Optimism for a change

Jim Stovall at JProf is an optimist when it comes to the decline of newspapers and the rise of new news media.

His recent post tells us that we can expect the new crop of editors and publishers to recognize that news is decentralized and that it will have to respect its audience more if it wants to attract an audience in the digital age.

He also writes that journalism will improve, as the need for quality reporting and writing will only improve when the market become saturated with thousands of competing news sites.

It’s refreshing to hear an optimist, but then again, Stovall doesn’t even approach the topic of money in this particular post. How a news organization will pay for itself remains a question firmly up in the air, if that can even be a phrase.

The 24/7 newsroom in a small city

I’ve been reading articles lately, especially one by Steve Yelvington, that say that once a Web-focused newsroom wakes up to the idea that news happens day and night, there’s no going back.

But I wonder whether that is true for newspapers in small cities. I know for a fact that my local 18,000-circulation paper is starting to think about the Web as its primary source of news; the newsroom is taking its first steps anyhow.

Say that my paper does become Web-centric, posting stories online as they are done and using the print version as a digest of all the online work done the previous day. Can this work in a city of this size, where offices actually close at 5 p.m. and there just aren’t any sources to talk to much after nightfall?

In other words, can the 24/7 newsroom operate in a small city that doesn’t really operate 24/7? Is there any point to a 24/7 newsroom in that city? Is there any point to a Web-centric newsroom — the benefit of which is quick dissemination of news — in such a city?

No news is bad news

I just read James Warren’s article in The Atlantic, “When No News is Bad News,” and I’m a little inspired and depressed at the same time. Why should that be? Warren’s article hasn’t presented me with any information I didn’t know already. Newspapers are in trouble and can’t find a business model to save themselves, yet the work journalists do is vital to public safety and key to keeping our governments honest.

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Langeveld: Newspaper downturn caused by shift in American interests, not by Web

Martin Langeveld at the Nieman Journalism Lab writes that the real cause of the woes facing the newspaper industry is not the Web. Rather, it is the shifting and expanding American attention span.

Langeveld writes that the heyday of newspapers coincided with periods of the 20th century in which Americans were united in their passions and interests — the Great Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. But the decades after have seen a boom in the number of luxuries and options available to Americans. Instead of every citizen focusing on the same issues, our range of interests has exploded.

It’s no wonder, then, that we can’t get more people to read the newspaper these days; there’s just not enough column inches to appeal to everyone.

The Web, Langeveld says, only accelerated this death spiral for the industry. It did not cause the spiral in the first place.

His advice to the news industry:

To have even a chance of survival, the mindset of the industry needs to become: We are in the business of publishing information content continuously on our web sites; every 24 hours (for now, and this may ultimately change to once or twice weekly) we gather some of that information into a printed product and distribute it, but our business is focused on and driven by our online operations.

White House Web site uses Creative Commons license

From http://www.whitehouse.gov/copyright/

Pursuant to federal law, government-produced materials appearing on this site are not copyright protected. The United States Government may receive and hold copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Good for the Creative Commons!

iTunes not a money maker and wouldn’t be for news

The other day, I spent a good half an hour jotting down my idea as to what an “iTunes for news” would really look like. Now, after reading a post by Pat Thornton, I’m starting to think I wasted my time.

Thornton points out that Apple has stated that iTunes doesn’t turn a huge profit. The program and the store serve a larger purpose: to get people to buy iPods, a produce on which Apple makes a bigger profit.

So we could assume that a similar online store model for journalism would also not turn much of a profit. So why do it? What about the economic side of journalism is it going to save? What more profitable product will the iTunes for news drive consumers to buy?

Also, a new thought, with most of the country’s journalism collected in one, easy to search spot, censorship would become damnably easy. Not good for the health of a democracy, if you ask me.