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03 May 2011 23:27


Biz: Newspaper pulse check: Why one paper’s circulation skyrocketed

  • The newspaper is doing OK right now. Not great, just OK. In the past six months, that gray newsprint behemoth did OK, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, with the top two papers gaining some ground and most of the top five staying roughly in the same order. However, the way that the group analyzed the data changed this time around — deciding, instead of focusing just on paid circulation, to emphasize “average circulation,” which includes separate editions under the umbrella of a certain brand. The numbers caused one paper to rocket into the top five and one to fall out. See if you can guess by the numbers below:
  • 2.1 million daily circulation for the top-ranked Wall Street Journal
  • 1.8 million average daily circulation for the still-second-place USA Today
  • 916,911 average daily circulation for the freshly-paywalled New York Times
  • 605k average daily circulation for the Los Angeles Times
  • 577k average daily circulation for the San Jose Mercury News
  • 550k average daily circulation for the Washington Post source
  • » A few things of note: If you guessed that the San Jose Mercury News benefited greatly from the change in data, you’re correct — MediaNews treats each newspaper on this page as an “edition” of the Mercury News (which seems a little number-inflating). Other notes: This data covers the daily circulation for the past six months — a period which only includes a tiny bit of the New York Times’ post-paywall circulation (so come back in six months to see if it was a success). But e-editions are doing quite well, especially for the Wall Street Journal and Detroit Free Press. One last thing: The numbers only cover paid newspapers, not free ones. (photo by Brent D. Payne)

18 Oct 2010 22:27


Tech: Facebook’s “privacy breach”: Meet Rapleaf, circa 2007

  • This is an e-mail we got way back in 2007. Good time of our life. We were living in Norfolk, Va., probably drinking an iced coffee and getting dumped on by an old ex or something. Well, one day, we got this e-mail in our inbox. Something seemed pretty bizarre about this e-mail. We don’t have the old page, and it no longer exists, but this company, Rapleaf, had a significant amount of information about us that it was publicly sharing with other people we didn’t know. And the service wasn’t opt-in for some reason. After getting really pissed about it and yelling and stuff, we opted out and didn’t think about it again for a while. We were reminded of this e-mail when we read the WSJ’s Facebook story today.
  • What’s going on?The WSJ investigation suggests that certain app developers have been giving away personal information about their users to services like Rapleaf, who then sell the information to marketers, who were then able to trace the users by linking their e-mails and user IDs. Rapleaf says it was unintentional.
  • LOLApps was doing it Over the weekend, Facebook game company LOLapps, known for their quizzes and other games, was kicked off of the site unexpectedly. (They’re back now after a cooling-off period.) Their platform is super-popular and has millions of users. Nobody knew why – that is, until the WSJ made it clear.
  • Don’t blame Facebook Facebook isn’t the bad guy here; they’re just the indirect conduit. We’re much more inclined to question Rapleaf. Based on our prior history with them, we can say that they have a history of directly violating end users’ privacy. And we find it hard to trust their explanation at face value. source

25 Sep 2010 17:39


Biz: Wall Street Journal as “WSJ”: You can see it from miles away

  • We blame Rupert Murdoch. One of the great icons of traditional American journalism has decided to take a design cue straight out of a 5,000-circulation weekly, taking a once-simple nameplate and making it REALLY REALLY BIG for their new weekend editions. Our buddy Charles Apple had the right thought on this whole thing, referring to the change with the headline “‘WSJ’? WTF”. It’s probably one of the worst design decisions by a major newspaper in a long, long time. It’s harsh, but honest. source

15 Aug 2010 12:05


Biz: Would you buy a tablet-only Rupert Murdoch newspaper?

  • Only if the app is better than the WSJ app. The News Corp. main man may not win any points for his paywall push or his insanely-slow Wall Street Journal app, but he’s going to make another run at the model, instead focusing on the general interest. “We’ll have young people reading newspapers,” Murdoch said during a recent earnings call. “It’s a real game changer in the presentation of news.” Just don’t make it take five minutes to download like the WSJ app. source

14 Jun 2010 21:22


Biz: Three reasons why Starbucks’ wi-fi plan could be big for newspapers

  • Smart synergy USA Today’s most brilliant move was brokering deals with hotels to give free copies of the paper to patrons. It helped them build their brand. Starbucks’ deal with the WSJ could be the modern equivalent of that, except more effective.
  • People do this already If you’ve ever been in a coffee shop, you know that copies of the newspaper are already sitting around for people to read if they so choose. This is the exact same thing without the paper waste. (Or the social elements, but alas.)
  • New business model If this works, it could effectively turn into a new revenue model for the newspaper industry, one that could be replicated in bookstores, restaurants and other public meeting places. Hope the WSJ is getting paid well for this.

