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Hannah Vinter

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The Washington Post has launched a new section on its website titled to publish links to the best coverage of the US election. The Post gathers links shared by Twitter users tweeting with its hashtag #campaignreads.

Facebook hires Bloomberg's Dan Fletcher as its new managing editor, reports Forbes.

The Guardian has published a map, based on the research project How Africa Tweets, showing Twitter usage across the African continent.

For more industry news please see WAN-IFRA's Executive News Service


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-27 18:44

Twitter announced yesterday that it would begin selectively blocking Tweets in some countries.

"Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -- while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why."

Twitter writes that it will withhold access to Tweets in certain countries "if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity". As an example of illegal material it names pro-Nazi content, which is outlawed in France and Germany.

The micro-blogging platform implies that it will not comply with all government requests to remove content. It states that, in some countries, the ideas about freedom of expression "differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there".

Until now, Twitter had to remove content from its entire network if it received a valid legal order to take it down in one country. This change in policy means that Twitter can block Tweets region by region.

Twitter writes that it will be transparent about the Tweets it censors by 1) telling a user if their Tweet has been withheld 2) letting other users know when content has been blocked 3) publishing requests to block content on

There are loopholes in this transparency. Twitter promises: "upon receipt of requests to withhold content we will promptly notify affected users, unless we are legally prohibited from doing so".

Twitter's new policies are similar to those already practiced by Google. The Guardian writes that this is no coincidence; Twitter was advised by Alexander Macgillivray, who also helped Google put together its censorship policy.

The Guardian writes that the new announcement "is likely to raise fears that Twitter's commitment to free speech may be weakening". The paper notes that the San Francisco-based internet giant is aiming to reach an audience of 1 billion active global users and that "reaching that goal will require expanding into more countries, which will mean Twitter will be more likely to have to submit to laws that run counter to the free-expression protections guaranteed under the first amendment in the US."

Reuters writes that this decision "represents a significant departure from [Twitter's] tone just one year ago". In January 2011, Twitter published a post titled "The Tweets Must Flow", stating "we don't always agree with the things people choose to tweet, but we keep the information flowing irrespective of any view we may have about the content." However, at the time it also stated: "there are Tweets that we do remove, such as illegal Tweets and spam."

Twitter's decision to censor Tweets in certain countries has been condemned by many Twitter users. Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter to Twitter Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey stating that the internet giant's decision represents "nothing other than local level censorship carried out in cooperation with local authorities and in accordance with local legislation, which often violates international free speech standards."

The letter asks Jack Dorsey to reverse the decision "which restricts freedom of expression and runs counter to the movements opposed to censorship that have been linked to the Arab Spring, in which Twitter served as a sounding board."

Mark Gibbs at Forbes likewise condemns the decision, saying that Twitter has gone "over to the dark side".

Gibbs has practical objections about the way Twitter's system will work. Given the volume of Tweets, he writes, any filtering system will have to be automated. How can an algorithm determine if a Tweet is really expressing something illegal? How can an algorithm detect irony/sarcasm? Doesn't the fact that Twitter is filtering Tweets give them editorial responsibility and leave them vulnerable to litigation?

Others are more sympathetic with Twitter's decision. Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation states that although "this is censorship" Twitter is not "above the law", and it is being more transparent about its policies than its rival Facebook. "I understand why people are angry, but this does not, in my view, represent a sea change in Twitter's policies," she writes.

NPR's Andy Carvin noted that repressive regimes can already block Twitter if they want to. "If Twitter does business in a country, then they're complied to follow local laws. That's all this is," he tweeted.

Sources: Twitter (1) (2) (3),, The Guardian, Reuters, Reporters Without Borders, Forbes, Poynter, Jillian C York


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-27 17:58

By Federica Cherubini

Six countries, six leading newspapers, a huge audience and one common theme: Europe, how to explain it better, how to understand it better, how to build it better. This is the aim of an editorial project which saw six papers joining forces to produce a joint special edition on the situation of the European Union.

"The state of the Union", echoing the State of the union speech US President Obama gave on 24 January, is the angle of the first issue of Europa (more will be expected in future) produced by El Pais, the Guardian, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Gazeta Wyborcza and La Stampa.

This joint special editorial supplement aims to give a "more nuanced picture of the EU and explore what Europe does well and what not so well", as the Guardian explained.

For more on this story please see our sister publication


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-27 15:21

Last July Johnston Press appointed Ashley Highfield, previously head of technology at the BBC and then director of Microsoft's UK consumer and online business, as its new CEO.

