I Agree With Paywalls…But To Some Extent

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I’ve been reading a few of my previous posts and noticed that I never really explained my opinion of paywalls.

Last semester, I learned a lot about paywalls in a few of my journalism classes. I like to think that I’ve mastered the difference between what defines a loyal reader to an occasional reader. One of my classes in particular, really went in detail about paywalls which gave me the chance to learn and understand the hardship many papers go through to make a profit for the work that is on its website.

So with that said, here is my thoughts of paywalls:

I agree with paywalls, but to some extent. I think it really depends on the paper, its content and online presence, and its readers.

When I first heard about paywalls, I thought to myself…how can you charge a person to read information that is online? Everything online is free!

Right now, I am a college student who barely worked last semester, yet my car somehow always needed gas. This may seem a little irrelevant to my topic but I’m trying to make a point about how every penny tends to count when your in school.

For the last two semesters, it was a requirement for at least one of my journalism classes to have a paid subscription to The Times. It use to annoy me to have to get a paid subscription to a paper I barely read, when I could access the information online for free. Luckily, I had put that minor cost under my textbook bill for my parents, so my car did not suffer too much. But it was still the thought of paying for information that I could find free else where. I always thought “why would I pay for access to a paper when I can simply Google the topic and find it on another website for free.”

That was my mindset before I transferred colleges. When I got into Stony Brook University, my journalism classes opened my mind to paywalls and the ignorance that once filled my mind was gone. Now I have a better opinion on the topic.

For physical newspapers that are making the transition to online:

It really makes sense to have paywalls. What is the difference between me picking up The Times at a newsstand and me looking at the day’s paper online? There is no difference, except my health. I can read the paper from my phone or laptop while I’m in bed, instead of running down the block to the newsstand.

For non-traditional papers, that started online:

In general, a paywall is a win or lose situation for both papers, whether it is legacy or not. (NOTE: a legacy paper is a newspaper that has been around and established before the internet)

If an online paper has been giving me free information for years, why should I start to pay for it now? It was founded online and never had print editions to pay for in the first place.

That is when a paywall needs to be tested. Paywalls will not work for every paper, whether a legacy paper or a paper that was founded primarily online and has no print editions.

I’ve read about popular papers that just dove into paywalls and it was not a success, but then again, I have read about popular papers that did the same and it was a success.

Now, papers in general are just testing the idea of paywalls out in different regions and playing with different prices to see what works.

In the end, it truly depends on the paper and what the reader considers valuable news. One will always pay for something that is worth it.

Having a better understanding of paywalls, I personally believe that paying a monthly or yearly fee for information from legitimate papers only means that you are getting accurate and fair – most of the time – news. It may seem unfair to pay for information, but one most always think about the people getting the information and putting it together for us to read; they definitely do not do it for free, so why not pay for services in that case.

As for me, I think it is safe to say that I am a little more open minded about paywalls. Which is great, because I know that when I get out of college, I’ll have no problem paying for a subscription to a few papers. But for now, I’ll stick to broadcast and monitor my limit of articles I read per month!

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CNN’s Costly Rating Mistake…

I am sure almost every person in this country and probably even the entire world is aware of the Boston Bombings.

If not, you should be ashamed of yourself! It was all over the internet, all over social media sites and all over the news. Even regular primetime shows were cut to show breaking news update coverage of the aftermath and the chase to find the suspects.

With that background knowledge of how important this news event was, I can explain how CNN ended the week coverage last in ratings after the capture of the last suspect.

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Breaking news is like a cycle…

At the beginning, there is talk about what happened through the local news. If it’s serious enough, the larger networks will use affiliate channels to broadcast to other cities and states. Once it is declared that something is really serious, like a bombing at a marathon, the larger networks gather their best and leading anchors and reporters and send them to the location to cover the story. This usually takes place within 6-12 hours.

Once these big named and best reporters get to the location, they fight amongst each other to see who can break the story first – who can find out what really happened, the background, and any updates before it is really released to the press. As the fight is established, they begin to rely on sources to give them “exclusive scoops” on what is going on so that they can rub it in everyone’s face.

