The future of Blendle

The journalistic platform Blendle was launched in 2014 by Alexander Klöpping and Marten Blankesteijn. They came up with the idea of an online Kiosk, in which you pay per article. An innovative journalistic start-up that was a result of frustration of the traditional consumption of news.

Four years later I want to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Blendle in the current media market.

First of all, a strong characteristic of Blendle is that they put their consumers first. A good example is their renewal of services. At the start of this year they introduced Premium-service, which made the daily newsletter and choice of articles even more personal. Also, readers have input through feedback about articles and services.

A weakness can be seen in their financial model in relation to their partners. In the past year, the NRC and Follow the Money dropped their cooperation because their participation on Blendle wasn’t profitable for them. And this is also where a threat for a journalistic platform such as Blendle arises. If quality papers are resigning and their will be less content available, can you keep your audience satisfied?

The biggest opportunity and (also challenge) for Blendle is to keep readers interested in their platform and work together with them. I think they can do that by interacting even more with their public and talk with media-experts about innovation, but also stick to idea of providing readers with good journalism.

And this is also where Deuze and Witschge come in:

Under conditions of a changing media culture that is more interactive and co-creative (Jenkins, 2006), media professionals as well as their audiences are increasingly (expected to be) working together, to converse and co-create.

What will happen in the future? I’m sure Blendle will keep on surprising us.

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus

Word count: 297

References

  • Deuze, M., Witschge, T. “Beyond journalism: Theorizing the transformation of journalism.” Journalism (2017).
  • https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/04/28/blendle-is-er-vijf-vragen-over-de-concurrent-partner-van-kranten-en-tijdschriften-a1425423

 

Is all news journalism?

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus

As starting journalists, we must be aware that everything we are going to write or produce will be a contribution to society. Since, all that’s published will be on the web forever and can be traced back to you.

McQuail writes the following about the link between journalism and society:

In everyday terms, journalism refers to the activities and outcomes of those professionally engaged in collecting, analysing and publishing ‘news’. In turn, news can be defined as factual accounts and explanations of current or recent events of wider relevance to a given public, usually characterised by their geographical location (city, region, nation, etc.). But not all journalism is news.

I want to make a critical note here. Not all journalism is news? What does this refer to? Is a story about an art event news or not? Is it relevant to a wide public? I’m not sure.

And, what if we turn the question around: is all news journalism? News sites like NU.nl or the news section of AD try to keep you up-to-date with current events. Those events might interest a wide range of people in the Netherlands. But, can those messages be considered journalism? Sometimes those posts are reproductions of a press release and therefore I wonder, how is that a professionally engaged way of collecting and analyzing news? Following that reasoning, it might not be journalism according to McQuail but I have doubts. It can still be news, right? I think we must not limit ourselves by formulating definitions of journalism or news, since I feel like those definitions are constructed in society and are fluid over time.

References

  • McQuail, Denis. “What is Journalism? How is it Linked to Society?” Journalism and Society. London: Sage, 2005. 1-26.
  • https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/11/20/pan-is-soms-net-een-miljonairsbeurs-14124316-a1581865

Web analytics, what’s the harm?

Cherubini and Nielsen (2016) explain that Web analytics can be used to analyse consumer behavior since it gives news media opportunities to get an idea of consumer engagement. Engagement can refer to page views, likes, shares and time spent on a specific article. Certain information gathered through Web analytics can have an influence on the news-room. If one can measure what works, why not use in your own advantage?

It’s debatable according to Edson and Thomas (2015). They pose their concerns about the use of Web analytics. If analytics are used will this bring the public together or will this segregate them more?

However, Web analytics are an interesting topic for (technological) entrepreneurs. They’re aware of the growing influence analytics can have on news rooms. Since data itself is useless, it’s about the interpretation.

Fahran Mustafa is the CEO of Grafiti which can be “the Instagram of Web analytics”. In this article he explains his app Grafiti, which enables users to implement data into storytelling. Also, the app makes it easier for consumers to look into data themselves on their smartphones. News media such as The Economist and Thomson Reuters are already enthusiastic. Why? Because data is the future.

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus

References

Cherubini, Federica, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. Editorial Analytics: How News Media Are Developing and Using Audience Data and Metrics. Oxford, UK: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2016.

