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May 28 2013

16:46

A look at the custom tech behind the FT’s HTML5 mobile app

At Smashing Magazine, FT Labs front-end developer Wilson Page details some of the back-end tech behind the Financial Times’ shift from native apps to HTML5 on mobile platforms.

Among the highlights: using flexbox to fill defined vertical space, a JavaScript library called FTEllipsis to manage text flowing in a confined area, icon fonts for retina-ready images, and more natural-feeling scrolling. Much of the new code is open-sourced on the FT Labs GitHub.

We didn’t just want to build a product that fulfilled its current requirements; we wanted to build a foundation that we could innovate on in the future. This meant building with a maintenance-first mentality, writing clean, well-commented code and, at the same time, ensuring that our code could accommodate the demands of an ever-changing feature set.

August 08 2012

19:09

Peter Preston: Digital-only Financial Times would still be a difficult trick to perform

Guardian :: There's a predictable buzz of futurology as the FT announces that its digital subscription circulation (301,471 and rising) has passed its print sales (297,227 and falling). How long will it be before pink paper and pounding presses are mere memories? Now, with subscriptions swelling, the FT looks far better placed for such online transition, a digital trailblazer by choice rather than force of circumstance.

A report by Peter Preston, www.guardian.co.uk

13:55

Interview: John Ridding of the FT on paywalls and passion

MediaWeek :: John Ridding, chief executive of the Financial Times, speaks to Media Week about what it means to have more digital subscribers than paper sales, why quality journalism needs to be paid for and how the financial crisis has a silver lining for the pink paper.

A report by Maisie McCabe, www.mediaweek.co.uk

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August 01 2012

15:27

July 30 2012

15:31

July 27 2012

18:11

FT: Digital subs exceed daily print circulation

Journalism.co.uk :: According to the latest results from FT owner Pearson for the first half of 2012, FT.com subscriptions were up 31 per cent year-on-year to more than 300,000.

A report by Rachel McAthy, www.journalism.co.uk

April 25 2012

10:03

Financial Times passes 2m users for its HTML5 web app

Guardian :: The Financial Times has attracted more than 2m users to its HTML5 web-app, 10 months after its launch. The app was launched in June 2011 in response to Apple's introduction of new rules governing subscription-based iOS apps.

Details - Continue to read Stuart Dredge, www.guardian.co.uk

April 12 2012

15:12

The newsonomics of small things

If the news business were sexy enough (it’s not) to fuel Hollywood or Bollywood filmmaking, we might envision this wake-me-from-the-dead screenplay: A publisher (I’m thinking Tom Hanks, now almost old enough to look sufficiently weary), lured by the sirens on the Isle of Profitos, falls into a deep, deep sleep.

Awakened 10 years later, he finds his golden egg of a business withered, an ellipse of uncertain provenance or fertility, halved in size. He pokes around the egg — surely the once-thriving thing can be revived somehow. Finally, after what seems like years, he gives in to nature, and set outs to find a new, big golden egg.

Yet search as he might, through forest, beach, and urban landscape, he can find none. All he finds is little eggs. They seem puny. Egg analysts calculate that these little finds will never reach the size of the prized golden egg, and advise they be discarded. They are no replacement for that big golden egg.

But maybe, say a couple of advisers, you need to learn how to assemble a bunch of those golden eggs. Some will never grow big, to be sure — but some may thrive, and if you add three or four of them together, maybe they will begin to approach the size of that golden egg.

That’s the news industry today.

Until recently, the holy grail was summed up in two words: replacement revenue. Now the jig’s up. No matter how fast you shovel digital dirt into the chasm of print loss, you can’t recreate the past; you can’t fill the hole. Now, though, we see new foundations being set and fresher building — with more realistic expectations — begun. The change is a huge one. Where once top newspaper company execs eschewed new initiatives as too small with which to bother, the awareness that the old business simply is never coming back has almost sunk in.

