This newspaper owner is doing OK

Calixe in Toronto

Times may be tough for some newspaper owners, but Santa Barbara News-Press co-publisher Wendy McCaw appears to be getting by just fine.

Her helicopter-toting 193-foot motoryacht Calixe is in Toronto, drawing plenty of admiring looks.

Ms McCaw and her fiancé, Arthur von Wiesenberger, are co-publishers of the News-Press, a newspaper she purchased in 2000 from the New York Times company.

She is divorced from cellular telephone tycoon Craig McCaw and has been a controversial newspaper owner.

In 2007, a National Labor Relations Board judge ordered the News-Press to reinstate eight employees it had fired for union organizing.

In 2006, six editors quit the paper over editorial ethics, an issue highlighted in the film Citizen McCaw.

Calixe’s helicopter

Washington Post redesigns mobile services

WashingtonPost mobile site

The Washington Post has launched a new selection of mobile services, including an iPhone-optimized site, a BlackBerry application, and other variations to work on cellphones.

The services use a simplified navigation structure, comprising Politics, Business, Metro, Arts and Lifestyle, and Sports sections.

MediaPost reports that the services were built in-house, and that two editors have been assigned to mobile content. E-commerce functionality, such as restaurant reservations and movie ticket purchasing, are reportedly under development.

Simulated screenshot: washingtonpost.com

Citizen journalists racing to cover Nascar

racintoday.com

Advertising Age reports that stock car racing body Nascar has accredited 28 bloggers and non-mainstream websites to cover races this season.

It seems fewer newspaper sports writers have been turning up in the press boxes as a result of newspaper cutbacks, so Nascar decided it needed a “Citizen Journalist Media Corps” to keep the fans satisfied.

“The last 12 to 18 months, we’ve seen a drop in print media,” says Ramsey Poston, Nascar’s managing director-corporate communications, who oversees the Citizen Journalist project. “We’ve not only lost some of the biggest auto-racing writers in the business due to layoffs and cutbacks — people like Jim Pedley of The Kansas City Star, John Sturbin (of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and Grant James (of the St. Petersburg Times) — but we’ve lost the papers themselves. We used to get great coverage from the Rocky Mountain (Colo.) News, and now it doesn’t even exist. And other papers are simply cutting back coverage.

Nascar’s communications department reviewed some 30,000 websites before making the final selection, which includes RacinToday.com (pictured).

See also: Fire the sports writers? Not if the teams have anything to say about it

Washington Posts fires blogger, then dives for cover

It’s fascinating to compare these two accounts of the sacking of washingtonpost.com White House Watch blogger Dan Froomkin:

Hat tip: Jay Rosen

UPDATE July 7: Froomkin joins huffingtonpost.com as Washington DC bureau chief

Iran coverage boosts CNN’s iReport traffic

Andy Plesser of Beet.TV quotes a statement by CNN that page views for its user-generated iReport site reached one million on Monday, driven by coverage of post-election protests in Iran.

To put this in perspective, iReport (which was launched in February 2008) averaged 316,000 page views per day in 2008 (9.6 million per month) according to Nielsen Online data reported by CNN. The main news site, cnn.com, averaged about 35 million page views per day, according to comScore numbers quoted by TechCrunch in November.

Plesser says that over the past week, “some 5,000 Iran-related videos and photos have been uploaded to iReport” and that “about 150 of these citizen contributions have been used on the air or on CNN.com after being vetted and verified by the network.”

In a video interview Wednesday with Plesser, iReport senior producer Lila King talks about how the network uses multiple iReports to corroborate information, and how iReport has become part of its world news coverage.

Americans spending less time on top newspaper sites

According to Editor and Publisher, the average “time spent per user was down for more than half the top 30 global news and current events sites” in May 2009 compared to May 2008.

But that’s only telling part of the story.

The data come from sites measured by Nielsen Online, and only reflect US-based users.

Moreover, many sites saw increases in average monthly time per user, chiefly Google News, BBC, the Huffington Post and Cox Newspapers.

While it’s true to say that newspaper sites, in general, didn’t fare well, neither did some major broadcasters (including Fox) and online portals (e.g. AOL).

