by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 13th 2009 9:43am
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 7th 2009 12:27am
american press institute
from the go-through-the-list dept
Consumers perceive that content produced by news organizations is valuable to them. This myth persists primarily in organizations that are dangerously out of touch with their markets. Public opinion of journalism, and of newspapers, has gone into a nosedive. Decades ago, people might trash-talk "the media" but generally would make an exception for their local paper. No more. Newspaper managers should know this, but many of them have fired their research people to save money, preferring to stumble through the fog without eyes and ears.The rest of the post is worth reading, as well. Yelvington notes that many of these myths were already debunked for the API, so it's not clear why they've been brought back up. Instead, Yelvington notes that no business model based on "attempts to reverse 15 years of social and technological change" simply won't go very far.
Consumers will actually make content purchases when they are confronted with many free options. Over the last 15 years, this assumption has been demonstrated to be false in digital paid-content experiments by newspapers all over the world. The numbers of consumers so inclined aren't great enough to sustain a business of significant scale. This idea persists primarily because so many newspaper people are deeply ignorant of what's been going on in their own companies, and because digital people generally lose power struggles with print people. Almost everyone I know who ran a paid-content online media experiment no longer works for the company where they tried it. Those companies are now largely ignorant of their own histories.
Publishers can exert their influence in the marketplace through laws and public policy, both of which could change. Newspapers have been trying without success to get rid of FCC's cross-ownership ban for decades. Newspapers, which are deeply despised by many politicians and sweeping sectors of their own customer bases, aren't going to persuade the government to outlaw Google.
Publishers will invest in emerging technologies that establish new work rules, new systems for organizing content and new designs for packaging editorial and commercial content. These would be the same newspapers that underinvested in the Internet for the last 15 years, while pouring cash into glitzy corporate headquarters, printing presses, and more newspaper acquisitions? The ones who now can't pay back the capital they've already borrowed?
News organizations can make the leap from an advertising-centered to an audience-centered enterprise. News organizations -- OK, let's be specific: newspapers -- are deeply addicted to high-volume revenue streams and huge profit margins that have enabled them to gobble up other newspapers and create huge, dangerously leveraged media chains. Such organizations require growth to survive and will fail in spectacular ways when asked to cope with shrinkage. And make no mistake, the scale of any news business that asks its readers to take primary responsibility for underwriting the costs of journalism will be tiny when compared with the fat times at the end of the last century.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jun 26th 2009 12:02pm
from the worth-the-read dept
What's surprised me, however, is that competing "wire" services haven't stepped into the breach. It seems like a wide open opportunity for Reuters to step up and say "we want to work with everyone -- and we're not going to freak out if you send us traffic." While it hasn't gone that far, a talk given by Reuters' Editor in Chief, David Schlesinger, to the International Olympics Committee Press Commission on rethinking journalism suggests Reuters recognizes the future a lot more clearly than the AP, and is looking to embrace it fully, rather than block it, like the AP.
The whole thing is absolutely worth reading -- especially the bits where he knocks the IOC for its ridiculous restrictions on both athletes and the press on how they can report. For example, apparently the IOC got mad at Schlesinger himself because he took some photos and posted them to his blog. Since he was only accredited as a reporter, not a photographer, the IOC demanded he remove the photos. Here are a few choice snippets. At the beginning he notes just how much people are using social networks to communicate these days, and then he says:
But the point, I hope, is clear.He goes on to talk about how silly it is to think of "accreditation" and defining who is and who is not a journalist by pointing out that everyone is a journalist in some way. This isn't necessarily the "citizen journalism" trumpeted by some pundits, but a recognition that social networks make everyone the journalist of their own lives:
The old means of control don't work.
The old categories don't work.
The old ways of thinking won't work.
We all need to come to terms with that.
Fundamentally, the old media won't control news dissemination in the future. And organisations can't control access using old forms of accreditation any more.
Those statements mean what they say and not necessarily more.
I am not arguing that newspapers and magazines and news services will die.
No, just that they must change.
To say they can blog as long as it isn't journalistic, misses the point.And this is the point where traditionalists freak out and talk about putting up special walls. But, Schlesinger seems to recognize both how that's silly, and how the real response is to not freak out about the threat, but to embrace the opportunity:
To a 23 year-old athlete, used to putting out a "news feed" of every detail of her personal life and training on various social media platforms, there simply isn't a distinction.
