PressReader: All Your Favorite Newspapers in One Application

PressReader PressReader brings over two thousand three hundred daily newspapers into one application. It has a direct relationship with all the newspapers that are available through its application. At first it was hard to get the newspapers to agree to the model. However once they saw how well it worked they were more than happy to participate. Most of the newspapers appear in the app before they are delivered. Unlike many newspaper’s websites, the PressReader shows the actual newspaper including the ads. PressReader is a default application on many devices. Some of the newspapers included in the PressReader application are the New York Times, LeMonde and many more. PressReader is available on every mobile operating system including iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry. It does work on older devices however there are more features available the newer the device is. PressReader is optimized for the device it is on.

PressReader will translate newspapers into your language. You can have the newspaper read to you. PressReader will go into text only mode. You can search for keywords through all the newspapers and you can also create your own personal clipping service. You can purchase a single newspaper for ninety-nine cents each. A full subscription to PressReader is twenty-nine ninety-five a month.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net. and by Jamie Davies of the MedicCast and the Health Tech Weekly

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“News of the World” Phone Hacking Scandal

News International today announced that this Sunday’s edition of the News of the World newspaper would be the last edition and that the newspaper was closing down. Ostensibly the reason is that a phone hacking scandal had a irretrievably stained the name of the newspaper but the suspicion is that there’s far more to the closure.

For non-UK residents, it’s an astonishing story that involves several alleged crimes and some disgraceful behaviour. First of all, News of the World (NOTW) is one of the biggest selling Sunday newspapers with around 40% of the market and 2.8 million readers. It’s been going for 168 years and while considered a tabloid paper, it has been instrumental in revealing other scandals involving politicians and other well-known figures.

The scandal itself is that around six years ago, a private investigator used by the newspaper is alleged to have hacked into the voice mailboxes of over 4,000 people, including royal aides, sports stars, celebrities and politicians. Even worse, it is further alleged that the mailboxes of soldiers killed in Iraq and murder victims were hacked into. In particular, the alleged deletion of messages on Milly Dowler’s phone is suggested to have given hope to her parents that she was still alive when she had been killed.

Rumours of the hacking arose when the newspaper published stories that could only have been discovered from personal messages. The private investigator and the journalist involved were sent to prison back in 2007 and at the time, a police investigation suggested that the two individuals involved acted alone. In 2009, the Guardian newspaper claimed that thousands of mailboxes had been hacked and that the practice was well known and routine. The Metropolitan Police refused to re-open the investigation. It has also now been alleged that NOTW made payments to the police in return for information. The hacking of the mobile phone’s voice mail was not sophisticated. The private investigator simply relied on the fact that most people did not bother changing the default PIN on their voice mailbox.

Over the past week, as the revelations of the alleged hacking continued, public opinion turned against NOTW. Major advertisers in the paper withdrew their contracts, unwilling to be associated with the unfolding scandal. It was perhaps inevitable that the NOTW would have to close but it seems harsh to punish the current staff for the activities of their predecessors.

The intrigue continues as the parent company, News International, is keen to buy out the remaining shares in BSkyB. However, this had raised concerns that one single company would own too much of the UK media – News International owns the The Times too. The suggestion has been made that by closing one newspaper, NOTW, this will reassure the regulatory authorities but there are also now questions about whether News International is fit and proper to take over BSkyB. It is rumoured that News International will launch a Sunday edition of a sister newspaper The Sun. The domains “TheSunOnSunday.co.uk” and “TheSunOnSunday.com” were registered two days ago, though it’s not clear by who registered them

It’s an amazing scandal and totally despicable – some of the stuff you couldn’t make up. If there’s one thing to be learnt from the scandal, it’s make sure you change the default PIN on your mobile phone’s voice mailbox.

 

Digital Newspapers

PDA-247 logoFollowing on from some of early articles this week on news and newspapers, Shaun at PDA-247 has written a blog post Digital Newspapers: Stuck at Page One? which covers his experience of The Times Online on the iPad.

In the post, he thinks that he’s getting value for money for his £2 a week as the content and presentation are good.  Although some people are still reluctant to pay for news content, he’s done the maths and even with the (assumed) 90% reduction in subscribers, the website will still pull in £1 million every year.  Not huge money, but it’s early days.

Shaun says that people are used to getting something physical for their money.  People like the physicality of books and DVDs though I think it’s as much about having the item to show off your good taste rather than the item itself.   Anyway, the physical nature of books and DVDs hardly counts when it comes to newspapers as most people throw them away once the paper is read.

He closes by suggesting that newspaper reading is dwindling because of competing pressure on our free time.  This is the era of satellite TV, the internet, the social network and the poor old newspaper has fallen by the wayside.

All good points and worth giving the orginal article a quick read.

Do Paywalls Ever Make Sense?

PaywallThere was a recent article at Arstechnica.Com describing how The Times in the U.K. ended up cutting its web traffic in half by simply requiring registration so that viewers could read their articles. Prior to this, the articles on the site were freely available. The registration requirement is in anticipation of their future paywall plans.

I have to admit that I’m one of the people who left their site more than once when I clicked on a link and was presented with the registration requirement. I’ve done the same thing on other newspaper sites as well. Will people pay for online news?

At its essence, news is often glorified gossip.

There are plenty of successful paywall sites. Here are three sites that incorporate paywalls that I personally find worthwhile enough subscribe to: Netflix.Com,  Rushlimbaugh.Com and FHU.Com.

