This Week’s Headlines: Ray Bradbury Dies, Fired GOOD Staffers Start New Venture

The blogosphere was abuzz with news of Ray Bradbury’s passing and a new publication from the fired staff of GOOD Magazine. Here’s a look at media and publishing news that caught that caught our eyes this week:

  • Ray Bradbury, 91, visionary writer of worlds near and far: On Tuesday night, legendary author Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91. Journalists, freelance writers, and other reflected on the impact Bradbury had on movies and publishing during his 71-year career. Bradbury had authored books including The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
  • Fired GOOD Magazine Staff Announce New Venture – Tomorrow: Also on Tuesday, editorial staffers fired from GOOD Magazine announced on Tumblr that they are starting a new publication called Tomorrow. Details are still vague but according to the staffers announcement, “We want to get out of our comfort zone and push others to do the same. We want to meet and introduce you to great people.”
  • Wattpad raises $17 million to become the YouTube of writing: Toronto-based startup Wattpad announced on Wednesday at Book Expo America that it has raised $17.3 million in Series B funding. The social-reading platform lets authors upload content and connect directly to readers. A partner at Kosla Ventures, which led the funding, predicted that Wattpad could transform writing and publishing similar to how YouTube transformed video.
  • Newspapers Cut Days From Publishing Week: After New Orleans’ Times-Picayune announced plans to reduce its print schedule to three days a week, several other newspapers have followed suit. While this strategy can help papers cut costs, it’s unclear how the move impacts advertisers and newspaper readership. Times-Picayune staffers were told their priorities would shift to writing for the web, and they expect job cuts in the future.

This Week’s Headlines: New AP Stylebook, NYT Inks Deal with Hulu

This week brought an interesting mix of social media news and more serious headlines out of Syria. A look at the headlines that caught our eyes this week:

  • The First Pinterest-Enabled Magazine: Plenty of magazines have Pinterest-enabled websites, but with its June issue, House Beautiful became the first to create a Pinterest-enabled print publication. Thanks to an invisible watermark printed in the magazine’s pages, readers can scan pictures with their smartphone and pin the images to their Pinterest boards. We’ll be interested in seeing how quickly readers catch on and whether other lifestyle publications follow suit.
  • Now playing: The New York Times signs on to Hulu to reach a new audience for its long videos: The NYT will soon join news outlets like ABC News and the Wall Street Journal on popular video site Hulu.com, posting short documentaries on the Hulu site as part of a content licensing agreement. Ann Derry, head of the Times’ video department, says the paper’s new Hulu channel will help raise awareness about the paper.
  • AP uses itself as an example in Stylebook’s social media chapter: The Associated Press released the new AP Stylebook on Wednesday, and it includes the AP’s own guidelines on retweets. The AP’s strict stance on not writing tweets in a way that express personal opinion is controversial, and some journalists have criticized the AP for not mentioning this controversy in the Stylebook.
  • Syria Sees No Need for Journalists to Investigate Massacre: Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, says there is no need for journalists and freelance writers to investigate last week’s massacre in the village of Houla, because the Syrian government is conducting its own investigation. He said that Channel 4 News, which produced a video report on the massacre, should have shared its information with the government rather than releasing the video the public and urged reporters not to “base your information on reports.”
  • Penguin, Macmillan respond to DOJ in e-book price fixing suit: Two major publishers have filed responses to the Department of Justice’s e-book price fixing lawsuit. In their responses, Penguin and Macmillan both say many of the conversations mentioned in the lawsuit are not relevant to e-book pricing.

How TabTimes Monetizes Content for and about Tablets

TabTimes

On Wednesday, TabTimes released TabTimes for iPad, a free business magazine focusing on tablets. (The TabTimes website launched in November.) Intrigued by such a niche publication and how it monetizes content, Ebyline talked to Patrick Pierra, publisher of TabTimes, about the publication’s business model and content platforms.

Is there a difference between the content available through the website and the iPad app?
Most of the content is the same. What we do is we filter some of the content out of the iPad app. For instance, some content that would be relevant mostly for users of other platforms like Android. All the articles are on the website, but if you’re using an iPad, telling you how to do something specific on the Android wouldn’t be relevant to you.

