Friday, 6 July 2012

Rawporter. Citizen journalism spreads, news is changing. And you can make money from the comfort of your own phone.

It was only Tuesday that I blogged about the push for "citizen journalism" (bit of a misnomer) following the announcement of the deal between The Huff Post and UStream allowing ordinary folks to post news via their smartphone Huff Post U Stream deal.

And now along comes 'Rawporter' which again points to the new way in which news will be both gathered and consumed.

It's a simple enough idea (still in Beta). You download the App in itunes and off you go. Your footage is downloaded to the Rawporter website and is browsed by news outlets. If they use it, then Rawporter will pay you for your clips. You retain the rights to your footage and so you can use it on your own www or re-sell it.

Not having achieved funding (yet) they have pushed out their App to get things rolling and it's just not there yet. In fact, it doesn't really work - but it will. The issue will be whether they can survive the "turn off" from frustrated people at the start - still, it's another good idea.

There are also problems on the www with profile updates and so on. My view? better to have waited.

You could see how photographers would use Rawporter for example, but at the minute it's poorly executed. That does not take away from the concept.

Here's the note we got on joining so you get the drift.

Hello Streamabout,

Welcome to Rawporter.
Our simple smartphone Apps turn everyday people into an army of cameras on-location and on-demand, dramatically lowering the cost to get credible footage for media partners large and small.  In exchange for their videos and photos, our Rawporters get the cash and on-screen credit they deserve for simply putting their smartphones to work.

Looking for videos and photos? Click here to search our existing content, set alerts or send an assignment!
Want to sell your existing videos and photos? Click here to upload now. It doesn't have to be sensational to sell. Everything from fender benders to product reviews are in demand. Click here and see for yourself!

Content is king and on foot of the Murdoch News Corp shake up last week you'll note the quote from Rupert that "news is the most valuable commodity in the world".

In my blog of Tuesday I also pointed out the pitfalls of allowing some plonkers to just post news without it being a credible source.

Basically, CNN of all people, allowed direct access to their site and somebody posted that singer "Gotye" was dead. And he tweeted that nope, he wasn't.

That's the problem. Anybody can post anything.

Indeed, even Techcrunch had the same issue recently. 

Their co-editor deciding, after a bottle of wine or two, to post away unabated. And did she ever! Not a happy bunny at all, just read it.

But Rawporter will I presume, help moderate these stories.
That's why we need "journalists" in "citizen journalism".
The power is shifting, the provision of news is changing.

It's terrific in some ways, worrying in others.
Rawporter isn't it. But it's getting there.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Vanity Fair August article to add to pressure on Microsoft. CEO Steve Ballmer's window is closing.

This is Steve Ballmer. CEO of Microsoft. The man who took the reins from Bill Gates in 2009 when Gates stepped back. Hardly Steve Jobs now is he? Although I think he tries to be. I mean who came up with the track "get on your feet"? Kind of like playing "simply the best". Cringeville.

There's an awful lot of people having a go at Microsoft at the minute.
And it has to be putting immense pressure on CEO Steve Ballmer.
One wonders if he'll survive it and especially after an article in Vanity Fair due on the newsstands in August.

But they're having a go firstly, because it's the launch of Windows 8 coming up. Oh, didn't know? Exactly. And remember the excitement, the queues for 95.

Secondly, the acquisition of Yammer for 1.5 billion (yep, billion) of a company few of us ever heard of, and which earns little revenue, is being seen as a bizarre way of buying yourself onto the front pages. One way to get that Facebook/Instagram 1 billion limelight. I blogged about it here

The official Microsoft announcement photo two weeks ago, did little to help things too and here it is. Steve Ballmer and the Yammer boys looking like something from the 70's rather than the new leaders in Social Media. Shocking.

As an aside, interesting too that when you go onto the Microsoft news centre and search 'Yammer' - nothing comes up. So Microsoft could do with updating their site - which for Microsoft, is pretty poor.

Thirdly, Microsoft have just taken a 6.2 billion write down this week following their disaster purchase of digital network aquantive in 2007 - then the biggest deal in Microsoft history. The 8.5bn acquisition of Sykpe by Microsoft in 2011 beat it. And what exactly have they done with Skype? Nada. Looks the same to me except with higher prices and more advertising. Vision?

But this write-down, wipes out fourth quarter earnings and that will have a stock/investor issue, adding more pressure.

The acquisition was seen at the time, as a response to Google's acquisition of Doubleclick (with which I was involved in a small way in Ireland) because the Microsoft move came only a month later. Kind of a "anything you can do" thing. But one huge 6.2 billion loss.

Fourthly, the success of Apple has been one-in-the-eye for Microsoft and continues to be. Apple's iphone division alone is worth more than Microsoft. Here's the genius Steve Ballmer in 2007 on the iphone. "500 dollars for a phone? You're kidding".

I could post the video where he laughs off the ipad or indeed this next one where he's not a fan either of the Android phone from 2011. Jesus.

And of course he teamed up with Nokia...who've recently had their ratings cut to "junk status".
So "visionary" doesn't exactly spring to mind and the company is slowly disappearing into a morass. Yes I know about Bing and Xbox but this was THE dominant player worldwide that now is being, well, just eroded. 

