Tag Archives: digital journalism

#GEN2012: ‘If journalism isn’t there to protect people, people get hurt’

Monetisation of digital journalism, described earlier today as the “elephant in this room” by CNN’s Peter Bale, formed the basis of an afternoon session at the News World Summit in Paris today, with a focus on financing investigative journalism.

There was no dancing around the importance of the issue. As Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute put it:

The challenge, as Paul [Steiger] pointed out, is if we don’t do this people die. If journalism isn’t there to protect people, then people will get hurt.

This is not just a matter of economics to keep jobs, this is about economics that support democracy.

I feel passionately that we need more experiments, more subscription models, more donation models. We also need to figure out how we can tell the public the value of investigative journalism … even if they don’t support if financially they can support it in other ways.

He called for more creative solutions. Online it is “going to be increasingly difficult for traditional media”, adding that recent figures showed 68 per cent of online display advertising in the US controlled by the five big technology firms.

Our difficulties are fairly well documented so we need to start looking for some solutions that are different.

Also speaking about the issue on the panel, ProPublica founder Paul Steiger said he expects the decline in print advertising accelerate, “so the challenge of getting more and more revenue from online is going to be greater rather than less”.

He said ProPublica, which is funded largely by donations, is “looking at the possibility of subscriptions, but we need to make all of our stuff accessible and so the challenge is to figure out to how to keep in the conversation and how to find a variety of sources of revenues.”

He added that investigative journalism is significant for democracy and therefore “worth supporting in multiple ways, including charitable contributions”.

Mail Online publisher: ‘If you don’t listen to your users then you’re dead’

Appearing before the joint committee on privacy and injunctions yesterday, Martin Clarke, the publisher of Daily Mail website Mail Online, shared some interesting comments on digital media, in reference to privacy, regulation and general approaches to journalism in a digital world.

The latest results from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (published in December) showed the Mail Online continued its lead ahead of other audited UK news sites with almost 85 million unique browsers in November.

So here is a collection of thoughts shared by Clarke before the committee on issues relating to the impact of the internet on the news industry:


If we were publishing really unpleasant, intrusive stuff our readers wouldn’t like it. One of the beauties of the internet is the feedback you get from your readers is pretty much instant in two ways.

First of all, you can see in real time who’s reading what stories on your homepage … that immediately tells me which ones they’re interested in.

Secondly, we have the comments facility and readers aren’t slow to let us know when they think we’ve been unfair or unpleasant. Quite often I’ve changed tack on a story, or the headline on a story or dropped a picture because of things readers have left in comments. That’s the beauty of the internet, the interaction between you and your readers is that much more immediate. If there were no privacy law no I don’t think it would make that much difference.


You are dealing with an industry that faces big commercial challenges going forward. Digital is how newspapers are going to have to make their living, the economics of the internet are such you probably have to make big chunk of that living abroad. Any further regulation might compromise that, and then quite frankly we won’t really have an industry left to regulate.

… You think of the internet in chunks, press, bloggers, tweeters, but from the consumers point of view that’s not how they consider it. It’s an endless continuous spectrum that starts with what their friends are saying on their Facebook pages, what some tweeter might be saying, to a story they link to in a tweet, then go back on to Facebook page and comment … Pretty soon all those commenting systems are going to be bolted together. Where do you draw the line, where do you say right this bit of the internet is going to be regulated and this bit isn’t?

… We’ve had to wake up and deal, embrace a new reality … The internet is a great way to distribute news, it means newspapers are now back in the business of breaking news … alongside TV and radio and the people who had taken that privilege away from us. It’s gratifying as a journalist to be part of that. Equally it’s brought some negatives …. You can’t turn back the tide, we can’t say stop the internet world we want to get off.

On content:

The reason it’s different from the Daily Mail is because it’s a different market … I’m operating in a digital market where we do get feedback from the readers, I can see in real time what they’re really reading rather than what I might think as journalist they should be reading. In the digital world if you don’t listen to your users, if you don’t involve them, if you don’t listen to their tastes, than you’re dead. We don’t follow that data slavishly, that’s where I come in, it’s my job to mediate the light and the shade. So that’s why it’s different from the Mail.

