By paulgillin | February 20, 2018 - 12:13 pm - Posted in Facebook

“Research has shown that the downside of powerful, centralized networks is their susceptibility to being subverted and exploited,” writes The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims in a fascinating analysis of why social networks, which were supposed to challenge hierarchy, have reinforced it instead.
Delving into network theory, Mims explains why networks that start out with flat, distributed power structures ultimately, become vertical hierarchies. That was true in the Bolshevik revolutions of 1917, when a circle of insiders around Joseph Stalin created a hierarchy within the supposedly distributed network of citizens who overthrew the Czar.
It is also true in the 16th century, when the printing press and Martin Luther’s vernacular versions of the Bible, rather than democratizing access to information, led to nearly 200 years of civil war. The impact of the internet has often been compared to that of Gutenberg’s invention.
“Even when networks aren’t architected for this kind of control, they tend to organize themselves in ways that lead to disproportionate influence by a handful of their members,” Mims writes. “When any new person or entity joins a network, it is likely to attach to the most visible hubs, making them even more influential.”
Facebook magnified this effect by designing its algorithms to optimize for engagement rather than for truth. Russia understood this, and brilliantly exploited it to foster confusion and misinformation in the 2016 election.


Pro Publica is using fire to fight fire. Co. Design reports on the work that a team at the nonprofit news organization has been doing to employ the tools of big data to see if companies like Amazon and Facebook are living up to their own policies.
The team crowdsourced the process of identifying examples of people who felt their free-speech rights had been violated by Facebook, or that they had been denied information because of some arbitrary decision. Facebook publishes its censorship rules, but verifying compliance is nearly impossible. That’s what the big data team at Pro Publica figured out a way to do. It used a Facebook Messenger survey to gather input from the crowd and then combed through the most puzzling cases by hand. In the end, Facebook had to admit not following its own policies in 22 examples brought forth by members.
The Pro Public team’s next step will be to investigate how political ads work by using a browser plug-in that scrapes Facebook ads and analyzes them using machine learning. The team has already published some of its initial findings, including the fact that many political ads don’t carry the required disclaimers or candidate endorsements.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
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By paulgillin | January 26, 2009 - 9:24 am - Posted in Facebook, Hyper-local, Solutions

micropaymentsYou can skip roughly the first 1,500 words of Jon Austin’s lengthy essay on The Rowdy Crowd and jump right to the nut graph about micropayments. This otherwise rambling opinion piece makes a persuasive case that the news business can create a viable economic model by charging small amounts for each item of content a reader consumes. We’re not talking 25 cents here; we’re talking ¼ of a cent. The technology actually exists to charge very small amounts for very focused transactions, Austin writes, and the newspaper industry could be the first with sufficient motivation to make the system work.

Micropayments were an idea that came out of the early Internet. The idea was that electronic networks removed so much cost from a transaction that it was theoretically possible to conduct profitable exchanges at prices of as little as a few cents. The cell phone companies have been doing this for years by debiting transactions against a buyer’s phone bill. Now Apple is selling iPhone software applications for as little as 99 cents. It’s not a big step from there to ask readers to pay a few pennies to get an article they can’t find anywhere else. People are already comfortable with carrying around their Starbucks and McDonald’s cards and charging small transactions against them. Why can’t the same thing work for information?

The Economist suggests a similar idea in a short column that suggests that consumers may be more willing to pay than one would think I they didn’t have a choice. “Few people would have guessed how much British viewers would be prepared to pay to watch televised football matches—which used to be on free-to-view channels—before Mr Murdoch’s satellite television bought up the rights and began charging,” says the unnamed editorialist. The piece also quotes Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton, saying that the paper’s online revenues now pay for the entire print and online editorial staff, a claim we hadn’t seen before. This makes print officially a loss leader at the LA Times.

It seems to us that micropayments are worth another look. If a consortium of publishers could agree to share the costs and to firewall some of their content this way, the technology just might have a chance to generate a meaningful revenue stream for publishers whose local content is truly exclusive.

