Coupons: digital or print?

In Jeff Jarvis’s blog, BuzzMachine, he talks about newspaper coupons being next in line to come to an end. He said that some papers only stay in print solely to distribute coupons and circulars. But the influx of coupons and bargains being delivered digitally could put an end to free-standing inserts in print newspapers.

He outlines the benefits for advisers to use digital coupons and circulars even though their main problem is portability:

“The value of that redemption is greater for the advertiser because (a) it may cost them nothing — no need to use media as a middleman if I receive deals directly and (b) the advertiser will know a lot more about me; that data itself is terribly valuable and (c) this allows the advertiser to target with far greater relevance, which (d) is better for us customers.”

He said that in many cases, people are buying the print edition more for the coupons than the news. Once this happens, manufacturers will need to find new alternatives. Also, he says that once the advertising postal rates rise, advertisers will be further motivated to turn to the digital world.

His discussion makes me wonder if more papers will start to transfer their coupons and FSI to their Web sites. I know the Miami Herald has coupons, deals, inserts and print ads on their site, and I think it’s just a matter of time until others follow suit.

Audio clip exercise

This is a clip of some student interviews. Click to play.

More text here.

Should investigative reporting be premium paid content?

Journalist Steve Outing discusses investigative reporting being premium paid content on his site.  MediaNews Group will be implementing a metered paywall at a few of its newspapers within a few months. He calls the strategy of MediaNews Group “disturbing.”

“The newspapers, in York, Pennsylvania, and Chico, California, will give users free access to as many as 25 ‘premium’ articles monthly, after which they’ll have to pay an undetermined fee unless they subscribe to the print newspapers,”  said MediaNews President Joseph Lodovic. “Premium content may include certain columns and investigative reporting,” he said.

Outing believes that investigative reporting should not be included in the premium content even though he considers it premium content. Instead, it should be free to users for the betterment of the community. He says investigative journalism is the most important kind of journalism for many newspapers.

“How about if newspaper publishers decide to go with web paywalls (not my idea of a good strategy), they at least exempt investigative journalism in the interests of an informed citizenry?” asks Outing.

I agree with Outing. I think it’s understandable for papers wanting and needing to charge for certain content. But making users pay for investigative journalism seems unethical. Outing gives an example of a paper uncovering private contractors who are dumping waste into a lake where most of the city’s water comes from.  Findings like that should be free to users.

Journalist’s Online Identity

In a blog post on contentious.com, Amy Gahran, an editor and media consultant, discusses how employee’s Internet presence is being limited and why she thinks that is a bad idea. She talks about how Forrester Research, a technology and market research company, created a new policy. With the new policy, analysts can’t have their own personal blogs. Management is referring to “personally-branded blogs where the analyst comments on issues related to their research coverage or technology markets.” Basically, this means that employees are allowed to have personal blogs as long as they don’t discuss work-related topics.

Gahran writes that this is the equivalent of saying “If you work for us, we reserve the right to own your brain and your social/professional network and reputation.” Although this is a research company, she talks about journalist’s Internet and blog use sometimes being limited.  She says some news organizations don’t allow employees to have blogs or limit what content can be posted on them.

She says, “In the journalism world they claim this is to ‘preserve objectivity’ (as if objectivity ever existed, or as if transparency doesn’t promote credibility more effectively). I agree that the benefits of journalists working for orgs probably outweigh the disadvantages. Not only can blogging expand your audience, it can connect you to readers.

Gahran goes on to say that with the state of journalism, it’s crucial to build a personal online brand and presence to help secure a future for yourself. In one of her older posts, she compares having a blog to being “media career insurance.” I think she makes a strong argument that no employer should be allowed to completely dictate your online identity.

Florida’s Most Wanted Mapping Practice

Social Networking in the Media

Social Networking

In Becky Jackson’s blog, she discusses the use of social networking sites in the media. THV Insider’s article on social networking sites and news gathering talks about the rapid spread of Facebook and Twitter.

