The New York Times and Snapchat: All the Media that fit?

The New York Times has had perhaps the greatest success of any traditional top-tier newspaper in moving toward being able to sustain its business based primarily on its online presence. And it keeps exploring new channels that may be part of the new revenue mix. The Times has been on Snapchat for the past two years. In April, it joined Snapchat Discover.

NY Times animated GIF of Travis Kalanick

Travis Kalanick

Kudos for the Times for experimenting. But it’s hard to see how Snapchat Discover matches the nature of the Times content. Take an early Discover article as an example. On Sunday April 23, the Times ran a major feature on Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The version of the Times Website clocked in as just under 4,000 words.  The next morning, the Times launched its Snapchat Discover channel with the Kalanick story. And what a difference! The Snapchat version contained an animated GIF and three text panels containing under 160 words. That’s right. 4,000 words on the Times site. Less than 160 on Snapchat.

It strikes me that this is one channel that may prove a dead end for the Times. It is arguable that the in-depth reporting that leads to a 4,000 word story is the essence of the Times attraction and the reason that it is thriving in the era of alternative facts. Boiling that down into 160 words is little more than a tease, the equivalent of publishing the headline and a quote. And that’s not what the New York Times is.

Of course, their thinking may be that every revenue stream makes a contribution. And I can’t argue against that. Every content marketer knows the effectiveness of repurposing content for multiple channels.

On the other hand, if the thinking is that Snapchat Discover will provide an on-ramp for a new generation to discover the value of the full NY Times, I’m skeptical. I just don’t think that people who come to the content in a flow of brief video clips and 160 word stories anchored in the zeitgeist of celebrity culture are likely to convert into subscribers to the Times flagship property. It’s  a different medium that it does not translate well.

Of course, time will tell. So, it will be worth checking back in on this experience every quarter until the Times declares its success or reassesses the effort.

Martin Waxman and I discussed the New York Times on Snapchat, along with several other topics on the Inside PR Podcast episode 472. So, if you’re interested in hearing our discussion, click over to the Inside PR podcast blog or subscribe on iTunes.

RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app

As of this week, this

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has been replaced by this

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Another legacy media attempt to attract audiences and advertisers in the digital-first era bit the dust this week. When I opened the iPad app for The Citizen, my local newspaper and the only major daily newspaper in Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, I was confronted by the news that the Citizen’s iPad app was no more. Launched with great hope and only a year ago, the Citizen’s attempt to make itself “appointment reading” has failed.

It was beautiful. It was big. It was interesting. It was doomed.

Perhaps its failure was partially linked to the plateauing in tablet use – in a world of larger smartphones. Maybe its failure was the app’s adoption of a “magazine format” – in a world that is not big on contemplation. But I think the app was doomed from the outset by its 6PM daily publication schedule – in a world in which we consume our news in realtime as it happens.

They didn’t succeed this time. But I hope they have the financial strength and vision to keep innovating.

It’s not news that legacy news outlets – newspapers, magazines, television and radio – continue to struggle to find economic equilibrium in the digital-first world. Every time they lose, we all lose. When we turn first to Facebook in the morning instead of our local newspaper or television newscast, we hand ourselves over to the viral, not necessarily the important.

RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app. A bold experiment. A noble failure.

And so that it doesn’t disappear unremarked, here are some screen caps from the last few days of the Citizen’s iPad app.

IMG_0061 IMG_0062 IMG_0064 IMG_0065 IMG_0073 IMG_0075 IMG_0076

 

What ethical standards should we expect of journalists?

When you open your morning newspaper or turn on the evening television news, do you expect to receive independent and impartial reporting on events from newspeople free of unacknowledged biases? Well, if you live in Canada,  you may have to reset that expectation.

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This basic assumption of conflict-free news media has been called into question by reports that CBC news anchor Peter Manbridge and on-air columnist Rex Murphy have benefited from paid speaking engagements with organizations they cover in the news. According to the reports, both Murphy and Mansbridge have accepted paid speaking engagements from Canada’s oil industry. And neither Manbridge nor Murphy disclosed this when moderating or participating in discussions of energy policy, the oil sands development or the oil industry.

