News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Business

March 31, 2010

Internet will probably conquer bureaucracy eventually, says new Pew report

Frustrated by slow, convoluted bureaucracies? Just watch the net and wait. And wait. New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that the internet will make businesses and government agencies much more responsive and efficient—by 2020. That’s what 72% of nearly 900 “technology stakeholders and critics” surveyed by Pew believe…

Why will these improvements take so long, or maybe even longer? Powerful bureaucratic forces will push back against such transformation. Expect continuing tension in disruptive times.

In contrast, about one-fourth of respondents believe “By 2020, governments, businesses, non‐profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.”

Read the survey results, including remarks from many respondents who chose to elaborate upon their answers.

September 24, 2010

CUNY to offer first masters degree in entrepreneurial journalism

$10 million in new grants will allow the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism to offer the first Master of Arts degree in Entrepreneurial Journalism—and do much more to further the burgeoning field of entrepreneurial journalism…

This two-year program will add business training and research to CUNY’s existing masters in journalism. Students will be trained to launch their own enterprises or work within traditional media companies.

CUNY recently received a $3 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and another $3 million from The Tow Foundation of Wilton, Conn. Additional funding is coming from the McCormick, MacArthur, and Carnegie foundations—as well as in-kind contributions of staff and technology from the CUNY J-School.

CUNY journalism professor and noted blogger Jeff Jarvis will be directing the new Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism. This center will open in October 2010:

According to CUNY’s press release, the Center will will help “create a sustainable future for quality journalism” by:

  • Educating students and mid-career journalists in innovation and business management.
  • Researching relevant topics, such as new business models for news.
  • Developing new journalistic enterprises.

The Center also will open courses to mid-career professional journalists, who would earn a new Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism.

November 15, 2010

News Entrepreneur Boot Camp 2011: Apply now

The Knight Digital Media Center at USC is now accepting applications for its 2011 News Entrepreneur Boot Camp—May 15-20 in Los Angeles.

This intense event includes one week of on-site classes and interaction, plus a six-week online learning/mentoring program. It’s designed for 20 competitively selected digital entrepreneurs who have great ideas for community news and information initiatives in the public interest…

Topics to be covered included:

  • Identifying the best business model for sustained success.
  • Developing a feasibility plan.
  • Audience development and customer acquisition.
  • Developing and implementing revenue and advertising strategies.
  • Successful social networking models.
  • Understanding and using analytics.

The cost of lodging, meals and instruction/coaching plus a subsidy for partial travel are included.

Deadline: January 14, 2011

November 30, 2010

Don’t blame the net for news biz woes, says Reuters Institute

The news business has hit hard times, and often the internet gets the blame for that. But that blame is misplaced, according to a new book from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism…

The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy assesses how the news business has fared in seven nations: Brazil, Germany, Finland, France, India, the UK, and the US.

From the executive summary:

“While the industry has certainly suffered severe declines in revenues in several countries in recent years, the latest downturns seem to be more closely connected with the relative degree of dependence on volatile revenue sources like advertising and on the differential impact of the global recession than with the spread of the internet.

“This is illustrated perhaps most forcefully by the difference between countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, where the private media sector have struggled in recent years—whereas countries like Germany and Finland (with comparable levels of internet penetration and use and strong public service media organisations operating on several platforms) have seen much more stable developments in the business of journalism.

“Both the industry and the profession are changing rapidly as new tools are being appropriated by journalists, sources and audiences, but the supposed crisis is far from universal, and the outcomes of current transformations far from certain.

“The differences identified and documented in this book not only highlight the enduring relevance of inherited national differences in audience demand, market structure and media regulation, but also that, despite deterministic (and often fatalistic) claims to the contrary, there is still time for the business of journalism to reinvent itself and move into the twenty- first century, provided media managers, professional journalists, and policy-makers and the citizens they represent are willing to learn from different developments around the world.”

Purchase this book (hardcover edition, £19.95 plus shipping) from Oxford University Press.

February 15, 2011

The booming data business: Report, conference explore emerging options

News organizations generally don’t think of themselves as data companies, but they are—or at least, most have the potential to develop this business alongside their news and other offerings. A new report and upcoming event from Giga Om could help news orgs figure out where data opportunities might lie, and how to capitalize on them…

>The report Big Data (available to Giga Om Pro subscribers, 7 day free trial) covers the equipment and systems needed to store and manage large databases—or especially complex ones, as might be generated from a content management system and archive of decades’ worth of news stories, or from the web analytics for a complex, dynamic site.

