Chuck's Q Blog

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Just another ICM blog

Wrapping up 506DE

Mark Luckie is my new hero.

Here’s a guy that’s been cranking out great posts in his blog, 10,000 Words, and his Twitter feed, wrote a book about multimedia journalism and was the multimedia director for a cool journalism startup, California Watch.

Where did all that hard work get him? He’s been hired by the Washington Post as their “national innovations editor.” Nice.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’d used the lessons in this course as a guide to his self-made success.

The Nieman Journalism Lab said:

“Journalists, if you’re looking for evidence of the professional power of the personal brand, this is it. “

The power of the personal brand. That was a big part of this course for me; beginning to learn that the things that interest me could be harnessed in a way that could help me advance my career. It helped me focus on writing about those things in this blog and ultimately creating a new blog just for those posts: NewIdeasInNews.com.

I want to say that I’ll stick with the new blog, but I can’t promise that. I’m already a few posts behind where I wanted to be, though I’m making a list in case I find time to catch up. Much of that will depend on the demands of next semester’s classes, work and the new twins.

But I’m considering pitching some new ideas — similar to Luckie’s new position — when I come up for review in the fall. We’ll see if this class’s emphasis on personal promotion will pay off.

A moving experience

Most of the content written for this class has been moved to a new site: NewIdeasInNews.com.

I had the site mostly built about a week ago, but when I tried to change a permission on one of the folders in the theme I’d chosen, it blew up the site. I had to get tech support to correct the problem and then I didn’t trust the theme again. So, I found a new one and started over. It took a little while to figure out the arrangement (and it still needs some tweaks), but it has made some progress.

For the last week or so of class — and beyond — I’ll be doing my blogging on the new site.

Final pitch

The script for this piece:

Spotting the next big thing in publishing is no small feat. But New Ideas In News.com is designed to help you do just that.

Are newspapers, magazines and even books becoming a thing of the past? Will you be consuming more information through e-readers and tablet computers in the near future? How can smartphones help get your publication’s contents into the hands of new readers?

Publishers big and small are scrambling to find new revenue streams. They want to wring more profit from their websites, attract readers to subscription-based offerings on e-readers and tablets, and learn how to make mobile platforms a larger part of their brand.

These are some of the issues NewIdeasInNews.com has already begun to tackle.  Issues like:

The longevity of print newspapers: You don’t need a costly distribution system or expensive materials to run a successful online news operation.

The growing role of tablet computers: Will the iPad save your publication? Probably not but it might give you a new chance to charge for digital content.

Which publications are making paywalls work …  and which are not: The Wall Street Journal continues to attract paying customers to its site, while other online news outlets – like the London Times – are struggling to convert their free websites to paid.

I’m Chuck Nelson, the founder of the blog and its lead writer.

As a 30-year news veteran, I’ve often been ahead of the curve in identifying promising new trends.

I launched one of the first newspaper websites in the country after learning HTML from Netscape Navigator tutorials.

I produced and co-hosted the first podcast by a newspaper: the video-game review show called GameOn! which recently ended after a five-year run and more than 260 episodes.

I’ve conducted training in digital media for the Society of Professional Journalists and other journalism organizations.

And, maybe most important, I’m a working web producer who’s in a position to experiment with and evaluate new tools and techniques.

I hope you’ll find the site timely and the analysis useful. Each post is designed to cut through the hype of conflicting business models and shine a light on the ideas that give publications the best chance at success.

Here are a few examples:

Did you know that Wired magazine’s first iPad edition outsold the print version on the newsstand?

Do you know the key points to consider when deciding if your publication needs an iPad edition or where to find the tools to build that kind of app?

What are the strategies websites are using to stem the tide of hostile user comments without silencing a sense of community and free speech?

And if print isn’t the answer in the long term, what new platforms might step up to carry publishers down the road?

These are some of the topics NewIdeasInNews.com has covered in its first few weeks, providing clear information and common sense advice in a quickly changing environment.

Elevator pitch

Elevator pitch for NewIdeasInNews.com:

Trying to decide if your news organization should charge for content? Want to know if your station should publish to a tablet computer as well as online? Which smartphone should you be on? Which social platforms are worth your time?

New Ideas In News is here to help answer those questions.

Written by a news veteran working on the digital media front lines, the new industry blog (NewIdeasInNews.com) cuts through the chatter,  allowing media executives to focus on the concepts most likely to find success.

One-sentence pitch:

New Ideas In News (NewIdeasInNews.com) provides commentary and analysis on industry trends, cutting through the chatter and allowing media executives to focus on the best new concepts in digital distribution.

Promotional email for NewIdeasInNews.com:

Niche News Site Surveys Changing Media Landscape

COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 22) — Today’s media landscape is changing quickly. The pace of the shift from print and broadcast to online and beyond is enough to make any editor’s head spin.

NewIdeasInNews.com is designed to cut through the hype of conflicting news models, providing insight and analysis on the latest ideas and trends in digital distribution.

Trying to decide if your news organization should charge for content? Want to know if your station should publish to a tablet computer as well as online? Which smartphone should you be on? Which social platforms are worth your time?

