Posted on | September 8, 2014 | No Comments
Sept. 8, 2014
Although wide-screen iPhones
and curvy iWatches
have gained the most attention as the buzz
builds around Apple’s product announcement on Tuesday, the biggest game changer of all may be the company’s effort to launch a mobile payments system.Assuming the chatter is correct, Apple will seek to supplant credit cards with a wireless payment system embedded
in its next-gen gizmos, thus revolutionizing the way consumers pay for things – and merchants track their customers. It is widely reported in the press that American Express, MasterCard and Visa have agreed to join the Apple initiative.
If mobile payments take off as Apple and its putative partners hope, this frictionless new way of transacting business will disintermediate the media as never before, as discussed in the following Newsosaur post from Aug. 9, 2011.
There are a couple of updates to the archived post.
- The Isis payment network mentioned in the original article, which was developed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, announced last week that it is changing its name to Softcard to avoid being confused with the group beheading journalists and terrorizing the Middle East. Also, the planned AT&T and T-Mobile merger was abandoned after it was blocked by federal antitrust regulators.
- The Blippy.Com service mentioned in the original article has gone on to other pursuits, but a number of other social shopping sites are only too happy to learn about who you are and what you like. Further, as previously discussed here, all of the major retailers have apps that track you, your purchases and even your location in their stores.
Now, here’s the original post:
It’s not a matter of if, but when, your ever-smarter smart phone replaces currency and credit cards as the way you pay for everything from a latte to a load of lumber for the deck you have been meaning to build.
The arrival of mobile payments will restructure the way marketers interact with consumers, leading potentially to epic shifts in the balance of power and dollars from financial services like Visa and American Express to technology providers like Google and Verizon.
It also is almost certain to lead to further disruption for media companies, unless they can figure out a way to nose into the action – which already is well under way.
The mobile payments revolution will be enabled by a technology called Near Field Communications (or NFC), which adds a micro-range radio to the cellular, wifi and Bluetooth arrays already packed into every smart phone. (More on NFC here.)
While only a smattering of Android devices today are equipped with NFC, there are hopeful rumors in the ever-breathless Apple press that the next-generation iPhone will have the feature when it debuts later this year.
Whether Apple takes the plunge now or later – thus leveraging the 125 million credit cards already on file at its successful iTunes service – the company will join a frenzied land grab including the following players:
- Google Wallet, which will be seamlessly integrated with the Android operating system that ComScore says powers more smart phones (40% of the market) than its closest competitor, the iPhone (27% of smart phones).
- Isis, a collaboration among Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile (the latter of which AT&T is seeking regulatory approval to acquire). These mobile providers, who utterly dominate the U.S. market, are partnered with Discover, MasterCard and Visa.
- Visa Wallet, a parallel effort by Visa to partner with its network of member banks to create a branded payments app.
- Serve, the American Express equivalent of the Visa Wallet effort, which has entered not only into partnerships with Verizon and Sprint but also the fast-growing Foursquare mobile check-in platform.
- Verisign and the other point-of-purchase equipment companies who make the gizmos used to swipe cards. Verisign has a mobile banking suite that it markets with a variety of tech and banking partners.
In a way, mobile payments already have arrived.
You can flash a barcode on a mobile phone to complete a purchase at most Starbuck’s, but it’s a far more complicated process today than it will be in the future. Now, you have to establish a Starbuck’s account by handing your credit card to a clerk, who loads the funds on a Starbuck’s card. Then, you have to download a Starbuck’s app and link it to your Starbuck’s account. Finally, you have to fuss with the phone when you make a purchase to generate a barcode that can be read at the register. If you run out of money, you have to slap some plastic on the counter to recharge your Starbuck’s card.
In the future, this rigmarole will be unnecessary. Sitting on a bus or walking through the park, you will be able to virtually create and manage accounts with individual merchants, simply waving your phone and confirming a transaction whenever you happen to be in a store. More likely, you will have a generic buying account that works with all merchants. Once established, you will be able to top it up from time to time for use at a gas pump, vending machine or furniture store. You might even be able to wirelessly lend a friend $100.