Meinolf Ellers, managing director at dpa-infocom, crystallized the Small Things phenomenon for me last month. At a Moscow conference of MINDS International, a five-year-old network of 22 of the world’s news agencies, he invoked Steve Jobs and talked about “getting small things right.” People have talked about the Apple founder’s attention to small product details, to doing fewer things better and to pricing some things low (think iTunes songs at the uniform and now ubiquitous price point of 99 cents). Start small, get it right, and then maybe if the universe aligns, get big.

For Ellers, one of the best forward thinkers in the news business, thinking small works, for now, on at least two levels.

He thinks of the lessons of the digital gaming industry (“The newsonomics of gamification”) and how luring in customers step-by-step — first with freemium techniques, and then with low (yup, 99 cents) incremental pricing — builds customer engagement and purchasing.

Secondly, he thinks of it on a more global level: “What we all see — newspaper publisher or news agency — is that the bundle is eroding, losing its power. The more we see the bundle losing market share and reaching the end of its lifecycle, the more we have to work on smaller, fragmented products that, not each by each, but overall, can compensate. That’s the strategy.”

So, let’s call it the newsonomics of small things, with a nod to Mr. Jobs and to Meinolf Ellers’ realization. Let’s focus on Small Things as opposed to Big Things — meaning traditional advertising and circulation, the long-in-the-tooth double-digit contributors to newspaper company revenues.

It would be great to replace those-end-of-lifecycle business lines with other Big Things, but those are few and far between. Google developed the Next Big Thing of paid search advertising, and continues to dominate that $40 billion global industry, with 76 percent market share in the Americas and 94 percent in EMEA, according to Covario, an large, independent search marketing agency. AT&T and Verizon replaced their cycle-ending landline business by going Triple Play, adding broadband and cable to their revenue lines. Facebook cornered the market on a little segment called global social connectivity. Newspapers have been searching in vain for two decades for such Big Things and have come up short.

So let’s touch on six Small Things — each now a small egg, at best a single digit contributor to overall revenue. Then let’s toss in a couple of Wild Things, fliers of businesses that might work.

We can turn our eyes to Texas to see at least half of them, an indication of how fast the Small Things movement is accelerating.

In Houston and San Antonio, Hearst has been leading the marketing services push, among newspaper companies. In Dallas, the Morning News is making a significant business of in-sourcing, becoming a major printer and distributor of Old World print, at the same time it is launching (with Hearst) its own marketing services foray. In Austin, the Texas Tribune has created an events business model, widely, if quietly, being studied and adopted in various parts of the country.

In Morning News publisher Jim Moroney’s sum-up of his push, I think we see a common thread among these and of Small Thing moves: “Print editions are not going away anytime soon. So take the extra capacity of your print facility and bring in as much commercial broadsheet or tab newsprint work as you can. There’s no reason to have idle capacity.”

In a word, capacity. What kinds of skills, knowledge and abilities do you have in your company, assets that can be used newly and differently? What kind of job needs to be one by someone who has the budget and has no go-to supplier…yet?

Let’s look at those six Small Things, just as first examples, through the lens of capacity and revenue potential.

Marketing services

That push (“The newsonomics of 8 percent reach”) is indicative of the fastest-growing digital ad line for many news publishers. Hearst Media Services and its Local Edge push, Tribune 365, Gannett Local, Advance Digital, and McClatchy are among the many companies plying this territory.

John Denny, VP of marketing for Advance Digital, recently spoke in Boston to the Kelsey Interactive Local Marketing East Conference. He outlined well the value of the marketing services push: “[There's a] growing importance of ‘services’ in the world of marketing priorities for businesses. That money is now shifting from what has always been viewed as ‘advertising’ (whether traditional or digital media) to a whole host of growing priorities including search engine optimization, social media optimization, blogs, and content marketing.” Every merchant faces the same kind of blur of too many choices — digital marketing choices — and some will take a newspapers’ help in sorting them out.

