This is not a strategy. It barely qualifies as a tactic.

Newsday has put all their news behind a pay wall. Subscribers to the paper and the owner CableVision’s Internet services (75% of Long Island residents) can still get free access.
This has resulted in no increase in revenue.   The only way this can make money is by slowing the decline in readership of Newsday in print. That seems improbable.
They’ve cut their audience in half and opened the market to news bloggers in the dozens of communities that Newsday serves.
How can I get Media News to do this in the Bay Area?

If you're reading this, I blame Twitter

MediaSavvy is back after a pretty long hiatus: six months since my my last Forrester post, and a few years since my last post as an independent blogger.
I don’t have any illusions about the size of the audience for the site’s RSS feed. This site is mostly read by spiders and spambots these days, but I plan to change that.
So, after posting again for the first time in months the other day, I started piping my RSS feed to Twitter this afternoon.
I’ve been using Twitterfeed for a few months to tweet Coastsider’s headlines to a special Twitter account. Now I’m using it to send MediaSavvy headlines to my personal Twitter feed. And those tweets wind up on my Facebook and FriendFeed pages in reasonably short order via plumbing I’d put in place last year.
Within an hour, I could see a noticeable increase in traffic on MediaSavvy.
I love RSS for a host of reasons: manifesting headlines from other sites on Coastsider, putting together aggregated pages from database searches, reviewing classified ads without visiting the original site, getting data into Yahoo pipes to create even more RSS feeds, and other geeky nonsense.
But I seldom fire up NetNewswire or Google Reader any more just to see what’s going on. And most folks never, ever did.
Twitter is a great way to get your headlines in front of your fans where they’re actually going to get read them. If you don’t already have a Twitter feed for your site, or aren’t already piping your headlines to your personal feed, now is a good time to start.
Twitter didn’t kill RSS as a consumer technology, but it may have buried the body.

Washington Post reporter has world's fakest job

Ian Shapira, reporter for the Washington Post, thinks Gawker ripped off his tiresome trend story about a tiresome trendwatcher.
He may be right, but that’s not what the Post is worried about right now.
Sure, Gawker copied key quotes from Shapira’s Speaking to Generation Nexus
Guru Explains Gens X, Y, Boomer To One Another
, which is smeared across three slow-loading pages on the Post’s site. Gawker’s ‘Generational Consultant’ Holds America’s Fakest Job is shorter, funnier, has a better hed, and fits on a single page.
“Generational consultant” Anne Loehr’s “generational cheat sheet”, which should have been a single-page table, takes up another heavily-monetized five pages of the Post’s site. Shapira makes no apologies for that, presumably because he knows the publicity is good for her. After all, if someone gives a generational seminar and the Post doesn’t show up, has it made a sound?

Current law basically allows the Gawkers of the world to appropriate others’ work, repurpose it and sell ads against it with no payment to or legal recourse for the company that paid me while I sat through two hours of a generational seminar.

Maybe Shapira and his editors should consider whether that time might have been better spent on a different story. I hear things are a little tight in the Post newsroom these days.

They want to amend the copyright law so that it restores “unfair competition rights” — which once gave us the power to sue rivals if our stories were being pirated. That change would give news organizations rights that they could enforce in court if “parasitic” free-rider Web sites (the heavy excerpters) refused to bargain with them for a fee or a contract. Marburger said media outlets could seek an order requiring the free-rider to postpone its commercial use or even hand over some advertising revenue linked to the free-riding.

No one objects to copyright protection. OK, almost no one. But the Post already has that. They want something bigger.
What’s on the minds of the traditional media is not plagiarizers and “parasites”. They have Google in their sights. And they need a extension/reification of the “hot news” doctrine that will allow them to have a monopoly on the facts for a period of time greater than zero.
I’m not interested in rewriting copyright and antitrust law to save the occasional baby in all the bathwater the major metros print every day.
How can the Gawker article be considered “unfair competition” when it increased the audience for Shapira’s article on the Post’s site? Because Gawker’s very existence is unfair competition.

The Post just completed its fourth round of buyouts since 2003; and although the company reported on Friday that it had returned to profitability in the second quarter, the newspaper division, which is pretty much us, continues losing money. Standard & Poor’s expects that the company’s gross earnings will drop by 30 percent this year. Gawker Media, on the other hand, reported last week that its revenues in the first two quarters of 2009 were up 45 percent from the first two quarters of last year. …
After all the reporting, it took me about a day to write the 1,500-word piece. How long did it take Gawker to rewrite and republish it, cherry-pick the funniest quotes, sell ads against it and ultimately reap 9,500 (and counting) page views?

