Monitoring Change in Journalism - June 2009 Archive

30 June


UK: Guardian Asks Users to Help Investigating British Parliamentarians’ Expenses

Following the political scandal over the fiddling of expenses claims by British Members of Parliament, The Guardian newspaper is asking its readers to help checking the 457,153 pages of documents and expenses reports submitted by Members of Parliament. This is certainly the first time that readers are directly involved with media at such a large scale in a “watchdog experiment”.


Netherlands: Media Minister to Impose Ceiling on Public Broadcasting Salaries

Dutch Media Minister Ronald Plasterk proposed to cap salaries of public broadcasters at €181,000 a year, but this ceiling excludes individual TV stars with a “unique talent”. Mr Plasterk sent this proposal to the Lower House on 26 June and he expects the regulation to come into force on 1 September. It will not apply to existing presenters but only to newcomers.


Global: YouTube Opens Reporters’ Center

YouTube opened an online journalism training site with comments and tips from senior journalists. The YouTube Reporters' Centre hosts short video tutorials on subjects such as investigative journalism, journalism ethics and how to conduct an interview. The site also invites “users with reporting experience” to upload "how-to" videos to YouTube to "share knowledge with citizen journalists around the world."


26 June


Greece: Agelopoulou Family Closes Down its Media Outlets Without Warning

Greek billionnaires Theodoros and Gianna Angelopoulos have closed down the media outlets of their Eleftheros& Typos Group, without any warning. The Group owned Eleftheros Typos and Sunday Typos newspapers and radio station City 99,5 and their  closure will cost  450 jobs of journalists and media workers. The Greek media tycoons said the decision was a consequence of the crisis. Greek journalists have criticised the recent dramatic deterioration of working conditions in most media organisations. Some journalists have not been paid (at the Express) or have been dismissed (at broadcasters  Skai, Alter and Star TV, radio station Xenio and newspapers Chora, Derby and and Apogeymatin).


US: Individuated News to Challenge Media Decline

“There are two kinds of content now : you choose it or it's chosen for you”, declares Peter Vandevanter, the Vice-President of targeted products for Denver-based Media News Group, which owns 54 daily newspapers in 11 US states. Thanks to recent internet technologies, readers can choose their own criteria for selection of news stories, to be delivered to computer screen, palm device or even home printer, together with discount coupons for local shops. This issue was debated at the “Individuated News Conference” hosted by the Washington Times on 25-26 June 2009.


Germany: Online Journalists Feel Like “Second-Rate” Reporters

A survey of the Bavarian Journalists Association (BJV), which is part of the Deutscher Journalisten Verband, confirmed the impression among online journalists that their economic and social conditions are much worse than those of staff journalists working for daily print newspapers. Though the survey is not representative, it gives an insight into the actual situation: Online journalist basic salary is between 1.000 and 3.800 Euro gross per month without holiday and Christmas bonuses. The weekly working time is around 40 and 55 hours. And most of them have very often temporary individual contracts.


Global: Teenagers Still Interested in Traditional Media

A recent report by The Nielsen Co, entitled "How Teens Use Media," shows that teenagers are still engaged in traditional media such as newspapers and television. Most of them simply “make time” for both traditional media and new forms of communication such as Twitter, Youtube or Facebook.  The survey shows that television is still the leading type of media with a thrilling average daily watching time of  3 hours and 20 minutes in the US. The survey was conducted in 50 countries.



24 June


Germany:  Handelsblatt Group to cut 20per cent of Jobs

The publishing group Handelsblatt (VHB)  is going to dismiss a fifth of around 1000 employed staff according to German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt and other insider sources. It is not clear yet whether the job losses will hit most the newsrooms or the publishing sector. Das Handelsblatt and the weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche and several specialised titles belong to VHB.


Netherlands: Plans to Create Internet Tax to Fund Media and to Deregulate Ownership

The Dutch Temporary Commission on the Future of the Press has recommended the creation of an Internet tax to support newspapers and traditionnal media. However, the Dutch Media Minister Ronald Plasterk did not react positively. Other proposals by the Commission include the withdrawal of the Media Concentration Act in order to develop “partnerships” between the press and broadcasters for online services. The latter proposal is also highly controversial since it would threaten media pluralism.


UK: Newspaper Licensing Agency to Regulate Use of Hypelinks for Commercial Activities
The Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) has announced that by 1 September 2009 it would regulate "web aggregator services that forward links to newspaper websites and for press cuttings agencies undertaking this type of activity". The NLA controls reproduction of newspaper clippings by news monitoring services and public relations agencies. From January 2010, the licence charges will also apply to PR practitioners and "other organisations forwarding links to newspaper websites as part of their commercial activity". 


Global: How Should Journalists Use Facebook? (part 2)

Following the Wall Street Journal (see Monitoring Change of 27 May 2009) the Associated Press is adopting a strong policy on social networks for its employees “'to make sure material posted (...) doesn't violate AP standards”. According to the Newspaper Guild, representing about 1,000 AP journalists, the AP's policy is “perhaps the most restrictive” the union has seen on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The  guidelines are designed to “Monitor the profile page to make sure material posted by others doesn't violate AP standards: any such material should be deleted”.  This means that AP staff could be held responsible for comments or pictures posted by their friends.


Global: Publishers’ Associations Are Merging

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the President of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN),  Gavin O'Reilly, confirmed that WAN is to merge with IFRA, the other main publishers’ association. 



