links for 2009-11-17

  • Kevin: An incredibly useful piece of journalism by Danny Sullivan speaking with Josh Cohen of Google News about a range of issues including paywalls, ACAP (a possible replacement for Robots Text Protocol) and existing agreements with news organisations. It's fascinating reading that news professionals and manangers should read. With all of the news about Google and news organisations, it's good to hear some details from the search giant itself.
  • Kevin: I met Jonathan Gosier at TEDGlobal, and he has posted an amazing infographic about the internet and cost in Africa. As he writes: "People often only see Africa from one perspective, here’s another. The above infographic details some of the happenings over the past few years in regards to infrastructure improvement and capacity building in Africa, particularly in the area of the internet and cost. The sources are various reports from the International Monetary Fund, InternetWorldStats, the Millennium Development Goals, research papers, various websites, executive market research and more; compiling some fascinating facts about the continent’s ‘infostate’ (trends in information technology and communication)."
  • Kevin: An interesting discussion between Mathias Dopfner, chief executive of German media giant Axel Springer, and Arianna Huffington. Although some of his arguments echo Rupert Murdoch's accusations that news aggregators are 'stealing', it's difficult to dismiss entirely what he's saying when he backs up his point of view with performance figures and Huffington refuses to disclose the revenues of her site. I also agree with Dopfner when he says: "Readers had to be 'seduced' with new offerings, not re-educated." I also tend to agree with him that mixed models of premium paid information services will exist alongside free. His argument came across as more nuanced than Huffiington's in this debate.
  • Kevin: Very interesting comments from Jim Chisholm at the Society of Editors 2009 meeting. Apart from 2) “Journalism is omnipotent and UK journalism is better than its competitors.” I'll leave the other four myths for you to read at However, these are two very important points:
    # Regional newspapers currently have a 11.3 per cent profit margin in the UK; nationals 8.2 per cent. Tesco’s profit margin is 8.2 per cent, but no one is predicting Tesco’s death, said Chisholm.
    # “This business doesn’t have a profit problem it has a debt problem.”
    # “UK newspapers are behind other markets in attracting digital revenues.”
    It's not just UK newspapers that are behind in attracting digital revenues. Most newspapers with a few notable exceptions in Denmark and Norway have built digital offerings without digital businesses. They have built audiences but done little apart from selling ads against eyeballs to generate digital revenue.
  • Kevin: Richard Perez-Pena reports: "Americans, it turns out, are less willing than people in many other Western countries to pay for their online news, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group." Only 48% of Americans would pay to read news as opposed to almost 60% in many western European countries. I'd like to see the figures for the UK where the BBC provides an excellent free service.
    One point to highlight "Americans were much more likely than people in the other countries to say they might pay for admission to sites that offered Internet access to multiple papers." Very interesting.
  • Kevin: A nice succinct view of what opportunities to keep and what opportunities newspapers should stop putting effort in to. Disagreement on whether video is an opportunity or a money pit. (My two pence: It can be both. It depends on how it's done. Web video is not TV.) I strongly agree with Francois Nel, who I count as a friend, when he says that newspapers need to give up on the what he calls DIY, what I call vertical ownership obsession. Francois says: “We need to let go of the idea that we have to do it all ourselves and we need to look at new partnerships.” Smart partnering will separate the winners from the dead pool.
  • Kevin: An interesting look at how News Corp removing the Wall Street Journal from indexing by Google might affect revenue. Murdoch says: "The fact is there’s not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the Web sites profitable. And we’d rather have fewer people coming to our Web site, but paying.” There is truth in that, which is why I believe that news organisations need to develop new premium information services to support basic newsgathering.