Thursday, February 19, 2009

A set of interesting 'future of media' polls on Bighow Polls

To look at what the future holds for newspapers, I have created four polls and look forward to seeing what you think about the issues at hand:

1. What will you miss the most when newspapers are gone?

2. Which among these is the best news business model?

3. What print media business will you miss most?

4. Which media brand will you miss most?

and this one for fun:

5. Who is most useful new media guru?

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14 news business models: which is the best one?

Zachary M. Seward, at Nieman Journalism Lab and Alan Mutter recently came up with the cost "to sustain every American newspaper in perpetuity as non-profit organizations" - $114 billion.

Two problems:
1. This will save only the editorial staff. 2. Who says newsroom journalists have a monopoly over original journalism?

So, what models for the news business do we have at present? Here are 14 news business models to choose from:

1. Public funds investigative journalism on a case-by-case basis: e.g. [Dave Cohn's site]

2. Angel funding for investigative journalism: e.g. Propublica [funded by Craig Newmark]

3. Government funds Journalism: e.g. BBC [great work, autonomous], Prasar Bharati (India) - Not so great output due to government interference

4. A Non-profit Trust funds Journalism: e.g. The Guardian

5. Regular Donation Drives funds Journalism: e.g. NPR [Radio]

6. Small, localized, Print on demand newspapers: e.g. - aggregates from local blogs

7. Small, online only news teams [max. size 10] focused on a niche/locality: e.g. Paidcontent, Gigaom

8. A mix of free papers for young people and special editions with analysis for an older crowd

9. Subsidize serious reporting with consumer service coverage [gadgets, celebrities, lifestyles, shopping]: e.g. NYT's Lifestyle publications make the real money

10. Subsidize serious reporting with non-intrusive business line extensions: e.g. Dilbert creator Scott Adams created a computer file storage business with his character's name. Other options include being more like an ad agency for advertisers.

11. Small Newsroom of Investigative reporters, brand name bloggers and community managers, who aggregate and summarize everything else (reviews, opinions) from blogs and other sources: e.g. The Huffington Post

12. Subscription based site plus free articles: e.g.,, - all are business titles

13. iTunes type Pay for each article using micropayments.
Problems: 1. Articles are not pieces of music that people can listen repeatedly 2. Micropayments are intrusive.

14. Newspapers consortiums join forces with distributors like Google or Yahoo: Something like Yahoo Buzz plus Google Adsense.

The discerning reader will note a few overlapping ideas in the above list: small newsroom sizes, mostly online, print only when you have to, focus on original reporting.

Next: Vote for your favorite news business model for these changing times over at Bighow Poll.

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What We Will And Will Not Miss When Newspapers Are Gone

Seth Godin gives a figure - 2% - the budget share of investigative reporting and serious coverage of important issues at a typical paper. Seth goes on to write what he will miss when the printed newspapers are gone and his main point is: some things are best found on the web and some things only a resourceful newspaper can do.
Some people say that the majority don't care about investigative journalism.

But the customer isn't always right. Besides, investigative journalism pays out through book deals, film/TV deals and most importantly, by building brand value. People still remember The Washington Post through the Watergate Scandal.

Things that we will not miss

- Sports, weather, op-eds, comics, books, theatre, restaurant and movie reviews: already available on the web
- Beat Reporting: Better done online with readers' help
- Page long ads and ads covering the front page
- The stuff that goes in newspaper production & distribution: trees, woodpulp, printing presses, typesetting machines, delivery trucks, those stands on the street and the newsstand
- Media Owner's political opinions masquerading as news
- Unnecessary health scares
- Stories about Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Rhianna and how great Justin Timberlake is
- "Product news" story that is just a Press Release
- "Fresh news" that's just rehashed from other sources without attribution