18 June


France : Study Shows Repetitive Nature of Online News Services

French online magazine reported in a recent survey that most online news services work in a “closed cercle”. Taking as an example the crash of the AF447 airplane between Rio de Janeiro and Paris on 1st June, the survey which studied 80 websites showed that a huge majority of them simply repeated three major sources (AFP, AP, Reuters) revealing the tendency of “reactivity rather than for creativity”.  It also confirmed results of previous researches which showed the disproportionate concentration of most articles on very few news subjects.,07902.html (in French)


US: Internet Increasingly Popular Source of Information

A Zogby Interactive survey showed that the internet is by far the most popular source of information and the preferred choice for news ahead of television, newspapers and radio in the United States. More than half of the people said they would select the internet if they had to choose only one source of news, followed by 21 percent for television and 10 percent for both newspapers and radio. When asked about the future, 82 percent of respondants said the internet would be the main source of information “in five years time”, compared to 13 for television and 0.5 percent chose newspapers.


16 June


US: New York Times Blogging Initiative Assigns Tasks to Readers

In these times of crisis, the New York Times newspaper (NYT) has officially begun to outsource part of its local news coverage to readers through a “Virtual Assignment Desk”. Earlier in the year, the NYT supported the launch of a local blogging initiative called “The Local”. One of these blogs covering a Brooklyn area is now assigning tasks to readers such as “Theme: The Gloom of Day. Send us a convincing photo of fog, haze, drizzle, mist or other bleakish meteorological conditions”.  Interested content providers are also asked to take part in a community board meeting on specific projects.


US: Study Finds how Newspapers Disappearance Impacts Civic Life

On 10 June, the American Journalism Review published an article on "Cities Without Newspapers", written by Rachel Smolkin and based on findings of Princeton University economists Sam Schulhofer-Wohl and Miguel Garrido. The Princeton researchers examined how public life would be affected in a city without a newspaper using Cincinnati as a case study since the city's newspaper The Cincinnati Post closed in December 2007. The most striking finding is that newspapers matter to public life in terms of the number of people voting in elections or the number of candidates running for positions in the city councils. At the same time as local papers disappear, online nonprofit organisations are developing to play the watchdog role. “For newspapers' survival to matter, though, the core of the new models must remain the same as the old: the dedication to illuminating stories and rich storytelling, the commitment to serving democracy”, Smolkin writes.


Norway: Norske Skog to Cut 600 Jobs

Norwegian print company Norske Skog will cut 600 jobs (9 % of its workforce) because of falling demand for newsprint and magazine paper. The company said on 12 June that the main reductions would take place at its Dutch production plant, Norske Skog Parenco, as well as at its Norske Skog Follum mill in Norway. Norske Skog owns 16 mills in 12 countries and employs around 7,600 staff.


EU: Only Slow Growth of Online Advertising in 2008

A survey published on 10 June by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe (IAB Europe) showed that in 2008 the European online advertising market was worth € 12.9bn with a growth of 20% compared to 2007 (only 10.6% in the US). However 2008 was “one of the worst years for advertising in any medium” in the 19 countries covered by the survey. 


9 June


US: New Website to Promote "Entrepreneurial Journalists"

Veteran US Journalist Lewis Dvorkin launched True/Slant to promote the concept of the "entrepreneurial journalist" and which encourages individual journalists to think of themselves as “brands”. This initiative follows the success of the Huffington Post, which aggregates news from other outlets. With True/Slant, writers combine their original reporting with commentary and links to headlines from around the Web. The 100 or so signed up members are contractually obligated to engage with readers by flagging a certain number of comments per month as noteworthy by highlighting them in their posts on the site. Some writers receive monthly stipends while others get incentive-based pay. Is this the latest way for journalists to make a living as newspapers are dying?


Spain: Increasing Media Concentration Following New Law on Cross-ownership

As the Spanish media industry is struck by the crisis, the Spanish government passed a law in February that repealed the 5% limit on cross-ownership and the media landscape is now changing dramatically. The most spectacular change occurred last Friday when the Prisa group, owner of leading daily El Pais, announced its intention to merge its television operations with rival Imagina - Prisa runs the television channel Cuatro while Imagina holds La Sexta. Prisa and Imagina's parent company Mediapro also announced that they had reached a deal on sharing broadcasting rights of the Spanish football market for the next three years. Prisa also owns business paper Cinco Dias, sports daily AS, as well as several radio stations in Spain and in Latin America.



5 June

US: E-Reader Consortium Proposed by Digital Publishing Alliance

The Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA), which includes 32 members including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and the Newspaper Association of America, proposed to create an “e-reader consortium” for newspaper publishers and other content providers. The aim is to agree on standards around content presentation and advertising.


Germany: Pionner Public Broadcasters Will Reduce Web Services

ARD and ZDF, Germany's two public broadcasters, announced that they will drastically reduce the programming they put online. German public broadcasters were long considered as pionners for online activites and this shift in strategy comes in response to attacks from commercial channels and newspapers considering public broadcasters as “unfair” competitiors. In the case of ZDF, online content will be reduced by 70 percent, for example by cutting the period of availability for streaming and the amount of text-only services.


2 June


Global: Newspapers Sales Grew in 2008

Global newspaper sales still slightly increased last year, contradicting the general predictions of a sharp decline. Growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America offset the drop of circulation in Europe and the US. This tendency was revealed last week at the Conference of the Word Association of Newspaper in Barcelona. Newspaper sales grew by 1.3 percent worldwide last year from 2007 to 539 million daily. However, global advertising revenues fell by about 5.0 percent.


Ireland: Irish Public Broadcaster RTE Threatened by Bankruptcy

RTE announced that it is losing EUR 1m a week and would not be able to pay staff salaries by October unless a plan for 12.5 percent pay cuts and redundancies is implemented in the coming weeks. According to the Director-General, Cathal Goan, up to 300 jobs are under threat as the company is facing the 'worst case scenario' of a budget loss of up to EUR 100m - far more than the current estimate of EUR 68m. Unions will ballot this week on whether or not to accept proposed pay cuts.