Quickshots: December

Wired Magazine’s new look was introduced in its January 2012 issue. Old media and New Media meet: “The redesign is an entirely new platform for what Wired has become: not just ink on paper but increasingly, pixels on screen,” state the editors in their introduction.

According to Wired, 20% of their readers read the magazine in digital format (a number that strikes me as rather low for its sophisticated, wired, cutting-edge audience. But then again, also geeks like to read print).

“[With the redesign], the structure and format of every page is built to adapt seamlessly to digital form,” the editors write. “Every layout starts with the same challenge for the designer: How do you organize the page in a fresh and interesting way? Our solution was to simplify. Simplicity can be the most essential tool for navigating complexity.”

I couldn’t agree more. Well done.

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“The number of jobs eliminated in the newspaper industry rose by nearly 30% in 2011 from the prior year.” (via Reflections of a Newsosaur). “In other words, the decline in newsroom employment has been twice as great since 2007 as the 11% drop in over-all industry employment.”

A total of 3,775+ jobs lost. And you thought the recessions was over?

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We still remember the importance of “above the fold” placement of articles in the newspaper. New media don’t have the same restrictions, right?

“Wrong,” writes Emily Smith on the blog Design Festival. “The term was ported over to the web. It refers to any content that can’t be seen in your current browser window without scrolling or manipulation. This means that on most web viewing experiences, no matter the device, the fold exists.”

But should we pay attention to it?

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‎”We’re not out of the woods yet, but Web publishing is starting to hit its stride. Product offerings are getting smarter, prices are getting better and, most importantly, content is getting more interesting. We might not even be half way to the future of publishing yet, but the industry is picking up steam,” writes Jon Mitchell on ReadWriteWeb. 

There are new ways to read, new ways to write and new ways to advertise. Publishing is a rapidly changing high-tech business now, so the tools change the content and vice versa. Established publishers have lots of inertia, so the changes won’t sweep the world overnight, but here in the blogosphere, there’s a palpable sense of excitement.”

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Kind of creepy, but  Heatmaps Reveal Where People Look on Social Media Sites, reveals the Inbound Internet Marketing Blog. The technology follows eyeball movement of readers on the web to determine which content their eyes gravitate to on a webpage. Mashable commissioned a study called EyeTrackShop, a startup that performs heatmap studies for marketers, to see where people look on popular social media sites.

And, who knew, content still matters! The study found that people gravitate to where the content is: to the Facebook Wall of a friends for example. Also Facebook brand page visitors “almost always saw the wall first, and spent more time looking at it than any other element on the page,” according to Mashable.

“Time spent on mobile phones per day on average increased 30% in 2011 to an hour and 5 minutes, easily more than the combined 44 minutes devoted to print magazines and newspapers combined,” according to a new report by Nielsen State of the Media: The Mobile Media Report” that offers a snapshot of the current mobile media landscape and audiences in the U.S. and highlights the potential power of mobile commerce in the near future.

Forward to any young media consumer you know. This should be obvious but apparently many youngsters have no clue: Be skeptical, distinguish between news, facts, opinion and lies — The News Literacy Project. The project was introduced by a PBS Newshour report on Dec. 13. Read the transcript here.

Quickshots: November

What was it like to be the top press photographer in New York City in the days “Before the Paparazzi?”

The Deadline Club has issued a statement concerning the arrests of journalists at the Occupy Wall Street protests:”The Deadline Club condemns the actions of the New York Police Department in detaining journalists who were covering the Occupy Wall Street protests on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. As the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Deadline Club believes that a free press is a cornerstone of our democracy and opposes any police interference with journalists in the lawful pursuance of their reporting. We urge that any journalists who are in custody be released and that any charges against the detained journalists be dropped immediately.”

I was baffled to learn about media blogger Romenesko’s (temporary?) dismissal from Poynter because of alleged plagiarism. I relied on his insight many times and his service to the media industry is invaluable. Here’s a thorough analysis of the case by Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review: 

“Romenesko found a new way of communicating attribution that renders old “rules” about attribution irrelevant. Journalism leadership that focuses on the ends our ethics are supposed to guide us toward would have recognized that. Leadership that focuses on rules for rules’ sake, wouldn’t have. And didn’t. It’s clear from this episode that something does need to change at Poynter. But it wasn’t Jim Romenesko.”

