A spirited discussion of academic research and its relevance to professional journalism poured into the in-boxes of division members on the weekend of June 23 via the Newspaper & Online News Division mailing list. By Monday close to 50 members had been heard from and comments were still being added. And it kept going…
Update July 2:
The mailing list discussion prompted this July 2 summary and response by AEJMC President Linda Steiner, of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Among other things, she points to the Research You Can Use webpage highlighting studies from AEJMC journals.
Update: The discussion kept going… Downloaded from the list archive, the June mail (admittedly inflated by the quoted responses) is a 1.1 MB text file, double the size of the last major use of the mailing list, a July 2008 discussion of renaming the division to add “and Online” to the name.
For the terminally text-oriented, that’s almost 600 pages of 10-pt Courier, including all the mail headers and repeated replied-to messages. The who-replied-to-whom discussion could be much easier to follow if it had been done in the comment section of this blog, but hitting “reply” to an e-mail message is still so much easier.
Utah State’s Ted Pease launched the conversation with his response to “How Journalism Professionals and Educators Can Close the Chasm,” an essay by Jerry Ceppos, new dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU. Many of the responses included links to further discussion on members’ blogs and websites.
For anyone who, like me, inadvertently hit a “delete conversation” button on a (dumb) smartphone instead of archiving the discourse to read later, here’s a reminder that mailing-list items can be retrieved by date, topic or keyword at the list-server website. The links below go to the first 48 hours of discussion. The June discussion is here.
How it began:
- AEJMC Newspaper & Online News Division The academic-professional “chasm” Dr. Dane S. Claussen
- AEJMC Newspaper & Online News Division The academic-professional “chasm” SkyeDent at aol.com
“Embracing the Future,” by Paul Steinle & Sara Brown has been posted on the American Journalism Review website, and it appears in the spring, 2012 edition, of AJR.
The article highlights the findings of their 50-state, 50-newspaper inquiry into the status the American newspaper industry, Steinle said.
Brown, Steinle and two industry speakers also presented their work at the 2011 AEJMC conference. The presentation can be viewed online at Who Needs Newspapers?
The full results of the 50-state report are posted at
“We invite you to visit this site and use any materials that are posted there in your classroom,” Steinle said, in an email to AEJMC Newspaper & Online News Division members. “Dr. Brown and I have also commented on our findings in several classrooms across the USA via Skype interviews, and we would be willing to continue to do that practice if any of you would find it useful.”
There’s a whole lot of tweeting going on this week from the Newspaper Association of America and American Society of News Editors event in Washington, President Obama speech included… and some excellent use of their conference “hashtags” on Twitter, with links to stories by student journalists and others.
Even if you don’t have a Twitter account (but you should!), you can follow the links from the event-specific tags NAAmXc, ASNE12:
- Note that organization-name hashtags are risky… producing links to everything from aviation to the National Autism Association https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23NAA
- Other confusion “@asne” is not the American organization; it’s someone in Osaka who hasn’t used the address, but got there first. The American Society of News Editors website is asne.org (not .com; that’s someone else again) and its Twitter handle is @NewsEditors: https://twitter.com/#!/NewsEditors
Samples of what’s going on, in no particular order — also interesting folks to follow if you do have a Twitter account. (Mine is https://twitter.com/#!/bobstep) Admittedly, this is not journalism; it’s cutting-and-pasting links so that I can find them later myself…
On the heels of The New York Times lowering of its free-reading limit, Washington Post ombudsman summarizes the current state of “paywall” plans and predicts Post will stay free.
- The Los Angeles Times digital “memberships” began March 5
- Gannett Co. announced that its regional newspapers — but not its flagship paper USA Today — will begin charging for online content.
The cheerily titled Newspaper Death Watch may not sound like the go-to blog for journalists anxious about state of print journalism, but it’s worth a look — and actually quite inspiring.
Longtime tech journalist and industry thinker Paul Gillin doesn’t have an anti-print agenda, and indeed he considers himself “a newspaper junkie from way back.”
But he does believe in “a new model of journalism built upon aggregation and reader-generated content,” and Death Watch is all about covering the painful transition from print.
Recent posts include a detailed look at Patch.com’s localized coverage of Hurricane Irene and a farewell to the consolidated Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.
Something for your bookmarks …
The past may be prologue and newspapers may be the first rough draft of history, but less of that past will be searchable with Google. The company has informed newspaper publishers that it is ending a partnership project that had begun scanning about 2,000 newspapers’ microfilm and morgue collections.
