Saturday, June 7, 2008

Eyetracking studies refuted

Skeptics abound in our business, and that is a good thing since the world is split into many shades of truth. Here's a skeptic on Poynter's eyetracking studies. The essay is at

It seems quite extreme, but has some good points.

Friday, June 6, 2008

College newspapers thriving

How about some good news? This comes from a fellow student media adviser. I especially like the headline on last link:

Alloy Media + Marketing, the largest company serving as a national
advertising representative for college newspapers, this week released
the results of a recent study they funded on college newspaper
readership. Midst all the doom and gloom in the media about declining
commercial newspaper circulation and revenues, the positive news from
this college newspaper readership study has been getting some good
trade press this week. Here are some links I've gathered...

Alloy press release:
Extra! Extra! Read All About It: College Students Addicted to their
College Newspaper

Study: College Newspapers Are the Ad Rage on Campus

Editor & Publisher:
Study: On Campus, College Newspapers Are the Ad Rage
(This is a reprint of the original BrandWeek story.)

College Students Maniacs for Campus Paper
(This includes some additional information not in the BrandWeek story.)

AAAA SmartBrief:
As metro dailies wither, college papers flourish©id=E42CC1A0-9E7A-463B-8A86-C998D40423EF
(Just a brief, but to an important audience -- and you have to love
that headline!)

Media Post's Media Daily News:
Read All Over: Alloy Finds College Newspapers Make Grade
(This one focuses on the effectiveness of ads in college papers. Yea!)

College Newspapers May Actually Be as Important as They Think They Are

More evidence of media mismanagement

Be sure to read more about the Chicago Tribune Company's plan to shrink news offerings and staff. Since their problem is shrinking readership and advertising revenue, the plan is to offer readers and advertisers less. I especially like the way they are counting up inches per reporter as a way of determining efficiency. You get what you pay for, and this road leads to even less readership and advertising. A good New York Times story is here:

Audience fragmentation grows

In a development that has implications for the greater world of media fragmentation, a new study find that percentage of TV channels actually watched has fallen to its lowest point ever since Nielsen began tracking the phenomenon in the 1980s. While the average number of channels received by American households hit an all time high in 2007 - 118.6 - the number actually viewed was only 16, only a fraction more than the 15.7 channels tuned to in 2006, the 15.4 channels tuned to in 2005, or the 15.0 channels tuned to in 2004. The finding suggests that while the supply of media options is expanding, consumer attention may have reached its limits. See the whole story at

On a personal note to let you know about viewership, last night my 8-months-old kitten was intensely interested in a hi-def program on South American ants. As long as the screen swarmed with ants, she not only wanted intently but tried to get at them. I don't know how that factors into the media viewership picture.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Changes in reporting practices?

Meanwhile, a trend worth watching is companies forming to do reporting for others – both for paid clients and some nonprofit companies offering their wares to others, such as ProForma, which announced it is adding seven experienced investigative reporters to its staff that it plans to hit 25 investigative reporters (today’s announcement is at I’m not dismissing new ideas in how to report, such as the California web site that has outsourced its reporting to a company in India (Editor & Publisher story at

My friend Rick Horowitz has won national awards as a political columnist writing about national affairs for syndication while living in Milwaukee. He says he works just the same as he did when he started his column in Washington: he watches C-Span, reads the Washington Post, visits sources on a regular basis, and uses the telephone.

I think there are opportunities in aggregating reporting similar to how community newspapers have aggregated their copy editing functions where one copy desk handles a number of newspapers.

Change happens.

Should we yawn?

Yesterday, a Microsoft executive predicted the end of paper versions of newspapers and magazines within the next 10 years.

"Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer tells Washington Post staffers: "In the next 10 years, the whole world of media, communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down -- my opinion. Here are the premises I have. Number one, there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form." -- Today's Washington Post

In, I believe it was 1995 but I can't find it for sure, Bill Gates, while announcing a Microsoft tablet, predicted the end of books within five years. I'm still waiting.

