SAY: Week in Review 1/31

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For the past week, the world media has been consumed by the ongoing protests in Egypt. As it was during the uprisings in Tunisia, the role of social media in the Egyptian protests has been a subject of much debate. One can't help shake the feeling that we are experiencing a watershed moment in history, where the power of decentralized, real-time networked communication (as put by GigaOm’s Matthew Ingram) is inextricably linked to the power and will of the people and leveraged as an essential tool in global political activism.

Moving away from the political arena, few stories dominated the media geek news cycle more than the release (and subsequent lukewarm reviews) of News Corp.’s The Daily, the first daily updated news publication produced specifically for the iPad. According to Mark Coddington of Nieman Journalism Lab, “Much of the ‘meh’ was directed at lackluster content, as reviewer after reviewer expressed similar sentiments: 'a general-interest publication that is not generally interesting' (The Columbia Journalism Review); 'Murdoch’s reinvention of journalism looks a lot like the one before it' (Macworld); 'fairly humdrum day-old stories that you might read in, well…a regular old printed newspaper' (Mathew Ingram); 'little [of Murdoch's money], it appears, has been invested in editorial talent' (Mashable); 'barely brings digital journalism into the late 20th century, much less the 21st” (Mark Potts).'"

However, according to SAY Media’s own Michael Sippey, “…it's patently unfair to judge a daily product after just one day of use. But I want to note all of these things now, mostly as a milestone to note later how the product grows...and how it grows on me.”

Finally, in the world of paid-content, The New York Times isn’t releasing details of its paywall plan just yet, but it is fixing technological glitches with the system right now. However, many industry pundits are skeptical of the pay-wall's future success. According to a recent article by MediaWeek's Mike Shields:

"...industry observers say that the appetite for pay walls has diminished significantly as the economy has improved and social media has become increasingly crucial in spreading Web content. 'The thinking is you need to be part of the online conversation,” said Benedict Evans, an analyst at the U.K.-based Enders Analysis. 'You can’t give readers a taste of content with a pay wall.'

Plus, a consensus seems to have emerged that most online readers just won’t pay. 'It’s tough to add a pay wall. The market is so competitive,' said Peer Schneider, svp of content publishing at News Corp.’s IGN Entertainment, which began charging for access during the dot-com collapse, only to see traffic suffer. 'There are very few sites that do something that’s special enough to pay for. And if you charge for some content, you create the perception that the site isn’t open to everyone.”'

Thus companies like the Times and News Corp. have shifted their focus to the iPad—where the belief is consumers are more open to paying for apps. Meanwhile on the Web, the hope is to pull in secondary revenue from high consumption readers. 'That’s smart,' said Jim Spanfeller, CEO of the Spanfeller Group. 'The problem is you penalize your biggest users.'"