So what CNN did was exactly what I just wrote…

One of its reporters, *cough* John King, said that an arrest had been made and informed viewers that a source told him. For a little more than an hour CNN kept saying “we have the exclusive” and “CNN has exclusively learned” blah, blah, blah. That whole hour, the network rubbed it in all the other networks and for viewers to see, that they heard it first on CNN. Slowly, other news organizations began reporting the wrong information.

The Associated Press reported a suspect was in custody based on a single source who continued to stand by this information even after the FBI said no arrest had been made. The Boston Globe reported a person was in custody and en route to the courthouse. Fox News and Boston’s WBZ-TV also reported an arrested had been made, while NBC and CBS did not.

After an hour of CNN gloating about its exclusive, a source texted him and on live national TV. He read the message aloud, “significant progress has been made, but no arrest. Anyone who says an arrest is ahead of themselves.”

How embarrassing is that?

So quick to jump the gun, there was no time to even read the message to himself. This is what I am talking about, the rush to break a story and be the first. There should be a rush to break an accurate story. That big mistake and opportunity to poke fun of CNN, bought them down in ratings for the coverage.

During the 8pm hour when the actual capture of the suspect was going on, NBC had 10.7 million viewers, ABC had 7.8 million viewers, Fox News Channel had 7.6 million, CBS had 6.9 million, CNN had 6.8 million and poor MSNBC had 1.7 million viewers. Now I think we should all keep in mind that CNN and FOX News are cable channels and not broadcast channels, so individuals without cable cannot watch CNN or FOX News. But I am not sure if the survey counts for any online viewers.

I am coming down on CNN so hard, because one of the first things you learn either in school or as a reporter is to always verify the information given. Not only that, that same reporter John King, gave a very vague description of an apparent suspect who did not exist. He mentioned on live TV that the potential suspect was a “dark-skinned male.”

Now to be fair, he defended himself for both issues.

He said:

“’I went back to the Boston law enforcement sources who said we got him, I said, Got him? Identification on arrest?” King continued. “The source says can’t talk to you right now, says there is significant blowback at the leaks. Says there will be more information later today.’”

For what seemed as a racist and ignorant comment, King wrote:

“’Source of that description was a senior government official. And I asked, are you sure? But I’m responsible. What I am not is racist?’”

It could have been that the suspect was ID’d and not arrested. For the dark skinned comment, well that’s just journalism 101 not to ID someone based on their race or color of their skin, because the likely hood of you offending someone is obvious and it doesn’t matter what the color skin is. It is extremely pointless, saying a dark skinned male is on the loose without giving a height, weight or description of what he was last wearing. That simple description he gave right away showed ignorance, even if a source said it. As a journalist, he should have known even before he said it, that it is not a good idea to give that vague description.

**I am not bashing CNN in anyway, just spreading my strong opinion and disappointment in the way it handled the reporting of that coverage and the unfortunate fate that one reporter’s mistakes reflected the whole of CNN’s broadcast. Even after the two incidents I still watched CNN among two other networks for the coverage.**

A Visit from a Very Rich “Journalist” & My Very Long Blog Post about Him

THE RICH JOURNALIST:

This past Thursday, my class had the pleasure of meeting Michael Rosenblum – a very rich & nontraditional journalist. He was extremely funny! He poked jokes at every type of medium there is from print to television to even online. He even poked fun at social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, mentioning that there was NO future in the sites and that “they’re all F***ED” – that was the word of the day for him.

Before the end of class, he made sure to share his very strong opinion of what the future of journalism will be like. He stressed the fact that journalists do not have to depict what movies describe us as, which he explained is a poor individual who cannot even afford to pay rent. He informed my class on his opinion of where advertising was heading for the future, which in his opinion is nowhere. He has a strong belief that the main source of revenue that many media and websites rely on today will vanish in the near future. So in his eyes there will be no more CNN, no more local news and no more newspapers; with the exception of The New York Times, for now until it to dies out.

So why does he believe this? Because, according to him, these companies are running on an old model that makes it mandatory for content to be supported by advertisers in order for the business to be successful. If there are no advertisers, then there is no money to run the business, which is the major problem these companies are facing today.

