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Posts tagged ‘media’

The closure of the News of the World – The end of investigative journalism?

The final ever edition of the News of the World rolled off the presses yesterday ending 168 years of world exclusives, sex scandals and a plethora of showbiz revelations.

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Radioplayer launches with 150 stations

A new internet radio service offering live streaming and on-demand content from the BBC and a large number of commercial and local radio stations has launched.

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Wired magazine launches in the UK – But is it really plugged in?

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The eagerly anticipated re-launch (a previous attempt failed fourteen years ago) of Wired, the magazine about what’s next, hit UK stores last week, but was some what of a disappointment.

Whilst launching a new magazine in an economic downturn, particularly one which failed to capture the interest of UK readers first time around, is some what questionable, Wired’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel that new or innovative.

Although there are some interesting articles like: ‘How the iPlayer saved the BBC’ and ‘Your life is a number’ a large majority of the magazine is pictorial. The magazine is full of sexy shots of new technology, including 3 double page spreads of circuit boards and wiring and 10 pages of speakers and other musical equipment, with very little copy to support it. This unfortunately just comes across as porn for geeks rather than supporting the magazine’s strap-line – ‘the future as it happens’.

In many ways this is the root of Wired’s problem. It doesn’t appear to be practicing what it is preaching, or at the very least, not in the way the reader expects. A magazine is hardly the format for getting up to speed with the latest developments in technology and innovative engineering. Monthly magazines prepare content months in advance, so if Wired’s statement is that it delivers – ‘the future as it happens’ – it’s arguments and stories can hardly be as groundbreaking as they claim, if they are only confined to a monthly publication rather than a constantly updated website, fully rooted in Web 2.0.

New Editor David Rowan told  The Guardian “There are quite a lot of magazines in Britain doing products, with girls in bikinis with iPhones. That wasn’t us.” He added that what Wired UK aims to do “is not fluff or bullshit: its data”. That may be so but the result is a large number of pieces which fail to capitalise on their content, most notably an interview with Twitter CEO Evan Williams.

Despite all this though, Wired does show potential. Its website has a number of original stories uploaded daily and the concept of informing the masses about the changing nature of the web and technology has a lot of scope. However its focus and the way in which this data is packaged needs addressing. In basic terms the magazine tries to hard to cram in to much at the expense of detail. Whilst graphically stunning throughout, it is this which distracts and confuses the reader. For Wired to work it needs to simplify its message and design and focus more on copy, so that reader doesn’t feel robbed or left out of the loop, which Wired is clearly trying to bring the reader into.

In conclusion, whilst the model appears to work in the US, since launching in 1993, it would seem that Wired would have benefited from taking the Maxim approach, investing solely in its online counterpart.

Popular free music site Spotify hits 1 million users

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The popular streaming music service Spotify has hit the one million user mark, it was announced today.

For those who are unfamiliar with this new innovation to the technological world, Spotifyallows users to listen to a wide range of tracks from major record labels such as Sony BMG, EMI and Warner for free.  

The only downside to this fantastic new service is that users can expect to hear an advert broadcast every so often. It’s only usually played after 30 minutes of continuous listening, so is not really a massive inconvenience. It this which provides the revenue needed to pay labels, although there are ad-free accounts available for a monthly or daily fee.

The one-millionth-user was registered at 19.50 GMT yesterday. The boost in users comes off the back of the decision to abandon the initial invite-only period in favour of a freely accessible sign up option.

A statement posted by Andres on on the Spotify blog read: “Late last night we passed a big milestone in our history, at 19.50 GMT we registered our one millionth Spotify user!

“Our user growth has been amazing since we launched back in October, in particular the past few weeks have been phenomenal and growth continues to pick up speed.

“We can only thank our users who have been great at spreading the word for us and we look forward to our next big milestone.”

The Stockholm-based company, whose founders include Martin Lorentzon, previously co-founder of TradeDoubler, and Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek, opened for business in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Norway and Sweden, on October 7 last year.

Spotify UK sales director, Jon Mitchell said: “More innovative and curious advertisers were quick to explore how we could help them reach our rapidly growing user base.

“The UK press interest in Spotify over the past few weeks has definitely contributed to increased demand for our advertiser team.”

U2 album No Line on the Horizon was made available on Spotify a week before release (Picture guardian.co.uk)

U2 album No Line on the Horizon was made available on Spotify a week before release (Picture guardian.co.uk)

However some concerns have been raised over what impact the growth of Spotifywill have on the music industry long term. While the days of using iTunes may be fading away, as Chris Jefferies warned last month, this new way of listening to music could severely damage sales. 

Chris said in his blog post, ‘Spotify the difference’: “Yesterday, I listened to the new Morrissey album, Years of Refusal. Hot off the press, came out that day. I listened to the whole thing without any loading time and although it’s quite good I probably won’t buy it.”

Whilst record companies may argue that the Spotify model may help to reduce piracy it seems that if more and more people use the service like Chris music lovers may no longer feel the need to buy music. However that seems like a long way off. Spotify does not allow listeners to keep any of the tracks they listen to. Despite this, the ability for users to ‘try before they buy’ may prevent people from purchasing albums on interest, already listened to the track online. As a result album buying may therefore become far more selective with purchases being dictated solely by fans who  love the music or artist rather than an impulse purchase.

I am not criticising the Spotify model though. I will freely admit to being an avid user. However with the music industry becoming increasingly reliant on events like the Brit Awards to boost flagging sales Spotify’s growth may prove to be popular with music fans but a headache for artists and the record labels behind them in the future.

 Spotify has not yet been given the go-ahead for non-European markets, and the ad-funded service is only available in the UK, France, Spain Sweden Norway and Finland – with some nations still requiring an invite to get an account.

Spotify has not yet been given the go-ahead for non-European markets, and the ad-funded service is only available in the UK, France, Spain Sweden Norway and Finland – with some nations still requiring an invite to get an account. Last week, the site offered users exclusive access to hear U2’s new album a week before release.

Christmas Day Review

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Christmas Day TV usually fails to deliver, so the return of Wallace and Gromit yesterday  was a well received treat. Thirteen years since their last TV adventure in A Close Shave, Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death delivered on all levels, making it the most watched programme of the day with 14.25m viewers and a peak of 15.88m. 

The 29 minute short mock murder mystery following the famous duo as they set up a new bakery business, was full of in-jokes and references to previous adventures to satisfy long term fans, with Gromit’s classic facial expressions at Wallace’s incompetence and stupidity stealing the limelight.

Whilst the plot followed the usual Wallace and Gromit formula, the laughs came thick and fast providing a much needed break from the now controversial Strictly Come Dancing and the Christmas Special plagued by another voting crisis following the well publicised  semi-final debacle.

The problem with Strictly’s seasonal outing, was whilst it was good Christmas viewing, it felt somewhat flat with Jill Halfpenny scooping the top prize unexpectedly. The show was however more enjoyable  than viewing rival Dancing on Ice which lacked any substance, clearly drafted in as a reaction to the very popular Strictly on the other side. 

Doctor Who provided the same old classic Christmas entertainment with the formidable Cyberman returning alongside ‘other’ Doctor David Morrissey, the soaps served up their usual misery and the annual Top of the Pops revival added to the days festive line up. 

Overall however with some fantastic films, the day more than made up for the dull Christmas Midsommer Murders and incredibly much publicised and disappointingly un-funny Gavin and Stacey on Christmas Eve.

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