Thursday, 31 December 2009
Case Study: Newspaper Industry (The Guardian)
Audience demand for interactivity could be considered as the main driving force behind the development of new media and if the audience demand it then the industries need to deliver. The newspaper industry is struggling because the circulation figures are falling and with that the revenue that comes from advertising. Newspapers could not be considered interactive in the printed form because consumption of the newspaper is passive. However, if the online version of the paper is visited the experience becomes ‘active’ because the visitor is now in control of her consumption and can choose what to look at/watch/listen to, can download files and podcasts, share articles with friends and contribute to a discussion using one of the numerous ‘talkboards’. Online newspaper ‘Users’ now have a wide range of choices available to them for where they get their news and it seems the only way to keep them coming back is to make them feel part of a community, a difficult task for a national paper. If a successful community is necessary to keep their ‘unique user’ count up then interactivity at a combination of levels is crucial to the success of the paper.
Read the article 'The future of News is Scarcity' (on this blog) for inspiration.
Some ideas for development of points:
Who are the audience for the Guardian? Are they already a community because they share an ideology?
The Guardian were the first to use blogging technology - What do the Guardian offer by way of an 'online community' now? How busy is the community?
What threats do the community face? The Guardian News and Media division is losing money and staff but they are adamant that they won't move to paid for content. Also comment on the Guardian's decision to launch an iPod app for the Guardian yet leave out access to read/post user comments - good idea?
Are the Guardian making any moves to leverage their standing in the 'community' to bring in additional revenues as the author of the above article suggests?
Their newest acquisition is actually a digital publishing and events company in the US called ContentNext - they seem to be seeking a global audience and community for their product.
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
‘If ‘interactivity’ is to move beyond its current status as a widely used but poorly conceptualized term, we must recognize that there are three fundamentally different types of interactivity. Scholars and others who use the term should indicate whether they are focusing on user-to-user, user-to-documents, or user-to-system interactivity or some combination of the three. ‘
McMillan, S.J. (2002). "Exploring Models of Interactivity from Multiple Research Traditions: Users, Documents, And Systems". in Lievrouw, L.; Livingston, S.. Handbook of New Media. London: Sage. pp. 162-182.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
These are currently very exciting times for audiences of multi-platform journalism but the newspaper industry is in crisis as they are slow to change their business model and are struggling to make a profit. The most obvious benefit for audiences is that online content is free and they have access to a wide range of media to satifsy their need for news and a sense of community. They not only have the stories and comment – they also have video, podcasts, blogs and forums so there’s a whole new interactive experience. The most obvious benefit for the newspaper is they now have reduced distribution costs and the audience for online content is global. However, an industry which was once funded by advertising has not been able to transfer this business model to the web and this loss in advertising revenue due both to the recession and the death of the classifieds, is being blamed for the demise of the newspaper industry. Some argue that there are no benefits for either party because the true cost of multi-platform journalism is the huge numbers of editorial staff losing their jobs in cost-cutting exercises. This raises the issue of ‘quality’ as more and more content is either user-generated or from PR material.
Have a go at completing this essay or answering another question using the same formula.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Last Year's Question:
How important is technological convergence for institutions and audiences?
A sample paper and mark scheme is available to support your writing:
Question Paper for Jan 09
Mark scheme for Jan 09
Here are some other example questions from the Long Road Media site to help you prepare for the exam:
1) To what extent is multi-platform publication beneficial to media institutions and audiences?
2) With reference to your chosen case study consider how important interactivity is to media institutions?
3) What has the impact of increased connectivity been on the media production, distribution and exhange process?
What are your own experiences of newspapers and where do you go for news? You may think it’s not relevant but IT IS! You are the next generation of potential readers so the habits you are forming now will matter to the industry.
You’ve used free online survey websites such as www.surveymonkey.com, so you know how easy it is to gather questionnaire results for a coursework project without the hassle of distributing wads of photocopies. Try conducting a survey of the newspaper reading habits with friends and family so you’ll be able to compare your own experience of newspapers with those of others. Are there any trends or patterns? Any surprises? How do your survey results reflect the national picture of newspaper readership?
