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曉蕾 | 30th Jan 2010 | 新思維

[這個時刻,如果我們還說我們是記者,其他人不是;我們做新聞,他們不,而不從別人身上學習,那麼不論我們用甚麼的收費模式,我們只會沉睡,然後死去。

文:Guardian 編輯 Alan Rusbridger

譯:Ho Shuet Ying

英國知識份子報Guardian 編輯 Alan Rusbridger 公開演講,講述報業面對網上媒體競爭該如何自處,報業真的是夕陽工業嗎? 非常有啟發性,原文逾九千字。肥妹交完功課太得閒,選了些重點譯成中文,我完全沒有翻譯經驗和知識,希望各位包容。

有時間請讀原文: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/cudlipp-lecture-alan-rusbridger

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新聞行業本身前景令人興奮。只是如果要考慮商業運作模式才嚇死人。其中一種說法是所有網上媒體內容都要收費。

第一,這意味著媒體不再開放予全世界。在商言商這方向或者正確,但若由編採角度出發,這無疑是削弱了新聞內容的影響力和普及度。除非將自己從網絡世界孤立,否則是不可能控制新聞內容的散佈,製造需求短缺。

第二,收費引起了「權威」和「參與」的矛盾,簡單而言就是分開彼此。記者自認,有時也被視為是「權威人士」。我們有辦法獲得資訊,你沒有;你相信我們選擇、過濾新聞的能力,也相信我們能持平、準確、迅速、簡單地傳播開去。但現在有些讀者希望有能力作這些判斷,生產屬於你們自己的內容,表達他們關注事情的優先次要,闡述他們的見解,除了閱讀來自傳統權威的資料外,更希望得知朋友的想法,這些新發展都跟上述的傳媒=權威的看法有衝突。新聞工作者可能依然是資料來源的其中一種權威,但讀者可能對被動地接收新聞的方法不再興趣,因為他們不能回應、挑戰和把這些新聞跟其他資訊結合。這跟上述的收費問題關係密切: 我們新聞行業能吸引人付錢上網看,或買報紙來看嗎? 行內人還沒有既定答案,更不用說公眾了。

或者,這問題也沒有劃一的答案。英國時報和紐約時報網上版收費,可能是正確的,但不代表所有報紙這樣做都可行;可能有一天所有網上媒體要收費也是可行的,但時辰未到。目前人們大概有個共識,一些專門、針對高消費群和難以仿傚的內容,應該是可以收費的。但其實還不能寫包單一定可行。

廣告大亨Sorell相信,網上廣告市場增長非常快(故不一定要靠收費)。衛報的同事竭力爭取更多人閱讀我們的報紙內容和廣告,但暫時我們估計,統一收費帶來的有限收入 還未足以抵消網上版讀者的增長的好處。去年網上廣告為我們賺了2500萬英鎊,雖不足以支持印刷報紙成本,但不是小數目。我們相信收費會帶來的收入,遠不足2500萬鎊。

編採而言,不同新聞適合的present手法不同,有些最適合網上及印刷互補。我的同事emily bell最後說we are of the web, 不只是把新聞上載咁簡單。有些記者視不斷更新網誌為好方法,而且更能連結網上其他資料。Times的記者Ruth Gledhill會在報紙上簡單介紹新聞的爭議性,她在blog上會詳述事件有多重要,並附上原版文件的link,讀者便能在她網誌上討論內部。兩位BBC記者視BLOG為他們工作的重心,十點鐘新聞只是點綴 (icing)。新聞而言,這些方式既豐富又有挑戰性。記者從未試過能如此有效地講故事。如果我們要增加讀者群和他們對我們的信任,那只會是迎接科技帶來的新機會,而不是築起圍牆。

Don Tapscott 在growing up digital一書探討了過去二十年科技培育出的一代是怎樣的: 他們獨立,知性和感性上都相對開放,強烈擁抱表達自由,意見鮮明,勇於創新,習慣即時, 快速,對集團利益既敏感/懷疑,非常關注資訊的可信度,重視自己掌握資訊來源,重視個人化而非大鑊飯,不為科技目眩而更關心其實其功用。

目前在銷量而言,Guardian是全英第九或第十大報,但網上版則是全球瀏覽量第二高的英語報紙,如果紐時真的打算收費,Guardian可能會進佔榜首。十二月的數據顯示,全球3700萬人閱讀Guardian,三分一來來英國,三分一北美,三分一世界其他地方。50年前當Guardian還是一份位於Manchester的地方報,海外銷量只有650份;現時它是全球八大最廣為閱讀的報紙之一: 當中包括兩份中文報,一份日文報,一份韓國。網上讀者的增長,實是報業希望。去年十至十二月Guardian網上版讀者比去年同期增加四成。Guardian在美國的讀者已超越了Los Angeles Times,但過去十年我們只花了34000美金在美國推廣,讀者自動會找上門。讀者增加不是因為我們把精神花在八卦新聞上。去年同期讀者增加最多的版面為環保(137%), 科技(125%)、藝術(84%),科學(81%)、政治(39%)和comment is free (38%)。我們天天把傳統報業是夕陽工業掛在口邊,但上面數字顯示情況明顯不是這樣,在這個資訊年代,Guardian要增長只有加快步伐擁抱科技。

