Newspaper Industry Trends and the Articles That Talk About Them

trendsRoundup of recent rends in journalism. Worth a read:
Ad Revenue Pain Meets the Multiplier Effect– Poynter Online by Rick Edmonds- 3/4/09
Write up about Morgan Stanley tech analyst Mark Meeker’s predictions of newspaper ad spending over the next couple of years. Out looks is grim, with the potential for continued, increased decline until the end of the current recession. At that point, Meeker thinks there’ll be a noticeable bounce back.

NYT wants to build and spread a platform for local journalism; sees business model in ‘placeblogosphere’– Nieman Journalism Lab- 3/5/09
The New York Times’ incubator project in hyper-local blogging, “The Local,” will never make money. And this isn’t some fatalistic prediction by Nieman’s Harvard Journalism boys, it’s straight from the mouth of Jim Schachter, the editor of digital initiatives at The Times. Yet another case of lots of content and no one to buy it.

Twitter for Newshounds– Poynter Online by Amy Gahran- 7/9/08
The use of Twitter by journalists has been something of a buzz topic lately. Here Gahran looks at its myriad uses from linking to crowdsourcing.

*And now, those of you who aren’t grading me are going to want to back away from the jump on this one. Actually, the linked articles are generally pretty legit, it’s the annotation that may result in severe boredom. In my defense, this is part of a future research paper and I’d rather not have to remove dumb ass e-phrasing later. Promise I’ll get back to regular posting this weekend.

PRINT PAPERS ARE FADING
Perez-Pena, Richard. “Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue.” The New York Times [New York] 23 June 2008.

In a deeply ironic article, The New York Times media writer Richard Perez-Pena discusses the massive revenue drops of 2007, early 2008 and the months to follow. From Hearst’s The San Francisco Chronicle, which was losing $1million/week to a then struggling (now bankrupt) Chicago Tribune, Perez-Pena chronicles a revenue drop sharper than most in the business expected (8% in 2007, another 3.1% after 2008).

Media General CEO Marshall Norton is quoted as predicting “that rather than bankruptcies, you’d see combinations” of major news brands. In the meantime though, Perez-Pena touches on all the obvious factors leading up to the bankruptcies: the internet snatching print readership, rising paper prices, a bad economy in general.

PAPERS SEEK “FOREIGN SUGAR-DADDIES”
Economist.com. “Well In the Red But Still Well Read.” The Economist 23 Jan. 2009. 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm? story_id=13004377>.

The online editorial board of The Economist questions the recent slew of major newspapers turning to “foreign sugar-daddies” to bail out their struggling companies. Chief among the major papers receiving foreign investments are London’s Evening Standard and The New York Times. A 75% stake in the former was just purchased by former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev. As for The Times, Mexican business man Carlos Slim just handed down a $250million loan. (This doesn’t get him a seat on the editorial board, though).

The Economist wonders whether or not this type of foreign investment is wise, but concedes that “beggers can’t be choosers,” saying that the people want the news and newspapers have few other options left.

TRYING TO BEND THE INTERNET TO A NEWSPAPER’S WILL
Schafer, Jack. “How Newspapers Tried to Invent the Web But Failed.” Slate Magazine 06 Jan. 2009.

Jack Schafer, editor and writer of Slate Magazine’s “Press Box” media criticism column, looks as newspaper involvement in the internet over the past two decades, singling out the major and ongoing point of their failure. In trying to turn the web into a newspaper instead of adapting their papers for the web, Schafer asserts that most major news brand squandered time, experience and money, making minimal progress over a long period of time. They’ve only realized the error of their ways very recently, leading to a renewed focus on web innovations.

PAYMENT FOR ONLINE JOURNALISM
Micropayments
Isaacson, Walter. “How To Save Your Newspaper.” TIME Magazine 05 Feb. 2009.

In what is quickly becoming one of the most referenced articles about potential methods for monetizing news online, Aspen Institute CEO, former CNN CEO and TIME Managing Editor Walter Isaacson makes a case for micropayments for new consumption. Isaacson talks about last year’s “tipping point,” the point at which (according to a Pew Center study), more people were getting their news for free online than paying for it in print.

