The Media Oxpecker: Long-Form Lives On

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy photoshopping the Mayor of Toronto.

  • In a report from within the confines of the newly-erected New York Times paywall, David Carr writes about The Atavist, a company that is trying to make it easier to read long-form journalism on the various platforms of daily life:

    All the richness of the Web—links to more information, videos, casts of characters—is right there in an app displaying an article, but with a swipe of the finger, the presentation reverts to clean text that can be scrolled by merely tilting the device.

    Carr notes that with The Atavist, readers will be able to “begin reading the piece at home and then when driving to work, toggle to an audio version.”

  • Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan says of the recent backlash against Groupon—It’s the Business Model, Stupid:

    . . . it’s not that Groupon is tricky; we haven’t heard the company accused of obfuscating its terms. The problem is that businesses sign on with overly rosy ideas of the return they’ll get for their investment. Groupon often takes half of the money of a coupon offering for itself, and, with a 50% discount, leaves the business selling its goods for 25 cents on the dollar.

    In other words, small businesses looking to get a piece of the daily deal craze should run the numbers first.

  • Groupon is also facing lawsuits regarding its use of expiration dates.
  • A U.S. District Judge threw out a lawsuit alleging extortion by Yelp:

    In a recent order, she wrote that the plaintiffs’ complaints against Yelp were “entirely speculative,” and dismissed their lawsuit. However, they do have a chance to amend their complaint and add more detail, so the lawsuit isn’t dead yet.

  • Gannett is getting ready to unveil over 100 revamped local newspaper and TV station websites—which roughly equates to one website for every page of its logo usage guidelines—that will offer uniform ad slots allowing for national ad buys across its network.

    In addition, the new sites will have heavier video and photo gallery capability, which will presumably also lead to higher ad sales:

    Adding urgency to the company’s Web overhaul is the influx of new players in the local space from AOL’s hyperlocal news initiative Patch to the Yahoo Contributor Network to Facebook Places and Google Places. To counter these emerging rivals, Gannett sites have added a community news section below top stories that lets users select the particular town or neighborhood they want news about.

  • The AP News Registry announced it will support the “Do Not Track” header by Mozilla Firefox. The feature allows Firefox users to set their preferences so that cookies aren’t set by the websites they visit. The only downside? It’s completely voluntary, which is why the AP’s voluntary acceptance is a big deal.
  • We’re probably the largest net hirer of journalists on the planet.”
  • Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffery on her copious consumption of Twitter:

    I’m mystified by how few magazine and newspaper editors are themselves on Twitter. Social media is becoming a main traffic driver for us, and certainly the online audience most likely to convert to subscribers or donors. I think you need to be in that mix to understand the implications it has for both your newsgathering and your revenue streams.

  • This sounds about right: 50 percent of tweets consumed are generated by just 20,000 elite users. Or, as the authors note later in the study: “Roughly 0.05% of the population accounts for almost half of all attention.”
  • The Nieman J-Lab has more Twitter tips based on research by Dan Zarrella of HubSpot:

    If your goal is to drive more traffic to your site, you should show a little more restraint; accounts that share two or more links an hour show a dramatically lower clickthrough rate than those who share no more than one.

    Retweet activity is highest late in the work day, between 2 and 5 p.m., and the sweet spot (tweet spot?) is 4 p.m., Zarrella’s analysis found. Late in the week is most retweetable, too.

  • The Onion: It’s almost as if the New York Times is equating itself with a business trying to function in a capitalistic society.
  • Even if you agree with the merits of the paywall, one has to ask: How on earth did the Times manage to spend upwards of $40 million on its creation??
  • The Guardian (U.K.) plans to expand in the U.S. and says the new entity “will be significantly larger than anything we’ve done in the states before.”
  • A group of media organizations—including the Washington Post, AP, Gannett, Getty Images, Time, Dow Jones—sent a cease-and-desist letter today to Zite, an Apple iPad news reader app.
  • Poynter: Ranking of newspapers’ market penetration indicates the market matters as well as the content.
  • Beginning Monday, if you still want to be able to read the stylings of Dr. Peter Gott in the Tulsa World, you’re going to have to start paying for it. The Oklahoma publication is erecting its under-$40-million-paywall on April 4.
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