Media Dinosaurs Look To Set Up iTunes For News

from the haven't-we-seen-this-before? dept

Well, there they go again. Three big “media” names, who have been trying to convince themselves that there are enough people out there clamoring for someone to give them a way to pay for news, have decided to put together a company that will do just that. Stephen Brill, L. Gordon Crovitz and Leo Hindery Jr. have teamed up to create a system to charge for news, with the idea that any newspaper can sign up and use their system. Clay Shirky calls this an RIAA for news, while Mathew Ingram points out that it may be more accurate to call it an iTunes for news.

The problem, of course, is that this is all based on the faulty theory that people want an iTunes for news. This, of course, is great for other newspapers who know better, and decide to skip out on this plan, and get all the traffic that these newspapers give up. As Jeff Jarvis points out, in looking for news about this very venture, he was blocked by the paywall at some sites, and found the best coverage at a free site.

And, of course, it’s especially ironic that Stephen Brill is behind this. That’s because he’s tried this before and it failed. Miserably. Meanwhile, Hindery in the past has shown that he also is one of those guys who tends to overvalue content and undervalue everything else people do online (communicate, share, discuss). This whole model is based on this single faulty assumption: that it’s the news itself that’s important to people. It’s not. The news is important, but people want to be able to share the news, spread the news and discuss the news — and you can’t do that when it’s behind a paywall. The very act of putting up a paywall diminishes the value of the content.

Still, it’s a great opportunity for competitors of any newspaper short-sighted enough to sign up for this program.

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Comments on “Media Dinosaurs Look To Set Up iTunes For News”

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40 Comments
Tgeigs says:

Psychology of writers

“Hindery in the past has shown that he also is one of those guys who tends to overvalue content”

As someone who enjoys writing and is currently trying to get a first novel published, one thing I’ve read OVER AND OVER again in literature on writing is something similar to, “It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own writing, to try and put on a show with your words, to make YOUR WRITING the star of the show. It isn’t. The story is the star and you’re simply a vehicle to tell the story.”

Since Watergate journalists have become the stars, because viewers have allowed it, mostly because they didn’t have many other choices. Now we do. I want to know about the struggle off the shores in Somalia, NOT what Mike Wallace thinks about that struggle. I want a historical perspective on Russian views of American influence abroad, NOT Sean Hannity’s perspective.

It’s over, your time has passed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Psychology of writers

Exactly! Journalists are tired of sitting on the sidelines and reporting the news; they now want to participate in it and even create it. This is the real problem with journalism; not the internet. I am tired of biased news; I want facts.

For instance; check the NYT article stating 90% of illegal guns in Mexico come from the US. Now check an article from Fox News earlier this month showing that 90% of traced guns come from the US which amounts to 17% of the confiscated guns. The other 83% aren’t traced in the US because they have no serial number (meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number) or are the kinds of guns not legal in the US. No, I don’t mean to make this statement about gun rights vs. control; it is only used to point out the bias of journalists.

The other problem is the need for 24×7 news. A story is run immediately with or without the facts. Just check the recent article about the Columbine shootings 10 years ago. According to the new article; almost nothing that was reported at the time is true. Of course, maybe the new article isn’t true? Who knows; the journalists sure don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Psychology of writers

The other 83% aren’t traced in the US because they have no serial number (meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number)…

Um, no. Regardless of country of origin, if a gun doesn’t have a serial number it most likely means that it was removed, not that it never had one.

Virtually all manufacturers put serial numbers on the guns they manufacture. It is not some kind of a “US only” thing and if Fox said so then they are the ones being misleading. If Fox didn’t say so and you’re making stuff up then you’re the one being misleading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Psychology of writers

Since you are too lazy to become informed yourself here is the quote: “Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News. Was it filed off or did it come from somewhere that doesn’t put them on? Who knows. Maybe you do since you know that “virtually all” gun manufacturers put serial numbers on their guns.

Oh, Fox reported what the ICE agent told them so maybe it was neither Fox or I, but the ICE agent who is misleading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Psychology of writers

Since you are too lazy to become informed yourself

Maybe you do since you know that “virtually all” gun manufacturers put serial numbers on their guns.

OK, inform me. Which ones don’t? And do they represent 83% of the market? (I suspect that I’m more informed than you realize)

Oh, Fox reported what the ICE agent told them so maybe it was neither Fox or I, but the ICE agent who is misleading.

