Tag Archives: America

How can newspapers make money on the web?

Ex-Washington post digital chief, Caroline Little, has been talking in Amsterdam having a stab at answering the question about how newspapers can make money online. It is a tough question with no easy answers, but her advice is quite right when she says the winners are going to be those people trying new stuff.

Speaking at the World Digital Publishing Conference in Amsterdam, Little, who advises The Guardian in the US, started by saying that despite impressive gains in audience and advertisers, newspaper websites do not produce revenue comparable to that of print newspapers despite their enviable reach.

Sad truth all those quite excellent websites, with video, and community do not pull in the cash. It makes an unhappy coupling as in this climate print circulations are shrinking and investment rising in digital – but without the rewards.

Little, who spoke at the AOP 2007 conference, cited the New York Times and The Washington Post, which  are at the top of the heap in terms of their percentage of online revenue as part of overall revenue but it is still not enough and there is no ready-made solution.

That said Little has tips that are worth remembering and apply not only to newspapers, but to any online publishing business and chief among those is that while news websites share the same journalistic values as the newspapers the web is a different medium with different rules and that means trying new things. Here she adds a great piece of advice – not everything will work so do not be afraid to fail because as she puts it “fear of failure can be debilitating”.

Little’s four areas digital growth:

Multimedia storytelling

For a newspaper, storytelling options have long been limited to text, photography and graphics. The rise of the Web has added a number of new tools to this equation: video, audio, photo galleries, panoramic photos, blogs, etc. Now, we can approach a story with a different mindset, one that says, “what’s the best way to tell this story?”

Database journalism

One often hears about the web’s endless news hole. The endless news hole, of course, is largely a myth. You can only publish as much good journalism as you can produce, and that takes skilled reporters and editors. And most papers have fewer reporters and editors than it did a few years ago. But what that endless storage space is perfect for is databases that can useful to your readers. Washingtonpost.com has been very active in this area. For example, congressional voting database going back to 1991 and a searchable list of U.S. war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reader engagement.

Here are a few things you need to know about your readers: some of them act like jerks, many of them won¹t like the journalism you produce, and the angrier ones tend to be more active. But the upside is huge. When given a chance to participate in the conversation, readers come back. A lot.

Distribution (as key as content)

In this new world of media fragmentation, media companies cannot control the format in which readers consume our journalism. That’s scary, but also a huge opportunity. We now have the chance to get our journalism in front of readers while they’re driving via audio podcast or radio, while they¹re watching their televisions via set-top boxes or video podcasts, or while they¹re standing on a street corner looking for a restaurant via cell phone or iPod. And we can push journalism to them via RSS, email newsletters and widgets.

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The White House race is just a re-run

I know who wins the race for the White House. It’s the Democrat, that Matt Santos, you know, the first Hispanic to run for president of the United States who beats this old white guy with health issues?

Okay so that’s the plot to the final series of one of the most brilliant television shows of the last decade, also known as ‘The West Wing’, which is revisited in part by BBC Four tonight.

The programme picks up on the similarities between that dramatised White House presidential race in which the long-shot candidate played by Jimmy Smits came from nowhere to win the Democratic Party nomination.

He takes on the sitting Vice President Bob Russell (or Bingo Bob as we remember him) and the former Vice President John Hoynes to face off against late sixty something Republican Senator Arnold Vinick who is a dead ringer for John McCain.

The similarities are there for all to be seen. Okay Santos was Hispanic and Barack Obama is black, but there are of a similar age and both were/are making break throughs in political life.

In ‘The West Wing’ race the ending was a fairytale one that saw Santos enter Camelot accompanied by his campaign manager and chief of staff Josh Lyman.

In the show tonight Hollywood historian Dr Ian Scott from the University of Manchester, who was a consultant for BBC Four on ‘President Hollywood’, describes how former Al Gore speechwriter Elie Attie became a writer and producer on ‘The West Wing’ and approached Obama aide David Axelrod in 2004, asking about the background and life of his boss.

That apparently set in train a sequence of events which predicted the real-life events as they unfolded two years after the final season of the series had been screened.

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"It’s like a really bad Disney movie"

An interview with Matt Damon on Sarah Palin to watch here, it’s very
funny. He’s worried what she thinks about dinosaurs and there’s the
actuarial tables to think about (boy do they make for worrying reading – don’t worry, I think John McCain will be just fine).

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The $400m dollar radio man

Forget Jonathan Ross, US radio shock jock (and celebrated
junkie) Rush Limbaugh (Guantanamo
Bay: “a tropical
retreat from the Jihad”) has signed a $400m deal to continue broadcasting
his right-wing bile until 2016.

