Friday, August 14, 2009

Wonder about the future of newspapers?

The owner of the Philadelphia newspapers has some interesting observations about his experience, including that he's happy he made the investment even though the papers are now in bankruptcy. He also sees a model for newspapers continuing. The model? The Poynter Institute's website.

One of the greatest things about real journalism is when different sources with different viewpoints, backgrounds, and approaches weigh in on problems. That's the real strength of the Internet. Brian Tierney's views as to what future he sees for his Philadelphia newspapers aren't mine, but I sure value reading his. After all, he may be right.

Another step toward pay newspaper sites?

Steve Brill's company dedicated to helping media companies "monetize" their web sites reportedly has contracts with 506 newspapers and magazines, including 176 daily newspapers. Can the media put the genie back in the bottle concerning getting paid for content? My view is that it must, or the media will disintegrate. I love reading blogs, but I know reporting takes time, money and work. You can't do serious journalism on the cheap. Even this blog, which really is just a collection of links with others doing the reporting, takes quite a bit of time. It takes a lot more to do real reporting, and we as a society need that reporting. Which means we're going to have to pay for it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How are things in nonprofit journalism?

     Here's a status report on the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, one of the nonprofit Internet journalism organizations that are springing up.  It's an informative look at strengths and weaknesses of these centers.

Now for some good news from the advertising arena

    OK, Newsweek reports on 12 magazine whose advertising volume is actually up. Yesterday, it was a newspaper that moved into the black. Today it's magazines with improving ad volume.  OK, time for a fearless predication: as the economy improves, so too will the bottom lines of media (unless short-sighted managers torpedo the efforts by cutting content and staff too much -- I'm not forgetting the ad staff at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that reportedly has been cut so deeply that they can't even service all existing advertisers much less seek out new ones)

If the media dies and no one reports it, is it dead?

   Maybe I'm wrong, and the media really are dead, but just don't know it. "'Octomom' Coming to Prime Time Via Fox"

Photographers facing changes

   Among the many changes now hitting media is a big change for photographers. A story in today's New York Times highlights how it's affecting French photographers, but it also highlights changes hitting the industry as free cellphone photos seem to be all over the place. 

     In short, as you can imagine, the professionals find themselves squeezed.  Once again, I see those fateful words "business model doesn't seem to be working" applied to the traditional approach.  Of course, they don't seem to work for new approaches either.

     As I tell students, it's a new world out there, and we better get used to change. In many ways it's a wonderful world -- including all the poor photography coming from cellphone camera shot by amateurs that is capturing news events.  But I'm also seeing a yearning for quality, and I think we're going to have to find some "business models" that do work, and I think we will.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seattle newspaper moves into the black

     Seattle Times newspaper moves into the black financially. Why? Because subscriptions are up 30 percent. 

    Sure, it benefitted from its rival Seattle Post-Intelligencer's going online-only, but it still is making a profit. And, by the way, so is the P-I online version. I believe the industry -- at least parts of it -- have started to take a path that might save the industry.