Archive for October, 2009

New media poster boy Stephen Fry is one of the biggest names in the Twitter universe and has long-embraced the net to build his personal brand, but even he seems to struggle to make cash directly from the web.

Recently his Smallfry company announced the launch of a network of celebrity sites – a collective to monetise the activities of the already pretty rich online.

As an interesting aside to the news it emerged that is struggling to make ad revenues, despite attracting upwards of one million unique users per month* (corrected figure).

Andrew Sampson, co-managing director of SamFry with Fry said: “We’re just taking network ads and are looking at other options.

“We’re only selling 50% of the inventory. At the moment we’re at the lowest yield, it’s not even worth talking about the number we’re getting in terms of revenue, but we are addressing that.”

So, Fry is making pennies per thousand clicks, despite his immense pulling power. Still, I wouldn’t mind betting those pennies add up to a few quid in the end…


Interesting words from the MD of NewsNow, Struan Bartlett, in an open letter to newspapers of all shapes and sizes.

He’s responding to concerns from mainstream news outlets that aggregators are stealing our content.

Bartlett writes: “The truth is, if anything, it is the growth of the internet itself – not link aggregation – that has undermined your business by destroying the virtual monopoly you once held over the mass distribution of written news…”

Certainly Newsnow helps – rising as high as number four in our monthly top referers list – and I only see it as a positive influence on our site. It enables us to compete on a level playing field with the ‘big boys’ who have urls which are more likely to be saved in someone’s favourites list. And it brings new users to our site in a way our sometimes sub-optimal search engine optimisation rarely manages.

>> Full text of Struan Bartlett’s open letter to newspaper chiefs

Just a note to say that I am now getting stuck into a part-time role as an academic tutor at the University of Sunderland.

Ran a session with journalism students today on Photo Story 3 in which they created their own slideshow from scratch. They seemed to enjoy having a tangible product at the end. And hopefully they appreciated the context of the lesson which was designed to show how a free, quick and easy tool can turn a two-dimensional story into compelling content that will generate significant traffic for a site.

Slideshows often out-perform videos on And they’re handy when it comes to covering poignant stories which are too sensitive for video intrusion, such as Sharon Dyer’s funeral.

Better still, applications such as Photo Story 3 can be learned in a few minutes and produce professional results in a matter of seconds.

>> Download Photo Story 3 for Windows

How do you measure the success of a news website? How do you quantify its reach and popularity for the benefit of advertisers? Maybe there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all answer.

The current ABCe measure of different pairs of eyes on a site each month – unique users (UUs) – sometimes feels like about the worst fudge you could get from a regional newspaper viewpoint. 

The trouble is, successfully attracting UUs is less about serving a community with content, more about appealling to as many different groups as possible. Fine, perhaps, for a national site which is gunning for a global audience on just about every topic going. But I have a problem with it for local news sites. Continue Reading »

Desperate for a clip of a creaking door for your Halloween vid? Need a bangin’ tune to accompany your weekly clubbing slideshow? Is your digital budget a big, fat zero? Here are a few links to royalty-free sound effect and music sites which you may find useful.

Oh, and they aren’t trying to sell your ringtones by the back door…

Sound effects

Music (usually requiring credit, but free)

iPhone at last

The long wait is over. A couple of weeks back I finally got my hands on an iPhone, which means I can now blog on the go with relative ease.

I know – call me Mr. Early Adopter.

In fact now I have ditched my enormous Nokia N95 – which I loved for it’s video capabilities – I can rarely be bothered to fire up my laptop for browsing.

Mind you, all those trips to McDonalds restaurants and chain pubs to use their free WIFi – I’m such a cheapskate and my employers won’t stump up for a dongle – have taken their toll.

My fingers are so bloated after a steady diet of web browsing with regular side orders of onion rings that this post has taken me ten minutes to hammer out.

Still – check out my new phone…