Entries Tagged as 'Media'

Why Niche Magazine Subscriptions Aren’t Worth It

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Most people have subscribed to some sort of magazine in their lifetime. I mean any sort of magazine.

But I can tell you right now that the journalism industry is doing so poorly that it’s not even worthwhile to buy these subscriptions no matter what sort of deal you’re getting. Why? The chance of that niche disappearing is very likely and all you’ll end up with is holding the empty bag.

In this household, we’ve already had two different magazine subscriptions disappear from under our noses in the span of about two years. Just one day, you’re thinking that it’s been a while since you’ve had the last subscription. Then you go on the Internet and find out that the company has folded or the publisher just refuses to put out another copy and laid all of the writers off. What really drives me nuts is the fact that they don’t even have the courtesy to at least send a bulk mailing postcard to all of their subscribers to tell them that they basically are folding one of their publications. Just one day:


Magazine disappeared. I think the nice thing between this and the newspaper industry is that at least they’ll tell you if they’re going down. Flames and all. Common courtesy and it really helps the subscriber to take the side of the struggling industry instead of getting them annoyed with the publishing corporation.

So if you run a magazine business, regardless of how successful you are, perhaps it’s time to budget out some money for postcards and stamps. Just in case there comes a time that you have to turn the lock and shut the door for the last time. Because remember that customer service is still your business and no matter where you’re going, if you want your loyal followers to come with you, don’t slap them in the face with you failed current venture.

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When some newspapers just don’t get the web

Newspaper and tea

Image by Matt Callow via Flickr

Sometimes people just don’t understand how the Internet works. It’s really evident in the GateHouse Media lawsuit against the New York Times:

“Boston.com’s local pages, like hundreds of other news sites, aggregate headlines and snippets of relevant stories published on the Web. They link back to the originating site where the interested user can read the entire article,” she wrote in a statement.
“Far from being illegal or improper, this practice of linking to sites is common and is familiar to anyone who has searched the Web,” Mathis wrote. “It is fair and benefits both Web users and the originating site.”

Here the New York Times is exactly correct. From a perspective of just headlines and first sentences, that has always been fair-use in the aspect of blogging, websites, and the like. And by precedence, this has been a set rule pretty much since… well…the dark ages of the Internet. To think that headlines and first sentences is violating copyright is absolutely preposterous.
Now I can totally see violation of copyright if they did a verbatim dump. Without prior permission and no credit, this would be plagiarism at best and copyright violation at worst. But headlines and first sentence with links back to the original article give the original article full credit. That’s the blogger way, not to mention the Internet way.
I’m not sure how GateHouse will pull this off, but I’ll be surprised if they do. From the Internet’s perspective, it seems like the NYT has the weight of history behind them.

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Journalist Bailout Program

logo-typepad.gif I found that SixApart indeed has a sense of humor when playing upon the whole “bailout” things going on with our economy.
What’s even more interesting is that they understand that finally, mainstream journalists are finally seeing the light of day, when it comes to social mediums. Many of them have finally signed on to Twitter, or Tumblr, or even Friendfeed for some. But none of them are taking the plunge into writing for writing and perhaps making some money on it. And that’s where they come in with the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program.
If you’ve got some mainstream media credentials, you get a TypePad Pro account for free, you’ll get promoted on Blogs.com, and you get enrolled in the SixApart Advertising program (affiliate programs anyone?)
They know that you love to write. But someone’s got to put food on the table. That someone is you. Now, perhaps you won’t make anything, but any bit of pennies is still more than empty pockets, right? So get your butts down to TypePad. This limited offer will end soon.

