Sunday, September 30, 2007

OPINION: Oh my! New definitions of news -- by a WSJ Asia reporter

OPINION: Oh my! The future of news -- by a WSJ Asia reporter
SOURCE: The Jakarta Post - The Journal of Indonesia Today (fwd)
DATE: Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007 -- Features Section

By Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy Wagstaff writes a weekly technology column for The Wall Street Journal Asia. His guide to technology, Loose Wire, is available in bookshops or on Amazon. He can be found online at or via e-mail at

I was asked the other day to address a room full of media types about
changes in consumer behavior; where, they wanted to know, are people looking for news in this new digital world?

It's always a bad idea to get me to talk in public, especially on this subject, since I think it's the wrong one. Or at least, the wrong way of looking at the subject. I gave them two reasons:

First, there are no consumers of news anymore. In fact, you've probably heard this said a lot, here and elsewhere that, in the era of MySpace, Wikipedia, OhmyNews and citizen journalism, everyone is a journalist, and therefore a producer, of news. No one is just a consumer. Second, there is no news. Or at least there is no longer a traditional, established and establishment definition of what is news. Instead we have information. Some of it moving very fast, so it looks like news. But still information.

A commuter taking a photo of a policeman extracting bribes from drivers and then posting the picture on his blog? It's not news, but it's not just information either. It could be news to the policeman, and if he's busted because of it could be good news to drivers in that town.

We journalists have been schooled in a kind of journalism that goes back to the days when a German called Paul Julius Reuter was delivering it by pigeon. His problem was a simple one: getting new information quickly from A to B. It could be stock prices; it could be the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

That definition of news has remained with us until today. A lot of the time it remains a good one. When terrorists hit, we'd rather know sooner than later. If stocks in our portfolio are losing their value in a crash, we'd prefer to get that information now. When Buddhist monks hit the streets of towns in Myanmar we look to AFP, Reuters and AP to get the news out.

But the Internet has changed a lot of this. First off, everyone is connected. By connected I mean they can look up anything they like so long as they're near an Internet-connected computer. Which for a lot of people now means a 3G phone. Even if you don't have one, the chances are you'll be in spitting range of a computer that is connected to the Internet. Or you could get you information by SMS -- from news sites, from colleagues, from family members. It's not that we're not far from a gadget. We're not far from information. This has a critical impact on the idea of news.

Because we're informed, news doesn't hit us in the same way it used to when we didn't. True, if someone hits a tall building with an airliner, that's news to all of us. The U.S. invades or leaves Iraq; that's news. But the rest of the time, news is a slippery beast that means different things to different people. That's because there's another kind of news we're all interested in.

It's hyperlocal news. It's what is around us. In our neighborhood. Since moving house I'm much less interested in gubernatorial elections and much more in anything that anybody says about en bloc sales and house prices. That is hyperlocal news, and it's where most people spend their day. No nuclear weapons being fired? No terrorist attacks? No meltdown in the financial markets? OK, so tell me more about en bloc sales. Actually, this is just part of hyperlocal news.

If you've used Facebook, you'll know there's another kind of addictive local news: your friends' status updates. A status update, for those of you who haven't tried Facebook, is basically a short message that accompanies your profile indicating what you're up to at that point. I think of it a wire feed by real people. Of course it's not news as we'd think of it, but news as in an answer to the questions "What's up?" "What's new?""What's happening?" "What's new with you?" In that sense it's news. I call it hyper-hyperlocal news. Even though those people are spread all over the world, they're all part of my friends network, and that means for me they're local.

So news isn't always what we think of as news. News has always meant something slightly different to the nonmedia person; our obsession with prioritizing stories in a summary, the most important item first (How many dead? What color was their skin? Any Americans involved?) has been exposed as something only we tend to obsess over. Don't believe me? Look at the BBC website. While the editors were putting up stories about Musharraf, North Korea and Japan, the users were swapping stories about Britney Spears splitting with her manager, the dangers of spotty face, and the admittedly important news that the Sex Pistols might be getting back together.

Of course, I'm not saying journalists are from Mars and readers are from Venus. It just looks that way. What we're really seeing is that now that people have access to information, they are showing us what they're interested in. Unsurprisingly, they're interested in different stuff. What we call audience fragmentation -- niche audiences for specialized interests -- is actually what things have always been about.

If we're a geek we go for our news to Slashdot. We want gossip? We go to Gawker. We want to change the world? We go to The Internet makes the Long Tail of all those niche audiences and interests possible, and possibly profitable. What we're seeing with the Internet is not a revolution against the values of old media; a revolution against the notion that it's only us who can dictate what is news.

