Adapt or die?

I sometimes wonder if we, as multimedia news pundits, make claims that are too far-fetched.

Here for instance is a quote from Howard Owens’latest blogpost:

Newspapers have a narrow window of opportunity to learn how to do IP-delivered video in a way that creates a growth opportunity. The (New York) Times is taking the right path. Eventually, the barrier to entry will be much higher. Those newspapers that are starting simple now and growing internal video literacy, and growing it broadly, will be at an advantage in years to come.

Actually, the exponential growth of technology and drop in prices suggest otherwise. The barrier to entry will be much lower in the coming years, to the detriment of news sites hawking video. What would differentiate NYTimes.com’s video news from USAToday.com’s or washingtonpost.com’s or YouTube’s, or any other niche video site for that matter?

There will always be “growth opportunity” in video online. Late-comers may even thrive, because it costs so little, and they won’t have the historical baggage that news site are already building up. Why? Because most video online now is still crappy. It streams jerkily or is not downloadable or is in grainy FLV, ala YouTube. The storytelling is not better, just because it’s in video.

It seems likelier that news sites experimenting with video and enlarging their “video literacy” now will eventually lose their best videographers to markets that pay better. Video news sites will be boring once all news video becomes commoditized, syndicated and distributed widely.

I would think users would gravitate towards video sites where their own videos are socially appreciated, and that are more daring, controversial, funny, episodic and cliff-hangerish. A lot more like TV, a lot less like news.

Training yourself

rhernandez of Multimedia Shooter rants on getting your own training and makes some valid points:

Everywhere I look, in dark corners of our building, at the cocktail party for POYi last night, in my emails, in my dreams…training, train us! How come they won’t train us to do multimedia? When will they get it? And on and on it goes.

Well, guess what? I have an answer. Or at least some advice. Ready?

Two words, train yourself! There I said it. If that makes you mad, then you can stop reading this and go back to your dark corner and wait for your newspaper to train you, send you to that wonderful all encompassing multimedia workshop in the sky, while the rest of us learn by doing. And when the layoffs come, and they will (have already) let’s see who’s left.

This is the sad reality of our business, for some of us our ‘calling’

-Down sizing
-Limited resources
-Leaders with no sense of direction (not in my case, of course)
-Falling profits
-A general feeling of doom and gloom in the newsroom
-People screaming, “Who moved my cheese?”
-No money for training

Wake up and smell the coffee! There are no reinforcements coming, no help on the way. Squint your eyes, open them wide, whatever it takes too see the writing on the wall. This is what is says…..If you love, truly love your profession, and you love to tell stories and want to be in the biz for the next decade, then, invest in yourself.

-Identify the way you learn best.
-Invest in that method of learning. If it’s books, buy them. If it’s DVD’s, buy them. If it’s a workshop, send yourself.
-Invest in yourself, it’s about you, not about your company.
-Close your eyes and go back to those days in college where you stayed up all night in the darkroom (for those of you too young to know, a darkroom was a place where you would…oh forget it) Harness this energy.

Still need more reasons:

-It’s the greatest return on investment, the returns are enormous.
-You become more valuable in the process. You stop settling for just getting by.
-You realize your potential.
-You own your own future.
-You become a risk taker.
-You will be happy and have the ability to do your own thing.

We all know we’re alone on this. Why? Because no one has to do anything for us, we have to do it ourselves because we’re the ones with the most to gain or lose. Don’t play it safe.

MORE.

Local reporter’s job outsourced to India

You knew it was coming.

James Macpherson, editor and publisher of pasadenanow.com, a two-year-old site devoted to news about Pasadena, California is outsourcing a reporter’s job to India.

The job posting at craigslist states:”We seek a newspaper journalist based in India to report on the city government and political scene of Pasadena, California, USA.”

Macpherson tells AP it makes business sense now that weekly Pasadena City Council meetings can be watched over the net and because of India’s lower labor costs.

“I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications,” said the 51-year-old Pasadena native. “Whether you’re at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you’re still just a phone call or e-mail away from the interview.”

