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 23, 2009 - 9:05 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Google, Hyper-local, Solutions

Downturn Hits Ethnic Press

New York’s ethnic press, which has been mostly insulated from the downturn affecting the newspaper industry, is beginning to suffer. A Spanish-language daily and a Chinese weekly have already closed this year and now the Ming Pao Daily News, which is considered the most intellectual of New York’s four Chinese newspapers, is reportedly slated for closure by its Hong Kong parent. The New York Times notes that ethnic newspapers enjoy an intimacy with their readers and advertisers that big-city dailies traditionally don’t and that this has bought them some security in the past. But the lousy economy is threatening the already thin margins of these small-circulation properties, and many don’t have websites to fall back on. Ming Pao will continue to publish a free daily, which has been the sole bright spot in the market. New York had 10 Chinese daily newspapers just 20 years ago.

Extra! Extra! Blog All About It!

Blogging has come full circle in San Francisco, where a software entrepreneur-turned-publisher has launched a weekly newspaper composed entirely of blog entries. Joshua Karp has big plans for the chain he calls The Printed Blog. If his idea reaches its full potential, he’ll have hyper-local twice-daily editions in thousands of communities around the US. Chicago alone could support 50 localized Printed Blogs. Karp’s editorial model is very Web 2.0-like: bloggers give him their stuff in exchange for a slice of the profits. More than 300 have already signed on. Profits aren’t an issue right now, but Karp believes that local businesses will appreciate the tight control they’ll have over their ad messages as well as the low cost of $15 to $25 to reach 1,000 readers. The New York Times account quotes one advertiser exulting in his new ability to tailor his ads to specific neighborhoods. Printing is outsourced to local distribution points. Naturally, there’s a website.

Layoff Log

  • Voice of San Diego is reporting that another 50 employees will be laid off at the Union-Tribune. The paper has been a prominent victim of the area’s cratering economy, having already laid off 15% of its employees a year ago and staging another buyout since then. The U-T has also been for sale for the past six months. While several local investors have expressed interest, no one has written a check yet.
  • The Mason City (Ia.) Globe Gazette has laid off nine full-time employees and will leave six open positions vacant. No word on how large the total staff is.
  • Lee Enterprises-owned River Valley Newspaper Group, which includes two dailies and eight weeklies in Wisconsin, has cut 10 positions across the company.
  • The Traverse City (Mich.) Record-Eagle has cut the equivalent of eight positions from a staff of unspecified size.
  • The Peoria Journal Star is laying off an unspecified number of employees part of a plan to reposition the paper. Asked for a quote, publisher Ken Mauser delivers one of the most vapid comments of this new year: “Like many companies operating in today’s business environment, change will be inevitable and necessary to position our business for the future.” A blogger at Illinoize says 11 people lost their jobs.

Miscellany

The sour economy has spurred the San Jose Newspaper Guild and two newspapers to come to terms after 23 months of negotiations. The 25 Guild members get a year of job security and pay raises through 2012, but give up the right to block management from outsourcing some of their jobs.


The right-wing Tulsa Beacon takes the publisher of the Tulsa World to task for joining the most exclusive country club in the city while simultaneously laying off 28 people at the newspaper. Hypocrisy, the Beacon reports, is exclusively the domain of the liberal media.


Good obituary writers have their research done well before the subject is laid to rest. In that spirit, Newsosaur Alan Mutter begins the process of writing an obit for the Chicago Sun-Times, a newspaper that he clearly believes is destined for our R.I.P. column in the not-too-distant future. Mutter, who used to work at the Sun-Times, begins his tale in 1984 and tells the story of the first 10 years of ownership changes that “turned our thoughtful, respected and reasonably prosperous tabloid into a scandal sheet.” It’s a personal, poignant and sometimes funny account that will be told in installments.


Congratulations to Martin Langeveld, whose thoughtful News After Newspapers blog has been scooped up by the Nieman Foundation as part of its journalism lab.  He’s joined there by Tim Windsor and Matthew Ingram. In an introductory entry tellingly tagged “audience, doom, newspapers, and print,” Langeveld describes the reasons why the industry has entered into an inescapable vortex and how the thinking at daily papers must change if there is to be any hope of survival. He will continue to serve up the provocative ideas he started at NAN and the industry will be better for it.


The Register-Pajaronian of the Santa Cruz valley area will cut back its publication schedule to three days a week from six. The 141-year-old paper blamed its financial troubles on the collapse of major advertisers Mervyns and Circuit City. Unspecified layoffs accompanied the move.


If you’re still wondering “Who the hell is Carlos Slim?” Fortune has some background for you. A brilliant investor who specializes in buying distressed firms, Slim is now bailing out The New York Times Co. and may end up controlling the company as a result. For journalists, the nut graph is near the end: ‘Slim seems to neither covet the attention nor access that comes with being a media baron, nor to share the controlling Sulzbergers’ view that their ownership is a trust that puts the company’s journalistic mission ahead of commercial imperative.” If it’s a bio you want, get thee to Wikipedia.