Tandoc, Edson C., and Ryan J. Thomas. “The Ethics of Web Analytics.” Digital Journalism 3.2 (2015): 243–258. Taylor and Francis+NEJM

Another shot at diversity in fashion magazines

Last week I was reading this interview with Cecile Narinx, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar in which she spoke about diversity. Narinx referred to her eye-opening appearance in Pauw earlier that year (a Dutch talkshow) in which she was confronted by lifestyle journalist Janice Deul and model Jessica Gyasi with the lack of persistence in trying to be a more diverse magazine.

After all, she used a black model on a cover years ago but that issue didn’t sell that good which could have had several causes. But the argument that a darker model sells less is one that’s been used in the media system of “fashion magazines”. This argument is hardly funded, since there’s no proof that this particular model was the reason it didn’t sell that good. Narinx agrees with that reasoning, that it shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

This September, Narinx decided to change that and addressed diversity by making an entire issue about it. Besides that, with fellow editors in chief of Elle and Vogue (together three well-read fashion magazines) they made a statement that there must be more attention for diversity in the field of fashion magazines.

I think this is a current development that is interesting since in the early eighties an effort toward more diversity was also made, but never really succeeded. Will this be different this time? Diversity is a topic that is very present in many media-related discussions, for example about Dutch editorial teams who are mostly white and whether the people you see on television are diverse enough. So, I feel like there’s a good chance of succeeding.

Deuze and Prenger (2016) state that “A significant focus in the field of journalism studies is directed toward innovation and entrepreneurialism” and in that context. I feel like Narinx really tries to be innovative by taking the lead in the discourse and putting a plus-size model on the next issue. Also, I think she has an entrepreneurial attitude in which she encourages others to do the same and help her with the change.

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus

Literature:

Deuze, Mark & Prenger, Mirjam, “The structural history and theory of innovation and entrepreneurialism in journalism”, forthcoming in Boczkowski, Pablo & Anderson, Chris, Remaking the News, Cambridge: MIT Press. 2016.

More media companies, yes!

This week the VOJN-Awards were handed out, and some journalists were rewarded for their renewing and prestigious work. Among them, Chris Bajema won the price for “Beste Podcast” with his series “Man met de microfoon.” With this, this news-article and my gut feeling that podcast are becoming more popular, there’s an opportunity for a new media company. As Hess describes media companies (in: Mierzejewska and Shaver, 2014) as “organizers of public, media-based communication”. I plea for a company that combines all podcasts into one organized and easy to use App and site, which can be the breakthrough for podcasts.

I believe that most podcasts provide, media-based communication but there isn’t a platform where you can easily find all these podcasts together. There is this one, but it isn’t what I have in mind. The overview is not very clear, the design looks outdated and it’s not that popular. I’m suggesting a platform such as Spotify, where you can listen to all kinds of music and based on what you listen to, the program provides preferences for you.

Looking at this and the literature of this week, the artistic values of podcast must remain the same quality, a technological genius must help and design the App and a economic or marketing brainiac must inform people. This will make podcasts more popular, which can be a good thing because they can be very informative.

References

Bozena Mierzejewska & Dan Shaver. “Key Changes Impacting Media Management Research.” International Journal of Media Management 16 (2014).

Lampel, J., Lant, T. & Shamsie, J. (2011), ‘Balancing act: learning from organizing practices in cultural industries’, Organization Science (vol. 11.3): 263-269.

 

What about our collective attitude?

I would like to discuss the statement of Pierre Levy in Jenkins (2004), “No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity”, which he calls the “collective intelligence,” which is shaped by humans on the internet. An interesting quote, which besides being a perfect Loesje-tile and a brief description of Wikipedia (if I’m not mistaken) is also contradictory.

Nowadays, all news is on the internet. Whether it’s a pregnancy of one of the Kardashians or a serious global disaster, it’s on every (news) site. But, with that comes the conflict. Anybody can tell a story, take a picture or broadcast a video into the world. But with that, you contribute to the collective intelligence.

On the one hand, this is a good thing since we construct this knowledge together and become more intelligent. But on the other hand, it seems quite dangerous because there’s no control on what kind of “knowledge” people bring into the discourse. With this I am referring to fake news or hoaxes, that are being interpreted as real news. Which especially happens on social media.

