Tag Archives: News Corp

If You Have News, It Will Be Aggregated and/or Curated

The Pew Research Center has come out with a massive new report on the state of media as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, and it comes to a number of conclusions about where the industry stands—including the fact that Twitter and Facebook are still driving a fairly small amount of traffic to media outlets (although this segment is growing quickly) and that such tech giants as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft control almost 70 percent of online advertising. But one other thing that becomes clear from the Pew report is just how big a role aggregators of all kinds—both human and machine-powered—are playing in news consumption.

Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many newspaper companies and other traditional media outlets still seem to think the vast majority of their audience comes to them directly and prefers to read their content above all other sources. More than anything else, this is the core philosophy behind the rise of paywalls—which more and more papers are implementing—and also the millions of dollars media companies have poured into developing iPad apps and other walled-garden-style approaches to news delivery. The assumption is that readers will want only the content that comes from that specific outlet.

For many consumers, however, aggregators of various kinds are the way they consume their news now, whether through Web-based portals like Yahoo News or Google News, or through a variety of newer aggregation-based apps and services, such as Flipboard, Pulse, or Zite for the iPad, as well as News.me, Summify (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Percolate. According to the Pew report, almost 30 percent of consumers get their news from a “news organizing website or app,” compared with the 36 percent who go directly to a media company’s website or app.

In effect, many users seem to be looking to generate their own digital-newspaper-style overview of the world rather than accepting one from a single media outlet, and if the content they are looking for comes from an aggregator like the Huffington Post because the original is behind a paywall, then so be it. The problem for media companies is that this kind of behavior is in direct conflict with most of  the business models they’re relying on for revenue, whether it’s advertising or app- and paywall-based subscription services—which is why such media moguls as News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch continually accuse Google of “piracy.”

And the problem is actually even bigger than that, since the Huffington Post and Google News are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggregation and/or curation. Although Facebook and Twitter may not be huge factors in terms of news consumption at the moment—as my colleague Staci has pointed out at paidContent—with only 9 percent of users saying they get their news from those networks, that figure has grown almost 60 percent in the past year alone and is likely continuing to increase.

To some extent the curation phenomenon is helping mainstream news organizations, because people are sharing links that get clicked on and drive traffic back to news outlets. This is especially the case with Twitter, since the Pew report notes that a larger proportion of users follow official media sources there, while a majority of Facebook users get their news from friends and family members. But just as with aggregation apps and services, the content that any single media company produces just becomes part of the sea of content that is distributed through these networks.

On top of that, Facebook itself is becoming much more of an aggregator of news, through the “social reading” apps it offers from such outlets as the Washington Post and the Guardian. Although both newspapers have bragged about the number of people who have registered for their apps and shared content through them, the reality is that much of the benefit from that activity ultimately goes to Facebook—in terms of the time users spend on the site, the advertising they are exposed to, etc.—rather than the news outlet.

Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, noted in a response to the Pew report on Twitter that social platforms like Facebook are becoming “frenemies” with media companies, since they generate traffic but also suck up much of the benefit in terms of advertising.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-19/if-you-have-news-it-will-be-aggregated-and-or-curated

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MySpace loses millions of users in a few weeks

Latest statistics suggest attempts to kick new life into MySpace may be failing.

Tech industry analysts comScore say figures show MySpace lost more than 10 million unique users worldwide between January and February. There were almost 63 million users of MySpace in February 2011, down from more than 73 million. Year on year the site has lost almost 50 million users, down from close to 110 million in February 2010. The loss of users comes despite a series of changes to the site to make it more about music.

It was the social network site that helped launch the careers of artists like Arctic Monkeys, Kate Nash and Lily Allen. But so far this year MySpace has already announced it is to cut half its workforce. Falling numbers. A round 500 staff are going worldwide. Five years ago it was booming and for many was the first place to visit to talk to friends and listen to music. But the arrival of sites likes Facebook has changed the face of social networking. In the UK, 2.3 million people used the site in February 2011.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp bought the company for £330 million back in 2005.  If they were to sell today, they might get as little as £50 million for it. MySpace boss Mike Jones has been putting a brave face on the falling numbers. He said the site is no longer a social network and is instead an “entertainment destination”.  But with competition from YouTube, streaming services and increased file-sharing it faces tough times.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/12862139

News Corp buys e-reader company Skiff

News Corp branched into the digital reader market with the acquisition of Skiff, a Hearst-backed company that helps distribute newspaper and magazine content to e-readers and other devices. News Corp also said on Monday it made an investment in Journalism Online, a company that helps publishers reap revenue from online news. The financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. News Corp’s latest investments underscore the company’s seriousness about charging for online news and delivering content on various devices. The deal for Skiff includes only the software distribution platform and does not include its e-reader device, which has not yet gone on sale to the public. The market for devices has become increasingly crowded, with competition from the likes of Amazon’s Kindle, Sony Corp Reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iPad tablet. Through Skiff, News Corp is hoping to be better positioned to distribute its content not only to the crowded field of e-readers but also to smartphones and netbooks. Journalism Online offers to help publishers charge for content in a variety of ways, including subscriptions and micropayments to access individual articles

