iPad apps are our flagship newspaper products, says News Corp’s James Murdoch

James Murdoch highlights the revenue potential but also the risks of iPad apps, in an interview at the Monaco Media Forum: “Our flagship newspaper products are now the iPad apps,” Murdoch said, and they pose a greater risk. “The problem with the apps is they’re much more directly cannabilistic of the core print product than the web site.” He added, “People interact more. They don’t dip in and out. The key is to get the advertising yields” to be the same. Combine that with the lower production costs, and the business model for apps could be highly attractive.

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Providing the information you didn’t know you wanted — Google CEO Eric Schmidt on newspapers, monetisation and the semantic web

Snippets from a Wall Street Journal interview with Schmidt:

Says Mr. Schmidt, a generation of powerful handheld devices is just around the corner that will be adept at surprising you with information that you didn’t know you wanted to know. “The thing that makes newspapers so fundamentally fascinating—that serendipity—can be calculated now. We can actually produce it electronically,” Mr. Schmidt says.[…]

On one thing, however, Google is willing to bet: “The only way the problem [of insufficient revenue for news gathering] is going to be solved is by increasing monetization, and the only way I know of to increase monetization is through targeted ads. That’s our business.”[…]

“As you go from the search box [to the next phase of Google], you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant. And that’s basically the role of [Artificial Intelligence]. I think we will be the world leader in that for a long time.”

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Three fallacies of newspaper thinking (and how paywalls cracked…)

Three fallacies of newspapers’ assumptions about online content, highlighted by a discussion of paywalls etc, summarised by William Owen of Made by Many:

1) the internet is free because of a mix of habit and a spurious moral right, and that if you can change habits and challenge morality we’ll go back to paying for content.

2) a newspaper’s competition is other newspapers.

3) nothing else changes, content is still just the end product of the publishing process.

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How news organisations are using Google Wave to engage their audience

The Chicago Tribune’s RedEye has a live public Wave on news every weekday morning. Hilary Fosdal writes:
“With each Daily Wave, RedEye connects with their readers and builds a sense of community. The RedEye is also demonstrating that is sees itself as more than a newspaper and more than a blog by embracing innovative technology that encourages a continuous and dynamic discussion about the news.

Robert Quigley, social media editor of the Austin American-Statesman has also held public waves with his readers.

“The challenge right now is keeping public waves on topic. If they get more than 50 blips discussion grinds to a halt […] for Google Wave to work during a news event, there needs to be the ability to moderate and/or easily spin something into another wave and link to it in the first wave to keep it on topic.” ”

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Three things for newspapers to work on, suggests Google boss Eric Schmidt

From his Q&A with The Times:

"Personalize the news – at its best, the on-line version of a newspaper should learn from the information I'm giving it – what I've read, who I am and what I like – to automatically send me stories and photos that will interest me.

Make the content available anywhere – as more "smart" or web-enabled phones hit the market there will be even greater access to what can be considered mobile reading platforms. […]

Embrace journalism as a two-way conversation – the advent of real-time reporting […] means micro-blogging and citizen journalism are here to stay. This phenomenon, combined with the potential benefits to the reader of knowing what their friends or others are reading or saying about events, means newspapers now have a chance to be a 21st century community forum. The more this dialog among and between the newspaper and its readers develops, the greater the opportunity newspapers will have to make money from their content."

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UK news sites see 54% increase in hits from USA

Robin Goad of Hitwise sets out the figures, noting that the Drudge Report is the second-largest source, sandwiched by Google Search (top) and Google News (third):

“UK Internet visits to News and Media websites grew by 8% last year, but British news sites aren’t just being successful at home. As the chart below illustrates, US Internet visits to UK News and Media websites have increased by 54% over the last 12 months.

BBC News ranked as the 21st most visited News and Media website in US during August, while the Daily Mail was 47th and the BBC Homepage 65th. Other British sites in the US News and Media top 200 last month included: the Telegraph (71st), the FT (115th), The Sun (117th), Times Online (131st) and the Guardian (134th).

The growth of British news sites is somewhat slower in Australia, but then they are starting from a larger base; BBC News ranked 13th in the Australian News and Media category last month, for example, while the corporation’s homepage was 18th.”

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Paying the price: cost of Johnston Press’s debt

Sobering stuff as Peter Kirwan spells out the numbers underlying Johnston Press’s refinancing of £485m debt. As he puts it, “the maths are grim”, concluding that:

the running total for bank payments comes to £75.2m during the next year. Remarkably, this equates to an annualised interest rate of neither 5% nor 10%, but 15.5%.

This, remember, is before Johnston Press repays any of its outstanding loans. Here, too, the terms of the deal are draconian. In addition to everything else, the company has promised to repay £85m of debt by next May.

Now clearly, this is a lot of money for a rapidly-shrinking regional newspaper publisher that turned in £27.5m in pre-tax profits during the first six months of this year.

Kirwan then raises the prospect — if Johnston is unable to repay that £85m by May 2010 — of payment in kind (PIK) penalties, which could take the effective interest rate to 20% or more. Gulp.

Welcome To 2007: Johnston Press Bans Facebook | paidContent:UK

"Can any modern news publishing business justify banning its staff from accessing social networking sites? While many national and regional newspapers have now reversed earlier decisions to ban workplace access to time-sapping Facebook—Johnston Press has set the clock back to 2007 and informed staff at The Scotsman and its other Edinburgh papers that Facebook is banned except in special cases. In a memo, (via Allmediascotland), JP management warn reporters that “a recent review” found more than half of the company’s entire outbound traffic is to Facebook so it has no choice but it stop people visiting. the Memo reads: “Journalists who require access should seek approval from their departmental head, who should contact the Group Helpdesk to have the permission restored.”

Just like Friends Reunited before it, Facebook has become a standard reporting tool for many local and regional reporters—one JP journalist told me recently they couldn’t imagine working without it.

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Print is still king: Only 3 percent of newspaper reading happens online » Nieman Journalism Lab

Martin Langeveld does some estimates to get to this three percent figure and concludes:

"So whether you look at page views or time spent reading, only around 3 percent of newspaper reading happens online. I’ve made a few estimates along the way to reach that conclusion, but only a drastic and unwarranted change in my few guestimates would change that result signficantly.

Is it any wonder then, that online revenue is stuck at less than 10 percent of the print revenue? Given the online share of audience attention, 10 percent looks high, actually."

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Journalists must change thinking to change industry | Save the Media

Gina Chen on the need for change in journalism:

Much of what gets done in newsrooms is reflexive — done almost without thinking: We do it because we’ve always done it. We do it because that’s what newspapers do. We do it because we don’t want to have to come up with our own ideas. We do it because we don’t want to get blamed if a higher-up complains that we didn’t do it. […]

I challenge all journalists and bloggers — and I include myself in this — to ask Jarvis’ question — Am I adding value? – before doing anything on the job. In my experience, the hurried newsroom culture doesn’t encourage deep thinking. In my 20 years in a variety of newsrooms, I’ve found decisions on what to cover or how to cover it are often rooted in journalistic routines, which is a fancy way of saying “that’s how we always do it.”

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