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July 07 2011

21:20

The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Times, News of the World - Inside the UK's tabloid culture

Reuters :: Benjamin Pell made a second career out of digging through the contents of people's rubbish bags and selling it to the British press. The office cleaner, or 'Benji the Binman' as he was known to his clients on Fleet Street, regularly passed journalists the discarded papers of lawyers, celebrities and business executives. Benji's low-tech operations in the late 1990s fed stories on a high-profile libel case and even Elton John's flower bill.

British tabloids have a long and colorful history of finding new ways to get the story.

An overview - continue to read Kate Holton | Mark Hosenball, www.reuters.com

06:18

UK - What (Rupert Murdoch's) papers won’t say

The Spectator :: News International, owner of the Times, the Sunday Times, the News of the World and the Sun, owns approximately one third of the domestic newspaper market. And last week, Jeremy Hunt ruled that Murdoch, who owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, can now buy it outright (save for Sky’s news channel). This consolidates Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born mogul as by far the most significant media magnate in this country, wielding vast political and commercial power.

How does current market share influence news coverage (think of the recent phone-hacking scandal)?

 Watch the chart - continue to read Peter Oborne, www.spectator.co.uk

August 17 2010

09:04

Media Week: Times website loses 1.2m readers

Media Week reports on figures from ComScore, which suggest that unique users of the the Times and Sunday Times websites have fallen from 2.79 million in May to 1.61 million in July.

The new websites were launched on 25 May with compulsory registration introduced in June and the paywall for both sites going up on 2 July. According to the report, page views for the sites dropped from 29 million in May to 9 million in July.

Prior to the launch of the new websites, News International withdrew from the monthly Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) reports for newspaper website traffic.

Full story on Media Week at this link…Similar Posts:



July 02 2010

08:31

The Times and Sunday Times: What a paywall looks like

And it’s up – the long awaited News International paywall for the new Times and Sunday Times websites has gone up today. This is the screen you get when you try to go beyond the sites’ homepages – thetimes.co.uk and sundaytimes.co.uk. It’s interesting to see what’s not included in the £1 day pass option: email bulletins, mobile access and daily puzzles.

What the web and world is saying about it:

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June 02 2010

15:19

WHAT IF RUPERT MURDOCH IS RIGHT?

murdoch

The Times and The Sunday Times are ready to charge for access to their online editions.

A bold move.

Typical of Rupert Murdoch.

Like the typical trashing that he gets in the last few years regarding his fight against the “free for all”

Well, very soon we will know.

And… what if Rupert Murdoch is right?

I will suspend my judgement.

He loves newspapers and is taking big risks.

So I will not be surprise if, again, he right.

April 02 2010

14:00

This Week in Review: The iPad’s skeptics, Murdoch’s first paywall move and a ‘Chatroulette for news’

[Every Friday, Mark Coddington sums up the week’s top stories about the future of news and the debates that grew up around them. —Josh]

The iPad’s fanboys and skeptics: For tech geeks and future-of-journalism types everywhere, the biggest event of the week will undoubtedly come tomorrow, when Apple’s iPad goes on sale. The early reviews (Poynter’s Damon Kiesow has a compilation) have been mostly positive, but many of the folks opining on the iPad’s potential impact on journalism have been quite a bit less enthusiastic. A quick rundown:

— Scott Rosenberg, who’s studied the history of blogging and programming, says the news media’s excitement over the iPad reminds him of the CD-ROM craze of the early 1990s, particularly in its misguided expectation for a new, ill-defined technology to lead us into the future. The lesson we learned then and need to be reminded of now, Rosenberg says, is that “people like to interact with one another more than they like to engage with static information.”

— Business Insider’s Henry Blodget argues that the iPad won’t save media companies because they’re relying on the flawed premise that people want to consume content in a “tightly bound content package produced by a single publisher,” just like they did in print.

