Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some details on new Pittsburgh newspaper site

The new Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pay online site is up with Editor & Publisher offering more details of its content. It's an interesting idea in a business that needs interesting ideas.

Newspapers continue to commit suicide; that's one way of reading this AP report

Hari-kari is defined as "ritual suicide by disembowelment practiced by the Japanese samurai." It's a slow self-inflicted death.

This Associated Press report demonstrates that American newspapers are committing hari-kari by "losing many of their youngest reporters, editors and photographers at the same time publishers are trying to break some of their old habits and learn new tricks on the Internet." At the same time, they are also badly hurting diversity efforts at a time when the country is getting more and more diverse.

I love newspapers. I read newspapers. I count on newspapers to hold off media chaos. But I sure want new thinking in newspaper boardrooms. And I'm not sure I'm going to see it in the U.S.

"The future doesn't fit in the containers of the past"

Here's a guy I'd like to talk with -- and I plan to. I don't know when, but I'm going to make a point of it. Denuo CEO Rishad Tobaccowala offers the kind of thinking that will save media.
Start with his basic premise, summed up in a great phrase: "The future doesn't fit in the containers of the past."Digital, Internet-based media is not the same, so why do we treat it the same?

He comes from the marketing end of media, and frankly I've always felt that content (read: words) managers (read: editors) need to look at marketing. If we don't understand why people are reading our words, and how they are using our product, we can't make it relevant. And that's why, in my humble opinion, the media has gone off track.

Read the entire MediaDailyNews report, but pay special attention to the end where Tobaccowala lists five things he does to keep his thinking fresh. They all make sense, including reading print versions of newspapers, "
which allows him to discover stories and information he might otherwise miss online." That's a powerful argument that print publishers should be pushing and it bears repeating: you find stories and information in print that you miss online.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pittsburgh paper launches exclusive website

In yet another attempt to generate revenues, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is launching a members-only web site featuring exclusive content, including lots of interactive features. It will cost $36 a year. The paper will continue its regular site.

What's behind magazine sales slowdown? I don't know

Sometimes data viewed in a void can be misleading. Case in point, today's report that magazine newsstand sales are off more than 12 percent. It's filled with interesting data, magazine sector by sector. What it's not filled with is any explanation.

What does it all mean? Have people quit reading? Have they suddenly begun to switch to only online? Has the population declined 12 percent?

I won't claim to know the answer, but would suggest that, as this story among many others in the past week shows, consumers have shifted their spending patterns from discretionary items -- like magazines -- to essentials. It's the economy, stupid, once again. News reports really need to put their data into context. That's a job of journalists.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ESPN move demonstrates a future for journalism

It's the start of a new school year and, once again, someone has asked me whether there is a future in journalism. My answer, after a lot of research and thought over the past few years, is that there's a bright future in journalism. In short, journalism will survive and flourish even if newspapers don't.

Today's evidence is a story that ESPN is moving quickly to fill a gap that doesn't exist yet. It's launching a web site to cover Boston sports, just as it's launching one to cover Chicago sports. The idea is that the Boston Globe, long the sports-coverage leader in Boston, may either die completely or have to cut back its coverage. Therefore, ESPN is betting, fans will look to its local site.

The point isn't whether ESPN is correct in its assumptions or not, but that there will be journalism no matter whether the newspaper continues or not.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Journal Sentinel holds great news story from online views

      Are you ready out there in Internetland?  You're missing a great piece of journalism from Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It's a jaw-dropping story about a scam artist who's parlayed some very shady practices into a Jaguar convertible and mansion. The reason you're missing it -- and I'm not -- is that I subscribe to the print version of the Journal Sentinel, which is holding the story off the Internet until tomorrow.  And going to be holding part II, which will run in tomorrow's print edition until Tuesday.  It's a tactic borrowed from a couple of other papers and one I applaud, not just because I like print but because I like good journalism and somebody's got to pay for it. And online news isn't doing that now.
     The idea, I would think, is that if you want the best news, subscribe to print (and probably get a way to view the stories online). Otherwise you'll have to wait.  And look for features, columns and other non-news to be held as well.