Howzat! What The Ashes Did To The Web

So, it turns out that we don’t just follow the over-by-over stuff – fingers guiltily poised on Alt-Tab* – when we’re at work.cricket_ashes_guardian

Hitwise’s Robin Goad has been crunching the all-important numbers and it would seem that the Ashes decider had fans logging on in unprecedented numbers. On a beautiful summer Sunday, no less.

Sky Sports enjoyed its best spike ever, boasting 0.74 per cent of all UK internet traffic. For the BBC, only last year’s Beijing Olympics outdid the 1.12 per cent it received yesterday.

Meanwhile, Hitwise’s category of 100 specialist cricket sites reached its highest level for three years yesterday, collectively accounting for 1.11 per cent of all UK visits.

Doubtless, a Monday finish would have resulted in even more spectacular numbers.

By comparison, Australian cricket websites suffered a dip, down to 0.12 per cent.

Must be the time difference.

*For the uninitiated the Alt-Tab key combination will take a PC user from an incriminating, non-work website to an impressive spreadsheet in under 0.01 seconds.

What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?

Alistair Campbell Not Dead Despite Portuguese Spin

alistair_campbell_spectator2Great spot from the Spectator’s multilingual Clive Davis. Browsing the obituary page of Portugal’s Diário de Notícias, as one does, he discovered “that Britain’s most famous Burnley and Brel fan had spun his last.”

Not in the least bit true, as it turns out. The opening – “poet, novelist and playwright” – is probably enough to put that one to bed regardless of the four and a half stars All in the Mind gets on Amazon.


What’s Wrong With This Telegraph Front Page?
One Of The Best Photo Captions Ever
Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’

The Week’s Most Read Posts (17-23 August 2009)

Rightmove, The Local Press And The Craigslist Effect

Could the recession and the accompanying slump in the housing market see a permanent shift in property advertising from paper to online?

If so, that spells more bad news for the struggling local newspaper.

Rightmove, the property website, certainly believes that there is a significant change in advertiser sentiment. Its commercial director Miles Shipside, quoted in today’s Guardian, says:

“One of the benefits of the downturn is that it has broken a habit of 50 years of advertising in newspapers … When spend becomes more available to estate agents, we are confident they will stay with us because home-mover habits are to search online.” 

Well, he would say that wouldn’t he.

But the figures, what they are, do suggest a shift. Rightmove’s share of the property advertising market has “grown substantially” with the number of letting agencies using its service up 15 per cent since the beginning of 2009. Holiday lettings are up 18 per cent.

And despite a difficult period for the sector in general, Rightmove had more visitors to its site during August than at any time in its nine-year history.

In a sense the advertiser is merely catching up with the consumer.

A search-driven activity like looking for a new house is made for the web. While property websites may lack the portability of the local paper or property magazine, the practical advantage of a giant, searchable database are there for all to see.

We’ve been here before, of course.

Craigslist and eBay have taken a huge chunk out of the traditional classifieds business in the United States. According to Chris Anderson in Free, Craig Newmark’s no-charge listings have wiped $30bn off newspaper companies’ stock market valuation .

And one look at the trend from newspaper to online advertising in the US, such as the one above from Silicon Alley Insider is enough to give local newspaper execs nightmares.

thelondonpaper’s Demise: Word From The Blogosphere
Scarcity, Abundance And The Misapprehension Of Online Advertising
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

links for 2009-08-21

thelondonpaper’s Demise: Word From The Blogosphere

thelondonpaper_2News that Rupert Murdoch’s News International is to close the capital’s freesheet thelondonpaper prompted an outpouring on the blogosphere and the Twittersphere – analysis, opinion and some insight from those who worked on the paper.

David Brown was part of the launch team and he remembers “the genuine pride” on the day it went live in September 2006. That despite the obvious lack of resources.

Writing on The Media Blog (for which I’m also a contributor), Brown notes:

Although News International poured millions into the product, the feeling that things were being done on a shoestring was never far away. Many of the staff were put on shorter, one-month notice periods and given different pension rights and lesser benefits than others in the News International stable.

Another member of the 2006 launch team James Seddon says the writing was on the wall from the very start – and Rupert Murdoch’s recent conversion for paid-for online content merely confirmed thelondonpaper’s demise.

Seddon notes: 

Apparently when the dummy copy was presented to Murdoch by the paper’s editor, his response was that you could charge 10p for it – an anecdote that was repeated with an ‘oh Dad, what are you like, you silly old codger?’ tone. So if he didn’t get ‘free’ then, it’s no surprise he dropped the paper when times were tough.

It’s a theme taken up by Gordon Macmillan, editor of Brand Republic. While acknowledging “no one thing killed thelondonpaper”, he writes:

Given that News Corporation has stated that it intends to charge for all forms of online content, a free newspaper and its free website makes ever less sense. Maybe this is the reason that the website will close along with the print title.

I’m not sure that reading of the situation is right. Even if Murdoch does go down the paid for route, he’s not going to rid himself of the free competition simply by closing one of his own titles.

There’s a place for free online and a title covering a mix of general news, London listings, sport and celebrity seems to fit that model.

Despite the trend for paywalls, micropayments and the rest, the ad-supported model will continue to work in certain situation. And I’m sure Murdoch knows that. (see: What if the business model for news ain’t broke? for more on this)

David Brown for one defends the original business proposition:

In terms of economics, the concept of opening up a way for advertisers to target the pockets of the all-important 20-35 commuter demographic … made sense.

There was, however, at least one silver lining. As’s Laura Oliver noted on Twitter:

@LauraOliver oh well, will no longer need to agonise over whether its the london paper/thelondonpaper/The London Paper etc

thelondonpaper Folds. Capital-Centric Media Bias Alive And Well On Twitter.
Fox News Anchor To Rupert Murdoch: ‘Mr Chairman Sir, Why Are You So Great?’
What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

thelondonpaper Folds. Capital-Centric Media Bias Alive And Well On Twitter.

thelondonpaperAnother day, another piece of news broken (to many) via Twitter.

At 1.11pm today the following three items dropped on to my Twitter feed from Tim Bradshaw, digital media correspondent at the FT; Ian Burrell, media editor of the Independent; and Conrad Quilty-Harper, currently working on the Press Gazette:

@tim breaking news: News International is proposing to close thelondonpaper

@iburrell Wow, News International looking to close down the london paper

@Coneee News International is planning to close @thelondonpaper Story up on @pressgazette imminently

Now, all three may have been dutifully typing while watching one of those rare things – a ‘Breaking News’ event on Sky News that justifies all that swooshing and red graphic-ry. But for those of us not forced to have rolling news in their place of work, Twitter has become the medium of choice for new news.

Among the lunchtime retweeting, these three and others have been moving the story on – either with quotes from James Murdoch or, in the case of Burrell, a speculative punt:

@iburrell sounds to me like they’ve cut a deal with Associated to merge the frees, but i’ll need to check. less litter on the streets i suppose

As I write, News International is seventh in Twitter’s trending topics. Not bad for local story about a local paper.

(UPDATE: Freelance web developer David Natriss – @Natts – who had a regular gig at thelondonpaper online provides some interesting commentary on today’s events and a robust defence on paper’s editorial line.)

 – Here’s Why Twitter As Glorified RSS Misses The Point
 – Five Ways News Organisations Should Use Twitter