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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Mutter’

Howard Owens has weighed in with his view on what the newspaper industry’s “Original Sin” was in the early days of the Internet:

Alan Mutter says we screwed up by failing to charge for content. I say not only was that not a mistake, but many newspapers did try to charge for content. I have written that the Original Sin was that we “did next to nothing to explore how we might use this new technology to help businesses connect with customers.”

Howard, publisher of the digital startup The Batavian, contends that a greater error was keeping our online units “tethered to the mother ship.” Howard, one of the most insightful people working in digital journalism, makes an excellent case in his blog that we would have done a better job in moving into the digital age by spinning our web sites off into standalone companies. (more…)

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Journalists love stories. Give us a good anecdote and we know what our lead is going to be. We’re not as comfortable with data. We know a good story is hiding in there somewhere, but most of us don’t know how to find it. And too many of us — reporters and executives alike — are refusing to learn.

My first exposure to the use of data for journalism was when I was at the Kansas City Star (or possibly the Kansas City Times; I worked for both) nearly 20 years ago. The late Greg Reeves, a kind of geeky reporter I didn’t know very well but came to admire, wrote a terrific story about the driving records of Kansas City police. I don’t recall the details, but I was shocked at how many police had offenses such as reckless driving (I think drunk driving, too, but I can’t vouch for my memory over that many years). What I do recall is that I started to understand the power of data analysis. (more…)

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A mistaken matter-of-fact statement in an Associated Press story launched Chris O’Brien on an insightful blog post that had little to do with the original story.

In the same way, a statement in Chris’s post launched me on this post, which will start out in a different direction from his blog.

The AP story, about Microsoft, said, “If it doesn’t make the right calculation, the software maker could find itself in the same position as newspapers that gave online content away and now are struggling to replace print revenue.”

Chris, contributing to the MediaShift blog, wrote: “That second line is almost a throwaway, written with no attribution. That means that the notion has officially entered into conventional wisdom: Local newspapers screwed up by giving away for free the content everyone used to pay to consume.” (more…)

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I don’t want to belabor my opposition to paid content or to the secrecy of last week’s meeting of newspaper executives.

But the secrecy and the resulting attention to the heavy paid-content focus of the meeting kept us from learning until a week later about Alan Mutter’s interesting presentation about ViewPass, a plan for a system that would allow easy payment by consumers across multiple platforms and extensive collection of data that would allow publishers to target advertising based on that visitor’s interests.

Mutter proposes ViewPass as a way to “access valuable content on the websites and mobile platforms of all participating publishers.” While I have concerns about all paid-content approaches (I made the Freudian typo “pain-content” in a tweet last night), and about the industry’s unhealthy focus on such a misguided approach, I concede that charging for high-value content might work in some niches. (more…)

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Newspapers need to move into the future and stop clinging to the past.

Two bloggers I respect greatly, Tim McGuire and Alan Mutter, blogged favorably this week about efforts to force Google to pay for linking to content from newspaper web sites. Because I respect both of these men and consider McGuire a friend, I read each blog again and considered what they had to say. Reluctantly, I say they both are mistaken.

I don’t claim that I or my company have the solutions for how to move forward into a prosperous future. But I am sure that the future lies in moving forward, not back. I’m glad our company is seeking solutions by looking forward. I think the business success equation that Chuck Peters has identified, Success = Attention x Trust x Convenience, is on the right track. And charging for content will harm each of the factors leading to success. (more…)

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