And Finally…

The Boston Globe held out longer against front-page advertising than The New York Times – about two weeks longer. The Globe‘s first page-one ad ran on Wednesday, timed to coincide with the production of an additional 100,000 inauguration issues. The ad was for the movie “Defiance” (see below).

globe_ad1

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By paulgillin | January 21, 2009 - 9:10 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Google, Hyper-local, Solutions

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been one of the most vocal supporters of newspaper among the ranks of the digerati, so it must hurt him to pull the plug on Google Print Ads. When it launched the program two years ago, Google hoped Print Ads would not only be a revenue stream but also a sincere effort to bridge the print/online gap and inject new life into newspapers’ traditional business. Unfortunately, “It is clear that the current Print Ads product is not the right solution,” wrote Spencer Spinnell, Director of Google Print Ads, in a blog entry, “so we are freeing up those resources to try to come up with new and innovative online solutions that will have a meaningful impact for users, advertisers and publishers.”

Print Ads was a variation of Google’s ad brokering system that enabled advertisers to bid on space in member newspapers. Google eventually amassed over 800 newspaper partners. The program differed from a bigger initiative by Yahoo because Google targeted print advertising directly. Yahoo’s newspaper partnerships are strictly online. Spinnell’s announcement was tinged with regret. “We believe fair and accurate journalism and timely news are critical ingredients to a healthy democracy,” he wrote. “We remain dedicated to working with publishers to develop new ways for them to earn money.”

Will Slim Bid for Times Co.?

carlos_slimNow that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has loaned The New York Times Co. $250 million to meet its debt obligations, speculation is focusing on his motivations.  With a personal fortune estimated at more than $60 billion, Slim is one of the world’s richest men. Buying the Times Co. would add a new chapter in his storied career investing in telecommunications, retailing, construction, banking, insurance, railroads and mining. Unlike Sam Zell, Slim could finance the Times Co. with pocket change, meaning he could own one of the world’s greatest media brands without the overhead of having to meet onerous financial terms. Alan Mutter suggests that Slim could parlay his investment into an outright takeover, something no other investor has been able to attempt because of the Ochs Sulzberger family’s tight control of the company. He notes that the comparatively shallow-pocketed Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones for a much higher price. “If Murdoch could swing $5 billion for Dow Jones with only $8 billion in personal net worth, then imagine how much Slim could afford to pay for a trophy like NYT,” Mutter writes.

Journalism’s Distant Mirror

new_yorker_illustrationWriting in The New Yorker, Jill Lepore reminds us that newspapers have been declared dead before. Her historical account begins in 1765 and takes us through the crucial role that newspapers played in colonial America by fanning public outrage against British – and later American – rule. The Stamp Act, passed by Parliament that year, was widely thought to be the death of newspapers, since it affixed a tax to every page printers produced. But resourceful publishers persevered, even moving their presses by boat under the cloak of night to evade government enforcers.

Lepore notes that the concept of an impartial press is a relatively recent invention. “Because early newspapers tended to take aim at people in power, they were sometimes called ‘paper bullets,'” she writes. “Standards of journalistic objectivity date to the nineteenth century. Before then, the whole point was to have a point of view.” In fact, Benjamin Franklin, who could be considered the father of the American newspaper, didn’t see his role as being “to find out facts. It was to publish a sufficient range of opinion.” In that form, “Early American newspapers tend to look like one long and uninterrupted invective.”

This oppositional role didn’t just roil the British authorities. John Adams signed into law the Sedition Act in 1798, making it a crime to defame his administration. “Adams had come to consider printers a scourge,” Lepore writes. Adams’ successor, Thomas Jefferson, was an ardent supporter of a free press, but by the beginning of his second term, even Jefferson admitted to having thought about prosecuting some publishers.

While not framing the point explicitly, Lepore makes the case that partisan journalism of the kind practiced by bloggers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Truth may be the casualty of unbridled opinion, but that was also the case in the 18th century, when even Sam Adams occasionally made up stories to dramatize British cruelty. The fact that some newspapers published untruths didn’t make them any less vital to the establishment of a fledgling democracy. “Without partisan and even scurrilous printers pushing the limits of a free press in the seventeen-nineties, [author] Marcus Daniel argues, the legitimacy of a loyal opposition never would have been established and the new nation, with its vigorous and democratizing political culture, might never have found its feet.”

We feel compelled to note again that Newspaper Death Watch is cited in the article’s opening paragraph, although we differ with the author’s characterization of our tone as gleeful. We prefer to think of it as bemused.

