Friday, March 26, 2010

postheadericon Future of Internet TV bright, bleak for traditional TV says Ziln Internet TV Network

Internet users surpass TV Viewers in Canada

Canadian research firm Ipsos reported this week that “for the first time ever in their tracking research, the weekly Internet usage of Canadians has moved ahead of the number of hours spent watching television”. The report says that Internet usage by Canadians is now 18 hours a week, up from 14.9 hours last year and that at the same time, the number of hours watching television has increased from 15.8 to 16.9 hours a week in the last year. 

This development will no doubt be of interest to businesses  that operate online, regardless of where in the world there are. It’s not a defining moment yet, but many will be hoping that this is beginning of a global trend.

In New Zealand, Internet TV Network Ziln, which launched in September 2009 will no doubt be monitoring Internet usage trends in New Zealand as this directly relates to the growth of their business. The network offers a number of Television channels including Aljazeera, Archives New Zealand, Bloomberg, Russia Today, Stratos and many more.

Internet TV to surpass traditional TV in 3 to 5 years
In a statement reminiscent of  Bill Gates' 2007 prediction of a radical change of TV within 5 years , the Director of  Broadcasting at Ziln, Mr Paul Brennan told us that Internet TV will surpass traditional Television in 3 to 5 years. This will mark the “reinvention of TV”, he says.

“What will affect  traditional TV a lot more will be the lack of advertising. In the last year alone, there has been $272 million less advertising in New Zealand

Asked how Internet TV could tackle an established ‘mass communication’ medium like traditional TV which has a wider reach, Paul Brennan said that niche Internet television like Ziln can target audiences, something that traditional TV formats struggle with.

“Niche environments like ours offer a number of niche channels which cumulatively offer a wider reach. Internet TV makes it easier for us to dice and slice markets and target  specific audiences. The “nicheability” of online channels and media like Ziln make it attractive for advertisers to target their audiences All this at a lower cost for the advertiser. And this is already happening”

Ziln Internet TV follows a global trend of new Internet TV formats being set up by new upstarts and some by traditional Television media. Most   traditional Televisions  have set up their own online Video on Demand  (VOD) service and offer replays of previously broadcast programs.

Internet TV vs traditional TV –widely contested issue
However, the notion that Internet TV is a threat to  traditional TV is widely contested. A body of research in the public domain which analyses Internet TV and traditional TV gives interesting insights. While there are many good things about Internet TV, there are still  a few teething problems most of which relate to poor user experience of watching TV on the Internet. This is mainly due to poor Broadband speeds and inferior quality hardware.  We didn’t discuss this with Paul Brennan, admittedly because we didn’t ask him; our main focus was why traditional TV dismiss Internet TV:

“They will dismiss it because they’re  shit scared. Their business models are under threat due to the incredible cost of transmission or setting up channels and the cost of maintaining channels.

Elaborating, Paul Brennan  adds :

“Legacy transmission costs for Traditional TV  are unsustainable. At Ziln we sell an Internet TV channel  for between $30  and $100 thousand. This is cheaper by a factor of  40 times or more compared to traditional TV. The quantum reduction in broadcasting costs will reduce  costs of advertising. And this is already happening”

On the recent development in Canada where Internet users have surpassed TV viewers, Paul Brennan believes this is part of a growing trend of Internet use which will also see Internet TV surpass Legacy TV in a few years. Improved availability and speed of  Broadband will drive this change, he says. He explained the several Broadband initiatives currently underway in New Zealand, including the Rural Broadband Initiative and the New Zealand Government Broadband Initiative  and the Pacific Fibre project and says this will change the future of  Broadband and ultimately online experiences like Internet Television.

What’s going well with Internet TV
Since Ziln’s launch last September, it’s been quite a smooth process and everything has gone well, according to Paul Brennan, who put that down to the well developed  knowledge and skills that “we had from the beginning”.

“The growth is great for an industry or format that had no precedent here in New Zealand….Ziln is  still on track to be the dominant TV provider in terms of overall content supply”

Paul Brennan also believes that the growth of Ziln will create a  brighter future for the Post Production Industry in New Zealand due to increased Internet TV channels which all require content.

