Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources

Interesting Pew study on the trends in news consumption… I would add my own commentary to this but it would basically be a rehash of other posts I have written over the years. Yeah, people are changing their behaviors as a result of the web, that much is obvious.

Actually, I will add one comment to a tidbit that is in this study. They found that social networks are not “newsy” and I fully agree with that after watching the results of NewsGator’s Facebook app that launched late last year. While we can always find fault with the tactics that lead to dismal results, there was one other factor that is unavoidable, which is that people are not using Facebook and social networks more broadly to consume traditional content. It may be generational but it may also be related to the user experience that prioritizes soundbites over full text.

A sizable minority of Americans find themselves at the intersection of these two long-standing trends in news consumption. Integrators, who get the news from both traditional sources and the internet, are a more engaged, sophisticated and demographically sought-after audience segment than those who mostly rely on traditional news sources. Integrators share some characteristics with a smaller, younger, more internet savvy audience segment – Net-Newsers – who principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources. (For a complete description of how the news audience segments are classified, see pg. 45.)

[From Overview: Key News Audiences Now Blend Online and Traditional Sources]

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Corporate Income Taxes – Gross Stupidity at the NY Times

A few days ago I wrote about that stupid GAO study that attempted to highlight corporate evasion of federal income taxes. The reason the study is stupid is because it goes for a cheap headline rather than objectively presenting a very complex topic and then looking at it from a competitive standpoint.

Furthermore, the study attempts statistical gymnastics by calculating the impact of pass through entities, such as S corps who don’t pay corporate income tax but rather tax on profits through the owners (all profits are converted to dividends annually) but then not including them in the results. The study is confusing to say the least but for journalists and editors looking for a quick hit headline it provided red meat.

In a stunning display of incompetence, the NYTimes tried their hand at mathematics and suggested that $875 billion in taxes are being skirted by those evil corporations. How could they calculate tax liabilities when financial data is available only for public corporations, a small slice of American businesses? Well the geniuses at the business desk, who apparently have never actually been involved in a business, assumed that businesses are required to pay taxes on revenue rather than income! Yeah, they took the 35% tax rate and multiplied it against the $2.5 trillion in gross receipts reported by the study.

By the NY Times business desk calculations, the NY Times Company should be paying income taxes on against $3.1 billion in revenue instead of $38 million in earnings… $1.22 billion in taxes instead of the $20 million they actually paid.

Yesterday the NY Times not only issued a correction but in a rather uncommon move they revised the original article, which indicates not only the severity of the error but the NYT’s embarrassment that it ran in the first place.

An article on Wednesday about a Government Accountability Office study reporting on the percentage of corporations that paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005 gave an incorrect figure for the estimated tax liability of the 1.3 million companies covered by the study. It is not $875 billion. The correct amount cannot be calculated because it would be based on the companies’ paying the standard rate of 35 percent on their net income, a figure that is not available. (The incorrect figure of $875 billion was based on the companies’ paying the standard rate on their $2.5 trillion in gross sales.)

[From Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax - NYTimes.com]

When it comes to foreign affairs and military reporting, American journalism simply sucks because the practitioners have limited actual experience with these matters, now we can add business and economics to the mix. The only thing that is more embarrassing than reporting like the above is that the broader American public demands little more from major media, but it is worth pointing out that Americans are flocking to alternative reporting sources so maybe they are demanding not by protest but through their attention!

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NewsGator and AFP Olympics Widgets, Guaranteed CPM

NewsGator and AFP have teamed up to offer a collection of widgets featuring their premium content covering the upcoming Beijing Olympics. These widgets are squarely targeted at media sites and popular blogs, and as part of this program we are guaranteeing a CPM to any approved site that runs the widgets on their site. Here’s a link to the press release we put out this am.

Why is this important? For us it’s significant because it shifts our business model from being purely a hosted service provider to a syndication network. Widgets have many use cases, a vehicle for brands to reach consumers is just one while what we predominately do, enable content owners and distributors to syndicate their content is another. This Olympics feature program is a perfect adaptation of several trends in widgets, including premium content syndication, display ad monetization, and mid-tier distribution site targeting.