What we're seeing is that people get their news from whoever can help them answer the question they're asking. We want the headlines, we go to CNN. But the rest of the time, "news" is for us just part of a much bigger search for information, to stay informed.


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

IDEA: London paid daily selling at newsboxes with prepaid card

ORIGINAL URL: - a knowledge base for media professionals
POSTED: September 21, 2007

The Cashless Society Finally Hits Paid-For Newspaper Newsstands -- And What A
Great Idea It Is!

By Philip M. Stone

LONDON -- Associated Newspapers has hit upon a gem of an idea for its faltering Evening Standard newspaper that competes against two free newspapers in London. Prepay your newspaper via the Internet and just tap a card on an electronic pad at the newsstand and not only do you get a cut-price paper but also reward points, and even free I-Tunes.

The Standard is taking a page from the very successful Transport for London campaign in which most Londoners now prepay their public transport via what are called .Oyster. cards by tapping them on a pad located in every bus and at every Underground (subway, Metro) station. The system charges cut-rate prices for trips and puts a cap on the daily travel expense. Not only has it speeded up bus boarding procedures, the system actually works. It was surely just a matter of time before the private sector tried it, so why not a newspaper?

An added beauty to the system is that users .top-up. their cards via the Internet, paying by credit or debit cards. But to do this one has to register and will need to provide such information as name and address, post code etc. Now to a newspaper that is almost entirely sold on the newsstand what a goldmine of information that is going to be gained to attract advertisers.

The Standard knows it now has a daily circulation of some 270,000, including about one-third bulk sales, but if an advertiser were to ask management exactly who the readers were there is no answer. except to say it is people on their way home from work.

ftm background

When The British Have A Real Newspaper War It.s a Beaut . A Former Scotland Yard Detective Poking Into Trash All Over London, Embarrassing Video Released on YouTube, Ads Aimed at Damning The Other In The Eyes of Advertisers, And Oh So Much Money Bled By Murdoch And RothermereEven though London has 10 daily national AM newspapers all are basically at peace with one another. Staff poaching goes on all the time, once in a while one will cut its newsstand price forcing others to follow, a lot of money is thrown around looking for the elusive exclusive, but basically it.s civilized peace. How boring! But now a battle royal has broken out between the two new PM Free papers and it looks like no holds barred. Now talking!

Here.s A Lesson From The UK.s Sunday Times . Raise Your Cover Price To A New Industry High And Even The Most Loyal Readers Will Depart -- A 20p Increase in September Has So Far Cost It More Than 100,000 In CirculationSticker shock can apply to a newspaper.s cover price as the UK.s Sunday Times has learned. The term got its start in the US when buyers looking at a new car.s price sticker in the auto showroom were shocked to see figures far higher than expected. Well, the Sunday Times raised its price in September to £2 ($3.90, .3), the highest in the UK, and the sticker shock has so far cost it more than 100,000 circulation.

Fighting Two New Free Newspapers London.s Evening Standard Raised Its Price 25%. How Many Print Marketing Gurus Out There Believe That Strategy Was Right? Hint: The Combined Free Newspaper Circulation Is Already 8% Up

In announcing the scheme this week the Standard did not say how much of a discount the card would be worth on each day.s newspaper. A year ago the newspaper raised its price from 40 pence to 50 pence as part of a two-fisted campaign to fight the introduction of Rupert Murdoch.s new free PM newspaper, thelondonpaper. The other fist in Associated.s stable was to bring out its own free newspaper, London Lite. Both started with a circulation of 400,000 each weekday and after a few months thelondonpaper increased its daily run to 500,000.

And the Evening Standard has not fared well in the year, although the spin from Associated is that it has done remarkably well to be doing what it is doing. The official August audit numbers showed its circulation down 11.38% from last August to 277,555 copies but dig into those numbers and the results are really much worse. A year ago the circulation was 317,511 of which 12% (some 38,000 copies) were bulk sales to hotels, airlines and the like at greatly discounted prices. Today.s 277,555 figure includes 34% bulk sales (95,111 copies). Do a like-on-like of full price sales and it is 182,444 today compares to 279,433 of a year ago, down almost 100,000 copies (34%).

So by using the card it can implement a climb-down of that year-ago price hike.

Andrew Mullins, the Standard.s managing director, explained, .We are very excited to be the first newspaper to introduce this cashless and reward based payment system. Over the next two years in London (the central area) will increasingly become a cashless payment zone and the Evening Standard will be helping drive and leads this trend. The Evening Standard Eros card is a genuine innovation. It not only provides greater convenience for our loyal readers but also appropriate added value benefit rewards..

And Mullins emphasized the marketing goldmine the system should provide. .For the first time we will have in-depth knowledge of how many people are buying the paper, and on what day and at what time..

