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August 07 2012

14:00

Tired of Text Spam and Dropped Cell Phone Calls? You're Not Alone

Think you're the only one ready to throw your cell phone out the window the next time you have a dropped call or text spam? You're not alone, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. The survey found that cell phone problems are a common reality for the 280 million users in the United States.

The report identified four major cell phone problems: 72 percent of all cell users experience dropped calls, 68 percent of all cell users receive unwanted sales or marketing calls, 69 percent of text messaging users in the U.S. receive unwanted spam or text messages, and 77 percent of those who use Internet on their cell phones experience slower than desirable download speeds.

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The report also surveyed the frequency of all four mobile phone problems as experienced by smartphone owners. And in all four cases, smartphone owners reported higher incident rates. The largest margins are in spam and unwanted texts -- 29 percent of smartphone owners compared with 20 percent of other cell owners -- and slow download speeds -- 49 percent of smartphone owners compared with 31 percent of other cell owners.

Limited Solutions to Block Spammers

There are several ways people may attempt to remove cell phone nuisances from their daily lives. Step one is to contact your mobile carrier and request the available spam-blocking services.

University of New Hampshire student Feier Liu uses a non-smartphone and first called her mobile carrier to block a spam number about three years ago. The service was free, but only blocks individual numbers. Liu said she hasn't received a spam call since. She is certainly a lucky one.

Another service introduced back in March also counts on mobile users to vigilantly report spam text messages. North American mobile carriers have adopted a centralized spam-reporting service, which collects spam complaints into a shared database to help carriers identify and stop spammers. In practice, users forward spam texts to the shortcode 7726 (or SPAM), prompting the carrier to request the spam number.

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Allin Resposo, a web designer and smartphone user, has been reporting every spam text to 7726 since the service was introduced. Resposo hasn't seen an obvious decrease in spam and said that the spam texts are never from the same number.

While smartphones experience more problems, they paradoxically enable more possible solutions. A search for "block spam" on Google Play brings up dozens of apps created to block spam calls and texts. Most of these apps have ratings of four stars or more and could be worthwhile efforts for Android users. However, because of Apple's restrictions on developers, similar apps are not available for the iPhone, which, according to a prior Pew report, is used by some 53 million people in the U.S.

Finding Digital Authenticity

The Pew report stated, "It is against the law in the U.S. to place unsolicited commercial calls to a mobile phone when the call is made by using an automated random-digit dialing generator or if the caller uses a pre-recorded message." Yet spam phone calls, like those offering free cruises to the Bahamas with a pre-recorded "[fog horn] This is your captain speaking" are as real as ever. Clearly, spammers are evolving faster than legislation.

In fact, they may be piggybacking on our mobile dependence. The report also noted that non-white cell owners experience all four of the common cell phone problems at higher weekly rates than white cell owners, possibly due to the fact that "African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to rely on their cell phones as their primary or exclusive phones for calling and for Internet access."

Does all this indicate that more mobile usage equals more problems?

In a world where there are 14 million spam accounts on Facebook and probably similarly disturbing figures on other social networks, it's not hard to imagine that spammers on these mobile-enabled networks will find a way to spam our mobile devices.

Jenny Xie is the PBS MediaShift editorial intern. Jenny is a rising senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying architecture and management. She is a digital-media junkie fascinated by the intersection of media, design, and technology. Jenny can be found blogging for MIT Admissions, tweeting @canonind, and sharing her latest work and interests here.

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April 27 2012

13:38

Mediatwits #46: Photography Special: Creative Commons, Cameraphones, Instagram, Google+

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Welcome to the 46th episode of the Mediatwits podcast, this time with Mark Glaser and the Rafat Ali as co-hosts. Rafat is celebrating his birthday, we're not sure how old he is, but we know that he loves photography. So this week we are celebrating his birthday by doing a special show focused on photography in the digital age. Our roundtable includes crack professional photographer Gregor Halenda, photo and multimedia guru Brian Storm and social photographer extraordinaire Thomas Hawk in a wide-ranging discussion.

First is the debate over rights: Is it a good idea to post your photos on social media under a Creative Commons license? Or should you be more restrictive of your photos online? We also talk about the state of stock photography and the democratization of photography now that the tools are more accessible -- and everyone has a potential global reach online. And what about the rise of amazing cameraphones, apps and filters? Now that Instagram has been bought by Facebook for $1 billion, what's the implication about the future of photo-sharing and filters? Thomas Hawk also cites Google+ as being a hotbed of photography. How did it surpass Facebook?

Check it out!

mediatwits46.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Our show is now on Stitcher and being featured there! Listen to us on your iPhone, Android Phone, Kindle Fire and other devices with Stitcher. Find Stitcher in your app store or at stitcher.com.

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

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Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Intro

0:20: Happy birthday to Rafat!

2:15: Rafat got the photography bug in last two years

4:00: Pro photographers threatened by rise of amateurs

Creative Commons a good thing?

6:00: Special guests Thomas Hawk, Brian Storm and Gregor Halenda

8:30: Flickr has even started to innovate, along with newer players

10:20: Halenda: I won't post on Flickr or under Creative Commons, I want to be paid

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13:20: Hawk: There are examples of pro photogs making a business from posting online

What skills do photographers need now?

15:00: Storm: Schools are teaching kids everything -- photography, video and multimedia

18:00: Halenda: Stock photography can't support pros anymore

20:10: Storm: Everyone has tools and distribution so now it's all about quality

22:10: Hawk: Google+ lets you share circles of photographers with all followers

Cameraphones get ever more powerful

25:30: High-end cameras are still selling well

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27:30: Hawk likes Camera Awesome as one of his favorite photo apps

29:40: Halenda says knowing Photoshop is essential to pro photography

32:30: Storm helped start "The Week in Pictures" at MSNBC.com in 1998 as pioneer; had 100 million page views last month

More Reading

Photojournalists Scramble to Video. Is it Worth It? at MediaShift

Digital camera sales defy smartphone onslaught at the Globe and Mail

Zuckerberg announces Instagram purchase on Facebook

Camera Awesome app

Thomas Hawk on Google+

Gregor Halenda Photography

MediaStorm

The Week in Pictures at MSNBC.com

The Big Picture at Boston.com

Lens blog at NY Times

Guardian Eyewitness app

Flickr Creative Commons images

Creative Commons' Images blog

Creative Commons + Flickr = 22 Million Sharable Photos at MediaShift

The Digital Journalist

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about where you share photos:


Where are your favorite places to share photos?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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April 17 2012

13:32

Spain's iPad Mag, Vis à Vis, Shows Growth, Points to New Path

In a small office in Alcala Street, in the center of Madrid, a team of seven young entrepreneurial journalists are working overtime to produce the next issue of digital magazine Vis à Vis.

Conceived exclusively for the iPad and launched in January, Vis à Vis is an interactive, visual and modern publication that wants to reinvent journalism.

The first edition of the magazine recorded up to 42,000 downloads. The third edition was released on April 1, and the team's expectations are very high.

"Journalism is going through a phase in which either you undertake your own idea or you have to conform to the reality of market," said Laura Blanco, the magazine's editor in chief.

Together with Ángel Anaya, she holds the reins of this initiative that forged its roots during their first year at college. The seven editorial staff members are between 23 and 25 years old and studied together in the Spanish city of Valencia. After working on a project involving the editing of a print magazine, they decided to launch their own publication online.

"With the emergence of digital platforms, the entire printed press industry started wobbling," Blanco said.

When the iPad appeared on the market, she and her colleagues realized that it would be a suitable platform for a lifestyle magazine, because it could combine quality content with interactive features.

"In August [2011] we reached Madrid with much uncertainty, but with a lot of hope and enthusiasm," Anaya said. He confessed that the magazine is "his creation" and passionately narrated the gestation process of the idea. In the beginning, the group of friends had to rely on family support to fund their project. When they asked for a small bank loan, they were told that they were "too young to take that risk."

"Free Forever"

Vis à Vis is exclusively edited for the iPad, with all the possibilities that it offers, and a distinctive feature is that it's free of charge. "Free forever," reads its motto.

"Nowadays, it is very difficult to ask people to pay for something they know they can have for free," Anaya said. That is why he bet fully on the digital environment from the start. "In addition, we had observed over the years that tablet readers' profiles were moving from executives with high purchasing power to young readers."

The magazine's content consists of interviews with prominent figures in the areas of sports, television, fashion or gastronomy, presented in a personal "vis à vis" (face to face) setting. "We try to create a special atmosphere with each character. Interviews are always done in a kind of 'petit comité'," Blanco said.



Who's behind Vis à Vis? A meeting with the editorial team. Video: Gina Gulberti


Vis à Vis runs on a basic concept: All content types must be able to be consumed at different times of the day. "From extensive articles that you can read calmly at home during the weekend, up to short and more visual articles that you can rapidly go through on the bus or on the underground, that's what Vis à Vis is all about: a magazine that escapes the ephemeral concept of the paper," Blanco said.

The editorial team relies fundamentally on the power of social networks for its advertising strategy. "Word of mouth worked very fast," Anaya said. The first issue of the magazine launched on January 4 and recorded about 42,000 downloads. In February, the second issue had already reached approximately 38,000 readers within two weeks.

