Posts tagged business

Journalism Entrepreneurship 101

Takeaways from Dan Gillmor's media entrepreneurship training program for journalism educators. Useful for everyone.

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor
To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:
Via Patton Oswalt: 

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier: 

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton: 

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us. 

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:
Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

SpaghettiO’s Posts Offensive Tweet About Pearl Harbor

To “honor” Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, SpaghettiO’s tweeted a photo of a grinning cartoon SpaghettiO holding an American flag. The brand was immediately met with the backlash on Twitter:

Via Patton Oswalt

Dear @SpaghettiOs: Genuinely afraid to scroll back & see what you Tweeted on the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination.

Via Mack Collier:

.@SpaghettiOs You don’t ask others to remember a military tragedy by putting the focus on your brand mascot. NEVER make it about you.

Via Will Wheaton:

What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? RT @SpaghettiOs: Take a moment to remember with us.

Eventually, SpaghettiO’s had no choice but to apologize:

Via SpaghettiOs: 

We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.

Image: Mashable

In the good old days, the journalism business was subsidized by all of the other things a newspaper contained apart from the news. This included classified ads, obviously, but also horoscopes, gardening columns, the comic page and other add-ons that had little or nothing to do with news or journalism. Gradually the internet has taken most of these pillars away, and left newspapers with just the hard news — in other words, the only thing no one wants to pay for.

Mathew Ingram, paidContent: The unfortunate fact is that online journalism can’t survive without a wealthy benefactor or cat GIFS, 

FJP: A sad but true summary of how news was subsidized in the past, and what its options are today.

UPS to Test 3D Printing Service

Starting in San Diego stores, the UPS Store will conduct its first test for 3D printing services. With Stratasys printers and production systems, UPS will offer the service to startups, small businesses, and other retail customers. Daniel Remba, small business technology leader at UPS, talked to Forbes about the service:

We conducted a poll using in our Small Business Panel (which consists of 86 businesses in and around San Diego) to gauge their interest in 3D printing. They listed multiple reasons for using the technology from artistic rendering to making prototypes. In addition, we found that many customers interested in 3D printing did not have skills or software to produce 3D files. So, we decided to test the service as a complete package from design to printing.

[…]Depending on the physical size and complexity of the object being printed, 3D print jobs can take anything from a few hours for simple projects to more than 24 hours to for large and complex projects. Similarly, we are also testing design services for customers. Our experience is that designing objects also depends on the mode and nature of interaction between customers and the designer. At our first test store in San Diego, the designer works with customers over phone, video conference, and in person.

Video: Youtube, The UPS Store’s 3D Printing service announcement (Runtime - 1:51)

Related: The fashion industry’s 3D printing experimentation and the 3D Burritobot prototype, which burrito connoisseur Jihii deems as “genius.”

Innovation and Creativity in Large Companies

Mark Golin, Editorial Director of Digital for Time Inc.’s Style & Entertainment and Lifestyle Groups, discusses the culture of creativity in large companies and what can be done to better foster innovation.

In a tumultuous publishing climate, innovation often holds the key to success, he explains. But fostering innovation in a company as large as Time is difficult, especially due to its structure; essentially, it’s a family of brands in which the communication of ideas is tricky to facilitate across divisions. For this reason, one of Golin’s biggest focuses is to come up with best practices for fostering creativity.

But not all creativity is created equal. Golan’s a believer in practical creativity rather than creativity for creativity’s sake and is not alone.

Clark Strategic Communications CEO Dorie Clark, for example, highlights the difference between conceptual and theoretical creativity and how to foster each in an organization. Similarly, Jonah Lehrer (plagiarism scandal aside), explores different innovating techniques in the workplace in this interview with NPR.

In this video, Golin shares his thoughts on the culture of brainstorming in a large company, and how to efficiently navigate the boundary between testing out new ideas and coming up with ideal solutions.

Bonus: This TED Talk playlist on where good ideas come from.

Visit the theFJP.org to see more videos with Mark.

