Outing Cablenewser

The New York Times has identified an anonymous blogger known as cablenewser. He’s 18 year old Brian Stelter, a student at Towson University in Baltimore, who began blogging in January and has attracted a wide following.

I’ve resisted quoting Mr. Stelter over the past few months, even though his persona has been given considerable publicity due to its views on the cable news industry. The reason I didn’t is because anonymous bloggers have no standing whatsoever in my view. I don’t care who it is or what they say. There is no place in journalism for anonymity, and I think the blogosphere is journalism.

This outing will likely hurt the public perception of blogging, because critics will use it to broadbrush the entire phenomenon. But that’s all right. We’re rebuilding the news business from the bottom up anyway.

A (misguided) warning for content owners

The Yankee Group has issued a report warning content owners that convergence may not be in their best interests. As reported in MediaDailyNews, device convergence and in-home connectivity may present problems for content providers expecting to gain from the proliferation of choices.

According to the report, “the concern for content providers must be maintaining core revenue while independently growing other channels; this is threatened by device convergence.”

Intuitively, more channels should mean more options, which usually leads to greater opportunity. But when the devices that support these channels start converging, content providers must be cautious about repeating themselves. For example, why would a consumer who has his television connected to his PC want to pay for premium television content if he can gain access to it by downloading or streaming the same content online? This will become more of a consideration point for content providers in a converging media landscape.

The report rightly notes that content owners can’t get away with simply “re-purposing” their content. It cites ESPN as an example of how to do things the right way, developing separate identities and content for each different media outlet.

This report shines a light on an important subject, but it misses what’s really happening on the Internet and does a disservice to the people it intends to help. More importantly, the logic applied here denies the communications paradigm shift underway, and that doesn’t do anybody any good. The truth is we won’t know how to monetize the new world until we understand its supply and demand laws. The advice offered in this report is designed to protect the status quo, and I strongly believe the more content owners cling to their existing business models, the greater the likelihood they will be replaced downstream.

This is a very important issue, but it can’t be understood through traditional eyes. As a friend once told me, you can sit on the lakeshore and study the currents and conditions until the cows come home, but until you get in the water, you’ll not have a clue about what it’s like to swim.

Website (ad) clutter is a big turnoff

This one should be under the category “Duh,” but it’s amazing how many site operators don’t understand it. Now comes a study of 3,100 Web users that makes powerful arguments for easing the clutter. According to the survey, by Burst! Media and reported in MediaDailyNews, over 60 percent of participants have a low tolerance for more than two ad units per Web page.

More than 36 percent of survey respondents say they leave a site immediately if it appears to be cluttered. When they do remain on a site they believe is cluttered, 73.4 percent of them–men and women alike–pay less attention to ads appearing on its pages.

Still, the perception of clutter is subjective. In other words, one man’s clutter can be another man’s order. Comments Alan Schanzer, managing partner at media agency The Digital Edge: “Ads are only one variable in what makes an environment look cluttered to a consumer.” Numerous components–including page layout, font style, and background color–can also be factors in determining clutter on a Web page.

I’ve long been an advocate of page exclusivity for advertisers, and I absolutely abhor cluttered page design. Thankfully, the trend — even with media sites — is decidedly away from clutter.

The Assumption of Trust

Here is the latest in the series of articles, TV News in a Postmodern World. This essay examines the role of public trust in journalism and how the disintegration of trust impacts self-governance in our culture.

The Assumption of Trust

This is the 25th essay in the series. All are available in links on the left side of this page. I’m told I do a pretty good job of making complex issues understandable for lay people, and I’ve actually gotten some fan mail (I never got that as a news director). One day, I hope to put all of this together in book form, but alas, there is the need to put food on the table first.

Department stores shifting ad dollars

A new Borrell Associates report (Executive Summary available online) reveals that department stores have shifted $2 billion in advertising from newspapers to electronic media over the last four years, including online. In 1998, a similar Borrell study accurately predicted the fall of recruitment advertising for newspapers, and he says the same thing is happening — and accelerating — with department store advertising.

Not all is gloomy for newspapers. Newspapers are well-positioned with their strong local Web sites to pick up some of the loss. Department stores intend to increase their online ad spending remarkably — by more than 80 percent between now and 2009. And the target that department stores are trying to find — younger shoppers — can be found on newspapers’ Web sites at far higher than average frequency — and with much greater frequency than their own newspaper readership.
This, of course, is good news for television, because that’s where a lot of this advertising shift is taking place. However, the ultimate conclusion is that TV stations also need a viable online advertising strategy to snare their share of the online ad shift, because local newspapers are much more aggressive with online advertising than their broadcast counterparts.

Europe: Broadband is stealing TV viewers

That’s the conclusion reached in a study by UK-based research firm Strategy Analytics and reported in The Register. 56% of people in the study said they had cut down television viewing since subscribing to broadband.

David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics, acknowledged that TV will continue to have a place in the home, and won’t be entirely replaced by high-speed Internet, but the impact of broadband will nevertheless be dramatic.

TV companies have to pay heed to the Internet… they clearly have to look at the Web as a way to reach their audience,” he told ElectricNews.Net. “Putting TV content on the Web is probably not the best way go about things. A better strategy would be to develop new on-line content that people can interact with.”

20% of homes in Europe have broadband, and that is expected to increase to 41% by 2008.

The behavior of broadband Internet subscribers is the best predictor of the media future. They spend more time online and are much more likely to be consumers of Internet broadcasting (currently called “streaming”).