Transformation Tracker: David Shedden tracks economic, technological, and historical changes in the news business.

Mosaic was the Web’s first killer app, said 1993 NYT story

The New York Times
Eighteen years ago this month The New York Times introduced its readers to the Web, and its first killer app, the Mosaic browser.

The newspaper didn’t have an online site yet, but you could find
John Markoff’s story on page D1:

Think of it as a map to the buried treasures of the Information Age.

A new software program available free to companies and individuals is helping even novice computer users find their way around the global Internet, the network of networks that is rich in information but can be baffling to navigate.

….Mosaic’s many passionate proponents hail it as the first “killer app” of network computing — an applications program so different and so obviously useful that it can create a new industry from scratch.

The Mosaic Web browser (Courtesy: National Center for Supercomputing Applications)

….Before Mosaic, finding information on computer data bases scattered around the world required knowing — and accurately typing — arcane addresses and commands like “Telnet” Mosaic lets computer users simply click a mouse on words or images on their computer screens to summon text, sound and images from many of the hundreds of data bases on the Internet that have been configured to work with Mosaic.

….Mosaic was created by a small group of software developers and students at the supercomputer center in Champaign, who set out 18 months ago to create a system for browsing through the World-Wide Web. The Web is an international string of computer data bases that uses an information-retrieval architecture developed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer specialist at the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva.

When Markoff’s article appeared in print on December 8, 1993, many newspapers considered America Online, Prodigy, and Compuserve as the future of online journalism.

But browsers changed the future. Within a few years, most media companies focused exclusively on the Web.

By 1996, The New York Times had a website, and in 2001 they were already looking back nostalgically at the early days of the Web. Read more


Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

Flashback to 2005: HuffPost, YouTube launched; Podcasts proliferate; ‘Print Needs Its Own iPod’

New York Times
Six years ago today, on October 10, 2005, New York Times columnist David Carr wrote a story called, “Forget Blogs, Print Needs Its Own iPod.” It is a fascinating reminder of how much media and technology have changed since.

His piece made me wonder about other 2005 stories and statistics from the pre-iPad world. Here are a few.

February 15, 2005
YouTube is founded with the first video posted in April.

May 2005
The Huffington Post is launched.
Related: “Dazzle, Yes. But Can They Blog?” By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, May 9, 2005

May 2005
Google introduced a new AdSense program that invited bloggers to share revenue from targeted Web page ads.

June 28, 2005
Google Earth is launched.

July 7, 2005
Passengers used their cell phones to photograph the chaos and damage when terrorists bombed the London underground subway. Traditional media soon shared these images with the world.

July 19, 2005
The New York Times purchased; The Washington Post
acquired Slate; Dow Jones bought MarketWatch; Knight Ridder, the Tribune Company and Gannett purchased a controlling stake in Topix. The largest deal was News Corporation’s $500 million acquisition of the parent company of MySpace.
Related: “What MySpace means to Murdoch.” BBC.

August 2005
Under extreme conditions, in print and online, the New Orleans
and the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald told the tragic
story of Hurricane Katrina.

October 2005
The Apple iTunes store began offering videos and TV shows.

Also during 2005
More than a dozen newspapers and magazines started
podcasts, such as the Denver Post, Lawrence Journal-World, San
Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Philadelphia Daily
News, the Washington Post, Newsweek and Forbes.


The State of the News Media 2005 (Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

More than three million people worldwide were using some form of the BlackBerry personal e-mail system. (Source: Presstime)

As of early 2005, Craigslist featured more than 120 city Web pages
around the world. An estimated five million people placed classified
ads a month. (Source: Craigslist)

More than six million people, or 5 percent of all Internet users, used RSS feeds to get some of their news and classified listings. Twenty-seven percent of Internet users said they read blogs. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project)

Thirty-three percent of regular Internet users ages 18 to 34 preferred getting their news online. (Source: Presstime/Jupitermedia)

Sixty-eight percent of American adults, or about 137 million people,
used the Internet. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project)

Almost one in five U.S. Internet users owned a camera phone. Forty percent of teens used a mobile phone service. (Source: InfoTrends/CAP Ventures)

By the end of 2005, 50 million Americans got news online during a
typical day. Much of the growth during that period was fueled by the rise in home broadband connections. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project) Read more


Friday, Aug. 12, 2011


Did CBS really invent original reporting on TV?

Romenesko | TVNewser | YouTube
55 years ago today, on August 12, 1956, a group of CBS News journalists appeared on the quiz show, “What’s My Line?

