Future of Media

Syria Deeply and the ongoing unbundling of the news

Instead of filing traditional news reports about Syria to traditional outlets like ABC News and Bloomberg, foreign correspondent Lara Setrakian decided to start her own dedicated news site about the conflict in the war-torn country — part of an ongoing trend towards the unbundling of the media.

What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform

Instagram says it is removing the ability for Twitter to embed photos because it wants users to go to its own website instead of Twitter’s to see that content. Other media companies should probably also be asking themselves similar questions about their relationship with Twitter.

Lessons in how to crowdsource journalism from ProPublica

In an effort to reveal the extent of political ad spending that occurs in key television markets, ProPublica has put together one of the most ambitious crowdsourcing projects in recent memory, and learned a thing or two about how to encourage crowd participation.

What a plagiarism epidemic says about the decline of print

In the latest episode of journalistic plagiarism, a Canadian newspaper columnist has been accused of taking content from others without credit. The response from the newspaper and the editors involved speaks volumes about how much traditional media outlets have to learn about how the web operates.

The e-book lending wars: When authors attack

An incident in which an e-book lending site was shut down by a horde of angry authors with takedown notices — most of whom misunderstood the site’s purpose — is another example of how the publishing industry is fighting the same battles as the music industry.

Twitter has a garden, now it’s working on the walls

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says the company wants to become more of a media player, and also wants to become a Facebook-style platform inside which developers build applications — but can the company find a balance between competing with third-party providers and working alongside them?

Note to media: Serve your users, not your platform

A simple news service like Evening Edition — which a group of web designers came up with as a side project — contains a number of lessons that mainstream media outlets might want to consider, such as serving readers’ information needs instead of their own.

Why links matter: Linking is the lifeblood of the web

Many online media outlets continue to rewrite news without providing a link to the original source, but doing this is both rude and short-sighted: Linking is one of the fundamental underpinnings of the internet and a crucial part of the culture of the web.

News has been changed forever by the iPhone

The arrival of the iPhone five years ago changed many things, but one of the most fundamental was the way that news and journalism are delivered and consumed — and at the same time, it also revolutionized the way that news content is created.

Should Twitter have a built-in correction button?

Media advocates say Twitter should add a feature that allows users to correct an erroneous tweet by striking through a mistake after the fact, to prevent errors from being retweeted — but is such a thing really necessary, even if Twitter could implement it?

Why traditional media should be afraid of Twitter

Twitter’s hiring of editorial staff to curate real-time information around news events through “hashtag pages” may not be a direct competitor for media companies, but the areas of overlap are growing — and so is its attractiveness to the advertisers that media entities desperately need.

Ben Huh says journalistic objectivity is a trap

I Can Has Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh’s day job may involve funny pictures of cats and other internet memes, but he also has some serious opinions about the future of journalism, including the idea that journalistic objectivity as we know it has outlived its usefulness.

The decline of social-news apps and Facebook as a gatekeeper

The recent dramatic declines in users of some Facebook social-reading apps from newspapers like the Washington Post reinforces a lesson that media companies need to keep in mind at all times — namely, that Facebook is the information gatekeeper now, and you are just a provider.

How and why you should do data journalism

Some of the media industry’s leading “data journalists” have published a crowdsourced handbook for the practice of data-oriented journalism, including examples of some of the best projects, tips on how to hire hacker-journalists — and an argument for why data journalism could help save the media.

What is the purpose of a newspaper?

Newspapers find themselves at a crossroads: they need to generate more revenue in order to stay in business, but some of the ways they could do that might conflict with the public-interest aspect of journalism. How do they find a middle road — or can they?

Does agency pricing mean higher e-book prices? That depends

Smashwords says its internal data shows that the agency-pricing model — which is the subject of a federal antitrust case against Apple and the major book publishers — doesn’t mean higher prices for e-books. But does that mean the Justice Department’s case is irrelevant? No.

Guardian says open journalism is the only way forward

In contrast to the wave of support for paywalls that is sweeping the newspaper industry, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says that he remains committed to practicing “open journalism,” an approach he believes is the only real option for media in the digital era.

Twitter + Saudi Arabia: It’s not easy being a media entity

Prince Alwaleed’s $300-million investment in Twitter has raised fears of undue influence if the “Arab Spring” uprisings spread to Saudi Arabia. While this seems unlikely, that users are concerned at all highlights the pressure Twitter is under as it becomes a major media entity.

Defining journalism is a lot easier said than done

In the wake of an Oregon court ruling that decided a blogger wasn’t a journalist, some have argued it’s more important to define what journalism is — but in many ways, that’s even harder to define than who qualifies to be a journalist.

