Posts Tagged ‘Digital Media’

Today we launched the new
Thank’s to the magnificent and tireless work of an army of engineers, designers, programmers, product managers, editors, etc., under the direction of Gannett Digital president David Payne, we are taking a huge step into the future, not without risk, by creating what we believe is a major step for our viewers and advertisers.
The new is a dramatic change for both.

For our readers and viewers it represents a significant step toward visual storytelling, but one that respects the fact that no two readers are alike, especially during times of significant technological change. We give you several options on how to view news, information, entertainment and advertising but all involve significant curation by our editorial staff, the heart and soul of the value we bring to this storytelling process. This creation is truly a collaborative work between dedicated technologists and equally dedicated journalists.

We give the reader the ability to use visuals or words in varying degrees in their consumption process. And we will do it in varying degrees. If the reader wants, for example, he or she can view each story by starting with a photograph or a video. They can even use a device we call “Cover Mode” (see the little book-like design at the top of the page) that allows them to see each story via a full-page photograph, the most dramatic use of still photography in the storytelling process we have ever seen on the Internet.

We give you the ability to view by our definition of importance or by anyone’s definition of timeliness. By merely scrolling over a visual reference to a story they can also see more text to put that story in context. And by viewing our “Right Now” column along the right side of the page, you will see relevant social media reactions to the ongoing story in real-time.
Our horizontal navigation, inspired by the growing and already massive use of tablets, allows the reader to “peruse” the sections or the stories on the site by turning pages, re-imagining the “discovery” process we so love in the print media. It allows you to be surprised by content you didn’t know existed, but to do so at your own speed, depending upon your time and inclination.

Cover View: A new way to peruse stories through their most dramatic images

The horizontal “page-turning” experience also allows our advertisers to reclaim the full-page ad they so dearly want and need. We allow those advertisers the chance to use the entire palate in whatever way they want to grab your attention, all the time giving you the same ability you had in print to turn the page. But watch out, you are going to see some wonderful ads that use dramatic visual tools from interactivity to video to draw you in.

Advertising in general has also changed in a big way on this site. Gone are the many small units that appears in different places on the page, frequently below the “fold” or unavailable until you scrolled down. We listened to our readers and our advertisers, and we have reacted by giving both a better experience. We have limited the advertisers to fewer but much more dramatic positions, giving them the same chance we are giving ourselves of telling their stories better and reaching more people with increasingly dramatic tools.

This is truly a major step into the new world of digital storytelling, one that empowers them, as storytellers with their own story to tell, to use every tool available: video, audio, text, photography, interactivity and more to tell his or her story. This is a step in the reinvention of storytelling, it’s also a step in the reinvention of how news will be created and consumed. We’re extremely excited to be part of that process.

Much more to come. Watch over the next few weeks as we roll out our new tablet and mobile apps, and if you haven’t recently, take a look at our print newspaper, too. It has also begun to embrace the strengths of a print product in today’s media mix and you will be surprised. And we are making it easier on all platforms for you to contact us. In the spirit of this new era of communications, please send us your comments, ideas and suggestion.

Two years ago comedy star Rob Corddry (from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) launched an hysterical web-only comedy series called Childrens Hospital on Several of Corddry’s pals, including Megan Mullaly, Erinn Hayes, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms and others appeared in the series of short episodes that debuted in 2008-2009. It was series of 10 five-minutes episodes that were a terrific parody of several hospital-based television series that barely stayed in the bounds of taste, even on the web!

Next Sunday, July 11, 2010, at 10:30 pm, The show will debut on cable TV on TBS’ Adult Swim, which takes over the Cartoon Network from 10pm to 6am every night.

“There are no standards whatsoever!” Corddry told New York Mag in an interview when the show originally launched in 2008. “Very conducive to the Internet: Sick and Filthy.”

The series chronicles the sick and twisted lives of several doctors in their “surreal and weird world” of a childrens hospital.

