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March 29 2013

13:30

February 27 2012

20:19

Murdoch claims three million sales for Sun on Sunday launch

Journalism.co.uk :: News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has claimed a launch day circulation of more than three million for the first edition of the Sun on Sunday. Murdoch, who has been in London for the past week to oversee the launch, said on Twitter: "Reports early, but new Sun edition sold three million." On Friday, he had said he would be happy with substantially above two million.

Continue to read Paul McNally, www.journalism.co.uk

February 03 2012

15:00

This Week in Review: Twitter’s censorship compromise, and Facebook files with big numbers

Twitter spells out its censorship policy: Just a couple of weeks after the SOPA/PIPA fight came to a head, Twitter pushed the discussion about online censorship a bit further when it announced late last week a new policy for censoring tweets: When Twitter gets requests from governments to block tweets containing what they deem illegal speech, its new policy will allow it to block those tweets only to readers within that country, leaving it visible to the rest of the world. Twitter will send notice that it’s blocked a tweet to the censorship watchdog Chilling Effects.

As the Guardian and The New York Times noted, much of the initial response among Twitter users consisted of complaints about censorship and the chilling of free speech in countries with oppressive regimes. The policy had critics elsewhere, too: BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin said “it’s hard to see this as anything but a huge setback and disappointment,” and the international group Reporters Without Borders sent an open letter to Twitter questioning the policy and urging the company to reconsider. And later, BoingBoing’s Rob Beschizza pointed out that even though Twitter implied that it had already been blocking tweets at the request of governments (which would have made the new policy a reduction in censorship), it’s never actually done so — only in response to legal challenges on copyright issues.

But perhaps surprisingly, Twitter had far more defenders than critics among media observers. Alex Howard of GovFresh put together the most comprehensive roundup of opinions on the subject, praising Twitter himself for “sticking up for users where it can.” Two free-speech advocates, Mike Masnick of TechDirt and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Jillian York, made similar arguments: When a government is demanding censorship, Twitter can either refuse and be blocked entirely in that country, or it can comply. Twitter, they said, has chosen the latter in as limited and transparent fashion as possible.

Others, like The Next Web’s Nancy Messieh, commended Twitter for shifting the censorship focus to the government — as Reuters’ Paul Smalera argued, the gray box noting that a tweet has been censored in a certain country is a black mark for that government, not Twitter. The broadest argument in Twitter’s defense came from sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, who, in addition to these arguments, also praised Twitter for its transparency and for allowing users an easy way to circumvent censorship.

Still others weren’t firmly on either side regarding the policy itself, but pointed to larger issues surrounding it. Media prof C.W. Anderson said that while Twitter did the best it could under the circumstances but showed it doesn’t have any values that override its place as a business: “non-market values are, in the long run, incompatible with the logic of the market, and what Twitter is trying to do now is reconcile what it believes with what the market needs it to do.” Tech pioneer Dave Winer called for people to learn to be able to organize themselves outside of Twitter’s infrastructure and the possibly of censorship.

In a pair of thoughtful posts, GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram advised caution in trusting Twitter, recognizing that like Google and Facebook, it’s a business whose interests might not align with our own. The EFF’s York and Eva Galperin encouraged users and observers to keep a close eye on Twitter in order to keep them accountable for adhering to their professed beliefs.

Facebook goes public: Facebook’s much-anticipated filing for a public stock offering came on Wednesday, and The New York Times and Danny Sullivan at Marketing Land have the best quick-hit summaries of the S-1 document. The big numbers are mind-bogglingly big: 845 million monthly active users, $5 billion in stock, $3.71 billion in revenue last year, $1 billion in profit. Of that revenue, 85% came from advertising, and 12% came from the social gaming giant Zynga alone. (All Things D has the background on that relationship.) And when you average it out, Facebook’s only getting $4.39 in revenue per active user.

Aside from the numbers, among the other items of interest from the filings was its risk assessment — as summarized by Mashable, it sees slowing expected growth, difficulty in making money off of mobile access, competition from the likes of Google and Twitter, and global government censorship as some of its main risk factors. There’s also Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to shareholders, annotated with delightful snark by Wired’s Tim Carmody, which includes the explanation of a company code Zuckerberg calls “The Hacker Way.” Forbes’ Andy Greenberg made one of the first of what’s sure to be many comparisons between The Hacker Way and Google’s “Don’t Be Evil.” GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram took note of the grandiosity of Zuckerberg’s stated mission to rewire the world.

