Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for mobile access to the Wall Street Journal kick into full gear next month, with $104 fees for non-print or online subscribers for the Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader—and a pay wall for m.wsj.com as well. Current subscribers to print or online will be charged $1 a week more for the privilege of accessing full content on iPhones or BlackBerrys; no extra charge for those who already subscribe to both. Some details:
The apps will still be free to download, and following a cue from WSJ.com, will continue to include some free content. The subscription service starts Oct. 24, but Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) will try to convert some users into paid subscribers by offering 90 days of full access to anyone using the service prior to that date. To sweeten the pot, WSJ is adding some features: personalization, stock tracking, advanced saving/sharing and “enhanced” market data.
Print subscribers are out of luck when it comes to full access to the mobile browser version of WSJ.com; it will be full accessible only to those with WSJ.com subscriptions.
The "Today Show" welcomed their newest correspondent Jenna Bush Hager with a lengthy video montage. Her twin sister Barbara, as well as her mother, Laura, and her grandmother, Barbara, were all featured praising and relating various embarrassing stories about her, including her brief singing career.
Jenna acted appropriately sheepish while the other hosts ribbed her after the video. She said she was "thrilled" to join the "Today Show" and that "one of the great parts is now I'm not ever again, promise, part of the story, in that I get to tell terrific stories about people doing wonderful things."
The foundation of the business models we built this summer was data culled from an online survey we conducted of web entrepreneurs. We asked online startups from across the country to give us a confidential glimpse at the nuts and bolts of their businesses.
We sent invitations to hundreds of online news organizations, from hyperlocal blogs serving small communities to outfits that cover major American cities. In all, we received responses from 111 websites (81 for-profit, 30 not-for-profit). The entire interim report presented at the Aspen Institute last month is available here.
As expected, many of the for-profit ventures are bootstrapping their businesses with 20 employing 2 or fewer full-time editorial staffers (out of 27 businesses that answered the question). Meanwhile, 14 do not have any full-time workers on the business side. (Part-time staff levels at most sites are similarly low.) A majority of the sites, 58%, reported bringing in less than $500 per month in advertising–that won’t pay for a newsroom expansion anytime soon. However, we found plenty of room for optimism, too. A dozen respondents, or 14%, make more than $5,000 per month in advertising revenues alone.
Most of the folks running these sites are journalists with little business experience, so it is not surprising that many of the responses to the question ‘what are your biggest challenges’ revolved around getting help selling advertising and developing the business. Here is a sample of the comments:
Getting local businesses to understand the value of advertising on the internet. This problem is HUGE. Even with our large amount of traffic, it’s hard to get local businesses to take us seriously because we don’t have a print product.
Sales, sales, sales. And pricing. I think I have a service I can sell here. But I need to sell it and then handle the invoicing and record-keeping. Since this is something I’m doing on the side, I let the sales efforts lag while I spend most of my effort creating the content.
As the owner/editor/publisher, I have trouble balancing the news and administrative aspects of the job. I’m really a journalist at heart, so given a choice, I’d rather write a news story than work on a spreadsheet or a web page coding problem. I am actively seeking a publisher to join me, perhaps as a partner, to help guide the business side.
The survey results suggest that the not-for-profit model has been more successful at building a larger staff, at least at the beginning. Roughly half of the not-for-profits, 12 of 30, reported having more than three full-time editorial staffers. Employment on the business side also trends higher.
Sustainability, of course, is our paramount concern. But we seem to be on a road to a healthy and robust diversification of our resources. Our biggest concerns revolve around defending potential legal attacks and improving technology without investing in innovation.
Finding a steady source of income in order to continue to employ an editor and to offer him a decent salary and benefits.
Here are the results from the 30 not-for-profit news organizations that participated in our survey. Click here to download.
Say what you will about Google destroying newspapers and infringing on literary copyrights, they have just come up with a genius idea. Actually it’s two ideas. Wired reports that Google has taken it upon themselves to scan more than 2 million books that have fallen out of copyright and now are considered public domain, and have made them publicly searchable online. Not only that, they are making it possible for interested readers to print them. From the article:
And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world.
