Posts Tagged ‘News’
May 11th, 2011
This is my first blog post after a lovely break with my family. It’s always great to down tools and spend quality time with loved ones. The only problem is that in the industry you can easily fail behind with platform, SEO, and digital news in general, leaving knowledge gaps.
So in an attempt to fill the gaps, and after trawling my feeds, here is my take on what’s gone on while I’ve been away, in no particular order. Please leave any other worth while reading in the comments section of this post.
May 27th, 2010
Two very interesting stories caught my eye this week in the world of traditional and online news consumption. The first is that The Times, and Sunday Times, launched redesigned websites and will begin charging next month after offering registered users a free trial for four weeks. The Guardian has done a good write up.
To my mind these two announcements couldn’t have been better timed as they show how the consumption of news is changing (at least in the U.S), next to the reaction of a traditional media outlet to this change.
I’ve gone on record in the past and said that switching to a paid-for content model, with only minor changes to the offering, is often an old-media reaction to a new media problem, i.e. ‘Our content is available online for free, and we’re losing money, so let’s charge for the content – that will work!’ Well, yes it would, assuming those that currently consume your content are willing to pay for it, or at least a certain percentage are willing to pay.
The obvious issue with this approach is most are not willing to pay for the content as it’s not really differentiated from the reams of other content that is accessible online for free. Plus, if you really want to get paid-for content for free, there are always ways in which you can do that, as long as you don’t want immediate access to it.
So, will The Times new website help in its objective of securing enough paying customers? Well, on the face of it the new website is pretty good, it’s been relatively well received, but when asked if you would pay for it, the majority have said ‘no’. That pretty much tells its own story. The Sunday Times has a loyal following, but the majority of those followers are hardcopy readers, and I don’t feel the Times brand has enough of a loyal following online, nor is the new website embracing the opportunities to become ‘social’ although it will likely gain revenue at least until more of the UK’s national newspapers follow suit and there is then a more level playing field.
To help understand this change in policy from The Times, and more accurately News International, let’s look at what the Pew research* can tell us about user behaviour.
The headlines from the research include: ‘News today is a shared, social experience. Half of Americans say they rely on people around them to find out at least some of the news they need to know. 44% of online news users get news at least a few times a week through emails, automatic updates or posts from social networking sites.’
Interestingly the stories and issues that gain traction in social media differ substantially from those that lead in the mainstream press, Roy Greenslade covers of this issue in more detail.
However, social media stories also differ greatly from each other. ‘Of the 29 weeks that Pew tracked on all three social platforms, blogs, Twitter and YouTube shared the same top story just once. That was the week of June 15-19, 2009, when the protests that followed the Iranian elections led on all three.’
‘Across all three social platforms, though, attention spans are brief. Just as news consumers don’t stay long on any website; social media doesn’t stay long on any one story. On blogs, 53% of the lead stories in a given week stay on the list no more than three days. On Twitter that is true of 72% of lead stories, and more than half (52%) are on the list for just 24 hours.’
Interestingly, most of those top weekly stories differ dramatically from what is receiving attention in the traditional press. Social media tend to home in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press.
So, how does this help us to reflect on The Times decision? Well, it shows that the public are choosing to consume their news in whichever way fits them, by whichever method or platform suits them.
Increasingly the confines of traditional media outlets, and in many cases that includes their websites, are being shunned simply because we all have choice and many of the alternatives are more flexible for social interaction online. Sure, traditional sources are important to get the details on breaking events, but on a day-to-day basis, we chose our outlets according to our need.
This doesn’t mean traditional media will die, and its authority still carries huge weight – much more so than the individual social outlets, but the fact of the matter is the consumption of media has changed, and until traditional media outlets realise that, evolve their offerings to meet this change and stop trying to cram traditional media methods into the digital world they are going to continue to struggle. It’s not the reader that needs to change to suit the platform, it’s the platform that needs to change, go beyond its own confines and change to meet the reader’s environment.
If you would like to hear more from The Times, you can listen to the Radio 4 interview with James Harding, editor, speaking earlier this week.