Traditional Printed Paper:
· In November 2010 the National Daily Newspaper circulation for the Guardian was 270,582 (down 13.1% from previous year)
· The circulation for the Sun was 2,898,113 (down 2.96% from previous year)
· Mail online remained the most visited UK newspaper website in April, according to the latest figures from the audit bureau of circulations electronic published today.
Online Newspaper and community:
· Guardian.co.uk was again the second most popular national newspaper website, with just over 1.8 million average daily browsers, and telegraph.co.uk third, with just under 1.6 million.
· News International (the Sun) withdrew its websites from the abce audit last month in preparation for content from the Times and Sunday Times going behind a paywall in June, to be followed by the Sun and News of the World at a later date.
· National newspaper websites now use an average of daily visitor numbers as their headline measurement figure as it is felt to be more representative than a monthly user figure.
This picture is complicated further, however, as the number of copies sold doesn’t necessarily equal the number of readers: many people share their copy of a printed newspaper so the readership and/or circulation figures can only ever be a rough guide. They are vital to the industry of course, because a newspaper which reaches a larger audience can charge more for its advertising space, and newspapers make more money from advertising than anything else. The cover price in most cases will not cover the cost of production
also uses other traditional media to advertise its newspaper and website, including some innovative TV adverts. In common with other national newspapers, it also offers discounted subscription schemes and often runs promotions to give the newspaper away to university students as a way of encouraging a lifelong Guardian habit. Free copies are a great incentive, and cutting across issues of distribution, exchange and audience consumption, is the issue of ‘bulks’. These are large orders of heavily discounted copies of the printed paper, typically sold to airlines and hotels to be given away to their customers. This year has seen The Guardian break with another tradition in this respect, as it announced it would become the first national quality daily to scrap distribution of all its bulks. MediaWeek reported that Guardian News and Media claimed the
move would ‘increase transparency across the newspaper industry’ – the implication being that its rivals inflate their circulation figures through the use of bulk orders. We might wonder whether the move to scrap bulks was linked with the industrial action and redundancies at The Guardian Print Centre; though as the MediaWeek article pointed out, bulks represent a much smaller percentage of total circulation for The Guardian than for many of its rivals.
Identifying the precise point of ‘exchange’ between publisher and reader is interesting in the case of newspapers as they run parallel online and printed content. An online reader might have seen a headline on the website encouraging them to buy the print edition, or have been encouraged to go online by an advert seen in the print version. And with subscription models to consider, how might exchange be usefully understood? For example, an online reader might be sent email content or be paying for access to subscription only content, even when they neglect to check their emails or use the site. Of course, buying a printed newspaper doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll read it either, so any discussion of ‘exchange’ must be complicated as we distinguish between the physical product and its content. The transaction between publisher and consumer, of this product and its content is further complicated when we look again at the issue of APIs and their role in distributing content through other media.
The website is ‘distributed’ via the internet, of course, but the content of The Guardian’s website is not only found by visiting
www.guardian.co.uk through a web browser. RSS feeds, email headlines and mobile phone services all allow Guardian readers to stay up to date. And recently a major new feature has been added, as The Guardian has released its ‘Open Platform’, a set of software developer tools which was launched with a content API (Application Programming Interface). What this means is
that web developers can integrate Guardian content seamlessly into their clients’ websites, whilst The Guardian controls the adverts which are associated with the free content it provides.As Guardian director of digital content Emily Bell puts it, this will allow Guardian content to be ‘woven into the fabric of the internet’.
Finding up-to-date figures for the total number of journalists and editors employed by The Guardian is difficult, though a recent report suggested that this year the editorial staff at Guardian News and Media is shrinking from around 850 to 800 through redundancies. One fear consistently voiced by commentators on the newspaper industry is that the quality of journalism will suffer as production costs are cut and reader-generated content becomes
more popular. The rise of citizen journalism has been well documented elsewhere but we can’t ignore their impact on The Guardian and the ambivalent relationship which must now exist between professional journalists and accidental eyewitness reporters. A key story one might explore in this respect
is The Guardian’s campaigning investigative coverage of 2009’s G20 protests in London and the death of Ian Tomlinson.