As an incentive for the cards that are being given out for the first time next week, when users top up those cards on the Internet they will be eligible for five free downloads from I-Tunes. In a statement the Standard said, .Users of the card will discover that it saves money over paying directly by cash. And because of the loyalty rewards package, cardholders will benefit from additional privileges as well as exclusive added value and discount offers provided by card partners.

And the Standard is not the only London paper getting into the card game. Earlier in the month Rupert Murdoch.s tabloid Sun announced it was teaming up with a third party to offer a pre-paid, pay-as-you-go MasterCard with chip and PIN code.

But why call the card Eros, the Greek mythical God of love? Take a look at the illustration at the top of this story and you should be able to make out that the logo for the card is superimposed over a statue of Eros, and that statue has been a part of the Standard.s logo for many years (anyone out there know how that came to be and why?) The original aluminum statue was sculpted by Alfred Gilbert and finished in 1893 and it has stood for most years since then Piccadilly Circus . London.s Time Square. Associated Newspapers has tried to trademark the statue, but is opposed by the Westminster City Council on the basis that such a well known symbol of London should not be monopolized for private reasons.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

ANALYSIS: User-news sites offer diverse stories, some questionable sources

An analysis by a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle of social-news networking sites such as Digg, and Reddit -- based upon a just-release Project for Excellence in Journalism study.



"Indeed, these user-driven sites have entered the news business, or perhaps more accurately, they have entered the news dissemination business. Reporting is not a part of their charge. Instead, they turn to others for content and then they bestow users with the task of deciding what makes it on the page."


User-news sites offer diverse stories, some questionable sources

By Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

During a week this summer when the mainstream press focused on the immigration debate in Congress and a failed terrorism plot in the United Kingdom, the most popular stories on news sites where the users rank their favorites, like San Francisco's Digg, was - aside from chatter about Apple's new iPhone - not dominated by any one news story. And that's part of their allure. The 24-hour news cycle doesn't exist on rapidly growing user-news sites like Digg, or San Francisco-based Reddit. Neither do the small cabal of editors who decide what news readers and viewers should see on traditional print and broadcast outlets.

Instead, the readers of these user-news sites collectively and continuously contribute to the creation of a digital "front page" of their favorite stories - pushing to prominence news that may get scant airing on traditional print, broadcast or cable outlets, where space and airtime is finite and, they say, risk-taking is more rare.

This changing approach to news consumption is highlighted in a study released today by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington, D.C., think tank. It compared the stories on the above three leading user-news sites, along with Yahoo News' Most Recommended, Most Viewed and Most E-mailed stories, with the project's daily content audit of 48 print, cable, online, network TV and radio news outlets. The study, a snapshot of a week's worth of news consumption, shows the growing interdependence between traditional news outlets and online user-news sites. It also illustrates how the news looks a lot different when audience members pick what story they want to read or recommend, as opposed to a professional journalist.

"The traditional news outlet wants to put a lot of gravitas on their front page. They want the readers to eat their spinach," said Kourosh Karimkhany, general manager of Wired Digital, which owns Reddit. Technology allows users to create their own news "agenda" from multiple online sources, rendering a traditional front page increasingly "irrelevant," he said. Instead, on these growing sites - Digg welcomed 19.5 million unique visitors last month - consumers rely on the "wisdom of crowds" (other readers) to figure out what are the top stories of the day.

The study found that the news items on these sites are "more diverse, more transitory and often draw on a very different and perhaps controversial list of sources." It found that 40 percent of the stories on user-news sites originated on blogs and 24 percent came from mainstream sites like BBC News. Only 5 percent came from wire services.

So the immigration debate never was a top-10 story on Digg or during the week of June 24, the study's focus period. It appeared just once that week among the top stories on Reddit.

"The best way to get a sense of trend among these sites is not to look at specific news events, but at broad topic areas such as politics, crime and foreign affairs," the study found. And the focus on user-news sites is a lot different than editor-chosen news sites. The study found roughly 40 percent of the stories on Digg and were devoted to technology and science. Lifestyle stories were the second most popular on user-news sites. While the war in Iraq accounted for 10 percent of the stories from the nation's top mainstream news outlets, it was only 1 percent of the stories on the three user-news sites.

