Posts Tagged ‘digital media’

Digital & Social Media Literacy

July 17, 2012

For the next two weeks, I’m teaching a college-level “Digital & Social Media Literacy” course to high school juniors and seniors through the University’s Pre-College Summer Program.  I decided to create a public blog for the course that can serve as a resource and area of discussion for others interested in the areas of digital media literacy, social media literacy or just digital & social media in general.  I’ll continue to add content to the site throughout the year, after the summer course ends.  I’m teaching a special topics course on Social Media at the University of Hartford next spring and the blog will be a resource and starting point for students enrolled in that course as well.  I’d encourage you to check out the blog and join the conversation.

For the course, I decided to focus the first week on “thinking” about digital & social media, exploring themes, concepts and ideas of digital & social media literacy, disruption and displacement, impact on traditional media, social networks, social media, youth culture, and participatory culture.  I gleaned ideas for readings and assignments from the work of communication scholars Howard Rheingold, Serena Carpenter, and Greg Downey and past syllabi of “social media” courses taught by Barry Hollander and Karen Russell here at UGA.

The second week of my course will focus more on “doing,” the creation and consumption of content through forms and platforms of digital and social media. I’ve been teaching some form of these “week two” assignments, through my “Media & Message: Communicating in the Digital Age” Duke TIP @ UGA summer course, or through my News Editing course, the past three years.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the work of Mark Johnson in advancing the teaching of digital literacies here in the Grady College the past few years.

Developing Digital & Social Media literacies are important and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join others in advancing the cause through teaching and scholarship.

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The Daily dose of hands-on news

February 4, 2011

Now that The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper, has arrived I wanted to provide a quick analysis based on my first impressions.  For starters, the iPad is clearly a game-changer for news designers.  The content is designed specifically for the iPad and the interactivity is impressive.  The Daily  is visually appealing with fun hands-on elements and in-app video streaming.  The Daily gets high marks for its interactivity, design and ease of use.

No offense to those involved in the publication, but the journalistic quality of the content is average at best.  Of course, you get what you pay for.  At 14 cents per issue, I don’t expect the type of quality, explanatory, long-form interpretative journalism that I could find in, say, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.  In pricing The Daily so cheap and devaluing the content it offers, Murdoch may actually be improving the value of his other newspapers.  I’m certainly willing to pay a premium price for content from The Journal.  The Daily dishes up journalism-lite.  But the lack of breadth and depth make for a quick daily read.

In pricing The Daily at 99 cents per week, Rupert Murdoch has effectively invented a new digital business model.  In essence, Murdoch has created a subscription micropayment.  For news content, micropayments are the idea of consumers paying pennies or less per article.  For non-news content, micropayments are usually priced from about $1 to $5.  The iTunes model of charging $1.29 per song download or the mobile modile of selling ringtones for a few bucks are examples of successful media micropayment models.  The Daily, however, offers 100 iPad pages of content per day in a weekly subscription rate of 99 cents.  Subscription strategy meets micropayment price.

The pricing point and iPad-only distribution strategy could very well work. The Daily could prove to be immensely popular and ultimately a success. But what works for one of the world’s biggest media barons does not a successful business model make for the rest of the industry.  While there’s a lot to like about The Daily, the product still remains a destination-seeking site.  You must find the news by downloading the app, pay the subscription and log on and in, rather than news stories finding you through social networks.

I have serious doubts that this app-fueled micropayment-subscription hybrid iPad-exclusive content model could ever work for the majority of the newspaper industry.  Certainly, most of the local daily newspapers with circulations less than 50,000 would lack the resources and capital to create and staff such a publication.  Few, if any, would be able to draw enough readers to justify the ridiculously low pricing point.  This does not even factor in all the non-daily community newspapers with strong print products.

The purpose of offering digital content and digital pricing structures is to obtain new paying customers.  For Murdoch, The Daily will almost certainly achieve that aim.  Other newspapers, with strong print subscribers but few paying online customers, need a platform that will allow them to earn revenue off new readers whose stories find them through the Social Web.  Micropayments are needed.

