MediaFile

from Paul Smalera:

Twitter’s censorship is a gray box of shame, but not for Twitter

Twitter’s announcement this week that it was going to enable country-specific censorship of posts is arousing fury around the Internet. Commentators, activists, protesters and netizens have said it’s “very bad news” and claim to be “#outraged”. Bianca Jagger, for one, asked how to go about boycotting Twitter, on Twitter, according to the New York Times. (Step one might be... well, never mind.) The critics have settled on #TwitterBlackout: all day on Saturday the 28th, they promised to not tweet, as a show of protest and solidarity with those who might be censored.

Here’s the thing: Like Twitter itself, it’s time for the Internet, and its chirping classes, to grow up. Twitter’s policy and its transparency pledge with the censorship watchdog Chilling Effects is the most thoughtful, honest and realistic policy to come out of a technology company in a long time. Even an unsympathetic reading of the new censorship policy bears that out.

To understand why, let’s unpack the policy a bit: First, Twitter has strongly implied it will not remove content under this policy. If that doesn’t sound like a crucial distinction from outright censorship, it is. Taking the new policy with existing ones, the only time Twitter says it will ever remove a tweet altogether is in response to a DMCA request. The DMCA may have its own flaws, but it is a form of censorship that lives separately from the process Twitter has outlined in this recent announcement. Where the DMCA process demands a deletion of copyright-infringing content, Twitter’s censorship policy promises no such takedown: it promises instead only to withhold censored content from the country where the content has been censored. Nothing else.

To be sure, that’s censorship of a kind, but compared to the industry censorship even Americans have long lived with -- take the Motion Picture Association of America, which still censors films based on dubious standards of taste and morality -- it’s positively enlightened. And it never permanently destroys or pre-empts content, the way the MPAA does.

Further, for a country to censor content, it has to make a “valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity” to Twitter, which will then decide what to do with the request. Twitter will also make an effort to notify users whose content is censored about what happened and why, and even give them a method to challenge the request. According to Twitter’s post, a record of the action will also be filed to the Chilling Effects website. The end result of a successful request is that the tweet or user in question is replaced by a gray box that notifies other readers inside the censoring country that the Tweet has been censored:

And the Grammy goes to — Steve Jobs!

First it was a bronze statue in Hungary. Now it’s a Grammy.

The accolades for the technology icon who died Oct 5 are still pouring in.

While Jobs is not a musician, his influence on the music industry — good or bad — cannot be denied. And for this, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is giving the co-founder of Apple Inc a Grammy at an invitation-only ceremony on Feb 11.

A formal acknowledgment of his Grammy — part of the 2012 Special Merit Award — will be made during the regular 54th annual Grammy Awards, to be held on Feb 12 at LA’s Staples Center.

“As former CEO and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the academy said in a statement.  ”A creative visionary, Jobs’ innovations such as the iPod and its counterpart, the online iTunes store, revolutionized the industry and how music was distributed and purchased.”

from The Great Debate:

Supporting the past, ignoring the future

By Rasmus Kleis Nielsen
The opinions expressed are his own.


Western media industries are going through a rapid and often painful transformation today with the rise of the Internet and mobile platforms, the erosion of the largest free-to-air broadcast audiences, and the decline of paid print newspaper circulation.

Despite all these changes, the important and sometimes neglected ways in which governments provide support for the media have remained largely unchanged for decades.

There is a real need to reform our 20th century support arrangements to make sure they effectively serve our needs in the 21st century. Public sector support for the media should not be industrial policy, propping up specific ailing incumbents, but democratic policy, aimed at ensuring that timely, accessible news from a diversity of sources is available to the entire population.

Conde Nast digital incubator hatches Santa’s Hideout

Conde Nast  just launched the latest product from its digital incubator in time for the holidays called “Santa’s Hideout.” The site is a free gift giving service aimed at children that lets parents set up a list for each child to fill while  also allowing parents to don their Santa beard. The items on the lists can be divvied up for Santa only as well as for family and friends.

Santa’s Hideout is using Amazon’s public API which is handling the e-commerce duties of shipping items on the list.

The site  is the second digital product launched from Conde Nast’s small research and development group which is overseen by Joe Simon, chief technology officer at Conde Nast. The first was something called Idea Flight, an iPad productivity app, that was released in June.