For the third edition, the team has already secured the first advertisements that will finance the project. "Brands are seeing a great advertising potential in the interactivity offered by the iPad," Anaya said. "They are contacting us directly."

Reinventing journalism

Thanks to their enthusiasm, Anaya and his colleagues have gradually overcome, step by step, the challenges posed by a society very anchored in the printed press. Some people have praised the magazine as a great initiative promoting journalism, while others have shown more skepticism with regards to long-term development of the project. Other times, though, some people have become so excited with the project that they have offered to help.

"It is a risky venture to undertake a business in times of crisis. But if you don't do it, you will never be able to aspire to anything better," Blanco said.


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Laura Blanco and Ángel Anaya hold the reins of the initiative.


While Blanco and her colleagues don't see their magazine's only-for-iPad design as a restriction, they don't reject the possibility of producing future versions of the magazine for other platforms. "We are covering a market in full expansion," Anaya said.

The figures seem to prove it: Last February, Apple registered 25 billion downloads from its App Store, and the recent launch of the iPad 3, or New iPad, has beaten records worldwide, with more than 3 million sales in the first four days.

In a media world that's evolving, Vis à Vis relies on two crucial elements for its success: the enthusiasm in reinventing a distribution model and the obstinate belief in the possibility of a new way of doing journalism.

Gina Gulberti holds a Master's degree in Multimedia Journalism. In 2011, she obtained a Robert Shumann scholarship for journalists and worked for the audiovisual unit of the European Parliament in Brussels. She has worked for different Spanish media outlets such as RNE (public Spanish radio), Onda Cero radio and ADN journal. Her interests include Web 2.0., audiovisual production, European policies and independent journalism. Now based in Madrid, she is collaborating with digital newspapers while working for the press office of La Fourchette in Spain.

ejc-logo small.jpgThis piece was originally published by the European Journalism Centre, an independent non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals. Follow @ejcnet for Twitter updates, here on Facebook and on the EJC Online Journalism Community.

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January 12 2012

15:20

Wearing Our Computers on Our Sleeves

It's natural to imagine our computers as devices that have screens and some sort of keyboard input, real or virtual.

Those two design elements constrain the device's form factor because the screens need to be big enough for us to see and the keyboards must make room for our fingers or thumbs. But a number of technological hurdles are being overcome that will, in the coming year, dramatically alter the shape of our computing and communication devices. We are about to enter the world of wearable computing.

 

Before the end of 2012 many of us will be sporting bracelets, watches, fobs and other fashion doodads that will send us messages or convey data to our phones, computers and the Internet.

 

These devices already exist.

 

The rise of the wearable device

Apple's year-old iPod Nano is being worn as a watch. There are at least a half-dozen companies making watch straps specifically for it. The Nano is a touch-screen iPod, a radio, a Nike running monitor, a photo frame and, of course, a watch -- with 18 different fashion faces. Apple's already considering the next step.

The Up Band, a thin, colorful bracelet from Jambox, captures biometrics about your exercise and sleep patterns and, when you plug it into your computer, sends that data to the Internet so you can see and share your health data. The Fitbit, a pedometer updated for online, does the same sort of tracking, but attaches to your belt, not your wrist.

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But these are just the early vanguard of wearable computers that will be much more powerful and versatile. That shift will be fueled by four major trends: improved short-range communication protocols, flexible screens, and better battery life and voice recognition.

Protocols first. A new Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth 4.0, is now being built into smartphones and upcoming wearables. Standard Bluetooth 2.0 is a wireless communications protocol that allows smartphones to "talk" to earpieces.
 

But Bluetooth 4.0 uses less power and allows devices to "pair" with each other almost instantly. That means that a smartphone in your pocket can share information with a watch or bracelet on your wrist. That information could be the text of an incoming SMS, email or alert. Or, it could just be a signal that makes the bracelet flash blue if you have a new message, green if you've received a new email, or red if you've gotten an important alert.

 

Or, you could sport earrings that subtly buzz on your earlobes to signal arriving missives.

 

Of course, it could also have more serious uses, conveying health-monitoring data from patients to their smartphones and on to their doctors via the web, for example.

 

The devices could also support Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol so that your watch or bracelet could act as a transit token or a movie ticket by touching it to a point-of-purchase pad, much the way the Presto card in Canada works now.

 

A smart bracelet is possible due to advances made in flexible screens -- often OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) -- printed on a plastic backing. Such screens can arc along a circular bracelet. These screens display text, images and have a refresh rate high enough to show video. Cheaper e-ink screens (like those in Kindles and Kobo eReaders) have already been made of flexible backing and are being used to display color and monochrome data and images. It's easy to imagine an inexpensive bracelet that can, chameleon-like, alter its appearance based on sensors that detect a change in ambient temperature, surrounding colors or the vital signs of its wearer. Samsung is already working on flexible screens that will show up in wearable devices this year.

 

Of course, none of these wearables would work without power. Some, like watches or bracelets, could be powered by solar cells built as a layer of the display screen. Or, since the charging capacity of lithium-ion cells is improving dramatically and the Bluetooth 4.0 standard sips power, they could be powered by small, thin rechargeable cells.

Intelligent ears

Finally, these upcoming wearable computers can have intelligent ears. Siri, the speech-recognition technology now in iPhones, could power speech-recognizing earrings or watches. The wearable device, of course, would not do the speech-recognition work itself. It would just pass the captured speech to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4, then the phone would compress that audio data, send it to the Internet for Siri servers to decode, and then translate the text and send it as an SMS or email, sending a confirming alert back to your watch.
 

Why does this matter to us? Because these gadgets will become the next wave of communication devices, as different from tablets as tablets are from desktop computers. As journalists, we need to understand what's coming and ask important questions like -- how do you tell a story to a wristwatch?

Wayne MacPhail is a veteran journalist who now heads up w8nc inc., helping non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, charitable organizations and associations develop and implement technology-based, marketing driven communications strategies. MacPhail also teaches online journalism at the University of Western Ontario and Ryerson University. He serves on the board of rabble.ca where he founded the rabble podcast network and rabbletv. He's a tech columnist for the website.

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This article was originally published on J-Source. J-Source and MediaShift have a content-sharing arrangement.

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January 04 2012

15:20

2012: Why the Web Is Not Dead and Other Flashpoints

First the easy predictions for the new year: In 2012 we'll see a rise of politics in the digisphere, along with reporting as if the phenomenon is a surprise; more strum over the Murdochs' drum; and a snazzy new iPad 3.

But, there are bigger rumblings afoot in the year ahead, too. Here's my second annual round of predictions for the digital world.

The Return of the Web

Far from the web being dead, we're going to see more and more media organizations figure out how to use it well.

Publishers have started to realize that putting their stock in proprietary apps for Apple devices reaches only a subset of the potential universe, making it hard to "monetize" the investment, not to mention support an entire operation.

Costly to develop, the apps also give Apple more control of customers and their data than the publishers like. To make it worse, attempts to make money through Apple's iAds have been lackluster.

Publishers have started to understand, too, that the latest web applications can, via a browser, handle a lot of the latest whiz-bang interactivity and nifty tools. HTML5, the latest web coding language, can help take advantage of tablet and browser functions such as location, swiping, screen size, portrait and landscape orientation, shaking, tilting and more.

The newer web applications are getting better at integrating with payment systems, preventing unauthorized copying, controlling font size, typeface and other aspects that preserve the look and feel of "the brand."

By using the web, publishers can more easily create something that works across screens, offers similar functionality to a native app built specially for Apple or Android, and gives them access to data and control of revenue.

It also means a lot of the same stuff that hooks into a plain old website (POW?) -- web analytics, certain types of javascript and more -- can be used without having to do a lot of difficult recoding and workarounds.

Look, for example, at the Google Chrome web store (you may need the Chrome browser) to see just a few web-based apps, including NPR's for news and Sports Illustrated's for photos -- some of which require a fee.

Filipe Fortes

The Kindle Cloud Reader, the Financial Times and WalMart's Vudu all went the web route, eschewing native iPad/Phone/Pod apps in favor of the browser to get consumers to buy and consume books, news and video, respectively.

The experience on a computer, tablet or phone can be quite similar to the one on a native app. App companies, too, are gearing up for more web-based functionality.

Flipboard, the iPad app Steve Jobs called a favorite, hired HTML5 expert Filipe Fortes away from Treesaver (a former client of my company). Apple, too, has been listing multiple jobs for those skilled in HTML5.

I'm not saying that native apps will go away -- just that we'll see more development of snazzy new media via the web, which itself is entering a more structured, app-like phase. (See last year's predictions for a discussion of Open vs. Closed philosophies.)

A Year of Legal Wrangling, Wheeling and Dealing

Last year brought a wave of patent acquisitions, including Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola.

This year, we'll see deals done and court cases launched in which holders of various patents, especially in mobile, either sue each other or reach agreement to allow cross-usage. Apple will continue to pursue Google via phone makers over Android.

We'll see legislative and regulatory pushes on privacy and piracy, egged on by powerful lobbyists. (See Mark Glaser's previous piece for a rundown.)

I don't believe that any law will keep people from getting the media they want, though. People will find a way around it, without paying if need be.