“An overall effect on local production industry is that this creates more opportunity. More productions will be made. The architecture of Internet TV gives it huge amounts of space. Video on Demand has 12 times the amount of content than 12 times more content than realtime broadcast TV. This represents a lot of content. The upshot of this is that there’ll be a lot of demand for multi skilled content creators, creating a lot of work”

Friday, March 19, 2010

postheadericon Journalism remains unchanged despite technological pressures

From the typewriter era to the “click submit” era, the game is still the same

Anyone with access to social sites like YouTube, Facebook and Digg or blogs like Blogger, Wordpress and Twitter can write and publish their opinion, or rewrite or create ‘mashups’ of content they pick up online from any source, and re-disseminate it. Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious and the micro-blogging site Twitter and its Retweet tool are really good at this.

           Photo: Faith Daniels,South African Broadcasting Corp

This ability to easily create and publish content can in some ways create the impression that traditional journalism as we know it is now dispensable.

Just because anyone can publish themselves (and some people do publish more content than journalists)-does not render journalism skills obsolete. Technology may have changed the playing field and enabled people to publish themselves, but the practice of journalism has not changed and still has a place.

Professional Journalism training still popular
Every year thousands still attend journalism colleges to learn journalism skills.
Recently, I caught up with first year and returning Journalism graduate and postgraduate students at AUT University in Auckland just as the 2010 New Zealand University academic calendar started.
I wanted to hear their opinions on journalism and why they had decided to become journalists.
I asked these aspiring journalists just two questions; Why do you want to be a journalist?" and “What is your understanding of journalism?"

What I got out of their answers was that their aspirant tendencies were no different from those of their predecessors from the old school journalism of the pre-Internet era. The playing field has changed from the old one of Remington typewriters and pubs to the digital online one of click and ‘submit’ and online forums, but the game is still the same. That’s the message I got.

Why do you want to be a journalist?
In response to the question "Why do you want to be a journalist?" most said it was the desire, almost a clarion call, to be, among other things, “the voice of the voiceless “. The impression I got from most of them was that journalism was a childhood dream which they were now fulfilling. Most were quite aware that their newly chosen profession was not going to bring them riches or fame

Here are the actual responses:

  • I was in the military, seeing situations like Iraq and Afghanistan and realized I could be seeing the same situations as a journalist, but being able to be more involved with the people, and less restricted by my bosses. Samuel Blackmer, 32, American, senior, studying abroad at AUT University

I worked for a time as a solicitor, a profession which I found stifled all my creativity. I see journalism as a challenging, intelligent profession which will serve to promote and encourage creativity among other things. Dominique Fourie, 26, BA/LLB (Otago), Pg Dip Comm Studies (Journalism)student, AUT

  • I wanted to be able to represent individual's voices who may otherwise get overlooked or silenced Courtney Wilson , AUT Journalism

  • Its simple, I love sport. What first prompted me to become a journalist was the rugby world cup in Australia, 2003. I was glued to the Television for a week and then began to think how I could get more involved in something like this. How could I make sport into a living? I was never going to be an All Black so the obvious answer was to write about it. Olivia Caldwell, 20, Post graduate journalism student, AUT

  • I have a love for the English language mixed with a curiosity for how everyone goes about their lives, so it made sense that journalism was a career that I would follow. I enjoy every process of writing a story - the research, interviewing and getting to know people, figuring out the angle, completing a story and finally seeing it in print - to me it's just gratifying. Leigh Stockton, 24, AUT Journalism student, Third year Bachelor of Communications.

What’s your understanding of journalism?
In response to the question "What’s your understanding of journalism?"
most of them said or alluded to the fact that journalism as the “Fourth Estate” was vital for any democracy and necessary in holding the wealthy and powerful to account, among other things.

