Monthly Archives: September 2006

Your web readers may not be the same as your print readers

[Keyword: ]. Press Gazette reports on a speech from Telegraph online editorial director Edward Roussel that gives an insight into the new challenges facing editors who must manage content consumed by different audiences through different media:

“Roussel said there is only a 13 per cent overlap between the Telegraph’s print and online readership.

“”Groups like ours that are used to having a one-size-fits-all strategy where you know that the competitor is The Guardian or The Times, now need to think far more carefully about who are the audiences — plural — that they’re targeting, and then look at each of those audiences and determine who your competitors are on an audience-by-audience basis.

“He said that Telegraph section heads working in the central news “hub” at the paper’s new integrated newsroom in Victoria will have to think more carefully about the different demographics of the audiences of their various products.

“He said: “Certainly in the newspaper industry, over an extended period of time, people haven’t had to ask that question and are probably a bit fuzzy about who their audiences are.”

“Roussel gave the example of the sports hub, headed by Keith Perry, which will have to hold onto its loyal readership of the printed sports section while also appealing to users of interactive online features such as fantasy football, which he described as having a “more C1 [lower middle class]” demographic than the average 56-year-old Daily Telegraph reader.”

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[Keyword: , ]. reports that has won the inaugural broadband video news Emmy for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina:

The first-ever Emmy for outstanding individual achievement in content for non-traditional delivery platform was presented to Travis Fox,’s senior video journalist, for his films on the fallout of the disaster that hit Louisiana and Mississippi, in late August last year.

“The award was made at the National Television Academy‘s 27th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony held in New York last night.

“Fox told the films avoided the traditional presenter driven format of TV news.

“They instead adopted a more subtle approach using the voice of the subjects to more effectively drive the individual stories.”

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Who is part of the new establishment of online journalism?

[Keyword: , , ]. Press Gazette are posing the question on their discussion forums of who are the movers and shakers in the new online journalism landscape. A great idea – here are my suggestions:

  • Number one has to be Simon Waldman, group director of digital strategy and development for Guardian Media Group (GMG), and the new chairman of the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP).
  • Colleagues Emily Bell and Georgina Henry at The Guardian both deserve a mention for their involvement in projects like Commentisfree.
  • The Times’ Peter Bale, one of the longest serving online editors and an informed voice on the medium
  • Guido Fawkes has done a great deal to raise the profile of bloggers in the UK with his breaking of parliamentary stories
  • Rupert Murdoch deserves a mention in any power list, but his speech about the need for newspapers to grapple with the web was a watershed moment that changed the online strategies of many web-sceptics.
  • Pete Clifton, Head of BBC News Interactive, a truly international player in setting the standard for online news forms.
  • Kyle MacRae, head of Scoopt, one of the first agencies to capitalise on the demand for ‘citizen journalism’ content.
  • Pete Picton, editor of Sun Online. The tabloid has made a number of online ‘firsts’ and represents a different approach to online publishing, taking on elements of online gaming, mobile revenues, and video.
  • And Michael Hill’s appointment as Head of Multimedia at Trinity Mirror could be significant given his interest in citizen journalism.

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Tomorrow’s newspaper according to the INMA

[Keyword: , , ]. Some food for thought from the INMA (International Newspaper Marketing Association) European Conference in Barcelona. As reported by Innovations in Newspapers, the last speaker, Earl Wilkinson, the Executive Director of the International Newspaper Maketing Association gave his view about tomorrow´s newspaper as follows:

“1. Core print product will become smaller to fit consumer lifestyles – fewer pages, smaller page size, shorter stories.

“2. Deep, rich journalism will move online and be enhanced in virtual universe.

“3. Core product will be customized, interactive, and on-demand.

4. Miniature versions of the core product will target under-served groups.

“5. Digital options will multiply – get the newspaper anywhere, anytime, anyway.

“6. Newspaper features will be unbundled … iTunes pay-per-click model.

“7. You will buy a multi-media “membership” in the newspaper, not a print subscription.

“8. “Citizen journalism” will become another source for newspapers like Reuters, AP.

“9. Less “voice of God” (monologue), more “mirror of the community” (dialogue).”

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A lesson in computer assisted reporting

[Keyword: , ]. Here’s a great piece at Poynter which outlines how one blogger used online resources to investigate the truth behind the LonelyGirl15 controversy (a YouTube video that purported to be an online diary but which actually turned out to be a hoax). Here’s the details:

“On Sept. 8 [Mark Glaser] announced a contest to determine the truth behind these videos.

“By Sept. 12, he had a winner: Matt Foremski.

“How did he crack this case? Matt Foremski describes his sleuthing in detail — and
there are some tricks here that any investigative reporter should know how to use:

“I came across a comment that linked to a private MySpace page that was allegedly that of the actress who plays Lonelygirl15. As the profile was set to ‘private,’ there was no real info one could glean from the page. However, when I queried Google for that particular MySpace user name, ‘jeessss426,’ I found a Google cache from the page a few months ago when it was still public.”

“Here’s that cached MySpace page. (Reporting tip: Know how to pull up a Google cached page. And for that matter, know how to use the Internet Archive.)

“From there, Matt Foremski used Google searches intelligently to query on various angles related to Jessica Rose, the New Zealand-born actress who turned out to be playing LonelyGirl15. And others involved in the project turned up more photos and other information.

