Report: Advertisers to spend more on digital media than print

8 03 2010 reports landmark findings from the annual Outsell advertising and marketing study today:

Of the $368 billion marketers plan to spend this year, 32.5% will go toward digital; 30.3% to print. Digital spending includes e-mail, video advertising, display ads and search marketing. “It’s a watershed moment,” says the study’s lead author, Outsell vice president Chuck Richard.

Digital news paradigm shift?

7 10 2009

Here’s an interesting thought: Online news providers working not through their own Web sites but through news applications on social media.

The concept may work best initially for news about well defined geographic areas or niche topics, such as a university or sports team. But the use of social site news aps could rapidly broaden once news consumers grow accustomed to the idea. The advantage is to catch readers where they already go, rather than forcing them to seek out your news site.

As Steve Rubel sees it:

Conceivably the next great media company will be all spokes and no hub. It will exist as a constellation of connected apps and widgets that live inside other sites and offer a full experience plus access to your social graph and robust community features. Each of these may interconnect too so that a media company’s community on Facebook can talk to the same on Twitter.

Facebook might be the first venue where this starts. It could become a mini news reader for millions who don’t care about RSS or Twitter. Over time this may obviate the need to create large news sites. It’s easier to create a rich interactive experience there than start a new news site and hope that people come to you. They won’t have time to find or visit.

Digital Revolution Frustrates Iranian Thug Regime

15 06 2009

This from the London Guardian’s News Blog is really cool.


Iranian people turn digital smugglers in battle for information

Despite depleted phone and internet services, protesters are becoming more inventive in methods of spreading their message

In days gone by, crushing a revolution was a lot easier. There were no mobile phones to co-ordinate street action or relay what was happening to the outside world. Even more importantly, there wasn’t an internet. Now it is common to hear of “internet” or even “twitter revolutions” – as Andrew Sullivan on the Atlantic has already described the current protests in Iran.

It is precisely for that reason that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to have – temporarily at least – shut down Facebook, Twitter, mobile phone networks and unsympathetic websites. Nevertheless, Iranians are still managing to feed out information, embracing the technology that the moderate Mir Hossein Mousavi employed during his ultimately unsuccessful election campaign.

Protestors are uploading dramatic photos of confrontations with police on sites like Flickr.


When we see spontaneous and courageous communiques like this taking advantage of new media, it’s clear that the term “revolution” is correctly applied to what’s happening in digital communications. It’s also clear how digital communications facilitate democratic and human rights revolutions. Scenes like this will only encourage despotic societies like China to clamp down harder on the Internet, but the tide will prove irresistible. The more wired a country, the less tenacious tyrrany.

Moody’s: Newspapers should get out of printing and delivering

5 06 2009

Editor & Publisher reports that on Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service said newspapers’ credit ratings will continue to fall as long as they spend “far too much on producing and delivering a printed paper than on creating its content and selling the product.”

Moody’s calls it a “structural disconnect” with just 14% of cash operating costs, on average, devoted to content creation, while about 70% of costs are devoted to printing, distribution and corporate functions. The remaining 16% of costs are related to advertising sales — another example of devoting too few resources to the principal revenue driver.

Low credit ratings impact even the digital arms of newspapers, Moody’s noted.

“If newspapers can’t monetize the content in new digital channels at the same level as with print, or cut structural costs enough to keep up with the changing competitive environment, the prospect of additional recapitalizations or shutdowns will grow, adding further pressure to ratings,” he added.

So, newspapers need to get out of printing and delivery, meaning digital is all that’s left. And they need to find a way to pay for digital. This explains the industry’s sudden rush to paid content, including secret meetings.  Anti-trust alert!

The Costs and Benefits of Distraction

1 06 2009

distractionJust when I was considering a severe diet of reduced social media consumption because of the distraction and wasted time, Twitter alerted me to this excellent article in New York magazine.

The irony is that through Twitter I found wonderful information, very related to my interests, that makes me even more concerned about what’s happened to my ability to focus during the digital age. Further irony: while reading it, I was semi-watching a Harry Potter movie with one daughter and texting another. Further irony: consumption of this digital media led to a very meaningful live, in-person conversation with the first daughter.

The article’s headline, “In Defense of Distraction,” is somewhat misleading because the writer concentrates mostly on the detriments of overstimulation and distraction before ending on a somewhat forced optimistic note.

By the way, what do you know about the Boston Molasses Disaster?

Latest potential savior for newspapers: The Big Kindle

4 05 2009

Big KindleFrom The New York Times Sunday:

But it is Amazon, maker of the Kindle, that appears to be first in line to try throwing an electronic life preserver to old-media companies. As early as this week, according to people briefed on the online retailer’s plans, Amazon will introduce a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks.

Can the New York Times survive ad slump?

21 04 2009

From The Wall Street J0urnal:

New York Times Co. reported a wider loss in the first quarter, hampered by another steep decline in advertising revenue, costs related to job cuts and a write-down of leases associated with a newsstand-distribution subsidiary that closed during the quarter. …

As with other newspaper publishers, the evaporation of classified ad sales — the traditional lifeblood of the industry — was the most alarming aspect of the results. Revenue in the category plunged 45%. …

Digital businesses accounted for nearly 13% of New York Times Co.’s revenue in the first quarter, up from 11.1% in 2008’s first quarter. At, the company’s online-information portal, revenue fell 5% to $27 million, reflecting a decline in display advertising.

Do scoops still matter in a digital world?

13 04 2009

Funny, I hadn’t thought about this at all.

When I was a newspaper reporter in the last era (through 1995) getting the scoop drove the industry. Nearly anyone who worked there would tell you that the real downfall of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch began the day the St. Louis Globe-Democrat folded. Oh, we still prided ourselves on scooping the broadcasters, but it wasn’t the same. I will always remember the outrage I felt when a TV reporter got wind of an investigation I was working on and went on the air the night before we published with a 30-second story about “questions being raised” regarding a developer’s relationship with local officials. His story had nothing, but I had lost my scoop, and the satisfaction for the weeks of work I had devoted to the story evaporated.

When print dominated journalism, the paper with the scoop could bask in it a full 24 hours, relishing how the competition was writhing while struggling to catch up. You accelerated your efforts to get a great second-day story that scooped them again.

In the mid-1990s it shook the industry when the first major dailies started “scooping themselves” by publishing stories on their Web sites before they could get the dead-tree edition on the streets. Now it’s routine and expected. The result? A scoop may last minutes at most.

The loss of this motivator could have sweeping consequences on the practice of what is left of journalism, perhaps not all bad. The egos of reporters lusting for the big scoop surely led to many an ethical lapse or unbalanced treatment of a story. Perhaps now that there is little reward for being first, the  motive will be getting it right or getting an angle or insight no one yet has considered. That would be a good thing.