Calling all SF Lady Journos: Meet Lady Media Innovators
Her Girl Friday, a Brooklyn based group dedicated to empowering and fostering community among women in journalism and nonfiction storytelling, is hosting a free event in SF on March 7. We like their mission and their work and have posted about it before. 
The gap of women in media is big and according to today’s Al Jazeera op-ed, it’s critical to the planet. Some facts from the piece:
Between January and November 2012, in a study of 37 newspapers from the New York Times to the Traverse City Record Eagle in Michigan, women were quoted in 20 percent of all stories about the election. 
According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2012 Newsroom Census, 34 percent of employees in supervising positions in newsrooms were women, the same percentage as in 1999. 
In TV news, 39.8 percent of the workforce at all stations is women, compared to 32.7 percent of those working at all radio stations. 
On a list leaked last week of 44 journalists who sit on the Pulitzer Prize nominating committee, 28 are men and 16 are women. 
So, in an era of continued disparity combined with digital disruption and incredible amounts of innovation, HGF’s event features four inspiring woman innovators and the incredible work they’ve been doing. Details here.

Calling all SF Lady Journos: Meet Lady Media Innovators

Her Girl Friday, a Brooklyn based group dedicated to empowering and fostering community among women in journalism and nonfiction storytelling, is hosting a free event in SF on March 7. We like their mission and their work and have posted about it before

The gap of women in media is big and according to today’s Al Jazeera op-ed, it’s critical to the planet. Some facts from the piece:

  • Between January and November 2012, in a study of 37 newspapers from the New York Times to the Traverse City Record Eagle in Michigan, women were quoted in 20 percent of all stories about the election.
  • According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2012 Newsroom Census, 34 percent of employees in supervising positions in newsrooms were women, the same percentage as in 1999.
  • In TV news, 39.8 percent of the workforce at all stations is women, compared to 32.7 percent of those working at all radio stations. 
  • On a list leaked last week of 44 journalists who sit on the Pulitzer Prize nominating committee, 28 are men and 16 are women. 

So, in an era of continued disparity combined with digital disruption and incredible amounts of innovation, HGF’s event features four inspiring woman innovators and the incredible work they’ve been doing. Details here.

We in the newsroom should have no illusions. Our entire purpose is to fill the “news hole,” which is the space left over after the advertisements have been placed on the page.

Theodore Daws in The Fall of Journalism, American Thinker.

Dawes, a long-time journalist, criticizes idealism and naivete in young journalists (in other words: those who think the industry is something other than a business that needs to make money), as well as j-school and false understandings of journalism ethics:

Of course, everyone overvalues the academic training they’ve received.  It makes the debt, hassle, and spent time seem worthwhile, or at least less futile.

And imagine the thrill of using “lede,” which is the new spelling of lead, as in the opening sentence of a story.  Its use provides the pleasing sensation of possessing specialized knowledge, knowledge well beyond the ken of the average Joe.

That is particularly pleasant to those who know so very little about everything else.

For example, I always ask job candidates a second question: “What is the difference between regulation and legislation?

Only one j-school graduate has ever known the answer.  That was because, he sheepishly provided, he had worked as a legislative assistant the summer prior.

Tell me, please.  How do you prepare a student for a career as a “government watchdog” and fail to provide the most fundamental instruction in how government works?

As befits their lofty status and lofty purpose, journalists work under a lofty ethical construct.  Unfortunately, it is as flawed and juvenile as their journalistic purpose.

On occasion the ethical imperatives are simply incompatible, for example: 1) saving the world and 2) journalistic objectivity. 

This illustrates perfectly an important fact: journalistic ethics weren’t arrived at philosophically or accidentally.

As is the case with many codes of ethics, the ethics of those in the journalism industry have as one of their primary purposes the maintenance of the status quo, particularly the economic status quo.

Read on.

FJP: Would love to see a rebuttal to this.

Why Every Company Needs a Journalist (for Marketing)

Soshable:

Every company who wants to reach the highest level of success in online marketing going forward needs to have someone acting as a journalist for the company. They needs someone who collects, writers, and distributes news and other information about the company, the industry, the customers, the local area – anything that has relevance from a marketing perspective. This hasn’t always been the case. Until very recently, a good SEO content writer would suffice as long as they had some skills to put together a nice press release every now and then. SEO content was all that you really needed to succeed.

Today and going forward, that’s no longer the case.

JD Rucker, Editor of Soshable, offers up four major arenas in which humans—namely journalists  who will interact, discuss, interview, hear and see on your behalf—do better than outsourced SEO content writers:

  1. Search Rankings
  2. Social Sharing
  3. Public Relations
  4. Humanized Businesses

FJP: Read the piece here. There is a part 2 coming. 

Modern Media Revenue Strategies: A Panel From The Columbia Media Conference

Six of the sharpest minds in the business of journalism just sat down to discuss the strategies they’re using now, and where they’re laying bets for the future.