“This is a pretty good example of a distributed investigation — something I think any journalist can occasionally instigate, join, or build upon. This can be a fruitful exercise, if properly focused.

“More details at Silicon Valley Watcher. MSM coverage at the Los Angeles Times. “

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No media territory is safe

[Keyword: , , ]. There seems to be a raft of activity at the moment that’s seeing publishers spreading into other media and other territories.

Firstly, there’s the trend towards using web as a platform to invade new markets. The Guardian and The Times have already used their online brands to target America, and now NME, reports Press Gazette, is reported to be following suit.

Secondly, there’s the move, particularly by magazines, into using the web to produce other media. Vogue launching its own TV channel is today’s example; while teen magazines are desperately trying to keep their readership by taking advantage of mobile media, online forums, and even dropping the printed publication entirely in favour of a web-only operation. The Telegraph’s plans for a multimedia ‘hub’, meanwhile, will see journalists producing video and audio as well as print, while former picture editors at the Washington Post are now becoming ‘videographers’ (see this interview with a videographer).

And against all this is the opportunity the web presents for publishers to launch online-only publications. Jeremy Tapp of online publisher Magicalia explains the numbers at

“Publishing online and having a sturdy technological base has allowed Magicalia to launch titles that would not otherwise survive in print and attract several small audience groups that when combined offer a powerful advertising bait.

“Without the cost of distribution, without the cost of paper, we can reach into a smaller niche, She Cycles for example – I don’t think that could ever be supported as a newsstand title in its own right, it’s not likely that you could launch a woman only cycling magazine in the UK.”

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Citizen journalism = free content?

[Keyword: , , ]. Following my column in The Stirrer last week about the surge in free newspapers, there was something of an outcry when a Media Guardian article dared to do the maths on what would happen if all newspapers were free.

One line from the article caused particular offence, as it looked at ways to cut the imaginary budget of a typical paid-for paper to break even as a freesheet:

“Will a £5m reduction in budget be catastrophic? Unlikely. With a thriving website it should be possible to make better use of citizen journalism from our readers, thus cutting the editorial freelance bill. This might save another £1m.”

How simple! We just get the readers to create the content, and hey presto! We save a million.

The National Union of Journalists’ new media mailing list was aflame at this. “No need for journos” was the summary – ‘they’re trying to put us out of a job’ was the implication. Indeed, the trend for citizen journalism had previously so frightened the NUJ that, when last year they drew up a code of practice for citizen journalists, they decided not to use that phrase, but instead to refer to these people as “witness contributors”.

That phrase caused much laughter and backlash from writers who saw in the phrase a stubborn resistance to seeing their readers as anything other than passive consumers. But it’s not surprising that industry managers should see the rise of citizen journalism and user-generated content as a source of free content, not to mention a way to be seen to be cutting-edge.

But this perception of users as only a source of free content will ultimately backfire. Indeed, “free” is misleading, because a truly successful project will require substantial investment. The Guardian spent time and money building the technology behind the commentisfree website, while the BBC has a whole department paid to sift through user-generated content. On the other side of things, thelondonpaper has been criticised for setting up a section on its website for people to simply ‘contribute content’, with no apparent investment in giving them reasons for them to do so.

As more and more media organisations compete for users to create their content, citizen journalists may find themselves realising that their content is worth more than just a byline. Already agencies like Scoopt have sprung up to broker fees on behalf of ‘witness contributors’ who are lucky enough to snap something newsworthy.

Ultimately, if the news agencies competing for ‘free’ content increase in number, will it become a sellers’ market?

Related links:
Newspaper free-for-all
Citizen journalism – NUJ launches Code
Comment is free

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If you build it, they will come

[Keyword: ]. Heartening news for online journalists comes from an unlikely quarter: the previously awful Daily Mail website, reports The Guardian, “has seen massive online readership growth this year since it … increased resources for the website and put more content from the print edition on the web.”

“Web traffic on has grown from 1.3 million unique users in January to the current 6.6 million.”

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Are anti-Google newspapers cutting off their nose to spite their face?

[Keyword: ]. So a Belgian court has ruled that Google must de-list news stories from French-language newspapers, the latest move in an increasing grumbling from newspaper executives who see the search engine company as profiting from their material. (Agence France-Press brought a similar case last year).

Margaret Boribon, general secretary of Copiepresse, the company who brought the complaint, (and responsible for the copyright interests of French and German-language newspapers in Belgium) is quoted as saying “Google sells advertising and makes money on our content,” although helpfully corrects: “Google News sites do not carry any advertising, however Google search results, which can link to news stories, can carry paid for adverts.”

However, Jupiter Research analyst Benjamin Lehmann points out that by removing themselves from Google News, publishers may be cutting off their nose to spite their face:

“It is difficult to see what these organizations stand to gain in the long term from suing Google. By cutting themselves out of Google News, the Belgian press is only curtailing traffic to its online properties. Instead they should be competing to attract audience onto their sites via news feed aggregators, and adopting strategies to keep that audience onsite once they have arrived.

“Tactics for pursuing this strategy include:

a. Maintaining homepage-style navigation panels throughout site;
b. Embedding textual hyperlinks to related stories;
c. Selling banner and contextual advertising throughout the site;
d. Deploying audio and video to add value to stories.

In a nutshell, publishers should perhaps see the money that Google make off advertising as a fair ‘fee’ for the advertising and services that Google in turn provides for publishers’ content.

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