Tag Archives: Blogging

another brick in the paywall

“Who started this rumour that all information should be free and why didn’t we challenge this when it first came out?”Anne Moore, chief executive, Time Inc, March 2009

There is no such thing as a free news story”Rupert Murdoch

Wise, or flippant words from Murdoch and Anne Moore; can news really sit behind a paywall? It is like shifting the tide or causing the earth to spin the other way around on its axis. Well possibly not quite as dramatic as that, but it is unnatural. The question is whether people will be willing to pay for online content?

This is not a new idea. It has been batting around newsrooms for year ever since Doc Martens were first in – I had a cherry red pair in the mid-nineties, but I am not quite willing to admit that they are back in fashion now.

What has come back into fashion again, is charging for online content. It has become a hot topic, a key trend and possibly a solution for the drop in newspaper sales. Rupert Murdoch has committed to constructing paywalls around News Corp papers, which will leave The Daily Mirror jumping for joy.  If you can no longer go to The Sun to get your page 3 lovely – where is the next point of call?

Shane Richmond’s blog hosted on The Telegraph discusses this issue:

“As we know, readers will pay provided there isn’t a free alternative of sufficient quality available. Quality, as always, is a relative term and there will always be an alternative.”

So, can it work? Are the days of free content now over?

If some papers, like The Times begin charging for their news content, it will drive those loving unique users into the beautiful arms of an aggregator, such as killer Google or another free news website. It is estimated that The Times may lose up to anywhere between 80% and 95% of their traffic once pay walls have been introduced.

Google, Google Chrome, Google Reader, Google Wave and even the verb Google. Google has grown and benefited from the demise of the newspaper. The media is now at a critical point.

Do we wait for the advertising economy to get back on board with print, or do we start charging for our work? (Speaking of which, do you think anyone would pay for this?)

The future of print advertising looks bleak. It is now widely assumed that the money once gained from ads in newspapers and magazines has gone, and will never come back.

Let’s dig deep into the pockets of this story then –

I think we can all agree that specialist magazines and newspapers such as the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal can happily sit behind a paywall:

a) because they have a loyal and dedicated audience seeking specialist news

and

b) because we all know bankers have very big pockets

These models work because people who sign up to them need news that is specific to them.  They can rely on the FT to be informative and accurate. How would I feel if Media Guardian sat behind a paywall? Well, I would probably be willing to fork out for that too.

Consumers have been raised on a default position of receiving free news. If you miss the 10 o’clock news one night you can log onto the BBC and catch up instantly, quickly and cheaply. If you forget to pop to the local shop for your copy of The Guardian or The Daily Mail before getting to work, the first thing you do when you log on in the morning is to visit their site and catch up with what’s going on in the world.

Where is the incentive to buy the newspaper?

It is rather romantic to think that people want the tangible product anymore.  Rob Andrew, the UK editor for paidContent said that in a survey carried out by paidContent and Harris Interactive over 74% of people would find another free site to view their news. When a barrier is put up, we move around it.

But more worryingly than that, when asked how much people were willing to pay for news, the answer was very little. For example, for a one-off article most people would only be willing to pay 1p-2p. Something tells me that newspapers are not going to boost their revenue by an extra penny or two.

Charging for online content may not work in the way that Murdoch wants and what will happen to newspapers and the paywall model remains to be seen.

But things are moving. This morning, Google announced that they will allow publishers of paid content to reduce the amount of free access internet users have to their sites from Google News.

The London Evening Standard which recently became a freesheet paper announced that they are planning to raise distribution levels to 800,000.

For better or for worse, the times, they are a changing. The key is to try and save good journalism and not necessarily, the newspaper.

I shall leave you with Bob Dylan whose words ring as true today, as they did then.

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publicists vs bloggers

Following on from my last post, in Liberty London Girls recent post Publicists vs Bloggers, she addresses the other side of the argument which I found very interesting.