You can continue reading Romenesko’s media analyses on his website.

Reminiscing: Internet 1996 vs. 2011 Where were you?

Quickshots: October

A great example why print still works: The Occupy Wall Street Journal is a 4-page broadsheet that is widely distributed among protesters downtown.

“Forgive an old newspaper hack a moment of sentimentality, but it is somehow reassuring that a newspaper still has traction in an environment preoccupied by social media. It makes sense when you think about it: Newspapers convey a sense of place, of actually being there, that digital media can’t. When is the last time somebody handed you a Web site?” (David Carr, “A Protest’s Ink-Stained Fingers“, New York Times).

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In Is Journalism As We Know It Becoming Obsolete?”, Mathew Ingram debates the question that Dave Winer (Scripting) raised in his blog post, where he argued that it is obsolete “because everyone can do it”. Winer writes, “Now we can hear directly from the sources and build our own news networks. It’s still early days for this, and it wasn’t that long ago that we depended on journalists for the news. But in a generation or two we won’t be employing people to gather news for us. It’ll work differently.”

You should know my point of view by now. And if you agree with the notion that journalism is an old hat, why are you reading this blog? Ingram (and I happen to agree with him) argues that everyone has their own definition what journalism is, “but I think it’s fundamentally about a spirit of inquiry, of curiosity, of wanting to make sense of things. It’s something like the spirit of scientific inquiry, as Matt Thompson noted recently in a post at the Poynter Institute. It has very little to do with specific tools or specific methods of publishing.”

Yes, anybody can access sources and write. But we still need those of us who can curate the flow of information, put it in historic and political perspective and digest the findings. We are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Journalism, says Ingram, “is a state of mind.” Yes, indeed.

“A new generation of web entrepreneurs has discovered the joys of charging users cold, hard cash. […] If we’re lucky, this trend will save the Internet from one of the most corrosive forces affecting it — the bloodless logic of advertising,” writes Clive Thompson on Online Ads in Wired Magazine. “I predict that in 2050, we’ll look back at the first 20 years of the web and shake our heads. The craptacular design! The hallucinogenic business models! The privacy nightmares! All because entrepreneurs convinced themselves that they couldn’t do what inventors have done for centuries: Charge people a fair price for things they want.”

I agree! Thanks, Clive. But what took you so long to discover this? And do you pay for what you read online?

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Very sound advice:

“Online publishing has made it deceptively easy to become a publisher. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Back when editors and publishers were gatekeepers, there was someone who was reviewing your writing. Content creation, like any other art form, generally improves with practice. If you haven’t ever written for the web or you’re just a bit rusty, you should consider practicing more in private. Working out your routine in private is far less damaging to your brand than producing sub-par content.” (Buddy Scalera, “Content Strategy Tip: Write Awful Content”) 

World press trends: Newspapers still reach more than internet. “Circulation is like the sun. It continues to rise in the East and decline in the West,” said Christoph Riess, CEO of WAN-IFRA, who presented an annual survey at the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Vienna, Austria. Nicely put.

Quickshots: September

“It was computer technology (particularly Apple) that put typography into the hands of all of us. And it’s computer technology that is relentlessly picking it apart, devaluing expression in a misguided attempt to demonstrate that you’re too busy coding to make anything look trustworthy or delightful.” (Seth Godin in “The web leaders hate typography (but not for long)”

I agree wholeheartedly. In case you are interested in typography, this is a must read: “Why do the points on Futura in letters like A and N rise slightly above and below the heights of other capital letters? Purely a design decision? Residual choice from old printing techniques?”

New and old meet.

According to a 2010 Project for Excellence in Journalism study, aptly named “The Blogosphere: New Media, Old Media,” 99 percent of news links on blogs came from legacy outlets like newspapers and broadcast networks. “Despite the unconventional agenda of bloggers, traditional media still provide the vast majority of their information. More than 99% of the stories linked to came from legacy outlets like newspapers and broadcast networks. American legacy outlets made up 75% of all items. […] Web-only sites, on the other hand, made up less than 1% of the links in the blogosphere.”

Shut those down and what have you got? Kittens on YouTube.

What, The Byliner and The Atavist both pay for original written content, aka the labor of a writer, who worked on a story that will bring in ad revenues, clicks, eyeballs and…readers (ahem, unique visitors)?

Shocking.

