Thursday, September 15, 2011

Morning Brief: A billion here, a billion there, soon it adds up to real money; The Guardian's U.S. URL goes live; should the web really look like print?

The Swiss global financial services company UBS early this morning had one of its traders, 31-year old Kweku Adoboli, arrested by City of London police in connection with a bit of trading gone array – £1.3 billion worth (or around $2 billion).

UBS issued a rather dry statement: "UBS has discovered a loss due to unauthorised trading by a trader in its Investment bank. The matter is still being investigated, but UBS's current estimate of the loss on the trades is in the range of $2bn."

So how did this happen? No one seems to be sure, if the stories in the WSJ and other financial papers are to be believed. But since the banking industry has been playing Russian Roulette with the world's economy for so long, no one seems terribly surprised either.

The Guardian unveiled its new U.S. news URL yesterday – – as its New York based division begins publishing. Janine Gibson, who was formerly in charge of the U.K. Guardian website, will run the NY operation.
"The site will be a gradual build," Gibson said yesterday, "which will allow us to monitor audiences and grow according to behavior and what our users want – we're starting small but thinking big. It's fantastic to know that we will have the freedom to innovate and experiment with new forms of digital journalism with the full support of the Guardian brand behind us."

(Brit spelling corrected in the quote – just saying.)

The bad news for me is that U.S. readers will be automatically redirected to the U.S. edition and will have to switch back manually to the U.K. edition. I really don't like that and seems like an attempt to drive up the numbers of the new site without losing any traffic from the U.K. site. That means that even though I want the U.K. site, I'll have to go through the U.S. one first. I wonder how many media buyers will discover the gimmick and choose to not believe the Guardian's numbers?

I'm sure a few TNM readers noticed the comments from Flipboard founder Mike McCue: "so the Web will look quite different in five years–more like print."

Forbes' headline was that the web would look more like magazines in the future, not quite the same thing, but that's a minor quibble.

The question I would have is "is this a good thing?" Further, I think some publishers are hoping this is true but they shouldn't.

The fact is that the web has been, and will continue to be, a different and separate platform from print, and if publishers think that making their websites look like print products will solve their New Media woes, well they are in for a big surprise.

My feeling is that print people would like to see the web look more like print in the future, but I would guess that companies like Google know better.

I see that British Prime Minister David Cameron is urging Moammar Gadhafi and his followers to give up the fight, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy is promising support for Libya's new government.

One thing that seems apparent is that neither leader wants to bring in President Obama into the discussion. Maybe they have seen his negotiating skills at work in the U.S. and fear he'll give Gadahfi half of Europe in exchange for his leaving Libya.