A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

The London Times' Pay Wall and Future Impacts on Online Publishing

The London Times is one of the first major global newspapers to begin implementing an internet pay wall for access to its news and editorial content. This bold move by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is part of an overall strategy to move toward a paid online content distribution system, and is aimed at helping to turn a profit for the flailing newspaper publishing industry. Before the launch of this pay wall, The London Times had the 40th largest newspaper circulation in the world, and the results of  the profit-driven wall could be indicative of what the rest of the newspaper industry can expect to undergo in the coming years.

The paywall restriction went into full effect in early July 2010, and first reported subscriber figures look disappointing. Numbers of readers is down across the board, despite the newspaper’s effort to reach out to new readers. Access to the site currently costs 2£ per week – which is a substantial discount from the paper subscription price.  However, for the week ending July 10th, reports indicate that overall traffic fell to only 33% of its pr-pay wall level.  The Times supports both standard operating systems and the iPad OS, allowing readers with WiFi connections to read content on the go.

In an August 2006 research reports, The Bivings Group looked at the use of internet by America’s newspapers, and a great deal has changed in the four years since the findings were released.

What this means for The Future of Pay Walls

The pay wall is generating profit, but if page views exponentially decline, then the Times’ online ad revenue will undoubtedly suffer. A market leader in the United States, the Wall Street Journal runs a fiscally profitable pay wall, due in part to the fact that its site content is highly valued across the globe. The London Times may be encountering problems due to having no-cost substitutes Issues with low initial readership may be overcome if the newspaper’s other competitors institute similar pay walls and leave the reader no choice than to pay 2£ per week to read their favorite newspapers.

The Age of Fundraising 2.0 Begins

Non-profits and political advocacy groups, while some of the most people-powered and well-supported organizations around, are not necessarily known for being early adopters of web-based tools. Although they are based in interaction with people and causes, the true driving force of organizations such as these always has been and always will be their ability to fundraise. So now that the internet has fully changed the way everyday people communicate, interact and represent themselves, how can it change the way organizations raise funds for causes people actually care about? New media advocates say social media should be a two-way street: content from the organization itself, and input from their users. Now, however, a third avenue of use for social media is opening: Connection between non-profit groups, the people supporting them, and the donations providing their bread and butter. In this space in upcoming weeks, the Bivings Report will offer a comprehensive look at how social media and the changing online landscape can impact the fundraising process. With installments focused on the use of different social media platforms, online fundraising web-sites and what your organization’s use of these could be, we here at the Bivings Report hope to offer an in-depth look at how the next step in the internet can give your organization a leg up when it comes to raising money. 

PdF: Let's Talk About Text

In the world of news, Markos Moulitsas feels that his website The Daily Kos is ancient, claiming that the website is "Eight years old, or 56 in dog years, which makes it 2,000 in internet years."

Day two of PdF brought us "Rethinking Media," where the founder and publisher highlighted the buildup to war in 2002, which he called "a difficult, trying time for progressives, akin to treason" for dissent. Moulitsas said that at the time his frame of mind was steeped in frustration. His childhood included a love of news and politics, including pricey subscriptions to local Chicago newspapers at a cost to his hard-working parents.

Moulitsas detailed what he felt was a vacuum of truth and objectivity in traditional news media in the face of declining ratings and advertising shares. He felt empowered paying  $8.95 for a domain name and launching The Daily Kos, a progressive blog. He explained that having the website as an outlet made him and other future bloggers change from passive sideliners to content creators, and much of it was facilitated by low-startup costs.He feels that blogging brings in people from all walks of life, creating new voices, and encouraging a new, collaborative form of media.

Moulitsas cited how even a year ago, the idea of having bloggers ask the President a question was considered unheard of, yet now is a regular occurrence. In his opinion, blogging has changed the landscape of news, where there is no difference between television, newspapers, or blogs. He noted that comments, reporting, and the delivery of video and print are now the same across the board, an amalgamation of content.

In this new era, he sees an emergence of platforms and purpose, as opposed to layout and presentation.

He prides the Daily Kos for committing themselves to polling, commissioning more than any other news organization. He wants to create a culture that doesn't assume to know what the opinion of the American public is, saying the website is moderated by the community itself, who by establishing the culture of the website give the readers ownership of the content.

One interesting fact Moulitsas mentioned: Users of his website stay for 48 minutes on average, versus 1 hour spent on the Drudge Report. He mentioned that those numbers are almost double the average for the traditional media sites.