The appointment raised two questions. One: why did Johnston Press hire a boss with no newspaper experience? Two: Why would Highfield want to head Johnston Press, which has seen its share price drop from 480p to 5p over the last five years?

Both of these points have been raised by Raymond Snoddy who has published a long interview with Highfield in In Publishing's bi-monthly magazine.

The answer to the first question seems obvious: Johnston Press was investing in a Digital First Future. Other news publishers have done the same; in November Time Warner Inc. hired Laura Lang, formerly of the digital advertising company Digitas, as its CEO.

In his interview with Snoddy, Highfield is clear that Johnston's future is as a diversified media company: "yes I have absolutely no previous newspaper experience but the board had already made the decision that the future of Johnston Press lay in moving the organisation beyond print and that was explained to me in the first sentence".

Highfield, who launched iPlayer for the BBC, ran BBC online and was later in charge of MSN's UK news portal, has extensive experience directing digital jounalists. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian points out that he won the digital innovator internet award from the Sunday Times in 2003, and was named "most influential individual in technology" by in 2004.

As you would expect, Highfield tells In Publishing that he sees the future of Johnston Press as a diversified multimedia company, not exclusively as a print publisher: "If we can get over that we are a disseminator of information whether that means print, online, iPads, phones and possibly even local television, that is the cultural shift that has to be made", he states.

Although Highfield does not reveal the details of his digital strategy to In Publishing, he says he will focus on looking at what medium is most suited to what content. "The fundamental thing is understanding our audience needs and meeting those with the right content in the right place and the right medium at the right time," he tells Snoddy.

Despite Johnston Press's heavy debts (the publisher bought three papers in 2005 for £400 million) and rock bottom share price (In Publishing: "If the share graph were a heart monitor, the patient would be dead") Highfield claims that "every newspaper in the group has a healthy margin over 20 per cent and all up the business is very profitable." Snoddy writes that debts are slowly being reduced, some Johnston papers are increasing their circulation and circulation revenues are falling at a decreased rate. Highfield is also positive about the demand for local news.

But even if the company's financial outlook is not as bleak as commonly assumed, Johnston Press will still need to act fast: "The challenge is, can you migrate that business into the digital realm quickly enough before profits decline," says Highfield.

The Johnston Press CEO has been criticised in the past for not acting quickly enough. Last November Roy Greenslade complained that Highfield had "fail[ed] to spell out wonders of an online future".

Greenslade criticised Highfield for offering "nothing different from what we have heard for years from the digitally-blind ink-stained veterans of the press" after he told The Herald in Glasgow "It is quite clear to me that newspapers in print are not dead."

The In Publishing interview suggests that Highfield has still not really got started with his shift towards digital. Snoddy notes that the Johnston CEO is travelling around company's various properties "before rushing to any premature conclusions" and that his pace seems "leisurely". Snoddy reports that Highfield is unconcerned and "believes there is time to get things right".

Sources: In Publishing,, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, BBC


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-26 18:20

The Daily Mail has overtaken The New York Times to become the world's biggest newspaper site, according to data from comScore.

Buzzfeed reports that in December 2011 Mail Online reached 45.3 million users, compared to 44.8 million reached by the The New York Times.

Mail Online publisher Martin Clarke told Buzzfeed in an interview that growing US audiences and the hiring of deputy editor Katherine Thompson, formerly of the Huffington Post, have helped fuel the Mail's boom in readers. The site has a strong presence in America, with permanent staff in New York and Los Angeles.

Most importantly, he says, "we just do news that people want to read." Clarke credits the Mail's roots in Fleet Street for its "entertaining, engaging way with clear, concise, straightforward copy and lots of good pictures."

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy criticized the The Daily Mail's claims to the top spot, saying that Mail Online only became number one by including its personal finance site ThisIsMoney in the total. She told BuzzFeed that if the Times counted readers of its other properties, such as the Boston Globe, it would still be on top.

"We remain the number one individual newspaper site in the world," she asserted.

Murphy also emphasised that the Times and the Daily Mail target very different audiences. "It almost doesn't need to be said, but the Daily Mail is not in our competitive set," she stated.

Both Buzzfeed and The Guardian's Roy Greenslade agree that there is no clear standard for measuring online traffic.

According to figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations today, traffic to Mail Online actually dipped by 0.95% in December compared to the previous month. ABC counts "unique browsers" i.e. the number of different computers accessing a site, while ComScore is said to count the total number of online readers.

Still, Clarke defends his claim to the top spot, saying that the comScore figures show "that we are now one of the biggest players in terms of Internet news, as is the New York Times - and I'm sure we both will be for a while."