Better data management tools can help journalists and editors analyze or visualize complex issues, especially those buried in unstructured information. It can make your publishing efforts more scalable. And—perhaps most importantly to the news business—it can support advertisers through data, analysis, and services.

These topics and more will be discussed at GigaOm’s March 23 event in New York City, Structure: Big Data 2011. One theme of particular interest to news publishers is how businesses are spinning out separate companies built around their data. The conference is mainly geared toward CIOs and technologists, but news publishers and technology managers might gain strategic insight here.

February 15, 2011

Qualcomm, Opera deal could dramatically boost mobile web audience

Mobile web browsing on feature phones soon may become much easier and more fun, thanks to a just-announced deal that will make Opera Mini the default web browser on new handsets using Qualcomm’s popular BREW MP feature phone platform.

This could be a key breakthrough for news publishers’ mobile strategy…

To give an idea of the scale and speed of this deal, AT&T plans for all of its feature phones to eventually run on Brew MP. These new phones could start appearing in stores in as little as four months.

Feature phones still comprise nearly three-fourths of the US mobile market—and over 90% of feature phones come with a web browser. However, the clunky, limited, slow browsers packaged on most feature phones have been dampening web use in this market segment.

Since feature phones cost much less than smartphones to buy (and for typical monthly bills), and since feature phones are widely available on no-contract plans, they’re likely to remain popular among cost-conscious consumers for several years yet.

More people are accessing more content of all kinds on their mobile devices—but most of this is happening through mobile web browsers, not apps.

A new report from ComScore notes that “Even though applications received much more attention by the media throughout 2010, our analysis in the U.S. ...showed that by a small margin, application usage is still second to browser usage when it comes to the mobile web. For example 36 percent of mobile using Americans ...browsed the mobile web in December 2010, while application access reached 34 percent of Americans.”

It’s generally far easier and cheaper to develop offerings for the mobile web than to build native smartphone apps, with the added benefit that mobile web offerings have a much larger potential audience. The Qualcomm-Opera deal indicates that more than ever, the mobile web might be the best first place for news orgs to focus their initial mobile strategy. Apps are cool—but in a business and market sense, they’re cul-de-sacs.

May 13, 2011

Report: What we know (and don’t) about digital journalism business

Judging from coverage that greeted it, a widely discussed report on the state of digital journalism may be as notable for dinging journalists about what they don’t know, as for discovering what they do about about their fast-changing business.

The 139-page research tome, “The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism,” out this week from Columbia Journalism School, takes a comprehensive look especially at the business side of digital news economics, addressing audience, advertising, subscription paywalls, alternative revenue, staffing costs, and more. The new report follows a related study of similar scope last year, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism,” which controversially called for a government fund to support journalism (see our coverage).

It’s the “the saga of digital journalism as a business (or a lack of one) from the mid-90s through now,” writes’s Staci Kramer of the new study. “It isn’t all dismal but it isn’t pretty.” Capturing the researchers’ conclusion best, notes Columbia’s Emily Bell in the Guardian, may be a line that “leaps out” of the report, in which Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Randall Rothenberg comments: “Here’s the problem ... Journalists just don’t understand their business.”

It’s not just journalists who are having a hard time getting it, Bell adds; in a time of fundamental changes, “commercial departments are equally disoriented.” And no surprise for industry watchers, but advertising is fingered as the key fault line for the news business, per a lengthy writeup in Forbes: “The traditional model where ads are placed next to content is dead, and that it’s time for media companies to redefine their relationships with advertisers.”

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter also zeroes in for his analysis of the report on the idea that journalists must rethink their relationship with advertising, advertisers and audences. “That does not mean yielding editorial control to sponsors, but it might mean coming up with alternatives to impression-based pricing, creating higher-value content for the Web by tapping into page view data, and helping to ensure that Web ads have value on their own.”

The Columbia report does outline a series of nine recommendations for how the industry should move forward, including several related to advertising, others related to editorial content and newsroom structure, and one tamping down expectations on pay models. And an analysis of the report by Poynter’s Bill Mitchell concurs that it does explore some interesting, if controversial advertising alternatives, including custom, advertiser-produced content, as well as to examine alternative viewpoints on audience and aggregation.

Bottom line, as a piece in Mediabistro concludes bluntly: “Journalists need to understand the business side of things much more than they do now.”