Talk to marketing services execs and they’ll tell you that today marketing services revenues — money paid by local merchants to publishers who help them with their advertising, in addition to any ads those merchants buy on publisher websites or in the paper — amounts to at least 10 percent of overall digital ad revenues. Some are pushing that number towards a quarter or a third of the total; several say they expect marketing services to account for half of all digital ad-related revenue within three years.

Capacity use: Makes great use of newspaper brand equity capacity. While many companies employ a separate (from their own ad selling) salesforce, some company infrastruture can also be used.

Revenue contribution: 1-3 percent of total revenue in 2012; could reach 10-15 percent by 2015.

In-sourcing printing and distribution

From recent quarterly reports, figure that the Morning News (good interview with publisher Moroney in News & Tech) is now getting close to using the full capacity of its printing and distribution resources. You won’t find a Morning News thrower with a single paper; they toss USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and a couple other titles.

Capacity use: Rather than outsourcing, more common among daily papers, the insourcing is making almost full use of the Old World asset.

Revenue contribution: Figure about five percent of Morning News revenues, with fair margins, are derived from insourcing.

Custom publishing

Journalism companies know how to create readable content, though we often take that for granted. In London, the Press Association, the AP’s cousin, is building a substantial business in bespoke — or as Yanks would say, custom — publishing. News agencies, of course, are native B2B industries. They are used to selling the same content stream — the wire — to many comers, a good business for a long time, but now threatened as their newspaper customer budgets decline.

So Tony Watson, PA’s managing director, has now extended that B2B publishing customer relationship. Working with top portal customers, providing them unique content they can monetize, he’s grown that business more than 50 percent year over year. It’s still small, but growing rapidly, as newspaper revenue contributions to his budget decline markedly in the UK recession.

Watson isn’t alone, but custom content marketing — whether performed by an auxiliary staff or the core one — is nascent in much of the news industry.

Capacity use: For Watson, that’s what it’s about: using PA’s “significant product development capability” — though the agency is careful to avoid conflicts of interest.

Revenue contribution: Low single digits at this point, but could make up 10 percent within three to four years. In addition, it’s a cousin to commercial content creation, noted under marketing services.

Events

Newspapers have long sponsored bridal fairs and the like. What we see in Texas Tribune’s new event model (“For the Texas Tribune, events are journalism — and money makers”) is connecting public service journalism with worthy civic events that make money. CEO Evan Smith told me that he expects $900,000 in revenue from events sponsorships this year, plus attendee income. I hear a lot of ferment among publishers wanting to borrow the model.

Capacity use: While the events staff is focused on that work, the piggybacking on the Tribune’s excellent journalism doubles its value.

Revenue contribution: Maybe about 20 percent now — a big number for a start-up finding its model — and could grow to around 33 percent, while supporting other revenue lines like site sponsorship and membership.

Syndication

California Watch, now newly expanded with the CIR/Bay Citizen merger, has smartly considered itself largely a B2B business, a new wire for a new time. Its stories reach hundreds of thousands of print, online, and broadcast news consumers.

Capacity use: That’s the once (and future) beauty of the wire business. Produce once, customize a little, and distribute many times over.

Revenue contribution: California Watch stories are still underpriced, contributing less than 10 percent of the organization’s revenue. With scale and a greater track record, it may be able to wring closer to 20 percent of its revenue from syndication in three years.

Ebooks

Last week, I wrote about the coming explosion of ebook publishing by news and magazine publishers; in the past week, I’ve heard from many more publishers whose ebook plans I hadn’t known about. Getting into the ebooks business — or “mining the archive” — is becoming mainstream. Ellers’ dpa is one of those stepping up its business, out of its News Lab. It will soon produce ebooks on both wacky subjects and the historically significant, like the 1972 Munich Olympics killings of Israeli athletes.

Capacity use: Excellent. Content is already paid for, edited, and largely ready to go.