Le Lockout

“Photographers and journalists at the paper make an average salary of $88,000 for a 30-hour week. Editors make an annual average salary of $125,000. Employees are entitled to four to six weeks of annual vacation paid at time-and-a-half.” Sound like paradise? Actually, the union is pretty unhappy with the state of affairs at Le Journal de Montreal and a contract dispute with management led to a lockout over the weekend. Management charges that the union refuses to negotiate a contract in good faith,  and this has frustrated modernization efforts. Union leaders charge that parent company Quebecor Media’s plans to merge Le Journal’s online presence with the media conglomerate’s other holdings will debase the quality of journalism. We can’t remember a newspaper union ever making that a bargaining issue before, particularly at a time of crisis.

Miscellany

Writing on the Knight Digital Media Center, David Westphal suggests that newspapers could tap into foundation grants to shore up their investigative journalism practices. Noting that the Knight Foundation recently gave $5 million to 21 civic foundations for projects that sounded strikingly like local news operations, Westphal suggests that public/private partnerships could enable newspapers to tap in to grants made to local civic organizations and fund projects that would be otherwise unsustainable. It turns out that philanthropies aren’t as resistant to the idea as you might think. Westphal quotes sources at the J-Lab at American University saying the lab has already funded 120 pilot projects with mainstream news organizations. He also quotes the president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors saying the idea deserves discussion.


nyt_buildingA couple of big asset deals may be about to go down. PaidContent.org reports that The New York Times Co. is close to selling 19 of the 25 floors of its new headquarters building in Manhattan to an investment management firm. We weren’t even aware that there were any investment management firms left. The deal would reportedly have W.P. Carey & Co. buying the space and leasing them back to the Times. In a sign of how screwy the real estate business is, the Times Co. would retain ownership of the six floors it doesn’t occupy. PaidContent also says Tribune Co. is mulling a $900 million offer for the Chicago Cubs from the Ricketts family. The offer is the best of the three Tribune has received. Even if it’s successful, approvals and financing could take months.


Tim Windsor, who’s newly blogging at Nieman Journalism Lab, points us to a veteran journalist with the delightfully ethnic name of Gina Chen who’s got a terrific how-to blog called Save the Media. Gina exhorts journalists to dive in and start using tools like Facebook and Twitter. She also offers advice to make those tools a little less intimidating. Her plain-talk style is easy to read and she understands the journalist’s perspective. She joins our blog roll and we recommend you bookmark her site.


The Port of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is bullish on newspapers. Or at least bullish on newsprint. It will spend £4.5 million (about $6.1) expanding its paper and newsprint handling facilities. “From nothing just ten years ago, paper imports are now an important part of the port’s diversified trade base,” said the port’s chief executive.


Terence Walsh of the Frederick (Md.) News-Post gets caught up in Obamania, asserting that the new president “has inspired more people, especially young people, to pay attention to the world around them and serve their communities than any politician in recent memory.” He believes this is a rare opportunity for newspapers to reassert their value to young people who are newly energized to learn about the world around them. We hope he’s right, thought ungluing young people’s eyes from their Facebook news feed might be a bigger task than editors imagine.


Class act: The weekly Town Meeting of Elk Rapids (Mich.) shut down after more than 30 years last week. It announced its closure in a two-sentence ad on page 2 of its final edition: “Today marks the final issue of the Town Meeting. We appreciate your loyalty over the 30-plus years the Town Meeting has served your community.”

And Finally…

Chris Freiberg started a Facebook group asking people to buy a newspaper on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) as a way of showing support for the industry. He invited 600 friends and word-of-mouth has since swelled acceptance to more than 14,000 people. It’s a nice endorsement for a beleaguered industry, but you do have to read some of the raw and funny wall posts.

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By paulgillin | January 2, 2009 - 10:00 am - Posted in Fake News, Hyper-local, Solutions

We sorted through our 147 entries of 2008 to come up with the stories that surprised us, delighted us or made us shake our heads in disbelief. We’re presenting them as a series of posts entries over four days. Tomorrow we’ll conclude with our favorite quotes of the year.

