By paulgillin | April 3, 2008 - 6:29 am - Posted in BusinessModel, Demographics, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers, Solutions

Last night I had the chance to moderate a panel discussion in front of about 150 college marketing majors in Boston, so I took the opportunity to ask them about newspapers. When I asked how many students in the room regularly read a newspaper, about half of the hands went up. This was more than I expected, so I followed up: “How many of you read the Boston Globe or Boston Herald regularly?” Only about 15 hands. “So if you aren’t reading the Globe or Herald, what the heck are you reading?”

A number of names were shouted out, but the one I heard most was Metro, the “free daily newspaper written and designed for young and ambitious professionals” and intended to be read in about 15 minutes. Metro is now distributed in more than 100 cities and seems to be hitting a mark. Although I’ve referred to Metro as “McPaper for local markets,” the fact is that the it’s winning a demographic group that major dailies have tried and failed to court for years. Maybe there are some ideas there. In any case, college kids do read the newspaper, as Kevin Maney notes…

There Are Some Newspapers That College Students Actually DO Read

Former USA Today reporter Kevin Maney agrees that the young audience isn’t a lost cause. He raises an interesting question: If young people supposedly don’t read newspapers, then how do you explain the success of college newspapers, which nearly half of college students read twice a week? Maney suggests it’s because college papers are feisty, local and community-driven, or all the things that big city dailies aren’t. Maney also suggests that newspapers’ focus on appealing to young readers may be misguided. Instead, they should go after the older readers – where at least they have a chance – and try to figure out strategies to get youngsters to change their reading habits later in life.

Good News – But No Links – in Raleigh

The Executive Editor of the Raleigh News & Observer writes a stirring column about the growth of the newspaper’s overall print and online circulation. It’s clear that this editor understands the importance of the online product and readership trends in that direction. In that vein, he cites several online sources, but doesn’t link to any of them. More than a decade after newspapers went online, many still don’t provide this simple functionality, which is so intrinsic to the Web. Whether the issues are technical or human, the lack of links on some newspaper websites is a growing embarrassment, particularly in a column like this one.

Rethinking the Value of Editors

Washington Post Managing Editor Phil Bennett and Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. think there are too many editors in the news reporting process and that a few should be thrown overboard. Reporters are better writers today than their predecessors were and don’t need as much line editing. They also cite the quality of the lightly edited stuff the Post runs online as an example that journalists can police themselves. Slate’s media critic says, “Yay!”

TechCrunch Gets it 70% Right

As the debate sharpens over the role of bloggers and journalists in news reporting, TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld writes from the perspective of one who has been both. In many ways, blogging is harder than reporting, he says. It’s a 24/7 obsession and speed is everything. This is one of the reasons TechCrunch has been so successful; it never stops posting new material. He makes an interesting on accuracy. Readers “are our copy editors and fact checkers…Our philosophy is that it is better to get 70 percent of a story up fast and get the basic facts right than to wait another hour (or a day) to get the remaining 30 percent. We can always update the post or do another one as new information comes in.” This approach to reporting is anathema to print journalists but very common online, where the changeability of the medium is considered to be part of the copy-editing process.

Short Takes

Author, professor and media expert Robert Picard posts an upbeat account of the state of traditional media industries on his blog. The way he sees it, media industries are changing and change difficult to handle, but the need for robust mainstream media will exist for a long time, the economic picture isn’t nearly as dire as many people think and we all have reason to be optimistic.


The American Journalism Review remarks on the opening of the revamped and refurbished Newseum in Washington. Reading this account, you can’t help but be touched by the courage that journalists have shown over the years by placing themselves in the line of fire. Apparently, the museum reminds us in stark terms that journalism can be a dangerous and even heroic profession.

And One You Just Have to Read

Salon tells how to get full access to The Wall Street Journal for free instead of paying $79 annually. If you know the story or topic you want, the technique is simple and guilt-free. If you truly want to end-run the Journal’s firewall, you have to install a Firefox plug-in and basically pretend to be somebody you’re not. The ethical question is up to you. We just report the news.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 at 6:29 am and is filed under BusinessModel, Demographics, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. April 3, 2008 @ 6:11 pm



    re 70 percent right: 90 percent of all news could wait till tomorrow to be told. we’re so addicted to immediacy that we treat it as a necessity. We do it because we can, not because we should.

    Posted by tom mangan