Tag: the register

The TechEye guide to crappy offline and online publishers

In the old print days, a publisher’s job was to size down the paper weight, cut down on the printing costs, bully the journalists through the editor – a kind of halfweight publisher himself, and go out on jollies all the time and get pissed as a fart, and of course, they were black tie does.

Thank gods, things have changed a lot since the Rogister stormed onto the world in 1994 and changed the whole paradiggim and shifted it too.

Now publishers’ jobs are to size down the internet costs, figure out how the print publications can possibly make money, and make sure the journalists get paid absolutely as little as possible as the interweb squeezes the multinationals more and more.

Let me give you an example. Reed Publishing used to value their editorial teams. A very senior journalist who we will not name now has the job description of Senior Data Gatherer. As if fantastic journalists are like coolies in the field – their job being to pick up bits of rice from the paddy and deliver them to the obermeisters.

Another example. There’s a certain very big publisher close to the heart of things in London which has totally demoralised its journalists. If the journalists break news, or have a bright idea, they are condemned for it. This is where worlds collide – where online journalism has finally cut the jugular to print publishing and shown them just where they are.

Nowhere, baby.

And then there are the publishers who, having got into cahoots with Google, believe that all there is in the universe is churn.

Thankfully, there is more to the universe than churn, even though, of course, the Sanskrit word samsara – which is not a perfume – means everything flowing together. Sort of a conjunction.

It is still possible to break stories, but the good news here is that benign publishers realise that. Malign publishers regard their journalists as data gatherers, or worse, not realising that a good journalist can destroy a business idea, through intelligence.

Now all these downtrodden data gatherers, working for these malign publishers, probably realise that the parradiggim has changed, but being wage slaves, they haven’t quite realised that the boot is on the other foot.

Publishers in the 21st century are now totally unnecessary, unless they can turn their rather useless hands to writing stories, rather than evoking bean counters to further reduce journalists’ wages.

The writing has been on the wall since 1995, but these dinosaur publishers haven’t yet got it. But they will, they will. And so will wage slave journalists, soon enough. Google churnalism is dead.

*EyeSee that Tom Foremski@siliconvalleywatcher.com is making in excess of $120,000 a year! Cool! Here’s his Facebook vid – Tom had the courage to tell the Financial Times to get on its bike.



Google argues the toss about print and online journalism

Search giant Google issued a response to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which essentially consists of a lengthy screed telling publishers why it’s not evil and what they can do about it.

The paper consists of comments on the FTC’s draft called Potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism and kind of misses the point in all sort of ways.

It kicks off by saying that “Google is committed to helping news organisations develop innovative ways to serve consumers and foster revenue generation models that will sustain the continued vitality of the news industry”.

It says that is sents four billion clicks every month to news publishers through Search, Google News and other products. “Each click – each visit – provides publishers with an opportunity to show users ads, register users, charge users for access to content, and so forth.”

It continues: “Google is currently working with news organisations that want to create online subscription services about ways to use our tools to achieve their goals.”

Google also helps publishers generate revenue, it says – it shared over $5 billion with its Adense partners and DoubleClick also helps them out.

It is true to say that Google News does make it a lot easier for online publishers, including small publishing outfits like TechEye,  to be on the same ground as the big boys. That really does open the field up and it must annoy the hell out of big news organisations that a tiny outfit can hit Google News headlines while they don’t necessarily do so themselves.

But there are some questions about the algorithms that Google uses that the company simply refuses to answer, claiming that revealing the proprietary information would give its competitors – are there any competitors? – an edge. People on the hunt for news may trust Google News to deliver the information they want, whether it’s in the realm of technology, energy or whatever. But the Google News actually has a news agenda of its own, determined by algorithms that are secret.

In truth, large publishing organisations with a largely print based legacy face the dilemma that the internet has changed the rules of the game. When I set up the INQUIRER, the initial investment in the site was minimal – I needed a CMS, a design, and a place to host the site. And I needed content. Unlike, say News Corp, Reed or many other traditional publishers, the INQUIRER did not have the huge costs of paying printers and distributing papers and magazines. The Register, which I co-founded, broke all the rules and the INQUIRER carried on successfully in the same manner.

Large print organisations are dinosaurs and the decision to put a paywall in front of the Times of London is a rearguard action that we suspect will come to nothing. The Wall Street Journal – now owned by News Corp too – has always successfully operated a paywall but that’s because it offers access to heavyweight stuff and to data that it was hard to get from anywhere else.

Google’s paper suggests that publishers can win by offering excellent online content but journalists and freelancers worldwide know that wages are lower than they’ve ever been, conditions are tougher and people are expected to work longer hours.  Under these circumstances, and on the Google News carousel, scoops and quality are forgotten and regurgitation and churnalism is the name of the game. The FTC, we hope, will ask Mr Google about its famous “algorithms” to ensure no Wizard of Oz is sitting behind the curtain pulling business levers.