Creative Solutions

A group of Ohio newspapers got together to share stories and even reporting assignments in a novel response to cost pressure. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Toledo Blade, Cincinnati Enquirer and Akron Beacon Journal now post all their daily stories on a private website where editors can pick whatever they want and publish it in their own pages. The tactic has now been tested in several other parts of the US.


Pasadena Now, a small weekly, fired its entire editorial staff and farmed out coverage to a staff of Indian writers recruited on Craigslist. Publisher James McPherson pays the virtual staff about $7.50 per 1,000 words, compared to the $30,000 to $40,000 he was paying each reporter annually. The Indian writers “report” via telephones, web harvesting and webcams, with support and guidance from McPherson and his wife.


helpless_housewifeNeighborsgo.com, a spinoff of the Dallas Morning News, uses a social network to anchor a community journalism initiative. Local residents create profiles and post information about their interests, and some celebrities are emerging, like the Helpless Housewife (right). Every week, editors dig through content submitted by citizens and produce 18 local print editions.


Research and Markets released a report entitled “Offshoring By US Newspaper Publishers” that sees big growth in the newspaper outsourcing industry, particularly in India. About 2,300 people were employed offshore to serve US and UK newspaper companies in July, 2008, the report said. However, “The total offshore opportunity from newspaper publishers is estimated to be approximately $3.5 billion,” in the long run.


manual_frontA team of enterprising publishers in the UK produced a four-page newspaper created entirely by hand. “Every word and every image and every mark of any kind in The Manual was drawn by a team of volunteers – mostly illustrators,” the website says. The group foresees a day when “handmade qualities can transform newspapers from ‘junk’ to collectable.


The Politico, a Washington-based boutique news service that specializes in Capitol Hill coverage, signed up more than 100 newspapers for its news service, including the Arizona Republic, Des Moines Register, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Philadelphia Inquirer. Launched in early 2007, the specialized print/online/broadcast hybrid focuses exclusively on politics, is reportedly profitable and has become a must-read for political junkies.


CNN announced plans to challenge the Associated Press with its own wire service. The AP suffered subscriber flight in 2008 as several large newspapers have canceled their subscriptions, claiming the price is too high.


The Chicago Sun-Times offered 44 copies of its Nov. 5 front page on eBay as a “museum wrap fine art giclée print on canvas.” Nov. 5 was a rare bright spot in an otherwise disastrous year. The historic election created a brief surge of demand and many publishers sold out that day’s issue.


The Sun-Times had another idea to attract readers: It brought back dead columnists. “Vintage” columns written by Chicago institution Mike Royko began appearing in August, some 11 years after Royko died. The first one was about a Windy City citizen who was also dead.

Brave New World

mayhill_fowler

Huffington Post employee Mayhill Fowler captured a three-minute rant by Bill Clinton about a Vanity Fair report that questioned the propriety of his post-presidential behavior. Fowler didn’t identify herself as a reporter but said she had the video camera in plain view while Clinton was talking. The LA Times account describes the recorder as “candy bar-sized” and Clinton claims to have not known he was being recorded.


CNN reported on a Yahoo employee who Twittered his layoff in February and gained an eager following. Ryan Kuder eventually took a job from the hundreds of leads contributed by his followers . His story was covered on prominent blogs and in mainstream media.


Talking Points Memo was awarded a George Polk Award for its coverage of the firing of eight United States attorneys. The New York Times account pointed to the difference between the new breed of online reporting and traditional print journalism. Chief among them is the involvement of readers in the process. Editor Joshua Micah Marshall has even been known to give “assignments” to his readers, asking them to comb through official documents.

Gutsy Moves

Monitor Editor John Yemma

The Christian Science Monitor said it is all but exiting the print business. Management chose the paper’s 100th anniversary year to make the shift, attracting worldwide attention. The Monitor‘s dramatic move legitimized frequency cuts as a survival tactic. Other papers have followed its lead.


Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing cancelled his newspaper subscription and wrote about it at length, invoking a deluge of scorn from newspaper vets. Outing stuck to his guns.