新興的Bookarmy網站致力讓書迷聚集,交換讀書心得之餘,更能和作者對話;這跟同樣由梅鐸擁有的Times Book reviews完全不同: 後者主要是由專家評論,讀者意見不重要。大量一向為主流媒體供稿的藝評家,自立the Artdesk網站,正正是希望藝術新聞不一定跟報紙綑綁在一起,他們多想所有網上媒體都收費,到時他們就發達

User generated content重要,但不代表資深記者武功已被廢掉。很多記者難以接受人人都能做記者,social media是有趣還有趣,但我們的賣點是權威和可靠,他們跟我們無關。但看看blog的世界,總會有人在一些範疇是專家。記者的真知灼見還是那麼無可取代嗎? Guardian最有趣的嘗試,都是把讀者跟我們的知識和看法結合起來。一百五十萬人經常瀏覽Guardian technology team的twitter,記者們亦用Twitter做研究,並視之為個人化的wire service,用來爆獨家,發放資訊,建立網上讀者群體並把他們帶到Guardian讀者群中。環保是如此複雜告重大的議體,我們根本無法完全觸及,於是Guardian的環保網,跟一些其他環保網和blogger合作,互相連結。他們有發放資料的平台,得到更大的讀者群,我們則得到了單靠我們根本做不到的內容。過去一年增長達137%。由此可見,這是一個互惠互利的關係。

這個時刻,如果我們還說我們是記者,其他人不是;我們做新聞,他們不,而不從別人身上學習,那麼不論我們用甚麼的收費模式,我們只會沉睡,然後死去。

The Hugh Cudlipp lecture: Does journalism exist?

The full text of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's Hugh Cudlipp lecture

Thank you for inviting me to give this lecture in honour of the memory of Hugh Cudlipp.

Ask any British journalist who were their editor-heroes over the last 30 or 40 years and two names keep recurring. One is Harry Evans. The other is Hugh Cudlipp.

Why were they so admired? Because they seemed to represent the best of journalistic virtues – courage, campaigning, toughness, compassion, humour, irreverence; a serious engagement with serious things; a sense of fairness; an eye for injustice; a passion for explaining; knowing how to achieve impact; a connection with readers. Even if you missed their editorships – as I did with Hugh Cudlipp – both men wrote inspiring books about journalism: about how to do it, but, more importantly, about why it mattered.

It is wonderful that Jodi Cudlipp is here tonight, though I hope she will not misunderstand me when I say a tiny part of me is quite glad Lord Cudlipp is not here in person. I believe he liked and admired the Guardian. But something tells me he did not enjoy being lectured by the Guardian.

He once wrote:

"The robust tabloids flashed the Green Light, were promptly denounced by other newspapers for their gaucherie or vulgarity or lèse majesté, and then were echoed by the very newspapers who had so severely upbraided them for their frankness."

He quoted Kingsley Martin, former editor of the New Statesman:

"The Mirror says openly only what the readers of the News Chronicle and the Guardian say behind their hands."

So I don't think Cudlipp would necessarily have enjoyed sitting through a lecture by the editor of the Guardian.

The one thing Cudlipp and Evans hardly ever wrote about was business models. For one thing, they didn't have to. They lived at an age where, if you got the editorial product right, money was usually not the burning issue. There was cover price and there was advertising and – though, of course, there were many newspaper failures along the road – there was no great mystery about where revenues came from. Secondly, they didn't see that as their job. Their job was to edit great papers: other people worked out how to pay for it.

Yet the most common question most editors are now asked is: "What's the business model?"

Of course, you know why people ask. Journalism may be facing a kind of existential threat. Whether you are a 22-year-old thinking about a career in journalism, or a 45-year-old wondering if your chosen calling will see you through to retirement, it's the question that nags away all the time. Insecurity is the condition of our journalistic age.

So it's a vital question. At the same time it's a kind of deadening question for journalists to be asking of other journalists. One – honest – answer is that no one can currently be sure about the business model for what we do. We are living at a time when – as the American academic Clay Shirky puts it – "the old models are breaking faster than the new models can be put into place".

And it's a bit deadening because journalists are, as a rule, better at thinking about journalism – including the most fundamental question of all, hinted at in my title tonight – of whether there is such a thing as journalism.

If you think about journalism, not business models, you can become rather excited about the future. If you only think about business models you can scare yourself into total paralysis.

