Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is there a place for journalism today?

    Roger Mudd is the latest old old-media guy to bemoan what's happening today. And to fundamentally misread what's happening today. He's a hard-news journalism who doesn't see the value in anything that isn't hard news. I, too, hate most of the soft news on the evening newscasts, but I also know that today's audience -- especially young people, despite what "media experts" think -- want news. I believe they want news in context, which means applying solid journalism to what's happening today, not turning to the latest "CAPTURING SEXUAL PREDATORS" or "FINDING MILWAUKEE'S DIRTIEST RESTAURANT." In fact, many of the topics covered in Mudd's interview go right to that point -- that journalism, based on verification, has a strong place at today's media table.

Some thoughts on YouTube and citizen journalism

    I haven't posted anything on YouTube's newest attempt to lure professional media further into the swamp of citizen journalism because I'm still undecided about it.  I use YouTube clips frequently in the classroom, and I'm not averse to citizen journalism. My feelings are that it's a useful adjunct to professionals, just as it is in my choosing to run clips to buttress points in lectures.  PC World columnist Tony Bradley clearly feels the same way in this essay.  His main point is that YouTube's amateurs can add to professional journalism, but they can't replace it.

Another survey shows high newspaper audience

     Today's episode of "Newspapers aren't dead yet no matter what the new media folks say" centers around a Scarborough survey showing that 74 percent of Americans are still reading newspapers, at least once a week. Truth is that this survey counts viewership as well as print, but the point is that newspapers are still leading the way in delivery of news to Americans.

     The report quotes  Newspaper Association of America’s president and CEO John F. Sturm saying “audience is a far more meaningful way to measure newspapers’ ability to attract a growing audience across multiple platforms.” The Scarborough research, he says, “provides further evidence that newspapers reach a highly educated, affluent audience.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Survey shows appetite for news unabated

Interesting survey reported in the Asbury Park Press showing media habits of New Jersey residents. Lots of interesting tidbits, and one that I think is significant and something the newspaper industry should be touting. The key finding is that appetite for news continues strong.
Among the findings: Of those polled, 43 percent watch a TV news broadcast from New York or Philadelphia and 42 percent read a newspaper nearly every day. Thirty-two percent visit a news Web site and 22 percent listen to talk radio almost every day.

But the finding that I find most significant, though, is hidden in the data. "Of those who read newspapers every week, 36 percent could name Newark Mayor Booker as opposed to 20 percent of those who do not read local papers," the paper reported. I've long thought, along with educators, that reading fixes facts in our memories, and I believe that the vehicle matters. Our minds do a better job of selecting and sorting information in printed form, I believe, than in the new media.

Magazine advertising showing mixed trends

Latest magazine advertising figures show mixed trends. Overall, ad pages are down, but they are up significantly at some publications. Among the winners: Scientific American, up 55%; Better Homes & Gardens, up 42%; Ladies' Home Journal, up 30%; Southern Living, up 29%; and Cooking Light, up 25%. Big losers: Architectural Digest, down 58%; Town & Country, down 50%; W, down 49%; and Elle D├ęcor, down 40.6%.

Seems to me that we are beginning to see some media marketers believing they can see the light and targeting publications. Or else they're guessing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Detroit news to offer home delivery

One problem reducing the number of printed newspapers creates is that it makes it very easy to start new competition. Today comes news that a third Detroit daily newspaper is taking advantage of the cutbacks by the Detroit News and Free Press to two and three days respectively. On November 23, the Detroit Daily Press will be launched on newsstands only for a week before starting home delivery a week later. Bet they wouldn't have tried this is Detroit still had home-delivered print newspapers. During my time at the Milwaukee Journal and then Journal Sentinel, there were several serious attempts to launch alternatives either in Milwaukee or in various suburbs. All lost out because of the cost of starting and the strength of the newspapers.

At an announcement this summer, the new Detroit publishers said they needed 150,000 circulation to break even. Hope they get it.

Miami Herald opens hyper-local web site network

Way back in the dark ages when I got a MSJ from Northwestern, the Miami Herald approached me about working for a regional bureau. I looked into the idea and found it had small bureaus all over it's circulation area. They were doing hyper-local reporting long before anyone thought of the term. I think about that job just about every winter here in Milwaukee.

I remembered this as I read that the Herald is the latest newspaper to open a network of hyper-local news Internet sites. Same idea, new venue.

NBC offers another new take on news reporting

Interesting. NBC experiments with a new news show edited in New York City for local use elsewhere. Sure, they're doing it on the cheap, using "re-purposed" news content from the many NBC venues. But it's an attempt to break out of the various boxes we've put news into lately.

Yes, Americans will pay to read news online, study says

Conventional wisdom says no one will pay to read news online. Wrong, says a New York Times story. A new study by the Boston Consulting Group says that nearly half of Americans would pay. Of course, we have to have an anti-newspaper spin, and this report goes along with that pointing out that it's the lowest figure among the nine nations studied.

Nevertheless, LISTEN UP MEDIA PEOPLE, 48% of Americans said they'd pay. The story goes into needed depth reporting that a correlation can be made between willingness to pay and lack of rich, free content. Should all newspapers go behind pay barriers, watch to see how quickly people would be signing up.