By paulgillin | May 24, 2018 - 10:20 am - Posted in Uncategorized

The United States Holocaust Museum is conducting an interesting exercise in crowdsourced research using newspaper archives from the 1930s and 40s. Called “History Unfolded,”, the project asks students, teachers and anyone else who’s interested to look in local newspapers for accounts of 34 different Holocaust-era events that took place in the U. S. and Europe, and to submit those articles to the national database.
As of May 24, nearly 3,000 people had scanned and uploaded more than 17,600 articles. The contributions not only form an archive of the “first draft of history,” but also deliver a historical snapshot of how the Nazi threat was perceived in its earliest days. It’s fascinating reading and a treasure trove for history buffs.

By paulgillin | May 11, 2010 - 4:34 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News

Hawaiians are preparing to be one newspaper poorer.

Gannett officially exited the Hawaiian market where it has played for nearly 40 years. The company signed over ownership of the Honolulu Advertiser to the owner of rival Honolulu Star-Bulletin, bringing an end to a brutally competitive battle. Analysts say Gannett was winning the war but chose to cash out rather than to fight a smaller competitor that simply wouldn’t go away.

The Star-Bulletin plans to merge the two papers into the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sometime in the next 60 days, cutting about 300 of jobs in the process. The combined papers will have a circulation of between 135,000 and 140,000.

This is a little confusing. You see, Gannett used to own the Star-Bulletin. Then it bought the Advertiser and tried to close down the Star-Bulletin. Antitrust regulators didn’t like that idea, so Gannett had to sell the Star-Bulletin to David Black, who is now the publishing brains behind Platinum Equity, the private firm that bought the San Diego Union Tribune last year. Black bought the Star-Bulletin in 2000 and settled in for a long battle, despite having less than half the circulation of the Advertiser.

It turned out to be a war of attrition. A series of bruising battles with labor unions in which union members at one point actually tried to discourage local businesses from doing business with the Advertiser left Gannett bruised and weakened. While the Advertiser maintained its circulation edge, it continued to lose money. Black told the Advertiser that the Star-Bulletin has lost more than $100 million since 2001. Since Black appeared to be in the race for the long haul, Gannett accepted an offer that the Star-Bulletin publisher characterized as “compelling.”

The bottom line is that Honolulu now becomes a one-paper town and the Advertiser becomes the newest addition to our R.I.P. list.

The Respite Arrives

It was about a year ago that Outsell analyst Ken Doctor (right) told us that the newspaper industry was in for an 18-month respite from its troubles beginning in late 2009. It turns out he was right on the money. Alan Mutter totes up recent financial results from six big publishers and reports that the four-year-long freefall in revenues appears to be slowing. Ad sales for the big six fell 10.2% in the first quarter of 2010 compared to drops of 28.3% last year and 12.8% in 2008. As the smoke clears, the extent of the wreckage becomes apparent, however. Overall newspaper revenues in the US are down more than 46% since 2006 and stand at the lowest level since 1986, Mutter says. But in inflation-adjusted figures, the industry is down an incredible 72% over the last 25 years.

Mutter quotes Gannett President Gracia C. Martore stating confidently that “We are very pleased with the momentum that we had coming out of last year.” It’s hard to believe any industry executive could use the word “pleased” in the context of this crisis. Doctor told us last year that news executives should use this short-term breather to make much-needed changes to their business model, diversify their revenue stream and investing in online properties. Little has happened since then outside of publishers rallying around the brain-dead notion of charging for existing content.

But perhaps they simply have no choice. In weighing in with his own characteristically astute analysis on Nieman Journalism Lab, Doctor notes that while some publishers that were hemorrhaging cash a year ago are now marginally profitable, market conditions provide precious few options for spending that pocket money. Doctor calls 2010 “a year crying out for investment in innovative mobile media product creation and marketing services/advertising infrastructure build-out,” but notes that once-mighty publishing companies must satisfy themselves with sitting on the sidelines and nursing their fragile profits while Google completes an acquisition every month.

The one glimmer of good news is that newspaper publishers are finally making a dent in the massive debt that has hobbled them for the last five years. But that still leaves them little room to do anything new. A year ago, Doctor also predicted that after the 18-month respite ends, the industry will enter another period of severe contraction. We think he’s gonna be right about that prediction, too.


There’s good news in Orange County, Calif., however, were Freedom Communications, which owns the Orange County Register along with 31 other dailies and eight TV stations, has emerged from Chapter 11 with $450 million less debt and new ownership by a private equity firm. Freedom entered a controlled bankruptcy last September while its new owners completed a restructuring plan. The founding Hoiles family had originally been granted a tiny 2% stake in the revitalized company, but they lost that in January, leaving Freedom entirely in the hands of the private equity owners. The company is looking for a full-time CEO, if you’re interested.

There isn’t much room in the market for newsweeklies any more, and the conventional wisdom has been that Time magazine will be the last man standing. Looks like conventional wisdom is right. The Washington Post Co. is reportedly looking to unload Newsweek after three straight years of losses and the likelihood of a fourth. “In the current climate, it might be a better fit elsewhere,” said Post CEO Donald Graham in a statement.

It appears that the Post Co. is not a good fit for the magazine business. Its magazine revenue plunged 27% in 2009 and its operating loss increased to nearly $30 million. The Post redesigned Newsweek and trimmed its circulation by over a million last year in a last-ditch attempt to focus on a narrower and more profitable niche. However, the magazine market is in dismal shape in general, and weeklies have almost no value proposition in an online-driven news world.

Analysts couldn’t even speculate on who might buy Newsweek, other than U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman, who shows signs of being off his rocker. That may be just the kind of buyer Newsweek needs.

The Wall Street Journal’s campaign to slug it out with The New York Times for national daily supremacy appears to be taking its toll on at least some Journal staffers, who are grumbling about the paper’s failure to secure even a single nomination for a Pulitzer Prize this year. There are all kinds of theories about the snub, ranging from perceived institutional hatred for Rupert Murdoch at Columbia University to the Journal’s focus on breaking news at the expense of long-form journalism to the inherently biased and political process of awarding prizes for non-measurable things like journalism in the first place (our favorite).

One thing’s for sure: The Times is reveling in its three 2009 Pulitzers, as evidenced by this snub from a spokesman: “The readers and employees of the Wall Street Journal deserve much better than this type of juvenile behavior from its editor in chief.” The reference is to recently taunting of the Times by Journal editor Robert Thomson, who has criticized his cross-town rival for being insular and slow.

