Web 2.0: Media
: Martin Nisenholtz, head of NYTimes Digital, recalls coming to the company and facing business plans that would have charged fees for use of the Times and he suggested opening it up for free and they accomplished that.
Battelle to Mike Ramsey of TiVo on its impact: “Television’s just a data base that can be searched.”
Ramsey says TiVo has a big interest in broadband as a means of distribution. That is the wedge against cable. Cable companies will probably hate it, he understates; but then cable has broadband and cable is distributing its versions of TiVo. Battelle talks about a world of getting whatever you want via broadband. “The good news is, nobody can stop us.” Are you sure, Battelle asks. Yes, Ramsey says.
He says that in five years we’ll get 30 percent of our TV over broadband and the rest over broadcast (including cable) and we’ll “neither know nor care” which is which.
Battelle quotes Nisenholtz saying that he has “portal envy,” because it’s hard for a paper to give users things they don’t expect, like email. Martin says users come to The Times for hard news. He tells their story of working very hard to build the best damned movie site on the Internet — and it is great — and the response is “why would The New York Times sell movie tickets?” He says dealing with these expectations “is the toughest problem we have.” Shelby Bonnie says CNET’s answer to that is to offer multiple brands.
Ramsey recalls showing TiVo to media companies “and literally getting thrown out of their offices…. We were presenting a proposition that was so radically different from their existing business models that you couldn’t have a rational discussion about it.”
Battelle asks them all whether they buy the premise that having the ability to copy content is the ruination of media. (Marc Canter shouts out, “NO!”)
Bonnie says that in 2001-2, a lot of good companies went out of business. Battelle grows, “Yeah, I have experience with that.”
Bonnie asks whether the blogosphere will pick up slack in local newspaper markets.
Nisenholtz talks about some amazing content — e.g., a Nick Kristof Flash presentation on sex slaves — that doesn’t get seen. He says he has a UI problem. But it’s not a home page UI problem. It’s a web UI problem. And the solution, he believes: “How do we expose this content? Part of the way we expose it is by opening up.” Applause from the audience.
Battelle asks about the “false wall” between bloggers and journalists. Bonnie says CNET is open to tearing down that wall: “What the blogosphere is delivering is incredibly rich viewpoints and it can be incredibly complementary to a publisher.”
Battelle asks Nisenholtz whether he could ever see a time when a blogger in New Jersey covers a school board meeting and gets a cut of the AdSense revenue via The Times. Martin says he reads blogs for opinion and perspective and he doesn’t expect them to be fully vetted for facts. He says a publisher’s means of leveraging all this is to open up and allow people to use content. He also separates news from opinion. He says someone needs to check bias. Martin says that is the role of editors. Battelle says that is now the role of the readers.