Friday, December 2, 2011

Should we all follow Warren Buffett's example?

The rule in the financial markets is to buy whatever Warren Buffett buys. So does his purchase of the Omaha World-Herald mean we should all buy newspapers? The Christian Science Monitor suggests that's not what his purchase of his hometown newspaper says. But it still is instructive for the rest of us.

Buffett himself was quoted as telling the World-Herald: ""I think newspapers ... have a decent future." But, he went on, in terms of profits, "it won't be like the past. But there are still a lot of things newspapers can do better than any other media. They not only can be sustained, but are important.''

I suspect that the purchase was for one of the oldest reasons in the book: power. Controlling newspapers means taking control of local agenda-setting, and rich people have done that since America was a tad. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see others follow his example. After all, we don't have to look far to find rich guys who want more power.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New York Times opens a conversation for readers

When the New York Times selected Jill Abramson as its executive editor, we knew that the Internet-savvy new editor would move the Times farther along into the digital world. She announced another step today in turning journalism at the Times from what we stuffy academics call "lecture" mode into a "conversation." Specifically, the Times made several changes to its comment system to, as Abramson put it, "improve the community experience" at the Times.

It'll be interesting to see how this whole "conversation" thing plays out. I remember my extreme pleasure years ago when I first read the letters in the Times of London. They were a conversation, and the changes Abramson announced will help with the New York Times.

Could Pulitzer Changes Mean an Award for Live-Tweeting?

I loved the headline the Nieman Journalism Lab put on its item about the Pulitzers changing rules that I used it on this item. That's reducing the changes to their minimum, but it's not totally farfetched.

What the board did was change the emphasis on its rules for the Breaking News Category: "For a distinguished example of local reporting of breaking news that, as quickly as possible, captures events accurately as they occur, and, as times passes, illuminates, provides context and expands upon the initial coverage." As the Nieman Lab folks said, "In other words, the new language seems to ask for multiple snapshots of the active, in-the-moment, messy-at-times reporting outlets are giving their readers."

The times, they are a'changing.

Internet privacy issue boils again

The Internet has exploded with stories about a major privacy issue with Android phones. Apparently a company is installing a program that tracks each keystroke. The company, Carrier IQ, claims, according to a Forbes story, that it's only aggregating data and isn't passing along anything but "anonymized" data, it still would be violating a host of wiretap laws, according to Paul Ohm, a former Justice Department prosecutor and law professor at the University of Colorado Law School.

Unfortunately, it's only the tip of the privacy iceberg, I'm afraid. I don't have any expectation that anything I do on the Internet is really private. This story shows that I may be paranoid, but I'm not wrong.

Update: Social Media Insider recounts the story with author Steve Smith adding "As the debate over digital data tracking moves from online behavioral targeting to cell phones, the stakes over the issue get higher for all sides. This is not going to go away."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TV blog says social media doesn't drive audience to shows

While I've wondered aloud for quite a while about the lack of research showing online advertising works, I've found some on social media that casts doubt on it's effectiveness. A MediaPost blog -- TVBlog -- had some disappointing words for those looking to the Internet, especially social media as a way to cut costs, saying "Despite the hoopla about social media driving interest in new fall shows, network marketers probably shouldn’t abandon thick inserts in entertainment magazines or planes tugging banners over beaches. Not to mention cut back on their on-air promos. Which is a bummer considering using Facebook and Twitter is a lot cheaper than buying glossy pages or hiring pilots."

Sometimes you get what you pay for.

British hacking scandal reaches new heights

The news from the British phone hacking scandal revolving around Rupert Murdoch's empire (although it's far from the only offender) has been so disgusting to journalists that we've become inured to the drip, drip, drip of scandal.

But Tuesday's testimony is so openly offensive that we should all read it just to give our ethic brain nodes s a jolt. The New York Times called some of the testimony "jaw-droppingly brazen," a phrase that I've never heard about alleged journalists (and I'll not dignify those in this scandal by calling them journalists).

The Times said that after Paul McMullan, a former deputy features editor at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid, "had finished his jaw-droppingly brazen remarks at a judicial inquiry on Tuesday, it was hard to think of any dubious news-gathering technique he had not confessed to, short of pistol-whipping sources for information."