Tag Archives: advertising

How news organisations can use ‘open innovation’ – interview with InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin

Dwayne Spradlin is CEO of InnoCentive, a company which has been building and managing crowdsourcing platforms since 2001. I asked him what news organisations could learn from InnoCentive’s experiences:

News organizations are at a turning point right now. The problem is that publishers have yet to find an online advertising model that can compensate for the shift from paid to free subscriptions. And when you think about what it means to compensate for this shift, online advertising needs to both fund online content and subsidize traditional print content if both vehicles are to survive.

Publishers have not found this magic formula, which is why you see so many abandoning their print publications. Today, they must innovate and reinvent their businesses for the online world.

We have had the opportunity to observe how established industries (R&D, for example) have been forced to change and adjust to a new reality. News organizations are no different from other industries in that to grow and compete in an increasingly Internet-driven world they need to operate within a fundamentally different model – an interactive model. Continue reading

I’m launching an MA in Online Journalism

From September I will be running an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I hope it’s going to be different from any other journalism MA.

That’s because in putting it together I’ve had the luxury of a largely blank canvas, which means I’ve not had to work within the strictures and structures of linear production based courses.

The first words I put down on that blank piece of paper were: Enterprise; experimentation; community; creativity.

And then I fleshed it out:

In the Online Journalism MA’s first stage (Certificate) students will study Journalism Enterprise. This will look at business models for online journalism, from freemium to mobile, public funding to ad networks, alongside legal and ethical considerations. I’m thinking at the moment that each student will have to research a different area and present a business case for a startup.

They will also study Newsgathering, Production and Distribution. I’m not teaching them separately because, online, they are often one and the same thing. And as students should already have basic skills in these areas, I will be focusing on building and reinventing those as they run a live news website (I’ll also be involved in an MA in Social Media, so there should be some interesting overlap).

The second stage of the MA Online Journalism (Diploma) includes the module I’m most excited about: Experimentation – aka Online Journalism Labs.

This is an explicit space for students to try new things, fail well, and learn what works. They will do this in partnership with a news organisation based on a problem they both identify (e.g. not making enough revenue; poor community; etc.) – I’ve already lined up partnerships with national and regional newspapers, broadcasters and startups in the UK and internationally: effectively the student acts as a consultant, with the class as a whole sharing knowledge and experience.

Alongside that they will continue to explore more newsgathering, production and distribution, exploring areas such as computer assisted reporting, user generated content, multimedia and interactivity. They may, for example, conduct an investigation that produces particularly deep, engaging and distributed content and conversation.

The final stage is MA by Project – either individually or as a group, students make a business case for a startup or offshoot, research it, build it, run it and bid for funding.

By the time they leave the course, graduates should not be going into the industry at entry level (after all, who is recruiting these days?), but at a more senior, strategic level – or, equally likely, to establish startups themselves. I’m hoping these are the people who are going to save journalism.

At the moment all these plans are in draft form. I am hoping this will be a course without walls, responding to ideas from industry and evolving as a result. Which is why I’m asking for your input now: what would you like to see included in an MA Online Journalism? The BJTC’s Steve Harris has mentioned voice training, media law and ethics. The BBC’s Peter Horrocks has suggested programming and design skills. You may agree or disagree.

Let’s get a conversation going.

If you’re still thinking about charging for online news in 2009, you’re dead already (a primer)

This afternoon I will once again be working with a group of editors as we look at business models for online news. To their credit, the micropayments/paywall issue rarely comes up – and then only as a ‘devil’s advocate’ question. But it seems others have been asleep for the past 10 years. To those and the unfortunate souls having to field these questions, I offer you the following primer culled from recent coverage of this pointless debate: Continue reading

Kitemarks to save the news industry? Q&A with Andrew Currah

Reuters recently published a report entitled: ‘What’s Happening to Our News: An investigation into the likely impact of the digital revolution on the economics of news publishing in the UK‘. In it author Andrew Currah provides an overview of the situation facing UK publishers, and 3 broad suggestions as to ways forward – namely, kitemarks, public support, and digital literacy education.

The kitemark idea seems to have stirred up the most fuss. In the first of a series of email exchanges I asked Currah how he saw this making any difference to consumption of newspapers, and how it could work in practice. This is his response:

Yes, the kitemark idea has triggered quite a response… Unfortunately, as the discussion online suggests, the term has implied to many a top-down, centralised system of certification which would lead to some form of
‘apartheid’ between bloggers and journalists. Continue reading

Carnival of journalism: How do you financially support journalism online?

Gather round, gather round for this month’s Carnival of Journalism, which addresses the timely question of ‘How do you financially support journalism online?’. I’ll be updating this post as the carnival performers put on their outsized business heads and add their peacock-like contributions.

An iTunes model for news? More difficult than you think.

The following is a comment I posted on Standupkid’s Localtvnews blog, a response to the David Carr NYT column ‘Let’s invent an iTunes for News’. The comment ended up being so lengthy I thought I’d better reproduce it here:

The whole iTunes idea is flawed on so many levels: mainly as people are willing to pay for music because they play it over and over again. News is disposable. Also, an individual piece of music tends to be unique – but when an earthquake happens, it’s not like the only way you can find out what happens is by paying a dollar to download the article about it. Put another way, how much effort does it take to compose, rehearse and record a track? Now how much time does it take a journalist to write a standard article? Very little journalism has value approaching that of music and yes, perhaps we’d pay for it, but how would we find it? And how could we produce it often enough to be viable? (Note that most musicians do not make a living from their music – would an iTunes for news mean the same for journalists?). Continue reading

Business models for news online – presentation

The following is a presentation I made to journalists in Kiev about new media business models for news. Most of the detail you can find in part 5 of the Model for a 21st Century Newsroom. You can also find links to the statistics about advertising here and here; and more links about business models here.