Tag Archives: Huffington Post

Save us, iPad!

A lot of media analysts have had a lot to say about Apple’s newly released iPad, so I thought I might have a go at it as well.

At first, I was very enthusiastic. It’s sleek, cool, and much more portable than my MacBook. But then I read more.

HuffingtonPost released this list of 13 Things You NEED to Know about the iPad last week. I was impressed by the iTunes-like library of books and the hi-res screen that makes reading the book much easier. The iPad, in my mind, trumps the Kindle as an eReader, because it allows for color and pictures.

This, I felt, was great news for newspapers, because it speaks to the problems we all have with reading lengthy content online. The New York Times has partnered with Apple to create an app for the iPad. Given that NYT will soon be adopting a pay plan for online content, this strategy seems like a no-brainer.

Blogger Steve Yelvington made some good points about the detriments of this type of newspaper access last week. Yelvington wrote:

What are you going to do, kill your website and sell your “publication” in the App Store? Nonsense. The iPad doesn’t change the economic equation.

I was skeptical until he brought up another good point: the iPad — like the iPhone & iPod Touch, does not permit the use of Flash. And, as Steve pointed out, most online newspaper ads are constructed in Flash.

Ouch.

Writers at the Nieman Lab pondered the same question: will the iPad save newspapers?

My thought: It might. Just not this version and not quite yet.

I was never in the camp with those who believed the Kindle was the answer. It’s just too limited.

MediaCritic writer Scott Rosenberg wrote that the iPad will appease those who seek traditional newspaper reading capabilities online, but it will not help those who are looking for a new, evolved multimedia product.

Agreed.

Still, I think we might be on the right path. But, like any technology, it will take awhile to catch on and for the bugs to be worked out.

People will like that reading the newspaper is easier on the iPad. And, once the Flash issue is sorted out, newspapers that work with advertisers on a per-click pay system will rejoice at the rejuvenated readership. Where there are readers, there is money to be made.

What they (along with Mark Potts) will look for in the next version of the iPad is the ability to do it all. We want a product that makes reading online better AND that has all the capabilities of a laptop, camera, and communicator rolled into one.

Right now, the iPad falls short of a newspaper-saving device. But it feels like the answer (or one of the answers) is a lot closer now.

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HuffPost Pay Plan

This week, The Huffington Post blogger Michelle Haimoff proposed a plan to pay Huff Post bloggers for their work.

Here are a few of her best points:

“The Huffington Post has a responsibility as a new media pioneer to set a payment precedent that values content providers.”

“The voices of the passionate amateurs that The Huffington Post showcases are becoming increasingly homogenous and, in the long-term, a blog dominated by rich people and celebrities will alienate readers that aren’t a part of this demographic.”

Haimoff proposed a pay scale, which, I believe, has some merit. In short, she proposes that not all contributors be paid; just the ones who, each month, garner the most page views, produce the best content, and spend the most time on the site. The plan in complicated, but achievable.

Still, I don’t think this is the answer to Web journalism’s woes.

I had an interesting conversation over lunch yesterday with a group of print journalists. I argued that the non-profit Web-only model will likely be the biggest success in this evolving industry.

My thoughts are this: non-profit publications don’t have to be concerned with turning huge profits. They can keep their staffs small and their readership high by publishing niche sites geared toward smaller communities of people with shared interests. They can make money to pay their staffs because advertisers will like their targeted audience and fair prices.

This solution also helps mitigate the problem (often harped about on sites like Save The News) of hard-working newspaper reporters getting laid off from their jobs because the parent company lost money on some other venture. In the non-profit world, the news is the first, and only, priority.

One of the authors of TravelingMom.com commented on Haimoff’s post. She said their site uses a “revenue sharing plan” to pay bloggers equally while maintaining overhead costs. It appears to be working for them.

This site really speaks to, what I believe, works. They have found their niche audience with, not just moms, but, specifically, “traveling moms.” Although they don’t appear to advertise (at least not in the traditional “banner ad” sense), what advertiser for car seats and kids’ hiking boots wouldn’t want to advertise on that site?

A new Web site, Journalism Online, is attempting to help newspapers figure out what the best way to be profitable is for them. The Daily Finance called the site a “would-be newspaper savior.”

Their mission is “to address the urgent need for a comprehensive, immediate plan to address this downward spiral [of people not paying for news content] in the business of publishing original, quality journalism.”

Amen!

I think bloggers like Haimoff and sites like TravelingMom are taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully, profit greed won’t be allowed to swallow the industry (again).

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