Big Four Coop-etition

Just because others have predicted the clash of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple doesn't mean it's not worth mention here, too. But, it also doesn't mean it's absolute: They often help each other, as well.

In my media management class, we recently drew a representation of Amazon as a multi-faceted behemoth, and it dawned on me how formidable the company is as a media distributor.

Not only has Amazon created a proprietary portable platform in the Kindle Fire, but Amazon Prime now includes music, video and borrowed e-books, along with free shipping, all for the same $79 yearly fee.

Amazon is also a content producer through its IMDb movie and TV site and its new book publishing imprint. In the past, it has produced at least one movie and a show hosted by Bill Maher.

Its financial position makes it stronger than many others. For Amazon, advertising is supplementary revenue, unlike for most media companies, like Google or Facebook. It makes its real money through e-commerce, web hosting and as a Content Distribution Network (CDN) that even competitors such as Netflix use.

Is there any company with big ambitions that Google doesn't compete with in some way? From Google Offers in coupons, to Places in location, to Google+, to its suite of document and email products, Google Reader, iGoogle, Google Voice, Analytics and on and on, the company is spread through nearly every digital media and interactive sphere.

Like many a media company, Google makes most of its money from ads, on search and through YouTube. Google's share dwarfs all others in digital, and will continue to generate serious cash flow in 2012.

Meanwhile, it's chipping away at Apple's perceived dominance in smartphones with its Android operating system, which is on more smartphones than any other. Its mobile ad company, AdMob, is getting accolades and market share.

Android's feature set challenges Apple's iOS (see legal wrangling, above) and its newer versions seamlessly hook into Google applications like Places, Picasa photos, Maps, Books, Music, Gmail, Docs and more.

The Kindle Fire, based on a "branched" version of Android, is the first tablet to come close to denting the iPad's market share.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says everything -- search, media, commerce -- is better when your friends help you find, evaluate and understand it.

He and COO Sheryl Sandberg told broadcast journalist Charlie Rose in November that Facebook cooperates rather than competes with the rest of the digital universe.

That is, unless you notice that the social network competes head-on with Google for ad dollars in targeted cost-per-click advertising.

Facebook has also beefed up search, is gathering tons of data via the "like" and Facebook Connect APIs, and is grabbing some of the best Silicon Valley talent that used to work at Google, including Sandberg. It has incorporated some of Google+'s favorite features.

You could build the case for cooperation by noting that Facebook now works well on Android and iOS apps. Amazon includes Facebook's "like" button on its pages, and allows sending of gift cards through Facebook Connect.

Mainly, though, Facebook competes for attention, often called the currency of the digital age. Every hour someone spends socially networking or consuming media through its pages is time they don't spend on YouTube, Amazon, Kindle or iTunes.

Apple is, well, Apple -- one of the great brands of all time. Though we'll see a little bit of concern over Jobs' absence -- maybe a little stumble or two -- the company should continue to rack up oohs, ahhs, and sales as it turns out new devices.

Even if its focus slips a tad, the company can use its billions of dollars of cash to try just about anything, and even fail a few times.

No one tops Apple's ability to charge for digital content via iTunes and Apps, and content distributors will have to play along even as they beef up their web app offerings.

If the rumored Apple television comes to pass, we'll see more frisson in the media sphere, and more pull from Apple against Amazon's efforts to wrest away sales of music and video -- a battle that's continued for years.

Relative to the big four, traditional media companies are playing on the weaker side of an uneven field. They are masters of content production, but that content is expensive and doesn't scale and acquire new customers as cheaply as an engineer's algorithm can.

Honorable Mentions

A few other trends merit some mention. There will be continued froth among ad networks and exchanges, and those buying and selling data around them, with consolidation and some shakeouts.

I see a continued push and pull among human- vs. machine-driven solutions. As Facebook tweaks its Edge Rank algorithm, companies like Demand Media will try to regain ground in search results and companies like Trada will introduce humans to the ad-optimization equation. (I hope to write more about this human-vs.-machine issue at a later date.)

At least one of the big six book publishers may have to fold or merge at some point, though that may not happen just yet. It's a truism that in the digital age, middlemen with decreased marketing, distribution and production muscle get squeezed. Amazon, Google Books and iBooks are helping apply the pincers.

There's likely to be activity in the hyperlocal space. Local news services such as Patch and many more localized efforts such as New York's DNAInfo will need to show investors they're gaining ground.

Location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla (now owned by Facebook), and Google Places will increasingly hook into and compete with the hyperlocals. "Location-based marketing" is already a buzz word.

Where Does This Leave You?

Like last year, I'll say this to media operators: Don't bet on just one horse. Pay attention to who has access to and shares the data you help generate. Offer your media on as many popular platforms as is feasible, and make some level of it easy to share.

Make sure your business model accounts for sharing of your content, including sharing you may not appreciate. No regulation will protect your content completely.

If you're a consumer, don't expect Apple or Android to do everything you need or want, but you may want to weave your media tech life around one or the other for simplicity's sake. Do expect to be delighted and infuriated as you upgrade your computer only to discover some of your favorite old stuff doesn't work as well. (And by old, I mean from like two years ago.)

Me, I'll play with my new Android phone, my new MacBook Pro, consider the new iPad and any new Kindle, keep hacking my Windows computers, getting media any way I can (I still use a VCR sometimes!), and learning with great enjoyment.

Happy New Year!

An award-winning former managing editor at ABCNews.com and an MBA (with honors), Dorian Benkoil handles marketing and sales strategies for MediaShift, and is the business columnist for the site. He is SVP at Teeming Media, a strategic media consultancy focused on attracting, engaging, and activating communities through digital media. He tweets at @dbenk and you can Circle him on Google+.

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December 19 2011

15:20

Getting a Tablet Is Easy; Getting Digital Magazines Is a Pain

Buying that new iPad, Kindle or Nook for Christmas is just the first step to becoming a digital magazine reader. While shopping for books and movies is a fairly straightforward process, getting your favorite magazines onto your new e-reading device can be trickier.

The ways you can buy a magazine are rapidly multiplying, making it harder for readers to evaluate their choices. Major magazine publishers, digital newsstands and magazine customer service companies are trying to simplify the process of setting up digital magazine subscriptions, but so far, it's still sometimes a confusing process. Here's one strategy to get your digital magazine subscriptions set up for e-reading enjoyment.

Check Subscription Expiration Dates

It's helpful to know when your print magazine subscriptions expire if you really want to switch fully to digital-only subscriptions. If you have only one or two print issues left, you might wait until the print subscription ends to sign up for a new digital-only subscription, if that's offered by the publisher. The reason for delaying the move is that the "midstream" print-to-digital subscription switch is challenging for publishers right now. Some magazines can immediately convert your subscription to digital and stop your print issues from arriving in the mail; some can't.

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Zinio, one of the major newsstands for digital magazine subscriptions on iOS and Android, is developing a way to make this conversion easier, but it's still in the works.

"For example, if you had Men's Fitness and you wanted to switch it midstream, you would let Zinio know, and Zinio would contact the publishers to handle it for you," said Jeanniey Mullen, Zinio's global executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Mullen said magazine publishers might model this process on Canada's epost service, which provides a centralized location for consumers to request e-bills instead of paper bills from a variety of billers.

For now, don't count on being able to immediately go all-digital for your existing magazine subscriptions. Depending on the magazine's policies, you may be better off waiting until the end of an existing print subscription, or may have to continue the print subscription to get digital access. You may also find that some of your favorite publications don't even have digital editions yet.

Investigate Your Options

When you're ready to pursue digital subscriptions, your first step should be to review -- thoroughly -- each magazine's website. Information about digital editions and magazine apps can sometimes be hard to locate, so rather than sifting through the magazine's website, opt for a Google search for its title and "digital edition" or "tablet edition."

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"Over time, I'd like to see a standard way of communicating what formats are available and a standard way of getting to them," said Tony Pytlak, president and chief operating officer of Strategic Fulfillment Group, which provides fulfillment services to a number of magazine publishers. "Right now, even a lot of the newsstands that are coming out don't provide things clearly."

You might find that you can access a digital edition for free as a perk of your existing print subscription. For example, subscribers to the print editions of The New Yorker or Wired can immediately get access to their tablet editions for free. Later, when you renew your subscription, you might seek a digital-only option if you find you're enjoying the digital editions more than print.

Publishers are experimenting with package deals, meaning offerings will vary widely among different magazines.

"Our publishing partners are trying to find, for their unique audience, what's the right combination of print/digital, at what price points -- and what does a subscriber to one or the other, or both, actually have access to," Pytlak said.

SFG gathers customers' responses to various print and digital subscription package deals in its database so that publishers can analyze their success. "If you're going to test print only, or digital only, at one price or another, or digital at a slightly higher upsell, capturing the customers' responses to those kinds of offers will help our partners understand them," Pytlak said.

Some magazines have chosen dedicated apps as their only digital content option (other than their websites). That means you'll have to visit the app store for your device (such as the iTunes Store) to download the app, and then likely will purchase the subscription to the magazine's content through the app. You'd then revisit the app on your device to access new content as it's made available.