Having said all that, I am going to begin tonight by talking about one business model – in part because it is even now coming down the slipway; in part because it so radically affects some of the most stimulating ideas of what journalism is becoming, or could become.

The business model is that one that says we must charge for all content online. It's the argument that says the age of free is over: we must now extract direct monetary return from the content we create in all digital forms.

Why I find it such an interesting proposition – one we have to ask, and which, typically, that great newspaper radical Rupert Murdoch, is forcing us to ask – is that it leads onto two further questions.

- The first is about 'open versus closed'. This is partly, but only partly, the same issue. If you universally make people pay for your content it follows that you are no longer open to the rest of the world, except at a cost. That might be the right direction in business terms, while simultaneously reducing access and influence in editorial terms. It removes you from the way people the world over now connect with each other. You cannot control distribution or create scarcity without becoming isolated from this new networked world.

- The second issue it raises is the one of 'authority' versus 'involvement'. Or, more crudely, 'Us versus Them'. Again, this is similar to the other two forks in the road, but not quite the same. Here the tension is between a world in which journalists considered themselves – and were perhaps considered by others – special figures of authority. We had the information and the access; you didn't. You trusted us filter news and information and to prioritise it – and to pass it on accurately, fairly, readably and quickly. That state of affairs is now in tension with a world in which many (but not all) readers want to have the ability to make their own judgments; express their own priorities; create their own content; articulate their own views; learn from peers as much as from traditional sources of authority. Journalists may remain one source of authority, but people may also be less interested to receive journalism in an inert context – ie which can't be responded to, challenged, or knitted in with other sources. It intersects with the pay question in an obvious way: does our journalism carry sufficient authority for people to pay – both online (where it competes in an open market of information) and print?

So I want to talk about those three forks today. They are not, I think, simply esoteric points about the choices facing one industry – newspapers. If, like Hugh Cudlipp, you believe that journalism actually matters, has some kind of moral purpose and effect, then these are decisions of great significance to society as a whole.

Which – before we think about business models – is probably a good moment to introduce the man who prompted the title of tonight's talk. Last autumn I was at a government seminar on the future of local newspapers when one of the participants suddenly interjected: "I don't believe in journalism."

This was a very direct challenge to my general worldview, not to mention my job, so I sought out the person who had made it – a very interesting man called William Perrin – a former Cabinet Office civil servant who threw it all in to run a hyperlocal website reporting on the area of London where the Guardian now lives – King's Cross.

Perrin absolutely believes in the moral power and importance of what many of us might think of as journalism. But he isn't a journalist, he doesn't call it journalism and he is completely uninterested in the monetary value of what he does. He finds other ways to pay his mortgage. This is William Perrin:

Link to this video

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William Perrin: "I set up a very simple website in 2006 … to my surprise this thing took off and has been very successful. In three or four years we have written 800 articles on King's Cross and area a mile long by half a mile wide …The website we have used to drive campaigns on the ground. We've run big campaigns against Network Rail, where we secured a million pounds for community improvements. We used the website again to take on Cemex, a multibillion-pound company … we took them on and we won. We have about four people who write for the site, on average, there's up to six, but normally there's about four of us writing. We all do it as a volunteer effort. It costs us about £11 a month in cash, which is about three of four pints of beer ... we have a very strong community of people around here who send us stuff. None of the people who work with me are journalists. I'm not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination; it's an entirely volunteer effort … Some people what I do in my community some people label journalism, it's a label I actually resist."

Depending on your point of view, you may find that vision of new ways of connecting and informing communities inspiring or terrifying. I think it is both – but it is a useful starting point to thinking about the value of journalism, in every sense of the word 'value'. And it is good to be forced to think at an even more basic level – about what journalism is and who can do it.

So, let's begin by thinking about this question of what the direct value of content is. It seems to be a subject on which no one can agree. Rupert Murdoch, who has in his time flirted with free models and who has ruthlessly cut the price of his papers to below cost in order to win audiences or drive out competition ("reach before revenue" as it wasn't called back when he slashed the price of the Times to as low as 10p) … this same Rupert Murdoch is being very vocal in asserting that the reader must pay a proper sum for content – whether in print or digitally. The New York Times announced last week that it would be reinstating a form of pay wall around its content. Casual readers will get the NYT for free. Repeat, or loyal, readers will be expected to pay.

At the other end of the spectrum we have millions of William Perrins, beavering away for free, not to mention a Russian oligarch and former KGB man, Alexander Lebedev, who is experimenting with giving away everything for free – in print and digital. He is junking the one tried and tested revenue model of people handing over money for the printed paper. So there is no agreement among publishers, never mind the public, as to whether journalism has a direct value in any form.

Many people would like Murdoch and the New York Times to succeed – who could be against anything which could be relied on to support this thing which looks like journalism well into the future?

