Monday, July 21

Why digital publishers want to be in the magazine business

Print magazines, meanwhile, are everything online publishers want — they stand for something with their audiences, they have established rates based on a long tradition of buying and selling. The publisher can artificially limit supply by cutting pages.

And the magazine-reading experience is different. Magazines may be losing importance as more readers shift online, but they’re still the ultimate engagement vehicle. Research has shown that people are more focused when reading print than when listening to radio or watching TV.

Meanwhile, online publishing is heading for trouble.

Read more here

In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a PC

the latest report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that the percentage of Chinese users accessing the Internet via mobile grew to 83.4 percent as of June 2014, for the first time surpassing the percentage of users who access the internet via PCs (80.9 percent). New numbers released today also show that the overall number of new internet users is still climbing, even if the rate of growth may not be as fast as before.

Read more at The Next Week

Referral share in Q2 2014

In Q2 2014, Facebook gained share, while Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn all fell. Here’s the bigger picture: these eight social referral sites drove 31.07 percent of overall traffic in June 2014. The number has more than doubled: it was at just 15.55 percent in June 2013.

Read more at The Next Web

Sunday, July 20

Eight (No, Nine!) Problems With Big Data

Many tools that are based on big data can be easily gamed. For example, big data programs for grading student essays often rely on measures like sentence length and word sophistication, which are found to correlate well with the scores given by human graders. But once students figure out how such a program works, they start writing long sentences and using obscure words, rather than learning how to actually formulate and write clear, coherent text. Even Google’s celebrated search engine, rightly seen as a big data success story, is not immune to “Google bombing” and “spamdexing,” wily techniques for artificially elevating website search placement.

Read more at the New York Times

Saturday, July 19

How your iPhone is saving literature

Smartphones, even more than tablets and e-readers, have fostered a new type of reading, sometimes called “interstitial” reading. It’s the chapters, pages and paragraphs snatched up during those scraps of time that might once have been squandered on People magazine or just staring off into space. Interstitial reading happens while people are sitting in waiting rooms and the backs of taxis or standing at bus stops and in line for movie tickets or at the DMV.

Read more at Salon

Wednesday, July 9

Social Media considerations Drives Google Newsroom decision-making

If you do a Google search on the World Cup game in which Germany slaughtered Brazil 7-1, the top results will say things like "destroy," "defeat," and "humiliate." But Google itself is choosing to steer clear of negative terms. The company has created an experimental newsroom in San Francisco to monitor the World Cup, and turn popular search results into viral content. And they've got a clear editorial bias.

Read more at NPR

Monday, June 30

The fast-changing market for fonts

Free fonts, once ropy, are getting better; in the past few years Google has made more than 600 available. Talented type-designers find it ever easier to sell their work directly to consumers, sidestepping middlemen just as many book authors now do. The falling price of the design tools they use is encouraging novices to have a go. This, in turn, makes it easier for their big corporate customers to build in-house font teams.

Read more at The Economist

Saturday, June 28

Facebook’s Secret mood manipulation experiment

It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can!

Read more at The Atlantic

Friday, June 27

Teens Aren’t Fleeing Facebook After All

Nearly 80% of U.S. teens still use Facebook and are more active on the social networking site than any other, according to a Forrester Research report. The results are actually consistent with a comScore report from earlier this year that found even though there was a three-percentage-point drop in Facebook usage among college-aged adults, 89% of those college kids still use the site.

Read more at TIME

Sunday, June 15

Four factors that make a powerful visual

1. Authenticity
The consumer wants to believe that the people they are seeing are real… what they’re doing and how they’re acting is real.

At Getty Images, we've seen this trend play out with a change in the type of imagery we've been selling over the past five years. Our most popular 2007 baby versus 2012 baby shows the latter is clearly more candid. It’s not the perfect moment, but it is a real moment. And our 2007 woman versus 2012 woman shows quite a change, not just in her look, but in her attitude.

Read more here

What a Data Scientist does

What the industry calls a 'data scientist' now is really several different roles.. each requiring a different skill set.

1 business analyst

The role of business analyst existed long before the terms "big data" or "data scientist" were in vogue. This person works with front-end tools, meaning those closest to the organization's core business or function, such as Microsoft Excel, Tableau Software's visualization tools, or QlikTech's QlikView BI apps. A business analyst might also have sufficient programming skills to code up dashboards, and have some familiarity with SQL and NoSQL.