The FJP was in the audience, and has paraphrased the discussion below. 

The Highlights:

  • McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn saying that ALL of their print clients believe their future is in video.
  • The Awl’s Choire Sicha spilling the beans on which popular advertising unit is a huge waste of money.
  • Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg saying that young journalists should be considering making branded content for The New York Times, Huffington Post and everyone else.
  • Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg talking about where their traffic comes from.
  • Slate’s Matt Turck talking their multi-pronged revenue model.
  • McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn saying the tablet and smartphone advertising spend will grow from $1B in 2011 to $4B in 2012.

The Panel 

The conversation started with the panel members discussing the models they think are going to work.

Reminder; what follows paraphrases the conversation, with some omissions.

Matt Turck, publisher of Slate

When we first put a paywall up we had 20,000 people at $20 year at the first try. But that was not enough revenue to run a business.

If we’ve got the right people and ideas we can give the content away and it’s a viable business, that said we’re looking for new revenue; for example we’re in the events space. We syndicate a lot of our content, selling our high quality journalism to other publications at a low cost. We partner with YouTube, and there are a number of other small things; We’re experimenting with creating a membership program so that people who join get free entry to some events, and access to our editors that they wouldn’t get.

Buzzfeed’s president and COO Jon Steinberg.

The question is not how do you create a journalism revenue. It’s how do you create a robust business that can also support journalism. Conde Naste and Hearst have not made the transition to new models.

Harper’s Magazine, Vice President for Public Relations Jason Chupick

Any and all brand extensions that play off our tradition (which goes back to Mark Twain and Herman Melville) are on the table. Whereas a lot of people are focussed on short, quick journalism, we’re looking at going more towards long form. To re-invent what we have now would be extraordinarily hard, but we don’t need to be a big organization, we’re a non-profit.

Columbia Journalism School’s Dean of Academic Affairs Bill Grueskin.

(He said that despite having been the Managing Editor Online and Deputy Managing Editor of News for the Wall Street Journal, which had a very successful paywall, he said he didn’t believe that paywalls are a good solution for most publications) 

The WSJ now has more than 1,000,000 subscribers, paying between $75 & $150/year, but even when I was there we realized that the subscription model was a problem for advertisers, and this is the WSJ. Therefore we opened up so that google, email, social traffic could get in for free, and provide the amount of traffic that would be attractive to advertisers.

Paywalls are a defensive move, to protect the print products that represent 70-80% of revenue, but it’s time to go from defense to offense (actually it was about 5 years ago). 

McKinsey & Co’s Associate Principal, Media & Entertainment Practice, Jonathan Dunn

There are two big trends in the space: Video and the importance of data. 

Advertising revenue is breaking into two segments; premium (when you know you’ve got a audience with a particular ) and ‘remnant’, the low-end of not-particularly targeted. 

We don’t have a single print client who doesn’t see their future as video-based because the advertising on video is much more valuable. 

Regarding the importance of data; you must know in deatil who your audience is so you can effectively advertise them, and find relevant new opportunities. These days potential investors in media businesses don’t even want to talk to founders, the only thing they want to see is the analytics of the audience.

The AWL’s Founder and Editor In Chief Choire Sicha.

As a small independently-owned company, how big can we get? We aren’t expecting to scale. But that’s OK; The business models of each publication are intrinsically linked to their backgrounds and missions.

Buzzfeed’s  Jon Steinberg: 

Even in the glory days of magazines, most publications were never bigger than a mid-sized, but scale isn’t necessarily the key. For a recent advertising contract, Buzzfeed was competing with Awl, a much smaller site. But Awl still won contracts off the bigger buzz feed because their creative and audience was more attractive. Awl had enough inventory to fulfill that advertiser’s needs, because unless the client is the size of McDonalds, and is aiming to reach huge broad audiences, mid-sized audiences at OK.

Slate’s Matt Turck.

The unique solution that you build for your advertising partners is the key.  

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

The reason that there’s a debate about whether banners are good is that they’re crap. If a product is good there’s no debate.

At this point, the conversation moved on to whether tablets are a real opportunity.

Harper’s Jason Chupick

We’re on zinio, but it’s a stop-gap for most magazines, the PDF-like experience isn’t good enough. Tablets are the place to be if you’re a long-form magazine. Interactive firms need to hire better content creators. Making high quality interactive experiences is going to get cheaper. [Cited The Atavist, a tablet and smartphone-native publishing platform]

You’re going to have to show growth across all platforms for advertisers to be interested.

McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn

Our best guess is that $1B of advertising went to tablet or smartphone advertising in 2011, which is basically ad agencies’ experimental budget, but in 2012 we calculate that figure will be $4B, and in 2013 it’ll be $5B-$8B.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

I don’t think the app thing is worthwhile. 40% of our site traffic is from mobile. Having a mobile strategy is like having a laptop strategy five years ago.

When asked about apps, ‘there are a lot of things people think that aren’t based on data’.

If people looked at the data which says no-one remembers the welcome screen advertisers, they’d be a lot better off.

The Awl’s Choire Sicha

No-one ever sees the advertisements at the top of a webpage. We’ve seen the research that shows everyone immediately scrolls down a little bit when they visit a page for the first time [to hide the top banner ads].

Columbia Journalism School’s Bill Grueskin

One of the big problems from the newspaper industry is that they’ve asked how they can repurpose their print content, but most newspaper content doesn’t work well and it stymies them from developing new content that is native to the new platforms.

The Awl’s Choire Sicha

There is no right answer about whether to put print content online for free; it depends entirely on the product and category.

The conversation turned to social media.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

We get double the traffic from Facebook than we do from google, and that’s the same throughout our network.

Google’s algorithm is too unpredictable. So Facebook, which is real human beings sharing your content is a much more sustainable way of building audience.

Slate’s Matt Turck

 We’ve got 450,000 followers on twitter, 250,000 on Facebook. We’re having more and more conversations with readers on Facebook, our editor gets questions from the Facebook audience for his interviews.

At this point, the conversation moved on to the skills young journalists should get themselves.

Columbia Journalism School’s Bill Grueskin

You still need to know how to get information, verify it, present it in a compelling way, and understand what your audience needs.

I’m not a fan of the swiss army knife journalist who can do a hundred things, but none of them well.

Being able to engage readers on social media, not just as a distribution process, but to help you understand what your audience needs and what your community knows about the story you’re working on.

If you can do all of that you can go to a news organization and make a compelling case about why you should be hired.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

There are a whole lot of journos, (Nate Silver, Ben Smith) who have become little industries in themselves.

Advertising is an amazing industry, that you can love and be inspired by.

If you read the advertising titans’ books you’ll be inspired.

There’s a massive need for journalists to make branded content. If you can do that, you can go to everyone, Huffpo, NYT, Buzzfeed who will need your ability.

Slate’s Matt Turck

Now more than ever before the individuals have become brands. If you can build a following, there’s not a publication out there who won’t take a look at you.

You’ve got to keep changing so fast with the industry. Embrace Change.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg 

Going back to the branded content topic; you need to have a solid wall between branded content and the rest. At Buzzfeed we have an absolute separation, between the two sides of our business, both in the organization and on the site. Every day we put content up on our sites that will annoy our advertisers.

As noted above, this paraphrases the discussion and omits some of the conversation. If you can add, or refine the article, please email Fergus Pitt.

Disclosure: Bill Grueskin is the author’s masters thesis supervisor.

Video Store Psychology
In hindsight it’s obvious that LPs were better than eight-tracks, and that CDs and their walkmans/discmans/what-have-you-mans wouldn’t survive the iPod age. And don’t forget tapes — tapes had no chance.
But what’s more psychologically interesting is the cult of the LP — an obsolete disc, useless without its heavy player. Decades after it was pushed aside by technology and business, there are still people who will buy, say, a Postal Service album on vinyl. Which leads me to my only point today — it’s bloody interesting to see where technologically obsolete, unprofitable items and businesses go after they’ve been swept aside
Yesterday, Atlantic Cities covered the strange fate of the humble, quirky movie rental store. One quote, from a store owner named David Hawkins, catches my eye:

"We’re the new barbershop," he says. "There are fewer places these days just to hang out. Cafes are no longer as social, and if you don’t go to bars there are so few new social gatherings popping up. I worry that if we let all of video stores close, our neighborhoods will be a lot less interesting."

Something like this will happen somewhere in journalism, sometime after we’ve moved  further in the direction of tablets and mobile.
Maybe we’ll dress like our grandparents, order black coffee in a diner and savor the crackle of an old newspaper. Maybe we will read the news in groups and berate the daily me-ness of our devices. Or we may have to become armchair historians, because the newspapers we will have found by then will be among the last to have ever been printed, sometime around five years from now (my prediction.) - Blake

Video Store Psychology

In hindsight it’s obvious that LPs were better than eight-tracks, and that CDs and their walkmans/discmans/what-have-you-mans wouldn’t survive the iPod age. And don’t forget tapes — tapes had no chance.

