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Great discussion of the current state of play. The Irish Times used to have a paywall but gave it up when it's market share (and advertising base) nosedived.  I expect the same to happen in Murdockville and am surprised he's even trying.  Surely they did their market research beforehand?  Perhaps their marketing agency was hoping to get the e-marketing contract as well!

In a Democracy, the state has a duty to inform its citizens, and cannot altogether delegate that responsibility to commercial entities.  And as Chris Cook never tires of pointing out, the internet is "disintermediating" the world - cutting out the middle men of news organisations, bankers, and professional journalists.  It's all about citizens not consumers now, and that has got to be a positive development...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 at 12:51:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Murdock is fixated on the old Top/Down Model of mass communication; that's how he made his pile.  If the Bottom/Up Model continues in its current trajectory it will destroy his ability to make the same amounts of money in the same way.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 at 01:20:34 PM EST
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Tangentially, I was reading the paper version of the Sunday Times today - someone left it lying around where I was having brunch. Tragically I spilled tea on it by accident, which is something that doesn't usually happen to web pages.

But anyway.

There was an appallingly chirpy and well-timed piece about entrepreneurial graduates, all of whom had great ideas and plenty of get up and go but who - the common theme seemed to be - were also making no money at all from their work.

You'd think this would be a bad thing, but apparently it isn't. Synchronistically it tied in with a feature I wrote last week about placements in the ad industry, many of which are done on a short-term no-payment basis. I.e. the agency or design shop expects graduates to work for four weeks to three months (on average) in return for a tick on the CV and perhaps a reference.

In maybe 10% of cases the unpaid placement turns into a real job, with money.

The MD of one of the companies I spoke to said that one of the characteristics he was looking for was - quote - 'humility.' Which seemed to mean some ineffable combination of nice person-ness, combined with a willingness to do crap jobs for long hours for nothing.

The Times piece had a comment about how anyone can make media now.

Which is true, but hardly anyone can make media and get paid for it - unless they create a feudal-enclosure and try to monetise it. Which isn't quite the same line of work.

So - given that Murdoch's Great Paywall of Fail can only crash and burn, don't be surprised if he tries to spin off some new new media effort which farms bloggers and content makers in return for a pat on the head and a bit of attention.

He already owns MySpace, but he's going to start losing money on that soon.

It's going to be interesting to see if tries to do something creative, or if he simply decides to keel over and die.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 4th, 2010 at 01:24:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need to apologise for reading The Sunday Times. I can remember when - 30 years ago - the did serious investigative journalism in N. Ireland.

(spilling tea on a keyboard can have more serious consequences)

ThatBritGuy:

The MD of one of the companies I spoke to said that one of the characteristics he was looking for was - quote - 'humility.' Which seemed to mean some ineffable combination of nice person-ness, combined with a willingness to do crap jobs for long hours for nothing.

Nice description - everyone needs peons to do the crap work - although humility and the ad business do not form a ready association in my experience.  The one thing that pissed people off at work most is when others (usually their boss) stole their ideas and claim credit for them.  The really good bosses always gave credit, but I lost track of the number of times a junior would make a suggestion at a meeting which was ignored and then greeted with acclaim when repeated (without attribution) by a senior sometimes even later in the same meeting!

ThatBritGuy:

So - given that Murdoch's Great Paywall of Fail can only crash and burn, don't be surprised if he tries to spin off some new new media effort which farms bloggers and content makers in return for a pat on the head and a bit of attention.

He already owns MySpace, but he's going to start losing money on that soon.

It's going to be interesting to see if tries to do something creative, or if he simply decides to keel over and die.

Arguably commercially sponsored blogs already farm bloggers for content, market share, and ad revenue in return for ...v. little.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 4th, 2010 at 01:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "In maybe 10% of cases the unpaid placement turns into a real job, with money."

When recent graduates accept this type of employment, the opportunity is called internship.

When adults --"experienced hires"-- accept this type of employment, the opportunity is called spec and one of the oldest bait-and-switch manuevers in every business.

In either case, the hiring authority who solicits free labor is an asshole, regardless of any quantitative analysis of cyclical stressors one employs to exculpate exploitation of people desperate to earn a wage.

re: "...anyone can make media now. Which is true, but hardly anyone can make media and get paid for it - unless they create a feudal-enclosure and try to monetise it."

Automation "democratizes" "media" quantity and quality by eliminating (or rationalizing) the vagary of "value added" by labor in production processes. The "feudal-enclosure" to which you may have alluded is supply of and demand for package software operators by corporate publishers, advertisers included. And advertisers' limits on "media placement" expenses --online and offline broadcast or print-- is really what drives agency growth (employment and billings), as you, I'm sure discovered in your exposé of hiring practices at boutiques and conglomerates.

Pervasive "creativity" is not a perequisite of revenue generation.

ISVs "monetize" demand for package software competences --e.g. auto-focus, "plug-in" interoperability, keyboard short-cuts, typing speed, derivatives volume-- by continuous sales of operating licenses to continuously obsolescent package software.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 4th, 2010 at 04:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I found interesting was that the employers didn't give the impression of being total assholes - certainly not moustachio-twirling top hat-wearing exploiters in the traditional cartoon sense.

And some of them had spent time on what might considered pro bono work offering feedback on portfolios - which was clearly a self-interested way to recruit, but seemed more effort than the usual interview round.

The justification for placements was that it gave the 'employee' a chance to learn the jargon and rhythms of the workplace. Whereas those arrived fresh from college needed to have everything spelled out for them.

I'm not sure how long it would take to put together jargon buster, or how much paper it would need. Not long, and not much, at a guess.

Pervasive "creativity" is not a perequisite of revenue generation.

Being able to massage client egos - and, occasionally, other body parts - seems to be a more useful talent.

The relationship is Renaissance client-patron, with the patron showering boutiques with largesse in return for praise and confirmation of the patron's significance - and hopefully a few sales.

Studios don't understand their own power in this relationship. They seem to assume that corporate benediction is the ultimate reward.

But if the entire ad industry downed pencils tomorrow, clients would be truly fucked.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jul 4th, 2010 at 07:04:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I to understand, you have never been employed by an ad agency or graphic design firm --full time or freelance-- for any of the following functions: copywriter, art director, account executive, producer, art buyer, production artist, or media buyer?

If so, describe for our audience the meaning of "gang bang."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 4th, 2010 at 07:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tragically I spilled tea on it by accident, which is something that doesn't usually happen to web pages.

Nope, but when you spill tea on your laptop it is really tragic.

If people take to reading their news on an iPad like they do on a newspaper, won't they spill tea on it just as often?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 5th, 2010 at 02:00:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wipes off pretty easily - not as bad as spilling it on a laptop.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 5th, 2010 at 02:53:34 AM EST
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The Times piece had a comment about how anyone can make media now.

Which is true, but hardly anyone can make media and get paid for it

The financial model of media companies is still amassing a number of eyeballs and selling access to those eyeballs.  That's how every media company from the local fish wrapper to Google makes money.  The 'Old Media' casts advertising to the wind and like the wind it blows on everyone.  Google and other on-line companies have the ability to tailor the advertising (roughly) to the Information or Data being displayed on the the 'page' thus giving the advertisers some hope the reader has some potential interest in the product being advertised; this hope is justified, or not, by the number of 'click-throughs' gathered by the ad giving the company purchasing the advertisement a way to quantify, e.g., dollar-cost-average, the success (or not) of the advertising campaign.  

This minor difference is the reason advertisers are moving from the print media to on-line media.  Without substantial advertising revenue newspapers are dead meat.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jul 5th, 2010 at 11:27:17 AM EST
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