Study projects dramatic shift of ad spending to online sites

13 11 2009

In a study presented today at the Yale Law School Conference on the Future of Journalism, two leading analysts of media economics say there is a wide gap between the ratio of adults who get their content online and the amount of ad spending online, and that gap is about to close. The implication for legacy news providers is dire.

Today, U.S. advertisers spend 8 percent of budgets online, while Americans consumer 30 percent oftheir content online.

If history is any indication, a more appropriate re-allocation of advertising dollars will occur in the not-too-distant future, and daily print newspapers, with declining readership and household penetration, are mostly likely to be losers.

Over the next five years, the authors say, traditional news organization must take the following steps to survive:

  • Shed legacy costs as quickly as possible
  • Re-create community online — in an attempt to regain pricing leverage
  • Build new online advertising revenue streams to replace the loss of traditional print categories

The authors are Penelope Muse Abernathy, who holds the Knight Chair in Digital Media Economics and Journalism at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, and Richard Foster, a former McKinsey & Company executive who is a now senior faculty fellow at the School of Management at Yale.

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NYT: Iran coverage bends journalism rules

29 06 2009

CNN IranAcknowledging that it’s a bitter pill to swallow, the New York Times notes that the traditional media’s embrace of feeds from Iran via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs “amounts to the biggest embrace yet of a collaborative new style of news gathering — one that combines the contributions of ordinary citizens with the reports and analysis of journalists.”

Many mainstream media sources, which have in the past been critical of the undifferentiated sources of information on the Web, had little choice but to throw open their doors in this case. As the protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad grew, the government sharply curtailed the foreign press. As visas expired, many journalists packed up, and the ones who stayed were barred from reporting on the streets.

In a news vacuum, amateur videos and eyewitness accounts became the de facto source for information.

The newspaper admits that in publishing this material first and asking questions later, the news media violates one of the first rules of journalism: “Know the source.” Often, the nature of the content relayed by tradtional media — as well as its context, and timing — are so vague as to add little understanding to what is going on. So far, there appears to be little mischief or deceit among the anonymous transmittals from Iran. The unusual circumstances in Iran, though, seem to have opened a few eyes among traditional media.

Bill Mitchell, a senior leader at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists, said the extent of user involvement shown in the Iran coverage seems to be a new way of thinking about journalism.

“Instead of limiting ourselves to full-blown articles to be written by a journalist (professional or otherwise), the idea is to look closely at stories as they unfold and ask: is there a piece of this story I’m in a particularly good position to enhance or advance?” he said in an e-mail message.

“And it’s not just a question for journalists,” he added.

I’ve got to admit I’ve been queasy about the use of so much unsupported and unverifiable information, particularly the highly emotional imagery. There is danger of inflaming a reaction that could lead, again, to rash intervention and unwise foreign entanglements. I’ve railed at broadcasters’ running and rerunning footage about which they know practically nothing, other than that it contains blood and violence. I suspect journalists and politicians of projecting their own agendas onto these vague images.

Still, I come back to thinking that some information is better than none. It’s better for us to have a glimpse, however obscure, into something obviously massive and possibly historic. Maybe later on we can know and understand what we are seeing today — if the media and audience attention span allow.





Glenn Greenwald, Jay Rosen dig into Froomkin firing

19 06 2009

The Washington Post‘s firing of blogger Dan Froomkin raises very interesting questions of

  • the relationship of traditional media to digital journalism
  • whether they can co-exist
  • the inherent pro-establishment bias of traditional media and the opposite point of view from bloggers 
  • how the Bush administration corrupted and co-opted traditional journalism

This transcript of a conversation between Salon’s Glennn Greenwald and Jay Rosen of NYU’s journalism school, though rambling, digs into the many implications of the Post’s dismissal of the author of washingtonpost.com’s White House Watch blog. (The conversation makes better listening than reading; use the audio link at the upper right.)

Rosen makes clear that this  is not to be understood as a liberal vs. conservative issue. Froomkin has held Obama to the  same standards of accountability that he applied to the  Bush administration. Nor is it about Froomkin’s popularity, as the Post would like to spin it. It’s about the newspaper’s distaste for the look of its own reflection in the mirror Froomkin held up to the Washington establishment. On Bush and so many other matters, Froomkin was right when the Post and all its ballyhooed reporters and columnists were wrong, and the bosses could no longer stand the contrast.