Tag Archives: New York Times

Save us, iPad!

A lot of media analysts have had a lot to say about Apple’s newly released iPad, so I thought I might have a go at it as well.

At first, I was very enthusiastic. It’s sleek, cool, and much more portable than my MacBook. But then I read more.

HuffingtonPost released this list of 13 Things You NEED to Know about the iPad last week. I was impressed by the iTunes-like library of books and the hi-res screen that makes reading the book much easier. The iPad, in my mind, trumps the Kindle as an eReader, because it allows for color and pictures.

This, I felt, was great news for newspapers, because it speaks to the problems we all have with reading lengthy content online. The New York Times has partnered with Apple to create an app for the iPad. Given that NYT will soon be adopting a pay plan for online content, this strategy seems like a no-brainer.

Blogger Steve Yelvington made some good points about the detriments of this type of newspaper access last week. Yelvington wrote:

What are you going to do, kill your website and sell your “publication” in the App Store? Nonsense. The iPad doesn’t change the economic equation.

I was skeptical until he brought up another good point: the iPad — like the iPhone & iPod Touch, does not permit the use of Flash. And, as Steve pointed out, most online newspaper ads are constructed in Flash.

Ouch.

Writers at the Nieman Lab pondered the same question: will the iPad save newspapers?

My thought: It might. Just not this version and not quite yet.

I was never in the camp with those who believed the Kindle was the answer. It’s just too limited.

MediaCritic writer Scott Rosenberg wrote that the iPad will appease those who seek traditional newspaper reading capabilities online, but it will not help those who are looking for a new, evolved multimedia product.

Agreed.

Still, I think we might be on the right path. But, like any technology, it will take awhile to catch on and for the bugs to be worked out.

People will like that reading the newspaper is easier on the iPad. And, once the Flash issue is sorted out, newspapers that work with advertisers on a per-click pay system will rejoice at the rejuvenated readership. Where there are readers, there is money to be made.

What they (along with Mark Potts) will look for in the next version of the iPad is the ability to do it all. We want a product that makes reading online better AND that has all the capabilities of a laptop, camera, and communicator rolled into one.

Right now, the iPad falls short of a newspaper-saving device. But it feels like the answer (or one of the answers) is a lot closer now.

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It’s Alive!!!

Check out this interesting article from Columbia Journalism Review touting the resiliency of print newspapers.

This adds to the piling evidence (including a recent study conducted by the Nieman Journalism Lab) that print newspaper readership is long from dead. It also lends some credence to the argument that newspapers, like most other American industries, are victims of the recession.

Most assuredly, there is some truth to that. If someone loses his or her job, the newspaper subscription would probably be high up on the list of non-essentials fingered for cancellation. Also, when everyone is affected, businesses can’t afford to advertise.

Newspaper shareholders, like John Rogers Jr., seem to think the end of the recession will signal renewed life at newspapers. Others, like Alan Mutter, aren’t so optimistic.

I think the author of the CJR piece, Ryan Chittum, makes several excellent points. This quote is probably the article’s central thesis:

But this is fifteen years into the age of the online newspaper—and going on a decade into the high-speed Internet era—and you can spin it a couple of ways: It points to the surprising resiliency of print, or it signals the pitiful job newspapers have done online.

Editor & Publisher regularly publishes statistics regarding online newspaper readership. June was a tough month for online newspapers, with year-to-year readership at some prominent papers (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.) either down or stagnant.

My feelings about all this are bittersweet. Part of me is cheering the continued, albeit more modest, success of print products. The other part of me knows that online journalism is the future, and we are already screwing it up (in ways outlined in this UMass Journalism Professors Blog post).

I take solace in the fact that, if nothing else, this is proof that a legacy print product of some kind will be around for awhile. As one of my readers posted in a comment last week, “Sunday morning with coffee and a paper sounds good to me.” (Thanks, Melissa!)

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Innovation = Moving On

Lending some credence to my non-profit argument from yesterday: NYT considers foundation funding for news.

From the Poynter article:

Whatever you call it, what’s happening spotlights an important step in how we’ll pay for the news: finding some workable alternatives to news organizations shelling out big bucks required to cover important news in far-away places.

They’re thinking of borrowing ideas from Spot.us, a unique new site that is raising money from readers to send its reporters overseas to cover important stories.

There are so many experts who don’t believe people will pay for the news, like this one criticizing micropayments and this one featuring complete disbelief that people will ever pay for news.

I agree, to a certain extent, that newspaper subscribership will not work the same online as it did with a print product. However, I think people are willing to fork over money for news if the newspaper includes the reader in the product.

For instance, news sites like Voice of San Diego ask readers to contribute money for specific items. For instance, $1,000 buys a reporter a laptop. And, clearly, Spot.us is having luck asking readers to pay for the stories they want done.

Newspaper editors need to take innovation seriously. It doesn’t mean the recycling of old ideas (subscribing to newspapers); it means the generation of new ideas for a new, evolving audience.

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New York Times — A Bargain

The New York Times is toying with the idea of charging $5 per month for access to its online stories and packages. I’m with Joshua Benton on this one: sign me up!

They’re going about this all right. NYT brains have distributed a survey to print customers asking what is fair and what they would be willing to pay for online content (see story here). For the product NTY puts out, $5 a month is the bargain of a lifetime and a price people would surely pay.

My only concern (and theirs, too) is what to charge print subscribers. Is it fair to ask them to pay more for content when they are among the lessening loyal print readers? I’ll be curious to see how the print people respond.

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