A few catch-up reads sitting in my Instapaper feed.
MEDIASHIFT | Mark Glaser
A French site,OWNI.fr, has found an unusual business model for a site with no ads and no subscriptions — that’s also profitable. How do they do it? Their main business is doing web development and apps for media companies and institutions.
NEW YORK TIMES | Jeremy W Peters
The Week embraced magazine journalism at its most functional and stripped down. Small photographs. Graphics with no bells and whistles. One-hundred-word news bites in unadorned prose and synopses of opinion columns, all culled from what was written the week before by other news organizations around the world. The Week’s formula has worked, and it is testing the tenets of what many editors have come to believe their readers wanted. The Week is both profitable and growing steadily, something few news magazines can claim today.
NIEMAN JOURNALISM LAB | Lois Becket
The Knight Foundation announced a new $975,000 grant to the Texas Tribune and the Bay Citizen, two young nonprofit news organizations, to build an open-source publishing platform designed specifically for news outlets. The new CMS, to be built with Django, will be both SEO- and social media-friendly. More importantly, it will include revenue-raising tools, including ways to manage subscriptions and levels of membership; compatibility with customer service programsand ad networks; and a credit card function for smoothly integrated donations.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW | Joshua Gans
Facebook is delivering on the first task of the news organization. Some Facebook friends might express opinions, but more often they are reporting facts. What is more, because these facts are reported to social connections, they are actually accurate. Nothing binds one to the truth more than the accountability of an ongoing personal relationship. Do you ever hear it exclaimed, “I heard on Facebook that your train broke down and that turned out to be an exaggeration”? Facebook knows this. The company even calls it a “News Feed.” And it is peppered with other news stories coming from mainstream outlets your friends have shared. You can read it like a newspaper (postpost.com) or a magazine (Flipboard for the iPad). Even the games, jokes, surveys, and other attention-grabbing activities on Facebook have a long provenance in newspapers, which are full of games (crosswords and Sudoku), jokes (the comics), and polls. These are a long-standing part of the news experience.
NIEMAN JOURNALISM LAB | Martin Langeveld
In January, I detailed how a hedge fund named Alden Global Capital, which played a role in the shakeup at MediaNews Group, also had significant holdings in newspaper groups Freedom Communications, Philadelphia Newspaper Holdings, Journal Register Company, Tribune, and the Canadian newspaper firm Postmedia Network — all firms with current or recent bankruptcy status. After noticing that Alden also owned, as of December 31, 3.91 percent of Gannett’scommon stock, I surveyed all of the U.S. public newspaper companies to see whether Alden pops up elsewhere as well. It turns out that, other than Alden’s stake in Gannett, there’s little crossover between the principal investors in the public companies and those that have picked up the “distressed opportunities” created by trips through bankruptcy court.