Rich Julius: Blogging Writes

On the Digital Future of Content

Navigation Menu

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Copyright © 2011-2015 Rich Julius · All Rights Reserved · Blogging Writes · Google+