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Posts Tagged ‘Nieman Journalism Lab’

Analyzing the New York Times Paywall Subscriber Numbers

Earlier today we told you how the New York Times released the first stats since its paywall launched, and like most people, we thought over 100,000 subscribers was pretty good. However, not everyone is so optimistic.

Nieman Journalism Lab did some raining on our parade with a post involving a comparison of Times Select, the Times’ first attempt at a paywall, and the new paywall. The bottom line, according to the post: The initial numbers are good, but patience is needed.

These are the people who love the Times and have no problem ponying up a few bucks a month as soon as they’re asked, both because they see the value in the paper and out of a civic-minded spirit. (I’m one of them!) They’re the primary target of the Times’ paywall efforts past and present.

The problem is that there are only so many of them around. And TimesSelect, at least, had a difficult time getting a lot of traction beyond them — with subscriptions increasing by only about 7,000 in the last four months.

See, this is why we don’t mess with stuff like “numbers” and “research.” It just bums us out.

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Hearst Using Analytics to Improve Magazines

Everyone uses analytics, from sports nerds who cite YPRPFP (Yards Per Run if the Player’s preferred Food is Pasta) as a solid indicator as to who will win the NFL’s rushing title, to website gurus predicting what posts will land the most page views. So it makes sense that Hearst is now using them to make their magazine production more effective.

Charlie Swift, Vice President of Database Strategy and Marketing for Hearst Magazines, tells the Nieman Journalism Lab that crunching numbers can help shave off any excess:

There’s a lot of waste, in a sense. You may put out 10 copies, sell four and six get tossed. We believe there’s a way to make [distribution] more efficient by putting analytics behind it.

Increased savings for companies usually translates to more savings for consumers, so we’re all for the analytic trend. Now if someone could just use analytics to figure out why people continue to buy Flo Rida albums, we’d really be excited.

2010: The Year Of The e-Reader Paradox

kk.jpgYou may have been reading books digitally for over a year now, you may have gotten a Kindle in your stocking this Christmas, or you may still be one of the millions of Americans who don’t see the point in purchasing a giant, clunky device that seemingly performs the same functions as downloading a newspaper’s application on your iPhone or buying a book. But no matter which category you fall into, this will be the year of the e-reader: devices like Apple’s much-anticipated Tablet and Microsoft’s Courier herald its arrival in a siren song for newspaper and magazine publishers. Why else would News Corp. be making deals with Sony for exclusive New York Post digital content, or Hearst be working with Skiff to develop its own device and e-reading platform that promises to “create an entity by publishers, for publishers” with its own advertising model. You know, just what consumers are asking for.

Right now, it seems like what consumers want is just an afterthought. Giving readers a rewarding reading experience is only the honey that will lure advertisers to buy space on digital devices, thus supplementing declining print ad revenues. With the print world taking a nosedive in advertising in 2009, it’s seductive to think that new technology will be the salvation of the (former) print media, bringing the money back while cutting down on overhead (like those pesky union drivers that deliver the papers). But is the e-reader technology really on the side of the news industry?

Josh Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University recently gave a talk at Mediabistro’s ebook Summit on this subject and came to an odd conclusion: e-readers will attract a mainstream audience the moment they become functional Web devices (like a large iPhone, or small laptop!), which will also happen to be the point at which these devices will stop making money for publishers. Not following? Here, we’ll help.

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Will The Kindle Save Newspapers? Not Quite

eBookSummit100x100.gifYesterday, at mediabistro.com’s eBook Summit, we were eager to hear what Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab had to say about e-readers and the future of newspapers.

Benton said he understood why those in the media held the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader product, out as the possible savior of the industry — since Kindle users were willing to pay for newspaper subscriptions while online readers were not. But this theory fails because Kindle users represent such a small part of total number people who read the news. “It’s a way to get marginal income from a small percentage of people who are willing to pay for news,” he said.

Also, the Kindle itself is not a good tool for reading newspapers, and certainly not magazines. There are additional features e-readers would need in order to make good news reading devices, like a fast connection, alerts and multimedia capabilities. “E-readers will become a mainstream category when they become excellent web devices,” Benton said. However, when that happens, “the news business model for e-readers collapses.”

Guess as far as Benton is concerned, e-readers won’t be the savior of the print news industry that everyone is hoping they will be. Instead, newspapers and magazines will become smaller, more expensive and “more elite products,” and most people will still get their news for free from the Web.

And as we wrap up our coverage of the eBook Summit, check out some photos from the event yesterday and today.

Previously: BBC’s Katty Kay Weighs Writing, Blogging With Paying The Bills

Seward Leaves Nieman Lab For WSJ.com

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Nieman Journalism Lab assistant editor Zachary Seward revealed on Twitter today that he is leaving the Harvard-based journalism blog to join WSJ.com in New York.

