August 22, 2007

blogs challenging traditional news sites

PC World - 'Citizen Media' Gains on Pros

The Internet is a threat to traditional news organizations, which no longer have the advantage of being the first to report breaking news online, according to a Harvard University study released Thursday.

Researchers at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics & Public Policy found that nontraditional media Web sites, including aggregators, bloggers, search engines and service providers, were growing faster than Web sites connected to traditional news media outlets, such as newspapers. The researchers studied the traffic of 160 news sites for one year, from April 2006 to April 2007.

The Web sites of Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and AOL LLC, as well as MSN and smaller sites such as topix.net, digg.com and reddit.com experienced large increases in traffic.

"Between April 2006 and April 2007, Digg's unique monthly visitors grew from under 2 million to more than 15 million," the study said, adding that Reddit and Topix grew from less than 50,000 visitors a month to more than 700,000.

However, news organizations can still prosper on the Web if they can adapt, the study said.

"Local news organizations are 'brand names' within their communities, which can be used to their advantage," according to the study. "Their offline reach can also be used to drive traffic to their sites. Most important, they have a product -- the news -- that people want. Ironically, some news organizations do not feature the day's news prominently on their Web sites, forgoing their natural advantage."

While traffic to the Web sites of nationally known newspapers grew by 10 percent, traffic to the Web sites of lesser-known newspapers decreased by varying percentages, according to the study.

August 18, 2007

MercatorNet - Focus on media: Magazines faking the feminine by Selena Ewing

Magazine images of women and girls have changed over recent decades, perhaps reflecting the changes in women's status. It's not all good news, though. In the 1970s and 1980s, magazine advertisements stereotyped women by showing them smaller and taking up less space than men, being controlled by or dependent on men, and in less prestigious occupations. Now, women are more often shown as independent and professional.

But they are also shown wearing a lot less. They now more often appear staring vacantly or seeming disoriented, being psychologically removed from their situation. There are many more sexualised images of women - that is, images which focus on a woman's sexual features or capacity, rather than any other aspect of herself such as her work personality.

August 12, 2007

Newspapers slant due to readers not owners

When it comes to slant, newspaper readers rule

In a fascinating study last year, University of Chicago researchers Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro built a statistical construct to study the forces that determine political content in the news. What they learned is that readers, not owners, play the largest role in determining the slant of newspapers. Consumer political attitudes were found to be responsible for about 20 per cent of the variation in slant. Nothing else came close.

In their study, What Drives Media Slant, the researchers examined partisan phrases used by members of the U.S. Congress in the 2005 Congressional Record, identified 1,000 used more frequently by one party over the other, and then indexed 400 daily newspapers according to how closely the use of phrases in political news coverage resembled the phrases in the speech of Republicans or Democrats.

For example, "tax relief" and "global war on terror" were identified as Republican; "tax break for the wealthy" and "war in Iraq" were deemed Democrat. From a Canadian perspective, of course, both U.S. parties lean to the right of the federal Conservatives, but that is not germane to the veracity of the study's findings.

The researchers applied their index to measure the impact of market forces on slant. Using zip-code data on newspaper circulation, they established that newspapers with a right-wing slant, not surprisingly, circulated more in heavily Republican zip codes. With this information, they were able to compute the slant that would maximize readership for each paper and estimated that even a small deviation from what they describe as the profit-maximizing slant would result in a loss of circulation of 3.4 per cent. Indeed, an owner would have to be prepared to pay between 68 cents US and $4.20 per reader per year to reduce the gap between the actual slant to a preferred slant by one standard deviation.

August 10, 2007

Internet news users critical of news organizations

Summary of Findings: Internet News Audience Highly Critical of News Organizations

The American public continues to fault news organizations for a number of perceived failures, with solid majorities criticizing them for political bias, inaccuracy and failing to acknowledge mistakes. But some of the harshest indictments of the press now come from the growing segment that relies on the internet as its main source for national and international news.

The internet news audience – roughly a quarter of all Americans – tends to be younger and better educated than the public as a whole. People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers.

The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).

