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Reflections after ’Constructive Media’ at #Rebuild21

I  participated in the great Rebuild21 conference in Copenhagen yesterday in a panel about ’Constructive Media’. What is was, why news media do it and what they can do more.

To me constructive media is doing more than just reporting. It is also giving advice on how to act, if you feel like it. And it is also engaging and collaboring with the audience. And yes, it could be practised much more.

However, I believe the real burning questions pointing forward is how traditional media can be more constructive with the new players like Facebook.

Many people who join journalism do it because they have a idealistic mission wanting to change the world to the better. Yes, honestly, that is the dream of many journalists.

When the newspapers had a close-to-monopoly on the word and a thriving businessmodel – until the end of the last century – they did use a great part of all the money they made to finance idealistic journalism. With more and more pressure on the business model, too much journalism has turned into superficial untrustworthy fast breaking journalism where it was more about being first on the web than being thorough.

Today, there are still many journalists with idealistic missions. But it is expensive to pay people to dig into research and translate it into something understandable. In the future, journalists (and everybody can call themselves that) need help from the crowds to do quality journalism. But they also need help from those ’frameworks’ who took the better part out of the thriving business models, especially huge tech companies like Google and Facebook. Google today sits on half of all digital advertising in Denmark, Facebook is growing fast. They are both brilliant companies who did great innovations, and thanks for that.

But will the Googles and the Facebooks in the future spend some of their big money on producing quality content? Google has already shown signs it will. AdWords – revenue sharing with partners is one little sign. YouTube is doing the same with media channels – sharing ad revenues with the content producers and they’ve also started paying content producers directly for documentaries. But Facebook – what are they doing. Nada. Many will say they provide traffic. Yes, so does Google and many many others, but traffic today is not enough to finance quality journalism.

Commercial media houses of the future have to accept that they will make much much less money compared to what they did in the past. Journalists will be paid much lower –if paid. It is a fact that is hard to accept.

But if we, as a society, want quality (including constructive) journalism – both from commercial and publicly financed media (which I believe is a good mix) – from people who can make it (journalists, bloggers, experts etc) we have to pay them for it. It won’t just happen, and they need to have an organisation behind them. It is very hard, if not impossible, to reveal politicians and companies doing wrong (the number of journalists in Danske Bank for example is higher than on Berlingskes national desk). Individuals can’t do that alone, they need back-up. In courts and legal fights. In media discussions etc.

So, let’s hope that the Facebooks in the future will help finance content production. Even though it is not a thriving business anymore.

Great Stories from and about New and Old Media February 2012

I’ve collected some of the most interesting stories this month concerning media trends.

The Tech Business is Hiring Journalists
The social network, Tumblr, with 42 mio participants just hired 2 reporters to cover the world of Tumblr. Other tech companies are doing the same; they don’t only hire journalists to traditional communication jobs but to other journalistic jobs. Facebook recently hired a managing editor to create in-house content. The social magazine, who aggregates content from others, also hired an editor from Time Inc. So instead of only making money on others’ content (which is a great business model) they start doing a little themselves.

Companies Move Ad Money from Traditional Media to Social Media
Procter and Gamle is laying off 1600 staffers – including marketers. The company said that Facebook and google are more efficient (read cheaper) than traditional media that usually eats the lion’s share of P&G’s ad budget.
P&G has been highly successful with their Old Spice virtual YouTube video campaign.
See also here how Nike is moving money from TV and print to social:

Are Aggregation and Curation Journalism?
Depends on who you ask. And this blogger believes that curation and aggregation does a lot of good for original journalism. The problem is, that traffic from a blogger’s site – summarizing the story – is not enough to sustain original journalism. Therefor ‘old’ media is often of another opinion.

New Institute for Media Innovation
Two of the high-profile US universities, Stanford and Columbia (where I graduated in 1995) are establishing an Institute for Media Innovation in order to bridge the gap between journalism and technology and encourage collaboration between the two disciplines.

50 Great Blogs in Journalism and Communications
Understanding everything from the latest in telecom and publishing gadgets to social media to speech therapy and pathology many of these 50 blogs are great. Among my personal favorites: 1, 5, 22, 28 and 32. But two great ones are missing: mondaynote.com and newsosaur.blogspot.com.