The publisher of Dan’s Papers, which is the largest-circulation local newspaper on eastern Long Island, filed for bankruptcy, citing the weak real estate advertising market. This is despite the fact that Dan’s Papers claims an average reader household income of $381,000. The real estate market must be really bad, or high-income people must not be reading newspapers or both. Owner Brown Publishing Co., owns 15 dailies, 32 weeklies, 11 business publications, 41 free publications and 51 newspapers or niche websites.

If you’re an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad user who really likes the idea of getting a newspaper look-and-feel in a digital package, you might want to check out PressReader from NewspaperDirect. “If you’ve ever wanted to experience unadulterated newspaper goodness on the iPad, this is it,” the company said in an e-mail. “Cover-to-cover newspaper browsing with one finger. Or two, if you like to zoom in.” Which we do. The company says it delivers more than 1,500 daily newspapers from 90 countries digitally in formats that can be viewed or printed. The iPhone reader is free, so what do you have to lose?

By paulgillin | March 9, 2010 - 1:32 pm - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Paywalls

TechCrunch has an interview with Marc Andreessen in which the Internet boy wonder advises media companies to “burn the boats,” an analogy to the instructions Cortés supposedly gave his army upon landing in Mexico nearly 500 years ago in order to insure that the soldiers pressed on.

Print newspapers and magazines will never get [to new online business models], he argues, until they burn the boats and shut down their print operations. Yes, there are still a lot of people and money in those boats—billions of dollars in revenue in some cases. “At risk is 80% of revenues and headcount,” Andreessen acknowledges, “but shift happens.”

Andreessen has a point that it makes senses to abandon failing models in the long term, but setting fire to profitable print operations is the wrong strategy at the moment. After years of fretting over declining circulation and trying desperately to rejuvenate a dying business, newspaper publishers are finally adopting an intelligent strategy. They’re milking all they can from their profitable business while trying to manage it down to a level that new models can take over. It won’t be easy.

The strategy that most publishers have recently adopted has three parts:

  • Raise subscription rates in order to milk as much revenue as possible out of an aging but loyal reader base;
  • Manage costs downward in a manner that preserves profitability without alienating traditional readers;
  • Invest in growth markets that can preserve the brand and generate new profits.

The New York Times reported last year that its second-quarter subscription revenues nearly matched its advertising revenue. Aggressive price increases, combined with a substantial reduction in discounted circulation, are turning paying subscribers into a profit engine. Other publishers are adopting this approach, which is why the seemingly catastrophic declines in circulation of the last couple of years aren’t as devastating as they seem. Many businesses have legacy customers that generate a small but profitable business. Successful long-term franchises, however, also have the skills to move on.

A Successful Online Model

New media news entities have demonstrated that they can earn a profit with about 20% of the revenues of print organizations. That’s because their operating expenses are about 90% lower. These organizations are profitable, but a lot smaller than print publishers.

In their most recent round of earnings reports, most publishers stated that they are now deriving between 12% and 16% of their revenue from online advertising. Most of them have also not done nearly as much as they can to monetize other sources such as events, transaction fees and value-added and classified advertising. Once publishers reach the threshold of 20% online revenue, they can conceivably shutter their print operations while sustaining the business and the brand. They’re trying to get to that threshold gracefully, though. Lots of money can still be made in print if publishers can manage that asset down steadily while reducing costs in lockstep.

That’s a tricky process. If publishers cut costs too deeply, they risk losing loyal print subscribers and circulation revenue could enter a free-fall. They also don’t have the luxury of much time to complete the transition.

Even harder is the third bullet point. The people who run newspapers are skilled at operations and asset management, not visionary investments in emerging markets. In the TechCrunch interview, Andreessen correctly points out that technology companies are adept at dealing with constant disruption to their markets, a situation that faces Microsoft right now. Successful technology companies manage this challenge through a kind of creative destruction process. Successful executives are experts at learning to identify new opportunities and quickly discarding old product lines without looking back.

However, technology companies don’t have the luxury of a loyal legacy base that newspaper publishers have. The audience of committed daily readers may still buy the newspaper industry another 10 years of life in print, although that business will eventually become unsustainable. It isn’t crazy for publishers to want to milk the cash cow for a few more years. The hard part is finding new opportunities and having the stomach to invest in them in the face of inevitable shareholder demands for greater profits.

Burning the boats isn’t a wise strategy at the moment. But it’s a good idea to start collecting firewood.

Newspaper executives and their largest advertisers will gather next month in Orlando to discuss the transition to a digital media world. Advertisers in attendance include Staples Inc., Walgreens, Best Buy,  Home Depot, RadioShack, Target and many other print media veterans.

It’s good to see the industry tackling its challenges head on, but we have to wonder if this is the right crowd to do it. Nearly every person in the room will have a career and a business built on a crumbling advertising model. It seems unlikely that much innovation will flourish in that atmosphere. And if you believe what people like Mark Potts and Steve Outing are saying, then the future of these companies is about diversifying revenue and cultivating local advertisers, not finding new ways to squeeze more blood from the display advertising stone.. Meanwhile, the agenda is packed with speakers from the newspaper industry. We trust Huffington Post wasn’t invited.

Meanwhile, Outsell has a new report predicting that US companies will spend more on digital marketing than print for the first time ever this year. Of the $368 billion that Outsell expects US advertisers to spend this year, roughly $120 billion will be spent online and $111 in print. Of the total online spending, 53% will be on company websites. Outsell expects print newspaper ad spending to drop 8.2% to $27 billion. The report costs $1,295. More here.

And Finally…

The folks who brought you the wonderful Fail Blog have aggregated some of their best media miscues into Probably Bad News, a site whose tagline is “News Fails, because journalism isn’t dying fast enough.”You can upload your own favorite typos, double entendres and acts of sheer stupidity for others to vote upon. Many of the examples are computers gone haywire, which lack the sheer hilarity of printed mistakes, in our view. But there’s some good stuff there, anyway.

Dan Bloom has been pushing the idea of renaming newspapers “snailpapers.” He’s put the cause to music. It’s six-and-a-half-minutes of countrified banjo-picking. Watch it if you can.

By paulgillin | January 28, 2010 - 11:29 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Solutions

Publishers who cheered The New York Times decision last week to build up a wall in front of its content should be considerably less cheery about the news emanating from Newsday. The Long Island daily has admitted that it has signed up just 35 paying subscribers since it put most of its content behind a pay wall in October. At $260 per subscriber per year, that amounts to just $9,000 in annualized revenue for a relaunch that reportedly cost $4 million.

