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Posts Tagged ‘Mathew Ingram’

Belated thoughts on the big developments at the New York Times recently:

I have started twice in the past week to blog about developments at the New York Times. First, I was going to blog about the initial report of the Times Innovation Team, which raised lots of issues for all newsrooms trying to transform digitally. Digital transformation has been the focus of my work at Digital First Media, and I was going to draw some lessons from the Times recommendations for Project Unbolt.

Then I was going to blog about the firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times. I will post some observations about Abramson later in this piece, but I doubt I can add much insight beyond what’s already been written.

Mostly, I want to call my DFM colleagues’ attention (and the attention of everyone trying to change the culture of entrenched print newsrooms) to the full report of the innovation team (leaked to Buzzfeed and both more blunt and more detailed than the summary report). You should read the full report (you can ignore the sanitized version). Then you should read Josh Benton’s piece on Nieman Lab. (more…)

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Verification HandbookI’m pleased to be involved in the Verification Handbook, a new project to help journalists and aid providers sort fact from fake.

The handbook is a project of the European Journalism Centre and is edited by Craig Silverman, with whom I’ve collaborated before in accuracy workshops.

I wrote Chapter 2, “Verification Fundamentals: Rules to Live By.” Other chapter authors, in addition to Craig, are Rina Tsubaki of EJC, Claire Wardle and Malachy Browne of Storyful, Trushar Barot of BBC News, Mathew Ingram of GigaOm, Patrick Meier of the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Sarah Knight of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (more…)

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John Paton has explained why 22 Digital First Media sites continue to experiment with paywalls despite “abysmal” results initially. We also are experimenting with Google surveys as a revenue source. The surveys are bringing in more revenue than the paywall, but both are harming traffic, John says.

Last year I said I was tired of the whole paywall argument and would stop commenting on it unless Digital First made a significant move regarding paywalls. I don’t have anything more to say on this beyond what John said and what Mathew Ingram says about John’s post.

 

 

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Update: Ryan Chittum has responded to this piece in detail. He’s wrong on lots of points, but I am tired of the argument and think this piece holds up well.

An editor shared some paywall results with me yesterday. I don’t use unnamed sources lightly, but I understand why this editor can’t use his or her name or organization. It’s someone I’ve known and respected for a few years. Here’s what this editor of a small regional daily newspaper said:

We have had a digital subscription plan in place for a few months. We don’t even have 300 subscribers yet. It’s a failure. Even at the corporate level we’ve stopped hearing about paywalls. They know they aren’t working either.

I will be clear about one thing: This is not a Digital First Media editor and I will not disclose here the results of any of the MediaNews paywalls that launched shortly before Digital First took over operation of MediaNews last year. I don’t have those results and wouldn’t be the right person to disclose them.

The editor who emailed me is not the only person outside Digital First I’ve heard from who’s worried about weak results of a paywall, just the most specific and the one who contacted me this week. I’m not about to say that the current wave of paywalls will all be failures, based on this one email from an editor who won’t be named and less-specific comments from some other people.

I am willing to say that anyone who thinks the matter of whether paywalls will help news organizations find a prosperous future is settled is completely lacking in credibility. Specifically, the paywall cheerleading by Ryan Chittum and Dean Starkman of CJR is mystifyingly lacking of thoughtful analysis and skepticism. (more…)

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I call your attention to seven recent pieces about the business of news. I don’t feel strongly enough (or have enough new to say) about any of them to comment at length, but I’ll comment briefly.

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review continues to pretend that paywalls are a panacea for the news business, saying that the Washington Post needs one immediately. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and paywalls are a good idea. At best, they’re only part of a solution. If they were the path to posterity, the news organizations with paywalls wouldn’t be struggling the way they are. Even if a paywall works, we need a lot more than paywalls, and the single-minded focus on paywalls is slowing the development of other solutions.

Mathew Ingram’s response to Starkman is, not surprisingly, much more insightful: “This focus on a paywall as a magic solution misses the point about the larger risks facing both the Post and the industry as a whole.” (more…)

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I’ve seen two excellent blog posts recently about livetweeting funerals:

Mathew is a journalist but was livetweeting as a tribute to his friend. But the anger you can read in the comments on his post underscores the sensitivity of this practice for journalists (who usually aren’t tweeting about our friends’ funerals). Someone named Rich commented: (more…)

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I was privileged to participate today in the symposium Journalistic Ethics in the Digital Age at the Paley Center for Media in New York, presented by the Poynter Institute and craigconnects.

