Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Henry Blodget and "The Rise of Online Journalism'" #SIIA

I'm here for the second day of the SIIA Summit--with Henry Blodget speaking about online journalism....and considering how much time I spend in that space in many ways, this should be interesting...

Henry sez: online journalism isn't "lifecasting"--it's also not shovelling print content online. "It's fabulous to read the NYT online...but it's not the real form of what online journalism will look like."

What works online?? What's the same as Old Media: need high quality news and analysis. requires reporting and editing. The form may be different--but the quality of news and analysis needs to be there.

What's different from old media: Aggregation. "Aggregation can be valuable because it saves readers time." High velocity production--like a text broadcasting, "producing content all day long." Conversational and interactive: "we often hear from" people in the know, so "we get out the story" quicker than old media. "We get a lot more good information--we become a resource." Content is "Snackable": "people looking for different kind of content online" and like small chunks. Real-time production: the plane in the Hudson. Omnimedia:Gawker has a whole bunch of TiVos going "they watch it and bring it to you"

Who does this well?: Business Insider, Huffington Post, Gawker Media

HufPo bigger than Boston Globe--but Blodget doesn't say much about HufPo's left slant, which may impact how it is accepted....

Problems of Online Journalism: Online readers think everything should be free(true!) "that has got to change if consumer journalism will survive online."
Online ads have barely innovated since 1995: "No reason" for the old kinds of ads to continue to exist online. The advertising should be different. Online industry has done nothing to innovate in this arena.; Advertisers only care about "clicks": "people get the message, but if nobody clicks it, it's a failure." big problems for ad-supported online journalism.

"Newspapers have had a great 200 year run" But it's "no surprise" they're in the condition they're in now. The model doesn't work. Too many ways to get information.

"Disruptive technologies are not better"--sometimes it falls "miles short." But it is "convenient and cheap." The new stuff gets better, the incumbent technology moves higher and higehr, while the cheaper begins to take over and destroys the incumbent.

"The cost of online journalism is so much lower than print journalism." Online can't cover print cost structure.

Some companies doing fine: Bloomberg has business subscriptions that pay for everything. Dow Jones WSJ has hybrid model that's working. They get lots of ad revenue from Google as well. They have totally free sites that are companions to the subscription sites.

NYT can be saved: if they cut costs 40%, charge online subscription, raise print price.

"Journalism" is not dying: "what's dying are old line newspapers that are not changing." "The death claims are self-serving nonsense." More journalists can express themselves online than before. Anyone can get info into sunshine:"Nowadays Deep Throat would have given something to the Smoking Gun." One billion online readers means 1 billion fact-checkers: in 20 minutes "we are shelled" when something is wrong.

What will happen: more newspapers sold, folded, or bankrupt. Online journalism grows and gets professionalized. Some old media adapts, some old media journalists adapt. Creative destruction leads to new better future. (this is a very nice analysis and takes into account what is actually going on...) "The shareholders of existing companies will get hammered"--but people will survive.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised how Blodget has summed up what's been going on in online journalism and has presented it in a way that is understandable. It's funny to hear someone in the back mention how John Byrne of BusinessWeek said about editors becoming curators, when Jay Rosen and I had a discussion on that, oh, probably two or more years ago. With what's been going on with online journalism, nowadays it's easier to see the editor-as-curator proposition. Indeed, there was some conversation a couple of months ago about how online magazines may have value if they move to curation and aggregation models.

Blodget talking about GH v. NYTCo explaining it. Blodget says that GH's attitude was "insane" But if GH wants to be insane, that's up to them (IMO) But Blodget brings up a good point that if the case becomes precedent that it the issue could go down a "slippery slope" of defining Fair Use. I'm not sure about that one, but there's a possibility...

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