This story emerged from the reporting of a handful of bloggers and online news sources – most notably Jesse Brown and Andrew Mitrovica.  Mitrovica raised questions about Rex Murphy’s relationship with the oil industry in a story on ipolitics.ca. Jesse Brown picked it up on his Canadaland podcast and Canadaland blog.

Remarkably, CBC attempted to stonewall the issue. Initially, they refused to answer substantial questions about Murphy’s actions. When pressed over a couple weeks, they published aggressive counter arguments in blog posts by Jennifer McGuire, editor in chief of CBC news, and Peter Mansbridge himself. Rex Murphy took to his column in the National Post to print a rebuttal.

Then, on March 12, the CBC’s Ombudsman Esther Enkin presaged a dramatic shift in the standards of acceptable behaviour in her review of the situation. While finding that both Murphy and Mansbridge were onside with the CBC’s policies, Enkin challenged the policy itself. She stated,

Whether there is a real or only an apparent conflict of interest, in matters of journalistic integrity it amounts to the same thing….  since taking money leads to a perception of a conflict of interest, CBC management might want to consider, in the review they are undertaking, whether even with disclosure, it is appropriate for CBC news and current affairs staff to get paid for their speaking engagements. … At the least, management should think about the appearance of getting paid by interest groups who are likely to feature prominently in the news, or who are involved in public policy debates.

and concluded,

Given that Journalistic Standards and Practices spells out a commitment to independence, and the Conflict of Interest guidelines encompass perception of conflict as well, it is inconsistent with policy when CBC news and current affairs staff accept payment from groups that are likely to be in the news. To summarize, in the course of reviewing its policy, I hope CBC management will reconsider the practice of paid speaking engagements for its journalists and, at a minimum, consider how any relevant activity and payment can be on the public record.

Now, the ball is in CBC management’s court. Jennifer McGuire has indicated that the results of an internal policy review will be forthcoming soon. In light of the Ombudsman’s review, it’s hard to imagine how this new policy could maintain the status quo.

Discuss these issues with Jesse Brown at Third Tuesday

This affair raises a number of questions applying to all news media – both traditional and new online and social operations. Questions worth discussing at length.

Jesse Brown

And that’s just what we’re going to do at the next Third Tuesday. Jesse Brown will be our speaker at the March Third Tuesday Toronto and Third Tuesday Ottawa. Jesse will take us through the issues and the questions raised. Questions like:

  • Is it reasonable to believe that a journalist can be influenced or biased because he or she accepts payment from companies or organizations for services provided outside of the journalist’s main occupation?
  • How much transparency about outside financial payments to journalists is sufficient? How much is realistic and possible?
  • In a freelance economy, should we expect the same degree of disclosure from freelance journalists who must earn their living from a variety of sources?
  • Should news organizations enforce an outright ban on their journalists accepting payment from other sources or is disclosure of such payments sufficient?
  • What is the responsibility of the news organization to define standards for their journalists and what is the responsibility of the journalist as an individual?
  • Should a national broadcaster paid for by public funds be held to a higher standard of transparency than a private news organization?
  • What can we do when media outlets are slow to cover an issue in which they are directly involved?

We will talk about these issues and more when Jesse Brown joins us at Third Tuesday. If you’re interested in attending, register online for Third Tuesday Toronto or Third Tuesday Ottawa.

Learn more about this important issue

This is an important issue. And as such, I encourage you to read these original sources.