As journalism evolves

The online medium has drastically changed the way news is perceived. Gone are the days that people read the paper for the latest and greatest. Television took care of that. But for even more real-time unfiltered action, we turned to the Internet. And with each younger generation, the more the Internet plays as part of their daily lives and the less of the other modes of communication.
So what is the newspaper industry doing right versus wrong? I believe that understanding the online medium is definitely a good step. But there are also issues that could be used between the mediums, and others that the medium has special rules for. Take for example, layout. I have heard a lot of online people talk about how the layout for newspapers cannot be used in a similar application as online. But I disagree.
A clean layout is useful in any application. In a newspaper, your ads are fixed, but online they can rotate. So the spots don’t move around. In newspaper, the pages can turn and ads shifted, but in online, usually the ads are in similar spots and there is more real estate from top to bottom. There is not the issue with length of article anymore like with print, but the clean look still needs to be represented just as print. No one wants to read a newspaper that has ads everywhere, and likewise with online.
A difference would be how advertising is tracked. In normal publishing, it’s based on dollar amounts by advertisers. Your readers are a set group that takes it in and the publisher focuses only on the monetary numbers to judge. In online, there is a statistic called unique visitors. These are the actual numbers that can effect any sort of advertisement so instead of focusing on the amount of money you generate, you have to focus on how to gain as many eyeballs on the news site as possible. The more, the merrier since by probability, it gives better ROI for the advertisers. All online advertisers pay attention to uniques and pageviews. Here, the difference between uniques and pageviews versus a newspaper reader is not all that much different except the former is a free viewer of the news, and the second is a subscription based or buyer of news. That trivial fact changes the way you must perceive tracking numbers in the online realm.
As newspapers keep migrating to the online medium, the more news changes from journalists to bloggers. The more the fight is to get real-time unfiltered news. And the look from monetizing the entire publication as similarities with websites that run affiliate advertising. Journalism isn’t about writing that great piece anymore. It’s about writing the great piece as fast as you can and hoping that someone clicks on something within that piece.
Photo Credit:(wallyg)

What exactly is 3G?

It’s definitely interesting when I see this question come up. “What is 3G?
Surprisingly, if you read most of the commentary, not only do mainstream media not get what 3G actually stands for, but a lot of the general populace isn’t acquainted with telecom terminology (nor should they be). Strangely enough, this has actually been marketed but hasn’t been conveyed very well.
3G itself is actually third generation, but not with the iPhone, of which many believe. It actually has to do with the network infrastructure. 3G networks are under a certain standard that require high speed internet and the ability to do video telephony. This allows you to do extra services that previously you could not do on a 2G network. Each technology layer is obviously overlayed on top of the older one, so most users don’t realize that the features they want actually drop in under one of these technology realms.
For example? HSDPA is 3G. So is EVDO (rev0. and revA). 2G is mainly any digital standard, from CDMA, to GSM to iDEN. So from a big picture perspective, you can see that there carriers will offer more and more with each new generation of technology. The technologies that just increase speed, but not services do not count as actual generation changes (such as WiMAX which is pre-4G).
Fun stuff eh? Things I get to deal with every day in the telecommunications industry.
Photo Credit: (SANOKAME)

I don’t know why Fidgit by SciFi exists…

fidgit.jpg Just recently, SciFi put out Fidgit, another gaming news site. Here’s the rub. No one knows exactly why SciFi is doing this.
It’s very similar to the whole “ratings” game I suppose when they brought ECW into the mix. Had absolutely nothing to do with the core channel, but they were desperate for other people than the core group I suppose. Very similar to how G4 took a nosedive and still trying to reinvent itself.
Well, Fidgit is here to stay at least for a while, so here are the few issues with it right off the bat. First, the immediate reaction is that there’s no content there that I can’t get from Joystiq, IGN, or 1UP. It doesn’t specialize in anything (of which, specializing in science fiction based games would be one way to re-gain niche market control and then eventually your growth business could extend out into other genres.
But the biggest thing? It’s the CNAME. I can’t get past how super noob it is. The actual URL is http://fidgit.com and if you try to use the www CNAME, it does a forward to fidgit.com instead of actually also resolving to the same place. From a tech perspective, that’s just … non-professional. Everyone in the free world all use www. So not having it is just plain weird.
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s really not grabbing me and there’s no niche that it plays, so it’s not even worth throwing into my feed readers. Maybe the site will grow up a little later on and will be worth revisiting, but currently it’s just not my cup of tea.
Love SciFi. Hate Fidgit.

Is social networking right for your product?

