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January 27 2011

11:16

The disruptors arrive at Davos

Last year at Davos, I said I was among the disrupted when I preferred to be among the disruptors.

The disruptor arrived last night. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former spokesman for Wikileaks and founder of the competitive OpenSecrets, came to a dinner about transparency at which I was a panelist, alongside the Guardian’s Timothy Garton-Ash, Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth, and Harvard’s David Kennedy, led by the NY Times’ Arthur Sulzberger.

Sad irony: the session on transparency was off-the-record. I asked for it to be open; Sulzberger asked in turn; no go. Fill in your punchline here.

But Dan Perry of the AP was there and interviewed the hyphenates, Domscheit-Berg and Garton-Ash, on the record. Under Chatham House Rule, we can summarize the talk without attributing it.

In truth, there was little disagreement — until we switched from transparent government to transparent business.

About government, the speakers put forward the expected enthusiasm about forcing more transparency upon government with the expected hesitation about potential harm resulting from incomplete redaction and about making government more secret rather than less. No surprises. One person in the room — a journalist I’ve heard here before who inevitably supports power structures — actually opposed transparent government (preferring mere accountability … though how one gets to the latter without the former, I have no idea).

About business, we did disagree. The question was posed: is secrecy a competitive advantage? Most of the panelists and the room said it was. I disagreed as did one other person you might expect to disagree. I argued that transparency is not about just malfeasance but also about a new and necessary way to operate in collaboration with one’s customers and public. Old, institutional companies will miss another boat as new, transparent companies take advantage of the age of openness to do business in a new way.

What I see is that when corporations are subjected to leaks, the reaction will be different. They’ll have more defenders from the power structure. They’ll too rarely see the opportunity in operating as open companies. But it won’t stop the leaks and the march of transparency.

Tomorrow, I’m going to an awards ceremony held by PublicEye.CH, naming the worst corporation in the world (you can still vote) and there, Domscheit-Berg will present OpenSecrets. This is the counterweight to the congregation of the Davos Man.

* Note also that one of my entrepreneurial journalism students at CUNY, Matt Terenzio, just launched Localeaks, which will enable any newspaper in the U.S. to receive leaks from whistleblowers. Very cool. More about it here.

07:42

Davos: Too little content

The one interesting thing I’ve heard so far at Davos this year is that the world doesn’t have too much content. It has too little. So says Philip Parker of INSAED, who is doing fascinating work with automatic creation of content. He’s not doing it for evil purposes: content farms and spam. He is doing it to fill in knowledge that is missing in the world, especially in smaller cultures and languages.

Parker’s system has written tens of thousands of books and is even creating fully automated radio shows in many languages, some of which have never been used for weather reports (they don’t have words for “degree” or “celsius”). He used his software to create a directory of tropical plants that didn’t exist. And he has radio beaming out to farmers in poor third-world nations.

I’m fascinated by what Parker’s project says about our attitudes toward content: that we in the West think there’s too much of it (we’re overloaded); that content is that which content creators create; that content has to be owned; that it has to be inefficient and expensive to be good and useful.

In the U.S., there already is a company that automates the writing of sports stories (another straight line). Thomson Reuters has been automatically spitting out formatted financial stories since 2006. So this is nothing new, except that Parker is putting the notion to new use.

I’m intrigued by the potential uses of Parker’s content extruder. For example, I am on the board of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, and I imagine this technology could be used to deliver content, especially more current content — aurally — to its clients, whom I say don’t have learning disabilities but who learn differently.

Now tie that notion to the third world and we can even come to define literacy differently. If we can inform and educate people in their own languages through listening — rather than insisting on reading text — then haven’t we expanded the world of the literate greatly? Don’t we have better-informed nations and economies?

Academics from the University of Southern Denmark say that we are passing through the other side of the Gutenberg Parenthesis, returning to oral exchange and distribution of knowledge. Parker can serve that shift with his audio content.

He also helps us expand the reach and use of content, for his technology can gather bits of information from here and there that fit together and put them in a new form that is newly usable. It’s the Wikipedia worldview. Indeed, I suggested to Parker that he could help Wikipedia meet one of its key strategic goals — creating deeper content in more languages — through the automated generation of the first draft of articles, paving the way for editors.

Parker looks for content that is formulaic. That’s what his technology can replace. He studied TV news and found that 70% of its content is formulaic. No surprise. Most of it could be replaced with a machine.

That’s not just my joke and insult. The more efficient we make the creation of content, the less we will waste on repetitive tasks with commodified results, and the more we can concentrate our valuable and scarce resources on necessity and quality. Certain people will likely screech that such thinking and technology further deprofessionalizes the alleged art of creating content. So be it.

