Friday, May 1, 2009

USA chief sees paid digital content in its future

Add new USA Today publisher David Hunke to those saying that newspapers will need to have paid digital content if they want to survive, even in just a digital form. Hunke said he doesn't foresee USA Today cutting back on print publications either.

Chicago Tribune descent continues

I'll admit that the Chicago Tribune apparently has quit showing stories to readers for reaction before they are published, but the kind of decision-making that would allow it to happen in the first place is yet another of the highly-questionable decisions inflicted on what was once a very good newspaper. Tribune editor Gerould Kern said the newspaper had discontinued "a brief market research project that tested reader reaction to working story ideas that have not yet been published." Sounds like turning editing over to the readers, which some non-journalists are clamoring for, but which would spell the end of credibility for any form of publication, letting it descend to that of blogs. (And, yes, I realize this is a blog.)

A glimpse of the future (actually what should be now)

Editors at the Washington Post are becoming multimedia editors, dealing both with print and online versions of news. Clearly this is a function that is becoming the norm. In fact, I suspect we will soon have editors adding television and podcasting to their roles. It doesn't really make sense to have separate editors doing the same things in today's media world.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wall Street Journal boss knocks Times, USA Today

Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thompson takes shots at USA Today and the New York Times in trumpeting his newspaper's circulation gain (the only one among top 25). It prompts a couple of thoughts: First is that Rupert Murdock's ideas do seem to work, whether we traditionalists approve or not. The second is that the Wall Street Journal is a different publication under Murdock. I've been reading it the past few weeks and, frankly, am a bit disappointed in that it seems just like other papers -- a measure of its redesign.  The old Journal was distinctive; the new looks like any number of papers, especially the Times. I always thought that the old Journal was the smartest design for its audience since one could grasp just about all issues worth it by reading the two daily briefing column, and could easily find anything else because features and coverage were anchored. In the new Journal, you have to hunt for them. The writing seems pretty much as it used to be, including editorial pages that reflect only one side of any issue and are especially predictable now. But, despite Murdock's promises, it isn't the same old Journal. I wonder what others think of this; after all, I'm an unapologetic traditionalist.

While I'm at it, I call your attention to the comments on the linked blog. Some of them are insightful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Media and swine flu

Is the media over-hyping the swine flu "crisis?" That's the question of a Washington Post media column. Journal Sentinel TV columnist Tim Cuprisin suggested the same yesterday in a well-thought-out column. It does call into question the over-hype mode that 24-hour cable and constant Internet updates have brought to the media.

What's the successful Internet advertising business model?

The bugaboo that has felled newspaper and broadcast companies -- a weak business model in the new media environment -- also threatens Internet sites, according to an interesting column by Online Media Daily's Gavin O'Malley. He contents that users may like web television, for example, but it isn't delivering the advertising dollars. A speaker at Marquette last week speaking about the future of media estimated that 90% of the advertising dollars spent on the Internet went to one company, Google, which certainly suggests that there aren't a lot of dollars being spent on other Internet advertising venues.

While the column generally is optimistic about prospects, they are still that: prospects. And, as we well know, the future is what it is, and we don't know it until it happens.

Some thoughts on entrepreneurial journalism

I suppose it's time to seriously think about all the new Internet news sites being set up by formerly-employed journalists -- and some unemployed former students who can't find jobs. If one accepts the premise, as I do, that we've entered into an era of the entrepreneurial journalist who must create her/his job, then these sites become somewhat viable and something that all journalists, student or working, should be watching.

In the old era, there were entrepreneurial journalist already. They just created jobs within a larger organization. For example, I created a beer and brewing beat at the Milwaukee Journal, and leveraged it into a nationally-syndicated column that had some success (it was in 28 newspapers regularly at its high point) despite coming before the Internet made such syndication easy.

The point of all this is that journalists today can create their own job, even if they are in other areas. For example, I know one who is a dining columnist although her paying job is that of a webmaster for a magazine. Another is a successful free lance writer; her paying job is that of a nanny (an excellent occupation for one who wants to write). Another is a teacher, who is writing a book. The point is that there are options for journalists, and not being employed in journalism isn't a bar to journalism.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Newspaper circulations continue to drop

Newspapers continue to lose readers. Latest survey shows circulation off 7% nationally.  How much of that do you suppose is because of newspapers raising prices at the same time as they cut staff?