Revenue contribution: Tiny in 2012; at least five percent by 2015, if publishers execute well.

A couple of Wild Things that could become Small Things:

Journalism company journalism schools: College education is going digital and virtual anyhow, so why can’t journalists (and marketers) get into the business. The Guardian is tiptoeing into it, and you can imagine what a diploma from The New York Times or Wall Street Journal might be worth. Journal Register is already retraining its own staff at its Digital Ninja schools; why not go bigger?

Professional services: Several publishers have told me how they idolize the Financial Times for its pricing schemes, product initiatives, and intensive use of analytics. As the FT goes forward, and at least some other publishers get proficient at newer parts of the business, professional services — or, to use the old-fashioned world — will make sense for some.

Overall, it’s much better to move into the future with a half-dozen revenue streams — even if some are now just trickles — to stick with only two big-but-slowing ones. It should be more lucrative than selling the same old things. And maybe more fun, too.

“As a news agency guy,” says Meinolf Ellers, “I’m used to being disrupted. Now I can be the disruptor [with ebooks] to the book industry.”

February 28 2012

15:56

Daily Must Reads, Feb. 28, 2012

The best stories across the web on media and technology, curated by Lily Leung.


1. E-book revenues for publishers were up in 2011 (PaidContent)



2. Financial Times' digital growth explained (Foliomag)



3. More are watching live TV to avoid spoilers on social networks (Lost Remote)



4. NYT launches Tumblr of paper's photo archives (Poynter)



5. Which magazine publisher is winning in the Twitter race?  (MinOnline)



6. 13 ways a reporter should use a beat blog (The Buttry Diary)



Subscribe to our daily Must Reads email newsletter and get the links in your in-box every weekday!



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This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

February 09 2012

20:13

Caution on Thomson Reuters' FT acquisition, a rumor put forth by Michael Wolff

Politico :: Senior staffers at Reuters write in to provide some context for a rumor put forth by Michael Wolff today that Thomson Reuters is in talks with the Financial Times to buy the salmon-colored daily:

"That rumor has been around for years," one senior staffer told me. "Wolff hedges quite a bit... It appears he says with some certainty that talks are now on, then says it's very informal, then says it might not amount to anything." "Some version of the FT rumor has been floating around for a long time," another wrote. "Much depends on what the selling price would be, and whether the Thomson Reuters board and shareholders, who've been dealing with an underperforming stock for some time, would be willing to support it." Part of the problem here is that Wolff's source is a single senior executive at Thomson Reuters, who also appears to be hedging.

Continue to read Dylan Byers, www.politico.com

20:05

Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg compete for the Financial Times

Guardian :: Let me follow a rumor in real time … My lunch companion, a senior executive at Thomson Reuters – where, it seems, just about every journalist of a certain age and experience is going to work, or wants to go to work – drops a passing remark about how, at Thomson Reuters, they might use the Financial Times. Then, this is contrasted with how the FT might be used at Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters' great rival, and the other place where all out-of-work, or worried-that-they-soon-will-be-out-of-work, journalists want to be.

Then, it trips out, according to my friend – said quite unselfconsciously, rather as though it should be obvious to all; for a moment, I actually think I've somehow missed the story – that the FT, having flirted with and then turned down an acquisition offer from Bloomberg, is now talking to Thomson Reuters.

Continue to read Michael Wolff, www.guardian.co.uk

February 05 2012

13:16

MARKETING AT ITS BEST: “FT RUN TO MONACO”

Financial Times reports:

Formula 1 World Champions from past to present will take part in the first ever Financial Times supercar experience – the FT Run To Monaco. The exclusive event will see former F1 champion Damon Hill leading the participants in a fleet of luxury supercars on a route from London, through France and culminating at the Monaco Grand Prix 2012.