Her life IS a news feed. Her blog IS a publishing platform. Her Facebook page IS the daily newspaper of her life.
And none of these things is really private. They can get indexed by Google; they get searched; they can be public to the world with a potential circulation of every single user of the internet.
Take this scenario: I will easily aggregate my imaginary athlete's comments and thoughts on winning or losing or on the standard of judging with tweets giving the audience perspective from various parts of the stadium. I'll then add that in with mobile phone camera pictures and video posted on Flickr and youtube.
Well, my friends, who really needs the rightsholders, AP or Reuters if you can do that?
Some may be frightened of the picture I paint. Some may think I exaggerate. I actually get energised.And, finally, he notes how silly it is to think that professional journalists are somehow above everyone else:
The only question I ask is: So what can we do to survive, or more fundamentally, to stay relevant?
I think the only path is to embrace the change and embrace the new. Longing for the ways of the past will not work.
We in the traditional media and you in the IOC must concentrate our efforts on defining and developing that which really adds value.
That means understanding what really can be exclusive and what really is insightful. It means truly exploiting real expertise.
It means, to my earlier point, using all the multimedia tools available and all the smart multimedia journalists to provide a package so much stronger than any one individual strand.
It means working with the mobile phone and digital camera and social media-enabled public and not against them.
Working against them would be crazy. Could you imagine gun toting guards trying to confiscate every phone off every spectator? That would become the story of the Games and it would ultimately fail, anyhow.
No, working with them is the answer.
Inspire them, and encourage them to do things that will enhance the Olympic spirit and actually improve the bottom line.
We have spent countless decades enveloping our activities in the cloak of professional mystery.That last bit applies to so many industries today. It's great to see that, at least via these words, it looks like Reuters is really looking to embrace what the technology allows, rather than pulling an AP and pretending it can somehow turn back the clock.
That era is over.
We must devote the time now to demystifying what we do, and working in concert with those who would seem to be a threat to the old order.
Remember that the world ultimately is a reciprocal place.
Treat people with respect and as partners, and they will partner with you.
Treat people as a threat or as criminals, and they will threaten your institution and ultimately bring it down.
This path doesn't have to be scary.
from the an-idea-for-the-perpetual-future dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 17th 2008 1:44pm
from the yikes dept
Instead, Lichtman basically complains that he personally can't come up with good business models that would come around in the absence of copyright. The thing is, no one's asking him to do so -- they're saying that the market can and will come up with those business models, as it inevitably does. So, his weak attempts to pick apart the business models suggested in the first piece in the series fall flat and are easily responded to. For example, Lichtman claims that since Rasmus Fleischer skipped over movie industry business models, it means there really aren't any -- other than mockingly suggesting something silly: selling action figures from movies, and notes that no one would buy action figures for "A Beautiful Mind."
But just because Lichtman can only think of a bad business model for the movie industry, it doesn't mean that there aren't business models that don't rely on copyright. For example, while he just assumes that you can't sell movie tickets anymore -- that's not true at all. We've listed out plenty of ideas on ways to make the movie-going experience worth paying for -- and we're sure, given a world without copyright, many others would quickly pop up, as the history of free markets tends to show.
Lichtman really should have been able to come up with a better response than "but... but... but... I can't think of any way to make money without copyright." It says a lot more about Lichtman than it does about copyright.
Lichtman then claims that Rasmus Fleischer's piece suffers from a flaw that the models he describes work for some content, but not for others. But that's missing the point. Fleischer's point is that a variety of business models do pop up -- and, even better, new business models pop up to support content not currently being created. When Lichtman brushes off Fleisher by saying: "Fleischer is not merely interested in allowing alternative models like free peer-to-peer distribution to compete with traditional approaches; he wants to take away the traditional options and leave intact only his favorite alternatives," he again is missing the point. Fleischer is not saying leave only his favorites intact. He's saying get rid of the artificial system set up by government to support one favorite model -- and then let any model show up.
In the end, Lichtman's defense of copyright comes across as similar to defenses of protectionist anti-trade policies: claiming that taking away the protectionist barriers will hurt an existing business model -- while ignoring all of the new business models and more free and open markets that result. History has shown time and time again, that removing such artificial protectionist barriers ends up being better for the overall market -- including both producers and consumers. I would think the burden should be on Lichtman to explain why this time is different. Unfortunately, he does not shed any light in that direction.