Rich Julius: Blogging Writes

On the Digital Future of Content

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Newsroom Software: WordPress and Other Open Source Options

Posted on Apr 23, 2012 in Technology & Analytics | 0 comments

Some publishers, including thought leaders like John Paton, have cited the potential of using Open Source software to develop low-cost digital newsrooms. In the blog of the Journal Register’s Ben Franklin Project, they write: “we will be using only free web-based tools” and they then deliver a catalogue of such tools. T. S. Eliot, when speaking of the “Free Verse” movement, wrote “No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job.” In Silicon Valley there has long been a similar saying that “Free Software is never really free.” The issue at hand is what business and finance folks call TCO: Total Cost of Ownership. TCO is the measure of the true cost of a system, including acquisition, customization, support, maintenance, training, and several other cost factors. Open Source software is also known as Free Software, as in the Free Software Foundation, the non-profit body that supports the Open Source movement and who wrote the most common Open Source license, the General Public License or GPL. But “free” refers to the freedom to use and distribute the software; it does not actually refer to price. “The word free in the term free software refers to freedom (liberty) and is not at all related to monetary cost.” ( For newsrooms, “free” Open Source software may well be the most expensive option available. Now, before I get too deep into the issues with Open Source newsrooms, I want to go on record as saying that I am a proponent of Open Source software myself. I love WordPress, and all its fun plug-ins (look, I am blogging in it right now). My company’s web site runs on WordPress and our cloud-based newsroom software runs on the free Open Source Linux/MySQL platform. I am among other things, a tech geek with a team of open source developers. I even write code myself, when the developers aren’t looking. I can afford to use Open Source. But most small newsrooms (and a lot of larger ones) do not have the technical depth to use Open Source, software, and if they do, that technical depth is part of the cost of an...

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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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