The quality of news produced by Guardian journalists has been examined in Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News. He employed specialist
researchers from Cardiff University to analyse stories printed in The Guardian and three other national dailies during two one-week periods. The result? A staggering 60% of these quality-print stories consisted wholly or mainly of wire copy and/or PR
material. In other words, press releases or unchecked stories from agency journalists were forming the bulk of the domestic ‘news’ in print. Of the four papers analysed, The Guardian had the lowest percentage, but it was still more than 50%.9 Davies refers to this ‘copy and paste’ reporting style as churnalism. Is there any wonder that many readers would trust Joe or Joanna Public’s account of an event, over a ‘report’ filed by an overworked and underpaid ‘churnalist’?
Guardian News & Media to cut more than 100 jobsNewspaper group says revenues have fallen by a worse-than-anticipated £33m
Sustainability in advertising: Alan Rusbridger GNM's editor-in-chief on the contradictions of advertising-funded journalism and the power of editorial
Paddison, Neil, The Real World of the Newspaper Industry: A case study of the online version of the Guardian, in MediaMag, December 2009
You need to research:
When did The Guardian newspaper go online?
When did they start using blogging software and how was this/is this used on their site?
What type of podcasts are available and how are these used by the audience?
How many people use the site compared to the number buying the papers?
How is the production of The Guardian website and the print version 'seamlessly integrated?'
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
What is technological convergence? - examples referring to newspaper industry
Who owns the Guardian Newspaper?
How is the ownership of the Guardian different from that of the Sun and how does this impact their coverage of news?
What is the circulation of the Sun and what is the circulation of the Guardian (2009)?
How does the Guardian survive in the current climate of recession and falling newspaper sales?
The production process
The Guardian’s headquarters is in the brand new Kings Place building in Kings Cross, London. Kings Place is also home to two orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, as well as housing a concert hall and two art galleries. But music aficionados will not be disturbed by the thunder of nearby printing presses, as The
Guardian Print Centre is seven miles away, in Stratford. For a short but fascinating look inside the print centre, check out YouTube.
Incidentally, recent redundancies at the print centre made headlines as industrial action was narrowly averted, showing us that the downturn in the newspaper industry is having a serious effect upon The Guardian. Kings Place has been home to The Guardian since December 2008, and such a recent move means that The Guardian now has an
office space ideally suited to the new media environment. Editor Alan Rusbridger, writing at the time of the move, gave an insight into the changes it had brought:
‘Print and digital operations are largely integrated, where previously they were physically separate.”
He also pointed out that as well as regular desks with computers ‘there are seven state-ofthe- art recording studios and 24 editing desks.’ The Guardian is an online provider of news for a global audience and their new headquarters reflect a new convergence of technology as stories are written simultaneously for print and the website. Podcasts and video reports are also produced for broadcast, and live feed coverage of key events is now common. The way the agenda is set is changing too: morning news conferences can be attended via videoconferencing for Guardian employees not physically present at Kings Place.
Homework: Read pages 10 & 11 of the GMG Annual Report and summarise in bullet points.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
We watched a short video on the Scott Trust www.gmgplc.co.uk - on the home page, top right.
We might expect newspapers to disappear following the growth of the internet. As so much information can be found for free, it begs the question: Why would anyone pay for a newspaper nowadays? The Guardian’s most celebrated editor, C. P. Scott, provided one possible answer:
“Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”
He was writing in 1921, celebrating the centenary of The Guardian and affirming its values as an independent newspaper. Let’s take a closer look at The Guardian. In 2009, it is celebrating 50 years since it changed its name from The Manchester Guardian to become The Guardian, and 10 years since The Guardian Unlimited network of websites was launched. It is the only UK national newspaper wholly owned by a trust, which means that there are no shareholders to satisfy, and profits are reinvested to secure the newspaper’s future.