October 08 2010

16:35
16:15

#WEFHamburg: Successes and failures of hyperlocal close World Editors Forum

An open and up-front session to close the 2010 World Editors Forum, with publishers discussing their hyperlocal web projects: the successes, the failures and the lessons.

And that’s just how Bart Brouwers, managing editor for hyperlocal online at Telegraaf Media Group, likes it. Browers, who is responsible for de Telegraaf’s four hyperlocal pilot sites in the Netherlands, urged editors and journalists to be open about their work, to discuss what they’re doing with their projects and ask for feedback without fear of sharing ideas with “competitors”: “The more I tell, the more I get back.”

De Telegraaf is trialling a range of sites: two aggregation websites, one a mix of editorial and commerical content and another community news site. The newspaper group isn’t just approaching hyperlocal as a something that fits into one definition and format: “What’s hyperlocal to me, might not be hyperlocal to my neighbour.”

Brouwers gave some practical advice for publishers planning to launch community sites and his full slides can be seen below. Perhaps most important, he said, is keeping things personal. If you want to reach a specific local audience, you need to be hyperpersonal and hypersocial too.

On the other side of the coin was fellow Brouwers’ fellow speaker Roman Gallo – five days out of his role as CEO of PPF Media, which launched the Nase Adresa hyperlocal project last year. Nase Adresa, after an initial pilot, had been given the green light for a combination 1,000 websites, 89 news cafes and 150 weekly newspapers.

But in August it was announced that Nase Adresa would shut, despite its promise. Gallo was given the order to close everything to do with project in four days. (More on this from Journalism.co.uk soon).

Gallo could however share some of the learnings from the short-lived, but seemingly successful hyperlocal venture:

  • the goal of creating a team involving editorial, sales and a cafe with “no walls between them” was a must, but Gallo said the difficulty of getting people to straddle these roles was underestimated;
  • training was crucial: older, experienced journalists were used, but they had multimedia skills and understood why the project was necessary and good;
  • coffee shops were a key element to the success of this project, adding financial support and a great marketing tool;
  • for newsroom cafes you have to make a decision is it a newsroom with a cafe or a cafe with a newsroom?
  • realise that having a physical space, the cafe, can give advertisers a unique offering and a physical presence.

More from Journalism.co.uk:

RSS feed for all Journalism.co.uk WEF coverage

WEF coverage on Journalism.co.uk

WEF coverage on Journalism.co.uk Editor’s BlogSimilar Posts:



12:12

#WEFHamburg: WaPo mulling its own paywall plus all the news from the World Editors Forum

Yesterday at the World Editors Forum in Hamburg, Raju Narisetti, managing editor of the Washington Post, told Journalism.co.uk that the Post was not ruling out its own paid-content model.

The quality of the content we produce needs to be well funded, and one of the ways could be to make users pay for it, not all of it. I am not a big believer of putting everything behind a paywall. I am a big believer in saying we should monetise.

More power to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in figuring out and if they do we would be happy to look at that. We may find our own way.

You can read the full interview with Narisetti at this link and below are all the stories from the WEF meeting on Journalism.co.uk:



For a digested round-up of the conference subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes.Similar Posts:



October 06 2010

21:22

THE FIRST NEWSSLATE PROTOTYPE

Tomorrow at the World Editors Forum (WEF) in Hamburg, INNOVATION will present the first prototype of the NewSSlate, developed by INNOVATION+BERMER Labs.

More details, tomorrow after the presentation, in this blog.

10:53

#wefhamburg: Follow the World Editors Forum live

The World Editors Forum kicks off today. You can follow discussions on how newspapers are developing new editorial products, experimenting with new business models and what that means for the journalism they produce and the journalists they employ. The full line-up is available at this link.

Watch the livestream below courtesy of the European Journalism Centre (EJC) or follow the Twitter discussion with the hashtag #wefhamburg. Journalism.co.uk will also be tweeting from @journalism_live and our coverage can be found on the blog and main news site under the tag #wefhamburg.

Watch live streaming video from ejcnet at livestream.com


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March 25 2010

22:06

A PREVIEW OF THE OXFORD TABLET SUMMIT

Oxford-Arms-1.JPG

Next Monday 29 March 2010, 14h00 (London Time) Juan Senor, our partner and INNOVATION’s UK director, will conduct one of the first Webinars organized by the World Editors Forum (WEF).

If you are planing to attend the INMA/INNOVATION Oxford Tablet Summit (May 17-18), this Webinar could interest you as Juan Senor will present a preview of the main issues to be included and discussed in detail in the Oxford program.