— Tech exec Barry Graubart says that while the iPad will be a boon to entertainment companies, it won’t provide the revenue boost news orgs expect it to, largely for two reasons: Its ads can’t draw the number of eyeballs that the standard web can, and many potential news app subscribers will be able to find suitable alternatives for free.

— GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram is not impressed with the iPad apps that news outlets have revealed so far, describing them as boring and unimaginative.

— Poynter’s Damon Kiesow gives us a quick summary of why some publishers thought the iPad might be a savior in the first place. (He doesn’t come down firmly on either side.)

Two other thoughtful pieces worth highlighting: Ken Doctor, a keen observer of the world of online news, asks nine questions about the iPad, and offers a lot of insight in the process. And Poynter’s Steve Myers challenges journalists to go beyond creating “good-enough” journalism for the iPad and produce creative, immersive content that takes full advantage of the device’s strengths.

Murdoch’s paid-content move begins: Rupert Murdoch has been talking for several months about his plans to put up paywalls around all of his news sites, and this week the first of those plans was unveiled. The Times and Sunday Times of London announced that they will begin charging for its site in June — £1 per day or £2 per week. This would be stricter than the metered model that The New York Times has proposed and the Financial Times employs: There are no free articles or limits, just 100% paid content.

The Times and Sunday Times both accompanied the announcement with their own editorials giving a rationale for their decision. The Sunday Times is far more straightforward: “At The Sunday Times we put an enormous amount of money and effort into producing the best journalism we possibly can. If we keep giving it away we will no longer be able to do that.” Some corners of journalism praised the Times’ decision and echoed its reasoning: BBC vet John Humphrys, Texas newspaperman John P. Garrett (though he didn’t mention the Times by name in a post decrying unthinking “have it your way” journalism), and British PR columnist Ian Monk.

The move also drew criticism, most prominently from web journalism guru Jeff Jarvis, who called the paywall “pathetic.” (If you want your paywall-bashing in video form, Sky News has one of Jarvis, too.) Over at True/Slant, Canadian writer Colin Horgan had some intriguing thoughts about why this move could be important: The fact that the Internet is so all-encompassing as a medium has led us to blur together vastly different types on it, Horgan argues. “What Murdoch is trying to do (perhaps unintentionally) is destroy that mental disconnect, and ask us to pay for media within a medium.”

Two other paid-content tidbits worth noting: Christian Science Monitor editor John Yemma told paidContent that news organizations’ future online will come not from “digital razzle dazzle,” but from relevant, meaningful content. And Damon Kiesow plotted paid content on a supply-and-demand curve, concluding that, not surprisingly, we have an oversupply of information.

Chatroulette, serendipity and the news: The random video chat site Chatroulette has drawn gobs of attention from media outlets, so it was probably only a matter of time before some of them applied the concept to online news. Daniel Vydra, a software developer at The Guardian, was among the first this week when he created Random Guardian and New York Times Roulette, two simple programs that take readers to random articles from those newspapers’ websites. Consultant Chris Thorpe explained the thinking behind their development — a Clay Shirky-inspired desire to recapture online the serendipity that a newspaper’s bundle provides.

GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram wrote about the project approvingly, saying he expects creative, open API projects like this to be more successful in the long run than Rupert Murdoch’s paywalls. Also, Publish2’s Ryan Sholin noted that just because everyone’s excited about the moniker “Chatroulette for news” doesn’t mean this concept hasn’t been around for quite a while.

Meanwhile, the idea sparked deeper thoughts from two CUNY j-profs about the concept of serendipity and the news. Here at the Lab, C.W. Anderson argued that true serendipity involves coming across perspectives you don’t agree with, and asked how one might create a true “news serendipity maker” that could take into account your news consumption patterns, then throw you some curveballs. And in a short but smart post, Jeff Jarvis said that serendipity is not mere randomness, but unexpected relevance — “the unknown but now fed curiosity.”

