Dec 9, 2009

4 projects received seed funding in Jeff Jarvis' Entrepreneurial Journalism class at CUNY

Jeff and I just participated on a jury for Jeff Jarvis' Entrepreneurial Journalism class at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. There were 15 presentations by the students in the class. Their assignment was to shape a business idea, including an elevator pitch, a needs statement, market research & analysis, competitive analysis, a product plan, a revenue plan, a marketing/distribution plan, a operations plan, and a launch plan. Our assignment was to evaluate the business ideas and to decide as a group to which ideas we would give some seed funding from a pool of money, how much and what deliverables.

Overall, we were impressed by the level of passion, time and effort that the students poured into their ideas. Moreover, these were journalism students with a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit. It's a positive sign for the future of the media industry.

Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to reveal the ideas themselves, but the ideas were varied and demonstrated the creativity by which the students approached the assignment. Of course, there were ideas that seem to be more viable as businesses than others... but there were also other factors involved in the group's decision, such as leadership, management, and execution capabilities of the students.

In the end, the jury decided to split the pool of money among 4 projects. There were of course other projects that merited some level of funding, but unfortunately as in the "real" world, our pool of money was limited, and we needed to select the "best". We will also mentor some finalists and offer office space to provide a place to further shape their businesses.

As I mentioned to a journalist from The Telegraph who was covering the event, I was very excited to be a part of the jury. We are huge proponents of listening to ideas from the "younger" generation and connecting that drive, passion and creativity with the expertise of experienced professionals who are willing to vet, help and nurture those ideas and individuals. Our company loves to provide internships to listen and learn from the "younger" generation about their vision, needs and ideas about the future of media.

Oct 20, 2009

Unique audience for newspapers going down (and a lot) according to Google trends... and not only in the US

What is really going on with newspaper sites?

I was doing some research for a client of ours about unique visitor trends for newspaper sites. I had in mind some Nielsen numbers (US). So, I was thinking that things were pretty good. Even, and you know that, if I have MUCH doubt about the accuracy of their numbers.

So, doing my research, I found this interesting post "Visualizing the decline of the destination web, the rise of the social web". A post that tries to demonstrate that brand destination sites are at risk and are losing audience. The guy is using a tool that we use too: Google Trends labs. A tool that measure essentially part of the audience of a site from Google. You type the URL of a site (like:, in my example) and you have a good idea about traffic trends for the site. Then, for more details, you can click at the bottom on "Get more information..." (ie: nytimes). You're in Google Ad Planner.

So, I decided to check on traffic for some newspapers in the US. I was VERY surprised.

For example, since the October 2008 election and according to the tool, the NYT has lost more than half of its UV from Google. They are even way below its traffic in July 2007.

Then I did the same for 10 other ones (click on their name to see the Google graph):
1- Washington Post
2- Miami Herald
3- Los Angeles Times
4- Boston Globe
5- Detroit News
6- Chicago Tribune
7- Seattle Times
8- Las Vegas Sun
9- Chronicle (Houston)
10- Philadelphia Inquirer

To make it simple, the trend is about the same for everybody but Las Vegas Sun. They are losing a lot of UV/Google juice at least since October 2008 (some before). While I understand that the election has been driving the traffic up, the story that those numbers are telling is quite different than the story from Nielsen about the increase of unique audience for newspaper sites. And the disconnect is not small.

So, I decided to have a look at news sites in Canada, in France and in the UK. Just to see if the trend was somewhat different.

1- Globe and Mail
2- National Post
3- La presse
4- Toronto Star
5- Vancouver Sun

Same story, they are losing UV and a lot for most of them, except The Vancouver Sun.

1- Le Monde
2- Le Figaro
3- Libé
4- Ouest-France
5- Le Parisien
6- La Voix du Nord

Here the story is a little bit different but the traffic is not going up. Often flat. It is not as bad as in North America. Except for Libé and Le Monde that are losing a lot of UV.

1- The Guardian
2- Telegraph
3- Times Online
4- The Independent
5- The Scotsman

According to Google Trends, they are also losing a lot of UV. Some as much as in the US.

So what is going on with online news? And what is the value of Nielsen measurement?

Did we reach an audience cap already? Is the number of players making it more and more difficult to grow UV? Working with Jeff Jarvis on the project New Business Models for News, we have been surprised by the very high market penetration that most of the local news sites enjoy today.

So what is next? How do you explain those Google numbers?

Jul 22, 2009

Advertising: the customer data war

20% of ad spending on social networks are from local advertisers, according to Borrell Associates in a report dated July 12th. They are forecasting that: "local advertisers will account for about $641 million of nearly $3.3 billion this year trying to reach consumers via these sites".

This Monday, Josh Bernoff, VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research, wrote: "In this recession, marketers have learned that interactive marketing is more effective, and advertising less effective, per dollar spent." Following the findings of the IBM study: Beyond advertising. Mansha Daswani wrote about it, in, "To succeed—especially in the current economic environment—media companies will need to develop a new set of capabilities to support the industry's evolving demands which include micro targeting, real-time ROI measurement and cross-platform integration." [...] "Advertisers are following consumers to new platforms; the study indicates that 63 percent of global CMOs expect to increase interactive/online marketing spend while 65 percent expect to decrease traditional advertising."

