Category Archives: Uncategorized

Beyond Thunderdome: Innovate How News Is Sold

April 3, 2014

Dan Kennedy has a good wrap-up (and so does Newsosaur) of the demise of Digital First Media’s impending collapse following the closure of their Thunderdome Project.

I believe Thunderdome was an innovative process, but it was not enough innovation, sticking to the production side of things, rather than the actual model of news content was sold. Little there has changed: Digital First Media is still producing newspapers (and websites), then trying to get advertisers to advertise in them while also trying to get readers to subscribe to them. What changed was not the business model, but the way the newspapers and websites got made: with a centralized news production process.

Creating a centralized desk for news production is a significant effort; The News Gods know how resistant journalists are to change. But while it attacks the issue of cost (much in the same way Journatic attempted), it does nothing to actually change the system for how compensation is obtained for the news created.

If you’ve looked at any news organization’s P&L, you wouldn’t likely find much innovation in Digital First Media. It was still make news > get subscribers > get advertisers. The innovators are ditching the advertising models, or minimizing them.

In the last year, we’ve seen the launch of, Walt Mossberg & Kara Swisher’s tech site that relies on conference revenue, as does, the ad and publishing news site and, a tech news site that’s beginning to focus on new conference offerings., a tech news site launched by former WSJ staff, is subscription-based., a travel industry news site founded by the creator of, Rafat Ali, makes its money from travel industry analysis reports.

It’s not innovation anymore to change how you make the news, you have to change how you sell the news.


TV Networks’ Position Is Worse Than They Let On

From CBS chief says network could go all-Internet if Aereo wins:

“If there are systems out there that try to hurt us, then we could go to OTT,” [CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves] said, using the abbreviation for over-the-top Internet television delivery. “If Aereo should work, if they should win, which we don’t think is going to happen, we could go OTT with CBS.”

There are so many reasons why doing this would be the networks cutting off their nose to spite their face:  such as the amount of money their O-and-Os still make over broadcast or the fact that many small market independently-owned stations only make money because they are the sole provider (via broadcast) of network content.

Don’t get me wrong, all the networks are going to have to make this move at some point. But right now their economics are set up for the broadcast model. Aereo is just hastening the inevitable reckoning. The question is: Will the networks be forced into a crash-change, or will they have enough time and foresight to create a gradual change?

The fact that multi-billion dollar deals like this are still happening makes me think the former is more likely.

March 11, 2014 |

NYT Announces Their Nate Silver Replacement: The Upshot

Via Quartz:

David Leonhardt, the Times’ former Washington bureau chief, who is in charge of The Upshot, told Quartz that the new venture will have a dedicated staff of 15, including three full-time graphic journalists, and is on track for a launch this spring.“The idea behind the name is, we are trying to help readers get to the essence of issues and understand them in a contextual and conversational way,” Leonhardt says. “Obviously, we will be using data a lot to do that, not because data is some secret code, but because it’s a particularly effective way, when used in moderate doses, of explaining reality to people.”

This sounds like it’ll be good, but there’s no way it will fully replace the traffic Nate Silver generated. He’s a very unique talent with a very unique approach.

March 10, 2014 |

Free Images: Getty Gets It

Notice something different? Yep, it’s the embed system that’s part of the Getty image. Starting today, most Getty images are now available for non-commercial use and sharing this way. Not sure if it will actually result in Getty making more money (and more photogs get paid), but it’s definitely thinking in the right direction, rather than the usual way creative content owners respond.

Note: There’s still some problems with Getty’s tech. Just fooling around a bit with the iframe height settings allow you to crop off the embed caption. And it doesn’t look like the images can be made responsive.

March 5, 2014 |

Pando Daily’s crossed the line with First Look

When determining journalistic integrity, there’s a blurry line between what is important and not important. At some point you begin chasing ghosts and ranting, rather than discussing real conflicts of interest.

With yesterday’s rant, I think Pando Daily has officially moved across the blurry line from asking reasonable questions into a witch hunt. There’s no there there, and if Pando’s team is reasonable, Glenn Greenwald’s measured response should pretty much close the book on the issue.

March 1, 2014 |