She is lucky enough to have her blog firmly plonked in The Sunday Times top 100 blogs in the whole world! Maybe I should ask her how she did it and in doing so, find out just who the devil she is…

 

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brangelina, blogging and pyjamas

Ah Wednesdays – mid week, half-way through, quite a friendly name for a day of the week and the day after Grazia pops through my door and gives me some food for thought. Must remember to eat tonight.

As most of you will know, or should know, Brad and Angelina have had another bust-up.

Apparently police were called to their house, and blah blah blah. We have heard it all before – this isn’t what I wanted to talk about on this post.

As I was reading it before I fell asleep last night, for one has to have some down time after researching local procurement in governments, I realised that what made the article weaker, asides from the fact that I wasn’t really that bothered about it was this bit:

“As the pictures showed Brad and Angelina looking noticeably strained and frosty hit news websites, bloggers immediately began to comment. One reader wrote, ‘They clearly don’t want to be there or near each other”, while another remarked, “They are so OVER!! They can’t even stand within 3ft of each other.”

What made this article weak for me was the use of the term bloggers. Apparently it still has negative connotations for me, even though I enjoy blogging. Is this the type of blogging that Richard Tait once mentioned in a lecture – pyjama clothed and ready for action? I think so..

But the fact that magazines such as Grazia are now relying on bloggers to pad out their features is interesting. Are they giving bloggers the credibility that they deserve? Or, are they just being lazy journalists in not seeking out more reliable sources, as Mr Fry suggested when he won his King of Twitter award a couple of weeks ago. If Grazia were able to attribute these comments to for example, a renowned celebrity blog, such as Perez Hilton it would add more weight to the feature, in my opinion.

The fact that these “bloggers” said something somewhere, doesn’t really mean anything apart from it creates a more personal feel to the feature. Perhaps by using bloggers comments, Grazia are trying to integrate themselves further into their readership.

But for me, it feels like we are back in the playground having a little gossip about something we don’t really know, that could have happened to someone, at some point.

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook are absolutely ace at bringing us information, leads and quirky stories that we wouldn’t necessarily find without them, but good sources and good writing are still paramount.

Just for the record, I am not in my pyjamas…yet.

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which shoe are you in the online world?

I am watching The City and it is taking over my brain. I am really trying to ignore the fabulous clothes, ridiculous conversation and the emptiness of their lives which I secretly want. So I thought I would try and incorporate it into my blog post about Joanna Geary’s lecture this week. Well, they do say you don’t know a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Social media is a world of accessories, shoes and outfits that match yet simultaneously clash. And it can be an absolute shopping disaster until you find the right style that suits you.

Joanna Geary started experimenting with her style when she joined The Birmingham Post.  She realised the importance of blogging and building an online community for The Post early on in 2007.

After coming across a local blogger in Birmingham called Pete Ashton, she badgered him until he gave her all of his style advice. I will let her explain in a bit more detail:

A key lesson in social media and in styling – listen and take advice from those who know better. Just as you would consult the latest fashion magazine for key advice about the latest shoe, or most stylish accessory, consult key bloggers if you want to improve your blogging style.

In 2007, Joanna relaunched The Birmingham Post website.  She encouraged people from all over Birmingham to write for it; from engineering lecturers, to fashion students to journalists – eventually she had over 30 bloggers from across The City blogging about their relevant subjects.

Through groups such as e-mint she began to develop her online presence and start to converse with a network that she had never met. People began to be aware of her. She developed her own style.  She was moving into Mary Jane territory.  Secure, always fashionable and dependable.  Not yet showing off, but people began to look to her for inspiration.

Soon after, she stepped out to The Times where she became their Web Development Editor. Tasked with developing the business site, Joanna has had to develop an engagement strategy for news that will soon sit behind a paywall. Now a stiletto, surely? Perhaps paving the way for other news models, she has an open mind about paywalls, compared to many others. Joanna thinks that the possibility of engaging with a smaller audience where she can be helpful to her consumers is a positive move.

In understanding how news comes to people in their ordinary lives, she can design products that are suitable for them. Is she now the stylist to look to?

