Tag: publishing

  • The newsletter's been here all along

    Rusty Foster, editor of Today in Tabs, in an interview with Digiday:

    Was 2014 the year of the newsletter?

    The newsletter has been there all along! I wanted it to be like, “Oh, it’s a revival!” and in a certain small subcommunity, it is. Journalists are starting to use newsletters, and people who haven’t been paying attention to them have been paying attention to them in a way that they weren’t. But the newsletter has always been there. In terms of commerce, newsletters have always been a big thing.

  • Nick Denton's 2015 memo

    Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton has published a mammoth memo for 2015, where he announces changes in leadership and other important stuff for people working on any of the company’s properties, or with an interest in media. But as always when Denton writes, there’s more, and this stood out.

    We all understand how this works. Editorial traffic was lifted but often by viral stories that we would rather mock. We – the freest journalists on the planet – were slaves to the Facebook algorithm. The story of the year – the one story where we were truly at the epicenter – was one that caused dangerous internal dissension. We were nowhere on the Edward Snowden affair. We wrote nothing particularly memorable about NSA surveillance. Gadgets felt unexciting. Celebrity gossip was emptier than usual.

    We pushed for conversations in Kinja, but forgot that every good conversation begins with a story. Getting the stories should have come first, because without them we have nothing to talk about.


  • Vox Media wants to distance itself from the rest of new media

    Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media, publishers of The Verge and Vox.com, among other things, at Code/Media:

    “There are companies that have been built on lists,” Bankoff said of the slate of new publishers that have cropped up in the last few years, without naming a specific site. “When you’re a company that’s all lists, or all slideshows, or all quizzes, then that’s a problem because you’re trying to game something.”

    There’s certainly some truth to that, however it’s also a type of content that a lot of people seem to enjoy. While I want to believe that the listicle’s days are numbered, I seriously doubt it, since it’s basically just a take on an old format anyway. All these things are, so it would be more relevant to say that the titles used on sites today, the You Won’t Believe What Happened Next nonsense, is trying to game something.


  • Verizon’s SugarString

    Verizon’s foray into tech publishing, SugarString, is shuttered. They left this statement to DSL Reports:

    SugarString is a pilot project from Verizon Wireless’ marketing group, designed to address tech trends, especially those of interest to our customers. Unlike the characterization by its new editor, SugarString is open to all topics that fit its mission and elevate the conversation around technology.

    SugarString was obviously doomed from the start. It’s never a good idea to limit what journalists are allowed to cover. A company in Verizon’s position has nothing to gain from a publication like this, unless they’re prepared to lie and cheat, which has a tendency to get out in the open in the end. Just look at the long list of dirt Samsung stunts over the years…

    Hat tip: The Verge.

  • Vox Media vs. Say Media

    Vox Media closes $46.5 million investment round. Jim Bankoff had this to say, courtesy of Recode:

    Bankoff says the money is a sign investors are buying his pitch: He says Vox represents a new breed of content company, which can take advantage of the tech-inflected turmoil established companies are going through. “Things are starting to unbundle,” he says. “Magazines and newspapers are starting to be disrupted. Cable networks are next. I think a lot of investors look around and say ‘This is a new opportunity.’”

    It’s interesting given that Say Media just stepped out of the “content and tech” game. Meanwhile, Vox Media is closing in on turning a profit next year. The difference is clearly the editorial products and if not their quality, so at least their profitability.

  • Google Contributor

    Wired on Google Contributor:

    Launched on Thursday, the service is called Google Contributor, and it asks you to pay $1, $2, or $3 a month to back the websites you particularly like. In exchange for your support, you’ll see “thank you” messages where ads used to be—at least on the websites that participate in the program. At the moment, Google is testing the idea with ten online publishers, including The Onion, ScienceDaily, Urban Dictionary, and Mashable.

    The thank-you notes are served up through Google’s existing advertising channels, and Google still takes a cut of each contribution. According to Google, the $1 to $3 users pay essentially covers the cost of that ad space. But all of this is subject to change, she says, as the platform develops. “At this point, what we’ve rolled out is very much an experiment,” a Google spokesperson tells us. “We’re getting the publishers on board today. We’ll see not just how it works but also the public interest level.”