Miscellany

The LA Times is girding for more layoffs. Russ Newton, the Times‘ senior vice president of production, sent a letter to the Teamsters union, which shared it with its members. “The Los Angeles Times has decided to take steps to further reduce its cost including, but not limited to, layoffs,” Newton writes. “[T]he Company intends to implement the cutbacks no later than March 15th, 2009.”


Romenesko reports that Gannett newspaper boss Bob Dickey’s decision to fly from Virginia to Arizona to announce plans to sell the Tucson Citizen wasn’t entirely altruistic. In fact, Arizona appears to have been just a waypoint on a trip further west. Dickey is in Palm Beach, Calif. this week for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament.


tribune_to_goEditor & Publisher‘s Mark Fitzgerald reviews the redesigned Chicago Tribune and pronounces it a “home run.” With its clean look, lack of jumps and liberal use of info graphics, the “to-go” edition of the Trib, which will only be sold on newsstands, “eloquently makes the argument that it’s time America’s big-city dailies seriously consider converting to a compact format,” Fitzgerald writes. The question is when the Tribune will simplify things and make the tabloid edition available to home subscribers, too.


Lee Enterprises reported a 69.3% decline in first-quarter profits as revenues dropped 13%. The company said it is further cutting costs and will ask shareholders to authorize a reverse stock split to comply with the minimum bid price requirement of the New York Stock Exchange listing standards, if necessary. In an unrelated move, the publisher of the Lee-owned Wisconsin State Journal and Madison Capital Times said it will cut 12 positions, mostly in editorial.


The World Association of Newspapers will postpone its annual congress because of the global economic crisis. The meeting was set to take place in Hyderabad, India in March, but only 250 delegates have signed up so far. That’s well below the 1,500 who usually attend.


Last summer we told you about Neighborsgo.com, a spinoff of the Dallas Morning News that uses a social network to anchor a community journalism initiative. Apparently it’s working. Editor & Publisher reports that Neighborsgo is being expanded to cover 47 neighborhoods, with each section featuring headlines, local restaurants, gas prices, education resources and crime news.


Media malaise continues to spread beyond the newspaper industry. Warner Bros. Entertainment is cutting its global workforce by 10% by laying off 600 people and leaving 200 vacant positions unfilled. Clear Channel Communications, which is another diversified media company, announced plans to idle 1,850 workers last week.


Hearst Corp. has officially notified employees of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that they will all lose their jobs if no one buys the newspaper. This may have seemed obvious following last week’s announcement that the paper will be shuttered if a buyer isn’t found, but Hearst had to send a letter as a formality. A few people might be offered jobs at SeattlePI.com if the publisher elects to keep the website alive.


And Finally…

Here’s one to satisfy your inner voyeur. Nicholas White was trapped in an elevator in New York City’s McGraw-Hill building for 41 hours. It was a lonely ordeal, but White unknowingly had a security camera to keep him company. His plight is documented in a time-lapse video that condenses 41 hours to just a few minutes set to mournful music.

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

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 | December 17, 2008 - 9:03 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local, Paywalls, Solutions

We really must get back to our day job at some point, but this is too damned interesting. We spent the early morning hours scouring our favorite blogs for reaction to yesterday’s blockbuster announcement in Detroit. There was plenty:

Take Our PollMark Potts likes the Detroit model in concept, saying it could be a test bed for other innovative Gannett micro-destinations like MomsLikeMe and Metromix. But he stresses that the Detroit consortium needs to move with speed and agility to launch new services and not spend too much time fretting about how save print. “As of this week, Detroit may be the nation’s most interesting laboratory for online news,” he writes.


Steve Outing is more pessimistic. While he applauds the reduction in home-delivery frequency, he thinks charging for the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday editions is a bad idea and that the “digital replica” of the print editions is badder. He’s also disappointed there wasn’t more vision outlined around a mobile strategy. And he thinks the whole plan will be tweaked pretty quickly as reality sets in. He’s probably right.


Poynter Media Business Analyst Rick Edmonds has an exceptionally cogent and impartial analysis of Detroit Media’s chances of success. He notes that daily newspapers typically derive as much as half their ad revenue from Sunday editions and then spread the costs across the rest of the week. The gamble in Detroit is that reader flight precipitated by these changes won’t cancel out the cost-saving benefits.

Newspaper executives have been talking about this idea for five years, but no one has done anything with it because of the much-feared-but-never-tested theory that you don’t mess with the daily news habit. Now Detroit has no choice, and if they can pull it off, they’ll set a course for the entire industry. Edmonds likes their chances. And he adds, perceptively, “An upside is that if readers and advertisers mostly accept the change, that could pave the way to a full flip to online-only several years hence.”


