Archive for the ‘media’ Category

As someone involved in the media business, I was both interested and puzzled by some of the statements from the new Publishing Division of the Chamber of Commerce, announced this week.

The division said its priority was to restrict publishers of foreign-produced Bermuda publications like Fast Track,, Bermuda Wedding & Honeymoon, and Destination Bermuda from selling advertising to local businesses. It also claims that local publishers do not get the chance to bid on publications like the Bermuda Airport Magazine, which is supported by the Ministry of Transport.

According to spokesman Ian Coles of Bermuda Media, “more than $2 million in advertising revenue leaves the island each year, with no substantive financial benefit to Bermuda. Some advertisers are not aware that they are supporting an overseas enterprise. These overseas publishers operate in direct competition to our companies, which pay local taxes, employ Bermudians, rent office space and do business with a myriad of local suppliers and utilities.”

Falling ad revenues and the disruptive influence of the internet mean these are extremely challenging times for all publishers but some of these comments struck me as either naive wishful thinking or smacked of unproductive head-in-the-sand protectionism.

At the very least it appears to underestimate the nature of global competition that affects every business in Bermuda, while chastising local advertisers for supporting “overseas enterprises” is a bit rich coming from publishers that print virtually all of their magazines overseas and frequently employ overseas writers, editors, photographers, voiceover talent and designers. What’s good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.

In the case of Government publications, there is surely an obligation to explore all local production options first. But to infer that just because someone had a better idea that you somehow deserve a piece of the action is nonsense in a free market economy

Besides, many of these overseas magazines spend money on the island by hiring local writers, photographers, designers and sales people. And also don’t many of these publications directly benefit Bermuda in terms of exposure and promoting local businesses and services?

The main reasons they do not print here are firstly because local printers can neither compete financially nor handle the large print runs required. Also, as the main distribution may take place in North America or elsewhere, it simply doesn’t make sense for them to use a Bermuda printer.

It’s hard to see where the chamber’s argument leads. Apart from the work permit issue, what’s next – insist all “Bermuda” publications are printed here or face punitive import duty? Talk about turkeys voting for Christmas!

And while we’re at it, what about ads produced by overseas agencies for local companies? Is the next step to insist local magazines only carry ads designed and produced locally?

And by extension does the chamber think that local advertisers shouldn’t buy space on international websites? It is the ubiquity of an always-on Internet and mobile devices that are the real long-term threat to physical publications. Indeed, calling for tougher work permit restrictions on overseas sales people is likely to be ineffective as solicitation by email and phone is so easy.

Opposing it is, as one colleague aptly put it, like using a cage as a fish tank. Outsourcing, technology and the global competition that comes with it are facts of life.

Not everyone will successfully adapt and thrive in the face of relentless change but perhaps we should perhaps do a little less whinging and work harder to improve local products.
Advertisers will support whatever product or platform best reaches their target market and local companies that think nothing of outsourcing their back office operations for the most couldn’t care less where that media come from.

It seems to me that creativity and quality are our best chance of keeping more of those advertising dollars on-island, not heavy-handed, self-serving protectionism.

[Disclosure: I have written extensively for Bermuda Media, The Bermudian, and The Royal Gazette publications and am a former editor of The Bottom Line, RG Magazine and Destination Bermuda. I presently place client advertising with local and international media.]

February 1993: Stephen Raynor's portrait of runner Jennifer Fisher and her children graced our first cover.

It’s either a curse or merely a sign of the times. With the news that the December 2011 issue of RG Magazine will be the last, it means that every publication on which I have worked full-time in my career (bar The Royal Gazette) has folded!

My first newspaper, the Bucks Examiner in my hometown of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, now masquerades as the “Buckinghamshire Examiner” under its new owners, but it is no longer printed in or operated from Chesham and no self-respecting local regards it as the same paper.

The Evening Post-Echo in Hemel Hempstead was closed down in 1983, the year after I came to Bermuda (damn, missed out on the redundancy money!), and the Mid-Ocean News, of which I was sports editor from 1984-1992, shut down in 2009.

I’m particularly sad about the demise of RG Magazine, though, sunk it seems by dwindling ad sales caused by both the economic climate and increased competition from internet advertising. I was its founding editor when it launched in February 1993 until I left to start Kaleidoscope Media in August 2001, so it was very much my baby.

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A bold statement of intent from UK newspaper The Guardian today, saying that it was planning a major transformation, turning itself into a digital-first news organisation.

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief (pictured above) said “inexorable trends” in media consumption meant The Guardian would “move beyond the newspaper, shifting focus, effort and investment towards digital, because that is our future”.