The ambitious project, announced in 2008, originally hoped to put billions of news pages online, adding original scans to existing digital archives it had been cross-indexing since 2006 in conjunction with partners like Proquest and Heritage. “We’re looking for all the world’s primary sources, and the older, the better,” was the invitation on the project ‘about’ page.
The already-scanned archives are still searchable at http://news.google.com/archivesearch, including 19th and 20th century American and European papers, but Google said it will not be adding to the collection, and will return some unscanned materials to the publishers.
The Boston Phoenix, New England’s veteran alt-weekly, and the SearchEngineLand blog started getting the word out about Google’s decision to pull the plug on the scanning project. By Saturday no announcement had been added to Google’s original News Archive Partner page.
The project had made it possible for smaller papers to provide archive search to readers and researchers. Through Google’s search engine, users could combine a search of its full-text databases with the pay-per-view archives at The New York Times and other papers indexed by Proquest Historical Newspapers.
Carly Carioli of The Phoenix wrote:
News Archive was generally a good deal for newspapers — especially smaller ones like ours, who couldn’t afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to digitally scan and index our archives — and a decent bet for Google.
It threaded a loophole for newspapers, who, in putting pre-internet archives online, generally would have had to sort out tricky rights issues with freelancers — but were thought to have escaped those obligations due to the method with which Google posted the archives. (Instead of posting the articles as pure text, Google posted searchable image files of the actual newspaper pages.) Google reportedly used its Maps technology to decipher the scrawl of ancient newsprint and microfilm; but newspapers are infamously more difficult to index than books, thanks to layout complexities such as columns and jumps, which require humans or intense algorithmic juju to decode.
Here’s two wild guesses: the process may have turned out to be harder than Google anticipated. Or it may have turned out that the resulting pages drew far fewer eyeballs than anyone expected.
AFP reported that Google had digitized more than 3.5 million daily or weekly editions, ranging from a 1752 edition of the Halifax Gazette and the 1895 London Advertiser to 85 years of the Milwaukee Sentinel.
The Guardian headlined its story Google euthanizes newspaper scan plan: We will organize the world’s information. Except the old newspapers.
Here’s how Google described its News archive search to users on its help page:
News archive search searches across a large collection of historical archives including major newspapers/magazines, news archives and legal archives. Search results include both content that accessible to all users (such as BBC News, Time Magazine and Guardian) and content that requires a fee (such as Washington Post Archives, Newspaper Archive, and New York Times Archives). In addition to crawling content online, we’ve also worked with newspapers to digitize materials via our News Archive Partner Program. Through partnerships with newspapers around the world, the News Archive Partner Program makes unique and previously-unavailable newspaper content searchable and browsable online.
The general search results include a timeline in the left column, so that searchers can select recent years or decades into the past.
(This blog’s precursor had the story in 2008, complete with an attempt to find The Titanic in the archives, and a comparison with Proquest’s pay-per-view services. Here’s an updated version of that Titanic search, so that you can see timeline results. I recommend a visit to Dunkirk, NY, to see how The Grape Belt and Chautauqua Farmer covered the story.)
March update on The New York Times progress on its plans to try to extract some income from online readers, originally planned for a January launch, eventually rescheduled to March 28.
The bottom line: The home delivery price still includes access to all digital versions. For the rest of us, NYTimes.com offers 20 free articles each calendar month as well as the Top News, home page, section fronts, blog fronts and classifieds. After that, the Times will want $15 every four weeks for unlimited access via Web and smartphone, $20 for tablets. (There’s promise of a “special introductory offer” on March 28, and some fine print about crosswords and e-reader editions.)
- Newsonomics of The New York Times Pay Fence — Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics, comments at Nieman Lab on the Times good timing: bringing its pay model online during the successful launch of the iPad2 “and a growing sense of the Times’ outsized importance as media chaos multiplies.”
- The Times Announces Digital Subscription Plan — (Jeremy W. Peters, NYT Business Day / Media & Advertising) — The New York Times introduced a plan on Thursday to begin charging the most frequent users of its Web site $15 for a four-week subscription in a bet that readers will pay for news they are accustomed to getting free. (March 17, 2011)
- Times Letter to Readers — About digital subscriptions. (March 17, 2011)
- The Times’s Online Pay Model Was Years in the Makng — (Jeremy W. Peters, NYT Business Day / Media & Advertising) — The New York Times’s online pay model, which takes effect on March 28, may be the most watched experiment in American journalism. (March 21, 2011)
- Paying for The Times at SXSW — (NYT Mediadecoder Blog) The New York Times, my employer, had just announced that it was about to implement a metered model, charging its most frequent visitors… March 20, 2011)
- Business News You Didn’t Read Here — NYT Public Editor Arthur Brisbane on other media outlets’ coverage of the Times plans to introduce a pay model for some of its online news. (March 5, 2011)
Under the headline “At Flagging Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture,” David Carr at The New York Times offers a 4,000-word analysis, complete with unflattering anecdotes about new executives along with the more quantitative picture.
