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.

http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/entrepreneur/entrepreneur-news/23647-digital-journalism-medias-new-cash-cow
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International Institute for ICT Journalism
www.penplusbytes.org

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