Does The Guardian make a profit then? In short, no, but it’s more complicated than that. The Scott Trust owns a multimedia business, Guardian Media Group PLC (GMG PLC), whose portfolio includes national, regional and local newspapers, radio stations, magazines, a raft of websites and B2B media.’ Guardian News and Media (which publishes the Observer and Guardian, and produces The Guardian Unlimited website) is just one part of Guardian Media Group PLC, and it reported a loss of £36.8m for 2008/09. GMG PLC as a whole reported a loss before taxation of £89.8m.
But the bigger picture is important – last year the group enjoyed a profit of over £300m, and each year the figures are complicated by deals involving joint ventures, restructuring, and links with subsidiary companies. If reading a company’s annual report sounds off-putting, at least download and skim through GMG’s 2009
report – it’s surprisingly colourful, readable, and will give plenty of ideas for further research.
The Guardian might not have survived in its current form were it not for the fact that The Scott Trust draws profits from other titles such as Auto Trader, which it partly owns through the Trader Media Group. To be fair, the Trust was set up to ensure the survival of the newspaper by carefully investing its profits and that is exactly what it has done. So the editorial freedom continues even though the ‘profitability’ of the newspaper might be questioned. As the chair of GMG, Amelia Fawcett, puts it:
“While not immune to difficult market conditions, Guardian Media Group is able to place long-term security before short-term profit.”
Whilst the printed Guardian might not be ‘profitable’ by itself, Guardian Unlimited made a profit of £1m in 2006, its first year ‘in the black’ since it was launched in 1999 and after £20m of investment.
It is important to recognise that The Guardian’s status as a globally respected
source of news is partly due to its history of independent ownership. But history aside, how important is the printed newspaper today, in relation to its online version? A closer look at production might help us to answer that
Paddison, Neil, The Real World of the Newspaper Industry: A case study of the online version of the Guardian, in MediaMag, December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
On the back of months of Murdoch mood music, Times editor Harding today outlined the reader philosophy and some of the specific thinking about how News International will generate revenue from its web readers.
Harding says that News International will “rewrite the economics of newspapers” and contrasted the Times‘s 20 million-plus unique users with the 500,000 readers who had developed a “genuine digital newspaper habit”:
“We created a culture of free, and we absolutely were party to that ... In the last few years, we have talked with great pride – we believed advertising would sustain us – about unique users ... These people were window shopping down Oxford Street – they were not coming into our shops ... Historically, newspapers have treated their best customers worst and their worst customers best… We give the paper [content] away to people who could not care less and we pay little or no attention to people who love it and read it every day.”
New media thinker (and a fellow Guardian columnist) Jeff Jarvis found some easy ripostes to this argument (nice and short via Twitter):
“Times says papers ‘treated their best customers worst & their worst customers best.’ So now they’ll tax the best customers?”
“Times vows to ‘rewrite the economics of the newspaper.’ Well, sir, the web already did that.”
Well, yes, Jarvis is right that the web had rewritten newspaper economics. And a brief perusal of the media landscape shows the carnage it has wrought.
My Guardian bosses are also adamant that the Murdochs are barking up the wrong tree. Director of digital content Emily Bell said recently:
“We are not contemplating a paywall, nor as far as I’m concerned would we ever … they are a stupid idea in that they restrict audiences for largely replicable content. Murdoch no doubt will find this out – even rudimentary maths suggests he will struggle with a completely free model to meet advertising revenue levels across the NI offerings. Our strategy is entirely around reach and audience engagement – both if which would be irreparably damaged by paywalls.”
The long buildup to the News Corp (NYSE: NWS) move suggests that they are trying to find others who will join this paid-for-content crusade.
Harding today outlined how News Corporation might do it:
“From spring of next year we will start charging for the digital edition of the Times. We’re working on the exact pricing model, but we’d charge for a day’s paper, for a 24-hour sign-up to the Times [online]. We’ll also establish a subscription price as well.”
News Corporation is basically basing its web strategy on its newspaper strategy: attempting to tie in readers long term. Watching newspaper circulation figures decline, the Times embarked on a subscription policy, offering regular readers the product on long-term deals. Now it hopes to expand this to the website. Other newspapers are following the print subscription policy, including the Guardian.