Imagine this scenario: You are the owner of a community newspaper.  An odd tragedy strikes your town that captures national attention. The national media converge on your town to cover the story, but no media outlet can provide the same level of coverage as you.  Your reporters write compelling, original pieces that no other media outlet carries but the public is clamoring to read.  In essence, your paper has a viral news story.  With a micropayment platform, you could charge a small amount per article.  Suddenly, you have a new revenue stream from thousands of new readers. Granted this is a one-off source and you wouldn’t want to bank on a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence to add money to your coffers, but the principle ideas behind this scenario remain relevant.

The bottom line about The Daily is it is right for Murdoch, (mostly) good for journalism, but the wrong approach for the newspaper industry.

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what The Daily continues to offer. I will gladly plunk down 99 cents each week to read it.  No, scratch that.  I will gladly pay the weekly price to experience The Daily.

Who to Watch in 2011

January 6, 2011

“Innovation” and “entrepreneurship” have become buzz words that are loosely jockeyed about when describing the changing nature of journalism.  You know, you’ll hear “newspapers are horrible innovators” on one side of the coin or “journalists need to develop an entrepreneurial spirit” on the other.  These words often appear again and again on both sides of the digital media debate.  The need for innovation, the need for experimentation among news organizations and traditional legacy media is clear; just as evident is the desire to develop new ways of thinking among would-be startups.  With that in mind, I wanted to provide a list of a few people and organizations worth watching this year for their efforts in social media, news, or digital content.  Some are familiar names and faces from conferences I’ve attended, while others are people I’ve never met. These efforts in entrepreneurship and innovation are worth keeping an eye on in 2011.  Any of these have the potential to be game -changers in a big way:

  • Ingmar Miedema: The Dutch businessman contacted Jameson Hayes and I about our Modified News Micropayment Model.  We’ve been in discussions with him about a number of ventures, including an effort to launch the model.  You’ll want to keep an eye on the Netherlands and Europe as Ingmar’s innovative platform comes alive this year.
  • CarrotPay: This Hong Kong-based company also has a “digital wallet” type technology that would enable many aspects of our model to work.  Ricky Rand’s company has been hard at work trying to get news organizations to use his innovative (there’s that word again!) software.
  • Jim Moroney & the Dallas Morning News:  We first heard Moroney speak at the International Symposium on Online Journalism last year. He said that newspapers must do something differently than the status quo and figure out ways to monetize content. The turn of the year brought action as Moroney unveiled new digital pricing structures for the Dallas Morning News.
  • Susanne Rust & HearSay: This Knight Fellow’s project is a social news game that combines points and a rewards system for news consumption on mobile devices, sort of a Foursquare of news.  Aside from a clear way to monetize the content, in many ways this platform would be a ripe avenue to launch the mobile modified news micropayment model we called for in our original paper (note: this opens a PDF).
  • Pinyadda: We really look forward to seeing what this Boston start-up has to offer because the concept of a personalized social news platform really resonates with myself and my micropayment co-author.  This site seems to harness many of the drivers of our model so we hope it is successful.
  • Krissy Clark: Another 2010 Knight Fellow, who studied the digital humanities during her time at Stanford and launched projects surrounding location aware storytelling.  As a former journalist, I love the use of social media to tell journalistic stories and the audacity that “you can click on the world.” Her website is storieseverywhere.org.
  • New York Times:  As the “The Gray Lady” moves its online content behind paywalls, the rest of the news industry will be watching and awaiting the results. I firmly believe that the Times’ effort to charge for content will succeed. Research I did with another University of Georgia colleague, Amy Sindik, found that Millennials were more likely to pay for the Times online than any other newspaper we studied (the Sindik & Graybeal article is in press in the Journal of Media Business Studies).  The Times‘ has a strong enough brand and reputation for quality journalism with content you simply cannot get anywhere else. These are factors that will influence consumers’ willingness to pay for digital content. Nevertheless, the Times experiment could be a harbinger for the rest of the industry considering paywalls and paid content strategies.
  • PayPal: The largest site for electronic commerce has added micropayments and partnered with Facebook. This could go a long way in increasing the popularity and use of micropayments.
  • Other Knight Fellows:  Quite a few of the 2010 Knight Fellows worked on projects with synergies to our work. John Duncan developed audionewspaper.com as an effort to find a way to get people to pay for content, chiefly radio news reports. Andrew Finlayson studied mobile, video, social media and the Semantic web and chronicled his search for a new viable business model on adigitaljournalist.com, while Gabriel Sama’s Thinking Strategically slides (note: links to a PDF) are worth taking a look at (his “DNA of a publication” on slides 43 and 44 is spot on).  We have a hunch that some of these Fellows’ efforts will prove fruitful and that more could come to fruition as a result. We look forward to seeing what else they accomplish and produce in the digital media, journalism and social media realms.
  • John Paton: The CEO of the Journal Register Group has been leading the digital-first charge for newspapers.  Like Moroney, we saw Paton speak at the International Symposium on Online Journalism last year.  He’s an energizing force in an industry often assailed for inertia, a leader not afraid to make sweeping changes. He’s had success with his in 2010 and will be worth following to see if he can duplicate his successes in 2011.

