Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Secret to surviving 5 years: keep experimenting

Juanita Leon, founder of La Silla Vacia. ISOJ photo.
Launching a news publication online is the easy part.

Paying the bills and surviving for several years is the hard part.

Three of those who have evolved and survived for at least five years are La Silla Vacia, a political website in Colombia,  Homicide Watch, a news and data platform in three U.S. cities, and Texas Tribune, a news site focused on Texas civic life.

It often takes at least four iterations for a digital initiative to gain traction, according to Michael Maness, vice president of the Knight Foundation’s Journalism and Media Innovation program.

Maness moderated a panel in which the editors told their stories at the International Symposium on Online Journalism April 5 at the Knight Center for Digital Journalism in the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Startups aimed at millennials thrive in 3 languages

Joey Chung, co-founder of The News Lens
Some of the fastest growing digital media in Asia, Latin America and the U.S. are tapping into a young audience that wants news that is less partisan, more believable and sometimes irreverent.

Animal Politico in Mexico started out as a Twitter feed with an edge. News Lens in Taiwan was designed for people who distrust all traditional media. And PolicyMic in the U.S. is aimed at millennials who want to participate in a conversation around the news.

The founders told their stories April 4-5 at the International Symposium on Online Journalism at the Knight Center for Digital Journalism in the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Digital entrepreneurs turn to mobile for users, revenue

Leo Prieto:betting on "mobile first"

Versión en español aquí.

Leo Prieto is a digital media entrepreneur in Chile whose 10 communities attract an audience of 10 million users a month from all over the Spanish-speaking world.

Late last year, his company, Betazeta, decided to go "mobile first" and optimize the design of all its sites for mobile devices. More than half their traffic comes from mobile.

"Mobile phones are always with us," Prieto told me in an interview via Skype from his office in Santiago. "On the street, at home, we check them every two minutes, a hundred times a day."

And now that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are getting as much as three-fourths of their traffic from mobile devices, digital media publishers can see growth in social traffic by optimizing for mobile. "It's a virtuous circle with the social networks and mobile devices," Prieto said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mexican blogger builds a business out of political satire

Chumel Torres
Versión en español aquí. 

Chumel Torres is a video-blogger whose satiric take on politics and journalism has managed to attract 483,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel in just one year.

He has made a business out of the sponsors he attracts to his weekly program,  El Pulso de la República (The Pulse of the Republic).

And he has a message for other young people who are frustrated with the coverage of politics by the major media: if you don't like what they are doing, start your own program or news site, he said in an interview.

"If the newspaper doesn't like you, doesn't listen to you, doesn't give you any money, doesn't offer any opportunities, well then, create your own project. Anybody can shoot a video or record a radio program and upload it to the web. The only limitation is what you have in your head."

Who's a journalist? Only the public can decide

Versión en español aquí.

Jean-François Fogel has the best description I have heard of the new relationship between journalists and the public in the world of digital media.

Simply put, only the public can decide whose work deserves the respect and attention we previously gave to journalists working at major media. It is the public who decides if a particular voice among the billions on the Internet has the credibility, ethics and independence that we expect from journalists.

Really, any person who publishes on the web and follows the standards of professional journalism can be considered a journalist, Fogel said in an interview. And what are those standards?

"Journalism is, of course, a disinterested voice. It isn't a voice that urges the purchase of something or a vote for someone or a particular behavior. It's an independent voice that can't be tied to an association, a brand or an organization. It's a responsible voice that expresses itself about things that are relevant to a society. In the world of digital journalism, a journalist is a person who speaks from an ethical point of view."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

MOOC experts surprised by how they're evolving

Versión en español aquí

Mark Glaser of PBS Mediashift recently pulled together a panel of experts for an online chat about how massive open online courses (MOOCs) are affecting universities and professional education. Some exceprts from the fascinating 40-minute exchange are below.

Rosental Alves, director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas, has been running MOOCs on journalism topics since 2012.

One of the surprising things about these courses is how many non-journalists are taking them, Alves said.  There is a hunger for learning the journalistic skills of gathering, verifying and presenting information, he said.

(Many of my 2,000 fellow students were non-journalists when I took the center's course on data visualization offered by Alberto Cairo.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

7 mobile stats that should scare digital publishers

After years of predictions that this year would be the year of mobile, finally it has arrived. So here are some numbers that should prompt strategizing and action by digital media publishers.

1. Web traffic from mobile devices was up 78 percent year over year in mid-2013, and 109 percent over 2011, according to Ayaz Nanji, writing in Marketing Profs.

To cite one prominent media example of the trend, ESPN has been registering more than half of its traffic from mobile. For publishers the message is clear: you need a mobile app or mobile-friendly version of your content or your audience will leave you behind.

2. In 2013, for the first time, Americans spent more time on their mobile devices every day than on the desktop, according to eMarketer.  Mobile's share of daily time spent, 19.4 percent, is the only category that grew in the past year: television, desktop computers, print and radio all declined, as they have each year since 2010.

3. As of the fourth quarter of 2013, almost half of Facebook's $2.6 billion in total revenue came from advertising sold on mobile devices. This is the world's largest social network, with half a billion daily active users. Facebook has made it clear that it is betting heavily on mobile. Why? Because about three-fourths of its users are there. (As a point of comparison, three-fourths of Twitter's audience and 65 percent of its ad revenues come from mobile. )