Friday, September 26, 2008

What'll replace metro dailies?

Business Week columnist Jon Fine offers his view, and it's depressing. By the way, he's predicting the demise of "big city dailies," not national or local ones. Among winners? Local TV, glossy free monthly pubs, and online sites (lots of them).  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch took a statesmanlike stand and rejected the anti-Arab DVD advertisement, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," saying it exercised its right not to distribute the film, which has been attacked by various Muslim groups in the past two years. The News and Record in Greensboro, N.C., a community that has seen hate in action, also refused to distribute the film. It was distributed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, publisher Elizabeth Brenner saying it was a free speech decision.

The JS also published a column by its local conservative columnist Patrick McIlheran defending the film, saying that it clearly labels the anti-West attacks by Muslims as fringe, and that we should "take a look" at the film." I have a friend who is an expert on right-wing hate groups' web presentations (think American Nazi party, KKK, and skinheads). He has a wonderful site on Christian music that is used to lure people into the skinhead movement. On the surface, it just nice, Christian rock. Then the discussion groups draw people into private chats and the topic of how this music is good because it doesn't have any of those "Afro-Carribean" influences that mess up regular rock. Then, if the person is receptive, the discussion shifts to "good, white-oriented" music. You can guess where it goes next. As, I guess McIlheran would say, we should "take a look at it." I did both at the DVD and the web site. Hate is hate, and anyone distributing that DVD should take a long look in the mirror, then go wash their hands again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A pet peeve about the new media

I've long promoted the excellent content that Jim Romenesko puts together each day reporting on media for the PoynterOnline web site. I go there first thing each morning, and check again throughout the day. I advise my students to do the same, and, frankly, I would hope anyone interested in journalism would do the same. It's the place to find out what's happening in the media world. I highly recommend the site.

Nevertheless, the site was recently redesigned, and its designers fell into the trap of "because we can, we do" with a window that opens as you roll over the "bookmarks" area at the end of each item. It opens a window with 11 choices plus a "more" option button. Because Jim's posts are generally quite short, since he operates a linking blog that serves as a portal to the nation's reporting, the rollover windows obscure the items. Interesting enough, ad agencies have found these rollover popups are not only intrusive but very annoying, and some are warning their customers to ignore this capability.

I wish Jim's designers had done the same since I tend to scroll rapidly through his list with my cursor apparently on the very spot needed for these "blog spam" inserts to annoy me. The more cluttered media gets, the harder it is to easily read, and the easier it becomes to ignore it in favor of leaner, more user-friendly media.

Shape of things to come?

The New York Times is reporting that, the online politics site, plans to expand after the presidential election, adding reporters, content and boosting its advertising. Watching the old media seemingly in freefall while observing that the new media relies mostly on old media reporting for the facts that it comments on, I've long waited for signs the new media is maturing into something more responsible. Responsible reporting by new media sites becomes more and more important as the old media cuts back. Seems to me that this is a maturing media response to changes in the landscape.