Flotsam for today

* Has the industry really come down to this? A $13,000 auction bid on an internship? At the Huffington Post?

Granted, the auction is for a worthy cause and the money will not go directly into Post owner Arianna Huffington’s pocket. But considering Huffington Post is built on the backs of people providing content at no cost (or at best, very little cost) to Ms. Huffington, this latest offering just helps to seal her image of the Marie Antoinette of journalism.

I just hope the winning bidder isn’t expecting a return on his initial investment. Not from Ms. Huffington, at least.

* Another reason why publishers shouldn’t jump on the paid-content wagon yet. Just after MediaNews Corp. announced it would create a paid-content system for its newspaper web sites, the flagship Denver Post asked readers if they would be willing to pay to get stories on the web. Media guru Steve Outing got a hold of the results. A whopping 83 percent of Denver readers said “no.”

Now I’m sure MediaNews’ readership in Denver is not that much different that those in California and elsewhere, so I hope that Dean Singleton and his minions carefully read what his readers are saying in the comments. Basically, they reinforce the notion that reader loyalty is no longer based on the product. The “I can get my news elsewhere for free” argument continues to come up, and this is very true.

If you want to force paid content onto readership, it will have to be done in a unified move by the entire industry. Everyone from the New York Times to the Podunk Bugle will have to lock down its content simultaneously. Even in this crisis, I don’t see that type on unity developing.

Instead of locking down content, MediaNews (and everyone else) should be focusing on new, innovative products that would slice and dice the information into convenient, personalized packages. People may be willing to pay for that.

* I’ve been criticized for my immediate dissing of the Kindle DX and its potential for newspapers. I don’t think the Kindle DX is a bad product. In fact, I think it serves a wonderful purpose, especially for high school and college students who can download several hundred pounds worth of textbooks into a viable and portable device. But for newspapers and magazines, the Kindle DX cannot replicate the newspaper experience. In fact, no electronic reader can replicate the newspaper experience.

That is why, to gain new readers, newspapers should be looking at a device that can provide the interactive experience of an iPhone (or at least a 2.0 website) in a viable and portable device. Here’s a video I found on YouTube that comes close to my vision of the e-paper experience:

This is a nice start. But imagine adding interactivity. The ability to touch a story and get more information, like previous stories, links, or a comment window. Touch a photo and it turns into a video. Touch an ad and get more information on the product and the ability to buy it.

Now that’s an experience you can’t get from print!


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