Somtimes a bumpersticker is better than a blog

Chris Shipley writes on her experience trying to use blogs to move opinions and gain awareness on a local political issue. Conclusion? For local politics, the old methods do work better, for now.

And in the last week, my No On Q blog has had 178 hits, six comments, zero trackbacks. In that same time, I’ve received no fewer than eight pieces of mail in support of Measure Q and four postcards from the No headquarters. More yard signs on both sides of the issue are going up around my neighborhood. I’ve reached more people leaving No On Q pamphlets at Starbucks in the morning.

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Google News Forever in Beta

Why has Google News been in Beta for three years? Because as soon as they try and place ads on the Google News pages to monetize the traffic, they’ll be hit with a barrage of cease & desist letters from publishers around the world says Wired’s Adam Penenberg.

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This story has legs

This week’s Time Magazine has Dan Rather on the cover with the title, "Who Owns the Truth" which should be a page-turner for anyone in the blogging industry. Previously and editor for The New Republic, now a brand name blogger, Andrew Sullivan writes a piece in which concludes that the ecosystem of old media and the "pajamahadeen" bloggers is really a beneficial one:

Does this mean the old media is dead? Not at all. Blogs depend on the journalistic resources of big media to do the bulk of reporting and analysis. What blogs do is provide the best scrutiny of big media imaginable—ratcheting up the standards of the professionals, adding new voices, new perspectives and new facts every minute. The genius lies not so much in the bloggers themselves but in the transparent system they have created. In an era of polarized debate, the truth has never been more available. Thank the guys in the pajamas. And read them.

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Cracking open the nut

In contrast to my earlier post, The Guardian writes about the benefits of online versions of old media outlets (in this instance the Wall Street Journal) opening up their subscription walls to bloggers in order to drive up interest (and ad banner traffic) on their sites. Here is an instance where the “meme-of-the-moment” culture of the blogosphere can nicely compliment the veracity and reputation of the old guard which can act like as a reference point for the ongoing debate.

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Old Media: Beacon or Servant?

Over on Due Diligence, Tim Oren posts a lengthy but well-worth it read summarizing the conundrum old media faces as it’s 350 year old business model is chipped away by the superior flexibility and reach of digital media indexed by search engines and distributed by RSS. The business proposition of subscription bundles to both the reader and the advertiser break down and economics drive both towards spot purchases which favor the more nimble new media organizations that don’t have to pay for expensive production and distribution as does old media.

A subscription is a bundle of a different sort. It combines multiple transactions into one by collapsing them in time. It therefore adds a futures element to the transaction. More so than the spot transaction of buying a single item, trust becomes an issue. The purchaser is betting that the supplier will be reliable in the future and, in the case of a media periodical, continue to deliver a collection of content of value. . .

If the subscriber observes that the value of the content delivered is decaying over time, either absolutely or compared to competitive sources, then a renewal becomes less likely – the futures bargain no longer works. If this is widely true of a subscriber base, then churn (lost subscribers) will be increasing over time. To keep the revenue line stable, the subscribers must be replaced, incurring subscriber acquisition costs. Since every new subscriber’s choice is made in the context of competitive options, including spot purchase as an alternative, the per-subscriber acquisition costs may be rising at the same time. At the point where discounted future value of a subscriber, given churn, becomes less than acquisition costs, the business model that looked like a reliable cash spinner is suddenly upside down. All that is left is to milk the existing subscriber base as it decays.
Dissecting the Media: Trust and Transactions

As my father would say, nothing beats the look and feel of a newspaper as a physical experience. Are we entering a world where the newspaper or magazine is something you pick up as a luxury item to browse over your morning coffee (on those days when you have the time) and no one can afford to subscribe regularly? Will the paper boy become a quaint figure of day’s gone by like those jockey boys people find on the suburban lawns?