Great post from Martin Belam yesterday on the Telegraph’s imminent metered paywall.
He ends by despairing at the lack of up to date information about the new plans on the Telegraph site and along the way points out who exactly would be affected by the 20-articles-a-month-for-free-and-then-you-pay model.
Here’s the key passage (my emphasis):
Now, from having spent a long time looking at news website analytics over the years I happen to know that the numbers will almost certainly say that the average number of pages viewed per user per month is between 1 and 5, or something of that magnitude. The only people who will get caught up in the twenty articles a month bracket are:
1. Telegraph super-users and loyalists, who may be tempted to add a print subscription into their package, and can certainly be marketed in that direction over the coming months.
2. Super-heavy news consumers and industry people like myself, who will presumably just tuck it into their business expenses like I do with my Times subscription. And now they’ll have more data about me.
So Google is dropping its RSS reader in the company’s latest bout of spring cleaning. The official reason? Declining usage. To me that misses the point:
[An] RSS reader was never meant to be mainstream in the way that, say, email is.
It is, instead, a niche product with enormous impact. It is niche, in part, because it requires (a little) technical nous – and explaining its application to a non-user is not the easiest thing to do. Unless, your non-user needs quick access to multiple sources in near real-time. Like a journalist, for instance.
RSS readers are used by what might be termed grandly as opinion formers or, at least, those who reach an audience. Like a journalist, for instance.
You can continue reading Google kills off its most useful tool for journalists. Why? over at the Press Gazette.
Hat tip to Nieman Journalism Lab for spotting this exchange on Quora which sheds light on the New York Times’s attempt to cultivate more meaningful exchanges “below the line”.
The question posed:
How does the NYT determine which articles have comments?
The answer was provided by the New York Times’s community manager, Bassey Etim. He wrote:
The vast majority of NYT comments are handled by a human moderator. This means that we have to make an editorial decision about which comment threads we will open for comments each day. Also, we adhere to a sort-of “slow moderation” theory, which posits that the best way to respect the commenting efforts of our readership is to ensure that their comments exist in an urbane, literate environment. (Definitely not an approach that is good for everyone, but it works fabulously for us, for reasons you can probably divine.) Our goal is to have every NYT comment thread offer tangible added value to each article for our readership.
The costs to this approach are obvious — it takes a long time, and many stories do not get comments. But NYT readers expect the highest-quality everything from us, so that’s what we deliver.
To boil it down, Etim lists “general criteria for opening a story for comment, generally in order of importance”:
– News value of the story
– Projected reader interest in the story
– Have we recently had comments on this issue?
– Whether we can moderate the projected # of comments in a timely fashion
I’ve put together some thoughts on the impact social media can have on conventional newsgathering over at the Press Gazette.
Using an example from my days working at Channel 4 News and drawing on an interesting post by Austrian radio journalist Nadja Hahn, I make the point that:
Social media doesn’t replace conventional media; and new techniques don’t replace old. However, social media does extend reach and, invariably, accelerates the newsgathering process. It complements, it supplements, it enhances. Not bad for 140 characters.
You can read the whole thing here.
Two of Australia’s quality dailies, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age, went tabloid this morning (Monday) and it was just the peg the Australian media needed to talk about the threat to print from digital. And the slippery slope down market.
It’s worth watching this report from ABC to get a sense of some of the contrasting views on the move over there, which mirror the conversations over here.
Personally I was particularly struck by this from Garry Linnell, editorial director of Fairfax, the publisher of both papers. Here, for once, was a senior executive not pretending to have it all mapped out.
What’s the future for newspapers? I don’t know. I mean I didn’t know five years ago that we would be publishing on a tablet. In five years time we will be broadcasting of a hologram of a paper boy into your living room screaming out that morning’s headlines? I don’t know. I can’t predict it.
All I know is that this industry has actually gone from the Flintstones to the Jetsons in the space of a decade.