7 lessons in mobile publishing

Following the Press Gazette’s excellent News on the Move conference last month, I’ve written a piece for the Guardian Media Network pulling out the key lessons shared on the day.

In short, what does the move to mobile mean for publishers of all stripes? These seven things at least:

1. Plan for the extended internet day – and week

2. Think format

3. Remember, the web still rules

4. Use apps to upsell

5. Don’t forget the role of social media

6. Viral hits don’t happen without mobile

7. It’s the content, stupid

I expand on each over at ‘From BBC to BuzzFeed: lessons in mobile publishing‘.

Successful Mobile and Tablet Editorial Strategies for Print News Publishers: The Video

I took part in the Press Gazette’s third News on the Move conference yesterday, chairing one of the three debates on the impact of mobile and tablet on publishing and journalism. As before, it was a really stimulating event with lots of smart ideas, thoughts and people — in the audience as well as on the panels.

You can watch the whole thing here.

The debate I chaired – Successful Mobile and Tablet Editorial Strategies for Print News Publishers – starts at around 25′ 12”. The panel featured:

– Alan Hunter, Head of Digital, The Times & Sunday Times

– Subhajit Banerjee, Mobile Editor, Guardian News & Media

– Martin Ashplant, Digital and Social Media Director, City A.M (and former head of digital at Metro.co.uk)


Why it’s hard for The Times to leverage social media behind a paywall

Two moves at The Times and Sunday Times — the closure of the Times Opinion Tumblr and the introduction of a retweeting tool — prompted me to write something for Press Gazette about how social media does and doesn’t work behind a paywall.

Here’s the crux of the piece:

Back in the mid/late 2000s search engines drove most people to The Times, accounting for up to 70 per cent of the traffic at one time, according to one senior editorial executive. That was pre-paywall and that was before social began to offer a serious alternative source of high volume traffic.

News International concluded that it couldn’t turn those passing eyeballs into a viable commercial model – and the majority of newspaper groups either side of the Atlantic have come to a similar conclusion.

But a subscription model doesn’t negate the need to create buzz around your journalism. After all, it’s the quality of that journalism that you are selling and to do that effectively you have to show some leg, you have to give non-subscribers a taste of what they are missing, you have to give some of it away for free.

You need to use social media effectively to spread the word. That means no matter how many staffers retweet a cracking page one splash, the link needs to lead somewhere that’s not “sign up here”.

You can read The Times, paywalls and social media here.


Syndication Overload For The New York Times

new-york-times-observer-taliban2It feels like déjà vu all over again. 

Keen-eyed followers of this blog will be familiar with David Rohde’s fascinating account of his seven-month kidnap by the Taliban.

Originally published in Rohde’s own paper The New York Times – and simultaneously on the paper’s website – a couple of week’s ago, it made a second appearance in last week’s Sunday Times.   

And now, it has turned up in The Observer (pictured). Or to be more precise, The New York Times supplement that appears in that particular Sunday paper.

The New York Times supplement is published weekly in 26 newspapers around the world (cultural imperialism, anyone?).

The articles in the British version are “selected in association with The Observer”, or so it says below the masthead. That being the case, it seems strange that nobody at Kings Place appears concerned that the paper had been scooped by one its fiercest rivals.

I wondered a week ago what the role of syndication was in the link economy and argued that it still had a place in certain circumstances. But syndication in triplicate does seem to be going a bit far.

 – What’s The Future Of Syndication?

What’s The Future Of Syndication?

the-sunday-times-25-oct-2009Prisoner Of The Taliban‘ looked like a compelling, if slightly familiar, read. Spread across pages one, two and three yesterday’s Sunday Times News Review section, it was an American journalist’s account of his seven-month kidnap in the Afghan desert.

A quick scan to the end of David Rohde’s piece revealed all, in customary italics:

Extracted from an article that first appeared in The New York Times.

And that’s where I and, most likely, other Sunday Times readers had read the original in all its five-part glory.

Syndication is a normal part of the newspaper business, whether it’s a tabloid previewing the latest celeb photo-shoot from one of the glossies, a broadsheet recasting an essay from a highbrow monthly as op-ed, or – as here – a UK paper taking some of the best journalism from abroad.

But in the link economy, where access to the original source is only a click away, isn’t syndication increasingly redundant?

Last week, I suggested that the likes of the Associated Press were the real losers in a world where aggregation ruled. And that’s probably still the case for those whose business is predicated on providing copy for multiple sources. In other words, those businesses which conform to the most exact definition of syndication. 

But for publishers there is another, softer reason to continue this content-sharing relationship besides any monetary exchange: profile.

And that, after all, is what I am doing by publishing this article here and here. Albeit on a much, much smaller scale.

NewsNow: ‘End These Indiscriminate Attacks’

Gill Breaks Obit Code, Flambés Floyd

aa-gill-on-keith-floydLike our constitution, the media code for dealing with the recently departed is unwritten but it can be simply put – if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

With the possible exception of dealing with serial killers and despots, it is a convention tightly observed. Sometimes it’s easy to be nice – nobody appears to have a bad word to say about Sir Bobby Robson, as Matt Dickinson noted in the Times yesterday.

On other occassions it’s more troublesome. Take Jade Goody, who was treated with derision by the papers for much of her public life. Nevertheless, the period either side of her passing was like a tabloid love-in.

With all that in mind, let me take you to AA Gill’s television column in The Sunday Times.

Gill goes on to acknowledge that Keith Floyd “changed the way food and cookery were presented on the screen”. But not before these two opening paragraphs:

Tonight Keith Floyd sleeps with the fishes. I can’t in all honesty say that I’ll miss him. I was once sent to interview Keith in the south of Spain, where he’d retired: one of his many retirements, all hurt and self-pityish, to escape from the ravages of unions, socialists, philistines, do-gooders, traffic wardens, political correctness, immigrants, critics and sober bores who had apparently taken over Great Britain, the country he loved except for everything it did and everyone in it.

I found him in one of those sorry expat Costa del Sol pubs at 10.30am, necking pints, leaning on a bar with half a dozen hacking, pasty-faced, nicotine-fingered taxi drivers and nightclub bouncers, flicking through The Sun while complaining about the football and the price of Marmite. Four hours later I left him slumped and insensible in an armchair, his sweet young wife apologising with a well-practised, half-hearted boredom as she tried to get him off the soft furnishings before his bladder gave up.