I like the Hillary Clinton  quote that Jackson pulls from the article: “I wouldn’t know a twitter from a tweeter,” says Clinton. “But apparently it is very important and I think keeping that line of communications open and allowing people to share information is an important expression of the right to speak out and to be able to organize that we value.”

THV uses both Twitter and Facebook to connect and reach out to viewers.  Jackson also discusses how on a less journalistic scale  E!, the entertainment network, uses Twitter.  I’ve known that E! uses Twitter for awhile now since  the network makes  certain that viewers know they Tweet regularly.

Facebook and MySpace

In her blog, Shahdai Richardson summarized and analyzed “Facebook Journalism,” a Huffingtonpost.com article by Rory O’ Connor. The article is an interview with Randi Zuckerberg, who is involved with Facebook’s creative marketing. Richardson highlights important points made in the interview. She said that Facebook users are more trusting of content recommended by friends and use the site to filter available news content.

Zuckerberg said, “In my discussions with many mainstream media companies, I constantly hear them talk about why they are squeamish about posting their content on other sites – their content is their lifeblood, it’s all they have… why would they give it away for free on other sites?”

She makes a valid point, but I think the benefits of using sites like Facebook and MySpace to acquire news still outweigh the disadvantages. Even if my articles were being read free of charge, they’re still being read. And I could easily and quickly share my work with many more people by uploading it to these sites.

The other article that Richardson discusses is “Found in (My)Space,” an American Journalism Review article by Jason Spencer.

Richardson said that Spencer sees MySpace as a valuable tool and resource for journalists. The demographics of the site, possibility of story tips, gaining insight and verifying information all make MySpace a very relevant tool. It would be interesting to see how popular the site still is since it seems as if many people have moved on to Facebook.

Richardson provides CNN’s profile page on Facebook as her example of Facebook journalism. Personally, I’m a little surprised that the page doesn’t have more fans, but I agree with Richardson that CNN has been a strong leader in using social networking sites in journalism.

Twitter and Text Messages

Jennifer Rios discusses the use of Twittering and texting in the world of journalism in her blog. Her first article is from Mindy McAdams, who teaches online journalism. Along with many of McAdams’ students, Rios said she really doesn’t get Twitter. I’d have to agree, but then again I didn’t get Facebook’s appeal until last semester when I finally caved and signed up. I do see how Twitter can be a useful tool for journalists, especially broadcasters and columnists. As an aspiring copy editor, I’m not sure I’m set on the idea for myself yet.

McAdams challenges her students to consider asking one question when using Twitter: “Do you even know why you’re doing what you’re doing?”

Rios also said journalists should ask themselves, “What will you Tweet for?”

Next, she discusses a blog post by Lauren Rabaino called “Mobile news alerts: an underused tool.” Text messaging is another valuable tool used by journalists since many people read texts the moment they receive them. Rabaino uses Barack Obama’s campaign as her proof that texts can be effective since some people attribute his success to his accessibility.

Blogging

Kayla Smith writes in her own blog about how and if blogging is really journalism. One article from savethemedia.com, asks this same question. Both Smith and the article’s author seem to be in agreement that blogging is not necessarily always journalism. I think Smith makes a valid point that anyone can be a blogger, but not everyone can be a journalist. I, for one, had my own blog way back when and would never consider it journalistic. Heck, I’d probably be embarrassed if anyone actually read my ninth grade thoughts.

Her second article, an essay by a journalism blogger, talks about how it may be hard for journalists to adapt to bloggers and citizen journalists. I hope these journalists learn to adjust to this new type of media because it can be a good thing. Like the other types of social networking, blogs can connect journalists to their audiences.

I like the editorsweblog.org article that Smith includes. The article talks about a new paper in London that includes only content from blogs. Although if all papers turned into that, there would be no need for editors.

