generalized distrust. Between them, they register something of a cultural sea change.  The authority of American journalism has, for a century or so, rested on its claim to objectivity and a popular belief that that claim is justified. These claims are weakening.”
  • Deference: “We have seen in recent years two devastating failures to report the world – devastating not simply in their abject professional failures but in that they made for frictionless glides into catastrophe.  The first was in the run-up to the Iraq war (…) More recently, we have the run-up to the financial crisis (…) Given these grave failures of journalism even when it was operating at greater strength not so long ago, one might say that rampant distrust is a reasonable and even a good thing.”
  • Resolutions: “The Project on Excellence’s conclusion is that ‘roughly half of the downturn in the last year was cyclical, that is, related to the economic downturn. But the cyclical problems are almost certain to worsen in 2009 and make managing the structural problems all the more difficult.’ Notice the reference to ‘managing the structural problems.’  They cannot be solved, they can only be managed.  The unavoidable likelihood, pending a bolt from the blue, is that the demand for journalism will continue to decline and that no business model can compensate for its declining marketability.  No meeting of newspaper people is complete these days without a call – some anguished, some confident – for a ‘new business model’ that would apply to the online ‘paper.’  The call has been issued over the course of years now.  It might be premature to say so, but one might suspect that it has not been found because there is none to be found.”
  • “What I do know is that journalism is too important to be left to those business interests. Leaving it to the myopic, inept, greedy, unlucky, and floundering managers of the nation’s newspapers to rescue journalism on their own would be like leaving it to the investment wizards at the American International Group (AIG), Citibank, and Goldman Sachs, to create a workable, just global credit system on the strength of their good will, their hard-earned knowledge, and their fidelity to the public good.”

Full transcript at this link…

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Mansfield News Journal: Why can’t newspapers go offline, asks reader

April 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

An impractical suggestion for newspapers made in a letter to the Mansfield News Journal:

“Why can’t newspapers have this practice [online publishing] discontinued, and then they can go back to the old-fashioned way of publishing their paper and regain their subscribers and advertisers?”

Followed by a more legitimate concern about the relationship between online newspapers and democracy:

“If newspapers are forced to stop publishing, there won’t be any information to be placed on the internet.”

While there would still be information from a range of sources if newspapers were taken out of the picture, how would the quality of this information be perceived by the reader, such as the writer of this letter?

Full letter at this link…

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WAN 2008: Print and online newspapers on the rise

June 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Newspapers, Traffic

The online consumption of newspapers has risen by 20% in the last year and by 100% over the last three years, according to stats released at the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference.

The World Digital Media Trends report – collected by 71 research companies and covering 232 countries – also suggested a 13.77% rise in the number of newspaper websites in the world bringing the total to 4,500.

52% of readers who view newspaper websites spend the same amount of time reading newspapers, according to the stats; while 35% say the time they spend with either print or online newspapers has increased.

Figures presented for print circulation worldwide presented an equally positive picture.

The circulation of paid for print dailies rose by 2.98% last year with the total number of titles increasing by 27.22%.

573,235,00 paid and free newspapers are distributed every day and 1.75 billion people read a print edition a day.

Print circulation in China, India and Latin America also showed growth.

Presenting the figures, WAN chairman Timothy Balding said these were just the facts, without sentiment or analysis.

And while figures pointing out that revenue in the advertising industry is still dominated by the print went hand in hand with the positivity of the circulation figures, follow-up sessions at the conference on integration and the challenges of web 2.0 to newspapers will perhaps paint a more cautious picture.

As Christophe Pleitgen, head of news for Reuters UK, told delegates in a later session:

“We are living on borrowed time. In a sense, some of us may have more time, while colleagues in the US would say it is high time. It’s great that newspaper editors are optimistic about the future. They have gotten on with integrating their newsrooms – doing that is more urgent than most of us think.”

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Guardian most popular newspaper website in UK, according to Nielsen Online

May 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Traffic

Some significant differences between the figures for unique users visiting UK newspaper sites released by Nielsen Online today and those announced by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) last week.

While both rank the Guardian as the most popular in the UK, Nielsen’s figures suggest the site attracted 3 million unique users in the UK in April compared to 7,762,826 recorded by the ABCe.

The Telegraph attracted 2.7 million UK uniques in April, according to Nielsen – around 3.5 million less than the figure reported by the ABCe.

By the Nielsen figures the Sun attracted 1.9 million UK unique users, the Times 1.8 million and the Daily Mail 1.7 million over the same period.

Nielsen calculates its traffic figures using a panel-based method called NetView, which the company describes as ‘around 45,000 UK internet users who have opted in to download a meter which records all their PC, online and application usage on a continual and ongoing basis.’

In contrast, websites register themselves with the ABCe, which then audits data on web traffic recorded by the sites.

Very different methods – very different results.

Interestingly Nielsen also provides data on the ‘engagement’ of UK unique users with a site, differentiating between ‘heavy’ (>15 minutes), ‘medium'(>5 – >=15 minutes) and ‘light'(<=5 minutes) users.

The results of this analysis suggest the most popular online newspapers – the Guardian and Telegraph – have the highest percentage of light visitors (with 83%and 81% respectively).

The results for engagement in full:

Sun: 14% heavy, 16% medium, 70% light
Times: 13% heavy, 17% medium, 70% light
Daily Mail: 12% heavy, 14% medium,75% light
Telegraph: 7% heavy, 12% medium, 81% light
Guardian: 6% heavy, 11% medium, 83% light

The figures suggest that the Times is the only title to have gained in ‘heavy’ users since January 2008, while the Telegraph has recorded the biggest increase in ‘light’ users over the same period.

As Stephen Brooks, UK managing director for Nielsen Online, pointed out in the release: “Analysing the Telegraph’s audience by heavy, medium and light visitors reveals their dramatic growth in popularity is concentrated around light users, which could be due to the site’s improved visibility in search results,”

“This encapsulates the ‘reach vs engagement’ conundrum that newspaper sites face – is the best path to financial success attracting the most visitors or having a smaller core of more engaged users?”

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