Archive for the 'Journalism in Practice' Category

Stuff journalists like…

With all the doom and gloom in the industry, it’s nice to take a moment for a lighter look at journalists and the stuff they like.

I admit to liking “The Good Old Days,” “Outsmarting Spellcheck,” “Statistics” and “Hometown Heroes,” though I’m not such a big fan of “Citizen Journalism” (as practiced) or “Anonymous Sources.”

Nonetheless, this is fun stuff and definitely worth a read.

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Optimism about print journalism

It’s rare that we read much optimistic news about the future of print journalism, but would-be newspaper writers can take heart from some experts who see good things coming.

According to allheadlinenews.com:

“This has always been a nation of community newspapers, and until just after World War II, it was a nation of family-owned community newspapers,” Susan Brockus, an assistant professor of journalism at California State University, Chico. “The decline of corporate newspapers will create a vacuum, which I hope will again be filled by family-owned, locally-owned publications.”

Her colleague at Chico State, Journalism School Department Chairman Glen Bleske, agrees.

“You must remember that new technology does not always kill old technology. TV was supposed to kill movies. Look at AM radio. Who would have predicted talk radio in the 1960s? Magazines were declared dead in the 1960s,” Bleske said.

Even those who don’t expect newspapers in their traditional form to live on, don’t view the current environment as threatening to the survival of print journalism.

“I think it’s a great time to be in the business,” said Lydia Chavez, a journalism professor at University of California, Berkley. “Our students know coming into graduate school that they are unlikely to work at a traditional newspaper, but they believe in journalism, and so do I. There will be a new model, and they will be the ones who create it.”

[Continue reading Optimism]

Newspapers need to find a way to offer value to their customers and their advertisers, and they need to ensure that they continue to be compensated for the value they provide.

The problem is that there’s no longer value in reprinting AP stories that most subscribers read on the web the night before. And there’s little compensation to be had by giving away the product for free online.

Five NY/NJ dailies to share content

Editor & Publisher is reporting that five large New York/New Jersey newspapers will announce a major content sharing agreement later today:

The new group includes: The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; The Record of Hackensack, N.J.; the Times Union in Albany, N.Y.; The Buffalo (N.Y.) News; and the Daily News of New York, according to sources and a preliminary press release obtained by E&P.

The release, set to be released later today, states: “Five major newspapers in the northeast today announced an agreement to share editorial content.” It later adds that they have “formed the Northeast Consortium, a cooperative arrangement which will enhance each publication’s coverage in the region by exchanging articles, photographs and graphics among the newspapers.”

It states that the consortium will be in full sharing mode by May.

[Continue reading Content Sharing]

NYT leads online newspaper readership

Online readership of the New York Times increased 33 percent from 2007 to 2008, keeping it well ahead of all other online newspapers, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab:

We’ve ranked the top 15 by average monthly unique visitors, according to Nielsen Online, which is the source of all our data (via Editor & Publisher’s monthly reports). Analysis, charts, and fancy interactive graphics will follow later today and tomorrow, but first, let’s see the list:

1. The New York Times
19,503,667 average monthly uniques
Increase of 33% from 2007
Peak month: 21,340,000 uniques in March [Eliot Spitzer]

2. USA Today
10,845,000 average monthly uniques
Increase of 12% from 2007
Peak month: 12,314,000 uniques in January

3. The Washington Post
10,260,167 average monthly uniques
Increase of 19% from 2007
Peak month: 12,956,000 uniques in September

[Continue reading Top 15]

Note that this list only includes newspapers that also have a print edition. The Top 30 Global News Sites list was headed by MSNBC, Yahoo! and CNN.

Journalism could improve in the digital age

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Could the prophesied demise of newspapers actually lead to better journalism?

Author and media watcher Jim Stovall thinks so.  He believes that the paper so many of us old-timers revere has actually been a hindrance to good journalism. And he’d like to see it go away sooner rather than later.