Readers Comments/Bulletin Boards

Jillian Krotki blogs about journalists using reader comments and bulletin boards online. Like Krotki, I think it’s a good idea for news organizations to embrace reader and user comments. Not only does it allow users to participate, comments can be a help to the media, as well. Like her, I never gave much thought to the possible libel and defamation that could occur as a result.

The first article she discusses is from out-law.com, and it acknowledges that media sites have a greater risk of bearing responsibility for the comments if it allows them.

Krotki provides a good example of a news site that uses reader comments effectively. NBC 15 in Wisconsin requires users to provide their name, city, e-mail address and phone number, so members of the news organization can contact viewers and have further conversations with them.

I agree with Krotki’s opinion on the site’s policy. She said, “I feel that NBC has done a great job including their viewers while still maintaining control over libelous and defamatory content.”

YouTube as delivery

Top social media innovation of the decade

In December 2009, Mashable, a blog focused on social media news and Web 2.0, crowned YouTube as the top social media innovation of the decade.  Although the site didn’t debut until 2005, the folks at Mashable think YouTube can withstand the test of time even after the rapid rise in popularity of other social media services like Facebook and Twitter.

Labeling the site a “perfect storm” of Flash advances, increasing bandwidth and social networking sites, YouTube became one of the most trafficked sites on the Web after 18 months. “YouTube’s biggest threat right now is in fact the old media companies, who are putting content online under their own brands. YouTube’s ‘professional’ content selection remains relatively weak, but that’s likely to change, and as soon as 2010,” Mashable bloggers wrote.

Can YouTube revolutionize citizen journalism?

This is the question asked by Julia Boorstin, a CNBC correspondent, in her November 2009 blog post. She discusses YouTube Direct, which allows news sites to embed the upload function of YouTube, letting users easily submit their own videos. YouTube Direct’s partner content sites, such as The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, get access to more content, video clips and player customization.

She calls YouTube an ally to news organizations but wonders how many professional journalists will lose work or even jobs: “The people, who really lose out, are professional journalists,” Boorstin writes. “Citizen journalism is a fine supplement to professional coverage, but as a professional journalist I can’t help but point out that it’s no replacement.”

How can professional journalists remain at the top of their game?

A September 2009 blog post by Mashable’s Leah Betancourt outlines the journalist’s guide to YouTube. She writes that 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That fact seems almost mind boggling to think about.

She divides the news videos on the site into three categories: current news rebroadcasts; original video and news; and archive of older video content. Traffic to YouTube’s News and Politics category has grown to more than 650 percent over the last two years, according to Betancourt.

“We internally track the most interesting videos in the News and Politics space,” said Steve Grove, head of News and Politics at YouTube. “It’s kind of our editorial voice.”

Locally, YouTube’s News Near You section of its News page displays current video clips to users based on their IP address. Stacey Woelfel, chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, said News Near You could be successful depending on how YouTube defines “news.”

“Will it really be news, or will it be videobloggers spewing opinion? That’s not news,” he said. “Also, just how many mainstream news organizations participate will also dictate quality. I can’t see it as an ultimately complete source of local news, but I can see it as a nice supplement.”

Including user-submitted content and archiving older videos are other ways news organizations can effectively use YouTube.

Example of YouTube used by journalists

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend more time watching popular but pointless viral videos on YouTube than actual news videos. But YouTube has rightly made its mark in providing breaking news stories and videos to users in what was once considered an unconventional way.

While it’s hard to choose just one example of YouTube being utilized in journalism, I think one of the more interesting examples is from 2007 when  CNN teamed up with YouTube for the Republican and Democratic Primary debates. Users submitted videos asking questions or uploaded video responses to other people’s questions.

Candidates were asked selected YouTube-submitted questions. Questions ranged from anything to who was their favorite teacher in school to how do they address being “black enough” or “woman enough.”

Not only did the participants probably feel like journalists for a day, but I’m sure they also felt like they were a part of a little piece of history.