My take: when you have a great newspaper yo have great readers and great advertisers, so you must have great marketing ideas. In a time of timid initiatives, second-class promotions,  low budgets and lack of imagination, this is a refreshing event. Think Big to win Big. Bravo!

Thanks to INNOVATION’s Peter Litger.

(Something that my friend Javier Goizueta en his fantastic team can do for any Spanish newspaper)

February 03 2012

11:37

LIVE: Session 1A – Online video

Most publishers will have at least dipped their toe into the pool of online video, but what does it take to really make a splash in this area, and reap the traffic rewards? This session will feature innovative case studies of cutting-edge online video which can enhance the way content is presented and shared, as well as top tips from experienced online video journalists, publishers and those leading key developments in web-native video about the opportunities to be exploited through the online medium.

With: Christian Heilmann, Mozilla Popcorn; Josh de la Mare, editor of video, Financial Times; John Domokos, video producer, the Guardian; David Dunkley Gyimah, video journalist, academic and consultant.

11.44

 

With HTML5 the video becomes just another page element which can be edited and overlayed. “The timestamp is the glue.”

11.42

 

“video is a black hole on the web” – Google cannot find the content. To make it more ‘findable’ we must use a great headline and separate our content out from the presentation. If the text can be separated it out from the video (eg using Universal Subtitles) you can edit text after publishing video. Google can find the text and it helps readers to skip to the bit of the video they want.

HTML5 video allows for all of that.

11.39

 

He says when it comes to video online, shorter is better – otherwise people get fidgety and start checking Twitter or FarmVille!

Now it’s Chris Heilmann of Mozilla Popcorn – he says he has a background in radio.

11.34

 

David Dunkley Gyimah is up next – a video journalist, academic and artist in residence at the Southbank, apparently!
Reportage in 1991/2 was “the YouTube of the BBC back then” – young and disruptive.
It all comes back to cinema. You need to get people to feel something, and to do that you need to experiment with image and movement and how best to capture that.

11.34

 

“we’re prone to following trends when we should also focus on exemplars” – Gyimah studies legendary cinematic directors. He also recommends Media Storm as an exemplar for online video.

11.32

 

Question: “isn’t the FT just putting TV news online?”


A: we have a mixture of polished content and more raw, on the ground news. That seems to be what the FT audience want, but again, it’s an evolving medium. We definitely aim for much short videos online – almost always under 5 minutes.

11.18

“The human face is absolutely crucial” – the individual details that help you to understand the wider story.

Josh de la Mare closes by reminding us that “nothing is sacred” – the medium is still evolving and there’s no stable formula for producing online video.

11.16

The FT has had a studio for about 3 years. FT video produces short comment and interview clips that go deeper into niche angles of the broader story.

FT also use on-site camera crews and provide theirjournalists with flip cams, encouraging them to shoot footage all over the world.

11.13

 

Josh de la Mare: FT mostly uses talking heads because that’s most appropriate for our audience.
Video can get to the emotional heart of a story. The FT used video to represent the human side to the impact of 9/11.

11.10

 

User generated content (UGC) is not a free and easy way to get great video clips!


The Guardian is exploring ways to engage with readers using multimedia. Domokos shows us an example which worked – people speaking out against disability living allowance cuts. These videos worked because the subjects had a real personal reason to produce them. The raw result is also not something a traditional camera crew could ever have got by treating them as “case studies”. 

Every time we use video, we must be using it because it’s the RIGHT way to tell the story, not the easy way

10.52

The Online Video session has kicked off with moderator David Hayward from BBC College of Journalism.

Follow the twitter hash tag #newsrw

January 09 2012

11:32

Explaining FT's and New York Times price hike: accelerated transition to digital

Monday Note :: This week, I was struck by the fact two such leaders made the same move: The New York Times and the Financial Times both announced a whopping 25% newsstand price hike: The NYT moves from $2.00 (€1.57) to $2.50 (€1.96) from Monday to Saturday, with no change for the Sunday edition still priced at $5 (€3.92) in New York, and $6 (€4.72) elsewhere. The FT goes from £2.20 ($3.39 or €2.66) to £2.50 ($3.85 or €3.03) on weekdays, as the weekend edition moves from £2.80 ($4.32 or €3.39 ) to £3 ($4.62 or €3.63). Those numbers are really meaningful. Why?

