Thursday, March 27, 2014

NYU's Rosen's advice on jumping into the journalism business

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, writes at his PressThink blog yesterday that when people entirely new to it ask him the best way to get going in journalism he offers them this advice: "Start a niche news service on a subject some people care a lot about."

His reasoning is that "Most everything you learn in trying to serve a narrow but interested news niche is elementary instruction in online journalism."

Now, if he limits that to starting a blog, writing thoughtful or newsy (or both) regular posts and trying to build an audience, I would agree. But he says he is referring to people with no credentials or experience. Expecting to make that into a real business could be a long slough. Rosen does admit this would be hard work. And it would. I think where we differ is that I wouldn't advise them to dive into the business at all without first getting some experience elsewhere.

Where would you come out on Rosen's advise?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wattpad: Brilliant insight? Luckly? Or...what?

It should be stating the obvious that there has been a tight connection between technology and the media. It goes back to Gutenberg and his moveable type, starting the process of replacing scribes; the steam driven rotary press lowering the costs and thus expanding the reach of the media; motion pictures, to radio and then television broadcasting then satellites further lowering the cost of distribution and now the Internet, disinter-mediating both downstream (from creator to user) and upstream content flows.

Social networking is really about the confluence of upstream and downstream communication: It's not just about others telling us something but us being able to respond in near real time--or much later. Unlike the telephone, the process is in documentary form. That is, it is archival.

All this is preamble to yet another innovative media model that has been technology enabled. I am referring to the new story telling platforms, of which Wattpad may be the most popular. With this, writing of fiction, heretofore thought of as perhaps the most solitary form of writing is being transformed into an activity nearly the opposite. An article in the New York Times today indicated that fiction writing can become social, informal and intimate, "with the results not only consumed but often composed on the fly."

Wattspad claims to have 2 million writers producing 100,000 pieces of material a day for 20 million readers around the world. While some pessimists are already lamenting that this will be the end of the novel, Charles Melcher, a publishing consultant contends that the novel is "simply evolving."

It's only deep in the article that the author tells us about the founding and evolution of Wattpad:

Wattpad might seem an overnight success, but it struggled for years to break through. Mr. Lau and Ivan Yuen were Canadian tech entrepreneurs interested in mobile reading. They released an app in 2006, but this was before the Kindle and the iPhone, and it struggled to gain momentum. Adding 17,000 public domain books did not do much. But then writers began to post original works, and the site caught the mobile wave.
What is your take-away from this story--about the business as opposed to the future of the novel? What is--or could be--its business model?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More on CNN's Flight 370 obsession

Seems like there are others who have noticed how CNN seems to be OCD about Malaysia 370.

Executing on an Opportunity

Hearst magazines recognized an opportunity for creating magazines to go along with popular celebrity TV series. Prior to their newest launch the company started HGTV Magazine, Food Network Magazine and the famous O, the Oprah Magazine. Their newest launch was Dr. Oz, The Good Life and performance so far has been good, according to this Adweek article.

This is an example of an intrapreneurial situation where Hearst noticed a market gap for print publications connected to popular TV shows and was able to create new products. It is also interesting to note that none of these publications have a free online version of their content. They have websites but these sites do not have the print content available. There is an iPad version that you can subscribe to in addition to a traditional print subscription. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What is a media company?

GoPro Goes Big as a Hybrid Media Company/Videocam MakerYou may be familiar with GoPro, the small video cameras that are the darling of participants in extreme sports and the rest of us who may want to see what the world looks like from our dog's point of view.

We tend not to think of a manufacturer of consumer electronics such as GoPro as a media enterprise. But the boundaries of industry sectors is fluid. In this article in Businessweek, we get a hint that content may be as critical to GoPro's future as the attributes of the device itself. 

“It’s not about hardware anymore; it’s about software and experiences,” the article quotes Christopher Chute, the research director at market research company IDC. “And I think that’s been GoPro’s vision from the get-go.”

But then would this make Canon or Panasonic or any manufacturer of video cameras a media company? What's the distinction?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Profiting from Tragedy

CNN Uses Toy Plane To Enhance Coverage Of Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

A recent article in the New York Times highlights many things we've discussed throughout class, specifically surrounding the media business. Twenty-four hour cable news station CNN has used the missing Malaysian jetplane story to significantly boost its ratings. According to the article, CNN’s ratings soared last week and over the weekend, rising by almost 100 percent in prime time. The network even managed the rare feat of edging past Fox News for leadership in several hours. 
"It is [CNN]...scrambling to find a sustainable business model against its main competitors, Fox News and MSNBC, that has perhaps invested most heavily in the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370."
Using speculation, expert commentary, visual pizzazz, and even toy model airplanes, the network is drawing all it can from a story with very few reliable or verifiable developments. 
"Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the American Press Institute, a research center devoted to analyzing media, said, “Even a great story and a great mystery can become exploited. There were periods where the coverage entered into fantastical territory.” Mr. Rosentstiel said he was not speaking only of CNN, but the cable news coverage in general, which he described as “an architecture for the news that is, at times, hard to fill.”"
What do you think? Should CNN continue to "exploit" this story to generate ratings even when no new details are available, even at the expense of more relevant and important news coverage? Could this ultimately destroy the reputation of the network, or is the bottom line [profits] more important? 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lively puts the concert in your pocket - for a price

Lively is an app that lets you download a professional, three-camera recording of a live music performance. Fo $5 you can hear a recording of the show you just saw minutes after the show is over, and video is available for $10 24 hours later. The service and its founder each possess some of the traits we've talked about in class. 

Lively's founder and CEO, Dean Graziano, is described as being a "disarmingly enthusiastic New Jersey native whose operating speed exceeds normal limits and whose conversation is peppered with startup jargon like “cap ex” (capital expenditure) and “scale it” (bang for your buck)."

They've also go a "special sauce" going for them. They've "developed a device to record shows directly through the mixing board and post them for sale almost immediately."

That's intriguing, because as someone who goes to a lot of shows and cares about sound, I wouldn't want the video recording if the sound wasn't up to par.

Lively charges $1000 for shooting and edits the video the next day. They take 30 percent of the retail income, the App Store gets 30 and the artist gets between 40 and 70 percent.

Their location is another interesting factor. 18 of the company's 25 employees work at an Austin mansion called “Lively Manor,” where bonus material is recorded at a studio, sponsors are wooed at parties and community is "developed."

The article finishes on a dire note: "But the startup world is notoriously mercurial. And cutthroat. Another player, Evntlive, in Redwood City, Calif., recently entered the marketplace with $2.3 million in financing and was promptly gobbled up by Yahoo."