There’s more to the story, of course. The total audience of potential online subscribers to Newsday is pretty small, given that the service is free to subscribers to Optimum Cable, which is owned by Cablevision. Cablevision bought Newsday for $650 million in May, 2008 after a bidding war. Newsday said Optimum Cable cover 75% of Long Island, meaning that just about everyone who would want to read Newsday online can already read it. The company also said  its goal was never to amass a huge audience but rather to increase engagement and improve advertiser value by focusing on local residents.

Still, you have to wonder about the wisdom of the paywall strategy, given the sacrifices  made to implement it. Editors Weblog says traffic to the site is down by a third since October. However, says the drop off is only on the order of 10%. Either way, Newsday has traded off a lot of eyeballs for a small number of credit card numbers and unless its advertising rates have increased proportionately, the paywall is probably a net loser at this point.

Newsday is sticking by its guns and saying that the slow ramp up is neither surprising nor a problem. “Given the number of households in our market that have access to Newsday‘s web site as a result of other subscriptions, it is no surprise that a relatively modest number have chosen the pay option,” the company said in a statement that called into question why such a strategy was desirable in the first place.

Give Newsday credit for being a pioneer, though. The industry has been buzzing about paywalls for the last year and the company at least had the cojones to do something.  You do have to wonder about the timing, though. Publisher Terry Jimenez reportedly told the staff last week that Newsday lost $7 million in the first three quarters of last year. It’s now embroiled in a labor dispute with unions that are refusing to accept a 10% pay cut. under the circumstances, this seems like an odd time to make a bet-the-business decision.

iPad is Here. You Can Breathe Again

Our reaction to Apple’s iPad announcement yesterday was summed up in our tweet: “It’s a big iPod Touch? Really? That’s it??”

For a product that was generating over 200 tweets per minute in the hours leading up to the launch event, the reality of the iPad underwhelmed us. Perhaps we’ve just learned to expect bigger things from Apple (although the iPad certainly is bigger than the iPhone – by several inches).

The commentators we read see more potential, however. Nicholas Carr, who’s been documenting the shift of data and applications from the desktop to the cloud, sees the iPad as a potential paradigm shift. In Carr’s view, this product completes the transformation of the end-user device from personal computer to window on the Internet. Unlike a laptop, the iPad relies upon software delivered over the Internet for most of its functionality. The large screen and persistent connection could change user behavior, he observes. People will get into the habit of expecting words, images and sound to be delivered whenever they need it in a slim device that fits in a briefcase, although not a purse.

Ken Doctor evaluates the pluses and minuses of yesterday’s announcement. The good news for publishers is that readers will finally carry around a device that delivers an experience similar to what they have traditionally received from a magazine or tabloid newspaper. That can’t be bad for publishers who are accustomed to working in that format. Doctor also sees the iPad as a “magnet for marketing dollars” from companies that can finally deliver a television-like experience to a handheld device. The tablet may also rejuvenate long-form reading, which has suffered as continually distracted readers have learned to consume information in sips rather than draughts.

Doctor worries, however, that media companies were not a bigger part of the launch. Apple seemed to play it safe, touting the iPad as a work machine but imbuing it with a clumsy virtual keyboard and incorporating features that will obviously be appealing to gamers. The company claims to have more than 140,000 applications in its iTunes store. Publishers who are accustomed to having the biggest brand in their markets are going to get lost in there unless Apple pulls them out of the muck and gives them some visibility. At least at this point, that isn’t happening.

David Coursey looks at the iPad from more of a technologist’s perspective with Six Reasons You Want an iPad, Six Reasons You Don’t. He notes, “Apple wants you to pay $829 for the 64GB device, plus monthly wireless fees for AT&T’s 3G. The first year total: $1,189.” Of course, the iPhone was also vastly overpriced when first announced.

Meanwhile, Amazon last week revised its royalty policy for self-published authors and small presses. Amazon could be ready to make a play for the loyalty of publishers who were shut out of the Apple party. Its licensing terms need to be friendlier, but it’s already showing a willingness to make those changes.

By the way, Ken Doctor’s new book, Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, will be available next week. We just received our review copy in the mail and while we haven’t had a chance to pore through it yet, we’re confident will contribute important new insights on the transformation of news from print to digital format.


Publishers that seemed to be ready for the toe tag at this time last year are staging some remarkable comebacks. Following hot on the heels of MediaNews Group Inc.’s announcement last week that it will enter a controlled bankruptcy and quickly reemerge in better condition, McClatchy said it has reached a debt restructuring deal with its creditors that will give it more time to get its debts under control. The owner of the Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee,  Kansas City Star and 27 other dailies has shifted its obligations to extend its repayment deadlines for a couple of years and says that 90% of its creditors have agreed to the plan. Year-over-year revenue is still falling at an alarming rate of 20%, but McClatchy said the rate of decline has slowed and it is getting its expenses under control. Its stock closed at $5.60 yesterday, up 1,600% from its 2009 low of 35 cents. Don’t you wish you could turn back the clock?

The good news in McClatchy’s shrinking revenue is that the percentage coming from online sources has grown. CEO Gary Pruitt told an investor conference call yesterday that online advertising now makes up 16% of the company’s total revenues. Perhaps more importantly, Pruitt said that 44% of digital revenue is online-only, meaning that the company is having success seeking out new advertisers and not simply selling discounted Web packages to print customers. He also said the company is ready to experiment with a pay wall, but is looking to the New York Times example for guidance.

Young people are reading newspapers online less than they used to. That’s the finding of an IBM survey of 3,327 people internationally (900 of them in the United States) as reported on Poynter last week. The good news is that people over 55 are increasing their consumption of online news, but that statistic disguises a more ominous trend. Overall consumption of online sources is up for the population as a whole, which presumably means fewer people are getting their news in print. Poynter’s Dorian Benkoil says the trend suggests that news organizations may have less time than they think to shift their strategies to a digital-first approach. separately, new research from Nielsen shows that consumers spent an average of five hours and 35 minutes on social networking sites in December, 2009, an increase of 82% from December 2008. Facebook is now second only to the telephone in the medium people use most often to reach out to friends and family, and it isn’t behind by much. The problem that creates for news organizations is that they can’t control what happens on Facebook but clearly must adopt strategies to deliver more information that way.

By paulgillin | November 23, 2009 - 10:34 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Paywalls

The dismal circulation figures reported by the US newspaper industry a couple of weeks ago may actually have been optimistic. There’s new evidence that many publishers took advantage of recent changes to Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) rules to actually overstate their real readership numbers. The blogosphere is having a field day with this one.