August 6, 2007

Internet provides newspapers with opportunities

Center for Media Research - Daily Brief

The Internet Seen As An Opportunity for Newspapers

A recent study of America's top 100 newspaper websites, entitled "American Newspapers and the Internet; Threat or Opportunity?" by Bivings Research, noting that using the Internet to expand a newspaper's reach is becoming more and more important, reports that ninety-two percent of America's top 100 papers now offer video on their websites... a significant jump from 2006, where just 61 percent offered video. In this group:

* Thirty-nine papers offer original content
* 26 use AP video streams
* 13 offer video content from local news outlets
* Four use all three technologies
* Ten papers use a mixture of two different types of video

Erin Teeling, New Media Associate, The Bivings Group, says "While many industry experts fear that the Internet will spell the end of newspapers as we know them, ... (the team at) TBG feels that the Internet presents newspapers with a unique opportunity to make up for lost circulation and readership. (The) study explores... the difficulties facing newspapers regarding online advertising, shrinking staffs, and reaching out to consumers."

Some additional key findings:

* 93 papers offer RSS partial text feeds, while three offer full text RSS feeds. No papers have begun embedding advertisements in their RSS feeds.
* 95 percent of papers offer at least one reporter blog. Ninety-three percent of these blogs allow comments. In 2006, 80 percent of the papers offered blogs, with 83 percent allowing comments.
* 67 percent of newspapers now allow comments on articles. This represents a 14% improvement on 2006 statistics, when only 19 percent of papers allowed comments on articles.
* 29 percent of the nation's top 100 papers now require users to register before gaining full access to their website, up 6 percent from last year. Three papers required a paid subscription, while 26 papers required free registration.

August 4, 2007

Under the influence - Los Angeles Times

Under the influence
Savvy marketing whets our appetite for prescription pharmaceuticals. Consumers, doctors, researchers -- no one is immune
By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 6, 2007

FOR many Americans, a doctor's decision to prescribe medication is something of a sacred transaction. A physician considers the patient and symptoms and chooses the best drug for the job, drawing upon years of training and clinical experience. It is an exchange conducted in a hushed sanctuary, far from the heat and noise of the marketplace -- a place where cool judgment reigns.

That sanctuary has been breached. Today, drug manufacturers do everything in their considerable power to ensure that their brand-name prescription medications are on the lips of patients and in the minds of physicians every time the two meet across an exam table. A growing chorus of critics says their efforts have begun to rewrite the dialogue between patient and doctor, influence physicians' judgments and open the act of prescribing to forces more profit-minded than sacred.

In 2006, drug-makers spent almost $5 billion to reach out to consumers with direct advertising. But the glossy magazine ads and buzz-generating TV spots are just the most visible parts of a campaign to build and nourish markets for brand-name prescription products. The world's pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $19 billion annually to woo doctors. They sponsor teaching programs and research at universities across the country, gaining goodwill along the way. They give money to patient groups. They hire public relations firms to share patient stories of illness and triumph.

In a nation that consumed $279-billion worth of prescription medications in 2006 -- spending 80% of that on brand-name products -- their efforts appear to be paying off. Americans filling a prescription choose brand-name products 37% of the time, even though three-quarters of all prescription drugs in the U.S. are available in cheaper generics.

August 3, 2007

Study: News is scandalous

Too much emphasis on celebrities
By Paul J. Gough

Aug 3, 2007
NEW YORK -- Americans say the media is to blame for the saturation of celebrity coverage on TV, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center for People & the Press said Thursday that 87% of respondents said celebrity scandals get way too much ink and airtime. Only 8% think the media gets the balance between celebrity and serious news right, while 2% told the surveyors that there wasn't enough celebrity scandal coverage.

There's been no shortage of scandals to report on in 2007, from the death of Anna Nicole Smith and the subsequent custody battle over her infant daughter to the jail saga of heiress Paris Hilton. Despite the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a presidential campaign already under way, celebrity stories oftentimes have taken over the news. Pew found that 24% of all news was devoted to Smith at the time of her death, while 12% of all Americans said in early June that Hilton's incarceration was their most-followed news story of the week.

The survey found that cable news is most to blame for the ongoing celebrity coverage, with 34% of respondents saying cable news had the most celebrity coverage, followed by network TV news (27%), Internet news sites (15%) and newspapers (8%).

