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Edelman’s new report suggests an ‘ethical framework’ for paid content

Edelman | Forbes | PRWeek | New York Times | The Atlantic

A new paper by public relations firm Edelman takes on the ethical issues of paid content in an attempt to start a discussion about developing guidelines for this type of content

Chief content strategist Steve Rubel interviewed 30 media companies for the report, released Tuesday, to develop what it calls “an ethical framework” for promoting paid content.

Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici summarizes that framework a list of “ideals” that should get the industry talking. Those ideals include disclosure, an opportunity for feedback, and a “non-porous organizational divide between those who produce and place sponsored content and those who work directly with journalists.”

Rubel told PRWeek’s Sarah Shearman that many companies use their own guidelines when creating paid content, and there is no industry-wide standard. Read more


New York Times Co. increases digital subscriptions by 13 percent in second quarter

The New York Times Co. | The Boston Globe | WWD
Circulation revenues at The New York Times Co. rose 8 percent in the second quarter, fueled by a 13 percent rise in the number of digital subscriptions at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Still, the company reported a $143.6 million operating loss for the second quarter, which it attributed to a $194.7 million non-cash charge for the decreased value of The site’s traffic (and its ad revenue) dropped after Google changed its search algorithm a couple of years ago.

There are now 509,000 paid digital subscribers for the Times and the International Herald Tribune, up about 12 percent from the 454,000 reported three months ago. The Globe now has 23,000 digital subscribers, up about 28 percent from the 18,000 reported in March. Read more

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Paywalls now affect one-third of daily newspaper readers

Ebyline Blog
Peter C. Beller combined News & Tech’s list of newspapers that charge for online access with circulation figures to get a bird’s-eye view of which newspapers are building paywalls. About 16 percent of daily papers now charge for online access, but that covers twice as many readers, he says:

While just 239 of the nation’s 1,532 dailies have (or have announced) paywalls, they represent around a third of all daily readers. That’s because of the 20 largest newspapers by circulation, nine are or will be behind paywalls, representing 51% of that readership.

Paywall implementation drops off for smaller papers:

Under 100,000 circulation only 21% of readers are affected, under 50,000 the share is 19% and under 25,000 the figure is just 16%. You might be inclined to shrug off the small newspapers in that last group but they are the bulk of the industry: two out of three daily newspapers have circulations under 25,000.

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Content going ‘everywhere’: WSJ extends premium subscriptions to Pulse newsreader

Pulse | PR Web | Bloomberg
One day after The New York Times announced an “NYT Everywhere” strategy that will extend subscriber content to Flipboard, The Wall Street Journal stepped up its own “Journal Everywhere” plan by selling premium content within the Pulse news aggregation app.

While the Times is offering full access to existing subscribers through Flipboard, the Journal will sell alternative subscriptions in Pulse to three narrower channels: WSJ Political Report or WSJ Technology Digest for $3.99 a month each, or a daily editors-choice section called WSJ Water Cooler for 99 cents a month. Read more


Most major newspaper groups are now experimenting with paywalls

The Chicago Tribune’s plans to charge readers for some of its online content, along with McClatchy’s announcement last week that it will expand its paywall testing to four more sites, are further proof that a majority of large newspaper companies now believe in some form of paid online content.

Ken Doctor expects about 20 percent of the 1,400 or so daily papers in the U.S. to charge for online access by the end of the year. That seems small when you look at the major newspaper chains; it’s getting harder to find one that isn’t at least experimenting with some kind of paid access.

What’s dawned on newspaper executives, Doctor told me, is that “a metered system doesn’t have to — if you do it in the right way — get in the way of your digital revenue.” Read more


Media General, Warren Buffett agree on paywalls

Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway bought most of Media General’s newspapers Thursday, thinks paywalls are one of the few defenses newspapers have against the economic forces that are battering them. In an interview on CNBC in February, Buffett said, “It’s expensive to turn out a paper. You start with trees up in Canada and you end up with a kid throwing it.”

Newspapers “have been giving away their product at the same time they’re selling it,” he said, “and that is not a great business model. When they put papers up on the Internet and you get free, you’re competing with yourself. And throughout the industry you’re seeing a reaction to that problem and an answer to it. … You shouldn’t be giving away a product you’re trying to sell.”

Media General’s 2011 annual report said the company was moving toward paywalls at all of its papers: Read more


Google explains why Adweek ‘survey wall’ stopped Gawker editorial director

Scott Kidder, director of editorial operations at Gawker Media, said it was “desperate” that Adweek’s website tried to get him to share a story on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ before he had read it.

Turns out, that was a bug; Kidder was supposed to have gone straight to the story, bypassing the Google Consumer Survey that Adweek uses as a sort of information paywall.

Why? Because Scott Kidder hates market research and is on a one-man crusade to drive them out of existence — and with them, the entire free market system — by lying on surveys. (Sorry, I just channeled Hamilton Nolan; I’ll pull back a bit.)

The real reason is that Google Consumer Surveys flagged Kidder as an unreliable respondent and decided not to show him the survey questions. Read more


What killed Ongo?

Nieman Journalism Lab
Adrienne LaFrance reports that Ongo, the newspaper industry’s attempt to provide a personalized, curated news service, is shutting down after a year and a half. Ongo’s pitch was that it would curate stories from well-known news outlets (newspapers, mostly) and present them in a highly readable, ad-free environment, viewable on computers, iPads and iPhones. Founder and CEO Alex Kazim described the product as a “paid alternative to a wall of inconvenience.” Rick Edmonds, Poynter’s business analyst, wrote that it was “clearly a product for old-school news consumers who have migrated online rather than for digital natives.”

So what killed it? LaFrance writes that the service was “hurt by a confusing pricing model,” with a basic subscription — which started at $6.99 a month and dropped to $1.99 — providing some, but not all, content from major news sources. Read more


Will we start to see more news stories citing Google Consumer Surveys?

PRNewswire | Google Consumer Surveys
I was more intrigued that a new press release touts a survey done with Google Consumer Surveys than I was by the conclusion: Most Americans have never heard of zero-percent balance transfer credit cards. (Really?) When Google launched the survey service in March, it was seen as a way for content publishers to implement a kind of alternate paywall, in which people pay with information rather than money. Now we see that the surveys are a source of news, too.

So who responds to these surveys? Judging from the credit card survey and two other questions included in Google’s samples, people who come across these surveys are more likely to be male than the overall U.S. population. And young people are over-represented, particular those between the ages of 18 and 24. Read more

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