The catalyst was this AP piece that points out that changes adopted by the ABC seven months ago now enable publishers to count “bundled” subscriptions of paid and online editions as two subscribers, even if only one person is doing the reading. This continues recent trends by the bureau to loosen rules and give its publisher customers more flexibility to pump up their numbers. In the spring of 2008, for example, the ABC made it possible for publishers to declare as paid circulation copies that sell for as little as a penny.

The AP story doesn’t pinpoint how many news organizations benefited from the rules change in the most recent reporting period, but notes that 59 newspapers counted at least 5,000 electronic editions in their weekday circulations. If those numbers were backed out, the record 10.6% drop in the most recent six-month period would probably have been even worse. The story cites several examples of papers that showed declines in print subscribers but were still able to post circulation increases by counting delivery of electronic editions.

However, numbers games don’t fool anybody in the world in which smart people with spreadsheets can quickly analyze them. As Mark Potts points out, “Fudging the numbers may make internal constituencies happy, but they’ll bite you in the long run. Advertisers can count, too.” In other words, you can slice the numbers any way you want, but it doesn’t count for a hill of beans if customers don’t come in the door.

Electronic editions are basically digital versions of the print product that readers can download for the sake of convenience, ecology or availability. Jim Brady tweets wryly, “Nothing shows that you ‘get’ digital more than trying to deliver it to people in exactly the same form it appears in print.”

The circulation gains are part of a broader campaign by publishers to distract people from the reality of plunging circulation and ad revenue. Scarborough Research released a much-cited report recently that documented that 74% of American adults read a paper in print or online during the past week. These statistics look impressive, but qualifiers like “adult” and “in print or online” color the numbers. The newspaper industry has largely lost the youth market and online distribution is a mixed blessing at best.

Publishers are playing numbers games of their own. Mark Hamilton notes that the industry has largely abandoned circulation figures in favor of research-driven readership numbers that report the number of people who have read or looked into a newspaper in the past seven days. These figures serve to buttress the argument that newspapers are still a core element of American life while obfuscating the fact that subscribership is down.

And even large circulation numbers don’t equal business success. Alan Mutter contrasts the circulation strategies of two Bay Area publishers: Hearst’s San Francisco Chronicle and MediaNews Group. The Chron has all but abandoned discount circulation in a quest to cut its operating losses and drive circ revenue to 45% of total sales next year. MediaNews is taking the opposite course. It has used aggressive discounting to become the most widely circulated publisher in the area. The combined circulation of MediaNews papers in the region is now nearly triple the Chron’s. MediaNews president Jody Lodovic calls his strategy a long-term view, but is junk circulation good for anybody? The Chronicle‘s strategy is to stabilize its business, which may be a more rational plan in an unpredictable economy.

Whatever the numbers, advertisers are speaking more loudly with their dollars. US newspaper advertising revenue fell by nearly 28 percent in the third quarter from $8.9 billion to $6.4 billion. If you extrapolate that out to a full year, the US newspaper industry has shrunk by nearly half since 2006, when it reported $49.2 billion in revenue. The AP quotes Newspaper Association of America (NAA) president John Sturm positioning the figures in the context of a dismal economy, but it’s hard to find any bright spots when even online advertising was off 17%.


All may not be lost for the East Valley Tribune, which earlier this month announced plans to shut down at the end of the year. The paper reported on Friday that an unnamed buyer has emerged who plans to keep the paper operating both in print and online. The buyer also plans to keep a “substantial” number of Tribune employees on the payroll. There were no other details. Freedom Communications, which owns the Tribune, has been seeking a buyer since early this year, but no serious offers emerge prior to a Sept. 1 bankruptcy filing. In fact, Freedom’s chief financial officer said one bidder offered to take over the business only if Freedom paid him to do so

Count Twitter cofounder Biz Stone among the army of skeptics about Rupert Murdoch’s plans to remove News Corp. properties from Google’s search index. Saying Murdoch’s scheme is likely to “fail fast,” Stone told a London audience that the Australian media magnate should instead focus on “how to make a ton of money out of being radically open rather than some money by being ridiculously closed”. He suggested that Twitter’s crowdsourced model offer some opportunities and that the company would be willing to work with newspaper publishers. Twitter executives also said last week that the service will soon announce a plan to start making money off of the estimated 60 million members it has acquired.

And Finally…

Ed Padgett pointed us to this clever music video by Christopher Ave, the political editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who isn’t a copy editor but who is sympathetic to the plight of wordsmiths around the country who are falling victim to layoffs. The slick production, which looks like it was recorded in a newsroom, includes the following refrain:

I was there to fix your grammar
When you thought it wouldn’t matter
Cut all your extraneous blather down

AP Stylebook is my bible
Helped me stop a suit for libel
But nothing ensures my survival now

And I don’t know what I’ll do
After I am through
Killing my last adjective

Mallary Jean Tenore tells the story behind the video on Poynter Online. It has less than 800 views, so go visit it and add to its five-star rating.

By paulgillin | September 4, 2009 - 7:33 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local

We’d like to be able to close out the week on a happier note, but the evidence that newspaper executives and union leaders have no friggin’ clue about the enormity of the challenges facing them just keeps on coming. Consider:

Newspaper layoffs have hit young people the hardest, according to a survey by the Associated Press Managing Editors. The survey of 95 editors found that newsroom staffs have shrunk more than 10% in the last year and that workers between the ages of 18 and 35 were the most likely to be shown the door. This information comes at a time when newspapers are desperately struggling to become relevant to precisely that age group. It’s not that the editors want to lay off all the young staff, but union rules require them to preserve the jobs of older – and more change-averse – employees at the expense of younger and cheaper workers. We like Silicon Alley’s graphic accompanying this story. It shows a man aiming a revolver at his foot.

Ken Doctor of Outsell has a new report on the state of newspaper companies’ digital migration efforts and he comes to some pretty bleak conclusions. Newspapers derived just 11% of their revenues from digital sources in 2008, Doctor found. In comparison, the rest of the information industry gets 70% of its revenue online. In other words, the specialty publishing markets have substantially completed their migration to digital business models while newspapers are just beginning.

It gets worse. Online revenue for newspapers is now static or declining while it’s growing nearly everywhere else. And all the major publishers except Dow Jones are losing market share. “The news segment still stands out as the biggest laggard in the information industry overall,” Doctor says. Listen to our August interview with Doctor.


