Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Greed and stupidity

That's all I could think of while reading MediaPost's account of a pushback by iPad users who feel gouged by magazine publishers. The problem's that the wonderful magazine apps -- which are supposed to save magazines -- cost $4.99 an issue. As one user said, " I can get 56 issues of the paper version for $20. How am I supposed to feel about this?” If the iPad is the future of magazines, then poor management better be in the past.

By the way, cost of product is what's keeping me from buying a Kindle. With a public library right down the street and paperbacks going for $5-6 (cheaper used), why would I pay $14.99 a book? I'm going to be spending a month overseas and have been buying 30 used paperbacks to take at a total cost of not more than $60. The Kindle price would be nearly $450 for 30 books. Doesn't make sense to me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The filterless presidency?

The daily Gawker suggests that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are making the White House press corps obsolete, suggesting a future where "the filterless presidency" is a reality. Not that long ago, a television show called "Who Do You Trust?" was popular. Given the fact-free zones that cable television networks have become and the incredibly ignorant stuff that fills Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, I'm ready to bring it back.

British newspaper websites offer a laboratory

As paywalls rise and fall, Britain is becoming the new media laboratory.

The Times of London (a storied newspaper now owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp) plans to erect a fairly expensive paywall in June. Online readers will be asked to pay about $2 a week. Meanwhile a Scots paper, the Southern Reporter, is abandoning its pay wall.

Given that newspaper readership is healthy in Britain and that the BBC website and the Guardian, which intends to continue free access, offers solid journalistic alternatives, it will be interesting to watch. And journalism itself has a stake in the outcome.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times

It's Monday, time for some depressing news. Actually, it's both buoyant and depressing. The Los Angeles Times reports, at a time when magazines are optimistic since the new iPad seems perfect for magazines and the industry appears to be tailoring its product to the new platform, that journalistic standards are lower than ever in the magazine business.

Reporting on a survey of magazine publishers, the Times says that "about half of the respondents said that copy-editing standards for their websites were looser than for their print editions. An additional 11% said that online content wasn't copy-edited at all. The numbers for fact checking were even more troubling: 40% said that web standards were looser than print, and 17% said that they did no fact checking whatsoever online."

The report, by Victor Navasky of Columbia University and Evan Lerner of ScienceBlogs.com, then gets into a "speed versus accuracy" discussion, which I think is the crux. If a magazine expects me to pay (and they do), they'd better give me accuracy. I don't pay $60 a year for the New Yorker (as I do) for speed; I pay it for accuracy. I'm not going to pay a lesser amount for inaccurate stories online -- I can find enough of them for free.