Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too many journalists indifferent to business side

Versión en español aquí.

Michael Meyer has studied some 150 digital news organizations and worries that too many of them neglect and even avoid the business side.

"Someone has to run the business," he said in a column written for

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Publisher Q: Never give up, never surrender

Versión en español aquí.

The new digital media entrepreneurs who are struggling to survive can take some inspiration from the story of Q*,  an independent newspaper publisher in a country of the former Soviet Union. (* Name withheld to protect him from further government repression.)

In 1990, Q was among many journalists who founded newspapers independent of the official media. The scent of freedom was in the air after the liberation from the Soviet Union.But as time went on these newspapers also became uncomfortable with the successor government, which despite providing certain freedoms remained an authoritarian regime.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Media-sponsored events generate revenue, buzz

Versión en español aquí.

Digital entrepreneurs should take notice of the success that the online publication Texas Tribune has been having with special events.

The Tribune’s events have generated significant revenue as well as editorial content and market buzz, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Editorial independence drives business of journalism on Internet

Versión en español aquí.
"Independent journalists on the Internet are able to rid themselves of the powers, practices and ideas that have defined the traditional press," said Guillermo Culell, General Manager for Regional Media in the Mercurio Group, Chile, in a talk with the participants in the Laboratory of Digital Journalism Ventures.
Culell has an abundance of experience in digital media for various Latin American news organizations and offered sensible yet profound advice. He argued that digital media can create a new model of "independent business" on the Internet. Their chief business advantage is that they have independence from:
  • Influence of corporate and political powers
  • Old habits and vices of journalism, such as stiff, formal language
  • Standard political agendas of the powers that be
  • Aversion to mistakes and risk-taking

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don’t dump your email account for Facebook -- yet

Versión en español aquí.

I was suprised and delighted to read today that the New York Times studied its readers’ habits for sharing articles and found that they prefer email over social networks.

The implication for web designers is that they should make email sharing a prominent tool on their websites or they might miss a big potential source of traffic.

For some reason, I still like managing my online life through email. Daily calendar alerts remind me of appointments. I subscribe to maybe two dozen newsletters so I don’t forget to follow developments in digital journalism or the business of media.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to decide whether to offer podcasts on your site

Versión en español aquí.

At the moment I am leading a course for Latin American journalists who have created their own digital news media (blog for the course in Spanish is here).

We just analyzed the multimedia aspects of a number of websites and a question arose about the value of offering podcasts. The simple answer is that it depends on the purpose of the site and the characteristics of the audience. 

There are tools available to offer a bewildering array of different services on your site, but before you deploy any of them, consider these questions:

  • How likely is it that this new service (podcast, video, audio, poll, blog, forum etc.) will attract a new segment of the target audience?
  • Do our competitors offer this service? If we can’t do it better than they do, maybe we should not consider it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The three key roles in a digital media operation

The biggest mistake that journalists make when they start an online news operation is that they don’t include marketing and technical people from the beginning.

Journalists are pretty good at figuring out how to tell stories online but they haven’t a clue about how to generate enough income to survive. They don’t know how to sell and even consider the notion somewhat repulsive. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Murdoch was Bubble Boy with Myspace purchase

If ever there were an example of what happens in a bubble economy it is News Corp.’s purchase of Myspace for $580 million in 2005.

Now the social network that was a media sweetheart has been sold for $35 million to Specific Media, an advertising network. In other words, it lost 94% of its market value in six years. Myspace did earn back its purchase price early on with a lucrative ad contract with Google, but it has never lived up to its expectations.

The reality check of Myspace comes at a time when a market value of $100 billion for Facebook is being discussed by supposedly sane people -- that is about 170 times the price Murdoch paid for Myspace.

And although Facebook shows a lot of promise, remember that the market value being discussed is 50 times revenue. I remember when a really good newspaper property might sell for two or three times revenue. That was before Bubble Boy.