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New Way For News Sites to Get Business to Pay?

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment
In reviewing some of the older bookmarks that have seemed to gained value with a little bit of age and marinating in my Google account, there is one idea that may work for a local news organization to make money on the Web, and I’m interested to hear what you have to say about it.
The idea stems from a post by Jeff Jarvis back on Feb. 5. One line hit home:

“…we won’t be selling media to merchants — banners ‘n’ buttons — so much as we will be selling service: helping them with all their digital needs, including optimizing them in Google and Yelp and social media and mobile.”

It’s true. When attempting to persuade a local business to buy into a start-up local site, a news organization needs to provide a rich and deep benefit for the money instead of simply plastering its site with an obstructive advertisement.
After talking it over with my Hofstra University mentor, Mo Krochmal, we reached an agreement: use Ning.com, a site to create a social network.
For $40 a month, a news organization could:
  • host the self-created social media network under its own domain
  • style CSS to fit the model of its site
  • place whatever ads it wants
  • control who becomes a part of the social community
Businesses would ultimately pay to join or pay to place coupons, videos and any other advertising posts on its page inside the network. This would give a business a platform to share its voice with a site’s users.
Of course, as with anything on the Web, this should begin in a beta form, allowing a limited number of businesses to join for free. The idea is to control the supply and the demand will increase. Once kinks get worked out, and other businesses become excited and eager to join, then it goes “premium” and new businesses begin paying.
By creating a social network, the ability of a news organization to become creative with the services it can provide (and can charge businesses for) is limitless – versus the two-dimensional advertising model (banner ads and video pre-rolls).
Most advertising-based models don’t last long during investor presentations, according to Jarvis, thus a start-up news organization needs a unique revenue plan that is well-developed, and has a place in the future. Businesses paying for social network access may need to be more developed than I have here, but it certainly has a place in the future with more room to grow.
Note: This post is part of my on-going master’s capstone project at Hofstra University. More information on the capstone (and to provide new ideas, spark a conversation and leave feedback) can be found here.

Tim Robertson
Managing Editor
Nassau News Live
www.nassaunewslive.com

Editors Drive NNL Hyperlocal Coverage

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
December 16, 2009

A hyperlocal website can’t run with two people. And when it comes to managing 105 part-time reporters, it takes a lot more than a pair.

The biggest change between this semester and the spring 2009 term was major leap our editors made in picking up responsibilities. I developed beats for seven areas that I wanted NNL to focus on. I included sub-beats in several of them, as well. I then assigned editors to each of the beats and began filling in with reporters. I asked editors to develop their own beat plans, and they did. What resulted on some of the beats was fantastic.

Our coverage of the Lighthouse project turned out excellent (before they pulled themselves off the media map). Our politics coverage benefited a great deal from the hard work that we put in each week to find meetings and bring in unique ways to share the stories.

I couldn’t have handled what I wanted to take on without my team of six editors. Between handling story assignments and what’s coming up and jumping on breaking stories each editor shined this semester, and I’m very grateful for it.

In the inaugural semester of Nassau News Live in the spring of 2009, I shied away from handing great responsibility to a team I generally didn’t know. I took a lot on my shoulders and was swamped all the time. This semester I learned how to delegate to produce results. While I thoroughly enjoy finding newsworthy stories much more than managing people, I can take pride in what we accomplished.

We have a bit of turnover at the editor level heading into 2010, but I look forward to training the new crop on our system and how to help me run a 24-hour newsroom. Hopefully, we’ll be able to spread responsibilities out a bit more, and therefore be able to do more with NNL.

NNL Editors:

Jaymes Langrehr — Business/MTA/Lighthouse

Chari Bayanker — High School Sports

Lisa DiCarlucci — Social Media/Community Manager

Michael Salerno — College Sports

David Gordon — News/Politics

Anna Gallese — Video

News Pay Models Need Added Value

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
November 30, 2009

We all know advertising alone on the Web won’t save journalism, so we must find alternative solutions.

As a part of my master’s work at Hofstra University, I’ll be looking into different models and attempting to find one that will work for a hyperlocal news organization.

While flipping through studies, one says 74 percent of people say they’ll find another free site instead of paying for content, while a second study pins that number at 48 percent.

