The Media Oxpecker: Facebook Announces Major Changes, Again

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy writing steamy action novels.

  • Facebook announced major changes to its homepage and user profiles yesterday at its annual f8 conference in San Francisco. In the coming weeks, user profiles will adopt a new “timeline” format featuring a wide cover photo that’s reminiscent of the redesigned Gawker sites.

    More relevant to news orgs is the addition of a real-time ticker on the right-hand side of the homepage which, as envisioned by Mark Zuckerberg, will act as a live feed of everything users’ friends are watching, listening, and reading online.

    All Things Digital warns of an impending “oversharing explosion”:

    Now Facebook users won’t necessarily have to endorse or recommend something by liking it, or exert themselves to come up with a witty comment. They can just keep reading, watching and listening as they always have.

    Rest assured, Facebook won’t automatically broadcast the fact that you’re reading this column right now. First, users will have to enable one of the social apps on their profile. On the news front, The Daily, The Guardian, the Washington Post, and Yahoo are among the early entrants.

    What this means for smaller, non-social-app-having news outlets remains an open question, but Facebook’s Vadim Lavrusik says that the new News Feed “learns from you” and so that over time, quality will win over quantity.

    Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo begs to differ, and says that with auto-sharing, “Facebook is killing taste”:

    Three years ago, Zuckerberg noted an astonishing statistic about the Internet—every year, people share twice as much online than they did the year before. If you Liked 100 news stories last year, you’ll Like 200 this year, and 400 next year. People have come to call this Zuckerberg’s Law, and it’s obvious that Facebook sees “sharing” as the cornerstone of its future endeavors. The more that people share through Facebook, the more reasons people will have to keep coming back to Facebook, and the more central Facebook becomes in our lives. So far, this seems to be working: On a single day recently, Zuckerberg said, 500 million people logged in to Facebook.

    For as much as he’s invested in sharing, though, Zuckerberg seems clueless about the motivation behind the act. Why do you share a story, video, or photo? Because you want your friends to see it. And why do you want your friends to see it? Because you think they’ll get a kick out of it. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s somehow eluded Zuckerberg that sharing is fundamentally about choosing. You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a fraction of them, because most of what you do isn’t worth mentioning.

    Village Voice music editor Maura Johnston wonders how the immediacy of the new “timeline” will hinder personal growth, and the escaping of old behavior patterns.

  • How do you ‘convert’ curmudgeon journalists to using Twitter? Steve Buttry has some thoughts on the subject.
  • Joe Strupp wrote an excellent piece about AOL’s Patch for the October issue of New Jersey Monthly. One of the more interesting bits is how Patch analyzes which regions are suitable for a Patch site:

    [President William Webster] says Patch ran every region through an algorithm that included 59 factors—including election turnout, the local business landscape and community involvement in school issues—to determine residential interest in a website covering daily news.

    Strupp says that Patch is betting big on the 2012 presidential race, and is establishing an early presence in the primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Maintaining each individual site, however, isn’t cheap:

    One thing virtually all these websites have in common is a dearth of reliable statistics about traffic. But even if one assumes that the audience for online news is growing, that only raises the editorial bar for the lone wolves who edit each Patch site.

    It’s a “huge problem,” says Alan Mutter, a media analyst based in California. “You have to have news every day.”

    Patch, he says, “has boldly done what most have not—hired someone for each community.” And that, Mutter says, “is an expensive hire.”

    Yet it hardly solves the content problem. “The name of the game is to put up a lot of content all the time, so you have to put up content that is sometimes superficial,” says Mutter. “To get good people to do this you have to pay them a lot of money.”

    Over at Authentically Local, Debbie Galant says she’s ready to “dance on Patch’s grave”:

    We all know how expensive and hard it is to do hyperlocal — but, unlike Patch, we haven’t had $160 million pockets to dig into. We’ve had to do it with our own sweat.

  • How do you get to the top of Google News? A tip sheet.
  • Calling web links “the signposts of the Internet,” the Washington Post‘s Marcus Brauchli wants his reporters to use them more often:

    Without them, we lose readers. This may seem counterintuitive, especially when it comes to external links. But when links are properly placed, they send people deeper into Post content. With external links, we guide readers — with one click — to the report we are quoting or the story from another source we are referencing. With a simple link, we avoid sending readers on a frustrating journey to learn more about what we are already writing about.

  • Nicholas Carr is urging publishers to “raise high the paywalls.”
  • News-oconomist Ken Doctor on why publishers should be jealous of the Wall Street Journal‘s iPad app, WSJ Live:

    Newspaper companies can talk the talk of becoming multimedia companies, but most are still text-bound. WSJ Live is a news video product that does a great job of leveraging the new technologies of the day and converging them to create an easy-on-the-eyes, easy-to-use new consumer product.

  • The New York Times saw a sharp decline in ad revenue in the third quarter. Print ad revenue fell by 10 percent and digital ad revenue fell by 2 to 3 percent.
  • For a Seattle video store, print is still king.
  • Introducing a new demographic group — The Indielectual:

    “The audience that we attract is “indielectual,” [The Awl‘s publisher John] Shankman told The Observer. “That’s the big challenge for us, ‘How do we scale smart?’ What’s happened in a lot of entrepreneurial media companies is they sacrifice quality for the sake of growth,” he added. “We’re not falling victim to that.”

  • Can media companies exist without Apple’s App Store? If the Financial Times‘ web-based mobile app is any indication, then yes.
  • U.S. consumer spending on daily deals will grow from $873 million in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2015, say people who forecast those things.
  • Your CMS sucks.
  • Choire Sicha wants you to stop using the word “lede,” and also:

    Also there are still bloggers who file stories with “#30#” or some variant thereof. GUESS WHAT? I know your story ends there, because the Microsoft Word or Google Doc ENDS THERE TOO.

  • #30#