2 machine learning expert

The second data science role is that of machine-learning expert, a statistics-minded person who builds data models and makes sure the information they provide is accurate, easy to understand, and unbiased. "These are the people who develop algorithms and crunch numbers," said Wu. "They are interested in building models that predict something."

3 data engineer.

The third key job, data engineer, is "the bottom layer, the foundation," said Wu. "They are the ones who play with Hadoop, MapReduce, HBase, Cassandra. These are people interested in capturing, storing, and processing this data… so that the algorithm people can build models and derive insights from it."

Read more at Information Week

Can Twitter Survive?

News organizations have been reporting in recent weeks that Twitter’s growth rate has been slowing, which has spurred speculation about its future... Our studies have shown that Twitter occupies an important segment of the social networking world, but, in sheer numbers, its user base lags far behind the social networking behemoth Facebook.

Twitter is different; not only in who it attracts, but also in how it is used and how messages spread on the platform. Twitter also often acts more like a broadcasting network than a social network, connecting speakers and their content to the public.

Read more at Pew

Time Inc. spinoff reflects a troubled magazine business

While the digital side of the business has been making some gains, overall magazine print circulation (including single-copy sales, subscriptions and even digital replicas) has been down each of the past six years, while the number of print ad pages fell for the eighth year in a row in 2013.

Overall employment on both the business and editorial sides of U.S. magazines fell 3% in 2013, following a 4% decline in 2012, according to Advertising Age Over the longer term, consumer magazines have shed a total of 41,500 jobs since 2003 (a 28% drop).

Read more at Pew

The 100 Most-Edited Wikipedia Articles

The top historical figures, per that report, are George W. Bush, Michael Jackson, Jesus, Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight

Thursday, June 12

Mining for tweets of gold

Dataminr, a New York startup analyses the 500m or so tweets sent out daily.. for important events and news not yet reported by the mainstream media, the firm now has dozens of customers in finance, the news business and the public sector. In January it and Twitter struck a deal to provide alerts to CNN. In April its tracking of tweets was part of a strategy by the authorities in Boston to avoid a repeat of last year’s terrorist attack at the city’s annual marathon.

Dataminr is one of a growing number of firms built on analysing data from Twitter, though most do not have its focus on real-time news alerts.

Read more at The Economist

Three eye-catching big data ventures

1. Open Data Institute

Aim: free data for all

The not-for-profit Open Data Institute has positioned itself as both a catalyst for data innovation and a global hub for data expertise. Based in Shoreditch, east London, the ODI oversees a network of collaborative international "nodes."

2. The Human Brain Project

Aim: to reveal the workings of human consciousness

Flush with €1bn in funding, the Human Brain Project is a 10-year quest to reveal the hidden workings of consciousness.

3. IBM's Computational Creativity

Aim: to make computers 'creative'

Big-data analytics techniques have been deployed by IBM's Thomas J Watson Research Center to create new food recipes – what you might call technouvelle cuisine – mined from sources including Wikipedia and Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, then tweaked with an algorithm designed to add creativity to matched ingredients. 

Read more here

Tuesday, June 3

Some Newspapers to Staff: Social Media Isn’t Optional, It’s Mandatory

The newspapers that mandate participation on social media emphasize a newsroom-wide approach to traffic growth. The Gannett-owned Jackson Clarion-Ledger, for instance, requires its writers to maintain Facebook and Twitter profiles and everyone on staff helps draw attention to the site, Executive Editor and Director of Audience Engagement Brian Tolley wrote in an email.Editors and social media managers play a bigger role in audience-building than other staffers.

Mallary Tenore, former managing editor of Poynter.org, said she doesn’t believe newspapers should require all staff to have social media accounts because people tend to have negative reactions to words such as “mandatory.”

Read more at AJR

Study: Colbert does a better job teaching people about campaign financing than traditional news sources

Viewers of “The Colbert Report” who watched faux-conservative TV host Stephen Colbert set up a super PAC and 501(c)(4) organization during the last presidential election cycle proved to be better informed about campaign financing and the role of money in politics than viewers of other news channels and shows, according to a new study.

Read more here

Sunday, June 1

Everything you need to know about the future of newspapers is in these two charts

The decline in print-advertising revenue — which has been in free-fall for years now — is not stopping, or even slowing down, any time soon. If anything, it is likely to accelerate.