Additionally, some magazines' digital editions are offered through a newsstand-type app like Zinio, which serves as a storefront for digital magazines. Amazon also sells digital subscriptions for Kindle devices through its Kindle Store, just as Barnes and Noble does on its website for the Nook.

Make the Switch

Once you know what subscription choices a magazine offers, you can either attempt to switch your print subscription to digital by using the magazine's website, if that's an option available online, or -- more likely -- you'll need to call customer service to get help.

"The best proactive approach is to contact the publisher directly, and let them know what they're trying to transfer to digital, and let them know what digital platform," said Zinio's Mullen. "If they've got an iPad, they can say, 'I want to transfer my print subscription to the digital version you have on [the iTunes] Newsstand' ... It will be extremely helpful for the customer service team to know that."

Still, there's no guarantee that customer service representatives will be able to help you. Pytlak said your success may differ from publisher to publisher.

"It varies in how they let their service providers help them," Pytlak said. "Some service providers are not able to handle the transition from print to digital. It's a function of the publisher and the service provider working together to sync those things up and make it easy for the customer to do that."

Form a Digital Magazine Habit

Once you've successfully made the switch to digital subscriptions, it can be hard to remember that you have new issues to read without the physical reminder of a new issue arriving in the mail.

Some magazine and newsstand apps will provide a notification on your device that a new issue is available to read. Those notifications can pile up and become easy to ignore, however. If notifications aren't available, you'll have to remember to reopen the app and see what's new. It can be easy to forget about apps, especially considering app users' habits: 26 percent of apps downloaded are never opened again after their first use. If you're paying for a subscription, though, your motivation to revisit an app might be higher.

Some magazines' digital editions will give you the option of receiving an email notification whenever a new issue is available, which -- depending on your email habits -- might be a more effective reminder to read your magazine.

Improving the Process

Clearly, making the switch from print to digital magazine subscriptions isn't always an easy process. And not everyone is choosing to switch completely just yet.

"I'd call it a shift in consumers' media habits, but not necessarily a transition from print to digital," Pytlak said. He said today, SFG receives more requests from readers to change subscriptions "either print to print, or print to digital and print, more so than print to digital."

Mullen said that rather than just converting existing print subscriptions, many new e-reader users are trying out magazines that are new to them, especially when promotional offers are available.

"They'll buy a single issue of a magazine they've never bought in print before," she said. Additionally, using Zinio, "a very high percentage of people will subscribe to magazines they've never subscribed to in print."

Both Pytlak and Mullen say that standardization of print and digital subscription management is necessary both to make subscribers' lives easier and to improve publishers' ability to gather and analyze data about their subscribers.

"I see 2012 as a big year of change around subscription management on the back end and in fulfillment processing," Mullen said. "It's a very consumer-oriented challenge that we all need to address. A lot of publishing houses are interested in making the midstream switch as easy as possible. The lack of standardization is really the challenge, and where I think we will see advancement in 2012."

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Linfield College. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.

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July 29 2011

16:47

How Do You Like Watching TV Shows?

It used to be so easy. You'd cozy up on a couch, get your remote control (and popcorn) and turn on the TV for a night of vegetation. But now, you have options. So many options. You can watch shows when you want by recording them on your DVR. You can cancel cable TV and use a Roku box to watch shows through Netflix streaming. Or watch shows on your laptop or desktop computer through the websites of various networks. And then there's your handheld devices, smartphones and tablet computers, which now have such high quality video. So how do you like to watch TV? On the big screen? On time-delay? On computers or handhelds? Let us know your TV show viewing habits in the comments below or by taking our poll.


How do you like watching TV shows?

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July 15 2011

16:46

Mediatwits #13: Smartphone Ownership Booms; This Week in Rupert

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Welcome to the 13th episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali, the founder of PaidContent. This week's show looks at a recent survey by Pew Internet that found that 35 percent of Americans now have smartphones, and that ownership is even higher among people of color. Guest Aaron Smith from Pew explained one surprise from the survey: 25 percent of smartphone users were using their phone as their main source of accessing the Net.

Then talk once again turned to the United Kingdom, and what is becoming a regular feature on the podcast: "This Week in Rupert." The phone-hacking scandal continues to widen, with News Corp. dropping its bid to take over BSkyB, and a new FBI investigation into possible hacking of the phones of 9/11 victims in the U.S. Special guest Jack Shafer, Pressbox columnist for Slate, says not to jump to conclusions and that the New York Post and Fox News are innocent until proven guilty.

Check it out!

mediatwits13.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Google+ addictions

0:40: Mark convincing friends to join Google+

3:10: Rafat waiting until it grows out of early adopter phase

3:30: Rundown of topics for the podcast

Pew Internet survey on smartphone use

aaron smith pew.JPG

05:00: Background on Pew Internet's Aaron Smith

07:15: Smartphones becoming part of daily life

11:15: Theories on popularity of smartphones by blacks, Latinos

This Week in Rupert

14:50: Slate's Jack Shafer now supporting Murdoch (joking!)

16:10: Update on the phone-hacking scandal, spreading to 9/11 victims?

18:20: Everyone's guilty before anything is proven

20:20: Guardian, Nick Davies deserve praise for staying on story

22:30: Fox News impacted? Mark and Jack argue it out

25:45: Twitter keeps Jack updated on story

More Reading

Smartphone Adoption and Usage at Pew Internet

As smartphones proliferate, some users are cutting the computer cord at Washington Post

Smartphones and Mobile Internet Use Grow, Report Says at NY Times' Bits blog

Jack Shafer's Pressbox column on Slate

Rupert Murdoch, Paper Tiger at Slate

Murdoch Pulls the Ultimate Reverse Ferret at Slate

FBI to investigate Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.: Did it hack 9/11 victims? at Christian Science Monitor

Google Plus Users Top 10 Million; 1 Billion Items Shared Each Day at ReadWriteWeb

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about how you access the Internet:




How do you access the Internet?

Check out the results of a previous poll: What do you think about Google+?

Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 4.00.33 PM.png

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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July 05 2011

18:06

Golf Digest Adds Interaction, Depth, E-Commerce to iPad App

It seemed like the first-delivered iPad was hardly unsheathed from its box before News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, apparently unfazed by a rich past of misguided forays into Internet ventures, announced the launch of The Daily, which was immediately labeled the first tablet-only newspaper.

And it was mere weeks -- if not days -- after its debut when media critics began declaring it a failure, often pointing to a sense of wandering malleability as The Daily's staff grappled with the dilemma of where a news app fits in a world of near-instantaneous news. Gawker readers guffawed at a leaked memo from editor in chief Jesse Angelo instructing his staff that they were to find, among other things, the "oldest dog in America, or the richest man in South Dakota." Hilarious comments like these reveal an oft-repeated lack of vision that nearly always plagues the first pioneers of a new medium.

In its early days, the radio industry remained a meandering platform thought to be utterly useless to advertisers and entertainers until Albert Lasker, considered by many the founder of modern advertising, discovered comedic actors like Bob Hope and used them to promote Palmolive soap, Pepsodent toothpaste, and Lucky Strike cigarettes to millions of listeners. With mobile and tablet apps, content producers must weigh their offerings in print and on the web and determine what more, if anything, they have to furnish on an app.

Despite such still-lingering questions, Conde Nast has thrown its hat into the ring, launching iPad apps for several magazine titles. It led with an app for the venerable New Yorker and a much-touted, widely praised one for Wired, and it began expanding into the app sphere even more when Apple launched magazine subscriptions on its tablet device.

golfdigestbutton.jpg

Though it's still too early to be considered a "veteran" of the mobile app, Golf Digest wasn't exactly a novice to the medium when it joined its sister publications with a new subscription offering. It had already been publishing a mobile phone app and, earlier this year, had spun off one of the magazine's annual features -- the Hot List -- into its own iPad app. The monthly iPad magazine subscription, Conde Nast announced, would be $1.99 per issue or $19.99 per year.

So how did Golf Digest determine what kind of content would be ideal for not only driving its print and web readers to the app, but new users as well?

The rule is to read the reader

Bob Carney, the magazine's brand editor, is someone who grappled with this question in the months leading up to the subscription's launch.

"For Golf Digest, I think at the very beginning we thought we'd add every kind of bell and whistle we can," he told me in a phone interview. "And we found out that not only is that costly, but really for someone coming to Golf Digest, what they want is more of what they get in the magazine. So for the magazine, instruction and service information about the equipment are the most important things, and the iPad app ought to take that and extend it, not go somewhere else."

Case in point: the publication's swing sequences. Flip through any issue and you're apt to come across them -- the arc of a golfer's swing spread out across several images. The digital editor's natural inclination is to dispel of the still images completely and upgrade to video, perhaps even making it embeddable for wider distribution. Carney and his team, when making the iPad app, opted for an even more granular level. Taking advantage of the tablet's high-resolution screen and interactive features, they designed the swing sequences so the user can control every facet of the swing, jumping forward and back, pausing at the moment of impact. By handing over this control to the user, Carney said, it allows him to learn at his own pace.

This isn't to say video doesn't have its place within the iPad. Sometimes, the magazine will take a swing sequence by, say, Adam Scott, whose swing Carney characterized as "beautiful," and then shoot video of other golfers offering audio commentary, analyzing the minute details of Scott's technique in a way that sheds light on the methodology of a truly superior golfer.

