News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Internet


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A presentation to NZ Doctor in May 2010. Outlines the theses in my forthcoming book News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Internet, with reference to magazine and publishing industry.

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  • While a decline in magazine newsstand sales has hogged the spotlight, a long-term trend of possibly greater significance has gone unnoticed: over the last decade the total audience for leading consumer magazines, as measured by Mediamark Research and Intelligence, has actually increased by about 8%, according to a MediaPost analysis of 81 top titles.
  • The publisher Pearson is preparing to launch its own social network to capitalise on the success of a website designed to encourage reading among teenagers.
    Pearson, which owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times, set up Spinebreakers as an "online book community for teens" in September 2007 and plans a significant overhaul to allow users to connect to each other before the end of the year.
    Anna Rafferty, the digital managing director for Pearson in the UK, said: "We want to develop peer-to-peer capabilities and have plans for a full social network. I would love to have teenagers tagging their favourite books and sharing it with their friends."
    She hopes the site will become an important part of a teenager's social networking portfolio. "We want to allow elegant integration with other sites. For example, it would be good if tagging a book on Spinebreakers would show up in your Facebook newsfeed," she said.
  • news has been around for thousands of years
    because of market forces the mainstream media has let down the public
    pursuit of profits has led the MSM down market
    we are living in a sick celebrity culture that distorts our self-perception and slowly drives us all insane
  • News 2.0: Can journalism survive the Internet

    1. Publishing, magazines and journalism Is there a future and are we part of it? Martin Hirst, May 2010 for NZ Doctor
    2. Magazines • US news stand sales down by more than 10% in 2009 • 18 per cent drop in US magazine advertising in 2008 • Seven per cent decline in Australian magazine sales in first quarter of 2010 • Readers aging 1. Cosmopolitan - 1,616,908 (down 7.8 percent) 2. People - 1,319,350 (down 12.77 percent) 3. Woman's World - 1,175,550 (down 8.31 percent) 4. First - 1,066,167 (down 9.29 percent) 5. Us Weekly - 843,479 (down 2.98 percent) 6. In Touch Weekly - 745,123 (down 17.67 percent) 7. O, the Oprah Magazine - 693,054 (down 5.58 percent) 8. Family Circle - 673,286 (down 22.55 percent) 9. In Style - 625,589 (down 20.13 percent) 10. Star - 601,115 (down 14.29 percent)
    3. e.Books and publishing models • 1 million iPads now in circulation • Amazon expects to sell 2 to 3 million Kindles in 2010 • Over 500,000 titles now in stock • Amazon and Penguin fighting over rights and pricing models • Book prices cut in Amazon pricing war • News, magazines & blogs also available via e.readers
    4. News goes mobile • Mobile news via readers, iGoogle and phone apps • No longer tied to physical product • No longer tied to time sensitive constraints
    5. Turning the corner? • Downturn in ad sales and revenue might be over? • Newspapers and publishing are not dead yet • Publishing links to social media The publishing group that owns the Financial Times, has reported a 7% increase in revenues in the first quarter, helped by "volatile" but growing ad revenue at its newspaper operation. Pearson, which owns Penguin books and a share of the Economist and is a major education publisher, said that revenues were up 12% on a constant currency basis to £1.08bn.
    6. Innovation to keep magazines alive • Embedding video • e.readers • Smartphone apps that work with the print edition • User-generated content • Mobile strategies A new international media report concludes that magazines have coped with recent revenue and circulation losses by coming up with new ways to re-invent their products and businesses to compete in the digital age. The report by FIPP and Innovation Media in the first annual FIPP Innovations in Magazine Report found the industry to be in remarkably robust condition, breaking new ground to hold on to current readers and acquire new ones. March 2010
    7. News as conversation • Journalists no longer control the distribution of the content they produce. • This is a very scary thought for many journalists, but the reality is that once something is published (usually on Web sites), it belongs to the audience of readers and becomes part of a conversation about the news.
    8. Thesis 1: news is a universal human need • news has been around for thousands of years • news and information is fundamental to the human condition • pursuit of profits has led the MSM down market • the trust model for mainstream media is failing
    9. Thesis 2: digital technologies are changing how we consume news • globally, television is still the dominant news and entertainment media, but for how much longer? • news is going mobile and it's being condensed • interactivity – audience participation is important • the 140 character text message and “tweet” could be the future of news
    10. Thesis 3: the singularity of convergence has changed news forever  professionalism has become a trap for journalists - they are tied into a corporate culture that is losing its shine  D-I-Y & UGC news via social networking is on the rise  we are no longer reliant only on MSM for news  user-generated news-like content
    11. Thesis 4: the crisis in the news business is not the same as the crisis in journalism • they are related, but different • a crisis of trust and credibility and a crisis of profitability • we are now in a critical juncture and the global financial crisis has become a further threat to the political economy of the news business
    12. Thesis 5: new business models are not yet proven • advertising – most likely in market economy • user pays – subscription model & micropayments • public service broadcasting – not politically supported • online only publishing – unknown quantity • public trust model – expensive to establish • philanthropy – peanuts really
    13. Thesis 6: there are positives in social networking and Web 2.0 • some parts of the world are more connected than they’ve every been • the collective nature of trust and verification is a key element of peer-to-peer sharing of information and can apply to news • we need to position journalism as the collective wisdom of the public interest and speaking truth to power
    14. Thesis 7: Can journalism survive the Internet? • what happens to “journalism" when the economics of the news business are no longer working? • if news is a universal trait of human society (thesis 1) then a method needs to be developed of continuing to provide reliable and common news-like information from trusted public sources
    15. What does it mean for us? • Interactivity – blogs, comments, social media √ • Embedded multimedia ? • Knowing how your audience consumes and wants to receive information ?
    16. Strategies • Know what your audience wants • Determine which topics should be covered online and which should be covered in print • Consider where and how readers consume your content, such as on a computer, smart phone or e-reader • Use links and keywords so that articles are indexed by search engines • Can you make use of user-generated content • Make the most of advertising synergies