01 Jun 2010 23:24


Tech: Steve Jobs would rather quit than let Gizmodo win

  • You know, when this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got advice from people who said ‘you gotta just let it slide, you shouldn’t go after a journalist just because they bought stolen property and tried to extort you.’ … I can’t do that. I’d rather quit.
  • Steve Jobs • Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference – very frankly in many ways. He touched on a lot of topics in the Q&A segment, noting among other things: He had no idea this e-mail thread was with a dude from ValleyWag, iPhone OS was originally designed for a tablet like the iPad, Adobe made a big stink about Flash only after the iPad’s release, and, well, this. This is the money quote from the whole thing. source

04 Apr 2010 11:50


Politics: Peggy Noonan: The Catholic Church isn’t as all-powerful as it thinks

  • It is damage that will last at least a generation. It is an actual catastrophe, a rolling catastrophe that became public first in the United States, now in Europe. It has lowered the standing, reputation and authority of the church. This will have implications down the road.
  • Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan • Regarding the crisis the Catholic Church is facing right now, one that’s touched every part of the religion. It’s especially painful on Easter, of all days, to consider this. Noonan makes a key point in her argument: Like Wall Street and legislators in Washington (who have rung up a huge health care bill), higher-ups in the Vatican have considered the Church so powerful as to be invulnerable. And it’s not. And there are consequences. source

04 Apr 2010 10:39


Tech: Early thoughts: The iPad as news curation tool (is it worth it?)

  • Our take? It depends on the app. Right now, the iPad does three things really well. It allows you to surf the Web at nearly the same clip as a laptop, it rules at non-Flash video playback, and it allows you to read the news better than either a newspaper or Web browser. For a 1.0 product, this is polished. But we’re journalism nerds that read a lot of links, so let’s focus our appeal. How is reading and curating news on this thing, anyway? (Hint: Pretty good.)

First: What a good news app needs

  • one A simple format that makes it easier, not harder, to read the news. It’s not a newspaper or a Web site; it’s a little of both
  • two An easy way to share content – you should be able to copy quotes, tweet links, and e-mail articles to a friend (or yourself)
  • three A solid offline reading mode – these apps need to be able to work without a wi-fi connection nearby; all of the apps had this

Second: The best news apps

  • best The Reuters app is
    easy to scan, and
    best-formatted for
    the iPad. It’s also
    the one that tried to
    look least like a
  • great The USA Today
    app has a mix of
    strong readability,
    easy organization,
    and smart uses of
    swiping. It’s nearly
    as good as the
    Reuters app.
  • eh The New York
    app isn’t
    bad, but its body
    type isn’t on the grid. The Wall Street Journal app tends to overreact
    to tiny movements.
  • wtf The Associated
    app went all
    scrapbook with
    their format, which
    is OK – for a
    scrapbook. For
    reading hard news,
    it’s very annoying.

Third: Twitter on the iPad

  • Best balance Twitterrific was designed for the iPad the way that one would expect someone to use an iPad Twitter app. The use of Twitter lists, for example, makes for great news-reading. Less is more in this case.

  • Most complex TweetDeck could stand to be a little less complicated right now. It loads too many windows at once and comes across as a bit bloated and overwhelming. A bit more interface furniture to clean up the look would help this greatly.

  • Best mashup As many people know, the EchoFon/Firefox setup is hard to top for reading linked tweets, and TweetBrowser goes a long way to replicate that on the iPad. Only issue: We wish we could hide the feed in the horizontal format.
  • » One side note: Webkit’s skills at rendering the Twitter web apps are mostly pretty good. The web version of Hootsuite is actually better than the iPad-native version of TweetDeck on the iPad. Threadsy also works great, as does the Web version of Seesmic. You’ll have to use a two-finger swipe to navigate, though, which can be cumbersome.

Overall: What did we think?

  • » What we like: It’s a good reading format, and Safari could handle nearly everything we threw at it (except the TinyMCE rich-text editor, which means it sucks for blogging because WordPress uses that). The format is awesome for video and music. Once Hulu and Spotify get apps on here, it’s seriously a one-stop shop. Also, being able to load articles on the device and take it on the wi-fi-less D.C. Metro was downright perfect.
  • » What we don’t like: It can be hard to hold the device upright, especially if you’re not sitting at a table. It’s strange that Apple didn’t consider putting a kickstand on the back. The keyboard is usable but not heavy-duty. Apple should consider putting in (or allowing) additional keyboard setups that make it more usable for typing in HTML. Right now, it’s a serious chore.
  • » What we want to see: Surprisingly, we don’t miss multitasking on the iPad – it actually wasn’t noticeable for most apps. But we think someone needs to create a single app that mixes social media, web browsing and blogging/word processing. TweetBrowser gets the first two down, but WordPress‘ app isn’t designed for this at all. We smell opportunity (eh, Tumblr?).

31 Mar 2010 23:42


Tech: Walt Mossberg: You have to use the iPad to understand its appeal

The influential Wall Street Journal technology reviewer’s take? It’s a great new type of computing device, but with some downsides that don’t sink it. source

29 Mar 2010 11:12


Politics: WSJ illustration: NY Times’ top dude LOOKS LIKE A LAY-DAY!

  • See that face right there in the middle? That’s unmistakably the face of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger. In a story about feminine-looking male faces. In the Wall Street Journal. Did Rupert Murdoch just lay a personal attack on his competition? We think he did. source