Friday, September 26, 2014

Cancun: A strange tale of media censorship by cloning

I have never heard of a case like this anywhere.

The weekly magazine and website Luces del Siglo (Lights of the Century) in the resort city of Cancun, Mexico, has seen its editions replaced by counterfeit versions with the contents twisted to favor the governor of the state.

The publisher, Norma Madero, said yesterday in an interview with El Universal newspaper, that this "cloning" of her publication has occurred 38 times in the past three years, six times to the printed edition on newsstands and 32 times to its online edition.

The magazine has consistently criticized Roberto Borge, the governor of the state of Quintana Roo, which is home to the tourist centers Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Madero has accused Borge of being responsible for distributing phony copies of the magazine. The governor denies any knowledge of or involvement in the "cloning" of Luces del Siglo.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Students rack up media bills of $177 a month

"I never thought about how much I was spending on media. I just took it for granted, and now I realize that it is more than I would have imagined." -- student at Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico

I recently surveyed 22 students in a seminar on how much they spend on media every month. Bottom line, these students at an expensive private university in Mexico are spending the equivalent of about $177 a month on various types of media.

I asked them to include all kinds of media expenses, including those paid for at home by their parents. Many of these expenses were not part of anyone's budget 15 years ago:
  • Internet at home and on mobile devices, mobile apps
  • Telephone at home, mobile
  • Movies at cinemas, on physical media, online, streaming, apps
  • Television, on cable, on physical media, streaming, apps

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Opportunities abound in business journalism

"Business journalism is a wonderful career".
Versión en español.

MEXICO CITY -- Francisco Vidal Bonifaz has worked as a business journalist in Mexico for three decades, and he sees lots of possibilities for growth in this niche.

There are not many journalists with training in this field, either in Mexico or other countries. And there are few media that are focused on the economy, finance, and business.

Vidal Bonifaz believes that there is room for new business media on the web, especially at two ends of the spectrum: in breaking news that covers the ups and downs of markets, and in longer pieces that explain the significance of these movements. "There is a story behind every number," he likes to say.

If he were creating a new digital publication, "I would eliminate all the stuff in the middle. No stories of 300 words. I would focus on the two extremes," he told me in an interview in Mexico City.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Video on media entrepreneurs from S. Africa, Malaysia, Costa Rica

Source Fabric in Prague, which provides free, open-source content management systems for news organizations around the world, invited me to speak at their conference in the Czech Republic in October 2011.

They made a video of my presentation (below), which was about digital news entrepreneurs in South Africa, Malaysia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and other countries. (The first 30 seconds are pretty cool. I just saw the video for the first time last week after doing a search in YouTube.)



The conference, called Mediafabric 2011, had over 250 guests from five continents to explore the intersection of journalism and open technology.

Friday, August 22, 2014

On 5 continents, thousands of digital media startups

Versión en español.

As traditional media organizations cut back on staff and coverage, thousands of new digital media are popping up all over the world to fill the gaps.

I've compiled 14 lists of startups below. Some startups are included on more than one list. Can you think of any lists that I've left out?

Many of the organizations that compile lists also share tutorials, especially on revenue-generating models, to help others launch and sustain their news sites. Sustainability is the Holy Grail. Part of the reason digital media are springing up is because of the gaps left by cuts in coverage and staff at major media (graphic below, from Mark J. Perry's Carpe Diem blog via Clay Shirky's Medium post, "Last Call").


Mark J. Perry's graphic shows newspaper decline. A digital opportunity?

United States

1. The Pew Center has done a study of 178 nonprofit journalism websites with a detailed breakdown of their business models, "Nonprofit Journalism: A Growing but Fragile Part of the U.S. News System."

Gigaom followed up with an analysis of the study, and the Knight Foundation sponsored a roundtable discussion on the topic, with videos of the sessions.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's 1927, and the news media are out of control

Charles Lindbergh and his plane. (Library of Congress photo via Mother Nature Network)
Bill Bryson's book One Summer: America, 1927 captures a moment when the country's burgeoning news media feasted on the stories of two extraordinary men, Babe Ruth and Charles Lindbergh. The media made them into gods. The baseball hero basked in the attention. The aviator hated it.

If you can't bear the constant assault of 24-hour cable news, Buzzfeed, and Facebook updates, you should realize that America lived through a similar media explosion in the 1920s.

Then the mass media were newspapers, radio, talking pictures, phonographs, and the telephone. Thes media of the day hounded and entertained people on the streets, in their offices, in their leisure hours, and in the privacy of their homes. Sound familiar? The difference may be only a matter of degree. Today we carry the mass media with us on the devices in our pockets.

In the '20s, the new media were just becoming massive national, industrial-scale businesses that needed big stories to feed the news cycle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Digital media: Amusing ourselves to death?

Gencarelli, Manhattan College Photo
Versión en español

Communications professors at Tec of Monterrey had a visitor last week, Thom Gencarelli of Manhattan College, who made us think about what we are teaching and how we are doing it.

Among the questions he left us with:
  • In 1985, Neil Postman wrote that the dominant media of a culture in fact shapes the culture, is the culture (Amusing Ourselves to Death). In his day, Postman saw television as degrading all aspects of culture -- religion, literature, education, politics -- to a form of visual entertainment. So how are digital media defining and shaping our culture today? he asked. Are they degrading or improving it?
  • Do the immediacy, urgency, and visual nature of digital media make us less capable of appreciating the culture of the written word?