My partners and I have been warning traditional media companies that the advertising business was shifting from a brand awareness paradigm towards a ROI/data driven paradigm. That we could not assume that advertising was going to subsidize media for ever, at least the way it does it today. Outsell Inc, in a recent study, predicts that "$65 billion will be siphoned away from traditional advertising channels in 2009 and spent instead on companies' own Web sites and Internet marketing" (source : Forbes via Éric Scherer).

Traditional media companies have to enter the "customer data war" if they want to keep attracting advertising dollars and compete in the interactive marketing world. Or they are going to have to partner with companies that have the customer data. The Yahoo! deal is leveraging this idea. But, when 80 to 100% of your business is advertising driven, don't you want to own the data?

It is one of the main issues that traditional media brands are facing: how to stay relevant for marketers/advertisers? This is the war to win to stay in business. Or it is going to be necessary to find new ways of subsidizing information while downsizing the newsroom. One source will not be enough... and readers will not cover the advertising revenue loss.

FYI: Study Finds Correlation Between Social Media and Financial Success (via Richard Ting)

Jul 3, 2009

Looking for an experienced online sales rep

Maker Media (Make magazine,,, Maker Faire) is looking for an experienced, tech savvy, sales rep to sell web based ad sponsors and multi-platform integrated programs. has 2 million uniques and growing. Great opportunity. Job based in NYC.

PLEASE NO PHONE CALLS, SEND ALL INTEREST TO: info (at) mignon-media (dot) com.

Jun 2, 2009

Video chats about advertising, twitter, blogging and media issues

At the beginning of May, I was invited to discuss media challenges with a group of German journalists and political people. They were in the US participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program, organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The TV journalist Richard Gutjahr filmed a small part of the conversation and posted two videos on YouTube that I just discovered (not YouTube, the videos ;). So here they are.

Today, I spent a few interesting hours with Michel Levy-Provençal (head of multimedia at the French 24 hour TV news channel, France 24), Karine Broyer (editor of France 24' website) and Vincent Roux (editor of the international French radio channel website: RFI). Here is another video (in French).

Disclosure: We consult for France 24 and RFI.

Apr 3, 2009

Charging for online content? New updated figures for newspapers with a circulation of 50K

>> New updated online spreadsheet
>> Excel file version

In partnership with the NAA (Newspaper Association of America), and the help of Borrell Associates, AdPerfect and Centro, we have put together a new updated spreadsheet exploring different scenarios for paid online content for 50K circulation newspapers. We have run numbers on scenarios ranging from fully paid to mixed paid / free.

Our previous and first post showed 9 different possibilities for paid online content scenarios for a 100K circulation newspaper. We based this first set of numbers on an average of publicly available and proprietary data from North American newspapers (some of which are our clients). This set of scenarios was just a first step in running numbers to take a look at the possible revenue generation.

In this post, we run numbers for a 50K circulation paper to be closer to the average US newspaper.

Key assumptions:
* 50,000 print subscribers
* $17 / month for the print version (7-day)
* Website with 250,000 UV and 2.5M PV
* $12 display ad CPM
* $4.50 local remnant ad CPM
* $0.95 national remnant ad CPM
* 5% unsold inventory
* $.20 CPC with .36% CTR for contextual ads
* In this version we have also introduced a subscriber acquisition cost of $49.18.

For an approximation of the current online revenue based on the above assumptions, the online revenue is a little over $700K.

Then we ran the numbers for the following scenarios:

1st scenario:
No more print version. All print subscribers are subscribing to the website that is 100% behind a paid wall. NOTE: It is highly unlikely that 100% of existing print subscribers would sign up for the web version.We are just demonstrating what could be the potential maximum revenue if all 100% did at HALF the print sub price.
Revenue = $5.2 M

2nd scenario:
Great direct marketing campaign resulting in 2% of current UV subscribing to the website. 100% behind a paid wall. They pay the same price as the print version. For all of the following scenarios, the print version still exists.
Revenue = $1.0 M

3rd scenario: Same assumptions as scenario 2, except the subscription price is halved to $8.50 / month.
Revenue = $524 K

4th scenario: Same assumptions as scenario 2 and 3, except the subscription price is again halved to $4.25 / month.
Revenue = $269 K

5th scenario: Direct marketing campaign resulting in 1% of current UV subscribing to the website. 100% behind a paid wall. They pay the same price as the print version.
Revenue = $517 K

6th scenario: Same assumptions as scenario 5, except the subscription price is halved to $8.50 / month.
Revenue = $262 K

7th scenario: Same assumptions as scenario 5 and 6, except the subscription price is again halved to $4.25 / month.
Revenue = $135 K

8th scenario: Mix of free and paid models. 60% of the site's content is free. There still are 250K UV. 1% of these UV subscribe to the paid part of the website for $8.50 / month.
Revenue = $686 K

9th scenario: Mix of free and paid models. 80% of the site's content is free. There still are 500K UV. 1% of these UV subscribe to the paid part of the website for $8.50 / month.
Revenue = $828 K

You can see these updated figures on my spreadsheet (on the 2nd tab named "50K circ"). You can also download the excel file to play around with the numbers.