How much slack can nonprofits take up?: Alan Mutter, an expert in the dollars-and-cents world of the news business both traditionally and online, raised a pretty big stink this week with a post decrying the idea that nonprofits can carry the bulk of the load of journalism. The numbers at the core of Mutter’s argument are simple: Newspapers are spending an estimated $4.4 billion annually on newsgathering, and it would take an $88 billion endowment to provide that much money each year. That would be more than a quarter of the $307.7 billion contributed to charity in 2008 — a ridiculously tall order.

Mutter drew a lot of fire in his comment section for attacking a straw man with that argument, as he didn’t cite any specific people who are claiming that nonprofits will, in fact, take over the majority of journalism’s funding. As many of those folks wrote, the nonprofit advocates have always claimed that they’ll be a part of network that makes up journalism’s future, not the network itself. (One of them, Northeastern prof Ben Compaine, had made that exact argument just a few days earlier, and Steve Outing made a similar one in response to Mutter’s post.)

John Thornton, a co-founder of the nonprofit Texas Tribune, wrote the must-read point-by-point response, taking issue with the basis of Mutter’s math and his assumption that market-driven solutions are “inherently superior” to non-market ones. Besides, he argued, serious journalism hasn’t exactly been doing business like gangbusters lately, either: “Expecting investors to continue to fund for-profit, Capital J journalism just ‘cuz:  doesn’t that sound a lot like charity?” Reuters financial blogger Felix Salmon weighed in with similar numbers-based objections, as did David Cay Johnston.

Reading roundup: One mini-debate, and four nifty resources:

Former tech/biz journalist Chris Lynch fired a shot at j-schools in a post arguing that the shrunken (but elite) audiences resulting from widespread news paywalls would cause “most journalism schools to shrink or disappear.” Journalism schools, he said, are teaching an outdated objectivity-based philosophy that doesn’t hold water in the Internet era, when credibility is defined much differently. Gawker’s Ravi Somaiya chimed in with an anti-j-school rant, and North Carolina j-school dean Jean Folkerts and About.com’s Tony Rogers (a community college j-prof) leaped to j-schools’ defense.

Now the four resources:

— Mathew Ingram of GigaOm has a quick but pretty comprehensive explanation of the conundrum newspapers are in and some of the possible ways out. Couldn’t have summed it better myself.

— PBS MediaShift’s Jessica Clark outlines some very cool efforts to map out local news ecosystems. This will be something to keep an eye out for, especially in areas with blossoming hyperlocal news scenes, like Seattle.

— Consider this an addendum to last month’s South by Southwest festival: Ball State professor Brad King has posted more than a dozen short video interviews he conducted there, asking people from all corners of media what the most interesting thing they’re seeing is.

— British j-prof Paul Bradshaw briefly gives three principles for reporters in a networked era. Looks like a pretty good journalists’ mission statement to me.

March 26 2010

17:01

Questions for Times editor James Harding on paywalling content

The Times hosted a live Q&A this afternoon with editor James Harding about its new plans for paid content, details of which were announced today. While there were a few interesting comments in there (he’ll “hide under the desk” if it all goes wrong, he says) it felt like a lot of questions went unanswered and unpublished. For example, as Adam Tinworth pointed out on Twitter, no questions about linking were addressed.

I’ll do as @times_live recommends and email them in, but in the meantime, here are a few of my own, and some from our Twitter followers too.

Mine:

I once heard that pre-moderation of comments posted on Times Online costs a six figure sum (I wasn’t able to clarify over what time period). With a paywalled site, do you hope to reduce this cost? How will the staffing of your website change with the paywall?

What kind of market research did you do to establish the price point? What different kinds of models did you consider?

How different will the new sites be? Do you think people would have paid for the existing content on Times Online?

Can you share any details of the additional digital devices that will be included in the package?

Then because none of my questions were getting answered, I threw this in:

How much involvement did NI CEO Rupert Murdoch have with paywall plans? Last week his biographer Michael Wolff suggested that up until last year he hadn’t been on the internet ‘unaccompanied’; do you think execs are best placed to judge the willingness of people to pay?