Isaacson argues that, in spite of this increased web traffic, online advertisements alone are not enough to sustain news brands, especially when advertising expenditure is declining across the board. According to Isaacson, “the key” to success online is an “iTunes-easy method of micropayment” the sort of thing that “will permit impulse purchases of a newspaper.”  Though this method has failed online in the past (Flooz, Beanz, et al), Isaacson argues that making the payments easy enough (iTunes style) could solve old issues with micropayments.

REDUCTION OF PRESS AUTHORITY
Rosen, Jay. “Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press.” Press Think. 12 Jan. 2009. New York University. 13 Jan. 2009 <http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink&gt;.

NYU Professor, Off the Bust Publisher (along with The Huffington Post), owner/writer of PressThink.org, NewAssignment.net and Beatblogging.org, Jay Rosen is about as tapped in to developments in journalism as anyone can be. He argues that a new level of connectedness (through the internet) has reduced the god-like authority of journalists and promoted citizen involvement in the news. It’s also made people less willing to pay for their news.

Rosen organizes journalism into a diagram consisting of three parts: the sphere of legitimate debate, inhabited by traditional journalists; the sphere of consensus, a place for uncontroversial news on which everyone can agree; and the sphere of deviance, a previously sparsely populated area growing ever more populous. Rosen argues that the constricted nature of the first sphere has resulted in the growth of the third as non-professionals realize they can contribute. This, he says, is contributing to the decline of
mainstream media.

GOING “HYPER-LOCAL”
Glaser, Mark. “Your Guide to Hyper-Local News.” Media Shift. 13 Dec. 2007. PBS. 4 Mar. 2009 <http://www.pbs.org/mediashift&gt;.

PBS MediaShift’s “host” Mark Glaser gives a comprehensive look at news organizations’ trend towards hyper-localizing coverage. Glaser asserts that hyper-local coverage consists of the specifics that have long been overlooked by traditional media. The recent ease and cost effectiveness of online publishing allows for an unprecedented amount of very localized beat coverage.

Glaser covers everything from blogging (citizen self-moderated) to online forums, aggregation sites, and blogs with relatively strict editorial control/standards. When it comes to beusiness models though, Glaser admits that a 2007 Univesity of Maryland study of 191 hyper-local sites may be right: “most sites are simply labors of love.” Essentially, hyper-local sites are popping up everywhere, run both by individuals and major news organizations, but the question of where the money will come from remains

CITIZEN JOURNALISM
Michel, Amanda. “Get Off the Bus.” Columbia Journalism Review Mar. 2009.

Off The Bus director Amanda Michel discusses pro-am (participatory) journalism as experienced during the course of The Huffington Post and NewAssignment.net’s Off the Bus election coverage project. Off the Bus offered “ground level coverage of campaign ‘08” by citizens as well as future, current and former journalists and was one of the most successful exercises in pro-am journalism to date. She attributes it both to the motivation of the contributors and also the fact that anyone could participate but there was still editorial oversight and every submission wasn’t guaranteed to get published.

In “Get Off the Bus,” Michel explains that Off the Bus’s methods are a worthy addition to mainstream coverage and testament to the fact that citizens can participate in the reporting of the news. “Across the country, news budgets and newsrooms are shrinking,” she writes. “In all this, there are many opportunities for critical collaborative-reporting projects that will engage thousands of people who want to make themselves useful to the press,” she continues, getting to the heart of the matter.

ONLINE METHODS
The Politico.com Model
Sherman, Gabriel. “The Scoop Factory.” The New Republic (2009).

New York Magazine contributing editor and New Republic special correspondent Gabriel Sherman takes a close look at the online news model of getting up really, really early and reporting events as they happens all day long, as exemplified by Politico.com. Though “The Scoop Factory” is a look at Politico in particular, as the subhead—“Inside Politico and the brave new world of post-print journalism”—suggests, it is intended as a look at the practices of a handful of online news sources.

Sherman praises the good: on the ground election coverage so comprehensive and quick that Politico’s morning and day time content invariably became the content for blog and news pundit fodder all day and night. But he also questions the bad: not enough money, the punishing schedules that have resulted in 12 contributors leaving in the last few months and the possibility that this will make Politico (and sites like it) unsustainable models.

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