“Like The Atavist, The Byliner’s business model offers its writers an initial fee (reportedly topping out in the low five figures for the biggest names) and then splits revenues 50/50. “

Isn’t that a given for a good business model, one that values its workers? And you need a pat on your back for that? 

Oh, that reminds me: How can an online journalists work when the Internet is full of unpaid blogs? Join the National Writers Union, NYC, on Oct. 11 for a panel discussion. The panel will also be streamed live at PayTheWriter.org.

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook

Americans spent a total of 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May, according to a new Nielsen study. “As long as Facebook and its new partners are still motivated by their bottom lines, coming changes are […] kind of scary. As Facebook marches toward its inevitable IPO, the social network walks a very fine line between being a profit-generator and a protector of 750 million users’ privacy preferences. It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s users (and its competitors) feel about all of this.” (Forbes Magazine, “Facebook’s Makeover Is A Little Scary“) .

Facebook execs say that Timeline will be “like meeting a friend for drinks and spilling your soul until the bar lights flicker for closing time.”

Is this a joke? To me, Facebook feels like a trendy nightclub, where everyone that you know — or barely know, or have already forgotten that you know or have tried to tune out — lounges around in their PJs and watches your every move. Cozy, huh? Here’s more on Facebook: CNet: “Facebook changes creeping out some customers” and via All Things D: “Facebook Boldly Annexes the Web

I am on Facebook, but I don’t “spill my soul” there. Are you, Zuckerberg? Wait, don’t answer that…

Interesting article in the New York Times, “All The News You Want, When You Want It,” on how apps help create customized magazines, leaving out what we don’t want. But, admits the author, he goes back to the newsprint version often to seek in-depth reporting that he has possibly missed. “[T]he news app experience is different from reading a newspaper section by section, page by page. I feel informed, but I always have the nagging feeling that I missed something important or that I am reading the news superficially. I go back to the newsprint version during the day to seek in-depth reporting that I may have missed by skimming. Sure, I saved longer articles to read later on my apps, but I don’t always do that. At least gathering the newspapers for recycling is a reminder to glance through them to be sure I did not miss something important.”

New needs old.

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Computer-generated content is on the rise: “The leaders of Narrative Science emphasize that their technology would be primarily a low-cost tool for publications to expand and enrich coverage when editorial budgets are under pressure.”  (The New York Times, “In Case You Wondered, a Real Human Wrote This Column“)

Is that supposed to make us feel better?

The Onion’s editorial department will be relocated from New York to Chicago next summer.

I doubt that it will find as much satirical material there. I guess, the fiscal bottom line is more important. I feel for you. 

Remember this one: “8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live“? “At 4:32 p.m. Tuesday, every single resident of New York City decided to evacuate the famed metropolis, having realized it was nothing more than a massive, trash-ridden hell hole that slowly sucks the life out of every one of its inhabitants.”

We’ll miss you, Onion.

Quote from the movie Contagion: “Blogging is not writing; it’s graffiti with punctuation”. Except mine, of course.

Told ya! Return of the Editor: Why Human Filters are the Future of the Web: “Before news aggregators, content curators and Google’s omnipotent algorithm, the world’s information was sorted by real human beings. In the web’s next phase, argues The IdeaLists’ Karyn Campbell, the old-fashioned editor is poised for a comeback.”

Yes, Please!

In case you’re concerned: Print is not Dead. Really.

“Last summer, Paul Steinle and Sara Brown took shoe leather journalism to its extremes. The husband and wife couple, retired journalists and academics both, set off on a 50-state trek to gauge the state of the U.S. newspaper industry in the midst of digital transition.” Their findings: “Market size matters. Local news and watchdog reporting are indispensable assets. There’s no holy grail for digital revenue models.”

Feel better? 

Quickshots: August

Check out these stunning minimalistic web pages (via Speckyboy). I really believe “less is more” in web design. The content will stand out.

Finally, it’s about content, not just clicks! “We’re on the cusp of a complete overhaul of the way in which we interact with online content.” (A List Apart, “Orbital Content“) “Bookmarklet apps like InstapaperSvpply, and Readability are pointing us toward a future in which content is no longer entrenched in websites, but floats in orbit around users. This transformation of our relationship with content will force us to rethink existing reputation, distribution, and monetization models — and all for the better.”