"What we learned is to not try to reinvent the wheel," Carney said. "You try to take what you have and move it to the next level so that the user gets more information and control and you're using all the audio, video, and other tools available. The web is nice, but the web is usually 'lean forward,' where somebody says, 'You should see the Adam Scott swing sequence,' and you have two minutes before your next call and you look at it and you think it's cool and a great swing and now you're back to work. When you're playing on the iPad and you have the time to listen to those guys and move that swing back and forth, it's a different experience, and it's very cool."

Like the web, an iPad app is devoid of the distribution costs that hinder print, allowing the editorial team to vastly expand on something that might take up only a few pages in the print magazine. But of course most of the stuff that ends up in the app must be directly correlated with that month's print issue, necessitating constant overlap between the print and digital teams as the magazine is put together. Carney estimated that it takes three weeks to compile the print issue and three weeks for the app, with a two-week overlap in between. "We have a wall where every page is put out, and I noticed recently they have a layout of the July issue for every iPad screen as well."

hotlistappss.jpg

Expanding the Hot List

Like other publications, Golf Digest is experimenting with rolling out individual apps and products centered around its annual lists. Its Hot List, a yearly ranking of the best golf equipment, was spun off into an iPad app before the magazine itself was even offered on the device.

Craig Bestrom, the magazine's editorial development director, told me in a phone interview that the app allowed his team to expand the list beyond the realms previously employed in the print product.

"The equipment portion of the magazine that was devoted to the Hot List was probably 60 pages," he said. "And this app had close to a thousand screens. That's probably the greatest comparison that you can make, that suddenly we're able to devote a lot more photographs and information. This is a far more comprehensive guide compared to what you get in the magazine. It's not only drivers, but all the new sets of irons, all the new wedges, all the new putters. It's all the club gear for 2011."

In the print version of the Hot List, for instance, the magazine featured about 14 drivers, and each driver was assigned a quarter of a page. But with the iPad app, Bestrom said, you get "multiple images of the driver, you get the sound the driver makes at impact, you have the ability to share on Facebook or on Twitter to your friends about a particular club or clubs that you liked and why you liked them."

The opportunity for e-commerce

The app allows for an e-commerce opportunity as well, enabling its designers to offer the clubs featured in the list up for sale with a simple click. Through a program called Golf Digest Rewards, a user is able to sort through the best prices for a club and purchase it via the app. Bestrom didn't have ready sales figures for me, but the e-commerce component indicated an opportunity for a diversification of revenue that may be necessary as print advertising revenues decline.

Ultimately, it seems the iPad app fits in between the stodgy formality of a print product and the open flexibility of the web. For Carney, it's the removal from the immediacy of the Internet that allows the magazine to flourish within this new medium.

"It works much more like a magazine, in that you really have to make it an experience in itself," he said.

And according to a recent survey, the consumers most coveted by high-end advertisers may agree. As Business Insider's Noah Davis put it, "The average user is roughly $60,000 richer and eight years younger than the typical Golf Digest reader, with an annual household income of $279,600."

Perhaps Golf Digest, the magazine for a sport thought to be played mainly by the affluent, is the perfect publication for a device often associated with that same demographic.

Simon Owens is the director of PR at JESS3, a design agency in Washington, D.C. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter

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July 01 2011

18:26

Smartphone Sensors Could Revolutionize Digital Magazines

We've all done those personality and health quizzes in magazines. You know, the ones where you suspect that answer A will categorize you as the personality type you're trying to avoid, so you choose B instead.

Everyone does that, right?

These evasive strategies for magazine quizzes, though, could be a thing of the past as smartphones and tablet devices evolve to incorporate a variety of new sensors that will keep us honest. While they might not be able to assess your personality yet, sensors are rapidly becoming capable of detecting all kinds of information about you and your surroundings. These sensors will not only change digital magazines' editorial content and advertising, but also lead to entirely new ways of authoring content and serving readers.

Location Services Have Room to Grow

Many consumers already use location-sensing tools, such as GPS features on smartphones, to find nearby businesses. Some magazine and media applications have also integrated location-based features that display relevant content for a user's local area. But there's a lot more that can be done with location information as sensors improve, and as media companies take fuller advantage of what they will offer.

iphone-location.jpg

Location-based services still have space to evolve, said Wayne Chavez, an operations manager for the sensor division of Freescale, a semiconductor company that is developing a variety of sensors for mobile devices, among other products. Chavez said improved location sensors and related applications will combine both GPS data and magnetometer readings to determine the device's orientation and know which way the user is facing. That detail allows greater customization of information.

For example, imagine a tourist taking a picture of a notable building. The picture can easily be geo-tagged already with today's GPS sensors, but new sensors and related applications could gather more information, including "what direction you took the picture from. It can tell you based on your previous interests and queries what's around you near that building. You might be around the block from another historic building," Chavez said.

Software on the device -- such as, perhaps, a local magazine's app -- could then use the sensor's data to push to the user details of how to navigate to that next location of potential interest, as well as ways "to read more about a historical marker, at any length, with instant access to that media," Chavez said.

Magazines' editorial content could even dynamically change to reflect more detailed location information. Joseph J. Esposito, an independent media consultant, offered an example of how it might work.

"If you're reading a future edition of The New Yorker, maybe a story about a young couple that falls in love in New York, and you're walking along, then the story changes because you just walked in front of a Mexican restaurant," Esposito said. The story could update its content to harmonize with the reader's location and activity.

While some digital magazines have already experimented with contextual advertising based on location data, Esposito said the use of this sensor information eventually "will start to have an editorial direction as well."

google-earth-dot.jpg

There's room to improve contextual advertising based on location, too, for digital magazines and other media applications. Chavez suggests that location data could eventually be combined with information from "the cloud" -- online compilations of user information -- for more precise targeting.

"I see many providers saying, based on the location of your handset and your history, I can pre-filter and stream to you information that might be relevant to you," he said.

Sensor Publishing

Esposito's example of the dynamically updated New Yorker story, mentioned above, is just one way that sensor data might alter magazine content. As Esposito puts it, our phones are, in reality, sensors that we carry everywhere we go. Users of sensor-equipped mobile devices could serve as passive authors of projects that gather, analyze and present data from these sensors. Esposito calls this "sensor publishing" to distinguish it from crowdsourcing because it doesn't require participants' active involvement.

Digital magazines and other media applications could collect sensor data -- such as location, temperature, ambient light or other readings -- and find ways to incorporate the data into stories, or to make them stories in themselves.

"We become carriers or hosts, collecting data passively all the time," Esposito said. "It's different from how we like to think about our phones, but there's also passive use of the phone, when it picks up temperature or humidity. When you're collecting information from 350 million phones, now it's starting to get meaningful. Those little data aggregation points start to mean something."

Esposito noted that all types of sensors -- anything scientists use in laboratories, including spectroscopes or Geiger counters -- could eventually be incorporated into mobile devices, making all kinds of data-gathering opportunities possible for the creation or enhancement of digital magazine content and other media.

Sensing Health Information

Sensors might also mean the end of cheating on magazines' health quizzes, along with new ways of experiencing health-related content. A range of health sensors are already available and, as their cost falls, media companies could distribute them so that the data users gather about themselves as part of daily life could be integrated into various types of content.

Carré Technologies is a Montreal-based company developing health sensors that can be integrated into clothing. The sensors will interact with mobile devices to collect and analyze health information, and could have intriguing media-related uses.

"People in general are taking more responsibility for managing their own health," said Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, president of Carré Technologies. "It's going to help preventive health [care] ... A lot of this monitoring can be done remotely now because of the Internet."

Fournier said health sensors like his company's are useful for a variety of fitness and health applications, such as games, biofeedback, and health observation.

"The sensors we make are meant to be worn 24/7, so there's a huge amount of data created by just one person," he said. "There are a lot of creative ways to show that data, to make it useful for the users."

One way to experience that data might be to have it integrated with media content. For example, a digital magazine application that collected health data from a reader using these sensors could then offer customized diet or exercise recommendations within the context of the magazine, as well as pool data from users anonymously to produce sensor publishing projects. Articles could describe the activity patterns of the publication's audience, contextualizing the individual reader's activity level within that broader picture, and then offering suggestions for improvement.

iphone-health-folder.jpg

This approach to providing personally relevant health information might be an opportunity for health-related magazines and other media seeking to capitalize on demographic trends in their mobile applications.

"One of the megatrends here is our aging population," Chavez said. "As our baby boomers reach their mid-60s now, many of them are very tech aware, and looking for telehealth solutions, whether that's out of personal interest or clinically driven."

Naturally, there are privacy concerns related to the collection of health and other personal data. "I'm not sure how much people want the media company to have access to their physical data," Fournier said. "Media companies already collect a lot of data on people. I'm not sure how far people will be able to go before they start to react."

It seems inevitable, though, that we'll see more integration of varied sensors into our mobile devices, and more creative applications for them in magazine and media applications, for both editorial content and advertising. What we've seen so far are just the earliest stages of sensors' uses in the media world.

"We [just passed] the fourth anniversary of the iPhone, and it's been transformative. The first app for reading books on a phone came in July 2008," Esposito said, offering a reminder of how recently these digital possibilities have evolved. "All this world we're talking about here is so preciously new. But it's difficult to imagine turning back the clock."


