Tag Archives: Washington Post

Journalism Technologies: 12. The Everything Store

The first term of our Journalism Technologies module at the University of Huddersfield draws to a close this week as students submit their learning logs, written on either WordPress, Blogger or Medium, reflecting on what they’ve looked at so far in the lectures and practical workshops. The last lecture of the series was on Monday and was about a company a little different from the others in that it has traditionally been all about retail: Amazon.

However, it’s more than just The Everything Store these days. Amazon dominates cloud computing through Amazon Web Services with a third of the market (Microsoft is next, languishing at 9%), and the beginning of The Grand Tour – enjoyed by many of my students taking advantage of a free six-month Amazon Prime trial for those in education – is in biggest move yet into content creation. There’ll be more to come, too. Amazon is now firmly one of the ‘big four’ media and technology companies, alongside Google, Apple and Facebook.

The theory attached to this lecture was Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, first outlined in this memorable piece in Wired magazine in 2004. Part of the theory states that hits are becoming smaller as it becomes easier for consumers to find niche products more to their taste. Re-reading the book before the lecture, his section about hits notes that *NSYNC’s record for the fastest selling album in US history, set at the music industry’s peak in 2000, was unlikely to ever be beaten. Well, eventually it was, by Adele in 2015. I suppose you could even say she said Hello to the record, forcing *NSYNC to bid it Bye Bye Bye. But perhaps you’d better not.

Me For The Conversation: Tech Companies Are Eating Journalists’ Lunch. Shouldn’t They At Least Pay For It?

Look, I did a hot take.

Look, I did a hot take.

I’ve had my first piece for The Conversation published today. It’s about whether the giants of Silicon Valley should share some of their wealth with struggling news companies to help support journalism (my conclusion: not really). The piece is part of a series at The Conversation on business models for the news media.

I’m sure it won’t be the last thing I write for them. The Conversation, which gets academics to write stuff about their areas of interest, is a start-up I’ve admired for a long time. There’s usually something good on there to read, and besides, getting lecturers to publish outside the opaque world of academic journals is the sort of thing I generally approve of.

Lecture: Introduction To Journalism And The Internet

I had one hour today to introduce a lecture hall of nearly 200 first year students from various courses to how the internet has affected journalism. Admittedly, it was just an introduction, but even so it was pretty hard to condense it into a single lecture. I did my best.

At one stage I brought up the recent purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos for the relatively small sum of £160m, and pointed out that was roughly what Johnston Press paid for the rather less grand Scotsman just eight years ago. Showing a picture of Woodward and Bernstein, I started to say that they would probably be turning in their graves at the low valuation of their famous old paper, then realised they’re both still alive. Change really has come quickly to the news business.

Here’s the full presentation.

What I’m Reading: Jeff Bezos Buys The Washington Post, And More

The Washington Post building. (picture: vpickering on Flickr)

The Washington Post building. (picture: vpickering on Flickr)

This is the first in what I imagine will be a semi-regular feature on this site, with links to things I’ve enjoyed reading.

The biggest media news of the week came from Washington DC, where the Graham family announced it was selling the Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250m.

That sounds like a lot of money, but everything’s relative. As Alex Massie points out, that’s basically what Johnston Press paid for The Scotsman as recently as 2005.

Of the American reactions to the deal, here’s the analysis on the Post’s own Wonkblog. It’s worth reading the thoughts of former Post staffer and New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Also at the New Yorker, John Cassidy offers a sceptical view of what Bezos’ motives might be. Back at the Post’s website, read this enjoyable open letter to Bezos from Gene Weingarten.

I’ve been checking out Medium this week, the writing-focused newish social network from the Twitter guys, Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Williams explains it all here.

A couple of things that I particularly enjoyed: Callie Schweitzer on how interviewing director David O Russell for her high school newspaper changed her life, and Dave Harte discussing a presentation on the internet he gave to a class of ten-year-olds.

Some rotten boroughs news to finish. Weep at Leeds Citizen’s account of councillors’ refusal to allow the recording of a council meeting. And, from Private Eye via the Telegraph’s Louise Gray, an explanation of how fracking permission was originally granted in Balcombe (there’s an easier-to-read follow up from the Independent here).

Just goes to show why it’s important to scrutinise even parish councils.