Saturday, February 7, 2009

British blogger predicts newspapers will survive

It's ironic that a prediction that newspaper will survive merits a headline, but it does. This blogger, Richard Webb, a former newspaper editor, is British, but I think his optimistic view is worth noting because the reasons he lists work just as well on this side of the Atlantic. Will all newspapers survive? Who knows? But Webb points to some adaptations being made as we watch, and the news is full of stories of changes. Getting newspapers to start shifting their thinking is the start of saving a future.

For example, this morning I was looking at Mark Savage's review of a Ford pickup truck in the Journal Sentinel's business page. It's now presented in print as a snapshot with a picture, truncated bullet points from the critique, and a URL for the full review on the newspaper's web site. Great idea, and I think newspapers should do even more of this style of journalism in which they drive readers to their web sites for longer versions. But then I thought (not for the first time), how are they trying to drive readers viewing only on the web to their print product? Print has some inherent advantages over the Internet, so why aren't they featuring them. The newspaper used to print an interesting column by one of its youthful writers each Friday with a box promoting the two other columns she wrote that ran only online. I thought at the time that it would drive readers to the print product to not including that in the Friday online paper, but to refer readers to the print version. Columns create fans. And fans will buy print products (look at the magazines and books being published). To me, it's worth trying.

Times sets up policy on new media use by staffers

It addresses ethical problems raised by social media, many are problems faced by academics. For example, one is being careful in "friending" people on facebook. Should a reporter accept a friend offer from a source or potential source? How about with a spokesperson for an entity the reporter covers? These questions are ones faced regularly and will become more important over time.

Is this the year for the e-book takeover?

That's the prediction of Mike Elgin at Computerworld. He lists six reasons why e-books will take over this year: the economy, the environment, changes in publishing, aggressive marketing, a rise in books written especially for electronic delivery, and, finally, the decline in print newspapers.

His prediction as well is that e-books will become fabulously successful because they are going to be marketed on cell phones. He describes the iPhone screen as "huge." He may well be correct on his other points, but the day I try reading books on cell phone screens is the day I quit reading books.

Nevertheless, it's worth following trends in e-books. When someone develops an effective, easily-read, decent sized screen (it doesn't have to be huge; I read paperbacks), I predict e-books will do well.

Friday, February 6, 2009

ESPN the Magazine considers charging for at least part of online content

ESPN the Magazine, which has always been a beast of both the online as well as print world, plans even more, executives tell Folio. The magazine blog reports that ESPN the Magazine executives are thinking about charging for at least part of its online content. Just about everyone is trying to figure out a way to make money online. The print magazine is due for a redesign, they say.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Copyright material, then sue the pants off them

That's the business model proposed by a Philadelphia News columnist.  Saying the mistake newspaper made is giving away its content, he proposes charging Internet subscribers and suing anyone who takes the newpaper's copyrighted content.  Sounds good to me.

The Internet's "stone age?"

That's the term used in this rather weird blog saying the Internet is going to change dramatically.  While I don't think the author poses much of a coherent argument, it's still interesting and true that it's early times for the Internet, and it will change -- news along with it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Should newspapers charge for online content

Daily Gawker offers an analysis of Bill Keller's comments about the New York Times possibly charging for content here, saying it's a good idea -- especially if it were joined by other newspapers. I totally concur. It seems to me that a good business model could be constructed following the path of a couple of newspapers already (the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, for example) already has only some content online with the rest available only to print subscribers.

My business model would be the strongest local news presence possible online, including news blogs, but features, columns and the like available only to print subscribers (or, perhaps, by subscription only). Go for it guys.