Tampa Tribune intern Jessica DaSilva documented a contentious meeting about the need for change at the newspaper and posted the editor-in-chief’s comments on her blog. The young woman endured a torrent of abuse from veteran journalists, including many personal insults, as more than 200 comments piled up on her blog. The incident dramatized the industry’s difficulty in dealing with change.

Land of the Rising Seniors

Newspaper sales in Japan are 2.5 times those of the US as a percentage of the population and journalist layoffs are all but unheard of. The reason: the population is declining. The percentage of children 14 and younger is the lowest it’s been in 100 years and the overall population of Japan is expected to decline by a third over the next 50 years. The lack of a new generation of Web-savvy upstarts means papers have less pressure to move online and figure out how to serve a new audience.

Just Plain Fun

The Onion offered a tutorial in how to write a provocative magazine cover line (right).


A tongue-in-cheek investigation by IowaHawk rounded up recent incidents of criminal activity by journalists and concluded that newsrooms are at risk of becoming a “killing field.” Of course, the reporters could have conducted the exercise for lawyers, accountants or plumbers and come to the same conclusion. The best line was from Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit: “I think it’s unfair to single out journalists as thieves, or violent, or drunks, or child abusers. Sometimes they’re all of the above.” The chart is amusing, too.


The Simpsons showed its snotty character Nelson insulting a journalist. “Hah hah! Your medium is dying!”

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By paulgillin | December 22, 2008 - 1:03 pm - Posted in Fake News, Google, Layoffs, Solutions

It looks like 2009 will be a make-or-break year for many media companies, thanks to an advertising climate the some forecasters are predicting will the worst in generations.

Media economist Jack Myers is predicting an “advertising depression,” says Dow Jones. “Myers, a longtime industry consultant who runs JackMyers.com, is now forecasting an unprecedented three straight years of declines in advertising and marketing spending in the U.S. starting this year,” the wire service says. “To put that in perspective, the industry hasn’t suffered even a two-year spending decline in advertising since the 1930s.” The result will be a “massive shakeout” in industries that depend on advertising for their livelihood. Myers expects advertising spending in the U.S. to call 2.4% this year, 6.7% next year and 2.3% in 2010. His forecast roughly agrees with estimates by Publicis Groupe. The downturn will make it more difficult for media companions to effect the transformations that are necessary to survive in the customer-driven marketing environment of the future.

Meanwhile, Barclays Capital expects domestic ad spending to drop 10% next year, which is dramatically worse than performance during both the 1991 and 2001 recessions. The forecast is a substantial revision of Barclays’ prediction just two months ago that next year’s decline would be a less-drastic 5.5%. The investment bank sees trouble in the local advertising industry, which is often seen as the best hope for newspaper salvation. Local spending, which makes up some 39% of the $252.1 billion U.S. ad market, will fall 12.2% in 2009, while national spending will drop 8.4%. Barclays forecast that local ad spending would decline an additional 1.4% even when the broader market recovers in 2010. The one positive note: Internet advertising should increase 6.1% in 2009 and 12% in 2010, but that segment will still account for just 10% of ad spending next year.

Given those forecasts, it’s not surprising that asset values have tanked. “Some 30 US newspapers are up for sale…but few buyers have emerged in spite of rock bottom prices,” notes the Financial Times. Valuations have fallen by at least half compared to their highs and signs that the advertising environment is worsening aren’t helping, the paper says. To illustrate the degree of loss in asset values, the Boston Globe was valued at $650 million by a consortium of buyers just two years ago. Today, the value of the Globe and the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette combined is just $120 million. In fact, The New York Times Co.’s most valuable New England asset may be its equity stake in the Boston Red Sox. It was worth about $135 million before the financial crisis hit. And that’s without Mark Teixeira.

Some Good News, Too

While admitting that 2009 will be a mostly crummy year for the economy, Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds sees reasons to believe better days are ahead. For one thing, oil is comparatively cheap right now and the price of paper is coming down. While you shouldn’t get comfortable with short-term trends in these commodities, at least they are two fewer factors weighing on the industry. The buyouts and layoffs of 2008 will show also benefits in 2009 as newspapers remove those costs from their books. And there are promising signs in newspapers’ online activities that may broadly benefit the industry. Edmonds is careful to hedge his bets, but he wants to exit the year on a positive note.