Two years and a Webby Award later, Children’s Hospital makes its contribution to the decline and fall of the old TV business model by proving ideas can now start on the internet and find their way to mainstream television. Even though this series was incubated by the web division of Warner Bros., it’s proof that the Internet is starting to fulfill its promise of lowering the cost bar to creative development.

This is a significant moment. It chips away at the barrier between the worlds of YouTube and traditional television.

Some of the original cast will stay, and are joined by Henry Winkler, Lake Bell and others. Guest stars will include Ed Begley Jr., John Cho, Rachel Harris and many more are in the new episodes that were made in LA this spring by Warner Bros. Television.

We are seeing several fresh examples of main stream media beginning to focus on what it has to do to survive and thrive in the future. Every day we find another example of media companies daring to change their model to adapt to the new world the face, and give the consumer a more relevant and useful product.

Today’s examples are in the area closest to my heart, news. Everyone has seen the business models of news organizations fall apart over the past several years. During that process these major players have done little besides cut costs to manages profits or losses. Few have aggressively tried to change their product to adapt to what consumers now want.

First, we have what may be the biggest news brand in the world, CNN, making a major decision to drop use of the Associated Press, and use the money it spends on that to focus on original content. It is critical for news organizations to give their customers compelling content that is difficult to find elsewhere. Original content becomes even more important when there is virtually no barrier to entry for people to create a news site using the Associated Press to provide the basic story it provides everywhere.

“We are taking an important next step in the content- ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN’s global newsgathering investments,” CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton told his staff in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News, and confirmed by CNN. CNN’s primary source for its news will now be itself. Hopefully this move will also hasten the convergence of CNN’s television and web operations in to one cohesive news force.

The second move I want to highlight today might on the surface seem like a contradiction. But it’s not. It’s a great example of solid news organizations doing something else they will have to do from now on, “curating” information and news from other sources for their readers.

Marketwatch and CNN Money websites have gone to Twitter-based financial service StockTwits to provide them each with widgets that will reside on their sites and give the large audiences both sites enjoy a glimpse into the trading rooms. StockTwit’s tweets generally reflect the topics being bandied about on trading desks in realtime. So no matter how well Marketwatch and CNN Money know their audiences, they know that StockTweets offers a different perspective, and one that is impossible for a news organization to do on its own.

While MarketWatch and CNN Money are embracing the art of curation, by getting help cutting through the noise that is the crowd on wall street, the CNN move seems to be going in the opposite direction and eliminating outside content from it’s sites. But actually, the CNN move is really solving a more critical problem it has. In CNN’s case this is an opportunity to have resources to develop its own voice and more original content, which it desperately needs. It needs to bringmore original news and content closer to CNN’s consumers on whatever platform they are using at the time. They are creating positions at headquarters and in bureaus to get information on TV more quickly and they are starting something called “CNN Share,” which will package breaking news immediately for distribution over mobile, the web and on television. CNN can no longer afford to be giving consumers news they feel they can get anywhere, from anyone.

As newspapers continue to struggle, traditional news-aggregation sites like AOL and Yahoo are planning to produce more original content. Are they the future of journalism?

Over the past several months, as many of the traditional pillars of journalism have begun to show severe economic strain, there are new signs of a growing future for original content on online platforms.

Early Internet portals like AOL and Yahoo, after years of describing themselves as only aggregators of other sources’ content, have now changed course and begun to build what might be the next generation of journalistic powerhouses. They have aggressively moved into the media space by becoming creators of original content in areas such as politics, finance and the economy, sports, food, travel, and music.

“We intend for AOL to be the largest publisher of high-quality content in the world,” Marty Moe, senior vice president of AOL Media, told Bnet this month. “Furthermore, we are a low-cost producer of high-quality content at scale.” Moe went on to say that AOL enjoyed “structural advantages” over newspapers, magazines, and television networks and was increasingly hiring refugees who have left those places over the past 18 months.