The Wall Street Journal looks to be one of the few media outlets currently bringing on new staff as opposed to letting them go (except for its Boston bureau), and it’s currently seeking reporters to cover local New York beats. Seward told us he’ll be working in a newly created position of outreach editor for The Wall Street Journal Online, starting at the end of next month. We’re happy to welcome him to New York, but we’re going to selfishly miss his excellent coverage of the media.

Previously: Wall Street Journal Looks To Hire Local NY Reporters

Gawker Launches Open Forums

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Gawker Media has unveiled a new feature across its nine blogs, creating a space where readers can leave comments and initiate discussions beyond the reach of moderators. Now, Gawker’s blogs have a tip submission box at the top that is as large as the blog’s logo, inviting readers to submit content and create or contribute to Open Forum pages.

As Gawker explains in commenting FAQ, users can now take their thoughts “outside” a post by using a hashtag feature similar to one popularized by Twitter. Readers will also be able to provide tips simply by adding a “#tips” hashtag to any submission. However, those tips will become immediately public, Gawker warned:

“Don’t forget that any content you post in #tag pages or tell us in #tips will be public. Forums and tips that we particularly like will receive front-page promotion.”

Gawker chief Nick Denton told Nieman Journalism Lab he expects the new feature to cause chaos. He also compared the idea that readers can create pages for people to a “dark Facebook.”

“But as the front pages of our sites become ever more professional, it’s even more important to allow anarchy to bubble up from below,” Denton added. “The goal is to blur the line between our editors and commenter-contributors.”

What do you think of the new feature?

Got a #tip? Gawker Media opens tag pages to masses, expecting “chaos” –Nieman Journalism Lab

Related: Denton: Gawker Revenues Actually Up 45 Percent This Year

WaPo Writer’s Gawker Experience Raises Questions Of Fair Use

wapo.pngWe feel a bit guilty blogging about this right now, fearing that it will just add fuel to the fire raging over blogs (like this one) that draw information and quotes from stories in news sources like The Washington Post. But thanks to an article in the Post this weekend, the wound is open and raw, so we have to at least let you know what’s been going on.

Yesterday, Post writer Ian Shapira wrote about his experience when Gawker picked up an article he wrote for the paper early last month about a business coach who explains millennials to baby boomers. At first, Shapira was excited by Gawker’s take on his article. “I confess to feeling a bit triumphant…I was flattered,” he wrote.

Then, an email from his editor changed his mind: “But when I told my editor, he wrote back: They stole your story. Where’s your outrage, man?”

Shapira goes on to discuss the amount of work that went into his 1,500-word story that, although not “Pulitzer material” still required hours of travel, interviews, note-taking, transcribing and writing. You know, all the work that goes into any piece of journalism that is not merely a rehashing of someone else’s story. Was it fair of Gawker to rip the story from the pages of the Post and steal Shapira’s thunder? Right or wrong, it’s become common practice on news blogs.

And so, the debate continues.

Updated with Gawker’s reply. Read on.

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NYT Night Rewrite Desk Becomes Part Of Web Newsroom

 times logos.pngIn a move that shows the increasing importance of the Web as a source of news for readers, The New York Times said today that it’s night rewrite team would be moved off the Metro desk to become part of the Web newsroom and the Continuous News Desk.

Nieman Journalism Lab
has the memo sent today by Digital News Editor Jim Roberts and Deputy Political Editor Gerry Mullany announcing the change.

The transition of the Times Continuous News Desk will be led by Anahad O’Connor, Derrick Henry and Sarah Wheaton — “One of them will be on duty each night of the week,” the memo promises.

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Denton: Gawker Revenues Actually Up 45 Percent This Year

gawker l ogo.pngEarlier this month, Gawker Media overlord Nick Denton boasted about his company’s success this year, telling Nieman Journalism Lab that ad revenues were up 35 percent during the first half of 2009. The unexpected success meant Gawker could reinstate its controversial pageview bonus system.

But in a blog post today, Denton reveals that ad revenues actually climbed 45 percent during the first six months of the year. The success is something to be crowed about, since Denton himself predicted last year that media companies would face “a decline of up to 40% in advertising spending.” He made drastic cuts at Gawker in order to prevent the inevitable — laying off staff, selling off blogs and cutting the bonus program.

Although Gawker’s ad revenues dropped during Q1, they rebounded dramatically in the second quarter, an increase that surprised Denton. “I was wrong in one respect: a few premium internet brands, Gawker’s among them, have withstood the advertising apocalypse,” he said.

“Sometimes there’s consolation to be found in congenital pessimism; I’d rather be wrong and thriving than right and dead,” he concluded.

Earlier: With A 35 Percent Increase In Ad Revenues, Gawker Reinstates Pageview Bonuses