When he began to talk about Amazon and Ebay, his passion for the way the companies’ revenue is gained was seen throughout the building and around campus. He loved the fact that the companies are making a large sum of money by just being a web host for transactions – another word he favored during his time in the class. One of his main suggestions to my class was to go on WordPress and just start blogging. He suggested that we make our own videos and post it online. He made this point because he considers my generation as the tech savvy generation. He said that we are the generation that needs to work for ourselves and not for the dying media companies that will no longer be able to employ us. Besides that, his other best suggestion was for my generation to sell ourselves and our work. He also expected us to figure out a way to connect content with transaction.

THE STUDENT JOURNALIST:

Here’s my take on his opinions from top to bottom.

First, although physical newspapers are in my opinion dying, “important papers” like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (I feel comfortable to vouch for these two, seeing that I am more familiar with the papers and its fan base) will never literally die. I believe that at some point, maybe when all the baby boomers die out, both papers will make the full transition to being online. So yeah, maybe the physical paper will die out but its legacy will still be alive through the internet.

In terms of his comments about social media sites, I can agree that at some point it too will die out but not for the same reasons he believes. As someone who was once on Bebo, Sconex, MySpace, and now Facebook, I personally have learned that it’s nothing but a trend. Soon, something bigger and better will come and slowly take over Facebook, then the trend of Facebook will be over. Right now, most people that I know who were on Facebook when it first came out are not on it so muc. They’re more on Twitter or Tumblr. See the trend? It’s only a matter of time before the latecomers of Facebook slowly come off and join another new trend.

On a side note: I think that Instagram has a long way to go before anyone gets tired of it, it could be because it’s still in the “new trend phase” or that the concept is kind of original or it could be that I am bias because it is my favorite social media site now.

Back to my points:

I personally think that the media just needs to do a 360 degree turn and think of the future and its consumers. Local news and community papers or now hyperlocal papers need to be catering to its consumers and discussing issues arising in the community. Easier said than done, but that’s why there are so many big executives in these companies, they can figure it out or hire Michael to do the thinking for them as he pointed out.

I don’t think that CNN and similar news organizations are going to be vanishing anytime soon, simply because it is the news. When a crisis is going on, these networks look to milk in the opportunity of viewers. My most recent experience with this was during the Boston Bombing. These news organizations literally informed me the same information over and over and over again until something new came in. But what did I do? I watched all the networks and listened to the same information over and over and over again until something new came in. Why? Because I didn’t want to miss anything and wanted to stay informed.

If there is anything I can say about TV, it is that it may eventually join newspapers and transition to becoming solely online, but that’s probably way past the death of the baby boomers.  I’ve had professors tell me that radios are not useful anymore, but I don’t agree. I still listen to the radio, it may only be in my car, but I definitely still listen to it. That’s why I think that TV may have some more time in this world before the internet fully takes over.

Lastly, I’m going to have to disagree with his belief about the future of advertising and the fact that it will die soon. I think that it takes someone smart to redefine the meaning and nature of advertising. I think advertising is effective in some ways depending on the product. I blogged about this before, when Coca Cola saw that there was no benefit in advertising on social media. I just don’t see the sense of a big established company wasting its money to advertise, especially when it has regular individuals doing the advertising for it. When there is a birthday party or event going on with free drinks; Coke, Pepsi and Sprite will almost always be there because it’s some of the popular ones. These are the events where people will be forced to try new drinks they probably never tried. I can speak for myself, because I know that I am able to spend my money on something new if I tried it before or heard good reviews about it. The same goes with cars, an example he used in class. No one can afford to buy a new 2013 or even 2014 car right now, expect for a very small group. But when someone from that group wants or needs a car, the person goes straight to the dealership or its website to find a car or even opinion websites and car websites. Those sites will have a better chance of doing the advertising for the car companies before the companies itself can.

THE KICKER TO MY POINT…

My whole very long point is that newspapers, mainly the legacy ones, will probably never die. But that is only if it makes the transition to being a full service online paper quickly and find other revenue to support itself. I say that because it is proven that advertising online right now does not pay the bills and salaries; charging individuals a price to view content on the website is just a start on making some revenue.

Social media is and will forever be a trend, that’s just our society for you. TV news and 24-hour news will still be here for a long time, but it needs to be revamped.

Advertising also needs to be revamped. It needs to find a way to be more interactive and connective with people and less annoying and pointless. It also needs to find a way to connect with the online community.

