Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Digital journalism, media’s new cash cow

New York Times Company's financial report for 2010 shows that total digital revenues increased 15 percent to $387 million in 2010 compared with 2009, and accounted for over 16 percent of overall revenue. SIAKA MOMOH, Industry Editor, relieves his New York experience

Media business is taking a new shape globally. Digital communication is the in-thing now, and media entrepreneurs with foresight are not sleeping.

Good enough, Nigerian print media is imbibing the culture too. Newspapers across the country have online editions that operate side by side with the hard copy versions.

Owners of these media organisations do this in anticipation of the waxing strength of digital communication, especially to conquer the fear that its full emergence would kill the traditional media.

But a note of warning that should go to our traditional media is that they must move from showing superficial concern for the drive towards adopting digital communication to adopting it robustly.

It should not stop at just launching a website for online edition; because there is more to it than this. There is the issue of training back up – capacity building; there is the issue of robustness of content, as well as freshness of content, etc.

This is what obtains outside our shores. The United States is a good example. The New York Times has a full-fledged department for online journalism. It has Tom Torok, project editor, computer-assisted reporting, and Andrew W. Lehren, reporter, of this unit, doing it with panache.

These two, explained the operations of their unit to visiting Citi-Journalistic Excellence Awards 2011 winners with delight.

According to the New York Times financial report for 2010, total digital revenues increased 15 percent to $387 million in 2010 compared with 2009, and accounted for over 16 percent of overall revenue.

The management team continues its focus on diversifying revenue streams and strengthening its digital businesses, using technology and product innovation to enhance the user experience across multiple platforms.

For more than 15 years, the company has been at the forefront of digital newsgathering, and thrived as a dominant brand in journalism with an exceptional global reach. Perfectly positioned to capitalise on these many years of digital leadership, it launched in 2010, a string of acclaimed applications for the web, smartphones and new digital platforms, including Apple iPad apps for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune.

The growth from digital initiatives significantly contributed to its revenue mix and provided meaningful diversification during our transition to an increasingly multi-platform organisation.

The e-reader application business has proven to be a vibrant market where consumers are willing to pay for quality content through an immersive reading experience similar to that of the print newspaper. Today, some of the e-reader platforms that offer the New York Times' content include the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Sony Reader. The Times is generally a best-selling newspaper on these devices.

Christopher Harper, in an article titled 'Journalism in a Digital Age,' quoting Tom Phillips, who oversaw most of Starwave's creations as senior vice president who now heads ABC and Disney's cyberspace news and information operation as saying: "The strength of digital journalism is the ability to integrate various media… This medium does a reasonable job at everything."

Phillips, according to him, sees digital news and information taking away reading time from newspapers and viewing time from television. "We are already expanding the reach of media into the workplace in a way the media were unable to do before," he quoted Phillips as saying.

Harper also cited the Chicago Tribune as an example. "The Chicago Tribune has put together its digital publication. The Tribune is one of the few newspapers in the country that has reporters who work exclusively for the Internet edition. The reporters write stories, take pictures, operate video cameras, and create digital pages.

"The Tribune Internet edition, which debuted in March 1996, contains most of the information from the print version - news, sports, job listings, real estate and automobile advertisements, weather, stocks, and television listings. For its readers, the Internet edition offers in-depth stories, special technology reports, games, discussion groups, and everything someone would ever want to know about the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls. The Internet edition also provides audio interviews and information from the company's radio station, and video from the Tribune's 24-hour-a-day news service, Chicagoland Television."

And talking about advertising revenue generation, Hearst Magazines Digital Media (HDM), a unit of Hearst Magazines, May 3, 2011, announced it is the first third-party publisher to partner with Pictela, a unit of AOL, Inc. (NYSE: AOL), previously known as America Online, and a global platform for distributing high-definition brand content and advertising, to deploy the IAB Portrait ad unit. HDM will leverage this robust, multi-platform ad unit across its vast network of digital properties including cosmopolitan.com, esquire.com, goodhousekeeping.com, marieclaire.com, redbookmag.com and seventeen.com.

Until now, IAB Portrait has been running exclusively on AOL websites, including StyleList, Moviefone and AOL Travel. Launched in September 2010, the IAB Portrait unit has generated unprecedented results.

