Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Newspaper culture still blocks move to digital

Gumersindo Lafuente of El Pais (photo by James Breiner
Versión en español aquí.

The culture war of print vs. digital rages on and continues to block the transformation of the newspaper industry. An incident at Spain's most prestigious daily and a study of 38 U.S. newspapers both made this clearer recently.

At El Pais in Spain, the newsroom protested after Gumersindo Lafuente, the head of digital operations, told a journalism conference that a prime consideration when hiring a journalist should be the number of his or her Twitter followers.

It didn't help that Lafuente and his team were imported two years ago from a failed web operation amid layoffs of print journalists, according to the report in

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guardian's Facebook app challenges Google

A new Facebook app launched by The Guardian in England could signal a major challenge to Google’s dominance of referral traffic to news websites.

Google used to drive 40 percent of The Guardian’s traffic, but social networks referred more than search several times in February, said Tanya Cordrey, director of digital development at Guardian News and Media.

In the U.S., Google refers a third of the traffic to news websites, four times more than Facebook, according to The State of the News Media 2012.

Nifty new app

Much of The Guardian’s Facebook traffic is attributed to an app that has been downloaded 8 million times since its launch in September, according to

“The ‘frictionless sharing’ app works by readers opting in to share all articles they read with their Facebook friends, generating more traffic for the news site with ‘no editorial curation’,” the site reported. 

It is not clear how this app might be different from or better than those used by other news organizations. But if something similar were adopted at U.S. media, Facebook could become more of an ally of news organizations instead of just a competitor for readers’ time.


Google takes magic out of advertising sales process
Social media challenge Google for news distribution
Facebook to overtake Yahoo in display advertising
Total users and pageviews are misleading measures of web traffic
Robert Niles: How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online
Making money Part I: Advice from Mark Briggs
You don't need all the skills to get started
How much to charge advertisers? As much as possible
More paywalls won't save journalists' jobs

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crap detector Part I: Credibility as business model

Crap Detector Part II: Mr. Daisey's Apple Factory

A digital news organization has to differentiate itself from the mass of online competitors vying for people's attention. The best way is to be credible, reliable and trustworthy. 

Credibility is the most valuable asset of a news organization. It  attracts a community whose members can collectively support the site with their resources as fans, recommenders, subscribers, advertisers, event attendees or customers.

Credibility is also harder to find online. You have to sift through a lot of garbage to find the nuggets of gold. Howard Rheingold describes this journalistic practice as crap detection and devotes a chapter to it in his book "Net Smart."

Crap Detector Part II: Mr. Daisey's Apple Factory

Crap detector Part I: Credibility as business model

A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast of "This American Life" called "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," which was the story of a technology geek who goes to China to see where his iPhone was made.

In the course of the story, the narrator, Mike Daisey, makes assertions about Foxconn, the manufacturer, including that it hires underage workers, overworks employees and exposes them to hazardous chemicals. The story was excerpted from Daisey's one-man stage show.

Bold and intrepid

I was immediately suspicious of Daisey's account because he was so much the protagonist of the story. He depicted himself as bold and daring, as undertaking a task that newspaper reporters had warned him was too risky and dangerous. But he was going anyway to interview Foxconn employees, in defiance of the armed guards at  the gates.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's "digital first" from here on in news biz

The digital publishing industry will hit a significant milestone this year when for the first time it will book more ad revenue than all print newspapers and magazines.

The really bad news for print media, even those with robust web operations, is that most of the revenue is going to non-print publishers such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others.