But lastly, the real crowning glory this week is an article in Vanity Fair August edition which seems to slam work practices at Microsoft and makes the company totally uncool. This sort of publicity might be the straw that broke it because it will be hard for Ballmer to escape it. 

Sometimes publicity is the killer blow because it's so public.

Titled 'Microsoft's lost decade' it's written by well regarded scribbler, Kurt Eichenwald.

It's not on the newsstands yet, but Geekwire have seen a full copy and refer to it as "epic". In other words, explosive.

Forbes have referred to it as "a devastatingly destructive management technique at the heart of Microsoft’s problems" and others are calling the exposure "Microsoft's downfall".

Techcrunch don't have the story because when they asked for a preview, they were asked for a fax number to "fax it on over". Honestly. And they've written a good humorous piece on that......

The controversy, supported by interviews and emails collected, is about management style and creativity. Or lack of.

It's based around a work system for employees in Microsoft called 'stack ranking' where employees are rated from good to poor. And according to Eichenwald that meant that "Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees.” 

“If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

Which could well be the reason why the company under Ballmer, flounders.
Basically, it crippled the company and stifled innovation.

And from what I know it seemed to be a dreadful place to work which in itself is bizarre given the 'great places to work' awards Microsoft have achieved. I always wondered about those awards though, always did. I saw companies winning them who I knew to be dreadful.

But they were big companies who'd always take a table or two at the Awards dinner.

We'll see what happens when Vanity Fair comes out.
Watch out for the noise and watch out for Steve Ballmer.
Except it to be huge.
His window is closing. (sorry).

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Coke viral. This is just special. A must-see, 2.5m views already.

I'm sorry but I've nothing to add to this.
Go full screen (the little squares in the bottom right of the video) and turn up your sound, then play.

There's nothing to say except it's for Coke Latin America produced by Landia.
Supertramp Roger Hodgson's song who has tweeted that he loves it.

Like Coke, Hate Coke, it matters not. 2.5 million views, gone viral.
And it deserves to be passed on. Update today - has gone to 6m views.

(If you're interested in the way Google has brought Coke into the digital age, there's greatness here featuring creative Harvey "I'd like to teach the world to sing" Gabor. Well worth it.)

Every Agency has looked at using security camera video, but never like this.
We've looked at using youtube videos, but never like this.
We've even tried to look at developing good news, but no, never like this.

And this is my shortest blog ever.
It's not laziness.

It's because I'm in awe.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Citizen Journalism is spreading. Huffington Post + UStream sign a deal for democracy. And plenty of cash. Plus, just in, Gotye isn't dead.

No I haven't lost my mind. This is Gotye and apart from being a truly amazing song that I've come across in ages, it'll make sense when you read on. Honest Guv.

The news is changing and in fact yesterday's blog about Murdochs changes in splitting up News Corp, signifies that. But now we have citizen journalism.
Equally I blogged last week about
Now we have the announcement of The Huffington Post (second favoured Twitter newsfeed) teaming up with U Stream, to bring you citizen journalism. A bit of a misnomer because journalists they're not, but citizens they are.
Citizen journalism is now going to be the next wave as to how we consume news. Have no doubts about it. The concept of publishers with "on staff" journalists is changing. I note Pete Cashmore's comments on selling Mashable when he said he had 23 journalists but only "knew" 3. He meant that the others were remote and just filed copy.
Simply, everyone has a mobile phone and smartphones allow for easy transfer of pictures and video files. So if something is happening near you right now, it's easy for you to send it back to a publisher.
This Huff Post/U Stream deal is exclusive between them and will allow this "on the street" journalism to reach over 37 million monthly readers (comscore April 2012). It's pretty signficant but whilst cloaked in the language of "free society" and the "democracy" of news, make no bones about it, it will generate revenue through pre-roll advertising. 
If The Huff Post has 37 million uniques (visitors), its page impressions have to be 300m+. At 20 euro a thousand cpm, that's a lot of bread. 
Starting focus will of course be the Presidential US elections called "off the bus" and viewing will be dominated by mobile (it gets a mention everywhere these days!).
They'll also be running competitions to find out "journalist of the year" and so on, to encourage citizens to take part - but they won't be short of content - as well as training.
"Citizen journalism is increasingly democratizing the Internet with live Ustream news events playing an important role," said Brad Hunstable, CEO and co-founder of Ustream. "Our partnership with Huffington Post will further push forward this trend and or mission to enable anyone, anywhere to share their stories. By combining Huffington Post's world-class news reporting with Ustream's live video citizen journalism, viewers everywhere will now have a raw and unedited perspective of diverse voices on the world's most important events."
Indeed. And it will also generate lots of democracy cash.
The technology is done by way of an App making streaming instant and easy. Because the film is streamed back, phone confiscation by police won't matter either.
So this is the brave new world of Social journalism.
A competitor to online traditional publishing.
And in some ways, a step forward for digital media. However, there's dangers here too as The Mitt Romney image illustrates. Will The Huff Post shape democracy by being on one side? 
Now back to Gotye. Read this from Web Pro News, the other side of citizen journalism.
You can’t believe everything you see on the interwebs. That goes double for anything you see on a breaking news site that allows average Joes to post stories without the intervening hand of….well, anyone.