New Sharing Trends
Selective sharing, frictionless sharing,sharing of discounts, more personlized sharing etc. Read about sharing trends and see infographic about it below. One question about what people will share in the future, the answer is: Personal milestones, travel plans (which is stupid as you might get robbed), ticket purchases (also stupid) and charitable donations.

News Show Up The Least Expected Places
A lot of media consumers get their news incidentally. News pop up suddenly in the middle of ‘nowhere’. Suddenly a headline catches you and you are reading a news story. More and more readers get their news like this. Read about 4 types of news readers, the avid, the avoiders, the encounteres and the crowd surfers.

The conflict between new and old journalism
This blog, the Pando Daily, was founded very recently. Read the founders thoughts behind the blog from the link below. The founder was editor at TechChrunch, one of the most influential sites in the tech industry until a year ago. The decline happened when it was sold to AOL and when the founder Michael Arrington was fired because he openly was covering start-ups which he was investing money in as well. He wrote it as a disclamer but the old media industry (New York Times) critisized it heavily – you cannot do that in the old industry. Many bloggers believe that is okay to do almost everything, as long as you disclaim it. The whole discussion can be read here at Monday Note, and it really is worth a read. The question is whether the old media industry’s ethical guidelines are out-of-date. However, Pando Daildy founder writes this: Another note on conflicts: I won’t be investing directly in startups, nor will the staff-writers of PandoDaily. But we have plenty of contributors and opinion columnists who do, because frequently those people are informed enough to write the best stuff. And that’s no different from the policies of many old media brands like BusinessWeek and Fortune who’ve paid investors to write opinions and columns for years. News is news, but great opinion pieces are supposed to have bias and a point-of-view.
So in some ways, old media standards are still due.

3 Cool Media Start-Ups
ProPublica No discussion about cool, new things happening in the news world would be complete without mentioning ProPublica. Who can’t love a Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom that claims to “produce investigative journalism in the public interest?” While most web newsrooms are aggregators that re-tell stories, ProPublica is actually finding facts and telling compelling stories.
Spot.us. In the digital age, it’s easy to recognize what stories people want to read – Facebook shares, page views, and retweets are good indications of popularity. But Spot.us takes people’s power one step further by enabling people to literally pay for the stories they want told. The website says it’s about “community powered reporting.” The way it works is that citizens can pitch stories and fund stories, and the stories that meet their fundraising goal are picked up by freelance journalists. Think Kickstarter for stories.
Cowbird. With a mission to promote participatory, citizen journalism, Cowbird focuses on the human stories that lie behind major news events. The stunning website on the surface looks like it’s about letting people keep photographic personal diaries, but it’s more about documenting the many perspectives of news events, such as the “Occupy Saga.” While it might not be changing the way we consume or create news stories, Cowbird surely will change the way we reflect on the ‘sagas’ of the past.

Video Streaming Getting More Competition
Americans are getting more and more video streaming sercices which is disrupting the cable tv-model.
Now, Verizon and Redbox have teamed up on a service allowing consumers to rent physical DVDs and stream movies via the Internet. Any broadband customer, even if are outside the Verizon FiOS network, will have access to the new service, said Paul Davis, chief executive of Coinstar Inc., the company that operates the Redbox self-service DVD rental locations.
Redbox has 35,400 kiosks at convenience stores, in some McDonald’s and grocery and drugstores nationwide. Verizon has more than 100 million wireless customers and nine million broadband subscribers.
“It’s the best of both the physical and the digital,” Mr. Davis said in an interview.
This service will compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Wal-Mart’s Vudu service, though none of them offer DVD rentals as Netflix and this one.

Publish Less But More Original
Such is the mantra from Salon.com one of the first media-web-entrepreneuers ever. And after they did that, they saw an increase in traffic: In December and January, Salon published 33 percent fewer posts than it had in those same months the previous years — but it saw 40 percent greater traffic.
Salon is now making a u-turn. Much less aggregation, much more original. In coming months, we can expect to see more resources devoted to Salon’s campaign coverage, new bylines from freelancers who can devote time to in-depth reporting projects, and a site redesign.