It’s an amazingly sad story — and would be sensational enough without working the phrase “show him her breasts” into the first stick of type in an anecdote attributed to “two people at the bar.”
At a time when the media industry has struggled, the debt-ridden Tribune Company has done even worse. Less than a year after Mr. Zell bought the company, it tipped into bankruptcy, listing $7.6 billion in assets against a debt of $13 billion, making it the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry. More than 4,200 people have lost jobs since the purchase, while resources for the Tribune newspapers and television stations have been slashed.
A later comment:
“They threw out what Tribune had stood for, quality journalism and a real brand integrity, and in just a year, pushed it down into mud and bankruptcy,” said Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst with Outsell Inc., a consulting firm. “And it’s been wallowing there for the last 20 months with no end in sight.”
Included is a hat-tip to blogger Robert Feder for spreading the word (and Facebook photos) of an executive poker party at the Tribune tower, a scene that seems to echo the “culture” described in Carr’s piece.
Within the story’s first day online, there were more than 300 reader comments attached, including some that refer to what Tribue Corp. did to The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, and other papers. (I don’t see any comments from my former colleagues at The Hartford Courant, but they have other outlets for venting — and for passing on a link to a Tribune exec’s response to Carr’s piece.)
While you’re at the Times, check out the comment “Highlights” and “Readers’ Recommendations” feature that let you browse a selection of comments, if you don’t have time to wade through the whole collection of sympathetic sighs and screeds against fat-slob capitalism.
Not that this is news to us, but it turns out the paywall dream may far fall short of what at least some not entirely obscure publishers hoped. According to a new report from the hardline, no-punches-pulled British telecommunications consultants Enders Analysis, paywalls will never be able to compensate for the death by a thousand bites that newspaper revenue streams continue to suffer:
… A newspaper pay wall subscriber is worth only a quarter to a third of a print buyer: even if every single print buyer is successfully converted to the pay wall, newspapers will still face a basic problem of scale. … Pay walls will not be able to compensate for lower revenue per reader by expanding the audience for paid news, due to the long term decline of circulation, free online news, 24-hour broadcast news and free-sheets. … Future change will be radical: publishers may need to consider producing a newspaper its loyal readers recognise and value with just 200 rather than 500 journalists …
At the same time, News Corporation/News International magnate Rupert Murdoch seems to be standing firm in his dedication to the paywalls recently erected around his English flagship broadsheets, the Times and Sunday Times, despite a raft of really bad news. Says the Independent:
Faced with a collapse in traffic to thetimes.co.uk, some advertisers have simply abandoned the site. Rob Lynam, head of press trading at the media agency MEC, whose clients include Lloyds Banking Group, Orange, Morrisons and Chanel, says, “We are just not advertising on it. If there’s no traffic on there, there’s no point in advertising on there.” Lynam says he has been told by News International insiders that traffic to The Times site has fallen by 90 per cent since the introduction of charges. “That was the same forecast they were giving us prior to registration and the paywall going up, so whether it’s a reflection on reality or not, I don’t know.”
He warns that newspaper organisations have less muscle in internet advertising campaigns than they do in print. “Online, we have far more options than just newspaper websites – it’s not a huge loss to anyone really. If we are considering using some newspaper websites, The Times is just not in consideration.”
So, Murdoch’s looking uncharacteristically willing to invest significant resources into a (so far, apparently) failing venture. Is this sheer entrepreneurial hubris, an unwillingness to admit a bad move? I doubt it. My guess is that the revenues and stature lost at the Times Online simply don’t add up to enough for Murdoch to pull the plug on the experiment. Time and page visits will tell.
From USC Annenberg via Editor & Publisher:
“Newspapers continue to be seen as less important at their primary job — being sources of information – according to the latest edition of the nine-year-old Digital Future Project from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism.
“The study found that just 56% Internet users ranked newspapers as important or very important sources of information for them, down from 60% in 2008 — and below the Internet (78%) and television (68%).
“And while newspapers also regard themselves as being in the entertainment business, just 29% of users consider them as important sources of entertainment, down from 32% two years ago, and last among principal media.”