Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Editor is dead, Long live the Editor

Jack Griffin, President of Publishing house Meredith says "We don’t hire editors anymore. We hire content strategists." Spoken like a founding member of the World Desperate Publishers Union. The Onslaught of the internet is doing strange things to people.

I look at these new-fangled posts at some publishing houses:
- Content Strategists - Community Conversation Ambasadors - Community Conversation Editor

The organizations that have these positions perhaps to convince themselves that "Yes, we understand what web 2.0 is".

In some measures, that is not a bad thing if you have your other bases covered.

By other bases, I mean content.
Content always first.

Engaging the reader community is a good thing.
Question is, how far will you go?

You did well by using web 2.0 tools.
The erstwhile 'cool' magazine now allows readers to publish blogs on the site.

For a while, you might convince the reader that you 'care'.

Nevertheless, putting more resources to cover issues that readers care about is far more important.
It is bad form (and a bad idea) to depend upon the reader to come up with the goods - to do free work for you.

Out here, in India, I see the other side of a service economy. On the plus side, it encourages you to see much more managerial talent, well versed in global MBA-speak, honed after years of work in our MBA factories.

However, the usage of Jargon is spreading like a contagion. You see someone calling the Project Manager as ‘PM’ and team members as 'Resources' and it spreads through the organization first and then outside.

A friend, working in an e-learning company complained about everyone using the same catchphrases:"At the end of the day,”, "As in", "Meaning", and virtually the same style of making Powerpoint presentations. More on this in some other post.

Some brilliant soul decided to call writers as content writers and it has spread like a virus, shitting out related terms - content developer, content editor, content lead, senior specialist lead...

When I joined as an editor at a Blog Network, the management told me that I was also responsible for bringing in the traffic. Having no mainstream media background, I took it as a challenge. I cannot say I succeeded in bringing in great traffic but I learnt New Media on the Job.

The Guardian newspaper has new posts - Tag Editor (helping reporters tag articles better) and Search Editor. These positions complement, not displace the editor's job.

The Guardian is one of the few newspapers who understand that the editor of the future needs to understand and then master New Media tools and techniques.

A short survey of the New Media toolset reveals the following: SEO, usability, design and layout best practices, public forum management, story and comment voting, ‘readersourcing’ (using readers to help in a story), reader engagement best practices, SMM (social Media Marketing), basics of video and audio content production (& promoting it using video sites like Youtube and Social media sites).

I do not know what a content strategist does. But I do know it does not take a two year New Media course to master all this. and the smart editors are already adapting to the new realities.

The movies and the recording industries face a bigger challenge from the internet.
However, I do not see the Film Director being renamed as Film Strategist, Film Co-ordinator, Film Marketer...

To sum it all up: out with the jargon and in with the New Media skill set.

Link thanks to Buzzmachine

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

What the Angry Journalist Thinks: A Tag Representation

You must check out the site, where journalists from across the world are venting out their rants about their jobs and the state of the news industry in general

The above tag cloud is just a representation. For better juice, head here and to this comment from angry journalist #470 where a young journalist is urging others to stop whining.

The Tag Cloud was generated using the service, which sadly does not provide links for the resulting tag cloud page. I just pasted the whole text onto a box and generated a Tag Cloud. ToCloud does provide a html version of the tag cloud but I am afraid I don't know hoe to integrate it with Blogger.

Idea: What would an Angry Blogger not making any adsense money might think?

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Dirty Dozen at Digg?

Came across this analysis which says that while Digg is becoming more mainstream, the number of sites that enjoy regular home page positions on the site is shrinking. There are reportedly 12 sites that are lucky to have their article grace Digg's home page on a regular basis.

These dirty (or, lucky - depends on who's talking) 12 sites are:

Ars Technica

I propose we leave all the hypocrisy behind and build ourselves a "" type page with feeds for all these 12 sites.

Add the popular sites on as well.

Do not share a tear for social news.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Facebook applications loosing their Viral mojo?

Andrew Chen reports that response rates for notifications, newsfeed items and other novelties on Facebook are falling, indicating perhaps that users are getting tired under a never-ending avalanche of application.

Is this for real?
If yes, how long before the bubble of Facebook apps bursts?

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The Wikileaks FAQ

I have tried to answer some important questions related to the Wikileaks shutdown order and what we can do if we are in a similar position or if we want to bring the truth out by publishing important documents.

1. What is Wikileaks?
A site that hosts leaked documents. Hosted on servers in Sweden so far.

2. Why did the court in California order it shut down?
While the conventional reasoning goes that Wikileaks hosted documents that were illegally sourced, people in the know say that the judge may have given his order because they could not find the person to whom they could serve a notice.

3. Can a US court order a web site hosted in Sweden shut?
No. But, the US government is supposed to have a great working relationship with the Swedish Authorities. In a previous case, the Pirate Bay was shut down (later, it relocated to Holland).

4. Can a site be shut down completely?
No. You can host your site anywhere in the world. You can also provide copies of your site (or, encourage people to do so) spread throughout the site.
In case of Wikileaks, only the DNS servers, which are in the United States, remove the site's name from their database. So, you can still access the site if you know their IP address.

