Having a debate about the merits and/or disadvantages of newspaper paywalls is nothing new — one seems to break out whenever two or more journalists are in a room together — but not all of them involve a former Dow Jones chief executive, a former Wall Street Journal executive, a current Wall Street Journal managing editor, the president of BuzzFeed and the media reporters for Bloomberg and All Things Digital. Since I got involved in one that did on Sunday afternoon, I thought I would Storify it so others could eavesdrop in a digital sense.
The conversation didn’t actually solve the question of the merits of paywalls, because it’s not the kind of question that has a specific answer — it’s more about the tradeoffs involved, and the effects that subscription plans can have on a content business. But there were some interesting viewpoints expressed and some interesting facts debated, such as the news that charging readers hasn’t improved the advertising picture at the New York Times (something many paywall advocates argued that it would do). The Storify is here, and I also posted an edited version at GigaOM.
I realize that RSS feeds are kind of passé (sorry, Dave) and so some readers may have missed some of my recent posts over at GigaOM — so I have collected some of them here in case you want to catch up:
“Ruining the social web: How can we avoid the Bieber effect?” — Does every social network eventually become so large and noisy that it turns into a broadcast-style platform instead of something truly social? And is the desire for monetization and revenue part of what drives social platforms to look out for their own interests instead of users?
“What Wikipedia can tell us about the future of news” — Researcher Brian Keegan specializes in analysing the way that information flows through Wikipedia during a breaking news event, and recently compared the way that seven mass shootings — including the incident at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut — were reported on the crowdsourced encyclopedia. He found some interesting patterns that media entities of all kinds might want to pay attention to.
“Why an Apple-Foursquare partnership would make sense” — According to one report, Apple is considering a partnership with Foursquare that would involve using the location-based service’s data inside Apple’s maps. That would be a smart move for Apple at a time when its maps have come under heavy fire for a lack of features.
“It’s not Twitter — this is just the way the news works now” — The way that inaccurate news reports about a mass shooting in Connecticut filtered out through social media has brought up many of the same criticisms as Hurricane Sandy — that social media isn’t an appropriate forum for journalism. But this is simply the way news works now.
Our year started, as it has for the past several years, with a nice fresh snowfall at The Farm — the rural retreat and four-season playground disguised as the home of our friends Marc and Kris, where we snowshoed and hiked and snapped photos of tree branches so weighed down with snow they could barely hold themselves off the ground. Then it was off for some more winter-wonderland style shots at Dave and Jenn’s place in the countryside near Kingston, where the ravine behind their house looked like the set of the first Narnia movie. All it needed was Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. And we did the usual Winterlude thing in Ottawa, which meant some great canal-skating and beaver tails and maple taffy.
I spent some time in New York in the spring as well, at a social-media conference at Columbia University, which was a first. I got to wander around the wonderful campus, and I also got the cab driver to stop on my way to the airport so I could snap a shot of the classic Dakota hotel near Central Park, where John Lennon lived (and died). I also spent a few days in San Francisco, which was lovely and sunny — and I got some shots of the Bay bridge and the arrow sculpture on the Embarcadero near the ferry terminal. In March, we headed off to Florida with Dave and Jenn and a couple of their kids and sister-in-law Barb — and Caitlin even came with us to keep Zoe company (Meaghan had to stay at university and study). We spent time beach-walking and heron-spotting, and we even got out to a baseball game in Port St. Lucie. Back over on the Gulf side, we did a canopy walk and saw an alligator or two (we obeyed the sign and did not molest them). We also went bowling for Zoe’s 14th birthday, and Becky and I caught an amazing sunset while visiting her aunt and uncle on Siesta Key.
Later that month I was back in New York for a conference, and got to wander along the wonderful High Line park, as well as checking out the World Trade Center memorial for the first time. By coincidence, Caitlin happened to be in New York with some girlfriends from university at the same time, so we had a nice dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant just off Times Square and then we took a ride up to the top of the Empire State building and she stayed over in my room at the Waldorf Astoria. I also got to do one of my favorite things, which is to run through Central Park in the spring.