Mark Glaser has an extended interview with Jennifer Carroll, Gannett’s vice president for digital content. She gives a progress report on Gannett’s Information Center initiative, a 2006 campaign to remake its 85 daily newspaper newsrooms into 24-hour digital publishing platforms. Carroll says that the programming and video skills the company has taught its journalist has led to some truly innovative coverage, like the Des Moines Register’s video/database/map mashup coverage of the Parkersburg tornadoes. Another innovation is CinciNavigator, a mass mashup created by the Cincinnati Enquirer that embeds information about local events ranging from arrests to nightclub listings on a map.
Carroll says database reporting can create a groundswell of interest that leads to improved print sales. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle found that by publishing a database on police overtime the Thursday before a Sunday print date, it created anticipation that drove the highest Sunday single-copy sales of the year.
Carroll says Gannett is hiring and expanding its commitment to digital journalism, even against the backdrop of a terrible business climate. A few people comment on the interview skeptically, suggesting that newspapers will never be a destination for multimedia content.
Future for Journalism Bright, Just Not So Much for Newspapers
John Kirch writes about a recent panel on the future of journalism at the University of Maryland-College Park. He offers the optimistic view that that future is bright. The comments by panelists reflect our own opinion that the best time to get into journalism is when everyone else is getting out. The future of big branded news institutions is dim, panelists said, but journalists will still be able to survive and thrive by promoting their own brands instead of the brains of their employers.
Paraphrasing the panelists, Birch writes, “Reporters will not only have to know how to interview sources and write stories for different media platforms,…they will have to know basic business principles so that they can create individual brand names for themselves that can be used to build followings and create job opportunities.”
Knowledge of business principles goes against the grain of conventional journalism teaching, of course. However, that doesn’t mean journalist have to sell their souls, only that they need to be able to promote themselves because they are the product. The risk is that journalists fall back to providing only content that delivers a large audience, such as celebrity gossip. We hope to see nonprofit and public interest organizations emerge that promote content that the public needs to know about. The difference is that the content mix will be pulled by the readers more than pushed by editors. What that will look like is anybody’s guess.
Jeff Jarvis is as provocative as ever in this withering attack on a recent AJR piece by Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi. Farhi makes the case that journalists aren’t responsible for the plunging fortunes of newspapers; a variety of competitive and demographic trends are the real culprit. Balderdash, says Jarvis. “Victimhood is an irresponsible abdication of responsibility, a surrender.” We suspect that Jarvis was trying to stir up controversy and boost attendance to his forthcoming conference more than he was trying to savage a colleague. In that respect, he was successful. There are more than 150 comments on the piece, many of them thought-provoking, and Jarvis returns to engage with his audience frequently during the debate.
While free daily newspapers have struggled in US, they’re evidently hitting a chord with the commuter set in the UK. Brand Republic reports that free dailies given away to commuters are gaining a foothold with the younger readers, who have largely forsaken paid daily newspapers. “City AM‘s daily reach has increased from 23% in 2007 to 32% this year, while the FT’s has dipped from 22% to 20%,” writes Mike Fletcher. Metro’s circulation now tops 3 milllion across the UK and has brand extensions that offer eight different platforms for advertisers. Perhaps more importantly, the freebies have solid demographics among the up-and-coming audience of young adults. London Lite, which is published by the same company that also produces the Daily Mail and Evening Standard, counts almost 80% of its readers in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic group.
The Providence Journal will lay off 25 part-time in six full-time employees, all from its news operation. The move leaves a news staff of 200 people and a total staff of 705 at the ProJo, down from 763 in early September.
If online competition is hitting the broadcast industry as hard as the print business, why haven’t there been more layoffs in TV newsrooms? Here’s one explanation.
The collapse of so Wall Street firms will hit the media business hard, with newspapers taking a disproportionate share of the body blows, according to a Bernstein Research report. The report says finance and insurance/real estate advertising makes up 21% of newspapers’ ad revenue, about double that of broadcast media and slightly more than that of online media. “History suggests that another industry will eventually fill the growth void left by the insurance/real estate and finance sectors, but the operative word is clearly ‘eventually,” wrote the report’s author, analyst Michael Nathanson.
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