Equally we do more showbiz…we do vastly more science, we do more political commentary, we do more foreign news because we’re not limited by physical space … It goes back to the point I made right at the beginning, if you’re going for scale you can’t just fit in a niche. You can’t say “we’ll be in the red-top end, or the middle-market or the broadsheet end”. Niches aren’t big enough on the internet to survive, so you have to be a much broader church.

You can watch the session in full on Parliament TV and hear from others who appeared before the committee, including Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group and Phillip Webster, editor of Times Online.

#news2011: Lessons from ‘roadmap for news media’

Consultant Jim Chisholm gave a jam-packed presentation to the Global Editors Network news summit in Hong Kong today.

His presentation (which I will link to here once it is available) offered plenty of facts and figures about the state of the industry across all platforms, but focused on how improving the approach to digital content can also help provide a secure future for more traditional forms.

Here are just some of the messages I took away from his presentation and comments:

1. We have abandoned circulation

“There is no evidence that the internet is the cause of the circulation decline”, he said. According to the statistics for online given in his presentation the rate of ad spend per hour was £8.20 online but £23.50 in newspapers. And the time spent by the audience consuming media was still top for newspapers, although overall this is in decline.

Television is increasing its share but not time, the amount of time internet is consumed is leveling off. People are not spending more time [consuming news] despite all the platforms available.

Print circulation was also said to maintain a key share of revenues, but he said that it “has been forgotten”.

The reason it’s going down is because nobody cares. It is a really serious problem.

2. Mobile opportunities will be higher than predicted

Chrisholm told the conference that “forecasts suggest by 2017 mobile will deliver around 24 per cent of all digital advertising”, but “the forecasts are wrong”, he said, adding mobile use will be a lot higher.

Mobile is a second evolution.

As well as wireless capabilities mobile offers multimedia and location features that can exploit the personalisation trend. Also looking at tablets, he said growth in this area is “absolutely enormous” adding that Le Monde told him “reading times on tablets are as high as those reading print newspapers”.

3. Newsstands could be the way forward, not paywalls

Put simply, “paywalls will not work”, he told the audience. But the newsstand formula could be the answer.

It will work online if everyone works together [and offers content] all in one place. That is a solution that could work. In a competitive market people can choose to go from one place to another.

4. We need to be more obsessive about analytics

He told the audience of editors that journalists may not like to hear it but “the time has come … we have to be obsessive about analytics.”

Because of our reluctance to take on board the concept of analytics, that’s what’s holding back our ability to develop digital. We are not exploiting the medium in the way it is meant to be exploited.

… The reality is unless traditional news media adopt scientific approach to customer retention and intensity, they’re dead.

In conclusion on the topic of analytics he told the audience of editors “you can all do this,” and added that “tailored content will dramatically transform the industry”.

#news2011: Follow the Global Editors Network summit in Hong Kong

Over the next few days I am in Hong Kong to report on the Global Editors Network’s first summit after the organisation launched earlier this year.

The first day of sessions include discussions on topics such as personalisation, lessons from the Arab spring, organising newsrooms with mobile in mind and “the WikiLeaks effect”.

Reports from the conference will be published on Journalism.co.uk. I will also be tweeting from some of the sessions from @journalism_live.

The full schedule for the event is here and there is more information on the planned sessions and speakers at this link.

Finalists of Online Journalism Awards announced

The Online News Association has this week announced the finalists of its Online Journalism Awards for this year. There are more than 100 finalists across 28 categories which produced shortlists.

You can see the full list here. The results will be announced at the 2011 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on 24 September in Boston.

This year, ONA introduced changes to acknowledge the explosion of journalistic innovation on new digital platforms. Entries for all awards were open to news produced for any digital device. Eight awards come with a total of $33,000 in prize money, courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Gannett Foundation, which also is supporting innovative investigative work with two $2,500 awards.

#media140 – Pat Kane keynote speech: Back to basics for journalism industry

Writer, musician and activist Pat Kane opened the #media140 conference today, with a keynote speech focusing on the relationship between traditional news organisations and new media, on both an editorial and business level.

He told the audience that journalists and news organisations are having to decide between the model of the open web, or “move back” to a closed, paid-for network. Or he added, find ways to mix the two.

