Tag Archives: online publishers

Social Media Journalist: “Facebook is overrated. The novelty is wearing off and people are getting bored” Matthew Buckland

Journalism.co.uk talks to reporters across the globe working at the collision of journalism and social media about how they see it changing their industry. This week, Matthew Buckland from Mail & Guardian, South Africa.

image of matthew buckland

1) Who are you and what do you do?
I am Matthew Buckland, the GM of Mail & Guardian Online.

As head of the online division I am responsible for the overall online and mobile strategy, with an overview of editorial, production, technical and online sales.

I am also involved quite heavily in our social media strategies and sites.

2) Which web or mobile-based social media tools do you use on a daily basis and why?
I use Twitter, both web and mobile. I blog on my own blog about online media, web 2.0 and technology, thoughtleader.co.za and sometimes on Poynter’s new media titbits.

I use Mybloglog on my blog quite a bit. I use Facebook web and mobile… but less and less these days. At the end of last year I began using Slideshare to share my presentations and see others. I Digg every now and again, and use a local version, Muti.co.za.

I also keep half an eyeball on Linkedin – but don’t really do it justice. I am an occasional Del.ici.ous user. I use both Flickr and Picasa as online photo albums/photo sharing.

For video sharing I use Youtube, obviously. I’m also a wikipediaholic.

I used SecondLife for about a week, but realised it would be best for my health to shut it down and never look at it again 🙂

Generally I find these social media tools are a good way of networking, sharing ideas and content, and building relationships with people. They also waste a lot of time and create noise in my life.

3) Of the thousands of social media tools available could you single one out as having the most potential for news either as a publishing or newsgathering tool?
I think of all the hyped up social media tools we’ve seen, blogging has shown that it is more than just a fad, but here to stay.

We’ve seen how mainstream online publishers have embraced blogs both as new publishing formats and newsgathering tool with considerable success.

4) And the most overrated in your opinion?

I’m beginning to think Facebook is overrated. The novelty is wearing off and people are getting bored, very quickly.

Online publishers in ‘bullish mood’ despite economic downturn

Digital publishers in the UK saw a 52 per cent growth in total digital revenues last year, according to the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) annual census of its members.

The figures show the industry to be in ‘a bullish mood’ despite holding concerns over the economy’s impact on the industry, said Ruth Brownlee, director of the AOP, in a press release.

With regards to the future of the industry, members said high speed broadband provided the greatest opportunity for their businesses, while competition from non-traditional outlets is perceived as the biggest threat.

When questioned on content distribution 64 per cent of respondents said publishers should make their content available on third party websites, as well as a range of other platforms.

The figures suggest support for this distribution model with increased investment in IPTV (up 30%), mobile (20%), vodcasting (22%), podcasting (17%) and RSS feeds (9%).

The key findings from the census include:

  • members forecast an 8 per cent total business growth with digital expected to grow by 31 per cent;
  • 80 per cent of members expect to increase the number of digital staff hired this year with 62 per cent saying cross-media skills will be significant in the future;
  • revenue from online advertising increased by 33 per cent last year and 80 per cent of those questioned said the current online advertising model was ‘a sustainable revenue stream’;
  • high speed broadband (92%) and behavioural targeting (84%) are viewed as the biggest opportunities for business – other possibilities included content streaming (70%), mobile (74%) and user-generated content (84%).

Just over half of those questioned were in favour of a standard online measurement system – which would be a focus of the AOP’s working groups, Brownlee said.

Yahoo! announces details of targeted advertising service Amp!

Yahoo! has released more details of its forthcoming online advertising system, which will make use of behavioural targeting.

The AMP! system – formerly known as Project Apex – aims to help online publishers in buying and selling advertising across search, display, local, mobile, and video platforms, and will offer partners tools to target ads according to the location, age and interests of consumers.

According to a press release from the company, the system will give publishers and advertisers access to Yahoo!’s own portfolio of websites in addition to more than 600 US newspapers, which are part of the Newspaper Consortium.
The first stage of Amp! will be rolled out to members of the Newspaper Consortium in the third quarter of this year, with plans to extend the service to additional publishers, advertisers, agencies, and ad networks into 2009.

OJR: Using Google Trends to fine-tune your news website

Google’s tool can help online publishers tweak their content to maximize traffic from search engine users, says OJR.

‘Google Trends allows you to select up to five words or phrases, then shows you how those search terms rate relative to one another in both the volume of search queries handled by Google, as well as news references tracked by the search engine. It’s an addictive site for a data geek, like me, and essential for any online publisher who wants to optimize his or her publication to attract more visitors from search engines, such as Google.’

Why you should always pay the writer

To go with the series of features on online copyright on Journalism.co.uk, thought I’d share this ‘rant’ with you on the subject.

Writer Harlan Ellison sums up the issue of publishers using content without permission and/or thinking it should be free.


(The clip, posted to YouTube, is part of the trailer for film Dreams With Sharp Teeth)

I suspect what he says about Time Warner would be echoed by freelancers and agencies dealing with online publishers: “They want everything for nothing. They wouldn’t go for five seconds without being paid and they’ll bitch about how much they are being paid and want more.”

