Monday, March 26, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N13): Pew Reports: News Isn't Dead Yet, Slow Reading, Odd Titles + More

The Pew Research Center published their annual State of Media report this week and the research suggests some interesting trends are developing in the manner in which readers are accessing news.  Specifically, the research suggests that the rapid spread of mobile devices is also escalating our level of news consumption with traditionally news brands standing to benefit.  Here is their press release summary:
  • Americans are far more likely to get digital news by going directly to a news organization’s website or app than by following social media links. Just 9% of digital news consumers say they follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter “very often” on any digital device — compared with 36% who say the same about directly going to a news organization’s site or app; 32% who access news through search; and 29% who use news organizing sites like Topix or Flipboard.
  • Even so, social media are an increasingly important driver of news, according to traffic data. According to PEJ’s analysis of traffic data from Hitwise, 9% of traffic to news sites now comes from Facebook, Twitter and smaller social media sites. That is up by more than half since 2009. The percentage coming from search engines, meanwhile, has dropped to 21% of news site traffic, from 23% in 2009.
  • Facebook users follow news links shared by family and friends; Twitter users follow links from a range of sources. Fully 70% of Facebook news consumers get most of their story links from friends and family.  Just 13% say most links that they follow come from news organizations. On Twitter, however, the mix is more even: 36% say most of the links they follow come from friends and family, 27% say most come from news organizations, and 18% mostly follow links from non-news entities such as think tanks. And most feel that the news they get on either network is news they would have seen elsewhere without that platform.
  • Most media sectors saw audience growth in 2011 — with the exception of print publications. News websites saw the greatest audience growth (17%) for the year. In addition, thanks in part to the drama of events overseas, every sector of television news gained in 2011. Network news audiences grew 5%, the first uptick in a decade. Local news audiences grew in both morning and late evening, the first growth in five years. Cable news audiences also grew, by 1%, after falling the year before; in particular, MSNBC and CNN audiences grew in 2011, while Fox declined. Print newspapers, meanwhile, stood out for their continued decline, which nearly matched the previous year’s 5% drop. Magazines were flat.
  • Despite audience gains, only the web and cable news enjoyed ad revenue growth in 2011. Online advertising increased 23%, and cable ads grew 9%. Most media sectors, however, saw ad revenues decline — network TV was down 3.7%; magazines ad pages, 5.6%; local news, 6.7%; and newspapers, 7.6%.
  • As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model. In part, newspapers are making this move after witnessing the success of The New York Times, which now has roughly 390,000 online subscribers.  The move is also driven by steep drops in ad revenue. Newspaper industry revenue — circulation and advertising combined — has shrunk 43% since 2000. In 2011, newspapers overall lost roughly $10 in print ad revenue for every new $1 gained online. (That suggests no improvement from what a separate PEJ study of 38 papers found regarding 2010, when the print losses to digital gains in the sample were a $7-to-$1 ratio.)
  • The emerging landscape of community news sites is reaching a new level of maturity — and facing new challenges. As some seed grants begin to sunset, a shakeout in community news sites is beginning, along with a clearer model for success. and Chicago News Cooperative are among the prominent community news sites that ceased publishing in 2011 or early 2012. The model for success, epitomized by Texas Tribune and MinnPost, is to diversify funding sources and spend more resources on business—not just journalism.
  • Privacy is becoming a bigger issue for consumers, creating conflicting pressures on news organizations. Roughly two-thirds of internet users are uneasy with targeted advertising and search engines tracking their behavior, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. At the same time, though, consumers rely more heavily on the services provided by the companies that gather such data. News organizations are caught in between. To survive, they must find ways to make their digital advertising more effective — and more lucrative. Yet they also must worry about violating the trust of audiences to protect their strongest assets — their brands.

A movement towards slow reading advocated by Maura Kelly at The Atlantic:
With empathy comes self-awareness, of course. By discovering affinities between ourselves and characters we never imagined we'd be able to comprehend (like the accused murderer Dimitri Karamazov), we better understand who we are personally and politically; what we want to change; what we care about defending.
Best of all, perhaps, serious reading will make you feel good about yourself. Surveys show that TV viewing makes people unhappy and remorseful—but when has anyone ever felt anything but satisfied after finishing a classic? Or anything but intellectually stimulated after tearing through a work of modern lit like, say, Mary Gaitskill's Veronica?
And though a television show isn't likely to stay with you too long beyond the night that you watch it, once you've finished a slow book—whether it's as long as Tolstoy's epic or as short as Old Man and the Sea, as old as The Odyssey or as new as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, as funny as Portnoy's Complaint or as gorgeous as James Salter's Light Years—you'll have both a sense of accomplishment and the deeper joys of the book's most moving, thought-provoking, or hilarious passages. Time and again—to write that toast, enrich your understanding of a strange personal experience, or help yourself through a loss—you'll return to those dog-eared pages (or search for them on your Kindle). Eventually, you may get so good at reading that you'll move on to the slowest (and most rewarding) reading material around: great poems.
The Booksellers annual oddest book title competition as noted in The Economist:
The Diagram Prize, organised by the Bookseller magazine, has offered an annual award to the most outlandishly titled books since 1978. Judges recently announced the seven shortlisted titles for the 2011 award. “Cooking with Poo”, a cookbook by Saiyuud Diwong, may not smell that sweet, but its title ensures intrigued shoppers will buy it. Ms Diwong’s competitors are a varied bunch, and include plenty of explanatory ones: “A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel: Volume Two”; “A Taxonomy of Office Chairs”; “Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World”; and “The Mushroom in Christian Art”.
Other shortlisted titles include “The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria”, a self-published effort, and “Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge”. The latter title was chosen to “get everyone’s attention,” says Kate Cloughan of Royd Press, its publisher. The tactic worked: “Mr Andoh’s Pennine Diary” has seen greater sales than a typical release by Royd Press.
From the Guardian: Ian McEwan: 'I started Atonement with a careless sentence'
Author Ian McEwan in conversation with the Guardian's deputy editor Ian Katz at the Guardian Open Weekend festival. Here, McEwan discusses hiking; the importance of indolence to writers; moving house, which means the loss of his writing room; and how on 9/11 he broke with his policy of refusing journalistic commissions
From the Twitter this week:

BBC News - How the world's first rock concert ended in chaos

My hero: Stephen Haff by Peter Carey via

Ex-CEO to publish book on Olympus scandal - The Tokyo Times

St. Martin’s Press Marijuana Mystery -

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