And the debate on both sides is age-old.

Some comments on some studies contend news sites could work together and all begin to charge a small fee to begin, and “ramp” up the price until it is a sustainable business. The trouble with that is in a highly competitive industry such as journalism, getting rival news orgs to get along and play the same game is a lofty goal.

And if there are questions of whether the public will pay for news on one site, imagine the questions swirling over whether readers will pay to read the same news on four different sites (i.e. the New York newspaper market). This will breed more competition, innovation and perhaps the market would push one in front of the others. While that sounds good, it could result in news orgs shutting down, and leaving the public with fewer viewpoints and voices.

It seems to be common sense that giving something to the public for free for 15 years, then trying to charge $250 a year isn’t a great idea. At the very least, news organizations need to work on Web innovation now in their planning for a future when some content (if not all) comes at a price to the reader.

  • create valuable and evergreen flash products
  • develop workflows for daily online video (packaged and live)
  • grow a community through social media sites
  • survey how much viewers follow live blogs and live chats

Realizing the habits of viewers with these services will only benefit news orgs in the future, and tell them what their audience is willing to pay for. The average online media organization will have to work harder and do more in a day, but after giving their hard work away for free on the Internet for so long, they’ve dug their own hole. Looking into the list above (plus I’m sure many others) may help some get out of that hole, and by charging for those services, help news media turn a profit online.

Covering Sports for the Web

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
November 23, 2009

This weekend Nassau News Live’s five-tool ability was on full display. Text, live blog, video, pictures and slideshows. All in one package — and within hours.

This past weekend Nassau News Live blanketed the Nassau County high school football championships. There are four conferences, and although only one team is in our coverage area, we sent reporters to each game — and what we got can’t be found in one location anywhere on the Web. Best of all, it is simple to duplicate.

Chari Bayanker, the high school sports editor covered two straight games on Saturday night. I want to single him out because of his hard work. He had a game story up for the first game immediately (with a video), and followed suit with the second game, despite its late start time. I believe the time stamp for the second story is around 1 a.m.

To explain how to do this, I’ll run through how I covered Friday night’s game. The fact there was only one game certainly made it much easier — so props to you Chari.

I spent the first half taking pictures. While I don’t have a $3,000 camera (investors?), I did my best with the DSLR I do have that doesn’t allow for fantastic night shots of sports. I tried to get a few pictures that would represent the game no matter the outcome. I took pictures of both quarterbacks, the main running backs and both defenses making huge tackles. There wasn’t any scoring in the first half,which hindered how I wanted to present the story, but I can only work with what I’m given.

While I was freezing on the sideline (of note, bring gloves when you do this), I was texting live updates to my Twitter account. Now my dad informed me that I didn’t advertise this anywhere except Twitter, so the outside world didn’t know I was doing it (lesson 2). These tweets average one every four or five minutes of game time and always included the score. It is actually a benefit when texting in the cold that Twitter only allows 140 characters.

For the second half, I decided to up my Twitter coverage and make sure I was ready to post a game story when the game ended (and get warm). I returned to the press box where I increased live blogging the half that actually had scoring. Whoops. Anyway, I posted a halftime story with a picture that I quickly loaded onto my Asus netbook. While the second half unfolded, I edited and uploaded the best few pictures I had to Flickr and created a quick slideshow using VuVox. I embedded this into my running game story.

With a few updates of the game on both the site, and on Twitter, I had the mold for my game story and just needed to top it off with the final score and the final stats.

As soon as the game ended, I posted the final game story on the Web and ran down to the sidelines to interview players and the head coach of the winning team with my FlipCam. After grabbing a player and the coach, I scooted back up to the press box to collect the final totals for stats and write in some of the quotes I got from the sideline. (This is all about an hour after the game ended).

When I returned home, I edited a quick video together and uploaded it to YouTube and embedded it into my story. Midnight. Done.

Three hours after the game I had video, a live blog, slideshow and a game story with good quotes all in one place.

When TV broadcasters are fighting to put a package together for the one time it’ll air and print reporters are trying to recap the game play by play, my work is done. I had the live blog giving viewers each play as it unfolded (and I copied my Twitter stream into my text), and the video I produced, along with the slideshow, is getting more use than a once-aired TV report of the game.

