Friday, October 17, 2008

Media use up -- both new and old media

An Iowa State University study finds that media consumption is up, but it's both new media and old. Apparently many of us are using new media while continuing to use old media. In fact, old media numbers are up, as well as new media. Doesn't mean advertisers are staying with old media, they're not. Maybe they should be.

Philip Meyer on "the endgame" for newspapers

Philip Meyer, who has written some of the most influential books on journalism, especially precision journalist, takes on the newspaper industry in an article in the American Journalism Review. He's been predicting the end of print editions for some time now, based on readership data, but has some very interesting observations and predictions in this article. His bottom line suggestion: focus on the community leadership role with interpretation and context. He also says time is running short for newspapers to sharply focus their missions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicago Tribune joins dump-AP movement

Tribune Company executives notified the Associated Press that all newspapers owned by the corporation would drop AP service after the two-year period contractually demanded. It's only the latest and largest media company to notify AP that it planned to drop the service after a price rise. That doesn't mean it actually will drop AP, but it's a move that shows how the media world is changing. Editor & Publisher offers a nice roundup of what's happening.

In defense of bloggers. . .

New York University's Jay Rosen offers a stirring endorsement of bloggers, saying, among other things, that "bloggers and journalists are each other's ideal 'other' . . . ." Bloggers fill different needs than journalists, and operate differently. Rosen's blog has long been one of the more thoughtful journalism blogs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Student newspaper story prompts thefts

The student newspaper at the University of Texas at El Paso reported on the school's defrocked homecoming queen's past may have included time as an exotic dancer. Suddenly, its newspapers began disappearing from their sales boxes. The Student Press Law Center reports that says that more than 3,500 newspapers were stolen. No one has been charged.

Wisdom from down under

For four decades, American newspapers have been lulled into complacency by being virtual monopolies. They have grown fat and ossified. During my time with just The Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel, I watched as it went from a lean, tight newspaper with only a few editors to one with layers upon layers of assistant managing editors, senior editors, deputy senior editors, assistant senior editors, etc. (When I started at The Milwaukee Journal its news operations had one editor, one managing editor, one assistant managing editor; today, its masthead lists an editor, a managing editor, a deputy managing editor, six assistant managing editors, and at least six senior editors.)

I strongly believe that we must start looking for solutions in areas where competition has continued -- overseas. Newspapers in other parts of the world have had to stay nimble to keep afloat, and that has led them to reacting positively to changing media winds, not just to wring their hands and lay off more people. As someone who loves and is addicted to newspapers, I can only hope that our leaders will start looking for ways to adapt, not just die. 

The CEO of a major Australian media company -- with extensive newspaper holdings, including in Sidney and Melbourne -- makes the case for why print media will continue to be important, and how it can survive. His speech includes a lot of business jargon, but he makes a case not only for how print must survive but why. 

David Kirk calls himself a newspaper "conservative," who believes that newspapers are a vital part of a healthy society, with a healthy future. He builds his argument around three pillars: strong content, addressing audiences and supporting his newspapers' brands. He isn't talking about cutting staff that his audience wants to read, like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and, frankly, most American metropolitan newspapers continue to do. Nor is he talking about dropping sections, ignoring portions of the audience, and allowing his readers to gradually drift away. He is talking about aggressively going after them. I'd love to see our newspapers tell their story as well.

Monday, October 13, 2008


OK, that's a bit exaggerated, and those of you who turn up your noses at newspapers like the late, great Weekly World News can turn away now because it's time to get down and have some fun. A group of investors calling themselves Bat Boy LLC after a WWN character has purchased the newspaper. I always like media to be pretty upfront about itself and the WWN never quite hid the fact that, well, it didn't use facts in its stories about "How to Tell if You're Descended From a Space Alien" or "Titanic Survivor Found in Lifeboat." Will it return (it's been online only for more than a year; the current issue features a story about Barack Obama's "half-man, half-bat, half-brother")? We don't know, but I can think of few possible revivals that bodes more fun.

Newspaper online revenues hitting roadblock

A New York Times story today reports that newspaper online advertising revenues have flattened after several years of nice gains. It shows that no one has yet found a good replacement for the old media ad/circulation revenue models.