But perhaps not forever, Clarke seems to suggest. He points out that the Daily Mail's growth is much steeper than the Times's. "With their paywall it's flatlined a bit," he notes.

Last week Mail Online expanded with Mail Online India, an Indian site integrated into the Mail's own website but including copy from the Dehli-based paper Mail Today, which the Daily Mail part owns.

It remains to be seen whether Mail Online's rapid growth helps it make money. Paid Content reported last November that Associated Newspapers websites, Mail Online, Metro and ThisIsMoney lost £900,000 in the first three quarters of 2011 as they invested in expanding their operations in the US. Martin Morgan, the CEO of the Daily Mail's parent company, DMGT, told analysts that "profitability on a meaningful scale is not going to be until 2013".

News International's digital product director Nick Bell told Paid Content last week that although sharing content online offered newspapers a huge audience, "trying to derive direct monetary value from those users is still a challenge".

Sources: Buzzfeed Paid Content (1) (2) sfnblog, Press Gazette


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-26 12:45

Should reporters be aiming for print bylines? The Columbia Journalism Review reflects on why journalists still care about seeing their name in print.

The Knight Center's Journalism in the Americas Blog shares a list of crowd-sourcing websites from across Latin America. One example is the Mapa Delictivo, created by El Universal, which tracks crimes in Mexico City.

Poynter has published a discussion with Knight News Challenge winner Christina Xu about how microgrants can help fuel innovative journalism.

Nieman Lab reports that the Public Insight Network, American Public Media's network of sources, is hiring its own reporting team to turn more of the information that its members produce into stories.

For more industry news please see WAN-IFRA's Executive News Service.


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-25 18:51

Sometimes a story's too long to be an article, too short to be a book. What can publishers do? Increasingly, the answer has been to publish e-singles.

The concept has been around for a while. Almost a year ago, the New York Times published an article about the Atavist, an app launched in January 2011 as a platform for long-form stories, enhanced with high-quality photography, videos and audio features.

Atavist co-founder Evan Ratliff described the gap his project filled in the market: "in the digital realm, there is infinite space, but somehow this hasn't resulted in a flowering of long-form content." Fellow founder Nicholas Thompson added, "the Web is good at creating short and snappy bits of information, but not so much when it comes to long-form, edited, fact-and-spell-checked work"

Other publishers had also been trying to appeal to the same niche. Amazon is credited with starting the trend, with the release of Kindle singles in January 2011. Byliner launched in April as a publisher and social network for producing and selling long articles/non-fiction stories. Traditional publishers including Penguin and Random House are also in on the trend.

The market for e-singles is growing, as the boom in tablets and e-readers has given consumers access to a lean-back digital device, which lends itself to in-depth reading, rather than casual browsing.

Paid Content recently published an article suggesting that the fledging product has already come a long way. Reporting on a panel discussion on e-singles at the Digital Book World Conference in New York, Paid Content listed the achievements of e-singles publishers: the Atavist sold over 100,000 copies of ten e-singles released last year; Byliner has sold 100,000 original e-singles; an e-single published by Penguin is number three on the New York Times e-book bestseller list.

E-singles can be an opportunity for news organizations and book publishers - both under financial pressure - to join forces. Paid Content writes that Random House has partnered with Politico to publish four non-fiction e-singles. Author of the article Laura Hazard Owen quotes Random House's Jon Meacham, who says that the partnership benefits both parties in that it "increases the discoverability and the prominence both of Random House and of Politico". What's more it delivers a ready-made audience to Random House, in the form of Politico's loyal readers.

Increasingly, news organisations have been publishing e-books as a way supplement falling revenue. As Poynter noted last summer, e-singles can be a good way for news organisations to repackage content and sell it a second time around, especially if current events give an old story newfound relevance. E-singles also have the advantage of being quick and easy to produce compared to traditional publishing.

ProPublica, Slate, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post are a few examples of news organizations that have released e-singles.

Now publishers are experimenting further. Paid Content also reports that the Atavist has been investigating new ways to sell its products; it wants to launch a yearly subscription model for e-singles, turning its range of singles into something more like a magazine.

But although some publishers may have high hopes, e-singles are still at an early stage and there's no guarantee that they will bolster news organisations revenue in a meaningful way. Laura Hazard Owen at Paid Content writes that lots of questions remain unanswered: "What kind of returns are traditional publishers expecting from e-singles? Will they contribute to the bottom line any time soon or do publishers see them as a relatively inexpensive way to experiment?" Another question is whether a large base or readers will be willing to pay for long articles, when services like Longreads offer them for free.

