1. Real-time news is neither

    The closer you get to the event itself, the more it costs to find out what’s going on. A week or a month or a year after the fact, the truth (or as close as we can get) is nearly free. Finding out that same truth mere seconds after it happens is costly indeed.

    Want to know what the crime rate in Scarsdale was like on January 1? You can look that up instantly. Want to know what it was three seconds ago? A lot more difficult.

    Mike Bloomberg became the richest man in New York by selling traders just fifteen seconds head start on the data they needed. Fifteen seconds costs thousands of dollars a month per trader. But in most cases, what we get online is not actually in real-time and it’s not news, either.

    Getting ever closer to the first moment is expensive in other ways. It might cost you in boredom, because watching an entire event just to see the good parts takes time, particularly if there’s no guarantee that there will even be good parts.

    It might cost you in filtering, because the less you’re willing to wait, the more likely it is that you’ll see news that’s incorrect, out of context or not nearly as valuable as it appears.

    When journalists, analysts and pundits are all racing to bring you the ‘news’ first, you get less actual news and more reflexive noise. Go watch an hour of cable news from a year ago… what were they yelling about that we actually care about today?

    And, it turns out, the five minute head start you got from watching that news live has no real value to make up for all the costs that go with it.

    On the other hand, if you can figure out how to bring actual, interesting, useful breaking ‘news’ to those that will pay for it, you can provide quite a profitable and beloved service.

    In the last ten years we’ve redefined breaking news from “happened yesterday” to “happened less than fifteen seconds ago.” The next order of magnitude will be prohibitively expensive and (most of the time) not particularly useful. Better, I think, to hustle in the other direction and figure out how to benefit from well-understood truth instead of fast and fresh rumor.

    by Seth Godin @ http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b31569e2017d3edc89ab970c

  2. Newspapers must have courage to change with the times

    I still believe in newspapers.

    The industry is dying, I hear. Newspapers across the country, even a few of the large ones in Alabama, have either closed shop, or mostly gone the way of the Web.

    Let’s face it, the economy stinks. Advertisers aren’t spending money like they used to. Subscribers are resorting to alternate means to get the news and revenue simply isn’t what it used to be. That’s the nature of the beast.

    Important words to corporate newspaper investors are profit margin, stock value, and “How can we become more profitable?” This is a business, not a charity.

    In the wake of this difficult economic era and industry change, the business has left a load of great people behind in recent years. Layoffs. Furloughs. Hiring freezes. You get the picture. There are many talented reporters looking for work, so those who hold employment had better bust their tail , be thankful they receive a paycheck every other week and pray to God profit margins are high enough for the execs in fancy suits every business quarter.

    Newspapers can either wilt and die, or change with the times. Since the dawn of time, the communications industry has changed with the technology available, whether it was words chiseled into stone tablets, words scribbled onto ancient scrolls, and later that wonderful machine we now call a press. There are few sounds sweeter to this ear than the hum of a press rolling at full song, accompanied by the intoxicating smell of ink mixed with newsprint.

    It’s the scent of news.

    The way of the press is slowly going away. That’s why it’s important — no, brutally necessary — that the newspaper business change with the demands of the readers. Slowly, we have done that, via electronic means, though I’m not sure how to do crossword puzzles on a phone.

    It’s exciting to read the news from your iPhone or Droid, isn’t it?

    Newspaper revenue from electronic means may not match revenue from the old printed version — but it’s catching up.

    One day, many newspapers will rely solely on electronic means to deliver the news. For some in Alabama, the future is now. You can call some organizations media groups, dot coms, or whatever, but to me — they will always be newspapers.

    I still believe in newspapers.

    I believe in newspapers that inform the public, expose wrongdoing, tell the heart-wrenching stories of life and death, celebrate heroes, and answer the basic questions for readers: What does this matter to me? Why should I care? And very importantly, but often overlooked — How?

    I believe in the hard-working reporter who obtains police reports in the morning, covers the auto accident in the afternoon, then city council at night. He isn’t paid enough. He isn’t appreciated enough. He wants to give his readers the insight on political activity, details of a murder story (because you know you’ll read it) and write those occasional feel-good stories we all need from time to time.