    There are several alternatives to advertising today, ranging from member sites to Patreon and donation driven publications. Google Contributor is off the mark in its current form, because it’s based on Google’s ad platform. The purpose of Patreon, Flattr, or even just a donate button, is to get out of the advertisement game. Google is targeting, and monetizing, the same publications that are their (trusted, obviously) customers today. This’ll be dead in the water, unless they’ve got something groundbreaking up their sleeve.

  • Say Media pulls out of publishing

    Say Media, who once upon a time bought blog platform maker Six Apart and wanted to be both a tech company and a publisher, is pulling out of the media business.

    Today, Say is reverting back to its technology roots: XoJane and the rest of its owned sites, including tech property ReadWrite, fashion site Fashionista and decorating go-to Remodelista, are up for sale. CEO Matt Sanchez said trying to be both media and technology company ultimately proved too hard. Ultimately, even during a time when every media company wants to dress itself up as a tech outfit too, the differences between the businesses were too great to bridge.

    “When we launched Say, it was really about, how do you provide technology and services for independent media,” he said. “It was this vision of building the modern media company by building, partnering with and buying independent media companies, build the tech beneath it and think holistically about the entire media stack. We just came to the conclusion that it’s very difficult to do both.”

    Say Media will now focus on its Tempest publishing platform, and plan to make it free to use. Money’ll come from ads on sites using it, presumably.

    The aforelinked Digiday story talks a lot about how hard it is to be both a technical company, and a publishing one. I’m having a hard time with this reasoning, because it all boils down to having the right people, as every other company does. This split is no different than having both an editorial and an advertising side of your business, they still have to work together. It all boils down to the right people, and their leadership. Say Media isn’t pulling out of the media business because the development/publishing combination isn’t working, they’re doing so because their online properties are failing.

  • Amazon and Hachette are friends again

    The feud over ebook pricing between publisher Hachette, and Amazon, is over. Recode:

    On the surface, the deal appears to be a win for Hachette, which will set prices for its electronic books sold through Amazon. But Amazon is offering “financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices,” Kindle exec David Naggar said in a statement.

    The whole thing was weird to begin with, and the feud points to two things.

    1. Amazon thinks they can dictate terms, but they might bit have such a firm grasp of the (ebook) market as they, and everyone else, initially thought.
    2. Big publishing still acts like big publishing, which means they’ll go to any length to get their agenda through.

    Consumers and authors are caught in the crossfire.

  • #GamerGate tries to bring Gawker Media out of business

    I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before: GamerGaters going after publications, Gawker Media in particular. From a Vox piece:

    How will Operation Baby Seal manage this trick? It’s not particularly clear (and, I should say here, the operation seems unlikely to succeed for sheer logistical reasons), but it mostly involves having aggrieved gamers send bunches and bunches of complaint emails about Gawker Media sites violating Google and Amazon’s terms of service. (Yes, the #GamerGate folks read the terms of service.) The examples are to be drawn from this wiki, which collects a bunch for easy collation into form letters.

    KotakuInAction began as a way to mock Kotaku, Gawker Media’s video game publication, for its aspirations toward discussion political aspects of video games, so the grudge between #GamerGate and the company runs deep. But Operation Baby Seal is truly a new level of loathing. The movement seems less to want to expose ethical lapses at this point and more to drive sites it doesn’t agree with from the face of the Earth.

    So I guess Vox is up next? These tactics hit on the publications themselves, but as long as they’re complying with their ad terms, they should be just fine. And if they’re not, if Amazon or Google kicks them out because there’s validity to the claims of the GamerGaters, then what’s the problem? This stunt might even bring something good with it, despite the intentions.

  • The things between tweets and essays

    We’re a lot of people who seems to enjoy, or at least miss, blogging. I’ve got my own thoughts on blogging as a term, but that’s a different post. For this one, I just wanted to quote Gina Trapani’s new blogging rules:

    If it’s a paragraph, it’s a post. Medium-sized content gets short shrift these days. Don’t go long. One or two paragraphs count. Then press publish.

    Andy Baio’s on the same track, and I found both of these post via Six Colors, where Steven Snell’s been publishing under the same conditions from the beginning. It’s refreshing to see and read.