Or at least by those booksellers that have ordered its $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, which cranks out a 300 page gray-scale book with a color cover in about 4 minutes, at a cost to the bookstore of about $3 for materials
Wired points out that the interest in these old books is surprisingly high and as such there is serious money to be made from this venture in niche markets. But more than that. One imagines that in many ways this is the future of publishing, both of books and newspapers. The publishing world is currently staggering under the high overhead cost of printing (and returning unpurchased books). What if instead of printing a specific amount of copies beforehand, books were printed on demand? You go to a Barnes and Noble, find the book you want and voila! Four minutes later it’s ready for you. This would also allow for the sale of back catalogs and out-of-print texts that publishers can’t afford to publish in large quantities.
And what about newspapers? It’s not hard to imagine that at some point a smaller home sized version of Google’s “expresso book machine” may be made available. What if, instead of subscribing to the print version of a paper, you were able to pay a smaller sum to print the parts you wanted for yourself? It would save enormously on the sort of costs all types of publishing are trying to cut down on. Maybe Google had to kill print before it could save it.
Time magazine took a break from putting Pres. Barack Obama on their cover to give a cover story to his buddy, Fox News host Glenn Beck. The article, headlined, “Mad Man,” asks, “Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?”
As he does each week, Time Editor Rick Stengel made the announcement on Morning Joe, and the MSNBC hosts each weighed in on Beck.
After first joking he didn’t want to talk about the cabler rival, Scarborough summed up his thoughts. “Glenn Beck’s really taken off and despite the fact, maybe because of the fact, he said some very intemperate things,” he said. “When you try to nail him down he’ll go ‘oh I’m just a rodeo clown.’ Well this ‘rodeo clown’ is making a lot of people very angry.”
And Beck fans are sure to love this description from Mika Brzezinski. “I will say that my reaction is one of real concern,” she said. “I think it’s because I feel like the conservative voice isn’t being well-represented. That he’s tapping into something that may not be so constructive in terms of raising the bar of the conversations and representing the conservative voice in an elegant way.”
Pat Buchanan weighed in as well. “He mirrors the anger, the frustration, and the rage and the sense of fear and apprehension in Middle America that they’re losing the country they grew up in,” said Buchanan. “He mirrors it, and to a degree he leads it and I think the word ’stokes’ is fair as well.”
It’s not surprising to see the media star of the moment on the cover of a newsweekly. But with no comment from Beck or anyone at Fox News in the article, the unauthorized profile is sure to draw the ire of many at News Corp. And it will probably bring Beck to address the story directly on his radio and TV shows.
Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD. He is a gifted storyteller with a knack for stitching seemingly unrelated data points into possible conspiracies — if he believed in conspiracies, which he doesn’t, necessarily; he’s just asking questions. He’s just sayin’.
Interestingly, it looks like the cover is a shot from the controversial Jill Greenberg photo shoot for GQmagazine in June.
Twitter is raising money at a $1 billion valuation. The micro-blogging service is hoping to raise approximately $50 million at the $1 billion valuation. While the company still doesn't have a true business plan, let alone generates revenue, it very well could raise an additional $50 million, as it raised $35 million earlier this year.
Google is reportedly in talks to purchase streaming video service Brightcove. While rumors have not been substantiated, reports claim that Google will purchase the company for between $500-$700 million. While the company has reportedly earned over $80 million this year, CEO Jeremy Allaire was recently on a publicity tour, during which he claimed that Brightcove didn't want to be acquired by a bigger company.
Hyperlocal newswire Fwix says it raised $2.75 million in a first round from BlueRun Ventures. We reported on Fwix’s official launch last month, but at the time, the company didn’t disclose the amount of its funding. In conjunction with the announcement, the San Francisco-based startup is opening its API platform widely to bloggers and other site publishers. Initially, Fwix launched sites covering nearly 80 cites. By opening its API, the company hopes to quickly expand its reach, though it didn’t offer any numeric goals in the interim.