Making money in new media

HOW long do you support a losing website? Two years? Three? Five?

Failing is okay so long as you fail fast, Inquirer director for mobile JV Rufino said in a forum last Monday held as part of this year’s Press Freedom Week celebration.

Speed is even more crucial on the Internet, where one year zips by in just six months. Running a losing website for five years is akin to running a brick-and-mortar business for 10 years.

Fail fast, fail often and learn from these failures to build better products, Rufino said in the forum organized by Cebu Daily News, “Where is Journalism in the Digital World?”

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The sky isn’t falling

(Here’s my closing remarks at the Online Campus Journalism Seminar and Workshop held by Smart for campus journalists in Cebu.)

Twelve years ago, a group of journalists, writers and artists in Cebu decided to form a cooperative and publish a different type of community newspaper. The Independent Post was a paper that was to be owned by its readers, who were to have a big influence on how the paper was run.

We set on in that quixotic enterprise with a couple of millions, big dreams and a lot of hard work.

But, it was the height of the Asian economic crisis. We burned through whatever funding we had but still tried to hold on to that grand dream of blazing a journalism trail, working hard for little or no pay.

In two years, the paper folded. Big dreams, instant noodles and hard, hard, hard work were not enough.

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How to use WordPress to run a magazine, news website

WordPress is a great tool for online writers. It’s simple and yet is such a pleasure to use. Yes, there are things that need to be improved but WordPress being an open source software, you can expect continuous improvements on it by the community.

The ease by which sites can be created and run through blogging software like WordPress allow writers previously without publishers to print their works online. The problem with using a blogging software to manage your website, however, is that the tool defines the character of your site.

Once in a while, I see blogs that seem better off presented as online magazines or news websites rather than as blogs.

WordPress, however, is an extensible website content management system that can be used to run magazine-type websites. Here are steps I took to turn this online magazine on Cebu from a blog into its current presentation. I’m still working on it, though, so you might encounter issues. (Update Jan. 9, 2008: I have redesigned the site. It’s now using an even better theme that I’m still working on. I will be releasing this theme soon.)

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CEGP seminar: putting campus newspapers online

Among the things that I’m really passionate about is encouraging student publications to go online. Not only is online publication cheaper than dead-tree publishing, it’s also very easy to pull off right now because of the existence of easy-to-use content management systems.

Online campus journalism also allows student publications to go beyond the one-issue-every-few-months-or-so publication cycle typical of campus papers.

I discussed online journalism with members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines yesterday and I was a bit surprised that in a group of 20 plus participants, only two have blogs. I had expected more bloggers in the group, in fact I assumed more than half would have blogs.

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Listing of top Philippine news sites

The government-owned Philippine News Agency listed yesterday the top mainstream Philippine news websites based on Netcraft ranking. The data is taken from browsing habits of users of the Netcraft toolbar. I don’t know how big and representative that user base is.

I also don’t know how PNA compiled the list, I tried looking for a listing of the top Philippine sites in Netcraft but couldn’t find one. There’s a listing of the most visited websites with site rank scores but this isn’t grouped by countries and there isn’t even a link to succeeding pages. You can also get the site ranking when you do a web server query in Netcraft. I don’t know if you can access the list if you have the Netcraft toolbar, which I don’t (I hate toolbars-except for the web developer toolbar for Firefox).
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MediaShift goes live

Update your blogrolls and RSS feed readers, PBS MediaShift is now live. The blog is run by journalist Mark Glaser, who previously wrote a column for Online Journalism Review of the USC Annenberg School of Communication. He also writes the OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association.

MediaShift “is a weblog that will track how digital media technologies and techniques such as weblogs, RSS, podcasting, citizen journalism, wikis, news aggregators and video repositories are changing our world. It will tell stories of how the shifting media landscape is changing the way we get our news and information, while also providing a place for public participation and feedback.”

Journalists who dont yet ‘get’ blogs

Journalism consultant Paul Conley describes three groups of journalists based on their awareness on blogging. The first group, which he describes as the “bright and ambitious,” has a good understanding of web logs and ‘at least a passing understanding of the fundamental shifts in media.’

The second group, Conley writes, ‘consists of people who don’t understand a thing about conversational editorial, but think that they do.’ He says these people demonstrate ‘shockingly low levels of curiosity.’ Conley says that if a publishers convinces someone from this group to blog, ‘all you’ll get is a poorly written column that appears in reverse chronological order.’ The blog, he says, ‘won’t be conversational.’

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The I-pod of reading

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, according to this story, is optimistic on the future of online magazines. “He predicts a dedicated device will be created within the next several years that will be used for reading electronic-based editorial content.”

“We’re waiting for the iPod of reading. Someones going to invent it. And when that happens that’s going to be a huge advantage to us,” Weisberg told This Is Not A Blog, a webzine produced by the Digital Journalism class of New York University.

I don’t know about the chances of a “dedicated device” for reading maybe there’s a better chance for bigger screen music players or next generation PDAs (with music players) with better support for PDF and not those proprietary e-book formats.

Another interesting point in the story is that Slate editors “learned early on that most people dont like reading long articles online. If a story requires more than 1,000 words, it is usually broken into installments.” Read the full article here.

Why mainstream media don’t get it

There are articles that make you nod your head all the time you�d fear getting stiff neck. I just read and reread one an hour ago. It’s by Bob Cauthorn and it discusses blogging by mainstream media. The article sums up, in an acerbic tone, how most mainstream media outlets fail to understand blogging.

Some of the points in the article were points I’ve already raised before, including in this discussion in Abe Olandres’ site on what constitutes a blog. There are people who complain that at times, my letters or memos can be harsh but boy do I wish I could write like Cauthorn.

Now, Cauthorn is one guy you should listen to. Not only are his writings sensible, he is also (for people who do not weigh arguments based on its merits but on the so-called curriculum vitae of the proponent—isn’t this a fallacy of authority?): the former vice president of digital media at the San Francisco Chronicle and the third recipient of the Newspaper Association of America’s prestigious Digital Pioneer Award. More importantly, he “is generally considered to have delivered the first profitable newspaper web site in 1995.”

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