Media entrepreneur Rafat Ali is not optimistic about the future of media entrepreneurship. “Cracks are beginning to show in medialand, and it will likely get ugly,” he writes in a new blog post. “The big-funded sub-standard media startups & brand, almost all driven by garbage-in-garbage-out model of money spend leading to traffic growth, sketchy at best as a brand builder, will start falling by the wayside or find soft landings as homes,” he divines.
The Guardian is making a big splash with the relaunch of its U.S. Web site, this week. “The new look and approach to content relied on user feedback during the eight-month development period, including more than 25,000 comments from readers,” The New York Observer reports. “One of the major innovations to the site was the idea of using a ‘flexible container format’ that looks like a miniature homepage in a vertical, banner-like form. The new system gives editors more control over curating sections and ability to respond to breaking news and updated stories.”
Did you hear the one about the FBI creating a phony news story on a fake Seattle Times Web page in order to plant software in the computer of someone suspected of making bomb threats. Yes, that actually happened back in 2007, The Seattle Times reports, citing documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., called the incident “outrageous.”
Google is working on an advertising-free, paid subscription model for YouTube, reports the Wall Street Journal.Speaking at a conference late Monday, Google vet Susan Wojcicki said the subscription version was being developed to give users more choice.
The Financial Times just launched a newsletter, FirstFT, featuring stories that will be aggregated from around the Web. “The email will be produced by a new editorial team led by new head of aggregation Andrew Jack and will be modified to suit readers in different regions and time zones,” The Drum reports. In a statement, Jack explained: “In an age of information overload where readers are shying away from the perpetual social media stream, trusted editorial judgement and aggregation is an increasingly valuable convenience for busy readers.”
Ad spending expanded 3% during the third quarter of 2014 among the advertising agencies pooling their data in Standard Media Index, reports B&C magazine."Digital" ad spending expanded 20%, including big jumps on YouTube (+59%), Facebook (+47%) and Twitter (+44%). TV ad volume fell 1% in the quarter, including an 8% decline in spot TV billings, and a 4% decline among broadcast networks. Cable networks appear to have expanded their share of national TV, rising 2% in the quarter.
Not unlike CNN’s CNNgo service, CBS News is reportedly preparing to launch a 24-hour digital news channel dubbed CBSN. “The network is in the final stages of developing the project but an exact launch date for the network has not yet been set,” Capital reports. “The channel, which will stream live to TV sets, P.C.’s and mobile devices, mimics the look of cable news channels, but in a less formal newsroom setting.”
Still in search of a revenue model, Tinder plans to launch a premium match-making service next month. “The new premium service will likely let users break away from location limits and expand their Tinder reach,” Forbes reports, citing comments this week by Tinder CEO Sean Rad. “One of the new features will focus on travel and could help Tinder move into markets beyond dating.”
Despite the rumors, AOL says it has no interest in a Yahoo merger. There are “no explicit talks about a deal with Yahoo,” AOL head Tim Armstrong said at a conference on Monday. “Instead, Armstrong said the company is focusing on partnerships and growing the company ad revenue in 2015,” Business Insider reports.
In the future, tech start-ups with questionable privacy policies might be wary of partnering with serious news organizations. Take the case of Whisper, which just found itself in hot water after the Guardian exposed its practice of tracking the location of users, including those that specifically asked not to be followed. As it turns out, the Guardian got its information in partnership talks with the supposedly-anonymous messaging service. “The Guardian says its story resulted from a three-day visit to Whisper headquarters to discuss an ‘expanded journalistic relationship,’” Re/Code reports.