Rich Julius: Blogging Writes

On the Digital Future of Content

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Capitalizing on News Assets

Posted on Feb 2, 2012 in Future of News | 0 comments

Noted journalist Bob Garfield is the author of The Chaos Scenario, a 2009 book about the collapse of traditional media. Garfield was recently interviewed by Peter Conti, EVP of Borrell Associates, an advertising and media industry research and consulting firm. (Garfield will be presenting the keynote address at Borrell’s annual Local Online Advertising Conference in New York City.) The interview, available on YouTube, is titled ‘The future isn’t in hyper-local news’ (an admittedly disheartening title for those of us in the local news industry). Mr. Garfield says: “The combination of incredible fragmentation, which limits your audience size, and the inexorable downward trajectory of advertising prices, means that nobody, nobody is going to have the critical mass to professionally and profitably deliver news. In my opinion, the future isn’t in hyperlocal per se, as a standalone operation. In my opinion, weirdly, the answer is going to be in consolidation. I believe that in every market, the winner will be the entity, whether it’s a local TV station, a public radio station, a local newspaper, a series of hyperlocal sites banded together, or some parties as yet unthought of, to form strategic relationships for content and for revenue, with other players in that market. And the combination of organizations that get there first, and create revenue streams while simultaneously becoming the central hub for news and information culture, in their communities, they win, they scoop the pot, and everybody else just disappears. Weirdly, paradoxically, this vast, vast fragmentation is going to lead to consolidation, and I believe, in market after market after market, winner takes all.” First, the assumption that advertising prices are in a downward trajectory isn’t entirely true. Banner advertising is certainly in a downward trajectory, as “banner blindness” and poor click-through rates show it to be ineffective advertising. But advertising models that pay off remain quite valuable to businesses. The winner in a news catchment area needs to be offering effective advertising, the kind that reliably and measurably delivers customers.   Second, while Garfield speaks about markets being too fragmented to support hyperlocal news, he also notes that advertising will coalesce around one entity (local TV, public radio, or the local newspaper) that wins all the marbles. In this...

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Why Blogging Writes?

Posted on Jan 30, 2012 in Future of News | 0 comments

When I first conceived of this blog I had intended to write about the remarkable technical work that rocketed, the hyperlocal Manhattan news site, from 0 to 1.2 million visitors/month in about 18 months–something of a record in a town known for the competitiveness of its news outlets. (Here’s a link to an article that gives context for how my alma mater is faring in the battle for New York.) I can’t lay claim to the real driver of DNAinfo’s success–the remarkable editorial quality that made it so popular among New Yorkers. For that I have to credit the editorial staff, especially Leela De Kretser, who now runs the show.  But like a proud father I had “bragging rights” to the technology that enabled that content. After all, while content is king, you can’t leave orbit without a rocket ship. (And while I may mix metaphors on occasion, I do know how to build those web-enabled rocket ships.) Technology almost always serves a greater business purpose. I’ve been a consultant to the Fortune 1000 for many years, and I’ve always told my clients that, before we embark upon a web or mobile project, we first need to look at the business case. We have to make sure we are solving the right problem; too many projects are completed successfully yet without actually making the business more successful. So I decided to turn that business thinking to the newspaper industry, and last year I co-founded iMedia Revenue in order to pursue not just technology, but to solve the real problems faced by struggling newspapers who must learn to think like digital media outlets (or face extinction). Blogging Writes is therefore a business blog, about the news industry, for the news industry. Technology is just one important component. What I propose are largely online (web, mobile, tablet) solutions, so whether you are an online news outlet looking to support yourself with online revenue, or a print newspaper looking to survive in the digital age, you’ll find more than valuable insights in this blog: you’ll find real actionable solutions. In Blogging Writes we’ll look at trends, business drivers, revenue models, and the technologies...

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