They were some of the best reporters in the history of broadcast journalism: Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, Robert Trout, Charles Collingwood and Douglas Edwards. On the show, blindfolded panelists tried to guess the group’s occupations by asking a series of questions. Here is a video of the show:

Coincidentally, Romenesko linked to a story earlier this week about a new CBS News promo that claims the network invented original reporting on TV. The claim largely rests on the work of these early broadcast journalists and their colleagues.

If we could go back 55 years, perhaps we could ask these journalists
what they think.

Here’s what I think: No one person or network invented original TV reporting. TV news had been slowly evolving since the late 1930s.

Although radio networks had been in existence since the 1920s, large TV networks really didn’t start until 1948 when coaxial cable began connecting major TV markets.

As TV technology advanced, and the number of viewers increased, the lessons of broadcast radio reporting were transferred over to TV news.

A few stations around the country experimented with television programming during the 1930s. Periodically radio announcers would do voice-over work for TV news reports with wire copy and still photographs.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s New York station WNBT (formerly W2XBS) simulcast the Lowell Thomas radio program. The simulcast, titled the “Sunoco News,” was sponsored by the Sun Oil Company. NBC also aired the “Esso Television Reporter” before World War II brought a halt to most television news.

When the war ended in 1945, WNBT broadcast a weekly program called “NBC Tele-Newsreel” (or “NBC Telenews”) that used MGM-Hearst movie newsreel film.

The first regularly scheduled evening network TV news broadcasts began in 1948.

On February 16, 1948, NBC News began broadcasting “NBC Television Newsreel,” the first regularly scheduled evening network TV news program. In 1949 the program became the “Camel News Caravan” with John Cameron Swayze.

One of the “What’s My Line?” journalists, Douglas Edwards, knew
firsthand about the beginning of TV journalism at CBS. As early as 1946 he began working for CBS TV, and he anchored the network’s first regularly scheduled evening newscast, the “CBS Television News,” in August 1948.

But the earliest example of news on CBS TV was during 1941, back when very few people owned TV sets. An experimental CBS television station called WCBW broadcast a 15-minute program called “Richard Hubbell and the News.”

Since most of the “What’s My Line?” journalists worked with Edward R. Murrow during World War Two, they would have given Murrow credit for helping invent broadcast radio reporting. Beginning in 1939, his programs during the bombing of London brought the war to America with a new type of journalism.

If you were watching the ABC network in August 1948, you might have seen their first regular newscast. They called it “News and Views.”  H.R. Baukhage and Jim Gibbons served as the program’s anchors.

On October 12, 1953, ABC News began its first major evening news program called “John Daly and the News.” Yes, the same John Daly that hosted “What’s My Line?”

(Related article: “Early TV Anchors,” Poynter Online, Apr. 4, 2006)

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article got Charles Collingwood’s name wrong.
Read more


Thursday, June 30, 2011

What was Rupert Murdoch thinking when he bought Myspace?

BBC | ASNE Speech
Shortly before he bought MySpace in 2005, Rupert Murdoch shared his thoughts on the digital age in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

At the time, the BBC reported on News Corporation’s purchase of
MySpace. They also offered an analysis of Murdoch’s speech and his
company’s past attempts with online technology. Jeremy Scott-Joynt wrote:

“Just three months ago, news magnate Rupert Murdoch made an unusual admission.

He had realised, he told a high-powered audience at the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington DC, that he had got something rather important rather wrong.

News Corporation, the global media group he controls, had failed properly to engage with the online world – and risked losing its hard-won position in news as a result.

As a ‘digital immigrant’ – as he described himself – he acknowledged he found it difficult to visualise how News Corp should change its ways. But he had no doubt that radical change was coming, and that it was inevitable.

Commentators took the unusual ‘mea culpa’ as a sign that News Corp was gearing up for a wholesale revamp of its approach to the Internet.

On 19 July, what appears to be the first really substantive part of the new strategy swung into action: the purchase, for $580m, of the firm behind the wildly popular online community.

Cynics may charge that Mr. Murdoch has been here before.

In 1999, another keynote speech laid out lofty ambitions for News Corp online – only for several well-financed operations to close down within months of their launch.

Before that came failed initiatives such as Delphi Internet in the mid-1990s, an online service which mingled News Corp’s UK content with US material and failed to capture anyone’s imagination, and an abortive internet service provider experiment called LineOne.

Business Insider’s Chart on the Fall of MySpace

And now almost six years after this BBC article was written, MySpace,
like Delphi before it, is being sold.