Paperless banking almost is upon us. Chase has an app that allows you to deposit a check by merely taking a picture of it with your Android or iPhone.
Once the mobile payments ecosystem fully evolves, currency and plastic may well become relics of the past.
For consumers, this will provide greater convenience and arguably more security than ever.
For the winners in the land grab, it will unlock vast new markets, potentially shifting revenues from banks and credit card companies to companies like Google, Apple and the mobile carriers.
For marketers, the systems will capture a wealth of information about purchasing patterns, including who, what, when and where people bought something. Even when this data is collected without identifying individuals by name, the volume and specificity of the information will enable marketers to sharpen their messaging and tactics.
Going to the next level, sites like Blippy.Com encourage consumers to disclose and write reviews about their purchases. If such platforms take off, they will provide merchants with the ability to link specific individuals with particular purchasing patterns, enabling brands to reach consumers with unprecedented precision.
At the level beyond that, it seems entirely possible that a significant number of consumers would be willing to have all their purchases tracked in return for such incentives as discounts or frequent-shopping points that can be redeemed for cash or products in the future. This, of course, would enable the Holy Grail of target marketing: Putting the right offer in front of the right person at the right time.
Although the outlook is unclear, there can be no question that mobile payments will revolutionize marketing by creating an ocean of real-time, granular and precise consumer data.
This matters to publishers and broadcasters, because it means that marketers in the future probably will vector ever more of their advertising dollars into direct connections with consumers, instead of mass media.
As mobile payments combine with the power of digital publishing, masses of eyeballs – which happens to be what traditional publishers and broadcasters sell – will diminish in importance in the typical advertiser’s media mix.
Where does this leave the traditional media companies?
Because rich data – not mass audiences – will be the name of the game in the future, every local media company should be gathering as much data as possible about every household and individual in the community it serves.
The most immediate opportunities to do this are through newsletter programs, contests, site registration and smart mobile apps. Obviously, all of these tactics require close attention to government and corporate privacy policies.
The other thing media companies need to do is pay close attention to the evolution of the mobile payments ecosystem. Then, when the time is right, they need to buddy up with the likely winners.
Alan D. Mutter is perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time. Mutter began his career as a newspaper columnist and editor at the Chicago Daily News and later rose to City Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, he became No. 2 editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He left the newspaper business in 1988 to join InterMedia Partners, a start-up that became one of the largest cable-TV companies in the U.S. Mutter was the COO of InterMedia when he moved to Silicon Valley in 1996 to join the first of the three start-up companies he led as CEO. The companies he headed were a pioneering Internet service provider and two enterprise-software companies. Mutter now is a consultant specializing in corporate initiatives and new media ventures involving journalism and technology. He ordinarily does not write about clients or subjects that will affect their interests. In the rare event he does, this will be fully disclosed. Mutter also is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. To see his entire profile, click here.
Posted on | April 16, 2014 | No Comments
Check out The New York Pizza Project on Kickstarter, and become a backer. It’s near and dear to my heart. My son Nick Johnson is among the creators. But it’s also a phenomenal print documentary of one of New York’s most emblematic enterprises: the pizza shop. The photos, interviews, even video for future projects, are all done. They just need funds now for printing and distribution of a coffee table book. The project takes an anthropological view of the culture that surrounds and infuses NYC pizza shops. After all, what would the city be without them?
Posted on | April 14, 2014 | No Comments
By Jules Older, April 14, 2014
Here’s what’s going right for Lifeguards today…
Shot Boom Score , a kid’s book by New Zealand broadcaster/author/publisher/cricketer Justin Brown, has made the Storylines 2014 Notable Books List.
In Marin County, California, Dick Jordan has a piece on southeast Alaska on MarinTV. You can see it here.
In Vermont’s fabled Northeast Kingdom, Jerry Johnson’s Up the Creek Without a Saddle is now in eBook and iBook versions.
You call her Loser; she spells it Winner. From London, Gill Martin reports on the ski triumphs of Mother England’s journalists.