I began to think ahead to the day when won’t be chained to the printing press. And my conclusion was that journalism will be better. Here’s why:

  • More reporting. I don’t necessarily buy the argument that there will be fewer journalists in the new age of digital journalism. The numbers will drop if the current news organization managers (editors and publishers) are in charge. Fortunately, they won’t be. Instead, we’re likely to have managers who recognize that good reporting — and lots of it — is an asset to the organization, not a cost to be cut.
  • More reporters. Students in my experience are wildly excited about this new age of journalism. I am honored to be the faculty adviser to the Tennessee Journalist , the student operated news web site of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee. More than 35 people regularly show up at our weekly staff meeting (only the editors are required to come) and the numbers are growing. The number of our majors has grown from 350 to 450 in just one year.
  • More, different and better ways of telling a story. Newspapers and the people who run them have stifled the development of digital journalism. Slavery to print — as well as simple laziness and stump stupidity — have sucked the energy out of efforts to creatively use this new medium.

[Continue reading Better Journalism]

It is interesting that as more people predict the end of newspapers, more students are signing up to study journalism. In many cases, students no longer dream of a job at newspapers, but see a journalism degree as a path not only to digital journalism but to other career opportunities as well. According to a recent article in the Albany Times-Union:

Dig into the numbers, though, and you’ll find “journalism” can be a misleading label. Most people studying journalism and mass communication aren’t interested in careers as old-school newshounds sniffing out scandals for newspapers, magazines and TV stations.

Some study the news as a liberal arts subject like English, and then head off to law school. Other J-school grads become public relations people who shape the news or advertising people who create the commercials that pay for it.

[Continue reading J-school Is Big]

Journalism is changing. Some might say it’s evolving. However, no matter what happens, journalistic skills — the ability to gather information, analyze that information and present it in an easily digestable format — will remain valuable going foward.

Paying for your news

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Imagine that the music industry, instead of charging to download music as places like iTunes and amazon.com, decided to just give the music away for free online while still trying to make money selling CDs.

A silly idea, I know. But that’s not too different from what newspapers have been doing for well over a decade.

Now newspaper executives and media watchers have begun revisiting the idea of requiring customers to <gasp> actually pay for online news.

It is not an easy road to take. It may not even be possible, given that it has been a long time since the media let the horse out of the corral. But times are tough, and newspapers are desperately seeking a way to make a living in the digital age.

Can they do it?

Dallas Morning News executive A. H. Belo seems to think so, telling the newspaper:  “Two years ago, I would have told you that asking people to pay for content on the Web is a ridiculous notion. Today, I will tell you it’s almost imperative we experiment with it to see what the consumer will respond to.”

Belo isn’t the only media executive warming to the concept, according the Poynter Institute’s Al Tompkins:

This topic has been coming up a lot lately after having been buried for a couple of years. Can online news sites successfully charge for content? Or was, in fact, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, on target when he told Fortune, “the culture of the Internet is that information wants to be free”?

What does it mean that some readers are willing to pay a little to have material distributed to a portable device, such as the Kindle?

[Continue reading Charging for Online News]

The Los Angeles Times is even asking that newspapers receive a special exemption from antitrust laws:

It would allow all U.S. newspaper companies — and others in the English-speaking world, as well as popular broadcast-based sites such as CNN.com — to sit down and negotiate an agreement on how to scale prices and, then, to begin imposing them simultaneously.

[Continue reading Antitrust Exemption]

We have come a long way when the media are seriously consider price fixing, which is usually illegal. Indeed, one wonders how this might alter the media’s perception and coverage of business as a whole. But major newspapers need to figure out something, and they need to do so now.

Scranton death threat against Obama unsupported

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A Secret Service investigation has yet to identify a source to support allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s name was mentioned at a Sarah Palin rally in Scranton this week.

Charges that someone had made the death threat during Tuesday’s rally originally appeared in an article by Dave Singleton of the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Although no other media outlet initially reported hearing the threat, Singleton’s story quickly became  international news, even prompting a rant by liberal commentator Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. The Calgary Sun tied it to Rep. John Murtha’s remark that Pennsylvania was a “racist state.”

The report also prompted an investigation by the Scranton office of the Secret Service, which interviewed more than 20 members of the media and others who attended the event, according to an article in The Times Leader. Singleton was the only one who reported hearing the death threat, though he could not give a description of the man he claimed made the remark.

Times-Tribune Managing Editor Lawrence K. Beaupre said that the newspaper stands by its story: “He heard what he heard. He reported what he heard.”


This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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