Friday, February 19, 2010

National Enquirer competing for Pulitzer

It's historic. It's news. It's sort of mind-boggling. What it is, is that the Pulitzer Board has accepted an entry from the National Enquirer as a legitimate news story. The story is the Enquirer's breaking the news story of the John Edward scandal.

Emily Miller of the Huffington Post gives credit to Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler for reversing his earlier position that the Enquirer wasn't eligible. The decision reflects the reality that news can be covered in different platforms than traditional newspaper form. Gissler is a former editor of the Milwaukee Journal, now part of the Journal Sentinel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Offensive comments draw proposal to ban student media at Virginia Tech

Offensive comments at Virginia Tech draw a proposal to disband student media. The university isn't going to follow up, but the fact that a student group called for ending student media brings Eric Sass to comment on the future of social media and free speech.

Google under fire for cutting users' privacy

Google, which seems to almost want to become hated by copying everyone else's mistakes, is under fire for its new Buzz social media platform. The problem, privacy advocates contend, is that it automatically makes gmail users' contact list public. It's a big problem, and one that Google should have anticipated with the flap over Facebook's security problems.

Frankly, I've used gmail for more than a decade, but I'm switching if I can't shut down this "option." My contact list, boring as it is since it lists several hundred contacts, should not be made public unless I want it to. I've long said the biggest threat to the continued expansion of media on the Internet is stupidity of Internet companies who treat their users with disdain, especially in regards to privacy issues.

79% wouldn't pay for Internet site -- if same content were available free

A new survey has some interesting statistics on Internet viewers' willingness to pay for content. Actually, make that unwillingness to pay since 79 percent say they won't pay -- providing they can get the same content free.

Let's start with the fact that 21 percent said they would pay. Then add in the percentage that say they would pay if the content were improved (71 percent). Then factor in that the first group assumes they can get the same content elsewhere.

But those same consumers are willing to pay for some content, especially movies, music and games.

It seems the key is turning your content into a commodity. If I were operating a site and considering adding a fee, I'd work on a) adding exclusive content, 2) branding some of my content (bylined articles by good reporters and writers, 3) making it easy to pay. All these, of course, were what newspapers did a hundred years ago, the last time they were in a competitive environment. It worked, by the way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Do newspaper web sites complement print -- or compete?

A new study of Australian newspapers offers some intriguing thoughts about readers, print and web both. The study, offered in the Sydney Morning Herald, says that web sites are complementing print editions, rather than competing with them. It suggests that readers use the two platforms for different purposes.

"If readers want to know more about cars, dining out, real estate and sport they will turn to the newspaper, while readers who are interested in travel, technology, and celebrities and gossip will get it from a newspaper website," it said.

For a lot of years, I've been dismayed at the quality of studies reporting on newspapers because they seldom looked at how people are using media. This one apparently does.

At the same time, the question posed in the headline above is one that I think every publisher and editor should be asking daily.

A different report of a different aspect of what appears to be the same study focuses on print newspaper sales in Australia, reporting they are doing much better than those in the U.S. or even Europe, even showing some increases.

Reporter optimistic about investigative reporting's future

An investigative reporter talks about the future of investigative reporting. The Washington Post's Steve Fainair is optimistic, although offering the usual caveats. He points out that the tools are more plentiful and easier to use than ever before.

As to the future, "I’m still in the optimistic camp. The media landscape is obviously changing in huge ways, and it’s hard to know how it will continue to evolve with the technology. But the demand for good information is not going to end, and we’re increasingly presented with new ways to get information and deliver it. Also, the situation is so much more competitive that the media itself is more accountable, which is long overdue. If you can’t deliver these days, it won’t work."