Maps and graphs image by Courtney Bolton on Flickr

Smartphone photo by Gesa Henselmans on Flickr.

Google Earth image by Miki Yoshihito on Flickr.

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Linfield College. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.

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June 14 2011

20:45

How Publishers Can Bypass Apple with HTML5 Web Apps

When the iPad first arrived on the scene, our Belgian business newspapers, De Tijd and L'Echo, embraced it. We knew tablets, with their lightness and convenience, would become important for our communities, and so we dove into building apps and offering our readers special deals on iPads.

Quickly though, we learned that despite the opportunities the iPad offered, there were strings attached.

It wasn't surprising that Apple wanted a piece of the revenue. But I'm not sure everybody anticipated the possibility that the company would also claim ownership of users' data -- a sensitive issue in the digital media world.

HTML5 to the Rescue

We all started to wonder if the iPad would be just a shiny prison for unfortunate media outfits, all of us forced to offer our precious content through that new channel while having to pay a hefty price. But HTML5 seems to have come to the rescue.

The Financial Times made headlines last week when it launched a web-based application for smartphones and tablet computers written in HTML5 -- allowing it to bypass Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, as well as other distributors.

In doing so, the British newspaper is aiming to secure a direct relationship with readers.

For the user, it makes no difference. The FT icon on my iPad looks the same as the native app icons, and the whole experience is very app-like.

The Benefits of Bypassing Apple

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using HTML5 and bypassing the App Store? I asked my colleague, multimedia manager Tom Peeters of Mediafin, the Belgian publisher of De Tijd and L'Echo, and he explained that as targeted advertising grows, the user data part is a crucial one.

"I think it's very important for us as a publisher to have full access to the user information ... in the App Store it's totally impossible to have this data," he said.

In addition, having an HTML5 app would allow Mediafin to keep the 30 percent revenue that goes to Apple every time a sale is made. In fact, taking into account the VAT (value added tax), it's more like 40 percent.

HTML5 will also enable Mediafin to shorten the app's release time.

"Updating the app will be easier and faster, and what's also important -- at times that we decide," Peeters said.

An App Store app has to be approved by Apple, a procedure that takes time and is fully controlled by Cupertino.

Peeters also expects that it will be easier to tweak the HTML5 apps to optimize them for other platforms such as Android or BlackBerry. However, he admitted the project has its challenges. Here's an extended interview I conducted with Peeters recently:

So our strategy for now seems to be a hybrid one: maintaining the native app in iTunes while also launching HTML5 apps for the iPad and other tablet devices.

What will your media organization do? Go for the native app or take the HTML5 route?

Roland Legrand is in charge of new media at Mediafin, the publisher of leading Belgian business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. He studied applied economics and philosophy. After a brief teaching experience, he became a financial journalist working for the Belgian wire service Belga and subsequently for Mediafin. He works in Brussels, and lives in Antwerp with his wife, Elisabeth.

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May 13 2011

16:45

Mediatwits #7: Skype Gets Microsoft-ed; 'Street Fight' Returns Fire

laurarich.jpg

Welcome to the seventh episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show looks at Microsoft's massive payout, $8.5 billion, for Skype, a popular communication service that still loses money.

Our guest this week is Laura Rich, the co-founder of the new Street Fight site covering the business of hyper-local and geo-location. She responds to our earlier criticism of the site on a past episode. Plus, Google announces its new Chromebook netbook computers that don't have any software beyond a web browser, and will be out next month.

Check it out!

mediatwits7.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

NEW! Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Rafat's allergies and Mark's allergic to cable

1:20: Mark decides to cut the cord to cable TV

3:30: Rafat cut the cord when he moved to New York

4:50: Rundown of stories on the podcast

Microsoft bets big on Skype

6:45: Don't ruin it, Microsoft

8:40: Could it upset the cell carriers?

10:50: Rafat pays to use Skype when traveling

Interview with Laura Rich of Street Fight

13:10: $150 billion in local advertising market

15:40: Street Fight will have events and do original research

17:45: AOL uses Patch as wire service to cover Bin Laden news

20:55: Rafat says PaidContent succeeded by being a must-read daily

22:50: No deja-vu for Internet bubble

Google unveils Chromebooks

google-io-chromebook-acer.jpg

23:40: Basics on the Chromebook

25:30: Rafat says netbooks have their place, but being replaced by tablets

28:30: Long-lasting battery-charge miracles

More Reading

Microsoft's gamble: A big phone bill at The Economist

Microsoft's Skype-high price

Will Microsoft Inject Trademark Mediocrity Into Promise Of Skype? at Forbes

Microsoft Will Screw Up Skype at Daily Beast

Skype Deal Is Unlikely to Pay Off for Microsoft at Reuters Breakingviews

Skype's long history of owners and also-rans: At an end? at Fortune

Street Fight

HuffPo Harnesses Patch Hyperlocals for Bin Laden News at Street Fight

Google Chromebook Could Struggle Against Windows, iPad at eWeek

Three Big Questions for the Samsung Chromebook at PC Mag

Hands On With Samsung's Chrome OS-Powered Series S at Huffington Post

Hands On With Google's Chromebook: Nice, but Unnecessary at The Atlantic

Google tries to remake the laptop at CNET

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about Microsoft buying Skype:




Microsoft + Skype = ?Market Research

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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April 29 2011

17:40

April 22 2011

22:10

What Do You Think About iPhones Tracking You?

There is a bizarre competition among tech firms to see who can creep us out the most. First came Google and its peeping StreetView vans loaded with webcams. Then came Facebook and its "brilliant" Beacon feature that broadcast items you recently bought to your friends. Now comes news from a pair of researchers that Apple has a tracking file in iPhones and iPads with iOS 4 that saves your location data. And twice a day that information is beamed to Apple itself. Now that can be a good thing if you lose your iPhone or have it stolen. And law enforcement officers have been using tracking on phones to hunt down criminals for years. But what about this secret feature that few people knew about? Should Apple come clean? Fix it? Let you opt out? Share your thoughts in our poll, or give us your own take in the comments below.




What do you think about iPhones tracking your location?customer surveys

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17:00

Mediatwits #4: Impressive, Creepy Apple; The iPhone Radio Reporter

neal augenstein larger.JPG

Welcome to the fourth episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show is obsessed with all things Apple -- and iPhone. Apple had a blow-out earnings quarter, nearly doubling its profits and selling more iPhones than ever with the new Verizon iPhone. But the creepy part is the finding by scientists that your iPhone (and iPad) knows your location and has been storing that in a secret file since last June. (Update: Today the Wall Street Journal found that Google is also tracking Android phones.)

Our guest this week is Neal Augenstein, the first major-market radio reporter to give up his bulky equipment and use just an iPhone to do audio and video reports for WTOP-FM and wtop.com in Washington, DC. Plus, there are two new news aggregators and apps, Trove and News.me, that needed a quick take.

Check it out!

mediatwits4.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Apple's blowout quarter

3:30: Apple by the numbers

5:30: iPod going into the sunset?

7:00: Mark enjoys freedom from AT&T

iPhones tracking you

7:50: Background on consolidated.db file

9:15: Rafat says it will be shut down

10:40: WSJ series What They Know

12:10: Do people care?

Neal Augenstein interview

13:40: Neal details all the old gear he used to carry

16:10: The app Neal uses on his iPhone for audio editing

17:50: Audio is about 92% as good as before

20:10: Figuring out best practices as he goes along

23:40: RIP Flipcam

Trove and News.me

25:30: Mark's experience with News.me

27:40: News.me is a Twitter replacement or enhancement?

29:20: Flipboard gets $50 million in funding

More Reading

Apple clobbers estimates, iPad sales fall short at Fortune

AT&T Boosts Subscriber Rolls Even as Verizon Gains IPhone at Bloomberg

With iPhone, everybody wins: Verizon, AT&T and Apple at Computerworld

Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves at O'Reilly Radar

Researcher: iPhone, iPad track users' whereabouts at CNET

iStalk: Apple's iPhones, iPads revealed to be tracking user data at NY Post

Apple, Google Collect User Data at WSJ

News.me, the iPad News Aggregator Blessed by Big Publishers, Gets Ready to Launch at AllThingsD

News.me

Trove

What They Know series by Wall Street Journal

Holy Crap, Flipboard Just Raised $50 Million At A $200 Million Valuation at Business Insider

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about the iPhone tracking your movements:




What do you think about iPhones tracking your location?survey software

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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April 04 2011

17:30

How One Radio Reporter Ditched His Equipment for an iPhone 4

It's been more than a year since I packed away my laptop computer, digital recorders, microphones, cables and cameras, and began covering Washington, D.C. with only my iPhone.



When I first came to the top-rated all-news WTOP in 1997, the bag phone I carried weighed as much as a bowling ball. Reel-to-reel tape recorders (ask your parents) were the newsroom staple, but early versions of Cool Edit audio editing software signaled that the times, they were a-changin'.



key accessories.JPG

As cell phones became smaller, and laptops more prevalent, radio reporters could finally produce studio-quality reports in the field, and email them to the newsroom. But that involved schlepping, booting, connecting, dubbing, and a lot of waiting.