Speaking of the daily news habit, Mark Potts leaves no question about where he stands. “Oh, puh-leeze,” he writes in response to an unnamed Gannett executive’s paean to the virtues of dailiness. “That thinking…is proof that newspapers are still living a fantasy that their products are the centers of their customers’ news and information universe…

It’s simply not that reducing home delivery will drive readers to other sources of news: They’re already there! They’ve been making the switch for years, relying more on the Web…”


BTW, The Detroit Free Press live-blogged the press conference. And you can watch all 42 minutes of it here.


And finally, why aren’t there any female newspaper pundits? Suggestions are welcome.

Miscellany

Canada’s largest newspaper publisher is cutting 10% of its workforce. Sun Media will eliminate 600 positions and restructure its operations in western Canada, Ontario and Quebec. The reasons are all the usual ones everyone else cites. As Mark Hamilton has pointed out, Canada has about one-tenth the population of the US, which should give you an idea of how big this cutback really is.


Veteran newspaper publisher Martin Langeveld has several predictions for 2009. On the whole, he sees newspapers’ prospects improving after a dreadful start. Among his more notable forecasts:

  • No other newspaper companies will file for bankruptcy.
  • Some major dailies will switch their Sunday package fully to Saturday and drop Sunday publication entirely.
  • At least 25 daily newspapers will close outright
  • A reporter without an active blog will start to be seen as a dinosaur.

And this one that we didn’t get at all. Please to enlighten:

  • Some innovative new approaches to journalism will emanate from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

From the AP: “The American Society of Newspaper Editors scheduled an April vote in Chicago to become simply the American Society of News Editors. Under the proposed changes, which require membership approval, editors of news Web sites also would be permitted to join, as would leaders of journalism programs.” Jeff Jarvis chuckles.


The Portland Oregonian will stop delivering to homes, stores or news boxes in the Eugene-Springfield area, which is the second largest metro region in the state. So it’s not really the Oregonian so much any more, is it?


The daily weekly Bristol Press in Connecticut will fold in mid-January if a buyer can’t be found. Owner Journal-Register Co. is shopping it and 11 other central Connecticut weeklies. The company shuttered three Philadelphia-area weeklies last week.


Did you know that the Washington Post‘s newsstand price has more than doubled in the last year? It’s true.


What’s your favorite 21st-century newspaper innovation?” asks Slate’s Jack Shafer at the tail end of a rather dour essay on the industry’s lack of innovation. His candidates: “The incredibly clever and useful” New York Times Reader, the TimesOpen API program, the Big Picture at the Boston Globe and Adrian Holovay’s EveryBlock.com. Send him your nominations slate.pressbox@gmail.com.


And Finally

Mark Hamilton pointed us to this cool mashup of the most e-mailed stories from newspapers around the English-speaking world. MostEmailedNews.com is one of those forehead-slappingly simple ideas that you wish you had thought of. It’s the work of a Brooklynite who calls himself Tim Brennan. It consists of only two pages at this point, but who knows where Mr. Brennan will take it. Check it out and give him some link love.

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By paulgillin | December 4, 2008 - 5:18 pm - Posted in Fake News, Layoffs

Back in late October, Gannett Co. announced plans to cut 10% of its workforce.  This week, the hacking began in earnest. A sampling:

All this and more is being documented in gruesome detail on the Gannett Blog, Jim Hopkins’ remarkable watchdog website.  Gannett may not be revealing the extent of its job cuts, but Hopkins has assembled field reports from employees at 71 newspapers, as of today.  In addition, more than 100 comments have been posted. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital pays homage to the blog here, as does Editor & Publisher, which quotes extensively from it.

Unrelated to the Gannett moves:

And to all a good night…

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By paulgillin | November 14, 2008 - 11:37 am - Posted in Facebook, Google, Hyper-local, Solutions
Lee Abrams and friend

Lee Abrams and friend

Conde Nast Portfolio takes a look at Tribune Co.’s much ballyhooed redesigns and finds that nothing much has changed. New looks-and-feels in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale have barely budged circulation, which continues to fall. “We can’t find any impact from the redesign,” Norbert Ortiz, the Orlando Sentinel‘s vice president for circulation and consumer marketing, tells Portfolio.

This doesn’t bode well for recent makeovers in Los Angeles and Chicago. Experts debate whether the new designs are radical or just a new coat of paint, with the painters holding the edge: “a distraction,” says Ken Doctor; “seat of the pants” adds Alan Mutter. The story focuses on Tribune chief innovation officer Lee Abrams, who is inexplicably pictured with the cast of Blue Man Group. Abrams invented the album format that revolutionized FM radio back in the 80s, but his innovations in print have been less dramatic. “I wouldn’t call it redesign. I would call it redecoration,” says Alan Jacobson of Brass Tacks Design.

Abrams is quoted asserting that “we really had to work on reclaiming things that newspapers had traditionally owned,” from investigative reporting to election and crime coverage. Oddly, Tribune Co. has slashed editorial staff at most of its papers this year, drastically undercutting their ability to sustain provide such information.

