Associated Press opens North Korea news bureau, they’ll fit right in!

No, really:

Associated Press opens news bureau in North Korea | World news | guardian.co.uk.

…As if the news business wasn’t already Kafkaesque. Well, AP is an appropriate choice for this. 

Having done some critical coverage of several boneheaded AP strategies in digital media over the last few years, I think they see eye to eye with NK regarding the dangers of criticism, and how to respond to it.

I’m not kidding: See the response from Paul Colford, AP’s director of media relations, to a 2010 KDMC story I wrote about the controversial AP News Registry program

Adapt or your business model will die!

I’ve long been frustrated with how stuck-in-the-mud much of the news industry and many journalists regarding their own business models or career path. Seems to me, the key skill to survive and thrive in chaotic, disruptive times is adaptability.

Here’s a great example of adaptability: How the much reviled flavor-of-the-month web startup Chatroulette has found a way to make money off its inevitable tide of exhibitionists:

Fast Company: Chatroulette Founder Andrey Ternovskiy Raises New Funding: “50,000 Naked Men”

“Chatroulette can’t fully wean itself off nudity yet. “You’ll still see some naked men, about one every hour,” Ternovskiy says. Of the roughly 500,000 visitors Chatroulette receives daily, about 10% are males itching to show their business. So Ternovskiy parlays that business into profit.

“Everyday, about 50,000 new men are trying to get naked,” he says. “What we’re doing is selling the naked men to a couple of websites–it’s an investment for us.”

When users flag someone enough times for indecent behavior (by clicking a button), the offender is automatically transferred to a partner site. Thanks to deals with adult dating services like FriendFinder.com, Chatroulette is earning cash hand over fist from the referral traffic.

“Basically, once we detect a person is naked, he’ll be kicked from our service to another website,” Ternovskiy says. “So, we’re actually getting revenue from naked men right now.”

 

Cheer from Christmas Past, by Terry Gilliam

Thought you were going to escape the holidays unscathed? Think again! I’m actually in the holiday mood this year, and I’m not afraid to inflict it on others…. Muahaha…

This is an early animation by Terry Gilliam, from Christmas 1968. Laughing Squid posted it to Tumblr this morning.

Every since my brother introduced me to Monty Python when I was about eight, I’ve been enamored with highly visual absurdist humor. And I especially adore Terry Gilliam’s ability to upend our assumptions of space, time, place, scale, and intention.

This was also why I loved the original Pink Panther cartoons, Ren & Stimpy, and Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse. And, of course, my all-time favorite film, Brazil (by Terry Gilliam, of course).

We live in an unpredictable world, where meaning shifts drastically as context changes. We’re forever falling into a new picture frame, and parts of other pictures intrude rudely upon ours. Laughter is the best way to stay afloat amidst chaos. And there is always, always chaos.

And with that, happy holidays, all!

 

Mea culpa: I can’t be an off-duty journalist

Is a journalist ever off-duty? I tend to think not — and yesterday I feel like I neglected my duty. It’s bugging me.

It was Memorial Day, I decided to go for a long bike ride to see the beach at Alameda. I needed the exercise, and the weather was perfect. I was enjoying myself greatly — but as I was biking back along Crown Beach in Alameda, I saw police, firefighters, and onlookers gathered. I asked what was happening, and they told me that a man was stranded offshore. A firefighter pointed out into the water, and I could see a head bobbing above the waves, about 150 feet out.

“It’s shallow out there, he’s standing,” said the firefighter. And indeed, the man didn’t seem to be struggling. But he wasn’t waving or shouting for help, either.

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Murdoch’s Daily: It’s 1994 all over again!

Quote of the day from Scott Rosenberg:

The question is whether the Daily’s secession from the Web is a matter of convenience or ideology for its creators. Did they put their energy into spiffing things up for the iPad — the hard, fun, innovative part — figuring that they can circle back to beef up their Web offerings later? Or do they feel that it is their calling, their mission, to leave the Web behind?

