Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smaller papers embrace investigations

As bigger newspapers continue to cut back, smaller papers are embracing investigative reporting, as shown in this interview.  Why? One reason is that government is ripe for reporting. With few reporters really looking at government, it becomes easy pickings for enterprising reporters. 

Another reason? I suspect its because more good reporters are finding themselves at smaller newspapers these days.  At least one recent Marquette journalism graduate, an excellent investigative reporter, finds himself doing solid research on a smaller Florida town (much to the dismay of his papers' staid management, which really doesn't want to see their boat being rocked.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Does the media have an obligation to report right away?

Newsweek doesn't think so, saying the greater depth of its post-election stories came because it promised not to report until after the election. It's a case of weighing priorities. I could create a pretty lively ethics discussion using this as an example, especially if you could throw in some "what-ifs." What if the reporters found one of the candidates had a drug habit? Or a violent temper so bad he lost control? Or was growing senile? Or couldn't control his emotions at all? All of these had been alleged against one or more of the most recent candidates. Would that change your thinking? These issues are raised during this nice story from Adam Conner-Simmons of Gelf magazine.

A bad example

As an example not to follow, it would be hard to top this. A University of Minnesota television intern first slacked off enough at her job that she was fired, then attacked the person firing her, shouting obscenities and kicking out a window. This is a good way not to get a good recommendation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Patting college media on its back -- deservedly

Brian Murley, whose Innovation in College Media blog is one of the best around, offers a broad overview of college media's online operations, saying that, in many ways, college media has led the professional media. I concur (see for proof, updated daily).

Comic strips as revenue-generators?

Going back to the days of the Yellow Kid, newspapers have used comic strips to attract readers. This was very important at the turn of the last century when America had a large number of immigrants whose English wasn't all that hot, and a very competitive environment with many newspapers competing for the audience. Both situations exist today, obviously, just substitute other media for the competing newspapers and recognize that America today is in the midst of a wave of immigration. Newspapers, of course, have long since forgotten the promotional quality of comic strips. It's hard to find today's Sunday "funnies" in the Journal Sentinel since the section is used to wrap advertising inserts and is virtually covered by a spadea (that wrap-around advertising section). It's a long way from the days when the comics were on the outside of the newspaper. Those were the days when attracting readers was seen as the way to build a revenue stream.

Fast-forward to today. King Features is launching an ad-driven comics portal (story about it is here), in cooperation with a number of newspapers, including the JS. It offers 60 comics in full color plus a 30-day archive.

Internet beginning to impact television

Hollywood Reporter reports on a conference on whether new media is helping or hurting the television business. The consensus is mixed, but both sides say it is beginning to have an impact.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How'd that work out for you, buddy?

David Carr in the New York Times likens newspaper industry leaders to the failed management of soon-to-be-no-more Circuit City in its plan to save itself by jettisoning its most talented people -- just like newspapers are cutting their stars. As he rhetorically asks of Circuit City, "How'd that work out for you, buddy?" I've been accused of seeking to preserve the old way, and it's true, in a way. I happen to think newspapers have great reputations and ability, I just hate to see them go. Please read Carr's report.

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch said roughly the same thing in a Melbourne newspaper. Newspapers won't be obsolete, some editors' ideas will, he said.  A longer story is here.  I can't believe I'm seeing Rupert Murdoch as more intelligent than most newspaper leaders, but I am.  Here's a third.