    I obviously agree. The whole redesign of TDH.me, and the mixture of short quote and comment posts, and the essays, shows that well enough. Thing is, we’re not in this alone, there are others who’ve been blogging like this for years, of recently returned to it. Someone less pressed for time than me can probably put together a pretty exhaustive list. Maybe this also heralds the return of the Webring, or at least the Blogroll, wouldn’t that be great?

  • Verizon's SugarString gagged

    Verizon’s tech site SugarString is banning net neutrality and surveillance issues, so long as they pertain to the US. The Daily Dot:

    News of Verizon’s publishing venture and its strict rules first came to light to multiple reporters through recruiting emails sent last week by author and reporter Cole Stryker, who is now the editor-in-chief of SugarString. (Stryker has also previously contributed to the Daily Dot.) I was one of the reporters who received that email. The premise and rules behind the site were explained to me in a series of messages throughout the day. I declined the job offer.

    Other reporters, who asked not to be named, have confirmed that they have received the same recruiting pitch with the same rules: No articles about surveillance or net neutrality.

    This is obviously icky as hell, but come on, you had to see this coming, right? The lesson is to not trust so-called news outlets funded by questionable interests. There’s no way SugarString’s reporting can be trusted, because who knows what other Verizon interests, and partners, it might protect?

  • The Magazine shuts down with hardcover anthology

    The Magazine, originally created by Marco Arment but nowadays run by the excellent Glenn Fleishman, is shutting down. It’s no big surprise, iOS magazines are said to be struggling all the time (and I wonder how The Loop Magazine is doing), but a shame nonetheless. The final issue will be out on December 17 this year.

    Glenn explains:

    So we lasted as long as we could while turning a buck so that I could make an increasingly smaller portion of my living from it, while enjoying the heck out of working with so many great writers and publishing stories about so many people and things, historical and present, geeky and sweet, sad and hilarious. It’s been great.

    There’ll be a new hardcover anthology, raising money on Kickstarter, and Glenn says he “may produce some ebooks or special projects” after shutting down the actual magazine.

  • What About Tumblr?

    This is a follow-up to my The Allure Of Medium And Svbtle piece. You should go read that first, if you haven’t already.

    Thinking about all the great things that make Medium and Svbtle so alluring makes it impossible to ignore Tumblr. If we, for just a moment, try to forget the fact that it’s ridden with GIFs, cats, and porn, this should present itself as a formidable alternative. I’ve got a soft spot for Tumblr, but it’s not so much for the social aspects of the platform as it is for the interface.

    Look at that writing experience!
    Look at that writing experience!


  • The Allure Of Medium And Svbtle

    The Allure Of Medium And Svbtle

    I’ve struggled with Medium and Svbtle for some time. Not with the actual services though, their interfaces and stability is excellent and I’ve just got good things to say about the execution. Both services are home to great content, I subscribe to the featured feed on Svbtle and follow several collections on Medium.

    Medium screenshot
    Medium screenshot

    What I’m having trouble wrapping my head around is what these services mean for someone like me. I really don’t need another place to post content, I’ve got this site and a Swedish one too, along with whatever side project that I’m meddling with at the time. Publishing my words were never an issue, and I’d imagine it’s not much of an issue for anyone these days, with tools like WordPress.com and Tumblr at our disposal. Blogging solved the accessible publishing platform issue a long time ago.

    Yet there’s no doubt Medium and Svbtle are alluring. When using these services the content look good, everything is really clean. There are no nasty widgets or crappy free themes to wade through. In terms of freedom to publish, less can sometimes be more. With Medium and Svbtle, you’re just writing and publishing.


  • Shrtnws Redux

    Shrtnws was a small project that I built along with my Odd Alice friends at an event called 24 Hour Business Camp. It was great fun to build, and the end result was pretty cool. Basically, it was short news delivered to you through the site, or on Twitter and/or Facebook. There were several (five or six) topics that you could follow, and you got the very most important news in each of these.

    We ran Shrtnws for a month or so, with paying sponsors I might add, but then decided to call it quits. There just wasn’t time enough, and due to changes with APIs, along with a publishing method that took a little bit too much tinkering when you were mobile, we shelved the project.

    I was never comfortable with dropping the project, but reality is what it is. Much like I had to shelve the Appricorn project due to the ongoing changes within the App Store, we had to do the same with Shrtnws at the time. (more…)