News Corp’s acquisition of the Skiff e-reader platform has been widelyreported in the last few hours. It’s a completely sensible move from an organisation which understands that it has to control every part of the news chain if it is to extract as much value as possible from content, advertising, and user data.
Of course we’ve been here before with MySpace – a distribution network, database, and content platform that Murdoch acquired to howls of derision – then applause, when an enormous advertising deal was brokered with Google – and derision once more as MySpace failed to meet targets stipulated by that deal.
I’m not sure whether it is a wise move to compete with the technical expertise and experience of Amazon and Apple – but you can bet that, commercially, News Corp has a very strong hand.
One point to note is that Apple’s business model is primarily based on selling devices; Amazon’s is mainly about selling things; but News Corp is mainly about selling the intangibles of advertising and content. That may give them cause to discount their technology heavily as a mass-market offering to tie people in, and acquire customer data.
News Corp is a network, not just a series of holdings. And the latest acquisitions suggest they’re not going to let someone else control their market without a fight. The question is: how soon will they put the gloves on? And how hard, and long, can they fight?
I’ve just been casting my eye over the Magazine Production work of two groups of second year students on the journalism degree I teach on. In addition to design and subbing, they were assessed on ‘web strategy’ – in other words, how they approached distribution online.
To give this a little context: early in the module ideas for magazines had to be pitched to the student union for financial backing in a Dragons’ Den-style competition (where among other things they had to address web strategy and business model). One idea per class ‘won’, which the whole class then had to work together to produce.
The winning ideas were: Nu Life – a magazine aimed at international students; and Skint – a money-saving guide with a particular focus on food. This is what they did…
The social network as web hub
Both groups created a Ning social network as the hub of their activity. Nu Life‘s pulled RSS feeds from the magazine blog and from local news services, in addition to having blog posts on the Ning itself, hosting images, originally produced video, an event, and forums. Continue reading →
Anyone interested in video on the web – and particularly making money from video on the web – should pay close attention to the partnership between MTV and MySpace, which uses fingerprinting technology to allow the broadcaster to identify video being ‘pirated’ and shared on the web.
So far, so old news. The significance is this: the technology is being discussed not as a way to stop people ‘ripping’ and embedding video material, but to actually encourage them. Why?
Last week I was at a magazine publishers talking about social media platforms, when it was put to me that the platform I was talking about was “mainly used by Valley types”, and why should journalists invest time in a platform when the majority of readers of more conservative titles don’t use it?
It’s a recurring question – so much so that I have decided to present my answer here. I’d welcome any additions. Continue reading →
In the final parts of this series I look at two concepts that have become increasingly central to online journalism in the post-Web 2.0 era: community and conversation. I look at why journalists need to understand how both have changed, how they are linked, and how to embrace them in your work processes.
Conversation and community have always been the lifeblood of journalism. Good journalism has always sought to serve a community; commercially, journalism has always needed large or affluent communities to support it. And good journalism – whether informative or sensationalist – has always generated conversation. Continue reading →
I’ve decided to respond to student questions now via video. The latest collection are from Jess Barlow, and are copied below. The video responses are split into three videos – and there is a transcription of the responses at the end:
Which online tools and resources do you use to keep up to date with breaking news stories, and why do you use these?
Do you keep a personal Blog and if so how regularly do you update it, and why?
How important is Blogging to you personally, and in your opinion for online news production?