Now, I happen to believe that Rupert Murdoch is a brave, radical proprietor who has been a good owner of the Times and that he has often proved to be right when he has challenged conventional thinking. But many people who similarly admire him have nagging doubts about whether he's right this time. The publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr, admitted last week that his own pay wall proposals are, to some extent, "a bet". Full marks for honesty. What they're doing is a hunch.

To put it another way, it may be right for the Times of London and New York, but not for everyone. It may be right at some point for everybody in the future, but not yet. There is probably general agreement that we may all want to charge for specialist, highly-targeted, hard-to-replicate content. It's the "universal" bit that is uncertain.

Murdoch, being smart, knows better than most that a printed newspaper – a tightly-edited basket of subjects and articles – becomes a very different thing in digital form. He will know the argument that says that in future you may be able to charge for mobile, but not for desktops. That specialist information may have value, general information little or none. The arguments hardly need rehearsing tonight. We all know the Walmart-Baghdad subsidy theory – that it is retail display advertising that pays for the New York Times Iraq operation, not the readers.

On mobile, we're all at the start of an experiment that is fascinating but unknown. We had no clue what, if anything, to charge for the Guardian's iPhone app when we launched it at the end of 2009. We settled for £2.39 and sold 70,000 in the first month. It's one clue to the future, not an epiphany.

This year will see a fascinating struggle for dominance between the Kindle, the Sony reader, Plastic Logic's Que, the Skiff Reader and LG's 19-inch bendy e-journal. They may all have (if they don't already) significant revenue opportunities. Things are moving so fast that these remarks may be out of date by Wednesday, when Apple is expected to launch something between an iPhone and a Kindle.

That's mobile, where different rules may well apply. Universal charging brings different challenges. For universal charging to work, the argument goes, every news organisation would have to put all content behind a pay wall. One of the favourite Murdoch arguments against the BBC is that – so long as it exists and is "free" then that makes it harder for commercial news organisations to charge, James Murdoch describes what the BBC does as "dumping free, state-sponsored news on the market". The Murdochs would like the BBC to be drastically curtailed in order for their business model to have a better chance of success.

Now, Australians sometimes find it easier to speak bluntly to fellow Aussies than we Brits do. So I read with interest a recent speech by the head of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – called "Media after Empire" – by their director general, Mark Scott.

The "empire" in his title was not the British Empire, but old media empires. He used his speech to rebut the notion that public broadcasting in Australia should have its wings clipped to prop old media models up. Yes, it's the same issue down under.

This is the speech you won't hear from Mark Thompson – or indeed anyone in British political or regulatory life:

"This old proprietorial model, long run by media barons, operated as a form of protection from harsh realities the business might otherwise have faced. They were still vastly profitable ... The barons worked a variation of the J Paul Getty formula for success: "Rise early, work hard, strike oil". TV, radio, newspapers were their oil … Media policy amounted to not much more than a tawdry chaos of compromises designed to appease these moguls."
"Today they seem largely out of solutions – and instead challenge reality by seeking to deny a revolution that's already taken place by attempting to use a power that no longer exists, [and] by trying to impose on the world a law that is impossible to enforce."

To Scott's way of thinking, newspaper companies are facing dreadful problems because – in his haunting phrase – "technology companies [have] continually outclassed the content companies".

"It would be wonderful to be able to present you with some blinding vibrant future for the old media organisations … For newspapers, the last great hope now seems to be something called Waiting for Rupert."

Scott's argument is it would be utterly wrong to hobble the one model that does successfully produce distinguished and serious news journalism – publicly-funded broadcasters – in order to sustain a failed business model.

A little digression about the BBC. I know it is regarded as an act of faith by some that all print journalists should be baying for BBC blood, wanting it neutered or drastically reduced. I find it difficult to join that particular chorus for three reasons.

Firstly, look across the water to America, where newspapers are in as much trouble as they are here. They have no public service broadcaster to speak of to contend with, and yet they are still in desperate trouble. So you could do an awful lot of damage to the BBC and still find you had not solved the problem of newspapers because it is actually a worldwide challenge, not a specifically British one.

Secondly, as a citizen rather than competitor, I'm afraid to admit that I really like, admire and respect the BBC – including, even, its website. Now, of course, there is plenty to criticise – the BBC can be arrogant, hard to work with, complacent, needlessly expansionist and insensitive to the plight of their colleagues in the commercial sector. We need to agree, or understand, the limits of its expansion. But the BBC is almost certainly the best news organisation in the world – the most serious, comprehensive, ethical, accurate, international, wide-ranging, fair and impartial. So I hesitate to join the sometimes deafening chorus of BBC denigration, even though I suspect the Guardian would undoubtedly thrive even better in the digital world were the BBC's website, in particular, to be curtailed.

Thirdly, there is another really excellent broadcaster with an irritatingly good news website – Sky News. I have seen nothing to suggest that there is any intention to put this website behind a pay wall. So, any British newspaper intending to charge for general content would have to contend – not only with the BBC – but with the free availability of a first rate Murdoch-owned general news service on the web. All the arguments about competition from a 'free' BBC online apply to a 'free' Sky News website.

