Posts Tagged newspaper industry

September 3 News Update

We covered a lot of ground in class on Wed.  An article from Smashing Magazine talked about How Simple Web Design Helps Your Business.  It even mentioned a site that Sam talked about on our first day of class, Etsy.  Main points, keep sites simple, no clutter, leave out unrelated products, reduce # of columns.  And, as always, pictures are worth a thousand, it had some nice screenshot examples.  Good way to kick off a Web Design course.

Soft Economy Speeds Newspaper Cuts basically aggregated what has been going on in the newspaper industry for the past several years.  Starting with the McClatchy layoffs and others, the article blames the reduction in ad revenue for the cutbacks. And, unlike other industries, most don’t expect a recovery, due to intense competition from other media, mainly the Internet. The most astute comments added that the reason for cutbacks is for retooling the organization.  “They are making a lot of these cuts up front so they can be in a position to turn the organization around,” said Randy Bennett, senior VP of the Newspaper Association of America. He added that some companies were likely to start hiring again, but “they’ll likely need employees with different skills from the staffers they’re letting go now.” This is why EVERY company goes through layoffs. Nobody shrinks to stay small.

Pretty interesting that Tom Anderson was a hacker in the 80s (MySpace Cofounder Tom Anderson Was A Real Life “WarGames” Hacker in 1980s). I didn’t know he was that old.  Apparently, he got in trouble with the feds when he was 14.

Of course, we talked about Chrome. Scott presented it, had the class read the Google comic introducing it (produced by comic guru Scott McCloud).  Won’t be relevant until Mac users can get it.  Looks like theirs already an issue in their Terms of Service that has to be removed. They reserve the right to do what they want with anything made in the browser.  Supposedly, it was a mistake of using a common EULA.

In a bold move, several shows will be premiered on Hulu BEFORE regular television (Hulu Launches Fall Lineup, Premieres Before TV Broadcast), hoping to increase Internet traffic on the video site.

And, finally, from Web Strategy, Social Marketing from Democrats and Republicans looks at trends amongs social media users in the parties.  In all cases, Democrats were more engaged in social media.  Could be due to younger age demographic of Democrats, could be due to McCain’s slow entry with McCainSpace.  Will it have ramifications for the election?

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Newspapers are just paper…

Howard Kurtz wrote an article in today’s Washington Post lamenting the recent layoffs in the newspaper industry (Post Buyouts Come With an Emotional Cost, May 26, 2008).  In any company in any industry, it is sad to consider the ramifications of layoffs and downsizing. These are our friends and colleagues, people we respect, admire, and enjoy. I’ve been there, trust me. But, Kurtz writes as if to say “you’ll be sorry.”  “If people want to tune out the news, no one can compel them to change their habits. We can be smarter, faster and jazzier in providing information, but we can’t force-feed the stuff. If newspapers wither and die, it will be in part because the next generation blew us off in favor of Xbox and Wii and full-length movies on their iPods.” Basically, those who abandoned newspapers for Wii and Xbox and YouTube will get everything they have coming to them when they wake up one day uninformed.

Kurtz writes “There isn’t a Web site around that can produce the probing work, such as the exposé of shoddy conditions at the Army’s Walter Reed Medical Center, that won The Post six Pulitzer Prizes this year.”  Yes there is.  It’s WashingtonPost.com .  Granted, Web publications haven’t quite figured out the revenue model yet, but they will.  The Web offers so many efficiencies and economies of scale in terms of production and distribution, and with the millions of eyeballs out there as potential users, don’t tell me there is no way to make money other than to charge 50 cents per paper.  People want information. That is clear.  They just want information that is interesting and relevant and delivered to them most efficiently.  It is much easier for me to get up, turn on my computer, and read 50 RSS feeds than it is for me to subscribe to 50 papers or go down to the corner newsstand and read everything there. Plus I get opinion, diversity, and an opportunity to engage.  I’m the customer, meet my needs.  Granted, I then have the responsibility of becoming media literate, but that’s nothing new. Remember, “don’t believe everything you read or hear on TV.”

It’s like saying please drive our cars from NY to LA because we in the auto industry are good, hard-working people, and we matter.  Don’t abandon us for those new-fangled airplanes just because they can get you there faster.

The Post’s new publisher Katharine Weymouth says “The ways in which we break news and tell stories will continue to evolve and change as technology and readers’ habits evolve and change. The challenge is at once daunting and thrilling: reinventing the newspaper — in some senses, the news itself — for a new century.”  Just like any other industry faced with increased competition and technological breakthroughs, the newspaper industry is going to change.  Journalists put their lives into their jobs. They perform a function that is critical to our democracy. And that is probably why they are taking things so personally. But, remember, it’s just business.

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