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December 17 2010

19:30

This Week in Review: Taking sides on WikiLeaks, the iPad/print dilemma, and the new syndication

[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 media and WikiLeaks’ uneasy coexistence: The current iteration of the WikiLeaks story is about to move into its fourth week, and it continues to swallow up most future-of-journalism news in its path. By now, it’s branched out into several distinct facets, and we’ll briefly track down each of those, but here are the essentials this week: If you want the basics, Gawker has put together a wonderful explainer for you. If you want to dive deep into the minutiae, there’s no better way than Dave Winer’s wikiriver of relevant news feeds. Other good background info is this Swedish documentary on WikiLeaks, posted here in YouTube form.

The big news development this week was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s release from British jail on bail Thursday. As blow-by-blow accounts of the legal situation go, you can’t beat The Guardian’s. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is trying to build a conspiracy case against Assange by connecting him more explicitly to Bradley Manning’s leak, and Congress heard testimony on the subject Thursday.

— The first WikiLeaks substory is the ongoing discussion about the actions of the legions of web-based “hacktivists,” led by Anonymous, making counterattacks on WikiLeaks’ behalf. Having gone after several sites last week (including one mistakenly), some activists began talking in terms of “cyber-war” — though GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram cautioned against that type of language from all sides — and were urged on from jail by Assange. NYU professor Gabriella Coleman gave a glimpse into the inner workings of Anonymous, and they also drew plenty of criticism, too, from thinkers like British author Andrew Keen. Media consultant Deanna Zandt offered a thoughtful take on the ethics of cyber-activism.

— The second facet here is the emergence of Openleaks, a leaking organization formally launched this week by WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg as an alternative to Assange’s group. As Domscheit-Berg explained to several outlets including Forbes, Openleaks will act as a more neutral conduit to leaks than WikiLeaks, which ended up publishing its leaks, something Openleaks won’t do. Wired compared it with WikiLeaks’ rejected 2009 Knight News Challenge proposal, in which it would have functioned primarily as an anonymous submission system for leaks to local news organizations. Openleaks won’t be the last, either: As The Economist noted, if file-sharing is any guide, we’ll see scores of rivals (or comrades).

— The third story is the reaction of various branches of the traditional media, which have been decidedly mixed. WikiLeaks has gotten some support from several corners of the industry, including the faculty of the venerable Columbia School of Journalism, the press in Assange’s native Australia, and Northeastern j-prof Dan Kennedy and numerous other British and American professors and journalists, both in The Guardian. But it’s also been tweaked by others — at the Nieman Foundation Thursday, New York Times editor Bill Keller said that if Assange is a journalist, “he’s not the kind of journalist that I am.”

Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald ripped what he called the mainstream media’s “servile role” to the government in parroting its attitudes toward WikiLeaks, then later argued that the government’s prosecution of WikiLeaks would be a prosecution of investigative journalism in general. Arianna Huffington also chastised the establishment media, arguing that they’re just as much establishment as media. Likewise, Morris’ Steve Yelvington listed five reasons the media hasn’t shown outrage about the government’s backlash against WikiLeaks, including the point that the segment of the American mainstream media concerned about national issues is a shell of its former self.

— All of this provided plenty of fodder for a couple of conferences on WikiLeaks, Internet freedom, and secrecy. Last weekend, the Personal Democracy Forum held a symposium on the subject — you can watch a replay here, as well as a good summary by GRITtv and additional videos on the state of the Internet and online civil disobedience. Micah Sifry offered a thoughtful take on the event afterwards, saying that longings for a “more responsible” version of WikiLeaks might be naive: It’s “far more likely that something far more disruptive to the current order — a distributed and unstoppable system for spreading information — is what is coming next,” he wrote.

And on Thursday, the Nieman Foundation held its own one-day conference on journalism and secrecy that included keynotes by the AP’s Kathleen Carroll and Keller (who distanced himself from Assange but defended The Times’ decision to publish). If you want to go deeper into the conversation at the conference, the #niemanleaks hashtag on Twitter is a good place to start.