Read more at Gigaom

Friday, May 30

The New York Times ponders the bold changes needed for the digital age

Every paper is rethinking its business strategy as readers keep abandoning print for digital, and in particular mobile, devices.

Other newspapers regard the Times as a farsighted digital pioneer. It now claims 760,000 digital subscribers, and in recent months it has completed a sleek online makeover and launched new mobile apps. So if the Times is anxious, they should be too. 

Read more at The Economist

Think Internet Data Mining Goes Too Far? Then You Won't Like This

These days, you can hop on the Internet and buy yourself a consumer-grade brain scanning device for just a few hundred dollars.

"By putting something on your head, you're actually providing an extra source of information," Bonaci says. The information leaking from your skull could be very revealing, she says. "The consequences of providing that signal without thinking about it are probably similar to the consequences of giving your DNA sample to some online database."

It sounds far-fetched, but.. the day may come when millions of people play online games while wearing BCIs. Whoever controls the game could play "20 Questions," measuring players' emotional responses to what they see.

"I could show political candidates and begin to understand your political orientation, and then sell that to pollsters."

Read more at NPR

Why we need infographics and how to make them great

Storytelling is extremely important with data visualization and infographics. If there’s no story, then who cares? It’s just raw data. The story is what will set you apart. If it’s memorable and entertaining, then people will remember it.

Read more at The Next Web

Wednesday, May 28

new ways to pay your bills

New services to make spending money easier are springing up all the time. They are not confined to the rich world: in Kenya roughly 60% of adults—about the same number as have a bank account—use a mobile-phone payment service called M-PESA (see chart 4) And increasingly they cater to business customers too: services that integrate electronic invoicing and payments into a firm’s procurement and accounting system, or that help manage and raise working capital, are becoming commonplace.

Not surprisingly, the titans of the internet have started to eye up the payments business. Google offers a virtual wallet; Amazon recently set up a service to allow its customers to transfer money; Facebook and Apple have expressed interest in the field. There is much speculation that the latest iPhone’s ability to read fingerprints may be heralding a world-changing payment service. Telecoms companies (such as Safaricom, the firm behind M-PESA) and bricks-and-mortar merchants (Starbucks) are also dabbling in the field.

In China McKinsey expects it to increase by 42% a year between 2012 and 2017. Brazil is already the world’s second-biggest market for card transactions after the United States, according to Capgemini, another consultancy.

Consultants like to speak of “purchasing journeys” in which settling the bill is only the final step. Other waystations include advertising, internet search, participation in loyalty schemes and so on. Innovators, the thinking goes, could afford to undercut market prices for payments in anticipation of greater rewards at some other stage in the journey.

Read more at the Economist

Tuesday, May 27

Google Changes Logo - very slightly

Without fanfare, Google has changed its logo for only the third time in a decade – by just two pixels... From the company which famously a/b tested which shade of blue to use in adverts – and made $200m in the process – you can be sure the decision wasn't made lightly.

Read more at The Guardian

Monday, May 19

New York Times Internal Report Painted Dire Digital Picture

The report also calls for a profound rethinking of the newsroom’s independence from the rest of the company, in order to involve editorial leaders more deeply in technological decisions.

“The very first step … should be a deliberate push to abandon our current metaphors of choice — ‘The Wall’ and ‘Church and State’ — which project an enduring need for division. Increased collaboration, done right, does not present any threat to our values of journalistic independence,” the report says.

Read more at Buzz Feed

The New York Times’ digital challenges, in 5 charts

Readership trends don’t favor the Times. Despite its dependence on print advertising, the paper is seeing its readers increasingly getting their news from the Internet. Half of all consumers went online for most of their news in 2013, while the percentage of those getting their news primarily from newspapers slid to under one-third. Despite that, the Times is stuck in a print-centric way of gathering and distributing the news.

Read more at Digiday

Sunday, May 18

TED founder thinks big data needs a big makeover

The way Wurman sees it, that bulk collection of raw information has no value without a creative means of diagramming, mapping and comparing it all in a way that gives it meaning. "[You] have to have it in a form that you can understand. They're leaving that step out," he said. It's that approach to the organization of data that has directly informed the creation of Wurman's high-tech information-mapping project, Urban Observatory.

Read more at Engadget

Tuesday, May 13

New Associated Press guidelines: Keep it brief

The world’s largest independent news organization, the Associated Press, for one, has told its journalists to cut the fat — and keep their stories between 300 and 500 words, a length in which this story (301 words) would easily fit.