What should newspapers offer on the iPad and tablets – how to build the right tablet application for your newspaper

To register in the Oxford Summit click here.

To register in the Webinar click here.

February 05 2010

13:40

The Flip dance

At the Google party at Davos, I was enticed into doing the Flip dance with none less than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who as at pains to shake his head everytime someone said he invented the internet or created the web. He invented the web, and made this possible:

February 01 2010

21:10

The disrupted of Davos

The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting at Davos was “rethink, redesign, rebuild.” When a friend recited that list for me, I responded that given the institutions there, the more appropriate slogan is “replace.”

Last year when I arrived at Davos, I wondered whether we were among the problem or the solution. This year, I wondered whether we were among the future or the past. Well, actually, I don’t wonder.

We were among the disrupted. The only distinction among them is that some know it, some don’t. At Davos, I fear, most don’t.

I ran a session with international organizations about transparency and new ways they can govern themselves. I didn’t get far. “Oh, yes, we understand Twitter and all that,’ they said. “We have people who do that for us.” Don’t you want to read what your constituents and the world are saying about you? “We don’t have time.” Oy. I invited a young disrupter into the room who talked about his ability to organize efforts to help people quickly — not so much breaking rules but discovering new ones — but he didn’t get far either.

I sat in a session about the future of journalism that was set in the past. No fault of the moderator, the panel pretty much issued the same old saws: The internet is filled with trivia, sniffed one: “The stuff that goes on the web is just suffocating.” The free market will not support a free press, declared another. (How do we know that already?) Thus their conclusion: The only hope for journalism is state and foundation support, said a few. Oy again.

At the end of the week, I sat in on a session trying to brainstorm under WEF’s theme of the three re’s. They said the point of the exercise was to get soundbites (as they used to be known; tweets as they are now known) and that’s what they got: PowerPoint (actually, Tumblr) platitudes. There were good points: We need to change what we measure, said one table, for now we get what we measure (true from media to economies). But there was also insipidness: “We are what we allow to happen.” And: “Ecology means caring. Equity means sharing.” Put that on your T-shirt and wash it.

Then a 17-year-old from Iraq scolded the entire room, telling them that these were just sayings. Where’s the action, he asked? Where are the specifics? That moment gave me hope: another disrupter, this one from the future.

The World Economic Forum actually does an admirable job trying to push its members into that future. I got involved — and got my ticket into Davos — because I helped them venture into blogging to show institutions by example how to benefit from social media; that effort continues in video (YouTube is there) and Twitter (so is Ev Williams)

But one must wonder whether they can go fast enough — given this crowd’s resistance to change — and thus whether they are helping the right people. That’s why I didn’t blog during this meeting (my fourth): I simply didn’t hear much new. WEF does try to bring in new voices: its young global leaders and tech pioneers, but they are viewed by the entrenched powers as curiosities — sideshows — when they should be seen as the new bosses.

After one SOS (same old…) session, I told a WEF person that I dreamed of a new organization and event, a stepchild: the World Entrepreneurs Forum. Let’s bring together only the disrupters, only the people building the future rather than trying (desperately) to protect the past. Just as the old WEF forces its members to at least ask questions about their impact — on environment, values, trust, foresight — so should this new WEF push its participants to make sure they use their power of change responsibly, strategically, openly.

I have said of journalism that its future is entrepreneurial (not institutional). At this Davos, I come to sese the same is true of much of our world. The shift from the industrial economy to whatever follows is well underway, only the leaders of the old order are largely blind to it and in that willful ignorance, there is great risk.

Entire industries are in various stages of disruption and destruction: news, media, entertainment, advertising, automotive, manufacturing, retail, real estate, telecommunications, transportation, health care…. The same will come to institutions, including government, nongovernmental and international organizations, and the academy. One university president fretted at Davos: “Just think what the world would be like if we left what universities to the free market.” Well, yes, many companies are doing more than thinking about just that; they are building, a new and needed future for education.

The disruption is everywhere. What makes technology a model is that it is in a state of constant disruption; it disrupts and deflates and rethinks and rebuilds itself constantly. But that 1000-r.p.m. Great Mandala is now buzz-sawing through the rest of society. Only the rest of society isn’t built for change. Neither is WEF — though it tries — because the change is too profound and too fast.

There’s a clear dividing line here: Do you fear and resist this change (WEF I) or do you create and enable it (WEF II… and note that I didn’t use “2.0″!)? That’s why I think there’s a need for a new WEF. I wouldn’t suggest transforming the first into the second. I’ve learned from a decade and a half of trying — naively, I now see — to do that with newspapers that it’s rarely if ever going to succeed and for understandable reasons (the cost — in money, pain, and culture — is just too great). It is easier to build up than tear down.

