Thursday, June 12, 2008

Google CEO says "imperative" to boost newspapers

Eric Schmidt says Google (and it's newly-acquired Double-Click ad unit) will respond to "a moral imperative" to help newspaper revenue. The key, I think, is in the seventh paragraph of this story, where it says "footing the bill to gather news and other information has become a more daunting task in recent years" as newspapers have cut back. Basically most Internet sites (including this one) are coasting along, using others' reporting. If newspapers continue down the drain, who's going to do the reporting? At least Schmidt recognizes that.

Every student (make that journalist) should read this

In a panel discussion with four British journalists discuss how the Internet has changed the way they do journalism. Frankly, it's affected just about every journalist, even if they're not active.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Interactivity rules

Poynter's Visual Voice column is touting USA Today's candidate match game for its success, saying it has had 2.5 million unique visitors since its launch. It's a example of the kinds of feature that draws web traffic, and we should do more of with the Tribune and Journal. As to the game itself, when I took it just now it told me my number one choice was a candidate who, frankly, is near the bottom of my list. No one in my three top candidates, according to the game, are named McCain or Obama. (A result quite different than when I took the incredibly fun "Belief-O-Matic" quiz on my religious and spiritual beliefs. It pretty well nailed my beliefs.)

Journal Sentinel kills MKE

The Journal Sentinel said today that it was discontinuing MKE. Here's it's press release in full:

"Journal Sentinel Inc. will discontinue production of free weekly publication MKE effective July 10, the firm said Wednesday.

"Launched in 2004 and aimed at young adults, MKE struggled to attract advertising in a market featuring such free-distribution weeklies as Shepherd Express and The Onion. MKE ad revenue peaked in 2006, and has trended downward since. MKE employees are being encouraged to apply for any openings at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."

It's worth noting as another example of mainstream media being unwilling to put the resources needed into its attempts to carve out new markets. For the past three years, I've had Marquette editing students evaluate MKE, which was considered something of a joke by JS staffers with its flip attitudes. At the start, MU students loved it -- because of that flip attitude. But the past couple of years, MKE cut back not only on staff but on attitude, and the student evaluations got progressively worse. Was it a great publication? No. But it was an attempt to capture a difference audience.

The press release says ad revenue has been declining. I was told this week by a JS staffer that the advertising sales department, like the rest of the company, was dramatically reduced in the company's downsizing two years ago -- and now virtually all efforts are aimed at retaining the large advertisers who would be unlikely to be seeking out alternative publications. I'm going to miss MKE.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Neat animated graphics

Dean Pauly passes along this excellent animated political graphic from the New York Times. It shows the potential of Internet publishing in terms of communicating, which is what we are supposed to be all about. 

While I'm at it, if you haven't seen the stunning Minneapolis Star-Tribune's "13 seconds in August" graphic, take some time to look at it. I spent more than a half an hour looking at it when I first learned of it. Frankly, it deserved a Pulitzer. 

Seems to me that graphics, along with unlimited space, are real advantages to communicating online. Now if newspapers could figure out how to make more money from the net. . . .

A creative move -- eliminate the M.E.

It's the Florida Sun-Sentinel that is just eliminating the job of managing editor upon the editor's retirement. Generally newspapers cut reporters and add meeting-going/throwing editors. (OK, that is based on my experience with a nameless metropolitan daily.) Anyway, it's something different. Editor & Publisher story (ignore the typo in the first paragraph). 

Missouri student, paid newspapers may merge

News comes that the U. of Missouri student newspaper, the Missourian, is discussing a "business merger" with the community's commercial newspaper, the Tribune. The comments from this story indicate that student media in general, including its broadcast operations, makes money -- but the newspaper doesn't. The story leaves lots of questions unanswered.  Once again, the comments really add a lot. See story

Kudos to the Journal Sentinel

If you haven't already done so, check out the Journal Sentinel's coverage of the flooding, especially the Lake Delton coverage, both in the paper and online. The effort melds old and new technology in that it has excellent stories and photos in print from professional journalists and the same in several forums from readers. An observation, looking at the great aerial shot by Benny Sieu on page 4A of the emptied lake shows the difference between the professional and the amateur as well as the difference in scale when you publish in the bigger form on paper rather than the small computer screen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Colorado State punts on student media

Colorado State University is setting up a nonprofit corporation to publish all its student media, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, College Avenue Magazine, KCSU radio and CTV television. It's signed a contract to pay a half-million each year for the rights to use them on campus. Interesting: the contract calls for 350 student journalists, according to the press release from the university. Several questions are unanswered, including what happens if a student pub attacks the university or how it will actually work (see the links for what's been announced so far). You can find a lot by Googling (OK, I am using Googling as a verb). The university press release is here:; the Collegian's story is here:

Newspapers aren't dead yet

One reason I think the Madison Cap-Times’ dropping paper editions for all but two specialized ones a week (and giving them out free) is a good thing for newspapers is that at least they’re trying something. I’m tired of hearing newspaper executives say readers are leaving us and there’s nothing we can do about it. Sure, the Cap-Times isn’t perfect, it’s a special situation, and it might not make it. But they’re trying.

Along the same lines, I’m anticipating seeing the new Baltimore Sun. A Tribune executive who was given a walk-through has a great memo on Romenesko. I really liked three points he made about the new Sun. One, it’s a lifestyle publication, not ignoring news but not being totally dependent on it either. Two, it features personalities. I’ve always believed that publications need something to set them apart from all the other publications – and personalities can be that something. Three, and most important, they’re looking overseas for innovation. Anyone who looks at European and other world newspapers is seeing innovation all over the place. Some good; some bad – but all innovative. Anyway, the memo is at

OK, it's wonkish, but . . .

"Time" magazine has a fascinating look into the next new "platform," which may revolutionize the Internet. I'm way to unsophisticated to interpret it, so you'll have to read it yourself. It's at,8599,1811814,00.html

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jon Stewart: 4th most trusted journalist?

Another Pew report studied a year's worth of content of "The Daily Show" after research ranked Jon Stewart as the fourth most trusted journalist. It's most interesting finding was:

"The results reveal a television program that draws on the news events of the day but picks selectively among them — heavily emphasizing national politics and ignoring other news events entirely. In that regard, The Daily Show closely resembles the news agenda of a number of cable news programs as well as talk radio."

In other words, you could make a case that those students who get their news primarily from "The Daily Show" really are getting news, just a skewed version of news. And who says that's not what they are getting from more mainstream sources?

The study's at

Teens and social media

Again, it's not new, but I stumbled across an interesting Pew Research survey of teens 12-17 showing that 64 percent of online teens are actively involved in social media. I would suspect that college students would be higher since social media usage rises as teens get older. Twenty-nine percent of them have their own blog (35 percent of girls; 20 percent of boys). This isn't telling us a whole lot we don't already know, but we should continue to grow our online options. The study is at