As mentioned in the first post, we didn't take into account the cost side (with exception of the introduction of the acquisition cost per subscriber). However, none of these scenarios would cover the actual costs of newspaper operations. In our next iteration, we will factor in the cost side to take a look at net revenue. It will be another one of the critical factors on the end-decision of whether or not to go paid.

If you think something is missing or doesn't make sense, please comment. Also, if you have any suggestions, feel free to let us know. We're always looking to improve upon the analysis. Please email me at anytime at nwang (at)mignon-media (dot)com.

A big thanks to Beth Lawton at the NAA. Thanks as well to Gordon Borrell of Borrell Associates, Inc., Sean McDonnell of AdPerfect and Shawn Reigseker of Centro for their assistance.

More to read:
- Paying for online news: Sorry, but the math just doesn’t work. (Martin Langeveld - Nieman Journalism Lab)

Mar 26, 2009

Media and advertizing challenge (2): IBM study reveals a "growing rift between advertisers, consumers and content owners"

Following my previous post on how it is going to be more and more challenging for media to keep their advertising revenue, IBM just published a study insisting on the "growing rift between advertisers and content owners, media distributors and agencies". (tx to Eric Scherer)

In, Mansha Daswani writes: "To succeed—especially in the current economic environment—media companies will need to develop a new set of capabilities to support the industry's evolving demands which include micro targeting, real-time ROI measurement and cross-platform integration." [...] "Advertisers are following consumers to new platforms; the study indicates that 63 percent of global CMOs expect to increase interactive/online marketing spend while 65 percent expect to decrease traditional advertising."

Full article
IBM report

Mar 18, 2009

Why is it going to be increasingly more difficult to subsidize news with advertising revenue?

The challenge that journalism has always been facing is to be financed. The cost of information has never been fully covered by the end customer. Revenue sources vary by media and by countries. Today, advertising is the main -- and very large -- source of revenue. But, governments, special interest groups, readers (for print), foundations..., also contribute to the financing of information.

Businesses need to advertise their products and services. Media offer a vehicle that can display the ads. Either they offer mass-market reach or niche reach (local or specialized). Advertisers buy eye-balls hoping that some of them will be customers. Media, using polls, study their customers and build their sales pitch around it. They offer a limited amount of space (time or number of pages) and sell this scarcity to the advertisers.

Digitalization is fundamentally changing the game.
  1. Media no longer have the monopoly of offering a platform to display ads. Any website can display ads. Why promote the release of a new DVD on a newspaper site and not on the Target site?
  2. Scarcity does not exist anymore. There are no limits to inventory space. The limit is on the advertising side. There are just not enough ads to finance everybody. When scarcity does not exist anymore, prices (CPM) go down.
  3. Data collection is the name of the game. Before, it was difficult to collect information about customers. It is why we were using a lot of tools based on polls. Today, polls are in competition with real data collection. Why use polls when you can track the habits of each customer one by one, compile and analyze them? Today's data are much more precise than yesterday's polling data. Pages are talking to pages. Data are being linked. Devices are starting to talk to each other. The Internet is becoming this huge machine, as Kevin Kelly is explaining at this Ted conference in December 2007, full of information about each one of us. Question : how much data are we willing to give away? The privacy limits are probably going to be decided by the legislators.
In the conferences I give, I love to say to media executives, "we are not any more in the news business, we are in the database business". Know your customers. Then anticipate and serve targeted information and news content, and targeted commercial messages.

When you are losing, step by step, your monopoly of serving ads... When the price to advertise is going down... What do you need to offer to stay the best advertising vehicle? You need to offer the best ROI. In other words, you need to move from an eye-ball logic to a transaction logic. And you'll get your dollars if you are able to prove that your vehicle helps to increase sales.

I know ! It is tough because all of a sudden you become somewhere responsible for the quality of the advertising and the quality of the product/service. It is a total paradigm shift. The total nightmare for the media and advertising business. But, Google, with CPC and CPA based ads, has already been changing the game. A few words online (ad-word campaign) can have better ROI than a very sophisticated and expensive ad on TV. Tough times.

Not only does the media need to display ads, but also they need to show to the right person. And on top of that, the right person for a business is a person that buys the product or service advertised. Bottom line is that businesses need customers. The winners will be -- are -- the ones providing the best engine to get those customers.

So, if news organizations still want to finance their operations with advertising dollars, they need to ask themselves : "Are we in the data collection business?" If the answer is no, your chance to survive, with an advertising model, in the medium-to-long term is close to zero. And if advertising revenue dries up, who is going to subsidize the information?

Example of what you can do: Geo Segmentation: Add ZIP To Your Email

Mar 4, 2009

Le Post (2): a successful and innovative news site that mixes pro and am content

You asked more questions about, the French news site, Le Post. Thanks. I tried to summarize them and asked Benoît. So, here is the update.

