W3 – Techniques and Tools of New Modes of Publishing

I believe that news should be free and available to everyone, yet, I also realise that newspaper companies are primarily businesses in the pursuit of making money. These businesses are now experiencing significantly reduced income of physical newspaper sales due to the advent of digital publishing. This has effectively altered business practices and strategies. Various news companies are now looking to attract the public through the guilt and controversy of quantity and quality of news information, with the hope of the public to comply to the restrictions of price walls.

Historically, a major way in which the public could read about current news was through purchasing a physical copy of the newspaper. While still valued as a large part of the newspaper industry’s business model, the public are now exposed within an open online landscape in which various modes of publishing are available to the reader. In turn these companies must adapt to this change and take different approaches when it comes to the digital landscape.

Paywalls can also be based on conscience and civility by which it is right to pay for something you value. ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and the ‘Financial Times’ are two examples of news companies exploiting the public’s guilt of reading its content without paying, relying on their exclusivity and brand name, and depriving them of its content, forcing people to pay. This contrasts with the NY Times more open approach, providing free-of-charge access to viewable content without pay, promoting a landscape that provides the pleasure of reading its content. This has provem to be beneficial, by attracting more readers, young and old, and more subscribers towards a long-term goal. Although the advent of digital publishing on the surface, looks to negatively affect business profitability, it has, in fact, extended financial possibilities.

Paywalls are a fairly common approach within various news corporations feeling that it is necessary for the public to informational news content, many companies do not share this sentiment. The editor in cheif of ‘The Guardian’, Alan Rusbridger, is one man who believes that the introduction of paywalls within the digital revolution is an unnecessary solution that will remove the public from engaging with its content within an industry that is already engaing their readers more than ever before. He also asserts that paywalls could lead the industry to a ‘sleepwalk into oblivion’. Busfield (2010) Although paywalls seemingly provide revenue into the corporation in forms of monthly subscriptions, Rusbridger describes this as simply a ‘hunch’ Busfield (2010), with more lucrative possibilities by trying different business models, while maintaing generally free-of-charge content available to the viewer. This can be done by adopting new strategies. These strategies may include charging only mobile users who access the newspaper’s content, or charging only for specialised content.

Furthermore, the online landscape has provided transnational exposure to ‘The Guardian’ in what would otherwise be exclusive to only a UK audience. This is reflective of The Guardian’s 37m users coming from North America. This digital age is not simply a trend, but has ultimately changed the way in which the public express and organise themselves, the notion of authority, flexibility of time schedules, and resistance towards those who want to abandon free speech. If news corpoartions such as ‘News Corporation’ blatantly pursue pricewalls in hope of running competitors out of the industry, maximising their paying readership by capitalising on the public’s guilt, and depriving knowledge or information that could be otherwise accessed through a multitude of reputable sites online, they will find it increasingly difficult to compete in an environment that is offering free viewable content and competitiors increasing their viewing audience on a worldwide platform.

The promotion of an open web, regardless of socio-economic background, promoting free speech and the reduction of restrictions towards accescible news content is ideal in promoting a free and expressive climate that the digital age represents. References Busfield, Steve (2010) ‘Guardian editor hits back at paywalls’, The Guardian, January 25,

 

References

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls>  (The Editor of The Guardian, against paywalls)

 

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W2 – Publishing, Publics, Selves: history and social impacts. E-Books

Publishing relates to the production of information and text that is disseminated amongst the general public. This process involves the printing and distribution of information, in which recent years, has been highly affected by the innovation of technology. The changes within these stages of development have significantly affected business enterprise and productivity, in turn, affecting public and private consumption.

Distribution is the final stage of development in which the final product is made available to the consumer. A variety of channels may be used to distribute the product e.g. booksellers, retailers. Magazines and newspapers are mostly sold directly through the publisher to those with subscriptions. John Naughton of the Observer, states that there is a loss of intimacy and sentiment within this weekly ritual, describing his relationship with ‘The Economist’ on a weekly basis as being somewhat diminished as he no longer provides his undivided attention. This is a direct result of the means of which distribution is now carried out, with digitalised text being displayed upon such devices as the iPad. Similarly, Naughton shows a further loss of fulfillment when comparing his original copy of Nineteen Eighty Four by Orson Wells with its digital counterpart. He reflects upon the inability to rent and distribute the digital copy as it conflicts with service and legal agreements, effectively losing control over the owner’s content and narrowing traditional freedoms.

Traditionally, the portfolio of publishers issued as many titles allowed by the structure of the organisation. Today, the advent of e-books allows for a significantly increased backlist by the distributor, with an unlimited shelf-space, allowing for the public to have a wide range of book options, reflective of the traditional strategy in which offering as many titles being a key component in ensuring growth within the publishing business.