August 1, 2007

ONLINE NEWSPAPER AUDIENCE SETS RECORDS IN SECOND QUARTER

ONLINE NEWSPAPER AUDIENCE SETS RECORDS IN SECOND QUARTER

Unique Audience, Page Views and Time Spent Jump in Second Quarter

Arlington, Va. – More than 59 million people (37.3 percent of all active Internet users) visited newspaper Web sites on average during the second quarter of 2007, a record number that represents a 7.7 percent increase over the same period a year ago, according to custom analysis provided by Nielsen//NetRatings for the Newspaper Association of America. In addition, newspaper Web site visitors generated nearly 2.7 billion page views per month throughout the quarter, compared to slightly more than 2.5 billion during the same period last year. The second quarter figures are the highest for any quarter since NAA began tracking these numbers in 2004.

May 2007 also was a record-breaking month for the industry; more than 60 million people visited newspaper Web sites that month, more than any month on record. This figure represents a 6.7 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

July 26, 2007

Pew study: one in five view online video daily

Pew Internet: Online Video

Online Video: 57% of internet users have watched videos online and most of them share what they find with others

7/25/2007 | MemoReport | Mary Madden

The growing adoption of broadband combined with a dramatic push by content providers to promote online video has helped to pave the way for mainstream audiences to embrace online video viewing. Fifty-seven percent of online adults have used the internet to watch or download video, and 19% do so on a typical day. Three-quarters of broadband users (74%) who enjoy high-speed connections at both home and work watch or download video online.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project's first major report on online video also shows how many video viewers have contributed to the viral and social nature of online video. More than half of online video viewers (57%) share links to the video they find with others, and three in four (75%) say they receive links to watch video that others have sent to them.

Video viewers who actively exploit the participatory features of online video, such as rating content, posting feedback or uploading video, make up the motivated minority of the online video audience. Young adults are the most active participants in this realm.

newspapers need to include more young writers

Hungry for younger readers, newspapers should embrace their voices | csmonitor.com

Hungry for younger readers, newspapers should embrace their voices
Declining newspaper readership, especially among the young, is forcing editors to reexamine their focus.
By Larry Atkins


Philadelphia - Why is it that every time an issue concerning young people arises, the newspaper op-eds commenting on those issues are almost always written by people in their 40s, 50s, or 60s? Whether it's a columnist or a parent talking about their child's college graduation or how kids in the 1950s settled disputes with their fists instead of guns, it's a tired old paradigm.

If newspapers want to reach out to younger readers, they need to include their voices.

For the past few years, many people and publishers have lamented that young adults tend not to read newspapers.

A report released July 10 by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University showed that young people do not follow the news closely. Only 16 percent of 18- to 30-year-olds surveyed in the study said that they read a newspaper every day and 9 percent of teenagers said that they did.

Circulation is declining for most major American daily newspapers, including 8 percent for the Los Angeles Times, 6.7 percent for The Boston Globe, and 5.3 percent for the San Francisco Chronicle, according to the semiannual Audit Bureau of Circulations' Fall 2006 report.

The declines in newspaper readership are greatest among young adults and the younger segment of baby boomers, reports the Columbia Journalism Review.

Most young people tend to get their news from the Internet or television shows such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I teach journalism as an adjunct professor at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa., and Temple University in Philadelphia. Each semester, when I go around the room to see where my students get their news, hardly anyone mentions daily newspapers.

In the past few years, some newspapers have attempted to reach out to this younger group. In November 2002, The Chicago Tribune started a special tabloid geared toward younger readers called RedEye, which has 280,000 daily readers. Newsday has a weekly "New Voices" feature, which encourages college, high school, and middle school students to submit op-eds. The Boston Globe just started a teen publication called Boston Teens in Print, or TiP, which is written by teens.

July 25, 2007

New Global Study From MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft Challenges Assumptions About Relationship Between Kids, Youth & Digital Technology

New Global Study From MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft Challenges Assumptions About Relationship Between Kids, Youth & Digital Technology
PR Newswire

LARGEST-EVER STUDY SURVEYED 18,000 KIDS AND YOUTH FROM 16 COUNTRIESREPORT HIGHLIGHTS DIFFERENCES IN HOW TECHNOLOGY IS USED ACROSS CULTURES
July 24, 2007: 12:23 PM EST

NEW YORK and LONDON, July 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The average Chinese young person has 37 online friends he or she has never met, Indian youth are most likely to see mobile phones as a status symbol, while one in three UK and US teenagers say they can't live without their games console.

