Monster swallows papers’ job classifieds

[From The Associated Press, July 26, 2006]

Two Philadelphia newspapers, The Inquirer and The Daily News have ditched their own competing product for online classified ads, CareerBuilder, in favour of’s.

The new realities of any newspaper’s Internet strategy: If we partner, they will come.

The two Philadelphia newspapers used to be owned by Knight Ridder and are now owned by Philadelphia Media Holdings.

It and Monster will be launching a co-branded jobs site Aug. 14 through the newspapers’ Web site,, the first such venture between a big-city newspaper publisher and Monster.

Monster said its own local offerings would be enhanced, while Philadelphia Media Holdings said the partnership would give employers a broader reach in their search for job candidates.

CareerBuilder was jointly owned by the newspaper publishers Gannett, Tribune Co. and now McClatchy, which inherited the stake in the business when it purchased Knight Ridder last month.

Brian Tierney, chairman and chief executive of Philadelphia Media Holdings, said the deal with Monster would be good for his newspapers in the long run because its extensive job listings, résumé database and human resources tools would attract more employers to advertise.

The Economics Of Podcasting

Nielsen Analytics reports about 6 percent of American adults, or about 9 million web users, have downloaded at least one podcast in the past 30 days.

Thirty-eight percent of those downloaders note that as a result of the downloads they are listening less to radio.

“While essentially still in nascent form, podcasts offer free audio and video content that is inexpensive to create, easy to access and on a portable platform that has already reached mass distribution. This exciting new medium has only just begun to stretch its legs,” said Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics

The most successful podcasts are garnering as many as two million downloads a month.

One popular podcast, the Mommycast Podcast Series, with content directed specifically at women, inked an advertising deal this year with the Dixie Paper Company worth more than $100,000.

Advertisements on Mommycast are embedded in the podcast, a strategy that advertisers may need in order to keep listeners from fast-forwarding over their messages.

The survey notes that 60% of listeners fast-forward over commericals.

Big brands Sony Pictures, Shell Oil, Earthlink, HP and HBO consider this new medium a viable advertising outlet.

The average length of the podcasts being listened to was 44 minutes. This may change with the growing popularity of video podcasts, which generally tend to be shorter, said Gerbrandt.

Some 72% of respondents who regularly download podcasts say they download an average of one to three podcasts per week.

About 10% of all podcast downloaders could be characterized as “heavy users”, downloading 8 or more podcasts a week.

Podcast producers include:

1. Cable and broadcast networks converting episodes of some of their linear programs as previews and promotions.

2. Movie studios marketing films and DVDs, such as a recent podcast promoting Paramount’s Nacho Libre that features its star, Jack Black.

3. Financial service firms, such as McDonald Investments and The Motley Fool, offer free podcasts on a variety of finance-related subjects.

4. The online travel agency, Orbitz, offers audio descriptions of travel destinations as a marketing tool.

5. Professors are making their lectures and class notes available as podcasts.

“For podcasting to reach its full potential, we will have to find the best ways to keep track of its audiences,” added Gerbrandt. “That means developing accurate and comprehensive metrics that will allow podcast producers, distributors and advertisers to answer questions like: ‘Who are we reaching?’ ‘With what kinds of content?’ ‘When and how often?’”

To that end, Nielsen Media Research, as part of its recently announced Anywhere Anytime Media Measurement (A2M2) initiative, is launching several projects that will explore how best to collect and measure podcasting data.


Finding your voice as a blogger and journalist

Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post shares what it means to keep switching hats from blogger to journalist.

A snapshot of newspapering, 21st-century style:

It’s May 25, and the verdicts are being read in the government’s fraud case against former Enron Corp. executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling.

They’re in a courtroom in Houston, and I’m in Washington, sitting in front of a computer on the Continuous News Desk in the newsroom of the Washington Post. The CND is the Post’s intermediary between the newspaper and our Web site, as well as the television networks that feature our reporters and Washington Post Radio, a venture the paper started in March. To my left is a desktop television. To the right, a live microphone to Washington Post Radio. Pressed against my right ear is a set of headphones.

I am listening to the verdicts being read on CNBC with my left ear and hearing the radio host’s questions in my right ear. As the verdicts are reported on TV, I repeat them on the radio. Once we reported CNBC’s news on our radio station, I would begin blogging. Moments later, I would appear live on CNN Headline News in the small TV studio in the Post’s newsroom just behind the CND.