Will the iPad eat into print?: The iPad news this week starts with the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Journalism Institute, which released a study that suggests, based on survey data, that iPad news apps may cut into newspaper subscriptions by next year. There’s a ton of other interesting data on how iPads are being used and how users are comparing them to print newspapers and newspaper websites, but one statistic — 58 percent of those who subscribe to a print newspaper and use their iPad for more than an hour a day planned to cancel their print subscription within six months — was what drew the headlines. Alan Mutter said publishers have to like the demographics of the iPad’s prime users, but have to wonder whether developing print-like iPad apps is worth it.

Several news organizations introduced new iPad apps this week, led by CNN. Poynter’s Damon Kiesow talked to CNN about the rationale behind its photo-oriented multitouch design, and MocoNews’ Ingrid Lunden looked at why CNN might have made their app free. Steve Safran of Lost Remote liked the app’s design and sociability. Also, the New York Daily News launched a paid (though cheaper than the New York Post) app, and Harper’s added its own iPad offering as well.

Meanwhile, Flipboard, the inaugural iPad app of the year, launched a new version this week. Forbes’ Quentin Hardy talked to Flipboard’s CEO about the vision behind the new app, and The Wall Street Journal wrote about innovative iPad news apps in general. The Washington Post’s Justin Ferrell talked to the Lab’s Justin Ellis about how to design news apps for the iPad. In advertising, Apple launched its first iPad iAd, which seems to be essentially a fully formed advertisement app. One iPad app that’s not coming out this week: Rupert Murdoch’s “tablet newspaper” The Daily, whose launch has reportedly been postponed until next year.

Looking ahead to 2011: We’re nearing the end of the December, which means we’re about to see the year-end reviews and previews start to roll in. The Lab got them kicked off this week by asking its readers for predictions of what 2011 will bring in the journalism world, then publishing the predictions of some of the smartest future-of-news folks in the room.

All of the posts are worth checking out, but there are a few I want to note in particular — The AP’s Jonathan Stray on moving beyond content tribalism (“a news product that refuses to provide me with high-quality filtering and curation of the rest of the world’s information will only ever be an endpoint”), NPR’s Matt Thompson on instant speech transcription (“the Speakularity”), tech pioneer Dave Winer on adjusting to the new news distribution system (“That’s the question news people never seem to ask. How can we create something that has a market?”), and a couple of paid-content predictions on The New York Times and by Steven Brill (who has skin in the game).

The prediction post that generated the most discussion was NYU professor Clay Shirky’s piece on the dismantling of the old-media syndication system. GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram expanded on the idea, connecting it explicitly to Google News and the Associated Press, and asking, “In a world where the power to syndicate is available to all, does anyone want what AP is selling?” USC’s Pekka Pekkala explained why he sees this as a positive development for journalists and niche content producers.

As if on cue, Thomson Reuters announced the launch of its new American news service, one that seems as though it might combine traditional news syndication with some elements of modern aggregation. Media analyst Ken Doctor gave some more details about the new service and its deal with the Tribune Co., and Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan was skeptical of this potential new direction for newswires.

Reading roundup: A few good pieces before I send you on your way:

— First, one quick bit of news: The social bookmarking service Delicious was reportedly shutting down, but a Friday blog post seemed to indicate it may live on outside of Yahoo. Here’s a short ode from Mark Luckie at 10,000 Words and a list of alternatives from Search Engine Land.

— At the London Review of Books, British journalist John Lanchester has written an essay making a case for why and how the newspaper industry needs to charge for news online. Anti-paywall folks aren’t going to be crazy about it, but it’s far from the stereotypical revanchist “Make ‘em pay, just ’cause they should” pro-pay argument: “Make the process as easy as possible. Make it invisible and transparent. Make us register once and once only. Walls are not the way forward, but walls are not the same thing as payment, and without some form of payment, the press will not be here in five years’ time.”

— A couple of close looks at what news organizations are doing right: The Atlantic’s web transformation and tips on multimedia storytelling from NPR’s acclaimed Planet Money.