We’ve previously shared our opinion of redesigns (“A Useless Exercise at the Wrong Time”) and see no further need to comment.

New/Old Journalism Clash in Washington Park

Mediashift tell of a new online publication at New York University that’s challenging the school’s 36-year-old campus fixture, Washington Square News (WSN). The venture was launched by three non-journalism majors who were frustrated with what they call WSN’s bland tone and faux objectivity. NYU Local, which is currently configured as a blog, takes a fundamentally different view of impartiality. Most people who want to be objective tend to disguise their opinions,” says co-editor Lily Quateman says. “Being objective treats readers like idiots and makes them guess.”

WSN Editor-in-Chief, Adam Playford begs to differ, saying his journal will continue to report just the facts and label opinions accordingly. He also says online isn’t a major focus at WSN, which updates its website just once a day. In contract, NYU Local encourages anyone to contribute and makes it possible to do so by any means possible, including cell phone. The staff hopes to move to a social networking platform in order to further encourage community journalism. “The idea of citizen journalism is a massive misnomer,” says 20-year-old co-editor Cody Brown. “Everyone is a citizen and anyone can be a reporter. The term is patronizing.”

The piece, which is written by an NYU junior, highlights the push-pull taking place between old- and new-media models, even within the context of a college-age audience. The fundamental debate is over the question of whether professional reporters are better equipped to tell a story versus thousands of unknown citizens. The fact that the battle is taking place in an institution that’s training the next generation of journalists indicates that this issue will be debated for some time to come.

Layoff Log

  • More layoffs are days away at the Baltimore Sun, according to the newspaper’s union. If true, the action would follow by just five months a 100-person downsizing this summer, a cutback that hit the newsroom particularly hard. No word on numbers, but the cuts are expected to be layoffs, not buyouts. The Sun employed 1,400 people before the 100-person cutback last June.
  • With five more newsroom layoffs at the New Haven Register, the size of the newsroom staff will have shrunk from 110 to 65 in a decade. The five editors are part of a larger cutback of 20 people announced yesterday. The daily will also shutter Play, an entertainment-oriented weekly. More layoffs are possible in mid-January, when parent Journal Register may fall into default if it can’t make its debt payments. Earlier this week, Journal Register said it would probably close two small Connecticut dailies – the New Britain Herald and the Bristol Press – along with 11 weeklies in the state.
  • As expected, the ax has fallen in Tribune Co.’s Washington bureaus. LA Observed reports that Chicago Tribune staffers John Crewdson, Bay Fang, Stephen Hedges, and Aamer Madhani were let go. Earlier eight Los Angeles Times staffers were laid off and acting Tribune acting bureau chief Naftali Bendavid left to join The Wall Street Journal.
  • Newhouse is cutting deeply in Michigan. Staff at eight newspapers have been told that massive buyouts are planned and some operations will be consolidated in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. There’s no word on numbers, but the Ann Arbor Chronicle account says nearly everyone in the newsroom has been offered a buyout. Production staff has been told that if they don’t take the buyout, they’ll have to work from the Grand Rapids office, which is 130 miles away. Papers in the group include the Grand Rapids Press, Ann Arbor News, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Flint Journal, Bay City Times, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News and the Michigan Business Review. The Ann Arbor paper early announced plans to close its Ypsilanti bureau and to slash pages and sections in an effort to control costs.

Miscellany

Outsell’s Ken Doctor has some encouraging news for newspapers. “It’s a shrinking business that only looks like it is dying,” he tells Media Life. “The U.S. newspaper business will still take in some $40 billion in revenues in 2008.” Doctor believes some papers will close and many may scale back frequency in coming years in order to align expenses with smaller revenues. However, he expects the business to come back, even the devastated classified advertising business. “Forty percent of the newspaper industry is partnering with Yahoo, and we should see a good Yahoo bump in online display ads,” Doctor says. A lot of retraining will be needed, though.


Preliminary research by Middleberg & Associates and the Society of New Communications Research shows that 100% of reporters under 30 agree that new media and communication tools are valuable journalism tools. But only 40% of journalists over 50 year agree with that statement. There is no more change-averse animal than an old newsman. You can still take the survey here.


The Daily Triplicate of Crescent City, Calif. celebrates awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association by trashing the slipshod tactics most awards programs use to select winners. Its tone might sound a bit snarky, but our experience is that the point is valid.


In case you didn’t see this comment from last week, journalism professor Robert Hodierne at the University of Richmond has been commissioned by American Journalism Review “to survey folks who left the newspaper business under circumstances other than voluntary — laid off, bought out, etc. I’m spreading the word about this survey in every way I can and if you guys could help me spread the word I’d be grateful. Take the survey here.


Newspaper Death Watch editor Paul Gillin is interviewed on The Radio Ecoshock Show about what’s ailing newspapers and what will fill the gap. You can skip the description and listen to the short interview here.