So, despite what you may have seen on Twitter, 32-year-old singer Wouter De Backer, better known as Gotye, is alive and well. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a victim. Gotye is a victim of the latest fake news generated/social media powered celebrity death hoax.
The story read that Gotye shot himself:
The story first popped up on CNN’s citizen journalism site iReport, which allows anyone and everyone to upload photos, videos, etc. without any sort of screening and fact-checking. Of course, the purpose of iReport is to give people a venue for breaking news from their own backyard – an interesting idea in theory. But, as you can see, if one “citizen journalist” goes rogue and starts a death rumor – it can spread pretty fast, partly because everyone sees the CNN logo and immediately gives the story more credibility.

At 4:32 AM EST, it was reported that Gotye had shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun. He was pronounced dead at 4:45 AM, and the investigation concluded that the cause of death was suicide. It was confirmed shortly after by family and friends. He was quickly taken to the Central Montmorency Hospital, but died from his injuries shortly after. His family has stated that they plan a closed funeral.

Gotye took to Twitter to refute the rumor:

The fact that celebrities are having to actually come out on Facebook and Twitter and tell the world that they actually aren’t dead is a testament to just how fast these death hoaxes can spread on social media. And they are becoming so prevalent these days that as a celeb, you’re just not cool unless Twitter has killed you.
The “CNN” tag on this story made it particularly potent, virally speaking. As always, the advice for social media users is simply this: double check before you share.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Murdoch splits his business's in two giving new media a new focus. This is a structure which traditional publishers should heed. He knows what he's doing.

(Jack Kennedy gets to meet Rupert Murdoch).

The split last week, of what is affectionately known as "the Murdoch empire" when in fact, Rupert Murdoch is a large but 40% minority shareholder, a business he inherited from his father, has really got attention. Sure, because of the recent phone hacking controversy but also because there's a sense that a sleeping giant has awoken. And when they do, run.

Last week he split News Corp into two - entertainment/media (includes 20th century Fox, Fox news) and print/publishing (includes The Sun, The Times, WSJ, New York post, HarperCollins etc). The entertainment business is valued at circa 50 billion usd alone.

In other words, splitting the businesses along the lines of old media and new but including in it a distinction between a published brand and an online one. In other words, two versions of the same title behaving differently if they're online and if they're offline. It's a simple idea that's just genius.

He knows what every publisher knows - there's life in traditional media but massive potential growth in their online brands. By separating out the two (indeed, exactly as the Irish Times have done here) gives new focus. He also knows that he can get it wrong and owned up to his "massive mistake" in the myspace investment, selling at 94% off his 6bn usd valuation and losing a small fortune. 

Separate offices, separate management, separate businesses means that the hacks of old can keep doing their thing, whilst the new turks can find a new way.

It is, the perfect thing for a publisher to do and does not spell a lack of confidence by Murdoch in his traditional business. Just a new focus.

According to Techcrunch he said clearly, "People will pay for news. It is the most valuable commodity in the world" and he pointed out that the charging models for newspapers and apps are working, “And we are going to push them even harder.”

In a similar vein of The Wall Street Journal/Pulse announcement earlier in the week and in contrast to the Flipboard/New York Times debacle the same week, what it all means is that there's new impetus to sort this all out.

The UK Times dropped its online paywall for the Queen’s Jubilee anniversary, the first time it’s done this since charges came into effect in 2010.

Those charges initially caused a 90 percent decline, a drop of 4 million users, but numbers have been steadily increasing since March 2011 and are now at 265,740 subscribers. So Murdoch might be right.

Talking to Charles Blandford of The Financial Times dublin, he reckons that 50% of the overall group revenue comes now from digital. 50%. Mind you, when it comes to live streaming, FT Digital were the first over the fence to become a separate business unit. And the first that we admired as being innovative live streamers.

On the Murdoch split, Sarah Gordon in the FT this Saturday reported, "the business's long-term growth prospects are cloudy...grappling with the challenge to make money in the digital world". And of course she's right. One way to grapple with it though is to do exactly as he's done, run both separately.

I've blogged before about the decline of TV Advertising and the movement of ad dollars online

And I've also blogged about BBC Research recently that shows that online publishing is more popular than real world 

Indeed in a week where most large Irish publishers suffered annual research which showed massive declines in circulation, none of this will come as any surprise. All this is, is further evidence of the switch to digital versions, so let's not panic. And as the Irish publishers continue to wrestle with the problem, they're making great strides in getting there. Trust me.

One way to deal with it is the Murdoch way.
Leave the boys who know what they've been doing for years, alone to get on with it.

But get people who understand the space to look at your web assets and get on with that. Keeping them both apart.

And in doing that, you protect what you have before someone comes along and steals your lunch. And you have traditional media mouthpieces to get it all out there.

It's a threat. Turned into an opportunity.
Murdoch gets it.