We are making it drop dead easy for a premium service like AFP to expand their reach beyond their current clients and top tier media sites to the long tail. Blogs and small/medium traffic websites offer a terrific syndication opportunity for AFP but the cost of reaching these sites with their traditional mechanisms is punitive. What NewsGator’s widget services offers AFP is the ability to quickly and easily reach this long tail with a self service model and a monetization scheme that correlates to the channel.

Speaking of monetization, our ad network partner is Advertising.com, a premium online ad network by any definition. This is one reason why we have a qualification program around this, because advertisers really care about where their ads are showing up so we have to have a process to ensure that these widgets are being placed on sites that are topic and audience appropriate. What this means is that we have some qualification guidelines to be met in order to participate in the guaranteed revenue part of the program, there is nothing here that restricts anyone or any site from picking up these widgets and running them.

If your site is part of the revenue side of the program we are offering a co-branding opportunity. We have designed the creative for these widgets with a replacement logo placeholder that we can use to co-brand these widgets with your branding. This is appropriate for the kind of sites we envision running them and it’s a great way for small/mid tier sites to extend their own brands.

Lastly, I want to emphasize a couple of final thoughts. First and foremost, we are not changing our business at all, we are expanding it on top of the hosted widget service we have been successfully selling to publishers. Widgets are becoming a more complex business as they grow up, we intend to lead that by innovating the service offerings we are making available and bringing traditional media companies with us as their partner. AFP is a world class news agency who deserve a lot of credit for trying something new as a means of reaching new audience and satisfying the demands of online new media.

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ReadWriteWeb Turns 5

Congratulations to the entire RWW team, they collectively author one of the best new media sites covering technology. Sean Ammirati was over to our house for dinner on Saturday night and we were talking about the evolution of blogs to fully featured new media sites, RWW being a great example of this.

What is interesting is how the professional blogs have evolved into full featured media sites while also developing personalities that differentiate them from competitive sites. Take RWW, GigaOm, and TechCrunch as 3 very good examples of well differentiated sites that deliver not just the latest news but in their own unique way substantive coverage of the bigger trends that impact our business. I have come to really appreciate RWW’s approach, which is more essay driven than drive by, less breaking news and more what does the news mean.

I’m tempted to say that we are witnessing a rebirthing of media but the fact remains that new media is a lot like old media in terms of business model, new media is just a lot more efficient.

On 20 April, 2003, ReadWriteWeb was born. My first post here was appropriately entitled The Read/Write Web and it began: “The World Wide Web in 2003 is beginning to fulfil the hopes that Tim Berners-Lee had for it over 10 years ago when he created it.” At the time I started ReadWriteWeb, web 2.0 hadn’t yet been invented, Google Adsense hadn’t launched (it would do so in June ’03), Internet Explorer had 94% of the browser market share (followed by Netscape with 2%), the top blogs of the day according to Technorati were Slashdot (listed as number 1) and Where is Raed ? (a weblog from Baghdad; it closed in 2004). And 5 years ago, there was no money in blogging.

[From ReadWriteWeb Turns 5 - ReadWriteWeb]

Anger Management

Apparently there are a lot of angry journalists… if this were the 1980′s this site would be called angrysteelworker.com and in the 1990′s, angrytextilefactoryworker.com.

AngryJournalist.com is for the underpaid, overworked, frustrated, pissed off and ignored media professionals to publicly and anonymously vent their anger. Share your story. With any luck, you’ll feel better.

[From AngryJournalist.com - Why are you angry today?]

Business, and journalism is a business, constantly changes at the hand of technology, economics, and consumer behaviors, it is what it is. It’s hard for me to by sympathetic because many of the wounds are self-inflicted, I remember a cocktail party I attended around 1995 where a group of people I was talking with worked at a local television station in their news room. I asked what they thought the effect of the Web would be in how they used technology.

They literally laughed it off, scoffing that the Internet would never be a mainstream news distribution vehicle and it wasn’t likely to change the way they worked either. I had a fascination with the web at that time but no inkling as to it’s potential impact, so I asked the question more out of curiosity than any preconceived notion looking for validation. It’s funny the things you remember vividly after so many years, but perhaps I do because this group of local news pros were actually quite young, all in their mid-20′s at the time.

The history of journalism and technology is being written every day and while it’s likely that this period of time will be recalled for tremendous turmoil, it’s also likely that it can be written as a time when new brands emerged and growth returned. The good ‘ol days, were they ever so, ain’t coming back, that much is clear.