5. What else can I do to make sure my site continues to have a life?
You can start with having regular backup files (e.g. .zip files) and distribute them, making them available as downloads via anyone who chooses to host the zip file.

6. What information did the leaked documents in question contain?
Reportedly leaked by a whistle blower at Julius Baer, the leaked documents allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion.

7. Can I register a site without giving proof of my address?
The domain name system (DNS) is a service that converts web names into the IP addresses that the web servers use requires a real person to be registered as the owner of a site, irrespective of the site's location.

In case of Wikileaks, they are supposed to have registered their site in the United States having convinced an architect in New York to do the needful.

If you do not have such reach, you may try the following combination:
Find a registrar or any web site registration intermediary who accepts cash and will look the other way while you enter false addresses and names, including a disposable email address, where you will be receiving the receipt from the registrar in the U.S.

Useful links related to the Wikileaks Case
- IP address:
- The Julius Baer documents in question: (3 MB file)
- List of Wikileaks mirror sites:
- The complete Wikileaks site as a torrent:

Related MediaVidea Guide:
Bypassing Internet Censorship - A Roundup

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What the Newsroom Fat Layer looks like (and what to do about it)

Alan D. Mutter has written about what many seasoned journalists would call the 'touchy' issue of "How many people have to read a story before it goes in the paper?". His article comes in response to the recent news about the New York Times planning to lay off 100 people from the editorial pool.

It is more than a quality issue. It is a focus issue.

Let's have a look at my brief question list:

1. Do you need more people to cover Britney Spears, the G8 summit, Davos meet, Sports Event?

An enlightened mind said this, pardon me for not remembering who:

"The real problem for news is not that there are too many reporters, but that there are too many reporters in the wrong places."

2. Do you need more people to cover Gadgetporn, something that pays the bills for many top blogs?
Instead, you can easily rewrite using the data from the RSS feeds.

3. Finally, do you need more people to cover issues that readers care about?
Editors may say that people care about whether Britney gets custody to her kids but then you can easily get the story from the Wires instead of putting a dedicated reporter.

Jeff Jarvis has posted results about a survey where he asks readers about newspaper jobs and sections they would cut off. Early results have come in and people have indicated what section/job they would cut:

Financial tables 43.06%
Sports section 21.65%
Sports columnists 8.00%
Entertainment section 3.76%
Movie critic 3.76%
Business section 2.59%
Syndicated features 2.59%
TV critic 2.59%
Music critic 1.88%
Book critic 1.65%
Comics 1.65%
Foreign bureaus 1.65%
Lifestyle section 1.41%
Washington bureau 1.18%
Editorial columnists 0.71%
Copy editors 0.47%
Online site 0.47%
Top editors 0.47%
Editorial page 0.24%
Photographers 0.24%
What this survey tells you is that there are certain things other people are covering better than you and you are probably better off using data from Wire services and RSS feeds instead, saving costs in the process.

Locking at the graphic above and the survey results, make your own judgments.

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The four models for paying journalists

I will try to summarize the three main models of paying journalists for the news they bring to the public:

1. Regular Pay: The safest option. Alas, the print advertising money that paid your salary is shrinking under the onslaught of the internet.

The problem is acute enough so that even journalism teachers are starting to question this noble profession.

2. Micropayments: Where your readers pay you on each article read basis. Micropayment was once believed to offer reader and the writer a more flexible option than subscriptions. However, so far, no one has found a hassle free method of making micropayments.

3. Public Support: This method is currently in vogue. Web sites such as have come up, channelizing outside funding to journalists who want to do investigative reporting.

Although, it appears sound (and noble as well) in nature, the big problem is:
Who gets the money?

Since there can be an indeterminate number of people in any ongoing investigation, proportioning money can be hard. Harder than doing the investigative work itself :-)

4. Advertising: Many journalists (Oma Malik, Rafat Ali) who have left their mainstream media jobs to start their own largely blog-based news sites and blog networks find the ad model appealing.

This is something that they can easily implement - book a domain, set up wordpress, add all the necessary accessories, sign up for Google Adsense, paste the code provided by Google and Voila! You are set.

However, since the ad model is the easiest, it is also the hardest to stand you from the huge crowd.

To succeed using the ad model, you will need to:
Find a profitable niche, develop a unique voice and work hours building and nurturing your target audience - commenting on other blogs, participating on forums etc. It is a long slog.

I am sure there are other models to pay journalists. Please share.

{Note: Model No. 1, the Pay Model is thriving here in India, where the print media is projected to make more money as a booming economy and a young, upwardly mobile demographic means that more Indians have access to reading matter than ever before. More on this, later]

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Social Media Marketing will not help you if your product sucks

Social Media Marketing is the in -thing. Marketers are charging clients big money to build their brands on online social communities such as Digg, Reddit and a host of niche web sites.

Say, your marketers are able to buy a clutch of top bookmarkers (yes, that is all social media marketing really is) and the related news item hits the front page of Digg, and your site gets tons of traffic and you say 'whoa!".

If you product sucks, then that is the only time you are going to say 'whoa!.

Joshua Porter explains,
think of social media tools as amplifying customer opinion rather than improving it.

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