The advent of such devices such as the Kindle and iPad has succeeded in creating and maintaining its dominance, effectively eliminating its competition. Printed books are now considered a dated prospect with no long-term future. This is evident within dismal printed book sales with the closing down of book stores such as Borders, Dymocks, Angus and Robertson’s and hundreds of independent book retailers. The groundbreaking digital era has also ‘lowered customer perception of what a book should cost’ Lacy (2012) and convenience in purchasing. Lacy goes on to call the publishing industry ‘lazy’ and states it is at the foremost a business with its main objective being profitability. Thus, within this now highly monitored and business orientated publishing framework (evident within ‘Snooki’s celebrity status catapulting her as a ‘NY Times best seller’), publishers are shying away from the opportunity to discover an unknown talent replaced by the pursuit of success within the ‘bidding war’ Lacy (2012) amongst publishers over the big books.

Private and public consumption has also been altered within its ‘time shifts’ Schonfeld (2011) as a result of bookmarking applications such as ‘Instagram’ and ‘Read it Later’ allowing for the storage of articles, texts and literature on such devices and instant news feeds allowing for flexible and efficient online reading. On what was previously a designated, rigid and constrained timeline. Consumption is now largely apparent when an individual has a moment of free time throughout the day, rather than staring at a computer screen for hours at a time and what would otherwise been limited to private consumption such as reading within the confines of your home, this mobile technology has altered the individual towards a now largely public sphere.

The advent of digital textual information has seen an exponential rise in the availability and accessibility of electronic versions of books, text, and news through the computer, mobile phones and ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Android etc. This digital information is directly attainable through the internet with the advent of online stores, sites, blogs providing the consumer with up-to-date information, e-commerce, and descriptions and reviews that further inform the general public, influencing decisions. This can be seen in the form of ‘mobile application social books’, available for the iPad.

This information can provide an unfiltered, transparent report and directly uploaded content in which can inform the public in its entirety, without the imposition of traditional media filtration, conceiving the notion of which Kamdar calls ‘Cyborg Journalism’ Kamdar (2012). e.g. Wikipedia. Although this up-to-date, current trending data is extremely helpful to the public, effectively altering time constraints, it may take priority over the importance of historical data.

However, ‘the commons’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons) are limited in this regard as national differences and community populations largely differ from an economic and sociological standpoint. Instead of a wide range of public and private property being received amongst communities, it is largely narrow within developing or impoverished countries. This narrow position is reflected within the challenges faced by the South Africa people. Current and up-to-date news feeds and e-books are largely unattainable due to the low level of bandwith experienced within the country coupled with ‘low capacity of data cables’ Bhaskar (2009) creating a slow and expensive broadband provider. Due to Amazon having no direct presence within South Africa the public are not readily capable of obtaining such devices for e-reading. Furthermore, in a country with historical divisions, 11 official languages are of use within present day South Africa, causing large difficulty for a uniform language to be applied to e-books for the people within South Africa.

The capacity of such technology allows for a high level of convenience with the ability to carry a multitude of books that you would otherwise be incapable of doing with normal hardcover or paperback books. This has positively impacted upon environmental aspects with printing now using less ink dye, less chance of ink cartridges being disposed in an improper manner and reducing the cutting of trees for paper.

Convenience is also seen in viewing content within these platforms, with words ‘shimmering’ Jonah (2010), highlighting and underlining words and a clearer text being displayed on the screen with the advent of ‘e-ink’ Jonah (2010). These conveniences within such mediums, may also cause detriment to the comprehension of complex sentences and harder texts and literature with the reader’s understanding of concepts will be quickly forgotten developing a ‘mindless clarity’. Jonah (2010) This trade of ‘understanding for perception’, may also be seen within the education system, with students of younger ages developing an unwillingness to engage in more complex texts, yet, still granting them access to an array of academic material and instant news updates, further expanding their knowledge and initiative.

While it is largely evident that the advent of digitised information and devices such as ebooks have become a significant player within the publishing industry it will not completely eliminate traditional books and will remain somewhat prevalent in society. Nevertheless, benefits of the digitalised version of information and text significantly outweigh the costs and provide various alternatives and innovations that the public has been positively influenced by. It is the natural progression.

References

Bhaskar, Michael (2009) ‘E-books in Africa’, The Digitalist, May 28, < http://thedigitalist.net/?p=577>

‘Commons’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons>

Kamdar, Sachin (2012) ‘Why Publishers are about to go Data Crazy’, Mediashift: Your Guide to the Digital Revolution, January 17, <http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/01/why-publishers-are-about-to-go-data-crazy017.html>

Lacy, Sarah (2012) ‘Confessions of a Publisher: “We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us”’, pandodaily, January 26 http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/17/confessions-of-a-publisher-were-in-amazons-sights-and-theyre-going-to-kill-us/

Lehrer, Jonah (2010) ‘The Future of Reading’, Wired, September 8, <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2>

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