The Google conclusion that it is optimistic about the future of journalism – “The Fourth Estate is too crucial a part of a functioning democracy and the internet too powerful a medium, for journalism to die in transition to a web-first approach.” Many journalists of my acquaintance who have lost their jobs or been reduced to minimum wage level, would laugh hollowly at that glass half full approach – to many, journalism is already dust.

Google says in the paper: “Google believes that by helping users more efficiently find different points of view they can better inform themselves as citizens. Quality content is complementary to Google’s search services – if there is better content on the Web, people are likely to do more searches, which will be good for Google’s business and for users.”

This is all a little bit disingenuous. While old style publishers are trapped by the twin albatrosses of print titles and huge overheads, what Google is essentially doing is dictating not only the news agenda but the advertising agenda too. Google does have something of the Big Brother about it. And the FTC is right to look at Google with something more than just a passing interest.

You can find Google’s comments, here.

Techeye editor joins Incisive Board

Update: This was an April’s Fool Joke by one of our feelancers,  but someone at Incisive didn’t get the joke, it appears. Ed.

TechEye editor, Mike Mageek will take a new job on the board of Incisive Media, the outfit which already owns his Inquirer magazine.

Magee, who was named the 35th most influential man in British technology, just behind a person who makes vacuum cleaners, will take up his new post on the board today.

The move will end speculation that he was returning to the Inquirer as News Editor following the exit of Ian Williams.

Incisive Media’s CEO Tim Weller said that bringing on Mageek was vital if the company was going to usher in the new media revolution it has planned.

Mageek broke the mould of traditional technology publishing when he launched his online spoof magazine “The Register” in 1664, the Kronenburg Era.   He later went on to form the Inquirer.net which was bought by VNU Business Publications, which was then sold to Incisive.

Weller said that Mageek had an unusual approach to online media which appeared to be successful.

“Certainly we have a lot to learn from his approach. We are already conducting some of our more important business meetings in the upstairs room of the Star and Garter,” Weller said.

In a press release, Mageek said that he was eager to kick the ball running and was looking forward to creating a new paradigm for New Media at Incisive.

Magee said there was no problem with him working for Incisive while at the same time remaining editor of Techeye.

“In this industry competition is all an illusion.  Everyone is really good mates really, just ask Nvidia and AMD,” he said.

Mageek is 94.


Wanted: An editor for the INQUIRER

We are given to understand that the INQUIRER is looking for an editor.  Ian Williams is moving to take another job, we understand.

We don’t know who the candidates to replace Ian might be. We’d suggest Paul Hales, but he seems to be pre-occupied with some site called Thinq. We’d suggest Mike Magee, but he seems to be pre-occupied with some site called techeye.net and something called tgdaily.com. Maybe Andrew Thomas would make a great editor of the INQUIRER.

Or maybe Theo Valich or Fuad Abazovic, or Charlie Demerjian. Or Nick Farrell.

Mike, according to very reliable sources called Mike,  did offer to buy the INQUIRER back from Incisive Media a while back, but was told in no uncertain terms to get on his bike.

Until a few months ago, he got endless internal emails from Incisive, even though he sold the INQUIRER to VNU several years ago.

The job vacancy is here. Mike has applied.

IT online journalism can't stop begatting

SEFER HA ZOHAR: 12, 1 And lo, Mike Magee and John Lettice begat the Register. And it was good as an email newsletter started in 1994 for some years, although racks of coins did not fall on their heads. And then a Drew Cullen also became a begat, and before we knew where we were, Linus Birtles in 1998 begatted a rack of coins and made it so.

Then there was a parting of the seas and Mike was cast out into the infernal darkness and went and begatted the Inquirer.

And lo,  it was good in the land of milk and honey for five years.

Then Castle Despair put Mike into Black Jail for a full two years and he despaired, not having a multi-coloured cloak to wear. And he left the Castle, laughing all the way to the Bank and not looking back in case he was turned into a veritable Pillar of Salt (POS).  Begorrah. Sod em.

Then Metaplume begatted the IT Examiner and Instant News and Mike was in the Land of Pearls for a year, verily a year, before he was cast back into the veritable Sodom called Oxford, a Vale of Tears for a while.

And then the begatting really really started at Castle Despair. First Fuad Abazovic begatted fudzilla.com and the begatting continued apace. Lo, before you knew where you were, Charlie Demerjian begatted semiaccurate.com and then Theo Valich did a begatting all by himself called the Bright Side of News.

Then Castle Despair begatted Paul Hales onto the street and he thought he’d do a bit of begatting himself. And before Paul Hales begats thinq.co.uk in a few days time, Mike Magee begatted techeye.net.

And lo. The fragmented journalists went a weeping and wailing in their Despair to the advertisers and vendors and a dark cast was put upon them by the Agencies and by the agents.  Now there was much gnashing of teeth but the Vendors, laughing out loud said: “The ball is now in our court.com”. [That’s surely enough begatting? Ed.]