When he bought MySpace Rupert Murdoch failed to deal with the
threats posed by Facebook and others, but his ASNE speech shows that as of 2005 he was at least thinking of the potential online challenges ahead:

“Technology has traditionally been an asset to the newspaper business. It has in the past allowed us to improve our printing, helped us collect and transmit the news faster and cheaper – as well as reach people we never could reach before. So of all the trials that face
newspapers in the 21st century, I fear technology – and our response to it – is by no means our only challenge.

What I worry about much more is our ability to make the necessary cultural changes to meet the new demands. As I said earlier, what is required is a complete transformation of the way we think about our product. Unfortunately, however, I believe too many of us editors and reporters are out of touch with our readers.”

Read more

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1982 New York Times story predicts the future of technology, Facebook

New York Times

Here is a look at the future from 29 years ago today.

In a June 14, 1982 story called, “Study Says Technology Could
Transform Society”
the New York Times described a report from the
National Science Foundation:

A report commissioned by the National Science Foundation and made public today speculates that by the end of this century electronic information technology will have transformed American home, business, manufacturing, school, family and political life.

The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.

It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.

In his New York Times story, Robert Reinhold went on to present other findings from the report:

Privacy and control

The report warned that the new technology would raise difficult issues of privacy and control that will have to be addressed soon to ‘maximize its benefits and minimize its threats to society.’

Emerging online industry

The study focused on the emerging videotex industry, formed by the marriage of two older technologies, communications and computing. It estimated that 40 percent of American households will have two-way videotex service by the end of the century. By comparison, it took television 16 years to penetrate 90 percent of households from the time commercial service was begun.


The ‘key driving force’ controlling the speed of videotex
penetration, the report said, is the extent to which advertisers can be persuaded to use it, reducing the cost of the service to subscribers.

Tradeoffs in control

But for all the potential benefits the new technology may bring, the report said, there will be unpleasant ‘trade offs’ in ‘control.’

‘Videotex systems create opportunities for individuals to exercise much greater choice over the information available to them,’ the researchers wrote. ‘Individuals may be able to use videotex systems to create their own newspapers, design their own curricula, compile their own consumer guides.

‘On the other hand, because of the complexity and sophistication of these systems, they create new dangers of manipulation or social engineering, either for political or economic gain. Similarly, at the same time that these systems will bring a greatly increased flow of information and services into the home, they will also carry a stream of information out of the home about the preferences and behavior of its occupants.’

Other predictions

Widespread penetration of the technology, it said, would mean, among other things, these developments:

– The home will double as a place of employment, with men and women conducting much of their work at the computer terminal. This will affect both the architecture and location of the home. It will also blur the distinction between places of residence and places of business, with uncertain effects on zoning, travel patterns and neighborhoods.

– Home-based shopping will permit consumers to control manufacturing directly, ordering exactly what they need for ‘production on demand.’

– There will be a shift away from conventional workplace and school socialization. Friends, peer groups and alliances will be determined electronically, creating classes of people based on interests and skills rather than age and social class.

Videotext and teletext never lived up to the potential described in this 1982 New York Times story. Videotext failed in the United States due to expensive technology and an audience that wasn’t quite ready for online news and services.

Viewtron, one of the most ambitious U.S. videotext projects, was
launched in 1983 by Knight-Ridder and AT&T. Times Mirror created
another major system called Gateway in 1984. Both programs ended in

However, videotex served as an important technological transition to dial-up BBS sites, USENET User groups, and online computer services such as the WELL, Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL.

The Web was introduced in the early 1990s and during the past two decades has slowly made the New York Times’ predictions of 1982 come true.Also AirKnife are rising in the technology market so keep in eye on that. Read more


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What is the future of mobile advertising?

Business Insider

Business Insider continues its special report on the future of
with a look at possible trends in mobile advertising.
Dan Frommer writes:

As mobile phones evolve, mobile advertising is evolving, too.

Already, we’ve seen a shift from tiny text and banner ads to more
sophisticated efforts. Some are trying to captivate you with
mini-games, interactive widgets, and contests. Others serve up a
specific deal based on your location.

And while today’s mobile ads aren’t doing too poorly — 60% of mobile users click on mobile ads at least one a week, according to a recent report — there’s still a lot of room for advancements as the industry matures. (Especially considering that a lot of those “clicks” are probably by accident.)

He continues to describe the following mobile advertising trends they expect to see during the next few years.