Video from PDF is streaming live at http://personaldemocracy.com/live .

You can also keep up with the latest Tweets. Check out the PdF Twitterslurp at http://personaldemocracy.com/twitter , powered by The Bivings Group.

Event hashtag is #pdf10.

Oscar Sunday Gets Social on Facebook

As most of you may know, this Sunday is the 82nd Academy Awards.  While I’m not happy with some of the retro changes (let’s be honest and say that the ten Best Pic nominees could’ve been whittled down to four films, including one that was completely overlooked, The Informant) we’ll see in this weekend’s ceremony, I thought it was worth pointing out some new social media promotion tactics the Academy is trying out this year.

For the first time, the Oscars will broadcast red carpet coverage online, thanks to their partnership with Facebook, and will give users like you a chance to ask your favorite actor a question.  According to their page:

“We know you’re used to seeing stars at the Academy Awards®, but now for the very first time you can get involved! Oscar.com has partnered with Facebook to bring you Oscar.com Live from the Red Carpet, a very special online pre-show that allows you to watch the stars walk the Red Carpet and answer questions from fans like you. Yes, you read that right!

Join hosts Lisa Guerrero and Brett Chukerman as they cover all the action unfolding outside the Kodak Theater. Using your Facebook account, you can send a message to them on the Red Carpet, and they’ll pass along the best questions and comments in real time to the stars that sashay by. But that’s not all! Rico Rodriguez (Manny from the ABC hit comedy Modern Family) will also be on hand to meet and interview fans in attendance, as they experience all the glitz and glamour right from the Red Carpet.”

For viewers who like options and have either Facebook or Twitter log-ins, they can go to APLive and see streaming coverage there as well.   APLive is also making this available on their Facebook page, but users will have to become a fan in order to see the coverage, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 1,373 fans of the page jumps to a significantly higher number over the weekend** (See update).   This streaming event is the first of many for the year-long partnership between APLive and Livestream.

If you really feel like you need more connection to this year’s awards, there are a few iPhone Apps available for download for this (again, let’s be honest) very crowded awards year.   One thing I probably will be checking out this weekend is Adam Shankman’s Twitter feed, one of the two being promoted on Oscar.com.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic or snobby.  There were some great films this year and I’ll take a moment to throw out my top picks for Best Picture:

  1. Up (Pixar just knows how to pull at the heartstrings)
  2. Inglorious Basterds
  3. The Informant (what movie? Netflix it when it comes out later this month)
  4. An Education (probably my pick of the year)
  5. Honorable Mention: Drag Me to Hell (I’m not being cute here. It really is a great film.)

Update:  We all know the winner’s from last night’s ceremony.  Another Update**: AP Live’s Facebook page now has 7,672 fans.

New NewsHour Site Spotlights Multimedia Content and Team

During last year’s election cycle, I worked as the Online NewsHour’s associate editor for the Vote 2008 site, and while the site and show changed considerably during my year and a half there, bold revisions on the site today (and soon, the show) demonstrate an invigorated energy at the organization to keep up with new media during rocky times for traditional journalism.

In addition to a new design layout, some new site features include a new blog, written by both online and on-air employees, and the promotion of online video, something the site’s actually had for a long time but was never given its due prominence.

Of course, one of the most prominent features of the site and show is its new correspondent. Hari Sreenivasan, who comes to the NewsHour from years at CBS News, will be joining the on-air broadcast and working with the Online team to combine new media efforts.

Sreenivasan talked to The Bivings Group about the new site and the strategy behind its design.

… and about new social media and outreach efforts.

… and last, what other news outlets can learn from the redesign.

Blending the traditional program with Online efforts has not been an easy task. It took years to get the teams in the even in the same building, let alone the same work space.

Many of the new initiatives emerge due to pressure from dwindling sponsorship resources earlier in the year.

“Newspapers are thinning, and television has its own crisis,” show anchor Jim Lehrer said in an interview with the New York Times in May.

With the Online changes come revisions to the show format and a new name. Starting Monday, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” will officially become “The PBS NewsHour.”

All of these changes reflect a struggle within Public Broadcasting to find a place across all media spaces, promoting brand without losing purpose.

Lehrer told the New York Times in a more recent article, that he’s “’very concerned about serious journalism,’ and for longtime practitioners of the craft, ‘we damn well better get with it.’”