At some point, hours later in this day, I would write an actual newspaper story…


The 1 percent Rule

[From the Guardian by Charles Arthur]

It’s an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.
It’s a meme that emerges strongly in statistics from YouTube, which in just 18 months has gone from zero to 60% of all online video viewing.

The numbers are revealing: each day there are 100 million downloads and 65,000 uploads – which as Antony Mayfield points out, is 1,538 downloads per upload – and 20m unique users per month.

That puts the “creator to consumer” ratio at just 0.5%, but it’s early days yet; not everyone has discovered YouTube (and it does make downloading much easier than uploading, because any web page can host a YouTube link).

Consider, too, some statistics from that other community content generation project, Wikipedia: 50% of all Wikipedia article edits are done by 0.7% of users, and more than 70% of all articles have been written by just 1.8% of all users, according to the Church of the Customer blog.

Earlier metrics garnered from community sites suggested that about 80% of content was produced by 20% of the users, but the growing number of data points is creating a clearer picture of how Web 2.0 groups need to think. For instance, a site that demands too much interaction and content generation from users will see nine out of 10 people just pass by.

Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo points out that much the same applies at Yahoo: in Yahoo Groups, the discussion lists, “1% of the user population might start a group; 10% of the user population might participate actively, and actually author content, whether starting a thread or responding to a thread-in-progress; 100% of the user population benefits from the activities of the above groups,” he noted on his blog in February.

So what’s the conclusion? Only that you shouldn’t expect too much online. Certainly, to echo Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. The trouble, as in real life, is finding the builders.

Download audio version of this newspaper, a website of newspaper The Repository, the largest daily of Stark County, Canton, Ohio, has kicked off an audio version of its entire newspaper.

Software developer Presteligence will be providing the tech that makes this happen.

According to this report, the company is offering a download, which you can personalize by various categories, to your PC/iPod/MP3 player.

Nobody else is doing it, Presteligence President Bob Behringer says. “Not the way we’re doing it. We are taking the (entire) content of the newspaper that is in print and we’re converting it to audio. It’s being read by what we call virtual newscasters (ie. computer-generated voices read the text)”.

“We want to offer it to readers who think it will be fun; to readers who might use it when they can’t take the time to read; and to people with impaired eyesight who still want to enjoy the newspaper,” said Repository Editor David Kaminski.

The pronunciations still are being tweaked but Kaminski says “they’ve come a long way in the quality of the synthesized voice since I first heard it in January.”

A help page on The Repository’s Web site will take you through the registration process.
The free trial is valid for 90 days.

One of three newspapers in the Copley Ohio Newspapers group, The Repository’s website claims 7 million pageviews a month, while its newspaper circulation hovers above 83,000.

Cellphones cook an egg

Two Russian journalists put an unboiled egg in a porcelain cup between two cellphones and hooked them up to call each other. After 65 minutes, the egg was boiled. Really?


Read: Hoax alert.

The return of m-commerce

As the mobile market matures, the only way celcos can continue to plunder ahead is to turn that cellphone into a wallet.

In the not too distant past, m-commerce was a buzzword bandied about, suggesting we would pay for everything from parking tickets to candy from vending machines.

Now it seems, like every New New Thing circa 1998, is about to take off again. cites Celent’s market estimates of Total US$24 billion this year and US$55 billion by 2008.

“There was a lack of standards in this country, and the devices weren’t quite ready (back in the 90s),” says Dan Schatt, a senior analyst at Celent. “But the stars are finally aligning. This will happen a lot faster than most people realize.”

Indian m-commerce venture, PayMate India Private Limited, funded by leading global VC Kleiner Perkins, has thrown down its gauntlet with the launch of its app recently.

It spouted stats from Informa Telecom & Media Group that the m-payments market in 2006 stands at US$60 billion, which is estimated to rise up to US$180 billion in a few years. China, Japan and now India would be the geographical drivers.

Times Of London Takes On New York Times

Robert Thomson, editor of Times of London, tells Patrick Phillips of why the US edition is viable.


1. We already have a large and growing Web audience in the U.S. and it makes sense to build a physical presence that complements that profile. The opening for the Times is in international news coverage, which has been reduced by many U.S. newspapers; business coverage, given that London is a global financial center; and the arts, in which I would argue that we have the world’s classiest and cleverest writers.

2. Britain is cauldron of media competition, which tends to bring out the best in journalists and journalism. Having worked in the U.S. rolling out the Financial Times, it was clear to me that there is a larger degree of energy and inventiveness among British newspapers, and a certain smugness and self-defeating self-satisfaction among too many U.S. newspapers.