In the table below, sites are ranked according to total unique users (not time spent per user) during May 2009.

     Site — May ’09 (hour:minute:second) — May ’08

  1. MSNBC Digital Network — 0:21:40 — 0:29:00
  2. Yahoo! News — 0:18:25 — 0:22:12
  3. CNN Digital Network — 0:35:50 — 0:38:48
  4. AOL News — 0:24:01 — 0:35:27
  5. NYTimes.com — 0:27:34 — 0:28:52
  6. Tribune Newspapers — 0:09:31 — 0:08:59
  7. Fox News Digital Network — 0:32:39 — 0:43:16
  8. Gannett Newspapers and Newspaper Division — 0:22:20 — 0:19:49
  9. ABCNEWS Digital Network — 0:09:36 — 0:09:34
  10. Google News — 0:22:12 — 0:12:28
  11. McClatchy Newspaper Network — 0:09:24 — 0:12:41
  12. USATODAY.com — 0:12:11 — 0:13:00
  13. washingtonpost.com — 0:10:58 — 0:16:04
  14. CBS News Digital Network — 0:07:14 — 0:08:00
  15. Advance Internet — 0:10:33 — 0:14:27
  16. BBC — 0:13:02 — 0:09:13
  17. WorldNow — 0:10:54 — 0:17:55
  18. Hearst Newspapers Digital — 0:20:00 — 0:17:45
  19. MediaNews Group Newspapers — 0:10:57 — 0:12:13
  20. TheHuffingtonPost.com — 0:14:57 — 0:08:50
  21. Daily News Online Edition — 0:05:47 — 0:06:16
  22. Topix — 0:05:20 — 0:04:40
  23. New York Post Holdings — 0:10:57 — 0:08:02
  24. Cox Newspapers — 0:16:01 — 0:12:58
  25. NBC Local Media — 0:04:04 — N/A
  26. Boston.com — 0:10:06 — 0:09:40
  27. NPR — 0:07:37 — 0:07:31
  28. MailOnline — 0:06:47 — 0:08:44
  29. The Slate Group Websites — 0:09:53 — 0:07:37
  30. Telegraph — 0:03:50 — 0:05:03

Online video viewing up 68%

Online video viewing has increased dramatically over the past year, according to US data from Nielsen Online.

Online video usage in the USA - May 2009

The Nielsen chart above shows an increase in the number of viewers, but even stronger growth in the number of minutes that each viewer spent, on average, watching online video. This made me wonder about the growth in total minutes of online video, so I decided to work it out:

May 2009: 133.8 million viewers x 188.7 minutes/viewer = 25.2 billion minutes

May 2008: 118.6 million viewers x 126.7 minutes/viewer = 15.0 billion minutes

The change in total minutes of online video is 25.2/15.0, or an increase of 68 per cent.

(I derived the May 2008 numbers by reversing the percentage changes provided by Nielsen.)

YouTube was by far the leader in video delivery, with more than 95 million unique visitors last month, and more than six billion video streams.

Twitter reschedules maintenance to keep Iran news flowing

Protest in Iran

From Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN.com.

…senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.

and

…officials say the internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of a crackdown on journalists by Iranian authorities.

Twitter, as vital national security infrastructure?

» Cyberwar guide for Iran Elections

» June 20 update: Twitter on the baricades: Six lessons learned

» Photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr, June 15, 2009

First report from The Local’s virtual assignment desk

Citizen journalist Elisabeth Donnelly was the first to have her work published as part of a new program on The Local, a community website operated by the New York Times.

Responding to an invitation on The Local’s new Virtual Assignment Desk (see earlier blog post), Donnelly covered the 88th Precinct Community and Youth Council meeting last Wednesday June 10.

Although her report didn’t follow the traditional inverted pyramid style of news writing, it was packed with interesting details about the meeting, which elicited comments and follow-up questions from her readers.

Donnelly was one of three readers who volunteered for the assignment.

The Virtual Assignment Desk (pictured) now appears throughout The Local, with editors inviting readers to not only accept reporting assignments, but to suggest some too.