What do you think you're doing right that explains the success of Le Post ?
BR: First of all, flexibility is our religion. We are always experimenting with new stuff and failure is part of the deal. We are building the site brick by brick, with small projects that we test and can quickly stop if they are not working. Our site is organized around three concepts:
1- We are using the strengths of network and viralness. This way, we can be up to speed quickly on news or information that starts buzzing.
2- We take advantage of the fragmentation of information. We are not focused on the home page and we consider that each page is a potential HP. Also, we work the content with the SEO in mind.
3- We are taking care of our community. Readers are major contributors, so the content reflects their interests.

What is your secret (if any) to have amateurs contributing?
Once again, we take great care of our community. All our journalists are community managers. They manage, stimulate and provoke, non stop, the am. They are engaged in a permanent conversation with the community members [remember there are six journalists for 25,000 members].

What type of subjects are am contributing the most ?
In order: politics, crimes and accidents, web/buzz subjects, montages and collages with news content, and testimonies.

Feb 26, 2009

Le Post : a successful and innovative news site that mixes pro and am content

If you're not French, or francophone, there is little chance that you have heard about the French news site : Le Post. The site has been launched a little bit more than 18 months ago, by le Monde interactif, publisher of, the website of one of the most famous newspapers in France, le Monde, and the largest general news site in France.

According to Nielsen, Le Post had, already, an audience of 2 million in November 2008, more than 7 million visits according to the OJD (the equivalent in France of the audit bureau) for January 2009. Pretty impressive for a new site.

Le Post is a news website, covering national news. For many, it leans more towards the "tabloïd side". It is true that its content, its tone, its look and feel are very different than le Monde. But, its main difference comes from the way the content is produced. It is a mix of pro and am.

Benoît Raphaël, the editor in chief of Le Post, gives us some details about a site that I think is one of the most innovative news sites produced by a media company in 2008. It should break-even in 2010. Not bad at all.

The uniqueness of Le Post is that the content is produced by pro and am. How many professional journalists in the team?
BR: We have one editor that manages the newsroom of nine journalists :
- 4 specialized (crime and accidents, politics, media, internet),
- 2 at the desk (in charge of the HP, aggregating content, organizing the news in different formats in order to make things easy for the readers and animating the conversation),
- 1 video journalist in charge of non-stop "zapping", a video "collage" from different sources,
- 1 coach journalist in charge of the community. Among his work is to check the information sent by the citizen-journalists, look for witnesses, etc.

How many amateurs contribute to the site?
Our community has 25,000 members. 1% produces content and a 1,000 are very active. Among the active, you have what we call "guests". They are bloggers and columnists that are paid on a revenue sharing basis. Amateurs send 400 to 500 contributions and write 6,000 comments a day.

What is the rest of the team?
- One editor in chief (me),
- one product manager,
- one marketing director,
- one ad sales representative,
- two developers
- and we are sharing some other team members with

On average, what is the percentage of content produced by pro versus am?
It is 10% pro, 90% am. In other words, we publish 400 am articles a day versus 40 from pro. But, it does not mean anything because in fact the newsroom really takes advantage of the community, reacts to what they are sending, checks and updates information. The majority of the articles that appear on the HP are a mix of pro and am. In fact, our goal is to co-produce the content, not to have on one side the pro and on the other side the am.

Do you double check am content?
We do double check the am content that we publish. Absolutely.

How do you proceed?
We have put together different processes. All the content is filtered, a posteriori, by a team of moderators. We want to make sure that there is no illegal content, that am follow our guidelines and that they are not propagating rumors. Then, the newsroom also looks at it. The coach goes first, then the specialized journalists. Each journalist manages a small community of am that he trusts. So each interesting content that we receive is checked according to our techniques of "fast fact checking" that we have developed.

What do you mean by "each journalist manages a small community of am"?
Active amateurs help us to collect and add value to information by proposing smart angles, aggregating, finding witnesses, etc. They are also "the eyes of the newsroom". They are following the news for us, on print, tv, radio, news sites, but also blogs. They are sending us valuable links with quotes.
And sometimes, they are helping us on fact checking. It is because of an amateur that we have been able to figure out that a video about Gaza was a fraud. France 2 (the French public television chanel) published the video without fact checking it.

What is the job of a journalist at Le Post?
He is, at the same time, a news producer, an aggregator and a community organizer. Because of the way he approaches information, he is first a network journalist. He checks first what has been said and published in other media. He aggregates the best content from different sources, including blogs, Twitter, You Tube, etc. and traditional medias. Then, on some of them, he brings complementary information, new elements, adds value and fact checks. Even the news published by other journalists.
The newsroom of Le Post looks like the one of a radio station. The information is a permanent conversation that is built step by step by the community of am and the journalists.
Each journalist is also in charge of a small group of active amateurs. He is their coach and teachs them the basics of the journalist job, tries to encourage them and even meets them in person. He understands that information is a conversation. He does not produce an article but more a process.

How much does a journalist make?
They are new and young journalists, so they are making the minimum salary for the job.

