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Facebook + Journalism 101Facebook + Journalism 101 Academia could be more social. So recently, I setup a Facebook Group for "Social Journalism Educators" to be able to connect and share resources around how they are teaching...

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Facebook & Its Growing Role in Social JournalismFacebook & Its Growing Role in Social Journalism This is an excerpt from a post I recently reported for Mashable.com. Read the full piece here. A Facebook-only news organization? It was only a matter of time. The...

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Vadim Lavrusik Rss

7 things you need to know before you start a media business online

Posted on : 25-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Journalism school, Online Journalism, Social Media, Video

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At the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism we are lucky to have access to some great minds in the media industry, including Ken Lerer, the co-founder and chairman of The Huffington Post, who is teaching six sessions on media entrepreneurship. On Tuesday, Lerer used the first session to outline the five points he wants to focus on.

I think that all of these are quite important to the media industry moving forward and wanted to share them with you, along with a few others that he pointed out during the discussion with journalism students. However, starting an online journalism site is not easy, despite how-to guides making it seem that way sometimes. Most of these are trends that Lerer himself and others are seeing in online journalism. One reason being is that there may be some opportunity to add other topics. So, if you think there is something very important missing, please do share.

1. The Shift From Mainstream to Social Sites

This is pretty self explanatory. “Content companies have to get into the social business or fall by the way side,” Lerer said. He also talked a bit about how some news organizations are taking advantage of this by integrating social tools into their sites, such as Huffington Post using Facebook Connect. Read my recent post for Mashable on 7 Ways To Make News Sites More Social. I think this needs to not only go one step further, but perhaps there is a possibility that some of these social sites may eventually provide CMS for publishing.

A mix of WordPress, Facebook and Twitter into one awesome content site – now that may be a Knight Foundation News Challenge winner. Why? Well, the social sites are outpacing news sites in terms of use and are growing at very fast rates (check out graph below) and social networking use has tripled from only a year ago. Lerer also pointed to news being consumed or passed on through friends on these sites. This is the way many people get and share their news now, through social networks. Lerer also noted that for a news site like the Nytimes.com to implement many of the tools and figure out how to incorporate them into the content will take some time.

Social sites vs. MSM

2. Advertising Effectively

This is a bit of a difficult topic. How to fund the work that takes place in journalism is a much debated topic. However, Lerer said that he thinks advertising is the big money maker. It hasn’t quite caught on on the Web though, or at least people aren’t willing to pay as much for online ads. However, making money off social sites will be the next big business on the Web. You have to think of your future customers, Lerer said. Paywalls? Lerer thinks it is “insane” to fight the link community. He said that he think that news sites will end up offering some content free and require subscription to view certain parts content on the site.

3. Local Content

Lerer continues to be a firm believer that local will be the next big thing. It hasn’t advanced as quickly as some anticipated and there is no big business model for it yet. Yet Lerer is optimistic. “You’re going to see local explode,” he said. He said if he were starting another Web company, it would be something with local. The key is looking at a market and asking yourself what is missing or what could be covered better? What service can you provide that another site is not doing well on or doing at all?

4. Community

Without community on a site, it is likely that will not be as successful as you would hope. Lerer said for a content site, community is hugely important and should not go overlooked. Some sites have great content, but little community and lose out on traffic as a result and in search rankings.

5. Citizen Journalism and User-generated content

Also, trying to figure out how the relationship between staff journalists and contributing citizen journalists should function is another thing to figure out. There are no clear-cut answers but I think that more journalists will first start out by contributing to a site as a citizen before getting hired on staff. The best will still rise to the top, if not more so than today.

6. Video

So how does video fit in? Lerer said that he thinks video is the future of the Internet, or at least there will be a lot more of it on content sites in the future. There is a spectrum with Hulu on one end and YouTube on the other. One is high quality and longer pieces, but costs a lot to produce. The other is usually not as good of quality, but is usually very cheap to produce. The key is figuring out where the middle is.

7. Content is King

This goes to a point made earlier: What kind of content does a market area not have? Or perhaps you could do a better job producing that content and providing a place where the community is stronger or delivering it more efficiently. Whatever it is, Lerer said ultimately content is king.

Below are the other key points that will be outlined in future sessions, but ones that the discussion didn’t go into. I will make sure to touch on these more in the future:

  • How to make traffic go viral (SEO, etc).
  • Social and real-time distribution
  • How to raise money to start you business

So what’s missing? Would love to hear it in the comments.

6 ways to monetize online video

Posted on : 05-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Video

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Excerpt from my final post for Online Journalism Blog on how online video can be monetized:

Movie Icon: RSS(Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part series on local online news video, summarizing the findings of a thesis study that examined the Minnesota media market and their use of online video. Part one looked at content and part two examined design and usability. Love to hear feedback in the comments below.)

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It is clear that the economy has damaged efforts to expand and improve online video. Many local news sites have had to cut staff, and they are working to produce content in survival mode. However, video advertising is expected to have the largest growth out of any sectors in online advertising. In December, eMarketer released predictions for video ad spending, saying that it would rise by 45 percent in 2009 to reach $850 million. Though ad spending has slowed a bit, video advertising remains strong. The opportunities are tremendous. However, half of the local news sites have yet to implement or even sell a video advertisement.

In summary, the six ways are: internal hosting, pre-roll ads, complementing ad forms, the 15 second rule, search ads, internal production of ads. Read the full details here.

What’s working and what’s not in local online news video content (Part 1)

Posted on : 03-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Online Journalism, Video

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(Apologies for the break in blogging. I have been in the process of moving from Minnesota to NYC. Moving is not fun.This is excerpt from a blog post I wrote for the Online Journalism Blog that summarized the findings of my thesis study on 10 local news sites. Read the first of three posts in full here. Aside from this series, I will have several other posts this week that might strike your fancy.)

Though local news sites have expanded their production of content and made great strides in technological advances on their video platforms, they haven’t exactly reached the next threshold or industry standard in online video. In many cases, this “standard” is being set by media giants like CNN and user-generated social media sites like YouTube. In fact, a recent study shows that watching online video is more popular than Facebook or Twitter. The trend is continuing in that direction and the time spent watching online video has increased as well. And with YouTube now getting into the local news business with its News Near You feature that will grab news clips from sources that are 100 miles from your computer’s IP address, local news organizations should worry.

Many of the local news sites are still experimenting and beginning to define the type of video content they would like to produce. Below are lessons learned from a thesis study that examined how 10 local news sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA market used online video. The conclusions made here, are also gathered through interviews of editors at the respective organizations (Note: Several did not want or could not appear for publication as a result of organizational policies). The full study can be found here (beware it is about 60 pages in length). Here are the sites studied:

Will Hulu change the length of video online?

Posted on : 06-06-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Facebook, Online Journalism, Video

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The average online video length has been under 3 minutes for quite sometime, mostly due to the short attention spans of users surfing the Web. People don’t watch Web video like they do the T.V. Or do they?

Hulu.com, a video site that displays TV shows and movies, is changing the way viewers watch Web video and is likely the reason behind the increase of average video length online, according to comScore’s most recent report, which showed that the average length of video in April was 3.5 minutes in comparison to 2.7 minutes a year ago and 2.9 last July.