The blog, written by a news veteran who works on the front lines of digital news, cuts through the chatter, allowing media executives to focus on the best new concepts in digital distribution.

Shifting reading habits

New figures last week from Amazon.com suggest that the bookseller’s customers are ready and willing to make the move to digital.

In each of the last three months, Amazon reports that sales of books for its Kindle e-reader have outpaced the sale of hardcover books, and that growth is only accelerating, according to  Mashable.com.

E-book sales topped hardcover briefly last year, but these are sustained numbers over the course of a quarter.

Some of the increase — 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May — can be attributed to a price cut for the Kindle. But that’s not the whole story since Amazon makes its e-books available through apps on other devices.

It’s no coincidence that the uptick also coincides with the launch of the iPad, which sold 3 million units in its first three months, two of which are included in Amazon’s numbers.

The shift at Amazon is “astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Amazon doesn’t say how many digital books it sold during any of the periods it cites. As of early June, Apple said it had sold 5 million books and had already gained about a quarter of the digital book market.

Why me

My editor has made the comment at least once that he’s committed to “saving the newspaper industry.” It seems like a lot for one guy, but I know his intentions are sincere. He works hard to make sure the Columbus Dispatch is the best it can be and he’s succeeding in creating innovative ways to collaborate with other publications.

In a way, I want to help do the same thing through this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Making a buck online

I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who didn’t understand why newspapers publish their stories online for free but make people pay for the print version.

Good question. As soon as they figure out how to charge for the information online — without stifling traffic — they will. It’s a pretty fine line; one the industry is struggling with.

When most newspapers and magazines went to the Web, nearly everything there was free for the taking. Advertising was expected to support the sites — the same as in print — but since the Web gave everyone the ability to become a publisher overnight, a flood of cheap ad placement opportunities diluted the revenue stream.

Many publications attempted to charge for their websites, but even when the fees were modest, the concept was a turnoff to people who only read the paper online.  Read the rest of this entry »

Really new media

Ben and Mike with Dad

Ben and Mike with Dad

Our boys arrived Thursday morning, July 1, and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone came home from the hospital yesterday and we’re all doing fine, getting to know each other and establishing new routines.

As I was trying to get Benjamin to burp after a feeding yesterday, I was looking at his eyes and thinking about all the things he and his brother Michael will see. The world has changed pretty quickly in the last 10-20 years and it’s only likely to pick up speed.

They’ll grow up around books — in one form or another. We have lots of books in the house and there are already two or three Dr. Seuss books waiting for them on my iPad. Will that be the standard when they learn to read? When they start high school or college?

What will computers look like when they’re old enough to use one? Some experts already are showing that the growth of tablets is edging out demand for netbooks. PC’s — though still selling well — are a shrinking part of computer sales, especially when compared to laptops. Mobile is obviously the wave of the future.

Their entertainment options will likely be mostly digital as well. We have an iPod speaker base in their room and I’ll be setting up a lullaby playlist soon. Later, I’m sure our DVR will store lots of their favorite shows.

Like older kids today who don’t know what 45′s were and learned to tell time on a digital clock, will these guys have any use for a DVD or CD in a few years?

The answers will be determined at the crossroads of advancing technology and consumer interest.

But we may have to read The Cat in the Hat tonight on the iPad, just to start down the digital road.

‘Wired’ scores on first iPad edition

A friend of mine was waiting for a flight recently and called to tell me that he was reading Wired magazine.

“And I can keep reading it when the plane takes off; they won’t make me put it away,” he said, clearly comparing his version with the first edition of Wired I’d just downloaded to the iPad.

“Sure, but can you watch a video clip from the Pixar story or get a 360-degree look at Iron Man’s suit?” I asked.

“No.”

“How about audio files? Does it play audio files?”

“No.”

“Mine does.”

“The little subscription cards probably don’t fall out of yours either, do they?”

“Nope.”

Along with the full text of the print edition, mine had more than 40 pieces of multimedia or interaction points. We paid the same price for both editions of the magazine, but I know mine was more fun to browse. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing the new rules

Ask any newspaper editor where his company went wrong online and most will say, “We should have found a way to charge for the content.”

Though I’d argue that paper’s aren’t really “giving away” their online content (there is ad support, albeit not the kind that pays when compared to print ads), the new wave of delivery platforms may offer a chance for some news organizations to hit the reset button.

Each new platform will needs to find an audience. Once that happens, it’s up to content providers to decide how to package their product for that platform and what the traffic will bear in terms of pricing.

E-readers, like the Kindle and Nook, have found an audience (though the size of that group is a question). Both established that their products — mainly books, in this case — would be cheaper to buy in this format, but not free.

With the rules of the platform established, newspapers and magazines followed publishers to the e-reader market with subscription-based products. They already knew the people who owned these devices were willing to pay for content.

A single copy of the Columbus Dispatch will set you back $1 on the newsstand. It’s also a $1 on a Sony e-reader and  75 cents on a Kindle or Nook.

The same stories are free online and it’s iPhone app is free as well. (The rules for iPhone apps aren’t hard and fast, but free seems to be winning that fight.)

But when the paper develops an iPad app, how will it approach pricing? Read the rest of this entry »

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