How about amateurs?
Only guests make some money. As I said, we have a revenue sharing system (50/50) and we guarantee a minimum of around US$500 (350 euros)/month.

Are you making money?
Not yet, but we should break-even next year.

(Disclosure: Benoit is a friend. I have worked with him right before he became the editor in chief of Le Post. We launched together (and with other talented persons) the very successful site for the French presidential election: It was for the local newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré. Mignon-Media also worked for the new formula of Le Monde, a few years ago, rethinking and reorganizing the informational graphics department)

Feb 7, 2009

Newspaper: Charging or not for online content? Numbers for 9 scenarios.

>> Direct access to our online spreadsheet.

UPDATE 2 (2/9/09):
We added a new tab to the online spreadsheet with other numbers.

UPDATE 1 (2/8/09):
Based on your feedback (thanks to all), we have updated the numbers and uploaded a new excel file.

The paid model scenario is back into the conversation. Is it a good idea for newspapers to go back to OR begin an online full or partial paid model? We have been thinking about different scenarios, and calculating the revenue outcome. We based our numbers on figures from different newspapers in North America.

Base assumptions:
  • 100,000 print subscribers
  • $14.75 / month for the print version (7-day)
  • Website with 500,000 UV and 10M PV
  • $10 CPM (3 impressions per page)
  • $.20 CPC with .5% CTR
Based on these figures, their actual online revenue is approximately $1.8 M.

Then we ran the numbers for the following scenarios:
  1. No more print version. All print subscribers are subscribing to the website that is 100% behind a paid wall. NOTE: It is very unlikely that 100% of existing print subscribers would sign up for the web version.We are just demonstrating what could be the potential maximum revenue if all 100% did.
    Revenue = $6.1 M

  2. Great direct marketing campaign resulting in 2% of current UV subscribing to the website. 100% behind a paid wall. They pay the same price as the print version. For all of the following scenarios, the print version still exists.
    Revenue = $1.8 M

  3. Same assumptions as scenario 2, except the subscription price is halved to $7.50 / month.
    Revenue = $943 K

  4. Same assumptions as scenario 2 and 3, except the subscription price is again halved to $4.75 / month.
    Revenue = $613 K

  5. Direct marketing campaign resulting in 1% of current UV subscribing to the website. 100% behind a paid wall. They pay the same price as the print version.
    Revenue = $907 K

  6. Same assumptions as scenario 5, except the subscription price is halved to $7.50 / month.
    Revenue = $472 K

  7. Same assumptions as scenario 5 and 6, except the subscription price is again halved to $4.75 / month.
    Revenue = $307 K

  8. Mix of free and paid models. 60% of the site's content is free. There still are 500K UV. 1% of these UV subscribe to the paid part of the website for $4.75 / month.
    Revenue = $1.6 M

  9. Mix of free and paid models. 80% of the site's content is free. There still are 500K UV. 1% of these UV subscribe to the paid part of the website for $4.75 / month.
    Revenue = $2.0 M
You can see these figures on my spreadsheet. You can also download the excel file to play around with the numbers.

We didn't take into account the cost side. However, none of these scenarios would cover the actual costs of newspaper operations. It would be interesting to have the acquisition cost / subscriber and advertiser. It will be another one of the critical factors on the end-decision of whether or not to go paid.

If you think something is missing or doesn't make sense, please share a comment. Update the file and send it back to me at nwang(at)mignon-media(dot)com.

Feb 3, 2009

Is the paid model back for online? NYT is thinking about it again.

Advertising (print and online) is down for the New York Times. 48% decline in fourth-quarter profit. After stopping its online-subscription service ($10 million/year in revenue), in 2007, the NYT is again considering to charge for its site or part of it (full Bloomberg story or AP).

PS: I know Emmanuel... I know.

Feb 2, 2009

Local newsroom organization (3): what is the basic news that local media needs to cover?

To summarize the first two posts about the organization of a local media, we have seen that:
  1. It is possible to do quality local coverage mixing pro and am (local correspondents + experts) content.
  2. Main form: digital. Print is also a possibility in some markets but probably not daily.
  3. Central piece of the online presence (not the only one): an aggregation of blogs (journalists + local correspondents + members of the community).
  4. Every journalist is in charge of a community mainly using existing tools like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Wiki, Google agenda... (see also Beatblogging experiment).

Also, all of these ideas are still in progress, I'd like to talk now about what to cover and with whom. Once again, it is not a definitive and unique organization. Just the first step of our thinking:
  1. Local news. Hard to put numbers here for the team because it depends on the size, the population density and the economic activity of the geographic zone covered. But, it is where we are going to use the network of local correspondents. It is necessary to divide the local content in different categories:

    1a- Accidents and crimes - Need some good reporters here. Possibility also to put together mash ups with the police departments and the firefighters (like Everyblock Chicago for example). Local correspondents can also contribute a lot to this "section".

    1b- Local government/politics - Maybe the most important piece of the local coverage to make sure we follow not only the public money, but also the actions of people paid and/or working for the different communities covered (watchdog journalism). It is where we will put the main effort in terms of coverage and the best journalists. Journalists that can be helped by local correspondents, local experts and citizens.