— A North Carolina j-prof and Duke grad student came together (!) to urge news organizations to incorporate more of the tenets of citizen journalism. They have a few specific, practical suggestions, too.

— British journalist Adam Westbrook gave his goodbye to mainstream media, making a smart case that the future lies outside its gates.

— Finally, Jonathan Stray, an AP editor and Lab contributor, has a brilliant essay challenging journalists and news organizations to develop a richer, more fully formed idea of what journalism is for. It may be a convicting piece, but it offers an encouraging vision for the future — and the opportunity for reform — too.

April 16 2010

22:42

What Do You Think of Ads on Your Mobile Phone?

There are two converging trends: 1) people are tired of seeing advertising everywhere, and 2) cell phones are becoming an entry place to the mobile web, meaning more ads are coming. Yet, even as our smartphones give us more features, we'd prefer to have no ads and not have to pay for apps. At some point, we might have to make the trade-off of seeing more ads on our mobile phones in exchange for free features and add-ons. And now that Apple announced its new iAds initiative to serve ads into apps on iPhones and iPads, we know the bombardment of ads is coming. So what do you think? Are mobile ads a necessary evil or something we can live without or something that's welcome when relevant? Answer the poll below or give us a more detailed answer in comments.




What do you think about ads on your mobile phone?online surveys

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

April 09 2010

23:05

4-Minute Roundup: Apple's iAds; Journo-Programming Degree

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at Apple's plan to enter mobile advertising with its new iAd platform. Apple has been known for hardware and software but has never handled ad sales before, and now finds itself squarely in competition with Google and AdMob in that arena. Plus, Columbia University announced a new dual journalism-programming degree. And I ask Just One Question to AdAge reporter Kunur Patel about her take on the new Apple iAd platform.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio4910.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Kunur Patel:

patel full.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Apple Launches 'iAd,' Mobile Ad Platform for iPhone and iPad at ClickZ

Steve Jobs Promises Developers That Apple's iAds Won't 'Suck' and Will Make Them Money at MediaMemo

Apple's iAd Not Game-Changing, but Will Move Market at AdAge

Apple Unveils New Ad Software for iPhone at Wall Street Journal

Apple Announces Mobile Ad Plans Thursday, and Google Can't Wait to Tell the FTC at MediaMemo

Apple unveils iPhone OS 4.0 at CNET

Apple Unveils Ad Platform and Phone Software at NY Times Bits

Will Columbia-Trained, Code-Savvy Journalists Bridge the Media/Tech Divide? at Wired Epicenter

Columbia's J-School Gears Up A New Generation Of Digital Media Geeks at Business Insider

Columbia Rolls Out Joint Journalism - CompSci Grad Program at FishbowlNY

New dual-degree master's in journalism & computer science announced at Columbia University

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about ads on your mobile phone:




What do you think about ads on your mobile phone?surveys

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.

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

April 08 2010

18:30

Three ways Apple’s iAd might impact the news industry’s continued advertising woes

Apple’s Steve Jobs just unveiled iAd, the company’s new advertising platform for the iPhone and iPad. It’s an ad platform designed for apps, like the news apps that many news organizations make, and Jobs promises to use the app framework to provide a more interactive, engaging, and rich-media experience to users. Here’s his pitch. (Quotes are taken from Engadget’s live coverage of today’s Apple event and thus may be off by a few words here and there.)

We have a lot of free or reasonably priced apps…we like that, but our [developers] have to find ways to make money. So our devs are putting ads into apps, and for lack of a better way to say it, we think most of this kind of advertising sucks.

When you look at ads on a phone, it’s not like a desktop. On a desktop, search is where it’s at. But on mobile devices, that hasn’t happened. Search is not happening on phones; people are using apps. And this is where the opportunity is to deliver advertising is.

The average user spends over 30 minutes every day using apps on their phone. If we said we wanted to put an ad up every 3 minutes, that’s 10 ads per device per day. That would be 1 billion ad opportunities per day. This is a pretty serious opportunity, and it’s an incredible demographic. But we want to do more than that. We want to change the quality of the ads too.