Now, with the Apple iPhone 4 and several apps, I can produce intricate audio and video reports, broadcast live, take and edit photos, write web content and distribute it through social media from a single device.

How It's Done

With the VC Audio Pro app from VeriCorder, I can quickly pull cuts, edit and assemble audio wraps, and adjust volumes on a three-track screen similar to the popular Adobe Audition used in many newsrooms. The amount of time saved by not having to boot up the laptop and transfer audio has been my single greatest workflow improvement. The finished report that used to take 30 minutes to produce and transmit can now be done in 10. Here's a rundown of all the key ways I use my iPhone:

Audio capture

When I started my iPhone-only reporting on a 3Gs, I was pleased with the Blue Microphone Mikey. The small microphone connects to the charging port of the iPhone and iPod. Mikey provided nice bass response, but when Apple iPhone 4 was introduced, Mikey was no longer compatible. I tested several compact microphones, but all sounded thin and hissy. Currently I'm using the built-in microphone of the iPhone and am satisfied with the sound quality. The iPhone is very susceptible to wind.

Video capture

For video, VC 1stVideo has many of the same features as its audio cousin. It provides two HD video tracks and two audio tracks. The iPhone's built-in microphone points away from the subject being interviewed. I've experimented with the JK Audio BlueDriver-F3. It's a Bluetooth unit that allows a broadcast microphone to pair with the iPhone. It's expensive (more than $200), and while it does allow the mic to transmit to the phone, it doesn't mute the iPhone's built-in microphone. So, currently the only way to get good audio with video is to use an XLR adapter cable.

Photography

With photos, the ability to quickly snap, edit and transmit photos to wtop.com from the same device is causing me to rethink my newsgathering workflow. In years past my first priority at a breaking news scene was to gather audio. Now, I find myself taking a few pictures first. While dozens of photo apps are available, I use the iPhone 4's built-in camera. For editing, I select the photo from Camera Roll, re-frame, then take a screenshot of the cropped image by simultaneously touching the sleep/wake button on the top of the phone and the Home button. It's then ready to be emailed.

Mobile VoIP

For live reports, I've experimented with two mobile voice-over-IP (VoIP) apps -- Report-IT Live and Media5-fone. Each requires a receiver in the newsroom that costs several thousand dollars. I haven't been satisfied with the stability of either, and have decided it's too risky to use for a live report, so will usually pre-feed a pre-recorded spot. Skype -- especially in a WiFi hotspot -- provides a free live alternative that often sounds as good as the pricy apps.

Twitter

Twitter is complementing and redefining my on-air and website reporting. I'll often break stories on Twitter, and follow-up with audio and website reports. Tweeting pictures and video has a faster upload time than emailing, so often the website will capture tweeted elements for inclusion on wtop.com. I'm very happy with the free version from Twitter Inc. My backup is TwitVid.

iPad + accessories


These days I also carry an iPad to take notes, while my iPhone is on a podium during a news conference. Before that, I liked the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which paired easily with the phone.

mic clip iphone.JPG

In attempting to reduce my load, I carry a few accessories. Because nobody makes a microphone clip for the iPhone, I jury-rigged one by super-gluing thin foam to a standard clip, which holds the phone snugly while preventing scratching. I also just purchased the Joby Gorilla for iPhone 4, which can be wrapped around other microphones on a podium.

Conclusion

So is it worth it? A year in, iPhone-only reporting isn't perfect. While audio editing works great, with the phone's built-in microphone I'd estimate the sound quality of my field reports is 92% as good as when I use bulky broadcast equipment. Getting better audio for my video is a real challenge. And if I ever have to cover a story from a subway tunnel or location where there's no WiFi or cell coverage, I won't be able to file until I resurface.


As digital equipment continues to morph I'm sure my tools will be substantially different within a few years. Every day, new applications open new opportunities for a reporter who's willing to work around the limitations of iPhone-only reporting while maximizing the benefits.

For the past 14 years, Neal Augenstein has been an award-winning reporter with WTOP-FM and wtop.com in Washington, D.C. He's the first major-market radio reporter to do all his field reporting on an iPhone. Neal is a frequent contributor to CBS News Radio. Born in Connecticut, he graduated from American University in Washington, with a degree in broadcast journalism. On Twitter, follow @NealAugenstein and @wtop.

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March 25 2011

17:30

Mediatwits #2: AT&T Buys T-Mobile; 'Tweets from Tahrir' Authors

Welcome to the second episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show looks at the repercussions of the $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile USA by AT&T. Rafat has had both services and will stick by AT&T, but Mark is making the move from AT&T to Verizon. Plus, Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns, the authors of the book Tweets from Tahrir, were special guests on the show, explaining how they got their book to print so fast. Finally, MediaShift poll results showed that nearly 90% of respondents would not pay for NYTimes.com content at the current high prices.

mediatwits2.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley. "iPhone Blues" by The Temps.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

AT&T buys T-Mobile

2:20: Mark sings the "iPhone Blues"

3:40: Rafat compares T-Mobile in L.A. to AT&T in NYC

5:50: Media companies will lose a big cell phone advertiser

7:20: Google makes deal to supply Sprint with Google Voice

10:20: Rafat will stick with AT&T

"Tweets from Tahrir"

Nadia Idle.jpg

13:10: Nadia Idle talks about her trip to Tahrir Square

17:45: Alex Nunns says they got permission from all tweeters to use their tweets in book

21:15: What's up with the @HosniMubarak feed?

24:30: Nadia will return to Egypt in May with books in hand

26:00: Mark and Rafat discuss print-on-demand aspect of the book

NYTimes.com pay wall

29:50: NY Times execs pooh-pooh people hacking the wall

33:50: MediaShift poll results on people paying for access to NYTimes.com

35:45: Rafat happy that companies are trying revenue models

More Reading

What does AT&T's T-Mobile merger mean to you? at News.com

Lawmaker: Make Net Neutrality A Condition Of AT&T/T-Mobile Merger at MediaPost

AT&T's Pitch for Free Mobile at WSJ

"Tweets from Tahrir" book from ORBooks.com

'Tweets From Tahrir' Collects Egypt Posts in a Book at NY Times Media Decoder

New York Times Paywall Breached With Four Lines of Code at PC Mag

A Note to Our Readers on the Times Pay Model and the Economics of Reporting at NY Times

Be sure to vote in the MediaShift poll about the AT&T/T-Mobile buyout:




AT&T + T-Mobile = _________?online survey

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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February 25 2011

17:00

How to Experience the Oscars on Mobile, Social Media

The Academy Awards are less than 127 hours away. While most people haven't seen all 10 Best Picture nominees, the Oscar-nominated reels may still be experienced through the revelry of mobile, digital and social initiatives. For moviegoers who still want the big screen experience of dreams and swans before Sunday, AMC Theatres offers the final chance with its Best Picture Spotlight.

If you can't commit to a movie marathon this weekend, the Academy, as well as media and technology companies, have created digital popcorn for snacking on the Oscar experience before Sunday.

The Academy

The Oscars and nominated movies are omnipresent in digital media and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is showing true grit with its promotional campaign. ABC, the official broadcast partner for the Oscars through 2020, created the Oscar Backstage Pass, a companion app for the telecast that offers live camera views from the red carpet, the Kodak Theatre and the Governor's Ball. Available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the $0.99 app (iTunes link) gives viewers directorial powers previously limited to a select few. Out of the nine camera angles offered in the Kodak Theatre, including Host Cam, Thank You Cam and Audience Cam, the most intriguing may be Control Booth Cam. When a winner's speech exceeds the time limit, this viewpoint could possibly give us the Cue Music Cam.

Oscar Backstage Pass.jpg

For those who prefer the free experience, download "The Oscars" mobile app for access to the latest news and events or try to predict the winners in all 24 categories. Currently, 23 percent of The Oscars app users think "The King's Speech" will win Best Picture, while "The Social Network" is second with 18 percent. The only runaway favorite is Natalie Portman, with 71 percent believing that she'll dance away with Best Actress.

Oscars red-carpet-experience.jpg

Walk down Broadway about 20 blocks from the New York City Ballet and you'll find yourself next to an interactive display called The Oscar Experience. Fans can have their picture taken next to a virtual Oscar statuette. Some hold the statue, while others prefer to smile or cry as if they are giving an acceptance speech. The photo galleries may be viewed on the Academy's Facebook page.

Google

Google is tracking the global search trends for the Oscar nominees in an easy-to-use tool appropriately called Oscar Search Trends. The charts for all categories may be customized for the last 30 days, the last 12 months or all years. Obscure international search results include the following: "Inception" leads all searches among Visual Effects nominees with Singapore driving the volume above India, while "Inside Job" leads Documentary Feature nominees with Portugal edging out Canada in volume. "Black Swan" leads all Best Picture nominees in global search popularity. And if you know Google, they prefer "Black Swan" searches over black hat search engine optimization.

