Archive for the ‘Newspapers’ Category

Why it’s important to always look past “survey” story headlines

Last Friday, the Toronto Star online ran a story about a new Angus Reid survey titled, “Newspapers among most trusted media, survey finds.” This headline did what it was supposed to do: got my attention. It did so because it suggested a result contrary to the conventional wisdom that newspapers are dying a fast and richly deserved death. However, upon closer inspection, that contrary result is not so clear. Here’s what the Star quoted from the survey:

Among consumers of all ages surveyed, family and friends were the most trusted source of information, at 78 per cent and 68 per cent respectively, followed by radio at 45 per cent, print newspapers at 41 per cent, online news sites at 39 per cent, television at 31 per cent, print magazines at 28 per cent and finally online social networks and blogs, at 13 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, Reid said.

The problem is that the results confuse “sources” like family and friends with “channels” like blogs and social networks. So the survey tells us lots of people trust their family and friends as sources but ignores the fact they use multiple channels – blogs, social networks, face-to-face –  to communicate with them. If the surveyors are confusing channels and sources then chances are good respondents are too and that makes the results questionable. The other thing that makes them questionable is the respondents are paid. The article says, “Vision Critical [who Angus Reid works with] has developed hundreds of “panels” of people willing to participate in multiple surveys, for which they are paid $1 to $4 per survey”. Last time I checked “random” samples weren’t drawn exclusively from people paid to answer questions.

Look closely before you quote surveys or, more importantly, base marketing and communications decisions on them.

ps. There was no link to the actual survey in the article.

Wednesday morning I attended a panel discussion titled News 2.0 – the future of media in a digital world with panelists Kady O’Malley, political blogger;
Andrew Potter, Ottawa Citizen Online Politics Editor and MacLean’s Public Affairs columnist and Christopher Waddell, Director of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communications. The discussion was all about how media, especially newspapers, are – or aren’t – adapting to the rise of the internet.

There was a good amount of talk about how some newspapers are doing to die but the irony is the format of the panel itself was a key example of one reason why.

The presentation, put on by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), cost $35 for non-members and featured five minute panelist remarks followed by a question and answer session. That seems OK but when I asked if I could record and podcast the session the IPAC host told me she’d have to ask the IPAC chapter board members that were there. She did and then told me they had refused.

This is an example of the kind of behaviour that will kill all newspapers that keep doing it: hoarding and selling information via old models instead of sharing information and finding new ways to make money.

Telling was that in the question and answer period I asked the panelists if they heard of the UK’s Guardian newspaper releasing all their content for free via an API. The idea is to spread the content everywhere for free and make money by eventually requiring developers to carry ads from a future Guardian ad network. It’s kind of Googleizing the news. Brilliant.

None of the panelists said they had heard of this. It seems owners of Canada’s major newspapers haven’t either.

ps. The Guardian also launched a $3.99 iPhone app in December 2009.

I first heard the term freemium in a talk by Gary Vaynerchuk of the very successful Wine Library TV. The concept is simple: give away some stuff for free and sell premium stuff. It’s what Wired editor Chris Anderson’s upcoming book Free is all about. Vaynerchuk does it by offering great wine advice in his videocast for free and selling wine.

This week I heard about two more very different freemium examples. The Guardian newspaper, always on the cutting edge of great thought, is now also on the freemium cutting edge. The paper recently announced it’s making all its content available for free via a system similar to the iPhone in terms of letting people create applications using Guardian content. For example, someone could create an application that takes all the Guardian stories on international crime and mashes them up with Google Maps to create a map of international crime centres. The money part is the Guardian will eventually require people to carry ads from the Guardian’s adverstising clients. It’s a brilliant way to spread the Guardian’s content far and wide – and keep monetizing it.

The other example is the mashup music artist Girl Talk who I wrote about in a recent post about the movie Rip: A Remix Manifesto. Like the innovative British band, Radiohead, Girl Talk’s album is available for download off Girl Talk’s MySpace page – for as much as you want to pay. The freemium is that if you pay a little more you get a little more.  Any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality mp3s, $5 or more adds the options of FLAC files , plus a one-file seamless mix of the album and $10 or more includes all of the above plus a packaged CD when available.

Freemiums are the future. Will you or your competitors get there first?


Attended another great Third Tuesday Ottawa event tonight with Globe and Mail reporter Mathew Ingram talking about what the Globe is doing with social media. Here’s the blurb from the Third Tuesday site:

The Globe recently appointed Mathew as their “communities manager.” He is well qualified for this position, having established himself as one of Canada’s most respected and widely followed technology bloggers and reporters.

Since he took over as community manager, the Globe has engaged in high profile social media experiments – most notably using CoverItLive for live coverage of a subway shooting in Toronto, the Canadian budget and the visit to Ottawa of President Obama; the establishment of a public policy Wiki; and encouraging other Globe reporters to make it personal by using Twitter.

Some highlights:

  • 85% of the Globe’s revenue is still from the print version
  • the Globe online got 10,000 comments/day during election
  • the Globe is changing its business while still doing it and the challenge is how to change the business without destroying what got you where you are
  • the fact that the Globe’s policy wiki is so serious/boring has kept vandals away from it out of lack of interest

Mathew Ingram – Social Media at the Globe and Mail

Presentation (click the player below)

Q&A (click here)

Enjoy the conversation.