Nowadays a lot of publishers claim to be platform-agnostic, delivering content via email, RSS, online, through smartphone apps, and so on. Are there plans to offer TabTimes on other devices as well? Or do you plan to focus specifically on the iPad?
We’re working an Android tablet version and we’ll also work soon on a Window s8 version. In our specific case, because we cover tablets so we really have to be aware and keep on top of what’s happening in that space, also to try to master or at least to understand how each platform works and be closer to the evangelists. For Windows 8, it’s important for us to be in the hands of the very first people who have Windows 8.

What is the monetization strategy for the free app?
The iPad app is sponsored by FileMaker and Accellion. Both of these companies provide software-type services for professional users like web content writers, so after launch, we plan to have sponsorship programs with a limited number of sponsors during each period, providing them with good exposure: logos on the splash page when people open the app and in other places. That’s the main monetization.

Have you explored using paywalls or premium content models?
Not really in terms of paywalls. Last we launched a product which is an ebook called How to Deploy Tablets in Your Organization. We sell that on our site or the app for $49. It’s a PDF document that is displays really well on tablets. We’ll explore these products in the future. Obviously, we’re mostly B2B. We’re a business focused publication so these kinds of products for companies who considering deploying tablets make sense. We go in-depth on four case studies of organizations who’ve actually deployed tablets.

This Week’s Headlines: New Applications Team at NPR, Pakistan Bans Twitter

Happy Memorial Day weekend! Here’s a look at the media and publishing headlines that caught our eyes this week:

  • NPR creates news applications team as part of strategy for ‘multimedia audio’: Despite reports from The Washington Post that NPR is running a $2.6 million deficit halfway through the fiscal year, the news organization is building a seven-person news application team headed by Brian Boyer of The Chicago Tribune.
  • Pakistan’s Ban on Twitter is a Test of Censorship Ahead of Elections: For eight hours on Sunday, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) banned Twitter after the social networking site didn’t respond to a complaint about allegedly blasphemous tweets. Many see this move as a sign that the country’s civilian government could restrict free speech as the election approaches. However, some Twitter users were still able to access the site through proxy servers.
  • Sequel to Pulitzer-Winning ‘Goon Squad’ to Debut on Twitter: This week, the New Yorker announced plans to release “Black Box,” a sequel to Jennifer Egan’s award-winning novel, A Visit from the Good Squad, in 140 character installments on Twitter. The story will appear in its entirety in the New Yorker‘s science fiction issue, scheduled to arrive in newsstands next week.
  • Senate Cybersecurity Bills Under Fire From CISPA Opponents: In response to a proposed US Senate bill on cybersecurity, Fight for the Future has started a campaign called “Privacy is Awesome.” The Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CIPSA) would give companies and the government permission to web users’ personal information, which the nonprofit advocacy group claims the bill would threaten online privacy.
  • Google takes down 1.2 million search links a month over piracy, copyright issues: On Thursday, Google released data on the millions of links it removes from search results following requests from content owners and content writers. The report shows that the company takes down a quarter million search results each week, more than the number of links removed in an entire year back in 2009.

Why Local Stories Require Local Reporters

local news

Robert Niles of The Online Journalism Review recently blogged about the importance of using local writers to cover local news. Rather than importing journalism grads eager to work their way up to bigger markets or using telecommuting freelancers from halfway around the world, he suggests focusing on people who are already entrenched in that community:

So your local writers better really be local writers, people are from – and of – that community. This goes for niche topic sites, too, and not just for geographically focused publications. Writers for niche sites must be insiders of the community they cover, as well – individuals with passion for and personal experience in the topic they cover.

What does this mean? If you’re a manager at a national news chain, it’s time to zero out the relocation budget, if you haven’t already. Make local publications hire exclusively from candidates in their local markets. It’s time to reconnect with those communities. Promote from within at your titles, too. If “outsiders” really want to work at one of your publications, insist that they move to that community on their own, first.

We completely agree with Niles’ observations, but we also understand the challenges of finding local writers with strong reporting chops. Local news organizations don’t have bottomless pockets for finding or training journalists either. One of our goals at Ebyline is to help news outlets identify journalists with a specific beat experience or geographic location. Need an environmental reporter in Southern Florida or a crime reporter in Detroit? Using our database of experienced freelancers, editors can search by topic, location, or other parameters, then assign stories to freelancers and manage deadlines and payment in a single platform.

And for journalists and article writers looking to hone their local reporting chops, the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism offers free online training sessions on localizing stories and understanding data. Their July 10 webinar is on finding local job stories in BLS data.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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