Engagement levels on IAB Portrait ads are significantly higher than that of industry standard rich media banners: consumers spend an average of 47 seconds more with an IAB Portrait ad (236 percent) lift; they also play 24 seconds more of video (100 percent) lift. At 300X1050 pixels, IAB Portrait integrates the functionality of three applications, granting users' access without leaving the page.

"Pictela has proved to be a highly strategic partner for Hearst, starting when we worked with them last year on the IAB Pushdown units," said Kristine Welker, chief revenue officer, Hearst Digital Media.

"Pictela continues to create high-quality, innovative ad solutions that drive measurable results, and we're thrilled to be the first magazine company to offer these premium ad units.

"Hearst has been a key partner for Pictela for over a year, and is a true innovator in premium formats," said Greg Rogers, CEO, Pictela.

"We're thrilled that Hearst is the first publisher to take the IAB Portrait ad unit," adding, "Hearst aligns very well with our brand advertisers, and we share many of the same clients.

"Hearst is one of the premier publishers in the media industry, and we're delighted to be working with them on premium formats," said Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO, AOL.

"This is a milestone moment for the IAB Portrait ad unit and for AOL. Brand advertisers now have an ad solution that allows them to leverage all their brand assets and really drive incredible consumer engagement. It's a critical step in the aesthetic revolution across the web, providing the best online experiences for users, publishers and advertisers."

Procter & Gamble is running the IAB Portrait ad unit across multiple Hearst brands, including goodhousekeeping.com, marieclaire.com, redbookmag.com and thedailygreen.com. The ad, a part of the company's future-friendly programme that helps consumers save energy, conserve water and reduce waste, shows a gallery of their products including Tide Coldwater, Duracell Rechargeables, Pampers Cruisers and a video entitled Little Acts.

Meaningful impact
Launched in March 2006, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, a unit of Hearst Magazines, is dedicated to creating and implementing the digital strategy for Hearst's magazine brands and other sites, which serve the company's consumer audience.

The unit has launched, re-launched or acquired 24 websites and 11 mobile sites for brands such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and Seventeen, as well as digital-only sites such as Delish.com, a food site in partnership with MSN, TheDailyGreen.com, MisQuinceMag.com, RealBeauty.com, social shopping site Kaboodle.com, and consumer health site RealAge.com.

Hearst Magazines has published more than 70 applications and digital editions for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the Droid platform.

Pictela is a global platform for distributing high definition brand content and advertising. Pictela units support videos, photos, text and applications. Since launching in 2009 with Disney and American Idol, Pictela has experienced rapid growth with clients across Retail, CPG, Automotive, Travel and Entertainment. Its technology has been certified by premium publishers and approved by top social networks. Pictela was acquired by AOL in December 2010.
Capacity building
The digital communication revolution in the US is a total one because capacity building, as important aspect of the drive is being taking of too.

The Columbia Journalism School, University of Columbia, New York, has introduced an innovative dual-degree programme and will be accepting its first students in 2011. It is a Masters' of Science in Computer Science and Journalism.

Students will receive highly specialised training in the digital environment, enabling them to develop technical and editorial skills in all aspects of computer-supported news gathering and digital media production. The goal of the programme is for its graduates to refine and create new news gathering and digital media technologies that will redefine journalism as we know it. Nigerian universities offering journalism courses should take a cue from this. There is urgent need for them to take a second look at course content for Journalism or Mass Communication and make adjustments that will make the course relevant to today's industry needs.

Look at differently, this is an opportunity for entrepreneurial Nigerians to set up schools that will retrain journalists that will make them meet the latest skill demand in the journalism industry.  In these lean times, media houses that have the capacity can make this training need part of their organisation and retrain journalists for the industry. This is another way to increase the earning capacity of their organisation. This is rethinking journalism that calls for the attention of media entrepreneurs.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Friday, June 24, 2011

Opportunity : In-country journalists & researchers needed to help track Global Integrity!

Global Integrity is seeking journalists, researchers, social scientists, attorneys, academics and other experts with a background in governance and corruption issues to begin work on the Global Integrity Report: 2011.