Things that we will miss

- Local news
- Investigative journalism: Special reports, deepr investigations
- Intelligent coverage of national news
- Editorials and op-eds that are genuine conversation starters
- Abuse of power - Uncovering corrupt officials; Examining pieces of legislation
- Political and Social Satire Cartoons: excellent sources of education
- Infographics: another excellent source of information
- The newspaper legal staff: necessary to back you up when you are up against the big guns.
- Jobs generated by publishing newspapers. Printing jobs, office jobs, delivery jobs
- Our physical relationship with the paper - and the ink. + the typography and design [e.g. The Times Magazine's elegant look]
- Cutting and sharing articles
- Crosswords and Sudoku
- The Serendipity. You never know what's on the next page
- The Sunday Section. Window shopping the Sunday ads.
- Sharing the big weekend paper with family during breakfast: and shared news experience in general
- The letters page (online, only The Economist has been able to replicate it through the letters section).
- Alternative distribution media - inserts, goods through the newspaper deliveryman
- Local Newspaper of record: Worldwide, newspapers serve important legal functions - Notices to Creditors, Calls for Tenders, Obituaries/estate notices, Notices of Hearings/Public Meetings, etc.) that are important to meet regulatory requirements
- No need of batteries and power to read the news [unless it is nighttime]
- Not being able to tell what is 'real news' and what is 'created news'

- Alternate uses for the paper: packing materials, burning, ass wiping...
- Free Clothing and blanket for the homeless.

Vote for your choice:
I have created a poll on Bighow Poll about 20 things that we will miss when newspapers are gone: What will you you miss?

Recommended Reading
Jeff Jarvis: Newsroom Economics
Cutting up the Newsroom

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Lalu Yadav connection to Satyam Fraud story

An article in the DNA newspaper points to the Bihar connection at work in putting the Satyam Fraud case on the back-burner. Pointing out that some key players involved in the Satyam Investigations have the Lalu Yadav connection, it says:

“The man at the centre of it all, company affairs minister Prem Chand Gupta, is from the RJD, (the former ruling party in Bihar and now a key Congress ally at the Center). The Andhra Pradesh DGP is a Yadav from Bihar, S.S.P. Yadav. The policeman handling the Andhra CID probe is inspector-general of police V.S.K. Kaumudi. When he was with the CBI some years back, Kaumudi probed Lalu’s fodder scam. He obviously knows a thing or two about Lalu’s secrets. Lalu and the Andhra CM, thus, have an interest in helping each other out….

The above article was written by R. Jagannathan, the managing editor of DNA. Remember, there is a Congress government in Andhra Pradesh. Read the whole article here.

It has been 12 years since Lalu Yadav was charge-sheeted in the Fodder scam in Bihar, which took place when he was the Chief Minister.

Lalu is preparing for a second stint as a Union Railway Minister and hearings on case threaten to go on for eternity in Ranchi.

Does a similar fate await Raju and his accomplices?
Already, they are enjoying five-star luxury inside the jail. Raju is a man with "social status", you see.

Lesson#1: If you have to go to jail, go after stealing a thousand crore not thousand rupees.
Lesson#2: Behind every great fraud, there is a politician.

Link via

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Rise of the Machines: The Cloud strikes back, Facebook edition

As more and more internet users use online services to store their information, pass time, and do whatever they do online, time has come for them to decide what information they store online, including social networking sites such as Facebook. Time also for some strict laws and regulation for the internet cloud, especially about ownership of data - who owns what and why?

Consumerist has written about Facebook's New Terms of Service, where they have done with the old one, which said that when you closed an account on Facebook, any rights Facebook claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire.

The New Facebook Terms of Use says,
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

What does that mean?
Basically, the TOS gives Facebook a 'perpetual, unlimited, do-whatever-they-want', rights to your data.

What can Facebook can do with your information once you are out?
Here are some ideas:
1. Sell your information to marketers, market researchers, basically outsourcing the spamming job.
2. Mine and re-purpose your data - pictures, quotes, links...or, sell them to startups who want to seed their website. BTW, this will be the last thing they will do before switching off the lights.
3. Pore over your relationships - your boss, your company, your friends, your family and spam them as well.
4. Provide your contact data to snoops, recovery agents, government agencies for a fee.
5. Sue you for publishing your own article, pictures elsewhere.

This area sure needs some urgent regulation from the technologically savvy Obama administration, which in turn will set a trend for companies around the globe.

Related on Mediavidea:
Web 2.0: also known as Big Brother, aka HAl, aka Matrix
What a web 2.0 user said to the machine

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