The number of reporters on Capitol Hill isn’t declining, but the profile is changing. There were 819 accredited reporters from mainstream US newspapers and wire services on the Hill in 2009, a decline of 193 – or 19% – from the previous year, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the gap is being filled by reporters from niche and specialty publications. There were 500 of them in the galleries this year, up from 335 a decade ago. As a result, the full Washington press corps has remained fairly stable at between 1,300 and 1,500 souls over the last 20 years. It’s just that newspapers now make up less than half the total, compared to two-thirds a decade ago.

The authors of the study note that ordinary Joes are privy to less and less information about their government, while well-heeled business types can afford to finance on-site reportage that keeps them in the lobbying loop. And the advantage isn’t limited to conservative business interests. “The Washington bureau of Mother Jones, a San Francisco-based, left-leaning non-profit magazine, which had no reporters permanently assigned to the nation’s capital a decade ago, today has seven, about the same size as the now-reduced Time magazine bureau,” the study notes.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is the latest newspaper to jump on the pay-wall bandwagon. Its new PG+ section went live this week, offering bonus features like “social networking, live chats, videos, blogs and behind-the-scenes” look at the daily news,” according to president Christopher H. Chamberlain. Standard daily fare will remain free, but for $3.99/month or $36/year, readers will get exclusive access to the thoughts of Steelers reporter Ed Bouchette, as well as undefined special offers. We’ll see. You can tour the “PG+ Experience” here.

The folks at North America’s largest French-language daily must have liked what they saw in Boston, where The New York Times Co. successfully stared down unions at the Boston Globe and won significant cost reductions. Montreal’s La Presse will shut down Dec. 1 if the newspaper’s eight unions don’t help it cut $26 million in operating expenses. Among the concessions management is seeking are the end of a four-day work week for full-time pay and elimination of as many as 100 of the 700 jobs at the newspaper. The union says it’s open to discussion if it can see the paper’s books. La Presse cut out Sunday publication earlier this year in order to save money.

By paulgillin | August 10, 2009 - 8:58 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Paywalls

Things are looking up in Seattle. Shortly after the closing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer just five months ago, the surviving Seattle Times asked publicly if the city was about to become a “no-newspaper town.” Hardly. Since the P-I went under, circulation at the Times has shot up 30% to 260,000 daily readers. The paper has crept back into the black on a month-t0-month basis and is enjoying its best outlook in years.

One of the last family-owned major metros in the country, the Times has been weighed down for years by a joint operating agreement that required it to support the money-losing P-I. Fortunately for the Times, it managed circulation for both papers, so when the P-I went under, the Times simply switched subscribers to its circulation list and gave them the option to cancel. A remarkable 84% opted to stay with the Times.

But it gets better. The online remnant of the P-I is beating its numbers. Although has only one-eighth the editorial staff of the failed newspaper, it has focused its coverage and kept most of the reader traffic it had before the newspaper went under. Hearst won’t say if is making money, but it does say that audience and revenues are ahead of projections.

In other good news, Cox Enterprises has pulled the Austin American-Statesman off the market, saying the bids it was receiving didn’t reflect the true value of the paper. The American-Statesman is one of 29 titles Cox put up for sale nearly a year ago. While there were many visitors and several bids, the offers were in the fire-sale range, said publisher Michael Vivio. “it just did not make sense to sell it for the prices offered.” The story quotes newspaper analyst Ed Atorino speculating that “there are signs that the newspaper industry may have bottomed out. ‘We see hopes for better conditions by the end of 2010,’ Atorino said. ‘It’s been very difficult, and now, maybe, the worst is over.’”

A Reader Revenue Model That Works

Christopher Kimball, Cook's IllustratedAmid the wreckage of the media industry, there is at least one publisher who’s charging readers for content and making a lot of money at it. He’s Christopher Kimball, the intense, non-nonsense publisher of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines. The flagship Cook’s Illustrated has nearly a million subscribers who pay between $25 and $35 a year for six issues. There’s no advertising. The business is reportedly insanely profitable.

Kimball’s recipe is to give readers exactly what they want: no-fail recipes vetted with exhaustive trial and error in kitchens outfitted with the best gadgetry money can by. You won’t find exotic dishes in the Cook’s magazines. What you’ll find is instructions on how to make the perfect pancake, combined with exhaustive background information on details such as the role of baking powder in the process.

The Boston Globe profile says Cook’s Illustrated enjoys an almost unheard-of 78% renewal rate. Kimball charge for website access and finds readers through intensive direct-mail campaigns and a successful spinoff cooking show called America’s Test Kitchen. Though he’s a multi-millionaire, Kimball can usually be found on weekends at his Vermont farm, testing new recipes. He’s a rigid perfectionist who believes advertising is an unholy alliance that does a disservice to readers. So far, he’s confounding the critics.


The 23rd annual Veronis Suhler Stevenson media survey is out (TG; we’ve been on pins and needles) and  finds that for the first time last year, consumers spent more time with media they paid for – like books and cable TV – than with primiarly ad-supported media. The study also forecasts somewhat counter-intuitively that media/communications will be the third fastest-growing industry in the US over the next five years, trailing only mining and construction. The growth won’t come from traditional media, though. Rather, it will be driven by new areas like paid product placement, e-mail marketing, in-game advertisements, mobile advertising and video downloads.

The New York Daily News is hiring a social media manager.  It’s joins crosstown rivals New York Times and New York Post in recently putting some bucks behind the explosion of interest in Facebook and the link. The Daily News has a long way to go: it’s roster of Twitter followers is about 1/10th that of the Post’s.

The Boston Globe interviews New York Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger and CEO Janet Robinson. They say the threat to shut down the Globe unless major union concessions were made was not a bluff. They also don’t plan to sell the paper to the highest bidder. They want someone who’s going to continue a history of quality journalism. And they think the Times Co. has been a splendid custodian of the Globe’s reputation. Sheesh.

We stumbled across a new search engine: Yebol that “utilizes a combination of patented algorithms paired with human knowledge to build a Web directory for each query and each user.” We’re not so sure what that means, but the search results pages are very cool.

By paulgillin | July 3, 2009 - 9:52 am - Posted in Facebook, Google, Hyper-local, Paywalls, Solutions

NewsmixerTime magazine writes about the first crop of graduates from a new master’s program at the Medill School of Journalism that aims to blend programming and journalism skills. Medill is the most prominent of several academic institutions that are dabbling with crossover programs that seek to make the news more accessible and multi-dimensional through technology. One outcome of the students’ labors has been NewsMixer (right), a site that enhances the reader commenting experience by enabling contributors to start discussions, post quick tweet-like messages or write thoughtful letters to the editor about stories or elements within stories. The text is annotated with these comments and questions and Facebook Connect integration takes the conversations to other venues.

