Tag Archives: media development loan fund

Why Should Newspapers Offer Online Video News?


If you work in New Media, the answer should be obvious. Nevertheless, there are still many newspapers that don’t understand why. Some merely offer online video as a novelty featured under the title ‘Multimedia.’

Video news should be an integral part of any newspapers online news efforts now that online is the main way that most people in developed countries utilize newspapers. People see and hear, as well as read. Paper limited many news organizations to only text and still photos. However, online liberates all news organizations to be able to satisfy people’s desire to see, hear, and read the news.

Newspapers in less developed countries have an opportunity to jump ahead of most developed countries’ newspapers. This is because newspapers in less developed countries may be relatively new and so don’t have an ingrained legacy of decades or centuries of print practices. They’re immediately able to grasp utilize the best New Media practices, which means making online video an integral practice.

I’m interested in newspapers in less developed countries. For the .past few years I’ve been doing pro bono consulting to the Media Development Loan Fund in Prague. It finances development of objective news organizations in countries that now or in the recent past have suffered under repressive regimes. In November, MDLF flew me to Podgorica, the capital of the Republic of Montenegro, to deliver the opening speech at its Broadcast Design workshop for journalist from newspapers and radio and television stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, South Africa, Russia, and the Ukraine.

Why did this Broadcast Design workshop include journalists from radio and television stations? Because still too few of those news organizations are broadcssting online.

Montenegro’s Televizija Vijesti, the six month-old spinoff of the 11 year-old daily newspaper Vijesti, recorded a few minutes of that speech and a later interview.. You can also view this plus selections of other speakers’ speeches.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Expert at estimating and forecasting the amount of unexpected chores my clients might face when completing tasks, I can woefully underestimate and overlook the unexpected when I’m trying to complete my own. I’m now more than two weeks past when I promised to post the third part of my four part essay Transforming American Newspapers. I didn’t expect the reaction the first two parts received.

I expected negative reactions and disputes from newspaper executives and media academics. The contretemps I received instead were requests from American and European journals to write derivatives of the essay. I’ve written those articles (choosing to write for those trade journals that would pay for the work), but doing so had consumed almost all my free time during the past two weeks, when at Syracuse University I’d simultaneously begun teaching my graduate school class in New Media Business for news organizations, a full-time job in itself.

So, please pardon my delay. Part Three of the essay is written (most of it was written a year ago) and I hope to post it midweek, once I have time to review and edit it one last time. Meanwhile, I has class lectures, slides, and presentations to prepare by Wednesday, and that paid academic work takes precedence over providing free consulting advice online.

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Speaking of academia, I was writing categorically, not personally, when last month I wrote that:

“I went back to school approximately this time last year. I’d hoped that news media academics might have the answers. What I found was that…the academics don’t. In fact, most media academics are even further behind than the industry executives.”

I know dozen of media academics who are very savvy about the problems facing American daily newspapers. So if you’re an academic, you’re probably one of them. Don’t take my criticism of all academics personally.

My criticism of media academics distills to this: In the fields of engineering, medicine, law, science, and computer science, the academics conceive the new theories and solutions, which those industries follow and adopt. But in the field of media, it is the academics who follow the industry. At this time when the media industry is lost and desperately needs new theories and solutions, where is the media academy?

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Did you know that one-third of all the journalists imprisoned worldwide are online journalists? Or that more online journalists are imprisoned than broadcast journalists? Those facts shouldn’t be surprising when you realize that objective journalists who live or report in repressive regimes cannot get broadcast licenses, so they report via online.

I’m formulating a graduate school course next Spring about Using New Media to Circumvent Censorship. I’m hoping to draw upon case studies and experiences from the Media Development Loan Fund, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières), the World Press Freedom Committee>/a>, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Albert Einstein Institute, and other organizations devoted to the free press in repressive regimes. If you happen to know of a case worth study, please let me know.

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Entering an Apple Computers store to purchase a copy of Microsoft Office 2008 for one of my Macintoshes (I use both Macs and PCs), I was surprised to see there are still long lines to purchase iPhones. I wonder how they’ll feel later this year when the first of the gPhones appear in competing stores? The first ‘Google phones’ will be on sale as early as next month.
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American Journalism Review Examines The Faith and Hope in Online

Hope and faith aren’t business plans.

In an article entitled Online Salvation, American Journal Review, examines the continuing delusion among American newspaper executives that their industry’s troubles are somehow ‘cyclical,’ that because newspapers were people’s major source of news for centuries then newspapers will somehow continue to be that major source, that double-digit annual increases in the industry’s relatively small online advertising revenues will ever compensate for the single-digit annaul decreases in the industry’s relatively gargantuan print advertising revenues, and that perhaps fedoras will return in men’s fashions. (OK, I made up that part about hats).

