Monthly Archives: March 2006

News Consumption and the New Electronic Media

[Keyword: ]. Douglas Ahlers has published a useful paper in the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics (Vol. 11, No. 1, 29-52) on ‘News Consumption and the New Electronic Media’ (PDF). It looks at people’s consumption of news across online and offline media, as well as the threat to newspaper advertising from the web. Ahlers argues that:

“Theories of the adoption rate of new technologies have focused on two mechanisms that overcome the costs of switching. The first is if an immediate gain can be achieved by switching to the new technology. The second is if the new technology produces increasing returns to adoption. “Increasing returns to adoption are said to exist when the net benefit to the user of a technology increases as the degree of adoption of that technology increases.” [Robin Cowan, “High Technology and the Economics of Standardization” (paper presented at the International Conference on Social and Institutional Factors Shaping Technological Development: Technology at the Outset, Berlin, May 27-28, 1991), 4.]

“With data suggesting that consumers have greater preference for the offline media or see little difference, and in the absence of a major driver to overcome switching costs, we can predict a slow adoption curve or a failure to ever produce a mass market phenomenon.”

He concludes by saying:

“A close analysis of available industry data leads us to conclude that the hypothesized migration of consumers from the traditional news media to the online news media has not happened. At least it has not happened to a magnitude that could be characterized as the collapsing of the traditional news media. We can conclude that there is no indication that the industry is in free fall or that the doomsday talk is justified.

“The online advertising component of the industry is smaller than it first appears. Most of the impact from online advertising is in the area of classified advertising, but even here we estimate the impact to be between 10 to 15 percent. The Internet also provides new revenue streams in the area of online classifieds, as traditional news media companies compete online to recapture a portion of the total online advertising revenues.

“A customer segmentation model is a more appropriate way to view news consumption behaviors. There is not a one-size-fits-all pattern of news
consumption. Instead, there is a broad range of news consumption behaviors. Some
users will go online only for their news, others will never abandon the traditional news media, some will be light users of all media, and still others will embrace all media and be multichannel news consumers. For only a small group, the online news media will act as a substitute for the traditional news media. For the majority, it will act as a complement.” (p48)

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Innovating in online journalism – but not where you’d expect

[Keyword: ]. It would be easy to overlook ‘Lads’ Mags’ in looking at online journalism, but a quick tour around the likes of FHM.com brings up some innovative uses of the medium. The site makes particularly strong use of video – showing, if nothing else, that they know exactly what their readership wants. The centrefold shoot? So old hat. How about the video of the centrefold shoot? How about photo galleries? Screensavers? Desktop wallpaper? An email newsletter? Yes, it’s all as titillating as you’d expect, but add in Web TV, mobile content and FHM on your PSP and you can’t argue they’re not making the most of the medium.

More on citizen journalism from Press Gazette

[Keyword: ]. I’ve yet to see the print version but Press Gazette’s website has already published the articles from this week’s Reporter’s Guide to Citizen Journalism: here’s the page’s text with links in full:

“Our Reporter’s Guide to Citizen Journalism is introduced by Mike Ward of the
University of Central Lancashire, who argues that professional news organisations cannot afford to ignore citizen journalism. Julie Tomlin interviewed citizen
journalism doyen Dan Gillmor
. Graham Holliday explained how journalists can make the best use of the blogosphere. I paid a visit to the dedicated BBC unit that sifts through the deluge of “user-generated content”. Jonathan Munro of ITV, John
Ryley of Sky News
related their experiences of using content supplied by the
cameraphone-wielding public, while Nic Robertson of CNN wrote about using a cameraphone to report from Iraq. Kyle McRae recounts the early days of his citizen journalism picture agency Scoopt, and how it has made few friends on tabloid feature desks.

“For the uninitiated, we also have some links to notable citizen
journalism projects
and social news aggregators and bookmarking tools.”

PS: Thanks to Graham Holliday, who posted this link in his comment to my previous post – suitably enough, another way that journalists can make use of the blogosphere.