Save journalism, not newspapers

We’re seeing a lot of talk lately about taking newspapers nonprofit.

I’ve been saying for a year now that all media organizations need to separate creation from distribution. Newpspaper are a good place to start because their distribution model is so broken, the industry is so troubled, the savings potential is huge, and the opportunity is vast.

Creation, especially of quality journalism, is a very small part of the total budget of the newspaper business. Once you take out presses, trucks, paper, rewriting wire copy, rewriting press releases, soft features, laying out pages, and overhead, the actual cost of gathering, writing and editing the news that matters to the continuing function of our democracy is a pretty small part of the total cost of journalism. And it’s the part that is most worth preserving.

Modern national and international news organizations already are beginning to look more like wire services than newspapers. It may be time to move that model down to the regional and metropolitan level, as well as up from the ultralocal level to neighborhoods and communities.

By separating creation from distribution, we can create newsgathering organizations that are efficient, worth preserving, and very cheap compared to the cost of supporting them. Matt Yglesias gets this, although I’m not certain I’d endow all the organizations he’s considering. I’d prefer to endow entirely new newsgathering operations whose primary purpose is informing the public.

The bigger news is the implications for all media properties of separating content from distribution.

Cross-posted from my Forrester blog for Consumer Product Strategy professionals.

Everyone wants to look good on Facebook

It’s easy to forget as we watch penetration numbers rise for social services, what these numbers look like when they hit small communities of connected people. I was reminded of this last night.

Every year, my wife takes photos of the kids in the Half Moon Bay High School musical. The pictures are used in the play program, become headshots for the handful who act in other venues, and are shared with friends and family. She takes a lot of care to produce great-looking shots and it shows.

This year is the first time anyone asked her for a copy to put on Facebook, and everybody asked for her to email them a copy for Facebook.

Cross-posted from my Forrester blog for Consumer Product Strategy professionals.

Learning the wrong lessons from a century of advertising

Shortly after ranting that media properties to start thinking bigger and stranger if they’re going to succeed, I came across Jeff Jarvis’s spot-on analysis of why print advertising was never the right model for online success and the variety of opportunities that exist for media properties to improve their top and bottom lines.

Jeff says that print advertising worked as a business because there was a limited supply of space. But it also worked as a business because it was staggeringly inefficient. A Realtor had to buy access to a million readers to reach to two dozen who were looking for a neighborhood open house. That model has been broken for at least five years.

He has some great suggestions for new kinds of businesses for media companies. You should read his whole list, but here are my takes on some of them:

  • Empowering new advertisers and partners: Google and eBay have empowered genuinely new businesses. Look beyond your traditional customers for new business opportunities. One reason that Google and eBay have succeeded at this is that they’ve made it possible for their customers to serve themselves, and consquently they’ve driven the price lower by orders of magnitude.
  • Offering new services to marketers: The Houston Chronicle is doing this today. Their goal is to be the digital agency for their community.
  • Creating content and advertising networks to reduce costs and increase revenues: I’ve been writing about this for more than a year and I don’t believe we’ve scratched surface of the opportunities and threats created by networked media.
  • Getting into new lines of business: Should local media get into the real estate business? Now is exactly the right time to get into a business that has been dominated by a cartel. Even if newspapers survive the coming storm, do they really think that their real estate advertisers will return? Really?

The bad news is that nearly all initiatives will fail and only a few will prosper. And you can’t wait around until it becomes obvious what’s going to work. Once you notice someone having success, he’s going to be difficult to unseat in the market he created. To succeed in the current chaosm, you must experiment, keep costs low, watch what others are doing, and take a portfolio approach to innovation management.

A better way to embed Keynote slides on the Web

You can export Keynote slides to a Quicktime file in the appropriate dimensions and embed the Quicktime of your Keynote deck in your blog. Just select File/Export, and follow the prompts. You can use hyperlink controls to allow users to navigate the deck inside of Quicktime. I discovered this technique last night when I was writing an analysis of the 2008 elections for Coastsider.

This is easier, faster, cleaner, and offers more control than exporting to PDF and embedding via Scribd or Docstoc. I especially like Scribd for embedding PDF’s, but this is a better format slide shows than PDF.

It’s cheaper and easier than creating the slides in 280 Slides. 280 Slides is really cool, but this you can do this on your desktop, own an archival copy of your deck, and don’t have to pay for it.