Clearly, if you want to reach a mass audience on the web you have to be free. The Guardian reaches 30 million people a month via the web. The Guardian newspaper sells one hundredth of that.
But one has to presume that the newspaper readers buy their print copy and spend at least half an hour a day reading a wide array of content. They are engaged, regular, paying. Web readers are valued too (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog), but they are not paying the bills.
With the grim media industry outlook, declining circulations and ad revenues, it is no wonder that media organisations are looking for answers. There are many within the industry who are hoping that Murdoch is right.
News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and other traditional news businesses are hand-wringing over how they will make money on the internet. I think they are focusing on the wrong problem.
The web is more than just a new medium. Rather than thinking about how they can sell the same old news via a new channel, media bosses should be taking this opportunity to re-examine old assumptions, to rebuild their product for the 21st Century.
The interesting thing about the news industry is that, when we examine it from the ground up, we quickly realise that it lost touch with its customers a long time ago, and that the model for the future will most likely look very different to what we are used to.
The great tragedy of the newspaper industry in the late 20th Century was that, in the pursuit of profit, quality journalism became a dying art. Budgets were reduced, journalists were asked to write more stories per day and were given less time to check facts. At the same time, editors were instructed to avoid stories that might create controversy and the expense of lawsuits. The result was more and more bland articles recycled from paper to paper, more politically motivated editing and the collapse of public trust in the newspaper industry. This story is chronicled in Flat Earth News by Nick Davies.
We kept buying, though, because we didn’t have any choice. The newspaper industry operated as an effective oligopoly and the value of the news itself was impossible to pick out from the bundle of hard copy distribution, advertising and content that we all purchased.
Fast forward to 2009 and the situation looks very different - all of a sudden, there is choice and the bundle has been picked apart. And, to make matters worse, the industry is possibly more exposed than any other to the trend towards $0 pricing for online content.
As Chris Anderson argues in his seminal book on this topic Free, The Future Of A Radical Price, the answer to this conundrum is not to swim against the tide and find a way to start charging for news, but, rather, to understand what is becoming commoditised and abundant, and what new scarcities are created as a result. In the book, Chris points out that, when he was young, food was scarce and the main problem of poverty was hunger, but now food has become so cheap and abundant that the biggest problem of poverty is obesity. The new scarcity is health, spawning huge industries in diet food and health services.
In the news industry, it is the news itself that has become abundant. Making a trip to the corner shop and buying a paper to find out what is happening in the world has shifted from being the only option to being the least good of a thousand options. I prefer to check Techmeme and Twitter, but there is the choice of thousands of other sites, aggregators and services that can deliver to your desktop or mobile. Moreover, there is no exclusivity in news per se – getting the headline from one place is pretty much equivalent to getting it from another.
The good news is that every abundance creates new scarcities and this is where the news industry must go to make money in the 21st century. The scarcities created (and enabled) by abundant news are interesting stories, thought provoking analysis, conversation and community, and trust/verification.
Interesting stories go beyond simple reporting of what has occurred, bringing in relevant context and staying with a topic as it unfolds. Thought provoking analysis will dare to shock, and to be wrong. Conversation and community will both make the experience richer for the active participant and improve the quality of the content on the site for more casual reader. Trust and verification will make you go back to one site rather than another as you know the stories there will be more accurate (note breaking news should be published first and verified second, with appropriate caveats).
The successful news company of the future will have to take all this on board and deliver it with a radically lower cost base than this industry is used to. In the digital world, the news industry, like many others, will be radically smaller. This contraction is partly a consequence of much reduced distribution costs, but is also a reflection of the fact that the monopoly rents Fleet Street enjoyed in the last century are a thing of the past. Witness how Craigslist has reduced the multi-billion dollar classifieds industry to nearer $100 million.Companies that follow the blueprint above are emerging already, most notably TechCrunch for technology news, Talking Points Memo, FiveThirtyEight and The Huffington Post for politics, PerezHilton for celebrity, and Pitchfork for music. These niche sites all write compelling content, spend time building up their sources, check their facts, encourage writers to find the real facts behind stories and are trusted by their readers. And, they all generate solid advertising revenues and benefit from relatively low cost bases.