75 per cent of online publishers see vertical search as way to reclaim online community from Google, survey claims

Nearly three quarters of online publishers see the benefit of developing vertical search engines as a way to claw back online communities from Google, a study published last month has claimed.

E-consultancy – with Convera – conducted a survey of search behaviours with over 500 professional and business internet users.

(Vertical search report – register here to get sent it)

As part of the study it asked 116 online publishers what benefits vertical search would bring.

Benefits of vertical search

Nearly 75 per cent of respondents to the question suggested one advantage of offering vertical search across their websites would be to reclaim online communities from Google. Forty two per cent felt this would be a major benefit.

Nearly 94 per cent of publishers felt that vertical search would also benefit sites through improving authority and enhancing brand awareness.

Keeping users on site (87 per cent) and potential to monetise though advertising (83 per cent) also ranked highly as benefits.

The online publishers felt the major disadvantages of vertical search were the hassle of support and maintenance – 71 per cent of respondents saw it as a downside – and that it may point users toward competitors – 69 per cent.

Round-up: Widgety Goodness 2007

The overriding theme at yesterday’s Widgety Goodness conference was: if you produce enough, some are bound to stick.

Widgets were described both as ‘chaff’ by speaker Steve Bowbrick and as existing in an ‘innovate and dump’ industry by Nooked CEO Fergus Burns.

This idea was echoed by speaker Matt Trewhella, an engineer with Google, who said that of 20,000 widgets produced under Google Gadgets, half the total traffic for these is produced by only 150 applications.

Success stories of individual widgets used to promote specific events or products dominated rather than evidence of long-term benefits to site traffic.

“There’s tremendous reach, but unlike Google, high investment can’t guarantee that reach. Success is highly elusive,” the situation was explained by Chris Cunningham, vice president of ad sales at website designers Freewebs.

While compared to a marketing campaign, widgets are relatively inexpensive to produce, yesterday’s speeches suggested that online publishers should be wary about jumping on the widget bandwagon until more is known about the long-term advantages.

Predictions for widgets in 2008:

– widgets will be aware of other widgets you’re using and be able to interact with each other;

– more personalised widgets – though some warnings about how this made lead to overfamiliar advertising were also issued;

– developments in widgets for mobile – though the speakers were still scratching their heads over who would lead the way in this market.

For more thoughts on the event Steve Bowbrick has re-produced his speech, there’s a useful round-up by Roger Warner on the marketing side of the conference.

The NUJ and new media: What’s all the fuss about?

The ‘fuss’ was started by an article from Donnacha Delong, a member of the NUJ‘s multimedia commission, published in the Journalist (we’re still waiting for our copy because of the postal strikes, but you can read the whole thing on Delong’s blog).

The article is an introduction to a report by the NUJ’s commission on multimedia working to be released in full next month and, according to the blogosphere, it makes some sweeping arguments that suggest the NUJ is anti-digital media.

Communities editor of Telegraph.co.uk Shane Richmond’s initial reaction to the article on his blog described it as ‘scaremongering’, ‘reactionary’ and ‘badly-argued’.

In a further blog post, Richmond takes to task the whole spread of articles on convergence in the Journalist in which Delong’s article features. He challenges several of the ideas it raises, including:

  • that journalists need protection from new media
  • that online publishers replicate their competitors producing “a dull uniformity of content and presentation”
  • that the online medium restricts design and opportunities for user experience

Jeff Jarvis, whose first reaction to the NUJ’s article was that it was a “whiny, territorial, ass-covering, protecting-the-priesthood, preservation-instead-of-innovation faux” report, is now urging a different approach.

In an updated post on Buzzmachine Jarvis writes that “if you’re a union representing journalists today, you probably don’t know which way is up and who’s the enemy and what you’re fighting for. All the old reflexes and relationships are archaic.”

The idea that the NUJ’s structure as a union body needs to be adapted to better accommodate online journalism is echoed by Roy Greenslade, who has resigned from the NUJ in reaction to its approach to digital media.

As Greenslade says in his blog:

“[Shane] Richmond rightly points to the NUJ’s underlying assumption that the net is a threat to journalism when, of course, it is much more a threat to the union itself. Why? Because the union, as with the print unions of old, cannot possibly adapt to meet the revolutionary demands of a new technology.”

The debate is spreading – as a round-up by Shane Richmond shows even US site Valleywag has picked it up.

Final verdicts await given that the full report won’t be available until mid-November we are assured.

In the mean time take a look at Martin Stabe’s summary of the commission’s initial findings, which points out the following:

“The commission’s survey on NUJ chapels found that 50 per cent of chapels had experienced redundancies since the web operation was introduced; 75 per cent of chapels said their workloads had increased; 37 per cent said journalists were working longer hours. Only 34 per cent said the quality of new media was professional, 52 per cent called it adequate, and 14 per cent said it was poor.”

While the union’s structure and attitude to online journalism should and is being scrutinised throughout the blogosphere, if some of the experiences of journalists found by the commission and reported by Stabe are true then these are worrying developments that the industry must act upon. Unfortunately, these articles suggest that the NUJ may not be fit to do this.