So charging might be right for some bits of the Murdoch stable of media properties, but is it right for all bits of his empire, or for everyone else? Isn't there, in any case, more to be learned at this stage of the revolution, by different people trying different models – maybe different models within their own businesses – than all stampeding to one model?

One difference between the Murdochs and most other people is that they already have a digital business in this country – a highly successful and profitable one in Sky.

The Guardian is our digital business.

And it is a business, not a charity. The paper has always employed very talented and driven commercial people. The move from Manchester to London was a tough business decision as much as an editorial one – and how right that was. Our first decade of digital growth wasn't subsidised by the Scott Trust – it was relatively modest and covered by the profits of the paper.

And, before anyone makes the obvious point that we are trust-owned and loss-making, let me make the equally obvious point that all the Scott Trust does is to enable the Guardian to compete on the same more or less level playing field as a host of other loss-making papers, whether their own cross-subsidies come from large international media businesses, Russian oligarch billions or unrelated companies within the same ownership or group.

As 2009 ground on there was no shortage of digital sceptics who were ready to call time on the business of digital publishing – mainly on the grounds that search engine optimisation (SEO) was bringing in readers who didn't stay and who were hard to monetise.

There was something in their critiques. The indiscriminate chasing of numbers will do no good long term for any serious news organisation. And it is perfectly true that 2009 was a disappointing year for those who hoped for an unbroken pattern of growth in digital advertising.

But to dismiss the potential growth of digital right now – on the basis of the worst economic crisis since 1929 – may be a little premature.

Here's Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP, and one of the most influential figures in advertising anywhere in the world. He employs 140,000 people in 106 countries and takes $60bn a year in billings, with revenues of $14bn. He makes weather in advertising, the same way as Murdoch does in print.

Link to this video

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"I would hope that within five years, so let's say 2013, or something like that, we would be at least one third in digital. We know that customers are spending 20% of time online. So if clients are spending 12% and consumers are spending 20% – and I've seen some evidence to suggest they are spending more than 20% – then there's a natural gravitational pull to 20% of the budgets being spent online … my guess is that when we get to a third of our business in 2014 we may very well want to up that percentage to 40% or even 50%."

Sorrell is not saying all this advertising is going to newspapers, and he has some sympathy for the pro-pay wall arguments. But he is signalling a steadfast belief that the digital share of the advertising cake is going to grow very sharply and significantly.

My commercial colleagues at the Guardian – the ones who do think about business models – are very focused on that, want to grow a large audience for our content and for advertisers, and can't presently see the benefits of choking off growth in return for the relatively modest sums we think we would get from universal charging for digital content. Last year we earned £25m from digital advertising – not enough to sustain the legacy print business, but not trivial. My commercial colleagues believe we would earn a fraction of that from any known pay wall model.

They've done lots of modelling around at least six different pay wall proposals and they are currently unpersuaded. They're looked at the argument that free digital content cannibalises print – and they look at the ABC charts showing that our market share of paid-for print sales is growing, not shrinking, despite pushing aggressively ahead on digital. They don't rule anything out. But they don't think it's right for us now.

So, having said I wouldn't talk about business models, I've said far too much. But that's because it's difficult to ignore this particular business model in talking about how the future of journalism is shaping up.

As an editor, I worry about how a universal pay wall would change the way we do our journalism. We have taken 10 or more years to learn how to tell stories in different media – ie not simply text and still pictures. Some stories are told most effectively by a combination of print and web. That's how we now plan our journalism. As my colleague Emily Bell is fond of saying we want it to be linked in with the web – be "of the web", not simply be on the web.

Some stories can be told in one sentence plus a link. Some journalists are fascinated by the potential of the running, linked blog. Andrew Sparrow's minute by minute blog of Alastair Campbell's appearance before the Chilcott inquiry was a dazzling example of this new form of reporting, which relies on the ability to link out to sources and other media, including original documents and even (in the lunch break) Campbell's own Twitter feed.

You can see journalists everywhere beginning to get all this.

Ruth Gledhill at the Times is, for me, an inspired example of how you can layer reporting – with the most specialist material in the blog (linked to yet more specialist source material on the web – and the most general material in newsprint.) The paper will carry a paragraph on a controversial sermon by the Bishop of Chichester. Gledhill will explain its significance on her blog, and link to the full sermon for those who want the source. Readers can then debate the text on the blog and follow other links. It's called through-editing.

Ben Brogan does something similar at the Telegraph, as he did in pioneering form at the Mail previously. Robert Peston and Nick Robinson increasingly regard their blogs as the spine of what they do at the BBC. That's where they put the detail: the Ten O'Clock News is the icing.

