Local, mobile, paywalls, Google, more: My latest KDMC news for digital journalists posts

Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…

NOTE: This list represents only the pieces I authored. My colleagues Adam Glenn and Michele McLellan wrote several other posts. You can find everything on the News for Digital Journalists blog.

Most important post: March 14: Pew research points to mobile opportunities for local news, info. There’s a lot to learn from in this Pew report. I spotted these strategic implications:

  • Attract more young people to your news brand. Tomorrow’s audience has to come from somewhere. The research indicates that news orgs could promote long-term growth of their local news market via mobile offerings.
  • Native apps not really such a great revenue strategy. In fact, Pews numbers paint a pretty dismal picture for trying to generate much revenue from getting people to pay for content. Now, if news apps became more service-oriented, that could change the picture…
  • Embrace the spectrum of mobile technology, not just smartphones. OK, Pew, didn’t look at this directly, but when you look at their numbers you can see that feature phones are a big part of the picture. And the news business mostly thrives based on audience size. Ignoring feature phones means leaving money on the table and alienating potential allies.

Other posts…

Feb. 22: Disaster news prep: Google Person Finder. I wrote this after the Christchurch, NZ earthquake but before the big Japan earthquake/tsunami. Goal here is to tell news orgs how they can leverage this tool by embedding it in their own pages. Also, if your region gets hits by a disaster, I tell how to ask Google to spin off a new instance of Person Finder. You can spin off your own instance, but it’s better to see if Google will do it first to avoid confusion.

Feb 28: Engaging tomorrow’s news audience today: Report. Research from the Newspaper Association of America takes a closer look at sub-groups within the youth demographic for news audiences. I’d like to see more research like this. More importantly, I’d like to see some evidence that news organizations are actually using this research in their strategies.

March 8: Knight Community Info Toolkit: Help make your community stronger with better info. Summary of a new planning tool for community activists. This is the kind of effort I’d love to see news organizations get involved in, but it’s interesting that the toolkit is not really intended for news organizations.

March 9: Knight names new VP of Journalism and Media Innovation: Michael Maness. Pretty significant shift of leadership at the Knight Foundation. It’ll be interesting to see what direction Maness wants to take Knight’s programs. Especially now that the Knight News Challenge is in its fifth and possibly final year. (It was originally intended as a five-year contest program.)

March 11: Texas Tribune, Bay Citizen win Knight grant to build open-source news platform. I’m curious about this project — especially whether it will build upon existing open-source platforms (hopefully WordPress rather than Drupal, if so), and what kind of mobile functionality, if any, it will include.

March 17: New York Times launches paywall — and why most news orgs shouldn’t. Most people who watch the media business are pretty down on this strategy. Frankly, I’m also pessimistic — although I suspect the Times may be able to pull it off, for a while, without really hurting its audience size or search visibility. But there are so many loopholes, and so few real benefits to paying subscribers, that I’ve got to wonder why they’re even bothering with this. It seems almost like a philosophical exercise. They should be putting these resources into offering services that they can sell, if you ask me. As for the vast majority of news orgs: Don’t try this at home. The Times is a very special case.

March 22: Why “data journalism” is good for the news business. My UK colleague Paul Bradshaw wrote an excellent analysis of the many ways that data-focused content (such as interactive databases) and services (such as APIs of metadata from a news org’s content) can help build a news business.

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