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Marketing The Economist

In a recent CMRC book chapter on future sustainable news models, the authors point to the recent success of The Economist as an example of a print product that has thrived in the digital age. In spite of declining circulation rates throughout the magazine industry, its circulation has doubled in the past seven years.

How has the news magazine managed to flourish in these digital times? New York Times Reporter Jeremy W. Peters looks at the clever marketing campaigns that have helped The Economist establish itself as a status symbol. It sells itself as a necessity for personal and social advancement.

“Once upon a time, there was an ambitious young man who didn’t read The Economist. The End,” read one particularly audacious ad from 2004. Another, from 1988 said, “I never read The Economist — Management Trainee. Age 42.” One from 2001 said, “Look forward to class reunions.”

Economist Managing Director Paul Rossi says the British weekly does not define its audience according to demographics such as affluence. Instead, it defines its audience by “what they think.” In fact, the British weekly is becoming known as a hip product in some U.S. circles.

Until recently, The Economist could be bought at, of all places, Freemans Sporting Club, a high-end Greenwich Village boutique that sells $189 plaid button-downs and $396 suede boots. Explained the store’s manager, Jesse Johnson, “We started carrying it because we just felt it was relevant to have.”

NYT Article: The Economist Tends Its Sophisticate Garden

Evaluating trust among ‘digital natives’

Today’s youth are the first generation who have never known a world without the internet. Therefore, realizing they are not necessarily more web savvy than others can be surprising. According to a new study released by Northwestern University, this is indeed the case: many young adults rely on the prominence of web search rankings to determine whether they should access content, rather than evaluating the actual website’s features. Overall, web search and brand recognition play a prominent role when young adults evaluate online news and information.

The quantitative and qualitative study examined the behaviours of 1,600 first-year U.S. university students, most ranging from 18 to 19 years of age. It looked at the factors involved when web users decide whether they should trust what they are reading online.

For many young adults, searching online is just as important as verifying websites when assessing the credibility of online information.

“To complete many of the assigned tasks, students often turned to a particular search engine as their first step. When using a search engine, many students clicked on the first search result. Over a quarter of respondents mentioned that they chose a Web site because the search engine had returned that site as the first result suggesting considerable trust in these services. In some cases, the respondent regarded the search engine as the relevant entity for which to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than the Web site that contained the information.”

What is more, when asked where they look for current events and information, young adults often rely on offline and online brands to assess the quality of news and information they are consuming.

“We found that mentions of corporate brands dominated students’ reported habits, with 63% of all respondents mentioning a corporate brand as part of their routine search behavior. Nineteen percent of participants mentioned the Google brand as part of a routine.”

More: Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content

Flickr photo: decembercrimson

Objectivity in today’s news cycle

With the recent discussion surrounding the dismissal of CNN Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr for sharing personal political opinions on Twitter, when and where is it appropriate for journalists to share their opinions?

On CBC Radio One’s Q, Stephen Ward, director of the Centre for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former director of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, discusses the state of objectivity in today’s news environment.

Click here to listen.

Flickr image: malix

The realities of online labour

Tracking page views, churning out an abundance of content, joining the business side of operations, the challenges of online media have required journalists to reconsider their roles within news organizations, and take on new responsibilities.

Recently, many in the media have looked at the difficulties that writers face when producing online news and information. From large and successful news websites to emerging ‘content farms,’ many are realizing that online work can come with added pressures.

Here are some highlights of recent media coverage:

The New York Times examines how burnout is affecting young online journalists. Especially in online news organizations, journalist are increasingly expected to partake in the business side of operations.

The Globe and Mail’s Lisan Jutras looks at how the immediate accessibility of new media tools can sometimes land journalists in hot water for sharing their personal opinions.

In an excellent series on ‘content farms,’ PBS MediaShift examines media organizations that focus on large-scale content production to maximize profitability. It looks at their editorial approach; what life can be like for the journalists who produce mass content; how content farms prepare writers to write for the web; and how hyper-local sites compensate their writers.

Finally, AdAge inspects the culture of pro-bono news websites and what drives writers to provide them with free content.

Flickr image: Andrew Stawarz

UBC journalism students earn two Emmy nominations

Ten students from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism were nominated for two Emmy Awards for their news documentary Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground. Led by UBC Assistant Professor Peter Klein, the documentary, which was aired on PBS Frontline World, garnered nominations in two categories: Outstanding Investigative Journalism and Outstanding Research. It is the first time that Canadian university students have been nominated for an Emmy in a news category.

For Digital Dumping Ground, students traced the path of electronic waste around the globe, to Ghana, China and India, and discovered public health, human rights and national security concerns.  The documentary also received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for best documentary of the year from the Society for Professional Journalists earlier this year, and it was nominated for another US prize, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.

“People work their entire careers to get any of these awards,” said Prof. Klein, “so it’s pretty special that our students achieved this recognition for the great work they’ve done so early in their careers.”

The UBC Graduate School of Journalism is a partner institution of the CMRC. More »

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground »

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