Forbes likes blogs. In fact, the magazine that bills itself as the “Capitalist Tool” is now requiring its reporters to blog. The new rule is part of an effort to maximize the value of True/Slant, a blog-driven citizen journalism venture founded by Lewis Dvorkin, a veteran journalist who’s worked at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, AOL and – you guessed it – Forbes.
Forbes Media was an early investor in True/Slant and apparently liked what they saw enough to buy the company and hire Dvorkin. In its new skin, the True/Slant platform will include content not only from Forbes’ bloggers but also from selected experts in finance and investing. The Columbia Journalism Review story says the first few entries look promising, but questions whether Forbes will be able to maintain its quality standards if all reporters are now required to blog on the side. It contrasts the Forbes approach to The Economist, which rigorously enforces a consistent style and voice, regardless of author.
Dvorkin doesn’t seem too concerned. “Editorial command and control is a relic of the past and has no place in a Web world,” he wrote in a True/Slant anniversary post last year. “It will slow you down, cost you and stifle the upheaval you want to unleash.” And CJR’s Lauren Kirchner is inclined to give Dvorkin the benefit of the doubt. “One can argue that, given the state of the online news industry, upheaval is good, and the time for Hail Mary passes is upon us,” she writes.
Speaking of magazines, Jeff Jarvis suggests eight ways magazines can survive if they’re willing to turn the traditional model on its head. Survival is job one for the U.S. magazine industry, which has seen circulation of the top brands plummet by more than 60% this decade. Jarvis’ number one suggestion: “Ignore print. Enable community…Magazines still have tremendous, if very perishable, value if you know how to unlock it because their people care about the same stuff. Enable communities to build and meet and create value around their interests, especially those that are specialized.” Magazines are still nexus points for communities of readers, but their value derives not from producing content as much as enabling community members to create and manage their own. Curation, anyone? Some of his recommendations – specifically that magazines diversify their revenue models – sound a lot like the ones we proposed back in April.
Publish2 announced the launch of News Exchange Co-ops, which make it “easier than ever for news organizations to share content with each other.” The new service is based on News Exchange, a service the fledgling company announced in May as “a new efficient supply and distribution chain for high quality content brands.” In its earlier announcement, Publish2 positioned itself squarely against the Associated Press, the wire service that angered some of its largest members with price increases as their businesses entered a free-fall two years ago. Unlike the AP, Publish2 isn’t set up as a source of original content, but rather as a way for news organizations to create content-sharing networks organized around topics, regions or anything else. If this sounds a lot like RSS feeds, there’s a little more to it than that. Publishers can “Set limits on which newsorgs have access to your content. You can exclude specific newsorgs, include specific newsorgs, or open your content up to everyone,” says a tutorial on the home page. Copy editing is apparently extra. Megan Garber has an excellent analysis of News Exchange on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog that looks at its rivalry with AP.
Publish2 describes as co-op as “a group of news organizations that all give each other permission to republish the content from one or more of their newswires.” The concept is similar to informal cooperatives that have been established in New York and Ohio. “You can create a co-op, invite your sharing partners to join, and then each of you adds a ‘Local News’ newswire to the co-op to share with the group,” wrote Ryan Sholin, Director of News Innovation, in an e-mail. “All newspapers contribute via their newswires, automatically importing stories from their print publishing systems. All newspapers can then automatically export co-op content to their print publishing systems using AP standard formats.” There’s that AP again.
National Newspaper Association (NNA) representatives are opposing the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) proposal to drop Saturday service, saying it will hurt rural communities that have few alternatives to weekly newspapers for local information. NNA postal expert Max Heath said the loss will be felt most acutely in coverage of high school sports, which “form the nucleus of community gatherings. If the Postal Service’s mission is still to bind the nation together, it must use the bindings that the community chooses,” Heath told the Postal Regulatory Commission. In fact, the cost savings that are achieved from axing Saturday service will be more than offset by competition from private delivery services, which will step in to serve local newspapers, Heath said. Newspaper delivery has been the only growth item in the USPS’s revenue line over the last year. The USPS says it’s on track to lose $7 billion this year and that eliminating Saturday service could save $3 billion. Lawmakers are trying to block the plan.
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