Thursday, October 13, 2011

Morning Brief: RIM says it that its BlackBerry service is improving following outage; Georgia-based Morris Communications the latest to proclaim itself 'digital first'

It is never good to become the subject of a joke. For Research In Motion, a company with more than enough troubles already, that is what it is experiencing following a massive outage of its email service caused by problems related to work being done in a facility in the U.K.

"Got an iPhone? Turn it into a virtual 'Blackberry by enabling airplane mode," one tweet read.

But while tech and media writers could joke about RIM's problems, BlackBerry owners were furious – not only at the outage, but in the way the company was dealing with the failures. It was not until late yesterday afternoon, two days after the start of the problem, that Robin Bienfait, Chief Information Officer at RIM, posted a lengthy explanation of the issues users were facing.

"I want to first apologize for the service interruptions and delays many of you have been experiencing this week," wrote on the company's community site. "I also wanted to connect with you directly, give you an update on the service issues we are trying to solve, and answer some of the questions and concerns you’ve expressed."

Five hours later, late last night, Bienfait wrote that BlackBerry service, at least in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, was improving and Mike Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of the comapny, posted a video update on the situation: is confirming word that the Financial Times is closing FT Tilt. FT Tilt is s a subscription-based online financial news and analysis blog created along the lines of the influential alphaville blog.

Editor Stacy-Marie Ishmael confirmed the report with a recent post that starts out simply "FT Tilt is closing."

The site was an attempt to create a news site that was a subscription-based blog – a noble experiment that would have required massive buy in my readers to succeed. It didn't, unfortunately.

Morris Communications of Augusta, Georgia, is the latest newspaper company to say it is going "digital first", a phrase that I thought had died a decade ago but now seems to be making a comeback.

The company made a few personnel changes including making Michael R. Romaner, president of Morris DigitalWorks the new executive vice president of digital for the company. They have also named Mark E. Lane from The Florida Times-Union as vice president of sales for both print and digital, and Robert R. Gilbert with Morris DigitalWorks will become veep of audience.

"We are transforming ourselves into a 21st-century media company," William S. Morris III said in the company's press release. "The people and businesses we serve are moving quickly from print to digital, and we are determined to keep leading the way in meeting their needs in all the markets we serve."

The announcement does not say exactly what Morris is planning to do to become "digital first", and if you were a cynical person (newspaper folk aren't cynical, are they?) you might read into this that the company is simply merging its digital company into its traditional print company.