Well, if you can provide a link quoting one of them saying “meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number” then I’ll blame them. Otherwise, it’s looking like you’re the one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Psychology of writers

Reading comprehension at it’s best. I said, quoting the article, that they weren’t traced because they had no serial number or were the kind that aren’t in the US. So whether they have no number or no discernible number I don’t know. It also doesn’t say what percentage of each either. So you jump to conclusions about it and get mad when busted for it. Grow up please.

BTW, have you ever bought a Russian or Chinese gun in Russia or China? Do you know for sure that they have serial numbers? Or do you just assume that since the US does it everyone does? My guess is you fall into the later category.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Psychology of writers

So whether they have no number or no discernible number I don’t know.

Ahem, let me quote you: “meaning not sold in US because they have to have a serial number”. Despite your assertion, I still say that just because a gun doesn’t have a serial number doesn’t mean that it was never sold in the US. If you want to deny saying that, I would like to remind you that your original comment is preserved above for everyone to see.

So you jump to conclusions about it and get mad when busted for it.

I have no idea what makes you think I’m mad, because I’m not. And so far, you’re the only one getting busted, whether you like to admit it or not.

Grow up please.

Ad hominems really don’t do much for your argument or image.

BTW, have you ever bought a Russian or Chinese gun in Russia or China? Do you know for sure that they have serial numbers? Or do you just assume that since the US does it everyone does? My guess is you fall into the later category.

As a matter of fact, I have seen plenty of both and all that were in original condition had manufacturing serial numbers. Like I said, I suspect that I know more about the subject than you realize.

Now, I asked you to name manufacturers that don’t put serial numbers on their guns and you have failed to do so. I am now more convinced than ever that you are just making stuff up, which is kind of ironic coming from someone complaining about journalists “creating” news. Too funny, really. But perhaps not too surprising coming from someone that also seems to consider Fox News a reliable source.

Or maybe you’re just a troll. Either way, I’m not wasting any more time on you. Go ahead, get your last word now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Psychology of writers

WTF? In my first post I quoted the article nearly word for word. Then I posted the actual text from the article. So let me repeat for those of you who are hard of reading. They were not traced because they did not have serial numbers. The reason for no serial numbers is not given; maybe they were filed off, maybe they were manufactured without them. Go to Fox news and search on “mexico gun myth” and read for yourself. WTH am I making up? I am quoting the article. I don’t know who makes guns without serial numbers. But then again; I get all of mine legally in the US and they have serial numbers.

If your knowledge of guns is anything like your reading comprehension I don’t want to hear about it.

Now comes the Fox News bashing. Why do liberals such as yourself get so up in arms (pardon the pun) about Fox news? Doesn’t it bother you that every other news organization in the country has an extremely liberal bias? Shouldn’t you be worried about bias period, regardless of which way it goes?

R. Miles says:

Re: Re: Psychology of writers

Who knows; the journalists sure don’t.
Part of the problem is the definition of journalist.

Sticking a microphone in someone’s hands and airing them doesn’t make them a journalist.

Hell, anymore, if there’s a person involved, they’re not really journalists, but publicists.

The real journalist is who typed up the story for the publicist to read.

Think people watching their TV news will know this?

More importantly: Do you think they care?

dataGuy says:

Re: Re: Psychology of writers

“I am tired of biased news; I want facts”

Well said. In the old days the BBC would attempt to give you “both sides” of the story. Of course for many issues there are more that two sides of the story. The one side of the story I could totally care less about is the reporter/news organizations opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Psychology of writers

“It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own writing, to try and put on a show with your words, to make YOUR WRITING the star of the show. It isn’t. The story is the star and you’re simply a vehicle to tell the story.”

I’d disagree. A good writer and a poor one can both tell the same story. The difference is in the words they use.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Psychology of writers

In my understanding of the spirit of the instructions when I read them was that the focus was on the enjoyment/pleasure of the reader, or end user. This seems to be something journalists today are ignoring, instead thinking of themselves as the consumable (Think Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) Why are newscasters celebrities?