Publishers still missing the point on e-book prices

By keeping e-book prices high, the Big Six book publishers are not only getting less money from their books in many cases, but they are also fuelling piracy and pushing readers away — all of which is giving Amazon even more ammunition to use against them.

How publishers gave Amazon a stick to beat them with

Amazon has been busy disrupting the traditional publishing market by encouraging self-publishing and signing authors to its own in-house imprint, but author Charles Stross argues that publishers themselves handed Amazon its biggest weapon in this fight: namely, the widespread use of digital-rights management locks for books.

NewsCred gets $4 million to reinvent the newswire

NewsCred, which started off trying to filter the news for consumers based on credibility, has created what it says is the modern digital version of a traditional newswire and signed up more than 750 sources including mainstream publishers such as Forbes and The Guardian.

Memo to AP: Twitter is the newswire now

In another sign that it doesn’t really understand the evolution of media in the age of Twitter, the Associated Press has admonished its journalists for posting news about their own arrests to Twitter instead of saving that information for its traditional wire service.

Why does the future of news have to be us versus them?

A writer at the Columbia Journalism Review has taken aim at what he sees as the real reason for the media industry’s problems: “future of news” visionaries, who he says are hurting more than they are helping. But is that really where the problem lies?

Twitter and journalism: It shouldn’t be that complicated

Associated Press says its journalists shouldn’t express opinions on Twitter, and some are recommending reporters modify the way they retweet to avoid giving the impression they agree. But all that’s really required is that we stop pretending journalists don’t have opinions in the first place.

Kindle lending: Book publishers still not getting it

The fact that none of the six major book publishers are taking part in the “Netflix for books” lending program that Amazon just launched for the Kindle is another sign that the industry is more interested in retaining power than adapting to a changing business model.

It’s time to admit that journalists are human beings

In the wake of the sanctioning of a public-radio host for being involved in an Occupy Wall Street protest, former Slate media critic Jack Shafer says that media outlets should stop trying to force their journalists to pretend that they are soul-less robots without opinions.

Good news and bad news for tablets and media

A new report on tablet usage found that more than half of those surveyed use their devices to read the news, and they are reading more than they used to — but many of the sources they are using are non-traditional, and few are willing to pay.

Steve Jobs and the continuing disruption of media

The products created by Apple and its founder Steve Jobs have revolutionized a host of different industries in the past couple of decades, from personal computing to mobile telephony. But they have also had a substantial impact on the way we consume media of all kinds.

What happens to books when the Kindle is free?

In addition to launching its new color tablet the Kindle Fire last week, Amazon also announced another price drop for the original Kindle, which is now just $79. Could the e-reader eventually become free, and if it did, what would that mean for the e-book industry?

Is it Google’s job to somehow improve the media?

At Google’s recent Zeitgeist symposium, legendary TV newsman Ted Koppel suggested that it is somehow Google’s duty to “fix” the news, and CEO Larry Page seemed to agree. But relying on Google to choose what news we should read is a very slippery slope.

Kindle Fire: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

It’s nice for media companies to have a strong alternative like Amazon’s Kindle Fire when it comes to the tablet market, but the bottom line is the same as with Apple: They provide the content, but the platform owner is in control of the relationship.

Why Netflix is a cautionary tale for newspapers

What kinds of lessons can newspapers and other print publishers draw from the experience of Netflix, which has come under fire from users for trying to make the transition from its legacy DVD-rental business to online streaming? Here’s a hint: they’re not good.

Freedom of the press applies to everyone — yes, even bloggers

Police across the country have been arresting people for taping them with cellphones, but a recent decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals makes it clear that such behavior is protected by the First Amendment, and that people doing this are effectively acting as journalists.

Why the idea of a Netflix for e-books makes sense

Amazon is allegedly planning to launch a Netflix-style subscription service for books. While this idea is bound to get some criticism from book lovers — not to mention book publishers — it seems like a natural step in the ongoing evolution of the book.

No, licensing journalists isn’t the answer

In response to the upheaval in the media industry and what they see as the problems that the web has created for journalism, some are arguing that journalists should be regulated and licensed — but such solutions would create worse problems than they claim to solve.

Amazon continues on its mission to disintermediate publishers

Amazon has launched a new feature that allows readers to ask questions of authors from their Kindle e-book readers — which looks like yet another step in the online bookseller’s ongoing quest to cut publishers out of the equation and build relationships directly with authors.

So when does academic publishing get disrupted?

While every other aspect of traditional publishing has been disrupted by digital forces, there is one large market that remains undisturbed — academic journals. Why has this business been able to resist the tide of change that is sweeping through the rest of the industry?

Balance of power continues to shift in the e-book wars

In the latest sign of the disruption of the book-publishing business, John Locke — who earlier this year became the first self-published author to sell a million e-books — has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster that shows how the industry is having to adapt.

