Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Old media looking to build payment system for their sites

An impressive group of media executives are forming a new company to build a system for online payments. It's yet another sign that the old media are moving beyond the panic stage and beginning to look at ways to make the new media work for them. A New York Times story described the new system this way: "As the company envisions the system, a nonpaying reader on a magazine or newspaper site would reach a certain point and see a page asking for payment — the Journalism Online system, operating within the publication’s Web site. But a reader who wanted a subscription to multiple sites would go directly to the new company’s own site." The system would be built around credit cards. My prediction is that the era of free content is rapidly coming to a halt.

Time CEO believes magazines will be "strong" in the future

Time CEO Ann S. Moore expressed her belief that magazines will recover from the current problems and prosper in the future. "I'm absolutely sure that the Time Inc. brands I'm working on will be strong long after we're gone," she told an industry group. Among the things she said was something that directly applies to college journalism students: "The need for trusted editing skills is not going to go away." There was a lot of interesting observations in her talk, among them the toll on productivity of email. I'd add Twitter, Facebook and other social media to that. The industry used to talk about time pressures. Now everyone seems to want to suggest moving into new platforms. Some of these new social media, I suggest, will be the 8 tracks and digital audio recordings of the future.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blogger criticizes police; police seize computers

For those who think the world will be just fine without big media companies, I point to this story about a blogger in Phoenix whose house was raided and computers and other files seized by Phoenix police. He runs a blog criticizing the police. Without forming judgements on the merits of either his blog or the police actions, I note that the blogger, while receiving some publicity (especially on the Internet; little in established media), is carrying on his fight by himself at quite some legal costs. It offers a chilling prospect for any individual who faces the prospect of running afoul of local authorities. I remember when I once was served papers threatening a million-dollar lawsuit, I felt very confident because I had a corporation and its attorneys backing me me. I'm not sure I'd have written the story if I didn't.

Another possible future

Hyperlocal sites hope to fill gap if newspapers die. They aggregate news, blogs, government information, etc. at an extreme local level. Seems like all it would need is someone to cull through all the chaff to find the grains of wheat. Amazing that the industry seems to accept that people want quick reads but then gropes at solutions that involve anything but.