    1c- Practical information - Schedules for business, government offices, transportation, entertainment, sports events; agendas for associations, non profits, schools, etc.; firefighters, police, physician contact information, etc. In other words, all the practical information you need in your community. No need for journalists here. Local correspondents, citizens, businesses, etc. can fill up the local electronic agenda.

    1d- Local business - The size of the team necessary to cover the subject is clearly going to be very different according to where your local media company is located. Pro journalists can be helped by local experts. What is sure, local businesses deserve better and more "practical" coverage.

    1e- Local education - Like local businesses, local education deserves better coverage. It does not have to be huge. One journalist, with local correspondents and local experts should be enough to cover the issue in most of the cases (like what Gannett is doing with

    1f- Special coverage - Local public health issues, local environmental issues, etc. It is always necessary to have a professional team (one or two?) to investigate and to follow important and complex issues for the community, in the long run. Here too, they can be helped by local correspondents, local experts (but not only local) and citizens.

    1g- Local sports - We focus only on local sports coverage. Of course, it can include national level teams. Hard to give a staff size here too because it depends on the number of A teams. But, what is sure is that a lot of content, outside big teams, can be covered by local correspondents and citizens (like: scores, agendas, photos and videos).

    1h- Local entertainment/cultural events - No national coverage on entertainment. There is plenty of content all over the web for that. We focus on local entertainment. Content can be a mix of pro and am (local correspondents + experts), here too. In most of the case, no needs for a large pro staff. One journalist should be enough.

  2. International news. Most of the content, to not say all of it, is commodity news. Why should a local organization invest in international reporting? I see one main reason: because the news affects directly or indirectly the local community and it needs a local "angle" approach, contextual information and/or detailed explanation. For the rest, deals with national and international media, blogs and aggregated links should be more than enough. So how many journalists : one... maybe two. Each journalist manages a community of experts on some key issues (the experts don't have to be local but it is nice if they are). Possible to tap into local bloggers too.

  3. National news. Same idea as international news. Deals with national, international media and blogs (yes! INTERNATIONAL too. It is good/smart to read what others are saying about you). Same team : one or two journalists (maybe three) + community of experts + local correspondents.
This above coverage is the basic level. Other types of coverage can be necessary based on the local specificity. More than one news brand can also be necessary to reach different types of audiences. You don't offer the same content to everybody. Even if part of your coverage can work for different audiences / brands, your hierarchy will be different. Mass market is over. Then, news will not be the only service offered to the communities covered by a local media company (see also Steve Yelvington -- The three primary roles your local website should play). We will talk about it in another post.

We are also not saying that it is an ideal situation. We are just trying to stay realistic in terms of newsroom staff / cost regarding potential revenue for local media.

Next posts:
- Sample of product and services that local media can offer besides news
- Revenue models for local media
and more... please comment, suggest, propose...

Jan 25, 2009

Pas d'électricité. L'internet manque plus aux ados que la télé

Reportage de France 2 dans le Sud-Ouest de la France, suite à la tempête (journal de 13h, le (25/01/09). Une famille est privée d'électricité. Qu'est-ce qui manque le plus aux enfants de la famille ? Internet. Pas un mot sur la télé (ou alors cela a été coupé au montage).

Jan 19, 2009

Creativity (3): Kaplan's brilliant video ad

I really like this video ad from Kaplan (American education compagny).

Jan 18, 2009

Local newsroom organization (2): How and how much "amateur" contributors are paid in France?

We received a lot of information about local correspondents in France. I am reproducing here some of the elements that were in the comments of the previous post:

1- How many pro-journalists in regional newspapers in France (63 million inhabitants)?
6,000 journalists for 60 newspapers. So, it is about, on average, 1 journalist for 10,050 inhabitants but this ratio can be different depending on the density of the population. Some samples provided to us were up to 1/40,000.

2- How many "amateur" contributors (correspondents)?
25,000 correspondents. So, on average, about 4 correspondents for 1 journalist. And 1 correspondent for 2,520 inhabitants. But larger newspapers have a different ratio that is more along the lines of 10 correspondents for 1 journalist. Is technology going to help us to increase this number?

3- What do they produce?
Their roles vary a lot from sending alerts, agendas, etc. (between 60 to 70% of the correspondents), to writing articles and taking photos (between 30 to 40%).

4- Is what they send checked?
Yes ! The desk checks their work. Journalists, at the desk, complain that it is a long process and it is one of the reasons that some of the correspondent copy is not published on time. Is technology going to help us simplify and improve the process?

5- How they are paid?
There are different systems. I am just going to talk about the one we like the most: the point system. Here is the example of the French newspaper Sud-Ouest (source - nov. 2006 - EH Boyer). One point is paid 0.80 euros.