There are different roles for interested contributors. Lead reporters prepare a 1,500 word story about corruption in their country. Lead researchers combine desk research with interviews of key informants to score more than 300 Integrity Indicators assessing their country's anti-corruption mechanisms and institutions. Peer reviewers review the reporter's story and the Integrity Indicators as well as overall country or region highlights.

To learn more about the requirements for working on the Global Integrity Report: 2011, please review the Fact Sheet below. Interested candidates, including those colleagues who have worked with us before, should apply online no later than July 20, 2011 by visitinghttp://apply.globalintegrity.org.  Additional information about Global Integrity is available on our website (http://www.globalintegrity.org). 

The Report is a compilation of in-depth country assessments prepared by local experts that combines quantitative data gathering with qualitative journalistic reporting to produce a powerful "snapshot" of the strengths and weaknesses of national anti-corruption mechanisms. The data is widely used by development experts and aid donors; reform-minded governments; private sector investors; journalists; and advocates to prioritize governance challenges and promote anti-corruption reform efforts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ghana to Host Media briefing on Digital Migration, June 30th, 2011

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Balancing Act with support from the Open Society Institute (OSI) is organizing a briefing session on digital migration on June 30th, 2011.

Media Briefing on digital migration session is aimed at :

o    Providing information of on the issue of digital migration and why it is important

o    Discussing the state of play in Ghana

African countries are committed to migrating to digital broadcasting by June 2015. Africa's digital transition in broadcasting has the potential to improve both the quantity and quality of what is available on TV and to increase the number of people who will be able to watch it. However, it is also a costly process and involves decisions on a range of issues which impact on both the costs and potential benefits of digital transition.

visit http://digmig.apc.org/  for more information

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ghanaian media doing a poor job – GTUC vice president

Ghanaian media practitioners have been challenged to see their roles in new lights; not merely as reflections or mirrors of the society, but as the powerful and desirable tools to drive the nation's development and engineer improved living standards for its people.

If national development and the charge to pressurise leadership to be accountable to the citizenry remained cardinal in the core functions of the media, then they have not done enough because very little has been achieved in these respects.

Dr. Robert Awuah Baffour, Vice President of the 
Ghana Telecom University Collegewho gave the admonition, told participants at a symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of Penplusbytes, that if the status quo is nothing to write home about today, it cannot be expected to serve the nation any better in the future.

Speaking on The Promising future of new media technologies in Africa, Dr. Awuah Baffour said the media cannot afford to shirk its primary responsibility of serving as the mouthpiece of the voiceless and galvanizing the populace into desirable development.

"I don't think the media is doing a good job… Even though we have seen a change in our media platforms, I don't think the media is doing a good job... If you live in Achimota area and you have to drive from somewhere in Tesano going towards Ofankor, no country will allow such nonsense to go on, no country, except Ghana…", he pointed out, in reference to the snail-paced Achimota – Ofankor road reconstruction project that has seen a number of years-in-progress and the danger it exposes commuters to.

He also recalled an incident just last Friday when a DCE he chose not to name, angrily dropped a call while engaged in a discourse live on a radio programme, saying this cannot and must not happen in any sane society. 

Dr. Awuah Baffuor said ideally the media should be on the case of the contractor on the road project as well as the government appointee until they are given the boot, instead, he will not be surprised to hear that this snobbish DCE keeps his job for years to come because that is the society Ghanaians, supported by the media, have decided to build themselves; a nation that rewards insults and nonsense.

"Right now our leaders, they are so happy when they insult people on national TV, when they insult people on radio, when they write bogus articles and blast people. The president of our nation is being insulted at various corners, all the way to even his personal life, even his sexual life people are talking about it. How can a nation think like that? And this is in the media, because now people can call from wherever they are because some of these new media tools like a basic cell phone can allow them to hide under a little corner of a tree and talk nonsense, and we sit down on our radio stations and allow such conversations to go on. 

"So new media or old media, I think it is on the media people to make sure that proper decorum is done, we do the right thing. I know here if you want to become a deputy minister or you want to be a minister in the next administration whether it's going to be in NDC or NPP or CPP or whatever, you need to start blasting people day-in-day-out… That is the kind of system we have in Ghana. I think it's a shame. The media can control this."