  • I believe that it is our job as journalists to inform the general public on all events, issues and persons that directly affect our lives. We are to act as a fourth estate on government issues by providing checks and balances on their parliamentarians’ actions, to report overseas news accurately and write objectively. We are a democratic tool, and so it is not our job to put our opinion on stories that do not require it. Fairness, accuracy and balance are the three pillars that a journalist should live by and hold dear to their heart. Olivia Caldwell, 20, Post graduate journalism student, AUT
To me, journalism should be there to give the little guy a voice and hold people responsible for their actions. I think it should be an outlet to celebrate the good things people do in the world, while also bringing awareness to the bad things people do, therefore give a fair and balanced world view.  Leigh Stockton, 24, AUT Journalism student, Third year Bachelor of Communications

  • To me journalism is telling stories and informing people of what is going on in the world. We can't make people care about what is going on in Darfur, but we can show them what is going on, then it is on them to care or not care. Samuel Blackmer, 32, American, senior, studying abroad at AUT

  • I think that journalism is about making sure that those in power are held accountable by the public. The public has a right to know if they're being ripped off, or if someone is abusing their power. Journalism is a job that a lot of people find annoying and invasive but without it we would find it very difficult to "watch the watchmen" - this is why I think it is an important job. Siobhan Keogh, 22, Post grad journalism student at AUT

  • I've always thought there's a lot of justice in exposing "the bad side" of society/the community. I think the best journalism is when the wider public is informed of something dodgy going on. If doing this makes me rich and famous, that's a bonus. Celeste Gorrell, 3rd year journalism student.

  • Journalism documents and thus provides witness to the goings on in a community. That community could be local, regional, national or global. Kim Bowden, 29, Postgraduate journalism student, AUT

Mantra of Journalism is still the same
To further demonstrate the argument that the journalism mantra hasn’t changed with technology, I also sought the opinion of seasoned journalists. Faith Daniels, a journalist and news anchor at the South African Broadcasting Corporation has been a journalist since the early days of the internet. I asked her the same questions I asked the student journalists.

What’s your understanding of journalism
I view Journalism definitely as the public watchdog that is necessary in society- to reflect people back to themselves, to hold those in positions of power accountable, to scrutinise what is in the public interest.Faith Daniels, Journalist, SABC, Johannesburg

Why did you want to be a journalist?
  • Definitely not for the money. I suppose Journalism is in the category of the professions you enter because you have a passion, drive and I suppose natural talent for it. Depending on which sphere you enter, it allows you to be creative in so many ways – whether it be the words, pictures, sound you use or whether it is seeing the end product of what could sometimes be days of hard slogging. It almost gives you the sense that it’s many professions in one- you never do the same thing everyday- different people, different setting, different deadlines. Faith Daniels, Journalist, SABC, Johannesburg
My point in this discussion was to demonstrate that the mantra of journalism has not changed with technology. The aspirations of the student journalists I spoke with are no different from those of their predecessors of the pre-internet era. Most importantly, all the people I interviewed could have very well attempted to achieve their journalistic aspirations through any of the many new online and social networking platforms. But they chose professional journalism I’m sure because they know that journalism as a profession still has some currency. Professional journalism is not yet obsolete and has not been substituted by the new forms of online communication on social networking sites.

Related: Definition of a journalist

Friday, March 5, 2010

postheadericon Wired Magazine Goes Digital with the Wired Tablet App

Wired Magazine has unveiled the Wired Tablet App, an application which works on touch screens on a tablet. The Wired Tablet App enables readers to flick through pages and browse through photos (like a magazine) and view video and  interactive content and represents a new era of media. Release dates are yet to be announced. This could be a  useful app for  Apple's iPAD, set for commercial launch on an date yet to be announced. Remember the launch, and the media reviews which mostly wondered if it had any use.
Wired Magazine's Wired Tablet App joins a growing list of magazine flip page templates and formats and these promise to make reading magazine and newspapers online all the more interesting, particularly for those who find their iPhone touch screens too small or those who are tired using their mouse.

Subscribe to this blog

Follow by Email

About This Blog

this is Vincent Murwira's blog, part of his research site Skype: theopennewsroom Twitter: @theopennewsroom
View my complete profile
" In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the
right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that
it has." Mark Twain