Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Digg this: appetite for online news & information grows, social media site is the rising star

Mainstream media publishers diving into digital should be encouraged by the lastest report from Hitwise : News andMedia websites experienced 28% year-on-year growth in market share of UK Internet visits in January. But there's also a warning: the biggest winner wasn't a traditional news provider, but social news site . was the fastest growing News andMedia website year-on-year in January among the top 100 sites based on visits.’s market share of UK internet visits grew more than 5-old comparing January 2006 and January2007. was the #1 IT Media website in January 2007 and the #32 ranked News and Mediawebsite. The website’s ranking climbed from #85 in August and from #182 in January 2006.

Heather Hopkins, VP of Research for Hitwise UK, said:
"Traditional print media brands are learning the ways of the web and growth in visits to the categoryreflects a new lease of life for the sector. Yesterday’s positive earnings announcement from the Financial Times, citing online advertising sales up30%, supports the resurgence that offline media brands are enjoying online. Print media websites enjoyeda strong year, with visits up 28% year-on-year in January, making it one of the fastest growingcategories. However, challenging times lie ahead as more and more consumers turn to nimble socialmedia websites for news and analysis.”

NOTE: Earlier this month, Heather discussed a draft of this white paper at a special Editor's Briefing we hosted in Preston. She also participated in the 5th Journalism Leaders Forum entitled "Media Mashups! How Traditional Media Brands Survive and Thrive in a Wired World." You can watch a recording of that session HERE

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How many 'portions' of television contributes to a healthy diet?

Only caught a snippet of last night's BBC - Radio 4 - PM report on children and television that included an interview with Dr Arik Sigmund who synthesized the findings of 35 major studies on the affects of television on children. [Note to BBC: please post a podcast of it on the PM site]. In brief, Dr Sigmund's point, as I understood it, was this: too much TV is very, very bad for kids' brains and (expanding) butts. Speaking for the 'other side' was a bloke from BBC children's TV who argued that 'correlation doesn't mean causation', i.e. just because TV addicts can't concentrate and tend to be obese, doesn't mean that it's TV's fault. And even if there is a problem, he added continuing his Big Mac Defense, don't blame us, we just make the stuff; it's up to the consumers - kids and their parents - to take responsibility for their own media consumption habits.

Reminds me of the ongoing discussions around the use and abuse of alcohol, which are also in the news this week ( "12-year-old Scotch may be the greatest alcohol, but 12-year-old Brits are the greatest alcoholics" ). The contribution by public health professionals - and the some industry players - to the debate has been to promote 'responsible use' - AND to articulate what that means, i.e. guides on how many units a day are acceptable, etc.
  • Suggestion: Perhaps the BBC - which aims to not simply be a public broadcaster, but a public good - could work with researchers (such as Dr Sigmund?) to develop guidelines for parents (and others) on how many minutes/ hours a day of 'screen time' would be acceptable as part of a balanced media diet.

Friday, February 16, 2007

And The Winner Is... ABC For Best Sell-Out Of An Oscar Telecast

MediaPost reports:

ABC Thursday wrapped up sales for its coverage of this year's Oscar® telecast, fetching more than (US)$1.6 million per 30-second spot for what traditionally is the second most expensive reoccurring network TV ad property of the year.

I'll soon be auctioning ad space for the officialDolly's© Webcast. Anyone want to open the bidding?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Move over Oscar®, it's time for the ... Dolly's©?

We've had the the Golden Globe Awards®, the Baftas®, and coming soon are the Oscar's®. Next, I propose, we should have the Dolly’s©. But first some background.

The (UK) Press Gazette this week ran a piece on the use of online video by newspapers in which they quote Guardian Unlimited's head of editor development Neil McIntosh saying something which has been a bit of a mantra for us here at the Journalism Leaders Programme:

The first question newspapers should be asking is 'why would you do this?'

...Asking users to "sit forward" and watch video online is a "big commitment", he says, but the rise of YouTube has shown that there is a huge market for "good, gripping video in short bursts".

McIntosh argues that this has been almost completely ignored by other newspapers. "They are often producing very long things or content that is not very gripping at all, or full of stock images of men in suits walking through revolving doors. That works perfectly well on broadcast television but when you're demanding that the user pay attention for short bursts, you've got to do better than that," he says.

There is no inherent advantage in being a newspaper trying to do video. The only reason why users will come to us, or anyone else, is that we're telling a story as well as, if not better than other places, or in a different way. It's something which we've seen with the success of our podcasts — they are strongest in areas in which we can
actually deliver something which is different from the BBC — and let's face it they're our biggest rival in all of this."

