Monthly Archives: February 2006

Simon Waldman interviewed

[Keyword: ]. have finally pinned down the much-in-demand Guardian’s Director of Digital Publishing Simon Waldman for a lengthy interview. Here’s the key quotes:

“I still think we’re way ahead of the pack among newspapers and the BBC only ever nudges ahead because it has such a vast resource to play with.

“I think the WashingtonPost has done some interesting things recently with mash-ups and Technorati, and at the other end of the scale I think the way that the Newbury Weekly News has adopted video is really quite spectacular given the scale of its operation.”

“… Everyone is on podcast alert at the moment and that’s not a bad thing, although there is a danger of oversupply into the market.

“Within 12 months we’ll have a much clearer picture of the real value of this, both in terms of audience and advertising. I have no doubt video will be next and we’ll see an increasingly wide range of offerings from different organisations.

“The point about homogeneity is an important one and we need things to kick against it.

“The first is truly distinctive content – in particular for newspaper sites that means original news reporting and informed analysis.

“The second is the community of users – and the way that publishers let them interact with the site and with each other.”

Why journalists should use Firefox

[Keyword: ]. If you’ve not already been converted to the merits of Firefox, or if you just want to know how to use it better, there’s an extensive and very helpful posting at PR Blogger on how to use the browser for researching, covering extensions, bookmarklets and browser engines.

Sadly, I’ve been having increasing problems with Firefox – at work it won’t work with any membership-based sites (e.g. Amazon and Google’s Personalised Homepage), while at home it no longer connects to the internet at all. I’m assuming this is a firewall issue, so if anyone has any suggestions…

State of the Blogosphere, Part 2

[Keyword: ]. Now these days I read so much about blogs that I barely post about the medium if I can help it. We know how important they are, we know how they work, and we know which ones are influential, and which ones make money. But I’m making an exception for David Sifry’s excellent post about “some of the emerging trends that deal with handling information overload” – warning: it mentions Long Tail (credit to Simon Waldman for his link). Here’s his summary:

  • “Blogging and Mainstream Media continue to share attention in blogger’s and reader’s minds, but bloggers are climbing higher on the “big head” of the attention curve, with some bloggers getting more attention than sites including Forbes, PBS, MTV, and the CBC.
  • “Continuing down the attention curve, blogs take a more and more significant position as the economics of the mainstream publishing models make it cost prohibitive to build many nice sites and media
  • “Bloggers are changing the economics of the trade magazine space, with strong entries covering WiFi, Gadgets, Internet, Photography, Music, and other nice topic areas, making it easier to thrive, even on less aggregate traffic.
  • “There is a network effect in the Technorati Top 100 blogs, with a tendency to remain highly linked if the blogger continues to post regularly and with quality content.
  • “Looking at the historical data shows that the inertia in the Top 100 is very low – in other words, the number of new blogs jumping to the top of the Top 100 as well as he blogs that have fallen out of the top 100 show that the network effect is relatively weak.
  • “The Magic Middle is the 155,000 or so weblogs that have garnered between 20 and 1,000 inbound links. It is a realm of topical authority and significant posting and conversation within the blogosphere.
  • Technorati Explore is a new feature that uses the authoritative topical bloggers as a distributed editorial team, highlighting the most interesting blog posts and links in over 2,500 categories.
  • “The new Filter By Authority slider makes it easy to refine a search and look for either a wider array of thoughts and opinions, or to narrow the search to only bloggers that have lots of other people linking to them. This gives you the power to decide how much filtering you want. “

It’s worth reading in full – as well as his previous report, which covers the overall growth of the blogosphere.

The future of the newspaper (again)

[Keyword: ]. Ben Compaine isn’t mincing his words over at Rebuilding Media, as he reports on the final day of a symposium in Washington to brainstorm the future of the newspaper.

“The symposium is part of the “Newspaper Next: The Transformation Project” of the American Press Institute … a $2 million year-long project that seeks to “conceive and test new business models to help newspapers thrive in the next decade” It has hired some high priced Harvard Business School professors as consultants to collaborate with the “25 industry innovators and thought-leaders” who will produce the report later this year.

“…Among the pushing-the-envelop goals of “Newspaper Next” are

  • Assess the threat to newspapers in the next decade, including emerging competition
  • Determine opportunities for newspapers, including implementation of available new technology
  • Suggest executable new business initiatives – products, services and strategies – with detailed rationales

“This is what $2 million antied up in 2006 gets? Seems to this observer that any newspaper-owning company that has not had its own task force and consultants analyze the external environment by now is incompetent and should sell out and get into the slide rule business. Any publisher who has not taken advantage of dozens of studies, scores of blogs from some very savvy current and former newspaper people among others, and the accumulated insights from 10 years (mid-1980s-mid-1990s) of being warned that big change was coming and 10 years of living with these changes should be stripped of his or her titles and forced to use a typewriter forever. And any publishing enterprise that does not have a thick book of possible initiatives now in progress or worth considering should be prohibited from ever buying another ton of newsprint. Where have these folks been for 20 years?”

Too true, Ben. Too true.

Blog updates by email? If it works

[Keyword: ]. For a long time now I’ve wished for a service that emailed me the latest headlines from my RSS feeds, instead of having to check Bloglines every day (which I never have time to do), so I was particularly pleased to discover Bot A Blog, which not only promises to do just that, but will also provide your blog with a button so people can subscribe to an email (especially welcome given my problems with Yahoo! Groups).

Only problem is, I’m not sure whether it actually works. So far, nothing has come through from my subscription to this blog, and when I’ve tried it on my other blogs (Interactive PR and Web and New Media) it says I’m already subscribed. I’ve tried a group subscription to some other blogs, so we’ll see what happens.

The Next Big Things for Newspapers: Podcasting, Vodcasting

[Keyword: ]. Editor & Publisher wakes up to the podcasting hype with an overview of the trend and who’s been using podcasts in their news offerings. Summing up quote:

The danger in getting “too professional” in newspaper podcasting is that it becomes just a clone of traditional TV newscasting — something most newspaper podcast pioneers say they’re trying to avoid. “I think there’s room for something that’s different, and perhaps quirkier, than broadcast news,” says Asakawa. “Podcasting is still at a stage where that DIY ethic informs the sound more than the need for strict structure and a bunch of rules.”

Students explore online journalism forms

[Keyword: ]. My current class of Online Journalism students are all maintaining blogs about a particular type of, well, online journalism. If you want to take a look, here are the links:

All comments gratefully received – or post to the blog in question.

A Student Experiment in the New News

[Keyword: ]. One to watch: Poynter reports on what should be an interesting experiment, “News for the 21st Century” where “[40] student journalists will work together to develop multiple stories revolving around a single topic. They also are being challenged to use the unique capabilities offered by Web publishing to tell these stories in novel, engaging ways.”