Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Celebrity mags lose circulation battles

Official magazine circulation figures show general declines, but especially so for celebrity publications. Here's a spot where I think Internet sites like or really hurt. They can report the celebrity news quicker and, since we're really talking fluff here, just as completely.

Why are restaurant sites so bad?

Slate offers an amusing -- and thoughtful -- story about restaurant web sites. Under the heading "Overdone/Why are restaurant web sites so horrifically bad," the story details the problems with many restaurant sites (of course, I agree; after having spent many, many clicks trying to get a menu on a site).

The short answer is that restaurants try to duplicate the dining ambiance, not make the site particularly user-friendly. It offers criticism, with links, and advice on how to create a great site.

Still, what's most interesting is the writing. One sample: "Still, I'm not arguing that Hubert Keller is responsible for the worst restaurant website ever created. That's a bit like trying to decide on the most awful serial killer in history." Content drives the Internet, like it does all media.

Tribune thinks about producing its own tablet

Tribune Co. is the latest publisher to flirt with the idea of providing its own tablet to those making long-term subscriptions. It reportedly would be a Samsung tablet customized to the company's major papers (including the Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Baltimore Sun).

Although some cast doubt on the idea (Wired's Tim Carmody thinks it's a crazy idea, for example), I think it shows initiative. If the app is designed well (see USA Today's iPad app), tablets offer a great deal of appeal for delivery of newspaper material. I wish them well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

British riots and the media

More and more lately I find myself looking at overseas media to explain the all-important "why" that American media seems too understaffed to answer (I'm being kind, but I do it lack of staffing is why we read about horse-race politics instead of issues and crime report upon crime report without reporters ever seeming to wonder "why?"). Incidentally, this includes American news. The Guardian's reporting on the debt deal is much clearer than what I've read in the US, including explaining the politics behind the maneuvering.

Today, while reading a first-person report about the London riots, I saw the media being given at least part of the blame for them, both new and old media. Writer Michael Goldfarb writes that while the underlying causes are complex, television coverage stirred up emotions and texting allowed groups of youths to quickly move to areas without police. The instant news offers what's happening without context (same in Britain as in the US) while new media lets "flash mobs" coordinate. His point -- which I think is valid -- is that without the media, the riots wouldn't have happened or would have been much less volatile.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Well, I'm sitting here in my hot office this morning, playing with the cat, and reading a lot of information about the media before posting some of it, with links, onto this blog. I'm soon going to get a Diet Coke because I'm getting thirsty, but want to finish this friendly, homey, written-by-a-human post before taking a short break.

Ooops, stopped to pet the cat again.

OK, enough of this nicey, nice stuff. I was responding to a study published by the Poynter Institute that looked at Twitter posts written by humans and those generated by computers. While human-written Tweets generated more click-throughs, there is still some evidence that computer-generated Tweets have their value as well.

So, I'm going back to my usual style.

Ad Age sees magazine circulation gains

Good news about magazine circulations. Most will hold or improve, according to Ad Age. It's not great expectations, but positive news for most of them. Newsstand sales are lagging.

Article likens Murdock's News Corp. to the Mafia

And what would a day be without more about Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.? Michael Wolff (who wrote a biography of Murdoch) compares the media company to the Mafia in a long AdWeek article. After writing about how Murdoch ignored his promises in taking over the Wall Street Journal, Wolff writes: "News Corp. protects, too, its reprobates, its pirates, seeing them as, somehow, the soul of the company." It's a sad commentary on media today.

NY Times opens its beta testing site to all

New York Times introduced its public beta testing site for new products. It had seven offerings when Ad Age looked at it. This was announced some time ago, but just opened up on Saturday. It can be viewed by anyone registered with the Times, whether you subscribe or not.

Giving S&P's error a PR examination

Can you imagine a bigger public relations nightmare than downgrading the U.S. bond ranking, then being called for a $2 trillion error? That's what happened to S&P, and, according to PRNewser, the error was as historic as the downgrade.

Dwell called "most innovative" digital magazine

Which digital magazine does a poll find readers think is most innovative?

It's Dwell, followed by followed by Popular Science, Architectural Digest, Wired and, surprise, granola-crunching/planet-hugging Mother Earth News.

Interesting is that Media Daily News, an electronic newsletter that reported the survey, didn't offer a link to Dwell. Here's the link.