He reiterated that leadership in the country and on the continent is not doing much for the people and that the media should stand up and refocus development.

"This country, this continent Africa is not working. Do you think this continent is working? If Africa is a project that started 20/40 years ago, today if you evaluate that project all you can say is the project did what, failed!", he said, his voice reinforced by the concurring voices of his listeners. "So let's forward it to 40 years from now, what do we want to measure? Are we going to say that our kids will say, 'well dad didn't do his job and therefore the project that he started also failed'? No! So we need to move on and change," instead of helping to build a nation that "rewards nonsense".

Dr. Awuah Baffuor said new media platforms, with their interactivity and synchronous ability, have so much potential to better the lot of society and it behoved industry players to employ them to the good of society.

"There are several areas in the health industry that media too can help. Right now if you go back to Kenya, Eastern Africa, Central Africa they are using all kinds of gadgets to help people with their medication, that is new media. You can report on issues new media. If you go to 
Youtube and say oh, there is an epidemic here, people be aware – that is new media - so in terms of the health industry, it is evolving and we in Africa should make sure we take advantage of that. There are several areas in the classroom environment where e-media is happening. In my school that is what we do. Indira Gandhi National Open University
 has a student population of three million, about the size (population) of Accra. Can you imagine every single person in Accra here goes to one school? And they have less than 500 lecturers, how can that happen?...It's online, that is new media for education. Here our mindset and some of the people especially the old folk believe that online education is bad, distance education is bad. That is the same mindset that has killed this country. We need to begin to move forward. If Indira Gandhi can have three million people trained online, Ghana cannot afford to have only three or four percent of our people have access to tertiary education. How can you develop a nation if only four or five percent of the people in the country can go to the university or our polytechnics, how can you move forward? How?."

10 years of PenPlusBytes

The symposium under the general theme of "New Media in Africa – Past, Present and Future", also discussed topics like "New media tools and their contribution towards Africa's development in the 21st century", and the "Evolution of new media technologies in Africa. 

Dr. Kwabena Riverson, Board Chairman of PenPlusBytes, observed that from its early beginnings ten years ago as just an online training institution, Penplusbytes has assumed a world renowned African organization very much interested in advocating the effective use ICTs in newsrooms and advancing the course of journalism.

He said the organization has offered learning opportunities and scholarships for media practitioners, coaching and mentoring of journalists and media organizations in key areas of journalism especially ICT Journalism and providing expert consultancy to Governmental institutions and media houses on online security and other ICT matters.

Dr. Kwabena Riverson also noted a number of key studies, capacity building programmes and projects he said Penplusbytes has successfully conducted, including "the institution's flagship and immensely successful 
African Elections Project," inaugurated in 2008 and has since covered elections in 10 African countries - Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Niger, Botswana and Togo. [You can read a pdf version of Dr. Riverson's address here].
Dr Kwabena Riverson

"The ground breaking African Elections Project has enhanced the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant elections information and knowledge and while at the same time monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance," he said. 

The symposium marked the beginning of Penplusbytes' year-long celebration. Other activities lined up for the anniversary include a New Media boot camp for lecturers and budding journalists, a Pan-African anniversary essay competition for journalists in Africa, specialized training packages for media houses, fun games, research into 10 years of ICT journalism and an anniversary lecture.

Story by Isaac Yeboah/Myjoyonline.com

Friday, June 03, 2011

Call for Proposals on Water and Sanitation from West African Journalists

The Pulitzer Center is seeking four West African journalists to join two international journalists to produce a series of reports on water and sanitation projects in West Africa.  Deadline is June 20, 2011.

Reporting will be published in West African and international news outlets. This collaboration between West African and international journalists will improve the quality of the reporting on water and sanitation and give voice to West African journalists working to communicate the systemic crises affecting their countries to an international news audience.  We aim for this model of collaborative reporting to be a model for future in-depth foreign reporting.

Background: West Africa has among the lowest rate of access to clean water and adequate sanitation in the world.  Aid organizations, international financial institutions and governments have spent millions of dollars on projects throughout the region but the results thus far are mixed.  Of the 600,000-plus hand pumps installed in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years, for example, some 30 percent are known to have failed prematurely; less than one percent of projects have any kind of long-term monitoring.