Cuts Take Toll on Quality

Print editors are accustomed to getting letters from readers taking them to task for erroneously saying the California Gold Rush started in 1845 instead of 1848 and  concluding, “Shoddy fact-checking like this makes me skeptical of anything you report in your journal.” Editors usually laugh off these missives, but with readers enjoying a bounty of choice these days and freely publishing their own critiques, the gaffes caused by overworked news staffs potentially become more damaging. Detroit NASCAR Examiner Josh Lobdell points out three major errors in a Detroit News story and questions how a newspaper in the Motor City can do such a shoddy job of covering motoring. The Sunday Business Post of Ireland restates almost verbatim what we suggested 2 1/2 years ago: that the cycle of cutbacks will lead to inferior products that people won’t want to read, which will harm circulation and lead to more layoffs. You don’t cost-cut your way to leadership.

valley_newsIf errors are your thing, read Craig Silverman’s year-end column in the Toronto Star about the worst publishing gaffes of 2008. Our favorite is the AP’s reference to Joseph Lieberman as a “Democratic vice-presidential prick.” There are plenty more on Silverman’s awesome blog, Regret the Error. Be sure to read his annual celebration of the worst errors and corrections in the media, an award he calls the Crunks. One of the best has to be this front page of northern New England’s Valley News, which actually managed to misspell its own name on its front page one day.

Report: Newspaper Sites Embrace Web Tools

The Bivings Group examined the websites of the 100 top U.S. newspapers to see what they’re doing with the Internet. While a few activities have changed little over the last year (RSS, reporter blogs and video), there have been striking increases in the use of some features:

  • Fifth-eight percent of newspaper websites post user-generated photos, 18% accept video and 15% publish user-generated articles.  That’s way up from the 24% that accepted such material in 2007.
  • Seventy five percent now accept article comments in some form, compared to 33% in 2007.
  • Facebook-like social networking tools are beginning to gain traction, with 10% of newspapers now using them, or double last year’s figure.
  • Three-quarters list some kind of most-popular ranking, such as most e-mailed or most commented. Just 33% had that feature in 2006.
  • You can now submit articles to social bookmarking sites like Digg and del.icio.us at 92% of newspaper sites, compared to only 7% in 2006.
  • Only 11% of websites now require registration to view full articles, compared to 29% last year.
  • Other stats: 57% have PDF editions, 20% have chat, and 40% offer SMS alerts.

Don’t strain your eyes: Click the image below for a larger version. More charts and data is in the summary report.

bivings_comparison

Miscellany

Journal-Register has reportedly closed a chain of Connecticut weeklies. The North Haven Courier reports, “On Dec. 18, members of [the Shore Line and Elm City Newspapers, a weekly newspaper chain in the shoreline and Greater New Haven area] were notified they had been laid off…The affected papers include the North Haven Post, the East Haven Advertiser, the Branford Review, the Shore Line Times of Guilford and Madison, the Clinton Recorder, and the Pictorial Gazette and Main Street News in Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Lyme, and Old Lyme…Joyce Mletschnig, who until Thursday was the Pictorial Gazette’s associate editor, said that their newspapers would be shut down.”


The Seattle Times is asking about 500 non-unionized employees to take a week’s unpaid vacation in order to avoid more layoffs. Employees can take the seven days off at any time over the next two months. Management at the Times, which has cut 22% of its staff this year, may believe that further layoffs will undermine quality to too great a degree, so it’s getting creative with strategy.


Russ Smith has some good quotes in a piece on Splice Today about what he believes is the inevitable demise of print newspapers. Smith, 53, is an unabashed newspaper fan but he’s noticed that even his contemporaries are dropping their print subscriptions or not noticing when the paper no longer arrives on the doorstep. He also notices that his kids and their friends are just as well-informed about current events as he, a counter to the conventional wisdom that young people don’t read. Smith boldly predicts that The New York Times will be sold by the end of 2009, with Rupert Murdoch on the short list of likely buyers. On the other hand, Murdoch may be content simply to let his nemesis fade away.