Andrew Miller, chief executive of parent company Guardian Media Group said it was “embarking on a major transformation that will see us change from a print-based organisation to one that is digital-first in philosophy and practice”.

Said Rusbridger: “Every newspaper is on a journey into some kind of digital future. That doesn’t mean getting out of print, but it does require a greater focus of attention, imagination and resource on the various forms that digital future is likely to take.”

Rusbridger said The Guardian would continue to promote what it calls “open journalism” – collaborative editorial content that is linked into and networked with the rest of the Internet.

The Guardian predicts its digital revenues from web, mobile and other services will double in the next five years.

Tommy Aitchison (right), reminiscing with Austin (Cheesey) Hughes in 2005.

I was very sad to hear of Tommy Aitchison’s passing last night. Although as a lifelong cricket lover and historian of the local game, he would be the first to admit that at 95, he’d had a “good innings”.

I will forever be indebted to Tommy because when I first came to Bermuda as a sports journalist in 1982 he was a generous and invaluable source and guide to Bermuda cricket at a time when the Bermuda Cricket Board of Control was a complete shambles in terms of results and statistics. In a pre-internet age and little written history of Bermuda sports available then, Tommy was a godsend to an expat reporter.

Were it not for his painstaking – and voluntary – efforts, many of the Cup Match and County Cup records would simply never have been recorded or preserved.  Incredibly, he compiled these from scratch twice because his original stats, left with a colleague for safe-keeping when Tommy moved to the US for 20 years, were thrown away.

It was through Tommy’s enthusiastic recollections that I first learned about the exploits of Bermudian cricketing legends like Alma (Champ) Hunt, Nigel (Chopper) Hazel, and Clarence (Tuppence) Parfitt, that formed the basis of many articles I wrote over the years as sports editor of the Mid-Ocean News (Tommy had also been its sports editor, back in the days when it was an afternoon daily).

We worked on many cricket annuals and projects together over the years and remained good friends. In 2005 I was privileged to edit and produce the publication he said he was most proud of, A True Bermudian Champion, a tribute to the great all-rounder Austin (Cheesy) Hughes.

Tommy’s journalism was sometimes criticised, with some justification, because he rarely wrote anything bad about anyone – even if they deserved it. But that was just Tommy. Whether he was writing about cricket, his beloved late wife Lois, or his former wartime army colleagues, whose obituaries he would diligently produce for The Royal Gazette, he always looked for the positive in everything. And he never asked for a cent. I remember him being taken aback when I first asked him to write an article for RG Magazine and insisted that he got paid for it!

Tommy’s writing and gentlemanly good humour may now seem from another era but that’s what made him so beloved. And I for one shall miss him dearly.

Read on for a short biography of Tommy I wrote to accompany the Austin Hughes book:

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Setting a new Standard

Posted: April 20, 2011 in iPad, iPhone, media, Technology

With the plethora of devices on the market, designing a website – especially a news media one – that works well on all platforms is getting to be more of a headache. Many companies are finding themselves having to develop apps for specific devices – PC, smartphone (with separate versions for Blackberry, Android and iPhone) and iPads and tablets.

The recently launched Toronto Standard  however, is an elegant example of a one-stop solution.

The site features a “liquid layout” built by Toronto design firm Playground Digital which automatically adapts content to suit a reader’s device, whether it’s a desktop or an iPad, thus eliminating the need for device-specific apps.

It looks superb and works really well. And it certainly sets “a new Standard” – the original Toronto Standard last published in 1850, as a printed newspaper, having lasted just two years in business!

If you’re interested in finding out more about adding adaptive elements for your website, Net. magazine also has a good tutorial.

Brave new media world

Posted: March 30, 2011 in internet, media, video
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Journalism is changing so fast these days that career advice about entering the business is becoming outdated and irrelevant. With print media seemingly struggling to survive and electronic media under pressure from the internet, “uber-blogger” Robert Scoble says would-be journos today need to be multi-tasking entrepreneurs and should look for options outside traditional media.

MediaShift . Video: Robert Scoble on How to Build a Career in Media | PBS.

The Atavist is an intriguing new take on digital publishing. Founded by two former Wired writers/editors, it aims to be a home for the type of long-form journalism that is disappearing fast as publications fold and the web fragments into social media and soundbites.

Basically, Atavist produces original, in-depth articles that it offers like music tracks for iPad/iPhone, Kindle or Nook (Android versions are in the pipeline). Prices range from $1.99 for a text-and-photos version to $2.99 for a fully-loaded article with audiobook – you can switch between text and audio without losing your place – and other multimedia content and features.

Atavist says it sees its articles as “a new genre of nonfiction, a digital form that lies in the space between long narrative magazine articles and traditional books and e-books”.

See also: Long-form journalism finds a home (New York Times).