Content Marketing on the Rise
’Articles’ are one of the most used ways of creating content marketing, a buzz word at the moment. Coca Cola and American Express are doing it and more and more follow. They are doing what the media industry is doing;creating more and more unique great content in stead of traditionel marketing. News (articles), tips, videos, slideshows and infographics are their tools.

It ‘MATTER’s 
A new start-up on the great www.kickstarter.com go all its financing within 38 hours. And MATTER is about journalism. Pure great original journalism. Not curation, not aggregation, not copy/paste. One long form story every week. I am looking forward to that.

The Conflict Between New and Old Journalism

This blog, the Pando Daily, was just founded. It looks great. But it also make me think of the conflict between old and new media.

The founder, Sarah Lacy,  was once the editor at TechChrunch, one of the most influential sites in the tech industry until pretty recently. The decline in influence happened, when it was sold to AOL and when the founder Michael Arrington was fired or let go, because he openly was covering start-ups which he was investing money in as well. He wrote it as a disclamer but the old media industry (New York Times) critisized it heavily – you cannot do that in the old industry. You have to be completely independent from economic interests. A great trustworthy principle.

Many bloggers believe that is okay to go further than old-time-journalists, as long as you disclaim it.

The whole discussion can be read here in another great blog, The Monday Note. The author calls it ‘soft corruption’. It is really worth a read.

The question is whether the old media industry’s ethical guidelines are out-of-date.

However, Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy writes:

Another note on conflicts: I won’t be investing directly in startups, nor will the staff-writers of PandoDaily. But we have plenty of contributors and opinion columnists who do, because frequently those people are informed enough to write the best stuff. And that’s no different from the policies of many old media brands like BusinessWeek and Fortune who’ve paid investors to write opinions and columns for years. News is news, but great opinion pieces are supposed to have bias and a point-of-view.

So in some ways, old media standards are still due. Let’s watch this development close.

No Updates Before, During and After My Party

On my next party invitation following will be printed:

I love social media. I post to Twitter every single day and to Facebook (in another name) and Google+ very often. I keep grooming my LinkedIn. I use Quora and I try out almost every new social network comming along.

For me it is not a question of abstaining, it is a must to participate. You have to participate in order not to handicap yourself.

However, I want to controle my info myself.

I, and only I, decide what to be posted about me and when and where. That’s why I really don’t like Facebook’s tagging-service. It is eliminating our right to controle our own info.

I see a horrible trend: That people take pictures at parties and public places of others and post them to Facebook without getting the permission of the persons they took pictures of. It is a bad habit. It is invading my definition of privacy, and I will ask all my guests in the future not to tag me or my guests, while they are guests in my home.

A Facebook-free-party-zone is what is needed.

Happy New Year

Why Businesses Should Hesitate To Embrace Facebook

When the Danish national election was announced late August, the tabloid B.T. got a great idea. On its very busy website, bt.dk, it asked it many users to either to like the left-winged (red block) or the rigth-winged (blue block). There was a clear Facebook-logo on the newspaper website, so you knew that you’d go to a Facebook group, if you liked either or.

In other words, B.T. recruited users from it own website to go to one of their two new Facebook groups.

Within days the two groups exploded with users.

30.000 users on blue, and 20.000 on red. That is a lot of users in little Denmark.

And then it was all over. Facebook suddely closed the two sites. Just like that. Without notice. Without any explanation.

A couple of days later, I met the Nordic Facebook represenative, Jan Christensen, in Copenhagen and asked him why. He said that he couldn’t tell exactly why, but that he guessed that it was becuase B.T. had not clearly stated that these groups were created by B.T.

I explained that B.T. recruited the likes from its own website, and that it posted information on the group info that it was made by www.bt.dk. He said that the B.T. logo – like any other commercial logos – should be clear on top of the first group page.

I asked him, if B.T. could correct this and have Facebook re-open the groups, and he said he could not help here, but that B.T. should contact Facebook in the US. I asked him, what that would take, and he confirmed that it would probably take weeks to get through to Facebook – if possible at all. So much for this election, it would then be all over.

No doubt B.T. could have done this better. But opposite a traditionel website, Facebook has become the one to decide everything, and Facebook obviously exercise its power. Facebook can close you down just like that. Nobody can do that on the open web – not just like that.