The first articles, some of which will carry bylines, are slated to appear Friday.

Naysayer Bryan Nelson, an University of Southern California journalism professor, grumpily responded: “Nobody in their right mind would trust the reporting of people who not only don’t know the institutions but aren’t even there to witness the events and nuances.”

Well Prof Nelson, you’ve probably never seen how American journalists parachute in to Asian cities, and write scathing reports, sans “nuances”, like they’ve lived here all their lives.

This isn’t sad. It’s the reality of web journalism.

Reuters already employs over 1,000 staff in India. About 100 of the jobs are for editing and writing while the rest extract basic financial information from company news releases, analyst ratings changes, earnings tables, economic polling data and other data products for the company’s subscribers.

Since the ad came out, Macpherson has already hired two Indian reporters for US$20,800, one a graduate of the journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley.

The website, which he runs out of his house, has 45,000 unique visitors per month and up until now, his main help has consisted of his wife and an intern.

MORE.

Mark Cuban and 23 ways to download YouTube vids

So now that almost everyone knows how to download YouTube videos, Mark Cuban questions how long can the good days last?

He asks:

How long do you think it will be before videos appear on Youtube slamming them for which content is selected to participate in the for pay program ? Milliseconds ?

And how long after that will it be before those who do provide content complain that they aren’t getting the same level of promotion as others and that Youtube has gone corporate? Instantaneously.

How long will it be until we see content that is on Youtube expressly to earn a living for its creator posted to other video hosting sites?

Which leads to the question of who is going to do something about it? Who is going to take the responsibility of protecting that content that Youtube is paying for?

Or will Youtube tell the content creators they are responsible for monitoring all those sites and sending take down notices?

Or will Youtube add DRM ? The net would love that.

MORE.

David Weinberger and everything is miscellaneous


JP Rangaswami has reviewed David Weinberger’s latest, Everything is Miscellaneous.

His fave quote from the book: It’s not what you know, and it’s not even who you know. It’s how much knowledge you give away. Hoarding knowledge diminishes your power.

It’s like 1999 all over again

Roop is making a play for Photobucket for US$250 million via his new MySpace money-making vehicle.

He’s also offered Dow Jones a cool US$5 billion.

Thomson is plunking down US$17.6 billion for Reuters.

What in the world is going on?

According to this article it’s looking like dotcom heydays all over again.

According to Dealogic, the financial consultancy, M&A activity since the start of 2007 has outpaced the same period in 2006 by nearly two-thirds. March this year was the busiest month in history – right up until April got started. The previous top for M&A spending was the DotCom Bubble of 1999-2000. But now that feels more like false memory syndrome than a warning from history.

“The [global] boom in transactions is being driven by a combination of cheap debt to finance acquisitions, a benign antitrust environment, particularly in the US , and globalisation, which is forcing companies to reassess their competitiveness and their mix of businesses,” says the FT.

Can it get any crazier than this?

Football writer hopes to franchise solo model

The Online Press Gazette reports on the success story of solo football writer Rick Waghorn.

Waghorn took redundancy after 14 years with the Archant-owned Norwich Evening News in April, 2006.

He continued to cover Norwich City FC after launching RickWaghorn.co.uk with a senior Archant ad exec, Kevin O’Gorman.

The two-man operation achieved £3,000 a month in revenues this year, primarily through advertising from local businesses.

Waghorn claims that the combined effect of ever-earlier print deadlines on evening newspapers and his use of mobile phone alerts has allowed him to compete effectively with his former employers.

He now plans to rebrand the site as MyFootballWriter.com/Norwich and franchise it to other like-minded football writers.

“There are about 40 or 50 regional newspaper football writers who have covered clubs for years and have strong personal brands,” he said.

“If you go through all the provincial clubs in the country, they’ve all got one of me at their local morning or evening paper.”

MORE.

Getty Images’ Photo Play

Getty Images is on huge acquisition drive picking stock video/photo services PunchStock, MediaVast, owner ofWireImage, iStockphoto and Scoopt.