Two main questions emerged in commentary on the filing: How much is Facebook really worth? And what happens to Facebook now? To the first question, as The New York Times pointed out on the eve of Facebook’s filing, the company’s massive net worth is a stark indicator of the booming value of personal data collected online. The Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum took the opposite tack, wondering why Facebook gets so little money out of each of its hundreds of millions of users before concluding that “Facebook is still a young business figuring out how to sell ads and figuring it how aggressive it can get without ticking off users.”

To the second question, Mathew Ingram noted that going public is usually a way for tech companies to get the financing they need to build up for some major growth — something Facebook has already done. So, he asked, is this just an attempt for Facebook’s employees and backers to cash out, and the end of the company’s most productive growth phase? Leaning on tech entrepreneurship leader John Battelle, Wired’s Tim Carmody and Mike Isaac reasoned that Facebook is mature enough already that in order to attain the growth it’s promising, it needs to be in the midst of some massive changes as a company. A couple of guesses at some of those specific changes: More ads and purchases of tech companies (Fast Company) and a big ramp-up in mobile ads (Marketing Land).

Murdoch’s candor amid scandal: The phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has continued to spread (rather quietly here in the States, but much more prominently in the U.K.), and it may have turned yet another corner with the arrest last weekend of four journalists from News Corp.’s Sun, significantly deepening the scandal beyond the now-defunct News of the World, where it began.

News Corp. has also turned over an enormous new trove of data which, along with the arrests, could begin to seriously threaten News Corp.’s other British newspapers, including the Times, according to the Guardian’s Nick Davies. British j-prof Roy Greenslade reported that many Sun staffers are worried that they may not be part of News Corp. much longer.

In the midst of all this, Murdoch’s feisty Twitter account continues unfettered, prompting praise from The New York Times’ David Carr for his refreshing candor. Mathew Ingram agreed that this “sources go direct” approach should be viewed as a boon, not a challenge, to serious journalism. The AP’s Jonathan Stray had perhaps the best summation of the relationship between sources using their own platforms and journalism: “When they want you to know, sources will go direct. When they don’t… that’s journalism.”

Reading roundup: It was a relatively quiet week outside of the big Twitter and Facebook stories, but there were still some cool nuggets to be found:

— Facebook’s relatively new Twitter-like Subscribe feature continues to draw complaints of rampant spam. Those criticisms have been led by Jim Romenesko, but this week the New York Daily News and Slate’s Katherine Goldstein chimed in, voicing concerns in particular about inappropriate comments directed toward women. Meanwhile, Mashable’s Todd Wasserman said Subscribe is ruining the News Feed.

— Big news in the journalism-academy world: Columbia and Stanford are teaming up to create a new Institute for Media Innovation, thanks to a $30 million gift from longtime Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown.

— Jay Rosen posted an inspiring interview with the Chicago Tribune’s Tracy Samantha Schmidt, gleaning some useful insights on how to nurture an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit within a large organization, rather than a startup.

— Megan Garber of The Atlantic presented the results of a Hot or Not-style study that determined what type of Twitter content people like. Here’s what they don’t like: Old news, Twitter jargon, personal details, negativity, and lack of context.

Rupert Murdoch photo by David Shankbone and original Twitter bird by Matt Hamm used under a Creative Commons license.

July 11 2011

04:38

NOTW staff: final crossword with a message to Rebekah Brooks, but rage is not an option

The Telegraph :: A source at the News of the World told the DailyMail that Rebekah Brooks had ordered two loyal Sun journalists to comb the papers looking for tricks. They said: "Rebekah tried everything to stop the staff having the last word and she utterly failed." She brought in two very senior Sun journalists to go though every line on every page with a fine tooth comb to ensure there were no libels or any hidden mocking messages of the chief executive. They seemed to have failed. Departing staff at the News of the World appear to have sent a parting message of disgust to former editor Rebekah Brooks in the crossword.