It’s better than using Flash, Scribd, Google or whatever to embed PowerPoint, because you don’t have to use PowerPoint.

And it’s a faster and more space efficient than taking screen grabs and embedding them as JPEG’s, which has been my fallback for embedding Keynote graphics.

Kicking television, sort of

2008 was a watershed year in my media habits.

In video, things came to a head when Comcast mistakenly cancelled by cable television service, instead of merely canceling my “high speed” (sic) Internet service. This echoed the scene six months earlier when, after weeks of trying to get someone to install Internet service, a Comcast guy showed up on my doorstep declared, “I’m here to disconnect your Internet service.”

We no longer have cable television and in Montara we’re beyond the reach of broadcast television.

My family discovered we don’t need regular TV any more. Between Netflix DVD’s and instant play for movies and HBO series; iTunes for Madmen and The Office; Hulu for John Stewart, Steven Colbert, and 30 Rock; MSNBC for streaming coverage of election night; YouTube for kittens and poisonous snakes; our own DVD’s for kids’ movies and The Simpsons; and the blogs for news highlights — we have more video on tap than we can possibly watch. Meanwhile, we’re more thoughtful about what we watch. And we still don’t have a Tivo, Roku, AppleTV, MediaCenter PC, or any other box on top of our TV.

I stopped listening to commercial radio a while ago, but missed the sense of discovering new music. In 2008, just as I was beginning to get bored of putting my music collection on shuffle, I found a host of new ways to get music. Streaming music from iTunes to my living room stereo was never appealing until Apple release its iPhone Remote software. Now it’s indispensible. I’ve been relying heavily on listening to KCRW and KKJZ, both of of them 400 miles away in LA, via iTunes. And now I can stream them over the cellular network to my iPhone with any of several radio applications. I’ve discovered more new music this year than in the last five thanks to Pandora (and KCRW) on my desktop and on my iPhone. Between that and Apple’s new Genius playlists I don’t have any time to listen to all those podcasts I’ve downloaded, except for Le Show and Ted Talks video.

The best part is that none of this is revolutionary. It has been coming for a long time. And now it’s part of everyday life for millions of consumers. Happy new year!

Let's make TV local again

It’s no surprise that local television stations are under pressure, with increased competition for local audiences from cable and the current economic…um…opportunity.

Without actually citing a source, WSJ reporter Martin Peers declares that the problem is overcapacity and the solution is to let top stations in the local market merge to “reduce overcapacity”:

That means shuttering weaker stations and consolidating ownership of others in individual markets to allow for greater cost-cutting. One of the biggest costs is local news operations, which can account for between 25% and 33% of net revenues. Allowing one top station to buy another top station would spread such costs across a bigger revenue base. Regulators might consider relaxing ownership limits given the industry’s parlous state.

I can understand why this serves the purposes of the licensees, but it does not serve the interests of the communities they’ve been licensed to serve.

Consider this radical alternative: insist that to hold a local broadcast license you have to produce local programming. Can’t make money doing that? Sell the license to someone who can. Enforce the conditions of the license and let the market do its magic. Keep or even reduce the limits on the number of stations a single owner can hold to lower the price even further and to keep ownership in the community.

Reducing the price of a local broadcast license would encourage innovation in programming and particularly in journalism at a time when the entire value chain of video production is under attack from smart suppliers.

Keeping the price of licenses high — particularly at the cost of reducing the amount of journalism created in the local community — only serves the current licensees, who’ve already had their payday. Maybe we can encourage them to cut their losses and put local stations back in the hand of local entrepreneurs.

Is Expression Engine the harbinger of low-end content management?

The folks who publish pMachine, an excellent inexpensive ($45 noncommercial) content management system, has announced a new cms called Expression Engine. When I predicted in December that blog packages would begin to evolve into cheap and powerful CMS’s, I didn’t think it would start to come true so soon.

It seems to take the functionality that makes pMachine special and takes it to the next level, with a completely rewritten backend.

After spending six months creating a site with pMachine, I’m very happy with it (flexible, powerful, easy to use). It has made it possible for me to build a user-written community site without resorting to a system that required me to own a server or learn perl (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Expression Engine appears to take the lessons Rick Ellis learned by creating and supporting pMachine and puts them together in a product that is powerful and more extensible.

I haven’t used it yet, because I’m too far into my pMachine project, but if I were looking for a low-end CMS, I would include pMachine on my must-review list.