    I believe in community journalism. The more local reporters a newspaper has, the more local stories a newspaper should publish.

    I believe in the hard-working photographer whose pictures capture the events and lives of readers. Great photographs tell a story and this newspaper has been blessed with that over the years.

    I believe in the diligent copy-editor and page designer whose work at night often goes without love. It’s hard to make everything perfect and I challenge anyone to take on this role for more than a week. Try it and you’ll find a new appreciation for this job and be glad you do something else.

    I believe in printing the truth, not propaganda designed to paint an illusion of a perfect society. It’s a newspaper’s job to expose problems. This is a public service, though some folks choose to turn their backs to perceived negative news.

    I believe in printing facts. Not rumors. Not unnamed sources. All letters to the editor must be followed with names and their claims must have attribution. Credibility is a must.

    I believe in the underpaid, overworked journalist who must have dinner in the front seat of his car, types his fingers to the bone, brings readers into his stories, has two hours to write three stories, and can’t seem to do enough to please everybody.

    I believe in inspiring columns, thought-provoking editorials and sports stories that go beyond the box score.

    I still believe in newspapers. I believe in printed editions scattered across fast-food restaurant tables after breakfast in the morning, single-copy racks scattered across town, and newspaper carriers scattered across the county, dodging deer and fighting sleep in the middle of the night.

    I still believe in newspapers. What else would you wrap your fish in?

    I still believe in newspapers. But to prosper, each newspaper must believe in itself and have the courage to change.

    Joe McAdory is the former editorial page editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be followed on Twitter @JoeMcAdory. ___

  3. Anonymous asked: Are your forecasts or news specific to a specific region? the UK?

    Answer:

    Not really, mostly valid to Europe and North America I’d say

  4. How magazines will be changed forever

    Forget everything we know and love about physical magazines. Forget their length. Forget their size. Forget their weekly or monthly publishing schedule. Forget all these qualities except for one: What it’s like to come to an end, and to take a deep breath.

    Like Newsweek, almost all magazines will eventually go purely electronic. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Already, nearly 40% of tablet owners read digital newspapers or magazines, with nearly 10% doing so daily. Still, as I watch this shift, I can’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia. Not for the paper, but for the boundaries.

    I miss the edges — physical and psychological. I miss the start of reading a print magazine, but mostly, I miss the finish. I miss the satisfaction of putting the bundle down, knowing I have gotten through it all. Nothing left. On to the next thing.

    Newsweek ending print edition, job cuts expected

    It may seem strange to think about printed publications as having a “user experience.” But they do, of course. Print is a technology as much as desktop computers and tablets are technology. One of the qualities most natural to the user experience of print is the sense of potential completion, defined by the physical edges. It is a quality that is wholly unnatural to digital formats.

    The digital reading experience makes one want to connect and expand outward. Print calls for limit and containment.

    Ted Nelson, who invented the term “hypertext” in 1963, also coined another word: Intertwingularity. Describing it, he said

    In an important sense there are no ‘subjects’ at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly.” Later, he added, “Hierarchical and sequential structures, especially popular since Gutenberg, are usually forced and artificial.

    The digital landscape is the perfect playground for actualizing the intertwingular, since the same information can be referenced in an endless number of locations, can be remixed freely, and need not abide by any single hierarchy.

    It is this intertwingularity that can make navigating digital content so stressful.

    While a stack of printed back issues of National Geographic may seem intimidating, it is not unapproachable. The magazines may be dense, but you know where you stand as you read them. But what about staring at an empty search box leading into the deep archive of nationalgeographic.com?

    Petrifying. Boundless. Like standing on the edge of a giant reservoir in the dead of the night, looking down into its infinite blackness. Link after related link keeps pushing you along until, suddenly, you may end up reading about polar bears on an entirely different website, and maybe you haven’t been up for air in hours.