Newspapers are trying to figure out basic problems of economic survival. There seem to be two pathways opening up, two models to pursue for journalism to survive. One is the move started by Rupert Murdoch initially, with the Times and Sunday Times. He has decided that the age of the free lunch, or free information lunch, for news and the web is over, and wants to try and claim back some of the revenue which has been lost.

On the other side is the Guardian – their attitude is embrace the new open free sharing web, they said let’s use that as a resource for the paper rather than an enemy of the paper.

… At the very least we can say in the current climate and relationship between new media and journalism that there are two quite distinct paths. It is an open question as to what is going to be the best.

He said the open web nature of many news outlets today is “economically troubling, but culturally fantastic”.

Kane, who helped start up the Sunday Herald newspaper in 1999, also discussed the challenges facing traditional news outlets on an editorial basis, such as that in part it “returns journalism back to a sense of its basic ethics”, why are we doing journalism, he asked. Or as he later concludes, new media gives journalists “a boot up the arse”.

Journalism isn’t marginal, it becomes central to the health of an information society. It becomes what you do to keep the society healthy. The problem is for professional journalists, is it becomes a general function of dynamic engaged citizenship. It becomes a new requirement of citizenship, rather than a job paid for by classified ads and about recycling press releases.

Illustrating his point early on with videos filmed by civilians on the ground in countries such as Bahrain, capturing for example protestors being shot as it occurred – “it’s not journalism, its anthropology”, he said.

It could only have been recorded by someone participating in that moment. But what’s interesting is that I found them on a blog on the NewYorker.com. Traditional organisations can still provide a frame for the image and a context for the text.

Quoting social media consultant Joanne Jacobs, he said: “In a world of players and publishers, the only remaining scarcity is referees and editors”, and this, he said, is the strength of an institution, to bring such footage and news to the attention of a busy professional who wants to go to the right place to find the right information. This is the role for journalism, conceived in a new media world, he added.

And if editing and curation is scarce, we should be able to make money out of it, he added, returning to the ongoing question of the business of traditional media in the new media environment. Responding to a question asking if the journalism industry is going “back to square one” in terms of editorial control, he said on he contrary, the internet has brought down many of the barriers to becoming an ‘editor’ in the first place.

Yes the internet is anarchic, and rightly so, but there’s also a concept called heterarchy, which means a lot of structures – as well as chaos. Editorial need to think of itself more ambitiously and not get hung up on normal organisational forms.

The full presentation is available here.

#media140: Follow the event with Journalism.co.uk

Today and tomorrow Journalism.co.uk will be attending the Media140 event in Barcelona. You can see the full agenda for the event here.

Coverage will be available on Journalism.co.uk’s news and blog pages throughout the two day conference, and you can also keep an eye on Journalism.co.uk’s Twitter channels @journalismnews and @journalism_live for other tidbits during the event under the #media140 hashtag.

Picture shows Media-TIC building where Media140 Barcelona is being held.

BetaTales: The digital makeover for journalists

BetaTales suggests a seven-step plan for print journalists wanting to move into digital media, including getting to grips with social networks, online journalism, photo editing and making short video clips.

Step 3: Learn basic photo editing

In big print organizations specialists often take care of the photo editing. So far, at least.  Hardly any web site editorial organization can afford that luxury. Instead it is expected that all journalists know how to crop and photo shop an image. And I tell you: There are hardly any journalists under the age of 30 that do not know photo shopping today at some level.

Full post on the seven-step plan at this link

Guardian: Analysing data is the future for journalists, says Tim Berners-Lee

Speaking in response to recent releases of data by the UK government, Tim Berners-Lee, father of the world wide web, says:

The responsibility needs to be with the press. Journalists need to be data-savvy. It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you’ll do it that way some times.

But now it’s also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.

Agree or disagree?

Full story at this link on Guardian.co.uk…

FT.com: Dow Jones planning digital overhaul of B2B activities

Dow Jones is planning a “digital overhaul” of its business to business activities, reports the Financial Times.

In its report (requires registration), the FT quotes Robert Thomson, Dow Jones’ editor in chief as saying that two editors were assigned to a ‘special project’ in September to focus on “new means of delivering industry-specific information to customers traditionally served by the group’s newswires and data products”.

“It’s obvious to even the casual observer that the part of the business that has slipped a little is B2B. It’s fair to say that that’s the concern which most occupies my thinking at the moment,” he said.