This, journalistically, is immensely challenging and rich. Journalists have never before been able to tell stories so effectively, bouncing off each other, linking to each other (as the most generous and open-minded do), linking out, citing sources, allowing response – harnessing the best qualities of text, print, data, sound and visual media. If ever there was a route to building audience, trust and relevance, it is by embracing all the capabilities of this new world, not walling yourself away from them.

Two further points about this fluid, constantly-iterative world of linked reporting and response: first, many readers like this ability to follow conversations, compare multiple sources and links. Secondly, the result is journalistically better – a collaborative-as-well-as-competitive approach which is usually likely to get to the truth of things, faster.

When I think about universal pay walls, I wonder how this emerging world of editing and writing would change. How would you handle a story like the Guardian's exclusive revelation that Google was about to drop censorship in China – a hugely significant story that bounced around the world within seconds of us breaking it online at 11pm on January 12?

Had there been a universal pay wall around the Guardian that would have been a difficult story to handle.

- Wait and publish in print? But we knew that Google was about to post the story on its own blog at 6pm Eastern.

- Publish digitally and hope that people would buy a day pass to read it? But in the time it took to key in your credit card the essence of the story would have been Twittered into global ubiquity. It is one of the clichés of the new world that most scoops have a life expectancy of about three minutes. A valuable three minutes for the FT or the Wall Street Journal if it's market sensitive information. Most people, with most information, and without subscriptions paid for by their companies, are happy to wait.

If you erect a universal pay wall around your content then it follows you are turning away from a world of openly shared content. Again, there may be sound business reasons for doing this, but editorially it is about the most fundamental statement anyone could make about how newspapers see themselves in relation to the newly-shaped world.

The internet has, of course, has had a dramatic impact on the economics of newspapers. But it has changed almost everything else as well. The whole world is in the middle of a revolution. This may sound an old-fashioned thing to say, because it has been true for at least 10 years. Things are still changing overwhelmingly and fast; in part, because the first digital generation is still growing up.

There's been one change so big and obvious in the last decade that we may not have noticed it: the new media have disappeared. They are just media now: the means through which our world must be experienced. No one under 25 can remember a world without them. Everything shows up on screens, from the big ones we sit in front of all day at work to the small ones on the phones with which we spend our leisure hours – when they're not sending us emails.

These screens give us very much more than written words, and they change the ways we understand the world – from text to multimedia; from linear to hypermedia; from passively absorbing material to learning how to navigate actively – and we change them right back.

Don Tapscott, in his book Growing Up Digital, has explored some of the ways in which the technologies of the last 20 years have helped develop a generation of fierce independence; of emotional and intellectual openness; of inclusion; biased towards free expression and strong views; interested in innovation, used to immediacy; sensitive to/ suspicious of corporate interest; preoccupied with issues of authentication and trust – which includes having access to sources; interested in personalisation or customisation rather than one-size fits all; not dazzled by technology, but more concerned with functionality.

In the digital world, the distance between impulse and action is shorter than ever before. The goal of most interface design is to make it vanish altogether. In this open and immediate world millions of people are realising they can be publishers, that they don't need intermediaries. The British Museum or the Tate or the Royal Society or Imperial College don't have to wait any longer for the BBC or Channel 4 to ring and suggest a programme or series; they can make their own. The same is true of any writer, scientist, politician, photographer or activist. To call this the "democratisation of communication", or of information, or of culture seems somehow inadequate.

Governments are freeing up their data, records and information; museums and galleries are throwing open their doors; NGOs and charities are becoming publishers; universities are opening their lecture halls; scientists and corporations are sharing knowledge in ways which would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago. And then there is Google, with its ambition to digitise and organise all human knowledge since time began.

Mention Google, and we think of China: the spread of disorganised information is balanced by organised disinformation and censorship. We can't know yet who will win, but we know what side we must be fighting on.

We know that the fastest – almost vertical – growth in amongst all this is what is rather lumberingly called 'social media'. This involves the power to generate content and connect with others at low, or no cost; in real time. The innovation that made all this possible – crudely, developments associated with Web 2.0 – is now happening alongside the evolution of so-called semantic web, which wants to find better ways of understanding the meaning of content and how to find it, organise it and share it.

Where do news organisations think they fit into all this? Are we in, out – or in only if we can make it pay in the immediate future?

I try to imagine the Guardian deciding it doesn't want openly to be part of this world I've just described and I struggle. And do, please, forgive me for talking about the Guardian a bit, but it is necessarily the thing I am most focused on, and which illustrates the point that one size may not fit all.

The other day I interviewed the playwright Michael Frayn for the Guardian and Observer archive. He described life on the Manchester Guardian he joined in 1957 – just over 50 years ago, but within one working lifetime.

The paper he joined was still a provincial morning paper, hugely influential, but not always readily available on the day outside the north-west and parts of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

This ledger shows the sale of the Manchester Guardian in and around Manchester in January 1956 – the year before Frayn joined the paper.