These latest moves come against the backdrop of a deteriorating situation in the traditional media business. The future of journalistic stalwarts like the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, and even The New York Times and Washington Post, has been threatened by the dramatic increase in free and timely news and information from thousands of Web sites, including these newspapers’ own online editions. With advertising dollars shrinking, people are wondering what news outlets will replace the papers. The moves to original content from the former kings of aggregation is an encouraging sign that some companies may come up with the business model that can support serious journalism.

Yahoo’s new CEO, Carol Bartz, who came from a tech background and is an unlikely advocate of content creation, told the Times this month that she will be investing in original content in entertainment, finance, and news, in much the same way as Yahoo already has in sports. She noted to the Times that there were a lot of available, unemployed journalists out there for the picking.

Sites like Politico, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast are all making the same bet: that there is value in original content in addition to aggregation and community, and they are starting to build businesses around that content. In many cases, they are also betting that there is enough Web and mobile readership to support advertising models so they don’t have to charge customers directly.

But invariably, their business models will not be the same. They will vary by the type of audiences they attract, and the unique characteristics of their content. If, for example, stock-market-information sites and sports-betting sites can offer their users actionable information in real time, it’s worth real money to their readers. In fact, they would rather fewer people see that information, to increase their own chances to act on it before others do.

Other very-targeted content sites—even successful ones—are seeing original content as a way to grow their audiences. Take, for example,, on whose board I used to sit. Previously, virtually all of the site’s audience used to come from people using search engines to find sites that deal with credit cards. The business’ original content has drawn more people to the site, many of whom did not expect to look for a new card until they read an article.

There are two primary reasons some of these Internet aggregators may have a leg up on finding the ultimate business model for original content: 1) They already have experience giving audiences the kind of content they want on the new digital platforms; and, 2) They don’t have to support the legacy businesses, like print or broadcast, which have huge cost structures that are becoming less efficient as their audiences splinter off and require multiple distribution systems to reach.

“Principally, we have none of the legacy costs associated with producing print publications, “ AOL’s Moe told Bnet. “For example, we don’t own printing presses, or fleets of delivery trucks. We don’t have the elaborate editorial structures geared to producing products over a printing press.”

While this is all great news for proponents of original content, it’s a shot across the bow of the existing media companies that continue to cut editorial and other content-creation assets as a way to stem losses. They are now increasingly in danger of losing their one advantage—the brand equity they have built as the “go-to” place for whatever category of content they dominate. These new players could have time to build up their reputations and take the entire business away.

Today’s collapse of the Rocky Mountain News has prompted the usual hysterics and hand-wringing over the death of print—but people need to get over the notion that quality news only comes on paper.

OK, so now it has begun. The Rocky Mountain News, Denver’s 150-year-old daily newspaper, is shutting its doors tomorrow. I fear this will begin a stampede to the exits for many of the nation’s newspaper companies.

There can be no doubt that bad news continues to pile on in the newspaper industry, with the economic downturn providing the knockout blow to an already-staggering industry. The Philadelphia newspapers and the Journal Register Company both filed for bankruptcy over the past week. According the Associated Press, four owners of 33 newspapers have sought bankruptcy protection over the last 2 ½ months.

In recent years most newspapers weren’t doing that kind of journalism anyway. Rarely did investigative reporting win out over covering the local sports franchises, for example.

The Hearst Corp. announced that it might close its papers in Seattle and San Francisco if it can’t sell them or find other solutions to the millions of dollars they are losing each week. (That’s right, each week!)

In recent days, both Time and the New Republic have printed huge pieces speculating on how to save the newspaper business, joining a chorus of voices calling for help to save investigative and in-depth reporting by saving the newspaper industry.

Enough already! Let’s do something the industry hasn’t done in years: Listen to its customers. Let’s try giving them what they want. And guess what, they want news. And history has shown us that people will pay—one way or the other—for something they want..

A new poll from the respected Pew Research center tells us that for the first time in history more people say they get their national and international news from the Internet than from newspapers.

It’s time for the industry to listen and follow their customers.