3. IWM: Who is the audience for the Times in the United States? Thomson: We are starting in the penthouse and working our way down the building, and starting in downtown Manhattan — Wall Street — and working our way to the Upper East and Upper West. In other words, we are aiming at Americans who have global interests and “aliens” who are resident in the larger U.S. cities, particularly in the Northeast.

4. Our greatest enemy is time. I’m sure there are many people who would like to find the time to read the Times, but who are already swamped by information and obligation. There is no one paper or Web site that is our natural foe, but there is the aggregated competition of all Web sites and of all the newspapers, free and otherwise, already carpeting the streets of U.S. cities.

5. The New York Times has virtues and some very good journalists, but it also has all the weaknesses of a monopoly newspaper. There are more factions in the New York Times than in the Chinese Communist Party, and their journalistic meetings seem to be a cross between Cultural Revolution-style struggle sessions and charismatic night at the evangelical hall.

6. The New York Times’s foreign coverage is much like a roving spotlight — a country becomes important because one of its esteemed writers happens to be in town. We have more regular, more textured coverage.

7. Competition is the defining difference. In London, we have 13 papers which pass themselves off as national, plus three free newspapers and the promise of several more giveaway papers before year’s end. The newsstand determines your fate, unlike in the U.S., where most purchases are by subscription. The virtue of the latter is that you have a regular flow of subscription revenue, but the cost is that you are slightly shielded from competition and become risk averse. Being risk averse is not an option in the contemporary content environment.

8. British papers generally have remained interested in international news, meaning that they have more content on their Web sites for a global audience. For example, there is little doubt that India will eventually become our largest audience. Obviously, we provide better cricket coverage than the Houston Chronicle, but our world news coverage is also far more comprehensive.

9. Times Online TV is our first foray into contracted video content. Of course we have done podcasts and vodcasts and, some would argue, oddcasts, but we now have a news agency-style video feed which is a starting point for the broader introduction of video services. We will be generating more of our own content and want to become a village square for video, in that we will be inviting our readers to send their video footage of breaking news to the site.

10. IWM: Times media editor Dan Sabbagh wrote in an analysis that “paper products are gradually becoming a shop window for Web sites, which is partly why the Times is on sale in New York.” Is the paper edition of newspapers becoming secondary to online?

Thomson: An important concept for newspapers to contemplate is that of “complementary content,” as each medium has its strength and weaknesses. One of the strengths of the printed paper is that it has an obvious presence on the streets, a presence that is advantageous for profile. And profile is advantageous in a crowded, cacophonous world.

11. Integration is more a cultural than a technological issue. Traditional journalistic skills are urgently required on the Web, but the transfer of those skills requires personal flexibility and sensible newsroom geography. Journalists are narrators and navigators, and given that that the Web is a vast reservoir of information of varying quality, “navigational-nous” — editing skills, judgment, etc. — is crucial. There is also a challenge for the Internet pioneers at news organizations. The funkiness of being on the fringe has disappeared. The Web is now mainstream, so the sense of identity that came from the splendid isolation of the Internet has dissipated. We are now in the age of e-egalitarianism.

12. IWM: Will newspapers disappear?
Thomson: Not in my lifetime. Newspapers will have to justify their existence, with energy, creativity and integrity, but ink on paper is a pleasure to read and is a convenient format. Each newspaper is customized by each of its readers — there has been much drivel talked about the Daily Me for the past decade or so. … Each reader reads the Times in a different way, and adjusts the time spent according to her or his taste in subjects.

Pages can be randomly accessed and a newspaper has no issues with battery life — no copy of the Times has ever needed recharging. On average, we have close to 2 million print readers each day and an online monthly audience of over 8 million unique users. These are enormous communities with great realizable value.

13. Too many journalists are too pessimistic about the future. I am basically an old hack who started as a copy boy at an afternoon newspaper, making tea and ensuring that the pile of carbon paper was constantly replenished, and yet I have never experienced a time of greater opportunity for good journalism.

The Times has never had more readers at any time in its 221-year history, and we should have many, many more readers in coming years. The negative navel-gazing in journalistic circles is unhealthy for the industry and for individuals. Fatalism tends to be fatal.

Telling Stories

I found this while researching about digital story-telling. Great read. More here.


It’s a long story but an interesting one. In the late 1960s, I attended Columbia University for a while. Another guy and I were pretty scholarly. Columbia was up in flames. There were troubles. Anti-war stuff. And we would hide together in libraries. We became very friendly. And this guy rose to very high office in one of the big banks in New York.