By paulgillin | October 3, 2008 - 9:42 am - Posted in Google, Hyper-local

We constantly hear about the angst that aspiring young journalists face as they wrestle with the decision of whether they made a huge mistake in choosing journalism as a career. Let us share a story that hopefully provides some encouragement. We can’t name all the names because we don’t have permission.

A friend of ours has a son attending a Boston area university.  In his sophomore year, this young man found himself interning at the Boston Globe, where he worked the overnight shift on the rewrite desk.  This past summer, the Globe offered him the opportunity to write a daily blog about activities in the New England area.  Last month, the young man headed back to school and a paid internship at a major newspaper, where he is spearheading an initiative to build a new online community.  This young man is 21 years old.

There’s a lesson in this anecdote.  The decline of traditional media creates huge opportunities for those who have the stomach to take a chance. Back in the 1970s, the conventional wisdom was that the path to a journalism career involved slaving away at a small daily paper, working for food and rent and hoping to catch the eye of a big-city editor.  Today, so few young people want to go into journalism that the opportunity for those who do is virtually limitless.

Savvy investors know that the people who make the biggest killing in any market are those who are willing to buy when everyone else is selling.  The field of journalism right now is a buyers market for the few who buck the conventional wisdom.  Newspapers may not survive much longer in their print form, but most people agree that the core skills of journalism will be needed in one way or another long into the future.  Risk-takers like our young journalist are capitalizing on this trend to gain experience and visibility that a decade or two ago would have taken many years of hard and anonymous work.

That’s why it’s a great time to get into a journalism career.  The current malaise about media will eventually give way to optimism about new models.  The people who have gained the core skills that are necessary to succeed in a reinvigorated industry will rocket ahead in their careers.  Sure, there’s plenty of uncertainty about what media institutions will look like in the future, but if you’re willing to take a chance, you stand to reap huge rewards.  Newspapers are hungry for new ideas, and the best ideas are coming from the generation of young people who aren’t burdened by a romantic attachment to the past.  There’s never a better time to take risks than when you’re in your 20s.  My friend’s young son knows that, and we predict he will be one of the big winners when the trend inevitably reverses itself.

Redesigning Newsrooms

The Tampa Tribune will introduce a new design on Monday, and it’s keeping the details secret. The St. Petersburg Times has some inside dope, though. An interesting sidelight is that the merged Tribune/WFLA/TampaBayOnline.com newsroom is also being redesigned around these subject areas: data, deadline, watchdog journalism, personal journalism and grassroots. We wouldn’t have thought of those ourselves. Give credit to Executive Editor Janet Coats, who’s communicating some urgency: “For most of us, it’s only been in the last year to 18 months that we’ve started getting away from the idea that the Web site is the newspaper on a computer screen . . . I’m worried that if we don’t change how we think about this further it won’t matter what falls through the cracks because we’ll have no readers.”

Speaking of redesigning the process, editors at the UK’s Birmingham Post, Sunday Mercury and Birmingham Mail are also turning the newsroom on its head. Editors Weblog reports that the three papers now share a physical space and some resources. The process of publishing news story has been condensed from five steps to three, with online leading the way. News editing and production have been merged into a single stage. Reporters carry laptops and video cameras and can file from anywhere. There’s been tension, of course; 65 jobs were eliminated in the redesign and staffers were made to re-apply for available positions. However, these three paper are envisioning a future and doing something about it, which is what we call leadership.

Editor Quits, Speaks

Yesterday, we noted the resignation of Steven A. Smith as editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review in protest of job cuts that he said were cheapening the product. Knight Digital Media Center caught up with Smith for an interview and provides interesting background. If you think this guy is some old-line curmudgeon who won’t face up to new realities, think again. Smith has actually be an outspoken proponent of the need to change calcified newsroom thinking and to reinvent newspapers around digital platforms. He conceived of an innovative idea to invite readers to observe and participate in daily news meetings. There’s more detail in the Knight story. We think Steven Smith won’t have trouble finding a job. Vision like that is still rare in this business.

Miscellany

Calamity and politics are good for online traffic. The Washington Post’s Web site, washingtonpost.com, scored a 42% jump in year-over-year traffic. The trend was driven, not surprisingly, by political and business stories.

Google says it’s figured out a way to tell when bloggers are writing news. A new feature of Google Blog Search shows categories of blog entries in a left sidebar. In some cases, the popularity of topics is displayed in chart form on the right. Here’s an example.

And Finally…

When you can’t beat ’em, steal ’em. Fading to Black has a short item about a newspaper war in the San Francisco Peninsula area that heated up this week when the San Francisco Examiner caught a delivery man for the Palo Alto Daily Post apparently stealing copies of the Examiner as he delivered his own newspaper. When confronted and asked to open his trunk, the man had more than 1,000 copies of the rival newspaper stashed away. Maybe he just had a lot of birdcages to line.