The article quotes Harvard University’s Thomas Patterson as seeing a two-tier news system developing, in which national sites continue to see online traffic increase but online traffic falling at mid-sized and smaller newspaper sites.

I don’t know what data Patterson is seeing, but traffic isn’t falling at smaller sites, though it is at mid-sized newspapers. The reason that traffic is slowly increasing at national and small newspapers is but not at mid-sized newspapers is that people are visiting the sites of national and small newspapers to use those newspapers respective core competencies of national and local news. Mid-sized newspapers have core competency in neither national nor local news (national newspaper do far better at national and the small newspapers that surround the mid-sized ones do far better at local).

I’ve always been amazed by one other article of faith among American newspaper executives, which wasn’t mentioned in this AJR article. That article of faith is American newspaper executives’ belief that the woes of their industry can be reversed at any time. They failed to reverse those woes years ago, but they believe they can reverse them today. And if they fail to reverse those woes today, they believe they can somehow reverse them in the future. Those newspaper executives apparently don’t live in the temporal world. Their faith is like that of perennial sinners who believe they can still go to heaven if they repent in the very last seconds before their deaths. A very convenient belief.

Unfortunately, the reality-based world doesn’t permit ‘eleventh hour’ redemptions and eternal salvation. ‘Windows of opportunity’ are stay open only temporarily, not eternally. Had American newspapers cooperated online years ago, they would have been today’s Google Newes, CraigsLists, and Ebays. But their windows of opportunities to do those things have closed years ago. To do great things now at all, they must work with Google, Yahoo!, CraigsList, Ebay, etc.

In another article, American Journalism Review assesses U.S. newspaper websites’ use of online video:

News organizations are embracing video on their Web sites in a big way. The quality ranges from bad to basic to superb. And for some journalists, the advent of video is a terrific new career opportunity.

On another topic, ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) is the newspaper industry’s latest attempt to control how the online search engines access and index newspaper content. It’s online coding that aims to replace the antiquated robots.txt protocol that still controls how the search engines’ access and index websites.

A driving force behind ACAP is the World Association of Newspapers, which not long ago wanted to prohibit and sue the search engines from accessing and indexing newspapers’ contents. WAN apparently now realizes that that strategy wouldn’t be successful, hence its backing of development of ACAP.

Unfortunately, Google, Yahoo!, and other major search engines aren’t involved or cooperating with the ACAP effort. They would need to be for ACAP to be successful, otherwise their search engines will just ignored the new protocol. Moreover, some of the preliminary reviews of ACAP, even within the newspaper industry, see no benefits in it for consumers.

The Times of London is the first major newspaper to use ACAP.

The Financial Times last week reported that the ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox television networks earned approximately $120 million from video advertising on their websites. That sounds like a lot, but the FT article happened to mention in passing that an estimated $1.3 billion was spent on video advertising on U.S. web sites last year. So, it seems to me that those traditional networks have been losing the lion’s share of it. Meanwhile, the BBC has apparently underestimated the growth of its online revenues.

It’s been a very dangerous year in which to be a journalists. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian noted last week that:

At least 171 journalists and other news media staff have died as a result of their work around the world so far this year, making 2007 the bloodiest year on record for the industry.

With more than a month still to go before the end of the year, the all-time high of 168 deaths recorded in 2006 was exceeded on Tuesday when at least three editorial staff were killed in Sri Lanka during a military air strike on a radio station.

“This horrible statistic should be regarded as a low point in the safety and welfare of the media profession. We need better protection for media workers worldwide,” said the president of the International News Safety Institute (INSI), Chris Cramer.

Last month, I met numerous journalists who’ve been beaten, shot, and almost blown to bits. Here’s what I was doing in Guatemala for the Media Development Loan fund, an organizationt that funds freedom of the press in countries with repressive regimes.

Hey, if anything we produce is now automatically copyrighted when we produce it, tell the copyright lawyers that everytime they sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to their kids, every time they include a full text of a correspondent’s e-mail when they reply to it, and every time they snap a family photo that happens to have an artwork, poster, or advertisement in the background, they are infringing on someone’s else copyright. University of Utah law professor John Tehranian estimates that he himself infringes to the tune of $12.45 million in liabilities each day. What’s your own total?

Totals? Math? Oh, yes, In case you care, the Internet is growing sigmoidally,not exponentially. What would Sigmoid Froid say?