Forget the newspaper industry. Let’s launch the News Industry. Say hello to News Inc. Let’s do what every industry does: Identify consumer demand and meet it.The good news is that consumers are just learning all the new ways they can get news and are still figuring out what works best for them. There is still time for those of us in the news industry to work with them and find out at the same time.

Many of us in the new-media world have known this for a long time and have been building outlets that are serving millions of readers.,, Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, among many others, have built audiences and businesses on this concept, without the benefit of having a traditional media product or news operation as our base. We built these businesses from scratch.

With the head start most media companies have, they should be able to build their digital platform businesses even faster. Some have. More people read the New York Times and the Washington Post online than in print.

What simply must change is this hand-wringing attitude that if newspapers die, so will responsible, in-depth reporting. Enough already. In recent years most newspapers weren’t doing that kind of journalism anyway. Choices were made, and rarely did investigative reporting win out over covering the local sports franchises, for example.

So let’s get this straight. There is a big future for news, journalism, investigative reporting, analysis, in-depth reporting, and terrific storytelling. But we need to do some work to create the business models that will support it.

Let’s stop arguing over whether there is enough advertising to support this, or if there needs to be other ways people pay for content. There are a huge number of alternatives and we just need to do what every business does: Test each possible method. Something will work.

Those models exist—just ask the people at MarketWatch, or Politico (which by the way includes a PRINT newspaper among its products), or, YahooNews,, or countless others.

We need to partner with people who know this new medium, technology and consumer habits. We need to launch new businesses with different revenue streams.

We can build these businesses out of the existing news businesses, but they must accelerate their ability to change and behave more entrepreneurially. They must explain what they are doing to their shareholders and their audience. No one said it would be easy, but they could capitalize on their brand value as trusted sources to their audiences.

But they have to change their focus.

The time has come for News Inc.

Let’s build these new news businesses around the content they cover, not the format in which they deliver the news. There should be one or more newsrooms on Wall Street that will cover Wall Street for every possible kind of outlet, including television, newspapers, BlackBerries, cellphones, magazines and the web. It should be obsessed with informing the public about everything going on in their financial center, good and bad.

There should be another newsroom that covers every major city. Another to cover Washington, or parts of it. Maybe one should just cover Capitol Hill, and another should just cover the White House. Maybe one should cover your state house or your city hall.

Or maybe one should cover your whole city, or just your neighborhood.

In some ways, this looks a bit like an old-fashioned wire-service model. One news-gathering force that supplies its output to many different news outlets. That AP reporter in Moscow would write a story that showed up on the front page of many newspapers across America the next day.

These news companies don’t even have to own their own outlets. They could create their news for partners in each media form: newspapers, phone companies, broadcasters. Each will pay for their news.

If we are going to create models to support news operations in the future, this is the way we will have to do it. Let’s rebuild an industry around its audience.

Larry Kramer is senior adviser at Polaris Venture Partners, a venture-capital firm. He served as the first president of CBS Digital Media and previously was chairman, CEO, and founder of MarketWatch.

Charles Foster Kane

Charles Foster Kane

Newspapers are still the best-staffed news organizations and remain journalism’s brightest hope—if they can only break their addiction to print.

It’s one of my favorite lines in Citizen Kane, the 1941 classic about a newspaper publisher. Kane is responding to his top financial advisor who just pointed out that Kane’s newspaper empire is losing a million dollars a year.

Charles Foster Kane: “You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in…60 years.”

Turns out he was right, give or take a few years. Sixty-eight years after Kane uttered those words, the newspaper industry is staring death in the face.

Last week brought more news of impending doom. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection, the Hearst Corporation announced it would close the 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer unless a very unlikely buyer is found, and a few weeks earlier, E.W. Scripps made the same announcement about the Rocky Mountain News. A month before that, the venerable Tribune company, owners of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and other major papers, also filed for bankruptcy.