Recently, there has been a change in consumer behaviour. People consume their news when they want it and more than anything they crave interaction.  They want to share style advice, tips and blogging accessories – widget is the new type of bracelet, don’t you know – but what makes a blog successful, is interaction.

So, what shoe am I in the online world?

Well, I’m enthusiastic, eager to learn and still slightly clueless. But from now on, I will do my best to listen, watch and learn from those that have found their style.

I want to be a stiletto, but at the moment I am pretty sure I’m a clog. Slightly wooden, found only by those who love me, unable to go with any specific outfit and certainly not part of The City, but hopefully, I will soon be back in fashion…

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keep the standards up

Yesterday morning I was woken up by a text.  Quite a normal occurrence so I rolled over and fumbled about with my terribly old Sony Ericsson to find out what one of my friends had to say.  But wait, this was no ordinary text, the sense of urgency crept into my layer as I began to read, “Ruth. Rory Cellan – Jones. Birt Acres Lecture Theatre. 4.15pm. Be prompt.” That got my attention immediately and got me out of bed.

Having been off ill for a week, I was slightly daunted about returning to the world of Bute. My escape had lasted a while but now it was time to return – voice, or no voice.

As I strolled into the lecture theatre, I took up a place in the front row which I was sure to regret in a matter of moments.  Oh joy – a photograph; a journalist’s dream. I thought part of the job description was that we get to be on the otherside of the camera, closely aligned to the photographer:

o6q

Rory Cellan – Jones told us to smile and wave; apparently I am one of the only ones that did.

So, what did he have in store for us new journalists of the future?

In awe of someone who has made it so far in the field of journalism I was very eager to learn about what Rory had to tell us about social media.

Claire Packer sums up Rory Cellan-Jones’s lecture very succinctly in her blog.  And I agree with her that,

“contemporary journalism is undoubtedly a much slicker operation than the journalism of the 1980s.”

Rory went onto explain how modern journalists are multi-skilled and heavily involved with their audience.  His blog now demands an increasing amount of his time.

Time As he finds himself less on TV, he now has the ability to interact with his readers personally when they send him leads.

Being proactive in developing his relationship with his audience gives Rory a credibility and an honesty that people at home can relate to, which is now increasingly important in modern journalism.

Rory commented on how nowadays, one of the scariest things for news editors is that the audiences have a say in what they think is the most important story. Their input has become as essential to a running order as the editor themselves. The audience demands news in a certain format, at a certain time and in a certain way.

To demonstrate this, I thought I would just do a quick comparison of the most read stories on a couple of reputable news websites to illustrate the power that the audience now has, compared to the “mad people” that 1980’s journalists used to interact with.

On the BBC at the time of publishing this post:

Picture 1

Today is Armistice Day, however the people of Britain are more interested in sharing information about “the perfect vagina.”  I can’t imagine news editors of old ever entertaining such a thought. But if this is something the majority of the public wants from a public broadcasting service that “gives added value to the masses,” should it be?

Next, onto the Daily Mail

Picture 2

Apart from the near to ridiculous headlines, people seem to be reading across a wide range of stories.

However, when we look at what people are reading in most detail we get a completely different story, which is not quite as pleasing but maybe more realistic.

The usual offenders are there: Katie Price, Li-Lo and Coleen.  A slight whiff of adultery.  And a tragic accident involving German goalkeeper, Robert Enke.

Read in most detail:

Picture 4

Surely there are more important things going on in the world today, such as Armistice Day and the plight of our soldiers worldwide and past,  the food shortages in El Salvador, or the risk of cancer for 9/11 workers.

In a day where the user is the source, as well as the audience, perhaps it is not up to a journalist or even an editor to decide what is newsworthy.

Recently, Rupert Murdoch has unveiled a scheme to introduce paywalls to News Corp’s websites in order to generate revenue from the news. In his quest to make more money, does he really think that people will be willing to pay for their news, especially when the news they apparently want involves Coleen, and the quest for a perfect vagina.  I doubt it.