*The Pew Research Center, Project for Excellence in Journalism study examined the blogosphere and social media by tracking the news linked to on millions of blogs and social media pages tracked by Icerocket and Technorati from Jan.19, 2009, through Jan. 15, 2010. It also tracked the videos on YouTube’s news channel for the same period. It measured Twitter by tracking news stories linked to within tweets as monitored by Tweetmeme from June 15, 2009, through January 15, 2010.
February 19th, 2010
I recently watched the film Frost/Nixon which is a dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon.
As a quick bit of background for those who aren’t familiar with the Nixon Interviews, in 1977 (three years after his resignation), Nixon granted British journalist Sir David Frost an exclusive series of interviews for which he was paid $600,000. The interviews began on March 23, 1977 and lasted 12 days. They were taped for two hours a day, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for a total of 28 hours and 45 minutes. The interviews were were edited into four programs, each 90 minutes long.
The premiere episode drew 45 million viewers, the largest television audience for a political interview in history — a record which still stands today.
For those who haven’t seen the film, it is a brilliant demonstration of the power of TV as a news medium. No other media would have been able to capture the “cascade of candor”, as Frost termed it, when Nixon said the line: “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”, effectively giving the US public the admission of guilt that they so desperately craved.
Today so much emphasis is placed on social media, that as an industry we need to be careful not to prematurely write-off media that can still be incredibly powerful for a person or brand. Very recently we secured an interview for a client of ours on Sky News, and the next day their phone did not stop ringing with new business enquiries. We mustn’t forget that audiences can still be reached via linear TV.
An interesting statistic is that average daily hours of television viewing rose to 3.94 hours in Q4 2009, driving 2009 figures to the highest since 2002, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s latest Trends in Television Report. TV consumption is on the up, and remains to be taken seriously as a news channel.
Finally, I leave you with a great six minute video on how Richard Nixon turned the media into exaggerated fearmongers. It’s not completely relevant to the post, but well worth watching.
February 12th, 2010
This week I caught an interview with Alastair Campbell on ITV’s Loose Women, promoting his new book Maya. Within the interview Campbell (who formerly wrote for the Daily Mirror) suggested that social networking is inverting the core principle of newspaper journalism, i.e. bad news sells, and replacing it with a more balanced view of the world.
In my view he’s right. Traditionally we might have bought our favourite tabloid or broadsheet on the way to work, or selected the paper with the most grabbing front page headline. Pre-social media, we’d have been blissfully unaware of how our intake of news was being controlled by an editorial agenda that dictates bad news sells. Journalists are trained in how to tease out of any story an angle that conveys fear, sex, drama etc. A story that simply reports ‘good news’ would never get past any half-decent news editor.
Today however, ‘social’ media means that we have access to news that has not been written by journalists or broadcasters. Many high profile bloggers have no journalist training, and so take a much fresher, unbiased approach to news reporting.
Websites such as Delicious and Digg enable people to bookmark and share content from the highest profile blog through to the most obscure and niche. It’s human nature to want to share good news, and so with no motivation to ‘sell’, those consuming news through social sites are likely to be faced with more ‘good’ news that then would have been traditionally.
This is good news for brands and the PR industry as a whole. It makes it more possible for a brand to communicate its good news, and if it is liked by its community, the news will be shared. This doesn’t remove the need for a strong news hook, but that hook can now be a positive one.
January 22nd, 2010
A journalist-style Big Brother has today been announced, whereby five journalists will lock themselves away in a French farmhouse for five days, with access to only Facebook and Twitter as their news sources. The experiment will test the quality of news from the social networking and micro-blogging sites as access to all other areas of the Internet will be banned, along with smartphones, TV, radio and newspapers.
The journalists from Canadian, French, Belgian and Swiss radio stations will be expected to go on the air on their channels to comment on news they have found. But without being able to corroborate their news through usual sources and channels, it remains to be seen whether they will have any news to report!
The RFP French-language public broadcasters association has organised the event, and claims: “Our aim is to show that there are different sources of information and to look at the legitimacy of each of these sources.”