Facebook does not want to share

The other day I was in a public debate with a Facebook representative from Scandinavia. He was taking a picture of one of my slide, so I said that he would of course get my slides afterwards.

Just like we will get your slides afterwards, rigth,” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Facebook never give out slides to the public”.

So much for sharing from a company that is build on sharing.

Needed: Several Identities to Protect your Original

There are so many good reasons as to why you should operate with several identities online and protect your original. Personal data is a gold mine and will be even more worth in the future. With the free web, companies have to make money, and one way is to mine personal data from the web, organize it and resell it like this company,  Social Intelligence.

According to the New York Times, Social Intelligence scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years. Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.

Of course this is happening. All over and again and again, and nobody – neither the lawmakers – can stop it. Therefore, as an individual you need to protect yourself and controle your own information. Unless of course you want a 100% public life like Jeff Jarvis who is writing a book, Public Parts, about it. I think the vision of being totally open, and that everybody in the whole world should be totally open, is beautiful. It is, however, utopia. I am sure that there will always be people and companies out there who will exploit private and sensitive information, and that information can become distorted and you can do nothing about that.Who says you don’t have a racist name sister?

I have nothing to hide. Nothing. But I believe it is a priviledge to have privacy, to be anonymous and to controle your own private information, and if you care for that,  you should protect your original identity.

One way of doing it is to have more identities. You could have another name on Facebook for example (I wrote about that before here) or other social networks, who motivates you to reveal private parts, and then only use your real identity when it comes to official and work information. You’ll need several email accounts for that, and you’ll need to remember many passwords, but there is an answer for that: 1password as an app for the iphone and ipad or for the web.

I think I will work on a book on that. How to safeguard you original identity. Do email me with ideas for this. Do you know of people whose original identity was stolen and abused? Do you have ideas as to how to controle your own informations (like this new start-up personal.com). Do let me know.

 

French Television Stops Promoting Facebook – Danish Continues

It is probably too strict banning any mention of Facebook on French television –  to avoid giving other social networks unfair competition.

But being more conscious about vivid promotion of the super commercial network trading our private information is very clever.

In Denmark, unfortunately, we face the complete opposite situation.

At the Danish state-funded radio and televison, DR, they constantly mention Facebook. They encourage us to discuss everything on Facebook, so we hear it again and again after each radio and television programme… Find us on Facebook.

Constantly saying ‘Facebook’ on broadcast tv and radio is definitely a problem. It is giving Facebook too much free advertising, and at the same time giving the network a creditibility label, it does not deserve.

In other words, Danish DR is pushing more and more Danes over to Facebook or activating us on Facebook – a commercial network who makes a living on selling our private information to others. There is NO transparency, we have NO idea what information they sell about us.

FB lives under a personal data law in the US which is much much looser than the one in Denmark and Europe, so if a Danish company did the same as Facebook, collecting private information, it would probably be stopped by our consumer ombudsman.

I’ve been interviewed on DR about this topic in January, where DR acknowledged the problem, and later DR’s ombudsmand Jacob Mollerup also critisized DR being to uncritical towards Facebook.

DR has said it would stop the massive promotion of Facebook, but now we are in June 2011, and we still constantly hear it.

Combating Facebook

The state and the media should throw money after a Danish discussion network rather than surrender completely to Facebook, so knowledge of Danes are in Denmark and the Danes can debate protected under European Personal Data

I am skeptical about Facebook. From both a societal and a media standpoint and especially from the civil point of view. Facebook has been a game changer, has created a sensational new ingenious tools and has been the standard bearer for the spread of social media, which I salute loudly. But there are many good reasons why we – including media companies – now should put a heavy foot on the brake, think anew and act differently. Denmark is among the countries in the world who has the most Facebook users in proportion to population. There are three reasons, I believe:

1) No Danish companies have been good enough to develop a good alternative. They have in Japan where there are three other big networks with 20 million users each and Facebook with less than two million users.

2) Danish media have promoted Facebook completely uncritical. Especially the state-owned Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

3) Facebook has only to follow U.S. law. If a Danish company had tried the same thing under European law, it had been stopped by the Data Inspectorate.