Most of the students in the Medill program are techies. They spend three quarters learning the craft of traditional reporting and then team up with students from the traditional journalism side to develop an application that delivers information in a new way, enhances the reader experience or makes journalists more productive.

Speaking of new ways of presenting news, a group of senators began working on a bill to overhaul of the US health care system this week, but NPR turned the camera around on the swarm of lobbyists who filled the hearing room. The radio network published photos of the scene, annotated with information about the lobbyists pictured there. And it’s asking readers to contribute information about people the staffers couldn’t identify.

Also, take a look at Newsy, an online video site that aggregates perspectives on important stories. Jessi Stafford, a recent University of Missouri graduate and Newsy intern, told us about it. “ creates videos that analyze and synthesize news coverage of important global issues from multiple sources. Its method of presenting the ways in which different media outlets around the world are covering a story lends itself well to understanding complexities.” Newsy aggregates coverage from all kinds of news outlets and presents it in a packaged video format similar to what you might see on the evening news. A newsy “anchor” guides the viewer through a variety of perspectives and attempts to explain what’s going on using these multiple sources. We’re not sure it’s easier to follow than a print digest, but it’s certainly different. See an example below.

You Are What You Tweet

The Australian media watchdog site New Matilda comments upon the ethical dilemmas presented by Twitter. It tells the story of Sydney Morning Herald technology writer Asher Moses, who was publicly embarrassed recently over comments he made about a sex scandal involving a prominent former rugby star. Moses’ comments were made during his off hours, but hasn’t stopped many Australians from questioning the journalist’s impartiality.

Julie Posetti wonders whether Twitter’s humanizing capacity is a blessing or a curse for journalists. Twitter “merges the professional and the personal, the public and the private — blurring the lines of engagement for journalists trained to be didactic observers and commentators rather than participants in debates and characters within stories,” she writes. Twitter makes journalists more accessible and thus more appealing, Posetti notes, but should people who are supposed to be rigidly unbiased be allowed to share their views on anything? Moses says he’s made up his mind. “He’s now decided to restrict his Tweeting to purely work-related messages.” BTW, it’s worth checking out Posetti’s Top 20 Tips for Journo Twits.


Small and mid-sized newspapers may be a bargain in the current market, according to a study by brokerage firm Cribb, Greene & Associates. Despite the fact that smaller papers haven’t suffered the steep losses of their big-city brethren, many publishers are putting them up for sale out of fear of losing further asset value. Asking prices are between four and eight times earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), compared to 10 to 14 times EBITDA a few years ago, the firm said. This is despite the fact that revenue declines at these papers have been only about half that of major metro dailies.

At least two potential buyers for the Boston Globe have emerged, and owner New York Times Co. is doing everything it can to welcome them. Former advertising executive Jack Connors and private equity investor Stephen Pagliuca have received permission to team up on a bid. There is also reportedly a rival bid by former Globe executive Stephen Taylor, whose family originally sold the paper to the Times Co. for $1.1 billion in 1993. The Times Co. sweetened the pot by announcing that buyers would only have to assume $51 million worth of pension obligations for the Globe and another $8 million for the Worcester Telegram instead of the full $200 million+ for which the current owners are liable. In an unrelated event, the paper’s editorial page editor, Renée Loth, announced she is leaving the paper after 24 years for unspecified new adventures.

john_arthurCirculation at the Los Angeles Times passed one million in 1961. Last month it passed one million again – only headed the other way. Edward Padgett remembers. Meanwhile, the revolving door continues in the top editorial ranks: John Arthur (left) is out as executive editor after 23 years at the paper. A memo from Editor Russ Stanton makes it clear that the decision wasn’t Arthur’s.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says media companies should stop waiting for the market to bounce back because it isn’t going to bounce back. In the future, “All content consumed will be digital, we can [only] debate if that may be in one, two, five or 10 years,” he told the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, where he was named media person of the year. What’s more, advertising will continue to migrate online, leaving a smaller pie for traditional media companies to share.

Gannett Co. will lay off 1,400 people, not the 4,500 that was rumored. Still, that brings to 5,400 the total layoffs in the past year, which is about 12% of the company’s workforce. Gannett Blog is tracking the reductions, both announced and unannounced, from reports submitted by employees at local Gannett offices. As of this morning, the count is up to 205.

economist-coverMagazine publishers might want to catch the next flight to London to find out what the heck they’re doing right at The Economist Group. The publisher of The Economist just reported a 26% jump in profit on a 17% increase in sales in the first quarter. Circulation grew 6.4% to nearly 1.4 million while ad revenue leapt 29% and page views climbed 53%. Don’t these people know the media is dying? Interestingly, The Economist enjoys a much hipper image in the US than it does in its native land. In fact, the company just launched a new video ad that portrays a young man walking on high wires across a European city, seeking to highlight its appeal to young readers.  The average Economist reader in the US is 39 years old. In the UK, where the magazine has a more serious image, the average if 47.

Quebec’s second-largest newspaper is killing its Sunday edition. The publisher of La Presse said it made more sense to discontinue the unprofitable Sunday edition than to “pick away at all or four editions.” Sunday papers apparently aren’t very profitable in Quebec, in contrast to the US, where they are sometimes the only profitable issue. If anyone from Canada cares to comment on why this is the case, we’re sure US readers would be interested to know.

And Finally…

CrashBonsaiJohn Rooney is one weird dude. Or at least he has a unique hobby. Not content to grow bonsai trees like everyone else, Rooney wraps miniature crashed cars around them. “Each model is unique, and individually disassembled, cut, melted, filed, smashed, then reassembled to replicate a real fender bender. Some models might work perfectly with a bonsai you already have, but generally you should expect to create a new bonsai around the vehicles.” Rooney’s work is available in some Boston-area stores and you can sample some of his finer pieces at this web gallery.

By paulgillin | July 1, 2009 - 3:16 pm - Posted in Fake News, Google, Hyper-local

We’ve been working our way through the social media and journalism sections at OurBlook, a Web venture that seeks to combine some of the best attributes of blogging and in-depth book writing. Editor Gerry Storch and Founder Paul Mongerson, who both have extensive media experience, have posted more than 50 interviews and first-person opinion pieces from people who care about the future of journalism. We haven’t read them all yet, but here are some excerpts we noted from the 35 or so we’ve completed so far. More will follow later.

OurBlook is inviting more people to contribute to the discussion by signing up on its website. What’s a blook? It’s a cross between a blog and a book.

