Mobile news, digital snooping, and winter art

December 23, 2008

Megan Taylor’s been cleaning up her hard drive, and she found a swell essay she wrote months ago on getting your news via mobile:

What kind of content might one want to see on a phone?

Weather and traffic alerts, events, and big, huge, breaking news. Seriously, the feature article can wait till I get home. But if a criminal is running around my neighborhood with a gun, I’d like to know, ASAP.

What about multimedia? I don’t see myself using my phone to go through a complex multimedia package. A video or slideshow, maybe, if I’m really interested. But phones are about “right now” communication. That should be reflected in how news companies approach them.

She goes on to ask several journalists how they get their news when they’re on the go. It’s an interesting read.

Jason Preston expresses irritation at journalists who use social media for research, but don’t publicly participate in it themselves. The practice is, in his words, “creepy”.

Participation is the number one ingredient for getting value from new social media tools. And if people find out that you’re logged in and poking around (in other words, the digital equivalent of wandering around in people’s back yards and looking through the windows), they’re not going to be too quick to invite you into their home.

Meanwhile, Teresa Valdez Klein got a couple of glasses of wine in her and decided to turn a frozen apartment swimming pool into some winter magic. Lovely!


Online video, reader engagement and revenue

December 9, 2008

Two recent posts about online video, a subject of profound interest to us here at the Roundup for obvious reasons:

At Eat Sleep Publish, Jason Preston wrote about a recent study conducted by Forrester called “Watching the Web: How Online Video Engages Audiences” and possible parallels within the publishing industry:

…[F]or the purposes of the study, one hour per week is the gateway to being an “engaged viewer.” And the difference between an engaged viewer and a non-engaged viewer is dramatic.

Engaged viewers, first of all, make up about 40% of all online video customers, and are responsible almost 75% of all web video consumption. These viewers are also twice as likely to recall in-video, pre-roll, and post-roll ads than non-engaged viewers.

…But I’m willing to bet that the statistics on ad effectiveness apply towards other mediums as well. An engaged reader will probably remember a print ad more often than random passers by.

Zachary Seward at Nieman Journalism Lab also wrote about online video; specifically how the use of video at the popular Talking Points Memo blog has helped to spur the site’s growth:

I’m focusing on TPM’s business model in this post and one last Tuesday because I think their steady growth from blogger-with-a-day-job to a profitable, 14-person news organization could have broader implications for journalism on the Internet. TPM Media LLC is a rare news company whose entire business has grown up around the web economy. The site has also found success with online video in ways that outstrip most newspaper sites.

Throwing tomatoes, outsourcing journalism

December 4, 2008

On the Gristmill blog, Tom Philpott examined what happens when a few large buyers dominate a market.

Anyone who keeps up with my posts — still there, mom? — knows what’s coming next: The buyers gain the power to dictate to dictate terms and conditions to sellers.

…I often focus on meat to illustrate the ills of market concentration. But as this post from the Ethicurean’s excellent Mental Masala shows, things are just as bad in produce markets. Riffing off an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mental invites us to consider California’s mighty tomato-processing industry.

Jason Preston weighed in at Eat Sleep Publish on why he thinks outsourcing newspaper work overseas (as described in this New York Times column by Maureen Dowd) is a bad idea.

As we move forward, the business model is going to have to adapt, which means exploring ideas like metered content. All the outsourcing does is lower the dollar cost of production while accelerating the process making the product itself into a boring commodity.