There are many other great minds, dynamic personalities and driven companies hard at work whose efforts could radically alter the Internet and our online media consumption habits as we know them. I, for one, am excited about what changes are in store in 2011, whether they originate from one of the above or not. I look forward to seeing what the new year has in store for social media, journalism and paid digital content strategies. Feel free to join in the conversation and add to the list.

Micropayments 2.0: Model signs emerge

October 28, 2010

Last year at this time, Jameson Hayes and I were scouring through academic and industry literature and thinking conceptually in order to create a new theoretical micropayment model for news.  The result was a paper presentation at the International Symposium on Online Journalism.  At the same time, we recognized that our “modified micropayment model” had a wider appeal for online media content, not just news content.  Our theoretical micropayment papers have been accepted to two of the most prominent academic journals for media management and economics and should be published within a few months.

Our “Modified News Micropayment Model” was featured on PBS’ MediaShift blog, where host Mark Glaser commented that “it’s a hard concept to grasp because it doesn’t really exist yet.”

That is changing.  Ever since we developed our model, we’ve seen more and more movement to a media ecosystem where our theoretical drivers of microearning, socialization, hyperlocal focus and a centralized banking system are in play.

This week alone, PayPal unveiled a micropayment system for digital goods and partnered with Facebook.  As the TechCrunch post notes, “the Facebook deal is pretty significant because there are a massive amount of micropayments that flow through the social network on a daily basis with Facebook Credits, gaming and more.”

Meanwhile, Nieman reports that the Associated Press plans to launch a new “ASCAP for news,” an independent business to business clearinghouse for online news content.  While this is envisioned for businesses, not individuals, this is in essence a form of microearning in action.  The Nieman post also goes on to state that it envisions the AP clearinghouse approach will enable experimentation with “hyperpersonalized news streams,” socially curated news channels and payment processing services.

Hyperlocal content efforts are also increasing, with groups like AOL’s Patch partnering with journalism schools to cover neighborhoods and communities.

While news content is moving behind paywalls, free television on the Web is also becoming a trend of the past.

“Consumers must be made to realize that nothing is free anymore,” TIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in a blog post quoted in Ryan Nakashima’s AP article.

The media landscape is rapidly changing.  What was once futuristic thinking is slowly, but surely, becoming a reality.

Micropayments 2.0 is here.