Rex Murphy and big oil: friends with benefits?, Press Progress

Rex Murphy energy speech in Alberta, November 2013, Youtube user Gazzornenplat

Rex Murphy, the oilsands and the cone of silence, Andrew Mitravica

A Question of ConflictJennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News

Rex Murphy is paid by the oilsands and the CBC won’t disclose or discuss it, Jesse Brown

Speaking my mind, no matter the issue, Rex Murphy

Jonathan Kay defends Rex Murphy, Jesse Brown

CBC reviews Rex Murphy oil conference speech but ignored when Peter Mansbridge did his, Dean Skoreyko

The CBC responds to my complaint about Rex Murphy, Lorne Warwick

Peter Mansbridge Was Paid By Oil and Gas Lobby For Speech, Michael Bolen

Oilsands Group Confirms Paying Peter Mansbridge, Jesse Brown, Canadaland

Speaking of Speeches…, Peter Mansbridge

Peter Mansbridge receives speaking fees from oil industry group, CBC As It Happens

Debating the ethics of journalists & paid speaking engagements, CBC The Current

Q Media Panel on Maidan, Murphy and Mansbridge, CBC Q

The CBC Won’t Talk to CBC Radio About Mansbridge’s Speaking Fees, The Huffington Post Canada

You’ve Still Got Some Explaining to Do Mr. Mansbridge, Andrew Mitrovica

What Peter Mansbridge’s CAPP Speaking Fee Says About His News Judgment, Dan Rowe

Covering Climate Change, Jennifer McGuire

CBCecrets: Mansbridge’s Oil Pay Makes the News, Jesse Brown

Review findings re Conflict of Interest, Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

CBC Policy on Conflict of Interest and Journalists, CBC

CBC Ombudsman Questions Peter Mansbridge’s Speaking Fees, Canadian Press

You Can’t Have the Cash and Keep the Credibility, Andrew Mitrovica

CBC Should Banish Paid Speeches, Frank Koller

Thank you to our sponsors

Third Tuesday is supported by great sponsors – Cision Canada and Rogers Communications – who believe in our community and help us to bring speakers to our community. Without the sponsors we couldn’t make Third Tuesday a truly Canadian affair. So, thank you to the sponsors of the Third Tuesday 2012-13 season: Cision Canada and Rogers Communications.

We want students to be able to attend

Third Tuesday is a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments in social media and to network with business and thought leaders. And we don’t want students to miss out on this opportunity. So, if you are a student and would like to attend, don’t let the admission fee stop you. Simply present your student ID card at the time you sign into Third Tuesday and we’ll refund your admission fee, courtesy of Thornley Fallis.

Pew research report shows the impact of YouTube on video news

The explosion of video content on social media isn’t just having an impact on how and where we find entertainment. It also is having a dramatic impact on how video news is made and consumed.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted an analysis of news videos on YouTube over the 15 month period from January 2011 to March 2012. And they uncovered evidence confirming that a significant shift is underway.

A complex, symbiotic relationship between citizens and news organizations

“Worldwide YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news,” Pew asserts. “In 2011 and early 2012, the most searched term of the month on YouTube was a news related event five out of 15 months, according to the company’s internal data.”

“A complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic “dialogue” many observers predicted would become the new journalism online. Citizens are creating their own videos about news and posting them. They are also actively sharing news videos produced by journalism professionals. And news organizations are taking advantage of citizen content and incorporating it into their journalism. Consumers, in turn, seem to be embracing the interplay in what they watch and share, creating a new kind of television news.

Pew cited the March 11, 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami as a case study of this “new kind of visual journalism.” They observed that “most of that footage was recorded by citizen eyewitnesses who found themselves caught in the tragedy. Some of that video was posted by the citizens themselves. Most of this citizen-footage, however, was posted by news organizations incorporating user-generated content into their news offerings.”

However, Pew also notes that “clear ethical standards have not developed on how to attribute the video content moving through the synergistic sharing loop.” This is not just a case of citizens posting copyright material without obtaining permission. News organizations were observed to be including citizen-generated content in their news reports without any attribution to the original source.

The form of news is shifting

  • “Citizens play a substantial role in supplying and producing footage. More than a third of the most watched videos (39%) were clearly identified as coming from citizens.”
  • “The most viewed news videos on YouTube, however, come in various forms. More than half of the most-viewed videos, 58%, involved footage that had been edited, but a sizable percentage, 42%, was raw footage.”
  • “Unlike in traditional TV news, the lengths of the most popular news videos on YouTube vary greatly. … the most popular news videos on YouTube were fairly evenly distributed-from under a minute (29%), one to two minutes (21%), two to five minutes (33%) and longer than five (18%).”
  • “YouTube is a place where consumers can determine the news agenda for themselves and watch the videos at their own convenience-a form of “on demand” video news. In the case of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, audience interest continued for weeks. The disaster remained among the top-viewed news subjects for three straight weeks.”

