Monthly Archives: June 2009

YouTube Goes Legit

Check out this article from Poynter.org about YouTube’s new citizen journalism center. There are some interesting instructional videos from journalists, and the new platform offers users the opportunity to view legitimate news without sifting through videos of cats playing the keyboard.

How will this rival the videos being produced for newspaper Web sites? I think it will depend on how they are being used. Some news sites, such as http://www.jacksonville.com, allow dopey, pointless videos like this to dilute the quality of the video pool, making videos like this, from the San Diego Union-Tribune, harder to find.

Too many newspaper videos are trying to be like TV news videos. We need to make sure newspaper videos are distinct and are worth watching. Perhaps this YouTube playform will help us to practice the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) when it comes to video journalism.

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Newspaper PR

Some great statistics from a recent Newspaper Association of America piece by Mort Goldstrom:

ß People still read, respect and even treasure reading
newspapers.  Scarborough Research reports that more
than 100 million adults read a printed newspaper on
an average weekday (and more than 115 million on
Sunday).  Compare that to 94 million that watch the
Super Bowl, 23 million who have viewed American Idol
and 64 million who typically watch the late local news.

ß Newspaper readership in the top 50 markets
has declined about 6 percent in the past five years
(according to Scarborough).  Compare that to a 10
percent decline in prime time audience and a 6 percent
decline in early evening local TV news in 2007 alone.

ß 62 percent of 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds
read a newspaper in an average week. 64 percent and
66 percent, respectively, visited a newspaper Web site
in the past seven days. So much for the notion that
younger people don’t read newspapers.

ß A recent poll by independent researcher Doug
Schoen showed that 75 percent of adults and 84 percent
of “elites” read newspapers everyday or several times
a week to inform them about the election.  More
than half agreed that newspapers provided definitive
information that guided both the networks and cable
stations in reporting the news.

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The Future of San Diego

What is happening in San Diego right now is representative of newspaper battles happening all over the world. We have a once dominating, now faltering, traitional newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, pitted against a Web-only venture that shares its ad revenues with the writers and a non-profit leaning heavily on contributors for basic supplies.

This battle for readers’ attention, introduced this month in a Forbes article, is something the newspaper industry needs to keep a close eye on.

The for-profit Web model, the San Diego News Network (SDNN), is especially interesting. Reporters whose stories generate the most traffic get a cut of the advertising. It’s a big incentive, considering the ad income will comprise 80 percent of their salaries.

But what does this mean for journalism? It can’t be good.

If journalists are more interested in tracking down the stories that draw Web clicks (i.e., sex, scandals and celebrities), who will be monitoring the events that really matter and impact peoples’ lives (i.e. destruction of the environment, school board races, etc.)?

In theory, this strategy would also encourage the reporters to get more stories published in a shorter period of time. If this is the case, shoddy reporting and inaccuracies are bound to come up.

Still, I like the notion of reporters having a stake in their stories and the interest they generate. I’m going to reserve judgment until I see what becomes of this start-up.

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Good Read

My idol in the field of new media research, Jane Singer, just won an AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) contest asking contestants to describe the future of journalism. As always, she did not disappoint.

It’s a really good read: Bird’s-eye View

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Wicked Smart

Boston.com recently announced the launch of several new community Web sites, called “Your Town” (see article here). The sites cater to small comunities, and they feature a blend of editorial and community-contributed content.

“You can’t rely just on user-generated content,” said Bob Kempf, vice president, product and technology at Boston.com..

These sites truly are the wave of the future. It is personal news featuring things that affect me personally, and I, the reader, have a say in it.

Here’s the best part:

“Those four sites average each month roughly 100,000 page views — double the forecasted estimate.”

And more exciting still:

“Kempf said that on average ads cost $250 to $300 per month and can be clustered and targeted geographically. More than half the advertisers — especially the small ones — are new to the Boston Globe. Kempf declined to say how much ad revenue Your Town has generated thus far, but said they were ahead of their revenue projections.”

This is journalism WORKING! It is so refreshing to see someone succeeding at this online venture. Boston.com seems to understand what the public really wants from their Internet news, and they are delivering it with results no one else in the industry can claim.

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