Getty says the deal will enable it to develop services including podcasts, editorial video, multimedia and mobile.

Getty Images vice president for editorial sales, Lee Martin said: “The acquisition takes us forward in terms of celebrity footage and multimedia products so we will be doing audio where photographers will talk over an event and it will be packaged.”

Martin said a typical example of multimedia demand was national newspaper groups, who looked to Getty to supply more than just still imagery.

Google : Friend or Foe?

There’s a new word gaining currency. It’s called frienemy. And it’s being used by a number of bloggers to describe “do no evil” ad giant Google.

Having made online advertising frictionless for millions of pay-per-click advertisers, Google now plans to take its vast small-advertiser network into online display, print, radio and TV ads.

Mark Glaser in Mediashift asks:

And after Google gets its foot in the door for print, radio and TV ad sales, what happens next? Will the fox eat the hens in the henhouse, or continue to play the gentleman in the middle?

How is this likely to pan out?

The Daily Herald’s John Kelly thinks that Google’s Print Ads system will bring in ad sales that will be priced lower than the regular ad sales but higher than the Herald’s current take from so-called remnant merchants who sell leftover ad pages. Kelly can’t imagine a day when big clients such as department stores will be able to make long-term ad deals with newspapers without a live sales rep.

“Major retailers really depend on local salespeople to be their eyes and ears in the local markets,” Kelly said. “We do local research for them. It’s hard to quantify that, and it’s very important. You have a lot of egos involved here. There are a lot of advertisers who feel that they can get a better price through face-to-face interactions over a long period of time. And the way this [automated] model has been built it’s transaction by transaction, at least at this point. If I’m a regular advertiser, a major retailer, I don’t want to deal with this every week.”

Another skeptic of Google’s radio ads pitched in:

“For the guy down the block who has the Shed Kingdom, he’ll always need someone to come and sell radio to him to help him with creative,” Caracciolo told me. “I think [Google Audio Ads] is more for infomercial-type sales, I don’t think it’s for that small mom-and-pop business because who will do the creative for that? Obviously everyone has a microphone on their computer and can do audio editing. But you’d be surprised. A lot of people today don’t even read emails, believe it or not. You think everyone is so computer hip and savvy. But it’s not true,” said Patrick Caracciolo, local sales manager of WLIR FM in Long Island.”

The Daily Herald’s Kelly compares the new relationship between newspapers and the search giant to a courting ritual:

“This is the early part of Google courting us, and it’s hard to tell whether it will be an abusive relationship or a loving relationship. I don’t know the answer to that…For us as an industry, we have to screw our heads on differently and be open to new and different ways. And we have the option of not accepting [ads from Google] if it doesn’t work. And the system that Google has set up is very fair.”

MORE.

The rise of mobile broadband

Mobile broadband on digital cameras, media players and portable game devices is poised for growth, according to a study by ABI Research.

Annual shipments of such devices are expected to approach 100 million by 2012.


“In the near term, connected portable devices will rely more on 3G cellular connections,” said principal ABI analyst Philip Solis.

“However, the 3G market is fragmented. There is EV-DO and there is HSPA, and different carriers are using different frequencies in different regions of the world.

“Such fragmentation represents a significant challenge. In addition, such devices must compete against smartphones that increasingly include similar functions.”

Solis added that the first products have already appeared, all from South Korea.

Two portable video players – Digital Cube’s iStationNetforce and Cowon’s Q5 – offer 3G connections through add-on HSDPA modules.

The first true device of this class, offering embedded HSDPA, is Samsung’s VLUU i70 digital camera.

The 7.2-megapixel device also shoots video, reads e-books, receives T-DMB television, plays MP3s and video, and allows the user to send or download photos and videos.

Solis says in the longer-term, WiMax has more potential than cellular-based connections. “It is an IP-based network with simpler architecture and better connection to the Internet. Sprint, with its commitment to WiMax, will promote such devices heavily, helping US markets keep up with Korea and Japan in the process.”

MORE.

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