Raleigh News & Observer Staff Writer Mark Schultz writes with passion about why he got into newspapers and why they’re still relevant. His best line comes in an account about interviewing a woman in her trailer home in Mexico: “We enter people’s lives for an hour and ask for instant intimacy.”


The Knoxville News Sentinel has apparently managed to avoid the carnage that has devastated many of its brethren. In an upbeat column plainly titled “News Sentinel is NOT going out of business,” Editor Jack McElroy pays homage to owner E.W. Scripps Co. for shrewdly diversifying its revenue stream and not loading up on debt. He also says the News Sentinel wisely diversified into TV and specialty publishing to insulate itself from the newspaper advertising downturn. Critics naturally accuse the paper of selling out to political interests.


The New York Times will launch “Instant Op-Ed” next month in a bid to compete with instant cable television analysis. The Web feature will post immediate expert viewpoints on breaking news, according to Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal.

And Finally…

The Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre asked readers to contribute the best line heard in the workplace. They come through with some winners. Our favorite: “Yeah, he thinks he’s God’s gift to sliced bread.”

By paulgillin | August 12, 2008 - 7:59 am - Posted in Fake News, Google, Layoffs

Eric Schmidt, CEO, GoogleGoogle CEO Eric Schmidt, whose company has played a critical role in the destruction of the US newspaper industry, bemoaned the decline of investigative journalism, a discipline he called “fundamental to how our democracy works,” in remarks at the the recent Ad Age Madison & Vine conference in New York. The executive said a fundamental challenge to the industry is that readers are spending less time on content and thus less time being monetized. The idea that new advertising models will emerge to support quality journalism after the newspaper industry collapses is misguided. “The evidence does not support that view,” he said.Schmidt observed that newspapers are being challenged by the triple whammy of advertising competition, high newsprint prices and a decline of non-targeted advertising. “These guys are in a world of hurt and we as a community need to find economic models that will fund really great content,” he said. He noted ruefully that sketchy coverage of the war in Iraq is a particularly compelling example of the loss of investigative resources.

Redesigns Called “Reinventions”

South Florida SunSentinel before and after That’s the South Florida Sun-Sentinel before (left) and after its forthcoming redesign. Or should be say the SunSentinel? That’s right. As Charles Apple wryly notes, amid the cutbacks at Tribune Co., the new SunSentinel has laid off a hyphen.

Apple quotes SunSentinel design director Paul Wallen saying, “Although our median reader is in the mid to late 50s, our target audience is almost a generation younger. We’re after occasional readers, people who don’t feel they have the time or enough interest to read our paper on a regular basis…We want the paper to feel vibrant and alive, much like the community it serves.” The new design formally launches on Sunday. To get a larger (and different) example, click on the image at left.

Another Tribune Co. property, the Baltimore Sun, will debut a new design on Aug. 24. No prototypes are being floated yet, but Editor & Publisher quotes Sun publisher Tim Ryan saying the overhaul is a “reinvention.” There’ll be three sections: news, sports and features. The features section will be called “You” in a nod to the complete USATodayification of the American newspaper industry. Tribune Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrams called the Sun redesign “a tour de force package that’s going to help re-write the Tribune Co. — and newspapers.” We’ve already shared our opinion on the business value of redesigns.

Milwaukee Feels the Pain

The Milwaukee Business Journal writes of forthcoming layoffs at the Journal Sentinel as the paper struggles to meet its goal of a 10% staff cut. The piece illustrates the scope of the industry’s pain. Milwaukee should be a good newspaper town. It’s got a solid blue-collar middle class, people who don’t change their habits very quickly. The Journal Sentinel has a near-monopoly position, with 70 percent readership among Milwaukee adults on Sundays and about 50 percent on weekdays. Yet ad revenue is down 13 percent so far this year on top of an 8 percent decline in 2007 and 4 percent in 2006. Sunday circulation is down 16% from a decade ago.