Back to the awards. It will probably be a while before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (and the like) include a ‘Best Use of IPTV by M(ain)S(tream)M(edia)’ category. So, in the spirit of the ‘citizen journalism/consumer power/we the media etc, I propose the Dolly's© (in memory of the cloning pioneer). With that, I’m taking suggestions for:

1. Award Categories ("Best Immitation of BBC news bulletin"?)
2. Nominees for each category (see above)

Heck, everything's still up for grab. If you don't like the Dolly's© and you've got an alternative suggestion, let me know too.

[In the meantime, I'm going to try to find out more about another quote in Zoe Smith's piece:

Research by Informa Telecoms and Media has found that the trend towards online TV and video reflects wider cultural changes. The company predicts that revenue generated from online TV and video services will rise from $42m in 2006 to $364m in 2009, rocketing to $708 in 2012.

Got many questions about this, including wanting to know the criteria used to generate these numbers. Answers?]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pause, replay and keep the 'Media Mashups' Forum debate going

After more than an hour and half, we hit ‘pause’ – not ‘stop’ - on the provocative 5th Journalism Leaders Forum discussion on the challenges facing traditional media in the Web 2.0 Age.

Amongst the many issues raised by the distinguished panel - Jane Singer, Alan Moore, Heather Hopkins and Mark Tungate – was this from Alan:

"Trust, engagement, connectivity, life-enhancement, life-simplification and navigation sums up magazines and their current success, not least through internet contact with their readers. Does this mean traditional [news] brands should look to [consumer] magazines as a template for the future?"

A look at the 2006/2007 World Magazine Trends report from the International Federation of the Periodical Press or FIPP (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Périodique) suggests he may have a point:

The [UK]consumer magazine industry was valued at £2,984 million in 2005, up by £135 million on the previous year. Consumer expenditure increased by 6.2% year-on-year to reach £2,157 million while advertising expenditure rose by 1% to £829 million. Total annual sales increased by 7% to 1,438 million copies per annum which means that since the year 2000, consumer magazines have enjoyed continuous year-on-year growth in both annual sales volume and purchasers’ expenditure. The number of consumer titles published rose by 42 to 3,366 between 2004 and 2005, the fourth consecutive year of growth.
So, why don’t you review an unedited recording of the Webinar here and post your comments on the Forum blog?

The 6th Forum is scheduled for 15 May 2007. We’ll post the details soonest.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Why the 'quite startling' use of the Internet by SA daily newspapers?

“Yes. Perhaps, but probably not.” Is the short answer to Chicago-based Robb Montgomery’s comment on my previous post:

These measurements are quite startling. I suspect these anemic figures directly correlate to the level of broadband penetration in S.A. What can you tell us about that metric.

Yes, these figures are startling and perhaps some of it can be attributed to Internet accessibility and affordability, in general, and of broadband, in particular. Reports show that just over 10%, internet penetration in South Africa is more than three times that of the average for the continent (a little more than 3%) and about on par with the average for Asia (10%). However, it is far behind the rates in Latin America (16%), Europe (38.6) Oceania / Australia (53.5%) and North America (69.4%). [Check out for a primer on the debate in SA].

However, I suspect the lacklustre use of the Internet by the daily newspapers is not simply an issue of access: millions of people in South Africa do have Internet access and around 7 million at home and abroad access news and information sites.

And it’s not primarily an issue of money: World Bank GDP rankings put South Africa at 27th, just below Denmark (26) and above Greece (28), Ireland (29) and Iran (30) . E-tailing was reported up 30% in 2006 to R668 million (about US $98 million) and this year online advertising is expected to be worth around R200million (about US$28million).

And it’s not even an issue of awareness: at the continent’s largest annual conference for journalists, Highway Africa – which is actively supported and attended by most of the major media groups - the Internet has officially been on the local industry’s agenda for more than a decade.

It's not simply an issue of capacity: in 1994, the Mail & Guardian was one of the first newspapers in the world to go online.

It is, I would argue, down to leadership. In that, South African newspaper editors have much in common with their colleagues in the UK (the group with which I have the most interaction) and elsewhere (I suspect) : they've been happy to be seen to be on the web, but are not part of the web. With that they've been happy to let the techies do their thing somewhere else, but not nearly as eager to integrate operations. For example, the two of the largest media houses in SA have built pretty successful 'shovelware' news portals - & - which operate independently.

But there is evidence of some new thinking, as I've noted before and of which Johnnic Communication's Ohmynews-like site,, is a further example: The company's hugely profitable Sunday Times newspaper has also recently re-launched its website and have include interactivity which should help build a daily (rather than just weekly) dialogue with their users. Not a bad idea, especially given rumours that they're planning to spin off a daily print paper sometime soon.

Robb, also asked: "Who has it and who doesn't?". Any ideas?