    Magazine websites, like the World Wide Web itself, open one up to continuous exploration through links and related content. There’s beauty in that, if one is up for total immersion. But it’s easier to become overwhelmed, or lost.

    Linda Stone created the term “e-mail apnea” to describe holding your breath as you traverse the horrors of your inbox. I find myself experiencing digital apnea of all sorts. Google News apnea. Twitter apnea. Facebook newsfeed apnea. RSS reader apnea. In the face of endless content streams, it’s hard to stop and take a breath.

    There is no print apnea. Perhaps, at worst, one may experience library apnea — standing before the vast greatness of the reading room in the British Museum, for example. But even then, it’s different. There’s the cozy smell of old books and the softness of the aged pages. It’s more akin to basking in grandeur than to suffocating under information overload. It’s hard to feel the same reverence for our 24/7 Twitter feeds.

    The question “How deep does it go?” is one that that nobody had to ask the printed edition of Newsweek. Newsweek.com? It’s not so clear. It’s why we love “Most Popular” and “Most E-mailed” lists — they bring some relief of edges to the digital page.

    As more of our content consumption shifts digital, the onus lies on tablet and smartphone applications to find a way to create cleaner and more bite-sized forms of boundaries in a medium that doesn’t want to be contained.

    At the start of 2013, Newsweek joins the legions of other digital-only publishers. We’re losing the paper, the touch and the romanticism of the printed object. But hopefully, we’ll find a way to create new edges.

    by Craig Mod, originally appeared on 21st October 2012 on CNN website

  5. Letter to a Journalist

    Beginning with two assumptions, that we want to both keep the information industry healthy and we want to preserve journalism as a fundamental human activity, shouldn’t we talk economy and revenue models instead of murmuring of the death of established media outlets?

    If we acknowledge these assumptions and want to do something realistic to pursue the objective of preserving journalistic storytelling, we ought to start from social behavior in respect of information consumption, and concentrate on economical sustainability.

    Observations contribute to the idea that easy reading on all the digital media, mostly available for free to users, determine a natural switch toward web generated content and social media. Given the opportunity to get updates for free and the easy availability of different perspectives, readers feel very well served by native digital news aggregators able to flatter their audiences. A digital media strategy is much more of product marketing than an editorial process.

    The media mix has not always been so easy to describe, so human needs on informative thinking are yet not fully satisfied by this editorial plan, all based as it is on diverted attention grabbing strategies.

    There will always be a different reader approach to stories, in which the attention isn’t generated but collected. Discovery is a fundamental part of this process and it has been generally supported by curators and aggregators.

    Being into the one or the other makes the process of content creation so much different that it can’t be handled by the same editors and can’t be published by the same outlets.

    Having erected the first barriers, the change in the paradigm should be achieved with a different approach to the economics. For one to consume a journalistic investigation or an in-depth report there’s an economic counterpart that puts money into it. The wealth shouldn’t be extracted from the piece itself and diverted to a consumable product; instead the wealth should be beautifully pointed out and create that idea of allegiance that is gathering people around premium services and memberships.

    Each story has its assets and liabilities to be cared of. Sustaining liabilities can bring on more assets to the mechanism perpetuating the narrative. The story has an implicit value that in most cases has been obfuscated by other complicated revenue engines.

    Should we go back to this intrinsic value and make it explicit?

    Taking care of the economics should be considered the major path to publishing journalism stories with a new paradigm of creation, distribution, monetization.

    Granular content and atomic pieces of information, all vertically targeted to small-medium sized information consuming audiences, are able to create multiple long tails of paid content. Authors can benefit from both content creation financial support as well as a fair distribution of revenue.

    Enabling Authors to publish original long form stories with a new mechanic working in the background, put editors and curators in the spotlight for the discovery process, and accountability becomes the main metric for readers’ appreciation.

    The rationale thinking behind this journalism supportive approach to distribution can lead to the creation of a publishing platform which sets its moves from a committee of experienced professionals willing to have a part in the defense of information.

    That’s basically the hardest part to be conceived, setting supporters’ expectations in a like-minded community that should be able to grow internationally around the ideas and values of journalism.