The symposium was part of an effort to update the Guiding Principles for the Journalist, developed 25 years ago, when Bob Steele was Poynter’s ethics leader. After I argued unsuccessfully that the Society of Professional Journalists should update its Code of Ethics, I was pleased to join Poynter’s effort to update the guiding principles (which overlap closely with the SPJ code). (more…)

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If nostalgia were a business model, Dean Starkman might be a CEO and his company might make tons of money.

But nostalgia doesn’t work in the news business the way it does for the History Channel. And besides, the good, old days Starkman wants to take newspapers back to never actually existed.

My initial reaction to Starkman’s latest rant for Columbia Journalism Review was that I couldn’t and shouldn’t address it here:

But Steve Myers helped me out:

I respect Steve a lot and I respected CJR for decades. I learned this biz in the old school when CJR was an important voice in journalism and merited a response. So I took another read. As close as I can tell from a piece that desperately needed the attention of an old-school editor, these are Starkman’s points: (more…)

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Mathew Ingram

Mathew Ingram might be the digital-media commentator I agree with most often.

On the rare times that I beat him to blogging about a timely issue, I tend to read his post later and conclude that he said what I was trying to say, but he nailed it. And I can’t count how many times he has blogged about something I was meaning to blog about, and I just decided he said it better than I could, so I just tweeted a link to it with an approving comment and checked that off my list of stuff to blog about.

As Twitter has started being more controlling and less flexible with external developers, I have been struggling to find something to say. I know I should say something. I’ve been such a regular commentator about Twitter and an advocate that journalists should use Twitter that my silence on this Twitter business strategy has felt uncomfortable.

But I am embarrassingly ignorant about matters of development. That’s all really magic and mystery to me. When you say API, I still think of American Press Institute, not application programming interface (and I’m not 100 percent sure what that means). I’m reluctant to comment where I’m ignorant (though I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be a first).

For all my encouragement for journalists to use Twitter, I also have criticized Twitter for lousy customer service and wildly inaccurate location bugs (haven’t seen that problem for a while). Early in my days as a Twitter advocate, people often smugly or hopefully told me Twitter would be gone in by the next year (I first started hearing that about four years ago). And I told them that they might be right, but I would learn faster from Twitter about whatever pushes it aside than they would learn on whatever their primary news source is.

I have known that Twitter was going to make some changes to boost its revenue. That has been obvious for years. I anticipated some valuable services for businesses using Twitter and/or some premium features for individuals (I would pay for the ability to edit tweets, for better archival search and some other features). I saw some value in promoted tweets, but I knew those would be as annoying as they have been. Twitter seems to be seeking instead to take more control of the external development that has driven much of its growth.

External development has developed virtually all the features and products that have made Twitter so useful. sI suspect this move is going to backfire for Twitter. But I’m not smart enough in this area to say why or what they should do instead (I suspect and hope they will change course rather than going down in flames).

(more…)

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I have written perhaps too much about paywalls. I even sort of vowed once to stop writing about them (fortunately I hedged it). I think maybe I kept writing about them in hopes of someday expressing my doubts about paywalls as clearly as Mathew Ingram and Dave Winer did today.

Ingram cites three reasons newspapers shouldn’t charge for their digital content:

  1. “Paywalls restrict the flow of content.”
  2. “Paywalls are backward-looking, not forward-looking.”
  3. “Newspapers need to adapt, not retrench.” (more…)

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For the last few months, I have taken a few turns leading the #ASNEchat on Twitter for the American Society of News Editors. Starting today, we are going to alternate live-chat formats. We’ll still do a Twitter chat every other week. But on the alternating weeks, including today, we’ll do the live chat using CoverItLive at ASNE.org.

Today’s chat will discuss the role of newsroom ombudsmen with four panelists with interesting perspectives on the topic:

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I don’t have time for a detailed exploration of the New York Times beta620 project.

But, since I have been critical of the Times on multiple occasions, I’d like to say that on first glance this looks like an excellent work of innovation, journalism and transparency. It’s a place for the Times to show off projects in the works and to seek feedback from them. I love the idea and will follow its projects with interest. Mathew Ingram and Megan Garber have written nice pieces about it and I commend them to your attention.

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