The story has the obligatory Newspaper Association of America quote about combined print/online audiences being larger than ever, but the nut graph is a quote from a Morningstar analyst: “For every dollar daily newspapers have lost in print revenue, they’ve been able to replace it with only 15 cents in revenue from their Web sites.” The only way newspapers can survive the online shift is to get smaller, the analyst says. It’s just that no one knows how small they have to get.


A Journal Sentinel columnist is taking a buyout package and looking ahead. In this wistful, but ultimately uplifting farewell column he reminisces on the joys and frustrations of journalism and looks forward to taking a chance and spending some time with his family.

Miscellany

Former New York Times editor John Darnton recently retired from the paper. But instead of writing a tell-all memoir, he’s aired some dirty laundry in the form of a murder mystery called Black and White and Dead All Over (order it on Amazon). Reviewer Seth Faison knows many of the people who appear in Darnton’s fiction, including Publisher Arthur Sulzberger and Executive Editor Bill Keller. Faison praises the book for offering candid insight on the politics, chaos and juvenile behavior that characterizes a city newsroom. Darnton may lose friends as a result of this bitingly satirical work, but he’s made for darned good summer reading.


Tucson Citizen assistant city editor Mark B. Evans has some kind words for political bloggers who are, in some cases, outclassing the area’s newspapers in political coverage. We ignore these new voices at our peril, he says. Newspapers are falling further behind, so why not welcome these emerging opinion leaders into our fold and benefit from the readership and revenue they can bring?


The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader is trying to further reduce staff through buyouts. Kentucky’s largest newspaper already cut its workforce from 417 to 382 in June, but that wasn’t enough. Executives didn’t set a target figure for this round of cuts.


The Christian Science Monitor‘s Jan Worth-Nelson has quietly, subtly replaced her morning newspaper with a MacBook and an RSS feed, but she still remembers the days when reading the Sunday paper was a treasured ritual. Sadly, cutbacks at the LA Times have made the paper less relevant to her Sunday mornings and she misses the thrill that came with snapping open that first issue of the day to drink in the fresh news that it promised.


Howard Rheingold has an interesting essay on how to get more out of Twitter. Best advice: keep the list of people you’re following short and engage in meaningful interactions with them. He also doesn’t tweet what he had for breakfast. (via Mark Hamilton)


End of an era: In a nod to the realities of advertiser pressure and a weakening print market,  Rolling Stone will ditch is unique, awkward trim size and switch to a standard format effective with the Oct. 30 issue. The magazine’s size will be reduced from 10″ x 11 3/4″ to 8″ x 10 7/8″.

And Finally…

Bad warning sign

People always celebrate success, but they don’t give enough credit to really creative failure. Thank goodness, then, for The Fail Blog, a photographic tribute to failures big and small. Don’t look at this site in the office. Your colleagues will wonder why you’re laughing so hard. And don’t, under any circumstances, view it while you’re drinking milk, if you know what we mean.

By paulgillin | October 22, 2007 - 10:50 am - Posted in Fake News

Golin Harris CEO Fred Cook gave this quote from a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, whom he preferred not to identify, in a session at the PRSA International conference today: “Newspapers aren’t dying. Our readers are.”

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By paulgillin | July 18, 2007 - 8:16 pm - Posted in Fake News

Highlights from today’s e-mail newsletter:

Report: Young Adults Avoiding Newspapers — and Other News Outlets – E&P’s take on the Shorenstein study referenced earlier on this blog adds the interesting stat that only 9% of teenagers say they read a daily paper. Among people over 30, that figure is four times as high.

Scripps Makes It Official: ‘Cincy Post’ Folding With End Of JOA – No surprise apparently, as circulation had dropped a stunning 85% since the JOA was signed 30 years ago.

Pioneer Press Editor Won’t Rule Out More Cuts in ’07 – A Minnesota fixture for decades, the paper has cut nearly 20% of news staff in a little more than a year and may cut further. Quoting E&P: “If the predicted 15 newsroom employees leave through this buyout, that will mean the news staff had shrunk from 202 before the 2006 buyout down to 165 at the end of the latest one. When asked if a third buyout is more or less likely before the end of 2007, Fladung said, ‘I am not into predicting the future. I sure hope it is less likely.'”

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