And here are a few I thought of afterwards:

You joked that you’ll hide under the desk if it all goes wrong, but what’s the real risk? If you reverted to a free model later, do you think it would be easy to regain all the lost unique users? Or will they be lost forever?

Journalists are often recognised and given opportunities and leads because of their Google ranking. How have your journalists reacted? Are they worried about their professional profile lowering, with restricted access to their content? Will you stop journalists posting their own articles on their own blogs?

And from Twitter:

@substuff asks: “I wanted to ask what The Times would do to attract promiscuous browsers such as me – as I’d probably only subscribe to one site.”

@neilblake73 asks: “Why would anyone pay for news when you can get it 24hrs via the BBC, CNN, Sky, radio and online etc? What on earth would be so good we’d pay?

“Also, with Evening Standard, and Metro free (& possibly the Indy in future?), why are roles reversing, ie. free papers / paid for web?”

@HooklineBooks asks: “What if they [the Times] charge and no-one visits? Is there a plan B?”

@gregorhunter: “What’s stopping the rest of the blogosphere from mirroring TimesOnline’s articles and continuing as usual?”

@gpcrc: “Will this change how journalists interact with PRs (if all consumers will be building relationships with online journalists)?”

@sarah_booker: “Will the Times link through social bookmarks and RSS functions outside the paywall?

“Will Times journalists be able to tweet?”

@JunkkMale: “If paywall is to ‘preserve quality reporting’, may we be assured that future coverage will be factually accurate, indeed more so than now?”

If you’ve got others, please tweet them in, or leave in the comments below. I’ll email James Harding the link to this post now.

Also, for background, here’s the News International press release in full:

News International today announces that The Times and The Sunday Times will start charging for access to their digital journalism in June using a pricing model that is simple and affordable.

Both titles will launch new websites in early May, separating their digital presence for the first time and replacing the existing, combined site, Times Online. The two new sites will be available for a free trial period to registered customers.

From June, the new sites, www.thetimes.co.uk and www.thesundaytimes.co.uk, will be available for a charge of £1 for a day’s access or £2 for a week’s subscription. Payment will give customers access to both sites. The weekly subscription will also give access to the e- paper and certain new applications.

Access to the digital services will be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to The Times and The Sunday Times.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive, News International, said: “These new sites, and the apps that will enhance the experience, reflect the identity of our titles and deliver a terrific experience for readers. We expect to attract a growing base of loyal customers that are committed and engaged with our titles.

We are building on the excellence of our newspapers and offering digital access to our journalism at a price that everyone can afford.

“At a defining moment for journalism, this is a crucial step towards making the business of news an economically exciting proposition. We are proud of our journalism and unashamed to say that we believe it has value.

“This is just the start. The Times and The Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach. We will continue to develop our digital products and to invest and innovate for our customers.”

John Witherow, editor of The Sunday Times, said: “The launch of a dedicated Sunday Times website is a hugely significant moment for the paper.

It will enable us to showcase our strengths in areas such as news, sport, business, style, travel and culture and display the breadth of Britain’s biggest-selling quality newspaper.

“For the first time, readers will have access to all their favourite sections and writers. We will be introducing new digital features to enhance our coverage and encourage interactivity. Every day, readers will be able to talk to our writers and experts and view stunning photographs and graphics. Subscribers will be able to get this brand new site, plus the enhanced Times site, seven days of the week, all for the price of a cup of coffee.”

James Harding, editor of The Times, said: “The Times was founded to take advantage of new technology. Now, we are leading the way again. Our new website – with a strong, clean design – will have all the values of the printed paper and all the versatility of digital media. We want people to do more than just read it – to be part of it.