- Brief (3 to 4 lines) = 1 pt
- Short article (5 to 20 lines) = 6 pts
- Article (30 to 50 lines) = 14 points
- Special article (crime, accidents...) = 20 pts
- Feature (50 to 70 lines) = 35 pts
- Alert (phone call to share news with the local pro journalist) = 8 pts
- Results (sports, elections) = 25 pts
- Regular photo = 4 pts
- Cover photo = 15 pts
- Cover local section photo = 10 pts

Once again, we are not saying that the French system is perfect. It can be improved. But, we want to show that the mix of pro and semi-pro journalists is already used by local media. It's been around for 40 years. So it is not a fantasy to try to imagine this kind of newsroom organization.

Still in France (sorry, I know, a French example again),, a pure-play launched by Le Monde Multimedia works with a team of pro and amateurs to cover national and local news. They have 8 journalists for 25,000 "amateur" contributors. 2,500 are very active. In a little over a year, Le Post became one of the top news French sites with over 1.5 million UV et more than 6 million visits/month in December 2008 (source: OJD - circulation bureau in France).

I'll talk more about Le Post later. And we will continue posting about local newsroom organization.

Jan 9, 2009

Local newsroom organization (1): 70% to 80% of a French local daily newspaper is written by non-journalists. Why not start to use this model?

Our team is trying to figure out the organization of the newsroom of a local media company. A priori, this company produces both print and digital products and services. The decision on whether the products and services are print, digital or a combination will depend on the local market and the profitability models (we will be working on this as well and will share it too).

I started this conversation at the New Business Models for News Summit, back in October at CUNY. Thanks to Jeff Jarvis. Benoît Raphaël (editor-in-chief of Le Post) and I talked about how the content of a French local daily newspaper is written 70 to 80% by amateurs. They call them "correspondents". They have been contributing for more than 40 years. Their copy is corrected and checked by copy editors or "chef d'agences". The end result is: a hyper-local coverage. In fact, those "correspondents" are sort of "citizen journalists".

We gave this example just to show that imagining a media where the content is, for a big chunk, written by non-journalists is not a fantasy. It already exists and it has been working for years. Pro and "am" can live together and produce a quality medium.

On average, there are 10 correspondents for 1 journalist. Correspondents are paid by the newspaper based on what the newspaper publishes. But they are making far less money than the journalists.

So, to get back to the first step of our work, we are working around the following concept (I insist, it is work in progress, we are just starting):

1- Concentrate on the local coverage and on national and international issues that are affecting the communities that the newspaper covers.

2- A journalist is in charge of a community. This community can be either geographic or based on a major topic that is important for the communities.

3- The journalist and a copy editor manage a team of "correspondents". There are two types: people covering their local community, people covering a topic because they are experts (accountants, doctors, architects, engineers...). Some of them could already have their own blog. Then, there is the witness that happens to be at the right place at the right moment with the right tools to post content. The copy editor is in charge of fact checking the copy of the correspondents and the witnesses.

4- Each journalist and correspondent have a blog. Which means: the "spinal cord" of the medium is an aggregation of blogs. It does not mean that classic reporting is disappearing. At least at this stage of our thinking. But let's be open and forget about any a priori (tough!). About blogs as a center piece, you can read F. Fillioux's post: Blogging, a new journalist genre (editor for the Norwegian group Schibsted)

5- National (including non-local entertainment and non-local sport) and international content are reduced to the minimum and coming from other media like newspapers, magazines, TV channels from the country and other countries too. If you have a strong Greek community, why not translate, sometimes, the coverage of an international matter written by a Greek newspaper. Wire services... not sure they are necessary (TBD). We can still have some journalists whom the job is to explain and / or to give the local ramifications of a national or international news story.

So, once again, this is just the beginning of our work. It is going to change based on the feedback that we are going to receive from professional journalists and non-journalists. Please do not hesitate to react on the following main concepts:
  1. local correspondents
  2. blogs at the center of the local medium
  3. focus of the coverage on local matters
Now I have a question for our French friends :
- What is the ratio, on average, of journalists to people? The ratio could be different based on the concentration of the population (e.g., urban center vs. rural areas).

Update 1: I am receiving answers from French journalists. I'll translate them later.

Update 2: According to the marketing guru, Seth Godin, it is time to start a local newspaper.

Update 3: How to build a media empire by Mitch Joel

Jan 8, 2009

Les sites d’infos contruit autour d’une agrégation de blogs ?

Voilà un commentaire que j'ai fait sur le blog de Narvic suite à son sur "le blog est l'avenir du journalisme" et celui de F. Fillioux "Blogging, a new journalistic genre?"

Je m’interroge aussi sur la place des blogs dans un site d’information depuis longtemps. J’en suis arrivé à la conclusion, l’année dernière, que c’est -- peut être -- le socle central d’un média en ligne. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’il tire avantage de la killer application du web : Human Interaction.

Nous sommes entrain de travailler à quoi pourrait bien ressembler concrétement la rédaction d’un journal local demain (on se concentre sur le local pour le moment). Et nous l’articulons, pour le moment et ca peut changer, autour des principes suivants :

1- Se concentrer sur l’info local et concentrer les forces éditoriales sur les enjeux locaux. Sous-traiter tout le reste : journaux nationaux, étrangers... et peut-être AFP si moins cher.