And about once a year, we’d have dinner together. One time, we were talking and he asked me, “What are you doing research on?”

I said, “Knowledge and organizations.”

And he said to me, “You know, we have all the knowledge that we need. We just spent $84 million on a new PC network for the branches of the bank.
Now think about that statement: “We have all the knowledge that we need.” Just by putting in place a machine in each branch?

So I said: “You may have all the knowledge you need, and these machines may aid it, but I’ll bet that’s wrong.”

And we started discussing it and I said: “Why don’t we just try to find an answer to this? Let’s try to prove this.”

So we made a bet. This guy is another Brooklyn guy. He likes to bet. (Laughter) I said: “Let’s go to a branch and find out why the branch performs well versus other banks in the neighborhood, and see what the role of the technology in a high performing branch.”

He was responsible for branch banking, and he had a big map of New York City and the various branches were rated, “A” or “B” or “C” or “D” versus other banks. Now banks sell the same stuff. If you’re a branch bank, it’s hard to differentiate yourself from other branch banks. If you think about it, what the hell is the difference. You sell CDs, mortgages, ATM machines. There isn’t a lot of difference. (Laughter) But the branches of banks perform differently. It can be based on all sorts of reasons. So we found a branch, right in the middle of Brooklyn, that performed at the “A” level. It was a branch on a crossroads where there were three other banks, competing banks. And why would this branch be doing so well?

So we said, “Let’s visit this bank.” We both dressed down a bit and we drove to central Brooklyn. And we go in to visit this bank. This is a neighborhood that both of us knew as kids and we hadn’t been there in a long while. And the neighborhood had shifted, as happens in large cities. It had changed from working class, Jewish, Italian and Irish to two dominant groups. This neighborhood comprised now Hasidic Jews and Rastifarians. (Laughter) I don’t know why they had chosen to live together, but there they were. (Laughter)

So we go into this branch bank which is doing very well. And who’s running it? It’s Mr. Kim, a Korean. (Laughter) Only in New York. I love the city. (Laughter) So my friend, Joel, introduced himself to Mr. Kim. And of course, no one had ever seen an executive of the bank at this branch. This is no surprise. Mr. Kim almost fainted. “You mean, what?” Joel explained that this was an off-the-record visit. I mean, no one ever sees executives. You can work in a company and never see executives. It’s certainly true for most companies. You never meet anyone. So Mr. Kim was really shocked but we told him it was off-the-record and we calmed him down and we congratulated him. My friend said, “You’ve done a great job! You’re an “A” performer, you’ve won bonuses, and all this stuff. And we’re just here to see how you do so well.”

And Mr. Kim was really nervous, and wouldn’t really talk much. But after a while, he told us what he did. He realized that what his branch offered wasn’t wildly different from any other bank offered. He said, “I wanted to understand these groups’ attitudes to money and to disposable income and to work. What really mattered to them when they thought in their hearts about cash, about disposable income. They’re not rich people at all. What did they care about? Mortgages? College loans? Or what? So I learned the languages.”

He learned Creole and Yiddish. Now this is not an easy trick for a Korean, or even an easy trick for any of us. (Laughter) He learned enough and he became friendly with people, and he’d go to the Bar Mitzvahs. He’d go to whatever Rastifarians do. He’d be there. (Laughter)

He’d get to know these people. But he was very friendly and he wanted to learn what they were like as people, as a culture. And he did it. He learned it. He’d go to their homes. He found that they bought brick homes. They didn’t send their kids to college. They did this. They did that. They invested in short term securities. And of course, he tailored the bank’s offerings, that mapped the way they felt about money. And of course, you’d get a differential. He pointed to the bank across the street, a Citicorp branch, which was constantly stressing short term mortgages. Five and ten year mortgages.

“These people,” he said, “had no interest in that whatsoever. They couldn’t afford it. Didn’t they know?” He was kind of shocked. “If they would just talk to these people, they’d find that they wanted thirty year mortgages.” But you had to know the people to find this out. You could do market research, but it still wouldn’t show you. It was just meeting and talking with them. And these are hard-working working-class people, family people. Different attitudes perhaps, but fundamentally good people.

So we were really impressed. And he also did something else. He was constantly in e-mail communication with the Korean branch managers of other banks. Korean-ness was a real tie. He’d talk to the other branch managers, even though they were competing banks. There was a very strong tie between them.

