Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is it time for newspapers to fight back?

In this Editor & Publisher column, two writers say this is the time for newspapers to fight back -- and that the fight could well be successful.  I think I'm seeing signs they may be right in that newspapers are retooling and rethinking their missions.  The key is to build on the strengths of print, including a reputation for quality and trustworthness.  That's still the achilles heel of new media, far too much of it just isn't credible. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

TV and computers, Part II

A post yesterday quoted an observer at the Consumer Electronics Show as saying that now may be the time for combining computers and televisions. Today, the Washington Post's Rob Pegorano  says the time hasn't come yet. Fun to watch, isn't it?

Newspaper observer calls for more startups

A blogger for U.S. News calls for more media startups to aid the ailing newspaper business. As the post says, outsourcing to be a growing part of the business, and it doesn't just mean things like outsourcing to call centers in India, it may well mean more reporters in India.

Frankly, the media world has been overwhelmed by new faces of media already. I fully expect more to come around.  In class, I like to point to the example of Bill Simmons who began his career as a college student in Boston who just wanted to write sports so he created the Boston Sports Guy blog and has parlayed that into a career writing for ESPN as well as writing for shows like the Howie Mandel Show. He totally created his career, and it's a route I expect to see other reporters take. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Want successful media content? Look at Huffington Post

Sure, it doesn't pay its contributors, and many of its posts aren't close to journalism, but the Huffington Post is clearly a success, and it is featured on's report on "Doing more with less." Are there lessons here? Hey, it's making tons of money, so sure there are lessons.

If I were asked (and I've not been), I'd suggest that it draws hits because of the eclectic mix of material. Because the site uses a great variety of contributors, it's content varies greatly. That's opposed to the standard media outlet (including this one) where the content is closely targeted.

The Huffington Post is a good location whether you are interested in celebrities, politics or the media -- just like newspapers and magazines used to be before the consultants took over.

Where's the alarm?

In a perceptive blog entry (read: one that agrees with me), Tim McGuire of Arizona State University looks at the media scene and asks "Why isn't anyone concerned?" That's the $64 question for me.

Sure the journalism industry and onlookers like academics are concerned, but few are focusing on the problems that abandoning traditional journalism poses for democracy. I believe wholeheartedly that an informed public is vital to our way of life, and despair of what will happen when the watchdogs are gone. McGuire suggests the marketplace will quickly fill the void. I agree, at least for areas like sports and entertainment. And we in Milwaukee are already seeing some significant reporting by some bloggers (but almost all of those originally were in traditional journalism).

The ride continues to be wild.

A question about TVs and computers

Are you ready to turn your television into a computer? (Or your computer into a television?)

The electronics industry believes that's where we are today. At last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo unveiled a bunch of television-related gadgets that allow viewers to Web-surf while watching TV. I'm not sure people really want complicated technology that does everything in one box. A confession: I generally watch TV with a laptop connected to the Internet. But when I watch something I'm interested in, I put the laptop aside.

I don't know if Yahoo and others are correct. Business Week seems to be convinced that the time is right for combining all these applications. My only question: Is it simple? My computer is filled with applications I don't generally use because something else is simpler.

Consumer magazine advertising drops

Consumer magazines took an 11.7% hit in advertising in yet another sign of economic weakness.

The doomsayers will point to this as evidence that readers are abandoning old media, presumably heading only to the Internet.

I'd just point to the weak economy, and wonder if Internet ads really deliver customers. I haven't seen persuasive evidence yet.

Chicago Tribune plans tabloid edition

After whining for all this time about the lack of imagination among "old media," I'm seeing signs of life. Today's version is that the Chicago Tribune is planning a tabloid edition for newsstand sales. Once upon a time, no mainstream broadsheet would even think about offering the much-despised tabloid form.

Today, a customer is a customer.