1. More interactivity and “apps as ads.”

2. Deals and rewards, not just empty pitches.

3. Companies using cool mobile products to reach consumers directly,
instead of ads.

4. Ads helping save you money on mobile gadgets or services themselves.

5. Mobile ads linking up with mobile payments to “close the loop.”

Here are the other stories posted in Business Insider’s report on the future of mobile:

The Future Of Mobile Is The Future Of Everything

History Lesson: How The iPhone Changed Smartphones Forever

Poll: What’s Actually Better To Do On A Smartphone Than A PCRead more


Monday, May 16, 2011

Edward R. Murrow producer dies at 90

CBS News

CBS News reports that another link to the early days of broadcast journalism has passed away:

Veteran TV producer and reporter Joseph Wershba, whose resume includes Edward R. Murrow’sSee It Now” broadcasts exposing Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt in the 1950s, and who was one of the original producers of “60 Minutes,” died Saturday at age 90.

Wershba, who resided in Floral Park, N.Y., succumbed to complications from pneumonia in North Shore Hospital on Long Island, with his wife Shirley at his side.

Wershba’s career spanned more than half a century in broadcast and print journalism. A two-time Emmy Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Wershba joined CBS News in 1944 as a radio news writer, rising to news director of WCBS Radio in New York. He became a correspondent for Murrow and Fred Friendly’s “Hear it Now” radio series, and was named a field producer when the show transferred to television.

Joseph Wershba was one of the last producers directly involved with Murrow’s 1954 “See It Now” McCarthy program, a program that ended with the following words:

In October 1997 Wershba looked back at his life and career in a 6-hour
for the Archive of American Television. Here is part of that interview:

Many people were introduced to Wershba in the 2005 movie, “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Robert Downey, Jr. portrayed Wershba in the film:

Read more


Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2011

Looking back at news homepage history

10,000 Words | Vimeo

In his post, “Nostalgia: 11 Retro News Website Homepages,” Ethan
Klapper takes us back in time with old news website homepages.

He writes:

Inspired by a recent Facebook album posted by Jim Brady, the former executive editor and TBD general manager, here are
a couple of old homepages from news sites we know well. Any notable
omission is due to the Wayback Machine not being able to crawl the
(Click here for the homepages.)

Vostok design studio has also posted some homepages with
their video, “15 years of”

And finally, here are a few early homepages we found while
compiling our New Media Timeline project.

Mercury Center on AOL, 1994

Time Magazine on AOL, 1994

U.S. News on AOL, 1994

Access Atlanta on Prodigy, 1994

San Francisco Examiner on Compuserve, 1981
(The first online newspapers were text only and didn’t have homepages as we know them today. This image comes from a 1981 video.)

Like many historical online images, old news homepages are fun to look at and remind us just how much technology and design have changed. Read more

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Monday, Apr. 11, 2011

Lessons from Usenet, the “Facebook of the ’80s”

Harvard Business Review Blog Network

There are lessons to be learned from Usenet, the “Facebook of the ’80s.”

Alexandra Samuel writes:

..if you look at the longer history of the social Web, it’s clear that
some principles have been around for a long time. And nothing brings
those principles into focus like a look at the social Web’s first big
controversy, all the way back in 1987: The Great Renaming.

“The Great Renaming” refers to a major shift in the structure of
Usenet, the massive distributed discussion board system; the Facebook
of the ’80s.

She goes on to say that the social Web’s three core principles, that it should be “free, open and participatory,” have been around since the Usenet’s struggle with growth and reorganization in the 1980s. And that the principles of “free, open and participatory” have historically been a driving force on the Internet and the social Web’s equivalent to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Read more


Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011

paidContent posts list of most-successful U.S. digital media companies


The folks at paidContent have posted their inaugural “paidContent 50.”
They write:

Welcome to the paidContent 50, our inaugural list of the
most-successful digital media companies in the U.S. We examined every
company we cover (and more) to determine the 50 that are bringing in
the most money from online content and online advertising. For each
company, we offer not only their digital revenues, estimated in some
cases, but also a snapshot of their business strategy and a look at
some of their key moves over the last year. We think you’ll find some

Joseph Tarkakoff goes on to say that “We’re the first to admit that the list contains a fair amount of guesswork — informed guesswork but guesswork nonetheless. It is meant to help kick off a deeper conversation about digital success.”

Take a look at their choices. It is a fascinating list.

News Corp.
Walt Disney
NBC Universal
Cox Enterprises
Activision Blizzard
Universal Music Group
Monster Worldwide
National Football League
Time Warner
Major League Baseball
Warner Music
Electronic Arts
New York Times
Classified Ventures
Advance Publications
Yell Group
Demand Media
FriendFinder Networks
United Online Read more