“We continue to invest in frontline journalism. We have more foreign correspondents than our rivals and continue to put reporters on new beats – last year we added an Ocean Correspondent and we just became the only British paper to have a Pentagon Correspondent. And we want to match that with investment in innovation.

“TheTimes.co.uk will make the most of moving images, dynamic infographics, interactive comment and personalised news feeds. The coming editions of The Times on phones, e- readers, tablets and mobile devices will tell the most important and interesting stories in the newest ways. Our aim is to keep delivering The Times, but better.”

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March 22 2010

10:16

Checking your facts – to every last detail

Via the Fleet Street Blues blog, comes a story of intimate fact checking at the Sunday Times.

Showing that editors take their ‘There’s a part of you for every part of the Sunday Times’ motto seriously, journalist Camilla Long rang UKIP’s press officer to find out which of MEP Nigel Farage’s testicles had been removed, for yesterday’s profile feature.

The story not only reveals some meticulous journalism practice, but a disputed version of events.

Compare the two different accounts:

UKIP’s press officer, Gawain Towler:

“Look Gawain”, she said, “I am really sorry to ask you this but the editors have told me to”, “What’s that?” I said, “They want me to ask which one of his balls was removed after his cancer”.

You want odious? I would suggest even asking that question is pretty bloody impertinent and cheap, and I told her so, but she persisted. So I agreed to ask, but told her not to expect a particularly forthcoming answer. When I asked Farage, he was, unusually for him somewhat put out, but after saying that he though it a cheap shot he then he recovered his normal poise, “Tell her if she is so bloody interested that she can come over and check herself”. So I called her back and told her, both that he felt is tawdry, but if she must then that is his coment [sic].

and Long’s version:

[I] call his press officer to confirm which testicle he had removed. Farage has just given his party conference speech and is in high spirits. “Tell her to come and find out, ha-ha-ha!” he shouts over the din.

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March 10 2010

12:58

February 05 2010

10:13

Press Complaints Commission to join Twitter; wants to explore social network debate

While the Press Complaints Commission has had limited contact with social networks directly, it’s an area the industry self-regulatory body wants to look at in further depth, the new director of the PCC Stephen Abell has said.

The PCC is soon to join Twitter (we’ll let you know when it announces the handle), and will be taking part in an event about the media’s use of social networks organised by the think-tank Polis (more details when announced) Abell told Journalism.co.uk, in his first media interview since taking over the role from Tim Toulmin.

“Newspapers use it [social networking] a lot and it’s a legitimate resource, but it’s certainly not a free for all.”

It’s for the PCC to offer guidance and explore the area, he said. But where does the PCC fit into this exactly? Is the self-regulatory body there to explain the dangers of social networks to the general public? “I think the PCC’s role is for people to understand their right in regards to what the media might do,” he said.

How far should newspapers go with their use of social networks? As Abell was keen to point out, the PCC recently upheld a complaint against the Sunday Times for one of its journalist’s “intrusive” use of Facebook. Users can control what is private and public with different settings, he says, but added that maybe people don’t know enough about “marshalling” their accounts.

But how about if a journalist ‘befriended’ a subject to gain access to private information, and a complaint was later made by that user? It would “raise an issue about a journalist of how honest they have been,” he said. “I think that would depend on the individual case.”

“There’s a function for us there – certainly to train journalists,” he said. “We go into a newspaper and say these are the last decisions we made [on social networking].”

Abell claimed that the presence of 10 lay members on the commission – “with a broad range of experience” – helped the Commission keep up to date with social media trends: “they can reflect changes in cultural expectations”.

With the PCC’s move into this area, it will be interesting to see whether newspapers will face sanctions for the way they use social network information: could they be penalised for presenting information out of context?

A blogger in Ireland, for example, has been in contact with the Irish Ombudsman over an article in the Irish Mail on Sunday which lifted material from her blog. The Mail has defended its actions in a lengthy statement, but bloggers and commenters remain angry about the way the blogger was portrayed in the article. How would the PCC act in a situation like this? Abell agrees that context is a key issue, and complaints over social network use could be made on the grounds of both privacy and accuracy.