For example, in the last two major disasters. The shooting in Las Vegas resulted in fake messages about the identity of the shooter, which was fixed later on but the damage was already done and a man received several death threats. Also, within the messages about Sint-Maarten and Irma, there were fake photos of destroyed property and the NOS wrote a lot about depredations which turned out to be a bit exaggerated (and therefore a bit fake).

There are a lot more examples of fake news, but what is more important – and takes me back to Levy – is that these messages, once spread out on the web remain somewhere in our collective memory and sometimes also in our intelligence. Since it is difficult within al the news stories to remember, what was true and what false.

In conclusion, I think people should be more critical. I don’t believe in more gatekeeping systems because than can easily shift to censorship and that’s just wrong. But a change in attitude for people (which is basically everyone) who decide to spread a message, think twice about your impact. Because actions have consequences.

REFERENCES

  • Jenkins, Henry. “The cultural logic of media
    convergence.” International Journal of Cultural
    Studies 7.1 (2004).

 

A news story for months

After watching the Netflix documentary American Crime Story: The People vs O. J. Simpson, I realized that the “trial of the century” makes a good example of news value theory. Not only according to some of the news factors of Galtung and Ruge (1965), but it scores (almost) a 10/10 in the category “entertainment” of Harcup and O’neill (2001).

First, what happened? American football-player O. J. Simpson was accused of the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman. There was a lot of evidence – his blood was all over the crime scene (to say the least) ­– but after a trial of 133 days, he was acquitted.

The story meets some of the 12 factors of Galtung and Ruge (1965). Besides being one of America’s most famous football players, O. J. Simpson acted in commercials and TV-series (elite person). Also, it was a gruesome murder with a lot of blood (threshold) and after the incident for months the news was all over O. J., his family and the prosecutors and the course of the trial (continuity). And additionally, what struck most people by surprise was that such a charming man could have committed such a horrible crime (unexpected).

Furthermore, this “fall of an American hero” is very entertainment worthy according to Harcup and O’neill (2001). How so? Pictures were very important in the news coverage. For example, his skin color on a mug shot was made darker on Time magazine, which became news itself. Also, when he was on a wild chase in his car with a gun to his head, it was live broadcasted on TV-channels (for example half-on-half with a football game). But most importantly, the trial led to a lot of discussion about the inequality between white and black people in American society. So altogether, all the news surrounding the case became more dramatic, it was a human-interest and everyone wanted to be on top of it. And that’s news.   

– Galtung, Johan and Mari Holmboe Ruge. “The Structure of Foreign News” Journal of Peace Research 2.1 (1965): 64-91.

– Harcup, Tony and Deirdre O’Neill. “What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited.” Journalism Studies 2:2 (2001): 261-280.

Algorithmes are the spill of every political campaign, so what’s the harm?

According to Casper Thomas – journalist of De Groene Amsterdammer – elections will no longer be a battle between ideologies or beliefs of different candidates, but a war for who is the best digital hacker. Who can find out as much as there is about someones personal preferecences and use it in their advance? Thomas is concerned that – if you take it to far – can be a threat to our democracy?

But how does that work? He uses the new season of House of Cards to give an example: a candidate who runs for president hires a digital company to help him gain more votes. And anyone who reads this must automatically link this to the past US elections. Trump hired a digital company and has connections to the Russians (to which extent is still a mystery). But on the other hand, it’s nothing new that big data are used in a campaign because according to O’Neil (Thomas, 2017) Obama and Clinton did it as well. So what’s the harm?

In my opinion, using algorithms or big data in elections can be a legit form to attract more people and motivate them. It only comes with one big restriction: transparency. Caplan and Boyd (2016) are concerned that algorithms are used to affect outcomes and bias a certain political party. But, if two parties are using the same kind of algorithms or their is a fourth estate who strictly checks them, that might be a more fair process. Algorithms should be embraced with a critical attitude and used by more than one actor. In that case the result can be more people who are voting, a raise in awareness and involvement which altogether makes demographic.

References:

Caplan, Robin, and Boyd, Danah. Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms? Data & Society (2016).

Thomas, Casper. De Gehackte Kiezer. De Groene Amsterdammer (2017).