Friday, December 26, 2008

What does cutback by Missouri student newspaper mean?

It's worth noting that the Columbia Missourian will cut back to publishing five days a week. The paper is an anomaly among American newspapers in that it's a student newspaper by the University of Missouri that serves as the main local newspaper. I think this cutback is significant more because this is a nonprofit newspaper that is cutting back even as some are suggesting the nonprofit business model might be the way for newspapers to go.

Lawsuit may change news on the web

A company you've never heard of, Gatehouse Media, which operates a string of small newspapers in New England, has launched a lawsuit that, if Gatehouse wins, could have major repercussions. Gatehouse has sued the New York Times Company over links to Gatehouse stories on the Times' Boston Globe website.

It's probably going to lose, but what if Gatehouse wins? The Internet is built today on a framework of linking. Virtually every site -- including this blog -- is little more than news aggregators with links to the actual news sources. What if a judge were to rule those links were illegal? Seems to me that Drudge, the Huffington Post, JSonline, etc. would have to dramatically change their ways of doing business.

Internet grows in influence

With a big jump in 2008, the Internet has overtaken newspapers as a favorite source for news although both still trail television. All this is according to a new Pew Research Center report. Some very interesting data there -- newspaper loyalty climbed (even more among young people) but the Internet climbed more. Both took market share away from television. And the results were for national and international news, not local news where most newspapers are concentrating their efforts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Should newspapers go the nonprofit route?

Editor & Publisher columnist Joe Mathewson suggests newspapers look at nonprofit models if they really are hurting. He offers a couple of examples. They could also think about employe ownership as a model. Oh, yes. That's what the Milwaukee Journal Co. was back when its newspapers were honored, its radio and television stations on top of the ratings, it never laid off anyone (even during the Great Depression), and its stock price increased every month. In other words, before the current management (how is it still in office?) took the company public a dozen years ago.

Be that as it may, nonprofit might well be a saving business plan. I'd certainly explore it before just shutting the doors as a few publishing companies threaten.

Washington Post, Baltimore Sun to share stories

The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun announced plans to share content, especially Maryland stories and sports. A Post story said: "Exclusive stories will generally not be shared between papers. Also out of bounds are articles about Maryland state government and University of Maryland athletics, both of which are competitive subjects to each paper." This latter gives this story a Marquette tie since the Post writer covering the University of Maryland is Steve Yanda who was the Marquette Tribune's sports editor a year ago.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Will we get what we pay for?

That's the question raised in an essay on the news business byJames Surowiecki in the current New Yorker magazine. Nothing here you shouldn't already know, but it's written in the usual excellent New Yorker prose that makes you yearn for more good writing, which, frankly, you aren't likely to find on the Internet -- and that sort of sums up his argument.

Philly newspapers start local music website

I've criticized many old media companies, especially newspapers, for doing little beyond cutting staff and offerings to customers, to build readership. At the same time, some are working with new media to build a new form of company. Now comes a story from Philadelphia where the newspapers are starting a website offering both free and available for download streaming music and videos of local groups. The Philadelphia newspapers are returning to their local roots, and trying things. That I applaud.

I think it's worth mentioning that the newspapers aren't conceding all their subscribers to the web. They don't post all articles automatically. They post their news stories, but not all columns and features. I think this is well worth trying. Clearly this is one old media company that's not going quietly into the dark.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Watergate and the new media. What would happen today?

Catching up on a story I forgot to post yesterday, very interesting column from former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. keyed to the death of Mark Felt ("Deep Throat") where he asks whether the truth would have been found out about Watergate given today's media landscape. Speculation, of course, but interesting take on how the media changes could impact how we cover news.

And the top media story of the year is . . .

Editor & Publisher lists its annual Top Ten industry stories of the year, and guess what is the top story? Yep, it's the massive cutbacks in the industry. By my count, eight of the ten are bad news for the industry.

Interestingly enough, E&P calls it "Top Newspaper Stories," even though one is only about web sites.  Maybe it should be "print media" stories since the web is print.