Saturday, June 21, 2008

A twist in California law protecting advisers

California is close to passing a bill protecting student media advisers against university/school retaliation for student actions. Now the University of California says the law won't apply to its schools because it is constitutionally protected against state laws. This report is from a blog by the Center for Scholastic Journalism that is a nice roundup to what has happened thus far with links to all necessary material.

Why I didn't follow my parents' advice on law school

A student at the University of Missouri on why she's in journalism, for now. Both gloomy and hopeful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More interesting stories today

Editor & Publisher reports that top newspaper web sites saw huge increases in unique viewership over the past year. No surprise but the numbers are impressive.

In a not-unrelated (in my view) move, here's an interactive map showing newspaper layoffs across America. It lists "4,490+" layoffs and buyouts.

Time magazine reports on the "boundrary between old and new media" becoming "porous." Nothing new here, but it's another example of recognition of what's changed in the news business.

Meanwhile, Rupurt Murdock tells the Guardian that he wants to make the Wall Street Journal "the best in the world." Funny, I thought it was before virtually all the top editors when he took over left (we can't say they were pushed out -- but they're all gone, along with lots of the top reporters). He also said he was "surprised" at how "cooperative the vast majority of the journalists have been." Meanwhile, the new editor has "reorganized" the WSJ news leadership "team."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who says there aren't journalism jobs?

This one's advertised on Craigslist.  I'm not saying more because you should read the whole ad.

Good people talking newspaper journalism

We seem to have moved beyond the handwringing over the future of newspaper to some solid thoughts. Here are two interesting columns on the topic, and what the Journal Sentinel is doing to attract an audience.

First up is my favorite columnist, Leonard Pitts. He looks at newspapers and suggests maybe we should just blow the model up and start over again. Pitts is one of the best thinkers around, and this is quite thoughtful.

Next up is a report of a discussion from the Chicago Reader in which a number of media types and academics discuss "Will Newspapers Survive?" I liked best the comment from the editorial page editor of the Sun Times, Tom McNamee, who said if papers die they die. Journalism will survive. That's the heart of what we should be discussing, where journalism will go, how it will get there, and how will it work in a capitalistic system.

Finally, Marty Kaiser Sunday wrote about the Journal Sentinel's new system, what he termed a "news hub" in the center of the newsroom, constantly updating the paper's web site. He said the paper is "moving from a once-a-day print newspaper that also publishes online, to a multimedia news center operating virtually around the clock."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another attempt for newspapers to survive

The Dallas Morning News is taking steps toward something I've advocated for a long time for newspapers like the Journal Sentinel -- offering a free, daily, short-form total market circulation newspaper. The News is doing this Wednesday through Sunday, it says. This offers advertisers a chance to reach everyone in the market, something offered by only direct-mail type publication. I think this would be much better than just laying there and dying as seems to be the present JS strategy for paper.

Dangers of text message shortcuts

Can we repeat too many times the dangers of using text message language shortcuts? This Boston Globe column is just the latest to lament the growing use of this "sub-language."  Still, it makes the point in language that students are using.

Melding traditional and online journalism

The McClatchy Washington Bureau is getting kudos for its work. In this interview, bureau chief Jim Van Nostrand talks about how reporters use the Internet to boost their reporting power, and how publishing online and interacting with the public improves their stories. It's worth reading -- even on a day when the publishing company is reporting bad news on the financial side.

Column on copy editors

Catching up on my reading, I'd recommend this "Elegy for copy editors," from the New York Times.  On the other hand, I don't agree totally with its final, flip line. If copy editors disappear, we will notice their loss. Just look at much on the Internet as examples.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taking newspapers mobile

I'm currently mobile, in the middle of a road trip from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to Minnesota Amish country to Dubuque and now to Galena, Ill. That's of no interest except that I've kept up on news via the computer all the way -- especially relying on the Journal Sentinel to let me know of road closings that may delay my return home. A column by Editor & Publisher's Art Howe says that's the hope for newspapers. Especially note toward the end of the column where he explains his thinking about a need to cut through the online search clutter to get to news you actually want to read. That's the secret behind the new aggregators such as or Yahoo news. For community news, the JSonline site is invaluable. It's a worth addition to the discussion of possible futures for newspapers. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tim Russert, sexism and journalists

I just attended a session of women historians in Minneapolis where the discussion turned to sexism and the recent  primary campaign for president. There was a hastily assembled but standing-room-only panel discussion on the campaign, perhaps sparked by the recent New York Times article on sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton.  There's been a lot more on the subject over the weekend, including today's Frank Rich column. I've also been reading and watching a lot on the death of Tim Russert.  It strikes me that maybe we should be thinking a lot about what is a journalist. The Times story was filled with reports, primarily fueled by  television -- especially cable television -- antics.  Is Keith Olbermann or Rush Limbaugh or even Tim Russert a journalist?  

A few years ago, I was discussing agenda-setting with the former editor of U.S. News & World Report. I believed the print media's traditional agenda-setting primacy has been overtaken by that of television, which is now, in my view, driven by cable television dominated by commentators. Television today seems to be driven by a need to express emotion in every story. All TV standups seem to end with "sincere" exchanges between the anchor and the reporter expressing regret, joy, doubt, humor or whatever emotion is deemed appropriate.  I find that same tendency showing up in print stories among our student journalists.

Once upon a time, it was only editorials that "viewed with alarm" or "pointed with pride." I think we need to think carefully about who is a journalist. It's an important question.