Friday, March 25, 2011

Morning Brief: Contradictory news from Japan; Journalism Online price estimate; a poor iPad app update from ABC

The blacklisted cable news channel, Al Jazeera English, reports that Japan's Prime Minister warned that the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant had become "unpredictable", while also reporting that officials said the situation was improving.

Several workers were apparently severely injured when they stepped into a pool of radioactive water, the water seeping over their protective boots.

The New York Times, whose reporting on the crisis has come under criticism for sensationalistic elements, this morning is saying that Japanese officials have expanded the area where they are "encouraging" citizens to evacuate.

The Financial Times weighs in this morning on the sale of Journalism Online to R.R. Donnelley, saying that the Steve Brill start-up timed its sale well, pointing to the institution of the the NYT paywall.
About two dozen customers of Journalism Online, their venture, have deployed its Press+ tools, but progress has been slower than expected in the depths of the advertising recession, when publishers suddenly seemed willing to try anything, from micropayments to paywalls around their content. Many newspapers were waiting to see if the New York Times could pull the trick off, Mr Crovitz suggested.
Despite selling the company, founder Brill was talking up the company, claiming that "Everybody's gotten the new religion," regarding the need for some form of paywall.

And I think that is a good way of saying it: a religion, as journalists appear to have been eager to grab hold of a philosophy that says their content is worth paying for, while at the same time dismissing the more advertising-oriented thinking that higher traffic will drive advertising dollars.

Meanwhile, is saying that their sources place the value of the sale at close to $35 to $45 million -- co-founder Gordon Crovitz saying they are "very happy with this transaction.” But the price is about the equivalent of a minor consumer magazine, essentially chump change for R.R. Donnelley, a company that did $9.8 billion in revenue last year, though it also lost $27 million (and dramatic improvement, though, on its $127 million loss in 2009).

ABC has updated its iPad app, ABC Player, but users are still complaining of the poor quality of video displayed in the app.

The ABC app was one of the first released following the launch of Apple's tablet last year, but quality issues have continually plagued the application. In addition to poor quality video, centering on resolution issues, ABC has had service outages on a fairly regular basis. As a result, one of the nation's largest broadcasters has gotten a reputation for, of all things, poor broadcasting.

Even worse is the fact that ABC has not made their iPad app AirPlay enabled, possibly to avoid complaints from their cable and satellite partners.