As I was writing this post, one of my colleagues, Alex Smith kindly shared a link to a testimony given to a Senate Committee by the creator of The Wire, David Simon on the challenges facing journalism in the age of new media.

He said that,

“It is nice to get stuff for free, of course. And it is nice that more people can have their say in new media. And while some of our internet commentary is – as with any unchallenged and unedited intellectual effort – rampantly ideological, ridiculously inaccurate and occasionally juvenile, some of it is also quite good, even original.”

More than anything I think that journalism needs to get its self respect back.  It needs to be valued.  It needs to be trusted and it needs to be respected by its audiences.

If the public thinks that anyone can be a journalist, then we need to prove to the public that this is false.

What we don’t need, is this:

Picture 5

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encouraging conversation

Why am I a week late writing this post? Hmm, I think I may have to start removing the dates off my posts so I can slyly slip them up here.  Shall I begin with an excuse again?

I recognise the importance of blogging but it just doesn’t seem a priority for me at the moment.  On a To-Do list, it would fall at the bottom. But why? Probably because I am not involved with my audience.  I have no conversation and no network.

Last week, in a lecture given by Adam Tinworth from RBI, we were told that a blog is no place for Opinion.  It should be a place for sharing information; posting a link, a photo or a video. You should have enthusiasm but it shouldn’t be opinionated.  This I find hard to accept, but I am willing to follow his advice to see if I can become a better blogger.

Adam went on to discuss the traits of a good blogger –

A good blogger is:

Curious cat

Inquisitive

Communicative

Honest

Enthusiastic

Informed

Social

(Photo taken by dcjohn on Flickr)

Now, one could say that this rather lovely looking cat has all these qualities – who by the way is known as Bartlet – but a slightly better analogy would be to compare it to a beat journalist.  If we start to define ourselves by beats again and concentrate on the input of the information, rather than the output, we can all make good bloggers.  If we look at blogging like that, it isn’t so scary.

In doing a little research about Adam Tinworth, Google delightfully returned Tweet of the Week – for the week beginning Oct 5th.

Picture 1

It is clear that Adam feels very passionately about the world of “social media”.  He has enthusiasm for his subject which drives traffic and encourages conversation.  What I am finding hard about blogging is that I don’t have a niche.

Over the past few weeks, I have generated just over 100 hits. If I were a newspaper I would be dying. Adam Tinworth made it very clear that one of the most important skills a good blogger can have is enthusiasm.

I have buckets of enthusiasm to spare. But, I am just not sure what I want to pour myself into.

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procrastination

Oh dear. It is catching again. I am back into my computer and social networking.  Having been away travelling for 4 months, I lost the desire to tweet and to blog – the outdoors seemed way more appealing.  This is what can happen when you are in a tiny, hot and sweaty internet cafe (consisting of two computers) in Indonesia aimlessly trying to upload photos to Facebook to reassure your mother that no, you weren’t in the Ritz-Carlton at the time of the Jakarta bombings.  As if, I was in a hotel of much grander status: A delight..

But, anyway I digress…the point I was trying to make was that I want to blog. I want to blog about everything, when I should be doing a million other things.

One of those things is a writing a book review for RealTravel.  I am supposed to have read and written a review for More Miles Than Money written by Garth Cartwright.  I am four chapters in. The deadline is Monday.  I am having vivid memories of first year when I used to write an essay on Dickens based primarily, on the first 67 pages…

I am a quick reader, but not even I think I can do this.  The problem being, is that I have to run 13 miles tomorrow as I am running the Cardiff Half Marathon.  Something tells me I won’t finish the race if I have to read while running…

The second problem is this blog.  Ever since I started it I want to write on it but at the expense of everything else…I am already 3 days late with 3 ideas…Jan Moir is going to escape because I am writing a blog post about writing blog posts while listening to my cat snore.

Ah my old friend procrastination – I had 3 hours to work today.  Now I have 1…

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