Saturday, October 11, 2008

A must-read from London

Some of the best comments on America come from foreigners. Think back to de Tocqueville's Democracy in America in the 1830s. And, today, a truly outstanding assessment of what's happening to media in America comes from Lionel Barber, editor of London's Financial Times. He correctly assesses the state of our media, and traces some of its causes and potential effects. This should be required reading for anyone even thinking of our business. He's both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm sooo tempted . . .

. . . to link to a lurid New York Post Page Six item on TV folks spatting in Philadelphia, but I can't think of a way to make it relevant unless . . . student editors, pandering to the audience like this is just, plain wrong.

Flash, newspapers shedding sections

Of course it's not news that the daily newspaper industry is cutting sections right and left. Ironically, the Chicago Tribune is dropping its books section in favor of a books and media section (with few books). I guess they were afraid their subscribers might be readers. Wouldn't want that, would we? Meanwhile, I hear the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is dropping its TV listings unless they are specifically asked for. Not that I use them, but there are people who do. Dropping them will give subscribers yet another reason to become former subscribers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

False "Jobs heart attack" story comment swirls

The fake story posted by a "citizen journalist" on CNN's site last week has prompted a swarm of comments throughout the Internet. Some point to it as proof that the concept is flawed.  I think this comment by Ben Amoldy of the Christian Science Monitor points to yet another redefinition of journalism: verification can by the traditional method or a new process.

"Citizen journalism, or user-generated content, has proved successful enough to argue against abandoning it over snafus like this, say new media experts. Rather, the episode serves as a public reminder that 'news' now includes both traditional journalism and a crowd-sourced model that treats verification as a public process, not a prerequisite for publishing."

All aspects of journalism are changing. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Facebook COO offers advice to magazines

A thought: after writing that line above, I have to wonder if there is any difference between magazines and newspapers in our brave new world. Anyway, Sheryl Sandberg offered a lot of observations, especially about content, pointing out that "not all content is created equal." Not a lot of great new stuff here, but it's still worth reading to put our knowledge into context.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Doonesbury tackles journalism job declines

We in Milwaukee don't see it since the Journal Sentinel, in the midst of taking away reasons to buy the newspaper, dropped the comic strip Doonesbury, but that strip is in the middle of a very on-target story arc involving newspapers cutting staff and content (which, of course, is what the Journal Sentinel is doing). It's prompted strip creator Garry Trudeau to says this on the Washington Post comics blog: "I can't get beyond the hand-wringing stage -- I see nothing that will save our beloved industry. . . ." 

And since our local media moguls have decided you should go onto the Internet for features like Doonesbury, you can find it at this address on Slate. By the way, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel advertisers; we won't see you on Slate. Too bad for my Journal Communications stock. cuts jobs; what's it mean?

Just like old media companies, cuts staff. Some thoughts from AppScout, the blog of editors and writers at PC magazine. Basically, they wonder (as their post heading says) if new media is just old media without a press.

"Citizen journalist" hoax ramifications continue to roil

Last week, a so-called "citizen journalist" planted a false story on CNN's iReport site that Apple's Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack. The market responded immediately, dropping Apple stock. Now the SEC is investigating, and many are assessing the fallout, which, I think, hurts the entire movement. A thoughtful comment on the IT site,, suggests that, perhaps, "citizen journalists" may need a filter.  I'm old fashioned enough to think that all journalists need a filter. That's what verification and editing is all about. Frankly, comments and gossip posted by just anyone is just that, comments and gossip. It's not journalism.