 

How TIP has made me a better teacher

August 3, 2010

I just finished my second year of teaching the “Media and Message: Communicating in the Digital Age” course at Duke TIP.  I wanted to reflect on a few ways how  TIP has made me a better teacher.  Here they are:

1)Innovation: For me, I had the opportunity to create the curriculum for a brand-new digital media course from scratch.  The digital media course allows me to teach, learn and study areas different from and beyond the largely “traditional” journalism courses I teach the other 10 months out of the year.  TIP often offers courses you wouldn’t find in your mainstream classroom, such as courses on Villains and Zombies.  Each term, Durham solicits proposals for new courses so as an instructor you have the opportunity to suggest and potentially create new classes.

2)Experimentation:  TIP allows me more flexibility to try new approaches, test out new lesson plans and experiment with new tools and technologies.  Because some of my TIP colleagues come from the College of Education, they have lots of wonderful teaching “TIPs” (nyuk, nyuk) to share that I’ve found success with in the TIP classroom.  If something works well in my TIP course, I can incorporate it into my own college courses.  If a new approach is a miserable failure, I fail quickly, learn from it and move on in a short time frame.  TIP can be a great testing ground, however.  This summer I tried out the new Kodak zi8 cameras that we’ll be using in our revamped JOUR3510 Editing course.

3)Mentoring:  At Grady, I teach mostly college upperclassmen who have a pretty good idea at that point of what they would like to do for a career (or at least a general subject area).  At TIP, I teach middle and high school students who either a)have a slight interest in journalism that use the TIP class as a means to see if they want to take some more journalism electives in school, b)have zero interest in journalism and media or c)definitely want to pursue a journalism career.  For the first and third of those, mentoring is important.  I can help guide these aspiring young journalists in their studies and advise them on the next steps in pursuing a journalism career.  I can see a more direct, instant, meaningful impact on a young TIPster’s life and that is gratifying.

4)No Fear of Fun:  Let’s face it, college journalism classes can be intimidating.  I aim to be fair, but tough in my grading of student assessment.   A single fact error costs you 20 points off your grade on an assignment.  At TIP, there are no grades.  And while TIP provides  a rigorous curriculum for advanced, gifted adolescents, it’s still a summer camp for children.  As such, fun in the classroom is the goal — far from the stereotypical image of a stuffy, boring college lecture.  Teaching at TIP is fun and my students and I aren’t afraid to show it.  TIP allows me to try silly approaches, such as using the “fish hook dance” and playing Blues Traveler when describing the importance of a lead.  Or having TIPsters “do the John Wall” after a lesson on viral video.

5) Classroom Management:  TIP has made me a better classroom manager.  For starters, I rarely if ever have to deal with behavioral issues in a Grady classroom.  I teach young adults afterall.  At TIP, well…kids will be kids.  As brilliant and academically advanced as the TIPsters are, they’re still adolescents who are developing emotionally, behaviorally and cognitively.  As a TIP instructor, you must learn how to deftly address short attention spans, combat bouts of ennui, and deal with relationTIPs, homesickness and medical maladies, among other challenges.  There’s also the time factor.  In college, I teach a few hours two days a week over the course of 16 weeks.  At TIP, we’re in the classroom 7 hours a day on weekdays and three hours on Saturday over the course of 3 weeks.  TIP is intense, and planning 7 hours of daily curriculum can be a daunting task at first.

6)Engagement:  My TIP classroom stresses engagement.  Engagement with the students.  Engagement with the material.  Engagement with the community.  I focus heavily on student-centered learning at TIP, where student editors lead the way in assigning stories for coverage of TIP for the tipatuga blogaThEENs also allowed the TIPsters to engage with the Athens community in a way that, honestly, my college students fail to do.  We had lots of prominent Athenians in the classroom, ranging from Athfest Director Jared Bailey to Darius Weems, the star of “Darius Goes West.”   TIPsters were out in the community, covering Canopy Studios’ trapeze camp and even interviewing Mayor Heidi Davison at the DGW Days Carnival.

Overall, TIP is a wonderful program that I’ve been privileged to be a part of these past two years.