Twitter

The cinematic characters and the actors who potray them will surely be a focal point of the tweets that Oscar watchers will post on Sunday. Follow the #Oscars hashtag on Twitter to see a continuous stream of comments on all things Oscar -- the winners, the fashion, the jokes, the speeches, the surprises, the parties and the totally inappropriate or irrelevant. For a more intimate and insightful Oscar experience, follow the tweets of these Oscar nominees:

  • James Franco (@jamesfranco) - Co-host of the Oscars and nominated for Best Actor ("127 Hours")
  • Mark Ruffalo (@mruff221) - Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ("The Kids Are All Right")
  • Helena Bonham Carter (@_HelenaBCarter_) - Nominated for Best Supporting Actress ("The King's Speech")
  • Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) - Nominated for Best Music, Original Score ("The Social Network") with Atticus Ross

AOL

You may want to believe that "The Kids Are All Right," but in kid reenactments of the Best Picture nominees, the kids are all ridiculous. Yes, ridiculously cute and cut-throat, as in "The Social Network" clip (below), or cute and cut-arm in "127 Hours."

GetGlue

While you're watching Sunday's telecast on ABC and seeing the accuracy of your picks dwindle with each category, find comfort in something that truly sticks -- such as an official Oscars sticker from GetGlue, a social network that enables entertainment check-ins. It may not be "The Social Network," but it's one of many digitally choreographed programs attempting to get movie fans glued to the Oscars.

the_oscars.png

Have you participated in any digital Oscar engagement programs or plan to watch Sunday night's show? Share your favorite digital enhancements to the show in the comments below.

Nick Mendoza is the director of digital communications at Zeno Group. He advises consumer, entertainment and Web companies on digital and social media engagement. He dreamstreams and is the film correspondent for MediaShift. Follow him on Twitter @NickMendoza.

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February 17 2011

16:45

Blizzard Builds KOMU Community with Mobile Video, Facebook







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

I've always dreamed of a time when my community could come together with the help of our on-air and online collaboration. All it took was a blizzard to make it happen.

Mid-Missouri was hit with a blizzard-like storm that dumped 17.5 inches of snow into Columbia, Mo., and even more south of the city. The entire viewing audience of KOMU-TV was home and stuck inside. An ice storm had threatened to cut power across the region, but that didn't happen. Instead, the community was snowed in with power to their computers and high speed Internet connections. They were contained and ready to be engaged.

The KOMU newsroom was ready. The staff is a mix of professional reporters and journalists who are still students at the Missouri School of Journalism. The managers of the newsroom -- who, like me, are also faculty members -- encouraged the students to step up and help out in the coverage of what was looking to become an epic storm.

About 40 faculty, staff and students essentially lived in the newsroom to make sure all of the newscasts got on the air. I gathered up multiple teams of reporters, who were then placed into different communities. Each team had a really nice camera and at least one person had an iPhone, Android or Blackberry phone that could shoot video and/or Skype. I had the reporters download a set of tools that would help them tell multimedia stories about their locations and how those smaller towns were dealing with the heavy snow.

My recommendations were:

While we didn't use all of them, I wanted to make sure we were ready and able on all kinds of platforms.

Videos on the Scene

The reporters went out to their various locations, found a hotel, and got ready. As the day went on and the snow fell harder, the mobile reporters went out into the storm. They were looking at scenes no one else was willing to travel out to see -- like what a closed interstate highway looked like:

My favorite was taken the morning after the storm when one of our student reporters hopped onto a snow plow to survey the bad road conditions:

While the reporters were out sharing their stories of the snowstorm, our viewers were at home watching every link, video, and live broadcast. When the majority of the storm was over, the KOMU 8 viewers took over by sharing many of their own stories about the storm. Our newsroom has an email address that accepts moderated photos into a Ning network. Hundreds of photos were sent to KOMU -- and that was in addition to the more than 620 photos posted to the KOMU Facebook wall.

The fan page was the centerpiece of our online interaction during the storm. A year ago, KOMU had fewer than 500 "fans" on the page. Before the storm, it was up to 3100. After the storm, it was up to 5500. Our newsroom has yet to use contests to encourage fans to join our page so this jump was huge. Along with the increase in fans, more and more people join in on the conversations and share on the page.

Big Moment for Sharing

This is what I've always craved as a journalist working in a regional market. It's exactly the sort of interaction I've taught my students to foster for years. I have always wanted open the line of communication and sharing with my news audience. This blizzard was the first time I really had that opportunity.

During the storm, I lived on my computer. I commented and reacted to every discussion for at least 36 hours. I slept very little.

My experience was not unique for the staff. My husband, who also works in the newsroom, and stayed there for two days while I worked from home with our children. I had student employees who slept at the station and worked with me throughout the storm.

It was awesome and exhausting. But the relationships formed during that storm seem to be holding. In the two weeks since the storm, KOMU's Facebook page has only had about ten "fans" leave the page.

The downsides? The amount of user-generated content we gathered was overwhelming. I wanted to make sure we had opportunities to share all it. Our anchors did stories about the content viewers had shared, and we featured the images and video by showing off an iPad on the air. I also had my students create collections of the photos our viewers uploaded. Here's our Blizzard Kids collection:

The best moment? I'd say it was when our team found a woman and her son digging out the reporters' car. They were compelled to help by a Skype conversation during our newscast about how the reporters' car had been buried at a local hotel. The mother and son, who were staying there at the time, left their room just to help the reporters get their car out of the hotel parking lot:

What lessons did we learn? That when you have a chance to engage, grab it. We used mobile tools to report and encouraged our viewers to do the same. We shared, we compared, and we were a true community on-air and online. I would suffer through a hundred more blizzards if it meant we could continue to share and collaborate like we did during this one.

Jennifer Reeves worked in television news for the majority of her career. In the last six years, she has moved from traditional journalist to non-traditional thinker about journalism and education. Jen is currently the New Media Director at KOMU-TV and komu.com. At the same time, she is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was a part of the inaugural class of Reynolds Journalism Institute fellows (2008-09).







Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by the USC Annenberg nine-month M.A. in Specialized Journalism. USC's highly customized degree programs are tailored to the experienced journalist and gifted amateur. Learn more about how USC Annenberg is immersed in tomorrow.

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January 28 2011

18:10

5 Key Truths About Mobile News Consumers

Smartphones are ushering in the next wave of news consumption. These devices present an exciting opportunity for the news media to go mobile, putting endless information and the possibility of engagement in the palm of every consumer's hand.

But what characterizes the new mobile news consumer? How does he or she interact with news? And how can that shape the still-forming mobile news medium? I've laid out several key characteristics of mobile news consumers below. News organizations need to keep these basic truths in mind when developing apps and mobile sites.

Key Characteristics of Mobile News Consumers

1. They are impulse users.
Smartphone owners actively seek out bits of news throughout the day. Whether they are at the office, in a crowded bar, or in the comfort of their own home, the impulsive user wants to quickly open an app or browser on their mobile phone and, within seconds, have up-to-the-minute news. While some users are willing to spend time on longer reads, the majority are still looking for the latest, bite-sized chunks of news.

2. They're demanding.
Mobile news consumers invested in their devices as well as their monthly phone and data plans. They have paid good money for up-to-the-minute pulse.pngaccess, and that's what they expect the news media to deliver. The emergence of this on-the-go, impulsive, and demanding user means mobile news applications and websites need to adopt clean interfaces and offer powerful search functionality. The demanding nature of mobile news consumers also helps explain the growing popularity of news aggregator apps like the Pulse News Reader. These aggregators pull together top stories from users' favorite sites and offer the option to read a clean text summary of the story or go to the original article. Considering the mobile users' need for speed, news aggregator apps save consumers not only the time it takes to visit each site separately, but also the time it takes to read full articles.

3. They consume and contribute.
The next step in mobile news will be less about consumption and more about contribution and collaboration. Smartphones give users the opportunity to post video, images, and text to the Internet in seconds. Mobile apps like Qik and CNN's iReport currently provide some of the most visible venues for mobile users to post news as it happens. Plus, citizen-documented news is appearing on blogs, social networking sites, and YouTube. The ability for anyone to report breaking news means news organizations need to evolve further, shifting from working for the news consumer to working with the news consumer.

4. They are on multiple platforms.
The lack of a cross-platform app strategy is a stumbling block for some news outlets. News outlets and app creators need to make certain their news apps are available on all major platforms. Android is still not a priority for many news outlets, despite the fact it has more than 300,000 new activations daily and has now overtaken rivals such as RIM and Apple in U.S. smartphone market share. Similarly, Nokia's Symbian platform must stay on app makers' radar, given its massive installed base and large international penetration, with more than 450 million active devices.

5. They don't mind a little push
Traditional news outlets like CNN have catered to the new expectations of smartphone users by integrating push notifications into their apps. When major breaking news hits, CNN can push the story to a user's home screen, regardless of whether the app is open. The key is to use the push feature wisely. Many smartphone users will uninstall your app if you push too often for the wrong reasons. This is a balancing act that news organizations must pay attention to.

Patrick Mork is chief marketing officer of GetJar, the world's largest open mobile platform. He heads the company's overall marketing, branding, content and communications strategy. Prior to joining GetJar, he was marketing director EMEA at glu, where he built up the company's marketing team and helped establish glu as one of the top 3 games publishers in Europe. A former marketer at PepsiCo, Patrick has worked in venture-backed start-ups in marketing, sales and general management for the past 10 years. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University.

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