Globally, the average young person connected to digital technology has 94 phone numbers in his or her mobile phone, 78 people on a messenger buddy list and 86 people in his or her social networking community. Yet despite their technological immersion, digi-kids are not geeks -- 59% of 8-14 year-old kids still prefer their TV to their PCs and only 20% of 14-24 year-old young people globally admitted to being "interested" in technology. They are, however, expert multi-taskers and able to filter different channels of information.

These are just some of the findings from the largest-ever global study undertaken by MTV and Nickelodeon, in association with Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, into how kids and young people interact with digital technology. The Circuits of Cool/Digital Playground technology and lifestyle study challenges traditional assumptions about their relationships with digital technology, and examines the impact of culture, age and gender on technology use.

July 24, 2007

Media needs to be more transparent to be trusted

For news media, transparency is a matter of trust -- chicagotribune.com

"Journalists are not only reluctant to explain what they know and how they know it," the report said, "their news organizations are also often loath to admit mistakes and loath to publicly state their policies regarding their internal journalistic and ethical guidelines."

The University of Maryland-based group looked at five categories to rate a news outlet's transparency: willingness to correct mistakes, receptivity to reader criticisms, and openness about ownership, editorial policies and conflicts of interest.

Overall, print tended to be more transparent than broadcast, but there were exceptions. Tops in transparency were The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC News, CBS News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio.

The worst? Time magazine, CNN, ITN, Sky News and Al Jazeera (English).

"Transparency is essential because it's inextricably tied to credibility," said Susan Moeller, director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda. "Transparency doesn't ensure accuracy. But it does ensure that when a news outlet makes a mistake ... its audience can be assured that the news outlet is going to admit to it and correct it and will have policies in place for following it up."

The report also found that only seven of the 25 news outlets have an ombudsman who acts as a liaison with the public -- five newspapers, NPR and CBS.

July 19, 2007

What ads do people skip though on TIVO

Advertising Age - How to Stop Them From Skipping: TiVo Tells All

How to Stop Them From Skipping: TiVo Tells All
Data Show Direct-Response Ads Hold Their Own in DVR Homes

By Brian Steinberg

Published: July 16, 2007
Can advertisers craft TV ads that will make viewers less eager to zap through them with a digital-video recorder? New data from TiVo seem to indicate two approaches that keep viewers' fingers off the fast forward are at opposite ends of the spectrum: either a bare-bones, direct-response model or the entertaining, high-production-value approach of movie ads.

GenderAds.com: resource for critiquing gender representations in ads

Gender Ads.Com

Gender Ads.com was begun a number of years ago to provide gender studies educators and students with a resource for analyzing the advertising images that relate to gender. Its founder, Dr. Scott A. Lukas, had produced a PowerPoint that focused on gender and advertising, and because students had requested copies of the presentation, he decided to produce a website to host the images and interpretations. Since the PowerPoint was produced with 100 images, the website has grown to over 2,500 advertising images, and it is one of the largest collections of gender-related advertising materials on the Internet.

July 18, 2007

Companies pull some, but no all, food ads for children

Food companies yanking some ads aimed at children

Food companies yanking some ads aimed at children

Trix are no longer for kids -- at least not on children's television shows. But Cocoa Puffs are another matter.

By Brooks Barnes, New York Times

Last update: July 17, 2007 – 10:23 PM

Trix are no longer for kids -- at least not on children's television shows. But Cocoa Puffs are another matter.

Trying to convince critics they don't need government regulation, 11 food companies, including McDonald's, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo, have agreed to stop advertising products that do not meet certain nutritional standards for children younger than 12.

Some of the companies, such as Coca-Cola, have already pulled all such commercials or are in the process of doing so. Others, such as General Mills, said they would pull them over the next year or so.

Still, the agreements will likely amount to a ripple rather than a sea change in terms of what foods children see pitched on their favorite television shows and websites. For example, while General Mills will no longer be advertising Trix to the 12-and-under crowd, it will continue to peddle Cocoa Puffs, which have one less gram of sugar per serving. And it will be able to continue advertising Trix on TV shows and other venues that are considered to cater to "families" rather than just children.

That qualifier amounts to a major loophole, given the media-watching habits of children. An episode of Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants," for instance, is viewed by an average audience of 876,000 children ages 6 to 11, according to Nielsen Media Research, and falls in the category of shows that are off-limits to ads for junk food. But Fox's "American Idol," which qualifies as a family show, attracts 2.1 million children in the age group.