Taking revenge has never been a good strategy, although it's understandable. I hope that there will a process of coming to terms with the phone hacking scandal; a further investigation into who was responsible for what and what lead to such a decline that the most important principles of reporting were neglected.

Continue to read Raf Sanchez, www.telegraph.co.uk

July 10 2011

14:54

Ex-Murdoch editor Andrew Neil: everybody knew the NOTW newsroom was out of control

Guardian :: Andrew Neil, one of Rupert Murdoch's former leading editors, who edited the Sunday Times, said the News of the World, or NOTW, did not have a public interest defence for its practices, exposed by the Guardian, one of the most significant media stories of modern times. It suggests that rather than being a one off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun.

[Andrew Neil:] Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control … Everyone who knows the News of the World, everybody knows this was going on. But it did no good to talk about it. One News of the World journalist said to me … it was dangerous to talk about it.

Continue to read Vikram Dodd, www.guardian.co.uk

July 08 2011

09:31

Has News International really registered TheSunOnSunday.com?

A number of news outlets – including the BBC, Guardian and Channel 4 News – mentioned yesterday in their coverage of the closure of the News Of The World that TheSunOnSunday.com had been registered just two days ago. (It was also mentioned by Hugh Grant on last night’s Question Time.)

It’s a convenient piece of information for a conspiracy theory – but a little bit of digging suggests it’s unlikely to have been registered by News International as part of some grand plan.

When I tweeted the claim yesterday two people immediately pointed out key bits of contextual information from the WHOIS records:

Firstly, it is unlikely that News International would use 123-reg to register a domain name. @bigdaddymerk noted, News International ”use http://bit.ly/cWSHia for their .coms and have their own IPS tag for .co.uk”

Murray Dick added that it would “be odd for big corporation to withhold info on whois record”

And – not that this is a big issue given recent events – according to @bigdaddymerk “in the case of the .co.uk registering as a UK individual would be whois abuse.”

You might argue that the above might be explained by News International covering their tracks, but if were covering their tracks it’s unlikely they’d do it like this.

Anyway, digging further into the timeline of the ‘Sunday Sun’ casts further doubt on any conspiracy connected to News Of The World.

For example, it was reported over a week ago that The Sun was moving to 7-day production (thanks to Roo Reynolds, again on Twitter).

Between that announcement and the registration of TheSunOnSunday.com, anyone with a habit of domain squatting could have grabbed the domain in the hope that it would become valuable in the future.

Either way, even if it has been registered by someone at News International, the timings just don’t add up to a News Of The World-related conspiracy.

So, as I wrote yesterday, a ‘Sunday Sun’ is not a rebranding of News Of The World. They have just closed the world’s biggest selling English language newspaper – its most profitable tabloid – and made 200 people redundant.

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July 07 2011

16:38

The death of the News Of The World

What an incredible few days. The PCC’s statement yesterday was extraordinary – even if it turns out to be merely a cosmetic exercise. Today’s announcement that the News of the World will end as a brand is, as its mooted replacement would say, a “stunner”.

It took almost exactly 3 days – 72 hours – to kill off a 168-year-old brand. Yes, there were other allegations and two years in the lead up to The Guardian’s revelation that Milly Dowler was targeted by the newspaper. But Milly Dowler and the various other ordinary people who happened to be caught up in newsworthy events (kidnappings, victims of terrorist attacks, families of dead soldiers), were what turned the whole affair.

That story was published at 16.29 on Monday. Incredible.

We talk a lot about the disintermediation of the press – the fact that companies, governments and celebrities can communicate directly with the public. The targeting of the News Of The World’s advertisers, and the rapid mobilisation of thousands of signatures supporting an inquiry, demonstrated that that disintermediation works the other way too. Where once the media could have acted as a dampener on how public protest appeared to advertisers and Parliament, their powers to do so now are more limited.

So while The Sun may be moving to 7-day production, that doesn’t make this a rebranding or a relaunch. As of Monday, The News of the World brand is dead, 168 years of journalistic history (not to mention 200 jobs) offered up as a sacrifice.

Whether that sacrifice is accepted, and to what extent, is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the significance of this shouldn’t be underestimated.

