Thursday, April 06, 2006

San Francisco Wi-Fi; Fake TV News; Alternate Business Models

Odds and Ends:

1. The city of San Francisco announced yesterday that Google/Earthlink won the bidding process to build a citywide wi-fi network. From many perspectives, the Google/Earthlink proposal is terrible. Media Alliance jumped into the fray:

Media Alliance joined with numerous other organizations to urge City officials to press for stronger public interest provisions in light of yesterday's announcement that Google/ Earthlink won the bidding process to build a citywide Wi-fi network. The bid by media darling Google, owned by close friends of Mayor Newsom, was rated poorly on “right to privacy" considerations and connection speed, and lacked funding for bridging the digital divide.

2. The Center for Media and Democracy is releasing a new report, "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed," which, says the release, "will offer the most detailed picture available to date of TV newsrooms' use of sponsored broadcast material." CMD will be launching a multimedia Web site showing both video news releases and their broadcast as "news" by TV stations and networks. Check it out.

3. In the current issue of The New Atlantis, Glenn Reynolds provides an overview of the blogging revolution. I found this observation and business model proposal intriguing:

Big institutions aren't the only way to have a reputation anymore. As Web-based outfits like and Slashdot are demonstrating, it's possible to have reputation without bureaucracy. Want to know whether you can rely on what someone says? Click on his profile and you can see what other people have said about him, and what he's said before, giving you a pretty good idea of his reliability and his biases. That's more than you can do for the person whose name sits atop a story in the New York Times (where, as with many Big Media outfits, archives are pay-only and feedback is limited).

An organization that put together a network of freelance journalists under a framework that allowed for that sort of reputation rating, and that paid based on the number of pageviews and the ratings that each story received, would be more like a traditional newspaper than a blog, but it would still be a major change from the newspapers of today. Interestingly, it might well be possible to knit together a network of bloggers into the beginnings of such an organization. With greater reach and lower costs than a traditional newspaper, it might bring something new and competitive to the news business.


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