But what’s more psychologically interesting is the cult of the LP — an obsolete disc, useless without its heavy player. Decades after it was pushed aside by technology and business, there are still people who will buy, say, a Postal Service album on vinyl. Which leads me to my only point today — it’s bloody interesting to see where technologically obsolete, unprofitable items and businesses go after they’ve been swept aside

Yesterday, Atlantic Cities covered the strange fate of the humble, quirky movie rental store. One quote, from a store owner named David Hawkins, catches my eye:

"We’re the new barbershop," he says. "There are fewer places these days just to hang out. Cafes are no longer as social, and if you don’t go to bars there are so few new social gatherings popping up. I worry that if we let all of video stores close, our neighborhoods will be a lot less interesting."

Something like this will happen somewhere in journalism, sometime after we’ve moved  further in the direction of tablets and mobile.

Maybe we’ll dress like our grandparents, order black coffee in a diner and savor the crackle of an old newspaper. Maybe we will read the news in groups and berate the daily me-ness of our devices. Or we may have to become armchair historians, because the newspapers we will have found by then will be among the last to have ever been printed, sometime around five years from now (my prediction.) - Blake

Andie Tucher on Profit in Journalism

Here’s another video from our conversation with Andie Tucher, director of Columbia Journalism School’s Ph.D. program. She discusses the history of profit in journalism, and the antagonism between journalism being a public service while also having to turn a profit.

Bonus: For extensive FJP coverage of the conversation around journalism and business models see here.

I think it’s the beginning of the end of the valley as we know it. Silicon Valley historically would invest in science, and technology, and, you know, actual silicon. If you were a good VC you could make $100 million. Now there’s a new pattern created by two big ideas. First, for the first time ever, you have computer devices, mobile and tablet especially, in the hands of billions of people. Second is that we are moving all the social needs that we used to do face-to-face, and we’re doing them on a computer.

And this trend has just begun. If you think Facebook is the end, ask MySpace. Art, entertainment, everything you can imagine in life is moving to computers. Companies like Facebook for the first time can get total markets approaching the entire population…

…But Silicon Valley is screwed as we know it.

If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I’m going to pick? If you’re a VC firm, you’re tossing out your life science division. All of that stuff is hard and the returns take forever. Look at social media. It’s not hard, because of the two forces I just described, and the returns are quick.
Steve Blank, professor, Berkeley and Stanford, discussing the Facebook IPO with the Atlantic. The Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over, and We’re Dancing on its Grave
In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper. The many locales served by the newspapers we are acquiring fall firmly in this mold and we are delighted they have found a permanent home with Berkshire Hathaway.

Warren Buffet, founder, Bershire Hathaway, in a statement announcing the fund’s purchase of almost all newspapers currently owned by Media General, 63 titles in all mostly located in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.

Via Yahoo Finance:

A subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, BH Media Group, will purchase all of the newspapers owned by Media General, with the exception of the Tampa group, for $142 million in cash. Media General said it is in discussions with other prospective buyers for its Tampa print assets.

Under a separate credit agreement, Berkshire Hathaway will provide Media General with a $400 million term loan and a $45 million revolving credit line. The new loan will be used to fully repay the company’s existing bank debt due March 2013 and will mature in May 2020. In conjunction with this, Media General will issue Berkshire Hathaway penny warrants for approximately 4.6 million Class A shares, which represents 19.9 percent of Media General’s existing shares outstanding. In addition, Berkshire Hathaway has the option to nominate a director to Media General’s Board of Directors.

Possible Takeaway: It’s good to have one of the world’s richest  people on your side.

New York Times Give Red Sox the Boo

Via the New York Times:

The New York Times has sold its remaining stake in the Fenway Sports Group, the company that owns the Boston Red Sox, the latest in a continuing effort to shed assets unrelated to the company’s flagship newspaper…

…In 2002, The Times paid $75 million for a 17.75 percent stake in Fenway. But the 2008 recession and the steady decline of print advertising revenue at newspapers like The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune, has prompted the company to shed its nonessential assets.

As a Boston fan who knows the Red Sox suck, nonessential? Harsh.