There’s a pdf version available, as well as an e-book version of the text, which was co-authored by Bill Grueskin, a former top editor at Wall Street Journal and now a dean at the journalism school, along with a Columbia Business School prof and principal at Quantum Media Ava Seave, and J school researcher Lucas Graves (bios for all three here). CJR also has a Q&A with report authors, and responses from Jan Schaffer, Felix Salmon and Staci Kramer. Plus, you can listen to a podcast of a May 10 panel with report authors and other leading journalism industry figures.

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

July 08, 2011

Knight Foundation sponsors DEMO tech conference, scholarships available

Got a good tech idea you want to pitch to investors? This year the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is sponsoring DEMO, a leading technology investment conference, Sept. 12-14 in Silicon Valley…

Normally it costs about $1000 to attend DEMO, but this year there are 20 scholarships available for startups—including two for women and minority-led digital media companies.

Apply for scholarships

Deadline: July 15

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

October 24, 2011

Crowdsourcing R&D: USA Today starts licensing data for commercial use

News organizations generate lots of stories, and this body of work represents a database with value for reuse. USA Today had offered this data only for personal and noncommercial use, but now they’re open to selling it for use in some commercial projects.

The point may not be to make money directly off licenses, but rather to indirectly expand their business opportunities via crowdsourced R&D…

On Oct. 13 the USA Today developer team announced new commercial terms of use for their articles, reviews and census via its application programming interfaces (APIs).

Nieman Journalism Lab explains that this means USA Today is “offering commercial licensing of its data on a case-by-case basis. Premium licenses would remove rate limits and caps for data-hungry programs, too. That means USA Today can make money selling its data and app developers can make money using it.”

So far, commercial licenses will be granted on a case-by-case basis. No pricing has been announce yet.

In the U.K., the Guardian has been offering a similar “freemium” model for access to content via its Open Platform services since last year. They also recently hosted a two-day internal hackathon to spur development ideas by their staff.

How much revenue can this bring in? In a GigaOm post, Mathew Ingram observed that direct licensing revenues may not be significant, but “it allows for experimentation outside the traditional confines of the publication itself—and that can generate valuable ideas and feedback.”

In other words, commercial licensing of a news organization’s content via an API is a way of outsourcing R&D creativity, to take advantage of expertise and perspectives that are hard to find within most news organizations. Also, developers are more likely to do their best work when they stand to earn a profit. Of course, many news organizations lack the internal tech capabilities to develop their own APIs. But perhaps that represents a market opportunity for developers to assess content databases and develop APIs on behalf of news organizations?

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

December 13, 2011

Digital First Media launching news technology incubator

Yesterday Digital First Media announced that in 2012 it will launch an “investment company” to foster tech startup companies that focus on content, advertising and audience development.

Vice President Jonathan Cooper clarified that the new spinoff, Digital First Ventures, will be more of an incubator than a venture capital firm…

So far few details are available about Digital First Ventures, but in an interview VP Jonathan Cooper clarified: “The idea is to use this to create partnerships with companies that we can work with.”

According to Cooper, eventually the spinoff may invest in other startups, regardless of whether they end up partnering with Digital First for its properties through Journal Register Company or MediaNews Group.

Cooper demurred on whether Alden Global Capital, the secretive hedge fund backing Digital First Media, will play a direct role in choosing or managing investments by Digital First Ventures. He noted that more details about the incubator are coming in early 2012.

In a related note, in a recent presentation, JRC/DFM CEO John Paton observed: “Clearly, we are not digital innovators in the newspaper business. But we are adapters.”

Paton also argued that news publishers should push beyond shovelware to start doing digital media right: “The right uses for the right platforms on the right occasions. And not just the simple re-purposing of content from one platform to another in order of priority.”

On the revenue side, he noted: “JRC is now launching about one new sales product each week. We source centrally and train and implement locally. Our local sales forces call it the ‘The Firehose’—an unending stream of products and ideas because in this transition no one knows what will work unless you try. To fill that firehose requires partnering. And just like in yesterday’s newsroom the old-fashioned closed sales floor didn’t partner very well. That’s now changed.”

And: “It’s time [for the news industry] to step forward into the fight for our markets. Because we can change and we have learned to partner and we already have the scale—as does the rest of the newspaper industry—that just about every content and sales startup is looking for.”

The News for Digital Journalists blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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