Grant Description: The Pulitzer Center will award grants to four West African journalists to work with international journalists and Pulitzer Center staff to produce reports on water and sanitation for West African and international news outlets.  A summary video segment will be produced for high-end U.S. broadcast news outlets (PBS NewsHour or similar platforms); work will also be featured on a special Pulitzer Center web platform.

The selected journalists and Pulitzer Center staff will travel to Stockholm, Sweden to attend World Water Week(late August 2011).  There they will attend conference sessions and press briefings, develop a reporting plan for West Africa, and participate in a multimedia training workshop led by Emmy-award winning video journalist, Stephen Sapienza.

In October 2011 the international journalists and Pulitzer Center staff will travel to West Africa to report with the West African journalists in their respective countries.  Expected deliverables for this reporting will be finalized at World Water Week.

All expenses in Stockholm and West Africa will be covered by the Pulitzer Center.

Eligibility: These grants are open to West African journalists, writers, photographers, radio producers or filmmakers; staff journalists as well as free-lancers who live and work in the region (as defined by the UN) and seek to report from their home country on water and sanitation.

Deadline: June 20, 2011. Selected journalists will be announced in early July.

How to Apply: Applications should be submitted to travelgrants [at] pulitzercenter.org with "West Africa Water" in the subject line.  Questions should be directed to Peter Sawyer by email at psawyer [at] pulitzercenter.org or by phone at 1-202-797-5562. Applications must be received in English or French (English preferred).

Applications should include the following:

  • A 250-word statement of interest with plans for reporting on water and sanitation in your country (in the body of the email)
  • Brief description of experience with video, photography, radio and web media (in the body of the email); experience in these media is not a requirement for the grant
  • Two references with contact information with 1-2 sentences describing how each knows you (in the body of the email)
  • A letter from your editor or supervisor that gives permission to participate in World Water Week (August 20-28, 2011) and to travel with the American journalist(s) for one week in October, and that signals a strong commitment to publish or broadcast your work on the topic (as attachment)
  • Three examples of recent reporting (as links or attachments)
  • Curriculum Vitae (as attachment)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


The Revenue Watch Institute are in the second year of an extensive media capacity building programme for suitably qualified journalists from Ghana and Uganda interested in oil and gas reporting. The training programme will begin in August 2011 and run over a period of 6 – 8 months.

There are approximately 14 places available this year – 7 places for Ghanaian journalists and 7 for Ugandan journalists. The Revenue Watch Institute is a non-profit policy institute and grant-making organization that promotes accountable and effective management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the public good. Good governance of oil and gas revenues requires an informed, responsive and dynamic media environment to provide the oversight of the process and help inform the public about the issues. This is therefore the impetus behind our training programme.

The training will be delivered through a partnership of Penplusbytes in Ghana, the African Centre for Media Excellence in Uganda and Thomson Reuters Foundation. Methodology will be a mixture of seminars, interviews and informal 'roundtables', regular mentoring, field trips, workshops and debates with technical experts and journalists from Ghana and Uganda. It will be as interactive as possible and will involve critiquing and supporting the work of other trainees as they produce stories and explore the issues involved in reporting on extractives. In addition there will be travel bursaries for motivated reporters to enable them to build on their professional development in this field and an annual prize for the best reporting.

As this is a competitive process, places will be offered to reporters who make the strongest applications when addressing the information listed below.


1 Provide examples of any stories or mp3's related to extractive industries you have written or broadcast (clearly showing your byline where applicable and date of publication)


2 A short  biography  - no more than 200 words


3 A brief statement explaining how deepening your understanding of oil and gas reporting will contribute to your professional development and that of your media house  (200 words maximum)


4 Write a pitch for a story on extractives you would like to pursue – who would you interview and why, what would be the angle and focus of the story and how this relates to your audience


5 Contact information for your editor – telephone, email, postal and physical address


All applications to be submitted by Friday 17th June 2011

Please email your material to training@penplusbytes.org

For more information email or call Kofi Mangesi kofi@penplusbytes.org 02442868090 or

George Lugalambi : lugalambi@gmail.com

Website : www.revenuewatch.org/ and www.reportingoilandgas.org