Saturday, August 1, 2009

"He said, she said" non-journalism discussed

Meanwhile, Jay Rosen's blog offers a nice discussion of the problems of "he said, she said" "journalism" (it's not journalism at all). It's the kind of poor excuse for journalism exemplified by one of the Milwaukee TV stations that "interprets" election results by bringing on the head of the state Republicans and the head of the state Democrats.  That way, of course, we viewers are able to figure out what really happened.

Read Rosen's piece.

Welcome to George Orwell's 1984, corporate style

     Fascinating -- in a very bad way -- story of modern media. I'm linking to Salon's interpretation of a New York Times story reporting a deal between MSNBC and Fox to quit attacking each other, at the insistence of each network's corporate bosses.  It's not the first time that News Corp. (Fox) or GE (MSNBC) has interfered in news (see: reporting of the 2000 presidential election results), but this is one of the most blatant examples of a real weakness in American news media conglomeration and control by corporate interests.

     Salon correctly writes about the questions such blatant interference in the editorial independence by corporate owners raises for those of us who value a free press. Frankly, this demonstrates just how fragile our basic freedoms are.

     I was thinking of this while I watched an account on Milwaukee public television's interCHANGE program. Discussing the massive staff cuts at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one panelist -- seemingly serious -- said all that was needed was to just build a staff of conservative bloggers and they'd report all the news. I don't care whether it's conservative or liberal bloggers but there's no way in - - - -  that a staff of partisan bloggers doing the little or no reporting currently in vogue among partisan bloggers can build an informed electorate. Repeating talking points from political groups or think tanks is not reporting. I don't want to live in a nation like Iran, Korea, or the Cold War USSR where all "news" is filtered through censors. And I don't care if they are government, religious, or corporate censors. It's a bad thing. Reading about it, such as the Times or Salon pieces, is a good thing.

      Meanwhile, Politico quotes the Los Angeles Times as casting doubt on the story, citing the MSNBC attacks on Glen Beck of Fox this week for his remarks calling President Obama a racist.

Friday, July 31, 2009

TiVo data shows people skip commercials up to 84% of the time

Data from TiVo shows that television ads lost as much as 84 percent of their audience. We've always known that the ability to fast-forward over ads really cuts down viewership. But I find myself watching some of the ads just because they look good (kudos to creatives). Last week, I was watching a new weird show on BBC America -- "Being Human," an intriguing show about ghosts, vampires and werewolves -- when I found myself twice being fooled by the commercials that looked much like the show. It's another good concept to make commercials look enough like the program that you stop the TiVo fast-forward to watch the commercial. TiVo is incorporating its data into what it calls "power ratings," that it says reflect actual audience.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another intersection of old and new media

     The intersections of new and old media continue to cause consternation. Case in point today, a Reuters blog concerning the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette whose circulation is rising, in his estimation, because he has erected a firewall between the print and online material, charging online-only viewers for access to his newspaper's content. Let me repeat that -- his circulation is increasing.  Frankly, I've long wondered why newspapers don't try to drive readers to the print version just as they work to drive readers to the online version. I well remember once when the Journal Sentinel had a columnist prominently displayed in its Friday Cue section whose column appeared as in blog form two other times a week.  I wondered why it didn't leave the Friday column offline, while advertising to those who really liked her work that there was another column/blog available only in print.  Why give everything away?

     My prediction: By a year from now, most newspapers will be charging for online access. And a lot of us will be paying, if it's reasonably priced.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Media stocks jump; Dow Jones offers better news

Shares of media companies jumped Monday, and Dow Jones reports that it's because analysts don't believe the doomsday scenario. I don't subscribe so I haven't read the whole article, but the lead is here. Not subscribing says something about me (maybe it's related to the price of the Journal Communications stock I own), but it sounds like the story is worth ferreting out.

The Sunday newspaper and the Post Office

There's yet another blog out today suggesting the demise of newspapers, at least the Sunday paper. What interesting here is that blogger Jeff Jarvis actually knows something about the business, unlike most of the "new media" people who think they do, and he ties the Sunday newspaper with the postal service. An interesting viewpoint.

Story on music magazines offers a lot more

Fascinating Slate story on the demise of music magazines that offers nice insight -- by extrapolation -- into the problems faced by all sorts of "old media." Basically, though, it boils down to content, what is and isn't there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Circulation revenues top ad dollars at NY Times

       In the most dramatic change in the last century and a half, the New York Times reportedly is ready to make more money from circulation than advertising. If the trends continue, the Columbia Journal Review says, it means a total flip in where media funding comes from. Traditionally, media has been primarily funded from advertising with circulation revenues just adding to the pie.

        What does it mean? The Review says "It either means the legacy press is going out of business (not unlikely!) or it points the way toward a new model." 

        This is in the middle of a three-part post on a growth in circulation revenues. CJR goes into detail about possibilities if online users are charged.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Amazon chief apologizes for removing books from Kindles

       Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos said removing the two novels from customer's readers was "stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles."  Still, he didn't comment on how the company would deal with problem books like the two that were removed.  And the uncertainty in the market will continue as long as that possibility exists -- at least.

       In fact, the New York Times reported that "a growing number of civil libertarians and customer advocates wants Amazon to fundamentally alter its method for selling Kindle books, lest it be forced to one day change or recall books, perhaps by a judge ruling in a defamation case — or by a government deciding a particular work is politically damaging or embarrassing," and insists that the company give up control of the devices.