Cindy Hirschfeld is now editor-in-chief of Aspen Magazine and group editor for Vail Resorts’ Epic Life magazine. [This gives me particular pleasure since, back in 2010, she was feeling down so long, it felt like up to her. I’ve attached Writers Lifeguard 33 in case you missed Cindy’s story.
San Franciscan Kelly Carter writes, “I’m skiting from Washington, D.C., where last night I gave a pet travel talk at National Geographic’s headquarters to promote my new book, The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel, Nat Geo’s first pet travel guidebook. Good Morning America recently spent two days in San Francisco with me and my pooch Lucy to shoot a dog-friendly travel segment that airs soon. Keep your eye out for it!”
Here’s another kind of triumph. From Vermont, Mary Kerr writes, “I depart this Sunday for Kabul. My friends in Kabul tell me their elation over the numbers of young and old, men and women, defying the Taliban by voting in this presidential election is beyond description. Their future is brightening! I am so excited to think I will be there for a five-week period. I will be teaching at SOLA — School of Leadership-Afghanistan. I suspect I will learn more from these young Afghan women than they from me, inshallah.”
Leslie Anthony left snowy British Columbia for sunny San Francisco to receive Canada’a prestigious Northern Lights Award for his feature writing.
Then, there’s this from new Lifeguard, Sharon Spence Lieb. Better sit down before you read it…
“I was thrilled when North American Travel Journalists awarded me as a Finalist in their 2014 Travel Writing Competition. But it’s the story behind the award that I want to share.
“After 28 blissful years travelling the world with my photographer/filmmaker husband Warren Lieb, he became terminally ill. My Indiana Jones, who hiked to 17,000 feet in Peru, filmed wars out of fighter jets, kayaked with killer whales and dove to 100 feet with giant manta rays… became a homebound invalid who could barely walk.
“I stopped travelling, stopped writing and devoted myself to his care. Then, a strange invitation came from Cancun Visitors Bureau; please come write about The Day of the Dead ceremony.
“’No thanks,’ I said. ‘I hate death. My husband is dying.’
“’You must come,’ they said. ‘There is someone you must meet.
“I got 24/7 nurses for Warren and went to Cancun. At an evening candlelit ceremony, in an underground cave, I encountered a shaman. Hundreds gathered for his incantations, his blessings. I crawled on my knees along the wet jungle floor, stooped at his feet like a crying child, and asked him to help me overcome my fear of death and loss.
“His message gave me great comfort. I wrote a story, about what I learned, Life And Death In Cancun. After Warren’s death, the story was published in many outlets.
And won best story of the year from Cancun Visitor Bureau, 2013 and then the Finalist award from NATJA, 2014.”
And finally, from Dublin, Patrick Kinsella provides an etymological footnote on the New Zealand word for bragging. “In Ireland, ‘skite’ is a noun, not a verb, and you go on a skite (or ‘a bit of a skite’) with friends to visit many pubs and drink much beer. A skite is the series of events at which much craic is generally had. Though there may be later regrets.”
Good work, Lifeguards. Write on.
, Displaced Journalists
, Writers Lifeguard
Posted on | April 13, 2014 | No Comments
By Lee Foster
The steady advance in the practice of “independent book publishing,” also called self-publishing in some circles, has been a remarkable and innovative phenomenon to watch in the last decade.
Those of us who knew the viability of “traditional book publishing” have also observed that decline with some sadness. In my own case, I published a dozen books with traditional publishers and found the experience generally satisfactory in the earlier, golden years.
Traditional vs independent publishing is a challenging dilemma with which many modern authors now wrestle. (I talked recently on this before the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association, and videographer Joel Blackwell captured a video record. I also talked on this subject before the Bay Area Travel Writers and at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference.)
In 2013, I published one book independently and one book traditionally. Probably all my future books will be independent. What has changed?
Understanding Traditional Book Publishing
Before traditional book publishing is dismissed as an option, it is important to understand what it was, how it functioned, and why it once worked well.
Read more here.