ChrisB (profile) says:

Propaganda model

Noam Chomsky presented the Propaganda Model for media 20 years ago. Now that the *real* consumers (the advertisers) aren’t willing to spend as much, media is trying to turn the model on its head and start charging the *product* (the reader). Its like a fisherman who, when no one wants the fish he’s bringing to market, tries to start charging the fish for the privilege of eating the worm. The fish can eat elsewhere.

tjotoole (user link) says:

strip-mining publishers' desperation

I write for a living, and I hope newspaper owners will resist the temptation to sign up for this program. Brill is strip-mining desperation here, just as he exploited vanity (American Lawyer) and misery (CourtTV, Clear) in earlier business ventures. In a lot of places right now, energy is being put where it belongs — improving the product — and not on marketing or micro-pay stunts like this. I have faith the news business is going to look better in the future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Maybe the real problem is there are to many journalistic organizations? With TV and the internet; they can be seen and heard world wide so maybe we don’t need so many? Maybe they should be specialized? Local journalists covering the local news; national journalists covering the national news and not have so much overlap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree. Go to Yahoo or Google and setup an account and add a page of news. Pick any and all of the news organizations you can find. With a dozen or so on your page; check how many are running the same stories. I’ll give you a hint, they all run the same stories. Now assuming they are reporting facts and not bias; how many reports do you actually need? I’ll give you another hint; one. Maybe they could add value by covering different topics or discuss how the news affects you, the economy, the world, whatever. There is only room for so many parrots; at some point they have to differentiate. There are to many McDonald’s and not enough Burger King, Hardee’s, Chik-fil-a, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To my knowledge, facts can not be copyrighted so what is going to stop other websites from reading these news articles and creating their own based on the facts of the original article?

Some places, like New York apparently, have laws making it illegal to copy the information in news.
http://techdirt.com/articles/20090225/0321273898.shtml

Don says:

Journalism

The problem, IMO, is not with the journalists, but with the owners of the media. At one time they were independent. Now, they are owned by a few companies who make most of their money from major advertisers, such as arms manufacturers, whom they don’t want to upset. Look at the weekend news interview shows and see the ads from companies like Boeing. I doubt if you’re going to buy a plane from them, but if something negative comes up about Boeing, is a media company that gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising from them going to say anything?

Every day at Fox News begins with emails from Roger Ailes about what to focus on and how to present it. Depending on Fox for any real news would be like depending upon life preservers made of toilet tissue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Journalism

Now that is funny right there. How do you get that liberal = supporter of freedom? I don’t even see how either side of the government is a supporter of freedom any more.

Then the name calling; a very typical tactic for liberals. When you result to cursing, shouting or name calling, you have already lost your argument.

Art Jones (user link) says:

iTunes for news

I was in graduate school at USC when we first saw what was to become USA Today. I thought it was very cool back then – circa 1979-80. Tech is doing to traditional (read: old) print media what the iPod has done to the FM DJ: Obsoleting them. Young people (anyone under 50) don’t read anything from the old world – even my wife reads SFgate.com and not the SF Chronicle. To think that people will pay for something that has always been free is beyond stupid. The WSJ can do it because of it’s uniqueness, but that won’t last much longer. To try to monetize news as long as there are free outlets (broadcast in the forms of radio and TV) may be closing the gate after the barn is empty. I’m a news fan (I did my graduate work in Journalism at USC) but I surf the net, listen to radio or listen to (yes, listen to) TV news while I surf the net. I’ll be 60 in a few minutes, and like a 20-something asked me recently, “… you don’t still read the newspaper do you?”, I don’t read newspaper for news – only for leads – and that’s drying up. I can’t wait until I can get live streaming video from CNN and other outlets on my iPhone!

peace.

GregSJ (profile) says:

Public Policy re: IP laws

Mike,
Great article! I think you got it exactly right when you said:

The news is important, but people want to be able to share the news, spread the news and discuss the news — and you can’t do that when it’s behind a paywall. The very act of putting up a paywall diminishes the value of the content.

Seems to me this is the exact purpose of Intellectual Property law; to reward creators/inventors for sharing their ideas with the public. The concept being that the idea is much more valuable to society when it is shared.

Graeme Thickins (user link) says:

Re: Public Policy re: IP laws

“Seems to me this is the exact purpose of Intellectual Property law; to reward creators/inventors for sharing their ideas with the public. The concept being that the idea is much more valuable to society when it is shared.”

So, where are the new business models that will support paying the creators of the stories we call news?

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