Read more at the Washington Post

Sunday, May 11

A prize for his work on the economics of news and opinion

Newspapers’ woes are not due entirely to readers’ defection to free alternatives online. Time spent reading newspapers did indeed fall by half between 1980 and 2012, but most of the drop came before 2000, while the web was in its infancy. From 2008 to 2012, as time spent on the web as a whole soared, time spent reading newspapers fell much more slowly.

Read more at The Economist

Media firms are making big bets on online video, still an untested medium

Some firms are making online videos simply because the advertising rates they can get are so good... Engaging, original shows can also help websites persuade visitors to stick around longer, so they can be shown other ads. Some firms are not motivated by ad revenues: Microsoft is making videos to distribute through its Xbox, to help sell the games console. Netflix, which made “House of Cards”, a political drama, is simply after subscribers and has no ads.

However, spending on TV spots is continuing to rise, despite the growth of internet-based advertising. Many media groups have sold packages of advertising space, combining spots on TV and on the internet. Television still attracts a broader audience than online video, and advertisers feel they understand it better. It is print that is losing ad spending to online video, says David Hallerman of eMarketer.

Many people are watching on small mobile-phone and tablet screens, on which some types of advertisement do not come across so well. Audience measurement for internet videos is not as widely agreed on as it is in TV. Hits remain elusive too.

Read more in The Economist

Saturday, May 10

How Diverse Are Your Social Networks?

Now we know the most racially diverse social network in the U.S.: congratulations, Instagram. The data was revealed in a Wall Street Journal story about Twitter touting its diversity to lure advertisers. Twitter has gone so far as to hire a "multicultural strategist" in November to lead "its effort to target black, Hispanic and Asian-American users."

Read more at Mashable

Saturday, April 26

The dawn of the Chrome Age

Derided as a long shot when it launched in 2008, the Chrome browser boasts a speed and simplicity that have attracted hundreds of millions: Today it has nearly twice as many users as Microsoft's once seemingly unbeatable Internet Explorer (IE), whose market share has shriveled from about 68% to 25%, according to StatCounter... Google has pushed its web-centric vision further with the Chrome operating system.

Now Google is extending Chrome technology into new areas, including mobile devices, television, and the Internet of things. After releasing a Chrome browser for iPhones and Android devices, Google introduced Chromecast, a gizmo that resembles a thumb drive (it's called a "dongle"), which attaches to a television set and allows it to play, or "cast," anything that's happening on your desktop or mobile browser. With millions sold, the $35 device has given Google a firm toehold in the living room, where it is battling other providers of streaming-media devices like Apple, Amazon (which just announced its Fire TV player), and Roku.

Read more at Fortune

Crowd-funding is improving journalism in China

Even though state-run media (in China) are not as bland as they once were, principled journalists still struggle to find a home for their work. Since the arrival of the internet the government has engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with emerging media, allowing some new platforms to flourish yet standing ready to pounce on those that become too popular... For journalists aiming for integrity, the intersection of technology and the market presents new ways to survive.

Read more at the Economist

Monday, April 21

Buying social bot friends

Retweets. Likes. Favorites. Comments. Upvotes. Page views. You name it; they’re for sale.. These imaginary citizens of the Internet have surprising power, making celebrities, wannabe celebrities and companies seem more popular than they really are, swaying public opinion about culture and products and, in some instances, influencing political agendas.

Read more at the New York Times

US newspaper industry revenue fell 2.6 pct in 2013

U.S. newspaper industry revenue fell last year, as increases in circulation revenue weren’t high enough to make up for shrinking demand for print advertising, an industry trade group said Friday.

Read more from the Associated Press here

Scalia criticizes historic Supreme Court ruling on freedom of the press

This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times vs. Sullivan, its most important pronouncement on the freedom of the press, but the ruling has not won the acceptance of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“It was wrong,” he said Thursday evening at the National Press Club in a joint appearance with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I think the Framers would have been appalled. … It was revising the Constitution.”

Read more in the LA Times

Friday, April 18

Local News, Off College Presses

Journalism schools and student-run newspapers across the country are operating a variety of programs that are not just teaching students to be journalists, but embedding them in the media industry and allowing them to produce content.

Read more in the New York Times

Thursday, April 17

Are Touchscreens Melting Your Kid’s Brain?