The stakes are high – the experiment is likely to attract a lot of media attention and so the journalists will be under pressure to deliver ‘news’…but at what cost? Will they take the risk of reporting news that has not been properly corroborated by multiple sources? Surely that would be highly irresponsible behaviour for a news organisation.
As I previously documented in a post last year entitled: “Mzinga backlash: Is Twitter a reliable journalist/blogger source?“, Twitter can be an unreliable and liabellous source of news, and hoaxes are commonplace. While it will be interesting to follow the journalists’ findings and experience, I’m not sure I even agree with the point of the experiment as it completely contradicts with the principles of quality journalism.
I imagine it will be very time consuming for the journalists to try and validate stories, and so in particular I will be watching to see whether they are able to deliver ‘breaking news’, or whether it will just be commentary after the event. It will be interesting if the journalists share the criteria they used for corroborating stories i.e. volume of Tweets on the subject.
I’m sure there will be a follow-up post from me when the experiment concludes!
August 11th, 2008
The Olympics is up and running, and if like me you’re interested in the latest news but don’t have access to a TV in your office, a good visual place to start and get the latest breaking reaction from is Dailylife. -
“We started Dailylife because we think publishers should be able to offer their readers the entire web of news, and for readers that news should be less work and more fun. We simplify the complex news landscape, making it a personal, visceral experience instead of a daily chore.”
The site is split up into articles, photos, topics and quotes. The articles have related stories attached to them so you can read more about a particular story from another news source. Photos and quotes are probably my favourite parts of the site. Some of the images are stunning and give you a real sense of occasion and drama, and by hovering over the image you also get a text box that tells you the story behind the image. The quotes section is also a nice addition with some memorable quotes given by top competitors.
The Olympics mean a lot to me. I have seen others run and it inspired me to come here. It is amazing, not like the meets. There are all the athletes from all the sports
If you’re in need of some more Olympic resources check out The Torch Has Arrived – Beijing 2008
April 18th, 2008
We have been scouring the blogosphere all week for the best hot social media and web 2.0-related news and resources. We have also added all the new links to the Liberate Media resource/research page, – it’s a little slow to load but well worth the wait!
General social media: news/resources
October 9th, 2007
It’s been a busy day in the world of Google. First of all, news reached us this morning that Google shares have risen above the $600 mark for the first time. Not bad considering Google’s stock launched at $85 a share in 2004.
Then came the news that Google will be allowing websites in its ad network (AdSense) to embed videos from some YouTube content creators. This offers Google a new source of ad revenue, which will of course need to be shared with the content creators and sites that embed them.
However, the news that interested me the most broke this afternoon, when Google announced that it had acquired the Finland-based SMS and microblogging service Jaiku, competitor to the better known Twitter.
This is another telling move, proving the all-encompassing Google development arm is now focusing on mobile and social networking…and everything in between. Mike Butcher at TechCrunch has the full story.
Interestingly, Steve Rubel is giving Twitter 45 days to be sold, and he thinks Yahoo! will be the most likely suitor.
Oh and while i’m doing a Google news rundown, I should also mention that Google and IBM are partnering on a university project to provide data centres holding 1,600 computers that students will be able to use to learn cloud computing.
Or as Eric Schmidt put it: “In order to most effectively serve the long-term interests of our users, it is imperative that students are adequately equipped to harness the potential of modern computing systems and for researchers to be able to innovate ways to address emerging problems.”
Now the weather…
October 3rd, 2007
Netvibes, one of the fastest-growing personalised homepage providers (and RSS reader), has today launched a “smart branded widget” for publishers and corporates.
More information on the Netvibes Publishers Network is available here.
To summarise, businesses and media owners will be able to embed the Netvibes widget (containing all reading feeds and widgets etc) within their site, and brand and customise it to fit their online property.
Early takers include two leading French newspapers, Les Echos and Le Figaro and CBS.
I’m a Netvibes user – I totally rely on it for my daily intake of reading, and so am intrigued to see how this will take-off.
From a social-media PR perspective, it’s a great way for brands to be contributing useful content to their online network, and being seen to be activity engaging with their community, without having to produce any original content themselves.
Although I suspect this will be a slow burner, it’s certainly the way in which coporates and publishers should be heading with their websites.