From Robert Brown on Social Media

Brown is President of RDB Consulting

“Web analytics is the mechanism that will drive the proliferation of targeted messaging across the Web to users via the ever-growing array of social media tools…[Mike] Orren [founder of Dallas-based Pegasus News] calls this convergence of media into one vast network ‘Web 3.0.’ The idea of a single website as a source of content is quickly becoming archaic. As Orren says, …’With Web 3.0, it no longer matters where the information lives. Once you post something, it will be quickly disseminated via social networks to those users who care about the information.’”

From Joe Shea on the Future of Journalism

Shea is editor-in-chief of The American Reporter

The biggest issue is the failed model. Journalists need to own their own news publications, not simply toil for the people who own them…[T]here’s really no point in supporting other people with our work when we can support ourselves with it. The American Reporter was founded to make that possible when journalists are ready for it. We don’t care how long it takes; we always knew they would be slow to get off the corporate teat and start walking on their own.  When that happens, and great news organizations owned and operated solely by journalists who are their own bosses exist all around the world – that’s when a newspaper war will erupt, and the world will find journalism anew. It won’t be so boring then.”

From Michael Saffran on the Future of Newspapers

Saffran is addjunct professor of communication at Rochester Institute of Technology

michael_saffranLifting the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban could benefit both newspaper and radio industries; however, rather than serving as an open-ended gift to media conglomerates, repealing the ban should be tied to stricter radio ownership limits. According to an FCC study, newspaper/television station cross-ownership enhances the quantity and quality of TV news and public-affairs programming. Radio could similarly benefit from partnerships between broadcasters and publishers because most newspapers (with a few notable exceptions) are, much like radio, inherently local. Thus, the addition of print reporters to the small news staffs (if they exist at all) of cross-owned radio stations could enhance local-radio news … an area in which local radio is currently underperforming.”

From If Newspapers Fold, We’ll Adjust by Gerry Storch

Storch is the editor of OurBlook

“I think what will replace the newspaper in [my hometown of] Naples, [Fla.], and newspapers elsewhere, will be a pricy on-line newsletter. It will have a cheap, barebones staff to cover the basic business of the town – the city council, the school board, the police beat – and a couple veteran pros to provide an insider’s knowledge of what’s going on and make it worthwhile for readers to cough up $100 a month for a subscription, or whatever it costs to make a profit.  So people who want straight news will still be able to get it. The media will continue but in a much different form, and they won’t be the mass media any more.”

From Paul Conti on the Future of Newspapers

Conti is an instructor in communications at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y.

PConti“Frankly, my students want and expect everything ‘on demand.’ They are not specifically loyal to media brands. They do not care what the source of their media content is as long as it entertains or informs them.  If I were running a newspaper’s city room, I’d be sprinting to create more ‘TV News Stories’ that people can watch on their websites.  A few newspaper companies are doing this, but the vast majority [of them] simply send one of their print reporters out into the field with a substandard consumer camera to record a news conference.  Yes, that’s content, but it isn’t good content and it won’t attract younger readers. They need to mimic the styles that TV reporters do with visualizing stories. Every story in the newspaper should have a companion video version available on demand.”

From Sean Dougherty on the Future of Journalism

Dougherty is vice president at Stern + Associates, a public relations firm

“I am one of those old timers and I love print newspapers, ink stains and all, but that is no reason to ignore reality: the value of the placement is the journalist’s brand and reach, not whether or not the information originally appeared on paper. Online articles get forwarded, increasing influence. Bloggers prefer to blog about topics where they can link through to what they are commenting on.  Online articles are more easily fed into your own distribution channels, whether it is a personal blog, e-mail distribution list or website.  While streamed video clips are usually associated with sketch comedy like ‘Saturday Night Live’ or ‘The Daily Show,’ it is unlikely that Harvard University Professor Michael Porter’s recent interview on ‘The Charlie Rose Show’ was seen live as often as it was viewed online based on the number of bloggers who linked to the segment.”

From Andrew Degenholtz on the Future of Journalism

Degenholtz is president of ValueMags, a magazine subscription marketing agency

“Many anticipate that the modern day journalist will morph into the ‘backpack journalist,’ where not only good writing and grammar skills will be valuable, but taking photographs and shooting video will almost become a necessity. As we’ve already seen, the ‘citizen journalist’ also plays a large role in this new media landscape. Bloggers getting press passes to news events once reserved for the traditional media will only help hungry consumers get even more specialized information. But one thing remains the same: good writing is still good writing. That won’t ever change.  If you have something to say, people will read, no matter how it’s packaged.”

From Nigel Eccles on Future of Papers

Eccles is co-founder and CEO of UK website, “a prediction market where people trade predictions on the outcome of running news stories or future events.”

“Blogging is not nearly as big in the UK as it is in the US. For example, there are only a handful of high quality political blogs [in the UK] compared with hundreds in the US. One of the reasons that blogging is so popular in the US is that it is written in an informal and familiar style and tends towards sensationalism. The UK press is much closer to that style than the US press (where every other article seems like it is written for the Pulitzer Prize committee).” ( photo)

From Paul Swider on Papers’ Future

Swider was a reporter with the St. Petersburg Times until he was laid off in May, 2008

“The larger issue, and the one that makes me so ‘popular’ with my erstwhile journalism colleagues, is humility, or its lack in the newsroom. Most reporters are well-meaning and believe they are doing a public service, but that is a legacy from an era when there wasn’t that much information available to the general public. Now that there is, to persist in the attitude that the newspaper is the source of all information is kind of silly. Most government meetings are televised, many documents are publicly available, dissatisfied workers that were the source for many an exposé can now publish directly themselves to the Web, so a journalist isn’t as indispensable as before, and may be superfluous in some contexts.”

From Louis Sarmiento on Social Media

The interviewer comments, “Big-name athletes and entertainment celebrities seem to have taken to Twitter because 1) they can control their message, 2) the message is short and non-taxing, 3) they bypass reporters, 4) they can have ‘contact’ with fans that really isn’t contact and 5) fans end up thinking they have contact though they really don’t.”

By paulgillin | June 24, 2009 - 9:09 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local, Solutions


Management at the Boston Globe finally wore down union leadership last night and won tentative agreement on a revised contract that is substantially similar to the one the union rejected a little over two weeks ago.  The new contract slightly reduces the pay cut management had originally sought, although it includes additional benefit reductions.  More importantly, the Globe and its parent New York Times Co. emerged victorious on the biggest issue: the right to end lifetime job guarantees for 170 employees.