Hello? Media? I said LIVE VIDEO… for FREE

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
November 16, 2009

Media outlets — newspapers — looking for ways to generate revenue (via web traffic), listen up.

Using live video to report anytime and from anywhere provides a fantastic opportunity to give viewers up-to-date information and a service that is sure to drive traffic, build user loyalty and expand a media outlet’s reach.

At Nassau News Live, we’ve used Livestream (formerly Mogulus) since Feb. 2008. More recently, since Feb. 2009, we’ve used it as an outlet to produce a live webcast (broadcast) that is embedded on our site. We upload the week’s video stories and give a typical broadcast. While we are still working on our model and working to improve our product, we are servicing our public.

We also record and archive our webcasts and users can access them by an on-demand feature.

Its real easy, too.

Create a free account on Livestream. All you need is a web cam and an internet connection. Open up the “studio” function, and it will pick up your web cam. If you just want to go live from here, hit transition to clip, and you are set to start reporting.

That’s the basics. That’s it. And it is free. Absolutely free. (I’ll have a more detailed blog post on how to use Livestream later.)

It isn’t new, but why aren’t media outlets using this feature? It can be used to break stories, and give print an opportunity to break a story first. Essentially, viewers won’t need a television to watch their news — they’ll be coming to your website.

A downside of the free account on Livestream is they will input ads into your on-demand and recorded (not live) video. A paid account removes this and allows an outlet to put its own ads in.

Argument Against Paywalls: Links

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

November 10, 2009

Last week Nassau News Live received more than 3,000 unique visitors, most of them reading two articles by Geoff Smith on the Nassau County elections.

First, congratulations to Geoff. He stayed at Democrat headquarters until 12:30 a.m., interviewed incumbent (and now re-elected) district attorney Kathleen Rice and had video of a media question/answer session with incumbent county executive Thomas Suozzi (his re-election bid is now in the hands of 10,000 absentee ballots).

Second, and by far the most surprising development to come out of last week’s coverage, is Nassau News Live was linked on Politico. From this we received hundreds of hits last week, and more are coming to our site from the Politico article. Now I may be leaping here, but perhaps a reason why Geoff Smith’s coverage was linked is not only because of its vast use of multimedia and its great reporting, but also because the “big boy” in town, Newsday, now demands online viewers be subscribers or pay $5 each week they want access.

Due to the paywall, it’d be smart of other websites looking to include links in their reporting find alternative sources than attempting to send their viewers to a paywall from a major media player, where they’ll only read a couple paragraphs.

With the Web becoming more tangled and intertwined as bloggers and media sites link to each other all over the Internet, there are thousands of hits (and dollars of advertising) at stake.

There is no denying that the business model is broken, but to keep out viewers who may not be returning to that big media site enough in a week to justify paying a fee, and keeping out viewers who have no option to receive a subscription, is broken as well. There is a middle ground and a compromise that needs to be struck between the pay-for-all and the free-for-all models currently at work.

End of Newspapers? Nope – Just a Change

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment
November 2, 2009
//

Nearly every day I hear the “End of Newspapers” is coming as in The
New York Times won’t exist or local newspapers won’t exist. That’s
just not true. A newspaper operation may not focus on its print
product, and embrace the Web, but its journalism operation will still
be there.

The experience that the reporters at these newspapers across the U.S.
is too great for the newspapers to fail. In fact, more local
newspapers are embracing the Web a lot better than their television
station counterparts. And television has the benefit of already
packaged video. Newspapers have to go an extra mile to add video to
its Web site.

There shouldn’t, however, be a distinction made on the Internet
between and television-based media outlet and a newspaper-based one,
since in the end of the day their Web products should be similar. They
should have vast multimedia content. Live video and reporting, mobile
tools that bring users up-to-date information and publish any time of
day. In the past television and newspapers didn’t directly compete –
now that their media outlets in the same markets (if any of them are
still separate) are both on the Internet, they are now competing and
will have to learn how to handle the new environment of that
competition in terms of advertising and news gathering.

Newspapers as a physical product may dwindle and fade eventually, but
the media outlets that currently produce them will continue to produce
quality journalism – as long as they continue down the path of
embracing the Web, find out how to do in a cost-effective manner and
find a workable business model for the Web.