This post originally appeared on the blog Facebook page

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September 17 2010

14:07

August 26 2010

10:27

Football365 pens open letter criticising the Sun for Capello coverage

Football news and forum site Football365 has posted an open letter to the Sun, criticising the paper’s back page lead yesterday on England manager Fabio Capello.

Our fear is that this campaign is being waged not because the tabloid press truly believe that Capello is in the wrong (…) but largely out of spite because they didn’t get their way after the summer and he stayed on.

The site is of course part of the 365 Media Group, which is owned by BSkyB, part of the Murdoch empire that also includes the Sun.Similar Posts:



December 15 2009

16:57

Google will give Murdoch what he wants if he renames the Sun as the Wapping News Journal

Has anyone pointed out the workings of Google Scholar to Rupert Murdoch? He’s going to have a fit when he finds out (first published here) …

Imagine if Google offered a deal like this to news publishers (as you’ll have guessed, this is exactly how Google Scholar works):

  • Where content is behind a paywall, Google will index it all and include it in its web results even if searchers who click through to the page are then told they can’t read the story without subscribing.
  • Google will work out which is the authoritative source of a story and show that – so newspapers breaking exclusives get priority over bloggers etc.
  • Google won’t differentiate these results in any way – searchers will think they’re going to see the content they can see in the Google results, but actually they’ll hit a paywall.

As I say, that’s exactly how Google Scholar works – but it’s not a deal that Google’s offering to newspapers.

How Google Scholar works

Here’s an example of the Google Scholar scheme in action. I did a search for “innocent purchasers” (don’t ask) and saw this result – notice the snippet of text showing some relevant content:

Google result

Google result

However, when I clicked through to the page, all I saw was this:

This is al you see

This is all you see

Surprisingly, the text from the snippet is nowhere to be seen (it’s not in the meta data either). All that’s shown in the issue details.

Google says that sites in Google Scholar must abide by this rule:

Google users must be offered at least a complete abstract. This is a crucial component of our indexing program. For papers with access restrictions, a full author-written abstract will help users choose among the results which paper is the most likely to have the information they are looking for.

But it seems you can get away with a few lines about which issue it was in.

How this differs from the normal search results

This sort of arrangement isn’t on offer to news organisations.

In Google news

News sites with a paywall can appear in Google News. They can either take part in first click free (explained here) in which case they must offer full access to the story for searchers coming via Google News (ie they must allow them through the paywall). As Google puts it:

To implement First Click Free, you need to allow all users who find a document on your site via Google search to see the full text of that document, even if they have not registered or subscribed to see that content. The user’s first click to your content area is free. However, once that user clicks a link on the original page, you can require them to sign in or register to read further.

Alternatively, they can appear in the results without offering the content, in which case the result shows a subscription tag, and when you click throu you’re told to subscribe.

Google web results

With its standard Google web search, first click free is still available to site publishers. They can have paywalls but, if they want Google to index their content, they must allow searchers who click through from Google to see it.

The second option described above is NOT available for Google’s normal web search.

Google’s very clear that, for its main web search, you cannot show search engines one thing and users another – so you can’t let Google index the pages but not let users see the content when the click through:

Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

So what’s the difference?

The difference is this. In its normal web results, as opposed to its news results, Google will only index paywalled content if you abide by the first click free rules – so you must let users see the content if they come via Google.

With Google Scholar, the rules are different:

If your works are already online, we may need nothing more than your permission for our crawlers to visit your site. As noted above, an abstract (at least) of each work must be available to non-subscribers who come from Google and Google Scholar.

If you’re in the Google Scholar program, it will still index the content even if you don’t let searchers see it. And this content appears in the normal web results, not just the specialised Google Scholar search.

On top of all this, Google tries to work out the primary version of a work for content in Google Scholar:

When multiple versions of a work are indexed, we select the full and authoritative text from the publisher as the primary version.

How this would help Rupert Murdoch

So if Murdoch wants to put the Sunday Times or the Sun behind a paywall but still wanted Google to index his content for the main web index (as opposed to just Google News), he would have to join first-click free.

If he decides the Sun is really the Wapping News Journal and joins Google Scholar, then the rules would be different. He could have his content indexed without having to let anyone see it unless they paid a subscription. On top of which, Google would give his content priority if was the original source of a story.

November 13 2009

12:41
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