We know the problems have surfaced everywhere. While some papers continue to make an operating profit, those profits are shrinking, and many papers are still being crushed because the profit isn’t enough to fund the debt that was taken on by the paper’s buyers. This is the case in places like Philadelphia and Minneapolis, as well as with the entire Tribune Company. Once immensely profitable regional newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Boston Globe are losing a lot of money. The Chronicle is rumored to be losing more than a million dollars a week!

Newspaper companies need to turn the tide and turn it fast if they want to stay in business at all. It’s time to go on the offensive and renovate their businesses around the changing needs and demands of their customers. The difficulty lies in that much of their future may not involve paper, and the industry is having a hard time changing its name.

If they don’t, they will become what the railroad industry became. The railroads could have survived as major players in the business of transporting people, had they believed they were in the transportation business, not the train business. They would have invested in cars, buses and airplanes. But they didn’t, and while there remains a railroad industry today, it’s much smaller and less significant than it was.

That’s what will happen to the newspaper business unless the remaining players decide they are not in the newspaper business at all, but rather the news business. And if they want to stay in the news business, they need to get much more aggressive about giving people news the ways they want to get it. I say “ways” because the future of news will not be about one form of delivery. Studies now show us that consumers no longer get their news from one or two sources, but from many sources in many ways: from computers to BlackBerries and iPhones, to television and radio, to screens in elevators and at coffee shops throughout the day.

Luckily, since they are still the most adequately staffed local providers of news and information, newspapers have some time to take advantage of their strengths and move quickly into new and still developing platforms. But to do this, they’ll need to be nimble and fast.

By definition, news has a short shelf life. So in many cases, consumers want to know about news as soon as it happens. That could be the kind of news that everyone wants, like the plane landing in the Hudson, or it can be very personal, like one of your stocks just went way up or down, or the road you normally use to drive home from work is closed because of an accident. The fact is, the consumer now wants to participate in deciding how and when they get each type of news and who they get it from. This is their world.

The most difficult thing for the industry is creating all new business models to pay for that news, so they need to be aggressive in learning how to monetize news delivered over each of these new forms. The advertising model may not always work. Certain types of advertising that supported news, like classified ads, are gone from the newspaper and won’t be coming back. So now it is imperative that the industry find a way for the public to pay for the news it gets.

But they can’t start by making the public pay for the cost of producing a printed newspaper, when all they want is digitally delivered news. The public won’t pay for the industry’s problem. Face it, printed papers are old news.

Frankly the industry hasn’t done a very good job of convincing people that it can create a new business model. Doing so takes time and money, and newspaper companies are already low on both. Public newspaper companies have been crucified by their investors. The McClatchy Company, which made the biggest bets on the future of the industry by buying The Knight-Ridder chain, has seen the value of it’s stock drop 98 percent over the past five years—that’s what you would call a real no-confidence vote from the shareholders.

So here’s the rub: the newspaper companies need to develop business models that support newsrooms, not newspapers. And it’s likely going to be the private companies who don’t have to satisfy the public need for improved quarterly earnings that can lead the charge. They have to envision what the news business will look like in the future and build business models that support that, without the added burden of supporting a delivery system most users don’t care about. And they have to invest heavily in news gathering and news dissemination. The goals are both speed and context. The newsroom has to be part CNN Headline News and part The Economist..

The business transition from newspaper to news company is painful, but it’s the path they have to take. The new news companies will be built around what they cover, not how they distribute the news. There will be a news company, or more than one, covering subjects like national or financial news. There will also be newsrooms covering San Francisco or New York news. And each will have a news-gathering operation and a news-editing operation that will disseminate the news they gather over all platforms, from print (if there is a market for print) to TV, radio, mobile, and the internet. In each case, they will be paid for that content, either directly or through advertising sales. They might not even own the products that consumers use to get the news—certainly not the iPhones or BlackBerries, and not even necessarily the radio or TV stations or printed newspapers . They just have to be good at gathering and disseminating. If newspaper companies want to stay in business and stay relevant, they will need to leave the distribution game to someone else.

So, Mr. Kane, prepare to lose some more money, if you have it. If you can be a bit patient while you do that, you might still be business when it’s over.