, Digital Journalist
, Displaced Journalists
, independent publishing
Posted on | March 10, 2014 | No Comments
By Jules Older, March 10, 2014
A little over a year ago, in a Writers Lifeguard titled Preparation H, I wrote: My goal, my aim, my early resolution for 2013 is to start
making money again. Check back with me in a year, and I’ll let you know how that worked out.
It’s now next year. So, your question is, Did he make it?
And my answer is… No, first, let me tell you how I spent the year. I spent it trying mightily to make that resolution work. I submitted more, hustled more, started blogging for dollars, and when faced with the choice of doing something for free (as I’m doing now) or for money, I pushed myself to open the door marked CASH.
So, after all that, Did he make it?
He did not. My already pathetic income dropped. Significantly dropped. What lies below pathetic? Wretched? Pitiful? Tragic? By whatever name, that’s what I earned from writing last year.
Am I embarrassed by this? Oh, yes. Somewhere between embarrassed and humiliated.
Am I giving up my quest to earn a decent buck from my work? Oh, no. I’m doubling down. This year’s resolution is the same as last’s — start making money again.
Am I optimistic? I’m a born optimistic fool, so, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, yes. I’ll report back again in early 2015.
That’s me. How’s by you? Let us know, and if you don’t want me to share the info with the other Lifeguards, just mark it PRIVATE. It shall remain so.
Hope yer well and thriving. As, money aside, is your old friend
Jules Older (amazingly, no actual relation to Susan Older) is a freelance travel writer, the author of children’s books, a speaker, a broadcaster, a consultant and, with Effin Older, the creator of the iPhone/iPad apps: San Francisco Restaurants, Auckland (New Zealand) Insider and Kickass Grammar. Learn more about Jules and Effin here.
, Displaced Journalists
, Entrepreneurial Journalism
, Writers Lifeguard
Posted on | March 3, 2014 | No Comments
Washington News Council
GOT GUTS? SEEKING ENERGETIC, ENTREPRENEURIAL MEDIA-SAVVY INDIVIDUAL TO HEAD ONLY NEWS COUNCIL IN THE UNITED STATES.
Applications are now being accepted for the position of Executive Director of the Washington News Council in Seattle, Washington. Deadline: March 15, 2014. Email cover letter (not to exceed 750 words) and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to WNC, P.O. Box 3672, Seattle WA 98124. Call 206.262.9793 with any questions.
“New executive director sought for last U.S. news council; only gutsy need apply” — Sandra Oshiro, Poynter
“Washington News Council head John Hamer to retire” — Patti Payne, Puget Sound Business Journal
WARNING! THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT A JOB FOR THE FAINT-OF-HEART.
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS WILL INCLUDE:
- IMAGINATION & DRIVE TO “REBOOT” WNC IN DIGITAL AGE.
- STRONG COMMITMENT TO FIRST AMENDMENT/FREE PRESS.
- BELIEF IN HOLDING NEWS MEDIA PUBLICLY ACCOUNTABLE.
- EQUANIMITY IN FACE OF SKEPTICISM FROM JOURNALISTS.
- ABILITY TO RAISE OWN SALARY AND OPERATING EXPENSES.
The WNC is an independent forum for media ethics founded in 1998. It is the last such organization of its kind in the United States, although dozens of press councils exist all over the world. (SEE AIPCE.NET) The WNC’s stated mission is: “To help maintain public trust and confidence in the news media by promoting fairness, accuracy and balance and by creating a forum where the public and the news media can engage each other in examining standards of journalistic ethics and accountability.”
The WNC’s founding Executive Director and now Board President, John Hamer, has announced that he will retire on April 15, 2014 (his 68th birthday). He may remain as President Emeritus at the discretion of the WNC Board on a advisory/consulting basis, but the new Executive Director will report directly to the Board.