The Pew study is chock full of facts and observations that underline the tremendous shift that is underway. If you are interested in this area, this is a study worth bookmarking.

 

 

Social Media, the G20 & our view of the news: Inside PR 2.10

In the next few days, both Canada and the United States will be celebrating our National Holidays, on July 1 and July 4 respectively. And these holidays fall only a week after the G20 summit of world leaders held this past weekend in Toronto.

So, it’s not surprising that Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I found ourselves focusing in this week’s Inside PR on earth-moving news (yes, we had an earthquake in Canada too!), including the G20 Summit and the view that social media, especially Twitter provided of this event.

In a nutshell, the social media coverage was visceral, diverse and community-oriented. Traditional news media, on the other hand, while capturing pictures of the street level action, had a near monopoly on coverage of what went on inside the secure perimeter of the actual G20 Summit.

Does this highlight a limitation of social media? People can’t cover what they can’t get access to?

Listen to the complete Inside PR Podcast

Thanks to @michael_kerr @hummingbird604 @SeanMoffitt @digitaljoy @dereklothian for suggesting the topics for this week’s podcast.

Shownotes prepared by Inside PR Producer Yasmine Kashefi

0:27 Martin opens the show.

2:17 Martin tells us how the G20 impacted his move to the new energi PR offices.

3:46 Joe paints a picture of what the G20 was like over the past weekend in Toronto and introduces this week’s first topic: the G20 and social media.

6:36 Joe points out the limitations of social media during the G20.

12:51 Joe wonders why the G20 organizers failed to incorporate elements of social media to inform the public during the talks.

14:53 Martin introduces the second topic: how social media is breaking “news” before traditional media.

18:18 Gini explains how it is difficult to determine what is and isn’t credible on Twitter.

21:18 Martin closes the show.

Participate in #JournchatLIVETO

#journchat#Journchat is a Twitter discussion held on Monday evenings intended to give PR people, bloggers and journalists a time to discuss issues of common concern.

A few weeks back, Jodi Echakowitz suggested a couple ways that #Journchat could be made better. Sarah Evans, the organizer of #Journchat, has taken up Jodi’s suggestion of live meetups across the U.S. and Canada during next week’s #Journchat discussion to give participants an opportunity to connect in person.

Jodi is organizing the #JournchatLIVETO meetup on the evening of August 17. And I’m happy that Thornley Fallis is able to help out by hosting the live gathering of participants in our Toronto office boardroom.

  • What: JournchatLIVETO
  • When: Monday, August 17, 6:30PM to 10PM
  • Where: Thornley Fallis, 21 St. Clair Ave East, Suite 800, Toronto
  • Organized by: Jodi Echakowitz

If you want to attend in person, you’ll need to register to attend #JournchatLiveTO.

But even if you don’t want to attend in person, you can still participate in the discussion on Twitter between 7:30PM and 10PM Monday. To do so, simply set up a Twitter search for the hashtag #journchat and then include #journchat in your own tweets

I’m looking forward to meeting the other people who choose to participate in person at the #journchatLIVETO event. It should be a good discussion.

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Interested in more info on #Journchat?

Nora Young adds some Spark to Third Tuesday

norayoungNora Young is fascinated by how people adopt and apply technology in their lives. And she share her passion every week on CBC Radio One’s Spark. In fact, the program has been so well received that the corporation recently announced that it will be lengthened to an hour in the autumn.

But Nora’s Spark isn’t just a radio program. It’s also a much listened-to podcast that can be listened to at any time. And it’s a blog which offers subscribers a chance to listen to complete undedited interviews that were shortened to fit into the broadcast program. Even more, it’s a blog where Nora and the Sparks production team solicit community input on story ideas that they are developing. And of course, it’s also a Twitter ID that Nora and her team use to tell people about what’s happening with Spark and to have conversations with them.