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By paulgillin | October 2, 2008 - 10:19 am - Posted in Facebook

We debated whether to add the New York Sun to the RIP list in the right-hand column and decided against it. While the Sun’s demise this week sparked lots of press coverage, its Wall Street roots and high-profile investors reminded us more of a failed dot-cot venture than a venerable daily journal.

Which isn’t to understate the sadness of the situation. The Sun was, in many ways, a throwback to better days. As The New York Times account relates, writers worked long hours in sweltering heat and frigid cold to chase scoops, motivated more by the story than the paper’s financial success. It’s not surprising that theSun’s demise brought so many eloquent quotes out of the woodwork, for Sun alumni can now be found on the staffs of some of the most respected media titles in America.

John Koblin tells how the Sun was one of a vanishing breed of newspapers – a writer’s journal. He quotes Seth Mnookin, who later went on to Newsweek and Vanity Fair (and who wrote a helluva good book about the Boston Red Sox), and Ben Smith of Politico.com as just two examples of writers whose careers were launched there. Sun publisher Seth Lipsky had bigger ideals that just making a profit, former staffers say. He thought he was running the best newspaper in the world.

In the end, the timing was terrible. Lipsky warned nearly a month ago that the paper needed financing to continue beyond early October. True to his word, he announced the shutdown to the staff on Sept. 29, the day the Dow plunged 777 points. Any chance of rescue evaporated with the stock market freefall. Still, Lipsky said he had offers of millions in financing if he could have found the right partners, which he couldn’t.

It took a lot of guts to start a newspaper in 2002. Lipsky and his staff of 110 (who are all now unemployed) deserve credit for bringing hope to an industry that has been relentlessly beaten and humiliated almost since the day the paper launched.

Turmoil in Tampa

About the only good news out of south-central Florida this year has been that it didn’t get hit by a major hurricane. For newspapers, it’s been a year to forget. The Tampa Tribune laid off four more staffers yesterday, including a prominent columnist. The paper also hinted at mysterious changes that are planned next week that will “significantly reduce the size of the weekday newspaper.” The St. Petersburg Times cites rumors that the Tribune will cut back to two sections on weekdays, a report that got a back-handed confirmation from Executive Editor Janet Coats. Says Coats: “”People tend to be skimmers during the week, reading more in depth in the weekend.”

The news comes on the heels of an announcement by alternative weekly Creative Loafing that it has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Tampa-based publisher, which was founded in 1972, runs a string of papers stretching from Tampa to Chicago. Last year, it announced a high-profile deal to purchase Washington, D.C.’s City Paper and Chicago’s Reader. The strain of integrating the acqusitions in a down market may have been too much for Creative Loafing, which is suing to get creditors off its back. Chapter 11 doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the line, of course, but the publisher will probably have to sell assets to pay off some portion of its debt.

Layoff Log

  • With the Newark Star-Ledger on the road to achieving its cost-reduction goals, attention is now shifting to the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a likely candidate to become the first major metro daily to fold. The 141-year-old newspaper missed a $9 million debt payment this week. That’s not good, particularly when markets are in free-fall and creditors don’t have a lot of alternative sources of cash. Unfortunately, this is becoming SOP at the Strib, which stopped payments to another group of investors earlier this year. The publisher admitted that bankruptcy is a possibility.
  • Deep cuts at the Spokane Spokesman-Review prompted the resignation of the paper’s editor. Total layoffs amount to 60 employees, with 25 positions eliminated in the newsroom. That leaves 470 employees. Editor Steven A. Smith apparently took the news hard, telling his staff this “was not a layoff that I personally could support or sustain.” The newspaper blogs about its own layoffs.
  • The Harrisburg Patriot-News is offering a generous buyout plan with the goal of cutting 25% of its total staff. Workers with more than five years of service can get one year’s salary and health care coverage. Sign us up! This sounds like a great place to work. In announcing the buyout, the publisher stated that layoffs won’t be used to reach the target and that the Patriot-News pledges job security for full-time employees.
  • Eau Claire Press Co., which publishes the Wisconsin Leader-Telegramhas laid off 12 people, or about 4 percent of its workforce.

An Opportunity for Corporations – Fumbled

With businesses empowered by blogging, you’d think that the Wall Street meltdown would be a perfect opportunity for corporations to take a leadership role by communicating a message of optimism to scared consumers. You would be wrong. An informal analysis of 15 blogs from prominent corporations shows that only three have even mentioned the financial crisis in the last two weeks. Just two have provided any guidance on what’s happening and why, and only one of those blogs is from a US company. It looks like big businesses still have a way to go in ditching the happy-talk message in favor of an open conversation.