“Indeed the internet is itself a very self-regulatory body”
Although the PCC seems to be increasingly engaging with online content, comments by its chair, Baroness Buscombe, to the Independent newspaper, taken to mean that bloggers might come under within the PCC’s remit, did not go down well with many high profile bloggers.

“Frankly, we do not feel that the further development of blogging as an interactive medium that facilitates the free exchange of ideas and opinions will benefit from regulation by a body representing an industry with, in the main, substantially lower ethical standards and practices than those already practiced by the vast majority of established British bloggers,” wrote Liberal Conspiracy and Guardian.co.uk blogger Sunny Hundel at the time.

On this subject, Abell claims that Buscombe’s comments were misinterpreted (as she did herself): “I think the point Peta was really making with bloggers, is that she was talking in the context of a speech she was making, talking of the dangers, or the impracticability of top-down regulation – in a world where everyone is a publisher.

“There’s an argument that any form of the internet is going to be about self-regulation – people voluntarily adhering to a set of standards. That might not be anything to do with the PCC at all, but self-regulation fits the internet very well.

“And indeed the internet is itself a very self-regulatory body and blogs tend to work by someone making a proposition and someone challenging it via comments: that can correct any misapprehensions in the beginning and create a dialogue.

“The way it works with newspapers is a useful model I think. Newspapers are voluntarily buying into the PCC (…) a set of standards they are voluntarily adhering to.”

It seems that the point that Abell is making is that both bloggers and newspapers self-regulate, and don’t need statutory control; bloggers could have their own code, even. But bloggers under the PCC? He won’t even go there:

“I think the point about blogging and regulation … it’s far too early … I’m not even saying it [independent blogging] should be connected to the PCC.”

Stephen Abell discusses phone hacking, superinjunctions and forthcoming reports with Journalism.co.uk here

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09:11

Telegraph.co.uk: ‘The last gentleman printer of Fleet Street’

A pick that’s not at all related to online media, but a reminder of how things were. This is the Telegraph’s obituary to George Darker, head printer of the Sunday Times for 22 years. He has died aged 98.

With a full head of white hair and invariably dressed in an immaculate white shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, he stood out from the rest of his inky profession like a beacon. From June onwards, he was never seen without one of his prize roses in his buttonhole. His gentlemanliness and inexplicable air of serenity set him apart at a time when the composing rooms of most national newspapers pulsated with industrial strife as well as the natural tension of meeting deadlines.

Full story at this link…

(via Gentlemen Ranters)

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January 25 2010

09:51

Sunday Times: BBC considering sale of magazine division

While rumours circulate about the future of the Sunday Times, the newspaper reports on another potential sale – the magazine division of the BBC:

Radio Times and Gardeners’ World magazine could soon have new owners. The BBC is considering the sale of its magazine division, which produces 50 titles, after being ordered to curb its money-making activities.

In response, the BBC said that “no decisions have been taken about any of our businesses”.

Full story at this link…

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09:41

Re-tweet rumours: Is the Times and Sunday Times up for sale?

It looks like everyone has about as much as we do on this one – from Michael Wolff’s tweets alone. On Saturday the Vanity Fair columnist and Murdoch biographer suggested, via Twitter,  that News Corp could be looking to sell the Times and the Sunday Times: “Rumor in London banking circles: Times and Sunday Times up for sale.”

Before long, @michaelwolffnyc’s short message was on the re-tweet circuit:

But if Wolff knows more detail, he’s keeping it to himself for now. Meanwhile he’s asking other journalists if they know more…

@johngapper [Financial Times columnist] Working it right now. Being characterized as “strong rumor among private equity” that Times and Sunday Times could be on block.

@janinegibson [Guardian.co.uk editor] Funny how that happens. Have you heard anything – beyond tweets?

Michael Wolff on Twitter…

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