Friday, October 9, 2009

New York Times looks at the future of newspapers

       For those (oh so many) people out there who say that newspapers are dead, I offer proof not that they'll live forever, but that intelligent newspaper management still lives.  Editor & Publisher reports on the New York Times' Research & Development unit, which is approaching the future the right way -- by looking not only at how news is delivered (paper or digital) but how it's used. 

       I'll give you one example. One morning my wife and I were discussing what we would do if the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel were to go online-only.  Sure, we expect the Wall Street Journal and Times to continue in print, which would give us a nice roundup of what happened the day before, but, my wife asked, "where would I get my sudoku and word games?" Each morning, after reading the news, she take a short break and does all the games in the newspaper (I do the crosswords). I also make sure I read the comics every morning. In short, the way we use the news includes more than just looking at the news. By the way, both my wife and I live on computers, probably putting in from six to 10 hours a day at a minimum. And both of use check multiple news sites throughout the day.

       The good news is that the Times, and other media sources, are looking at the future and fighting back. Can I tell you what the media future will be? Not at all, but I can assure you that there will be one.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

FTC blogging rule continue to draw fire

I've been looking, but I haven't found anyone who likes the latest FTC attempt to rein in Internet abuses. One of the most devastating comes from Slate's Jack Shafer who sees the potential for intimidation as greater than anything else he's seen. For example, he writes, "If you received a gratis novel from the publicity department of a publisher and posted a tweet about it without disclosing that the book was a freebie, you become an "endorser" in the FTC's view."

Furthermore, Shafer says, "The guidelines have to be read to be believed. They are written so broadly that if you blog about a good and service in such a way that the FTC construes as an endorsement, the commission has a predicate to investigate."

Frankly, I think the case is a bit overstated, but he's correct that the rules could be abused, just as free speech laws have been abused at the last four major political conventions (thousands of demonstrators arrested, but never charged and released after the conventions were over). We Americans do seem to write broad laws (this is just a rule, but it works like a law) that can be abused, and, alas, someone always seems to go too far.

If you want to read more on this subject, there's lots more out there. Simple searches of news aggregater sites will find plenty.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Operation impossible, courtesy of the FTC

FTC moves to limit online endorsements with what, frankly, are confusing and totally workable rules calling on new media bloggers, et al., to disclose any free merchandise from manufacturers being endorsed. Some are concerned that the rules could be used to limit journalists.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vanity Fair looks at Rupert Mudoch and his "war on the Internet"

     Nice piece in Vanity Fair about Rupert Murdoch's "war on the Internet." Writer Michael Wolff says Murdoch will be taking his newspapers off free Internet just because he wants to; that it's not practical.  Wolff covers Murdoch's history of imposing his will, then finishes by suggesting that the 78-year-old Murdoch might just be trying to stretch out newspapers until he retires.  Wolff clearly believes that newspapers can't put the pay genie back in the bottle.

     As usual, Wolff doesn't say who is going to pay for news on the Internet after newspapers are gone.