Frédéric Filloux tries to explain the strategy behind the recent moves of the two big players.

Continue to read Frédéric Filloux, www.mondaynote.com

January 07 2012

19:22

Guess: Which British or US newspapers received subsidies from the Danish government?

Many a little makes a mickle. 

Guardian :: Would you believe it? Four British newspapers are among 26 foreign titles that will receive subsidies from the Danish government this year. The quartet of British beneficiaries are the Financial Times, which will get £78,500 (€95,171 / $121,086), The Guardian (£795 / €963 / $1,226), The Times (£350 / €424 / $539) and The Independent (£325 / €394 / $501). Two big US papers will also pick up subsidies from the Danish Press Fund: the International Herald Tribune (£27,000 / €32,734 / $41,647) and USA Today (£150 / €181 / $231).

Continue to read Greenslade, www.guardian.co.uk

January 05 2012

13:54

Financial Times buys its web app maker Assanka, London

paidContent :: The Financial Times has acquired London-based web and application developer Assanka, which made the web app on which the publisher has based its independence from iTunes. Assanka launched the HTML5 web app with the paper’s in-house product team in June 2011, declaring “the craze for native apps is a short one and we are already seeing it on the wane”.

John Ridding's memo - Continue to read Robert Andrews, paidcontent.org

January 04 2012

20:06

Financial Times raises cover price to £2.50 (for the second time)

Guardian :: The Financial Times has pushed through a new year cover price rise of 30p to take the cost of the weekday newspaper to £2.50, meaning it costs readers 25% more than it did last October. Pearson's financial daily has now raised the price of its weekday edition twice in two months – in October it increased the FT from £2 to £2.20 – making it £1.30 more expensive than the next highest priced quality dailies.

Continue to read Mark Sweney, www.guardian.co.uk

October 06 2011

13:11

LIVE: Session 3B – Collaboration in investagative journalism

It has often been said that collaboration is key for the future of investigative journalism, be that working in partnership with other news outlets or media bodies, or harnessing the power of the community in investigations. This session gives advice on how best to make a go of large projects by sharing resources and inviting the community to help dig with you.

With Iain Overton, managing editor, Bureau of Investigative Journalism; Simon Perry, founder, Ventnor Blog; Paul Lewis, special projects editor, the Guardian and Christine Spolar, investigations and special projects editor, the Financial Times.

#newsrw 3B Investigative journalism

August 02 2011

06:26

Longshot's nagwall: to continue reading (a) share OR (b) donate

The Awl :: Here we are in this wacky new time, after the New York Times debuted their intentionally porous metered paywall, after the Financial Times' strict subscriber-only paywall, and all the versions in-between, from half-subscriber-only to complete lockdown, and it's a great question about what to do that's right. The Longshot web team (led by Adam Hemphill) came up with a fascinating iteration. Their nagwall appears after a good amount of browsing—you can read quite a bit without being harassed.

[Longshot Magazine] A few ways to never see this again ... Share ... Donate

Continue to read Choire Sicha, www.theawl.com

July 30 2011

10:54

Digital, iPad & mobile news - success mechanics of the Financial Times

paidContent :: iPad and mobile are becoming of increasing importance to The Financial Times, accounting for 22 percent of web traffic and 15 percent of new subscriptions during the first half of this year. Last year, iPad had been responsible for a tenth of new subs, but the FT appears non-compliant with Apple’s new rules which require all subscription transactions go through iTunes Store, giving Apple 30 percent.

Robert Andrews on Twitter

Continue to read Robert Andrews, paidcontent.org

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