Yes, Facebook has been an invaluable tool for democracy struggle in Egypt. And in many other countries. But it’s also Twitter. And Flickr. And YouTube. And Google. And many other brilliant digital tools. Yes, we should be where the Danes are, and that is mainly on Facebook. It’s true. But we should not be naive and completely surrender to Facebook without thinking about long-term alternatives.

Unreasonable Conditions

Unlike many other tools, Facebook leaves us with completely unreasonable conditions to participate in its network. As an individual you give up all your rights to the content you put on Facebook. Facebook requires of you at signup that you waive your right to your own content. Facebook is therefore entitled to sell everything about you – including photos – to third parties without having to get your consent to it – because you’ve given it in advance by creating an account. This is where the American Privacy Act is much looser than the European Personal Data Law which requires so-called active consent before reselling information to third parties. So, that 7 out of 10 Facebook users are worried about their privacy is completely justifiably.

As a media company, you entrust the copyright to your and your employees’ content to Facebook, and when users discuss your content inside of Facebook rather than on your own site, you give away information about your customers and your potential customers. How should you eventually be better at serving your clients when it’s Facebook, not you, who knows what they want?

Finally, the society also has a problem. Roughly speaking, Facebook today knows more Danes than we do through CPR registry or other public databases – except perhaps from taxation and health information. If we get there, why do we have European laws designed to protect personal data?

We should get together

Arto – a Danish network – is losing more and more users to Facebook. The Norwegian Nettby from VG, which otherwise was densely populated, closed because it gave up to Facebook.

Isen’t it about time that Danish media got together and created an alternative? Yes, the state could help. The state could throw 100 million kroner in the network annually and help create a viable discussion forum for the Danes, so we could keep our personal data under a law that our democracy has created. Then there was perhaps also a chance that Facebook doesn’t grab the other half of the digital advertising dollars that Google has already led out the country.

We have not been good enough to beat Facebook, a greatly innovative company. And we never will. But we can certainly try.

Anyhow, I strongly recommend doing as I have done it, though it is against Facebook’s guidelines (or shall we call it Facebook-law) that says that you must operate under your real name. Create a pseudonym on Facebook, so Facebook can not connect your data and actions in the network up to your true identity (In Japan, the users also use pseudonyms on social networking sites). It will protect you – although you still have to be careful with what you send out the web of sensitive personal information. And your friends will probably remember your fake name, anyway.

PS I wonder whether the news media could not work more closely with Facebook rather than simply use their bid to generate traffic. Yes, it would be a good idea, if Facebook would. I went to Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco in May 2010 and asked them whether they had plans to make revenue sharing with media companies like Google does with their search tools. The answer was no.

PPS I’m using my real name on Twitter (@ Pernille), but Twitter is not a network that ask you to use it private and personal purposes.

What Are Your Business Model, Start-Up?

In the wake of the digitalization of newspaper products, traditional media companies are looking for new business models. Lots and lots of start-ups within the media business have been praised for their innovative approaches. Examples are Skype, Huffington Post and True Slant – even MySpace was once a role model for social media.

However, many start-up don’t really have an economically viable business model. And that does not really show, before they are bought by a huge company and forced into excel spreadsheets.

Yes, Google managed to make YouTube profitable. Congratulations.

But what about Skype, based on the free-model, bought by Ebay, MySpace bought by New Corporation, and AOL bought by Time Warner?

After 7 years, Skype is still looking for revenues. MySpace is loosing pace. Shortly after AOL was bought by Time Warner in 2001, AOL’s growth started to slow. In 2009 Time Warner and AOL separated, and now AOL bought Huffington Post, whose business model is based on people blogging for free. Now, of course, these bloggers will demand pay. And will HuffPost then continue being that great new media venture?

Another praised start-up was True Slant, which business model was based on writers being paid by clicks. But most writers got their salary from traditional media companies, and now True Slant has been bought by Forbes who is trying to implement the low-low-wage-model to the corporation.

Corporate sclerosis
It is hard to foresee the future. But the trend is that those start-ups, who do make it, with a viable business model, sooner or later grow into a big corporation suffering fro corporate sclerosis. That is AOL, Ebay and Google. So, before spitting out millions of dollars on new ventures in the future, it is dead important to go after start-ups, who has actually proven an economically viable business model. No wonder that Groupon after two years was valued 6 mio us dollar.