Nora is truly the new generation of broadcaster. As the traditional model tumbles down, as newspapers are closed, as television stations are closed and as radio budgets are cut, one thing is for sure. Nora Young will be using the media that her community has migrated to.

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSo, I’m really looking forward to Nora’s appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto on June 23. She’ll be sharing with us the lessons she’s learned from her journey into social media. What were the bumps? How did she overcome them? What has been most successful? Where does she see things going in the future?

If you’re interested in celebrating the potential of new media and talking with someone who is showing how to bridge traditional media and social media, I hope you’ll join us on June 23. You can register online to attend Third Tuesday with Nora Young.

As always, I’d like to give a shoutout to our sponsors: Our founding sponsor, CNW Group has been joined by the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue to help us make this event possible. Thank you to our sponsors. We couldn’t do Third Tuesday without you.

PR Week to end publication of Canadian Newsletter

prweekcanadiannewsletter-090430Here’s sad news: PR Week will announce Monday that it is shutting down its Canadian Newsletter.

This comes on the heels of PR Week’s announcement that it would take its weekly main publication exclusively online, gate its content and switch its print publication to a monthly magazine format. On top of this, Editor-in-Chief Keith O’Brien earlier this month left PR Week to join a PR firm.

Last year, PR Week established a Canadian Newsletter and Canadian PR Week microsite in order to generate additional Canadian subscribers and advertising. Signs began to emerge in March that this effort was in trouble. First, PR Week announced that it was changing the publishing schedule of the Canadian Newsletter to monthly from semi-monthly. Then, PR Week quietly cancelled plans for a Canadian Roundtable and Thought Leader Breakfast. They had tried without luck to find sponsors to host this both in Vancouver and Toronto. Now, the Canadian Newsletter will be cancelled altogether.

These are tough times. I wish the folks at PR Week well and hope that they make it through to the other side of the recession.

b5Media: From blog network to online media company

WoJeremy Wrightuld you take a 60% reduction in your salary in order to keep your company alive? The President of b5media, Jeremy Wright, would – and has.

In the first heady days of blogging, every conference and gathering of bloggers would echo the question: “How do I monetize my blog?” One answer was to join a blog network – harnessing the power of a single advertising sales team to place ads on your blog along with other blogs in the network.

Since its launch in September 2005, b5Media has been a pioneer in testing and reshaping the blog network model.  In its four year life (so far), it has evolved substantially – evolved in terms of what it presents, its authors, how it compensates bloggers and how it packages and sells the advertising opportunities. In February of this year, b5media evolved further, consolidating many of its 300 individual blogs into a handful of portals focused on specific subjects.

There is no doubt that b5media has attracted viewers. Each month, b5media receives 30 million page views from 10 million unique visitors.

Now, however, the recession is hitting advertising budgets and advertising sales – hard. Traditional media has been first to take a hit. We`ve seen newspapers disappear and television stations close. But online media outlets have not escaped. And b5media has been hit as hard as anyone.ThirdTuesdayToronto

So, Jeremy and his management team developed a survival plan. Jeremy took a salary cut to just above minimum wage. Other senior executives left the company. All in the name of preserving the core publishing platform to grow again when post-recession budgets are restored.

That takes guts. And it takes belief in a vision – a vision not only for a company but for the entire sector.

So, what is that vision and belief that caused Jeremy Wright and his executive team to choose the course they did? Well, come to the next Third Tuesday Toronto to find out. Jeremy will be in the Third Tuesday Toronto spotlight next week. He’ll talk about the survival plan he developed and what he hopes the future will bring for b5media, blogging and online advertising.

You can register online to attend Third Tuesday with Jeremy Wright. I hope to see you there.

And a big thank you to CNW Group, whose sponsorship for Third Tuesday has been rock solid – even through the recession.

UPDATE: We reached our room capacity only 2 hours and 10 minutes after announcing Jeremy’s appearance. Happily, the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue was willing to put us in their larger space. So, we’ve increased the number of spaces for the event.