links for 2010-04-19

  • Kevin: One of the issues that comes up time and again in discussions about online community is the issue of anonymity. Some believe that verified identity would automatically improve behaviour. I personally think that anonymity is only part of the problem and often used as a scapegoat for other problems including a lack of editorial vision for social media and editorial content that has little reason to be beyond 'let's start a fight'. However, there is another way beyond verified, real identity. Anonymous identity. This post looks at how such a system could work.
  • Kevin: Robert G. Picard fires a shot across the bow of publishers looking to stabilise their businesses by erecting paywalls. "Publishers keep asserting that things will be fine if they can erect pay walls and charge for news online and they argue that governments should provide legal protections for online news so they can make news a viable digital business product.

    Their approach is wrong and ignores the fundamental reality that news has never been a commercially viable product because most of the public has been, and remains, unwilling to pay for news. Consequently, news has always been funded with income based on its value for other things."

  • Kevin: Rick Martin is setting up a local news site, and he looks at potential revenue streams for the site including geo-targeted advertising (could be easier on mobile with more devices knowing where they are), selling ads against specific tags or categories, content as a way to sell other services such as social media consulting or highlighting sponsors as community supporters. Some good ideas here for people looking to pay for local news coverage.
  • Kevin: From the annual State of the (US) News Media report: "The numbers for 2009 reveal just how urgent these questions are becoming. Newspapers, including online, saw ad revenue fall 26% during the year, which brings the total loss over the last three years to 41%.

    Local television ad revenue fell 24% in 2009, triple the decline the year before. Radio was off 18%. Magazine ad pages dropped 19%, network TV 7% (and news alone probably more). Online ad revenue over all fell about 5%, and revenue to news sites most likely also fared much worse.

    Only cable news among the commercial news sectors did not suffer declining revenue last year."

  • Kevin: The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism looks at how the mobile phones and the internet have affected news consumption. For me the key take-away and one which I've known for several years: "The days of loyalty to a particular news organization on a particular piece of technology in a particular form are gone." Print circulation continues to decline in this environment, and a minotirty of a news websites unique users (about 20% usually) account for 80% of a traffic to a site. "Some 46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform on a typical day. "
  • Kevin: Vadim Lavrusik, a new media student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, looks at 12 things newspapers could do to change their fortune. I definitely agree with his calls to go niche. The internet rewards depth, and while it would be difficult to justify a print product on a narrowly defined subject, the cost of production and distribution of digital content makes the economics work. There are some interesting ideas in the post to differentiate print. I think just as digital should be used more effectively by leveraging its unique strengths, there needs to be more thought about areas where print has unique selling points. There also needs to be thought about the time frames in which digital and print are relevant. Digital can be fast, but it can also be deep in ways that print isn't. Print can provide good medium term analysis or summary information (like The Economist or the The Week.)
  • Kevin: The New York Times reports how social media is actually driving TV ratings. It's a good look at the 'dual-screen' experience where people watch TV with either a laptop or a mobile phone. "Blogs and social Web sites like Facebook and Twitter enable an online water-cooler conversation, encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and the big-screen TV."
  • Kevin: An interesting contrarian view about innovation from Andy Budd. It's actually as much about taking innovative ideas and transferring that thinking to effective product design and marketing. I think probably the most important point by Andy is that people point to innovation rather than changing their own behaviour. As Suw and I often say, you can have clever technology that is still hampered by cultural resistance to change. It's been my experience that most people don't want to change. They want to master a task because they believe that will ensure job security.