Netflix began life as a DVD rental service and most recently added a very popular streaming service as value-added subscriber benefit behind a paywall. The Netflix streaming service helped convince me to sign up and become a customer, as well as the availability of Blu-Ray discs. If Netflix had DVD’s only, I wouldn’t be a subscriber. Streaming and Blu-Ray make me willing to open my wallet.

Rushlimbaugh.Com puts the site’s massive and growing archive behind a paywall that includes access to the Rush Limbaugh podcast version of his radio show where they perform the courtesy of cutting out all of the network ads. Being able to receive the ad-free podcast of the daily Rush Limbaugh radio program is why I subscribe. I rarely sign into the site and go behind the paywall. I want the ad-free daily podcast, so I pay, even though I could get the program for free by listening on the radio.

FHU.Com also puts a massive and growing archive of radio programs, books and video behind a paywall. I want access to this material, and since it’s a charitable organization, I am willing to donate to gain access behind the paywall and support them.

I don’t envision myself ever paying for access to a newspaper website. I have never subscribed to a printed newspaper. I used to subscribe to a number of printed computer, stereo and photography magazines, but somehow that lost its appeal a number of years ago and I let the subscriptions run out.

For a paywall site to be successful, it must have something behind that wall that people want access to. They must offer something of value that revolves around the essence of what they do best.

Popular Misconceptions: The Internet Killed Newspapers.

It is almost regarded as a truism, that the rise of Internet based classifieds like Craigslist and Ebay are the reason that print news is in such dire straights.  In reality it was TV that killed the newspapers, classifieds just kept them on life support for a while.  When faced with a disruptive technology, print news had a number of options on how to respond.  Their choice meant that their revenue base was no longer connected to their core business.  This contributed to the degradation of their news business and made it difficult to respond to later disruptive events.

Like most things, newspapers started out small with a very specific agendas based around trade information, news or propaganda.  Eventually one class of newspapers evolved to be the primary method people used to get their news about what was happening locally and worldwide.  Given the expense of getting information from one place to another was high and the speed was slow, local towns would consolidate the information into a paper that everyone could reference.

Newspapers became the primary information source of an expanding western world and naturally gained a significant cultural and political influence.  The first shock they faced came in the form of radio.  The ability to have your news condensed and read to you was a powerful competitor to newspapers.  The paper had an advantage though.  Radio could offer breadth or depth but not both, it was serial and proscriptive.  Newspapers could go wide and deep and allowed readers to select which they wanted for different topics and control over the order and timing.  The newspapers response to radio was to broaden their content and to perform more in-depth investigation.

When television hit, it was initially responded to in the same way, as despite the addition of pictures its dynamic to newspapers was essentially the same.  Over time though TV learned how to use its medium to become a greater force in investigative journalism as video of what was happening proved to be extrememly compelling.  Newspapers began to lose circulation.

The other change happening at the same time was in advertising.  While newspapers used advertising as a suplemental income, commercial TV was almost completely financed by advertising.  This created a dynamic that eventually corrupted televisions ability to provide reporting that was not either biased or sensationalised.  If newspapers had realised the advantage they still held in reporting they may have eventually weathered the storm of TV, however they took a different route.

Advertising had become increasingly important to newpapers and classifieds were the form of advertising where television and radio could not compete.  This became the battleground where newspapers decided to fight.  This had powerful reprecussions for how they structured themselves and the decisions they took.  These decisions meant that advertising became their core business instead of news dissemination.  I’ll illustrate using car ads as an example.

Regardless of how many papers they have, most cities have one newspaper that is known to be the place to sell or buy a car.  Buyers don’t want to buy multiple papers to find their car and sellers don’t want to buy multiple ads.  Whichever paper gets the reputation as the car paper gets an effective monopoly.  If you want that to be your paper you have some actions you can take.

  • Put in more articles about cars to attract interested readers.
  • Maybe some editorial by known automotive identities.
  • Offer incentives like cheap rates and bylines to attract car manufacturers and retailers to advertise with you.  This definitely means not too much bad press for these advertisers.
  • Keep your cover price low to gain readers, even lower than your production costs as you will get it back in advertising.
  • Make your story choices based on what will increase circulation rather than what is relevant news.  Sensational headlines are gold.
  • Buy out smaller papers to increase your readership.

None of these decisions have anything to do with quality or independance of news reporting.  This newspaper has essentially become an advertising company rather than a news one.  Unfortunately for them they may not actually realise this.  Then a shock comes from a different direction.  While the Internet can speed the dissemination of news it has no intrinsic features that allow it to give better quality news.  What it does have though is a better and cheaper way to do classifieds.  This decimates what has become the newspapers primary source of revenue.

To combat this they papers cut costs.  They are now so dependent on advertising revenue they cannot seem to let this go.  A lot of newspapers are also no longer run by news people.  They respond to the Internet threat by cutting costs in news production.  They print more syndicated stories, pay less and give tighter deadlines for investigative journalism, give more column inches to pundits and opinion columnists.  This is a bad strategic move.

As stated before the Internet has no inherent advantage in investigative journalism.  It does have an advantage in disseminating information though, things like reprinting syndicated reports, punditry and opinion columns.  And there are no shortage of people willing to offer their opinion or analysis for little financial reward. <Why are you looking at me?>  In short, papers decided to combat the Internet by focusing themselves on areas where there competition were strongest.  Their response to the earlier threat from television made it hard for them to take another path.

So in the end the Internet did not kill the newspapers.  It snatched away the crutch they were using to prop themselves up after they botched their response to TV.