The Guardian's Manchester sales in 1956 The Guardian's Manchester sales in 1956

It was a paper which counted every sale in Rusholme, Didsbury or Cheetham Hill.

Today, in print, the Guardian is, even now, the ninth or 10th biggest paper in Britain.

On the web it is, by most measurements, the second best-read English-language newspaper in the world. If the New York Times really does start charging for access, the Guardian may become the newspaper with the largest web English-speaking readership in the world.

In December the journalism we're producing at GNM was read by 37 million people around the world – very roughly a third in the UK, a third in North America and a third in the rest of the world.

Go back to the 1956 Manchester Guardian ledger of sales outside Manchester, the paper Frayn joined.

The Guardian's sales outside Manchester in 1956 The Guardian's sales outside Manchester in 1956

The last line shows the worldwide sales of the Guardian – "foreign agents" – to be 650 copies. We had more readers in Colwyn Bay than in the rest of the world.

This clever little widget is effectively our digital circulation map today. It shows you in real time a sample of the people reading the Guardian from just one of its 32 servers.

Link to this video

In Michael Frayn's professional working life the Guardian has grown from sending 650 copies abroad to becoming one of the eight most read newspapers in the world, a ranking that includes two Chinese, one Japanese and one South Korean.

I think back to an essay CP Scott – for 57 years editor of the Guardian – wrote in 1921 – not the famous essay on the separation of comment and fact – but the preface to the American edition of the centenary history of the Manchester Guardian.

"The world is shrinking. Space is every day being bridged. Already we can telegraph through the air or the ether, from Penzance to Melbourne and tomorrow we shall be able to talk by the same mechanism. Physical boundaries are disappearing … What a change for the world! What a chance for the newspaper!"

Scott would, I think, have been intensely intrigued to know that the paper he edited for so long and in whose name a family trust was established to continue the spirit of the Guardian – was so openly available and read around the world. That it was becoming as influential in Beijing and Washington as in Paris or Delhi. That its reporting could change the minds of governments, inspire thinking, defy censorship, give a voice to the powerless and previously voice-less. The same is true of all the British newspapers who have grasped the importance of the web.

It's certainly a powerful thought for journalists on all these papers. Reporters and commentators who were digital sceptics even a couple of years ago now realise they are part of, and linked to, a worldwide conversation. An art critic will be picked up and referenced in Berlin; a defence correspondent in Moscow; an environment writer in Copenhagen. Tell them their work was about to disappear from that conversation without the production of a credit card, and they would not be overjoyed unless they knew it was the only answer in business terms.

In an industry in which we get used to every trend line pointing to the floor, the growth of newspapers' digital audience should be a beacon of hope. During the last three months of 2009 the Guardian was being read by 40% more people than during the same period in 2008. That's right, a mainstream media company – you know, the ones that should admit the game's up because they are so irrelevant and don't know what they are doing in this new media landscape – has grown its audience by 40% in a year. More Americans are now reading the Guardian than read the Los Angeles Times. This readership has found us, rather than the other way round. Our total marketing spend in America in the past 10 years has been $34,000.

Nor is all this being bought by tricks or by setting chain-gangs of reporters early in the morning to re-write stories about Lady GaGa or Katie Price. In that same period last year, our biggest growth areas were environment (up 137%), technology (up 125%) and art and design (up 84%). Science was up 81%; politics 39% and Comment is Free 38%.

This is the opposite of newspaper decline-ism, the doctrine which compels us to keep telling the world the editorial proposition and tradition we represent are in desperate trouble. When I think of the Guardian's journey and its path of growth and reach and influence my instincts at the moment – at this stage of the revolution – are to celebrate this trend and seek to accelerate it rather than cut it off. The more we can spread the Guardian, embed it in the way the world talks to each other, the better.

And that leads to the third fork – the one that pitches authority against involvement, or Us against Them.

Have a look at this website, recently launched, which aims to do for books what Facebook has done for general social engagement.

Bookarmy is a rather clever site – completely free – where, once you've registered, you can share your passion for books with thousands of others. You can join forums around types of books, or individual books. You can have virtual discussions with authors, link your reading group to others, publish your own reviews and so on. Apart from the authors themselves, there are no "authority" figures here.

Compare it with, say the Times books pages. Here the reverse is true: the emphasis is on "expert" reviews by critics, with not much interest in what you might have to say about a particular book. There is a kind of book group, but you would have to say that interactivity is not the feature it most promotes.

Why am I comparing these two sites? Because both are owned by Rupert Murdoch.

BookArmy – though it avoids saying so – is an offshoot of Harper Collins. The two enterprises point in completely different directions. As it was explained to me, the point of BookArmy is to get as many avid book readers engaged as possible and learn as much as possible about their likes and dislikes. At some point in the future (the theory goes) publishers will no longer need to spend a fortune on marketing Max Hastings' next book by lavishing money on Waterstones or in print. They will go to BookArmy and say "We know you have a database of the 80,000 people in the country who read books of military history. We'll give you our targeted marketing spend instead."