“Citizen journalism” – or just Our Journalism done by Joe Public?

[Keyword: ]. Citizen journalism as a buzzword seems to be gathering pace in newsrooms around the country, and at the same time losing some of its definition. Consider this report from the latest Press Gazette, categorised ‘citizen journalism’ and sneeringly headlined The day ‘Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ took over the news room. It covers “a one-day project that handed over the production of evening flagship news programme South East Today, as well as BBC Radio Kent’s drivetime show and Kent’s Where I Live website to 14 licence fee payers.”

It’s a typical institutional response to citizen journalism: making ‘citizens’ into ‘journalists’ by bringing them into the institution itself. But the point of citizen journalism, it seems, is that citizen journalists operate outside of those institutions, and the processes and cultures that come with them.

Consider this quote from one of my online journalism students, Masum Ullah, who was asked to investigate citizen journalism as part of an assignment:

“The idea of a citizen journalist is to harness the power of the audience to participate in the news media. If we get articles and stories written by the people, we will get a totally different perspective to the news and current affairs.

“Citizen journalism websites open up to public comment which enables readers to attach comments to articles and also gives the opportunity for readers to react to, criticise and praise what’s published by professional journalists. This concept means we are getting different perspective of the news from the audience and the institutions. Both are interacting to give a new type of journalism and news. Readers of stories may want to make their own judgements or they might want to make the story better, so that effectively a news story will change all the time.

“Professional journalists and their readers are basically working together and combining their knowledge and expertise to provide a journalistic product. Everyone who contributes is helping each other by enhancing their understanding and knowledge of a particular issue or news story.”

If the BBC or Press Gazette had only done as much thinking as Masum, they might have done more than rely on their own institutionalised ways of doing things.

"Citizen journalism" – or just Our Journalism done by Joe Public?

[Keyword: ]. Citizen journalism as a buzzword seems to be gathering pace in newsrooms around the country, and at the same time losing some of its definition. Consider this report from the latest Press Gazette, categorised ‘citizen journalism’ and sneeringly headlined The day ‘Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ took over the news room. It covers “a one-day project that handed over the production of evening flagship news programme South East Today, as well as BBC Radio Kent’s drivetime show and Kent’s Where I Live website to 14 licence fee payers.”

It’s a typical institutional response to citizen journalism: making ‘citizens’ into ‘journalists’ by bringing them into the institution itself. But the point of citizen journalism, it seems, is that citizen journalists operate outside of those institutions, and the processes and cultures that come with them.

Consider this quote from one of my online journalism students, Masum Ullah, who was asked to investigate citizen journalism as part of an assignment:

“The idea of a citizen journalist is to harness the power of the audience to participate in the news media. If we get articles and stories written by the people, we will get a totally different perspective to the news and current affairs.

“Citizen journalism websites open up to public comment which enables readers to attach comments to articles and also gives the opportunity for readers to react to, criticise and praise what’s published by professional journalists. This concept means we are getting different perspective of the news from the audience and the institutions. Both are interacting to give a new type of journalism and news. Readers of stories may want to make their own judgements or they might want to make the story better, so that effectively a news story will change all the time.

“Professional journalists and their readers are basically working together and combining their knowledge and expertise to provide a journalistic product. Everyone who contributes is helping each other by enhancing their understanding and knowledge of a particular issue or news story.”

If the BBC or Press Gazette had only done as much thinking as Masum, they might have done more than rely on their own institutionalised ways of doing things.

Telegraph to begin online and print convergence

[Keyword: ]. So reports Journalism.co.uk:

“Inspired by visits to converged newsroom initiatives in the US, new online city editor Philip Aldrick will be leading a drive to provide early morning, breaking-markets news like a wire service, increasing the amount of content unique to the website.

“Currently around 90 per cent of content from the newspaper is reproduced online; the remaining 10 per cent is unique to the site.

USA Today and the New York Times both announced plans last year to converge their online and offline publications. NYTimes said the company was ready to ‘raise digital journalism to the next level’.”