Written by Michael on March 6th, 2011
I’ve been away from OFNT while I spend time on the front lines, but I took some shore leave (or whatever) this weekend to give a short presentation and eat some collaboratively decorated cupcakes at yesterday’s delightful PortlandWiki barnraising, which also featured Brian Kerr of ArborWiki and Mark Dilley of AboutUs and WikiIndex.
Here’s a slightly improved version of the short presentation I gave. I’m an unusual advocate for wikis because I approach them primarily as a way to deliver information and only secondarily as a way to collaborate. I think this is a fairly good summary of the basic reason I chose a wiki as the main web component of Portland Afoot.
Written by Michael on October 10th, 2010
To paraphrase the great Daniel Okrent, of course it does.
But I need evidence.
I’m about to spend a few days scouring the country for signs that, for example, receiving your college’s alumni magazine makes you more likely to donate to your college. That receiving a AAA magazine makes you more likely to remain a AAA member. That receiving Lucky makes you more likely to go shopping.
Obviously all these things are true. But from the calls I’ve made so far, I’m starting to worry that this research has never been done, at least by academics. After a string of calls to the MPA, MMC, and my own j-school, the only lead I’ve turned up is some evidence that taking the newspaper makes you more likely to vote.
Aha, just what the industry needs: more spinach.
Sponsored print distribution is one of the few models for journalism that seems steadfastly profitable. Wouldn’t it be nice if, in addition to research demonstrating the civic virtue of the jobs they used to have, journalism professors were doing more research testing the commercial value of new ideas? If you happen to know of any who have, drop me a line.
Written by Michael on February 9th, 2010
Not a lot public. But a little.
Lots of changes, and more on the way.
Written by Michael on November 26th, 2009
Here’s one small thing I learned at Saturday’s We Make the Media conference: from now on I’m going to avoid describing shifts in the journalism market as a “revolution.”
Not because it’s adversarial. Because it’s a false promise.
Revolutions replace the institutions they destroy. And revolutions end.
There’s more »
Written by Michael on November 2nd, 2009
Jeff Jarvis has been pooh-poohing news that’s subsidized by governments or do-gooders:
I see another danger … that not-for-profit ventures will delay or even choke off for-profit, sustainable entrepreneurship in news. I would prefer to see various of the many funders who gave funds to not-for-profit endeavors – note $5 million give to a new not-for-profit entity in the Bay area – instead had invested in for-profit companies that can build companies that support and sustain themselves rather than rely on hand-outs. That is God’s work.
Jarvis intends this as a paean to capitalism. But he’s got a weirdly non-capitalist way of thinking about nonprofits.
Jarvis’s notion that nonprofits are an anomaly in the market system — and therefore less “sustainable” — forgets the fact that nonprofits produce goods and function within the market system like anybody else.
Sometimes they produce public services for governments. Sometimes they produce warm fuzzies for rich donors.
Wherever the money comes from, a successful nonprofit has found a market for whatever it’s producing. That’s God’s work, too.
Written by Michael on September 18th, 2009
From the most important essay about the news business I’ve read this year:
“Among the assumptions I wanted to test … was the idea that news consumers really are looking for context rather than merely the latest news. After all, during years of working in online newsrooms, I’d seen plenty of deep, contextual news packages ignored by our site users in favor of weather updates and crime reports.
“The financial crisis provided an early test of this assumption. At the time, news about the crisis was ubiquitous. All at once, every news organization was unearthing news about a different aspect of the meltdown—the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the role of the Community Reinvestment Act, the status of the bailout plan wending its way through Congress. Amidst all this news, would people choose context?
“The answer was yes. The breakthrough news item of the year wasn’t an investigation that yielded some hot new scoop, it was a piece of on-the-record explanatory reporting by ‘This American Life’ and National Public Radio that went wildly viral. ‘The Giant Pool of Money’ went on to become the most downloaded episode in the history of ‘This American Life,’ garnering the award trifecta of a duPont, Peabody and Polk for its producers. Many listeners said they’d been tuning out all those crisis-related headlines until they heard the episode. For them, ‘The Giant Pool of Money’ was like a decoder ring for this news story. And once you heard it, you wanted more.”
Written by Michael on August 12th, 2009
Second in a series.
Here’s one of four core principles for today’s media market: these days, talk is cheap.
It’s a simple idea. Take a lesson from Uncle Buffett and his acolytes at Morningstar: your castle is only as good as its moat. If others can easily invade your market, it’s a bad business.
Expressing an interesting opinion is relatively easy. It requires intelligence and skill, but not a lot of work or time. Yesterday, therefore, it was doled out as a reward to people who had already put in lots of work and time.
There’s more »
Written by Michael on July 31st, 2009
First in a series.
Here’s one of my four core principles for today’s media market: these days, relevance is mandatory.
I’m not talking about some of your content. I’m talking about all of your content.
If you’re not scared yet, you should be.
Yesterday, distribution costs were high, which made information scarce. The only way to distribute information was to spend lots of capital on a printing press or a broadcast tower. The only way to make this investment pay off was to make everyone interested in your content.
There’s more »