We are seeing parallel worlds emerge: the disrupted and the disrupters and they are not meant to share a fondue pot. So let’s pull together the disrupters and challenge them — as WEF has its institutions — to more fully understand the impact of their work, to use their power of change to solve problems, to collaborate (as is their reflex already). Let’s encourage them to look forward, not back, and let’s support their needs (in education, governance, infrastructure). Let’s rethink our priorities around those needs (in media, for example, let’s stop defaulting to government subsidies of dying institutions and instead encourage government to provide ubiquitous broadband to enable a new future; let’s start with the market).

Is WEF the organization to bring this together? Is there a need for an organization at all? When I pulled together a conference (call) of people planning to teach entrepreneurial journalism from around the world, one participant suggested creating a body but Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia protested: “We have enough organizations.” Right. So what structure would support the disrupters? If it’s a meeting, don’t hold it in the high mountains of Switzerland or the low valley of Silicon. Hold it in a place awaiting progress. Or just hold it online. Make it open. As Dave Winer says, the people who should be there are there.

I see the value in Davos: smart people with the power to get things done (well, once upon a time) able to mix and meet and sometimes learn and even act. I see similar benefit for the people are indeed are rethinking, redesigning, and rebuilding by replacing.

Next year in India or Africa or Brazil or at an IP address to be named…

December 04 2009

13:43

#WANIndia2009: What’s hot and what’s not in the newspaper industry’s world?

Based on the sessions that Journalism.co.uk attended and the delegates we spoke to there were some clear winners and losers at this year’s World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference and concurrent World Editors Forum (WEF) congress:

Image of thermometerPrint - somewhat unsurprising that the resilience of print was a clear favourite at a conference of newspaper executives and industry groups…

Social media – not on everyone’s agendas, but global examples of social media being effectively used to newsgather, distribute reports and engage audiences were highlighted in an opening discussion and with news from the AP. Little mention was made at the same event last year.

Mobilean excellent presentation from the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project’s Martha Stone, but limited examples of how mobile is being used by publishers – though Norway’s VG.no had this to say.

SEOaccording to Daily Mirror and Mirror.co.uk’s associate editor Matt Kelly that is…

E-paper - Journalism had an interesting chat with the folk behind PressClick, which will be posting soon, but digital editions and e-paper went largely undiscussed.

All coverage of #WANIndia2009 from Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.

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November 30 2009

13:26

#WANIndia2009: There’s gold in them there mobiles – don’t blow it, says Martha Stone

“Please don’t blow it – there’s a big opportunity for mobile with newspaper companies,” was Martha Stone, director of the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, opening statement to the World Editors Forum (WEF) and World Association of Newspapers (WAN) conference in Hyderabad today.

But organisations must take it seriously ‘from the get go’, added Stone: “Even if you don’t see the business model immediately, just as we didn’t see a business model immediately for the internet.”

Sharing research from a new study, Stone said building iPhone apps and applications for other mobile properties was top priority across an international range of newspaper respondents.

So what should these groups be building?

Stone went on to outline the revenue opportunities for newspapers in mobile:

  • Permission databases
  • Chat and dating
  • Mobile search
  • Mobile blogging
  • ‘Advergames’
  • SMS alerts and interactions
  • MMS broadcasts

Mobile is already a key part of some newspapers’ advertising strategy, added Stone, who cited the examples of USA Today and the Sacramento Bee both using text advertising on mobile.

The Sacramento Bee in particular has used mobile advertising for previously print-only advertisers – a campaign for one plant nursery client using text advertising resulted in its largest weekend of sales.

More mature mobile markets have taken the proposition further – Scandinavian title Aftonbladet has used QR codes in both editorial and advertising.

Looking beyond traditional newspaper ground may be significant, in particular for the opportunities that lie in mobile social networking. Japanese social networking site Mobage Town, for example, which has 12 million people registered, uses advertising, affiliate sponsorships and avatar sales to generate revenues.

All #WANIndia2009 coverage from Journalism.co.uk at this link.

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11:03

#WANIndia2009: Coverage of the World Association of Newspapers’ conference and World Editors Forum

Journalism.co.uk is attending the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and World Editors Forum’s annual conferences running in Hyderabad, India, from today until Thursday 3 November.

Befitting of its surroundings in Hyderabad (or ‘Cyberabad’ as it’s nicknamed), the conference will report on press industry trends over the last year with a substantial focus on digital journalism for this year’s event.

Hot topics of debate will include how to make online journalism pay and whether Google is friend or foe. You can follow tweets from the event by using the hashtag #WANIndia2009 and following @journalism_live – or look at the CoveritLive blog below:

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