That doesn't mean big changes aren't ahead -- but I'm not sure about the end of paper, especially for magazines.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just for fun

You might want to read the email between a real student media editor (Columbia University) and the actress who plays one (MTV's "The Paper" reality series). No real content; just egos battling. It's at

Daily newspaper numbers

Editor and Publisher's annual survey showed declines in print newspapers. Complete story (not much more there) is at

NEW YORK -- The number of U.S. dailies declined by 15 to 1,422 in 2007 compared to the previous year, according to the newest edition of the Editor & Publisher International Yearbook.

The number of morning newspapers grew at the expense of evening papers. In 2007 there were 867 morning papers, versus 833 in 2006. But 49 evening papers were lost in 2007, resulting in a total of 565 evening papers. The number of "all-day" papers, which include newspapers that publish morning and evening editions, remained flat, at 10.

Total daily circulation in 2007, according to the E&P Yearbook, was about 50,741,600, down 3% compared to 2006 stats. Sunday circulation in 2007 fell 3.6% to 51,246,332. The total number of Sunday papers remained the same in 2007 compared to 2006 at 907.

The number of multi-newspaper cities fell by two cities to 36. Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hagerstown, Md., fell off the list.

The number of weekly newspapers also shrank in 2007. According to the E&P Yearbook, there were 6,253 weekly newspapers (4,259 paid, 1,029 free, and 965 combined paid and free). In 2006 there were 6,394 weekly newspapers (4,307 paid, 1,085 free, and 1,002 combined paid and free). Total circulation in 2007 for weeklies (including paid and free) was 46,896,483, down about 1.6% from 2006.

The "Daily Show" examined

The Pew Center analysed the "Daily Show" with Jon Stewart as "an intersection of news and entertainment." Interesting findings at

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sarah Milnar is part of UWire 100

Sarah Milnar is included as one of Uwire 100 studentjournalists

UWire just announced their UWire 100 - a list of 100 college journalists nominated by peers and professors and chosen by the staff of UWire. Check out the entire list here.

She was honored for her multimedia work last year. I haven’t had time to read through all the listed journalists yet. It'd be interesting to see what they all are doing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Young people and news consumption

This is an older study (reported earlier this summer) – and its sample size is pretty small, but the results are interesting. I think it’s up to us to find new ways to appeal to young readers.

Associated Press

Young adults experience news fatigue from being inundated by facts and updates and have trouble accessing in-depth stories, according to a study conducted for the Associated Press in 2007..

The Context-Based Research Group, an ethnographic research firm, found that the news consumption behavior of younger readers differs profoundly from that of previous generations.

The study analyzed the news consumption patterns of an ethnically diverse group of 18 men and women between the ages of 18 and 34 in six cities in the United States, Britain and India.

It ultimately helped AP design a new model for news delivery to meet the needs of young adults, who are driving the shift from traditional media to digital news, said Jim Kennedy, AP's director of strategic planning.

That includes what the AP calls "1-2-3 filing," starting with a news alert headline for breaking news, followed by a short present-tense story that is usable on the Web and by broadcasters. The third step is to add details and format stories in ways most appropriate for various news platforms.

Editors at the Telegraph in London are following a similar approach and have seen a big jump in traffic at the newspaper's Web site. The study said the Telegraph has adopted the mind-set of a broadcast-news operation to quickly build from headlines to short stories to complete multimedia packages online to boost readership.

A key finding was that participants yearned for quality and in-depth reporting but had difficulty immediately accessing such content because they were bombarded by facts and updates in headlines and snippets of news.

The study also found that participants were unable to give full attention to the news because they were almost always simultaneously engaged in other activities, such as reading e-mail.

"Our observations and analysis identified that consumers' news diets are out of balance due to the over-consumption of facts and headlines," said Robbie Blinkoff, co-founder and head anthropologist at Baltimore, Md.-based Context-Based Research Group.