Thursday, January 4, 2007

Newspapers, The Next Generation

The newspaper business is the only industry around that draws 20% profit margins whose owners routinely cry poverty. Probably because the market has already factored the much anticipated demise of print into financial forecasts. As I've discussed previously, I believe print will be around as long as there are trees. The challenge for newspapers is how they will change and adapt to changing technology and circumstances.

There is newspaper news. Today marks the day that Daylife went live in beta. Daylife is the online news aggregator that Craig Newmark and Jeff Jarvis have been quite involved in building. I haven't had a chance to sample it yet, but it's been panned by TechCrunch already. I haven't yet had a chance to sample it, but will get back to it once I check it out.

Gigaom's initial reaction was also less than a rave.

Daylife’s goals7 overpower what it’s doing, at least with the beta. It aims to “Make the news ecosystem more transparent and self-correcting, for the benefit of all involved,” “Develop new models for funding journalism,” and “Enable a civil discourse that is pragmatic, solutions-oriented, and doesn’t exaggerate divisions in favor of celebrating what unites us,” among other things.

Sounds great, but we don’t see any progress on these fronts so far. There’s not even any way for readers to comment on stories!

Those media folks can be harsh.

The Washington Post also joined the ranks of newspapers that are linking their online and print newsgathering operations. Post Executive Editor Len Downie explained the rationale to Reuters.

Starting in January, print editors will "help us at the Web site and at the paper think smartly about more three-dimensional ways that you can present that news," Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. told Reuters.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

We're Baaaack.....

I hope all of you had a great holiday. We're back. We're rested, sort of (the whole family caught a nasty virus in Jamaica). But we are ready to go ahead to a great 2007!

A very interesting article in this week's issue of the Madison+Vine newsletter, an interview with Magna Global's new head honcho Bill Hilary. Magna, as you may recall, is the leading agency in the world of branded entertainment. Anyway, I'm happy to include a quote from the interview, primarily because Hilary agrees with me.

You've talked about your interest in digital and multiplatform entertainment. Can you give some examples of how this could work for your clients and what some of your priorities are in that area? "Multiplatform entertainment is already happening in a big way and it is going to be huge. It's like an octopus. The body is the brand concept-content and the tentacles are the many varied ways of getting the message across to the consumer. The days of creating content solely for linear broadcast are over. Every project we are developing is designed to exist on many platforms. It opens so many more opportunities and ways to reach a more diverse range of consumer."

Saddam TV
The video of Saddam's execution, as captured by mobile phone camera, has by now been widely distributed on the Internet. One of the things that's extremely interesting about this is that the fact that you can hear the taunts and jeers of the crowd, something that was missing on the Iraqi government's official video. This says a tremendous amount about the power of citizen journalism or whatever you want to call it. The fact is that it's a tidal wave that is just getting bigger and bigger. The challenge for established media outlets is how they will use and edit it.

The cameras are getting better, both the lenses and the memories. It's getting easier to establish a link from mobile device to websites. NPD, a market research firm, reports that 2/3 of phones shipped in November, 2006 were video equipped as compared with just 49% percent the year before.

There's a very interesting article about it today's WSJ. Fox News and CNN. Fox is actually issuing Palm Treos to its correspondents, so they can start broadcasting from the moment they hit the ground. The WSJ article reports that CNN correspondent Nic Robertson used a two mega-pixel Nokia N90 camera phone to show his vehicle being attacked in Darfur.