NYT Labs: Can a newspaper think like a startup?

The New York Times has rolled out a site called beta620, to provide a home for all of its experimental web projects and apps. But can the paper successfully adopt the kind of beta culture that drives startups, or is the new site just a sideshow?

How Chartbeat wants to help save the media industry

Chartbeat’s Tony Haile says the company created a special version of its real-time analytics service called Newsbeat because it wants to help publishers understand their online businesses better, by giving them more data about what readers are interested in and where they are coming from.

Is the internet making journalism better or worse? Yes

For several days now, journalism professor Jay Rosen and author Nicholas Carr have been debating whether the internet makes journalism better or worse. In the end, neither side wins — or both do — because the internet amplifies both the good and the bad things about the media.

Does using social media interfere with creativity?

Using social-media tools has become almost a necessity for musicians and artists of all kinds, as a way of promoting their work and connecting with fans. But can doing all this get in the way of the creativity that makes them artists in the first place?

What media companies can learn from the book industry

The forces that are driving the disruption in traditional book publishing are the same as those affecting other media as well, whether it’s newspapers and magazines or virtually any other publishing-based business. So what can publishers and content companies learn from what is happening to books?

TapIn launches a mobile social network for news

A startup called Tackable has launched a mobile “crowdsourcing” app for the San Jose Mercury News called TapIn that allows the paper to ask readers to submit photos and tips about news events, and also allows it to pitch them on Groupon-style location-based discount offers.

Newspapers and social media: Still mostly doing it wrong

While some mainstream media outlets are trying to take advantage of social tools to engage with their readers, others still seem stuck in the Dark Ages. The latest example of a misguided policy comes from E.W. Scripps, which owns a chain of newspapers and TV affiliates.

Twitter wants to be a journalist’s best friend

Using Twitter as a tool for journalism has become more and more mainstream over the past year, and the company’s launch of a media resource center and toolbox for reporters is clearly designed to stake Twitter’s claim as a journalist and media company’s best friend.

Can OnSwipe convince media to go web instead of app?

OnSwipe is launching the full version of its web-publishing service today, which allows media companies to create tablet-friendly views of their content that look and act like apps. But will that be enough to drag publishers out of the arms of Apple and its walled garden?

Future of media: Community is your new business model

Amid all the flailing around that media companies are doing to try and solve their revenue problems, with paywalls and iPad apps, too few are looking at how connecting with their community (or communities) of readers can help increase engagement and lead to new revenue models.

What does the journalism of the future look like?

We’ve spent so long consuming the news in fairly predictable formats that the new forms of journalism we are seeing all around us can be confusing. But these new forms have the potential to broaden the field immensely, and that is a good thing.

What Media Companies Need to Learn From Startups

Many mainstream media companies are busy releasing me-too iPad apps and launching paywalls, but few are doing anything really innovative or different. Anil Dash of Activate Media says media entities need to find ways of disrupting themselves and their businesses by hacking their own organizations.

What If Everyone on Twitter Read the Same Book?

Social activity around books used to be limited to Oprah-style book clubs, but Jeff Howe — the author and journalism professor who coined the term “crowdsourcing” — wants to take that concept into the future by using Twitter to create the world’s largest virtual book-reading club.

News Flash: Twitter Doesn’t Make You Smart or Stupid

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says he is concerned that Twitter is decreasing our attention spans and generally making us stupid — but he misses the crucial point that Twitter and other social media are just tools, and that their benefits outweigh their disadvantages.

The Future of Media: It’s Not Piracy, It’s Marketing

The story of how a children’s book with an unusual title made it to number one on the Amazon bestsellers’ list before it was even published reinforces a lesson for content publishers of all kinds: sometimes what looks like piracy is actually marketing for your content.

Google Adds News Near You — Newspapers Still Nowhere

Google said Friday it has added location-based news to its mobile version of Google News — not a huge development for the web giant, but another step towards offering news that is personally relevant to readers, something newspapers and other media outlets continue to struggle with.

News Editors Still Don’t Want Journalists to Be Human

The American Society of News Editors has come out with a report looking at social-media policies at major media organizations, and while there is some positive advice, the report continues to tell media outlets that journalists should not be human beings when they are online.

Osama Bin Laden and the New Ecosystem of News

While many would like to give credit to Twitter for breaking the news about Osama bin Laden, this isn’t about Twitter vs. media — it’s about the reality of a new ecosystem of news, one in which Twitter and Facebook play an extremely powerful role.

Craig Newmark: Media Is the Immune System of Democracy

At the Activate conference in New York, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark talked about his work with non-profits and his views on the importance of a free press, and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder Lawrence Lessig talked about his efforts to fight corruption with a project called Rootstrikers.