Sources: New York Times, Paid Content (1) (2) Poynter


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-25 17:42

by Emma Heald

The future of the newspaper is in magazines, believes Jacek Utko, design director for Bonnier Business Press, which publishes newspapers in eight Central European countries. This is a trend that news organisations should embrace rather than fight, he added, speaking at the 5th Arab Free Press Forum in Tunis.

Print is still a highly relevant medium, Utko said, and publishers are increasingly realizing this as they have been disappointed by tablets as audience- and revenue-generators.

However, the print model at many news organisations - publishing website content the following day and charging for it - does not make sense, Utko claims. It is necessary to offer more than that if you want people to willingly pay for the product.

For more on this story please see our sister publication


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-25 15:22

Are international editions a luxury that newspapers with declining circulation can't afford?

In this digital age, increasingly it looks like international print editions are under threat. An article in The Guardian last Sunday speculated that the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, might be about to shut up shop. Author Peter Preston writes that after selling its stake in the Boston Red Sox and its regional newspaper group, getting rid of the Tribune might be the logical next step for the New York Times.

Preston calls the Tribune "very vulnerable" as senior editors are being called back from the IHT headquarters in Paris to other jobs in New York. He notes that the paper "doesn't make money. It struggles to keep circulation over 200,000 worldwide. And, crucially, it doesn't have a website of its own".

The article is based on conjecture (and it should be pointed out, The Guardian's own circulation was 230,108 in December and it has been losing money for some time) but perhaps Preston raises an important point about the cost of printing international editions. When print production everywhere is under threat, it's no surprise that they're the first to go.

The Guardian's own international edition was scrapped last summer, although the Guardian Weekly is still available globally. At the time, Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliot wrote, "other newspapers are expected to follow suit. International editions were always more costly to produce, and eventually the costs were disproportionate in an era when all papers are facing declining revenues." The Independent followed suit by axing its international edition last autumn.

However, having a strong international presence can be a huge source of revenue. This is especially true for papers that print in English, because the growth of English as an international language means that they have an ever-expanding audience. The Economist is a case in point. In an interview with The Guardian last November, Andrew Rashbass, CEO of The Economist Group, said that the huge commercial success of the magazine was down to "the extraordinary luck" of publishing in English.

Clearly there is a difference between national dailies like the Guardian, which appeal to British citizens living abroad and in-depth analysis publications like the Economist, which appeal to all English speakers. It's no surprise that the first folded, while the second is still going strong.

However, the Financial Times - printed daily in Britain but relevant to financial professionals around the globe - is an example that straddles the gap. The paper boasts that it is the first daily newspaper to sell more copies internationally than in its home market and today it is printed in 22 cities around the world. However, managing editor Lisa MacLeod told WAN-IFRA in an email exchange that although the FT has "maintained a full correspondents' network with over 140 staff working overseas" at the paper "we have however recently attempted to scale back on some of the production complexities of our international editions by bringing the deadlines on the inside international pages closer together, and running more common pages where possible."

"This is an attempt to simplify our print-heavy production process to free up resources for the growing digital business," she states.

Digital products are an obvious replacement for international editions because they allow papers to distribute content worldwide without the heavy costs of printing abroad. When The Guardian got rid of its international edition, the paper said the decision was "part of its digital first strategy".

So the fact that international editions are folding doesn't mean that papers are failing to capitalize on the international market. On the contrary, The Wall Street Journal recently launched a digital-only German edition. Non-English speaking publications are also trying to get in on the action. Der Spiegel recently released an English-language iPhone edition, massively boosting its global appeal.

Sources: The Guardian (1) (2),, Wall Blog, FT (1) (2) sfnblog

Photo via Flickr


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-25 12:54

Public concern has been raised over media laws restricting freedom of the press in Hungary and South Africa, but less attention has been devoted to the worsening situation in Ecuador, where the news media are now under attack, writes George Brock, Professor and Head of Journalism at City University London, on his blog.

On January 24, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) published a report that illustrates how the government of Ecuador is carrying out "a sophisticated strategy of marginalising all voices independent of state power".
Download the full report in English and Spanish here.

A survey reported by The Guardian today suggests that almost 70% of the British population distrust tabloid newspapers. However, Roy Greenslade argues that the question of trust it irrelevant for many tabloid readers, who are looking for entertainment, not information.

Everyone on Facebook will soon be getting Timeline, writes Techcrunch. The social network's new look is already available for those who want to opt in voluntarily, but it will be unrolled for all users in the next couple weeks.

And finally, Gizmodo reports that Julian Assange will be appearing on his own TV show.

For more industry news please see WAN-IFRA's Executive News Service.


Hannah Vinter


2012-01-24 18:47

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