The American Academy of Pediatrics is unequivocal: If your kid is under 2, no screens. For older kids, two hours a day, max. But the AAP doesn’t differentiate between activities; education apps, base-jumping videos, first-person shooters, ebooks, Sesame Street, and The Shining are all thrown into the same bucket. It’s all just screen time.

Trouble is, they’re not all the same.

Read the article at Wired

Sunday, April 13

Drones often make news. They have started gathering it, too

In the past few months drones shot the most revealing footage of the protests that toppled Viktor Yanukovych, its corrupt president. They have also offered a bird’s-eye view of civil conflict in Thailand, Venezuela and elsewhere. They let journalists capture scenes that previously would have put their lives in danger, and made it harder for governments to lie.

Drones are helping journalists overcome logistical hurdles, too. They have recently been used to cover fires raging in the Australian bush, and floods in southern England. “[Drones] give you a unique, airborne perspective that you can’t get any other way,” says Thomas Hannen of the BBC’s Global Video Unit. Their relative cheapness (basic models cost a few hundred dollars; fancier ones a few thousand) means that shots that once required a helicopter or a complicated set-up of gantries and wires are now achievable on a tight budget. And their usefulness will only grow as cameras get better and batteries last longer.

Read more at the Economist

Friday, April 11

The Front Page 2.0

There will always be a demand for high-quality news—enough demand to support two or three national newspapers, on papyrus scrolls if necessary. And the truth is that if only two or three newspapers survive, in national or global competition, that will still be more competition than we have now, with our collection of one-paper-town monopolies. A second truth is that most newspapers aren’t very good and wouldn’t be missed by anybody who could get The New York Times or USA Today and some bloggy source of local news.

Read more of Michael Kinsley's piece in Vanity Fair.

Profanity in Newspapers

CAN a newspaper cuss? Jesse Sheidlower has written in the New York Times calling for an end to that newspaper’s total refusal to print swear words.

Read more at The Economist

Saturday, April 5

Why local TV runs the same news stories

In terms of dollar value, more than 75 percent of the nearly 300 full-power local TV stations purchased last year were acquired by just three media giants. The largest, Sinclair Broadcasting, will reach almost 40 percent of the population if its latest purchases are approved by federal regulators. Media conglomerates such as Sinclair have bought up multiple news stations in the same regions—in nearly half of America's 210 television markets, one company owns or manages at least two local stations, and a lot of these stations now run very similar or even completely identical newscasts, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

REad more here

Tuesday, April 1

Can streaming slow the music industry’s long decline?

A report on March 18th by IFPI, a record-industry group (finds) music labels’ worldwide revenues fell by 4% last year to $15 billion, a reversal of 2012’s slight rise. But much of the fall was due to Japanese consumers finally giving up on CDs, as much as the rest of the world had already done. A closer look shows that streaming services are starting to bring the business back into profit in countries that have suffered steady declines, such as Italy.

Streaming now has around 28m paying subscribers, and several times as many who use free versions. Last year subscription-based versions like Spotify had combined revenues of more than $1 billion, up more than 50% from 2012. That figure does not include online-radio firms, which last year had revenues of $590m in America alone, a rise of 28% from the year before. In America, the largest music market, 21% of the industry’s 2013 revenues came from streaming, whose growth more than offset declines in CD sales.

Even so, only 4-5% of music consumers in America and Britain have so far signed up for subscription streaming, says Mark Mulligan of MIDiA Consulting.

Read more at the Economist

Sunday, March 30

Companies Turn to Social-Media Coaches Consultants to Avoid Online Flubs

The need for social-media crisis management has spawned a cottage industry that has firms like HootSuite Media Inc., SocialOomph.com, and Weber Shandwick offering monitoring software and services to deal effectively with online critics, react to events of interest to their markets and provide a positive glow to their brands.

Read more (or watch video) at the Wall Street Journal

Friday, March 28

These are the world's finest (fake) news sources

Wherever there's news, there's fake news. That's why it shouldn't surprise you to hear that The Onion — and your very own GlobalPost — are far from the only websites turning international crises into LOLs. There are dozens of satire sites out there, rewriting current affairs, making the cynical snigger and duping the global gullible.

Read more here

Pew: Online news organizations have created 5,000 jobs

The center's annual State of the News Media report, released on Wednesday, includes a first-of-its-kind tally of jobs at 30 big websites, like Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post, and 438 smaller startups.

Read more from Money Magazine