So finally I had to say, “What about the PC network?” (Laughter) Joel and I had this bet. It was a full dinner at any restaurant in New York for us and our spouses. No holds barred. No limitations. I had to make him pay.

So Mr. Kim said, “Of course, we use the PC. We have to report stuff. You get information. No question about it.”

So I asked more pointedly, “Does the PC network account for, or contribute to your understanding of, how you run this branch?”

And he thought for a moment, as he was a very thoughtful guy, and he said finally, “Not at all.” (Laughter)

So Joel took my wife and me to a dinner at Lutece, and we spent as much money and drank as much wine as we could consume. (Laughter)


Ten newspapers that get it

The Editor and Publisher lists ten newspapers that are getting it right. Unfortunately, and ironically, the article isn’t available online, but I found the gist of it, giving sypnosis on what these newspapers are doing that suggests the industry isn’t dead.

1. The Clarion-Ledger
At The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., Jerry Mitchell’s recent honors for revelations about the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers actually date back to legwork that began in 1989. That’s when he caught the film Mississippi Burning, which was based on the story of their murders.

2.Houston Chronicle
The Houston Astros didn’t win the 2005 World Series, but the Houston Chronicle has a strong claim to being the blogging champ among America’s daily newspapers. Since the newspaper started blogging in earnest last year, has launched about 30 news, sports, and entertainment blogs by Chronicle staffers. Then in early 2006, also began hosting more than 30 reader blogs about everything from birding to Houston’s grassroots art scene.

3.The Denver Post
When it comes to diversity, an awful lot of newspapers are trying — sincerely, even desperately — to do it right. But only a few are actually doing so, as the woeful results of the American Society of Newspaper Editors minority newsroom census attests year after year. In the latest census, the number of journalists of color working in daily newsrooms averaged 13.42%, up a microscopic four-tenths of 1 percent from 2005. (Interesting multimedia stories too)

4.The Bakersfield Californian
Readers often accuse their local daily of being out of step with their community, but it’s rare to hear a newspaper agree wholeheartedly. The Bakersfield Californian, though, came to that conclusion a while ago.

5.The San Diego Union-Tribune
During the spectacular fall and imprisonment of Republican U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, readers throughout America became aware of the investigative prowess of The San Diego Union- Tribune. The U-T and Copley News Service shared this year’s Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for uncovering one of the worst bribery scandals in the history of Congress.

6.South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Publisher Bob Gremillion came up on the broadcasting side of Tribune Co., so he knows a shrinking audience when he sees it. And in its highly competitive playing field, fighting The Miami Herald to the south and The Palm Beach Post to the north, the Sun-Sentinel was indeed shrinking. (Lots of videos, photos, sports blogs.

7.The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle
In a time of crisis in the newspaper industry, The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle is not letting any grass grow beneath it. Last fall, a group of staffers holed up in a room at the Eagle, brainstormed about how to best reach time-starved working women, and came up with the idea to scrap the traditionally themed daily features sections. They then designed a prototype, printed it, tested it on a focus group, tweaked it, and after 70 hours completed plans for a daily tabloid section called Wichitalk.(Blogs and Wichitalk)

8.Dayton (Ohio) Daily News
While many businesses use the phrase “The customer is always right” as a rallying cry, the concept has seldom filtered into the thinking at most newspapers, which traditionally invented and reinvented themselves based on top-down thinking. But when the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News decided to overhaul its operations two years ago, that classic listen-to-your-customers maxim was taken to heart. Always an investigative powerhouse, the News, a Cox paper, was nonetheless losing readers on the print side…

9.The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.
The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., might turn other newspapers into green-eyed monsters with its circulation accomplishments in the past year. During the March 2006 reporting period, many papers looked like roadkill bleeding circulation. The Bulletin, meanwhile, made some of the industry’s biggest gains, with daily up 7.3% to 29,734 and Sunday up 5.6% to 30,502. Those increases are far from flukes. This is the paper’s fourth consecutive circulation increase since the September 2004 reporting period.

10. RedEye, Chicago
When the Chicago Tribune launched RedEye in the fall of 2002, media critics — including this E&P writer — beat up pretty badly on the would-be youth tab. We jeered that the content was either yesterday’s celebrity news or severely shortened versions of articles right out of that morning’s Tribune. It wasn’t really cool, it was condescending. And it was ugly, too. It didn’t help that Red Streak — created out of thin air in six days by a panicked, competing Chicago Sun-Times just to confuse the mark…

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