My prediction: If they’re pragmatists about the Web, they’ve got a chance — they can adapt and evolve their product so it’s a little more up to date, less hermetic and more inclusive of the public that lives online today. But if they’re ideologues — if they really believe that what is essentially a magazine “pasted on a screen” is the future of journalism — then they’re in deep trouble, and the Daily will only be Murdoch’s latest and most spectacular digital money-sink.

via Murdoch’s Daily: post-Web innovation or CD-ROM flashback? — Scott Rosenberg’s Wordyard.

Exploding some common myths about the role of feature phones in the mobile media market

Yesterday I noted that on Poynter.org, Damon Kiesow picked up on my call for news organizations to pay more attention to feature phones in their mobile strategies.

See: News publishers need to reach the 74% of Americans on feature phones

But some of comments from journalists who read that story indicate some pretty common misunderstandings that people in the media business often have concerning feature phones.

I’m not faulting my colleagues for these misunderstandings. It’s understandable — they’re as drenched in smartphone/tablet hype as anyone who gets tech news. So I hope no one takes this post as disrespect.

However, since news orgs ostensibly have a mission to serve their entire communities (not just the people who can afford high-end mobile devices), and since advertising and similar revenue models generally work better when you reach more people., I thought I’d point out and clear up some of these feature phone fallacies…

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Why everything is “technology”

A couple of podcasts I listened to recently reminded me that, in a sense, everything is technology. Including your house. Including your eyes.

Give these a listen and you’ll see what I mean:

Why limiting employees’ online presence is a big mistake in journalism and elsewhere

Recently Forrester Research decided on an unfortunate, shortsighted policy. Forrester analysts can no longer can their own personally branded research blogs. They’re allowed to run their own blogs about their personal life or topics unrelated to their work at Forrester. But all their blogging on work-related topics must be done in blogs that are owned by Forrester.

Forrester’s rationale for this, according to VP Josh Bernoff, is that “Forrester is an intellectual property company, and the opinions of our analysts are our product.”

Which IMHO is the equivalent of saying “If you work for us, we reserve the right to own your brain and your social/professional network and reputation.”

Here’s why that’s a bad idea all the way around — not just for research, consulting, and IP companies, but for news organizations and journalists, too… Continue reading

Citizen v. Pro Journalism: Division is Diversion

The house to the right is a small settlement, ...
What, exactly, are journalistic fences supposed to accomplish? (Image via Wikipedia)

Recently Kellie O’Sullivan, a third-year communication student studying at the University of Newcastle in Australia, asked me some questions about citizen journalism for a class assignment. I get questions like this a lot, so she said it was fine if I answered her in a blog post.

The way she framed her questions made me wonder: Why are folks from news organizations and journalism/communication schools still so hung up on building fences to divide amateur from professional journalism? Does this reflect insecurity about their own status/worth, or simply a lack of understanding of how much these endeavors mostly overlap and complement each other?

Seems to me that we’d all gain more by focusing on the practice of reporting and journalism (especially being transparent and open to discussion, correction, and expansion of news and information). In my opinion, doing journalism is more important than what kind of journalist you consider yourself to be, or how others label you.

With that caveat, here’s what she asked, and how I answered… Continue reading

Nokia’s Newer, Dumber Business Model: Sue Apple

More than a year ago, in June 2008, I wrote about how Nokia’s clueless approach to serving the US smartphone market basically handed that market to Apple on a silver platter by the time the 3G iPhone launched.

Last week, GigaOm reported that Nokia is now suing Apple, claiming technology patent infringement. And on Oct. 15 CNET reported on Nokia’s dire slide in the US smartphone market.

According to GigaOm:

“Nokia is looking to collect patent royalties of 1 or 2 percent for each iPhone sold, according to a note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, which — given the roughly 34 million iPhone units already in the hands of users — would amount to $200 million-$400 million. That’s not a lot of money to either company, of course. But Nokia is clearly hoping it can be more successful in the courtroom than it’s been in the marketplace.”

Nokia: Really? Is this what you’ve sunk to?

There are far better ways. Here are some options… Continue reading