Note that none of them charge for news. They do, however, have the option of leveraging their standing in the community to generate other revenues. TechCrunch runs the TC50 conference, Pitchfork organises the Pitchfork Music Conference and Perez Hilton charges for personal appearances. This is, I think, the real business model for news companies in the future - build a community around news and stories and maybe make a little in advertising, but the real money will come from leveraging the position in the community to offer services no-one else can.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
— Rifka Rosenwein, Why Media Mergers Matter, Brill’s Content, December 1999
Media titles owned by News Corporation
Stock market symbol: NWC
Read News Corporation's corporate news
Fox News Channel (tv)
News of the World (newspapers)
Scottish News of the World (newspapers)
Real Estate TV (tv) Worldwide
The Sun (newspapers)
The Scottish Sun (newspapers)
The Sunday Times Travel Magazine (magazines)
SunTalk (radio) Internet
The Times (newspapers)
The Times International Edition (newspapers)
The Sunday Times Scotland (newspapers)
The Sunday Times (newspapers)
Many of the large media company owners are entertainment companies and have vertical integration (i.e. own operations and businesses) across various industries and verticals, such as distribution networks, toys and clothing manufacture and/or retailing etc. That means that while this is good for their business, the diversity of opinions and issues we can see being discussed by them will be less well covered. (One cannot expect Disney, for example, to talk too much about sweatshop labor when it is accused of being involved in such things itself.) The wider ramifications are highlighted well in this following quote:
Vertical Integration was once looked upon with alarm by government. It was understood that corporations which have control of a total process, from raw material to fabrication to sales, also have few motives for genuine innovation and the power to seize out anyone else who tries to compete. This situation distorts the economy with monopolistic control over prices. Today, government has become sympathetic to dominant vertical corporations that have merged into ever larger total systems. These corporations, including those in the media, have remained largely unrestrained.
— Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), p. xvii
E-Commerce Times (Part of the ECT News Network, USA)
'It was only a hundred years ago, at the dawn of the print-society, where words, nicely arranged and neatly printed on newsprint, were sold to a select and literate few. That's how the power of knowledge and influence was fertilized in the broadsheets, sprinkled though the elite gossip machines and eventually picked by the commoners. Much later, or only a decade ago, most newspapers, weighty and tossed at every second doorstep, still carried the germination of well-branded ideas, and still carried the power to keep our societies glued.
Facing the Truth
But today, embedded in a new cyber-society, newspapers are known to carry nothing but yesterday's old news with fresh ink. They are commonly treated like unnecessary fuel for our recycling bins. This mighty medium of the classy period of the print-society is gasping for the last breath in the cyber-society of today. The days of the newspaper business are numbered.
Like the evolution of any other cultural tsunami, the denial of the newspapermen and their continued resistance to change has only prolonged this agony. Years ago, they vigorously fought against the use of color pictures as being too tacky for journalistic words. Second, they resisted Web sites as cop-outs to the new medium of the Internet, and demanded outrageous fees, but later succumbed to free deals.
Now they are in denial in accepting this as one of the final rounds in a fight to survive. Newspapers may always be with us in some form, but they will cease to serve as the principal backbone of the media.
Time to Fly Kites
What newspapers do today is not very different from what they did a hundred years ago. A great but cumbersome process started with Franklin fully relying on Gutenberg's moveable type and flat presses, but, as later fully exposed by Marshall McLuhan, this process is now simply being replaced by YOU. Now, you can do some research and write up some ideas and e-mail all of that to a selected list of people in seconds. Essentially, that's news distribution.
The noble concept of growing trees and pulping them to make paper and to further go through another 1,000 steps to bring that branch of the tree into tabloid shape to be inked, read, and further recycled is dead.'
Read the full article here:
Convergence in the context of media refers to the technology driven unification of different media channels.