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Scrap the news bring on the advertising

If things were not already bad enough in the US newspaper
business Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times, wants to slash 500 pages of
news each week from the newspapers and up the advertising editorial ratio. Thanks,
now you mention it I will take some news with my advertising.

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Right wing bloggers force Dunkin Donuts to pull ‘Jihadi’ ad

It isn't friendly fire. Dunkin Donuts has got itself into a sticky mess all of its own making after pulling an ad starring US TV chef and talkshow host Rachael Ray because she is wearing an Arab keffiyeh scarf favoured by terrorists and kids the world over.

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Stop watching online you’re ruining TV damn you

Preppy teen drama 'Gossip Girl' has been pulled from the web in the US as too many people are watching it online. That is apparently a problem for the CW network, which is worried that its web popularity will stop viewers watching it on TV – where people are supposed to watch it, damn it. Don't those pesky kids know anything?

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Media drinks Kool-Aid with Obama

The story about the US media's bias in favour of Barack Obama won't go away, and now it has been accused again of displaying the worst kind of favouritism in decades. It is almost as if America's media is willing the story of an Obama victory to happen all at Hillary Clinton's expense.

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Branding your hospital: welcome to the Abercrombie & Fitch ER

If you're looking for somewhere to get those ab implants done, head to Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio. It has just renamed its ER the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center.It isn't the first time that the Columbus Children's Hospital has adopted a new moniker in gratitude to its corporate sponsors. Previously it changed its name to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to acknowledge a $50m gift from Nationwide insurance.

Why would you even brand hospital? I'm stumped. Does the marketing director know what happens in these places? They have a body count. On the plus side the doctors and nurses are all extremely hot. Kidding. Sort of.

But the Nationwide deal wasn't the problem. It is the Abercrombie & Fitch one that has raised eyebrows after the group, also based in Ohio, made a $10m donation. That isn't a donation if you change the name of your ER, that's sponsorship.

According to a report in the New York Times, as diverse a collection of concerned parties including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, leading pediatricians and the Parents for Ethical Marketing, is calling on the hospital to reconsider. The donation dates back to 2006, but ground is to be broken this year for the building to house the ER facilities.

"It is troubling that a children's hospital would name its emergency room after a company that routinely relies on highly sexualised marketing to target teens and pre-teens," the members of the coalition wrote in a letter that was sent on Tuesday to the hospital’s office in Columbus, Ohio.

"The Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center marries the Abercrombie brand to your reputation," said the letter, addressed to five senior officers of the hospital. "A company with a long history of undermining children’s well-being is now linked with healing."

They argue that naming the department after Abercrombie & Fitch ("get this boy down to A&F ricky tick …) sends a grievously wrong message. You think?

I mean what is A&F best know for? Provocative (read sexual) advertising for revealing clothing. And this is for a children's hospital. I think at this point I'll just say something like "is nothing sacred?" and mean it.

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The ‘Red Phone’ ad rings for Hillary Clinton

A slightly chilling but spot on ad dubbed the "red phone" ad, which asked Americans who they would they want to answer the phone ringing in the White House at 3am, is being credited with helping Hillary Clinton pull back in the Presidential race again.
"It's 3am and your children are safe and asleep, but there is a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it is someone who already knows the world's leaders and knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It's 3am and your children are safe and asleep, who do you want answering the phone?"

Having spent weeks on the back foot as the media once again swung behind Democratic rival Barack Obama, Clinton has bounced back this week and looks this morning to have won the Democratic primary polls in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, as voters spoke and said loud and clear who they wanted to answer the phone.

There is a second vote in Texas yet to come — the results of caucus meetings — but it is again, as in New Hampshire, a significant turnaround for Clinton, although Obama did win something last night, taking Vermont.

It's true that Hillary Clinton trails with 16 states and 1,391 delegates compared with Obama's 24 states and 1,477 delegates, but the tide is turning and the race will go all the way to the wire and primaries in April.

The last week has been bad news for Obama, with allegations of double-talking over Nafta, saying one thing to voters and another to Canadians (I thought that always happened anyway?) and getting hit by a very effective ad campaign that asked the question that when it comes down to it, when something bad happens, who do you want to pick up the phone?

Watching some of the political ads, the speed with which they are produced, and how quickly opponents fire back is part and parcel of the US Presidential campaigns, but this time around, with the web playing such a role, that has been true as never before. These ads are everywhere.

Clinton's team made this spot for Texas, but that didn't matter, it was seen everywhere. Obama's team were, of course, at the plate in no time flat and swinging with the assurance that their response would make it out of the park.

The Obama spot called into question Clinton's solid support for the Iraq War and painted him as someone who had made all the right choices in identifying Afghanistan as the battle to fight, but it didn't cut it on the night.

Oddly enough, he is using the same language against Republican frontrunner and winner last night John McCain, which is a tactic that could well backfire.

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