PLEASE NOTE: The WNC is at a turning point after 15 years of solid and successful operations. Financial sustainability is a challenge. The new Executive Director will need to raise sufficient funds to sustain the Council’s work — including his/her salary. He/she will have the opportunity to “reinvent” the WNC and take it in new directions, and/or maintain some current programs and activities. He/she may need to recruit new Board members, several of whom are retiring as their terms end. He/she may also need to hire a new part-time executive assistant, as the current person in that position has a full-time teaching commitment at least through June 2014. He/she may need to work from home, depending on whether funds are adequate to pay current rent of office above Pyramid Alehouse near Safeco Field (free parking; beer downstairs; baseball across street).
“Reinvent/reboot” WNC to be relevant and effective in new digital media age. Work with Board of Directors to review/redefine/revitalize mission and goals.
Take responsibility for fund-raising and developing resources to support WNC.
Prepare annual budget in partnership with Board Executive Committee.
Submit regular financial statements to Executive Committee and full Board.
MISSION AND PROGRAMS
Lead review of WNC’s current mission, goals, programs and activities.
Reevaluate existing Board structure and implement any needed changes.
Suggest new directions and activities to fulfill mission as appropriate.
Oversee effective administration of WNC office and activities.
Hire and manage staff, consultants and interns as appropriate.
Hold quarterly Board meetings and monthly Exec Comm meetings.
Degree in journalism, communications, management or related field.
Experience dealing with news media and working journalists.
Strong expertise in fund-raising and nonprofit development.
Solid financial oversight and budget-management skills.
Organizational abilities including strategic planning and tactics.
Management abilities to oversee staff/interns/consultants.
Experience working with nonprofit Board of Directors members.
Transparent and high-integrity leadership standards and practices.
Strong written, verbal, and digital communication skills.
ACTUAL JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Work with Board of Directors to update and fulfill WNC’s mission.
2. Raise sufficient funds to keep WNC sustainable, including own salary.
3. Oversee day-to-day operations of organization, staff, and volunteers.
4. Serve as primary spokesperson to news media and general public.
5. Help change complaint hearings into online digital review process.
6. Decide on future of “TAO of Journalism” Pledge & Seal project.
7. Determine evolution of Online Media Guide (OMG) project.
8. Decide whether to continue awarding annual WNC scholarships.
9. Determine whether to continue Media Ethics breakfast series.
10. Provide creative leadership in 24/7 online digital media world.
Posted on | January 3, 2014 | No Comments
Posted on Forbes.com 12.26.2013
Guest post by Merrill Brown, director of the school of communication and media at Montclair State
University. A member of the founding team of Court TV and the founding Editor in Chief of MSNBC.com, Brown advises digital media start-ups and is a Venture Partner at DFJ Frontier.
As the management and ownership of the hyperlocal media venture Patch endure contortions about the AOL company’s future, there’s an enormous amount of punditry concluding that Patch’s failures are both about its model and about the impossible nature of succeeding in providing digital news and information to local communities. Some of it is wise, but most everyone is missing a critical point.
That digital local media has yet to scale and create a definitive new model is about investor apprehension about all things local, about entrepreneurial limitations, and about the fact that too many local media startups have to date been underinvesting in building local advertising capabilities. In some ways it’s about one core issue: local media and hyperlocal startups are missing the audiences and revenue opportunities around serving the entirety of large metropolitan areas.
Read more of Merrill Brown’s Forbes post here.
Posted on | October 8, 2013 | No Comments
Reflections of a Newsosaur
MUSINGS (AND OCCASIONAL URGENT WARNINGS) OF A VETERAN MEDIA EXECUTIVE, WHO FEARS OUR NEWS-GATHERING COMPANIES ARE STUMBLING TO EXTINCTION
By Alan D. Mutter
Monday, Oct. 07, 2013
A directive to cut up to $100 million in spending at the Tribune Co. newspapers is but the latest challenge to a group of iconic titles that have been twisting in the wind for seven of the most tumultuous years ever experienced by the publishing industry.
The budget cuts in store for the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and six other dailies published by the company add to the uncertainty, anxiety and indecision that have distracted staffers at the publications since a series of convulsive – and inconclusive – changes in ownership and management commenced way back in 2006. Sadly, as discussed in a moment, there is still no end in sight.