For many years different media were clearly separated: broadcast TV, broadcast radio, newspapers, books, video and film, recorded music etc.
The internet and other digital methods of distribution have changed this. A digital connection or physical medium can carry any type of content. Video can be distributed on a mobile phone network or music over the internet.
This not only means that different types of media are converging, but also that media and telecoms are converging.
In addition to convergence at the distribution level there are areas in which the same content can be re-packaged across media: for example, computer games and films use the same content in different ways. This also creates powerful marketing synergies.
Convergence is part of a much broader change in the media that is being brought about by new technology. Although this has not happened as fast or as profitably as many hoped during the dotcom boom, changes are nonetheless happening.
From an investment point of view the key consequence is the potential impact of the change on established media companies revenue streams.
ARTICLE from theEncyclopædia Britannica
phenomenon involving the interlocking of computing and information technology companies, telecommunications networks, and content providers from the publishing worlds of newspapers, magazines, music, radio, television, films, and entertainment software. Media convergence brings together the “three Cs”—computing, communications, and content.
Convergence has occurred at two primary levels:
Technologies—creative content has been converted into industry-standard digital forms for delivery through broadband or wireless networks for display on various computer or computer-like devices, from cellular telephones to personal digital assistants (PDAs) to digital video recorders (DVRs) hooked up to televisions.
Industries—companies across the business spectrum from media to telecommunications to technology have merged or formed strategic alliances in order to develop new business models that can profit from the growing consumer expectation for “on-demand” content.
Some industry analysts see media convergence as marking the twilight of the “old media” of print and broadcasting and the rise of “new media” associated with digital publishing. Among the major changes associated with digital publishing is the growth of a “flatter” publishing structure that allows one-to-one and many-to-many distributions of content. This development contrasts sharply with the one-to-many distribution that was characteristic of 20th-century mass communications. Digital publishing also has empowered many ordinary individuals to become involved directly or through collaborative efforts in creating new content because of the dramatically reduced barriers to producing and distributing digital content over the Internet.
While these developments have challenged the business models of old media as they developed in the 20th century, the ability of these companies to adapt to the changing landscape should not be dismissed. Old media, or big media, is very experienced in producing content, attracting and aggregating audiences, and anticipating changes in consumer demands and expectations. Big media companies are also highly capitalized and often enter the new media environment through mergers, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, as seen with NBC Universal, an American media conglomerate, which formed a partnership with the Microsoft Corporation to develop the MSNBC cable and Internet news service in 1996. Similarly, in 2005 international media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch acquired MySpace, an Internet social networking Web site, in order to leverage his News Corporation into an established online community.
Newspapers and magazines
Virtually all major newspapers and magazines now operate a Web site. It has been an ongoing challenge for these publishing industries to assess the exact impact that an online component has on their business models and their broader operational structures as distributors of news, information, and entertainment.
In modern societies worldwide, consumers have come to expect access to the latest news from television broadcasts, such as those presented by the Cable News Network (CNN) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), instead of having to wait until the next day to read about it in the newspapers. In addition, various Web sites sprang up in the 1990s to specialize in classified advertisements—for everything from jobs to used items to lonely hearts—in direct competition with newspapers. In order to compete with the growth of television news networks and the Internet, newspapers began to move online in the 1990s. This created something of a feedback loop as consumers came to depend on the newspaper Web sites for current news, and the papers were thus induced to put more resources into competing on the Web; this in turn led to the addition of still more multimedia content, such as photographs, audio, and video, as well as blogs (essentially editorials) and forums to attract interaction with their readers. None of these moves was of much help, however, because of the loss of newsstand sales and advertising revenues for print copies. Indeed, some in the news industry have predicted that classified advertising eventually will disappear from all newspapers.
Thus far, the challenges have been less sharply delineated for magazines, although in both cases it is apparent that, even as geography and scale have diminished in significance as determinants of potential market size and profitability, it is those mastheads with high credibility among consumers (such as The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Economist) that have fared best in the convergent online media space.
What impact has technology had on the newspaper industry?
Will newspapers soon be online only?