Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Suddenly, e-books are hot items

Newspapers have been incredibly slow in adapting to the digital age, but we're beginning to see progress. One application that shows potential is for newspapers and other media publications to adapt their content into virtually instantaneous (and inexpensive) e-books.

It clearly makes sense for news organizations that are generating a lot of content to compile them into e-books, which are generally shorter, cheaper and quicker to produce. Recent e-books have been produced by Huffington Post, The New Yorker, ABC News, The Boston Globe, Politico and Vanity Fair.

Let's see if the Journal Sentinel produces one celebrating the Brewers' climb toward a pennant.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PolitiFact franchises growing

Let's give the Journal Sentinel its due: it was ahead of the curve with its adopting the controversial PolitiFact ratings. The system was created by the St. Petersburg Times, which franchised it to the Milwaukee newspaper and four others.

Although its ratings have been attacked by virtually everyone (it's too easy on Republicans was one charge; now some Republicans say it's too hard on them with Democrats criticizing claiming that now that the recall elections are over, it tells the truth -- once again proving that the media can't win), it's been so popular that the system is now expanding its franchisees nationwide. It's a good idea, and I'm glad to see it growing.

Media companies -- but not advertisers -- embrace mobile technology

Several years ago I was at a conference where one of the new media types dominating the speaking roles was extolling his newest toy -- an early version of the smart phone. "This is the future," I remember him saying, holding up a phone with a tiny stream of text. I don't want to read my news on that tiny screen; it'll take all day to read a story, I remember thinking.

Flash forward and here I was sitting in a doctor's office reading the Guardian newspaper's lead story on a tiny screen. It still was slow and inefficient, but mobile has made it's place in the new media world in which we live.

A new report by Online Media Daily indicates that publishers are quickly adapting with more than a quarter of them offering mobile applications -- a doubling in the last year. The problem, as it is with all digital media, is advertising presence.

Online Media says that ad presence remains very low, which makes sense giving the small screen. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers tiny ads at the bottom of the screen, but tiny is the operative word. They barely show up, and still are offensive giving the small amount of real estate available.

It's an evolving technology (and the smart phone is vastly inferior to the tablet as a vehicle for media), but where I once disdained the very thought of trying to make sense of such limited text options, I now use it. So who knows what the future might bring.