At traditional outlets, the top-10 list of stories that week - topics like Iraq, the Supreme Court decisions and a major fire near Lake Tahoe - accounted for 51 percent of all the stories. "What it hints at is that the range of topics are broader and more varied (on user-news sites)," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. However, Rosenstiel said, it also shows that "more sources may or may not be completely dependable." On these user-news sites, items may be posted from a blog or other online source that doesn't come with the "assurance of a professional journalist saying, 'I made seven calls on this, and it's legitimate.' Or, 'It's a scam.' "

And while traditional journalists often concentrate on ongoing coverage of the same issue, the variety of stories turning up on user-news sites may show that "maybe a lot of readers aren't as interested in those turn-of-the-screw type of stories," Rosenstiel said. But the study doesn't portend the end to traditional journalism, said Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg. On his site, its 2 million registered users submit and vote on content, "digging" the stories they prefer and "burying" those they don't. Stories with the most "diggs" go to the top of the page, creating a constantly evolving news source. "In the current form, it is a very symbiotic relationship" between user-news sites and traditional media, he said. "What
this study shows is that the online news consumer consumes news differently." Instead of cuddling up to one newspaper or checking out the evening news, today's consumer is checking out 15 to 20 sources - from the New York Times and The Chronicle to ABC to a blog, said Reddit's Karimkhany.

Indeed, many traditional news outlets mark their stories with one or more user-news icons, inviting their readers to "Digg" that story. "It's not so much that people are shunning news. I think people are reading more," said Karimkhany, a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a former reporter for mainstream outlets like Reuters and Bloomberg News. "What Reddit does is much what a traditional newsroom does. Except that instead of having four or five men in their 40s and 50s decide what goes on the front page, thousands of people do."

But while this changing environment has brought many more news outlets into the picture, it has also cut into revenues for traditional outlets - which traditionally have been the home of most investigative reporting, because they had the resources to do so. Said Adelson: "What I wonder about is what is going to happen to investigative journalism."

User-news sites in the survey

Begun in December 2004, Digg's audience is more male (57 percent) than female. It is also had the youngest audience of
the three user-news sites in the study, with just under half (47 percent) of all users between ages 18 and 34.

The content is entirely user-driven. Registered users submit and vote on content, "digging" those they like and "burying"
those they don't. The stories with the most "diggs" move to the top of the page, with the order changing almost every

Founded in late 2003, was acquired by Yahoo in December 2005. It has more female (55 percent) users than male
(45 percent) users. It also skews the oldest, with the lowest percentage (35) of users under 35. is also 100
percent user-driven, but works a little differently than Digg. is a social "bookmarking" Web site, which lets
users "tag" content they find most interesting. So when users find a piece of content (or an entire Web site) that they
want to share - whether they find it on or on an outside news outlet - they "tag" it and add a list of
keywords to describe the story.

Founded in 2005 and later acquired by Conde Nast Publications last October, it is the newest of the three user-news
sites. It had the highest percentage (64) of men and almost as many users (45 percent) 18 to 34 as Digg did during the
week the study conducted its research.

Its content selection is based on user submissions followed by "up" or "down" votes. Next to each of the 25 stories on
Reddit's home page there is an up and a down arrow for users to vote for or against the content. Stories with the most
"up" votes rise to the top.

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism
E-mail Joe Garofoli at
This article appeared on page A - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Guardian editor on "out of control" future for newspapers

Guardian editor on "out of control" future for newspapers:,,2152055,00.html

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Paris-based newspaper trade group launches "shaping future" blog

The World Association of Newspapers has launched a new weblog to report on and discuss the latest in newspaper strategies and other developments in the global newspaper industry, according to an email from Larry Kilman, WAN's spokesman.

The Shaping the Future of the Newspaper weblog,, is a product of the WAN Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, which identifies, analyses and publicises all important breakthroughs and opportunities that can benefit newspapers all over the world, Kilman says.

"The SFN blog brings an international perspective to the newspaper and media community, so strategists can explore a wide-range of newspaper developments, both in their own markets and elsewhere," said Martha Stone, Director of the SFN project. "We have found this perspective lacking in much of the commentary on the newspaper scene."

WAN now provides two daily reads for everyone in the newspaper business; the SFN blog joins the Editors Weblog from the World Editors Forum,, which is consulted by more than 1,500 newspaper industry people every day, Kilman adds.

WAN also provides two regional media management news services: the Arab Press Network,, and the African Press Network, .

WAN is a leading provider of industry research and analysis through its Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, which provides WAN members and subscribers with Strategy Reports on these developments, a library of case studies and business ideas, and a wealth of other vital information for all those who need to follow press industry trends. More about the project, and the benefits of WAN membership, can be found at .

WAN conducts the SFN project with support from four international partners -- PubliGroupe, the Swiss-based international advertising and promotion group; MAN Roland, a leading company for newspaper production systems; UPM, one of the world's leading printing paper producers; and Telenor, the leading Norwegian telecommunications, IT and media group. The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 76 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 10 regional and world-wide press groups.


Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications, WAN, 7 rue Geoffroy St Hilaire, 75005 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 00. Fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail:

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