News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Newspapers

November 30, 2011

New Brunswick, Canada: No more free local news

Today the Canadian Journalism Project reports that the province of New Brunswick is “about to become the first place in Canada where readers must pay for local news.”

As early as next week, the family-owned chain Brunswick News Inc. will end free access to the websites of 26 of its papers: 18 English-language and eight French. This comprises all but one of NB’s English-language papers.

BNI’s paywall will be absolute: No free online content at all. “According to those familiar with the new system, every single scrap of content will have a price. No one will get free access to any part of the newspaper websites run by the Brunswick News subsidiary,” reports CJP.

This is different from the “metered paywalls” implemented at the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun and several local papers owned by MediaNews Group—which allow free access to a limited amount of stories, and beyond that visitors must pay for further content.

In terms of print dailies, BNI doesn’t have much competition in the province, and it has more reporters in NB than the CBC. So it’s possible that, at least for awhile, it may have a captive paying audience for local news. But this move could create a market opportunity for digital news startups in the province.

Hat tip to GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram

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 06, 2011

NAA: Mobile traffic to news venues up 65% since last year

According to the Newspaper Association of America, mobile pageviews for news websites and apps are up 65% compared to a year ago…

“Many newspapers reported triple-digit page view increases to their mobile sites and apps,” said the NAA announcement. “NAA’s analysis is based on traffic figures for more than 20 newspaper media companies—large and small, public and private—that supplied year-over-year internal measurements of mobile page view traffic and unique visitors from September 2010 and September 2011. Unique visitor count increases ranged as high as 200%, with an average increase of about 70% for the publishers reporting.” 

The trouble with measuring the growth of mobile news audiences is that—especially for mobile apps, but sometimes also for dynamic or HTML5 mobile websites—the concept of a “pageview” can be rather nebulous and thus complex to gauge.

Also, this study did not take into account mobile traffic or engagement that happens via the social media presences maintained by news organizations.

Randy Bennett, NAA’s senior VP for business development, acknowledged that in this research NAA asked only for total metrics across websites and apps. “We understand that there are some inconsistencies in how news organizations report that data,” he said. “We didn’t attempt to track or separate out apps vs. sites.”

While this research did not uniformly gather data to compare mobile traffic to overall traffic, Bennett noted: “Anecdotally, some news organizations reported that 7-12% of traffic is now coming from mobile.”

NAA will be discussing mobile news traffic and trends in more detail in its upcoming benchmarking study, which is due out in early 2012. “We’ll have data from individual newspapers to get more detail one usage for different mobile device types and platforms,” said Bennett.

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.

March 14, 2012

Federal court backs fair use, punishes copyright troll

The principle of fair use just got a significant legal boost. Last week a federal judge ordered the controversial firm Righthaven to forfeit all of the copyrights it had been enforcing on behalf of publishers…

In their detailed analysis of the decision, the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted: “The judgment—part of the nuisance lawsuit avalanche started by copyright troll RighthavenDemocratic Underground did not infringe the copyright in a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article when a user of the online political forum posted a five-sentence excerpt, with a link back to the newspaper’s website.

“Judge Roger Hunt’s judgment confirms that an online forum is not liable for its users’ posts, even if it was not protected by the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice and takedown provisions. The decision also clarifies that a common practice on the Internet—excerpting a few sentences and linking to interesting articles elsewhere—is a fair use, not an infringement of copyright.”

Previously, MediaNews Group entered into a deal with Righthaven that allowed Righthaven to sue infringers of content from the Denver Post and other MNG papers, and the two organizations would share the proceeds. Last summer, when Digital First took over management of MNG papers, CEO John Paton severed ties with Righthaven—calling it a “dumb idea.”

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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