The timing of the ongoing cluster-kerfuffle could not be worse, because the managers and employees of the newspapers ought to be spending their days developing new products, acquiring new audiences and building new revenue streams to meet the abundant challenges of the digital era.
Instead, they are wondering who will own the company, who will be in charge, what they will be asked to do and what might happen next. Not the least of their concerns is whether they will have jobs in the next week, next month or next year. More on this in a moment. First, the background:
The seven-year ordeal for the Tribune newspapers began in September, 2006, when the publicly held company kicked off the process of putting itself up for sale as shareholders feuded over its ebbing stock price.
The yearlong hunt for a buyer ended when real estate mogul Sam Zell acquired the company in December, 2007, with $13 billion in debt and only $315 million…. read more here.
Alan D. Mutter is perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time. Mutter began his career as a newspaper columnist and editor at the Chicago Daily News and later rose to City Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, he became No. 2 editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He left the newspaper business in 1988 to join InterMedia Partners, a start-up that became one of the largest cable-TV companies in the U.S. Mutter was the COO of InterMedia when he moved to Silicon Valley in 1996 to join the first of the three start-up companies he led as CEO. The companies he headed were a pioneering Internet service provider and two enterprise-software companies. Mutter now is a consultant specializing in corporate initiatives and new media ventures involving journalism and technology. He ordinarily does not write about clients or subjects that will affect their interests. In the rare event he does, this will be fully disclosed. Mutter also is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.
Posted on | September 20, 2013 | No Comments
By Thomas Kent, deputy managing editor and standards editor, Associated Press
Published Sept. 20, 2013 on The Huffington Post Media Blog
In journalism conferences and blogs, the last-leg school has been gaining currency in the past few months. Its proponents argue that the basic transmission of information has become a cheap commodity — “anyone with a cell phone and a Twitter account can do it.” This information, they say, is seen by everyone — long before journalistic gatekeepers can try to control it. The bottom line: If there’s anything left for journalists to do, it’s to attempt to add value by analyzing and retelling what everyone has seen already.
These are quite dramatic claims, and highly questionable. Trends so far offer little basis to expect a change in the fundamentals of the journalistic profession.
One assertion underlying much of the last-legs thinking is that today’s journalists, multiskilled as they may be, risk becoming obsolete. In their portrayal of the “networked journalism” of the future in the International Journal of Communication, Bregtje van der Haak, Michael Parks and Manuel Castells say that unless journalists take on much more specialized new roles, they face losing ground “to the robots capable of performing routine data gathering, and to the citizen journalists who constantly retrieve information in real-life situations around them.”
Yet robots and citizen journalists have been with us for some time. News companies routinely use automation to handle data and sometimes even to write basic stories. No one underestimates the ubiquity of citizen journalists; as the size of newsrooms declines, journalists are benefiting increasingly from citizen contributions.
Read more here.
Posted on | September 17, 2013 | No Comments
Press Release, Sept. 16, 2013
One of the centerpiece events of every Writer’s Digest Conference is the Agent & Editor Pitch Slam. It allows attendees to meet with plenty of publishing pros and pitch their work. It’s a fantastic way to meet agents and editors who are seeking new clients now. Plus, I will be on site Friday evening to personally explain the ins and outs of a successful pitch. Using what you learn from my Friday “Pitch Perfect” session, you can rewrite your pitch and come into Saturday’s slam prepared and ready.
But I know nothing succeeds like success — so let me tell you about our pitch slam success stories from the past. Writer Beth Buelow attended our conference in Los Angeles last year, and signed with agent Annie Bomke. And then there’s agent Thao Le, who also attended and signed a writer. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that several writers each year sign with agents at our east coast (NYC) conference, or that at least four writers signed with agents following our 2008 event in Los Angeles.
Bottom line: Writer’s Digest’s Agent & Editor Pitch Slam works. Connections are happening. This year, we have at least 20 agents and editors to pitch. Join us at our event, September 27–29, in Los Angeles, and be our next success story. I hope to see you there.
keep looking »
Editor, GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS
Author, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM
Learn more about me and all Writer’s Digest Conference West speakers here.