Lastly, for the next generation and wave of journalists, if all fails, do your own thing. Find a passion in the news and go with it. If it is anything he said that I could agree with, it is to not to work under these big time news companies. I feel that sometimes, these companies get a little carried away on what the purpose of news is because at some point the wall between church and state in the news business is broken. That’s when it becomes all about the money. But, we the next generation and the next wave of journalists can change that. We know what is missing from the news and what we like and don’t like. We have so much creativity in our minds, especially when it’s a passion. We are young and some of us have little to no real responsibilities. Most of us have support from professors, families, friends and mentors.

Take me as an example, my future venture is to redefine video work while telling news stories, because I believe that in this day and age stories are better told with a little more bit of visuals and sound.

So what’s yours?

My Observation of National Public Radio

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Last week, one of my professors assigned my class to listen to NPR. I never listened to the station before, but I am very much familiar of the station and its prestige.

I didn’t get a chance to listen to the station over the weekend, but I took the time out to check out the station during the week to monitor how it covered the Boston Marathon Bombings.

I paid close attention to the Morning Edition and compared it to 1010 WINS (a station I use to listen to a lot but now not as much).

Now the assignment was to compare NPR with stations we already listen. When I am in my car, I listen to more music and entertainment stations than news focus stations, so that’s what I did my comparison on, which was clearly a difference. NPR is virtually all news all the time, while these entertainment stations are more pro music. The news portions are based on gossip and other celebrity news, aka very soft news. NPR is obviously a hard news station.

When I compared it with 1010 WINS, I saw a lot of similarities, but I felt that NPR still stood out a little more with its “NPR style” of covering the events. 1010 WINS, like NPR gives its listeners hard core news, but for the particular coverage of the bombings, NPR did have discussions and interviewed officials and administration officials.

As a journalism major, it’s kind of important to know about a station like this. I can’t expect to carry on a conversation with veteran reporters or just about any reporter in general without being familiar with it.

So when my professor asked who has heard of the station, I was a bit shock that not even half the class raised their hands. Then she asked who actually listened to the station, the even smaller number of students who raised their hands was not too much of shock to me. So it’s going to be really interesting to see how our class discussion will go.

Most of us are between the ages of 19-22, so this may really show how absent minded my generation can be at times, especially when the bulk of our college career is based on this exact thing.

Finally A Big Established Company Sees How Pointless Social Media Advertising Is

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It’s about time that an already fully established company like Coca-Cola sees that spending millions and maybe billions of dollars a year on social media advertising is a waste of time and money. A company spokesperson said that social media buzz DOES NOT equal short-term revenue gains for Coke.

Now let’s be serious for a second and think…why on earth would a company like Coca-Cola feel the need to advertise on social media platforms anyway?

The company is already established and well known all over the country and even world. Coke is sold in restaurants, stores and vending machines in EVERY country EXCEPT Cuba and North Korea – no surprise there, especially since Coke is an American Corporation.

Its products are virtually recognizable by almost anybody in this country and maybe even the world. Everyone already knows coke, who can miss that signature color?

I think that Coke can stop pushing its presence on social media, mainly because it is pushing one product that everyone knows about. It’s not as if the corporation is advertising for new flavors, it’s always the same classic one. I think that people have their automatic preference, especially when it comes between the back and forth rival of Coke and Pepsi. Everyone has their pick.

In my opinion, a big and already established company should only feel the need to do hard core advertising when they are coming out with a new product or have a deal or something. Take McDonald’s for example. MickeyD’s is as established as Coke, but I always know when McDonald’s is going to have a “2 for $3” breakfast special or a new addition to the menu. I barely see an ad for just a plain old “Big Mac,” now a days. But I always see the company’s NEW products it promotes, which makes sense. Why send a million dollars to promote an old burger that many may be tired of eating, when you can send a million to promote a new burger that no one has ever tired.

I hope that Coke will take the time out to reevaluate the meaning of advertising! The company should stick to giving away free sodas at events it sponsors. By doing that, it has a better chance of getting more buyers for its products.

Why? Take me as an example. I have a better chance of trying something, whether it is brand new or not, for free at an event than me buying it at a store. If I like something that I tired at an event, then maybe the next time I go grocery shopping you’ll  find it in my cart.