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PBS NewsHour and Social Media – How to Make the Most of Your Content

Have you ever wondered how hierarchical traditional media organizations are finding their place in the new media world? The Bivings Report got to find out just that about PBS’s iconic NewsHour – a program that has been on the air for more than thirty years and whose follows span many generations. This event was a meetup sponsored by DC Media Makers (DCMM) and featured NewsHour’s media coordinator Kate Gardiner.

During the course of the DCMM-sponsored discussion held at the NPR headquarters, a media-savvy audience and Gardiner talked about everything from Facebook fan pages to their preferences for comment management systems on blogs. NewsHour’s unique demographics do not lend themselves perfectly well to the internet age, since the average age of their viewer is over 55. However, this creates an opportunity for Gardiner and her team of online and broadcast journalists to focus on winning over and retaining younger viewers.  The NewsHour program is now posting a larger quantity of online-only content and story exclusives in order to continue engaging with their fan base.

Some interesting statistics about NewsHour’s online outreach:

  • Between all of the show and anchors’ Twitter accounts – a tweet is able to reach over 80,000 people
  • NewsHour’s Facebook fan base is 60% male, and 40% female (the mathematic opposite of Facebook’s actual gender beak down)
  • During the recent BP oil spill, the NewsHour website had more simultaneous viewers than the NewsHour  television broadcast
  • Only 31 percent of PBS’s news traffic comes from web referrals
  • The May 2010 NewsHour Gulf Leak Meter widget allowed users to estimate how much oil has been spilled into the Gulf Coast, and resulted in millions of page views to the NewsHour site

For Kate Gardiner’s own notes and discussions on the topic, see her blog post at –  http://posterous.kategardiner.com/a-summary-of-my-social-media-engagement-stati

Below is the video we took of various parts of the speech:

A Recap of NDN's Panel on Advancing Internet Freedom

On Tuesday July 20th 2010, NDN hosted a speaker panel titled Advancing Internet Freedom: Tackling Barriers to the Global Free Flow of Information. This event featured Daniel Calingaert and Anita Ramasastry two prominent authorities on the topic of internet censorship and the power of online freedom of speech. During their presentations, both presenters discussed topics ranging from mobile economic opportunities abroad to further US government regulation of internet content.

The NDN forum touched heavily upon the groundwork laid by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s January 2010 speech on internet freedom that was lauded as the first of its kind for a foreign policy decision maker.   Clinton spoke about issues of international censorship over the press and individual media publishers, and warned about the “new information curtain” that is cutting off information to developing nations with totalitarian governments.

Both speakers at the “Advancing Internet Freedom” event discussed the role of domestic and foreign government in regulation and expansion of internet services – particularly as they relate to ordinary citizens.  Echoing Secretary Clinton’s remark that “the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it,” Anita Ramasastry discussed the importance advocating for oppressed peoples through greater access to technology and information.  Subsequently, Daniel Calingaert spoke about the rights of citizens and the importance of not accepting censorship in the name of political stability. Both speakers stressed the empowerment of citizens though the creation and sharing of content on social media and internet websites. 

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.

Fundraising 2.0: Choosing The Right Site

Social media may dominate the conversation when it comes to Web 2.0, but there is untapped potential seen by corporations and organizations, who are left asking: how can I use this to raise funds? There are several websites now aiming to combine the powerful networking capability of social media and the fundraising capabilities of independent web sites. These sites enable individuals and organizations to reach their donors directly at little or no cost, giving them an alternative to mailed-in donations of years past. Through online fundraising sites, individuals have the power to not only support their favorite causes, but to spread the word about them virally.

One of the first major players in online fundraising, Globalgiving.com has led the charge in online giving since 2004, gathering “$18 million in funding to more than 1,000 grassroots projects in over 90 countries”. Organizations can post projects to the site such as “Nurture 15 at-risk children for a year” or “Make college an option for 70 Congolese students”. Globalgiving, founded by former World Bank executives, takes a 15% share of every donation to cover the costs of finding projects and credit card processing. They also provide a giving channel for large corporations such as Nike, Ford and HP.

Offering a more personal version of giving online, and with a similarly long track record in online fundraising sector is stayclassy.org. With a simple premise, “What do you care about?”, the site is a platform for groups and individuals to create events and campaigns, manage donor relationships, raise funds, create publicity through social media and track fundraising results. Founded in 2006, stayclassy.org was one of the first personal online fundraising options and had 20,000 members by 2009.

One of the newest online fundraising options is Crowdrise, led and supported by celebrities such as Edward Norton and Will Ferrell, oddly enough. It works like this: you sign up on the site, and start a project. It could be anything, from a personal cause fundraiser, to an event, or a volunteer opportunity. You then use other social media sites like facebook or twitter to gather donations or volunteers, and then spread your cause through your page on Crowdrise to gather supporters that can either donate to your cause or use their own networks to spread the word The site is focused around making philanthropy cool, with the tagline: “If you don’t give back, no one will like you” and a points system that rewards project leaders with gifts like Northface Jackets and Apple laptops.

Sites such as these are only one way the Internet is fundamentally changing personal giving. Stay updated on how other forms of social media are shifing the definition of philanthropy and the nature of fundraising with the Bivings Report’s “Fundraising 2.0” series.

Pakistan’s Media Ban: Limiting Access and Spurring Action

When I traveled around Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital last month on an independent reporting project, all the sources I encountered under the age of 40 asked me the same question: “Are you on Facebook?”

The social networking site is massively popular in the Islamic republic, and this week’s ban – and subsequent banning of YouTube and nearly 1,000 other social sites – stifles the communication of a population with very few social freedoms.

The ban, set in place Wednesday, resulted from an admittedly ill-advised Facebook group calling for celebrations and submissions of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” Depicting the prophet is  forbidden in Islam.

While Pakistan is led by a notoriously tight government, they have one of the most open media systems in the world. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ushered in an age of journalism allowing dozens of new TV news channels and publications to flourish. While not all of the reporting is responsible, Pakistanis have enjoyed open access to media sources, including websites, for some time.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, which implemented the bans, reacted to the protests of thousands across the country offended by the Facebook group, so the ban is not coming only from the government, but from its citizens.

“I am in favour of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. But there needs to be a fine line drawn. Otherwise freedom of expression can turn into freedom to offend,” Pakistani blogger Kashif Aziz said in a BBC News interview.

Another blogger, however, took the side of many of Pakistan’s young voices, saying although only 8 percent of Pakistanis have internet access, but that it provides a critical means of communication and expression.

"The internet has become a way of life itself. If they continue to block things, this is going to hinder Pakistan’s progress,” said Dr. Awab Alvi to the BBC.

The ban on Facebook could be in place until May 31, and the date for lifting the wall to other sites are being addressed individually.