Penguin wades into self-publishing

Penguin Group launched a set of tools for writers who want to self-publish their books in print and digital form, making it the first of the six largest publishing houses in the United States to roll out such an offering.

The Pearson-owned publisher introduced the self-publishing suite through its website Book Country, a site for genre fiction authors who specialize in romance, science fiction, mystery and thrillers and are looking for feedback from other writers.

Writers can choose among three different packages to publish their works: e-book form only, user formatted e-books and print books, or professionally formatted e-books and print books. Prices range from $149 $99 to $549.*

Confused about media and ad technologies? There’s a Lab for that.

Between the bazillion ad technology companies all claiming to revolutionize online advertising and an explosion of devices and services that promise to deliver  movies straight from the Internet to the TV, it’s  a full time job keeping tabs on what can do what.

That’s why Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands launched Media Lab last Thursday, a 5,000 square foot space dedicated to learning and figuring out which end is up with various technologies available to marketers.

IPG vets technology before it can even make it to the front door of the Lab — meaning just because it’s out there doesn’t mean it makes the cut for testing. More than 500 companies are in its database and the Lab keeps in radio contact with venture capital firms and emerging media and tech related companies both large and small to stay on top of trends.

Are kids wringing out SpongeBob?

Back in September, right before the quarter ended, Viacom trimmed  its advertising revenue outlook to high single digit growth from double digit growth. One of only a few media conglomerates to take that step–News Corp, Time Warner, and CBS were much more upbeat–the move prompted some concern among media watchers that advertisers were beginning to slash their budgets on macro-economic concerns.

But that wasn’t the case. It turns out the problem was Viacom specific. As the Sumner Redstone-controlled company disclosed during its fiscal fourth quarter results Thursday, domestic advertising revenue growth slowed in part because of a mid-September ratings plunge kids network Nickelodeon. Total domestic ad revenue across Viacom’s cable networks, which also includes MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central, for FQ4 was up 7 percent versus the third quarter’s climb of 12 percent.

What’s more is that Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman threw audience measurement company Nielsen Co under the bus on Thursday’s earnings call, saying the  ratings drop at Nickelodeon was “inexplicable.” He said Nielsen’s data did not match Viacom’s own set top box data for viewers. The company is currently in discussions with Nielsen– the dominant company that tracks TV ratings that determine ad rates — and the watchdog organization Media Ratings Council to resolve the situation.

Exclusive: NYT expands tech blog

The New York Times is expanding its technology blog Bits to include more reporting and analysis about the enterprise portion of the tech sector.  The expanded coverage will encompass a broader range of  subjects like “big data,” “cloud computing” and security issues.

“It’s an area the Times has never had a lot of reporting,” said Damon Darlin, technology editor who oversees the site.

The Times recently hired three new reporters to its tech desk–Quentin Hardy, Nicole Perlroth and Brian X. Chen–to help beef up its coverage and contribute to the blog along with other Times tech reporters. The expansion also includes a new section called “Scuttlebot” that will aggregate tech stories of interest from across the Web.

Washington Post: the latest example of print ad plunge

Just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse for newspapers, it somehow manages to get even bleaker. Today’s example is provided by the Washington Post Co and its flagship paper (and the online site Slate). The company reported third quarter earnings including results from its newspaper division today.

Print advertising revenue fell 20 percent to $57.6 million — quite a stunning plunge even  as newspapers across the U.S. manage to post quarter after quarter of print ad revenue declines. Even more disturbing is that online revenue, which includes washingtonpost.com and Slate, plunged 14 percent to $23.3 million. Display online ad revenue dropped 17 percent.

The Washington Post is one of those curious oddities in the industry that manages to be extremely local — it’s market penetration of the D.C. area has always been one of the highest in the U.S. — and also draws the interest of a large national audience. So while it may compete with the “nationals” i.e. New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, on the news front,  it is very dependent on local advertising. The NYT, USAT and WSJ get a hefty portion of their advertising revenue through national advertisers.

How to generate media value: Fire your CEO

Some outfit called General Sentiment has set about the task of evaluating the media value of top global brands and then ranking those companies accordingly. Some brands made their way up the list because they ousted their head honcho.

To compile the rankings General Sentiment monitors the news, blogs, tweets and other social media for a brand’s “buzz” — negative or positive — to calculate the estimated cost to generate the same media exposure through traditional advertising.

For the latest list, Google claims the spot as the “top brand” with $917 million worth of media value during the third quarter ahead of Apple