BookArmy is a telling illustration of two aspects of the digital world.

- One is the ability of digital disrupters (in this case, even within the same company) to take one bit of a newspaper and do it with a conviction, range, depth and passion that a portmanteau print-based newspaper cannot match, especially in digital form. It is the unbundling of newspapers.

- And the second is the only hope of matching the power of the these digital disrupters is to harness the same energy and technologies which they are using.

So, all credit to the Murdoch empire: they are themselves beavering away to unbundle parts of the print world in digital. How should other papers which care about books react? Sit behind a pay wall while the audience is unbundled for us by the make-it-free bit of the Murdoch empire? Or get out there and have a chance of being part of the way the rest of the world is going?


[1] 閱後感

一個記者,很難改變一間報館;一班記者,走在一起通常都是呻,因為報館內部權力架構往往保守封閉,非常人治.

然而香港記者的報導深度,為什麼要受報館限制?

1.要有版權
記者文字相片等版權,都是屬於記者的, 像台灣,法例寫明版權屬於作者,報館簽約時要求擁有所有日後版權,是非法的.一個採訪醫療二十年的記者,便可以出書寫香港的醫療改革問題,但現在所有版權都屬公司,根本不能寫,除非老細皇恩浩蕩准你.嚴格來說 ,連寫blog或把報導放上blog, 也可以被人告.

2.要有採訪基金
就像藝術發展局的資助申請,雖然ADC也好多問題,但好過無.記者是第四權,政府商界怎會真心給錢你去揭露不公?大學新聞系比較適合成立採訪基金,讓記者可以申請獨立採訪,所有採訪開支+行政費用,實報實銷. 但如今的新聞系,寧願花錢請外地記者演講.

3.需要有獨立採訪的身份

差距太大,或者想爭取更多採訪時間,離開報館是理所當然的,為什麼要把最有心有力的時間,都賣給報館去換廣告?升職不過負責揹鍋,最慘是更難繼續前線採訪.

如今freelancer一詞實在用得太濫, 廣告人也是freelancer, 但實情為什麼要under一間報館才是jouirnalist?
歐美等地,很多資深記者都可以著書把報導出街, 香港少,因為大家都知道出書蝕錢,但就算不計較錢, 現實也不容易開口約訪問, 尤其是官方機構.大家會接受獨立的外國記者訪問,但香港記者沒有報館,接觸到的資訊大受限制.

這一點, 可以很容易:記協增加independent journalist的分類, 也是最難--要有記者做出成績來,才會開創獨立採訪的空間.

寫這些,因為看了這篇文:Does journalism exist?Guardian 編輯 Alan Rusbridger寫,Ho Shuet Ying翻譯.最喜文中這段:

Times的記者Ruth Gledhill會在報紙上簡單介紹新聞的爭議性,她在blog上會詳述事件有多重要,並附上原版文件的link,讀者便能在她網誌上討論內部。兩位BBC記者視BLOG為他們工作的重心,十點鐘新聞只是點綴 (icing)。新聞而言,這些方式既豐富又有挑戰性。記者從未試過能如此有效地講故事。如果我們要增加讀者群和他們對我們的信任,那只會是迎接科技帶來的新機會,而不是築起圍牆。]

但香港記者沒有版權, 寫blog都可以被公司插. 如果blog又是under公司, 那同樣又面對在報館出文的問題.到時一樣有人話網上文章唔可以長..唔可以深..要持平....很可能只要求像坊間好些人物訪問, 記者點都硬插自己聲音進去, 深入不成,又去賣自己, 好討厭.

兩個選擇:工餘才做自己真正想做的採訪,也有行家如此, 尤其是攝影師,他們著數在班作期間拍貓都可以出貓書或者收集藥樽寫書,當然首要是不在東方工作,否則告死你. 但文字記者工餘採訪不容易, 不止是時間, 還有下筆時因為身在報館一種寫法, 寫blog/出書又另一種, 精神分裂.
另一個做法,就是離開, 做出成績,再影響: 原來咁寫, 都有市場喎~或者唓,駛麥搵你所謂戰地記者, 我地自己也可以捧幾個出來, 於是國際版不再只是坐著譯稿.

如屬後者, 首述三項會有幫助.

曉蕾
[引用] | 作者 曉蕾 | 6th Feb 2010 | [舉報垃圾留言]

[2] Erica Rodriguez

Wept full steroids 2 buy grump hopeful. Cram push steroids in baseball Pete good-bye?! Larch afraid steroids negative effects sneeze pride? Chicken scowl buy testosterone heptylate then hotrod.


[引用] | 作者 Clenbuterol dragon pharma | 9th Jan 2017 | [舉報垃圾留言]