Saturday, September 26, 2009

Small is beautiful -- and profitable

Nice little piece from the Wall Street Journal's online opinion (read: blogs) section on how a small chain of New York community papers is making money. Biggest reason? Hyperlocal news and no debt. Points out that the papers never depended on classified, so haven't lost that. Probably never got much automobile, real estate or entertainment listings, so haven't lost that. Just plugging along.

Be sure to read the comments. The first is from a reader saying that an online paper would be doing even better. Article author Daniel Akst replies that there is no evidence that online would have the advertising -- since no one that I know of is making much from online advertising. I'd also suggest that people notice paper newspapers, but online web sites are easy to forget. Several of my friends are now writing for, but I just don't remember to check the site on a regular basis, but I still pick up paper newspapers every edition, including the Shepherd-Express, Milwaukee Community Journal, RiverWest Currents, UWM Post (I, of course, read the Marquette Tribune both online and in paper), and Onion. That's in addition to reading the Journal Sentinel, Wall Street Journal and New York Times every day.

The point isn't what I read (and I do look at a number of newspapers online), but studies among college newspapers have shown that if they discontinue their print editions in favor of online-only, not only does their advertising dry up, but their readership disappears. The convenience factor cuts both ways on online publication. Sure, it's easier and cheaper to find, but it's also easier -- much easier -- to ignore.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why we don't take broadcast news seriously

Excellent column by Michael Massing at Columbia Journalism Review on why we don't take broadcast news seriously. He also criticizes some print heavyweights for their celebrity-fawning, especially the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz who seems to be on TV more than in print. He cites one startling statistic as an example of what's wrong with broadcast news: "Katie Couric’s annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered combined."

Trust in media is taking a beating

Survey shows only a quarter of Americans believe what our national media is reporting. Also, Fox News is both most and least trusted news source (duh).

Still, "Over half of all respondents, 56.1%, suggested they trust the electronic and print news media for accurate news and information over blogs (7.8%), the social media such as Facebook (3.4%) and entertainers/celebrities (4.3%). Others, 28.5%, were unsure whom they trusted most." So much for "citizen journalism."

Lots of other interesting opinions about the media.

Is the Internet becoming stale?

MediaPost panel with lots of heavy hitters -- Mark Cuban, Bob Garfield, Martha Stewart among them -- had an interesting discussion about new media. Among the most interesting comments was Cuban's that "The Internet is becoming stale." While others talked about atomization and prospects for social media and mobile, Cuban again interjected that he sees big screens (think the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium) have a future much more than tiny screens. Good stuff from all corners.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Journalism schools swarming with new students

       In my classes, I tell students that we live in the best of times for journalism and the worst of times. Apparently students agree.
      The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that journalism schools are doing quite well, thank you, with lots of entering freshmen anticipating the new journalism opportunities offered by journalism schools, and believing that their education is readying them for journalism in whatever form -- despite the dismal industry situation.
      As I like to say, newspapers may die, but journalism won't. And I love the tools now available to journalists. I sincerely wish they had been available when I was reporting on a regular basis.  I watch what my students do, both in class and on the Marquette Tribune, Journal and Online, and can only dream about what they'll be able to do with journalism in the future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Social media and society -- What's the impact?

Interesting comment on a Washington Post blog by an attendee at a new media conference. Includes lots of links as well as summing up the presentations by some of the new media stars. Also has some interesting observations about new media impact on society (one quote: "We may overestimate the effect of social media on society but we shouldn't overestimate its effect on individuals").

AP reports most newspapers ready to charge for online news

The Associated Press is reporting that more than half of newspaper publishers are considering pay plans for their Internet sites, with several large papers poised to make the move soon. The story does a nice job setting up background for any moves that might be made.

Poll shows few would pay for Internet news -- now

A poll of British online news consumers that asked them if they would pay should their favorite online site suddenly start charging found that only 5% said they would. Most -- 74% -- said they'd find another free site. Interesting to see since millions of us pay 99 cents for a song on iTunes, and far more for Netflix or other media. The link is to a Guardian columnist who isn't surprised (there's a link in his article directly to the poll); that's to allow you to look at the comments, often better than original columns. I like the thinking of one Shanksy, who wrote "Five percent paying something is a lot better than no-one paying anything." Seems logical to me.

Opportunities in social media intrigue experts

Are you thinking about opportunities in social media? Advertisers are, according to a panel of marketing experts. It's used in several ways, including just listening to consumers, according to this Online Media Today story. That listening approach, it seems to me, has applications for editors, managers and educators as well as marketers, and certainly it's something that students should be thinking about.

A look at what is really happening for J-students

The Associated Press does what its been doing best lately, touching on a good issue that cries for more reporting. Today's story concerns the beginning journalists entering schools like Marquette's Diederich College of Communication. It gives both the good and the bad of today's media situation (it is indeed the best of times and the worst of times). I'd like to see a little more research into some of the initiatives entrepreneurial schools and journalists are undertaking (and a little less single-source self-promoting of one program -- yes, it'd be fine if it was our program not Missouri's), but it addresses some of the opportunities as well as weaknesses of the industry. Be sure to read to the end to see someone who understands why I like the opportunities while hating what's happening to the industry.

'Saving Newspapers From Their Saviors'

With a headline like "Saving Newspapers From Their Saviors," you get the impression that Jack Shafer of Salon doesn't like government breaks for journalism. You'd be right, but not because he hates newspapers or media in general, but that he thinks the proposals are bad for the business. Worth reading.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New newspaper starts -- a new ethnic newspaper

Built on the ashes of a closed newspaper, the nation's newest newspaper represents a resurgent community media. San Francisco's Nichi Bei Weekly is aimed at that community's Japanese.

It represents both good and bad news for ethnic newspapers. A survey shows a 16 percent increase in readership nationally for the papers, but, like mainstream papers, they often struggle financially as advertisers seeks cheaper alternatives despite the proven demand by consumers.