Posts from April 16, 2005

Around the world in 80 blogs

Around the world in 80 blogs

: Global Voices is maintaining a great list of worldwide blogs.

: Meanwhile, back at this ranch, DeepBlog is a good list of good blogs. When people ask you for a starting point to read blogs, this looks like a decent suggestion.

: And continuing this roundup of roundups, here’s BlogHeaven from Beliefnet.

Jumping the shark for Jesus: the Dean response

Jumping the shark for Jesus: the Dean response

: Howard Dean smells opportunity from the religious right’s, uh, extreme reaction to the Schiavo matter. He’s right. But he’s also characteristically, uh, blunt and I wonder whether that’s the best way to take advantage of the opportunity.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who has accused congressional Republicans of “grandstanding” in the Terri Schiavo case, said his party will use it against the GOP in coming elections.

“This is going to be an issue in 2006, and its going to be an issue in 2008 because we’re going to have an ad with a picture of (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay saying, ‘Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?'” Dean said in West Hollywood, Calif.

Dean, answering questions at an Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality event on Friday, went on to say: “The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?'”

If you’re not aggregated, you’re nowhere

If you’re not aggregated, you’re nowhere

: One of the online issues I’ve been meaning to catch up on is the report that the Associated Press is following Agence France Presse in going after GoogleNews.

My two cents: It would be a big mistake to pull out of GoogleNews. The reason:

In this new world of distributed media, if you’re not aggregated, you’re nowhere.

The prior law was: If you can’t be scraped and then found via a search engine, you’re nowhere. The idea that media can or should control presentation and distribution is over. Toast. Control has passed to the public, and search engines, aggregators, browsers, and the internet are their tools of presentation and distribution. Media have lost control. The flow in the pipe has reversed. So go with the flow, mediamen, go with the flow.

And there are more pigs in this pipeline: If a site does not have RSS, it soon won’t be seen by many, for example. Google is trying to turn video into a searchable medium and TV stations will be fools if they don’t put up their media with metadata to be found. Radio listeners are now demanding on-demand content thanks to the precedent of podcasts and radio stations should follow the examples of WNYC and the BBC and pod’ their stuff.

Media must figure out how to embrace all these tools of consumer control.

So now back to the AP: When GoogleNews points to a wire story, it points to that story on a member’s site. Keep in mind that the AP is owned by its member news organizations; it is a cooperative rather than a company. So if the AP pulled its content out of GoogleNews, it would be pulling traffic away from its members — its owners — and that would be a big mistake.

Last I heard, Drudge is the No. 1 referrer of traffic to The New York Times and The Washington Post online (not to mention Josh Marshall). You don’t hear them telling Drudge to knock it off with the links, do you?

Ah, but I hear some saying, GoogleNews makes a fuller presentation of the news. But it’s not so full that I could just look at that page and get all I need; I use it to link to the news I really want. And GoogleNews’ fuller presentation only makes it a better aggregator with more information — a headline taken from the news source (rather than spit out by Drudge) along with a lead — so readers have a better idea of whether they want to click on the links. In other words: GoogleNews delivers more interested (or, as we say in medialand, “qualified”) audience. I know there are more aggregators on the way that will do likewise.

YahooNews, on the other hand, does license the AP and use it to create a full presentation of the news. The problem with that, for AP members, is that readers do not need to — and do not — leave YahooNews. Other news organizations see YahooNews as a competitor.

News organizations are developing a funny, mixed relationship with Google. In terms of news, they hope that GoogleNews will continue to be their promoter. I hear many an (enlightend) editor wonder how to get more links from them. But on the business side, things are more complicated: Many media organizations are using Google AdSense to make money via targeted text ads. But the day is fast approaching when Google will compete with newspapers and local services for retail advertising.

Still, when it comes to search and aggregation — text or video — media organizations will want the links. Otherwise, they will become the dead trees that fell in the forest and no one was there to read or watch them.

By the way, at the recent Reuters panel on blogs and big media, Patrick Phillips of IWantMedia asked the top execs of that wire service whether they were going to follow the AFP lead and go after GoogleNews. Absolutely not, the bosses said: They want their stories read.

So, I’m often asked, why did AFP do this? I have only one answer: They’re French.

: MORE: Susan Mernit (who has consulted for the AP) has a different perspective, saying that the agency and Google should have an agreement.

Meet the pro

Meet the pro

: Bill Grueskin, managing editor of WSJ.com, is one of the savviest and nicest and also most unsung guys in online news. He and I happened upon each other after I messed up a WSJ.com link, as I remember; we ended up having lunch (that’s what media guys do; it’s how we link), and quickly saw that we see eye-to-eye. But Bill doesn’t blog (hint, hint) or do the panel circuit (he’s the smart one) and so we don’t hear enough from him and of his experience. Jay Rosen rectifies that with a great interview. Some of the bonnier mots:

: They talk about WSJ.com getting away with actually charging consumers for content online. Bill says:

Well, information wants to be free, as the saying goes. But the saying goes further than that, it turns out.

Here’s the whole quote, from Stewart Brand’s book, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT :

Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.

It’s hard to believe those words were published nearly two decades ago, because they so closely capture the essence of today’s argument….

I would say that the search for a single answer–paid vs. free–is as fruitless as a blogger vs journalist argument. You can be successful either way. Ultimately, it comes down to how you see your role in the media universe.

: Jay says, in a throwaway line that will live forever:

Maybe we need a new “law” of information. Lola’s law. It states that information gets what information wants.

: Bill on the flurry of old/new-media deals lately (Dow Jones and Marketwatch, Washington Post and Slate, NY Times and About):

Each deal shows that we are rethinking what it means to be a media company, with a strong newspaper component, in a digital age….

What I think is changing is that for years, the debate was largely about distribution of content; that is, how do we get our stories in front of readers and do it in a way that brings in money and doesn’t upset traditional revenue models? With these deals in hand, I think we are going to see the debate go beyond distribution and on to the content itself — how do we report the news so it works online?

And not a nanosecond too soon.

: Bill on running a new-media product tethered to old-media, each with great value that cannot be overlooked by the other:

The “balancing act” approach disappoints new online readers and fails to excite print readers making the transition. So you have to come up with a new language of journalism, with traditional roots in our standards, but that treats online like the revolutionary medium that it is. And then you have to hammer it home with your staff.

: Bill on MSM blogs:

Lately, a number of newsmagazine and newspaper sites have started blogs. The results, especially in bigger publications, are often dreadful. Many mainstream-media blogs serve as repositories for the journalistic detritus that wasnít good enough for the print edition. They manage to combine the worst of both worlds: Hemmed in by tradition, they lack the candor and point of view that distinguishes good blogs. Bereft of good material, they lack the depth and quality of print journalism.

Yup.

: These interviews are among what Rosen does best. Hope he does more.

Blog catch-up day

Blog catch-up day

: There’s something very wrong with your life when you start looking on Saturday as blog catch-up day.