Oh, those pesky passwords… “Hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.” (click here to enlarge image)

Quickshots: July

Thank you New York Women in Communications for alerting me to this infographic (at left) of which social media platforms perform best for brand building and marketing.

Do writing skills in new media still matter? (via MediaShift) They better, or you’ll lose readers. But apparently some journalism schools still think differently.

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India is now the world’s fastest-growing newspaper market — and North America shows the largest declines (as per The Economist, in its special section “Bulletins from the Future“).

Ooops: “Bancroft Family Members Express Regrets at Selling Wall Street Journal to Murdoch” I met R. Murdoch at one of the past MATRIX Awards (given each year by New York Women in Communications to outstanding women in media.) Murdoch was one of the presenters. When we asked why he thinks NYWICI is so important, he answered, “so that I can employ one of you girls.”

Enough said. I can’t think of a more unpleasant man. You might also appreciate this, which was published later: “Murdoch Empire in Crisis“.

‎”New media and old media seem to be creeping toward each other. New media understands [sic] that news is a killer app,” says David Carr of the New York Times.

I have been saying this all along.

Arthur O. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, in response to whether users could find a way around the NYTimes online pay wall: “There are going to be ways. […] Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free.”

That’s assuring, isn’t it?

Journalism in the Internet Age (Jay Rosen): “The value of good journalism remains the same – timely, accurate, useful information that tells us what’s happening in our world over the horizon of our personal experience.”

Go see Page One if you don’t know much about why newspapers are in the dire shape they are in today. If you are a professional journalist, prepare to be depressed. If you think print is dead, however, prepare to be surprised: New media still haven’t reinvented the news reel. Old meet new is more like it, with one depending on the other.

My tagline exactly.

Fascinating look at global Facebook business page rankings, via Der Spiegel “Hamburgers, Beer and Bayern Munich: Facebook Rankings Reflect National Stereotypes.

Quickshots: June

NYTimes’ Bill Keller in “The Twitter Trap“: “… [B]efore we succumb to digital idolatry, we should consider that innovation often comes at a price. […] I wonder if the price is a piece of ourselves. […] Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud.”

At left, my own rant.

And here is more on Twitter: “Twitter is building a machine to convert 140 characters on Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher, narcissism, the struggle for human freedom and Starbucks into cash — and quick, before its moment passes. Is this asking too much of even the world’s best technologists?” asks Joe Hagan in New York Magazine under the headline “Tweet Science”.

No, it is not.

This PBS story, “Children and Facebook: The Promise and Pitfalls for Social Media,” reminded me of another quote by Keller: “Last week, my wife and I told our 13-year-old daughter she could join Facebook. Within a few hours she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed my child a pipe of crystal meth.”

Bill Moyers on the Daily Show: “I try to figure out the difference between the important and the immediate […] News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity. […] We amuse ourselves to death.”

 

David Carr of the New York Times says: “I don’t believe in the sort of bifurcation of old and new. The whole ‘we’re old world media, we make phone calls and we put them in the newspaper’ and ‘we’re new media and we grab whatever’s in the ether and put it up.’ There’s been this steady march toward each other and what you’re doing is no different from what I do.” More here.

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Very interesting article in the NYTimes “In Praise of Not Knowing” (June 18). “It’s fun being In the Know, but once everyone’s in it, there’s nothing to know anymore. […] I hope kids are still finding some way, despite Google and Wikipedia, of not knowing things. Learning how to transform mere ignorance into mystery, simple not knowing into wonder, is a useful skill.” 

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There is so much wrong with this blogger’s assumption that journalism is dead and its market value is zero in the digital age, but he argues his point well and that is what good communication is all about. Judge for yourself.

And here is a counter argument in the discussion whether the value of journalism is zero, posted by Newsosaur, a blogger whom I respect a lot: “The Value of Journalism, Sir, Is Not Zero”. 

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Are the 700 Gannett layoffs “a vote of no confidence in the future of print by America’s largest newspaper company?” According to Poynter, they are indeed. Humph.

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You’ve got to be kidding me: “Women Still Don’t ‘Get’ LinkedIn” (via The Atlantic). Nonsense. According to TechCrunch, “Women rule the Internet. [They’re] the routers and amplifiers of the social Web. They are the rocket fuel of e-commerce. If you figure out how to harness the power of female customers, you rock the world.”

Do you have a LinkedIn profile yet? No? Get going. Here’s mine.