Friday, September 12, 2008

The other side of student newspaper economics

Hey, they're niche publications, and that area is doing reasonably OK in this miserable economy. A report in the Chronicle of Higher Education responds to this week's news from the West Coast about financial problems by surveying others, and discovering that college publications, in general, are doing well.

A key seems to be that college newspapers are serving their audience in ways that are unmatched by other publications. That seems to be the goal of those publications attempting to remold themselves these days, from metro dailies to neighborhood monthlies to how-to magazines.

Is the media pulling its punches?

That's the conclusion of a group of Denver journalists at a panel at the National Press Club. The panel believed that declining revenues has cut into the courage of old media and that new media won't spend much on reporting, especially to press government arms that are bolder and bolder in denying access.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More data on our segmenting news audience

A new Pew Research report offers new data showing that the news audience is segmenting by types of media to a degree not anticipated. While a group it terms "traditionalists," who get their news the old fashioned way (heavy reliance on TV, especially), is the largest with 46 percent of news consumers falling into this grouping, of note is the growing group called "integrators (23 percent)," who get their news from both old and new media.

Some sobering words on the iPhone -- and new media

In a blog on InfoWorld, Bill Snyder offers some sobering words on the iPhone that carry over, I think, to other new media. He writes that the biggest problem hitting the iPhone is limited bandwidth by the telecommunications companies (especially AT&T), which, he writes, aren't allowing the iPhone to reach anywhere near its potential. One staggering observation is that the U.S. ranks about 12th in average broadband connection speed worldwide, but first in cost. Along with recent moves by cable companies to limit or charge more for broadband usage, it means that no matter how effective the hardware and software developed for the new media, it's dependent on the monopolistic telecom system that's been allowed to reform in the U.S. in the past few years -- a system that's very unresponsive to its consumers, I believe.

"A Town Without Media"

Under that title, Bob Guccione Jr. writes a fascinating piece for MediaPost in which he reports on the media habits of the Amish and Mennonites, especially those living in Intercourse, Pa. There is some media use, telephones in wooden boxes near fields, even an Amish newspaper, but how media is used is interesting, especially with some of the recent research implying that the rest of us may be suffering from an overdose of media.

Consumer magazine advertising drops sharply

MediaPost reports that consumer magazine advertising sales have followed newspapers' into the tank, off 9.2 percent for the year so far. It has an extensive breakdown by category. The bad news is across the spectrum, although some are hit far more than others.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Using the election to lure younger readers

Editor & Publisher story today talks about ways to reach younger readers with election stories. It postulates that "millennials' " interest in the presidential election gives news media a good opportunity to "develop a substantive news consumption habit." Its first advice: don't over-saturate them with stories. This fits with recent findings that media consumers are becoming overwhelmed with all the choices out there.

Good article on mid-career journalists retraining

An article on the Society of Professional Journalists' site talks about mid-career journalists retraining for the new media. There's a nice sidebar with five things to know about switching to multimedia. This is something that should be read by all journalists, including our student journalists.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More buzz about flexible e-papers

The flexible plastic e-newspaper is generating more buzz. In addition to the story from the New York Times, Newsweek takes a look at the possibilities, especially featuring the product from Plastic Logic (also video on YouTube). This seems to be a product that might appeal to the reader as well as the publisher -- if the price is reasonable.

University newspapers feeling the pinch, too

An article in Inside Higher Education sums up the latest decisions by university newspapers to abandon some print editions as the same dynamic that has hit commercial newspapers moves along to university newspapers (especially independent ones). These moves have been discussed on the College Media Advisers' discussion list for some time with the consensus from universities that have dropped print in favor of online only editions being that most students don't migrate to the Internet editions; they just quit reading, resulting in the loss of community brought by the student newspaper. It also would hurt journalism students since student media -- at least at Marquette -- is an important part of the learning experience.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Commentators lose news jobs on MSNBC

NBC and its cable arm, MSNBC, have decided to replace commentators with news people for election coverage, according to the New York Times. After earlier using Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews to anchor election "news" coverage, the network says it's going to use news staffers, especially David Gregory, in the role.  This is great news for those who believe the walls between commentary and news have been reduced or eliminated, especially on cable network shows.

Why aren't people reading newspapers?

Bill Lueders of Madison's Isthmus looks at why people aren't reading newspapers in a thoughtful speech, and concludes that . . . it's the people's fault.  He's not all wrong, but I would lay a lot of the blame at the feet of media managers who misread their audience. Yes people who should read newspapers aren't, but what are newspapers doing to attract them?

For example, even the New York Times announces it's combining sections, as are plans for the Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (all the while eliminating many of our favorite writers and features), then the managers will shake their heads sadly and wonder why people are giving up their subscriptions. 

Newsweek takes on the e-paper

It's a sort of state of the art right now offering the pluses and minuses for electronic delivery system, starting with Amazon's Kindle but giving more heart to various proposals for flexible plastic systems. It may be newspapers' salvation -- or not.