Journalism Gets Better the More People Who Do It

Journalism professor Jay Rosen says one of the lessons he has learned in his career is that “the more people who participate in the press, the stronger it will be.” In other words, while “crowdsourcing” can produce plenty of noise, journalism is the better for it.

News.me, Trove & Newspaper For Me

News.me, which grew out of an experiment by the New York Times, and Trove — which is backed by the Washington Post — have very different takes on customizing the news and making it social, but both are part of a growing trend towards personalized media.

Huffington Post Doubles Down on Social Media

If there’s one thing The Huffington Post does better than just about any other media entity, it’s take advantage of social media — and the site has just rolled out some new features that traditional publishers and media entities could learn some useful lessons from.

Ad Kingpin Has Advice For Media, But He’s Mostly Wrong

Advertising agency titan Sir Martin Sorrell was recently asked by BusinessWeek what the media industry needs to do in order to survive in these difficult times, but unfortunately for anyone hoping to be enlightened, his advice — paywalls, consolidation and government subsidies — is almost completely wrong.

Note to Media: Don’t Fight Zite, Learn From It

News-reading app maker Zite has been threatened by a group of traditional media outlets who allege it’s guilty of copyright infringement for reformatting their content. Instead of sending legal threats, those publishers should try to learn what Zite is offering readers that they aren’t.

EveryBlock Learns Secret to Local News: People

Hyper-local site EveryBlock started out as an automated news aggregator, pulling in feeds based on specific locations. But founder Adrian Holovaty says he has realized that data is nothing without human interaction, and so the site has relaunched with more of a focus on community.

Why AOL Was So Desperate to Hook Up With Huffington Post

AOL has made the acquisition of The Huffington Post sound like a nice add-on for its existing content business, but the reality is that AOL had to do something dramatic, since traffic has been plummeting and losses increasing at some of its major media properties.

NYT Editor Says It’s Only Journalism When He Does It

With just a few paragraphs about the evils of aggregation and the rise of the Huffington Post, in which he talks about aggregators as “pirates,” the executive editor of the New York Times manages to say volumes about how little he understands where media is now.

Newspapers Need to Be Of the Web, Not Just On the Web

The secret to online success for newspapers doesn’t depend on technology or even specific kinds of content, says Emily Bell, the former head of digital for The Guardian. All it requires is a firm commitment to be “of the web, not just on the web.”

Why Did It Take So Long for Newspapers to Copy Groupon?

The New York Times is expected to launch a service soon called TimesLimited, which appears to be a Groupon-style email marketing platform. Since they have such close relationships with advertisers already, why didn’t newspapers like the NYT come up with this idea before Groupon did?

Book Publishers Need to Wake Up and Smell the Disruption

The evidence continues to accumulate that e-books are not just something established authors can use, but that they are becoming a real alternative to traditional publishing contracts for emerging authors as well — and that should serve as a big wake-up call for the book-publishing industry.

Memo to Newspapers: Incremental Change is Not Helping

Making the transition from print publishing to being digital-first media outlets hasn’t been easy for newspapers — in fact, many have stubbornly resisted this change, and tried to dip their toes into digital waters gradually. But incremental changes are not helping them adapt to the new reality.

Is Hyper-Local News Doomed, or Did TBD Just Get Sandbagged?

The dismantling of Washington-based local news site TBD has some arguing that such local online-media ventures are doomed to failure, but others maintain that the site’s demise was a result of corporate infighting, and says nothing about the strength of the original concept.

You Can’t Play a New Media Game By Old Media Rules

The web has turned breaking news into something that lasts a matter of minutes — or even seconds — rather than hours. If your business is to break news, your job is becoming harder every day, as Deadline Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke is only the latest to discover.

Why Google’s One Pass Could Be a Ticket to Nowhere

Google has gotten a lot of attention for One Pass, the all-in-one subscription plan for publishers that the search giant revealed earlier today — mostly because it’s a contrast to Apple’s new subscription system. But does that mean publishers should sign up with Google? Not necessarily.

Hyper-Local News Startup TBD’s Future is TBD

One of the more high-profile experiments in hyper-local news, a Washington, D.C.-based startup with the unlikely name TBD, has had a somewhat troubled history — losing its general manager just months after launch — and now the site has been restructured, raising fears about its future.

Storify Gets Funding From Khosla Ventures to Reinvent Media Online

Storify, a San Francisco-based startup that launched a social-media aggregation service for journalists last fall, has closed a $2-million Series A round of funding from Khosla Ventures. Founder and former Associated Press foreign correspondent Burt Herman says he wants to reinvent the way storytelling happens online.