Union members still have to ratify the proposed contract in a vote set for July 20, but approval seems likely now that union leadership has endorsed the deal.  The end of the last bitter labor dispute between Globe management and employees also positions the paper for sale to one or more of several interested suitors, which include investor and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca,; Partners HealthCare chairman Jack Connors and former Globe executive Stephen Taylor.

Schedule Cutbacks Have Unforeseen Effects

More than 100 daily newspapers in 32 states have cut at least one daily edition in an effort to reduce costs and avoid layoffs.  But if you think that changing frequency is a matter of just shuttling around the work schedule, read this excellent piece in Editor & Publisher on the ripple effects of becoming somewhat-less-than-daily. Joe Strupp talked to editors around the country and found that cutting as little as one day’s worth of print news can force significant changes in the way a newspaper approaches its mission. “We try to cover Saturday through Monday on Tuesday. But we don’t staff Sunday night so we can staff more the rest of the week. There is more breaking news that goes up on Monday,” says Dan Liggett of the Wilmington (Ohio) News Journal in a quote that typifies the kind of calendar soup that these editors must contend with.

Some papers have had to add pages on days following gaps in the production schedule because print diehards still want local news and won’t go online for it.  Big news stories tend to lose momentum when they occur just before a break in the production schedule.  This forces editors to alter subsequent coverage to keep reader interest from waning. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, which are the most prominent dailies to cut back on print, have moved more enterprise reporting stories into the Thursday, Friday and Sunday editions that land on subscribers’ doorsteps.

In communities with active high school sports schedules, the loss of a Saturday edition has prompted website editors to boost the priority of local sports in Saturday online coverage and to add Sunday pages to handle the demand. Other publishers have found that weekly columns and features that appeared on certain days have had to be moved to other days because readers didn’t want to give them up.

The good news is that “editors are becoming more convinced that print-devoted readers will stick around even when fewer editions are available and stories get published days after a news event,”  Strupp concludes.

R.I.P. Ann Arbor News

Ann_Arbor_News_BuildingThe Ann Arbor News, which announced plans in March to scale back from daily to twice weekly frequency, is apparently going a little further than that.  Writing on, Rick Edmonds reports that the 174-year-old daily is effectively shutting down.  The “unspecified number of layoffs” the paper announced in March is in fact the entire staff, Edmonds says. The headquarters building (right) will be sold and an entirely new online operation launched with a twice-weekly print edition that looks pretty lightweight. Staffers will have the opportunity to apply for jobs at a much lower pay scale than what most of them are currently earning.  Edmonds suggests that Ann Arbor’s young, hip college-age crowd is more attuned to online media and extrapolates the same scenario playing out in cities like San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Jose, where a young, upwardly mobile populace creates a hostile environment for a daily newspaper.


Editor & Publisher continues to try to find insight in the increasingly meaningless “time-spent-on-sight” statistics for major newspapers.  We pointed out some of the weaknesses of this metric in our analysis of last month’s figures, including the paradoxical fact that big spikes in traffic can actually drive down time-spent figures.  Did the Washington Post really do anything to deserve a one-third drop in reader time commitment from May 2008 (16:04) to May 2009 (10:58)? If you look at the snapshot for those two months, things look pretty negative for the Post, but the April 2008 time-spent number was 12:55, which hints that the figure from May of last year was a fluke.  We wish Nielsen would stop flouting these monthly snapshots and concentrate instead on six month moving averages, which would filter out the short-term spikes that make year-to-year comparisons practically useless.

Fans of Jim Hopkins’ hugely popular Gannett Blog can breathe a sigh of relief.  The crusade to be the world’s most reliable source about what’s going on inside the company will continue at Gannettoid after the blog shuts down on July 19. Gannettoid is “a Web site that serves as a collection of stories, links and other Web sites about Gannett Company.” While it isn’t formally affiliated with Gannett Blog, Gannettoid is welcoming devotees to continue their conversations in the forum section.  No word on whether Hopkins will pop in for a visit now and then.

The new owners of the San Diego Union-Tribune are already selling off property acquired in the purchase of the newspaper last month. Two properties have gone on the market at a combined sale price of $9.1 million, which is nearly 40% higher than what Platinum Equity paid for them. The move would tend to confirm Ken Doctor’s theory that Platinum Equity acquired the U-T primarily for its real estate value and got the newspaper thrown in for free. (via Gary Scott)

Sun Newspapers will eliminate 115 full- and part-time positions in mid-August as part of a sweeping reorganization plan that will reduce the company’s portfolio of weekly newspapers by half and outsource accounting, payroll and home delivery to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Both organizations are owned by New Jersey-based Advance Publications.

The Columbia Journalism Review profiles Alan Mutter, whose Reflections of a Newsosaur blog has stirred up the industry and created a launch pad for Mutter’s ideas about reinventing news organizations. It’s a good companion to our Feb. 18 audio interview with Mutter that includes details about his new ViewPass venture, which seeks to give publishers a viable subscription model.

Katharine_WeymouthWashington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth addressed graduates of the Medill School Of Journalism at Northwestern University over the weekend, urging them to continue to fight the good fight and declaring that “the need for great journalism is stronger than ever.” You can read the full text of her address here. Dan Gillmor tweeted that it was a “defensive commencement speech by WashPost publisher; she plainly has no strategy for future.”  However, Weymouth’s remarks indicate that she understands that the old model is collapsing and that publishers must adapt to a new world in which they are no longer “a toll booth over a bridge” to their readers.  Read the text and draw your own conclusions.

Last week we noted that MySpace is struggling against Facebook and other adult-oriented social networks, calling into question the effectiveness of Rupert Murdoch’s management strategy.  Now MySpace is laying off two-thirds of its international workforce, or 300 people, on top of the 400 laid off in the US last week.  Altogether, the company has cut its total workforce by nearly 40%.  Which only goes to show, we suppose, that media dislocation isn’t limited strictly to old media.

And Finally…

Oyster_ReportersThere is hope for veteran journalists.  Oyster Hotel Reviews is a fledgling online venture that employs 13 journalists to conduct extensive reviews of lodgings for business and leisure travelers.  The site, which is funded by Bain Capital Ventures, bucks the current trend toward wisdom-of-crowds reviews by employing professionals to visit hotels under cover and write about their experiences. “ is a great opportunity for these journalists as they provide full benefits, competitive salary and a job that includes travel to various hotels around the world fully paid for—who wouldn’t want that as a job?” a publicist wrote us.  We’re wondering where to apply.