Online media

Posts focusing on the technology and business of online media and publishing. Related subjects include:

January 18, 2012

SOPA’s potentially chilling effect on public debate

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is getting blasted all over the Internet. Even so, one of its major dangers has not yet been widely discussed. People seem to realize that SOPA can create censorship by governments, or businesses, or as collateral damage when governments and businesses pursue other interests. But they may not yet grasp that SOPA can allow individuals to stifle free speech as well.

To quote the owner of a popular sports fan discussion forum (emphasis mine):

The problem is several of the provisions in SOPA will force ISPs hosting websites (ie: the company that hosts our servers) to potentially disconnect us from the Internet if there’s a claim – unsubstantiated or not – that we’re infringing against copyright, regardless of if it has not been fully proved in court. The argument is that this would make it easy for someone to make false or weak claims against the site to take a us offline until we went to court.

That’s a headache I’m not prepared to deal with. The number of threats I get each year via e-mail from angry members from other teams we remove are pretty unreal and obviously you guys don’t see them, so giving any additional ammunition backed up by a law like this would be a potentially huge issue. I’ve been talking with other sites and it’s a very real concern that we’re all potentially going to be faced with if this goes through, unless it’s rewritten to better target the sites that are really the ones they’re looking to address.

And that’s just from the passions of sports fandom. The passions of the politics — or the commercial interests of those being criticized — are of even greater concern.

Indeed, SOPA-like legislation creates an easy way to take down any forum, blog, or other site that allows user-generated content: flood it with copyrighted content, then run to the regulators. We must never, ever, ever accept a legal regime in which publishers may be censored before they are PROVED to be guilty of wrongdoing.

January 17, 2012

Freemium journalism business models, or the Launch of the Spawn of TechCrunch

In case you missed it, Sarah Lacy has launched Pando Daily, aka “Spawn of TechCrunch”. It has a clear mission statement, which she phrased as

the site-of-record for that startup root-system and everything that springs up from it, cycle-after-cycle

and mentor/investor/board member Mike Arrington simply called

to be the paper of record for Silicon Valley

That, I believe, is in the form a journalistic mission statement should take:

But there’s a problem with that template. One would ideally wish a mission statement of the form “We do the best A” to be followed up by “and, obviously, people will pay lots of money for A”. Journalistic mission statements don’t have that nice property.

Fortunately, at least in the case of tech blogging, they do tend to have a nice substitute. Let me explain.

Read more

October 24, 2010

Notes, links, and comments, October 24, 2010

Time for a notes/links/comments post just for Text Technologies:  Read more

September 28, 2010

A framework for thinking about New Media journalism

Jonathan Stray reminds us of an excellent point:

New Media journalism should be thought of as a product that people use, not as collection of stories or other pieces.

In particular, he argues:

I am in vehement agreement with much of what Stray has to say, although I think he understates the importance of general knowledge and the often serendipitous benefits of pursuing same. Read more

September 26, 2010

How to preserve investigative reporting in the New Media Era

It is common to say that “On the whole, journalism will be fine even as the media industry is disrupted – but the investigative part of journalism may not fare so well.” Indeed, I took something like that stance in my May, 2009 post on where the information ecosystem is headed and even more directly in an earlier piece that month. However, I’ve changed my mind in an optimistic direction, and now believe:

There are still some things we need to do to preserve and extend the societal benefits of investigative reporting. But they are straightforward and very likely to happen.

Specifically, I recommend:  Read more

April 4, 2010

Ike Pigott on the future of reporting

Ike Pigott argues that, as the number of conventional journalists plummets, corporations will have to hire their own “embedded” journalists to fill the void. Read more

May 23, 2009

TechCrunch offers to pay a source’s legal expenses

A recent TechCrunch post recapitulates its dispute with CBS and, reiterates its confidence in its accusations, and closes with

And to the CBS employee who was fired and threatened based on this story – we believe certain U.S. Whistle Blower laws may protect you from retaliation from CBS in this matter. We’d like to provide you with legal counsel at our cost.

That’s a remarkable offer to make, one that is very rare for traditional media to match. As such, it’s a strong (albeit very partial) answer to the ongoing handwringing about the future of investigative journalism. Read more

May 17, 2009

Monetization strategies for the New York Times

In his remarks about my recent post that he aptly characterizes as “A Consumer-Centric View of Business Models for Publishing,” Daniel Tunkelang notes that I didn’t directly address the premium/freemium strategy he favors for the New York Times, namely monetizing community. As Daniel puts it,

But community can’t be copied. Even if you mirrored all of this blog’s content and put someone else’s name on it, the comment threads would still live here. You could copy those too, but only the readers who came here could participate in the conversation, and I believe that would still draw most of you.

Frankly, I don’t think that would work. Good blog commenters are precious, generously donating their own time and thought to build up your content. Could one charge people to read that? Maybe. But charging people to write great content for you seems like one barrier too many, and I’m not sure how to charge them to read without also charging them to write. That said, various forums (i.e., message boards) offer premium forums, so at least for some lifestyle business owners the approach seems to be worth pursuing.

Other strategies to consider include: Read more

May 17, 2009

The 4 reasons anybody ever consumes information (or opinion), and what that tells us about business models

The online world is abuzz with discussion about the future economic models of the publishing industry. It might help in evaluating various proposals to consider why anybody might possibly want to pay money or attention for information or opinion, whether delivered in published or personal-communication form. Since this is a very long post, I’ll put a few of the conclusions here up top, namely:

Those conclusions, in turn, are based on the theory that the the best selling proposition for decision-supporting information and information technologies is:

Keeps you fully and conveniently informed about subject area X, where X is important to you. Read more

April 1, 2009

April Fool’s spoof re newspapers, social media

The Guardian says all its articles will be published on Twitter, in 140 characters or less. Very well played.

A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper’s archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include “1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”; “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more”; and “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?”

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