2- Viser les + de 55 ans avec le papier, les - de 55 ans avec produits et services sur le web et le mobile

3- Organiser la rédaction autour de journalistes animateurs de communautés, soit géographique, soit par sujet (essentiellement : sport, business local, éducation).

4- Un réseau de correspondants bloggers qui couvrent soit une zone géographique, soit une spécialité. + au cas par cas les témoignages de citoyens témoins ou spécialistes.

5- L’outil principal des journalistes serait le blog. Et le média en ligne, principalement une agrégation de blogs tenus par les journalistes et les correspondants.

Tout ça n’est qu’un rapide résumé et n’est qu’à l’état de brainstorming dans notre équipe. Je posterai sur mon blog des détails au fur et à mesure que nous aurons les idées plus claires.

Et, je contacterai certains d’entre vous pour challenger notre idée d’organisation et nous aider à l’améliorer. On est peut être à côté de la plaque. Vous en dites quoi ?

Update - Seth Godin (le roi du marketing), sur son blog : Time to start a newspaper

Jan 7, 2009

An example of how to use Twitter as an editor-in-chief

If you'd like to see how an editor-in-chief is using Twitter, I recommend to follow John A. Byrne (here). He is the editor-in-chief at Business Week.

Jan 1, 2009

My ideal media needs to be "crowdfiltered" and "crowdproduced"

Last week, I was working on a new set of projects with a friend of mine, François Dufour, the publisher of the very successful daily newspapers for kids in France: Le Petit Quotidien, Mon Quotidien and L'Actu. Francois has also been one of the French professionals that has led the brainstorming on how to help French daily newspapers to survive. An exercise initiated by the French president a few months ago (Les États généraux de la presse écrite). We were talking about it, having some heated (but friendly) conversation on the future of media and the role of journalists versus amateurs, when suddenly he asked me: "But, Jeff what would be your ideal newspaper ? " Here was, in a few words, my answer.

First, it would not be a print newspaper. Not because I have something against print newspapers, but because it could not technically do the job. I need to be able to search my newspaper. I need to save the content I like. I need to send to my friends the content that I think in which they can be interested. I want to react/contribute to articles when I have something to say about them whatever is the reason. Etc.

Second, it would not be a single source, because there is no one source in this world than can fulfill and aggregate the needs that I have in terms of news and information. Before, the constraint of time and, most importantly, of money forced me to reduce my number of sources to a national newspaper and a set of specialized magazines and newsletters. Now, with the internet, I have access to an unlimited number of sources for free. But this is at the same time both a great and painful experience. How do I filter all of this accessible news and information? And it's where the conversation started to be interesting... and surprising for François.

Third, the content would not be filtered and written ONLY by journalists. I could see in François' eyes that I had just touched a very sensitive point. "You're not going to tell me that you give the same importance to an article written by a professional journalist than a post by a blogger?" First, I reminded him, that in the French local newspapers, 70 to 80% of the content is written by amateurs called "local correspondents" and for at least more than forty years. Then, I explained the following.

As opposed to what still happens in traditional media today, I want my sources to be filtered by four types of people :

1- Journalists. No need to explain why.

2- Experts in the fields in which I am interested. Because, I think that it is more and more difficult for a journalist to have the sufficient knowledge to be a better informer than an expert on a subject that I also know well. Then, I feel enough educated to avoid the middle man.

3- People with the same centers of interest than mine. Because, they help me to access to information that I did not even know existed. Because they share their experiences, observations and thinking. A process that saves me time, opens my mind to new horizons, makes me smarter (I hope), helps me to make decisions, etc. For example, do I need a journalist to tell me where is the best school in town for my daughter? Do I need a professional writer to tell me where is the best Chinese restaurant in Chelsea or if the last Indiana Jones movie is good or not?

4- Friends. Because, they know whom I am, what I like, where I live, etc. and are more likely to send me content that I want to read. It is very rare when I don't read an article, a post, a video, a comment that has been sent to me by a friend. And you?

In addition to these human filters, I also like algorithms to direct me to more content like: "people who read this article also read this article" or related content, etc.

In the same way that I need more than the journalists to filter my content, I also need more than the journalists to produce it. Once again, experts and people, with the same interests than mine, are better at giving me the right information. This is not theory, this is what happens in my everyday life. I am not saying that I don't trust journalists; I do think that they are necessary. I am just saying that I don't find the content that they provide always the best content. And, I am also saying that I need more than what they provide.

Each day, I am trying to build and improve my ideal newspaper. It is on my computer and on my iphone. It is made of hundred of sources pro and "amateurs". It goes through the filter of the people I trust on Twitter, through my friends on FaceBook, the anonymous on Digg... My ideal newspaper can't be a print one. It has to be digital and it has to be "crowdfiltered" and "crowdproduced" (definitely including journalists). The "old package", even free, just cannot compete for my needs and for the ones of more and more digital grown ups.

Update - I forgot to mention the "crowdfiltering" service of Business Week: Business Exchange. Worth experimenting. I really like the idea. Tell me if you like it.

(Disclosure: I am part of the team that invented the French newspapers for kids. I was also involved in the EGDPE)