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By paulgillin | September 24, 2008 - 7:48 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local, Solutions

Technorati has come out with its annual State of the Blogosphere report and some numbers are truly eye-popping. The site found blogs in 81 languages and daily posts are closing in on one million. Nearly 185 million people have started a blog (although most don’t tend them regularly). Newspapers have the bug: 95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs. Four in five bloggers post brand or product reviews and 90% of bloggers say they post about the brands they love or hate. Most bloggers who accept advertising make a profit. Technorati did a big survey and got comments from various media influencers. We haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but if you’re interested in publishing, you should check it out.

Meanwhile, The Politico, which is one of the more promising Web-only journalism ventures, is expanding. It will add employees, grow circulation of its Washington-area newspaper and and print more often. The staff will be expanded to at least 105 from its current 85. Circulation of its Capitol Hill newspaper will be increased 20% to 32,000 and a Monday issue will be added. All this will happen after the election, which is The Politico’s busiest season, but officials said there’s going to be plenty of news to keep people busy. Also, they expect to reach profitability next year, far ahead of schedule.

And perhaps there’s gold in them thar websites. BIA Financial Network and Borrell Associates have a new study that estimates that newspaper websites are the most lucrative local media around, with valuations of the largest properties reaching $450 million. That makes local alternatives like TV and radio small potatoes in comparison. “Given their growth potential, the value multiples of media Web sites may be 2 to 4 times that of the core business,” the BIA president is quoted as saying. The study also praises the strong cash flow at media websites. The problem is that growth is slowing. BTW, the $450 million number is only for the largest properties, so don’t get too excited. We estimate the market value of Newspaper Death Watch is about $1.23.

Miscellany

In the department of publishers that still don’t get it, we’d like to include The American Scholar, which publishes a provocative list of “12 Questions about the future of journalism” by Bill Kovach without offering visitors a way to respond. Um, guys, that’s part of the problem.


In chaos, there is opportunity, or at least that’s what Michelle Rafter says. She points to new launches at Slate, The Wall Street Journal, Silicon Valley Insider and Forbes as evidence that there’s opportunity in business journalism right now. Just make sure you get cash up front.


Death is good business, it seems. Tributes.com, which runs obituaries and related memorial messages, is teaming up with The Wall Street Journal to create a print counterpart to the website. For $80, you can buy a listing on Tributes.com where you can post photos and memories of a departed loved one. Now, for an additional $250, you can run your message in a dying medium, too. Tributes is a startup that was spun out of Eons, a social network for the over-50 crowd. Both are the brainchildren of Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor.


In the 80s, New York City brought us the Village People. Now it brings us TimesPeople. That’s The New York Times‘ new social network. “TimesPeople provides NYTimes.com readers with a way to share their thoughts and recommendations about The Times‘s content with other readers, making their public activities on the site more open,” says a company press release. Apparently you can only share your thoughts about Times content, not anybody else’s, which we suppose makes sense. You can also see the most recommended articles. The Times is a latecomer to the social networking world, trailing The Wall Street Journal by a whole eight days.


Scott Karp analyzes Matt Drudge’s influence and concludes “It’s the Links, Stupid.” The action in online publishing is in filtering and linking, not corralling your audience, he says. Drudge is successful because he tells cable TV and radio reporters what’s important and that shapes their daily broadcasts. Newspapers, in contrast, tend to tell people only what’s important in their pages on any one day, and that’s far less interesting to readers than a guide to that vast Worldwide Web. “In the web media era, when all news content is accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world, and no news brands no longer have a monopoly over news distribution, the power of influence lies in the ability to FILTER the vast sea of news,” he writes.

Layoff Log

  • The Anchorage Daily News is reducing its staff by about 10%, laying off 13 employees and holding another dozen positions vacant.
  • The Raleigh News & Observer has started making cuts after only 16 newsroom employees accepted a buyout offer. Its editorial cartoonist, a 33-year veteran, and ombudsmen will be cut back to part-time but their jobs won’t be eliminated.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is going to buy out or lay off workers unless it gets concessions from its unions. Between 10 and 20 Teamsters will lose their jobs, according to a union spokesman, but that’s just the beginning. The paper’s Ohio parent has been losing money for years and is threatening to sell its Pittsburgh property.
  • As if the Seattle Times Co. didn’t need more headaches, now the truck drivers are threatening to strike. About 70 truckers could walk off the job on Oct. 21 in protest over the company’s bid to outsource its trucking to Penske Logistics.
  • Threats by the publisher of the Newark Star-Ledger to close the paper if cost-cutting goals can’t be met have apparently put a bee in the Jockey shorts of the local union. The union representing 400 mailers at the paper agreed by a 10-1 margin to a three-year wage freeze and buyouts of a quarter of its members. The Star-Ledger is still looking to buy out another 200 of its 750 full-time nonunion employees.
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