At a recent dinner meeting for digital media executives, they asked me several questions about social networking, and how I viewed the digital medium. I explained my views on advertising and subscribers but then we got into social networking.
Don’t get me wrong, social networking is great. It fits a niche and helps drive different types of advertising. But the question is more of, is social networking right for your product? Let’s take the powerhouse Facebook for example since currently they’re one of the social kings. Have you ever noticed that they’ve never ever offered to take more detailed personal information in a survey form? Perhaps incentives to get you to give it up? Why not? They advertise, but they blanket advertise. To me, that’s just a waste, especially in a social medium.
When given a social medium, you’re already grouping your audiences together by whatever. For example, college alumni will be parts of alumni groups. Thus, this information is invaluable for those vendors that sell school products or even discounted plane tickets to X,Y,Z game. There are all sorts of ways to target your audience in a social medium, especially in such a clean interface as FaceBook.
Another question you must ask is, is social networking right for your product? Or are you just leaping on the bandwagon because that’s the funky new internet term that you’ve picked up this year? Social networking is great as long as you understand how your audience views your current product and can be applied in a similar fashion. But in the case that your audience doesn’t usually share your product with others anyways, then it becomes a useless gimmick that is a costly expense. Think of it in this fashion. With the street racing, aftermarket parts such as NOS tanks and stabilizers are very useful. But if you’re driving a Yugo and you stick a NOS system on it, then not only is it pretty useless, but you weren’t in the same league to start.
The real determination when it comes to products is that while new Internet tools and terminology is great to be a part of and you want to leverage the hot tech terminology, if it doesn’t fit your product then don’t use it. Product design and development is a process of research and analysis, not so much of marketing fads. Can the two be mixed? Sure, as long as you keep them separated. The moment you start leaping on bandwagons without understanding why, could be the downfall of your product line.
Photo Credit: (JoonYoung.Kim)

News & Record’s forward thinking

nrlogo.jpg This happened a while back, but I’ve been watching it closely and I’m really proud of N&R. Years ago (back in 2005), they asked me what young people were looking for since they were looking to change their paper.
And I told them. News on the fly. It comes out? We want to know. That’s what new generations are about. Give it to me as fast as it comes or else I can get it elsewhere more quickly.
After a couple focus groups and what not, N&R revamped how they look at their online image. And it shows. Using Twitterfeed, they’re sending a RSS feed of the local headings and the links to Twitter. Only six Twitter followers currently, but I can tell you that when it comes to getting local news fast, this is right there with reading local blogs. Bravo, N&R. Bravo.
Now to see what you do next to change the way news is distributed.

Why do we listen to reporters?

I know this sounds crazy but sometimes to sensationalize news, reporters go out of their way.
Almost ridiculously outside of common sense. For example. They were talking about the gas and oil pricing fluctuations on CNBC a while back. The anchor asked why the pump prices didn’t reflect the dip in the crude and the reporter claimed that it was because it would take a couple weeks like a delayed pricing.
Yeah, that defies all logic. When crude goes up, the price at the pump goes up almost in sync. To claim this is almost on the side of absurd. Yet, the public just takes it in because someone “said so”. Another was the recent interview at a Detroit Chrysler plant with MSNBC. The guy in charge of restructuring gave some PR answers on how agile they were instead of hard facts when the MSNBC anchor asked about competition with the likes of the Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota.
I’ll tell you exactly why Toyota can beat Chrysler in manufacturing. If I’m not mistaken, in the span of a day or so, a Toyota plant can be converted to produce pretty much any line they currently make. You can’t do the same with a Chrysler plant. That flexibility is what is costing the Big 3. But the anchor just stood by and ate it up.
People need to think for themselves a little bit. The news is there, and the facts are reported, but make a serious effort to link cause and effect instead of standing idly by and just taking it in. I know it’s difficult to actually want to do logical reasoning when you’re stuck in a zombified state in front of the brain eating tube, but you must.
Must… make… decisions…for…self.

Blogger wins rights as journalist in court battle

A South Carolinian blogger has won for all bloggers due to the judge ruling against the plaintiff’s attorney due to abusive practices. What’s definitely interesting is this bit:

“It’s not the format it’s the content and intention that make text journalism / reporting.”

Meanwhile, this doesn’t mean that you cannot be sued for defamation. It also doesn’t mean that you are not bound by rules and can go off on this, that or the other thing. However, it does say that bloggers can act as journalists even though it’s a different medium, and are protected as such. Critical reporting does not equate to defamation in this case. And because of it, it sets an incredible precedence.