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE65D4WB20100614

Fox News targets Latinos with new website

Fox News plans to launch this fall a website aimed at a Latino audience as it seeks to build its coverage and links with one of the fastest-growing U.S. communities. Fox News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, said on Wednesday the new site FOX News Latino (www.FoxNewsLatino.com) will provide original news and features focused exclusively on the Latino community. The U.S. Latino population is one of the fastest growing, accounting for around 15.4 percent of the population in 2008, up from 12.5 percent in 2000, according to Pew Research. As that population grows, marketers are spending more of their advertising dollars with Hispanic media outlets. “About a third of the country is going to be of Latino heritage by 2050 and we thought it was time to launch a site with more of a focus,” said Michael Clemente, Fox News’ senior vice president of news editorial. But Clemente said it was unlikely Fox News will launch a news television channel focused on the Latino community. The new website will feature videos and other content in both Spanish and English with reports from the United States as well as South and Central America, and the West Indies, among other regions

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64I72R20100519

MySpace launches social calendar function with ads

MySpace is trying to get on your social calendar — or at least take over how you manage it. The social networking site, in the midst of an overhaul to regain its lost mojo, is rolling out a service Thursday that blends nearly 1 million concert listings with a calendar and new links to buy tickets from partners or artists. Other pop culture events such as movie debuts and album releases are expected to appear on the calendar as well. Users can add or subtract which events they see on their personal calendars on MySpace by clicking on categories such as music or friends’ events. They even could list or remove events they were notified of on Facebook, the rival social networking giant. Listings can be tailored to a user’s favorite artists and location. MySpace is capitalizing on its strength as a forum where 14 million musicians interact with fans and on its bustling invitation application, which it says handled 126 million event invitations in March alone. The new project also opens a channel for advertising that is needed to improve the finances of MySpace, which has become an underperforming unit of News Corp. MySpace is selling event listings that will show up prominently on users’ calendars and profile pages. The new feature takes advantage of MySpace’s USD 20 million acquisition last year of iLike, a popular music application that also runs in Facebook, and blends it with Social Plan, an event application that was absorbed by MySpace in January. Social Plan was also a unit of News Corp

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100415/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_techbit_myspace_events

Why did it all go wrong for the once fashionable social network?…Bebo has failed to evolve in the way of Facebook and Twitter

Buying a fledgling social networking site is the quickest way for a giant corporation to gain credibility with a youthful audience, but it is also the fastest way to waste a few hundred million pounds.

US internet giant AOL snapped up Bebo, the UK equivalent of Facebook, for $800m two years ago, only to announce last week that it was embarking on a “strategic review” that is likely to lead to its closure. At the time of the deal in March 2008, which made millionaires of Bebo’s founders Michael Birch, a Briton, and his Californian wife, Xochi, AOL described it as “a game-changing acquisition” that “puts us in a leading position in social media”. That lead evaporated remarkably quickly.

Back then, Bebo had a global audience of between 7.1 million (according to online ratings company Nielsen) and 40 million (said Bebo). Most agreed it was the third largest social networking site in the UK behind Facebook and MySpace, although it had struggled to gain traction in the US. According to figures from ComScore, Bebo’s global unique visitors in February 2010 totalled 12.8 million, down 45% on February 2009. Facebook had 462 million visitors, MySpace nearly 110 million, and Twitter 69.5 million.

What went wrong? Being brought by a global corporation tarnished the cooler-than-thou image of an independent start-up that was particularly popular in school playgrounds. Aggressive expansion by Facebook also played a part. Like most social networking sites, Bebo also benefited from a novelty factor that can disappear as quickly as it emerges. News Corp, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, bought MySpace for $580m in 2005, only to watch its appeal diminish along with its value as it loaded the site with adverts.

ITV took a gamble on another UK start up, Friends Reunited, paying £120m in the same year, only to sell it at a huge loss last year. Company insiders criticise AOL for failing to invest in Bebo, and point out that an acquisition by a corporate giant tends to stifle creativity. That may hide a more uncomfortable truth, however, which can make a mockery of the savviest owners. Social networking sites are businesses based on the fickle behaviour of internet users, who are free to move on to the next site when a competitor emerges and are offered few reasons to stick with their existing site. In that sense, Bebo was a fad.

It may not have fallen into the trap of letting naked commercialisation scare its teenage users away, but nor did it evolve in the manner that many of its competitors did. Facebook is used by adults as well as children. Much of Twitter’s power, influence – and likely longevity – derives from the fact it has become a professional tool, rather than an online outlet for gossip posted by its users.

Start-ups rarely fare well when they are taken under the wing of a bureaucratic corporate parent, and Bebo may also have suffered by hitching its wagon to AOL, a business that has itself seen better days. It is owned by Time Warner, an American media giant that owns CNN, Time magazine and a host of other assets, but the $162bn deal that brought AOL and Time together is now regarded as one of the most disastrous in corporate history.

Buying Bebo was an attempt to build on AOL’s status as the world’s first internet provider by bolting on a new audience, but internet users are notoriously promiscuous. For Bebo’s young users, the site turned out to be the online equivalent of a teenage crush – intense while it lasted, but it didn’t last…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/11/bebo-mistake-aol-facebook-twitter

Murdoch: WSJ to launch New York section in April

News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal will have a new section focusing on New York area news in April, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said in a speech before the Real Estate Board of New York, Bloomberg reported. The move is aimed to compete against The New York Times on local readers and major advertisers, according to paidContent. Even though Murdoch did not mention by name, he said “a certain other New York daily has essentially stopped covering the city the way it once did and instead has focused on being more of a national newspaper interested mostly in prizes.” The paper is recruiting reporters and editors for the new section, but none of the specifics have been provided yet. “I can tell you that the new section will be full-colour and it will be feisty, and will cover state and local political news, business, culture, sports and real estate,” he added.

http://www.sfnblog.com/launches_and_closures/2010/03/murdoch_wsj_to_launch_new_york_section_i.php