You know the ads on the web — they’re eye catching and interactive, but they don’t deliver emotion. What we want to do with iAds is deliver interaction and emotion. So that’s what iAd is all about. It’s about emotion plus interactivity. The ads keep you in your app. Today when you click on a banner ad, it yanks you out of your app and throws you onto the advertiser’s web page. So people don’t click on the ads. Because iAd is in the iPhone OS itself, we have figured out how to do interactive and video content without ever taking you out of the app.

For devs to add this to their apps is really simple. They can do it in an afternoon. Apple is going to sell and host the ads, and we’re going to do a 60/40 split [Apple keeping 40 percent of revenue].

Jobs then went on to show a number of in-app ads that served as immersive experiences: launching mini-apps within the app, showing videos, games, and more. They did look impressive (although calling them “emotional” might be pushing it). This sort of rich-media advertising feels like the next wave, at least, now that devices are starting to have the horsepower necessary to stream these kinds of experiences.

And here’s how Apple’s pitching iAd on their site:

iAd is a breakthrough mobile advertising platform from Apple. With it, apps can feature rich media ads that combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web. For developers, it means a new, easy-to-implement source of revenue. For advertisers, it creates a new media outlet that offers consumers highly targeted information.

So what might iAd mean for news companies? It’s waaaaay too early to tell, but here are three quick thoughts:

Smaller newspapers have an extra incentive to build iPhone apps. The nationals (NYT, WSJ, WP, etc.) all already have iPhone apps, and they would be hesitant to hand over a significant part of their advertising franchise to Apple anyway. (Hesitant to hand over 40 percent of revenue, too.) But for smaller news outlets that haven’t been able to see a return on an app-development investment — and without the sales-force resources that might be necessary to educate local advertisers about mobile advertising — iAds promises an easy reason to get on board. With the cost of basic content-app development dropping — you can get a decent app built with under $1,000 and a few days of a staff nerd’s time these days — the CBA equation gets simpler.

A shift away from search and toward content could really help news companies. iAd argues that while search advertising is justly dominant on desktops and laptops, the app experience is the right target for ads on mobile devices, because people spend less time searching and more time in their favorite apps. If that turns out to be true, that’s a huge boon for content companies like news orgs. Search is a field that news companies have no business competing in; local search efforts have flopped, and Google is an unscalable mountain.

But building apps that sustain people’s interest for extended periods of time? That’s at least a game that news orgs can compete in. As we’ve seen, news apps aren’t as engaging as they could be, and news content still isn’t a perfect match for mobile in a lot of ways. But I’d be a lot more optimistic about news companies figuring out ways to make their apps better and more engaging than I’d be about news companies stealing a slice of search advertising revenue from Google.

Could there be room for a Yahoo-style newspaper partnership? The Yahoo deal with newspapers comes down to a simple equation: Yahoo gets a ton of eyeballs, but doesn’t have the ad sales force to reach local companies. So newspapers provide the sales force and Yahoo provides the eyeballs.

I have no doubt that the Nikes, Disneys, and Targets of the world will be happy to deal with Apple directly. But will your local furniture store? Or your neighborhood Korean restaurant? We’ve already seen indications that Apple wants to keep location-based advertising to itself, but who’s going to sell those ads? Maybe a future some predicted years ago — newspaper sales teams serving as a one-stop shop for advertisers seeking placement in a variety of online and print locations, some newspaper-owned, some not — could finally come to be.

There’s lots we still don’t know about iAd — like whether apps that use the platform will still be able to use other ad platforms, say, to deliver developer-sold advertising alongside Apple-sold messages. iAd won’t arrive in apps for several months, and it’s unclear how many companies will want to invest in building the kind of immersive experiences Jobs showed off today. But at first glance, I’d guess that Apple’s entry into the Google-dominated online advertising world might not be a bad thing for news companies seeking a digital lifeline.

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