The Media Oxpecker: Why Storytelling Still Matters

Every week we round up media news you may have missed while you were busy homebrewing.

  • EveryBlock was an experiment in data journalism that fell short, says Tom Grubisich. The hyperlocal network failed in part because it wasn’t able to tell compelling stories out of the data it collected:

    Some of the data was surely interesting, like the details about restaurants flunking their sanitation tests or a spate of burglaries or car thefts within a neighborhood. But a lot of the data didn’t rise above the level of an overturned garbage can. How engaging can you make a community conversation about garbage cans or rodent abatement programs in your neighborhood? EveryBlock was a pioneer in collecting, sorting, and filtering data. But it had not progressed to transforming its neat digital piles of information into knowledge.

  • Publishers are shifting their focus away from Facebook as a marketing tool. “Given a choice, a publisher would much rather have someone sign up for an email newsletter or even follow it on Twitter.”

    There was a time, not long ago, when all industries, including publishing, wondered how to turbocharge their growth via Facebook. But as the plunging fortunes of Zynga show, that’s a dangerous proposition. Many publishers are realizing Facebook won’t offer much salvation. Sure, it still drives plenty of traffic, but those numbers aren’t growing as fast — and in some cases, they’re going in reverse.

  • Gannett credited its paywalls for generating “significantly higher” circulation revenue which outpaced ad revenue declines in the final quarter of 2012.

  • Ken Doctor talks about the future and promise of print media.

  • As if daily newspapers aren’t facing enough challenges already, Alan Mutter identifies a new threat — mobile coupons:

    In addition to being a major revenue source for publishers, [preprinted ad circulars] have an even bigger impact on profitability. “Preprint advertising accounts for 70% of the Sunday revenues at the average newspaper,” said one industry executive who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak for his organization. With the Sunday paper producing “most of the profitability” for many publishers, he added, the health of the preprint business has a significant bearing on the bottom line of almost every publisher.

  • Digiday says thanks, but no thanks, to the 224 pageviews that resulted from having one of its original stories aggregated by Business Insider. The aggregated piece, meanwhile, generated over 1,500 pageviews for Business Insider, which means it gained “that many ‘welcome ad’ impressions along with multiple banners and a ‘native’ video ad.”

    Based on my experience, I can’t help but wonder if BI’s “efficiency” is bought at the expense of others. It’s like European countries bragging about low defense spending while relying on the U.S. to do the heavy lifting through NATO. It’s easy to be efficient when you draft off others.

    Business Insider editor/CEO/troll Henry Blodget responded with a blog post titled “Thank You For Aggregating Us!” As of this writing, Blodget’s “thank you” post has received 3,600+ pageviews and counting.

  • Reuters deputy editor Ryan McCarthy on the massive oversupply problem in web media, which is dragging down ad prices:

    If you’re working in media now you shouldn’t be worried about getting your website to hit 20 or 30 million uniques — if ad rates continue to fall, even websites of that size may not be economically viable. Instead, media companies should be doing everything they can can to improve the economic value of their work (which may not mean more pageviews).

  • Are we seeing less coverage of the recent New York Times buyouts because media reporting has changed, or because there’s less interest in what happens at traditional media giants like the Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast?

  • A report by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage (PIEC) says that environmental stories represent just 1 percent of news headlines in the U.S.

  • Longform sportswriting finds a new life on the web.

  • Investigative journalist Teri Buhl claims her public tweets aren’t ‘publishable,’ threatens to sue blogger who publishes them.

  • How some marketers are using Vine.

  • eCape CEO Julie Brooks says mom-and-pop companies are displaying less willingness to pay for social media management:
    They’re not willing to pay my company — or anyone else — hundreds of dollars a month to market their company on Facebook or Twitter; instead they are diverting those dollars to pay per click options, SEO, optimizing their websites for conversion and mobile, or targeted local media advertising.

  • A new study says that for many companies, social media is just another task in the job description for communicator positions.

  • Daniel Gross on the death of massive newspaper headquarters buildings.

  • “In writing, first do no harm,” says Ben Yagoda.

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates says writing a column for the New York Times is harder than it looks.

  • “No paywall can keep me from loving you” — Valentines for journalists.

  • And finally, a cry for help from a social media community manager:

    I wrote a guest post for a high-profile social media blog yesterday. It got 200 shares on Facebook, and yet I felt nothing. Do they like the brand or me? I can’t even tell anymore. My social profiles are so integrated into the fabric of the company that I look in the mirror and all I see is the dashboard of Google Analytics.

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