Howard Owens is a digital media pioneer. He started publishing local news online in 1995 when very few local news outlets had web sites. The header image on the site depicts the film camera he used early in his career and the press pass from his year on the staff of the Carlsbad Journal. For more on Howard's professional background, read his LinkedIn profile.
HowardOwens.com is the personal web site of Howard Owens and covers his range of interests -- political localism and libertarianism, music and personal interests, as well as his professional interests.
Howard is currently publisher of The Batavian and lives in Batavia, N.Y.
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Tag Archives: news
There was this big deal about how Wikipedia beat Associated Press on Tim Russert’s death.
Come on, I thought Wikipedia was on top of things. Continue reading
Part of my job is to travel around the country and visit our newsrooms, where I make a presentation about our online strategy. The Rockford Register Star is an example of a newsroom that has totally embraced the web. They produced the video below to incorporate into the GateHouse training program.
[youtube GIJUyNHXrwQ nolink] Continue reading
Here’s another shot over the bow of all those web videographer bloggers who make a religion of quality.
It turns out there are two dimensions of what we think of as quality. So quality wins. But we think of quality as production quality, you know, lighting and sound film and script and acting – those kinds of things. But there’s another dimension to quality that is as important, and that’s relevance.
YouTube. Nobody thought YouTube would succeed, because it was such low quality. But because YouTube is so full of contant that is narrowly targeted on people’s specific interest, they don’t care about the production quality. … You can’t win on production value alone. How do you remain relevant in a world that is fragmenting?
Interesting bit of news related to podcasting this morning.
eMarketer announced that the 2007 podcast audience reached 18.5 million active users. It’s good to take any projection with an ounce of skepticism, but the same study estimates the 2112 podcast audience at 25 million.
When you start segmenting that audience, however, it’s hard to see how the average newspaper podcast garners enough regular listeners to drive sufficient revenue.
That’s no reason not to try, however, but more on that below.
One question not answered by eMarketer is how they define podcast. To many people, podcasts are more than audio shows, but include episodic video as well.
Could video be driving podcast growth?
I know I prefer video “podcasts” to audio, but that could be just me.
Video, however, seems to represent great revenue opportunity because of the larger overall audience for online video and the visual nature of video advertising.
Either way, newspapers should tread lightly here. It’s one thing to take the lo-fi approach with illustrative video, or even periodic story video. It’s an entirely different matter with episodic audio or video.
Any time you expect an audience to develop a habit for a regularly scheduled shows, quality is paramount — and it’s not just production quality. The content must be engaging and the talent behind it must be finely honed. The demand for top-notch on-air audio and video talent will only grow as podcasting grows.
That talent isn’t likely to come from traditional broadcast, because of the more informal nature of online media, which is a mystery to highly trained professionals from traditional media.
In other words, these growth numbers, if true and they hold, represent opportunity for newspaper companies and journalists willing to try new things. Continue reading
The following quote should be required reading in every newsroom in the U.S. tomorrow morning.
Shortly after polls closed last night, my wife got a text message from Obama’s campaign. He was the projected winner of the South Carolina primary.
A few minutes later I logged into Gmail, where Obama had already sent me an email about the victory and where I could watch his speech.
About a half an hour later a friend in Washington sent me a text with the percentage breakdowns.
This morning I logged on to Facebook to see a notification from Obama, a simple copy/paste job from the email sent earlier.
Sometime today, I’ll watch his speech and Clinton’s concession speech on YouTube, since I was busy playing Super Mario Galaxy while he actually gave the speech.
Except for a CNN breaking update I got via Twitter last night (after Obama’s text message), I knew who won the primary without ever seeing a newspaper or TV site.
Only today, when I checked CNN’s excellent primary elections section did I go to an MSM site. News that I care about comes to me, despite the source.
I, like many other people, only go looking for news (on my days off) if something has first come to me to pique my interest. Then I find a site with valuable, contextual information laid out in a way that I can explore the data (in this case, exit polls). I can passively receive information I’d like to know.
If you’re not actively seeking out your audience, you’re doing something wrong.
Media organizations should be doing the same thing Obama does. It should be everywhere I am and it should provide valuable, easy-to-use added context and content if and when I decide to hit their sites.
There’s obviously one point to be made here — that news organizations need to make it a practice to push out their content to every available channel.
But the other lesson is: Your audience is also sharing what they know, either informally, or via special-interest sources. The big question is, when your audience wants more and trusted information, are they going to find it on your web site as soon as they want it?
Web-first publishing needs to become a newsroom habit. It’s the thing you do automatically, so that when any size story breaks, and your audience wants more and trusted information — and a place to discuss it — your site is ready for them. Continue reading
We’ve discussed before that journalists need to get an RSS reader and read it.
Over on Back Channel, I offer a list of ten RSS feeds that should be in your feed reader. I didn’t post it here, because the list isn’t intended to be just for journalists, but for anybody who values being a well-rounded person, which we would hope would apply to all journalists. Continue reading
It’s not unusual for me to eat my lunch at my desk and watch some video. It turns out, I’m not alone.
The midday spike in Web traffic is not a new phenomenon, but media companies have started responding in a meaningful way over the last year. They are creating new shows, timing the posts to coincide with hunger pangs. And they are rejiggering the way they sell advertising online, recognizing that noontime programs can command a premium.
Not surprising. Continue reading